Thursday, September 20, 2012

Introduction and Key terms (Summary of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason #1)

Summary of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft)


Below is my summary of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.  Needless to say, it is not meant to cover the whole argument of the book, but is only a mere attempt to understand some of the arguments in it to clarify the issues of my concern, such as I, identity, or communicative competence as an ability attributed to the individual.

Following the gist that I’ll immediately offer, this article provides sections of  (1) key terms, (2) transcendental ideas, (3) ‘I’ as the transcendental subject of thoughts = X, (4) freedom, and (5) principle of pure reason. 

Some note on terminology: Kant uses non-technical words (eg. intuition, appearance, idea, etc) in his own systematic way.  In order to emphasize his systematic terminology (and to avoid understanding his terms according to our ordinary usage), I capitalize the first letter of such terms or hyphenizes phrases.  I also provide the original German words and texts where I deem it necessary and appropriate to do so.  Numbers presented in the parentheses following the quotation (eg., (49), (B19)) indicates the page number of either Penguin translation or the second edition of the original text (the number with B).

Gist of Critique of Pure Reason

Kant distinguishes three stages in human cognition: Sensibility, Understanding and Reason.  Through these stages of cognition, humans experience the world as Appearance, distinct from Thing-in-itself, which is beyond our cognition (or indeed any cognitions).  Objects are given in Appearance and it is Sensibility that receives them as Intuitions.  Intuitions are united into Concepts in Understanding.  By means of Concepts, humans understand the world of Appearance, and Concepts are to based on the reception of Intuitions from Objects.  Some Concepts are developed into Pure Concept by Reason, though.  Pure Concepts, that are called Ideas, are not based on Intuitions and Objects, and therefore are unconditioned.  These Ideas produce notions such as I, Freedom, or God.  While Ideas are not specific or individualized, Ideals which are also products of Reason are conceived in the embodied image.  Both Ideas and Ideals are produced by Reason, and it is the task of Reason to deal with them properly.  It is this task that Kant explores in Critique of Pure Reason.

1 Key terms

1.1 About Transcendentalism

Knowledge (Erkenntnis):
As Kant tried to integrate British empiricism and continental rationalism, his notion of knowledge is based both on empiricism (in the sense of a posteriori – from experience) and rationalism (in the sense that it calls for the notion of a priori – prior to or independent of any experience).

But although all our knowledge begins with experience, it does not follow that it arises from experience. (37)

Wenn aber gleich alle unsere Erkenntnis mit der Erfahrung anhebt, so entspringt sie darum doch nicht eben alle aus der Erfahrung. (B1)

Synthetic judgment a priori (synthethische Urteile a priori):
Knowledge or judgment can be a priori without any problem if it is analytic – when the truth is contained in the very words to express it.  Kant argues that judgment apriori can also be synthetic –the opposite notion of analytic— by citing pure mathematics, pure science (eg., permanence of the quantity of matter, inertia, equality of action and reaction, etc (50, B21)) and metaphysics.  Indeed, the problem of pure reason is about this synthetic judgment a priori.

Now the real problem of pure reason is contained in the question: How are synthetic judgements a priori possible?

 Die eigentliche Aufgabe der reinen Vernunft ist nun in der Frage enthalten: Wie sind synthetische Urteile a priori möglich? (B19)

Transcendental philosophy (Transzendental-Philosophie):
   So, Kant’s philosophy is both in and beyond experience.  Unlike some extreme believers of idealism, he acknowledges objects in the world, but he is more interested in understanding how we know objects in a way we take it just for granted (a priori). Kant’s philosophy is transcendental; it explores the conditions of human knowledge that contain a priori elements.

I call all knowledge transcendental which deals not so much with objects as with our manner of knowing objects insofar as this manner is to be possible a priori.  A system of such concepts would be called transcendental philosophy.  (52)

Ich nenne alle Erkenntnis transzendental, die sich nicht sowohl mit Gegenständen, sondern mit unserer Erkenntnisart von Gegenständen, insofern diese a priori möglich sein soll, überhaupt beschäftigt. Ein System solcher Begriffe würde Transzendental-Philosophie heißen.  (B25)

Transcendental in our cognition are Sensibility, Understanding, and Reason, among others.  Let’s further see what they mean below.

1.2 About Sensibility

Sensibility (Sinnlichkeit) and Intuition (Anschauung)
Kant posits Sensibility (Sinnlichkeit) as the first stage of human cognition.  The source of our knowledge is ultimately objects in the world of Appearance (not Things-in-themselves), and objects are received by Sensibility in representations called Intuitions (Anschauung –eine bestimmte Meinung od. Ansicht über etwas; das, was man sich unter einer Sache vorstellt, was man unter ihr verstehtl— can also be translated as Views). 

