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Immanuel Kant’s Philosophy of Knowledge and Judgement Essay (Critical Writing)

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Why Kant thinks the possibility of knowledge of an objective realm reduces the possibility of synthetic a priori judgments

Kant’s notion on the possibility of knowledge of an objective realm reducing to the possibility of a priori synthetic judgment is explained by his interest in necessary truth, the theory of a priori, and necessity. Kant’s assertion that “if a proposition is thought along with its necessity, it is an a priori judgment; if it is, moreover, also not derived from any proposition except one that in turn is valid as a necessary proposition, then it is absolutely a priori” (Bird 153-57), depicts that his interest was in the kind of synthetic judgment like a priori, judgment of mathematics and physics, and of metaphysics with the content of knowledge (Pereboom 89-94).

Except for judgments Kant separates, those of metaphysics with knowledge content lack real knowledge, and if knowledge is present, it is likely obtained by a priori. His perception of what knowledge is was more restricted thus deepening his reason for choosing a priori knowledge. This is because genuine knowledge cannot exist till its contingent features are known. Kant’s perception that experience teaches us things which can turn to otherwise depict that judgments, propositions, known a priori (in part) are likely to contain genuine knowledge, hence the reason behind his emphasis on synthetic judgments that are a priori (Pereboom 88-90).

Kant explores the possibility of knowledge of an objective realm reducing to the possibility of a priori synthetic judgments by summarizing questions behind the critique of pure reason. He suggests that analytic-synthetic judgments inform nothing new and are achieved by drawing from the contents of our concepts and adding resultant propositions inferentially into arguments. Hence they do not readily tell anything new and if they do, they lack something to test for truth or falsity. This is depicted by Kant’s use of “though in” and “though confusedly” and his suggestion that the existence of concepts of things is no mark of their existence (Pereboom 88-90).

What Kant means by the claim that space is the a priori form of outer intuition

Kant claims that “the only manner in which our knowledge may relate to objects immediately is by means of an intuition”. Therefore Intuition only occurs when we have an object affecting our mind. Kant suggests that although intuitions come before experience, they act as contributors to knowledge. According to Kant, the possibility of knowledge and experience require understanding hence “thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind” (Barbet 10).

A form is what the contents of an object can be arranged into and it “lies ready a priori for them in the mind” (Bird 157). Kant, in the ‘Transcendental Doctrine of the Elements’, refers to a priori to mean knowledge which is obtained without experience or sensible awareness.

According to Kant, sensibility is the ability to receive external objects’ representations sensibly including mental components or states of cognition. Kant achieves through the use of two kinds of intuition, space, and time, which slightly and sensibly belong to a person’s apparatus of perception (Barbet 3-9). Time translates to inner sensibility and space to outer sensibility (outer intuition) (Bird 155).

Kant perceives a ‘form’ using loose thoughts of a lens-type or in-built sieve, hence it is in the lens/built-in sieve (‘form’) that data from senses must pass. He ultimately perceives sensual intuitions as empirical (Anschauungen) or Empfindungen (sensations) and comprising the ‘matter’ of how things appear (Erscheinungten), hence aspects of time and space act as contributors to these appearances in terms of their ‘form’ (Bird 150-60).

Space refers to a form of all phenomena where outer intuition is only possible and therefore according to Kant, space is a “pure intuition or absolutely a priori representation”. Kant argues that “The representation of space must already be presupposed in order for certain sensations to be referred to something outside me.We can never have a representation of there being no space, even though we are quite able to think of there being no objects encountered in it. Hence space must be regarded as the condition for the possibility of appearances” (Bird 154)

Kant thinks subjective judgments (judgments about how things seem/appear to me) presuppose objective judgments (judgments about how things actually are, independent of how they seem to me). Why does he think this?

Kant claims that subjective judgments presuppose objective judgments especially when it comes to taste judgments which rely on the subjective principle and have a universal force. What we consider pleasant or unpleasant is based on feelings according to subjective principles and not concepts (Bird 153-57). In the Critique of the Power of Judgment exploring the ‘beautiful’, Kant brings out the ‘a priori’ character of taste judged as an item of a necessary satisfaction (Bird 153-57).

This aesthetic judgment (known to be subjective and non-conceptual) being necessary contradicts the idea of necessity being abstract and conceptual. Kant claims that “[T]his necessity is of a special kind: not a theoretical objective necessity, where it can be cognized a priori that everyone will feel this satisfaction in the object called beautiful by me, nor a practical necessity, where by means of concepts of a pure will” (Critique of the Power of Judgment, 5:237).

A priori claim possesses universality as well as necessity hence it is necessary to get pleasure from a beautiful thing. There is no epistemic basis for this and Kant urges us to distinguish real pleasure from claimed pleasure from a beautiful item (Critique of the Power of Judgment, 120-25). However, in aesthetic judgment, pleasure from an object said to be beautiful becomes something that should be approved by all (Bird 150-60).

