Class Notes (810,237)
Canada (494,016)
Philosophy (151)
PHIL343 (7)

Dr. Burch - Immanuel Kant Notes 5

4 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Alberta
Robert Burch

PHILOSOPHY 343 IMMANUEL KANT we know appearances but we do not know things in themselves KANT defines metaphysics in a very traditional way: that metaphysics has to do with what is transcendant with respect to the physical empirical world, the limits of our ordinary everyday experience, metaphysics means 'beyond natural science, beyond natural things, beyond our experience of the physical world, metaphysics is about things meta ta phusika, it means beyond physics—trans phusica.' physics here means nature itself. We don't have genuine knowledge of transcendant matters. When we seek that knowledge, we affirm reasoned positions that are mutually exclusive, ending up in a kind of dogmatism (simply asserting the truth without genuine knowledge). that leads to the affirmation of skepticism! but skepticism too is still stuck in the same paradigm and hence simply gives up rather than finding a new way out: the subjective apparatus, the conditions by which anything appears at all. if we have no transcendant knowledge, but we inevitably ask these questions, and the answers are important to our empirical and moral life, how then is metaphysics possible? so the question is not that metaphysics has been actual as a kind of inquiry, but that it has failed as a kind of inquiry because it has never obtained genuine knowledge. his question then is: HOW IS METAPHYSICS POSSIBLE ATALL? one part of his answer, as we've seen, is that insofar as we are rational beings we will inevitably ask these questions. this implies, for kant, that metaphysics is a universal human concern. if that's the case, then cultures that didn't ask metaphysical questions, strictly speaking, would inevitably, at some point, come to ask these questions. how is metaphysics possible as a science if we can't have objectively verified transcendant knowledge, then the answer is it is not possible at a▯. so in order to show that metaphysics is possible as a science, to not end up a skeptic, kant must change the question itself. the way he does this: Traditionally metaphysics (dogmatism) sought knowledge of the way things truly are in themselves, beyond all the happenstance and contingencies of our experience of the physical world, ie Plato's view of truth, but we must change the question to ask not about reality in itself but about the universal and necessary subjective conditions of the possibility of experience. Or, in other words, what are the universal and necessary limits of our experience? HE IS ASKING ABOUTTHE SUBJECTIVE CONDITIONS the way in which things come to be as objects of knowledge might not be what kant thinks it is, it could be your language or gender or ethnicity or socioeconomic condition etc, but that way of thinking about reality is Kant's revolution, the way Kant has changed the question. Kant looks then at the most a priori conditions for knowing anything, but we must remember that each individual's experience of those conditions might be distorted by further complications in subjectivity and embodiment and sociality etc etc. Kant is trying to move us away from the concern with the way things are in themselves. We must orient our being in the world according to our knowledge of the universal and necessary conditions of the possibility of experience ahead of any a posteriori understanding of how the world works in itself. ON LIMITS Schranken - limitations in a negative sense. thinking about the limits of our possible knowledge in this sense is Platonic: being mortal and embodied limits me from knowing reality is in itself. the limits of my experience are negative limitations. You can reasonably imagine, think, of the possibility of escaping those limitations to know things as they truly are in themselves. the body is the tomb of the soul. living as an embodied creature prevents, limits, me from knowing the truth. the philosophical project then is a good death, you shuffle off this mortal coil in order to be reborn to the truth in itself. You must escape the cave, escape the Schranken. Grenzen - Kant doesn't use the word Schranken or that conceptual framework to discuss the conditions of experience. Rather he talks about the conditions for the possibility of experience as enabling limits, positive limits, the limits which make experience possible at all. Without these limits, we could not know anything. In Kant's conception, it makes no sense to talk about your experience without the Grenzen conditions. Kant's answer to the problem: give up the quest for transcendant knowledge of things in themselves, because that quest is a trick. If we pursue it without a critique of pure reason, we end up in antinomies/contradictions. We can, however, have transcendantal knowledge of the conditions of the possibility of experience. So we can know the very framework within which we can universally and necessarily have any cognition at all. why is that a metaphysical question? because what is actual, what is really real, is what is actual, what is real, within the bounds of our experience. It makes no sense to affirm the actuality of something that doesn't actually enter the bounds of our experience. implications for God - the truth of God is the effective presence of God in your experience. the new shift: HOW DO THINGS COME MEANINGFULLYTO BE? HOW DO THINGS ENTERTHE BOUNDS OF OUR EXPERIENCE? the only questions that matter concern those things which are actual in our world, effectively real. he takes this position with respect to both metaphysics generally, beings as beings - ontology, and metaphysics concerning the highest being - theology. ONTOLOGY FOR KANT the universal and necessary subjective forms under which all things can be present to us: SPACE & TIME and then there are a whole set of categories under which we are able to know what appears to us through sense awareness the transcendental philosophy (which he equates with ontology) consideres the principles that hold for our experience of anything, whether or not a particular object is given to our awareness. it's just the conditions a priori, regardless of what we are sensing. What about the real issues though? — specific metaphysics, that deals with the highest things: GOD, IMMORTALITY, MORALITY. With respect to these things, we don't have transcendant knowledge in the traditional sense, but we do have GLAUBE - JUSTIFIED BELIEF. Kant is saying that with respect to our empirical knowledge of the world, there are universal necessary conditions to the possibility of our empirical knowledge, but with respect to our moral experience, there are certain things we know, but ultimate things like god, freedom, immortality—these are things we are justified in believing. p.103 in our text: "i found it necessary to set limits to knowledge in order to make room for faith" - setting limts to our knowledge of nature to make room for our practical knowledge/faith" - kant argues that a belief in God and Freedom and Immortality is justified because thsoe beliefs are necessary in order to make sense of our moral experience. they are not items of objective knowledge on the one hand, yet on the other hand they are not merely subjective opinions, these are beliefs that are justified because universa▯y and necessarily they satisfy the interest of our moral reason. In order to make sense of what we do know we are rationally justified in affirming God and Freedom and Immortality. the structure of the argument is the same: moving from empirical knowledge, on the other hand our moral experience (Distinguishing between what we ought to do and what we want to do) and we ask what are the conditions of possibility for our experience in both these realms. these beliefs are justified because they make sense of the moral experience that we have. - he changes the direction of inquiry from what is transcendant to what is immanent. what is there to what makes it possible for somethign to be there. cause that's all there is for kant, to talk about reality outside the bounds of experience is pointless. Kant uses Granzen with respect to all finite rational beings, so the question is are there rea▯y such universal limits or are the limits changeable, limited, determined or conditioned by any number of things, etc. for kant they are universal and necessary. one indication of the challenge to that universality is that subsequent philosophers who take kant as their ancestor talk less about limits and more about HORIZONS. ie Heidegger does not talk about the a priori limits but rather the horizons of understanding/interpretation/etc. The difference: the limits, for Kant, don't change. they are rooted in the very nature of our human reason. horizons are something that expand and contract, relative to your place within the horizon, and changing that place can change the horizon. the very idea of the horizon is that there is something beyond it. begins to think about life in terms of interpretive frameworks/ horizon
More Less

Related notes for PHIL343

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.