Friday, August 28, 2015

1 Self-knowledge and neurophysiology – a reply to David Parker

On July 30 David Parker replied to my ’Notes on the relevance of neurophysiology to self-knowledge’ (‘David Parker’s reply’, posted on July 30). In response, I wrote to him: ‘I am at present absorbed in Kant and Aristotle, but I should like to reply to your comments before I go to Prague for my 'Three days' in September. You write 'that what we know about the brain now is sufficient to offer, in principle, a physiological account of consciousness.' I shall contend that what we know about the brain now is sufficient for us to realize that what we experience thanks to our brains cannot be performed by our brains; there must be a non-corporeal entity that transforms what goes on in the brain into the world in which we live.’

David asked: ‘Why do you say that consciousness has to be non-corporeal?’

I answered:  ‘Aristotle may help; he notes that topos (place/space) has three dimensions, length, breadth and depth, by which all body is defined. This might suggest that topos is a body, and so he says that the place cannot be body; for if it were, there would be two bodies in the same place (Physics, 209a6-7). He argues that two bodies cannot be at one and the same place (213b20).

Everything that neurophysiology has so far detected and can ever detect in the brain by the technology corresponds to Aristotle’s notion of body: where is neuron A, there cannot be neuron B, where is a vesicle A containing neurotransmitter ‘a’, there cannot be a vesicle B containing the same (or different) kind of neurotransmitter. The action potential generated at the axon hillock propagates as a wave along the axon …

When I look out of the window, I can see trees with their branches, a church and a few houses discernible behind the trees, Cam Peak in the distance, the blue sky-scape with the white clouds – all this is in space, all this is real. In so far as I see it, it all is composed in my brain on the basis of the neural structures inside the brain. Since what I can see in space around me – in my head – is real, in three dimensions, it cannot be corporeal, for in my brain there is no space for such corporeal structures.’ (‘A provisional reply to David Parker’, July 31)

David replied: ‘I accept that two bodies cannot be in the same place. But consciousness would not be considered as building a physical representation of the outside world by adding neurons or something else to locations in an already packed brain.’ (‘David Parker’s response’, August 5)

But this is just the point; as David says, ‘consciousness would not be considered as building a physical representation of the outside world by adding neurons or something else to locations in an already packed brain.’ The three dimensional space, which is there for him, in front of him and all around him – in his head – the moment he opens his eyes, composed as it is on the basis of the activities of neurons organised in neural networks inside his brain, cannot be physical, and yet it is there, in his head: it therefore must be non-corporeal.

David implies that our consciousness is building a non-physical representation of the outside world. Although I agree that what I can see in front of me is a non-physical representation of the outside world, I cannot agree that it is built by my consciousness, for what I can see in front of me is just there; the computer screen in front of my eyes, at which I am gazing as I am thinking what to write next; the keyboard on which I am typing …

Since I can see and perform all this only because I have my eyes open, because the electromagnetic waves reflected by the computer screen – by the keyboard, by the desk behind which I am sitting – impinge on the cones and rods in my retina, because the signals triggered by these are propagated into the visual centre in the brain – where these signals are connected with memory structures corresponding to lines and corners, and objects, and a computer screen and a keyboard, and with the networks corresponding to words I generate as I am thinking and re-thinking what I am going to type, networks that must be different from those that correspond to my checking and re-checking on the screen what I have written – all this must be connected with motor-cortex, which is guiding my hands and my fingers as I am typing …

Since the brain structures and brain activities involved in all this are completely different in space and in time from what I can see and what I am conscious of as performing in the space where I sit and in the time in which I do my thinking and typing, there must be a non-corporeal entity in my brain, which is intimately related to the brain structures and the brain activities involved in all this, the entity which is transforming those brain activities into that of which I am conscious as being in front of me and of which I am conscious as doing. Of this entity, which performs this transformation, I am entirely unconscious; it is the sub-consciousness, which makes my consciousness possible.

My sense organs and my brain, which are corporeal, my sub-consciousness and my consciousness, which are non-corporeal, are jointly engaged in a closely knit interplay thanks to which I can see what is in front of my eyes and do what I am doing.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ethical considerations concerning Kant’s transcendental philosophy

Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason maintains that the limitation of all possible knowledge to the realm of Erscheinungen, that is to things not as they truly are, but as they appear to our senses, while leaving things as they are in themselves, that is as they truly are, un-knowable, is the only way in which morality can be safeguarded. For ‘morality necessarily presupposes freedom (in the strictest sense) as a property of our will (die Moral setze notwendig Freiheit (im strengsten Sinne) als Eigenschaft unseres Willens voraus, BXXVIII)’, but everything that is in space and time is ruled by causal laws, which allow no freedom of will. Kant maintains that had his critique not drawn the distinction between things as objects of our experience (der Dinge als Gegenstände der Erfahrung), i. e. things as they appear to us (d. i. als Erscheinung), and the same things as things that are in themselves (von eben denselben, als Dingen an sich selbst), i. e. as they truly are, ‘the principle of causality, and by consequence, the mechanism of nature as determined by causality would then have absolute validity in relation to all things as efficient causes (so müsste der Grundsatz der Kausalität und mithin der Naturmechanismus in Bestimmung derselben durchaus von allen Dingen überhaupt als wirkenden Ursachen gelten, BXXVII, tr. Meiklejohn).’

And so Kant offers the following solution: ‘The criticism teaches us to take things in two senses (die Kritik das Objekt in zweierlei Bedeutung nehmen lehrt), to wit as a phenomenon (nämlich als Erscheinung,), or as a thing in itself  (oder als Ding an sich selbst) … the principle of causality has reference only to things in the first sense, namely in so far as they are objects of experience (der Grundsatz der Kausalität nur auf Dinge im ersten Sinne genommen, nämlich sofern sie Gegenstände der Erfahrung sind, geht) … and so one and the same will shall be thought on the one hand, in the phenomenal sphere (in visible action), as necessarily obedient to the law of nature, and, in so far, not free; and, on the other hand, as belonging to the thing in itself, as not subject to that law, and, accordingly, as free (so wird eben derselbe Wille in der Erscheinung (den sichtbaren Handlungen) als dem Natrugesetze notwendig gemäss und sofern nicht frei, und doch andererseits, als einem Dinge an sich selbst angehörig, jenem nicht unterworfen, mithin als frei, gedacht, B XXVII-XXVIII, my translation.).’

