online: 24 may 2005

22 may 2005 Kant's method

21:23 Having selected a page by chance (page xxxiii of Patricia Kitcher's introduction to Werner Pluhar's 1996 translation of Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason) i find a welcome explanation of the basis of Kant's theory and of his special language.

...i feel that her explanation is opening a great door to a garden of thought not unfamiliar to me, as my own thoughts seem always to have been there, in that perceptual Eden, or in a similar garden (of unified theory) that resembles it...

23 may 2005 ...but now, having copied out and clarified these pencil notes re page xxxiii, can i quote or describe what it was that so inspired me?... I will try:

page xxxiii:

'Kant's method is to start with a 'presentation' [a thought about an object] of, for example, a body, and then to subtract the conceptual elements (such as the thought that bodies can resist force), and then to subtract those elements of the presentation that can be derived from the senses, such as colour and hardness. Whatever remains, if anything, would have to be the faculty of perception's own contribution to the presentation' [what Kant calls the a priori contribution of the mind to what it perceives as an object]

page xxxviii:

'Kant has argued that space and time are the a priori forms of human perception, meaning that the spatial and temporal properties of the objects we perceive do not derive from sensory data, but from our mind's own way of interpreting sensory data.'

So what is it in these quotations that so inspired and informed me?

-that Kant's difficult theory is the result of a discernible method

-that this method is not in itself difficult to understand

-that it depends upon introspection (as well as on observation)

-that it leads him (and us) to perceive and to think about everything in a unified, and not a reductionist, way.

-that his perceptions of perception, and of conception, are unified enough to evade the rigidity of reductionist dualistic theories

Perhaps there are other aspects that attract me but these are enough to open the door to understanding this supposedly most difficult book that i may at last be able to read (or at least sample) with sustainable grasp and enthusiasm.

I suspect that the difficulty, and also the fascination, of Kant's writing comes of him seeking always, despite the disintegrative and cumbersome nature of rational philosophy, to adhere to the whole, the indescribable...

[but am i perhaps catching his habit of unending abstractions?]

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