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Immanuel Kant Essay

Explain the difference between transcendental realism (using Leibniz and Hume as examples) and Kant’s transcendental idealism. Why does Kant call his turn to transcendental idealism a “Copernican Revolution”. Transcendental realism claims that the world exists independently of human subjectivity. It also claims that the human thought or perception has no influence and does not effect the way world exists and cannot be interpreted by the way people interpret it. Transcendental realism relies on the assumption that objects are mind-independent, that is, that the mind does not make the object what it is.

For the transcendental realist there is a huge difference between subject and object. According to Hume, the ways we percieve things are by senses and Leibniz sees it as through reason. Leibniz embraced transcendental realism, believing that God made the world as it is and that the world would exists as it is regardless of the way humans might percieve it. He also believed that humans can have necessary knowlege of the world and that people can also dicover thruth of reason throught thinking and that the structure of the human mind mirrows the structure of the world.

Hume also embraced transcendental realism , believing that the constitution of the world doesn’t depend on human thought or perception. Leibniz believed that by examining one’s mind one could gain knowledge of one’s mind, the metaphysical realm, and thereby knowledge of the structure of the world, although a rational world. Hume however, rejected Leibniz’s dogmatic assumption that the human mind mirrors the world. Hume acknowledged that we are aware of certain necessary truth not related to experience, but he believed that these thruths are truths bout the structure of a person’s mind and not about he external world.

He thought the only way we can have knowledge about the world is through our senses. Hume came tho the conclusion that the knowledge we gain about our senses is contingent and our senses can only tell us what happened in the past and what is happening in the present, but they cannot tell us what will happen in the future. Since our senses cannot tell us what will happen in the future, it is then possible, that the scientific laws we have and observe today won’t work in the future. It also means that those laws won’t exist one day, therefore, our knowlge of such laws is contingent.

If we assume that transcendental realism is true, then we can only have necessery knowledge of the world. It also means that we would have to resort to dogmatism. If we take transcendental realism but reject dogmatism, then we left with skepticism. Kant ‘s idea is to have have necessary knowledge of the world and to avoid dogmatism. Kant states that dogmatism is “the dogmatic procedure of pure reason without previous criticism of its own powers,”while the dogmatic procedure is “strict demonstration from sure principles.

” ” In transcendental idealism criticism is paramount because it is the “necessary preparation for a thoroughly grounded metaphysics” which is also subject to the dogmatic procedure (Second Preface). The skeptic is the response to the failure of dogmatism. Skepticism denies knowing realities or objects not necessarily given by or derived from experience. In other words, skepticism denies a metaphysical world because such a world cannot be supplied by sense-impressions. He rejects transcendatnal realism and embraces transcendental idealism.

With transcendental realism one cannot obtain “genuine knowledge”; that is, knowledge that carries necessity or universal truths and is substantive or verified by experiences. Transcendental realism seems to offer only contingent truths, not necessary truths. Kant believed that what rationalists, dogmatists, empiricists, and skeptics could not explain was the relationship between cause and effect or how one thing follows from another that does not involve the law of identity.

Transcendental idealism claims that the world does not exist independently of human subjectivity and that human though or perception effects the constitution of the world. In Kant’s view, the world would not exist at all if it were not for human subjectivity. He is able to have necessary knowlge of the world because, if the mind necessary imposes certain structures and restrictions on the world and if they are part of the world, it then follows that our experience of the world reveal necessary truth about the world.

While transcendental realism assumes that the subject fully understands the limitations of his mind and is able to adjust his mind to the object to understand the world as it actually exists or as things-in-themselves, transcendental idealism holds that the object must conform to the subject or mind. The reality of objects is real in so far as these objects are the appearances of actual things. Empirical sensible objects are only what they are because of the mind. He did this by proposing his “Copernican Revolution”, that is, the theory that objects conform to the mind rather than the other way around.

