If he were alive today, I suggest to you that Kant's corporeal manifestation would be that of a paunchy, balding man, eternally sixty years old, who is often seen in his yard, cleaning out his gutters or basement wells or tending his garden joylessly. A stubborn elastic band around the stockings' crown tries to hold them steadily around the mid-calf, but the up-again, down-again athleticism of gardening forbids this vain hold-out against gravity. Kant's legs -- when both his safari-aspirational shorts and his stockings are performing optimally -- are visible from the mid-thigh to the mid-calf and are fantastically white and nearly hairless. This is what Immanuel Kant would look like today, probably.
Proof As Einstein exasperatedly said: if Kant had only been able to stop pontificating about the nature of time and space, he might actually have discovered something interesting about them. Kant repeatedly tells us that time and space are not things; but Einstein's insight is that this is wrong. Space-time is, indeed, a thing that we can roughly conceptualize as a kind of invisible fluid in which we have our physical being. Kant argues, roughly, that it is not meaningful to inquire about whether the universe is finite or infinite in space and time. The fact that time and space are things radically changes the situation. Contrary to Kant's claims, the whole of space-time is now also a thing. I myself who, without wishing to boast, have lectured to my pupils, in all innocence, upon the philosophy of the said Immanuel Kant, I can see no precise ruling for the case of social casuistry with which I am now confronted in that Critique of Practical Reason in which the great renegade of Protestantism platonised in the German manner for a Germany prehistorically sentimental and aulic, ringing all the changes of a Pomeranian mysticism. Einstein's special theory of relativity crucially depends on the insight that different observers experience time and space differently.
It shows that it is not metaphysics that can serve as a meta-science, or as the discipline that can critique science in order to discern its underlying logical systematicity; rather, it is the theory of self-knowledge that can perform that function. Kant shows that it is the theory of self-knowledge alone that can identify the logical principles by which we can conceive the unity of knowledge. This is because his analysis provides us with a means to conceive the logical, structural conditions that ground -any- possible perspective-taking. Kant's Critique seeks to explicate, from a first-person (or what he calls a transcendental perspective) the structural, a priori principles that make possible the systematic character of experience and of knowledge alike. This is because, unlike a third-person, empirical, psychological analysis of cognitive structure, Kant's seeks to render explicit the logic of coherent perspective-taking: i.e., the structural principles that must hold if we are to provide a sufficient explanation of the systematic character of experience. He points out that a perspective that seeks to start explanation with metaphysical principles that are deemed primary necessarily begs the most fundamental question: that our finite cognitive apparatus is sufficient to the task of grasping the fundamental principles of a world-independent order of things. Kant recognized that trashing the presumptuous, question-begging fiction of knowledge as passive reflection of a mind-independent metaphysical order which Hume sought to expose means we can't start with the metaphysical question of identifying the rational principles that best characterize the structure of being. His Critique attempts to offer a re-description of the phenomenology of experience that does justice to its systematic unity and continuity, and which can ground the principles of reason. Kant's first-person, transcendental method provides a better starting point from which to describe the principles underlying the unity of experience, which alone make it possible for us to reason scientifically. This method offers us with the means to answer Hume: the perceived constant conjunction of events in sense experience can provide us with a knowledge of causal relations because reason is equipped with a priori principles which help structure and organize sense experience, among which is our concept of cause. These a priori principles act as structural conditions for the possibility of all experience. So, it is not that we infer the generalization of causal relation from various sense experiences, as Hume thought; rather, no coherent experience of the world at all could be had without the structuring effected by these formal principles. Kant shows how real innovations in geometry, mathematics, science, and logic have only been possible via a constructive method that in effect presupposes the cognitive synthetic a priori principles he describes. For while the material of sense experience does indeed come from passive perception of the world, via the sensibility, such perception is actively structured from the ground up by the mind: first, via the pure intuitions of space and time supplied by the sensibility, which place all sensations onto a spatio-temporal map (for it is Kant's radical contention that we know space and time first as regulative functions of cognition, not as properties of the order of things). Kant sought to supply a model of reason that makes explicit the structuring principles that determine the form of even the simplest sense experience. His transcendental logic is intended as an alternative to formal logic which doesn't abstract from the content of experience, but rather lays bare the way experience in all its forms is structured by the categories and the synthetic a priori principles. He argues that each discipline, from logic to math to the natural and human sciences, is grounded on the synthetic a priori principles he describes. Kant redefines the proper subject matter of metaphysics in formal, logical terms, as the study of the unity of reason, and of the principles that are presupposed by the most unitary perspective we can take on our experience: Metaphysics... Take-home points: -His most important contribution, IMO, is his notion of the transcendental unity of apperception, which is a condition for the possibility of experience as a systematically-organized, science-generating whole. Anything that can be given to the mind as either sense datum or fact is identified in relation to the forms of the understanding, which act as a coordinated, systematic whole in structuring any possible experience. -Mapping our cognitive limits helps us know where we have secure grounds to apply those fundamental metaphysical concepts that are integral to the structure of our reason, and where we overstep the bounds of experience and must halt speculation. The critical POV that Kant identified seems to constitute a nodal point for thought from which one can endlessly regenerate philosophy, either through the generation of new systems, or through the critique of historical ones by comparing them to the structural principles of human cognition. At one end one gains a perspective over the universals of logic, mathematics, and the synthetic a priori principles that ground the various disciplines of reason and unite them into a coherent map of human knowledge, and at the other, we have all artistic attempts to push the development of cognitive form to greater concreteness, and thus to increase its adequacy to experience." Kant plants the seeds for a more radical questioning of reason, seen in Nietzsche and evolutionary epistemology. Historicist analyses point out that Kant's candidates for the a priori structures are really static projections of what were mere features of a Western-specific cognitive mode, and that they were not, as a result, the universal and necessary structural principles of mind that he sought.
We all sang the title song together with Mom's boyfriend's words, it started like this:Pure Reason, Critique of Pure Reason Pure Reason, Critique of Pure Reason Pure Reason, Critique of Pure Reason Oh, you, Critique of Pure Reason Critique of Pure Reason we love you And, in, Critique of Pure Reason what we'll do...I can't remember the rest. We all had a great time, and I decided that Kant was my second-favorite philosopher, after Mom's boyfriend.
Before attempting it, I would highly recommend first reading Kants much shorter Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic, in which he summarizes the essential points that are elaborated and proved (in his opinion) in this longer work. Additionally, I would recommend any potential readers to acquaint themselves with the philosophy of David Hume (The Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding) and Rene Descartes (Meditations on First Philosophy). Thankfully, Kants Critique of Pure Reason has not been known to eat people or destroy nautical vessels. Interestingly enough, before writing his three Critiques (which he started in his late fifties), Kant had done some work in the natural sciences, and was quite familiar with Newtonian physics. After reading Humes Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (which I would also recommend), Kant perceptively realized that, as human knowledge increases, God will seem less and less likely as an explanation for the natural world. When I first read this book, I was very taken by his thinking, and found Kant to be a profound genius. Well, I still think he's a profound genius; but now, however, after reading more philosophy and reflecting on Kants system, I am somewhat less convinced, and think there are some fatal errors in his reasoning.
I just Kant stand him.
Insofar as all systematic thinking endeavors to overcome a presupposed dualism (viz Descartes two substances), it is with Kant that we first see an opening, that the conditions of the possibility of experience in general are at the same time conditions of the possibility of the objects of experience. However one fails to say it, one cannot overemphasize the determinative role of Kant in the history of philosophy, and in the very possibility of philosophy, of thinking. But the overcoming of alienated thought begins here; the turn toward the thinking subject, which is the heart of philosophy, begins with Kant. And Kants tortuous syntax reflects not only teaching philosophy to speak German (which Hegel was still endeavoring to accomplish) but because also the nature of Kants matter, the Sache, is difficult and does not give itself lightly. And here too I find it advantageous, in so far as one lends oneself to learn to think, to follow a translation which most closely mirrors the mode of thought within the German language. But to take philosophy as real cognition, thought, knowledge, to find ones way behind both the methods and results of religion and the natural sciences, is a real accomplishment.
Both frightfully obscure and logically scrupulous, Kant functions sort of like a philosophical litmus test. In a nutshell, the Critique finds Kant arguing for the doctrine of transcendental idealism, which asserts that our knowledge of the world only extends to the phenomenal (how things appear to us), rather than the noumenal (how things exist irrespective of us). Upon its initial publication, many readers of the Critique took it to express a particularly sophisticated version of Berkeley's so-called "mystic idealism," which led Kant to include a rather pointed rebuttal in subsequent pressings. And even though Kant takes obvious plains to differentiate logic from psychology (the Critique proceeds along the former grounds), some modern scientists have read Kant's categories as anticipating certain neurological circuits. (3.1) For instance, either (a) free will exists or (b) we live in a thoroughly deterministic universe. Let's say we live in a thoroughly deterministic universe, in which case all of our beliefs will be accordingly determined, and hence we would simply and inexorably believe one of these propositions or the other. (5) For inventing the transcendental argument, in which the existence of some entity is deduced according to the preconditions for possible experience.
Therefore if the mind can think only in terms of causalitywhich he concluded that it doesthen we can know prior to experiencing them that all objects we experience must either be a cause or an effect. However, it follows from this that it's possible that there are objects of such a nature that the mind cannot think of them, & so the principle of causality, for instance, cannot be applied outside experience: hence we cannot know, for example, whether the world always existed or if it had a cause. Kants thought was very influential in Germany during his lifetime, moving philosophy beyond the debate between the rationalists & empiricists.