Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Immanuel Kant's "How is Metaphysics in General Possible?": A Summary

There is a ton of shit you can reason successfully about. Hell, math provides literally an infinite number of things you can reason about, including, conveniently enough, actual infinities. Still, some bros never have enough, and the stubborn fucks insist on trying to reason about experience. Of course, they all run into the same problem: it can't. fucking. be done.

Sure, you can understand experience, but that's completely different. Understanding just puts labels on everything so your brain can file it neatly away. That color you're seeing? Yellow. The shape? Curved. The curved yellow thing? Banana. Fucking CHECK. Everything you know about bananas, you know because you had an experience, and you understood; what the hell could reason possibly tell you beyond that? If you're trying to get to the 'essence' of a banana, its 'ultimate reality', then enjoy your aneurysm. 

Aristotle went on and on about 'essences' but no one has ever seen an essence because you can't see essences. There's no way to access them. We're stuck with phenomena, our subjective experiences, and those don't tell you shit about objective, ultimate realities, the noumena. Sorry, that's just the way it is. When bros try to reason their way across the divide, they make assholes of themselves.

You look skeptical. Alright hotshot, Mr. Thinks-he's-Chuck-Norris, I defy you to come up with one thing you can know about a banana that doesn't start with experience. Take as long as you like. I'll wait.
Done? Really? Nothing? You couldn't figure out what the 'banananess' of a banana is? Cool story - so why do you keep trying to do that with all of reality? If you can't even conquer the objective nature of a piece of fruit, good luck reasoning out the objective nature of the entire Universe. 

It's not your fault. You're certainly not the first to fail and try; some bros have made way more audacious claims than 'I've figured out bananas'. Descartes thought he figured out the mind, just because he 'thinks' or some shit. But all he did was identify a manifestation, an appearance of the mind in a thought. How? Fucking experience, that's how. Thinking is an experience too! And then he reasoned in circles for a while, said the soul was immortal without a fucking shred of proof, and published it. How could we know the soul is immortal? What an asshole.

The ancient Greeks? Those motherfuckers could reason their way to anything. "The world had a beginning - an infinite regress is impossible!" Okay, fair enough. "The world has no beginning - otherwise, there would have been nothing to start it!" Yeah, that makes sen- waaaaiiit a second. What? Both of those seem reasonable, since we can't experience either. That's exactly the sort of bullshit they loved to pull, those dicks. If you were busy thinking, "reason shouldn't be able to prove contradictions like that!" you get a gold star - that's exactly the problem. Time and space don't belong to reason, they belong to your experiences, except no one could have experienced the beginning of time. When you start applying reason to made-up experiences no one has actually had, you can prove anything you want, and things just stop making sense.

The same shenanigans happen with free will and determinism. We've all watched two bros go red in the face arguing over free will - the determinist just keeps going, "Well how does it work? How does it work? Everything is causality!" and the defender of free will just keeps going, "I don't know, but how do you keep choosing?!" It's like watching a Twilight fan try to solve a Rubik's cube. Except that the laws of nature belong to experience, and freedom is the ability to act outside those laws. So yeah, maybe it's true that every single experience we have is determined, because that's how we understand and organize experiences. But essences can be free, and we'd have no way of knowing - if you could explain freedom, it would just be more complicated determinism, which is exactly why that argument goes in circles. Apples and oranges, bro, apples and fucking oranges.

Look, there's a lot of shit about our experiences that we don't know; it's a great big fucking world out there. But there are no problems of reason that we can't solve, because we have complete access to reason. Which means if you find a problem you can't solve, it's not a reasonable problem. You've overstepped your boundaries, and your confusion is the cue to toe the fucking line. Metaphysics can't tell us anything anything about ultimate reality, so stop wasting your energy.

"How is Metaphysics in General Possible?" is part three of Immanuel Kant's Prolegomena To Any Future Metaphysics, which you can find online in its entirety, free of charge, on Wikisource.


  1. Yo PB, you forgot to add this: "And thus, I have completed all of philosophy! I am the greatest bro ever. Fuck yeah! You guys kant prove anything past what I just proved! Booyah!"

  2. Nicely done, bro. Kant is fucking awesome, anyone not agreeing with him should be shot in the head. It's like when bitches come to you and want you to marry them. The fuck you know about marriage, have you ever been married, bitch?

    1. This philosawannabe disagrees and does not want to be shot in the head. An unreasonable problem in this state of consciousness only. Metaphysics exist in altered states and since Philosopros assume this perception of reality is the only one they "Still experience the stars as something above them of them and therefore they lack a viewpoint of knowledge." Nietzshe kind of. Drop some acid and come back with a vantage point. Non simultaneously apprehended.

  3. Whooa. I need a minute to think on this one.

  4. Shit is ridiculous, I love it! I love you! BRO LOVE!.........No bromo.

  5. This is great. I love Kant when he talks about this stuff, it's all that categorical imperative business that kind of gets my goat.


    Peirce kind of gets into quantifying some metaphysical objects in his theory of signs - pay special attention to the ten types of signs (especially the qualisign).

    i am sure a semiotics discussion here will draw some rhetorical and logical fire but so it goes...

  7. Best secondary source on Kant I've read. Thanks.

  8. You have a nice mind bro. Not saying this as a compliment, deeper than that, in a "good to have you in this world" kind of way. Let it churn as far as it churns...

  9. shit like this gives me faith in mankind. i like your take on the writings ... true to the essence of their message but nice and personal aswell.

  10. Not once did I hear you mention Heidegger or Husserl, in a post all about phenomenology to boot! What kind of philosophy bro are you?!

  11. Posting again, because I suspect someone snipped my first one...

    Why, in all of your "philosophy bro" wisdom, did you not think to mention the thoughts and writings of Heidegger- much less Husserl- in a post that could benefit so greatly from a discussion of phenomenology?

    Is it "intro hour" here or something?

  12. Because Kant didn't mention them. Because they weren't alive yet when Kant wrote. Because that's how summaries work - they're translations of the original text. I discuss both Heidegger and Husserl elsewhere in the blog.

  13. hahaha, ownage bro. categorize that bitches!

  14. If we can only know the phenomena and the phenomena are subjective experience, then how can we know of a world external to phenomena, if there is such a thing? That is where Kant fails, and what Hume lead us to. So metaphysics is needed, but it can never be known.