Anthropology by Immanuel Kant 1772-1796 (1798)

Immanuel Kant was a very influential writer during the eighteenth century. Baptized ‘Emanuel’, he changed his name to ‘Immanuel’ after learning Hebrew. In 1740 at 16 years old he became a student at the University of Königsberg and then an instructor at the same institution until his death in 1806. His books were translated into English early in the nineteenth century. And have been studied consistently in both European and American Universities.

Immanuel Kant gave a series of lectures on anthropology 1772-1773, 1795-1796 at the University of Konigsberg. They were gathered together and published in 1798 and then published in English in The Journal of Speculative Philosophy in 1867, volumes 9-16.

kant_portrait
Emanuel (Immanuel) Kant 1724-1806 Konigsburg

Anthropology by Immanuel Kant (1724-1806) translated by Adolph Ernst Kroeger Sections 1837 – 1882  Sections 1-23

Part First, Anthropological Didactic Concerning the manner in which to recognize the Internal as well as the External of Man.

Book First.
Concerning the Faculty of Cognition

  1. Concerning Self-Consciousness.

The fact that man can entertain the conception of his ego lifts him infinitely over all other beings on earth. It is this that constitutes him a person, and, by virtue of the unity of consciousness, amongst all the changes that may happen to him, one and the same person as that is, a being quite distinct by rank and dignity from things such as irrational animals are, with whom we can do as we please- and this even when he cannot yet speak of his I, since he at least thinks it, and as all languages must think it, when speaking in the first person, even though they have not a special word for it. For this faculty (of thinking) is the understanding.

But it is noticeable, that the child, even after it can speak tolerably readily, does not speak as I till some time later, perhaps a year afterward; and until then speaks of itself only in the third person (Charley wants to eat, to go, &c.), and that a light seems to have dawned upon it when it begins to speak of itself as “I”; from which day on it never returns to its former manner of speaking. Before that time it merely felt itself; now it thinks itself. It might be a pretty hard task for the anthropologist to explain this phenomenon.

The observation, that a child, for the first quarter after its birth, neither smiles nor weeps, seems also to rest upon the development of certain notions, of insult and wrong-doing, that are suggestive of reason. The fact, that in this period it begins to follow with its eyes glittering objects held up before its face, is the rude beginning of the progress of perception (apprehension of the representation of sensations) in order to widen them out to a knowledge of the objects of our senses, that is, of experience.

The further fact, that now, when it attempts to speak, its butchery of words makes it lovable in the sight of its mother and nurse, and makes them inclined to fondle and kiss it continually, nay, to pamper it into a little commander-in-chief, by fulfilling every one of its wishes and desires: this amiability of the little creature, in the period of its development into humanity, must probably be placed to account of its innocence and the frankness of all its still defective utterances, wherein there is as yet not the least trace of evil, but may also be ascribed, on the other hand, to the natural inclination of nurses to confer benefits upon a creature which in an endearing way gives itself up entirely to the arbitrariness of another, since in this way a play-time, the happiest time of all, is given to the child; while the instructor, by becoming also a child, as it were, enjoys the same delight once again. But the remembrance of childish years does not reach back by far to that time, since it is not the time of experiences, but merely of scattered perceptions, that have not yet been united in the conception of the object.

2 Concerning Egotism.

From the day when a man begins to speak as I, he brings his beloved self in front whenever there is the least chance, and his egotism progresses steadily, in order that he may – if not openly, for then the egotism of others comes to oppose him, at least covertly and with seeming self-denial and pretended modesty – place a preeminent value on himself in the judgment of others.

Egotism can contain three presumptions, that of the understanding, that of taste, and that of practical interest; that is, it may be of a logical, aesthetical, or practical nature.

The logical egotist considers it unnecessary to test his judgment by that of other people, just as if he stood not at all in need of this touchstone- criterium veritatis externum.  But it is so certain, that we cannot dispense with this means to assure ourselves of the truth of our judgment, that it is probably the most weighty reason why the world of learned men clamor so loudly for Freedom of the Press, since, if that were taken away from us, we should lose an important means for ascertaining the correctness of our own judgment. Let it not be objected, that at least the science of mathematics is privileged to decide by its own plenary authority; for if the perceived general agreement of the judgment of the mathematician with that of all others who are devoted to that science with talent and industry had not gone before, mathematics would surely not have been exempted from the fear of falling into error somewhere. Why, there are even cases where we do not trust the judgment of our own senses alone – for instance, whether a ringing of bells is merely a sound in our ears or of actual bells – and when we consider it necessary to ask others, whether they experience the same thing. And although in philosophizing we may probably not appeal to the judgment of others in confirmation of our own –as the lawyers appeal to the judgment of other eminent legal authorities – still every author would be suspected of being in error in his publicly expressed opinions, however important they might be, if he found no followers.

Hence it is always a feat of daring to thrust an assertion, opposed to general opinion, even that of the intelligent, upon the public. This appearance of egotism is called paradoxy. It is not boldness to dare something at the risk of its being untrue, but only at the risk of its finding few believers. A liking for the paradoxical is, to be sure, a logical stubbornness not to be the imitator of others, but to appear as an unusual person; in place of which, however, such a one only appears odd. But since every one must, after all, have and maintain his own way – si omnes patres sic, at ego non sic (Abelard) – the reproach of being paradoxical, unless it is based on mere vanity to appear different from others, is of no very serious significance. Opposed to the paradoxical is the every-day man, who has common opinion on his side. But he affords no more security, since with him everything drops asleep; whereas the paradoxical man awakens the mind to attend and investigate, thereby often leading to discoveries.

An aesthetical egotist is one whose own taste suffices him, let others ever so much criticize, sneer at, or even ridicule his verses, paintings, music, &c. He deprives himself of the chance of progress when he isolates himself with his own judgment, claps applause to his own works, and seeks the touchstone of the beautiful in art only in himself.

A, finally, moral egotist is one who limits all purposes to himself, sees no use in anything that does not bring him advantage, or perhaps, if a eudaemonist, makes only his own advantage and happiness, but not the conception of duty, the primary determining ground of his will. For since every man forms a different conception of what he considers happiness, it is precisely egotism which reaches a point where no true touchstone of the genuine conception of duty is to be had, since such a conception must be a universally valid principle. Hence all eudaemonists are practical egotists.

To egotism we may oppose pluralism, that is, the habit of considering one’s self as not embracing the whole world in one’s own soul, but as being a mere citizen of the world and acting as such. This much belongs to anthropology. For, so far as this distinction is concerned with regard to metaphysical conceptions, it lies utterly beyond the sphere of the science here to be treated. If, for instance, the question were merely, whether I, as a thinking being, have cause to assume, outside of my own existence, the existence of a totality of other beings in communication with me – a totality called world – the question is not anthropological but merely metaphysical.


Remark concerning the Formalities of Egotistical Language.

The language of the chief authority of a state to the people is in our times generally pluralistic (“We, X, by the grace of God,” &c.) The question is, whether the meaning is not rather egotistic, that is, indicative of the monarch’s own absolute power, which the King of Spain expresses by his Yo el Rey – I, the king. It seems however, after all, as if that formality of the highest authority was originally intended to signify a lowering (We – the king and his council, or the legislature). But how did it happen that the conversational address, which was expressed in the old classic languages by Thou, hence unitarian, is expressed by various (chiefly Germanic) nations, pluralistic, You to which the Germans have added two more expressions, indicating a greater deference towards the person addressed, er and sie (he and they) as if they were not addressing the person at all, but speaking of some absent people, either of one or many ; which has finally been followed, to complete the absurdity, by the pretended humiliation of the speaker to the abstract notion of the quality of the rank of the person addressed (Your Honor, Your High and Noble Grace, &c.) instead of to the person himself. All of which has probably been the result of the feudal system, according to which great care was taken that from the Royal dignity downward through all grades, until where the very dignity of man stopped and only the man remained- that is, to the class of serfs, who alone were addressed “thou” by their superiors, or to the children, who are as yet without a will  –  the proper grade of esteem due to the superior should never be lacking.

3 Concerning the Voluntary Consciousness of our Representations .

The endeavor to become conscious of our representations is either an act of attention or of abstraction; and the latter is not merely an abstaining from attending or neglecting to attend (for that would be distraction), but a real act of our cognizing faculty, a representation of which I am conscious that I keep it removed and apart from other representations in my consciousness. Hence we do not say “to abstract something” (to keep something apart), but “to abstract from something,” that is, from some determination of an object of my representation, whereby it receives the general character of a conception, and can thus be taken hold of by the understanding.

