Criticism is a philosophical doctrine that denies all knowledge whose foundations have not been critically analyzed. Elaborated by the Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), this doctrine is also known as Kantian Criticism . Criticism definition
Criticism was constructed as a methodological option to rationalism and empiricism , two doctrines that for centuries divided scholars about the way in which knowledge is acquired.
Kant argued that knowledge is the result of the interaction between the object of study and the subject. For him, individuals have a set of knowledge “a priori” , which are prior to the experiences and knowledge resulting from experiences, called “a posteriori” .
Rationalism X Empiricism
Rationalism and empiricism are two philosophical doctrines that intended to explain how knowledge is acquired by human beings. However, these theories are divergent. Criticism definition
For rationalism , knowledge is acquired through reason and not through the experiences lived by the human being. Furthermore, rationalist philosophers believe that there are innate ideas , which are knowledge that are born with individuals.
The main rationalist thinker was René Descartes (1596-1650) and his phrase “I think, therefore I am” summarizes how reason is a central element for the construction of knowledge.
The empiricism , in turn, is the doctrine which holds that knowledge is the result of experiments and trials. For empiricist thinkers, the individual learns through sensory experiences, using the senses.
John Locke (1632-1704) is the main representative of empiricism, for him knowledge is the result of experience, that is, “man is a blank slate” . Now, if knowledge is the result of experience, individuals only acquire knowledge as they live. Criticism definition
Dissatisfied with both doctrines and inspired by the ideas of the empiricist David Hume (1711-1776) – another philosopher from the time of the Enlightenment – Kant proposes an approach that opposes empiricism and rationalism.
For Kant, knowledge is acquired through the interaction between the object and the subject and its starting point is the individual’s interest in learning about the object , that is, Kant places the subject as the main part in a cognitive relationship.
Kant criticizes rationalism and empiricism, as he argues that both doctrines do not consider the person’s active role in the knowledge acquisition process.
In this way, Kant sets limits for the human intellect in relation to knowledge. Unlike a skeptical perspective, Kant believes in the possibility of knowledge, but argues that the individual has sensitive content from which he captures and interprets information. Criticism definition
This means that a thought cannot be explained with elements external to the individual, but must be related to the functioning of his mind.
By understanding the relationship between the subject and knowledge – placing the individual at the center of this relationship – Kant promotes a revolution in the way of understanding how the learning process takes place.
This shift in perspective became known as Kant’s Copernican Revolution , in reference to Copernicus, which revolutionized science by showing that the Earth was not the center of the universe, but the Sun.
“A priori” and “posteriori” knowledge
Unlike empiricism and rationalism, which defend that knowledge is exclusively the result of experience and reason, respectively, Kant proposes that individuals have knowledge “a priori” and “posteriori” .
“A priori” is knowledge prior to experience , it is the pure notions of understanding, those capacities that the individual has since birth. “A posteriori” , in turn, is the knowledge that comes after the experience .
For example, the ability to learn another language is “a priori” knowledge , while language learning itself is “a posteriori” knowledge . Criticism definition
Based on this structure, Kant resolves the impasse between Descartes and Locke, suggesting that individuals have knowledge and a form of understanding that is innate and that this knowledge interacts with the knowledge that is the result of experiences.
Based on this structure, Kant believes that individuals have glasses of reason, composed of a priori concepts. These glasses influence how people interpret and understand the world. This means that objects cannot be seen as they really are (in themselves), but as reason interprets them.
That is why the subject is the centerpiece of knowledge , after all, it is from his glasses of reason that he will build an interpretation of an object. Thus, it would be impossible to say what an object in itself is, just to say how it manifests itself, how it appears. Criticism definition
Who was Immanuel Kant?
Immanuel Kant was born in 1724 in East Prussia, where Germany is now located. Kant was from a simple family, his father worked in a factory and his mother took care of the housework.
He stood out at school and was appointed by the director to study philosophy . Kant also studied theology and was keenly interested in other disciplines such as mathematics, geography and metaphysics.
After his father’s death in 1747, he had to abandon his studies to help his family, but he managed to return to school in 1755 and in 1770 he became a full professor at the University of Königsberg . Criticism definition
The author’s philosophical productions are divided into three stages:
- The pre-critical period , before the development of criticism, when it adopted a more dogmatic and rationalist philosophy.
- Then we have the critical moment , when he writes his most influential works, such as: Critique of Pure Reason (1781) and Critique of Practical Reason (1788).
- Finally, the post-critical period , when the philosopher had already become known and respected for his intellectual productions.