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Rand's understanding of Kant

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The manifold distinction between Kant and Rand is that Kant, as a (rather famous!) scientist, came to the sad conclusion that Hume's critique of Bacon was more or less correct; "LI have been shaken out of my dogmatic slumber!" What we sense as 'A' is not necessarily 'A',--to make a long story short.

 

Rand hates Kant to the extent that she issists.otherwise.

 

The analytic/synthetic distinction, or lack thereof was, btw, somewhat of a canard. Kant used analytics as a heuristic only to show that statements such as 'god is omnipotent' are not fit for metaphysics.

 

Rather, his quest was to find the possibility of metaphysics in the 'synthetic a priori'. What can be said of human knowledge beyond the sensible... or is it even possible?

 

The neumenal/phenominal distinction religates the former to 'thought without an object,' such as, perhaps, math. All else is 'phenomenal'. To this extent, rand's over-reaction might have been of linguistic origin: English contains  no concise word for 'object of thought', such as the Greek 'noite', French 'savoir' vs connaisance', etc.

 

In the third critique, Kant loops back to Hume to place freedom, god, free will, the sublime, and parts of judgment judgmentinto the faculty of the immagination.  

 

This being said, i find the notion of hating Kant to be rather silly.

 

 

While I agree that Kant was trying to answert the question of how to do metaphysics, and that he was concerned with showing the validity of the synthetic apriori, your comments really could use some quotes from Rand showing how you substantiate your drive by remarks. 

 

What we sense of A can only be A, or else you just spoke a self refuting contradiction. Modus Ponens... This simple little fallacy is sooo difficult for rationalist to see.

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While I agree that Kant was trying to answert the question of how to do metaphysics, and that he was concerned with showing the validity of the synthetic apriori, your comments really could use some quotes from Rand showing how you substantiate your drive by remarks. 

 

What we sense of A can only be A, or else you just spoke a self refuting contradiction. Modus Ponens... This simple little fallacy is sooo difficult for rationalist to see.

Kant wasn't trying to show how to do metaphysics as much as showing a means by which metaphysics might be done that isn't otherwise utter nonsense. That's why he created 'analytics' as heuristic as to what metaphysics isn't.

 

Likewise, his concern wasn't as much for 'synthetic statements, as these are what's made by inductiong empirical data. Rather, is rthere anything beyond the sensible-- or meta-physics?

 

What really exists isn't necessarily what we percieve. This is the basis for Humean skepticism that Kant adopted in great measure. A=A if asnd only if you more or less accept that sensory data is more or less always reliably correct.

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I'm dissatisfied with assertions such as these:

 

'Kant's "philosophy" basically is an all out attack on reason.'

 

'Kant basically argued that there is a reality in itself which is unknowable. This is called indriect realism.'

 

 

This might fly as Rand exegesis, w/reference to her attitude towards Kant, but not as Kant exegesis. I conclude that I shouldn't read Rand to find out about Kant. The whole deal with Kant being Rand's chosen evil Bête noire has me rather nonplussed. I can empathize with frustration over Kant's obscurity, and *perhaps* Rand was simply more comfortable with pre-Kantian philosophy, which is *perhaps* understandable. It's not, however, true that Kant coined such a phrase as 'indirect realism', though he coined many phrases and was I think not so helpless as to require paraphrase at every turn. I'd expect objectivists to understand. This is a 10+ year thread, and I reflect that life is short, but I think scholars will be compelled, forced, in the name of mere competence, to disapprove. I won't insist on the last word, here..?

 

 

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If you already know about Kant, Rand cannot mislead you.  If you know nothing about Kant, you cannot know Rand would mislead you.

 

 

If you want to know about Kant, or about Rand's position I encourage you to read up diligently on it.

 

 

If you would rather complain in the absence of substance or knowledge, feel free to continue.

 

 

More diplomatically, if you have a point of contention with Rand's views this IS the place to proffer your premises, evidence, and to discuss.

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'No, Kant didn't coin the term. but that doesn't mean he's not an indirect realist.'

Nevertheless, he's not an indirect realist.

 

'Rand didn't make it up for writing flare.'

 

Rand didn't call him an indirect realist. 

 

'All Rand is saying is that Kant doesn't believe in direct perception.'

What might this even be supposed to mean? I sort of picture Kant smoking pot and arguing w/his dog..? "I don't believe in direct perception!'

 

'You could argue if that's the best label, but it's not an unfair label at all.'

 

I could indeed. I note your respect for fairness.

 

'Now, it's unfortunate that Rand didn't write an essay criticizing Kant's words and arguments directly, it would've been a good way to detail how, precisely, Kant is wrong. '

 

Kant is not wrong.

 

'Nothing suggests incompetence at criticizing/evaluating others though. Rand preferred to create ideas that are right than to write about all the different ways an idea is wrong.'

I won't even insist on 'incompetence', as I don't want to be that generous to all the others who do not exceed Rand in the area, the area of cheapshot strawman exegesis. But I *still* expect objectivists to understand. Instead of felony incompetence I'll 'suggest' misdemeanor uncharitability. I am, shall we say, being altruistic. 

 

'Rand preferred to create ideas that are right than to write about all the different ways an idea is wrong.'

 

maybe she did prefer this, but she didn't always do this (I prefer it too). 

 

'If you already know about Kant, Rand cannot mislead you.  If you know nothing about Kant, you cannot know Rand would mislead you.'

 

This is my point. 

 

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I am not trying to be cryptic, in reference to what might be Kant's views -- I objected to the 'indirect realist' label. I also don't mean to keep people guessing as to whether I'm informed about Rand's epistemology, etc. I'm interested in Rand. I'll offer this quote:

 

"It seems also evident, that, when men follow this blind and powerful instinct of nature, they always suppose the very images, presented by the senses, to be the external objects, and never entertain any suspicion, that the one are nothing but representations of the other. This very table, which we see white, and which we feel hard, is believed to exist, independent of our perception, and to be something external to our mind, which perceives it. Our presence bestows not being on it: our absence does not annihilate it. It preserves its existence uniform and entire, independent of the situation of intelligent beings, who perceive or contemplate it.

But this universal and primary opinion of all men is soon destroyed by the slightest philosophy, which teaches us, that nothing can ever be present to the mind but an image or perception, and that the senses are only the inlets, through which these images are conveyed, without being able to produce any immediate intercourse between the mind and the object. The table, which we see, seems to diminish, as we remove farther from it: but the real table, which exists independent of us, suffers no alteration: it was, therefore, nothing but its image, which was present to the mind. These are the obvious dictates of reason; and no man, who reflects, ever doubted, that the existences, which we consider, when we say, this house and that tree, are nothing but perceptions in the mind, and fleeting copies or representations of other existences, which remain uniform and independent."

I offer this, as something that I think Rand would label 'colossally mistaken'. Also, this is, I think, indirect realism. That is, here we see the claim being *rejected*, that we are perceptually acquainted with external physical objects. Whether this is colossally mistaken or not (we probably agree that it *is*, --objectivists agree, Rand agrees, I agree), it is also colossally influential. But this quote is not Kant, but actually Hume! There's a risk, here, of getting to bogged down for our purposes, in thrashing out arguments about the nature of the external world, on the one hand, and about our relationship to it when perceiving it, on the other. I'm not posting to even disagree with Rand on these issues, let alone try to settle them. I'll just add that this sort of thing is not a odd historical curiosity, but a position that is widely accepted. And I'm not against attacking it (I welcome Rand's attacks on this position)..

 

There are *many similar* arguments, which all prove (proport to prove) that in perception we are not aware of the things we naively suppose ourselves to be aware of. The people and whatever, sunrises, tables, chickens. What we are supposedly actually aware of is said to be mental objects of some sort. There are jargon terms, here, such as 'sense-data', 'representations'. 'Intentional objects'. There is also talk of hallucination, double-vision, illusion. Such arguments, have their failings, in my view, even if this might be called the dominant picture of perception (among, shall we say, educated people in the society at large, esp. those who lean towards science). 

I think we may find common ground, as far as my own attitude goes towards superficial and confused pronouncements like that all we see is light, or that solid objects are not *really* solid, etc. 

