Immanuel Kant’s ‘Organic Contact Lenses’

Immanuel Kant [1724-1804] Bucknell University Gallery

Immanuel Kant’s work had much to do with the ideas of Knowledge and ‘Knowing’.

Kant tried to identify the ‘First Principles of Knowing’ itself, reaching back to Aristotle’s Principle of [Non] Contradiction and Categories [Cause, Necessity, Contingency, etc ].

Along with ‘Space’ and ‘Time’, the ground conditions of Sensibility, they made up the Kantian Grid.

You cannot but view the World through these fundamental constructions, said Kant. They are organic contact lenses, hard-wired processors, the immutable framework within which must arise all Knowing and Understanding.

But what about these conditions themselves? How does one see one’s own organic contact lenses? How does one ‘Know the Knowing’?

Unlike most philosophers, Kant was vividly alert to the Loop although he never took his own understanding to its necessary, implosive limit.

From Kant’s: ‘Critique of Pure Reason’:

If deduction of these conceptions is necessary, it must always be Transcendent. All attempts at an empirical deduction in regard to pure and a priori conceptions are in vain, and can only be done by one who does not understand the altogether peculiar nature of these conceptions.’

If you don’t see the significance of that qualification you will elaborate learnedly on the nature of Kant’s organic lenses while wearing them securely atop your nose.

And find yourself willy-nilly in the center of the vortex. Which is exactly where Universities are today.


[Kant was perhaps the first modern philosopher to use the word ‘Transcendent’ widely and in its proper meaning.]

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