Quora answer: Did Kant, in his work, give us a way to know reality, not know reality, or some mix of the two?

Jan 30 2012

I have just listened to the tapes of the lectures of Bernstein (bernsteintapes.com) on Kant that are available on the internet. Bernstein attempts a regressive or minimal reading of Kant and he supports in that reading the idea that Kant thought he had given us a direct connection to reality. The Cartesian view has as it did in early Husserl (Cartesian Meditations) has the problem of solipsism. Husserl confronted this problem and solved it by moving from Bracketing to the seeing of objects on a world horizon. Heidegger took advantage of this in Being and Time according to Walton who has been studying the later works of Husserl and sees the innovations of Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty are in some sense just the exploitation of Husserls later generative phenomenology. But according to Bernstein in his lectures the innovation of Husserl is merely a return to the real meaning of Kant’s philosophy under the regressive reading. It is very difficult to see whether Bernsteins reading is an anachronism or whether that was the true meaning of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason from the beginning. The regressive reason makes this case that Kant was really a phenomenologist at heart.

The basic idea is that we only know about anything real through perception and consciousness. So what ever reality IS is filtered though that medium and nothing escapes the filter, and so there is nothing to compare our appearances to to see them as purely epiphenomenalism. This means that realism that posits a transcendental object is just as idealistic as the positing of the transcendental subject who is the source of our A priori syntheses. So in a sense, Kant is just saying that Transcendental Idealism is precisely the same as Transcendental Subjectivity (Idealism), i.e. merely a nihilistic dualism. And because of that identity ultimately they are antinomies that cancel out and so all that is left is the epiphenomenon of appearances, in which we discern reality by the involuntary simultaneity of the time streams of objects as opposed to the the serial voluntary ways of apprehension. If the transcendental structure cancels out, then we need another way of thinking about the world that is immanent and that is what Heidegger tries to develop in Being and Time based on the insights of the Later Husserl and his generative phenomenology, i.e. the phenomenology of time.



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