Background Importance And Essence Of Kant

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Background, Importance And Essence Of Kant’s “Copernican Revolution” In Philosophy Essay, Research Paper It is beyond doubt that Immanuel Kant is one of the most important and influential philosophers in the history of western philosophy. In the same vein, the assertion that his major work, Critique of Pure Reason, represents a turning point in philosophical thinking could hardly be refuted. In other words, it paves the way for a radically new understanding of what a “rational human being” is and, more importantly, how knowledge is derived. In my paper I will try to defend the thesis that Kant was particularly successful in justifying the assertion that in knowing, it is not the mind that conforms to objects but vice versa — it is objects that conform to the mind.

I will concentrate primarily on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and, only indirectly, on Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. First, I shall try decipher the hidden meaning of the term “Copernican revolution”. Second, I shall set out some of the background that is indispensable for understanding Kant’s philosophy. Third, I shall try to justify his efforts to put knowledge on a radically new and scientific basis. And, finally, I shall close my paper with several brief remarks. “Copernican Revolution” is a metaphor that Kant himself proudly uses to describe the intentions of his philosophical endeavor. Usually philosophers use this metaphor to demarcate a radical change made in the epistemological realm. Indeed, behind Kant’s intentions stands his ardent desire to

put metaphysics on a firm foundation. In other words, what he endeavors to show is that there can exist such a knowledge (cognition) which is based on a scientific and reasonable ground, not on dogmatic footing. Kant believes that such knowledge must be a priori, i.e. it should not be dependent on facts that happen to prove or defy it but on principles which yield new knowledge. What Kant means by that is exactly a priori synthetic knowledge. It differs from analytic a priori knowledge in that the latter does not produce new concepts; it only divides itself into parts that intuitively imply each other. For instance, the assertion “all physical bodies are extended” is a priori analytic because extension is contained in the nature of the very subject “physical bodies.” In

other words, every object presupposes extension and it would be nonsense to check all possible physical bodies to prove that. By the same token, it would be irrational to claim that this assertion gives us new knowledge. Indeed, it is experience that produces new knowledge and that is why all assertions based on experience are synthetic — the subject and the predicate are two different concepts and the one in no way contains or presupposes the other. An example of this kind is the proposition “If A happens, then B follows.” However, experience is finite and there is no logic in maintaining that knowledge can be based solely on experience because, in the long run, we acquire new knowledge without experiencing objects and phenomena infinitely. Thus we are certain of the

veracity of the claim that “all events have a cause” without necessarily having checked absolutely all events and their causes. Therefore, the question concerning knowledge that can and must be true in any particular case can be expressed in the following way: How are synthetic a priori judgments possible? However, since this is the quintessence of Kant’s philosophy it should be provided with adequate background before being rendered the proper attention. To understand Kant’s task it is necessary that one understand to what he was attempting to respond. Generally speaking Kant was trying to respond to the philosophical traditions of rationalism and empiricism, and to Newtonian science. As the first rationalist, Descartes turned philosophy towards the knower. This emphasis