« Philosophize This!

Episode #057 ... Kant pt. 2 - The Actual Introduction

2015-05-11 | 🔗

On this episode of the podcast we continue our discussion of Kant, this time focusing on his contributions to the debate between rationalism and empiricism . We begin by reviewing the major points of contention between the rationalists and empiricists regarding how we arrive at knowledge. Next, we learn about Kant’s “eureka!” moment, which arose from his discovery of a major assumption made by empiricist David Hume. Finally, we find out why Kant believed that we can never truly know the external world as it actually is, an idea which calls into questions basic concepts like space, time, and causality and goes well beyond the “veil of perception” discussed in previous episodes. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!

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Hello everyone, I'm Stephen West. This is philosophies this. I want to apologize for the scarcity of episodes. Recently, it's just a bunch of crazy stuff going on from here right now, stuff that well, depending on how you look at the world, it's either one hundred percent, my fault or zero percent. My fault, you know what folks it's not about assessing blame, it's about being a miserable person like me, in all seriousness, I think it's over I'm. Finally, in a place now, where I have Reliable internet connection think everything's fine, but this tornado of misery has been writing. In tandem with something else. It's been ruining my life, my wisdom, teeth, trust me. I know it's got to be some pun there that I'm missing, given the nature of the show getting my wisdom, teeth, removed, I'll leave it to you on twitter anyway. If there's one thing I want to say is that it there's a piece of advice. I can give any youngsters out there that are listening to the shell. Listen up if your pair,
are planning on. Not getting your wisdom teeth out for some sort of financially prudent means. I would highly highly recommend. Doing something extorting them in some way, perhaps kidnapped one of your siblings, demanding ten million dollars and ransom. That's how much it costs. Apparently. You know what a mess around with your wisdom teeth, like all dental thing, it's just gotta, listen to the dentist right, it hurts for me to speak right now. Every time I open my mouth, it hurts. Anyway. I stop complaining that the only reason I'm bringing it up is because I want you to bear with me. I have an appointment, I've surgery, surgery to get them out on Tuesday. I will be working as hard as I can up until are so there's no delay in the episode, but I've heard that some sort of refractory period, where you eat, lay on the couch in pay
begging for death. It's gonna be three days in my life when I'm gonna just be all alone, unproductive, tweeting out stuff, while hopped up on vicodin. So so you can look forward to that. I just ask for your patience. Okay, I love you guys. Thank you for your understanding. As always- and I hope you love the show today, one interesting thing to consider about even the most brilliant people that have ever lived is that many of them. Spend years and years of their lives in a state of complete confusion about what would eventually become their area of expertise. You know it's funny. You think back to someone like in a manual caught Liken Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton and it's easy to project onto these people this this air of invincibility right? These are two things I can't, as someone that was like a philosophical prodigy know: somehow he was just a boy and with the ability to revolutionize, not, but in vain
even someone like Con spent many years of his life in a state of limbo, really baffled just baffled about how to move forward with anything. I want to take you back in time for a second to the earlier years of cons career when he was bought. A young man from a poor family living in Russia is very much interested in philosophy. He was reading a bunch of it. He had put out work on it. He spent much of his life writing on various things in the realms of science and philosophy. But if you read what he was writing during this period in his life, something was missing from it. He's kind of all over the place when to was fundamentals. If you read his earlier work, you'll see that you know the stuff sounds very kantian at its core, its filled with all sorts of fortune,
