Friday, September 15, 2006

Kant: judgments and concepts

Here's the first of a semester long series of attempts to make sense of things in Kant's first Critique. In the introduction to the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant speaks of knowledge until he introduces the analytic-synthetic distinction. When he does that, he switches to talk of judgments. When he does this, he doesn't make it clear whether he's talking about judgments as in acts of judging or the contents of those acts. He seems to go back and forth a little but it looks (from my brief and shallow reading) like he's talking about the contents more. In any case, why the need to switch from knowledge? Maybe this is related to the idea that judgments are things you can take responsibility for, but knowledge is not. I'm really not sure though.

An related thought about concepts is what happens when analytic and synthetic judgments are made? This takes Kant to be talking about acts, but I will put the question out anyway. If you make the a priori judgment that S is P and it is synthetic, then, according to Kant, you are adding to the concept of S the concept of P. So, when you are done, does that mean you have a new concept, say P(S)? Or is it just an assertion that S is linked to P in the synthetic a priori way? If that is so, in what sense are you adding anything to the concept of S? My sticking point is that I don't get in what sense anything is being added. If you make two sequential judgments that S is P, is the second analytic since S contains P from the first judgment, which is synthetic? Switching to the idea that judgments are contents not acts, things are still confusing. Kant makes synthetic a priori judgments sound like something is being added to something. This sounds like a dynamic (in the pre-theoretic sense) and contents seem to be static (again, pre-theoretically). Maybe this is my philosophy of language interest creeping in where it should not creep.

No comments: