Immanuel Kant: Noumenal World and the Phenomenal World

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by RobertPGH1981, Apr 11, 2017.

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  1. RobertPGH1981

    RobertPGH1981 Puritan Board Freshman

    I am currently taking a class on Apologetics and read Immanuel Kant's explanation of the Phenomenal and the Noumenal worlds. My understanding is that the Noumenal world is reality where the divine sits, while the Phenomenal world is what we experience through our senses. The flaw with this is that Kant claims God cannot pass from the Noumenal to the Phenomenal. My questions are as follows:

    1. Is this summary accurate?
    2. If so, do we as christian accept this concept of Noumenal and Phenomenal as being particularly true except the fact that God is unknowable?
    3. Can the Trinity be used to say that God sits in all parts if we can accept Noumenal and Phenomenal.
     
  2. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    1.) Close, but the noumenal realm is broader than that. There are objects, and there are the same objects as we experience them. The objects in themselves we can never know: we can only know them as we experience them. The objects themselves are in the noumenal realm; whereas the objects as we experience them are in the phenomenal realm. The objects themselves could be radically different from the objects as we experience them, but of course, we could never know.

    2.) I don't think one needs to accept this as true. I recommend Ronald Nash's Life's Ultimate Questions for a common-sense perspective on the matter. Although I might need to be more careful in how I phrase the following the objects as we experience them are the objects themselves (edit: on further thought, it may be more accurate to say corresponds to instead of are). As for the ramifications on theology, I think the paradigm that a Reformed Christian uses in theology simply doesn't align with the noumenal/phenomenal distinction. God is unknowable in and of himself. However, he knows himself and conceptualizes himself in such a way that men can understand and know him truly. This conceptualization of himself he then reveals to man, and man knows God according to this conceptualization: but God also knows himself according to this conceptualization (since God conceptualized this for us), in addition to knowing himself in the way that he is unknowable to us; and this conceptualization man has of God is true, not merely God as man experiences him with the true God hidden in a realm man cannot reach.

    3) Not sure where you are going with this. Could you elaborate more?
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2017
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  3. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Maybe, but probably best to drop Kant's formulation altogether. Kant begs the question. When you draw a line between noumenal and phenomenal, you are already legislating what can and can't be noumenal/phenomenal. In other words, you have to already know some of the noumenal (which we can't, per Kant) in order to say this is noumenal and that isn't.
     
  4. RobertPGH1981

    RobertPGH1981 Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you all for your responses. Afterthought you are actually the third person to mentioned this book to me so I think I should get the book now. ;-)
    To explain number three I believe my understanding of Phenominal and Noumenal were incorrect (based on both of your responses), so to ReformedReidian's suggestions I should probably reject this all together. One last question:

    What should we reject exactly within this understanding? What evidence can we share in the scriptures that shows we should reject this understanding?

    Thanks for your help.
     
  5. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    So how does this relate to the ectypal and archetypal? I ask because is not any revelation of God all ectypal?
     
  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    While I don't know if Kant ever addressed the ectypal distinction, I am fairly certain he would place it in the "noumenal" realm. Ectypal theology makes positive statements about God and that we can know him, which is more than Kant wanted to do.
     
  7. RobertPGH1981

    RobertPGH1981 Puritan Board Freshman

    Would it be better to say that we should reject Kant since his ultimate reference was man not God? He would say that man couldn't know God and that any type of ultimate reference would be self-seeking. Yet a Christians Ultimate Reference would be God and his glory therefore finding joy afterwards.
     
  8. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    In context Kant was answering the scepticism of Hume. It might be argued that he created another or a worse form of scepticism in the process. But taking him in context he is apologetically useful for showing the empiricist that he can go nowhere without some commitment to the a priori. In the present day that equates to opposing empiricism with the necessity of presuppositions. I do not agree with Hume or Kant, and I still think foundationalism and realism has something to offer with a commitment to the presuppositional, but Kant's critique still has some limited value against empiricism proper. That is as far as I would go with him. I would not build anything positive on his critique because it requires a commitment to the transcendental and idealist vision.
     
  9. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    I am too busy to present something careful, so perhaps someone else can provide that, but here are some brief thoughts.

    1) It is difficult to reject these kinds of philosophies directly from the Scriptures because the philosopher will always respond, "Well, the Scriptures are just presenting things as they appear to man" (e.g., consider Bishop Berkeley's answer to Genesis 1 being used to show the material world exists).

    2) One could instead use the Scriptures to reject the premises of the philosophy, e.g., the Scriptures do not present an empiricist philosophy (we can know God by the things he has made; he has made our reasoning abilities), so all things built on empiricism (like Kant) must not be correct.