Kant’s concept of free will belonging to the ‘thing in itself’ does not mean that it is free from causation; he points out that ‘The will is a kind of causality belonging to living beings (Der Wille ist eine Art von Kausalität lebender Wesen) so far as they are rational (so fern sie vernünftig sind,). Freedom would then be the property this causality has (und Freiheit würde diejenige Eigenschaft dieser Kausalität sein,) of being able to work independently of determination by alien causes (da sie unabhängig von fremden sie bestimmenden Ursachen wirkend sein kann;); just as natural necessity is a property characterizing the causality of all non-rational beings (so wie Naturnotwendigkeit die Eigenschaft der Kausalität aller vernunftlosen Wesen,) – the property of being determined by the influence of alien causes (durch den Einfluss fremder Ursachen zur Tätigkeit bestimmt zu werden).’ (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals {Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, p. 80}, tr. H. J. Paton)

Will viewed as causality of rational living beings cannot be separated from actions it causes. But how can one and the same will, and any one of the actions it causes, be viewed on the one hand as Erscheinung, as phenomenon, and thus necessarily obedient to the law of nature and not free, and on the other hand, as belonging to the ‘thing in itself’, as not subject to that law and free? It might seem that Kant’s solution is very similar to the solution offered by Hume: ‘He defines “liberty” and “necessity” in a way that allows for a person’s being both free and determined: “Liberty” is “a power of acting or not acting, according to the determination of the will” (8.23) in circumstances in which an actor is not constrained to choose one way or another. “Necessity” is causal necessity … actions are determined – that is, necessitated – in all cases, because every effect, including volitions and actions, has a cause.’ (Tom L. Beauchamp’s ‘Introduction’ to David Hume, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, Oxford University Press 1999, pp. 39-40) But free actions Hume talks about are in Kant’s view subject to necessity and cannot be viewed as free.

Kant does not explain how one and the same action can be viewed as free in the intelligible world, yet un-free in the phenomenal world, yet he insists that this is the case: ‘A rational being (Das vernünftige Wesen) counts himself, qua intelligence (zählt sich als Intelligenz), as belonging to the intelligible world (zur Verstandeswelt,), and solely qua efficient cause belonging to the intelligible world (und, bloss als eine zu dieser gehörende wirkende Ursache,) does he give to his causality the name of ‘will’ (nennt es seine Kausalität einen Willen.). On the other side (Von der anderen Seite), however, he is conscious of himself as also a part of the sensible world (ist es sich seiner doch auch als eines Stücks der Sinnenwelt bewusst,), where his actions (in welcher seine Handlungen) are encountered as mere appearances of this causality (als blosse Erscheinungen jener Kausalität, angetroffen werden,). Yet the possibility of these actions cannot be made intelligible by means of such causality, since with this we have no direct experience (deren Möglichkeit aber aus dieser, die wir nicht kennen, nicht einsehen werden kann); and instead these actions, as belonging to the sensible world, have to be understood as determined by other appearances – namely, by desires and inclinations (an deren Statt jene Handlungen als bestimmt durch andere Erscheinungen, nämlich Begierden und Neigungen, als zur Sinnenwelt gehörig, eingesehen werden müssen.).’ (Grundlegung, p. 88, tr. Paton)

From Hume’s point of view, actions determined by our desires and inclinations are free.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kant’s transcendental ideality of time and self-knowledge

In his ‘Elucidation’ (Erläuterung) Kant formulates the objection raised against the transcendental ideality of time as follows: ‘Changes are real (Veränderungen sind wirklich); this the continual change in our representations demonstrates (dies beweist der Wechsel unserer eigenen Vorstellungen). Now, changes are only possible in time (Nun sind Veränderungen nur in der Zeit möglich,), and therefore time must be something real (folglich ist die Zeit etwas wirkliches).’

Kant replies: ‘I grant the whole argument (Ich gebe das ganze Argument zu.). Time, no doubt, is something real (Die Zeit ist allerdings etwas Wirkliches,), that is, it is the real form of our internal intuition (nämlich die wirkliche Form der inneren Anschauung.). It therefore has subjective reality (Sie hat also subjektive Realität), in reference to our internal experience (in Ansehung der inneren Erfahrung,), that is, I have really the representation of time (d. i. ich habe wirklich die Vorstellung von der Zeit) and of my determinations therein (und meinen Bestimmungen in ihr.). Time, therefore, is not to be regarded as an object, but as the mode of representation of myself as an object (Sie ist also wirklich nicht als Objekt, sondern als die Vorstellungsart meiner selbst als Objekts anzusehen.). But if I could intuit myself, or be intuited by another being, without this condition of sensibility (Wenn aber ich selbst, oder ein ander Wesen mich, ohne diese Bedingung der Sinnlichkeit, anschauen könnte,), then those very determinations which we now represent to ourselves as changes, would present us a knowledge (so würden eben dieselbe Bestimmungen, die wir uns jetzt als Veränderungen vorstellen, eine Erkenntnis geben,) in which the representation of time (in welcher die Vorstellung der Zeit,), and consequently of change (mithin auch der Veränderung), would not appear (gar nicht vorkäme).’(B53-54, A37, tr. Meiklejohn),

The consequences of Kant’s transcendental ideality of time for our self-knowledge are grave; we cannot know ourselves as we truly are, we can know ourselves only as objects in time, that is only as Erscheinungen, as phenomena, as transcendentally ideal, i. e. as we do not exist in reality.

This view of the possibility of our self-knowledge may seem to chime strangely with Kant’s ‘Preface’ (Vorrede) to the 1st edition of the Critique, in which he speaks of ‘a call to reason (eine Aufforderung an die Vernunft,), again to undertake the most laborious of all tasks – that of self-knowledge (das beschwerlichste aller ihrer Geshäfte, nämlich der Selbsterkenntnis aufs neue zu übernehmen.)’. In fact, there is no disharmony between Kant’s view that we can know ourselves only as we appear, not as we truly are, and his emphasis on self-knowledge. For he views this ‘call to reason’ as the task to which his Critique is devoted, that is the task ‘to establish a tribunal (einen Gerichtshof einzusetzen,), which may secure it [sc. reason] in its well-grounded claims (der sie [i.e. die Vernunft] bei ihren rechten Ansprüchen sichere), while it pronounces against all baseless assumptions and pretensions, not in an arbitrary manner, but according to its own eternal and unchangeable laws (dagegen aber alle grundlosen Anmassungen, nicht durch Machtsprüche, sondern nach ihren ewigen und unwandlebaren Gesetzen, abfertigen könne,). This tribunal is nothing less than the Critical Investigation of Pure Reason (und dieser ist kein anderer als die Kritik der reinen Vernunft selbst.).’ (AXI-XII, tr. Meiklejohn)

