Free «Kant's Translation of Descartes» Essay Sample

To begin with, the topic under discussion is how Kant’s translation of Descartes account of the cognito or in simple terms the ‘I think’ is related to Descartes meaning. One of the targets of Kant’s ‘Transcendental Dialectic’ is Descartes, whose account of the cogito (Latin: I think) is an example of a paralogism—that is, a dialectical inference about the totality of the subjective conditions of experience. In simpler terms paralogism is a formally fallacious syllogism. In connection to this, based on these paralogisms, Kant has managed to criticize Descartes in relation to his account of the cognito.

 Basically, he has attacked Descartes account by use of a transcendental dialectic. In this sense, there are several faults that have been pointed out in Descartes account of cognito by Kant. At the advent of modern philosophy, Kant’s argument and philosophical views have received a lot of approval as they form the basis of the modern idealism. The difference between Kant’s account and the Descartes account of cognito has been drawn from the role that is played by ‘I’ in the ‘I think’.

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Following this point, it is important to note that in Descartes cognito, ‘I’ serves to express the identity between the subject of which ‘think’ is asserted in the proposition ‘I think’ and the subject currently thinking the proposition in which the predicate ‘think’ is attributed to a subject. According to Kant’s translation, in the transcendental deduction, the purpose of ‘I’ serves to express the identity of the subject that thinks a variety of thoughts about the objects of perceptual experience and commits himself to the consistency of his thoughts about those objects.

 Therefore, from the two accounts, the role played by ‘I’ in each case is different. According to Kant’s translation, he claims to improve the account of Descartes which points out that it is the same as ‘I exist’ bringing into view the point that ‘I exist thinking’.  In the same line of thought, Kant’s critique has included the issues to do with the paralogisms of pure reason. In essence, this is the point whereby Kant’s claims are grounded. Arguably, Kant’s critics are not primarily directed to Descartes; however, they have some relationship with post-Leibnizian Schulphilosophen.

This is particularly on the finicky issue of immortality of the soul. Generally, Kant’s thesis in the paralogisms is that rationalist metaphysicians illicitly translated into features of a thing the mere ‘logical features’ of the thought ‘I’ in the proposition ‘I think’. According to Descartes account, he reveals the notion that ‘I am a thing whose sole attribute is thinking’. Beyond the step by step procedures in the meditations that led to the conclusions of Descartes, Kant points out that there exist primitive thoughts that led to the conclusions of Descartes.

In regard to ‘I am a thing that thinks’, Kant agrees that of course if there is thinking there must be a thing that thinks. However, he states that from his point of view, there is a big problem when one calls that thing a substance. Due to this factor, he reveals that thing as that we know nothing about at all, except that it has some activity of thinking present to us as our own thinking. Kant also points out that calling that thing that thinks, a substance, calls for more investigation in order to establish the real features of that thing we refer to.

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When we attribute thought to ‘I’, it is evident that what comes out clearly is that the act of thinking is one and it is again indivisible. Kant’s translation that the thinking thing remains identical and it is conscious of its own numerical identity through time makes it clear that rational psychology is only an illusion. According to transcendentally ideal, since it is a mode that orders our intuition, it can be classified as a feature that describes our own sensibility. It has also been stated that this intuition derives its unity from a precisely transcendent unity of apperception. The conceptual basis of this apperception is the expression of the proposition ‘I think’ which is entitled to accompany all the representations of an individual.  In essence, the so referred to as ‘I’ in this context ought to be one and the same thing throughout the whole time that is covered by ones experience.

Kant also points out that although the ‘I’ has a logical identity, a change may occur that can make the ‘I’ not to keep its identity. Kant has also acknowledged the existence asserted in the proposition ‘I think’. This is to bring out the meaning that the ‘I think’ is an assertoric proposition which asserts the predicate ‘think’ of the subject ‘I’. Representations in this context can then be said to be accompanied by ‘I think’.  In the same line of thought, it is worth noting that Kant puts it that ‘I think’ is a sole text that is maintained by the rational psychology. This is whereby the rational psychologists derive their whole doctrine concerning the soul as a thinking substance.

