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Quora Answer : What is the difference between phenomenology and Kant's transcendental philosophy?

Feb 1, 2018

I am not at all knowledgeable about this. So take this as a hugely provisional / speculative answer. Perhaps I am totally wrong here. Please, experts, come and correct me.

But as I understand it, in a nutshell, Kant thought you couldn't know anything about the noumenal (or "real") world outside your subjective world (or the "phenomenal" world). But he thought everyone's subjective phenomenal world had to be structured the same way.

"Transcendental" knowledge was knowledge of those necessary structures. And you could deduce them rationally.

So, Kant didn't think you could know if there was an absolute time and space out in the noumenon. But you could figure out that we would all have a concept of absolute time and space that worked the same way, to help us structure our experience, inside our phenomenal world.

By the time you get to the phenomenologists, they are basically doing a far more observational investigation of the phenomenal world. Describing their subjective experience and inviting you to recognise that your subjectivity matches it.

In a very crude sense Kant's is a kind of "mathematical" deduction of these categories. He's saying "our concept of time has to work like this because here are all these other constraints X, Y, Z". Heidegger is more like "when we think about time, don't you find it's impossible to shake off that feeling that it's a finite thing, the sands of the hourglass running out for us, with death coming at the end".

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