PL 201 Discussion 3 Immanuel Kant’s Epistemology

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Immanuel Kant’s Epistemology




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Immanuel Kant’s Epistemology

Pure knowledge is what some may describe as knowledge of the moment because it doesn’t depend upon thought or memory. It is a comprehension without accumulation, logical and necessary truths that are also strictly universal knowledge that we have without experience. For instance, ‘I am playing’, there is no contamination of the player or the experiencer (Kant, 1787)

On the other hand empirical knowledge is from experience .It is knowledge that is gained by accumulation. It is comes from the memory about things that have been kept and carried from the past.

For example. All boys are stubborn or my best friend is the most handsome young man I have ever seen. One thing that is clear about all these examples is that the experiencer distorts and contaminates the experience with.

‘All bachelors are unmarried’, the predicate of the statement is on what is being said about the subject( are unmarried) while ‘bachelors in the U.S wear colored or printed jockey shorts’ is more informative and not just definitional. It doesn’t require any experience to tell that all bachelors are unmarried it is universally known truth but you will need some research to find out if really all bachelors wear colored or printed jockey shorts.‘All crow are birds’, this is pure knowledge because it is based on logical and necessary truths while, ‘all crows are black’ is statement that is based on one having some prior knowledge that has risen out experience.

‘All vixens are female’, is based on pure knowledge that is independent of any experience while, ‘all vixens are cunning’, is posteriori knowledge (which is based on experience). The first part of these statement rests on rational intuitions and universal truth and it is different from the second part because the second pair are empirically justified (if indeed they are justified).

‘A cat is feline’, is priori or what is called pure knowledge because it based on reason and knowledge but ‘a cat is sleeping on the kitchen mat’, requires someone to have seen a cat sleeping’, it comes from experience (posteriori knowledge).

‘If A is taller than B, and B is taller than C, then A is taller than C,’ these statement is based on reason and logic, and almost everyone will agree with it because it makes sense and there is no need for prior experience or no need to have seen A, B,and C while the second part can’t be justified in the same way. The only way one can make such assertions is by experience and not logic. It is empirical justification: ‘Shaquille O’Neale is taller than Kobe Bryant, and Kobe Bryant is taller than Tony Parker (famous basketball players).’

A house is an abode for living’, pretty straight forward and common knowledge based on universally agreed truth while the second part, ‘a house with cracks in the foundation is unsafe’, you can’t not know by reason alone, you must refer to some knowledge or experience. It may require living in a house with a cracked foundation to know just how dangerous and risky that can be.

All rubies are red’, this based on gemologists say that rubies are red and the very concept of a ruby means that has to be red (priori justification) while ‘Topaz is either blue, orange, yellow, or yellowish brown’, the topaz is unlike the ruby and to be able to know its chemical composition requires an empirical study


Kant, Immanuel, 1787, Critique of Pure Reason, Norman Kemp Smith (transl.), New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1965.

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