Resolution of Problems
Associated with Kant's Object-Terms
The interpretation in Chapter VI of the perspectival relationship between Kant's six object-terms can serve not only to resolve numerous problems pointed out by interpreters relating to the intended meanings of these six terms, but also to clarify many ambiguities, both major and minor, in other aspects of his theory of knowledge. In this Appendix I will discuss various examples of both these issues, beginning with the first. I should make it clear at the outset of this primarily negative task (i.e., the task of clearing up misunderstandings in previous interpretations) that in many cases the writings of these same interpreters have provided me with invaluable help in my own attempts to understand the intricacies of Kant's theories. The extent of my indebtedness to them should be evident from the frequency of my references to their ideas in the main text.
The basic perspectival distinction between the thing in itself and the appearance, as referring to 'one and the same object considered from two perspectives' [S4:173]-or, more properly, to a distinction between the subject's perspective on an object and the lack thereof-has been made by quite a few interpreters in recent years. But in most cases it is not sufficiently set in the context of the distinction between the transcendental and empirical perspectives in general. Some writers, for example, tend to equate the two distinctions, or simply neglect the difference. Yet this gives rise to a tendency to regard the thing in itself as transcendental, when in fact it is transcendent, and to regard the appearance as empirical, when in fact it is transcendental. In such cases the interpretation falls victim all too easily to criticisms such as those put forward by Gram [G13:6-9]. His objections, which are based on empirical reflection [see below], can be overcome only by recognizing that for Kant all these distinctions are ultimately based on transcendental reflection [cf. A10: 43-5,55,66]. There is, of course, an empirical sense in which the very same terms can be used, such as when Kant speaks of appearances subjectively as mere empirical ideas or images in the mind, and of things in themselves objectively as independently real material objects [see Kt1:45,70,313-4]; but such usage must be carefully distinguished from the transcendental usage [as in A8:227-8], and is best reserved for Kant's explicitly empirical set of object-terms.
As well as recognizing Kant's basic perspectival distinction, some interpreters have suggested perspectival relationships between other sets of object-terms [see note VI.24]. However, no one to my knowledge has consistently applied the principle of perspective to all six terms. Findlay's initial explanation of the meanings of Kant's object-terms [F3:3-4] is the closest I have found to the position I have put forward. Unfortunately, after carefully discriminating Kant's meanings for each term, he proceeds to conflate them in his actual usage, reducing them in effect to a single distinction between the 'Transcendental Object', as referring generally to transcendent reality, and the 'appearance', as referring generally to empirical reality [e.g. 16-24,27; s.a. note VI.7].
Other interpreters have introduced an almost unending stream of varying suggestions as to how these terms ought to be used. A handful of examples will be sufficient to make this point clear, without any claim to represent an exhaustive overview. Perhaps the most commonly accepted view is expressed by Paulsen, who equates 'thing in itself' and 'noumenon', equates 'appearance' and 'phenomenon', distinguishes 'positive noumenon' and 'negative noumenon', and treats 'negative noumenon' as equivalent to 'transcendental object' [P4:148-50,154-5,192]. Al-Azm and Wolff also seem satisfied to equate 'phenomenon' and 'appearance', though they both carefully distinguish 'thing in itself' from 'negative noumenon' and 'positive noumenon' [A4:520; W21:165, 313-5; s.a. W9:162]. Gotterbarn similarly equates the former pair, as well as 'thing in itself' and 'positive noumenon', but distinguishes between 'transcendental object', 'negative noumenon' and 'thing in itself' [G11: 201]. By contrast, Bird and George both distinguish between 'appearance' and 'phenomenon', but not between 'thing in itself' and 'noumenon' [B20:18,19, 53-7; G7:513-4n]; and Bird sometimes blurs the distinction between 'thing in itself' and 'transcendental object' as well. Gram equates 'thing in itself' not with 'noumenon', but with 'phenomenon' [G13:1,5-6]! Allison cites different official meanings for each term, yet he tends to equate 'thing in itself' at times with 'negative noumenon' and at times with 'transcendental object', usually ignoring the role of the 'positive noumenon' [A7:94; A10:58,69]. And Buchdahl responds to the fact that the thing in itself seems to be connected in some way with each of the other object-terms by regarding it as 'Kant's umbrella term'.
