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The Origin and Status of our Intuitions

(original -- contains cross-referencing)

 There is no subjective or "inward looking" state that suffices to underpin the use of know . . . - Grant Gillett, An Anti-Sceptical Fuguei Introduction The term 'intuition' has a variety of meanings but in this essay I wish to discuss that sense of 'intuition' in which Intuitions present themselves as judgments that are coloured by a particular feeling. This feeling (say of certainty or doubt) characterizes our epistemic attitude towards the judgment. We do not normally call such a feeling an emotion but the information which it contains can be conveyed in the same way as emotional information, that is, it "may be conveyed directly in speech or it may be superimposed in the tone by which other information is conveyed by speech."ii Note that this sense of 'intuition' has nothing whatever to do with Kant's use of this term. Kant uses the term as follows: "The capacity (receptivity) for receiving impressions through the mode in which we are affected by objects is entitled sensibility. Objects are given to us by means of sensibility, and it alone yields us intuitions; they are thought through the understanding and from the understanding arise concepts." iii We often refer to these judgements (marked by a feeling of certainty or doubt) as intuitions because we are intuitively or directly aware of the feelingiv, which is the source of our knowledge of our epistemic attitude towards them. For example, when someone asks my opinion about the death penalty they will frequently say: "How do you feel about the death penalty as a deterrent?" If they instead asked: "What are your intuitions about the death penalty as a deterrent?" this would capture the sense of intuition that I will be discussing in this paper. Intuitions play a special role in arguments. The conclusion of a valid argument follows deductively from its premises and our confidence with regard to the truth of the conclusion of any argument we put forward is a function of our intuitions about its premises. Thus when you and I propose arguments whose conclusions are at odds with each other (and our arguments are valid) the ensuing discussion will turn into an attempt to alter each other's intuitions with respect to the relevant premises. I have discussed elsewherev how such arguments (often called 'intuition pumps'vi) frequently employ thought experiments but two other basic questions remain: 1) How are our intuitions generated? 2) Why do they play such an essential part in our thinking? The answer to the first of these questions can be found in an unlikely place, that passage in Kant's Critique of Judgment that introduces the idea of a 'common sense' (section 21vii), a sense which informs us of what kind of epistemic status a given judgement has for us, i.e., this sense informs us of whether we feel certain or doubtful about the judgment in question. This 'common sense' manifests itself in terms of a feeling (an epistemic attitude) with a variety of modalities (doubt, wonder, certainty, etc.). The fact that we are capable of registering such feelings constitutes "the subjective condition of the act of knowing [without which] knowledge, as an effect, would not arise." (Sec 21, see note 6) Thus, according to Kant, unless our judgments were accompanied by feelings (e.g., a feeling of doubt), we would not know what our epistemic attitudes towards them were. Kant suggests that the particular modality of the feeling is a function of the interaction between our cognitive powersviii-the sensibility, the imagination and the understanding. These three faculties cooperate in various proportions to produce the judgments that we make and this variation is reflected in the feelings of doubt, certainty, etc., that we experience in relation to these judgements. We all possess this fundamental cognitive machinery and our experiences of the feelings of doubt, certainty, wonder, etc., which indicate the epistemic modality of our judgements are exactly the same in all of us. It is because of this that Kant calls this common sense a 'sensus communis' a sense that we share and argues that the existence of such a sense is a condition of the possibility of communicating the attitude we have towards the judgements we make (and, a fortiori, of communicating the epistemic status of these judgements) to others. Kant's view is that every each kind of epistemic attitude or 'attendant conviction' is a direct function of the relative contribution which each of these cognitive powers makes to the judgment. ("But this disposition of the cognitive powers has a relative proportion differing with the diversity of the Objects that are given" Sec 21). For example, suppose I see someone wearing a hat which is similar to one which my daughter owns but that I am unable to see anything of this person apart from the hat (This is the contribution made by sensibilityix). Yet the recognition of the familiar hat is enough to stimulate my imagination which, in its turn, puts forward the hypothesis that the wearer is my daughter. At this point my understanding says (in effect): "I will need more than this one bit of evidence to confidently apply the 'daughter' concept to the hatted person." Thus the judgment that emerges has the epistemic status expressed by my saying (as a kind of summary expression of the result of the cognitive interactions between the three faculties): "I wonder if that is Lizz over there?" (Our epistemic attitude towards this proposition is-according to Kant-evident to us though the modality of the 'attendant conviction': viz., the feeling of wondering which we experience in such a situation). Suppose I alter the input of sensibility: a little more pertinent information-say a quarter profile of the person under the familiar hat-is now added. Then the imagination has more information upon which to firm up the hypothesis that the hatted person is my daughter. Because of this the understanding can recognize a number of important indicators (provided by the quarter profile), which are related to the concept "my daughter" and pronounces accordingly: "I feel pretty sure that is Lizz over there." Finally, Lizz is seen full face: no hypothesizing activity is required from the imagination and the understanding pronounces with the feeling of certainty: "That's Lizz" On the basis of this interpretation of Kant's characterization of this capacity ("But this disposition of the cognitive powers has a relative proportion differing with the diversity of the Objects that are given" Sec 21) we conclude that all our judgments are coloured by some particular degree of conviction. This attendant conviction reflects the degree to which the instance presented by sensibility (in conjunction with our past experience) accords with the relevant concept. Determining the degree of this accord is the task of the imagination. The imagination serves as the "blind but indispensable" intermediaryx, whose task is to suggest possibilities (based on the contribution made by sensibility) that are relevant to the store of concepts contained in the understanding. In effect, the more that the imagination is called upon, the more uncertain is the feeling attached to the subsequent judgment: I did not need to employ my imagination at all when I saw my daughter full face and I thus felt certain that it was Lizz. How Kant came to develop his notion of a 'common sense' Since the passage (Sec 21), which provides Kant's account of how intuitions are generated, is rather obscure it is worth setting it in its context to make it clear that my account of its import is plausible. Kant had his attention drawn to this idea of a 'common sense' (as the means of indicating-through feeling-the epistemic status of the various judgments which are yielded by the interplay of the cognitive faculties) in the course of his attempt to understand the special epistemic status of aesthetic judgments. Aesthetic judgments are special because the predicate involved-'beautiful'-is not a proper concept in the following sense. Kant holds that a concept is essentially a rule, and that the application of a concept involves seeing that an instance falls under a rule. But there is no rule for judging that a thing is beautiful. Nevertheless, we make aesthetic judgments and feel justified in doing so even though we cannot provide a justification in the form of an argument that would demonstrate that the beautiful item is beautiful because it accords with the rule for beautiful things. Why then, do we feel justified when we make such judgements? The clue for Kant lay in the fact that we experience a feeling of being justified in applying this concept. In effect, he recognized that the feeling of delight which is the intuitive basis of our attribution of the concept 'beautiful' to an object, was a feeling of a special order, an epistemic or cognitive feeling and not, for example, a feeling akin to the feeling of gratification, e.g., the feeling we have which reveals to us our attitude towards a taste sensation. Such a feeling of gratification simply delivers information about how the sensation stands with regard to our capacity to feel pain or pleasure. By contrast, according to Kant, the feeling upon which we base our aesthetic judgements is an indicator of the state of interaction of our cognitive faculties and, as such, it must be regarded as a cognitive feeling. In the case of the feeling of beauty, this state of interaction is a rather special state in which the sensibility, the imagination and the understanding are related to each other in a unique way. ("However, there must be one [state of interaction between the three faculties] in which this internal ratio suitable for quickening (one faculty by the other) [i.e., the understanding and the imagination] is best adapted for both mental powers in respect of cognition (of given objects) generally." (Lines 29-32, § 21) What is this unique internal ratio of the mental powers that yields the feeling upon which we base our judgment that an object is beautiful? When we make an aesthetic judgment, the sensibility provides an object that has some internal organization (displays some pattern). The imagination senses this pattern-in its 'blind but indispensable' fashion-but the understanding contains no appropriate concept, no