    3) Or one could point out that the Scriptures always make the objects as they are perceived to be or correspond to reality. Any noumenal realm goes beyond what is written so far as the reality that the Scriptures present. Hence, if there is some noumenal realm (using an abstract definition, since Kant includes God in the noumal realm, which is patently false: God "humbleth himself" Psalm 113:6) beyond these, it is irrelevant to what we need to know for our chief end and happiness and for our functioning in God's world and for responsibility for our choices.

    4) Or one could point out how the conclusions of some philosophy fly in the face of the Scriptures. I already pointed out that God cannot be in the noumenal realm because we can know him. Furthermore, 1 Cor. 2 could be viewed as answering that thought positively.


    One could also look at general theological conclusions and see if there is anything the philosophy contradicts. One obvious thing that comes to mind is that God has made our senses and minds to know him, and part of knowing him is by knowing the Creation. We should reject the idea that God has designed our senses and minds so that we cannot know reality; else, how could reality really show forth the glory of God? We would be stuck with knowing something that appears to show forth God's glory. From here, a sinner could object that this appearance is all in his head, so why believe God is? Or a sinner could object and say God desigend our senses and minds improperly because they cannot know him by knowing the Creation; they can only know how the Creation appears.


    I suppose one thing that could be affirmed concerning the distinction between phenomenal and noumenal is that there is a difference between reality and the way we perceive it, and we could never know reality unless there was a Creator who designed reality in a way that man could understand it and created man in such a way that the perceived reality corresponds to reality.
     
  10. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Could you elaborate a bit on how Kant was answering the skepticism of Hume, and how he can be said to have created a worse skepticism? I'm trying to gain an understanding about this (taking a philosophy class taught by a self-avowed atheist!)
     
  11. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Hume said we can't know things like causality. Kant said our minds provide the structures that make knowing causality possible. The problem, though, is that this reduces to skepticism.
     
  12. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Could you elaborate on how it reduces to skepticism? I struggle with jargon that's familiar to you who have read a lot of philosophy so put it in K-5 terminology, please :)
     
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Let's take the claim, first, that it makes it subjective. We can understand why saying all knowledge is subjective at base is dangerous. It makes the knowing subject (me, you, whoever) the foundation of knowledge.

    I, as the knowing subject, provide the structures that make knowledge possible. Thus, it is subjective.
     
  14. Warren

    Warren Puritan Board Freshman

    Sis, let's say you're going to Africa. I don't know why, maybe relief work. There are things you gotta know about Africans:

    1) Immunize yourself: Ideas are contagion, and they will always impact your worldview. I've heard Aristotle and de Tocqueville make good antibodies, but scripture and traditions are imperative.
    2) Travel Together: Do not debate the commissar, for there is no debating the Party. Blend with the herd at all times, and write the dizziest sophistry you can to disguise your thoughts. Say nothing, imply everything.
    3) Bribes: The commissar is not the only proxy you must appease, the social justice warriors love philosophy classes, because they get a friendly platform from which to preach filth. Don't trigger them, or you will be sacrificed to Prog upon the alter of Godwin's law.
    4) War: You are entering the enemy's camp; these are not the poor lost souls wandering outside, hopeless in need of hope, these are the Beasts of Prog. Maybe you hope to reason with them? Its true, you can't catch a tiger's cubs without entering his den, but go prepared for lies and games and hate.
     
  15. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Ha! Warren, I understand completely. This class is required to complete a degree and it's been pretty horrible getting into the brains of these guys. I have a final paper due tonight, it involves Kant, and I'm trying to write the dizziest sophistry I can to impress the teacher. I will say that I have enjoyed and benefited from Nash's book, mentioned above. I've been able to use a concept or two in talking to daughters.

    Jacob, thanks for the input, it was helpful.
     
  16. Warren

    Warren Puritan Board Freshman

    God bless you, friend. "Social Sciences" drove me to insanity. I wasn't ready; I couldn't agree with left, right, or center.

    If only our education system didn't camp downstream the politics of state. I fear by the time I have children, home schooling will be no use, that the curriculum and SAT/ACT will dictate my kids must think stupid, even if they do inherit good genes from my hypothetical wife.
     
  17. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Jacob has helpfully pinpointed the problem in terms of subjectivity. After Kant we find different liberalising theologies which try to locate religion in man as the knowing subject; in a feeling of dependence, or will, or conscience, etc. These go hand in hand with a depreciation of the trustworthiness of the Bible and of the historicity of Jesus Christ.