To be able to abstract from a representation, even when it impresses itself upon us through the senses, is a far higher faculty than to pay attention; for to have the condition of our representations under our control (animus sui compos) shows freedom of the thinking faculty and proves the self-rule of our mind. The power of abstraction is therefore, in this regard, much more difficult, but also more important, than the power of attention where sensuous representations are concerned.

Many men are unhappy because they cannot abstract. The wooer might contract a good marriage if he could only overlook a wart in the face of his sweetheart, or a missing tooth in her mouth. But it is a particularly naughty feature of our power of attention to fasten itself, even involuntarily, upon the very defects of others, to direct one’s eye upon a missing button on the coat right opposite to one’s eye, or upon that missing tooth, or upon an habitual defect of speech, and thus to confuse the other person, while at the same time, to be sure, spoiling one’s own conversational amusement. If the main points are good, it is not only fair, but also prudent, to overlook the bad points of other people, and even those of our own circumstances; but this faculty of abstraction is a power of the mind which can be acquired only by practice.

4. Concerning Self-observation.

 To remark (animadvertere) is not quite to observe (observare) one’s self. The latter is a methodical gathering together of the observations that furnish the material for the diary of a self-observator, and are likely to lead to fantastic eccentricity and to insanity.

Self -attention, in our intercourse with others, is unquestionably necessary; but it must not be observable, for in that case it either embarrasses or makes affected. The opposite of both is unconstrainedness (an air degage) a self-confidence that others will not judge badly of one’s behavior. A man who acts as if he were standing before a looking-glass and noticing whether his manners became him or not, or who speaks as if he only, and not others, were listening to himself, is a sort of actor. He wants to represent, and hence artificially produces a semblance of his person, and thereby, if his intention is perceived, loses in the opinion of others, because he is suspected of attempting to deceive. Frankness of manner in outward appearance, which does not occasion any such suspicion, is called natural behavior (though it does not, on that account, exclude all fine art and taste), and pleases by the mere truthfulness of its expression. But when openheartedness is evidently the result of simplicity, that is, of the absence of all habitual dissimulation, it is called naiveness.

This frank manner of expression in a girl already approaching puberty, or in a countryman ignorant of city manners, produces by its innocence and simplicity (that is, by ignorance of the art of dissembling) a cheerful laughter on the part of those who are already versed and practiced in that art. It is not a laughter of contempt – for in our heart we honor purity and sincerity – but a good-natured, kind laughter at the inexperience in the evil (although founded in our corrupt human nature) art of dissembling, which, however, we ought rather to sigh over than laugh at, when we compare it with the idea of a still uncorrupted nature. It is a momentary cheerfulness, as of a cloudy sky which suddenly opens at one spot to let the sunbeam pass through, but straightway closes again in order not to hurt the tender mole’s eyes of egotism.

But so far as the real purpose of this paragraph is concerned – namely, the above warning not to indulge at all in spying oat and to trace, as it were, a studied internal history of the involuntary course of our thoughts and feelings –that warning is given because such an indulgence is the straight road towards mental confusion concerning pretended higher inspirations and forces that influence us – who knows from whence? – without our cooperation, and towards illuminatism and terrorism. For, without perceiving it, we thus make supposed discoveries of ideas which we have ourselves put into our head, just as happened to a Bourignon with flattering, and to Pascal with terrifying, ideas. Even such an otherwise excellent mind as Albrecht Haller fell into this condition, and in the course of a long conducted, often also interrupted diarium of the state of his soul, got finally so far, that he asked a celebrated theologian, his former academical colleague – Dr. Less – whether he might not find comfort for his anxious soul in the extensive treasure of Dr. Less’s theological knowledge.

To observe the various acts of the power of representation in myself, when I myself call them forth – is well worth the study, and is especially necessary and useful for logic and metaphysics. But to try to watch them as they also enter the mind uncalled (which is done through the play of the unintentionally fancying imagination), is a reversion of the natural order in our faculty of cognition, because the principles of thinking do not then precede, as they ought to, but follow those notions, and either is already a disease of the mind (notionalness), or leads to it and to the lunatic asylum. Any one who has much to say about his inner experiences {about grace or temptations, &c.), may as well land in Anticyra beforehand when entering upon his voyage of discovery of his own self. For it is not with those inner as with our external experiences of objects of space, wherein objects appear by the side of each other and as permanently fixed. The inner sense sees the relations of its determinations only in time and hence as flowing; and in that case no permanence of observation takes place, which nevertheless is essential for experience.


5 Concerning the Representations which we have without being Conscious of them.

To have representations, and yet not to be conscious of them, seems to involve a contradiction; for how can we know that we have them if we are not conscious of them? This objection was raised already by Locke, who on that account rejected the existence of such sort of representations. But then we may be mediately conscious of having a representation without being immediately conscious of it. Such representations are then called dim, the others being clear and (if their clearness extends even to the representations of parts and their connections) distinct or perspicuous – representations whether of thinking or of contemplation.

For instance, if on a meadow I am conscious of seeing a person, although I am not conscious of seeing his nose, eyes, mouth, &c., I, in point of fact, merely conclude that that thing is a man; since, if I were to deny, that I had the representation of the whole in my mind, because I was not conscious of beholding those parts of the head and other parts of the person, I could also not say that I beheld a man, since the whole representation (of the head or the man) is composed of those parts.

(i.e. the receptivity) whereby a perception, or empirical intuition, becomes possible, then our self-consciousness can be divided into a consciousness of reflection and of apprehension. The former is a consciousness of the understanding – the latter is the inner sense; the former is the pure, the latter the empirical apperception; for which reason the former is falsely called the inner sense. In psychology we investigate ourselves according to the representations of our inner sense, but in logic we investigate ourselves according to the requirements of our intellectual consciousness. Now, here the ego seems to us to be double, which would be contradictory. It appears to us, firstly, as the ego as the subject of thinking (in logic), which signifies pure apperception, the merely reflecting ego, of which nothing further can be said, but which is merely a simple idea; and, secondly, as the ego as the object of perception, and hence of the inner sense, which involves a manifoldness of determinations that render possible an inner experience.

The question whether, in consideration of the various inner conditions of his mind (his memory, or his adopted principles), man can still say, although conscious of those changes, that he is one and the same individual in regard to his soul, is an absurd question, since he can become conscious of those changes only by representing himself as one and the same subject in those various conditions, and since the ego of man although dual, to be sure, in regard to its form (the manner of its representation), is not so in regard to its matter, or its content.

It may fill us with admiration of our own nature that the field of those sensuous perceptions and feelings in us of which we are not conscious, although we can unquestionably conclude that we have them – i.e. of the dim representations in the mind of man (and equally so in that of animals) -should be unmeasurable, whilst, on the contrary, our clear representations have only very few points open to consciousness, and that hence the great chart of our mind, as it were, should have only very few illuminated points; for a higher power might only say, “Let there be light!” and, without any other assistance – as, for instance., that of a thoroughly read man with all his knowledge – half a world would lie open to our view. Whatever the eye discovers through the telescope – in the moon, for instance – or through the microscope, say in the infusoria – is seen by our naked eye; for those optical aids do not bring more rays, and hence pictures created by them, into our eye than would have imaged themselves upon our retina without those artificial helps, but they merely expand them further in order to bring them into our consciousness. The same can be said of the feelings of our sense of hearing; when a musician, for instance, plays with ten fingers and two feet a fantasia upon an organ mayhap even speaking with another person at the same time -” and when thus in a moment a number of representations are awakened in the soul, each of which, moreover, requires a special judgment upon its appropriateness in its selection, since a single inharmonious stroke of the finger would be immediately perceived as a discord; whilst, after all, the whole turns out so that the impromptu-playing musician wishes often that many a happily executed fantasia of his, which he does not expect ever to be able to write down as good, had been preserved in notes.

Thus the field of dim representations is the largest in man. But, since they show us man only in his passive condition, as a play of his feelings, the theory of them belongs rather to physiological than to pragmatical anthropology, with which alone we have to do here.


Physiological anthropology investigates what Nature makes out of man; pragmatical anthropology deals with what man, as a free being, makes out of himself.

For we often play with dim representations, and feel an interest in placing favorite or disagreeable objects in a shade before our imagination; but still more frequently we are ourselves a play of dim representations, and our understanding is powerless to save itself from the absurdities in which their influence places it, although it will recognize them as deceptions.

