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Charles Parsons



Cambridge, Massachusetts
London, England


Copyright 2012 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College

All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Parsons, Charles, 1933
From Kant to Husserl : selected essays / Charles Parsons.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index.
ISBN 978-0-674-04853-9 (alk. paper)
1. Philosophy, German18th century. 2. Philosophy, German19th century.
3. Philosophy, German20th century. 4. Philosophy, Modern. 5. Kant, Immanuel,
17241804. 6. Frege, Gottlob, 18481925. I. Title.
B2741.P37 2012

For Jotham and Sylvia




Part I: Kant

Note to Part I

1 The Transcendental Aesthetic

2 Arithmetic and the Categories


3 Remarks on Pure Natural Science


4 Two Studies in the Reception of

Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic


Postscript to Part I


Part II: Frege and Phenomenology

5 Some Remarks on Freges Conception of Extension


Postscript to Essay 5


6 Freges Correspondence


Postscript to Essay 6


7 Brentano on Judgment and Truth


8 Husserl and the Linguistic Turn




Copyright Acknowledgments 231




The present volume is the first of two volumes collecting most of my

essays on other philosophers, excluding those already reprinted some
years ago in Mathematics in Philosophy. The rough division of the volumes is between essays on pre-twentieth-century and on later authors.
Thus the projected second volume will be titled Philosophy of Mathematics in the Twentieth Century. The essays in the present volume are
on the whole less focused on philosophy of mathematics than those in
the projected second volume.
Frege and Brentano are reasonably thought of as nineteenth-century
figures, although they were intellectually active into the twentieth century, and some of their late work is discussed in these essays. Husserl is
certainly a twentieth-century figure, and the work discussed in Essay 8
was all at least published in that century and mostly written then. But
it seemed more appropriate to group that essay with those on Frege
and Brentano, the more so since it is not at all about philosophy of
Of the Kantian essays, Essays 1, 2, and 4 grew out of my earlier
work on Kants philosophy of arithmetic. However, Essay 1 is a general
commentary on the Transcendental Aesthetic and does not attempt to
present an interpretation of Kants philosophy of mathematics. It is
well known that much of the latter is to be found in other, rather
scattered, writings of Kant. Essay 1 is the only place where I have attempted to say something substantial about the distinction between
appearances and things in themselves, but it limits its focus to the
Aesthetic and so does not purport to be a full treatment of that theme
even in the Critique of Pure Reason. It is an issue that I have always
found difficult, and I am sympathetic to the view expressed by Allen
Wood that it is not possible to resolve the main disputes on the basis of


the texts.1 Essay 2 takes as its point of departure an obvious question:

Since, according to a tradition that Kant did not question, mathematics
is the science of quantity, arithmetical notions should have a definite
relation to the categories of quantity. The main task of the essay is to
explore what that relation is. Important relevant information is gleaned
from Kants lectures on metaphysics and related texts. Essay 4 concerns
some texts in which Kants philosophy of arithmetic is discussed in the
early years after Kants own publication, first the writings of his disciple
Johann Schultz (17391805), written while Kant was still active, and
then an early essay by Bernard Bolzano (17811848), published in 1810
and thus not long after Kants death. My hope was that studying some
early reactions to Kants philosophy of mathematics would shed some
light on disputed questions about its interpretation. That hope was
realized to at most a limited extent, but the texts studied are of interest
in their own right.
Essay 3 stands apart from the other Kantian essays because it was
prepared as comments on a paper on Kants philosophy of science by
Philip Kitcher. It concerns what Kant meant by pure natural science
and thus the relation between the first Critique and the Metaphysical
Foundations of Natural Science. Up to that time scholarship on the latter
text was largely German, but shortly after its publication Michael Friedmans powerful studies of Kants philosophy of physics began to appear,
and that has stimulated other work on Kants philosophy of science. I do
not attempt to comment on that work here, but I hope that some points
in my small essay are still found of interest.
It will be clear that the two essays on Frege, Essays 5 and 6, are not
focused on large issues concerning his logic and philosophy. They are
distinctly less ambitious than my earlier essay Freges Theory of Number (Essay 6 of Mathematics in Philosophy). The distinctive character
of Freges conception of extension, compared to the concept of set as it
developed from Cantor on, was certainly worth pointing out, and since
the first publication of Essay 5, more has been done on the subject by
others. Others have written about Freges reaction to the discovery of
Russells paradox. My essay attempts to focus specifically on the concept of extension in this context. The essay was, in addition, preliminary to some of my writing on the concept of set, in particular What
Is the Iterative Conception of Set? (Essay 10 of Mathematics in Phi1

See his Kant, pp.6376.



losophy). The discussion of the FregeRussell correspondence in Essay

6 serves to amplify Essay 5, as does the brief discussion of the draft
letter of 1918 to Karl Zsigmondy. Since Essay 6 originated as an extended review of Freges collected correspondence, it unavoidably takes
up rather different themes.
The reader may be surprised by the fact that I wrote Essay 7 on Brentano, whose view of formal logic was somewhat conservative and who
did not contribute significantly to the philosophy of mathematics. In fact,
it originated with my teaching of Husserl in the 1990s. I followed Dagfinn Fllesdal in prefacing exposition of Husserl with a brief treatment of
Brentano, emphasizing the famous remarks about intentional inexistence in Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint. However, I was led
to study other writings of Brentano, particularly the compilation Wahrheit und Evidenz, and decided to expand the part of the course devoted
to Brentano and treat him more as a figure in his own right.2 I found his
views on judgment and truth of particular interest and thus was ready to
accept an invitation from Dale Jacquette to contribute to the Cambridge
Companion to Brentano.
In contrast to that in Brentano, my interest in Husserl is of long standing, originating in my graduate student days, through discussion groups
on texts by Merleau-Ponty and Husserl. Although I have never felt
close to any phenomenological school, phenomenology has exercised a
more general influence on my approach to philosophy. But although
there are remarks about Husserl in earlier writings of mine, Essay 8 is the
only article-length discussion of themes in Husserl that I have written. It
was prompted by an invitation to appear as a critic in an Author Meets
Critics session on Michael Dummetts Origins of Analytical Philosophy.
It thus seemed suitable as a contribution to the volume on the history of
analytical philosophy edited by Juliet Floyd and Sanford Shieh, intended
to honor our common teacher Burton Dreben but published only after
his death. Dreben was a major pioneer of the now flourishing study of
the history of analytical philosophy. The essay is revealing about the
nature of my own engagement with that enterprise. My writing on
Frege was relatively early and did not lead to the sustained scholarly
engagement of Dummett, Tyler Burge, Thomas Ricketts, Richard Heck,
and others. I have also not been attracted to scholarly work on Russell,

The interest of Wahrheit und Evidenz had been urged on me some time before by
Per Martin-Lf.


Wittgenstein, and the Vienna Circle. On the other hand, I have taken
an interest in figures on the periphery of this history, who were not
analytical philosophers as that is understood by historians but were
close enough to it either to exercise an influence or to be objects of
(sometimes polemical) attention. Husserl plays this role in Essay 8 of
this volume, and Brouwer and Hilbert also played such a role, although that is not emphasized in what I have written about them. One
might say the same about Gdel, who has been the subject of my most
sustained scholarly endeavor concerning twentieth-century philosophy.
In Essay 8 I also argue that Husserl is significant as an object of comparison with analytical philosophers during the development of that
tendency. I believe that there are others who could be fruitfully studied
from that point of view. Some interesting such work has been done by
others, for example Michael Friedman in his book A Parting of the
Ways and other writings.
In writing about these figures, including Kant, I do not claim to be a
historian of philosophy. Although I have taken an interest in a number of
historical figures, and I have tried not to be unhistorical in my approach
to them, I have not attempted to produce a full portrait of the thought of
any of the figures I have written about or of the general development of
sets of ideas that interest me. Thus the essays in this volume and its projected successor are essays and not monographs or fragments of monographs. Without very consciously addressing the question, I have thought
that a larger-scale study of any of these figures would be too great a distraction from systematic work in logic and philosophy of mathematics.
It cant escape the readers notice that these essays reflect a bias in
my attention toward figures who wrote in German. This may have begun
with my interest in Kant, but it also reflects a wider interest in German
culture and history first stimulated by my father. A fuller study of the history of the foundations of mathematics in the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries would have to take in a number of British figures, Russell first
of all but also nineteenth-century figures. And one would have to take in
Poincar and other French figures. And at least one American from before
our own time, Charles Sanders Peirce, would have to be included in the
story. But as a writer of essays, I make no apology for the fact that my
choice of subjects rests to some extent on personal attitudes.
I have supplied the essays on Kant and Frege with postscripts, in the
case of Kant somewhat lengthy. The study of Kants philosophy of mathematics was transformed by a new generation of scholars, first Michael


Friedman and then a number of younger writers. I thought that I could

not reprint writings of my own without addressing issues raised by this
important work. The case of Frege was less pressing, but I thought it desirable to comment on some writing about Frege and at least one documentary discovery, that of his letters to Ludwig Wittgenstein.
One general development that finds some reflection in the Frege
postscripts should be mentioned here. That is the great growth of our
knowledge of Freges biography. This can be seen as a product of the
demise of the German Democratic Republic as it was before 1989.
Nearly all of Freges life was spent in that territory. The East German
scholar Lothar Kreiser was able to do quite a bit of relevant archival
research, but the articles he published were little read. After German
reunification, however, the Frege scholar Gottfried Gabriel became professor in Jena, and research on Frege and his milieu expanded greatly; in
particular, Kreisers biography, Frege, containing a great deal of information about Frege and his environment, appeared in 2001.3
The essays are reprinted unrevised. However, some additions have
been made to footnotes. The additions are signified by square brackets.
However, Postscripts written for this volume attempt to come to grips
with some of the work on the subjects of these essays that has been
done since their original publication.
The writings reprinted here reflect somewhat similar but not quite
the same debts as do my other writings. Essays 2, 3, 5, and 6 were written when I was at Columbia University, and Essays 1, 4, 7, and 8 after
my move to Harvard. I owe much to both institutions and to my colleagues there, as acknowledgments in particular essays will show. Burton
Dreben and Hao Wang stimulated and encouraged my early interest in
the history of the foundations of mathematics. W.V. Quine, though not
a historical scholar, set an example by his knowledge of languages and
his wide reading in earlier work in logic. I have had several stimulating
interlocutors about Kant, particularly Robert Paul Wolff, Hubert
Dreyfus, the late Samuel Todes, Stephen Barker, and Jaakko Hintikka
in earlier years, and later Dieter Henrich, Paul Guyer, Carl Posy, John
Carriero, Tyler Burge, Daniel Warren, Batrice Longuenesse, and Daniel

Of other informative publications on this subject, I mention Gabriel and Kienzler.

Another figure whose biography and intellectual background have been illuminated
by work made possible by the political change is Rudolf Carnap, who studied in Jena
and finished his doctorate there. See especially Awodey and Klein.


Sutherland. On Frege, I owe much to Michael Dummett, Tyler Burge,

Thomas Ricketts, Warren Goldfarb, George Boolos, and Richard Heck,
although in some cases more to their writings. What I have written reflects only part of what I learned from these individuals and still less of
what they had to teach me. On Husserl and phenomenology, I evidently
owe much to Dagfinn Fllesdal, and earlier I learned much from Dreyfus and Todes, and later from Kai Hauser and Mark van Atten.
Students have been a source of instruction and stimulation in these
areas as in others. On Kant, I should mention Alan Shamoon, Pierre
Keller, and Ofra Rechter at Columbia, and Emily Carson, Katalin Makkai,
Arata Hamawaki, Thomas Teufel, and Andrew Roche at Harvard, as
well as Frode Kjosavik (Oslo) and Katherine Dunlop (UCLA). On Frege,
I should mention Michael Resnik (Harvard, 1963), who in particular
introduced me to Freges Nachla. On Husserl, worthy of mention are
Richard Tieszen, Gail Soffer, and Nathaniel Heiner at Columbia and
Abraham Stone at Harvard, as well as Mark van Atten (Utrecht).
I wish to thank Denis Buehler for his valuable editorial and other
assistance with this volume. I also thank John Donohue of Westchester
Book Services and the copy editor, Ellen Lohman, for their careful work
and attention to detail, even when I did not always agree with their
views. Thanks also to Wendy Salkin for preparing the index.
This volume is dedicated to my children, Jotham and Sylvia Parsons.
Both are scholars of more distant regions of the past than I have ventured into, and they have had to face an environment less hospitable to
their sort of scholarship than I have had to deal with in my own career.





In these essays the Critique of Pure Reason is cited in the usual A/B
manner. Other writings of Kant are cited by volume and page of the
Academy edition, Gesammelte Schriften, which are given in the translations I have used and in many other translations, including those of the
Cambridge edition. In Essays 1, 2, and 3 the Critique is quoted in Kemp
Smiths translation, sometimes modified. In Essay 4 and the Postscript
the Guyer and Wood translation is used for quotations.
I use the following short titles and other translations:
(Inaugural) Dissertation: De mundi sensibilis atque intelligibilis forma et principiis
(2:385419). Translated by G.B. Kerferd in Kant, Selected Pre-Critical Writings, ed. Kerferd and Walford.
Metaphysical Foundations (of Natural Science): Metaphysische Anfangsgrnde der
Naturwissenschaft (4:467565). Translated by James Ellington.
Prolegomena (4:255382). Translated by Lewis White Beck (revising earlier
Regions in Space: Von dem ersten Grunde des Unterschiedes der Gegenden im
Raume (2:377383). Translated by D. E. Walford in Kerferd and Walford,
op. cit.
Theology lectures: Religionslehre Plitz (28:9891126). Translated by Allen W.
Wood and Gertrude M. Clark as Lectures on Philosophical Theology. Ithaca,
N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1978.

Translations other than those cited here are my own.


Among the pillars of Kants philosophy, and of his transcendental idealism in particular, is the view of space and time as a priori intuitions
and as forms of outer and inner intuition respectively. The first part of
the systematic exposition of the Critique of Pure Reason is the Transcendental Aesthetic, whose task is to set forth this conception. It is then
presupposed in the rest of the systematic work of the Critique in the
Transcendental Logic.

The claim of the Aesthetic is that space and time are a priori intuitions.
Knowledge is called a priori if it is independent of experience and even
of all impressions of the senses (B2). Kant is not very precise about
what this independence consists in. In the case of a priori judgments,
it seems clear that being a priori implies that no particular facts verified
by experience and observation are to be appealed to in their justification. Kant holds that necessity and universality are criteria of apriority
in a judgment, and clearly this depends on the claim that appeal to
facts of experience could not justify a judgment made as necessary and
universal.1 Because Kant is quite consistent about what propositions
he regards as a priori and about how he characterizes the notion, the
absence of a more precise explanation has not led to its being regarded
in commentary on Kant as one of his more problematic notions, even
though a reader of today would be prepared at least to entertain the

The relevant kind of universality is strict universality, that is . . . that no exception is allowed as possible (B3); thus it itself involves necessity.


idea that the notion of a priori knowledge is either hopelessly unclear

or vacuous.
It is part of Kants philosophy that not only judgments but also concepts and intuitions can be a priori. In this case the appeal to justification does not obviously apply. It is harder to separate what their being
a priori consists in from an explanation that Kant offers, that they
are contributions of our minds to knowledge, prior to experience
because they are brought to experience by the mind. However, I believe
a little more can be said. For a representation to be a priori it must not
contain any reference to the content of particular experiences or to
objects whose existence is known only by experience. A priori concepts
and intuitions are in a way necessary and universal in their application
(so that their content is spelled out in a priori judgments). In fact,
Kant apparently holds that if a concept is a priori, its objective reality
can be established only by a priori means; that seems to be Kants reason for denying that change and physical motion are a priori concepts.2
Although this consideration leads into considerable difficulties, they
do not affect the apriority of the concepts of space and time or of
The concept of intuition requires more discussion. Kant begins the
Aesthetic as follows:
In whatever manner and by whatever means a mode of knowledge may relate to objects, intuition is that through which it is in
immediate relation to them. (A19/B33)
Later he writes of intuition that it relates immediately to the object and
is singular, in contrast with a concept which refers to it mediately by
means of a feature which several things may have in common (A320/
B377). To this should be compared the definition of intuition and concept in his lectures on Logic:
All modes of knowledge, that is, all representations related to an
object with consciousness, are either intuitions or concepts. The
intuition is a singular representation (repraesentatio singularis),
the concept a general (repraesentatio per notas communes) or
reflected representation (repraesentatio discursiva).3


For change, see B3, but Kant is not entirely consistent; compare A82/B108.
Logik, ed. Jsche, 1, 9:91.


An intuition, then, is a singular representation; that is, it relates to a

single object. In this it is the analogue of a singular term. A concept is
general.4 The objects to which it relates are evidently those that fall
under it. That it is a repraesentatio per notas communes is just what the
Critique says in saying that it refers to an object by means of a feature
(Merkmal, mark) which several things may have in common.
In both characterizations in the Critique, an intuition is also said to
relate to its object immediately. Kant gives little explanation of this
immediacy condition, and its meaning has been a matter of controversy. It means at least that it does not refer to an object by means of
marks. It seems that a representation might be singular but single out
its object by means of concepts; it would be expressed in language by a
definite description. One would expect such a representation not to be
an intuition. And in fact, in a letter to J.S. Beck of July 3, 1792, Kant
speaks of the black man as a concept (11:347). Apparently he does
not, however, have a category of singular non-immediate representations (i.e., singular concepts). He says that the division of concepts into
universal, particular, and singular is mistaken. Not the concepts themselves, but only their use, can be divided in that way.5 Kant does not
say much about the singular use of concepts, but their use in the subject of singular judgments is evidently envisaged. The most explicit explanation is in a set of student notes of his lectures on logic, where after
talking of the use of the concept house in universal and particular judgments, he says:
Or I use the concept only for a single thing, for example: this house
is cleaned in such and such a way. It is not concepts but judgments
that we divide into universal, particular, and singular.6
Thus it is not clear that there are singular representations that fail to
satisfy the immediacy condition.

It is a mere tautology to speak of general or common concepts (Logik 1,

note 2, 9:91).
Logik 1, note 2, 9:91. Alan Shamoon argues persuasively that this view is directed against Meier and thereby against Leibniz. See Kants Logic, ch. 5.
Appreciation of this remark of Kant, and of Kants conception of singular judgments, derives mainly from Thompson, Singular Terms and Intuitions.
Wiener Logik (1795), 24:909. Shamoon, in commenting on this passage, remarks
that a judgment is singular, and its subject concept has singular use, if it has in the
subject a demonstrative or the definite article. (See Kants Logic, p.85.)


Assuming that there are none, it does not follow that, as Jaakko Hintikka maintained in his earlier writings, the immediacy condition is just
a corollary of the singularity condition,7 since the fact that the only intrinsically singular representations are intuitions would not follow from
the singularity and immediacy conditions without the further substantive
thesis that it is only the use of concepts that can be singular. Moreover,
we have so far said little about what the immediacy condition means.
Evidently concepts are expressed in language by general terms. It
would be tempting to suppose that, correlatively, intuitions are expressed
by singular terms. This view faces the difficulty that Kants conception
of the logical form of judgment does not give any place to singular
terms. In Kants conception of formal logic, the constituents of a judgment are concepts, and concepts are general. We are inclined to think
of the most basic form of proposition as being a is F or Fa, where a
names an individual object, to which the predicate F is applied. How
is such a proposition to be expressed if it must be composed from general concepts? Evidently the name must itself involve a singular use of
a concept. Kant does offer examples involving names as cases of singular judgments,8 but also judgments of the form This F is G.9 Kants
acceptance of the traditional view that in the theory of inference singular judgments do not have to be distinguished from universal ones (A71/
B96) implies that the subject concept in a singular judgment can also
occur in an equivalent universal judgment.10
Relation to an object not by means of concepts, that is to say not by
attributing properties to it, naturally suggests to us the modern idea of
direct reference. That that was what Kant intended has been proposed
by Robert Howell.11 It appears from the above that Kants view must
be that judgments cannot have any directly referential constituents, and

Kantian Intuitions, p.342. In his principal discussion of the matter, On Kants

Notion of Intuition, Hintikka does not say explicitly how he understands the immediacy condition or its role, but indicates that he thinks the singularity condition
gives a sufficient definition. But cf. note 11 of Kants Transcendental Method and
His Theory of Mathematics.
Caius is mortal in Logik 21, note 1 (cf. A322/B378), also in Logik Plitz (1789,
24:578); Adam was fallible, in Refl. 3080 (16:647).
In addition to the passage from the Wiener Logik cited above, This world is the
best in Refl. 3173 (16:695).
Kant gives the example God is without error; everything which is God is without error in Refl. 3080 (16:647).
Intuition, Synthesis, and Individuation, p.210.


indeed it has been persuasively argued that Kant has to hold something
like a description theory of names.12 This is, however, not a decisive
objection, since intuitions are not properly speaking constituents of
judgments. This conclusion still leaves some troubling questions, particularly concerning demonstratives. If we render the form of a singular
judgment as The F is G, then the question arises how we are to understand statements of the form This F is G or even those of the form This
is G. The latter form might plausibly (at least from a Kantian point of
view) be assimilated to the former, on the ground that with this is implicitly associated a concept, in order to identify an object for this to
refer to. But now how are we to understand the demonstrative force of
this in This F is G? It only shifts the problem to paraphrase such a
statement as The F here is G. Although there is no doubt something
conceptual in the content of this or here (perhaps involving a relation
to the observer), in many actual contexts it will be understood and interpreted with the help of perception. It is hard to escape the conclusion,
which seems to be the view of Howell,13 that in such a context intuition
is essential not just to the verification of such a judgment and to establishing the nonvacuity of the concepts in it, but also to understanding
its content. But it would accord with Kants general view that the manifold of intuition cannot acquire the unity which is already suggested
by the idea of intuition as singular representation without synthesis
according to concepts, that one should not be able to single out any
portion of a judgment that represents in a wholly nonconceptual way.
In the Aesthetic, the logical meaning of the immediacy condition that
we have been exploring is not suggested. Following the passage cited
above Kant says that intuition is that
to which all thought as a means is directed. But intuition takes
place only in so far as the object is given to us. This again is only
possible, to man at least, in so far as the mind is affected in a certain way. (A19/B33)
The capacity for receiving representations through being affected by objects is what Kant calls sensibility; that for us intuitions arise only through
sensibility is thus something Kant was prepared to state at the outset. It

Thompson, Singular Terms and Intuitions, p.335; Shamoon, Kants Logic,

Intuition, Synthesis, and Individuation, p.232.


appears to be a premise of the argument of the Aesthetic; if not Kant does

not clearly indicate there any argument of which it is the conclusion.14
An earlier proposal of my own, that immediacy for Kant is direct,
phenomenological presence to the mind, as in perception,15 fits well
both with the opening of the Aesthetic and the structure of the Metaphysical Exposition of the concept of space (see below). One has to be
careful because this presence has to be understood in such a way as
not to imply that intuition as such must be sensible, since that would
rule out Kants conception of intellectual intuition,16 and of course that
human intuition is sensible was never thought by Kant to follow immediately from the meaning of intuition. That this is what the immediacy
condition means can probably not be established by direct textual evi14

A remark at B146 is translated by Kemp Smith as Now, as the Aesthetic has

shown, the only intuition possible to us is sensible. The German reads simply,
Nun ist alle uns mgliche Anschauung sinnlich (Aesthetik). The remark does not
make clear that Kant is doing more than simply refer to the Aesthetic as the place
where that thesis was stated and explained.
If it is the conclusion of argument rather than an assumption of Kant, then the
argument is not explicitly pointed to in the Aesthetic. The most plausible theory
about what such an argument might be would give it a form similar to that of the
second edition Transcendental Exposition of the Concept of Space: Geometry is (in
some sense to be explicated) intuitive knowledge; this is possible only if the intuition involved is sensible; therefore human intuition is sensible. As an argument for
the existence of a priori sensible intuition this might possibly be discerned in the
text of the Aesthetic. But something further would be needed to get to the conclusion that all human intuition is sensible.
Although I have not systematically studied the use of the terms Anschauung
and intuitus in Kants earlier writings, it seems clear that they emerge as central
technical terms in the 17681770 period, when Kant makes the sharp distinction
between sensibility and understanding and makes the decisive break with the Leibnizian views of space and sense-perception. Especially noteworthy is the fact that
Kants early formulation of his views on mathematical proof in the Untersuchung
ber die Deutlichkeit der Grundstze der natrlichen Theologie und der Moral
(2:272301), although it already makes the connection between mathematics and
sensibility, does not use the term Anschauung in the principal formulation of its
theses. It occurs only a few times in the entire essay.
I would conjecture, then, that in Kants development the use of Anschauung as
a technical term and the thesis that human intuition is sensible emerged more or
less simultaneously and that he did not articulate theories in terms of the notion of
intuition in abstraction from, or before formulating, the latter thesis.
Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic, p.112.
Cf. B72 and elsewhere. A fuller explanation of the divine understanding as intellectual intuition is given in the theology lectures (28:1051).


dence.17 What is in any case of more decisive importance is the question

what role immediacy in this sense might play in the parts of Kants philosophy where intuition plays a role, particularly his philosophy of mathematics. The intent of Hintikka, apparently shared by some other writers
on pure intuition whose views are not otherwise close to Hintikkas,18 is
to deny that pure intuition as it operates in Kants philosophy of mathematics is immediate in this sense at all, whether by definition or not.
Whether this is true is a question to keep in mind as we proceed.

I now turn to the argument of the Aesthetic. The part of the argument
called (in the second edition) the Metaphysical and Transcendental
Expositions of the concepts of space and time (23 [through B41],
45) argues that space and then time are a priori intuitions. The further
conclusions that they are forms of our sensible intuition, that they do
not apply to things as they are in themselves and are thus in some way
subjective, are drawn in the conclusions from these arguments (remainder of 3, 6) and in the following elucidation (7) and general
observations (8, augmented in B). The framework is Kants conception of sensibility, the capacity of the mind to receive representations
through the presence of objects.
By means of outer sense, a property of our mind, we represent to
ourselves objects as outside us, and all without exception in space.

Two passages in the Dissertation are highly suggestive:

For all our intuition is bound to a certain principle of form under which form
alone can something can be discerned by the mind immediately or as singular, and
not merely conceived discursively through general concepts. (10, 2:396)
That there are not given in space more than three dimensions, that between two
points there is only one straight line, . . . etc.these cannot be concluded from
some universal notion of space, but can only be seen in space itself as in something
concrete. (15C, 2:402403)

Both, it seems to me, support the claim that intuition is immediate in the sense at
issue. The punctuation of the Latin in the first passage, however, suggests that singulare is being offered as explication of immediate, and thus rather goes against
the claim that the connection between immediacy and seeing obtains by definition. It is not, on the other hand, something for which Kant argues.
For example Pippin, Kants Theory of Form, ch. 3.


Outside us cannot have as its primary meaning just outside our bodies, since the body is in space and what is inside it is equally an object
of outer sense.19
Kant alludes at the outset to what is in fact the background of all his
thinking about space (and to a large extent time as well): the issue between what are now called absolutist and relationist conceptions of
space and time, represented paradigmatically by Newton and Leibniz:
What, then, are space and time? Are they real existences? Are
they only determinations or relations of things, yet such as would
belong to things even if they were not intuited? (A23/B37)
Early in his career Kants view of space was relationist and basically
Leibnizian. This was what one would expect from the domination of
German philosophy in Kants early years by Christian Wolffs version
of Leibnizs philosophy. Kant was, of course, influenced from the beginning by Newton and was never an orthodox Wolffian. In 1768, in
Regions in Space, he changed his view of space in a more Newtonian
direction;20 this was the first step in the formation of his final view,
which is in essentials set forth in the Inaugural Dissertation of 1770.
The Metaphysical Exposition of the Concept of Space gives four
arguments, the first two evidently for the claim that space is a priori,
the second two for the claim that it is an intuition.
(i) The first argument claims that space is not an empirical concept
which has been derived from outer experiences (A23/B38). The representation of space has to be presupposed in order to refer sensations
to something outside me or to represent them as in characteristic spatial
relations to one another.
This argument might seem to prove too much, if its form is, In order
to represent something as X, the representation of X must be presupposed. If that is generally true, and if it implies that X is a priori, the
argument would show that all representations are a priori.
Kant, however, seems rather to be claiming that the representation
of space (as an individual, it will turn out from the third and fourth


Although I dont know of specific comments by Kant on proprioceptive sensations, it follows that such objective content as they have would belong to outer sense.
This essay is generally represented as (temporarily) completely buying the Newtonian position. Reasons for caution on this point, in my opinion justified, are
given in William Harper, Kant on Incongruent Counterparts.


arguments) must be presupposed in order to represent particular spatial

relations. The argument should be seen as aimed at relationism. Leibniz
would be committed to holding that space consists of certain relations
obtaining between things whose existence is prior both to that of space
and to these relations. However, it seems open to the relationist to say
that objects and their spatial relations are interdependent and mutually
conditioning.21 The argument is stronger if it is viewed as calling attention to the fact that it is the spatial character of objects that enables us
to represent them as distinct from ourselves and from each other. This
is not the plain meaning of the text. That it may be Kants underlying
intention, however, is suggested by a parallel passage in the Dissertation:
For I may not conceive of something as placed outside me unless
by representing it as in a place which is different from the place
in which I myself am, nor may I conceive of things outside one
another unless by locating them at different places in space.
(15A, 2:402)
(ii) The second argument claims that space is prior to appearances,
in effect to things in space:
We can never represent to ourselves the absence of space, though
we can quite well think it as empty of objects. (A24/B3839)
In what sense of represent can we not represent the absence of space?
The existence of space is not necessary in the most stringent sense; in
whatever sense we can think things in themselves, we can think a nonspatial world. On the other hand, Kant has to claim more than that we
are incapable, as a psychological matter, of imagining or representing
in some other way the absence of space.22
Kants conclusion will be that space is in some way part of the content of any intuition, and in that way any kind of representation that
allows representing the absence of space will not be intuitive. Thus he

As was apparently urged against Kant by Eberhards associate J.G.E. Maass;

see Allison, Kants Transcendental Idealism (1st ed.), p.84, and The Kant-Eberhard
Controversy, pp.3536.
This psychologistic reading has been advocated by some commentators, e.g.,
Kemp Smith, Commentary, p.110. It is somewhat encouraged by the German: Wir
knnen uns niemals eine Vorstellung davon machen, da kein Raum sei. Although
our inability to imagine the absence of space is not what Kant is ultimately after, it
is of course an indication of it, and has some force as a plausibility argument.


says that it is the condition of the possibility of appearances (A24/

B39). I doubt that one can single out at the outset, independent of the
further theory Kant will develop, a notion of representation in which
we cant represent the absence of space.
That space is a fundamental phenomenological given that in some
way cant be thought away is a very persuasive claim. But it would take
a whole theory to explain what it really means, and Kant seems to have
to appeal to more theory in order to explicate it himself. We can think
its absence, but we cant give content to that thought in the sense of
content that matters: relation to intuition. But that way of putting
the point presupposes not only the claim that outer intuition is spatial,
but the claim that concepts require intuition in order not to be empty.
Kant says we can think space without objects. This is in one way obviously true; for example it is what we do in doing geometry. It is not clear,
however, that Kant means to appeal to geometry at this point, and if he
does one could, at least from a modern point of view, object to his claim
on the ground that in geometry we are dealing with a mathematical abstraction, not with physical space (or at least that it is then a substantive
scientific, and in the end empirical, question whether our description of
space fits physical reality). In any event, it is not clear that the thought
of space without objects is not really just the thought of space with objects about which nothing is assumed. This understanding, which seems
weaker than what Kant intended, is sufficient for Kants claim that space
is a priori but possibly not for his case against relationism.
(iiiiv) The third and fourth arguments of the Metaphysical Exposition
are, as I have said, concerned to show that space is an intuition. Strictly,
the claim is that this is true of the original representation of space (B40),
since from Kants point of view there clearly must be such a thing as the
concept of space, to be a constituent of judgments concerning space.23

In fact, he ought to distinguish between what he calls the general concept of

space (A25), which would apply to portions of space, and the concept that applies
uniquely to the one and the same unique space (A25/B39). The latter could, however, be a singular use of the former, although that would oblige us to view it as
expressed by a demonstrative attached to the word space in its general meaning.
Kant in the Dissertation speaks more freely of the concept of space and
writes for example,
The concept of space is therefore a pure intuition. For it is a singular concept, . . .
(15C, 2:402)

while in the Critique he writes,



Part of Kants claim, what is emphasized in the third argument, is

that the representation of space is singular. This has a clear and unproblematic meaning. That when it refers to the space in which we
live and perceive objects, or to the space of classical physics, space is
singular is an obvious datum of what one might call grammar; moreover, its having reference in the former usage surely rests on the fact
that there is a unique space of experience, and it is reasonable to suppose that the uniqueness of space in classical physics derives from
It is abstractly conceivable, however, that we could have characterized space in some conceptual way from which uniqueness would follow (as might be the case with a conception of God in philosophical
theology). Then we would have, not an intuition but a singular use of
a concept. Kant clearly intends to rule out this possibility. Now this
would be, if not exactly ruled out, rendered idle if Kant could claim
that the representation of space is not only singular but also immediate in the sense of one of the interpretations mentioned above, of involving presence to the mind analogous to perception. Kant seems to
be saying that when he begins the fourth argument with the statement
Space is represented as an infinite given magnitude (B39; cf. A25).
In any event Kant needs, and clearly intends to claim, a form of immediate knowledge of space; otherwise the question would arise
whether what he has said about the character of the representation of
space does not leave open the possibility that there is just no such
Kant also claims that the representation of a unitary space is prior
to that of spaces, which he conceives as parts of space. (The modern
mathematical notion of space, roughly a structure analogous to what is
considered in geometry, is not under consideration.) Spaces in this
sense can only be conceived as in the one all-embracing space (A25/
B39); unlike a concept, the representation of space contains an infinite
number of representations within itself (B40).
Consequently, the original representation of space is an a priori intuition, not a
concept. (B40)

How far this represents an actual difference of view on Kants part and how much
it is a matter of more careful formulation, I do not know. Even in the second edition of the Critique Kant titles the section we are discussing Metaphysical Exposition
of the Concept of Space. (This contrast between the Dissertation and the Critique
was noted by Kirk Dallas Wilson, Kant on Intuition, p.250.)


Whatever the precise sense of immediate in which Kants thesis implies that the representation of space is immediate, there is a phenomenological fact to which he is appealing: places, and thereby objects in
space, are given in one space, therefore with a horizon of surrounding
space. The point is perhaps put most explicitly in the Dissertation:
The concept of space is a singular representation comprehending
all things within itself, not an abstract common notion containing them under itself. For what you speak of as several places are
only parts of the same boundless space, related to one another
by a fixed position, nor can you conceive to yourself a cubic foot
unless it be bounded in all directions by the space that surrounds
it. (15B, 2:402)
This way of putting the matter has the virtue of describing a sense in
which space is given as infinite (better boundless) which does not commit Kant to any metrical infinity of space (that is, the lack of any upper
bound on distances), although his allegiance to Euclidean geometry did
lead him to affirm the metrical infinity of space. Kant says that space is
given as boundless; he also wishes to say that, without the aid of the
intuition of space, no concept would accomplish this:
A general concept of space . . . cannot determine anything in regard to magnitude. If there were no limitlessness in the progression of intuition, no concept of relations could yield a principle
of their infinitude. (A25)
Kant does not, so far as I can see, argue in the Aesthetic that the infinity of space could not be yielded by mere concepts at all, still less
that no infinity at all could be obtained in that way. His arguments seem
at most to say that a general concept of space could not do this and
are not in my view of much interest. It seems very likely that from Kants
point of view there can be a conceptual representation whose content
would in some way entail infinity (that of God would again be an example24). From a modern point of view, we can describe (say, by logical

In his theology lectures, however, Kant discusses the mathematical infinity of

God and says that the concept of the infinite comes from mathematics, and belongs only to it (28:1017). To say that God is infinite in this sense is to compare
his magnitude with some unit. Since the unit is not fixed, one does not derive an
absolute notion of the greatness of God, even in some particular dimension (such
as understanding). It is doubtful that from Kants point of view the statement that


formulae) types of structure that can have only infinite instances; an axiomatization of geometry would be an example. Such a description would
use logical resources unknown to Kant, and that he would have recognized the possibility of a purely conceptual description of mathematically infinite magnitude is doubtful.25 But even if he did, there would be
the further question of constructing it, which would be the equivalent
for Kant of showing its existence in the mathematical sense. Construction is, of course, construction in intuition. By the progression of intuitions in the above quotation from A25 Kant presumably means some
succession of intuitions relating to parts of space each beyond or outside
its predecessor; such a succession would witness the boundlessness of
space. A similar appeal to intuition is needed also for the construction of
numbers, so that arithmetic does not yield a representation of infinity
whose non-empty character can be shown in a purely conceptual way.
What is accomplished by the Metaphysical Exposition? Kant makes
a number of claims about space of a phenomenological character that
seem to me on the whole sound. That space is in some way prior to
objects, in the sense that objects are experienced as in space, and in the
sense that experience does not reveal objects, in some way not intrinsically spatial, that stand in relations from which the conception of space
could be constructed, seems to me evident. The same holds for the claim
that space as experienced is unique and boundless (in the sense explained
Furthermore, it seems to me that these considerations do form a
formidable obstacle that a relationist view such as Leibnizs has to
overcome. However, they are not a refutation of such a view, since
God is infinite in this sense is free from reference to intuition. Kant also considers
the notion of God as metaphysically infinite:
In this concept we understand perfections in their highest degree, or better yet,
without any degree. The omnitudo realitatis [All of reality] is what is called metaphysical infinity (28:1018, trans. p.49).

Kant concludes that the term All of reality is more appropriate than metaphysical infinity. (A briefer remark with the same purport is in Kants letter to Johann
Schultz of November 25, 1788, 10:557.)
I would conclude that although a purely conceptual characterization of God
does entail that God is infinite, in what Kant considered the proper sense this implication cannot be drawn out without intuition.
On this point see II of Friedman, Kants Theory of Geometry, which contains
an interesting discussion of these passages. Compared to my own discussion in the
text, Friedman downplays the phenomenological aspect.


phenomenological claims of this kind would not suffice to show that in

our objective description of the physical world, we would not in the
end be able to carry out a reduction of reference to space to reference
to relations of underlying objects such as Leibnizs monads.
It is another question how much of a case Kant has yet made for the
stronger claims of his theory of space. Regarding the claim that space
is a priori, part of the content of this is surely that propositions about
space will be known a priori, and it is hard to see so far that anything
very specific has been shown to have this character. But the propositions in question will be primarily those of geometry, and we have not
yet examined the Transcendental Exposition or other evidence concerning Kants view of geometry.
The kind of considerations brought forth in the Metaphysical Exposition also hardly rule out possible naturalistic explanations. It could
be objected that our experience is spatial because we have evolved in a
physical, spatio-temporal world. Such an explanation would of course
presuppose space, but it would be empirical in that it made use of empirical theories such as evolution (or some alternative naturalistic account). It would view the inconceivability of the absence of space as a
fact about human beings. In a way it could not have been otherwise:
beings of which it is not true would not be human beings in the sense
in which we use that phrase. But although we cant conceive how it could
turn out to be wrong, it is in some way abstractly possible that it should
turn out to be wrong; some change in the world, which our present science is incapable of envisaging, could lead us to experience the world
(and ourselves) as, say, in two spaces instead of one.
Now we should probably understand the claims made in the Metaphysical Exposition as ruling out the kind of naturalistic story just
sketched. When Kant says that the representation of space must be
presupposed in one or another context, the necessity he has in mind
is something stricter than the natural necessity that is the most stringent that one could expect to come out of the naturalistic story. This
does not change the philosophical issue, since the naturalist would
respond that in so far as they make this strong claim, the claims of the
Metaphysical Exposition are dogmatic. I shall leave the issue at this
point, because the notion of necessity will come up at some further
points in our discussion of the Aesthetic, in particular in connection with


Since I have said that the Metaphysical Exposition, although it poses

a real difficulty for relationism, does not refute that view, we should not
leave it without noting that it does not contain Kants whole case
against the relationist position. Kants break with relationism came in
Regions in Space in 1768. There he refers to an essay by Euler which
argues for absolute space on the basis of dynamical arguments which
go back to Newton.26 Kant says that Eulers accomplishment is purely
negative, in showing the difficulty the relationist position has in interpreting the general laws of motion, and that he does not overcome the
difficulties of the absolutist position in the same domain (2:378). Kant
then deploys his own argument, the famous argument from incongruent counterparts. Although this argument does not occur in the Critique, it is used for different purposes in other later writings of Kant, up
to the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science of 1786.27
By incongruent counterparts Kant means bodies, in his examples
three-dimensional, that fail to be congruent only because of an opposite orientation. (The same term could be applied to figures representing their shapes.) One can think of right and left hands, with some
idealization, as such bodies. He considers them completely like and


Euler, Rflexions sur lespace et le tems.

Kants own final position about absolute space is presented in the Metaphysical
Foundations, according to which absolute space is a kind of Idea of Reason. The
manner in which he discusses the question, both briefly in the 1768 essay and
more fully in the Metaphysical Foundations, should dispel a somewhat misleading impression created by the exposition in the Aesthetic, from which a reader
could easily conclude that in developing his theory of space and time, Kant was
not concerned with the considerations about the foundations of mechanics that
were central to the debate between Leibniz and Newton and have played a central
role in debates about relationist and absolutist or substantivalist views down to
the present day. (See Michael Friedman, Metaphysical Foundations of Newtonian
Science; cf. IV of Friedman, Causal Laws.)
27 In the 15C of the Dissertation, Kant appeals to incongruent counterparts in
arguing that the representation of space is an intuition (2:403). In 13 of the Prolegomena (2:285286) and more briefly in the Metaphysical Foundations (4:483
484), it is offered further as a consideration in favor of the view that space is a
form of sensibility not attaching to things in themselves. It has been maintained
that Kants different uses of the argument are inconsistent (for example, Kemp
Smith, Commentary, pp.161166). A thorough discussion of Kants use of the argument, which undertakes to rebut this accusation, is Buroker, Space and Incongruence, chs. 35.


similar (2:382), in particular in size and the manner of combination

of their parts. Yet their surfaces cannot be made to coincide twist and
turn [it] how one will, evidently by continuous rigid motion. Nonetheless, Kant considers the difference to be an internal one, and he
Let it be imagined that the first created thing were a human
hand, then it must necessarily be either a right hand or a left
hand. In order to produce the one a different action of the creative cause is necessary from that, by means of which its counterpart could be produced. (2:382383)
Kant claims that the Leibnizian view could not recognize this difference, because it does not rest on a difference in the relations of the
parts of the hands. He concludes that the properties of space are prior
to the relations of bodies, in accordance with the conception of absolute space and contrary to relationism.
Kants claim has been defended in our own time by noting that the
existence of incongruent counterparts depends on global properties of
the space.28 We can already see this by a simple example: In the Euclidean plane, congruent triangles or other figures can be asymmetrical;
they can be made to coincide by a motion only if it goes outside the
plane into the third dimension. Similarly, it is the three-dimensionality
of space (which Kant emphasizes) that prevents incongruent counterparts from being made to coincide; this could be accomplished if they
could move through a fourth dimension. Moreover, in some spaces
topologically differing from Euclidean space, called non-orientable
spaces (a Mbius strip would be a [two-dimensional] example), the phenomenon could not arise.
Relationist replies to an argument based on these considerations
are possible, but I shall not pursue the matter further here.29

See Nerlich, Hands, Knees, and Absolute Space; also Buroker, Space and Incongruence, ch. 3.
For two recent mathematically and physically informed treatments, see Earman,
World Enough and Space-Time, ch. 7, and Harper, Kant on Incongruent Counterparts. Both concentrate on the argument of Regions in Space but also have
something to say about the later versions. Harper is more sympathetic, especially
to the claim of the Dissertation and later writings that intuition is needed to distinguish incongruent counterparts. Harpers paper contains a number of references
to further literature. Earmans discussion places the argument in the context of


I now turn to the Transcendental Exposition.
I understand by a transcendental exposition the explanation of a
concept, as a principle from which the possibility of other a priori synthetic knowledge can be understood. (B40)
The claim of the Transcendental Exposition is that taking space to be
an a priori intuition is necessary for the possibility of a priori synthetic
knowledge in geometry.
It is therefore a premise of this argument that geometry is synthetic
a priori. Kant clearly understood geometry as a science of space, the
space of everyday experience and of physical science. Thus for us, it
would be very doubtful that geometry on this understanding is a priori;30
indeed, the development of non-Euclidean geometry and its application in physics were, historically, the main reasons why Kants theory
of geometry and space came to be rejected. With regard to geometry, as
with mathematics in general, Kant, however, does not see a need to argue that it is a priori; it is supposed to follow from the obvious fact that
mathematics is necessary (B1415). In this, Kant was in accord with the
mathematical practice of his own time. The absence of any alternative
to Euclidean geometry, and the fact that mathematicians had not
sought for sophisticated verifications of the axioms of geometry, cohered
with the absence of an available way of interpreting geometry so as
to give space for the kind of distinction between pure and applied
the development of the absolutist-relationist controversy from Newton to the present day.
In fact, that the geometry of space is empirical was held a generation after Kant
by the great mathematician C.F. Gauss.
Kants view that it is only in transcendental philosophy that it is established
that mathematics yields genuine knowledge of objects probably implies that although it is a synthetic a priori truth that physical space is Euclidean, this is not
intuitively evident in the way geometrical truths are. (Cf. Friedman, Kants Theory of Geometry, p.469 and n.20, also p.482n.36 [of original].) But I do not see
that there could be a Kantian argument for the conclusion that physical space is
Euclidean that did not take as a premise that space as intuited, as described in the
Aesthetic, is Euclidean.
[It is all too easy to represent Kants view as being that philosophy tells us that
space is Euclidean. Any Kantian philosophical argument for the Euclidean character of physical space would take as a premise that space as conceived and studied
in geometry is Euclidean.]


geometry that would imply that only the latter makes a commitment as
to the character of physical space.31
It seems that there should not be any particular problem with Kants
assertion that characteristic geometric truths are synthetic, so long as
we understand geometry as the science of space. But we must now,
as we have not before, take account of the analytic-synthetic distinction. Kant gives the following explanation:
In all judgments in which the relation of a subject to the predicate is thought . . . , this relation is possible in two different ways.
Either the predicate B belongs to the subject A, as something
which is (covertly) contained in this concept A; or B lies outside
the concept A, although it does indeed stand in connection with
it. In the one case I entitle the judgment analytic, in the other
synthetic. (A67/B10)
When a concept is contained in another may not be very clear. As a
first approximation, we can say that a proposition is analytic if it can
be verified by analysis of concepts. Kant thinks of such analysis as the
breaking up of concepts into those constituent concepts that have all
along been thought in it, although confusedly (A7/B11); this would
give rise to a narrower conception of what is analytic than has prevailed in later philosophy.
Kant suggests as a criterion of synthetic judgment that in order to
verify it, it is necessary to appeal to something outside or beyond the subject concept. This may be experience, if the concept has been so derived,
as in Kants example All bodies are heavy (B12, also A8), or if experience
is otherwise referred to. In the case of mathematical judgments it is, on
Kants view, pure intuition.

In the second edition of the Critique (B15) and even more in the Prolegomena
Kant talks of pure mathematics. I know of only one use of this phrase in the first
edition (A165/B206) (but mathesis pura occurs in the Dissertation; see note 44
below). Kant does not say explicitly with what non-pure mathematics he is contrasting it, but the A165/B206 passage suggests that the contrast is with applied
mathematics, although he does not use that term there or, so far as I know, elsewhere in the Critique. Additional evidence that that is the contrast Kant intends is
that he distinguishes pure from applied logic (A5253/B7778) and contrasts pure
with applied mathematics in a note to his copy of the first edition of the Critique
(Refl. XLIV, 23:28). (I owe the latter observation to Paul Guyer; cf. Guyer, Kant
and the Claims of Knowledge, p. 189. I am also indebted here to Michael


In arguing that mathematical judgments are synthetic, Kant emphasizes the case of arithmetic, where he seems (reasonably in the light of
history) to have anticipated more resistance. The geometrical example
that he gives, that the straight line between two points is the shortest
(B16), might be more controversial than some alternatives, which either involve existence or had given rise to doubt. The parallel postulate
of Euclidean geometry would meet both these conditions. It is hard to
see how by analysis of the concept point external to a given line one
could possibly arrive at the conclusion that a parallel to the line can
be drawn through it, unless it is already built into the concept that the
space involved is Euclidean. That latter way of looking at such a proposition, however, is alien to Kant.
We can well grant Kants premise that geometrical propositions are
synthetic; the hard questions about the analytic-synthetic distinction
arise with arithmetic and with non-mathematical subject matters. But
his view of geometry as synthetic a priori is tied to the mathematical
practice of his own time. If we make the modern distinction between
pure geometry, as the study of certain structures of which Euclidean
space is the oldest example, but which include not only alternative
metric structures but also affine and projective spaces, and applied geometry as roughly concerned with the question which of these structures
correctly applies to physical space (or space-time), then it is no longer
clear that pure geometry is synthetic; at least the question is bound up
with more difficult questions about the analytic-synthetic distinction
and about the status of other mathematical disciplines such as arithmetic, analysis, and algebra; and the view that applied geometry is a priori
would be generally rejected.
If we do grant Kants premises, however, then the conclusion that
space is an a priori intuition is, if not compelled, at least a very natural
one. That it is precisely intuition that is needed to go beyond our concepts in geometrical judgments might be found to require more argument, particularly since he does admit the possibility of synthetic a
priori judgments from concepts.32 That empirical intuition will not do


The modern discussion of the analyticity or syntheticity of arithmetic might be

taken to show that the fact that arithmetic is not analytic in Kants particular sense
does not show that it depends on intuition. So long as one holds to the conception
of geometry as the science of space, it is not clear how to apply this line of thought to


is implied by the premise that geometry is a priori and therefore

Kant does supply such an argument in his account of the construction of concepts in intuition, in the context of describing the difference
between mathematical and philosophical method, to which we will
now turn. This account has rightly been seen as filling a gap in the argument of the Aesthetic.33 It has been the focus of much of the discussion in the last generation about Kants philosophy of mathematics.
To construct a concept, according to Kant, is to exhibit a priori the
intuition which corresponds to the concept (A713/B741). An intuition that is the construction of a concept will be a single object, and
yet it must in its representation express universal validity for all possible intuitions which fall under the same concept (ibid.). It is clear
that Kants primary model is geometrical constructions, in particular
Euclidean constructions.34
It is construction of concepts that makes it possible to prove anything non-trivial in geometry, as Kant illustrates by the problem of the
sum of the angles of a triangle. The proof proceeds by a series of constructions: one begins by constructing a triangle ABC (see Figure 1),
then prolonging one of the sides BC to D, yielding internal and external angles whose sum is two right angles, then drawing a parallel CE
dividing the external angle, and then observing that one has three
angles , , whose sum is two right angles and which are equal respectively the angles , , of the triangle.35
In this fashion, through a chain of inferences guided throughout
by intuition, he [the geometer] arrives at a fully evident and universally valid solution of the problem. (A716717/B744745)
Intuition seems to play several different roles in this description of a
proof. The proof proceeds by operating on a constructed triangle, and
the operations are further constructions. They are constructions in

For example by Hintikka. It does not follow that it is to be read as independent

of the connection between intuition and perception or sensibility. The latter view is
effectively criticized in Capozzi Cellucci, J. Hintikka e il metodo della matematica
in Kant.
The importance of Euclid for Kants philosophy of mathematics was stressed by
Hintikka; see in particular Kant on the Mathematical Method. Particular Euclidean constructions are stressed by Friedman, Kants Theory of Geometry.
This proof occurs in Euclid, Elements, Book I, Prop.32.



Figure 1.

intuition; space is, one might say, the field in which the constructions are
carried out; it is by virtue of the nature of space that they can be carried
out. Postulates providing for certain constructions are what, in Euclids
geometry, play the role played by existence axioms in modern axiomatic
theories such as the axiomatization of Euclidean geometry by Hilbert.
But not all the evidences appealed to in Euclids geometry are of this particular form; in particular, objects given by the elementary Euclidean
constructions have specific properties such as (to take the most problematic case) being parallel to a given line. On Kants conception, these evidences must also be intuitive. A third role of intuition (connected with
the first) is that we would represent the reasoning involving constructive
operations on a given triangle as reasoning with singular terms (to be
sure depending on parameters). Kant clearly understood this reasoning
as involving singular representations. Free variables, and terms containing them, have the property that Kant requires of an intuition constructing a concept, in that they are singular and yet also express universal
validity in the role they play in arguing for general conclusions.36
A difficult question concerning Kants view is whether the role of
intuition can be limited to our knowledge of the axioms (including the
postulates providing constructions), so that, to put the matter in an
idealized and perhaps anachronistic way, in the case of a particular proof
such as the above-discussed one, the conditional whose antecedent is
the conjunction of the axioms and whose consequent is the theorem

This analogy was first noted by Beth, ber Lockes allgemeines Dreieck.


would be analytic. Such a view seems to be favored by Kants statement that all mathematical inferences proceed in accordance with the
principle of contradiction:
For though a synthetic proposition can indeed be discerned in
accordance with the principle of contradiction, this can only be
if another synthetic proposition is presupposed, and if it can be
discerned as following from this other proposition. (B14)
These remarks have generally been taken to imply that it is only because the axioms of geometry are synthetic that the theorems are.37 On
the other hand, Kant describes the proof that the sum of the angles of
a triangle is two right angles as consisting of a chain of inferences
guided throughout by intuition (see above). Interpretations of Kants
theory of construction of concepts by Beth, Hintikka, and Friedman
have all taken that to mean that, according to Kant, mathematical
proofs do not proceed in a purely analytical or logical way from axioms.38 It is clear (as has been given particular emphasis by Friedman)
that had Kant believed that they do, the Aristotelian syllogistic logic
available to him would not have provided for a logical analysis of the
proofs. In fact, one anachronistic feature of the question whether the
conditional of the conjunction of the axioms and the theorem is analytic
is that our formulation of such a conditional would use polyadic logic
and nesting of quantifiers, devices that did not appear in logic until the
nineteenth century.


