Composition of Identity

“Our understanding can only think, and must seek intuition in the senses. I am, then, conscious of the self as identical, as regards the manifold of the presentations given to me in an intuition, because I call them one and all my presentations that make up one presentation” (B 135).

I think this passage is fascinating for its description of the relationship between knowledge and intuition, and Kant’s declaration of the self as being based on identity. Here, he states that understanding allows for the processing of information taken in through perception of the environment. Such understanding is supported by evidence gained from the outside world through perception, and further substantiated by instinct. Therefore, identity, or the self, is founded upon the “manifold of presentations,” or information gained from the environment and from instinct, coming together to form one presentation through the analysis of such data. This culminates to form the identity of self, as understanding and intuition allow for consciousness of oneself and comprehension of one’s position in relation to one’s environment.

Therefore, the distinction between knowledge and intuition allows for a better understanding of the composition of identity. Understanding is based upon thinking, whereas intuition is based upon feeling or sensitivity. This means that the self is based upon a balance between the objective and subjective. Identity is based upon the culmination of knowledge and instinct, or the analysis of various forms of information retrieved by the senses into one presentation.

I am not 100% sure whether I interpreted this passage correctly. I am a bit confused about his statement that many presentations combine to make up one presentation. Does this mean that many presentations culminate to form one presentation? Furthermore, what exactly is he referring to when he uses the term presentation? Does he mean the way in which things in the environment are positioned or something else?

One response to “Composition of Identity

  1. Your interpretation of Kant’s argument is on point. Initially I did not understand the segment that talked about identity and intuition. However, reading your post has clarified my confusion. A person’s identity arises from processing information through intuition. Kant incorporates intuition in the composition of identity and demonstrates its importance. An interesting question arises from Kant’s argument: do all humans have identical or different intuition? A person might say that because identity is unique to every person, intuition must also be unique to every person. However, the uniqueness of identity can be caused by the difference in environments. Every person is surrounded by a different environment and so is influenced in a different way.

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