22 July 2013: Kant for Dummies?

Up at about 5:40 AM: 170 lowrise steps conducted in considerable (7/10) pain, 75 supine gestures with weights, short walk with one fight stair climb and descent. 25 minutes overall. No need for painkiller after this workout.

Physio Update

As has been usually the case on weekdays, my official physio therapy session at 1:30 PM today was 20 minutes rackety row on the rackety row machine, designed and built by foul trolls from the dark ages (really, it does look like a homebrew device). 750 strokes today and per usual I exchanged 100 “hard” strokes (leg) with 100 “easy” strokes (arm, very easy, too easy since arm resistance cannot be changed). In addition strokes 1-100 and 401-500 were both arm and leg.

The rackety row device has five difficulty levels. I am at level three.

No need for painkillers after this enjoyable workout.


Wonder whether it’s worthwhile to complete the essay on sentence diagramming and Kant’s complexity but the question answers itself; it is, and, I need to do a finished, polished and camera ready sentence diagram of the Whopper on p 613 of Guyer/Wood 1998, without having Liquid Paper or a straightedge. I can make corrections to the digital photograph and if needed I suppose I could simulate a straight edge, but in the latter case I have decided to draw the sentence diagram’s lines freehand, “looking where I go and not where I have been”.

This effort is worthwhile because the issue of “verbosity” and “[unneeded] complexity”, and who makes them, and with what qualifications, are central to understanding the Critique.

Reading Strawson in search of dirt. Is he really a first edition man and does being a first edition dude imply a thin account of apperception consisting only of “I affirm a perception”: whereas does being a second edition man really mean that you have a “thick” account of apperception: one loaded, not just with the knowledge [that] “I am having this perception” but also with non-binary propositions such as “I am having this perception because of a class I took where I learned to look deeply at art”.

Androgyne Aware

Edward G. Nilges, “Androgyne Aware”, pencil, pen, and Gimp modifications on A4 sized paper, 2011, Copyright (c) 2013 by Edward G. Nilges. Moral Rights asserted.

Dennis Schulting, in Schulting 2012, confirms that there are thin and thick apperceptions, but not all uses of the two phrases, “thin apperception” and “thick apperception” may conform to my usage (binary as in “I see something: multivalues as in “I see a Cezanne”),

The thick theory far more attractive in many ways but we have to certain that by 1787, Kant subscribed to it. I think he did because the Categories themselves support thick knowledge consisting of “whats” and “hows” and “whens” not just “whethers”). But surely Strawson also would support this. I may have missed something in Bounds of Sense which I most assuredly don’t wish to re-read in search of this haystacked needle, since my self-taught class isn’t about Sir Peter Strawson.

Which brings up an idea for a “self-reflexive turn” where an SRT mimics the more famous linguistic turn. What does Logical Positivism look like when used with some rigor by the Positivist? Is the “Existentialist” truly existentialist, which is to say honest, in his personal life, if he cheats on his main squeeze? Of course, there are two types of SRTs one of which is invalid.

The first type is mere ad-hominem and invalid. An Arab and Muslim theologian could know Christianity better than a contemporary theologian from a Christian community but if this is true it is ad-hominem to say he hasn’t converted therefore his knowledge must be flawed.

The second self-reflexive turn validates. Most philosophers, rather notoriously, don’t seem to “eat their own dog food”.

“Eat your own dog food” is an expression from the Microsoft software community: it means to test out a new operating system, compiler, or software tool by using the new software in further development, rigorously, consistently and sans peur (without fear)…since this is a great way of finding bugs.

Likewise we ask whether the apperception of daily life is thin or thick. Well, it is useless to go ’round speaking the thin apperceptions [in baby-talk to highlight their low information] “me see sumpin”, “me hear sumpin” and so on unless one’s a silly child (using silly as its Anglo-Saxon ancestor, saelig, holy-silly, not just holy) who wants to tell the grownups what’s going on in case the grownups have any questions.