This is the case, for instance, with sexual love, in so far as it intends not so much the love as the enjoyment of its object. How much wit has been wasted for ever and a day to throw a thin veil over what is certainly liked, but still puts man in the light of such close relationship with the lower animals that it excites shame, and requires language in fine society not to speak openly, though sufficiently transparent to excite a smile. Imagination likes to walk in the dark here, and it always requires more than common art to avoid cynicism and yet not to lapse into a ridiculous purism.

On the other hand, however, we are often enough the play of dim representations that will not vanish even though the understanding illuminates them. It is often an important matter for a dying person to order his grave to be dug in his garden, or under a shady tree in the field, or in dry ground, although in the former case he has no beautiful prospect to hope for, and in the latter not the least cause to fear catching a cold from dampness.

The proverb “The dress makes the man,” applies also in a certain degree to intelligent people. It is true that the Russian proverb says, “We receive a guest according to his dress, but accompany him, when he leaves, according to his intelligence”; but intelligence can, after all, not prevent the vague impression of a certain importance which surrounds a well-dressed person, and can at the uttermost correct a previous judgment.

Studied darkness is often used, even with the success desired, in order to pass current for profundity and thoroughness, just as objects seen in the dark or through a fog are always seen larger than they are.

Whereas in the light of day that which is brighter than surrounding objects seems also to be larger. White stockings, for instance, make the ankles appear larger than black ones; a fire in the night on a high mountain appears to be larger than it is when you measure it. Perhaps this may also explain the apparent size of the moon, and also the apparently greater distance of stars from each.

The skotison (make it dark) is the motto of all mystics, in order to allure treasure-seekers of wisdom by artificial darkness. As a general rule, however, a certain degree of the mysterious in writings is not unwelcome to the reader, because it makes him feel his own sharp sightedness to solve the dark into clear conceptions.


Concerning the manner in which to recognize the Internal as well as the External of Man.

Concerning The Faculty Of Cognition.

6 Concerning the Perspicuity and Obscurity in the Consciousness of our Representations.

The consciousness of our representations which suffices to distinguish one object from another is called clearness; but that whereby even the composition of our representations is made clear is called perspicuity. The latter alone changes a sum of representations into a knowledge; in which, since every conscious composition presupposes its unity, and hence a rule for it, order is assigned in thought to the manifold of that knowledge. A clear representation or perception, we must not oppose by a confused perception (perceptio comlexae) but simply by the obscure. That which is confused must be composed; for in the simple there is neither order nor confusion. The latter is, therefore, the cause but not the definition of obscurity. In all complex representations (perceptiones complexae) such as every knowledge is (since every knowledge requires contemplation and conception), perspicuity depends always upon the order according to which the partial representations are composed, which then induce — when merely concerning the form — a simple logical division into primary and secondary perceptions, or a real division into principal and adherent perceptions; by means of which order the knowledge becomes perspicuous.

Everyone will see, that if the faculty of cognition in general, or knowledge, is called understanding (in the most general acceptation of the word), this understanding must involve the faculty of gathering up given perceptions or representations (attentio) in order to produce the faculty of abstracting from that which is common to many, and the faculty of conception; but must also involve the faculty of reflecting y in order to produce a knowledge of the object.

Whoever possesses these faculties in a preeminent degree is called a great mind and he to whom they are allotted very limitedly is called a mere sticky since he is always carried by another. But he who is gifted, moreover, with originality in their use, by virtue of which he produces out of himself what must generally be learned under the tuition of others, is called a genius.

The man who has learned nothing of that which must be taught in order to be known is called an ignoramus, if he ought to have known it, and if he lays claim to be a scholar; for, if he does not claim that, he may nevertheless be a great genius. A man who cannot think for himself, though capable of learning much, is called narrow-minded. A man may be a vast scholar — a machine for instructing others — and yet be narrow-minded in regard to the rational use of his historical knowledge. A man whose use of what he has learned betrays the fetters of the school — and hence lack of freedom in self-thinking — when he communicates it to others, is called a pedant, whether he be scholar, soldier, or even a courtier. Amongst these the learned pedant is, after all, the most sufferable, since we can, at least, learn something from him; whereas the painful formalities (pedantry) of the courtier are not only useless, but moreover ridiculous, on account of the pride which inevitably attaches to the pedant, since it is the pride of an ignoramus.

But the art, or rather the cleverness, of speaking in a conversational tone, and generally of appearing in fashion, which art is falsely called popularity, and chiefly when referring to science — whereas it ought to be called trimmed-up shallowness — covers many a defect of a narrow-minded man. Only children, however, allow themselves to be led astray by it.”Thy drum,” said Addison’s Quaker to the officer sitting at his side in the coach, is an emblem of thyself; it sounds because it is empty.”

To judge men according to their faculty of cognition, or their understanding in general, we divide them into those men to whom we must admit common sense (sensus communis) — though it must not be common (sensus vulgaris) — and into men of science. The former are conversant with rules in application (in concreto) the latter with the rules by themselves, and in advance of their application (in abstracto). We call the kind of an understanding requisite for the former faculty of cognition ” sound common sense” (bon sens) and that necessary for the other faculty a “bright mind” (ingenium perspicuum).

It is remarkable that the former kind of men are generally looked upon, not only as not in need of culture, but as perhaps likely to suffer damage from culture, unless it is carried far enough. Hence they are lauded to the skies, and represented as mines wherein untold treasures are hid in the depths of the soul; and sometimes their utterances are passed even as oracles (instance the daemon of Socrates), and as more reliable than anything that studied science may bring upon the market. Nevertheless, this much is certain, that if the solution of a question rests on the general and inborn rules of the understanding — the possession of which is called mother wit — it is more unsafe to look around for studied and artificially elaborated principles, and to form one’s resolutions according to them, than to risk the decision of the determining grounds of judgment, which rest in the obscurity of the soul, and which might be called the logical tact, wherein considerateness represents to itself the subject from various sides and produces a current result, without being conscious of the acts that pass in the mind while doing so.

But “sound common sense” can prove this its excellence only with reference to an object of experience, and show that it not only itself grows through experience, but that it also causes experience to grow — not from a speculative, but only from an empirical pragmatical view, however. For in speculative science we need scientific principles a priori, but in empirical sciences we may have experiences, that is, judgments, which can be continually proved by experiment and success.


7 Concerning Sensuousness as Opposed to the Understanding.

In regard to the condition of my representations, my mind is either active and exhibits a faculty (facultay) or it is passive and consists in receptivity (receptivitas). A knowledge contains both, and the possibility to have such a knowledge is called the faculty of cognition, which it derives from the chief part of that faculty, to- wit, the activity of the mind to connect or separate representations.

Representations in regard to which the mind remains passive, and by which the subject is, therefore, affected (no matter whether it affects itself or is affected by an object), belong to the sensuous, but those which contain a mere doing (thinking) belong to the intellectual faculty of cognition. The former is also called the lower, and the latter the upper, faculty of cognition. The former has the character of passivity of the inner sense of sensations; the latter that of spontaneity or apperception, i.e. of pure consciousness of the act which constitutes the thinking, and which belongs to logic (a system of the rules of the understanding) as the former belongs to psychology — which includes all our internal perceptions under our natural laws — and is the basis of internal experience.

Note:  To define sensuousness merely as an indistinctness of representations and to define “intellectuality,” on the other hand, as their perspicuity; and thus to establish a merely formal (logical) distinction of consciousness, instead of the real (psychological) distinction, which refers not only to the form, but also to the content of thinking, was a great defect of the Leibnitz-Wolfian school, namely, to define consciousness merely as a lack (of clearness of the partial represent at ions) and hence of the obscurity, and to define the representations of the understanding as perspicuous; although the former produced something very positive, and were an indispensable addition to the latter, in order to produce a condition. But Leibnitz was really the cause of that defect. For, depending upon the Platonic school, he assumed inborn, pure contemplations of the understanding, called Ideas, which were to be discovered in the human soul, though obscured, and to the analysis and explanation of which by close attention alone we owed the cognition of objects as they are in themselves.


Remarks.

The object of the representation — which contains only the manner in which I am affected by it — and all experience or empirical cognition, internal as well as external, is a cognition only of the object, as it appears to us, and not as it is, considered by itself. For in that case it is not merely the quality of the object of the representation, but also that of the subject and its receptivity, which determines the kind of the sensuous contemplation that produces our conception of the object. The formal quality of this receptivity cannot be borrowed again now from the senses, but must be given a priori as a contemplation; that is to say, it must be a sensuous contemplation which remains — although all empirical elements (involving sensations) are abandoned — and this formal part of contemplation in internal contemplations is called time.

