KANT ON CREATION

seddon's picture
Submitted by seddon on Wed, 2013-04-03 13:47

All, or certainly most, Objectivists agree that Kant says we CREATE the phenomenal world. For the latest installment of this claim, see Peikoff’s THE DIM HYPOTHESIS, p. 33 where he talks about the mind “CREATING the world of space and time.” And a few lines later we read, “In the act of CREATING the latter, [the phenomenal world] our minds have cut themselves off from ‘things in themselves’ or the ‘noumenal world.’”

In my book, AYN RAND, OBJECTIVISTS, AND THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY, I have argued against all such readings. Recently I have come across support for my position straight from the horse’s mouth, i.e., Kant himself. In the oft cited letter of Feb. 21, 1772 to Marcus Herz, Kant addresses the question “What is the ground of the relation that in us which we call ‘representation’ to the object?” (KANT: PHILOSOPHICAL CORRESPONDENCE 71) By “representations” he means the categories, which is clear from the letter.

He considers several candidates, one of which is ‘creation.’ “ . . .if the object itself were CREATED by the representation (as when divine cognitions are conceived as the archetypes of all things). . .” that would be an answer to the question.

But he eliminates this possibility and concludes, “[O]ur understanding . . . is not the cause of the object. . .” (71) And “representations “do not bring the object itself into being.” (72).

Fred


( categories: )

Linz

seddon's picture

“... how does Kunt know if he's arrived at the truth if the object-in-itself, the real object, is unknowable?”
You have a bad premise here, to wit; that the noumena is unknowable. The noumena is knowable by us humans qua phenomena. It is not knowable to us humans as God (if there were a god, which there isn’t) knows it

“Again I ask, what do you, Fred, think was the point of his Copernican Revolution?”
In my words, I think the point of the Copernican Revolution is to deny Locke’s idea of he mind as a blank tablet, which contributes nothing to experience and replace it with a mind that actually contributes something (Kant calls this contribution, like Rand, the form of perception.) We contribute the forms of space, time, substance, causality etc. (Rand is not this specific—I recall Branden in 1966 saying that it really doesn’t matter in what form we perceive reality, the important thing is that we perceive reality). Here Kant is following up on what he stated in paragraph two of the Introduction, viz.,that although all knowledge begins with experience, it doesn’t follow that it all arises out of experience. We contribute something.
Sorry for the delay in answering this question—I just missed it.

Fred

Then ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... how does Kunt know if he's arrived at the truth if the object-in-itself, the real object, is unknowable?

Again I ask, what do you, Fred, think was the point of his Copernican Revolution?

Linz

seddon's picture

Small point first. I said to google ‘esse est percipi;’ you googled “perception is reality,” hence you getting Lee Atwater. I googled it again and got Berkeley, as I reported.

As evidence for Peikoff’s claim that Kant claims that “perception is reality,” you quote from p. 36 "For man, said Kant, truth is that which conforms to the requirements of our subjective minds." But alas, there are problems here. The quotation does not deal with reality and hence does not support that idea that “perception is reality.” It deals with truth. Truth is not reality. Truth, for Rand and all who accept the correspondence theory of truth, is a relation between propositions and reality. It is not reality.

Also, Kant accepts that theory. Here are two cites for you. At A58/B82 he asks, “What is truth? . . . it is the agreement of knowledge with its object.” And from A191/B236 he repeats the earlier quotation, “. . .truth consists in the agreement of knowledge with the object.” He certainly does not say what Peikoff says he says.

Fred

Fred

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Fred—you to me:


I agree with Ding-an-sich’s answer to your question “Who is the source of "perception is reality" Fred?” implying this it is Kant. It is Berkeley. This is a mistake. And not a hair-splitting kind, but a major error. Berkeley even gives it to you in Latin, “esse est percipi.” If you google it, Berkeley’s name and picture are what you will be treated to, not Kant's.

Actually, if I google "Perception is reality" I get some slimy political operative named Lee Atwater, which is entirely appropriate. Of course I'm aware of Berkeley's "To be is to be perceived" but he side-stepped the ludicrous implications of that statement by asserting that God perceives everything (see the famous tree in the quad limerick). It was Kunt who bestowed upon "perception is reality"-in-itself its historical license and filthy respectability.

I re-read p. 32f and could not find anywhere Peikoff claiming that for Kant, “perception is reality.”

"For man, said Kant, truth is that which conforms to the requirements of our subjective minds." (P 36)

Doug

seddon's picture

Actually I think you agree with me. Hicks point is that bad freedom is akin to bad objectivity. Yet I grant that. The point is that Kant is still integrating, but badly, which makes him a misintegration rather than a distintegrator. Yet Peikoff claims his is a D-mode thinker. And the M-mode doesn't destroy integration, it's an invalid integration.This is why Peikoff calls Plato one of the greatest integrators of all time--and he meant that as a compliment. I claim that whether Kant is an I or an M, he is an integrator on steroids.

