Ἡ σοφία ἄρα πανταχοῦ εὐτυχεῖν ποιεῖ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους. οὐ γὰρ δήπου ἁμαρτάνοι γ᾽ ἄν τοτέ τις σοφία, ἀλλ᾽ ἀνάγκη ὀρθῶς πράττειν καὶ τυγχάνειν· ἦ γὰρ ἂν οὐκέτι σοφία εἴη.
Wisdom therefore everywhere causes men good fortune: For doubtless wisdom never errs, but necessarily acts rightly and successfully; for otherwise it would no longer be wisdom.
Socrates, "Euthydemus," 260a, by Plato, Laches, Protagoras, Meno, Euthydemus, translated by W.R.M. Lamb, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 1924, 1962, p.408-409, translation modified.
Οὐκοῦν ἐπισκοπῶμεν αὖ τοῦτο, ὦ Εὐθυφρον, εἰ καλῶς λέγεται, ἢ ἐῶμεν καὶ οὕτω ἡμῶν τε αὐτῶν ἀποδεχώμεθα καὶ τῶν ἄλλων, ἐὰν μόνον φῇ τίς τι ἔχειν οὕτω, ξυγχωροῦντες ἔχειν; ἢ σκεπτέον, τί λέγει ὁ λέγων;
Then let us again examine that, Euthyphro, if it is a sound statement [εἰ καλῶς λέγεται -- if said well, καλῶς], or do we let it pass, and if one of us, or someone else, merely says that something is so, do we accept that it is so? Or should we examine [ἢ σκεπτέον] what the speaker means [τί λέγει ὁ λέγων -- what the speaker says]?
Socrates, "Euthyphro," 9e, by Plato, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus, translated by Harold North Fowler, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 1914, p.34; English, Five Dialogues, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo, by Plato, translated by G.M.A. Grube, Hackett Publishing, 1981, p.21, notes added.
What follows is a facsimile of the article "The Significance of Behaviour Study for the Critique of Reason," by Grete Henry (1901-1984), from the December 1973 issue of Ratio, whose cover is shown at right.
"Henry," or Henry-Hermann, as we see on the masthead of Ratio, was her name after she married Edward Henry while in exile in Britain in 1938. As it happened, this enabled her to avoid being interned as an "enemy alien" during World War II. Today, however, she is more generally known by her maiden name, just Grete Hermann, which I will now use in this preface. I don't know why she used "Henry" alone for this article; but in my comments on the essay, I will use that name, as given by the author.
As "Grete Hermann," she has come for increased notice as a doctoral student of Emmy Noether, from whom she gained her Ph.D. in mathematics in 1926, and for her own original contributions to quantum mechanics. We have two connections to Leonard Nelson in this, since Noether's mentor, David Hilbert, played a similar role for Nelson, and then Hermann becomes one of Nelson's principal associates.
Hermann has gained great notoriety recently as it has been realized that she had discovered errors in John von Neumann's 1932 mathematical systematization of quantum mechanics, which was long regarded as definitive and irrefutable. This was in "Die naturphilosophischen Grundlagen der Quantenmechanik," published in the journal Die Naturwissenschaften, October 1935. Hermann's critique went unnoticed until rediscovered and vindicated by John Bell in 1966. Thus, Hermann has probably achieved a permanent position in the history of physics, like Emmy Noether herself, who proved that mathematical symmetries imply conserved quantities.
Hermann was the principal editor of Leonard Nelson's Gesammelte Schriften and thus was one of the most important people responsible for the perpetuation of Nelson's memory and work. This period of the Ratio article, in the 1970's, saw the completion of the great project of publishing the Schriften and the beginning of an effort to promote Nelson's work, at first with a Prize Essay competition.
This article represents Hermann's mature thought about Nelson's epistemology. Unfortunately, it is also the expression of a fundamental break with the principles of Kant-Friesian epistemology. We find her, on pages 208 and 209, rejecting the very idea of immediate knowledge, whose loss takes with it the unique Friesian doctrine of non-intuitive immediate knowledge and the whole epistemological tradition that began with Kant.
The result is to reduce Friesian epistemology to psychologism, whereby the forms of knowledge, far from representing the objective character of the world, merely reflect the structure of the human mind. This is precisely what Jakob Fries had always been accused of, even by Karl Popper, who otherwise spoke well of Fries -- and whose influence on Nelson's students after the War cannot be underestimated.
A genuine psychologism, of course, as we will see actually advocated by Grete Hermann, cannot stand alone. It must presuppose the external world in which the "human mind" exists. The presupposition, as such, may be naively assumed and unremarked. If it turns out to be no more than materialism and naturalism, I don't think we should be surprised. If we never hear about the metaphysical commitment of someone like Grete Hermann, materialistic or otherwise, it may indicate either a failure to understand metaphysical issues or actual bad faith -- that she does not want to frankly admit to something like materialism.
Nelson had spent his whole life refuting the charge of "psychologism" against Fries; and he pursued an attack on any kind of psychologism, especially as the accusation had been promoted by the "Neo-Kantians," like Herman Cohen (1842-1918) and Wilhelm Windelband (1848-1915). Hermann, of course, was doing no more than repeating what had become conventional wisdom in academic philosophy by 1973, the "valley of bones" of Analytic Philosophy, that there was no such thing as "immediate knowledge."
Perhaps Hermann also shared in the disparagment and rejection of actual metaphysics by philosophers like Wittgenstein and the Logical Positivists, with their Analytic successors. An Analytic Kant commentator like Thomas Dewar "T.D." Weldon (1896-1958) actually defined "metaphysics" as no more than the metalanguage of physics, and claimed that this is what Kant was doing [Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Oxford, 1945, 1958, 1964]. This absurdly imposed a nihilistic Scientism on Kant, which means that Weldon did not understand the first thing about his philosophy. After reading Grete Hermann's essay, we may harbor suspicions that her sympathies were not so different from Weldon's.
How it is that this all would serve to recommend Nelson's work to contemporary philosophers, or anyone, is something that I have never understood, and I said as much in my own contribution to the Prize Essay contest. My essay did not win, but in 1975 it did lead to a brief correspondence with Hermann and Gustav Heckmann (1898-1996), who, more than anything, simply seemed astonished that anyone would actually still believe this stuff -- i.e. Friesian theories about immediate knowledge. I find this inexpressibly sad.
I had an exchange with Sir Karl himself about it at late as 1992, who, frankly, seemed more interested in my work than any of the continuing Nelson people in Germany have been. The very title of this website, The Proceedings of the Friesian School, stands as a challenge to them; and they have ignored it -- as indeed academic philosophers, analytic, linguistic, etc., have ignored this site, despite its presence on the Internet since 1996.
As it happened, the effort to recommend Nelson to contemporary philosophers, not surprisingly, failed. It is not clear why academic philosophers should ever have cared about Nelson, as he was presented here. Making sure that Nelson was no longer a "philosophical heretic of the twentieth century," as Julius Kraft characterized him, simply rendered him meaningless and any interest in him pointless. By the late 1980's the English editions of his books were out of print, and the series of Ratio, published by Basil Blackwell, with a Nelsonian connection was brought to an end -- my own contribution, on non-intuitive immediate knowledge, linked above, was in the last edition. There is no point in promoting Nelson unless he was right about that, and he was.
To readers unfamiliar with the argument elsewhere at this site, "immediate knowledge" is not to be found by examining one's thoughts, impressions, reflections, convictions, or feelings. In a Kantian theory, intuitive "immediate knowledge" consists of the real empirical objects with which we are directly acquainted in perception. Since these are phenomenal objects, they are also mental contents, which is why they are knowledge, but they are not "subjective" or psychological in some Cartesian or Berkeleyan sense. Thus, "immediate knowledge" is the ground of propositional assertions, but it is not their expression, which is in "mediate knowledge" (a term Henry doesn't use, although Popper does), through concepts and language.
This is a paradoxical doctrine, often misunderstood, with loose ends left by Kant, Fries, and Nelson; but it is fundamentally correct and the proper solution to the Cartesian Problem of Knowledge. Of historical philosophers, Schopenhauer comes about the closest to getting the right metaphysics, which he clearly acknowledged had come from Kant. Indeed, on this point Schopenhauer may be clearer than Fries or Nelson: Die Welt ist meine Vorstellung, "The world is my representation."
I owe it to Grete Hermann, however, as someone whose practical contribution to Nelson's cause is all but incalculable, to allow her her own say in this matter, as follows. It is heartening that Hermann now receives more of the proper credit for her contributions to mathematics and physics, but the evidence and influence of the following article represent a disservice to the history of the Friesian School. Ironically, Nelson himself wrote about how a philospher's students can misunderstand and misrepresent their teacher.
For many years I let Hermann's essay speak for itself. Now, however, I have added a commentary, describing how one error grows into the next. It is a melancholy business. If this essay was intended as part of a project to promote Leonard Nelson and Friesian philosophy, few things have been so pointlessly and hopelessly misconceived. Henry offers us a kind of warmed-over Empiricism, which is alien to all of Kantian philosophy but also seemingly insensible to the philosophical problems, posed by Hume, to which Kant was reacting in the first place. Hume doesn't get mentioned here. Indeed, of those influenced by Friesian philosophy, F.A. Hayek is the most acutely aware and appreciative of Hume; yet socialist Nelsonians will not like Hayek.
Also, it is an Empiricism where Hermann wants to turn the whole project over to "empirical science," specifically "behaviour study" and some kind of Anthropology, which cancels any meaning or role for philosophy itself -- not to mention that Behaviorism and Anthropology have not shown themselves to make anything like the contributions to knowledge, let alone human "self-understanding" (as Hermann puts it), that Hermann seemed to expect from them.
Hermann's empiricism and scientism mean that she has fallen far from the true faith. Julius Kraft had said, "Nelson's fundamental heresy was his conviction that there is one, and only one, philosophical truth, and that it is attainable by thinking." A "behavior study" in some kind of empirical psychology or anthropology is not going to be conducted just "by thinking." Kraft and Hermann do not seem to be seeing the same kind of philosophy. Many philosophers, like Wittgenstein, have decided that philosophy as such was not worth doing. Perhaps Grete Hermann did not notice that this is what she has done, which may tell us all that we need to know about the business.
At the same time, there is something very strange about this. Hermann had no credentials in psychology or anthropology. All her training and her principal personal achievement was in mathematics. Mathematicians are not, typically, interested in human "self-recognition" and "self-understanding." They float off into an entirely abstract reality, something that currently seems to be detaching physics itself from physical and experimental science. Nelson knew that mathematicians tend to be attracted towards Platonism; but we do not see Plato, frequently mentioned by Nelson, anywhere here in Hermann's essay about "behaviour study."
Since there is nothing Socratic, Platonic, Kantian, or mathematical about "behaviour study," we might wonder where this all came from. Certain not from Julius Kraft. Perhaps in part from Karl Popper, whose grasp of Friesian philosophy was, at least, somewhat deficient. But Popper's principle of falsification can as easily be applied to Socratic discourse as to science -- something, however, that Nelson had not done, and I don't think Popper did either. So if we want to advance Friesian philosophy, there is a clue -- a clue and program entirely missing from the treatment below by Grete Hermann, whose own construction is to totally discredit Kantian and Friesian philosophy. I am forced to say: No wonder it went nowhere.
On the first page of Henry's article, we see some of its problems. The phrase "infallible insights" immediately betrays a misunderstanding of Friesian doctrine. There are no "infallible insights" in Friesian epistemology. Indeed, the very meaning of "non-intuitive" (nicht-anschaulich) in Friesian epistemology precludes the idea of immediate "infallible insights" for metaphysics or ethics, already contradicting the common (but fallacious) definition of "knowledge" as "justified true belief," since non-intuitive immediate knowledge lacks the presence of "belief."
This "infallible insights" is the Original Sin of Henry's analysis, and nothing but confusion follows from it, especially when Henry notices that Fries and Nelson contradict what she says -- as when she refers to Friesian "originally dark ideas of reason," but cannot use the actual Friesian terminology for it. We should be suspicious about such neglect. And "dark" and "infallible" do not even sound consistent -- something "dark" will require some kind of treatment to be brought to full consciousness and clarity, a process that excludes immediacy and introduces the possibility of error, precluding infalliblity. Henry is not presenting Friesian epistemology with completeness, honesty, or perspicacity.
The possible expression of "insights," which are beliefs, in language and propositions (what Henry herself calls "linguistic-conceptual thinking") is no longer immediate knowledge, but only "mediate" knowledge, i.e. mediated by language and concepts. This always involves conventional distinctions -- chacun à son goût -- and is fallible and corrigible. An appreciation of this principle destroys some of the traditional critiques of theories of "immediate knowledge," including Karl Popper's own critique of Fries, with which Henry was certainly familiar.
Kant had explained "understanding" in terms of "judgments." It is not important for much of the following discussion, but propositional judgments are themselves based on an implicit understanding that is not necessarily expressed, initially, in language. This is explained and discussed in my doctoral dissertation. I mention this only because it is a basic confusion in Kantian philosophy, which doesn't help in the further development of epistemology. Fries and Nelson, much less Grete Henry, do not seem to have clarified the matter.
As it happens, an act of simple understanding could actually be called an "immediate insight," with the canonical example found with Archimedes, Ἀρχιμήδης, of Syracuse (287-212), who, on realizing that a body, of any shape, will displace its volume in water, is supposed to have exclaimed, Εὕρηκα, "I have found it." But was this, however powerful its subjective certainty, an "infallible insight"? Certainly not. The proof of such insights of understanding is in the explanation. We discover that many students who feel that they have "gotten it," soon expose their error when an explanation is requested, as on the test. Thus, the "immediate insight" is an artifact of something that is not really immediate at all, but an expression of fallible and corrigible mediate knowledge. Understanding, nevertheless, as with Archimedes, is something that can occur spontaneously and instantaneously. Hence the Archimedean paradigm.
Non-intuitive immediate knowledge is of something that, as such, we are not immediately aware. Thus, it cannot simply be unpacked with an explanation, like an Archimedean insight (a process that may, in turn, pose its own challenges, as "putting it into words" isn't always that easy). But this is how it is the equivalent of Plato's theory of Recollection, where the presence of such knowledge is revealed by its unconscious and insensible use, and absence of "belief," just like the use of the grammatical rules of natural languages, which competent speakers employ easily but cannot explain independently, without much study or education. In fact, as Socrates discovered, people may utter absurd falsehoods about what they have manifestly done or said. Not all of them are even politicians.
Henry has some sense of the meaning of this because she refers to "originally dark ideas of reason that can be consciously comprehended only through reflection in judgment." But then she keeps referring to these "dark ideas" as somehow at the same time "immediate insights." So she knows, more or less, what the mechanism is; but she does not seem to have understood the form that the "dark ideas" take. Like Karl Popper, Henry is in command of all the bits and pieces of Friesian epistemology; but it is as though they found them scattered on the beach and cannot say how they really fit together.
And perhaps the terminology is the clue, since "dark" is a vague and not clearly defined term -- for some reason, Henry doesn't use Nelson's own terms, namely nicht-anschauliche unmitterbare Erkenntnis. Perhaps the "dark ideas" nevertheless dimly exist as "immediate insights," which then, at some point, become less dim, and then certain and self-evident. But expressions of non-intuitive immediate knowledge (never merely "dark" or "dim"), with language and concepts, will never be certain and self-evident.
Saying that there are "dark ideas" implies that they are obscure, but not that they are unconscious. But non-intuitive knowledge is indeed initially unconscious, and there is trouble if that is not made clear. Indeed, Henry's term, "infallible insights," is a kind of poison pill placed at the heart of Friesian epistemology.
Another curious error here is how Henry says that Kant's "question" in the Critique of Pure Reason was "How are synthetic a priori judgments possible?" No. That was a question in the Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. The implicit question in the Critique was not "how" are they possible but if they are possible. There is a difference. The former assumes that they exist, but the latter does not. Henry's mistake makes us wonder if the Critique begs the question about such knowledge.
The approach with which Henry begins the article is important. She describes Kant's "method" in the First Critique as a "method of scientific and testable philosophizing." This is questionable. "Science" in German, Wissenschaft, has a broader meaning than the corresponding word in English, and indeed Nelson was himself still worried about being "scientific." But this all sounds misdirected now. Empirical science is "testable," through prediction, observation, and experiment, in a way that a philosophical theory is not. Yet Henry writes as though this is what Kant and Fries were aiming at. If they were, their project would seem, in retrospect, confused. And Henry's description of Fries's "task" as "psychologico-anthropological" is also a bundle of misdirection.
Fries, in distinguishing the metalanguage of "critique" from the object languages of metaphysics or ethics, was careful to deny that "critique" was itself a priori or any kind of logical foundation of the object languages. So "critique" was itself empirical and a posteriori; and indeed he did call it "psychological" or "anthropological." But Friesian "psychology" is not going to suggest Freud or Skinner; and Friesian "anthropology" is not going to suggest Margaret Meade. In this, we need to pay attention to what was "psychological" about Kant's "Transcendental Deduction" in the First Critique. In particular, nothing about it looks like Psychology as practiced in the 20th Century. Similarly, the precedent for Nelson's use of Socratic Method was not boating in with anthropologists to study the natives of New Guinea: It was Socrates himself, who was simply asking questions about ethics and value.
Signifcantly, we do not see Henry discussing the "language/metalanguage" distinction, despite the clear theory and understanding of it that Nelson, in collaboration with David Hilbert, developed, and the significant claim of Nelson that Jakob Fries had initiated the use of the distinction. There are still respected scholars who simply misunderstand the issue and are deeply confused about logical justification.
The drift we see in Henry's treatment is away from the objective meaning of the object languages. The discipline Henry describes "serves man's understanding of himself as to the structure and content of his own recognition and evaluation." Henry cannot make that statement without ignoring the object language systems of metaphysics and ethics, which are objective well beyond "man's understanding of himself."
So Henry's focus becomes entirely subjective, and we should not be surprised if in the process the objectivity of metaphysics or ethics is entirely lost along the way, and reduced to a subjective function, i.e. "psychologism," for which Henry's statement could serve as an actual definition. For Henry, "critique" loses its dependent and secondary status in relation to the object languages.
Raising "critique of reason to the rank of science" may be just a way of undermining its purpose, which is not an end in itself, but merely a description of the a priori knowledge that we possess of metaphysics, mathematics, and ethics. Henry seems to set out on a course of subtly, or perhaps openly, undermining this. Indeed, the mischaracterization of our metaphysical and ethical knowledge as "immediate insights" is an excellent way to destroy its meaning and reality. Once it is properly dead, or subjectivized, then some sort of "psychology" or "anthropology" reigns supreme. "Behaviour study" indeed.
From the first page to the second, we see a repetition of the same error about immediate knowledge. Henry says, "Whatever has been grasped as certain in such immediate insights and interests is -- according to their doctrine -- absolutely beyond all doubt, and neither requires nor permits revision." These statements deny that our mediate knowledge is fallible or corrigible. And notice, non-intuitive immediate knowledge is something that Henry does not even discuss, or notice, in its own terms. There is an evasion in her treatment.
The terms and phrases "immediate insights," "beyond all doubt," and "neither requires nor permits revision" are all misrepresentations of what is "according to their doctrine." Again, this sets up a perfect straw man that Henry can then refute, thereby discrediting any theory of immediate knowledge, intuitive or otherwise. But this is particularly outrageous when non-intuitive immediate knowledge is something of which we are not even immediately aware, just as is Platonic knowledge that we have not yet "remembered."
Curiously, Henry then allows that "we find ourselves with wrong conceptions as regards our own immediate insights," but then "these insights themselves have irrevocably the self-confidence of reason, as they are given directly, i.e. not mediated through arbitrary reflection." I suggest that these statements are incoherent.
If the "insights" are so "self-confident," then how could we have ever gotten them "wrong" in the first place? Could it be that out knowledge as "mediated through arbitary reflection" is actually fallible and corrigible? But why then is that reflection "aribitary"? Was the Socratic elenchus, ἔλεγχος, "arbitrary"? How does our "arbitrary reflection" recover the "immediate insights" that cannot be doubted or revised? This doesn't make any sense.
Nelson's idea of the "self-confidence of reason" is simply to say that non-intutive immediate knowledge, once recovered, through, indeed, reflection, cannot be proven or derived from other knowledge, and does not need to be. The status of what we are able to recover, however, as mediate knowledge, does not possess any certainty that is beyond doubt or revision. Socrates keeps asking his questions, and so must we. "Reflection" continues. We may discover that we were wrong, or we may just improve and deepen our understanding of what we have already recovered. Notice, there are in fact degrees of understanding, which means that the full meaning of any immediate knowledge, intuitive or non-intuitive, is not grasped all at once. This highlights its mediate character. For the understanding, there is always more to be found in the source. This is something that seems to be denied, by the way, by Wittgenstein.