The well-grounded claims of reason are claims to knowledge ‘that has only to do with phenomena (dass sie nämlich nur auf Erscheinungen gehe),’ while ‘on the contrary it leaves alone the thing in itself as real for itself, but unknown to us (die Sache an sich selbst dagegen zwar als für sich wirklich, aber von uns unerkannt, liegen lasse. BXX, translation is mine; Meiklejohn translates: 'things in themselves, while possessing a real existence, lie beyond its sphere'.)’. Kant illustrates the ‘baseless assumptions and pretensions’ of reason with a dogmatist’s ‘professions to demonstrate the simple nature of the soul, or the necessity of a primal being (der etwa die einfache Natur der Seele, oder die Notwendigkeit eines ersten Weltanfanges zu beweisen vorgibt.),’ which he views as promises ‘to extend human knowledge beyond the limits of possible experience (die menschliche Erkenntnins über alle Grenzen möglicher Erfahrung hinaus zu erweitern)’. He contrasts with it his own position:  ‘I humbly confess that this is completely beyond my power (wovon ich demütig gestehe: dass dieses mein Vermögen gänzlich übersteige,). Instead of any such attempt (an dessen Statt), I confine myself to the examination of reason alone and its pure thought (ich es lediglich mit der Vernunft selbst und ihrem reinen Denken zu tun habe); and I do not need to seek far for the sum-total of its cognition (nach deren ausfürlicher Kenntnis ich nicht weit um mich suchen darf,), because it has its seat in my own mind (weil ich sie in mir selbst antreffe).’ (AXIV, tr. Meiklejohn)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Theological considerations concerning Kant’s transcendental ideality of space and time

Since the meaning of Kant’s transcendental ideality of space and time is not immediately obvious, let me repeat his formulation: ‘Such properties (Solche Eigenschaften,) as belong to objects as things in themselves (die den Dingen an sich zukommen,) never can be presented to us through the medium of the senses (können uns durch die Sinne auch niemals gegeben werden.). Herein consists (Hierin besteht), therefore (also), the transcendental ideality of time (die traszendentale Idealität der Zeit) [and space], according to which, if we abstract the subjective conditions of sensuous intuition, it is nothing (nach welcher sie, wenn man von den subjektiven Bedingungen der sinnlichen Anschauung abstrahiert, gar nichts ist,), and cannot be reckoned as subsisting or inhering in objects as things in themselves (und den Gegenständen an sich selbst weder subsistierend noch inhärierend beigezält werden kann.), independently of its relation to our intuition (ohne ihr Verhältnis auf unsere Anschauung).’. (B52, A36, tr. Meiklejohn)

Kant’s transcendental ideality of time incurred strong opposition among his contemporaries: ‘Against this theory (Wider diese Theorie,), which grants empirical reality to time (welche der Zeit empirische Realität zugesteht,), but denies to it absolute and transcendental reality (aber die absolute und transzendentale bestreitet,), I have heard from intelligent men an objection so unanimously urged (habe ich von einsehenden Männern einen Einwurf so einstimmig vernommen,) that I conclude (dass ich daraus abnehme) it must naturally present itself to every reader to whom these considerations are novel (er müsse sich natürlicherweise bei jedem Leser, dem diese Betrachtungen ungewohnt sind, vorfinden.).’ And so in the 2nd edition of the Critique Kant ended his ‘General Remarks on Transcendental Aesthetic’ (Allgemeine Anmerkungen zur transzendentalen Ästhetik) with an appeal to theology.

Kant notes that ‘in natural theology (in der natürlichen Theologie), where we think of an object (da man sich einen Gegenstand denkt) – God – which never can be an object of intuition to us, and even to himself can never be an object of sensuous intuition (der nicht allein für uns gar kein Gegenstand der Anschauung, sondern der ihm selbst durchaus kein Gegenstand der sinnlichen Anschauung sein kann,), we carefully avoid attributing to his intuition the conditions of space and time (ist man sorgfältig darauf bedacht, von aller seiner Anschauung die Bedingungen der Zeit und des Raumes wegzuschaffen)’, and asks ‘with what right can we do this (mit welchem Rechte kann man dieses tun) if we make them [i.e. space and time] forms of objects as things in themselves (wenn man beide vorher zu Formen der Dinge an sich selbst gemacht hat,), and such, moreover (und zwar solchen), as would continue to exist as a priori conditions of the existence of things (die, als Bedingungen der Existenz der Dinge a priori, übrig bleiben), even though the things themselves were annihilated (wenn man gleich die Dinge selbst aufgehoben hätte)?’ He argues that if we view space and time as conditions of all existence in general, ‘space and time must be conditions of the Supreme Being also (müssten sie es auch vom Dasein Gottes sein).’ The transcendental ideality of space and time thus appears to be the only solution: ‘There is no other way left (Es bleibt nichts übrig) than to make them [i.e. space and time] subjective forms of our mode of intuition – external [space] and internal [time] (als dass man sie zu subjektiven Formen unserer äusseren sowohl als inneren Anschauungsart macht).’ (B71-72, tr. Meiklejohn)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Kant’s remarks on Berkeley and Descartes

In ‘Three days in Prague devoted to philosophy – an invitation’ (posted on July 8) I wrote: ‘The main uniting theme of the Three days in Prague devoted to philosophy will be the question, how can philosophy contribute to the optimal development of our HSN (human spiritual nature). It was this question that has recently led me back to Kant (I devoted a lot of time to Kant in my twenties), as can be seen from the entries on my blog devoted to him. Kant has led me to thinking a lot about Hume, and Berkeley, and Locke, and so I have decided to devote as much time to them before I go to Prague, as my work on Aristotle and Kant will allow me.’

I was almost immediately rewarded for my decision to read Berkeley’s Principles of Human Knowledge. In the ‘Elucidation’ (Erläuterung) to his exposition of time Kant explains why ‘intelligent men’ (einsehende Männer) expressed almost unanimously objections against his theory, ‘which grants empirical reality to time (welche der Zeit empirische Realität zugesteht), but denies to it absolute and transcendental reality (aber die absolute und transzendentale bestreitet)’ (B53) … men who cannot start any intelligible arguments against the ideality of space (die gleichwohl gegen die Lehre von der Idealität des Raumes nichts Einleuchtendes einzuwenden wissen).’ For this he gives the following reason: ‘They have no hope of demonstrating apodeictically the absolute reality of space, because the doctrine of idealism is against them, according to which the reality of external objects is not capable of any strict proof.’ (B54-55, tr. Meiklejohn) I highlighted this passage in my copy of the Critique and wrote on the margin: ‘Berkeley’. [In his Principles Berkeley maintains ‘that extension, figure, and motion are only ideas existing in the mind’ (par. 9).] As I did so, I remember being surprised that Berkeley had had such a powerful influence on the minds of Kant’s contemporaries. And I remember noticing a discrepancy between the idealism as Berkeley conceived of it, and as Kant in the given passage reflected on it.  For Berkeley did not think that ‘the reality of external objects is not capable of any strict proof’; he believed that he proved that there are no external objects, only ideas: ‘all place or extension exists only in mind, as hath been already proved’ (par. 67).

