The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Discussions on the nature of being, existence, reality and knowledge. What is? How do we know?

Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby owleye on January 23rd, 2015, 3:14 pm 

Braininvat » Fri Jan 23, 2015 11:36 am wrote:Also instrumenalist - I touched on this way back there, in regard to the role of natural selection - brains that form useful models of the external world, that accurately map movement and events in the environment, tend to survive and pass along their genes. Go with what works - success, not absolute truth, is what matters in the marriage of phenomenon and noumenon. A successful appraisal of the relations between things, and the properties of those things - and that success measured by the agreement of all observers - is all the reality we are going to get.


There's a lot of steps that Kant (or anyone) would have to make to move from his transcendental idealism with categories of understanding and forms of intuition being considered a priori knowledge and an empirical understanding of the mind as it might have evolved in accordance with natural selection. However, assuming Kant would have taken these steps, he would want to distinguish brain from mind. A theory of mind would be quite different than a theory of the brain. To address the issue of humans, as opposed to other creatures, Kant would allow that there is a relationship between the mind and the brain, but would show reserve for it being the result for whatever works. The mind is a powerhouse of activity dealing with what and how we can know the world as well as how its possible for it to coexist with the moral laws within us. He might not deny that the brain is responsible for the mind (and all its mental activities), and that the mind's cognitive and perceptive and emotional capabilities are ultimately due to activities of the brain, but that he would say that descriptions of what our mind is doing are not directly comparable to descriptions of that same activity by the brain. (One can argue for an emergent property here, but at present we aren't able to produce an acceptable reduction. In any case, the descriptive differences would still be present.)

Braininvat wrote:What is the category of time?


Kant treats time as a form of intuition, kept separate from the intellectual portion of our mind that falls within the faculty of understanding. At least Kant does this in his development of what we might call perception. The understanding is capable of conceptual analysis apart from perception, which would be called cognition. The reason that space and time are not objects of experience, which is what the understanding creates using the categories of understanding during perception, is that neither time nor space can affect the senses, creating sensations, that are in turn subject to the categories of understanding in the way objects are alleged to do.

Braininvat wrote:Is it change and the relative rates of change in different processes and motions we observe in nature? Or is it only the organized and carefully paced movement of thought across the solid and static landscape of a Parmenidean block universe?


You seem to have leaped to what it means to observe something, which Kant prescribes that they are experienced in time. In order for Kant to move to an Einstein four-dimensional block-universe, Kant would have to come to terms with the developments of the 19th century in which Euclid's geometry has been swept away as the one and only geometry available to the world we experience. On the arrival of Einstein, this issue was specifically addressed. A distinction was made between what we perceive (experience, observe) and what our minds are capable of doing intellectually. To get at Einstein's block-model, our theoretical framework would have to take up the challenge absent observation. The advances in geometry allowed this possibility. Of course, such a theoretical construct is not confirmed to be case by observation, since we've removed its observation from consideration. To address this problem, there were a variety of theorists (Wyle, for one) who were able to come up with ways to reintroduce observation at the very local level and have it built up into a framework in which the global framework would cover all the locals. They had to do this in order to be able to confirm (or not disconfirm) the theory itself. (And I believe this became an issue the Logical Positivists were trying to address.)

Have to go now, but I think the historical steps getting from Kant to Einstein (which by the way, is in fact the trajectory -- not taking the empiricists route) is important in understanding how theory changes.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Neri on January 23rd, 2015, 10:32 pm 

Neuro,

Again, thank you for your comments.

Kant tells us, in necessary effect, that the world as it really is does not contain space and time. He also tells us that because time is only an inner sense, the world as it really is contains no change and motion.

Without space, nothing in the real world can have extension. This means that all “objects” must in reality be geometric points. Further, these points could not be separate; for without space, there is nothing to separate them.

This analysis leaves us with a changeless, motionless singularity. What is there is such a world that could possibly affect the senses? Absolutely nothing.

Indeed, if we are part of such a real world, we would not actually have bodies with senses; for bodies and sense organs cannot exist if they are spatially unextended.

For these reasons and many others, I find Kant’s noumena-phenomena distinction utterly bizarre.

As I observed in a response to owleye:

“According to Kant time exists only in our minds as an “internal sense.” Clearly, this means that it exists nowhere else and indubitably not in things in themselves. For if we say that time can possibly exist in things in themselves and we know not if it does, we are saying that it is possible that our experience of time is not only an inner sense but also an outer reality and this Kant categorically denies; for Kant does not even admit of the possibility that time exists as a thing in itself or as a condition of things in themselves.” The same reasoning applies to space.

Further, Kant does not say that time and space are “derived from mere relational aspects,” to use your words. He says the opposite—that time and space are intuitive and not discursive.

