Kelley’s Kant

In his excellent book The Evidence of the Senses (ES), David Kelley included some remarks on Immanuel Kant’s mature theoretical philosophy by way of contrast with the realist theory of perception which Kelley had developed within the metaphysical and epistemological framework of Ayn Rand. I examine Kelley’s representation of Kant in ES in the link below. Prof. Randall R. Dipert (1951–2019) criticized Dr. Kelley’s representations of Kant in ES in a Review Essay in Reason Papers (1987). I shall be examining Dipert’s criticisms as well as the later criticisms of Kelley’s Kant by Prof. Fred Seddon.

18 thoughts on “Kelley’s Kant

  1. Irfan, do you recall a paper by Harold I. Brown that included considerable discussion of Kelley’s book ES? You had told me of it a thousand years ago. I have a hardcopy somewhere, but haven’t been able to locate it. If I knew the title, I could probably find it online, such as at JSTOR.


  2. Thanks, Irfan. That one does touch on Kelley at a couple of points, and the year 1992 sounds right for the paper I am recalling. However, in the paper I recall, Brown really took on addressing Kelley’s book head-on. But this paper is also helpful.


    • I don’t recall an in-depth discussion of Kelley by Brown, but if he has one, it’s likely to be in items #5 and/or 10 under his article listing, and/or in his book on perception. One philosopher who has a substantive critical discussion of Kelley’s views on perception is Michael Huemer, in Skepticism and the Veil of Perception. Brown I’m not sure about.

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      • Irfan,

        You are correct. My memory of how much Brown had discussed Kelley’s book in Brown’s paper had gotten exaggerated in my memory.

        You wrote a letter to me from Notre Dame in July of 1993. You had evidently read a paper at the IOS seminar that summer. (Looking into old materials from those seminars, the best I can figure out, this was the seminar in Rhode Island, and your presentation was an auxiliary one to the presentations for which I have handouts.) Your letter mentioned that we had met (first met) at that seminar, had had good private discussions, and your letter included a list of bibliographic references you had mentioned at the seminar. The list included your recollection that Brown had written an article the year before in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research which discussed The Evidence of the Senses. I see I had written on your letter the call number for that item, indicating I had located and copied it at DePaul, which was not far from where I lived and whose library was open to the public. Doing a search for Brown now of that journal at JSTOR, the paper is definitely his “Direct Realism, Indirect Realism, and Epistemology” which I have downloaded and had long ago copied hardcopy.

        In my upcoming coverage of and response to Dipert’s paper on ES I want to cover not only his direct criticisms on Kelley’s representation and analysis of Kant. I want to also address the issues Dipert takes up in Kelley’s theory of perception, their fate in subsequent scientifically informed philosophy of perception, and how Kant’s philosophy fairs in light of those developments.

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        • Ah, the good old days, when I actually had time to read things and attend summer seminars. That’s quite a blast from the past. I wish I had records as detailed as that.

          The 1993 seminar was indeed the one at Roger Williams College in Rhode Island. I didn’t give a presentation at that one, and don’t remember there being a presentation on the epistemology of perception that time, either. Roderick Long and Michael Young were both there, and both gave presentations (Roderick on teleology, Michael on philosophy of mind). Jim Lennox also gave a paper on teleology. I don’t remember the other presentations very well.

          Brown aside, I don’t remember what other paper I could have been referring to back then. I had just taken my grad seminar in epistemology that spring, and remember vividly that I was studying Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason for my comprehensive exams. I spent the “free day” at the 1993 seminar reading Kant, which I found quite amusing, given the circumstances. Actually, come to think of it, I wrote my qualifying paper around that time on the philosophy of perception, so my list may have come from that.

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  3. Your list did not include any Kant things, just some contemporary philosophy of science and the Brown thing. Other presenters were Jurgen Brakas on Aristotle and Ken Livingstone on brain and consciousness. While you were surreptitiously studying Kant on the free day, I had gone over to Newport to see the places of the old upper crust. Always remember sitting on a boulder a bit into the ocean with a young man who had come over to the conference from Paris. We talked on and on with the waves.