Then, in the ‘Genral Remarks on Transcendental Aesthetic’ (Allgemeine Anmerkungen zur transzendentalen Ästhetik) I came across a passage in which Kant refers to Berkeley: ‘If we ascribe objective reality to these forms of representation [i.e. to space and time] (wenn man jenen Vorstellungsformen objektive Realität beilegt) it becomes impossible to avoid changing everything into mere appearance (so kann man nicht vermeiden, dass nicht alles dadurch in blossen Schein verwandelt werde.). For (Denn,) if we regard space and time as properties (wenn man den Raum und die Zeit als Beschaffenheiten ansieht,), which must be found in objects as things in themselves, as sine quibus non of the possibility of their existence (die ihrer Möglichkeit nach in Sachen an sich angetroffen werden müssten,), and reflect on the absurdities (und überdenkt die Ungereimheiten) in which we then find ourselves involved (in die man sich alsdann verwickelt,), inasmuch as we are compelled to admit the existence of two infinite things, which are nevertheless not substances, nor anything really inhering in substances, nay, to admit that they are the necessary conditions of the existence of all things, and moreover, that they must continue to exist  (indem zwei unendliche Dinge, die nicht Substanzen, auch nicht etwas wirklich den Substanzen Inhärierendes, dennoch Existierendes, ja die notwendige Bedingung der Existenz aller Dinge sein müssen, auch übrig bleiben,), although all existing things were annihilated (wenn gleich alle existierenden Dinge aufgehoben werden;) – we cannot blame the good Berkeley (so kann man es dem guten Berkeley wohl nicht verdenken,) for degrading bodies to mere illusory appearances (wenn er die Körper zu blossem Schein herabsetzte.).’

At this point the discrepancy between Kant’s remark on ‘the doctrine of idealism according to which the reality of external objects is not capable of any strict proof’ and his remark on Berkeley became obvious. And so I looked in the ‘Index of Names’ in my copy of the Critique, where I found another reference to Berkeley, which referred me to Kant’s ‘Refutation of Idealism’ from which I quote: ‘Idealism (Der Idealismus) – I mean material idealism (ich verstehe den materialen) – is the theory (ist die Theorie,) which declares the existence of objects in space without us to be either (1) doubtful and indemonstrable, or (2) false and impossible (welche das Dasein der Gegenstände im Raum ausser uns entweder bloss für zweifelhaft und unerweislich, oder für falsch un unmöglich erklärt;). The first is the problematical idealism of Descartes (der erstere ist der problematische des Cartesius,), who admits the undoubted certainty of only one empirical assertion (assertio), to wit, “I am” (der nur Eine empirische Behauptung (assertio), nämlich: Ich bin, für ungezweifelt erklärt;). The second is the dogmatical idealism of Berkeley (der zweite ist der dogmatische des Berkeley,), who maintains that space, together with all the objects of which it is the inseparable condition, is a thing which is in itself impossible, and that consequently the objects in space are mere products of the imagination (der den Raum, mit allen den Dingen, welchen er als unabtrennliche Bedingung anhängt, für etwas, was an sich selbst unmöglich sei, und darum auch die Dinge im Raum für blosse Einbildungen erklärt.). The dogmatical theory of idealism is unavoidable (Der dogmatische Idealismus ist unvermeidlich,), if we regard space as a property of things in themselves (wenn man den Raum als Eigenschaft, die den Dingen an sich selbst zukommen soll, ansieht;); for in that case it is, with all to which it serves as condition (denn da ist er mit allem, dem er zur Bedingung dient,), a nonentity (ein Unding). But the foundation for this kind of idealism we have already destroyed in the transcendental aesthetic (Der Grund zu diesem Idealismus aber ist von uns in der transzendentalen Ästhetik gehoben.). Problematical idealism (Der problematische), which makes no such assertion (der nichts hierüber behauptet), but only alleges our incapacity to prove the existence of anything besides ourselves by means of immediate experience (sondern nur das Unvermögen, ein Dasein ausser dem unsrigen durch unmittelbare Erfahrung zu beweisen, vorgibt,), is a theory rational and evidencing a thorough and philosophical mode of thinking (ist vernünftig und einer gründlichen philosophischen Denkungsart gemäss;), for it observes the rule not to form a decisive judgement before sufficient proof be shown (nämlich, bevor ein hinreichender Beweis gefunden worden, kein entscheidendes Urteil zu erlauben.). The desired proof must therefore demonstrate (Der verlangte Beweis muss also dartun,) that we have experience of external things, and not mere fancies (dass wir von äusseren Dingen auch Erfahrung und nicht bloss Einbildung haben;). For this purpose, we must prove, that our internal and, to Descartes, indubitable experience is itself possible only under the previous assumption of external experience (welches wohl nicht anders wird geshehen können, als wenn man beweisen kann, dass selbst unsere innere, dem Cartesius unbezweifelte, Erfahrung nur unter Voraussetzung äusserer Erfahrung möglich sei.).’ (B274, tr. Meiklejohn)

To make the long story short, I should have written Descartes instead of Berkeley on the margin of the highlighted passage in my copy of the Critique, to which I refer, and which I quote, in the second paragraph of this post.

Those of my readers, who follow the German text, may have noticed that in the text quoted in the third paragraph of this post Kant uses the term Sache to denote ‘things in themselves’ Sachen an sich. Cf. ‘A Kant’s distinction I had missed’ with Alberto Vanzo’s comment, posted on August 2, and ‘A remark on Alberto Vanzo’s comment’, posted on August 17.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Kant’s ‘confusing’ terminology

Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is divided into two main sections: I. Transcendental Doctrine of Elements (Transzendentale Elementarlehre), II. Transcendental Doctrine of Method (Transzendentale Methodenlehre). The first section is divided into two parts: 1. Transcendental Aesthetic (Die transzendentale Ästhetik) and 2. Transcendental Logic (Die transzendentale Logik), the ‘Introduction’ (Einleitung) to which is called ‘Idea of a Transcendental Logic’ (Idee einer transzendentalen Logik). The first subdivision of the second part is devoted to ‘Transcendental Analytic’ (Die transcendentale Analytic) … Obviously, the adjective ‘transcendental’ is a pivotal concept in Kant’s Critique, yet it may appear confusing. I shall articulate this ‘confusion’ within the framework of the 1st part of the 1st section, i.e. on the basis of his ‘Transcendental Aesthetic’, for in my present reading I have not got any further. As far as I can remember, in my previous two readings of the Critique (some thirty and forty years ago respectively) Kant’s ‘transcendental’ left me confused.

