Some readers of Explaining Postmodernism object that I over-interpret Kant’s skepticism. Some prefer a gentler, more objectivity-friendly Kant. So while I quote Kant a lot in making the argument that Kant’s philosophy is radically subjectivist and the critical step down the road to postmodernism, not everyone is convinced.
So I am grateful to Quee Nelson for the following fine collection of quotations from various of Kant’s works, all supporting the Kant-as-subjectivist thesis. The quotations are included in the Appendix to Nelson’s (recommended) The Slightest Philosophy.
“It still remains a scandal to philosophy and to human reason in general that the existence of things outside us … must be accepted merely on faith, and that if anyone thinks good to doubt their existence, we are unable to counter his doubts by any satisfactory proof.” Critique of Pure Reason, B519.
“All objects of an experience possible for us are nothing but appearances, i.e., mere representations, which … have outside our thoughts no existence grounded in itself. … The realist … makes these modifications of our sensibility into things subsisting in themselves, and hence makes mere representations into things in themselves.” Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, 13, Note II.
“The senses … never and in no single instance enable us to know things in themselves.” Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, Part I, Book I, Chap. I, sec. II, 55.
“Things in themselves … cannot be objects of experience.” Critique of Pure Reason, A385.
“Matter … is nothing other than a mere form or a certain mode of representation of an unknown object.” Critique of Pure Reason, B45.
“Nothing intuited in space is a thing in itself … what we call outer objects are nothing but representations of our sensibility the form of which is space. The true correlate of sensibility, the thing in itself, is not known, and cannot be known, through these representations; and in experience no question is ever asked regarding it.” Critique of Pure Reason, A370.
“External objects (bodies) are merely appearances, hence also nothing other than a species of my representations.” Critique of Practical Reason, Part I, Book I, Chap. I, sec. II, 54.
“The objects with which we have to do in experience are by no means things in themselves but only appearances.” Critique of Pure Reason, B520.
“Appearances are not things, but rather nothing but representations, and they cannot exist at all outside our minds.” Critique of Pure Reason, B235.
“Phenomena are not things in themselves, and are yet the only thing that can be given to us to know.” Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, Part One, Remark II, 288-289.
“The non-sensible cause of these representations is entirely unknown to us.” Critique of Pure Reason, A494/B522.
“As we have just shown that the senses never and in no manner enable us to know things in themselves, but only their appearances…we conclude that all bodies together with the space in which they are, must be considered nothing but mere representations in us, and exist nowhere but in our thoughts.” Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, Part One, Remark II, 288-289.
“Your object is merely in your brain.” Critique of Pure Reason, A484/B512.
“It is also false that the world (the sum total of all appearances) is a whole existing in itself … appearances in general are nothing outside our representations.” Critique of Pure Reason, A507/B535.
“Since space is a form of that intuition we call outer … we can and must regard the beings in it as real; and the same is true of time. But this space and this time, and with them all appearances, are not in themselves things; they are nothing but representations and cannot exist at all outside our minds.” Critique of Pure Reason, A492/B520.
“The understanding itself is the lawgiver of Nature; save through it, Nature would not exist at all.” Critique of Pure Reason, A126.
“If I remove the thinking subject, the whole corporeal world must at once vanish.” Critique of Pure Reason, A383.
[See: Primacy of Consciousness]
“If then, as this critical argument obviously compels us to do, we hold fast to the rule above established, and do not push our questions beyond the limits within which possible experience can present us with its object, we shall never dream of seeking to inform ourselves about the objects of our senses as they are in themselves.” Critique of Pure Reason, A380.
“I had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith.” Critique of Pure Reason, Bxxx.
Related on Kant:
* My interpretation of Kant’s epistemology in Chapter Two of Explaining Postmodernism.
* Immanual Kant versus Liberalism — my three Cato articles collected.
* Kant on collectivism and war.
* Is commerce rendering war obsolete?
* Education: Locke versus Kant.
* Philosophy’s longest sentences, Part 2.
* Kleist: How Kant ruined my life.
* On “giving back”.
* Kant and modern art.
* Is modern art too complicated for us? [with quotations from Kant’s Critique of Judgment].
* Heine on Kant: The Department of Great Putdowns.