Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kant: The Critique of Pure Reason

Kant: The Critique of Pure Reason
a. Preface to the second edition 1787;
b. the whole Introduction:
namely from “I. Of the difference between Pure and Empirical Knowledge” to “VII. Idea and Division of a Particular Science, under the Name of a Critique of Pure Reason”)
text available at
Journals due on April 3.

Guidance questions:
1. Which problem does Kant see in Mathematics, Natural Science (Physics) and Metaphysics (philosophy)? What does he aim to achieve?
2. How is judgment important for science? What means a priori synthetic judgment?
3. What means Copernican Turn in Kant's view of knowledge?


  1. In Kant's introduction to the Critique of Pure Reason he makes the statement that "Reason must approach nature with the view, indeed, of receiving information from it, not however, in the character of a pupil, who listens to all that his master chooses to tell him, but in that of a judge, who compels the witnesses to reply questions which he himself thinks fit to propose."I believe this quote represents Kant's position regarding the Sciences. He is going the further way from the Empiricists and the Rationalists in which he beliefs that having a priori knowledge to create a new knowledge is definitely important however, the individual is also required to incur in some synthetic a priori knowledge in which the individual mind expands his thinking to a place where there is no proof of the knowledge but can lead to a greater understanding of the universe.
    A priori synthetic judgment is a kind of judgment that does not derive from the subject itself but bases are not based in something that can be proved.
    He uses Copernicus as a example of this way of creating knowledge. Copernicus did not have an empiricism a priori knowledge when he designed his master work, but he became a precursor to Newton and his gravity theory by allowing a concepts to generate without proof.

  2. First, I have to say this work was very hard to read. It was dry, it was just as if Kant was giving me facts and I found him to be one of the worst writers we’ve read so far. APART from that, I did like some topics he discussed. I liked how Kant wanted to analyze not the way we philosophize but how our minds leads to our conclusions while discussing philosophy. I have thought about how our brain effects my conclusions of the world just by how my mind is taught or how my DNA might effect my reasoning’s, beliefs and conclusions. At some points though, it felt like Kant was trying to or getting close to reject the whole institution of Philosophy thus far; which I thought was ironic since he is a philosopher- rejecting philosophic ideals… I also liked Kants idea of mathematics and his belief that the subjects of mathematics is based on how our mind sees things and how the mind works to interpret certain stimuli of our environment- stating “our number sense comes from our intuition of successive moments in time, and geometry comes from our intuition of space.” I did not understand his discussion on “causation” and when I looked up the word, the context of the word in Kant’s work did not make much sense..

  3. i found this extremely dry and hard to read BUT i did it anyway,from what i understood Kant argues that mathematics and the principles of science contain synthetic a priori knowledge. For example, “7 + 5 = 12” is a priori because it is a necessary and universal truth we know independent of experience, and it is synthetic because the concept of “12” is not contained in the concept of “7 + 5.” Kant argues that the same is true for scientific principles such as, “for every action there is an equal an opposite reaction”: because it is universally applicable, it must be a priori knowledge, since a posteriori knowledge only tells us about particular experiences.


  4. In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant achieves a synthesis between the competing traditions of rationalism and empiricism. From rationalism, he draws the idea that pure reason is capable of significant knowledge but rejects the idea that pure reason can tell us anything about things-in-themselves. From empiricism, he draws the idea that knowledge is essentially knowledge from experience but rejects the idea that we can infer no necessary and universal truths from experience, which is Hume’s conclusion. As a result, he avoids the metaphysical speculations of the rationalists, for which any definite proof seems unattainable but maintains the rationalists’ ambitious agenda, which attempts to give some answer to the sorts of questions that inevitably occur when we think philosophically. By locating the answers to metaphysical questions not in the external world but in a critique of human reason, Kant provides clear boundaries for metaphysical speculation and maintains a sensible, empirical approach to our knowledge of the external world.

