Tag Archives: critique

Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: Transcendental Aesthetic

29 Oct

This should be just a quick discussion. Transcendental aesthetic to Kant is the study of all intuitions a priori. The transcendental aesthetic is a beginning section of the Critique of Pure Reason where discussions about a priori and a posteriori arise. Given the distinction between a priori and a posteriori, the distinction between analytic and synthetic are also given.

Expositions (transcendentally and metaphysically) are given of space and time. This is done by Kant to evaluate the two based on a priori or otherwise status. I have discussed the space and time and understood by Kant in other  posts, but here I specifically want to discuss a priori, and its pairing with the analytic or synthetic. I cannot specifically remember what I said in those two writings, but again that matters to what I want to talk about. It matters to Kant because it helps in discussion of the nature of a priori intuitions. During the expositions of time and space, they both are identified as having to be of the a priori. Space, Kant says, has to be a priori (analytic) because it does not have to be understood or known by empirical observations, because it cannot be understood the instance where space is not existent, and finally because space underlies all other (namely a posteriori) intuitions. Time is a priori because it is not empirical, and because it is naturally understood. Both space and time are a priori because they are pure forms of sensible intuitions. Space is external, and underlies intuitions of external appearances (cannot remember what Kant’s general understanding of what specifically appearance is, but this is the way I understand it), and is also a priori for that reason. Time is internal and is itself not a concept, therefore it is a priori for another reason. I am leaving reasons for the a priori nature of space and time out, specifically (I keep continuing to specifically use this word in a specific manner specifically) because I am thinking mostly about analytic a priori, and if it is possible for a priori to be synthetic. If you want a more detailed guide to the transcendental aesthetic in its entirety go here:  http://userpages.bright.net/~jclarke/kant/element1.html This link is of a website that contains a huge outline of the entire Critique of Pure Reason, and the link above is just an outline to the transcendental aesthetic. This is a great resource for anyone reading the book or its parts. I do not understand Kant or any other philosopher sometimes, and need a guide.

Having gone deep into space and time and why they are a priori, I have not even defined a priori, so I apologize to those who do not know Kant’s work, or a priori vs. a posteriori intuitions at a all. Before even going into a priori, like Locke, Wittgenstein, Hume, and Berkeley (I think?? haven’t read a whole lot of Berkeley), Kant has a chain or system of how ideas get into being a concept. Sensibility is “the capacity to obtain representations through the way in which we are affected by objects.” Sensibility is the capacity to gain ideas and perception (a not word not used here by Kant, so I apologize for loving that word) from what we see in objects. “Objects are given to us by means of our sensibility.” “Sensibility alone supplies us with intuitions. These intuitions are thought through the understanding, and from the understanding there arise concepts.”  So sensibility gives us intuitions, and with our understanding we build those up into concepts. Appearance by Kant is “the undetermined object of an empirical intuition.” This gives you a general foundation for how Kant views our ideas, or namely intuitions, and how we get them.

Thinking about intuitions (between sensibility and concepts), an a priori intuition is one that can be had without empirical observation. A priori, I think is a hard thing to grasp. When one does not empirically observe things, that person must be in pre-infancy, where there is an intuitive sensible mind, yet empirical observations because of surroundings and stage in brain development cannot be intuited. When thinking about a priori, I think of a thinking pre-infant person in the womb. Returning to Kant’s expositions of space and time, I think a pre-infant would have some notion of space and time. If, for some reason, the placenta was cut off from the pre-infant for even an infinitesimal amount of time, and was not fed, I think it would recognize that it has been awhile since it was nourished with what it is normally nourished with. Space, I think, is not something directly intuited by a pre-infant, but it is something granted, just like time is granted by it in most other occasions besides the one just mentioned.  Besides space and time, I cannot think of anything a priori. A priori is probably intuitions that are barely intuitions and are things we take for granted without taking into consideration. That brings me into the distinction between things analytic and synthetic.

Analytic intuitions (or ideas, or thoughts) I describe as the snap of a finger. Something being understood without having to go through logical process to understand it. Analytic intuitions are granted without much need of verification or clarification. The analytic I like to compare to Bertrand Russell’s hard data in that hard data involves logically primitive and psychologically primitive thoughts. Hard data is solidified into one’s reason where no psychological or logical process of understanding. verification, or clarification is needed. The analytic is logically primitive and psychologically primitive to speak in Russell’s terms.

