Source: p 114, A Little History of Philosophy (2011 ed; but 2012 Reprint ed extant) by Nigel Warburton PhD in Philosophy (Cambridge)

   If Kant is right, this is a breakthrough. Before him philosophers investigating the nature of reality treated it simply as something beyond us that causes our experience. Then the difficulty was how we could ever get access to that reality to say anything meaningful about it that was more than just guesswork. His great insight was that we could, by the power of reason, discover features of our own minds that tint all our experience. Sitting in an armchair thinking hard, we could make discoveries about reality that had to be true, yet weren’t just true by definition: they could be informative. He believed that by logical argument he had done the equivalent of proving that the world must necessarily appear pink to us. He’d not only proved that we are wearing rose-tinted spectacles, [1.] but had also made new discoveries about the various shades of pink that [2.] these glasses contribute to all experience.

I do not feel prepared yet to tackle Kant; so I do not know if this allegory in 1 originates from Kant or the author Dr Warburton.

  1. What does the allegory of various shades of pink mean?

  2. I also do not understand why in 2, these glasses is expressed as a Plural (in Number) Noun Phrase. According to Kant, (each person's) experience necessitates, and so is tinted by, the mind that metaphorised as the rose-tinted spectacles. So should not each person should be tinted by only ONE pair of rose-tinted sunglasses, and not the Plural Number as 2 implies?

  • For some reason, the more famous version is "rose-colored glasses" rather than pink glasses. But I feel like it's a translation from French originally. – virmaior Apr 19 '16 at 3:21
  • 1
    A pair of spectacles has two glasses, one for each eye. So this is just a grammatical convention, and not something meant to lead meaning. – user9166 Apr 19 '16 at 22:09

The metaphor of

the various shades of pink that [...] these glasses contribute to all experience

is not due to Kant, but presumably to Warburton or some other interpreter. It alludes to the a priori knowledge of our human mind as identified in Kant, Immanuel: Critique of Pure Reason (CpR):

1) The 2 pure forms of our intuition: space and time as the result from our human capabilities of sensuality (CpR: Transcendental Aesthetic)

2) The 12 pure concepts of our understanding: the categories as the result from our human capabilities of understanding (CpR: Transcendental Analytic)

3) The 3 pure ideas of our reason: Freedom, God, Immortality as the result from our human capabilities of reason (CpR: Transcendental Dialectic)

The first 2+12 capabilities are the spectacles from the metaphor. Consequently all our experience is built by using them, i.e., looking through these glasses. Notably, objects appear in space and time, which relates to some of the colours of the metaphor. Furthermore the interaction of the objects, which appear, follows a causal law, which relates to an other colour from the metapher.

  • Completely agree. The passage quoted is confusing in that post-Kantians can mean something different by "various shades of pink" -- i.e. that we don't all share the same apparatus, but for Kant, it's more so the whole creates a single thing. – virmaior Apr 19 '16 at 3:18
  • Thanks. You wrote that The first 2+12 capabilities are the spectacles from the metaphor, but can you please clarify which (capabilities) are the various shades of pink? – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Apr 20 '16 at 19:26
  • Would you please respond in your answer, which is easier to read than comments? – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Apr 20 '16 at 19:26
  • Sorry to trouble you, may I please ask if you have seen the above? – Greek - Area 51 Proposal May 14 '16 at 22:18
  • @LePressentiment You are asking virmaior, not me, aren't you? – Jo Wehler May 15 '16 at 6:39

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