What was Kant’s new way of understanding the relation of the objects of knowledge to the mind? Why does he compare his epistemology to the Copernican revolution? How is his view both similar to and different from rationalism on the one hand and empiricism on the other? Be sure to include in your response a definition of epistemology and at least a brief explanation of rationalism and empiricism. For our purposes, “explain” means to state the theory and to describe the important features of the theory in a manner that an intelligent but uninformed reader would understand. For our purposes, “evaluate” means (1) to determine whether or not the theory rests on a sound or cogent argument, and to (2) determine the overall plausibility of the theory or strategy. In this context, “plausibility” refers to the strengths and weaknesses of the theory or strategy).
Emanuel Kant, who was born in 22 April 1724, and died in 12 February 1804, was a renowned German philosopher from Königsberg in Prussia (today, Kaliningrad, Russia) who researched, lectured, and wrote on philosophy and anthropology during the Enlightenment towards the last periods of 18th century (James and Stuart 322)
In the history of western philosophy, Immanuel Kant is recognized as a very influential philosopher, with his contributions to epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics and metaphysics, impacting virtually all the philosophical movements that came after him. The bulk of his work actually tries to address the question, “What can we know?”, whose answer, if presented in the simplest manner, is that the knowledge of human beings is constrained to the science of the natural, empirical world, and mathematics. According to his argument, the main reason as to why the limitations present themselves in the ways of knowledge is because the human mind plays a very critical role in constitution of the features gained from experience, hence, the mind’s access is usually only limited to the empirical realm of time and space (Edmund 122).
In CPR, the mind is discussed by Kant mainly in connection with his major projects, rather than in its own right, as such, rendering the effort quite scattered and sketchy. He puts forward seven major discussions with respect to the mind in both the two editions of the CPR: Transcendental Aesthetic and Metaphysics Deduction. His discussions of the mind and its relation to the objects of knowledge may be presented in two key stages, as outlined below.
In this stage, his argument is on what space and time should really be like, and the manner in which we as humans should handle them in case our minds are really to have the temporal properties and necessary conditions that it has. To him, the conditions of experienced are very necessary to help understand the ways in which the mind relates to the surrounding.
The Critique of Pure Reason, which is Kant’s major work, was aimed at uniting reason with experience so that he could transcend the obvious failures of metaphysics and ancient philosophy. He hoped to end an age of speculation where objects outside experience were used to support what he saw as futile theories, while opposing the negative and discouraging thoughts of Berkeley and Hume. As regards this, he stated that everything that exists, which circumvents the universality of humans, should only be believed through utmost faith, and anyone who objects to that common ideology should be shunned (James and Stuart 367).
Kant proposed a “Copernican Revolution-in-reverse”, saying that although it has been widely assumed that human cognition must be in tandem with certain objects, we must try to continue with the study and practice of metaphysics unabated, by forfeiting the conformance between humans and objects (Jürgen 412).
Kant, in relation to this, argues that it possible to have “synthetic a priori knowledge” – the categories are not known through experience but they are nevertheless not analytically true. In fact, we need some experiences before we can even know that we have these categories, but the categories must be innate. The categories include: Categories of quantity, encompassing plurality, unity, and totality; Categories of quality, such as negation, reality, and limitation; Categories of relation, with such aspects as causality/ dependence, substance/ accident, and community/ interaction.
One way Kant argues for the necessity of categories is in his discussion of causality. Remember, Hume argues that we have no sense of impression, which could correspond to our idea of causation. Well, Kant agrees, but whereas Hume says that this is a confused idea, which we should ditch, Kant argues that causation is one of the essential a priori categories that make our experiences possible.
Kant explains that sometimes the order in which our experiences occur is significant and sometimes it is not. For example, I might enter my house from the front door and have a series of perceptions, e.g. bathroom followed by (as I walk down the hall) lounge followed by kitchen. On another occasion, I enter through the back door, and perceive kitchen followed by lounge followed by bathroom. The order of my perceptions does not matter here – my understanding of the house has not changed, and neither has the house.
In other fields such as ethics, aesthetics, religion, law, history, and astronomy, notable works of Kant can still be traced. Just to mention a few, the Critique of Practical Reason, the Critique of Judgment, and the Metaphysics of Morals are among some of his works published under the above banners (Jonathan 13). The main aim of the renowned philosopher was to solve the ensuing dispute between rationalist and empirical approaches. As it were, the empirical approach postulated that virtually all knowledge that humans have is a result of experience, while rationalist ideology posits that innate ideas and human reason are naturally existing. To support his point of view, he reiterated that experience is a product of pure reason, and that the use of reason without integrating the aspect of experience is completely delusional. These philosophical viewpoints formed the basis of Kant’s arguments.
Owing to the practicality and renowned nature of Kant’s philosophies, many German thinkers were influenced. The great philosopher succeeded in creating a new paradigm in the world of philosophers, by adopting a discussion that transcended the friction between empirical and rationalist approaches (Edmund 123). As regards the argument on the plausibility of the theory, it can be argued that Kant’s philosophy is valid, as it is based on reliable arguments and viewpoints. Though various critics have addressed multiple issues with the theory of Emmanuel Kant, it remains a n undisputed fact that its strengths outweigh its weaknesses, thus, qualifying it as a perfectly plausible argument. Perhaps, this is the reason why his work has remained monumental in the field of philosophy, and continues to inspire many a people.
Edmund, Gettier. Is Justified True Belief Knowledge? Analysis 23. P.121-123. 1963. Print.
James and Stuart, Rachel. The Elements of Moral Philosophy. New York. 2010. Print.
Jürgen, Habermas. Knowledge and Human Interest. Polity Press, Basil Blackwell, Oxford. 1987. Print.
Jonathan, Dancy. Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology. Blackwell Publishers, UK. 2001. Print.
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