Perception has been at the heart of modern philosophy. Now, my quote is from Hume. Let me conclude by adding that I'm okay with criticizing Hume, but I would hope to appreciate that it is ..--stupid(? is there a better term?) to point and laugh at the great thinkers of the distant past. I mean, there is a kind of stupidity and anachronism that is my target, here, so I *almost* want to do more justice to indirect realism. Maybe I'll just suggest that demolition is easier than construction. Is it accurate to talk about 'objects of perception?' Well, I won't insist on the last word..(and what is an object anyway). I'm interested in the matter of how realist can our realism be, and I gather that the task of addressing these questions has been very difficult for many,  but I am here only to question the rumors about what is the Kantian route ..

 

perhaps I would have been better to try 'to be cryptic' :P

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Daniel said:

There are jargon terms, here, such as 'sense-data', 'representations'. 'Intentional objects'. There is also talk of hallucination, double-vision, illusion. Such arguments, have their failings, in my view, even if this might be called the dominant picture of perception (among, shall we say, educated people in the society at large, esp. those who lean towards science).

Yes, all of these take the view that our awareness of entities-bodies-objects are indirect. As against presentationalism, which Oism embraces...

Daniel said:

I think we may find common ground, as far as my own attitude goes towards superficial and confused pronouncements like that all we see is light, or that solid objects are not *really* solid, etc.

So you are here not so much to persuade Objectivist of presentationalism but to "poke" at the general nature of Rand's disposition towards ridiculous and false views of past philosophers?

Daniel said:

Maybe I'll just suggest that demolition is easier than construction.

What is wrong with the Oist view of presentationalism? Is it just that its not presented in the more constructivist-multiculturalist, PC type of postmodernist "coexist" demeanor?

There have been a constellation of sock puppets and pseudonym visitors who seem to be mining Oist views by way of presenting a poker face antagonism in order to tease out Oist rhetoric, so, the less cryptic the better....

Edited by Plasmatic

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Eiuol,

 

Kant’s situation between our minds and his unknowable thing in itself should not be characterized as indirect realism, which is a type of realism. Concerning our experience and knowledge of things as they are in themselves, his thesis was that we have none. We cannot get there from here. With indirect realism, the mind has an indirect way of getting to the mind-independent target.

Edited by Boydstun

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Nevertheless, he's not an indirect realist.

No, Kant is not traditionally called an indirect realist, but it doesn't mean anyone would disagree. What counts to Rand, I find, is that if you think reality is apprehended indirectly (representationalism, idealism [Kant], etc], you're an indirect realist - reality is not apprehended directly. That is, the world you see isn't "how it is" but a model/reconstruction/re-presentation/"glass" between reality and perception/etc. If he is a direct realist... then how?

"But this quote is not Kant, but actually Hume!"

So? The topic was about Kant, and your claim of how he's not properly described as an indirect realist. Whether or not Hume was also an indirect realist isn't important so far.

"Maybe I'll just suggest that demolition is easier than construction."

Right, and Rand spent more time constructing ideas than demolishing others. It seems to me that all you're saying is "Kant is right and a direct realist". So you're still being cryptic. You already explained, somewhat, how Hume is, but wrote it out as though Kant didn't have similar groundwork ideas as Hume. You could've given a Kant quote, but you obfuscated the topic by talking about Hume, as though it says anything about Kant. So forgive me if I suspect you're being disingenuous.

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Eiuol,

 

Kant’s situation between our minds and his unknowable thing in itself should not be characterized as indirect realism, which is a type of realism. Concerning our experience and knowledge of things as they are in themselves, his thesis was that we have none. We cannot get there from here. With indirect realism, the mind has an indirect way of getting to the mind-independent target.

Okay, that makes more sense. But are you saying Kant was more radical than indirect realism, that he goes further to say no one apprehends reality? I'd say it still qualifies as a type of indirect realism because a) reality exists, and b ) any relation to reality is at best approximated by [some mental object]. So if DannyBoyPoker is talking about the "realism" (i.e. Kant believed reality isn't even apprehended indirectly) part and agrees that there is a process to generate perception, his view about Kant might be workable. But if the emphasis is on the "indirect" part alone and finds Kant to be a type of realist, then it's not workable.

