I.b. An Intermediate introduction to several complex Kantian ideas
In this first of three series of what had been presented as drafts in emails about Kant and Chinese painting (their title, “Fahren and Erfahrung in Literati Landscape Painting from the Yuan to the Ch’ing”) I here offer an “intermediate level” summary of Kant’s major ideas as expounded by James Luchte in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Next I will quote more extensively from a treatment of Kant’s ideas by Frederick Copleston. Now for some excerpts from Luchte’s “Overview of Key Themes,” which I find relevant to Chinese literati painting:
(1) Identity of Space and Time: “In the Transcendental Aesthetic, Kant lays out a doctrine of sensibility which is quite distinct from the doctrines of either the empiricists or the rationalists. In opposition to the contention that sensibility was characterized only by the receptivity of sensation upon a passive subject, he describes sensibility as the projection of an a priori pure intuition in the subject. This pure intuition is divided into the forms of intuition which actively form the structure of the empirical realm with respect to time and space.
“Pure intuition is also a formal intuition of space and time which can serve as an a priori manifold for the construction of a priori sciences such as mathematics. In this way, space and time are aspects of our active consciousness, and not either things in the world, or concepts derived from the empirical order via inductive generalizations.”
(2) “Transcendental logic contends that every conditioned object (any object as such) must have a reason for its existence. It is that logic which describes the conditions of the possibility of experience. It is thus a ‘logic’ which transcends to the world [sic], making judgments in a synthetic and a priori manner.” It is part of Kant’s larger “transcendental” program.
(3) “Schematism demonstrates the application of concepts to the empirical realm. It is necessary, since pure concepts cannot be directly and synthetically applied but require a ‘third,’ which mediates between sensibility and the understanding. This ‘third’ is the imagination, and the question of its status is once again raised with respect to its indispensable role in the formation of knowledge. The mediation requires a schema for each concept, and the results of the synthesis of sense and concept are synthetic a priori judgments.”
(4) “The Principles of Pure Reason arise from the Schematism, or, in other words, from transcendental judgment. Each is, for Kant, an example of synthetic a priori knowledge, and in their four divisions or types [Quality, Quantity, Relation, Modality] they describe the totality of possible experience.” (Elsewhere, speaking of phenomena, Luchte says that this notion “concerns the domain of experience, and in this way is a synthesis of representations in the temporal, spatial and conceptional order, that is, in the domain of proper knowledge.”)