5 Feb 2009

Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, The Transcendental Aesthetic, §4

The Critique of Pure Reason
I. Transcendental Doctrine of Elements
Part 1: The Transcendental Aesthetic
Section 1: On Space

§4 "Conclusions from the Above Concepts"

Something must first exist before we may intuit any of its determinations. Thus no determinations of a thing are intuited a priori. But, we saw that space is intuited a priori. Thus no thing has space as an inherent property. That is to say, space is not a property of things in themselves. Without subjectivity, there is no space.

Exterior things appear to us by means of our outer sense. They appear in some form. Space is no more that the form allowing exterior things to appear to our outer sense. That is to say, space is the "subjective condition of sensibility, under which alone outer intuition is possible for us." (177a) Now, before we may have intuitions of outer objects, there first must be a receptivity to them. Hence "the receptivity of the subject to be affected by objects necessarily precedes all intuitions of these objects." In this way, appearances' form is given a priori as a pure intuition. We have it in our minds before all actual perceptions, and this a priori pure intuition of space determines objects even before we experience them. (177a)
We can accordingly speak of space, extended beings, and so on, only from the human standpoint. (177ab)
The only way space has any meaning is when it is subjectively intuited. Space is a predicate only of objects that appear to our sensibility. Space belongs to things of our senses, not to things themselves. (177b)
Consider two claims:
1) 'All things are next to one another in space.' This is only true when we limit the claim to objects of our sensible intuitions.
2) 'All things, as outer intuitions, are next to one another in space.' Thus this claim is universally and unconditionally valid.
So we can distinguish two ways that we conceive space:
a) For objects to appear to us, they must be intuited as spatial. This is the reality or objective validity of space.
b) We might however also use our rational faculties to wonder about the actuality of space for things-in-themselves. This is the ideality of space.
Thus we can be sure of the empirical reality of space, but the transcendental ideality of space is nothing outside the subjective grounds for spatiality. (177d)

Space is the only a priori subjective representation of external things. So we may derive synthetic a priori propositions only from the intuition of space. Also, we cannot obtain a priori intuitions from such sensations of colors, sounds, tastes, and warmth. These are not qualities of things but are rather "alterations of our subject" [affections] that differ for each person: "a rose, counts in an empirical sense as a thing in itself, which yet can appear different to every eye in regard to color." (178b) However, the transcendental concept of appearances in space reminds us that
1) nothing we intuit as being spatial is a thing-in-itself, and
2) space is not a form proper to anything in itself, rather
3) we never know objects in themselves, and
4) All outer objects are no more than our sensibility's representations. Their form is space. And they have a true correlate: the thing-in-itself. However, we cannot cognize the thing through the thing-in-itself. (178c)

From the text of the Meiklejohn translation:
SS 4. Conclusions from the foregoing Conceptions.
(a) Space does Space does not represent any property of objects as

things in themselves, nor does it represent them in their relations to each other; in other words, space does not represent to us any determination of objects such as attaches to the objects themselves, and would remain, even though all subjective conditions of the intuition were abstracted. For neither absolute nor relative determinations of objects can be intuited prior to the existence of the things to which they belong, and therefore not a priori.
(b) Space is nothing else than the form of all phenomena of the external sense, that is, the subjective condition of the sensibility, under which alone external intuition is possible. Now, because the receptivity or capacity of the subject to be affected by objects necessarily antecedes all intuitions of these objects, it is easily understood how the form of all phenomena can be given in the mind previous to all actual perceptions, therefore a priori, and how it, as a pure intuition, in which all objects must be determined, can contain principles of the relations of these objects prior to all experience.
It is therefore from the human point of view only that we can speak of space, extended objects, &c. If we depart from the subjective condition, under which alone we can obtain external intuition, or, in other words, by means of which we are affected by objects, the representation of space has no meaning whatsoever. This predicate is only applicable to things in so far as they appear to us, that is, are objects of sensibility. The constant form of this receptivity, which we call sensibility, is a necessary condition of all relations in which objects can be intuited as existing without us, and when abstraction of these objects is made, is a pure intuition, to which we give the name of space. It is clear that we cannot make the special conditions of sensibility into conditions of the possibility of things, but only of the possibility of their existence as far as they are phenomena. And so we may correctly say that space contains all which can appear to us externally, but not all things considered as things in themselves, be they intuited or not, or by whatsoever subject one will. As to the intuitions of other thinking beings, we cannot judge whether they are or are not bound by the same conditions which limit our own intuition, and which for us are universally valid. If we join the limitation of a judgement to the conception of the subject, then the judgement will possess

unconditioned validity. For example, the proposition, "All objects are beside each other in space," is valid only under the limitation that these things are taken as objects of our sensuous intuition. But if I join the condition to the conception and say, "All things, as external phenomena, are beside each other in space," then the rule is valid universally, and without any limitation. Our expositions, consequently, teach the reality (i.e., the objective validity) of space in regard of all which can be presented to us externally as object, and at the same time also the ideality of space in regard to objects when they are considered by means of reason as things in themselves, that is, without reference to the constitution of our sensibility. We maintain, therefore, the empirical reality of space in regard to all possible external experience, although we must admit its transcendental ideality; in other words, that it is nothing, so soon as we withdraw the condition upon which the possibility of all experience depends and look upon space as something that belongs to things in themselves.
But, with the exception of space, there is no representation, subjective and ref erring to something external to us, which could be called objective a priori. For there are no other subjective representations from which we can deduce synthetical propositions a priori, as we can from the intuition of space. (See SS 3.) Therefore, to speak accurately, no ideality whatever belongs to these, although they agree in this respect with the representation of space, that they belong merely to the subjective nature of the mode of sensuous perception; such a mode, for example, as that of sight, of hearing, and of feeling, by means of the sensations of colour, sound, and heat, but which, because they are only sensations and not intuitions, do not of themselves give us the cognition of any object, least of all, an a priori cognition. My purpose, in the above remark, is merely this: to guard any one against illustrating the asserted ideality of space by examples quite insufficient, for example, by colour, taste, &c.; for these must be contemplated not as properties of things, but only as changes in the subject, changes which may be different in different men. For, in such a case, that which is originally a mere phenomenon, a rose, for example, is taken by the empirical understanding for a thing in itself, though to every different eye, in respect of its colour, it may appear different. On the contrary, the

transcendental conception of phenomena in space is a critical admonition, that, in general, nothing which is intuited in space is a thing in itself, and that space is not a form which belongs as a property to things; but that objects are quite unknown to us in themselves, and what we call outward objects, are nothing else but mere representations of our sensibility, whose form is space, but whose real correlate, the thing in itself, is not known by means of these representations, nor ever can be, but respecting which, in experience, no inquiry is ever made.

Summary based on:
Kant. Critique of Pure Reason. Eds. & Transls. Paul Guyer and Allen Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Full text taken from:
Kant. Critique of Pure Reason. Transl. J.M.D Meiklejohn.
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