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PHIL 2080 Oct. 29 Kant.docx

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York University
PHIL 2080
Claudine Verheggen

PHIL 2080; Kant; October 29 Lecture Notes 1. Kant is going to try to show, with much difficulty, that “everything which happens has its cause.” Page 50 B13 a. That judgment Kant says is a synthetic a priori judgment. i. In the concept of „something which happens‟ I do indeed think of an existence which is preceded by time and from this concept analytic judgments may obtain. ii. But the concept of a „cause’ lies entirely outside the other concept of „something that happens’ and signifies something different from that which happens and is not therefore in any way contained in this latter representation. 2. It is a synthetic a priori judgment: it is known before experience, irrefutable by experience, and its contrary does not imply as a contradiction. It is necessarily true, irrefutable by experience, the negation does not lead to a contradiction, and it is ampliative (informative, extends our knowledge). a. We are not contradicting ourselves when we say „everything has a cause.‟ b. For Hume it would be a synthetic a posterior judgment; a matter of fact judgment. It is both a priori and analytic. It would be a matter of fact for Hume because it could not be demonstrably certain. It cannot be demonstrated or discovered by thought alone. For Hume since there are only two ways of justifying a judgment, either through demonstration or experience, this judgment could not be demonstrated by experience and indeed as a result this judgment could not be known. It is a statement that is contingently true. c. Does Hume even believe that „everything which happens has its cause‟? Given his analysis of cause, he says since indeed the idea of cause is a simple idea, we can give it meaning and content only by discovering the impressions from which it is derived, since he concludes that he can never observe the causal relationship, or necessary connexion that obtains between two events that are causally related, since we cannot observe the power that may be in the cause and makes the event happen, he has to conclude that the idea of cause is derived from an impression in the mind, an impression that we get after observing many conjunctions of events, after observing many events of a certain kind being followed by events of another kind. After much experience we develop through habit in our minds a feeling of determination such that after seeing lots of Bs followed from As we now just observe an A and form a belief about B before it even happens, and accompanying this feeling is the feeling of inevitability, we cannot help believing that B will follow that we are not yet observing. d. As a result it is not for Hume that we can claim to know that there are causal relations in the outside world. All there are constant conjunctions, events constantly following others, and the feeling of determination in the mind. For Hume indeed the idea of cause, of necessary connexion, is something that we acquire on the basis of experience. He seems to think that it is possible to experience an event as „uncaused‟. This is exactly what Kant wants to deny. 3. For Kant the statement that „everything has a cause‟ is the statement that describes what makes experience possible. We could not experience an event as „uncaused’ and we know this a priori. We know our justification for making that judgment is not some appeal to experience. On the contrary, our making that judgment is what makes experience of events possible to begin with. B231 Page 219 “Experience itself is thus possible only insofar as we subject to succession of appearances and therefore all ululation through the law of causality.” a. This is difficult to show. Kant makes six attempts at showing this. The first exposition is on Page 218 (second paragraph), second on Page 219 (apprehension of manifold of appearances is always successive), third on Page 222 (last paragraph; let us suppose that there is nothing antecedent to an event), fourth on Page 224 (top; we have then to show...), fifth on Page 225 (penultimate paragraph; if then it is a necessary law of our sensibility); sixth on page 226 (last paragraph; the proof of this principle rests on the following considerations). b. The way Kant tries to do this is by asking what makes experience of an event possible. What we must distinguish is between one kind of succession and another kind of succession. Not every experience of succession is an experience of an event. Distinguish between succession of experiences, which Hume thinks we can have, and the experience of succession, which Hume does not think we can have. c. Page 219 second paragraph; the apprehension of the manifold of appearances is always successive, is always generated in the mind successively. But there is the question, what is the difference between experiencing succession as an event and experiencing it not as an event. d. Page 220 “In spite of the fact that the representations of appearances are always successive I have to show what sort of a connection in time belongs to the manifold in the appearances themselves.” Here he wants to distinguish between the way we experience those appearances, always in succession, and what is the case of the appearances themselves. He does not say that every time we experience succession we are apprehending an event. Experience of succession is not always experience of an event. Even though the experience always feels the same to us insofar it is successive what corresponds to it in the appearances is not always of the same kind. 4. Page 220 Kant starts by giving the example of the apprehension of the manifold in the appearance of a house which stands before me is successive, presumably first my perceptions (Page 221 B38) could begin with the roof and then the basement. The apprehension is successive, but the question then arises he asks whether the manifold of the house is in itself successive. At first there is the bottom and then the top and then the left a
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