Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

So we can be certain that there are no more

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Unformatted text preview: xists must involve it. Secondly, when appearances involve events following one another in time, they must be brought under the concept of cause and effect. Thirdly, judgments of experience about things that exist together must involve the concept of community (which is really the concept of causal influence running in both directions). Thus a priori principles are involved in objectively valid though empirical judgments; they are needed if we are to have real experience, which connects objects in nature. These principles are the real laws of nature, and can be called dynamic. Finally, judgments of experience include ·ones expressing· knowledge o f correspondences and connections; but their topic is not how appearances relate to one another in experience, but rather how they relate to experience in general. This has to do with Ÿwhether they satisfy the formal conditions that the understanding recognizes, or with Ÿwhether they fit with the materials of the senses and of perception, or it Ÿbrings both considerations together under a single concept. So it has to do with Ÿ possibility, Ÿactuality, and Ÿnecessity according to universal laws of nature. Section 26 My third table ·in section 21· - the table of Principles that the critical method has extracted from the nature of the understanding itself - has a completeness that raises it far above every other table that anyone ever did or ever will offer in a vain attempt to extract principles by non-critical methods from things themselves. What makes my table complete is this: so far as the understanding is concerned, the essence of experience lies in the judgments that can be made about it, and I have used ·properties of· the faculty of judgment as a single guiding rationale for what is included in my table of principles, namely all the synthetic a priori principles. So we can be certain that there are no more principles of that sort, and that certainty affords a satisfaction that the dogmatic method can never achieve. [Kant’s use of ‘dogmatic’ is explained near the start of section 3.] Yet is this not all: my table of principles has another much greater merit ·that I shall now explain·. We must carefully bear in mind the premise Ÿthat enables us to infer that there can be a priori knowledge ·such as the table of principles involves·, and Ÿthat at the same time subjects all such principles to the constraint that they are only about the conditions of possible experience in general so far as it conforms to laws a priori. If we lose sight of this constraint, we risk the principles’ being misunderstood, and their being extended in use beyond the original sense that the understanding attaches to them. So I do not say that things in themselves have a quantity, that their actuality has a degree, that their existence has a connection of qualities in a substance, or the like. Nobody could prove any of those propositions because they are synthetic ·connecting things with quantity, actuality with degree, and so on· - and it is utterly impossible to prove such synthetic propositions on the basis of mere concepts, ·because what is proved from mere concepts is always analytic·. The above propositions have only concepts to work with, because they purport to be about things in themselves; that prevents them from referring to how sensory intuitions are inter-connected in a possible 36 experience, which is the basis on which synthetic propositions can be proved a priori. So the essential constraint on the concepts used in these principles is: that it is only as objects of experience that things necessarily a priori satisfy the conditions laid down in the principles. From this it also follows that the proof of these principles has a unique feature: namely that they are not directly concerned with appearances and their ·inter·-relations, but with the possibility of experience. Appearances ·on their own are not the whole story; they· constitute only the matter of experience, not its form. That is, the principles I’m talking about are concerned with objectively and universally valid synthetic propositions, in ·the context of· which we distinguish judgments of experience from judgments of perception. ·I shall add a little detail about how this happens - how the principles are proved - in connection with three of the four groups of principles listed at the end of section 21 above·. Ÿ·Re the Axioms of Intuition·: Appearances, as mere intuitions occupying a part of space and time, come under the concept of quantity, which can be used in a rule-guided way in synthetic a priori propositions which generalize over these intuitions. Ÿ·Re the Anticipations of Perception’·: Insofar as a perception contains not only intuition but sensation (which always differs from its own total absence by ever-smaller differences), the reality of appearances must have a degree. Now, sensation does not itself occupy any part of space or of time, 5 but it takes time to get from empty space or time to ·something involving· sensation. Thus, although sensation (taken as that quality o...
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