Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

All his dangerous arguments refer to ant hr o po mo r

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Unformatted text preview: taken from the world of the senses, and in that case I (·as a user of the concept in question·) would after all be dealing only with an object of the senses, not something of a radically different sort that can never be an object of the senses. Here is an example: Suppose that I attribute understanding to the Supreme Being. My only concept of understanding is one that fits understandings like mine - one that has to get its intuitions ·passively· from the senses, and that occupies itself ·actively· in bringing those intuitions under rules of the unity of consciousness. If I applied that concept to the Supreme Being, I would be saying that the raw materials of the Supreme Being’s thought come from the realm of appearance; but it was the inadequacy of appearances ·to meet the demands of reason· that forced me to beyond them to the concept of a being that doesn’t depend on appearances and is not identified or characterized through them. ·To credit the Supreme Being with understanding, therefore, I need a concept of understanding from which the notion of gettingdata-from-the-senses has been purged·. But if I separate understanding from sensibility to obtain a pure understanding ·that the Supreme Being might have·, then nothing remains but the mere form of thinking without intuitions; and form alone doesn’t enable me to know anything definite, and so it doesn’t enable me to point my thought at the Supreme Being as an object. ·On the one hand, then, I mustn’t suppose that the Supreme Being Ÿthinks about sensible intuitions; on the other, I mustn’t suppose that the Supreme Being Ÿthinks without having intuitions to think about. So·: for my purpose ·of attributing understanding to the Supreme Being· I would have to conceive another kind of understanding, such as would ·actively· intuit its objects ·itself, instead of passively having intuitions of them brought to it by sensibility·. But I haven’t the least notion of such an understanding, because human understanding is conceptual, its only way of knowing is through general concepts, ·and it has no ability to present itself with intuitive data·. I shall run into exactly the same trouble if I attribute a will to the Supreme Being; for I have this concept only by drawing it from my internal experience; I experience will in myself as based on facts of the form I shall not be satisfied unless I get object x, which means that my will is grounded in sensibility, ·through which desired objects are presented to me·; and that ·dependence on sensibility· is absolutely incompatible with the pure concept of the Supreme Being. Hume’s objections to deism are weak, and affect only the arguments and not the thesis of deism itself. But as regards theism, which is supposed to come from adding certain content to deism’s merely transcendent ·and thus empty· concept of the Supreme Being, his objections are very strong; indeed they are irrefutable as arguments against certain forms of theism, including all the usual ones. Hume always insists that by the mere concept of an original being, to which we apply only ontological predicates (‘eternal, 69 ‘omnipresent’, ‘omnipotent’), we don’t think anything definite, and that other properties must be added if we are to have a concept of a definite, concrete thing. ·This is not a trivial requirement, Hume holds. For example, he says· that it is not enough to say It is a cause; but we must explain what kind of causality it has - for example, whether it is exercised through understanding and will - and that is the point at which his attack begins on his real topic, theism; up to there he had been attacking only the arguments for deism, which is not a notably dangerous thing to do. All his dangerous arguments refer to ant hr o po mo r phism [ fr o m G r eek meaning ‘ man- shape d- is m’; in t he o lo g y anthropomorphism is the view that God is like man]. Hume holds this to be inseparable from theism, and to make it internally self-contradictory; and if anthropomorphism were left out ·of the theological story·, theism would drop out with it, and nothing would remain but deism. We can’t make anything out of deism: it is worthless, and can’t serve as a foundation for religion or morals. If this anthropomorphism were really unavoidable, no proofs whatever of the existence of a Supreme Being, even were they all granted, could give us a detailed concept of this Being without involving us in contradictions. When we connect the command to avoid all transcendent judgments of pure reason with the apparently conflicting command to proceed to concepts that lie beyond the domain of immanent (empirical) use, we become aware that the two commands can subsist together, but only right on the boundary of all permitted use of reason - for this boundary belongs equally to the domain of experience and to that of the creations of thought [= Ideas]. And through that awareness we also learn how these Ideas, remarkable as they are, serve merely for marking the boundaries of human reason. On the one hand they give warning Ÿnot to go on extending ou...
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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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