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The purpose of this essay is to provide a clear assessment and understanding of Descartes’ critique of Kant’s view concerning consciousness or self. The essay begins by introducing the basics of their arguments, and then develops four criticisms of Kant’s position. The first criticism will be based on heterogeneity problem, the second criticism will concern with the idea of solipsism; the third will be a rejection of Kant’s argument of transcendental dialectic, and lastly, it will concern indeterminacy problem. Finally, a conclusion will be drawn based on the views that correspond with my views.
Descartes believes that “I am, I exist” are not derived from the premise “I think”, since he argues that by the virtue of our perception it is true. As a result, “I think” is regarded as indubitably true and its origin is not from a previous knowledge of the entire proposition, “Everything that thinks exists.” This means that Kant believes that for a subject to occur necessary experiences must take place. This proposition is not in line with the argument by Descartes’ opinion since the presence of a thing relies on one’s perception of the mind, and that no other experiences are necessary.
The other criticism concerns the issue of “unity of apperception” where Kant argues for formalism about consciousness or self since it is an object without intuition, however, it does not mean that it can be compressed into a package of psychological operations. Conversely, Descartes believes that the premise “I exist” can be given a metaphysical description and that self have formal features such as simplicity and is within the empirical realm. As such, the Kant’s argument that mind and body is one thing, Descartes believes that they are separate. Furthermore, Descartes arguments that self identity and existence depend on consciousness against Kant’s argument that “self” is not found in ones consciousness. This means that self is not a premise of experience. Descartes does not support the idea of organizing and synthesizing experiences in order to have a prior knowledge. This does not go well with Kant’s argument that everything that thinks is a thinking self since self is not part of the experience, but it is the one responsible for the experience.
Descartes argues that consciousness and self-identity is perceived as a justification of the existence of something. As such, Descartes argument on the role of “I” is incompatible with the argument placed by Kant concerning the premise “I think,” however, Kant accepts Descartes suggestion “Cogito, ergo sum”.
I do agree with the argument of Kant since an individual is not always self-conscious, as suggested by Descartes. In addition, the suggestion that everything that thinks can be regarded as a thinking self is not logical since self-identity is not part of our experience but it necessitates the occurrence of the experience. As a result, self is regarded as an activity that weakens the traditional conception of the soul. Furthermore, and as Kant argues we should have at least two varying conceptions of self, that is, transcendental self, and empirical ego. As such, we will be able to distinguish between particular selves.