Kant's theory of the thing in itself in the Critique of Pure Reason
Glidewell, Richard Alfred
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The thing-in-itself has been one of the most controversial concepts of Kant's philosophy. It has been a point of continual difficulty since the publication of Critique of Pure Reason in 1781. The most widespread of the many criticisms has been that Kant, in positing a thing-in-itself, has violated his own dictum that our categories cannot be legitimately applied to the intelligible world. Commentators on Kant tend either to severely attack or completely ignore this concept. In either case, the crucial role played by the thing-in-itself in the critical philosophy makes any objections concerning it extremely important. The purpose of this thesis is to show that the thing-in-itself is a more defensible concept than many of Kant's critics claim it to be. This thesis deals with three questions: (1) What is the relationship between the thing-in-itself and appearances? (2) In what significant ways are the concepts of noumenon and thing-in-itself related? (3) Are the thing-in-itself and the transcendental object identical or distinguishable concepts? I maintain that (1) the relationship between the thing-in-itself and appearances is not one of causation and must remain unknown, (2) that "noumenon" and "thing-in-itself" are concepts with different intensions but which can have the same referent, and (3) that "transcendental object" and "thing-in-itself" are in no sense equivalent concepts. The principal commentaries dealt with in my thesis are: Norman Kemp Smith, A Commentary to Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason"; H. J. Paton, Kant's Metaphysic of Experience: T. D. Weldon, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason; H. W. Cassirer, Kant's First Critique: and A. C. Ewing, Idealism: A Critical Survey.