The capacity (receptivity) to obtain representations through the way in which we are affected is called sensibility.  Objects are therefore given to us by means of our sensibility.  Sensibility alone supplies us with intuitions. (59)

Die Fähigkeit (Rezeptivität), Vorstellungen durch die Art, wie wir von Gegenständen affiziert werden, zu bekommen, heißt Sinnlichkeit. Vermittelst der Sinnlichkeit also werden uns Gegenstände gegeben, und sie allein liefert uns Anschauungen  (B33)

Space (Raum) and time (Zeit) as pure intuitions
Whereas most intuitions are obtained from experience (a posteriori), some are pure and a priori.  They are space and time, which constitute Form (in the Aristotelian sense) in general in which empirical intuitions a posteriori are realized as Matter (the Aristotelian sense, too).

Space and time are its pure forms while sensation in general is its matter.  The forms of space and time alone we can know a priori, that is, prior to all actual perception, and such knowledge is therefore called pure intuition.  (75)

Raum und Zeit sind die reinen Formen derselben, Empfindung überhaupt die Materie. Jene können wir allein a priori, d.i. vor aller wirklichen Wahrnehmung erkennen, und sie heißt darum reine Anschauung (B60)

1.3 About Understanding

Understanding (Verstand) and Concept (Begriff)
From Intuitions in Sensibility, Understanding as the second stage of cognition spontaneously produces Concepts in our thought.

These intuitions are thought through the understanding, and from the understanding there arise concepts. (59)

durch den Verstand aber werden sie [=Anschauunngen] gedacht, und von ihm entspringen Begriffe. (B33)

NB.  This quotation immediately follows the quotation of 59/B33 in the previous section.

Pure Concept of Understanding (reine Verstandesbegriff)
Just like Intuitions have pure ones, Concepts have pure ones (Pure Concept of Understanding) and its function is to produce unity in various representations in an Intuition.  (Note: I do not yet have a good understanding of the role of the term representation (Vorstellung) in Kantian philosophy).

The same function which gives unity to the various representations in a judgement likewise gives unity to the mere synthesis of various representations in an intuition; and this unity may in a general way be called the pure concept of the understanding.  The same understanding - and through the same operations by which it produced, in concepts, the logical form of a judgement by means of analytic unity - also introduces a transcendental content into its representations, by means of the synthetic unity of the manifold in intuition in general.  These representations are therefore pure concepts of the understanding applying a priori to objects - a content which cannot be introduced by general logic.  (104-105)

Dieselbe Funktion, welche den verschiedenen Vorstellungen in einem Urteile Einheit gibt, die gibt auch der bloßen Synthesis verschiedene Vorstellungen in einer Anschauung Einheit, welche, allgemein ausgedrückt, der reine Verstandesbegriff heißt. Derselbe Verstand also, und zwar durch eben dieselben Handlungen, wodurch er in Begriffen, vermittelst der analytischen Einheit, die logische Form eines Urteils zustande brachte, bringt auch, vermittelst der synthetischen Einheit des Mannigfaltigen in der Anschauung überhaupt, in seine Vorstellungen einen transzendentalen Inhalt, weswegen sie reine Verstandesbegriffe heißen, die a priori auf Objekte gehen, welches die allgemeine Logik nicht leisten kann.  (B104-105)

Both Sensibility and Understanding are essential elements of our cognition and either is better or worse than the other.

We call sensibility the receptivity of our mind to receive representations insofar as it is in some wise affected, while the understanding, on the other hand, is our faculty of producing representations by ourselves, or the spontaneity of knowledge.  We are so constituted that our intuition can never be other than sensible; that is, it contains only the mode in which we are affected by objects.  The faculty, on the contrary, which enables us to think the object of sensible intuition is the understanding.  Neither of these properties is to be preferred to the other.  Without sensibility no object would be given to us, without understanding no object would be thought.  Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.  (86)

Wollen wir die Rezeptivität unseres Gemüts, Vorstellungen zu empfangen, sofern es auf irgendeine Weise affiziert wird, Sinnlichkeit nennen, so ist dagegen das Vermögen, Vorstellungen selbst hervorzubringen, oder die Spontaneität des Erkenntnisses, der Verstand. Unsere Natur bringt es so mit sich, daß die Anschauung niemals anders als sinnlich sein kann, d.i. nur die Art enthält, wie wir von Gegenständen affiziert werden. Dagegen ist das Vermögen, den Gegenstand sinnlicher Anschauung zu denken, der Verstand. Keine dieser Eigenschaften ist der anderen vorzuziehen. Ohne Sinnlichkeit würde uns kein Gegenstand gegeben, und ohne Verstand keiner gedacht werden. Gedanken ohne Inhalt sind leer, Anschauungen ohne Begriffe sind blind.  (B76)

Sensibility receives objects and obtains Intuitions, and Understanding spontaneously produces Concepts in our thought.