See for example Beck, Can Kants Synthetic Judgments Be Made Analytic?
pp.8990. In his work Prfung der kantischen Critik der reinen Vernunft, vol. 1,
Kants pupil Johann Schultz, who was professor of mathematics at Knigsberg and
who clearly discussed philosophy of mathematics with Kant, seems to have understood Kants view in this way. His argument for the synthetic character of geometry is largely, and his argument for the synthetic character of arithmetic is almost
entirely, based on the fact that these sciences require synthetic axioms and postulates. Regarding arithmetic, however, there are clear differences between Kant and
Schultz (see my Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic, pp.121123). [See also Essay 4
in this volume.]
Beth, ber Lockes allgemeines Dreieck ; Hintikka, Kant on the Mathematical Method and other writings; Friedman, Kants Theory of Geometry. Interestingly, Kurt Gdel expresses this view in an unpublished lecture draft from about
1961 (thus conceivably influenced by Beth but not by the others). [See now Gdel,
Collected Works, 3:384. An equally likely source of influence is Russell, Principles
of Mathematics, 434.]


It is not literally true that Kant could not have formulated such a conditional; it is not that these logical forms could not be expressed in
eighteenth-century German.39 But it would be more plausible to suppose
that Kant thought of mathematical reasoning in terms of which he had at
least the beginnings of an analysis. What we would call the logical structure of the basic algebraic language, in which one carries out calculations
with equations whose terms are composed from variables and constants
by means of function symbols, was well enough understood in Kants
time. Such calculations are described by Kant as symbolic construction.40
And of course Kant would not describe the inference involved in calculation as logical. Friedman has illuminated a lot of what Kant says about
geometry by the supposition that basic constructions in geometry work in
geometric reasoning like basic operations in arithmetic and algebra. And
in a language in which generality is expressed by free variables, and existence by function symbols, the conditional of the conjunction of the
geometric axioms and a theorem could indeed not be formulated, so that
the question whether it is analytic, or logically provable, could not arise.
We do not have to decide this issue, because in any event Kants account of mathematical proof gives clear reasons for regarding geometrical knowledge as dependent on intuition. Nonetheless the Transcendental Exposition is probably not intended to stand entirely on its own
independently of the Metaphysical Exposition. That the intuition appealed to in geometry is ultimately of space as an individual does not
follow just from a logical analysis of mathematical proof 41 or even


Formulations of axioms and postulates for geometry that would lend themselves
to expressing such a conditional are given by Schultz, Prfung, 1:6567.
A717/B745. It is not possible for me to go into this notion or how Kant understands the role of intuition in arithmetic and algebra. See Parsons, Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic; also Thompson, Singular Terms and Intuitions, IV; J. Michael
Young, Kant on the Construction of Arithmetical Concepts; Friedman, Kant on
Concepts and Intuitions in the Mathematical Sciences.
An influential recent tradition of discussion of Kants theory of construction of
concepts, represented by Beth, Hintikka, and Friedman, ignores the more phenomenological side of Kants discussion of these matters. Beth and Hintikka in fact reduce the role of pure intuition in mathematics to elements that would, in modern
terms, be part of logic. Hintikka draws the conclusion, natural on such a view, that
Kants view that all our intuitions are sensible is inadequately motivated. (See Kants
New Method of Thought and His Theory of Mathematics, pp.131132.)
The same tendency is present in Friedmans writings, but because geometry
gives particular constructions, there is a clear place in his account for the intuition


from the observation that what is constructed are spatial figures. Kant
presumably meant here to rely on the third and fourth arguments of
the Metaphysical Exposition.
Before I turn to the further conclusions that Kant draws from his
arguments, I should comment briefly on the Metaphysical and Transcendental Expositions of the Concept of Time. These discussions bring
in no essentially new considerations. The arguments of the Metaphysical Exposition parallel those of the Metaphysical Exposition of Space
rather closely. Since there is not obviously any mathematical discipline
that relates to time as geometry relates to space, one may be surprised
that a Transcendental Exposition occurs in the discussion of time at
all. That time has the properties of a line (i.e., a one-dimensional Euclidean space) Kant evidently thinks synthetic a priori, and he appeals
to properties of this kind (A31/B47).42 Kant also adds that the concept of alteration, and with it the concept of motion, as alteration of
place, is possible only through and in the representation of time (B48).
The concepts of motion and alteration are, for Kant, dependent on
experience,43 which makes Kants statement here misleading, but he
did allow synthetic a priori principles whose content is not entirely a
priori (B3).
Some writers on Kant have thought that Kant thought that arithmetic relates to time in something close to the way in which geometry relates to space. This view finds no support in the Transcendental Exposition or in corresponding places in the Dissertation.44 Though time

of space. (See his Kants Theory of Geometry, pp.496497.) He also gives an

extended account of the role of time, even in geometry.
For discussion of Friedmans views, I am much indebted to Ofra Rechter. I regret that time and the format of this article have not permitted me to do them justice here.
That different times are not simultaneous but successive is perhaps a way of
formulating the fact that instants of time are linearly ordered.
For motion see A41/B58, also Prolegomena 15 (4:295), for alteration B3. The
problems surrounding these views are discussed (with references to other literature) in Essay 3 in this volume.
In fact, the latter text seems to give this role to pure mechanics:
Hence pure mathematics deals with space in geometry, and time in pure
mechanics. (12, 2:397)

For a view of what Kant might have meant by this statement, see Friedman, Kant
on Concepts and Intuitions, 5.


and arithmetic do have an internal connection, it is difficult to describe

and not really dealt with in the Aesthetic.45

I now want to turn to the conclusions Kant draws from his discussion of time and space in the Aesthetic. The one with which Kant begins is the most controversial, and in some ways the most difficult to
Space does not represent any property of things in themselves,
nor does it represent them in their relations to one another. That
is to say, space does not represent any determination that attaches to the objects themselves, and which remains when abstraction has been made of all the subjective conditions of intuition.
Kants distinction between appearances and things in themselves has
been interpreted in very different ways, and accordingly the question
what Kants fundamental arguments are for holding that space does not
represent any property of things in themselves is controversial.
A second conclusion Kant draws is that space is nothing but the
form of all appearances of outer sense, or, as he frequently expresses it,
the form of outer intuition or of outer sense. One might mean by form
of intuition a very general condition, which might be called formal,
satisfied by intuitions or objects of intuition. This is part of Kants understanding of the notion. One must distinguish between the general
disposition by which intuitions represent their objects as spatial, and
what spaces being a form of intuition entails about the objects of outer
intuition, that they are represented as in space, and that they stand in
spatial relations that obey the laws of geometry. The latter seems properly called the form of appearances of outer sense. Kants doctrine of
pure intuition is that this form is itself known or given intuitively.

Relevant texts are the argument for the syntheticity of 7 + 5 = 12 (B1516), the
characterization of number as the pure schema of magnitude (A1423/B182),
and Kants letter to Schultz of November 25, 1788 (10:554558). For two related but still differing interpretations of the connection, see Parsons, Kants
Philosophy of Arithmetic, VI and VII, and Friedman, Kant on Concepts and




That outer intuition has a form in this sense does not by itself imply that space is subjective or transcendentally ideal. It seems that intuitions might have this form and the form be itself given intuitively
without its following that the form represents a contribution of the
subject to outer representation and knowledge of outer things.46 Kant,
however, denies this. Space is the subjective condition of sensibility,
under which alone outer intuition is possible for us (A26/B42). Kants
arguments, both in the Aesthetic and in corresponding parts of the
Prolegomena, are based on the idea that the fact that a priori intuition is possible can only be explained if the form of intuition derives
from us, as we will see. There are two different things that are to be
explained, one specific to the Aesthetic and one not: first, the fact that
there is a priori intuition of space; second, the fact that there is synthetic a priori knowledge concerning space, in particular in geometry. Of course, the existence of such knowledge is one of Kants arguments for a priori intuition. But in arguing for the subjectivity of space
Kant appeals specifically to a priori intuition rather than to synthetic a
priori knowledge. Thus even in the Transcendental Exposition he
How, then, can there exist in the mind an outer intuition which
precedes the objects themselves, and in which the concept of
these objects can be determined a priori? Manifestly, not otherwise than in so far as the intuition has its seat in the subject only,
as the formal character of the subject, in virtue of which, in being affected by objects, it obtains immediate representation, that
is intuition, of them, and only so far, therefore, as it is merely the
form of outer sense in general. (B41)
Kant appeals to the same consideration in arguing that space and time
are not conditions on things in themselves:
For no determination, whether absolute or relative, can be intuited prior to the existence of the things to which they belong,
and none, therefore, can be intuited a priori. (A26/B42)


Some later writers influenced by Kant seem to have taken the idea of a form of
intuition in this way. This is not to say that the form represents things as they are
in themselves in Kants or some other sense; rather it means merely that whether
this is so is a further question.


Were it [time] a determination or order inhering in things themselves, it could not precede the objects as their condition, and be
known and intuited a priori by means of synthetic propositions.
But this last is quite possible if time is nothing but the subjective
condition under which all intuition can take place in us. (A33/B49)
Kant thus argues on the same lines both to the conclusion that a priori
intuitions do not apply to things in themselves and to the conclusion
that space and time are forms of intuition.
In the presentation of the argument in 89 of the Prolegomena,
Kant makes clearer that what is advanced is a consideration specific to
Concepts, indeed are such that we can easily form some of them
a priori, namely such as to contain nothing but the thought of an
object in general; and we need not find ourselves in an immediate relation to an object. (4:282)
Thus with regard to a priori intuition, there is a problem about its very
possibility; with regard to a priori concepts, the problem only arises
from the fact that to have sense and meaning they need to be applicable to intuition, and at this stage it is not evident that that intuition
has to be a priori.47
Why should it be obvious that a priori intuition which precedes the
objects themselves must have its seat in the subject only? It is tempting to see this in causal terms: there could not be any causal basis for
the conformity of objects to our a priori intuitions unless this basis is
already there with the intuition itself. We could imagine Kant arguing
as Paul Benacerraf does in a somewhat related context:48 we cant understand how our intuitions yield knowledge of objects unless there is
an adequate causal explanation of how they conform to objects, and in


Kant could presumably argue that the subjectivity of space is needed to explain
synthetic a priori knowledge in geometry by appealing to the Copernican hypothesis that we can know a priori of things only what we ourselves put into them
(Bxviii). The more specific claim about intuition Kant evidently thought more directly
evident. Thus Kant says of the Copernican hypothesis that
in the Critique itself it will be proved, apodeictically not hypothetically, from the
nature of our representations of space and time and from the elementary concepts
of the understanding. (Bxxii n.)


Benacerraf, Mathematical Truth.



the case of a priori intuitions, such an explanation is impossible unless

the mind is causally responsible for this conformity.
It would be rash to suppose that Kant never thought in this way, and
many commentators, perhaps most eloquently P. F. Strawson in his
conception of the metaphysics of transcendental idealism,49 have
read Kant as saying that the mind literally makes the world, along the
way imposing spatial and temporal form on it.
Two views about intuition that we have considered above, that an
intuition has something like direct reference to an object and that
anintuition involves phenomenological presence of an object, may be
of some help here. There cant be direct reference to an object that isnt
there; thus there may be puzzlement as to how an object can be intuited prior to its existence (whatever exactly prior means here). We
have to ask exactly what the object of the intuition is. That to whose
existence the a priori intuition is prior is presumably an empirical object. But then maybe the answer is that that object, strictly speaking,
isnt intuited prior to its existence (and perhaps that it cant be), so that
the proper object of the intuition is a form instantiated by it rather than
the object itself. Then the claim becomes that the only way in which the
form of a not-yet-present object can be intuited is if this form is contributed by the subject. It is not clear to me how the force of this claim
is specific to intuition or how it is more directly evident than other
applications of the Copernican hypothesis.
The phenomenological-presence view seems to me to defeat the literal sense of the claim in Kants argument. Since imagination is immediate in the required sense, immediacy of a representation does not imply
the existence of its object at all, so that it seems it can perfectly well be
prior to it. Again, however, a general claim about a priori knowledge
survives this observation: Kant can reply that if, in an imaginative thought
experiment, I have intuition from which formal properties of objects
can be learned, the only assurance that these properties will obtain for
subsequent empirical intuitions of what was imagined is if the form is
contributed by me.
We have to examine more closely the meaning of the conclusion
that things in themselves are not spatial or temporal; this might offer
hope of greater insight into Kants argument. This leads us, however,
into one of the worst thickets of Kant interpretation: the concept of

Strawson, Bounds of Sense, part four.



thing in itself and the meaning of Kants transcendental idealism. Since,

according to Kant, transcendental idealism finds support from arguments offered in the Analytic and Dialectic as well as the Aesthetic, we
can in the present discussion deal with only one aspect of the issues.
One might begin by distinguishing the claim that we do not know
that things, as they are in themselves, are spatial (or that our knowledge
of things as spatial is not knowledge of things as they are in themselves)
from the claim that things as they are in themselves are not spatial. A
long-running debate concerns the question whether Kants arguments
might prove, or at least lend plausibility to, the first claim and yet not
prove the second, although it is often suggested by Kants language.
Kant, it has been claimed, leaves open the possibility, traditionally
called the neglected alternative, that although we dont know that
things in themselves are spatial, or that they have the spatial properties
and relations we attribute to them, nonetheless, without its being even
possible for us to know it, they really are in space and have these properties and relations.50 Kant might reply to this objection by appealing to
the arguments of the Antinomies, particularly the Mathematical Antinomies.51 That would, however, leave him apparently making a dogmatic
claim in the Aesthetic, with no indication that an important part of its
defense is deferred.
A more interesting reply is that when the concept of thing in itself
and Kants argument in the Aesthetic are properly understood, it will
be clear that the neglected alternative is ruled out. One understanding of the contrast of appearances and things in themselves would be
that our intuitions represent objects as having certain properties and
relations, but in fact they dont have them. Kant occasionally comes
close to saying this:
What we have meant to say is . . . that the things we intuit are
not in themselves what we intuit them as being, nor their relations
so constituted in themselves as they appear to us. (A42/B59)
It is hard to see how, on this view, Kant avoids the implication that
our knowledge of outer objects is false: the objects we perceive are
This claim has a long history in writing about Kant; see Allison, Kants Transcendental Idealism (1st ed.), pp. 110114, and Kemp Smith, Commentary,
Cf. Ewing, Short Commentary, p.50.



perceived as spatial, but in themselves, as they really are, they are not
spatial. One might call this general view of the relation of appearances
and things in themselves the Distortion Picture. It arises naturally from
viewing things in themselves as real things, of which Kants Erscheinungen are ways these things appear to us. It identifies how things are
in themselves, in Kants particular sense, with how they really are.52
This view certainly rules out the neglected alternative. But it
seems to do so by fiat. It is difficult to see how, on this interpretation,
the thesis that things in themselves are not spatial is supported by argument.53 Indeed, if the idea that things in themselves are spatial merely
means that their relations have the formal properties that our conception of space demands, the thesis that they are not is pretty clearly incompatible with the unknowability of things in themselves. Space has
to be what is represented in the intuition of space, as it were as so
A plausible line of interpretation with this result, favored by several
passages in the Aesthetic (e.g., that from B41 quoted above), might be
called the Subjectivist view. This is what is expressed in Kants frequent
statements that empirical objects are mere representations.54 A better
way of putting it might be that for space and time and therefore for the
objects in space and time, the distinction between object and representation collapses, or that an empirical version of the distinction can

Such an identification may be encouraged by 4 of the Dissertation, where Kant

Consequently it is clear that things which are thought sensitively are representations of things as they appear, but things which are intellectual are representations
of things as they are. (2:392)

This remark is, however, the conclusion of an argument that Kant would have
disclaimed in application to space and time in the Critique, appealing to the variability of the modification of sensibility in different subjects, as Paul Guyer
points out (Kant and the Claims of Knowledge, p.341). Also, the formulation itself seems to be criticized in the Critique (A258/B313); see Prauss, Kant und das
Problem der Dinge an sich, p.59n.13. Still, the passage encourages the idea that
the Distortion Picture is the view with which Kant started when he first came to
the view that space is a form of sensibility representing things as they appear.
Indeed, it may lead to actual inconsistency, as Robert Howell, who seems to
adopt this view, argues in A Problem for Kant.
Such statements are, however, rare in passages added in the second edition, and
the argument where this conception is most strongly relied on in its simple form, the
refutation of idealism in the Fourth Paralogism, is omitted; in the new Refutation
empirical objects are more clearly distinguished from representations.


only be made in some way within the sphere of representations.55 According to this view, the neglected alternative is ruled out because there
would be a kind of category mistake in holding that things in themselves, as opposed to representations, are spatial.
Paul Guyer, in his discussion of the Aesthetics case for transcendental idealism, relies heavily on an interpretation of an argument from
geometry in the General Observations to the Aesthetic. I see his interpretation as making this argument turn on just such a subjectivist view.
Commenting on Kants first conclusion concerning space, Guyer says
that Kant assumes that
it is not possible to know independently of experience that an object genuinely has, on its own, a certain property. Therefore space
and time, which are known a priori, cannot be genuine properties
of objects and can be only features of our representations of them.56
Guyer objects to this assumption on the ground that one might conceivably know, because of constraints on our ability to perceive, that
any object we perceive will have a certain property; our faculties would
restrict us to perceiving objects that independently have the properties
in question, so that it would not follow that the objects cannot on
their own have them.
According to Guyer, Kant nonetheless relies on this assumption because he conceives the necessity of the spatiality of objects and their conformity to the laws of geometry as absolute; he holds not merely
(1) Necessarily, if we perceive an object x, then x is spatial and
but rather
(2) If we perceive an object x, then necessarily, x is spatial and
This has to be a condition on the nature of the objects, not merely a
restriction on what objects we can perceive. Hence, according to Guyer,
this view commits Kant to the view that spatial form is imposed on
objects by us.

As Kant suggests in the Second Analogy, A191/B236.

Kant and the Claims of Knowledge, p.362.
Ibid., p.366.



Guyer discerns an appeal to (2) in the second clause of the following remark:
If there did not exist in you a power of a priori intuition, and if
that subjective condition were not also at the same time, as regards
its form, the universal a priori condition under which alone the
object of this outer intuition is itself possible; if the object (the
triangle) were something in itself, apart from any relation to you,
the subject, how could you say that what necessarily exist in you
as subjective conditions for the construction of a triangle must
of necessity belong to the triangle itself? (A48/B65)
Here the first necessarily can express the kind of necessity expressed
in (1), but the second necessity does not have the form of being conditional on the subjects construction, intuition, or perception.
Guyer states that that the absolute necessity claimed in (2) can be
explained only by the supposition that we actually impose spatial form
on objects.58 It is, indeed, a reason for not resting with the restriction view that Guyer regards as the major alternative.59 Apart from its
relevance to questions about the distinction between appearances and
things in themselves, the point is relevant also to another controversial
point: whether Kants argument for transcendental idealism in the Aesthetic makes essential appeal to geometrical knowledge, or whether it
needs to rely only on the kind of considerations presented in the Metaphysical Exposition. Clearly the Metaphysical Exposition yields at best
conditional necessities of the general form of (1); an argument from
absolute necessity to transcendental idealism has to rely on geometry.
In my view, Guyers exegesis of the argument from the General Observations is quite convincing, and this argument is clearer than what can
be gleaned from the arguments that proceed more directly from a priori
intuition (i.e., B41, A26/B42, and Prolegomena 89, all commented
on above).60

Ibid., p.361.
Regarding the power of a priori intuition as the universal a priori condition
under which alone the object of this outer intuition is itself possible (emphasis
mine) hardly squares with the restriction view.
Guyer seems to suppose that the argument he derives from the General Observations is the same argument as that of the above passages. That seems to me doubtful. He does, however, point to other passages in Kants writings where he is pretty
clearly arguing from necessity.



The claim (2), however, is more defensible than Guyer allows, at

least with regard to geometry: The content of geometry has to do with
points, lines, planes, and figures that are in some way forms of objects,
and not with our perception. If we accept the usual conception of the
necessity of mathematics, what will be necessary will be statements
about these entities. There is nothing in the content of these statements
to make their necessity conditional on our perceiving or intuiting them.
Thus it seems to me likely that Kant was not sliding from conditional
necessity to absolute necessity, but rather applying the idea that mathematics is necessary, which he would have shared with his opponents,
to the case of the geometry of space. The objection to this is the now
standard one, that we do not have reason to believe that the geometry
of actual space obtains with such mathematical necessity.
Even if we grant Kant this premise, however, it is questionable that
he attains the apodeictic proof of his Copernican principle that he
claims. Whether the essential is a priori intuition or absolute necessity, in either case the claim must be that non-application to things in
themselves is the only possible explanation. The merit of the Subjectivist view is that it offers a view of appearances as objects that fits with
that explanation.
The Subjectivist view does not directly imply the Distortion view,
but can lead to it naturally. The relation depends on how one thinks of
the object of representations. If appearances are representations, it is
natural to think of things in themselves as their objects. And Kant
clearly sometimes does think of them that way, as for example in places
where he says that the notion of appearance requires something which
We must yet be in a position to think [objects] as things in themselves; otherwise we should be landed in the absurd conclusion
that there can be appearance without anything that appears.
The same conclusion also, of course, follows from the concept of
an appearance in general; namely, that something which is not in
itself appearance must correspond to it. (A251)
But if the object of our empirical representations is a thing in itself, and
these representations represent their objects as spatial, then we have the
Distortion view. But this conception of the object of representations


is not the only one that Kant deploys even within the Subjectivist conception, as one can see from the discussions of the concept of object
in the A deduction (esp. A104105) and the Second Analogy (A191/
I would like now to introduce a third possible meaning of the nonspatio-temporality of things in themselves, what I will call the Intensional view. According to this view, the conclusion from the argument
of the Aesthetic is that the notions of space and time do not represent
things as they are in themselves, where, however, represent creates
here an intensional context, so that in particular it does not entitle us
to single out things in themselves as a kind of thing, distinct from appearances. The manner in which we know things is not as they are in
themselves, but rather as they appear. But talk of appearances and
things in themselves as different objects is at best derivative from the
difference of modes of representation. However, there is an inequality
between the two, in that representation of an object as it appears is
full-blooded, capable of being knowledge, while representation of an
object as it is in itself is a mere abstraction from conditions, of intuition in particular, which make such knowledge possible.
Assuming that it has been shown that knowledge of things as spatial is not knowledge of them as they are in themselves, on this view
there cannot be a further question whether things as they are in themselves are spatial; either things in themselves are not spatial merely
repeats what has already been shown, or it presupposes that there is a
kind of thing called things in themselves.
This is a philosophically attractive idea, and it is supported by
many passages where Kant expresses the distinction as that of considering objects as appearances or as things in themselves, as in the following striking remark:
But if our Critique is not in error in teaching that the object is to
be taken in a twofold sense, namely as appearance and as thing
in itself; if the deduction of the concepts of understanding is valid,
and the principle of causality therefore applies only to things
taken in the former sense, namely, insofar as they are objects of
experiencethese same objects, taken in the other sense, not being subject to the principlethen there is no contradiction in
supposing that one and the same will is, in the appearance, that
is, in its visible acts, necessarily subject to the law of nature, and


so far not free, while yet, as belonging to a thing in itself, it is not

subject to that law, and is therefore free. (Bxxviixxviii)
Gerold Prauss has supported a version of this view by a careful textual analysis of Kants manner of speaking about things as they are in
themselves.61 Prauss acknowledges, however, that Kants way of speaking is far from consistent and that his usage often lays him open to the
interpretation of things in themselves as another system of objects in
addition to appearances. In fact, Kant often says in virtually the same
place things that seem to support the intensional view, and things that
contradict it.62 I shall not go into the many questions the intensional
view raises. In spite of the above passage from the preface to the second
edition, it has often been claimed that this understanding of the distinction will not suffice for the purposes of Kants moral philosophy,
and indeed Kants ethical writings contain passages that would be very
difficult to square with it. Clearly, it is beyond the scope of this article
to go into such matters.
We do, however, have to consider whether the intensional view can
offer a sensible interpretation of Kants arguments for his conclusions
in the Aesthetic. The difficulty lies in the fact, noted above, that Kant in
the statement of his conclusions understands the form of sensibility as
contributed entirely by the subject, so that the spatiality of objects and
their geometrical properties are due entirely to ourselves.63 This is sometimes expressed in the language of the Subjectivist view, as in the claim
that a priori intuition contains nothing but the form of sensibility
(Prolegomena 9, 4:282). That is to say, it is not just conditioned by
my own subjectivity, so that it therefore represents them in a way that,
in particular, would not be shared by another mind whose forms of
intuition were different, but it is conditioned entirely by my own subjectivity. This is the essential element of the conclusion that Guyer
draws from the argument from the necessity of geometry in the General


Kant und das Problem der Dinge an sich, ch. 1.

As Manfred Baum remarks concerning B306308 in The B-Deduction and the
Refutation of Idealism, p.90. The Phenomena and Noumena chapter seems to me
on the whole to favor the intensional view, but not consistently, as Baum rightly
It is this that gives rise to the temptation to think of the matter causally, which in
turn leads naturally to the idea of double affection, which the intensional view



Observations. It is very naturally interpreted by the Subjectivist view of

It is not clear, however, that either the conclusion that spatiality
arises entirely from the subject or the Subjectivist view of empirical
objects is incompatible with the intensional view, which should perhaps be seen primarily as an interpretation of the conception of thing
in itself. A difficulty that has been raised for it is the following: According to it, we know certain objects in experience, and we can think these
very objects as they are in themselves. But our very individuation of objects is conditioned by the forms of intuition and the categories. How
can we possibly have any basis for even thinking of, for example, the
chair on which I am sitting as it is in itself, when there is no basis for
the assumption that reality as it is in itself is divided in such a way that
any particular object corresponds to this chair? The only possible reply
to this objection is the one suggested by Prauss: when one considers
this chair as it is in itself, this chair refers to an empirical object, so that
its consideration as an appearance is presupposed.64 So long as there is
some distinction between empirical objects and representations, this
way of understanding talk of things in themselves is available. The
conclusion that the intensional view is most concerned to resist, that
there is a world of things in themselves behind the objects we know
in experience, is not forced by Kants subjectivist formulations, unless
one takes the conditioning by our subjectivity in a causal way. It seems
to me clear that Kant intended to avoid taking it in that way, but a
discussion of the matter would be beyond the scope of a treatment of the
This is not to deny that Kants conclusion is more subjectivist than
many who are sympathetic to Kants transcendental idealism will be
comfortable with. The modern idea of the relativity of knowledge,
that all our knowledge is unavoidably conditioned by our own cognitive
faculties, or language, or conceptual scheme, so that we cant know
or even understand how the world would look from outside these
(for example from a Gods eye view) no doubt owes important inspiration to Kant.65 In his conception of forms of intuition, Kant claimed

Kant und das Problem der Dinge an sich, pp.39 ff.

It is in turn reflected in Kant commentary, for example in Allisons idea of epistemic conditions, which underlies his interpretation of Kants transcendental




to identify aspects of the content of our knowledge that are conditioned entirely by our own subjectivity but are still knowledge of objects, reflected in the most objective physical science. That one should
be able to identify such a purely subjective aspect of objective knowledge is surprising and even paradoxical. Even granted a priori knowledge
of necessary truths about space, I have found Kants arguments in the
Aesthetic for this conclusion less than apodeictic. But that premise
does give them enough plausibility so that it is not surprising that more
modern views that reject this particular radical turn of Kants transcendentalism also reject the premise.
The Aesthetic is of course not the only place where Kant argues for
transcendental idealism or says things bearing on its meaning. In particular, the Analytic probably contributed more to the development of the
modern conception just alluded to. I should end by emphasizing once
again the very limited scope of the present discussion of transcendental


I wish to thank the editor for his comments on an earlier version, for his explanation of his own views, and for his patience. I am also indebted to the participants
in a seminar on Kant at Harvard University in the fall of 1989.


On its conceptual side, mathematics as Kant understands it involves in

an essential way the categories of quantity. This much should be obvious to readers of the Critique of Pure Reason. To trace this connection
in more detail, however, has not been a main concern of interpreters of
Kants philosophy of mathematics, at least recent ones. No doubt it has
been thought that the connection is bound up with traditional logic
and with a conception of mathematics more restrictive than what has
come to prevail since the rise of set theory and abstract mathematics.
The questions concerning Kants conception of intuition and of construction of concepts that have dominated the literature on Kants philosophy of mathematics are more directly connected with philosophical
debates of recent times.
Nonetheless, an investigation of the relation of arithmetic at least to
the categories of quantity might promise to be instructive for several
reasons. First of all, it should clarify how Kant understands the basic
concepts of arithmetic, that of number in particular. Second, Kants
conception of number and therefore of arithmetic is bound up with the
schematism of the categories, since he describes number as the schema
of quantity (A142/B182), and thus with problems in Kants philosophy that go beyond his philosophy of mathematics. Third, on just the
point of the relation of number and schematism, Kant appears to have
changed his view after the first edition of the Critique, as we shall see
The purpose of the present essay is to explicate Kants understanding of arithmetical concepts and their relation to the categories of quantity. This will require some exposition of Kants conceptions of
quantity, for which we have to rely on Reflections and on his lectures
on Metaphysics. With this background we will address Kants view of


number and compare what is said in the first edition of the Critique
with some texts from 17881790. This comparison yields some puzzles of interpretation having to do with the place of number with respect
to the pure and schematized categories. I will preface this whole discussion with some remarks about Kants view of mathematical objects in
This story has no overwhelming moral. It does show that however
different his picture of the basic concepts of mathematics was from our
own, however confused it may have been when measured against what
we can now do with the help of set theory and modern logic, Kant had
more to say about the concept of number and related concepts than
has been appreciated.

From our modern point of view, a noteworthy feature of Kants philosophy of mathematics is the absence of an articulated account of
mathematical objects. Kant does talk in a highly general way about objects, in particular in saying that the categories spell out the concept
of an object in general. But even the pure categories, once they are
distinguished from the forms of judgment, envisage concrete objects,
since they include substance, causality, and community. Kants fullblooded notion of object is that of an object of experience, that is, a
spatio-temporal object.1
Thus Kant rarely expresses a philosophical commitment to specifically mathematical objects, although passages that we would read as
involving reference to such objects abound in his writings. Exceptions
are the statement that 7 + 5 = 12 in a singular proposition (A164/
B205) and the statement that we can give it [the concept of a triangle]
an object wholly a priori, that is, construct it (A223/B271). In another
passage Kants language is even stronger:
As regards the formal element, we can determine our concepts in a
priori intuition, inasmuch as we create for ourselves, in space and
time, through a homogeneous synthesis, the objects themselves
these objects being viewed simply as quanta. (A723/B751)

On this point see 2 of my Objects and Logic [or of Mathematical Thought

and Its Objects].


In the second of these three places, Kant partly takes away what he
has given in saying that the triangle is only the form of an object,
thus apparently shifting from a use of object that would comprehend
mathematical objects to one that does not.2
Even when he is most explicit about mathematical objects, Kant
does not attribute existence to them. In fact he seems to reject such an
attribution in saying that in mathematical problems there is no question of . . . existence at all (A719/B747).3 The pure category of existence is schematized as existence at a definite time (A145/B184); it
implies actual existence (Wirklichkeit). To know the actual existence of
something requires connection with an actual perception by means of
the analogies of experience (A225/B272). For this reason it seems clear
that mathematical existence is not a form of actuality. There are indications rather that Kant thought of it under the category of possibility.
This is said quite explicitly by Kants disciple Johann Schultz, in criticizing Eberhard for interpreting Kants concept of the objective reality
of a concept as meaning the actual existence of objects falling under it
instead of their possibility:
But unfortunately the example from pure mathematics does not
fit, for in mathematics possibility and actuality are one, and the
geometer says there are (es gibt) conic sections, as soon as he has
shown their possibility a priori, without inquiring as to the actual
drawing or making of them from material.4
What plays the role of mathematical existence in Kants usage is
constructibility. It is tempting to regard this as possible existence: the
construction of a concept shows the possible existence of an object
whose form is given by the construction. Given Kants understanding
of possibility, however, construction in pure intuition is not sufficient

Kants notion of an object of experience as explicated by the schematized categories does give place to one type of object that is at least not a spatio-temporal
thing, namely the accidents or states of substances. This would license an analogous shift in the use of object. Probably Kant thought of the forms of objects
as quanta as similarly provided for by the categories of quantity.
See Thompson, Singular Terms and Intuitions in Kants Epistemology, pp.338
339; also Parsons, Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic, Postscript, p.148.
Review of vol. 2 of Eberhards Philosophisches Magazin (1790), in Ak. 20:386n.
This review was written in close collaboration with Kant and is partly based
on manuscripts by Kant; however, the passage quoted does not occur in those


to show such possible existence without the aid of certain philosophical considerations. To be possible is to agree with the formal conditions of experience, that is, with the conditions of intuition and of concepts (A218/B266; emphasis mine). The latter conditions are of course
the categories. In his discussion, Kant is quite explicit about the relevance to the mathematical realm of this conception of possibility.
When he says, as we noted above, that a constructed triangle is only
the form of an object, he goes on to say that to determine the possibility of an object of which it is the form, it must be the case that such
a figure is thought under no conditions save those upon which all
objects of experience rest (A224/B271). These are not only space, as a
condition of outer appearance, but that the formative synthesis through
which we construct a triangle in imagination is precisely the same as
that which we exercise in the apprehension of an appearance, in making for ourselves an empirical concept of it. These are just the considerations advanced in the Axioms of Intuition. But the consequence
seems to be that knowledge of the objective reality of mathematical
concepts, that is, the possible existence of instances of them, is philosophical rather than purely mathematical knowledge.5
This state of affairs poses a dilemma for Kants philosophy with
regard to the status of mathematical knowledge. Kants conception of
mathematical knowledge as resting on demonstrative proof in which
the essentially mathematical element is construction in pure intuition
makes it of a quite different character from philosophical; of course
that contrast is the main theme of the Discipline of Pure Reason in its
Dogmatic Employment. It seems quite clear that Kant thinks of such
knowledge as independent of philosophy. But mathematical demonstration seems not to yield knowledge of objects in the genuine sense,
unless it is supplemented by some philosophical reflection. A much-cited
remark in the second edition Transcendental Deduction illustrates the
Through the determination of pure intuition we can acquire
apriori knowledge of objects, as in mathematics, but only in regard to their form, as appearances; whether there can be things
which must be intuited in this form, is still left undecided. Mathematical concepts are not, there, by themselves knowledge, except

Cf. Thompson, op. cit., p.339.



on the supposition that there are things which allow of being

presented to us only in accordance with the form of that pure
sensible intuition. (B147)
One possible resolution would be to admit an ambiguity in the
phrase knowledge of objects; mathematical knowledge, unaided by
philosophy, is knowledge of objects in a weaker sense, in which the
objects known are forms such that so far as mathematics is concerned
it is left undecided whether they are the forms of real objects. That
suggestion seems to commit Kant to mathematical objects. But other
versions of this resolution might make Kant something like what is
nowadays called a modalist; that is, constructibility of a concept would
entail the possible existence of a (physical) object of the form involved,
but the notion of possibility would have to be attenuated when compared with that explicated in the Postulates; it would be a version of
what recent writers have called mathematical possibility.6
The resolution most immediately suggested by this passage, however,
would still leave mathematical knowledge as knowledge of objects in
the full-blooded sense. But although mathematical demonstration would
yield knowledge of such objects (since the supposition Kant mentions
is true), it would not establish that the concepts involved are objectively real. This suggestion still leaves open the interpretation of quantifiers in mathematics, and thus seems to require either one of the two
other solutions mentioned above, or the more extreme view of Thompson that a Kantian canonical language for mathematics would not
contain quantifiers at all and would express generality only by free

For example Putnam, Mathematics without Foundations, esp. pp.49, 5859;

also my Mathematics in Philosophy, esp. pp.2122, 183186. Though it is stricter
than the notion of logical possibility that does occur in Kant, such a notion of possibility would still have a formal character.
Thompson, op. cit., pp. 340341, but Thompson expresses this position with
some diffidence. Thompson suggests there is constructible as a reading for the
particular (existential) quantifier in mathematics, but says that since one must
see (intuit) the constructibility, . . . [t]here is no need for a special symbol by
which one represents discursively (asserts that there is) the constructibility one
must intuit (340). This seems to be a non sequitur.
Nonetheless, Thompsons thoughtful discussion raises some difficult issues concerning Kants distinction between demonstrations and discursive proofs, which I
have not attempted to deal with here.


Something like the second of these three solutions may be read into
the above-cited remark by Schultz, but more direct evidence that Kant
faced the issue of the ontology of mathematics is lacking. It is instructive to ask, however, whether Kant could have adopted the first
solution and accepted mathematical objects, as he indeed seems to do
in some passages cited above. He would have to acknowledge a use of
quantifiers wider than over objects in his full sense of objects of experience, but his conception of the logical use of the understanding
seems to make this acknowledgment already. If, with Schultz, he were
to read the particular quantifier as es gibt, this would not connote
Dasein or Wirklichkeit, but that would not commit Kant to a real theory
of nonexistent objects of the sort that is attributed to Meinong or
inspired by him.8
A possibly more serious question that would arise for a Kantian
conception of mathematical objects, and of mathematics as knowledge
of such objects, comes from his view that knowledge of objects requires
intuition. When Kant speaks in this vein, he does regard construction
of concepts in pure intuition as yielding such objects; in that sense,
there would be intuition of them. But strictly speaking, this probably
applies only to what Kant calls ostensive construction, which is characteristic of geometry, as contrasted with symbolic construction, characteristic of algebra (A717/B745). It is the former that is said to be of the
objects themselves. This leaves somewhat unclear in what sense it
would be open to Kant to say that construction gives the objects of
arithmetic and algebra. J. Michael Young seems to me reasonable in
describing the construction involved in the intuitive verification of
7 + 5 / 12 in the second edition Introduction as ostensive.9 But although Kant does speak of seeing the number 12 come into being
(B16), what is constructed is clearly a set or configuration of twelve
objects. In passing in this passage, and more explicitly in the Schematism
(A140/B179), he refers to such a configuration as an image of the number (see below). We shall see below that Kants remarks about number
frequently show a conflation of the notions of a particular number n
and of a set of n objects. This may have prevented him from facing the

Cf. the comparison of Kant with Frege in Objects and Logic, pp.494495, [or
Mathematical Thought and Its Objects, pp.57]. A Meinongian view would be of
course quite foreign to Kant.
Kant on the Construction of Arithmetical Concepts, pp.3031.


question whether numbers, strictly speaking, can be constructed in intuition. It is noteworthy that both in the Introduction and in the Axioms of Intuition Kant focuses on singular propositions about numbers,
so that the question how to interpret generalizations about them is not
raised. It is at the latter point that we ourselves are inclined to see the
problem of ontological commitment to numbers as arising. Young
suggests that Kant might regard statements about numbers as statements about finite sets, but he considers only a singular example.10
In one way or another, Kant must regard some objects of arithmetic
and algebra as at a conceptual remove from the intuitions that found
statements about them. This, rather than his conception of existence,
seems to me to be the most principled difficulty in the way of Kants
adopting the mathematical-objects picture. In some cases, such as
rational numbers, it seems that Kant would fall back on the notion
of symbolic construction. Positive and negative rational numbers are
talked of in the context of a calculus, in which there are definite rules
for manipulating expressions of the form m/n, where m and n range
over natural numbers. By adding symbols for roots, we can similarly
accommodate algebraic real numbers. Kant did, however, make a distinction of status between rational and irrational numbers. When, in a
letter of September 1790, August Wilhelm Rehberg asked why the understanding cannot think 2 in numbers (11:206), Kant does not
challenge the formulation; for him number meant primarily whole

Ibid., p.37. Of course we can now develop first-order arithmetic in a theory of

finite sets; the essential ideas for this development were first discovered by Ernst
Zermelo in 1908. Such a development has the uncomfortable feature that it singles
out more or less arbitrarily a certain sequence of sets as the natural numbers. A
more neutral procedure had been devised earlier by Richard Dedekind in his Was
sind und was sollen die Zahlen? Dedekind reads statements about the natural
numbers as general statements about any simply infinite system, that is, structure
satisfying the Dedekind-Peano axioms. But to develop number theory in this way
requires either a second-order theory of finite sets or an axiom of infinity. [Shortly
after this last remark was written, W.W. Tait convinced me that this interpretation of Dedekind is incorrect. See my Mathematical Thought and Its Objects,
There is, however, a third possibility which fits Kants way of talking a little
better. This would be to replace talk of numbers by talk of sets modulo cardinal
equivalence. Instead of operations on numbers we would have operations on sets:
disjoint union for sum, and Cartesian product for product. Identity of numbers
would be replaced by cardinal equivalence of sets. The prior question, how appropriate it is to talk of sets in the Kantian context, is discussed below.


number. It is geometric construction that shows that the concept of 2

is not empty, but such a root is not a number, but only the rule of approximating of it.11 But Kants remark that such a quantity can never
be thought in numbers suggests that the representation of the rational
number m/n does allow us to think it completely in numbers. However
this may be, the geometric construction once again yields not 2 itself
but rather a representative of 2, in the form of a pair of lines whose
length has ratio 2. But then the question arises what, if anything, it
means to speak of 2 itself; this question would lead us into questions about mathematical objects that Kant did not consider.

Kants conception of the categories of quantity combines two kinds of
notions: quantity as understood in logic in his time, and conceptions
of whole and part. The connection between these two kinds of ideas is
not very clearly made. The first is reflected in the Table of Judgments,
in which judgments are classified with respect to quantity as universal,
particular, or singular (A70/B95). In the universal and particular cases,
quantity is what we would express by the quantifiers all and some.
Kants conception of a singular judgment is less clear. It would be
most natural to us to count as a singular judgment one of the form a is
B, where a is a singular term, and indeed Kant gives such examples.12
But in the language of concepts, that would suggest that a singular
judgment is one in which a concept of a different type (or perhaps even
not a concept at all, but an intuition) is the subject. Kant repudiates
this suggestion in saying that it is not concepts but their use that can be
singular.13 Kant gives his most explicit explanation when, after talking
of the use of the concept house in universal and particular judgments,
he remarks:
Or I use the concept only for a single thing, for example: This
house is cleaned in such and such a way. It is not concepts but
judgments that divide into universal, particular, and singular.14

Letter to Rehberg, September 1790, 11:210.

Logik 21, Note 1, 9:102; Metaphysik Volckmann, 28:396.
Logik 1, Note 2, 9:91; Wiener Logik, 24:909. See Thompson, Singular Terms
and Intuitions, pp.316318.
Wiener Logik, 24:909.



This would suggest, as Alan Shamoon remarks in commenting on this

passage, that a judgment is singular, and its subject concept has singular use, if it has in the subject a demonstrative or the definite article.15
Thus singular judgments, like universal and particular ones, would
have an expression of quantity, in effect a quantifier. But Kant does not
offer a theory of proper names.
The above passage indicates a clear enough distinction of a formallogical kind between singular and other judgments. By comparison the
justification in the Critique of Pure Reason for including singular judgments in the table is unclear and appeals to epistemological considerations (A71/B96). At all events singular judgments are not at center
stage in Kants logic. Where the singular/general distinction is fundamental in Kant is not in formal logic but in the distinction between intuitions and concepts. I will not venture to explicate the category of unity
as Kant understands it.
In the Table of Categories, we already find notions of whole and
part. The categories of quantity are unity, plurality, and totality (A80/
B106). In Kants explanations of these categories, in the Critique and
elsewhere, the whole/part notions dominate over those of logical quantity. In view of the fact that number arises from these categories according to Kant, it is disappointing that their connection with logical
quantity is not more clear, although Kant is explicit enough about the
connection of totality with universality, as we shall see.16 Modern analyses of number have connected it closely with quantification, but this is
not a matter about which Kant achieves much clarity.
It requires some explanation to see how the unity, plurality, and totality of the Table are related to the notions of quantity explored in the
Axioms of Intuition, which officially presents the principle governing
the schematized categories of quantity. Indeed, how Kant understands

Kants Logic, p.85.

It has been disputed whether in the correspondence between the forms of
judgment and the categories, Kant intended unity to correspond with singular judgment and totality with universal, as one would expect, or vice versa, as the order in
the two tables of the Critique suggests. In my view Michael Frede and Lorenz
Krger have made a convincing case for the former correspondence; see their
ber die Zuordnung der Quantitten des Urteils und der Kategorien der Grsse
bei Kant.
[This issue has continued to be controversial. For an opposing view see Thompson, Unity, Plurality, and Totality.]




the categories of quantity as pure categories is not entirely clear. Although Kants explanations are often obscure and sometimes inconsistent with one another, the issues involved in both these matters concern a subject of modern discussion, namely the relation of the set/
element relation to the whole/part relation. To learn more about how
Kant understood notions of quantity, whole and part, we will turn to
Kants Reflections attached to the sections of Baumgartens Metaphysica dealing with whole and part17 and to the notes from Kants
lectures on Metaphysics, which generally contain a section corresponding to the same place in Baumgarten.18
In the Axioms, Kant tells us that an extensive quantity is one in
which the representation of the parts makes possible that of the whole
(and therefore necessarily precedes it) (A162/B203). All appearances
are intuited as aggregates (multiplicities) of previously given parts
(A163/B204). The term translated multiplicity is Menge, later used
by Cantor and now the standard German term for set. How it should
be translated in Kant is a problem; plurality, collection, and multitude are also possibilities; my choice of multiplicity is somewhat
arbitrary.19 It is suggested by the fact that in one place Kant equates


155164, Totale et partiale, reprinted in Ak. 17:5861. Some, but not all, of
Kants analysis follows Baumgarten. The close connection between ideas of quantity and of whole and part is shared with Baumgarten; indeed it can be traced back
to Aristotles Categories. The role of a concept in conceptions about quantity (see
below) is not in Baumgarten.
The Reflections we cite are dated by Adickes between 1780 and the beginning
of the 1790s; they are in vol. 18 of Ak. and are cited merely by number. Earlier
Reflections are briefer and, on the whole, less independent of Baumgarten. (But see
note 26 below.)
The relevant sections, all in vol. 28 of Ak., are Metaphysik Volckmann (c. 1784/
1785), pp.422428, esp.422424; Metaphysik von Schn (c. 1789/1790), pp.504
506; Metaphysik L2 (WS 1790(1), pp.560562; Metaphysik Dohna (1792/1793),
pp. 636637; Metaphysik K2 (early 1790s), pp. 714715. The passage from
Metaphysik L2 agrees verbatim with the corresponding section of Phlitz, Immanuel Kants Vorlesungen ber die Metaphysik, pp.3132 of the 1924 reprint.
These materials are all cited merely by page number.
With reference to notes from Kants lectures, a statement such as Kant says . . .
should be regarded with caution; in my usage it should be regarded as an abbreviation for Kant is reported to say . . .
I am agreeing with Kemp Smiths translation of Menge at A140/B179, but here
he translates it as complex. For my own purpose, a uniform translation is


Menge with the Latin multitudo.20 In the Axioms, where what is primarily at issue is the schematized categories of quantity, Kant is talking
of the relation of extended objects to their spatial parts. What Kant
calls an aggregate or multiplicity is therefore closer to a mereological
sum. This spatial model is evidently not conceived by Kant to be the
only form taken by the schematized categories of quantity; indeed he
generally, though not always, regards time as more fundamental than
space. We shall turn to this question.
Let us now turn to the pure categories of quantity. Kant says that totality is nothing but plurality considered as unity (B111). This should
remind you of Cantors explanation of the notion of set.21 This is reinforced by the following remarks from lectures on metaphysics:
Vieles insofern es Eins ist, ist die Allheit. Id, in quo est omnitudo
plurium, est totum.22
Kant does not distinguish very clearly between the whole/part and
the set/element relation. I will show, however, that there is some basis,
even though not clearly articulated, for Kant to make such a distinction. Something like the latter relation is needed to make sense of the
relation of the categories to the concept of number.
Kants most elementary notion concerning whole and part is that of
a compositum, which seems to be simply an object in which parts can
be distinguished. He is concerned to distinguish compositum from
quantum, in which the parts must be homogeneous,23 but also from
totum.24 The latter distinction is not too clear. Two distinguishable
ideas are that a totum is not part of something further, or at least not

Metaphysik Volckmann, p.422. In his German translation of the Inaugural Dissertation, Klaus Reich translates multitudo in 1 as Menge; see Kant, De mundi,
Especially Cantors characterization of a set as jedes Viele, welches sich als
Eines denken lsst, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, p. 204. I am not pressing any
claim of an anticipation of Cantor by Kant; rather, it seems to me that Cantors
explanations are based on older ways of thought and that ideas about whole and
part are not entirely absent from his own conception of what a set is.
Kant, however, associates Menge with the category of plurality (B111). This
passage was pointed out to me by Pierre Keller.
Metaphysik L2, p.560.
B203, also Refl. 5836, 5842. Cf. B201n.
Allheit, the third category of quantity in Kants table, is rendered in Latin as
totum in the above-quoted passage, but as totalitas in Refl. 5838. A distinction


represented as such,25 and that the concept of a totum involves unity of

the plurality of parts.26 The former idea seems to dominate in the Reflections on these matters, the latter in the explanation of the category
of totality in the Critique (B111; but cf. B114). It is the former idea
that has an obvious connection with the universal form of judgment.
Nonetheless it seems to me that it is the latter idea that is the more
interesting one, and the more relevant to the concept of number. It is
the idea that is found later in Cantor. If a whole of parts is thought of
as one object, to which, however, a definite conception belongs of what
the parts are, then a set of parts is at least determined. Where the objects are spatio-temporal, what distinguishes a sum from a set is precisely that the latter has definite elements.
One Kantian manner in which what we would call the elements
might be given is by a concept. In fact we find Kant saying:
A thing can be seen as a compositum (in a series) but without
totality (of aggregate). Therefore the concept of the compositum
is not yet that of a totum. To be a quantum requires homogeneity, to be a compositum not. The totum is always considered as a
quantum according to a certain concept.
Totality belongs to the concept of a compositum as homogeneous, that is as quantum. (Refl. 5843)
What this passage suggests is that the homogeneity of parts that
will make a compositum a quantum is their falling under a common
concept; then that concept imparts unity to the plurality of parts, so
that they constitute a totum. On this reading, the totum is determined
by the set of parts falling under the concept in question. But now we
would distinguish a whole that has a certain set of parts from the set of
parts itself; indeed, the concept defining the set might naturally allow
the whole as an improper part, so that it will be an element of the
set. But the notion of a whole also suggests a different role for a concept, namely a sortal concept that the whole object falls under. Then
there will be derivative concepts applying to the parts, marking them
as parts of this whole, or of a whole of this kind. It is not easy to see
between the two might be made along the lines of that between quantum and
quantitas (A163/B 204), but Kant does not do so very explicitly.
A compositum, insofar as it is not a part, is a totum (Refl. 5834).
Refl. 5833, 5840. In the former matter is said to be compositum, body totum.


how the parts can be homogeneous except by falling under some such
derivative concept, which returns us to the first reading of the above
We have been considering remarks of Kant that are on an abstract
level and could plausibly be taken to be explicating pure categories. In
the case of spatio-temporal objects, however, Kant evidently thinks
that spatio-temporal extension itself constitutes the basic form of division into homogeneous parts. To that extent, the parts of an object are
homogeneous simply by virtue of being parts of that object, and clearly
there is a deeper homogeneity of the spaces occupied by the parts; because the representation of a spatial whole is a result of synthesis, the
synthesis is of the sort Kant calls mathematical (B201n.). Both of these
forms of homogeneity will be bound up with a third, there being some
concept that offers unification of the second of the two types mentioned
Kant evidently intended his definitions concerning quantity to cover
both discrete and continuous quantity, and the distinction seems still to
be defined in abstraction from space and time:
A quantum by whose magnitude the multiplicity of its parts is
undetermined, is called a continuum; it consists of as many parts
as I wish to give it; it does not consist of individual parts. On the
other hand, every quantum through whose magnitude I wish to
represent the multiplicity of its parts is discrete.29
A quantum through whose concept the multiplicity of its parts
is determined, is discrete; one through whose concept of quan-


In one text, Refl. 4822 (1775/1779, 17:738), Kant complicates the matter further by saying that in a quantity (Grsse) the whole must be homogeneous with
the parts. Here he seems to be thinking of quantities in the sense in which it is
filled out by a mass term; his example is a quantity of money, and he seems to reject the idea of a quantity of ducats. On this conception, a quantity differs both
from a mereological sum and from a set.
28 One would not expect Kant to conceive recognition of the same object at different times on the model according to which an enduring object is a whole that has
as parts temporal stages. Nonetheless, the mathematical representation of time
as a line, on which Kant lays great stress, means that persistence through time will
have some formal features of extension in space.
Metaphysik L2, p.561.


tity the multiplicity of the parts is in itself undetermined, is a

Note that Kant says that in the case of a continuum the multiplicity
(Menge) of parts is undetermined. Kant certainly held the pre-Cantorian
view that number means finite number.31 If a quantum were a continuum if its concept did not determine the number of parts, that would
then make every quantum with infinitely many parts a continuum.
That does not follow from what Kant says. What he evidently means is
that the concept of a continuum does not determine what the parts are.
Although these definitions are abstract, space and time are of course
the paradigms of continua. Kant considers the parts of space and time
to be spaces and times, rather than points. It follows that they do not
have simple parts; presumably, since they can be divided in arbitrary
ways, neither has a definite set of parts.32 In his theory of matter, Kant
in effect holds that objects in space are similarly continuous.
Of course the application of arithmetic, and even the development
of the mathematics of continuity, requires that some quantities be identified as discrete. Evidently Kant accommodates this by making what
are the parts of a quantum depend on how it is conceived, as for example in the above quotation from Reflection 5844. If, as Reflection
5847 has it (see note 32), all real quanta are indefinitely divisible, it
must be that the concept that determines the parts of a discrete

Refl. 5844. In both these passages, Menge could quite appropriately have been
translated set.
31 In one place, however, Kant intimates a distinction between infinity in the sense
of nonfiniteness, and unsurpassably large quantity:
The former [the concept of the infinite] does not determine at all, how large something is; however, the concept of maximum does determine quantity. The concept
of the infinite shows that my quantum is larger than my power of measuring.
Therefore God is the infinite being does not say as much as God is the greatest
being. (Metaphysik K2, p.715)

At one point, however, Kant seems to view this as characteristic of quanta in

Every quantum is a compositum whose parts are homogeneous with it. Consequently it is a continuum and does not consist of simple parts. (Refl. 5847)

Here he goes beyond his usual characterization of a quantum in assuming that the
parts are homogeneous not only with each other but with the whole, but the situation is not the special one envisaged in Refl. 4822 (see note 27 above). He is here
apparently thinking of spatio-temporal quanta.


quantity does not stop further division; that is, further division is possible, although the resulting parts would not any longer fall under the
concept. That must be the situation if we are to make sense in these
terms of attributions of cardinal number. Kant sometimes regarded this
concept as not intrinsic to the quantum, so that a quantum that is continuous if one considers its possible divisions into parts can be considered as discrete:
Quantum discretum is that whose parts are considered as units;
that whose parts are considered as multiplicities is called a continuum. We can also consider a continuum as discrete; for example, I can consider the minute as unit of the hour, but also as
set which itself contains units, namely 60 seconds.33
If, stretching Kants explicit formulations, we allow nonconnected
objects to count as wholes, we can accommodate the assignment of
cardinalities in the physical realm: the number of people in this room
would attach to their mereological sum, conceived as having individual
people as parts (as opposed to some other conceivable division).
Elsewhere Kant describes a discrete quantity per se as one in
which the number of parts is determined arbitrarily by us.34 The text
goes on:
Number is therefore called quantum discretum. Through number
we represent every quantum as discrete.
The situation evidently results from combining the dependence on
aconcept, of a division into parts that gives a definite number and the
taking of this concept as not intrinsic to the quantum. In fact Kant
goes further in treating number as dependent on our representation.
But some backtracking will be necessary before we can go into this.

