Re: [xmca] Re: Kant and the Strange Situation

From: Martin Packer <packer who-is-at>
Date: Sat Oct 25 2008 - 06:34:09 PDT


Your comments here are very helpful, because the term 'reflection' does show
up in many translations, and I have been convinced that it is wrong. It is
certainly misleading. Can we figure out what German word is being (mis)
translated this way? And what Russian word, too, because the English
translations of Vygotsky have 'reflection' all over the place.


Hi all,
I do think that you are wrestling wind mills. Kant did not write in
English, so did not use the concepts over which you argue. And what
you write is not what I read. I pulled of my shelf a definitive
publication, which sometimes also includes his Latin texts.

I don't find the German word for reflection, I mean the one that
could be mistaken for the mirror phenomenon.

With respect to schema, he writes that it is mediating instant, a
third thing ("ein Drittes") between the category on the one side and
the appearance of a thing on the other.

He writes (B180 A140,141) that the pure sensible concepts do not have
images (actually, he says "Bilder", pictures) as their foundation but
schemata. Of the concept ("Begriff") of a triangle, "no image
["Bild"] could ever be adequate". He continues, the image could not
reach the generality of the concept of the triangle. "The schema of a
triangl cannot ever exist elsewhere than in thought, and as a rule
means/refers to ("bedeutet") a synthesis of imagination, in the
visioning of pure gestalts in space.

Despite his words that appear to point to the parallel between
thinking and the world, he always EMPHASIZES that categories have no
picture like quality, that they are very different from pictures /
images, and after the triangle he uses the concept of a dog and shows
why it cannot have any image-like quality.

So much about "reflection" and what is involved in a concept.



On 24-Oct-08, at 10:30 PM, David Kellogg wrote:


The translation I sent you is exactly the translation that you sent
me. I just looked up the place in my copy and found the corresponding
place in the copy you bookmarked on the net, and then copied and
pasted it.

I think the problem is not translation. For some reason, the word
"reflection" in describing Kant's view of perception makes you
uncomfortable. I am sorry if I created another cyber-hullaballoo with
this word, but I don't really see why. The word "reflection"
certainly does not imply, to me, unmediated perception (whatever that
might be). It's a word that Kant uses again and again and again and

In fact, the word "schema" DOES mean a reflection, or an outline, or
a shadow. The idea, which is a perfectly Platonic one, is that the
world of visible objects is outlined, or shadowed, or reflected for
us on the senses. The mind then reconstructs these shadows into
perceptible objects.

Kantians in the nineteenth century certainly did not think that
"reflection" meant unmediated perception of categories such as space
or time or plurality. But they were extremely fond of the mirror
metaphor (and so was Kant himself).

George Eliot uses it, for example, in Adam Bede: "a faithful account
of men and things as they have mirrored themselves in my mind". Janet
is the first (as far as I know) to criticize the use of the mirror
metaphor for perception. (Lenin, rather inadvisedly, continued to use

Bakhurst uses it too, in describing the Cartesian world view, but he
points out that it is really more like a screen than a mirror, with
you on one side of it and objects on the other. (In Sudan we used to
watch movies projected on bedsheets, and the best seats in the house
were always right behind the screen instead of in front of it.)

Of course Chomsky believes that grammatical categories are a priori.
He's a self-described "Cartesian" linguist, and his fable about the
triangle is taken, as we've seen, straight from Kant.

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

--- On Fri, 10/24/08, Andy Blunden <> wrote:

From: Andy Blunden <>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: Kant and the Strange Situation
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
Date: Friday, October 24, 2008, 9:15 PM

I stand by what I said David. I don't have the same
translation as you so I am having trouble following. But do
you see the table of categories? Things like "plurality" and
"possibility" and so on. He believes that these are "built
in" so to speak, like Chomsky's universal grammar.


