Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Improving Critique of Pure Reason with (More) Myths

After studying Kant for a short time the manner in which he talks about our faculties had to be read as a myth (story).  The process of intuition giving objects that are then understood (a priori) and so delivered in an orderly manner was not meant to be taken literally as a sequence, but has more the character of stories Socrates would defer to that he couldn't justify, such as the doctrine of recollection in the Meno.
This reading made the most sense due to Kant's acknowledgement that all knowledge begins with experience, yet not that all knowledge arises from it.  Another way of approaching this is the following: if pure intuition, or concept, wasn't combined already into experience there would be no vantage point from which to discover it, and this means that these things only have there definite sense if they are seen together.
Kant speaks of his interest in making his work sensible to the reader.  Would other stories perhaps make it more sensible?  Kant will often allow different accounts to light up the same thing (e.g., the formulations of the Categorical Imperative), and so it seems we don't need to tell a new story as if it must oppose the old one: these stories are not to be seen as facts that oppose each other, but as guides for the understanding.  Plato, too, seems to have recognized this and seems to make little effort to have the myths he tell be mutually consistent.
Kant provides an opportunity for a different story in the Critique of the Power of Judgment, particularly with regard to the judgment of taste.  Rather than a story about the a priori processing of material, we can instead see the object immediately presenced as interesting apart from a concept.  This interest draws us into conceptualization that first employs the empirical (objective) understanding.  This objective understanding is exactly the basis for an analysis of the form of understanding.  There are some interesting benefits of using such a description that fit very well with Kant's philosophy.
One thing we can benefit from is seeing the givenness of the object as clearly preceding the analysis on it.  Kant says analysis assumes prior synthesis, and this should not imply that analysis depends upon a literal bringing together of material.  We should see this assumption of analysis as the manner in which the activity of analysis guides itself in separating the material, not as a dependency on a speculative processing of material in the subject. This leads to another benefit regarding the understanding of 'subject' in Kant.
Even today there is a temptation to read Kant as another problematic idealist (i.e., Berkeley).  Part of Kant's problem is this subject centric narrative he uses.  Starting from the object of taste, we have something closer to the thoughts expressed in the refutation of idealism: that the conception of the subject depends on something outside us.  However, this narrative doesn't leave the subject as some pure result, rather it would be the 'I' of the 'I think' (objectivity) that is discovered: we have a definite existence apart from explicit empirical determinations, but with the beautiful object we are brought into our first (objective) empirical understanding, and all at once into an understanding of ourselves as thinking objectively.  This way of bringing about the thinking can show us another benefit regarding understanding. 
For Kant, the categories concern the form of understanding of objects of experience.  Nothing particular is thought by the categories alone. Instead the categories describe the basis upon which one can judge additional attributes.  The object of taste is exactly that upon which our understanding is first engaged freely (in spontaneity) to determine the object.  Having the object given first as that upon which we judge can help us see the categories more clearly for what they are and how we discover them: they are the form of the understanding and we discover them from an analysis of the objects understood objectively in experience.  This further avoids the interpretation of categories as existing in the head, and part of a mechanical process on data from senses that produces experience.
Another benefit of our narrative is that it opens up a relation to objects that has more possibilities than passing over to understanding. For example, from this narrative there is room for considering things as equipment in an environment.  This is harder to do when the narrative always delivers the thing to you as understood objectively as such and so particularly in the character of the understanding guided by categories employed in theoretical knowledge. This may open a space to understand topics such as equipmentality through Kant, and also to make use of other thinkers to clear this ground as well.
Ultimately Kant did not want us to repeat his work, but hoped that the work he was doing would help build a common ground for attaining to the more important goals he saw for mankind: expansion of our understanding, perpetual peace, enlightenment, the Highest Good, &c.  In the Prolegomena, Kant asks for help from future teachers of critique.  Kant does not want teachers of his book, but of the science that exists in idea, and which Kant's book of the same name was merely one attempt at working out. We can't hope to help the exposition of critique by merely interpreting and criticizing Kant's narrative, nor can we do it if we must feel alternative narratives can't be given in the spirit of genuine critique. We can continue the worthy project of critique by giving it a clearer exposition, and so more stories from which to develop understand.  I hope that I have suggested the value in this as much as I have given an example.  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Plato's Call for Philosophical Friendship

