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Dr. Burch - Immanuel Kant Notes 13

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Robert Burch

PHILOSOPHY 343 IMMANUEL KANT We begin to transition from Theoretical Philosophy to his Practical Philosophy How is it Kant's Moral Philosophy serves to solve the problem that his whole system begins? The OBJECTIVITY of OBJECTS Kant's examination of the a priori conditions of objects being objects for us in the first place actually does constitute an ontology. The question of beings as beings is answered in Kant's philosophy as the objectivity of objects. It is answered by a priori forms of the intuition: space and time, and of the understanding: categories and concepts. Laying out these conditions, for Kant, is prior to any question of particular objects or illusions vs veridical perception, etc. these are the general conditions for the possibility of any experience of objects, including dreams. The distinction between dreams and waking is that waking is objects of which we can have genuine empirical knowledge by their conformity to the principle of causality. That is ontology for Kant. That ontology is limited. It doesn't give us any transcendant knowledge of beings in themself. It applies only to the world as it appears to us. This involves a shift in the basic question Kant is asking. Dogmatics asked about the really real with regards to the things in themselves, but Kant's shift that limits it to the world of appearance changes the question from the real reality of things to the effective reality of things within the bounds of our experience. That change will become decisive or continental philosophy. When we get to Hegel, there is a characiture of him that says he goes back to dogmatism in the extreme, making the world from our thoughts entirely. That is wrong. Hegel accepts Kant to the extreme. What is real or actual is that in the bounds of our experience. For Kant it raises the issue of 'what about things in themselves?' Kant's view is that the idea of the thing in itself is not the idea of a reality that is the genuine object of our knowledge but we cannot attain it, but that the idea of the thign in itself is part of our conception of truth. It is a meaning that is a part of our project of cognition which looks outside itself. But what we effectively know is the thing as it is given to us within the enabling limits of cognition. For Kant, the thing in itself is a meaning but not a genuine object of knowledge. The object is what appears to us. B45: the thing in itself is not and cannot be cognized through the a priori conditions of experience, it is also never asked about in experience. So it is a menaing thats part of the project of cognition, but what we ask about is only what is appearing to us in experience. we have no interest in the thing in itself outside our experience. in that case it has no relevance to me. This will create a problem for Hegel, the idea that there is a meaning that is necessary for cognition but cannot itself be subsumed under a concept (be cognized). For Kant, ontology is (as the question of beings as beings) answered in terms of the a priori structure of our mode of cognition and it has to do with the objectivity of objects. We are, on this account, passive observers of the world. We constitute the world in its basic structure as part of our mode of cognition, but the model we have in mind is one of a knowing subject observing objects and seeking knowledge about objects. That's the totality of the world. WHAT DOES KANT DO WITH THIS ACCOUNT? he says this account sets limits to our knowledge. what we have, in his terms, is only the transcendental knowledge of the way objects come meaningfully to be for us. That is the genuine limit of our knowledge. This is not skepticism, it is setting the proper limits to knowledge, in Kant's view. These are the beginnings of Phenomenology. We ask how things come meaningfully to be for us. What virtue does it have: it sets limits to our knowledge in order to make room for GLAUBE, FAITH/BELIEF. that faith has not to do with our theoretical knowing of the world but with our practical/moral reason. He has set limits to our genuine knowledge as object knowledge of the world as it appears within the horizon of our experience in order to make room for belief or faith understood as justified claims about the world of moral experience. They're not knowledge claims strictly speaking. To have knowledge for Kant is to make a judgement and have the objective means of verifying that judgement. He makes judgements (like about god and immortality) for which there is no objective means of verification, but Kant will argue that we have a subjective justification for these judgements: they serve a particular need of our reason to make sense of moral experience. so we have so far 1. ONTOLOGYAS TRANSCENDENTAL PHILOSOPHY 2. LIMITATION OF GENUINE KNOWLEDGE TO OBJECTS OF EXPERIENCE 3. IN ORDERTO MAKE ROOM FOR MORAL EXPERIENCE which in some way will be a matter of glaube rather than verified knowledge, but some part of moral experience will in truth be a matter of genuine knowledge. - but if i say for Kant that genuine knowledge is making a judgement and having the objective means of verifying it, but then in the realm of moral