The Nub of the Transcendental Aesthetic

The key thing to note in reading Kant is that here he makes absolutely clear just how radical his approach has to be. There must be a world behind appearances, that of which they are appearances, to which we never can have direct access. The world has to be there because otherwise the complexity of appearances would have no explanation, unless we assumed that all the appearances are a complicated video stream or a long-term hallucination. Barring this position there has to be a world beyond the world of appearances, and it also necessary that the world of appearances only becomes such a world because appearances are made possible by the presence of the pure a priori forms of intuition. Thus the world of appearances is entirely dependent on the forms that allow appearances to appear, and it is the presence of these forms that gives thinking or reason something to do, something to work on. 

Want to note here, which is the next step in our journey, that in order for appearances to be part of experience as objects the deliveries of intuition have to be remade by concepts. I do not mean that first we have red blobs and chunks of unprocessed time that we then make clear through reasoning. Rather, just as we always already experience things in time and space all that we experience is always already also thought, or categorized. or ordered using concepts.




Ok - the first thing to understand is the the difference between these expositions is their position on the narrative. The metaphysical expo has to come first before the the transcendental expo. We will see why in a moment.

Second, these are expos of the concept of time, not of time itself. That is, Mr K is telling us what we can think about time both metaphysically and transcendentally. OK Let’s parse these passages.

Meta Expos of the Concept of Tme 1. “Time is not an empirical concept drawn from experience.” Mr K means that we cannot argue, when we think about time, that time is something we discover in experience, as we might discover redness or iPods. The two sub-concepts, simultaneity and succession, that make up time = things happening at the same time and things happening one after the other. These options exhaust how things can happen. But. Mr K say, we would never experience either - and we experience both all the time — as something that comes into an already-formed perception, such as one’s current experience. That would mean that we would be having an experience, perceiving, without doing so either simultaneously or successively. How would an entirely non-temporal experience play out? K’s point is that it cannot, because in order for there to be experience at all it must occur either simultaneously or successively, that is, experience has to include nowness and about-to-ness in order to be experience at all. What this means, metaphysically,is that time cannot be the kind of being(thing, process, state of affairs) that enters experience but must be the kind of thing that is already in experience. This does not mean that time is less real than iPods or redness, but that it has a different status in being, that its way of existing is different from the ways in which color and iPods exist.


2. So then, what is time? K calls it “ necessary representation that grounds all intuitions.” K means or seems to mean that time is something that has to be there, and able to be represented and thought to be there, as the necessary condition for their being particular intuitions, such as red things and iPods. You cannot take time away and still have appearances doing the business of appearing because in order to appear at all things have to do so either in succession or simultaneously. However, somewhat unexpectedly, K also says that “one can very well take the appearances away from time.” [Could one say this about space? Yes, but in a limited sense.] What does he mean, having just said that “one cannot remove time” “in regard to appearances in general.”

Hmmm. Well, I think Mr K means here that whereas you cannot have things appearing in experience without doing so successively or simultaneously, you can later think about these appearances out of their temporal sequence, in themselves, without reference to when they are, to when they appeared. The idea “Kanye West” for example does not need to be thought either with other thoughts or in a sequence to which it is connected. In that sense we can think appearances without reference to time but the act of thinking them itself must occur in time; we can think of Kanye not in time but only before, after or at the same time as we are thinking of other things. Thus “in it alone is all actuality of appearances possible.” So, appearances only get to be actual, to be real, in time, that is under the rule of simultaneity/succession. And so - every appearance could be non-actual — not appear — but one cannot remove time as the condition of appearances just in case we wanted appearances to appear. We can perhaps think appearances without reference to time but these same appearances could never appear in the first place, insofar as they are events, and 100% irrespective of their content, without time, although time does not constitute their content.


3. AND THIS AS HE SAYS BELOW IS REALLY PART OF THE TRANNIE EXPO = the fact that time is a priori necessary as a condition for experience, for there being appearances (metaphysical) allows us to think about and articulate the fact that there are “apodictic principles of relations of time”. Let’s unravel this. First, Mr K says that time is a metaphysically necessary condition, that is, something it has to have, for there to be experience at all. There is experience, of course, and it is and must be successive/simultaneous, so there must be time as its a priori condition. Second the fact that there has to be this time that necessarily precedes and makes possible experience and appearances means that this a priori condition could have rules by which it has to operate, and that we can figure out using reason. This is what a transcendental expo means: we examine the a priori condition, time, not so much as it makes experience actual but in itself, to discern the rules or axioms by which, as a universal given condition of experience, it has to operate. Our focus here, then, is not on what time as an a priori condition makes actual (appearances and experience itself), which is what the metaphysical exposition covers, but on what properties it has in and of it itself, the rules it operates by insofar as they transcend, go beyond, ground, and lay behind experiences. Here the focus is on what reason can make of the a priori condition itself What reason finds here is simple, simpler and less obviously useful than what reason finds when it examines space as a pure a priori condition of experience. The examination of space itself yields geometry in particular and mathematics in general. The thinking of time yields simple axioms - different times are successive even though two events can occur simultaneously in time. But since these describe a priori conditions rather than ex post facto conclusions, we say that these axioms are how “matters must stand”: “These prins are valid as rules under which alone experiences are possible at all”.


4. This is a mite tricky. What Mr K is telling us here is that the concept of time, or, time insofar as we can think time, = “no discursive/general concept” = “A pure form of sensible intuition.” What means this? Well, if time were a discursive concept this does not mean that it would not be a priori. That here ain’t the issue. Every concept, a priori or empirical, is inherently discursive, in the sense that concepts are rules for selection and therefore, necessarily, for inclusion/exclusion. Concepts run through material, and pick out what fits under them, like counting devices or coin sorters: whatever fits the concept gets collected under its rubric or rule, whatever does not, gets excluded. But time is not a selection device; it does not impose a rule that includes some things and excludes others. It includes everything in the sense that it makes everything, all appearances that appear or can appear,do that. The name for operators that make everything immediately available = INTUITION, which is entirely non-discursive. That means intuitions do not run through a series looking for what does or does not fit, but rather make everything available right there without discrimination or sorting. Looked at from the other end of the telescope, “Different times are only parts of one and the same time” - for since time is not a concept it is all the same, as different instances that fulfill a concept cannot be. I mean, this wombat picked out by the concept “wombat”is not exactly the same as that one This is the whole point: concepts pick out which items among a range of things share a common defining property even though other items collected under the concept have both this property and others that make it unlike the other instances in other non-relevant respects. Somewhat unexpectedly, Mr K also points out correctly that if time is an intuition, claims made about it by reason cannot be analytic.

That is, to say that time is simultaneous does not follow immediately from thinking about time because unlike the properties of a concept, that is, what the concept is about and picks out (‘pickles’, ‘wombats’), what time includes is given, not thought, is that is, a real given property rather than something that we stipulate. This does not mean that we make up what belongs to time, but rather that we find this to be time’s essential property, something it necessarily has or has to have, when we think about time using concepts. When we do so we find that time has axioms, that, properties it necessarily has. But the necessity is not in the thinking of the properties but in their simply being what they are. Twist: when we think them we think them as necessary properties of time, but only because when we think them these are the properties we find time has to have.

5.Time = an infinite magnitude: which means that every instant of time is a limitation on a time that is internally unlimited, that is, which always because it is time, and times “job” as a form of intuition is keep being temporal. It is nothing less or else and can do nothing else or less. We can have concepts about particular moments or things in time but we cannot represent the entireity of time in a concept, because it has no limits and therefore cannot be thought. But we can of course have perfectly accurate and correct concepts of time as an a priori form of intuition; we cannot have an idea of all of time’s moments because there is no sum of such moments that is thinkable.


TRANSCENDENTAL EXPO He simply adds that there could be no concept of alteration were there not time as an a priori condition of experience. Time is an essential component of thinking motion.





HOL 207                                     2:30 – 3:50 MW                       





MONDAY, 12 - 2

FRIDAY 2:30 – 4:00



CELL 323 841 5171




COURSE DESCRIPTION: Some people think that modern philosophy began with Descartes' method of doubt; some believe it traces its origins to late Renaissance Italian thinkers. Everyone agrees that the emergence of modern physical science and astronomy under the aegis of Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler and especially Newton were a decisive factor in changing the course of philosophy. Many also note that the Protestant Reformation in its Lutheran, Calvinist and Anabaptist forms provided further, if different, impeti to modern philosophy.

This course does not reject those ideas but challenges them, arguing that two characteristic forms of modernity -- existential skepticism and Romantic optimism -- emerged later in the work of the German philosophers Immanuel Kant and Georg Hegel, whose work we will read and discuss in this class.

These writers are not mere historical curiosities. They helped shape how the many modern worlds created themselves, in politics, art, letters and religious belief, and in conceptions people hold of who they are and what their lives mean. Kant’s modernist anxiety and moral purism and Hegel’s visionary Romanticism still delimit the boundaries of our intellectual and artistic visions.




The Critique of Pure Reason Immanuel KANT (translated by Guyer and Wood)

The Phenomenology of Spirit Georg HEGEL (translated by A V Miller)

The Age of German Idealism Kathleen HIGGINS and Robert SOLOMON




There will be a mid-term essay exam and a final essay exam. The first will be about Kant and the second about Hegel. Both will involve the analysis of selected passages from the writings of the principals, as well as the analysis of sections of Higgins-Solomon text that concern our principals.

Each exam will count 30% toward the final grade.

Each member of the class will select a research topic - we will discuss which topics make sense -- and produce an object that can be presented to the other class members in whatever form seems apposite. This can take the form of a pamphlet, a YouTube video, a Face book entry of substantial length, a blog, an academic paper, a long series of tweets that connect, more or less, or a holographic projection and so forth.  This object will be worth 35% of the grade.

The remaining 5% is discretionary, a function of class attendance, participation and the like.

We will use YouTube clips, blogs and such as teaching and learning tools. There is a lot out there about both K and H and we will exploit some of it.







9 Introduction.  For Monday, Sept. 14, please read Introduction to Critique, pages 1 - 23.


14  Discuss reading. For Wed., Sept. 16, Read First and Second Prefaces, 99 - 124.


16  Analyze Prefaces. FOR MONDAY, SEPT. 21, READ INTRODUCTION, 127 - 152.




23 Analyze Trans. Doctrine of Elements, Trans. Aesthetic, Part I Space. FOR MONDAY SEPT. 28 READ 162 - 171.




30 Analyze Second Edition Space. FOR MONDAY OCTOBER 5 READ SECOND EDITION TIME178 - 192.



5 Analyze Second Edition Time.  FOR WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 7 READ TRANSCENDENTAL LOGIC 193 - 200?




12 Study Day


14 Analyze Analytic of Concepts FOR MONDAY OCTOBER 19 READ 219 - 236.


19 Analyze Beginning of Transcendental Deduction, First Edition. FOR WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21, READ 236-244


21  Analyze Deduction from First Edition FOR MONDAY OCTOBER 26 READ 245 - 260.


26 Analyze Nub of Deduction from Second Edition. FOR WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 28 READ 260 - 266.


28 Analyze completion of Deduction from Second Edition. Hand out exam questions.



2 Summarize Kant.  Answer questions about exam questions.


4 Exam due.


9 First Hegel class










25 T-giving break













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