Edited by Eiuol

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Eiuol,

 

Kant certainly held the phenomenal world is real. It is a real realm, and it is the realm of our experience, science, and mathematics. He described his position as empirical realism, but he objected to the idea that we grasp anything empirically or theoretically about things as they are in themselves beyond the situation that there are such realities. It’s a bit like the traditional heavy load of unknowability of the nature of God, though there had been a few things of God’s character open to us such as that it is eternal or that it is absolutely perfect being. Our modern issue of direct or indirect realism in theory of perception or the hybrid versions could arise and make sense for Kant so long as one was sticking to the so-called phenomenal realm and not slipping into thinking one is sensibly talking about possible modes of access to things as they are in themselves, which is to say, things in whatever character they have apart from the temporal and spatial and categorial structure imposed (involuntarily) by our sense and intellect upon what we find in ordinary experience, science, and mathematics. Kant’s critical idealism is one form of idealism—distinct from the idealism of Berkeley, the semi-idealism of Leibniz, the later idealisms of Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Bradley, Joachim, or Blanshard—and the class idealism is the opponent-class of the class realism.

 

Kant has sometimes been interpreted as more of a realist than I have asserted him to be by paraphrasing Kant into saying things somewhat different than what he did say (Kant’s contemporary brief champion Karl Reinhold) or by simply dropping certain sayings of Kant (Paul Abela in Kant’s Empirical Realism, dropping Kant’s talk of transcendental objects opaquely underlying empirical objects). I say these are worthwhile exercises, but not Kant. Another philosopher took on a very interesting project of showing there are doctrines in the first Critique about transcendental proofs from which Kant in consistency should have worked himself to realism, but did not. That is Kenneth Westphal in Kant’s Transcendental Proof of Realism.

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'What is wrong with the Oist view of presentationalism? Is it just that its not presented in the more constructivist-multiculturalist, PC type of postmodernist "coexist" demeanor?'

 

Maybe I do reduce this style of utterance to an intriguing form at the expense of content. For me, agreeing or not with Rand's positions does not slake the weird interest her work engenders. It's, shall we say, a little exciting to be hectored. -- rather than seduced, sobered, flattered. I'm not sure that I can honor these verbal idioms, at least not in moral arrogance. Though I approve, of provoking questions and impressions. My comment is that Rand enlists *this many* balls-out strategies. And, I admit that I am, at times, actually unsure as to whether, with Rand, of whom I am a fan, --whether her positions are perhaps as much *about* their vociferousness as about the stances involved.

The 'usual protocols' that I have in mind, that we'll need to bend to accomodate her form of expression (at times), will of course be irrelevant if we agree to regard Rand as being like virtually every dogmatist known to man. Which, she is, I suppose, and it's a rather obvious point, but I don't expect to carry it *that* easily, *here*. I can't simply call The Fountainhead didactic and pretentious, and expect no reply. And by that I don't mean that I expect somebody to say that they admire her gumption at painting in such thick, heavy-brush strokes. 

 

'What is wrong with the Oist view of presentationalism?'
 

I'm ambivalent about dubbing it 'presentationalism', and I don't think this is Rand's jargon (I'm not sure that she would approve). Note, that I apparently can't resist policing exegesis, now we're arguing not about what is supposedly Kant's position, but about what is supposedly Rand's position. 

'
Eiuol,

 

Kant certainly held the phenomenal world is real. It is a real realm, and it is the realm of our experience, science, and mathematics. He described his position as empirical realism,..'

 

splendid thank you, things are looking up! :)

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Kant certainly held the phenomenal world is real. It is a real realm, and it is the realm of our experience, science, and mathematics. He described his position as empirical realism,..'

It's a taxonomic disagreement - they're fun disagreements for librarians like me. I don't think it's wrong to go with your classification if you are focusing on how he treated what reality is (as long as you don't say he's a direct realist), while Rand would be right if you are focusing on how he treated what perception is. I prefer to focus on the perception part, since I know reality can be apprehended, so necessarily any type of content we have at all is indirect on his view. On your classification, it's a different focus. Rand focused on his treatment of perception. It doesn't change her criticism one bit, because nothing in her arguments depend on the label.

