Nov 25, 2012
KANT'S TRANSCENDENTAL DIALECTIC
KANT'S TRANSCENDENTAL DIALECTIC
By Marsigit, Yogyakarta State University, Indonesia
McCormick, M., 2004, explained that the discussion of Kant's metaphysics and epistemology as well as the Analytic of Principles, has been confined primarily to the section of the Critique of Pure Reason that Kant calls the Transcendental Analytic; and the purpose of the Analytic is the attempted dissection of the power of the understanding itself. He noted that the Transcendental Dialectic section of the book is devoted to uncovering the illusion of knowledge created by transcendent judgments and explaining why the temptation to believe them persists. According to him, Kant argues that the proper functioning of the faculties of sensibility and the understanding combine to draw reason, or the cognitive power of inference, inexorably into mistakes; the faculty of reason naturally seeks the highest ground of unconditional unity. It seeks to unify and subsume all particular experiences under higher and higher principles of knowledge; however, sensibility cannot by its nature provide the intuitions that would make knowledge of the highest principles and of things as they are in themselves possible. McCormick then noted that nevertheless, reason, in its function as the faculty of inference, inevitably draws conclusions about what lies beyond the boundaries of sensibility; the unfolding of this conflict between the faculties reveals more about the mind's relationship to the world it seeks to know and the possibility of a science of metaphysics.
Transcendental Logic in the Critic of Pure Reason
Mellway, J., 2004, noted that Kant is using the structure of general logic as the basis for the structure of the First Critique as Kant is trying to give metaphysics the secure path of science that traditional logic has. He believes that Aristotelian logic has followed that secure path from its inception and that the security of that path had not wavered, such that the only changes were merely improving the elegance of logic; logic had not only stayed the same in the past, but it also appears to be complete and closed off to any further change . Accordingly, if Kant can take from the structure of logic that which makes it secure and construct an analogous structure for metaphysics, then there seems to be the possibility that metaphysics can be secure as well. Mellway noted Kant that logic has the feature that it does not deal with the matter of the science, but only deals with itself and the form of our understanding; essentially, the difference is that logic does not deal with objects as such, beyond providing a preparation for discussing objects. He then insisted that if we can form a critique of pure reason, which looks at the form of our understanding concerning metaphysics, then a secure path for metaphysics may be constructed; that is, we regard truth in metaphysics as pertaining to formal understanding of objects and not the objects themselves
Mellway, J., 2004, indicated that the term ‘transcendental’ had traditionally meant ‘beyond the categories’ in the sense the terms such as ‘being’, ‘truth’, ‘one’, ‘unity’, and ‘beauty’ are predicable of everything and yet are not part of the categories. He further explained that the transcendental analogy allows us to go beyond Aristotelian categories by regarding categories of the mind as being different from, and more general than, the Aristotelian categories as they are concerned with our cognition of objects and not concerned of the objects themselves. Instead of using the term ‘transcendental’ for the terms that are not in the categories, Kant calls transcendental "all cognition that deals not so much with objects as rather with our way of cognizing objects in general insofar as that way of cognizing is to be possible a priori". Kant elaborated the idea of transcendental logic in the second part of “Transcendental Doctrine of The Elements” of the “Critique of Pure Reason”. In this part, there are four sub topic: Logic in General, Transcendental Logic, Division of General Logic into Analytic and Dialectic, and Division of Transcendental Logic into Transcendental Analytic and Dialectic.
According to Kant,1787, there are two types of logic: Logic in general: contains absolutely necessary rules of thought, that is the logic of elements; and logic of the special employment of the understanding: contains rules of correct thinking about certain kinds of objects, that is the logic of a particular science. General logic covers: pure, an abstracts from all empirical conditions, hence it deals with mere forms of thought; and applied: an understanding under subjective empirical conditions. Kant characterized transcendental logic as not an abstract from the entire content of knowledge; it excludes only those modes of knowledge which have empirical content; it treats the origin of modes in which we know objects. Further, Kant claimed that not every kind of knowledge a priori should be called transcendental ; only that by which we know that certain representations can be employed or are possible a priori; and space is the knowledge that the representations are not empirical is. Kant noted that the distinction between transcendental and empirical belongs only to the critique of knowledge, not to the relation of that knowledge to its objects.
