Kant Debunked

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Reply Tue 6 May, 2008 08:20 pm
Aristoddler wrote:
Just to note...most of Kant's theories and philosophies were debunked...make sure the ones you refer to aren't on that list. Wink


This was posted in another topic, and I felt that it was not appropriate to to start a discussion on Kant in that topic. So I started this one.

I'm curious as to which of Kant's philosophies and theories are debunked, and what it means to say that they are debunked.

I ask this question with a hope that we can have coherent, civilized discussions on some of Kant's philosophies and theories.

I don't know where to begin because I have recently only studied Kant's direct works and secondary sources that aide in understanding him.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Wed 7 May, 2008 01:27 am
@de Silentio,
I would like to know the debunks as well. I have heard and read many; but not one that holds.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Wed 7 May, 2008 12:51 pm
@de Silentio,
A philosophy cannot be debunked any more so than it can be proved. As far as I know the only people to directly confront Kant were his empiricist contemporaries, and since they sort of made mutually exclusive arguments it's more a matter of appeal than 'debunking'.

But we now live in an age in which we clearly understand that we are a lot less rational than we believed ourself to be in the enlightenment. And this self-awareness has permeated everything in modern culture -- certainly literature (think of Dostoyevsky, Joyce, Faulkner, TS Eliot, Samuel Beckett) and fine art (think of Van Gogh, Picasso, Braque), all of whom focused on our emotional, irrational core.

In the Enlightenment we came to understand ourselves as rational beings -- not just from philosophers but also from other domains (Newton comes foremost to mind).

In modernity human decisions and human thought processes have been so thoroughly described by psychologists (with Jung and Freud towering over all others) that it just seems more accurate than the philosophical understanding. It's clear that fundamentally humans are NOT rational beings -- our reason is constantly beset by irrational forces within us, and much of the time we THINK we're being rational we're simply rationalizing to accomodate an emotional, irrational feeling.

Furthermore, the relentless period of societal growth and progress that began in the Enlightenment has culminated in the 20th century, in which our achievements have been greatly tempered by their side effects -- most visibly the trenches of WWI, the Holocaust, the atomic bombs, and the nuclear stalemate of the cold war.

In other words, we've realized that the more the world corresponds to our notion of progress, the closer we get to annihilating ourselves. Makes Kant seem quaint -- sure, he was brilliant, but his philosophies correspond to a time when the world understood itself differently.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 7 May, 2008 06:18 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
A philosophy cannot be debunked any more so than it can be proved. As far as I know the only people to directly confront Kant were his empiricist contemporaries, and since they sort of made mutually exclusive arguments it's more a matter of appeal than 'debunking'.

But we now live in an age in which we clearly understand that we are a lot less rational than we believed ourself to be in the enlightenment. And this self-awareness has permeated everything in modern culture -- certainly literature (think of Dostoyevsky, Joyce, Faulkner, TS Eliot, Samuel Beckett) and fine art (think of Van Gogh, Picasso, Braque), all of whom focused on our emotional, irrational core.

In the Enlightenment we came to understand ourselves as rational beings -- not just from philosophers but also from other domains (Newton comes foremost to mind).

In modernity human decisions and human thought processes have been so thoroughly described by psychologists (with Jung and Freud towering over all others) that it just seems more accurate than the philosophical understanding. It's clear that fundamentally humans are NOT rational beings -- our reason is constantly beset by irrational forces within us, and much of the time we THINK we're being rational we're simply rationalizing to accomodate an emotional, irrational feeling.

Furthermore, the relentless period of societal growth and progress that began in the Enlightenment has culminated in the 20th century, in which our achievements have been greatly tempered by their side effects -- most visibly the trenches of WWI, the Holocaust, the atomic bombs, and the nuclear stalemate of the cold war.

In other words, we've realized that the more the world corresponds to our notion of progress, the closer we get to annihilating ourselves. Makes Kant seem quaint -- sure, he was brilliant, but his philosophies correspond to a time when the world understood itself differently.


I would imagine that to talk debunking wholesale what some philosopher said is going to get us into trouble. It is probable that a well-known philosopher has said many different things, and that some are wrong, and some are right, and of some, we may not know. Perhaps we ought to pick one or two things the philosopher said, and discuss those. For example, Kant famously says that existence is not a predicate. What about that? He also wrote that the question, how are synthetic a priori judgments possible is a matter of life or death for philosophy. What about that?
 
Aedes
 
Reply Wed 7 May, 2008 08:27 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
He also wrote that the question, how are synthetic a priori judgments possible is a matter of life or death for philosophy. What about that?
Interesting. I guess it just depends how "a priori" you want to get. Aren't we biological beings before we're rational beings? Cannot our rational judgements be affected by emotional things (jealousy, hatred, love) and by biological things (fatigue, alcohol, head injuries)?

