Kant was mistaken.
Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason laid out the idea that we cannot know reality directly. His word for reality was ‘The things-in-themselves’. We can never know these things-in-themselves we can only know the phenomenon, our sensory experience of them with the added layer of our a priori constructs, those being time, space, causality, etc.
He seemed to imagine that these things-in-themselves were of some sort of aspect of reality that we were forever cut off from.
He was wrong.
Those things-in-themselves are simply the non-verbal/non-symbolic Territory. We are a part of the Territory, we are made up of the Territory and thus directly connected with it and directly interact with it. We do not know the Territory directly as Kant said because it is non-verbal and non-symbolic. We know things on a continuum of processes.
Subconscious and unconscious knowing is the non-verbal/non-symbolic knowing that is familiar to animals and infants.
It is direct interaction and direct understanding of the world. For humans we are conscious of one important additional way of knowing about the Territory and that is by means of symbols and symbol systems. Our must vital and fundamental symbol system is our verbal word system.
However as Korzybski noted, the word is not the thing, which is similar to what Lao Tzu stated in his opening lines of the Tao Te Ching, ‘The Tao (Territory) that can be spoken about is not the true aspect of the Tao (Territory). The name (map) that can be named (mapped) is not the true name (aka the things actual non-verbal nature) ’
We consciously know only words/maps, and our direct conscious experience of knowing about the Territory is with and through words/maps. This is Kant’s phenomenon. Since the Territory is non-verbal, it is the things-in-themselves, we cannot know them consciously expect through words/maps. Hence Kant’s statement that we never know the Territory/things-in-themselves is partially correct.
Knowing as defined by creating and using words/maps is not the same as directly experiencing the Territory. However, we can interact with the Territory/things-in-themselves on a non-verbal level and thus through our bodies we directly interact with and come to know the Territory. When we observe animals and infants we are seeing them directly interact and know the Territory.
Kant was confused.
He only focused on verbal conscious knowledge and didn’t understand that there was unconscious and subconscious knowledge of the Territory that infants and animals demonstrate. We also interact with the Territory on a sensory/body level before we process that data/experience into words/maps. Hence we do know on some levels the things-in-themselves. We are not cut off from knowing the nature and structure of reality aka the Territory aka the things-in-themselves.