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Chapter 6. The Classical German philosophy



6.1. Kant’s philosophy

The Classical German philosophy was one of the most prominent pages in the world philosophy compatible with that of the Ancient Greece. Its founder Immanuel Kant (1724 ─ 1804) was one of the most outstanding New time philosophers. All his life he has spent in Königsberg and its vicinities in East Prussia. His outer life unlike the inner one was poor with events, during all his life he taught different subjects in the local Königsberg University. Still being a student he wrote his first scientific work. It was dedicated to the dispute between the followers of Descartes and Leibnitz about the form of kinetic energy. The first proved that it’s proportional to speed, the second – to the square of speed. The young Kant suggested a compromise decision, asserting that in some cases it’s proportional to the speed and in others – to square of the speed. He didn’t know that at that time there existed already the correct kinetic energy formula Å=mv²/2 found by d’Alembert. Another of Kant’s early works was dedicated to proof of the fact that because of the oceanic inflow the rotation of the Earth suffers a regular delay.

At last in 1755 his “General Natural History and Theory of the Sky, or an Attempt of Interpreting the Structure and Mechanical Origin of All Universe Proceeding from Principles of Newton”. The treatise consists of three parts. The first part has an introductory and descriptive character. The second contains the theory of the heavenly bodies and the star systems’ formation. According to it, emergence of the world proceeds perpetually. Having begun once it will never end. Some worlds perish, others are born. Our universe also should be lost. It is not one single of this kind, there are many others similar to it. The third part is dedicated to our Solar system and contains as well the "experience of comparison of various planets’ inhabitants ". Kant was convinced that the reasonable life happens frequently enough in the universe, though not everywhere, in the same way as on the Earth blossoming oases and deserts unsuitable for a life existence. There exists as well direct dependence between remoteness of a planet from the Sun and spiritual abilities of its inhabitants. The greater it is, the less is the density of its material and thereby quicker all processes including the mental ones go. That’s why in comparison with inhabitants of Mercury or Venus some of our Greenlanders or Gottentots would seem Newton and on the contrary inhabitants of planets more removed from the Sun would look at our Newton as we look at a monkey. Kant’s other works of this period are dedicated to the problems of logic, metaphysics, ethics and are completely in that time tendencies’ frame.

But these all are minor Kant’s works. His chief book, the treatise “Critique of Pure Reason” which put an outset to the German classical philosophy appeared only in 1781 and opened a principally new stage in his creativity the so-called ‘critical stage’. In this stage main works of Kant (besides the mentioned “Critique of Pure Reason” such as “Critique of Practical Reason” “Critique of Judgment”) were published. The “Critique of Pure Reason” represents epistemological theory of Kant, the “Critique of Practical Reason” ─ his ethical and “Critique of Judgment” ─ his aesthetic system. The common foundation of all three critiques is contained in the “Critique of Pure Reason”. The “Critique of Pure Reason” is a difficult work, first time after its publishing very few people could understand it and in order to explain it Kant wrote the so-called “Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics Able to Appear in the Sense of a Science” where in a popular form expounded basic ideas of the “Critique” [6, p. 65 – 106].

The main problem Kant stood before beginning of his philosophizing was whether the metaphysics as a science is possible. This set was under influence of Hume’s “Essay on Human Understanding” which according to Kant’s own words had woken him from "dogmatic sleeping". Other two questions were how mathematics and natural sciences are possible. The analysis begins with division of all statements on aprioristic (before experience) and aposterioric (after experience). The problem of metaphysics consists in whether sapid (asserting something new, non-trivial) aprioristic theories are possible. Kant answered affirmatively. An example can be the statements of mathematics which precede other sciences and generally speaking the experience in usual meaning. Other example is represented by the theory of cognition as well preceding experience. The latter according to Kant does turn out to be the metaphysics in the sense of science.

Kant also suggested discerning things-in-themselves (i. e. things as they exist by themselves independently on our perception and cognition) and phenomena (appearances of things to us). We can perceive only the latter, things-in-themselves are inaccessible for us. It was his means of solving the subject-object interaction problem in the process of cognition. Cognition begins from perception. The aprioristic forms of perception are space and time. Whether space and time exist in the world of things-in-themselves we do not know. And can’t know. Mathematics exists as a science of these aprioristic forms (arithmetic as the conception of temporal forms and geometry as that of spatial ones). Generally speaking Kant following the tradition having its outset still in Neo-Platonism singled out three components of cognitive activity:

n perception;

n intellect;

n reason;

every of which isn’t passive but active. Thus the perception’s activity is represented with three operations:

n ’’grasping’’ or reducing of odd sensual data in united image;

n ’’reproduction’’, i.e. reproducing this image in memory;

n ’’apperception’’ or recognizing it by meeting something similar.

These three operations make the experience to be possible. They however give only an image but not a concept or idea in frame of which any human cognition occurs. The elaboration of concepts is the function of intellect. The latter creates them by means of the following groups of categories:

n quantity categories (measure, plurality, wholeness);

n quality categories (reality, negation, limitation);

n relation categories (substance, cause, interaction);

n modality categories (possibility ─ impossibility, existence ─ non-existence, necessity ─ eventuality).

