(NOTE: You must read only
those linked materials that are preceded by the capitalized word READ.)
Images of Kant:
Introduction to Kant and
by Tom Kerns
overview of Kant by
reading all sections until you reach Kant’s Ethics
For Kant there is :
act of the mind
To account for this and
our relation to being, Kant postulates that there must exist rules for
thoughts, which he calls CATEGORIES that are innate and necessary for
UNDERSTANDING. Without such
rules operating there is no way to account for our knowledge of such ideas
/cause and effect/ possibility/necessity/reality
Knowledge has both form
Form or structure of Knowledge
of reality- reason -CATEGORIES-
part of the way in which the mind operates
Content of the knowledge of
reality - provided
through the senses
So, IDEAS CONSTITUTE OUR
But, there is a
fundamental distinction to be made of two types of KNOWLEDGE
- KNOWLEDGE of the thing as it appears
through our senses as filtered by the brain-phenomena
possible and what we generally call knowledge of the world
- KNOWLEDGE of the thing as it is in itself
not possible for humans can never get beyond or away from the categories
of the understanding which shape and influence all that the human
experiences because humans can never think without using the mind -brain
and thus involving its structure and manner of operating..
For Kant humans will never know things as they are
in themselves because humans can never think without their brains and the
brains are so structured as to provide for arrangements and ordering and
connecting elements for human thought to occur.
It is as if the humans must always see things through colored
glasses because they cannot remove them.
Therefore the universe will always appear through the tinting of
those glasses. Humans will never know how the universe actually looks.
Humans may get close but can not experience the thing itself directly.
How do we acquire ideas?
Kant combines ideas of the
rationalists and the empiricists.
How is knowledge
organized in the mind?
Mind introduces new
principles of order into experience and arranges and stores and tests
arrangements and tests the efficacy of those ideas and arrangements.
all propositions are
a priori empirical
I. Analytic a
priori: e.g. math,
II. Analytic empirical
III. Synthetic a priori:
categories, rules, principles
part of perception
part of thought
IV. Synthetic empirical: all physical claims- this includes all of the sciences.
Kritik der reinen Vernunft
or the Critique of Pure Reasont
View: Dr. Richard Brown on Kant
and the Synthetic a priori
noumena and phenomena
Kant’s contributions of the distinction of types of
knowledge and of the role played by the order of the brain remain a
dominating influence over thinking about epistemological issues to this
Kant is considered to be one of the world's greatest philosophers. In his
account of epistemological theory of knowledge, called transcendental
idealism, he claimed that “the mind of the knower makes an active
contribution to experience of objects before us”. He meant that whatever
we already know through our experience makes it easier for us to acquire
new means of knowledge. Accordingly, Kant specified two
sources of our knowledge, which are the mind’s receptive capacity
(sensibility), and the mind’s conceptual capacity (understanding). He
thought that it would be impossible for people to have any experience of
objects, which are not placed in space and time. These conditions of
sensibility are due to our consciousness, which must “apprehend objects
as occupying a region of space and persisting for some duration of
time”. However, sensibility by itself doesn’t make judging objects
possible. It takes also understanding, which provides the concepts, the
rules for determining what is “common or universal in different
representations”. He said, “without sensibility no object would be
given to us; and without understanding no object would be thought.
Thoughts without content are empty; intuitions without concepts are
blind”. He meant that in order to think about some object it takes
understanding, which assigns concepts, based on the object’s sensation
input, to identify what is common and general about it.
empirical derivation discussed above is not sufficient to explain all of
the concepts that arise in the human life, such as causation, substance,
self, identity, space, time, etc. It’s due to the fact that these
concepts are products of our experience, which is constituted by ideas.
Therefore, “Kant postulates that there must exist rules for thoughts,
which he calls Categories that are innate and necessary for
understanding” all of the concepts. In addition to mind’s conceptual
contribution to experience only that special set of concepts organized
into these fundamental categories of thought make empirical concepts and
judgments possible. Although these concepts cannot be experienced
directly, they are present when particular judgments of objects take
place. Plus, “since objects can only be experienced spatio-temporally,
the only application of concepts that yields knowledge is to the
empirical...world”. Kant rejects any kind of knowledge that goes beyond
the bounds of sensation because there can be no objects for the
understanding to judge, rightly or wrongly. While Kant is a transcendental
idealist he believes the nature of objects as they are in themselves is
unknowable to us. However, the knowledge of appearance is...possible.
Therefore, knowledge of the things can never get beyond the categories of
understanding, which shape and influence all that the human experiences.
Accordingly, human will never know how the universe actually looks because
they aren’t able to think without any arrangement and order of elements.
Kant’s theory of knowledge combines rationalism and the empiricism in
his account to distinct types of knowledge and the principles of mind‘s
order. Andrzej Lagodzinski (QCC, 2001)