A major topic of concern in my so-called philosophical work is the problem of community. Philosophy is unable to exist without a community of thinkers in discourse. However, a community of discourse can be envisioned in many ways and it is important to consider which ones have been taken to be suitable for philosophy. Plato's work seems in great part to be concerned with this problem of philosophical community, and since I feel a kinship towards him as regards the problems philosophical community seem to face I will take him as a guide.
Plato frequently distinguishes between dialectic and debate (and their respective cultures) explicitly and through illustrating these different cultures dramatically. Plato continually affirms dialectic over debate. I see the culture of dialectic in Plato as concerned with truth, and as being a true philosophical culture.
In Plato, dialectic is not concerned with refutation but rather with the disclosure of truth. Discourse (logos) purports to disclose truth, yet it can fail. Socrates' method of dialectic (which even has more than one style) detects such failure by submitting the discourse to questions that seek the grounds of such disclosure. 
A typical result of Socrates' style of dialectic is that no ground is discovered in the discourse of the interlocutor. This does not mean that there actually is no ground, but at least that it is obscured. There are a number of different responses to being presented with the groundlessness of a position (as well as many ways to discover it), but they all seem to contain an element of confusion and a response to that confusion. 
If the grounds of a discourse are not brought to light through dialectic confusion results. Interlocutors deal with this confusion in a number of ways both positive (wonder, interest, friendship, &c) and negative (recalcitrance, filibustering, suspicion, &c). The confusion typical positive outcome suggest something like an anxiety about now knowing whereby one wants to know. This knowing or acknowledged ignorance is a genuine concern for truth where truth was understood as what was unable to be uncovered in the dialectic.
Much of Plato's writing seems intended to promote the positive responses to the confusion of dialectic and justify them over the negative responses. There is another way of reading the results of dialectic that wasn't clearly available or of interest to Plato: evaluation by rules of (more or less)formal logic. When one looks to the discussion with a view primarily to its correctness, one losses access to the work being done to attain to the ground of the discourse and instead only anticipates the errors that the interlocutor may stumble into.
The confusion that interlocutors fall into (in Plato and in every day discourse) is not primordially the result of the violation of rules. These days we are hyper-aware of logical rules. Rules of this kind only seem to emerge from diagnosing the ways a discourse can become confused and appear ungrounded. A discourse seeks to disclose something, and discovering its ungroundedness is essentially discovering the forgetfulness of what it was trying to show through the discourse. This kind of forgetfulness is not simply the violation of formal logic, but yet these violations - since they have a regularity - can be read out of the discourse.
On the basis of developing a more or less formal understanding of discourse there is a new attitude one can take that doesn't necessarily concern itself with disclosure but with keeping to the rules, and even playing within the rules. One can present a discourse that avoids those pitfalls and can be persuasive without being concerned with the truth (rhetoric), or introduce paradoxes that intentionally confuse (eristics). With these external guidelines there is the potential for a kind of sport of discourse; this discourse is not concerned with the truth, but with control, power and gain. The culture built around this type of discourse is that of debate or sophistry.
Plato seems to see the negative attitudes of confronting confusion in discourse as promoting or at least accompanying a culture of sophistry. Plato strives to illustrate the needfulness and grounds for true philosophical discourse. He clarifies that which awakens speech into its capacity to disclose: things. He also works out the presuppositions of these things in their capacity to be disclosed through discourse: forms (ideas). 
Plato continually illustrates the difficulty the lover of truth faces in being received with the right attitude. Socrates is continually misunderstood, both by the sophists he discusses with, and by his own friends. It hardly needs to be pointed out that this confusion about Socrates' attitude contributes to his own death, both in the source of his accusation of impiety and in the misunderstanding of his own self-defense.
There seems to be a prejudice against truth that naturally arises from fear and misunderstanding of the anxiety that is the call to the truth. One feels confused and feels thrown out of the truth, but the pain of falling out of the truth is also the invitation or interest of getting back in.
When one grounds philosophy in a system of logic one begins to forget the importance of discourse in its disclosing character, and the sort of community that is required for a discourse at all, let alone a discourse guided by a love of wisdom. Philosophy of this sort is more like sophistry and debate. It no longer concerns itself primarily with disclosing truth, and merely runs along the rails that will keep it from contradictions.
Logic has gained a standing that seems unassailable, and it is correct for logic to be unassailable within certain bounds. It is not appropriate to found the essence of discourse, the attitude towards truth or philosophy itself by this kind of logic.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Using Time in Aristotle to Compare Kant and Heidegger - Part IV

