Intro to Kant

Immanuel Kant is a complex philosopher to interpret. In his famous work Critique of Pure Reason, he seeks to answer the question of how to approach the act of learning through your senses. Kant likes to make his own words such as “apperception” to describe self-consciousness. He writes that “presentation that can be given prior to all thought is called intuition” (B132). Apperception according to Kant produces self-consciousness by recognizing the individual as a person who can make decisions. This is similar to Rene Descartes’s famous quote “I think, therefore I am” due to their assumptions that a thinking person is alive and is self-conscious of their existence.
Kant also touches on the topic of how the human body obtains knowledge and gains information about the world. He says that “our understanding can only think, and must seek intuition in the senses” (B135). This means that in our brain capacity we can process and interpret information but we get that information through our senses. This makes sense because we first need a source of information (the taste, smell, feel, look, and sounds of our environment) before we can process that information and gain ideas about the environment.
Kant is a difficult philosopher to read, as the introduction warned us. His use of philosophical jargon is difficult to decipher sometimes as it seems like he is making up a new term every line. He critiques pure reason by asking about epistemology (where and how do we obtain knowledge) and recognizes that our senses provide the first way of learning about the world. If our senses are wrong, it would be difficult to provide a proper interpretation of the world that everyone agrees on.

3 responses to “Intro to Kant

  1. I appreciated how you made connections from Kant’s philosophy to the big picture and how you broke things down so simplistically. The connection between learning, self consciousness and the implications of this connection were especially helpful to me; I read the same text as you but I didn’t make that connection. When I read Kant I was very overwhelmed and I think it was because I kept trying to interpret what he was saying through the lens of one topic, self consciousness, when he was discussing everything to do with that topic. Kant’s broad “connectedness” is probably what makes him, as you put it, so hard to decipher. I think that seeing how other people make connections within Kant aids in clarifying our own interpretations of his work as well as in building a map of connectedness in order to better understand Kant’s philosophy as a whole. As you brought up in your blog post, not everyone will interpret things the same way which is why I think it is important to hear various interpretations, especially when trying to decipher work as complex as Kant’s.

  2. I completely agree with you on the difficulties of understanding Kant! I really like how you explained why the quote from B135 made sense, because before I was confused on exactly what Kant meant. In your last sentence, I understand what you are saying, but I think you can also look at it in a different perspective. I believe that everyone’s senses can be a little different, even when they are approached with the same thing. For example, one person can eat flan and think it tastes amazing, and another person can eat a piece of that same flan and think that it has no flavor. This is the only thing that I think you should take into account, that it’s not necessarily that our senses can be wrong, but that our senses can be different.

  3. I like the connection you made with Rene Descarte’s quotes, “I think, therefore I am”. I believe this is Kant’s base line or starting point into his analysis of the self-conscious. Quite often, Kant stresses and connects his arguements to “our senses”. The way in which he does this makes it seem like our senses will not be flawed. They can fail us but our innate senses in general are good. I wonder how he would perceive criminals or outlaws? Would he say something different about their senses?

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