About nickomidgley

Co-translator of Essay on Transcendental Philosophy. Co-organizer of the upcoming conference on Maimon and the Essay at Manchester Metropolitan University, England.

Maimon Reading Group: Chapter 4

[by Nick Midgley, London]

Chapter 4 : Subject and Predicate, the Determinable and the Determination


This chapter launches straight into an analysis of how in a synthesis one term is defined as subject and the other as predicate, it establishes a criterion for these attributions. The first paragraph analyses syntheses that Maimon describes as ‘one-sided’ and which give rise to ‘absolute’ concepts, whereas the second paragraph begins with an analysis of syntheses that are ‘reciprocal’ and give rise to ‘relational’ concepts. Later in the chapter both these syntheses, as syntheses of the understanding containing necessity, are contrasted with the merely contingent syntheses of the imagination. The distinction between these three kinds of synthesis had already been introduced in chapter 2 (s.35-6), and Maimon will discuss it further in chapter 8. Chapter 4 as a whole concentrates on one-sided syntheses, and it is only these syntheses that are characterized as the determination of a determinable, the topic of the chapter. Continue reading

Maimon Reading Group: Chapter 3

[by Nick Midgley, London]

Chapter 3

This chapter discusses ideas of the understanding, and distinguishes them from the ideas of reason that Kant introduced in the Antinomy of Pure Reason (A405/B432 ff). Maimon had already deployed this notion in chapter 2 to characterise the differentials of sensation, but here he re-introduces them with different examples and a definition of them as the material completeness of concepts, that does not straightforwardly apply to the differentials. The chapter ends with an opposition between the subjective and objective orders of the operations of the mind, very briefly expressed but very intriguing.

Kant, in his letter responding to the manuscript of the Essay (Appendix II), criticizes the argument Maimon makes in this chapter for introducing this new species of ideas. Because Kant states in the letter that he has only read the first two chapters of the Essay and because there are passages in the chapter where Maimon is clearly trying to respond to Kant’s criticisms (see my translator’s footnote 3 on p.47), it is evident that the original chapter two was rewritten and divided into chapters two and three after Maimon read Kant’s letter. Continue reading