“Recent Phenomenalist Interpretations of Kant's Second Analogy,” Southwest Philosophy Review 1993, v. 9, pp. 29-41.
Southwest Philosophy Review
It is common to see, in the Kant literature, Kant interpreted as some kind of phenomenalist. It is difficult to read through Critique of Pure Reason and not come away with the impression that Kant did not distinguish between the objects we experience and our mental representations of these objects. In many places in the Critique he makes statements such as that an object in space is "nothing but the sum these representations" (A191B236).1 "[O]bjects are nothing but representations" (A371, also B164). Objects in space "cannot exist in themselves, but only in us" (A42/B59). But perhaps more impressive than such statements are the general positions Kant is seeking to develop and defend in Critique that seem to rely upon a phenomenalist interpretation of objects, for example, the view that we ourselves impose upon nature the regularities we find in nature (e.g. Bxvii, A125-6). AS another example, Kant writes that we "have to deal solely with our representations" (A190/B235), appearing to mean that we directly or immediately perceive only our own representations within our sensibility, a faculty of the mind. But he also insists, against the Cartesian sceptic, that objects in space must exist. It appears that Kant can avoid a problematic inference from our directly perceived representations of objects to the actual existence of these objects only by some fashion identifying these objects with our representations of them. So Kant appears to have adopted some form of phenomenalism.
Gordon Steinhoff, “Recent Phenomenalist Interpretations of Kant's Second Analogy,” Southwest Philosophy Review 1993, v. 9, pp. 29-41.