In his ‘General Remarks on Transcendental Aesthetic’ (Allgemeine Anmerkungen zur transzendentalen Ästhetik) Kant designates the ‘thing in itself’ as ‘the transcendental object’, which ‘remains for us utterly unknown’ (das transzendentale Objekt aber bleibt uns unbekannt, B63, A46). Yet ‘Transcendental Aesthetic’ is preoccupied with space and time viewed by Kant as a priori “intuitions” (Anschauungen), which make possible all our sensory perception of objects as empirical phenomena (Erscheinungen), but tell us nothing at all about ‘the transcendental object’; thus time (and space), viewed transcendentally, i.e. ‘if we abstract the subjective conditions of sensuous intuition, is nothing’ (wenn man von den subjektiven Bedingungen der sinnlichen Anschauung abstrahiert, gar nichts ist, B52, A36, tr. Meiklejohn).

The following passage may provide the key to this ‘confusing’ use of the term ‘transcendental’. ‘Both (beide) [space and time], without question of their reality as representations (ohne dass man ihre Wirklichkeit als Vorstellungen bestreiten darf), belong only to the genus phenomenon (gleichwohl nur zur Erscheinung gehören,), which has always two aspects (welche jederzeit zwei Seiten hat), the one (die eine), the object considered as a thing in itself (da das Objekt an sich selbst betrachtet wird), without regard to the mode of intuiting it, and the nature of which remains for this very reason problematical (unangesehen der Art, dasselbe anzuschauen, dessen Beschaffenheit aber eben darum jederzeit problematisch bleibt), the other (die andere), the form of our intuition of the object (da auf die Form der Anschauung dieses Gegenstandes gesehen wird), which must be sought not in the object as a thing in itself, but in the subject to which it appears (welche nicht in dem Gegenstande an sich selbst, sondern im Subjekte, dem derselbe erscheint, gesucht werden muss) – which form of intuition nevertheless belongs really and necessarily to the phenomenal object (gleichwohl aber der Erscheinung dieses gegenstandes wirklich und notwendig zukommt).’ (B55, A38, tr. Meiklejohn)

Kant’s ‘transcendental critique’ (transzendentale Kritik, B26), or ‘transcendental philosophy’ (Transzendental-Philosophie, B27), takes in view and keeps in sight ‘the two aspects’ (die zwei Seiten) of ‘the genus phenomenon’ (der Erscheinung). Kant calls the question concerning the relation of the ‘representation’ (Vorstellung) to the ‘object in itself’ the transcendental question: ‘the question of the relation of the representation to the object is transcendental’ (so ist die Frage von der Beziehung der Vorstellung auf den Gegenstand transzendental). (B63, A46, tr. Meiklejohn)


I can’t help cringing each time I encounter the term ‘representation’ as an equivalent of Kant’s Vorstellung when Kant uses it to designate space and time. Time and space don’t represent anything; they belong only to phenomena (nur zur Erscheinung gehören), as the a priori forms of their sensory perception.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Aristotle’s and Locke’s empirical concepts of time contrasted with Kant’s a priori “intuition” (Anschauung) of time

Aristotle’s derivation of the concept of time from empirical observation – of changes occurring in our minds, of the movement of objects in space – is obvious. Concerning the former he says in the Physics that ‘when we do not change the state of our minds at all (hotan mêden autoi metaballȏmen tên dianoian), or do not notice our changing (ê lathȏmen metaballontes), it does not seem to us that time has occurred (ou dokei hêmin gegonenai chronos, 218b22-24)… for we perceive movement and time together (hama gar kinêseȏs aisthanometha kai chronou): for even when it were dark (kai gar ean êi skotos) and we were not being affected through the body at all (kai mêden dia tou sȏmatos paschȏmen), if any movement took place in the mind (kinêsis de tis en têi psuchêi enêi), it seems to us at once that also some time has occurred (euthus hama dokei tis gegonenai kai chronos, 219a3-6).’ Concerning the latter he says: ‘Since what is moved is moved from something to something (epei de to kinoumenon kineitai ek tinos eis ti), and all magnitude is continuous (kai pan megethos suneches), the movement follows the magnitude (akolouthei tȏi megethei hê kinêsis); because the magnitude is continuous (dia gar to to megethos einai suneches), the movement too is continuous (kai hê kinêsis estin suneches), and because of the movement the time is continuous (dia de tên kinêsin ho chronos); for the amount of time that has passed always appears to be the same as the amount of the movement that has taken place (hosê gar hê kinêsis, tosoutos kai ho chronos aiei dokei gegonenai).’ (219a10-14)

Viewed in terms of Locke’s two empirical sources of all our ideas, sensation (employed about external sensible objects) and reflection (employed about the internal operations of our minds), Aristotle’s concept of time is derived from both these sources. The external sensible object from which Aristotle derives his concept of time is phora, locomotion, movement of objects in topos, place/space. Locke’s internal operations of our minds correspond to Aristotle’s metabolê, i.e. change that affects our mind (tên dianoian).

Aristotle’s derivation of the concept of time both from sensation and reflection leads to his rejection of purely subjective concept of time. Thus in the Physics he considers the question, ‘which someone might ask (aporêseien an tis), whether if soul did not exist (poteron de mê ousês psuchês) time would exist or not (eiê an ho chronos ê ou, 223a21-22) … for if nothing but soul and intellect in soul can count (ei de mêden allo pephuken arithmein ê psuchê kai psuchês nous), there can be no time without soul (adunaton einai chronon psuchês mê ousês, 223a25-26)’. He solves the problem by saying that ‘time would be what it is (touto ho pote on estin ho chronos), if movement can exist without soul (ei endechetai kinêsin einai aneu psuchês); and the ‘before and after’ are in movement (to de proteron kai husteron en kinêsei estin), and time is these in so far as they are countable (chronos de taut’ estin hêi arithmêta estin, 223a27-29).

In contrast to Aristotle, Locke insists that we derive the idea of duration from reflection, not from sensation: ‘Men derive their ideas of duration [and thus of time, which Locke views as a simple mode of duration, J. T.] from their reflection on the train of the ideas they observe to succeed one another in their own understandings’ (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Bk. II, Ch. XIV, par. 4). ‘Thus by reflecting on the appearing of various ideas one after another in our understandings, we get the notion of succession; which if anyone should think we did rather get from our observation of motion by our senses, he will perhaps be of my mind when he considers that even motion produces in his mind an idea of succession no otherwise than as it produces there a continued train of distinguishable ideas’ (Ch. XIV, par. 6).