To qualify as a realist, it is not necessary that one believes that the senses are infallible. It is only necessary that one accept that the senses give one an accurate picture of the real world as a whole as well as the power to assess real dangers and to avoid them. In other words, it is necessary that a realist believe that the world independent of awareness contains change, motion, time and space.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Dave_Oblad on January 23rd, 2015, 11:43 pm 

Hi all,

Three years ago, when I first came to this site, I posted in my 2nd Thread that "Real Space-Distance" and "Real Time" doesn't exist. I came to these conclusions on my own. I have to wonder if Kant meant the same thing as I meant.. when we say nearly the same thing.

Regards,
Dave :^)
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Positor on January 23rd, 2015, 11:57 pm 

Neri » January 24th, 2015, 2:32 am wrote:Without space, nothing in the real world can have extension. This means that all “objects” must in reality be geometric points. Further, these points could not be separate; for without space, there is nothing to separate them.

This analysis leaves us with a changeless, motionless singularity.

The concepts of changelessness and motionlessness require the prior concepts of change and motion; and the concept of a singularity (in the sense of something with zero extension) requires the prior concept of extension with which to contrast it. So if we characterise the real world in this way, we are still thinking (indirectly) in phenomenal terms.

Couldn't the real world be something radically different from this? Dave Oblad's idea of the universe's real existence as the "solution to a mathematical equation" is one such possibility. (It would be a category error to ask whether such a universe-in-itself has zero or positive extension.) Or the real world could even be something totally beyond our imagining.

Neri wrote:As I observed in a response to owleye:

“According to Kant time exists only in our minds as an “internal sense.” Clearly, this means that it exists nowhere else and indubitably not in things in themselves. For if we say that time can possibly exist in things in themselves and we know not if it does, we are saying that it is possible that our experience of time is not only an inner sense but also an outer reality and this Kant categorically denies; for Kant does not even admit of the possibility that time exists as a thing in itself or as a condition of things in themselves.” The same reasoning applies to space.

Indeed. So how can Kant also claim that we know nothing about things in themselves? If we know that time and space are not in them, then we know something (albeit negative) about things in themselves.


Dave,

I have just seen your latest post. You have a positive suggestion about what the underlying reality is (i.e. mathematics), whereas Kant does not.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Dave_Oblad on January 24th, 2015, 12:05 am 

Hi Positor,

Yes, I have a slight Temporal advantage over Kant...lol. If our existence is Virtual, then it takes up no Real Space/Distance, no Real Dimensions, and no Real Time. For example, how can a whole Virtual City exist inside a single Computer. Shouldn't the Computer be larger than the City it contains? Makes me think of Dr. Who's Time/Space Ship...hehehehe.

Best wishes,
Dave :^)
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Braininvat on January 24th, 2015, 11:43 am 

Have to go now, but I think the historical steps getting from Kant to Einstein (which by the way, is in fact the trajectory -- not taking the empiricists route) is important in understanding how theory changes.


Owl, thanks for pointing me in a direction for further reading. Very helpful.

Dave, it's called the TARDIS. One interesting aspect is that a mechanical device cannot manage time travel, so the TARDIS is actually a living creature fused with machinery, which has to regenerate itself when damaged. So the Doctor cannot travel without the device's having a phenomenal aspect to its being.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Neri on January 24th, 2015, 12:20 pm 

Positor,

Very trenchant observations! Here is my reply.

For the reasons I put forward [as you quote them in your post], the proposition—“what Kant calls noumena do not contain time, space, change and motion”—is a fact as much as, say, the proposition—“the tooth fairy does not exist.” Both impose empirical restrictions on reality. Accordingly, it is not true, as Kant says, that nothing can be known about noumena; for, if we give “noumena” his meaning, we do know the following as facts:

(1) Noumena do not contain time.

(2) Noumena do not contain space.

(3) Noumena do not contain change.

(4) Noumena do not contain motion.

Because these are empirical facts imposed upon noumena, empirical analysis of them is not only allowed but necessary. This, of course, contradicts Kant’s conceptual scheme in that it shows that noumena as he defines them, cannot exist if they are subject to empirical analysis. Indeed, it has been my intent to reduce to absurdity the notion of noumena.

Kant cannot preserve his noumena concept by the simple expedient of alleging that any argument against it is empirical, when the concept itself places empirical conditions on reality. Thus, as I said earlier, the fact that noumena (as Kant defines them) do not contain change, imposes an empirical condition on them, such that it logically compels the conclusion (albeit an empirical one) that no one in the noumenal realm can change from the condition of being alive to that of being dead. Because this is absurd, it renders the notion of noumena likewise absurd.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Braininvat on January 24th, 2015, 12:57 pm 

Is your 1-4 list a fair representation of Kant's concept of the noumenon? I had thought that Kant was talking about categories of cognition, rather than making ontic assertions about the noumenal itself. I feel that a kantian strawman is being constructed here.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Neri on January 24th, 2015, 1:24 pm 

Braininvat,

Kant’s assertion that noumena exist in themselves is an ontological one. Thus, it is not, as he describes it, a matter of categories of cognition. His assertion that nothing can be known about noumena is both epistemic and false. Propositions 1-4 are necessarily true because of Kant’s own assertion that time, space, change and motion are not real in themselves.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby owleye on January 24th, 2015, 2:28 pm 

Braininvat » Sat Jan 24, 2015 10:57 am wrote:Is your 1-4 list a fair representation of Kant's concept of the noumenon? I had thought that Kant was talking about categories of cognition, rather than making ontic assertions about the noumenal itself. I feel that a kantian strawman is being constructed here.


