Kant’s Classification of JudgmentsJune 28, 2021
First of all, we should point out that Kant talks about the classification of judgments, not propositions, in his system. According to Kant, judgment is an act of thinking ability. In the development process of philosophy of language, Kant’s classification of judgments has been applied to propositions. While some mean news sentences by proposition; some have called the objective content itself a proposition, expressed in different ways or in different languages. These level differences should not be overlooked when reading the discussions.
As it will be remembered, Hume, while talking about the classification of our knowledge, made a distinction between relations of ideas and matters of fact. He argued that this binary classification encompasses all meaningful propositions or judgments, and that any other statement is meaningless.
Kant made his own classification in two different dimensions. The first dimension, with information science; The second dimension can be seen as related to semantics. According to the first dimension, if there is no need for empirical experience to decide the correctness of a judgment, this judgment is a priori; if needed, it is called a posteriori. According to the second dimension, if the predicate concept is included within the subject concept, the judgment in question is analytical; If not, it is called synthetic.
Based on this dual classification, Kant identified four different types of judgments. On the other hand, there are no analytical and a posteriori judgments. What remains are analytical a priori, synthetic a posteriori and synthetic a priori judgments. According to Kant, Hume’s truths based on the relations of ideas are met by analytical a priori judgments. These are general logical judgments. Hume’s truths expressing facts correspond to synthetic a posteriori judgments. All judgments with empirical content are synthetic a posteriori judgments.
He gives an example of Kant’s judgment “All bodies are extended” for analytical a priori judgments. When we think of the concept of a body, we also think of extension as a partial concept. For this reason, the concept of “extension”, which is considered within the concept of “body”, is attributed to “body” in this judgment. In this respect, this judgment is analytical. We do not need to resort to experience to verify an analytical judgment. Hence, from the epistemological point of view, this judgment is a priori. The point to be noted here is that, according to Kant, the ability of any judgment to be analytical and a priori depends on its ability to be a judgment on the face of it, that is, to be comprehended by an act of judgment. The development of a philosophy understanding based on semantics necessitated the criticism of these acts on which Kant’s semantics are based.
Semantics as it is central to analytical philosophy is based on a critique of psychological approaches. Psychological approaches argue that there is no objective content independent of subjective psychological acts. However, it would be more correct to consider the psychological in a metaphysical context, not in relation to contemporary psychology. What is meant by psychological acts here, as Kant often refers to in his own philosophy, is the acts of the faculties of the soul (thinking, sensation, imagination) that establish the experience.
Interesting and new within Kant’s transcendental philosophy are synthetic and a priori judgments. According to Kant, analytical judgments have a feature that explains the information contained in a concept we have. Synthetic judgments expand our knowledge. Synthetic a priori judgments both expand our knowledge and can be correct without the need for sense experience.
According to Kant, first of all, the judgments of mathematics are synthetic and a priori. For synthetic a posteriori judgments to be true, there needs to be a third thing, an object present in experience, that connects the concepts of subject and predicate. In the case of synthetic a priori judgments, this third thing is a priori objects constructed on the basis of a pure vision of space and time. Since the construction in question rests on an a priori ground, the synthetic judgments of mathematics are a priori correct. According to Kant, the axioms of geometry (since only Euclidean geometry had been discovered at that time) are thus synthetic and a priori. As they are synthetic and a priori, they have universal necessity and objective validity.
In the first half of the 19th century, when this theory of Kant was generally accepted, there was a development that shook this theory. Non-Euclidean geometries are discovered.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook