Kanti starts his thinking by asking three fundamental questions: (1) What can I know?, (2) What should I do and (3) What may I hope for? He tried to answer the first question in the Critique of Pure Reason, the second question in the Critique of Practical Reason, and the third question in the Critique of Judgment.
In his critical philosophy, Kantii wants to find a synthesis of knowledge; but, unlike the medieval saint, his basis was epistemological rather than metaphysical.
Kant’s purpose was, in the manner of reversing the tendency and the process of modern philosophy, to criticize the validity of knowledge itself, to examine its operations, and to determine its limits.
The philosophy before Kant had been emphasizing on the knowledge of the objects of the external world, but Kant lays the stress on cognition and the way objects are determined by our understanding.
Kantiii states that if we want to understand the nature of the universe, we must look at man's mind. Due to the human mind is still the subject to limitations, it cannot be an absolute key of reality.
Although the human mind cannot supply the content of experience, it can give us the forms in which we perceive it. Kantiv calls his philosophy transcendental viz. that he is concerned not so much about phenomena as with our a priori knowledge of them.
However he prefers to find out in what way our minds deal with the objects of the external world.
Above all, Kantv wants to set forth the a priori principles which are fundamental in any epistemological investigation.
Therefore, Kant’s theory of knowledge is based on this a priori principles and on the synthatical judgment.
Kantvi went into every aspect of all the relevant problems attempted by previous philosophers; and thus, Kant’s works are found as repetitions of all earlier attempts to solve these problems.
Kant's fundamental question concerning epistemology is: How are synthetical judgments a priori possible?
According to Kantvii, the solution of the above problem is comprehended at the same time toward the possibility of the use of pure reason in the foundation and construction of all sciences, which contain theoretical knowledge a priori of objects; and upon the solution of this problem, depends on the existence or downfall of the science of metaphysics.
Accordingly, a system of absolute, certain knowledge can be erected only on a foundation of judgments that are synthetical and acquired independently of all experiences.
By the use of simple illustrations, Kantviii shows that synthetic judgments a priori are fundamental in mathematics, physical science, and metaphysics.
For exampleix, in mathematics we say that three plus four is seven. How do we know this? It’s not by experience but by a priori knowledge.
Moreover, we express a necessity in this judgment; past knowledge has shown that three plus four is seven, but we assert that the same case must hold true for the future.
Kantx calls a judgment as synthetical where the concept of the predicate brings to the concept of the subject of something which lies completely outside the subject.
Although it stands in connection with the subject, however, in analytical judgment, the predicate merely expresses something which is already contained in the subject.
Kantxi claims that knowledge in the form of judgment can only be attained when the connection between predicate and subject is synthetical in this sense; and it demands that these judgments must be acquired a priori, that is independent of all experiences.
Two presuppositionsxii are thus found in Kant's formulation of the questions; first, is that we need other means of gaining knowledge besides experience, and second, is that all knowledge gained through experience is only approximately valid.
It does not occur to Kantxiii that the above principles need proof that is open to doubt and they are prejudices which he simply takes over from dogmatic philosophy and then uses them as the basis of his critical investigations.
He made the same assumptions and merely inquired under what conditions that they are valid or not valid.
Cohen and Stadler in Steiner R. attempted to prove that Kant has established a priori nature of mathematical and purely scientific principles.
Howeverxiv, Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason attempted to show that mathematics and pure natural science are a priori sciences, in which the form of all experiences must be inherent in the subject itself and the only thing left is the material of sensations.
Kantxv builds up the material of sensations into a system of experiences in the form of which is inherent in the subject. Kantxvi claims that the formal truths of a priori theories have meaning and significance only as principles which regulate the material of sensation and they make experience possible, but do not go further than experience.
Kantxvii concludes that these formal truths are the synthetical judgment a priori, and they must, as condition necessary for experience, extend as far as the experience itself.
The capital featurexviii in Kant's Criticism of the Judgment is that in his giving a representation and a name to the idea. Such a representationxix, as an intuitive understanding or an inner adaptation, suggests a universal which is at the same time apprehended as essentially a concrete unity.
The principlexx, by which the reflective faculty of judgment regulates and arranges the products of animated nature, is described as the End or final cause of the notion in action in which the universal at once determinates in itself.
According to Kantxxi, reason can know phenomena only, there would still have been an option for animated nature between two equally subjective modes of thought.
Even, according to Kant's own exposition, there would have been an obligation to admit, in the case of natural productions, a knowledge is not confined to the categories of quality, cause and effect, composition, constituents, and so on.
