Time According to Immanuel Kant
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Immanuel Kant was an Enlightenment scholar and philosopher from Germany. His views on time can be summarized into 5 arguments, which are presented in his book Critique of Pure Reason. In it he states that time possesses both “empirical reality” and transcendental ideality”
" Time is not an empirical concept that is somehow drawn from experience. For simultaneity
or succession would not themselves come into perception if the representation of time
did not ground them a priori. Only under its presuppositions can one represent that
several things exist at one and the same time or at different times. "
His first argument states that our notions of time, such as simultaneity and succession are “mind-contributed”, meaning that our minds develop these ideas to explain the relationship of different events, because they are presupposed in our perception of simultaneous or successive events in time.
" Time is a necessary representation that grounds all intuitions. In regard to appearances
in general one cannot remove time, though one can very well take the appearances
away from time. Time is therefore given a priori. In it alone is all actuality of
appearances possible. The latter could all disappear, but time itself, as the universal
condition of their possibility, cannot be removed. "
His second argument postulates that time is an a priori structure (i.e. it is inherent in our mind without the use of empirical data) because there exists the possibility of considering time by itself, without the use of objects for it to define, however all objects must be defined by time.
"The a priori necessity also grounds the possibility of apodictic principles of the
relations of time, or axioms of time in general. It has only one dimension: different
times are not simultaneous, but successive...These principles could not be drawn from
experience, for this would yield neither strict universality nor apodictic certainty.
We would only be able to say: That is what common perception teaches, but not:
This is how matters must stand. These principles are valid as rules under which
experiences are possible at all, and instruct us prior to them, not through it."
His third argument claims that because time is a universal concept and is measured the same way by all people, it must be a priori, because if it was a posteriori, there would be “neither strict universality nor apodictic certainty." His fourth and fifth arguments, Kant argues that time is sensible, rather than conceptual imposed upon experience by the mind.
Following these arguments, he concludes that time could “subsist for itself or attach to things as an objective determination” (that it can either be a static idea or a modifier of an object), that time is “nothing more than the form of inner sense” (that it is a perception made by the mind and not a real measurement), and that time is “the immediate condition of inner intuition” and “the mediate condition of outer appearances” (that we sense time immediately within our minds, and then later apply the condition of time to objects and our surroundings)