Friday, December 28, 2012

Emotions and Feelings according to Damasio (2003) "Looking for Spinoza"

1 Affect (Emotions and Feelings)

Emotions and feelings, or affect in general, are not just romantic notions. These are foundations of our cognition, and in order to understand them, neurological and physiological understanding is necessary with a good philosophical perspective. Damasio, a prominent neuroscientist, offers an enlightened picture of our cognition by taking issues of emotions and feelings scientifically in "Looking for Spinoza". Below is my attempt to summarize the book. Figures and tables are designed by me unless it is indicated otherwise.

Damasio distinguishes "emotions" and "feelings" although they are often used interchangeably with no particular distincitions in the ordinary language. Emotions are the foundation for feelings; Both emotions and feelings are "part of the basic mechanisms of life regulation" (p. 28), but feelings contribute to life regulation at a higher level. Being at a more basic level, emotions are taken to be more physiological (and thus publicly observable), whereas feelings are taken to be more psychological (and therefore private). A metaphorical way to explain the contrast is "Emotions play our in the theater of the body. Feelings play out in the theater of the mind." (p. 28). (This may be aspect dualism, but not substance dualism; basically Damasio takes monism just as Spinoza did)

Emotions are divided into emotions-proper and emotions in the broad sense (Note: Damasio doesn't use the latter term). Emotions-proper are subdivided into social emotions, primary emotions, and background emotions. Emotions in the broad sense, on the other hand, include homeostasis, pain and pleasure responses, and drives motivations. The levels of feeling and different types of emotions can be represented as below.



Social Emotions
Primary Emotions
Background Emotions

Emotions in the Broad Sense
Drives and Motivations
Pain and Pleasure Responses

This level-representation should not taken to imply that a certain level is severed from other levels. On the contrary, levels below contain and influence levels above. Feelings and emotions are nested.

This Nesting Principle (p. 37) can be graphically represented in the following way.

Speech and proposition are my addition to feelings and emotions in the above figure of Damasio's scheme. Speech arises from feelings and emotions in the body (see more technical definitions below), and from speech we abstract a proposition. The contrast between the two terms here is that whereas speech in communication is an embodied expression, a proposition in linguistics and logic is an disembodied abstraction.

Below is another graphical representation of feelings and emotions (emotions in the broad sense are omitted for the sake of simplicity). This representation emphasises that down-level emotions influence upper level emotions and feelings, and they all together constitute the basis of speech. The contrast between speech and proposition is expressed in their mode of being: Embodied Mind (Body-Mind) vs Disembodied Mind.

Given these schematic representations above, let's examine emotions and feelings more technically.

2 Emotions

Although emotions are divided into emotions in the broad sense and emotions-proper in this section, it is important to understand what is common in all kinds of emotions. They are all biological life-regulation phenomena and serve for our survival and well-being.

From chemical homeostatic processes to emotions-proper, life-regulation phenomena, without exception, have to do, directly or indirectly, with the integrity and health of the organism. Without exception, all of these phenomena are related to adaptive adjustments in body state and eventually lead to the changes in the brain mapping of body states, which form the basis for feelings. (p. 49)

With this explanation, we should cease to regard emotions as an exclusively human, possibly romantic, notion. As life-regulation phenomena, emotions are observed in many types of living creatures: "All they require is a simple perceptual apparatus -- a filter to detect the emotionally competent stimulus and the capacity to emote" (p. 50).

Having said that, let's see the workings of human emotions in the broad sense in the next section.

2.1 Emotions in the Broad Sense

Emotions in the broad sense include, from a more basic level to a higher, homeostasis, pain and pleasure responses, and drives and motivation.

2.1.1 Homeostasis

Homeostasis, a general feature of a living system to maintain itself, include metabolism, reflex (see also "reflex arc"), and immune system, according to Damasio (p. 31). (Reflex here includes not only the startle reflex, but also tropism and taxis).

Homeostatic responses are induced by different kinds of perturbation or sensory signals that a living system detects. Below is a list of sensory signals that humans make use of (This list is adapted from Figure 3.5a on p. 107.

If homeostasis, a biological mechanism, constitutes a fundamental level of emotions that initiates the other and higher levels of emotions, emotion in general is also biological (at least in nature). Damasio's sense of emotion is technical and should not be confused with emotion in the ordinary sense. (In fact, in order to avoid confusion, I wish I could use the notation of e-motion, at least for the emotion in the broad sense).

2.1.2 Pain and Pleasure Responses

Damasio uses "pain and pleasure behaviors" for this category (p. 32), but I do not like connotations that are associated with the word "behaviors" (particularly in the sense of behaviorism) and choose to use the word "responses" instead. In fact, this preference seems reasonable because Damasio uses "responses" as a synonym and his examples in this category include "protection of the affected body part (holding a hand that has been wounded; hugging the chest or abdomen); and facial expression of alarm and suffering" (pp. 32-33).

2.1.3 Drives and Motivations

Examples of drives and motivations that Damasio gives are "hunger, thirst, curiosity and exploration, play and sex." These examples, however, may betray expectations by those who believes that the concept of motivation, in particular, is more psychological than somatic.

To avoid confusion, we may choose to call them appetite and desire as Damasio suggests according to Spinoza.

[T]he word appetite designates the behavioral state of an organism engaged by a particular drive; the word desire refers to the conscious feelings of having an appetite and the eventual consummation or thwarting of the appetite. (p. 34; emphasis added)

2.2 Emotions-Proper

Beyond the level of, or included in the category of, the emotions in the broad sense are emotions-proper, which Damasio subdivides into background emotions, primary emotions, and social emotions.

2.2.1 Background Emotions

Background emotions are whatever subtle motions and responses in the body that are initiated by the emotions in the broad sense (and related phenomena), and they make our "state of being". They are probably more faint and transient than primary emotions and social emotions, but the interactions of these are perhaps the basis of our feelings when asked "How are you?".

Damasio explains about background emotions:

When I developed this notion, I began seeing background emotions as the consequence of deploying certain combinations of the simpler regulatory reactions (e.g., basic homeostatic processes, pain and pleasure behaviors, and appetites), according to the nesting principle noted earlier. Background emotions are composite expressions of those regulatory actions as they unfold and intersect moment by moment in our lives. I imagine background emotions as a largely unpredictable result of several concurrent regulatory processes engaged within the vast playground that our organisms resemble. These include metabolic adjustments associated with whatever internal need is arising or has just been satisfied; and with whatever external situation is now being appraised and handled by other emotions, appetites, or intellectual calculation. The ever-changing result of this cauldron of interactions is our "state of being," good, bad, or somewhere in-between. When asked "how we feel," we consult this "state of being" and answer accordingly. (p. 44)

2.2.2 Primary Emotions

More conspicuous than background emotions are primary emotions. Damasio also call them "basic emotions," for the examples are "fear, anger, disgust, surprise, sadness, and happiness -- the emotions that first come to mind whenever the term emotion is invoked" (p. 44).

2.2.3 Social Emotions

More complicated than primary emotions are social emotions such as "sympathy, embarrassment, shame, guilt, pride, jealousy, envy, gratitude, admiration, indignation, and contempt" (p. 45). They are based on primary emotions, background emotions, and emotions in the broad sense, but are more complicated than those because they are not individual notions, but require relationships with other human beings.

3 Feelings

From emotions both in the narrow and the broad senses comes feelings. Damasio suggests a thought experiment in order for us to understand what he means by feelings: Think of "lying down in the sand, the late-day sun gently warming your skin, the ocean lapping at your feet, a rustle of pine needles somewhere behind you, a light summer breeze blowing, 78 degrees F and not a cloud in the sky" (p. 83).

