Kant is testing his 'Copernican Hypothesis'
He suggests that we will test the hypothesis that in some respect the objects of cognition must conform to our
mode of cognition a priori.
Because it cannot be proven empirically with respect to particular matters of fact, he must test it against the whole
range of possible experience.
In the theoretical philosophy, by experience Kant means empirical knowledge.
HE IS ASKING: HOW IS EMPIRICAL KNOWLEDGE POSSIBLE?
Empirical knowledge is possible only because our very mode of cognition involves universal and
necessary structures—that we structure experience a priori, and its that structuring that makes
empirical knowledge at all possible.
The next issue for Kant will be the issue of moral experience. What are the a priori conditions for moral
experience, making a distinction between what we want to do and what we ought to do.
On both accounts, Kant believes as indisputable that we have such experience ie empirical knowledge and moral
Hume raises the question of the validity of the principle of causality. Kant must show that Hume is wrong, but
Kant is indebted to Hume 'awakening him from his dogmatic slumber.' But kant believes indisputably that we have
empirical knowledge, it is a fact of our experience, and without it we could not navigate the world. In fact, the
problems of calculating ends and trying to navigate our knowledge of causes to get what we want would never have
arised for us if we had no empirical knowledge. The skeptical approach is to say we have no empirical knowledge
whatsoever. That is not Kant's position. We already know something in the way in which we encounter the world
qua objective world.
A lot of philosophers say that the problem with Kant is not his assumption that we have some kind of pragmatic
knowledge, it is that he thinks of the subject that has this knowledge as too much a logical subject for whom the
world is a panorama we look at and make our way through rationally. He needs to see that we look at the world as
embodied agents who engage that world physically and not just mentally/optically. If Kant did take embodiment
seriously, that would put his argument in question! How so? Because he wants to argue that there are universal and
necessary conditions on the side of the knowing subject that makes our experience possible in the ﬁrst place. Once
you introduce embodiment, it becomes more speciﬁc—not ﬁnite rational beings in general, but human beings in
particular! It raises questions like 'is the condition of the possibility of engaging in the objective world actually
rooted in the fact that we have imposable thumbs...?'
Kant hesitates sometimes upon this precipice. ie in critique of pure reason he says this account may not hold for all
ﬁnite rational beings but it does at least for human beings.
These critiques of Kant don't rea▯y jeopardize Kant's hypothesis entirely though.
THE TRANSCENDENTAL AESTHETIC
The content we need in order to begin to know comes from sensation of things outside us.
By transcendental Kant means not knowledge of objects but of our mode of cognition of objects in so far as that is
possible prior/independent to/of experience.
Is there something that belongs to our mode of cognition that makes it possible for us to experience objects?
Aesthetic: aisthesis means sensation in greek. the opposite of aesthetic in the phrase thranscendental aesthetic is
anaesthetic - no sensation whatsoever. kant divides the world into theoretical knowledge, moral knowledge, and
aesthetic knowledge, but aesthetic here means the context of art/beauty. but kant usually uses aesthetic in the
original sense of having to do with sensation, not art.
so transcendental aesthetic is the conditions a priori of our apprehension of our senses: INTUITION.
in Kant's view, all knowledge begins with sensation, because that is initially where we derive the content of
knowing. so if all this were a dream right from the get-go, then the problem of knowledge would never arise. the
problem arises because it belongs to the structure of our cognition that something be given to our knowledge to be
known. What is known is given to us because our a priori conditions make it in the act of apprehending it, make it in the
form it is because it cannot be known except as it is given.
So for Kant, knowing in its fundamental sense is INTUITION before the UNDERSTANDING even begins. cf.
abstraction in Aristotle as being fundamentally incapable of error, as is division, but only in combination do we
Intuition is a combination of what comes from the object in itself and what comes from the knowing subject in
order to have the combinated appearance. He is trying to ﬁgure out what comes from the subject a priori.
In the Prolegomena, however, Kant doesn't really begin with experience but instead with the fact of the truth of
certain positive sciences taken as unquestionably in principle true. (this is why Critique of Pure Reason is more
persuasive and eﬀective as an argument, because in Prolegomena he takes basic arithmetic and euclidian geometry,
and this opens up criticism from some people on the grounds that euclidean geometry is not absolutely and
undeniably true because we have diﬀerent geometries as well). The strategy here is arguing from he fact of the
truth of these basic mathematics to the structures of a priori cognition.
*he also starts with a deﬁnition of nature that is newtonian: matter under universal laws, which opens kant up to
more detraction, but again, we can drop the prolegomena which is for instructors a manual and just go back to the
more defendable arguments in the critique of pure reason.
Begins the transcendental aesthetic by looking at our ordinary objective view of the world as things standing in
spatiotemporal relation to other objective things.
SO: fundamentally, for Kant, knowing is intuition: something being given to our senses. Then why do we need a
transcendental logic after this aesthetic? because Knowledge for Kant has two diﬀerent dimensions: it is not
enough for ﬁnite being that something be given to our knowledge. Something given to our knowledge has to be
understood—has to be subsumed by our concepts.
"thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind"
nothing can be given to our understanding except through our intuition, and nothing intuited can be thought
wihtout the concepts residing in the understanding. both factors are necessary to have cognition.
both of these are necessary. neither one in isolation is suﬃcient.
Kant's view diﬀers then from both dogmatists who think concepts are suﬃcient unto themselves, and from
empiricists/skeptics who think all our concepts derive from experience. Kant says both are necesary.
Thinkers after Kant say that there are instances when another subject addresses me and my concepts fail. The
presence of another person are a counter example to Kant's claim that intuitions without concepts are blind. This
above quote destroys religion's dependence on revalation: the commanding presence of God that broke through
our conceptual determinations of the world, which Kant says is impossible. (does this mean Kant is a kind of
- argument in the prolegomena
- Kant makes this claim based on the analysis of arithmetic
- Kant's example: 7+5=12
- kant's claim is that this is not an analytic proposition but a synthetic proposition. meaning that no amount of