In the last part (Part III) I discussed Heidegger's use of 'temporality' in relation to Aristotle and Kant. Where Kant had provided a ground for Aristotle's experience of events, Heidegger provided a ground for Kant's orientation to the possibility of objects of experience. I will now bring us back to Aristotle's outlook to get another view on Heidegger and Kant.
When Aristotle is working out his Physics, he is asking some fundamental questions about inquiry into beings.  Kant has already assumed the existence of natural science as secure science. Aristotle is looking out at the possibilities that nature presents to him through the senses. One of these is that it can be understood, and he wants to come to terms with this understanding and the basic character of it in the Physics. Kant is not looking at the way the experience of nature provides us with possibility for understanding. (At least we can say this with regard to the Critique of Pure Reason. In the Critique of Judgment he sees this in aesthetic judgment.)
Kant is looking to the objects not in order to understand how they are presented such that they could be understood. Kant is looking at the objects understood in a particular way, and looking at the elements of such an understanding. This subtle different is important.  Aristotle recognizes that things presented to us can enter into various sorts of activity - not merely theoretical understanding, and Kant recognizes this too, but Kant's analysis in the Critique of Pure Reason takes objects in just the attitude of theoretical understanding.
Heidegger sees temporality in our coming towards our own possibilities (as well as other modes that I will leave out for now).  Heidegger can be seen as looking to Aristotle's attitude towards the particular possibility he was receptive to in the Physics: the possibility to understand nature.  With this in view, Heidegger looks at the area in which this is a possibility for us among other possibilities.  This bears some repetition and development.
Aristotle looked at his possibility for knowing nature, and characterized nature in its understandability.  Kant looked at the nature understood and developed the elements of this understood nature.  Heidegger looked at Aristotle's understanding of the understandability of nature and developed the elements of this kind of understanding. There is some violence to Heidegger in this last statement about him, but this is just a rough start to characterize briefly the relationship I see between Kant, Heidegger and Aristotle which needs to be developed further.  First, however, I would like to avoid a potential misunderstanding.
Heidegger saw Aristotle's understanding of understandability.  Why not see the understanding of the understandability of understandability, and so on forever?  Clearly, these two kinds of understanding are to be differentiated.  Aristotle sees the understandability of nature, which means he sees certain possibilities for understanding object.  Heidegger understands the understability that Aristotle saw, but since this understandability is not an object but a possibility, the understanding Heidegger develops is in the possibility of these attitudinal possibilities in relation to things, he also sees the possibility of not getting our primary direction from things, and the manner in which the very understandability of things can lure us into this orientation towards things.
Kant and Heidegger both took up different projects that relate to Aristotle's.  Kant took up the understanding of objects once the method of this understanding had become secure.  Heidegger took up the characterization of the possibility of understanding that Aristotle saw in objects.  The interpretations of Kant and Heidegger developed differently on the basis of this.

Some Remarks:

I do not mean that Heidegger and Kant were explicitly looking at Aristotle.  Though they were aware of him it isn't necessary that they took their direction from Aristotle explicitly.
I am not suggesting any kind of order of importance between these thinkers and their thinking out of time.  This would require separate justification.
There is something interesting here with relation to transcendental inquiry: Aristotle, Kant and Heidegger all have different basic directions, but they all look to the transcendental ground of these.  This is not to give priority to Kant; one could just as well see that each of these thinkers disclosed the phenomena they had in mind, and give priority to phenomenology.  This does let us see a relationship between transcendental philosophy and phenomenology:  transcendental philosophy doesn't mean taking the same topics for analysis that Kant did.
I see that Heidegger and Kant are both attacking a tendency that people fell into with regard to the success of Aristotle's project.  Kant shows that metaphysicians cannot use the model of understanding from nature in their own pursuits, and so need to turn away from characterizing them in terms of objects.  Heidegger also wants to see new opportunities in carrying out the question concerning the being of beings without taking direction from objects.  Kant and Heidegger both suggest alternative ways forward, but these alternatives are not contradictory.  The alternatives that come out of Kant and Heidegger still seem to have the characteristic difference of their original points of departure.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Using Time in Aristotle to Compare Kant and Heidegger - Part III

