Marxian Ivy
2 min readMar 7, 2022

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Reading Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (part 1)

Note: I’ll be honest and say I don’t have the best or most thorough understanding of Kant. However, I feel he is an extremely important philosopher to at least be somewhat familiar with. That’s what this (possible) series will hope to do: go over some very basic key concepts and hopefully make Kant more approachable.

1: Synthetical and Analytical Judgements

Synthetical Judgements are those in which the predicate is not contained in the subject, though ‘standing in connection with it.’

Analytical judgements are those in which the predicate is contained in the subject ‘in a confused manner’, ‘covertly’.

As an example of Analytical judgements, Kant uses, “all bodies are extended”, arguing that extension is contained in the conception of body. “All bodies are heavy”, however, is an example of a synthetical judgement, because heavy is not contained in a conception of body.

Importantly, Kant notes that all judgements of experience are synthetical, as the predicate of an analytical judgement is already contained in the subject, meaning that going “out of the sphere of my conceptions” and into experience to form an analytical judgement is “absurd.”

In other words, a synthetic judgement is a judgement which uses an element that is not contained in the concept being judged. For example, “trees fall” is synthetic because falling is not contained in a conception of a tree, without a connection to experience being made.

2: Pure and Empirical Knowledge

Empirical knowledge is knowledge that is known through experience. Kant uses the term à posteriori to refer to this kind of knowledge.

In contradistinction to à posteriori knowledge is à priori knowledge. Knowledge à priori is independent of all experience and sensous impressions which constitute the possibility of cognition itself.

Knowledge à priori is either pure or impure. Pure meaning it is free from any empirical element. Impure, obviously, meaning the opposite, that it involves an empirical element.

A proposition containing the idea of necessity is always a judgement à priori, as experience cannot give necessity. Experience can give the manner of an object’s constitution, but not that said constitution is necessary for the object’s existence.

Similarly, empirical judgements cannot be absolute or universal, because experience can only give us what has been, not what absolutely is. Thus if a judgement is absolute and universal it is known à priori.

3: Phenomenal and Noumenal

Phenomenal and Noumenal are more difficult concepts because at times they take on different meanings.

Phenomena is the world of experience and representation. It consists of what is knowable to man, objects as they appear in space and time

The Noumena, in the positive sense, is a world outside of experience, composed of objects-in-themselves. Noumenal then refers to the pure objects of this world, which provide us with the sensuous intuitions that are the preconditions of experience (space and time)

Noumena in a negative sense refers to a limit on knowledge, a barrier that prevents men from knowing pure objects.

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Marxian Ivy

Anarchist and Communist, affinity for schizoanalysis and ‘post-structuralism’