For both methodological and substantive reasons Hegel owes us a thorough internal critique of Kant's transcendental idealism. He did not, however, set one out. I have become convinced, however, that Hegel's reading and re-thinking of Kant during his years in Jena is far more thorough and insightful than has generally been recognized, and that he was clearly aware of some very important main lines of internal criticism to which Kant's philosophy is subject.
Here I want to develop one case of an obliquely indicated but nevertheless sound objection Hegel makes to Kant's transcendental idealism. The issue concerns what Kant calls the “transcendental affinity of the manifold of intuition.” This phrase denotes the necessary degree of regularity among the content of empirical intuitions such that we are both able and stimulated to comprehend that content under our general concepts and categories in empirical judgments. Kant is quite clear that this is a transcendental condition for the possibility of experience. It is also a formal condition, since it concerns the ordering of something, in this case, of the contents of empirical intuitions. Kant contends that transcendental idealism, and it alone, can account for the transcendental affinity of the manifold of intuition. Against Kant, I shall contend that transcendental idealism cannot account at all for the occurrence of the transcendental affinity of the manifold of intuition. Before turning to some of the details of Kant's views, I shall show that this problem is very much on Hegel's mind in Jena. Afterward I shall show that understanding Hegel's concern about Kant's views on the transcendental affinity of the manifold of intuition sheds light on some of Hegel's otherwise rather puzzling claims and aims.