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Salomon Maimon's commentary on the subject of the given in Immanuel Kant's critique of pure reason.

IN THE CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON (hereafter CPR (1)) Kant makes multiple allusions to the "thing in itself." (2) He also mentions that, while understanding spontaneously produces concepts, sensibility receives its objects passively. (3) An initial reading would lead us to infer the existence of a material principle that would have a causal effect on sensibility, generating its material in such a way that the object of materially considered knowledge could be understood as the effect of a transcendent cause, that it would be located beyond the phenomenal sphere. Kant himself refers to a "cause" (4) or "ground," (5) the effect of which are perceptions.

This approach is problematic, since concepts can only reach out to the phenomenal sphere. To aim to apply them beyond that scope would imply a return to a precritical position, from which Kant openly removes himself in CPR. (6)

In view of this problem, we could consider that Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi's classical statement: "without this presupposition [of the thing in itself] I cannot enter into the system, but with this presupposition I cannot remain within it" is totally justified. (7) In other words, the pretension that would appear to be the basis of Kantian philosophy is a critical pretension, according to which the only cognoscible thing is that of which we have an immanent knowledge. (8) For Kant, this immanent knowledge is always experiential, that is not purely intellectual, in finite beings. (9) To state that something in itself is causally determining but uncognoscible, would require a level of acceptance that goes beyond the margins of Kantian criticism.

How, then, can the idea of the given to sensibility be understood so that it does not contradict the critical pretensions of Kantian Philosophy? In other words, how can we understand this as not caused by a transcendent thing in itself?

Salomon Maimon tried to answer this question. Not only did he show the difficulties of the Kantian proposal, but he sketched a way of getting round them. In this paper, I will present the Maimonian position and evaluate it in terms of this problem, trying to establish its contribution to the development of critical philosophy. Prior to this, however, in order to place this proposal in a proper focus, I will briefly refer to the issue of the thing in itself as broached by the first interpreters of the CPR: Jacobi, Gottlob Ernst Schulze, and Karl Leonhard Reinhold.


The issue of the given in the first commentators. The Maimonian interpretation of the CPR differs somewhat from the interpretations of subsequent commentators of the work, in the sense that on the one hand, he takes the stance that to maintain criticism it is necessary to defuse the metaphysical-causal charge of his affirmation, while on the other, he does his very best to remain close to Kantianism, which he understands to be imbued in the critical spirit, and not simply get rid of the CPR. Jacobi, Reinhold, and Schulze respectively stray from at least one of these two attitudes. Jacobi formulates the issue of the thing in itself in such a way that his solution does not appear possible within the framework of the CPR or of a critical model. He states that entering into the Kantian system involves acknowledging Kant's distinction between a thing in itself that is uncognoscible and phenomena that are cognoscible. Nonetheless, this distinction, which at first enables us to overcome a naive realism that believes that we really know the thing in itself without involving our way of knowing, turns against the Kantian system, as this system considers that it is incorrect to affirm the existence of a transcendent thing in itself (in other words a thing in itself that could be reached cognoscitively), because knowledge is merely phenomenal. (10)

Now then, a sensible receptive knowledge would in itself demand--owing to a rational requirement--a reference to a thing in itself that operates as a source of my passive or receptive representations. To affirm a receptive sensibility would necessarily imply a thing in itself as a source of the received representations. "To feel passively or to suffer," says Jacobi, "is only one half of a condition that cannot be thought of the basis of this half alone." (11) It will therefore be necessary to suppose yet again, by need of the same rational thought--because the matter cannot be thought of otherwise--that the thing in itself is something existent, in such a way that the only possible course would be to abandon Kantian criticism.

Although Jacobi detects the inconsistency that exists in the CPR, he gives no solution that could be framed within criticism, beyond the dogmatic implication of the text, and he simply removes himself from the Kantian spirit and the CPR.

Karl Leonhard Reinhold differs from Jacobi in that he tries to formulate the Kantian theory in a plausible way. For Reinhold, there would effectively be a thing in itself that determines our representations. To return to realism, overcome by Kant, would be inconvenient. The thing in itself would not be directly cognoscible, as would happen in a dogmatic metaphysics, but its causal effect on knowledge would be affirmable. "That by means of which the represented stands apart from the mere form of representation belongs to the thing in itself." (12) In his theory, Reinhold accepted the "existence" of something "external to representation." (13)

This interpretation of the CPR can also be criticised as dogmatic, since it strays from one of the fundamental principles of criticism, namely that the use of pure concepts of understanding is only legitimate with regard to phenomena. Criticism aims to do without the noncognoscible to clarify knowledge. Reinhold, on the other hand, does not overcome this "realism" and establishes the existence of a transcendent entity or item that would play an all-important role in the explanation of human knowledge. So, although Reinhold does not reject the CPR, in his attempt at solving the issue, he does stray beyond the criticism which is its cornerstone.

