Discussion of sections 6, 7 and 8 from the Transcendental Aesthetic, pages 69 to 84 of the class translation.
– the first thing the Kant wants to argue in his discussion of the pure a priori form of time is that it lacks both (I) existence by itself and (I I) that it can attach itself to objects as what Kant calls an "objective determination."
The point he wants to make is that time is not the kind of thing – more correctly, that it cannot be the kind of thing – that is still there in the world when we remove "all subjective conditions" from the awareness of time.
If argues Kant time were something in itself, in the world, it would have to be a thing that exists alongside other things and that would get back all the features that objects in the world possess. His point here is not that we do not in fact find anything like this but more, in a logical sense that we cannot imagine what it would mean to find such a thing, that the very concept of such a thing is inherently incoherent, that is not thinkable.
If, on the other hand, one were to argue that time attaches itself to things as an additional property, then we would be involved in either a circular argument or an infinite regress. The reason he says this is that if time already belongs to objects as one of their properties we would have to be able to discover it in the experiencing of the objects, which would mean we would already have to possess an intuition of time which is exactly identical to the a priori form of temporal intuition that Kant claims we already possess. The real point is that there is no point in calling time and objective determination things in the world because what we mean by that is that temporality is a prior condition which makes it possible to experience things in the world. Thus, if we add time to objects as a further determination we are adding something that is unnecessary and irrelevant. Again, were talking about an idea that Kant thinks is incoherent. What would time is an objective determination of objects be?
We conclude from all this, with Kant, that "time is nothing but the form of inner sense, that is, of our intuition of ourselves and of our inner state. Time cannot be a determination of outer appearances."
Here Kant makes the excellent point that we tend to represent the passage of time as a condition of experience using spatial metaphors, "exactly because this inner intuition supplies no shape."
Here Kant makes a kind of strange argument that one further proof that time is intuition is that we have to represented using another intuition, namely the outer intuition of space. I will not comment on the value of this argument.
Kant then goes on to argue for the superiority of the intuition of the time of the intuition of space, because time is the condition of both inner and outer appearances, while space can only represent outer appearances.
Can't do something interesting when he calls time "the immediate condition of inner appearances (or souls)." We'll come back to this later to discuss it further.
Kant then further makes some important points of clarification. When we talk about objects as they may be in themselves, something about which Kant wants to say we know nothing, then time is nothing at all. Time "is therefore merely a subjective condition of our (human) intuition (which is always sensible…)." But of course it also "has subjective validity with respect to appearances" or "objects of our senses."
We have to sort this out. Kant means, I think very clearly, that we can make testable true or false statements about the behavior of appearances in time, without ever suggesting or claiming that these statements cover anything more than appearances, or the objects of our senses.
Science can make universal and necessary claims about the temporal and spatial properties of appearances, and more importantly patterns of appearance. Science of course can say absolutely nothing about objects in themselves beyond appearance and beyond the subjective conditions of space and time.
Thus: time is empirically real, which means that time has "objective validity with regard to all objects which might ever be given to our senses." Further, "no object can ever be given to us in experience which is not subject to the conditions of time."
At the same time, "properties that belong to things in themselves can never be given to us through the senses." Therefore, time is "transcendental he ideal." That is, in itself, outside our intuition, "time is nothing, and cannot be regarded as subsisting or as an hearing in the objects in themselves (aside from their relation to our intuition)."
The subjective reality is completely missing to both space and time "except in so far as it is merely empirical, that is, insofar as the object itself is regarded merely as appearance."
In Section 7 Kant takes up objections the people have had to these claims. His main point here is that his is the only internally consistent theory, because it avoids the radical oversimplification proposed by idealism. Idealists want to say that there is nothing but thinking, nothing but ideas, while Kant wants to make the more nuanced claim that space and time in the ideas based on them are of course subjective conditions that had to do only with appearances, but he denies that this means that there are only appearances. He will admit that there are things in themselves beyond the reach of the senses about which we can have no ideas. On this level he's a realist, but an interesting one because he also says that we can make no claims at all, false or not, about what exists in itself beyond the way it is described by the senses.
General Observations on the Transcendental Aesthetic
Here, Kant reviews what he's been saying about space and time in the preceding sections. It's a good overview, and worth repeating.
The first thing he wants to remind us of is "that all our intuition is nothing but the representation of appearance" and that therefore, the things that we in suit are not in themselves what we intuit them as being, nor are their relation so constituted in themselves as they appear to us." Thus if we took away our subjective presence, there would be no space or time.
