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.

2 responses to “Kant’s Universe

  1. I find your response to Kant’s work fascinating, well-written, and thought-provoking. I definitely agree with your interpretation of Kant’s take on reality, and I think that the way in which you extended your analysis, even including outside examples, is excellent.

    In accordance with your response, I believe that the processing of objective information becomes subjective during analysis due to the differences in the way every person’s brain functions. This allows for the interpretation of the surrounding world to be highly influenced by personality, identity, and even simply genetics, building a ‘reality’ based off of that specific person’s perspective rather than on objective information-processing. I find the implication of Kant’s ‘phenomena’ v. ‘noumena’ theory very disillusioning, as this means that not only is there an entire other world that we do not have access to but also that we do not have a true standard upon which to base reality. It is terrifying to think that every person essentially lives in his or her own world, creating a reality based upon the manner in which his or her brain interprets information. Because there is no standard upon which to found reality, it is impossible to realize what is and is not real, and to interpret the surrounding environment with objectivity, as there is no definition of what an objective interpretation is. Additionally, it is even more horrifying to think that there is so much about this life that we will never even come close to understanding. Because we are limited to only knowing ‘phenomena’ but not ‘noumena,’ the objective aspects of the world that could lead us to a greater understanding of the universe are not within our reach. This means that we have access to very little information about the universe, and that what little we do have is blurred by subjectivity and personal interpretation. In conclusion, in agreement with your response, I believe that the implications of Kant’s interpretation of reality are profound, and point in the direction of biocentrism as a possible solution for the mystery of the universe.

  2. I hadn’t heard of Robert Lanza or Biocentrism before. I just read a little more about it and it’s fascinating! You are right, he is definitely taking Kant’s idea of space and time as features of our “inner sense” (meaning, roughly, as necessary ways in which we perceive rather than as independently existing real phenomena) in his Biocentric account. He is also enacting a similar kind of “Copernican” turn, as Kant did. Thanks for the tip on this guy!

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