In our last part (Part II) I discussed Kant's analysis of time and illustrated how he develops Aristotle's.
Kant's basic outlook from which he analyses time concerns the possibility of representations as simultaneous and sequential. The experience of time that conditions the temporality of objects is not a concept, but a mode of representing per se. It is infinite because it has no dimension, not even the character of dimensionality (in which case it would either be definite or indefinite). Time is constitutive for our experience of objects.
Aristotle's outlook was from the perspective of how time comes into our awareness as change. Here the structure of time was illustrated as having a beginning middle and end. Kant also looking in this direction, but because he had already characterized time as form he considered this a particular determinateness of objects in time.
So far we have seen three different ways of dealing with time: first, time as a form; second, time as a duration between a beginning and end; and third, time as units derived from motions (or changes) that happen with regularity (clock time). We have seen time go from something bounded (In Aristotle) to something unbounded (in Kant). In Heidegger an entirely different attitude is used in approaching the situation which does not take its guidance from things.
In Being and Time, Heidegger sets out from the very start with the explicit goal of analyzing Dasein, and then characterizing Dasein in terms of its particular temporality. The analysis of Dasein requires an outlook that is different from Kant and Aristotle, yet could be described as containing these other outlooks as possibilities for the entity being analyzed (Dasein).
Heidegger's analysis of time can be characterized in relation to Kant in a rough (non-complete) way: while Kant's outlook assumes the concern with objects as candidates for theoretical activity, Heidegger is concerned with the temporality wherein there is a possibility of concerning oneself with objects in this way. (Of course, Kant does not only deal with objects as theoretical, but this is the basis of his explcit interpretation of time.) Even though this characterization of temporality in Heidegger is incomplete, it suits my purposes here of relating Heidegger's outlook to that of Kant and Aristotle.
We now have a fourth manner of considering time.  Rather than time being a basis for objects with magnitudes, or events over certain amounts of time, temporality potentiality of Dasein to be itself.  We come towards ourselves in the possibilities we see for ourselves, and there are never times in which these possibilities aren't there to approach.  In Heidegger, past, present and future are all together in an interrelated manner.  This is not unique in that all the 'directions' of time are together, but the manner in which these are divided.  the future event isn't a unit of time that hasn't happened yet (a limitation on time as form of appearance), rather the future is differentiated by our becoming what we are according to our possibilities.
We project possibilities and advance towards ourselves; we drag the past along with us in our state of mind; we encounter the world in its presence. These characteristics of our existence do not happen at different times, our outside of each other, but are all characterizations of the structure of the same temporality that we undergo (that we live). Temporality is not different from the very ways in which we are enacted towards ourselves (where we are our very own possibilities).
I still have not carried through the comparison through Aristotle, and this will be best to leave for the next part.  While we have roughly characterized time for Aristotle, Kant and Heidegger, we can turn back to the projects within which they were working out their understanding of time. Kant and Heidegger can be seen in relation to Aristotle's project in the physics.   The goal of this comparison is not to reduce Heidegger and Kant to Aristotle, but to see how Aristotle's outlook on time can help us move between these thinkers in our own understanding.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Using Time in Aristotle to Compare Kant and Heidegger: Part II

