Thursday, June 11, 2015

Kant and self-knowledge

In the Critique of Pure Reason Kant pursues self-knowledge (Selbsterkenntnis) in a new way  (aufs neue, A XI). In his view, what we perceive as the outside world is in its totality produced by human mind. His view of human mind is thus strikingly similar to the view of human spiritual nature that neurophysiology opens for us.

Neurophysiology informs us that what we see is in its totality created by us on the basis of transformations that the oncoming stimuli undergo in the brain; the information on the basis of which we perceive the outside world is stored and structured in the brain in a completely different way from the way in which the world that we see is structured. This means, that what we ‘perceive by our senses’ is in its entirety produced by our spiritual nature, as I have argued in ‘Self-knowledge as an imperative’ on my website.

Kant says that ‘by means of the external sense (Vermittelst des äusseren Sinnes,) which is a property of the mind (einer Eigenschaft unseres Gemüts), we represent to ourselves objects as without us, and these all in space (stellen wir uns Gegenstände als ausser uns, und diese insgesamt im Raume vor).’ (B 37) He maintains that ‘space is nothing else (Der Raum ist nichts anderes,) than the form of all phenomena of the external sense (als nur die Form aller Erscheinungen äusserer Sinne,), that is, the subjective condition of the sensibility (d.i. die subjektive Bedingung der Sinnlichkeit,), under which alone external intuition is possible (unter der allein uns äussere Anschauung möglich ist, B 42)’. (Tr. Meiklejohn)

Meiklejohn’s ‘sensibility’ for Kant’s Sinnlichkeit is as misleading as his ‘intuition’ for Kant’s Anschauung. In Kant’s terminology,  Anschauung is an immediate (unmittelbare) perception (or projection, putting-in-front, Vorstellung, B 41) of an object of our sensory faculty (Sinnlichkeit). In Kant’s view all objects of our sensory perception, which we view as in the space outside us, are the products of our subjectivity, i. e. ‘that all our intuition is nothing but the representation of phenomena’ (dass alle unsere Anschauung nichts als die Vorstellung von Erscheinung sei (B 59). Kant’s Erscheinung, ‘phenomenon’, is any object (Gegenstand) of an empirical intuition (einer empirischen Anschauung); empirical (empirisch) is that intuition (diejenige Anschauung), which relates to any object by means of sensation (welche sich auf den Gegenstand durch Empfindung bezieht); Empfindung, ‘sensation’, is the effect of an object (die Wirkung eines Gegenstandes) upon the faculty of sensory perception (auf die Vorstellungsfähigkeit, B 34). In Kant’s view ‘what we call objects outside us (was wir äussere Gegenstände nennen,), are nothing else but mere representations of our sensibility (nichts anderes als blosse Vorstellungen unserer Sinnlichkeit sind, B 45)’; all objects of our senses (alle Ojekte der Sinne) are nothing else but mere phenomena (blosse Erscheinungen, B 66).

No comments:

Post a Comment