Concepts are based, therefore, on the spontaneity of thought, sensible intuitions on the receptivity of impressions.  (97, B93)

Begriffe gründen sich also auf der Spontaneität des Denkens, wie sinnliche Anschauungen auf der Rezeptivität der Eindrücke. (B93)

1.4 About Reason (Vernunft)

Reason (Vernunft)
Reason is the third and the last stage of our cognition. Reason produces the highest unity of cognitions in our thought produced by Understanding (just like Understanding produces the unity of Intuitions from Sensibility).

All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds thence to the understanding and ends with reason.  There is nothing higher in us than reason for working on the material of intuition and bringing it under the highest unity of thought.  (288)

Alle unsere Erkenntnis hebt von den Sinnen an, geht von da zum Verstande, und endigt bei der Vernunft, über welche nichts Höheres in uns angetroffen wird, den Stoff der Anschauung zu bearbeiten und unter die höchste Einheit des Denkens zu bringen.  (B355)

When Reason produces unity to Concepts in thought, it is not directly connected to Intuitions in Sensibility or objects in the world of Appearance.  It only deals with Concepts in Understanding and brings unity that is kept apart from empirical experience; the unity that Reason brings is a priori.

If the understanding is a faculty for producing unity of appearances according to rules, then reason is the faculty for producing unity of the rules of the understanding under principles.  Reason, therefore, at first never looks directly to experience, nor to any object, but to the understanding in order to impart to its manifold kinds of knowledge an a priori unity of reason and which is very different from the unity which can be produced by understanding.  (291)

Der Verstand mag ein Vermögen der Einheit der Erscheinungen vermittelst der Regeln sein, so ist die Vernunft das Vermögen der Einheit der Verstandesregeln unter Prinzipien. So geht also niemals zunächst auf Erfahrung, oder auf irgendeinen Gegenstand, sondern auf den Verstand, um den mannigfaltigen Erkenntnissen desselben Einheit a priori durch Begriffe zu geben, welche Vernunfteinheit heißen mag, und von ganz anderer Art ist, als sie von dem Verstande geleistet werden kann.  (B359)

Idea (Idee)
Pure concept, also known as notion (Notio), is still in the stage of Understanding along with empirical concepts, although concepts, both empirical and pure, are already beyond the stage of Sensibility.  Pure concepts can, however, go beyond the realm of experience and thus become concepts of reason called Ideas (Ideen).

A concept is either an empirical or a pure concept; and the pure concept, insofar as it has its origin solely in the understanding (not in the pure image of sensibility) is called notion.  A concept formed of notions and transcending the possibility of experience is an idea, or concept of reason.  (302)
Der Begriff ist entweder ein empirischer oder reiner Begriff, und der reine Begriff, sofern er lediglich im Verstande seinen Ursprung hat (nicht im reinen Bilde der Sinnlichkeit) heißt Notio. Ein Begriff aus Notionen, der die Möglichkeit der Erfahrung übersteigt, ist die Idee, oder der Vernunftbegriff.  (B377)

Idea is transcendental and does not refer to any object in the world.
As Ideas work in Reason, which is kept apart from Sensibility in our empirical world, they are not conditioned by any reality, or, to put it the other way, are conditioned by the totality of all possible conditions; They are transcendent (and also transcendental) and refer to no objects in the empirical world.  In this sense, they are used in Pure Reason in its operation, and should not necessarily be degraded as mere fancies.

By idea I understand a necessary concept of reason to which the senses can supply no congruent object.  The concepts of reason, therefore, of which we have been speaking, are transcendental ideas.  They are concepts of pure reason insofar as they consider all empirical knowledge as determined by an absolute totality of conditions.  They are not mere fancies, but are imposed by the very nature of reason itself, and therefore refer by necessity to the whole use of the understanding.  They are, lastly, transcendent and overstep the limits of all experience; no object can ever be given in experience that would be adequate to the transcendental idea.   (306-307)

Ich verstehe unter der Idee einen notwendigen Vernunftbegriff, dem kein kongruierender Gegenstand in den Sinnen gegeben werden kann. Also sind unsere jetzt erwogenen reinen Vernunftbegriffe transzendentale Ideen. Sie sind Begriffe der reinen Vernunft; denn sie betrachten alles Erfahrungserkenntnis als bestimmt durch eine absolute Totalität der Bedingungen. Sie sind nicht willkürlich erdichtet, sondern durch die Natur der Vernunft selbst aufgegeben, und beziehen sich daher notwendigerweise auf den ganzen Verstandesgebrauch. Sie sind endlich transzendent und übersteigen die Grenze aller Erfahrung, in welcher also niemals ein Gegenstand vorkommen kann, der der transzendentalen Idee adäquat wäre.  (B383-384)

