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Kant's Analysis of the Paralogism of Rational Psychology in Critique of Pure Reason Edition B

  • J. D. G. Evans (a1)
Extract

One third of the transcendental dialectic in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is devoted to demolishing the pseudo-science of rational psychology. In this part of his work Kant attacks the idea that there is an ultimate subject of experience — the ‘I’ or Self — which can only be investigated and understood intellectually. The belief that such a study is possible is natural to human reason; but it is based on demonstrable error. Kant tries to exorcize our minds from falling prey to this mistake.

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Notes

1 Critique of Pure Reason, A340–3/B398–401.

2 Of modern discussions of Kant's argument, the one which approaches closest to my own is Kitcher, Patricia, Kant's Transcendental Psychology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), esp. pp. 181–94. Much less satisfactory is Brook, Andrew, Kant and the Mind (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 113–14.Bennett, Jonathan, Kant's Dialectic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974), pp. 72–6, indicates a preference for Kant's A edition version of this material over the B edition, but he does not give adequate reason for this unlikely strategy.

3 Critique of Pure Reason, B164, A189–91/B234–6; cf. Strawson, P. F., The Bounds of Sense (London: Methuen, 1966), pp. 255–6.

4 Bennett, J., ‘The simplicity of the soul’, Journal of Philosophy, 64 (1967), 648–60.

5 See further Evans, J. D. G., ‘The codification of false refutations in Aristotle's De Sophisticis Elenchis’, Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society, 21 (1975), 4252.

6 Kant's brief comments on the sophisma figurae dictionis in the Hechsel Logic, pp. 110–11, and the Jäsche Logic, section 90 (Young, J. M., Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 410, 628) are sound and consistent with what he says here in the Critique of Pure Reason.

7 For further discussion of these conceptual points, see Anscombe, G. E. M., ‘The intentionality of sensation’, in Butler, R. J. (ed.), Analytical Philosophy: Second Series (Oxford: Blackwell, 1968), pp. 158–80. I have developed these ideas much further in Evans, J. D. G., ‘Souls, attunements and variation in degree: Phaedo 93—4’, International Philosophical Quarterly, 34 (1994), 277–87, and ‘Platonic arguments’, Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume, 70 (1996), 177–93.

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Kantian Review
  • ISSN: 1369-4154
  • EISSN: 2044-2394
  • URL: /core/journals/kantian-review
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