Fred

Stephin Hicks made a similar argument

Doug Bandler's picture

Not much use if what we're integrating isn't real.

Stephen Hicks made this argument about Kant's epistemology in his 'Post-Modernism' book. He argued that Kant said that humans can be objective but that objectivity can not connect to the noumenal world. Hicks made an interesting analogy that went like this: say you are arguing for women's rights but you say that women must be forced to stay in the kitchen (hah!). But when you are criticized you say "but women are free, they are free to do anything they want in the kitchen. That's freedom!" Hicks says this is what Kant is doing with objectivity and this is basically how he destroyed it. Peikoff sounds like he is saying the same thing.

Linz

seddon's picture

I wrote, "Kant seems to be saying that not only do we integrate, but we love it when we integrate."
You replied, "Not much use if what we're integrating isn't real."

But notice one implication of your remark. It means that Peikoff is wrong about the Kant's mode; he's not a D but rather an M. Plato and Aquinas try to integrate what "isn't real." But they are both M-mode thinkers. So if Kant is integrating what isn't real, he is an M-mode also. This means that the neat assignment of the DIM modes to the "big three" collaspes. Now we need a different D-mode villian. Hm.

Fred

Linz

seddon's picture

I agree with Ding-an-sich’s answer to your question “Who is the source of "perception is reality" Fred?” implying this it is Kant. It is Berkeley. This is a mistake. And not a hair-splitting kind, but a major error. Berkeley even gives it to you in Latin, “esse est percipi.” If you google it, Berkeley’s name and picture are what you will be treated to, not Kant's. And if that’s not enough, you can get it straight from Kant in his ”Refutation of Idealism” section of the CPR, in which he mentions Berkeley by name. You are certainly correct to walk out on brain-dead colleagues, but don’t bash Kant for a position he simply does not hold.
You wrote about how valuable is Kant’s love of integration, “Not much use if what we're integrating isn't real. But even if I grant that, then Peikoff would be wrong to make him a D mode; rather that would make him a M mode, like Plato.
I re-read p. 32f and could not find anywhere Peikoff claiming that for Kant, “perception is reality.”
And I hope you don’t find my most recent post on Aristotle, Plato and Newton nitpicking. If getting Aristotle and Plato wrong about their mode (not to mention Newton) is nit-picking, I fail to understand what may be substantive. After all, there are the poster boys for the I and M modes respectively.

Fred

Linz

ding_an_sich's picture

"Who is the source of "perception is reality" Fred?"

George Berkeley

Fred

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Kant seems to be saying that not only do we integrate, but we love it when we integrate.

Not much use if what we're integrating isn't real.

Fred, what do you suppose Kant's "Copernican revolution" was all about?

I love Leonard's denunciation of Kant beginning on p 32. In my media career, I increasingly was supposed to follow instruction from marketing slime whose mantra was "perception is reality." These were loathsome maggots, whom I eventually walked out on and called "braindead." Every time they averred that "perception is reality" I knew they were about to announce some new dumbing-down in our presentations. Repulsive reptiles. Who is the source of "perception is reality" Fred?

If you want to "chew" I'm happy to participate. If you just want to hair-split and Peikoff-bash, I'm not interested. Leonard is offering an explanation as to why the lights of the West are going out. Academia doesn't allow that they are going out. They would claim that, since they're primarily responsible for extinguishing the lights. Is Peikoff onto something with his modes? I think so. I also think he's too late to save the West this time round. But next time, who knows?

Linz

seddon's picture

Here is my favorite quotation from Arendt on the knowledge/faith sentence from the Preface to the second edition of CPR.

Kant “stated defensively that he had ‘found it necessary to deny KNOWLEDGE . . . in order to make room for FAITH’ but he had not made room for faith; he had made room for thought, and he had not ‘denied knowledge’ but separated knowledge from thinking.” (Arendt, THE LIFE OF THE MIND, 14).

That is surely how I read the first CRITIQUE. And "faith" in Kant is never what "faith" means in O-ism.

Fred

Linz

seddon's picture

I came across this in Kant’s CRITIQUE OF JUDGEMENT, Section VI of the Introduction, p. 187-8 in the German. It just doesn’t sound like a disintegrator, does it. It sound like a guy in the I mode.

"It is a fact that when we discover that two or more heterogeneous empirical laws of nature can be unified under one principle that comprises them both, the discovery does give rise to a quite noticeable pleasure, frequently even admiration, even an admiration that does not cease when we have become fairly familiar with its object.”

Or to put the same point negatively:

“By contrast, we would certainly dislike it if nature were presented in a way that told us in advance that if we investigated nature slightly beyond the commonest experience we would find its laws so heterogeneous that our understanding could not unify nature’s particular laws.”

