Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

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Unformatted text preview: re of my critique as justified (though none of this will happen!). But for this it would be necessary, it seems to me, that he should drop his anonymity. Otherwise I don’t see how I could avoid, instead of having just one problem to deal with, being honoured or assailed by many problems from anonymous and indeed uninvited opponents. Proposal for an investigation of the Critique, on which a judgment can follow I am obliged to the learned public for the silence with which it has for a long time honoured my Critique; for this shows Ÿa postponement of judgment, and thus Ÿsome supposition that a work that leaves all the beaten paths and strikes out on a new and initially difficult one may contain something through which an important but currently withered branch of human knowledge might derive new life and fruitfulness; and thus it also shows Ÿa concern not to break off and destroy the still delicate graft through a hasty judgment. A specimen of a judgment that was delayed for the above reasons is now before my eyes in the Gotha Scholarly News. Setting aside my own (suspect) praise for this review, any reader can see for himself that it is a solid piece of work; this can be seen from its graspable and accurate presentation of a portion of the basic principles of my work. Because an extensive structure can’t be judged as a whole from a hurried glance, I propose that it [the system of Critique of Pure Reason] be tested piece by piece from its foundations, and that the present Preliminaries be used as a general outline with which the work itself could then sometimes be compared. If this suggestion were based only on the imagined importance that vanity usually attributes to one’s own output, it would be immodest and would deserve to be indignantly rejected. But ·that is not how things stand; something very serious is at stake·; the affairs of speculative philosophy are now on the brink of total extinction, although human reason hangs onto them with undying affection, an affection that is now trying (and failing) to change into indifference because it has been constantly disappointed. In our thinking age one might expect that many deserving men would use any good opportunity to work together for the common interest of an ever more enlightened reason, 86 if only there were some hope that in this way they would reach their goal. Mathematics, natural science, law, arts, even morals etc., do not completely fill the soul; there is always a space staked out for pure, speculative reason. The emptiness of this space prompts us to resort to grotesque masks and worthless glitter, or to mysticism, ostensibly in search of employment and entertainment though really we are just distracting ourselves so as to drown out the burdensome voice of reason, which, true to its own nature, demands something that can satisfy it, and not merely something that started up so as to serve other ends or to satisfy our inclinations. So a study that is concentrated on Ÿthis territory of reason existing for itself must (or so I have reason to hope) have a great attraction for anyone who has tried in this way to stretch his thought, because it is just precisely Ÿhere that all other kinds of knowledge - all other goals, even - must come together and unite into a whole. I would venture to say that the attraction is greater than any other theoretical knowledge has; one would not lightly trade in this one for any of them - ·e.g. forgoing metaphysics in order to take up chemistry·. However, for this investigation I am not offering the work itself, but rather these Preliminaries as plan and guide. Although I am even now well satisfied with the Critique as far as concerns its content, order, and manner of presentation, and with how carefully I weighed and tested every sentence before writing it down (for it has taken me years to be completely satisfied not only over-all but ·also in detail·, sometimes labouring to become satisfied with the sources of one particular proposition), I am nevertheless not completely satisfied with my exposition in some chapters of the Doctrine of Elements - for example on the Deduction of the Concepts of the Understanding, or on the Paralogisms of Pure Reason - because a certain long-windedness takes away from their clarity; and your examinatio...
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