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Dr. Burch - Immanuel Kant Notes 7

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Robert Burch

PHILOSOPHY 343 IMMANUEL KANT two issues to look at: 1. the implications of kant's hypothesis with respect to fundamental philosophical concepts and ideas. implications for 'truth', 'essence', what we mean by 'being', the contrast between what we think and reality. And Kant's understanding of 'the thing in itself'. 2. transcendental aesthetic: how it is possible for anything to come to be an object of sense experience. all objects are given to our senses through the forms of space and time, and those are not inherent properties of the objects, but just the form that we, as finite subjects, structure and order what is given us. this thesis initiates an approach to philosophical subjects in terms of which we order and structure our experience in the first place. in kant's view, this structuring is not individual but universal. - it is ambiguous as to whether it is universal for everything or just for humans SEE QUOTATIONS ON ECLASS THAT CORRESPOND TO THE FOLLOWING TRUTH kant transforms the meaning of truth. correspondence of intellect to the thing, a passive correspondence, the conformity of our soul to the permanent order of things (the ideas in the mind of God that are the underlaying structure of the essence and existence of things). truth in this form is ultimately passive. we cannot engage the ultimate structure of things in action. Nothing can alter that order. to get at that truth meant getting aside and escaping all our limitations, our body foremost, setting that aside to know the truth in itself. in the traditional sense of the term, to know the truth in that way is to be in-formed. what we know in-forms, shapes / forms our very soul. on that model, the soul, of its nature, took on the form of what is really real, took on the form of the ultimate divine structure. the circle in this thinking: in order to know that we are grasping / contemplating the truth, we must have metaphysical knowledge of our nature, but that means we would have that knowledge before the project of knowing the ultimate truth even commences. kant critiques that model: states that the nominal definition of truth is our conformity of intellect with things. that's the basic definition of truth, traditional, that he adheres to. but he thinks there is a more fundamental transcendental conception of truth: THE CONFORMITY OF THE OBJECTS THAT CAN BE GIVEN TO OUR KNOWLEDGE TO THE MODE OF OUR KNOWING. within this framework, yes the nominal definition of truth is getting it right: the conformity of our intellect to things, but he reverses the action. that definition also allows for a definition of error: thinking our judgements conform to the things as they are but we get it wrong. The problem for Kant is not so much how we get it right, but how can we happen to get it wrong? what allows us to get it wrong, because in order to identify a problem, to even have the project of knowing, you must have an understanding of error. so the beginning of the philosophical project is error and ignorance that recognizes itself as such. kant says our cognitions have to conform with the general rules of cognition as rules of inference that general logic provides. if you contradict yourself you can know you got it wrong. contradiction is a sign of error, in kant's view. however, those conditions are only formal conditions. they hold generally for all possible cognition, but they don't have any content! so you can know you got it wrong BUT you can't be assured, simply on rules of general logic, that you got it right. So the thesis he puts forward: there are conditions that are conditions of our mode of cognition under which alone objects can be given to our knowledge. and those conditions constitute what he calls transcendental truth. transcendental because it deals with the a priori conditions of objects being given to us. they are therefore true of all possible objects. the negative condition of the possibility of knowledge: the principle of non contradiction. next he says: -we have no genuine knowledge before beyond or ourside the range of possible experience. no transcendent knowledge of things in themselves. all knowledge limited to the bounds of our possible experience. transcendental truth which precedes and makes possible all empirical truth [and error] consists in the general relation to all possible experience. - transcendental truth has to do with those structures that hold for all possible experience. empirical truth can be juxtaposed to empirical falsehoods, our empirical knowledge involves this interplay of getting it right and getting it wrong. BUT ON THE TRANSCENDENTAL LEVEL, WE CAN NEVER GETANYTHING WRONG BECAUSE IT IS THE FILTERTHROUGH WHICH WE CAN KNOWANYTHING ATALL. IT IS THE VERY CONDITION FOR EMPIRICALLY GETTING ANYTHING RIGHT ORWRONG. we cannot get anything wrong with respect to transcendental truth, unless you offer a whole other ontology than kant offers. if someone says that the transcendental structure is real but not universal and immutable, then someone can say it is possible to get it wrong transcendentally, but that requires a very different approach. the fundamental point for Kant is that his whole perspective undercuts the egocentric predicament. coming out of descartes ø had a problem: we can absolutely be certain in the act of thinking. it created in philosophy an egocentric predicament: i can be certain of my own conscious states, but anything i judge about the external world and the existence of other subjects' minds involves an inference from my own experience. the problem is that that is an inference and that can be called into question. so modern philosophers have somewhere an account of how we can affirm the existence of the outer world and outer minds. if it is all in your head your experience is idiotic (which means exclusive to you yourself). this came to mean really stupid because if it is exclusive to you yourself then you don't fit into the common world. but how do we build that bridge. the project became, after descartes, how do you build that bridge? Kant changes / sets the pattern for continental philosophy by shifting the argument: if it were not the case that we existed in a common world then we would never have purely particular, idiotic, individual experience in the first place: so the force of the argument is to say that our experience of the world as objectively there is the prior condition for coming to have particular ideas that belong to me alone. judgement of perception vs judgment of experience: perception: idiotic - my own judgement. the reports of what i see. they aren't false. the force of the judgment turns on my subjectivity. they are particular judgments to me. experience: not egocentric, judgments that refer to the world. it is not i see a thermos cup, it is there is a thermos cup. kant argues that judgements of experience are the prior condition for my being able to make judgements of perception (idiosyncratic judgements). if all your experiences were simply subject centered, you would have no sense of self and would not be able to report through judgemetns on your experience. even in a dream, the fundamental sense of it is not that it is happening in your head but that it is an objective world. but we can identify them as njust going on in our head presupposes a knowledge of already being in an objective world shared by others. i only come to be aware of myself in relation to an actually existing objective world to which i stand in relation. - you can't start out as a subject certain of itself that then builds a bridge. we already exist in that objective common world and that is the condition of us being subjects in the first plac
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