Reason “orders” concepts of Understanding to bring the ultimate unity.  In the process of obtaining the ultimate unity (which is not actually obtainable), Reason extends the limits of Concepts of Understanding that is inherited from the empirical world of Sensibility.  It is part of the nature of Reason to try to obtain unconditionally complete, something that can be thought, but not available in our experience.

Reason never refers directly to an object, but only to the understanding, and through the latter to its own empirical use.  It does not, therefore, create concepts (of objects), but only orders them, and imparts to them that unity which they can have in their greatest possible extension, that is, with reference to the totality of different series; while the understanding does not concern itself with this totality, but only with the connection whereby series of conditions everywhere come into being according to concepts.  Reason actually has, therefore, as its object only the understanding and its purposive use; and just as the understanding unites the manifold in the object by means of concepts, so reason unites the manifold of concepts by means of ideas, making a certain collective unity the aim of the acts of the understanding, which otherwise are concerned only with distributive unity.  (532-533)  

Die Vernunft bezieht sich niemals geradezu auf einen Gegenstand, sondern lediglich auf den Verstand, und vermittelst desselben auf ihren eigenen empirischen Gebrauch, schafft also keine Begriffe (von Objekten), sondern ordnet sie nur, und gibt ihnen diejenige Einheit, welche sie in ihrer größtmöglichen Ausbreitung haben können, d.i. in Beziehung auf die Totalität der Reihen, als auf welche der Verstand gar nicht sieht, sondern nur auf diejenige Verknüpfung, dadurch allerwärts Reihen der Bedingungen nach Begriffen zustande kommen. Die Vernunft hat also eigentlich nur den Verstand und dessen zweckmäßige Anstellung zum Gegenstande, und, wie dieser das Mannigfaltige im Objekt durch Begriffe vereinigt, so vereinigt jene ihrerseits das Mannigfaltige der Begriffe durch Ideen, indem sie eine gewisse kollektive Einheit zum Ziele der Verstandeshandlungen setzt, welche sonst nur mit der distributiven Einheit beschäftigt sind.  (B671-672)

Transcendental concepts of reasons are what drive Reason to its ultimate of direction: the absolute totality that unconditioned in any way.

Now, the transcendental concept of reason always aims at the absolute totality in the synthesis of conditions, and does not end until it has reached that which is unconditioned absolutely, that is, in any relation.  (306)
Nun geht der transzendentale Vernunftbegriff jederzeit nur auf die absolute Totalität in der Synthesis der Bedingungen, und endigt niemals, als bei den schlechthin, d.i. in jeder Beziehung, Unbedingten.  (B383)

Ideal (Ideal)
An interesting derivation from Ideas (Ideen) is the Ideal (Ideal), which unlike Ideas has a specific image of the individual.  It is interesting because it looks like a specific object but has no object in the empirical world.

Still further removed from objective reality than the idea would seem to be what I call the ideal, by which I mean the idea, not only in concreto but in individuo, that is, an individual thing determinable or even determined by the idea alone.  (485)

Aber noch weiter, als die Idee, scheint dasjenige von der objektiven Realität entfernt zu sein, was ich das Ideal nenne, und worunter ich die Idee, nicht bloß in concreto, sondern in individuo, d.i. als ein einzelnes, durch die Idee allein bestimmbares, oder gar bestimmtes Ding, verstehe.  (B596)

Ideal is the idea of a divine understanding according to Plato.  We are only a few steps away from God, the topic I have to omit in this article.

What to us is an ideal, was in Plato's language an idea of a divine understanding, an individual object of its pure intuition, the most perfect of every kind of possible being, and the archetype of all copies in appearance.  (486)

Was uns ein Ideal ist, war dem Plato eine Idee des göttlichen Verstandes, ein einzelner Gegenstand in der reinen Anschauung desselben, das Vollkommenste einer jeden Art möglicher Wesen und der Urgrund aller Nachbilder in der Erscheinung.  (B597)

Below is the summary figure of Sensibility, Understanding and Reason.  (For the explanation of Illusion (Schein), please read the following chapter).


Beril Tezeller Arik said...

I find this summary helpful

Yosuke YANASE said...

Thank you Beril for your information!
I wish I had more time just sit back and read books silently, and of course, listen to interesting podcasts like the one you kindly introduced.