I think it is good that you question Neri's position, but as I'm sure you've learned by now, his argument is really a bunch of assertions that he claims is the only way to interpret Kant. If he in fact refers to Kant at all, it is very selectively done so. The one post where you made a short terse response to him, gave me much more respect for your insights than all the verbiage that I get from Neri. In the above, of course, you are trying to penetrate further, but as you will discover, he doesn't really take what you have to say with any seriousness and basically requires you to take his position as gospel. I wish you well with the slippery Neri.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Neri on January 25th, 2015, 11:01 am 

James,

Your ad hominem arguments say more about you than they do about me.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby owleye on January 25th, 2015, 1:45 pm 

Neri » Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:01 am wrote:James,

Your ad hominem arguments say more about you than they do about me.


Not a problem. It's how I feel about your posts. I consider them nonsense. And I attribute that nonsense to you. I've not found it fruitful to go into why I think this, but feel free not to be so sensitive regarding my own personal views. Proceed as if I've said nothing of importance. You already dismiss me, so, I don't know what is gained by commenting on my opinions, even if they represent advice to others.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Neri on January 25th, 2015, 2:07 pm 

James,

You are entitled to feel any way you wish about my posts, so long as you provide cogent reasons for your objections. However, personal remarks about me are not relevant in this process.

I can assure you I will have no difficulty in proceeding as if you have said nothing of importance.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Neri on January 26th, 2015, 9:04 am 

KANT’S NOUMENA

If we take Kant’s noumena-concept to its logical extent, we will see that it direct us down the path to absurdity. This requires an analysis in the clearest possible terms.

PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS

Kant stated:

(1) that space was neither a noumenon nor a property of any noumenon. [Prolegomena, ibid., page 35; Critique of Pure Reason, ibid. page 5]

(2) that time was only an “inner sense” and consequently neither a noumenon nor a property of any noumenon. [Critique, ibid. pages 8, 9, and 10]

(3) that change was neither a noumenon nor a property of any noumenon. [Critique ibid. page 11] and

(4) that motion was neither a noumenon nor a property of any noumenon. [Critique ibid. page 13]

According to Kant, time exists only in our minds as an “internal sense.” Clearly, this means that it exists nowhere else and indubitably not in things in themselves. For if we say that time can possibly exist in things in themselves and we know not if it does, we are saying that it is possible that our experience of time is not only an inner sense but also an outer reality and this Kant categorically denies; for Kant does not even admit of the possibility that time exists as a thing-in-itself or as a condition of things in themselves.”

The same reasoning applies to change, motion and space. Since change and motion cannot be real-in-themselves unless time is real-in-itself, Kant concludes that it is impossible that change and motion can exist in any way as part of the noumenal realm. The same applies to space; for although Kant calls it an “outer sense,” he makes it quite clear that space is neither a thing-in-itself nor a condition of things-in-themselves. Thus, he concludes that it is impossible that space can in any way be a part of the real world (noumena).

For the above reasons, Kant’s proposition that time, space, change and motion are not in any way part of the noumenal realm purports to be a factual proposition-- as much as, say, the proposition that the tooth fairy does not exist; for both impose empirical restrictions on reality. Therefore, it is not true, as Kant says, that nothing can be known about noumena; for, if we give “noumena” his meaning, we can know by means of exclusion the following AS A FACT:

Noumena do not contain time, space, change or motion.

Because this is an empirical fact imposed upon noumena, empirical analysis of it is not only allowed but necessary. Kant cannot properly insulate the noumena-concept from all criticism by the bald assertion that any argument against it is empirical when the concept itself unavoidably yields what purports to be an empirical fact. In other words, because Kant does not admit of the possibility that things-in-themselves can in any way contain time, space, change and motion, he is imposing empirical conditions on the noumenal realm by means of negation.

EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS OF THINGS-IN-THEMSELVES BASED UPON FACTUAL NEGATION BY KANT (THE REDUCTION TO ABSURDITY)

A. REGARDING NOUMENA IN GENERAL:

(1) Because Kant negates as a fact that change is real-in-itself, all things-in-themselves must be eternal.

(2) Because Kant negates as a fact that space is real-in-itself, all noumena must be a single noumenon, for without space there is nothing to separate them.

(3) Because without space, there can be no extension in the real world, the single noumenon must in fact be a singularity equivalent to a geometric point.

(4) Owing to paragraph (1) supra, that singularity must be eternal.

