First edition of the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft)

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Reply Sun 21 Oct, 2007 06:13 pm
"Kant argued that that old division between a priori truths and a posteriori truths employed by both camps was insufficient to describe the sort of metaphysical claims that were under dispute. An analysis of knowledge also requires a distinction between synthetic and analytic truths. In an analytic claim, the predicate is contained within the subject. In the claim, "Every body occupies space," the property of occupying space is revealed in an analysis of what it means to be a body. The subject of a synthetic claim, however, does not contain the predicate. In, "This tree is 120 feet tall," the concepts are synthesized or brought together to form a new claim that is not contained in any of the individual concepts. The Empiricists had not been able to prove synthetic a priori claims like "Every event must have a cause," because they had conflated "synthetic" and "a posteriori" as well as "analytic" and "a priori." Then they had assumed that the two resulting categories were exhaustive. A synthetic a priori claim, Kant argues, is one that must be true without appealing to experience, yet the predicate is not logically contained within the subject, so it is no surprise that the Empiricists failed to produce the sought after justification. The Rationalists had similarly conflated the four terms and mistakenly proceeded as if claims like, "The self is a simple substance," could be proven analytically and a priori.

Synthetic a priori claims, Kant argues, demand an entirely different kind of proof than those required for analytic, a priori claims or synthetic, a posteriori claims. Indications for how to proceed, Kant says, can be found in the examples of synthetic a priori claims in natural science and mathematics, specifically geometry. Claims like Newton's, "the quantity of matter is always preserved," and the geometer's claim, "the angles of a triangle always add up to 180 degrees" are known a priori, but they cannot be known merely from an analysis of the concepts of matter or triangle. We must "go outside and beyond the concept. . . joining to it a priori in thought something which I have not thought in it." (B 18) A synthetic a priori claim constructs upon and adds to what is contained analytically in a concept without appealing to experience. So if we are to solve the problems generated by Empiricism and Rationalism, the central question of metaphysics in the Critique of Pure Reason reduces to "How are synthetic a priori judgments possible?" (19) If we can answer that question, then we can determine the possibility, legitimacy, and range of all metaphysical claims."

Immanuel Kant -- Metaphysics [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

The key question here is how are synthetic a priori judgments possible? :eek:
Reply Sun 28 Oct, 2007 08:11 pm

Reply Mon 29 Oct, 2007 12:40 am
Well, I am not sure what to say. It is a very fine piece, but I know the contents of the book. We covered it quite extensively in school. I also own a copy (2nd edition with the first edition printed in blue). What is your idea with the topic?
de Silentio
Reply Sun 30 Dec, 2007 11:23 pm
I have an idea for this topic. It is related to the difference between the first and second edition, but not to the original post, which is more about synthtic a priori knowledge (which I think can be equally found in both editions).

So, here goes:

I have been doing research into Kant's 'Transcendental Idealism' and what this leads to. I have been generally getting my information from the MIT OpenCourseWare program. (which has a class on Kant, and lecture notes) However, I have done some other research, and found conflicting interpretations, I will highlight why below.

Here is a quote from the lecture notes, and I think these are generally accepted (from my limited research):

[quote] From MIT Notes:[/quote]

(i) Transcendental realism: Space and things in it are entirely independent of us. (A370) Empirical knowledge aims to be knowledge of these 'things outside us': things in space, things in themselves, existing independently of us. Empirical idealism: Perception does not establish the existence of things so understood, we have no knowledge of them, and since that is what knowledge aims at we have no knowledge. So transcendental realism leads to empirical idealism (A369).

(ii) Transcendental idealism: Space and things in it are mere appearance. (A369) We can have no knowledge of things in themselves, that is, things existing independently of us; rather we have knowledge only of appearances. Empirical realism: we do have knowledge of things outside us, though, that is things in space. Since space is ideal, things in space are not to be inferred on the basis of perception, but are rather immediately perceived. Transcendental idealism leads to empirical realism (A370).

In order to understand what I am going to say below, you must understand what is written above. Highlighting the difference between (i) and (ii). Mainly in (ii) where 'things in space are not to be inferred on the basis of perception, but are rather immediately perceived.'

Now another quote:


2. Kant draws a distinction between empirical idealism and transcendental idealism, A369. According to Kant, the traditional philosophical way of thinking, which he calls transcendental realism, ends up with empirical idealism: so Locke and Descartes, starting out with the common sense assumption that material objects are independent of us, end up (according to Kant) skeptical about them. By contrast, Kant's own transcendental idealism, which denies that material objects are independent of us, ends up with empirical realism.

Again, notice that material objects are NOT independent of us.

Another quote:

4. Notice how empirical realism is construed as dualism: mind and matter both exist (A367, A 371). But matter is not independent of mind (A385). How does this work?
Kant assumes here that that immediacy of perception is the key to knowledge. This seems quite unlike the sophisticated talk of the Analytic, according to which objects are representations brought under rules. His idealism is expressed most extremely here, e.g. at A383: If I remove the thinking subject, the whole corporeal world must at once vanish. He even suggests there is something 'deceptive' about the way matter appears in space, hovering outside us (A385-6).

Okay, notice how the notes reference objects being representations, which I would assume leads to a representationalist view of the relationship between subject and object, but this is contrary to all that has been said so far, because thus far, the subject has been directly related to the material objects.

One thing that stuck out to me: How can matter (which I assume objects are made of) be production of my mind? I thought only the forms of intuition and the conceptions where products of my mind. I understand that the forms of intuition become a part of the object I experience, but does this mean that since matter must be 'in space' that matter is necessarily produced by my mind also?

Additionally, I took note of the portion highlighted in blue. This stuck out to me because this seems to correlate with Kant's proofs of our synthetic a priori knowledge that stems from necessity.

One more quote, then my point:


5. Does empirical dualism solve the problems of transcendental dualism (A391)? How can mind and matter interact? Kant here seems to suggest that matter is not an external cause, but a mere representation. What then is the cause of our representations? Kant's answer: things in themselves, which we don't know. So how do we know they are causes? Notice the hands off move: Kant's opponent must prove that things in themselves cannot be the cause of our representations, which they can't do of course. But is this the right way to think about the burden of proof?

My thoughts on this: What? Things-in-themselves cause our representations which we use to build the world around us. Seems reasonable, except for the fact that for things to be in themselves the way they are, they must interact with each other, not only in our mind, but external of our minds. Does Kant overlook this? Or am I missing something?

How can one thing-in-itself produce matter in our minds when it seems to me that things-in-themselves must interact with each other to in fact be at all. Or am I missing something?

Now, all of this seems to build a philosophy that leads to our minds being the sole creators of reality. It seems that we take these things-in-themselves and build a reality around them. But, if space and time are ONLY forms of my intuition, how can things-in-themselves relate with each other outside of me? If they can't, does not cause and effect go out the window? And further, like I just said above, how can thing-in-themselves be in the first place.

Now, the relation to this topic. All of this seems to be derived from the first edition. All the quotes from the book are first edition, and I think this comes out of the section called: Refutation of Idealism. (I do not have a first edition book, so I cannot verify this)

Furthermore, it seems that contemporary philosophies, like postmodern metaphysics, are built off of this. I am no expert on postmodern metaphysics, but I think that it has to do with each individuals being the creator of their own respective universes, and thus the creators of truth.
If Kant did leave this out of his second edition, why did he do so? Possibly he wasn't happy with the conclusions?
Any help or clarifications of my ideas are appreciated.

All of the quotes can be found at:

Additionally, if anyone does not know of the MIT OpenCourseWare, I strongly suggest you check it out!

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