David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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International Journal of Philosophical Studies 5 (2):255 – 284 (1997)
The paper raises two questions, which seem central to understanding Kant's transcendental epistemology in the first Critique. First, Kant claims that the conditions for the possibility of experience are also conditions for the possibility of the objects of experience (A158/B197). Here the notion of an object is not conceived from the divine standpoint ('the view from nowhere') and is in some sense relativized to experience. But in what sense? Is the notion of an object relativized to one specific kind of experience, human experience? Or is it relativized only to any possible experience? Second, in what sense is Kant's transcendental epistemology a priori? Is it a priori in the strong sense that its starting-point - the notion of experience in the question 'How is experience possible?' - is a priori? Or is it a priori only in the weak sense that, while the notion of experience is obtained empirically, a priori reasoning is required to establish how experience is possible? It has recently been argued (by Patricia Kitcher, Kant's Transcendental Psychology) that (a) the results that Kant wants to establish transcenden-tally about objects are relative to one specific kind of experience, human experience, and (b) Kant's transcendental epistemology is a priori only in the weak sense that the reasoning is a priori, while the starting-point is empirical. These claims are indeed crucial to Kitcher's overall aim of naturalizing Kant's transcendental epistemology. The aim of the paper is to resist both claims. I argue that Kant's notion of an object of experience is the notion of an object of any possible experience, not the notion of an object of one specific kind of experience, human experience. It follows, I argue, that Kant's transcendental epistemology is a priori in the strong sense that its starting-point is a priori. If we deny strong apriority, we fail to account for Kant's move from the nature of experience to the nature of empirical reality: empirical reality as such, not empirical reality as experienced by a particular variety of creatures capable of experience. The upshot is that, for better or worse, Kant's transcendental epistemology cannot be naturalized.
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