Kant seems to be saying that not only do we integrate, but we love it when we integrate.

Fred

Jules

seddon's picture

"But he eliminates this possibility and concludes, “[O]ur understanding . . . is not the cause of the object. . .” (71) And “representations “do not bring the object itself into being.” (72)."

Help. Who is the "he"? I couldn't find the quotations in Peikoff.

Fred

Yea

Jules Troy's picture

That did not sit well with me.  What got me interested was how using his formula to plot where for example the moon would be in 10 minutes time(I know a flaw right there he used time) he came up with the same answer as Einstein's formula.  Different formula and theory coming up with the same answer.  It is the location of bodies light years away that things go awry for Einstein hence modern day scientists coming up with "dark matter" to explain away discrepancies in "missing matter" and their actual size.  If nothing else hopefully he at least may act as a "spark" to an up and coming brilliant young mind in the near future (one fully rational and with extraordinary logic) that can solve these issues.  (Including where everything actually is in the cosmos since the Big Bang.)

If we ever in the near(most likely very far if ever) future are going to become space travellers  we have a long way to go if our theories are so out of context that target areas are "closer or farther than they appear!

Which brings us back to Kant and 

But he eliminates this possibility and concludes, “[O]ur understanding . . . is not the cause of the object. . .” (71) And “representations “do not bring the object itself into being.” (72).

Magnified immensely when one speaks of the universe as a whole...

He's crap Steve

gregster's picture

I do have sympathy for his time as an illusion, but not for his reasons, only in respect to it being a human creation.

From that link: His 1999 The End of Time advances timeless physics: the controversial view that time, as we perceive it, does not exist as anything other than an illusion, and that a number of problems in physical theory arise from assuming that it does exist. He argues that we have no evidence of the past other than our memory of it, and no evidence of the future other than our belief in it. "Change merely creates an illusion of time, with each individual moment existing in its own right, complete and whole." He calls these moments "Nows". It is all an illusion: there is no motion and no change.

Julian Barbour

Jules Troy's picture

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki...

This fellow has some fascinating research based on Machian theories that may be able to put to rest the whole dark matter conundrum.  From what I have seen he does not seek to replace SR but to fill in some voids that are at odds with quantum physics and string theory.

Origins of "space"

Marcus's picture

I've just been reading a book called the Etymologicon which has an interesting few lines on the topic:

"For example, he invented space travel, or at least made it linguistically possible.

The word space had been around for centuries, but it was Milton who first applied it to the vast voids between the stars."

Milton Origins Of Space

Fred

gregster's picture

“But there is no space in Aristotle's physics. Even my freshman know this.”

From the Lexicon ““Space,” like “time,” is a relational concept. It does not designate an entity, but a relationship”

Is Leonard merely saying that a “relational concept” is characterless? We know that Objectivism, Aristotle too, held the Universe to be a plenum. This means there is no void – no ‘empty space.’ Einstein meanwhile was reifying space – attributing physicality to a relational concept, giving it “character.”

Haha

Jules Troy's picture

SW has a talent for stringing the most copious amount of "wurdz" together without actually saying much of anything.  A most impressive skill indeed!  (No wonder they rejected his vitriol).

Linz

seddon's picture

How about this tidbit. I'm ussed to Peikoff reading Kant differently from me but how about this faux pas on Aristotle, the I mode man incarnate. On p. 117 he writes, "Einstein deduces that space is not characterless, as Aristotle has held. . ., But there is no space in Aristotle's physics. Even my freshman know this. How could he make such an elementary mistake? And what about p. 193 where he claims, "Aristotle observes six types of motion. . ." and he proceeds to list them. But there are only four types of motion in Aristotle. Peikoff's mistake is to list as three "substantive change, coming to be, passing away. . ." But substantive change is coming to be and passing away. See Aristotle's PHYSICS, 200a33 where he writes, "For what changes always changes either in thinghood, [substantial change], or in amount or in quality or in place. [Notice "place" not "space."]

Here's hoping you've recovered my your Comprachico nausea. Try reading Sartre. Tee hee.

Fred

Fred

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Well hurry as best you can. I would love to "chew" this book.

I also, as time allows, but I'll need to let it percolate first, and prior to that I'll need to finish it! I'm passed physics into education, which I had to stop reading because I felt sick all over again at the Comprachicos. I was already reeling from the wanton nihilism of modern physics, at least as Peikoff portrays it.