to foreshadowing do ideas that he talks about later and his more influential works, but whenever he starts talking even for a moment about epistemology will, depending on which work your reading from the guy, he switches back and forth between a couple three different ideas. He was confused, but then something happened to a manual caught. He tells a story to explain what happened to. Nobody knows how, literally we should take this anecdote by caught. Nobody knows whether this action, Happened or whether it was just a metaphor or a parable or some story that he made up then again, if you're Immanuel content, you're making up a story about yourself, I think you make up something a little more cool than this. It's kind of a boring story. I mean it's like making up that your dad invented Toaster strudel Why would you ever make that if you're gonna make something up about yourself would be something much cooler than this It's a manual can't is sitting in this state of confusion, one day searching for answer, searching for clay
he was re reading a work by David Hume when he was struck by something struck. Intellectually, you wasn't physically struck by something he was struck. Intellectually, he said quote I freely admit that it was the remembrance of David whom, which many years ago, first interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave my investigations in the field of speculative philosophy, a completely different direction. End quote Mine is a here this. That count is re reading David, whom, when he has this Eureka moment, think about that. He had already read Hugh it already. Whatever he could from the first time around, and he was still confused about stuff, and it was only after going back and reading them again, that he had this insight,
That would literally change everything. It would change the way he looked at the world, the trajectory of its future thinking and as it turns out. Yes, it ends up changing philosophy itself. You know there's something to take from the sanic, don't if, for example, you're somebody that feels stuck if you feel stuck on a particular subject that you've been thinking about for years, if you're someone that feels like you've exhausted every resource, that's available to you when educating yourself in a particular field and you're still confused about it. This is a good lesson to take from can sometimes the answer may be you? Sometimes you may want to go back. Sometimes you may want to reread things that you've already read in the past, because you know who knows, for whatever reason, when you read it the first time you weren't in the right frame of mind to receive- maybe you weren't feeling well that day, maybe you
were just too young and naive to realize the wisdom of it back then, which brings me to the point of this episode and really the point of this entire podcast. I want to tell you about a man named Jesus Christ. I'm just kidding that'd be funny, though right like what, if this entire podcast is just a giant covert means of converting you guys to Christianity anyway, In all seriousness, what have contact number gone back and re read: he'll, see Humes commentary on causality in all these assumptions that we make about the things that we see interacting in the world as humans. This was a game changer for cod. Because it was by reading that that he realized, even the great David, Hugh, even the great sceptic himself. If you wanted to find assumptions in an argument, this guy was like SIRI can't realize even David. You making a massive assumption all along. What was that assumption? Well, let's talk for a second just real briefly, to set the context of
this divide that we're all very aware of that existed prior to a manual count between rationalism and empiricism. Let's talk about it for hundreds of years. There was this scandalous and kind of complicated relationship between people when it came to how we arrive at knowledge right, a schism between rationalists and empiricists. They didn't always get along, in fact, sometimes they hated each other. Sometimes they just met in a dark alley. They all started snapping. Looking. It's very weird eye contact with each other and they started doing one of those dance fight scenes like in west side story. They didn't agree on some stuff right, but the point is that, like the rival factions in West Side story, aside from all their territorial differences, no they didn't wear the same color bandana.
There are actually remarkably similar in a lot of ways. I'm sure you guys of either had this thought over the years or you ve heard someone have this thought when you're talking to them about this great divide between rationalism and empiricism. Why does it need to be one or the other? Why can't we all just get along like? Can it be? Why can it be a combination of the two rationalism and empiricism and it's a good question, but in reality, basically none of these people that we ve talked about Their side of the argument really thought that the other guys were completely wrong like if you weren't empiricist you, you surely understood the value of reason when it came to drawing conclusions about the world and vice versa, the question to them was which is more imperative.