  4. (I think I can put the text linked in the initial post of this thread right here and continue with the additional installments as completed. It’s not very bloggish, but I expect of interest to some readers here.)

    Dipert & Seddon on Kant v. Kelley/Rand

    Let KrV stand for Kritik der reinen Vernunft = Critique of Pure Reason. In citations A designates the first edition (1781), and B designates the second edition (1787).

    ~Kelley and Rand on Kant~

    In his excellent book The Evidence of the Senses (ES), David Kelley included some remarks on Immanuel Kant’s mature theoretical philosophy by way of contrast with the realist theory of perception which Kelley had developed within the metaphysical and epistemological framework of Ayn Rand. Dr. Kelley’s book assimilates pertinent modern cognitive science up to the year of its publication 1988. It engages contemporary philosophers and classic modern ones Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant.

    “The theories of perception of John Locke and Immanuel Kant, of A. J. Ayer and Wilfred Sellars, derive as much from general assumptions about the nature of cognition as from any facts about perception in particular. . . . /  The fundamental question in this respect is whether consciousness is metaphysically active or passive by nature. Is consciousness creative, constituting its own objects, so that the world known depends on ourselves as knowers; or is it a faculty of response to objects, one whose function is to identify things as they are independently of it? In Ayn Rand’s terms, it is a question of the primacy of consciousness versus the primacy of existence: do the contents of consciousness depend on the subject for their existence or identity, or do the contents of consciousness depend on external objects?” (ES 8)

    I’ll take it that by “contents of consciousness” it would be a poor analogy to think of the contents of my coffee mug. Surely that would be lame. The woods outside my window that I can see are out there, not inside my consciousness ticking along and located here with me at the computer; whereas, the coffee in my mug is simply in that mug. “Contents of consciousness” would be more sensibly analogized with an electronic, compact-disc recording of a song, where said song is analogue of the object of an object-tracking episode of consciousness. The song is gotten into the recording from outside the recorder and put again outside when the CD recording is played. Actions vis-a-vis the song are required to get a recording of it. Actions of ours and the CD player are required for the song to reappear.

    Kelley erred badly in the following representation of Kant:
    “Kant begins by distinguishing appearance from reality. We are directly aware, he says, only of appearances—or phenomena, as he calls them. These exist only as the representational content of experience and are thus to be contrasted with noumena, or things as they are in themselves, things as they are apart from our experience.” (ES 21)

    ‘Appearance’, ‘experience’, ‘phenomena’, and ‘noumena’ are technical terms in Kant’s idealism, which can be variously called Critical, Formal, or Transcendental Idealism. Kant’s use of appearance in his mature philosophy (KrV and beyond) is not in contrast to reality, but to things as they are in themselves. Appearances, in Kant’s sense, are  presented to us as they are in us. They are nothing unreal. They are real, though not what Kant would call objectively real in themselves or what we should call real as existents external to consciousness. Combined with consciousness of them, appearances are perceptions. There is an active power in us that synthesizes an order for appearances and makes them coherent and apprehensible for us, that is, makes them empirical experience (A120, A124).

    By Kant’s lights, we have also an enduring ‘I’ of pure apperception that is correlate of all presentations to us insofar as we become conscious of them. This attendant pure apperception makes apprehended appearances intellectual (A124). These contain concepts, and this pure apperception “makes possible the formal unity of experience and with it all objective validity (truth) of empirical cognition” (A125). This pure apperception bringing sensible presentations under one consciousness “precedes all cognition of the object, as the intellectual form of that cognition, and itself amounts to a formal a priori cognition of all objects as such insofar as they are thought (the categories)” (A129).

    Phenomena in Kant’s sense, are appearances insofar as these are thought as objects according to the unity of the categories (A249). Phenomena are nothing unreal.

