You are on page 1of 10

What do we want to read for Kant?

(1) Introduce Kants system, get some key definitions out of the
way, talk about the basic metaphysics. Get Critical Metaphysics
and Pre-Critical Metaphysics out of the way.

So, how do you introduce Kant?


You want to talk about the history of metaphysics.
Pre-critical metaphysics.

Here is what we might call the metametaphysics of Pre-Kantian


philosophy.
That is to say, here is a certain account of what an adequate account of
the world would have to look like.

(1) Ontology

Traditional metaphysics begins with the point that we are not Being, we
are Becoming. Roughly, we are born and we die, we are finite, we are
restricted by the opinions of those around us (history and social
constitution) and we have access to the world only through sensory
appearances.

So here we have a duality.

Becoming/Being (Parmenides)
Becoming-> Realm of time, causality , history, contingent and so on.
(Realm of sensory perception) (APPERANCES)
Being-> Realm of the timeless, ahistorical, necessary truth (Realm of the
ideas/or of the understanding/reason). (REALITY)

Were stuck in appearances.

Given that we are stuck in appearances, how do we get at reality?


Implicit assumption:
Every great Western philosopher has valued Being over Becoming.
Plato, Descartes, Leibniz and so on.
Reason (Conceptual Thought> Sensory Appearances)
Timeless>Time

We get at the real (beyond appearances) by using reason to get at the


THINGS THEMSELVES.

But how do we know reason gets us there?


A necessary being, who is perfectly rational and grounds all existence.
He ensures that the world is the way it is because of his goodness.
(This will become more Salient as we get to Descartes, but this is
accurate, at a certain level of abstraction, for Pre-Cartesian philosophy).

Note: this distinction does not map onto science/non-science, although


the metaphysics of science maps onto the distinction. Timeless physical
laws which are supposed to feature-place onto the flux of empirical
reality. Laws are clean, reality is messy and so on.

(2) Metaphysics of Mind/ Epistemology

Platonic assumption
Human beings are rational animals
Thinking subjects contemplating the world.
Thus, an appropriate account of mental content will be in terms of our
ability to reason, think propositionally and follow certain rules of symbol
manipulation.
This holds for the Aristotelian syllogistic logic and for Platos notion of
noesis.
Disembodied mind confronting world.
Knowledge= accuracy of mental representations (Cartesian ideas)

Understood largely in terms of the faculty of reason dominating a faculty


of sensibility. (Sorting experience out in order to get us accuracy and
certainty).

Critiques of this picture:-

(1) Leads to needless solipsism/scepticism and threatens natural science


and our capacity to know anything (Kant, Heidegger and Hegel)
Indeed, Pyrrhonian skeptics claim (1) is true and accept it.
(2) Leads to philosophys understanding history, our interests and society
as something to be abstracted from, rather than as a necessary condition
of our knowledge=> As such, philosophy is bound to produce ahistorical
formalism (Hegel, Heidegger and Nietzsche)
(3) Leads to an unrealistically rationalistic picture of the mind, language
and human action (Hubert Dreyfus, Heidegger and Wittgenstein)
(4) Leads to world-alienation and existential nihilism (Heidegger and
Nietzsche)
(5) Ensures that ethics and social life can only have ontological
significance if you are a dualist (Kant, Nietzsche) (SAVE FOR
ARISTOTLE)
(6) Leads to a denial of human drives (Nietzsche).
(7) This whole picture promotes Binary oppositions (Appearance/Reality,
Being/Becoming, Freedom/Necessity) and so on.

Back to Kant:
How do we have thoughts about the world?
Where does aboutness come from?

THIS IS KEY. We pictured truth as the agreement between our


representation and what its about (the world). How are we even going to
get that off the ground if we dont know what aboutness is?
Note: I am asking about the metaphysics of intentionality.

Go through ontological argument (Unification of Thought and Being)


Domain of thought (Descartes predicates)= Domain of Being because of
God.
This is how our propositional thought pictures or maps on to facts in the
world.
This is the pre-Kantian Rationalist (at least in the European tradition)
picture of how the metaphysics of intentionality and reference works.

Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz and so on.

What about empiricism?


You can refer to an object because it affects your senses.
Locke, Hume, Berkeley
Hume as proto-verificationist
Senses give you objects, intellect organizes it, but reason cant give you
objects.
Defer to the senses.
So inversion of rationalist picture (senses get you to things themselves).
If not, we have scepticism. (Hume- Dogmatic Slumber).

Kants BIG INNOVATION

1) Rationalists: Ontological argument is flawed. Why?


CONCEPTS DONT WORK THAT WAY.
The Only Possible Argument for God (1763)-> Kant
Concepts dont give you objects.
Given that, the OAs presupposition that existence is a real predicate
presupposes that you can bridge objects and concepts by predicating
existence of the concept of God by virtue of its conceptual essence (real
definition) is undercut.

So, Thought and Being are cleaved apart.


What now?
2) Empiricist solution: Concepts and Objects
Objects and Concepts separate, senses give us the real.
But this does not take enough account of the impact of reason, science
and mathematics.
We dont have necessity, but only contingent generalizations of sense-
data.
Kant being woken from his non-dogmatic slumber.