B. REGARDING CONSCIOUS NOUMENA:

Since one does not experience one’s awareness as spatially extended, Kant leaves space out of the picture where consciousness, in se, is concerned. Yet, if consciousness is a noumenon, it cannot be temporally extended, for clearly such a thing cannot be possible if time is excluded from all things-in-themselves. This necessitates the following conclusions:

(1) All consciousness wherever found is an eternal singularity.

(2) Because all of reality must be a singularity, that singularity must be conscious.

Thus, employing the factual negations of Kant, we arrive at the following absurdity:

The ultimate reality must be a lone, conscious singularity.

C. REGARDING FREE WILL AND MORALITY

In his second critique, Kant maintains that we can only know what we really are through the supersensibility of free will. In other words, he claims that we know ourselves as noumena only when we make moral choices and act upon them. This necessarily includes the idea that we can, through the will, cause some kind of real change that may or may not conform to a categorically imperative moral rule. But surely this is nonsense if we cannot actually make anything happen in a real world devoid of time, space, change and motion. Surely, no morality can be based on only what we appear to be doing, when we are in fact doing nothing.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby neuro on January 26th, 2015, 12:21 pm 

Neri » January 26th, 2015, 2:04 pm wrote:If we take Kant’s noumena-concept to its logical extent, we will see that it direct us down the path to absurdity.

I have the impression one could say exactly the same about Einstein's theories, and even more so about quantum mechanics....

Doesn't this tell you anythng?
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Neri on January 26th, 2015, 1:59 pm 

Neuro,

As I observed in another thread:

“One must understand that all scientific theories are predictive tools, nothing more. Even the greatest theories contain assumptions that are preposterous on their face. Thus, Newton’s action at a distance, Einstein’s four-dimensional block universe, and Schrödinger’s equating of the potential with the actual simply make no sense. The wonder is that these theories work so well. Indeed, reality can lie within the four corners of these theories only if truth is identified as utility.”
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby owleye on January 26th, 2015, 4:00 pm 

neuro » Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:21 am wrote:
Neri » January 26th, 2015, 2:04 pm wrote:If we take Kant’s noumena-concept to its logical extent, we will see that it direct us down the path to absurdity.

I have the impression one could say exactly the same about Einstein's theories, and even more so about quantum mechanics....

Doesn't this tell you anythng?


As usual Neri. though trying to be a Kantian scholar, what with his translation (interpretation) of certain Kantian texts, later enlarging on it to no real effect, as far as I can tell, all he is saying is nothing more that space and time are what Kant himself says of them, namely forms of intuition. He somehow feels that it's important not to think of themselves as noumena. Well, they are not even objects of experience, much less objects in themselves.

In the Prolegomena Kant wishes to respond to those who maintain that time and space are real and therefore must be empirically understood as independent of us. Kant replies that yes, time and space are real in the sense in which they are empirically real. But, that it is part of what makes experience itself possible that space and time are something we insert into experience. And, this part of the story is certainly the case. Even recognized today as something our brain (in delivering experience) in fact does do.

Instead of understanding what Kant was saying, he chooses to make it sound like it leads to some absurdity, which of course is absurd. But apparently that's the way his mind works.

Note that though Gauss objected to Kant and paved the way for dismantling the a priori nature of time and space as envisioned by Kant, by the time of Einstein's reconsideration of the entire Newtonian framework, all this was more or less old-stuff, and well known to theoreticians, especially those on the continent. Kant could be accepted in his broad outline by dropping the a prior status, allowing that space and time (and mathematics in general) were not pinned down to synthetic truths. One could undertake an examination of these concepts (as objects, not as observable entities) but as theoretical models that assist in understanding how theory can explain phenomena. There's a need to connect observations with these models and experiments are designed to do just that. Unobservables have always been a hot topic in science (and philosophy), thus so in modern physics. It is therefore not surprising that space-time, while not observable, in consideration of the block-model, remains a topic of discussion.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Rilx on January 26th, 2015, 6:08 pm 

Neri,

I see that you have a conceptual problem. There are two pairs of concepts: phenomena and noumena; appearances and understanding. They don't map to each other pairwise.

Pure appearance can be thought only as what a newborn infant sees and hears when she perceives the outside world first time: formless shadows and scrappy noise.

Phenomena begin to develop when she begin to conceptualize her perceptions; when she begin to understand the world around. Phenomena are not supeficial, nor shadows, nor illusions. They are built of both sense data and understanding, all - even science - included.

Noumenon instead is a limit concept of pure understanding, if we could even form such, throwing out all sensory data of some thing but still leaving the forms of understanding. Naturally it is outside of time, space, etc.

