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Is This a Good Definition of Metaphysics?

 
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Oct, 2011 12:38 pm
@bigstew,
bigstew wrote:

Quote:
Metaphysics is the class of knowledge outside of sense data.


This confuses the metaphysics/epistemology distinction a bit. Metaphysics has to do with the very structure of reality. When you mention "knowledge" your treading on epistemology, and epistemology primarily focuses on the justification for what we "know". When you talk about what we can know outside of a empirical epistemology, the point at issue is justification for our beliefs. However, the point at issue with metaphysics is what constitutes reality e.g. materialism, dualism, monism, etc etc.



Thanks. Your explanation is very good. My definition is narrow. I recently re-read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and my definition was inspired by that.

Critique of Pure Reason is almost impossible for me to understand no matter how many times I attempt to read it. I did feel that Kant was trying to salvage metaphysics from its critics.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Oct, 2011 07:27 am
@wandeljw,
...I would enjoy to know what he (Kant) would have to say today now that some point out the possibility of time and space as probably being "phenomenal emergent constructs" (not of the mind) even further reducible to something else...what would be done of his pure categories of reason, eh ?
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Oct, 2011 08:20 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Yes. It seems that Kant asserted that the mind operates under time and space constructs.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Oct, 2011 08:45 am
@kuvasz,
Laughing
0 Replies
 
G H
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Oct, 2011 10:03 pm
@wandeljw,
Quote:
I did feel that Kant was trying to salvage metaphysics from its critics.

KANT . . . "But when all progress in the field of the supersensible has thus been denied to speculative reason, it is still open to us to enquire whether, in the practical knowledge of reason, data may not be found sufficient to determine reason's transcendent concept of the unconditioned, and so to enable us, in accordance with the wish of metaphysics, and by means of knowledge that is possible a priori, though only from a practical point of view, to pass beyond the limits of all possible experience. Speculative reason has thus at least made room for such an extension; and if it must at the same time leave it empty, yet none the less we are at liberty, indeed we are summoned, to take occupation of it, if we can, by practical data of reason.

"This attempt to alter the procedure which has hitherto prevailed in metaphysics, by completely revolutionising it in accordance with the example set by the geometers and physicists, forms indeed the main purpose of this critique of pure speculative reason. It is a treatise on the method, not a system of the science itself. But at the same time it marks out the whole plan of the science, both as regards its limits and as regards its entire internal structure."
--CPR, Norman Kemp Smith version, p24-25

KANT . . . "But as will be shown, reason has, in respect of its practical employment, the right to postulate what in the field of mere speculation it can have no kind of right to assume without sufficient proof. For while all such assumptions do violence to [the principle of] completeness of speculation, that is a principle with which the practical interest is not at all concerned. In the practical sphere reason has rights of possession, of which it does not require to offer proof, and of which, in fact, it could not supply proof. The burden of proof accordingly rests upon the opponent. But since the latter knows just as little of the object under question, in trying to prove its non-existence, as does the former in maintaining its reality, it is evident that the former, who is asserting something as a practically necessary supposition, is at an advantage." --CPR, Norman Kemp Smith version, p617

KANT . . . "Since the oldest days of philosophy inquirers into pure reason have conceived, besides the things of sense, or appearances (phenomena), which make up the sensible world, certain creations of the understanding (Verstandeswesen), called noumena, which should constitute an intelligible world. And as appearance and illusion were by those men identified (a thing which we may well excuse in an undeveloped epoch), actuality was only conceded to the creations of thought.

". . . Our critical deduction by no means excludes things of that sort (noumena), but rather limits the principles of the Aesthetic (the science of the sensibility) to this, that they shall not extend to all things, as everything would then be turned into mere appearance, but that they shall only hold good of objects of possible experience. Hereby then objects of the understanding are granted, but with the inculcation of this rule which admits of no exception: "that we neither know nor can know anything at all definite of these pure objects of the understanding, because our pure concepts of the understanding as well as our pure intuitions extend to nothing but objects of possible experience, consequently to mere things of sense, and as soon as we leave this sphere these concepts retain no meaning whatever."
--Section 32, Prolegomena To Any Future Metaphysics, Paul Carus translation
0 Replies
 
G H
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Oct, 2011 10:43 pm
@wandeljw,
Quote:
Fil @ wandeljw ...I would enjoy to know what he (Kant) would have to say today now that some point out the possibility of time and space as probably being "phenomenal emergent constructs" (not of the mind) even further reducible to something else

The natural order / phenomenal world -- and its future discoveries and explanations -- were subsumed and anticipated under Kant's system, along with methodological naturalism being endorsed:

KANT . . . "The enlarging of our views in mathematics, and the possibility of new discoveries, are infinite; and the same is the case with the discovery of new properties of nature, of new powers and laws, by continued experience and its rational combination." --Prolegomena To Any Future Metaphysics, Section 57

KANT . . . "Thus the order and regularity in the appearances, which we entitle nature, we ourselves introduce." --CPR, NKS, p146

KANT . . . "Natural science will never reveal to us the internal constitution of things, which though not appearance, yet can serve as the ultimate ground of explaining appearance. Nor does that science require this for its physical explanations. Nay even if such grounds should be offered from other sources (for instance, the influence of immaterial beings), they must be rejected and not used in the progress of its explanations. For these explanations must only be grounded upon that which as an object of sense can belong to experience, and be brought into connection with our actual perceptions and empirical laws." --Prolegomena To Any Future Metaphysics, Section 57

Quote:
Fil @ wandeljw): ...what would be done of his pure categories of reason, eh?
wandeljw @ Fil: Yes. It seems that Kant asserted that the mind operates under time and space constructs.

Space and time were pure intuitions of the sensibility, the faculty of receptivity. The categories were of the understanding, pure concepts as rules for combining intuitions.

Objects were given through the sensibility (in intuitions); they were thought through the understanding (via concepts); and the experience of them arose from judgments (concerning the synthesis of intuitions and concepts in the unity of apperception).

Thus the conclusion that the understanding could only work with what was yielded by the sensibility. When applied to things in themselves (spaceless, timeless) its general principles lacked any content to discern and manipulate:

KANT . . . "If by merely intelligible objects we mean those things which are thought through pure categories, without any schema of sensibility, such objects are impossible. For the condition of the objective employment of all our concepts of understanding is merely the mode of our sensible intuition, by which objects are given us; if we abstract from these objects, the concepts have no relation to any object.

"Even if we were willing to assume a kind of intuition other than this our sensible kind, the functions of our thought would still be without meaning in respect to it. If, however, we have in mind only objects of a non-sensible intuition, in respect of which our categories are admittedly not valid, and of which therefore we can never have any knowledge whatsoever (neither intuition nor concept), noumena in this purely negative sense must indeed be admitted.

"For this is no more than saying that our kind of intuition does not extend to all things, but only to objects of our senses, that consequently its objective validity is limited, and that a place therefore remains open for some other kind of intuition, and so for things as its objects. But in that case the concept of a noumenon is problematic, that is, it is the representation of a thing of which we can neither say that it is possible nor that it is impossible; for we are acquainted with no kind of intuition but our own sensible kind and no kind of concepts but the categories, and neither of these is appropriate to a non-sensible object.

"We cannot, therefore, positively extend the sphere of the objects of our thought beyond the conditions of our sensibility, and assume besides appearances objects of pure thought, that is, noumena, since such objects have no assignable positive meaning. For in regard to the categories we must admit that they are not of themselves adequate to the knowledge of things in themselves, and that without the data of sensibility they would be merely subjective forms of the unity of understanding, having no object."

--CPR, Norman Kemp Smith version, p291-p293
0 Replies
 
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Oct, 2011 04:44 pm
@wandeljw,
Quote:
Thanks. Your explanation is very good. My definition is narrow. I recently re-read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and my definition was inspired by that.

Critique of Pure Reason is almost impossible for me to understand no matter how many times I attempt to read it. I did feel that Kant was trying to salvage metaphysics from its critics.


Good for you. The CPR is a difficult book to read. |I think once I understood Kant's motivation for writing it I was better able to understand the logic of the CPR.

First, have you read Hume? Kant was basiclly responding to Hume's skepticism regarding empirical beliefs. Contrary to Hume's empirical skepticism about phenomena like cause & effect (necessary connections he calls them), Kant claimed that experience itself provides certain a-priori knowledge e.g. the categories of the understanding. So if Kant is right, we don't rely on only experience for all knowledge, and perhaps phenomena like cause & effect are in fact justified due to our cognitive abilities.

However, I don't think Kant was excatly trying to salvage metaphysics. Maybe he was trying to lay conditions down for what could be a coherent metaphysics. While responding to Hume, he is also responding to the metaphysicians of his day i.e. theologians who claimed that they could know the nature of reality without any appeal to experience whatsoever. Though Kant claims we have a priori knowledge, claims which have no experiential component whatsoever (he calls these synthetic propositions) cannot be justified claims about reality (they are basicly analytic propositions which deal only with the validity between terms e.g. all bachelors are unmarried males).

If this does/doesn't make any sense feel free to let me know.
0 Replies
 
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Oct, 2011 04:52 pm
@wandeljw,
wandeljw wrote:

Metaphysics is the class of knowledge outside of sense data.

I never knew that - always thought Aristotle's book "Physics" was followed by another book, left incomplete, so some medieval monks named the orphan book "metaphysics" because it just plain followed the previous one. Never pick a complex explanation when a simple one will suffice Smile
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Oct, 2011 05:39 pm
@High Seas,
I vaguely recall another unlikely "etymological" origin: the "metaphysics" book was the one located on the shelf next to--just beyond--the physics book.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Oct, 2011 05:39 pm
@High Seas,
I vaguely recall another unlikely "etymological" origin: the "metaphysics" book was the one located on the shelf next to--just beyond--the physics book.
Also, if metaphysics is the class of knowledge outside of sense data, how would mathematics differ?
0 Replies
 
 

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