Kant’s Conception of Space and Substance

Kant’s Conception of Space and Substance

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Kant’s theses show that space is an a priori intuition.

In order to learn about things outside of myself, I have to know that they are outside of me. But this means that I cannot learn about space in this way: how can I place something outside of myself when I don’t know what “out of me” means? Before I can empirically work on space, I must have an assumed knowledge of space. He must have an a priori familiarity with space. This thesis has an unusual consequence. Since space itself is a priori, it does not belong to things in the world.

But our experience of things in space is a property of our sensitivity. Kant’s term for something thought of as separate from sensibility and therefore outside our minds, that is, something in itself, has nothing to do with space.

Kant uses similar arguments to prove the same thing for time. Kant then turns to proving the existence of a priori concepts such as matter. First, it asks us to distinguish between two types of change, diversity and change. Diversity is about the properties of things: for example, the leaves of a tree can be green or brown. Change is what the tree does: it is the same tree that makes the leaves green or brown. To make this distinction is to use the notion of substance: (as substance) the tree changes, but (as the properties of the substance) the leaves differ. If we do not accept this distinction, then we cannot accept the validity of the concept of substance.

that whenever change occurs, something ‘jumps’ into existence; We must say that at the same time as the green-leaved tree disappeared, the brown-leaved tree began to exist out of nothing. Kant has to prove that such a view is impossible. The key to this is timing. Time cannot be directly experienced (it is not); We experience time through things that change or don’t change, as Kant showed. If we experience time through the green-leaved tree and also through the brown-leaved tree, without any relationship between the two, we experience two real times that are different from each other. And since that would be absurd, Kant believes that the concept of substance has been proven to exist before we have any experience with the world. And since we learn anything empirical through experience, the concept of substance cannot be empirical, but a priori.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Grade 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and Grade 3 “History of Contemporary Philosophy” (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook