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Matters Of Fact Relations Of Ideas Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 1551 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Humes fork has two kinds of judgments. The one prong is known as matters of fact. Matters of fact are known to be true on the basis of experience. They are usually empirically verifiable and contingently true. That is, they vary based on the world. An example of a statement that Hume would classify as a matter of fact is “The sun rose today” or “I exist.”

The other prong on Hume’s fork is called “relations of ideas.” Relations of ideas are known to be true independent of experience. They are self-evidently true. That is, if someone were to deny it as true, then they would be in contradiction. An example of this is “All fathers are male.”

b. Define these 3 kinds of judgments identified by Kant, and give one example of each: “a priori analytic”, “a posteriori synthetic”, “a priori synthetic”.

Believing that Hume’s fork was not fully correct, Kant came up with his three types of judgments. The first of which was the “a priori analytic.” A priori analytic statements are similar to Hume’s Relations of Ideas. That is, these statements allow one to gain knowledge without appealing to any particular experience as well as they are not expansive but explicative. In other words, they are self-evidently true and if one is to deny this, they would be in contradiction. An example of this would be “A bachelor is an unmarried man.” That is, the validity of this statement is tautological.

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A second type of Kantian judgment is known as “a posteriori synthetic.” A posteriori synthetic judgments are similar to Hume’s Matters of Fact. They are a posteriori because they are contingent facts that usually appeal to some particular experience to be known. They are synthetic as they are expansive, as they expand on the subject. An example of this kind of judgment would be “Some triangles are isosceles” or “Ryan is wearing a red hat.” Both of these require some experience that would allow for one to determine the truth value of the statements. Another way to think of examples of synthetic a posteriori statements is by thinking of possible worlds. That is, a statement that is synthetic a posteriori would be one that you can imagine a possible world with it without causing a contradiction. An example would be the sun is yellow. Obviously we can agree that in this possible world it is yellow, however, in another possible world, the sun could be bright purple and it would not cause a contradiction.

A third type of Kantian judgment, which Kant adds to correct Hume, is known as “synthetic a priori.” This doesn’t relate to any of Hume’s fork. As previously mentioned, it says a synthetic statement as it is expansive and it’s a priori they can be known without experience. It seems difficult to understand, yet this is what Kant brings in order to allow for metaphysics and even pure mathematics. An example of a synthetic a priori statement would be “Every event has a cause.” This is a synthetic a priori as we know it is true without having to experience it, but it is synthetic as it is expansive and not explicative.

c. Briefly, what kind of judgment does Hume take mathematical claims, such as 7+5=12, to be? What kind of judgment does Kant take mathematical claims, such as 7+5=12, to be?

Hume and Kant have different views when it comes to mathematical claims, such as 7+5=12. Hume would say that the statement 7+5=12 is a relation of ideas as it is a mathematical claim. That is, he views that if you deny 7 add 5 as the same as 12, you would be in contradiction. That is, 7+5 is defined as being equivalent to 12.

Kant would have a differing view when it comes to mathematical claims. Kant would say that 7+5=12 is a synthetic a priori statement. This is because Kant feels that 7+5 does not contain the concept of 12. That is, you can think of the prior without the second, which is what makes Kant feel it is synthetic, but as with most math principles, they are not seen in the world and are considered by Kant to be a part of the laws of nature. Therefore, Kant views them as a priori.

d. What is Kant’s answer to the question: “How is pure mathematics possible?”

Kant’s answer to the question “how is pure mathematics possible” is a very long one. In fact, it takes up a large section in his Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. He does this by explaining his “Copernican revolution” of space and time. Kant feels that space and time serve as indispensable tools that help arrange and categorize the images of objects imported by our sensory organs. Anything we see or hear would be useless unless our minds have some space and time to make sense of it. Kant, unlike Hume, wants it to be possible for us to have knowledge outside of experience. He writes “if intuition must conform to the constitution of the objects, I do not see how we could know anything of the latter a priori.” (pg. 516)

Yet, Kant feels that pure mathematics is only possible if we allow for a synthetic a priori statement to exist. (pg. 555) That is, a priori intuition would allow for the appearance of objects to be possible to us. Kant feels strongly that pure mathematics is only possible because we can have intuitions of space and time as phenomena. Phenomena are things as they appear to us given how our thought and sense perception work. However, it is important to note that Kant feels that pure mathematical propositions are not just creations of the imagination, but they do exist in space and time. (pg. 557-8) This is very important to Kant as it is one of his huge additions to Hume’s Fork which eliminated metaphysical claims and even math and science to an extent.

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3. Knowledge of Nature

a. Briefly, what does Kant mean by the term “experience”?

Kant uses many terms that require special definitions. One such term is experience. Experience to Kant is the “combination of an intuition with a concept in the form of judgment.” In other words, it requires concepts that allow us to express a “necessary and universal synthesis of intuitions. They describe the synthesis of intuitions in consciousness in general.

b. Briefly, how do judgments of experience differ from judgments of perception?

Judgments of perception are only subjectively valid. That is, they hold good only for us as individuals as they narrate how things appear to us as individuals. In other words, they describe the synthesis of intuitions in one’s own consciousness. An example of a judgment of perception is “The tower looks small to me” or “I feel the warm stone, then I see the sun shining on it.”

A judgment of experience is one that is about, or directed to objects of experience. An object of experience requires concepts that allow us to express necessary and universal synthesis of intuitions. In other words, it describes the synthesis of intuitions in consciousness. That is, they describe how we view the world is in general. An example of a judgment of experience would be “nature is the existence of things so far as it is determined according to universal laws.” It is a truth which is not subjectively qualified unlike a judgment of perception.

c. Why does Kant think that we can know a priori that “All events have a cause”?

Kant thinks that we can know a priori that “all events have a cause.” An a priori statement is one that is true in terms of its meaning alone. In other words, the statement “all events have a cause” is a fact upon which experience depends. Kant felt that the antithesis, “no event has a cause” would not produce a contradictory or meaningless statement, proving that it is synthetic. And the original statement, “all events have a cause” is a priori as Kant felt it can be known without the need of experience. Kant wrote that “the principles of possible experience are then at the same time universal laws of nature, which can be known a priori.” (pg. 565) In other words, Kant felt that “all events have a cause” would be considered a universal law of nature which are known a priori.

d. Give an example of a metaphysical claim that Kant thinks we are NOT entitled to make. Why would he think we are not entitled to make that metaphysical claim?

A metaphysical claim that Kant thinks we are not entitled to make would be “the soul is immortal.” He feels this is because metaphysical claims are illegitimate when they use a priori concepts beyond the bounds of any possible experience. Kant writes “examples can only be borrowed from some possible experience, and consequently the objects of these concepts can be found nowhere but in a possible experience. ” In other words, Kant writes that you cannot make a claim such as “the soul is immortal” without relating it to some possible experience and thus taking away the a priori concept.


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