Knowledge, the Known and the Unknown

By Martin LeFevre

Immanuel Kant philosophy

Even when I was in grad school in philosophy, I stayed away from Kant. Most philosophers think of him as the Everest of Western philosophy; my instincts told me that his system is the Marianas Trench—all pressure with the illusion of depth.

Kant’s critique of his “Critique of Pure Reason” is enough to indict him as thought’s supreme egoist: “In this book I have chiefly aimed at completeness; and I venture to maintain that there ought not to be one single metaphysical problem that has not been solved here, or to the solution of which the key at least has not been supplied.”

For the unitiated (and everyone remains uninitiated to Kant’s convoluted philosophy), the following statement sums up his basic program. “How far we can advance independently of all experience, in a priori knowledge is shown by the brilliant example of mathematics.”

“A priori” means before observation and evidence. There is no such thing where thought is concerned. The idea that 2+2=4 is true before experience, and doesn’t depend on experience past, present or future is absurd. It is precisely and inextricably human experience that discovers and demonstrates mathematical and scientific truths. Perception of non-scientific truth has a completely different character.

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Via:: Costa Rican Times