Let us now look more closely at some of these positions, beginning with Allison's. His assertion that the noumenon 'has a basis in transcendental reflection' [A10:55], though in a sense true, is misleading. Of course, all the basic elements in each of Kant's systems are transcendental in the broad sense that the entire Critical philosophy adopts the Transcendental Perspective [see II.4 and III.4]. In the narrower sense, Kant's discussion of the transcendental set of object-terms does form the basis for his discussion of the noumenon [cf. 56-8]; nevertheless, 'noumenon' itself is an empirical object-term, so its function is more closely related to empirical reflection. Kant himself explicitly denies that we possess 'a transcendental perspective' from which we can view 'the noumenon as an object' [Kt1:313].
That Allison himself does not fully appreciate the empirical status of the noumenon is evident at several points in his discussion. For instance, in a rather obscure passage [A10:58] he quotes from Kt1:A253 as evidence of Kant's intent to distinguish between the noumenon and the transcendental object; yet he then plays down the importance of this distinction. After hinting at Kant's recognition, even in the first edition, of the correspondence between the transcendental object and the negative noumenon, he passes this off as insignificant, claiming that 'the noumenon in the negative sense is not really a noumenon' [A10:59-60]. His failure to grasp the perspectival character of this distinction leads him to regard the first edition version of the chapter on Phenomena and Noumena as more adequate than the second. By contrast, I have argued in note VI.23 that the second edition is indeed an improvement for just the reason Allison overlooks: the positive-negative noumenon distinction allows for a clearer explanation of the difference between the object as viewed from the transcendental and empirical perspectives. Even the passage Allison quotes [Kt1:A253] emphasizes that 'the transcendental object ... cannot be entitled the noumenon', because the former is related to 'appearance in general' (via the transcendental perspective), so 'I know nothing of what it is in itself', whereas the latter would require such knowledge (via the empirical perspective).
Furthermore, the very notion of a particular 'transcendental appearance' (i.e., a transcendental appearance viewed from the empirical perspective) would be called into question by adhering too rigidly to Allison's identification of the transcendental-empirical with the general-particular distinction. Such an association is misleading as long as it ignores the two different perspectives from which Kant refers to appearances. Allison claims in A10:70-1, for example, that any reference to 'the cause of a given appearance or representation ... is always an empirical matter' and that any reference to 'appearances in general' is always a transcendental matter. Although this is usually true, it should not be regarded as an absolute rule (especially in light of Kemp Smith's habit of inserting 'field of' [see note VI.14]). For Kant sometimes refers to the function of 'appearances in general' from within the empirical perspective (i.e., in the Analytic of Principles), as well as to the cause of particular appearances from within the transcendental perspective (i.e., in the Aesthetic).
Gram thinks he has discovered a fundamental contradiction in Kant's theory, according to which the 'thing in itself' must 'generate an appearance', yet cannot 'be an object of sensory awareness' [G13:1]. In fact, as we have seen, the thing in itself does not generate the appearance directly, but only through the mediation of the transcendental object. Nevertheless, it would be possible to render both of these predications compatible by regarding the former as referring to the thing (i.e., object) in itself as viewed from the empirical perspective (i.e., to the phenomenon), and the latter as referring to the same object as viewed from the transcendental perspective. Gram does indeed favor the empirical perspective in interpreting Kant's terms, for he equates 'things in themselves' with 'phenomenal substances'! Thus, he naturally rejects the former term as superfluous; yet the 'thing in itself' he so rejects is not the one which plays a key role in Kant's theory [see note VI.20], so his interpretation is actually a consequence of his failure to engage fully in transcendental reflection.
