Engstrom Lecture 7

Conclusions of Space (and Time)                                 9-21-16


Representations of space and time have their source in sensibility.

  • The metaphysical expositions show space and time as a priori representations
  • The transcendental expositions show the representations of space and time to be necessary conditions of experience in general
  • This is the first step in his proof of the possibility of synthetic a priori knowledge, and also justification for his Copernican Turn

By “science“, in §3, Kant is reffering to Euclidean geometry; it was the only game in town in Kant’s day. The question arises whether a non-euclidean geometry undermines his project in anyway? It seems not. Geometry, per Kant, is synthetic a priori, that is, he leaves conceptual room for a non-Euclidean geometry. In other words, if Kant had viewed geometry as analytic apriori, a non-euclidean geometry would have undermined his project.

A further question is whether Einstein’s relativity undermines the CPR? Likewise, for similar reasons, it seems not. That is, just as the transcendental exposition explains merely the possibility of geometry, so too the  metaphysical expositions gives such a bare(underdetermined) account of space and time, that it is unlikely any empirical account of either could actually do harm to his theory.

Kant reaches two main conclusions:

  1. Negative: Space is not a property or relation of things in themselves
  2. Positive: Space is nothing but the form of all appearances of outer sense.

The crucial distinction here is between ‘things in themselves‘, and ‘appearances‘.

  • Sensation(not senses, and not sensibility) is the affect an object has upon us; it is what make an intuition empirical. Senses are the modes by which we receive sensation; Sensibility is the faculty by which we receive these affections.
  • Perception always involves sensation.

Intuition      (Form)

Empirical Intuition                             ⇒                                   Appearrance

Sensation     (Matter)

  • Empirical intuition is always of an appearance.
  • Appearances indicate the possibility, in principle, of having an empirical intuition.
    • The form of outer appearances are bound spatially. Space is a form of appearance; the appearing figure is limited in space.
  • There is a further distinction between appearance and thing in itself
    • The common(empirical) distinction: e.g. the rain drops as the thing in itself, and the rainbow as the appearance.
    • The transcendental distinction: The raindrop is an empirical object, not the transcendental object(the thing in itself). The rain drop is, as such, the same for all human perceivers. The transcendental object is how how a thing is independent of any perceiver. This, however, we cannot know because we, as human, are restricted to our mode of knowing. Thus we cannot know the transcendental object(the thing in itself) as we have no access to such an object.
  • Thing in itself: Something not at all involved in our common experience. It is not know, nor can it be via. intuitions, and no questions can be asked of it.
  • The background condition of having outer perception, is that something outside us is affecting us. Intuitions give us access to the objects affecting us from outside us. That object in general(independent of our intuitions of space and time) is a thing in itself.

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