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.
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,
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/