Semih Togay 2005102914 48J 1st paper

Is Synthetic a priori Knowledge Possible?
1.In transcendental aesthetics, Kant analyses the cognition and possibility of our knowledge of things. He determines three different categories of knowledge. One of which, synthetic a priori, makes Kant apart from his predecessors like Leibniz and Hume and brings a new understanding for metaphysics. Kant distinguishes knowledge into two as a priori and a posteriori A priori knowledge is in some sense independent from experience, however a posteriori knowledge is the one that is particular and gained through experience. In addition to above distinction, he expresses two kinds of judgments: one them is analytic judgments and the other is synthetic. In Kantian terminology, the boundary between analytic and synthetic judgments is drawn by the relationship between subject and the predicate in the statements. If the concept of predicate says nothing more about the concept of subject or if concept of the subject already has the concept of the predicate, then this judgment is named as analytic. If we learn information about the concept of subject from the predicate or if the concept of predicate helps us to add something new to the subject, then this statement is called as synthetic or ampliative. Basically apriori knowledge and analytic judgments and a posteriori knowledge and synthetic judgments are interrelated. Besides, after characterizing these above definitions, apart from the similar distinctions given by Leibniz or Hume, Kant expresses the existence of a different category of knowledge that is both synthetic and a priori.

we can bring 5 apples and 7 apples together and get 12 apples. Because. thanks to our mental activities. In other worlds thanks to possibility of this category of knowledge pure reason can infer some truths. Kant gives the example of 5+7=12. Cambridge University Press. ³It must first be remarked that properly mathematical propositions are always a priori and are never empirical. Namely. then it is not an analytic statement. Immanuel. namely the predicate. Kant clarifies his inferences on mathematical judgments by expressing that mathematical judgments are universally valid and in their sentence structure.´1 Because the concept of 12. so it is a priori. But how synthetic a priori judgments can be possible? Answering this question is as almost the same task as answering the possibility of pure mathematical knowledge and principles of natural sciences. but this does not show us we get empirically the result that 5+7=12.144 . p. Therefore. because they carry necessity with them. this category of knowledge shapes Kant¶s metaphysical framework which includes a critique of the methodology of metaphysical tradition before him. In order to explain his understanding of synthetic a priori knowledge. 5+7.In this paper I will focus on this third category of knowledge proposed by Kant. we can see a necessary relationship between the subject and predicate. It is a mathematical statement and has no experiential ground. We can apply whole mathematical judgments to objects of our experiences. By Paul Guyer and Allen Wood. ed. The Cambridge Companion to Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. this mathematical proposition is universally valid and necessarily true in all cases. So. According to Kant. which cannot be derived from experience. According to Kant synthetic a priori knowledge makes mathematics and science possible. 1998. necessity and universality are the key points to explain that mathematical judgments as a priori and because ampliative 1 Kant. and its functioning in explaining the possibility of pure mathematical judgments and some certain judgments about the physical world. is not contained in the concept of subject.

Kant rejects this empiricist account and expresses that natural sciences does not derive from experience but borrows from experience. they are also synthetic. So. because he both criticize them and utilize from them. those concepts are independent from all other objects and a priori grounds of experiential or a posteriori knowledge. he claims that principles of naturals science are synthetic a priori judgments and they are universal. so we experience whole events in nature in terms of their space. instead they give a form for experience. or although he defends the idea that practice precedes theoretical knowledge. As I said above. Newton¶s 3rd law of motion that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and other such kinds of statements which are related with natural sciences are also synthetic a priori propositions for Kant. those statements go in line with principle of contradiction. Morever. we grasp the particular knowledge of things and throughout our mental faculties and our pure concepts of intuition. their time and causality between them. they are universal rules which are shaped by our mental faculties. Kant also criticizes metaphysical tradition before himself. He can be positioned between rationalists and empiricists.nature that depends on pure concepts of intuition of those statements. in this respect they are independent from experience. although we can see many examples of Newton¶s laws of motion in nature. rather they are the products of our cognitive faculties of intuition. namely 5+7=12 and 5+7 12 cannot be true at the same time. time. according to Kant. It seems as if natural sciences derive from our experiences of outer world beacuse they depend on experiential sources or the world of neumena. However. Although as Kant express that our cognition begins with experience or experience is necessary for our cognition. He thinks that metaphysics is also about synthetic a priori propositions rather than . we construct the principles of natural science that are universal. According to Kant. Hence. in logical sense. In short. space and causality are a priori concepts of intuition and they are not found in experience.

*** After explaining Kantian framework of synthetic a priori knowledge. or mathematical signs in the noumenal world.140 . however it has some strong and weak sides. 2 Kant. I am not sure. p. According to my point of view. then the result becomes not 12 but 2. he tries to present a critique of pure reason and puts the question that how synthetic judgments a priori are possible as a problem to the core of his work. However. and existence of synthetic a priori judgments are a new acquisition to construct a new understanding in metaphysics. he shapes the debates of the philosophers after him. Kant smears the strict dichotomy between empiricism and skepticism and proposes a better way of approaching the problem of knowledge by questioning the capacity or incapacity of reason itself. the main problem of metaphysics is the search for the limits of reason itself. 1998. So. Cambridge University Press. if we add 5 to 7 in terms of MOD 5. Kant¶s transcendental aesthetic is a huge deal to explain the systematization of knowledge. According to him. Immanuel. in terms of its expression of mathematical knowledge¶s independency from experience. By Paul Guyer and Allen Wood. I have problems with the strict universality of mathematical knowledge. If we cannot strictly universalize that 5+7=12. how can that knowledge become a priori? However in terms of natural sciences. whether synthetic a priori judgments or universal applicable of natural sciences is possible or not. because we cannot experience the numbers. as Kant argues ³mathematics gives us a splendid example of how far we can go with a priori cognitions independently of experience. I will try to raise some opinions about them in the rest of my paper. For example. ed.´2 This argument is strong. In the light of the inferences that he gets from this questioning.dogmatism or skepticism. The Cambridge Companion to Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.

assumptions or findings. basic principles of natural science can be universally applicable and assumed as consistent for the continuity of scientific activity. In short. . Then I try to raise some counter opinions for Kant. but we have some problems. For example. such relativistic approaches to knowledge can create some problems with Kantian transcendental aesthetic. Einstein reinterpreted Newtonian concepts of mass. the laws of motion which is the basic principles of motion expressed by Newton changed. how can we be sure that the principles of natural sciences are a priori synthetic? Of course. how can they change by new theories. I have basically tried to depict Kantian understanding of the categories of knowledge by focusing specially the synthetic a priori knowledge. but can they be named as synthetic and a priori knowledge? If they are a priori. by the special theory of relativity of Einstein. when we accept them as a priori. energy and etc. One of which is related with the strict universality of mathematical knowledge and the other is related with the possibility of universal applicability of principles of natural sciences. Newtonian laws of the motion had been the basic assumptions of physics. In conclusion. namely by experience? In my opinion. we can see some changes on the basic principles of natural sciences. This category of knowledge is a key element of Kant¶s transcendental aesthetic which raises opinions for the possibility of mathematics and natural sciences as well as it brings a new approach to traditional metaphysics. Since Einstein¶s Special theory of relativity.When we look at the history of philosophy. So.