Engstrom Lecture 4

Transcendental Aesthetic                                                                                                                9/12/16

Engstrom starts with a warning about Kant’s use of “mode”.  For the German word “erkenntinus” is translated as”knowledge”; but the plural  gets translated as “modes of knowledge,” given that “knowledges” is not proper English. [In the next lecture Engstrom discusses how Kant uses “determination” in the way Spinoza or Descartes use “mode”]

The Copernican Turn: our knowledge does not conform to the object, rather object conform to our knowledge.

[This was not part of the lecture but I had read it in conjunction with the reading for that day. Chapter 1 of A.C. Ewing’s Breif Commentary on the CPR: The mistake is to view Kant’s Copernican Revolution as an analogy about anthropocentricity. That is the view that as Copernicus ended the anthropocentric character of astronomy, so Kant made philosophy anthropocentric. Rather, it should be interpreted that just as Copernicus taught that the movement which men ascribed to the sun as going around the Earth is merely an appearance due to the Earth’s(the observer’s) movement; so to Kant taught that time and space, which men had ascribed to reality, are only appearances due only to ourselves(the observers). Moreover, Kant’s view is less anthropocentric in that it does not ascribed to reality what merely belongs to men.]

Theoretical knowledge: from things outside of us

Practical knowledge: from within us

Transcendental knowledge: it is prior to both of these, is a special kind of knowledge. It is a priori. It is not theoretical knowledge, but knowledge about theoretical knowledge. Thus, it is  distinct from a priori knowledge about objects.

The faculties of knowledge: Kant wants to do justice to the truths of both rationalism and empiricism, thus he views knowledge as coming from both ideas and the senses.

  1. understanding: the active, higher faculty
  2. sensibility: the passive faculty

Kant, however, is not going to go in for ‘innate ideas’, nor the ‘impressions’ or receptive knowledge of Locke. Rather, his thought is that experience comes from the combination of these two faculties. And it is only from this notion of experience that we can come to have knowledge.

Capacities(powers):                                Representations:

  • Understanding                                      Concepts : Mediate and General
    (through which objects are thought)
  • Sensibility                                              Intuitions: Immediate and Singular
    (through which objects are given)


This is what it means for Kant to call our knowledge discursive rather than intuitive. Before Kant, all modern philosophers used ‘intuition’ in a more rationalistic way, that is as saying something about ideas, rather than the senses. Intuition for Kant is pictorial in character, that is it has to do with mental images.

Pure Intuition vs. Empirical IntuitionSensation is the mark of the latter, and it is abscent in the former. For example, closing ones eyes and imagining a view of the world would be much like a pure intuition. However, seeing the world before ones eyes, immediately, is an empirical intuition.

 Empirical Intuition                      ⇒                                         Appearance


Matter (Sensation)

Two modes of “Sense”:

  1. Outer: Spacial–Thinking of object outside of us
  2. Inner: Temporal–Thinking of our own states

Kant’s exposition of space must show it to be  a priori and an intuition. Remember, the marks of a priori are universal and necessary; and the marks of an intuition are immediate and singular.

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