Volume 14, 2018
History of Philosophy
A Crucial Passage in Kant’s First Analogy
This paper is concerned with a passage that has long intrigued interpreters of Kant’s First Analogy. the passage in question can be found at A188/B231 of the Critique of Pure Reason. In order to perceive that some item x comes to exist or ceases to exist, asserts Kant in this passage, you must connect the coming to exist or ceasing to exist of x to things that already exist before it takes place and continue to exist until it is completed. But if you do so, he further asserts, it must be the case that x is only a determination of such things and that the coming to exist or ceasing to exist of x is a mere change in the determinations of such things. These assertions are cryptic and give rise to several questions. In what way must you perform the act described? Why must you do so in order to perceive that x comes to exist or ceases to exist? And how does this entail that x is in fact only a determination of such things and thus that its coming to exist or ceasing to exist is not in fact ex nihilo or in nihilo? The answers given in this paper serve both to clarify Kant’s argument and to identify the main issues that would have to be faced in its assessment.