Kant called his middle way a Copernican Revolution in epistemology since, contrary to the traditional approaches, Kant's theory proposes that it is not the mind that conforms to reality (that is sees things as they are), but it is reality that conforms to the a priori forms and categories of our understanding. Thus, we only see things as they appear (phenomena) not as they are.
Kant borrowed the term "categories" from Aristotle, but with the concession that Aristotle's own categorizations were faulty. He thought that Aristotle had no guiding principle for the discovery of the categories and so randomly picked them up; consequently, his table remained imperfect. The imperfection is apparent from his inclusion of "some modes of pure sensibility (quando, ubi, situs, also prius, simul), also an empirical concept (motus), none of which can belong to this genealogical register of the understanding."
Kant's divisions, however, have a guiding rule: the a priori and the a posteriori distinction. The categories had to be a priori. They are the ones that make all synthetic a priori judgments about experience possible. The processing unit involves the following components:
|FUNCTION OF THOUGHT IN JUDGMENT||CATEGORIES OF UNDERSTANDING||PRINCIPLES OF PURE UNDERSTANDING|
|Axioms of Intuition|
|Anticipations of Perception|
|Of Inherence and Subsistence (substantia et accidens)|
Of Causality and Dependence (cause and effect)
Of Community (reciprocity between the agen and patient)
|Analogies of Experience|
|Postulates of Empirical Thought in General|
From The Critique of Pure Reason (1787)( SS5. Sec.II and SS6. Sec.III