Saturday, February 27, 2010

What Has Already Been Lost In Space? (Part 1)

Commenting on our last consideration of the problem of the definition of space (after taking the time to apply some warranted scrutiny), Amos of KTL found that same consideration to be missing something essential: the proper requisites of the very definition itself seem to have been lost on that previous consideration:

How is the coinciding permeation of space by time a definition, rather than a fact about space? Could not one ask, if space were its own being permeated by time as something other, what would it be prior to this permeation such that it could be permeated?

It is only from within the confines of the problematic of space as it was first introduced (over at A City in Speech) that a proper response can now be ventured to these important observations offered by Amos, if only because one must never fail to exercise a certain respect for the place where he already is, and this a fortiori in the case of a consideration of the a priori nature of space. What we have tried to show in our previous consideration was that the subterranean understanding which governed the initial introduction of this problematic is one that can and must be brought to light and drawn out in meticulous fashion along lines that are unmistakably Kantian. If we keep this hermeneutic situation firmly in view, then a certain light falls upon the otherwise tangled thicket of possible responses to Amos' question regarding the temporal permeation of space.

What does it mean to think space as a pure form of finite intuition? More specifically, when we ask the question "What is space?", how is our search for this 'what' impacted by the peculiarity that space is not intuited like something spatial, but is rather intuited a priori along with and in advance of anything (in space)? The question of what something is either has an object or it does not. If it does, then this is a possible object of experience about which an empirical question may be raised; if it does not, then this is a condition for the possibility of such experience about which a transcendental question may be raised. In the case of the former, namely, the empirical question, what is aimed at is constituted at the most fundamental level by two elements: 1.) the receptivity of intuition and 2.) the spontaneity of the understanding; any possible object of experience, any "what" about which we make inquiry, depends upon 'what' is intuited (the sense manifold) and 'what' is understood (i.e. the categorical organization of the sense manifold). Kant sometimes calls this dual dependency which combines intuition and understanding the "unity of representation". Strictly speaking, only if space, considered in exclusion from anything else, required the unity of representation could it possibly be an object of experience to which an empirical question may be plied. Only if this is the case can we extend our knowledge about space and discover, as Amos would have it, "a fact about space". And, indeed, Kant does more than concede that such discoveries are, in point of fact, possible; his entire first Kritik relies upon and, in another way, founds such discoveries. They are none other than what Kant calls formal intuitions, and in the case of space, they are to be found in that familiar body of apodictic knowledge known as geometry. But a formal intuition of space can in no wise be confused with the form of intuition of space:

Space, represented as object (as we are required to do in geometry), contains more than the mere form of intuition; it also contains combination of the manifold, given according to the form of sensibility, in an intuitive representation, so that the form of intuition gives only the manifold, the formal intuition gives unity of representation.(CPR B161)

Space, insofar as it is formally intuited, is given as a unity of representation in reference to which facts can be established. Thus we may ask and give definitive answer to the question "what is a line?" But the question "what is space?" asks for what any such formal intuition, in its unity of representation, depends upon, namely the transcendental form of intuition of space. To this latter transcendental question and its answer the synthetic a priori judgment capable of establishing facts about space is necessarily indebted. Therefore the question "what is space?" can neither offer a definition produced by the understanding nor ipso facto can it look for that unity given in and by the "unity of representation". The definition of space as a pure intuition must be given in its unity by pure intuition. The oneness or unity of pure space can only be discovered only when its borders or confines are seen, and yet because this unity is not the unity of representation, these borders cannot be de-fined by the understanding, but rather must be intuited. It is as if we must in some way see rather than apprehend the definition of space. But how is such seeing to take place if what is to be seen is neither something we can experience nor even conceivable? It must take place by way of an intuition that is non-empirical, i.e. pure. And for this reason we cannot expect it to be positively demonstrated (and therefore understood in its necessity); it must instead be given, i.e. intuited.

Now, if there were nothing to be purely intuited other than space, then the form of the intuition of space would have to be able to give itself, in its unity, and therefore constitute itself as self-defining. But because something else is given as a form in pure intuition, namely time, this is not necessary. The question remains: is it possible? The only answer to this question must be found by way of recourse to pure intuition. Kant himself indicates the answer by the following observation:

Whatever the origin of our representations,...whether they arise a priori, or being appearances [i.e. possible objects of experience] have an empirical origin, they must all, as modifications of the mind, belong to inner sense. All our knowledge [i.e. any intuition, concept, or unity of representation] is thus finally subject to time, the formal condition of inner sense. In it they must all be ordered, connected and brought into relation.(CPR, A 98)

Kant's observation can be supplied with the testimony of a quick reference to our awareness of anything in space: this awareness itself is not spatial, it is not something that we might bump into like a tree in the forest. It is not defined by space. On the other hand, what about space? If it can be said to be anything, and it is already lost to any attempt to conceive of it, than it must be received as an intuition, i.e. as a form given in the intuition of a sense manifold. But, as Kant just observed, not just the understanding, but intuition too, and any sort of representation, takes place in time. So much is this the case that when Amos proposes the possibility of the alternative, namely,"Could not one ask, if space were its own being permeated by time as something other, what would it be prior to this permeation such that it could be permeated?" he has already presupposed time insofar as he speaks of "space prior to this permeation" ---in other words, the priority is nothing if it is not a temporal one.

When this problematic of the temporal definition of space as Kant has framed it is reflected upon, a paradoxical formulation which it seems we must be content with asserts itself regarding the definition of space: the essence of space is, in the immediate pure intuition of space, lost in that intuition. Space, because it is definable by the pure intuition of time and this alone, must first be lost, since the essence of space is not only, according to the order of intuition, found later, but above all because it is found precisely as what is found later. The de-finition of space is found as what has been lost in space. And it is in this sense that I would like, at least initially, to read the last and most astute comment Amos has left in connection with our recent post on Ereignis:

Also, is space as it transpires in the shifting encounter an example of what "always comes too late?"


  1. Corrective Footnote:

    The perceptive reader will have by now noticed that the abbreviated presentation of the distinction between transcendental and empirical questions as it is made in the second paragraph above, while it may suffice for the overall purposes of this post, suffers nonetheless from a very significant shortcoming. For if it were correct that all questions which take an object in any way whatsoever are empirical questions, then all questions the proper answers to which yield synthetic a priori knowledge would be empirical questions ---and yet, as anyone who has a even a cursory understanding of the first Kritik knows, in grounding the possibility of synthetic a priori knowledge, Kant is grounding the manner in which Reason may legitimately transcend the bounds of the empirical realm.

    It is crucial, therefore, for us to add to the oversimplified characterization above that though a question demand a an object and therefore rely upon the unity of representation in terms of which that object is constituted, it need not be empirical. Geometry and Arithmetic are not investigations into the conditions for the possibility of objective experience, and to this extent they do indeed depend on the experience of objects, and yet their knowledge is won not from the objects themselves but from the pure intuitions which in which they are given ---pure intuitions which are themselves as such not investigated by Arithmetic and Geometry.

  2. Corrective note to the Corrective Footnote:

    My secretary fell asleep again while she was proofreading my attempt to parody a Kantian footnote.

  3. Important clarification, Doc Pseud. Pro. Metaphysician I'm not, but perhaps you could explain Kant's ...shall we say ..stinginess in regards to forms of intuition--which as you point out, are not the same as "formal intuitions" (really, geometric objects themselves-- me deutsch is not great but I suspect anglo's mistranslate "Anschauung", which is akin to vision, or maybe in-viewing..tho' that's not great either...many a naive or bewildered undergrad. hears intuition and associates it with something emotional, I believe).

    Anyway, space and time are forms of intuition, a priori, not part of experience, according to IK. I am not up to a thorough critique but I think he...errors. That's not to say one returns to Locke's tabula rasa, but...simply to say it's unlikely that humans know what spatial relations are, whether in terms of just ordinary experience, or geometry. A person born blind certainly wouldn't....anymore than he knows what "blue" means--we are given parameters of a sort (like human eyes, brain etc)--but no information in any sense. Ergo I am tempted to agree with empirical criticisms of KrV at least in regard to space (time a bit more problematic), and inductive knowledge, if not physics as whole (ie Kant's odd belief causality was synthetic a priori...unlikely).

  4. Thanks for commenting, J ---your remarks point to some crucial considerations for any contemporary reader of Kant.

    First, regarding Anschauung, you are certainly correct to hear the translation "intuition" with caution, and if I made no attempt to caution the reader regarding this translation it is because the nomenclature of Norman Kemp Smith's authoritative translation has for some time now become common parlance for Kant studies in English (even more so then, say Macquarrie and Robinson's translation of Sein und Zeit). This aside, however, there is another thing that I was presupposing with a clear conscience: that the words of any great thinker ---and Kant certainly is one --already demand of us that we receive them only with caution, and I would even go so far as to say that they call for us to translate them --no matter what language in which they have ostensibly been spoken. Indeed, I say "ostensibly" here because what the great thinker has said has perhaps not yet properly come to speech (cf. my comments on the Ereignis post below). All of this however, pertains to the unique relations that obtain between genuine thinking and language. The thoughtful word hesitates, and we hear it, if we hear at all, only with caution.

    As far as undergrads go, my blog is not especially tailored to any given audience among students or teachers or anyone else for that matter, but I would say that it is inevitable when one starts out to read philosophical texts or participate in thoughtful dialogues that he mis-reads and mis-hears initially. And it is a crucial movement made on the part of that participant who would someday come to understand that he be capable of questioning and re-nouncing what he once thought he knew. So much, then, for the matter of "terminology".

  5. As for your 'non-prefatory' remarks on Kant's KrV, you've packed alot into that second paragraph. So let give a few indications of how I would respond in full, taking your points in the order in which you have laid them out:

    "Anyway, space and time are forms of intuition, a priori, not part of experience, according to IK. I am not up to a thorough critique but I think he...errors."

    Here I think caution might be well-advised, since this formulation threatens to obscure the fine and careful distinction Kant is making. In other words, it is important to remember that Space and Time, in so far as they are pure forms of intuition (for as we know they can be formal intuitions as well), though they be conditions for the possibility of experience and not the experienced object itself, they are nevertheless not mediate but immediate conditions for the possibility of experience. What so I mean? Simply this: as intuitions ---indeed precisely to the extent that they can be called intuitions --Space and Time are not mediations; instead of being spontaneous and applied like the categories of the understanding, space and time are RECEIVED and GIVEN. This point is really crucial, since there is a temptation to equate empirical experience with intuition, and to distinguish what is a priori from the latter. But the brilliance of Kant flashes in his recognition that it is possible and necessary that we have non-empirical intuitions. To put things another way: Space and Time are indeed experienced, and yet they are not objects of experience; they rather accompany all experience --but they do so by appearing in experience, or more precisely, by being given along with any appearance. It is very important to see how this manner in which space and Time are a priori is very different from the manner in which the categories are a priori. This difference is not upheld in any explicit fashion by your subsequent remark regarding Locke, since the "tabula rasa" is precisely Locke's characterization for what is not given like Kant's a priori space and time. As to your third point, keep in mind to that Kant's pure forms of intuition are not limited to one of the several ways in which finite intuition diversifies itself. Not merely sight, but all sensation requires the pure forms of intuition. The man born blind still intuits space.

    I have to run at the moment, but let me just conclude by saying, that though I do not 'agree' with Kant, I think that his penetration into the foundations of science remain reach far ahead of even the most contemporary attempts to explain science and to achieve scientific self-understanding, insofar as they are enacted by from with withing the parameters of science. I would be very interested in hearing more about why you think Kant does not measure up to the empiricistic critique...

  6. To put things another way: Space and Time are indeed experienced, and yet they are not objects of experience; they rather accompany all experience --but they do so by appearing in experience, or more precisely, by being given along with any appearance.

    OK, and I might accept Space and Time, the forms of intuition, as subjective conditions of experience (that may be a bit broad for you...), a priori and non-experiential. The temptation is to cognitivize, however--which many a traditional Kantian objects to.

    Which is to say, Kant, if he means that phenomenal experience depends on the a priori or innate givens of human perception such as space and time, I sort of agree. We can't get outside our own cognitive parameters.

    Your own formulation sounds rather grand and transcendent,however, and not really about cognition per se, but sort of a metaphysical grounding (ie, "noumenal"--and in Schopenhauer's update of Kant he calls space and time noumenal, and chastises Kant for imprecise use of "noumenal"--isn't anything said to exist which is not phenomenal ..noumenal?? including the Categories...). Thus, if you claim--or infer--the F.o.I. exist as innate cognitive processes or brain functions, I agree to some extent. If they are part of...well.. Gott's mind, or a transcendent or noumenal realm, I respectfully return the ticket...

  7. "Your own formulation sounds rather grand and transcendent,however, and not really about cognition per se, but sort of a metaphysical grounding"

    Keep in mind, J, a "transcendent" formulation is not something Kant himself avoided: he chose for his treatment of Space and Time as pure forms of intuition ---a treatment which significantly occupies the very first part of the first division of the KrV --the important title "TRANSCENDENTAL Aesthetic." On the other hand, neither Kant nor I intend the use of this word in an uncritical way. Your question (or your paraphrase of Schopenhauer's question), namely "isn't anything said to exist which is not phenomenal ..noumenal?? including the Categories" has, it seems to me, a direct response from Kant's critical project: A priori conditions for the possibility of anything that exists ---whether that thing be possible or actual, cannot be confused with that same thing whose very possibility they condition. More simply put: not only are there "things that exist" but there are transcendental conditions of those things. Of course, such transcendental conditions cannot themselves be the very things they condition (this is an obvious infinite regress --though that is not the primary reason why Kant has recourse to them in their distinction from existent things).
    (cont. in next comment)

  8. The reason why I stress this is because it excludes both options of the hypothetical either or with which you conclude your most recent comment. You say:
    "if you claim--or infer--the F.o.I. exist as innate cognitive processes or brain functions, I agree to some extent. If they are part of...well.. Gott's mind, or a transcendent or noumenal realm, I respectfully return the ticket..."
    Why are neither one of these characterizations compatible with Space and Time understood as forms of intuition? My short answer is: because neither one can be understood as form (both are content or, if you prefer, matter --in the sense of subject matter). Let me expand a little on that. A "brain function" is something which is in principle objective and observable --not only therefore is it given in some way, but it is even empirically verifiable (meaning that there is nothing inherent in the concept of a "brain function" that makes it empirically unverifiable IN PRINCIPLE). Anything like a "brain function", as a potential object, must therefore require in advance the "unity of representation" that proved in our post above to be the distinguishing factor between forms of intuition and formal intuitions. Just as triangles are objects constituted of intution and understanding, so too are "brain functions" so constituted. In fact, a triangle, because the sort of intuition it depends on is only pure intuition, is an object of a priori knowledge, where as a "brain function" depends not simply on pure but on empirical intuition, and is therefore in no wise able to be considered as knowledge a priori. This is evident by the fact that a brain function is only observable as a brain function in Space and Time.

  9. You might say to all of this, "Ok fine, Pseudo, I get it, the brain as an observable organ is an object ---and our knowledge of anything like a brain depends on our ability to observe it. But even if no one got the bright idea into their head to crack someone else's head open, what about cognitive processes? In other words, what about cognition, not insofar as it is amenable to outer intuition but rather only insofar as it is amenable to inner intuition?" This definitely marks a significant improvement upon the answer of "brain functions", but it is still insufficient for two reasons. The first is that cognition is distinct from intuition. What's the difference? A process of cognition, as a spontaneous activity of the understanding, is not receptive like an intuition. An intuition happens only in receiving what it is intuited, i.e. the sense-manifold offered by any intuited object. But a process of cognition is completely different: it is not receptive or passive. Instead it actively organizes the priorly received sense-manifold through the application of the a priori categories of the understanding. Any cognitive process therefore depends on a prior intuition, since the former organizes the latter, so that, as a result, the two together, namely intuition and cognition (i.e. understanding), co-constitute a unified object.

    In addition to this, another reason must be cited: what is a priori in a cognition is not the process, which happens in time and is not independent of experience, but rather the purely formal categories of the understanding (and, for that matter, the unity of apperception upon which they ultimately depend. In other words, when one thinks of a cognitive *process*, he is not thinking of something purely formal, as he is, Kant claims, in thinking of a category. The latter, unlike the former, has nothing to do with *what* is thought, but only *how* it is thought. Only the latter is pure. Analogously, with regard to intuition, there are empirical forms of intuition such as sight or touch. But the process of sight is, like the cognitive process, not pure or a priori; it is rather dependent on and excited by what is able to be seen (i.e. the color of the sense-manifold). Kant is saying that what is pure and a priori, is (as opposed to the empirical form of, e.g., sight) the pure form of, e.g., Space. Anything that is tasted or touched or smelled or seen or heard is always so sensed as already in space.

    Finally, what about the other option ...the noumenal mind of 'god'. Going back to my initial response, this answer is not a form but a content. How so? If it were not a content, i.e. something that we encounter or represent in someway --if instead of this it were a form, the mind of god would have to be our mind. But if this were the case, Kant argues, then our intuition would not be receptive, which it manifestly is. Our intuition depends upon what it receives, i.e. the sense-manifold, and for this reason it is finite. And in fact, only because we do not create what we intuit but instead receive it, do we have FORMS of intuition at all. Space and Time, so far from being situatable in or attributable to the mind of god, are a consequence of the very way we would have to differ from god (were god knowable), namely, the finitude of our intuition AS OPPOSED TO INFINITUDE of some other, ‘divine’, intuition.

  10. Danke for explanations. When time allows, I have been reviewing Copleston's material on the KrV, and the Transcendental Deduction itself, and your's sounds like an orthodox, transcendental reading. So I will ponder a bit.

    I'm not entirely convinced, however, of Kant's idealism in regard to spatio-temporality, tho' realize it's a rather daunting topic. Appearances may be spatialized a priori, but the form seems...static or something. Children at least, the competent ones, learn geometry; thus they arguably learn about space, incrementally. I'm not convinced that geometry (really mathematics as a whole, for Kant) must begin with the "pure" a priori intuition, though the word "synthesis" indicates that Kant was not just updating platonic chestnuts--hence another reason for my cognitive reading.

    Geometric/mathematical knowledge itself required centuries of application and systemizing--the spatial form, whatever it is (ie, cognitive process, related to vision, etc), seems itself subject to...development, etc. It may be a bit trite or obvious to accuse Kant of a-historical-ness, but...that's an issue (Im not praising Hegel either--tho' Hegel did have a keen sense of historical movement--and if I recall correctly does not always agree to Kant's transcendent moments).

  11. I'm glad my response retained at least the semblance of intelligibility...if it was helpful then that is even better...

    I think you suggest a very fine way to proceed towards a clarification: Once someone is able to see inside and out how Kant claims the a priori forms of intuition ground geometry and arithmetic, he is in a much better position to appreciate why Kant found it necessary to speak of forms of intuition at all, and to see why Kant rigorously distinguished them from the a priori element of the understanding: both the forms of intuition and the categories of the understanding are a priori, but they are NOT a priori in the same way (they are arrived at in very different manners). I actually think that if this difference is not grasped, neither is Kant's fundamental position. The result is that many critiques of Kant, failing to apprehend this difference and what it necessarily implies, end up knocking down the straw men that their mis-readings have woven.

    Now just a quick remark regarding your doubt regarding Kant's geometry. You say:

    "I'm not convinced that geometry (really mathematics as a whole, for Kant) must begin with the "pure" a priori intuition, though the word "synthesis" indicates that Kant was not just updating platonic chestnuts--hence another reason for my cognitive reading."

    Here I would say simply that I agree with you, or rather, I think Kant agrees with you: geometry does not properly begin with the a priori intuition; it depends on it in advance. In other words, geometry studies not the pure form of the intuition of space but the formal intuition of space, and the latter depends on the former. This clarifies the entire problem you raise regarding geometry's manifest "development", which is really no obstacle at all to Kant's understanding of geometry. After all, knowledge of formal intuitions is not analytic but synthetic and therefore EXTENDS what we know. Development, i.e. an extension of a body of knowledge, is inevitable in such a case as geometry. The synthetic nature of geometrical propositions is precisely what allows them to establish facts --in order to form these proposition one must go to an object (in this case a formal intuition, e.g. a line) in order to legitimately bind their subject to their predicate. But this changes nothing regarding the transcendental conditions for these objects about which geometrical facts can be established. The accumulation of knowledge regarding formal intuitions in which the historical "development" of geometry consists is not to be confused with a change in the form of intuition which makes such formal intuitions possible. This is the case even when, say, Lobachevskian Geometry is embraced as a possiblilty distinct from Euclidean geometry. Lobachevskian Geometry does not abandon or alter the form of intuition of space. Its very validity as an alternate form of geometry rests on whether and how it can take up different relations to the same pure form of space.

    Regarding the a-historical nature of Kant's thought as a whole, I know this is a common way to paint him, but when I read his "Sketch for a Universal History with Cosmopolitan Intent" I can't help but wonder whether such a familiar caricature is missing something...

  12. It is very important to see how this manner in which space and Time are a priori is very different from the manner in which the categories are a priori. This difference is not upheld in any explicit fashion by your subsequent remark regarding Locke, since the "tabula rasa" is precisely Locke's characterization for what is not given like Kant's a priori space and time.

    Yes but Locke still agrees a slate-subject exists, it just happens to be blank--and I suspect Doc Locke would probably agree to something like cognitive parameters if pressed, or innateness in...a physiological sense, but not in an epistemological sense. There may be a Subject, but it has no a priori information...which requires...sensation, and abstractions of various types (at least until a certain degree of knowledge is attained).

    One question for me then is whether that form of intuition (spatio-temporality) is anything more than....shall we say "horse sense" (a horse obviously has some awareness of spatial relations, will choose one path over another when heading back to the stable), OR is it metaphysical, or transcendent. In the first I agree, but it's sort of..vaucuous. In the later, I'm not in agreement (as far as I understand it).

    I doubt you care much for Russell, but R. thought Kant was mistaken insofar that he thought he could separate out phenomena, or the conditions for perceiving/understanding phenomena in a sense (a problem for Locke's primary vs secondary qualities as well)--ie, color for instance. Why not an a priori form of intuition for color? Not a very sophisticated critique, but I do think humans learn colors in a sense (certainly depends on associating the word to the sensation...rather difficult for a blind man), as they do spatial relations, and eventually geometry. So something like perspective would be unknown to a blindman (you probably wouldn't want him to build a bridge for you either); certainly for the schoolchild, geometry itself depends on seeing the forms, working with them, visualizing the relations, and relating to numbers and axioms (even Socrates draws his geometry lessons in the sand)--that sounds like learning about spatial relations (which exist "in nature") via a process of sensation and abstraction (which I grant empiricists can't say much about...then neither can the classical rationalists) .

    Ergo, I disagree (tho' realize it may not suffice for counterargument) that space is intuited a priori, or by a blindman, anymore than color would be...

  13. --That said, I am not suggesting "empiricism is the correct system" in all cases (especially the naive, "what you see is what you get" sort--even Locke protests that and never mistakes representations of objects for the object itself). I do think Newtonian-- and Leibnizian (tho' GL's monadology is a rather big and baggy affair, and he's not always a realist ) accounts of space were preferable--and superior to-- Kant's idealism, however, and to his writing on geometry. (And Locke in his own limited way, was attempting to justify Newton's views re absolute space--.)

    --The fiendish Russell reminds us that neither the Kantian-euclidian or empirical/Millian accounts of geometry sufficed, especially after non-euclidian geometry arose in 19th century; the mathematicians showed that mathematical geometry could be done analytically, a priori --the "synthesis" was rendered obsolete, supposedly (at least according to Russell the logicist).

    --My reading of Carnap suggests RC also felt the older, philosophical account of geometry (and "forms of intuition") could not withstand Einstein, and the logical positivists' critique. Riemann had replaced Euclid, at least with Mach.

    You're probably sick of me now.

    Danke for discussion.

  14. Without presuming to underestimate the extent of your abilities, I feel obliged all the same to take the liberty of assuring you that you would be hard pressed to curtail my zeal for what we have stumbled upon in the present discussion without inexplicably changing the topic of such a discussion altogether!

