Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

Rather it is a middle way that can be delineated

Info iconThis preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: use we can suppose its relation to the world to be similar to that which things in the world have to one another. But the relational concept in this case is a mere category, namely the concept of cause, having nothing to do with sensibility. 71 the Supreme Being has reason, we are speaking analogically, expressing only the relation that the unknown supreme cause has to the world, and we do this so as to see everything in the world as being in the highest degree reasonable. This procedure doesn’t involve us in treating reason as an attribute through which we can conceive God; what we do, rather, is to conceive the world in the way that is needed if we are to tackle it with the greatest possible principled use of reason. In this way we admit that the Supreme Being in itself is quite inscrutable and is not even conceivable in any determinate way, and that keeps us from ·two errors that we might otherwise make. Roughly and briefly, they are the errors of trying to Ÿexplain God in terms of the world, and trying to Ÿexplain the world in terms of God. A little more fully, Ÿone of the errors is that of· making a transcendent use of the concept we have of reason as an efficient cause (by means of the will), trying to determine the nature of God in terms of properties that are only borrowings from human nature - thereby losing ourselves in gross and extravagant notions; and ·the other error consists in· allowing our contemplation of the world to be flooded with supernatural patterns of explanation, led by the transfer to God of our notions of human reason - thereby deflecting this contemplation from its proper role, which to study mere nature through ·human· reason, not rashly to derive nature’s appearances from a supreme reason. The best way to put it, given our weak concepts, is this: we should conceive the world AS IF its existence and its inner nature came from a supreme reason. In thinking of it in this way, we achieve two things. ŸWe recognize what the world itself is like, without wanting to determine what its cause is like in itself. And Ÿwe see the ground of what the world is like (the ground of the world’s rational form) in the relation of the supreme cause to the world, not finding the world sufficient by itself for that purpose.17 Returning now to what Philo granted to Cleanthes:- We are perfectly free to predicate of this original being a causality through reason in respect of the world, thus moving on to theism; and this doesn’t oblige us to attribute this kind of ·causally powerful· reason to the original being itself, as a property attached to it. Thus the difficulties that seem to stand in the way of theism disappear. We achieve this by joining to Hume’s principle: Do not push the use of reason dogmatically beyond the field of all possible experience this other principle, which he quite overlooked: Do not consider the domain of experience as something which in the eyes of our reason sets its own boundaries. The critique of reason here indicates the true middle way between Ÿthe dogmatism against which Hume fought and Ÿthe scepticism that he wanted to introduce to oppose it. It is not -----------------------------------17 I shall say: the causality of the highest cause relates to the world in the same way that human reason relates to its artifacts. That leaves the nature of the supreme cause itself still unknown to me: I only compare Ÿits effect (the order of the world) which I know, and the conformity of this to reason, with Ÿthe effects of human reason, which I also know; and hence I term the supreme cause ‘reason’, without thereby attributing to it what I understand by ‘reason’ as applied to man, or assigning to it any property of anything else that I know. 72 the usual kind of ‘middle way’, which one is advised to pick out for oneself as it were mechanically (a little of the one, a little of the other), making nobody any the wiser. Rather, it is a middle way that can be delineated exactly, according to principles. Section 59 At the beginning of this note [section 57] I used the metaphor of a boundary in order to fix the limits on the proper use of reason. The world of the senses contains mere appearances, which are not things in themselves; but the understanding must assume things in themselves (noumena), because it recognizes the objects of experience as appearances ·and understands that they must be appearances of something·. Our reason covers both Ÿappearances and Ÿthings in themselves, and the question arises: How does reason go about setting boundaries to the understanding with respect to both these domains? Experience, which contains all that belongs to the world of the senses, doesn’t set bounds for itself; it proceeds in every case from some conditioned item to some other ·item that is its condition, and is also a· conditioned object; ·and nothing in this procedure requires it ever to come to a halt·. The boundary of experience must lie Ÿwholly outside it, and that is Ÿthe domain of pure bei...
View Full Document

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.

Ask a homework question - tutors are online