If so, then any a priori rational judgement is a posteriori with respect to various conscious and physical mitigators -- to say nothing of subconscious things like memories.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Thu 8 May, 2008 01:14 am
@de Silentio,
@ Aedes:
Rational and irrational behavior is in the eye of the beholder: a projection. That is one of the major differences between the hypothetical imp/teleology and cat imp/deonthology. People understood this long before the enlightenment. It is merely publicly denied by states and state religions. The reason for that is because when one uses "goals" in ones reasonings one can be manipulated; corrupted. The holocaust, the trenches of WWI, all of your examples show that. The reason humanity is at its own throat is the hyp. imp.

@ kennethamy:
Quote:

For example, Kant famously says that existence is not a predicate.

He is saying that because existance itself must exist before we can start predicating. It reminds me of Cartesian doubt. The only thing which cannot be doubted by a mind is that there is something that can be operated on (itself; fysical or not). That being the case we can predicate all we want on this existence and then start believing it.

Quote:

He also wrote that the question, how are synthetic a priori judgments possible is a matter of life or death for philosophy.

Because without that all reason is cause and effect. Therefore no margin for free choice is left. All thoughts would be pre-ordained and any notion to the contrary would be none-sense.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 May, 2008 06:23 am
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Interesting. I guess it just depends how "a priori" you want to get. Aren't we biological beings before we're rational beings? Cannot our rational judgements be affected by emotional things (jealousy, hatred, love) and by biological things (fatigue, alcohol, head injuries)?

If so, then any a priori rational judgement is a posteriori with respect to various conscious and physical mitigators -- to say nothing of subconscious things like memories.


Kant meant something quite specific by, "synthetic a priori judgments". The word "synthetic" is quite important. And Kant begins his First Critique by saying that the subject of his book is, "how are synthetic a priori judgments possible?" And he thinks that is the central question of philosophy. It is impossible to know what Kant was driving at, unless you understand what he is talking about. And it would certainly be impossible to "debunk" him unless you knew that. His question, by the way is not about whether there are synthetic a priori judgments. His question assumes that there are. What he asks is how is it (even) possible for there to be such judgments. And this question stems from Kant's reading of Hume who, although he did not use that language, argued that such judgments could not exist. They were impossible. And Hume also argues that is follows from that, that metaphysics (philosophy) is a futile and impossible enterprise.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 8 May, 2008 08:28 am
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
But we now live in an age in which we clearly understand that we are a lot less rational than we believed ourself to be in the enlightenment.


Aedes wrote:
In the Enlightenment we came to understand ourselves as rational beings...


Aedes wrote:
It's clear that fundamentally humans are NOT rational beings -- our reason is constantly beset by irrational forces within us, and much of the time we THINK we're being rational we're simply rationalizing to accomodate an emotional, irrational feeling.


I think I see where the disconnect here is. I'd like to suggest, if I may, that you may be a victim of a semantic mistinterpretation.

By basing moral philosophy on the notion that human being are rational, he wasn't saying, "humanity acts in a rational fashion" (as in a value judgement), more that humans have the capacity for rational thought and behavior. I sense that your knowledge of his philosophies might have been bogged down in what was perceived as a lofty "lookie how rational we are!"-assertion instead of a system of morals predicated on humans only having the ability itself.

Indeed, the Metaphysic of Morals (Sections 1-3) are repleat with admissions to this fact; he carefully delineates that many have their own inclinations towards selfishness, and that the study of this is, "... best left to psychologists". Time and time again he guards his metaphysic against personalized notions of happiness, right and wrong since they vary wildly from person to person based on individual inclinations; suggesting, over and over that although people have the capacity for rational thought (i.e., a member of the species has this capacity), they don't always use it.

I'd like to note that although I do find great value in Immanuel's theories, I'm not a member of the Kantian Fan Club. I should very much like to flesh out some of the concepts on which much his moral philosophy was based. But that, for another time...

... hoping this helps.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 May, 2008 05:40 pm
@Arjen,
Arjen wrote:
@ Aedes:



Because without that all reason is cause and effect. Therefore no margin for free choice is left. All thoughts would be pre-ordained and any notion to the contrary would be none-sense.


That's not at all what Kant meant. You are just making that up. Before you say why he thought that synthetic a priori judgments were possible, could you please say what a synthetic a priori judgment is?
 
