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  1. #1
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Default Kant's Transcendental Analytic

    @Nocapszy

    Very recently on this forum I have been ordered to leave (I assume) Typology Central based on a thread I created devoted to correcting incorrect Facebook memes. The thread was properly posted to the Fluff forum, so there is literally no rule being broken or any kind of forum faux pas being committed. And I happen to find the topic personally amusing.

    But since that harmless fluff thread is somehow offense to apparently intellectually sensitive, highly intelligent, and extremely sensible individuals here, I decided to bump up the difficulty in the conversation.

    I wish to discuss - seriously, without fluff or insults - the following statement from Robert Wolff, author of Kant's Theory of Mental Activity (1963) -

    "It turned out that Kant had known exactly what he was doing all along, and that when he claimed to have answered Hume's sceptical doubts, he was perfectly correct. The Analytic could now be seen as a proof of the law of causality. It did not assume the existence of knowledge merely in order to explain how such knowledge was possible, as many commentators have supposed. Instead, it offered a demonstration that from the mere fact of my being conscious, I could infer the validity of the highest.principles of science."

    There have indeed been many commentators who have accused Kant of circular argumentation in the Transcendental Analytic (see, Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason [1781,1787]), by his allegedly assuming that humans already have knowledge of causality, and the only issue is to show how such knowledge is possible.

    There is some - albeit slight - cause to believe this was Kant's goal in the Transcendental Analytic. Kant did indeed concern himself with possibilities, not particular empirical possibilities such as the possibility that the moon shall some day completely exit its orbit with the Earth, but the possibility of empirical experience itself, in general and not in particular. Empirical experience is made possible via the existence of laws of reality (e.g., causality), without which humans would have no consciousness (experience) of either "appearances" or even of a self that experiences. Or as Kant would say, there would be as many experiences as there are things experienced, and consciousness would consist of a chaos of sensory impressions. The very fact that humans do not experience a chaos of sensory impressions proves that causality exists as a law of nature (or as Kant would put it, a law of experience).
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  2. #2
    no clinkz 'til brooklyn Nocapszy's Avatar
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    LOL
    we fukin won boys

  3. #3
    Theta Male Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal12345 View Post
    @Nocapszy

    Very recently on this forum I have been ordered to leave (I assume) Typology Central based on a thread I created devoted to correcting incorrect Facebook memes. The thread was properly posted to the Fluff forum, so there is literally no rule being broken or any kind of forum faux pas being committed. And I happen to find the topic personally amusing.

    But since that harmless fluff thread is somehow offense to apparently intellectually sensitive, highly intelligent, and extremely sensible individuals here, I decided to bump up the difficulty in the conversation.

    I wish to discuss - seriously, without fluff or insults - the following statement from Robert Wolff, author of Theory of Mental Activity (1963) -

    "It turned out that Kant had known exactly what he was doing all along, and that when he claimed to have answered Hume's sceptical doubts, he was perfectly correct. The Analytic could now be seen as a proof of the law of causality. It did not assume the existence of knowledge merely in order to explain how such knowledge was possible, as many commentators have supposed. Instead, it offered a demonstration that from the mere fact of my being conscious, I could infer the validity of the highest.principles of science."

    There have indeed been many commentators who have accused Kant of circular argumentation in the Transcendental Analytic (see, Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason [1781,1787]), by his allegedly assuming that humans already have knowledge of causality, and the only issue is to show how such knowledge is possible.

    There is some - albeit slight - cause to believe this was Kant's goal in the Transcendental Analytic. Kant did indeed concern himself with possibilities, not particular empirical possibilities such as the possibility that the moon shall some day completely exit its orbit with the Earth, but the possibility of empirical experience itself, in general and not in particular. Empirical experience is made possible via the existence of laws of reality (e.g., causality), without which humans would have no consciousness (experience) of either "appearances" or even of a self that experiences. Or as Kant would say, there would be as many experiences as there are things experienced, and consciousness would consist of a chaos of sensory impressions. The very fact that humans do not experience a chaos of sensory impressions proves that causality exists as a law of nature (or as Kant would put it, a law of experience).
    Haven't gotten around to sampling Kant, yet. But... humans seem quite capable of generalizing and forming concepts, and I do believe that the only sane way to act in the world is with a belief that some kind of objective reality exists. Collapsing this all to meta-narratives is foolish, and not even that progressive, because what stops a right-wing meta-narrative from having just as much validity as a feminist one?

