Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

Another reason why we ought to ought to have those

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Unformatted text preview: t is the purpose and function of this disposition of our reason, which has given birth to metaphysics as its favourite child; and this child, like every other in the world, is a product not of blind chance but of an original seed that is wisely organized for great purposes. For metaphysics, perhaps more than any other science, has in its main outlines been placed in us by nature itself, and cannot be viewed as the outcome of an arbitrary choice or of an accidental enlargement ·of our thoughts· in the progress of experience - from which indeed it is wholly separate. Concepts and laws of the understanding suffice for the empirical use of reason, that is, for the use of it within the world of the senses; but they don’t satisfy reason itself, because it faces an infinite sequence of questions with no hope of ever completely answering them. The transcendental Ideas, which have that completion as their aim, are such problems of 67 reason. Now reason sees clearly that the world of the senses cannot contain this completion, neither (therefore) can all the concepts that serve only for understanding the world of the senses - space and time, and the ones I have presented under the name of ‘pure concepts of the understanding’. The world of the senses is nothing but a chain of appearances connected according to universal laws; so it Ÿhas no existence for itself, Ÿis not really the thing in itself, and consequently must stand in a relation to ·something other than itself, namely· to what contains the grounds of this experience - to beings that can be known not merely as phenomena but as things in themselves. It is only in the knowledge of these that reason can hope to satisfy its demand for completeness in the advance from the conditioned to its conditions. In sections 33-4 above I indicated the limits of reason with regard to all knowledge of mere creations of thought. [The word ‘limits’ - Schranken - doesn’t occur in those two sections.] Now, since the transcendental Ideas have made it necessary for us to approach them, and thus have led us to the spot where Ÿoccupied space meets Ÿthe void, so to speak - that is, where Ÿexperience touches Ÿthat of which we can know nothing, namely noumena - we can settle what the boundaries are of pure reason. For in all boundaries there is something positive: for example, a surface is the boundary of corporeal space, and is itself a space; a line is a space that is the boundary of a surface; a point is the boundary of a line but yet is always a place in space, whereas limits contain mere negations. The limits pointed out in sections 33 and 34 are still not enough ·to satisfy us(?)· once we have discovered that there is still something beyond them (though we can never know what it is in itself). For the question now arises: How does our reason conduct itself in this connection of what we know with what we don’t know and never shall? There is here an actual connection of the known with something completely unknown (which will always remain so); and even if the unknown is not going to become the least bit known (and there is no hope that it will), the concept of this connection must still be capable of being identified and brought into clarity. So we ought to have the thought of an immaterial being, a world of understanding, and a Supreme Being (all mere noumena), because Ÿit is only in these items - as things in themselves - that reason finds completion and satisfaction, which it can never hope for in deriving appearances from grounds that are homogeneous with them ·and therefore demand to be grounded in their turn·. Another reason why we ought to ought to have those thoughts is that Ÿ·appearances· really do bring in to something distinct from themselves (and totally unlike them), in that appearances always presuppose an object in itself ·of which the appearance is an appearance·, and thus they suggest its existence whether or not we can know more of it. But as we can never know these beings of understanding as they are in themselves, that is, determinately, but nevertheless have to assume them in relation to the world of the senses and connect them with that world by means of reason, we shall at least be able to think this connection by means of such concepts as express their relation to the world of the senses. ·This relational approach to noumena is the best we can do·. For if we think a being of the understanding Ÿthrough nothing but pure concepts of the understanding, we really think nothing definite, and consequently our concept has no significance; and if we think it Ÿthrough properties borrowed from the world of the senses, it is no longer a being 68 of understanding but is thought as one of the phenomena and belongs to the world of the senses. I shall illustrate this with the notion of the supreme being. The Ÿdeistic concept - ·that is, the Ÿthin concept of a (not necessarily personal) supreme being· - is a wholly pure concept of reason; but all it represents is a thing containing all realities. It cannot pick out any one reality - ·thereby saying something in detail about the supreme being· - because to do so it would have to use an example...
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