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Worlds apart: a Copernican critique of Kantian idealism

Ryall, Julian 2013. Worlds apart: a Copernican critique of Kantian idealism. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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In spite of his claim to have established with certainty and without omission the many transcendental grounds of experience, there is something fundamental pertaining to every possible experience which the ‘critical’ philosophy of Immanuel Kant fails to explain. The obstacle blocking the path to a solution is the critical method itself and the ingenious but misguided orientation which informed the Kantian enterprise from its inception. Kant compared this new orientation to ‘the first thoughts of Copernicus’ and indeed, ever since, ‘The Copernican Revolution in Philosophy’ has stood as title for that seismic shift in philosophical consciousness. Yet it is to Copernicus that we owe our problem and it is the Copernican world–view, acknowledged by Kant to be ‘true’, which requires us to reverse his dictum that ‘objects conform to our cognition’. The necessity for this rests on the most basic of observations: human beings – together with their faculties of apprehension – travel through space and time in a non–apprehensible way, implying that spatiotemporality exists independently of the observing subject since it is in virtue of this true movement alone that all apparent motion is generated, which appearances, however, ‘contradict’ the reality. The ‘something’ which Kant cannot explain, therefore, is the phenomenon of observer motion (in contrast to observed motion, the most his approach accommodates) since his ontological denial regarding space and time and his equivalence thesis in respect of ‘experience’ and ‘objectivity’ requires that he discount this phenomenon on principle. In determining, therefore, the ontological and epistemological implications of the opposing Copernican principle that it is our cognition that conforms to objects, it is argued that space and time are transcendentally real and the apprehending subject physically (rather than ‘empirically’ or ‘noumenally’) constituted, leaving the reader with a simple choice: Kant or Copernicus, but not both.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Additional Information: A print copy of this thesis is available for consultation and for inter-library loan.
Funders: J.E. Williams studentship
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2019 01:51

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