To those who dislike/disagree with Kant...

…where and why does he fall short?

In my experience, most people claim that Kant’s moral philosophy is (nearly) sound, but everything else is far from it. I have not read enough Kant to form a solid opinion, but from what I can tell, a lot of his work seems contradictory or, generally speaking, confusing because Kant himself was unsure of what he was saying. I guess the source of this confusion comes from his interpretation of the mathematical world, but regardless, I’m curious about your opinions.

I read (and reread with aid of commentaries) Critique of pure reason about 25 years ago and I gotta tell
you I have never read any writer who is worse than Kant and I have been told by Germans, he is worse in German
then in English. How is that possible is beyond me." Horton hears a who" is a far more philosophical book than
anything Kant wrote. Hell, the telephone book is far more philosophical then anything Kant wrote. Read about Kant, only
in one of those commentaries people like to put out to make a writer more accessible.


lol I love how I have to hear about bullshit philosophers every time I come to this site, and the few that had some legitimate contributions to philosophy or science, are regarded as some kind of lepers. Kant had his limitations, but for an example, lets quote

Steven Pinker:

Seems to me, thats true. Seems to me, that people just don’t ‘get’ Kant, in a lot of his work, he makes suggestions which are born out by modern science, to either be true, or a slight offshoot of the truth.

Kant made his contributions, and we should respect them accordingly. (Which is a lot more than can be said of plenty of philosophers talked about on this webpage worshipped as minor dieties)

Kant was a cognitive psychologist, before cognitive psychology even existed. Its beyond impressive, really it is. Still, he had serious limitations, like most philosophers.

Step: 1. Find a bridge
Step 2. Jump off.
Step 3. Get up and find taller bridge
Step 4. repeat step 2.

No, but seriously, thats an absurd comment. (Well I haven’t read Horton hears a who, maybe its a hot bed of philosophical insight)

Kant made a lot of good suggestions.

How is that possible is beyond me." Horton hears a who" is a far more philosophical book than
anything Kant wrote. "

C: Step: 1. Find a bridge
Step 2. Jump off.
Step 3. Get up and find taller bridge
Step 4. repeat step 2.

K: after reading Kant for a year, I seriously, I mean seriously consided this.

C: No, but seriously, thats an absurd comment. (Well I haven’t read Horton hears a who, maybe its a hot bed of philosophical insight)

K: How can you comment about a book you haven’t read?

C: Kant made a lot of good suggestions."

K: feel free to tell me them. After a year of studying, I got nothing from him.


In my experience, all the Categorical Imperative really does is shoehorn all the difficulty of moral decision-making into the proper (subjective) phrasing of a maxim. Once you’ve one that, the answer is usually obvious.

Like, take racism. Obviously, the world would be just fine if we all treated Eskimos like crap. So, “We should all treat Eskimos like crap” passes the C.I., but maybe “We should all treat races we don’t like like crap” doesn’t, and certainly “We should all treat each other like crap” doesn’t. So, I think it’s a nice rule of thumb, but I don’t know that it actually represents a full bodied moral system. That said, there’s miles between disagreeing with a philosopher and saying they’re crap. I wouldn’t mind sucking like Kant sucks.

The categorical imperative is rather dubious, as is his fantasy about noumena and a “thing in itself”

And which philosophers would those be I am curious to know, I did not know anyone worshipped any philosopher as minor deities. Since most here most likely don’t believe the should worship any man, only regard what is true.

I like to think that Kant just needs a (as-yet-to-be-construed) proper interpretation. Something that allows the whole philosophical community to say “Ah, that’s got to be what he meant”.

One thing I’ve wondered about Kant lately (and I’ve been meaning to start a thread on this) is whether his noumena/phenomena distinction is meant to be interpreted as an example of one of his antinomies. He set out to show the limits of pure reason after all. Many interpret this to mean that reason cannot lead us to know, understand, or even conceive the noumena. These same interpreters (or most of them anyway) go on to scoff at Kant for having conceived of it in that very supposition.

But is it possible that this appearant contradiction was what Kant meant for us to take out of his argument all along? I mean, if he’s showing us the limits of pure reason, and if he’s interested in antinomies, then maybe he’s doing more than just showing us that reason can’t give us the noumena, but that in leading us to conceive of it, it contradicts itself - that is, reason concludes that there is noumena yet says of it that it cannot be conceived. So reason is not only limited but inherently flawed.

Could this be what Kant wanted to show the world?

Please allow one of the great unwashed ignorami to talk about Kant even though we may lack your self-acclaimed expertise.
“The style is the man.” Mark Twain once wrote that writing containing many “which” (or other dependent) clauses is messier than getting tangled up in a typewriter ribbon. Only a masochistic scholar can fine tune Kant-speak so as to be fully cognizant of what he was trying to say. His three-page, single sentences serve up a mulligan stew of concepts rethought or revised comparable to the legalese necessary for describing tax forms.
Neitzsche in “Twilight of the Idols” (Kant and Hegel) offers clear refutation of many of Kant’s ideas. See Walter Kaufmann’s “Discovering the Mind” for a clear description of this issue.
IMHO, “The Critique of Pure Reason”, if it was an attempt to see if metaphysics could survive reason, was essentially an attempt to save the Church’s authority on cosmology from the then “mathematical certainty” of Newtonian physics.

