UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Kant's subject-object distinction Porsche, Stephen


In chapters two and three of this thesis, the distinction between the subject and object of knowledge and perception in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is examined in terms of what Kant calls, "representations." These representations are not, in general, as the name might suggest, pictures in the mind, or copies of objects. They are isolated bits of information which the mind has about the world; or, in other words, elementary ways in which the subject is related to the objects which it knows or perceives. The subject is constituted by the grouping of representations into different kinds of representations, mainly on the basis of similarities, so that we have the same sorts of information about different objects. The object is that which representations relate to when select representations of many different kinds are combined, mainly on the basis of coherence, so that we have different sorts of information about the same object. Chapter one is devoted to Kant's doctrine of the object in itself, which is discussed in terms of the distinction between knowledge and belief. Objects in themselves are objects apart from our representations of them. In spite of the fact that they cannot be known, objects in themselves are significant insofar as the false belief that we can know them is an inevitable result of the capacity of the subject to combine representations in different ways, including the combination of representations in the concept of an unknowable object.

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