Friday, 25 May 2012

The Philosophy of the Flesh: Notes on Merleau-Ponty and Agamben


These notes are meant to show that we are not standing still on the promised "autonomist ontology". Apologies for the quotations in French and Portuguese. These links are useful:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/40403053/Merleau-Ponty-Reader
http://www.scribd.com/doc/76522370/Agamben-Giorgio-Homo-Sacer-English


Kant regresses back into Cartesian dualism by simply positing the “finitude” of the per-cipient subject and the “noumenality”, the incom-prehensibility of the per-ceived Object, of Being in its “totality”. This is the kernel of what we may call (with Merleau-Ponty) “the transcendental attitude”. Kant distinguishes two “moments” (momenta) of experience, one being the “constitutive” (perception) and the other the “regulative” (concepts or theory). This “separation” (or chorismos) of perception and the perceived, of the percipi and the esse, already pre-supposes a dualism of perceiving Subject and perceived Object. The act of perception is founded on the logical presupposition that there is a “thing” that is to be perceived – the Object. And the logical requirement of the act of perceiving is that there be an “entity”, a Subject, that “does” the perceiving. Whereas Descartes had placed the Ego or the Soul at the summit of philosophy, Kant preferred to appoint the logico-mathematical powers of human thought. It is the very ec-sistence of logico-mathematical id-entities that are within life and the world, within experience, and yet are independent of experience for their “truth” or “validity” – it is this a priori ec-sistence of logico-mathematical rules or laws that confirms the ec-sistence of two separate yet inextricable aspects of human existence: the constitutive principle of experience and the regulative principle of theory, the awareness or intuition of the res or “things”and the cognitive ability to link these “things” according to cognitive rules. There exists therefore both a faculty that “links” or “con-nects” ideas between themselves, and a faculty that links or connects these “ideas” with “things”, and an entity that pro-duces these “ideas” (the Sub-ject) as well as the “things” (that are ordered and connected) in themselves! Here Being is seen as “pre-sence”, as a fixed entity: what is forgotten is that the only “fixity” is that of the “degree zero” of being, which is its “being-for-others”, its perceptibility and not some kind of “nothing-ness” (Heidegger), as even Merleau-Ponty ends up mistaking it:

Les choses et le monde visibles, d'ailleurs, sont-ils autrement faits? Ils sont toujours derrière ce que j'en vois, en horizon, et ce qu'on appelle visibilité est cette transcendance même. Nulle chose, nul côté de la chose ne se montre qu'en cachant activement les autres, en les dénonçant dans l'acte de les masquer. Voir, c'est par principe voir plus qu'on ne voit, c'est accéder à un être de latence. L'invisible est le relief et la profondeur du visible, et pas plus que lui le visible ne comporte de positivité pure. (Signes, p26, my emphases.)

Merleau-Ponty, like Heidegger and Husserl and Hegel before them, continues to approach the question of being in its “verticality”, its transcendence – and so betrays his own enterprise. (Arendt speaks of “depth” [or ‘true being’] and “surfaces” [or ‘mere appearances’] to distinguish between transcendence and immanence [see ‘LotM’, p26 and p30 on “the value of the surface”]. Negri adopts this term, too in his writings on Spinoza.) Had he turned to the immanentists, he would have understood more fully what he himself sustains below when he substitutes “visible et invisible” for “etre et neant” – the impossibility of Being ec-sisting in its “totality”, as “pre-sence” that would render the pre-sent (the nunc stans) meaningless, as “un etre sans restriction”; - and therefore the futility or irrelevance of transcendentalism:

Dimensionnalité, ouverture n'auraient plus de sens. L’absolument ouvert s'appliquerait complètement sur un être sans restriction, et, faute d'une autre dimension dont elle ait à se distinguer, ce que nous appelions la « verticalité », - le présent - ne voudrait plus rien dire. Plutôt que de l'être et du néant, il vaudrait mieux parler du visible et de l'invisible, en répétant qu'ils ne sont pas contradictoi-res. On dit invisible comme on dit immobile: non pour ce qui est étranger au mouvement, mais pour ce qui s'y maintient fixe. C'est le point ou le degré zéro de visibilité, l'ouverture d'une dimension du visible. Un zéro à tous égards, un être sans restriction ne sont pas à considérer. Quand je parle du néant, il y a déjà de l’être, ce néant ne néantise donc pas pour de bon, et cet être n'est pas identique à soi, sans question. (Signes, p27.)

The limit of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of perception can be sensed in his failure to appreciate how the notion of “becoming” in Nietzsche’s version of the concept does not leave “the sensible, time and history” untouched but trans-values them quite radically:
La philosophie qui dévoile ce chiasma du visible et de l'invisible est tout le contraire d'un survol. Elle s'enfonce dans le sensible, dans le temps, dans l'histoire, vers leurs jointures, elle ne les dépasse pas par des forces qu'elle aurait en propre, elle ne les dépasse que dans leur sens. On rappelait récemment le mot de Montaigne « tout mouvement nous découvre. » et l'on en tirait avec raison que l'homme n'est qu'en mouvement 6. De même le monde ne tient, l'Être ne tient qu'en mouvement, c'est ainsi seulement que toutes choses peuvent être ensemble. La philosophie est la remémoration [anamnesis] de cet être-là, dont la science ne s'occupe pas, parce qu'elle conçoit les rapports de l'être et de la connaissance comme ceux du géométral et de ses projections, et qu'elle oublie l'être d'enveloppement, ce qu'on [Maurice Merleau-Ponty, SIGNES. (1960) 28] pourrait appeler la topologie de l'être.

