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IMMANUEL KANT: REHABILITATING REASON (WITHIN STRICT LIMITS. Source: Norman Melchert, The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy , 2 nd Edition. INTRODUCTION. David Hume published A Treatise of Human Nature at the age of 23.
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Source: Norman Melchert, The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy, 2nd Edition
“The light dove, cleaving the air in her free flight, and feeling its resistance, might imagine that its flight would be still easier in empty space. It was thus that Plato B9 left the world of the senses, as setting too narrow limits to the understanding, and ventured out beyond it on the wings of the ideas, in the empty space of the pure understanding. He did not observe that with all his efforts he made no advance -- meeting no resistance that might, as it were, serve as a support upon which he could take a stand, to which he could apply his powers, and so set his understanding in motion. “ (CPR 47, Kemp)
“Hitherto it has been assumed that all our knowledge must conform to objects. But all attempts to extend our knowledge of objects by establishing something in regard to them a priori, by means of concepts, have, on this assumption, ended in failure. We must therefore make trial whether we may not have more success in the tasks of metaphysics, if we suppose that objects must conform to our knowledge. This would agree better with what is desired, namely, that it should be possible to have knowledge of objects a priori, determining something in regard to them prior to their being given. We should then be proceeding precisely on the lines of Copernicus' primary hypothesis. Failing of satisfactory progress in explaining the movements of the heavenly bodies on the supposition that they all revolved round the spectator, he tried whether he might not have better success if he made the spectator to revolve and the stars to remain at rest. A similar experiment Bxvii can be tried in metaphysics, as regards the intuition of objects. “ (CPR, Kemp, 22)
He agrees with the rationalists that there is such knowledge, but only of the basic assumptions of the sciences of physics and mathematics.
With the empiricists he agrees that we can know only what begins in, or that which we can experience: the senses furnish the materials of knowledge and the mind arranges them in ways made necessary by its own nature.
Hence we have universal and necessary knowledge of the order of ideas, though not of things-in-themselves.
Nevertheless things-in-themselves exist; we can think them but not know themGenuine Knowledge as Universal and Necessary Knowledge
Knowledge always appears in the form of judgments in which something is affirmed or denied
“Thoughts without content are empty. Intuitions without concepts are blind.”
“Though knowledge comes from experience, not all knowledge arises from experience.”
Hume: divided knowledge into relations of ideas (semantic) and matters of fact (epistemological).Kant’s Problem of Knowledge
Synthetic a posteriori judgments are the relatively uncontroversial matters of fact we come to know by means of our sensory experience.
Analytic a priori judgments include all merely logical truths and straightforward matters of definition; they are necessarily true.
Synthetic a priori judgments are the crucial case, since only they could provide new information that is necessarily true.
CONSEQUENT: Unlike his predecessors, Kant maintained that synthetic a priori judgments not only are possible but actually provide the basis for significant portions of human knowledge.FOUR CLASSES OF JUDGMENT
the interior angles of any triangle add up to a straight line
Anything material falls toward the center of the earth.
Kant supposed, no one will ask whether or not we have synthetic a priori knowledge; plainly, we do.
The question is, how do we come to have such knowledge? If experience does not supply the required connection between the concepts involved, what does?
Kant's answer is that we do it ourselves.How are Synthetic A Priori Judgments Possible?
1. UNIVERSAL(Unity) “All metals are elements.”
2. PARTICULAR (Plurality) “Some animals are four-legged.”
3. SINGULAR (Totality) “GMA is President of the Philippines.”
4. AFFIRMATIVE (Reality) “Heat is a form of motion.”
5. NEGATIVE (Negation) “No men are angels.”
6. INFINITE (Limitation) “Mind is unextended.”Deduction of the Categories
Each concept of relation, which governs how we understand the world in time, establishes one of the preconditions of experience under one of the modes of time: duration, succession, and simultaneity.Analogies of Experience
Cause: The experience of events requires not only awareness of their intrinsic features but also that they be regarded as occurring one after another, in an invariable regularity determined by the concept of causality.
Community: the experience of a world of coexisting things requires not only the experiences of each individually but also the presumption of their mutual interaction.The Analogies of Experience
Noumena are the (presumed) things themselves, which constitute reality.
All of our synthetic a priori judgments apply only to the phenomenal realm, not the noumenal.
Since the thing-in-itself (Ding an sich) would by definition be entirely independent of our experience of it, we are utterly ignorant of the noumenal realm.
Thus, on Kant's view, the most fundamental laws of nature, like the truths of mathematics, are knowable precisely because they make no effort to describe the world as it really is but rather prescribe the structure of the world as we experience it.PHENOMENA AND NOUMENA
Since the aim of metaphysics is genuine knowledge of the noumena, synthetic a priori judgments in metaphysics must be grounded upon truly transcendental ideas, which are regarded as applicable to things in themselves independently of our experience of them.The Aim of Metaphysics
The Cosmological Idea is the concept of a complete determination of the nature of the world as it must be constituted in itself.
The Theological Idea is the concept of an absolutely perfect and most real being (or god).
Conclusion: Metaphysical speculation about the ultimate nature of reality invariably fails.
Ideas such as God, freedom, immortality, the world, first beginning, and final end have only a regulative function for knowledge, since they cannot find fulfilling instances among objects of experience.The Transcendental Ideas
Both sensible intuition and the understanding deal with the conditions under which experience is possible.
The whole point of speculative metaphysics is to transcend experience entirely in order to achieve knowledge of the noumenal realm.
Here, only the faculty of reason is relevant, but its most crucial speculative conclusions, its deepest convictions about the self, the world, and god, are all drawn illegitimately.The Limits of Reason
By the nature of reason itself, we are required to suppose our own existence as substantial beings, the possibility of our free action in a world of causal regularity, and the existence of god.
The absence of any formal justification for these notions makes it impossible for us to claim that we know them to be true, but it can in no way diminish the depth of our belief that they are.Possible for Reason