    Contrary the implication of Kelley’s brief sketch above, things as they are in themselves are not necessarily identically noumena, though it should be stressed that, in Kant’s system, neither is knowable by us. Things in themselves and noumena can be thought, but not known. Noumena was a technical term of philosophy not original with Kant. Noumenal objects in metaphysics had been such things as God, monads, and the immortal human soul. Their access had been by intellect, and a crucial part of that process of access had been taken to be a human power of intellectual intuition. Kant denied we have that power. We have sensible intuitions alone. These are the immediately grasped singular presentations of the senses, and all our knowledge of the world is ultimately from these. Things in themselves in Kant’s meaning are the things that appearances are the appearances of. But according to Kant, we should not be looking to appearances and the phenomenal to the end of learning what are things in themselves. That is not the prize we should seek in our sound inquiries.

    Rand and we should agree with that last point of Kant’s, but for a radically different reason. Things in themselves did not mean for Kant and his predecessors only things as they are independently of our discernment of them. It meant more generally things as they are devoid of any relations to other things. As has been noted earlier on this forum, in Galt’s Speech, Rand booted the general notion of things in themselves and replaced it with simply things as they are. In her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, she articulated some additional metaphysics, and among these additions was the thesis that no existent is without relation to other things. A thing purported to stand in no such relations would be nothing (ITOE 39). The correct and easy inference we ought draw is that things in themselves are not things as they are. We know some of the things as they are, we aim to discover more of them, and any contention that there are any things as they are unknowable to us bears the burden of proof. That is a heavy burden, considering that there are no things as they are which do not stand in some external relations. Things “are not such that nothing that pertains to one kind is related to another, but there is some relation” (Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1075a16–17).

    I should say: Things in themselves are not things as they are independently of our discernments of them nor things as they are when we discern them. There are no things in themselves. Then too: Kant affirmed there are things in themselves, and this puts him in an untenable position of supposing that things in themselves are as in no relations to things not themselves, yet saying things in themselves stand in an undergirding-relation to appearances.

    Kelley makes an understandable error concerning Kant, which is partly due to the Kemp Smith translation of KrV. Of things as they are in themselves, apart from all the receptivity of our senses, we know nothing. “We know nothing but our mode of perceiving them” (A42 B59). The translation of Pluhar reads “All we know* is the way in which we perceive them. (*–More literally, ‘are acquainted with’: kennen.).” The translation of Guyer reads “We are acquainted with nothing except our way of perceiving them.” The Kemp Smith translation, now overrun by the later ones, had made Kant out to be more subject-sided than he was. To be sure, Kant flirts with the empirical idealism of Berkeley by that statement, under any of these translations, when we take the statement from its full context. Kelley quotes the text preceding the statement and italicizes the statement to emphasize it. Kelley takes the passage as supporting his view, coinciding with Rand’s, that for Kant it is because our faculties of awareness have a specific identity, we cannot know things as they are in themselves.

    Like Rand, having supposed that appearance is in contrast to things as they are, having slipped from things as they are in themselves to things as they are, Kelley concluded that the view of Kant implies we cannot know the real (leaving aside mathematics) because all our knowing is by specific means (ES 22). I say that in the context of Rand’s philosophy, as we have shown, one should never make the slip of taking things in themselves as things as they are. Rand, Branden, Kelley, and Peikoff all made that slip and wrongly concluded that Kant’s system entails our inability to know reality, systematically so.