Metaphysik Volckmann, p.423. The issue is complicated by a distinction made

in this text between a quantity that is in itself discrete (an sich discretum) and a
continuous one that is represented as discrete. It appears that only the latter case
will occur in the realm of appearance, but the example of a bushel of corn as a
quantum that is discrete because of having parts whose parts are heterogeneous
may be intended to illustrate the notion of in itself discrete quantity.
34 Metaphysik L2, p.561. Per se is reminiscent of an sich in the corresponding passage of Metaphysik Volckmann (see note 33), but the characterization of per se is
almost opposite. One or the other hearer may have misunderstood Kant.


Up to now we have concentrated on Kants purely abstract discussion of part, whole, and quantity; to all appearances these notions belong to the pure categories. Some considerations concerning space and
time have, however, crept in. When Kant begins to talk of number, the
amount that can be said on the pure categorical level seems to be very
limited. Already in the Inaugural Dissertation (1), Kant finds an abstract intellectual conception of the composition of a whole of parts to
be possible, but to follow up such a conception and represent it in
the concrete involves temporal conditions:
Thus it is one thing, given the parts, to conceive for oneself the
composition of the whole, by means of an abstract notion of the
intellect; and it is another thing to follow up this general notion,
as one might do with some problem of reason, through the sensitive faculty of knowledge, that is to represent the same notion to
oneself in the concrete by a distinct intuition. The former is done
by means of the concept of composition in general, insofar as a
number of things are contained under it (in mutual relations to
each other), and so by means of ideas of the intellect which are
universal. The second case rests upon temporal conditions, insofar as it is possible by the successive addition of part to part to
arrive genetically, that is by synthesis, at the concept of a composite, and in this case falls under the laws of intuition. (2:387)
The same duality arises again when, in 12 of the Dissertation, Kant
refers to the concept of number:
In addition to these concepts there is a certain concept which in
itself indeed is intellectual, but whose actuation in the concrete
(actuatio in concreto) requires the assisting notions of time and
space (by successively adding a number of things and setting
them simultaneously beside one another). This is the concept of
number, which is the concept treated in arithmetic.35
I shall not try to sort out what, at this stage, belongs to the abstract
concept and what to its actuation in the concrete. From Kants later
critical standpoint, any construction that would yield models of math35

2:397. Reich translates actuatio in concreto as Darstellung im Einzelnen (Kant,

de mundi, p.35).


ematical notions such as that of number will involve the forms of intuition; this seems to be true even of the most basic notion of a compositum. In the Critique of Pure Reason, the status of the pure categorial
notions is obscured by Kants characterizing number as the schema of
quantity (A142/B182) and by the fact that most of Kants explanation
of notions of quantity occurs in the Axioms, where he is principally
concerned with the schematized categories. Later texts return to a position close to that of the Dissertation, as we shall see.
The problem that Kant faces is how much beyond some basic definitions he can develop without construction, which on his own account
will involve intuition. With respect to number, a further factor is that he
tends not to distinguish a multiplicitys having a certain number from
our knowledge of that fact; indeed from the point of view of transcendental idealism the two should be essentially connected. He tends even
to characterize number in epistemic terms:
To know a multiplicity distinctly by adding of unit to unit is to
count. A number is a multiplicity known distinctly by counting.36
Very often, when Kant talks of the relation of number and arithmetic to time, time seems to play the role of a subjective condition of apprehension. Needless to say, this does not strengthen Kants case for
the view that arithmetic is synthetic and dependent on intuition. On
this matter, I have already written elsewhere.37
The above citation illustrates another phenomenon that is frequent
in Kants remarks about number. That is that he tends not to distinguish, for a given number n, between a multiplicity with cardinal
number n and the number n itself.38 This conflation illustrates the lack,
discussed above, of an articulated theory of mathematical objects in
Kant, and with respect to the idea of ostensive construction of numbers may have contributed to it. Note also that by number Kant evidently means primarily cardinal or ordinal number, at all events whole

Metaphysik Volckmann, p. 423 (in Latin); cf. Metaphysik von Schn, p. 506;
also Metaphysik Dohna, pp.636637.
37 Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic, esp. pp. 128142. But on the treatment
there of Kants conception of mathematical objects, see the Postscript, pp.147
149, which I of the present essay amplifies. [On this subject see further the
Cf. B16; Metaphysik L2, p.561 (cited above).


number as opposed to what we would call rational, real, or complex


I shall now turn to the discussion of number in the Schematism and to
the texts of 17881790 that seem to be inconsistent with it. Kant appears in the Schematism to reject the idea expressed in the Dissertation
and implicit, though not consistently held to, in the Metaphysics lectures, of describing the concept of number in terms of the pure
In the Schematism, Kant uses a numerical example in the course of
explaining the notion of schema and distinguishing it from that of image (Bild). If I put five points one after another, he tells us,

this is an image of the number five (A140/B179). Its relation to its object will seem to us quite different from that in the other cases he mentions, such as the concepts of triangle and dog (A141/B180). At all
events he continues:
But if, on the other hand, I think only a number in general, whether
it be five or a hundred, this thought is rather a representation of a
method whereby a multiplicity, for instance a thousand, may be
represented in an image in conformity with a certain concept, than
the image itself. (A140/B179)
It is not entirely clear whether he is here describing the thought of
number in general, that is, the entertaining of the general notion of
natural number, or giving a general description of the thought of a particular number (so that it is the description, rather than the thought
described, that is general over the natural numbers). The former reading seems to me slightly more likely. However, even the thought of a
particular number will have to be distinguished from an image of it;
moreover, the thought of a number as large as 1,000 will in practice
have to involve general operations on numbers.
However, even for a number like 5, for which there is no difficulty
in obtaining the sort of thing Kant calls an image, we do not have a
method of representing a multiplicity in an image in conformity with a


certain concept, unless the multiplicity itself is determined by a concept, in the example at hand something like dot on the page. This is
just Freges point that a number attaches to a concept.39 We have already seen Kant wrestling with this issue and attempting to fit it into a
conception of multiplicities based on whole/part ideas.
It is curious that when Kant comes to enumerate the schemata of
the individual categories, it is only for the categories of quantity that
he describes an image, and what he says does not exactly fit what he
has said previously:
The pure image of all magnitudes (quantorum) before outer sense
is space; that of all objects of the senses in general is time. But
the pure schema of magnitude (quantitatis), as a concept of the
understanding, is number, a representation which comprises the
successive addition of homogeneous units. Number is therefore
simply the unity of the synthesis of the manifold of a homogeneous intuition in general, a unity due to my generating time itself in the apprehension of the intuition. (A142143/B182)
No doubt what is meant by calling space and time pure images of
quanta is that their structure relevant to the application of the categories of quantity can be represented by spatial or temporal structure. In
particular, the image of a number in the sense of the previous passage
will be spatio-temporal. Indeed, Kants emphasis on successive addition
in descriptions of the concept of number makes it possible that here he
conceives the image to be essentially temporal: the points are an image
of the number five by being put one after the other (hintereinander);
thus, they constitute an image of a number by virtue of being generated
in succession.40
Kant at this time seems to have rejected the distinction of the Dissertation between the intellectual concept of number and its actuation
in the concrete. The abstract conception of whole, part, and quantity

It is unlikely that it is this concept, rather than the concept of number in general
or of a single number such as 5 or 1000, that Kant has in mind when he speaks of
representing in an image in conformity with a certain concept. For it seems clear
from the last sentence of the paragraph that it is the latter concept whose schema
is being described; hence it must be the concept of totality or perhaps of number.
In A140/B179, Kemp Smith translates wenn ich fnf Punkte hintereinander setze
as if five points be set alongside one another, thus losing the implication of successive setting.


is little in evidence in the Critique, in particular not where number is

discussed. Nonetheless, the identification of number as a schema would
have its difficulties, for it attributes a temporal content to the notion of
number itself. Kant may have been prepared to accept this consequence,
for more than one possible reason: any construction that would give rise
to the series of numbers would generate them successively, each one by
addition of one more from the previous ones. In particular, coming to
know the number of a multiplicity by counting involves the generation of a sequence (of acts or tokens) isomorphic to the numbers up to a
given one. On transcendental idealist grounds, Kant might have resisted
the distinction between a multiplicitys having a certain number and the
condition being fulfilled for our knowing this in a canonical way. But the
strongest reason would probably have been his conviction of the necessity of construction for arithmetic.41
In talking of symbolic construction in algebra, Kant does say that algebra
abstracts completely from the properties of the object that is to be thought in
terms of such a concept of magnitude (A717/B745). How far does this abstraction extend? Does it make algebra applicable to objects in general, independently of the forms of intuition? If the role of intuition is only that the signs of
a formal calculus are objects of intuition, and the conformity of steps to rules is
intuitively checkable, then perhaps there is no reason to attribute to the operations any spatio-temporal content or to the limit the applicability of algebra to
spatio-temporal objects. No such limitation is suggested in Kants first formulation of these ideas, in Untersuchung ber die Deutlichkeit der Grundstze der
natrlichen Theologie und der Moral (1764, esp.2:291292). With regard to applicability, in the 1788 letter to Schultz discussed below, Kant says quite unequivocally that mathematics is applicable only to sensible things (10:557). With respect to the content of pure algebra the matter is less clear; see below. There is
some support for the thesis of Alan Shamoon (Kants Logic, p.221n.) that for
that domain Kant still held in the Critical period the formalist view expressed in
Shamoons dissertation contains an interesting discussion of symbolic construction and its relation to ideas of Lambert.
Concerning the Deutlichkeit, my own remark (Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic, p. 138) that it exhibits a connection in Kants mind between sensibility
and the intuitive character of mathematics before he developed the theory of
space and time of the Aesthetic was aimed at Jaakko Hintikkas thesis that his
own essentially logical analysis of the role of intuition in mathematical proof describes a preliminary or earlier stage of Kants philosophy of mathematics, at
which no connection between intuition and sensibility is made. (See his paper
Kants Transcendental Method and His Theory of Mathematics.) In this connection the readers attention should be called to Mirella Capozzi Cellucci, J.
Hintikka e il metodo della matematica in Kant. My remark is elaborated on



There is also a conceptual gap which, whether or not Kant was conscious of it, makes his definitions of discrete quantity fall short of capturing the notion of finite quantity, which he would need for his own
conception of number. A discrete quantity, as Kant defines it, will have
a definite number of parts, but there is no necessity that this number
should be finite; in fact, on this level Kant does not offer much of a
conceptual basis for comparing magnitudes and for formulating answers to questions about the magnitude of particular quanta.42 Kants
appeal to successive repetition was possibly an attempt to capture
the notion of finiteness. Consider:
The concept of magnitude in general can never be explained except by saying that it is that determination of a thing whereby
we are enabled to say how many times a unit is posited in it. But
this how-many-times is based on successive repetition, and therefore on time and the synthesis of the homogeneous in time.
We might compare the situation with that obtaining once we have the
set-theoretic notion of cardinality. In his definition of discrete quantity
and identification of number with it, Kant leaves open the possibility
of infinite number, even though other remarks of his reject it. But he
does not take the key step taken by Cantor, giving a general definition
of when two sets have the same cardinal number, and what he says
about greater and less is somewhat crude.43 But even when all this has
been done, two further steps need to be taken for a set-theoretic theory
of cardinal number: the notion of cardinal has to be related to that of
ordinal; from Cantor on it has been accepted that an informative answer
to the question of the cardinality of a set will place it in the sequence of
pp.241243, but the paper contains a number of further criticisms of Hintikkas
conception of a preliminary Kantian theory. She is perhaps the only one of Hintikkas critics to engage him on his own grounds, with respect to his use of a Euclidean conception of mathematical proof; see especially 7 on ekthesis and logic
in Kant.
Since Kants discussion of quantity comprehends the continuous as well as the
discrete, knowledge of magnitude involves more than just determination of cardinalities (i.e., counting); it will involve measurement. I have not gone into such issues
at all here. Some commentators have read the Axioms of Intuition as concerned with
the possibility of measurement of physical phenomena. See for example Gordon
Brittan, Kants Theory of Science.
E.g., Metaphysik Volckmann, p.424; Metaphysik Dohna, p.637.


ordinals.44 Second, finiteness has to be characterized. The finite ordinals and ordinals in general are often explained in terms of different
notions of iteration; finite iteration is an abstract counterpart of the
notion of successive repetition. But to describe it in abstract terms was
quite beyond the logical and mathematical resources of Kant and his
contemporaries; the task was first accomplished in the 1880s by Frege
and Dedekind.
Whatever considerations may have motivated Kants position of 1781,
in some later texts he returns to a view close to that of the Dissertation,
and holds that at least some essentials of the concept of number are intellectual and presumably derive from the pure categories. This may have
been made possible for him by his reworking of the Transcendental
Deduction for the second edition of the Critique, with its distinction
between a more abstract level of the argument, presented in 1520,
which considers the synthesis of a given manifold of intuition in general,
without making any assumptions about our particular forms of intuition,
and the application of these abstract considerations to our forms of intuition, in the argument of 2426. In particular, Kant distinguishes in this
context between intellectual and figurative synthesis (B151). The former
is that which is thought in the mere category in respect of the manifold
of an intuition in general.
How this new formulation works out for the categories of quantity
and the notion of number is not very explicit in the second edition of the
Critique. It is reasonable to conjecture, however, that Kant saw the notion of intellectual synthesis as a framework into which to fit the abstract
conceptions of quantity developed in his lectures. Note that he characterizes the concept of a quantum as the consciousness of the manifold
[and] homeogeneous in intuition in general (B203).45


Hence the centrality to the theory of cardinals of the axiom of choice, which
implies that every cardinality can be located somewhere in the sequence of ordinals, and of the continuum problem, which is the question where in the sequence
of ordinals the cardinality of the continuum lies.
Kemp Smith translates consciousness of the synthetic unity of the manifold . . . ,
following Vaihinger, who emended Bewusstsein des mannigfaltigen Gleichartigen to Bewusstsein der synthetischen Einheit des mannigfaltigen Gleichartigen.
(See Kant, Kritik der reinen Vernunft, ed. Schmidt, p.217 [or ed. Timmermann,
p.261]. As an interpretation, this seems to me reasonable enough.
[I no longer think so. Daniel Sutherland has argued at length and convincingly
against this proposed emendation. See The Role of Magnitude, pp.418426.]


So far, Kant has not put the concept of number into his framework.
But that is just what he seems to do in his letter to Johann Schultz of
November 25, 1788. There he says that arithmetic had for its object
merely quantity (Quantitt), i.e. a concept of a thing in general by
determination of magnitude (10:555), and he goes on to say:
Time, as you quite rightly remark, has no influence on the properties of numbers (as pure determinations of magnitude), . . . and
the science of number, in spite of the succession, which every
construction of magnitude requires, is a pure intellectual synthesis which we represent to ourselves in our thoughts. (10:557)
Kant might seem to be responding to the point, later much emphasized
by Frege, that the concept of number applies to objects in general, independently of such conditions as those Kant associates with sensibility.
But although, according to Kant, we may have such an intellectual concept of number, it is applicable only to sensible things (sensibilia). This
much would, however, be to be expected if what is at issue is application
to yield knowledge of objects in the full sense. But what Kant says by
way of argument for it may just as well include pure mathematics:
Insofar, as quantities are to be determined in accordance with it
[the science of number], they must be given to us in such a way
that we can take up their intuition successively, and so this taking up must be subjected to the condition of time, so that we can
still subject no object to our estimation of quantity by numbers
except that of our possible sensible intuition. (Ibid.)
Kant thus leaves doubt about how much of a science of number
there can be without intuition and time; it is not entirely clear that the
difference between his position here and that of 1781 is more than
Kants response to Rehberg seems, however, to be more emphatic.
Rehberg challenges the formulations of the Schematism. He admits
that the application of arithmetical truths to sensible appearances
would be subject to the condition of time, but he claims that to see the
truth of the arithmetical propositions themselves no intuiting of the
form of sensibility is necessary
since no intuiting of time is required, in order to carry out arithmetical and algebraic proofs, which are rather immediately evident


from the concepts of numbers, and only require sensible signs,

from which the concepts are recognized during and after the operation of the understanding. (11:205206)
He expresses puzzlement as to why the understanding, in the generation of numbers, which are a pure act of its spontaneity, is bound by
the synthetic propositions of arithmetic and algebra. In particular, the
form of our sensibility does not prevent us from thinking in numbers
in the way in which the nature of space prevents us from thinking
straight lines that would be equal to certain curved ones. The problem Rehberg raises is, in effect, that of the difference between geometry
as a theory of space, and arithmetic, whose relation to space and time
must on any account be more indirect, a perennial problem for the interpretation of Kants philosophy of arithmetic.46
In reply, Kant seems to concede the existence of a mere concept of
the understanding of a number and that the understanding makes
for itself the concept of arbitrarily (11:209, 208). No synthesis in time
is required for the mere concept of the square root of a positive quantity; even the impossibility of a square root of a negative quantity can
be known from mere concepts of quantity.
As soon as, however, instead of a,47 the number of which it is the
sign is given, in order not merely to designate its root, as in algebra, but to find it, as in arithmetic, the condition of all generation
of numbers, namely time, is unavoidably presupposed. (11:209)
This remark expresses a constant view of Kant, that time is involved
necessarily in mathematical construction, at least ostensive construction.
This holds for geometry as well as arithmetic, as is indicated by remarks
to the effect that thinking of a line involves drawing it in thought
(B154). However, one might find in it the startling view that algebra, and
therefore presumably symbolic construction, is independent of conditions
of time, at least as regards its objects. Could we go on to say that the

Cf. Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic. With respect to the remarks there

(pp.120ff) about Leibnizs proof in the Nouveaux Essais of 2 + 2 = 4, it can now
be observed that similar proofs of 8 + 4 = 12 and 3 8 = 24 are to be found in
Herders notes from Kants lectures on Mathematics, 29:5758. The lectures would
have been in 1762/3, but the notes may be inauthentic or contain later additions by
Herder; see 29:658. [For more on these proofs, see the Postscript to Part I.]
That is, instead of the symbol a.


science of number which in 1788 was said to be a pure intellectual

synthesis is in fact just algebra, where one crosses the line from algebra
to arithmetic and constrains ones objects by the forms of intuition, as
soon as one undertakes to calculate actual values of algebraic expressions for particular given arguments? If so, Kant missed an opportunity
to say so in the letter to Schultz, where in fact there is no word of symbolic construction; instead he says that this pure intellectual synthesis is
one which we represent to ourselves in thoughts.
Further doubt on such an interpretation is cast by one of Kants preliminary sketches for his reply to Rehberg. There he says that although
the objects of arithmetic and algebra are with respect to their possibility not under conditions of time, such conditions do govern
the construction of the concept of quantity in their [the objects]
representation through the synthesis of imagination, namely
composition, without which no object of mathematics can be
So far, the force of Kants remark could be limited to ostensive construction. But he goes on to characterize algebra as
the art of bringing under a rule the generation of an unknown
quantity through numeration (Zhlen), independently of every
actual number, only through the given relations of the quantities.
This quantity to be generated is always a rule of numeration.49
Since they differ in emphasis from the actual letter, these remarks do
not necessarily represent Kants considered position. But it is hard to
imagine his having written them if he had consistently in this period
thought of algebra as containing only purely intellectual concepts.
Kant evidently found suggestive the fact that a geometric construction was needed to give an adequate intuitive representation of an irrational quantity; it fit in neatly with the view of the Refutation of Idealism
that space and time are interconnected in such a way that consciousness
of things in space is necessary for me to locate myself in objective time.
Both Reflection 13 and the last paragraph of Kants letter argue that

Refl. 13 (1790), 14:54.

Ibid., emphasis mine. By Zhlen Kant evidently means something more general
than counting; 2 is called a Zeichen des Zhlens, because the concept it expresses contains a rule for approximating it by rational numbers.




space and time are interconnected in mathematical construction. With

respect to the concept of number, Kant in one text argues that both
space and time are necessary to the determinate representation of a
We cannot represent to ourselves any number other than by successive enumeration in time and then taking together this multiplicity in the unity of a number. This latter, however, cannot occur otherwise than by my putting them next to one another, for
they must be thought as given at the same time, that is, as taken
together into a single representation; otherwise this representation forms no quantity (number).50
That by next to one another he means next to one another in space is
clear from the context.
The conclusion to be drawn from examining these texts, in my
opinion, is that Kant did not reach a stable position on the place of the
concept of number in relation to the categories and the forms of intuition. One could find connections between this difficulty and other
problems in Kants philosophy, for example that concerning the status
of the intellectual representation I think (B423n.). As regards arithmetic, one might take Kants problem to be solved by a modern distinction between, on the one hand, characterizing the natural numbers
as an abstract structure and developing arithmetic as the theory of
what must be true in such a structure and, on the other hand, actually
constructing an instance of the structure (or some initial part of it). The
former would belong to the realm of mere concepts, and neither time
nor anything else Kant would regard as involving intuition would be
part of its content. Time would enter as a condition of construction,
for example, such that models for the numbers can be constructed in it
if any can be constructed at all.51 In its general lines, this seems to me a
defensible position about the relation of the intuitive and the abstract
with respect to arithmetic.52 But there is no neat division of labor, as is

Refl. 6314 (1790). This is one of a group of texts in which Kant returns to the
ideas of the Refutation of Idealism. For a discussion of them in that connection, see
Guyer, Kants Intentions in the Refutation of Idealism.
Cf. Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic, p.140.
Cf. my Mathematical Intuition; also Intuition and the Concept of Number.
[These themes are discussed at much greater length in Mathematical Thought and
Its Objects, especially chapters 3, 5, and 6. In the remark in the text, I must have


shown by the role of calculation in developing the consequences of an

abstract characterization of the structure of numbers.53
More generally, the duality of abstract conceptualization and intuition in mathematical thought is exhibited in the philosophical differences about the foundations of mathematics, with logicism and settheoretic realism emphasizing the former, and the different forms of
constructivism the latter. The fact that these differences persist should
remind us that the task of striking the right balance in describing this
duality has not become an easy one even after the great advances in the
foundations of mathematics since Kants time.54

taken it as obvious that a purely conceptual development of the theory of the numbers as an abstract structure requires a more powerful logic than Kant had at his
disposal. Cf. the closing remarks of Essay 4 of this volume.]
Cf. Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic, pp.138139, and Youngs discussion of
calculation in Kant on the Construction of Arithmetical Concepts, esp. II.
Earlier versions of this essay were presented at the Robert Leet Patterson conference on Kants philosophy of mathematics at Duke University in March 1983 and
at colloquia at Columbia University and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in May 1983 and March 1984 respectively. I am indebted for
their comments to all three audiences. The questioning of Jerrold J. Katz and others
at the Graduate Center concerning the relation of ideas of whole and part to space
and time influenced the final version considerably. I wish to thank Dieter Henrich
for helpful conversation, and I owe a special debt to Carl Posy, without whom the
essay would not have been written.


In attempting to crack the hardest nut in Kants philosophy of science,

his conception of an a priori or pure part of science, Philip Kitcher
shows both courage and an appreciation of what is central to Kants
philosophy.1 The issues that in the Critique of Pure Reason are the
subject of the Transcendental Analytic are discussed in the Prolegomena under the heading How is pure natural science possible? Some
of the most difficult issues faced by interpreters of Kant could thus be
represented as concerning how Kant answers that question. But what
does the question itself mean? What part of natural science is pure?
Pure is clearly closely related to a priori, but are they the same, and
if not, how do they differ? What principles in or about science are a
priori? Writers on Kants philosophy of physics do not agree on such
questions. The issues are not resolved by turning to the Metaphysical
Foundations of Natural Science, a work that raises as many questions
of interpretation as it answers.
The distinction Kant makes in the Introduction to the Critique of
Pure Reason (B3) between a priori and pure knowledge is obviously
relevant to the Metaphysical Foundations, but it turns out to be not
nearly so straightforward as it seems. The idea seems to be that a proposition is pure only if there is nothing empirical in its content, so that a
paradigm example of an impure proposition would be an analytic one
involving empirical concepts, such as Gold is yellow (at least for the
first of the two men referred to at A728/B756). Then one can see how
synthetic a priori propositions that are not pure can arise: a logical
model for the notion would characterize them as propositions that can
be proved by arguments whose premises are either a priori propositions

Kitcher, Kants Philosophy of Science.



involving only pure concepts, or logical truths, or analytic propositions, in which evidently only the third can involve empirical concepts
Pure natural science must on any account involve essentially concepts that are in some sense empirical. About matter, the subject of the
Metaphysical Foundations, Kant could hardly be more explicit. In explaining in the Preface what he means by calling his investigation metaphysical, Kant contrasts the transcendental part of the metaphysics of
nature with metaphysics of nature in a more special sense. His remarks about the latter suggest the model of nonpure a priori knowledge I have just sketched: it occupies itself with the special nature of
this or that kind of things, of which an empirical concept is given in
such a way that, besides what lies in this concept, no other empirical
principle is needed for cognizing the things (4:470). In the next sentence he mentions the empirical concept of matter. Whatever Kant
means by pure natural science, in the case of physical science (which
seems to be the only genuine case), it will be a development of the special metaphysics of physical nature that is the official subject of the
Metaphysical Foundations and is based on the empirical concept of
The sense in which the concept of matter is empirical is controversial, as we will see. Even if we do not disturb the apparent straightforwardness of Kants account, a terminological inconsistency emerges, in
that pure natural science either itself contains or depends on propositions that in the sense of B3 are not pure.2 One might be tempted to
suppose that the distinction Kant makes between transcendental and
special metaphysics of nature turns on the absence in the former and
presence in the latter of empirical concepts. This would seem to contradict B3, where the example proposition, Every alteration has a cause,
is said to be not pure because alteration is a concept that can only be

It is well known that this inconsistency surfaces in the Introduction itself: Kants
example of an impure a priori proposition is Every alteration has a cause. But
that very statement is referred to soon after as a pure a priori proposition (B45).
In replying to a critic who pointed out the inconsistency, Kant says that pure is
ambiguous, and that in B3 it meant with no admixture of anything empirical
and in B5 dependent on nothing empirical (ber den Gebrauch teleologischer
Prinzipien in der Philosophie, 8:183184, my translation). I do not find the second characterization at all clear. At all events Kants emphasis in B45 is on necessity and strict universality.


drawn from experience. This would suggest that containing empirical

concepts essentially is a feature that the propositions of the Metaphysical Foundations share with some of those of the first Critique, presumably at least the Dynamical Principles. Nevertheless, this admission is
certainly not made clearly in the Critique.
One of the merits of Philip Kitchers essay is that he examines how
concepts that are in some way empirical can figure in a priori knowledge. He does not take the empirical/a priori contrast for granted, as
one may be tempted to do with Kant even if one does not in ones own
philosophy. With respect to the propositions of the Metaphysical Foundations, at least those closest to Newtonian laws, Kitcher sees Kant as
taking them to be a priori only in an attenuated sense; they admit of
something like an a priori proof.
It is worth noting that the question whether and in what sense Kant
holds basic Newtonian principles to be a priori has received rather divergent answers in recent commentary. Kitchers reading of Kant is in
fact definitely more aprioristic than that of the two recent writers in
English who have discussed the Metaphysical Foundations most extensively, Gerd Buchdahl and Gordon Brittan (see Kitchers note 21). The
general tendency of German writers seems to be the opposite; they tend
to take Kant at his word and assume that the statement from the Preface quoted above applies at least to the formal content of the Metaphysical Foundations, for example, the Propositions (Lehrstze), which
in the Mechanics include the conservation of matter, the law of inertia,
and the equality of action and reaction.3 Kants explicit statements
about what he is doing certainly favor the German view.
Kitcher offers a systematic reason, which, however, seems to apply
to any principles that contain empirical concepts essentially. A proposition, even if true, does not express knowledge of objects unless the

See also B1718. The German writers I have in mind are Peter Plaass, Kants
Theorie der Naturwissenschaft; Lothar Schfer, Kants Metaphysik der Natur; and
Hansgeorg Hoppe, Kants Theorie der Physik. (I am indebted to Ralf Meerbote for
calling the latter two works to my attention and correcting my all-too-uncritical
reliance on Plaass.) German writers have stressed the connection between the
Metaphysical Foundations and the Opus Postumum; in addition to Hoppe I might
mention the very interesting article by Burkhard Tuschling, Kants Metaphysische
Anfangsgrnde der Naturwissenschaft und das Opus postumum. Tuschling maintains that early in the work reported in the Opus Postumum Kant abandoned some
of the central theses of the Metaphysical Foundations. In preparing this essay, I have
not attempted the enormous task of delving into such matters.


objective reality of the concepts constituting it has been established.

In the case of empirical concepts, this can only be by experience. It follows that any proposition containing empirical concepts essentially
will have an empirical presupposition for its expressing knowledge of
objects. It is chiefly by emphasizing this rather simple point that Kitcher
differs from the more aprioristic commentators. Kitchers notion of
conceptual legitimacy, however, departs consciously from Kants explicit notion of objective reality as possible exemplification in experience, in order to account for the role of idealization in science.
In the case at hand, we must consider what is meant by saying that
the concept of matter is empirical. Kants basic conception of matter is
of the movable in space; because the representation of space is certainly a priori, anything empirical in its content would have to come
from the concept of motion.4 What would be empirical in the content
of this notion is not any more clear, as it seems to involve merely the
notion of an objects changing its location in space, and thus the categories, space, and time. This consideration lends support to the hypothesis of Peter Plaass that in its content the notion of matter is in fact
a priori; experience is needed only to establish its objective reality.5 A
similar hypothesis would deal with the empirical character of the concept of change or alteration (Vernderung), which Kant mentions
among the predicables or pure, but derived concepts of understanding in the Critique (A82/B108).6 Plaasss view seems to me much the
clearest view that has been offered of how the empirical enters into the
formal content of the Metaphysical Foundations.
Plaass apparently holds that the role of experience in establishing
the objective reality of the concept of matter is almost trivial: for, that
a concept has objective reality, can be completely proved by a single
example.7 Kitcher can criticize this view effectively even without appealing to his extension of the notion of objective reality to that of
empirical legitimization. To establish any example of motion, we would
have to make the distinction between real and apparent motion. Even
granted the relativity of this distinction to a frame of reference, it seems
we would need to set up such a frame, thus applying a theory to the

Prolegomena 15, 4:295.

Plaass, Kants Theorie der Naturwissenschaft, chs. 4 and 5.
Ibid., p.84.
Ibid., p.89.



world. Of course, descriptions of motion have implications about acceleration and therefore about the distribution of forces. Thus, even if
the role of the empirical is minimized, as it is on Plaasss hypothesis,
some significant attenuation of the a priori character of fundamental
physics seems unavoidable, along the lines Kitcher suggests.
At this point we might mention Kitchers suggestion that the empirically legitimized concepts that enter into what he calls quasi a
priori knowledge might be concepts we have prior to the construction
of theories, and thusunless one supposes them to be innateconcepts
of a commonsense character. I confess this seems un-Kantian in spirit
and at odds with Kants explanations of the concepts of matter and
motion, which tend rather to connect them with technical notions of his
philosophy. The picture Kitcher suggests is probably an improvement
on Kants, in that one begins theory construction with rough and ready
concepts, which are modified as theory construction proceeds.
Kitchers notion of the quasi a priori has another difficulty, of a
kind faced by many interpretations of the relation of the Critique and
the Metaphysical Foundations. For it is not easy to see how the attenuation of apriority that Kitcher discerns in the latter work is completely
escaped by the Dynamical Principles of the Critique. As we have seen,
Kant holds that the objective reality of the concept of alteration which
occurs in his principle of causality can only be established by experience. Again, it may seem that the empirical element is trivial, in that
virtually any experience will reveal change. But what Kant specifically
means is alteration of the state of a substance; he is actually operating
with a distinction like that between a real and a mere Cambridge
change.8 But then the identification of objective changes is a theoryladen matter; in particular, uniform motion in a straight line is not a
change of the state of the moving body and therefore does not require a
cause, while acceleration is a change of state (A207n/B252n). The consideration involved is quite general: in order to identify objective change,
we must categorize what is given so that the states of the objects that
are said to change are singled out.
At this point one might object that on the basis of a single experience we can be sure that something alters; what is then more theoryladen is the identification of the object that changes, its location in
one substratum rather than another. I am not sure how to spell this out

Ibid., p.97.


in Kantian terms without making the objective reality of the concept of

alteration a priori, because the only presupposition of its objective reality would be that experience really is possible.
If we consider the same question in the more specific case of motion, we encounter new puzzles. In a single experience we can certainly
discern motion, even if latitude is left as to what is said to move and
what is said to be at rest. Kants statement that the fundamental determination of a something that is to be an object of the external senses
must be motion, for thereby only can these senses be affected (4:476)
seems to imply that any experience will contain motion, but Kants
view of the status of this proposition is unclear. Plaass attempts an a
priori proof of the statement just quoted, which he calls a metaphysical deduction of the concept of motion.9 If this proof captures
Kants intention, Kant took it to be a priori true that any outer experience would contain motion, thus placing motion on the same plane
as alteration, except for the qualification outer (which is discussed
Plaasss argument seems to me fallacious. One can perhaps accept
his assertion that an object of the outer senses must contain an objective connection of spatial and temporal determinations and that this
connection is made by the concept of motion; however, he offers no
argument that this role must be played by the concept of motion rather
than some other. Moreover, the question remains whether Kant intended this statement with the generality that Plaass gives it or even as
an a priori truth; one could object with Ralph Walker that the statement only says what must be so for us, because of the way our senseorgans are constituted.10
I do not know whether Plaass or Walker is right concerning Kants
meaning. The dispute reveals an unclarity in Kants statement on the
relation of the Critique and the Metaphysical Foundations, which is in
my opinion bound up with problems of the interpretation of the Critique itself. At the beginning of the Foundations Kant distinguishes the

Ibid., pp.9899.
Walker, Status of Kants Theory of Matter, p.593. Hoppe regards the statement we are considering here as not at all a critical result, but rather a residue of
tradition, not overcome by transcendental philosophy (Kants Theorie der Physik,
p.64, my translation).




transcendental part of the metaphysics of nature, evidently what is

contained in the Analytic of Principles, from metaphysics that occupies itself with the special nature of this or that kind of things (4:470),
which he then identifies as metaphysics of corporeal or thinking nature. The fact that the categories are schematized only in terms of time
is supposed to give the Analytic of Principles an abstract generality
that cuts across distinctions in the sensible world, such as that between
the physical and the mental.
But the matter is in fact not so neat, as Kant admits in the second
edition of the Critique, when he says that outer intuitions are needed
to establish the objective reality of the categories (B291). He goes on
to say: In order to exhibit alteration as the intuition corresponding
to the concept of causality, we must take as our example motion, that
is, alteration in space. . . . The intuition required is the intuition of the
movement of a point in space (B291292). The last remark complicates the issue, because, as Kant makes clear at B155n, this intuition
is not of motion in the physical sense. Although it does indeed give intuitive content to the concept of alteration, it falls short of establishing
its objective reality.
The dispute between Plaass and Walker would arise concerning the
meaning of we must in the passage just cited. Kants appeal to a
purely geometrical notion of movement seems to give some support to
Plaass. At the same time it also seems to be a confusion; clearly only
the real possibility of physical motion would establish in this way the
objective reality of the concept of alteration. Walker is, in my view,
quite convincing in arguing that outer experience as such does not require physical motion.
Before leaving the subject of the sense in which the content of the
Metaphysical Foundations is a priori, we might comment on the notion of a priori knowledge Kitcher uses in his reconstruction. The fact
that the interpretation was originally devised for the purpose of incorporating a notion of a priori knowledge into naturalistic epistemology
makes one suspicious about its application to Kant.11 In fact, Kitcher
seems to understand his notion of a priori procedure in causal terms: An
a priori procedure for a proposition is a type of process such that . . .
if it were followed, would generate knowledge of the proposition

See Kitcher, A Priori Knowledge, p.4.



(italics added).12 Kant himself lays himself open to such a causal interpretation of the a priori in characterizing a priori knowledge as knowledge that is independent of experience (see, for example, B3). Pressing
a causal interpretation would wreak havoc with transcendental philosophy as Kant understands it. I believe that this aspect of Kitchers
understanding of the a priori does little work in his preceding essay.
What matters is the identification of certain key conceptions and modes
of argumentation as a priori.
In finding the argument of the Metaphysical Foundations mainly
unsuccessful, Kitcher is in agreement with many earlier commentators.13 Although I do not intend to challenge this conclusion, I believe
a more positive account of the relation of the Analytic of Principles
and the main parts of the Foundations is possible. I also take issue with
portions of Kitchers diagnosis of the weaknesses of Kants argument.
In any sustained attempt at Kantian reconstruction, there is a risk
that one of the main actors in the drama of Kants philosophy will
be left out. In Kitchers reconstruction I miss the categories. Kitcher
chooses the Dynamics for detailed discussion. Architectonically, the
categories that should be at work there are those of quality. These are
murky notions even in the Critique; it is not too surprising that Kitcher
does not find the connection.14 If we turn to the Mechanics, however,
we find a clear enough connection of the propositions with principles

Cf. Kitcher, How Kant Almost Wrote Two Dogmas of Empiricism, p.218.
Kitcher is more explicitly psychologistic and causal in A Priori Knowledge,
where, however, he is not primarily concerned to interpret Kant. He does refer to
the explication there offered as having Kantian psychologistic underpinnings.
Historically, Kant has been appealed to both for and against psychologism; my
own inclination, in contrast to Kitchers, is toward an antipsychologistic interpretation. In view of the attention Kitcher pays in How Kant Almost Wrote Two
Dogmas to Kants equation of the necessary and the a priori and the difficulties
that gives rise to, I might hazard the conjecture that it is just to escape a psychologistic causal interpretation of the a priori that Kant gives so much emphasis to this
equation. Consider the following passage, which closely anticipates the definition
of a priori truth given by Frege at the beginning of the Grundlagen: If we have a
proposition which in being thought is thought as necessary, it is an a priori judgment; and if, besides, it is not derived from any proposition except one which also
has the validity of a necessary judgment, it is an absolutely a priori judgment (B3).
13 And, if Tuschling is right (see note 3), with Kant himself.
14 A more positive account of this connection is given by Schfer, Kants Metaphysik
der Natur.


for the categories of relation. On the other hand, we find a more fundamental source of weakness in the arguments than a mere architectonic prohibition of the use of mathematics.
The conservation of matter (Proposition 2 of the Mechanics) is obviously an application of the First Analogy, the law of inertia (Proposition 3) of the Second Analogy, and the equality of action and reaction
in the communication of motion (Proposition 4) of the Third Analogy.
The force of application in this context is problematic. In each case,
Kants argument rests on a particular interpretation of a categorial
The key step in Kants proof of the conservation of matter is this
passage: Hence the quantity of the matter according to its substance is
nothing but the multitude of the substances of which it consists. Therefore the quantity of matter cannot be increased or diminished except
by the arising or perishing of new substance of matter (4:542). Kant
has already identified quantity of matter with the number (Menge) of
its movable parts (4:537), and undertaken to motivate this interpretation by appeal to the notion of substance. He emphatically rejects
(4:539540) the notion that matter should have a degree of moving
force with given velocity (that is, momentum) which can be taken as an
intensive quantity. This idea in turn seems to rest on the identification of
matter as substance in space:
But the fact that the moving force which matter possesses in its
proper motion alone manifests its quantity of substance rests on
the concept of substance as the ultimate subject (which is not a
further predicate of another subject) in space; for this reason this
subject can have no other quantity than that of the multitude of
its homogeneous parts, being external to one another. (4:541)
We may see Kant as dealing with the following sort of problem:
How are we to make sense of the notion of substance in spacethat is,
to make judgments involving this category in application to our actual
outer intuitions? The schematization of the category in terms of time
does only part of the work. Even if one takes as inevitable the identification of substance in space (Descartess extended substance) with
matter, it is another step to think of an extended portion of matter as
consisting of parts that are themselves substances. Kant may have had
in mind arguing that they must be substances because they are subjects


of motion; that is, once one has identified extended substance as the
movable in space, it will follow that the subject of motion must be a
substance. But the best result this consideration can accomplish is to
force the question back to one concerning the idea that motion must be
the fundamental determination of something that affects the outer
senses (see above). Indeed, there seems to be a factor in the interpretation of the category of substance in the context of space that is not
deduced from the pure category and the nature of space itself. Where
time instead of space is involved, this is exactly what happens in the
schematism of the categories; Kants argument requires something like a
second schematization of the category in terms of space.
This point is perhaps clearer when we turn to the connection between the Second Analogy and the law of inertia. In Kants proof
(4:543) he simply assumes that motion (in effect, uniform motion in a
straight line) is a state and that therefore only acceleration is an alteration in the sense of a change of state (as he explicitly states in the Critique, A207n/B252n). Without some such assumption there is no way to
advance from the principle of causality to Kants conclusion. Without
an assumption of this general form, we are unable to apply the category of causality to matter and motion.
Commentators often represent Kant as concerned in the Metaphysical Foundations with the mathematizability of phenomena, in other
words, concerned with showing that a mathematical theory of the
physical world can be constructed and elaborating a philosophical account of how this is possible. In so doing, Kant interprets the categories of substance and causality in quantitative and spatial terms. Pure
natural science might develop what Kitcher calls a projected order of
nature in the form of a mathematical model of a world in space and
time conforming to the Kantian categories. On any interpretation,
Kants conception of a scheme of this kind leaves much to experience.
But Kant did not show convincingly that even his basic interpretations
of the categories were not optional.
Here is a brief sketch of a picture of a priori science somewhat different from Kitchers. One might single out certain concepts because
they involve only space, time, very general categories, and fundamental
and abstract notions concerning our cognitive faculties. Obviously, a
theory sketched in terms of such concepts has highly general application
if it even approximates the truth. Indeed, a problem with such a theory
might be finding a handle for empirical verification and falsification.


If the theory has a high degree of intrinsic plausibility, it may resemble

logic and mathematics from an epistemological point of view. If a theory so developed turns out to be false, it may well require some revision in our notions of the relation of our cognitive faculties to the
world. In fact, the revision of classical physics early in this century exhibited this character.



The present essay takes its point of departure from a thought I have
had at various times in thinking about interpretations of Kants philosophy of mathematics in the literature, in particular that offered
by Jaakko Hintikka. That was that if the interpretation is correct,
shouldnt one expect that to show in the way that Kants views were
understood by others in the early period after the publication of the
first Critique? That reflection suggests a research program that might
be of some interest, to investigate how Kants philosophy of mathematics was read in, say, the first generation from 1781. I have not undertaken such a project. However, I will make some comments about two
examples of this kind. In doing so I havent always kept my eye on
Kant, because the figures involved are of interest in their own right.
The first is Johann Schultz (17391805), the disciple of Kant who was
professor of mathematics in Knigsberg. The second is Bernard Bolzano
(17811848), who in an early essay of 1810 offered a highly critical
discussion of Kants theory of construction of concepts in intuition. In
one way, I think the result of this little experiment is negative, in that it
does little toward settling disputed questions about the interpretation
of Kant. On the other hand, I think it brings out some problems of Kants
views that could be seen either at the time he wrote or not long after.
We might recall some of the disagreements in the literature on Kants
philosophy of mathematics. One might see these as arising from challenges to a traditional and natural view, that what is synthetic in mathematical truths is entirely reflected in axioms from which they are derived. In opposition to this tradition, E.W. Beth and Jaakko Hintikka
offered proposals according to which the most essential role of intuition is in certain mathematical inferences, which can now be captured
by first-order quantificational logic. Hintikka offered a controversial


interpretation of the concept of intuition itself. It is characterized by

Kant as a singular representation in immediate relation to its object
(e.g., A320/B376377). The meaning and significance of the immediacy criterion were debated, with the main issue being whether its significance is epistemic and whether it implies some analogy with perception.1 Michael Friedmans work is in the tradition of Beth and
Hintikka, in that he regards intuition (at least in mathematics) as playing mainly a logical role and its role as making possible mathematical
inferences that the logical resources available to Kant could not analyze
and constructions not only witness what we would formulate as existence statements but even give meaning to mathematical statements.2

Let me turn now to Schultz. Schultz is explicit about some mathematical matters about which Kant is not. This has made him of value to
interpreters of Kant, but it has led to disagreement about the extent to
which what he says reflects Kants views or work or is original with
him. The view I defended many years ago is that there is no convincing
reason to believe that the mathematical material that Schultz brings to
bear in defending Kant, where it is not found in Kants writings, is not
original with him.3 On the whole I still uphold this view; see the appendix to this essay. But in any case my present strategy is to treat
Schultz as a figure in his own right and ask how he understood Kant.
Although his Prfung der kantischen Kritik der reinen Vernunft 4 is not

For my own presentation of different views on this issue, see the postscript to my
Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic, pp. 142147. However, my most considered
view is presented in I of The Transcendental Aesthetic (Essay 1 of this volume).
[See also the Postscript to Part I.]
More recent work on Kants philosophy of mathematics has in many ways moved
beyond these issues. However, it is about them that I will interrogate Schultz and
the early Bolzano.
Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic, pp.121123. I was criticizing Gottfried Martins dissertation, subsequently published in expanded form as Arithmetik und
Kombinatorik bei Kant. I cant forbear to comment that chapter 6 of that book
[absent from the dissertation] seems to me to show distinct influence from my essay, although Martin does not cite it. (I had sent him a copy before publication.) It
was added by the translator to the bibliography of the translation.
Much of part II is devoted to replies to articles in Eberhards Magazin; the systematic discussion of the Aesthetic that the reader might expect is not presented.


specifically a work on the philosophy of mathematics, that subject occupies a prominent place in it, no doubt in part because the author was
a mathematician, and in part because it deals almost entirely with the
Introduction and the Aesthetic.5
A natural question to put to Schultz is how he understood the term
Anschauung, what was his conception of intuition. So far as I could
determine, there isnt an explicit discussion of the meaning of this term
in the Prfung. That leaves not as clear as one would wish where he
stands on the singularity and immediacy of intuition. Kants discussion
of mathematical proof brings out the importance of the singularity of
intuitions, and the third argument of the Metaphysical Exposition of
the Concept of Space is generally read as arguing that the original representation of space is singular, although in the characterization of intuition at the beginning of the Aesthetic only the immediacy criterion is
mentioned. The fourth argument seems to be to the effect that the
representation is immediate, but as we have noted the force of this in
Kants philosophy of mathematics has been controversial.
What can be found in Schultz bearing on these questions is disappointing. The most informative passage is probably the following:
If, however, the representation of space is . . . not a product of
any concept, but an immediate representation, that, as e.g. the
representation of color, precedes the concept and must first offer
to the understanding the material for the formation of the concept, then it [the representation of space] is undeniably a sensible
representation, or, as Kant very suitably calls it, an intuitive
representation, [an] intuition. (Prfung, I, 5859)
This passage does not emphasize at all the singularity of intuition and
indeed would by itself be compatible with an understanding of intuition as not essentially singular. Such a reading of Schultz might be encouraged by the fact that he often argues for the necessity of intuition
in geometry by observing that some terms in geometry must be primitive. He is critical of Euclids notorious definitions of basic notions
Translations from this work are my own, although passages from part I devoted to
arithmetic are translated in the translation of Martin.
5 I was struck by the fact that the phrase Philosophie der Mathematik occurs in
the preface to part II (p.v). But it already occurs in the Critique, A730/B758.


like point and remarks that leading mathematical works of his time do
not make any use of them. However, in the passage in which he says
this, he does say of the representation that the geometer has of points,
lines, surfaces, and solids that he has created them from no general
concept, but he rather presupposes them as something immediately
known to him (Prfung, I, 55). Also, he argues that concept formations in geometry presuppose the representation of space, with the latter pretty clearly understood as singular. But immediate for him seems
to have the meaning of something like not derived or given. He
doesnt bring up the contrast between sensible intuition and intellectual intuition. In Kants own writing, one can certainly distinguish a
logical from an epistemic use of immediate, where the former occurs
in the characterization of intuition at A320/B377, where a concept is
said to relate to an object mediately, by means of a mark that several
things can have in common, and the latter is at work, for example,
when Kant describes certain propositions as immediately certain. I
havent located a passage in the Prfung where the logical use is clearly
in play. But that is in the main due to his not articulating the distinction.
There is one passage bearing on the matter in Schultzs earlier Erluterungen ber des Herrn Professor Kant Critik der reinen Vernunft
of 1784. In talking of the contrast of intuitions and concepts at the
beginning of his exposition of the Aesthetic, Schultz says that concepts
are representations that are referred to the object only mediately, by
the aid of other representations (pp.1920 of the 2nd ed.). This last
phrase might have been suggested by A320. But it is not really very
explicit and is less rather than more informative than Kants own characterization in that place. As regards Schultzs view, however, this earlier passage should dispose of the idea that he did not regard intuitions
as essentially singular.6
As was first brought out by Martin, Schultz offers axioms and postulates for arithmetic and uses them in his argument for the claim that
arithmetical judgments are synthetic. Interesting as this is, it was unsatisfying to me in my earlier work because it left Schultz with little to say
about the evident difference from Kants point of view between arithmetic and geometry. Schultz could not have simply missed Kants claim

It seems possible that Schultz at one time attended Kants lectures on logic. But I
do not know of definite evidence on the matter.


that arithmetic has no axioms, since it is repeated in Kants well-known

letter to him of 1788.7 So with regard to the axioms, we have a clear
disagreement. There is at least a difference also about postulates, since
Kant in speaking of postulates of arithmetic does not seem to have in
mind general principles like those stated by Schultz.
In Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic, I wrote:
Kant does not seem to have had an alternative view [to that of
Schultz] of the status of such propositions as the commutative and
associative laws of addition. He can hardly have denied their
truth, and it seems that if they are indemonstrable, they must be
axioms; if they are demonstrable, they must have a proof of which
Kant gives no indication. (1969, p.123)
Some recent writers, beginning with Michael Friedman, have suggested what view Kant might have held about the status of such principles as associativity and commutativity.8 If something along the lines
they propose is correct, then there is a disagreement between Kant and
Schultz, and for reasons I will explain shortly Schultz seems to me to
have on the whole the better case. It is possible that Schultz did not
understand Kants view well enough to see this disagreement clearly.
But very likely Schultz was not inclined to advertise disagreements
with Kant; when he expressed some criticism of the Transcendental
Deduction in an anonymous review in 1785, the episode seems to have
caused severe strain between them.9
The interpretation proposed by Friedman seems to amount to the
claim that for Kant these laws are not propositions at all, so that the
question of their truth should not arise. They are procedural or operational rules. The magnitudes that arithmetic and algebra are ap7

However, in Schultzs exposition of the Axioms of Intuition in Erluterungen, this

claim is not mentioned. In the Prfung, it is possible that Schultz has the passage of
the Axioms of Intuition in mind when he writes, It seems initially as if arithmetic
knew of no axioms (I, 218). He then proceeds to discuss principles that Kant considers analytic.
Friedman, Kant and the Exact Sciences, pp.112114; see also Longuenesse, Kant
and the Capacity to Judge, p. 282. Shabel, Kant on the Symbolic Construction, seems to express such a view with reference to algebra but is silent about
See Beiser, Fate of Reason, pp.206207 and 360n.57, and Kuehn, Kant, p.321.
The review is the one to which Kant responds in the well-known footnote in the
preface to the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (4:474n.).


plied to come from elsewhere, in the first instance from geometry but
not only from geometry. Arithmetic and algebra are quite independent of the specific nature of the objects whose magnitudes are to be
calculated (113). They merely provide operations . . . and concepts . . .
for manipulating any magnitudes there may be (ibid.). This general
character must already be possessed by the singular propositions (such
as 7 + 5 = 12) on which Kant focuses attention, so that it is not itself
sufficient to make what for us would be truth-value-bearing propositions not such for Kant. Evidently the idea is that the associative, commutative, and related laws function as rules of inference. Given that
genuine propositions must occur as premises and conclusions of these
inferences, the question of their soundness can hardly be evaded, at
least once attention is called to them as Schultz did.
In her discussion of algebra, Lisa Shabel seems to attribute to Kant
the view that in the case of the application of algebraic methods to a
geometric problem, it will in the end always be possible to cash in the
result of the algebraic manipulations by a geometric construction. That
would allow algebraic rules to have a nonpropositional character, but
then their soundness would be a problem for particular domains of application. It would be solved for the case of applications to Euclidean
geometry by the well-known constructions of arithmetic operations.
Beyond this geometric setting, how generally was this problem solved
in the eighteenth century?
Schultz distinguishes general from special mathematics; instances
of the latter are concerned with a specific kind of quantum, as is
In contrast, general mathematics abstracts completely from the
different qualities of quanta, so it deals only with quanta as such
and their quantity, and it only examines all the possible ways of
combining the homogeneous, by which the magnitude of a quantum in general is generated and can be determined.10
Schultz then describes addition and subtraction as the two main ways
of generating quantity by combining the homogeneous. Multiplication as iterated addition he seems to regard as derivative, although essential to giving a number as answering the question how many times
(Prfung, I, 214215).

Prfung, I, 212, Wubnigs translation.



