Aquinas Vs Kant

A Juxtaposition of the Metaphysics of Aquinas and Kant Two key philosophers that one must examine in order to gain a better grasp of metaphysics are Saint Thomas Aquinas and Immanuel Kant. Through a thorough examination of both thinkers’ metaphysical philosophies, one can conclude that they differ in their beliefs regarding the origin and essence of beings and Being. In his examination of metaphysics, Saint Thomas Aquinas believes that in order to understand being and Being, one must start with God and His heaven, and use his God-given intellect to understand the phenomenal world. However, Kant believes the opposite in that he claims that in order to understand being and Being, one must begin with observing and analyzing the phenomenal world, …show more content…
According to Aquinas, there are two senses of ‘being’: one sense is that “being signifies that which is divided into the ten categories,” and in the other sense, “that which signifies the truth of propositions” (Aquinas, I). Then, Aquinas goes on to say that essence is derived from a being in the first sense. Because a being can be divided into ten categories, essence according to Aquinas must be common to all substances of different genera and species. Moreover, essence can be found in its truest and most perfect form in the simplest of substances, which is God.
However, God and other simple substances that contain the truest and most perfect form of essence cannot be observed by the sense, and therefore, one must turn to the essence of composite substances. In On Being and Essence, Aquinas discusses the essence of composite substances. He claims that the essence in composite substance “comprises both matter and form” (Aquinas, II). In other words, essence is a purposeful combination of form and matter that is essential to the
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In order to understand Kant’s concept of metaphysics, it is important to note the differences between a priori knowledge and a posteriori knowledge. A posteriori knowledge is knowledge gained via experience, while a priori knowledge is knowledge that is gained without experience. Kant claims that metaphysics “must never be derived from experience ...(and) is therefore a priori cognition, coming from pure understanding and pure reason” (Kant, 266). In other words, Kant believes that metaphysics is comprised of nothing but a priori judgments. To further refine his claim, he outlines clear distinctions between two types of judgments: analytic judgments and synthetic judgments (Kant, 266). Analytic judgments are judgments that are “merely explicative, adding nothing to the content of the cognition” (Kant, 266). These types of judgments are made through pure reason, and they simply analyze the subject at hand; for example, if one says that “All humans have skin” it is merely an analysis of the living human body. When one thinks of human beings, they already imagine that the human has skin. The idea that skin exists on all human bodies only brings light to a quality of the body that already exists, and does not add anything to the concept the body itself. In addition, Kant also claims that all analytic judgments are a

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