    Kant’s statement highlighted by Kelley shifts focus from things as they are perceived by us to the mode or way of our perception. That the statement was exactly right for Kant to say, within his own treatment of perception, is belied by the text following the statement:
    “We are acquainted with nothing except our way of perceiving them, which is peculiar to us, and which therefore does not necessarily pertain to every being, though to be sure it pertains to every human being. We are concerned solely with this. Space and time are its pure forms, sensation in general its matter. We can cognize only the former a priori, i.e., prior to all perception, and they are therefore called pure intuition; the latter, however, is that in our cognition that is responsible for it being called a posteriori cognition, i.e., empirical intuition. The former adheres to our sensibility absolutely necessarily, whatever sort of sensations we may have; the latter can be very different. Even if we could bring this intuition of ours to the highest degree of distinctness we would not thereby come any closer to the constitution of objects in themselves. For in any case we would still completely cognize only our way of intuiting, i.e., our sensibility, and this always only under the conditions originally depending on the subject, space and time; what the objects may be in themselves would still never be known through the most enlightened cognition of their appearance, which alone is given to us.” (KrV A42–43 B59–60 [Guyer])

    Kant, then, was not claiming that the “matter” of percepts, which varies with what is perceived in our different episodes of perception, are from the side of the subject; only spatial and temporal form in such percepts originates from the constitution of the subject. Yet that is not the impression one gets if one attends only to “We are acquainted with nothing except our way of perceiving them” or “We know nothing but our mode of perceiving them.” Our perceptions have a matter to them, in Kant’s full view, and this does not come from the subject. Of course, it is bad enough that Kant tried to pose space and time as orders purely from the constitution of the perceiving subject, and Rand and Kelley were surely right to challenge that doctrine.

    Kelley understood that Kant had not taken objects in our perceptions to be sourced in the mind. But Kelley supposed this to hold only for the phenomenal mind. Kelley took Kant to be sourcing objects of perception in the mind as it is in itself, not the mind knowable to us (ES 24). Kelley took that to be the way in which Kant’s idealism differed from Berkeley’s. I don’t think that is such a really great difference considering that that would merely displace Berkeley’s mind of God with the unknowable human mind as it is in itself. Kant argued in Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783) that in his Critique he had not argued skepticism of the objects of experience; he had argued that and how we have some a priori cognition of the objects of experience. This Kant had done by arguing that space and time are not empirical presentations, but a priori forms necessary for any experience of objects. Space and time for Kant are ideal, but not because the material world is ideal. By the time of writing the Prolegomena, Kant called his type of idealism not simply transcendental. He called his idealism additionally formal, in contrast to Berkeley’s dogmatic or material idealism.

    Kelley wrongly represented Kant as holding that “the criterion of objectivity is universal agreement among subjects, or intersubjectivity” (ES 26). In Prolegomena Kant had observed “there would be no reason why other judgments necessarily would have to agree with mine, if there were not the unity of the object—an object to which they all refer, with which they all agree, and, for that reason, also must harmonize among themselves” (1783, 298; see also A820–23 B848–51; 1786, 144–46). In Critique of Practical Reason, Kant reiterates that “universality of assent does not prove the objective validity of a judgment (i.e. its validity as cognition) but only that, even if universal assent should happen to be correct, it could still not yield a proof of agreement with the object; on the contrary, only objective validity constitutes the ground of a necessary universal agreement” (1788, 13).

    Prof. Randall R. Dipert (1951–2019) criticized Dr. Kelley’s representations of Kant in ES in a Review Essay in Reason Papers (1987). In the sequel, I shall examine Dipert’s criticisms as well as the later criticisms of Kelley’s Kant by Prof. Fred Seddon, who bannered quite a bit of distinctive common ground between Kant and Rand, quite more than should win assent by her or Kelley or by me (or Hill 2005).

    (To be continued.)


    Aristotle, c. 348–322 B.C.E. Metaphysics. Joe Sachs, translator. 1999. Santa Fe: Green Lion Press.
    Hill, K. 2005. Seddon on Rand. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. 7(1):203–7.
    Kant, I. 1781, 1787. Critique of Pure Reason. Werner Pluhar, translator. 1996. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.
    ——. Paul Guyer, translator. 1998. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    ——. 1783. Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics that Will Be Able to Come Forward as Science. Gary Hatfield, translator. 2001. In Immanuel Kant – Theoretical Philosophy after 1781. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    ——. 1788. Critique of Practical Reason. Mary Gregor, translator. In Immanuel Kant – Practical Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Kelley, D. 1986. The Evidence of the Senses – A Realist Theory of Perception. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.


  5. Dipert & Seddon on Kant v. Kelley/Rand (cont.)

    ~Dipert on Kelley’s Kant~A

    (To be followed eventually by Dipert~B, then installment on Seddon on Kelley’s Kant.)

    Prof. Dipert’s paper is not only a criticism of Kelley’s Kant in ES, it is an examination of the theory of perception that is the objective of Kelley’s book.[1] I want to examine both (a) the direct criticisms that Dipert makes on Kelley’s representation and analysis of Kant and (b) the issues Dipert takes up in Kelley’s theory of perception, their fate in subsequent scientifically informed philosophy of perception and how Kant’s philosophy and Kelley’s philosophy faire in light of those developments.

    Kelley had written that Kant’s doctrines that space and time are forms of the perceptual faculty, subjective things imposed on the manifold of sensations, are applications of Kant’s doctrine that because consciousness has a specific constitution and has specific functional operations, consciousness cannot passively mirror the world outside. I observe that that is not among the arguments Kant gives for the ideality of space and time in the outset of KrV in his Transcendental Aesthetic. Kelley does not deal with those arguments, which is understandable since his book is about philosophy of perception.

    I should mention, however, that for Objectivism, Leonard Peikoff had argued against a doctrine of Kant’s which Kant had set out within his prelude to the Transcendental Aesthetic. That is the division of judgments into either synthetic ones or analytic ones. Rand and Peikoff had also argued a point with which Objectivists could sensibly approach Kant’s arguments on space and his proposed source of necessity in geometry. That point is that there is no such thing as strictly a priori knowledge, and those arguments against a priori knowledge would go not only to alleged examples of analytic a priori knowledge (viz., logic), but to the synthetic a priori sort of knowledge devised by Kant specifically to  characterize geometrical knowledge, and subsequently to characterize an allegedly “pure” part of physics and any right metaphysics.[2]

    In order to supersede Kant’s philosophy of mathematics, together with his ideality of space, an Objectivist philosophy of mathematical knowledge must be adduced. No such adequate theory has been forthcoming, and Kelley, like Rand, omitted direct counters to Kant’s arguments in the Transcendental Aesthetic, though he had the tools for setting aside Kant’s own epistemology of geometry. Dipert stresses this neglect in Kelley’s engagement with Kant’s arguments (1987, 60–61, 68–69).

    It should not be thought, I say, contrary Kelley’s contention, that Kant’s doctrines that space and time are forms of the perceptual faculty, subjective things imposed on the manifold of sensations, are applications of Kant’s doctrine that because consciousness has a specific constitution and specific functional operations, consciousness cannot passively mirror the world outside. Firstly, that is not doctrine correctly ascribed to Kant at all. Kant’s reason for thinking we cannot access things as they are in themselves and the things that are noumena was because he denied we a have a power of pure intellectual intuitions, on which his predecessors had rested our ability to access such things. Unlike the divine understanding, “our kind of intuition is dependent on the object, and hence is possible only by the object affecting the subject’s capacity to present.”[3] Our power of intuition is only sensory intuition.

    Secondly, Kant has given in the Transcendental Aesthetic his reasons for concluding that space and time are forms of the perceptual faculty, subjective things imposed on the manifold of sensations. Those reasons, as I said, do not include consciousness having a specific constitution and specific functional operations.

    Dipert disdained Kelley’s and Rand’s fundamental metaphysical constraint: the primacy of existence, taken for manifest in everyday direct perception of the world (Dipert 1987, 61). Just because we do not experience the perceptual scene as being of our own creation is, according to Dipert, no showing that it is not.