Historically, Lock’s insistence that we derive our concept of time from reflection, that even ‘our observation of motion by our senses’ produces in our minds the idea of succession and thus of time ‘no otherwise than as it produces there a continued train of distinguishable ideas’, appears to be pointing towards Kant, who views time as ‘the subjective condition (die subjektive Bedingung) under which all our intuitions take place’ (unter der alle Anschuungen in uns stattfinden können, B49, A33): ‘for all representations (weil alle Vorstellungen), whether they have or have not external things for their objects (sie mögen nun äussere Dinge zum Gegenstande haben, oder nicht), still in themselves (doch an sich selbst), as determinations of the mind (als Bestimmungen des Gemüts), belong to our internal state (zum inneren Zustande gehören); and because this internal state is subject to the formal condition of the internal intuition, that is, to time (dieser innere Zustand aber, unter der formalen Bedingung der inneren Anschauung, mithin der Zeit gehört) – time is (so ist die Zeit) a condition a priori of all phenomena whatsoever (eine Bedingung a priori von aller Erscheinungen überhaupt) – the immediate condition of all internal (und zwar die unmittelbare Bedingung der inneren), and thereby the mediate condition of all external phenomena (und eben dadurch mittelbar auch der äusseren Erscheinungen).’ (B50, A34, tr. Meiklejohn)

But from Kant’s point of view his own conception of time has as little in common with Locke’s derivation of the concept of time from reflection as with Aristotle’s derivation of time from changes in our minds and from locomotion. In Kant’s view, time is an a priori intuition, which makes all reflection and sensation possible. In his view, all changes of mind and observations of locomotion, from which Aristotle derives time, and all reflections of the succession of ideas, from which Locke derives time, can be taken away, but time itself cannot be taken away. To put it in Kant’s own words: ‘Time is a necessary representation (Die Zeit ist eine notwendige Vorstellung,), lying at the foundation of all our intuitions (die allen Anschauungen zum Grunde liegt.). With regard to phenomena in general, we cannot think away time from them, and represent them to ourselves as out of and unconnected with time (Man kann in Ansehung der Erscheinungen überhaupt die Zeit selbst nicht aufheben,), but we can quite well represent to ourselves time void of phenomena (ob man zwar ganz wohl die Erscheinungen aus der Zeit wegnehmen kann.). Time is therefore given a priori (Die Zeit ist also a priori gegeben.). In it alone is all reality of phenomena possible (In ihr allein ist alle Wirklichkeit der Erscheinungen möglich.). These may be annihilated in thought (Diese können insgesamt wegfallen,), but time itself, as the universal condition of their possibility (aber sie selbst als die allgemeine Bedingung ihrer Möglichkeit,), cannot be annulled (kann nicht aufgehoben werden.).’ (B46, A31, tr. Meiklejohn)

Kant’s ‘intuition’ (Anschaung) of time is subjective in relation to ‘thing in itself’; he regards ‘time as merely the subjective condition (die Zeit nichts als die subjektive Bedingung ist,) under which all our intuitions take place (unter der alle Anschauungen in uns stattfinden können) (B49, A33) … If we abstract our internal intuition of ourselves and all external intuitions , possible only by virtue of this internal intuition and presented to us by our faculty of representation (Wenn wir von unserer Art, uns selbst innerlich anzuschauen, und vermittelst dieser Anschauung auch alle äusseren Anschauungen in der Vorstellungskraft zu befassen, abstrahieren,), and consequently take objects as they are in themselves (und mithin die Gegenstände nehmen, so wie sie an sich selbst sein mögen,), then time is nothing (so ist die Zeit nichts.).’ (B51, A34, tr. Meiklejohn)

But Kant’s ‘intuition’ (Anschauung) of time is objective in relation to all things we can ever encounter in our experience: ‘Nevertheless, in respect of all phenomena, consequently of all things which come within the sphere of our experience, it [i.e. time] is necessarily objective (Nichtsdestoweniger ist sie [i.e. die Zeit] in Ansehung aller Erscheinungen, mithin auch aller Dinge, die uns in der Erfahrung vorkommen können, notwendigerweise objektiv.).’ (B51, A35, tr. Meiklejohn) This is why he can maintain: ‘Thus our conception of time explains the possibility of so much synthetical knowledge a priori (Also erklärt unser Zeitbegriff die Möglichkeit so vieler synthetischer Erkenntnis a priori,), as is exhibited in the general doctrine of motion, which is not a little fruitful (als die allgemeine Bewegungslehre, die nicht wenig fruchtbar ist, darlegt.).’ (B49, A32, tr. Meiklejohn) 

Monday, August 17, 2015

A remark on Alberto Vanzo’s comment

In ‘A Kant's distinction I had missed’, posted on August 2, I wrote: ‘Yesterday I came across Kant’s distinction between Sache and Ding, both of which my Collins German Dictionary translates as ‘thing’. In the Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals Kant says: Die Wesen (Beings), deren Dasein zwar nicht auf unserm Willen, sondern der Natur Beruht (whose existence does not depend on our will, but on nature), haben dennoch, wenn sie vernunftlose Wesen sind, nur einen relativen Wert, als Mittel (have nevertheless, when they are without reason, only relative value, as means), und heissen daher Sachen (and are therefore called things), dagegen vernünftige Wesen Personen genannt werden (whereas beings endowed with reason are called persons), weil ihre Natur sie schon als Zwecke an sich selbst, d.i. als etwas, das nicht bloss als Mittel gebraucht werden darf, auszeichnet (for their nature marks them as ends in themselves, that is as something that cannot be used merely as a means) … Dies sind also nicht bloss subjektive Zwecke (These aren’t then mere subjective ends), deren Existenz (whose existence), als Wirkung unserer Handlung (as an effect of our activity), für uns einen Wert hat (has a value for us), sondern objektive Zwecke (but objective ends), d.i. Dinge [my italics] (that is things), deren Dasein an sich selbst Zweck ist (whose existence is an end in itself). (Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, p. 59)’

I noted: ‘It is obviously very important to have in mind the distinction between Sache and Ding, for it has a bearing on Kant’s pivotal concept of ‘thing in itself’, Ding an sich.’ Alberto Vanzo commented: ‘I am not sure about Kant's practical philosophy, but within his theoretical philosophy, I don't think that there is any systematic distinction between his use of the terms "Sache" and "Ding".

I quickly realized that I overstated the distinction between Sache and Ding, for I soon came across a passage in the Grundlegung (Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals) in which Kant uses the term Ding to signify the same things as he the things denoted by the term Sache on p. 59. But I still believed that the different account of these two terms in Wildhagen’s German-English dictionary may shed some light on Kant use of “Sache”. For “Sache” in Wildhagen signifies only lifeless things, whereas “Ding” historically designated Volksversamlung, Gericht, i.e. ‘judicial assembly, legislative council’, and is used in such expressions as guter Dinge sein, ‘to be quite all right, to be in good spirits’, ein dummes, junges Ding, ‘a silly young thing’, die kleine Dinger (sc. Kinder), ‘the little tots’.

And so I thought that Alberto’s comment – ‘I don't think that there is any systematic distinction between Kant’s use of the terms "Sache" and "Ding"’ – is not to the point concerning Kant’s use of “Sache” in the Grundlegung. I wrote to Alberto that the Grundlegung passage puts a uniquely strong emphasis on Sachen (‘things’) that are mere means, and Personen (‘persons’) that must always be viewed as ends, not mere means. In other words, his distinction there is between Sachen and Personen, not between Sache and Ding.

