Kant on Politics and the Enlightenment

ven. 19 juillet à 01:00

Fuseau horaire : Paris (GMT+02:00)

Sweet Kitchen
Montclair
États-Unis
Montclair

At last week's meeting we broached the thought of modern philosophy's quintessential figure: Immanuel Kant. Kant was born in 1724 in German Prussia to deeply religious parents who raised him under Pietism: a strict sect of Christianity emphasizing personal devotion to God and a literal interpretation of the Bible. Kant was young when his mother and father died: 13 and 22, respectively. After his father's death Kant began work as a tutor to support himself. Kant's early thought can be considered his "pre-critical" phase. The young Kant ascribed to the German Rationalist tradition of Leibniz and Wolff, which held up Reason as the primary source of knowledge and affirmed humans' ability to know unexperiencable objects such as God and the soul. This all changed when Kant encountered Hume's skepticism of the possibility of knowledge. It awoke Kant from his "dogmatic slumbers" and led him to create a collection of now-famous distinctions: • Phenomenal vs. noumenal: the phenomenal is the "world of appearances," which humans can access via their senses and understanding. The noumenal world is the "world in-itself," which humans cannot access because it refers to how things are, unmediated by the human mind. • A priori vs. a posteriori: a priori is knowledge arrived at independent of experience. Take the equation 2 + 2 = 4. I do not have to physically witness two objects, say sticks, being joined with two other sticks to know that adding 2 to 2 equals 4. Contrast this with a posteriori knowledge, which is arrived at through empirical observations such as "Julie's nails are red." I cannot establish the color of Julie's nails with reason alone; instead, I must examine them with my own eyes. • Analytic vs. synthetic: analytic judgments are judgments whose predicate is contained within its subject. Take the sentence, "All bachelors are unmarried." The definition of bachelor is "unmarried man." The predicate (unmarried) is therefore contained within the subject (bachelor). Synthetic judgments, on the other hand, are judgments whose predicate is not contained within its subject. For instance, "All bachelors are tall." The definition of bachelor contains nothing about height. Now, Kant's big question is whether synthetic a priori knowledge—knowledge that is not self-evident yet is arrived at prior to experience—is possible. The viability of metaphysics hinges on the answer. To overcome Hume's skepticism Kant develops his theory of Transcendental Idealism. By transcendental, Kant means conditions that make experience possible. By idealism, Kant means reality as mind-dependent. Put together, Kant suggests that all humans possess concepts, such as space, time, and causality, that not only precede experience but cause and color it. Two examples: we could not make sense of an object unless we first possessed the concept of extension: that an object has a definite shape, size, and limit. Similarly, we could not make sense of an event unless we first possessed the concepts of duration, cause and effect, and change. Most importantly, we could not cognize experience without first recognizing ourselves as experiencers separate from the objects of our experience. This is the centerpiece of Kant's "Transcendental Deduction," which identifies self-consciousness as a synthetic a priori concept. With this, Kant achieves a "Copernican Shift": just as Copernicus turned astronomy on its head by suggesting the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around, Kant turns epistemology on its head by declaring knowledge as the source of experience rather than experience the source of knowledge. For next week we will look at how Kant applies this theory to politics and the Enlightenment in two short essays! Politics: http://users.clas.ufl.edu/burt/spaceshotsairheads/KantIdeaforaUniversalHistorywithaCosmopolitanPurpose.pdf Enlightenment:

https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/files/Kant--What%20Is%20Enlightenment_.pdf

Source: https://www.meetup.com/fr-FR/NJ-Talk-Philosophy-Group/events/263125483/


Sweet Kitchen
Montclair
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