Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

The idealism that he stumbled on in the critique and

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Unformatted text preview: y well alter the name totally. So I may be permitted in future to call it ‘formal idealism’ (·as I did late in section 49·) or, better, ‘critical idealism’, to distinguish it from the dogmatic idealism of Berkeley and the sceptical idealism of Descartes. I find nothing else worthy of comment in this review of my book. All the way through the reviewer presents blanket judgments - a smart procedure for a reviewer to use, because it doesn’t reveal the state of his knowledge or ignorance; ·whereas· a single criticism that was thorough and detailed, if it concerned the main issue (as it ought to), might have exposed error in my work, and might also have revealed the reviewer’s level of skill in this sort of enquiry. Another well-conceived device for removing early on the readers’ desire to read the book itself - readers who usually form their conceptions of books merely from newspaper articles - is Ÿto pour out all in one breath a number of -----------------------------------20 Genuine idealism always has a visionary purpose; it is bound to. But my idealism is designed solely for grasping the possibility of our a priori knowledge of objects of experience - a problem that has never been solved before, and never even been posed. In this way all visionary idealism collapses. As was already to be seen in Plato, visionary idealism inferred from our ·having· a priori knowledge (even that of geometry) ·that there is· another intuition different from that of the senses, namely an intellectual intuition. It never occurred to any of them that the senses themselves might intuit a priori ·as I say they do, for example in geometry·. 83 propositions, torn out of the context of their grounds of proof and explanations, which are bound to strike the reader as nonsensical (especially considering that they are poles apart from all ·ordinary· school-metaphysics), Ÿto make the reader disgusted with the demands on his patience ad nauseam, and then, after presenting ·and attributing to me· the brilliant proposition that constant illusion is truth (which was news to me!), Ÿto conclude with the firm, fatherly rebuke: ‘What is the point, then, of this quarrel with accepted language, what is the point - and what is the source - of the idealistic distinction?’ After a first judgment that all that is special in my book is metaphysically heretical, now at the end it is said to be a mere change of language; which clearly proves that my would-be judge hasn’t the slightest grasp of it, and hasn’t even understood himself.21 Reviewer speaks like a man who must be aware of having important and excellent insights - but ones that he keeps hidden, for I don’t know of anything recent relating to metaphysics that would justify his tone. It is wrong for him to withhold his discoveries from the world, for there are doubtless many others like me who have not been able to find, in all the fine things that have been written in this branch of philosophy, anything that has advanced the science ·of metaphysics· by so much as a finger-breadth. What we do find is Ÿdefinitions sharpened, Ÿlame proofs fitted out with new crutches, Ÿthe crazy-quilt of metaphysics supplied with new patches or with a change of pattern; but none of this is what the world requires! The world has had enough of metaphysical assertions; what is wanted is ·to establish· Ÿthe possibility of this science, Ÿthe sources from which certainty could be derived in it, and Ÿsure criteria by which to distinguish the dialectical illusion of pure reason from truth. The reviewer must have the key to all this; otherwise he would never have spoken in such a high tone. But ·joking aside· I am inclined to suspect that no such requirement for the science ·of metaphysics· has ever entered his head. If it had, he would have focussed on this matter in his review, and ·if he thought I had been wrong about it· even a failed attempt in such an important affair would have won his respect. If that is how things stand, we are good friends again. He can think his way as deeply as he likes into his metaphysics; no-one will stop him; but he can’t make judgments about the source of metaphysics in reason, for that lies outside metaphysics. ·That’s if the requirements for a science of metaphysics had entered his head·. But my suspicion ·that they didn’t· is not unfounded, as is shown by the fact that he doesn’t say a word about Ÿthe possibility of synthetic knowledge a priori, though this was Ÿthe real problem on the solution of which the fate of metaphysics wholly rests, and to which my Critique (along with the present Preliminaries) was entirely directed. The idealism that he stumbled on ·in the Critique·, and was pinned down by, was incorporated in the system only because it was the sole means for solving Ÿthe above problem (though it was later confirmed on other grounds); so ·if he had understood what was going on· he would have to have shown either that the problem is not as important as I make it out to be in the Critique (and again now in these Preliminaries), or that my appearance concept doesn’t solve it all or provides a solution that is inferior to so...
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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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