He called it ” Copernican Revolution” because Copernican Revolution in astronomy completely changed the relationship between such and the earth. Revolution rejected the traditional view that the sun revolved around the earth and claimed that the earth revolved around the sun. Kant’s revolution rejected the traditional view that knowledge revolves around the subject and claimed that that the knowledge determined by the world. Because the structure of human sensibility and of the human mind is constant, objects will always appear to us in certain ways.

He claims that the world is determined by knowledge and and a person has a knowelege of the world just because the world conforms to the one’s beliefs. 2) Explain Kant’s distinction between the two types of knowledge (a priori and a posteriori) and the two types of judgments (analytic and synthetic). Which knowledge-judgment combinations are possible for the transcendental realist? Why? Which are possible for the transcendental idealist? Why? By a posteriori Kant simply means empirical knowledge that is dependent on and derived from experience in the sense that experience can alter this type of knowledge.

It is strictly empirical and entails knowledge of specific objects of experience. In contradistinction to a priori knowledge, a posteriori knowledge is contingent and relative. Everything that is judged to be the case now relies on present experience. A posteriori knowledge cannot be used to understand past experiences, nor suppose future experiences for things might not have been as they are now nor do we know that they will be the same tomorrow. Hence a posteriori knowledge is experientially refutable.

Kant disagrees with the empiricists that all human knowledge or all concepts are derived from experience and he also did not accept the opposite theory of the dogmatic innate ideas. However, he did believe that there are concepts and principles which the reason derives from within itself on the occasion of experience. There is a type of knowledge that is strictly universal and necessary, underived and independent from sense-experience yet applies to and governs sense-experience. It is independent of experience in the sense that experience cannot alter this type of knowledge.

A person is not born with an idea of what time, space, or causality is. However, with experience, the mind’s reason derives these concepts. It is a type of knowledge that cannot be explained on empiricist principles because these concepts are empty of empirical content. Such is a priori knowledge. By a priori knowledge Kant does not mean knowledge that is relatively a priori; that is, in relation to this or that experience or to this or that kind of experience. Kant is thinking of knowledge that is a priori in relation to all experience.

He is not thinking about innate ideas here, supposed to be present in the human mind before experience in a temporal sense of the word “before”. A priori knowledge does not mean knowledge that is explicitly present in the mind before it has begun to experience anything at all. A priori means knowledge that is a type of a necessary and strictly universal knowledge, underived and independent from experience, even if this knowledge makes its appearance in our experience. A priori knowledge is something experientially irrefutable.

Any proposition in mathematics or physics is a knowledge that finds expression in necessary and strictly universal judgments. Kant stated: “That all our knowledge begins with experience there can be no doubt…But though all our knowledge begins with experience, it does not follow that it all arises out of experience. ” Kant agrees with the empiricists to the extent of saying that all our knowledge begins with experience. Our knowledge, he thinks, must begin with experience because the cognitive faculty must be brought into exercise by our senses being affected by objects.

Once we are given these sensations, the matter of experience, the mind can start to work. At the same time even if no knowledge is prior to experience, it is possible that the cognitive faculty can supply a priori elements from within itself on the occasion of these sensations. Kant agreed with Hume that we cannot derive necessity and strict universality from experience. In other words, empirical judgment always exhibits “assumed and comparative universality”, thus an exception to this or that rule.

It follows that necessity and strict universality are sure marks of a priori knowledge and are “inseparably connected with one another. ” That is, the rule “admits of no possible exception, it is not derived from experience. ” If one says that every event must have a cause, this judgment expresses a priori knowledge; that is, it is not simply an expression of a habit mechanically produced by an association of ideas, as Hume thought. For Kant, knowledge is not simply a generalization from my experience of particular cases, nor does it stand in need of confirmation by experience before its truth can be known.

For Kant, knowledge is a priori because it brings together the predicate and subject necessarily and universally yet substantively, which is experientially irrefutable, through the use of both a priori intuitions (space and time) and a priori concepts (the categories, including cause). For Kant, analytic judgments are those where any description (predicate) about a subject in a statement, is contained in the subject. An analytical judgment is that which the predicate is contained, at least implicitly, within the concept of the subject or belongs to the subject.

