SPAH Seminar Series: Dr Thomas Khurana, University of Essex

"I do not know myself through being conscious of myself as thinking" Self-Knowledge and the Irreducibility of Self-Objectification in Kant

  • Thu 24 Jan 19

    16:00 - 18:00

  • Colchester Campus

    Ivor Crewe Seminar Room

  • Event speaker

    Dr Thomas Khurana, University of Essex

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    SPAH Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Philosophy and Art History, School of

  • Contact details

The Philosophy and Art History Seminar Series meets weekly in term on Thursday afternoons to discuss a paper by a visiting philosopher, art historian, or a member of our academic staff.

This week's speaker is Dr Thomas Khurana, University of Essex. 

Thomas studied Philosophy, Sociology, Literature and Psychology in Bielefeld and Berlin and received his PhD from the University of Potsdam. Before joining the School, he taught philosophy at the University of Potsdam, the Goethe-University Frankfurt, and the University of Leipzig. He was a Theodor Heuss Lecturer at the New School for Social Research in New York and a Humboldt fellow at the University of Chicago. 


In the contemporary literature on self-knowledge, it is often assumed that Kant has distinguished two forms of self-knowledge: knowledge of our sensations through “inner sense” and knowledge of what we think and judge through “pure apperception”.

In this talk, I want to question the assumption that Kant’s distinction of pure and empirical apperception can in fact be understood as pointing us to two self-standing types of self-knowledge. As Kant makes clear in various places, pure apperception alone does not amount to "cognition of myself" (Erkenntnis meiner selbst). For it to yield knowledge of myself, it is itself dependent on my empirical awareness of myself. Self-knowledge is thus based on two forms of self-relation that are in seeming tension with one another, but only together give us knowledge of ourselves.

I elaborate this Kantian account in three steps: First, I retrace the way in which Kant distinguishes and relates pure and empirical apperception (I). In a second step, I highlight the way in which Kant’s distinction implies that we are given to ourselves in two perspectives that, in the context of Kant’s theoretical philosophy, remain in a problematic tension (II). I close by investigating the way Kant elaborates this tension through an account of practical self-consciousness (III). 

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