Kant – separation of reason and experience


Kant

I’m slowly working through some PhD related work (the post on the paper I’m reading will come out later today) and that brought me across the following description of an argument of Kant’s from the wikipedia page on Kant

Kant argues, however, that using reason without applying it to experience will only lead to illusions, while experience will be purely subjective without first being subsumed under pure reason.

I haven’t time to follow up on this or to go to the original source, so the following may suffer from that. However, I find that I interpret this as being very conncted to what I’m currently doing and writing about.

Separation of expert analysis/design and lived experience

My understanding is that Kant was arguing against both the empirical and the rational view of the world/philosophy. To some extent (possibly doubtful in its validity) I see a connection here with some of the problems I’ve been writing about.

The rational world, in my thinking, can be ascribed to aspects of the “expert designer” approach. An expert/consultant/designer in information technology, curriculum, organisational structure applies a range of theories and rules of thumb to design a solution. Such an expert has varying but only small amounts of experience with what actually goes on in the context.

For example, a curriculum designer doesn’t really know what goes on in a course. What the students experience, what the staff say and do etc. What knowledge they do have is based on less than perfect methods such as observation, evaluation results and self-reporting of the students and staff.

The lack of understanding of the lived experience limits what they can see and do. They generally aren’t aware of, or abstract away, the complexities of connections between elements within such a system (should point out that I’m talking primilary about design that happens within human organisations).

As a result of this lack, any solution is likely to be less than perfect.

On the other hand, the academic who is teaching the course (typically) has a large amount of lived experience. A deep understanding of what happens in the course. However, it will be somewhat limited by their patterns and what they are trained to see. In addition, (typically) they will also have no understanding of the various theories and rules of thumb that can help understand what happens and design new interventions.

So as the Wikipedia author ascribes to Kant. Solutions developed purely by an expert designer, without experience, will lead to illusion. While a solution based solely on experience will be purely subjective.

There needs to be a strong and appropriate mix of reason and experience. The right mix of practice and theory.

Implications for information technology

I wonder what this perspective would say about information technology development projects that develop entire systems divorced from experience/reality until they are completed and ready to be put into place?

Implications for the PLE project

For the PLEs@CQUni project this implies that the research project, in order to encourage use of PLE related concepts within learning and teaching, needs to be informed by both theory and experience.

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