    Another helpful book from Nash is the Word of God and the Mind of Man. It contains sections on the epistemology of Hume and Kant. The overall trajectory of his analysis is helpful, though there would be "rationalist" type criticisms I would not fully agree with.

    From my point of view western philosophy is useful for showing the inability of man to give a good account of human knowledge without divine revelation. The history of scepticism confirms the issues stated in Romans chapter 1. In that light a self-avowed atheist might be the best teacher of philosophy because he will be less likely to fall back on religious convictions and will better show how vain is man's attempt to be wise without God.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2017
  18. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    That's what I've learned, and is what I wrote about in my paper. This thread was useful as was Ronald Nash's book. All in all, though it was painful wading through the course, it was a beneficial exercise! Thanks.
     
  19. Warren

    Warren Puritan Board Freshman

    Voegelin didn't believe God and philosophy could be separated, and he isn't very quotable, which is good for defending against liberals.

    Not all philosophy shares liberal chiliasm's hatred for civilization, the Reactionaries and Traditionalists seem poised to offer a concerted attack on Modernism in the coming decade.
     
  20. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks for the tip on Voegelin- he looks interesting. An Amazon reviewer shared this quote from one of his books: "The God who is declared dead is alive enough to have kept his undertakers nervously busy by now for three centuries." Ha! :)


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  21. Warren

    Warren Puritan Board Freshman

    No prob, I hope your own study is fruitful :)

    My only further suggestion is, when reading these guys, read their books and not their disciples' books. Never read about philosophers, basically. Disciples in the Modern world tend to huddle in these institutes and propaganda outlets that often betray their namesake's vision. Voegelin could think the way he thought, largely because he was free from Modern education system. His disciples can't say the same.
     
  22. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree for the most part, but some philosophers like Hegel and Kant have a very specialized vocabulary, so sometimes a secondary source is helpful.
     
  23. Warren

    Warren Puritan Board Freshman

    True, the freethinker types usually despise the luggage terms in the mainstream carry. Maybe instead of reading their disciples, a better route would be to read their freethinking opponents. That way we aren't drinking their koolade, but we can still grapple with what the philosopher means. As a good rule, stay practical, avoid being relevant or trendy. Someone contemporary with the philosopher would have to do, preferably two freethinkers of the same society. That's partly what makes democratized philosophy so treacherous, though. You can theoretically say anything and get away with it, because you're just entering the debate. On the other hand, the loudest opinion wins. I'm convinced that the truest philosopher that ever lived must have never spoken a word, except maybe to their closest friends or pastor/priest.
     
  24. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I didn't have disciples necessarily in mind. Charles Taylor wrote a book explaining Hegel's theology, yet Taylor critically breaks from Hegel at key points. Therefore, he ably expounds Hegel without being a "disciple."

    And even reading one of Heidegger's disciples you can get the "gist" of what Heidegger is saying without necessarily buying into the whole system. And reading one of the opponents might not help. The opponent might very well understand the philosopher in question, yet never bother to explain the vocabulary since it is a "given."
     
  25. Warren

    Warren Puritan Board Freshman

    I'd rather exhaust the philosopher first, is what I'm saying. Or trying to say, sorry if I wasn't clear. I made the assumption Jeri Tanner was entering philosophy, and so probably read about philosophers more her class actually read the philosophers. That was my experience, anyway. Given a textbook, some juicy quotes, never mind who the publishers might be; it's basically implied this was the canon.
     
  26. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree with that. And with philosophers who can really write--Plato, Nietzsche, sometimes Augustine--it's a good idea.
     
  27. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    With Kant, that's not an option. He's a notoriously bad writer. You at least need a translation that makes an attempt to save Kant from himself in that regard.
     
  28. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    It's also not much of an option for someone who wants a basic understanding of the philosophy but doesn't intend to engage in serious study. It takes a substantial commitment of time and energy to gain a broad understanding of most modern philosophers and that's a commitment that's neither practical or advisable for most people who are not in serious academics. I read a lot of Kant's work when I was younger and don't think that I would do it again or recommend it to folks who don't have a scholarly interest in it.
     
  29. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    It was just a one-time class, and much more than likely the first and last philosophy class I'll take. We read various selections from "The Moral Life," so we were reading the various philosophers themselves, but with zero guidance (it was an internet class through our local community college) and for most of us, no background at all in philosophy from which to draw. We read selections then discussed them in a forum at the end of the week. It was painful! Most of the other students were young and they weren't getting it. I agree about Kant's writing. All in all I'm glad for the course, it was eye-opening and useful for reasons Reverend Winzer mentioned.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  30. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    For future reference, the late Ronald Nash is a very good guide.
    https://www.biblicaltraining.org/speaker/ron-nash
     
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