Bird engages more fully in transcendental reflection when he states in B20:49 that 'the transcendental notion [of appearance] explicitly rejects the existence in our experience of any ... (transcendental) object.' This statement, though technically correct, could unfortunately mislead readers into a muddle such as Gram's. If we interpret Bird as saying that we never have empiricalknowledge of the transcendental object as such, but only as it appears in phenomenal form, then his interpretation is obviously correct. But he seems also to be suggesting that the transcendental object itself transcends our experience in such a way that it is in no sense an element in empirical knowledge. Yet, as I argue in VII.2.A, the transcendental object is in fact the first and foremost element in systemt. The thing in itself, by contrast, is not an element in systemt. So Bird is probably using '(transcendental) object' to refer loosely (and so, inaccurately) to the thing in itself [s.a. 48-51], in which case he should have referred to it as transcendent.
Regarding the phenomenon as the final goal of empirical reflection, as I have done in VI.3, must be carefully distinguished from the typical phenomenalist interpretation of Kant which, after rejecting the thing in itself, conceives of the phenomenal world as a construction out of sense data. Such an approach entirely annuls Kant's revolutionary 'Copernican Perspective' [see II.4 and III.1] by conflating the transcendental and empirical perspectives. Phenomenalists fail to recognize that objects are properly viewed as constructions out of sense data only from a transcendental perspective (in which case the assumption that they are rooted in the thing in itself is unproblematic [see VI.2]) and as independently real entities only from the empirical perspective (in which case the thing in itself need never be mentioned [see note VI.15]). They misunderstand the role of the thing in itself because they erroneously take a transcendental construction to be empirical; and, as we saw in VI.3, the thing in itself is indeed problematic when it is viewed as a potential empirical object (i.e., as a positive noumenon). By properly distinguishing between these two perspectives, the phenomenalist theory of sense data would not be completely falsified; rather it would be rendered inefficacious, for it is transcendentally true (but trivially so) and empirically false.
Strawson is a good example of a phenomenalist interpreter of Kant. Alluding to Kant's doctrine of the noumenon, he argues: 'In order to set limits to coherent thinking, it is not necessary, as Kant ... attempted to do, to think both sides of those limits. It is enough to think up to them' [S17:44; s.a. W5:178]. This criticism is invalid, however, not only because it presupposes the inadequate interpretation of the thing in itself according to which it is equated with the noumenon and regarded as a separate object from the appearance [S17:90-1,238-9,245], but also because it depicts Kant as trying to set limits to 'coherent thinking' rather than to 'empirical knowledge'. Kant himself says coherent thinking is limited only by the law of noncontradiction, which cannot be overruled [Kt1:191]. Likewise, he holds that we cannot know both sides of the limits of empirical knowledge. As Paulsen rightly argues in P4:184-5, such views do not preclude the need to think both sides of the limits of knowledge by means of a concept such as the thing in itself.
Only because they conflate Kant's views on knowledge and thinking do interpreters such as Michalson see a 'discrepancy' between Kant's doctrine of the categories and his hypothesis of the noumenal [M11:39]. Moreover, as we have seen, the negative noumenon does not pass beyond the 'bounds of sense' at all, but merely marks the boundary. Rejecting it would make it impossible, in the context of Kant's theory, to establish the objective reality of any objects of knowledge whatsoever! Only the positive noumenon passes beyond this boundary, and must thereby be accepted by faith, if it is accepted at all [see V.4]. But even though it is epistemologically useless, the positive noumenon is not logically incoherent: as Bird contends, 'to think them as things in themselves'-that is, as positive noumena-is simply to admit 'that intelligible objects are conceivable, that is to say not logically impossible' [B20:192].
Findlay recognizes the importance of affirming the reality of the thing in itself, but he fails to distinguish properly between Kant's transcendental idealism and his empirical realism [cf. notes VI.12,15]. A perspectival interpretation of Kant's theory reveals the inadequacy of Findlay's (somewhat Hegelian) assertion that Kant sees 'a continuous spectrum from appearances which depart far from the reality of Things-in-themselves to appearances in which Things-in-themselves declare themselves more adequately' [F3:28]. For Kant always insists, on the contrary, that everything we encounter in experience is equally an appearance when considered transcendentally, and yet at the same time, when considered empirically, some objects prove to be independent (phenomenal) realities which are in principle completely knowable [see VI.3]. Only when limiting himself to the empirical perspective does Kant postulate such a spectrum of the real [e.g., in Kt1:209-11]. For 'the real in the appearance'  refers not to the thing in itself, but to the 'realitas phaenomenon' -that is, to everything in our experience of an object which can be viewed from the empirical perspective as 'objective' by virtue of its conforming to the principles of pure understanding [see VII.3.A]. Other than in this empirical sense, Kant gives no hint that some appearances, as Findlay suggests, may be 'more' real or 'less' real than others.