(This is the second part of a series of comparative philosophy: here is part I.)
While in Aristotle time is seen as an indeterminate magnitude bounded by ideal points, Kant's exposition begins only with respect to time's magnitude.  
In Kant, time is described as an infinite given magnitude.  (Kant sharply distinguishes between infinite and indefinite: infinite is without limits, while indefinite is with undetermined limits.)  Kant provides a thought experiment that can help us gauge what he means.  If we try to imagine another time, we may succeed in imagining other objects in a past or future, but our own experience of time (of sequence and simultaneity) remains unchanged.  We cannot imagine this other time (imagination itself is only possible in the sequence and simultaneity of our experience).
Kant also calls time a form (namely, the pure form of inner sense).  We can use time's character as infinite magnitude to understand this term 'form'.
There is a paradox in an infinite magnitude: a magnitude, one would think, is the kind of thing that must have a size.  However, something infinite has no size in principle.  This sounds like a contradiction, but is rather the key to understanding 'form'.  Rather than being a magnitude, time makes any determination of magnitude possible by being the 'field' of such determinations, and so the time, as a pure form of intuition, is the possibility of time determinations (limitations).  Aristotle's understanding of the beginnings and ends that limit a time is possible on the basis of a more basic understanding of the magnitude between the points as limited from a field of possible limitations - the form of time.
While we still have kept a relation to Aristotle's sense of time, Kant's account still points to something different.  The indeterminate magnitude between the beginning and end of a change is now seen as a limitation on a more primordial time.  The limitation by way of the beginning and end is described by Kant, particularly through the pure concepts of the understanding (categories).  These should be connected with Aristotle's considerations of time.
In Aristotle time was experienced in change and had a structure of something with a beginning middle (indeterminate duration) and end.  In Kant, changes are experienced in time, where time is an infinite magnitude that allows for limitation through conceiving of times.  In discussing Aristotle we found that the measurement of the magnitude of time seemed impossible without regular motions.  Here we still find this to be the case, but can also see how the capacity for limitation already produces a second notion of time that can be pluralized (unlike time as a form, which is only singular).  This time is apparently the time of Aristotle, as it shares the characteristics of being demarcated with a beginning and end (in Kant, cause and effect).  This, in effect, leaves us with three notions of time: time as form, as bounded indeterminate magnitude, and as the measure of a regular motions discoverable within world events (clock time).
By introducing the form of time (as the form of inner sense), Kant shows the character of time in Aristotle as a product of the understanding.  We now have time as form of intuition, and as concept (and even measure).  In Kant, the intuition and understanding are never discovered apart, but are always synthesized a priori as experience.  This means that there is an original belonging together of these two halves that is seen in the original experience and allows these two halves to be parsed out.  Kant characterizes this original togetherness roughly in the schematism, where the pure concepts of the understanding are to be taken as transcendental expressions of time.  Generally speaking, Kant does not see any way of illustrating the original unity of the intuition and understanding.  While it may be possible to produce an account of this out of looking at later writings from Kant, I won't get pulled into those concerns here.
The pure concepts ultimately provide for the sort of object of experience that we can judge about. This object of empirical understanding is the primary orientation point Kant has phenomenologically, and from this standpoint the connection of time and concepts is murky - and with good reason.  In part III I will consider Heidegger's understanding of time as temporality.  From Heidegger's entry way into phenomena we can get another shot at understanding what was murky in Kant, and provide another mode for understanding time.  We will ultimately relate this back to Aristotle's model of time.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Using Time in Aristotle to Compare Kant and Heidegger: Part I