Apparently, you'd experience a lot of different sensations (mostly background emotions and partly primary emotions) and you'll realize that "your mind was filled with thoughts whose themes created a new wave of pleasurable feeling" (p. 84). Feelings are more distinct than emotions, but what is rather surprising for those regard thoughts as mostly linguistic (e.g., analytic philosophers or the first generation cognitive scientists) is that feelings involve (largely non-linguistic or only proto-linguistic) thoughts. With a certain feeling in the thought experiment, you'd have found:

The appearance of thoughts with themes consonant with the emotions; and a mode of thinking, a style of mental processing, which increased the speed of image generation and made images more abundant. (p. 84)

In a feeling, your body and mind are blended, for feeling is "the mental representation of parts of the body or of the whole body as operating in a certain manner" (p. 84).

Here is how Damasio defines feeling:

Feeling, in the pure and narrow sense of the word, was the idea of the body being in a certain way. In this definition you can substitute idea for "thought" or "perception." (p. 85)
Damasio likes the word "idea" because it was used by Spinoza, as we'll see later. Of course Damasio is happy to define feeling completely without this word.

My hypothesis, then, presented in the form of a provisional definition, is that a feeling is the perception of a certain state of the body along with the perception of a certain mode of thinking and of thoughts with certain themes. (p. 86)
Although they are on a higher level, feelings are physiological and biological just like emotions. They serve for the living system for its survival and well-being. For example, joy "signify optimal physiological coordination and smooth running of the operations of life" and also "a greater ease in the capacity to act" (p. 137). On the other hand, sorrow signify "states of functional disequilibrium" or "signis of physiological discord," -- "a less than optimal coordination of life functions" (p. 138).

4 Body-Mind

Feelings and emotions, prerequisites of thought and speech, are based in the body. We now conclude that the mind is a product of the body; Psychology requires the body in its ecological environment. Our mind is not disembodied, as Descartes claimed; It is embodied mind, or to use the term by Dewey, body-mind.

Damasio presents four steps for an organism to feel and think as we do. (pp. 109-110)

(1) A means of representing the body: In order for an entity to have feeling that is consciously known to itself, it not only has to have a body, but also a means to represent the body state. Humans of course have the nervous system for such representation.

(2) Transformation of neural representations into mental patterns or images: The entity must be able to transform the neural representation of the body state into mental patterns or images, for without the latter, the entity would have no experience of qualia. (I believe that this step is most crucial and controversial in refuting dualism. See my article "Consciousness as a process that is entailed by molecular interactions" if you're interested).

(3) Mental patterns or images must be known to us in consciousness: This is another tricky step, for feeling (mental pattern that is known consciously) and consciousness look synonyms to each other. Damasio elaborates:

In plain terms, we are not able to feel if we are not conscious. But it so happens that the machinery of feeling is itself a contributor to the processes of consciousness, namely to the creation of the self, without which nothing can be known. The way out of the difficulty comes from realizing that the process of feeling is multitiered and branched. Some of the steps necessary to produce a feeling are the very same necessary to produce the protoself, on which self and eventually consciousness depend. But some of the steps are specific to the set of homeostatic changes being felt, i.e., specific to a certain object. (p. 110)

(For more information of the protoself, please read A summary of Damasio’s “Self Comes to Mind”).

(4) The brain must be not only passive but also active: The body state is represented in the neural map, and transformed into mental patterns to be known to us in consciousness: All of these happen in our nervous system: the brain. The brain is not just passive, though, for if it is there is little point of making the body state known in consciousness. Just like an amoeba, we could just react without paying extra cost to produce consciousness. Consciousness becomes advantageous when we use conscious feeling to actively guide our action. We may do something until we feel good or right. In other words, although the mind is created by the body, the mind can guide the body. The embodied mind, or the body-mind, is not a slave to the body. (May I say here that the mind emerges from and operates on a dialectic relationship between the body and the brain?)

Damasio uses the term body-mindedness of the mind.

The mind exists because there is a body to furnish it with contents. On the other hand, the mind ends up performing practical and useful tasks for the body -- controlling the execution of automated responses in relation to the correct target; anticipating and planning novel responses; creating all sorts of circumstances and objects that are beneficial to the body's survival. The images that flow in the mind are reflections of the interaction between the organism and the environment, reflections of how the brain's reaction to the environment affects the body, reflections of how the body's adjustments are faring in the unfolding life state. (p. 206)

For this idea of the body-mindedness of the mind, Damasio pays tribute to Spinoza who said in the proof following Proposition 13 in Ethics "The object of the idea constituting the human mind is the body, and the body as it actually exists. ... Wherefore the object of our mind is the body as it exists, and nothing else." (p. 212)

Proposition 26 may have important implications in our epistemology.

The human Mind does not perceive any external body as actually existing except through the ideas of the modification (affections) of its own body.

The above statement is a little bit confusing because "body" has two meanings: the first body in "external body" refers to things around us and the second in "its own body" refers to our human body. Damasio offers a better translation:

From my current perspective, to say that our mind is made up of ideas of one's body is equivalent to saying that our mind is made up of images, representations, or thoughts of our own parts of our own body in spontaneous action or in the process of modifications caused by objects in the environment. The statement departs radically from traditional wisdom and may sound implausible at first glance. We usually regard our mind as populated by images or thoughts of objects, actions, and abstract relations, mostly related to the outside world rather than to our bodies. (pp. 213-214, emphasis added)

In our folk epistemology, we believe we receive input directly as it exists in the physical world that is categorically independent of human beings. Yet, the 'input' we believe we've received is actually the effect that our body created. The external thing can only irritate the body. Sometimes, no external thing exists as in the case of a hallucination. Sometimes, extremely dangerous external 'input' like radioactive rays cause a lot of damage in our body, but nevertheless not detected by us as such. Our mental activities are only created by and through our body. Our mind does not represent the world as it is (or "Thing-in-itself" as Kant would say). It represents the world by and through our body.

How can we talk about our mind without considering our body in this world!

Related articles:
A summary of Damasio’s “Self Comes to Mind”
'Feeling' of language as a sign of autopoiesis
Damasio (2000) The Feeling of What Happens
Another short summary of Damasio's argument on consciousness and self

Leo van Lier now rests in peace.

I've just learned from my SNS that Leo van Lier now rests in peace. What a loss.

I met him first in the Oxford-Kobe seminar in 2007. I was lucky enough to sit in front of him at a dinner table. Even before introducing each other properly, we began discussing one issue after another. It lasted for 30 minutes or possibly more. We just enjoyed arguing with, against and for each other. It was about linguistics, language acquisition, philosophy, semiotics, and of course applied linguistics. He was a great debater, creative thinker, brilliant scholar, and warm human being. It was probably the best intellectual conversation I ever had in my life.

When I met him a few years later in an international conference, he greeted me with a great smile. I felt honored that he recognized me.  I met him again this March in Boston AAAL, and I was just expecting to meet him again soon. I've just taken for granted that I'll be learning from him for many, many years to come.

Leo, together with a lot of applied linguists around the world, I miss you.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Moishe Postone (1993) Time, Labor, and Social Domination (Cambridge University Press)

I have become more convinced recently that capitalism is implicitly pervasive in our conceptions and affects our actions including teaching. Without understanding capitalism critically, no innovation or radical change is possible for our stagnating practice, my field, English Language Teaching, included. A Japanese translation of Moishe's Postone (1993)Time, Labor, and Social Domination (Cambridge University Press) has recently been published and well-received in Japan, and I also find this book fascinating. (I read the translation first and only important parts in the original English book).

The book is based on the author's dissertation for Fachbereich Gesellschaftswissenschaften at the J. W. Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt, and the writing style is dialectic. This style may discourage some Anglo-American readers who prefer what they regard as the 'straight line of argument', but there are some things in this world that may better be elucidated by dialectics. Following is my note of the book.

