10 July 2013: A Note on Paul Guyer’s Interpretation of the Deduction of the Categories

Writing at Queen Mary while waiting for seventh chemo.

Turns out, from my reading of Paul Guyer (Guyer 2010), that I have a rather naive understanding of Kantian apperception, or, more properly, what happens when we as a person know we know an object.

Guyer is a leading authority on Kant: his vita in the book makes this clear. At the (private, Ivy-League class) University of Pennsylvania, often confused by the confused as a public access school because of the syntax of its name, when in fact the public State college is called that and is located in State College in the middle of the state, Guyer flies under the radar.

I thought, and it is evident in my chart of “the apperception of the evil clown”, that apperception is only perception + the awareness that one’s having it as part of a life-history of continuous experiences of this sort. This is what Strawson thought way back in 1966 when English-language Kant study was in abeyance because of the postwar lack of interest in what had turned out to be a German fiasco of Kultur.

Guyer, the greater scholar as regards Kant without much interest, it seems and as compared with Strawson, in his own metaphysics, seems to now convince me more that Kant meant something quite magnificent and this is the growing adult awareness of the world based on a positive life-history of learning from perception. Rather like the Artist like the late Poussin or the late Matisse, balancing a shaky hand with a growing eye.

People who cannot go to Princeton, but who are qualified except financially, rather like Paul Robeson, who was excluded from Princeton on the color of his skin, and who went to Rutgers, a public university open to all even in the 1930s, the division now being on social class, can profit from the reverse phenomenon, for the under-clued will think that Rutgers is “Ivy League” solely on its name syntax and East Coast location, which geographical criteria are equally bonehead: Stanford is clearly IL class but never is considered so simply because its name vaguely reminds many of some sort of Western robber baron.

I could write a self-help book on gaming your college record were it not for my expatriate’s awareness that foreigners really hate the whole “yankee salesman” thing and think it dishonest. And yet that is what university graduates, desperate in an economy that will criminalize them for missing debt payments including student loans, must learn in the American whore-yourself-out job market: how to lie.

Use their lack of awareness against them in this war of life, for they will screw you in a heartbeat. Never lie. I don’t say I went to Princeton. I say I worked there from 1986 to 1992 and took classes for credit but not for a degree, like that brief candidate for the Republican nomination of 2012, Christine O’Connell or O’Donnell, who was a witch before getting into politics.

She claimed that she studied at Princeton and let the reporters say she has a degree. I am merely less dishonest but not completely so. They put me at war with the demonic corporation (and its fiduciary responsibility only to stock and bond holders) and my fellow man in 1981 and no-one gets out unspotted especially if they had children, since so much can be ascribed to their needs.

Mom wasn’t all proud of me when I was hired at Princeton, she said get a corporate job for the sake of the children … as if anything special was done for me, there being such a crowd to worry about (old wound, sorry for bringing it up). So I disobeyed her and my youngest son stoutly flew under the radar of financial aid programs being scrapped but after he got his degree. Manful little chap from day one, I am glad he at least still walks this earth.

One can bring different levels of Kantian apperception to one’s awareness. This means that if one’s life-history is a progress toward the light, one will see at ever more deepening, perhaps beautiful levels until one’s last day.

But if one’s life-history is boozing it up and in general darker and darker, one will see blackness and daemons. Luke 33:36:

“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”


Guyer 2010: Paul Guyer, “The Deduction of the Categories: the Metaphysical and Transcendental Deductions”, from Paul Guyer (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, Cambridge University Press 2010.


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