The "self-confidence of reason" thus means that the "first principles of demonstration," the axioms of metaphysics and ethics, do not derive from other premises. They are indeed axioms. But then the key Friesian insight is that they are not self-evident, as Aristotle would have thought. To say that they are "immediate insights" that are "beyond all doubt" is to contradict this fundamental suggestion of Fries and to simply attribute to Fries and Nelson the same mistake made by Aristotle and all the later Rationalists. It is to throw away the most revolutionary achievement of Friesian philosophy. It is even to ignore the use to which Karl Popper put this, which is the principle that scientific theories cannot be verified, only falsified. I do not think that this rule, for which Popper is so famous, is mentioned in Henry's essay.
Now, I do not think that Nelson did always continue asking his questions. His System of Ethics, despite its errors, looks like something that had Nelson's confidence. Perhaps this deceived Henry into believing in its ostensible certainty. But this is exactly what Nelson feared and predicted, that a philosopher's students, pursuing consistency, would lose the "sure feeling for truth" that had guided their teacher. And now we see the result in Henry's essay.
If the task that Henry has set for herself is to sabotage Friesian epistemology, she is off to a good start. The next step may be in the second paragraph on this page. The "anthropological thesis" of Fries and Nelson contains, she says, an "obscure point." The question seems to be about how our a priori knowledge and empirical knowledge fit together. The clear answer to this is blocked by Henry's notion of the "immediate insights," which get contributed by what is nevertheless the "dark reason" of our minds. She asks whether we end up with elements that are "only sensible," or "only purely a priori," or "only purely intuitive" (i.e. about space and time), or "only related to categorical unity and regularity" (i.e. Kant's "Transcendental Unity of Apperception").
The answer, of which we might already be aware from reading Kant, is that these separate "sources" are not distinguished either in experience or in the naive statements we make about experience. A priori knowledge, pure intuition, and the "categorical unity and regularity" of experience are all invisible in perception and in the naive statements we make about it, whether as fact or value.
In Kant's theory of synthesis, all the a priori forms of understanding are built into perception as phenomenal objects, generated by synthesis. This must be done preconsciously because Kant himself argues, at the advanced point of his theory, that consciousness does not exist until the process is completed. That is why a priori elements can only be discerned on reflection. And this is not easy. It was only Hume who first questioned why the principle of causality is used with any certainty. But we did get geometry a little earlier, fortunately in a process recorded for posterity by Euclid, all based on a pure intuition of space -- although philosophers and historians of science sometimes seem to think that Euclid could have developed non-Euclidean geometry if he had wanted to, and that Euclidean geometry was some kind arbitrary decision.
Unfortunately, Henry catches Fries saying something patently untrue. Someone looking through a telescope a few times will not "in the immediate dark idea of his mind, have the same astronomical knowledge as" William Herschel (1738-1822) or Johann Schröter (1745-1816) had. That is because very little of astronomical knowledge is a priori knowledge. It must be worked out by hypothesis and observation, using particular bits of evidence discerned in astronomical study.
Thus, Fries was confusing a priori knowledge with scientific knowledge which is neither intuitive nor non-intuitive nor immediate. As Henry should know from her personal relationship with Karl Popper, knowledge of the invisible forces of nature must be puzzled out indirectly. Ernst Mach and others did not believe in the atomic theory of matter, just because they couldn't see atoms. But the evidence, discovered and understood by John Dalton (1766-1844), had existed, by Mach's time, for a century. Mach did not understand its meaning and thus had a flawed understanding of scientific method. Note that Hume did not believe science could advance beyond its status at his time (and would never know what about bread suits it for nutrition), because whatever could be seen had already been seen.
There is no reason why Fries would have understood all that already. But his confusion in that respect is irrelevant to the particular epistemological principles against which Henry has destructively turned.
What she then says about Nelson is something different. Defining "fundamental judgments" as "those judgments that have not been derived from others" is correct and reasonable. Popper talks that way. But they are different matters for different kinds of knowledge. Statements about perception are not derived from others because they are justified in reference to perception, or what Kantians all call "empirical intuition." If you ask if the window is open, you can go and look. This is fallible because you can be mistaken about what you see. But for that the only remedy is to look again, more carefully, or also ask what someone else sees. "What does that look like to you?" πῶς σοι φαίνεται;
This is altogether a different issue for mathematics, metaphysics, or ethics. There the question goes back to Aristotle and to the dilemma of the "first principles of demonstration," i.e. the axioms of an axiomatic system. There one must face the problem that if the axioms are not self-evident, as Aristotle and the Rationalists thought they were, then we must explain why they are true. Since mathematics has an intuitive element, it was easier for mathematics to accept the axioms and postulates of Euclid as self-evident, with uncertainties like the Fifth Postulate making everyone uneasy.
But for metaphyics and ethics, something like the "law of causation," or the viciousness of "wilful [sic] murder," was subject to a devastating critique from Hume about its self-evidence. Henry's reference to "sensible and pure interests" must be about moral motivation, where "pure interests" may challenge us with the purported self-evidence of the right and the good. Nelson's "determined through the nature of the mind," unfortunately, is not the best way to approach any of this; and it will help Henry undermine the Friesian system by implying too much of a subjective element.
"Sensibility and reason" are indeed two sources of knowledge, the former that which is a posteriori and the latter that which is a priori. This goes back to Kant; and the statement quoted here by Fries merely expresses what Kant discovered, that even perception is constructed, through synthesis, with rules derived from the understanding. Schopenhauer seconded this principle. However, Henry has now confused this with her misunderstanding of "immediate insights," something that would be irrelevant for a Kantian theory of synthesis, which, as I have noted, must be preconscious, and the general problem faced by the Friesians about First Principles. Henry does not seem to appreciate, as Popper did, how that issue goes all the way back to Aristotle. The rejection by Fries and Nelson of Aristotle's self-evident explanation of First Principles all by itself precludes the terminology Henry is using of "immediate insights," which implies consciousness and self-evidence.
From this Henry returns to the source of her errors: "knowledge of facts or knowledge of values, must always be reducible to such 'immediate insights' as require no justification and are not subject to any doubt." There is more than one mistake in this. First, it is absurd to say that any proposition would "require no justification." The only issue is the kind of justification. Second, the "immediate insights" about matters of fact would concern reports referring to perception. There justification of such reports is the reference to the perceptual and phenomena objects.
This is a kind of justification that Nelson calls "Demonstration," as Henry should know from Nelson's essay, "The Critical Method and the Relation of Psychology to Philosophy," where one heading is titled, "The Verification of Judgments: Proof, Demonstration, and Deduction" . A "Demonstration" in those terms is a "showing" of the cognitive ground in perception. Such a "showing" might even pass muster with Wittgenstein, who seems to like that idea. But for Henry to say that "immediate insights" in empirical knowledge are without "justification" means that she is not up to date on Nelson's own theory of justification. And then there is the "not subject to any doubt" part of Henry's statement. This is nonsense, as even Descartes could have told us.
Next there is the application of Henry's statement to a priori knowledge. This is subject to more doubts than perception, since metaphysical and ethical knowledge is not intuitive. There are intuitive elements in mathematical knowledge, like our visualization of space and number, but mathematics also can be reduced to axiomatic systems, where the axioms may or may not be intuitively or self-evidently true. I'm not sure I even understand the significance of all the axioms of Set Theory, which logicians often do not trouble themselves to explain.
As Henry should know from the same essay by Nelson, justification in these cases is a matter of "Deduction," which is terminology borrowed from Kant, who borrows it from the law, distinguishing the quid facti of knowledge from the quid juris. Thus, metaphysical and moral knowledge can be sifted out by Socratic Method. Nelson did this himself. But the Method only results in the quid facti, which in Kant's First Critique, where Kant comes up with the "categories" of understanding, is called the "Metaphysical Deduction" -- which is actually not a "Deduction" at all in Kant's terminology. This may warn us that commentators are confused or careless with this terminology.
If the axioms of such results are neither intuitively nor self-evidently true, what makes them true? The Deduction cannot then derive them by Proof (i.e. logical deduction from premises), since they are First Principles; and it cannot justify them by Demonstration, since they are not intuitive and so their cognitive ground cannot be "shown." What we get instead is the theory of non-intuitive immediate knowledge, which in its Platonic form was the theory of Recollection. It is therefore not in the object language of knowledge, but only in a metalanguage -- what Fries called "Critique." And how did the Meno argue for Recollection? By showing that the slave boy had knowledge, of geometry, that he could not possibly have learned. We might wonder how often Plato actually did that at the Academy.
Now Henry finds a "problem": "...for even the assertion of a perception which is poorest in content will contain localizing and categorical elements that exceed the empirically given." Well, yes. That was already covered by Kant, whose theory of synthesis described the generation of conscious perception through the application of a priori rules such as substance and causality, not to mention the forms of space and time that Kant had already presupposed (in the "Transcendental Aesthetic"). So, Henry's "problem" is a pseudo-problem.
"Thus there is no such thing as a purely empirical fundamental judgment that only represents sensible perceptions without any a priori interpretation." No proper Kantian would disagree with this, unless they have missed where Kant moved from the idea that sensations could be given and perceived without any activity of the mind, to the full argument that synthesis is necessary for the generation of consciousness. Since Henry doesn't discuss this, perhaps that is something she has indeed missed. I also might quibble with the word "interpretation." If causality is built into phenomena by synthesis, then any interpretation of that comes later, with reflection on the given phenomena. And the interpretation can indeed be "wrong," as with all mediate knowledge. It doesn't take circumstances all that "unusual," let alone dreams or hallucinations. We know our account of our perceptions can be uncertain, but Henry here is still attacking a straw man, with Friesian epistemology, which Leonard Nelson entrusted to her care, in her sights.
From the previous page to this page, 209, we meet Henry's "fog bank" -- an image we might adopt for Henry's entire essay, of which it is certainly characteristic and revealing. And Henry asks, "What is it that can in such a case be considered 'immediate knowledge' and 'beyond any doubt'?"
The immediate knowledge, of course, is the present phenomena, the external objects, what is there. It looks like a fog bank. Nothing "beyond any doubt," although, usually, I'm not in much doubt about seeing a fog bank. Driving up Beverly Glen Blvd. in the Spring, and arriving at Muholland Drive, I often found myself in a fog bank. The fog, however, might be in my eye, in which case I better get to my ophthalmologist.
So Henry makes two mistakes in one here, not recognizing the phenomenon as itself immediate knowledge, and continuing with her persistent "beyond any doubt" misconstruction.
