Kant’s ‘Transcendental Exposition’ of Space and Time in the ‘Transcendental Aesthetic’: A Critique
AbstractImmanuel Kant’s purpose in setting forth the system of the critical philosophy is to explain how scientific knowledge (which deals with the ideas of physical objects in space and time) is possible while denying the claims of metaphysics. His views on space and time are borne out of the historical background of the Newtonian ‘absolutist’ and the Leibnizian ‘relationalist’ debate in the early modern period. Kant held to the Newtonian view that space and time are absolute and not a system of properties, determinations or relations dependent on the existence of physical objects as proposed by Leibniz. Yet, in contrast to Newton, he denies that space and time are independently existing substances. In critiquing Kant’s transcendental exposition of space and time, we explain the essential details of the metaphysical exposition of these concepts before giving the transcendental arguments. By tying the axioms of geometry to space and time and by showing that the latter are the universal, necessary structures of the way we experience nature, Kant preserves the a priori nature of geometry while arguing that it does give us objective knowledge about the world of experience that science studies. The work considers relevant statements in the Critique of Pure Reason in our interpretation of Kant’s theory. We criticize his transcendental arguments on the grounds that if we can show that they are problematic, then we are justified in claiming that his system is not adequate to do what it claims or does.
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