Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

Empirical intuition provides us with experiences that

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Unformatted text preview: tuition, doing this a priori in an intuition that is not empirical but pure. [See the explanation of ‘pure intuition’ on pages 10-11.] Without resorting to a priori intuitions, mathematics cannot take a single step. So its judgments are always intuitive. (In contrast with philosophy,which has to be satisfied with conceptual judgments. Philosophy may illustrate its necessary doctrines through intuition, but can never deduce them from it.) This fact about mathematics points us to the absolutely basic thing that makes mathematics possible, namely that it is grounded in pure intuitions in which it can construct all its concepts - that is, can represent them in a manner that is Ÿconcrete rather than abstract, and Ÿa priori rather than empirical. If we can discover this pure intuition and what makes it possible, we will then be able to explain how there can be synthetic a priori propositions in pure mathematics, and thus how mathematics itself is possible. Empirical intuition provides us with experiences that enable us to connect concepts with other concepts, forming a posteriori judgments that are empirically certain. Pure intuition also lets us connect concepts with other concepts, but in their case the synthetic judgment is a priori certain and necessary, ·not merely empirically certain·. Empirical judgments contain only what we Ÿhappen to have encountered in Ÿempirical intuition, whereas mathematical judgments contain what Ÿmust necessarily be met with in Ÿpure intuition. ·The plates or coins or moons that I happen to have seen or felt may be significantly unlike the ones that you have encountered; but there cannot be such a difference between my a priori intuition of a circle and yours·. An a priori intuition is inseparably joined with the concept before all experience, independently of every particular perception. Section 8 Now we seem to have made the problem worse than ever, for now we have to ask: How can one intuit anything a priori? An intuition is a representation of a sort that ·ordinarily· depends directly on the presence of the object. ·There is no problem about an intuition of an object that is present to one at the time, or of an object that has been present at an earlier time and is still remembered·. It seems impossible, though, to intuit something a 19 priori, without help from any outer stimulus. Such an intuition would have to occur without any object Ÿbeing present or Ÿhaving been present, to which the intuition could refer; and in that case it couldn’t be an intuition - ·or so it seems·. We can form some concepts a priori, without being related in any immediate way to an object: we can do this with the concepts that contain only the thought of an object in general, without any detail for example the concepts of quantity, cause, and so on. (Though even these have meaning for us only if we use them concretely, applying them to intuitions through which we confront actual instances of quantity and cause in our experience.) But how can an intuition of an object precede the object itself? Section 9 If our intuition had to represent things as they are in themselves, no intuition could ever take place a priori; intuition would be empirical every time. ·Here is why·. If an intuition takes place a priori, then no object of it is present and given to me; but if the object is not present and given to me, I cannot know what it is like in itself. Actually, even if an object is intuitively present to me, it is incomprehensible how I could know a thing as it is in itself, for a thing’s properties cannot migrate into my mind. ·Since I cannot get the thing’s own properties into my mind, the most I can do is to have in my mind my representations of them; but that means that I am apprehending the thing not as it is in itself but as I perceive and think about it·. Never mind that just now; let us pretend that this is possible. My present point is that such an intuition would not take place a priori, i.e. before the object was presented to me; for if the object were not present, there would be nothing that connected my representation - ·my intuition· - in any way with that object in particular. There is only one way to have an intuition that precedes the reality of the object, and thus occurs as a priori knowledge. I could have such an intuition if it contained nothing but the form of my sensibility. ·My sensibility is my capacity for being affected by particular real things. Through it I come to have sensible intuitions. In any such transaction with an object, the sensibility makes its own contribution; the intuitions that occur in my mind depend not only on Ÿwhat the objects are like but also on Ÿthe characteristic marks left on them by my sensibility; these constitute its form·. The form of my sensibility is available to me in advance of any of the impressions in which I am affected by objects. ·That is because I know in advance that, whatever my particular experience turns out to be like, it wil...
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This note was uploaded on 03/12/2013 for the course PHIL 105 taught by Professor Mendetta during the Spring '13 term at SUNY Stony Brook.

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