Transcendental Idealism & The Nature of Knowledge


“Space is merely a form of our intuition, that is, just a structure of our own minds imposed onto representations; it is not a property that exists independently of our minds and of our knowledge of them” ¬† ¬†-Kant

According to Kant, space is basically just an illusion that is formed through synthetic apriori knowledge. It is necessary and universal, without exceptions. He goes on to prove this through a serious of geometric strategies which he also claims are synthetic apriori (something that is known without experience). I will not go further into explaining his premise, I shall now question it.

Agreeing with this thesis, humans then are extremely powerful creatures who pretty much have the whole universe in the palm of their hands. If something as wondrous as space only and absolutely exists in our own minds, then it is to say that we hold the key to the universe. Kant’s thesis, in my opinion, gives an omniscient power to us as humans… claiming that we are what creates space. Agreeing with this at first was hard for me to do, I mean who off the back believes that they are the creators of space? But after long hours of contemplation, I began to wrap my head around this as a possibility. Think about it, the percentage of people who have actually traveled into space and have a clear and concise image of it are few and scarce. Most of us just never really consider what it “truly” looks like… which almost goes to say that maybe some of us do not have a “space”? I do not believe there is an “in between opinion” here. Those who rely on images they find on the internet of what space supposedly looks like are beings with no knowledge at all. Either you know it for how you see it (in your mind without outside input), or you know it through ampliative knowledge (which objectifies the knowledge that space is apriori knowledge). So basically, space is only in existence through your imagination, for lack of a better word.. it is was you “think up” if you will.

Now, we have not considered a few objections in Kant’s thesis –> being that this claim is based off of geometrical apriori knowledge (assuming that it is actually apriori), one can question if geometry is actually ampliative knowledge. Geometrical equations can be known, but in order to understand them, one must use strategy and experimentation. It is not something that stands alone through definition of a word in itself, it must be proven. Considering this to be true, then Kant has based his argument off of a foundation that is not absolutely true and causes the argument to fall through. The one exception I can claim to help his argument live, is to consider that there are geometrical solutions that solely and independently exist in themselves, without any necessity of experimentation. I am not a mathematician so I am not claiming that this is a definite possiblilty, I am only bringing to light that it might be a way to keep this argument going.

On another objectifying perspective, to claim that space is not actually a thing in itself is something that I do not think Kant can prove. There is a possibility that space can be synthetic apriori knowledge AND exist as a thing in itself! Ponder this statement for instance: EVERYTHING in this world is actualized by space. Everything has somewhere to be, even if it is not visible (i.e. air, love, scent) but we know that it is present. Therefore, if space IS NOT a thing in itself, if it is something that is just created and thought of in our own minds, we can surely say that NOTHING REALLY EXISTS. Everything would just be perspective because everyone would have the power to see things for themselves, without any external imput. This leads one to believe that everything we are “seeing” is just an illusion and only real to ourself and no one else.

Having stated this, I then can not understand how we, as beings living only in ourselves and with our own knowledge, can come to agreements on certain things. What I mean is, how can we all agree that a banana is yellow? Or that a strawberry is red? How can we all be trapped in the same illusion?! This then introduces to us a new dilemma worth contemplating: How things are in themselves (actually) vs. How things appear to us (images we create for things). What if a banana, considering it is something solely in itself, is actually 24 inches long and neon pink? Yet we allude and create an imaginary image of it being yellow and no longer than 6 inches? This can lead one to believe that all of the human civilization is actually mad and knowledge-less.

If all we know is what we create ourself (considering the banana example)… then how much do we/can we ever even REALLY KNOW?! And to make things more confusing, if we as beings in ourself have complete and total power over everything spacial, why do we not have the ability to create an ideal utopian society? Why can we not create an illusion that we are millionaires and actually feel it? Yet we can an allusion that a banana is yellow and believe it?

– Truth Seeker

Image Credit to