    I should say that we have ways of teasing out particular elements in our perceptions that depend upon our own location, state of motion, or perceptual system. Such would be the enlargement we have of the moon near the horizon in our perception of it. We take a photograph of the witnessed scene, and it shows no such enlargement. Similarly, with the Mach-band illusion we experience when we carefully cut out a particular chit of gray from a number of those color strips you can get at the paint store. Placing the chits of the same grey we have cut out side-touching-side snugly on a table before us, it will appear that the grey darkens near the abutting edges. And we know perfectly well that each of those chits was uniform in its grayness all over its surface. Unlike the moon illusion, science has identified how the Mach-band effect comes about: through the pattern of circuitry (lateral inhibition) of the receptor neurons of the retina. But when it comes to idealism, there has to be a general argument given for it, as Kant proffered, aiming to show that all percepts or fundamental facets of all percepts are in some systematic way contributed by the conscious subject.

    Kant sensibly did not dispute that we experience space as given to us, not created by us and put about us by our minds. The challenge he took upon himself was to argue this impression is not durable under careful examination. The challenge he leaves for us (which he thought impossible to accomplish) is to find a way in which the character of what we do in geometry and the character of the results could be accounted for by some method empirical (e.g. Locke/Feder) or rational (e.g. Aristotle/Wolff), rather than by his own subject-heavy account. Dipert rightly noted that that is a challenge Kant leaves for realists and that Objectivists have not risen to this challenge.[5]

    I have mentioned two tools an Objectivist should bring to an analysis and critique of Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic: non-existence of a priori knowledge and Peikoff’s way of toppling the mutually exclusive division of knowledge between the analytic and the synthetic, in “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy,” coupled with Peikoff’s remarks therein on necessity in knowledge. Bring along also Kelley’s account of perception, perceptual form, and his account of how percepts are made from sensations. These Kelley accounts are possible replacements and improvements for Kant’s notion of and use of sensory intuition.

    (To be continued.)



    Since the time of Kelley’s book, philosophy of perception has been a very active area. A distinguished book defending realism is A. D. Smith’s THE PROBLEM OF PERCEPTION (2002). Other eminent works in philosophy of perception since ES: THE CONTENTS OF VISUAL EXPERIENCE (2010) by Susanna Siegel; DOES PERCEPTION HAVE CONTENT? (2014) edited by Berit Brogaard; THE UNITY OF PERCEPTION (2018) by Susanna Schellenberg; and PERCEPTION: FIRST FORM OF THE MIND (2022) by Tyler Burge. (It would be ridiculous to call Burge’s book a milestone work; it is a light-year marker.) Also pertinent to Kelley and to Dipert on Kelley: HALLUCINATION – PHILOSOPHY AND PSYCHOLOGY (2013) edited by Macpherson and Platchias; DREAMING (2015) by Jennifer Windt; SKEPTICISM AND THE VEIL OF PERCEPTION (2001) by Michael Huemer; THE CASE FOR QUALIA (2008) edited by Edmond Wright; THE INNOCENT EYE (2014) by Nico Orlandi; and EXPLAINING THE COMPUTATIONAL MIND (2013) by Marcin Milkowski.

    [2] For a thorough refutation of Kant’s (or anyone’s) casting mathematical knowledge as a priori, see Kitcher 1995.

    [3] Kant, KrV, B71. Further, B139, B153. Lucy Allais, MANIFEST REALITY – KANT’S IDEALISM & HIS REALISM (2017), pp. 154, 157–58, 167, argues that the singularity and immediacy that Kant takes as essential to sensory intuition guarantees existence of their objects.

    [4] That innovation of Kant’s had set the stage for the coherence theory of truth bannered by later idealists.

    [5] From the empiricist side, Philip Kitcher’s THE NATURE OF MATHEMATICAL KNOWLEDGE (1995) delivers a sophisticated pragmatist replacement for Kant’s account of space and geometry.