We then get Henry's citations of Nelson and Fries, which are of interest in their own right. For Nelson, Henry significantly puts the matter in terms of "constructing the image." This is the right idea. The image itself is not an "immediate insight." It is an image, derived from a literal image on the retina. Kant's theory of synthesis has space, time, and the categories built into the image by means of a subsequent process, of synthesis. The traditional confusion about this may come from a statement Kant makes in §13 of the "Analytic of Concepts":
Erscheinungen würden nichts destoweniger unserer Anschauung Gegenstände darbieten, denn die Anschauung bedarf der Funktionen des Denkens auf keine Weise. [Kritik der reinen Vernunft, A90-91]
But since intuition stands in no need whatsoever of the functions of thought, appearances would none the less present objects to our intuition. [Norman Kemp Smith, St. Martins, 1929, 1965, p.124, color added]
This is completely erased by Kant in the subsequent argument from "the possibility of experience," where synthesis according to the categories is a necessary condition for the introduction of images into consciousness.
For more details on Kant's argument, see the discussion of what Roger Scruton absurdly called "Kant's 'Attack on the Noumenon'." Note that Henry invokes this argument in the title of this section of her essay, "Conditions of Possible Experience"; but then she actually says nothing about the principle and never discusses Kant's own argument. The title would give us the false impression that Henry's treatment is a kind of orthodox Kantianism, when it is the opposite.
But it is not entirely as simple as Kant's theory. Full "functions of thought" follow after an understanding we get directly with the image. As demonstrated by Gestalt illusions, we recognize and see certain shapes in images, before we consciously put a name to them. Nothing actually demonstrates the truth of Kant's theory more powerfully than this, since the forms that we recognize have been built into the image, as now we would say, by the brain, and they are often functions of conventional concepts.
Henry's next remark is revealing. Fries "regards this construct as the work of the 'productive imagination,' which in turn is part of the immediate rational knowledge." Does Henry know that this is directly out of Kant? That it is part of the little game that Kant plays, which makes imagination a "third thing" that mediates sensibility and thought? This is the unfortunate origin of the relentless three steps of Hegel's "Dialectic."
Whatever it is, generations of philosophers have failed to follow the logic of the argument; for, if synthesis is needed to introduce perception into consciousness, then the raw sensation of perception, the "appearances" of the quote, and the process by which it is synthecized, are preconscious -- a term that we may not have before Freud (vorbewußt), but which admirably suits the case here.
Thus, perception, even with its pure intuitive and non-intuitive forms (i.e. space, time, and the categories), pops into the display of consciousess as an immediate and spontaneous presentation. Anyone can observe this process in action by playing with a 3-D viewer (a "stereopticon"). The two images do not always become one, with depth, right away. The eyes, and the brain, must adjust. There is little conscious control over this, and instructions, say, to cross and uncross one's eyes, or to try changing focus, do not always work. But then, at some point, the depth of the 3-D images does suddenly pop into view (once, for me, after days). What has done that? The conclusion is inescapable that the brain has been at work, trying to get the binocular program to function with this odd instrument. Then it does. Wow.
Just as dramatic are the images where the mind switches back and forth from one Gestalt to another -- now faces; now a chalice. There is no act of will or thought that is involved. We are watching, as it were, the brain in action, applying the form of one concept, then another, without will or choice. Someday, neurologists may be able to watch the cerebral activity as it happens. They may be doing that already.
Kant's idea of "productive imagination" thus will actually be an unconscious process. There is an ambiguity, indeed, as Henry says, but this ends up being irrelevant to the logic of the argument. Kant's argument. If Henry doesn't mention this, she has passed over the background of everything that Fries and Nelson say. From her next statements, about "mathematical intuitions," etc., it is clear that she thinks of all this as conscious processes. An easy mistake to make with Kant, if one does not follow the argument. Most of her following evaluation of Fries and Nelson is irrelevant because of her failure to distinguish intuitive from mediate knowledge, with the attendent failure to understand that errors and uncertainties belong to mediate knowledge. There are, again, no "immediate insights."
"Insight" is what we strive for by our examination of phenomena, even while the phenomena present embedded forms that derive from the brain's processing of space, time, and metaphysical principles. This all means that "reason" itself is ambiguous, since it contributes to the processing of perception, displayed in the Gestalt we get, and then it swings into action through the concepts that we derive from our language, which we wish to match up with perception. A fallible and corrigible mental process. In Plato, however, it is not clear why we would need to call the Recollection of the Forms a matter of "reason." That is more an artifact of Kant's approach, which sees "reason" as our pipeline to the transcendent.
The final paragraph on this page is irrelevant. Henry cannot impeach Friesian epistemology with the concession that it works well enough in ordinary circumstances; for it requires no modifications to deal with unusual circumstances. We usually do see things "directly"; but when something puzzling is presented in perception, it does not require a different epistemology for us to puzzle out what we are seeing. Henry thinks that, instead, there is a shoal upon which Friesian theory and its "immediate insights" founders. No. It doesn't.
The last paragraph continues on the next page. If Nelson does say that "we should distinguish between the sense perception and the recognition of spatial objects," then he has made a mistake. If phenomena were not extended in space, they would not appear in perception at all; and Kant took this into account to separating his "Transcendent Aesthetic" from the "Transcendental Logic," so that sensation will appear through the forms of space and time even before synthesis has taken it up into its activity. Why Nelson would think any different, if he did, would require some explanation. However, we can imagine space separate from sense perception. That is what is done in geometry, except by Empiricists or those with no spatial imagination (there are such people -- the condition of "aphantasia").
The next passage is interesting. Henry says that Fries and Nelson "accuse the philosophical sceptic who claims that he has no certain knowledge of anything of only feigning his doubts; outside his theory, they maintain, the sceptic, like anybody else, relies on his own perceptions and his knowledge of his environment based on these perception."
Now, what "philosophical sceptic" has ever been more skeptical than David Hume? But such an accusation as Fries and Nelson are said to make here cannot be made against Hume, as Kant well understood. Hume had no doubts at a practical level about his experience and the world it revealed. His only question was about the origin of the apparent certainty with which he took it -- a certainty that enabled him to forthrightly reject the existence of chance, free will, and miracles, all as violations of causality. Thus, in his own way, Hume actually did accept perception as "immediate knowledge"; but he realized that his own explanation for the certainty, through custom and habit, was insufficient to logically motivate real certainty and necessity. That was the challenge taken up by Kant.
Next, Henry seems to cast her lot with Hume, claiming that Fries and Nelson have ignored "the fact that the certainty [!] of our everyday lives is apparently acquired [!] by and oriented on experience." No British Empiricist could have put it more plainly. Therefore, I suppose, Hume got it all right; and the problematic taken up by Kant was misconceived and unnecessary. As Bob Dylan says, "Why don't you just come out once and scream it…" ["Positively Fourth Street," 1965].
If Henry is going to rest her approach on some kind of "fact" here, she may want to attend to Hume's candid admission that he cannot account for the necessity ("necessary connection") or certainty that his practice attributes to the principle of causation, even as he says that all knowledge of "matters of fact" rests on it. Unlike with Kant, Hume has not awakened Henry from a "dogmatic slumber" and she has not progressed as far as even Hume's understanding of the issue -- otherwise she could not have said that the "certainty" of our lives is "acquired" from experience. Hume knew that there was a gap between knowing that the sun rose today and believing that it did so from some physical necessity.
Then we find Henry saying, again, "'Immediate insights' in the sense of Fries and Nelson are inaccessible to doubt and revision." This is the fractured theme of the whole essay; and at this point it is a dead horse that Henry continues to beat again and again, pointlessly. If in the context here, she means to say that perception as immediate knowledge means that "it would be impossible to recognize as such and dismiss actual cases of deception," this is wrong. Deception, and its "insights," come in our conscious recognition of what is in perception, not what the perception is in itself. We can easily be deceived about what we are seeing, as when my father, driving down the street, thought he saw my cousin on the sidewalk, and honked the horn, but then found that it was not him. His error was not "cleared up" by appealing to "immediate insights," but by appealing to immediate knowledge, i.e. to the phenomena itself, the person on the sidewalk -- which indeed was a person, and not a cardboard cutout, but not my cousin. In fact, there was no other way to "overcome doubts and errors" -- although he might also have asked my mother, also in the car, "Who is that?"
Henry then speaks of engaging in the very act that I have just described, consulting the phenomena. She says that she is doing this "without appealing to 'immediate insights'," which, as far as it goes is true, but then she does say that what she will be doing is "handling that which we perceive." Gee, that means that she is consulting the phenomena and addressing what Kant, Fries, and Nelson would all call "immediate knowledge," hoping to get new, perhaps more accurate, "insights." This is called, as Henry says, "learning from experience"; but we see that what Henry is calling experience is what Kant called "appearances," Erscheinungen. But from Kant's full theory, we know that "appearances" will not appear to consciousness without synthesis.
Her failure is that she is stuck, badly stuck, still in §13 of the Critique of Pure Reason. Without the full mechanism of Kant's mature theory, she has no hope of understanding the further advances of Fries and Nelson, or treating them adquately. She does seem to allow that there is something she calls "immediate perception," but this is still nothing more than Kant's "appearances," unsynthecized. Beyond that, we seem to be back with Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, as proper Empiricists. The blind, who are given sight as adults, then learn of the world as a good Empiricist would.
However, if Henry has missed the First Critique beyond §13, she may have also missed Hume's questions about what bare empirical input can establish, and what it cannot. The whole challenge and purpose of Kantian philosophy is thus left by the roadside. She has also missed Hume's perplexity that consciousness, with its manifold contents, can exist as something "betwixt unity and number," i.e. that the contents are made into one thing -- Kant's "Transcendental Unity of Apperception." Thus, the whole problematic of epistemology from Hume to Kant has been overlooked. Without that, there is no reason even to bother writing about Fries and Nelson. So, I don't see why Henry bothers. No one is going to care about more warmed-over, half-baked Empiricism.
The paragraph then ends on a odd note, with the formerly blind making "use of this newly acquired faculty." I am left to wonder how they got a new brain, which is the "faculty" that they are using. I expect it is the same "faculty" they have always had, and the space they begin to see visually is the same space they already experienced through proprioception, touch, and hearing. It is not something they just learned about through novel impressions on their Empiricist tabula rasa. Schopenhauer, who understands the "intellectual" nature of perception, has a story of a blind person whose sight is restored -- the adjustment process sounds much like the experience of becoming accustomed to the 3-D viewer. In any case, we can say at this point that Henry has not only rejected Friesian epistemology, she has rejected all of Kantian epistemology also -- and doesn't do so well with Hume either.
As Henry finishes the paragraph from the previous page, the naiveté of the analysis is conspicuous. "Empirical knowledge" sounds like it is confined to mediate processing through language. The "handling of things" is complacently accepted without suspicion or curiosity how this is submitted to consciousness or available to "thinking and speaking." I suppose "things" just happen to be there. Henry badly needs the experience of the way Hume awakened Kant from his "dogmatic slumber."
The next paragraph shrinks to a subjective focus. The invocation of "self-recognition" and "self-understanding" turn the subject into the "object of his empircal knowledge." This is rather bizarre. While reflection on one's own mind is going to be an important part of Kantian epistemology, it is not where empirical knowledge as such is going to begin. That begins with real experience of the world, where awareness of the self is likely to be minimal and undeveloped. I am not sure what the difference is between "his own interrelations with his environment" and, "in contrast to this," self-understanding is then "a consciousness of himself as a subject irrespective of which object of his environment he may be deailing with." Whatever the difference, it doesn't just "include," but it begins with, "the idea of the object with which one is dealing."
This is where Kant introduced the concept of "something in general=x," etwas überhaupt = X [A104]. What Henry is calling "this object in front of me" does not come into knowledge "as my own doing," but is found in experience as the active source of my own sensations. Kant, of course, does believe that the status of this as an object is the result of synthesis, and the activity of the mind; but is this really what Henry means with similar language? What does Kantian synthesis have to do with Henry's "basic life utterances"? Perception and experience is not an "utterance," until, afterwards, with language, we talk about it.
I don't think that Henry has anything like Kant's theory in mind. Indeed, the basic forms of perception do not occur with any hint of "relation to our own activities," except that we may show up and perceive particular objects. The tendency for Henry, therefore, is movement towards the subjective and theoretically towards psychologism -- that which we "localize and categorically determine" is pulled into our "self-recognition" and "self-understanding," to the exclusion of external existence in its own right.
This is reinforced as the next paragraph begins. The "understanding of our environment" is somehow "inherent in the self-understanding of our own activities." This would mean Euclid's Elements is an expression of "self-understanding." As such, this has sunk rather deeply into subjectivism; and it is not something that has occurred to mathematicians doing geometry in the course of the history of the discipline. This gets worse as we move along: "the question of the source of empirical knowledge has to do with human behaviour." This may be the first instance of the word "behaviour" in Henry's essay, after we have seen it in the title. And so this is an ominous and critical point in her treatment. And she adds, "with the specifically human way of orientating oneself, moving about and handling things in one's environment."
Here we are at the point, more or less, of an explicit commitment to Psychologism. What we have in our knowledge is not knowledge of the world, but simply knowledge of ourselves and of our own minds, our own sancified Ψυχή. And if we are in any doubt about this, Henry adds that "the categories in which we linguistically and conceptually comprehend what we are doing and what we are handling," i.e. the "categories" identified by Kant, such as causality, substance, etc., "belong to our self-understanding in the performing of such behaviour." This would be very shocking to Kant, whose worry about Hume was that the objectivity of science and mathematics would be lost in his Skepticism. So what Kant was trying to rescue from Hume, Henry has tossed overboard without hesitation.
This goes beyond even what Karl Popper meant by "psychologism," which was just the sort of subjective feeling of certainty that Popper thought characterized propositions of intuition or non-intuitive knowledge in the Friesians, what Henry has been improperly calling infallible "immediate insights." But Popper expected scientific knowledge to be referring to the world, not just to our own minds. Because of that, Popper condemned and rejected the isolating autism of Wittgenstein, where the world vanishes in the interplay of "forms of life" and "language games." Henry probably thinks there will only be one "language game," but the autism is no less.
Henry then explains that her "slight" modification of the "critique of reason" by Fries and Nelson is simply to extend the treatment of "linguistic and conceptual" categories, studied by all of them and Kant, "with a view to their function for living human behaviour." But this conceals that the previous purpose and object of critique has now been scuttled. Kantian and Friesian "Critique" came into existence in relation to objective knowledge of the world, of mathematics, of metaphysics, and of ethics. But Henry has switched that out. Objective knowledge and its objects are ejected, and we are now just focused on "behaviour" -- i.e. autistic navel-gazing.
What Henry has done to Friesian philosophy is not unlike what the Positivists did to Physics, about which Kurt Gödel said:
In physics ... the possibility of knowledge of objectivizable states of affairs is denied, and it is asserted that we must be content to predict the results of observations. This is really the end of all theoretical science in the usual sense.
Thus, Henry's move is the end of the making of philosophy into a "science" as Nelson had wanted -- unless it is just psychological science. But then nothing like it turns up in modern psychology, perhaps until we get to "cognitive science." Cognitive science, however, tends to naively accept the existence of the world, and of human organisms in it, which is precisely where the inquiries of modern philosophy, beginning with Descartes, began. Thus, cognitive science is not playing the same game, or even the same sport, as Hume and Kant. It does not need to consider, as apparently Henry does not either, something like Kant's argument against Solipsism. No different than the Positivists, Henry rejects philosophical knowledge in anything like its traditional meaning.
Moving on to "Practical Reason," which in Kant meant morality but here follows from the focus on "behaviour," Henry starts with the same false step as previously, citing "infallible insights." We also start with a false dilemma. "Moral categories too acquire topicality only when applied to empirically given facts; and this raises the question as to whether the supposed immediate practical insights already contain this reference to the concrete individual case..."
This seems very confused to me. What are "moral categories" supposed to apply to if not to "empirically given facts"? Do "moral categories" just float around, independent of life and experience? That doesn't make any sense. I think that Henry can think this way by ignoring two very important things. First, Kant did not think up his Categorical Imperative as some independent law that he was recommending us to do something with. Instead, Kant thought that the Imperative was already part and parcel of ordinary moral life. It was already there because its terms were natural parts of reason, which we already use spontaneously in moral reasoning. His philosophical treatment was only to render explicit and clarify rules we were already using.
The second point is more germane to Leonard Nelson. Socrates discussed morality, not in the abstract, but in terms of the answers people gave him about what they were doing and why. Thus, Socrates, and Nelson in his Socratic pedagogy, always began with the "concrete individual case" and then moved on to the definitions and general principles that became evident in his examination. Thus, Henry's question is a false start. Kant and Socrates and Nelson all began with moral "topicality" from the start. They saw themselves deriving the moral "insights" from their examination of cases, not from some independently grown and fetched "immediate insights," which we might be left wondering what to do with. The "reference" is built into the philosophical inquiry. How could Henry not notice that, especially as a witness to Nelson's pedagogy?
With the rest of Henry's sentence in the paragraph -- "...whether the reasoning with its arbitrarily [?] directed attention applies, when reflecting, 'immediate' purely rational evaluations to the empirically grasped and sensibly evaluated case, in doing so is exposed to the possibility of error but also to that of a lack of good will" -- we still have the same problem. How does Kant's study or the questioning of Socrates qualify as "arbitrarily directed"? This sounds dismissive. I am given to imagining Nelson withdrawing some "immediate insight" off a shelf somewhere and then swinging it around to apply it to the concrete case. Of course, once we have a moral rule, like the Categorical Imperative, we could parody its application in those terms, where the potential for error does exist. And perhaps Henry was often suspicious of Nelson's good will. Otherwise, why bring it up? Nelson died fifty years before Henry wrote the essay. Is there some lingering resentment? It is now another fifty years since Henry wrote; and, yes, I have lingering resentment.
But in the context here, if the question is the relation of moral principles to concrete cases, this is irrelevant. Kant and Socrates and Nelson expect, in the first instance, to find the rules already contained in the concrete cases. Later, if we have extracted and clarified the rules, then we might ask to what kinds of future cases will the rules apply. If they don't properly apply, but are made to, then we enter the interesting category in Nelson's ethics of the fallacies of moralism. But it looks like Henry's argument is going to be that moral rules will never exist separately at all, even after we have discerned them in natural concrete cases. That can't be right.
The next paragraph quickly exposes Henry's own fallacy. If Nelson divided "immediate insights" into those of reason or sensibility, then Henry says that "According to him it is not the concrete moral and legal judgment of an existing state of affairs which is 'immediate' as it does not fit this division." A "judgment," of course, is mediate knowledge, not immediate. At the same time, what is "occasioned by our senses" is several steps away from our judgments about it.
A standard for right and wrong, at the same time, if it turns up in those judgments, is not ultimately going to come from the "matters of fact," as Hume said, found in those "concrete cases," since moral imperatives cannot be based on external "matters of fact." I suspect that Henry will deny that "insights" of reason or sensibility already exist, embedded in a "concrete moral and legal judgment." Kant, Socrates, and Nelson would beg to differ; and Henry can only assert such a falsehood because she is thinking that the "immediate insights" cannot exist, invisibly and unconsciously, in the concrete cases. She is way behind the times in this, since Socrates already discovered that people insensibly used rules and principles of which they are not explicitly aware. He embarrassed people by making their usage explicit, and confronting them with it, in front of an audience.
By a "pure interest," I gather that both Nelson and Henry mean forms of non-intuitive immediate knowledge concerning value. Henry properly explains that a "purely rational interest," i.e. the a priori knowledge, comes to "awareness" only in the "circumstances," so that "any moral comment on the concrete case" is the result of mediate knowledge and an "act of reflection." However, such reflection will not be done "unconsciously." Socrates was quite conscious in asking his questions, as I expect that Nelson was also in practicing Socratic Method. But this is an interesting point, since what is done "unconsciously" is any Kantian act of preconscious synthesis by which metaphysical and moral principles are built into experience in the first place. I have not noticed Henry mentioning anything previously about unconscious processes like this.
Henry begins the new paragraph on the next page with a pseudo-problem. She says, "how such an interest purely a priori can motivate man's will and awaken the allegedly reflected interest in the concrete case, this remains a mystery, particularly since the determination of the will requires more than a recognition of values."
Of course, it remains a bit of a mystery how anything can occasion and act of will. In Platonic epistemology, we see the presence of a Form, in this case of goodness, beauty, or other virtues and values, coming from two directions. We "remember" the Form from within; and the external object "participates" in the Form, thereby deriving its being and character. Recognizing the Form in the object depends on its external presence and our access to its memory from within. In Kantian terms, we can say that Reason has built its forms into external objects through synthesis, which then are subsequently recognized from our sources of Reason within.