rule under which to recognize this 'blindly sensed' internal organization or pattern. The resulting impasse in the normal interplay of the cognitive faculties (i.e., no judgment is forthcoming about the pattern-which has been sensed blindly by the imagination-since no appropriate concept is available to the understanding) prompts the setting up of an interplay between the faculties, an interplay which (thanks to our 'common sense') we experience as a feeling of delight in the beauty of the object. I would now like to illustrate how the intuitions supplied by our common sense underpin other familiar special senses in addition to our sense of beauty. The moral sense, our sense of justice and our logical sense, (our sense that an argument is, e.g., inconsistent) considered as modalities of 'common sense' Kant talks about our moral sense manifesting itself in the feeling of respect that he maintains is our response to any maxim which passes the test of universalisation. Before he had formulated the doctrine of 'common sense' in the Critique of Judgment (1790) he discusses the occurrence of the feeling of respect in the Critique of Practical Reason, (1788) as if the occurrence of such a feeling were a kind of miracle: "In the boundless esteem for the pure moral law, removed from all advantage, as practical reason presents it to us for obedience, whose voice makes even the boldest sinner tremble and forces him to hide himself from it, there is something so singular that we cannot wonder at finding this influence of a merely intellectual idea on feeling to be inexplicable to speculative reason and have to be satisfied with being able to see a priori that such a feeling is inseparably bound with the idea of the moral law in every finite rational being." 82 {80]. The key phrase here is 'this influence of a merely intellectual idea on feeling'. Now according to the interpretation of the doctrine of a 'common sense' provided above we know that every judgment is accompanied by an 'attendant conviction', a feeling which lets us know our attitude towards the judgment concerned. The feeling of respect, for example, is the feeling that informs us that a principle (which is universalisable) admits of no exceptions. Thus, if we feel respect for a principle, we cannot both acknowledge the universal application of the principle and at the same time act in defiance of it and still regard ourselves as rational. We feel this logical threat of self-contradiction in terms of a feeling of respect for the moral law as it relates to rational beings and it is simply one more instance of the operation of our 'common sense' as the generator of epistemic attitudes 'without which, knowledge as an effect, would not arise.' Thus our moral sense-our sense of respect for the moral law (our feeling that we know that it would be wrong for us to contravene it)-reduces to our logical sense that if we took a certain position (acknowledging the universality of a principle and acting against it), we would feel that our position was inconsistent.xi Let me explain this point further using the example of our sense of justice. A sense of justice allows us to sense-to feel-whether a given kind of behaviour is just or unjust. Thus, if the behaviour in question is sanctioned by the conception of justice that is being considered-but our intuitions/feelings about this behaviour (provided by our sense of justice) are that such behaviour would be unjust-then something has to give. Adjusting our conception of justice to our sense of justice (or vice versa) eventually yields what Rawls called a 'reflective equilibrium'xii. Rawls' assumes that when, at last, our intuitive judgments match the principles that govern our conception of justice (when this equilibrium is reached), then this conception of justice will be, in fact, just-but why? The reason is interesting. The intuitions that are yielded by our 'sense of justice' are derived from the same source as Kant's feeling of respect for the moral law, viz., our moral sense. As we saw, our moral sense (our moral intuition that some principle is right or wrong) stems from applying the test of universalizability to maxims (candidate principles). In effect, our feeling that doing x would be right is the feeling of consistency, namely, that the action under consideration would be in accordance with the principle concerned. Thus, if the moral principle we agree to test is: "Never lie in order to escape difficulties", our feeling that our own lying (when in difficulty) would be wrong, is the feeling that it would be inconsistent to both sanction my own lie while at the same time agreeing with the principle that it flouts. And so too with our sense of justice: our feeling that x is a just law is the feeling of consistency, the feeling that the law in question treats everyone in the same way, e.g., that there is not one law for the rich and one for the poor; that under this law, there are no second-class citizens. Thus both our moral sense and our sense of justice are, at bottom, simply our logical sense.xiii The a priori modality of common sense However there is something special about our sense of justice and our moral sense. They are a priori