Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

The only way to measure them therefore is through the

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Unformatted text preview: f empirical intuition that specifically distinguishes it from other sensations) can never be known a priori, it can nonetheless be intensively distinguished from any of the same kind as a quantity of perception in any possible experience. That is what makes it possible to apply mathematics to nature as regards the sensory intuition through which nature is given to us. But pay special attention to the mode of proof of the principles that occur under Ÿthe title of ‘Analogies of Experience’. Unlike the principles of applied mathematics, these refer not to the genesis of intuitions but to how they are interconnected, as they actually occur, in experience; which can only be the determination of their existence in time according to necessary laws - laws that make the conditions objectively valid and thus create experience. So the proof of these principles doesn’t turn on connections amongst things in themselves but merely amongst perceptions; and it doesn’t involve the matter or content of the perceptions, but only how they are temporally related to one another according to universal laws. . . . In these preliminaries I can’t go on longer about this, except to say one thing to my reader. You have probably been long accustomed to regarding experience as a mere empirical hanging-together of perceptions, and so have not had the thought that it must go -----------------------------------5 Small areas of heat and light can be just as great in degree - ·that is, just as intense· - as large ones; similarly, brief pains or other states of consciousness can be equal in degree ·or intensity· to long-lasting ones. ·Where degrees of intensity are concerned·, the quantity at a point in space and at a moment in time can be just as great as in any space or time of whatever size or duration. So degrees are quantities, but what is quantified is not Ÿan intuition but rather Ÿthe mere sensation which is the intuition’s content. The only way to measure them, therefore, is through the relation of 1 to 0, that is. by their capability of decreasing by infinite intermediate degrees to disappearance, or of increasing from nothing through infinite gradations to a determinate sensation in a certain time. The quantity of a quality is a degree ·of intensity·. 37 much beyond them, conferring universal validity on empirical judgments and for that purpose requiring a pure and a priori unity of the understanding. So I recommend to you that you pay special attention to my distinction between experience and a mere aggregate of perceptions, and to judge the mode of proof from this point of view. Section 27 Now we have reached the place where Humean doubt can be removed. Hume rightly said that reason can’t give us insight into Ÿcausality, i.e. the notion that the existence of one thing might necessitate the existence of another. I add that we have equally little insight into the concept of Ÿsubstance, i.e. the notion that the existence of things must be based on a subject that cannot itself be a predicate of anything else. Indeed, we can form no concept of the possibility of such a thing, although we can point to examples of its use in experience. Nor have we any insight into Ÿcommunity, that is, into how substances that have their own entirely separate existences can necessarily depend on one another. None of these three concepts is supplied by reason, but they have - as I have shown - their seat in the understanding. These concepts and the principles drawn from them stand a priori before all experience; they are applicable only to experience, but within that domain they have undoubted objective rightness. That doctrine saves me from having to conclude that the concepts in question are borrowed from experience, which would mean that the necessity they involve is fictitious - a mere illusion resulting from long habit. Section 28 I cannot conceive how (a) things in themselves could Ÿexist as substances, or Ÿbe causes, or Ÿbe in community with others as parts of a real whole. Still less can I conceive how any of these could be true of (b) appearances considered as raw and unprocessed perceptions or sensory states, not brought under concepts of the understanding. But we can conceive of such connections of (c) representations in our understanding. These representations figure in one kind of judgment as Ÿsubject related to predicates, in a second kind as Ÿsource related to upshot, and in a third kind as Ÿparts that are inter-related to make up a knowable whole. We also know a priori that unless we take the representation of an object to be related in one of these ways, we can have no knowledge that would be valid of the object. Of course if we attend to the object in itself, we are lost: there is no possible way for me to recognize that a thing in itself is related in one of those ways, that is, that it belongs under the concept of Ÿsubstance or of Ÿcause or (in relation to other substances) under the concept of Ÿcommunity. But things in themselves are not my topic...
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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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