This book is, as its subtitle says, a reinterpretation of Marx's critical theory, and departs from the traditional Marxism. The traditional Marxism is defined as follows: 

all theoretical approaches that analyze capitalism from the standpoint of labor and characterize that society essentially in terms of class relations, structured by private ownership of the means of production and a market-regulated economy. Relations of domination are understood primarily in terms of class domination and exploitation. (p. 7)

While the traditional Marxism is a critique of capitalism from the standpoint of labor, this reinterpretation is a critique of labor in capitalism (p. 5). Capitalism, in turn, is conceptualized "in terms of a historically specific form of social interdependence with an impersonal and seemingly objective character" (p. 3). Analysis of this seemingly objective social interdependence constitutes a critical assessment of "the form of modern society itself" (p. 66). 

One of the important features of modern society that is critically assessed is social domination that capitalism imposes upon us. 
In Marx's analysis, social domination in capitalism does not, on its most fundamental level, consist in the domination of people by other people, but in the domination of people by abstract social structures that people themselves constitute. Marx sought to grasp this form of abstract, structural domination --which encompasses, and extends beyond, class domination-- with his categories of the commodity and capital. (p. 30)

People are dominated by capitalism they made and maintain, which is driven by capital that promotes production of commodities. In other words, people are alienated (p. 30) because the Subject of their history in their society is not them, but capital. I'll explain how specifically capital becomes the Subject of modern society below.

Our analysis of capitalism should start from the fundamental level, value, as it affects the more specific levels. 

this approach implicitly treats as socially constituted the level of structured preknowledge that Kant interprets as a transcendental a priori condition of knowledge. ... It grasps this preknowledge as a preconscious structure of consciousness which is socially formed, and neither posits it as a universal, transcendental a priori nor bases it on an assumed absolute knowledge. ... This interpretation suggests that epistemology becomes, in Marx's theory, radical as social epistemology. (pp. 218-219)

According to Marx, value in capitalistic society, commodity value (Warenwerte), a more exact term I prefer (See p. 52 ofDas Kapitel I) , has two factors: use value and exchange value (Please refer to articles: Marx's dialectics according to David Harvey, and (if you can read Japanese) On the commodity according to Marx . For reasons I don't understand, Postone doesn't use the term of exchange value very often, and often contrasts use value and value. But his point is clear: the contrast between the value that is qualitatively different for each individual (use value) and (commodity) value that is standardized socially and quantitative for measurement. 

Capitalistic society is unique in that it prioritizes (commodity) value over use value, for in order to produce something as a commodity for living (either as goods or service), people need to produce it for exchange in a far more amount than they need for themselves. Value of a commodity in capitalistic society is seen mostly as exchange value for people in general in society rather than as use value for its producer. Value as commodity value is more social and abstract than individual and specific.

As Marx says, "The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an 'immense collection of commodities'; the individual commodity appears as its elementary form. (Penguin translation of Das Kapitel, p.125), and we begin to disregard the material side of use value and prize the social side of (commodity) value. Wealth in capitalistic societies is less about material wealth than socially constituted value.

This different conception of wealth makes different types of society. Where wealth is regarded as material wealth, people are engaged in concrete labor produce mostly for use value with the help of Nature. 
The difference between material wealth and value is central to the Marxian critique of capitalism. It is rooted, according to Marx, in the double character of labor in that social formation. Material wealth is created by concrete labor, but labor is not the sole source of material wealth; rather, this form of wealth results from the transformation of matter by people with the aid of natural forces. Material wealth, then, arises from the interactions of humans and nature, as mediated by useful labor. (p. 194)

On the other hand, in capitalistic societies where wealth results from socially constituted relations, people produce commodities for exchange value and are engaged more in abstract labor.

Here, we should clarify the double characters of use value/(commodity) value and of concrete labor/abstract (human) labor. This is how Postone summarizes. 
Marx begins Capital with an analysis of the commodity as a good, a use value, that at the same time, is a [commodity] value. He then relates these two dimensions of the commodity to the double character of the labor it incorporates. As a particular use value, the commodity is the product of a particular concrete labor; as a [commodity] value, it is the objectification of abstract human labor. (p. 127 square brackets and emphasis added).

Abstract human labor, or abstract labor, is measured by "socially necessary labor time." 
Socially necessary labour-time is the labour-time required to produce any use-value under the conditions of production normal for a given society and with the average degree of skill and intensity of labour prevalent in that society. (Penguin translation of p. 53 of Das Kapitel I)

So in capitalistic societies where people produce commodities for exchange whose value as wealth is measured by the unit of the socially necessary labor time, people's work is estimated more as abstract labor than as concrete labor. In capitalism, concrete labor that is directly for material wealth matters less , and people must be engaged in abstract labor even when they may already have plenty of material wealth for themselves, for they have no means of living other than earning money for purchasing commodities they need by producing commodities they can produce whether it is goods or service. They earn money in proportion to the 'value' of capitalism that is determined by the socially necessary time as abstract labor.

The determinations of value, the dominant form of wealth in capitalism, are very different from those of material wealth. Value is peculiar in that, though a form of wealth, it does not express directly the relation of humans to nature but the relations among people as mediated by labor. Hence, according to Marx, nature does not enter directly into value's constitution at all. As a social mediation, value is constituted by (abstract) labor alone: it is an objectification of the historically specific social dimension of labor in capitalism as a socially mediating activity, as the "substance" of alienated relations. Its magnitude is, then, not a direct expression of the quantity of products created or of the power of natural forces harnessed; it is, rather, a function only of abstract labor time. In other words, although increased productivity does result in more material wealth, it does not result in more value per unit of time. As a form of wealth that is also a form of social relations, value does not express directly the acquired productive abilities of humanity. (p. 195)

But it is not true that capitalistic societies estimate only abstract labor, abstract time and (commodity) value. Abstract labor/concrete labor, abstract time/concrete time and use value as wealth/(commodity) value are in dialectical dynamic. 

I have focused thus far on the centrality to Marx's critical theory of his conception of the dual character of the fundamental social forms of capitalist society, and have tried to clarify the nature of, and distinction between, the value dimension of the forms (abstract labor, value, abstract time) and the use value dimension (concrete labor, material wealth, concrete time). At this point, I can examine their interrelations. The nonidentity of these two dimensions is not simply a static opposition; rather, the two moments of labor in capitalism, as productive activity and as a socially mediating activity, are mutually determining in a way that gives rise to an immanent dialectical dynamic. (p. 287)

Commodities are the medium of this dialectical dynamic. This is why Marx put the chapter on the commodity at the beginning of Capital as the most important part. 

From a transhistorical starting point, Marx moves to a historically determinate one. The category "commodity," in Marx's analysis, does not simply refer to an object, but to a historically specific, "objective" form of social relations -- a structuring and structured form of social practice that constitutes a radically new form of social interdependence. This form is characterized by a historically specific duality purportedly at the core of the social system: use value and value, concrete labor and abstract labor. (p. 139)

It is absolutely critical that unlike other forms of societies, capitalistic societies makes social relations "objective" or "object-like" by commodities, money, and capital. Being objective or object-like, our relations become abstract, formal, homogeneous, standardized, and only quantitative. 

Each commodity has not only its specific concrete qualities, measured in concrete material quantities, but all commodities share in common value, a nonmanifest abstract quality with (as we shall see) a temporally determined magnitude. The magnitude of their value is a function of abstract measure rather than of concrete material quantity. As a social form, the commodity is completely independent of its material content. This form is not, in other words, the form of qualitatively specific objects but is abstract and can be grasped mathematically. It possesses "formal" characteristics. Commodities are both particular, sensual objects (and are valued as such by the buyer) and values, moments of an abstractly homogeneous substance that is mathematically divisible and measurable (for example, in terms of time and money). (p. 175)

Measured mathematically, labor and time of people are turned into commodities, and ultimately into money as the medium for universal exchange. Postone summarizes Marx. 

He [= Marx] argues that in a society where the commodity is then universal form of the product, money does not render commodities commensurable; rather, it is an expression, a necessary form of appearance, of their commensurability, of the fact that labor function as a socially mediating activity. (p. 264)

A capitalistic society is mediated human labor and time that takes the form of commodities that are universally exchanged with money, a quantitative unit of measurement.

Furthermore, money changes into capital in capitalism. A producer may only use money to purchase what he needs: Exchange of Commodity 1 (C1) --say, his labor power-- with money (M) and then another exchange of M with Commodity 2 (C2) --what he purchases. He may be happy in this exchange of C1-M-C2 as long as he is ready to give C1 for C2, which are qualitatively different and not exactly comparable in quantity. However, for a capitalist, exchange is M1-C-M2 (he first invests money (M1) to produce a commodity (C) and receives money (M2) in return. Here, the comparison between the start (M1) and the end (M2) are purely quantitative, for they are not qualitatively different at all. If M2 he receives for M1 is equal in amount, there is no point of investing. M2 must be more than M1, and added quantity is called surplus value. Using the formula of M-C-M' to mean what I wrote as M1-C-M2, Postone says. 

The formula M-C-M' does not refer to a process whereby wealth in general is increased but to a process whereby value is increased. Marx calls the quantitative difference between M and M' surplus value. Value becomes capital, according to Marx, as a result of a process of valorization of value, whereby is magnitude is increased. ... The formula M-C-M' is intended to represent an ongoing process: M' is not simply withdrawn at the end of the process as money, but remains part of the circuit of capital. This circuit, in other worlds, is actually M-C-M'-C-M"-C... (p. 268)

Here, capital becomes an agent, even the Subject of history of our society. 

Capital, then, is a category of movement, of expansion; it is a dynamic category, "value in motion." This social form is alienated, quasi-independent, exerts a mode of abstract compulsion and constraint on people, and is in motion. Consequently, Marx accords it the attribute of agency. His initial determination of capital, then, is as self-valorizing value, as the self-moving substance that is subject. He describes this self-moving subjective-objective social form in terms of a continuous, ceaseless process of value's self-expansion. ... Capital has no fixed, final form, but appears at different stages of its spiraling path in the form of money and commodities. Value, then, is unfolded by Marx as the core of a form of social mediation that constitutes social objectivity and subjectivity, and is intrinsically dynamic: it is a form of social mediation that necessarily exists in objectified, materialized form, but is neither identical with, nor an inherent property of, its materialized form, whether in the shape of money or goods. ...
The movement of capital is without limit, without end. As self-valorizing value, it appears as pure process. In dealing with the category of capital, then, one is dealing with a central category of a society that becomes characterized by a constant directional movement with no determinate external telos, a society driven by production for the sake of production, by a process that exists for the sake of process. This expansion, this ceaseless motion is, within the framework of Marx's analysis, intrinsically related to the temporal dimension of value. (p. 269)

Surplus value, assessed only quantitatively not qualitatively, is now both the end and the means of capitalistic societies. Surplus value drives capitalistic societies as the agent and subject.

Labor, understood as a useful interaction with nature to get what people need in non-capitalistic societies, is now abstract labor standardized according to the objective abstract time in capitalism. As we rely more on commodities for survival than on our own concrete, useful labor, we become standardized according to abstract labor and time to earn money, and involved in capitalism as a means of ever-increasing drive of capital. We are driven to produce commodities endlessly. 

The goal of production in capitalism is neither the material goods produced nor the reflexive effects of laboring activity on the producer, but value, or more precisely, surplus value. Value, however, is a purely quantitative goal; there is no qualitative difference between the value of wheat and that of weapons. Value is the objectification of abstract labor -- of labor as an objective means of acquiring goods it has not produced. Thus production for (surplus) value is production where the goal itself is a means. Hence, production in capitalism necessarily is quantitatively oriented, toward ever-increasing amounts of surplus value. This is the basis of Marx's analysis of production in capitalism as production for the sake of production. (p. 181)

We no longer own or control our labor and production. We don't labor or produce for ourselves but for capitalism. Our labor and production are now separated from our life. We're alienated by and from our own labor and production. 

Marx's determinations of value and the process of its creation imply that labor, which in the labor process is defined as purposeful action that regulates and directs human interaction with nature, is separated from its purpose in the process of creating value. The goal of the expenditure of labor power no longer is bound intrinsically to the specific nature of that labor; rather, this goal, despite appearances, is independent of the qualitative character of the labor expended -- it is the objectification of labor time itself. That is to say, the expenditure of labor power is not a means to another end, but, as a means, has itself become an "end." This goal is given by the alienated structures constituted by (abstract) labor itself. As a goal, it is very singular; it is not only extrinsic to the specificity of (concrete) labor but also is posited independently of the social actors' will. (p. 281)

As laborers, we may labor long or short, but not valued by our specific work; We are only valued by the framework of capitalism: abstract labor and abstract labor. We are subsumed in capitalism. 

When labor mediates and constitutes social relations, it becomes the central element of a totality that dominates individuals -- who, nevertheless, are free from relations of personal domination: " Labour, which is thus measured by time, does not seem, indeed, to be the labour of different subjects, but on the contrary the different working individuals seem to be mere organs of the labour."
... Marx analyzes the subsumption of individuals under abstract objective structures as a feature of the social form grasped by the category of capital. (p. 192)

This is how Postone criticizes labor; "Labor itself constitutes a social mediation in leau of overt social relations" (p. 150); "In other words, labor grounds its own social character in capitalism by virtue of its historically specific function as a socially mediating activity. In that sense, Labor in capitalism becomes its own social ground (p. 151)

Commodities and money started as means for the life of people. But as they develop into the media that constitutes capitalistic societies and move for their own life, not necessarily for the life of people. We may no longer be using commodities and money; commodities and money may be using us. We may be objectively dominated by a capitalistic society we live and work in.

The social relations that fundamentally define capitalism are "objective" in character and constitute a "system," because they are constituted by labor as a historically specific socially mediating activity, that is, by an abstract, homogeneous, and objectifying form of practice. (p. 158)

Domination of people in capitalism is abstract and impersonal, unlike the domination by capitalists which the traditional Marxism assumed. 

The initial determination of such abstract social compulsion is that individuals are compelled to produce and exchange commodities in order to survive. This compulsion exerted is not a function of direct social domination, as is the case, for example, with slave or serf labor; it is, rather a function of "abstract" and "objective" social structures, and represents a form of abstract, impersonal domination. Ultimately, this form of domination is not grounded in any person, class or institution; its ultimate locus is the pervasive structuring social forms of capitalist society that are constituted by determinate forms of social practice. (p. 159)

We are not only dominated but also propelled to work harder through the dialectic of capitalism. Because value is primarily determined by abstract labor time, not by concrete labor that produce material wealth, our value is diminished every time our productivity is increased through the introduction and spread of machines, for example.  Because of the innovation, we may produce twice as much as we used to in terms of material wealth, but as we produce it half the amount of abstract time now, the material wealth produced after the innovation has only half the value, and we have to expend twice as much abstract labor time to earn the same value in the form of money. The innovation produces twice as much material wealth, but it also forces us to labor twice as much. We labor more, but we may not be all the happier. This is the treadmill effect of capitalism. 

The peculiarity of the dynamic -- and this is crucial -- is its treadmill effect. Increased productivity increases the amount of value produced per unit of time -- until this productivity becomes generalized; at that point the magnitude of value yielded in that time period, because of its abstract and general temporal determination, falls back to its previous level. This results in a new determination of the social labor hour and a new base level of productivity. What emerges, then, is a dialectic of transformation and reconstitution;: the socially general levels of productivity and the quantitative determinations of socially necessary labor time change, yet these changes reconstitute the point of departure, that is, the social labor hour and the base level of productivity. (pp. 289-290)

Because of the treadmill effect of capitalism, our history may now be unidirectional: people are to work harder to sustain capitalism. 

The dialectic of the two dimensions of labor in capitalism, then, can also be understood temporally, as a dialectic of two forms of time. As we have seen, the dialectic of concrete and abstract labor results in an intrinsic dynamic characterized by a peculiar treadmill pattern. Because each new level of productivity is redetermined as a new base level, this dynamic tends to become ongoing and is marked by ever-increasing levels of productivity. Considered temporally, this intrinsic dynamic of capital, with its treadmill pattern, entails an ongoing directional movement of time, a "flow of history." In other words, the mode of concrete time we are examining can be considered historical time, as constituted in capitalist society. (p. 293)

How we live may have been determined by the dynamic of capitalism. 

the dialectical process at the heart of capitalism's immanent dynamic entails the constitution, spread, and ongoing transformation of historical determinate forms of subjectivity, interactions, and social values. (This is implied by Marx's understanding of his categories as determinations of forms of social existence, grasping both social objectivity and subjectivity in their intrinsic relatedness.) (p. 294)

As surplus value, measured in quantity, is both the end and the means of capitalist society, the tighter administrative control to formalize and rationalize our life may be induced by capitalism. 

The socially general mode of scientific, technical, and organizational knowledge and practice that emerge in the course of capitalist development are constituted historically in a social context that is determined by an abstract, homogeneous, quantitative social dimension and, hence, is geared toward ongoing increases in productivity and efficiency. Not only are the various aspects of labor's use value dimension developed and utilized in order to serve the ends given by the value-determined framework, but they also function structurally to reinforce and reconstitute this framework -- that is, they function as attributes of capital. ...
What I have called the "appropriation" of the use value dimension by that of value thus can be seen as a process in which the use value dimension is structured by means of the sort of formal rationality whose source is the value dimension. The result is the tendency in modern life which Weber described in terms of the growing (formal) rationalization of all spheres of life, and which Horkheimer sought to articulate in terms of the growing instrumentalization of the world. Because this process increasingly involves the substantive dimension of labor and social life -- that is, the administrative rationalization of both production and the institutions of social and political life in postliberal capitalism -- Horkheimer located its source in labor per se. However, the ultimate ground of this substantive development is not the concrete dimension of labor but, rather, its value dimension. (p. 354)

We are forced to labor harder and controlled more, but we are not alone that are dominated and affected by capitalistic drive. The earth is, too. 

As self-valoring value, capital consumes material nature to produce material wealth -- not as an end, however, but as a means of expanding surplus-value, of extracting and absorbing as much surplus labor time from the working population as possible. This transformation of matter into units of objectified time is a one-way, rather than a cyclical. process of productive consumption. In this respect, capital-determined production is like slash-and-burn agriculture on a "higher" level; it consumes the source of material wealth and then moves on. Capitalist production, in Marx's words, "only develops the technique and the degree of combination of the social process of production by simultaneously undermining the basic source of all wealth -- the earth and the worker." (pp. 382-383)

We should control capitalism, not be controlled by it. We certainly can control it, for it is we that constitute capitalism. Postone concludes Chapter 9 as follows. 

In terms of what I have developed in this work, Marx's conception of the overcoming of capitalism can be understood in terms of people gaining control over such quasi-objective developments, over processes of ongoing and accelerating social transformation, which they themselves have constituted. Within such a framework, then, the issue is not so much whether people should try to shape their world -- they already are doing so. Rather, the issue is the way in which they shape their world and, hence, the nature of this world and its trajectory. (p. 384)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Paulo Freire (1970) Pedagogy of the Opressed

This book is not a clever product from thought and study alone. It is from continued observation of and dialogue with laborers (peasant or urban) and middle-class persons in the real world. (p. 37)

This is not a dogmatic declaration by the self-righteous left, either. It is indeed a product of a radical mind, but the mind is never confined in the cognitive structure which he imposes upon himself and the rest of the human being. If you believe, as I used to, that this is another self-alleged critical work, which actually lacks in self-criticism, you're entirely wrong. Throw away your prejudice and please read this book if you're ever interested in education. This IS a classical work of pedagogy.

The radical, committed to human liberation, does not become the prisoner of a 'circle of certainty' within which reality is also imprisoned. On the contrary, the more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can better transform it. This individual is not afraid to afraid to meet the people or to enter into dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or of all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side. (p. 39, emphasis added)

In order to enter into a dialogue with people to change the world for the better together, we need to be both objective and subjective. Juxtaposition of "objective" and "subjective" would be odd for the predicate of a person if you take the view of objectivism or of subjectivism, the former being the complete denial of subjectivity in our conception and action, and the latter being the denial of objectivity; objectivism and subjectivism are the two sides of the same coin, for they separate objectivity and subjectivity in our experience of the world we live in. Because "it is a concrete situation that the oppressor-oppressed contradiction is established, the resolution of this contradiction must be objectively verifiable" (p. 50). But at the same time, we need to realize that "one cannot conceive of objectivity without subjectivity" (p. 50). As Freire says, "Neither objectivism nor subjectivism, nor yet psychologism is propounded here, but rather subjectivity and objectivity in constant dialectical relationship" (p. 50).

One way of achieving a dialectical relationship between subjectivity and objectivity is by praxis which Freire defines as "reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it" (p. 51). To bring about praxis, you must stop oppressing other people and yourself, trust them for their ability to reason for their own words and deeds.

To achieve this praxis, however, it is necessary to trust in the oppressed and in their ability to reason. Whoever lacks this trust will fail to initiate (or will abandon) dialogue, reflection, and communication, and will fall into using slogans, communiqués, monologues, and instructions. Superficial conversions to the cause of liberation carry this danger. (p. 66)

So in order not to repeat the mistake of self-claimed liberators who first freed nobody but themselves and eventually self-destroyed themselves, we need praxis and communication.

Then, what blocks praxis and communication? A major one in the modern society is what Freire termed as the "banking concept of education" (p. 72). In that concept and in classes conducted in the concept, students are only the object for containing the knowledge which their teacher store for his convenience. Students are only expected to receive and accumulate the knowledge in order to adapt to the world that the haves (the teacher included) want to maintain. Knowledge is not to change the world but to keep it as it is. Banking style education is oppressors' sophisticated way of controlling the oppressed.

Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the "banking" concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filling, and storing the deposits. ...

In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing. Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology of oppression, negates education and knowledge as process of inquiry. (p. 72)

When students regard themselves as nothing but a container as a bank of somebody else's knowledge (and they can only use the interest of the knowledge as money), they are alienated from and by the knowledge and the world where the knowledge is from. Dichotomy between human beings and the world becomes a reality in the banking concept of education.

Implicitly in the banking concept is the assumption of a dichotomy between human beings and the world: a person is merely in the world, not with the world or with others; the individual is spectator, not re-creator. In this view, the person is not a conscious being (corpo consciente); he or she is rather the possessor of a consciousness: an empty "mind" passively open to the reception of deposits of reality from the world outside. (p. 75)

In order to bring back students to the world and the relationship with others they belong to and live in, teachers need to abandon the banking concept of education, and start communication with them (not information transmission in disguise). And communication is admitting and encouraging the autonomy of the interlocutors, students in this case.

Yet only through communication can human life hold meaning. The teacher's thinking is authenticated only by the authenticity of the students' thinking. The teacher cannot think for her students, nor can she impose her thought on them. Authentic thinking, thinking that is concerned about reality, does not take place in ivory tower isolation, but only in communication. If it is true that thought has meaning only when generated by action upon the world, the subordination of students to teachers become impossible. (p. 77)

Teachers are to stop viewing students as ignorant vessels into which teachers of a 'good-will' should pour their knowledge, and to atart recognizing students as human beings, conscious beings that are conscious of themselves interacting in the world. (Here, consciousness is to be taken more as either extended consciousness or higher-order consciousness, than as core consciousness or primary consciousness; See the neuroscientific arguments by Damasio or by Edelman). This style of education, entirely free from the banking concept, is problem-posing education, according to Freire.