in origin (we do not have to wait upon experience to show us that lying is wrong or tyranny unjust). As a consequence, our epistemic feeling of certainty (with regard to these judgements) is not empirical in characterxiv (i.e., it admits of no skeptical challenges) but instead rests upon analytic considerations. Thus our feeling of certainty with regard to these issues is absolute and this explains the sense of righteousness that characterizes our feelings in these two domains. It is worth noting that in the case of our sense of justice and our moral sense, the normal functioning of 'common sense' that involves, as we have seen, an interplay between sensibility, imagination and understanding is short-circuited. Sensibility plays no role. Thus, before we can test our intuitions with respect to the moral status of a given piece of behaviour, we have to assume that it is, for example, a case of lying. (Thus we often deliberately cut out the empirical question by saying: "If this were, indeed, a case of lying then it would be morally wrong to have behaved in this way.") With sensibility cut out of the loop, the role of the imagination is also eliminated: there is no need to hypothesize on the basis of sensible evidence that the instance in question is an instance of type x: hence our intuitions in such cases are simply based on logical considerations: "X is a case of lying. Lying is wrong (It fails the universalisability test). Hence, x is wrong." This suggests a related point. Once we understand how intuitions are generated we can appreciate the difference between skeptical challenges based on a challenge to the adequacy of the empirical data given in evidence (e.g., problems associated with eyewitness accounts) and skeptical challenges based on imaginary empirical evidence, i.e., based on logical possibilities (e.g., "you say you saw John yesterday but if the world only came into existence five minutes ago . . ."). There is a clear difference between the first case where the feeling of doubt is a genuine modality of 'common sense' based on the inadequacy of the empirical data we have experienced ("I caught only a fleeting glimpse of the suspect.") and the feeling of doubt generated by entertaining a doubt where I invent-as opposed to experience-the 'data' upon which my intuition is to be based ("Suppose that five minutes ago the world came into existence"). Since, in the latter case, there is no actual input from experience, I experience no actual doubt. I certainly experience logical doubt, but it casts no shadow on my behaviour. Thus, in a court of law, 'reasonable doubt' can only be generated through an empirical challenge to the adequacy of the evidence. No lawyer who offered purely logical possibilities to a jury as a means of generating doubts about the prosecution's evidence would be taken seriously.xv 'Common sense' and the justified true belief account of knowledge The 'common sense' account of 'how knowledge, as an effect' arises, provides a gloss on the well-known 'justified true belief' account of knowledge which is related to this issue of possible doubts. This account, according to Alan Musgrave, involves two ways of understanding the term 'belief': I must, to know something, believe it in the sense of being aware that I am not lying about the thing I profess to know: in other words I must genuinelyxvi believe it. Here the 'common sense' account can help because it can answer the question concerning how you know that your belief in x is genuine, i.e., that you are not lying. You know this in the same way as you know the epistemic modality associated with any given judgment, namely, via a 'common sense' feeling. Thus you know that you genuinely or actually believe x because 'common sense' delivers a particular feeling in association with the judgment in question, in this case, a feeling based on the relationship between the evidence supplied by your experience and the hypothesis it suggests. For example: John is smoking a cigar at my elbow. My lungs are feeling irritated. I form a hypothesis (supplied by the imagination): perhaps it is the cigar smoke that is causing the irritation. I make a judgment: I believe (note how naturally we could say feel here instead of believe) that the one is causing the other. When I say that I believe or feel this, I am reporting a fact about myself and given that the feeling is an intuition (I am immediately aware of how I feel), the feeling is naturally regarded as a genuine indication of my epistemic attitude. By the same token, you know you are lying when you say something which is at odds with the feeling associated with your judgment: "Oh, please feel free, the smoke doesn't bother me at all." The second way of interpreting belief mentioned by Musgrave turns on the idea that I could believe something and yet not know it in the sense of 'know' that involves certainty. Musgrave maintains that the epistemic position taken by ordinary common sense (or Fallibilism or Critical Realism) would insist that despite any logical caveat based on a logical possibility (you cannot know anything for certain unless all the evidence has been taken into consideration and 'all' means all, and hence it can't be done), nevertheless, you have a right to believe that you know it if this belief is reasonable, i.e., has withstood serious criticismxvii. Now the 'common sense' gloss on this is that your feeling that you have a right to believe the proposition in question is based on the fact that your judgment has just the sort of epistemic modality that is appropriate to the level of evidence normally available through the senses. Where this level of evidence is provided (via the process of serious criticism), your imagination has little to do with the process of judging that x is y. (Thus, for example, you have no sense that your judgment rests on evidence which has been supplied by using your imagination to extrapolate a likely story from the actual empirical evidence supplied by sensibility.) As a consequence, you feel that your judgment is justified as far as it reasonably can be and that you therefore know (and can feel justified in believing) that the proposition in question is true. Perhaps, given this gloss, we can regard the controversy between radical skeptics and fallibilists as resting on a confusion on the part of the skeptic between the kind of knowing which characterizes empirical as opposed to analytic truths, viz., a confusion based on the similarity between the feeling of logical certainty and the feeling of empirical certainty. Thus, with certain empirical judgments (e.g., the judgment that John has red hair) we may feel that seeing is believing (I feel sure that I am seeing the hair in question and that it is red and thus how can I help believing it) but this feeling of (almost) logical certainty must, nevertheless, be tempered by past experience: hair that looks red at time t1 can look auburn or brown at t2. People make mistakes. So I can never be absolutely sure that my empirical judgment is true. Nevertheless, the fallibilist would insist that, in such cases where she is directly confronting the evidence, she cannot feel any genuine doubt, only a logical doubt. She insists that there is a difference between the two (the difference being that the logical doubt will not alter her behaviour) and that this difference is overlooked by the radical sceptic who wants to insist that doubts generated by the consideration of logical possibilities cannot be distinguished from empirical doubts. Clearly the radical sceptic is mistaken here. Concluding remarks Let us now return to the original questions with which we began. How are our intuitions generated? Why do they play such an essential part in our thinking? The answer to the first question is that an intuition (a judgment combined with our epistemic attitude towards it) is a cognitive judgment accompanied by an attendant conviction-an epistemic indicator-that is a sign of the degree of 'fit' between the concept and the instance subsumed under it. We know this degree of fit intuitively because we experience it directly in terms of a feeling (our sense of doubt, certainty, wonder, etc.) that characterizes our epistemic attitude toward the judgment in question. This feeling reflects the relative contribution of the three cognitive faculties to the judgement in question. The second question remains: 'Why do intuitions play such an essential part in our thinking?' Philosophers have always been aware-implicitly at least-of the vital role intuitions play in arguments.xviii This implicit awareness of the importance of intuitions was and is expressed in terms of the attention paid to the epistemic status of premises of any given argument. What this extrapolation of Kant's ideas concerning the sensus communis has done is to take the matter a step further and show us the origins of our intuitions. How can we use this new understanding of the origins of intuitions? In the first place we must recognize that intuitions often serve as the premises for our arguments and that we gauge the strength of our arguments on the basis of the attendant convictions that accompany their premises. Furthermore, we should realize that we naturally regard their epistemic modalities-certain, probable, possible, etc., whatever they are-as reliable indicators of their epistemic status because the judgments that constitute our intuitions are produced through processes over which we have no conscious control. Thus the feelings that inform us of the modality of these judgments do not feel subjective in any arbitrary sense. Our intuitions thus feel like our honest opinions and so they should since they faithfully reflect the relationship between the store of available concepts we have accumulated (in our understanding) and our experience of applying these concepts in daily life. Because each person's store of concepts and experiences is unique, our intuitions are also unique and thus the likelihood of our being in complete agreement with others when we compare intuitions is nil. This explains why many conversations evolve into arguments in which the participants seek to augment each other's store of concepts (or the experience of their application) in order to settle the argument. When we succeed, we agree, when we fail, we agree to differ-to recognize (at some level) that we have come to the point