What is space? Kant's answer is a head-scratcher: space is merely a form of intuition. Scott Edgar explains this rather perplexing answer in accessible, every-day language. He also lays out Kant's most famous argument for this view of space (the "Argument from Geometry"). Never before has it been so easy to get a handle on Kant's views on space!
Speaker: Dr. Scott Edgar, Assistant Professor, Saint Mary's University
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- There is a problem with Kant's argument; there is no real connection between geometry and space. Space is based on senses, whereas geometry is based on ideas. Geometry can sometimes be used to describe space, and the need to understand space may have prompted the creation of geometry, but space and geometry are not really the same things. Kant tries to connect them, but they should not be connected in that way. So one can say that while geometric knowledge is a priori, knowledge of space is empirical.(14 votes)
- I agree, but I think geometry is a hypothetical analogue of actual space, in which ramifications that seem logical (e.g. the infinite divisibility of each dimension.) have been at times accepted, and which mathematicians have used to establish arithmetical definitions.
What do you mean by "a priori"? All ideas are phenomena of animal (or biological in general) psychology, to be further understood, or not, as determined by what living things do. No one has ever given any valid reason to believe they exist, or even have meaning, in any other context. Take away the life forms and the ideas disappear with them, maybe or maybe not to be approximated by other life forms in the future.(4 votes)
- Why is Kant so beloved by philosophy majors? I once looked at the focus of grad students at Kansas State University,or was it the University of Kansas? Anyway Kant was a part of the focus of almost every single one of them.(5 votes)
- Kant is tough to read and so why is Kant beloved by philosophy majors? Reading his work is like solving a difficult puzzle - it takes work, but is rewarding in itself (it builds stamina) and because it sheds light on the contemporary philosophical landscape. He is often called the synthesizer of rationalism and empiricism - in fact, I believe he created the terminology of rationalism and empiricism. Kant is also important in light of Hume's philosophy.
Kant describes his own work as a sort of Copernican revolution in philosophy. Here's the analogy: Why are there seasons or night and day? In the Ptolemaic system the earth was static and was acted upon by other planetary bodies, whereas, in the Copernican system the earth plays an active role in creating night/day and seasons i.e. the earth spins and orbits the sun. In the same way, our minds are not just passive such that it only receives impressions of external objects. No, our minds have a priori (prior to experience) intuitions and concepts that give structure to our experiences and construct the world that appears to us. I think we almost take this for granted This is Kant's revolution so to speak.(3 votes)
- Why Kant says that the space has a geometry?
I know that the overall shape of a planet is sphere-like.... I can't understand his point.(3 votes)
- How did Kantians in the 1800s and afterward address non-Euclidean Geometry? I have strong issues with Kant's reasoning, since it implicitly relies on the assumption that Euclidean Geometry is the fundamental basis of spatial reasoning, where triangles inherently must all have angles which sum to 180 degrees. In non-Euclidean Geometry, there are triangles which ARE triangles yet do not have angle sums equal to 180 degrees. Same with mathematical reasoning of 5+7=12, which assumes Base 10 and some underlying logic axioms, but does not apply, say, to other number bases such as Base 9, or to clouds (5 clouds + 7 clouds may combine into 1 cloud). Did Kantians address these assumptions of Kant versus later mathematical developments? I hope Dr. Edgar addresses this in the next video on Kant. For a discussion of Non-Euclidean Geometry, see:
- Kant's Transcendental Aesthetic does not rely on any particular form of geometry. It only relies on the fact that the propositions of geometry are synthetic a priori no matter what kind of geometry it is.(3 votes)
- Why do some entertain the notion of "a priori"? Since none of us exist (as life forms) prior to experience, why would some suspect that our understanding comes independent of experience?
Those who defend "a priori" never show why it must be true. They assume certain basic ideas are "a priori" ideas, then go into the supposed ramifications. It's like with "God". Believers can't prove he exists and non-believers can't prove he doesn't. I don't accept "a priori" at all because it's a thought limiting assumption, a false dichotomy between experiential and abstract understanding, which are perhaps different degrees and mixtures of closely related psychological phenomena. In my opinion it does nothing much other than promote confusion (which for some might be a desirable aspect of it?).
Every species has its characteristic way of apprehending our world. But whether or not these characteristic ways are "a priori" is an entirely different matter.(0 votes)
- At1:34, speaker Scott Edgar claims, "Kant thinks our minds have a capacity to sense things and that capacity to sense things is what imposes our spacial structure on to the world." He doesn't elaborate. Do you think this means "sense" as actually another empirical apparatus? As just a filter/organizer for all our 5 sense empirical incoming data?(0 votes)