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Kant's Conceptual Schemes (AQA REASON AND EXPERIENCE)
Condillac asks us to imagine a statue which cannot let any sensations in. He then wonders if we were
to give it all the 5 senses and place basic structures into his head (memory and a store for the
sensations), the following questions can be asked:
-Would the statue develop all the concepts you have?
-Could the statue develop the beliefs and knowledge that you have?
Arguably the statue would, in order to develop concepts and make sense of the impressions
it receives, would need a concept of similarities/differences/concepts of quantity or
It is hard to see how we can begin to organise data if we don't already have some means of
doing so which precedes the experience
= CONCEPTUAL SCHEMES A necessary condition for having a sense experience
It seems that there must be some sort or scheme that organises the content of our thoughts.
What we see when looking at the picture depends on
Whether the schema organises it as a duck or a rabbit (or
This suggests that what we see is shaped by the conceptual schemes that we have. What is true to us
depends on our conceptual scheme, and what is true for others depends on theirs.
You only see what your concepts allow you to see!
Kants Categories of Understanding:
Kant claimed that any sensory impressions (intuitions) prior to any form of conceptual ording cannot
yet form experience.
"Thoughts without content are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind" Kant
Kant believed that having a concept in place is a `must-have' (pre-condition) of any experience which
is a TRANSCENDENTAL ARGUMENT:
The conceptual scheme is necessary as it applies to the raw data we receive from
experience which combine to give us the experience of the world. They are a precondition of
any experience happening in the first place.
He claimed that all of our experience is organised in the following categories:
Quantity: Unity, Plurality Totality
Quality: Reality, Negation, Limitation
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Relation: Substance and Accident, Causality and Dependence, Community/Interaction
Modality: Possibility/Impossibility, Existence/Non-Existence, Necessity/Contingency
EXAMPLE USING UNITY:
Unlike a computer, when we see a security code on a computer we are able to identify
letters and so a word, which a computer cannot.
This suggests that our perception is altered because we have an concept of the letters and
so can experience a word in the image.…read more
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Why is Kant's view so Revolutionary? (COPERNICAN REVOLUTION)
It suggests that we do not see the world as it really is, we sculpt and shape it throughout
Rather than deriving our concepts from the world we see (EMPERICIST VIEW E.G. LOCKE AND
TABULA RASA), it is in fact our concepts that shape the world we see.
The Copernican revolution is that Kant says the mind shapes the world, rather than the world
shapes the mind.…read more
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Synthetic A priori:
Hume's fork distinguished between:
Analytic truths (Known A priori, true by definition e.g. a triangle has 3 sides) and,
Synthetic truths (Known A posteriori, not true by definition but how world is e.g. The chair is
Kant though, argued that concepts such as space and time and `every event has a cause' are
known a priori (no sensory experiences) yet they are not true by definition either making them
synthetic a priori knowledge.…read more