Critique of "Kant And The New Tactics To Destroy Objectivism"
First edition (heh).
This has happened many times (not this kind of response, but the kind of thing to which I'm thereof responding).
Actually, it is pretty easy to misunderstand Immanuel Kant. I mean it this way, because one can read his work and, without any prejudices, miscomprehend it (terrifically). Given what I know of Rand's interpretation of Kant, this is what I think to be exactly what happened in her case— no malice aforethought(sp.?— or whatever), etcetera, on her part.
Demonstrating this is pretty easy, too, though. It just involves (as far as for disproving the charge that Kant believed sense perception to be invalid) quoting him with a (sort of) key passage from the Critique of Pure Reason first, and then a discussion of what Kant was talking about with words like "noumena" and "phenomena."
On pg. 82 of my copy of the Critique of Pure Reason (Second edition), Kant says the following: "It is quite possible that one may propose a species of præformation-system of pure reason — a middle way between the two [other such systems] — to wit, that the categories are neither innate and first a priori principles of cognition, nor derived from experience, but are merely subjective aptitudes for thought implanted in us contemporaneously with our existence, which were so ordered and disposed by our Creator, that their excercise perfectly harmonizes with the laws of nature that regulate experience. Now, not to mention that with such a hypothesis it is impossible to say at what point we must stop in the employment of predetermined aptitudes, the fact that the categories would entirely lose that character of necessity which is essentially involved in the very conception of them, is a conclusive objection to it. The conception of cause, for example, which expresses the necessity of an effect under a presupposed condition, would be false, if it rested only upon an arbitrary subjective necessity of uniting certain empirical representations according to the rule of relation. I could not then say — 'The effect is connected with its cause in the object (that is, necessarily),' but only, 'I am so constituted that I can think this representation as so connected, and not otherwise.' Now this is just what the skeptic wants [emphasis added]. For in this case, all our knowledge, depending on the supposed objective validity of our judgment, is nothing but mere illusion; nor would there be wanting people who would deny any such subjective necessity in respect to themselves, though they must feel it. At all events, we could not dispute with any one on that which merely depends on the manner in which his subject is organized."
Taking this, then, by all appearances ("phenomena," heh) hereof, Kant did not think that our perception was invalid as such.
But, noting that, of the "phenomena," is crucial, in a respect. The division between phenomena, or objects in appearance, and noumena, objects "intelligible" (also between "things as they appear to us" and "things in themselves") is a likely suspect for most confusing domain of Kantian terminology. An excellent starting point for explaining it is a simple delineation of "noumena," to be found on pg. 168—169 of my version of the Critique of Pure Reason: "If, by the term noumenon, we understand a thing so far as it is not an object of our sensuous intuition, thus making abstraction of our mode of intuiting it, this is a noumenon in the negative sense of the word. But if we understand by it an object of a non-sensuous intuition, we in this case assume a peculiar mode of intuition, an intellectual intuition, to wit, which does not, however, belong to us, of the very possibility of which we have no notion — and this is a noumenon in the positive sense." Kant in his way, as a matter more or less of course, goes on and on a lot more than this, before and after (it is all in a section on the distinction between things in appearance and things in themselves). Elsewhere (pg. 171) Kant talks about an "unknown something," but in a similar vein to the above, so there is not much of a problem. Altogether, for Kant, phenomena are truly real, and while our minds have a limitation in a certain way, this does not mean that they are helpless to deal with reality (for that is their main object).
On to something else: While Kant is not claiming that sense perception is invalid, something that he is in fact pointedly claiming (I do not want, right now, to cite every time he does this) is that the entire scheme of conceptualizing without any experiential ground (e.g., Platonism/Rationalism) is mistaken. There is therefore no ultimate logic (as such) in saying that Kant's philosophy is a descendent of Plato's. Of course, simultaneously Kant rejected empiricism as the correct route for philosophy, and Kant viewed Aristotle as an empiricist, so it doesn't follow from Aristotle, either (but that isn't what is being argued, so this is just an aside...).
Another point... Something I read in this article of Mr. Schieder's (I've been reading it sort of in bits): It is about parallel universes, and it is frustrating, because many scientists— or in many ways scientifically-oriented persons, such as myself— speaking of these universes, are/am not speaking of something apart from existence, at least as well as I understand the concepts. We are speaking about spatial (and maybe temporal, following one source of my parallel universes information— Gregory Benford's Cosm) fields that do not coincide in space or time more broadly, except, mainly, as much as they all exist together. For this, the term "universe" encompasses a particular spatial/spatiotemporal field, so that there can be many such fields, and thus many such universes (at least in terms of the concept, if not in actual fact as such). So, then, "parallel universes" as such are not fantasies— I mean, they may be in the sense that it is learned that they are not, or cannot, be real (and going on the little evidence for them, that they are just, at present, imaginary constructs), but they are not fantastic in the sense that thinking of them thereof negates the concept of existence and is hence self-refuting. Moreover, someone (take me for example), when talking about the "universe," may not be talking about "existence," while someone else may be (redundancy?).
Anyway, kind of again, I don't blame (in an ethical-intellectual way) Ayn Rand (or Mr. Schieder, either), for misunderstanding Kant. I won't even blame anyone whose beliefs about Kant more or less coincide with these persons', as they are (or, with Rand, more that as they were), if they tell me they've read this bit of a critique and still agree with the Ayn Rand-styled position. Terminological problems are horribly, horribly... Problematic. And, hey. Maybe I'm wrong? Yeah, it is a thought. Not a really bad thought, either. I've had my share of errors over time.