4

Kant's epistemology: There are facts out there, but we can never access them directly, we can only perceive them the way they are presented to us by our own minds.

Quine: There are facts out there, but we can never access them directly, we can only represent them using our language structure.

  1. Is Quine really saying the same thing as Kant, except using the concept of language as oppose to that of mind dependent sense perception?

  2. If that is indeed the case, why is Kant considered and idealist while Quine is considered an empiricist?

  3. Why does Kant's epistemology require the analytic/synthetic distinction while Quine can do away with it?

4

Kant's epistemology: There are facts out there, but we can never access them directly, we can only perceive them the way they are presented to us by our own minds.

No, this specific piece has no special relation to Kant. It has been accepted by (almost) every western philosopher in the last 500 years, together with the rejection of the Aristotelian/Scholastic direct-perception epistemology.

Quine: There are facts out there, but we can never access them directly, we can only represent them using our language structure.

Roughly, although the words "facts" and "represent" have no place in Quine's vocabulary (see more on this below).

Is Quine really saying the same thing as Kant, except using the concept of language as oppose to that of mind dependent sense perception?

More or less, but see my comments above. The above formulations have no specific relation to Kant or to Quine. You might as well have said that all the western philosophers in the last 500 years are saying the same.

If that is indeed the case, why is Kant considered and idealist while Quine is considered an empiricist?

First, idealism and empiricism are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, almost all the empiricists, from Berkeley to Ayer, were idealists. Quine himself was non-commital about idealism (see his "on what there is"). What "saved" Quine from being an idealist like his empiricist predecessors, is that he usually rejected "sense data", the supposed mental intermediary between mind and world. Instead, Quine held that our connection to the world is merely causal. That is, without intermediary, but also without representation.

Why does Kant's epistemology require the analytic/synthetic distinction while Quine can do away with it?

Kant's epistemology requires the analytic/synthetic distinction, because it puts crucial emphasis on synthetic-a-priori statements. Quine does away with the a-priori entirely, and therefore does also not require the analytic/synthetic distinction.

  • Regarding Kant's epistemology: Fair enough, but how can one express Kant's distinction between the noumenon and the phenomenon, without oversimplifying then? – Alexander S King Aug 8 '16 at 5:58
  • Or that thing about seeing the world through rose tinted glasses? – Alexander S King Aug 8 '16 at 6:04
  • @AlexanderSKing That's a good question. The reality (things in themselves) vs appearance distinction is in fact ancient, definitely not a specialty of Kant's. What makes Kant version unique are some further additions, like (1) Kant's things-in-themselves conform to our cognition, in a way that generates a lot of a priori knowledge about the world. (2) The use that Kant makes of the things-in-themselves endows them with ethical and religious, not just metaphysical, connotations. For example, Kant's solution to the problem of free will depends on the things-in-themselves. Kant calls this "to l – Ram Tobolski Aug 8 '16 at 17:48
  • Kant calls this "to limit knowledge in order to make room for faith". – Ram Tobolski Aug 8 '16 at 17:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.