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Annotated extracts from The Critique of Pure Reason

Immanuel Kant


Transcendental aesthetic

Sensation is the actual affection of our sensibility, or capacity of receiving impressions, by an object.

The perception which refers itself to an object through sensation, is empirical perception. The undetermined object of such a perception is a phenomenon (Erscheinung).

That element in the phenomenon which corresponds to sensation I call the matter, while that element which makes it possible that the various determinations of the phenomenon should be arranged in certain ways relatively to one another is its form.

Now, that without which sensations can have no order or form, cannot itself be sensation. The matter of a phenomenon is given to us entirely a posteriori, but its form must lie a priori in the mind, and hence it must be capable of being considered by itself apart from sensation.

This pure form of sensibility is also called pure perception. Thus, if from the consciousness of a body, I separate all that the understanding has thought into it, as substance, force, divisibility, etc., and all that is due to sensation, as impenetrability, hardness, colour, etc.; what is left over are extension and figure. These, therefore, belong to pure perception, which exists in the mind a priori, as a mere form of sensibility, even when no sensation or object of sense is actually present

The science of all the a priori principles of sensibility I call Transcendental Aesthetic, in contradistinction from the science of the principles of pure thought, which I call Transcendental Logic.

In Transcendental Aesthetic we shall first of all isolate sensibility, abstracting from all that the understanding contributes through its conceptions, so that we may have nothing before us but empirical perception. In the next place, we shall separate from empirical perception all that belongs to sensation ; when there will remain only pure perception, or the mere form of phenomena, the sole element that sensibility can yield a priori. If this is done, it will be found that there are two pure forms of sensible perception, which constitute principles of a priori knowledge, namely, Space and Time. With these it will now be our business to deal.

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