Those truly committed to the cause of liberation can accept neither the mechanistic concept of consciousness as an empty vessel to be filled, nor the use of banknig methods of domination (propaganda, slogans -- deposits) in the name of liberation.

Those truly committed to liberation must reject the banking concept in its entirety, adopting instead a concept of women and men as conscious beings, and consciousness as consciousness intent upon the world. They must abandon the educational goal of deposit-making and replace it with the posing of the problems of human beings in their relations with the world. "Problem-posing" education, responding to the essence of consciousness --intentionality--rejects communiqués and embodies communication. It epitomizes the special characteristic of consciousness: being conscious of, not only as intent on objects but as turned in upon itself in a Jasperian "split" --consciousness as consciousness of consciousness. (p. 79

In the problem-posing education, students restore their sense of subjectivity; they become an agent in their world in which they live together with others. The world and knowledge of the world are not separated from their being. The problem-posing education is a process of humanization, learning to be human, or more human, in this world. Freire says:

Education is thus constantly remade in the praxis. In order to be, it must become. (p. 84)

Students in the problem-posing education are no longer ignorant people, but our fellow citizens, younger as they may be, who are challenged by the problems we face in this world.

Students, as they are increasingly posed with problems relating to themselves in the world and with the world, will feel increasingly challenged and obliged to respond to that challenge. Because they apprehend the challenge as interrelated to other problems within a total context, not as a theoretical question, the resulting comprehension tends to be increasingly critical and thus constantly less alienated. Their response to the challenge evokes new challenges, followed by new understandings; and gradually the students come to regard themselves as committed. (p. 81)

Students, then, learn to see themselves and the world in transformation, to which they are committed.

In problem-posing education, people develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves; they come to see the world not as a static reality, but as a reality in process, in transformation. (p. 83)

As students face challenges with us, teachers and other citizens, they enter into a dialogical relationship with us. The relationship is not, however, mere exchange or consumption of information (something you often see in boring language lessons). Words in our dialogue are based upon the world, and by naming the world (i.e., using language), we become committed to the world. Dialogue is no empty talk for its own sake.

Dialogue is the encounter between men, mediated by the world, in order to name the world. (p. 88)

As we are embedded in the world, we are limited by it, but at the same time, we project ourselves in it: we are "conscious beings" that "exist in a dialectical relationship between the determination of limits and their own freedom." (p. 99)

the people --aware of their activity and the world in which they are situated, acting in function of the objectives which they propose, having the seat of their decisions located in themselves and in their relations with the world and with others, infusing the world with their creative presence by means of the transformation they effect upon it --unlike animals, not only live but exist; and their existence is historical. (p. 98)

In order to live better in this world, we need praxis and dialogue. Teachers have to turn a critical eye on themselves, for they are often thoughtless speakers and bad listeners (They often believe that "the teacher is the Subject of the learning process, while the pupils are mere objects" (p. 73)). Teachers are to be careful not to be oppressors themselves. (Beware of the dark side, Anakin!)

Each time they say their word without hearing the word of those whom they have forbidden to speak, they grow more accustomed to power and acquire a taste for guiding, ordering, and commanding. They can no longer live without having someone to give orders to. Under these circumstances, dialogue is impossible. (p. 134)
In a dialogical relationship, I meet you, as you meet me. I cannot be a human alone. If education is about humanization, learning to be a human, dialogue is essential.

The antidiagogical, dominating I transforms the dominated, conquered thou into a mere it. The dialogical I, however, knows that it is precisely the thou ("not-I") which has called forth his or her own existence. He also knows that the thou which calls forth his own existence in turn constitutes an I which has in his I its thou. The I and the thou thus become, in the dialectic of these relationships, two thous which become two I's. (p. 167)

I now regret that I haven't read this book so far because of the prejudice I have about the dogmatic Marxists. More true to the spirit of Marx than the traditional Marxism (p. 37), this book has probably become all the more important after the collapse of the Soviet Union (and the Utopian idea of the traditional Marxists). As far as I can see, this book is free from the dogmas of the totalitarian Marxists and sets you and your students free. With the feeling of the shame of not having read this classic, I highly recommend this work of pedagogy for every teacher.

Amazon: Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Index to pages for Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition

Introduction by D. Atkinson

Ch.1: The Sociocultural Approach to Second Language Acquisition by J.P. Lantolf

Ch.2: A Complexity Approach to Second Language Development/Acquisition by D. Larsen-Freeman

Ch.3: An Identity Approach to Second Language Acquisiton by B. Norton & C. McKinney

Ch.4: Language Socialization Approaches to Second Language Acquisition by P. Duff & S. Talmy

Ch.5: A Conversation-analytic Apporoach to Second Language Acquisition by G. Kasper & J. Wagner

Ch.6: A Sociocognitive Approach to Second Language Acquisition: How mind, body, and world work together in learning addtional languages by D. Atkinson
Related pages:
Atkinson (2010) Extended, Embodied Cognition and Second Language Acquisition
Clark and Chalmers (1998) "The extended mind"

Ch.7: SLA after the Social Turn: Where cognitivism and its alternatives stand by L. Ortega

Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (Paperback)

Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (Kindle)

Dwight Atkinson at Purdue University

See also

Index to pages about Critical Applied Linguistics

David Block (2003) The Social Turn in Second Language Acquisition

Three MLJ articles by Firth and Wagner (1997, 1998, and 2007)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Introduction and Key terms (Summary of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason #1)

Summary of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft)


Below is my summary of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.  Needless to say, it is not meant to cover the whole argument of the book, but is only a mere attempt to understand some of the arguments in it to clarify the issues of my concern, such as I, identity, or communicative competence as an ability attributed to the individual.

Following the gist that I’ll immediately offer, this article provides sections of  (1) key terms, (2) transcendental ideas, (3) ‘I’ as the transcendental subject of thoughts = X, (4) freedom, and (5) principle of pure reason. 

Some note on terminology: Kant uses non-technical words (eg. intuition, appearance, idea, etc) in his own systematic way.  In order to emphasize his systematic terminology (and to avoid understanding his terms according to our ordinary usage), I capitalize the first letter of such terms or hyphenizes phrases.  I also provide the original German words and texts where I deem it necessary and appropriate to do so.  Numbers presented in the parentheses following the quotation (eg., (49), (B19)) indicates the page number of either Penguin translation or the second edition of the original text (the number with B).

Gist of Critique of Pure Reason

Kant distinguishes three stages in human cognition: Sensibility, Understanding and Reason.  Through these stages of cognition, humans experience the world as Appearance, distinct from Thing-in-itself, which is beyond our cognition (or indeed any cognitions).  Objects are given in Appearance and it is Sensibility that receives them as Intuitions.  Intuitions are united into Concepts in Understanding.  By means of Concepts, humans understand the world of Appearance, and Concepts are to based on the reception of Intuitions from Objects.  Some Concepts are developed into Pure Concept by Reason, though.  Pure Concepts, that are called Ideas, are not based on Intuitions and Objects, and therefore are unconditioned.  These Ideas produce notions such as I, Freedom, or God.  While Ideas are not specific or individualized, Ideals which are also products of Reason are conceived in the embodied image.  Both Ideas and Ideals are produced by Reason, and it is the task of Reason to deal with them properly.  It is this task that Kant explores in Critique of Pure Reason.

1 Key terms

1.1 About Transcendentalism

Knowledge (Erkenntnis):
As Kant tried to integrate British empiricism and continental rationalism, his notion of knowledge is based both on empiricism (in the sense of a posteriori – from experience) and rationalism (in the sense that it calls for the notion of a priori – prior to or independent of any experience).