TRANSCENDENTAL IDEALISM

How do we have (i) rationalist science, mathematics and so on


with (ii) empiricist insights about objects?

Understand the limitations that our subjectivity places on us.


We need to conduct a critique of the faculty of reason.
This is a critique of our implicit metametaphysics (reason is the faculty
which seeks a ground for all things, and is thus the faculty of
metaphysics).
We need to re-evaluate what we think is a satisfactory account of world-
talk.

What are the limitations that our subjectivity places on us? And
how are these limitations on the faculty of reason?
Kant: We are discursive, spatio-temporal intellects, and are restricted by
this.
What does this mean?
Josefa Toribio: the faculty by which one exercises one's conceptual and
non-conceptual capacities in thinking and judging is dynamically
constrained both by spontaneity (the subject's cognitive capacities) and
receptivity (the realm where empirical content is to be found)
Here is another way to put it:
Subjectivity is not just a thing alongside other things. Subjectivity is what
makes experiential and epistemic access to things possible in the first
place. It should not be conceived merely as some object in the world, but
instead as the ontologically irreducible context of openness through which
our access to objects must be understood. Subjectivity is our way of
being, and this needs to be understood through the characteristic of
openness to beings, rather than through the existence of beings that
might be made available by subjectivity. (David Suarez, Thinking Nature
p. 12)

What does this mean?


Well discuss this throughout the next 2 weeks.
Well put.
More specifically,

(1) We are beings who do not create objects actively, but receive them
passively (through what Kant calls the faculty of intuition). The form of
our sensible reception of objects is space and time. Kant argues that
every sensation we have is necessary spatial (we cannot imagine outer
objects without space, and we cannot imagine them outside a temporal
sequence). However, this non-conceptual sensible reception of objects
lacks determinacy.

(2) We are beings who think discursively, or think according to concepts.


Kant thinks concepts are something like rules according to which
manifolds of intuition are synthesized. So, concepts are something like
universal generalizations, which have a real definition. Kant has a
theory of semantics which attributes a single, fixed, definition to a
concept (notion of conceptual containment).He makes a distinction
between pure and empirical concepts. Empirical concepts (like dog or
cat) are not our concern here. Kant has something like a Lockean
account of conceptual abstraction, not really very interesting.

Kant sees concepts as predicates of possible judgements. Thus, the


capacity to judge determines the space of thinkable content. (more on
this next week). But, for now, think about judgements as:-

(i) Predicate-Predicate relations (For all x such that x is F, then x is


M).=> Analytic judgements
(ii) Subject-Predicate relations (There exists an x such that x is
M)=>Synthetic judgements.

Ok, given (1) and (2), lets try and answer the metametaphysical question
in greater detail.

We cant have (ii) subject-predicate judgements, understood in terms of


empirical observation as world-talk, because that would render
metaphysics contingent, and thats bad, because then wed have no basis
for science and mathematics. Even though empirical observation is about
the world, it is not about the world as world, its about picking about
individual objects within the world. No a priori.

(i) We also cant have predicate-predicate judgements, because theyre


merely formal and dont apply to the world, but merely designate the
relationships between concepts.
(recall: Kants view about concepts not giving you objects)
So what do we need? We need synthetic a priori statements. True
statements, which describe the nature and the structure of the domain of
empirical objects which appear to us and we conceptualize.
So Ive been talking about the world. What do I mean by the world?
Kant thinks that the world refers to the minimally conceived domain of
presentation empirical objects or the appearances.

Markus Gabriel claims that, on Kants view, the world does not exist. This
only means that, if we take Kants domainization of the world seriously,
we have no need to think that there is a domain of domains called the
world. There are lots of domains, with little to unite them. Is this Kants
view? NO.
(But more on his later).

According to Gabriel, Kants basic conceptual apparatus can be


repurposed to accommodate an ontological pluralism (multiple domains
of presentation).

But how does this help to solve the problem of thought and being? We
havent yet even understood how we have accurate thoughts about the
world through mental representations.

Kants answer: This domain of presentation of objects is structured so


as to fit the structure of the domain of thinkable content. The domain of
thinkable content is governed by certain pure concepts (which Kant calls
the categories). The Categories are the set of logical primitives which
define the predicative domain of judgement, as concepts are predicates
of possible judgements.

In the Metaphysical Deduction of the Categories, Kant argues that we


can deduce all of the categories from the subject-predicate structure of a
judgement (the logical form of a judgement).

THIS IS VERY UNCONVINCING.

If we can demonstrate that objects present themselves to us in judgeable


form, then we can say that the domain of thinkable content corresponds
to the domain of empirical objects. We have explained aboutness.

What is the big Kahuna?