But Merleau-Ponty’s interesting notion of “invisibility” as “the degree zero of visibility” leads us back to the discussion over Schmitt’s “exception” and Hobbes’s “hypothesis” and Nietzsche’s Invariance – all of which are “border” or “liminal” concepts, as it were, and offer revealing radiographies of the bourgeois transcendental and ontogenetic understanding of human being. Having just stated that “quand je parle du néant, il y a déjà de l’être”, Merleau-Ponty remains locked in the transcendental attitude that he attempts to supersede because he remains tied to the Heideggerian phenomenological notion of “nothing-ness”: if “being is in motion”, if it is a “be-coming”, then there must also be a non-being that pre-supposes being, which is the “space” left “empty” by the pre-sent being understood as a fixity. Similarly, “in-visibility” has meaning or “sense” only in the light of visibility (“la lueure de l’etre”, an echo of Heidegger’s Lichtung). Merleau-Ponty has a vice of falling into these delusional dualisms as when he speaks of “silence” enveloping “words”, for meaning or “sens” as “l’etre d’enveloppement” and the Platonic “anamnesis” (cf. his expressions above, at p.28 of ‘Signes’).

It is interesting also that Foucault and then Agamben (Homo Sacer) mistake this “degree zero” for some puerile pre-political “state of innocence” that has been tainted by “statality”, by civil society as “bourgeois society”, as a degeneration or de-secration from “zoe” to “bios”. In effect, Agamben et alii erect a “naked life” as a bulwark against the “fiction” of citizenship that de-fines the “border” between the state of legality and that of “exception”.  

E em referencia a esta definicao que Foucault, ao final da
Vontade de saber, resume o processo atraves do qual, nos
limiares da Idade Moderna, a vida natural comep, par sua
vez, a ser incluida nos mecanismos enos calculos do poder
estatal, e a politica se transforma em biopolitica: "Par milenios,
o homem permaneceu o que era para Aristoteles: um animal
vivente e, alem disso, capaz de existencia politica; o homem
moderno e um animal em cuja politica esta em questao a sua
vida de ser vivente." (Foucault, 1976, p. 127) (See pp.3-4 of Eng. Edtn.)

Despite his appeals to the authoriality of Hannah Arendt (for he is a master at seeking out associations with “authors” such as Heidegger and Deleuze), Agamben neglects the cardinal importance that Arendt gave precisely to the concept of “citizenship”, not as a mark of biopolitical repression, but indeed as the only realistic and real “protection” of a human being by a human community! There is no reference in Arendt to this “primacy of natural life” to which Agamben refers (p.4). Little wonder that he should complain (same page) that “Arendt establishes no connection” between the analyses in ‘HC’ and in ‘OT’! The Nazi concentration camps operated not on the basis that “citizenship” was denied to the Jews, as Agamben foolishly believes, but precisely on the Nietzschean and later Schmittian notion that society and its “ontogeny of thought” are fictitious “masks” that serve to dissemble the “nakedness” of life as exploitation! Though this debacle may have begun with the progressive emargination of social groups from the protection of citizenship, as Arendt genially showed, the Nazis never saw Jews as “people deprived of citizenship” – and they never meant thereby “to exclude” them from any kind of biopolitical “statality” or “statal power”. The Nazis quite simply ob-literated the very notion of “citizenship” altogether! – In such a way that the Jews became in their eyes the “innocent” (Unschuldig!) victims of the struggle for life, the war of all against all, - the state of nature that is exactly what Agamben’s notion of “nuda vita” and Foucault’s earlier Aristotelian one of “zoe” ineluctably revive! In the Nazi ideology, Jews were merely the representatives of a losing “slave morality” that were to be dominated by the homologously “ir-responsible” or “un-accountable” (un-ver-antwort-lich) Nazi “Arian” bearers of the “master morality”! To lump together political systems that retain the notion of “citizenship” with systems like the Nazi state that abolished citizenship completely is to commit a political misjudgement of the worst possible kind! The puerility of Agamben’s “late-romantic” Rousseauean reveries is of an almost unbearable naivete’ – something that Nietzsche exposed and ridiculed with “the ontogeny of thought” which shows, in a manner later rejuvenated by Arendt, the (sit venia verbo!) “nakedness” (allusion to Agamben’s “nuda vita” or naked life) of the violence that the bourgeois transcendental attitude and ontogeny unleashes on beings human because of its equally “naked” denigration and denial of any phylogenetic inter esse, let alone “citizenship”! Nietzsche falsely believed to be able to overcome the nihilism of Western thought by exposing its Invariance: in reality, however, he only ended up identifying the ineluctability of exploitation and of “the pathos of distance”, as well as the instrumentality of the capitalist logico-mathematical and scientific order. (Esposito, incidentally, has sought to redefine inter esse as comunitas, with the emphasis on the munere which preserves the social individuality of the esse and shifts the political emphasis from the inter.)


88888888888888888888

Or, si nous chassons de notre esprit l'idée d'un texte original dont notre langage serait la traduction ou la version chiffrée, nous verrons que l'idée d'une expression complète fait non-sens, que tout langage est indirect ou allusif, est, si l'on veut, silence. (‘Signes’, p45)

 Again, the “totality” of being, just like “the complete expression” is a non-sense, says Merleau-Ponty. The “parallelism” of word and object, of thought and word is therefore also a nonsense:

Il n'est pas davantage de pensée qui soit complètement pensée et qui ne demande à des mots le moyen d'être présente à elle-même. Pensée et parole s'escomptent l'une l'autre. Elles se substituent continuellement l'une à l'autre. Elles sont relais, stimulus l'une pour l'autre. Toute pensée vient des paroles et y retourne, toute parole est née dans les pensées et finit en elles. Il y a entre les hommes et en chacun une incroyable végétation de paroles dont les « pensées » sont la nervure. - On dira - mais enfin, si la parole est autre chose que bruit ou son, c'est que la pensée y dépose une charge de sens -, et le sens lexical ou grammatical d'abord - de sorte qu'il n'y a jamais contact que de la pensée avec la pensée -. Bien sûr, des sons ne sont parlants que pour une pensée, cela ne veut pas dire que la parole soit dérivée ou seconde. Bien sûr, le système même du langage a sa structure pensable. Mais, quand nous parlons, nous ne la pensons pas comme la pense le linguiste, nous n'y pensons pas même, nous pensons à ce que nous disons. Ce n'est pas seulement que nous ne puissions penser à deux choses à la fois : on dirait que, pour avoir devant nous un signifié, que ce soit [26] à l'émission ou à la réception, il faut que nous cessions de nous représenter le code et même le message, que nous nous fassions purs opérateurs de la parole. La parole opérante fait penser et la pensée vive trouve magiquement ses mots. Il n'y a pas la pensée et le langage, chacun des deux ordres à l'examen se dédouble et envoie un rameau dans l'autre. (‘Signes’, p24)

