Tag Archives: hard

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.

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Bertrand Russell’s Role in Progressing Epistemology

16 Sep

I previously did not think it was necessary to talk about the blue spectacles and the hard/soft data here, but now I am aware it is needed. I now before this one have 2 writings about Bertrand Russell, and with search engines asking for Russell’s role in epistemology, my 2 writings came up but I am sure that those are not what the person asking that question is looking for. This writing is. The notice of that search bringing my site up is the reason for this writing, when really I should have talked about these things in the first place given that the blue spectacles are totally awesome.

I also have 2 writings on G.E. Moore where he talks about sense data and patches of it. I discussed how, because of this sense data, I like to view everything I see as a big portrait. I said this not only because of what Moore said but because of Russell’s blue spectacles he discussed in Our Knowledge of the External World.  Not only does he discuss the blue spectacles, but he discusses shutting an eye, walking around a table and other things, just to discuss sense data.  Why all of these things? Because  along with Moore, Russell wants to state that sense data is the only way of making understanding of our perceptions.  If I see a red tulip, normally I would think, ‘oh its just a tulip’, but it is necessary to break common sense ordinary observation statements down to sense data statements. If I see a red tulip, I say, a few red patches there, adjacent to each other, and an elongated green patch below.

I used an object to state my argument. Moore used an envelope. Russell used the blue spectacles. I like Russell’s object the best because it supports the way we should all view and understand our perceptions. If you stand still and view the table, you see a few brown and black patches. If you walk around the table, you see a different set of sense data to be interpreted. You do not think about what you saw before you moved, you only analyze what you see now. Russell’s blue spectacles are put on, and you see everything with a blue hue, so if you are looking at a sea shell, you do not think oh, a white and pink sea shell sits beyond these blue spectacles, you think ‘ oh, a blue sea shell.’ Or at least, that is how an epistemologist would think. If you put the blue spectacles over a large white marker board, you would not think about what lies behind the blue spectacles, you would only think,’oh a huge white patch with 2 blue patches within it.’

Put these on, and then observe!!!  I think we should view the world as a portrait because if I am observing my yellow envelope somewhat through a green Mountain Dew bottle and some not, I see 2 yellow patches and a greenish dull yellow patch. I do not inquire what lies behind the green bottle.

The other part of Russell’s epistemology that led to his great role in it, was his hard and soft data.  I need to explain some things before going right into hard and soft data. Russell said that thoughts are either logical, or psychological, and they are primitive or derivative. So if something is logically derivative it is something that takes logical process and inference to understand it. If an idea is logically primitive it is something logical that one knows without having to go through an actual process of understanding and inference.  If an idea is psychologically primitive it is an idea caused by a fact from the sense that is asserted by a belief and that we need no process to understand and that we immediately understand. If, finally, an idea is psychologically derivative it is caused by 1 or more beliefs or an idea  not asserted by the fact of sense and often takes a process to understand because of how it is not asserted by the fact. These 4 definitions can be intersected with each other to have meanings of certain things

First, logically primitive, and psychologically primitive data cannot possibly be put together.

Second,  logically derivative, and psychologically derivative data can be put together. This is called nondata. For example, nondata is like electrons like to be next to protons. Nondata is not important and is arrived at by a lot of psychological and logical inference.

Third,  logically primitive, and psychologically derivative ideas can be put together to get soft  data Soft data is immediately inferred by logic, but takes more than just immediate observation to infer its existence. Soft data would be like when Russell walked around the table, and when more than one observation occurred (making psychologically derivative intuitions), yet he knew the table was still there with the many observations.

Fourth and finally,  logically and psychologically primitive data can be put together to get hard data. This is what is discussed most in epistemology. It takes one immediate logical inference, and one immediate psychological belief to get it. When Russell used the blue spectacles, he saw 2 blue patches. It is hard data because it takes no more than 1 logical and 1 psychological intuitions to understand that there are 2 blue patches.

To discuss some of this, soft and hard data are the only important ones to epistemology. This is so because it is often discussed if certain hard data can be proven wrong. Hard data can be said to be so hard because it involves immediate logic and immediate sense data. Russell discusses in ‘Our Knowledge of the External World’ that the hardest data is made up of 2 things: logic, and sense data. If the two can be inferred, you have hard data. Hard data for the most part cannot be disproved to be there. If there is a blue patch here, and we are immediately observing it, there is little one can do to disprove it, even if he declares your hallucination. Soft data can often be disproved because when Russell walked around the table, it can be postulated that the table no longer exists after that first sense data after he moves, and that new sense data of another item is present.

The above is Russell’s big role in epistemology. If you need more clarification of his philosophy read ‘Our Knowledge of the External World’ by Bertrand Russell.