Monday, February 27, 2012
Introduction, Parts I-III
Running behind, unsurprisingly. Here's a response I drafted Saturday to parts I-III.
In another aborted internet discussion of philosophy once upon a time between Carleton alums, with a philosophy Ph.D. student leading a discussion of Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents, I wrote a response to the first chapter that effectively consisted of, "okay, I get general idea X, but that seems obvious, and all of these specifics seem wrong." I can't even remember what it was, the leader of the discussion responded that basically I had conceded the major idea Freud was arguing for as his major premise, and the concepts I had taken issue with were effectively asides or illustrative anecdotes. In short, as I remember him putting it, it's now Freud's world and we just live in it.
In reading Kant's introduction, I feel like I'm in much the same situation. The thrust of the first three sections seems to be laying out a rubric for what can be considered a priori knowledge (or that which we know in advance of experience), and arguing it into a very small corner. Perhaps I should have started with Plato instead of Kant, as it appears that Plato is the foil with which Kant is jousting here, but my issue is that Kant doesn't go far enough. In short, he lays out certain principles such as gravity, which I would generally term scientific laws, and tries to carve out a small space for a priori knowledge along with what he terms the perfection of mathematics. My issue is that he carves out any space for a priori knowledge at all. I'm resisting the temptation to launch into my speculations about the epistemological origins of mathematics and its contingent nature because I've just started this project, but I'm not sure I believe that any knowledge can be considered a priori in the sense that Kant describes it. All that said, with my minimal background in philosophy, I suspect that I'm simply going along the road that Kant mapped out, and if that thought is true, I've already given Kant the victory over his primary targets in this space.