10: Kant's Revolution


  • Read and analyze a description of philosophical thought
  • Articulate key conceptual distinctions between rationalism and empiricism
  • Articulate key conceptual distinctions between noumenal and phenomenal and analytic and synthetic truths
  • Demonstrate knowledge of Kantian Unity of Consciousness, Transcendental Idealism, and Deontology.


Key Terms

Transcendental Idealism
Analytic Truths
Synthetic Truths
Phenomenal world
Noumenal world
Unity of Consciousness

I. Kant on Knowledge

  • A. Transcendental Idealism
    • Theory in response to the debate about rationalism and empiricism
    • Counters Hume's Skepticism
    • We can have true knowledge through both reason and experience
    • Pure a priori knowledge is possible because knowledge can come without direct experience
  • B. Analytic vs. Synthetic Truths
    • Analytic Truth - true by virtue of the meaning of the words
      • All bachelors are unmarried males.
      • Do not add to our knowledge
      • Based on reason, not experience
    • Synthetic Truth - true based on our experiences
      • Add to our knowledge
      • Based on knowledge synthesized from experience
    • This approach justifies and reconciles rationalism and empiricism
  • C. Kantian Metaphysics
    • We see the world in two ways: phenomena and noumena
    • Phenomenal world
      • What we see, touch, etc. 
      • How we experience the world as constructed by the mind
    • Noumenal World
      • The way the world is in itself, when no one is looking at it. 
      • The world beyond our perception
      • We cannot know the noumenal world
    • The mind takes in raw unorganized noumena and organizes it into phenomena (our experiences)
    • The mind, therefore, has both components, sensing and understanding

II. Kant on the Self

  • A. How do we know about the self?
    • Experiences and Reason
  • B. What is the nature of the self?
    • We construct the self
    • Unity of Consciousness
    • The self transcends the senses and unifies our experiences
    • The self is the transcendental unifying subject, an organizing consciousness that makes intelligible experience possible

III. Kant on Ethics

  • A. Basic Argument
    • To ensure one’s duty is fulfilled
    • Consequences are irrelevant
    • Follow moral rules, which Kant calls maxims
    • Ethical system must be based on objective, universal ethics
    • Contemplation alone is required to determine moral actions
  • B. Hypothetical Imperatives
    • if, then statements
    • Means to an end
  • C. Categorical Imperatives
    • Actions that are intrinsically good
    • Maxims (moral laws) prescribed by reason that everyone should follow
    • Kant's Categorical Imperative is not the same as the Golden Rule
  • D. Objections to Deontology
    • The right action may lead to a bad consequences
    • Maxims can be taken to extreme

Logic Week 10: Meaningless Jargon & Weasel Words