Synthetic A Priori Judgments--Brown

Synthetic A Priori Judgments--Brown - Daniel Zauderer...

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Daniel Zauderer Synthetic A Priori Judgments “Every event has a cause,” according to Immanuel Kant, is a synthetic a priori judgment. René Descartes’ statement “something can not come from nothing” is a similar judgment. Descartes believed that the truth of this statement is determined through the “natural light of reason” inherent in every man. Yet such an explanation is not a proof; it is a simple analogy. Kant was not satisfied. In his “Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics,” Kant sets forth a proof on the existence of synthetic a priori judgments. In order to understand Kant’s complex proof, one must understand what a synthetic a priori judgment is and the terms that comprise it. Kant makes a clear distinction between “analytic” and “synthetic” judgments. A synthetic judgment results from the combination of two separate and un-related concepts. “Some bodies are heavy,” for example, is a synthetic judgment. The concept of “heavy” has nothing to do with the concept of “body.” One can know what a body is without knowing that it is heavy; one can know what “heavy” is without knowing anything about bodies. The concepts exist independent of each other. Analytic judgments, on the other hand, are known by definition. The statement “all bodies are spatially extended” is an analytic judgment. That a body is spatially extended is in the definition of “body.” In order to know what a body is one must know that it is spatially extended. Nothing new about the concept of a body is learned when one is told that it is spatially extended. Additionally, tautologies (statements that one can never attempt to prove false) are analytic judgments. “The door is open or it is closed” is a tautology. Nothing is learned from such a statement; indeed, such a statement is rather silly.
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In order to understand Kant’s discussion on judgments, one must know his definition of a judgment. A judgment is defined as “S is P,” or “subject is predicate.” In
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Synthetic A Priori Judgments--Brown - Daniel Zauderer...

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