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Critically Assess the View that, Without a Predetermined Conceptual Scheme, Our Sense Experience Would Be Unintelligible

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´╗┐Roshan Geevarghese Dr Hemp ?Critically Assess the View that, Without a Predetermined Conceptual Scheme, Our Sense Experience Would Be Unintelligible? A conceptual scheme is the set of concepts that organise experience and allow us to interpret it. This theory of all people possessing a conceptual scheme was put forward by influential German philosopher Immanuel Kant. He claims that experience is only intelligible because the mind has a way of categorising and interpreting the raw data that it receives. This categorization tool is our conceptual scheme, and without it we wouldn?t be able to make sense of anything around us, everything would just be a massive blur of information or experience that we can?t comprehend. Kant claimed that ?thoughts without content are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind.? An example that is given to illustrate this viewpoint is ?Condillac?s Statue?. You can imagine a statue that is organised like a human on the inside; however it is devoid of any sensations. If the statue begins to experience a series of sensations, and is brought from having no ideas whatsoever to forming various concept and developing beliefs about itself and the world, then is this believable? ...read more.


It simply perceives a series of marks and blanks and has a lot of trouble picking out each of the letters. This shows that a conceptual scheme is needed for the way we experience our sense impressions. The concept of the letters can only be formed because we already, innately possess the category of unity. This is the idea that there are discrete entities separate from other entities. Without this, our experiences of the world and its surroundings would mostly be unintelligible. In addition, Kant was confused at Hume?s claim that we cannot have knowledge of the world which can be acquired a priori. Hume argued that all a priori truths were analytic; meaning that they are true by definition alone. For example the claim ?All bachelors are unmarried? can be seen to be true just by knowing the definition of a bachelor, which is an ?unmarried man?. Synthetic propositions, on the other hand, are those where the predicate is not contained within the subject, and so they cannot be known by analysis alone. Therefore, knowledge of synthetic propositions can only be gained through a posteriori. ...read more.


However, it seems that the world we experience is not Euclidean, even though it does appear that way to us in the scale at which we can see things. Therefore Kant?s claim that we can have synthetic a priori knowledge of Euclidean geometry is not true. In conclusion I think that although the idea of a conceptual scheme was put forward well by Kant, and supported by examples such as Condillac?s statue and the office and filing system, there were a few problems that Kant faced with the theory. One of the major problems was that his arguments itself were quite obscure and difficult to understand, and the categories which he claimed were all needed to sort out our sense experience into intelligible data, were proven to not all be necessary. In addition to this, theories such as Kant?s theory of Euclidean geometry having synthetic a priori knowledge have now been proved wrong by science. The discovery of sub-atomic particles have shown this, because they are always slipping in and out of existence, questioning whether the concept of object or even cause, meaningfully applies to them. Therefore, it is not necessary to have a predetermined conceptual scheme to make our sense experience intelligible. ...read more.

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