    I think at one time post-structuralism was valid, but I think people have gone overboard with it now. If my opinion as a white male is invalid simply because of the fact that I am a white male (and not because of the actual contents of my opinions), then why are you even talking to me? Is the idea that I'm just supposed to pretend to agree? How are you changing the discourse? You're just feeding into a reactionary one.
    [Trump's] rhetoric is not an abuse of power. In the same way that it's also not against the law to do a backflip off of the roof of your house onto your concrete driveway. It's just mind-numbingly stupid and, to say the least, counterproductive. - Bush did 9-11


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  4. #4
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    Haven't gotten around to sampling Kant, yet. But... humans seem quite capable of generalizing and forming concepts, and I do believe that the only sane way to act in the world is with a belief that some kind of objective reality exists. Collapsing this all to meta-narratives is foolish, and not even that progressive, because what stops a right-wing meta-narrative from having just as much validity as a feminist one?
    Nothing, particularly when you have feminist authors engaging in a "meta-narrative" that implicitly bashes males in terms of masculine stereotypes. But yes there's no way to escape the need for concepts when discussing concepts when discussing concepts... And all it comes down to is a facade for anti-Western rhetoric which itself can be deconstructed either sociologically or psychologically (e.g., penis envy). How is this masculine deconstruction superior to a feminine one? It's not, it's all about the same power struggle.

    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    I think at one time post-structuralism was valid, but I think people have gone overboard with it now. If my opinion as a white male is invalid simply because of the fact that I am a white male (and not because of the actual contents of my opinions), then why are you even talking to me? Is the idea that I'm just supposed to pretend to agree? How are you changing the discourse? You're just feeding into a reactionary one.
    Ayn Rand, who was no deconstructionist by any means (but in most ways fed into the male-dominated value-system, e.g. "A man is defined in relationship to the universe, a woman is defined in relationship to a man"), refused to discuss anything with "irrational mystics." In your terms, she refused to feed into any "reactionary" viewpoint.

    Deconstructionism not withstanding, anybody who discusses 20th- or 21st-century philosophy does so in the context of Immanuel Kant.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  5. #5
    Theta Male Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal12345 View Post

    Ayn Rand, who was no deconstructionist by any means (but in most ways fed into the male-dominated value-system, e.g. "A man is defined in relationship to the universe, a woman is defined in relationship to a man"), refused to discuss anything with "irrational mystics." In your terms, she refused to feed into any "reactionary" viewpoint.

    Deconstructionism not withstanding, anybody who discusses 20th- or 21st-century philosophy does so in the context of Immanuel Kant.
    Nice try, but....

    I've read a little bit. I actually found some stuff I liked. I liked the stuff about individualism, although I do not agree with her conclusions about enacting this on a social or political sphere. But I don't think she was wrong on everything.... that is... I think the individual counts for something. (She didn't have nice things to say about religion, but that doesn't stop U.S. evangelicals from gobbling her up.) I find Nietzsche interesting for the same reasons. Essentially, as I see it, the superego and the id are symbolic of the dichotomy between the world and the self. I think both of them provide us with important information for the satisfying life. I think, rather than privileging the superego at the expense of the id, or the id at the expense of the superego, one should strive for a balance between them. A life devoted only to the pursuit of "pleasure" becomes hollow, but a life devoted only to others makes you a slave.

    If you think about the most important thing in life being one's own satisfaction, that's something I would agree with Rand on. But... I would define satisfaction differently. Sometimes what is satisfying is being selfless, and striving for honesty and fairness, though it may not provide tangible benefits, can also be satisfying.
    [Trump's] rhetoric is not an abuse of power. In the same way that it's also not against the law to do a backflip off of the roof of your house onto your concrete driveway. It's just mind-numbingly stupid and, to say the least, counterproductive. - Bush did 9-11


    This is not going to go the way you think....

    Visit my Johari:
    http://kevan.org/johari?name=Birddude78

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    Nice try, but....

    I've read a little bit. I actually found some stuff I liked. I liked the stuff about individualism, although I do not agree with her conclusions about enacting this on a social or political sphere. But I don't think she was wrong on everything.... that is... I think the individual counts for something. (She didn't have nice things to say about religion, but that doesn't stop U.S. evangelicals from gobbling her up.) I find Nietzsche interesting for the same reasons. Essentially, as I see it, the superego and the id are symbolic of the dichotomy between the world and the self. I think both of them provide us with important information for the satisfying life. I think, rather than privileging the superego at the expense of the id, or the id at the expense of the superego, one should strive for a balance between them. A life devoted only to the pursuit of "pleasure" becomes hollow, but a life devoted only to others makes you a slave.

