Monday, April 11, 2011

Intuitions and Institutions

Kant, I suppose, can be credited with the discovery of intuition as the immediate concern of philosophers. We might say that intuitions are the way the world is here. So we can do "metaphysics" as a study of the structure of intuition and derive our [basic or fundamental] concepts [i.e., categories] from such study. For Kant, this meant that intuitions deliver knowledge to us immediately, they determine the immediate meaning of what we see. It is said that the Kantian Critiques brought about a revolution in philosophy by showing us exactly how concepts might be experienced, "as such" as it were.

I think a revolution in poetry could be brought about by engaging with institutions. Institutions should be the immediate concern of poets. They capture us immediately with their power, they determine the immediate meaning what we do. (Sense is the meaning of the seen. Motive is the meaning of the done.)

Actually, I think a revolution in poetry already has been brought about by this means. But not quite as explicitly as with Kant. I think it is present in Pound and Williams. I think Watten and Waldrop were vaguely aware of it. I think Tony Tost and Ben Lerner and Kate Greenstreet feel it acutely. A poem is capable of presenting the immanent kinesthetics of institutions. (Philosophy, said Kant, was to be grounded in the transcendental aesthetic.) "The immanent kinesthetics of institutions"—the experienced motion of history. How emotions are experienced "as such".


Presskorn said...

Aren't you turning Kant somewhat upside down?

Isn't Kant's point rather that the immediacy of intuitions is in fact mediated, say, through the categories and schemata? And isn't Kant's point exactly that important philosophical concepts such as "substance" or "totality" (both Kantian categories) can't be experienced "as such"?

I sincerely do not know, but perhaps something like this could also go for poetry... It would go something like this: Poetry displays the mediation of how we feel immediately about institutions.

Thomas said...

"In whatever manner and by whatever means a mode of knowledge may relate to objects, intuition is that through which it is in immediate relation to them, and to which all thought as a means is directed." (KRV A19/B33).

I.e., intuition is that through which cognition is immediately related to objects.

I.e., intuition is the medium of of immediate cognition of objects.

This is why I say that intuitions and institutions are the "media of immediacy".

Together, they occasion the "here and now" of experience.

Thomas said...

We don't feel anything immediately about institutions. Rather, institutions are those emotional structures which spare us feeling, faciliating action.

So, the poet sets about to feel the qualities of the medium that spares us the trouble of feeling, just as philosophers thinks the qualities of the medium that spares us the trouble of thinking. If that is what you mean by "displays the mediation", we agree.

Presskorn said...

I can see your point. And, sure, "intuition" for Kant is (paradoxically) both a direct knowlegde of objects - as illustrated by your KRV A19/B33-quote - and a mediated appearence - as illsutrated by, for instance, KRV A42/B59:

"The things we intuit are not in themselves what we intuit them as being."

I also think your term "the media of immediacy" cathes this double determination neatly.

An interesting quote here is also: "All intuition is bound to a certain principle of form and it only under this form [mediated by this form!] that anything can be apprehended by the mind immediately or as singular..." (The pre-critical 'Inaugural Dissertation', §10, 1770)

Thomas said...

I don't think I see the paradox. Or perhaps just not that one.

The thing is given to us in experience mediated by its appearance. But some of the knoweldge we have of the thing is immediately given to us in our experience of the thing. This immediate givenness of knowledge of the thing, not the thing itself, is called "intuition".

We face things only in their appearances, and we peer at people only on their surfaces, and yet there is a knowledge, and a power, that is present to us here and now. Things are given to us only through media. We are only taken with people through media. But there is an immediacy in our experience of things and people. The media of that immediacy are called intuition and institution.


Andrew Shields said...

Ben Lerner read in Basel last week, he was on a German book tour with the guy who translated "The Lichtenberg Figures".

Presskorn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Presskorn said...

My point was not that there is a clear-cut paradox present in the Kantian concept of intuition. But rather that the concept resolves a clear-cut paradox; a paradox between noeta and aistesis in Aristotle’s theory of knowledge or more broadly between empiricism and rationalism. The concept however – to put it in Derridean – still carries the traces of this paradox and one must be sensible to this paradox when articulating the concept.

I suspected that your stress on immediacy overly stressed the aistesis-empirism-side of the concept. But your reference to the ‘media of immediacy’ proved me wrong.