Look i’m not claiming Kant was infallable. I gave you a quote by a great scientist saying that his research in linguistics was largely predicted by KANT though. He made cognitive science theories, if nothing else, which came out in the future to be VERY VERY close. Thats more than most philosophers ever do.

One example of a philosopher whose talked about endlessly here like some kind of god is Neitzsche, another one is Freud, though we could call him a psychologist I guess. Theres others.

unless a bunch of people are just interpretating his words in the wrong way (which is certainly possible) he made suggestions that sounded a lot like primitive cognitive science.

If Kant talked about abstract organizing frame-works built into the mind, but not actual like, ‘knowledge’ in the traditional sense, he made a contribution to THINKING, which few philosophers *EVER make. It might be outdated and twisted, but its a lot more than what most philosophers suggest.

WE have entire sciences based around exactly those organizing frame-works today. So either its misinterpretation, or Kant had his brilliant moments.

I agree Cyrene, Kant did have some brilliant ideas. The ‘transcendental ego’ being one of them.
Also his critique, or rather clarification(?), that the empirical sciences need a pre-organized data interpreter (the mind) to make any sense is quite right. He is, as Cyrene has said, a very early cognitive psychologist.

I know he is extremely difficult to read, yet he has been enormously influential.
Without Kant, we have no Schopenhauer, without Schopenhauer, we have no Nietzsche.

The “transcendental ego” is one of the dumbest ideas to come down the pike. Nothing transcends; things grow and develop. The butterfly is an extension of the worm, not a transcendence of it. Check out Goethe on this!

Kant’s conception of apriori intuition does not meld well with modern physics. The idea that space and time are intuitions of the mind that condition experience is contradicted by relativity. That is, since we know that space curves and interacts with gravity, and we know that time is relative based on one’s speed Kant’s theory is disproved.

The categorical imperative does not work in cases where we need moral codes the most. This much was shown by Sartre in his example of an of age man who has a choice between going to war or staying at home and caring for his sick mother. If he chooses to stay home, then he is treating his peers as means, if he leaves his mother then he is treating her as a means. This goes not only to the heart of the most famous part of the categorical imperative, but exposes a flaw in the very idea that moral codes need to be universal. There is no universal code throughout philosophy and religion that can point the young man in the right direction.

Assuming the juxtaposition is between Kant’s apriori intuitions and something like Chompsky’s LAD, I see very little similarities. In a very very very broad sense they may have a commonality in that that they both seek to understand experience/learning in terms of “dispositions”, but these dispositions are radically different. Kant’s intuitions is a retooling of the way we conceive basic epistemology and ontology as such. It is not the thing that makes the representation possible, but precisely the opposite, it is the representation that makes the object possible. The mind is the active element in the equation. Whereas, something like Chompsky’s LAD, is passive. It suggests that we are predisposed to learn language, but takes no active part, it is still the experience that acts on the mind. It just so happens that the mind is structured so as to acquire this experience at a heightened rate and in a specific way. It assumes the ontology and a refined form of the epistemology that Kant wanted to overthrow.

That is an interesting juxtaposition, but is a very sympathetic reading.

This is true, but I wonder if we can say that our naive understanding of space and time (i.e. that it is linear and absolute), however erroneous, is innate. I’ve never seen anything wrong with the notion that some knowledge or concepts can be innate - evolution theory allows for the possibility - but I understand that our naive assumptions of space and time, if innate, don’t count as bona fide knowledge (since they’re wrong). So we may not be able to call it apriori but neither can we call it posteriori (since we don’t learn it from experience). In either case, it may be appropriate to call it innate.

Assuming that I am correct in taking what you call “naive understanding” as not being Kant’s intuition, but a kind of Naive realisim, I am unsure if we could call it innate. I think an important point to note is that nobody does or can experiences the curve of gravity or the relative nature of time, just as we never experience a table as a billion billion atoms. I think all three are learned from experience, and I don’t think that experience teaches us incorrectly in that regard. Error, assuming the point of view of science, would enter when we become reflexive, when we think about our experiences, and assume that they are somehow an accurate representation of the fundamental nature of being(whatever that means). That given, I don’t think it is incorrect to say that a table is a single unit, as opposed to a billion billion atoms. Each is an explanation from a certain point of view, and neither ought to be taken as a claim to the fundamental nature of “tableness” or ontology in general.

I think the naive realist concept of space and time as static is bona fide knowledge, to call it anything else would be to subjugate the way we experience things to a distant and never practical scientific understanding. It would alienate the way we understand existence from the way we experience existence, which is patently absurd.


That is not to say that one has to be a naive realist, but rather, if one is going assume “things out there”, that does not mean that transcendence has the final say over immanence.