Kant On Conceptual Schemes

Conceptual Schemes

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  • Created by: beth
  • Created on: 19-05-10 11:51

Experience Vs. A Buzz

Thinking about sensory experience requires concepts:

(1) Being able to distinguish what comes from the different senses e.g. vision, hearing;

(2) And being able to distinguish types of properties, e.g. colour & shape

If we couldn't it would just be a confused 'buzz'.

An Object is a collection of unified ideas, such as colours, shapes, and positions and exists in time and space.

Experience is experience of a world of objects standing in time and space.

How do we make sense of reality so it is an experience, not a buzz?

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Kant's Categories

Kant said that experience of the world require certain basic concepts, which he called Categories

These form our basic conceptual scheme

Sensation is completely meaningless to us unless it is brought under these concepts.

Kant thought that there was only one basic conceptual scheme that could provide experience as we know it.

The conceptual scheme is necessary for experience; so any creature that we think has experience must have these concepts.

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Kant On The Structure Of Experience

Knowledge is a relation between the mind and reality.

Locke says that "The Senses at first let in particular Ideas"

This takes it for granted that our minds are set up to see the world as it really is.

Descartes said that we have the innate concept of PHYSICAL OBJECT and that G-d guarantees that it applies to reality.

However Kant thought Descartes argument for G-d's existence failed.

So are our innate concepts misguided?

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Thinking About Experience In More Detail

We know intelligible experience is possible as we have it.

Experience is structured by objects which exist in time and space.

Through this we gain knowledge.

What makes this structure of experience possible?

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Causality: One Of The Categories

To experience the world in terms of objects we must distinguish between the time in which our experiences occur and the time in which the objects exist.

E.g.: I can, at two times, look at a house from two different angles, seeing different sides of it. My perception of the house changes, and one experience follows the other in time. But I don’t say that the house has changed, or that there are two different house, one of which follows the other in time – I say that the house has remained the same over time.

However at other times the changes in our perceptions reflect changes in the object.

E.g.:If I watch a ship sailing downriver both my perceptions AND the object itself change (in position).

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How Can We Make The Distinction?

Kant says that in the case of the house, we understand that the order of the perceptions can be changed without the house itself changing.

The order in which we have the experiences doesn’t change what we experience and the order of perceptions is not determined.

But in the case of the ship if the order of perceptions changed the the object would change.

If we saw the ship first downriver and then upriver it would no longer be sailing downriver.

So we have an idea of a ‘necessary temporal order’ which leads to CAUSALITY.

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This is the relation between cause and effect.

We think that effects must follow their causes.

We need Causality to distinguish between an object changing and just our perceptions changing.

This distinction is needed to experience objects at all, without it we can't have intelligible experience.

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The Conceptual Scheme

The 12 concepts are a priori as they are necessary for experience.

Kant argued that they are part of the structure of the mind.

Do we actually have a confused buzz?

We can't talk about it or know about it as it comes before the application of concepts.

Variation in conceptual schemes between cultures and languages can only be small as we all need certain concepts in order to experience at all.

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The 'object'-ive nature of experience is a reflection of the nature of the mind.

Our experience is not a straightforward presentation of what exists completely independently of the mind ('ding und sich' or 'things in themselves')

Everyday objects are defined by our structured experience of them.

We cannot know what reality is completely independently of how we think about it.

The world we experience is still real as it is 'objective'.

However it is defined by the contribution our mind makes along with the contribution by the unknown something that is independent of our minds.

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The Posibility Of Experience

We can't know anything about the things that are independent of our minds. We can't even think about them.

This is not an objection for Kant, because there is no meaningful way in which we could know about it.

Kant has argued that our experience must be the way it is and any alternative wouldn't be experience.

There is no grounds for an objection.

Our is experience is objective, the basis of knowledge of how things are.

We don't know how the world is completely independently of our minds.

This is impossible to know, we know everything we possibly could.

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