A view similar to Findlay's is proposed by Carus, who distinguishes between the thing in itself and the noumenon by regarding the latter as 'man's subjective conception of the thing in itself' [C4:181]. He explains that noumena, 'as creations of thought ... are intended as models of the objects themselves ... We may fitly call the realities for whose designation noumena ... have been intended ... objects [i.e., things] in themselves' . Unfortunately, he diverges from Kant when he suggests that 'the ideal of science' is to construct 'the noumenal world, the world of thought' . For as we saw in VI.3, the task of science is to come to know the phenomena not the noumena; our ideas about the latter can at best serve as heuristic tools for the regulation of scientific inquiry [see VII.3.B and XI.4].
Let us turn now to look at some broader issues in Kant's epistemology which are also clarified by the interpretation of Kant's theory of the object offered in Chapter VI. A good example is the effect it has on the disagreement over the question of whether or not pure concepts can be instantiated in appearances. Those who stress their lack of homogeneity appear to be following Kant [see e.g. E3:103,107-10 and P2:2.438; cf. Kt1:177]; yet so does Chipman, who insists that concepts such as 'cause' and 'possibility' clearly are given in many common experiences [C7:104-5]. Without going any further into the arguments for one view or the other (both of which can be supported from Kant's own writings), we can integrate the two positions, settling the debate by bringing out the truth in both views: a representation which is intuited and determined only to the point of being a transcendental appearance is heterogeneous with all pure concepts; yet this same appearance, once it is conceptualized and known as a phenomenon from the empirical perspective, not only can but (according to Kant) must instantiate certain pure concepts [Kt1:595-6]. Kant can hold both views consistently by virtue of the principle of perspective which permeates his System.
Another example concerns the question of whether the thing in itself is supposed to constitute (1) the indescribable, perspectiveless root of all perspective-bound experience, or (2) reality as it would be viewed from the 'perfectly correct' perspective of God. Kant seems to contradict himself by supporting both notions at various points. A perspectival interpretation, however, renders his reason for doing so immediately apparent: perspectivelessness (as in (1)) refers to the thing in itself viewed transcendentally, while the 'God-perspective' (as in (2)) refers to the positive noumenon viewed empirically (which, of course, is impossible for mere human beings). The common interpretation, which conflates these two meanings, frequently leads to the rejection of both notions. But the perspectival interpretation makes both notions palatable by demarcating the field of reference to which each can be applied.
In addition to clarifying specific ambiguities, a perspectival interpretation facilitates a defense of the coherence of Kant's general way of expressing his position. For example, it effectively removes the stinger from a common and long-standing criticism of Kant's System, first put forward by Jacobi (one of Kant's contemporaries), who reports that in reading and re-reading Kt1 'I was continually confused, since without that assumption [i.e., the assumption that things in themselves 'produce sense impressions'] I could not enter the system, and with it I could not remain in it' [q.i. Z1:228-9; s.a. 243]. The problem is that such a relationship between the thing in itself and the appearance seems to require the application of categories (such as causality) to transcendent reality-a practise which seems clearly to break Kant's insistence that the categories be applied only to phenomenal reality.
Paulsen sketches a solution to this problem which appeals implicitly to the principle of perspective. He proposes the following in P4:156: 'A double meaning of the categories must he distinguished,-a pure logical transcendent, and a transcendental physical.' He is referring here to the difference between the two versions of the categories presented by Kant, from the logical perspective in the Analytic of Concepts, and from the empirical perspective in the Analytic of Principles. The suggestion, then, is that when Kant limits the categories to the phenomenal realm, he is thinking only of the categories as principles of knowing, not of the categories as forms of thinking. When this distinction is kept in mind, as we saw earlier in this Appendix, Kant's assumption of the thing in itself becomes far more coherent. Although this perspectival solution thereby eases the pain of Jacobi's sting, it does not seem quite capable of actually removing the stinger itself.