Mellway, J., 2004, exposed that general logic is, then, the self-cognition of the formal use of understanding and of reason in general, while a critique of pure reason is the self-cognition of the formal use of pure understanding and of pure reason. The material use of the understanding and of reason is science in general, and the material use of pure understanding and of pure reason is the science of metaphysics in which general logic and a critique of pure reason both act as a propaedeutic for the sciences as they provide the necessary conditions of the form for the matter of the science. Since a propaedeutic provides a necessary condition for its associated science, it tells us not only if that science is possible, but also tells us how that science is structured. In his elaboration of the question “What is truth?”, and in relation to the division of logic into analytic and dialectic, Kant perceived truth as agreement of knowledge with its object; the general criterion is it must be valid in each and every instance regardless of how objects vary (i.e. in their relations) since truth concerns this very content, a sufficient and general criterion cannot be given. Further, he perceived the truth as regards knowledge in respect of its mere form and the logic will furnish criteria of truth however we cannot establish truth in relation to objects. According to Kant, the general logic, analytic - least negative, resolves formal procedures; it exhibits them as principals of logical criticism of knowledge and must be applied to the form of all knowledge before we proceed to determine if its content contains truth. Therefore, it is necessary but not sufficient to establish objective truth.
In term of the division of transcendental logic into transcendental analytic and dialectic, Kant perceived that transcendental analytic has two aspects: that part of transcendental logic which deals with elements of pure knowledge yielded by understanding and that the principles without which no object can be thought. On the other hand, he also perceived that in transcendental dialectic, it may happened a misuse of transcendental analytic and dialectic illusion. Ross, K.L., 1996-2003, elaborated that the "Dialectic" is concerned with the fallacies produced when metaphysics is extended beyond possible experience; while the "Analytic," about secure metaphysics, is divided into the "Analytic of Concepts" and the "Analytic of Principles." He, further added that "Principles" would be Principia in Latin, i.e. "beginnings," "first things," "first principles," where now in English, thanks to the drift in the meaning of "principle," the term must be reduplicated with an etymologically redundant "first." Kant, however, is here writing in German, and in place of Principia we have Grundsätze (singular Grundsatz, "principle," "axiom" -- literally "ground sentence"). The examination of the Grundsätze, however, is deferred until after and "Analytic of Concepts." Thus, were the Problem of First Principles to be raised, it seems like that would come after an examination of concepts. Since it is not raised at all, one is left with the impression that it has somehow, along the way, actually already been dealt with.
Dialectical Inferences of Pure Reason
Paralogisms of Pure Reason
McCormick, M., 2004, indicated that Kant believes with Aristotle's logic of the syllogism captures the logic employed by reason; the resulting mistakes from the inevitable conflict between sensibility and reason reflect the logic of Aristotle's syllogism. In the Paralogisms, Kant argued that a failure to recognize the difference between appearances and things in themselves, particularly in the case of the introspected self, lead us into transcendent error. Kant argued against Descartes and the rational psychologists, who believed they could build human knowledge from the "I think" of the cogito argument. From the Descartes’ "I think", it can be inferred that the self or soul is 1) simple, 2) immaterial, 3) an identical substance and 4) that the knowledge of the self is transcendentally real. Kant set fourth that it is impossible to demonstrate any of these four claims, and that the mistaken claims to knowledge stem from a failure to see the real nature of our apprehension of the "I."
Kant pointed out that reason cannot fail to apply the categories to its judgments of the self, and that application gives rise to these four conclusions about the self that correspond roughly to the four headings in the table of categories. But to take the self as an object of knowledge here is to pretend to have knowledge of the self as it is in itself, not as it appears to us. Our representation of the "I" itself is empty. It is subject to the condition of inner sense, time, but not the condition of outer sense, space, so it cannot be a proper object of knowledge. It can be thought through concepts, but without the commensurate spatial and temporal intuitions, it cannot be known. Each of the four paralogisms explains the categorical structure of reason that led the rational psychologists to mistake the self as it appears to us for the self as it is in itself (McCormick, M., 2004)
Antinomy of Pure Reason
McCormick, M., 2004, specified that, in Antinomies, Kant analyzed the methodological problems of the Rationalist project; Kant pointed out that Antinomies is the unresolved dialogue between skepticism and dogmatism about knowledge of the world. From Kant, there are four antinomies, again corresponding to the four headings of the table of categories that are generated by reason's attempts to achieve complete knowledge of the realm beyond the empirical; each antinomy has a thesis and an antithesis, both of which can be validly proven, and since each makes a claim that is beyond the grasp of spatiotemporal sensation, neither can be confirmed or denied by experience. McCormick, revealed that Kant claims that antinomies like this one reveal fundamental methodological and metaphysical mistakes in the rationalist project; the contradictory claims could both be proven because they both shared the mistaken metaphysical assumption that we can have knowledge of things as they are in themselves, independent of the conditions of our experience of them. McCormick, insisted that, according to Kant, the Antinomies can be resolved if we understand the proper function and domain of the various faculties that contribute to produce knowledge; we must recognize that we cannot know things as they are in themselves and that our knowledge is subject to the conditions of our experience. Kant, as it was pointed out by McCormick, claimed that the Rationalist project was doomed to failure because it did not take note of the contribution that our faculty of reason makes to our experience of objects; their a priori analysis of our ideas could inform us about the content of our ideas, but it could not give a coherent demonstration of metaphysical truths about the external world, the self, the soul, God, and so on.