    If you think about the most important thing in life being one's own satisfaction, that's something I would agree with Rand on. But... I would define satisfaction differently. Sometimes what is satisfying is being selfless, and striving for honesty and fairness, though it may not provide tangible benefits, can also be satisfying.
    I'm not getting the context of "nice try but..." I just added the Rand stuff in contrast to your statement, "If my opinion as a white male is invalid simply because of the fact that I am a white male (and not because of the actual contents of my opinions), then why are you even talking to me? Is the idea that I'm just supposed to pretend to agree? How are you changing the discourse? You're just feeding into a reactionary one."
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  7. #7
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    After his preface to Kant's Theory of Mental Activity, Wolff begins his treatise thusly:

    The Critique of Pure Reason is usually introduced to the student
    in one of two ways. The most direct method is simply to open
    the book and begin explaining the Prefaces and Introduction.
    Alternatively, the Critique can be set in its historical perspective,
    and the disputes among previous philosophers, as well as the progression
    of thought in Kant's own earlier works, briefly traced.
    If we choose the former, we run immediately into a very serious
    difficulty. Kant asserts in the Introduction [B 19] that his work is
    an attempt to answer the question, "How are synthetic judgments
    a priori possible?" In the Prolegomena, intended as a summary and
    introduction to the Critique, he repeats this formulation. Yet Kant
    gives the reader little or no explanation of the problem before
    plunging into the technicalities of the Transcendental Aesthetic.

    This is certainly true, thus in my experience philosophy professors begin by placing Kant into historical context. They may not do so in a complete fashion if they neglect to explain the affect of Swedenborg on Kant's thinking, but they would do well to mention David Hume from whom Kant gained and then conceptualized the analytic-synthetic distinction.

    Hume himself did not use any such terms as "analytic-synthetic." This concept is implied in the discourse found in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding [1748], in which Hume denied any necessary connection in experience and substituted for it a "constant conjunction" of experiences that lead to the mere habit or belief in causality or of a conjoined experience - in simpler terms, of a world that makes sense to us.

    If experience is not a synthesis of experiences in one understanding, but as Hume asserted, a mere constant conjunction which, when analyzed, boils down to a skeptical view of science and reason, then it is not in fact possible for Hume to prove the truth of his assertion, since truth is, by its very nature, beyond any skeptic's criticism.

    But this isn't Kant's argument. In the Transcendental Analytic Immanuel Kant takes Hume directly to task. According to one Kant commentator, the Analytic provides a dazzling display of reasoning in which one philosopher directly responds to and takes down another philosopher's idea.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  8. #8
    Theta Male Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal12345 View Post
    I'm not getting the context of "nice try but..." I just added the Rand stuff in contrast to your statement, "If my opinion as a white male is invalid simply because of the fact that I am a white male (and not because of the actual contents of my opinions), then why are you even talking to me? Is the idea that I'm just supposed to pretend to agree? How are you changing the discourse? You're just feeding into a reactionary one."
    Oh, to me it seemed like you were expecting some kind of reaction from me when you brought up Rand, but that was actually one of the things I liked. I read Rand because I think that if my beliefs can't hold up against criticism or contrary views, I really shouldn't have those beliefs. If I am truly correct, there is no reason why I, or anyone else, should not be able to defeat an opposing argument. Perhaps that's too bourgeois to be fashionable, but fuck it.

    I do think there is something reactionary about that kind of philosophy, the one that brings up my bias as a "white male" as the only thing relevant in the discussion. It cannot effectively be challenged, since the only thing that matters is the phenotype of the people engaging in the discussion. One phenotype is valid, and the other isn't. It rankles me as being too authoritarian. It's less that I believe that I'm always right, and more that I think there are ways to test for fishy opinions. If someone is saying something that doesn't make any sense to me, or that seems irrelevant, and someone refuses to discuss with me how it doesn't make sense, or is irrelevant, that seems to me as though they aren't thinking about this as much as I am. There's the sense that I've "sinned" for questioning a dogma, and should be accordingly condemned. To me, that's no different than what is most distasteful about religion. I think the mind of a political fundamentalist has similarities to the mind of a religious fundamentalist. The psychologies are similar.

    Haven't read any Hume either, sadly.
    [Trump's] rhetoric is not an abuse of power. In the same way that it's also not against the law to do a backflip off of the roof of your house onto your concrete driveway. It's just mind-numbingly stupid and, to say the least, counterproductive. - Bush did 9-11


    This is not going to go the way you think....

    Visit my Johari:
    http://kevan.org/johari?name=Birddude78

  9. #9
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal12345 View Post
    After his preface to Kant's Theory of Mental Activity, Wolff begins his treatise thusly:

    The Critique of Pure Reason is usually introduced to the student
    in one of two ways. The most direct method is simply to open
    the book and begin explaining the Prefaces and Introduction.
    Alternatively, the Critique can be set in its historical perspective,
    and the disputes among previous philosophers, as well as the progression
    of thought in Kant's own earlier works, briefly traced.
    If we choose the former, we run immediately into a very serious
    difficulty. Kant asserts in the Introduction [B 19] that his work is
    an attempt to answer the question, "How are synthetic judgments
    a priori possible?" In the Prolegomena, intended as a summary and
    introduction to the Critique, he repeats this formulation. Yet Kant
    gives the reader little or no explanation of the problem before
    plunging into the technicalities of the Transcendental Aesthetic.

