Positive Economics From the Perspective of Kant's Thought

Positive Economics From the Perspective of Kant's Thought

Ertuğrul İbrahim Kızılkaya (Istanbul University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1037-7.ch007


Departing from Kant's thought, we could argue that the portrait of homo economicus drawn by positive economics corresponds to a homo phainomenon as a heteronomous person of concrete economic reality. In addition, we could try to show that economics could not get rid of naturalism, materialism, and fatalism, justifying Kant's concerns. We could also emphasize that, while in the beginning the aim of being a positive science to be able to produce synthetic a posteriori propositions, positive economics tried to continue its way by the method of synthetic a priori. Finally, we must also point out the possibility for an autonomous or free homo noumenon to establish an original ethos by setting goals for itself.
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Kant’S Contribution

Kant has made important distinctions, which are often used today, revealing where the boundaries of knowledge began and where they ended. The distinction between analytic propositions and synthetic propositions, and the other distinction of a priori and a posteriori knowledge were used to reach a specific taxonomy in Kant's epistemology.

Analytic propositions, used to express reality, do not extend our knowledge and are insightful. In other words, the inclusion of the predicate in the concept are discussed. In contrast, synthetic propositions extend our knowledge of reality. The predicate is not included in the concept and may be true or false.

When it comes to the other distinction that Kant had used; it should be emphasized first that a priori knowledge is information that is not based on experience. From this point of view, we do not know the source, but we think that it contains information. The knowledge obtained from the experience is a posteriori knowledge. Kant does not doubt that our knowledge begins with experience.

As it is known, Kant considered these two differentiations together, and explored the ability of pure mind to produce knowledge and reach judgments. In this context, he has reached a classification that includes four different judgments:

  • Analytic a posteriori

  • Analytic a priori

  • Synthetic a posteriori

  • Synthetic a priori

The first category of analytic a posteriori is a fundamentally contradictory expression. Practices or propositions based on experience but not extending our knowledge are not possible.

Analytical ones (analytic a priori) that does not extend our knowledge of propositions are not based on experience. These are examples of metaphysical information. They cannot be experienced, cannot be proved, and how they are acquired is unknown. These types of information are self-referenced.

Those who do not rely on experience but expanding our knowledge are synthetic a priori propositions. These propositions, produced in some areas such as mathematics, astronomy and theoretical physics, are best known examples.1 Even under conditions where experience is not possible, rational human thought should be considered as an important category because it provides the basis for producing information. In this respect, the tradition of thinking called rationalism should be pointed out. Human mind and thinking ability can produce knowledge, also understand reality from this perspective and construct cause and effect relations within the scope of facts.

Based on the experience, those who produce knowledge are synthetic a posteriori propositions. Empiricism should be evaluated in this context. While the human mind is a tabula rasa before the information acquisition activity, it is possible to grasp the reality with the information obtained after the experience. Probably the best example to be given is physics or natural sciences with a broader definition. From this point on, it will be appropriate to pass on Kant's perspective on human concept from his deep vision about our knowledge and the knowledge acquisition process or human capacity to produce judgments. As it is known, Kant has added a fourth to the three ancient questions of philosophy and has tended to address an anthropological problem. These questions are:

  • What can I know?

  • What ought I do?

  • What may I hope for?

  • Was ist der Mensch?

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