In this sense, Gottlob Ernst Schulze remonstrates Reinhold for the transcendent use of the category of causality. Cause, effect, and reality (Wirklichkeit) are concepts that can only be applied validly, within the framework of the critical system, on phenomena, not within the relations between objects "in themselves," which are removed from our capacity of knowledge and from our intuitions. (14) Nonetheless, Schulze adopts a sceptical position similar to that of David Hume, not only against Reinhold's interpretation of the CPR but also against the CPR itself. According to Schulze, the CPR would fall into the same error as Reinhold. (15) Schulze says "According to its most important principles and results," when referring to the CPR,
 the categories of cause and actuality [Wirklichkeit] can only be
 applied on empiric intuitions, if they are to have a sense and
 meaning. But, what we cannot do is to intuit the subject of the
 representations [the thing in itself]..., so then it cannot belong
 to the realm of objects that are cognisable to us; in this way
 according to the tenets of critical philosophy, it is not a
 cognoscible actuality [Wirklichkeit] with a content [reale],
 neither a cognoscible causality with a content. (16)

In other words, both Jacobi and Schulze would break off with the CPR--for opposite reasons--and Reinhold would try to remain close to it but on the basis of a dogmatism that Schulze finds unacceptable and which is, in effect, unacceptable if criticism is assumed in a consequent way.

On the other hand, Maimon will attempt to take that criticism of the CPR as far as possible, which to a certain degree would imply that he will not aim at completely severing his links with the CPR. Nonetheless, he will not be satisfied with keeping to a dogmatic interpretation of the work, which accepts the transcendent application of categories. In any case, this interpretation would imply going beyond the text of the CPR. What Maimon definitely aims at is to express in his thought the fundamental critical intention of the CPR, which he understands to consist in the idea that knowledge can only be clarified with knowledge, without resorting to entities or items that are transcendent to knowledge. In critical philosophy "we cannot refer to that which causes knowledge, but rather to what is contained in it." (17) This intention, which would be the basis of the CPR, is what Maimon aims at depicting in his doctrine of the given.


Critical Reinterpretations of the Kantian Concepts. In his interpretation of the given, Maimon tries to remain within the boundaries of critical philosophy. From this point of view, both the metaphysical-dogmatic realism of pre-Kantian philosophy, together with Reinhold and--should we accept the interpretations of their critics--Kant, when trying to explain knowledge in reference to a thing in itself, would make the mistake of crossing the threshold of the cognoscible, and understand that the category of cause has a transcendent application.

This means placing reason in the dogmatic position of aiming to explain knowledge on the basis of an entity or item inaccessible to this knowledge. So, nothing is clarified, as this is an obscure item, unknown and removed from the clarity of knowledge. The issue is rather a simple supposition of an unproved relationship. (18) Maimon searches more for a self-foundation than for a pseudoexplanation that is based on items that are beyond knowledge. (19)

The consequent assumption, then, of the critical attitude implies the limitation of the application of the concepts of understanding to the sphere of phenomena and not trying to explain knowledge on the basis of "causes" or "existences" that are removed from the sphere of phenomena or knowledge. Critical knowledge is limited to explaining that which is immanently accessible to us and not inaccessible transcendent beings. (20)

With this constraint in mind, the only possible solution to the problem of explaining knowledge would be to include in some way the thing in itself within the realm of what is at least potentially cognoscible. This is the solution proposed by Maimon. "Maimon," says Samuel Hugo Bergman, "placed the two elements of knowledge, understanding and sensibility, within cognition." (21)

In this Maimonian interpretation of the CPR, the thing in itself is, first of all, an idea to be attained, rather than something causal removed from us. (22) "As I see it," writes Maimon, "knowledge of the thing in itself is nothing but the complete knowledge of phenomena." (23) If the question about the thing in itself cannot be answered in a metaphysical-dogmatic way, resorting to a simply assumed but uncognoscible cause, and the philosophical-critical response kept within the realm of what is cognoscible and of its analytically accessible conditions of possibility, then the term "thing in itself' only has meaning as a complete knowledge of phenomena, like the total realization of knowledge on the part of the cognoscent subject. Strictly speaking, the question regarding something that goes beyond this complete knowledge lacks sense for a philosophy orientated at determining the cognoscible and its conditions of possibility.

If we bear the above in mind, it can be said that the question regarding the place from which the given is given is badly phrased, as there is nothing like a place that is transcendent to knowledge from which the given can be given. It cannot be given from another part beyond the realm of knowledge and its conditions because in that case it would (once again) be a causal given, which, as we have seen, is unacceptable from the critical point of view. Maimon writes,
 Given does not mean ... something within us, which has a cause
 outside of us: because this cannot be immediately perceived, only
 concluded.... [Given] merely means a representation whose way of
 appearing before us is unknown. (24)

For Maimon, "passivity is not 'referential'." (25)

It is subjectivity itself that gives itself the given from itself. In other words, the given emerges from a transcendental principle, not from a transcendent place. "All [awareness of objects] would be a mere modification of the capacity of representation," (26) and it would not refer to another cause. The given is pure representation that is not referred to something transcendent to the representative activity of the subject itself. There is no reference to a world "beyond" what can be represented. (27)

On its part, this placement of the given in cognoscible subjectivity should not be understood causally, as if there were something similar to a hidden entity which we call subject, which causally produces sensible representations. Such a concept would mean that there has been no progress with respect to the dogmatism that Kant and Reinhold were accused of, since, if this were so, it would be a case of resorting to an instance beyond knowledge to explain knowledge. The subjective pole simply alludes to the function of the act or the realization of knowledge. (28) It is the act of knowledge itself in all its shapes that is the core point of remission of concepts and intuitions, an act of knowledge that, just as its condition, requires a function of unity which is the transcendental subject. (29)

Now, then, if sensibility is the capacity of receiving in human knowledge, the previous statements would lead us to conclude that sensibility in itself does not exist, if by "receiving" we understand the passive act of making a place for items that are removed from the subject itself, because there is nothing different from the representations that the subject spontaneously gives to himself. (30) Furthermore, according to this idea, subjectivity must be a spontaneous principle of knowledge: because it is impossible to go to a thing in itself that is different from the subject's knowledge, the only possibility is that subjectivity is the spontaneous principle of the totality of the phenomena, although, as I have said, not causally, but as a mere function of knowledge, which is no more than the act of knowledge itself, of which it is a principle.

But, if the principle of the given is the subject, which is a function of knowledge, why is the given represented passively, namely as if it were received from elsewhere? I should clarify that in all truth Maimon considered that sheer receptivity would never be completely attainable, as this would mean arriving at a point of utter absence of activity, and this is death or the utter void of knowledge. The passivity of sensation would be "a mere idea, which we are continually approaching though a reduction of awareness (but which we will never be able to reach, because the absence of all awareness = 0, and consequently it cannot be a modification of the capacity for knowledge). (31)

Knowledge never contains absolute cognoscitive passivity. Passivity as representation emerges from the reduction of the activity of the subject, a reduction that brings the emergence of the illusion of an active external cause that we simply receive. In view of the incapacity of finite understanding to penetrate into the rule of the emergence of the object, imagination tries to replace lack of vision by adding the unpenetrated parts temporally and spatially. (32) The comparison of the greater degrees of awareness with their lesser counterparts would bring forward the idea of a receptive passivity of what is added to space and time, in such a way that what remains in space and time is assumed to have an origin that is unrelated to subjectivity. (33)

This misunderstanding would be expressed in the Maimonian distinction between "representation" (Vorstellung) and "presentation" (Darstellung). The word representation is especially suggestive in English, as it refers to presenting again or making present again something absent, although it already exists as a given thing. Representation (we insert the hyphen between "re" and "presentation" to emphasise the sense of the action of representing again) would simply involve the upgrading of the appearance of something which already exists. The word itself would induce us to fall into an error which would be to suppose the existence of an object beyond representation itself. In other words, the meaning of the word re-presentation would make our reason necessarily demand a previously existing presentation to which we must resort for a new presentation. In this respect, Maimon says:
 "The word representation [Vorstellung, whose literal translation
 from the German is 'to place in front'], used in its primitive
 usage, leads us to an error, because in fact, in this case the
 issue is not a representation, in other words, the mere
 presentation of something that is not present, but a presentation,
 in other words to represent as extant what had never existed." (34)

The word presentation (Darstellung) is best adjusted to the way in which knowledge effectively occurs for Maimon. In knowledge, understanding constitutively places the known in front of it. The issue is not to bring forward an existing object but rather to constitute it in the act itself of bringing it forward. (35)

Nonetheless, we should ask ourselves the reason for the existence of less awareness or reduction of the activity of knowledge in the subject, which is exactly the condition of its possibility. We have already seen that passiveness cannot be caused by an external thing in itself because it does not admit the critical principle from which Kant and Maimon operate. Therefore, the source of that relative passiveness or reduction of conscience should, paradoxically, be located in the activity of knowledge itself. In knowledge, this source of relative passiveness could be found either in the understanding or capacity of rules, or if not, in an autonomous principle, different from understanding.

In this last case, we would have to consider this source of autonomous passivity as a positive principle or a generator of purely sensible representations that the subject merely receives from within, from his own activity, ignoring all rule of emergence because there is no rule of emergence whatsoever. The rules of the emergence of objects cannot belong to a pure sensibility, whose source would be transcendental subjectivity, but conceived as a sensibility that would be separated from the faculty of the rules. These rules belong to understanding, so that consequently this sensibility, considered as an autonomous positive principle, is a sensibility that is removed from the rules.

This sensibility would be impossible as a principle of knowledge. To say "make emerge" without obeying any law of emergence is nothing but creating the emergence of something beyond the necessary rules of emergence and constitution, in other words, removed from the way in which understanding itself operates; this would make absolutely impossible the constitution of objects able to make the correlative emergence of a conscious knowledge of objects. When referring to the eventual lack of conceptuality in phenomena, Kant himself stated: in this situation our own representations would be "less even than a dream." (36)

So this passivity is not due to an external cause or to a sensible autonomous principle in the subject, and its source can only lie in understanding. Nevertheless, this is where two possibilities appear. This first, which would appear as a positive principle, is not acceptable, because the issue is the incapacity of understanding to make cognoscible the mode of rule of emergence of the given, in other words, of its own activity. So the only possibility is a defect or limitation in the principle of the act of knowing: sensibility cannot be anything but a mere defect of the spontaneity of the subject, nothing else than the expression of finitude of cognoscitive activity. (37)

Consequently, sensibility and understanding would not be two radically different elements, founded on two diverse principles: "Sensibility is in us incomplete understanding" (38) says Maimon. So that in a certain way, sensibility emerges from understanding and more precisely expresses its finitude. In this way, the given is not a positive reality that has full autonomy with regard to understanding; rather, it is the defect of human understanding, of its finitude itself and of nothing else. (39)

Maimon clearly differs from Kant and resorts to the tradition of Leibniz and Wolff and understands that the given is a less clear representation than a conceptual one, (40) whose specific character would be caused by the "reduction of conscience" or the activity of the subject in his cognoscitive act. (41) Conceptual representations are transparent for us, we understand them fully. We would also fully understand the object that we would completely create from our concepts, in the guise of an infinite understanding. Nonetheless, Maimon states, with the exception of the mathematical objects--that we construct in accordance with our concepts (42)--the rule of the emergence of the given is unknown to us. (43)

Human understanding--the spontaneity of the subject, the capacity of rules--is then, Maimon admits, finite, in other words, it is always in front of something given whose rule or way of emergence is unknown. (44) Finite understanding's incapacity to understand this emergence of the given, its way or rule of emergence, is what would make its temporal and spatial representation a simple addition (with no strict unity). (45) Sensibility would be the realm of representation whose source is understanding, but whose rule or way of emergence is not fully conscious. (46) To be affected by perceptions is then definitely an expression of an action of understanding that is not totally perceived by our awareness; it is the manifestation of an incapacity of finite understanding, to be aware in the act of knowledge of the conceptual nature of the objects in front of it (understanding). (47) So, this is how Maimon views the establishment of the relationship between the originally conceptual character of intuitions and the representations of intuitions in time and space.


The idea of an infinite understanding For several reasons, Maimon resorts to the idea of infinite understanding as principle of all representation. First, there is the acknowledgement of the finite nature of human understanding. Second, there is the statement of the originally conceptual nature of sensibility. We have seen (1) that human understanding is finite, in other words it does not acknowledge the rule or mode of emergence of its objects. (2) However, sensibility should also be originally conceptual because it cannot proceed (a) from a third party (thing in itself, which would signify a fall into dogmatism), (b) nor from an active principle of subjectivity, other than understanding, because this purely sensible active principle would not be, as we have seen, able to account for the emergence of awareness itself.

Given, then, (1) that human understanding is finite and (2) that sensibility must be originally spontaneous, we come to the need for an idea of completely spontaneous infinite understanding, which creates objects in a radically spontaneous way. If not, we would have to affirm that there are certain objects, namely those that are sensitively given to finite understanding, that completely lack emergence modes or rules. This is impossible because in this way we would be dealing with objects which, in addition to being uncognoscible (because their lack of rules or their chaotic nature does not produce the emergence of an awareness), would have a transcendent origin to transcendental subjectivity, which is understanding. (48)

Despite the limitation of finite human understanding, which determines the presence of sensibility and the given in our knowledge, Maimon sees that there is a difference in degree but not in essence (49) between human understanding affected by finitude (which prevents us from apprehending the rule of the emergence of the sensitive) and infinite understanding. Maimon states "Our understanding is exactly the same [as the infinite] but more limited." (50) Although infinite understanding can be in principle distinguished from the finite, as the former is not faced with something received of which there is no awareness of the rule of emergence (as it is totally spontaneous), finite understanding is definitely the same as its infinite counterpart, and as such can also be the creator in the field of mathematics, for example, where it would be capable of creating objects according to its own rules. (51)

All in all, the definite reason that would make impossible their essential differentiation is that there is nothing like an essence of the sensible. The sensibility is only a defect, or, in other words, a lesser degree of awareness in an understanding that, therefore, has the same essence with that which realizes it to an ultimate degree. Human understanding stops being infinite understanding, because it is no longer understood totally and transparently in a conceptually aware mode within its activity of knowledge.


Beyond the CPR. In his attempt at solving the issue, Maimon is taking a step which, although inspired by criticism, goes beyond Kant, who clearly establishes the presence of the given as a dimension that is irreducible to understanding. (52) The separation of the given regarding the subject is replaced by the idea of an infinite understanding that is immanent to knowledge and that operates in it as the principle of all representations, both conscious and unconscious.

On the other hand, in CPR A 271-2 Kant clearly states the presence of determinations of the object that correspond to the dimension of the given and which are irreducible to the spontaneity of understanding and its concepts. Understanding and its concepts are unable to explain the given in an overall way, since there are objects that have a different nature from conceptual nature. There is a part of the phenomenon that is simply given from an instance of nonconceptual nature. For Kant, not every difference between objects could be explained conceptually. There are merely positional differences between conceptually identical objects.
 If I know a drop of water in all its internal determinations as a
 thing in itself, and if the whole concept of any one drop is
 identical with that of every other, I cannot allow that any drop is
 different from any other. But if the drop is an appearance in
 space, it has its location not only in understanding (under
 concepts) but in sensible outer intuition (in space).... Difference
 of locations, without any further conditions, makes the plurality
 and distinction of objects, as appearances, not only possible but
 also necessary. (53)

