Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant

By Immanuel Kant

Eighteenth century philosophy used to be in a difficulty, the schism among rationalism and empiricism complicating the dispute over the prestige of faith and the specter of technology. devoted both to cause and event, technological know-how and morality, Kant's objective used to be to put those issues on a safe foundation whereas restricting their declare to unqualified fact: the result's the Critique of natural cause (1781), a decisively influential and substantially unique paintings.

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On the latter point, he was in complete agreement with Hume: There is no sen­ sory impression of a self. Against Hume, he argues that "I" is still a le­ gitimate concept that applies to objects in the world (namely, the subjects of knowledge), because such subjects are necessary for any cognition at all. The "apperception" piece of this doctrine adds yet another complex6David Hurne, Treatise of Human Nature, L. A. , Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1978, p. 25 1 . xlvi INTRODUCTION ity. " Unfortunately, the illumination provided by such a gloss is quite limited, because it was far from clear in the eighteenth century­ and it is far from clear now-what either a "self" or "consciousness" is.

Although there has been much de­ bate in the past over this issue, most current scholars do not take "phe­ nomena" and "noumena" to indicate two different kinds of objects, but rather two different ways of regarding objects, either as objects as we per­ ceive and understand them or as objects existing independently of any cog­ nitive relation we might have to them. 10 The concepts of "phenomena" and "noumena" are important for Kant, because the central positive and nega­ tive claims of Transcendental Idealism can be expressed in terms of them: Our knowledge is a reflection of both sensory evidence and our own ways of knowing objects and hence is only of phenomenal objects; we can know nothing whatsoever of noumenal objects, objects as they are in themselves apart from our ways of knowing.

This is an incredibly difficult project, one that we cannot carry out with much confidence even today. xliv INTRODUCTION Contemporary readers may well feel that, without the resources of current cognitive science, Kant's project is actually hopeless. Oddly, however, he had some resources available that are little used by contemporary research­ ers. Today it is common to approach cognition by starting with the early stages of perception. Kant started at the other end of the process, with cog­ nitive products like judgments and inferences.

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