As Kant said: “Analytical judgments are therefore those in which the connection of the predicate with the subject is cogitated through identity. ” In analytical judgments the predicate does not add to the concept of the subject anything which is not already contained in it, explicitly or implicitly. It “only analyzes it into its constituent conceptions, which were thought already in the subject, although in a confused manner. ” Their truth depends on the principle of contradiction. Synthetic judgments are those where any description (predicate) about a subject in a statement, is not contained in the subject.

“The predicate lies completely out of the conception, although it stands in connection with it. ” Synthetic judgments are “those in which this connection is cogitated without identity” (Second Preface). Synthetic judgments affirm or deny of a subject a predicate which is not contained in the concept of the subject. They add something to the concept of the subject. They “add to our conceptions of the subject a predicate which was not contained in it, and which no analysis could ever have discovered therein.

” This connection may be purely factual and contingent and therefore is then given only in and through experience. And when this is the case, the judgment is synthetic a posteriori. This judgment is a result of a series of observations. Its universality is not strict but “assumed and comparative. ” It is a matter of contingent fact. However, that in which the connection between predicate and subject, though not knowable by mere analysis of the concept of the subject, is nonetheless necessary and strictly universal, is a synthetic judgment known as a priori.

For the transcendental realist, analytic a priori and synthetic a posteriori are possible knowledge-judgment combinations, while for the transcendental idealist in addition to these two there is synthetic a priori. There are no such judgments that are analytic a posteriori. It is not necessary to observe all birds, all cats, or all dogs in order to make the judgment that all birds, all cats, or all dogs are animals. We can point these things out by simply referring to the fact that the term bird, cat, or dog also has a meaning that includes being an animal.

The terms, due to the language, imply the truth of the saying, without reference to any experience. As Kant mentioned: “Judgments of experience are always synthetical. For it would be absurd to think of grounding an analytical judgment on experience, because in forming such a judgment I need not go out of the sphere of my conceptions, and therefore recourse to the testimony of experience is quite unnecessary. ” For transcendental realists, if a certain judgment is synthetic or substantive, then the knowledge must be a posteriori.

Synthetic judgments have factual content and go beyond the assigned meanings of the terms, that is, analytic judgments. Since they tell us something about the nature of the world, then it follows that any assertion about the world cannot be justified without reference to experience, that is, without it being a posteriori knowledge. The reason this is so is due to their opinion that one cannot derive necessary truths from one’s sense-experiences, only contingent truths, such as: all cats in group A are white.

It is perfectly conceivable that there could have been or there could later be cats in group A that are not white. There is no necessity or strict universality to such a statement. Leibniz and Hume call these truths of fact or matters of fact. In addition, if the knowledge is a priori, then the judgment must be analytic. A priori knowledge, or knowledge that is necessary and strictly universal, can only be valid if the judgment is analytic, that is, involves the clear relations of the terms.

The reason for this is that any necessary truth needs only to be thought about or analyzed into concepts in order for it to be true, since a contradiction is inconceivable. All cats are animals is an analytic judgment known as a priori because merely the thought of a cat can be broken down into the concept of an animal without reference to observing all cats. There is necessity and strict universality, but such statements are “vacuous” for Hume, or don’t tell us anything about the world. Leibniz and Hume call these truths of reason or relations of ideas.

For the transcendental realist, synthetic judgments known as a priori are not possible because it involves knowledge about the world (substantive knowledge) and is also necessarily true. Leibniz could not achieve this knowledge-judgment combination because of his belief in innate ideas, his rejection of the empirical realm, and his uncritical acceptance that the structure of the mind has the same structure as that of the rational world. Hume could not achieve this knowledge-judgment combination because of his opinion that a priori knowledge is “vacuous. ” In both cases, however, there is a sharp distinction between subject and object.

The transcendental idealist can hold a synthetic judgment known as a priori because knowledge can be both about the world (substantive) and necessarily true. It is possible because of the relationship that the subject and object hold together. The subject (the mind) interprets what the object (the world) gives it, thereby allowing for substantive and particular knowledge, and the object contains within it an order that the subject imposes upon it, thereby allowing for necessary and universal knowledge. In synthetic judgments known as a priori, the two elements of rationalism and empiricism are brought together.