    • You should feel free to use the blog itself for this material; no need to bury it in comments. As the blog scrolls on, your newer material will become less visible. You can always use the format I’ve used for my series on privacy and Big Data, numbering sequentially as you go, and referring backwards for readers just joining in.

      I particularly appreciate your bibliographies, since they’re so thorough and often address topics I’d like to get to at some point, e.g., mathematics and empiricism.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Please tell me again, Irfan, how in making a blog entry having some length, you can make a cutoff to get the direction for the reader to click on a button that will continue to the rest of the text?


              • Thanks. Irfan, I’m not sure you understood what I had been asking. David sent me an email since then, in which he thought what I was asking was how to insert a “Read more” into a WordPress post. That is correct, and he laid it all out for me how to do that. I should be able to do that in the future for myself. I think perhaps you were thinking about how to write installments that connect the installments each to later ones and earlier ones. That surely would be good, and indeed I’d not yet looked for how one would go about that, and I’m in the dark on it. In case you were thinking of that and in case you were thinking of the two installments I’ve completed so far, I attach them as Pages files to this email. I’m still working on the third installment. —Stephen


  6. In my initial Part titled “Kelley and Rand on Kant,” I said that Kelley had erred in taking Kant’s ‘appearance’ to be as in contrast to reality, and that the proper contrast for understanding Kant correctly was to take ‘appearance’ as in contrast to things in themselves. I observed that Kant’s conception of things in themselves included that such things are not in any relation to things not itself. On Rand’s metaphysics, such a thing does not exist, I concluded (see ITOE 39). Kant’s thing in itself is not any thing as it is.

    I want to add: The power of reason that Kant was trying to curtail was the power of reason as conceived by his Leibnizian, rationalist predecessors and contemporaries. Such reason had the power to recognize logical truths and other necessary truths such as that a triangle is trilateral. Such reason had also the power to discern and characterize things in themselves and noumena such as monads, which were conceived as beyond sensory perceptual powers. Reason as conceived by Rand has no need of a power to discern things in themselves or monads, for there are no such beings to be discerned. So Rand and Kant share an aim to bind reason, rightly reformed in their two different ways, to being only a tool for discovery in the empirical world (and in mathematics).

    But there is a grave difference in Kant’s notion of reason and Rand’s, perhaps partly an artifact of him thinking there were things in themselves; whereas she did not, or anyway should not when one incorporates ITOE 39 into her metaphysics. Leibnizians took the noumena that are monads as integrally part of the world we perceive sensorily, poorly as we do, in going about ordinary life and in experimental scientific investigations. Theirs was a unitary faculty of reason able to range over all that wide unitary world, monads and all. Kant was insistent against them that a faculty of reason able to know of such things as monads had to be radically distinct from the faculty of perception (KrV A270–79 B326–35; “What Real Progress has Metaphysics Made in Germany since the Time of Leibniz and Wolff? 20:278).

    Kant failed to jettison the idea that there are any such things as things in themselves or such things as noumena; he failed to jettison the faculty of reason as he thought it would have to be were it, counterfactually, to be up to the task of knowing such objects. He held on to there being a faculty of reason not born of perception. He finds other work for said faculty of reason, pure reason. It manages our faculty of understanding, which is our faculty of concepts, which is in commerce with sensory perceptions, and the power of logical inference is among its powers. Rand had all that work of Kant’s reason as well as the work of the understanding under the single faculty she termed ‘reason’, the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses. And for Rand, the rules of logic do not come down from some sort of faculty of reason that passes out rules entirely independently of sensory experience.


  7. In the balance of “Dipert on Kelley’s Kant,” which I’ll put in a new thread, I’ll argue that the Objectivist view of illusions and David Kelley’s diagnosis of a fundamental error in philosophy of perception, are incorrect. I’ll assess Kelley’s resistance to representational and computational accounts of perception. I’ll assess further Dipert’s criticisms of Kelley on philosophy of perception and Kelley on Kant. I’ll compare the concept of a percept with Kant’s concept of a sensory intuition.


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