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Kant Podcasts

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2007 23:15:18 -0300 (CLST)

I've had these on my disk for some time.  Finally got round to sticking
them on my MP3 player.  The first is a video, which I've not seen, but the
second lecture (which I am listening to now) seems to be a decent place to


Notes on Kant

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2007 09:19:59 -0300 (CLST)

I'm sitting in a bus on the way to La Serena listening to
the Kant lectures and feeling rather clever because the
lecturer mentioned something that had been bothering me for
some time - the emphasis on time and space, but not
brightness, colour, pitch, texture, or taste.

The way the lecturer is presenting things (I have no idea
how accurate this is and left my books at home) is that Kant
is arguing that time and space are necessarily true in order
for us to experience (and therefore understand) the world.

Yet it seems to me that this is not the case.  I can imagine
(which again pleases/worries me, as the lecturer apparently
cannot) a world wthout space, in which (rather like being in
an illuminated flotation tank) I can see colours (on a
'flat' field - think of the ping-pong balls over the eyes in
esp experiments) and hear sounds.  It seems reasonable to me
that a conscious being could exist in such an environment
and construct theories about this colour/sound world (which
need not be solipsistic - you could imagine making sounds
and hearing responses).

This is a problem for the lecturer because it means that
colour has to be "a priori", but that seems no more odd to
me than space being so.  Now maybe that is her point, but to
my (limited) point of view this could be no more than a poor
emphasis - the important thing is not space, but experience.
Kant requires structured experiences.  Whether we call the
structure "space" or "colour" seems largley irrelevant - the
system he is building only really requires that experience
be structured in some way (so that we can reason about it).

One other point, which I don't think has been mentioned (I
may have fallen asleep for a moment in the sunshine, and am
only on lecture 3 or 4) is the very important distinction
between time and the other "dimensions" we use to structure
experience - somehow time is always experienced as
increasing (imagine how odd a world would be where each
sound heard could only be higher than the one previously
experienced).  This asymmetry (which I have no explanation
for) picks time out from the other dimensions and forces it
to be present with any sense.


Some other tihngs that are bothering me:

- Seems to be a confusion between things and names (eg
  discussion of colours)

- 5+7 does equal 12 always, apart from issues with notation
  (again, seems to be a confusion between things and names
  on the part of the lecturer) (I don't think the lecturer
  is that clued up on maths - another oddity was a comment
  on straight lines "on the earth") (but a good lecturer

- How does reification occur?  Is the Platonic table a

Maybe the problem is the degree to which a "close reading"
must follow Kant's own thought rather than placing it within
a current context?

[later, while listening]

Something very odd about causality.  Seems to be purely
succession.  Causality is more than that!  Again, I may have
fallen asleep...

Still there seems to be no real explanation of reification
from observations to types.

Ah.  Cause + effect is purely interprative?  Very odd.

No.  Some events are bound down.  But how do we tell which
is which?  How do we know when the world is so structured
and when ordered by chance?

Just mentioned free will, which was something else I had
worried about :o)

[end of week 4 - now at home drinking...]

Cause + effect requires experimentation, as far as I can
tell, but this must be a little before Popper.

I should note that "synthetic a priori truth" and the way
Kant bootstraps the system through them, comes through very
clearly from these lectures (at least by lecture 5 or
wherever I am now).

Also, leaves changing colour are equivalent to movement if
the emphasis is on parameterized observations rather than
only "space and time".

Heh, "substratum to my experience" exists sempeternally.
Earlier in the lectures there was a challenge to find
something that exists out of time.  My best attempt was
consciousness, since it is not aware of its own limits
(perhaps).  I thought I was pushing things a bit, but the
quote above suggests it works quite nicely.


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