Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

Afterwards it is up to each person to decide how far

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Unformatted text preview: iples be universal; and they can’t achieve universality unless they can fix their expectations and hopes on the field of transcendental Ideas ·because in the domain of experience strict universality is never to be found·. Now I find that the Ÿpsychological Idea, little as it shows me of the nature of the human soul ·thought of as something· elevated above all concepts of experience, does plainly enough show the inadequacy of these concepts, and in that way steers me away from a materialist theory of mind - a theory that is unfit to explain anything in nature, as 74 well as cramping the use of reason in moral thinking. The Ÿcosmological Ideas serve similarly to keep us from naturalism, which asserts that nature is sufficient unto itself; they do this through ·bringing home to us· the obvious fact that even if we had all possible knowledge of nature, reason’s legitimate demands would not be satisfied. Finally there is the Ÿtheological Idea, ·whose service to us is as follows·. All natural necessity in the sensible world is conditioned, because it always involves something’s being necessitated by something else that is also conditioned; and thus unconditional necessity is to be looked for only in a cause that is different from the world of the senses. And the causality of this cause can’t be yet another example of natural necessity, for if it were it could never make comprehensible the existence of the contingent (as its consequent). So the theological Idea, ·which is the Idea of a non-natural cause of everything contingent·, is something that reason uses to free itself from fatalism (in both its versions: (1) blind natural necessity in the system of nature itself, without a first principle, and (2) blind causality of a first principle of nature), and to arrive at the concept of a cause possessing freedom, or of a highest intelligence. Thus the transcendental Ideas serve, if not to instruct us positively, at least to put a stop to the impudent assertions of materialism, of naturalism, and of fatalism - assertions that restrict the field of reason - thereby making room for the moral Ideas to operate outside the field of speculation. This, I should think, goes some way towards explaining reason’s natural tendency ·to engage with Ideas·, which I mentioned earlier. The facts about the Ÿpractical or moral usefulness that a purely Ÿspeculative science can have don’t lie within the province of the science itself; so they can be seen simply as a scholium [= ‘explanatory note, marginal comment’] which, like all scholia, is not a part of the science itself. Still, this material surely lies within the boundaries of philosophy, especially of philosophy drawn from the well of pure reason - a part of philosophy in which reason’s Ÿspeculative use in metaphysics must necessarily be all of a piece with its Ÿpractical use in morals. Hence the unavoidable dialectic of pure reason, considered as something occurring in metaphysics as a natural tendency, deserves to be explained not only as Ÿan illusion that needs to be cleared away but also, if possible, as Ÿ·an upshot of· something put in place by nature for a purpose - though this task lies outside the jobdescription of metaphysics proper, and so cannot rightly be assigned to it. The solutions of the questions put forward in the Critique at A642-68 = B675-96 should be regarded as a second scholium - this time one that is more closely related to the content of metaphysics.18 For in that part of the Critique certain principles of reason are put forward that characterize a priori Ÿthe order of nature or rather Ÿthe understanding that is to seek nature’s laws through experience. They seem to have propositional content and not merely to be rules for how the understanding should be employed, and to be lawgiving with regard to experience, although they spring from mere reason, which cannot -----------------------------------18 Throughout the Critique I remained resolved not to neglect anything, however deeply hidden, that could bring completion to the inquiry into the nature of pure reason. Afterwards it is up to each person to decide how far to take his researches, once he has been shown what remains to be done. This ·attitude to further research· can reasonably be expected from someone who has made it his business to survey the whole field, so as to leave it to others for future cultivation and for whatever subdividing of it they think fit. The scholia belong to this ·part of the total project·; because of their dryness they can hardly be recommended to amateurs, and hence they are presented only for experts. 75 like the understanding be considered as a principle of possible experience. This agreement ·between principles issued by reason and what is found in experience· may rest on this: Nature isn’t attached to appearances (or to the sensibility through which appearances come) in themselves, but is to be found only in Ÿthe relation of sensibility to the understanding. ·And just as nature takes us upwards from sensibility to understanding, so the theoretical use of the understanding takes us further upwards to reason·. A thoroughgoing unity in the use of the understanding for the sake of a systematically unified possible experience can be had only if Ÿthe understanding is related...
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This note was uploaded on 03/12/2013 for the course PHIL 105 taught by Professor Mendetta during the Spring '13 term at SUNY Stony Brook.

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