Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Composure

The empirical concept of a plate is homogeneous with the pure geometrical concept of a circle. The roundness which is thought in the former can be intuited in the latter. (KRV A137/B176)

That's how it looks from the point of view of "pure reason". Passion would demand the introduction of a craftsman of some sort, an artist.

The normative (e)motion of the potter's wheel is homogeneous with the pure[raw] sculptural emotion of the cylinder. The spinning that can be felt in the former can be instituted in the latter.

The book I want to write, called Composure, would begin with this image of a plate on a wheel, this homology (a homology of two homogeneities), and then develop about twenty-five of its moments of reason and their twenty-five homologous moments of passion. E.g.,


concept/emotion
intuition/institution
seeing/doing
thought/feeling
perception/action
fact/act
given/taken
appearance/surface
sensation/motivation
thing/person
space/time
relation/position
object/subject
picture/diagram
world/history

.../...

I will confine each moment to the space of a single page, and arrange the homologous expressions on facing pages (a "parallel edition" of reason/passion). I know that such symmetry does not appeal to everyone, but I need to see how it works out on the page.

[Update: Either I or Norman Kemp Smith seem to have mixed up "former" and "latter" in the above quote. I've fixed it now and it makes much better sense. Also, I think it might help to rewrite Kant's formula as follows: Our empirical grasp of a plate is homogeneous with the pure geometrical concept of a circle, for the roundness that is thought in the former can be intuited in the latter. This allows us the following variation: The normative motion of the potter's wheel is homogeneous with the pure sculptural emotion of a cylinder, for the turning that can be felt in the former can be instituted in the latter.]

[Update 2: Norman Kemp Smith's 'misreading' follows Vaihinger. It appears in the footnotes to both the current German (Felix Meiner Verlag) edition and the Guyer & Wood (Cambridge University Press) edition. Presskorn has a plausible explanation for Vaihinger's reading in the comments below.]

3 comments:

Nicholas Manning said...

Sounds wondrous, Thomas.

I think you need to sit down and WRITE THIS BOOK.

Thomas Basbøll said...

Thanks. Yes, I think I do.

Presskorn said...

Paradoxically and perhaps symptomatically, the first (erroneous) version seemed to me more natural, i.e. more natural to the common philosophical prejudices with which we read. When we read the quote, more or less sleepingly (as we/I commonly do),

The empirical concept of a plate is homogeneous with the pure geometrical concept of a circle. The roundness which is thought in the former can be intuited in the latter. (KRV A137/B176)

we tend to see the point of the remark in the contrast between “thought” and “intuited”, and furthermore we habitually connect “thought” with the concept of reason and connect “intuited” with the concept of sensation or with “the empirical”. And only the erroneous version allows us to uphold these connections.

Whereas the (more) faithful Kantian reading is rather to contrast “empirical” and “pure”, both as modes of intuition. If we don’t regard them both “empirical concepts” and “geometrical concepts” as of modalities of intuition, but rather give in to our habitually “logical-positivist” thinking and connect “the pure geometrical concept of a circle” with PURE reason, we misinterpret the quote. The Kantian point par exellence, I gather, is exactly that the concepts of pure reason cannot be homogenous with the empirical.

Kants homology, as it were, covers less distance than is initially assumed.

PS: I concur with Manning.