  5. Kant’s material was excruciatingly boring. Just as a side note, I wish we could have studying him a week after our mid-term paper because his works took a lot of thought and effort in order to even comprehend!
    Kant had philosophers (just like all philosophers) scrutinize his works. An example of this was in his idea of mathematics. On one end, he explains that mathematics is synthetic a priori knowledge because it is necessary and universal. However, he either cannot or chose not to explain why pure geometry as well as empirical geometry and be analytic and posteriori. This sounds about right because when I did study geometry, it was all about proofs and there were so many conclusions that could be made from one math problem.
    In order to truly understand this “synthetic, analytical, a priori, and a posteriori” concept, I went back to the dictionary. In lemans terms, I discovered that in an analytic judgment, it is all about the definition of something and a synthetic judgment is informative rather than just a definition. As for priori and posteriori knowledge, if it is universally applicable, it must be a priori knowledge but if the knowledge only tells us about particular experiences, then it is a posteriori knowledge. I hope I understood this correctly…
    It is only through the human mind that we can acquire certain knowledge. Don’t we already know this? Obviously we cannot gain knowledge through our kneecaps or our shoulders!!! Once again, Kant seemed to veer off the path when discussing the Copernican revolution. His idea that reality is a connection between external reality and the mind makes some sense but then this is followed up with the idea that knowledge is not something that exists in the outside world; it is something created by the mind and it streams through our mental fibers. So does that mean that we can split the mind up in several different parts??? All of this is my interpretation, but isn’t this a contradiction of Leibniz’s, also a rationalist, theory that the mind is indivisible? Perhaps this was the turning point for Kant being that he started out as a rationalist, but than after studying the works of “The Enlightening Empiricist Hume” changed his views and took on a “rationalistic” way of thought.

  6. So this blog thing is killing me. It just erased what I had written. >=O
    Well, this passage was very extremely dull and boring and almost put me to sleep. It was also too wordy so I don't think I understood much of what he was trying to say. I too, like everyone else, had to constantly use a dictionary in order to try to comprehend what he was trying to say with this passage. What I believe I understood was that judgement is important for science because of the fact that science is supposed to be judged. If science was never judged then a lot of misinformation of concepts would be lying around as with philosophy. Metaphysics, or philosophy, does not have a base because philosophy is constantly questioning things that most cannot be answered in a perfect sense of a correct answer. Mathematics on the other hand is the base of all sciences because you cannot have science without mathematics. As Kant said, mathematics is “purely a priori” because physics is “dependent on other sources of cognition.” With this, Kant is saying that you do not need to think much to understand mathematics because it remains constant and never changes meanwhile physics and other sciences rely on mathematics as well as it requires a lot of thought and mental process.

  7. I did no in enjoy this story one bit, and I found it difficult it understand. Which problem does Kant see in Mathematics, Natural Science Physics and Metaphysics philosophy? What does he aim to achieve? Kant's philosophy of science has received attention from several different People and for a variety of reasons. It is of interest science primarily because of the way in which Kant attempts to put in a philosophical work, which places our scientific knowledge of the world while still respecting the autonomy and diverse claims of particular sciences. The Pure science might raise an eyebrow at first, given as how it is similarly; all the important statements of metaphysics are synthetic a prior propositions. Everything which was a synthetic a prior judgment, remains so. Kent show so many new ways and view on how to do things He call it the Copernican Turn, because he hopes to accomplish, in metaphysics, the same sort of shift in Copernicus accomplished in astronomy.

  8. Professor Tang! I have wrote a blog posted and it disappears, posted again and it disappears. I am so frusterated.


  9. The problem that Kant sees in Mathematics and science is that it can be excepted as truth only because the past knowledge was already made fact. So to say in Mathematics and Science it is only because the subject agrees with the predicate. Does that makes since?

  10. First off, it's funny how I have always been lead to believe that metaphysics was about working with and manipulating energy. I think I even read that somewhere many many years ago. Now to find out it is nothing more then the "science" of philosophy or lack of.
    I understand how Kant talks about philosophy needing science to play a part in it. As we all know, science gives us the prof of existence. It gives us understanding to what ever it is we are or were, contemplating.
    But there are things out there in the world which science can not prove but we now them to be real. That they really do exist. Such as intuition. Science will never be able to prove what intuition is or where it comes from. Or how the intuition gave the right answer to something.
    Sure science it important in human life, and so is philosophy. I think they are about equal in importance, no, philosophy is the leader because you have to ask the questions first before you can do the science. Anyway, getting off subject.
    Science and Philosophy go hand in hand, but until we the human race realize the importance of science they will never quite meet up with each other. We have to be willing to sacrifice our lives and the lives of others in order to answer the really big and scary questions in philosophy, what ever they be. This is the price human existence has to pay in order for the human race to constantly evolve. Then maybe one day, Philosophy and Science will stand side by side.