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Note, that I apparently can't resist policing exegesis, now we're arguing not about what is supposedly Kant's position, but about what is supposedly Rand's position.

Keep in mind, your "supposed" position of what Rand's position of what Kant's "supposed" position is— is dependent on your "supposed" position of Miss Rand's position of what Kant's "supposed" position is.

 

Would this make you or Rand the "dogmatist" here?

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suppose that I came on here to assert that 'Reality is NOT an objective absolute. There's no way to tell whether reality is objective or not because it can only be perceived subjectively!! (& Howard Roark was a lousy architect!!)'

well, I didn't. 

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Kant .. objected to the idea that we grasp anything empirically or theoretically about things as they are in themselves beyond the situation that there are such realities. It’s a bit like the traditional heavy load of unknowability of the nature of God,..Kant’s critical idealism is one form of idealism—distinct from the idealism of Berkeley,..

 

Kant has sometimes been interpreted as more of a realist than I have asserted him to be by paraphrasing Kant ..or by simply dropping certain sayings of Kant ..

 

 

 

I didn't tarry to quibble w/you here, but I could.

 

I'm unhappy with the phrase 'there are such realities', here. Also, 'is one form of idealism'. I'm fine if we don't care, actually, so much about Kant. Suppose that I simply take credit for my own views, here, and nevermind whether they coincide with Kant's views. One thing is for certain, I didn't get my views on Kant from Rand. Disco? So what. Kant doesn't matter he's dead and in the ground.

 

But I liked that you mentioned 'empirical realism', something that I've already copy/pasted/endorsed in your summary on Kant. I fear that the term 'empirical' requires a bit of 'touching base'. If I accuse Rand and Kant both, of being empirical realists, and having something in common..I dunno..it'll *matter* what this *means*. 

 

Say, then, that most of the knowledge we gain through ordinary experience, is empirical. 'This table is brown' might be offered as a typical empirical statement. Also, most of the knowledge we gain through science is empirical. 

 

'Reality' is also, bear with me, a technical term. One of those abstractions that people throw around informally, but equivocation is rampant. Notice, then, that when we say 'reality', we might be refering to the ordinary world of nature. Now, this is 'reality', if regarded from the empirical perspective. 

 

I do not say that *Kant was a direct realist*. Nor do I say that direct realism is viable (I don't know what this jargon means -- yes I can look up a wiki link, but then I have my doubts as to whether Rand would approve and probably also I wouldn't approve). 

 

I do say, that Rand was an empirical realist (no more than I, no more than Kant). 

 

It may well be, that the poshumous 'party line' in Irvine about Rand, these days, is that she was a 'direct realist'. However, I'm gonna just byob to that party..

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Some points:

 

*I've hinted that by the time Kant was developing his own account, the notion that the mind related to the world indirectly, through a ‘veil of ideas’ (if at all), and the particular conception of ideas as images, held considerable ground in both rationalist and empiricist quarters – not only in Britain but also in Germany.

 
*Also, direct realism is usually understood – under the name of ‘naïve realism’ – as a purely empirical, even commonsensical view. I'm not touting so-called naïve realism, not as an interpretation of Kant, or if it comes to it of Rand. Then, there is no naïve realist here. 
 
*I'm not interested in a an ordinary idealism in new clothes, nor in such a Kant who might be suspected of being this. 
 
*we've not really gotten into any methodological/justificatory principles, here, so we're not maybe getting anywhere fast. I'm fine with that, if we at least avoid quick equivocations and misinterpretations borrowed from wherever..

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What is the meaning of "Disco?" in its context in #71, Danny?

 

Have you gotten to study The Problem of Perception by A. D. Smith? It is a milestone work in the definition and defense of perceptual realism. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in philosophy of perception.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From Rand:

 

“There is only one reality, the one which man perceives” (FNI 22).

Correct.

 

“‘Things as they are’ are things as perceived by your mind” under sovereign reason (AS 1036).

Correct.

