The Unity of Cognition and the Subjectivist vs. “Transformative” Approaches to the B-Deduction—Comments on James Conant


JAMES CONANT | ‘Why Kant is not a Kantian’ — Philosophical Topics 44(1) (2016): 75–125 / “Die Einheit des Erkenntnisvermögens bei Kant” —In A. Kern & C. Kietzmann, Selbstbewusstes Leben. Texte zu einer transformativen Theorie der menschlichen Subjektivität, pp. 229–69 | Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2017 / ‘Kant’s Critique of the Layer-Cake Conception of Human Mindedness in the B Deduction’—In J. O’Shea (ed.), Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: A Critical Guide (Cambridge UP, 2017), pp. 120–39


This is the second essay in a series of critical engagements with important recent articles or papers by prominent Kant or Hegel scholars, including two or more critics and a reply by the author. In this second instalment, Dennis Schulting critically discusses James Conant’s recent article on the Transcendental Deduction; Conant’s reply to both this and Sacha Golob’s essay, published earlier, will be published in due course


By Dennis Schulting

In an illuminating new essay ‘Die Einheit des Erkenntnisvermögens bei Kant’ (Conant 2017a), James Conant critically addresses what he argues is a widespread assumption in modern philosophy, namely, the assumption that our rational capacity to know is a capacity that is somehow “added” or tacked on to the capacity that we humans share with other animals, that is, our receptive capacity for sensations, our sensibility.[1] This is the so-called “additive” theory of cognition, more specifically of the relation between sensibility and the understanding.[2] He addresses this assumption by looking at the main argument of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction. Let me say upfront that I think Conant’s paper is one of the very few long-form pieces on the central thrust of the Deduction that I have read from the last twenty years or so, if not longer, that are as rhetorically strong as they are, on the whole, both interpretatively and philosophically appealing. I believe it is one of those papers that will, or at any rate should, be seen as a standard reference in the same way that Dieter Henrich’s influential article on the ‘two-step’ procedure of the B-Deduction has been—Conant indeed also refers to Henrich’s now famous ‘two-step’ proposal, but thinks that his own construal avoids what, in Conant’s view, can be seen as the delusive nature of Henrich’s overall framework, which suggests that there are indeed two independent, separably intelligible “steps in a proof” (Conant 2016:111).
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Damián Bravo Zamora on Guido Kreis’s “Negative Dialektik des Unendlichen”


GUIDO KREIS | Negative Dialektik des Unendlichen: Kant, Hegel, Cantor | Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2015


By Damián Bravo Zamora

Any engagement with the history of philosophy that is worth the philosopher’s while is irremediably philosophical. The spirit with which the philosopher approaches the history of his or her own activity is an incorrigibly Socratic one. Any discourse that smacks of an arbitrary appeal to authority, of an act of hiding behind the shield of unclarified concepts, or of a plotless chronology of authors, appears to the eyes of the philosopher not only as superfluous and insubstantial, but also, and above all, as intolerably boring. It is to Guido Kreis’s great credit to have delivered a truly philosophical history, and even the story, of a philosophical problem. His book Negative Dialektik des Unendlichen: Kant, Hegel, Cantor is an ambitious and at the same time accomplished work, which squarely takes on a fundamental metaphysical and logico-mathematical problem by unhesitatingly dealing with the ideas at issue in an argumentative and unitary manner, reaching far beyond any specific exegetical concerns, of interest only to the specialist in the philosophical system of this or that thinker, and far beyond any specific technical difficulties appertaining to this or that area of contemporary philosophy.

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Franz Knappik on Guido Kreis’s “Negative Dialektik des Unendlichen”


GUIDO KREIS | Negative Dialektik des Unendlichen: Kant, Hegel, Cantor | Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2015


By Franz Knappik

I have greatly enjoyed reading Guido Kreis’s new book Negative Dialektik des Unendlichen. Kant, Hegel, Cantor has much to offer to its reader: a book-length argument in the logic of infinity, careful reconstructions and novel interpretations of key doctrines and arguments in Kant and Hegel, as well as an insightful analysis of important types of dialectic. The book draws on a broad array of sources that ranges from Kant and Hegel through Cantor’s work on the mathematics of infinity to the most recent debates on unrestricted quantification. Despite the complexity and abstractness of the topics that it deals with, Negative Dialektik des Unendlichen is written throughout in a very readable and clear manner.  Read more

Reply to Baumann, Hanna and Pickford


MARTIN SHUSTER | Autonomy after Auschwitz: Adorno, German Idealism, and Modernity | Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014


By Martin Shuster

Let me say thank you to the three respondents in this wonderful forum. I have learned a lot from all of their responses and they have each given me much to think about, suggesting potential future avenues of inquiry. More specifically, thank you to Henry Pickford for charitable, interesting, and frankly flattering comments about my book. Pickford and I have been in conversation about these issues for quite some time now, and I appreciate the opportunity to engage with such a sharp interlocutor. Robert Hanna’s response is also appreciated, especially for its intellectual generosity. Embedded in it is a sophisticated reading of Kant, which I unfortunately do not here have the space to address in the detail it would require. Finally, I am equally grateful to Charlotte Baumann’s rich, expansive, and highly probing comments. Especially, I am struck by the deep, and to my mind important, methodological issues that emerge from her commentary. In fact, when responding to her, I shall start with them in order to begin to address some of her more specific points. Let me address each critique in turn.
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