Transcendental aesthetics - Philosophy of Science

Transcendental aesthetics

This is the section of the Kantian system in which the a priori mechanisms , present in the most sensual experience are analyzed. Aesthetics , in contrast to the modern meaning of this word, Kant calls in the "Critique of Pure Reason" the doctrine of sensory cognition. The concept of transcendental refers to the conditions beyond the limits of experience for the possibility of this experiment. What does this mean?

Our sensory experience seems to us "just" the result of the impact of external objects on our senses. We do not notice, and in principle could not have noticed that we bring something into it from ourselves. The a priori synthesizing mechanisms of our perception are not themselves perceived. However, without them experience would not be possible, for experience is the synthesis of sensory perception data according to some a priori principles. Without them, experience would not be knowledge, but a set of perceptions.

The normal human experience is inherent in some forms that are a priori introduced into it by the subject. All impressions of the outside world represent perceptions of things in space and in time. Maybe in the future, on distant planets, in the depths of the Earth or the World Ocean, mankind will observe the most unexpected phenomena. But, no matter how unexpected they may be, we can predict that they will occur in space and time. And since we can not imagine anything outside of time and no external thing outside of space, Kant concludes that there is a priori nature of space and time.

But does not experience teach the baby that all things are located in space? No, Kant says, "the idea of ​​space should already be given in advance, so that these or other sensations were related to something outside of me (ie to something else in space, and not where I I am), and also so that I can represent them ... not only as different, but as being in different places. ... the external experience itself is made possible by the concept of space [4, p. 130]. ​​

Space and time - are not concepts, but a priori forms of contemplation. More precisely, space is a form of external feelings (that is, a form of perception of something as being outside of us), whereas time is a form of inner feeling, which means the organization of all our inner experience as a stream of experiences that follow one another. We perceive everything external in sequence, and all our inner experiences consistently.

Let's also pay attention to the fact that space and time are exactly the forms of contemplation. They determine not the content of these or those sensations, but only the general form of their organization. A priori forms of sensuality function simultaneously with acts of perception, synthesizing the diverse data of sensory perception into forms of space and time. Due to this it turns out that all objects perceived by us have certain spatial characteristics. For example, they are three-dimensional. Thus, the a priori forms of sensibility, defining the nature of our perception, determine the object of our perception.

That is, the source of the universality of the statement All things are located in the space is an a priori form of sensuality-space, which is equally inherent in all people (Peter and Ivan), and this source of universality lies not in the world, but in our way of communicating with the world through a priori forms.

At the same time, Kant argues that the cognizing subject is capable of "pure, extra-sensory contemplation." He calls contemplation pure when it is free from the elements of sensuous givenness. But what exactly is contemplated in the act of pure contemplation? - The very form of possible objects of sensory contemplation, i.e. spatiality and temporality as such. Evidence that the cognitive subject really has this ability is, according to Kant, the mathematical sciences-arithmetic and geometry. Kant is convinced that these a priori sciences, unlike philosophy, which operates with concepts, are able to represent their object in contemplation. But this is pure , insensible contemplation, and not contemplation of empirically existing objects. Such contemplation is the construction of the corresponding object. Take, for example, the statement: "The triangle has three sides". It is a priori (because the triangles that geometry talks about are not empirical objects encountered in the experiment) and synthetic (because in the notion of a triangle a figure is thought to have three angles, and nothing more). This a priori synthetic assertion is possible due to the fact that we have, as it were, built a certain triangle in front of our minds, and therefore we know that it can not be built except on three sides. That is, constructing such an object, I create this condition, in which individual single triangles can only be thought of. And at the same time, we built it as a concrete single object (more precisely, it is a scheme for constructing an arbitrary triangle!) And therefore we can contemplate it and formulate synthetic and necessary judgments about it. Geometry is based on a priori contemplation of space, and arithmetic is based on a priory contemplation of time.

Let's summarize the preliminary results. Kant's transcendental aesthetics show that the sensory experience has a complex structure. It can not be regarded as a simple result of an external object's impact on our senses. Of course, external objects affect our sense organs, but the knowing subject remains a passive registrar of these influences. The subject acts as a unity of passivity and activity, receptivity and spontaneity.

However, since space and time are forms of our sensory perception, we have no reason to assert that things in themselves, regardless of our consciousness, are located in space and are consistent in time. Therefore, Kant emphasizes that contemplation gives us only phenomena, not things in themselves: Everything that can be given to our senses (external - in space, internal - in time), we behold only as it is to us, and not as it is in itself ... [5, p. 101]. Hence it becomes clear why arithmetic and Euclidean geometry are applicable to the cognition of the external world. After all, these sciences, according to Kant, formulate the laws of the same coordinate grid through which we organize the variety of sensory impressions we received in the familiar three-dimensional reality.

So, Kant opposes the phenomenon and the thing in itself. The thing itself (sometimes say "thing in itself") is independent of our perception. It exists outside consciousness. Kant argues that things in themselves exist. The variety of sensory impressions, from which our knowledge of external reality begins, is not at all the product of the knowing subject. He does not pull them out of himself, like a spider-web. No, things in themselves somehow affect our perceiving apparatus. Nevertheless, in every act of perception, the entire a priori apparatus of the knowing subject is involved, and therefore the perceived object carries within it the structure of this a priori apparatus. The a priori form of perception is simultaneously the necessary form of any possible object of perception. The conditions for the possibility of experience are thus the conditions for the possibility of objects of experience. By virtue of this, we have no reason to hope that the phenomena are similar on things in themselves. We are given things as objects of our senses outside of us, but we do not know anything about what they are by themselves, but we know only their phenomena, that is, representations, which they produce in us, influencing our feelings [5, p. 105].

Kant's teaching shows us how complex the structure has experience. Therefore, the identification of knowledge, given through experience, with a posteriori knowledge is wrong. But it was precisely on this identification that classical empiricism was based, and subsequently positivism.

However, according to the Kantian doctrine, experience has an even more complex structure, because in its formation, the mind also participates with its own a priori structures. The section of the Kantian study on a priori structures of the mind is called transcendental

logic. This logic, in turn, is divided into transcendental analytics and transcendental dialectics.

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