Kant’s Universe

Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason illustrates the inevitable limitations of our ability to discover “reality”. Kant asserts that what we perceive to be “real” is not absolutely “real”. The brain receives stimuli from the “real” world; it organizes, processes, and shapes the stimuli in a certain fashion before feeding it back to the person. As a result, the person only perceives the already processed and shaped information. To Kant, the brain is constantly changing “reality”. His assertion is further explained as he introduces two vital terms, “phenomena” and “noumena”. Our knowledge of phenomenal objects is merely the processed information that our brain comes up with. On the other hand, noumenal objects are the “real” objects that are not processed by the mind. Because noumennal objects are not processed by the mind, it is impossible to learn about them. Consequently, our knowledge and reason is only restricted to the phenomenal universe.

The implications of Kant’s assertion are revolutionary. According to Kant, the characteristics of the universe (such as space and time), which we thought are built into nature, could be mere illusions of the mind. Most people believe that space and time are external truths of the universe, and using reason one can decipher their nature. However, if they are noumenal objects it is impossible to gain knowledge on their nature. Kant argues that we are able to learn about space and time because they are phenomenal objects, productions of our own mind. Kant’s argument is similar to a concept recently developed by American scientist Robert Lanza. This concept is biocentrism, which essentially asserts that our universe did not create life but rather life created the universe. Lanza even utilizes Kant’s arguments about space and time to illustrate his idea. It is a counter-intuitive idea but still remains a potential solution to the mystery of the universe.

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