At that point I did not think that Kant could ever use the term Sache  to signify the ‘thing in itself’, Ding an sich. Kant proved me wrong and Alberto right; towards the end of the Grundlegung Kant says: was aber zur blossen Erscheinung gehőrt, wird von der Vernunft notwendig der Beschaffenheit der Sache an sich selbst untergeordnet’ (Kant’s italics, p. 97)(‘but what belongs to mere appearance is necessarily subordinated by reason to the character of the thing in itself’, tr. H. J. Paton).

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Locke’s Reflections on Duration

My interest in Kant made it imperative for me to turn to Locke, to whom Kant often refers in his Critique of Pure Reason as ‘the famous Locke’ (der berühmte Locke); Locke’s derivation of all our ideas from two empirical sources, sensation (‘employed about external sensible objects’) and reflection (‘employed about the internal operations of our minds’, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Bk. II, Ch. 1, par. 2), stands in sharp contrast to Kant’s insistence that the ‘intuitions’ (Anchauungen) of space and time are a priori conditions of all empirical sensations and reflections (see ‘The Kantian subjectivity of space and time’ on my blog, posted on June 14). And so I came to Locke’s notion of duration, which appears to critically point back to Aristotle’s derivation of time from phora, i.e. locomotion, and to positively point towards Kant’s purely subjective ‘intuition’ (Anchauung) of time (see ‘Aristotle’s concept and Kant’s ‘intuition’ of time’ on my blog, posted on July 29).

Aristotle’s discussion of time in the Physics comes after the discussion of place, and Locke’s discussion of duration follows his discussion of space. This arrangement is not accidental. Aristotle defines time as the number of motion of a body moving in place/space (topos), Locke views space as an idea derived from a distance between bodies perceived by sight or by touch, and time as a simple mode of duration, which ‘is another sort of distance, or length, the idea whereof we get not from the permanent parts of space, but from fleeting and perpetually perishing parts of succession.’ (Essay, Bk. II. Ch. XIV, par. 1).

Locke explains: ‘It is evident, to anyone who will but observe what passes in his own mind, that there is a train of ideas which constantly succeed one another in his understanding, as long as he is awake. Reflection on these appearances of several ideas one after another in our minds is that which furnishes us with the idea of succession; and the distance between any parts of that succession, or between the appearance of any two ideas in our minds, is that we call duration.’ (Ch. XIV, par. 3)

Locke insists that we derive the idea of duration from reflection, which is ‘employed about the internal operations of our minds’, not from sensation, which is ‘employed about external sensible objects’: ‘It is to me very clear that men derive their ideas of duration from their reflection on the train of the ideas they observe to succeed one another in their own understandings’ (par. 4). ‘Thus by reflecting on the appearing of various ideas one after another in our understandings, we get the notion of succession; which if anyone should think we did rather get from our observation of motion by our senses, he will perhaps be of my mind when he considers that even motion produces in his mind an idea of succession no otherwise than as it produces there a continued train of distinguishable ideas’ (par. 6). 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Aristotle’s Reflections on Time

Aristotle notes in the Physics that ‘time is mostly supposed to be motion and a kind of change’ (dokei malista kinêsis einai kai metabolê tis ho chronos, 218b9-10). He says ‘that it is not movement’ (hoti men toinun ouk estin kinêsis, 218b18), ‘but that it does not exist without change’ (alla mên oud aneu ge metabolês, 218b21). The switch from ‘movement’ (kinêsis) to ‘change’ (metabolê) is intentional; Aristotle he could have equally well said that ‘time is not change, yet does not exist without movement’, for he remarks: ‘let it make no difference at present whether we say movement or change’ (mêden de diapheretȏ legein hêmin en tȏi paronti kinêsin ê metabolên, 218b19-20). But if we pay attention to his use of these two terms, we shall find that they play different role in his reflections on time.

The notion of ‘change’ is prominent when he speaks of our perception of time: ‘when we don’t change the state of our own minds in any respect (hotan gar mêden autoi metaballȏmen tên dianoian), or we have not noticed our changing it (ê lathȏmen metaballontes), it does not seem to us that time occurred (ou dokei hêmin gegonenai chronos, 218b21-23). The concept of ‘movement’ comes to prominence when the question is of knowing time: ‘but we gain knowledge of time only (alla mên kai ton chronon ge gnȏrizomen) when we have demarcated movement (hotan horisȏmen tên kinêsin) by the before and after (tȏi proteron kai husteron horizontesˑ) … for time is just this (touto gar estin ho chronos): number of motion in respect of the before and after (arithmos kinêseȏs kata to proteron kai husteron)’ (219a14-b2). ‘We measure movement by time (tên kinêsin tȏi chronȏi metroumen) and by movement time (kai têi kinêsei ton chronon), because they demarcate and define each other (dia to horizesthai hup’ allêlȏn). Time demarcates movement (ho men gar chronos horizei tên kinêsin) since it is its number (arithmos ȏn autês), and movement time’ (hê de kinêsis ton chronon) (220b14-18) … because by motion demarcated by time (hoti hupo tês hȏrismenês kinêseȏs chronȏi) the quantity both of motion and of time is measured (metreitai tês te kinêseȏs to poson kai tou chronou). The primary measure of time (to prȏton metron) is the circular motion (hê kuklophoria), for it is regular (homalês) and its number is best known (ho arithmos ho tautês gnȏrimȏtatos, 223b16-20). Ross notes that the circular motion owes its primacy to the fact that a single revolution is a natural unit of a circular motion; units of other motions must be taken arbitrarily. It is best known, for the heavenly bodies are known to all. (I have not marked Ross’ words by quotation marks, for I do not have his edition of the Physics. I have jotted his remark on the margin of my copy of the book when I read Ross’ edition in Bodleian Library at Oxford; to my marginal I added ‘that the circular motion owes its primacy to the fact ‘and ‘It is best known, for’.)

The most remarkable aspect of Aristotle’s reflections on time in the Physics is the absence of the present: time is in his view composed (sunkeitai) of the part that has been (to men oun autou gegone) and is not (kai ouk estin), and of the part that is going to be (to de mellei) and is not yet (kai oupȏ estin, 217b33-218a2). The ‘now’ (to nun) plays an important role in his deliberations about time, ‘but it is not a part of time’ (to de nun ou meros, 218a6); it demarcates time as the body that moves demarcates movement: “The ‘now’ follows the body carried along (tȏi de pheromenȏi akoluthei to nun), as time follows motion (hȏsper ho chronos têi kinêsei), for we gain knowledge of the ‘before and after’ in motion by means of the body carried along (tȏi gar pheromenȏi gnȏrizomen to proteron kai husteron en kinêsei), and the ‘now’ is (to nun estin) in so far as the ‘before and after’ is countable (hêi arithmêton to proteron kai husteron, 219b22-25) … the ‘now’ is like a body that is carried along (to nun de hȏs to pheromenon), it is like a unit in number (hoion monas arithmou, 220a4). For time is the number of motion (chronos men gar ho tês phoras arithmos); it is made continuous by virtue of the ‘now’ (kai sunechês ho chronos tȏi nun), and is divided in accordance with the ‘now’ (kai diêirêtai kata to nun, 220a3-5). True to his conceptual derivation of time as number from motion in place/space, Aristotle  views the ‘now’ in terms of a point in a line, ‘for the point too connects the length and determines it (kai gar hê stigmê kai sunechei to mêkos kai horizei); it is the beginning of one part and the end of another (esti gar tou men archê tou de teleutê, 220a10-11).’

In Aristotle’s view, ‘if there were no time (eite chronos mê eiê), there would not be the ‘now’ (to nun ouk an eiê), and if the ‘now’ were non-existent (eite to nun mê eiê), there would not be time (chronos ouk an eiê, 219b35-220a1)’, but the ‘now’ he thus contemplates has nothing to do with the present as an aspect of time.

The present nevertheless comes into its own in the Rhetoric, where Aristotle maintains that ‘all that is pleasurable (panta ta hêdea) must be (anankê) either present in being actually perceived (ê en tȏi aisthanesthai einai paronta) or in being remembered as past (ê en tȏi memnêsthai gegenêmena) or in being hoped for as coming in future (ê en tȏi elpizein mellonta). For people perceive the present pleasures (aisthanontai men gar ta paronta), remember the past ones (memnêntai de ta gegenêmena), and hope for the pleasures to come (elpizousi de ta mellonta, 1370a32-35).’ The present is here reflected by Aristotle as the primary field of experience, the past and the future come to the view in so far as they participate in the present as memories or expectations. If the present is good, then even the memory of the past difficulties is pleasurable (1370b1-10).

In the On the Soul Aristotle appears to be viewing time and the ‘now’ very differently from the way he viewed them in the Physics. He reflects on these two notions in his discussion of sensory perception, and one must pay due attention to this  discussion to get to the point.

Aristotle says that ‘each sensory perception (hekastê aisthêsis) is of the underlying sensible thing (tou hupokeimenou aisthêtou estin) and belongs to the sensory organ (huparchousa en tȏi aisthêtêriȏi) that specifically senses that kind of things (hêi aisthêtêrion) and discriminates the differences in the underlying perceptible (kai krinei tas tou hupokeimenou aisthêtou diaphoras), as sight distinguishes white and black (hoion leukon kai melan opsis), but taste sweet and bitter’ (gluku de kai pikron geusis, 426b8-10). – I have allowed myself the liberty of coining the term ‘the perceptible’ to express Aristotle’s aisthêton, i. e. ‘that which is or can be perceived by senses’. – He then notes that we view white and sweet as different, and in general discriminate each perceptible from any other perceptible. These differences must be perceived by a faculty of sense (aisthêsei), for they are perceptibles (aisthêta gar estin), which in his view makes it clear that there must be the ultimate sense organ which is not made of flesh (hêi kai dêlon hoti hê sarx ouk esti to eschaton aisthêtêrion), for if it were, it would have to discriminate the two by touching them (anankê gar an ên haptomenon auto krinein to krinon). Furthermore, the sweet cannot be perceived as different from the white by separate agencies (oute dê kechȏrismenois endechetai krinein hoti heteron to gluku tou leukou), but both must be made clear as different from each other by something that is one (alla dei heni tini amphȏ dêla einai, 426b12-19). For if the two were to be perceived as different by two different sensory agencies, ‘it would be the same as if their mutual difference were to be made clear by my perceiving the one and you the other (houtȏ men gar k’an ei tou men egȏ tou de su aisthoio, dêlon an eiê, hoti hetera allêlȏn); but it is the one that must say that they are different (dei de to hen legein hoti heteron), for the sweet is different from the white (heteron gar to gluku tou leukou); it is therefore the same one that says this (legei ara to auto); so that as it says this (hȏste hȏs legei), so it thinks and perceives it (houtȏ kai noei kai aisthanetai, 426b19-22).

Aristotle concludes: ‘it is thus clear that by separate entities separate things cannot be discerned (hoti men oun ouch hoion te kechȏrismenois krinein ta kechȏrismena, dêlon); that they can’t be discerned in separate time either (hoti d’ oud’ en kechȏrismenȏi chronȏi) becomes clear from the following (enteouthen): For just as the one and the same says (hȏsper gar to auto legei) that the good and the bad is different (hoti heteron to agathon kai to kakon), so also when it says that the one is different and the other is different [must be one and undivided] (houtȏ kai hote thateron legei hoti heteron kai thateron), the when is not accidental (ou kata sumbebêkos to hote) {as when I now say that it is different (hoion nun legȏ hoti heteron), but not that it is different now (ou mentoi hoti nun heteron)};  but the undivided one says thus (all’ houtȏ legei) both now and that now (kai nun kai hoti nun), together therefore (hama ara); so that it must be undivided and in undivided time (hȏste achȏriston kai en achȏristȏi chronȏi, 426b22-29).’

Aristotle used the sweet and the white as examples, but he could have used the ‘before and after’, which he views as constitutive of our perception of time in the Physics, for from the point of view of the On the Soul it must be the one and the same undivided one that perceives the past as different from the future in undivided time. The difference between undivided time in the On the Soul and time defined as number of motion in the Physics cannot be explained by the difference of the subject matter that these treatises discuss, for in his deliberations about time in the Physics Aristotle asks ‘how the time is related to the soul’ (pȏs pote echei ho chronos pros tên psuchên, 223a16-17), but because of his being confined to his definition of time as an attribute of motion (kinêseȏs ti pathos ê hexis) as its number (arithmos ge ȏn, 223a18-19), the only thing in which he is there interested is the question, ‘which someone might ask (aporêseien an tis), whether if soul did not exist (poteron de mê ousês psuchês) time would exist or not (eiê an ho chronos ê ou, 223a21-22) … for if nothing but soul and intellect in soul can count (ei de mêden allo pephuken arithmein ê psuchê kai psuchês nous), there can be no time without soul (adunaton einai chronon psuchês mê ousês, 223a25-26). Aristotle solves the problem by saying that ‘time would be what it is (touto ho pote on estin ho chronos), if movement can exist without soul (ei endechetai kinêsin einai aneu psuchês); and the ‘before and after’ are in movement (to de proteron kai husteron en kinêsei estin), and time is these in so far as they are countable (chronos de taut’ estin hêi arithmêta estin, 223a27-29).