Lecture III

In the preceding lecture, I tried to explain and defend a position that combines elements of 'realism' with elements of 'antirealism'. Many have perceived that my position belongs to the Kantian tradition (broadly conceived). And it may be well to say something about the relationship between my views and the work of Kant.

There are readings of Kant on which such a relationship is not at all apparent, just as there are some readings of Kant on which the relationship of what I am about to say to Kant's moral philosophy will not be at all apparent. And the fault is not entirely on the part of Kant's readers. Kant has, in a way, two philosophies. Kant says in places that the notion of a Ding an sich, a 'thing in itself', may be empty--an interpretation of this in contemporary language (a controversial one, to be sure) might be to say that while thoughts about what things are like 'in themselves' may be syntactically well formed, and while it may be that we have a natural propensity to engage in such thoughts, they lack any real intelligibility. I think that almost all of the Critique of Pure Reason is compatible with a reading in which one is not at all committed to a Noumenal World, or even, as I said, to the intelligibility of thoughts about noumena.

Kant gave very strong arguments for the view just described, the view that we cannot really form any intelligible notion of a noumenal thing. Yet, when Kant came to write his moral philosophy, he postulated a 'need of pure practical reason' which requires us to believe that


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The Many Faces of Realism


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