The final conclusion is "what the objects may be in themselves would never become known to us even through the most enlightened knowledge of that which alone is given to us, namely, their appearance." Kant is telling us here that we are aware of and in touch with objects other than ourselves but that the only way we can ever be aware of them is through the media of space and time which are subjective conditions of our sensibility. Therefore, no matter how carefully we examine the conditions of sensibility this will not bring us one step closer to understanding anything at all about the objects whose appearances as space and time we know. We cannot, therefore ever have a non-spatiotemporal knowledge or intuition of objects as they are in themselves outside the media of space and time.
Kant wants to object to the position that we have confused representations of what objects are really like, through the senses, and that if we clean these up and clarify them we will have some knowledge of what the world is really about. He wants to reject this completely. Senses are not confused at all. We may not have a clear perception of this or that thing, but clearing up the perception will mean that we have clear appearances, not that we have deeper understanding of the object as it is in itself.
He also takes up the question of the subjectivity in our sense of the word of appearances. Of course how people sense things varies a bit from person to person, and in marked cases we can pick out how senses operate differently, as in the case of colorblindness or astigmatism. But the point is we recognize and adjust for such local variations, and generally don't allow them to muddy the clarity of scientific claims about the character of appearances in general. This is why we set up experiments with such careful controls. Thus, there is an practice no serious issue about the relativity of perception because we are aware of and know how to control the variations of appearances, in order to get the results we want.
Along the way Kant mentions, as part of another argument that were not were not going to take up, because we don't need to, but one to which we might return later, the circumstances require, something that will be of great importance downline. He states that "the feeling of pleasure and displeasure, and the will" are "no knowledge at all." Will analyze this at greater length in class.
The argument I don't want to take up is based on the idea that in knowing objects through/as appearances, we always know them in relationships to other appearances whereas, if we knew them in themselves, we would know them without relationship to anything else.
Near the bottom of page 80 we get to something that is of equal, or perhaps even greater importance. The subject begins with the claim that "we must grant that the subject which is the object of this sense (the inner sense of time) can be represented by it only as appearance, and not SS subject might judge of itself if it's intuition were merely self activity, that is if it (the intuition of itself) were intellectual." Thus "what underlies this whole difficulty is how a subject can internally intuit itself…."
Let's work this out step-by-step. First if "the consciousness of itself is a simple representation of the I," that is, if "the manifold and the subject were given self actively," that is, if consciousness grasped itself immediately as it was in itself, rather than as an appearance to itself, then "the inner intuition would be intellectual."
Kant dances around and writes a lot of words but it comes down to this: the self "does not intuit itself as it would represent itself immediately and self actively, but according to the manner in which it is affected from within," and thus "into its itself as it appears to itself, not as it is."
For our purposes, this may be the most important single thing that Kant says. What he is claiming here is that we can never immediately grasp who we are. We know only the way in which we appear to ourselves, so that even the most intimate moment of inner self-knowledge we are completely and utterly and forever separated by our situation, that is by our embodiment, from directly apprehending ourselves as selves.
Cotton exit clear in the next section that he does not mean that the spatiotemporal intuitions of objects and self as appearances amount to nothing more than illusions. The way objects appear are for practical purposes the way they are. The same is true of the cell. He sums it up very well in this sentence: "I am not saying bodies merely seem to be outside me, or that my soul only seems to be given in my self-consciousness." "On the contrary, it is only when we attribute objective reality to those forms of representation that we cannot prevent everything from being thereby transformed into mere illusion."
Kant is therefore saying that there really are objects that are the authors of appearances, and is also saying that we can know nothing but the ways in which we are affected by these objects, even in the case of self-knowledge. Thus the world is filled with real things about which we can say a great many objectively true things about their appearances to us, but about which we can say absolutely nothing about how they are in themselves.
Kant interjects a possibly inconsistent paragraph about what we can think about God, but we'll come back to this later.
In the Conclusion to the Transcendental Aesthetic, Kant returns to the question that moved him in the first place, namely whether synthetic a priori judgments are possible. He answers the question in the affirmative because synthetic judgments a priori are not about things in the world beyond the senses but are about the relationships among appearances. Thus "such judgments can never reach beyond objects of the senses, and are valid only for objects of possible experience."
So yes we can do science, both about the world outside and about ourselves, but both sorts of science will be about patterns of appearances made possible by the presence of the subjective intuitions of space and time that we bring to the table of experience.