Essay: Kant's Transcendental Aesthetic

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Kant's Transcendental Aesthetic

The Transcendental Aesthetic is the manner by which we attain our sense-originated knowledge of the physical world. Knowledge is attained through the immediacy of our relation to objects and it is through that relationship that all our thoughts are directed thus our understanding of our world is shaped by our capacity for relating to the objects in the world around us. In essence, my understanding of a rock is built upon the depth of my capacity to experience the rock in any manner (physical, emotional, intellectual, etc.) that I have the capability of reaching. Thus, as I experience the rock through an immediate relationship to it and the context in which I encounter the rock, my understanding, my total definition of that which is "rock" also shapes how I understand, categorize, experience, relate to and function within the context of other objects just as the same is true in reverse for the rock. Our ability to function within the world is entirely dependent upon our understanding of the world. That understanding is wholly dependent upon our ability to perceive the world through depth of our relationships with the objects within it. These relationships are built both in space and in time and the appearance of an object, our "sense" of it, is thus shaped both by context in which we find the object and the time relative to our prior experiences (or lack) with that object.

Understanding the transcendental aesthetic is based upon the dual non-empirical entities of space and time. Space, itself, does not exist - there is no space, there are only things. The objects that are there in the world around us are labeled as being in "space" to allow for a mental framework with which to understand how an object can be related to. As we experience objects (people, buildings, situations, places, etc.) we form immediate understandings of them. First, there is the sense of the thing, sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell, and then there is the categorization of perception that is formed immediately within the famework of our existing understanding of objects. Our brain immediately asks, is this similar to other things I already am aware of or is this a new object never before encountered? As we do not function well with objects we cannot categorize with others, we immediately seek to understand and "explain" the unique and new in relationhip to other things. If we know that objects hanging from trees are generally edible such as apples, avocadoes, and walnuts, then when we encounter a pinecone for the first time hanging from a tree branch, our understanding of fruit-trees allows us to make a comparison. but, visually, as the pine cone does not resemble other familiar fruit, we cannot understand it as fruit yet.

As we experience objects, the space in which we encounter them (or the context) is not an object itself - our concept of space, then,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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