Kant on Time as A Priori Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:06:56
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Immanuel Kant presented a series of arguments regarding the nature of time. He sought to prove that time is innate in the sensibility of all human beings and that it is independent of the material world and argued that time belongs to experience as an a priori form of intuition (Kant, 74). In his Critique of Pure Reason, he claimed that time is a priori instead of being a permeating feature of mind-independent reality. He also argued that the nature of time as an element of the universe is sensible instead of conceptual which the mind

 compels upon experience (75). He arrived at the conclusion that time could not independently exist or be associated to other objects as a verifiable entity. He claimed time to be the form of inner sense and maintained that time is It is the immediate condition of inner appearances (of our souls), and thereby the mediate condition of outer appearances.  (77).

            The first of Kants arguments regarding time as an a priori form of sensibility states that it is a necessity for our understanding of  simultaneity and succession to be preconceived since they are generated in our minds prior to our experience of simultaneous but successive moments in time (75). Kant claims:

Time is not an empirical concept that has been derived from any experience. For neither coexistence nor succession would ever come within our perception,  if the representation of time were not presupposed as underlying them a priori. Only on the presupposition of time can we represent to ourselves a number of things as existing at one and the same time (simultaneously) or at different times (successively).  (74)

By stating that Only under its presuppositions can one represent that several things exist at one and the same time  or in different times, (74) Kant, in essence, is implying that concepts can not made on the basis of perception unless we have a preconceived notion of such concept. For example, our notion of a dog could not be a concept which is based on our experience since our mind would not be able to perceive it we did not have an idea of a dog which was based on a preconceived notion.

            However, even with Gardners explanation, Kants argument is still unpersuasive. It fails to offer us sufficient reasons to agree that a preconceived notion of time is a necessary prerequisite of the perception of time. This argument is not compelling enough to weaken how time is viewed in the common sense because it begs a faulty conclusion that if this was so, our notion of color should also be a priori. Consequently, with this argument, the logical assumption about time would be that because the notion of time is conjured simultaneously with representing the world of material objects, it cannot be based on perception of material objects. The basic view of the nature of time actually remains definite as the properties of time, which exists in and all the objects of the universe, are perceived through our experiences.

            Kants second argument tries to prove that time is an a priori form of intuition by arguing that it is possible to consider time without any appearances of any material object but it is not possible to consider any material object without the appearance of time. Kant argues:

Time is a necessary representation that underlies all intuitions. We cannot, in respect of appearances in general,remove time itself, though we can quite well think time as void of appearances. Time is, therefore, given a priori. In it alone is actuality of appearances possible at all. Appearances may, one and all, vanish; but time (as the universal condition of their possibility) cannot itself be removed.. (74-75)

However, if we take this argument into consideration, it would then be logically imperative to conclude that space embodies the of outer sense or time embodies the inner appearance however this conclusion, albeit sound based on the provisions of the Kants argument, actually contradicts the text itself .

            All in all, Kants arguments fail to mitigate the strong points of the common sense view of time which is, that time is a pervasive feature of the world. His arguments do not offer conclusive ideas. Although he tries to provide empirical evidences to his arguments by referencing his claims with the realities of experience, his arguments imply assumptions that when interpreted do not necessarily hold true. His theory requires a vital premise, that our notions of time and space are a priori, and it requires it to be granted in the onset however he offers no compelling argument. This vital premise caused the undoing of his entire theory.

Works Cited

Kant, Immanuel. The Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. Kemp-Smith, Norman. Palgrave Macmillan, 1995.

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