The “form” represents the universal and necessary element, while “matter” represents the empirical sense-data. Therefore, synthetic a priori is universal and necessary due to its form and it is valid for the empirical world due to its matter. Kant elaborates on this point: “The effect of an object upon the faculty of representation, so far as we are affected by the said object, is sensation. That sort of intuition which relates to an object by means of sensation is called an empirical intuition. The undetermined object of an empirical intuition is called phenomenon.

That which in the phenomenon corresponds to the sensation, I term its matter; but that which effects that the content of the phenomenon can be arranged under certain relations, I call its form…It is, then, the matter of all phenomena that is given to us a posteriori; the form must lie ready a priori for them in the mind, and consequently can be regarded separately from all sensation” (Transcendental Aesthetic, Section 1). Both form and matter are necessary in order to have synthetic judgments known as a priori. By matter Kant means “corresponds to the sensation” and by form he means that which “can be arranged under certain relations.

” Form, though, itself cannot be a sensation if it is matter which corresponds to sensation. So, while matter is given a posteriori, form “must lie ready a priori. ” Kant agrees with the empiricists to the extent that human cognition of objects requires sensation. For Kant, the senses are acted upon by external things and the effect of this action upon the mind is called “sensibility. ” Sensibility is therefore subjective. However, for Kant, sense intuition cannot be reduced simply to a posteriori affects of our senses by objects, as is evidenced by space and time.

With Kant, any knowledge gained by synthetic a priori applies to the phenomenal world only. Synthetic judgments known as a priori cannot supply an understanding of objects as they exist in nature, that is, of the noumenal world. In so far as the subject thinks an object does there exist synthetic judgments known as a priori. This is why the transcendental idealist can hold synthetic judgments a priori, whereas transcendental realists cannot. 3) Explain Kant’s arguments to show that space is an a priori intuition (using both the metaphysical and transcendental expositions). How does this imply that space is transcendentally ideal?

Kant’s first two arguments reason that space is known a priori, while his third and fourth reason that space is an intuition or a particular object. Charles Parsons in the Cambridge Companion to Kant rightly identified four arguments for the metaphysical exposition of space: “The first argument claims that ‘space is not an empirical concept which has been derived from outer experiences’…The second argument claims that space is prior to appearances, in effect to things in space: ‘We can never represent to ourselves the absence of space, though we can quite well think it as empty of objects.

’…The third and fourth arguments of the Metaphysical Exposition are concerned to show that space is an intuition…Part of Kant’s claim, what is emphasized in the third argument, is that the representation of space is singular…Kant seems to be saying that when he begins the fourth argument with the statement, ‘Space is represented as an infinite given magnitude’” (p. 68-70). For there to be an order to our intuitions, they must have a “form” imposed on them, namely space and time.

For intuitions to be necessarily true, space and time must be founded upon a priori knowledge. Kant attempts to demonstrate that space, as well as time, is synthetic a priori. If space can be proved to be an a priori intuition or pure intuition (an experience that is universally true and substantive), then it must be synthetic a priori. The reason for this is that if intuition is an experience of an object and in which the object is intuited by the affect it has on our sensibility, then it must describe or provide knowledge about the world, that is, it must be synthetic.

Kant starts off with his metaphysical exposition of space with the statements: “Space is not a conception which has been derived from outward experiences…Space is a necessary representation a priori, which serves for the foundation of all external intuitions. We never can imagine or make a representation to ourselves of the non-existence of space, though we may easily enough think that no objects are found in it. ” Furthermore, space is not a “general conception of the relations of things, but a pure intuition.

” What Kant means is that one cannot derive the representation of space a posteriori or from the experience of external objects. One cannot represent external objects as possessing spatial relations except within space. Although we do not derive space from objects of experience, space is necessary and strictly universal in representing objects of experience. It is inconceivable to represent an object of experience without it being in space. To even speak of spatial objects is to presuppose space, as Kant’s first argument explains.