    1.)First of all, regarding Locke. I think it would be profitable at this juncture to employ something like those broad and sweeping categories often employed by historians of philosophy (even authoritative ones like Copleston) in order to sketch in a rough and ready way what might be called the novelty of Kant's articulation of the "pure forms of intuition" over against something like a Lockean epistemology/psychology. So, speaking in terms whose generality conceal just as much as they reveal, we may say that, for the purposes of our discussion, Kant's entire critical project is, among other things, an attempt to navigate between the Scylla of idealism's "innate ideas" (still to be found in Descartes' "perfection" and "infinity") and the Charybdis of empiricism's positing of something like a "tabula rasa" (which serves as the psychological correlate of an "all-knowledge-begins-with/is-confined-to" experience as it is acquired through the senses). What is the third option Kant proposes? I mean, isn't knowledge either to be found 'in' the knower or 'oustide' him? There is no space between. (cont in next comment)

  15. So what does Kant say? He says: "Look, when you talk about innate ideas, you are talking about the CONTENT of what is known, e.g. the "innate idea OF PERFECTION". But this holds no less true for the empiricist: the knowledge yielded by experience, whatever its character (i.e. whether it be causal knowledge or merely description), is CONTENT, i.e. a sense-perception of this or that thing, or quality, or percept (or however on wishes to construe the "what" that is experienced ---whether naively as the what-you-see-is-what-you-get) or critically as primary or secondary qualities (or any other brand of phenomenality for that matter). What alternative to knowledge-as-content is Kant proposing? Kant is saying that though every every act of knowing, whether sensation or thought or something else, must always be oriented toward some content, e.g. perfection, tree, green, sweet, etc, it is also true that an act of knowing takes place within certain "parameters" or "limits" which give the knowledge gained its distinct character --every act of knowing not only content but form; the tree is not only the content of our perception, but it is also informed according to the limits of, e.g. sight or hearing or taste, etc. OK, fine. Nothing revolutionary so far (even if we HAVE presupposed in this caricature the so-called Copernican revolution). Surely the empiricists as well as the idealists have accounted for the fact that knowledge has form in addition to content. The novelty of Kant lies in the way he recognizes how form can actually become the sole content of knowledge. That knowledge whose content is comprised solely of the form of knowledge is obviously only attainable after gaining knowledge that is not merely knowledge of the form of knowing. I can only have sight itself as an object (i.e. content) of knowledge after I see something (e.g. a tree, or strictly speaking, green and brown or whatever the colors of the tree are). On the other hand, just because we only gain objective knowledge of seeing itself AFTER we see SOMETHING, it does not follow from this that the form of sight is a consequence or derivation of what is seen, since it the form of sight must in someway be prior to the object of sight (the tree, or rather its colors) in order for us to be able to see that object. For this reason Kant says that “while it is indeed true that all our knowledge begins with experience, it does not necessarily follow that all out knowledge is derived therefrom.” This non-derivable knowledge is knowledge the content of which is solely comprised by the form of knowledge. (cont. in next comment)

  16. Now not all non-derivable knowledge is pure or a priori. Seeing, for example, depends on sight. Sight, on the other hand, depends upon the 'physiological equipment' can serve as the positive object of optics and optometry and physiology and other empirical sciences. There is no a priori necessity that we have optic equipment. On the other hand, the form of sight is not reducible to such equipment, just as no condition for the possibility of something --whether it be a sufficient or a necessary condition --is identical with that thing whose possibility it conditions. The form or parameter of sight is by no means the same as the physiological equipment required for seeing. The "mechanisms" which make seeing possible are for that very reason not identical to seeing itself. (cont. in next comment)

  17. Not just ears and eyes, nor what is seen (color) and what is heard (sound, but seeing and hearing differ from one another. Seeing and hearing are not simply and immediately derivable-from experience, but they are ultimately empirical and are certainly not a priori; there is nothing which makes it necessary for us to see; we simply happen to do so. Similarly, there is nothing a priori about universal concept whereby we recognize a single tree to be a tree as opposed to a dog. Both the universal concept and the empirical form of sight are dependent upon the object of experience, though the one finds that object only in terms of its categorical 'whatness', the other in terms only of its color. (I will finish this rant and get to the point in the next comment, which can be expected soon!)

  18. Now, to brings things back to their direct relevance for Kant's difference from Locke:

    The forms of empirical intuition are such that they relate to and depend upon the possible obect of experience; through the form of sight seeing is limited to color, and only if an object can offer that datum capable of con-forming to such a form (i.e. capable of furnishing color) can it be visible strictly speaking. This dependency on the object of intuition is characteristic of all forms of empirical intuition, even though it differs from that dependency on the object of intuition that is characteristic of all content of intuition. The question becomes, leaving aside the form and content of empirical intuition, is there anything that belongs to the intuition of an object which does NOT depend on the object of intuition, but is rather something upon which the object of intuition itself depends, to the extent that it is intuited at all? If there is such a thing, it cannot be established by some free-floating dogmatic theory of metaphysics. Rather, it must be able to be found in intuition itself. Let us take a look at the evidence. presented in the intuition of an empirical object: The flag I see waiving on the flagpole in front of the building in the it not always either far or near, short or tall, behind or in front, along side this and removed from it not always necessarily spatial? And is it only something seen....or is it the case that when I hear the echo of my own voice in the mountains, the faint caw of a seagull on the shoreline, or the abrupt sputtering of the motorcycle outside the open cafe door...don't I in all of these instances also hear the spatiality of these things? And the pungent smell of the rotting food that is too close for comfort when I look into the fridge? And the roundness of the after dinner mint on my tongue? Of course spatiality appeals to all forms of intuition (not just to sight), but not any one in particular. But how can this be? When we look at the evidence, space is always already there in whatever we intuit, but it is NOT the intuited object itself. Space is not an object of intuition and yet it is necessarily intuited; there can be no object of intuition which is not ALREADY in space. Of course we can then go ahead and make this form of intuition the Object and explicit content of our intuition: we can MEASURE the distance between the flag pole and the building. When we do this we relate not directly to an empirical intuition like a the brown of a tree or the whir of a bus engine. Rather we relate to a FORMAL intuition, i.e. a line or quantity of space. But even this presupposes the space itself that is already there, no matter what it is that we are looking at or whether we are measuring it. Because WHAT is being looked at or heard (etc) is irrelevant, we are not dealing with CONTENT but rather with FORM.

  19. So the conclusion of all this is that space cannot be the proper object of empirical intuition as can color or sound. It cannot be an immediate CONTENT of intuition, but this does not mean it is not intuited at all. Space certainly gets intuited along with and in advance of the all the objects of intuition (which are always spatial and therefore already in-formed by space). But even if space is form rather than content, it nonetheless can be made the object of an intuition by way of formal intuitions such as a triangle. But the very fact that space can be formally intuited is only possibly if, more primordially, space itself is a form of intuition.

    Here we see good reasons why Kant does NOT limit intuition to mere physiological parameters, but at the same time we also see why he does not think a Lockean tabula rasa hits the mark either: in the first instance one reamins entirely bound up only with the CONTENT of empirical intuition, without considerinng its FORM, in the second instance, namely the blank-slate subject, one is merely positing the absence of empirical CONTENT. But whether one posits the absence of the presence of CONTENT, he is still thinking only in terms of CONTENT, and NOT in terms of FORM. And indeed anytime one posits innate ideas (like Descartes) he has also done nothing different than think in terms of CONTENT. For Locke, the question about form, as Kant raises it, is completely neglected ---Locke neither refutes nor affirms the possibility of a pure form that is intuitable ---he simply never adequately considers its possibility.

  20. To some extent I agree, as far as I understand Kant on space and time--the ability to arrange sense-content spatio-temporally presupposes arranging mechanisms, if you will, or at the potential thereof (tho' I think Locke might subsume that under abstraction...or analogical thinking of a type. Also consider Hume on the "missing shade of blue"--which seems to grant a creative, mental power beyond just passive sensation)--but I'm not sure Kant offers a necessary argument for a priori F.o.I., but something along the lines of plausbility (even Copleston suggests something like that--however bald-faced it sounds, Kant himself does not really offer axiomatic arguments for a prioricity). Children, even infants probably construct or imagine space, w/o any geometric knowledge.

    Alas, at the risk of sounding philistinish I find that point somewhat...trivial. A cat might also have a priori forms of intuition--evolutionary-speaking he's been programmed to hunt mice and birds, and if a normal kitten, probably has some ability to envision three-dimensional space--he's ready to climb trees, hunt, kill, etc--though of course were his eyes removed his mouse-stalking skills would be severely limited.

    I am also beginning to understand what Kant (and later Hegel) were trying to do contra-brit.empiricists--they really object to the lack of necessity implied by empirical accounts of knowledge, more than anything--it's a nearly ..spiritual objection. Kant can't tolerate the idea (fleshed out by Hume, though implicit in Locke, probably) that the science described by Copernicus or Newton was derived by something like Hume's impressions--just habits, subject to change, contingent etc. (tho' some scholars claim Hume is not as skeptical as some read him (ie Popper), but really a Newtonian as well, but objecting to "necessitarian" readings of science--ie physics/natural science is not a species of Aristotelian logic, as rationalists--not to say catholics--insisted)

    Yet I don't think Kant has rock-solid necessary arguments against Hume (considering Humean empiricism as Lockeanism, pushed to the limit (and ignoring that talented quack Berkeley). He out-conceptualizes Hume (and about any philosopher), and creates a great cognitive architecture, yet ....his own arguments are generally speculative (not always). And relatedly, I have difficulties buying Kant's idea that classical physics itself (ie causality) is also synthetic a priori. Looks much like a posteriori to me in any normal sense.

    It's not a contradiction to say, pace Hume, ideas depend on antecedent impressions--including both content and form.Certainly a child does not know everything about the forms of trees. He learns what oaks are. So he learns the oak form; he might even create a sort of mental template. That may presuppose spatial intuitions of a sort, but again I don't think one can easily separate those spatio--or temporal--intuitions from the cognitive hardware (or, at least that raises another issue, however bor-ring, regarding the college BS session classics-- substance/property dualism/physicalism, etc).

    I nearly agree with you, but don't care for Kant's great schema or his manner of proceeding (which again seems more speculative than logical--even Descartes however quaint wielded tighter arguments than Kant or the german idealists, I believe...)