Here a relevant quote from CPR, about A257-8:

Kant wrote:Yet I find in the writings of the moderns an entirely different use of the expressions of a mundi sensibilis and intelligibilis, which entirely diverges from the sense of the ancients, which is not itself a problem, but which is also nothing but an empty trafficking with words. In accordance with this usage some have been pleased to call the sum total of appearances, so far as it is intuited, the world of sense, but the connection of them insofar as it is thought in accordance with general laws of the understanding, the world of understanding. Theoretical astronomy, which expounds the mere observation of the starry heavens, would be the former, contemplative astronomy on the contrary (explained, say, according to the Copernican world-system or even according to Newton's laws of gravitation) would be the latter, making an intelligible world representable. But such a perversion of words is a merely sophistical evasion for escaping from a difficult question by reducing its sense to a commonplace. With regard to appearances, to be sure, both understanding and reason can be used; but it must be asked whether they would still have any use if the object were not appearance (noumenon), and one takes it in this sense if one thinks of it as merely intelligible, i.e., as given to the understanding alone and not to the senses at all. The question is thus: whether beyond the empirical use of the understanding (even in the Newtonian representation of the cosmos) a transcendental one is also possible, pertaining to the noumenon as an object - which question we have answered negatively.

If, therefore, we say: The senses represent objects to us as they appear, but the understanding, as they are, then the latter is not to be taken in a transcendental but in a merely empirical way, signifying, namely, how they must be represented as objects of experience, in the thoroughgoing connection of appearances, and not how they might be outside of the relation to possible experience and consequently to sense in general, thus as objects of pure understanding. For this will always remain unknown to us, so that it even remains unknown to us, so that it even remains unknown whether such a transcendental (extraordinary) cognition is possible at all, at least as one that stands under our customary categories. With us understanding and sensibility can determine an object only in combination. If we separate them, then we have intuitions without concepts, or concepts without intuitions, but in either case representations that we cannot relate to any determinate object.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Neri on January 27th, 2015, 8:43 am 

James,

I am only a critic of Kant’s notion of noumena. I do not share your pretensions of being a Kant scholar.

To say that time and space are “empirically real,” in Kant speak, means only that they are real to us but are not real in themselves.

Einstein believed that space was real in itself but denied that status to time, claiming that time was a psychological illusion traceable to human memory. Thus, Einstein was a Parmenidean anti-realist and not a Kantian anti-realist. He, like Parmenides, thought that the universe was a single, impenetrable geometric object. This too is absurd, as Popper so well pointed out.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Neri on January 27th, 2015, 8:45 am 

Rilx,

Where Kant is concerned, it is important not to get bogged down in semantics. Kant has an unfortunate writing style. He always seems to be in a great rush and never takes the time necessary for concision and lucidity. What Kant is saying in the language you quote may be summarized as follows:

Understanding can be applied to appearances (objects of sense). However, because understanding can never transcend the senses, it would be of no use if it were applied to non-appearances (noumena); for understanding can only be derived from what is sensible to us.
The senses represent objects “as they appear.” Understanding may be said to represent objects “as they are” but only in the sense of how they must be represented as objects of experience. Reason cannot represent objects outside of possible experience—that is, as objects of pure reason; for such non-experiences (noumena) can never be known to us.
Sensibility and understanding can determine an object of experience only in combination—otherwise we have intuitions without concepts or concepts without intuitions—that is, representations that cannot determine any object of experience.

It is true that Kant uses the expression “objects of experience” to include both sensibility and understanding acting in concert. Sensibility he called appearances. However, the appearances upon which understanding must work its magic are conditioned by the intuitions of time, space, change and motion, all of which Kant says are free creations of the mind not corresponding to any real condition or thing that lies outside of us. My post refers to appearances in this sense and really has not much to do with the quote you present.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Rilx on January 28th, 2015, 7:52 am 

Neri,

OK, lets have a closer look at time, space, change and motion. Kant's space and time are best explained in his Inaugural Dissertation of 1770:
Kant wrote:Time is not something objective and real, neither a substance, nor an accident, nor a relation. It is the subjective condition necessary by the nature of the human mind for coordinating any sensible objects among themselves by a certain law; time is a pure intuition.

Space is not something objective and real, neither substance, nor accident, nor relation; but subjective and ideal, arising by fixed law from the nature of the mind like an outline for the mutual co-ordination of all external sensations whatsoever.

Thus space and time, as an a priori form of intuition, are a coordinate system that every human or animal which can percive external objects must have before they can understand any perception in any way. Today we have machines which use this principle too.

Space and time as forms pure intuition differ from empirical space and time in the sense that they are singular and indefinite; they cannot be parts or relations of finite objects.

The crucial point is that if you don't understand Kant's concept "pure understanding" (or pure reason), lots of his metaphysics appear as nonsense. It helps to think of Euclidean spatial coordinates even objectifying them as orthonal arrows of dimension. ;)

As to change and motion, I can only refer to CPR (A41):
Kant wrote:Finally, that the transcendental aesthetic cannot contain more than these two elements, namely space and time, is clear from the fact that all other concepts belonging to sensibility, even that of motion, which unites both elements, presuppose something empirical. For this presupposes the perception of something movable. In space considered in itself there is nothing movable; hence the movable must be something that is found in space only through experience, thus an empirical datum. In the same way the transcendental aesthetic cannot count the concept of alteration among its a priori data; for time itself does not alter, but only something that is within time. For this there is required the perception of some existence and the succession of its determinations, thus experience.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Neri on January 28th, 2015, 10:43 am 

Rilx,

Nothing in the quotes you present is in any way inconsistent with my interpretation of Kant. Your comments, I am sorry to say, are not quite on point.