Hence, space is a priori. As noted before, intuitions relate immediately and therefore directly, while concepts are related to by thought and therefore indirectly. Since space is “never deduced from a general conception”, that is, we do not derive space from objects of experience, then it must be an intuition, which takes place in so far as the object is given to us. As we do not derive space from objects of experience and as space is experientially irrefutable, it is also a priori. Kant’s idea of “form” explains it succinctly.

By “form” Kant means the “pure form of sensuous intuition”, the a priori form of sensibility by which everything in the phenomenal world is “arranged under certain relations. ” It takes the form of two “pure intuitions”: space and time. This is where Kant parts with the empiricists because he believes that space and time are a priori elements in all sense-experience. The very lowest level of which anything could be called knowledge of objects involves relating to our sensations of the object.

However, it is impossible to relate to our sensations and to relate them to each other without relating them in space and time. If we are to refer objects to ourselves and in relation to each other, we must possess the knowledge of space and time in advance. To know of spatial or temporal objects, it is necessary to know what space and time is. We must be involved in relating one sensation to the other within space and time. When we think of any object, we think of it as in space and in time. No object can be presented without being in space and in time.

Space and time constitute the structure of which our sensations are ordered and arranged. It is experientially irrefutable that sensations of objects are ordered and arranged in space and time by the mind; hence space and time are a priori conditions of sense-experience. Kant moves on to explaining space, and time, as intuitions. The way we receive knowledge of space and time is through experience. Space and time are particular intuitions because if they were a concept we would understand them by simply thinking about them.

Though, how we apprehend space and time is not by the process of thought, but by the process of intuition, as a particular, that is to say, through experience. Space and time are particulars because particulars are known through experience or intuition, which is how we apprehend them. If space and time are not known conceptually or analytically (by thought alone), then they must be synthetic. Space and time are given in pure, not empirical, intuition and are therefore not created spontaneously by the mind, but instead the mind has the capacity to receive (sensibility/receptivity) them immediately.

Kant argues that space is not an empirical concept because “we can only represent to ourselves one space, and when we talk of diverse spaces, we mean only parts of one and the same space. ” Spaces and times are parts of space and time, of an individual thing, and as such must be known via experience. Consequently, any part of space or time reveals the entirety of space or time, that is, only one experience is necessary of space or time to know all of space or all of time.

This knowledge is not contingent because space and time are objectively true of the world, and any experience of any part of space or time is necessarily true of the whole world. As objects are given to us in experience, in space and time, the objects are appearances. However, in so far as the order and arrangement that we give our sensations in space and time is there activity by the mind, or as Kant said: “as determinations of the mind”, that is, they are subjective, they are dependent on the mind. The order and arrangement of sensations are products of our mind.

Space and time, though, are intuitive because of their immediate influence upon and relation to the mind. In the transcendental exposition of space, Kant uses geometry to make his point. Kant explains it this way: “By a transcendental exposition, I mean the explanation of a conception, as a principle, whence can be discerned the possibility of other synthetical a priori cognitions. ” Kant argues that geometry, which is synthetic a priori, can only be explained on the theory that space is an intuition and a priori.

Objects depend on space for their properties and without space they would have no properties, like shape and extension, at all. They would be nothing at all. In this way geometry would be impossible if space was not an intuition and a priori. Kant uses the analogy of the construction of a triangle: “It is possible to construct a figure with three straight lines. ” Now, I cannot deduce this from the concept of a straight line and of the number three. I have to construct the object or as Kant says “give yourself an object in intuition.

” This cannot be an empirical intuition because then geometry could not be necessary or universal. It must then be an intuition that is also a priori. It follows that the triangle cannot be a thing-in-itself because things-in-themselves do not appear to us. How can one construct an object in intuition? One can only do this on the condition that there is within one’s mind an intuition that is also a priori, “under which alone things can become external objects for you. ” The possibility of objects of external intuition is dependent upon the condition of space, which contains conditions a priori.