Henry's "mystery" will only be a mystery if she thinks that the role of sensible interests in the "concrete case" are self-evident, while rational interests are not. I don't see how their function is going to be any different. As Plato said, we see beauty, which is not just recognized through subsequent reflection, conscious or unconsious. Beauty can immediately stir the soul, even as "Music Hath Charms to Soothe the Savage Breast” [William Congreve, 1670-1629], including beasts entirely devoid of rational souls.
And we must not forget Hume, who says that a condemnation of murder is found in "your own breast," by "a sentiment of disapprobation" therein. Hume, indeed, says that this is done on reflection, but I suggest that our reaction to scenes or descriptions of crime and wrong occasions fairly spontaneous reactions, which may be explained by our previous conditioning, but is not laid out in any theoretical complexity on the occasion.
The rest of the paragraph is a little difficult for me to decipher. I really don't care about Nelson's distinction between the "interest proper" and the "value judgment" which is an "improper interest." The former Henry says is "the individual's personal concern for the object of his interest," while the latter is the "mere 'value judgment'," which presumably is made independently of the "personal concern." Neither of these seems to me to be a critical matter. The "interest proper" will be a combination of all the things involved in a "personal concern," ranging from various self-interested purposes and attractions, mixed in with moral and other value senses. Thus, if we are looking for the foundation of non-intuitive immediate knowledge, it is likely to be deeply buried. On the other hand, a "value judgment" is a theoretical formulation that can have many sources, including the cultural, historical, and religious, over and above any pure a priori value knowledge. All of this looks like clutter in a philosophy that will aim to formulate ethics, meta-ethics, value theory, etc.
After this, there is no reason why Nelson should not ignore most of this clutter if "in his critique of reason he traces back the utterances of the moral feeling to the desired immediate, though originally dark moral interest occasioned solely by reason." In other words, what Nelson wants is what Socrates sought in his questions and examinations, and what Plato then thought of as the content of "Recollection." Henry, again, uses her "dark" terminology rather than the proper terms, like non-intuitive immediate knowledge, that Nelson uses. This should, again, put us on our guard.
Henry then says that this is not the "interests proper" that Nelson has previously identified; but, of course, it is a part of the "interests proper," or it would not be available for the examinations conducted by Socrates (and Nelson). The "abstract law" will be a feature of the "concrete happenings," which is why Socrates practiced philosophy on the streets, in the markets, at the gymnasia, or, with Euthyphro, outside the King Archon's Court, asking people what they were doing. Nelson's very proper point, that a "practical law" must be, as Kant said, "something general that serves as a rule," so that individual cases can be subsumed under the universal.
I am not entirely sure what Henry's objection is here. Presumably the "immediate moral interest" is the a priori knowledge of value, which she says cannot be the "interest proper," which I suppose is not universal. But the individual (of anything) consists of many general characteristics. So the "immediate moral interest" is not a detached "moral insight" or "value judgment," but it is embedded in the "concrete happenings." Nelson's problem, in fact, is that his description of the manner in which we identify and extract the universal form, what he called "regressive abstraction," is not the actual logical procedure of Socratic Method. It is a kind of Intuitionism, which is contrary to the nature of non-intuitive knowledge.
"Utterances of moral feeling" do occur "spantaneously and unreflectedly." Henry gets this right. The "even if," however, leads to something else. Such utterances, she says, "certainly do not contain 'immediate practical knowledge' in the sense that the latter can never be doubted or revised." But according to both Plato and Nelson, they do contain "immediate practical knowledge," but this is present "non-intuitively" and so unconsciously. Thus, there is no expression of this, in mediate knowledge, that "can never be doubted or revised." Henry repeats, as we have seen already, the essential fallacy of her intepretation of Friesan epistemology.
The next phrase, however, "so that doubt and revision can merely be the erroneous outcome of inadequate self-understanding," is a statement that would be appropriate, more or less, as a description of the development of mediate knowledge of what is non-intuitive and immediate. But this is not "self- understanding," which Henry has contributed as part of her march towards subjectivism. The development of mediate knowledge is the attempt to increase understanding of the issues involved in the original "utterances of moral feeling," especially if these have been elicited by questions posed by Socates, or Nelson.
"Our feelings can waver and become uncertain; emotional judgments by different people on the same facts or by the same person at different times can contradict each other." So what? This why Socrates asked his questions. This is why feelings and "emotional judgments" are examined, cross-examined, and analyzed -- as Socrates says, "Then let us again examine that, Euthyphro, if it is a sound statement." Henry then says, "it is in such cases that we feel a need for conceptual clarification, an orientation on a universally valid standard by reference to which the concrete emotional evaluation can be made more precise, can be justified or cut down to the right proportions." Does Henry think that there is anything original or helpful about such an observation? What does she think that Socrates was doing, or that Leonard Nelson was doing, in Socratic questioning?
Helpful or otherwise, we then get the false step. Where Nelson sought "the moral law" in the analysis of "immediate practical knowledge," Henry claims that this is done "rather than," directing our attention to, "the judgment on the concrete case." So Nelson was wrong. And this is an essay to promote Leonard Nelson? But the dilemma here is false. It is precisely about the "concrete case" that Socrates asked his questions. The understanding of "immediate practical knowledge" and "the moral law" are the result, as universals, of the examination and analyses of concrete cases. I don't know how Nelson could be clearer, in describing his technique of "regressive abstraction" to generalize the rules discerned in common moral judgments and "utterances of moral feeling." Henry speaks as though Nelson's attention was directed initially at the "immediate practical knowledge," perhaps as this was expressed in the now infamous "infallible insights" of reason. This is a serious, devastating confusion about the basics of Nelson's method.
Galloping to the rescue for Henry is... Jakob Fries. The incautious statement by Fries -- "the pronouncements of conscience... are immediate, universal, and necessary" -- helpfully contributes much of what Henry may need to destroy Friesian philosophy. To Nelson, however, I suspect that the "pronouncement of conscience" qualify as (in German) Intuition, but not as Anschauung. The former is the modern academic philosophical sense of a spontaneous opinion or belief, while the latter is Kantian "intuition" as immediate knowledge. But any spontaneous opinion or belief is a function of mediate knowledge and therefore fallible and corrigible. It is not Anschauung, and certainly not the nicht-anschauulich immediate knowledge of ethics or metaphysics.
The rest of the quote from Fries, however, is unobjectionable:
Thus the moral instinct is based on an interest whose laws are recognized a priori and with necessity; we must here trace an independent system of a priori principles belonging directly to reason in so far as it is determined as acting... this pure instinct of the personality... must always spring from pure reason because we must demand it with necessity.
That will all be true so long as we understand that the "independent system of a priori principles" is present as non-intuitive immediate knowledge and therefore is initially used insensibly and unconsciously in spontaneous acts of will, feeling, and judgment. But Henry doesn't understand that; and therefore she says that "the alternative has been lost of regarding the spontaneous moral feeling, which is directed at the concrete case, as 'immediate moral knowledge'." However, that is precisely what it is. The "alternative," directed at the "concrete case," is exactly what we address to discover what is implicit in the "spontaneous moral feeling." Henry creates a straw man and a false dilemma, although, as we see, Fries may have contributed to her misunderstanding.
Next, Henry wonders why "moral evaluations," etc. "really force us to infer such immediate insights from pure reason." For Henry, I recommend the demonstration in the Meno, where Plato seeks to show that people have knowledge of things they cannot previously have learned. Also, as Fries says, the necessity of moral principles cannot be inferred from empirical cases. I recommend Hume's discussion of this to Henry. He is famous for that -- imperatives ("ought") cannot be inferred from indicatives ("is").
While Nelson described himself as a student of Plato, I don't think we can say that about Grete Henry. We certainly get no hint that she has any particular regard for either Socrates or Plato. Was she even, really, a student of Leonard Nelson? What she ends up with here seems to sound more like Aristotle, in its positivism, and Hegel, in its heteronomy and historicism.
Next we are back to "human behaviour," something that really doesn't exist as such in Kant, Fries, or Nelson. Socrates did not study "behaviour." He asked questions, as did Leonard Nelson. This was directed, not to mere acts, but at what people say about them. But Henry says, "the function of moral and legal fundamental concepts lies in the sphere of human behaviour":
Thus it seems advisable for those who occupy themselves with the tasks of a critique of practical reason, to search human behaviour for the relevant facts which in linguisitic-conceptual thinking are determined by practical categories.
This is not even coherent. You cannot "search human behaviour" in "linguistic-conceptual thinking" without appealing to the language and concepts that are functions of mediate knowledge. Since Socrates and Nelson asked questions and examined the answers, we are already engaged with language and concepts. Merely observing behavior leaves the source of the relevant concepts of analysis undetermined. To "search human behaviour" sounds like Sociology, not philosophy.
Henry thus does not represent the heritage of Leonard Nelson any more than of Socrates. Perhaps more like B.F. Skinner. There is nothing "advisable" about this. Indeed, her move towards "behaviour" sounds like a total abandonment of Kant-Friesian philosophy in favor of a nihilistic hobbyhorse of contemporary culure.
On the other hand, we see Henry admit that the study of the "facts" of behavior cannot establish the "norms and values" that are the actual content of ethics. And if our study of facts "can account for the practical application of moral categories," then we are left holding the bag when it comes to the foundation and derivation of those moral categories themselves. That was the whole point of Kantian and Friesian philosophy, which Henry seems to have missed and has actually rather dismissed in favor of "behaviour." This does not add up.
Henry's detour into "animal behavior" is not only irrelevant, but it ignores Nelson's own distinction between the rights of animals, say, not to be tortured, and their duties, which do not exist. The ethics of rational beings includes both rights and duties. Animals, as sentient but not rational beings, can suffer pain, which imposes duties on us, but do not possess a sense of duty themselves.
But Henry does not speak here of rights and duties, or even rationality. Instead, we get "linguistic-conceptual thinking," which is an epistemological but not a moral rubric.
So Henry has recourse of mythology, to "fables," to anthropomorphize animal life. This is, really, ridiculous. Aesop illustrates human, not animal, life, however vivid the stories are for children.
But Henry nevertheless still wants to invoke "more deeply rooted affinities between his own ways of life and those of animals." Somehow, this did not occur to Socrates or Plato. But Henry likes the idea that animal "behaviour" deals with its environment "in a related fashion in both men and animals." Still no basis for ethics there. And, indeed, animals may be better than us -- "in a number of spheres man is clearly inferior to his animals relations." But still irrelevant to ethics, unless we like the idea that animals are morally competent in Environmentalism, while we are not. At least Henry doesn't go that way. But the paragraph ends by conceding to man the power of "increasing his empircal knowledge." Still no ethics.