This is depicted in Kant’s claim that “In all judgments by which we declare something to be beautiful, we allow no one to be of a different opinion, without, however, grounding our judgment on concepts, but only on our feeling, which we, therefore, make our ground not as a private feeling, but as common sense” (Critique of the Power of Judgment, 5:239). Such a principle of general approval and acceptability can only be via common sense since all people possess similar cognitive capacities. Kant views common sense as an avenue of everyone’s external senses and a power for judgment especially in aesthetics based on our feelings (Bird 150-60).

Universally necessary feelings are based on objective mental states, not subjective desires. Kant relies on the presupposition of common sense based on the objective mental state to bring out aesthetic judgment as necessary judgment (Critique of the Power of Judgment, 111). Before accepting universally communicable knowledge, we should agree that our mental state is universal. Therefore, mental processes in aesthetic judgments are similar in everyone and based on a similar subjective principle (Critique of the Power of Judgment, 113-21).

What does Kant mean by a category? Briefly explain why he thinks that categories are involved in every judgment

In the Kantian point of view, a concept or idea which is pure of understanding is referred to as a category. The Kantian approach to categories depicts them as having characteristics of any other general object in terms of appearance. According to Kant, pure concepts or categories regarding understanding are applicable to general objects of intuition. The Kantian category refers to the aspect of the possibility of things in general and not specific or particular objects.

Kant refers to a “category” to mean an attribute that can be predicated about something and logical employment of categories is depicted the way they are used as object predicates, hence Kant referred to them as “ontological predicates” (textetc.com par.6). Kant’s meaning of category is almost an appreciation of the Aristotelian approach, which asserted that categories or predicates can be asserted of anything in general (textetc.com par.5-8).

According to Kant, one thinks of his experiences as belonging to their own consciousness, and possibility of the experience is enhanced by nonconformity to categories. A person must also suppose existence of a “transcendental object” or an object which Kant calls “X” (real existing objects before a person experiences them and to which their representations are referred to in line with “rules” depicted in Kant’s quote that “it is not itself an object of knowledge, but only the representation of appearances under the concept of an object in general — a concept which is determinable through the manifold of those appearances” (Bird 130).

Kant suggests that humans can have thought and knowledge in their understanding which ascertains spoken and written judgement about particular things. Hence he perceived that people’s ability to judge is equivalent and related to ability of thought. Therefore he inferred that qualities or attributes about objects contribute to thoughts and ultimately judgments (textetc.com par.1-5). Kant’s perception of involvement of categories in judgment is influenced by traditional and Aristotelian categories of logic. His approach is also influenced by using pure reason which depicts removal of all empirical content. Therefore according to Kant, “time and space do not qualify as categories of understanding but as media where impressions are received” (textetc.com par.5-9).

Explanation of the First paragraph of SS16 for the Reprinted Transcendental Deduction

Kant attempts to depict synthesis of ideas and refute associationism by means of a two-pronged mechanism. The process of ordering of mental states largely encompasses processes of synthesis which refers to joining different representations (which Kant calls “a manifold”) and grasping the manifold component in them in a single cognition, and employing concepts as modes under which representations are ordered (Bird 157-63). This is depicted in his quote that “all sensuous intuitions are subject to categories, as conditions under which alone the manifold content of them can be united in one consciousness” (Critique of Power of Judgement 112)

Kant’s important argument (as per the quote above) is the argument of ability of categories to synthesize human representations. The subject is important in mental processing and it is different in terms of its representations. This is because understanding is a consequence of categories which provide synthesis (Bird 159). According to Kant, associations, unlike synthesis, do not have enough resources to explain aspects of consciousness of the self. He establishes different features of principles regarding necessary unity of apperception and extends to a priori synthesis by explanations of grasp of self consciousness (Bird 153-57).

Apperception is mental state apprehension in terms of one’s own representations hence Kant perceives that a person’s apperception enjoys unity since representations have to be grounded in pure apperception thorough self identity in all representations (Bird 150-60). Kant asserts that object perception lacks collections of representations and intuitions are distinct from the self, which gives the perception that intuitions are not components of the subject and the implausible interpretation that the self merely comprises collections of concepts.

In addition, Kant’s attribution of the self’s lack of inner intuition of the subject contradicts the perception of the subject being a collection of representations. Kant maintains that self intuition of representations can be achieved by inner sense hence the notion that purity of apperception is not intuition of the subject. Therefore, a person’s representations are attributed and represented as an object in ‘a priori’ way (Bird 154-68).

Works Cited

Textetc.com-Analysis of Kant’s Philosophy. Textetc Philosophies. 2000. Web.

Barbet, Anthony. Philosophical Connections. Compiled Philosophies. N.p.. 2000. Web.

Bird, Graham. Kant’s Theory of Knowledge. New York: Humanities Press, 1973. Print.

Critique of Power of Judgement. Philosophy Official Site. 1999. Web.

Pereboom, Denis. Assessing Kant’s Master Argument. Kantian Review, 5 (2000): 80- 120. Web.

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