Re: Kantian transcendental idealism.

Is anyone interested in a refutation of Kant’s “Refutation of Idealism”, from his Critique of Pure Reason? I’ve recently written a paper as a counter against Kant’s attempt to maintain the existence of “objects outside of us” as a reconciliation with his Transcendental Idealism, and would rather enjoy starting a thread on the topic.

To be clear: I believe Kant’s Transcendental Idealism fails to distinguish itself from Cartesian Idealism in that it cannot posit beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of objects outside the mind.

Go ahead!

I’ll post some excerpts from the paper in the next day or two. Thanks for the response.

Does Kant claim to prove the existence of objects outside the mind beyond a reasonable doubt?

Yes, he explicitly distinguishes his brand of Transcendental Idealism from mere, or “Cartesian”, Idealism. He goes on to claim: “It still remains a scandal to philosophy and to human reason in general that the existence of things outside us (from which we derive the whole material of knowledge, even for our inner sense) must be accepted merely on faith, and that if anyone thinks good to doubt their existence, we are unable to counter his doubts by any satisfactory proof.” His “Refutation of Idealism” aims at proving the existence of things outside the mind. His Transcendental philosophy holds that these existent things are not knowable in themselves.

I’ll start the thread as soon as my other two topics die down.

I am aware Kant argued for objective knowledge. But I don’t remember that he stated anywhere that “beyond a reasonable doubt” was his standard of evidence.

I am taking “satisfactory proof” to mean “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”. Perhaps I’m speaking imprecisely, however.

I don’t know. I am Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. When you raised this question occured to me that I don’t know how certain he was of his own conclusions. I don’t think he would have considered that he had absolute truth. And he couldn’t claim statistical probablity. Maybe you’re right about the reasonable doubt standard. I have only encountered that defintion in legal contexts.

Haha. I thought you might have meant that. Still funny nonetheless.

It was one of my profounder pronouncements. :laughing:

Sounds interesting. I have never read much Kant but it seems to me that rather than questioning the existence of external objects, we must postulate external subjects. The gain is not to encompass more, but to rule, direct more.

I’m not sure I follow: do you mean to imply that the existence of subjects outside the self must be affirmed, lest we succumb to solipsism?

No, not in the sense of an ethical commandment -
rather, to explain the dynamics of experience.

We seem to have refuted the “thing in itself” by the proposition of the all determining subject - but, as Kant notes, there must be something to provide for a continuity of the subjects self-experience. Where Kant apparently concludes from this that there must be thing-ness as a structure for space-time, I rather contend that we need a multitude of willing perspectives operating on each others to create such a continuum.

Ah, I follow. That’s actually a rather original thought; have you tried developing it? It would lead to a radical break with Kant’s conception of a space-time continuum, for his necessitates the existence of enduring objects against which, and through which, we can come to understand our own mental states as changing and therefore as belonging to a “self” in “time”. To replace the enduring object with other fluid, changing subjects is to upset the traditional understanding of the passage of time: but, then – perhaps this is desirable. Perhaps we need a new conception of time, of space. One that does not itself allow of fixity, of linear passage, of strict continuity; rather, one that is as ever-changing and ever-elusive as the passing of mental states themselves. We might be able to conceptualize such time as a continual birthing and perishing of moments, an eternal recurrence of moments, if you will. Anyway – just my brief brainstorm, for this is the first time I’ve ever considered such a philosophy.

I’m glad you think so. I’m considering that every perspective, under all observable circumstances, “does its best” (“works” to its capacity) to manifest - to “present” itself to other subjectivities, in what, upon successful relating (entanglement) becomes the outside world. Unwittingly, at first - simply by the logical fact of selection and persistence of those species of matter that behave in this way, - but by its consistency accumulating and by accumulating, increasingly consciously, because it was the same ‘method’ as what we call cognizing to begin with! Seen like this, it is only natural that nature became conscious of itself, in man. And is this not what we are looking for - a causal explanation that is at the same time a reason? A reason as a cause, this alone makes real sense, does not explain nature away as some kind of impenetrable phenomenon.

As nature increased in intra-relating structure, somewhere along the line it made a strange move - nature tied herself in a strange knot. Man, the most advanced product of nature so far, began looking inwards, he had invented objective meaning. Meaning as precisely the opposite of the world of appearing-wills itself - metaphysics is as anti-natural as such a qualification of nature is possible. A complete reversal of the values held by nature while spawning itself into manifestation.

The inversion of all this was the invention of inherent objectivity, thing-ness. In two and a half thousand years this has led us to the understanding of this turning inward as an act of incredible courage - mad, ridiculously bold experiment by nature to open up a new field of expression, an experiment that went horribly astray at first, but bred through pressure and time what may seem as an inevitable consequence of nature turning inward - the capacity in nature to destroy itself from the inside out. There appears a childishly simple logic leading from the Platonic ideal to the atomic bomb.

I’m beginning to wonder what kind of life Plato lived. The turbulence of it must have been beyond our wildest imagination.

But back to the main issue - I though of this only after reading your post here and then reading the wiki-article on this issue. I would like to develop it, and have been looking for corroborating sources. So far I have found something very archaic, written in the twenties by an occultist, Dion Fortune:

[size=92]Let us
translate this statement into other terms. It is an occult maxim, which is, I believe,
confirmed by the researches of Einstein, though I have not the knowledge necessary to
correlate his findings with the esoteric doctrines, that force never moves in a straight line,
but always curve vast as the universe, and therefore eventually returns whence it issued
forth, but upon a higher arc, for the universe has progressed since it started. It follows,
then, that force proceeding thus, dividing and redividing and moving at tangential angles,
will eventually arrive at a state of interlocking stresses and some manner of stability; a
stability which tends to be overset in course of time as fresh forces are emanated from it
into manifestation and introduce new factors with which adjustment has to be made. [/size]

Imperfect as she admits, but this becomes especially interesting if we replace ‘force’ with ‘perspective’. This is interesting to me because it provides what you might call an esoteric (from within) insight into energy, adds an way of thinking a about how the entanglement of forces occurs. This rationale might even reveal something useful about the nature of gravity - as a phenomenon literally following from (our) perspective.

And how natural that sounds! A conception of a totality of space-time becomes impossible - which is nice because the idea of totality was always a fallacy and a distraction - we need only be concerned with occurrences relative to each other. Not only does this effectively cut off the possibility of tyrannical metaphysics, it may - and this is of course crucial - give some insight into the domains so far closed to scientific observation.

Your notion of the eternal recurrence did not escape my attention, by the way -
I must say I am ambivalent toward this concept. As a method of consciousness-alteration (affirmation) I admire it, as a scientific derivation (infinite time and finite mass results in eternal recurrence of the same) I think it is questionable.