Lastly the reason ascribes laws to the elaborated by intellect concepts connecting them together into the holistic system of knowledge. For example we pushed a vehicle, it went up some distance and stopped. The perception perceives and fixes ah image of the movement, the intellect works out necessary concepts of mass, force, speed etc., in frame of which representation of the movement is made and the reason puts them together giving out a law like that F = ma - Ffr (the second Newton’s law).

The reason can be directed into two directions: outside towards the world of phenomena (in this case it gives natural sciences) and inside towards its own ideas. In the latter case it is the so-called pure reason (the reason oriented on itself, whence the title of book), it leads to antinomies or paradoxes. Kant put up four pure reason’s antinomies in which both the direct and the contrary statements can be proved. They are:

I. Direct. The world has limits (outset) in space and time.

Opposite. The world has no limits (outset) in space and time.

II. D. All in the world consists of simple (indivisible) elements (some sort of atoms).

O. No simple elements, all is complex (i.e. can be divided to infinity).

III. D. There are free causes (spontaneity) in the world.

O. No spontaneity, only the natural determinism is.

IV. D. In the line of causes there is the prime cause (the cause of its own,

i.e. some absolute being or God).

O. No such absolute being exists.

In the first two antinomies both the direct and the contrary statements are false, because reasoning gets out beyond its proper employment domain. In the third and forth both statements are true. Thus in the third antinomy if we consider the only phenomena’s world (without reason itself) there is no spontaneity and only deterministic laws input by the reason which doesn’t recognize anything else have place. But the reason itself is free and independent on these laws (input by it) and therefore if we take into consideration the reason adding it to the phenomena’s world we’ll get freedom and spontaneity. The similar has place in the forth antinomy. There is no absolute being (the prime cause) in the phenomena’s world but the reason itself that ascribes causal laws to this world is this prime cause (source of any causality and therefore the absolute being) for this world. Thus the reason in Kant’s philosophy occupies the place of absolute being or God. The latter also was put into the base of Kant’s ethic and is known as the so-called moral proof of God.

The reason itself can be directed also onto its bearer’s behavior prescribing him in the same way as in the case with the outer world rules and norms. These norms are ethical ones and the reason will be already the practical reason the ground for ethic. Its prescriptions an individual perceives as some sort of inner voice. It’s the voice of conscience or using Kant’s terminology the so-called categorical imperative. The word ‘imperative’ specifies its ordering character, ‘categorical’ ─ its mode of expressing by means of the reason’s categories. It manifests itself as the idea of duty. The feeling of duty according to Kant is the outset to any ethic. The only action based on duty can be treated as moral one. The action committed for a purpose cannot even if its purpose is the happiness of all humans. Happiness ─ said Kant ─ is not reason’s ideal but that of imagination. The reason’s ideal is a universal law. ‘Do so for your will’s maxim [the best of your behavior] could become the principle of common legislation’ wrote Kant. The inner voice prescribing man what to do and perceived as the feeling of duty is according to Kant the highest regulator that occupies the place of God (therefore the above proof of God was called moral). In his later works Kant however recognized the importance of love for the moral life. The highest kind of love according to him is the love to duty.

The aesthetic theory of Kant can be formulated across the antinomy whether tastes are discussible. ‘Tastes differ’ said a proverb, i.e. tastes are not discussible. But on the other hand they are always and everywhere actively discussed. How to be? The answer given by Kant is the following. Tastes are not discussable in terms of intellect but only in those of reason.


Natural sciences REASON INTELLECT PERCEPTION   Aesthetics


Reason prescribes its norms not only to concepts of intellect but to the images of perception as well. If the images correspond to these norms they are perceived as beautiful, if they don’t, they are perceived as ugly. Accordingly the beauty is correspondence of things (their images) to aprioristic norms of reason, the ugliness is absence of such correspondence. In case of the natural sciences the movement of thought goes along the line ‘reason ─ intellect ─ perception’ (as it was described above), in case of aesthetics ─ directly from reason to perception. The things are not appreciated in concepts of intellect (such as ‘extent’, ‘mass’ etc.) but in those of the reason’s norms (the beautiful, ugly, high, great, genius, harmony and so on). Thus we do not speak that a girl is beautiful because her nose is ten centimeters long but because of harmony of her face’s features. If the beautiful is something corresponding to the reason’s norms then the high is something there is no norm to, when the reason encounters the problem of its norms’ incommensurability to this something. Thus a landscape can be beautiful but an abyss or a crag are high because of their incommensurability to any norm or stereotype of perception. The beautiful and fine differ from the touching which doesn’t belong to the sphere of aesthetics at all. The feeling of touching results from an instantaneous braking of our emotions with their further bursting anew.

The norms of the beautiful and fine are not innate; they are elaborated during the process of culture evolution and imparted to a person in the process of upbringing. The talent is capacity to create things corresponding to existing norms of the beautiful, the genius is capacity to create new norms themselves [6, p. 65 – 106].



Date: 2014-12-21; view: 1977

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