Nov 25, 2012

KANT'S EPISTEMOLOGICAL DUALISM




KANT'S EPISTEMOLOGICAL DUALISM
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By Marsigit, Yogyakarta State University, Indonesia

Email: marsigitina@yahoo.com

Kazlev, A.A., 2004, maintained that the German philosopher Immaneul Kant came to the conclusion that we can never really know the thing-in-itself which he called the noumenon; all we can known is our consciousness or experience of this noumenon that is the phenomenon. Prior to Kant, as it was noted by Robinson, H., 2003, Descartes' conception of a dualism of substance came under attack from the more radical empiricists, who found it difficult to attach sense to the concept of substance at all and Locke, as a moderate empiricist, accepted that there were both material and immaterial substances; while Berkeley famously rejected material substance, because he rejected all existence outside the mind. Robinson propounded that Berkeley decided that the self was essential for an adequate understanding of the human person; although the self and its acts are not presented to consciousness as objects of awareness, we are obliquely aware of them simply by dint of being active subjects.

Robinson t H., 2003, then indicated that Hume rejected such claims and proclaimed the self to be nothing more than a concatenation of its ephemeral contents. He persisted that Hume criticized the whole conception of substance for lacking in empirical content by stating that when you search for the owner of the properties that make up a substance, you find nothing but further properties. Consequently, the mind is, Hume claimed, nothing but a bundle or heap of impressions and ideas is that of particular mental states or events, without an owner. This position has been labelled  as bundle dualism in which Humean is to explain what binds the elements in the bundle together. Poortman, J.J., 2004, designated that various kinds of dualism are distinguished based on if and how mind and matter are thought to casually interact.

Bushnell, T., 2004, contended that Kant offers a sort of dualism between things as they are in themselves and things as they appear to be.  This dualism is very different from the more familiar sort of dualism from Plato or Descartes. He specified that the key to understand Kant’s dualism is his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals; unlike Plato, Kant’s noumenal world is marked off as beyond the limits of human understanding and based upon agnosticism. Kant  proposed that we call whatever is underlying a thing of experience, what contains the ground of it that is we should call this the thing in itself, means that the thing as it is independent of our experience of it. Kant  does not state or imply that the thing in itself is all that we should be concerned with. For Kant  the dualism must not be ontological, because our total ignorance of the truth of the matter concerning the noumena extends to their ontological status. We know nothing of their being, except that they are whatever underlies the things we do see and experience and understand. 

Bushnell, T., 2004, set forth that Kant saw himself firmly chained in, and proposes that no philosopher can be freed and look outside; his noumena are nothing but his name for "whatever lies behind the shadows on the wall".  Kant  does not pretend to see further outside than anyone else; Kant does not label the shadows insubstantial, unimportant, or use other pejorative terms. Bushnell suggested that we must even remain in doubt about whether the noumena exist at all, because we cannot say anything about the noumena, we cannot even say that they are; Kant believes that reason resides only in the noumena, and this seems to be a contradiction with the agnostic view about noumena that Kant truly holds. Kant  claimed that reason is therefore a different way of viewing a human brain from a recounting of its physical and biological causes. We can view the thinking brain as following laws of physics, in which case we don't see any reason per se in it.

Bushnell, T., 2004, elaborated that we can conceive of the thinking brain as following laws of reason, but we are unable to prove this, or even point to particular experiences that would substantiate it.  These two standpoints are not opposed to each other, nor are they causally related.  They are two different ways of viewing the same events, one by supposing "reason" in the brain, and another by viewing the brain as a physical process. In a similar way, will, freedom, ethical merit, and other such intentional terms are all
noumenal concepts.  For the sort of reasons that Hume gives, they are not phenomena.  And so, if they are real, they must reside in a noumenal version of the world. Does this damage the agnostic stance that is the very foundation of this dualism?  It does not, because in affirming the possibility of noumena we are not arguing positively for their existence or nature, but merely saying that if certain things are there at all, they are conceivable only by supposing they lie in things in themselves, and not in appearance--for the simple reason that we do not see them. But if they do exist, they therefore play a role in grounding phenomena.  As long as we remember the hypothetical nature of the construction we can point out the way a given hypothetical noumenal characteristic might ground others and might relate to phenomena of other things. 

Further, Bushnell, T., 2004, designated that it is finally important to note carefully that noumena are not to be understood as souls or minds.  First, human beings are not unique in having noumena.  Tables and chairs also have noumena.  Everything that we perceive, has a noumena.  The noumenon of a thing is nothing more than whatever underlies what we do see. A mind, according to Kant,  is certainly not transparent the way it is for Descartes; some of our mind is accessible to my perception and that part is phenomenal, and whatever underlies it is noumenal.  Kant  said that to boot, our body can also be considered as a noumenal thing, just as our mind can; whether the noumenal component of my mind is one with the noumenal component of my body is unknown. Bushnell said that a coherent agnosticism about Kantian noumenal properties of mind in which with this over-hasty description of our understanding of the relation between Kantian noumena and phenomena, I propose now to explore how its agnostic component functions in more detail, and how this relates to Kant's ethical foundations. Bushnell, contended that Kant takes effort to link together some properties of rational beings, by identifying various things as in some way tied to or based upon reason. He said that Kant's attempts to do so are occasionally flawed in technique, but absolutely correct in result.  Truly all these properties are so linked and the capacity to make choices is directly linked to reason. To make a decision is to have, before or after the fact, some kind of rational or rationalistic basis for the action.  To choose is to follow, imperfectly or not, honestly or not, one's reason.  To explain a choice is precisely to offer reasons for it; to refuse to offer reasons casts doubt on whether one chose at all. 

Ziniewicz, G.L., 1996 indicated that Kant saves man's moral freedom and dignity at the expense of alienating personality from empirical ego and the subject from the world as it really is; the world as it really is and the self as it really is are outside of experience. Ziniewicz, stated that if one follows Kant, what happens to the possibility of knowing things, persons, even oneself as they really are? What are some of the possible consequences of this view? He then clarified that Kant overcomes this dualism with a new dualism that is  the dualism of reality and appearance. According to Kant,  there is a difference between the way things are in themselves (reality) and the way things appear to us. Accordingly, we cannot know things as they really are in themselves (noumena); and we only know them as appearances (phenomena). According to Kant,  knowledge is not the transparent viewing of "bare facts."; the mind is not a window, through which objects pass unaltered, rather, knowledge is the making of a product. Kant claimed that the mind converts the raw material of beings as they are into the finished product of objects, or beings as they are for us in perception and knowledge; to know is to reconstruct and to interpret reality; knowledge is objective interpretation of reality, but it is not reality itself. According to Kant,  human knowledge is a process that includes both sensibility (perception) and understanding (conception).

Note:

  Bushnell, T., 2004, Kant’s Moral Philosophy, http://www.google.search
  Ibid.
  Ibid.
  Ibid.
  Ibid.
  Ibid.
  Ibid
  Ziniewicz, G.L., 1996 Kant: How Do We Know That We Know What We Know:
http://www.fred.net/tzaka/phil.htm
  Ibid.
  Ibid.

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