Synthetic intuitions are those that require the said logical and/or psychological processes of understanding, verification, and clarification to be had. Bringing Russell in to the discussion again, his definition of soft data I think corresponds the the synthetic. Soft data for Russell is logically primitive intuitions, and psychologically derivative intuitions, where one again has to go through many processes to intuit the data. The synthetic, I think is different from soft data in that I think there are some things logically derivative in synthetic that are not automatically granted.  In any sense, the synthetic is unlike the analytic in that many processes must take place to understand it. The analytic requires none of those to be understood simply because analytic intuitions are understood in the snap of 2 fingers.

Knowing what a priori (forgot to say that a posteriori are intuitions that come about by empirical observation, but it matters not, since a posteriori is not the issue to be discussed in my case), analytic and synthetic are, we can discuss a priori together with analytic and synthetic. Analytic a priori is thought by most to be the only a priori. Referring back to the status of a pre-infant where time and space are intuited a priori. Time is analytic because no process is needed to understand it and other intuitions can be built on top of it during the possibility of a posteriori intuitions. Space is analytic because no process (logical or psychological) is needed to understand and grant it immediately. Just think about it right now: can you describe, exemplify, or even think about any synthetic a priori intuitions?

Kant discusses several arguments for synthetic a priori, but when really thinking about it, I cannot justify a synthetic a priori.  Many have thought about this, and most other conclusions are the same. There is no synthetic a priori. A synthetic intuition, needing the processes of verification clarification and understanding to fully grasp it and its intentions, cannot really take place without some kind of empirical intuition. A priori leaves one with only foundations of full concepts, and with only the foundations, a logical, psychological, verificatory, clarificatory, or understanding process cannot take place. For any intuition to be synthetic, it must have some empirical observation or appearance to deal with, and to possibly build up to concepts. Therefore, the only synthetic intuitions are a posteriori intuitions.

This has been said an infinite amount of times. This writing was me just explaining the transcendental aesthetic to myself and any other readers for my/your personal benefit. I just was throwing around some ideas to think about the distinction between a posteriori and a priori.

Thanks for the support as always.


Immanuel Kant Critique of Pure Reason: Noumena?

2 Sep

Again I write something about Kant’s awesome Critique of Pure Reason, because it is simply awesome, and I should stop saying/writing the word awesome. Awesome. This part of the book is the Transcendental Doctrine of Faculty and Judgement aka Analytic of Principles in the third chapter. This chapter makes the distinction between phenomena and noumena. Phenomena is a wide known thing that is justified to exist, but noumena however can be claimed by epistemologists and other philosophers as to be nonexistent.  It is noumena that I wish to take up for discussion, and claim that it does in fact exist regardless of a philosophical principle’s qualification to have logic within it. I do, however, have some logic to put within it however.

First, I want to describe and discuss phenomena so that I can contrast it with the main topic of discussion in noumena.  Phenomena defined by Kant is this: “…objects of a possible experience…” (Kant).  Phenomena has sense data and has all properties of something that we see. Phenomena is justified by epistemologists and philosophers to exist because of its sense data and of its analytic nature. We can perceive it and not have to go through any thought process to know that it exists and to understand its nature. Noumena is just the opposite.

Noumena is defined by Kant as the following: “….of a thing which must be cogitated not as an object of sense, but as a thing in itself (solely through the pure understanding), is not self-contradictory, for we are not entitled to maintain that sensibility is the only possible mode of intuition” and “by the term noumenon, we understand a thing so far as it is not an object of our sensuous intuition, thus making abstraction of our mode of intuiting it..” (Kant).  So in essence noumena (noumenon in the singular sense) is the exact opposite of phenomena in that phenomena is intuited by sense, while noumena is not. Epistemologists discredit noumena right there because it cannot be perceived of the senses. One thing I also find amazing is that Kant is so bold as to state that we arent entitled to state that senses are our only way of intuiting things. Things that count as noumena are intuited based on pure understanding.

When I think of noumena as having faith that a certain thing that we cannot sense exists. Now, I do  not want to make this writing into a transition into telling everyone that you have to believe in God, even though that you do. I do not want this writing to go that way because about 50% of my other writings do just that. First, I want to talk about noumena in the sense Kant talked about  it in that sense does not have to be the only means that we intuit something. I also want to map out a few things that reside within noumena. Also, I want to discuss why philosophers of the epistemological variety state noumena to be a jibberish philosophical term.