In Aristotle's Physics the existence of time is deeply called into question and reinterpreted in an apparently phenomenological manner.  I think the conception of time in Kant and Heidegger can benefit from comparison to Aristotle.  I will carry out this comparison in three parts.
For Aristotle the beginning and end of any time is ideal and can be described like temporal geometric points (i.e., they have no size).  Between these points is an indeterminate duration.  Time only exists in this structure:
beginning -------------- end
This does not mean that for Aristotle time is composed out of units of beginnings and ends, or even overlapping beginnings and ends.  Instead, the experience of time always structurally contains these moments.
When we become aware of something it is always awareness of a difference - a change has taken place.  This awareness is the awareness of an end, and the prior state before the change is the start.
Imagine that someone throws a ball (or throw a ball into the air yourself).  You see it in its trajectory over numerous points in space.  Each of those points is an awareness of change that takes its reference to a beginning.  Here time is not a duration but a certain mode of awareness about things.  In order to have a duration one must measure time by something.  We are not concerned with measuring time, but I can remark that such measuring is done traditionally through movements (perceived to be) of a fixed kind (e.g., the movements of planets).
In this experience of time, the beginning doesn't come before the end, but both come together in awareness.  From this, Aristotle is able to make the point that there is no such thing as the beginning of movement.  One can only encounter movement in its continuing to move or stopping.  (While I am sticking to movement I should at least point out that all change of characteristics are understood in this way by Aristotle.)  One can verify this with reference to ones own experience of change.
Now, the structure of time with a beginning an indistinct duration and an end is something that is all at once for awareness, but looks like a line drawn out (as we map it to space), and so it is easy to think that we can point the the beginning.  In this regard, of course, there is a beginning, but if we want to speak of a beginning in time without an end, then we are not speaking about our primordial experience of time but of time converted already into a duration, and so we mean the time.
The next part (Part II) will concern Kant and how the indistinct-duration (that Aristotle recognized) in the experience of time is given priority.  This indistinct measure is not broken up moment to moment, but considered as infinite. Then pure concept (category) of cause is used to provide the same model of beginning, indefinite duration, and end that is found in Aristotle.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Applying Kant's Moral Proof to Materialism

I will briefly sketch Kant's Moral Proof for the existence of God, and then apply the same kind of reasoning to Materialism.
It is well known that Kant gives a harsh criticism to all theology in the first critique, and shows that (theoretically speaking) God is unknowable.  We cannot have so much as an opinion about God's existence.  We do not know if God is possible or impossible.  
For many, Kant's earlier criticisms of theology produce confusion in light of his later Moral Proof of the existence of God.  While one can say that the Moral Proof is not theoretical, and so has nothing to do with the criticisms he leveled against theology, this doesn't do any work to help us understand the Moral Proof and to remove all lingering suspicion that he hasn't gone back on his previous work.
To understand the Moral Proof, one must first understand a subtlety about ends (goals) that we will (undertake):  when we will an end, we take the means necessary for the end to be possible.  Now, if we will an end that required supernatural means, we take these supernatural means to be possible. 
If will the Highest Good (the union of perfect virtue and perfect happiness) we also have granted the possibility of the means.  The means must be able to have our actions in the world that are motivated by duty impact the way we are rewarded in nature.  The cause that would combine our happiness with our virtue could not in nature, so it requires a supernatural cause.  This supernatural cause is God.
Using the structure of this moral proof we can take another example of a metaphysical position: materialism.  One may interpret materialism as saying that all of our empirical scientific research is bound up with a study of matter at some level.  At this point, materialism is not a metaphysical statement, but simply a statement of the domain of study for science.  To give this position a metaphysical characterization I will add the following: all attitudes must be constrained, ultimately, to the realm of empirical scientific research, and so ultimately get their explanations in an account of matter.
Just as Kant points out concerning theoretical knowledge of God, it cannot be known if our theory of materialism is true (the reasons for this I will leave aside).  It is, in fact, a practical sort of theory.  It is normative for the way we give accounts of things.  The question, "know thyself", must necessarily mean to know something about matter.  Using the same form as the Moral Proof, we can see a potential motivation for determining ourselves in favor of this metaphysical outlook.
If I am interested in have possible efficacy regarding all things, I will want any possible encounterable problem to be in a domain where I am effective.  To state this another way: if I will that I am sufficient to all of my ends, then all of my ends must relate to that which I can manipulate, and all that I can manipulate is matter.  This end permits me to give a practical denial - metaphysically - to the super natural (even to the will, which becomes a conversational convenience).
There may be other ways of interpreting materialism.  This is all ultimately an attempt to characterize how metaphysical positions are motivated.  For me, this goes a long way in helping me to sympathize with positions (such as materialism) that I find difficult to maintain.  (I do not feel a demand to be sufficient to all of my ends, but I can begin to understand what that would be like, and how that would benefit my existence.)
I think that all these metaphysical positions, accordion to their motivation, can be further evaluated so far as we understand what we do when we ask and answer the question "know thyself".  "Know thyself" here is understood as a question concerning the human being generally (a philsophical anthropology, perhaps).  What interpretation of the human being makes the most sense to us is going to determine our metaphysical outlook.
(Aside: If humanism is taken to mean that humans can be sufficient to ourselves through our own 'meaning making', then humanism will ultimately be a materialism.  Of course, there are other ways of speaking about humanism.)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Phenomenological Exercises for Understanding 'objects' in Kant