In the CPR, it is only intuition which can make it possible to distinguish two objects which have an identical concept. Conceptuality is not enough, not even with all the determinations it provides, to finish demarcating the phenomena. Sensibility is just able to make possible the emergence of multiple phenomena, regardless of their identical concept. So sensibility operates as a principle of nonconceptual nature. So Kant cannot give a solution similar to that of Maimon, for whom what is given sensibly is in the end explainable in a conceptual way. (54)

With his position, Kant remains bound to a certain realism, as he cannot explain the given without referring to an item that is beyond knowledge itself, namely what is sensibly given, which in all truth is not a real explanation. Maimon radicalises the Kantian questioning in the measure that he completely reduces the given to understanding as a condition of knowledge. The given is definitely the result of the finitude of that understanding. So, in principle, he makes it possible for understanding--in its capacity as a function of knowledge--to be the only thing that can explain the way in which knowledge happens. Knowledge would fulfil, at least in respect of the given, the critical ideal of explaining itself to itself and not by reference to uncognoscible external instances.


Relevance and Limitations of the Maimonian Solution to the Issue of the Given. With his doctrine of the given, Maimon radically crosses the line of realism and understands the thing in itself as an idea that alludes to the complete knowledge of the phenomenon, (55) which, although never totally realizable by finite understanding, could be partially attained. According to Maimon (years before Schulze) the thing in itself should not be understood causally, if we are to be consistent with the critical dye of the CPR. Nonetheless, he differs from Schulze and Jacobi, as he looks for a way of overcoming the problem of the thing in itself with a systematic interpretation of the CPR so that the affirmation of the thing in itself becomes plausible. On the other hand, the latter ended up by abandoning Kant.

Maimon's solution, to a certain degree, breaks away from what he considered to be dogmatic remnants of the Kantian philosophy and triggers a fundamental reflection that provides the foundations of later idealism. (56) In Maimon, the step towards an idealism more radical than Kant's would have already been taken. As in Fichte, in Maimon we can distinguish subjectivity as the source of all representations, including sensitive representations, (57) with respect to empirical awareness, which considers sensibility receptive, despite the fact that it is also active in nature. (58) Fichte's Ich is similar to Maimon's infinite understanding. (59) In Maimon, human understanding is not essentially different from infinite understanding--the difference is only expressed in degrees--so it would perhaps be possible to consider the identification of both. (60)

Most Maimonian scholars share the opinion that Maimon's thought could be taken as a step from transcendental Kantian philosophy to the idealism of Fichte and later of Schelling. (61) This historical-philosophical relevance would be both negative and positive, since Maimon not only showed the inadequacy and problems of the Kantian approach, but he also tried to solve them. (62) This is the case as regards the issue of the given. It is precisely the inclusion of the thing in itself within the cognitive faculty, which enables him to surpass Kant and pave the road for Fichte. (63)

Despite its merits, the Maimonian proposal does have its problems. I should like to refer to one which, I believe, affects its very core. Maimon's explanations of the given solve the problem, as posed in the CPR, and advance towards a more radical position from a critical point of view. However, in this passage, he appears to abandon criticism. On affirming that an uncognoscible item is the basis of knowledge, namely, infinite understanding, he set aside the explanation of knowledge in terms of what is revealed in it and in doing so would be resorting to external uncognoscible conditions.

A possibility of saving Maimon from falling into this pit would be to interpret the infinite understanding in his texts as an idea which he could consider as playing a purely regulatory role in human knowledge. (64) Nonetheless, I believe that this interpretation faces serious constraints. First, Maimon expressly states the existence and constitutive nature of infinite understanding: "This schema [finite understanding] points at the idea [of infinite understanding], and the idea at the thing itself or at its existence, without which this idea and its schema would be impossible." (65) The second, and perhaps more important, difficulty is that the originally conceptual nature of the objects of experience is a condition of a conscious knowledge of objects, and this originally conceptual nature implies an infinite understanding that is the base of these objects. If we take infinite understanding as a merely regulatory idea, the explanation is no longer valid because it is no longer possible to affirm that objects are originally conceptual, when the constitutive basis of their conceptuality has disappeared. Kant himself saw that regulative ideas do not explain the way in which objects are constituted in human knowledge but only subsequently to order those that are already constituted. (66) To say that infinite understanding is a regulative idea would consequently mean denying it its role in the constitution of objects, which is a function which Maimon also gives it.

The other possibility is to take infinite understanding as constitutive, and this necessarily implies falling into the clutches of dogmatism once again. A constituting infinite understanding can only be understood as an absolute and self-conscious constitutive item. So while it is infinite, it is able to produce the complete object from within itself, while understanding is completely produced from its own concepts; in other words, it should be fully aware of constitutive activity in itself and what has been constituted as such. Taken as such, an understanding of this kind must be substantial.