But although all our knowledge begins with experience, it does not follow that it arises from experience. (37)

Wenn aber gleich alle unsere Erkenntnis mit der Erfahrung anhebt, so entspringt sie darum doch nicht eben alle aus der Erfahrung. (B1)

Synthetic judgment a priori (synthethische Urteile a priori):
Knowledge or judgment can be a priori without any problem if it is analytic – when the truth is contained in the very words to express it.  Kant argues that judgment apriori can also be synthetic –the opposite notion of analytic— by citing pure mathematics, pure science (eg., permanence of the quantity of matter, inertia, equality of action and reaction, etc (50, B21)) and metaphysics.  Indeed, the problem of pure reason is about this synthetic judgment a priori.

Now the real problem of pure reason is contained in the question: How are synthetic judgements a priori possible?

 Die eigentliche Aufgabe der reinen Vernunft ist nun in der Frage enthalten: Wie sind synthetische Urteile a priori möglich? (B19)

Transcendental philosophy (Transzendental-Philosophie):
   So, Kant’s philosophy is both in and beyond experience.  Unlike some extreme believers of idealism, he acknowledges objects in the world, but he is more interested in understanding how we know objects in a way we take it just for granted (a priori). Kant’s philosophy is transcendental; it explores the conditions of human knowledge that contain a priori elements.

I call all knowledge transcendental which deals not so much with objects as with our manner of knowing objects insofar as this manner is to be possible a priori.  A system of such concepts would be called transcendental philosophy.  (52)

Ich nenne alle Erkenntnis transzendental, die sich nicht sowohl mit Gegenständen, sondern mit unserer Erkenntnisart von Gegenständen, insofern diese a priori möglich sein soll, überhaupt beschäftigt. Ein System solcher Begriffe würde Transzendental-Philosophie heißen.  (B25)

Transcendental in our cognition are Sensibility, Understanding, and Reason, among others.  Let’s further see what they mean below.

1.2 About Sensibility

Sensibility (Sinnlichkeit) and Intuition (Anschauung)
Kant posits Sensibility (Sinnlichkeit) as the first stage of human cognition.  The source of our knowledge is ultimately objects in the world of Appearance (not Things-in-themselves), and objects are received by Sensibility in representations called Intuitions (Anschauung –eine bestimmte Meinung od. Ansicht über etwas; das, was man sich unter einer Sache vorstellt, was man unter ihr verstehtl— can also be translated as Views). 

The capacity (receptivity) to obtain representations through the way in which we are affected is called sensibility.  Objects are therefore given to us by means of our sensibility.  Sensibility alone supplies us with intuitions. (59)

Die Fähigkeit (Rezeptivität), Vorstellungen durch die Art, wie wir von Gegenständen affiziert werden, zu bekommen, heißt Sinnlichkeit. Vermittelst der Sinnlichkeit also werden uns Gegenstände gegeben, und sie allein liefert uns Anschauungen  (B33)

Space (Raum) and time (Zeit) as pure intuitions
Whereas most intuitions are obtained from experience (a posteriori), some are pure and a priori.  They are space and time, which constitute Form (in the Aristotelian sense) in general in which empirical intuitions a posteriori are realized as Matter (the Aristotelian sense, too).

Space and time are its pure forms while sensation in general is its matter.  The forms of space and time alone we can know a priori, that is, prior to all actual perception, and such knowledge is therefore called pure intuition.  (75)

Raum und Zeit sind die reinen Formen derselben, Empfindung überhaupt die Materie. Jene können wir allein a priori, d.i. vor aller wirklichen Wahrnehmung erkennen, und sie heißt darum reine Anschauung (B60)

1.3 About Understanding

Understanding (Verstand) and Concept (Begriff)
From Intuitions in Sensibility, Understanding as the second stage of cognition spontaneously produces Concepts in our thought.

These intuitions are thought through the understanding, and from the understanding there arise concepts. (59)

durch den Verstand aber werden sie [=Anschauunngen] gedacht, und von ihm entspringen Begriffe. (B33)

NB.  This quotation immediately follows the quotation of 59/B33 in the previous section.

Pure Concept of Understanding (reine Verstandesbegriff)
Just like Intuitions have pure ones, Concepts have pure ones (Pure Concept of Understanding) and its function is to produce unity in various representations in an Intuition.  (Note: I do not yet have a good understanding of the role of the term representation (Vorstellung) in Kantian philosophy).

The same function which gives unity to the various representations in a judgement likewise gives unity to the mere synthesis of various representations in an intuition; and this unity may in a general way be called the pure concept of the understanding.  The same understanding - and through the same operations by which it produced, in concepts, the logical form of a judgement by means of analytic unity - also introduces a transcendental content into its representations, by means of the synthetic unity of the manifold in intuition in general.  These representations are therefore pure concepts of the understanding applying a priori to objects - a content which cannot be introduced by general logic.  (104-105)

Dieselbe Funktion, welche den verschiedenen Vorstellungen in einem Urteile Einheit gibt, die gibt auch der bloßen Synthesis verschiedene Vorstellungen in einer Anschauung Einheit, welche, allgemein ausgedrückt, der reine Verstandesbegriff heißt. Derselbe Verstand also, und zwar durch eben dieselben Handlungen, wodurch er in Begriffen, vermittelst der analytischen Einheit, die logische Form eines Urteils zustande brachte, bringt auch, vermittelst der synthetischen Einheit des Mannigfaltigen in der Anschauung überhaupt, in seine Vorstellungen einen transzendentalen Inhalt, weswegen sie reine Verstandesbegriffe heißen, die a priori auf Objekte gehen, welches die allgemeine Logik nicht leisten kann.  (B104-105)

Both Sensibility and Understanding are essential elements of our cognition and either is better or worse than the other.

We call sensibility the receptivity of our mind to receive representations insofar as it is in some wise affected, while the understanding, on the other hand, is our faculty of producing representations by ourselves, or the spontaneity of knowledge.  We are so constituted that our intuition can never be other than sensible; that is, it contains only the mode in which we are affected by objects.  The faculty, on the contrary, which enables us to think the object of sensible intuition is the understanding.  Neither of these properties is to be preferred to the other.  Without sensibility no object would be given to us, without understanding no object would be thought.  Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.  (86)

Wollen wir die Rezeptivität unseres Gemüts, Vorstellungen zu empfangen, sofern es auf irgendeine Weise affiziert wird, Sinnlichkeit nennen, so ist dagegen das Vermögen, Vorstellungen selbst hervorzubringen, oder die Spontaneität des Erkenntnisses, der Verstand. Unsere Natur bringt es so mit sich, daß die Anschauung niemals anders als sinnlich sein kann, d.i. nur die Art enthält, wie wir von Gegenständen affiziert werden. Dagegen ist das Vermögen, den Gegenstand sinnlicher Anschauung zu denken, der Verstand. Keine dieser Eigenschaften ist der anderen vorzuziehen. Ohne Sinnlichkeit würde uns kein Gegenstand gegeben, und ohne Verstand keiner gedacht werden. Gedanken ohne Inhalt sind leer, Anschauungen ohne Begriffe sind blind.  (B76)

Sensibility receives objects and obtains Intuitions, and Understanding spontaneously produces Concepts in our thought.

Concepts are based, therefore, on the spontaneity of thought, sensible intuitions on the receptivity of impressions.  (97, B93)

Begriffe gründen sich also auf der Spontaneität des Denkens, wie sinnliche Anschauungen auf der Rezeptivität der Eindrücke. (B93)

1.4 About Reason (Vernunft)

Reason (Vernunft)
Reason is the third and the last stage of our cognition. Reason produces the highest unity of cognitions in our thought produced by Understanding (just like Understanding produces the unity of Intuitions from Sensibility).

