Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was one of the

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was one of the most influential philosophers in the history of Western philosophy. However, Kant also had a reputation for developing difficult, not to say obscure, philosophical views. His concept of transcendental idealism was, and still is, considered to be one of the more philosophically perplexing positions. In 1769, the idea of transcendental idealism came to him and he then defined it the following year in his inaugural dissertation, On the Forms and Principles of the Sensible and Intelligible Worlds. In the next decade, he published his full argument in the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason. Kant then continued to struggle to clarify transcendental idealism until his death in 1804. To understand transcendental idealism, one must first consider the historical context and the philosophical background Kant was reacting to. During Kant’s time period in the late 17th and early 18th century, the Enlightenment, a philosophical movement that promoted the power of reason, took effect. Amidst the historical movement, empiricism and rationalism, two theories analyzing the origins, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge, gathered momentum.  One of the claims, empiricism, argued the knowledge is a posteriori, attained by the five senses and experiences. In contrast, rationalism argued knowledge is a priori, innate and emphasises reason. However Kant found problems with both empiricism and rationalism and sought answers to the flaws in philosophers’ arguments and methods. As a result, his argument was that both sense and reason were integral in understanding the world so Kant’s solution was to synthesize the traditional rationalism and empiricism into a new epistemological concept, transcendental idealism. Kant defines transcendental idealism as ” the doctrine that they are all together to be regarded as mere representations and not as things in themselves, and accordingly that space and time are only sensible forms of our intuition, but not determinations given for themselves or conditions of objects as things in themselves ” Human beings experience only appearances, not the actual things themselves. In other words, what humans sense as physical objects are actually only mere impressions. Kant explains, “that all our intuition senses is nothing but the representation of appearance; that the things that we intuit are not in themselves what we intuit them to be.” Essentially, humans will only know things merely as they appear, and not as they are in themselves. Furthermore, Kant reiterates the distinction between appearance and reality with the terms phenomenon and noumenon. Phenomenon is where the objects appear through the effects of human being’s own personal perspective. In contrast, noumena is where the objects are as they really are, and what Kant calls a thing-in-itself. Just as human beings only experience the appearance of objects, human beings can never know the noumenal world. “We are restricted to knowledge of phenomena; noumena must for ever remain mysterious to us.” The mind has an active role in structuring and organising the world. Kant argues that space and time are the automatic imposed categories of how humans perceive objects. They “do not exist in the world but are part of the necessary interpretive structure of our minds, analogous to wearing red tinted glasses, which imposes spatial, temporal, and causal order onto the manifold of the world.” In other words, space and time are the forms by which we experience the world and the “pre- conditions for representing objects outside each other and outside the intuiting subject herself.” For both space and time, Kant divides the discussion into what he calls ‘Metaphysical’ and ‘Transcendental’ Expositions. The Metaphysical Expositions explain what is thought in the concepts of space and time, by reflecting and analyzing while ‘Transcendental’ Expositions establishes the legitimacy of the concepts by referring to things that are real. Metaphysical exposition of space includes four different arguments emphasizing the purity of space, which in other terms, means that space is not drawn from outer experience. The first argument is that space is presupposed for outer experience. Space is not an “empirical concept,” and according to Kant, “in order for certain sensations to be related to something outside me… the representation of space must already be their ground.” Kant argues that the reason humans have an experience of anything outside of themselves, is because space provides the the representation of this ‘outside me.’ Otherwise, unless there is already a possession of knowledge of space, it is impossible to experience objects spatially. Metaphysical exposition also involves the proof that space is a pre-condition of all physical experience and yet “not as a determination dependent on them, and is an a priori representation that, necessarily grounds outer appearances.” In other terms, physical objects cannot be imagined without space but we can imagine space without any existence of physical objects. These two points establish the pureness of space as the third and fourth arguments argue that space is not a concept at all, “but a pure intuition.” According to Kant, space is essentially one. This means that space is unified rather than being a collection of individual points and for it to be a concept, then it must have a feature of generality. For example, a concept could be “motherhood.”  Mothers are individuals, and so the “all the of mothers” would be a collection of individuals. Space, however, simply is defined in terms of its relationships to its whole instead of the other way around. The last argument is that space is also not a concept as space is infinite, making the process of concept formation impossible. It is not possible to imagine space’s edge. Space contains too many parts within itself, so that space is more likely to be intuitions and not concepts. Metaphysical exposition of space sums up the claim that space is a pure form of intuition.Transcendental exposition of space establishes that the metaphysical analysis of space is legitimate through the existence of geometry. Geometry is the “science that determines the properties of space synthetically and yet a priori.” For Kant, geometry was the perfect example of knowledge being applied to the empirical world without the justification of empirical facts. Geometry is synthetic a priori, meaning that geometry is fact-based but is also universally true. If the “representation of space were a concept acquired a posteriori which was drawn out of general outer experience the first principles of mathematical determination would be nothing but perception.” Humans could never understand geometry by just analysing concepts and could not understand geometry if space was abstracted from outer experience. Furthermore, since geometry is synthetic and does not just come from our experiences, then the representation of space must be pure form of intuition. The metaphysical and transcendental expositions for space are also applicable to time. The metaphysical exposition of time is Transcendental exposition of time: