[hist-analytic] Frrom AUNE: Analytic and A Priori

Steven Bayne srbayne at earthlink.net
Thu Mar 19 13:22:55 EDT 2009

I have to give brief answer here. There is much to be said. But
a brief answer on Kant is this: since a thought occurs in time
it belongs to intuition and intuition belongs to the sensibility
not the understanding. The thought results from a synthesis
that may not arise from the empirical imagination but, rather,
an a priori synthesis.Still a thought belongs to the sensibility,
not the understanding, even though the categories of synthesis
constitute the understanding. So a thought understood as
something we have in time belongs to the sensibility, as an
a priori intuition, that is, a "pure" intuition. One
finds in the Second Critique references that sound very much
like a priori experiences; surely, this is not like the thought
"I am." The importance of the a priori forms of the sensibility
for synthetic a priori is in how the object of synthesis is given
that relates two concepts in a judgment. But this will get
us into deeper waters, largely, irrelevant to analyticity etc.

Here's what I suggest. You suggested a connection
with the Cogito in relation to synthetic a priori. I think the
burden is on you to make your case. So with this in mind
give your argument and subject it to the usual go about.
This way we won't have to guess what your argument is
and we won't have to do homework to figure it out. You might
be on to something. I for one am sympathetic to the
synthetic a priori.



At 11:43 AM 3/19/2009, Danny Frederick wrote:
>Hi Bruce and Steve,
>I think I understood your point. My point was that what is relevant to the a
>priori/a posteriori distinction is whether our knowledge of the truth of a
>proposition depends upon experience; and that for the rationalists and Kant,
>pure thinking was not an experience because, for them, 'experience' referred
>to sense-experiences, which thinking is not. There are differences here
>between the rationalists and Kant because, for the latter, any thinking
>which occurs in time belongs to inner sense and is thus empirical. But the
>rationalists, I think, were quite happy with the notion of non-empirical
>thinking about instances of thinking. Thus on the rationalist view 'I think'
>would be a priori even though contingent; and construed transcendentally, it
>is a priori also on Kant's view (though Kant seems to want to regard it as
>analytic - that, at least, is how he labels the 'synthetic unity of
>I need to produce some quotations to defend what I am saying here. That
>would be a bit of a job. I have made a scrappy start of it, but what I have
>turned up so far is by no means clear-cut.
>For Descartes, a priori truths, which he calls 'innate,' are laid down in
>our minds and can be discovered by us if we direct our attention to them, or
>conduct our thinking properly:
>'The mathematical truths which you call eternal have been laid down by
>God___There is no single one that we cannot understand if our mind turns to
>consider it. They are all INBORN IN OUR MINDS' (Letter to Mersenne, 15 April
>1630, in 'Philosophical Letters,' translated by Anthony Kenny, p.11).
>Thus, a priori knowledge is discoverable by (temporal) thinking which is
>independent of sense-impressions. So far you would not object (I presume).
>But since for Descartes, 'I think' is the (or one of the) foundations of all
>a priori knowledge, it SEEMS it should be a priori too.
>The following, from Kant's First Critique, seems to translate my reading of
>(some of) the rationalists into Kant's own terms:
>'The RATIONAL [non-empirical] doctrine of the soul___professes to be a
>science built upon a single proposition 'I THINK' ___The reader must not
>object that this proposition, which expresses the perception of the self,
>contains an inner experience, and that the rational doctrine of the soul
>founded upon it is never pure and is therefore to that extent based upon an
>empirical principle. For this inner perception is nothing more than a mere
>apperception 'I THINK,' by which even transcendental concepts are made
>possible___The least object of perception (for example, even pleasure or
>displeasure), if added to the universal representation of
>self-consciousness, would at once transform rational psychology into
>empirical psychology' (A342-343, Kemp Smith translation).
>Leibniz seems to want it both ways, with 'I exist' being both innate
>(Leibniz's word for a priori) and based on experience:
>'the proposition I EXIST is evident in the highest degree___[but] it is a
>proposition of fact, founded on immediate experience___But if you take
>axioms, in a more general manner, to be immediate or non-provable truths,
>then the proposition I AM can be called an axiom___it may never have
>occurred to a man to form this proposition explicitly, even though it is
>innate in him' ('New Essays,' 411, Remnant and Bennett translation).
>My conclusion is that the situation is unclear, so it is no wonder we

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