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Kant, Newton, and the conditions of possible experience

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Kant, Newton, and the conditions of possible experience

Cochrane, Linda (2006) Kant, Newton, and the conditions of possible experience. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Kant limited knowledge to the objects of possible experience "whose objective reality can be proved." To support his position, he sought to demonstrate the principles underlying all theoretical knowledge. He thus sought the a priori presuppositions necessary for the possibility of experience. In the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, Kant demonstrates that experience includes scientific experience and even seems to imply that the notion of experience is exhausted by scientific experience. Owing to his apparent restriction of experience, and, hence, knowledge, to the objects of Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics, several philosophers have suggested that developments in non-Euclidean geometries and modern physics have undermined Kant's necessary conditions of possible experience. In this thesis, I attempt to show that Kant did not contend that Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics had absolute validity, but limited their applicability to nature " so far as it can be perceived by our senses. " Given this limitation, non-Euclidean geometries and the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics cannot be used to undermine Kant's necessary conditions of possible experience. In other words, the infinitesimally small objects and distances of Quantum Mechanics; the extremely large objects, distances, and velocities of Relativity; and the multiple dimensions of String Theory all lie outside the frame of reference of sensible nature. Further, Newtonian physics is not only a useful way of describing and coping with empirical reality, but is a reflection of the way that the human cognitive capacity functions--that is, humans, and perhaps most other beings, synthesise a Newtonian reality.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Philosophy
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Cochrane, Linda
Pagination:vii, 95 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Philosophy
Date:2006
Thesis Supervisor(s):Zeman, Vladimir
ID Code:9232
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:18 Aug 2011 14:47
Last Modified:29 Nov 2011 14:59
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