The principle of inward adaptation or designxxii had been kept to and carried out in scientific application and would have led to a different and higher method of observing nature.
Thus, Kant's epistemology did not seek to obtain knowledge of the object itself, but sought to clarify how objective truthfulness can be obtained. He names it the transcendental method.
For Kantxxiii, cognition is judgment. Judgment is made in terms of a proposition, and in a proposition there are subject and predicate.
Knowledge increases through a judgment, in which a new concept that is not contained in the subject appears in the predicate.
Kantxxiv calls such a judgment "synthetic judgment." In contrast, a judgment in which the concept of the predicate already contained in the concept of the subject is called "analytical judgment."; in the end, new knowledge can be obtained only through synthetic judgments.
Although new knowledgexxv can be obtained through synthetic judgment, it cannot become correct knowledge if it does not have universal validity.
In order knowledge to have universal validity, it should not be merely empirical knowledge, but should have some a priori element independent of experience.
In order a synthetic judgment to have universal validity, it must be an a priori cognition, namely, a priori synthetic judgment.
So, Kantxxvi had to cope with the question: How are a priori synthetic judgments possible?; and Kant solved this question in three fields: mathematics, physics, and metaphysics; and the three main divisions of the first part of the Critique deal respectively with these.
As for Kantxxvii, the central problem of his philosophy is the synthetic a priori knowledge or judgment; Kant beliefs that all knowledge are reducible to the forms of judgment. Knowledgexxviii is obtained by judgments.
There are two judgments.
First, synthetic judgments i.e. judgments which expand our knowledge of nature or analytic judgments i.e. mere explications or explanations of what we already know.
Second, a priori judgments i.e. knowledge which are universally and necessarily valid or a posteriori judgments i.e. judgments which are merely subjective and do not possess the apodeicticity.
Kantxxix advocates that de facto there are synthetic a priori judgments in arithmetic, geometry, physics and metaphysics.
These sciences are not only possible, but also actual as our universal and necessary knowledge.
According to Kantxxx, in its synthetic a priori form all the laws and knowledge of those sciences are explicitly stated; however, there are differences between the pure mathematics, pure natural sciences and metaphysics. Seeing the former, we can ask only how they are possible at all.
For we have evidencexxxi while in the latter, we must ask how synthetic a priori knowledge is possible at all.
How is pure mathematics possible? Kant claims it is possible because it is pure a priori intuition.
How is pure physics possible? He claims it is possible because there are categories.
How is metaphysics as natural faculty possible? He claims it is possible because there are concepts of reason.
How is metaphysics as a science possible? He claims it is possible as Practical Sciences.xxxii
i Mayer, F., 1951, “A History of Modern Philosophy”, California: American Book Company, p.294
ii Ibid. p.294
iii Mayer, F., 1951, “A History of Modern Philosophy”, California: American Book Company, p. 293
vi Steiner, R., 2004, “Truth and Knowledge: Kant’s Basic Epistemological Question”, The Rudolf Steiner Archive, Retreived 2004
viii Mayer, F., 1951, “A History of Modern Philosophy”, California: American Book Company, p.296
ix Ibid. p. 296
x Steiner, R., 1004, “Truth and Knowledge: Kant’s Basic Epistemological Question”, The Rudolf Steiner Archive, Retreived 2004
xi Kant, I., 1787, “The Critique of Pure Reason: Preface To The Second Edition”, Translated By J. M. D. Meiklejohn, Retrieved 2003
xii Steiner, R., 1004, “Truth and Knowledge: Kant’s Basic Epistemological Question”, The Rudolf Steiner Archive, Retreived 2004
xiv In Steiner, R., 2004, “Truth and Knowledge: Kant’s Basic Epistemological Question”, The Rudolf Steiner Archive, Retreived 2004
xviii Hegel, G.W.F, 1873, “The Critical Philosophy: from The Shorter Logic”, translated by William Wallace, Clarendon Press. Retrieved 2004
xx Hegel, G.W.F, 1873, “The Critical Philosophy: from The Shorter Logic”, translated by William Wallace, Clarendon Press. Retrieved 2004
xxiii Kant, I., 1787, “The Critique of Pure Reason: Preface To The Second Edition”, Translated By J. M. D. Meiklejohn, Retrieved 2003
xxix Kant, I., 1787, “The Critique of Pure Reason: Preface To The Second Edition”, Translated By J. M. D. Meiklejohn, Retrieved 2003