David Kellogg wrote:
> It's right here, Andy. First Division, Book II, Chapter 1, the
> Schematism of the Pure Concepts of Understanding:
> "For we have there seen that conceptions are quite impossible, and
> utterly without signification, unless either to them, or at least
> to the
> elements of which they consist, an object be given; and that,
> consequently, they cannot possibly apply to objects as things in
> themselves without regard to the question whether and how these may be
> given to us; and, further, that the only manner in which objects
> can be
> given to us is by means of the modification of our sensibility; and,
> finally, that pure /a priori/ conceptions, in addition to the function
> of the understanding in the category, must contain /a priori/ formal
> conditions of sensibility (of the internal sense, namely), which again
> contain the general condition under which alone the category can be
> applied to any object. This formal and pure condition of
> sensibility, to
> which the conception of the understanding is restricted in its
> employment, we shall name the schema of the conception of the
> understanding, and the procedure of the understanding with these
> schemata we shall call the schematism of the pure understanding."
> Then he gives a laundry list of different schemata.
> I mean "Critique of Reason" as opposed to the Critique of
Judgement and
> the Critique of Practice. Actually, I'm a lot more familiar with the
> latter two (aesthetics and morals).
> I'm still struggling with the Logic! Your annotated version is good,
> I need lots of help.
> dk
> --- On *Fri, 10/24/08, Andy Blunden /<>/* wrote:
> From: Andy Blunden <>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: the Strange Situation
> To:
> Date: Friday, October 24, 2008, 8:26 PM
> You sound like you know what you're saying David. Can you
> help me find the text. I have only
> Is this the same work? I only know Critique of Pure Reason
> and Critique of Practical Reason. I don't know "Critique of
> Reason."
> Andy
> David Kellogg wrote:
>> Andy:
>> Kant does speak of schemata as reflections in the mind "by
> modification
>> of our sensibility" of unknowable things in themselves. This
is where
> he
>> brings in the triangle example so beloved by Chomsky,
>> See "Critique of Reason", Transcendental doctrine of
> Chapter
>> 1, section 1. Kant, I (1965) Critique of Pure Reason. New York:

>> MacMillan.p. 182.
>> See also: "Transition from Sensory-Motor Schemas to
> Schemas"
>> in Piaget, J. (1961) Play, Imitation and Dreams (Norton), pp.
>> David Kellogg
>> Seoul National University of Education
>> --- On *Fri, 10/24/08, Andy Blunden /<>/*
>> From: Andy Blunden <>
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: the Strange Situation
>> To:, "eXtended Mind, Culture,
> Activity"
>> <>
>> Date: Friday, October 24, 2008, 7:16 PM
>> David, I think you are doing a disservice to Kant here. For
>> Kant there cannot really be "reflections" of
>> things-in-themselves. Appearances are constructs.
>> If Piaget talks about schemata, then he is indeed, like
>> Chomsky, a Kantian, but as I understand it,
>> refers to the categories which Kant presumed were accessible
>> to a faculty of Reason, which then enabled sensible forms to
>> be extracted from sense data via the faculty of Intuition.
>> According to Hegel and Marx and Vygotsky, the categories of
>> reason are acquired via practical activity with other people.
>> But the "thing in itself" is, for Kant, beyond
>> Andy
>> David Kellogg wrote:
>>> Dear Paula:
>>> (For whatever reason, I'm afraid the label's
> "The
>> Strange Situation" is, like a working class hero,
something to
> be. Meaning,
>> something that is to become.)
>>> I'm going to try to use Hegel's
"Logic" to make
> sense of
>> the categories we find in your DVD and also in Chapter Five.
> I've tried
>> to read the Logic several times myself and failed each time.
>>> So I'm not actually going to use the
> directly, but
>> instead take a very schematic understanding of it from an
article on
> the logic
>> of 19th century realist novels. (Brown, M. [1981] "The
Logic of
> Realism: A
>> Hegelian Approach", PMLA 96/2, 224-241). This puts me in
> company; Andy
>> says that LSV mostly gets his Hegel from other sources too
> the
>> Philosophical Notebooks of Lenin).
>>> Early on in Thinking and Speech, LSV pours scorn on
>> declaration of independence from philosophy and says
"the lack of
> a
>> philosophy is itself a very definite philosophy". But
> Piaget's
>> non-philosophical philosophy is not simply raw empiricism;
it's a
> form of
>> neo-Kantianism.
>>> That's why LSV is careful to highlight wherever
Piaget talks
> about
>> "schemata", Kantian reflections of unknowable
> in
>> themselves". It's also why he uses the image of
> thinking simply
>> "squeezing out" the egocentric thinking of the
child; LSV is
> rejecting
>> the neo-Kantian idea that there are separate faculties of
reason and
> judgement.
>>> So what's the alternative to Kantian reflections of
things in
>> themselves? Hegel gives us three distinct stages in the
unfolding of
> an idea:
>> "for itself", "for others", and "for
> oneself". But
>> in some ways the ways in which these stages are linked are
> important than
>> the way they are distinct.
>>> First of all, there is "contingency", which he
> subtitles:
>> "formal reality, possibility, necessity". Now, in
this stage
> stuff has
>> no "necessary" existence; it just appears as random
> or heaps.
>> That's why Hegel says it has the "form" of
> rather than
>> its truth.
>>> But even here, as Hegel says, "everything is
through its
> other what
>> it is itself". There is a contrast between the object
and the
> environment,
>> and that contrast is something made by the child as the child
> objects and
>> puts them into heaps. The criterion of selection is a
> the child
>> selects "for (the object) itself".
>>> Now suppose the child takes this same logic, the logic
of the
> heap, and
>> applies it to the individual object. By this logic, the
object appears
> as a
>> "heap" of traits, facets, or aspects, each one
> unconnected
>> with the others. An object is a random heap of qualities.
>>> But the independence of one quality from another is
actually a
> kind of
>> relationship, although a negative one. If a block is part of
> heap, then it
>> is not part of that one. and if an object is yellow, then it
is not
> blue. The
>> point is that reality is something that is directed outwards;
> reality of a
>> heap is directed towards other heaps, the reality of an
object is
> something
>> directed towards other objects, and the reality of a facet is
> towards
>> other facets.
>>> Because the reality of a facet is directed towards other
> it can be
>> contrasted, and even chained, according to likeness, or
according to
> partial
>> similarity, or according to cause and effect. That's what
> the
>> various types of complexes, including the chain complex.
>>> Of course, identifying relationships (resemblance,
>> complementarity, even adversativity) is also a way of
isolating them.
> And
>> isolating relationships always involves not only an element
> relativeness but
>> even an element of arbitrariness. We see a lot of this in our
>>> But we also see that as the relationships are isolated,
> arbitrary
>> elements and irrelevant decisions are gradually eliminated.
Hegel says
> that in
>> the third stage of the unfolding of the idea, all the
randomness is
> absorbed and
>> objects are now fully determinate.
>>> LSV takes Piaget to task for not considering causality
to be
> objective;
>> for asserting that the causality of science is as egocentric
> relative as
>> that of the child. For LSV, this is really a type of
> thinking.
>> Thinking of "real reality", that is, the reality of
> and chains,
>> and complexes, is not the final stage any more than thinking
of heaps
> was.
>>> Scientific causality is, for LSV, a higher form of
causality; it
>> corresponds to absolute necessity, where there is no longer
> heterogeneity or
>> randomness in the relation or in the object. I think this is
where he
> sees
>> concepts--true concepts--coming into existence.
>>> David Kellogg
>>> Seoul National University of Education
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>> --
>> Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435
>> Skype andy.blunden
>> Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:
> --
> Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435
> Skype andy.blunden
> Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:

Andy Blunden +61 3 9380 9435
Skype andy.blunden
Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:
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Received on Sat Oct 25 06:34:23 2008

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