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The Theory of Knowledge by Immanuel Kant Term Paper

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Many philosophers presented rationalism and empiricism as two opposite schools before Immanuel Kant combined knowledge about these studies and created his own Theory of Knowledge. The reason for this synthesis was in imperfection that Kant saw in both dogmas. However, this combination of two opposite schools did not mean just a simple adoption of views and implementation of those views into a new theory.

Both empiricists and rationalists had disagreements in their main views. One of them was about thinking about substances and their amount: some philosophers thought that there is just one substance exists, some thought there are many. There were others, who thought there is none. However, the main disagreement between schools was about the role of experiences and senses. While rationalists emphasized the role of senses, empiricists thought that our ideas should be obtained from experience. However, Kant did more than just combined those doctrines. He created his own system of Critical Philosophy, which combines certain elements of both theories and rejects some main views.

Main Kant’s idea was in the necessity of both reason and experience for human beings. He argued with empiricists about the fundamentalism of experience: while the last is very important for cognition, the reason is necessary for producing this experiment. However, Immanuel argued with rationalists as well and rejected some of their nonempirical reality ideas. Rationalists claim: “We have knowledge of certain entities, such as God, immortal soul, and substances underlying things’ properties that are not objects of any possible experience” (Dicker, 5). In other words, they deny even an idea of human knowledge in nonempirical reality. Kant agreed with them at some points:

Although we cannot know whether God exists, whether there is an immortal human soul, or whether humans have free will, we may believe in God, immortality and freedom. Furthermore, for purposes of action and morality, we ought to believe in them despite the fact that there is no way we can know whether these beliefs are true (Dicker, 4).

Immanuel Kant in his works also gives definitions for such terms as a priori analytic and synthetic. According to Kant’s point of view, in contrast to empirical knowledge, a priory is the knowledge that does not require any experience. He also emphasizes the importance of synthetic a priori judgments. In his opinion, Synthetic judgments are opposite to analytic and are not sufficient to decide the importance of proposition.

In his works, Kant shows mathematics and pure science as two fields of knowledge where synthetic priori judgments exist. Here, the term pure appears as a synonym to a priori. He claims that some laws in science are more than just logical deductions. They are synthetic and complicated. The same thing is about mathematics. Although all mathematic contains logical conclusions, it is based on synthetic judgments: “if my understanding is correct, Gödel’s incompleteness theorem has demonstrated that no fully satisfactory purely analytic account of mathematics can ever be forthcoming” (Dicker, 5).

Immanuel Kant is a philosopher who did not only combine the ideas of rationalism and empiricism but also created his own field of epistemology where he raised the problems of these two schools. Kant’s Transcendental Idealism became a new science school and the ideas of this school are still fundamental and have sense nowadays.

Works Cited

Dicker, George. Kant’s theory of knowledge: an analytical introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.

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