Béatrice Longuenesse and Ned Block Vide Kant

Cosmos and History 17 (1):405-452 (2021)
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Understanding, for Kant, does not intuit, and intuition—which involves empirical information, i.e., sense-data—does not entail thinking. What is crucial to Kant’s famous claim that intuitions without concepts are blind and concepts without intuitions are empty is the idea that we have no knowledge unless we combine concepts with intuition. Although concepts and intuition are radically separated mental powers, without a way of bringing them together (i.e., synthesis) there is no knowledge for Kant. Thus Kant’s metaphysical-scientific dualism: (scientific) knowledge is limited to the world of phenomena—the world of appearance—while the thing-in-itself is unknowable because there is no intuition that can correspond to the it. This paper sets to cull Béatrice Longuenesse’s recent work on the first-person ‘I’ and put forth a novel Kantian approach to the first-person reference of mental states, working in the tradition of P.F. Strawson, Rudolf Carnap, and Wilfrid Sellars, while offering an empirical study of deafferentation to ground the thesis that the binding of representations is separate from phenomenal consciousness. Accordingly, we stake a kind of self-consciousness vis-à-vis the Fundamental Reference-Rule qua apperception that, while intimately connected to consciousness of one’s own body, apperception is nevertheless distinct from it and is, moreover, the condition for any use of ‘I’. We compliment neuroscientist Oliver Sacks’ research with Ned Block’s recent work on “no-post‐perceptual cognition” and attentional variation to couch Kant’s schema in perceptual psychology. We navigate Kant’s work on intuitions (viz. sensation, perception, and the empirical side of the cognitive faculties) and indirect realism/weak representationism first via Sellars’ naturalization of Kant’s inaccessible thing-in-itself, before challenging Sellars’ functionalist and inferentialist conception of perception and discursive intentionality. We ultimately endeavor to conceptualize the limit-conditions regarding our having reportable knowledge about our access to percepts and concepts.

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