McCormick, M., 2004, designated that Kant’s First Antinomy argues both that the world has a beginning in time and space, and no beginning in time and space. The Second Antinomy's argued that every composite substance is made of simple parts and that nothing is composed of simple parts; the Third Antinomy's argued that agents like ourselves have freedom and its antithesis is that they do not; and the Fourth Antinomy contains arguments both for and against the existence of a necessary being in the world. The seemingly irreconcilable claims of the Antinomies can only be resolved by seeing them as the product of the conflict of the faculties and by recognizing the proper sphere of our knowledge in each case. The result of Kant' analysis of the Antinomies is that we can reject both claims of the first two and accept both claims of the last two, if we understand their proper domains. In the first Antinomy, the world as it appears to us is neither finite since we can always inquire about its beginning or end, nor is it infinite because finite beings like ourselves cannot cognize an infinite whole. As an empirical object, Kant argues, it is indefinitely constructible for our minds. As it is in itself, independent of the conditions of our thought, should not be identified as finite or infinite since both are categorical conditions of our thought. Kant's resolution of the third Antinomy clarifies his position on freedom; he considers the two competing hypotheses of speculative metaphysics that there are different types of causality in the world: 1) there are natural causes which are themselves governed by the laws of nature as well as uncaused causes like ourselves that can act freely, or 2) the causal laws of nature entirely govern the world including our actions. The conflict between these contrary claims can be resolved, Kant argues, by taking his critical turn and recognizing that it is impossible for any cause to be thought of as uncaused itself in the realm of space and time. But reason, in trying to understand the ground of all things, strives to unify its knowledge beyond the empirical realm. The empirical world, considered by itself, cannot provide us with ultimate reasons; so if we do not assume a first or free cause we cannot completely explain causal series in the world; and so for the Third Antinomy, as for all of the Antinomies, the domain of the Thesis is the intellectual, rational, noumenal world. The domain of the Antithesis is the spatiotemporal world.
Kant's Antinomies are intended to show that contradictory metaphysical absolutes can be argued and justified with equal force, meaning that neither can actually be proven. Kant's
Antinomy of Space and Time is the first of Kant’s four Antinomies, explicitly showed as the following:
The world has a beginning in time, and is also limited as regards space.
If we assume that the world has no beginning in time, then up to every given moment an eternity has elapsed, and there has passed away in that world an infinite series of successive states of things. Now the infinity of a series consists in the fact that it can never be completed through successive synthesis. It thus follows that it is impossible for an infinite world-series to have passed away, and that a beginning of the world is therefore a necessary condition of the world's existence. This was the first point that called for proof. As regards the second point, let us again assume the opposite, namely, that the world is an infinite given whole of co-existing things. Now the magnitude of a quantum which is not given in intuition [i.e. perception] as within certain limits, can be thought only through the synthesis of its parts, and the totality of such a quantum only through a synthesis that is brought to completion through repeated addition of unit to unit. In order, therefore, to think, as a whole, the world which fills all spaces, the successive synthesis of the parts of an infinite world must be viewed as completed, that is, an infinite time must be viewed as having elapsed in the enumeration of all co-existing things. This, however, is impossible. An infinite aggregate of actual things cannot therefore be viewed as a given whole, nor consequently as simultaneously given. The world is, therefore, as regards extension in space, not infinite, but is enclosed within limits. This was the second point in dispute.
The world has no beginning, and no limits in space; it is infinite as regards both time and space.
For let us assume that it has a beginning. Since the beginning is an existence which is preceded by a time in which the thing is not, there must have been a preceding time in which the world was not, i.e. an empty time. Now no coming to be of a thing is possible in an empty time, because no part of such a time possesses, as compared with any other, a distinguishing condition of existence rather than of non-existence; and this applies whether the thing is supposed to arise of itself or through some other cause. In the world many series of things can, indeed, begin; but the world itself cannot have a beginning, and is therefore infinite in respect of past time. As regards the second point, let us start by assuming the opposite, namely, that the world in space is finite and limited, and consequently exists in an empty space which is unlimited. Things will therefore not only be related in space but also related to space. Now since the world is an absolute whole beyond which there is no object of intuition, and therefore no correlate with which the world stands in relation, the relation of the world to empty space would be a relation of it to no object. But such a relation, and consequently the limitation of the world by empty space, is nothing. The world cannot, therefore, be limited in space; that is, it is infinite in respect of extension.
