Think Acts

A. Aloisia Moser (Visiting Scholar, Rhetoric)

"Think Acts: What Kant Could Have Learned From Austin"

It occurred to Kant that while he described the elements of the mind and the ways in which the mind acts in the Critique of Pure Reason that he also needed to take into consideration the fact that the mind experiences or acts at all, as well as what the mind having already experienced and acted means for an ongoing practice. I argue we can find this crystallized in the “I think that has to be able to accompany all my representations,” the transcendental deduction, which I interpret not as consciousness or self-reflexivity but as the fact that a thought is thought.
The focus in this paper is thinking a system in its application. How does thought, in the course of thinking, take on authority over what it is about? It cannot just be the enactment of a priori categories of thought in the mind as Kant seems to present it as; something happens in the act of thinking itself – in its performance – that it of crucial importance. I argue that the insights of J.L. Austin’s theory of performatives as developed in How to Do Things with Words can be gainfully applied to Kant.