experience some thigns are a matter of glaube and some of knowledge, tha tmeans there are two conceptions of knowledge for Kant: 1. knowledge of objective world as passive observers with a priori conditions. that kind of knowledge leads to judgements that go "it is certain that...", it is a matter of stating an objective truth or certainty having to do with our observation of the world. but in kant's view that doesnt exhaust the totality of our experience, because the most fundamental form of experience is not exhausted by our passive observation of objects of knowledge—so he is implicitly beginning to criticize the whole project of philosophy at this time, the project of object knowledge and overcoming ourselves, but that posited us a passive knowers, human beings as passive subject trying to get verified knowledge. kant is arguing that there is another form of knowing that has not to do with passive logical knowing but as an AGENT. as a rational being who is compelled to act in the world. 2. Kant's basic thesis is that in that very compulsion to act in the world there are truths revealed. those truths take the form not of an objective certainty. not it is certain that... but rather i am certain that.. . Kant is certain of his freedom and his moral obligation (duty rather than inclination, the ought-to-do's) those two truths, that i am free and that i am obligated, are not truths of object knowledge. THIS IS AN EXISTENTIAL TRUTH. i know that i am free and that i;m obligated not as a passive being but as a subject agent compelled to act in the world. so Kant's theoretical philosophy as limiting our knowledge to the world of appearances is the origin of phenomenology, the question of beings as beings is a logos of phenomena - how things appear. Kant's moral philosophy: not all knowledge is object knowledge but some knowledge is subjective in my agency and action, this is the origin of existential philosophy. What is at stake in the latter is our moral agency. Both of these parts are forms of knowledge for Kant. So when Kant says I set limit to knowledge to make room for belief, the aspect of belief will be over and above these two fundamental things i know as an agent: that i'm free and i'm obligation. the argument takes the form: my freedom and obligation create the conditions that justify my beliefs about god and immortality, but my knowing that i am free and that i am obligated is genuine knowledge. it is not having that knowledge but that my very being is that knowledge. I realize in my agency (in both senses of 'agency'—making it real and recognizing it) my freedom and obligation. at the beginning of the course we quote the first and last paragraph of the critique of pure reason. reason cannot answer those questions with pure knowledge. you can answer part of it by reframing it as appearances, but the other set of questions about god and immortality, those questions are not answered theoretically but practically. so how is it the case that our thirst of knowledge can have complete satisfaction with respect to a▯ of these questions? kant's answer is we have complete satisfaction because some of these questions, the most important questions, are answered in the moral sphere. not in terms of objectively verified claims about things but in terms of subjectively justified beliefs about things. so metaphysics finds its complete satisfaction in moral philosophy with respect to those things that have to do with glaube and not object-knowledge. in order for our need-of-reason to have complete satisfaction in this way: some things it knows and some it is justified in believing, then the need of reason has to be somethign more than the quest for knowledge. and there is only one place in kant's whole corpus where he acknowledges this specifically: in the prolegomena in the passage where he talks about human reason giving up on metaphysics cause it can't have pure knowledge. but this is like human beings stopping breathing to not breathe impure air. he goes on to say that his critique does satisfy the need of our reason, which is more than the thirst for knowledge. so he begins theoretically, sets limits to knowledge theoretically, to make room for moral experience. but the implication is not that these are equally valuable and important, it is that the moral realm is more important than the theoretical realm, because as rational beings, the need of our reason is more than the quest for knowledge. So Kant offers us a system of reason. It culminates in questions of God, Freedom, and Immortality. So in its ultimate purpose it has not to do with items of objective knowledge but with knowledge of moral belief. He justifies this in his belief that the need of reason is not simply to have knowledge but to make sense. That the ultimate task of our reason is to make sense of the totality of our experience. Two things required in Kant's view to make sense of our moral experience is the belief in God and Immortality. Whether his arguments on these are valid we can leave for later, but the point is that ultimately for Kant what we are seekign is a comprehensive sense and meaning of things that makes sense of the totality of our experience, and that is somethign different ▯om and transcends our
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