Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

In this paragraph kant refers to the aesthetic that

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Unformatted text preview: out any theoretical grounding in the subject) may claim that the prophetic spirit of his sound reason enabled him, long ago, not merely to suspect but to know and understand the doctrine I have been advancing with so much ado (or, as he may prefer to say, with long-winded pomp), namely that with all our reason we can never reach beyond the field of experience. But when he is questioned about his principles of reason individually, he must admit that many of them have not been taken from experience and are therefore independent of it and valid a priori. But then what basis will he have for putting limits on the dogmatist who uses these concepts and principles beyond all possible experience because he sees them to be independent of it? And even he, this expert in sound reason, in spite of all his assumed and cheaply acquired wisdom, risks wandering inadvertently beyond objects of experience into the domain of fantasies. He is often deeply enough involved in it, though he colours his groundless claims by adopting popular language and announcing everything as ‘mere probability’, ‘rational conjecture’, or ‘analogy’. Section 32 Since the earliest times of philosophy, enquirers into pure reason have thought that in addition to the things of the senses, or appearances (phenomena) of the world of the senses, there are things of the understanding (noumena), and have thought that only the latter are real. That is because they took the former - that is, appearances - to be illusory; a mistake, but an excusable one in a primitive age. In fact, when we (rightly) regard the objects of the senses as mere appearances, we thereby admit that they have a thing in itself as their ground - ·namely, the thing of which 40 they are appearances·. We do not know what this thing is like in itself; all we know is its appearance, i.e. how this unknown something affects our senses. In accepting appearances, therefore, we also admit the existence of things in themselves: the thought of such ·noumena, that is·, ‘things of the understanding’, is not merely allowed but is unavoidable. [In this paragraph, Kant refers to the Aesthetic. That is the first part of the Critique of Pure Reason, concerning the status of time and space and their relation to sensibility.] My critical deduction limits the principles of the Aesthetic so that they hold good only for objects of possible experience, because extending them to all things would be turning everything into mere appearance; my deduction doesn’t at all imply that there are no noumena. So these beings of the understanding are allowed, subject to this rule, to which there can be no exceptions: We do not and cannot know anything determinate about these beings of the understanding. That is because our pure concepts of the understanding and our pure intuitions bear on objects of possible experience - that is, things of the senses and on nothing else. As soon as we move away from the senses, those concepts are drained of all their meaning. Section 33 Indeed, there’s something seductive in our pure concepts of the understanding, which tempts us to use them in a transcendent manner - that being my label for a use that goes beyond all possible experience [not = ‘transcendental’]. Our concepts of substance, of power, of action, of reality, and others are quite independent of experience, containing nothing of sensory appearance, and so they seem to be applicable to things in themselves (noumena). And this impression is strengthened by the fact that those concepts contain within themselves an element of necessity which experience never matches up to. The concept of cause implies a rule according to which one state follows another necessarily; but experience can only show us that one state of affairs often or usually follows another, so it cannot provide us with either strict universality or necessity. So the concepts of the understanding seem to have content and significance that spreads beyond their empirical use, and the understanding unknowingly builds for itself a much larger addition to the house of experience, and fills it with merely notional entities, without once noticing that ·in doing this· it has carried its otherwise lawful concepts beyond the bounds of their ·legitimate· use. Section 34 Because of all this, the Critique of Pure Reason had to contain two important though extremely dry investigations. In one of them, contained in the chapter entitled ‘The Schematism of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding’, I show that what the senses provide for are not Ÿconcrete applications of the pure concepts of the understanding, but only the Ÿ schema for their use, and that the corresponding object occurs only in experience (as something the understanding makes out of the materials of the senses). In the second indispensable chapter, ‘On the Grounds of the Distinction of all Objects as Phenomena and Noumena’, I show that, although our pure concepts and principles of the understan...
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