Source: Ross, K.L., 2001
Ideal of Pure Reason
Sellars, W., 1976, set forth Kant description that everything intuited in space and time, and therefore all objects of any experience possible to us, are nothing but appearances, that is, mere representations which, in the manner in which they are represented, as extended beings or as series of alterations, have no independent existence outside our thoughts. According to him, Kant mobilized the position which he calls 'transcendental idealism' to resolve the antinomies and called his idealism 'transcendental' in order to indicate that it enables him to account for the existence of synthetic a priori knowledge concerning objects in space and time. Kant propounded that it is no use for the term 'transcendental realism,' because could have no such knowledge of spatio-temporal objects if they were things themselves. Sellars specified that for Kant, the refutation of idealism which was added in the second edition is not only compatible with the teachings of the first, but is implied by them. He maintained that Kant’s answer to the question "What is an object of representations?" is central to the contrast he draws between his idealism and the idealisms he calls 'dogmatic' and 'problematic.' According to Kant, we must give full credence to such paradoxical but correct proposition, that there is nothing in space save what is represented in it; for space is itself nothing but representation, and whatever is in it must therefore he contained in the representation, nothing whatsoever is in space, save insofar as it is actually represented in it. Sellars, noted that it is a proposition which must indeed sound strange, that a thing can exist only in the representation of it, but in this case the objection falls, in as much as the things with which we are concerned are not things themselves, but appearances only, that is, representations.
According to Sellars, W., 1976, Kant did not use the contrast between existence 'inside' or 'outside' of thoughts, but treated the relevant sense of 'representation' as equivalent to 'thought’. Intuitions, in the relevant sense, are a species of thought and that appearances are mere kinds of representation and not to be met with save in us. Mental acts which are intuited are not judgments but they are nevertheless thoughts. According to him, Kant includes sensations as well as intuitions as representations; a sensation however is a mere modification of the mind whereas an intuition is an ''erkenntnis". According to Kant, intuition of a manifold as it is contrasted with a sheer manifold of intuition is an 'erkenntnis' which presents as much as does an Aristotelian 'phantasm'; intuitions of manifolds contain the very categories which can be found in the general concepts which we apply to these intuitions. Sellars, W., 1976, further persisted that it is essential to see that intuition is a species of thought, for any sense-datum like approach makes essential features of Kant's theory of knowledge unintelligible, for example the Schematism. Thus the categories apply to intuitions, because, although the content of sensations does not contain the categories, the content of intuitions does and this is the point of Kant's problem about homogeneity and of his solution. For Kant, an act of intuiting a manifold is a thinking of thing in itself in space or time. The thing in itself is something that exists 'in' the act and therefore it requires a distinction between actuality and existence per se.
Sellars, W., 1976 insisted that Kant denies that material things and processes exist per se, but he holds that in the critical sense they can be actual as contents which make an essential contribution to the explanation of the patterns in which perceptual experiences occur; however, the deeper thrust of Kant's transcendental idealism is the thesis that the core of the knowable self is the self as perceiver of material things and events. He noted Kant that if it is relatively easy to see that the distinction between actual and non-actual material things and events is tied to the concept of an actual sequence of perceptual takings, it has proved less easy to see that the distinction between actual and non-actual sequences of perceptual takings that is between perceptual takings which are correctly and those which are incorrectly taken to have occurred in one's mental history, is tied to the concept of actual material things and events. According to him, Kant saw that the concept of an object of perception contains a reference to the perceptual takings which are the criteria for its actuality; Kant also saw that the concept of a perceptual taking, as the taking of an object, contains a reference to material things and events which, if actual, would imply its own actuality; the actuality of perceptual takings and the actuality of material things and processes are not logically independent. And since, for Kant, the concept of matter-of-factual truth concerns the agreement of what we represent with what is, in the critical sense, actual, rather than, as traditionally with what exists per se, he can pay his respects to what he calls "the nominal definition of truth" while giving it a radically new interpretation.
Mellway, J., 2004, The Form of Experience: The Transcendental Analogy, University Course Essay
Kant, I., 1787, Critic of Pure Reason: The Elements Of Transcendentalism First Part, Transcendental Aesthetic, translated by by F. Max Muller
Mellway, J., 2004, The Form of Experience: The Transcendental Analogy, University Course Essay
McCormick, M., 2004, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804): Metaphysics, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sellars, W., 1976, Kant's Transcendental Idealism, Collections of Philosophy 6 (1976): 165-181