Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

So my critique which makes that ascent must either be

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Unformatted text preview: me other. But I don’t find a word of -----------------------------------21 [Kant has a footnote here, protesting at two of the reviewer’s misunderstandings.] 84 this in the review. So the reviewer understood nothing of what I wrote, and perhaps also nothing of the spirit and nature of metaphysics itself; unless (and I would rather think this) a reviewer’s haste, and annoyance at the difficulty of working through so many obstacles, threw an unfavourable shadow over the work lying before him, hiding from him its fundamental features. In the field of metaphysics as elsewhere, there is a good deal to be done before a learned journal - however carefully recruited and well-chosen its contributors are - can maintain its otherwise well-deserved reputation. Other sciences and branches of knowledge have their standards. Mathematics has its standard within itself; history and theology have it in secular or sacred books; natural science and medicine have it in mathematics and experience; jurisprudence has it in law books; and even matters of taste have standards in the examples of the ancients. But for judging the thing called metaphysics the standard has yet to be found (I have made an attempt to settle what it is and how it should be used). Until it is worked out, what is to be done when works of this kind have to be judged? If the works are of the dogmatic kind, do what you like with them; when someone plays the master over others ·in this game·, it won’t be long before he runs into someone else who pays him back in kind. But if the writings are of the critical sort - offering a critique not of other writings but of reason itself - then the standard of judgment can’t be Ÿtaken for granted but must first be Ÿsought for. When such writings are in question, it may still be all right to offer objections and blame; but underlying them should be an attitude of co-operation, because the need ·for standards, and for metaphysics to become a science· is common to us all, and the lack of the needed insight makes it inappropriate for anyone to come across as a judge handing down verdicts. But so as to connect this defence ·of my work· with the interests of the philosophizing public, I propose a test that will settle the question of how metaphysical enquiries should be directed towards their common end. It is just what mathematicians have done to show by competition which methods are best: I challenge my reviewer critic to prove in his way any one really metaphysical principle that he accepts. Being metaphysical it must be synthetic and known a priori from concepts. It Ÿcould be one of the most indispensable principles, as for instance the principle of the persistence of substance, or of the necessary determination of events in the world by their causes; but it Ÿmust (this is a fair demand) be proved on a priori grounds. If he can’t do this (and silence is confession), he must admit that as metaphysics is nothing at all without the absolute certainty of propositions of this kind, ·and as he can’t prove any of them in his dogmatic manner·, the first thing that is needed - before anything else is done - is to establish the possibility or impossibility of metaphysics, in a critique of pure reason. So he is obliged either to admit that my principles of criticism are correct, or to prove that they are not. I can already foresee that, although he has been carefree in his reliance on the certainty of his principles, when it comes to a strict test he won’t find a single one in the whole range of metaphysics that he can boldly bring forward. So I shall grant him the most favourable terms that can ever be expected in such a competition, namely: I shall take the onus of proof from him and lay it on myself. 85 He finds in these Preliminaries [section 51] and in my Critique (B 454-89, the Antinomies chapter) eight propositions, in pairs whose members contradict each other, but each of which necessarily belongs to metaphysics, which must either accept or disprove it (although each has in its day been accepted by some philosopher). Now the reviewer is at liberty to select Ÿany one he likes out of these eight propositions, and to accept it without any proof (that’s a gift from me), but Ÿonly one (for waste of time won’t do either of us any good); and then to attack my proof of the contrary proposition. If I can rescue the latter, thereby showing that the opposite of the proposition he chose can be just as clearly proved in accordance with principles that every dogmatic metaphysics must necessarily recognize, then this will settle that metaphysics has a hereditary fault that can’t be explained - let alone removed - until we ascend to the birth-place of metaphysics, pure reason itself. So my critique - ·which makes that ascent· - must either be accepted or replaced by a better one; it must at least be studied, which is all I am demanding now. If on the other hand I can’t save my proof, then Ÿa synthetic proposition a priori from dogmatic principles is firmly entrenched on my opponent’s side, Ÿmy impeachment of ordinary metaphysics is ·revealed as· unfair, and ŸI pledge myself to recognize his censu...
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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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