The confusion seems to be with the meaning of “empirical” as Kant uses it in the excerpts you present. “Empirical” means “verifiable by observation or experience.” When Kant uses that word he does not mean “established as true by a correspondence with anything real in itself”; for he would consider this naïve realism. He means only “true by comparing one cognition with another in a way that is sensible or meaningful given the peculiar way in which our minds work.” This is a necessary consequence of his assertion that time, space, change and motion have no counterpart in the world as it really is. True, he calls time and space “pure intuitions” in that they are derived from nothing else (are a priori), whereas change and motion are “sensibilities” in that they are derived from space and time (are not a priori). However, whatever you call them, they do not, in Kant’s view correspond to anything in the world of things existing independently of our cognitions (noumena). This is the crucial point.

By “pure reason” Kant means reason not dependent on “experience” (where the latter term embraces only cognitive elements). Kant says that pure reason is impossible for us, because we cannot employ reason unless we first have sensibilities [such as change and motion]. However, “sensibilities” are themselves purely of mental fabric and accordingly do not correspond to anything real in itself.

The anomaly in all of this arises in this way. Let us take the proposition that the noumenal realm does not include space and time. First, we know, according to Kant, that such a realm does exist in itself, for this is Kant’s sole claim to being an “empirical realist.” Now, if we make any statement about the world real-in-itself, that statement can be true only as a matter of correspondence with reality and not solely as a matter of cognitive coherence. So that “empirical” takes on an entirely different meaning from that assigned to it by Kant-- and this is unavoidable given the structure of Kant’s philosophy. In other words, the proposition that time and space are not included in noumena now becomes verifiable only as a matter of correspondence with external reality and not merely as a matter of cognitive coherence. Thus, Kant trips over his own boot laces.

As I demonstrated previously, this anomaly when taken to its logical extent results in utter nonsense.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby neuro on January 28th, 2015, 1:51 pm 

Neri » January 28th, 2015, 3:43 pm wrote:When Kant uses that word ["empirical") he ... means only “true by comparing one cognition with another in a way that is sensible or meaningful given the peculiar way in which our minds work”

in encountering the external reality you should add.
Oherwise, it would be a critique of pure dreaming, not of pure reason.
The fundamental premise is that our mind receives input from the senses and these do not transmit information only based on "the peculiar way in which our minds work" but also on what hits them (otherwise, what would all of this have to do with the word "empirical"?).
By “pure reason” Kant means reason not dependent on “experience” (where the latter term embraces only cognitive elements).

I was not kidding in referring to dreaming vs reason: pure reason is the common (a priori) software (Kant would kill me, I know, if he were to listen to this) or kernel (that sounds nicer) that operates both on empirical data (input from the senses) and on the matter of dreams (endogenous reelaboration of acquired cognitive material).

I mean, if you wish to analyze in detail how a machine works you may test it in all its reactions to external inputs, but in the end you must be able to define the analytical equation that describes its operation, and that can predct its behavior in response to any nput as well as in the absence of input.

Such analytical description would be the "a priori" essence of the machine.
Kant says that pure reason is impossible for us, because we cannot employ reason unless we first have sensibilities [such as change and motion]...

exactly as in the example above about understanding the functioning of the machine. When it is resting (no interaction, no input) it smply does not work.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby owleye on January 28th, 2015, 9:44 pm 

neuro...

I wish you well. You may be assured that Neri will disagree. His thinking is that what Kant means by empirical is comparing one cognition with another without any particular stimulus from some external world stimulating such comparison and he won't be swayed by anyone who thinks there is no basis for that meaning in Kant. For Neri, Kant's world is entirely made-up. He of course has to conclude that everyone who thinks differently, which is probably at least the compliment of the planet's professional philosophers, have a blind spot. Neri sees what scholarly philosophers don't see. He has concluded that Kant thinks there is no external reality, a reality existing independent of us. (Or rather, Kant doesn't realize that he himself has made it impossible for an external world to exist without it also being absurd.) So he completely ignores what Riix has provided in quoting Kant himself. If it doesn't comport to his interpretation it must be because Kant means something else, something only Neri believes he means, this despite that Kant tells us what he means in the very citations given. Neri is digging a larger and larger hole, and instead of trying to understand what others are saying, he chooses to double down.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Neri on January 29th, 2015, 10:57 am 

Neuro,

Perhaps I could have stated the matter more clearly. “Empirical” has to do with experience. Kant regards experience as something purely of the mind. A realist regards experience as corresponding to external reality. Thus, Kant in the epistemic sense was an anti-realist.

Kant considered himself to be an empirical realist but only in the limited sense that he was not an idealist in the mold of Berkeley. That is, he did not take the position that only souls existed but admitted that real things (that need not be souls) existed outside of us. He called these “things-in-themselves “or “noumena.” Yet, he denied that they were in any way knowable. Indeed, he insisted that our senses gave us no window to the real world. To him, knowledge was only a matter of the internal coherence of our understanding and not a matter of correspondence with external reality.