  21. Guyer's article re Kantian views of space and time in Routledge may seem a bit obvious or undergraduate-y, but he highlights some important points--

    ""... Kant holds that these results prove transcendental idealism, or that space and time represent properties of things as they appear to us but not properties or relations of things as they are in themselves, let alone real entities like Newtonian absolute space; thus his position of 1768 is now revised to mean that space is epistemologically but not ontologically absolute"""

    We are limited to understanding phenomena via subjective categories, and forms of intuition (including spatio-temporality), not the ding-an-sich. That I could agree with, but that doesn't mean one necessarily agrees that "a priori" connotes any transcendent aspects. In a sense, then, Kant's closer to empiricism than many claim: for he's saying we can't prove something beyond phenomena (ie knowledge via sensation) really exists.

    However an inference of "external realism" does some warranted at some point, indeed at many points, whether for ordinary humans, or scientists. The doctor may look for symptoms of a disease--cholera, or TB say--but he's certainly not treating phenomena, even if one agrees that his own perceptions are conditioned by spatio-temporality. Not a real fancy rebuttal, but I don't think Kant offers a necessary argument why our subjective, conditioned representations don't relate to mind-independent objects, or something like other words, he doesn't seem to allow inferential knowledge in a sense...(one might say probability). And for that matter, at times the idealism seems rather other-worldly, and anti-physicalist; it may suit metaphysicians, even some mathematicians, but not so great for physicians or economists or historians. For that matter we don't really have any phenomenal awareness of WWII (excepting photos perhaps)....yet it certainly occurred.

  22. Sorry for the delay in response, J...
    I feel like the observations of your most recent response may be treading over old ground, but let me attempt a fresh response. I think it to be a fair assessment of your most recent comment to say that it has concerned itself with two things that are very closely related:

    1.) The meaning of "transcendence" for Kant --especially as it relates to the meaning of "a priori"

    2.) The meaning of phenomenality in Kant, understood as a limiting qualification of an otherwise counter-posed and uncritical attitude of what you call "external realism"

    Right now, I wish to deal only with the first point. Regarding this, as has been mentioned before in out discussion, it must be borne in mind that Kant has entitled his entire exposition of intuition "Transcendental Aesthetic". When we say something like "Kant is giving us epistemological parameters, not ontological determinations," or again, when we say "Kant is speaking of subjective limitations of knowing rather than what transcends those limitations (and is thus 'real' or 'objective')", in such cases as these we are not all together incorrect, but we have missed the essential shift that Kant is enacting in the meaning of all things metaphysical; Kant does not throw away the notion of the transcendental ---he radically re-interprets it. Why can't we just say he is dealing with epistemology instead of what is transcendent and metaphysical? Simply because this underestimates the reach of that ambition most central to the entire Kantian critical project: to set metaphysics on the path of a secure science and to thereby relay the very foundations of that science which in some way provides the foundations for all others. Kant expressly states this throughout the KrV, but nowhere else more plainly than in his First Preface to that masterwork, e.g.: "Metaphysics, on the view which we are adopting, is the only one of all the sciences which dare promise that through a small but concentrated effort it will attain, and this in a short time, such completion as will leave no task to our successors save that of adopting it in a didactic manner according to their own preferences, without their being able to add anything whatsoever to its content."

  23. Thanks for clarification. While I agree the reader of Kant cannot just brush aside the transcendent elements (or theological) I don't quite understand, however, why the metaphysical foundation must be transcendent (or that seems to be what you're suggesting)--for that matter, doesn't Kant attempt to refute Berkeley's idealism (ie a denial of external objects)--thus implying that objects, ie ding an sich, do exist apart from appearances, regardless of the subjective forms of intuition of space/time-- and then in the Analytic of Principles grant that he does not offer ontology, but insists the understanding can only proceed from phenomena (thus leaving noumena speculative)?? IN other words he seems to suggest a crypto-empiricism, though grounded in subjective Mind (briefly).

    Also I'm not sure (broadly) whether IK's transcendence meant something like dualism (ala Descartes), or human Mind, though irreducible to nature/matter. Given that the understanding depends on sense experience (which is processed via the manifold of categories) , and the speculative nature of noumena, I think we are permitted in claiming any "transcendent" elements (ie the "transcendent unity of apperception," for instance) to be cognitive, mental--not apparent, but not necessarily immaterial or cartesian, for lack of a better word. You probably don't care for the rough and ready synopsis (much from my older abridged KempSmith--tho' I have the Deduction as well), but I feel w/o a cognitive grounding one is left with some massive ghostly edifice...

  24. Hegel at times refers, probably disparagingly, to Kant as a "psychologist", and to his empiric and "barbarous" conceptions--tho' he does grant that Kant's an advancement on british empiricism: "Thought grasped itself as all in all, as absolute in judgment; for it nothing external is authoritative, since all authority can receive validity only through thought."

    Note also his point that the forms of intuition, ie space/time are "empty" (that was sort of my point, not fleshed out very well). The may accompany all of our representations, but do not "exist" in the sense of platonic forms...


    I suspect GWFH thought Kant was still wedded to brit.empiricism, and in a sense...a skeptic, tho' with a richer, more subjective starting point, which does not obliterate the human subject (as did, say Hume).