which was more important as a requisite to knowledge, which is a better means of arriving at knowledge. Of course, there are more extreme viewpoints on either side. You guys know not trying to characterize all of rationalism in a single sentence or it, but the arguments that are at the core of this debate are the ones we ve heard on this punk ass before on one side up people at Plato, right who talk about total knowledge of the universe being innate programmed into us right. He talks about how the process of what we think of as learning is really just a process of remembering all the things that we already know by virtue of them being programmed into us before birth. Remember the story we talked about with Socrates and the slave boy that he teaches the basic ideas of geometry. Do you remember that story? in the story on what rationalist claim is that the sleeve hadn't ever experienced anything to do with geometry. Before
there was no experience in that slaves, life that would equal all the knowledge of geometry. That Socrates is branded the table read, but he had never seen or smelled or touched the things that Socrates was showing him yet somehow he was able to use his reason and arrive at the correct answer as if he already knew it. Socrates wasn't teaching him new ideas here. He was delivering new ideas like a midwife, delivers a baby to someone like Plato. It was obvious than that reason was a much more important tool when it came to arriving at knowledge. Of course, you know the rest of the story, Plato seen as a irrational Lisbon itself, But then, on the other side of that people, like you write, custom, is the great guide of human life. Reason in his work takes a subservient role, She acknowledged, as a people, do use their ability to reason and it is very important, but ultimately
all knowledge at least initially comes from experience. I mean you can't just magically conjure up new ideas with this mysterious thing called reason. You know these people would argue that the slave boy from the story isn't really unearthing new ideas. When Socrates is drawing all the squares in the dirt and ask him questions about it. Just through his life as a slave he's encountered concepts before concepts, like addition and subtraction, and the number four and all the other tools he'd need to reason to the correcting in in that context, and now, when Socrates is showing the stuff in the dirt he's just using these tools that he already had, he already initially gain them through experience and he's using them on a new project. I e that the squares that Socrates is drawn in the dirt. The point is Hume's, not arguing that isn't using his ability to reason he's arguing that least, initially the slaves knowledge was born of experience, not reason. Now a common argument rash list in this case Well, if everything is truly derived from some experience that I've had, then how can I
imagine things that I've never seen before. How can I can imagine things and I ve never directly experienced right like I can. Imagine a chair. That's made entirely out of kittens right. This idea obviously isn't something that I've experienced directly before. How do you explain that the common argument back to that is, you have experienced it actually you've experienced kittens and you've experienced chairs and now you're just conflating the two are combining the two you're creating a complex idea by combining these two concepts that you've experienced in the past. Now. That's kind of a cartoonish funny way of saying about the more serious philosophical implications of that is that when people like Descartes or Spinoza or Leyden its arrive at some funding. Until truth about the nature of the universe and then from here. They construct an entire system on top of it, using this thing that they have called reason that they used to arrive at these quote new ideas that have to be true. It's very tempting
I think that they ve arrived at something absolutely true they're both empiricists would say is that the aren't actually arriving at anything completely foreign to their experiences. This system that they ve created, is just a creative conglomeration of things that they have experienced in the past, which, by the way, explains why many of the things they talk about a mutually exclusive, but anyway, this argument and go back and forth all day, and it did come to think of it in many days many years. Actually, the point is, none of these people were extremist right. They all understood the men. Of the other side of the argument. They just thought that either reason or experience respectively was more important than the other and again, if you're, someone on the empiricist side of things, like David Hume, think of how tempting this would be. Imagine how tempting it would be to feel like empiricism is the answer to arriving at knowledge. I mean considering the scientific,
revolution that he was immersed in considering the very real improvements in the lives of the average citizen that came from a method that use empirical observation at its core. It's a far cry from the centuries of speculation that came before him. It would be so tempting, but then along came count right. Along came a manual count see one day in the seventeen hundreds. A long time ago, Emanuel cop was sitting down thinking about this very topic that we're talking about right now me and you, and when he was sitting down thinking about it, he realized that even the great David Hume, the great skeptic himself, had been making a giant assumption. I could just think of this conversation happening. I can just imagine the two of them talking talking to David him about this. Well, if Cont ever left his basement in his entire life, making just a matter
Dave yeah come over here, help me with something I think I'm confused. I see as far as I can remember, maybe I'm wrong. As far as I can remember, there's no seminar that we all went to right after we were born right. There's no Tony Robbins weakened extravaganza on the nature of space and time that we all attended right after we left the wood that I missed right. So isn't an interesting David him that you think that all knowledge is ultimately derived from experience and yet you talk about things like causality and this chaotic message phenomena all interacting with each other, as though you appealing to something that's exterior to yourself. Isn't that interesting. But where did that come from Mister Hugh? When did you experience? Something that taught you about? The existence space. On that same note, how could you even know do expect to have a concept of? I were concept of something being theory or to you at all. If all knowledge is
derived from experience. Where did you learn to make that distinction David? You in fact, when you think about it caught says: how is it even possible That distinction so think about it. For someone to arrive at knowledge about anything in the external world, any conclusions they arrive it they would first need to know that it was outside of them to begin with, but how can you identify where you end in the outside world begins with already knowing about the concepts of you and the concept of the side world in this way caught thinks it there's no explanation other than the fact that the concept of space is something that we as humans are familiar with, prior to experience of any kind or uncool philosophical language a priori. Now it's right here that we can see what we were talking about before right. It's here, we can begin to see this
nexus between rationalism and empiricism right caught looks at how we arrive at knowledge. Look, he largely agrees with him. He definitely thinks experience is an important element when it comes to arriving at nought, but is it everything that's the question that he's asking caught makes the argument that it can't be everything it has to be a key combination of experience and certain a priori intuitions at the mind, much like the concept of space, and what does all this mean? Well, aside from finding an assumption that even David Hume was making after a dedicated so much time in his life, defining assumption that kind of funny to me, it's the philosophical implications that you guys want to hear about right. Think of what this means: people, the concept space. This fundamental aspect of the way that we perceive the wealth as fundamental as anything really whenever we
Steve, our house or our dog, or a tree or anything for that matter. We attached to that tree this property of it having space right. We understand that tree at least partially in terms of the space that that tree occupies, but the property of space is not something that were receiving through our senses. When we look at that tree, that tree isn't somehow projecting to us its property of space know what we're getting when we look at a tree is really just a flurry. A chaotic flurry of raw information. Billions of bits of data flying into our eyes and our ears and our nose all this information at this level. It makes no sense to us. Let me think about it. Have you ever seen a snow flurry? You know before all the crazy living situations I had in California. I lived in Alabama for a while and we would have these snow flurries in the winter. These big thick, snowflakes densely pouring down with winds coming from all directions. He live in a culdesac, the wind
bounce off the houses, it it's a mess and snowflakes would just spiral around and twist and tore. Nay. go through the air and at an inn? There's no rhyme or reason to any of that you're. Just look at this an extensive. It is just pure madness dancing through the air. What this is what the word would be if we lived in the world of David Hume, where all knowledge is truly derived from experience. What Kant is saying is that no that's not true. We have certain a priori principles of thought things that we didn't gain from experience that make it possible for us to make sense of anything in the external world. When we look at, three we are seeing the world as it truly is we're seeing the map of the world that are mine creates. After imposing these aims I'll write, organizing faculties of our mind under what we are sensing like space. I want you to think of it this way, because this is how can't explicitly talks about it. There are two worlds are right: our bodies in the text.
In a world and what he means by that is that you will never experienced the world as it truly is right. You'll never experienced things in themselves that exist in our out there, somewhere outside of our experience of the world, now hold on notice. That's at face value. This goes way beyond what we talked about in the John Lock episode with the veil of perception right I'll say it again. There are two worlds one of them you're never going to see because it's out there somewhere else things in themselves, And the other one is the way that your mind depicts that world out there to you to make sense of it
the world in your mind, being that flurry of raw information gathered through the senses, transmuted into something sensible by your mind, scan doesn't care about what that true world out. There actually is. Actually that's that's kind of an overstatement, we might just say, can didn't care about that stuff, but in his work, cat doesn't spend much time with needless speculation about what the true world out. There is like all right leave that for people like Hagel Schopenhauer, you know Glen Haven or being two people that are yet to come, that were heavily influenced by Kant, but what cat does do is make a very important point to a human species that have been agonizing for quite a while about finding the best way to, No things about the world, and that point is this anything that we say we know about the world is really just us understanding. Some measurable facet regard
how our minds depict the world? Not the world itself, not things in themselves, so think about the gravity of this right. People talk all the time. About how important science and all these other things are as a means of arriving at more knowledge about the world, but can, I think, very rightly points out, but if that knowledge that we're striving for so diligently is even possible, one thing is for certain about it that knowledge is going to be intrinsically connected to how our minds work to how our minds make sense of everything. So once we arrive at that conclusion, it seems pretty obvious what to do next right find out as much as you can about how the mind works. How do we think? How do we No things at all. Are there any other a priori intuitions that our minds but to understand, This is why you see the names of his major works as things like the critique of pure reason or the critique of judgment. He's writing entire treatises describing differ.
