Kant’s Four Considerations on the A Priori Nature of Space
Knowledge about the world we inhabit is often considered the chief ambition of philosophy, and such was the desire of Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason. The crux of his critique is the acknowledgment and application of synthetic, a priori judgments. This ambitious work contains a number of complex arguments regarding the inherent a priori/a posteriori nature of things and the analytic/synthetic reasoning behind human knowledge of such things. Perhaps one of the most disputable arguments posited by Kant involves the a priori nature of space. In Kant’s “Metaphysical Exposition”, a complex series labeled “The Four Considerations” are argued for in attempt to prove that space is not experience-contingent, but that space must be an inherently-understood, a priori layout for the universe.
Kant’s First Consideration regarding the a priori nature of space is as follows: “Space is not an empirical concept which has been derived from outer experiences. For in order that certain sensations be referred to as something outside me (that is, to something in another region of space from that in which I find myself), and similarly in order that I may be able to represent them as outside and alongside one another, and accordingly as not only different but as in different places, the representation of space must be presupposed. The representation of space cannot, therefore, be empirically obtained from the relations of outer appearance. On the contrary, this outer experience is itself possible at all only through that representation” (Kant A30/B46).
Sebastian Gardner interpreted this first Consideration to mean, “if the representation for space were not a priori, then it w...
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...a finite mind. Therefore space cannot be a concept” (Gardner 79). Gardner is here pointing out that a concept (like our conception of a book) can have an infinite number of representations of itself, but it is not infinite inwardly like space, because space contains an infinite number of constituents within it.
Immanuel Kant wrote four separate arguments in attempt to prove the a priori nature of space, and these arguments provide complex logical conditions to support his claim. Through direct analysis of traits, and in some cases, specific objects, the nature of space is directly contrasted with the nature of many other entities in attempt to prove its a priori nature. Space is requisite of all human experience, and through an a priori understanding of the layout of the universe, Kant believed humans were able to truly interact with the world they inhabit.
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