All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds thence to the understanding and ends with reason.  There is nothing higher in us than reason for working on the material of intuition and bringing it under the highest unity of thought.  (288)

Alle unsere Erkenntnis hebt von den Sinnen an, geht von da zum Verstande, und endigt bei der Vernunft, über welche nichts Höheres in uns angetroffen wird, den Stoff der Anschauung zu bearbeiten und unter die höchste Einheit des Denkens zu bringen.  (B355)

When Reason produces unity to Concepts in thought, it is not directly connected to Intuitions in Sensibility or objects in the world of Appearance.  It only deals with Concepts in Understanding and brings unity that is kept apart from empirical experience; the unity that Reason brings is a priori.

If the understanding is a faculty for producing unity of appearances according to rules, then reason is the faculty for producing unity of the rules of the understanding under principles.  Reason, therefore, at first never looks directly to experience, nor to any object, but to the understanding in order to impart to its manifold kinds of knowledge an a priori unity of reason and which is very different from the unity which can be produced by understanding.  (291)

Der Verstand mag ein Vermögen der Einheit der Erscheinungen vermittelst der Regeln sein, so ist die Vernunft das Vermögen der Einheit der Verstandesregeln unter Prinzipien. So geht also niemals zunächst auf Erfahrung, oder auf irgendeinen Gegenstand, sondern auf den Verstand, um den mannigfaltigen Erkenntnissen desselben Einheit a priori durch Begriffe zu geben, welche Vernunfteinheit heißen mag, und von ganz anderer Art ist, als sie von dem Verstande geleistet werden kann.  (B359)

Idea (Idee)
Pure concept, also known as notion (Notio), is still in the stage of Understanding along with empirical concepts, although concepts, both empirical and pure, are already beyond the stage of Sensibility.  Pure concepts can, however, go beyond the realm of experience and thus become concepts of reason called Ideas (Ideen).

A concept is either an empirical or a pure concept; and the pure concept, insofar as it has its origin solely in the understanding (not in the pure image of sensibility) is called notion.  A concept formed of notions and transcending the possibility of experience is an idea, or concept of reason.  (302)
Der Begriff ist entweder ein empirischer oder reiner Begriff, und der reine Begriff, sofern er lediglich im Verstande seinen Ursprung hat (nicht im reinen Bilde der Sinnlichkeit) heißt Notio. Ein Begriff aus Notionen, der die Möglichkeit der Erfahrung übersteigt, ist die Idee, oder der Vernunftbegriff.  (B377)

Idea is transcendental and does not refer to any object in the world.
As Ideas work in Reason, which is kept apart from Sensibility in our empirical world, they are not conditioned by any reality, or, to put it the other way, are conditioned by the totality of all possible conditions; They are transcendent (and also transcendental) and refer to no objects in the empirical world.  In this sense, they are used in Pure Reason in its operation, and should not necessarily be degraded as mere fancies.

By idea I understand a necessary concept of reason to which the senses can supply no congruent object.  The concepts of reason, therefore, of which we have been speaking, are transcendental ideas.  They are concepts of pure reason insofar as they consider all empirical knowledge as determined by an absolute totality of conditions.  They are not mere fancies, but are imposed by the very nature of reason itself, and therefore refer by necessity to the whole use of the understanding.  They are, lastly, transcendent and overstep the limits of all experience; no object can ever be given in experience that would be adequate to the transcendental idea.   (306-307)

Ich verstehe unter der Idee einen notwendigen Vernunftbegriff, dem kein kongruierender Gegenstand in den Sinnen gegeben werden kann. Also sind unsere jetzt erwogenen reinen Vernunftbegriffe transzendentale Ideen. Sie sind Begriffe der reinen Vernunft; denn sie betrachten alles Erfahrungserkenntnis als bestimmt durch eine absolute Totalität der Bedingungen. Sie sind nicht willkürlich erdichtet, sondern durch die Natur der Vernunft selbst aufgegeben, und beziehen sich daher notwendigerweise auf den ganzen Verstandesgebrauch. Sie sind endlich transzendent und übersteigen die Grenze aller Erfahrung, in welcher also niemals ein Gegenstand vorkommen kann, der der transzendentalen Idee adäquat wäre.  (B383-384)

Reason “orders” concepts of Understanding to bring the ultimate unity.  In the process of obtaining the ultimate unity (which is not actually obtainable), Reason extends the limits of Concepts of Understanding that is inherited from the empirical world of Sensibility.  It is part of the nature of Reason to try to obtain unconditionally complete, something that can be thought, but not available in our experience.

Reason never refers directly to an object, but only to the understanding, and through the latter to its own empirical use.  It does not, therefore, create concepts (of objects), but only orders them, and imparts to them that unity which they can have in their greatest possible extension, that is, with reference to the totality of different series; while the understanding does not concern itself with this totality, but only with the connection whereby series of conditions everywhere come into being according to concepts.  Reason actually has, therefore, as its object only the understanding and its purposive use; and just as the understanding unites the manifold in the object by means of concepts, so reason unites the manifold of concepts by means of ideas, making a certain collective unity the aim of the acts of the understanding, which otherwise are concerned only with distributive unity.  (532-533)  

Die Vernunft bezieht sich niemals geradezu auf einen Gegenstand, sondern lediglich auf den Verstand, und vermittelst desselben auf ihren eigenen empirischen Gebrauch, schafft also keine Begriffe (von Objekten), sondern ordnet sie nur, und gibt ihnen diejenige Einheit, welche sie in ihrer größtmöglichen Ausbreitung haben können, d.i. in Beziehung auf die Totalität der Reihen, als auf welche der Verstand gar nicht sieht, sondern nur auf diejenige Verknüpfung, dadurch allerwärts Reihen der Bedingungen nach Begriffen zustande kommen. Die Vernunft hat also eigentlich nur den Verstand und dessen zweckmäßige Anstellung zum Gegenstande, und, wie dieser das Mannigfaltige im Objekt durch Begriffe vereinigt, so vereinigt jene ihrerseits das Mannigfaltige der Begriffe durch Ideen, indem sie eine gewisse kollektive Einheit zum Ziele der Verstandeshandlungen setzt, welche sonst nur mit der distributiven Einheit beschäftigt sind.  (B671-672)

Transcendental concepts of reasons are what drive Reason to its ultimate of direction: the absolute totality that unconditioned in any way.

Now, the transcendental concept of reason always aims at the absolute totality in the synthesis of conditions, and does not end until it has reached that which is unconditioned absolutely, that is, in any relation.  (306)
Nun geht der transzendentale Vernunftbegriff jederzeit nur auf die absolute Totalität in der Synthesis der Bedingungen, und endigt niemals, als bei den schlechthin, d.i. in jeder Beziehung, Unbedingten.  (B383)

Ideal (Ideal)
An interesting derivation from Ideas (Ideen) is the Ideal (Ideal), which unlike Ideas has a specific image of the individual.  It is interesting because it looks like a specific object but has no object in the empirical world.

Still further removed from objective reality than the idea would seem to be what I call the ideal, by which I mean the idea, not only in concreto but in individuo, that is, an individual thing determinable or even determined by the idea alone.  (485)

Aber noch weiter, als die Idee, scheint dasjenige von der objektiven Realität entfernt zu sein, was ich das Ideal nenne, und worunter ich die Idee, nicht bloß in concreto, sondern in individuo, d.i. als ein einzelnes, durch die Idee allein bestimmbares, oder gar bestimmtes Ding, verstehe.  (B596)

Ideal is the idea of a divine understanding according to Plato.  We are only a few steps away from God, the topic I have to omit in this article.

What to us is an ideal, was in Plato's language an idea of a divine understanding, an individual object of its pure intuition, the most perfect of every kind of possible being, and the archetype of all copies in appearance.  (486)

Was uns ein Ideal ist, war dem Plato eine Idee des göttlichen Verstandes, ein einzelner Gegenstand in der reinen Anschauung desselben, das Vollkommenste einer jeden Art möglicher Wesen und der Urgrund aller Nachbilder in der Erscheinung.  (B597)

Below is the summary figure of Sensibility, Understanding and Reason.  (For the explanation of Illusion (Schein), please read the following chapter).