Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

Ii the cosmological idea section 50 the cosmological

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Unformatted text preview: illusion of the latter. In ·dealing with· both ·outer experience and dreaming· Cartesian idealism presupposes space and time as required for the existence of objects; its only question is this: ŸAre the objects of the outer senses, which when awake we put in space, actually to be found in it (as the object of inner sense, the soul, is actually to be found in time)? That amounts to this: ŸDoes experience carry with it sure criteria to distinguish it from imagination? Doubts about this can easily be disposed of. We dispose of them in ordinary life every time we investigate how appearances in both space and time are connected according to universal laws of experience: when the representation of outer things agrees thoroughly with those laws we can’t doubt that they constitute truthful experience. So it is very easy to refute material idealism, which ·questions the existence of bodies, although it does not think of them as things in themselves, but· considers appearances as appearances and takes account only of how they are connected in experience: it is just as sure an experience that bodies exist outside us (in space) as that I myself exist according to the representation of inner sense (in time); ·I put it like that because· the concept of outside us means just existing in space. Compare these two: Ÿtaking ‘body’ to refer not merely to outer intuition (in space) but to the thing-initself that is the basis of this appearance - ·the thing that the appearance is an appearance of·, and Ÿtaking the ‘I’ in the proposition ‘I am’ to refer not merely the object of inner intuition (in time) but to the subject of consciousness- ·the thing that has the consciousness·. The ‘body’ thought generates Ÿ the question of whether bodies (which are really phenomena of outer sense) exist as bodies in nature apart from my thoughts - a question that can be briskly answered in the negative. The ‘I’ thought generates Ÿthe question of whether I myself (an appearance of inner sense, the soul that empirical psychology studies) exist apart from my faculty of representation in time; and this question is on exactly the same footing as the other, and must likewise be answered in the negative. Everything is decided and certain in this way, once it has been given its true meaning, Formal idealism (which I have also called ‘transcendental idealism’) actually abolishes material (or Cartesian) idealism. For if space is nothing but a form of my sensibility, then it is - as a representation in me - just as actual as I myself am; and the only remaining question concerns the empirical truth of the representations in space. And if on the other hand space and the phenomena in it are something existing outside us, then the actuality of these ·alleged· objects outside us can never be proved ·in the way it would have to be 56 proved, namely· by applying the criteria of experience beyond the domain of our perception. II. The cosmological Idea Section 50 The cosmological Idea is the most remarkable product of pure reason in its transcendent use. It has more power than anything else to rouse philosophy from its dogmatic slumber and to stimulate it to a hard task, namely making a critique of reason itself. I term this Idea ‘cosmological’ because it never takes its object from anywhere but the world of the senses, having no use for anything that is not given to the senses. So in that way it stays at home, does not become transcendent, and is to that extent not a mere Idea. (Whereas ·the psychological Ideas do not in that sense ‘stay at home’, because· merely conceiving the soul as a simple substance involves conceiving something - the simple - that cannot be presented to the senses.) Despite that, the cosmological Idea ·does in its own way go outside the domain of the senses, because it· extends the connection of the conditioned with its condition so far that experience never can keep up with it. In this way, then, it is always an Idea, whose object can never be adequately given in any experience. Section 51 Note first that in this territory ·of the cosmological Ideas· the usefulness of a system of categories is so obvious and unmistakable that this alone would show that it is indispensable in the system of pure reason, even if there weren’t several other proofs of it. There are exactly four such transcendent Ideas, and exactly four classes of categories; but ·the Ideas differ from the categories in that· they are concerned only with the absolute completeness of the series of the conditions for a given conditioned item. Matching these cosmological Ideas there are exactly four kinds of dialectical assertions of pure reason. Their being dialectical shows in this: Against each of these assertions we can bring its contradictory, on the strength of principles of pure reason that are as plausible as those supporting the original assertion. No subtle exercise of the metaphysical art can guard us against this conflict ·between the assertion and its contradictory· except the one that compels the philosopher to look into the first sources of pure reason itself. This Antinomy - ·that is, this systematic conflict between dia...
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