at which we are simply 'trading intuitions' (as a consequence of the simple fact that we have led different lives and thus have a (slightly) different sets of concepts and (quite) different life experiences.) In the light of these considerations, the closer our store of concepts and our experience is matched to those of others, the more likely we are to find ourselves in agreement with each other when we consult our intuitions. This explains why prejudices are always associated with groups as opposed to individuals. I might find myself arguing with Alec over the status of monarchy but I do not regard him as prejudiced until I find out he is a member of the upper classes and that this explains why his store of concepts and his experience yield the intuitions on the subject typical of his class. This is why the general moral situation with regard to prejudice is so interesting: I can hardly blame a person for having the store of concepts and experiences that he has which, in turn, yield his objectionable intuitions (prejudices). But, if he is to become less prejudiced (a good thing), he will need to increase his store of concepts in order to overcome his prejudice (i.e., find himself with a different intuition concerning the monarchy). He may-perversely-insist on my engaging in a similar process. This involves us both in an ongoing attempt to achieve a cosmopolitan store of concepts (and experience) that will produce an ever-widening set of agreements when we cosmopolitans consult our intuitions. The important general lesson we learn when we understand what intuitions are is that they are the effects of cognitive processes and that, as such, they can be altered through discussion. They are not oracles but simply the built-in indicators of the present epistemic modality of any given judgment that we may be called upon to make. Understanding the status and origin or our intuitions is useful for philosophers insofar as it gives them an explicit understanding of why it is worth their while to teach their students to seek out the premises of every argument and assess them. Although a commentator like J.R. Saul may be right when he observes that "[t] he West has now built up layer upon layer of assumptions which cannot be addressed in any intelligent manner"xix, nevertheless, we must address them-a layer at a time-to get some sense of where our bedrock is located. This is how we mitigate the unhappy fact that every argument begs the question by assuming the truth of its premises. Finally, Gillett's remark in the motto of this paper reflects a Wittgensteinian attitude towards knowledge as a dispositional state without any phenomenological features. But, as we have seen, our epistemic feelings 'without which knowledge, as an effect, would not arise' are a phenomenological and thus introspectible aspect of knowing and have, until now, simply been 'transparent' to us. But if Kant is right it should be clear that knowing (whether ethical, logical, empirical, aesthetic, etc.) cannot be divorced from those 'subjective inward criteria', the various modalities of our 'common sense'. Bibliography Dennett, D.C., Consciousness Explained, Allen Lane, London, 1992 Kant I., Critique of Judgment, Trans J. Meredith, Oxford University Press, Oxford, l952 Critique of Pure Reason, Trans. Kemp Smith, MacMillan and Co, New York, 1961 Critique of Practical Reason, trans. Lewis White Beck, Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis, 1956 Levine, Joseph 'Recent work on consciousness' American Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 34, l997 Musgrave, A.E Common Sense, Science and Skepticism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1993 Rawls, J. A Theory of Justice, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1971 Springe, S.P. and Deutsch, G., Left Brain Right Brain, W.H. Freeman, New York, 1984 Saul J.R., Voltaire's Bastards, Penguin Books, Toronto, 1992 Ward D. E. 'Imaginary Scenarios, Black Boxes and Philosophical Method', Erkenntnis, 43, 1995 Wittgenstein, L. Philosophical Investigations, Trans. G.E.M. Anscombe, Blackwells, Oxford. Notes i Philosophical Investigations, Vol. 13 no. 4 1990, p 306 ii S.P. Springer and G. Deutsch, Left Brain, Right Brain, W.H. Freeman, New York, 1984, p172. iii Critique of Pure Reason, A19, Translation by Norman Kemp Smith, Macmillan, London, 1933 iv A feeling that Kant refers to as "an attendant conviction". See Critique of Judgement, Section 21. v I omit this reference for blind refereeing purposes. viDennett, D.C.: 1992, Consciousness Explained, Allen Lane, London1992, p. 398. vii I reproduce Section 21 here for the convenience of the reader: Have we reason for presupposing a common sense? "Cognitions and judgements, together with their attendant conviction, admit of being universally communicated; for otherwise a correspondence with the Object would not be due to them. They would be a conglomerate constituting a mere subjective play of the powers of representation, just as skepticism would have it. But if cognitions are to admit of communication, then our mental state, i.e., the way the cognitive powers are attuned for cognition generally, and in fact, the relative proportion suitable for a representation (by which an object is given to us) from which cognition is to result, must also admit of being universally communicated, as without this, which is the subjective condition of the act of knowing, knowledge, as an effect, would not arise. And this is always what actually happens, where a given object, through the intervention of sense, sets the imagination at work in arranging the manifold and the imagination, in turn, the understanding in giving to this arrangement the unity of concepts. But this disposition of the cognitive powers has a relative proportion differing with the diversity of the Objects that are given. However, there must be one in which this internal ratio suitable for quickening (one faculty by the other) is best adapted for both mental powers in respect of cognition (of given objects) generally; and this disposition can only be determined through feeling (and not by concepts). Since now this disposition in itself must admit of being universally communicated, and hence also the feeling of it (in the case of a given representation), while again, the universal communicability of a feeling presupposes a common sense: it follows that our assumption of it is well founded. And here, too, we do not have to take our stand on psychological observations, but we assume a common sense as the necessary condition of the universal communicability of our knowledge, which is supposed in every logic and every principle of knowledge that is not one of skepticism." The Critique of Judgement, translation by J. C. Meredith, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1928, p 83-4. 7 Throughout this discussion the cognitive powers are considered insofar as they are involved in empirical judgments. The transcendental application of these faculties-responsible for synthesizing objects of representation-is not involved. ixThe understanding also plays a role here insofar as I recognize the hat to be similar to my daughter's but the fact (based on the contribution made by my sensibility) that I cannot see the hatted person's face becomes significant due to the fact that the imagination intervenes at this point and prevents the understanding from naively concluding: ' same hat, same person'. As we shall see, for Kant, the imagination has the role of canvassing possibilities (hypothesizing) and raising doubts. x Critique of Pure Reason, B 103. The role of the imagination in Kant's philosophy emerges most clearly in his section on the Schematism. A schema is a product of the imagination and is meant to explain how we can make a judgment, i.e., how we can bring a particular instance under a concept or rule. The problem with respect to such subsumptions is simply that the instance is never an exact instance of the general rule under which it falls. In Kant's words: " the images... are never completely congruent with the concept" (Critique of Pure Reason, A 142, B 181). So the task of the imagination is, so to speak, to work up a schema-a sort of vague template-which will serve either (a) to order appearances (play around with them imaginatively as we say) so that they can reveal some sort of pattern to which a concept present in the understanding may apply or (b) to form a general picture from a concept we possess which can then be used to identify an instance of that concept provided by our experience. As Kant puts it: "The concept 'dog' signifies a rule according to which my imagination can delineate the figure of a four-footed animal in a general manner, without limitation to any single determinate figure such as a experience . . . actually presents." B 180. In other words, the imagination may be thought of as that faculty which either forms hypotheses about instances ("That might be a dog") or creates patterns that can be used to identify instances ("Look for one of these dog-like things"). It is thus either a tool for interpreting experience or of investigating it and in either case it is a tool used in the service of the understanding. xiCf. Critique of Practical Reason pp. 75-6 xii "There is, however, another side to justifying a particular description of the original position. This is to see if the principles, which would be chosen, match our considered convictions of justice or extend them in an acceptable way. We can note whether applying these principles would lead us to make the same judgments about the basic structure which we now make intuitively and in which we have the greatest confidence, or whether, in cases where our present judgements are in doubt and given with hesitation, these principle offer a resolution which we can affirm on reflection" A Theory of Justice, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1971, p. 19. My italics (Note that the passages I have italicized have to do with the epistemic feelings that attach to the intuitive judgments we make.) xiiiKant specifically identifies our sense of justice, etc., as a modality of our sensus communis a sense related to our higher cognitive faculties) in the following passage (section 40 of the Critique of Judgement): The name of sense is often given to judgments where what attracts attention is not so much the reflective act as