In fact here even the “la” of “la pensee” ought to be in cursive – because if languages interpenetrate thoughts, then it is foolhardy to postulate the existence of “one” thought: there are as many “thoughts” as there are words to articulate and express them. Merleau-Ponty obliquely argues as much when he rightly observes that there cannot be any plausible analytical distinction between synchronic “parole” and diachronic “langue” a’ la Saussure. (See generally “Le Phenomene du Langage” in Signes, p.85:
L'expérience de la parole n'aurait alors rien à nous enseigner sur l’être du langage, elle n'aurait pas de portée ontologique.
C'est ce qui est impossible. Dès qu'on distingue, à côté de la science objective du langage, une phénoménologie de la parole, on met en route une dialectique par laquelle les deux disciplines entrent en communication.
D'abord le point de vue « subjectif » enveloppe le point de vue « objectif » ; la synchronie enveloppe la diachronie. Le passé du langage a commencé par être Maurice Merleau-Ponty, SIGNES. (1960) 86
présent, la série des faits linguistiques fortuits que la perspective objective met en évidence s'est incorporée à un langage qui, à chaque moment, était un système doué d'une logique interne.

Here once again Merleau-Ponty seems unable to distinguish between human ana-lysis – literally, the retrovisual categorization of reality that ends up in the prima philosophia (ontology) and the “reality” that is the “fundament” or even the “abyss” of thought and language and action, in short, of what may be called the point of intuition, the reality of perception.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Toward An Autonomist Ontology


I am currently working on a new ontological foundation of Marxism ( or let us call it autonomist thought) occasioned in part by Hannah Arendt's "The Life of the Mind". Due to family illness and travel, this is taking longer than it would normally, so I have thought to impose on our friends with these "notes" on the transition from Kant to Schopenhauer and the negatives Denken (negative thought) of Nietzsche and then Heidegger. These notes are difficult (and I apologise for that), but they provide an inchoate framework for the future pieces. Those friends who fear I may have abandoned writing on political economy should stick with us because I am also working on a review/critique of Hyman Mynsky's work.

Those friends who wish to deepen this "ontological" work may in the meantime care to peruse the two works linked beneath. Ciao a tutti!


http://www.scribd.com/doc/40403053/Merleau-Ponty-Reader (see especially the early part on "the phenomenology of perception" with discussion of Cartesian and Kantian transcendentalism).


From Kant to Schopenhauer

In this context, the Machian foundations of Austrian neoclassical theory (and, on the opposite side, the Austro-Marxist ‘Neo-Kantian’ response to them) constitute an attempt to remove “the obscure veil” (Nietzsche) that Kant had interposed between esse et percipi, turning the adaequatio rei et intellectus into an adaequatio intellectus ad rem. Once the objective world is reduced to an inscrutable noumenon or “thing-in-itself”, it is evident that all we have left for philosophical analysis is the world of “phenomena”, of what we perceive - esse est percipi. This was the basis of Schopenhauer’s critique, and the cause of Kant’s doubts in the ‘OpPost’ concerning “causality” and “the systematicity of physics”.

The principal point here is that the “whence and wherefores” are substituted with the “what” (Sch., WWV, p108) because the former are lost in the indefiniteness of “sufficient reason”. The question is not one of ‘being’ but of ‘knowing’, and only the ‘being’ of the “ideas” is determined. For Sch., Kant’s “grosste Verdienst ist die Unterscheidung der Erscheinung vom Dinge an sich” (Appendix on Kant, beginning). It is this “Unterscheidung” (we would say ‘Trennung’) that puts the question of “nature and causes” beyond the purview of rational inquiry. We are left with the empiricism of the causal relationship between events – just as they appear. Morphology replaces aetiology; process replaces meaning; form unseats substance; perception, rational inquiry. There are no more “qualitates occultae” (p106), no “explanations” (108). Relativity and “exchangeability” triumph (cf. Simmel, ‘S u N’, ch 2, esp. pp24, 27).


Kant had sought to preserve the transcendental subject in the very consciousness/awareness by the thinking entity of its “unity of apperception”. If indeed the identities of logic and mathematics were independent of experience – in fact, as in the “divisibility” of space, contradictory to it – and yet were inconceivable without experience, then the “independence” of these “identities” necessitated the existence of a noumenon, a human reason that could not be reduced to a “phenomenon” or a mere inexplicable “appearance” that was reduced/relegated to could discover/recover “autonomously” the independent causal relations and synthetic a priori judgements that it derived from the “heteronomy” of mere empirical induction or observation. (Cf. Forster’s ‘The Transition’ from his commentary on OpPost re Kant’s Preface to 2nd edn of KRV mention of “giving back to nature what we derive from it”).

For “negative thought”, such transcendence (independence from experience) did not require the positing of, and stood in op-position to (Gegenstand), a “reality”, a world of “things” or noumena that lay “behind” the observable empirical phenomena. The subject is no longer transcendental but mundane; it is “of the World”. Indeed, it is “in the World” and it has become, through perception and the Vorstellung and the Verstand identified with the World itself, the better to command it.

Kant’s hesitations in the ‘OpPost’ reveal “the Gap” that allowed Schopenhauer to pour scorn on Kantian metaphysics as the foundation of human experience and of science generally – particularly where “the transition” to “the systematicity of physics” from natural science – hence the principle of causation – was concerned. The illegitimacy of compounding logico-mathematical rules with physical causation tormented Kant in his last years. With Sch., it is impossible to conceive “the stars above me” as the complement of a universe made meaningful and purposeful by Practical Reason through the “freedom”/unconditionality of the Truth of its a priori judgements. Remember, it was the ability of Pure Reason to discern a priori – in-dependently of experience! – the validity of causation that made it “necessarily” in-dependent/autonomous against the heteronomy of “the object of perception” and “liberated” it as “practical Reason”. This is the “interior realm” subject to the categorical imperative: “the starry sky above me and the moral law inside me”. The “connection” of the Subject with the exterior world, the Object that is also constituted by the community of “practical reason”, gives Kant the hope (“What can I hope?”) that Practical Reason may follow the path of Truth followed by Pure Reason in the sphere of causality in the physical sciences where “Error” is routinely defeated. (Cf. Tsanoff’s conclusions, pp19-20: 2 Kant regards speculative reason, however, as incapable of attaining knowledge of ultimate reality, and therefore he introduces the notion of practical reason.)