What resides as a part of the noumena  are things that are vague and ambiguous but there are things that we can know by analytic deduction to exist just by pure understanding as Kant said it. I want to discuss God in this nature, however I want to loosely discuss Him as a higher power even if I think He is more than just a higher power. We can for sure know that  a higher power exists within this world even if one is not perceived. We do perceive with sense data the world and processes around us, and with all the great things this is, our pure understanding leads us to a source for all this, and that source is a higher power. A higher power is within the noumena because we cannot perceive with sense data this power, but we have enough pure understanding even with observation to have an intuition for His existence. Even if some people deny this purely understood intuition, we all have it, and that puts the higher power in the noumena. I will go into further the means that we have this pure understanding and why we put so much into it. The higher power is the most thing disputed to exist, and to be a part of the noumena, but a plethora of other things exist that are within the noumena. One smaller example would be that there is a molten core in the center of the earth. Has anyone gone inside the earth to see this core? No. That makes this core noumena because we have not perceived it with sense data. However with pure understanding and with other phenomena, we have justified for sure that this core exists. Basically anything that we have not perceived as phenomena, yet claim to existence is noumena and other examples could be elaborated upon, but  I believe I have exemplified this mystical noumena.

Epistemology claims that one has great evidence for the existence of a thing based on what sense data is perceived. If there is no sense data or sensory impressions, there is little evidence for its existence. These kind of philosophers put great faith in the phenomena because of the sense data these things set forth. The noumena however as stated by Kant is greatly discredited by these  (especially positivist) philosophers because it has no evidence for existence, and the justification for its existence is pure jibberish.  The positivists created a system of  justifying the truth  of certain things, Rudolf Carnap being one of them. Noumena does not pass the qualifications for the following test system but I am coming to a circumvention of this test system:

Positivist Verification Conditions

Justification conditions  =  Meaning conditions = Truth conditions


Verification conditions

If you can justify the truth of something (in its existence or of another truth) you are able to have evidence for it. Carnap and the positivists held great bearing in evidence for the truth of things, and evidence ultimately leading to justification. The equal signs mean that if you have this, then you have this , then you have this.  Meaning conditions include if what you say mean something within what the rest of the world, or things immediately around it are. If it means something, it can be branched out the the other condition categories. Normally this test goes left to right, because if you have either justification with evidence, or meaning in what you discuss, you have truth but only if they all cohesively work together. If you just have meaning or justification and you cannot branch to the other 2 condition categories, something is wrong and you have to go see if what you have is really truth or if you have to revise something. If you can cohesively get one then 2 and 3 of these things, you have verification of truth of what you discuss.  I present Carnap and the positivists ( mostly Carnap)  verification conditions because this is a counterargument against metaphysical noumena, and why it cannot be surely stated to exist. The epistemologists have had a long train of thinkers against jibberish metaphysics (I however do not think that metahpysics is jibberish) has gone for a long run including Wittgenstein (not to mention him again) and the Vienna Circle where Moritz Schlick and other scientists got together to talk philosophy against the metaphyisicians.  I am strongly against this antimetaphysical train of thought.

My counterargument against these anti metaphysical is that there are 2 ways that we can justify the existence of the noumena. First, phenomena that occur intermittently around us point towards certain things that we cannot see with sense data within our perceptions. For one example, like my example before, we know that there is a core in the earth because of massive magnetic polar charges on the poles of the earth, volcanoes and earthquakes, seismic waves, and because of certain minerals that are not normal on the crust. All of these things point to a different material on the inside of the earth that is in fact molten, and must lie inside the earth. All of these phenomena were not us perceiving the sense data of the core, but they were phenomena that were random and intermittent that all when tested together point toward this molten core. Going back to the higher power, we see the sun, a baby born, the earth processes, eclipses, the other planets, a cell enduring mitosis, and many other things that can not have been caused by chance. All of these phenomena point toward noumena. The simultaneous phenomena around us when collectively observed are often studied together to point towards another hypothesis and even a theory about the collective cause for these things, even when the cause of all these things are not perceived with sense data. Basically phenomena can often point toward undiscovered noumena.

