Tag Archives: Kant

Extrinsic Motivations: when the Ends Trump the Means.

Why are we fulfilling our roles at this moment? Society answers that we are going to be rewarded with money, social status, security, and [input what you want here]. It claims that these things make you happier while performing your tasks. These things are supposed to act as your motivators. Well, you might want to think again.

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I Kant Understand This

Immanuel Kant’s writing is very difficult to understand, as many unfamiliar terms and stipulative definitions are made within the passage which is used throughout the piece. In “On The Original Synthetic Unity of Apperception”, new concepts or stipulative definitions are given in italics. From what I read, these seem to be the key concepts:

  • Intuition: Presentation that can be given prior to all thought(B132)
  • Pure Apperception: A spontaneous act of presentation  not belonging to sensibility(B132)
  • a priori: knowledge obtained without experience(introduction)


The passage itself is a foundational piece in which terms are defined and used in order to argue a higher claim.

This was a very hard read, although the introduction to the “Critique of Pure Reason” helped.

From what I read, Kant is influenced by the philosopher Hume(Introduction XIV), where Hume denies any sort of unity between the senses in the human mind, Kant disagrees, saying that, “…the unity of the mind is necessary, because without such unity there would be no cognition at all”(Introduction XIV). By knowing this, it could follow that he writes in support of the unity if senses, as he says that “All presentations given to me are subject to this unity, but they must also be brought under it through a synthesis” (B136). In this, Kant argues about the unity of senses, that they come together to synthesize, or create the things we know around us.

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.

The Complexity of Intuition

The reading for this week is very difficult to understand and interpret from a vocabulary standpoint as well as from a conceptual view. Kant poses many important and complex ideas in his “Critique of Pure Reason” that delve into the elements of knowledge and thinking, particularly, the unification of self-consciousness. One particular term of interest that sticks out to me is his explanation of intuition, or “pure apperception”(B132), and its role in completing the conscious of self.

I think my confusion with his terminological breakdown of intuition is the fact that intuition is defined as “prior to all thought” (B132) or without the presence of conscious thinking and is yet a part of one’s self-consciousness. Can intuitions be a part of one’s conscious without being necessary thought of in a conscious matter but rather already being known? It seems as though the intuitions are connected in some sense to the “empirical apperceptions” Kant mentioned in the fact that they both include the “presentations that comprise the transcendental unity of apperception”(B132). I just think it’s hard to comprehend how an unconscious state of mind can dually comprise a conscious being.

Immanuel Kant on Intellectual Property

I was warned that Kant is difficult to read, but I was skeptical of these claims. Turns out, the warnings were pretty well founded. Here’s what I got from reading the first few pages of his Critique of Pure Reason. Continue reading

Empirical Consciousness

Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason uses difficult language, and I found myself constantly referencing the introduction or making a quick google search to help guide me through this piece. One word that stuck out was “empirical” because I had seen it before in chemistry classes referring to the “empirical formula” of a compound. This piqued my curiosity and so I went searching for what this word was doing in a philosophical piece, because I had only seen it in a scientific context. Continue reading

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.

Composition of Identity

“Our understanding can only think, and must seek intuition in the senses. I am, then, conscious of the self as identical, as regards the manifold of the presentations given to me in an intuition, because I call them one and all my presentations that make up one presentation” (B 135).

I think this passage is fascinating for its description of the relationship between knowledge and intuition, and Kant’s declaration of the self as being based on identity. Here, he states that understanding allows for the processing of information taken in through perception of the environment. Such understanding is supported by evidence gained from the outside world through perception, and further substantiated by instinct. Therefore, identity, or the self, is founded upon the “manifold of presentations,” or information gained from the environment and from instinct, coming together to form one presentation through the analysis of such data. This culminates to form the identity of self, as understanding and intuition allow for consciousness of oneself and comprehension of one’s position in relation to one’s environment.

Therefore, the distinction between knowledge and intuition allows for a better understanding of the composition of identity. Understanding is based upon thinking, whereas intuition is based upon feeling or sensitivity. This means that the self is based upon a balance between the objective and subjective. Identity is based upon the culmination of knowledge and instinct, or the analysis of various forms of information retrieved by the senses into one presentation.

I am not 100% sure whether I interpreted this passage correctly. I am a bit confused about his statement that many presentations combine to make up one presentation. Does this mean that many presentations culminate to form one presentation? Furthermore, what exactly is he referring to when he uses the term presentation? Does he mean the way in which things in the environment are positioned or something else?

Effects of Schooling on Identity

In his Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant discusses what makes up identity. He suggests that identity comes from self-consciousness and that self-consciousness arises from a combination of ideas that a person calls their own. This combination of ideas arises as a result of understanding how things are related. This seems to mean that the more people relate different ideas in the same ways the more similar their personal identities.

So how does this factor into schooling? Schools are institutions in which students are taught to make connections in a specific way. For example, we learn relations between letters and words, colors and objects, reprimands or rewards and actions, etc. Everyone is taught to make these same connections. Furthermore, many schools are restrictive and do not allow for deviance. For example, in math class, a student may discover a new way to solve a problem, one that is different from the way the teacher explained. Although the student came up with the correct answer, the teacher reprimands the student, or takes points off a test because it was not the “right” way to solve the problem. This reinforces connections the teacher made earlier between the idea of correctness and her method of solving the problem.

I believe this shows the limiting effect of schooling. It creates fewer differences between the ways in which people combine their ideas and therefore fewer differences in identity.

Construction of Perception

In Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant discusses how people are able to perceive different objects and determine how those objects exist relative to other objects. Kant determines that in order to truly perceive that an object exists, one must synthesize their different presentations to create a more holistic perception.  Continue reading