But with Sch., Reason has become purely instrumental and functional, even if there is still a simulacrum of a nexus between logic-mathematics and “science” (p82). Truth for Sch. is not what it is for Kant where the very possibility of “truth” in a priori judgements leads directly to the postulation of Practical Reason: “immediate perception is the ultimate ground and source of truth” (p100), even when it is a priori, as with mathematics. In Sch., Reason is only a higher level of conceptual abstraction, different in degree but not in kind from the understanding, and easily confused with it (error confused with illusion). We have therefore a wholly “functional” notion of truth defined now not in terms of “whences and wherefores” but in terms of “what”, that is in purely instrumental and functional predictive effectiveness. That explains why Sch. has difficulty distinguishing Vorstellungen from Begriffen (pp53-4). (One could argue therefore contra Tsanoff [pp19-20 below] that it is Kant rather than Schop. who relies on rigid distinctions for the sake of speculative thoroughness, whereas Schop.’s real sin is, as he correctly puts it, “shallowness”:

“Kant's 'confusion' of the perceptual and
NATURE AND GENESIS OF EXPERIENCE. 21
the conceptual in experience is to be regarded, not as the failure
to discriminate ultimate differences, but rather as the imperfect
realization and the inadequate expression of the underlying
essential unity of concrete experience, which cannot be reduced
to merely perceptual or conceptual terms. Kant's confusion
is the confusion of depths not yet clarified; Schopenhauer's
lucidity manifests epistemological shallowness. Later idealism,
of course, brought to light much that escaped Kant himself…”

Thus, for Schop., Reason is neither good nor bad. Rational action and virtuous action are entirely unrelated (p113). And the ultimate manifestation of “practical reason” is the aloofness of the philosopher in his “reflection”, the differentiation with “brutes”, including “inferior life forms” (pp111-4) even down to indifference to “suicide, execution, duel, enterprises fraught with danger to life” (p112-3). The objectification of the Will is the Body, which therefore shares no communion with the rest of humanity. Even language occupies no special role in this system. Truly Sch. is “the real prophet of the understanding” (Bosanquet quoted in Tsanoff, p40 – and Heidegger follows with his reproach that Kant neglected “the imagination” [sensibility]). And the Kantian antinomies can be easily dispatched by Sch. now that all links with Dinge an sich have been severed – that is Kant’s “great contribution/service” (Appendix).

Transcendental Reason
‘Negatives Denken’ was not a return to solipsism or pure idealism – far from it. It was simply the realization that the synthetic a priori judgements could be analysed independently of a Transcendental Subject from which these judgements emanated in opposition to the anarchy or autonomy of the noumenon-linked “phenomena”. In other words, Kantian idealism exalted the Subject in op-position to a noumenal “reality” that it could “govern” only mechanically or intuitively (like “sight” and “touch” – hence thoughts without perception are empty; perception without concepts is blind”) but could not “possess” and by which in fact it was “conditioned” and “relegated” to a mere “unity of apperception”, and only formally could aspire to transcendental status (akin to God) on which morality [Sollen] and “judgement” [Urteilkraft] could be founded.
It is unfortunate, though not difficult to explain, that Schopenhauer,
whose keen criticism of the doctrine of the categories had
disclosed so many of its flaws, should have overlooked one of
Kant's most questionable distinctions, namely, that which he
makes between 'constitutive' and 'regulative' principles. This
distinction is employed by Kant with little consistency, although
the tendency is to discriminate between: (a) the fundamental
forms of intuition, the productive imagination, and the functions
of thought, which condition the possibility of all experience and
'constitute' its organization; and {h) the rational assumptions
which, while not determining the actual form of experience,
serve to rationalize the moral order and the aesthetic judgment.
The distinction, otherwise expressed, is between the mechanical
42 SCHOPENHAUER'S CRITICISM OF KANT.
categories of the Understanding, which Kant calls 'constitutive,'
and the teleological categories, the postulates of Practical Reason
and of the Esthetic Judgment, which he regards as 'regulative.'^
The incompatibility of this hard and fast distinction with any
interpretation of experience which attempts to do justice to its
organic character is amply illustrated in Kant's own technical
procedure. The teleological categories are declared to be merely
'regulative,' because not 'constitutive' of experience mechanically
considered. But are the mechanical {i. e., 'constitutive')
categories constitutive of moral and aesthetic experience? Such
considerations, which Kant would have been the last to take
lightly, should have warned him of the untenability of a distinction
that negates the immanent unity of experience, which is the fundamental postulate of the Critical philosophy.
This dictatorship of Reason that had started with Descartes also became the subject of Heidegger’s “Destruktion” of Kant. Indeed, one may agree with Heidegger that Kant’s aim in the Critique is not to erect an epistemology but rather establish by “formal” means the ‘being’ of a “reason” that is a “noumenon” that can “order” the noumena op-posite to it (Gegenstande). Kant’s interest is not in the “things-in-themselves” but rather in the Vernunft/Verstand (Under-standing) hierarchy from perception to conception, which must lead to a ‘causa noumenon’ (in Aristotelian fashion, causa causans) “free” from the “heteronomy” of causation and the physical world. This “freedom” or autonomy then becomes “the Will”, with its “Ethik des reinen Willens”, an aspect of “praktische Vernunft”. From here it is a very short step to Schopenhauer and Nietzsche – and to Heidegger, who is not in the least concerned with the possibility of “synthetic a priori judgements” or “meta-ta-physica” in that Aristotelic sense, but rather with the “Grund” of meta-physics, which is “the Being” of those “beings” that Kant (and Schopenhauer) had left to “themselves”.

The “pessimism” (Schopenhauer) that followed had to do with the need to remove the “teleological” and “eschatological” aspirations/delusions of Kantian idealist formalism and at the same time eliminate the (bourgeois) “antinomies” (cf. Lukacs) occasioned by the opposition between noumena and phenomena, the “rupture” or chasm that occurred and the “projectio per hiatus irrationalem” that it called for and that Kantian practical reason hoped to bridge (Brucke from immanence to transcendence, see T. below).

Empiricism did this in its Machian form by eliminating even the possibility of “ruptures” or “salta” in the perception of “phenomena” by encompassing them in a psychological sequence, a “pictographic” or “psychological” representation of reality (Cacciari, p40) that goes back to Locke, then Hume (association of ideas, impressions) and Berkeley (ideas in God’s mind, similar to Leibnitz’s monads). Note also that with British empiricism the “realism” of Platonic and Scholastic philosophy is refuted both in its “temporal” (always psychological in any case) and its “spatial” dimension (contra Descartes’s and Spinoza’s “extension”). In this sense, empiricism already questions Newton’s universe (cf. even Smith’s “Hist.ofAstr.” so dear to the Austrians).

31 Relationships Since a cause and a beginning of existence are distinct ideas, according to the first part of the separability thesis, it follows that they are also distinguishable ideas. (Bayne)


The empiricist “pictographic” or “sequential” (one would say “kinematic”, slide show) notion of “causality” paved the way to Hume’s skepticism and Berkeley’s empiricist “idealism”.

For Hume, ideas and impressions are genuinely similar to each other. They are similar in two main ways. First of all, both ideas and impressions are imagistic—that is, both impressions and ideas can be thought of as being a type of picture.9 (Bayne, ‘Kant on Causation’, p5).
Now, this can also be turned very quickly into an argument that Kant cannot allow both intuitions and concepts to be imagistic. Kant makes it clear that he believes that images are not themselves general, and thus in the Schematism Chapter Kant writes:
No image [gar kein Bild] of a triangle would ever be adequate to the concept of a triangle in general. For it would not attain the generality of the concept, which makes it valid for all triangles, . . . Still even less does an object of experience or an image of the same ever attain the empirical concept. (A141/B180) (ibid., p7).
In general, according to Kant, concepts serve as rules that are used to organize (unify) our thought. Sensible intuitions, however, can be thought of as being imagistic (pictorial) representations. Now, when the question of application arises (Which intuitions, if any, are subsumed under this concept? Which concept[s] does this intuition fall under?) we may be at a loss for direction. Intuitively we might think that I must somehow compare some concept to some sensible intuition in order to see whether the content of the concept, which is represented discursively in the concept, stands in the appropriate relation to the content of some intuition, which is represented pictorially in the intuition. Yet this may not be so easy.(p8)


From Hobbes’s “man-machine” to Berkeley’s “idealism” the approach to “reality” is mechanically subjective in the sense that the Subject is “estranged” from the Object and views it “in contemplation”, from afar. This obviously originates with Descartes’s methodical doubt which puts “external reality” on a par with “dreams”. Only the “consciousness” of the “doubting” can persuade the Subject of its own reality. But the empiricists were quick to deny not only the Cogito (a syllogistic non sequitur on any plane) but also the very “id-entity” of the Subject, as famously dis-abused by Hume. Search as I may about a notion of “I”, I cannot find it, except by reference to some other “empirical impression or idea”. The unity of the Subject is dis-solved, and so is the possibility of causality, even before we start enquiring about the relationship between things in themselves. The “cinematic sequence” is broken because only a unified Subject can re-compose it.
So it turns out that neither mathematical concepts nor empirical concepts stand in immediate relation to sensible intuitions, but like pure concepts they too are “always directly related to the schema of the imagination” (A141/B180). (P8)
Schemata for mathematical and empirical concepts are rules for producing spatial images that are correlated with the concept. It is this spatial image, derived from the concept through its schema, that can then be directly compared with sensible intuitions. Schemata for pure concepts, on the other hand, are not rules for producing spatial images. For “the schema of a pure concept of understanding is something that cannot be brought into any image at all” (A142/B181). Rather than being correlated with a spatial image, a pure concept is correlated with a transcendental time determination. That is, the pure concepts are correlated with distinct temporal structures or relationships—temporal images if you like.14 (p9)
Unfortunately, when it comes time to spell out the details of how images, pure shapes in space, or transcendental time determinations are produced from concepts via schemata Kant waves his hands and mentions something about the Schematism being “a hidden art in the depths of the human soul” (A141/B181). (p11)
In the Transcendental Deduction Kant believes he has shown that a consciousness cannot be conscious of a representation unless that representation is unified—that is, the representation is one organized unit. It cannot be an
14 KANT ON CAUSATION
unorganized set of various unconnected parts. Furthermore, Kant argues that a representation must get its unity from the understanding because there is no combination in representations apart from the understanding.17


This is the problem, the hiatus irrationalis, that Kant inherits. He seeks “to bridge” it through a series of “categories” (Schematismus), from human intuition to the Verstand to Pure Reason, that seek “to govern” apodictically the Object through the a priori synthetic judgements that must culminate in the “unconditionality” of Pure Reason because a phenomenon cannot “explain” a sequence of phenomena, however long, and must therefore be toto genere different from that “causally necessary” sequence: it must be “unconditioned” and of a different order from both the Dinge an sich and the world of possible experience or perception. Tsanoff (p44):
The unconditioned is unthinkable; and Kant himself, of course,
does not claim objective validity for the conception. He does,
however, regard the demand of reason for the unconditioned as
a regulative principle, "subjectively necessary. "^

In the third Critique Kant stresses the difference between what is required for nature and what is required for an o rd e r of nature. Those things required for nature are constitutive while those things required to produce an order of nature will be regulative. The constitutive things are again categories and principles—things that are required for the possibility of experience. Kant often calls these “universal [allgemeiner] laws of nature. In addition to this, understanding develops rules for explaining particular aspects of nature.
20 KANT ON CAUSATION
For example, one of the rules from the discussion on the paths of comets above: planets have circular orbits. These rules are ones we come to know through experience, but because of a further requirement, understanding “must think these rules as laws (i.e., as necessary).26This further requirement is that understanding “also requires a certain order of nature in its particular rules”27 (CJ,184).(Bayne, “K.on Causation’.)
As we saw back in chapter 1, a regulative principle “is not a principle of the possibility of experience and the empirical cognition of objects of sense, consequently not a principle of understanding” (A509/B537). Whereas a constitutive principle of understanding deals with the requirements for the possibility of experience, a regulative principle of reason deals with “only the unique way in which we must proceed in the reflection about the objects of nature with the intention of representing a thoroughgoing
159 Conclusion
connected experience” (CJ, 184).