Nonetheless, Maimoinian dogmatism is shaded. As I have said, there is no essential difference between finite and infinite understanding, the difference can only be expressed in degrees, so we are aware of the nature of the infinite understanding as understanding. The idea of infinite understanding would be the complete realization of knowledge in which we have a part, namely by means of a conceptual construction, which we would realise in mathematics. "All the mathematical concepts are thought by us and at the same time established as real objects through construction a priori. Thus we are in this respect similar to God." (67) Our knowledge of infinite understanding would consequently be direct, "as in part we have the same [way of thinking of infinite understanding]." (68)

However, this shading in dogmatism is not enough to overcome it. For the latter to occur, Maimon would have to effectively give us a knowledge of infinite understanding, in other words, of a purely conceptual and not intuitive knowledge, conscious of the creation of objects from pure concepts.

We are not really aware of this act of creating objects on the basis of pure concepts in natural science or in mathematics. We are not aware of the way in which natural objects emerge from concepts. However, even when we are aware of the construction of objects in mathematics, they are really constructions based on a certain material, and we are not aware of the respective constitutive act of this material.

In this way, for example, we are not aware of the creative act which gives way to the spatiality which is the basis of geometrical constructions. (69) Only if this conscious knowledge took place, would we have a correlative immanent knowledge of infinite understanding and not a mere conclusion that reaches out to what would definitely be a transcendent substance.

It would seem possible to indirectly show that the intuitive has a conceptual root, in the measure that the impossibility of the Kantian dualism is proven and gives credit to the conceptual origin of the given. On the other hand, given the finitude of understanding, it is impossible to give evidence of pure and nonintuitive knowledge. This is the impossibility that allows Kant to argue, for example, against the attempt to explain conceptually sensible differences of objects that are conceptually identical.

Maimon saw the problem clearly. In his Essay on Transcendental Philosophy, when he speaks of the difficulty of the "explanation of the emergence of the world (in accordance with its matter) from intelligence," (70) he is obviously referring to infinite or creative intelligence. He outlines an explanation based on his theory of differentials, (71) affirming the purely conceptual nature of mathematical knowledge; (72) he even gives an example of how what initially would appear as a mere intuitive conjunction could become conceptual. (73) Nonetheless, these are only simple indications of how the test would be possible, not its rendition. The issue remains pending until the test is finally given.

I tend to doubt the reality of the solution because we cannot conceive a purely conceptual knowledge of how objects constitute themselves completely from the conceptual and how the conceptual becomes an object.

According to habitual readings of his works, Kant on his part holds his position that understanding and sensibility are sources of knowledge that are mutually irreducible. He is thus saved from the problems related to the affirmation of an infinite understanding as the basis of knowledge. Nonetheless, he must face the difficult and apparently insoluble question of explaining the origin of the given as something independent from the transcendental subject which is not causally conceivable--as I have tried to put forward here--and the other difficult issue of the relationship of understanding with an unrelated sensibility, from which necessarily determined objects should emerge, an issue that is so ample that it exceeds the boundaries of this paper. (74)

Universidad de los Andes, Instituto de Filosofia

Correspondence to: Instituto de Filosofia, Universidad de los Andes, Av. San Carlos de Apoquindo 2200, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile.

(1) I used the Akademieausgabe; Berlin & Gottingen: De Gruyter, 1900, vol. 3 (A edition of 1781) and 4 (B edition of 1787); and the translation from Norman Kemp Smith; London: Macmillan, 1961.

(2) See, for example, CPR B 42-5, 49-72, A 235-60/B 294-315.

(3) See CPR A 50-2/B 74-6; A 68/B 93.

(4) See CPR A 278/B 334; A 372; A 393; A 538/B 566.

(5) See CPR A 277/B 333; A/380; A 613/B 641.

(6) See CPR, for example, A 146-47/B 185-87.

(7) Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, David Hume uber den Glauben oder Idealismus und Realismus. Ein Gesprach, in Werke (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1968), 2:304. The emphasis is original. All translations are my own, unless otherwise indicated.

(8) See CPR B 41, B 506-07, note; Ernst Cassirer, Das Erkenntnisproblem in der Philosophie und Wissenschaft der neueren Zeit III, in E. Cassirer, Gesammelte Werke. Hamburger Ausgabe (Hamburg: Meiner, 2000), 4:1-2; Richard KrSner, Von Kant bis Hegel, 4th ed. (Ttibingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007), 1:56-7.

(9) See CPR B 52, 68, 72, 93, 148-49, 159, 333-35, 342-46; A 373-74, 389.

(10) Jacobi, Werke 2:304.

(11) Ibid., 2:309.

(12) Karl Leonhard Reinhold, Beytrage zur Berichtigung bisheriger Missverstandnisse der Philosophen, Erster Band, das Fundament der Elementarphilosophie betreffend (Jena: Widtmann & Mauke, 1790), 188. The emphasis is original. See ibid., 210-11; 241-47.

(13) Ibid., 216. The emphasis is original.

(14) See Gottlob Ernst Schulze, Aenesidemus oder uber die Fundamente der von Herrn Professor Reinhold in Jena gelieferten Elementar-Philosophie. Nebst einer Vertheidigung gegen die Anmaassungen der Vernunftkritik (Hamburg: Meiner, 1996), 130-37.

(15) See ibid.

(16) Ibid., 155. The emphasis is original.

(17) Salomon Maimon, Kritische Untersuchungen uber den menschlichen Geist, in Gesammelte Werke 7:67; hereafter GW. I used the Gesammelte Werke, 3rd ed. Hildesheim: Olms, 2003, vol. 2, 3, 4, 5, 7.

(18) See Salomon Maimon, Versuch einer neuen Logik oder Theorie des Denkens. Nebst angehangten Briefen des Philaletes an Aenesidemus, in GW 5:185; Cassirer, Das Erkenntnisproblem, 80-1.

(19) See Maimon, Versuch uber die Transzendentalphilosophie, in GW 2:203.

(20) See for example, CRP A 146-47/B 185-87; Max Horkheimer, Vorlesung uber die deutsche idealistische Philosophie, in Gesammelte Schriften (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1990), 10:84-6.

(21) Samuel Hugo Bergman, The Philosophy of Solomon Maimon (Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1967), 14; see ibid., 12, 22, 23, 29.

(22) See Samuel Atlas, From Critical to Speculative Idealism. The Philosophy of Solomon Maimon (Der Haag: Martinus Nijhoff, 1964) 14-5, 20-37.

(23) Solomon Maimon, Philosophisches Worterbuch oder Beleuchtung der wichtigen Gegenstande der Philosophie in alphabetischer Ordnung, in GW 3:200-01; see GW 2:366.

(24) Ibid., 2:203; see ibid., 7:67.

(25) Peter Thielke, "Intuition and Diversity: Kant and Maimon on Space and Time," in Salomon Maimon: Rational Dogmatist, Empirical Skeptic, ed. G. Freudenthal (Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003), 113.

(26) Maimon, GW 2:163.

(27) See ibid., 2:205-06; 5:426-27.

(28) Maimon rejects metaphysical-dogmatic interpretations of the transcendental subject. He understands (and approves) that CPR "does not determine any being like the subject and cause of knowledge, but only investigates what is contained in knowledge itself ... The Critique of Pure Reason does not determine the mind [Gemut] as a thing in itself, not as a noumenon, neither as an idea. Mind in this means no other than the completely indeterminate subject of representations, to whom they refer. The determination of this subject as a thing in itself, noumenon, or idea would turn it into a representation of itself. Then, it would stop being the mere subject of representations. For this reason it must remain undetermined, according to its concept. It is merely thought of as a logical subject, but not in the category in which it should correspond, in other words, never as a noumenon." Solomon Maimon, Briefe des Philaletes an Aenesidemus, in GW 5;412-13. Nicolai Hartmann says of the text: "This by no means is a hypostatisation of the absolute subject to the subject in itself." Nicolai Hartmann, Die Philosophie des Deutschen Idealismus (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1960), 23.

(29) See Atlas, From Critical to Speculative Idealism, 55-6.

(30) "You should avoid the word 'affect'"--Maimon tells Kant--"which means to suffer from the effect of an external cause;" GW 7:67.

(31) See ibid., 2:168.

(32) See ibid., 2:18-9, 133; Avraham Ehrlich, Das Problem des Besonderen in der theoretischen Philosophie Salomon Maimons (Koln: Diss, 1986), 37-8.

(33) See Maimon, GW 2:419-20; Manfred Frank, 'Unendliche Annaherung'. Die Anfange der philosophischen Fruhromantik , 2nd ed. (Frankfurt, a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1998), 131, 136.

(34) Maimon, GW 7:142-43.

(35) See ibid., 2:29-30.

(36) CPR A 112.

(37) See Bergman, The Philosophy of Solomon Maimon, 14, 16-7; Atlas, From Critical to Speculative Idealism, 81-2; Hartmann, Die Philosophie des Deutschen Idealismus, 21; Frank, 'Unendliche Annaherung', 123; Ehrlich, Das Problem des Besonderen, 24-5.

(38) Maimon, GW 2:.-183.

(39) See ibid., 29; Charlotte Katzhoff, "Salomon Maimon's Critique of Kant's Theory of Consciousness," in Zeitschrift fur philosophische Forschung 35 (1981): 186-8; Hartmann, Die Philosophie des Deutschen Idealismus, 20-1; Frank, 'Unendliche Annaherung', 123-32; Horkheimer, Gesammelte Schriften 10:88-9; Thielke, "Intuition and Diversity: Kant and Maimon on Space and Time," 103.

(40) See Maimon, GW 2:63-4.

(41) See ibid., 2:168.

(42) See, for example, ibid., 2:2; Streifereien im Gebiete der Philosophie, in GW 4:42.

(43) See ibid., 2:1-2, 203; 5:250; 7:67.

(44) See ibid., 2:86-7, n. 203.

(45) See ibid., 2:18-9, 133.

(46) See ibid., 2:182-83.

(47) See ibid., 2:203.

(48) Maimon's thought regarding the fact that "knowledge of the thing in itself is nothing but the complete knowledge of phenomena" is thus validated ibid., 3:200-01; see ibid., 2:366. There is no "other world" beyond the cognoscible, when cognoscible is the possible object of an infinite subjectivity.

(49) See ibid., 2:65.

(50) Ibid., 2:65; see Frank, 'Unendliche Annaherung', 130.

(51) See Maimon, GW 2:2; 4:42.