merely its result. So we speak of a sense of truth, a sense of propriety or of justice, etc. And yet, of course, we know, or at least ought well enough to know, that a sense cannot be the true abode of these concepts, not to speak of its being competent, even in the slightest degree, to pronounce universal rules. On the contrary, we recognize that a representation of this kind, be it of truth, propriety, beauty, or justice, could never enter our thoughts were we not able to raise ourselves above the level of the senses to that of the higher faculties of cognition (p.150-1). He then points out that the feelings associated with, say, the sense of justice or beauty, are not private and personal but public feelings in the sense that we have absolutely no doubt at all that everyone feels, e.g., doubt, or that something is not fair, in exactly the same way. He explains this view as follows; " . . . by the name sensus communis is to be understood the idea of a public sense, i.e., a critical faculty which in its reflective act takes account (a priori) of the mode of representation of everyone else, in order, as it were, to weigh its judgments with the collective reason of mankind, and thereby avoid the illusion arising from subjective and personal conditions which could readily be taken for objective, an illusion that would exert a prejudicial influence upon its judgement. This is accomplished by weighing the judgment, not so much with actual, as rather with merely possible judgements of others, and by putting ourselves in the position of every one else, as the result of a mere abstraction from the limitations which contingently affect our own estimate. This, in turn, is effected by so far as possible letting go the element of matter, i.e., sensation, in our general state of representative activity, and confining attention to the formal peculiarities of our representation or general state of representative activity." (p.151) In other words, the feeling that constitutes the manifestation of this public sense, this sensus communis, is a reflection of the disposition of our cognitive faculties, i.e., the ratio that holds between them. Thus the feeling of doubt is a function of a ratio in which the data delivered by sensibility allows the imagination to create a wide number of hypotheses and the understanding to be, therefore, uncertain as to which of these is the most likely to be true. xiv "It [the moral law] is an object of the greatest respect and thus the ground of a positive feeling which is not of empirical origin. This feeling, then, is one, which can be known a priori. Respect for the moral law, therefore is a feeling produced by an intellectual cause, and this feeling is the only one which we can know completely a priori and the necessity of which we can discern." Critique of Practical Reason p. 76. Again, this intuition concerning the intellectual origins of the feeling of respect is properly articulated in the Critique of Judgment in terms of the feelings, which manifest the operation of our sensus communis. (See note 13.) xv Except in America, where at the Simpson trial the defense floated what were, for all intents and purposes, the logical possibility of Mafia killers and a police conspiracy (with reference to the blood found at various places) to try to raise doubts concerning the prosecution's evidence. They then managed to convince the jury that doubts generated by considering logical possibilities were the same as reasonable doubts. The fact that the jury did not convict in this case and the general amazement, which greeted its verdict, has its source, I suspect, in our collective inability to believe that any jury could have failed to feel the difference between doubts raised by logical possibilities and doubts raised by the possibilities generated through challenges to the empirical evidence. xvi A.E. Musgrave, Common Sense, Science and Scepticism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1993, p.2. xviiIbid, p. 284 xviii In current times this awareness of the role of intuitions as premises has become increasingly explicit. A nice example of this is Joseph Levines' 'Recent work on consciousness' American Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 34, l997, in which he carefully characterizes all the intuitions which divide the contending schools of thought. xix "The standard analysis of a troubled society concentrates on its aging structures. Language, however, can be more important than those tangible forms. As time goes by, it is the established patterns of thought, the known argument, the self-perpetuating truths which become the principle defenders of the structures in place. The older and more stable a society, the deeper down in our subconscious stretches the substructure of givens. These are the essential questions which are silently assumed to have been answered before a conversation begins or a word is written. The West has now built up layer upon layer of assumptions which cannot be addressed in any intelligent manner. The active vocabulary needed to question, even to simply discuss them, has withered away." John Ralston Saul, Voltaire's Bastards, Penguin Books, Toronto, 1992, p. 575. 17