While not all grownup apperception is as overloaded as that of the sports fan who cannot see a play without relating it to an ancient play, or the art “swine” or collector who cannot see a Honthorst without relating it upon the moment of recognition to occasional attempts to shop cheap Honthorsts as Rubenses, it is somewhat “loaded” with more memories than that of children, and far more memories than very young children acquiring language. And because Kant believed, certainly by 1787, that apperception uses categories (otherwise why deduce them?) the “thick” apperception is the one intended by Kant QED. Insofar as Strawson’s results depend on thin apperception and insofar as you cannot wave a logic wand over a thick apperception to slim it down to thin status in all cases then Strawson is just wrong, but this is not the place to “prove” this.

In philosophy, a flawed recount of another philosopher’s results is still useful as long as we can criticise the flawed recount. Philosophy majors as I once was are usually pale and interesting with long blonde hairs prematurely being shed on their dark blue coats and they seek guidance in books that promise, not to do philosophy (for this activity seems to be the problem) but to explain previous philosophical schools.

So I leaped upon my books on “Russell’s Logical Atomism” by Ima Withouta Clue and “Kant” by Serge Moi (get it? Search me? Nyuk nyuk!) only to find that the history of philosophy and perspicuously explaining a philosopher is itself doing philosophy (see next section of this blog post).

But if some crumby book (and by way of Gresham, 99% of everything is crumby) illuminates then it is valuable, which is why things like “library deaccess” (free or low cost library books left out for sale at low prices, or for free, in communities where real estate has become, owing to Yuppie greed and folly, more valuable than books) are evil. If some crumby text finds some dolt, and the dolt finds that the doltish character of the book is something he loves, and the dolt passes A-levels, why then the crumby text has accomplished a world-historical mission.

Oops, here’s a real find that I discovered when doing an image search for “dolt with book”: a guide to health insurance which includes information on the Affordable Care Act.

Why Is Doing the History of Philosophy, Philosophy? A Somewhat Rigorous Proof.

I should more rigorously prove my somewhat controversial thesis, that explaining a philosopher’s views, explaining a philosophical movement is doing the history of philosophy and (more controversially) that doing the history of philosophy is doing…philosophy…in a way that doing the history of mathematics isn’t math but doing historiography is history.

My thesis is based on a celebration as opposed to a condemnation of something which I take as axiomatic and as a defining feature of philosophy: that unlike any other science philosophy is dialectic and any thesis can be debated, usefully. That, indeed, philosophy can examine both sides of any issue in a way Plato condemned (cf. The Sophist) but unlike Plato’s caricatured Sophist need not settle the dialectical question.

Rigorous Proof, then (RP). It’s trivial if we are Kantians and believe in the unknowability of things in themselves: if the thing in itself is unknowable we cannot invoke is as the deus ex machina to win our case. Therefore, whether a bit of philosophical history is philosophy depends on whether Kant’s things-in-themselves ontology is true. Which means that our understanding of philosophical history as philosophy or non-philosophy depends on our philosophical answer to at least one philosophical question.

I dislike the RP, intensely. It is contrived and may have a bug in its verbiage.

I prefer to say that while in practice the history of art is not art (art history students typically are not given lab assignments in forging or just accurately copying old works using the “indirect” methods of the old masters, although this is a good idea) it can be and would be a good thing for the student of the history of philosophy to argue philosophical matters. As Kant himself says at Guyer/Wood 1998 p258, we understand the line when we can draw the line: “we cannot think of a line without drawing it in thought”.

Basically I have, in addition to a valid argument here, a bias in favor of doing rather than contemplation. Precisely because philosophy is “dialectic” we do philosophy in an interminable and weary way. Progress is made because if we are honest with ourselves, the production and preservation of most documents is a Good Thing despite the ravings of anti-intellectuals.


Guyer/Wood 1998: Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood (tr.), Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason. 1998, Cambridge University Press.

Schulting 2012: Dennis Schulting, Kant’s Deduction and Apperception. 2012, Palgrave/Macmillan

Change Record

22 July 2013 1544: added extensive commentary mostly in defense of the thesis “to do philosophy’s history or explication of the thought of philosophers is to do philosophy”.

6 Aug 2013


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