Linz

seddon's picture

Linz,

I found a real curious quotation from Harriman in DIM. The quotation is on p. 35. “In the eloquent words of David Harriman, a colleague of mine: ‘Kant isn’t pro-integration just because he punches reason twelve times in combinations of three punches.” Whatever this is, it ain’t eloquent. And what does it mean? Sure it’s a reference to Kant’s table of categories, which are organized into four groups of three. But how are we to cash out “punches reason?” Kant tells us that the function of these categories is to integrate a many into a one. (A77/B103) Is this bad? Aren’t we dealing with integration here? The only time Kant is against integration is when it involves an appeal to the supersensible (the P mode). See the “Transcendental Dialectic.”

Fred

Linz

seddon's picture

Well hurry as best you can. I would love to "chew" this book.

Fred

DIM is a Great book

gregster's picture

I liked the physics and education chapters, and all the others.

I'm re-reading it. The D2, M2, etc were a little disconcerting at first, and I haven't automatised them, but seen as shorthand it's understandable.

It's so far ahead (of me) in its summaries of philosophies that I couldn't comment on those sections until much work on my part was done.

That is why I discounted Shayne Wissler's bullshit review here (and so did Amazon), which stumbled at Peikoff's first sentence and was so wrong that I didn't believe he got further than page 4.

Edit: Having looked over Wissler's "review" again it's fairly entertaining.

Fred

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Regrettably my progress has been sporadic (pesky projects) and I'm only up to 125, the physics section. The intensity of the distillation in the pages of this book is giddying; I'm still mind-blown.

Linz

seddon's picture

I'm re-reading DIM for the second time as I'm preparing to give a talk on it at the West Virginia Philosophical Meeting in October, and I'm liking it much more than the first time. I now see that he is using the concept "integration" as both a genus and a species. That helped me.
What page are you on now?

Fred

wow

Doug Bandler's picture

I think this is the most brilliant thing I've ever read.

Wow.

I'm blown away by you being blown away by Peikoff. I am definitely going to read the book now. My guess is that Peikoff is right in his general approach and that it is brilliant. But it seems that he is wrong in its application; ie the Conservatives as greater threats than the Left. But I will see when I read the book. Do write some type of review when you finish. I am so curious now since you wrote the above.

Linz

seddon's picture

I do not yet find Peikoff’s book to be “beyond brilliant.” At best, I find it to be confusing. This could of course be my fault. Even Tara Smith claims that the book is “so difficult to understand.” (ix) I hope to benefit from discussion with you and others. I confess I completely forget Peikoff’s “batty conclusion.”

But let me give at least one or two examples of passages I find confusing before trying to answer the “creation” issue.

On p. 32 he tells us that, “As integrators, Plato and Aristotle are the peerless masters of the millennia.” Plato, a Peerless master of integration!!! So imagine my surprise, my shock, when Peikoff assigns Plato the bad “M1” designation. How can the “peerless master of integration” be a misintegrator? Confusing.

And as for Kant, anyone familiar with his first “Critique” knows that one of his favorite concepts is “synthesis,” [Verbindung] his word for Peikoff’s “integration.” As Caygill notes in A KANT DICTIONARY, “That knowledge may be referred to an originary act of synthesis [integration] is perhaps one of the most fundamental thoughts of Kant’s theoretical philosophy.”, The meanings are so close it’s scary. For example, on p. 70 (you’re probably up to that page by now) he uses the Greek concepts of the “One and the Many” to capture the essence of all 5 DIM modes. Kant defines “Verbindung” as follows: “the act of putting different ideas together, and of grasping what is MANY in terms of ONE act of knowledge.” (A77/B103) Yet Peikoff describes Kant as a disintegrator, as one who seeks a “many without the one.” (70) Are you kidding me?

Now to your comment. I fail to see how calling Peikoff’s book “beyond brilliant” answers my point about creation. My claim is the Kant never says we “create” the phenomena. Never. In fact, he denies it as early as 1772. Remember Kant’s problematic is “how can we have (synthetic a priori) knowledge of that which we DON’T CREATE. God creates the object in the very act of perceiving it (archetypical intuiton); but man is not God. To say that the answer to Kant’s question if that we create the object is to simply not engage Kant’s question.

Fred

Fred

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'm going to disagree with you here. That passage on Kant by Peikoff from page 33 to page 39 is beyond brilliant. "In Kant's philosophy, integration is the original sin of cognition; it is the thing that expels man from the Eden of reality."

Yes, I have embarked upon DIM against my better judgment, given its batty conclusion: that in politics one should vote Dem-scum across the board. I still say the conclusion is batty, but as of now (I'm up to page 65 only), I think this is the most brilliant thing I've ever read. I suspect in his own capacity for integration (demonstrated, for instance, in his lightning tour of the history of philosophy in this work), Peikoff is probably about 500 years ahead of his time. For all my vehement disagreements with him, I celebrate the fact that he has prospered, and hope he continues to do so. I believe he has the longevity gene; I hope he puts his remaining fifty years to as good a use as he has done in DIM. Of course, my enthusiasm may wane as I read on, but right now I'm blown away.

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