Tsanoff doubts the validity of the distinction:
It is unfortunate, though not difficult to explain, that Schopenhauer,
whose keen criticism of the doctrine of the categories had
disclosed so many of its flaws, should have overlooked one of
Kant's most questionable distinctions, namely, that which he
makes between 'constitutive' and 'regulative' principles. This
distinction is employed by Kant with little consistency, although
the tendency is to discriminate between: (a) the fundamental
forms of intuition, the productive imagination, and the functions
of thought, which condition the possibility of all experience and
'constitute' its organization; and (b) the rational assumptions
which, while not determining the actual form of experience,
serve to rationalize the moral order and the aesthetic judgment.
The distinction, otherwise expressed, is between the mechanical
42 SCHOPENHAUER'S CRITICISM OF KANT.
categories of the Understanding, which Kant calls 'constitutive,'
and the teleological categories, the postulates of Practical Reason
and of the Esthetic Judgment, which he regards as 'regulative.'^
The incompatibility of this hard and fast distinction with any
interpretation of experience which attempts to do justice to its
organic character is amply illustrated in Kant's own technical
procedure. The teleological categories are declared to be merely
'regulative,' because not 'constitutive' of experience mechanically
considered. But are the mechanical {i. e., 'constitutive')
categories constitutive of moral and aesthetic experience? Such
considerations, which Kant would have been the last to take
lightly, should have warned him of the untenability of a distinction
that negates the immanent unity of experience, which
is the fundamental postulate of the Critical philosophy.

[Note that grosso modo equilibrium is regarded by Mises as a “regulative” principle to deduce a priori “human action” – a “category” or “form” of action. Hayek would see it as “constitutive” – a heuristic “goal” or “guide” for action.]

But here Kant has gone too far and too fast in at least two respects: the first is that a priori synthetic judgements do not pertain to the physical world, to causation, but rather to logico-mathematical id-entities that remain firmly in the “domain” of reason, not in the mechanical one of “objects” – however much these judgements might arise only with “experience”.

Kant is committed to holding that through conceptual analysis alone it is not possible to prove the causal principle. According to Kant, the causal principle although a priori is synthetic not analytic. Something more than the analysis of concepts is required for the proof of a synthetic judgment.
According to Hume, if the causal principle is not a relation of ideas, then it must be a matter of fact. According to Kant if the causal principle is not analytic, then it must be synthetic. For a synthetic claim the concept of the predicate is not contained within the concept of the subject. That is to say, concept of the predicate extends (goes beyond) the concept of the subject. Whether or not the concept of the predicate is rightly applied to the concept of the subject cannot be determined by simply examining the content of either or both of the two concepts. Since the correctness of a synthetic judg- ment cannot be determined solely by the content of one or both of the two concepts, something else is required for determining correctness. In order to prove a synthetic claim, we need some “third thing” to test our claim against. Typically, we need some intuition in which the subject and the predicate are connected as claimed.(Bayne, p32)

But then this “something more”, this “experience” must mean “being” tout court, “intuition”, and not just conscious perception. In other words, a priori synthetic judgements alone contain already all the elements of what Kant himself styled as “the Gap” (Forster), the “hiatus irrationalis”, the chasm between Subject and Object, being-in-itself and for-itself (consciousness). We need not go further into “Naturgesetz”, the “laws” of physics to find this hiatus. All the “bridges” or “projections” in the world will not help us trans-port ourselves, will allow this “Transition” (Ubergang) from the sphere of “immanence” to that of “trans-scendence”, from the Object to the Subject and vice versa. Kant’s “formalistic method”, which in the end boils down to Cartesian rationalism, simply will not do. Tsanoff:
Kant says: "As in this way everything is arranged step by step
in the understanding, inasmuch as we begin with judging problematically,
then proceed to an assertory acceptation, and finally
maintain our proposition as inseparably united with the understanding,
that is as necessary and apodictic, we may be allowed
to call these three functions of modality so many varieties or
momenta of thought."^ The three characteristic stages in the
logical progression might well indicate three points of view in the
self-organization of experience, and in this sense Kant may be
justified in distinguishing three categories of Modality. Never
40 SCHOPENHAUER'S CRITICISM OF KANT.
theless Kant's distinctions are too sharp and abstract: while he
suggests a process of logical development in the passage just
quoted, he fails to explain the matter adequately and clearly to
emphasize the essential interdependence of these 'momenta of
thought,' which involve each other in the systematic organization
of experience.^


(Of course, that is Hegel’s starting point.) The second difficulty follows from the first, because if logico-mathematical id-entities are attributed to an “unconditioned” pure reason rather than confined to “instrumentality”, then we introduce a formalistic distinction between Vernunft and its concepts and Verstand as the intuitive unity of experience and by so doing we introduce a “regulative principle” that smacks of teleology. For Schopenhauer, Vernunft is simply the ability to connect ideas or concepts, not a “higher” faculty distinct from Verstand. It follows that “causality” is essentially subjective and the role of science is simply to organize perception in a predictable formula.

Contingency is relative, just as necessity is relative, and for
the same reason. Every thing, every event in the actual world
"is always at once necessary and contingent; necessary in relation
to the one condition which is its cause; contingent in relation to
everything else."^ The absolutely contingent would be something
out of all relation: a thought as meaningless, Schopenhauer
insists, as the absolutely necessary, dependent upon nothing else
in particular. In both necessity and contingency the mind turns
PRINCIPLES OF ORGANIZATION IN EXPERIENCE. 39
back in search of explanation ; the necessary and the contingent
thus mean merely the relevant and the irrelevant in the process
of organization.

