Immanuel Kant (all you ever wanted to know, and more)

Well, a friend of mine asked me to summarize Immanuel Kant in a few paragraphs.  Impossible task?  Not for a fool like me.   If anyone is reading this, and would like to help me make corrections, please do.

1.  Space and time are not inherent properties of the world, but rather preconditions of  experience.    It’s almost impossible for us to think of anything not being in time or space.  Imagine boundless space.  Imagine time indivisible.   It’s likely you can’t because they’re not inherent characteristics of what’s out there,  in the world, but because they are the basis of having any experience at all, and even knowing a world, according to Kant.    There may be reality beyond time and space, but we may never be able to know what it is, because experience is predicated upon time and space, and it is a part of our sensible intuition, not our intellects.  So we are not even aware it occurs.

2.  Ultimately, we can say that we have knowledge , but we can’t ever firmly begin at a beginning, and derive the source of our knowledge in the understanding, according to Kant.  Understanding is most important faculty, but’s it’s like a wheel in the sky, forever trying to figure out where its knowledge came from, forever unable to do so.  IT’s a turtles all the way down,  what’s the sound of one-hand clapping,  tree falling in the woods, kind of thing.

3.  It may be necessary to imagine, like Einstein, that we’re coming to know the mind of God, and that objects, like stars, are free from our knowledge of them, but this is not because we really be sure that God exists nor can we have absolute freedom.  Instead, it’s because these are part of the onboard equipment:  the ideas of reason.  Reason takes the form of three ideas: Freedom, immortality, and God.  which guide that wheel in the sky understanding toward GENUINE and the best knowledge we can have.

Scientists, feel free to disagree, or ignore this.  As a matter of fact, I trust that’s always an option.

**What I really like about Kant is that he resists any attempt to make his philosophy a part of any humanist or collectivist program.    There are very few “you should” arguments, or “we ought to” arguments, or you’ll “you’ll know God if” arguments, or the “revolution is just around the corner” arguments.  Most systems of thought are FULL of such arguments:  moral codes, unprovable theses, transcendant objects (heaven, the Platonic world of ideals, God).   If you want to avoid all of this for the time being, read Kant.

***What I really, really like about him is that he admits how little he has done.  Also, he recognized how little philosophy can do.   I would even go so far as so to say he could be wrong about some things.   At best, his system of thought can be used to avoid error, and get a good map, but that’s about it.  It goes on and on and on and on…..

Ok, that’s really it.  Thanks for reading.

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