PHL220. Kant's first Critique: transcendental aesthetics, transcendental logic, and Ideas
Kant's first Critique: transcendental aesthetics, transcendental logic, and Ideas
Recall: Kant is trying to answer the question, how are synthetic a
priori judgments possible?
- Think of this as the question, how is it that we know
some things about the world independently of experience of the
- Kant believes that when we answer this question, we will
have determined what is required for any knowledge or
- He calls his task one of finding the transcendental facts
of experience. These are the facts about what is required for
- He divides his first investigations into two parts
- Transcendental aesthetics (note that "aesthetics"
originally meant, having to do with experience)
- Transcendental logic
- Transcendental aesthetic aims to find our what is
required for experience.
- Transcendental logic will aim to find out what is
required for all understanding.
- Kant wants to examine our experiences, and determine what
is a priori and also synthetic.
- He believes there are two synthetic a priori features of
Kant's argument about space
- Space is not something we learn about from
experience (it is not empirical), because it is
instead required for there to be any experience of the
outside world. Any representation of something
outside of me must be a representation of something in
- Space is a priori because we cannot
represent ourselves in the absence of space. We can
imagine space without things (empty space), but not
things without space.
- Space is not the concept of a thing, since there can
be only one space
- Also, the fact that geometry is possible shows
that there we understand space without having to
- From these observations, Kant concludes that
- Space is not a feature of things in themselves,
but a necessary feature of our experience of the world.
- Space is just the "subjective condition of
sensibility," of experience of the outer senses.
Kant's argument about time
- Time is not something we learn about from experience (it
is not empirical), because it is instead required for there to
be any experience of coexistence or succession. We can
imagine empty time (without things or events), but not any
things without time.
- Time is also a priori because we cannot represent
anything without time.
- Time is not a concept of a thing,
since there can be only one time.
- Also, the fact that any knowledge about motion is
possible shows that there we understand time without having to
- From these observations, Kant concludes that
- Time is not a feature of things in themselves,
but a necessary feature of our experience of any kind.
- Time is just the form of inner sense.
Transcendental Logic: the categories of understanding
- Kant claims to have found through his transcendental
investigations the synthetic a priori elements of
sense experience and of understanding.
- We have seen that those of sense experience are
- Those of understanding are judgments of
- Kant claims that we can have raw experiences,
about which we form no judgment of whether these belong
to a particular object or not.
- When we judge that these sense experiences belong
to a number of things (be it some, all, or a
particular) we form a judgment of quantity. Examples:
- Universal: All men are mortal.
- Particular: Some men are mortal.
- Singular: Socrates is mortal.
- When we judge that something is the case, or is
not the case or that it lacks a quality, we judge its
- Affirmative: All men are mortal.
- Negative: It is not the case that Socrates
- Infinite: Socrates is not mortal.
- Kant claims every judgment is either
"categorical", hypothetical, or "disjunctive."
- Categorical: Socrates is a man.
- Hypothetical: If you want to get to the
station, then you should turn left at
- Disjunctive: We are either free or we are
- Modality. Finally, all judgments have some relation to
necessity or possibility.
- Problematic (roughly, logically
possible): The Moon is 1000 kilometers from the Earth.
- Assertoric (true): The Moon is 300,000
kilometers from the Earth.
- Apodeictic (necessary, a priori): 2+2=4.
- Kant has one last group of synthetic a priori elements
which we have not discussed: the Ideas.
- Space, time, and the categories of understanding all are
applicable only to perception.
- "Ideas" is Kant's technical term for synthetic a priori
concepts which do not (directly) apply to experience.
- The term is meant to be an adoption and modification of
Plato's term "ideas" (usually translated as "Form").
- The ideas include:
- Freedom of the will
- Consider as an example Freedom of the will.
- Kant argues that (Newtonian) physics requires that we
are wholly determined. Every act we undertake is caused by
some prior act, and so on, back before our birth. We could not
have chosen to do otherwise.
- However, Kant claims that we know a priori that
- There is such a thing as right and wrong
- Right and wrong action requires that we be free
- Thus, we are both not free and free. This is what
Kant calls an antinomy. How can we resolve this apparent
- To look ahead: Kant's answer is that our noumenal
selves are free, but our phenomenal selves are fully