Immanuel Kant On Time

Peter Oye Sagay

Philosopher Immanuel Kant (A.D. 1724 - 1804) was born in Konisberg, a city in a region that was east Prussia, but is now Kaliningrad, Russia. Kant's conception of Time is presented in his treatise, Critique Of Pure Reason, in the section he called Transcendental Doctrine Of Elements. His analysis of Time which remains one of the most insightful, is presented in the first part of this section which he called Trascendental Aesthetic.

Kant defined Transcendental Aesthetic as the "science of all the principles of sensibility a priori." He defined sensibility as "the capacity for receiving representations (receptivity) through the mode in which we are affected by objects." He asserted that the indispensable groundwork for relating to objects is intuition. Kant classified intuition into two primary types: empirical intuition and pure intuition. He defined empirical intuition as "that sort of intuition which relates to an object by means of sensation." By sensation, he means, "the effect of an object upon the faculty of representation." He defined phenomenon as "the undetermined object of empirical intuition." The content in the phenomenon that corresponds to sensation, he called matter. That which is responsible for arranging the content of phenomenon, he called its form. Kant asserted that "it is the matter of all phenomena that is given to us aposteriori; the form must lie ready apriori for them in the mind, and consequently can be regarded separately from all sensation." He defined pure intuition as " the pure form of sensibility...existing in the mind a which all the manifold content of the phenomenal world is arranged and viewed under certain relations." He proposed that Space and Time are two forms of pure intuition. Kant approached his analysis of Space and Time from both a metaphysical perspective which he called Metaphysical Exposition, and an epistemological perspective, which he called Transcendental Exposition. He then followed his analysis with his conclusions on both expositions.

Kant's fundamental assertions on space are that "Space is not a conception which has been derived from outward experiences. Space is a necessary representaion a priori, which serves for the foundation of all external intuitions. We never can imagine or make a representation to ourselves of the non-existence of space, though we may easily enough think that no objects are found in it. We can only represent to ourselves one space, and, when we talk of divers spaces, we mean only parts of one and the same space. Space is represented as an infinite given quantity."

Kant's fundamental assertions on Time, reveal the internal nature of Time, its wholeness and its continuity. He wrote: "Time is a necessary representation, lying at the foundation of all our intuitions. Time is not an empirical conception. For neither coexistence nor succession would be perceived by us, if the representation of time did not exist as a foundation a priori. Time is not a discursive, or as it is called, general conception, but a pure form of the sensuous intuition. Different times are merely parts of one and the same time. Time is nothing else than the form of the internal sense, that is, of the intuition of self and of our internal state. For time cannot be any determination of outward phenomena. It has to do neither with shape nor position; on the contrary, it determines the relation of representations in our internal state. And precisely because this internal intuition presents to us no shape or form, we endeavour to supply this want by analogies, and represent the course of time by a line progressing to infinity, the content of which constitute a series which is only of one dimension; and we conclude from the properties of as to all the properties of time...Time is therefore merely a subjective condition of our human intuition, in itself, independently of the mind or subject, is nothing...if we take away from it the special condition of our sensibility, the conception of time also vanishes; and it inheres not in the objects themselves, but solely in the subject (mind) which intuites them."
Sagay On Time

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