Transcendental Idealism, Transcendental Realism, and the Possibility of Objective Reference
The goal of my thesis is to understand why Kant thinks that transcendental idealism can secure empirical realism, the idea that there really exists an objective world that we can come to know through experience. I maintain that, according to Kant, the possibility of coming to know objective reality depends upon the possibility of referring to objects, which itself, Kant thinks, can be explained by transcendental idealism. The transcendental idealist worldview is supposed by Kant to explain the possibility of referring to objects because it recognizes that objects must conform to cognition and not the other way around. Therefore, I explore what Kant means by objects conforming to cognition. I start with the fact that Kant says that the conditions for the possibility of our experience of objects must be identical with the conditions for the possibility of those objects themselves. I then argue that this means that according to the transcendental idealist worldview, objective reality, if it is to be full-blooded objective reality, must be essentially able to show up for us in experience. In opposition to this worldview stands what Kant calls transcendental realism, the prevailing worldview that supposes that full-blooded objective reality simply cannot be essentially able to show up for us in experience. Kant says that the prevailing transcendental realist worldview, of which he claims all philosophies hitherto are variations, will never be able to explain the possibility of referring to objects, and that only his transcendental idealism can. Because Kant imputes so much importance to the opposition, I elaborate the distinction between transcendental idealism and transcendental realism, and clarify why only the latter can, as the former cannot, explain the possibility of referring to objects and thus the possibility of knowing an objective world, and thereby secure an empirical realism.
Advisor:Dr. Stephen Grimm
School:The University of Montana
School Location:USA - Montana
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:08/07/2008