(52) This identification gives the finishing touch to the step towards strong idealism, which will later be developed by Fichte; see Bergman, The Philosophy of Solomon Maimon, 240; Kuno Fischer, Geschichte der neueren Philosophie (Heidelberg: Winter, 1914), 6:47-50; Wilhelm Windelband, A History of Philosophy (New York: Macmillan, 1919), 570; Wilhelm Dilthey, "Die Rostocker Kanthandschriften," in Gesammelte Schriften, 6th ed., (GSttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1990), 4:319.

(53) CPR A 272; see A 282.

(54) See M. Frank, Auswege aus dem Deutschen Idealismus (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 2007), 397-406.

(55) See Maimon, GW 2:103, 209.

(56) See Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Gesamtausgabe der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (Stuttgart/Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1962.), 3/2:282; 4/1:212.

(57) See Maimon, GW 2:205.

(58) See ibid., 2:168, 205-06.

(59) See Frederick C. Beiser, The Fate of Reason. German Philosophy from Kant to Fichte (Cambridge/London: Harvard University Press, 1987) 287.

(60) Maimon, GW 2:65; "The given is then that whose way of emerging in the subject remains unknown to us.... Both material and form belong to the subject." Hartmann, Die Philosophie des Deutschen Idealismus, 21; see Katzhoff, "Salomon Maimon's Critique of Kant's Theory of Consciousness," 186-88.

(61) In this way, Atlas says that philosophy constitutes "a necessary and logical transition, between critical thought and metaphysical speculation," that would return with idealism. Atlas, From Critical to Speculative Idealism, 1. Bergman speaks of "Maimon's great importance for the understanding of the development of philosophical thought in the post-Kantian period." Bergman, The Philosophy of Solomon Maimon, viii. For Beiser, this Essay would be "a work of the first importance for the history of post-Kantian idealism." Beiser, The Fate of Reason, 286. He adds "to study Fichte, Schelling or Hegel without having read Maimon's Versuch is like studying Kant without having read Hume's Treatise;" ibid. Frank takes the opportunity to show Maimon's influence over Fichte; see Frank 'Unendliche Annaherung', 124, 126, 127-28, 131-32, 136; in this same sense see Atlas, From Critical to Speculative Idealism, 54. The Maimonian interpretation of the given as established in the subject would be what permitted the step towards Fichte's idealism. In this way, Frank concluded that the real founder of the new stream was Maimon and not Fichte, as is most usually given; see Frank 'Unendliche Annaherung', 123-24, 130-32, 136-37. This step is given thanks to his reinterpretation of the given not as an "external" or causally operating thing in itself, but as something that is clearly understood as not known conceptually; see Beiser, The Fate of Reason, 294, 306-09; Cassirer, Das Erkenntnisproblem, 86.

(62) See Beiser, The Fate of Reason, 286.

(63) See Bergman, The Philosophy of Solomon Maimon, 240; Windelband, A History of Philosophy, 570; Dilthey, Gesammelte Schriften, 4:319; Fischer, Geschichte der neueren Philosophie, 6:47-50.

(64) See Atlas From Critical to Speculative Idealism, 330; Beiser, The Fate of Reason, 304-05. There would exist a certain basis in Maimon's texts to support this: see GW 2:64; 7:163.

(65) See Maimon, GW 2:365-66. The interpreters of Maimon admit this dogmatic tendency of his thought, for example, Cassirer, Das Erkenntnisproblem, 92.

(66) See CPR A 644/B 672.

(67) Maimon, GW 4:42. The emphasis is original.

(68) Ibid., 4:42.

(69) This will determine that there cannot exist a coincidence between geometrical concepts and their construction; see ibid., 3:188; Gideon Freudenthal, Definition and Construction. Salomon Maimon's Philosophy of Geometry (Max-Planck-Institut fur Wissenschaftsgeschichte, 2006), Preprint, 317:118-20.

(70) Maimon, GW 2:62.

(71) Differentials would be the last intellectual parts of what is sensibly presented to finite understanding; see ibid., 2:27-34, 290-92; Bergman, The Philosophy of Solomon Maimon, 59-68, 257-71; Salomon Zac, Salomon Mammon. Critique de Kant (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1988), 155-71; Achim Engstler, Untersuchungen zum Idealismus Salomon Maimons (Stuttgart/ Bad Cannstatt: Fromman-Holzboog, 1990), 47-50, 128-43, 165-89; Meir Buzaglo, Solomon Maimon. Monism, Skepticism, and Mathematics (Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg Press, 2002), 124-28; Atlas, From Critical to Speculative Idealism, 109-23.

(72) See Maimon, GW 4:42; 2:2.

(73) In his Essay he tries to redirect the intuitive nature of the line (rectitude) towards a conceptual definition; see ibid., 2:65-70.

(74) I have broached these topics elsewhere. This paper is part of the results of the FONDECYT 11075027 Project, "The Juridical Standpoint and the Factic Standpoint in Salomon Maimon's Versuch uber die Transzendentalphilosophie." I am grateful to Rafael Simian and Mario Molina for very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
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Author:Herrera, Hugo Eduardo
Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Mar 1, 2010
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