Arjen
 
Reply Thu 8 May, 2008 05:50 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
That's not at all what Kant meant. You are just making that up. Before you say why he thought that synthetic a priori judgments were possible, could you please say what a synthetic a priori judgment is?

http://www.philosophyforum.com/forum/immanuel-kant/1220-need-your-help.html

Now, what did he mean in your idea then? I suppose an argument for aimlessness? By the way: have you ever read Hume?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 May, 2008 06:24 pm
@Arjen,
Arjen wrote:
http://www.philosophyforum.com/forum/immanuel-kant/1220-need-your-help.html

Now, what did he mean in your idea then? I suppose an argument for aimlessness? By the way: have you ever read Hume?


Yes, I have read Hume. In fact, as I pointed out, it was Hume's attack on metaphysics that Kant was defending against. Hume argued that there could be not synthetic a priori propositions, and since metaphysical propositions were synthetic a priori propositions, there could be no metaphysical propositions. That is why the subject of Kant's First Critique is to show that metaphysical propositions (synthetic a priori propositions were possible). Have you read Hume? Hume writes in the closing lines of the Enquiry into Human Understanding:

Ask of any book: "Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity of number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion."


It is that passage to which Kant is attempting to answer. Unless you understand that, you do not understand what Kant is doing. (P.S. It has nothing whatever to do with "aimlessness" whatever that might be).
 
Arjen
 
Reply Fri 9 May, 2008 03:58 am
@de Silentio,
Kennethamy, I do not think you know what I am talking about. Lets do this the other way around. I am going to ask you a few questions and then lead you to an idea of what is being said.

What is the result of the none-existance of a priori intuitions?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 9 May, 2008 06:31 am
@Arjen,
Arjen wrote:
Kennethamy, I do not think you know what I am talking about. Lets do this the other way around. I am going to ask you a few questions and then lead you to an idea of what is being said.

What is the result of the none-existance of a priori intuitions?


I do not think you know what I am talking about.

You are right about that.

I do not know what an a priori intuition is. And, anyway, this is a thread about Kant, and the issue is why did Kant think that it was necessary to settle the question, how are synthetic a priori judgments possible? Why change the topic? You asked me whether I had read Hume, and I quoted a famous passage from Hume which raised the question about synthetic a priori judgments for Kant. That is why he wrote that Hume had aroused him from his "dogmatic slumbers" This thread is about Kant.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Fri 9 May, 2008 06:34 am
@de Silentio,
If you do not know what a priori intuitions are I am willing to bet you do not know Kant's work, or perhaps only know a little bit of it. Have you ever read Kant, and if so: what works of his?
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Fri 9 May, 2008 01:15 pm
@de Silentio,
Gentlemen, let's keep this civilized. Attacking what either has or has not read is not becoming.

@Arjen: a priori intuitions is an extremely hard concept to grasp, and you must be careful when you use the word intuition. As you probably know, Kant was notorious for inventing words, and this use of the word intuition is one of his inventions.

@kennethemy: be careful not to place words into Hume's mouth. I could be wrong, but I don't think the word 'synthetic a priori' came onto the scene until Kant further divided a priori and a posteriori into synthetic and analytic.

Also, I think the dogmatic slumber that Kant speaks of is blindly accepting the premise that the mind is shaped by the external world, his awakening was realizing that all of philosophy before him accepted this without challenge, and that if we disregard this dogmatic truth and explore a priori truths from the point of view that rather than the world shaping our minds, our minds shape the world, then a priori truths are not only possible, but necessary. (This is found in the Preface to the Second Edition)

Arjen, contrary to what kennethemy says, I believe that a discussion on a priori intuitions are well within the realm of a discussion on synthetic a priori judgments.

However, as we are not all clear on what a priori intuitions are, will you kindly explain?
 
Arjen
 
Reply Fri 9 May, 2008 02:50 pm
@de Silentio,
Transcendental table of categoria

Kant defines transcendental as a priori in the reasoning of humans (and perhaps all beings?). He seperates the reasoning intself from the conditions of reasoning. The conditions for reasoning are a basal insight into time and space. Below is a list of transcendental categoria which flow from a basic understanding of space and time.

Quantity

Quality

Relation

Modality

Logical Table of judgements

Logical judgements can be formed by the use of the a priori categoria. Because we know a priori that objects exist in space and time they necessarily have some "attributes" (or: at least in our thoughts). Below is a list of such "attributes":

Quantity

Quality

Relation

Modality

According to Kant we can relate these categoria and judgement to specific phenomena by applying the categories and judgements through time (schemata).

A priori intuitions
The intuitions are merely the a priori part of our reasoning. When thinking of (for example) a door in general a part of our reasoning intuitively knows that a door (or any other object) necessarily has certain attributes. It is the part which connects the categoria to the objects.




Oh, remember that Immanuel Kant was a real puissant, who was very rarely stable.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 10 May, 2008 08:26 am
@de Silentio,
de Silentio wrote:
Gentlemen, let's keep this civilized. Attacking what either has or has not read is not becoming.