But since experience is empirical cognition, and since cognition, based, as it is, upon judgment, requires reflection and hence consciousness, that is, activity in putting together the manifold of a representation, according to a rule of its unity, or, in other words, requires conception and thinking (as distinct from contemplation): consciousness in general must be divided into a discursive consciousness — which must precede, because, being logical, it fixes the rule — and intuitive consciousness. The former, the pure apperception of our mental acts, is simple. The ego of the reflection involves no manifold, and is in all judgments always one and the same, because it contains merely this formal part of consciousness, whereas inner experience contains its material part, and a manifold of empirical, inner contemplation, the ego of the apprehension.

I, as a thinking being, am certainly one and the same subject that I am as a sensuous being; but as an object of inner, empirical contemplation, i.e. in so far as I am affected internally by sensations in time, as they may be together or following each other, I cognize myself after all only as I appear to myself and not as a thing in itself; since it depends upon the condition of time, which is not a conception of the understanding, and hence not pure spontaneity, and hence upon a condition in regard to which my perceptive faculty is passive, — thereby belonging to receptivity. Hence I cognize myself through inner experience always only as I appear to myself— a phrase which is often maliciously perverted so as to signify, “it only seems to me (mithi videri) that I have certain representations and sensations; nay, that I even exist.” For seeming is the ground for an erroneous judgment from subjective causes that are falsely held to be objective, whereas appearance is no judgment at all, but merely an empirical contemplation which becomes inner experience and hence truth by reflection, and the conception of the understanding resulting therefrom.

The cause of these errors is that the words “inner sense” and “apperception” have generally been considered by psychologists to be equivalent, although the former ought to designate only a psychological, or applied, and the latter dimply a logical, or pure, consciousness. Now the fact that the former allows us only to cognize ourself, as we appear, is proved by this, that apprehension of the impressions of the former presupposes a formal condition of the inner contemplation of the subject — namely, time — which is not a conception of the understanding, and hence is valid only as  subjective condition how inner sensations can be made known to us.

This remark does not belong in point of fact to Anthropology. In that science, appearances that are united by laws of the understanding are experiences, and hence no questions are asked concerning the manner of perceiving things as they are in themselves, without regard to their relation to the senses, since such an investigation belongs to the science of Metaphysics, which has to deal with the possibility of cognition a priori. But still it was necessary to go back so far, even had it been only to repudiate the errors of speculative minds in this respect. And since the knowledge of men through inner experience is of great importance — because he judges others by it — and yet also of greater difficulty — since a self-observer, instead of merely observing the self-consciousness of another, adds much to it, — it is advisable and even necessary to begin with observed phenomena, and only then to progress toward the assertion of axioms which concern the inner nature of man, i.e. toward internal experience.


8 Apology for Sensuousness.

Everybody renders all possible reverence to the understanding, as, indeed, the very naming of that faculty — it being called the upper faculty of cognition — implies; and anyone who should attempt to laud it, would be discountenanced by the ridicule of that orator who glorified the praise of virtue: Stulte! quis unquam vituperavit? But sensuousness is in bad repute. Far worse things are told of it; for instance, that it confuses the power of representation; that it puts on a bold air and pretends to be the mistress, whereas it ought to be simply the servant of the understanding, and that it is obstinate and hard to manage; and finally that it even deceives, and that hence we cannot be sufficiently on our guard against it. On the other hand, however, it does not lack advocates, especially amongst poets and people of taste, who not only glorify the sensualization of the conceptions of the understanding as a merit, but also insist that those conceptions must not be analyzed minutely. They characterize their pregnancy as fullness of thought, their emphasis as perspicuity of language, and their self-evidence as clearness of consciousness; declaring, mean- while, that the nakedness of the understanding is merely a deficiency. We need here no panegyrist, but merely advocates against the accuser.

The passive element in sensuousness, which, after all, we cannot strip off, is really the cause of all the bad things laid to its charge. The inner perfection of man consists in this, that he has the use of all his functions under his own direction, in order to be able to submit it to his own free arbitrariness. But this requires that the understanding should rule without weakening sensuousness— which in itself has a mob-characteristic, since it does not reflect — because without sensuousness there would be no material for the application of the legislative understanding.


9 Sensuousness justified against the First Accusation

The senses do not confuse. It cannot be said of a man who has taken hold of a given manifold, though he has not yet put it in order, that he has confused it. The perceptions of the senses, our empirical conscious representations, can be called only inner phenomena. The understanding, which joins them and connects them under a rule of thinking, bringing order into the manifold, first constitutes them empirical cognitions, that is, experience.

Note: Since we speak here only of the faculty of cognition, and hence of representations (and not of feelings of enjoyment or disgust), sensation can signify here only sensuous representation (empirical contemplation) as distinguished equally from conception, or thinking, and from pure contemplation of Time and Space.

Hence it is the fault of the understanding, neglecting its duty, if it judges rashly, without having previously regulated the sensuous perceptions according to conceptions, and if then it complains about the confusedness of those perceptions as due to the sensuous organization of man. This reproach applies as well to the unfounded complaint about the confusedness of the external as to that of the internal sensuous perceptions.

It is true that the sensuous perceptions precede the conceptions of the understanding and present themselves in large numbers. But all the more are we repaid by the result, when the understanding comes with its regulative power and intellectual form, and, for instance, finds numerous expressions for the conceptions, emphatic utterances for the feelings, and interesting ideas for the determinations of the will. The wealth which the intellectual productions in oratory and poetry bring at once before the conceptive power of the understanding often, it is true, throws that power into confusion whenever it is called upon to make clear and expound to itself all the acts of .reflection which it actually — though in an unconscious sort of way— performs in those productions. But this is not a defect on the part of sensuousness; on the contrary, it is rather a merit to have offered an abundance of material to the understanding, in comparison with which abundance the abstract conceptions of the understanding appear often merely as a glittering indigence.

Sensuousness justified against the Second Accusation.

The senses do not govern the understanding. On the contrary, they rather submit themselves to the understanding in order that it may control their services. The fact that they do not want the importance which attaches to them in what is usually called common sense (sensus communis) to pass unrecognized, cannot be charged to them as an assumption to govern the understanding. It is true that there are judgments which are not formally taken before the tribunal of the understanding in order to be passed upon, and which, therefore, seem to have been dictated by the senses. Such judgments are found, for example, in the so-called epigrams or oracular sayings — of the kind that Socrates attributed to his demon. For in those instances it is always presupposed that the first judgment, concerning what is right or wise to be done in a certain case, is also the true and correct one, as a rule; and that it can only be artificialized by pondering over it. But in point of fact those judgments do not come from the senses, but from actual, though half-unconscious, consideration of the understanding. The senses prefer no claim upon them, but resemble the common people, who, if they are not a mob (ignobile vulgus), submit readily to their superior, the understanding, though they certainly also want to be heard in the matter. Hence if certain judgments and insights are regarded as proceeding immediately (and not through the mediation of the understanding) from the internal sensuousness, and if the latter is, consequently, presumed to wield a rule of itself, this is mere extravagance of fancy closely allied to insanity.

Sensuousness Justified against the Third Accusation,

The senses do not deceive. This proposition is the refutation of the most important, though also most groundless, objection raised against the senses, not because they always judge correctly, but because they do not judge at all. Hence errors are always attributable to the understanding; nevertheless the understanding has, if not a justification, at least an excuse, in sensuous appearance (species, apparentia), by means of which man is often led to mistake the subjective of his perception for the objective, and hence appearance for experience; as, for instance, when a distant square tower, of which he does not see the comers, appears to him round; when the sea, the remoter parts of which are brought to his eye by higher rays of light, appears to him higher than the shore (altum mare); or when the full moon, which he sees, as it rises on the horizon, through a mist, appears to him further removed, and hence larger, than when it is high in the heavens, although the angle of vision is the same. But the errors thus arising are errors of the understanding and not of the senses.

One of the objections raised against sensuousness by logic is, that the cognitions to which it gives rise are shallow (individual, limited to the special), while the understanding, which deals with the general and hence has to accommodate itself to abstractions, is reproached with being dry. But an aesthetical treatment, the first requirement of which is popularity, pursues a path on which both defects can be avoided.


10 Concerning Our Power Of Doing In Regard To The Faculty Of Cognition In General

The preceding section, which treats of a seeming faculty to do what no man can do, leads us to an exposition of the conceptions of what is easy and what is difficult to do.

Easiness (promptitudo) to do something must not be mistaken for readiness (habitus). The former signifies a certain degree of the human faculty — “I can if I will!” and designates subjective possibility; the latter signifies the subjective practical necessity, i.e. a habit of doing, and hence a certain degree of the will, which is attained by a repeated exercise of that faculty: “I will, because duty commands it.” Hence virtue cannot be explained as a readiness of performing free, just acts; for in that case it would be a mere mechanism of the application of force: but virtue is the moral strength to do our duty, which can never become a habit, but must always proceed new and originally from our mode of thinking.

The Easy is opposed to the Difficult, but often also to the Irksome. A person finds a thing easy when he has within him a great superfluity of the faculty and power which is necessary to accomplish a certain act. What is easier than the formalities of visits, congratulations, condolences, &c.? But, again, what is more difficult for a busy man? They are friendly vexations, of which everybody desires heartily to get rid, though he hesitates to offend against usage.

What vexations, for instance, do we not meet in the external observances that are counted as belonging to religion, though they really pertain only to the forms of the church; and in regard to which the merit of piety is adjudged to consist in the fact, that those observances are of no use at all, and in the mere submission of the faithful to allow themselves to be patiently hoodwinked by ceremonies, such as penances and flagellations (the more the better); whilst, nevertheless, these slavish observances, though mechanically easy — since they do not require the sacrifice of any vicious inclinations — must be morally very oppressive and burdensome to rational men.

When the great moral teacher of men said, therefore, “My commands are not difficult,” &c., he did not intend to say that it requires only a slight exertion to fulfil them — for, as commands which require a pure heart, they are really of all commandments the most difficult to observe — but he meant, that for a rational man they were, after all, infinitely easier of observance than the commands of a busy Do-nothingness (gratis anhelare, multa agendo nihil agere) such as the Jews had brought into practice ; for to a man of reason that which is mechanically easy seems excessively burdensome, when he sees that the labor wasted upon it brings, after all, no results.

To make something easy which of itself is difficult, constitutes a merit; to represent it as being easy when we ourselves cannot do it, is deception. To do that which is easy to do, is without merit. Methods and machines and the distribution of labor amongst many workmen (factory labor), make many things easy, which it might be difficult to do without other tools.

To point out difficulties before assigning a piece of work to the learner — as, for instance, in metaphysical investigations — may certainly deter many; but still it is better than to conceal them. The man who considers everything he undertakes, to be easy, is light-minded. He who finds everything he undertakes to come easy to him, is clever; and he whose actions always betray care and pain, is unhandy. Social conversation is a mere play, wherein everything must be and appear easy. This is the reason why the ceremonial, or stiff, elements of social gatherings— as, for instance, the solemn leave-taking after a festival — have been abandoned as antiquated.

The moods of men in undertaking a business is different according to the difference of their temperaments. Some begin with difficulties and anxieties; these are of melancholic disposition: others, who have a sanguine temperament, think first of all of their hopes and the supposed easiness of the execution of their projects.

But what shall we say of the boast of some men, a boast which has not its origin in mere temperament: “man can do whatever he wills to do”? This boast is nothing more than a high-sounding tautology; for whatever man wills to do upon the command of his moral reason, it is his duty to do, and hence he also can do it, since reason will never exact the impossible. Some years ago, however, we had some coxcombs who also boasted this power in a physical sense, and thus announced themselves as world-reformers. Their race, however, has now expired.

To become accustomed to anything (consuetudo) makes it easy in the end to bear evils, since feelings of the same kind detract attention from the senses by their long duration without change, so that we are finally barely conscious of them (a state of things which is falsely honored with the name of a virtue, namely, patience). But this becoming accustomed to things also renders the consciousness and the remembrance of received benefits difficult, and this leads generally to ingratitude, a real vice.

Habit (assuetudo), on the other hand, is a physical, inner compulsory impulse to continue in the way we have been following. On that very account it deprives good actions of their moral worth, since it checks the freedom of our disposition, and leads to thoughtless repetitions of the same act (monotony), whereby it becomes ridiculous. Habitual phrases (merely to conceal emptiness of thought) always keep the hearer in anxiety that he will have to hear again the same worn-out saying, and make of the orator a mere speaking machine. The cause of the disgust which the habits of others excite in us, is to be found in this, that the animal shows itself too prominently in the man who acts instinctively as habit prompts him, just like any other non-human creature,. and who thus runs the risk of being placed in the same class with cattle. Nevertheless, there are certain habits which may be assumed properly and to which we may give our assent, namely, when nature refuses its- assistance to our free will. Thus, for instance, we may habituate ourselves in age to the time of our eating and drinking, and to the quantity and quality thereof, or to our time and length of sleeping, thereby making the habit gradually mechanical; but as a rule every habit is objectionable.


11 Concerning The Artificial Play With The Semblance Of Our Senses.

The delusion in which sensuous representations involve the understanding (praestigae) may be either natural or artificial, and is, therefore, either an illusion or a fraud. That sort of deception which necessitates us to consider something as real on the testimony of our eyes, though our understanding declares it to be impossible in regard to the same subject, is called eye-delusion (praestigia).

We call illusive that delusion which remains, although we know that the supposed object is not real. This play of the mind with the semblance of our senses is very agreeable and entertaining, as, for instance, the perspective drawing of the interior of a temple; or, as Raphael Mengs says of the painting of the school of the Peripatetics (by Coreggio, if I am not mistaken), ” when we look long at the figures they seem to walk”; or as the painted staircase with half-opened door in the City Hall of Amsterdam, which misleads every one to climb it, &c.

But a deception of our senses occurs when the semblance stops the moment we know what the object really is. All sleight-of-hand tricks belong, to this category. Clothing, the color of which contrasts favorably with our complexion, is an illusion; but painting cheeks is a deception. The former allures us, the latter apes. This is also the reason why we do not like statues of human or animal figures that are painted, since we are tempted, every moment we see them unexpectedly, to believe them to be living.

Fascination in an otherwise healthy state of mind is a delusion of the senses, whereof we say, “This does not occur naturally”; because our judgment, that a certain object, or a certain quality, of the object exists, changes irresistibly with our judgment that it does not exist, or has another quality, and because thus our senses seem to contradict themselves. Instance a bird fluttering towards a mirror wherein it sees itself, and alternately considers it a real and not a real bird. This play, that men do not trust their own senses, occurs mainly in people who are strongly moved by passion. Thus Helvetius tells of a lover who saw his sweetheart in the arms of another one, and nevertheless accepted her bold denial when she said to him: “Faithless one, you love me no more; for you believe rather what you see than what I tell you.” Coarser, or at least more harmful, is the deception practiced by ventriloquists, mesmerizers, and other so-called wizards.

In older times, the old, ignorant women who were supposed to do these supernatural things, were called witches (in German, Hexen) and even in this century the belief in witchcraft has not been fully eradicated. It seems that the feeling of amazement at something unheard of has in itself a certain charm for weak minds; not merely because it opens at once new prospects, but because it rids him of the burdensome task to apply his reason, and at the same time induces him to believe other people his equals in ignorance.

Note: Thus a Protestant clergyman in Scotland, who was a witness in such a case in this century, said to the Judge, “Your Honor, I assure you on my clerical honor, that this woman is |i witch.” Whereupon the latter replied: “And I assure you on my Judicial honor, that you are no witch-tamer.” The now German word ”Hexe” (witch) is derived from the initial letters of the Mass-formula when the hostia is consecrated, which the faithful with their bodily eyes perceive as a small piece of bread, but which after the consecration they are bound to perceive with their spiritual eyes as the body of a man. For the words hoc est were supplemented by the word corpus; whereupon hoc est corpus was changed into hocus-pocus, probably from a pious timidity to call things by their right name and thus profane them.


12 Concerning Permitted Moral Semblance

All men are actors, and the more in proportion as they are civilized. They assume the appearance of esteem towards others, of graciousness and unselfishness, although they deceive no one thereby, since each one argues that it is not meant seriously; and indeed it is very well that the world is thus arranged. For, as men play these roles, the virtues, the semblance whereof they have only acted a certain time, are gradually wakened into life and pass over into their character. But to deceive again this deceiver in us — namely, to deceive our inclination to deceive — is really a return to obedience under the rule of virtue, and hence it is .not deceit, but rather guiltless deception of our self.