And this is what prompts Schop. to abolish the Kantian separation of Subject and Object implicit in the distinction of bloss Erscheinung and Ding an sich. There are no “mere” appearances (bloss Erscheinungen), but rather different “stimuli” that constitute the Vorstellungen connected by the Understanding-Reason – esse est percipi in this sense; “existence and perceptibility are convertible terms” (p4). It is no longer a question of “knowing” the Vorstellungen, but of intuiting their “being”, because the “knowing” is in their immediate perception and a priori knowledge of causality (Sufficient Reason). Tsanoff:
Kant's argument is summarized by Schopenhauer as follows: "If the conditioned
is given, the totality of its conditions must also be given, and
therefore also the unconditioned, through which alone that totality
becomes complete. "^ But, Schopenhauer argues, this 'totality
of the conditions of everything conditioned' is contained in its
nearest ground or reason from which it directly proceeds, and
which is only thus a sufficient reason or ground.* In the alternating
series of conditioned and conditioning states, "as each
link is laid aside the chain is broken, and the claim of the principle
of sufficient reason entirely satisfied, it arises anew because the
condition becomes the conditioned."^ This is the actual modus
43
44 SCHOPENHAUER'S CRITICISM OF KANT.
operandi of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. "Only through
an arbitrary abstraction," Schopenhauer says, "is a series of
causes and effects regarded as a series of causes alone, which
exists merely on account of the last effect, and is therefore
demanded as its sufficient reason."^

“Sufficient Reason” defined by Kelly (‘Kant’s Ph. As Rectified By Schop.’):
CHAPTER VI
Schopenhauer's principle of the sufficient ground

The definition of this Principle is :" Nihil est
sine ratione cur potius sit quam non sit." There
is nothing without a ground for its being so.
AS RECTIFIED BY SCHOPENHAUER 31
The Root of this Principle
Our cognitive consciousness, appearing as outer
and inner sensibility (receptivity), intelligence,
and reason, is divided into subject and object, and
contains nothing more. To say that a thing is
an object of the subject^ means that it is our
presentation, and that all our presentations
are objects of the subject. It will be seen
that all our presentations are connected together
by certain laws, which, so far as the form
is concerned, are a priori determinable, and that,
in consequence of this connection, nothing existing
separately and detached from the others can
become an object for us. This connection is
what the Principle of the sufficient Ground in
its generality expresses, and assumes a different
form for the different classes of objects without
altering its general character. The word " root"
is used to indicate the relations that underlie
each class. It must be understood, however,
that there are not four distinct roots for the
four different classes of objects, but that there
is a common root manifesting itself in four
different forms. In other words, the root is
a fourfold one.


Sch. relegates reason to the sphere of immanence quite simply by abolishing the “dualism” of Erscheinungen and Dinge an sich, by “mixing” the two together into a “Doppelcharakter” (the object implies the subject implies the object) that makes the Erscheinungen immediately “ordered” by the Verstand/Vernunft, without the need to postulate a “Gap” between Subject and Object and between Verstand and Vernunft that needs to be “bridged”. Tschauschoff (p26):

Die objektive Anschauung ist nach Schopenhauer durch und durch
eine kausale Erkenntnis, d. h. eine Verstandeserkenntnis oder, wie
er sich anders ausdrückt, „die ganze Wirklichkeit ist für den Verstand,
durch den Verstand, im Verstände" (W.a.W.u. V.§ 4. S.43).

Thus, for Schopenhauer, the distinction between Verstand as the moment of unifying perception, as intuition, and Vernunft as the awareness of this ability (a kind of consciousness-in-itself and for-itself) simply evaporates. There is no need for this “object of experience” to stand as an “obscure veil” between the Vernunft/Wille and the perception of causality, the faculty of experience or “intuition”. (Tsanoff, pp20-2, but good summary on pp23ff.)

Furthermore, there is also no need to distinguish between the “perception” of causal events and their “conceptualization” by the Verstand – because this is assumed to be “immediate” in the unity or “equi-valence” or “interchangeability” or “conversion” (WWV, p4) of esse and percipi.

Kant’s impossible task lay in his original “rationalist” assumption that perception of Erscheinungen (“appearances/phenomena”) must be ordered rationally and already transcendentally by an entity that he will ultimately call “Pure Reason” – though he tries to dis-guise this with a  whole chain of intermediate categories and faculties (Intuition, Verstand).
For better or worse, when we consider the meaning of the phrase “object of representations” in the transcendental sense we will have to focus on representations. For transcendentally speaking an object “is no thing in itself, but rather only an appearance, i.e., representation” (A191/B236).
If this is true, then how can objects, which are themselves representations, be “that which ensures that our cognitions are not haphazardly or arbitrarily determined” (A104). Kant’s answer is that in order for representations to be objects in this sense they themselves must not be associated in a haphazard or arbitrary way. That is, the representations must themselves be connected according to rules. In other words, representations, in so far as they are in these relations (in space and time) connected and determinable according to the rules of the unity of experience are called objects. (A494/522) (Bayne, p109)

“Now admittedly one can call everything, and even every representation, in so far as one is conscious of it, an object, but what meaning this word has with regard to appearances, not in so far as they (as representations) are objects, but rather only in so far as they signify an object, is a matter for deeper investigation. (A189–90/B234–35)” (Kant quoted in Bayne, p108)

The  circularity in Kant’s reasoning or “Transcendental Deduction” from “objects” to “representations subject to rules” is evident – because the “rules” themselves will be what turns “representations” into “objects”! Bayne cannot escape the difficulty:

Kant’s point is straightforward. The object is that which grounds the objectivity of cognition. If I take some set of my representations to have an object, then I represent my cognition in this case as having been constrained by the features of the object.1 (p109).

But the ineluctable question remains: how can representations themselves be “constrained by the features of the object”? Clearly, at all times Kant is positing a “Realitat”, a solid reality of Dinge an sich that lies “behind” or “beneath” the “ordered consciousness” of the Subject from Intuition all the way to Pure Reason. By so doing, Kant is also then presupposing not only the transcendental a priori character of experience, but also the ability of pure reason to lend a “systemic order” to the individual, separate, empirically “dis-covered” laws of physics: “…there must be something like an a priori ‘elementary system’ of the moving forces of matter if physics is to be possible as a systematic science,” (Forster, ‘Kant’s Final Synthesis’, p11).

