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Friday, September 07, 2012

A Brief Sketch of Kant’s Critical Philosophy

Over at Scholardarity I've posted A Brief Sketch of Kant’s Critical Philosophy in Scholardarity Student’s subsection Open Source Study Notes. Here's an excerpt:

Metaphysical knowledge can be either dogmatic or critical. Dogmatic metaphysics seeks to know things as they are in themselves. Critical metaphysics, which Kant calls “Critique”, only gives us knowledge of things as they must appear to us, and hence of the necessary features of all possible experience. Dogmatic metaphysics would have to meet two requirements which are inconsistent in Kant’s system. First, it would have to be synthetic a priori. It could not be analytic a priori, for then it could not give us new knowledge. Neither could it be synthetic a posteriori, for then it could tell us no more than natural science does. Second, it would have to go beyond the bounds of all possible experience; otherwise, it would not be distinct from mathematics and geometry, which, while also synthetic a priori, are limited to possible experience. This limitation is what makes them possible, for as we said above, they are “built into” space and time as forms of our sensibility. Anything which can appear to us must be subject to our forms of sensibility, and so mathematics and geometry must hold of all appearances. But since dogmatic metaphysics is supposed to apply to things which cannot appear to us, we cannot know a priori what they are like, for they are not subject to the only conditions under which experience, and hence synthetic a priori knowledge, is possible. In consequence, metaphysical knowledge of a dogmatic sort is impossible. Now we can see the source of Kant’s distaste for dogmatic metaphysics: It poses questions which it cannot answer.

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