The problem with Kant is that he claimed that we would have no sensibilities unless we had encounters with things-in-themselves, but he does not tell us exactly what these real things contributed to our sensibilities. Things real-in-themselves do not give us time and space because, according to Kant, these are supplied entirely by the mind. They do not give us motion or change, for these are sensibilities derived from time and space. That is, sensibilities are derived from cognitions and not from things-in-themselves. Noumena cannot give us causation, for the latter depends on sensibilities. Thus, it seems that all knowledge is built upon the “pure intuitions” of time and space and hence has no footing in a reality outside of the mind.

Kant does tells us that things-in-themselves supply the matter of a percept, and the mind supplies its form; but he never tells us exactly what this “matter” may consist of. Nor does he explain why these encounters result in experiences that in no way at all resemble their causes. Indeed, one wonders how things-in-themselves could possibly cause this “matter” to reach us when, according to Kant, motion and causation are all in the mind.

Kant called his work “The Critique of Pure Reason” because he concluded that reason by itself (pure reason) cannot give us coherent experiences unless it is combined with sensibilities.

Kant tells us that dreams differs from waking experiences, because the latter are coherent and the former incoherent and not because waking experiences give us knowledge of things as they really are. (See, Prolegomena, ibid., page 38)

Perhaps, the programming of an autonomous robot could be loosely analogized with our native intuitions; but Kant, for obvious reasons, never speaks of robots. However, he does say that if there were other “animated beings” that enjoyed a kind of experience that directly corresponded to reality, they would possess pure reason and know the world as it really is. Unfortunately, Kant advises, our own woeful species can never overcome its limitations.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Neri on January 29th, 2015, 11:21 am 

James,

Please read my posts more carefully.

I have not “concluded that Kant thinks there is no external reality,” as you put it. In fact, I have said exactly the opposite. However, Kant does make it perfectly clear that our senses give us no knowledge of this external reality. I can quote Kant all day long on this point; but, for reasons unknown to me, you will not accept the clear letter of his utterances.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Positor on January 29th, 2015, 12:12 pm 

Neri » January 29th, 2015, 2:57 pm wrote:Kant does tells us that things-in-themselves supply the matter of a percept, and the mind supplies its form; but he never tells us exactly what this “matter” may consist of. Nor does he explain why these encounters result in experiences that in no way at all resemble their causes. Indeed, one wonders how things-in-themselves could possibly cause this “matter” to reach us when, according to Kant, motion and causation are all in the mind.

I think the bolded part above is crucial. The "matter" could perhaps be something analogous to a code or mathematical data – something of which it would not make sense to ask whether it is spatially extended or not, or changeable or not.

Kant states: "The non-sensible cause of these representations is completely unknown to us". So he is distinguishing a non-sensible cause (acting on the phenomenal world) from sensible causes (acting entirely within the phenomenal world). By "completely unknown" he must be referring only to the content of noumena; for we can know (rationally, not empirically) that they (a) exist, and (b) have some kind of causative power.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby owleye on January 29th, 2015, 1:32 pm 

Neri » Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:57 am wrote:Neuro,

Perhaps I could have stated the matter more clearly. “Empirical” has to do with experience. Kant regards experience as something purely of the mind. A realist regards experience as corresponding to external reality. Thus, Kant in the epistemic sense was an anti-realist.


Empirical knowledge is knowledge of a world independent of us and is gained from experience. However, you say experience is something purely of he mind. Thus, already you deny Kant allows empirical knowledge. Unless, of course, experience is also about a world independent of us. Your 'purely of the mind" however, belies that. You are either contradicting yourself or you are denying that empirical knowledge is knowledge of a world independent of us. If you think Kant gives an empirical account of a world independent of us, then what contribution does experience provide in that knowledge? If you think that Kant does not give an account of a world independent of us, is it your understanding that it doesn't provide empirical knowledge of anything? Alternatively, that what we experience, because it is purely of the mind (presumably created by the mind), then it has no relation to objects independent of us. True? Empirically then, there's nothing to experience but what our mind conjures up. There is no external reality to what is experienced. That seems to be your position.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby hyksos on January 30th, 2015, 6:00 pm 

Braininvat » January 24th, 2015, 8:57 pm wrote:Is your 1-4 list a fair representation of Kant's concept of the noumenon? I had thought that Kant was talking about categories of cognition, rather than making ontic assertions about the noumenal itself. I feel that a kantian strawman is being constructed here.


You have this correct as far as I see. I (we) need to be asking if we should be Neri's personal tutors. I choose not to.

Kant is not claiming, as Neri supposes, that the Noumenon is cut off from measurement. Or that the Noumenon is not there. (It was Berkeley whom said that. Descartes said it too, but only during his crazier meditations).

