A Neuroscience Question about Kant

Gerald McNerney mcnerney at ix.netcom.com
Sat Feb 18 13:17:07 EST 1995


I would like to ask a question of neuroscientists.

The 18th century German-Idealist Philosopher Immanual Kant argues in the 
*Critique_of_Pure_Reason* that everything we perceive from the senses is 
subjected to the human modes of perception, namely space and time.  
Briefly, it is because all our empirical knowledge is thus conditioned, 
that mathematics (Euclidean geometry in particular) can be synthetic 
apriori.

Kant goes on to say that there are 12 categories of the understanding.  
These 12 categories, falling into four subgroups are as follows:

Group 1 of Quantity			Group 2 of Quality
	1. Unity				4. Relation
	2. Plurality				5. Negation
	3. Totality				6. Limitation

Group 3 of Relation			Group 4 of Modality
	7. Of inheritance 			10. Possibility & 
impossibility
		and subsistence
	8. Of cause and effect			11. Existence & 
Non-existence
	9. Of reciprocity			12. Necessity & 
contingency

According to Kant, these modes reside in our understanding.  Anything we 
understand must conform to these categories.

If this is so, then there must exist some mechanism of understanding 
which forms these categories.  It would be a set of circuit structures, 
or chemical messengers or some other neural mechanism that causes this. 
 Is there anything in neuroscience that resembles this, that could 
account for either the 12 categories of the understanding, or the space 
and time modes of perception?

Thanks for considering this question- Jerry McNerney




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