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On page 86, Kant says:

If there did not exist in you a power of a priori intuition; and if that subjective condition were not also at the same time, as regards its form, the universal a priori condition under which alone the object of this outer intuition is itself possible; if the object (the triangle) were something in itself, apart from any relation to you, the subject, how could you say that what necessarily exist in you as subjective conditions for the construction of a triangle, must of necessity belong to the triangle itself? You could not then add anything new (the figure) to your concepts (of three lines) as something which must necessarily be met with in the object, since this object is [on that view] given antecedently to your knowledge, and not by means of it. If, therefore, space (and the same is true of time) were not merely a form of your intuition, containing conditions a priori, under which alone things can be outer objects to you, and without which subjective conditions outer objects are in themselves nothing, you could not in regard to outer objects determine anything whatsoever in an a priori and synthetic manner.

Please explain the argument Kant is presenting in the passage above.

Does this constitute a successful argument against the “restriction view” (which was discussed in class)? Why or why not?

Does this constitute a successful argument against the “neglected alternative” more generally (which was also discussed in class)? Why or why not?

Professor Warren
Philosophy 178
Spring 2021
Assignment #3
On page 86, Kant says:
If there did not exist in you a power of a priori intuition; and if that subjective condition
were not also at the same time, as regards its form, the universal a priori condition under
which alone the object of this outer intuition is itself possible; if the object (the triangle)
were something in itself, apart from any relation to you, the subject, how could you say
that what necessarily exist in you as subjective conditions for the construction of a
triangle, must of necessity belong to the triangle itself? You could not then add anything
new (the figure) to your concepts (of three lines) as something which must necessarily be
met with in the object, since this object is [on that view] given antecedently to your
knowledge, and not by means of it. If, therefore, space (and the same is true of time) were
not merely a form of your intuition, containing conditions a priori, under which alone
things can be outer objects to you, and without which subjective conditions outer objects
are in themselves nothing, you could not in regard to outer objects determine anything
whatsoever in an a priori and synthetic manner.
Please explain the argument Kant is presenting in the passage above.
Does this constitute a successful argument against the “restriction view” (which was
discussed in class)? Why or why not?
Does this constitute a successful argument against the “neglected alternative” more
generally (which was also discussed in class)? Why or why not?
The paper should be 5 pages long, double-spaced.
The papers are due on Wednesday, April 21 at noon.
Please submit this assignment as a pdf file to our bCourses site. To do this, begin by
clicking on the Assignments link in the Course Navigation menu.
Philosophy 178
Professor Warren
More on NS:
The Neglected Alternative
The standard formulation of an alternative that Kant is thought to have neglected:
That (i) space is a form of sensibility, but also (ii) space is a feature of things in themselves.
Perhaps this is a better formulation of the neglected alternative:
that (i) space is a form of sensibility, but also (ii) things in themselves can be spatial (i.e., can have spatial
properties and relations).
[ Note that (ii) is the negation of NS.]
So if we can’t rule out the neglected alternative, we can’t establish NS.
How does Kant rule out the “neglected alternative”? (Doing so is essential to establishing NS.)
There is a range of ways of formulating the neglected alternative.
They differ in what they put for the (i) clause [in the standard formulation (above), (i) says “space is a form of
sensibility”.]
Another version or formulation of the neglected alternative:
(i) we represent objects as spatial because of the form sensibility has,
but also (ii) spatiality is a feature of things in themselves.
In general we will call the (i) clause: the “form of sensibility clause.” A desideratum on any version of the
(i) clause: It should be something that Kant can plausibly be said to have argued for.
This desideratum is satisfied for this version of the form of sensibility clause:
(i) we represent objects as spatial because of the form sensibility has
[Paton’s view about the neglected alternative: The neglected alternative is not an alternative worth taking
seriously. It is an “empty” possibility; a “groundless” possibility. Paton’s version of the form of sensibility
clause is “space and time as known to us are entirely due to nature of our sensibility.” This is close to the
version of (i) presented just above. (See Paton, K’s Met. of Exper., vol.1, p.180)]
There are different versions of the alternative Kant is thought to have neglected, depending on how we interpret
(i) space is a form of sensibility, that is, depending on what version of the form of sensibility clause we use.
We have not yet come up with a version of (i) which (a) satisfies the desideratum and (b) entails NS. Such a
version of (i) is what we would need to show us how Kant rules out the neglected alternative.
The Restriction View (This is Guyer’s label.)
The restriction view gives us one version of the neglected alternative.
Though it is just one version of the neglected alternative, it is perhaps the only way of specifying the neglected
alternative that makes it more than a “merely logical possibility.”
Suppose we just understand the relation between the form of sensibility and the objects known through
sensibility as follows. Sensibility has a form F just means:
If an object is given through sensibility, that object must have a property F (e.g., spatiality)
i.e., Necessarily [if x is an object given through sensibility, then x is F (e.g., spatial)]
Being F is a necessary condition on being given through sensibility.
So, on the restriction view, the form of sensibility clause [i.e., clause (i)] is just:
Being spatial is a necessary condition on being given through sensible intuition.
This is how (i) is interpreted on the restriction view. It gives us one version of the neglected alternative.
(But remember: We will be going on to reject the restriction view as inadequate to account for the role Kant
argues the form of sensibility is supposed to play.)
Now it is important to realize that, if (i) is interpreted in this way, then claim (i), by itself, does not rule out
claim (ii) things in themselves can be spatial.
Moreover, the restriction view doesn’t rule out that knowledge of x through sensibility is knowledge of how it is
in itself. And it doesn’t rule out that one is given in sensibility the spatial properties and relations of things in
themselves.
For it merely says that being spatial is a necessary condition on being given in sensibility. And if that is all that
we are saying, then something could still have had that property (being spatial) independent of whether or not it
is given in sensibility and in this way known.
Say that, of the things as they are in themselves, some are F and some are not.
All that (i) would mean under the restriction view is that only those things in themselves which happen to be F’s
can be given in sensibility.
Imagine a filter like a board with cut-out holes of a given shape, that allows triangular objects to pass through but
not circular or square objects. I.e., it is a nec’y condition on getting through the filter that an object is triangular.
But this does not mean that it is triangular only in relation to the filter.
Rather we want to say that it is triangular independent of its relation to the filter, and independent of the
question of whether it has passed through the filter or not. The filter is just a selection device.
Similarly, on this analogy, some things in themselves could be spatial, and as a result of this they could be
intuited. Sensibility just functions as a selection device. This would be a case in which spatiality is a form of
sensibility but can also be a property of things in themselves. It is compatible with the idea that when we
sensibly intuit a spatial thing, it is the spatial features of a thing in itself that we are given. And here we could
be said to know (through sensibility) certain things as they are in themselves.
So if all that Kant has established is a “restriction view,” i.e., that spatiality is a necessary condition on being
sensed, then the version of the “neglected alternative” it provides is not inconsistent, and is compatible with
things in themselves being spatial, thus compatible with denying NS.
However, as Guyer and others have argued, Kant’s view of the form of sensibility is not just that it gives
necessary conditions on being sensibly intuited.
Bringing in the section 8.I passage
Don’t assume that by definition: 1) things in themselves cannot be given through the senses.
Don’t assume that by definition: 2) things in themselves do not satisfy the conditions of sensibility.
Don’t assume that by definition: 3) things in themselves are unknowable.
Remember that Kant thinks he’s establishing these three claims in the “Aesthetic” by arguments from the
possibility of pure cognition.
From section 8.I:
Generally the form of the argument is:
If a spatial object were a thing in itself, then we could not X
We can X
Therefore, things in themselves are not spatial.
(where X is indicated in [3], [4], and [6], below.
If there did not exist in you a power of a priori intuition;
[A power of a priori intuition is a cognitive power, a component of our power of sensibility; it belongs to the
cognizing subject; in that sense it is a subjective condition.]
And [1] if that subjective condition were not also at the same time, as regards its form, the universal a priori
condition under which alone the object of this outer intuition is itself possible;
[= if the form of sensibility were not a cond’n of the possibility of the object (the triangle) of this outer intuition]
[2] if the object (the triangle) were something in itself, apart from any relation to you, the subject,
[= if the object (the triangle) were a thing in itself]
[3] how could you say that what necessarily exist in you as subjective conditions for the construction of a
triangle, must of necessity belong to the triangle itself?
[= then you could not say that what necessarily exist in you as subjective conditions for the construction of a
triangle, must of necessity belong to the triangle itself,] [Also notice that Kant here mentions “subjective
conditions for the construction of a triangle.” That will be important in what follows.]
[4]You could not then add anything new (the figure) to your concepts (of three lines) as something which must
necessarily be met with in the object, since this object is [on that view] given antecedently to your knowledge,
and not by means of it.
[= then you could not then anything new to your concepts, as something which must necessarily be met with in
the object.]
[5] If, therefore, space (and the same is true of time) were not merely a form of your intuition, containing
conditions a priori, under which alone things can be outer objects to you, and without which subjective
conditions outer objects are in themselves nothing, [6] you could not in regard to outer objects determine
anything whatsoever in an a priori and synthetic manner.
[= If, therefore, space were not merely a form of your outer sensibility, you could not in regard to outer objects
determine anything whatsoever in an a priori and synthetic manner.]
Kant is considering the proposition: given three lines, a triangle is possible.
I will focus on the proposition: All triangles must have internal angles summing to 180º.
What do geometers conclude from a geometrical demonstration?
They say, for example: All triangles must have internal angles summing to 180º
(That is, all triangles without any possible exception have internal angles summing to 180º)
Kant might express this by saying that there is a necessary connection between being triangular and having
internal angles summing to 180º.
They aren’t just making a claim like:
All triangles that are given through sensible intuition must have internal angles summing to 180º
In what the geometers say, there’s no mention of a further property concerning us, like: x is given in sensible intuition.
They are making a claim about all triangles, (not merely about all triangles that are given through sensible intuition).
In the argument of this passage, we take the geometer’s claim at face-value.
Moreover, we can say that such geometrical claims constitute knowledge.
That is, we know that all triangles must have internal angles summing to 180º
This is an example in which we add something new [e.g. the predicate: having internal angles summing to 180º],
“as something which must necessarily be met in the object, [e.g., in the triangle].”
This is an example in which we “determine [a triangle] in an a priori and synthetic manner.”
That is, we are justified in adding “something new …”; we are justified in determining a triangle “in an a priori
and synthetic manner.” This is what is meant by “we can” in the second premise above: “We can X.”
E.g., we can X = we are justified in adding something new [e.g. the predicate: having internal angles summing
to 180º], “as something which must necessarily be met in the object, [e.g., in the triangle].
Philosophy 178
Professor Warren
More on NS (con’d)
In order to see why the restriction view is inadequate as an account of role Kant assigns to the form of sensibility,
Guyer referred us to the argument in section 8.I of the Critique.
It will not be enough that whatever is a triangle must also have certain further properties (e.g., the angle-sum
property) if it is to be given in sensibility. (That’s what the restriction view would claim.)
Rather, for Kant, the role of the form of sensibility must be such that it accounts for:
whatever is a triangle must have these other properties [PERIOD].
[I will call the property of having internal angles summing to 180 º “the angle-sum property.”]
The restriction view could at most tell us that all triangles that are sensibly intuited must have these properties.
It wouldn’t tell us that all triangles (whether or not they are sensibly intuited) must have these properties.
But this latter claim is precisely what we do know (taking the geometer’s claim at face-value).
Thus, we couldn’t have knowledge of a necessary claim about triangles, a claim that,
necessarily, all triangles have these properties (e.g., the angle-sum property).
The restriction view says that the form of sensibility merely gives us necessary conditions on being intuited.
It says that sensibility merely “selects” for those triangles that have the angle-sum property.
For example, the restriction view can account for the necessity involved in a claim like:
â–¡(if x is given in sensibility, then [if x is a triangle, then x has angle-sum property]) [“â–¡” = “necessarily”]
But, according to the passage from 8.I, Kant thinks that the role of the form of sensibility accounts, at least in
part, for the necessity involved in a claim like:
â–¡(if x is a triangle, then x has angle-sum property)
In other words Kant is taking the geometrician’s claim at face-value.
The restriction view can account for the necessity involved in a claim like:
â–¡(if x is given in sensibility, then [if x is a triangle, then x has angle-sum property])
But note that this is equivalent to:
â–¡(if x is a triangle, then [if x is given in sensibility, then x has angle-sum property])
That would just be to say that, of all the triangles, the ones that can be given in sensibility have the angle-sum
property. (And that would be compatible with there being triangles that don’t have the angle-sum property. It
doesn’t account for the claim that all triangles have this property.)
Kant’s question in 8.I is:
How could we infer that just because some property (conformity to the form of sensibility) is a subjective
condition on representing triangles it is also an objective condition on the triangles themselves?
His answer is: Only because to be a triangle is (in part) to be something whose general character depends on the
way we are. (I.e., only because to be a triangle is (in part) to be something whose general character depends on
the form our sensibility has.)
This is meant to show that the restriction view of the role of the form of sensibility is not by itself adequate.
The restriction view does not claim that the character of the objects intuited (or the objects known) is due to the
character of our sensibility.
It can at most claim that the only objects we can be given through sensibility must satisfy conditions derived from
the character of our sensibility.
What view of the form of sensibility, Guyer asks, can account for this? It is what he calls an “imposition view”
of the role of the form of sensibility. The form is “imposed” by us.
In virtue of having a sensibility with a certain form, we “impose” spatiality on our sensible representations,
thereby accounting for the fact that geometrical representations hold of appearances.
Problems for Guyer’s interpretation:
There are many questions we might ask about how the “imposition” is supposed to work. But let’s put them
aside for now.
Let’s grant that the restriction view has been shown to be inadequate as an account of the role Kant assigns to the
form of sensibility.
Let’s consider a version of the neglected alternative in which the form of sensibility clause is given by the
imposition view of the form of sensibility. Can this version of the neglected alternative be ruled out? If we accept
the imposition view, have we shown that things in themselves are non-spatial (NS) ?
How has it been shown, for example, that things in themselves cannot be triangular?
If we grant that we “impose” spatiality on our representations, does that show that things in themselves are not
spatial? Is it not possible (i) that we impose spatiality on our representations thereby ensuring the spatiality and
necessary conformity to geometry of (outer) appearances, and (ii) that things in themselves could be spatial too.
That is, isn’t a version of the neglected alternative still possible?
At this point Guyer, might want to defend NS by appealing to Paton’s idea that this is merely an “empty” or
“groundless” possibility. However, Guyer seems to think he can argue for NS without appealing to Paton’s idea.
It is not clear how to understand that argument. Perhaps the following line of thought will work. (Perhaps it is
something like what Guyer had in mind.)
Guyer interprets 8.I as saying that,
if we know that all triangles must have the angle-sum property, then things in themselves are not triangular.
But assuming that all triangles must have the angle-sum property, aren’t there two options open?
(A) things in themselves are not triangular, or
(B) things in themselves can be triangular, but those that are triangular must have the angle-sum property.
A claim like (A) might lead us to NS.
But at this point we only have the weaker claim: (A) or (B). We don’t have claim (A) until we can rule out (B).
What grounds could there be to reject (B)?
All triangles must have the angle-sum property.
Assume that a thing in itself were triangular.
Therefore, this triangular thing in itself must have the angle-sum property.
That is, there is a necessary connection between being a triangle and having the angle-sum property, even in
things in themselves.
One could ask how there could exist such a necessary connection between these two properties in a thing in itself.
But that doesn’t yet amount to a reason for denying that there couldn’t be such a connection. So it doesn’t yet
amount to a reason for rejecting (B).
But Kant has more that he can appeal to than the mere existence of a necessary connection between being a
triangle and having the angle-sum property. Perhaps this “more” will give him reason to reject (B).
He can appeal to the stronger claim that we know why all triangles must have the angle-sum property. And Kant
could claim that we know it on precisely the grounds that the geometers appeal to when they prove the claim in
ways that depend on geometrical construction. And that would be so even if the triangle were a thing in itself.
So assuming that a thing in itself were triangular, it would not just be true that this property had a necessary
connection to the angle-sum property, but also we would know of this triangular thing in itself why it necessarily
had the angle-sum property. Moreover we would know this on precisely those grounds that the geometers
present in their proofs. So it’s not just a matter of there being this necessary connection in things in themselves.
It’s that we would know why this connection must hold. So Kant will think that, if a thing in itself were
triangular, he can infer that we could know why things in themselves that are triangular must have the angle-sum
property, and in the very same way that the geometer demonstrates it.
This wouldn’t just be known by analyzing the concepts of triangularity and of the angle-sum property. We know
it by being guided by the same general conditions and constraints that govern the geometer’s demonstration by
means of construction. But according to Kant, these conditions and constraints have their source in the form of
our sensibility. Remember that in the passage from section 8.I, Kant said the form of sensibility provided
“subjective conditions for the construction of a triangle.” These general conditions and constraints tell us what
we can and what we cannot construct from what (like the Euclidean postulates).
We know that we can appeal to these general conditions and constraints in proving claims about appearances,
because appearances are things whose general character depends on the general character of our cognitive
faculties. And if we know why any triangle must have the angle-sum property, we must know that this triangle
satisfies these conditions and constraints. We cannot know that these same constraints and conditions hold of
things in themselves.
In particular, just knowing the thing falls under the concept “triangle” doesn’t by itself tell us that it satisfies these
conditions and constraints. Yet if we don’t know this, then we also couldn’t know why a triangular thing in itself
must have the angle-sum property. So, granting that we know why all triangles have the angle-sum property, claim
(B) must be false. And assuming that all triangles must have the angle-sum property, and that we know why (in
the same way the geometer do), this means that things in themselves cannot be triangular, which is claim (A).
To reiterate: Assume that the geometer’s demonstration allows us to know why any triangle has the angle sum
property. Now, say that a thing in itself could be triangular. Then we would know why that triangular thing in itself
has the angle-sum property. If we know why a triangular thing in itself has the angle-sum property, then we would
have to know that it satisfies certain conditions and constraints. But we cannot know that a triangular thing in
itself satisfies these constraints and conditions. Therefore, granting the initial assumption, a thing in itself could
not be triangular.
The problem with (B) is not so much that it would mean that there are necessary connections in things in
themselves; the problem is that it would mean that we would have knowledge of things in themselves (knowledge
that they satisfy certain constraints and conditions) that we don’t have.

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