(This isn't perfect, and serves more as a start and conversation piece.)
It isn't obvious what people are talking about when they speak of objects or things.  Speaking of objects becomes more confusing when members of the conversation have any philosophical training.  The problem, however, isn't that we should avoid philosophical training, but that philosophical training must be continually re-grounded in its sources.
This is an attempt to walk through Kant's account of an object by providing some simple instructions and remarks.  I will write in a manner different from Kant, but still using his account as my guide.  Read the numbers in order (which means skipping up and down through sections).

Object

1) Look at something.  Pick it up.
4) The object is something of the sight and feel, but it is more than that.
7) You can imagine the object your're holding, and modify it in thought to be slightly different, but still possible.  You are experiencing the imagined object, but in a distinct way from the one you're holding.
10) The object could have been understood as something other than what it was understood to be.  With your attention turned to this, you may find other ways of understanding it as well, or wonder what you would think of it if you weren't familiar with it at all. (E.g., a ball could have been understood as a paper weight.)

Object in General

2) You aren't picking up your sight of what you are seeing, but something else.  It isn't the feel of what you are feeling that is picked up either.
5) Note that the object is still there, and that its still-being-there isn't some part of it's look or feel, yet this is something we can say of the thing.  Note that this is something said of the thing, and not of our unifying the thing.
8) Note how you can consider an imagined object in all the respects you can consider the sighted and felt one.
11) Any other understanding of the object would leave its character of still-being-there intact.

Appearance (perception)

3) Yet, you see and feel something, which apparently we can speak of separately.
6) Even though the object remains there, the look and feel changes as you adjust it in your hands and field of vision.
9) You do not see or feel the imagined object, yet it has a presence akin to the sighted and felt object.
12) The look doesn't provide enough information to comprehend why the object is taken to be what it is if it could be seen another way (as in 10).  It also provides no ground for the object still-being-there.  So, how does the appearance relate to the object we think apart from differentiating it from the imagined object?

Pure Forms of Intuition

13) Looks and feels are in space and time, but space and time aren't themselves looks or feels.  The character of objects as still-being-there, which does not appear depends on time, but time itself isn't a thing that is still-being-there or else it would, too, be in time.

Between Object in General and things-in-themselves

The difference between an object in general and a thing-in-itself can be seen in a simple experiment.  Think or see properties of an object as it appears.  These properties depend upon the characters of the object in general (i.e., still-being-there).  Now, wonder if the object in general itself has these properties that the ball has when considered with its appearance.  
The object in general does have these properties, since these properties are given in the appearance which originally relates to it.  The object in general is simply the unity of the appearances via the manner of representation in space and time, it is not an additional object 'behind' the appearance.  When we treat the object in general, which is our thought of the 'real thing', as if it were itself questionable concerning properties, then we produce a new object: the thing-in-itself. 

Clearing up some Confusion Around 'thinking a thing'

Thinking a thing can mean that we verbalize to ourselves about it internally.  However, thinking a thing can just mean the manner in which we access a thing apart from its look and feel.
When we think the object we are experiencing, this means just refers to the manner in which the object is accessed by us apart from the look and feel.  Pay attention to this while going through the above again.

But I thought that we cannot know things-in-themselves?

Kant says that we cannot know things-in-themselves, but that does not mean that we are denied thinking such things.  In fact, thoughts of things-in-themselves are part of our experience of the object, even if the thing-in-itself is not given with the experience of the object: what is given is the appearance.

Notes on Development Hell

It took quite a bit of effort to illustrate how the appearance is only problematically related to the object of experience.
On the other hand, I had to show an affinity between the object in general and object.  This was not that hard, however, since it was easy enough to talk about the object's still-being-there