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The Architectonic Form Of Kant's Copernican System

771 words - 3 pages

The Architectonic Form of Kant's Copernican System

Human reason is by nature architectonic. That is to say, it regards all our
knowledge as belonging to a possible system. [Kt1:502]

1. The Copernican Turn
The previous chapter provided not only concrete evidence that Kant's
System is based on the principle of perspective [II.2-3], but also a general
outline of its perspectival structure [II.4]. The task this sets for the
interpreter is to establish in greater detail the extent to which the System
actually does unfold according to this pattern. This will be undertaken
primarily in Parts Two and Three. But before concluding Part One, it will
be helpful to examine in more detail the logical structure of the relationships
between the various parts of Kant's System, and how they fit together to
compose what we have called Kant's 'Copernican Perspective'.
Kant rather boldly compares the contribution made to philosophy by
Kt1 with that which Copernicus made to astronomy. Copernicus explained
'the movements of heavenly bodies' (i.e., of the planets, stars and sun) by
denying 'that they all revolved round the spectator' (i.e., the earth), as they
indeed appear to do, and suggesting instead that the earth and other planets
revolve around the sun while the stars remain at rest. Likewise, Kant
attempts to explain our knowledge of objects in general by denying 'that all
our knowledge must conform to objects', as it indeed appears to do, and
suggesting instead 'that objects must conform to our knowledge' [Kt1:xvi;
cf. Kt65:83]. This metaphor, expressing the difference between appearance
and reality in the theories of both Copernicus and Kant, suggests the
following two models:

(a) Appearance (b) Reality

Figure III.1: The Two Aspects of a Copernican Revolution

These diagrams can be used to represent Kant's Copernican revolution
simply by replacing 'earth' with 'subject' and 'sun' with 'object', and by
stipulating that motion represents the active, determining factor in
knowledge, while rest represents the passive factor. As a result, (a) would
depict the ordinary person's (as such, quite legitimate) Empirical
Perspective on the world, while (b) would depict the philosopher's special
Transcendental Perspective.
The 'change in perspective' [Kt1:xxii] required by the philosopher's
switch from (a) to (b) is the revolutionary 'touchstone' of Kant's entire
System [see II.1], for it reveals...

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