Schultzs conception of general mathematics is developed at length

in the first part of his Anfangsgrnde der reinen Mathesis (1790),11
published between the two parts of the Prfung. The subject begins
with the general concept of quantity and the most general combinations of quantities. He writes that things are called different12 insofar
as there is something in the one that is not in the other, and the same13
insofar as they are not different (1).
Things are called homogeneous, insofar as one looks to that in
them that is the same, inhomogeneous [or] heterogeneous insofar as one looks to that in them which is different. (3)14
The determination, how many times something homogeneous with
it must be combined with itself in order to generate [the thing] is
called a quantity [Quantitt]. (4)15
A thing in which quantity [Quantitt] takes place is called a quantity [Quantum]. (5)16
Mathematics is (conventionally) defined as the science of quantity.
Here Schultz uses the term Gre, indicating clearly that both Quantitt and Quantum are meant to be included. The general theory of
quantities (mathesis universalis) investigates the generation of quantities in general (8). The most general types of such generation (Erzeugung) are addition and subtraction. However, about this Schultz writes:
But through this the quantum is not yet determined as a quantum, that is with respect to its quantity (Quantitt), but the latter requires the determination, how many times just the same homogeneous is combined with itself in order to generate the quantum
(4). The determination of the how many times is possible only

Because this work is almost unknown, I have included a fair amount of quotation from it.
Verschieden (diversa).
Einerlei (eadem).
Dinge heien gleichartig, homogen, so fern man auf das sieht, was in ihnen einerley ist; ungleichartig, heterogen, so fern man auf das sieht, was in ihnen verschieden ist.
Die Bestimmung, wie vielmal zur Erzeugung eines Dinges ein ihm gleichartiges
mit sich selbst verknpft werden mu, heit eine Gre oder Quantitt.
Ein Ding, in welchem Quantitt statt findet, heit eine Gre, ein Quantum.
All these quotations are from p.2.


through a number. Therefore all further generations of quantities except general addition and subtraction rest on numbers.
Since, however, every number is again a quantum that is generated from numbers, the general theory of quantities, except for
general addition and subtraction, consists merely in the science
of numbers or arithmetic.17
Schultz assumes something that Kant does not state and conflicts
with the view that arithmetic has no axioms. That is that a science that
deals generally with quantity, applying, as Friedman says, to whatever
quanta there may happen to be, will have general principles statable
as propositions. But one of the principles (his first postulate) is that
quanta can be added:
To transform several given homogeneous quanta through taking
them together successively into a quantum, that is into a whole.18
Since it gives a closure property, this seems to put a constraint on what
quanta there are.19 The same would be said of the second postulate:


Allein hiedurch wird das Quantum noch nicht als Quantum, d.i. in Ansehung
seiner Quantitt bestimmt, sondern diese erfordert die Bestimmung, wie vielmal
eben dasselbe Gleichartige mit sich selbst verknpft werden mu, um das Quantum zu erzeugen (4). Die Bestimmung des Wievielmal aber ist nur durch eine Zahl
mglich. Also beruhen, ausser der allgemeinen Addition und Subtraction, alle brigen Grenerzeugung auf Zahlen. Da aber jede Zahl wieder ein Quantum ist, da
aus Zahlen erzeugt wird, so besteht die allgemeine Grenlehre, ausser der allgemeinen Addition und Subtraction, blo in der Zahlwissenschaft oder Arithmetik
(9, p.3).
Mehrere gegebene gleichartige Quanta durch ihr successives Zusammennehmen
in ein Quantum, d.i. in ein ganzes zu verwandeln (Anfangsgrnde, p.32 7). A different formulation occurs in Prfung, I, 221.
Kant, in his draft of comments on Kstners essays in Eberhards Philosophisches
Magazin, makes a comment that relates to Schultzs first postulate. He says of the
statement that a line can always be extended,
That does not mean what is said of number in arithmetic, that one could increase
it, always and without end, by the appending of other units or numbers (for the
appended numbers and quantities that are thereby expressed are possible by themselves, without its being the case that they may belong to a whole with the previous
ones). (20:420)

Schultz takes this comment into his review almost without change, although it may
appear to conflict with his first postulate. Kants main point, however, is the contrast with geometry: there is no presupposition of something like space within
which a line can be extended. The claim seems to be that the appended numbers


To increase and to decrease every given quantum in thought

without end.20
To increase, and to decrease, any given quantum as much as
one wants, i.e. to infinity.21
For adding small numbers, such as 7 and 5,
I have to imagine the units out of which the number 5 is composed, according to the series individually; then I have to add
one after the other onto the number 7 and so generate the number 12 by means of successive combining. (Prfung, I, 223)22
The postulate seems to allow the mathematician to treat 7 + 5 as defined, but the procedure described (essentially that of Kant, B1516)
reduces the defined character of +5 to that of +1. So it appears
that only that special case of the postulate is used. But so long as one
talks generally of quantities as Schultz does, and does not single out
and deal separately with the natural numbers, the rational numbers,
and the real numbers, one cant derive the generally defined character of addition in this way. Schultz remarks later (Prfung, I, 232)
that a laborious synthetic procedure is needed to see that 7 + 5 = 12.
An interesting feature of Schultzs procedure is that in the Anfangsgrnde he undertakes to treat multiplication as derived. So it is not an
accident that he does not state in either work any axioms concerning
multiplication. His definition seems to presuppose that the second argument is a whole number:
Multliplying a quantum a by any number n means finding a quantum p that is generated from the quantum a in just the manner in
which the number n is generated from the number 1. (p.61)23

are possible independently of belonging to any whole such as space with those to
which they are appended.
Jedes gegebene Quantum in Gedanken ohne Ende zu vermehren und zu vermindern (Anfangsgrnde, p.40).
It seems reasonable to regard Schultzs postulates as prior to his axioms of
arithmetic, but in the Prfung the axioms are stated first. However, the postulates
do come first in the Anfangsgrnde.
Prfung, I, 221. Schultz held this even of infinite quantities (ibid., I, 224).
Schultzs argument that his axioms of commutativity and associativity are needed
to derive 7 + 5 = 12 occurs on pp.219220, just after the statement of the axioms.
Ein Quantum a durch irgend eine Zahl n multiplizieren, heit ein Quantum p finden,
das aus dem Quanto a auf eben die Art erzeugt wird, als die Zahl n aus der Zahl 1.


Schultz has in a rudimentary way the idea of multiplication as iterated

addition. He offers a proof of the distributive law for multiplication
by a number (p. 63) by a step-by-step procedure that, to become a
proper proof by our lights, would have to proceed by induction, and
a similar proof of the commutativity of multiplication of numbers
Friedman states that Kants view is that in arithmetic and algebra
there are no general constructions analogous to the basic Euclidean
constructions (1992, p.109n.24). This would serve to account for a
difference between his remarks in his letter to Schultz and the Prfung:
when he talks of postulates, he clearly has in mind numerical formulae. Something like Schultzs postulates seem to be needed in actual
mathematical practice, as it was before the modern axiomatic treatments of the number systems. And even in those, there is a functional
equivalent in treating certain functions at the outset as defined or in
making explicit existence assumptions. And perhaps the postulates do
amount to general constructions. Kant, as interpreted by Friedman,
still has a point: addition, for example, does not always function in
mathematics as a construction that serves as a building block for
other constructions, although I think it possible that Schultz thought
of it that way in relation to multiplication, without getting far in
thinking through the problems involved. But his own remarks about
7 + 5 = 12 illustrate the fact that sometimes the result of an addition
is the result of a potentially complex procedure, which can be mirrored by a proof.
On this latter point there may be a clear disagreement with Kant,
since in the letter he says that 3 + 4 = 7 is a postulate because it requires neither an instruction for resolution nor a proof (10:556).
Schultz does not say explicitly that a proof is necessary, but he does

What Schultz means by number would be a subject for further discussion.

The evidence known to me is compatible with the suggestion made by W.W. Tait
in the discussion in Chicago that he would not have distinguished whole numbers
from finite sets.
In Parsons, Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic, footnote 9, it is remarked that the
distributive law would be needed to derive formulae involving multiplication such
as 2 3 = 6, and that Schultz does not remark on this. Schultz very probably
thought his understanding of multiplication allowed him to prove the instances of
distributivity that are needed, and indeed such special cases are not affected by his
lack of a clear conception of proof by induction.


seem to say that one is possible, and he uses the example as a reason
for assuming associativity and commutativity as axioms.25 So I dont
think that Schultz rejects the idea of proving such propositions, and he
clearly did not go along with Kants regarding them as postulates.
Schultz clearly saw something that Kant did not acknowledge, that
proofs in arithmetic, and therefore in higher mathematics built on it,
require general principles. Even if the procedural rule interpretation
gives Kant a stronger position than it seems to me it does, one quickly
comes to the proof of general theorems, as Kant hardly denies. Though
mathematical induction had been identified as a distinctive method of
proof a long time before, the whole problem posed by rules of inference in mathematics really only came to consciousness some time later.
On the whole, the Kantian way of thinking was not favorable to this
consciousness-raising. Kant may have seen clearly that the existing
logic was not adequate to mathematical inference. There is in modern
formulations a trade-off between axioms and rules of inference, so that
with at least some principles (most familiarly induction) there is a
choice as to whether to formulate them as axioms or as rules. Arithmetic is a clear case where one cannot just rely on constructions (which
we could formulate as existence axioms) and parametric reasoning
that could be rendered by propositional logic with operations on variables and function symbols. Schultz identified associativity and commutativity as principles that had to be used. Beyond saying (apparently
under Kants prodding) that they are synthetic, he does not offer a


Longuenesse gives a reason why Kant would have rejected the Leibnizian proof,
apparently even as improved by Schultz. I have had some difficulty understanding
her argument. The key statement is probably
Addition does not owe its laws of associativity and commutativity to its temporal
condition, but to the rules proper to the act of generating a homogeneous multiplicity. Thus the proof of Mathematik Herder [Ak. 29, 1:57CP] was both useless
and deceptive, for its validity was derived from the very operation whose validity it
was supposed to ground. (op. cit., p.282)

I dont have an argument to the effect that Kant did not think of the matter in the
way Longuenesse claims. But why should one not try to state the rules she refers to
precisely and derive some from others? Then one can see if the circularity suggested
by the second quoted remark actually obtains. Longuenesse might reply that this
procedure is incompatible with denying that the rules in question express properties of an object rather than pertaining to the very act of generating quantity.
But Kant did apparently think that such acts could be represented symbolically
and enter into reasoning in algebra.


philosophical account of them, and we have mentioned difficulties for

some proposals of a Kantian view of them. Although Schultz was not
as explicit about induction as some other mathematicians of his time
and earlier, he implicitly appeals to it in his treatment of multiplication.
This is a case where granting more to concepts than Kants philosophy
of mathematics provides for is something interpreters might agree

My second example is an early writing by Bernard Bolzano, Beitrge
zu einer begrndeteren Darstellung der Mathematik, published in
1810, only six years after Kants death.26 This essay contains an appendix on Kants conception of construction of concepts in intuition, to
which attention was drawn not long ago by a French writer, the late
Jacques Laz, whose Bolzano critique de Kant comments on it extensively. Bolzano has often been mentioned as a pioneer in a way of
thinking about logic and mathematics that in the long run undermined
many aspects of a Kantian view. What is of interest to us, however, is
his understanding of Kant at a time that was still historically close to
that of Kant.
Early in the main text of the Beitrge (I 6, p.9), Bolzano expresses
the view that there is an internal contradiction in the concept of pure
or a priori intuition. The argument must be contained in the early sections of the appendix. In 1 Bolzano writes that Kant posed the
question: What is the ground that determines our understanding to
attach to a subject a predicate that is not contained in the concept of
the subject?
And he believed he had found that this ground could be nothing
other than an intuition, which we connect with the concept of
the subject, and which at the same time contains the predicate.
What he says about Kants concept of intuition is brief; he describes it
as representation of an individual. In 4, speaking for himself, he describes intuition as the representation occupying the place of X in judgments of the form I perceive X, where clearly there is no room for a
priori intuition. Evidently the object of a perception is a representation;

Translations of quotations from this work are my own.



it does not have to be sensible.27 But it does seem to be a representation

as a particular event, so that I perceive X is unavoidably empirical.
An implication of this formulation is that an intuition can be a constituent of a judgment, contrary to Kants stated view.28 Its not very
clear how Bolzano thinks intuition is meant to be related to perception
on Kants conception.
About a priori intuition he writes in 2:
If we finally ask what an a priori intuition should be, I think
that here no other answer is possible than: an intuition that is
connected with the consciousness that it must be so and not
Only thus can intuition give rise to the necessity of the judgment based
on it. On balance I am inclined to think Bolzano understands Kantian
intuition generally on a perceptual model. Why else should he think
that for intuition to be the basis of a judgment of necessity, the intuition itself should contain consciousness of necessity?
Even with the help of Lazs commentary, I am not able to see clearly
what Bolzanos argument against a priori intuition is. He complains
that Kant has not given a clear definition even of the a prioriempirical
distinction, and rightly observes that necessity is properly a property of
judgments. Since an intuition is not a judgment, it cannot be necessary.
But Bolzanos own account surely doesnt imply that an intuition does
not have content that would have to be spelled out in propositional
Bolzano turns more directly to the role of pure intuition in mathematics beginning in 7. He attributes to Kant the following reasoning:
If I connect the general concept, e.g. of a point, or of a direction
or distance, with an intuition, i.e. represent to myself a single
point, a single direction or distance, then I find of these individual objects, that this or that predicate applies to them, and feel at
the same time, that this is equally the case for all objects that fall
under these concepts.

See the main text, II 15, p.76. Bolzano in this text holds a theory of perception
according to which the existence of an outer object has to be inferred from my
representations, just the theory that Kant opposes in the Refutation of Idealism.
Laz appears to attribute this view to Bolzanos interpretation of Kant; see op.
cit., p.74.


How, asks Bolzano, can we come to this feeling? Is it through what

is single and individual, or through what is general? Obviously through
the latter, that is, through the concept and not through the intuition.
A Kantian reply might have been to refuse this dichotomy, or at
least its being applied in the way Bolzano applies it. Construction of
concepts in intuition as Kant conceives it has to introduce representations that have the form of singular representations but are nevertheless in a certain way general, in that they represent the concepts that
are thus constructed. Its not easy to imagine how Bolzano might have
reacted to the logical interpretation of Kantian intuition introduced by
Beth and Hintikka and exploited by Friedman. But if he had had that
in view in 1810, its hard to believe he would have reacted as he did to
the idea of a priori intuition.
Another way of putting the matter29 is that Bolzanos reading does
not make any room for a transcendental synthesis of imagination,
which would be a priori but also unify the manifold with some sort of
aim toward conformity to concepts. The synthesis of imagination is
described as an action of the understanding on sensibility (B152). The
result is that intuition as experienced has a content that is amenable to
conceptualization, and insofar as the synthesis is a priori, by a priori
concepts. In the footnote to B160 Kant writes that the unity of the
manifold of space and time precedes any concept although it makes
concepts of space and time possible. Bolzano may well have found remarks of this kind puzzling and thought that no sense could be given
to them that would be consistent with the understanding of an intuition as a representation of an individual.
In I 6 of the main text Bolzano mentions another disagreement
with Kant; he denies that the concept of number must necessarily be
constructed in time and that accordingly the intuition of time belongs
essentially to arithmetic (p.9). His discussion of this issue in 8 of the
Appendix has a clear relation to Schultzs defense of Kants philosophy
of arithmetic. It is reasonable to conjecture that Bolzano knew Schultzs Prfung.30 Bolzano discusses Kants example, 7 + 5 = 12. Simplifying the case to 7 + 2 = 9, he sketches a proof on the Leibnizian model.

Suggested by some comments of Laz, op. cit., p.75.

The Anfangsgrnde der reinen Mathesis is cited in the main text (I 5, p.9). But
the detail of the discussion of 7 + 5 = 12 is not in that work. Bolzano certainly
knew the Prfung later; it is discussed in Wissenschaftslehre 79 and 305.




But he makes clear that the associative law of addition is presupposed

in the proof,31 which he glosses thus:
that one in the case of an arithmetical sum attends only to the
collection of the terms, not to the order (a concept certainly
wider than sequence in time). This proposition excludes the concept of time rather than presupposing it.
Bolzano is not concerned with the question whether the associative
law or 7 + 5 = 12 is synthetic, but rather with whether it depends on
intuition. Kant, in the Introduction to the second edition of the Critique, is naturally read as deriving the former from the latter. Bolzano
is an opponent of a priori intuition but not of the synthetic a priori,
so that for him it is at least a possibility that arithmetical judgments should be synthetic a priori judgments of a purely conceptual
It is not easy to say where the disagreement with Kant (or for that
matter Schultz) lies here, although undoubtedly there is one. Bolzano
could be saying no more than that in the content of a statement like
7 + 5 = 12 there is no reference to time, something with which Kant
apparently agrees. But he evidently thinks it possible to reason mathematically with more general concepts such as that of order, without
representing them by succession in time. That something like that is his
quarrel with Kant and Schultz is indicated by the general remarks
about mathematics in the main text, where he characterizes mathematics as the science dealing with the general laws (forms) that things
must conform to in their being (Dasein) (I 8, p.11). But he glosses the
latter by saying that mathematics does not give proofs of existence by
concerns only conditions of the possibility of things. This is where he
draws a contrast between mathematics and metaphysics. He is (and

Bolzanos simplification means that he does not reach the point at which Schultz
had to appeal to commutativity, and therefore we do not see whether Bolzano
knew how to avoid that assumption.
Later, in Wissenschaftslehre 305, Bolzano does argue that 7 + 5 = 12 is analytic. He relies on an explanation of a sum as a totality . . . in the case of which no
order of the parts is considered and parts of parts are regarded as parts of the
whole. He says explicitly that associativity is analytic; evidently he would have
said the same about commutativity. His argument could be criticized on grounds
like those on which, according to Laywine, Kant and Lambert, Lambert criticized Wolff: associativity and commutativity are in effect packed into the definition
of addition.


remained) critical of Kants claim that the methods of mathematics and

philosophy are essentially different.33
The difficulty I had in understanding Bolzanos quarrel with Kant
over this issue arose from the fact that Bolzanos remark doesnt clearly
say more than that the concept of the associative law doesnt directly
involve time, and this seems to be something Kant agrees with. One
might infer, though, that Bolzano thought that if we have to represent
the succession of numbers by succession in time, that is just a subjective
condition of our consciousness of the relations of numbers, and would
not detract from the purely conceptual character of arithmetic even if it
were shown that time is an intuition, which would anyway be hardly
compatible with Bolzanos own conception of intuition as expressed in 4.
Some of Kants own statements encourage the idea that time is only a
subjective condition, for example that of the Schematism that number is
the unity of the synthesis of the manifold of a homogeneous intuition in
general in that I generate time itself in the apprehension of the intuition (A143/B182). Why, Bolzano might well ask, is a condition of the
apprehension of the intuition part of the characterization of the relation
of number to the category of quantity? One might ask this question even
if one accepts the transcendental point of view that pervades Kants
whole discussion of magnitude and quantity. Bolzano was even in this
early work out of sympathy with that point of view.
A way in which we might try to understand Bolzanos claims in
both of these arguments is that he is insisting on a rigorous distinction
between a representation and what it is a representation of. Although
almost none of that apparatus is present in the Beitrge, the logical
platonism of Bolzanos later period made it possible for him to make
such distinctions across the board. Does the notion of a priori intuition
involve compromising that distinction? If an intuition is a representation of an individual, one might ask, how can it still carry with it the
fact that it reflects the construction of certain concepts? What an intuition does contain, according to Bolzano, is the consciousness that it
must be so and not otherwise. What he rejects is something more specific than the very idea that an intuition might convey information
about its object. Presumably if it conveys the information that its object

Although this matter is hardly at issue in the present essay, see Laywine, Kant and
Lambert, for Lamberts disagreement with Kants view, and Beiser, Mathematical
Method, for an interesting history of Kants thesis in post-Kantian idealism.


a is F, it will also convey the information that it is G, if G is a concept

that is contained in F. But according to Kant, conditions of the construction of concepts lead to conclusions that are not contained in them.
Although Bolzano does not really articulate an objection on these lines
in the Beitrge, he may have thought that that feature of pure intuition
was incompatible with a clear distinction between a representation and
what it represents.
Bolzanos mathematical work might suggest a way in which, if Kant
introduced a priori intuition in order to compensate for the expressive
limitations of monadic logic, this was not fruitful for the further development of mathematics and its foundations. It is doubtful that the free
variable languages that have been suggested to represent Kants conception of mathematics were adequate to the mathematics of Kants own
day. Mathematicians beginning with Cauchy and Bolzano did not wait
for logicians to develop a polyadic logic in order to exploit the capacity
of ordinary language to express such notions.34 Rather, they set up definitions in those terms and reasoned with them as best they could. Bolzano already offered a splendid example in his Rein analytischer Beweis
of 1817. The development of polyadic logic followed the development of
a mathematics in which the reasoning with quantifiers was more complex; it did not precede it. Bolzanos faith that mere concepts were
adequate to the task of proving fundamental propositions of analysis
and placing them in their proper order was in the end vindicated.
The relevance of the limitation of monadic logic to the philosophy
of mathematics in Kants time has been a matter of controversy, and
our discussion of Schultz and the early Bolzano will hardly bring that
controversy to an end. Friedmans thesis that insight into this was the
primary reason why Kant insisted that mathematics required intuition
does not, it seems to me, get as much indirect support from Schultzs
writings as he might hope for. One controversy about Kants philosophy of mathematics was whether intuition plays a necessary role in
mathematical inference and not merely at the stage of axioms and postulates. I regard that controversy as largely settled in Friedmans favor,


This point is well made, with earlier examples than those I mention, in Rusnock,
Was Kants Philosophy of Mathematics Right for Its Time?, pp.433435. Regarding the main argument of Rusnocks paper directed against Friedman, it
should be said that it concerns Friedmans assessment of Kants philosophy of
mathematics given his interpretation, not the interpretation itself.


but Schultz says so little about inference in mathematics in his writings

that they hardly strengthen the case. The text of Bolzano that we have
discussed does not directly address this issue, but his rejection of a
priori intuition was of a piece with the procedure noted above in his
mathematical work, to go ahead with the kind of reasoning whose
analysis in the end required polyadic logic, possibly trusting that in the
end logic would catch up.

The investigation made here of Johann Schultzs work and views offers
an occasion to reconsider a question originally raised by Martin, what
the revision might have been that Schultz made in part I of the Prfung
after receiving Kants letter of November 25, 1788 commenting on his
draft and then discussing it with him. It is clear that the draft maintained that such arithmetic statements as 7 + 5 = 12 are analytic and
thus that Kant succeeded in convincing Schultz on this point. Martin
makes the further claim that the mathematical material relevant to this
issue, the axioms and postulates stated in the published Prfung, were
not in the draft and were either contributed by Kant or worked out in
discussion between Kant and Schultz.35 As noted above, I questioned
this claim in Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic, pp.121123. My view
was and is that Schultz could well have argued that the axioms are analytic, as Leibniz did in the case of commutativity.36 It also seems a priori
unlikely that Kant would have proposed axioms that would contradict
his own thesis (reaffirmed in the letter) that arithmetic has no axioms.
Concerning the postulates, matters are somewhat more complicated. The idea that arithmetic might have postulates of the sort that
Schultz states was not original with either Kant or Schultz, since similar principles are regarded as such in Lamberts Anlage zur Architectonic (1771, 76).37 It could also have been more difficult for Schultz
to admit postulates, in formulation somewhat modeled on Euclids,

Martin, Arithmetik und Kombinatorik, p.65. Martin makes the further claim
that in the latter case the axioms should be credited to Kant since he would
doubtless have had the leadership in these discussions. That this would be so
about a mathematical matter is surely far from evident, particularly since in proposing his axioms Schultz contradicts Kants claim that arithmetic has no axioms.
See Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic, p.123n.13.
See Laywine, Kant and Lambert, to which I am indebted on this point.


and still argue that they are analytic. Therefore the conjecture that they
were already in the manuscript on which Kant was commenting on is
less likely. Kant certainly knew Lamberts book, and one possibility is
that he pointed out its relevance to Schultz. But it is also possible that
Schultz was directly influenced by Lambert, who introduces his postulates without invoking an analytic-synthetic distinction.38
Evidently we do not have firm evidence concerning either the axioms or the postulates.39 The view that both were added at the last
minute does not square well with Schultzs remark at the beginning of
the preface to the Anfangsgrnde that the book is the work of a laborious reflection of many years.
Why should one revisit this question, when it apparently cannot be
resolved definitively? One reason would be Martins broader thesis, that
books by disciples of Kant presented arithmetic axiomatically, and that
this had an influence on subsequent developments leading in the end to
the late nineteenth-century axiomatization of arithmetic. This thesis
and the work beyond Schultzs that he cites would be worth further examination. Schultzs disagreement with Kant about whether arithmetic
has axioms is a reason independent of the above discussion for giving
Schultz a more autonomous role in this development than Martin credits him with. Martin himself cites another indication of this: In 1791
Kants pupil J.S. Beck defended as one of the theses for his habilitation,
It can be doubted whether arithmetic has axioms.40 Even if Becks intention was to defend Kants position, the formulation leads Martin to
conclude that this was a matter of dispute in the Kantian school.
Martin makes another interesting observation about Schultz, which
is apart from the main concerns of this essay but which connects him
with Bolzano. He says that Schultz was quite clear on the point that
arithmetic, in particular of irrational numbers, and infinitesimal calcu38

Martin points out that postulates of arithmetic also occur in the earlier Neues
Organon (1764); see the quotations in Arithmetik und Kombinatorik, p.52, from
Alethiologie 26 and 74.
Batrice Longuenesse seems confused on this matter, surprising in so careful a
scholar. She writes (Kant and the Capacity to Judge, p.280) that Martin had seen
the manuscript on which Kant comments in his letter, a claim for which I can find
no warrant in Martins text. Although she cites my criticism of Martin, she adopts
without comment a claim that I questioned, that the mathematical material in the
Prfung was not present in the earlier draft.
Martin, Arithmetik und Kombinatorik, p.65.


lus should be cut loose from all geometric accessories (1972, p.111).41
He is relying on the fact that Schultz puts these subjects in general
mathematics and explicitly says that its proofs should be conducted
independently of geometry (Anfangsgrnde 21, pp.1011). This aspiration may give Schultz some historical importance. It may be a reason
why Bolzano in citing this work says of Schultz that he deserves much
credit for the foundation of pure mathematics.42


Martin attempts to trace this attitude of Schultz back to Kant as well. He does
not mention the letter to A. W. Rehberg of September 1790, which is at least a
problematic text for this view.
I 5, Russs translation.
A rough version of this essay was presented to the conference on Kants
Philosophy of Mathematics and Science at the University of Illinois, Chicago, on
April 28, 2001. I am greatly indebted to Daniel Sutherland and Michael Friedman
for their organization of this stimulating event and to them, Lisa Shabel, W.W. Tait,
and others for their comments. I dont claim to have done justice to the points
raised. Shabel in particular convinced me of the relevance of Schultzs mathematical
works, although I have been able to consult only the Anfangsgrnde (1790), which
I consider the most relevant to my theme. I am also much indebted to the editors
for suggestions.


Arithmetic and the Categories (Essay 2) was written just as a period

of impressive growth in the study of Kants philosophy of mathematics
was beginning. This beginning is marked by the early writings on the
subject of Michael Friedman.1 He has continued to contribute up to
the present day. One of his major contributions was to integrate the
study of Kant on mathematics with that of his philosophy of physical
science. His writings also stimulated work by a younger generation of
scholars.2 Some reaction to this body of work is called for in the present
reprinting. I will concentrate, however, on points in it that bear on what
is said in these essays. However, I will not be able totally to avoid going
back to Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic.
Two older issues are addressed in these essays: Kants conception of
intuition and the place, or lack of it, of a notion of mathematical object
in Kants scheme. I will discuss intuition at some length and make some
briefer remarks later about mathematical objects.
Kant in well-known passages characterizes an intuition as a singular representation, and as a representation in immediate relation to its
object. In Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic, I viewed these as distinct
and essentially independent criteria. The latter claim was opposed to
that of Jaakko Hintikka that the immediacy criterion is simply a corollary of the singularity criterion. There has to be some interdependence

Friedman, Kants Theory of Geometry and Kant on Concepts and Intuitions.

I should mention Emily Carson, Katherine Dunlop, Ofra Rechter, Lisa Shabel,
Daniel Sutherland, and Daniel Warren, although Warrens work primarily concerns physical science.
Since Essay 3, my only publication on Kants philosophy of science, is a short
occasional piece, the present Postscript addresses issues only from the other three
essays reprinted here.



between them, since otherwise it would be possible to point to representations that, according to Kant, satisfy one criterion but not the
other. What proved to be more controversial was the claim that immediate relation to objects means that the object of an intuition is in
some way directly present to the mind, as in perception.3 The question
of what the immediacy of intuitions consists in is revisited in the Postscript to that essay, in the discussion of a view of Robert Howell.4 Although I wrote there that the controversy had convinced me that my
interpretation of the immediacy criterion was not so evident as I had
thought, I did not make as clear as it should be where I then stood.
The discussion of intuition in Essay 1 of this volume expresses a
position that I still largely hold. It is admitted there that in the definition as expressed at A320/B377 immediate means not mediate,
that is, not by means of marks that several objects can have in common.
That may be the most basic meaning of the immediacy criterion. However, neither I nor the others who had written on the subject up to that
time admitted the possibility of marks that are not possibly common to
several objects. That Kant admitted such marks was documented later
by Houston Smit.5 But even with this correction, if that is all that Kant
means by immediate, it is hard to understand some aspects of Kants
basic logical expositions, for example the remarks about the necessary
connection of concepts and judgment in the section on the logical use
of the understanding (A6769/B9294). I believe it is such considerations that lead Batrice Longuenesse to write: Kants characterization of intuition as immediate representation essentially means, I
think, that intuition does not require the mediation of another representation in order to relate to an object.6 Although this may be suggested by the characterization of immediacy at A320/B377, it does not
seem to me to be directly implied by it.7

Ibid., p.112. Graciela De Pierris (Review of Guyer, p.655) quotes a remark to the
same effect from The Transcendental Aesthetic (p. 10) without noting that it is
there described as an earlier proposal of mine. Friedman quotes the same remark
(Geometry, Construction, and Intuition, p.169) but notes in a footnote that it refers back to Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic. The changes in my views reflected in
the later essay are not especially important for the comments they wish to make.
Ibid., pp.144145.
Kant on Marks and the Immediacy of Intuition.
Kant and the Capacity to Judge, p.220n.15.
Other writers have expressed still different ideas of what immediacy amounts to.
For example, Lorne Falkenstein seems to understand immediate as something


It will be argued that these considerations remain in the logical

sphere and do not yet imply that there is anything in Kants conception
of intuition that would indicate that, in particular, the role of intuition
in mathematics is not adequately explained by considerations that by
our own lights belong to logic. I do not have any substantial additions
to make to the considerations offered in previous writings in favor of
the view that phenomenological presence is a significant part of what the
immediacy of intuition amounts to. It would be hard to deny this in the
case of empirical intuition, so that any real dispute concerns pure intuition. Here I refer the reader in particular to the discussion in Essay 1 of
the third and fourth arguments in the Metaphysical Exposition of the
Concept of Space.
More important in the present context than these questions about
the concept of intuition itself are questions about its role in mathematics. Essay 1 is somewhat brief in its treatment of issues about Kants
philosophy of mathematics, but what is said there in connection with
the Transcendental Exposition of the Concept of Space implies that
more than one role for intuition emerges from Kants remarks about
mathematical proof, particularly in the Discipline of Pure Reason in
Dogmatic Use. Additional roles have been proposed by more recent
writers (see below). There has been a long-running disagreement about
the question whether, according to Kant, intuition must be appealed to
in mathematical inferences or only in setting up the initial premises,
in particular axioms. The former view was proposed a century ago by
Bertrand Russell and has been developed by E.W. Beth, Jaakko Hintikka, and Michael Friedman. The latter view has been defended in our
own time by Lewis White Beck and Gordon Brittan. The clearest texts
supporting the former view directly concern geometry, as for example
the discussion of geometric proofs in the Discipline, especially A713/
B741. However, my own writing on Kants philosophy of mathematics
has not focused on geometry, although it naturally plays the role of an
object of comparison with arithmetic. In Kants Philosophy of Arithmetic I did not question the Beck-Brittan view with respect to geometry, because it seemed to me to give an adequate account of why geometry should be synthetic and dependent on intuition; the problem
like prior to any processing of information by the subject; see Kants Intuitionism, p.60. He regards the immediacy criterion as the most basic meaning of intuition in Kants usage.


why those things should be true of arithmetic was the starting point of
the essay.
The brief discussion of geometry in III of Essay 1 in this volume
does not take a position in this controversy, but what is said is compatible with the Russell-Friedman view, and in Essay 4 I say that the controversy is largely settled in its favor. The acceptance of the view that
intuition plays an essential role in mathematical inference still leaves
the question of its role in grounding the initial steps in mathematical
proofs, in geometry construction postulates, axioms, and definitions.
Furthermore, although influential advocates of the Russell-Friedman
view have also held a purely logical interpretation of Kants concept of
intuition, that interpretation is not essential to the claim that intuition
plays an essential role in inferences.
Friedmans later writings on this subject deal almost entirely with
geometry. He has come to agree that intuition in mathematics does have
a phenomenological dimension,8 and since he has in no way given up
the view that the role of intuition extends to inferences, it follows that
he agrees that this issue is to some degree independent of the one concerning the nature of intuition. It should be added that there was never
a dispute as to whether intuition has a logical dimension, which the
singularity criterion ensures.
It is somewhat difficult to locate what disagreement there may be
between the views expressed in Essay 1 and those in Friedmans later
writings. Friedman undoubtedly gives a larger role to considerations
from geometry, but there would be no disagreement with the claim
that, in the Aesthetic, it is not only in the Transcendental Expositions
that Kant relies on geometry. Broadly speaking, my treatment of the
Metaphysical Exposition of the Concept of Space has phenomenological considerations standing more on their own feet than they do in
Friedmans account. But although geometry is not as much present as it
is in Friedmans reading, it is not completely absent either. I will consider only one case, the claim in the fourth argument that Space is
represented as an infinite given magnitude (B40) and that in the third
argument that the representation of a single space is prior to that of
spaces. Appealing to a passage in the Dissertation, I wrote, There is a
phenomenological fact to which he is appealing: places, and thereby

Synthetic History Reconsidered, pp.586, 592; see also his Geometry, Construction, and Intuition.


objects in space, are given in a one space, therefore with a horizon of

surrounding space (p.19). That is the sense in which I take Kant to be
entitled to describe space as boundless, but I explicitly say that it
does not yield the metrical infinity of space and I do not suggest that one
could obtain that independently of geometry. In my systematic writings,
I describe phenomenological considerations like those just mentioned as
a step toward infinity and do not see them as in any way getting one
all the way.9
Friedman evidently also maintains that there is an appeal to geometry in Kants remark in the fourth argument that
no concept, as such, can be thought as if it contained an infinite
set of different possible representations within itself. Nevertheless, space is so thought (for all the parts of space, even to infinity, are simultaneous). (B40)
In this he may be right, and it would be a weak defense to say that I did
not assert the contrary, since I did not discuss this specific passage.
What I do say about the parallel passage at A25 (Essay 1, pp.1617) is
not very clear and does not make clearly a distinction that I do rely on
in systematic writings. The idea that a further horizon is always there
might be called weak boundlessness; it always invites a further step in
such operations as extending a line segment. But it is another claim to
say that such steps can be iterated indefinitely. Thus one exhibits the
lack of a bound on distances in Euclidean geometry by indefinite iteration of the operation of laying out, on a given line, a segment equal to
one chosen at the outset.10 How explicit a conception Kant had of indefinite iteration is not clear to me, but he does appear to have been
explicit about some particular cases such as the one just mentioned,
which model the idea of successive addition. I think that is more fundamental than the metrical considerations that might single out Euclidean space in particular.11 However, I think Friedman is right that at

See especially Mathematical Thought and Its Objects, 29.

It appears that this is still meaningful in hyperbolic geometry, but in elliptic geometry there is a bound on distances.
11 Sutherland argues, in correspondence, that one can give phenomenological sense
to some rudimentary metrical considerations and that they may have played a role
in Kants thinking. I have no reason to dispute this. However, I dont think such
considerations can yield infinity without the iteration emphasized in the text.



points where an argument requires appeal to it, Kant is at least implicitly relying on mathematics.
The matter is complicated by the fact, brought out by Emily Carson, that Kant maintains that geometry must presuppose a given space
that is infinite, within which the spaces generated by geometrical construction proceed.12 So it appears to be Kants view that the infinity of
space is prior to geometry. I think the texts Carson cites show that the
infinity of space does have a certain priority. Evidently the geometer
must have this representation, if it is presupposed in geometric practice. Kants language indicates that he thinks that the geometer will be
conscious of it.13 One thing Friedman was concerned to deny is that we
have a full insight into the infinity of space independent of geometry. It
is not clear that this follows from these texts, since Kants argument for
the claim that such a space must be presupposed in the practice of
geometry itself relies on descriptions of geometric procedure. Consider
the following passage quoted by Carson:
To say, however, that a straight line can be continued indefinitely
means that the space in which I describe the line is greater than
any line which I might describe in it. Thus the geometer grounds
the possibility of his task of increasing a space (of which there
are many) to infinity on the original representation of a single,
infinite, subjectively given space.14
One might take the statement that the geometer grounds the possibility of indefinite continuation of a line on the original representation of
an infinite space as meaning that the geometer has to appeal to something about that representation in justifying his own claims. But in general Kant takes geometry to be able to proceed without buttressing from
philosophy. It seems more likely that Kant means that the ground of the
possibility of continually increasing a space is the single, infinite, subjectively given space, but that this is revealed by philosophical reflection

Kant on Intuition in Geometry, esp. pp.496499.

E.g., 20:419, from Kants partial draft of a review by Johann Schultz of volume
2 of Eberhards Philosophisches Magazin; cf. note 19 of Essay 4.
14 20:420. I have modified Carsons translation. It is worth noting that if increasing a space to infinity has a metrical meaning then it would refer to something
like indefinitely iterating the operation of laying a new segment of a line equal to
the previous one.



without being something that the geometer appeals to in his own

To return to the fourth argument in the Metaphysical Exposition:
Its opening sentence does not directly appeal to geometry, and I am less
certain than Friedman is that he was implicitly making such an appeal
in that place. However, when one spells the case out in the light of later
writings, some appeal to geometry seems unavoidable.
In all his writings on the subject, Friedman seems to want to bypass
the role of intuition as a source of insight into the truth of mathematical or other propositions. In the case of geometry, such insight would
operate in the practice of geometry; it would not offer justification
prior to and independent of geometry, of the sort that Friedman is most
concerned to deny. The idea of intuitive insight into truths such as
mathematical axioms, and likewise into the correctness of inferences in
mathematics, is very traditional. It seems to me that that is what Kant
has in view in statements such as that geometrical knowledge is immediately evident (A87/B120) or that axioms are synthetic a priori
principles that are immediately certain (A732/B760).
The role of intuition in the representation of magnitudes has been
explored in depth by Daniel Sutherland.16 Kant characterizes the concept of magnitude as the consciousness of the homogeneous manifold
in intuition in general, so far as through it the representation of an object first becomes possible (B203).17 Note that it is said to be the consciousness of the homogeneous manifold in intuition; magnitude is tied
to intuition, and intuition is essential to the representation of magnitudes. In a sense this is the most general role of intuition in mathematics, since Kant agrees with the common view of the time that mathematics deals with quantities, although he says that this is a consequence
of the fact that only quantities can be constructed (A714/B742). A
point that Sutherland has stressed is that this fact about magnitudes

One might add, as Katherine Dunlop suggests, that the metaphysician undertakes to show how we can have the representation of an infinite space, a task that
is foreign to the geometer.
See first of all The Role of Magnitude in Kants Critical Philosophy.
On the translation of this passage, see Sutherland, Role of Magnitude,
p.418n.12. Kant makes clear that this is the definition of magnitude in the sense of
quantum, not quantitas. Sutherland also notes that Kant speaks of intuition in
general, so that at the level of explaining the notion of magnitude he is not assuming our particular forms of intuition.


means that intuition can make distinctions that cannot be made by

mere concepts.18
Up to now we have made no comments about matters specific to
arithmetic, although that is the subject of Essays 2 and 4. In the more
than twenty-five years since the publication of the earlier of these essays, the subject has been transformed, largely by closer attention to
the background of Kants thought in the mathematics of his own and
earlier times and by the analysis referred to above of his conception of
magnitude. Those considerations would have some impact on what is
said in my essay, but for the most part it would be more in the details
(for example concerning the concept of homogeneity) than in the general line of my discussion. Some matters deserve comment, however.
First, some writers beginning with Friedman regard mathematical
objects as having no place in Kants scheme, while the general tenor
of I of Essay 2 is to explore various views that might be compatible
with what Kant says while finding Kant not very articulate or definite
on the matter.
Kant makes clear that geometry concerns quanta and certainly talks
of them as objects. They may be defective objects, as suggested by the
remark that although we can give the concept of a triangle an object
apriori, it is only the form of an object (A223/B271). A suggestion I
have considered is that such objects come under the categories of
quantity but not under those of quality and relation (and probably not
under those of modality, at least as explicated in the Postulates), but I
do not know of direct textual support for it.19
The more difficult questions concern arithmetic and algebra. Friedman maintained that they do not have distinctive objects. He proposed
that the theory of magnitudes, which includes algebra and arithmetic,
gets its objects from outside the theory, so that any general rules involved
will govern operations . . . for manipulating any magnitudes there may
be.20 Lisa Shabels account of symbolic construction in algebra and its
background in eighteenth-century mathematics builds on this idea. It

See Sutherland, Kants Philosophy of Mathematics, also his Kant on Arithmetic, Algebra, and the Theory of Proportions, pp. 555557, and, with respect
toFreges criticism of the units view of number, his Arithmetic from Kant to
The idea is explored with respect to arithmetic in Rechter, Syntheticity, Intuition, and Symbolic Construction, pp.185192.
Kant and the Exact Sciences, pp.113114.


implies that any objects for algebra would have to arise in applications,
such as in geometry.21 The methods of algebra are on her view essentially
tools for solving problems; in principle the problems can arise in any domain of magnitudes, but in practice the primary domains are those of
arithmetic and geometry. In her paradigm examples, the final stage of the
solution is a geometric construction. As noted in Essay 4, she is largely
silent about arithmetic.
A question that Shabels view raises is whether Kant is entitled
to say that algebra contains synthetic a priori judgments, or indeed
whether there are any properly algebraic truths. Early in his letter to
Schultz of 1788, Kant identifies general arithmetic (algebra) and
general theory of quantity (allgemeine Grenlehre) and describes
the former as an amplifying science, which is central to pure mathematics (10:555). Kant had held similar views since the pre-critical
period.22 Sutherland, citing this and a great deal of other evidence,
concludes that according to Kant algebra does have objects, namely
magnitudes. That accords with the views just cited of Friedman and
Shabel, since the objects that arise in application will be magnitudes.
Since the magnitudes involved can be continuous, it is a little misleading on Kants part to refer to algebra as general arithmetic. However, that may be just the generality that Kant has in mind.23 It appears that the fact that magnitudes can be geometrically represented is
enough to give algebra the foundation in intuitive construction that
Kants general remarks about mathematics require. But Sutherlands
examination of a wide range of Kantian texts and their background,
particularly in the Greek mathematical tradition, does not make out
in detail how this is.
The case concerning arithmetic is harder. Kant undoubtedly claims
that there are synthetic a priori judgments in arithmetic, and he frequently talks of numbers. In Essay 2 I remark that Kant tends not to
distinguish, for a given number n, between a multiplicity with cardinal number n and the number n itself (p.58 above). Sutherland and
William Tait have pointed out that an ambiguity of this kind goes back


See her Kant on the Symbolic Construction.

See Sutherland, Kant on Arithmetic, p.549, and the passages cited there.
I owe this suggestion to Daniel Sutherland, who remarks that it can still be
called arithmetic because it deals with operations such as addition and subtraction.



to Greek conceptions of arithmetic.24 An attempt to make clear how

Kant conceived finite multiplicities is made in II of my essay. However, since such multiplicities would count as quanta, they are unlikely
to be the objects of arithmetic in Kants considered view. In the letter to
Schultz, Kant gives as a reason why arithmetic has no axioms that it
really does not have a quantum (i.e. an object of intuition as quantity)
as object, but merely quantity (Quantitt), i.e. a concept of a thing in
general through determination of quantity (10: 555). This leaves it
unclear what Kant could be talking about when he talks of numbers.
When, in the well-known argument for the syntheticity of 7 + 5 = 12,
Kant speaks of see[ing] the number 12 arise (B16), what is he referring to by the number 12? The reference to particular examples of
multiplicities would suggest the interpretation we have just rejected.
Sutherland argues that it is likely that Kant, along with many thinkers from ancient times well into the nineteenth century, thought of
numbers as composed of pure units, which cannot be distinguished
from one another qualitatively.25 The textual evidence for this is somewhat indirect, and it leaves unclear the status of units as objects. The
points Kant mentions (B15, A140/B179) would share the essential property of pure units, but they are not alone in this; in the second place he
describes the collection of points as an image of the number five. The
indefinite article at least suggests that there are or could be others.
Points can play the role of units, but the fact that there are alternatives
would imply that we cannot say that it is a configuration of twelve
points that the number 12 refers to.
Concerning 7 + 5 = 12, Kant writes:
Although it is synthetic, however, it is still only a singular proposition. Insofar as it is only the synthesis of that which is homogeneous (of units) that is at issue here, the synthesis here can take
place in only one way, even though the subsequent use of these
numbers is general. (A164/B205)
Although it is possible to read this as saying that the synthesis arrives
at a single object 12, the contrast he immediately draws with the construction of a triangle counts against this, as many writers have observed.

Sutherland, Kant on Arithmetic, p.535; Tait, Frege versus Cantor and Dedekind, 9. Both are probably indebted to Stein, Eudoxus and Dedekind.
Sutherland, Kant on Arithmetic, 5.2.


The claim seems rather to be that there is a certain equivalence in the

syntheses carried out using different images of the number five. It
would be tempting to think of this equivalence as the existence (or
coming to light) of a one-one correspondence, but as Sutherland has
pointed out, nothing Kant says gives direct support to that reading. I
dont know just how Kant thought of the equivalence, but I conjecture
that it was on the level of the act of the understanding, which would
have a certain indifference to the particularities of the objects it is dealing with and even not to be directly about quanta but rather only
about their quantitas.26 Probably the conclusion is that 12 is not exactly a singular term as we would understand it, but Kant does not give
evidence of having a theory of what else it might be.
In Essay 4 of this volume, in discussing the disagreement between
Kant and Schultz about whether arithmetic has axioms, I maintain that
Schultz had the better case. But I have not done much to explain why
Kant held the view he did. An ingenious explanation was developed by
Friedman on the basis of the view noted above that the theory of magnitudes (which includes algebra and arithmetic) gets its objects from
outside the theory. As noted above, a view of this kind seems to have the
consequence that algebra does not consist of general propositions at all,
and the same seems on Friedmans view to be true of arithmetic.
That leaves as a problem how arithmetic can even contain singular
truths, as Kant emphatically asserts that it does. Any view leaves the
puzzle as to how one can reason generally about quanta in order to
arrive at a judgment like 7 + 5 = 12. And then the question arises: If we
can in these cases know that another unit can always be added, why
would there not be a postulate that expresses this generally? In fact
Schultz infers such a possibility from his second postulate.27 Kant
seems in a couple of places to endorse an assumption like this, but
without saying what its role is (or is not) in mathematical argument.

That would be in line with Longuenesses statement that the principles of arithmetic, unlike the principles of geometry, are not dictated by the formal intuition
that is its object, but are contained in the very act of constituting quantity or magnitude (Kant and the Capacity to Judge, p.281).
However, in arguing that the general theory of quantity is science of numbers,
Schultz writes that every number is itself a quantum (Anfangsgrnde, p.3, quoted
above, p.87). It is likely that he is identifying a number with a multiplicity of that
number of elements.
See Prfung, I, 223.


In III of Essay 2 I propose that Kant returns in later texts to a more

intellectualist view of the concept of number than is expressed in the
first edition of the Critique, especially in the characterization of number as the schema of the concept of magnitude, in the sense of quantitas (A142/B182). The position I found in texts of 17881790 would be
closer to that of the Dissertation. This proposal has come under criticism. I will comment briefly on the criticism of it by Longuenesse. I
Kant appears in the Schematism to reject the idea expressed in
the Dissertation and implicit, though not consistently held to,
in the Metaphysics lectures, of describing the concept of number in terms of the pure categories. (p.59 above)
Longuenesse comments:
This is a strange thing to say if we recall that in the Schematism
chapter, Kant writes that number is the schema of the category
of quantity. Thus he does not abandon the definition of number
in terms of the pure categories, unless pure is understood as
meaning having no relation to the sensible (unschematized).28
In one way this remark misses my point, which was that it seemed to
be a departure from what he had said previously to place the concept
of number on the side of the schema rather than on the side of the category that has the schema. I certainly didnt mean to say that either
side ceases to play a role in the account of arithmetic in the Critical
period, either in 1781 or later.
If that misunderstanding is cleared up, I am not sure what disagreement remains. I conjectured that Kant saw in the notion of intellectual synthesis a framework into which to fit the abstract conceptions of
quantity developed in his lectures (p.63 above) and called attention
to the definition of quantum given at B203, emphasized and analyzed
in Sutherlands work. I think I may have been confusing two senses in
which categories might be pure: being thought without any relation to
intuition and being thought in relation to intuition in general, in abstraction from the particular forms of intuition that we have. It is the
latter that characterizes intellectual synthesis.


Kant and the Capacity to Judge, p.256n.24.



The texts I chiefly relied on were the letters to Schultz of 1788 and
that to Rehberg of 1790. But the translation I gave of a key passage in
the former letter can be improved. Kant wrote,
Die Zahlwissenschaft ist, unerachtet der Succession, welche jede
Konstruktion der Gre erfodert, eine reine intellektuelle Synthesis, die wir uns in Gedanken vorstellen. (10:557)
It would have been better to render unerachtet der Succession as not
considering the succession instead of in spite of the succession (see
Essay 2).29 It thus appears that there is a certain abstraction involved in
taking the science of numbers to be a pure intellectual synthesis.
There still seems to be a difference with the position of 1781, but
we may not be able to be sure what the difference is. One could read
the letter to Schultz as saying that time is a subjective condition of
carrying out mathematical construction (and thus arriving at mathematical knowledge) and also a constraint on the application of mathematics,
but the content of arithmetic is quite independent of our particular
forms of intuition. Some remarks in the letter to Rehberg that I called
attention to would support this reading.
In philosophy, for example in the first part of the B Deduction, Kant
allows himself to reason about intuition in general in abstraction from
our particular forms of intuition. It might solve problems for him, for
example the puzzlement expressed above about arithmetical propositions, if he admitted such reasoning into mathematics itself. But whenever the opportunity to say that presents itself, he pretty clearly rejects
it, and indeed it would not have fit well into his general philosophy to
allow that mathematical reasoning could be about intuition in general,
independently of our particular forms. In particular, would it be compatible with his conception of mathematical reasoning as involving construction of concepts in pure intuition?
Although the matter arises only briefly in Essay 4, I will comment
on one more issue, the Leibnizian proofs of arithmetical identities and
what might have been Kants attitude toward them. As noted above,30

Zweig translates the phrase as notwithstanding succession (Correspondence,

p.285). I read that as closer to my earlier translation.
Essay 2, note 46. The proof is presented and discussed in Longuenesse, Kant and
the Capacity to Judge, p.279.
Ofra Rechter observes (The View from 1763, pp.3435) that the proof is
surrounded by remarks on numerical notation systems, in particular the contrast


such a proof of 8 + 4 = 12 occurs in Herders notes on Kants early

lectures on Mathematics (29, 1:57). The proof as it stands would require
associativity and commutativity, as Schultz observed later about a
similar proof of 7 + 5 = 12. Nowadays, we would prove such an identity
using only the recursion condition for addition
m + (n + 1) = (m + n) + 1,
which Schultz probably would have regarded as a special case of associativity. Thus one would reason

7 + 5 = 7 + (4 + 1) = (7 + 4) + 1


7 + 4 = 7 + (3 + 1) = (7 + 3) + 1


7 + 3 = 7 + (2 + 1) = (7 + 2) + 1


7 + 2 = 7 + (1 + 1) = (7 + 1) + 1 = 8 + 1 = 9


7 + 3 = 9 + 1 = 10 (by (3), (4))


7 + 4 = 10 + 1 = 11 (by (5), (2))


7 + 5 = 11 + 1 = 12 (by (6), (1)).

Thus this argument dispenses with commutativity. In effect, it reduces

the evaluation of 7 + 5 to that of 7 + 4, and then to 7 + 3, and so on.
The proof in the Herder notes and that given by Schultz have in common
a different procedure. We can render Schultzs argument as follows:
7 + 5 = 7 + (4 + 1) = 7 + (1 + 4) = (7 + 1) + 4 = 8 + 4
8 + 4 = 8 + (3 + 1) = 8 + (1 + 3) = (8 + 1) + 3 = 9 + 3
9 + 3 = 9 + (2 + 1) = 9 + (1 + 2) = (9 + 1) + 2 = 10 + 2
10 + 2 = 10 + (1 + 1) = (10 + 1) + 1 = 11 + 1 = 12.31
This proof has the feature that it mirrors the description at B1516
of how one arrives at 7 + 5 = 12, namely that one starts with 7 and
between base 2 and base 10, and the algorithms for addition, multiplication, and
division. That at least gives a hint as to how he might have viewed the question of
knowledge of arithmetic identities involving larger numbers.
Prfung, I, 220. Schultz goes on to say, That this is the only way by which we can
arrive at insight into the correctness of the proposition that 7 + 5 = 12 is something that
every arithmetician knows. Did he have in mind writings on arithmetic by others?


successively adds units to it.32 Although it is less explicit and does not
note the use of associativity and commutativity, the proof in Herders
notes has the same structure.
Longuenesse notes the parallel between the early proof and the procedure of the Critique, but the difference she discerns leads her to make
the remarks about Kants probable attitude to the proof that are discussed critically above (Essay 4, note 25). The question I raised there still
stands: If there are rules proper to the act of generating a homogeneous
multiplicity, why should one not state them as general rules and derive
some from others? Kant may well have sensed that the time was not ripe
for arithmetic to be treated axiomatically. But he seems to have avoided
giving any account at all of general propositions in arithmetic.33


Cf. Longuenesses comments on the proof in Herders notes, op. cit., pp.279280.
I am greatly indebted to Katherine Dunlop and Daniel Sutherland for comments
on an earlier version of this Postscript. They are not responsible for failures on my
part to take adequate account of their comments.






In discussions of the elements of set theory, we find today two quite

different suggestions as to what a set is. One appeals to intuitions associated with ordinary notions such as collection or aggregate.
According to it, a set is formed or constituted from its elements.
The axioms of set theory can then be motivated by ideas such as that
sets can be formed from given elements in a quite arbitrary way, and
that any set can be obtained by iterated application of such set formation, beginning either with nothing or with individuals that are not
sets.1 According to the other, the paradigm of a set is the extension of a
predicate. Terms denoting sets are nominalized predicates; and sets are
distinguished (e.g., from attributes), by the fact that predicates true of
the same objects have the same set as their extension. Generally, the
axioms of set theory are viewed as assumptions as to what predicates
have extensions.2
It would be hard to find an instance of a very pure account of the
elements of set theory in terms of one of these suggestions to the exclusion of the other, so that perhaps neither offers by itself the basis of a
complete account of the nature of sets. Mathematicians may also question whether the project of giving such an account is not metaphysical

For example Shoenfield, Mathematical Logic, pp.238240; Boolos, The Iterative Conception of Set; Wang, From Mathematics to Philosophy, ch. 6. [See now
also Shoenfield, Axioms of Set Theory.]
Such a conception seems to underlie the widely held view that the naive or
intuitive conception of set is expressed by the (inconsistent) universal comprehension schema. It seems to be expressed by W. V. Quine in Set Theory and Its
Logic, esp. pp.12, and in The Roots of Reference. [For discussion see VI of Essay 7 of Mathematics in Philosophy. However, the influence of this view, already in
decline in 1976, has declined still further since then.]


and therefore of no interest. This view, however, rests satisfied with a

situation in which the concept of set is not so clear as it ideally could
be, and in which the axioms accepted in set theory are not so evident as
they could be. I am persuaded that the exploration of these conceptions is worthwhile.
The first of the above suggestions claims ancestry in the writings of
Cantor.3 The second occurs in a particularly pure and rigorous form in
Frege. A close examination of Freges conception of extension is certain
to be helpful in understanding the second suggestion and testing its adequacy. I do not propose to carry out such an examination in this paper,
which is more limited in scope. I shall discuss some passages where Frege
comments on something resembling the Cantorian explication. I shall
then comment on the evolution of Freges views on extensions from his
learning of Russells paradox until his death.

There are a number of passages in Freges writings where he discusses
a concept of set explained along the lines of the first suggestion. Curiously, he does not comment on Cantors explanations.4 But at the
beginning of the Grundgesetze (pp. 13) he criticizes Dedekind; the
same issue is discussed at greater length in an unfinished paper of
1906 on an essay by Schoenflies on the paradoxes.5 The ideas of both
these comments can be traced back to criticisms in the Grundlagen of
views according to which a number either is itself a set, multitude,
or plurality (p. 38), or attaches to an agglomeration of things

For example Wang, From Mathematics to Philosophy, pp.187189.

Except that in his 1892 review of Cantors Zur Lehre vom Transfiniten he says
that Cantor is unclear as to what is to be understood by set and then quotes a
passage in which he finds a hint of his own view (Review of Cantor, p.164).
This review contains Freges most interesting and judicious comments on Cantor, although he comments at length on Cantors theory of real numbers in Grundgesetze, vol. 2, 6885.
[Because it was not directly relevant to my theme, I did not comment on the
closing remarks of this review, where Frege clearly sees Cantor as an ally against
the naturalistic empiricism influential in Germany at the time. Martin Davis
does justice to this remarkable little exchange; see Review of Dawson,
Nachgelassene Schriften, hereafter cited as NS, pp.191199, trans. pp.176183.



(Aggregat).6 Frege always understands an Aggregat as something composed of parts. Therefore it has two insufficiences as a bearer of number: first, it seems to be spatio-temporal and thus would leave unaccounted for the fact that non-spatio-temporal things can be numbered;
second, what is composed of parts is not so composed in a unique way.
Hence different possible decompositions of a whole into parts would
give rise to different numbers. Thus an agglomeration as such does not
have a definite number.
In the Grundlagen, Frege does not have in view the mathematical
concept of set, but rather a number of perhaps not very precise ordinary concepts. Some of these might now be regimented by means
of the concept of set, others by a modern logic of the whole-part relation such as Lsniewskis mereology or the Leonard-Goodman calculus of individuals. Frege tends always to interpret them in the latter
Frege interprets Dedekind as holding that his systems (i.e., sets)
consist of their elements. Dedekind accepted the conclusion that a system with one element would be indistinguishable from the element itself.7 Because of extensionality (which Dedekind explicitly affirms) this
can be true only for individuals and one-element sets: otherwise an object
x and its unit set {x} must be distinguished because they do not have
the same elements. Frege does not raise this difficulty but rather raises
the point (parallel to one he made about the agglomeration theory of
number) how there can be a null set:
If the elements constitute the system, then where the elements
are abolished the system goes with them.8
An empty concept has on the other hand no difficulty, and in view of
the fundamental difference of concepts and objects, a concept under

Foundations, pp.2930, from a quotation from Mill, System of Logic, bk. III, ch.
xxiv, 5. Agglomeration is apparently translated Aggregat in the translation
Frege cites (by J. Schiel; see ibid., p.9), but the term Aggregat is used by Frege with
the same meaning in discussions without reference to Mill. I have used Mills agglomeration rather than aggregate throughout as an English version of it since
the latter is often used as a synonym for set or class.
7 Was sind und was sollen die Zahlen?, par. 3.
8 Grundgesetze, 1:3. The German reads, Wenn die Elemente das System bilden, so
wird das System mit den Elementen zugleich aufgehoben.


which exactly one object falls cannot be confused with the object
That the extension of such a concept must be distinct from the object is not evident on Freges conception of extension. In fact, the conventional identification he makes between the two truth-values and
certain extensions had the consequence that those are their own unit
classes, and he suggests that such an identification be made for all objects that are given independently of Wertverlufe.9
This consideration would weaken the force of Freges argument
against Dedekind, unless we interpret him to mean that Dedekinds conception does not ever provide for a distinction between an object and
its unit set, in which case it will fail in those cases where extensionality
requires such a distinction. Frege does not go so far as to interpret
Dedekind as taking sets to be agglomerations. In the discussion of
Schoenflies he goes into a similar issue at greater length. There Frege
says that the word Menge can be taken in two ways, which are
most clearly expressed by the words agglomeration and extension
But frequently these conceptions do not occur in their pure form,
but mixed together and this makes for unclarity. The aggregative
(aggregative) conception is the first to offer itself, but the requirements of mathematics pull towards the opposite side, and
so confusions easily arise.10
Characteristic of an agglomeration is the presence of relations which
make parts into a whole; the examples (except perhaps for a corporation) are all spatio-temporal. Moreover, the parts of a part are parts
of a whole. This has of course the consequence that decomposition is
not unique, which was in the Grundlagen a fatal obstacle to taking agglomerations as bearers of number. Frege finds the notion of agglomeration not precise enough to be a mathematical concept, a view which
perhaps has been refuted by later developments. But these developments have also made even clearer that the notion is different from
that of set.

Ibid., p.18 n.1.

NS, p.196, trans. p.181. The discussion of agglomerations and extensions on
pp.196197 develops more explicitly a remark in Grundgesetze, 2:150.




Frege devotes the last completed part of the paper to making clear the
distinction of an extension from an agglomeration. From the plan (p.191)
he evidently intended to go on to discuss the notions of Inbegriff . . .
System, Reihe, Menge, Klasse. It is natural to conjecture that he viewed
any account of the last two that sought to distinguish either notion
from that of extension as a mixture of the concepts of extension and
agglomeration, and therefore as unclear, if not incoherent.
It thus appears that Frege did not see any foundation to the idea,
central to the sort of explanation of the concept of set according to our
first suggestion that is used to block the well-known paradoxes, that
the elements of a set must be given prior to the formation of the set.
The only interpretation of this idea that Frege considered would be
that a set consists of its elements, a view which he evidently took to be
derived from the notion of agglomeration so that the model for it would
have to be the manner in which a whole consists of parts.
On the other hand, he does say that an extension simply has its being (Bestand) in the concept.11 It is clear that the model for this cannot
be the part-whole relation. Could it give rise to a priority of the elements of an extension to the extension? Only, it seems, if there is a priority of the objects falling under a concept to a concept.
It seems that Frege could get help from Russell. The above statement
is one Russell could have subscribed to, taking concepts as propositional functions and extensions as classes. According to Russell, a propositional function presupposes its arguments, that is, the elements of its
range of significance, not the arguments of which it is true. The arrangement of classes in a hierarchy of types is, in Russells account, a
consequence of this principle.12
It may be that Russell has here tacitly introduced the concept of
set that Frege rejects: is not the range of significance of propositional
functions of lowest type a totality consisting of objects which is not explained by Russells own explanations of classes by way of propositional

NS, p.199, trans. p.183. Cf.: On the other hand, what constitutes the being of
the conceptor of its extensionare not the objects that fall under it but its
marks (Merkmale), that is, the properties that an object must have in order to fall
under the concept (Grundgesetze, 2:150, my translation). This latter passage calls
into question the view that Fregean concepts are not at all akin to intensional
Principia Mathematica, 1:16, 54.


functions? I shall not examine here whether this charge is true. There is
another more direct conflict into which the proposed Russellian rescue
would have placed Frege. Frege held that the range of significance of
any concept-expression is absolutely all objects. Since the extension of
a concept is an object, the Russellian principle would make the extension of a concept prior to the concept, contrary to the priority of concepts to extensions that Frege affirms more explicitly.
The simplest way out for Frege would no doubt be to deny that extensions are really objects, that is, in effect to adopt a no-class theory.
For Frege, this would be less complicated than it was for Russell: his
logic was full (impredicative) second-order logic, which he seems never
to have been tempted by the paradoxes to abandon. However, he
would have had to give up either the identification of numbers with
extensions, crucial to his logicism, or his thesis that numbers are objects. Dropping the identification of numbers with extensions is in fact
the solution that Frege adopted at the end of his life, in the fragments
of 19241925, but that went with rejecting extensions altogether (see
A concept, according to Frege, is a function which has a value (the
True or the False) for any object whatever as argument. Could Frege
have dropped this view and approached the paradoxes on the basis of
a Russellian idea that a function presupposes its arguments, but that
its Wertverlauf need not be among those arguments? This is of course
exactly the situation in set theory for a function defined on a set, where
we can take the Wertverlauf to be the function as a set of ordered pairs.
Such a step could hardly have failed to drive Frege in a direction
deeply uncongenial to his previous thought. Consider a simple quantification xFx. If Fx denotes a function that is not defined for certain
arguments, then that it is true of these arguments is not implied by
xFx. The latter cannot say of absolutely every object that it is F.
Indeed, such absolute generality could be expressed only by a form of
quantification not analyzed by Freges logical theory, perhaps by a
systematic ambiguity of the quantifier parallel to such ambiguities as
arise in Russells original theory of types. A similar ambiguity would
have to attach to such predicates as x = y that apparently apply to
absolutely all objects.13

Cf. Essays 8 and 9 of Mathematics in Philosophy. In the object language of the

theory of types, there need be no typical ambiguity, since each variable will have a


Although Frege could thus in a way preserve the generality of the

step from a concept to its extension, if the only logical objects available at the outset are the two truth-values, some principle of iteration
is needed to obtain infinite classes. Freges reduction of arithmetic to
logic would not be saved. Alternatively one might say that where the
quantifier really is absolutely unrestricted, then Fx does not denote a
concept. It is not evident that this offers any advantage over saying
that not all concepts have extensions; it seems to have the disadvantage
that the latter still leaves second-order logic intact.

I want now to make some remarks concerning the evolution of Freges
views on the concept of extension after he learned of Russells paradox. The evidence known to me14 shows a gradually increasing skepticism, so that the rejection of extensions in 1924 does not come out of
the blue.
In the correspondence with Russell of 19021904 and the appendix
to volume 2 of the Grundgesetze, he does not consider that extensions
might be given up or so restricted that his analysis of number would
have to be abandoned. He did consider the idea that Wertverlufe
might be treated as second-class objects (uneigentliche Gegenstnde).15
He apparently rejected this idea, before proposing to Russell the way
out of the appendix. The subsequent fate of the Way Out in his thinking is obscure; it is not mentioned explicitly in the Nachgelassene
Schrifien or in his publications after 1903.
However, in the plan for the critique of Schoenflies Frege speaks of
concepts that agree in their extension, although this extension falls
under one of the concepts but not the other.16 This might be interpreted as presupposing the Way Out. However, this seems unlikely in
the light of Freges analysis of the paradox in the appendix to volume 2
definite type index. But in Russells metalanguage it is essential to the general explanation he gives of the interpretation of the theory. This issue is independent of
the difference between the simple and the ramified theory of types.
I have seen only part of Freges still unpublished correspondence. [But see Essay
6 in this volume.]
Letter to Russell, September 23, 1902; Grundgesetze, 2:254255.
Begriffe, die im Umfange bereinstimmen, obwohl dieser Umfang unter den
einen fllt, nicht aber unter den anderen. NS, p.191, my translation.


of the Grundgesetze. There Frege notes (p.257) that it is the inference

from the equality of value-ranges to the generality of an equality (i.e.,
from f() = g() to x[f(x) = g(x)]) that yields the contradiction; the
converse inference (which indeed is just an expression of extensionality)
is innocent. He then generalizes the paradox argument to show, without
any use of axiom V, that for any second-level function there are concepts which yield the same value as arguments of this function although
not all objects falling under the one of these concepts also fall under the
other. The above citation should be compared with the following:
If it is permissible generally for any first-level concept that we
speak of its extension, then the case arises of concepts having
the same extension although not all objects falling under one
also fall under the other.17
Since the counterexample is precisely the (common) extension of
the two concepts, it seems that in the plan of 1906 Frege is just repeating the point made on pp.257261 of the appendix before he introduces the Way Out. In the former he concludes, Mengenlehre erschttert. Does this mean that he thought already in 1906 that set theory is
beyond repair? There is no other evidence of this; he may have meant
no more than what he said of the paradox in the appendix:
However, this simply does away with extensions of concepts in
the received sense of the term.18
Nonetheless, the following statement, Meine Begriffschrift in der
Hauptsache unabhngig davon, suggests a point of view that is expressed quite explicitly in one of his notes to Jourdains account of his
work.19 This point of view seems to guide much of Freges writing
from that time until 1919. Frege writes:

Grundgesetze, 2:260.
Philip E.B. Jourdain, The Development of the Theories of Mathematical Logic
and the Principles of Mathematics: Gottlob Frege. The notes are reprinted in Kleine
Schriften. Apart from its containing these valuable notes, Jourdains article deserves
recognition as the most accurate account of Freges work by another which had
appeared up to that time. Of course Jourdain owed to Russell his appreciation of
Freges importance. The notes are presumably translations by Jourdain of German
originals, but the originals appear to be lost (see KS, p.334).
Note added in proof. In a letter dated March 22, 1976, I. Grattan-Guinness
informs me that he has found that the German originals of Freges notes to Jour18



And now we know that, when classes are introduced, a difficulty

(Russells contradiction) arises. In my fashion of regarding concepts as functions, we can treat the principal parts of Logic without speaking of classes, as I have done in my Begriffsschrift, and
that difficulty does not come into consideration.20
Frege repeats what he had indicated even before the paradoxes, that
the laws of classes are not so evident as the principal parts of logic.
His distinction parallels that which might now be made between
second-order logic and set theory. He goes on to say:
The class, namely, is something derived, whereas in the concept
as I understand the wordwe have something primitive (etwas
Ursprngliches). . . . We can, perhaps, regard Arithmetic as a
further-developed Logic. But in that, we say that in comparison
with the fundamental Logic, it is something derived.21
In speaking of classes as derived, Frege does not make his meaning very clear. If it is purely epistemological (that is, if the point is that
the laws of classes are less evident than, or presuppose a prior knowledge of, the laws of logic in the narrower sense), then the choice of
terms is strange, since the relation is not that of premise and conclusion: there will have to be distinctive axioms for classes. Although
Frege contrasts classes as derived with concepts as primitive, he could
hardly mean that the language of classes is defined in any sense compatible with Freges views on definitions. So Frege is perhaps maintaining that classes are derived in their ontological relation to concepts.
But Frege does not develop the thought further in any text known to
me. In particular, although he apparently still envisages an account of
arithmetic in which numbers are construed as classes (extensions), he
does not indicate what the theory of extensions is that he might have
in mind.
Frege seems to have concentrated on discussions that could be carried out using only the resources of fundamental Logic. The long
dain are indeed extant, contrary to what is said above. Some are in the Russell
Archives, and the remainder are in Jourdains notebooks in the Institut MittagLeffler, Stockholm. [These originals are published in Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel (cited hereafter as WB); see Essay 6 in this volume.]
Jourdain, Development, p.251. [For Freges German text see WB, p.121.]


essay Logik in der Mathematik is a case in point.22 Neither the notion of extension nor the idea of a reduction of arithmetic to logic is
mentioned. Frege takes up again the polemical discussion of others
views on numbers, with a discussion of Weierstrass. In the Grundgesetze
Frege had criticized the attempts of mathematicians to create objects
by definition, and he claims that his axiom about Wertverlufe will
serve all the purposes that such creations are intended to serve.23 This
issue is not raised in Logik in der Mathematik. He is even noncommittal about the question whether induction needs to be a purely
mathematical axiom or can be reduced to logic.24
Rudolf Carnap reports in his autobiography on three courses of
lectures by Frege that he attended in the winter semester of 19101911,
the summer semester of 1913, and the summer semester of 1914.25 The
last was called Logik in der Mathematik and its content evidently
paralleled that of the essay of that title. The first course was given at
about the time at which the notes for Jourdain were written. The role
of the notion of extension in the first two courses is not too clear from
Carnaps account. Concerning Russells paradox he writes, I do not
remember that he ever discussed in his lectures this antinomy and the
question of possible modifications of his system in order to eliminate
it.26 That might suggest that Frege had simply presented the original
system of Grundgesetze, which seems somewhat unlikely in view of
Freges rigorous standards: it is hard to imagine him presenting a system he knew to be inconsistent without even mentioning the problem.
Carnap believed that Frege thought some solution could be found, but
here he refers to the appendix to volume 2 of the Grundgesetze, written some years before, rather than to the lectures.27


NS, pp.219270, trans. pp.203250.

Grundgesetze, 2:147.
24 NS, p.219, trans. p.203. This is surprising since the core of Freges previous
reduction is just second-order logic. Frege is making the methodological point that
an inference in mathematics should proceed by purely logical rules; any distinctively mathematical aspect of the inference should be represented by mathematical
25 Carnap, Intellectual Autobiography, pp.46.
26 Ibid., pp.45.
27 Bynums statement As late as 191314 he was presenting and defending
his logistic programme in courses at Jena University (Frege, Conceptual



Carnap does say, Toward the end of the semester Frege indicated that
the new logic to which he had introduced us, could serve for the construction of the whole of mathematics.28 (He is referring to the first course.)
But none of the information Carnap gives about the 1913 course directly
shows that a construction of numbers on the basis of extensions was part
of it. The remark that Carnap cites certainly indicates that in 1911 Frege
believed in such a construction, but on the whole Carnaps recollection
gives some, but not very decisive, confirmation to the view that Frege
concentrated almost entirely on what could be done with fundamental
Logic independently of the notion of extension.
In Logik in der Mathematik Frege had emphasized the lack of
agreement among mathematicians about what the objects of arithmetic are and the unclarity of their statements so long as no adequate account of these objects was given. But the matter was left there. The
same point is made briefly in Aufzeichnungen fr Ludwig Darmstaedter (1919), but there follows a series of questions, which call in
question even the doctrine that numbers are objects. A statement of
number is a statement about a concept which therefore applies to this

Notation, p. 48) seems not to be justified by the statements in Carnaps

Professor Bynum has kindly sent me copies of his correspondence with Carnap,
including the letter of April 4, 1967 which he mentions (Frege, Conceptual Notation, p.48n.10). There Carnap refers to his shorthand notes on Freges lectures and
says he could find in them no reference at all to Russell, Principia Mathematica,
Russells paradox, or the appendix to volume 2 of the Grundgesetze. However, he
reports a vague memory that Frege mentioned Russell in some way.
Although the letter so far confirms the picture I have presented and nowhere
explicitly contradicts it, Carnap expresses forcefully his belief that Frege had not
given up the view that arithmetic is a branch of logic. (In fact he says Frege never
gave this up.)
You ask: Why did he not give it up? I would say Why should he? The fact that
a flaw was found in his particular form of a system of logic did certainly not destroy his belief that there is a system of logic which has in general the features
which he had envisaged, although some details would have to be changed.

Carnap says that his own view of the nature of arithmetic is chiefly based on what
I learned from Frege.
Study of Carnaps notes should shed some further light on these issues. The
above material from Carnaps letter is included by permission of Professor Bynum.
[For discussion of the now published notes see the Postscript.]
Carnap, Intellectual Autobiography, p.5.


concept a second-level concept. These second-level concepts are ordered in a series, and there is a rule which for each one will give the
next one.
But still we do not have in them the numbers of arithmetic; we do
not have objects, but concepts. How can we get from these concepts to the numbers of arithmetic in a way that cannot be
faulted? Or are there simply no numbers in arithmetic? Could the
numerals help to form signs for these second level concepts, and
yet not be signs in their own right?29
The notes end there. Frege evidently no longer relies on extensions as
the objects of arithmetic, but still the idea of extension is not explicitly
mentioned, even to question or reject it.
In the most extended of the fragments of 19241925, expressions
of the form the extension of the concept a are given as examples of
the tendency of language to create proper names to which no object
corresponds. Of the expression the extension of the concept fixed star
he says:
Because of the definite article, this expression appears to designate an object; but there is no object for which this phrase could
be a linguistically appropriate designation. From this has arisen
the paradoxes of set theory which have dealt the death blow to
set theory itself. I myself was under this illusion when, in attempting to provide a logical foundation for the numbers, I tried
to construe numbers as sets.30
In my view, this rejection of extensions and of logicism is the end of
an evolution which, after the initial shock of the paradox, proceeded
more or less continuously. It is the positive theory of number, the attempt
to construct numbers by geometrical means, that is the more radical
new departure in the last fragments.
In the latter context Frege writes, From the geometrical source of
knowledge flows the infinite in the genuine and strictest sense of this

Aufzeichnungen fr Ludwig Darmstaedter, NS p.277, trans. p.257.

Erkenntnisquellen der Mathematik und der mathematischen Naturwissenschaften, NS pp.288289, trans. p.269. Note that Frege says that the concept
fixed star is also a proper name without reference.




word.31 That Frege here means actual rather than potential infinity
is probable.32 In spite of his Kantian view of geometry, Frege does not
seem in the last fragments to have come any closer to the constructivistic
view of the infinite that is characteristic of other Kantian views of mathematics in the twentieth century. Some years before, Frege endorsed an
argument of Cantors to the effect that potential infinity presupposes
In his letters to Dedekind of 1899, Cantor approaches the paradoxes
by distinguishing among multiplicities between the consistent (sets)
and inconsistent.34 A multiplicity is inconsistent if it is contradictory for
all its elements to be together. That is to say, it cannot be consistently
conceived except as a potential totality. Cantors proposal seems inconsistent with the view Frege endorsed.
A conception of the totality of sets and other absolutely infinite totalities along the lines intimated by Cantor is widely held today. Cantor
could adopt it in response to the paradoxes more readily than Frege because his concentration on the sequence of ordinals and cardinals brought
home to him how the totality of sets must burst the bounds of any overall
grasp we might seek to have of it. Set theory as such clearly did not much
move Frege; his interest in the concept of extension was motivated by
concerns of general logic and of the foundations of classical arithmetic
and analysis.35

Ibid., p.293, trans. p.273. The German reads, Aus der geometrischen Erkenntnisquelle fliesst das Unendliche im eigentlichen und strengsten Sinne des
32 As Kaulbach says in the introduction to NS, p.xxxii.
33 Review of Cantor, p.163, in the review cited in note 4 above. Cf. Cantor, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, pp.410411. I have not been able to identify the precise
passage of Cantor Frege has in mind.
34 Cantor, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, p.443.
35 I do not know of any remarks by Frege on any paradox other than Russells, in
particular on Cantors or Burali-Fortis. But on ordinal numbers cf.: We do not
yet have a general view of the significance which order types would then acquire
for mathematics. They would perhaps enter into an intimate connection with the
rest of mathematics and exert a fertilizing influence on it (wirken befruchtend auf
sie ein). I would not want to exclude this possibility (Review of Cantor, p.165,
trans. p.181).
[It is not strictly true that Frege comments on no other paradoxes, because he
does remark on what we would call the sorites paradox. But he seems to regard it
as a simple fallacy.]


The genetic point of view which leads to the consequence that

the totality of sets is absolutely potential belongs, of course, to the first
of the two suggestions with which we began. I do not see how to make
sense of set theory without some version of it. Although it may be separable from the idea which Frege so sharply criticized, that a set is constituted by its elements, it seems equally alien to Frege. Perhaps that is
why no solution to the paradoxes ever satisfied him.



Since the two essays on Frege reprinted here were written, a lot has
happened in the study of Frege and the development of his ideas. But I
will limit the scope of my postscripts to developments that bear directly on what is said in these essays.
The first part of the present essay is structured around two ideas of
what a set may be, Freges conception of extension and the conception
of a set as constituted by its elements. I explored such ideas further in
systematically motivated writings, beginning with What is the iterative conception of set?1 The suggestion made above that neither offers
by itself the basis of a complete account of the nature of sets, in particular adequate to make plausible the standard axioms of set theory, is
developed and defended in chapter 4 of Mathematical Thought and Its
Objects. By then I distinguished two versions of the second conception: sets as collections, in some way directly constituted by their elements, and sets as pluralities, where the idea is motivated by plural
constructions in natural language. However, the second of these is not
especially relevant to Frege. As should be clear from chapters 3 and 4
of the book just mentioned, I now attach less significance to conceptions of the nature of sets than I did in the mid-1970s.
The second half of the essay is devoted to tracing the development
of Freges view of the notion of extension from his learning of Russells
paradox to his death. Tyler Burge filled in the story from the Foundations
of Arithmetic to 1903.2 In the appendix to volume 2 of Grundgesetze,
Frege writes that he has never concealed from himself the fact that his

Essay 10 of Mathematics in Philosophy. It was in fact written between the writing

of the present essay and its publication.
Burge, Frege on Extensions of Concepts.


Basic Law V is not as evident as the other basic laws of his system or as
evident as must really be demanded of a logical law.3 Burge analyzes two
well-known passages from the Foundations, which seem to cast doubt
on Freges commitment to the use of the notion of extension of a concept in defining cardinal number. In the first (p.80n.), Frege says that
he believes that in the definition for the extension of the concept we
could write simply the concept. In the second, from his summing up
of the book, Frege writes concerning his definition,
In this we take for granted the sense of the expression extension
of the concept. This way of overcoming the difficulty will not
win universal applause, and many will prefer to remove the
doubt in question in another way. I attach no decisive importance to bringing in the extension of a concept. (p.117)4
Burge argues in essence that these passages do show uncertainty on
Freges part about his reliance on extensions and on the sort of inference
that later would be justified by Basic Law V. About the first and more
extensive passage, however, he adopts the view that Frege is not there
suggesting something substantively different from relying on extensions. I would put the matter thus: As Frege emphasized later, the concept F designates an object. Since Frege worked with an extensional
language, the concept F will obey the same laws as the extension of
the concept F . Thus a basis for distinguishing them is lacking.
There is some evidence that Frege did consider alternatives to relying
on extensions about the time of the Foundations.5 Given what happened
after the discovery of Russells paradox, both in Freges own thought
and in the work of others attempting to revive and develop logicism, it
is not surprising that Frege did not find another promising direction or,
apparently, attempt to pursue alternatives very far.
Burges analysis gives confirmation to a retrospective comment by
Frege made in 1910. In a note to Jourdains article on his work, after
the remarks quoted above (p.125), Frege writes:

Frege refers to the preface to volume 1, p.vii, which does not explicitly say that
Basic Law V is not as evident as it should be but does note that it is the place where
the soundness of his system is most likely to be questioned.
I follow Burges modifications of Austins translations, Frege on Extensions of
Concepts, p.274.
Ibid., pp.280282.


Only with difficulty did I resolve to introduce classes (or extensions of concepts), because the matter did not seem to me quite
secureand rightly so, as it turned out. The laws of numbers are
to be developed in a purely logical manner. But numbers are objects, and in logic we have only two objects, in the first place: the
two truth-values. Our first aim, then, was to obtain objects out
of concepts, namely, extensions of concepts or classes. By this I
was constrained to overcome my resistance and to admit the
passage from concepts to their extensions.6
That might suggest a more charitable attitude toward Freges response
to Cantors review of the Foundations than is adopted by William Tait,
so far as I know the only person to have discussed the exchange at
length.7 Tait, building on his own study of Cantors Grundlagen einer
allgemeinen Mannigfaltigkeitslehre of 1883,8 argues persuasively that
Cantor saw the fatal flaw in Freges approach, which came fully to light
with Russells discovery that the system of Grundgesetze is inconsistent.
The key passage (quoted by Tait) is the following:
He [Frege] entirely overlooks the fact that the extension of a concept in general may be quantitatively completely indeterminate.
Only in certain cases is the extension of a concept quantitatively
determinate. Then it has, if it is finite, a definite number, or, in the
case it is infinite, a definite power.9
The cases of quantitative indeterminacy that Cantor had in mind were
very likely, as Tait says, the totalities of cardinals and ordinals. We
dont know how carefully Frege studied Cantors monograph; the two
citations he gives are not very informative on this point.10 A careful
reader would have seen that Cantors view of the matter was as Tait says.
But it is not at all obvious how Frege could have incorporated it into his

Jourdain, Development, p.251n.69. For the German original see WB, p.121.
Jourdain translates Begriffsumfnge as extents of concepts; I have substituted
the now standard extensions.
Frege versus Cantor and Dedekind, pp.243246.
See his Cantors Grundlagen and the Paradoxes of Set Theory.
Cantor, Review of Grundlagen, p.440 in Gesammelte Abhandlungen, translation
from Tait, Frege versus Cantor and Dedekind, p.244.
Foundations, pp.74, 97. The first refers to the definition of equality of power (in
his own language, cardinal number) in terms of one-to-one correspondence, the
second to Cantors introduction of transfinite numbers.


own conceptual apparatus, particularly in 1885 when that apparatus

was incompletely developed.
Tait writes, It is easy to misunderstand Cantors review because, for
many, the primary question is to be formulated by asking whether a
given totality is a set. If it is, then it has a cardinal number (p.245).
He then argues that this was not Cantors point of view in 1883. That
point of view led Cantor to say that the concepts of number and power
had to be presupposed for a quantitative determination of extensions. That would have been read by anyone at the time as an objection
to the procedure of giving a definition of cardinal number in terms of
extensions, a claim of circularity that a number of writers closer intellectually to Cantor than to Frege, such as Dedekind and Zermelo, would
have objected to, once they took the notion of extension to be doing
the work of the notion of set. This is not a reproach to Cantor, who
had already reached a level of insight into problems of infinity and
absolute totality that did not become widespread until well into the
twentieth century. But it does indicate that it is setting the bar unreasonably high to expect Frege to grasp at the time the problem that
Cantor was pointing to on the basis of what Cantor wrote.11
Tait closes his discussion with the following remark:
There tends to be a picture of Frege as a tragic victim of fate: by
his very virtue, namely, his insistence on precision, he committed
himself explicitly to a contradiction that was already implicit in
mathematical thought. But in fact his assumption in the Grundgesetze that every concept has an extension was an act of reck11

However, it has often occurred to me that Halle and Jena, where Cantor and
Frege lived, were not far away from each other. Why did they not meet to discuss
the matter more thoroughly?
I might remark that some readers of Cantors review have interpreted him to be
saying that according to Frege the number belonging to the concept F is the extension of the concept F. That would of course be incorrect. Tait does not mention this
interpretation, and it is not relevant to his point. This reading of Cantor was probably encouraged by Freges statement in his reply (Erwiderung):
These remarks would fit very well, and I would recognize them as wholly justified,
if it followed from my definition, for example, that the number of moons of Jupiter
was the extension of the concept moon of Jupiter.

Freges conditional way of putting the matter suggests that he himself did not read
Cantor in this way. (This translation from Freges reply is my own.)


lessness, forewarned against by Cantor in 1883 and again, explicitly, in his review of 1885. (p.246)12
One could object, as suggested above, that it was not directly the assumption that every concept has an extension that Cantor warned
against. How reckless Freges assumption was in the context of the time
is not so easy to say; a deep student of Cantors discussion of the transfinite would not have made it, but how many such students were there,
apart from Cantor himself? Even Dedekind, in par. 66 of Was sind und
was sollen die Zahlen?, gave an argument that assumed as a set something that by our lights (and already Cantors) was not.13
History has vindicated Cantor. If one asks what Frege should have
done, had he fully understood Cantors point, it is hard to see that any
measure would have been successful that would have preserved his
logicism. The neo-Fregean solution grew out of analyses of Freges own
arguments leading up to his definition of cardinal number. It can thus
be argued that it would have been the best option for Frege himself.
However, even its adherents do not claim that the main axiom of Frege
arithmetic, the so-called Humes Principle, is a logical principle.
The idea that Frege was a tragic victim of fate survives Taits analysis, even if we grant the charge of recklessness. But we should recall
that according to tradition, tragic heroes are brought down by a tragic
flaw in a heroic character. Frege did make logicism a precise thesis, chiefly
by his development of second-order logic. He also made it a falsifiable
thesis, and it was not just bad luck that his thesis was falsified. Opinions
will differ about what the decisive tragic flaw was. Tait probably thinks
that Freges way of reading his contemporaries, which is the main target
of his paper, would be an important part of the story. In this he is probably right.
To turn to the second part of the paper: One piece of evidence I
relied on was Rudolf Carnaps statements about the lectures of Frege
that he attended in the period 19101914. In the meantime his shorthand notes have been transcribed and published. We can thus partly

Few today would accept the claim that the contradiction was already implicit
in mathematical thought. But it should be remembered that such a view was
rather widely held in the early twentieth century.
13 To be sure, Dedekinds argument, attempting to prove that there is an infinite set,
was not as central to his enterprise as Basic Law V was to Freges.


resolve the puzzles that Carnaps statements gave rise to. The third of
the lecture courses Carnap attended was Logik in der Mathematik in
the summer semester of 1914. Freges own text for those lectures has
survived and was published in Nachgelassene Schriften, as noted above.
As noted there, Frege concentrated in these lectures on what could be
done with his fundamental logic, a version of second-order logic,
without introducing the notion of extension. Thus he bypassed the whole
problem of the paradox. But it may not have been especially relevant
to the aim of that course.
My conjecture that Frege followed the same policy in the lectures
Begriffschrift I and Begriffschrift II is confirmed by Carnaps notes.
The first series deals with truth-functional logic and the beginnings of
quantificational logic, and the idea that mathematics might be developed within the logic being developed is not even suggested.14 In Begriffschrift II Frege turns quickly to mathematical examples, starting
with the continuity of a function, showing how to define them in his
formal language. He gives two proofs, the second rather lengthy (of the
uniqueness of the limit of a function as its argument approaches infinity), stating explicitly a number of simple mathematical theorems that
are assumed. But he says nothing about how these theorems might be
proved or what assumptions would be needed to prove them. As Gabriel points out in his introduction (p.v), Frege uses only Basic Laws
IIII and the rules of inference from Grundgesetze, and the notion of
extension is not introduced. He does, however, point out that an expression of the form the concept . . . designates an object, but that is
only in informal remarks.
Why was Carnap convinced that Frege never gave up logicism? It
was not on the basis of discussion with Frege; he remarked that Freges
lecturing style precluded discussion, and it appears that he never
exchanged a word with Frege.15 Freges silence in the lectures about the

Thus the notes do not bear out Carnaps statement quoted above (p.127) that at
the end of Begriffschrift I Frege indicated that the logic he had introduced could
serve for the construction of the whole of mathematics. The same would be true of
Begriffschrift II.
Carnaps friend Wilhelm Flitner, who attended Begriffschrift I with Carnap,
explicitly says this; see Erinnerungen, p.127, quoted in Kreiser, Frege, p.277, and
in English in Reck and Awodey, Freges Lectures, p.22.
In 1921 Carnap did write a (now lost) letter to Frege, asking for a copy of ber
Begriff und Gegenstand. See WB, p.16.


difficulty created by Russells paradox no doubt played a role. But I

would guess that the more decisive reason was Carnaps subsequent
reading of Freges published writings and his own more mature views.
In his early career he evidently thought that the view had been successfully reconstructed in Principia Mathematica. Later, for example in
Logical Syntax, he assimilated mathematics to logic as playing the same
role in the edifice of science, without the question of a reduction being
especially important.



The publication of this volume1 of Freges correspondence completes the

project of publishing the Frege Nachlass, begun by Heinrich Scholz in
1935, though because of losses during the Second World War, what is
published in this volume and its predecessor2 falls short of what Scholz
planned. In view of the extensive searches that the custodians of the Frege
Archive have made for additional letters and other materials, it seems
unlikely that the Frege corpus will be much augmented in the future.3
We now have what amounts to an edition of Freges collected works,
which compares favorably with what is available for other major figures
in the formative period of modern logic and analytical philosophy.4
From now on, it should be standard procedure in scholarly works on

Gottlob Frege, Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel, edited with introduction and

notes by Gottfried Gabriel, Hans Hermes, Friedrich Kambartel, Friedrich Kaulbach, Christian Thiel, and Albert Veraart, volume 2 of Nachgelassene Schriften
und Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel, edited by Hans Hermes, Friedrich Kambartel, and Friedrich Kaulbach (Hamburg: Meiner, 1976). [As noted in Essay 5, note
19, hereafter cited as WB. Translations from this volume are my own, although I
cite the published (not complete) translation.]
Nachgelassene Schriften, hereafter cited as NS.
See the notes on individual correspondents as well as the editors introduction.
The most up-to-date account of the Frege Nachlass and its fate, and of attempts to
uncover more materials, is Albert Veraart, Geschichte des wissenschaftlichen
Nachlasses Gottlob Freges. [But see the Postscript below on Freges letters to
Begriffschrift und andere Aufstze; Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik [in particular
now Thiels edition]; Grundgesetze der Arithmetik; Kleine Schriften, hereafter cited
as KS; Nachgelassene Schriften (note 2 above), and the volume under review.
The editors task is simplified by the fact that no publication of Freges was reprinted during his own lifetime. Contrast the case of Bertrand Russell, many of
whose books have been in print more or less continuously. This is no doubt one


Frege to cite this edition, or at least to cite in a way which makes it

easy for a reader to locate a passage in this edition.5
The present volume includes all surviving letters by or addressed to
Frege that in the opinion of the editors of the Nachlass are of scientific
relevance. The arrangement is by correspondent (in alphabetical order)
and for each correspondent chronological. All letters are given in their
original languages.6 For each correspondent a complete list is given of
the letters known to have been written, where possible with an indication
of the content of letters whose texts are lost. This applies mainly to letters
acquired by Scholz before the war, which were destroyed in bombing
of the university library in Mnster in 1945.7 For each correspondent
of the causes of the fact that critical editions of works of Russell are almost
[At the time this was written, no volumes of the Collected Papers of Russell had
appeared. That I wrote almost nonexistent may indicate that I was aware of the
project, but probably not of its scope.]
It should be remarked that Freges three books are in the Olms edition reproduced by photo-offset, with the original pagination. The pagination of the German
text of the Grundlagen printed with Austins translation is the same as that of the
original. The original pagination of the essays reprinted in Angelellis two collections is given in the margins. Since it is also given in Gnther Patzigs two collections and in some translations (including the Geach and Black collection), it may
be best to cite work published in Freges lifetime by the original pagination. We
follow that policy in the present review. It may seem pedantic to dwell on this issue. I do so partly because there seems to be an increasing tendency among American writers on historical figures in philosophy to cite only currently published
translations, thus adding to the readers difficulty in locating the original.
[Two collections published after the original publication of this essay, Collected
Papers and Beaney, The Frege Reader, continue to give the original pagination.
This is also done in Thiels edition of Grundlagen. Unfortunately this was not done
in the translations of the posthumous works, Posthumous Writings and Philosophical and Mathematical Correspondence.]
P.E.B. Jourdain wrote in English, and several correspondents wrote in French.
The story is well known that Scholz deposited for safe-keeping in the university
library all the original Frege papers that he possessed, and apparently also some
copies that he had made. This material was all destroyed by bombs, but some copies that Scholz kept in his home for his own use survived, and it is on these that
the Nachgelassene Schriften is almost entirely based. See Veraart, op. cit., pp.62
70. What is lost can be gathered from the catalogue appended to Veraarts article.
It does seem that Scholz chose to keep copies of papers he thought more
For the correspondence, there are fortunately more sources, especially the materials (consisting mostly of letters addressed to Frege) deposited after Freges
death in what was then the Preussische Staatsbibliothek (now Staatsbibliothek


there is an introduction giving a brief identification of the correspondent and information about the occasion of the exchange, with some
discussion (varying in extent) of the content of the correspondence.
The notes supply numerous useful references. The editing of the whole
is done with exemplary thoroughness and attention to detail. With
the correspondence with P.E.B. Jourdain, the book also includes the
German text of Freges notes to Jourdains expository article on his
It goes without saying that this publication enlarges or corrects our
picture of Freges thought on many points. However, it contains few
surprises, even for someone whose knowledge of Frege is confined to
what is published. With some exceptions, these texts do not have the
same importance as those collected in Nachgelassene Schriften. Some
of the letters have been published previously, and published work on
Frege contains considerable discussion of some of the correspondence.
In particular, this is true of the exchanges with Hilbert and Russell,
which are the most extensive and informative of what survives. Some
of the correspondence with Hilbert was published in the 1940s by
Max Steck.9 I shall not try to add here to what has been written about
the Frege-Hilbert controversy.10 The Russell correspondence has also
been previously discussed,11 and Russells opening letter, which announced his paradox, and Freges reply are well known.12 I shall add
some comments about their correspondence below.
Preussischer Kulturbesitz). [The latter is as of 1982; it is now Staatsbibliothek zu
BerlinPreussischer Kulturbesitz.]
See Veraart, op. cit., pp.6061. Relevant details are given in the editors introduction and other editorial apparatus of WB.
The Development of the Theories of Mathematical Logic and the Principles of
Mathematics: Gottlob Frege. The article is reprinted in full as an appendix to WB.
The notes in English, with an indication of context, were reprinted in KS. The history of the German text is complicated (see the note in WB, pp.114115). However, since the Frege Archive contained two copies of a draft, Angelellis statement
that the notes were known only in the English version published by Jourdain
(KS, p.334) was misleading even on the basis of information available at the time
See the reprints in KS, pp.395442.
For example Resnik, Frege-Hilbert Controversy, and Kambartel, Frege und
die axiomatische Methode.
Sluga, Frege und die Typentheorie.
They appeared in English in van Heijenoort, From Frege to Gdel, pp.


The correspondents for whom there is a surviving exchange of some

extent and substantive content are Hugo Dingler, Hilbert, Edmund
Husserl, Jourdain, Giuseppe Peano, and Russell. In the cases of Louis
Couturat, A.R. Korselt, and Moritz Pasch, only the other partys letters are known. There are some other isolated letters of interest. Two
tantalizing lost correspondences are those with Leopold Lwenheim
and Ludwig Wittgenstein. About the first, Scholz and Bachmann reported in 1936 that Lwenheim had convinced Frege that a viable
formal arithmetic could be constructed (see p.158 of the volume under review). This correspondence might have helped to clear up some
of the obscurity surrounding the development of Freges philosophy of
arithmetic after he learned of Russells paradox.13 Wittgenstein and
Frege corresponded in the period 19131919 about criticisms by Wittgenstein of Freges views, and about the Tractatus. Wittgensteins letters seem to have come to Scholz (see p.265) but were among the materials destroyed. Wittgenstein seems to me to have been less than fully
cooperative with Scholzs efforts to obtain Freges letters; he wrote to
Scholz in 1936 that the letters he had were of purely personal, not philosophical, content and were of no value for a collection of Freges writings (ibid.). But it seems quite clear from what is known about Wittgensteins letters that Frege wrote some substantive replies. In any case,
neither the letters Wittgenstein may have been referring to nor any
others have been found in his posthumous papers.14
The correspondence does a lot to fill out our picture of Freges relations with the scientific and philosophical world of his time. Although
a number of notable figures were among the correspondents, the impression of Frege as somewhat isolated is not overcome. We even see
difficulties in getting his work published; for the essay Booles rechnende Logik und die Begriffschrift (first published in NS) we have rejection letters from three journals (pp.134, 254, 259). Wilhelm Koebner, publisher of the Grundlagen, offers to publish Funktion und Begriff
at Freges expense (pp.138139).15 Before Russell, those who attribute

On the closely related question of the development of his views on the concept
of extension, see my Some Remarks on Freges Conception of Extension (Essay
5 of this volume) and also below.
[Of course, letters of Frege to Wittgenstein were found after all. See the Postscript to this essay.]
Since the pamphlet was published instead by H. Pohle, perhaps Frege obtained
better terms.


to Freges writings an important influence on their own thinking are

minor figures. However, Moritz Pasch, who contributed importantly to
the axiomatization of geometry, acknowledges considerable kinship of
outlook with Frege. Peano addresses him with great politeness and
encourages him to contribute to his journal (pp.181186, 180, 193,
trans. pp. 112118, 111112, 125). Freges only publication in the
Rivista di matematica was his letter replying to Peanos review of
Grundgesetze (pp.181186, already reprinted in KS). It seems unlikely
that Frege would have been ready to participate in Peanos collective
enterprise, so long as his own conceptions were not better understood.
Peano asked Frege more than once to publish something that would help
someone accustomed to his own symbolism to understand Freges. Frege
evidently saw too many difficulties in the conceptual basis of Peanos
symbolism to do this.
In the remainder of this review, I shall point out some substantive
points where the correspondence gives new information and make
some general remarks about the correspondence with Russell.
Sense and Reference. In a letter to Husserl of May 24, 1891, Frege diagrams his theory of sense and reference, making clear that the distinction is to apply to concept words as well as proper names. This shows
that the application to concept words was not an afterthought after
On Sense and Reference, since otherwise the earliest text that is explicit on the point is Ausfhrungen ber Sinn und Bedeutung (NS,
pp.128136, trans. pp.118125), written after On Sense and Reference. The letter does not make clear, as Frege does in Ausfhrungen
(NS, p.129n., trans. p.119n.), that the sense of a concept word is itself
What is a proper Fregean view of multiply embedded oblique contexts has long been controversial. In a letter to Russell (December 28,
1902), Frege seems to commit himself to the interpretation of Carnap
and Church. He speaks there of indirect reference of the second degree (p.236, trans. p.154). He is considering the expression
the thought, that the thought, that all thoughts in the class M are
true, does not belong to the class M,16


On the context in which this example arises, see the discussion below of the
corrspondence with Russell.


in which the sentence All thoughts in the class M are true is in a doubly indirect context.17
In two letters to Husserl in 1906, Frege makes remarks relevant to
the question when two expressions have the same sense. In the first he
says that equipollent sentences express the same thought (p.102, trans.
p.67). Frege is commenting on a paper which Husserl had sent, in which
Husserl criticized a claim of Anton Martys to the effect that If A then
B and Not both A and not B agree in sense.18 Frege asserts that they
do, on the ground of their truth-functional equivalence.19
In a text written in the same year, Frege applies the term equipollence to the relation of two sentences A and B that obtains when
whoever recognizes the content of A as true must without further ado (ohne weiteres) also recognize that of B as true, and conversely, whoever recognizes the content of B as true must also
immediately (unmittelbar) recognize that of A, where it is presupposed that there is no difficulty in grasping the contents of A
and B. (NS, p.213, trans. p.197)
Here also he makes clear that equipollent sentences express the same
thought. In the second letter Frege gives another criterion:
In order to decide whether the sentence A expresses the same
thought as the sentence B, only the following method seems to me
to be possible, where I assume, that neither of the two sentences
contains a logically evident part (Sinnbestandteil). If both the assumption that the content of A is false and that of B is true, and
the assumption that the content of A is true and that of B false,
lead to a logical contradiction, which can be determined without
knowing whether the content of A or B is true or false, and without using other than purely logical laws, then nothing can belong to the content of A, insofar as it can be judged true or false,
which would not also belong to the content of B. . . . Equally,
under our assumption, nothing can belong to the content of B,

I am indebted to Terence Parsons for pointing out to me the significance of this

References are given in the editors notes 2 and 4 to this letter. The passage of
Husserl occurs in Aufstze und Rezensionen, 18901910, p.255 (hereafter cited
as AR).
Cf. Gedankengefge, pp.39, 40, 42, 45 (KS, pp.381, 382, 383, 387).


insofar as it can be judged true or false, which would not also

belong to the content of A. (pp. 105106, trans. p.70)
Note that the criterion cited from NS is epistemic, that of the letter to
Husserl logical. Given the proximity in date of the two texts, it is natural
to conjecture that they were meant to agree. Given the difficulty of deciding questions of logical derivability, this is very questionable, although
cases where such difficulties arise might be said to be cases in which there
is difficulty in grasping the contents of the sentences involved. But if Frege
had that in mind, he must surely have recognized that his criterion in the
passage from NS would be of limited application.20
The criterion in the letter to Husserl seems to me very difficult to reconcile with the several places in Freges writings where the two sides of
simple arithmetical identities such as 2 + 3 = 5 are said to differ in sense.
It seems not to be a matter of his having given up an earlier view. Such
passages occur in the Russell correspondence in 19021903 (pp. 232,
235, 240, trans. pp.149150, 152, 157158) and in a letter to Paul F.
Linke of 1919 (p.156, trans. p.98).
I do not believe that Frege has a consistent position about identity
of sense. Clearly some of the different views that have arisen later are
already suggested by him. There is no direct evidence that he saw the
tensions between them. But clearly the two criteria of 1906 are formulated with some care; in the logical criterion of the letter to Husserl,
Frege evidently wanted to avoid saying that if A is logically true (or
known to be so), then the conjunction of A and B expresses the same
thought as B, for any B.
Frege and Husserl. The exchange of letters between Frege and Husserl
in 1891 reveals something of how they looked at each others views at
that time.21 However, the exchange does not directly touch on psychologism and therefore sheds little light on the most controversial question
about the Frege-Husserl relationship, how far Husserls turn away from
psychologism may have been due to Freges influence.
Freges opening letter contains an exposition on sense and reference.
In view of the importance in Husserls philosophy of a sense-reference
scheme paralleling Freges, one could be momentarily tempted to sup20

Cf. van Heijenoort, Frege on Sense-identity.

Of their later correspondence, in 1906, Husserls letters are lost (see pp. 105,




pose that Husserl learned the distinction from this source. This is evidently not so; Frege is commenting on a similar scheme in papers Husserl had sent him.22
Anyone who has pondered Husserls relation to Frege will be struck
and probably shocked by the remark about Frege which Husserl wrote
to Scholz in 1936 (best left untranslated): Er galt damals allgemein als
ein scharfsinniger, aber weder als Mathematiker noch als Philosoph
fruchtbringender Sonderling.23
This appears to express Husserls own view in his old age, but in
earlier times he had expressed himself more warmly about Frege; see
the praise of the Grundlagen in his 1891 letter (p.99, trans. pp.6465)
or the recommendation of Funktion und Begriff in a review published
in 1903 (AR, p.202). The editor of the Frege-Husserl correspondence,
Gottfried Gabriel, suggests that Husserls remark to Scholz implies a
refusal to acknowledge a significant influence of Frege on him.24

These included Husserls review of Schrders Vorlesungen ber die Algebra der
Logik and Der Folgerungskalkl und die Inhaltslogik, both reprinted in AR. See
for example the passage from the review, AR, pp.1112, cited by J.N. Mohanty in
his discussion of this issue in Husserl and Frege: A New Look at Their Relationship, p.53. That Frege is not the source for Husserls making this distinction was
remarked on by Dagfinn Fllesdal, An Introduction to Phenomenology for Analytic Philosophers, p.421. Professor Fllesdal informs me that the same remark
occurred in an earlier version of the paper published in Norwegian in 1962.
Cited on p.92. For the full text of the letter, see Veraart, op. cit., p.104.
However, in 1935 Andrew Osborn asked Husserl about Freges influence on the
abandonment of psychologism; Husserl is reported to have concurred but also
to have mentioned Bolzano. See Schuhmann, Husserl-Chronik, p.463. I owe this
reference to Fllesdal.
I do not know whether the question of the reverse influence has been discussed.
One could not expect much, in view of the maturity of Freges views when Husserl
began to publish significant work. Husserls sending Frege his review of Schrder
seems to have stimulated the latter to carry through his own plan to write a critique of Schrder (see p.94 and Frege, Kritische Beleuchtung einiger Punkte in E.
Schrders Vorlesungen ber die Algebra der Logik, in KS). Possibly Husserl stimulated Frege to clarify his position on the issue of the time between Inhaltslogik
and Umfangslogik (roughly, the intensional and extensional point of view); see
Ausfhrungen, NS, pp.128136, trans. pp.118125. Husserl was basically intensionalist (see Der Folgerungskalkl und die Inhaltslogik); Frege gave points
to both sides but is of course at bottom extensionalist. (On this aspect of Husserl,
I am indebted to my student Nathaniel S. Heiner.)
A more speculative question is whether Frege read the Logische Untersuchungen and whether it may have influenced his late writings. So far as I know, there is
no direct evidence that he knew the book. The title and a little of the content of his


Apart from the question of influence, there are undoubtedly important convergences between Frege and Husserl. But one should keep in
mind their limitations. In the 1891 letter, Husserl expresses regret that
he has not had time to form a clear picture of the nature and extent of
your original Begriffschrift (p.99, trans. p.64). In my opinion, Husserl never shows a grasp of quantificational logic and its significance,
although his program of a pure theory of manifolds can be read as
prophetic of model theory.25 Russells On denoting of 1905 is in this
respect in advance of everything Husserl wrote on the philosophy of
logic. More fundamentally, in spite of his good opinion of Funktion
und Begriff, Husserl could have benefited from greater appreciation of
the treatment of predication that goes with Freges theory of functions
and objects.26
last series of published essays are suggestive. The thought goes more deeply than
Freges earlier writings into the relation of thoughts to ideas and the mind generally; more specifically, it takes account of indexical expressions, which Frege had
not done in the earlier writings, but which Husserl discusses in the Logische Untersuchungen (1st Investigation, 26; hereafter cited as LU). However, the Logik of
1897 (NS, pp.137163, trans. pp.126151) contains both an extended discussion
of the relation of thoughts to the subjective and some remarks about indexicals. It
is evidently a prototype of Freges Logische Untersuchungen.
Moreover, Frege could also have borrowed this title from a book of Trendelenburg, of whose existence he probably knew; see Sluga, Gottlob Frege, p.49.
LU, Prolegomena, 6971.
Cf. the telling criticisms of Husserls treatment of predication in Ernst Tugendhat, Vorlesungen zur Einfhrung in die sprachanalytische Philosophie, esp. lectures
9 and 10. This admirable and lucid book deserves to be better known among
English-speaking philosophers. [The publication of an English translation does not
seem to have made it much better known.]
Something like Freges unsaturatedness occurs in another place in the Logische Untersuchungen, in Husserls conception of nonindependent parts (3rd Investigation, 8 ff.). This conception is applied to the theory of meaning when
Husserl discusses nonindependent meanings (4th Investigation, 56), where
Husserl even uses the Fregean term ergnzungsbedrftig (vol. 2/1, p.309). Husserl
seems to miss construing such meanings as functions, because according to his
general conception a nonindependent content is something that can only exist as
part of a larger whole (ibid., p.311). But it should be pointed out that in talking of
senses Frege also used the language of whole and part. Since for Husserl a nonindependent part is connected with the other parts by a law (ibid.; cf. 3rd Inv. 10),
there seems to be an intrinsic correspondence between nonindependent parts and
functions. When the Polish logicians such as Ajdukiewicz came to develop Husserls conception of logical grammar into what is now called categorial grammar,
they readily interpreted certain categories in functional terms.


With respect to the theory of sense and reference, we should keep in

mind that to make such a distinction was not in itself especially original
or significant. Certainly the parallels between Frege and Husserl go further, but they also have their limits. For Frege, it is a fundamental postulate that the reference of a whole expression should be a function of the
references of its parts. Sense and reference are connected by this, in that
it requires that in oblique contexts the reference of an expression should
be its ordinary sense. The latter idea does not occur clearly in Husserl,
and certainly not in this systematic context. Although Husserl seems to
have viewed meanings as composing functionally, he did not have the
same conception of reference (for him, Gegenstand), and moreover he
did not make the same intimate connection between reference and truth.
The Correspondence with Russell. As one would expect already from
the identity of the correspondents this correspondence is of unique value.
Of Freges extended correspondences, it is much the best preserved.27 It
begins in a dramatic manner, with the letter in which Russell informs
Frege of the contradiction in his system. Freges immediate recognition
that the paradox had shaken his system and his whole approach to the
foundations of arithmetic makes the correspondence unique in another
respect. It is characteristic of Frege to expound his views in letters in a
somewhat magisterial fashion. Though this tone is not absent from the
letters to Russell, he is here more often tentative and exploratory.
The paradox and ideas for resolving it are the central theme of the
correspondence. However, many of the main ideas of both are discussed.
In the philosophy of logic, we have a confrontation of the mature Frege
with a Russell who is taking his first steps beyond the position of the
Principles of Mathematics. Frege criticizes Russells formulations with
respect to use and mention, function and object, and sense and reference.
Only about the second does he appear to convince Russell, and indeed
that is the issue among the three where Russells mature position is closest to Freges.

Russells letters were among those given by Alfred Frege to the Preussische Staatsbibliothek (see note 6 above). Russell gave Freges letters to Scholz, who responded
to Russells request for copies by sending him photocopies (see WB, p.200), which
then survived although the originals were lost.
In keeping with its importance, the correspondence is provided with an extended analytical introduction and especially helpful notes by the editor, Christian


Russell states the paradox for classes by saying that there is no class
as a whole (als Ganzes) of classes that are not elements of themselves.
From this I conclude that under certain circumstances a definable set
does not form a whole (p.211, trans. p.131). He is very likely thinking in terms of the distinction made in the Principles between a class
as many and a class as one;28 this seems clear from what he says
when he returns to the matter in the letter of July 10, 1902:
A class which consists of more than one object is in the first instance not one object, but many. Now an ordinary class does
form one whole; for example the soldiers form the army. But this
seems to me not to be a necessity of thought; however it is essential if one is to use the class as a proper name. Therefore I think
I may say without contradiction that certain classes (more exactly, those defined by quadratic forms)29 are only multiplicities
(Vielheiten) and do not form wholes at all. Therefore false propositions and even contradictions arise when one views them as
unities. (pp.219220, trans. p.137)
In the background here are surely Cantors informal explanations of
the concept of set, for example the definition of 1895 of a set as any
collection M into a whole of definite, well-distinguished objects of our
intuition or our thought.30 The term Vielheiten is of course just the
term that Cantor uses in his own discussion of the paradoxes in his
1899 correspondence with Dedekind,31 and Russells remark that paradoxical class abstracts define mere multiplicities that do not form unities parallels Cantors own statements in the correspondence about
inconsistent multiplicities. It is very doubtful that in 1902 Russell
knew the Cantor-Dedekind correspondence, although a couple of years
later he must have learned something of its content from Jourdain. The
theory of limitation of size discussed by Russell in 1906 is, I think,
Cantors proposal of 1899 filtered through Jourdains understanding
of it.32

Russell, Principles of Mathematics, pp.68, 76, 102, and elsewhere.

See p.215 (trans. p.133) and Russell, Principles of Mathematics, p.104.
Cantor, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, p.282.
Ibid., pp.443447.
See Russell, On Some Difficulties. In his discussion of the theory of limitation
of size, Russell refers to papers of Jourdain which contain explicit references to
Cantors letters.



Freges reply (July 28) contrasts a class with a system, that is, a
whole consisting of parts, in much the same terms as in his 1906 draft
Uber Schoenflies: Die logischen Paradoxien der Mengenlehre, but in
some respects more explicitly and vividly.33 Russell declares himself
convinced by Freges criticism (August 8), and indeed the conception of a
class as consisting of its elements does disappear from the surface of Russells thought on the subject. But characteristically he says:
I still lack altogether the direct intuition, the direct insight into
what you call Werthverlauf; it is necessary for logic, but for me
it remains a justified hypothesis. (p.226, trans. pp.143144)
It is fairly far along in the correspondence (Freges letter of October 20,
1902) that Frege proposes the solution to the paradox that he presents
in the appendix to volume 2 of Grundgesetze, which has come to be
known as Freges Way Out. Russell seems to find it intuitively unconvincing, though in his first reply he says it is probably correct (p.233,
trans. p.151).34 He raises some questions (pp.233, 238, trans. pp.151,
155) but the discussion of the proposal is not extensive. Soon Russell is
pursuing another line (see below). One could perhaps sum up Russells
unease by saying that intuitively the extension F() of the concept F
should have as its elements exactly those objects x for which F(x)
holds, but the Way Out allows that F( F()) hold, but F() is never an
element of itself.35

NS, pp.196197. trans. p.181. Cf. Essay 5 of this volume, pp.120121.

Cf. Russell, Principles of Mathematics, p.522.
The editor (p.238n.4) calls attention to a related difficulty that Frege answers in
the appendix to volume 2 of Grundgesetze. This is that two concepts would under
the Way Out have the same extension, and therefore the same number, although
one more object (namely its extension) falls under one than the other. As concerns
number, Frege replies (2:264) that he defines number as the number of the extension. He seems to say that n() is really the number belonging to the concept
- () and not that of (). That seems to me to concede the objection rather
than answer it, since what one can define in the system is the number of elements
of the extension of a concept, and this may not be the number belonging to the
concept, for example in the sense of the Grundlagen: if we were to define the
number belonging to the concept F as n F(), then the Way Out allows the existence of F and G which have the same number, but which are not gleichzahlig.
Could this consideration have contributed to the disappearance of the Way
Out from Freges writings after 1904?
The same difficulty can arise in formulations of set theory in which the range of
the first-order variables includes proper classes that cannot be elements of sets or



More prominent in the letters are ideas related to the simple theory
of types.36 Today, that theory seems to us a very simple and natural
way of avoiding the set-theoretic paradoxes, and the interpretation of
superficially different systems of set theory draws on the same hierarchical conception of sets or classes. It is perhaps something of a puzzle
that the simple theory of types was so slow to emerge clearly from the
research and discussion prompted by the paradoxes. The idea of it occurred to Russell very early on (letter of August 8, 1902; cf. Principles,
appendix B), and not only to Russell: the same idea is set forth in a
letter to Frege by Alwin Korselt in 1903 (p.142, trans. pp.8687).
There seems to have been some difficulty on the part of both Frege
and Russell in actually envisaging a full theory on this basis. Frege interpreted the proposal as implying that classes are second-class improper
objects, because they cannot be arguments of all first-level functions
(p.228, trans. p.145); cf. Grundgesetze, 2:254255, trans. pp.128129).
Both parties seem to have had in mind at this stage what is now called a
cumulative theory. Particularly when one considers functions as well as
predicates, Frege found the complexity of the hierarchy daunting.
Frege assumes that the distinction between a function and its course
of values will be maintained in such a theory. There would then be an
elaborate hierarchy of objects. Functions would have to be of different
types because of the types of the objects that they take as arguments.
Clearly Frege assumed that quantification over functions was still needed,
so that the theory would have an additional complexity over and above
that of modern formulations of the simple theory of types, which (in
their extensional forms) either replace quantification of function and
predicate places entirely by quantification over classes or functions-asobjects, or quantify function or predicate places directly and thus bypass and step from a concept to its extension, or from a function to its
course of values. The latter type of theory could be seen as a development of Freges basic logic without the addition of extensions, by allowing functions of arbitrary levels, thus iterating Freges own step from
first- to second-level functions.
Such a theory recalls Russells later idea of a no-class theory, and
indeed something like it is the idea that distracts Russell from Freges
classes. For example the class {x: x is a proper class} would have number 0 although the predicate x is a proper class is true of something.
Cf. Sluga, Frege und die Typentheorie.


Way Out. On May 24, 1903, he writes that he thinks he has discovered
that classes are completely superfluous (p.241, trans. p.158). However, Russell uses function symbols without their argument places and
does not seem to have in mind the hierarchy of levels of functions that
would be required. The result is that this proposal is shot down by Frege
in his reply (pp.243245, trans. pp.160162), which, since it was made
a year and a half later, finds Russell already convinced (p. 248, trans.
p. 166). What one might call Fregean type theory (i.e., th order
predicate logic, or, if one wishes, a corresponding theory of functions)
does not really come to the consciousness of either correspondent.37
We have not yet considered Russells own reason for rejecting at
this point his first proposal of a type theory. It is well known that later
he thought that the introduction of the ramified theory was necessary
in order to handle the semantic paradoxes. In the correspondence, he
presents an interesting paradox which is also stated in the same connection in the Principles (p. 527). Let m be a class of propositions.
Then p(p m p) expresses their logical product. This proposition can belong to the class m or not. Let w be the class of propositions
of this form which do not belong to the associated class m, i.e.,
w = {p : m[p = q(q m q). p m]}.
Then if r is the proposition p(p w p), one has r w if and only if
r w (p.230, trans. p.147).
This paradox can certainly be stated in a form of the simple theory
of types that allows quantification of sentence places. The latter can do


Alonzo Church in A Formulation of the Simple Theory of Types gives what

seems to be the first precise formulation of a simple theory of types in which, for
any types and , there is a type of functions from type into type . Church
avoids the complication of unsaturatedness by using functional abstraction. In effect he replaces quantification over what Frege would have called higher-level
functions by quantification over objects in a hierarchy of types.
It is well known that in his published writings Frege confines himself to firstand second-level functions, with very few cases of individual third-level functions.
However, in a draft reply to a letter of Jourdain of January 15, 1914, Frege speaks
of his own, Theorie der Funktionen erster, zweiter u. s. w. Stufe (p.126, trans.
p.78). The u. s. w. is not put into his mouth by Jourdain, who wrote of your
theory of functions erster, bzw. zweiter Stufe . But it is probable that the idea of
such iteration comes from Russell; the context is a comparison of Freges conception of levels of functions with Principia.


much of the work of a predicate of truth.38 However, to obtain the

usual semantical paradoxes the language must be able to express some
such notion as the relation of expression between a sentence or an utterance and a proposition. For example, one might formulate What I
am now saying is false as p(My present utterance expresses p. p).
Our present paradox is not exactly a semantical paradox and involves no such notion. To state it, all that is required is that sentences
be treated as denoting objects of some type such that classes of objects
of that type can be formed. Thus it seems to be the conception of sentences as standing for propositions that led Russell to formulate the
paradox and to turn away at this point from the simple theory of
types. It is not surprising that Frege, in replying, is led into a discussion
of sense and reference (pp.231232, trans. pp.149150).
But in order to obtain the contradiction, one has to assume (as Russell admits in his next letter, p.233, trans. p.151) that if p(p m p)
is the same proposition as p(p n p), then m = n. Outside the context of a theory of propositional identity, this is not evident; Russells
thinking it so may have rested on confusion of propositions with sentences. One can ask what happens to the paradox in a Fregean interpretation where the language is completely extensional and sentences
denote truth-values. In that case m and n are just classes of truth-values,
and Russells assumption is refuted by taking m empty and n containing only the True.39
Frege does not make this reply; he takes the more interesting interpretation where m is still a class of propositions (for him, thoughts).
He points out that the phrase the thought that all the thoughts in the
class m are true involves using m in an indirect context. But then
what would be a constituent of the thought expressed by a sentence
containing the phrase would be not the class m, but the sense of an ap38

Cf. F. P. Ramseys famous remarks on truth in his Facts and Propositions,

A similar argument shows that the assumption can be refuted if we construe
propositions as sets of possible worlds.
In an obscure passage in his letter of May 24, 1903, Russell seems to take the
assumption to be refuted by a theorem stated by Frege in the appendix to Grundgesetze, vol. 2 (p.261, trans. pp.132133). It is not clear how Russell understands
it, since he uses a notation for identity (between what he usually takes to be propositions) which is explained in the letter in a quite different context. It seems that
the purport of Freges result is limited to his own interpretation of sentences as
denoting truth-values and that Russell does not grasp this.


propriate name of m (p. 236, trans. p. 153). Russells proposition r

then involves a doubly embedded indirect context (see above). So Frege
does not accept Russells formulation.
Russell, with his belief that objects can be constituents of a proposition, is not much moved by Freges objection. It is, however, so far as I
know, Freges most explicit comment on the possibility of quantifying
into an indirect context. In this light, the subsequent history of the paradox is ironical. Russells assumption is plausible if ones criterion of
propositional identity is refined. Such criteria are given by Church in
what he called Alternatives (0) and (1) for a logic of sense and denotation, which he constructed on the basis of Fregean views of quantifying
in and embedded indirect contexts agreeing with those on which
Freges objection is based. But then this very paradox suggested derivations of contradictions in Churchs first formulations.40
On sense and reference, it is not surprising that the correspondents
did not understand each other very well. Russell already had the basic
intuitions which distinguish his view of such matters from Freges, and
he held to them in the face of Freges thorough criticism, but he did not
yet have some of the ideas that would be needed for an effective defense. As elsewhere, Frege argues from the substitutivity of identity to
the conclusion that the truth-value, and not the thought expressed,
must be the reference of a sentence. To reply effectively to this argument, Russell would have to distinguish proper names from descriptions and then apply his analysis of descriptions. The former step is
really already present in the Principles,41 but Russell does not really
bring it to bear in the exchange with Frege, although he does argue in his
last letter on the matter (December 12, 1904, p.251, trans. p.169) that
for a simple proper name there is no distinction of sense and reference.
But the theory of descriptions came to him only after the correspondence
Frege took up the issue once more, in a draft reply to a letter of Jourdain of January 15, 1914. Jourdain asked


Church, A Formulation of the Logic of Sense and Denotation. For the paradox
see Myhill, Problems Arising in the Formalization of Intensional Logic, and
Anderson, Some New Axioms for the Logic of Sense and Denotation: Alternative (0). Anderson shows that the difficulty still affects Churchs revised version
of Alternative (0); see Church, Outline of a Revised Formulation, pp.149153.
In the discussion of denoting, ch. 5.


whether, in view of what seems to be a fact, namely, that Russell

has shown that propositions can be analyzed into a form which
only assumes that a name has a Bedeutung & not a Sinn, you
would hold that Sinn was merely a psychological property of a
name. (p.126, trans. p.78)
In reply Frege gives two arguments. First, in order for us to understand
sentences that we have never heard, the sense of a sentence must be constructed of parts corresponding to the words. But the part of a thought
corresponding to a name like Aetna cannot be the mountain Aetna itself. For then each individual piece of solidified lava, which is a part of
Mt. Aetna, would also be part of the thought, that Mt. Aetna is higher
than Mt. Vesuvius (p.127, trans. p.79). This remark is striking for the
literalness with which Frege takes the idea of the parts of a thought; it is
a general principle for him that a part of a part is a part of the whole.42
The second argument gives a case where two names of the same
mountain have been learned in such a way that the truth of the identity
statement with the two names is far from obvious. This is a case of the
well-known identity puzzle43 where the terms of the identity are undoubtedly proper names. Frege uses an epistemic criterion of sense identity like that of the text of 1906 (NS, p.213, trans. p.197) discussed
The sense of the sentence Ateb is at least 5000 meters high is different from the sense of the sentence Afla is at least 5000 meters
high. Someone who takes the former to be true by no means has
to take the latter to be true. (p.128, trans. p.80)44
Russell could have replied to the first argument by saying that the constituents of a proposition are not parts in as literal a sense as Frege is
speaking of. The second poses what is even now one of the greatest

NS, p.197, trans. p.181; the context is a discussion of the view that a set consists of its elements. See my Some Remarks on Freges Conception of Extension,
p.268 [Essay 5, p.120 in this volume].
ber Sinn und Bedeutung, pp.2526 (KS, pp.143144).
It should be remarked that probably Freges discussion of this issue was never
sent to Jourdain; what is probably the second draft of Freges reply to Jourdains
letter (dated January 28, 1914) is devoted entirely to Freges difficulties with Principia Mathematica, which concerned use and mention, the notion of a variable,
and the notion of a propositional function. It seems that Frege was prevented by
the obscurities he found from reading very far into the book.


difficulties for the view that proper names are directly referential. Russell would no doubt appeal to his view that ordinary proper names are
not logically proper names. Nowadays we might begin by distinguishing an epistemic from other notions of sense.45
Other Points on Number and Extension. The publication of the German text of Freges notes to Jourdains article gives me the occasion to
amplify and to some extent correct my remarks46 on Freges statement
in the notes that the class is something derived, whereas in the concept we have something primitive.47 The German for something primitive is etwas Ursprngliches, which unlike Jourdains English does
not suggest the contrast of primitive and defined. I failed to notice a
text of 1896 where Frege had already spoken of extensions as derived.
Commenting on Peanos view of classes, he says:
For him, the class appears at first as it does for Boole as something
primitive (etwas Ursprngliches), which is not to be reduced further. But in 17 of the Introduction I find a designation x Px
for a class of objects which satisfy certain conditions, which have
certain properties. The class appears here, therefore, relative to
the concept as derived (das Abgeleitete), it appears as extension
of a concept, and I can declare myself quite in accord with that,
although I do not much like the notation x Px.48
That classes (extensions) are derived from concepts would certainly be
implicit in Freges conception of them from the beginning. Apart from
the above citation, it is pointed to fairly explicitly in the Grundgesetze
(1:23; 2:150). What is added in 1910 is the emphasis on a distinction
between fundamental logic, which does not depend on the concept
of extension, and a further-developed logic, that is also derived, to
which arithmetic belongs. Even this is expressed tentatively: We can
perhaps regard Arithmetic as a further developed Logic.
The sense in which classes are derived seems primarily ontological.
It seems that in 1910 Frege did not have an exact conception of the


See for example Salmon, Review of Linsky, Names and Descriptions.

See Essay 5 of this volume, p.125.
Jourdain, Development, p.251 (KS, p.339, or WB, p.286. The German is on
p.121 of WB.
ber die Begriffschrift des Herrn Peano, p.368 (KS, p.225).



implications of this for the status of the laws of classes and therefore of
the logistic thesis, but the logistic thesis is given a weaker sense than he
gave it before he learned of Russells paradox.
The picture of the late development of Freges views is somewhat
clouded by a rather mysterious draft of a letter to Karl Zsigmondy reacting to an address given by the latter in 1918. The form is that of a genetic
explanation of a conception of a cardinal number as a class of numerically equivalent sets. But Frege plays along with the idea that a number
attaches to a heap, the sort of conception vehemently criticized in the
Grundlagen. The notion of class as extension of a concept, and the
doubts about that notion expressed about the same time in Aufzeichnungen fr Ludwig Darmstaedter,49 are not mentioned.
I am not sure what to make of this text. It is probably unfinished.
My conjecture is that he is presenting somewhat ironically an explanation of an illusion, which possibly he intended to go on to expose more
directly. The view Frege develops is evidently suggested to him by what
is expressed by Zsigmondy in a passage of his address cited by the editor, but there are differences.50
An ironical note appears at the beginning; Frege says that his efforts
to clarify the concept of number apparently ended in complete lack of
success, which, however, caused the question not to rest in his mind
although I am, so to speak, officially no longer concerned with
the matter.51 And this work, which has gone on in me independently of my will, has suddenly and surprisingly shed full light
on the question. (p.270, trans. p.176)
In the next paragraph, the idea that number is a heap is set forth in
an ironical tone. The text ends as follows:

NS, pp.273277, esp. pp.276277, trans. pp.256257. Cf. Essay 5 of this volume, pp.127128.
50 P.269n.3. Where Zsigmondy talks of sets (Mengen), Frege talks of heaps (Haufen).
And Zsigmondy does not take the last step of dropping the distinction between a
number and a class of numerically equivalent sets.
It would be instructive to confront Freges draft with the full text of Zsigmondys address, but I have not succeeded in obtaining it. [See now the Postscript to
this essay.]
51 [Here Frege doubtless alludes to his retirement, which occurred officially on his
70th birthday, November 8, 1918. See Kreiser, Frege, p.519.]


What more do we know of numbers in general than that we can

reidentify the same number and that we can distinguish different
numbers. The same holds for our classes. Therefore we are strongly
inclined to say: Our classes are numbers, and numbers are classes
of heaps. Therefore we drop the distinction of the numbers from
our classes. With that, do we not have everything we need? (p.271,
trans. p.178)
The last question, I suggest, is also to be understood ironically.52


I am indebted to Dagfinn Fllesdal and Wilfried Sieg for valuable comments on

an earlier version of this review.


Certainly the most important development concerning Freges correspondence in the period since the present essay was written is the discovery and publication of Freges letters to Ludwig Wittgenstein. A lot
has been written about Wittgensteins relations with Frege and the influence on him of Freges work, and I will not attempt to summarize it
or add to it. Wittgenstein had had more than one meeting with Frege
between 1911 and 1913, although testimony differs about the time and
circumstances of the first meeting.1 But the earliest of the lost letters
that Scholz had acquired is dated October 22, 1913, and the earliest of
the surviving letters of Frege to Wittgenstein is dated October 11,
1914, when Wittgenstein was already in the Austrian army and serving
at the front in Poland.
I will not comment on these letters in any detail. Those written during the war bring to light Freges nationalism and support of the German and Austrian war effort, as well as his pleasure that Wittgenstein
was able to carry on some scientific work under the conditions of fighting in a war.2 The later letters express Freges reaction to the manuscript of the Tractatus. He evidently had difficulty making his way past
the opening sentences of that work; he misses any argument, does not
find their sense at all clear, and attempts to explicate them using his
own conceptual apparatus.

See McGuinness, Wittgenstein, pp.7376.

On the first point, it is known that Frege was up through the end of the war a
supporter of the National Liberal party, a conservative but mainstream party in
Imperial Germany. Freges political views in his last years, expressed in his notorious diary, are another matter.



What is striking to a reader who knows Frege almost entirely through

his writings is the great respect and friendship that Frege shows toward
Wittgenstein. It is likely that during their conversations before the war
Frege recognized Wittgensteins gifts, and he could not have been unaware of his aristocratic origin. But it was surely significant to him that
Wittgenstein took his philosophical work seriously, and that they were
able to discuss it at length.3 That was probably a rare occurrence for
Frege. He may have viewed Wittgenstein as something like a pupil, who
might carry on his own work. Consider the following quite moving
passage from a letter of September 16, 1919:
I hold that the prospect of our coming to understand one another in the domain of philosophy is not so slight as you seem to.
I combine with that the hope that you will one day come to the
defense of what I believe I have come to know in the domain of
logic. In long conversations with you, I have become acquainted
with a man who, like me, has searched after truth, partly on other
paths [from mine]. And just that lets me hope to find in you
something that will amplify what I have found and perhaps correct it. Thus while I try to teach you to see with my eyes, I expect
to learn to see with your eyes. I dont give up so easily the hope
of an understanding with you.
The present essay ends with some comments on a draft of a letter
to Karl Zsigmondy, apparently in response to Zsigmondys inaugural

Wittgensteins forwardness contrasts with the attitude that Rudolf Carnap expressed to Gnther Patzig in 1967. Patzig had asked if Carnap, when he returned
to Jena after the war and after reading Freges principal writings, had sought Frege
out and, in particular, let him know how important he found his writings. Carnap
replied that this had not occurred to him and that he would have felt it as presumption for an unknown doctoral student to visit a Herr Geheimrat and as it
were tap him on the shoulder and say how important he found his works. That
was just not done. (From a letter of Patzig to Lothar Kreiser, November 15, 1988,
quoted in Kreiser, Frege, p.277n.5.) In fact Frege had the title Hofrat, not the more
prestigious Geheimrat.)
To judge from his reported response to Patzig, Carnap may have misjudged
Freges character. The eminent scholar Gersom Scholem attended Freges Begriffschrift lectures a few years later and was much impressed by Freges completely
unpompous manner and its contrast with that of the philosopher Rudolf Eucken.
(See Scholem, Walter Benjamin, p.66, quoted in Kreiser, op. cit., p.469.)


address as Rector of the University of Vienna in October 1918.4 At the

time I was unable to obtain Zsigmondys text. Reading it since has not led
me to change what is written above. However, I will note that the genetic
style of Freges discussion, a style that is otherwise uncongenial to him,
could well have been prompted by the fact that Zsigmondy engages in a
brief speculative discussion of the origin of the number concept.5 However, he puts such considerations within what he calls the psychological
standpoint and distinguishes that from the mathematical-logical standpoint, which is the context in which he sets his somewhat Cantorian
explication of the notion of cardinal number that seems to be the more
direct object of Freges ironic commentary.6

Zum Wesen des Zahlbegriffs und der Mathematik. I wish to thank Professor
Friedrich Kambartel for providing me with a copy of this text. It has occurred to
me that Frege may never have intended to send an actual letter.
Ibid., pp.4344.
Ibid., pp.4748; cf. the quotation in WB, p.269n.3.


1. Introduction
It is well known that Brentano classified psychical phenomena as
presentations, judgments, and phenomena of love and hate. Presentations are presentations of objects, although their objects may not exist.
One might say roughly that presentations are the vehicles of content,
but a presentation is not propositional in form and does not embody
any stance of the subject toward the content in question. Judgments
are affirmations or denials of presentations. Thus they are based on
presentations but are not a species of them. It is of course judgments
that are true or false. Phenomena of the third class are also based on
presentations, and like judgments also embody a stance of the subject
toward the content in question. Brentano sometimes characterizes this
as Gefallen oder Mifallen, which might be rendered roughly as a proor con-attitude. Such attitudes can also be correct or incorrect, an idea
that is the starting point of Brentanos ethics. However, phenomena of
love and hate will play almost no role in what follows. The threefold
classification is presented in Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint
in 1874 and Brentano held to it for the remainder of his career.
The common-sense idea of a judgment is that it is an instance of
someone judging something; where what is at issue is truth or falsity,
the agent comes to a belief one way or the other.1 It should follow that
a judgment would incorporate what Frege called force, in this case the
agents stance toward the truth or falsity of the proposition judged to
be one or the other. But it follows that many sentences that occur as parts

It is this case that Brentano calls judgment, although in ordinary language judging is often appraisal as to value, as for example the judging of figure-skating or
other performances.


of other sentences, for example antecedents of conditionals, do not

express judgments. Suppose that Smith judges:
(1) If it rains tomorrow, the game will not be played.
In a typical case, where Smith is uncertain about tomorrows weather,
he does not judge that it will rain tomorrow; even if it happens that he
does, (1) does not express such a judgment.
Freges view of this situation was an early version of a view that became standard in the twentieth century, although it has been subjected to
many challenges. According to him, one should distinguish judgments
from what he calls thoughts, which are roughly what is commonly called
propositions. A thought does not embody any force; to say that a sentence
expresses a certain thought says nothing about whether someone uttering it takes that thought to be true. In a suitable context, (1) combines
two thoughts, that it will rain tomorrow and that the game will not be
played, in order to form a single compound thought. Smith judges that
thought to be true, but he makes no judgment at all concerning the two
thoughts of which it is composed.
By a propositional object I mean an object that (according to one
or another theory) is expressed or designated by a sentence. Judgments
might be taken as one kind of such objects. Freges thoughts and the
propositions of the early Russell and of many other English-language
writers are another. One might add states of affairs (Sachverhalte) or
situations, as well as facts. In much logical literature from early modern
times into the twentieth century, judgments are the principal propositional object, but the term has significant ambiguities. The suggestion
derived from common sense is that there is a judgment only if an agent
judges something. That would suggest viewing a judgment as an event
and thus doubtfully a propositional object at all. But logical writers
used the term to do the work of the term proposition, with the effect
of detaching the idea of a judgment from judging or assertion.
In contrast, Brentano holds consistently to the conception of a judgment as the outcome of an actual judging and thus as embodying a
commitment as to truth or falsity. Judgments are thus clearly distinguished from the thoughts or propositions that, on another view, might
be their constituents but about whose truth or falsity the agent takes
no stance, such as the antecedent and consequent of (1). Judgments appear to be the only propositional objects Brentano admits.


Brentano differs in this respect from some of his principal pupils,

in particular Marty, Meinong, and Husserl.2 In later writings, written
after he had adopted the position called reism, according to which an
object of thought has to be a Reales or a thing (something concrete),
Brentano argues frequently against propositions or states of affairs.
However, as we shall see in 6, he did accept them from the 1880s until his adoption of reism. In his late phase Brentano is probably best
interpreted as rejecting even judgments as propositional objects, in the
sense of objects expressed by sentences. What he admits are subjects
who affirm or deny presentations.3 However, we will for much of our
discussion abstract from Brentanos later reism. It will be discussed
in 5.
Brentano argues for his view that judgment is a distinctive form of
mental phenomenon, and thus a distinctive intentional relation to an
object, in chapters 6 and 7 of the 1874 Psychology. Much of the argument is directed at theories of judgment current at the time, in particular the idea that goes back to Aristotle that judgment consists of combination or separation of presentations. Brentanos underlying idea is
that the object of a presentation can be the object of a judgment affirming or denying it. Since a presentation need not be a combination or
separation, judgments, such as simple existential judgments, affirming
or denying presentations that are not are counterexamples to the Aristotelian account.4
According to Brentano, judgments are affirmative or negative, so
that negation belongs to the judgment and not to the structure of the
presentation judged. This is another place at which Brentano disagrees
with Frege, where Freges view has become the received view in later
times. Brentanos is a traditional view, and against it Frege argued
forcefully that negation is not a mode of judgment but belongs to the
content, so that a sentence like it will not rain tomorrow expresses a
thought that is the negation of the thought expressed by it will rain

For a wide-ranging treatment of judgment in the Brentano school, see Mulligan,

3 It might seem that the idea of judgments as events, i.e., someones judging, would
be congenial to Brentanos reism. However, I have not found a place where he admits events as Realia.
4 Brentano summarizes his argument in 8 of chapter 7 (Von der Klassifikation,
pp.6465, trans. pp.221222). I am indebted here to Kai Hauser.


tomorrow.5 A judgment that it will not rain tomorrow does not differ
in force from a judgment that it will rain tomorrow; where they differ is
in the thought that is judged to be true. In Brentanos view, in contrast,
rain tomorrow might well express a certain presentation; the judgment that it will rain tomorrow affirms this presentation, while the
judgment that it will not rain tomorrow denies it.6
To carry through Brentanos view, it would be necessary to represent all complexity of content as belonging to the presentation judged.
Brentanos theory of judgment can be viewed as a brave attempt to
carry through a view of this kind. Much of his effort in discussion of
judgment is in attempts to do justice to the various forms of complexity that arise from the complex logical form of sentences.
In its original form, Brentanos view of judgment implies that in a
sense all judgments are existential judgments or negations of existential
judgments. This peculiarity of his view of judgment influenced his
thought on truth at an early point and led to a particular line of questioning of the traditional idea of truth as adaequatio rei et intellectus, the
root of what has come to be called the correspondence theory of truth,
already adumbrated in the 1889 lecture that is the opening essay in
the compilation Wahrheit und Evidenz. Brentano was not the only
or even the most influential philosopher to question the correspondence theory at the time, but his criticisms had distinctive features. In
late writings he sketched as a positive view an epistemic conception.
The discussion below of Brentanos views on truth will concentrate on
these aspects.

2. The Problem of Compound Judgments

Presentations as Brentano conceives them are what in traditional logic
was expressed by terms, singular and general. Since the object of a presentation need not exist, singular as well as general presentations can
be either affirmed or denied. What we would express as someones judg-

For example Die Negation, pp.152155. There is no reason to think that Brentano individually is Freges target; he is not referred to in Freges extant writings.
6 Apparently Brentano does not distinguish terminologically between affirming a
presentation and affirming its object, so that affirming rain tomorrow and affirming the presentation are expressed by the same word, generally anerkennen.


ing that Pegasus does not exist would be in Brentanos language his
denying or rejecting Pegasus; the case is exactly parallel to that of
The difficulty an account such as Brentanos faces is how to represent judgments that involve compounding, particularly sentential combination such as that embodied by (1). This issue already arises in
Brentanos first development in the 1874 Psychology, where he sketches
an explanation of the syllogistic forms. Brentanos view immediately
gives a distinctive place to existential statements, A exists, where A is
a term, since to judge that is just to affirm A. Thus his view immediately removes the temptation to treat exists in such statements as a
predicate, even a logical but not real predicate, as Kant did.7
The most direct way of looking at the syllogistic forms from the
point of view of modern logic yields the result that categorical propositions are equivalent either to existential propositions or negations of
such, since we have:
All A are B is equivalent to There are no As that are non-Bs.
No A are B is equivalent to There are no As that are Bs.
Some A are B is equivalent to There are As that are Bs or
There are ABs.
Some A are not B is equivalent to There are As that are
non-Bs or There are A non-Bs.
These readings can go directly into Brentanian terms: To judge that
all A are B is to deny As that are non-Bs; to judge that no A are B is to
deny As that are Bs; to judge that some A are B is to affirm As that are
Bs; to judge that some A are not B is to affirm As that are non-Bs.
Essentially these readings are given by Brentano in Psychology.8 He
draws a number of conclusions that modern logicians have drawn,
such as that the inferences from A to I and from E to O are not valid,

Brentano credits Herbart with treating existential propositions as distinct from

categorical subject-predicate propositions (Von der Klassifikation (hereafter cited
as KPP), p.54, trans. p.211). Kai Hauser has suggested (in correspondence) that
treating affirmative judgment as judgment of existence may have arisen from Brentanos reflection on Aristotle; cf. the remark that Aristotle recognized that the
concept of existence is obtained by reflection on affirmative judgment (Wahrheit
und Evidenz [hereafter cited as WE] p.45, trans. p.39).
KPP 5657, trans. pp.213214.


and that certain traditionally accepted syllogisms are not valid, although they become so if an existential premise is added.9
Second, the readings make clear that already at this level Brentanos
account requires some principle for the combination of terms or presentations. The first is basically conjunction, so that given A and B we
have As that are B. A second would be negation applied to terms: as
they stand, the readings involve an internal negation in addition to
the negation embodied in negative judgment, i.e., denial. Some of the
neatness of the theory is lost by admitting term negation in addition to
denial. Brentano does not address this issue in Psychology, but as we
shall see he was uncomfortable with term negation and did develop
some ideas for eliminating it.
Brentano in one place at least admits disjunctive terms, so that we
can also allow judgments that affirm or deny A-or-Bs.10 At any rate, if
term negation is applicable to compound terms, then any truth-functional
combination of terms can be expressed as a term.
Two problems would remain before Brentanos theory could yield
the expressive power of first-order logic. First, one would have to accommodate truth-functional combination of closed sentences. If we
make the assumption about terms of the last paragraph, that would be
sufficient to generate a logic with expressive power equivalent to that
of monadic quantificational logic, since in monadic logic nested quantification can be eliminated. Second, one would have to have a treatment of many-place predicates and polyadic quantification.
If Brentano had developed the second, he would have been one of the
founders of mathematical logic, which he neither was nor claimed to be.
The question whether this can be done in the framework of a Brentanian
theory of judgment is one external to Brentano himself. Term logics that
are equivalent to first-order logic have been developed, but they involve
devices that were not thought of in Brentanos time even by mathematical
logicians. It would have been necessary for Brentano to consider manyplace predicates on the same footing as one-place predicates. His remarks

See Simons, Judging Correctly. In reading categorical propositions in this way,

Brentano was anticipated by Boole. An elegant decision procedure for syllogisms
so interpreted was devised in the 1880s by Charles Peirces student Christine LaddFranklin. In response to criticism by J. P. N. Land, Brentano admitted that one
might read the categorical propositions as presupposing the nonemptiness of the
subject concepts.
Kategorienlehre, p.45, trans. p.42.


on relations take in only binary relations, and there he holds the unusual
view that only the first place of a binary relation is direct or referential
(modo recto in Brentanos terminology); on this subject see 4 below.
We can remain closer to Brentano in considering how the first question might be addressed. This has been treated in some detail by Roderick Chisholm.11 Consider first the simplest case, judging that p and q.
One might say that S judges that p and q if he (simultaneously) judges
that p and judges that q. But as Chisholm points out, that would not be
sufficient, since S might not put the two together. Suppose first that both
judgments are affirmative, so that S accepts A and accepts B. Brentano
admitted conjunctive objects, objects consisting of an A and a B. Call
them A-and-Bs. Ss accepting A-and-Bs has the requisite property of
committing S both to As and to Bs in a single judgment. One might
object that S is committed to more, to another object, precisely the Aand-B. That would be so if we think of it as a set having an A and a B
as elements. If these objects are distinct non-sets, then the pair set must
be distinct from both of them.
Brentano did not think of conjunctive objects as sets, at least not as
set theory has come to think of them. It is well known that given either
the empty set or a single individual, one can generate an infinite sequence
of sets by successive application of the forming of pair sets. Brentano
considers and rejects an argument for such generation beginning with
two apples. A key step that he rejects is that a pair of apples is something in addition to the original two apples:
Someone who has one apple and another apple does not have a
pair of apples in addition, for the pair which he has simply means
the one apple and the other taken together. So what people wanted
to do was to add the same thing to itself, which is contrary to the
concept of addition. . . . The pair is completely distinct from either
of the two apples which make it up, but it is not at all distinct
from both of them added together.12
Particularly the last remark suggests that Brentano thinks of the pair as
the mereological sum, and some of his remarks about pluralities parallel

Chisholm, Brentanos Theory of Judgment.

KPP 253, trans. p. 352. Brentano reveals that the example of the two apples
comes from Cantor, who is said to have claimed before a meeting of mathematicians
to generate an infinity of objects starting with two apples.




claims made by defenders in later times of mereological sums. That

would serve to block the generation of an infinite sequence out of only
one or two individuals. However, elsewhere Brentano writes in connection with the question of the relation of such a whole and its constituents that there are things that compared with others have revealed
themselves neither as wholly the same nor as wholly other, that are
partially the same (Kategorienlehre, p. 50, trans. p. 46). Mereology
plays a larger role in Brentanos work, so that he could claim that the
introduction of conjunctiva in the present context is not ad hoc.
Now consider the disjunction of two affirmative judgments, again
one affirming As and one affirming Bs. Admitting disjunctive terms, one
can render the judgment as one that affirms (A or B)s. We would say
that this works because xAx v xBx is equivalent to x(Ax v Bx). It
is for that reason that the solution is simpler than that concerning conjunctions of affirmative judgments.
This simple solution is also available for the case of conjunction of
two negative judgments. To judge that there are no As and that there
are no Bs would be simply to deny (A or B)s.
The idea used for conjunctions of affirmative judgments will clearly
work for disjunctions of negative judgments. Judging that either there
are no As or that there are no Bs would be to judge that there are no
(A-and-B)s. For let a be an A and b be a B. Then a and b taken together
constitute an A-and-B. So if there are no A-and-Bs, then either there
are no As or there are no Bs. Conversely, since any A-and-B has an A
as a part, if there are no As, then there cannot be any A-and-Bs, and
likewise if there are no Bs.
There remains the problem of binary combination of an affirmative
with a negative judgment. How might Brentano analyze the judgment
that either there are no As or there are Bs? Chisholms proposal is that
such a judgment would reject As that are not part of A-and-Bs.13 For
suppose that judgment is true, and it is likewise true that there are As.
Then any such A must be part of an A-and-B, and so there are Bs. Hence
either there are no As or there are Bs. Conversely, suppose there are no
As. Then clearly there are no As that are not part of A-and-Bs. Suppose
that there are Bs. Then let b be such. If there are As, then any such
Awill combine with b to form an A-and-B and hence is part of an Aand-B. So if there are Bs, then there are no As that are not part of

Clearly this paraphrase involves a negative term.



A-and-Bs. The symmetry of disjunction implies that we can handle in

the same way a judgment that either there are As or there are no Bs.
Consider now the case of a mixed conjunction, a judgment that
there are As and there are no Bs. Chisholm proposes that such a judgment be viewed as accepting As that are not part of (A-and-B)s, and
this is evidently correct since it is equivalent to It is not the case that
either there are no As or there are Bs.
One might also ask about conditional judgments, such as the judgment that if there are As, then there are Bs. Brentanos suggestion
about hypothetical judgments seems to me to amount to reading the
conditional in the now familiar truth-functional way.14 Thus this case is
reduced to cases already considered. If there are As then there are Bs
is the mixed disjunctive judgment Either there are no As or there
It thus appears that the judgments Brentano is able to handle are
closed under truth-functional combination and, assuming the truthfunctional interpretation of the conditional, under the formation of
conditionals. The price of this, however, is high. To handle simple conjunction, he needs to introduce mereological sums or some other conjunctive objects, thus introducing possibly contestable ontology in order to handle one of the simplest logical operations. To handle mixed
binary compounds he needs in addition the notion of being part of an
A-and-B. This in fact generates a more serious problem. Clearly the
statement x is part of an A-and-B means that x is part of some A-and-B.
Thus there is an implicit quantifier that seems not to be captured by
Brentanos reduction of existential quantification to affirming a presentation, universal quantification to denying one. We shall consider in 3
how Brentano might deal with this without accepting the idea of being
a part of some A as simply primitive.

3. Can One Eliminate Term Negation?

Let us now step back and consider how Brentano might avoid admitting negative terms and so reduce all negation to denial. In order to
address this issue, we turn to his conception of double judgment. A double judgment affirms an object and then affirms or denies something of
it. Brentano characterizes them as judgments that accept something

See Die Lehre vom richtigen Urteil (hereafter cited as LRU), pp.122123.


and affirm or deny something of it.15 In the essay On Genuine and

Fictitious Objects, added to the 1911 edition of Psychology, Brentano
deploys this idea to analyze the categorical forms of judgment.16
With respect to our problem about negation, it offers a solution to
the problem of the O form. Some S is not P affirms an S and denies of
it that it is P.17 Brentano also proposes that a psychologically more accurate rendering of the I form would also view it as a double judgment,
affirming an S and affirming of it that it is P.18
However, the notion of double judgment has the limitation that it
affirms an S (for some S or other) and then affirms or denies some predicate P of it. There is no negative counterpart. Indeed, it is hard to see
what sense it could make to deny an S and then affirm or deny something of it. Thus, while the notion of double judgment elegantly eliminates the negative term from the O form, it does not seem to solve the
corresponding problem about the A form. Thus Chisholm, who claims
about as much as could be claimed for Brentano on this issue, seems to
give up at this point on trying to eliminate term negation from Brentanos theory.19
The notion of double judgment might be applied to a problem we
encountered concerning truth-functional combination. For example, a
mixed conjunction, affirming As and denying Bs, was analyzed as an
affirmation of As that are not part of (A-and-B)s. That would be represented as a double judgment affirming an A, and denying an A-and-B
of which it is a part. We have, however, simply exploited the strategy
for dealing with the O form, and the same problem that we met with in
connection with the A form prevents us from extending this to other
cases, in particular that of mixed disjunctions, which are in Brentanian
terms negative judgments.

KPP 194. Translation, from Origin, p.107, modified. This remark occurs in a
footnote added in 1889 to Miklosich ber subjektlose Stze (1883).
16 So far as I know Brentano does not address directly the problem how to understand simple judgments of the form there are non-As or there are no non-As. The
obvious idea is to take them as judgments of the form there are [are no] things that
are non-As. Then in the negative case, the elimination of the term negation would
pose the same problem as that noted in the text for the A form.
17 KPP 165166, trans. p.296.
18 Ibid., 165, trans. p.295.
Chisholm, Brentanos Theory of Judgment, p.24.


The weakness of double judgments for Brentanos purposes is that

they do not have straightforward negations. In particular, if they are
introduced in order to handle truth-functional combination, the iteration that such combination involves will not be available.
A device that Brentano uses in order to give analyses in accord with
his later reism is to introduce the idea of someone thinking of an A, for
some A, or someone making a judgment with respect to As. That suggests another solution to the problem of the A form. Brentano writes:
If the O form means the double judgment There is an S and it is
not P, then the proposition Every S is P says that anyone who
makes both of these judgments is judging falsely. I think of someone affirming S and denying P of it, and say that in thinking of
someone judging in this way, I am thinking of someone judging
It is not clear that this is offered as a way of eliminating the negative
term in the rendering of the A form. Still, we might, following Peter
Simons, derive from it the paraphrase of Every S is P as Whoever affirms S and denies P of it judges incorrectly.21 Simons states that this is
still in the A form and so does not advance the case. But it is perhaps
better viewed as of the E form No one who affirms S and denies P of it
judges correctly and so as denying a correct acceptor-of-S-denying-Pof-it. Still, introducing what is effectively the concept of truth, and applied to a double judgment, seems a very questionable move in order to
analyze one of the simplest and most traditional logical forms.
The notion of double judgment itself raises some questions. First of
all, for a given presentation S, to affirm an S is not in general to affirm
any particular S; for example one can believe that there are cows without there being any particular cow in whose existence one believes. This
is particularly true on Brentanos scheme, since he thinks of existence
as tensed. To accept cows is to accept cows as existing now. But suppose I have not been near a farm for a number of years. Im confident
that there are cows, but the only ones I can point to are from the past.
I cant rule out the possibility that all of them have by now died, even
though the supply of milk in the supermarket assures me that if so, they

KPP 168169, trans. p.298.

Simons, Brentanos Reform of Logic, p.43 of reprint.


have been replaced by others. So theres no particular cow that I accept. However, it seems that, say, judging that some cows are not white
involves accepting a cow and denying of that cow that it is white. How
can that be if there is no particular cow that I accept, and so a fortiori
none that I judge not to be white?
We could render such a double judgment as affirming an x that is a
cow and denying of x that it is white. The x would have to be in some
way indeterminate. Brentano does not put the matter this way, and I am
not sure that it accords with his views; for example it represents even the
subject term in such a judgment as a predicate. What he says that bears
on the question is obscure, as for example this explanation of the I form:
Looked at more closely, it signifies a double judgment, one part
of which affirms the subject, and, after the predicate has been
identified in presentation with the subject, the other part affirms
the subject which had been affirmed all by itself in the first part,
but with this additionwhich is to say that it ascribes to it the
predicate P.22
What is it for the predicate to be identified in presentation with the
subject? It appears that Brentano means what is explained in his last
dictation, included in the 1924 edition of Psychology. There he states
that there are presentations
which are unified only through a peculiar kind of association,
composition, or identification, as, for example, when one forms
the complex concept of a thing which is red, warm, and
A little later he elaborates by saying, When we say, a red warm thing,
the two things presented in intuitive unity are not totally identified but
identified only in terms of the subject.24 What seems to be needed is
some version of the content-object distinction: In a double judgment,
the predicate is identified with the subject in being affirmed or denied

KPP 165, trans. p.295.

Ibid., 206, trans. p.316.
Ibid., 207, trans. p. 317. It is puzzling that Brentano speaks here of intuitive
unity, since the case is essentially the one that on the previous page he has contrasted with intuitive unity. Kraus appends to intuitive unity a note, Read: presented things. This is not very clear, but it is likely that he thought intuitive
unity in the quotation in the text a slip.



of an object that the subject is presupposed to apply to. But that would
restate the formulation of the last paragraph and not clarify it.
We have concluded that Brentanos ideas for reducing negation to
denial and thus for avoiding Freges conclusion that negation belongs
to the content of a judgment rather than being a mode of judgment itself are inadequate for the purpose and not entirely clear in themselves.
Before leaving the subject I will comment on some remarks about term
negation in the same essay from the 1911 Psychology that we have been
considering. If negative terms are admitted, then it seems that negation
is simply allowed as an operator on terms. Nonetheless Brentano regards
term negation as introducing a kind of fiction, the fiction of negative
objects. He seems to think such a fiction involved in the everyday understanding of negative terms:
This fiction . . . is a commonplace to the layman; he speaks of an
unintelligent man as well as an intelligent one, and of a lifeless
thing as well as of a living thing. He looks on attractive thing
and unattractive thing, red thing, and non-red things,
equally, as words which name objects.25
One might well ask, why not? In the sense in which red thing names
anything, it names those things that are red, and then surely non-red
thing names those things that are not red. Brentano does not give an
argument, but it is very likely that red thing names a general presentation, and he may think that such a general presentation as would be
named by non-red thing would be a negative object. The general background is discussed in 5 below.

4. Modes of Presentation
A quite different aspect of Brentanos treatment of complex judgments
belongs actually to his account of presentations. That is that he distinguishes modes of presentation (Modi des Vorstellens).26 The major distinctions subsumed under these headings are what he calls temporal
modes and the distinction between direct and oblique (modus rectus and

Ibid., 169, trans. p.298.

The English phrase reminds one of Frege, but Freges term is Art des Gegebenseins, and it should be clear from the text that the meaning is quite different. See
ber Sinn und Bedeutung, p.26.




modus obliquus). The latter, although it is applied in the first instance to

presentations rather than to linguistic contexts, is essentially the distinction that is familiar to us. A simple, straightforward presentation will
represent its object in modo recto; in particular, if a judgment affirms
such a presentation, it commits one to the existence of the object. He says
that the direct mode is never absent when we are actively thinking.27
Oblique reference arises primarily in two cases: where one is thinking
of a mentally active subject, where a thought of such a subject in recto
will involve thought of the objects of his thought in obliquo. Thus a presentation of Kant thinking of the pure intuition of space will present Kant
in recto and the pure intuition of space in obliquo. That is what we
would expect since thought of an object is a referential attitude in contemporary terminology. Brentano allows that something thought of in
recto might be identified with something thought of in obliquo:
as for example when I have a presentation in recto of flowers
and of a flower-lover who wants those flowers, in which case flowers are thought of both in recto and in obliquo and are identified
with one another.28
The other case is more surprising: Besides the fundament of the
relation, which I think of in recto, I think of the terminus in obliquo.29
In other words, in a thought to the effect that aRb, only a is presented
in recto, so that the second term of the relation is an oblique context. I
dont know of an argument Brentano gives for this somewhat strange
view. He does distinguish relations where if the first term of the relation
exists, the relation implies that the second does as well; his example is
taller than.30 Cases of this kind are not as frequent as one might think.
But the reason for this lies in Brentanos view of temporal modes.
Brentano holds that the existence and properties of objects are essentially tensed. So he denies that being past, present, or future represents
differences in the objects. A presentation thus has a temporal mode of
presentation, in the simplest case present. To say that something exists,
without qualification, is to say that it exists now; therefore Brentano
says of figures from the past that they do not exist. It also follows that

KPP 145, trans. p.281.

Ibid., 147, trans. p.282.
Ibid., 145, trans. p.281.
Ibid., 218, trans. p.325.



a relation like earlier than does not require the existence of both
terms.31 Of course it follows that it doesnt require the existence (now)
of either. The battle of Blenheim was earlier than the battle of Waterloo, although both are past and so do not exist on Brentanos view.
What is relevant to his view of judgment is that a temporal mode is an
additional complication to the logical form of a judgment. If I judge that
the battle of Waterloo occurred, I affirm it in a past mode. If I judge
that the presidential election of 2004 will occur, I affirm it in a future
mode. Clearly much more complex combinations are possible. However,
it is only affirmation of present existence that is affirmation in the strict
sense.32 He seems to hold that other temporal modes are varieties of the
oblique mode. I will not, however, pursue the question how Brentano
develops or might have developed the conception of temporal modes.

5. General Presentations and Reism

As is well known, shortly after the turn of the century Brentano abandoned the whole idea of objects other than things except as sometimes
useful fictions, adopting the view called reism, according to which an
object of thought must be a Reales or thing. This raises a question how
Brentano would understand general terms or predicates occurring in
judgments, even the simplest ones affirming or denying P, where P replaces a general term. If a judgment affirms horses, it would naturally be
taken as, in our terms, making reference to horses, that is, the animals
with which we are familiar, and not to anything further such as a property or attribute of being a horse.
We must ask, however, what the presentation is that is affirmed in
such a case. What we might expect from Brentanos reism is that he
would hold that a general horse-presentation would have many objects,
just those that are objects of individual horse-presentations. However,
Brentano distinguishes sensory from noetic or intellectual consciousness; the latter includes what we would describe as the exercise of concepts. He seems rather firmly to reject the view I have suggested:
A term can only be called general, if there is a general concept
that corresponds to it. If we deny this and say that a term is general


Ibid., 218219, trans. pp.325326.

Ibid., 221, trans. p.327.


if many individual presentations are associated with it, then we

would misinterpret the difference between ambiguity and generality, and would fail to see that the statement that many individual presentations are associated with one and the same term, in
itself expresses a general proposition concerning these individual
The beliefs that we cannot think of universals, and that so-called
general terms are only associated with a multitude of individual
presentations, have also been refuted.34
In fact, Brentanos view is that all presentations are in a way general,
that none can by virtue of its content fully individuate an object, although in some cases, such as presentations of inner perception referring to the self, it can be argued that they can have at most one object
(SNB 98, trans. 72). Although he makes a distinction of intuitions and
concepts parallel to Kants, he denies that intuitions have a content
that individuates their objects (KPP 199200, 204, trans. 311312,
315). In the first of these texts (supplementary essay XII to Psychology)
he justifies this by a rather intricate argument concerning perception
and space. That need not concern us here; the question is how this view
comports with his reism (which is in evidence in this text and even
more in the following one).
An answer is suggested by some passages in Die Lehre vom richtigen Urteil, which, however, often does not give the ipsissima verba of
Brentano. Brentano often speaks of the use of language as introducing
fictions; many of his examples are mathematical, and some are logical
(e.g., KPP 215, trans. 322323). In LRU 41, it is explicitly stated that
concepts are fictions; however, in one place (29), the language clearly
comes from Kastil, and in the other (beginning of 30), this also ap33

Sinnliches und noetisches Bewusstsein (hereafter SNB), p.89, trans. p.63.

Ibid., 89, trans. 65. The second of these passages undoubtedly comes from
Brentanos reistic period, and although the editor of SNB is not explicit about its
date, it seems very likely that the first does as well, since nearly all the texts in the
volume for which he gives dates are from the last years of Brentanos life.
The mention of association suggests that Brentanos target is a view like Berkeleys. Deborah Brown argues that Brentanos rejection of the view I suggest rests in
considerable part on identification of medieval nominalism with views like Berkeleys. See her Immanence and Individuation, pp.3638.



pears to be the case.35 However, the view of general thought presented

is plausibly Brentanian. Thinking of something as a man, a human being,
and a living thing are increasingly general ways of thinking of a thing.
But the thing referred to is an individual, even though thinking of it in
any of these ways fails to single it out as an individual. Brentano himself says elsewhere that a thing (Reales) is always determinate, but is
object of a presentation in a now more, now less differentiated way,
without therefore ceasing right away to be thought of in a certain way
generally and indeterminately.36 In this passage he uses concept without any comment but denies that universals are things. Every such
universally thought thing is, if it is, completely individualized.
A less Brentanian way of putting the point is that thought of something as, say, a man is the thought of an x that is a man. What we have
said in 3 about double judgments indicates that some such perspective is
essential for Brentanos treatment of rather simple judgments. We cant
eliminate the x by taking the thought as of a definite particular object,
which the thought represents as being a man. That would run afoul of
Brentanos claim that the content of our thought never yields a genuinely
individual representation, and furthermore in the cases considered in his
treatment of syllogistic, the x is bound by a quantifier. It is somewhat
awkward because, if one takes seriously the doctrine that all presentations are general, it implies that all presentations have in some sense the
form of predicates. I am not at all sure that that is a consequence that
Brentano would have embraced. And it is undoubtedly uncomfortably
close to nominalism, even from the point of view of the later Brentano.37

6. Questions about Truth as Correspondence

Brentanos substantial publication on truth during his lifetime was a
lecture of 1889, On the Concept of Truth,38 reprinted in the posthu35

See notes 36 and 37, LRU 312. Note 37 intimates that 30 comes from supplementary essay XII of Psychology, but that is accurate only for the last part.
36 Die Abkehr vom Nichtrealen, p.348.
37 For a historically informed and much more detailed treatment of Brentanos
views on individuation and his relation to nominalism, see Brown, Immanence
and Individuation.
38 Section numbers in the text below refer to this essay; this will enable the reader
to locate a passage either in the German WE or the English.


mous Wahrheit und Evidenz. It shows a characteristic of much of his

reflection on truth. His point of departure is the traditional characterization of truth as adaequatio rei et intellectus. His inclination is to
defend it but much of the discussion concerns what it means, and some
points are made that suggest real criticisms of the correspondence theory as it developed at the time and later. The line of thought then inaugurated leads him to be more definitely critical of the traditional formula in the later writings first published in Wahrheit und Evidenz. But
even late, he shows some reluctance to abandon it altogether.
Brentanos thought on truth develops out of his thought on judgment,
in particular the central role that (affirmative and negative) judgments
have in his view and his criticism of a traditional view of judgment as
a combination of presentations. The discussion of truth in the 1889 essay begins with a formula of Aristotle:
He who thinks the separated to be separated and the combined
to be combined has the truth, while he whose thought is in a state
contrary to that of the objects is in error.39
After some discussion of subsequent history and examples, Brentano
offers a corrected version:
A judgment is true if it attributes to a thing something which,
in reality, is combined with it, or if it denies of a thing something
which, in reality, is not combined with it. (33)
He makes no difficulty about the case of affirmative subject-predicate
judgments. But he immediately asks about judgments of existence:
What is combined if I judge that a dog exists?40 Clearly, on Brentanos
view such a judgment affirms a dog, so that dog is the only presentation involved. A little later he says that in the case of a negative existential judgment like There is no dragon there is no object to which the
judgment corresponds if it is true. It could not be a dragon, since ex
hypothesi dragons do not exist. Nor is there any other real thing
which could count as the corresponding reality (42).

Metaphysics 1051b 3, translation by W.D. Ross quoted in 11 (in the translation).

40 Brentano states that Aristotle too recognized that this was not a case of combination.


Brentano goes on to find a similar difficulty in negative predications.

Suppose I say, Some man is not black. What is required for the
truth of the statement is, not that there is black separated from
the man, but rather that on the man, there is an absence or privation of black. This absence, this non-black, is clearly not an object; thus again there is no object given in reality which corresponds to my judgment. (43)
At this point one might well expect him to reject the correspondence
theory or at least to admit that it has significant exceptions. He introduces a contrast between things (Dinge) and objects to which the
word thing should not be applied at all (44). As examples he mentions a collection of things, or . . . a part of a thing, or . . . the limit or
boundary of a thing, or the like (45). He also mentions things that
have perished long ago or will only exist in the future as well as the
absence or lack of a thing, an impossibility, and eternal truths. Because none of these are things, the whole idea of the adaequatio rei et
intellectus seems to go completely to pieces (45).
That is, however, not the conclusion that Brentano draws. Instead
he says that we must distinguish between the concept of the existent
and that of thing, and so he says:
A judgment is true if it asserts of some object that is, that the
object is, or if it asserts of some object that is not, that the object
is not.
And this is all there is to the correspondence of true judgment
and object about which we have heard so much. To correspond
does not mean the same as to be similar; but it does mean to be
adequate, to fit, to be in agreement with, to be in harmony with.
Brentanos formulation is reminiscent of another much-quoted Aristotelian formulation:
To say of what is that it is not, and of what is not that it is, is
false; to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not,
is true.41

Metaphysics 1011b 2627, Ross trans.



Aristotle, however, undoubtedly has the is of predication in mind, while

Brentano is thinking in terms of his early doctrine that all judgments are
(affirmative or negative) existential judgments.
Brentano has saved a version of the traditional formula, but apparently at the cost of introducing objects that are not things.
He does think that in cases where the presentation underlying a judgment does not have a thing as its object, in cases other than judgments of necessity and possibility, there is an indirect dependence on
things (55). He also suggests that there is something trivial about
the definition (57) but responds that it still offers useful conceptual
Brentano does not make clear here how far he is prepared to go in
admitting objects that are not things, what he later calls irrealia. Without more explicitness, it is not clear that he has answered even his first
sharp question about the traditional version: To what object does a
negative existential truth like There are no dragons correspond? He
suggests that he would admit absences or privations as objects, but this
is clearer in the case of absences relating to things, such as the absence
of black in a man who is not black. Alfred Kastil reports Brentano as
having said in 1914 that he had thought he had to extend the adaequatio rei et intellectus to negative judgments, as if in this case as well an
objective correlate corresponded to the judgment, the nonbeing of
what is correctly rejected (WE 164, trans. 142). In later writings reflecting his turn to reism, he frequently criticizes the claim that if it is
true that there are no As, then there must be the nonbeing of As. This
would, apart from other objections to it, introduce a new kind of object to correspond to a true judgment, a state of affairs or perhaps


Peter Simons comments that the admission of such objects was an innovation in
the 1880s. Since it was abandoned with the turn to reism, it would be characteristic
only of the middle period of Brentanos thought. It should be noted that the problem of nonbeing to which Brentano responded at this point is one concerning judgment (or on other theories propositions), roughly the problem how something
could be true without there being anything in virtue of which it is true. It should
thus be distinguished from the problem posed by presentations of objects that do
not exist, which led to Meinongs theory of objects. Cf. Jacquette, Brentanos Concept of Intentionality.


7. Virtual Abandonment of the Correspondence Formula

The discussion of the last section should show that with the adoption
of reism (see 5) Brentano effectively gave up the basis of his continuing to defend a conception of truth as correspondence. And that is indeed what one finds in the late letters and essays in Wahrheit und Evidenz. However, he seems still to have been reluctant to abandon the
Thus much of Brentanos letter to Marty of September 2, 1906 is
devoted to arguing against admitting such states of affairs as the being
of A as had been accepted by Marty and, as we have just seen, earlier
by Brentano. Against the idea that they are useful, Brentano writes:
Where someone might say, In case there is the being of A, and
someone says that A is, then he is judging correctly, I would say,
In case A is and someone says that A is, he judges correctly.
Similarly instead of If there is the non-being of A and someone
rejects A, he judges correctly, I would say If A is not and someone rejects A, he judges correctly, and so on. (WE 94, trans. 84)
Thus he seems to think states of affairs not necessary to state basic truthconditions. He also offers a regress argument against them: Suppose
someone wishes to judge with evidence that A is. But he could not affirm
A with evidence unless he could also affirm the being of A. Otherwise he
would be unable to know whether his original judgment corresponds
with it. But then by parity of reasoning he would also have to be able to
affirm the being of the being of A, and so on (WE 9596, trans. 8586).
This argument might be generalized to an argument against any
form of correspondence theory: Suppose that its being true that p consists in the correspondence of p with something, call it P. Then to determine whether it is true that p, it would be necessary to determine
whether p corresponds with P. But the correspondence theory implies
that that consists in a correspondence of the proposition that p corresponds with P with something, call it P. Then the same question arises
again.43 One might reply that to judge that p, or determine whether p,
is one thing, to judge that it is true that p or determine whether it is
true that p is another. If the sentence p is, say, Tame tigers exist, it

Such an argument is intimated by Frege, Der Gedanke, p.60.



does not refer to a proposition, thought, or judgment, whereas it is true

that tame tigers exist, in the sense that is being interpreted by correspondence, does so refer since it predicates truth of one of these entities. To
determine whether tame tigers exist we do not have to investigate judgments or other propositional objects. If we find that tame tigers exist,
then some logical principle leads us to the conclusion that it is true that
tame tigers exist, but only then is reference to a propositional object
introduced. Thus we can reject Brentanos claim that to accept tame
tigers, we must simultaneously accept the being of tame tigers. However, it seems likely that even if Brentano had accepted this objection,
he would still have objected to the infinite sequence that is generated
by passage from p to it is true that p.
Whatever the conclusion about the regress argument, the conception
against which it is directed, that of truth as correspondence to a state
of affairs, seems unmotivated unless a sentence designates a state of affairs, or at least a true sentence does. But Brentano, both in the 1889
essay and later, offers characterizations of the truth of a judgment without any such assumption. And he seems to be rejecting this suggestion
even if states of affairs are admitted when he writes:
But if we were to suppose that the non-being of the devil is a kind
of thing, it would not be the thing with which a negative judgment,
denying the devil, is concerned; instead it would be the object of an
affirmative judgment, affirming the non-being of the devil. (WE
134, trans. 117)
At the end of the dictation (of May 11, 1915) from which this passage
comes, Brentano says that we may stay with the old thesis (WE 136,
trans. 119). But his reading of it is clearly deflationary. The next item
in the compilation, a dictation from two months earlier, makes this
deflationary reading more explicit, by emphasizing not only the kind of
example with which he has raised difficulties previously but also bringing up oblique, modal, and temporal contexts. If I judge that an event
took place 100 years ago, the event need not exist for the judgment to
be true; it is enough that I who exist now, be 100 years later than the
event (WE 138, trans. 121). He concludes that
the thesis [that truth is adaequatio rei et intellectus] tells us no
more nor less than this: Anyone who judges that a certain thing
exists, or that it does not exist, or that it is possible, or impossi182


ble, or that it is thought of by someone, or that it is believed, or

loved, or hated, or that it has existed, or will exist, judges truly
provided that the thing in question does exist, or does not exist,
or is possible, or is impossible, or is thought of . . . etc. (WE 139,
trans. 121122)
From our own perspective, we might summarize what Brentano says
as that someone who judges that p judges truly if and only if p. Brentano
lacks two things in order to come up with the familiar truth schema:
some sort of general schema for judgment and seeing the predicate
true as a device of disquotation applied to linguistic items.
Brentano was far from being the only philosopher of his time to question the correspondence theory of truth. After all, the coherence theory
was a staple of British idealism, whose main exponents were contemporaries. And the pragmatists distinctive ideas about truth were advanced
during Brentanos lifetime, even though it was late in Brentanos career
that William Jamess views on truth led to considerable debate. Nonetheless Brentanos line of questioning seems to me of continuing interest, and the ideas discussed above have more in common with those of
Alfred Tarski and his successors than with those advanced in the debates on truth at the turn of the century. His coming close at least to
the propositional form of the now standard truth schema is not duplicated by another writer of the time known to me except Frege. Frege
went further than Brentano in claiming in a few texts that the thought
that p is true is just the same thought as p. That claim is bound up with
Freges particular conception of judgment; he would reject the idea
advanced above in connection with the regress argument, that the
thought that p is true introduces content additional to that of p, namely
reference to the thought that it expresses. Although what appears to be a
regress argument by Frege has been criticized, once the context in Freges
theory of judgment is recognized it may be defensible.
Where Brentano comes a little closer to Tarski is in suggesting the idea
that the condition for the truth of a judgment should parallel its structure.
To be sure, Frege does in explaining the language of Grundgesetze give
compositional truth conditions that are more rigorous than anything
Brentano offers, but he does not make the connection that Brentano does
with the explanation of the notion of truth. Just what the connection
should be between compositional truth conditions and explanations or
definitions of truth has continued to be a disputed matter in our own day.


8. Truth and Evidence

If Brentano had stopped his account of truth with remarks like the last
one quoted, he might count as an ancestor of what is nowadays called
deflationism. But instead he continues and offers a characterization of
truth in terms of evidence, that is, in terms of evident judgment. If a
judgment is evident, then it constitutes certain knowledge. Evidence is
therefore clearly a much stronger notion than truth. Although judgments
of inner perception can be evident, and they would count as empirical
for Brentano, his concept of evidence is for practical purposes rational
evidence, since if a judgment is evident no reason can override it. Although he is critical of Descartess particular formulation (WE 6162,
trans. 5254), Descartess clear and distinct perception seems to have
provided a model for Brentanos conception of evidence. In his late
writing evidence seems to have been treated as a more basic notion
than truth. Thus he follows his deflationary rendering of the import of
the adaequatio formula with what reads as a definition of true judgment
in terms of evident:44
Truth pertains to the judgment of the person who judges
correctlyto the judgment of the person who judges about a
thing in the way in which anyone whose judgments were evident
would judge about the thing; hence it pertains to the judgment
of one who asserts what the person whose judgments are evident
would also assert. (WE 139, trans. 122, emphasized in the
Thus, if an agent x affirms A with evidence, and an agent y affirms
A, whether or not with evidence, then y judges truly. Brentano held
that an evident judgment is universally valid; in particular no other
evident judgment can contradict it. Thus any other evident judgment
with respect to A will agree with xs, so that the truth-value of ys judgment is uniquely determined. If a third agent z denies A, then z judges
falsely, as one would expect. Evidently this definition requires the possibility of comparing the content of the judgment of different agents or
of agents of different times; it must make sense to say of y that his
judgment affirms or denies what xs judgment affirms or denies.

Oskar Kraus, Brentanos disciple and editor, clearly reads this as a reductive definition; see WE xxiiixxv, trans. xxivxxv. I would wish for more evidence before
taking it that way, but for convenience I will refer to it as a definition.


The definition faces a pretty obvious difficulty, which was pointed

out by Christian von Ehrenfels.45 Suppose that an agent y affirms A. If
it is possible for there to be an agent x who judges with evidence with
regard to A, then by the above there is at most one possible result of
his judgment, and if it is affirmative then y judges truly; if it is negative
then y judges falsely. But suppose that it is not possible for an agent to
judge with evidence with regard to A. Then it seems that Brentanos
characterization does not give an answer as to whether ys judgment
is true. Or, if one holds that a vacuous contrary-to-fact conditional is
true, then both the affirmation of A and the denial of A will be true.
Brentanos disciple and editor Oskar Kraus offers another formulation: ys affirmation of A is true if no possible evident judgment can
contradict it, that is, deny A (WE xxvixxvii, trans. xxv). But, as Ehrenfels seems to have pointed out, if no evident judgment is possible one
way or the other with respect to A, it seems that by Krauss criterion both
a judgment affirming A and a judgment denying A will be true. To this
objection Kraus replies that supposing that A exists, then even if knowledge about A were possible, it could not be negative (i.e., an evident
negative judgment). But an evident affirmative judgment is impossible
only because it is assumed that the existence of A is unknowable. This
does not seem to me to avoid the conclusion that according to the definition, a negative judgment with regard to A is true.
This type of objection touches Brentano particularly, because according to him the scope of evident judgment (for humans at least) is
limited to the deliverances of inner perception and analytic judgments.
Hence even simple common-sense statements about the outer world have
the property that neither they nor their negations can be affirmed with
The above remark expressing an epistemic criterion of truth was
dictated by Brentano some years after Husserl had already published
in the Logische Untersuchungen an account of truth in which there is
an internal connection of truth and evidence.46 Husserls account is
embedded in his intention-fulfillment theory of meaning and thus has
a quite different context from Brentanos. It would be distracting to
engage in a detailed comparison of the two accounts. However, it is

See WE xxvii, trans. xxvxxvi.

Logische Untersuchungen VI, ch. 5; cf. Prolegomena (i.e., volume 1), 4951.
The page references given will fit either the first or the second edition.




instructive to see how Husserl deals with problems similar to those

posed by Ehrenfelss objection to Brentano. In the Prolegomena he asserts an equivalence between A is true and It is possible that someone
should judge with evidence that A (50, I 184). But he denies that they
mean the same. More relevant to our present problem is that he insists
that the possibilities in question in such statements are ideal possibilities, so at least many examples that come to hand of statements we
cannot know to be true or false become irrelevant, as is presumably the
case with the example in Krauss discussion of the existence of a diamond weighing at least 100 kilograms. Husserl is willing to assert the
ideal possibility of knowledge of a solution to a problem in a case where
the reason for thinking there is one is purely mathematical and he concedes that to find it may be beyond human capabilities; the example he
gives is the general n-body problem of classical mechanics (I 185).
In the fuller discussion of truth in the Sixth Investigation, Husserl
discusses in general terms what he calls the ideal of final fulfillment
(37). An act is fulfilled to the extent that its content is presented in
intuition.47 Final fulfillment involves the presence in intuition of the
object, complete agreement of intuition with what is intended, and in
addition the absence of any content in the fulfilling act that is an intention that calls for further fulfillment. Thus in final fulfillment the object
itself is given, and given completely.
Husserl illustrates these ideas by means of perception, although he
insists that fulfillment by outer perception is always incomplete. That,
however, serves his purpose in bringing out that in general final fulfillment is an ideal. The concept of evidence applies to positing acts of
which judgments would be an instance (although Husserl also regards
normal perception as positing its object).48 In the case of judgments, the
object is a state of affairs (Sachverhalt); Husserls view about propositional objects is closer to that of the pupils with whom Brentano disagreed than to that of the later Brentano. The epistemologically significant concept of evidence applies to positing acts that are adequate in

Or represented in imagination; however, this case is excluded by the idea of

final fulfillment.
Husserls positing acts correspond to Brentanos affirmative judgments, in which
an object is posited in Husserls language, affirmed or accepted in Brentanos. Brentano regarded perception as involving a judgment. Husserl denied this, but the issue is at least initially terminological: according to Husserl, the simple positing of
a perceived object is not yet a judgment.


the sense of leaving no unfulfilled components, in which, again, the object is given completely (38).49 Such evident positing has an objective
correlate, which he says is being in the sense of truth (Sein im Sinne
der Wahrheit), an echo of Aristotle that is no doubt derived from Brentano. This reliance on a strong concept of evidence to explain the notion of truth makes Husserl vulnerable to the type of objection made by
Ehrenfels. What his reponse to it amounts to is that with respect to any
positing act final fulfillment (or cancellation through conflict between
what is intended and what is given) is in principle possible.
Husserls own view of outer perception created a difficulty for this
view. Even in the Logische Untersuchungen his position was that outer
perceptions always contain unfulfilled intentions, because in perception the object is always incompletely given. At the time he seems to
have thought that the impossibility of complete fulfillment of outer perception was only impossibility for us, and that in an appropriately ideal
sense complete fulfillment is possible. By the time of Ideen I in 1913, he
had changed his mind, and he states there that it belongs to the essence
of outer objects that they can be given only from a perspective and thus
incompletely (4344); not even God could overcome the inadequacy
of outer perception. Nonetheless he writes that complete givenness of
the object is predelineated as an Idea in the Kantian sense (143);
complete givenness is approached as a kind of limit by an infinite continuum of perceptions of the same object in harmony with one another.
It seems that truth itself will have to be adjusted to the fact that evidence
in the strong sense also has the character of a Kantian idea.50
Let us return to Husserls statement of Prolegomena 50 that A is
true is equivalent to It is possible that someone should judge with evidence that A. This formulation is somewhat more perspicuous than
the formulations of Brentano and Kraus. If we accept that it might be
impossible to judge with evidence either that A or that not-A, then what
we have is a violation of the law of excluded middle. Since the intuitionist challenge to classical mathematics of L.E.J. Brouwer, of which
the first steps were taken during Brentanos lifetime, the idea that the

In the same section Husserl allows that evidence admits of levels and degrees,
but this applies to what he calls the more lax and less epistemologically significant
concept of evidence.
We do not deal here with the later evolution of Husserls views on these matters,
which move further from the view of the Logische Untersuchungen. See Fllesdal,
Husserl on Evidence and Justification.


law of excluded middle might be given up or qualified has become familiar to us, and it is one of the possibilities that has to be considered in
developing an epistemic conception of truth. The most straightforward
way of carrying this out would be to adopt something like the Husserlian formulation and declare that, if it is not possible to judge with evidence with regard to A, then A is neither true nor false. If evidence is
interpreted as entailing the degree of certainty that Brentano takes it
to, and we measure possibility by the actual capabilities of the human
mind, that will lead to a counterintuitive result, for example that ordinary empirical judgments are neither true nor false.
The development of epistemic conceptions of truth in the twentieth
century has proceeded differently. Intuitionism, which offers the most
rigorous and thorough development, is primarily a view about mathematics. We could translate Brouwers view into Brentanos language by
saying that A can be said to be true only when one judges with evidence that A. Unlike Brentano, Brouwer does not think it makes sense
to talk about truth with regard to blind judgments. But rather than
allow truth-value gaps, Brouwer interprets negation so that one can
judge that not-A if one knows that an absurdity results from the supposition that one has a proof of A, that is, that one can judge with evidence
that A.51 It follows that it is impossible for neither A nor not-A to be
true, but it does not follow that either A or not-A is true.
Although the idea has been advanced of extending the intuitionistic
approach to logic and truth in general, this program has not been carried out, and the problem of certainty that we have been discussing is a
serious obstacle to it. In intuitionism, possession of a proof of A guarantees the truth of A. But in most domains of knowledge even very
strong evidence for a statement A might be called in question by additional evidence. The result is that although epistemic conceptions of
truth have been found attractive by many philosophers, there is no canonical development of it for the empirical domain corresponding to
intuitionism for the mathematical. Many writers have, following Charles
Sanders Peirce and Husserl, taken what is true to be what is evident
under highly idealized conditions.

Curiously, Krauss rendering of Brentanos criterion for the truth of A amounts

in Brouwerian terms to the truth-condition for not-not-A. That is not surprising
given Brentanos tendency to paraphrase judgments apparently not involving negation by negative judgments.


In Brentano, the epistemic characterization of truth is offered after

a deflationary reading of the correspondence formula. In the writing
about truth in our own time, some writers have been led to some version of an epistemic conception by what is nowadays called deflationism, the view that the equivalence of p is true and p represents the
whole content of the concept of truth, and perhaps in addition that the
concept of truth serves no purpose beyond that of disquotation, that is,
of passing from statements in which linguistic items are mentioned to
statements in which they are used, and perhaps of generalization as in
statements like Everything Dean says about Watergate is false. Although Brentanos meditation on the adaequatio formula led in a deflationary direction, it would be overinterpretation to describe him as a
deflationist in contemporary terms. He does not explain the transition
from his deflationary remarks to the epistemic criterion. But he evidently
thought that there is a connection, and in this respect he is a precursor
of one strand of contemporary deflationism.52


I am indebted to Dagfinn Fllesdal, Kai Hauser, Peter Simons, and the editor for
helpful comments.


The study of the history of analytical philosophy generally begins with

Frege. As a consequence, Edmund Husserl stands in some significant
relation to that history almost from its beginning. Husserl and Frege
exchanged letters in 1891; Husserls first book, Philosophie der Arithmetik (1891), contained critical comments on Freges Die Grundlagen
der Arithmetik (1884); Frege reviewed Husserls book; and they corresponded again in 1906. The relation between Freges views and Husserls,
particularly in Husserls Logische Untersuchungen1 (19001901), and
the possibility of a significant influence of Frege on Husserls decisive
turn away from psychologism in the late 1890s have been extensively
explored. Husserl also enters the history at later points, in particular in
the early period of the Vienna Circle. Influence of Husserl on Carnap is
in evidence at least as late as Der logische Aufbau der Welt (1928),2
but already then Carnaps philosophical direction is in many ways opposed to Husserls. Schlick wrote a widely read criticism of Husserls
particular version of the synthetic a priori.3
My purpose is not to explore these or other historical relations, but
rather to discuss some aspects of Husserls relation to analytical philosophy in a more philosophical way, following the example of Michael Dummett in his recent Origins of Analytical Philosophy.4 Dummett is interested not only in the origins of analytical philosophy, but

Cited hereafter as LU. I will give page references to the second German edition
and to J.N. Findlays translation of that edition (cited as F), which I will quote
with some modifications. The differences from the first edition, though important
for many purposes, play no role in my discussion.
This was pointed out to me by Abraham Stone.
Gibt es ein materiales Apriori?
Cited hereafter as O.


also in the origins of the gulf between analytical and so-called continental philosophy. From this double point of view Husserl is clearly of
particular interest. In his early period his thinking was close enough to
Freges so that they could at least have exchanges with one another. Yet
Husserl was the founder of the phenomenological movement, at one time
the paradigm of continental philosophy at least in the eyes of Englishspeaking philosophers, and which is certainly a major source of subsequent continental philosophy. Dummett locates the beginning of the
gulf in Husserls transcendental turn of 19051907 and its published
manifestation in Ideas I in 1913.5

Dummetts Origins is guided by a particular conception of what is fundamental to analytical philosophy, a conception which frames his assessment of Husserls significance for the history of analytical philosophy
and his more detailed discussions of Husserl. It also frames Dummetts
more extensive and, as one would expect, more sympathetic discussion
of Frege. Dummetts starting point is a thesis concerning what he calls
the philosophy of thought; he says that what distinguishes analytical
philosophy is the belief, first, that a philosophical account of thought
can be attained through a philosophical account of language, and, secondly, that a comprehensive account can only be so attained (O, p.4).
He doesnt even attempt to propose an explanation of the term thought
that wouldnt be tendentious between the different analytical philosophers adhering to this view. Instead he relies heavily on Frege, whose
use of thought has roughly the meaning of proposition in Englishlanguage philosophy.
I shall make only a few remarks about the question of how accurate
Dummetts characterization of analytical philosophy is, with reference
to the different periods of its history.6 And I shall distinguish two ways
of objecting to it. First, Dummett holds that what has long been called
the linguistic turn is the essence of analytical philosophy. Second, he

I will give page references to the original German edition; they are included in the
two Husserliana editions and in F. Kerstens translation. My quotations will largely
follow that translation.
With respect to early analytical philosophy (by which I mean roughly the period
from Frege through the publication of Wittgensteins Tractatus), see Hyltons review of Origins.


offers a very specific statement about what the linguistic turn is, a
statement dependent on his conception of a philosophical account of
thought, the search for which is a program he himself has followed
and has found inspiration for in Frege. Some counterexamples to Dummetts characterization would impugn only the latter, more specific formulation, not the more general idea that the linguistic turn is the fundamental move distinguishing analytical philosophy, however difficult
it might be to give an adequate general statement of what the linguistic
turn is.7 In fact, the idea that a certain kind of reflection on language is
fundamental to much of philosophy does in my view characterize quite
well one important period in the history of analytical philosophy, that
of its rise to dominance in the English-speaking world, roughly from
the early 1930s to the early 1960s.8 But the critical discussions of
Dummetts book have argued rather convincingly that his characterization does not fit the wider history.9
Dummett contends that Husserl exemplified a philosophical development essential to the prehistory of analytic philosophy, namely the
extrusion of thoughts from the mind. According to Frege, thoughts
are not constituents of the stream of consciousness; they exist independently of being grasped by a subject (O, p.22). A similar view was held
earlier by Bernard Bolzano, whose influence Husserl acknowledges.
Just this step is taken by Husserl, first in his polemic against psychologism in the first volume (1900) of the Logische Untersuchungen. The
result is what has been called a platonist theory of meaning. Evidently
Dummett considers this theory a fundamental step on the road to ana7

Thus Herman Philipse questions whether Wittgenstein, not only a paradigm analytical philosopher but one to whom Dummett appeals, would embrace the idea of
a comprehensive philosophical account of thought; see Husserl and the Origins of
Analytical Philosophy, p.167. In commenting on my APA paper, Dagfinn Fllesdal remarked that Quine, surely an exemplar of the linguistic turn, is skeptical
about the very idea of thought as Dummett conceives it; cf. Fllesdal, Analytic
Philosophy, p.195.
The terminus a quo is chosen in part because the 1930s saw the beginning of the
Oxford tradition of analytical philosophy as well as the emigration of leading logical positivists to the United States. Around 1960 the idea that analysis of language should displace metaphysics began to lose its hold. Another development
of that time was the growing influence of Rawls, which ended analytical moral
philosophers almost exclusive concentration on metaethics.
On early analytical philosophy, see Hylton, Review of Origins, and more generally Philipse, Husserl and the Origins.


lytical philosophy. The reason is apparently that the ontological mythology that such a view involves gives rise to dissatisfaction that leads naturally to the linguistic turn. According to Dummett,
One in this position has therefore to look about him to find something non-mythological but objective and external to the individual mind to embody the thoughts which the individual subject
grasps and may assent to or reject. Where better to find it than in
the institution of a common language? (O, p.25)
Dummett projects a highly idealized picture of how analytical philosophy originated, first through the extrusion of thoughts from the
mind and then by the step just indicated to the linguistic turn. Husserl
took the first of these steps but not the second. Dummett sees in this a
respect in which Husserl has positive importance for the history of analytical philosophy. But he sees Husserls failure to take the second step
as one of the roots of the separation between continental and analytic
Now had Dummett said nothing more of a positive nature about
Husserls relevance to the history of analytical philosophy, then Peter
Hylton would be justified in finding Dummetts claim for Husserls
importance seriously overstated.10 Dummett, however, implicitly makes
another claim, with which I entirely agree. This is, roughly, that Husserl is of great interest as an object of comparison. The point is not to
issue a call for an exercise in comparative philosophy. Rather, Frege
and Husserl worked at a time when there was no such schism as the later
analytical-continental one, and the problems faced by each were similar
(O, p.4). Although the actual debates between them were limited, they
might have been much greater.11
I would, somewhat speculatively, enlarge Dummetts case in the
following way. There were two late nineteenth-century scientific developments that had very great importance for the development of

Hylton, op. cit. Hylton writes as if the issue were whether Husserl is a precursor of analytic philosophy, a claim he attributes to Dummett. I think that frames
the question of Husserls relevance too narrowly, at least if one works with a conception like Dummetts of what analytical philosophy is, or even with Hyltons
contrasting understanding of what is essential in early analytical philosophy.
For example if Frege had been a little younger when LU appeared and had not
gone through the period of greatest discouragement in his life in the years just


philosophy. One was the beginning of modern logic and (more broadly
but a little less directly) the nineteenth-century transformation of mathematics, both decisive for early analytical philosophy in ways by now
well known. The other was the development of scientific psychology,
originally institutionally united with philosophy, but gradually emancipated from it. Many of the important founders of experimental psychology were psychologist-philosophers, the exemplary and most influential
case being Wilhelm Wundt. The development of experimental psychology went hand-in-hand with the development of a more sophisticated
philosophical psychology. Brentanos contribution was mainly here,
although he was a strong proponent of the growth of experimental
psychology and through the work of pupils exercised a strong indirect
influence on it as well.
Husserl was perhaps the only major figure in philosophy who was
formed intellectually by both the mathematical and the psychological
currents of the time, as is illustrated by the fact that his principal
mentors were Weierstrass and Brentano.12 Unlike Frege, he was able
to see the issues surrounding psychologism from both sides. Although,
at least in the Logische Untersuchungen, he does in a way extrude
thoughts from the mind, he never at any time separates the issues
concerning the nature of thoughts from the philosophy of mind.
What Frege says about such matters combines rather traditional
elements, such as a conception of ideas hardly differing from that
of classical empiricism, with elements derived from or worked out
inconnection with his logic. Although Frege has the notion of grasping a thought (or, more generally, a sense), he says little about what
this is. Husserl, for better or for worse, always connects what he has
to say about meaning with a much larger story about mind and
Although I am not qualified to engage seriously in the enterprise
myself, I applaud the efforts of recent scholars such as Kevin Mulligan
and Barry Smith to give developments in psychology an important
place in the history of philosophy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The attempt to develop a philosophical psychology by a

Husserl himself confirmed as much at a celebration of his seventieth birthday in

1929. See Schuhmann, Husserl-Chronik, p.345. (Thanks to Dagfinn Fllesdal for
pointing this out.)


method that could be called scientific was, I think, another source of

the standards of argument and analysis associated with analytical philosophy, although its influence was not especially marked on the figures of early analytical philosophy.13

I provide these historical remarks as stage-setting for what is our
proper concern, themes in Husserl that relate him in an interesting way
to analytical philosophy as Dummett characterizes it. Our focus will be
Dummetts question, Why did Husserl not take the linguistic turn? And
more generally, What separates Husserl from analytical philosophy, in
particular in Ideas I? Dummetts answer to the first question is that
Husserls introduction of the noema, which Dummett sees as involving
the generalization of the notion of meaning to all acts, made the linguistic turn impossible.14
This answer poses a difficulty for Dummetts historical picture, since
the essentials for the generalization of meaning to all acts are already
present in the Logische Untersuchungen. Acts are intentional experiences. And intentional experiences are distinguished by the peculiarly
intentional relation to an object that for Brentano was distinctive of
mental phenomena. A point Dummett himself emphasizes is that
linguistic expressions, on actual occasions of use, are meaningful by
virtue of accompanying meaning-conferring acts on the part of the
speaker. The meaning on that occasion of the expressions the speaker
uses is a function of these acts, which themselves have semantical properties. The Fifth Investigation is devoted to exploring these matters for
acts in general. All acts have matter and quality, which are analogous

These considerations would also suggest that the anti-psychologism of Frege,

Husserl, and other figures of the turn of the century should be studied with close
attention to the views of those they were criticizing. Much valuable work of this
kind has been done by Eva Picardi, herself a former student of Dummett who
played a role in the origins of Origins (O, p.vii).
14 Dummetts reading of Husserl is clearly much influenced by Dagfinn Fllesdal.
That is also true of my own. It would be interesting to see the issues considered
here discussed by a commentator who disputes Fllesdals theses concerning the
noema (see Husserls Notion of Noema). Philipse is apparently such a commentator (see O, p. 71), but the discussion of Husserl in Husserl and the Origins
takes another direction.


to sense and force in Freges scheme. For present purposes, it is matter

that is important, since it is matter that determines the relation to an
object, not only to what object an act is directed, but how it is directed
to it.
The matter, therefore, must be that element in an act that first
gives it reference to an object, and reference so wholly definite
that it not merely fixes the object meant in a general way, but
also the precise way in which it is meant. (LU, 5th Investigation, 20, II/1 415, F 589; emphases added in the second
Shortly thereafter Husserl characterizes the matter as the sense of the
objectual interpretation [Auffassung] (II/1 416).
Now the matter is, according to Husserl, a moment of the act, whereas
according to him meanings are ideal. In the Logische Untersuchungen,
they are species, that is, universals instantiated by something concrete. But what instantiates them is the matter of meaning-conferring
acts.15 Husserl introduces this species conception of meaning explicitly
only for expressions. Matter and quality together constitute what he
calls the intentional essence of an act. In the special case of acts that
function or can function as meaning-conferring acts for expressions,
he talks of the semantic essence (bedeutungsmiges Wesen) of the act.
Its ideating abstraction gives rise to the meaning in our ideal sense
(LU, 5th Investigation, 21, II/1 417, F 590).16 Husserl makes clear,
however, that different acts of other kinds, for example perception,
even of different subjects, can share intentional essence and matter in
particular, and he ends a discussion of different types of acts by saying
that something analogous holds for acts of every kind (II/1 420). The
motivation for Husserls introducing ideal meanings only for expressions is probably his concern to give an account of the meaning of linguistic expressions, and not to confine talk of meaning to the case of
linguistic expressions alone.
What, then, is the difference made by the introduction of the noema?
In the terms of Ideas I, the earlier concepts of matter and quality describe aspects of noesis; the matter of an act is a genuine moment of it,

Compare Simons, Meaning and Language, p.114.

Husserl says he will have to investigate later whether all acts can serve as meaningconferring acts.




so that it is what Husserl calls reell. Im not enough of a Husserl

scholar to give a full account of why Husserl became dissatisfied with
the conception of ideal meanings as species. Clearly, he thought of the
correlation of noesis and noema as more intimate than that between
the matter of an act and the ideal meaning it instantiates. On Husserls
account, different noeses, that is, different acts, with exactly the same
noema differ only numerically, or only as events in conscious life;
intentionally they are the same. However, the equivalence involved is
far more refined than what we would ordinarily recognize as sharing a
species. Indeed, in 94 of Ideas I, Husserl makes it clear that the correlation of the noemata to acts of judgment is more refined than the assignment of meanings that concerns logic, what we might call the
assignment of the proposition expressed. Thus, in the case of linguistic
expressions, the move from the species conception of ideal meaning to
the noema conception introduces a more refined way of distinguishing
among meaning-conferring acts. There remains the question of how
equivalences among acts that are not meaning-conferring should be
determined. The Logische Untersuchungen had suggested the possibility of applying the less refined species account here. Husserls move to
the noema yields a more fine-grained account of act equivalences in
this case as well.
In 94 of Ideas I, Husserl brings the notion of noema to bear on
perceptual judgments. He says that, in the case of an object presented
in a certain way, that mode of presentation of that object enters into
the noema of the act of judgment (p.194). Suppose I perceive an apple
tree before me and judge that it is in bloom. I might express this by saying, That apple tree is in bloom. On this view, however, the noema of
the judgment would incorporate the noema of the perception of the
tree, which already on the level of sense would be far richer than what
is communicated in the reference to that apple tree. The hearer may
understand the latter with the help of his own perception of the tree,
the perspective of which will differ from the speakers, so that this perception will have a distinguishable noema. Which apple tree is referred
to may of course also be determined in some other way, so that the
hearer does not need to perceive the tree in order to understand what
apple tree is being said to be in bloom.
Husserls focus in this passage is on the sense of the judgment as an
experience (Urteilserlebnis). We should perhaps think of the question
as being, first of all, What is the full sense of the judgment when it is


made privately, in response to the perception?17 Husserl explicitly refrains from bringing in at this point the complications of expressing the
judgment verbally. The contrast Husserl makes between the full noema
that is at issue when we take the judgment exactly as it is conscious
in this experience and the judgment that concerns formal logic implies, for the reasons just given, that we should not expect full identity
of sense between them (pp.195196). The contrast Husserl explicitly
makes, however, is not one of sense but one drawing on other dimensions of the noema.
Before going further, we have to consider the connection of the concept of noema with Husserls transcendental idealism. That the introduction of the noema coincided with the transcendental turn is, for
Dummett, a reason for locating the beginning of the gulf between analytical and continental philosophy in the development leading to Ideas I.
This could not be because idealism as such is alien to analytical philosophy; it is not. But it can hardly be disputed that Husserls version
of idealism is alien to early analytical philosophy. Even those who dispute the interpretation (held by Dummett) of Frege as a thoroughgoing
realist will agree that there is no place in Freges philosophy for a transcendental ego and its constitution, whatever that elusive Husserlian
term means. And of course Russell and Moore explicitly reacted against
British idealism. Although there are echoes of transcendental philosophy in Wittgensteins Tractatus, here too the upshot is quite different
from that in Husserl, as for example in Wittgensteins statement that
solipsism in the end coincides with pure realism (5.64).
Thus we need to ask, How far is Husserls conception of the noema
bound up with idealism? It is certainly explained in a way that presupposes the phenomenological reduction, at least in 88 of Ideas I, where
Husserl uses the example of perceiving with pleasure a blooming apple
tree. The explanation of the conception includes the equation of the
perceptual sense (noematic sense) with the perceived as such, of judging with the judged as such, and so on (p. 182), equations that
have given rise to much controversy among Husserls interpreters. Husserl wants to describe the fact that, when the positing of the world and
of particular objects in a perception or a thought has been bracketed, it

We will consider later the problem of perception as attributing properties to an

object. If I see a blooming apple tree, its being in bloom is plausibly already part of
the noematic sense of the perception.


still remains a perception of, or a thought of, its objects. In his example
of perceiving with pleasure a blooming apple tree, the transcendent
tree itself is bracketed. And yet, so to speak, Husserl writes,
everything remains as of old. Even the phenomenologically reduced perceptual experience is perception of this blooming apple tree, in this garden, etc., and likewise the reduced liking is a
liking of this same thing. (Ideas I, pp.195196)
In the natural attitude, when I see the tree, I take it for granted that
it is really there; in Husserls terms from the Logische Untersuchungen,
positing belongs to the quality of my act. In Ideas I, Husserl uses the
term thetic character. It belongs to my perceptual consciousness of
the tree to take it to be really there. This is to say both more and less
than that I believe the tree to be really there: more because it is part of
perceptual consciousness; less because, although my perception may
posit the tree, I may because of other knowledge distrust it and believe
the tree is not really there. Since this positing is a moment of the perception itself, it does not disappear with the reduction; it is just put
out of action.18 But what Husserl emphasizes at this point is that what
he is calling the sense of the perception is not bracketed.19 It is not in
any case posited in the act itself but, rather, in the phenomenologists
reflection, despite his not being entitled to make any positing regarding
the outer world. Since it is the sense of a perception, it must be the sense
that the perception has independently of whether its positing is bracketed, and independently of what judgments are made on the basis of it.
(If there are such judgments, they too are potential fodder for phenomenology, although in that case what is put out of action is an essential
element of what makes them judgments as opposed to propositional
acts of other kinds.)
On my reading, it is clearly not necessary to undertake the phenomenological reduction in order to talk of the meaning of acts, and in the
passage that has concerned me Husserl says explicitly that obviously
the perceptual sense belongs to the phenomenologically unreduced perception (perception in the sense of psychology) (Ideas I, 89, p.184).

As phenomenologists we abstain from all such positings. But on that account

we do not reject them by not taking them as our basis, by not joining in them.
They are there; they belong essentially to the phenomenon (Ideas I, 90, p.187).
I ignore the fact that phenomenology also involves an eidetic reduction.


For this reason, I think that Husserls purpose in bringing in the reduction at this point is to emphasize that the sense of our acts survives it,
and the reduction makes it possible to engage in reflections having as
objects only objects that either are really immanent in consciousness or
are meanings of them (in the broad sense including thetic character as
well as sense, but not including reference). The conception of the noema is thus at least to a certain degree independent of the reduction
and of transcendental idealism.
Husserl in Ideas I is, to be sure, more distant from analytical philosophy than he was in the Logische Untersuchungen. What is responsible
for this is not, I think, the generalization of meaning to all acts, which
I have argued is already present in the Logische Untersuchungen. Nor
is it the further development of this generalization in Husserls theory
of the noema. Instead it is, I propose, the Cartesianism underlying the
transcendental reduction. There is a step from the generalization of
meaning to the reduction, but it requires a highly contestable assumption about meaning. Roughly, this assumption is that it is possible to
express and to explicate the meaning of our acts, even on a quite global
level, without making any presuppositions about reference. In 89 of
Ideas I, Husserl describes statements about external reality as undergoing through the reduction a radical modification of sense (p.183).
Bringing to bear Freges theory of indirect reference,20 we could describe this reduction as consisting in our putting our whole description of the world into one big intensional context, where what is designated is not the ordinary reference of the words but their sense. This
description must assume, however, that these senses do not presuppose, for their very existence and identity, reference to external reality.
In particular, it must be assumed that there are no Russellian or
object-dependent thoughts about external reality, which by their
very nature involve reference to particular objects, often in the immediate environment. Another sort of assumption I have in mind, however, is even stronger than the rejection of such thoughts. For meaning
might be dependent on external reference in a more global or diffuse
way. For example, it might be that we could not entertain the thoughts
we do without an existing external world. Or, short of the nonexis20

In fact Husserl echoes Freges theory in this passage, though probably not consciously, in using words such as plant and tree in quotes to indicate the modification of their meaning (p.184).


tence of the external world, it might be that we could not entertain the
thoughts we do about the world if they were radically false. Such a
more global dependence of meaning on reference does not imply the
existence of Russellian thoughts as they are usually understood. But it
is incompatible with the contestable assumption about meaning that
leads from Husserls generalization of meaning to his reduction.
The Cartesian tenor of Husserls justifications of the reduction in
Ideas I as well as in other texts, such as his Cartesian Meditations,
clashes with at least the most characteristic views among analytical
philosophers. At the time of Ideas I, Husserls transcendental idealism
probably also clashed with more widely held views in British and
American philosophy; that was after all a time of reaction against idealism and the revival of realism.21 I would suggest, however, that it is
only later developments that make this clash a step on the way to the
gulf between analytic and continental philosophy. As regards Husserls
own thought, such a gulf is always limited by his adherence to rather
traditional scientific ideals. I would further suggest that we cant very
meaningfully speak of continental philosophy in anything like the
sense current since the Second World War before Heideggers Sein und
Zeit (1927) and other work of the 1920s, such as that of Jaspers.22
Moreover, we must consider that Husserls transcendental idealism did
not find wide acceptance and was not maintained in anything very
close to Husserls form by the most influential later phenomenological


Husserl gave lectures in London in 1922. There does not seem, though, to have
been much understanding between him and the British philosophers he met. See
Spiegelberg, Husserl in England.
Consider Husserls own comment, referring to his preface to the first English
translation of Ideas I, which appeared in 1931:
No account is taken, to be sure, of the situation in German philosophy (very different from the English), with its philosophy of life [Lebensphilosophie], its new
anthropology, its philosophy of existence, competing for dominance. Thus no
account is taken of the reproaches of intellectualism or rationalism which
have been made from these quarters against my phenomenology, and which are
closely connected with my version of the concept of philosophy. In it I restore
the most original idea of philosophy, which, since its first definite formulation
by Plato, underlies our European philosophy and science and designates for it a
task that cannot be lost. (Nachwort zu meinen Ideen, p.138 of reprint; my


On Dummetts reading, Frege parallels Kant in distinguishing between
sensibility and understanding, between the faculty of sensation and
that of thought. Where Frege takes the linguistic turn, he applies it to
the study of thoughts. He has quite a bit to say about ideas (Vorstellungen), taking as prominent examples ideas which Kant would have
called sensible, in particular sense-impressions. But Frege makes no use
of a connection between ideas and language to get at the structures of
ideas. This is not only, though, because ideas have subjects as bearers,
for so do propositional attitudes, but Freges writings contain serious
suggestions as to how to understand the structure of propositional attitudes by way of an analysis of sentences expressing them.
This simple observation is relevant to the question whether Husserls generalization of meaning precluded the linguistic turn. For the
generalization, that is, the extension of the notion of meaning beyond
its application to language, is most in evidence when it is applied in
domains whose relation to a domain of thought is not simple or straightforward. Husserl repeatedly brings up examples from either perception
or imagination. Dummett evidently believes that attributing something
like a sense to perceptions is incompatible with the linguistic turn (O,
p.27). The question is, Why? An inadequate answer would be that a
philosopher who believes that perception involves something fundamentally different from thought could not take the linguistic turn. For
Frege and a large number of subsequent analytic philosophers, including Dummett himself, who certainly do take the linguistic turn, also
accept the Kantian distinction between perception and thought.23
Inany event, the acceptance of this distinction does not obviously go
against Dummetts axiomatic characterization of the linguistic turn:
that thought can and must be analyzed in terms of language. So we must
seek further to see where and how Husserl might have violated Dummetts axioms.
Thoughts as Frege understood them are propositional, and Freges
steps toward the linguistic turn are thus bound up with the context
principle. Translated into the terms of an inquiry into thought, the principle says that there is no such thing as thinking of an object save in
the course of thinking something specific about it (O, p. 5). One

Dummett explicitly affirmed this view in his reply to my APA paper.



might say that, at least in the domain of thought, intentionality is fundamentally propositional. As for perception, according to Frege, something non-sensible is necessary for perception to represent an outside
world. Discussing Freges view of perception, Dummett argues that this
non-sensible must be a complete thought and, at least in most cases,
a judgment (O, p.97). That would give a handle to the linguistic turn,
though not one developed by Frege. We are, however, still left with the
sensible element, in Freges case the sense-impressions. For Frege himself that remained an obstacle, because in his view ideas are incommunicable. The notion that there is something incommunicable in sensory
experience dies hard, as is shown by contemporary controversies about
qualia. But is it clear that every philosophical view about such incommunicability is incompatible with Dummetts axioms of analytical philosophy? To show this, we would have to show that sense-impressions
or qualia or whatever either belong to the domain of thought or else
do not exist.
However this may be, Dummetts claim that it is Husserls generalization of meaning that precludes him from taking the linguistic turn
raises other issues than those about sense-impressions.24 Let us pursue
the matter of Husserls view of the perceptual noema. Dummett attributes to Husserl the view that the noematic sense of acts in general is
expressible in language, a view developed by Fllesdals pupils, particularly Smith and McIntyre in Husserl and Intentionality. It seems that
such expression should give us the same kind of handle on the noematic
sense of perceptions as we have on the structure of thoughts. That
would call in question Dummetts claim that Husserls attribution of
sense to perceptions precludes him from adopting the twin axioms of
the analytical tradition.
Husserl describes the noematic sense of a perception as the perceived as such; one way of saying what this involves would be to say
that it is the sense that would be expressed by the subject in saying
what he perceives. Clearly any one statement would express this sense
very incompletely. So the sense would have to be taken to be expressible in the sense that the subject is able to express, through more and
more detailed description, everything contained in it. Full expression
could be an infinite task. Moreover, there is a criterion of the accuracy

In fact, Dummett is almost silent on Husserls notion of hyletic data and does
not rest any of his case on it.


of an expression: what is reported should be only what is perceived

and not more, although it can and should include what is illusory, provided that it is illusory perception and not a mistaken judgment of
some other kind. This may be a difficult distinction to make, but Husserls conception of horizon is sensitive to the facts involved. The difficulty, related to other difficulties about meaning discussed in the analytic tradition, is how to separate what belongs to the perception itself
from what belongs to the background the subject brings to it and the
inferences he makes from it.
Dummett admits that noematic senses generally are expressible. But
why does he nonetheless think that Husserls theory of the senses of
perceptionsor of acts generallymakes the resources of an analysis
of language unavailable to him?
One reason seems to me to point to something important about perception, though it does not get to the heart of the issue. Dummett refers
to two additional components of Husserls noema beyond the noematic
sense, components he says are not expressible. The first such aspect of
the noema plays a role like that of Freges force; an example is the positing involved in normal perception. The second aspect is perhaps not
really a dimension of meaning at all; it is what makes an act the particular kind of act that it isa perception, imagination, or judgment. If
there is enough correspondence between language and other embodiments of meaning, we can capture noematic sense and the first of these
aspects of the noema by using words of the right sense and force. But
how could words express the second additional aspect? Words can describe it, as when we say that an act is a perception. And perhaps words
could express it in a broader sense of express, as when we talk of
expressing emotion, or when Wittgenstein talks of the natural expression of pain. But these questions of expression, interesting though they
are, are not an issue between Husserl and analytical philosophy as
Dummett characterizes it. For they concern what distinguishes perception from thought.
The second, more fundamental reason why Dummett thinks Husserls conception of the noema of acts like perceptions violates his axioms of analytical philosophy is expressed in the following telling
We should expect the veridicality of the perception or memory,
the realization of the fear or satisfaction of the hope, and so on,


to be explicable as the truth of a judgment or proposition contained within the noematic sense; but we do not know how the
constituent meanings combine to constitute a state of affairs as
intentional object, since they are not, like Freges senses, by their
very essence aimed at truth. (O, p.116)
Perception, according to Husserl, is an act directed to the object
perceived; if we can attribute to it sense and reference, the reference, if
it exists, will be just the object perceived. It thus seems that what the
sense would have to aim at is reference to this object, something
quite different from truth.
Husserl has a reply to Dummetts objection, a reply drawing on a
dimension of his philosophy that Dummett does not treat in Origins or
elsewhere, though it has some relevance to his own views. There is
something a meaning-intention aims at, what Husserl calls fulfillment,
which is achieved when the object of the act is given. The schema of
intention and fulfillment is central to Husserls account of meaning, in
particular in application to nonlinguistic cases like perception. In external perception the object is given, leibhaft gegeben in Husserls famous phrase. That case has, however, a special complexity because external perception always contains unfulfilled intentions toward aspects
of the object that are not properly speaking perceived, such as the back
and the inside of an opaque object. A full description of the meaning of
a perception would have to describe both what is bodily present and
what would fulfill the unfulfilled intentions in the perception.
The intention-fulfillment schema generalizes not the relation of propositions to truth, but their relation to verification. In fact, in Husserls
discussion of truth, much of what he says suggests a verificationist
view.25 This is of interest because there is a line of descent from Husserl
to Heytings explanation of the intuitionistic meaning of the logical
connectives, and from there to much of what Dummett himself has written about an anti-realist program in the theory of meaning. It seems to
me that, to be consistent with his own views, Dummett has to take the
difficulty with Husserls generalization of the notion of meaning to lie
See LU, 6th Investigation, 3639. These sections treat complete verification,
however, as only an ideal possibility, and even that possibility is later called into
question by the thesis of Ideas I that the inadequacy of perception of transcendent
objects is essential to them. These issues are instructively discussed in chapter 3 of
Gail Soffer, Husserl and the Question of Relativism.



in the manner of its generalization to categories other than sentences,

propositions, or judgments, rather than in Husserls replacement of the
notion of truth with the more directly epistemic notion of fulfillment.
In his reply to my APA paper, Dummett raises another point, namely
that Husserl does not give a compositional theory in his discussions
of meaning. This cant really be quarreled with: though Husserl did
have ideas for the program of giving such a theory, even in application
to linguistic meaning his position is far less developed than Freges. It
is also the case that Husserl does not hold a principle like Freges context principle; for Husserl, terms are at least as basic units as sentences.
But this is not a fatal obstacle, as is indicated by the existence of formalized languages based on the -calculus and their application to the
semantics of natural language. I suspect that what Dummett sees as
fatal to Husserls taking the linguistic turn is his generalization of the
notion of meaning to a domain where a compositional theory is not
possible. That that might be the case for perception is not wildly unlikely. But since perception is not thought, the implications of such
a conclusion for the linguistic turn as Dummett conceives it are not

Now let us consider the delicate question of whether fulfillment of a
perception (or perhaps of any act) can properly be considered to be, in
Dummetts terms, the verification of judgments or propositions contained in the noematic sense (O, p. 116, quoted above). Husserls
view was that perceptions are nominal and not propositional acts;
an expression in language of their senses would, I have suggested, be
given by saying what is perceived. That would be done more faithfully
to Husserls intention by using noun phrases rather than sentences.
Furthermore, Husserl distinguishes the positing involved in perception
from that in judgment. The former positing might be compared to using
a singular noun phrase with the presupposition that it designates something, though we should not rush to the conclusion that some proposition to the effect that the phrase designates something, or of the form
P exists, where P is the phrase in question, is part of the noema of the
act. Still Husserl seems to regard perception as attributing properties to
the perceived object.


It is instructive to consider a passage in Ideas I, 124, the same section Dummett adduces to justify attributing to Husserl the thesis that
noematic senses are expressible (O, p.114). Husserl writes:
For example: an object is present to perception with a determined
sense, posited monothetically in the [thus] determined fullness.
As is our normal custom after first seizing upon something perceptually, we effect an explicating of the given and a relational
positing which unifies the parts or moments singled out perhaps
according to the schema, This is white. This process does not
require the minimum of expression, neither of expression in
the sense of verbal sound, nor of anything like a verbal signifying. But if we have thought or asserted, This is white, then a
new stratum is co-present, unified with the purely perceptual
meant as meant.
In the next paragraph of 124 (quoted by Dummett), Husserl writes,
Expression is a remarkable form, which allows itself to be adapted
to every sense (to the noematic nucleus) and raises it to the realm of
logos, of the conceptual and thereby of the universal.
The new stratum, evidently conceptual, must be what prompts
Dummetts comment that the noematic sense can be expressed linguistically, but is not, in general, present as so expressed in the mental
act which it informs (O, p.114). In the passage I have quoted, Husserl does not use noun phrases to express the sense, as I have suggested
he might have done; rather he uses a sentence. That seems to me, however, not the essential point. It seems that neither the sentence, This is
white, nor a noun phrase like this white thing gives quite accurately
even that part of the meaning of the perception it is meant to render.
On Husserls conception, nominal acts are simpler than propositional
acts; nominal acts simply intend an object, whereas a synthesis connecting such references is necessary for judgment. Moreover, it is by
expression that the conceptual and universal are brought in. The
reference to explicating parts or moments also suggests that it may
be Husserls view that what is meant perceptually is the objects particular moment of whiteness, not that it is white.26 If that is so, then the
26 This is the view taken by Kevin Mulligan in his rich and illuminating article
Perception. His interpretation refers, however, to the Logische Untersuchungen



expression in language does not quite give the perceptual sense, since
that aspect is not explicitly preserved in the linguistic expression. But
elsewhere (for example at the end of 130), Husserl does say that the
noema contains predicates. That seems to be his dominant view in
Ideas I. If there is equivocation, it is in response to a genuine philosophical difficulty, which, though its particular formulation may be an artifact
of Husserls apparatus and commitments, also arises in other philosophical discussions of perception. The difficulty is how perceptual consciousness is related to belief and judgment. One is reminded of the debate of
recent years about whether there is a nonconceptual content of experience, with Gareth Evans and Christopher Peacocke taking the affirmative side and John McDowell the negative.27 More simply put, Does
the statement that someone sees that this is white report what he sees,
or rather report a judgment he makes on the basis of what he sees?
It is not clear to me how Husserl reconciles the view that nominal acts
are inherently simpler than propositional acts with the view of perception as attributing properties to the object and therefore as presumably
involving the subject in something that, if not exactly judgment, at least
has the content that x is F. And the source of my unclarity is not only, I
think, the limitations of my knowledge of Husserl.
Let me first consider the view that Mulligan finds in Husserls earlier writings. In fact, it is not directly inconsistent with the interpretation of Ideas I that I have favored, according to which the noema of an
act attributes properties to the object. For it is a view about the objects
of perceptual acts. According to this view, perception of a white object
will contain a perception of its color moment. If the subjects attention
is directed to the color moment, however, things will be in a way reand Husserls 1907 lectures, Ding und Raum, so to texts earlier than the Ideas.
Still, that Husserl continued to hold this view in later years is indicated by his
account of the genesis of perceptual judgment in Erfahrung und Urteil; see
See Evans, Varieties, ch. 5; Peacocke, Study of Concepts; and McDowell, Mind
and World, lecture 3. The discussion in Origins of the consciousness of animals
seems to be responding to this debate, and Dummett mentioned McDowells
view in his reply to my APA paper. I have found it difficult to place Husserls
position on these issues. Mulligan clearly interprets the earlier Husserl as being
on Evanss side, and the conception of pre-predicative experience in Erfahrung
und Urteil does look to tend in that direction. But the fact that the noema is very
much in the background in that work makes it difficult to draw any definitive


versed: the perception of the color moment will, as a perception of a

moment of a certain object, contain a perception of the object, but
now relegated a little bit into the background. It is important to realize
that these remarks concern the object and not the noematic sense. But
the implication seems to be that an act directed to the moment of whiteness will have its own noematic sense. It seems that we could not rule
out different acts, or even different perceptions, having the same moment
of whiteness as their object but differing in noematic sense. In what could
this difference consist? At least one possible (no doubt partial) answer
would take us back where we were before: that different acts would
attribute to the moment different properties. That seems to be the answer implicit in Ideas I, and I am not sure what other answers are available. I confess I also have difficulty understanding what the moments
corresponding to properties and relations are. Can I understand what
an objects moment of whiteness is without understanding what it is
for it to be white? Husserl might concede that I cannot but reply that
neither is necessary in order to see the objects moment of whiteness.
But how is seeing a moment of whiteness different from seeing a white
object whose color is visible? That there is some consciousness of the
color of an object that is more primitive than applying the specific concept white to it will probably be accepted by all parties to such disputes. But if the moment is not derivative from the concept or property,
why is its specific description helpful in understanding how perception
of a white object can ground the judgment that it is white?28 It seems
as difficult to get from a perception of a white color-moment to the judgment that the object is white as to see that the object is white to begin
with. If the perception of the moment is thus derivative, have we really
captured the greater primitiveness of the consciousness of color? It
seems to me that an appeal to perception as perception of moments of
properties does not resolve our difficulty.
Another point is that it is not at all clear how Husserl conceives the
role of such moments where relations are concerned. In introducing the
conception of a property-moment, Husserl says, in his Third Investigation,

The view that the perceptual moment is not derivative from the property seems
to me more plausible in itself and probably as an interpretation of Husserl. Consider
an object that is red in a particular way, say one that is scarlet. If its color moment
derives from the property, then it seems it will need to have both a moment of redness and a moment of scarletness, and these would have to be distinguished. But I
do not find any phenomenological basis for such a distinction.


that every non-relational real predicate therefore points to a part of

the object which is the predicates subject (LU, 3rd Investigation, 2,
II/1 228, F 437; emphasis mine). So far as I have determined, though,
he does not say here whether something analogous holds for relational
predicates of two or more places. In perceptual cases, he might well say
that to relations correspond certain unity-moments of what is perceived as a whole; certainly it was part of his view that there are such
moments. Outside the perceptual context, however, that line of argument is highly strained. In the account of the genesis of judgments of
the form S is p in 5052 of Erfahrung und Urteil, Husserl treats
perception of the object S and of its p-moment. And in 53 he discusses
the corresponding issue of simple relational judgments. I dont find his
treatment very clear, but at least he avoids claiming that, if A is greater
than B, there is something in A that is the individual manifestation
of its being greater than B. Instead the text seems to favor the interpretation according to which, in general, relations do not have corresponding to them moments of the objects they relate in the way that monadic
properties do. For example, Husserl summarizes the discussion with the
Accordingly, we must distinguish:
1. Absolute adjectivity. To every absolute adjective corresponds
a dependent moment of the substrate of determination, arising
in internal explication and determination.
2. Relative adjectivity, arising on the basis of external contemplation and the positing of relational unity, as well as the act of
relational judgment erected on it. (Erfahrung und Urteil, 53,
p.267; trans. pp.224225)
In cases where the noema of a perception attributes a monadic property (say, whiteness) to the object, it is reasonable to suppose that the
perception is, among other things, of a moment corresponding to that
property. A perceptual noema will, however, also attribute all sorts of
relations; Husserls view on the extent to which these too are based on
perception of moments is not clear to me. Husserls reluctance to extend such a view to even the most basic relational judgments casts
doubt on the attribution to him of the suggestion (to me very implausible) that every relation between objects A and B holds by virtue of a
moment of some complex consisting of A and B.


Let us attack again the distinction between perception and perceptual judgment. We can certainly distinguish between seeing a white object, say a white sheet of paper, and seeing of the sheet that it is white,
or seeing that there is a sheet of white paper present. Now I may see a
white sheet of paper without in any way identifying it as such, for example if the lighting conditions deceive me as to its color and for some
other reason I also do not detect its being paper. In that case only another person, or I myself in the light of later knowledge, can say that I
see (or saw) a sheet of white paper. For this reason, we normally take
x sees y to be a straightforward predicate, with whatever replaces
y as purely referential. But in the normal case, our perception is of a
sheet of white paper in an intentional sense; on the interpretation we
have been following, we could use the phrase a sheet of white paper
to render part of the noematic sense of the perception. In this situation
we see it as a sheet of white paper. For Husserl, that the conception of
the noema as attributing properties such as these does not imply that
we judge that the paper is white, as perhaps we do when we express
our perception by making a remark to that effect, should be clear from
the above-quoted passage from 124 of Ideas I. Reserving the locution
see that the paper is white for the case where there is a judgment
would preserve Husserls view of perception as a nominal and not a
propositional act.29
I offer these observations in order to clarify the distinction between
the noematic sense of a perception and the content of a perceptual judgment. But I still have to consider the question of the simplicity of perception. Our inclination would be to think of predicates in a more or
less Fregean way, as sentences with empty argument places, so that, if
our perception has the content a white sheet of paper, that perception would presuppose x is white and x is a sheet of paper. But we
should not assume that Husserl thought of predicates in this way.
In his account in Erfahrung und Urteil, the clearest difference between the pre-predicative level of perceptual experience and the level
at which predicative judgment emerges is that the attribution of properties to the object at the former level is implicit and only becomes

The suggestion of using a distinction between seeing as and seeing that in this
connection was made to me in conversation by Pierre Keller, to whom I am much
indebted here.


explicit upon both singling out certain properties and, by a synthesis

giving rise to a judgment, formulating judgments of the form S is p.
This account would allow Husserl to hold, as Evans did, that there is
a level of experience that involves attributing properties to objects
but does not require having the concepts that enter into the judgments.
Thus, for example, seeing something as white might be reflected in behavior in various ways without the judgment that it is white being
formulated and, in particular, without undertaking the commitment
that such a judgment involves.30 On this account, the perceptual judgment that x is white, for example, makes explicit something implicit
in the perception. Husserl clearly thinks that even the most primitive
judgment applies to the object a general concept (Erfahrung und Urteil, 49, pp.240241, trans. p.204), though the point is obscured in
his account of the genesis of a monadic judgment by his emphasis on
attending to moments. For him, there is always then still implicit in
the judgment a reference to the general essence, say whiteness. Husserl does not tell us, though, how the generality arises. Since he makes
clear that something of the kind is already present in pre-predicative
experience, however, it too could be a making explicit of what was
Our problem reduces, finally, to an independent difficulty, namely
how a propositional act arises by a synthesis of subject and predicate
and how it is thus founded on prior nominal acts. Husserls view seems
to me bound to leave mysterious how the generality of the predicate
arises. We can agree with Husserl that there is a level where predication remains implicit while also agreeing with Frege that what is thus
implicit is something of propositional form, what I have expressed
as that x is F. On this strategy, propositional acts are indeed founded
on nominal acts, but in the following way: acts with definite propositional content are seen to arise from the making explicit of contents of
perception that are already propositional, though implicitly so. This
making explicit, by singling out one particular predicate, obviously
leaves out much else that is part of the content of the perception. But a
simple judgment does have the property of being founded on prior
nominal acts, since it is clearly founded on the perception of the object

One difference between Husserls discussion and the contemporary one is that
he does not emphasize what does or does not belong to the space of reasons,
though I think the question is not entirely absent from his work.


involved.31 Such is what happens when the noema of a perception is

Whatever we think about the adequacy of Husserls analyses, it is
important to see that his problems with the relation of the noema of a
perception to its expression concern not thought itself but how perception relates to thought. The idea that perception has a sense does not,
then, make the linguistic turn impossible for Husserl. It is true that the
separation between thought itself and what is centrally related to it
will seem too neat. But then we see a problem with the linguistic turn:
the expressibility of the sense of a perception leaves, as both Husserl and
Dummett point out, an unavoidable distance between the perception
and the expression of it. This is, however, not obviously an artifact of
the idea of the noema. For perception and perceptual judgment are not
the same thing. Rather the dependence of thought on perception implies that something important for the study of thought has to be approached by other methods. This might indeed be a reason for not
giving the linguistic turn quite the central role many analytic philosophers have given it. The result need not be the adoption of a method
like Husserls phenomenological method, but some method is needed,
perhaps an appropriation and analysis of the results of empirical
Husserls thinking has another feature that separates him from the
mainstream of analytical philosophy. However, it was present in Husserls thought from the beginning and is not a product of the period of
his transcendental turn. That is that for him the basic concept is that of
intentionality, where intentionality is consciousness of an object. In
spite of the fact that he attributes something like force to all acts, nothing like Freges context principle ever occurs to Husserl. To the contrary, he searches in much of his philosophizing for a level of meaning
more basic than anything that takes propositional form. I would see
this as the fundamental obstacle to Husserls taking the linguistic turn.
It might well be argued that his treatment of questions clearly within
the philosophy of thought as Dummett conceives it suffers as a result.
But his explorations of perception and time-consciousness are not obviously part of that domain, and it would take a great deal of argument

Dagfinn Fllesdal suggested in conversation that the greater simplicity of perception is a matter of its thetic character. I think these remarks express some of what
he had in mind; I would have liked, however, to pin the idea down more precisely.


to show that there too the linguistic turn would provide the key. Ironically, although Husserls philosophy of perception may be the part of
his work that has most attracted analytical philosophers,32 it is a domain where the linguistic turn as Dummett formulates it seems to encounter limits.33


That is certainly true of Fllesdal and his pupils and also of Mulligan.
The present essay is descended from one written for a symposium on Michael
Dummetts Origins of Analytical Philosophy at the meeting of the Central Division
of the American Philosophical Association in Pittsburgh on April 26, 1997, with
Richard Cartwright as co-symposiast. That essay concentrated on what Dummett
had to say about Husserl. The further work leading to the present essay owes much
to Dummetts constructive and interesting reply on that occasion and to comments
by Jason Stanley. Dagfinn Fllesdal also commented in detail on a presentation of
the same essay at the University of Oslo, and he has made other helpful suggestions. I am indebted to Pierre Keller both for written comments on an intermediate
version and for a helpful discussion. Much of the writing of the present version
was done during a visit to the University of Oslo, to which I am indebted for hospitality and support, in particular again to Dagfinn Fllesdal. I am grateful to the
editors for the many improvements they have proposed.







In general, this bibliography and the references in the various essays follow the
same conventions as in my previous books, Mathematics in Philosophy and Mathematical Thought and Its Objects. Works are cited by author and title only, the
latter sometimes abbreviated. The following principles govern citations:
1. Works of an author are listed alphabetically by title rather than chronologically, to facilitate locating an entry.
2. In the essays, books are cited in the latest edition listed in this bibliography,
unless explicitly stated otherwise.
3. For articles, reprintings in collections of the authors own papers are listed,
but reprintings in anthologies are not. Where there is a collection of the
authors papers, reference is to the reprint in the collection.
4. For two authors I observe special conventions: In the case of Kant, see the
Note to Part I. In the case of Frege, as explained in Essay 5, writings
published in his lifetime are cited in the original pagination.
Allison, Henry E. The Kant-Eberhard Controversy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973.
. Kants Transcendental Idealism. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press,
1983. 2nd ed., revised and enlarged, 2004.
Anderson, C. Anthony. Some New Axioms for the Logic of Sense and Denotation:
Alternative (0). Nos 14 (1980), 217234.
Awodey, Steve, and Carsten Klein (eds.). Carnap Brought Home: The View from
Jena. Chicago and La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 2004.
See also Reck and Awodey.
Baum, Manfred. The B-Deduction and the Refutation of Idealism. Southern
Journal of Philosophy 25 (supplement) (1987), 89107.
Beaney, Michael (ed.). The Frege Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.
Beck, Lewis White. Can Kants Synthetic Judgments Be Made Analytic? KantStudien 47 (1956), 168181. Reprinted in Studies in the Philosophy of Kant
(Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965).
Beiser, Frederick C. The Fate of Reason: German Philosophy from Kant to Fichte.
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987.
. Mathematical Method in Kant, Schelling, and Hegel. In Domski and
Dickson, pp.243258.


Benacerraf, Paul. Mathematical Truth. The Journal of Philosophy 70 (1973),

Beth, E. W. ber Lockes allgemeines Dreieck. Kant-Studien 48 (19561957),
Bolzano, Bernard. Beytrge zu einer begrndeteren Darstellung der Mathematik.
Prague: Caspar Widtmann, 1810. Reprinted with an introduction by Hans
Wussing, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1974. Translated by
Steven Russ in Ewald, From Kant to Hilbert, vol. 1, pp.176224.
. Rein analytischer Beweis des Lehrsatzes, dass zwischen je zwei Werten, die
ein engegengesetztes Resultat gewhren, wenigstens eine reelle Wurzel der
Gleichung liege. Prague: Gottlieb Haase, 1817. Translated by Steven Russ in
Ewald, From Kant to Hilbert, vol. 1, pp.227248.
. Wissenschaftslehre. 4 vols. Sulzbach, 1837.
Boolos, George. The Iterative Conception of Set. The Journal of Philosophy 68
(1971), 215231. Reprinted in Logic, Logic, and Logic.
. Logic, Logic, and Logic. Edited by Richard Jeffrey. With Introductions
and Afterword by John P. Burgess. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 1998.
Brentano, Franz. Die Abkehr vom Nichtrealen. Edited by Franziska MayerHillebrand. Bern: A. Francke, 1966.
. Kategorienlehre. Edited by Alfred Kastil. Leipzig: Meiner, 1933. Translated
by Roderick M. Chisholm and Norbert Gutterman as The Theory of Categories. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1980.
. Die Lehre vom richtigen Urteil. Edited by Franziska Mayer-Hillebrand.
Bern: A. Francke, 1956.
. The Origin of the Knowledge of Right and Wrong. Translated by Roderick
M. Chisholm and Elizabeth Schneewind. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
. Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt. Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot,
1874. 2nd ed. edited by Oskar Kraus. Leipzig: Meiner, 1924. Translation of
2nd ed., Psychology.
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Essay 1 appeared in Paul Guyer (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Kant (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 62100, copyright 1992 by
Cambridge University Press, reprinted by permission of the publisher and editor.
Essay 2 appeared in Topoi, vol. 3 (1984), pp.109121, copyright 1984 by D.
Reidel Publishing Company, and is reprinted by kind permission of Springer Science and Business Media.
Essay 3 appeared in Allen W. Wood (ed.), Self and Nature in Kants Philosophy
(Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1984), copyright 1984 by Cornell University, and is reprinted by permission of the editor and Cornell University Press.
Essay 4 appeared in Mary Domski and Michael Dickson (eds.), Discourse on a New
Method: Reinvigorating the Marriage of History and Philosophy of Science (Chicago
and La Salle, Ill.: Open Court Publishing Company, 2010), copyright 2010 by Carus
Publishing Company, and is reprinted by permission of the editors and publisher.
Essay 5 appeared in Matthias Schirn (ed.), Studien zu Frege I: Logik und Philosophie der Mathematik (Stuttgart: Fromann-Holzboog, 1976), pp.265277, and is
reprinted by permission of the editor and publisher.
Essay 6 appeared as Review Article: Gottlob Frege, Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel, in Synthese, vol. 52 (1982), pp. 325343, copyright 1982 by D. Reidel
Publishing Company, and is reprinted by kind permission of Springer Science and
Business Media.
Essay 7 appeared in Dale Jacquette (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Brentano
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp.168196, copyright 2004
by Cambridge University Press, and is reprinted by permission of the publisher and
Essay 8 appeared in Juliet Floyd and Sanford Shieh (eds.), Future Pasts: The Analytic Tradition in Twentieth-Century Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2001). Copyright was retained by the author. The essay is reprinted by permission
of the editors and Oxford University Press.


Absolutist versus relationist conceptions

of space and time, 18; argument from
incongruent counterparts, 1920; Kant,
Von dem ersten Grunde des Unterschiedes der Gegenden im Raume (Regions in
Space), 12
Acceleration, 73, 78
Actuality, 44. See also Existence
Aedequatio rei et intellectus, 164; Brentanos deflationary reading of, 182183.
See also Truth, correspondence theory of
Agglomeration (Aggregat), 118119. See
also Number; Set and element
Algebra, 66, 85, 89, 107, 110; as general
arithmetic, 108; objects of, 107108;
synthetic a priori judgments in, 108
Alteration. See Change
Analytical philosophy, 190195; gulf with
continental philosophy, 191, 201
Analytic of Principles, 7576
Analytic-synthetic distinction. See Judgment
Anschauung. See Intuition
Antimonies of Pure Reason, 33
Appearances, 29, 33, 37, 38, 45; of outer
sense, 29
A priori, 5, 7176; a priori concepts, 6, 31,
93; a priori intuition, 5, 6, 11, 3032, 93,
9596; a priori judgments, 5, 6; a priori
knowledge, 6, 41, 71, 7576; a priori
knowledge of objects, 45; a prioriprocedure, 75; a priori representation, 6; a
priori synthesis, 93; Bolzano on a priori
intuition, 9192, 94, 97; Kitcher on (see

Kitcher, Philip); nonpure a prioriknowledge, 70; pure, 69; quasi a priori

knowledge, 73; representation of space is
a priori (see Representation)
Aristotle, 163; on truth, 178
Arithmetic, 28, 29, 42, 55, 57, 6467, 85,
8990, 95, 102, 107110, 155; arithmetical propositions, 112; arithmetic has
noaxioms, 84, 87, 97, 109110, 114;
axiomatization of arithmetic, 98, 135;
conception of as a realm of mere
concepts, 67; content of arithmetic, 112;
Frege on arithmetic, 125, 128, 129;
general propositions in arithmetic, 114;
necessity of construction for arithmetic,
61; proofs of arithmetical identities, 65n,
9394, 112114; relation to space (see
Space); relation to time (see Time);
Schultz on arithmetic, 8384, 110; as
synthetic and dependent on intuition, 58;
synthetic a priori judgments, 108
Associativity, 8490, 113114. See also
Bolzano, Bernard
Axioms, 2527, 80, 8384, 8789, 90,
9698, 102103, 106, 125126; existence
axioms, 25, 90; immediately certain, 106.
See also Arithmetic; Geometry; Set theory
Axioms of Intuition, 45, 48, 5052, 58
Baumgarten, Alexander Gottlieb: Metaphysica, 51; whole/part relation (see
Whole and part)
Beck, J. S., 7, 98
Beck, Lewis White, 102



Benacerraf, Paul, 31
Beth, E. W., 26, 8081, 93, 102
Bolzano, Bernard, 80, 9199; on a priori
intuition, 9192, 94, 97; on associative
law of addition, 9495; Beitrge zu einer
begrndeteren Darstellung der Mathematik, 91, 9596; on construction of
number in time (see Construction); on the
distinction between representation and
what is represented (see Representation);
on intuition (see Intuition); logical
platonism, 95; on necessary judgments,
92; on necessity as a property ofjudgments (see Necessity); on pure intuition
(see Intuition); Rein analytischer Beweis,
96; on representation (see Representation); on the role of pure intuition in
mathematics (see Intuition); 7 + 5 = 12,
93, 192; on time and arithmetic,
Brentano, Franz, 161189, 194, 195; on
concepts, 175176; modes of presentation, 173175; reism, 163, 175; on truth,
175189. See also Evidence, Brentanos
view of; Judgment (Brentano); Truth,
correspondence theory of
Brittan, Gordon, 71, 102
Brouwer, L. E. J., 188189
Buchdahl, Gerd, 71
Burge, Tyler, 131132
Calculation, 67
Cantor, Georg, 5153, 62, 118, 133135,
148; on consistent and inconsistent
multiplicities, 129; correspondence with
Dedekind, 129, 148; Grundlagen einer
allgemeinen Mannigfaltigkeitslehre, 133;
quantitative determination ofextensions, 134; Tait on Cantor, 133134; on
the totality of sets, 129, 133134. See
also Set and element
Cardinality. See Number; Set and element
Carnap, Rudolf, 142, 190; on Frege,
126127, 135136; Logical Syntax, 137
Carson, Emily, 105
Categories, 45, 72, 76, 78; categories of
quantity (see Quantity); categories of

relation, 77; objective reality of the

categories (see Objective reality); pure
categories, 54, 111; schematizedcategories, 58, 75; Table of Categories, 50
Categories of quantity. See Quantity
Cauchy, Augustin-Louis, 96
Cause, 38, 73; category of causality, 78;
concept of causality, 75; principle of
causality, 73, 78
Change (Vernderung), 6, 28, 75, 78;
alteration of the state of a substance, 73;
Cambridge change, 73; change of state,
73, 78; as an empirical concept, 72;
objective change, 73; objective reality of
the concept of alteration, 7375
Chisholm, Roderick M., 167, 168
Church, Alonzo, 142, 153
Classes, 148, 150152, 155; Frege on,
120123, 125, 133, 142143, 149,
155157. See also Extension; Russell,
Closure property, 87
Cognitive faculties, 7879
Commutativity, 8485, 8990, 113114;
Leibniz on, 97
Composition. See Whole and part
Compositum. See Whole and part
Concepts (Frege), 121124, 127128, 133,
155; empty, 119; as functions, 125;
number as attaching to, 60; second-level,
Concepts (Kant), 31, 45, 49, 53, 56, 78, 83;
abstract conception of whole, part, and
quantity (see Whole and part); actuation
in the concrete, 57, 60; analysis of
concepts, 22; concept formation in
geometry, 83; construction of concepts
(see Construction); containment in
another concept, 22, 91; derivative,
5354; empirical, 7072; intellectual, 60;
mathematical, 6, 45; necessary connection of concepts and judgment (see
Judgment [Kant]); of object in the A
deduction, 38; pure, 43; pure, but derived
concepts of understanding, 72; singular,
7. See also Kitcher, Philip
Conservation of matter. See Matter



Constructibility, 44, 46; as Kantian version

of mathematical existence, 44
Construction, 44, 58, 66, 81, 90; conditions
of the construction of concepts, 96;construction of concepts in pure intuition,
2425, 47, 91, 93, 95 108, 112; in
Euclidean geometry, 24, 48, 66, 89, 104,
105, 108; intuitive construction, 108;
necessity for arithmetic (see Arithmetic);
ostensive construction, 47, 66; ostensive
construction of numbers, 58; plural
constructions in natural language, 131;
ofquantities (see Quantity); series of
numbers, 61; symbolic construction, 27,
47, 48, 65, 107 (see also Shabel, Lisa);
time is involved in mathematical
(ostensive) construction, 65, 67, 112
Constructivism, 68
Continuum, 5456
Copernican hypothesis, 32, 37
Correspondence theory of truth: Brentanos
early questioning of, 164, 178179; effort
to save, 179180; virtual abandonment
of, 181183
Couturat, Louis, correspondence with
Frege, 141
Dasein, 47, 94
Dedekind, Richard, 63, 134; Frege on
Dedekind, 118120; on systems (see Set
and element); Was sind und was sollen
die Zahlen?, 135
Definite descriptions, 7
Deflationism about truth, 189
Demonstratives, 9
Description theory of names, 9
Dingler, Hugo, correspondence with Frege,
Direct reference, 8, 32
Discipline of Pure Reason in its Dogmatic
Employment (Use), 45, 102; on geometric
proof (see Geometry)
Distortion Picture (view), 34, 37
Divisibility of quanta. See Quantity
Dummett, Michael, 190193, 207, 213;conception of analytical philosophy, 191193
Dynamical Principles (Dynamics), 71, 73, 76

Eberhard, J. A., 44
Ehrenfels, Christian von, 185
Empirical content, 72
Equality of action and reaction, 71, 77
Erscheinungen, 34. See also Appearances
Euclid, 82, 97; Euclidean constructions (see
Construction); Euclidean geometry (see
Geometry); Euclidean space (see Space)
Euler, Leonhard, on space, 19
Evans, Gareth, 208, 212
Evidence, Brentanos view of: characterization of truth in terms of, 184; difficulties
of the characterization, 185
Existence, 44; existence at a definite time,
44; existence statements, 81; Wirklichkeit, 44, 47
Experience, 28, 72, 73, 78; analogies of
experience, 44; formal conditions of
experience, 45; objects of experience, 38;
outer experience, 75
Extension, Freges conception of, 117137;
as derived in relation to concepts, 121,
155156. See also Predicate; Russell,
Bertrand; Set and element
Extensionality, 119120, 124
Feature (Merkmal), 7
Finite, 63; finite iteration (see Time); finite
ordinals, 63; successive repetition, 62, 63
First Analogy, 77. See also Quantity
Fllesdal, Dagfinn, 195n, 213n
Forces, distribution of, 73
Form of appearances of outer sense, 29
Form of intuition. See Intuition
Frege, Gottlob, 63, 64, 117160, 190,
202203, 212; on arithmetic (seeArithmetic); Aufzeichnungen fr Ludwig
Darmstaedter, 127, 156; Ausfhrungen
ber Sinn und Bedeutung, 142; Basic
Laws, 132, 136; Begriffschrift, 124125,
136; Booles rechnende Logik und die
Begriffschrift, 141; cardinal number (see
Number); Carnap on Frege, 126127,
135136; on classes (see Classes); on
concepts (see Concepts [Frege]); context
principle, 213; on Dedekind (see
Dedekind, Richard); Die Grundlagen der



Frege, Gottlob (continued)

Arithmetik, 118120, 131132, 141, 145,
156; equipollence, 143; on extension (see
Extension, Freges conception of); Fregean
type theory, 151; Frege-Hilbertcontroversy, 140; on function and object, 147,
150; Funktion und Begriff, 141, 145146;
on geometry, 129; Grundgesetze der
Arithmetik, 118, 123124, 126, 131132,
134136, 142, 149, 150, 155; Humes
Principle, 135; indirect reference of the
second degree, 142; on infinity, 128129;
on logic (see Logic); logicism, 128, 135,
136; Logik in der Mathematik, 126,
136; Nachgelassene Schrifien, 123, 136,
140; on negation, contrast with Brentano,
163164, 173; notion of force, 161162,
204; on the null set (see Set and element);
on number (see Number); on objects (see
Objects); on quantification (see Quantification); on Schoenflies (see Schoenflies,
Arthur Moritz); on second-order logic (see
Logic); On Sense and Reference, 142
(see also Sense and reference); on sets (see
Set and element); on set theory (see Set
theory); Tait on Frege, 134135; on types,
150; Way Out, 123, 124, 149, 151; on
Weierstrass, 126; Wertverlufe, 120, 122,
123, 126, 133, 149; on whole and part,
154. See also Couturat, Louis; Dingler,
Hugo; Hilbert, David; Husserl, Edmund;
Jourdain, Philip E. B.; Korselt, A. R.;
Lwenheim, Leopold; Pasch, Moritz;
Peano, Giuseppe; Russell, Bertrand;
Wittgenstein, Ludwig; Zsigmondy, Karl
Friedman, Michael, 26, 81, 84, 87, 89,
93,96, 100, 102110; on geometry,
103104; on intuition, 81; on Kant on
addition, 89
Fulfillment, 205206
Function symbols, 90, 151
Gabriel, Gottfried, 136, 145
General Observations (8 augmented in B),
11, 36, 3940
General principles, 90
General terms, 8

Geometry, 1418, 21, 2230, 35, 37, 65, 82,

85, 99, 102108; applied geometry, 23; a
priori, 102; argument from the necessity of
geometry, 39; axiomatization of geometry,
17, 25, 142; axioms of geometry, 21,
2627; concept formation in geometry
(see Concepts [Kant]); as dependent on
intuition, 102; Euclidean constructions,
24, 85; geometrical construction
(see Construction); geometrical knowledge, 36, 106; geometrical reasoning,
2427; geometric proof, Kants analysis of,
102; infinity of space prior to geometry
(see Space); its objects as quanta, 107; as
synthetic, 21, 102
Goodman, Nelson, calculus of individuals,
Guyer, Paul, 3537, 3940
Herder, Johann Gottfried von, 113114
Heyting, Arend, 205
Hilbert, David, 25; correspondence with
Frege, 140141
Hintikka, Jaakko, 8, 11, 26, 8081, 93, 102;
on the concept of intuition, 81; on the
immediacy of intuition, 100
Homogeneity, 5354. See also Space; Whole
and part
Howell, Robert, 8, 101
Husserl, Edmund, 141147, 190214;
correspondence with Frege, 144147;
generalization of meaning to all acts,
195196; intentionality as basic, 213;
lack of context principle, 213; meaning as
species, 196; on psychologism, 144; on
pure theory of manifolds, 146; on sense
and reference (Gegenstand), 147; on
truth and evidence, 186188
Hylton, Peter, 193
Idealization in science. See Science
Identity puzzle, 154
Image (Bild), 5960; distinguished from
schema, 59; space as a pure image of
quanta (see Space); spatio-temporal image
of a number (see Number); time as a pure
image of quanta (see Time)



Imagination, 32, 45; (transcendental)

synthesis of imagination (see Synthesis)
Immediacy. See Intuition
Inaugural Dissertation, 28, 5658, 103,
114; Longuenesse on, 111; number in, 59,
60, 63, 111
Indirect contexts, 152153
Induction, mathematical, 9091, 126
Intellect, 57
Intensional view of appearances and things
in themselves, 3839, 40
Intuition (Anschauung), 6, 23, 24, 25, 26,
29,30, 31, 33, 45, 47, 57, 58, 67, 8283,
91, 93, 95, 100; a priori intuition (see A
priori); Bolzano on intuition, 9495;
Bolzano on pure intuition, 91, 96; Bolzano
on the role of pure intuition in mathematics, 92; constructions in intuition (see
Construction); empirical intuition, 102;
forms of intuition, 29, 4041, 65, 112; in
general, 112; imagination is immediate
(see Imagination); immediacy condition, 7,
8, 9, 1011; immediacy of intuition, 30,
82, 101102; intellectual intuition, 10, 83;
intuition of motion, 75; and magnitude,
106107; in mathematical inference,
80,96, 106; outer intuition, 30, 75, 77;
pure intuition, 22, 29, 45, 102; sensible
intuition, 83; singularity of intuition, 82;
as a singular representation, 100; space
and time are forms of intuition, 31;
successive, 64. See also Friedman, Michael;
Hintikka, Jaakko; Longuenesse, Batrice
Iteration: finite iteration (see Time);
indefinite iteration (see Time); principle of
iteration, 123
Jourdain, Philip E. B., 148; correspondence
with Frege, 124, 126, 132, 140141,
Judgment (Brentano), 161175; as
affirmation or denial of a presentation,
163; categorical, 165; combination of
terms in, 166168; double, 166173,
177; existential, 165, 178
Judgment (Kant), 58; analytic and
synthetic, 22, 23, 98; arithmetical, 94;

logical form of, 8; mathematical, as

synthetic, 23; necessary connection of
concepts and judgment, 101; quantity of,
49; synthetic a priori, 94; universal form
of judgment, 53. See also Algebra;
Kant, Immanuel, 3114, 202; arithmetic has
no axioms (see Arithmetic); conception of
construction of concepts in intuition (see
Construction); Reflections attached to
Baumgartens Metaphysica, 51; on
7+5=12, 43, 47, 85, 8889, 9394, 97,
109110, 113. See also Whole and part
Kants lectures on Metaphysics. See
Number; Whole and part
Kastil, Alfred, 180
Kitcher, Philip, 6976; on a priori knowledge, 75; conceptual legitimacy, 72;
empirically legitimized concepts, 73
Knowledge: a priori (see A priori);
geometrical (see Geometry); immediate
knowledge of space (see Space);independent of experience, 76; mathematical, 45,
46; nonpure a priori knowledge (see A
priori); objective, 41; of objects, 46, 47,
64, 7172; of objects as they appear, 38;
of objects themselves, 38; of outer things,
30, 33; quasi a priori knowledge
(see A priori); relativity of knowledge,
40; sensitive faculty of knowledge, 57;
synthetic a priori knowledge concerning
space, 30
Koebner, Wilhelm, 141
Korselt, A. R., 141; on types, 150
Lambert, Johann Heinrich, 97, 98
Law of inertia, 71, 76, 78
Laz, Jacques, 9192
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm, 12, 13; on
commutativity (see Commutativity);
proofs of arithmetical identities (see
Leonard, Henry S., calculus of individuals,
Lsniewski, Stanisaw, 119
Linke, Paul F., 144



Logic, 6; first-order quantificational logic,

80; Frege on fundamental Logic, 125,
127, 136, 155; Frege on logic, 125, 129;
logical derivability, 144; monadic logic,
96; th order predicate logic, 151;
polyadic logic, 9697; propositional
logic, 90; quantificational logic, 136, 146;
second-order logic, 123, 125, 135, 136;
truth-functional logic, 136
Logicism, 68, 156. See also Frege, Gottlob
Longuenesse, Batrice: on immediacy of
intuition, 101; on the InauguralDissertation (see Inaugural Dissertation); on
proofs of arithmetical identities, 90n,
114; on the Schematism (see Schematism
of the categories)
Lwenheim, Leopold, correspondence with
Frege, 141
Magnitude, 1517, 54, 60, 6264, 8485,
95, 106108, 110; pure image of all
magnitudes, 60; pure schema ofmagnitude, 60; relation to intuition (see
Intuition). See also Number
Manifold of intuition, 9
Martin, Gottfried, 81n, 83, 9798
Marty, Anton, 143, 163
Mathematical Antinomies. See Antinomies
of Pure Reason
Mathematical concepts. See Concepts
(Frege); Concepts (Kant)
Mathematical construction. SeeConstruction
Mathematical demonstration, 45, 46. See
also Geometry
Mathematical existence, 44
Mathematical knowledge. See Knowledge
Mathematical objects. See Objects
Mathematical possibility. See Possibility
Mathematics, 42, 64, 77, 9499; of
continuity, 55; mathematical induction
(see Induction); mathematical inference,
90; mathematical judgments, 22;
mathematical proof, 82, 90, 102;
mathematical reasoning, 112; mathematical statements, 81; mathematical
synthesis, 54, 57, 109110; is necessary

(B1415), 21, 37; pure mathematics, 108;

role of intuition, 101103, 106; rules of
inference, 90, 136. See also Arithmetic;
Geometry; Proof; Schultz, Johann
Mathematizability of phenomena, 78
Matter, 70, 73, 78; a priori content of the
notion of matter, 72; conservation of
matter, 71, 77; empirical concept of
matter, 70, 72; as the movable in space,
72, 78; objective reality of matter (see
Objective reality); quantity of matter, 77;
as substance in space (see Substance)
McDowell, John, 208
Meinong, Alexius, 47, 163; theory of
objects, 180n
Metaphysical Exposition of the Concept of
Space, 1117, 27, 28, 82, 102103, 106
Metaphysical Exposition of the Concept of
Time, 11, 28
Metaphysical Foundations of Natural
Science, 6978
Metaphysics of nature. See Nature,
metaphysics of
Metaphysics of transcendental idealism,
Moments, 208210; as derivative from
properties, 209; of properties, 208209;
of relations, 209210
Momentum, 77
Motion, 6, 28, 7278; communication of
motion, 77; of a point in space, 75; real
possibility of physical motion, 75;
substance as subject of motion (see
Mulligan, Kevin, 194, 207208
Multiplicity. See Set and element
Naturalistic epistemology, 75
Nature, metaphysics of, 70; metaphysics of
corporeal or thinking nature, 75;
projected order of nature, 78; transcendental part of the metaphysics of
nature, 75. See also Analytic of Principles
Necessity, 5, 6, 18, 35, 36, 37; argument
from the necessity of geometry (see
Geometry); necessity of mathematics (see
Mathematics); and strict universality, 5



Newton, Isaac, 12, 13; laws of motion, 71

Noema, Husserls conception of, 194198;
of judgment, 197198; of perception,
197, 203204; of perception as attributing properties to the object, 206208;
thetic character of, 213n
Nonconceptual content of experience, 208
Number, 4243, 4748, 52, 5559, 63, 65,
95, 109, 111; attaching to an agglomeration of things (Aggregat), 118119;
cardinal number, 56, 58, 62, 108, 132,
134135, 156; Frege on number,
118119, 123, 127128, 133, 156157;
infinite number, 62; intellectual conception of number, 64, 111; intellectualist
view of the concept of number, 111; in
Kants lectures on Metaphysics, 59;
ontological commitment to numbers,
48; ordinal number, 58, 62, 63 (see also
Finite); ostensive construction of numbers
(see Construction); as the pure schema of
magnitude, 60; pure units, 109; rational
numbers, 48; relation to space (see
Space); relation to time (see Time); as a
schema, 61; as the schema of quantity,
58; in the Schematism (see Schematism of
the categories); science of number, 6465;
as set, multitude, or plurality, 118;singular propositions about numbers, 48, 109;
spatio-temporal image of a number, 60;
structure of numbers, 67; in terms of pure
categories, 59, 111; thought of number,
59; the unity of the synthesis of the
manifold of a homogeneous intuition in
general, 60; whole number, 5859
Objective reality, 6, 45, 7274; objective
reality of matter, 72; objective reality of
the categories, 75
Objects, 43, 47, 56, 73, 85, 95, 117, 119,
121, 150; existence of mathematical
objects, 44; of experience, 40, 43, 47;
extended objects (relation to spatial
parts) (see Set and element); Frege on
objects, 122, 127128, 132133, 136;
individuation of objects, 40; logical
objects, 123; mathematical objects, 43,

46, 58, 66, 100, 107; nonexistent objects,

47; of outer sense, 74; second-class
objects (uneigentliche Gegenstnde), 123,
150; spatio-temporal object, 43, 5354
Parametric reasoning, 90
Parsons, Charles: Kants Philosophy of
Arithmetic, 84, 97, 100, 102104;
Mathematical Thought and Its Objects,
131; What is the iterative conception of
set?, 131
Pasch, Moritz, 141142
Peacocke, Christopher, 208
Peano, Giuseppe, 141142, 155; correspondence with Frege, 141142; Rivista di
matematica, 142
Peirce, Charles Sanders, 188
Perceptual judgment, 211212
Phenomenological presence of an object, 32
Phenomenological reduction, 199201
Philosophy of mathematics, 42, 80
Physical motion. See Motion
Plaass, Peter, 7275
Pluralities, 131
Plurality. See Quantity
Possibility, 44, 45, 46; mathematical
possibility, 46
Postulates, 23, 25, 46, 8384, 8790,
9698, 103, 107, 110, 147
Prauss, Gerold, 39, 40
Predicables, 72; pure, but derived conceptsof understanding (see Concepts
Predicate, 8, 22, 77, 9192, 117, 122, 150,
152. See also Extension, Freges conception of; Set and element
Presentations, 161; as general, 176177
Principia Mathematica, 137
Principle of contradiction, 26
Progression of intuitions (A25), 17
Prolegomena, 30, 31, 36, 39, 69
Proof, 2427, 99; demonstrative proof,
45. See also Arithmetic; Geometry;
Proper names, 50
Propositional identity, 153
Propositional objects, 162, 182



Pure intuition. See Intuition

Pure propositions, 69

sensible representation, 82; singular

representation, 6, 7, 25, 67, 81, 93. See
also Synthesis
Rules of inference in mathematics. See
Russell, Bertrand, 102103, 121, 140142,
144, 147149; on classes, 148, 151; on
concepts, 121; on extensions, 121, 149;
on the Grundgesetze, 133; on multiplicities (see Set and element); no-class theory,
150; on objects, 153; Principles ofMathematics, 147148, 150153; propositional function, 121122; range of
significance, 121; Russells original theory
of types, 122; theory of descriptions, 153;
theory of limitation of size, 148; types,
Russell-Myhill paradox, 151153
Russells paradox, 118, 123, 125, 126, 137,
140, 147148, 156

Quantification, 50, 150152. See also Logic

Quantifiers, 46, 47, 96, 122123
Quantity, 48, 50, 58, 6364, 66, 77, 85, 95,
106, 109; categories of, 42, 60; construction of, 106; continuous, 54; discrete,
5456, 62; discrete quantity per se, 56;
extensive, 51; finite, 62; general theory of
(allgemeine Grenlehre), 108; intensive,
77; irrational, 66; judgments of (see
Judgment [Kant]); less, 62; logical, 50;
number as the schema of quantity (see
Number); plurality, 50, 52; pure schema
of quantity, 52; rule of numeration
(Zhlen), 66; schema of quantity, 42;
schematized categories of quantity, 50,
52; Schultz on quantity, 8688; totality,
50, 52. See also Whole and part
Quantum, 5455, 56; divisibility of quanta,
55; quantum discretum, 56. See also
Quantity; Whole and part
Quine, W. V., 117n
Recursion condition for addition, 113
Reference. See Sense and reference
Refutation of Idealism, 66, 92n
Rehberg, August Wilhelm, 48, 6466, 112
Relationism. See Absolutist versus
relationist conceptions of space and time
Representation, 6, 7, 13, 37, 38, 56, 66,
9192; Bolzano on the distinction
between representation and what is
represented, 9596; Bolzano on
representation, 95; distinguished from
empirical objects, 40; general representation, 6, 7; immediate representation, 30,
82; intellectual representation I think,
67; intuition as a singular representation
(see Intuition); intuitive representation,
82; of number (see Number); original
representation of space (B40), 14; outer
representation, 30; reflected representation, 6; representation of space, 15, 16,
54, 8283, 105; representation of space is
a priori, 72; representation of time, 28;

Schema, 59; as distinguished from image

(Bild) (see Image); schema of quantity
(see Quantity)
Schematism of the categories, 42, 47, 78;
Longuenesse on the Schematism, 111;
number, 59, 64, 95
Schoenflies, Arthur Moritz, 118, 120; Frege
on Schoenflies, 123
Scholz, Heinrich, 138139, 140, 145, 158
Schultz, Johann, 44, 47, 64, 65, 8091, 93,
9699; on addition, subtraction, multiplication, 8591; Anfangsgrnde der reinen
Mathesis, 86, 88, 9899; on arithmetic
(see Arithmetic); Erluterungen ber des
Herrn Professor Kant Critik der reinen
Vernunft, 83; on general and special
mathematics, 8586; on induction (see
Induction, mathematical); Prfung der
kantischen Kritik der reinen Vernunft,
8183, 86, 97; on quantity (see Quantity);
on representations, 83; 7 + 5 = 12, 8890,
94, 97, 108110, 112113; on the
Transcendental Deduction, 84
Science: a priori science, 78; idealization in
science, 72; pure natural science, 6978
Second Analogy, 7778



Semantic paradoxes, 151152

Sense and reference, 142147, 152154;
sense identity, 144, 154
Sensibility, 9, 11, 64
Set and element, 5153, 117122, 150;
agglomerations and sets, 118121; as
collections, 131; Dedekind on systems,
119; extended objects (relation to spatial
parts), 52; Frege on null sets, 119;
mereological sum, 52, 56; multiplicities
(Vielheiten), 148; multiplicity (Menge),
5152, 55, 56, 58, 5961, 66, 120; as
pluralities, 131; set-theoretic notion of
cardinality, 62; totality of sets, 130;
unitset, 120. See also Cantor, Georg;
Extension, Freges conception of; Frege,
Gottlob; Predicate
Set-theoretic paradoxes, 150. See also
Russell, Bertrand
Set theory, 4243, 117118, 122125,
128131, 150; axioms of set theory,
117118, 124, 131; Frege on set theory,
128; and mereology, 119, realism about,
Shabel, Lisa, on Kant on algebra, 85, 107
Shamoon, Alan, 50
Singular terms, 8, 25, 49
Smit, Houston, 101
Smith, Barry, 194
Space, 5, 6, 11, 30, 34, 35, 57, 6566, 72,
7778; absence of space, 13; a priori
character of, 1214, 72; as boundless, 16,
17, 104; as condition of outer experience,
45; as a continuum, 55; Euclidean space,
104; as form of outer intuition, 5;homogeneity of the spaces occupied by parts of
an object, 54; immediate knowledge of
space, 15; infinity of space, 1516, 103,
105; as an intuition, 14; necessary to the
determinate representation of a number,
66; original representation of space
(B40) (see Representation); prior to
appearances/prior to objects in space, 13,
17; relation to arithmetic, 65; representation of a single space is prior to that of
spaces, 103; as subjective condition
ofsensibility, 30; substance in space

(seeSubstance); as unique, 17; uniqueness

of space, 15. See also Unity
Steck, Max, 140
Strawson, P. F., metaphysics of transcendental idealism, 32
Subjectivist view, 3338
Substance, 77; category of substance, 78;
matter as substance in space, 77; as
subject of motion, 7778; substance in
space (Descartess extended substance),
77, 78
Successive addition. See Time
Successive enumeration. See Time
Successive repetition. See Time
Sutherland, Daniel, 106, 108111
Syllogisms, 165166; Brentanos modern
view of, 165166
Symbolic construction. See Construction;
Shabel, Lisa
Synthesis, 9; a priori synthesis (see A priori);
figurative synthesis, 63; of a givenmanifold of intuition in general, 63; ofimagination, 66, 93; intellectual synthesis, 6365,
111112; mathematical (see Mathematics); transcendental synthesis of imagination, 93
Table of Categories, 50
Table of Judgments, 49
Tait, William, 108, 133134. See also
Cantor, Georg; Frege, Gottlob
Term negation, 166173
Things in themselves, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 37,
38, 39, 40; neglected alternative, 33,
34, 35; things in themselves are not
spatial or temporal, 32
Third Analogy, 77
Thompson, Manley, 46
Thought, relation to perception as a
problem for the linguistic turn, 213
Time, 5, 6, 11, 27, 30, 52, 56, 57, 63, 66,
72, 78, 95; as a continuum, 55; finite
iteration, 63; as form of inner intuition,
5; indefinite iteration, 104; as anintuition, 95; intuition of quantities taken up
successively (see Intuition); necessary to
the determinate representation of a



Time (continued)
number, 66; as a pure image of quanta,
60; relation to arithmetic, 58, 65; relation
to number, 58; schematization of the
category of substance in terms of time,
77; as a subjective condition of apprehension, 58; succession in time, 95; successive addition, 60, 104, 114; successive
enumeration, 66; successive repetition,
62, 63; temporal conditions (conditions
of time), 57, 66; temporal content of the
notion of number (see Number); unity of
the manifold of space and time (see
Totality. See Quantity
Transcendental Deduction, 45, 63, 84
Transcendental Exposition of the Concept
of Space, 11, 21, 27, 30, 103
Transcendental Exposition of the Concept
of Time, 11, 28, 103
Transcendental idealism, 33, 35, 36, 40,
41,58, 61; Husserls conception of
andcontrast with early analytical
philosophy, 198199. See also Distortion
Picture; Intensional view of appearances
and things in themselves; Subjectivist
Triangle, 20, 2426, 36, 4345, 59, 107,
Truth, correspondence theory of, 164;
Brentanos early questioning of, 178180;
virtual abandonment of, 181183
Types: cumulative theory of types, 150;
Frege on types (see Frege, Gottlob);
Korselt on types (see Korselt, A. R.);
Russell on types (see Russell, Bertrand);
simple theory of types, 150151

Understanding, 38, 91, 110; action on

sensibility, 93; logical use of, 47, 101
Unities, 148
Unity, 50; of a number, 66; unification, 54;
unity of the manifold of space and time,
93; unity of the synthesis of the manifold
of a homogenous intuition in general, 95.
See also Quantity
Universality, 5, 6, 50; universal validity, 24
Use and mention, 147
Variable, 90; free variables, 46, 96
Walker, Ralph, 7475
Whole and part, 49, 50, 51, 53, 56; abstract
conception of whole, part, and quantity,
60; and categories of quantity, 5051;
composition, 57, 66; compositum, 58;
compositum, quantum, totum, 5253;
Frege on whole and part, 154; homogeneity of parts, 53; in Kants lectures on
Metaphysics, 51; Kants Reflections
attached to Baumgartens Metaphysica,
51, 53, 55; multiplicity (see Set and
element); parts of space and time, 55. See
also Set and element
Wirklichkeit. See Existence
Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 141; correspondence
with Frege, 158159; Freges respect and
friendship for, 159
Wolff, Christian, 12
Young, J. Michael, 47, 48
Zermelo, Ernst, 134
Zsigmondy, Karl, 156, 159160; on
cardinal numbers, 160