Earlier, in the KdU, Kant had observed that “Nature, for the sake of judgement, specifies its universal laws to empirical ones according to the form of a logical system,” (in Forster, ‘K’sFS, p6). And in the Preface to the 2nd edn of the KRV there is the famous reference to “giving back to nature” what we have found empirically in it: in other words, the “discovery” of regularities in nature from the constitutive principles must then correspond to a unity of reflective judgement or regulative principles that gives “systematicity” to the natural laws themselves (yet another bolster to Kant’s mythical “architectural symmetry” derided by Schop., “alles gute sind drei”).  Shortly before this formulation, Kant describes Galileo’s experiments (ball and slide) virtually as a Machian “thought-experiment”, that is an empirical demonstration (“that which reason must seek in nature, not fictitiously ascribe to it” [Forster, p11]) of regularities or laws that have already been “projected” by reason and regulative principles. The OpPost was intended to supply the “Transition” (Ubergang), the “bridge” or “projectio per hiatus irrationalem” between observation and generalization, between perception and concepts.

Oftentimes when Kant discusses rules, he writes of them as being the means by which unity is produced in something. For example, when Kant is comparing reason(Vernunft) with understanding(Verstand) he states that the understanding may be a faculty[Vermögen] of the unity of appearances by means of rules, so reason is the faculty[Vermögen] of the unity of the rules of understanding under principles. (A302/B359) (Bayne, p108).

The possibility of experience is thus that which gives all our cognitions
a priori objective reality. Now experience is founded on the synthetic
unity of appearances, i.e., on a synthesis according to concepts of the object of appearances in general, without which it would not even be cognition, but only a rhapsody of perceptions that would not fit to- gether in any context according to rules of a thoroughly connected (possible) consciousness, consequently it would also not fit into the transcendental and necessary unity of apperception. Experience thus has principles of its form a priori lying at the foundation, namely, general rules of the unity in the synthesis of appearances. (A156–57/ B195–96) (Bayne, p108).



[Kant and ‘Judgement’]

Schopenhauer does away with the Ubergang altogether. Instead he replaces Kant’s “dualism” of noumena/phenomena, of subject/object, of perception/concept, of Verstand/Vernunft with the unity of the Vorstellung, which already encapsulates the logical interdependence of subject and object. Thus the Erscheinungen occasioning Vorstellungen are sui generis and immediately causally connected qua Vorstellungen to the Verstand and thence to the Vernunft. There is no “mediation” between these categories; no “obscure veil” separates experience from “Realitat” which now becomes all “active” as “Wirklichkeit/Actuality”. Tschauschoff again (p27):
Dieser Prozess der Objektivation, den der Verstand an den
Empfindungen vollzieht, die uns durch die Sinne zugeführt werden,
ist kein bewusst reflektierender, sondern ein intuitiver, unbewusster
Prozess. Im Anschluss daran unterscheidet Schopenhauer eine intuitive
und eine diskursive Erkenntnis.

And Tsanoff:

This is the way Schopenhauer reads his Kant. The Critique
of Pure Reason, he thinks, treats experience as the result of the
conceptualizing of the perceptual material, by which process this
material of sensation first becomes organized and real. Now he
finds perception in no need of such conceptual transformation,
for it possesses in itself all the concrete reality that is possible
in experience. Thinking owes its whole significance to the perceptual
source from which it arises through abstraction. " If we
hold firmly to this, the inadmissibleness of the assumption becomes
evident that the perception of things only obtains reality
and becomes experience through the thought of these very things
18SCHOPENHAUER'S CRITICISM OF KANT.
applying its twelve categories. Rather in perception itself the
empirical reality, and consequently experience, is already
given; but the perception itself can only come into existence
by the application to sensation of the knowledge of the
causal nexus, which is the one function of the understanding.
Perception is accordingly in reality intellectual, which is just
what Kant denies."^


 It follows that the Dinge an sich cannot consist of “objects” or a “Realitat” that lie “behind or beneath” or “at the end” as a quaestio occulta (or causa finalis) of experience. The Dinge an sich must be an entity toto genere separate and different from the realm of experience and reason, from perception and conception, which are entangled in the Veil of Maya. (Hegel will have a different answer.)

It is in positing this “distance” between the “thing-in-itself” and the rational a priori awareness of it in Pure Reason – a “gap” that no Schematismus or Ubergang can “bridge” - that Kant (Tsanoff, p18) prepares the ground for Schopenhauerian pessimism and the “unfoundedness” of the world of possible experience (Kant) or the “World of Vorstellungen” (‘illusionism’ or mysticism in Schop.) in that Practical Reason cannot be “the necessary implication of the unconditioned coming from the perception and conception of the conditioned” (Tsanoff, p38), and consequently it too is “conditioned” by the veil of Maya or “the wheel of life”. Only the Will can “comprehend/envelop” the World of Vorstellungen – and thus become the ultimate Ding an sich – the obverse and the ground of the world of immediate perception. Like Janus again, Will enters where Vorstellungen exit and it exits where they enter. But even Heidegger attacks Kant on the “autonomy” of Reason in its metaphysical moment and also as Will subject to formal rational and logical Imperatives in its ethical aspect.

Above all, Sch. lays the foundations of Machism (Tsanoff, p26). (Tsanoff proceeds, pp26ff, to argue why the two “moments” of reason need to be distinguished categorically in that consciousness-in-itself already contains the for-itself but as a separate “moment” [Kant’s “momenta of thought” mentioned on p40] that goes beyond the “perception” and becomes aware of the “conceptualized form” of “perception” itself – inevitably, he quotes Hegel, p28. Schopenhauer is identified thus as “the real prophet of the understanding”, as does Hegel, p40.)

Because Reason is not separable from the Understanding, even the Will in its objectification as body, though not in its character as the objectification of the Ding an sich, is part of the “causality” it “understands” – so that the Will-as-body is immersed in the World and is subject to its “causation”, to the Law of Sufficient Reason, like any Vorstellung.