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Rand v. Kant – Walsh & Miller

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10 hours ago, Boydstun said:


Kant versus Rand: Much No to Walsh and Miller (pages 71–96)

~Kant’s Big Questions Are Not Rand’s

~Misdiagnoses of Kant’s Fundamental Errors

~The Springs of Form


Kant and Rand are completely opposed concerning what counts as rational metaphysics. Walsh errs in representing the two as closer than they are. Kant’s method for arriving at metaphysical conclusions is not Rand’s. Kant takes the status of metaphysical knowledge to be synthetic and a priori, Rand denies that metaphysical knowledge (or any knowledge) is a priori.

Walsh is right, though, that Rand’s representation of Kant’s theoretical philosophy is generally incorrect. The concerns in Kant’s theoretical philosophy are not Rand’s concerns. Kant’s question of how metaphysics is possible, though not a central question of Rand’s, is answered in her theoretical philosophy. Rand’s inattention to Kant’s question of how geometry is possible is a gap in her empirical epistemology.

The differences between Rand’s metaphysics and the metaphysics of the German Rationalists of Kant’s time make Rand’s view impervious to Kant’s critique of those Rationalist systems. Miller’s defense of Rand’s system as against Kant’s is based on mistakenly attributing to Kant a coherence theory of truth. Kant, I argue, has a correspondence theory of truth. While Rand and Kant do not differ about that, Rand invokes many more correspondences to empirical reality than does Kant in their accounts of metaphysical knowledge and of conceptual, discursive knowledge in general.

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PS – earlier helpful information

On 1/2/2013 at 12:23 PM, Boydstun said:

From Integrity to Calculus

. . .

Immanuel Kant was an integrating son-of-a-gun. Synthesis and unity are leading ideas in his Critical philosophy.

Kant writes:



Human cognition has two stems, viz., sensibility and understanding, which perhaps spring from a common root, though one unknown to us. Through sensibility objects are given to us; through understanding they are thought. (KrV A15 B29)

By means of sensibility objects are given to us, and it alone supplies us with intuitions. Through understanding, on the other hand, objects are thought, and from it arise concepts. But all thought must, by means of certain characteristics, refer ultimately to intuitions, whether it does so straightforwardly or circuitously. (A19 B33)

The kind of presentation that can be given only through a single object is intuition. (A32 B47)

Intuition is that by which a cognition refers to objects directly, and at which all thought aims as a means. (A19 B33)

Our intuition, by our very nature, can never be other than sensible intuition; i.e., it contains only the way in which we are affected by objects. Understanding, on the other hand, is our ability to think the object of sensible intuition. . . . Thoughts without content are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind. Hence it is just as necessary that we make our concepts sensible (i.e., that we add the object to them in intuition) as it is necessary that we make our intuitions understandable (i.e., that we bring them under concepts). (A51 B76)


In Kant’s view, our experience of space does not consist of separate disconnected bits nor of less than three dimensions. We experience spatial form directly and as a unified whole. The presentation that is space is an intuition. That presentation is one whose constituent parts are not prior their whole, not parts whose accumulation makes their whole, and not instances under a concept of that whole. Rather, the parts of intuitive presentations, such as the parts of space, are by limitations and divisions of a singular, unified whole. All objects encountered or even possible in sensory experience have their places in that unitary space. Our abstract geometric reasoning, Euclidean geometry, is not disconnected from the space of our sensory experience (KrV A22–30 B37–45; B162; A140–42 B180–82; A162–66 B202–7; A223–24 B271–72; A712–24 B740–52).

Our experience of time, in Kant’s view, is also of a continuous unified whole. All objects, whether in sensory or inner experience, have their places in that one time. Physical things endure and have their motions in determinate ways obligating our perception of them in just those temporal and spatial ways (KrV A30–41 B46–58; A103–10; B136–40; B150–56; B162–63; A140–45 B181–85; A189–211 B232–56).

