LONGUENESSE, Beatrice. I, Me, Mine: Back to Kant and Back Again.
What Longuenesse is attempting is no easy task: she is seeking to naturalize Kant, in two senses. First, she is seeking to find a way to interpret Kant such that embodied cognition can play an essential role in a Kantian psychology. She does so by teasing out the uses of "I," showing how various uses either do or do not rely upon consciousness of one's own body. She claims a distinct place for Kant's "I think" as independent of consciousness of one's own body and a precondition for any use of "I," while maintaining that knowledge of the "I" is dependent on embodied cognition. Second, she seeks to maintain a Kantian conception of pure practical reason in conjunction with the Freudian thesis that it comes to be through a developmental process of internalization. She does this by incorporating aspects of Kant's psychology into a Freudian naturalized account of the emergence of the ego and super-ego.
Chapter 1 helpfully summarizes the narrative of the book as well as the individual chapters. Part I, entitled "Back to ..." comprises two chapters. The project of chapter 2 is to clarify Kant's division between "I" as subject and "I" as object, comparing this division to Wittgenstein's. She argues, against Gareth Evans, that it is the unity of consciousness, rather than the unity of an embodied entity, that is a necessary condition for any use of "I" at all. Chapter 3 expands on this conclusion through an examination the ways in which uses of "I" relate to the body. Longuenesse argues here that Sartre, Anscombe, and Evans have neglected one type of self-consciousness: a prereflective, first-personal "I" that is not itself dependent on consciousness of the body. The result of these chapters is that Kant's "I" as prereflective subject, which is a condition for the uses of "I" or forms of consciousness discussed in these twentieth-century authors, has yet to be explored in recent history. That brings us to Part II, "... Kant."
Part II (chapters 4, 5, and 6) is a sustained interpretation of Kant's psychology, particularly the relationship of the "I think" to the Paralogisms. Chapter 4 is a striking comparison of Descartes's cogito to Kant's "I think," in which Longuenesse presents Kant as endorsing a version of Descartes's cogito argument while rejecting Descartes's answer to the question "What am I?" Chapters 5 and 6 go on to examine the first three Paralogisms. Consistent with the claims made in chapter 4, these two chapters show that for Kant, although I can know nothing about the "I" of "I think," it represents an existing entity. These chapters thereby allow one to interpret Kant as offering a consciousness of one's own existence based merely on thought. One can adopt this Kantian position and further maintain that to give any content to the "I" one needs embodied cognition.
In Part III, "... And Back Again," Longuenesse brings these conclusions into conversation with Freud. Chapter 7 merges Freud's account of the development of the ego with a Kant's analysis of "I," in order to produce a developmental, naturalistic account of Kant's "I." In chapter 8, she builds on this account to offer a naturalized, emergent account of Kantian practical reason, in parallel with Freud's super-ego. Nevertheless, Longuenesse maintains that such naturalization does not undermine the binding nature of the emergent norms. An epilogue addresses several overarching questions concerning the narrative of the book.
This book will be of great interest to Kant scholars. In addition to its contribution to focused Kant scholarship, this book demonstrates the broader significance that Kant's moral psychology has had and could continue to have. This book also offers immense clarity to various topics at the intersection of philosophy of mind and language: unity of consciousness and various types of self-awareness and self-reference. One need not read the work in its entirety to appreciate its parts. Those interested in a particular figure or topic would benefit from reading the relevant chapters in isolation.
While many chapters were published previously, the book reads as a sustained argument for a striking conclusion. One's opinion of whether Longuenesse succeeds in her project of offering a naturalized Kantian moral psychology will depend on how far one is willing to follow her modifications of Kant's Critical philosophy, particularly in the final chapters. This book is essential reading for anyone invested in this project.--Naomi Fisher, Clark University
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|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2018|
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