Kant was just claiming that you cannot extend a bridge of REASON between sensuous categories on one side and onto objects which exist independent of those categories. Notice this is not committing to any ontological claims. Kant is saying something meta-ontological here. He is saying that any claims about noumenal objects ( existing distinct from phenomenal sense experience) cannot be reliable. In other words, REASON can get us pretty far, but it is limited in its power.


If you understand what I have said so far, you will now know why Immanuel Kant was writing books with titles like "Critique of Pure Reason" Kant was critiquing the extent and power of reason. This critique involved carefully differentiating reasonable/logical claims from mere intuitions and from metaphysical stances. Kant was telling the world that metaphysical stances "come across" as being completely reasonable at face value, and therein lies their danger. Metaphysical claims always look and smell reasonable, but they are neither reasonable nor reliable. Kant is telling everyone around him that reason does not extend to the wishful metaphysical imaginings you people are peddling. The exact sentence where he does this is here:

The categories are not based, as regards their origin, upon sensibility, like the forms of intuition, space, and time; they seem, therefore, to be capable of an application beyond the sphere of sensuous objects. But this is not the case.
(emphasis added by me)

Further down:
Now, the possibility of a thing can never be proved from the fact that the conception of it is not self-contradictory, but only by means of an intuition corresponding to the conception.


Translation: "My metaphysical claims are not logically contradictory! Therefore I'm being reasonable, aren't I?" Kant responds: no you aren't. I think most modern people agree with that sentiment. In the 18th century, this was revolutionary. Not so much now.

I think Kant's writing stands as one of the most powerful arguments for the scientific method in all history. There are single sentences in COPR which act as the apotheosis of the entire Renaissance and Enlightenment in Europe. Kant will dispatch all your wishings and intuitions, until it is only pure reason which you can use. He does not tolerate childish thinking. Once he has painted you into a corner like this, you have nowhere to go other than to measure the world around you and report on the result. You can only state "this is how my measuring instrument reacted phenomenally during the measurement." That's all the room you have to retreat to.

Luckily for science and modern civilization, measuring the world with a 'device' produces a consistent and repeatable result. To this day, nobody knows why. The scientific Realists on this forum will posture and pretend they know why. But at the end of the day, they really don't.
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Re: The Copernican Revolution and the Senses

Postby Neri on January 30th, 2015, 7:16 pm 

Good post, Positor.

I do not think it makes much sense to say that the “matter” of a sensation, as supposedly provided by a thing-in-itself, is analogous to a mathematical code, when Kant tells us that all of mathematics is dependent upon a priori intuitions that have no counterpart in things-in-themselves. In other words, one cannot properly say, on the one hand, that mathematics is a thing of the mind not found in things-in-themselves—and, on the other hand, that things-in-themselves are mathematical codes that are necessary for cognition—unless one takes that the fantastical position that the mathematical code which comprises any noumenon is a supernatural one that does not depend upon the axioms of mathematics.

I am interested in reading the full context of the statement of Kant that you quote. Please provide a citation. In the meantime, taking the matter as you present it, I will provide preliminary comments.

It seems to me that either a cause is a cause or it is not. The idea that a thing-in-itself can act upon our senses in such a way that it transfers no discernible information about its own nature is hard to swallow. If it is true, as Kant says, that time and space are only ideas that have no counterpart in the real world, there must be no such thing as action there; for without time and space action is out of the question. Thus, we are expected to believe that a noumenal cause (“nonsensible” cause) is one that necessitates an effect without actually acting upon anything. Further, without time, it cannot be said that the effect is subsequent to (or even antecedent to) the cause. Logically, this unites the noumenal cause with the phenomenal effect. Such a union can only mean that phenomena are equivalent to noumena and this contradicts Kant. Further, if, as Kant claims, the mind is a noumenon [in some way that we are unable to comprehend] and is susceptible to the causal powers of other noumenons, there is every reason to believe that noumenons other than the mind have causal powers over each other. Hence, whenever one noumenon causes an effect in another, they must somehow combine into a single noumenon. Thus, the idea that there are “non-sensible causes” is nonsensical.

Of course, Kant might object that I can only draw the above conclusions because my powers of understanding cannot depend upon reason alone but are limited by human sensibilities. Thus, he would say that I give a phenomenal account of something that is noumenal. However, if it is true that my mind is limited by human sensibilities, the same would apply to Kant. This leaves one wondering what sensibilities he employed, in the first place, to come to the conclusion that noumena exist. If he relied upon human sensibilities (regardless of how much he reasonably derived from them) then his conclusion would be phenomenal. In such case, he would be accusing me the same error he would now admit to. Hence, if Kant gives a phenomenal account of noumena, one can only conclude that noumena are actually phenomena; and this contradicts his whole position. He cannot say that he employed reason disembodied from sensibility to reach his conclusion, for that would contradict his own statement “that appearance, as long as it is employed in experience, produces truth; but the moment it transgresses the bounds of experience, and consequently becomes transcendent, produces nothing but illusion.” (Prolegomena, ibid. page 40)
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