Edited by Boydstun

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This is going to get rough, so let me start by tossing a bone: I think that Ayn Rand's ethics is the best legitimate heir to Aristotle's on the contemporary field. Just like her politics is the best legitimate heir to that of "lightweights" Locke, Jefferson and Spencer. And,  I'm willing to suppose that Rand was *fundamentally* right there in the philosophical mainstream -- or, at least, just what the mainstream has been yearning for, for who-knows-how-long now. 

 

So far, I've honed in on Rand's polemical style, which does leave something to be desired, from a certain point of view. Namely, if one focuses on Rand's polemical style, it does become a convenient way to dismiss her as a thinker. Actually, that would be a pretty lame basis for dismissing a philosopher's views.

 

Okay..here's a real *issue*. And it's still a Kantian matter:

 

The failure to recognize that logic is man’s method of cognition, has produced a brood of artificial splits and dichotomies which represent restatements of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy from various aspects. Three in particular are prevalent today: logical truth vs. factual truth; the logically possible vs. the empirically possible; and the a priori vs. the a posteriori.

 

Leonard Peikoff, “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy,” Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology,

 

 

This is actually the final section of IOE. And, I have an issue here. First, there is the matter of what might be the analytic-synthetic dichotomy, according to its advocates. Well..

 

A standard example of an analytic truth would be: Ice is a solid.

 

An example of a synthetic truth would be: Ice floats on water.

 

Now, advocates of the dichotomy hold that the definition of a concept specifies its meaning in its entirety. So, in order to complete these examples, let me supply a definition of 'ice', courtesy of Webster's

 

Unabridged Dictionary ice. the solid form of water.

 

And now, , as I expect objectivists to understand, it is advisable, when assessing a theory, to consult a presentation by its advocates. Detractors, no matter how well-intentioned, may find it difficult to give a convincing, objective presentation of the theory. After all, they think it's wrong. Before we begin, let me try to clarify the point of disagreement. The crucial point on which Objectivists, and many other Aristotelians, differ from advocates of the dichotomy is the question of what constitutes the meaning of a concept. It turns out, then, that views on the validity of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy reflect views on the larger question of just what logic is.

 

It appears to me, that advocacy of the dichotomy implies a view of logic as *restricted*.

 

--claims such as that the sinking of ice in water is 'logically possible' although it is, in fact, impossible, imply that there is some cognitive mechanism other than logic through which we become aware of the actual impossibility of ice sinking-- 

 

This is contrary to the Objectivist, and more generally the Aristotelian view of what logic is. According to Ayn Rand, logic is, I think, as an art, the skill of acquiring knowledge of reality. This skill involves, not just some limited techniques, e.g. deductive inference, but the full range of rational endeavor, including things like concept formation, definition construction, inductive generalization, integration of ideas, and reduction of ideas to perceptual data. 

 

So, -- time is limited. I just want to point out, to devotees of such arguments and distinctions, that I've read Peikoff and Rand and I think I understand their arguments quite clearly. And I think I know what happens if the analytic-synthetic distinction goes. That means all the pretense surrounding Immanuel Kant crumbles.

 

There is much to say on the topic of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy, I have said very little of it. I can say more.. :P

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What is the meaning of "Disco?" in its context in #71, Danny?

 

Have you gotten to study The Problem of Perception by A. D. Smith? It is a milestone work in the definition and defense of perceptual realism. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in philosophy of perception.

 

 

 

*Disco? <-- this means, 'are we happy? Is it, hopefully, Miller Time?' If we are, indeed, happy, then the occasion might be  compered by a disc jockey and feature special lighting effects..

 

*You ask about A. D. Smith's book. I recognize the title, I've flipped through it. I could mention, I suppose, that Kant figures ambiguously in the debate that is hotly debated *within* the camp of direct perceptual realists themselves, between conceptualists and non-conceptualists, being claimed as an illustrious predecessor by both sides. And, I think there are interesting relations between Kant’s position and some aspects of contemporary debates, but..well, making sense of Kant’s position interests me more than requiring that Kant be committed to any specific contemporary positions, and I don't consider it urgent that we enter into the broad and multiform debate on the merits or weaknesses of direct perceptual realism. we can let this be a 'Rand's understanding of Kant' thread.

 

Dan

Edited by DannyBoyPoker

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