Thus the disgust at our own existence — which results from the emptiness of feelings in our soul, which feelings it incessantly acquires — and the ennui which at the same time is nevertheless accompanied by a weight of laziness — that is, of aversion to every sort of laborsome occupation which might dispel that disgust, an aversion due to the fact that such occupation requires exertion, — constitute a very disagreeable feeling, which has no other cause than a natural desire to be comfortable, that is, to enjoy rest without previously having tired ourselves out. But this desire for comfortableness is deceptive, even in regard to the objects which reason makes a law to man, in order to be satisfied with himself even when he does nothing at all (when he vegetates without any object whatever), since then he, at least, does nothing bad. Hence, in order to deceive that inclination again (which can best be accomplished by dallying with the fine arts, but chiefly by social conversation), we resort to what is called passing time away (tempus fallere); the very expression indicating the intention to deceive our desire for inactive rest by entertaining our mind with a dalliance with the fine arts. This deception is still further promoted when such a mere purposeless dalliance effects at any rate a certain culture of the mind; for otherwise we call that inactive rest — killing time. Force accomplishes nothing as against sensuousness in our inclinations; we must overcome them by cunning, and, as Swift says, give the whale a tub to play with in order to save the ship.

Nature has wisely implanted in man an inclination to deceive himself, in order to save virtue, or, at least, to lead towards it. Good, honorable behaviour, is an external semblance which we assume in order not to make ourselves common, and which forces others to esteem us. It is true, that women would be very little satisfied if the male sex did not seem to acknowledge their charms. But coyness (pudicitia), a self-compulsion which conceals passion, is nevertheless very wholesome, as an illusion, in order to effect that distance between the two sexes which is necessary to prevent one of them degenerating into a mere tool for the enjoyment of the other, Indeed everything which is called decorousness is of the same kind, namely, nothing bat a beautiful semblance.

Politeness is a semblance of condescension which prompts love. It is true, that bows, compliments, and the whole series of courtly gallantry, together with the warmest verbal assurances of friendship, are not always truth — “My dear friends, there is no such thing as a friend !” says Aristotle — but nevertheless they do not deceive, since everyone knows what to think of them, but especially because these, at first merely empty signs of graciousness and esteem, gradually lead to actual feelings of that kind.

All human virtue, in our intercourse with each other, is nothing but small money change; and he is a child who takes it for genuine gold. Still, it is better to have such small money in circulation than none at all ; especially as it can, after all, be exchanged into gold, though at a considerable discount. To say that these virtues are mere money-marks, without any value whatever, and to hold, with Swift’s sarcasm, that “honesty is a pair of shoes that have been worn out in the mud,” &c.; or to take the part of the Rev. Mr. Hofstede, who, in his attack upon Marmontel’s Belisar, calumniates even a man like Socrates, so as to be sure to keep anyone from still believing in virtue, — this is high treason practiced on mankind. Even the semblance of goodness in others must be dear to us; since this play with ideas that compel our esteem, though without perhaps deserving it, may, after all, turn into seriousness. It is only the semblance of goodness in ourselves which must be remorselessly wiped away, and the veil with which egotism tries to conceal our moral defects which must be removed; since semblance always deceives when we persuade ourselves that we may cancel our sins by the doing of something which has no inner moral worth whatever; as, for instance, when repentance of our sins at the close of life is represented as real reformation, or when intentional wrong doing is made out to be simply human weakness.


13 Sensuousness in the faculty of cognition

the faculty of representations in contemplation — comprises two parts: Sense and the power of imagination. The former is the power of contemplating in the presence of the object; the latter is the power of contemplating also without that presence. But the senses are again subdivided into external and internal senses (sensus externus, internus) ; the former being those in regard to which the human body is affected by bodily things, whereas by means of the latter he is affected through his mind. It is to be observed, however, that the latter, as a mere faculty of perception (of empirical contemplation) must be distinguished from the feeling of delight and disgust, — that is, from the capability of the subject to be determined through certain representations in the preservation or the renewal of the condition of those representations— which feeling might be called the inner sense (sensus interior). A representation through our senses, of which we become conscious as such, is called specially sensation, when the sensation attracts at the same time attention to the condition of the subject.


14 We may divide primarily the senses of our bodily sensation into the vital sense (sensus vugus) and the organic sense (sensus fixus), and as we meet these senses only where nerves are found, into those which affect the whole system of nerves, and those which affect those nerves only, which belong to a certain member of the body. The sensations of warmth and cold, even when produced by the mind, through sudden hope or fear, for instance, belong to the vital sense. The shudder, which runs through men at the notion of the sublime,and the shivering wherewith nurses scare children to bed late at night, are of the latter kind; they penetrate the body as far as there is life in it.

But of the organic senses we cannot well count more nor less than five in so far as they relate to external sensations.

Three of these, however, are more objective than subjective; that is, they contribute more as empirical contemplations, to the cognition of the external object, than they excite the consciousness of the affected organ. But two of them are more subjective than objective; that is, our representations through them contribute more to enjoyment than to a cognition of the external object. Hence in regard to the former, we can only come to an agreement with others, but in regard to the latter — although the same external empirical contemplation and the same external connection may take place — the mode in which the subject is affected thereby may be very different.

The senses of the first class are those of touch (tactus) sight (risus) and hearing (auditus).

Those of the second class are the sense of taste (gustus), and that of smell (olfactus); both being purely senses of organic sensation, that is, entrances prepared by nature for the animal, in order to enable it to distinguish objects.

15 Concerning the Sense of Touch.

The sense of touch lies in the finger-tips and their nerves (papillae) in order to discover by touching the outside of a solid body its peculiar form. Nature seems to have given this organ to man alone, in order that he may form a conception of the form of a body by touching it at all sides; for the feelers of the insects seem to have in view rather the discovery of the presence of an object than the discovery of its form. This sense also is the only one of immediate external perception. Hence, while being the most important and the safest to teach us, it is also the coarsest sense, since the matter, of the form of which we desire to become advised, must be solid. (We do not speak here at all of the vital sense, whether the surface of a body is soft or rough; still less, whether it is warm or cold to the touch.) Without this organic sense we should not be able to form a conception of any bodily form. Hence the two other senses of the first class must be originally related to this sense, in order to make empirical knowledge at all possible.

16 Concerning the Sense of Hearing.

The sense of hearing is one of the senses of merely mediated perception. Through the air which surrounds us, and by means of which a distant object is made known to us, and which is put into motion by means of our organ of voice, the mouth, men can most readily and perfectly place themselves in communion of thoughts and feelings with each other, especially if the sounds, which one person makes the other hear, are articulated, and in their proper connection constitute a language. The sense of hearing does not furnish us with a notion of the form of the object, and the sounds of the words do not present us immediately with an image of the object; but for that very reason,, and because they are nothing in themselves,’— at any rate no objects, but at the utmost only internal feelings — they are the most appropriate means of designating conceptions; and people who are born deaf, and hence must also remain dumb, i. e., without a language, can never arrive at any higher stage than an analogy of reason.

But so far as the vital sense is concerned, this sense is indescribably, vividly, and variously moved, and also strengthened by music, as a regular play of the feelings of hearing; music being thus, as it were, a language of mere feelings, without any conceptions. Here the sounds of words are tones; and these are for the ear precisely what colors are for the sight; a communication of feelings in the distance, in a space to all who move in that space, and a social enjoyment, which is not lessened by the fact that many participate in it.

17 Concerning the Sense of Seeing.

The sense of sight is also a sense of mediated sensation through a moved matter called light, and which is sensible only to a certain organ, the eye. This moved matter is not, like sound, a mere undulatory motion of a fluid element, which expands itself in space in every direction, but is an exudation, by means of which a point in space for the object is determined, and by means of which the Universe becomes known to us in so immeasurable a degree, that — especially in regard to self-luminous stars, and in comparing their distances with our standards here on earth — we get weary over the vast series of numbers, and have cause to be astonished almost more at the tender sensitiveness of our eye in beholding such weakened impressions, than at the vastness of the Universe itself; especially when we add to it the microscopic world, as shown, for instance, by the infusoria.

The sense of sight, although not less dispensable than that of bearing, is nevertheless the noblest; since it is of all our senses the most removed from the sense of touch, as the most limited condition of our perceptions, and since it not merely contains the largest numbers of those perceptions in space, but also feels its organ the least affected — since otherwise it would not be mere seeing; and since, therefore, in this respect, it comes nearest to a pure contemplation of the immediate representation of the given object, without any mixture of perceptible sensation.

These three external senses lead us through reflection to a recognition of a thing outside of us. But if the sensation gets so strong that the consciousness of the movement of the organ grows stronger than that of the relation to an external object, in that case external are changed into internal representations. To perceive the smoothness or roughness of a surface in touching an object, is something quite different from obtaining a knowledge of the external form of a figure by that means. In the same way, if some person, for instance, speaks so loud that one’s ears ache on account of it; or if some one steps suddenly out of a dark room into bright sunshine and winks his eyes, in that case the latter becomes blind for a few moments, through a too strong or too sudden illumination, and the former becomes deaf through the screeching voice. That is to say: both persons, by reason of the violence of their sensuous perceptions, acquire no conception of the object. Hence their attention is directed solely to the subjective representation, that is, the change of the organ itself.