Faculties of our mind, because he believed it was through understanding the mind itself, that we can understand things around us better, but there's more think of how he would this is, I think, at the other side accounts idea that you know the concept, that space is one method, that our mind uses to make sense of everything around us. The other big thing that this implies is that those things in themselves that we're not experiencing they may not have base at all. Just because I look at a tree right and I see it as three dimensional and I see it as something that takes up space. That does not necessarily mean that the thing that exists in the external world- the thing in itself, the thing that my mind is projecting as a tree. It doesn't mean that that thing actually takes up space. That would be an assumption That would be me predicting the way my human mind perceives the world, the world of my body on two things.
Who's in themselves, the external world may doesn't say these things, don't have the property spaces is pointing out to apply characteristics like we the things with our minds to things in themselves to something be on anything we can ever experience is just assuming way too much. It's dangerous! That's pretty pretty freaky right! We are looking at the things in themselves or may look out at the world. We're just looking at some depiction of the things in themselves that are mine creates that's useful to us. We don't even know if the things in themselves have the property of space. We have no idea what they're like and if you haven't already guessed when it comes to these these a priori things that our brains come with right off the factory floor, our stock brain being able to perceive space
Or that something outside of us exists, it's not the only thing that our brains come with. So, let's see if we can find more, what are some other things that we magically know from birth that can't be derived from experience. What other things do we somehow know we didn't learn from a weekend seminar before we ever experienced anything well time? Yes, we talked very briefly about that one last time how much some more fun how about causality. When we go about our lives in the world, we are constantly thinking of things in terms of cause and effect you wake up in the morning. You turn over. You got a crick in your neck. You look for a cause for that pain in your neck. You get a tummy ache. You look for a cause for that tummy ache, maybe eight something bad and you may be able to connect certain causes to other causes by having experiences in the world right, like maybe one day you eat something bad, you get a stomach ache next day. You eat something bad, you get a stomach ach and then multiple times and eventually arrive at the idea
Oh, my stomach hurts. There must be a cause. Maybe I ate something bad. You may be able to make those connections, but where do you get the notion of assuming causality to begin with? So in other words, like that's a terrible example actually, but I swore to myself as a personal improvement exercise, I would never edit terrible examples out of these things anymore. My point is yeah. You may, through tons of experiences in the world, arrive at at the idea that certain things commonly cause other things, but where did you the the notion that phenomena are caused by other phenomena at all. Why would you even think to find an association between two things? Where did you get that this is yet another category of the mind a pre programmed way that might make sense of the otherwise on sensible world? This is yet again something that our mind uses to make sense of things, and it would be a mistake yet again to project this quality of our mind onto the things in themselves, things in the external world.
Think about the implications of that. If the idea of cause and effect is just a way that our minds makes sense of things out there in the world, then much like the things having the property of Spain, Things in themselves may not have the property of causality things in themselves. To count may not have a to assume but they do have a cause is to protect the way our minds makes sense of the world under the external world. But this is ludicrous to someone like caught cause and effect exist as a part of our here. An experience this external world that we know nothing about is by definition beyond
human experience. You can imagine how cat must have felt about everyone's favorite cause to contemplate in the universe. You know what I'm talking about, or can you that's the interesting thing, or can you imagine one thing's for sure, as we move forward into the next few episodes we're treading through some murky water and the most baffling thing to me even now, even as I know what the next few episodes are going to be. It's baffling to me that there can be so much more to talk about with this, with cam, putting such a rigorous restrictions on what we can know at all. Thank you for listening I'll talk to you next time.
Transcript generated on 2020-09-30.