[The following is something I’ve been tinkering with for a little while as I continue to delve into critical realism. It’s rough, I know, so I am just looking for constructive criticisms/suggestions or questions for developing it.]
Four reasons I think Kant is wrong about categories and noumena.
1. Humans spontaneously and naturally develop their cognitive apparatus by means of a dynamic, receptive, tentative interaction with the world, not simply by “making sense of” experience in a fluid, automatic, top-down way. This exploration into reality is fraught with confusion, errors, bumps, backtracking, and the help of other explorers.
A. If it is argued that this exploratory phase is just the person learning the topology of his own inner categorical structure (like a new pilot learning the control panel inside an the cockpit), this only begs the question: Is the categorical structure of human nature itself imposed by the human? Is human perception formally self-constitutive?
i. If it is, then there is really no natural topology to discover “within”.
ii. If it is not, then the topology of subjective cognition can only depend on something outside or apart from the self, namely, the topology of the actual world.
a. Cf. Hugo Meynell, The Intelligible Universe.
2. Our experience of the world, especially in the physics of the 20th century, has forced us to transcend, and in many cases even “violate”, our intuitive grasp of reality along the lines of Kantian categories. The counter-intuitiveness of the ways of the world indicates that we impose just as much order on them as they do upon us.
A. This is especially evident in the defeat of Kant’s beliefs that, because man has five senses, there are only five proper forms of exact science, and that Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics, because they were categorically “lucid”, were inviolable, even necessary, descriptions of the universe.
i. Cf. Stanley Jaki on Kant in numerous places.
3. The concept of a pure subjective awareness—the synthetic unity of apperception—is refuted by the radically social character of human thought, speech, and action. Only by being in an I-Thou world can we gain true subjectivity; and only by building from the dyadic encounter of I-Thou can we, in turn, attain the triadic utility of language. There is no pure, floating ego-consciousness that gazes upon the problematic spaces of the world (which includes Others) and instills order in it from above.
A. Cf. Walker Percy on the Delta Factor, L. Vygotsky, D. Melser, et al.
i. “Is the phenomenologist’s stronghold of the absolute priority of the individual consciousness so invulnerable after all? … If my every act of consciousness…is a through-and-through social participation, then it is a contradiction in terms to speak of an aboriginal ego-consciousness. There may be such a thing as an isolated ego-consciousness, but far from being the apodictic take-off point of a presuppositionless science, it would seem to correspond to Buber’s term of deterioration, the decay of the I-Thou relation into the objectivization of the I-It. It would appear that the transcendental phenomenologist is seizing upon a social emergent, consciousness, abstracting it from its social matrix, and erecting a philosophy upon this pseudo-private derivative. But the organism does not so begin. The I think is only made possible by a prior mutuality: we name. … The decisive stroke against the myth of the autonomous Kantian subject is the intersubjective constitution of consciousness. … The whole objectivizing act of the mind is to render all things darstellbar, not “proper” but presentable, that is, formulable. … The one thing in the world which by its very nature is not susceptible to a stable symbolic transformation is myself!”
(Walker Percy, The Message in the Bottle [New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1975, p. 275, 283])
4. A point closely connected with 3. is that positing the transcendental ego qua an anthropocentric frame of reference as the fundamental frame of reference for all known reality, seems fundamentally incompatible with the aim of exact science to find invariances across all frames of reference, including those non-anthropocentric and anthropically imperceptible frames of reference.
A. “[W]hen modern theology ties itself to a fixed point in man’s self-understanding so that man uses in his thought of God a system of reference which he determines or merely postulates for himself, this can only appear unintelligible and indeed quite arbitrary to modern science which must operate with constants irrespective of the observer or the choice of any particular frame of reference.”
(T. F. Torrance, Space, Time & Incarnation (Oxford, 1969, p. 47)