    This is certainly true, thus in my experience philosophy professors begin by placing Kant into historical context. They may not do so in a complete fashion if they neglect to explain the affect of Swedenborg on Kant's thinking, but they would do well to mention David Hume from whom Kant gained and then conceptualized the analytic-synthetic distinction.

    Hume himself did not use any such terms as "analytic-synthetic." This concept is implied in the discourse found in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding [1748], in which Hume denied any necessary connection in experience and substituted for it a "constant conjunction" of experiences that lead to the mere habit or belief in causality or of a conjoined experience - in simpler terms, of a world that makes sense to us.

    If experience is not a synthesis of experiences in one understanding, but as Hume asserted, a mere constant conjunction which, when analyzed, boils down to a skeptical view of science and reason, then it is not in fact possible for Hume to prove the truth of his assertion, since truth is, by its very nature, beyond any skeptic's criticism.

    But this isn't Kant's argument. In the Transcendental Analytic Immanuel Kant takes Hume directly to task. According to one Kant commentator, the Analytic provides a dazzling display of reasoning in which one philosopher directly responds to and takes down another philosopher's idea.
    Kant's argument in the Transcendental Analytic really begins in the Transcendental Aesthetic (the latter word not to be confused with art, it's more a reference to the sensory apparatus). In the Aesthetic, Kant proves that human senses bring us appearances, not to be confused with illusions as do some philosophers who were way out of their league here (e.g., Ayn Rand and her little lap dog Leonard Peikoff). Kant is not referring to any particular things as appearances (chairs, subway cars, airplanes, etc.), but only to appearances in general, also defined as things-in-general as they appear to our senses. Inept philosophers are sometimes thrown by such Kantian terminology as "mere appearances," as if this indicates that Kant was a Subjectivist philosopher, but that is only Kant's little joke on subjectivists such as Henri Bergson.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    Oh, to me it seemed like you were expecting some kind of reaction from me when you brought up Rand, but that was actually one of the things I liked. I read Rand because I think that if my beliefs can't hold up against criticism or contrary views, I really shouldn't have those beliefs. If I am truly correct, there is no reason why I, or anyone else, should not be able to defeat an opposing argument. Perhaps that's too bourgeois to be fashionable, but fuck it.

    I do think there is something reactionary about that kind of philosophy, the one that brings up my bias as a "white male" as the only thing relevant in the discussion. It cannot effectively be challenged, since the only thing that matters is the phenotype of the people engaging in the discussion. One phenotype is valid, and the other isn't. It rankles me as being too authoritarian. It's less that I believe that I'm always right, and more that I think there are ways to test for fishy opinions. If someone is saying something that doesn't make any sense to me, or that seems irrelevant, and someone refuses to discuss with me how it doesn't make sense, or is irrelevant, that seems to me as though they aren't thinking about this as much as I am. There's the sense that I've "sinned" for questioning a dogma, and should be accordingly condemned. To me, that's no different than what is most distasteful about religion. I think the mind of a political fundamentalist has similarities to the mind of a religious fundamentalist. The psychologies are similar.

    Haven't read any Hume either, sadly.
    Your post isn't topical, but at least it's better than the LOL which would have been the threads only post besides mine.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Wolff continues:

    The key terms, "analytic," "synthetic," "a priori," and "a posteriori,"
    are given-the most cursory definition. Kant merely states, with
    no real demonstration, that there are synthetic judgments a priori;
    to the uninitiated reader it is exceedingly unclear why so long and
    difficult a book should have been devoted to the answering of so
    dubious a question. Indeed, it soon becomes clear that the question
    is a very inadequate representation of the subject of the Critique,
    for one of Kant's principal aims is to prove that all judgments,
    a posteriori as well as a priori, are in need of explanation and
    critique.

    That's why Kant wrote the Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics in 1783, to provide definitions for such obscure terms. I did not read that work until much later, so I had to make due with skipping back and forth between Kant's Introductions to the Critique of Pure Reason and the main text of the book. This method wasn't entirely successful, however. But I did learn that Kant's goals were not as many so-called philosophers claimed them to be.

    "Analytic" simply means it was taken apart. "Synthetic" simply means it was put together. "A priori" means before the fact. "A posteriori" means after the fact.

    It gets confusing when Kant states that there are synthetic judgments a priori. And then this is further confused when he explains that "a priori" does not indicate before any particular fact, but before any and all facts. This terminology indicates to some less-than-worthy philosophers that Kant believed that some knowledge is innate, i.e., "before any and all facts" and thus makes our knowledge of these facts possible. This interpretation however ignores Kant's transcendental distinction which was made in the Transcendental Aesthetic: the distinction between appearances and things-in-themselves.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

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