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Dr. Burch - Immanuel Kant Notes 1

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Robert Burch

PHILOSOPHY 343 KANT TO NIETZSCHE In the case of Kant, he thinkst hat philosophy is fulfilled, realized, in a system of reason. In that system of reason there is a balance between what it is you can rationally know and verify and what it is you can rationally believe. "I found it necessary to set limits to knowledge in order to make room for faith/belief" - this is how he separates nature and causality from morality and freedom - does so in a system of reason in which knowledge and belief are held in balance In the case of Hegel, he thinks the system of reason has to be a system of 'science' or 'knowledge' and whereever philosophy makes room for belief, claims to truth that cannot be experientially verified, wherever that happens philosophy fails. He thinks Kant's whole project is worked out by Kant in a misguided way. Philosophy can be and needs to be worked out as an all comprehensive system of knowledge. The way Hegel reads Kant will not be the same way as Kant reads himself. The reason its different is that for Kant philosophy is fulfilled in a system of reason where knowing and believing are held in a rational balance, whereas for Hegel, all believing, all meaning you intend, has to be rationally comprehended. The response to Hegel is the positing of a meaning that cannot be reduced to a rational truth. ie Kierkegaard - is there an absolute that is fundamental to our self that cannot be understood in rational terms For Hegel, all my relations to the world are conceptually determined. there is no knowledge of objects in the world where the objects aren't subsumed to a concept. When you have engagements with other people, that too is conceptually determined. So there's no knowledge of an other except within a conceptual framework. There is no other in itself. The very being of the other is its being as conceptually determined. Freuerbach and Kierkegaard come along and say no there is a meaning that cannot be subsumed under concepts. THE STARTING POINT The first sentence of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason: "Human reason has this peculiar fate: that by its nature as reason it is compelled to ask questions which, in virtue of the limitations of its power, it is unable to answer." Kant talks right from the beginning about human reason. But he can't lay claim to some peculiar metaphysical knowledge of reason itself. He can't presume to know that reason is human. He can't presume a metaphysical knowledge which then allows him to set up his problem. If there is an understanding of reason, it is an understanding that derives from reason. The first two words of the text identify human reason as the task at hand. If the task of ø is to have a god's eye view, an absolute knowledge, then you have the paradox of 'how do you understand or measure the limitation of human knowledge with respect to this divine ideal' or 'how is it possible, when you are inside plato's cave, to understand what the outside is like?' the 'meno paradox' - how can you search for knowledge? if you know what it is you are looking for, then you know and there is no need to search. if you don't know, you don't know what you are looking for. Plato's solution: it is false to think about the problem in terms of absolutes (absolute knowing and absolute ignorance), rather the issue becomes 'you in some sense already know' and you must recall what you always already know. Kant is playing with that kind of issue in such a way as to suggest that we cannot presume from the outset a knowledge of reason in itself. What he is reporting on is not so much a metaphysical claim as an experiential report. This is the strange thing about our human reason, its peculiar fate: it asks questions it can't answer. We can offer judgements but can't access secure knowledge. Our judgments conflict and seem to be unverifiable. He goes on to say: "the perplexity into which it [human reason] thus falls is not due to any fault of its own." Human reason has its own inner dynamic. It is not an abstract form. Not a set of rules learned from the logic book. Reason is for Kant a self activity. Reason is what our reason defines as rational. What is rational is what our reason contitutes the rational to be. There were Greek philosophers who thought that but it was lost until Kant. Reason has its own inner dynamic. It is not apart from the passions, cold
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