An Interpretation of Kant’s Metaphysical Deduction of the Categories

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In what appears to be an important section of the Critique of Pure Reason, when Kant attempts to show the natural connection between the table of judgment and the table of categories, there is a cryptic little paragraph:

The same function that gives unity to the different representations in a judgment also gives unity to the mere synthesis of different representations in an intuition, which, expressed generally, is called the pure concept of understanding. The same understanding, therefore, and indeed by means of the very same actions through which it brings the logical form of a judgment into concepts by means of the analytical unity, also brings a transcendental content into its representations by means of the synthetic unity of the
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I will provisionally think of it as referring to the faculty of understanding and not solely one or more of the pure concepts of the understanding.11 The main interpretive dilemma of this passage revolves around the term ‘transcendental content.’ It may be the case that Kant wants to contrast the Transcendental Logic’s possession of objective content with general logic’s lack of content. However the term could also refer to the fact that the understanding has a transcendental function, and could be indicating the transcendental nature of the categories. Each of these interpretations will be evaluated in turn.

The Argument

At its most basic, with all the explanatory clauses stripped away the argument appears thus:22

P1 The Understanding gives unity to different representations in a judgment
P2 The Understanding gives unity to the synthesis of representations in an intuition.
C The Understanding Brings Transcendental Content to its representations.

Need anymore be said?33 The argument is easier to follow, though by no means clear, if we take into account a ’missing’ or explanatory premise:

PE The very actions that brings the logical form of a judgment to concepts also brings a transcendental content into the understanding’s representations.

The most important element of the argument is the fact that it is the ‘very same actions’ which allow logical forms to be used in contentful judgments that necessitate the transcendental role of the