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Kant's Critique of Empirical Evidence

Kant raises a powerful objection to any theory that claims to grasp knowledge of God. He claims that in terms of knowledge there can be no jump from the physical to the metaphysical. Kant distinguishes between noumanal and phenomenal objects. The noumena are objects that lie beyond all possible experience, and the phenomena are the ones we directly experience. Hence, for him the metaphysical is the noumenal realm. He argues that there can be no possible relation between two realms that have no connection between them. How can we prove that a certain noumanal object exists from phenomenal premises?, he asks.

Ernst Cassirer, in his book Kant's Life and Thought, comments:

It is especially discordant for Kant on the one hand to consign reason in its determination of actuality completely to the data of experience, and on the other to entrust to it the power of bringing us to unconditional certainty regarding an infinite being lying beyond all possibility of experience. [Cassirer, p. 76]

Although he does not deny that there are metaphysical objects (in fact he argues for their existence from practical reason), he rejects this particular avenue for arriving at what he calls synthetic and a priori objects.

Iqbal responds to Kant's criticism of metaphysical existence from empirical experience as follows: "Kant's verdict can be accepted only if we start with the assumption that all experience other than the normal level of experience is impossible. The only question, therefore, is whether the normal level is the only level of knowledge-yielding experience." He will argue, as we will see later, that there are other levels of experience that can bear knowledge as well.

Adapted from the book: "Groundwork in Islamic Philosophy"

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