Kant’s faculty of understanding is a part of what has traditionally been called reason. The power of understanding is the power of concepts. Our rational faculties beyond the understanding are two, which Kant called the faculties of judgment and reason. The powers of reason, in this narrower sense, are of inference and cognitive management (KrV A130–31 B169–70; A686–87 B714–15; A723–38 B751–76). The three higher faculties work together, and each is a grand cognitive unifier (A67–234 B93–294; A669–704 B697–732).

Kant joined his philosophy of experience and understanding to fundamental physics (1786). He further elaborated our cognitive powers to enfold our esthetic capabilities (1790). In the power he called reason, he located the keys to morality. Between reason and morality, there is no divide (KrV A800–819 B828–47; 1785, 4:389–90, 403–4, 408, 411–13, 426–40, 446–48, 453–63; 1788, 5:15–16, 31, 42–57, 89–110, 119–21, 131–32, 134–48; 1797, 6:213–21, 375–78, 396–97). Yet, the reality of moral law, free will, and God largely transcend reality accessible by our intuition and understanding.

Kant inherited entrenched problematic divides in philosophy. Older among them would be the divide between the material world of the senses and the immaterial realm of thought, soul, and God; the divide between inclination and moral obligation; and the divide between reason and faith. More recent among them would be the divide between the deterministic world of science and the inner world of freedom; the divide between the value-absent world of reason and the value-full world of action and feeling; and the divide between things and their effects on us.

Where Kant attempted to smooth together those divisions, he succeeded little. Kant deepened and hardened the divide between inclination and moral obligation. However many ties he made between sensing and thinking, he deepened and hardened the divide between them. Moreover, he deepened and hardened the divide between things and their effects on us. His embrace and expansion of that divide entailed that all the unity and structure he would give to experience, understanding, and morality must come from the side of the subject. Space, time, objects, identity, causality, and moral reasons—all of them, systematically and fantastically, and seductively to many bright thinkers, must come from the constitution of an articulate subject striving for and touched by things as they are in themselves, things as they cannot be in our grasp, things with their own articulation unknowable to us.

Reinhold, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel would innovate their own further integrations to bridge or dissolve problematic divides as they stood in Kant’s philosophy, but their solutions further increased the crafting of reality by subjectivity and, of course, continued to make room for the supernatural. Leonard Peikoff was partly right, though in considerable exaggeration, to call Kant’s philosophy anti-integration (2012, 34–35). That was part of Kant’s endeavor, a result overachieved, alongside his achievements of integration.

Rand’s world and ours is only one world. There is life, condition of consciousness and value. Human consciousness and valuation are open to human choice, within the one, natural world. In all the one world, existence is identity. Consciousness is identification, the grasp of what is and exclusion of what is not. Consciousness is an active process of differentiation and integration. We grasp the world in its given particulars, settings, dimensions, interactions, and magnitude structures. We detect and measure in perception, joined to the magnitude structures there in the world. Our concepts, at their best, rearticulate the world’s own articulation, including its magnitude structures. We are highly integrated in our cognitive powers and highly integrated with the only world, the one available for perception, comprehension, enjoyment, and action.



Kant, I. 1781, 1787. Critique of Pure Reason (KrV). W. S. Pluhar, translator. 1996. Hackett.

——. 1785. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. M. J. Gregor, translator. In Immanuel Kant – Practical Philosophy. 1996. Cambridge.

——. 1786. Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. M. Friedman, translator. In Immanuel Kant – Theoretical Philosophy after 1781. H. Allison and P. Heath, editors. 2002. Cambridge.

——. 1788. Critique of Practical Reason. M. J. Gregor, translator. In Practical Philosophy. 1996. Cambridge.

——. 1790. Critique of Judgment. W. S. Pluhar, translator. 1987. Hackett.

——. 1797. The Metaphysics of Morals. M. J. Gregor, translator. In Practical Philosophy. 1996. Cambridge.

Peikoff, L. 2012. The DIM Hypothesis. NAL.


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