18 Concerning the Senses of Taste and Smell.

The senses of taste and smell are both more subjective than objective; the former in that the organs of taste, the tongue, the gums and the throat are touched by the external object; the second in that we inhale along with the air the exhalations of foreign substances, though the exhaling object may be at a distance. They are closely related to each other, and a person who lacks the sense of smell, has also, as a rule, only a coarse taste. We may say that both organs are affected by salts (solid and volatile) the one kind of which must be dissolved in the mouth by a fluid, while the other requires to be dissolved through the air, which fluid or air must penetrate the organ, in order to affect it by the peculiar sensation they create.


19 Concerning the Faculty of Cognition. — General Remarks Concerning our External Senses.

We can divide the sensations of our external senses into those of mechanical and those of chemical origin. To the former class belong the three higher, to the latter the two lower senses. The former are senses of perception (superficial), the latter are senses of enjoyment (intense appropriation). This is the reason why nausea, an inclination to relieve ourselves of what we have eat or drunk by the shortest way of the esophagus, that is, to vomit, has been given to man as a vital sensation of unusual degree; since so intense an appropriation might become dangerous to the animal.

But since there exists also a spiritual enjoyment, which results from the communication of thoughts, and which, when forced upon us and is not healthy for us as spiritual food, but found to be disagreeable — as, for instance, a repetition of the same witty or supposed to be witty sayings — and which may, therefore, also become unwholesome to us on account of that very sameness: we call the instinct of nature to get rid of this spiritual food, also nausea, for the sake of analogy; although it belongs to the internal sense.

Smelling is, as it were, a tasting in the distance, and forces others to partake, whether they will or not. Hence it is, as being opposed to freedom, less social than tasting, which allows each guest to choose according to his inclination, amongst a variety of dishes or bottles, without compelling others to partake of his choice. Dirt is called nauseating, apparently not because it is disgusting to the eye or tongue, but because it is presumptively supposed to arouse nausea. For our appropriation of external things through our sense of smelling (in the lungs) is still more intense than that which occurs through the imbibing membranes of the mouth or throat.

The more intensely our senses feel themselves affected — under the same degree of the influence exerted upon them — the less do they teach us. Vice versa: if they are to teach us much, they must affect us only moderately. In the strongest light we see (distinguish) nothing; and a stentorian voice deafens (suppresses our thinking).

The more receptive our vital sense is to impressions (tender and affected), the more unhappy are we; and the more receptive a man is to the organic sense (sensitive), and hardened against the vital sense, the more happy — I say happy, and not exactly morally better — is he ; since he has the feeling of his well being more in his power. That sensitive faculty which arises from strength (sensibilitas sthenica) we may call gentle sensitiveness; but that which arises from weakness, from a not being able sufficiently to resist the impression of our senses in their effort to penetrate into our consciousness, we must call painful sensitiveness.

20 Questions.

Which organic sense is the most ungrateful and also the least useful? That of smelling.

It does not pay to cultivate, or perhaps even to refine it; for there are more objects of nausea — especially in populous places — than of enjoyment, which the sense can procure us, and our enjoyment through this sense can at the best be only fleeting and temporary, if it is to give us pleasure. But as a negative condition of our well-doing, to escape inhaling unwholesome air (the exhalations of stoves, or of swamps or of dead animals) or not to use mouldy materials for our food, the sense is not unimportant.

The same importance belongs also to the second sense of enjoyment, the sense of tasting. But this sense has a peculiar preference in that it promotes sociability in its enjoyment, which the sense of smelling does not; and furthermore in that it judges in advance at the very door of the entrance of our food into the intestines, concerning the wholesomeness of that food; since tastefulness of food is pretty sure to indicate its wholesomeness, unless gluttony has spoiled taste by too much artificial refinement. The appetite of the sick generally longs for that which, like medicine, works to their benefit. The smell of food is as it were a foretaste ; it invites the hungry to partake of favorite dishes, just as it repels those who are sated.

Is there a vicariousness of the senses, whereby the use of one sense can represent that of another? We can coax the deaf to accustomed speech by gestures; that is, by the use of their eyes; — provided they have ever been able to hear — or by observing the motion of their lips, and even by merely touching their moving lips in darkness. If they have been horn deaf, however, we must change the sense of seeing — which we do in the former case from the movement of the organs of speech — from the sounds produced, into & feeling of the movement of the vocal organs themselves. But they will never thereby arrive at actual conceptions, since the signs, which they need for that purpose, cannot be made universal. The lack of a musical ear, in cases wherein the mere physical ear is uninjured, and in which cases a man is able enough to hear sounds but not tones, to speak but not to sing — is a deformity which it is difficult to explain. In the same way we have men who can see well enough, but cannot distinguish colors; and to whom all things appear, therefore, as in an engraving.

The lack or loss of which sense is most important to us — the sense of hearing or of seeing? If the first named sense were inborn it would be the least dispensable of all senses; but if it is only the result of cultivation, through the use of the eyes, as has been explained, the loss of it may be in some way replaced through sight; especially if the sufferer is wealthy. But persons who have grown deaf in old age, miss this means of communication very much; and while we see many blind people who are communicative, social and gay at the table, it is a rare thing to find a single person who has lost his hearing, otherwise than -cross, suspicious, and dissatisfied in society. He sees in the features of the company present certain expressions of feeling, or at least of interest, and endeavors in vain to discover their meaning, whereby he is really condemned to solitude in the midst of society.


21. It is further to be observed that we class among the two latter senses (which are more subjective than objective), a sensitiveness in regard to certain objects of external sensuous perceptions, which have this peculiarity, that they are merely subjective and work upon the organs of smelling and tasting by means of a stimulation, which is nevertheless neither smell nor taste, but felt only as the effect of certain fixed salts, that prompt the organs to specific expurgations. Hence these objects are not internally appropriated by our organs, and actually enjoyed. They merely touch our organs and are soon after removed; but for that very reason they can be used the whole day long (eating and sleeping time excepted) without bringing about satiety. Their most common material is tobacco, whether it be by snuffing it, or putting it into the mouth between the cheek and the gums, in order to stimulate the secretion of saliva, or by smoking it through pipe-stems — as even the Spanish women of Lima smoke their cigars.

The Malays use for the latter purpose the areka nut, wrapped up in a betel leaf, and which has the same effect as tobacco.

This longing (pica) is to be regarded — apart from the medical good or harm which the clearing out of the fluid elements from both organs may effect — as a mere stimulation of sensuous feeling in general. It is, as it were, an oft repeated impulse acting on our recollection, to attend to our thoughts, which would otherwise fall asleep, or become tedious through uniformity and sameness. This means of self-entertainment on the part of man replaces society, since it fills the emptiness of time, instead of conversation, by ever newly aroused sensations and very transitory but always rejuvenated stimulations.


22 Concerning The Internal Sense.

The internal sense is not pure apperception, or a consciousness of what man does — for this belongs to the thinking faculty — but of what is felt by man, in so far as he is affected by his own play of thoughts. It is based upon man’s internal contemplation, and hence upon the relation of our representations in time — as they appear therein either simultaneously or in a successive order. The perceptions of this internal sense and the true or seeming internal experience which results from their combination is not merely anthropological — where we disregard the question whether man has a soul (a special incorporeal substance) or not — but pathological — where we believe that we perceive such a soul, and where we regard the mere faculty to think and feel as a special substance, inherent in man.

From this standpoint there is, of course, only one internal sense, since man does not feel himself internally through different organs; and one might say that the soul is the organ of the internal sense. In this case we say of it, that it is subject to illusions, which consist in this, that we either take its appearances to be external appearances (thus confounding illusions with actual sensations); or, still worse, hold them to be manifestations of another being, of which we nevertheless have no external perception, in which case the illusion turns either into visionary dreaming or into ghost seeing, both of which conditions are a cheating of the internal sense. Both cases rest on a malady of the soul; a longing to accept the play of the perceptions of the internal sense for experimental knowledge, whereas it is simply fiction; and often also a desire to plunge into an artificial mental condition — perhaps because we consider it wholesome, and elevating us over the commonness and lowness of sensuous perceptions — and thus to cheat ourselves afterward by fancies formed in accordance with that artificial condition — (to dream when wide awake). For in the course of time man comes to consider that which he has purposely planted in his mind, as something which has existed previously in his mind, and believes that he has discovered in the depths of his soul the very thoughts or fancies which are forced upon him.

