Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

Hence we can easily expose the dialectical illusion

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Unformatted text preview: th itself in the third. ·The propositions to be reconciled in the fourth are that there is a necessary being, and that there is not·. The two propositions are perfectly reconcilable provided we distinguish the cause in the domain of appearance from the cause of the domain of appearance (with the latter thought of as a thing in itself). Then one proposition says: Nowhere in the world of the senses is there a cause (according to similar laws of causality) whose existence is absolutely necessary; the other says: This world is nevertheless connected with a necessary being as its cause (but of another kind and according to another law). The incompatibility of these propositions entirely rests on the mistake of extending what is valid merely of appearances to things in themselves, and in general running the two together in one concept. Section 54 This then is how I present and how I solve the entire antinomy in which reason finds itself caught when it applies its principles to the world of the senses. The mere presentation would contribute a lot to the knowledge of human reason, even if the solution hadn’t yet fully satisfied you - which it well might not, because you have to combat a natural illusion that has only recently been exposed to you and that you have previously always regarded as genuine. For there is no escaping from this: so long as you take the objects of the world 63 of the senses to be things in themselves, and not the mere appearances which is what they really are, you haven’t any chance of avoiding this conflict of reason with itself; so you must re-examine my deduction of all our a priori knowledge and the tests that I put it through, in order to come to a decision on the question. This is all I require at present; for if in carrying this out you take your thoughts deeply enough into the nature of pure reason, you will familiarize yourself with the concepts through which alone the solution of the conflict of reason is possible. Unless that happens, I can’t expect complete assent even from the most attentive reader. III. The theological Idea Section 55 ·I have discussed the Ÿpsychological Idea(s) and the Ÿcosmological Idea(s). Now·: The Ÿthird transcendental Idea is the ideal of pure reason. The use of reason for which it provides material is the most important of all; though if it is pursued in a merely ·theorybuilding or· speculative manner, that makes it transcendent - ·theorizing outside the domain of possible experience· - which in turn makes it dialectical. With the psychological and cosmological Ideas, reason starts with experience, and goes wrong by taking a grandiose view of its grounds and trying to achieve, where it can, the absolutely complete series of grounds. Not so with the third, theological Idea. Here reason totally breaks with experience; and - starting from mere concepts of what would constitute the absolute completeness of a thing in general, and thus bringing in the Idea of Ÿa most perfect primal being - it works down from there to secure the possibility and therefore the actuality of Ÿall other beings. And so the mere presupposition of a being that is conceived not in the series of experience but for the purposes of experience - for the sake of comprehending its connection, order, and unity - that is, the Idea, is distinguished from the concept of the understanding more easily in this case than in the others. Hence we can easily expose the dialectical illusion that arises from our taking the subjective conditions of our thinking to be objective conditions of objects themselves, and taking an hypothesis necessary for the satisfaction of our reason to be an objectively established truth. I have nothing more to say here about the pretensions of transcendental theology, because my remarks about them in the Critique are easily grasped, clear, and decisive, . Section 56: General remark on the transcendental Ideas The objects given to us by experience are in many respects incomprehensible, and the law of nature leads us to many questions ·about them· which, when carried beyond a certain point (though still in conformity with those laws), cannot be answered. For example: why do material things attract one another? But if we Ÿgo right outside nature, or Ÿ·stay within it but· in thinking about how it is interconnected go beyond all possible experience and so enter the realm of mere Ideas, t hen w e cannot say that our subject-matter is incomprehensible and that the nature of things confronts us with insoluble problems. For in this case we are not dealing with nature - or, to put it more generally, we are not dealing with Ÿgiven objects - but with Ÿconcepts that have their origin solely in our reason, and with mere creations of thought; and all the problems that arise from our concepts of 64 them must be soluble, because of course reason can and must give a full account of its own process.15 As the psychological, cosmological, and theological Ideas are nothing but pure c...
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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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