@Arjen: a priori intuitions is an extremely hard concept to grasp, and you must be careful when you use the word intuition. As you probably know, Kant was notorious for inventing words, and this use of the word intuition is one of his inventions.

@kennethemy: be careful not to place words into Hume's mouth. I could be wrong, but I don't think the word 'synthetic a priori' came onto the scene until Kant further divided a priori and a posteriori into synthetic and analytic.

Also, I think the dogmatic slumber that Kant speaks of is blindly accepting the premise that the mind is shaped by the external world, his awakening was realizing that all of philosophy before him accepted this without challenge, and that if we disregard this dogmatic truth and explore a priori truths from the point of view that rather than the world shaping our minds, our minds shape the world, then a priori truths are not only possible, but necessary. (This is found in the Preface to the Second Edition)

Arjen, contrary to what kennethemy says, I believe that a discussion on a priori intuitions are well within the realm of a discussion on synthetic a priori judgments.

However, as we are not all clear on what a priori intuitions are, will you kindly explain?


In an earlier post I was careful to say that the language was Kant's, but that Kant was talking about the same distinctions that Hume was making.

The issue was why Kant had posed as the central question of the First Critique, how are synthetic a priori judgments possible. Now, although Kant talks about a priori intuitions, what they are has nothing much to do with the issue which is the main issue of the First Critique (as I pointed out, Kant writes that the possibility of synthetic a priori judgments is a "matter of life or death for philosophy" so he must have thought it was pretty important). So the question about a priori intuition is a diversion.
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Mon 12 May, 2008 07:32 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
In an earlier post I was careful to say that the language was Kant's, but that Kant was talking about the same distinctions that Hume was making.


You're right, my apologies.

Quote:
Now, although Kant talks about a priori intuitions, what they are has nothing much to do with the issue which is the main issue of the First Critique (as I pointed out, Kant writes that the possibility of synthetic a priori judgments is a "matter of life or death for philosophy" so he must have thought it was pretty important).


I agree with you that an aim of the first Critique is to explore 'how synthetic a priori judgments are possible', for Kant clearly felt that before we can make a decision about the nature of a priori judgments, we must first critique the faculties that we possess for cognizing a priori judgments.

However, I think Kant also set out to explore the nature of a priori judgments and what the synthetic a priori judgments that we have about objects are. In the Preface the Second Edition, when Kant talks about his Copernican Revolution he states:

'Let us then make the experiment whether we may not be more successful in metaphysics, if we assume that the objects must conform to our cognition. This appears, at all events, to accord better with the possibility of our gaining the end we have in view, that is to say, of arriving at the cognition of objects a priori, of determining something with respect to the objects, before they are given to us.'
 
Arjen
 
Reply Tue 13 May, 2008 11:42 am
@de Silentio,
I would like to point out that what a priori intuitions are is the core of what "Kritik der reinen Vernunft" is all about. It is the very reason that makes synthetic a priori judgements possible because it is what "steers" our thoughts towards the things that are a priori. It is what links the transcendental with metaphysics.

My point earlier was that without such intuitions everything would be derived from what we percieve (or think we percieve, for in this example the categoria are still present apparently). Only cause and effect in our heads would be the case. We would loose sight of the things-in-themselves quite quickly because we would be forced to base ourselves only on our perceptions. In reality we somehow have an "intuitive" feeling for certain things. When we deviate too much from that our "intuitions" give us a shove in the right direction. For everyone that "too much" is different though. It depends on how much one would "accept" or "deny" such intuitions to guide one.

This sort of thing shows itself in people finding sanity after periods of psychosis for instance, or moments of clarity that addicts experience, etc.
 
Shostakovich phil
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 07:18 pm
@Arjen,
What Kant meant by 'How are synthetic cognitions a priori possible?' is central to his whole critical philosophy. He attempted to show speculative philosophers (metaphysicians) a new way to think ... or direct themselves. He wanted/demanded from them the same a priority certainty as found in mathematics and geometry. He therefore asks the question to those same speculators and demands an answer, and without which, he states there is no need to listen to whatever they have to offer in the way of metaphysics. All metaphysics, without grounding itself on a priori, synthetic cognitions a priori, amount to useless systems of philosophy, and there's no need for us to take them seriously. Kant was adamant in this regard. And since there has never been any system of philosophy fitting Kant's definition of a legitimate metaphysics, then metaphysics itself does not exist. This however, does not mean that it is impossible for speculative philosophers to achieve a metaphysic in line with Kant's critical demands. Kant simply raised the standard to a much higher and next to impossible to achieve level. And in this regard I think Kant was right on the money and no ... he cannot be debunked, no matter how hard one might try. Hegel gave it a shot. But he flopped on his nose and went out before the bell sounded to start the first round.
 
 

 
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