This was the case with the visionary charming fancies of a Antoinette Bourignon, or the visionary terrifying fancies of a Pascal. This dissonance of the mind cannot very well be put to rights again by rational arguments — for what can these effect against matters believed to be actual? The tendency to become absorbed in or turned in upon one’s self, together with the illusions of the internal sense arising therefrom, can be brought into order only by leading man back into the external world and thereby into the order of things, which lies before our external senses.


23 Concerning The Causes Of The Decrease Or Increase Of Our Sensuous Perceptions In Degree.

Our sensuous perceptions are increased in degree, 1, by contrast ; 2, by novelty ; 3, by change, and 4, by intensification.

Contrast. — Contrast is the putting aside of each other, under one and the same conception, sensuous representations which are averse to each other ; whereby our attention is called into play. It is thus distinguished from contradiction, which is the connecting of two opposite conceptions. A well-cultivated piece of land in a desert elevates our perception of the former by the mere contrast. The noise and splendor of a court, or be it only of a large city, when compared with the quiet, simple, and yet contented life of a farmer; or a house with a thatched roof, but its rooms commodious and tasteful: such contrasts delight our eye; and we love to linger over them, since they strengthen our senses.

Poverty and haughtiness, however; or the gorgeous jewelry of a lady, whose washing is none of the cleanest; or, as in the case of a late Polish noble, tables groaning under luxuries and served by numerous waiters, wearing wooden shoes; such things are not in contrast but in contradiction to each other, and one sensuous perception destroys or weakens the other, because it tries to unite opposites under one and the same conception; and this is impossible.

Still there is also a way of effecting a comic contrast, and of uttering an evident contradiction with the tone of truth, or placing before an audience something evidently contemptible in the language of praise, for the sole purpose of making the absurdity more deeply felt — as, for instance, Fielding in Jonathan Wild, or

Aloys Blumauer in his travestied Aeneid — and thus for example, to make a jolly parody of a heart-breaking novel like Clarissa, with a view of strengthening the senses by freeing them from conflicts, wherein false and dangerous conceptions have involved them.

Novelty. — The new, which includes the rare and the hitherto concealed, revives attention, because it involves a further acquisition; hence our sensuous perception increases by it in strength, whereas everyday, habitual occurrences deaden attention. This does not include, however, the discovery, inspection or public exhibition of subjects of antiquity — such as we might have supposed, according to the natural course of things, to have long since been destroyed by the tooth of time. To sit upon a piece of the wall of an old Roman theatre (in Verona or Nismes), to have under one’s hands the house-furniture of that people, discovered after so many years in Herculaneum from under the lava which had buried it, to be able to exhibit a coin of the Macedonian kings, or a gem of ancient sculpture, &c.: all this arouses the senses of a connoisseur to profound attention. An inclination to acquire some knowledge, merely on account of its novelty, variety, and hidden qualities, is called curiosity. This inclination, although it merely plays with perceptions, and has otherwise no interest in its object, deserves no censure, provided it is not extended to spying out matters which are of interest only to others. But so far as the mere sensuous impression is concerned, each morning comes to us new, and by the newness of its sensations makes all the images of our senses (unless the latter are really sickly) clearer and more vivid, than they usually are in the morning.

Change.— Monotony — a perfect sameness in our sensations — results at the end in their agony (a growing tired on the part of our attentiveness to its condition) and then our sensuous perception grows dim. Change refreshes our senses, but a sermon read off in the self-same tone, whether shrieking or moderate, puts a whole congregation to sleep. Work and rest, city and country life; in our social intercourse, conversation and play; in solitude amusement, whether by means of novels or poetry, or philosophy and mathematics: such changes strengthen the mind. It is the same vital force which stirs the consciousness of our sensations, but its various organs relieve each other in their activity. Hence it is easier to converse for some time while walking, since the muscles of the leg, in this case, take rest one after the other, than to remain standing stiff in one and the same place, in which case the muscles have to work without rest for a while. Hence also does it happen that traveling has so great a charm; it is a pity however, that with people of leisure it leaves a blank (atony) behind, as the result of the monotony of home life.

It is true that nature herself has ordered things already beforehand in such a manner, that pain enters uncalled between pleasurable sensations, such as entertain the senses, and by this entrance makes life interesting. But to allow pain purposely to intervene merely for the sake of change, and thus to hurt one’s self, to have ourselves waked up merely to feel the pleasure of renewed dropping off to sleep, or, as in Fielding’s novel, “Tom Jones,” where the publisher of that book added a final part to it after the author’s death, to introduce, for the sake of variety, the element of jealousy after the wedding (wherewith that novel originally closed) is absurd; for to make a state of things worse than it is does not increase the interest which the senses take in it, even in a tragedy. For an ending is not variety.

Intensification to a Climax. — A continuous series of successive sensuous perceptions, which differ in degree, and of which the succeeding one is always more intense than the one preceding, has a maximum of intensity (intensio), to approach which is reviving, whereas to pass beyond it is exhausting (remissio). But the point which separates both conditions, is the completion {maximum) of the sensation, and is followed as its result, by impassivity and hence lifelessness.

If we desire to keep our sensuous faculty alive, we must not begin with strong sensations — for they make us insensitive to those that follow — but rather deprive ourselves of them at first, or take them in short measure, in order to be able to ascend always higher. The preacher begins in his introduction with a cool exposition addressed to the understanding, which points to the taking to heart of a conception of duty, and afterwards introduces into the analysis of his text a moral interest, finishing in the application with exciting all the motives of a human soul through all the sensations, which can give emphasis to that interest.

Young man! deprive thyself of the satisfaction of thy sensesgayety, luxury, love, &c.though thou doesn’t it not with the stoical purpose of becoming able to do without them, but with the refined Epicurean purpose of having constantly in view an ever-increasing enjoyment. This stinginess in regard to the capital of thy vital senses, makes thee truly richer through the postponement of enjoyment, even though thou shouldst have renounced the use thereof, for the greatest part, at the end of thy life. The consciousness of having the enjoyment in thy power is, like all that is ideal, more fruitful and far reaching than all that which satisfies the senses, and which by thus being itself used up at the same time with that satisfaction, is taken off from the sum of the whole.





Sources and links to most of the rest of Kant’s book.

Anthropology by Immanuel Kant 1798 translated by A. E. Kroeger
The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, by William Torrey Harris 1835-1909
Volume IX
Part First Anthropological Didactic – Concerning the manner in which to recognize the Internal as well as the External of Man p. 16-27 Section 1-5
https://archive.org/stream/journalspeculat06harrgoog#page/n28/mode/1up

Volume IX p 239-245 Section 6-7 and remarks Concerning the Faculty of Cognition
https://archive.org/stream/journalspeculat06harrgoog#page/n251/mode/1up

Volume IX p. 406-416 Sections 8-12 Apology for Sensuousness
https://archive.org/stream/journalspeculat06harrgoog#page/n418/mode/1up

Volume X Concerning the Five Senses p. 319-323 Sections 13-18
https://archive.org/stream/journalspeculat11unkngoog#page/n327/mode/1up

Volume XI 1867 Part First – Anthropological Didactic p. 310-317 Sections 19-23
https://archive.org/stream/journalofspecula11harruoft#page/310/mode/1up

Volume XI 1867 Concerning the Stoppage, Weakening, and Total Loss of our Sensuous Faculty 353 – 363 Sections 24-27
https://archive.org/stream/journalofspecula11harruoft#page/353/mode/1up

Volume XIII 1867 Concerning the Sensuous Power of Productive Imagination According to Its Different Kinds
Section 28-31 p. 281- 289
https://archive.org/stream/journalspeculat01unkngoog#page/n289/mode/1up

Volume XIV 1867 Part I Concerning the manner in which to recognize the Internal as well as the External of Man p. 154-169 Section 32-37 and Appendix
https://archive.org/stream/journalofspecula14harruoft#page/154/mode/1up

Volume XV 1867 Concerning the Weaknesses and Diseases of the Soul in regard to its Faculty of Cognition Section p. 62-66 Section 43-
https://archive.org/stream/journalofspecula15harruoft#page/62/mode/1up

Volume XVI Section 45-47 Mental Diversion- p. 47- 52
https://archive.org/stream/journalspeculat19unkngoog#page/n56/mode/1up

Volume XVI Sections 48-57- Concerning the Diseases of the Mind p. 395-413
https://archive.org/stream/journalspeculat19unkngoog#page/n403/mode/1up

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