In a letter to Kant Beck foreshadows Allison's approach [see below] by claiming Jacobi's problem can be solved only by stipulating that 'the object that affects me must ... be appearance and not thing-in-itself' [q.i. Z1:229]. I would suggest, by contrast, that both parts of Jacobi's statement can actually be affirmed without undermining the credibility of systemt. For once the correlation between Kant's transcendental and empirical perspectives is recognized, two points emerge: first, that the thing in itself must indeed be presupposed at the beginning of the former perspective; and secondly, that it is ultimately regarded as problematic from the latter perspective (in the form of the positive noumenon), to the extent that phenomena can even be viewed as if they were things in themselves [see note VI.20]. The long life of this criticism, then, is due to the fact that it contains a valid insight into the nature of systemt; so it is unfortunate that it is generally used against Kant as a charge of inconsistency.
Recognizing the reciprocity between transcendental idealism and empirical realism [see note VI.15] also renders superfluous one of most common suggestions as to how Kant's Copernican Perspective can be made more palatable. Webb claims in W13:211-2 that in order to do 'full justice to the realism implicit in his idealism', we should interpret Kant's 'doctrine that in knowing Nature we discover the structure of Mind as a recognition that this structure is in fact the structure of [transcendent] Reality itself.' (A similar reinterpretation lies behind Walker's view that the thing in itself ought to be regarded as knowable, a view I have criticized in detail in Appendix V.) What such suggestions ignore is that Kant would agree that the structure of empirical reality (the only reality we can know theoretically) is in fact primary and does coincide with the structure of the mind in just the way Webb suggests.
Finally, we can now offer a plausible account of Kant's theory of 'affection' [see note VI.6]. Allison carefully explains how a perspectival interpretation (though he doesn't call it by this name) can make sense out of this potentially confusing theory [A10:61-76]. The question (as Prauss puts it in P12:192-204) is whether Kant intends the reader to understand the thing in itself in the 'transcendental-philosophic' sense or in the 'transcendent-metaphysical' sense [see P7:374]. Adopting the former view, Allison argues against those who adopt the latter, according to which Kant is interpreted as postulating various 'transcendental acts' in which the transcendental object (or the thing in itself) 'affects' the subject to create appearances [A10:69n; s.a. E3:107n; F3:9-15; G13:5-6,9-10; W17:74-9]. He claims that
there is in the entire account of affection no reference to entities other than those which are known in spatio-temporal terms (empirical objects). The point is only that in so far as such entities are to function in a transcendental context as material conditions of human cognition, they cannot, without contradiction, be taken under their empirical description. [A10:69]
[For] just as the thought of the simplicity of the I of apperception is a merely analytic truth, and is not to be taken as yielding any knowledge of the transcendental subject of experience ...; so too, the thought of the affecting object as ground or cause of our representations is a merely analytic truth ..., and is not to be taken as yielding any knowledge of the transcendental object of experience [76; cf. P8:210].
I am for the most part in agreement with Allison in denying the legitimacy of the typical 'double affection' interpretation, which 'hypostatizes' the thing in itself by regarding transcendental affection from an empirical perspective [A10:66]; but I do think he has gone too far in categorically denying that Kant intends to establish any knowledge whatsoever in regard to his transcendental set of object-terms. Although his transcendental arguments are not intended to yield empirical knowledge, they are intended to reveal transcendental knowledge. And this transcendental knowledge is not merely a set of analytic truth-claims implied by a certain type of philosophical reflection. Allison must be reading with interpretive blinders on if he really finds 'no reference to [nonempirical] entities' in Kant's theory; for, true as it is that Kant puts an important (and often neglected) emphasis on considering a 'thing' (=object) as it is in itself, it is just as evident that he also emphasizes the importance of considering the 'thing in itself' as a metaphysical 'entity' which mysteriously 'becomes' a transcendental object for us on its way to 'becoming' an appearance and eventually a phenomenon. How else are we to understand clear statements such as that 'behind the appearances things in themselves must stand as their hidden ground'? Indeed, Kant says it 'would evidence a logical defect in our classification' if we regarded the sensible world as lacking 'a non-sensible counterpart' [K2:12.222(Z1:247)]. To ignore this emphasis is to take the second model of Kant's theoretical progression mentioned in VI.4 [see Figure VI.2] as the only legitimate way of interpreting him; and this can lead directly to interpreting the thing in itself as nothing but a 'philosophical fiction' [S3:233; cf. notes V.9,10].