If space were not a form of intuition, if it did not possess an a priori character, then geometry and space as well would not hold necessarily or universally for all objects of external intuition since then geometry and space would be conditioned empirically. This is a completely untenable position; therefore, space must be transcendentally ideal, or mind-dependent. The same is true of time in regard to internal intuition. Space is empirically real and transcendentally ideal. It is empirically real in the sense that what is given in experience is in space.

Space is transcendentally ideal in the sense that space is only valid in the phenomenal world and not valid if considered apart from us or apart from sensibility. “The sphere of phenomena is the only sphere of their (space and time) validity,” as Kant said, meaning that they are not conditions of things-in-themselves. Objects, in relation to sensibility, cannot affect us if they are not represented in space, that is, if they are not in the phenomenal world since all knowledge begins in sensibility. Sensations, the simplest form of knowledge, must be located in space, that is, sensations must be placed into spatial order.

This order is not found in the sensations themselves, but in the mind. Kant himself says as much: “Now, how can an external intuition anterior to objects themselves, and in which our conception of objects can be determined a priori, exist in the human mind? Obviously not otherwise than in so far as it has its seat in the subject only…” 4) Explain Kant’s arguments to show that time is an a priori intuition (using both the metaphysical and transcendental expositions). How does this imply that time is transcendentally ideal? Kant’s metaphysical arguments for time resemble those that he gave for space.

Likewise, “time is not an empirical conception”; rather, time is “at the foundation of all our intuitions. ” We cannot represent objects to ourselves “as out of and unconnected with time, but we can quite well represent to ourselves time void of phenomena. ” Also as with space, time is not a “general conception, but a pure form of the sensuous intuition. ” Similarly as with space, one cannot derive the representation of time a posteriori. One cannot represent objects as existing simultaneously, successively, or previously unless the representation of time was already present.

To represent objects as such, it is necessary to think of them within time. As with space in which one can think away all external objects and still retain the representation of space, one can think away all internal states and yet the representation of time remains. As both space and time are intuitions, or an immediate relation to objects, they are also both particulars rather than universals (or concepts). If time were a universal, then it could be proved analytically or conceptually. Rather, time is a synthetic judgment. They are intuitions known a priori. They are influences upon the mind a priori.

This is to mean that although space and time are not derived from experience, they are nonetheless necessary conditions for perception, space being the means by which we perceive objects external to us or are represented as external to us and time being the means by which we perceive our internal states. We do not derive time from objects of experience, but time is necessary and strictly universal in representing objects of experience, as all experience must be assigned change and motion. It is inconceivable to represent an object of experience without it being in time. Hence, time is a priori.

Time is “the form of the internal sense, that is, of the intuitions of self and of our internal state” as well as “the formal condition a priori of all phenomena whatsoever” and space is “the pure form of external intuition” and “limited as a condition a priori to external phenomena alone,” as Kant explained. As we do not derive time from objects of experience and as time is experientially irrefutable, it is also a priori. To show that time is an intuition Kant argues that time is not an empirical concept because “different times are merely parts of one and the same time.

” As noted before, intuitions relate immediately and therefore directly, while concepts are related to by thought and therefore indirectly. Since time “cannot spring out of conceptions alone”, that is, we do not derive time from objects of experience, then it must be an intuition, which takes place in so far as the object is given to us. In the transcendental exposition of time, Kant uses the idea of change and motion, “as change of place”, to make his point. He argues that change and motion would be incomprehensible and impossible to explain if time was not an intuition and a priori.

The difference between the inner sense (time) and the outer sense (space) for Kant was that objects of outer sense were not necessarily part of the stream of consciousness, while objects of inner sense were by necessity part of it. Objects of outer sense, though, had the possibility to fall within the stream of consciousness since objectivity is a function of subjectivity. That is to say, while both outer and inner objects are in time, inner objects alone (the self, consciousness) are found only in time: “Time, therefore, is not to be regarded as an object, but as the mode of representation of myself as an object.

” Without the condition of time I would not be able to intuit myself and everything that I represent to myself, as change itself would never make its appearance. Time is therefore a determination of inner appearances. The reality of my internal state, the reality of a sense of consciousness, must belong in time. It forms the very foundation of all our experiences.


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