Attack on the Idea of Necessary Existence

Attack on the Idea of Necessary Existence - Kant insists on...

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Attack on the Idea of Necessary Existence Kant argues that the idea of necessary existence is incomprehensible. We cannot prove that such a thing is possible, since we have no effective criterion of possibility to apply. However, this is irrelevant to the cosmological argument, since as we have seen, it does not depend on first establishing the possibility of necessary existence. Kant argues that we have no criterion of existence except that of connection to actual sensation. Since God cannot perceived, the category of existence cannot apply to him. This argument seems to prove too much. If it were sound, we could never know that any observable thing exists, which would make much of contemporary science (particle physics, physical chemistry, astronomy, cognitive psychology) impossible.
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Unformatted text preview: Kant insists on identifying necessity with the constraints of our concepts. Like Hume, he identifies impossibility with inconceivability. According to Kant, if this were not so, we would have no criterion (no effective test) of impossibility. Knowledge of impossibility would be thus be impossible. This position is self-defeating -- see my section on Kant in "A New Look. ..", section 8.7. We have to ask Hume and Kant, is the principle that all necessity is based on inconceivability supposed to be necessary or contingent? If it is contingent, where is the empirical evidence that it is true? If it is necessary, how can they explain the fact that the opposite view (one that distinguishes between impossibility and inconceivability) is itself conceivable?...
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