Second often because phenomena point toward noumena, we have faith. Kant stated that noumena is understood with pure understanding, and that we must have another method for intuition than sensory impressions. Seeing does not always have to be believing.  With all of the phenomena that point toward noumena, we have faith in the noumena being there because we have assurance in it. God does not appear before us to help us in life, but intermittent things happen that help us out, and that can be related toward God’s presence. Faith is a self described term, and noumena are the things we must have faith in after observing surrounding noumena and making a purely understanding decision about it.

The above 2 things sort of go into each other. They both fit into Kant’s statement that we must have a different way to intuit things than sense. I totally agree with his recognizing noumena, and we must rely on senses less and pure understanding more.

Thanks for the support, and I hope I was understanding enough for you to rethink a few things.

Immanuel Kant Critique of Pure Reason: The Transcendental Logic I (Logic in General)

10 Aug

Kant’s book Critique of Pure Reason contains in it the Transcendental Doctrine of Elements which has the landmark concepts of time, space, transcendental logic, among other things including the concept of a priori intuitions. In the first part On logic in general, Kant talks about certain intuitions along with the sensibility all pointing towards the qualifications for an intuition to be a priori. This Transcendental Doctrine is one of the things making Critique of Pure Reason one of Kant’s amazingly thought provoking and amazing books.

First in this part on logic, Kant talks about reception of representations and faculty for cognizing an object by means of these representations.  Reception of representations is our nature of being given representations of the world. We are given these things without much thought being necessary to achieve them. The faculty for cognizing an object comes to us through our thought and contemplation upon the representations we receive. This faculty for cognizing comes to us only through our thought of things, and are not given to us as the representations are. Kant states these fact to lead up to his distinction of intuitions between those that are empirical and pure. Empirical cognitions are those that have sensation contained in them. Pure cognitions are those without any sensational involvement. Kant goes on to say that only pure cognitions are a priori, and empirical cognitions are a posteriori.  From this he goes on to talk about understanding and what it is made up of: “If we call the receptivity of our mind to receive representations insofar as it is affected in some way sensibility, then on the contrary the faculty for bringing forth representations itself, or the spontaneity of cognition, is the understanding” (Kant). Receptivity being the ability of our mind to receive representations that are affected by sensibility is not that complex of a process, but understanding involves more thought and is therefore more complex. The faculty for “thinking of objects of sensible intuition on the contrary, is the understanding. The logic used towards the understanding is then divided into general and particular logic in use of the understanding. General logic is logic used for understanding that is the basic absolutely necessary rules of thinking. The particular logic for the use of understanding is the rules for thinking about a certain kind of objects or thoughts. General logic is further divided between pure and applied logic. Pure logic being logic of understanding dealing with particularly a priori principles. Applied logic being understanding for the sensible and psychological purpose because of the sensibility involved. The empirical, pure, general and applied can be crossed with each other to have different logic and understanding. Kant’s main proposition of this part of the book: “A general but pure logic therefore has to do with strictly a priori principles,  and is a canon of understanding…” (Kant).

I explain the above because it is my opinion that sensibility clouds propositions and judgement creating the need and therefore existence of some a priori logic and understanding. Empirical applied logic and understanding  is in my opinion corrupted by sensibility. The senses we have govern too much our logic and understanding, when we should not rely very  much upon them. I believe Kant felt the same about senses and sensibility because of the fact that he made sure that a priori logic only included that which had no sensibility. I do not choose to discredit  sensibility totally, but it clouds judgement away from the real and the truthful because of how our brains are complex enough to make things appear different from what they really are.  If there were no  a priori principles we would be lost in this world and all of us would resort to  foolish philosophies (like solipsism, and atheism if I may say so). If there were no canon of understanding we would be so lost that we would not be able to come back from it. There are reasons we cannot have all a priori knowledge, but we cannot succeed in the world without some of this a priori knowledge. I think that Kant called a priori principles general and pure because of how the sensibility corrupts logic and gives it impurities. This canon of understanding is what helps us have the ability to sort through the corrupt and false principles and understand what is true and real. I appreciate Kant for making the distinction between these logical distinctions. This philosophy endorses what the Christians believe about the knowledge God means for us to have while on this earth. We are given just enough knowledge to find our way, but there is enough possibly corrupted sensible empirical knowledge to lead us astray.

Thanks for the support. @Reply on Twitter, comment below, or email at cosmosuniversez@yahoo.com to talk about your opinions, and if you think I am wrong in believing this.