But a perspectival interpretation does not require us to ignore or 'interpret away' Kant's 'synthetic' or 'metaphysical' way of expressing himself, as Allison seems to believe; this would be inconsistent with his overall Critical purposes, especially as evinced in Kt4. Instead, it enables us to regard both ways of seeing the matter as plausible, depending on whether the transcendental or the empirical perspective is regarded as most fundamental. When starting from the transcendental perspective, the thing in itself is not merely a 'thought' with a certain regulative employment; it is also our necessarily inadequate way of referring to reality itself-i.e., to that which is beyond the limits of categories such as 'reality' [cf. Kt1:629]. Abstracting all the forms of knowing from the objects of our experience would in this case leave the concept not of a useful thought, but of the way things really are, which, for us, remains unknowable, because it consists of neither thought nor intuition. Therefore, just as the object considered from the transcendental perspective can be interpreted ( la Allison) as the empirical object viewed transcendentally, so also the object considered from the empirical perspective can be regarded as the thing in itself viewed empirically. For in transcendental reflection the phenomenal object which affects us in experience must be thought of as (i.e., believed to be) the result of something which transcends experience affecting the subject in some way. 'Double affection', properly construed, thus refers not to two separate events, but to two ways of reflecting upon the one event of coming to know an object in experience.
 A9:317; A10:54; B20:37; B27:54,68-9; G2:471; P2:1.61; P3:228; P7:375; P8: 195-201; P12:52-61,136-47 and passim; V4:190; W9:162-3. In addition to these Schrader refers to works by Adickes, Fischer, and Erdmann, which put forward a similar interpretation [S4:173n]. Pippin's list includes works by Roussett and Melnick [P8:191n,197-8n]. And Scruton traces this approach back to one of Kant's own pupils, J.S. Beck [S8:42; cf. W6 and note II.21].
 B20:47-51; but cf. 79-80. Buchdahl rejects Bird's tendency to regard the transcendental object as 'a logical myth' [B27:64], exclaiming 'nothing could be further from the truth.'
 B27:51; s.a. 69. The thing in itself could safely be regarded in this way, however, only in the sense that it 'covers' all the other object-terms by transcending them, not by being somehow identified with each of them-a point which Buchdahl does not make sufficiently clear.
Kt5:459; s.a. Kt1:178,667; L2:130; R13:735; S13:3.35. In an earlier paper Allison admits that this element is present in Kant's theory, but is unable to make sense out of it [A5:217]. Schrader also acknowledges both strands, but assigns the troublesome one to 'Kant's private [i.e., metaphysical] views' [S4:174,184]: 'This twofold employment of the thing-in-itself', he declares, 'represents one of the fundamental inconsistencies in the Critique' . By contrast, a thoroughgoing perspectival interpretation can reveal its consistency [see X.1].
 Although Pippin agrees that Kant's usage is not purely 'methodological' [P8:199- 201], he sides with Prauss and Allison in connecting Kant's metaphysical tendencies solely with his theory of transcendental ideas [cf. P7:378]. He says, for instance, that when the thing in itself is regarded as 'the intellectual substrate of phenomena', Kant is referring 'only to a regulative way of thinking about appearances, a noncognitive assumption made for the sake of systematic efficiency and even the extension of empirical knowledge, but not meant to be [a] description of some factual or metaphysical relation between appearances and things in themselves' [P8:210]. This view reflects the bias for the empirical perspective mentioned in VI.4.