Saturday, 5 June 2010

Kant Again: Antinomies, Noumena

I wrote a couple of posts on Kant's Antinomies, which antinomies are essentially paradoxes or logical inconsistencies, and I stated that language producing a meaningless conclusion or result can only be the result of meaningless language. Just as with mathematics, if language is used correctly or meaningfully in the given situation then it cannot but produce a meaningful conclusion. Here it says that Kant "resolved the four antinomies by drawing a distinction between phenomena (things as they are known or experienced by the senses) and noumena (things in themselves; see noumenon). Kant insisted that we can never know the noumena, for we can never get beyond phenomena." So in short, Kant attempted to resolve the illogicality of the antinomies by insisting that there are areas of reality to which language has no access, and thus is error produced when language steps into the illegitimate territories. So Kant  claims to produce sensible intellectual arguments which yield illogical, contradictory conclusions and then invents a further unifying theory to explain the by definition intellectual nonsense he has produced. Thus, I would say, an intellectual hallucination grows.

Firstly to look at the unifying theory of the noumena: if we can never know this noumena, then how can Kant possibly know he can never know the noumena? By his own definition since he has no access to the alleged phenomenon, then in the absence of information emanating from this wholly inaccessible region we can only take it that he is just making the noumena up out of thin air. The thing-in-itself or noumena are merely words which are entirely self-referential; they are words with reference to nothing to which one can point or state anything. So the thing-in-itself truly is 'the thing-in-itself' - that is to say it consists of those very words and nothing else.

Logic has been abandoned in favour of what one might call magical linguistics. One permits oneself to introduce phenomena without proof of their existence and about which one can say nothing. That which suggests their existence one declares unreal. This is all little other than a restating of the negative gnostic position of Plato where the world of the senses is declared to be a fallen shadow world, and the truth some region with absolutely nothing to do with this world of the senses declared to be as said fallen, spiritually corrupt. It is the result of the individual shrinking from life in fear of its perceived awful depths and resorting to a spiritual world that is by contrast undefiled and perfect.
As in this post on Plato and the notion of the void,

the world of the senses has been decided to be unreal, and so what is most real should partake least of all of the sensory world, and what partakes least of all being apparently an idea. Ideas are stated to be the purest of substances, and the most pure of these substances is an idea which is utterly self-referential and distinct from the debased world of external reality. And so the void: a pure self-contained idea without reference to the debased world of sense perception. Hence through the ages, and still, the exaltation of the imagined holy landscape of Pure Reason.

Kant, as a manifestation of the same inner turmoil and fleeing from reality but further along the historical path, has to try and deal a little deeper with the perceived fallen world of matter and in a more convoluted comprehensive fashion declare matter's and sense-perceptions ultimate non-existence; thus the phenomena are delcared unreal and the noumena, just like Plato's Void and World of Ideal Forms, real, but again inaccessible to us, except, it is declared, to our intellectual senses. In the historical interval matter has been raised a little in value compared to Plato's version- the thing-in-itself being allegedly matter in its true form - but just as with Plato this is a substitution of life for an idea of it,  for both the noumena and the world of idea forms are both purely language constructs with reference to nothing beyond themselves. And the identical point is made that since the existence of the void or noumena can only be inferred by the intellect - since there is by definition nothing to suggest its being, sensory experience having been declared unreal and it being wholly absent from this reality - then there is no basis to make the inference even if the substance made intellectual sense.

It is also clear that while Kant has had to engage himself more comprehensively than Plato with the fallen world of matter in order to dismiss it, he also has in tandem moved further from the spiritual reality to which Plato clings. The spiritual inner world has become less of an inner reality and more of an unexperienced idea of itself - which is the inevitable process once ideas like Plato's work their faulty logic out in the world of time. The reality becomes ever more lost and one is ever more left with merely an idea of it, and in turn the very idea of it will also fade, become as an idea more artificial and tenuous - as with Kant's awful category-filled dead 'philosophy'.

Reluctant as I've been to have to devote some time to the tedium of looking at the actual antinomies themselves, having merely declaring or showing them to be false simply on principle, I'll have a closer look soon. Here as it transpires

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Awesome blog, great write up, thank you!