In other words, this whole page is painfully irrelevant to the issues of Friesian epistemology, or Socratic philosophy. Henry must be aware that animals are not rational beings, and that Nelson excluded them from a consciousness of moral duties; but somehow animal behavior still ends up relevant to Henry's Behaviorist project, however irrelevant it is to moral knowledge and moral obligation. I can only say that this indicates how poorly Henry has grasped the philosophical issues involved, and now poorly she remembers the practice of Leonard Nelson. Animals cannot answer questions; yet Die sokratische Methode, the basis of Nelson's entire practice of philosophy, consists of asking questions. So Henry's "behaviour" has just dropped out of nowhere and has no connection to Friesian philosophy.
There is not very much that is "highly interesting" about the "link" between philosophical ethics and the behavior of "higher animals." I'm am not aware of anything in Kant, Fries, or Nelson that would be the basis of such notions. The "specious reasoning" in this case belongs to Henry herself, not just to enthusiastics for animal ethics, or whatever it is supposed to be. We also get Henry's own approach that philosophy is about "man's self-understanding," rather than the Kantian project of objective value. This all wears subjectivism and psychologism on its sleeve, Grete Henry's sleeve.
And Henry keeps it up. "Socially organized animals" apparently teach us lessons about "co-operation" and "relations of the individual to his environment." I don't see any quotes from Fries or Nelson there, despite Nelson's concern with animals rights. Henry does say "higher animals"; but then we don't get any examples. It may be she is thinking of wolves, lions, or baboons; but then in the 20th century, Russian or Chinese Communism looks more like the hive mentality of social insects such as bees, ants, or termites. None of this has anything to do with moral obligation -- except that a socialist, like Nelson himself, may be insensibly drawn to it.
Instead, we get a possibly Maoist "living and meaningful intercourse between the group as a whole and their environment." The Chinese are always smiling in Maoist propaganda posters. Henry's interest looks like the "sociobiology" branch of Darwinism. We may very much see the hive mentality in the final sentence of the paragraph, with the reference to "an accidental relation of parallel life processes of individual animals." "Accidental"? This is shockingly irrelevant and contrary to the whole project of Kantian ethics. If Henry wants hive sociobiology, she should move on to Hegel and forget Kant-Friesian philosophy.
And that is no disgression or afterthought. "From the point of view of the theory of biological development man is a socially living animal." This has nothing to do with Kant-Friesian philosophy, or with any philosophical ethics properly understood. "He shares instincts and forms of behaviour that, among socially living animals, cause the social forms of life appropriate to each species to arise..." So now, apparently, the evolution of an individual species "causes" the behavior specific to that species. Well, if Grete Henry wants to think that way, good luck, she will have company; but it is not an approach relevant to the philosophical questions of morality and value, much less any that are specific to Kantian philosophy.
Henry then wanders off into reflections about "aggression." Indeed, when interloping male lions attack the males of an established pride, and kill them or drive them off, we might wonder if this parallels certain kinds of human behavior. Armies that loot and rape their way across the landscape, as in the Thirty Years War, or as the Russians entered Germany in 1945, certainly look something like that. Philosophers might say, however, that the manifest "law of the jungle" in those cases is very different from the norms of any proper human society, or even what are supposed to be the more humane standards of modern warfare, however often they are violated.
Henry herself then seems to acknowledge that naturally evolved social organization is not going to be enough "to keep interhuman aggression within bearable limits." However, it is not what is "bearable"; it is what is right. And that is not merely an artifact of "linguistic-conceptual communication." Language is a "medium" that opens a window into transcendent value, which was precisely Kant's own conception of the place of Reason. I gather than Henry really has no sympathy for anything of the sort, invoking sociobiological Evolution as a moral paradigm. That Henry ends up speaking for the philosophy of Leonard Nelson begins to look like something into which she has accidentally fallen, the way a petty thief stands in for the head of the Takeda Clan in the great movie Kagemusha.
But to Grete Henry, rational consciousness does not lead to the Form of the Good, but simply to "the development of empirical knowledge." The relevance of this to ethics seems to be a matter of the "social togetherness" required for "science and technology." Forget the Moral Law.
She goes on to speak of social organization as though it is a negotiation, through "linguistic-concptual forms of dialogue and question, invitation, order, and request." Again, this seems to avoid issues like right and wrong; but it does fit in with some kind of evolutionary sociobiology. Social contract theorists might also be thrilled, but anyone actually thinking about good and evil will think that something is missing. And the "behavior of the individual" seems a bit lost in the "practically evaluating categories that are applied to... social interaction." Perhaps a Hegelian, again, would also be pleased.
"This total complex of human social relations and man's behavior in them is the subject-matter of practical reason." Indeed, the "behaviour of the individual" has dropped out there; and a Kantian might be a more than a little puzzled, since "practical reason" used to be about things like good will, moral obligation, the "kingdom of ends," and such. But that seems altogether too old fasioned and unscientific for Grete Henry.
And again we note the subjectivism. "Speculative reason" is no longer about the nature of reality, but only about "man's relation to the objects he handles." Then, instead of a life of the good and right, we move on to "linguistic-conceptual self-understanding and thus of an intelligent way of conducting his life." Perhaps "social life" and "partner-relationships" have right and wrong buried in there somewhere.
Well, we do then get "moral categories" pop up, in relation to "the right and duty of the individual and the lawfulness of the social order, as it develops historically and in the process shapes men as well as being shaped by them." But this still sounds like some kind of Hegelian sociology, with "right and duty" as functions of a "social order" that "develops historically." And this sounds like a good definition of "historicism," which is a Relativistic theory of value in relation to historical change. Despite the influence of Karl Popper on Leonard Nelson's students, Henry may have missed Popper's book, The Poverty of Historicism . But she has certainly missed the paradox in Hume, a student of history, that whatever "develops historically" cannot establish any mode of moral obligation.
But this is worse than historicism, or even psychologism. Henry's empirical idea of ethics is essentially positivistic, that what is actual becomes the paradigm of value -- and another point of comparison with Hegel. This is profoundly contrary to Leonard Nelson's own blistering attack on judicial positivism: Die Rechtswissenschaft ohne Recht, "Jurisprudence without Justice." So this is Henry's betrayal, not just of Nelson, but of justice itself.
And there is more. The "social order" language implies a focus that is not on individuals. Yet it is the essence of Kantian ethics, that individuals, as in all Classical liberal jurisprudence, are the subjects of rights and duties -- in contrast to Hegel, where individual existence is, in some sense, unreal. Nelson's own socialism itself subverbs individualism; and perhaps Henry cannot be blamed for heading in that direction. But it is a direction that requires some correction in Friesian philosophy, which we get from F.A. Hayek, but something that Grete Henry is clearly not going to provide, despite the importance of the point in Kant and the horror of its development in Hegel, Marx, etc.
We get full sociology in the next paragraph. Yes, children need to be socialized through a proper unbringing. This is irrelevant to the force and content of moral obligation, although children raised like animals will indeed lack conscience and a moral sense. These things do not develop spontaneously. "Nature" and "nurture" meet in the process of development, where nuture develops what is a natural endowment, of intelligence, physical dexterity, or moral awareness.
Henry then wraps this up (finishing on the next page) by ignoring the philosophical questions, such as would have been asked by Socrates or Nelson, and substitutes a sociological, psychological, or "anthropological" study of development "to start from here in order to demonstrate in human behaviour the fundamental relations to the social partner to which these categories and maxims in man's linguistic-conceptual thinking correspond." The philosophical inquiry into Being and Value, and the nature of moral obligation, is all swept away in favor of some kind of empirical social science -- the sort of thing often dismissed as "pseudo-science," since fields like Sociology are essentially rendered worthless by political biases.
While Henry can at least quote something from Fries in her project of destroying Friesian epistemology, it is telling that in this section we find no quotes from Kant, Fries, or Nelson to promote some kind of Hegelian project that ignores all the philosophical issues of ethics.
Of course, Kant's Critique of Reason had nothing to do with "an empirical behaviour study." It was "far removed" indeed from whatever Grete Henry is promoting here. Her assertions are nonsense.
Henry says that in "his deduction [?] of the categories of empirical thinking Kant inquries into the function which the connecting spontaneity of reason has in the recognition of reality." One wonders if Henry even understands Kant's terminology, since the Kantian Deduction is about the quid juris of metaphysical propositions, which Nelson clarified to address the axioms of metaphysics and ethics that are not self-evident and thus not justified by the traditional Aristotelian theory of First Principles. We don't get that kind of discussion from Grete Henry.
Otherwise, Henry's quoted statement could pass as part of Kantian philosophy, since the "spontaneity of reason" initiates a process of synthesis through which we achieve "recognition of reality" in perception. But we have already seen that Henry does not describe Kantian synthesis at all and does not entertain Kant's actual theory.
Henry comes close to synthesis by talking about the a priori categories that are applied to "the concrete and individual" in empirical intuition. Synthesis, of course, brings together the a priori with sensibility, producing consciousness and its contents of empirical intuition. The a priori categories are thus indeed the "conditions of possible experience," which is the first we've heard about it since the title of the first part of Henry's essay.
Henry more or less faithfully repeats Kant's conclusions about this, that it precludes speculative metaphysics and confines theoretical knowledge to phenomena. Where we get a false note is that this is "the specifically human way of receptivity for sensible impressions." But that is not what Kant says. The a priori categories come from Reason, which we have no reason to believe is confined to human beings. Rational beings, with passive sensibility, we might expect to include many beings beyond the merely human, although Kant, of course, indulges in no speculation about that -- except for angels. Perhaps the modern reader would be more comfortable with Klingons.
And, of course, Kant thought that reason had another, direct application beyond the confines of phenomenal reality -- through the Moral Law. But Henry wants to keep this subjective. However, she then quotes Kant addressing the window into the transcendent that the Moral Law would open:
...in the consciousness of myself in mere thought I am the being itself, although nothing in myself is thereby given for thought.... Should it be granted that we may in due course discover... ground for regarding ourselves as legislating completely a priori in regard to our own existence, there would thereby be revealed a spontaneity through which our reality would be determinable, independently of the conditions of empirical intuition.
Kant thus teases us that the Moral Law is going to do such "legislating... independently of the conditions of empirical intuition." By merely thinking of my own being, however, theoretically, we get no such clue.
Again, laboring to keep this subjective, Henry characterizes this process as "self-understanding." The Moral Law, however, will for Kant reveal essential features of God and angels. And Henry admits that here is where we find that "moral and religious ideas and questions are rooted."
But Kant will sin. His "fruitful approach" is derailed beause he "breaks off the empirical study of this self-understanding and its function in reflective human behaviour and instead attempts a logical a priori deduction of the fundamental law of moral behaviour, i.e. the categorical imperative, as well as the practical contents of religious trust, i.e. the postulates of God, freedom, immortality." How shocking.
But "empirical study" can only reach to the facts and indicative modality of experience. If we want value and imperative modality, then, as Hume says, "there is a step taken by the mind which is not supported by any argument or process of the understanding," by which we go from the given of experience to necessity, or from the fact of actions to their moral obligation.
Henry is correct that Kant "demands too much of logical analysis," since the forms of reason or logic alone are not sufficient to determine a positive content either for metaphysics or for morality. This is a grave deficiency in Kant. However, Henry then repeats her own sin. Fries and Nelson "rightly" demanded that there be a positive content for metaphysics and ethics beyond what could be established by logic alone, after the manner of Plato's own Forms. That is going to be covered by the theory of non-intuitive immediate knowledge. Henry then says that:
Fries -- and later Nelson -- objects quite rightly that a critical inquiry into the a priori content of reflective human life utterances is itself subject to empirical research, irrespective of the fact that it deals with the occurrence of a priori ideas and connections.
This is accurate enough, but it leaves out the relevant distinctions. A priori axiomatic object languages of metaphysics or ethics are not empirical. The description of them, in an a posteriori metalanguage, is. In this "Critique," the metaphysical or ethical principles insensibly used in "human life utterances" are analyzed out of their usage, just as grammatical forms are analyzed out in the very same "utterances."
In this, neither Fries nor Nelson "abandoned Kant's approach," which was not about "the self-understanding of man behaving reflectively and rationally." I don't thinking that "behaving" is a term that occurs in Kant. "Rationally" can be applied to all the activities of the mind, and "reflectively" is what we do to study the "utterances" that are the object of Socratic inquiry. Nelson, therefore, especially, clarified Kant's technique, while it looks like Henry wants to turn it into Sociology.
Fries and Nelson do not "begin from the hypothesis of immediate insights and interests that are given a priori, though originally dark." This is the Original Sin of Grete Henry's treatment here. And nowhere do we see her failure more clearly than in her avoidance of Nelson's terminology. "Originally dark" is what is left of the theory of non-intuitive immediate knowledge, which is not just "dark," but, like Plato's Recollection, is originally unconscious and insensible. The whole idea of "immediate insights" is contradicted by a Platonic doctrine -- whose precedent, of course, Henry never mentions or addresses.
If Henry grasps at some interpretation of Kant that will help her destroy Friesian epistemology, she better get her Kant right. No such luck. Kant's immediate knowledge is Anschauung, "intuition." Because he doesn't have a Platonic theory, he is thrown back on the insufficient skeleton of logic both for metaphysics and for ethics. Henry has just admitted this. And if Kant is wrong about that, and Fries and Nelson are wrong about a substantive Platonic content for them, then Henry is free to throw all of Kantian philosophy overboard and replace it with some kind of Scientism and Psychologism -- perhaps with a mashup of Hegel and Evolution. Sociology instead in morality. This is what she does. How does she think that Kant's categories are "functions of understanding"? Well, Kant saw their "function" in the activity of synthesis -- which Henry never mentions. So she has left out what Kant meant by it all. That is not a good sign. She doesn't want any of it anyway. It is just junk. "Behaviour" beckons.
Indeed, what we get next is that "modern behaviour study and anthropology acquire their significance for the critique of reason," because Grete Henry is going to use them, crushed reeds that they are, to replace Kantian philosophy. Wow, "modern behaviour study and anthropology"! I'm impressed.
But "the critique of reason" cannot be "construed as an empirical science": That would literally be out of the hands of philosophers and it would not operate or ask the same kinds of questions as philosophers would. Indeed, the datum is different. Socratic Method solicits answers to questions; but the questions and the answers are part of the object languages of metaphysics and ethics, while Friesian "critique" is the metalanguage directed at those object languages. This will be alien to any "empirical science." Furthermore, the "psychological" nature of Friesian Critique is introspective and thus largely alien, indeed shunned, by modern experimental and observational psychology, let alone alien in purpose. I can just see asking B.F. Skinner, "What have you learned by studying the metaphysical statements of your subjects?" That would be a non-starter.
And, in case Henry had noticed, but doesn't seem to have grasped its significance, Kant's "deduction of the categories of experience" was based on his analysis of logic, and the a priori principle of the possibility of experience, which means the unity of consciousness that encompasses perception. Cognitive science might be tangentially concerned with some of that, but the problem of consciousness itself remains a tough nut for psychology and for philosophers who try tackling it. Consciousness, however, is a given for an introspective psychology such as can be construed for Kant or Fries or Nelson. Henry's "modern behaviour study and anthropology" gets nowhere near that.
The "self-understanding peculiar to man as a rational being" brushes over the generality of the meaning of "rational being," which is far more general than anything "peculiar to man," and was certainly not meant to be "peculiar" in Kant's understanding. Angels are rational beings. Where are angels in Henry's analysis? Not there. Whether one is going to believe in angels or not, they constitute a thought experiment about the nature of a "rational being."
"In performing reflective and rational behaviour man understands himself in his concrete realtion here and now to that with which or with whom he is dealing." So what? Neither Kant nor Fries nor Nelson would deny that (with some quibble about the "understands himself" part). But Henry seems to use "concrete relation" to exclude the universal and the necessary, where that is precisely what Hume could not account for and where Kant's investigation began. Henry is not interested in Hume's problem or Kant's investigation, and it is possible she is not even aware of them.
Where Henry's interest really lies we see next, in "the development of a scientific and technological control over nature, and on the other hand the historical unfolding and political shaping of social and political systems." This calls for some reflection. What is science for? Are scientists motivated by "technological control over nature"? Or isn't that for the lowly engineers? Through science, don't we want to know and understand Nature? That isn't really the spirit that Henry expresses.
Next, we get Henry's Hegelian historicism -- Nelson, who despised Hegel, would love that -- where Henry is interested in the "historical unfolding and political shaping of social and political systems." I don't think either Nelson or Popper would react well. In such "unfolding" aren't we concerned about what is morally right and just? Kant's treatment of morality begins with the Moral Law, not with "historical unfolding." But the Moral Law doesn't seem to draw much interest or sympathy from Grete Henry.
Next comes a grave methodological fallacy. Supposing that our datum is the "historical unfolding" of something, rather than answers given to Socratic inquiry, that is not the job of the "critique of reason." Critique, after all, is the metalanguage, not the object language content of metaphysics or ethics. It describes the "Deduction," the justification, of propositions in the axiomatic object language systems of metaphysics or ethics. Henry has confused the object languages with the metalanguage. "Critique" does not "discover the speculative and practical categories and their criteria of application." That is the job of metaphysics and ethics as such.
Henry apparently has this confusion because she wants an "empirical science," not actual metaphysics or ethics, which then does not describe the ground of those systems, but somehow derives them, as Hegel would his own system of philosophy. This is a profound distortion of Leonard Nelson. In fact it misconstrues some of the most important insights of his thought, not to mention his analysis of the "regress" of philosophy in someone like Hegel.
This does not allow "us a meaningful development of Kant's approach to the problem, which he tackles via 'the original synthetic unity of apperception' in the section beginning with the words: 'It must be possible for the 'I think' to accompany all my representation.." etc. Here at last we a get a dim reference to synthesis. But Kant's argument there is not in the service of some sort of "empirical science," as Henry is promoting. The argument is about how consciousness must be one thing, namely "my" consciousness. If Henry wants some of Kant's "psychology," there it is. But Henry doesn't seem to be aware of the significance of the argument, which answers Hume's puzzle how consciousness and its contents can be something "betwixt unity and number." It is very far from "empirical science."
From there we go to Henry's, "The distinction between object-relation and partner-relation, achieved in linguistic-conceptual thought, is one of the forms of behaviour peculiar to the human species." This whole sentence is irrelevant to what just came before, or to Kant's argument about the unity of appercpetion. There is nothing there about "object-relation" or "partner-relation" or "behaviour" or anything "peculiar to the human species." Again, Kant thought that angels are rational beings. In the Critique of Pure Reason Kant does address the "something in general=x," the object that corresponds to the synthesis of consciousness, but that relation is built into synthesis, into what will later be called its intentionality; and something that would qualify as a "partner-relation," which must mean the relation to other persons, doesn't come up. And why can't Henry just say "person," and not "partner"? But Henry seems to think about all this, not in terms of the inner construction of consciousness, but of given human beings in the naively presupposed external world. As a materialist would think of it.
In that context, Henry sees our contact with objects and with other subjects (how do we know they are subjects?), as serving "to help man understand his own behaviour within a given context governed by laws." In other words, Henry is an Empiricist, and we are learning about the world and its "laws" the way Locke or Hume would have understood it. But Hume understood where that comes up short from what we expect; and Henry apparently does not. The problem of the necessity of causality, which Hume exposed and Kant addressed, seems to be presupposed or ignored by Henry. "Man" seems to know about it through "the efficiency of his own activities"; and "ethical or legal relationships" pop up spontaneously "when establishing contacts with his fellow men as well as with animals whom he regards as his partners." Again, this sounds like a social contract approach to ethics or politics. That social contracts presuppose the obligation of contracts, which they are somehow expected to establish, begs almost every philosophical question about moral imperatives, leaving Henry's entire analysis at a level of naiveté that is painful to contemplate after the world of philosophers like Kant and Nelson.
Indeed, Henry's final paragraph actually uses the term "social contract" (for the first time, I think), and I would certainly wonder what the moral valence is supposed to be for the concept of the "efficiency of his actions." "Efficiency" can serve many purposes, beneficial and righteous or destructive and vicious. "A critique of reason when understood anthropologically" will have nothing to do with the practice or purposes of Kantian or Friesian philosophy. This does not afford the slightest bit of "justice to the task as developed by Fries and Nelson from its original Kantian beginnings" -- after, nota bene, Henry has tossed the Friesian task overboard in favor of a distorted and idiosyncratic interpretation of Kant. It is a sad business that Grete Henry has so thoroughly abandoned the charge and the trust that fell to her on the tragic death of Leonard Nelson.
History of Philosophy