The transcendental unity of apperception+ transcendental synthesis of


the imagination
(TSA is the I-ness behind all experience, and thus applies to
appearances)
(TSI is the transformation of hazy perspectival indeterminate manifolds
into a domain of empirical, judgeable, intersubjective content).
Once sensory manifolds become judgeable content, they enter the
domain of thinkable content, and we have intentionality! (Remember:
logical form of a judgement)

TSI does a lot of work here, as it basically creates the domain of


empirical objects, allows them to become propositionally structured
judgements (thus having the categories applied to them), allows us to do
logic, mathematics and natural science. By synthesizing according to a
rule, TSI makes a subjective sequence of appearances
INTERSUBJECTIVE.

We synthesize the sensory manifolds which we receive into judgeable


contents, allowing us to make judgements about empirical objects, such
as That boy is Blond!.

We now have an idea about what this domain of appearances or domain


of empirical objects is. It has the structure of Euclidean space-time
(roughly, talk to Sean Smith about why Kant might not need to defend
this bad thesis), it is rule-governed, which allows us to do natural science
and mathematics on it (as he thinks that the domain contains extensive
quantity).

Weve also got

THIS story about synthesis is also very unconvincing. The synthesis is


doing a lot of work here, as is Kants claim about the categories.

BUT IT GETS WORSE

The thing-in-itself

This domain of appearances, synthesized and chopped, shows too many


signs of our involvement for it really to reveal things in themselves. In
other words, given that our concepts play such a role in generating
objects, we are only cognizing things MEDIATELY. We dont get objects
as such, we simply get through a medium.
Things in themselves have to affect us sensorily, and the domain of
empirical objects is generated through this noumenal affection. But we
can never know things in themselves, as our concepts are restricted in
their applicability to things in themselves.

Beings who dont have to know objects mediately through concepts, but
can simply create objects by the power of its thought. These would be
non-discursive spatio-temporal intellects.
But, importantly, there is no reason to discard the domain of empirical
objects as mere appearances. (Cite Stang on Empirical Realism).

Transcendental structure belongs not just to our subjective forms of


thought, but to the subject-world pairing that constitutes our subjectivity,
essentially, as an openness to the world. This pairing of subject and world,
which Heidegger dubs being-in-the-world, allows objects to manifest
themselves as existing and as the objects that they are in our perception,
judgment, imagination, and so on. It belongs to the structure of the world
that it is capable of manifesting itself to subjectivity in the ways that it
does, namely as a domain of accessible beings. Now if a skeptic about this
form of being-in-the-world rejects the claim that their subjectivity at
least purports to put her in contact with objects that could exhibit the
ways of being revealed by transcendental reflection, then (to the extent
that her skepticism isnt mere empty vocalization) what has broken down
isnt just her knowledge of the external world, but the very intelligibility of
her experiencethe intelligibility of the world she inhabits as a world.

One last thing::

Kant calls the faculty of understanding a faculty of judgement.


It is involved in a is F style differentiation.

Then there is the faculty of reason.


Human beings are essentially rational beings.
Rationality here is understood not as epistemic rationality (apportioning
your beliefs to the evidence in the correct way) or instrumental
rationality (having the right process of thought), but as metaphysical
rationality

James Kreines calls this Reason in the world; you want to find
something like a final unconditioned condition, a ground of all things.
Kant thinks that the faculty of reason sets us unfulfillable tasks which
we have to strive towards.
The Ideas of Reason are so-called regulative ideas. They dont really
exist, but they act as guides to our practical action.
A very important example is something like the notion of the totality of
nature.
Kant thinks that the totality of nature doesnt really exist, but is a useful
benchmark for our practical action and natural science.
The issue for pre-Kantian metaphysics is that it took these Ideas of
Reason and took them as actually existing things, and as a guide to the
way objects were in themselves.

Okay, what are the problems here:

(1) No one thinks that you can deduce the categories of thought from the
logical form of judgement.

(2) Kant simply asserts that synthesis is autonomous, that it applies to


empirical objects. But synthesis is higher-order heteronomous. In other
words, Why synthesis under these categories? Why are these categories
applied to empirical objects?

Kant has no answer for (2) other than the claim that these categories (i)
exhibit a systematic unity of reason and (ii) you interrogate your
experience, and you find these there.

Kants transcendental philosophy is thus ungrounded (Hegelian


objection).

(3) Whats all this stuff about judgement governing the domain of
thinkable content? Surely logic should not be subordinated to
transcendental psychology? (Frege is the source of this objection, I think
wrongly, disagrees with Kant)

(4) Kantians still have no good answer to the Dingen-an-Sich objection.


They can still can give no account how non-causal affectation gives us
some knowledge of things-in-themselves in a negative sense.

My own answer to this question (I wrote a paper about this):


Things-in-themselves are a regulative idea. They are the world as such,
which we aim towards in our inquiry.

(5) Kant thinks that this domain is immediately accessible in lived


experience, i.e. Euclidean space-time is Lived space-time. Heidegger and
Husserl take him to task for this.

(6) His model of the mind is still overly Cartesian (mind and world split)

(2) Kants theory of mind (Judgements/Concepts)->


McDowell/Evans.
(3) Kant and Phenomenology (What is the transcendental?)-> Talk
about Phenomenological/Husserlian Critique of Kant.