 Notably, from Kant’s arguments as well as views, the ‘I think’ however, remains to be a form that is universally shared by all thinkers. Kant again asserts that the concept of existence that is at work in thinking is used to bring the meaning that the ‘I exist thinking’ as not a category of actuality at work when it is said that an object of experience exists.  Outstandingly, Kant supports the issue that ‘I’ refers to a thing that thinks and the fact that the existence of the thing is contained in the ‘I think’.

 He however differs with Descartes on the issue to do with thinking being the essential attribute of the thing. He also differs with Descartes on the view that it is a mind that is distinct from the body whose existence is actually more certain that that of bodies. According to the fourth paralogism by Kant, he explores some inference that he strongly refutes. For one, the inference involve issues to do with the fact that only those things that we a re immediately conscious have certain existence.

In line with this, the objects outside us are not objects we are immediately conscious of as well as fact that the existence of the things outside us is a possibility but not a certainty. In fact, Kant calls this a problematic idealism whereby the view of objects outside is merely probable and not certain. Following this point, Kant holds it that the external objects may be directly perceived and that such experience is a necessary presupposition of self-consciousness.  Therefore in this sense Kant states that the objects of outer space are objects of outer intuition of which they are immediately present as appearances. Descartes believes that soul can be known directly through reasoning while Kant disputes this factor. In addition, Kant views ‘I’ that is taken as the soul to be purely logical without perception.  

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From a general point of view, the Descartes account of Cognito revolve around the ‘I think’, ‘I am a thinking thing, thought is a property essential to me’, and the last and not the least the fact that ‘I am essentially a thinking thing, and not necessarily material’. In relation to the first three points of view according to Descartes, Kant can be viewed as to be somehow in agreement or rather to be seemingly endorsing the claims. Nevertheless, in the last two arguments or views, Kant then is showing a tendency of being in quarrel with Descartes.

From a broader point of view, Kant has a problem with the views of Descartes that ignores the boundary of possible sensory experiences.  In actual sense he denounces those illusions of the metaphysical thinking that do ignore stipulated limits. The criticisms of Kant in regard to Descartes theories have been given to several issues.

First, Kant has criticized the rationalist theories of the mind as a thinking substance that is distinct from the body. Secondly, he refutes the argument of the ontological proof of the existence of God, which is also termed as a Cartesian proof. This is then followed by another point of conflict between the two philosophers in regard to idealism whereby Descartes states that the existence of the mind is more immediately known and thus more certain than that of bodies inclusive of our own bodies. The Cartesian proof of God is refuted by Kant on the grounds that existence is not a predicate of a thing so that ‘God exists’ cannot be derived on the basis of analysis that God is the supposedly perfect being in existence.  Principally, he asserts that Descartes has been ignorant in his views of the fact that ‘my consciousness of the existence bodies outside me is just as immediate as my consciousness of the existence of my own mental states’.

From the information that has been provided in regard to Kant’s translation of Descartes account of cognito or ‘I think’, several issues have been brought forward. In this connection, it comes out so clearly that the role of ‘I’ in the ‘I think’ from Kant’s point of view differs from that of Descartes. Kant’s goes to an extra point of analyzing the role of ‘I’ as a point that makes it possible for ‘I’ to have a logical role to play. He explores the role of the ‘I’ independently.  Having pointed out to the differences that exist between the points of view of the two philosophers, it is worth noting the fact that Descartes tries to make us to view the world around us as well as understand it through the mind and the thought. However, his ideas have been so much criticized by Kant who has elaborated too much on what Descartes implies by the word ‘I think’.

In order to manage his task, Kant has tackled the issue to do with the role that is played by the ‘I’ in the ‘I think’. Since according to Descartes, God exists in thought, Kant refutes it on the basis that God’s existence is not predicate. Needless to say, the idea of Kant’s views can as well be said that it stems from the foundation of empiricism and rationalism. Most of Descartes work is based on the existence of God and from the information given above, his ideas have been revealed as to be born out of faith and thought.

As much as the mind perceives the reality, it creates it and therefore both sensory experiences and reasoning make the foundation for truth to be found. Kant is in agreement with the fact that everything that we perceive, think about, and thus know, is filtered through our senses and experience. At the same time, our mind is able to create and interpret experience and reality as it perceives it. From this account, it is important to state that the description of Descartes’ account of cognito by Kant is accurately explained on how he makes his inference exposing all the weaknesses that are found.

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