Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

This is self contradictory and consequently so is

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Unformatted text preview: alse. When I speak of objects in time and in space, I am speaking not about Ÿthings in themselves (of which I know nothing), but about Ÿthings in appearance, that is, about experience as a particular way of knowing objects - the only way of knowing them that has been granted to mankind. When I think of something as being in time or in space, I must not say ·or think·: In itself it exists in space and in time, independently of these thoughts of mine; for if I did I would be contradicting myself. That is because space and time, together with appearances in them, are nothing existing in themselves and outside my representations, but are themselves only modes of representation [= ‘ways of being represented-to’], and it is plainly contradictory to say that a mere mode of representation exists outside our representation. So objects of the senses exist only in experience; and to attribute to them a self-subsisting existence Ÿapart from experience or Ÿin advance of it amounts to telling ourselves that experience is real apart from experience or in advance of it! Now if I ask about the extent of the world in space and in time, my complete stock of concepts doesn’t enable me to call it infinite or to call it finite. For neither state of affairs can be contained in experience: there cannot be experience of an infinite space, or of an infinite time elapsed; or of the world’s being bounded by empty space or by empty time before the world began - all these are mere Ideas. This finite or infinite size of the world, not being cashable out in terms of experience·, would therefore have to belong to the world itself apart from all experience. But this contradicts the notion of Ÿa world of the senses, which is merely a totality of appearances that exist and are inter-connected only in our representation, that is, in experience, since Ÿthis world is not an object in itself but a mere mode of representation. From this it follows that the answer ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Is the world finite in space or in time?’ is false, and so is the answer ‘No’; because the concept of a world of the senses existing for itself and in itself is self-contradictory, The same holds good for the second antinomy, concerning the division of appearances. For these appearances are mere representations, and their parts exist only in the representation, and consequently exist only in the dividing, that is, in a possible experience that presents them; and the dividing can go only as far as this experience goes. presupposition on which it is based, you will feel yourself obliged to join me in inquiring more deeply into the ultimate basis of all knowledge of pure reason. 59 If you assume that an appearance, such as that of a body, contains - in itself, in advance of all experience - all the parts that any possible experience can ever reach, what you are doing amounts to this: Attributing to a mere appearance, which can exist only in experience, an existence preceding experience; or saying that mere representations are there before we encounter them through our faculty of representation. This is self-contradictory, and consequently so is each answer to the misconceived question ·about divisibility·, whether we answer that bodies in themselves consist of infinitely many parts, or that they have a finite number of simple parts. Section 53 In the first (the mathematical) class of antinomies the falsehood of the assumed proposition consisted in Ÿtaking contradictory items (appearance, thing in itself) to be harmoniously compatible within a single concept. In this second (dynamic) group, on the other hand, the falsehood of the assumed proposition consists in Ÿtaking a consistent pair of propositions to be mutually contradictory. Thus, in the first class of antinomies the opposed assertions Ÿwere both false, while in the second class the two propositions which are treated as opposed to one another through mere misunderstanding - Ÿmay both be true. Connecting items mathematically through the concept of ·spatial or temporal· size requires that the connected items be of the same kind; but dynamic connections by no means require that kind of homogeneity. When it comes to extended magnitudes - ·that is, stretches of space or of time· - all the parts must be homogeneous with one another and with the whole; but in the connection of cause and effect, although Ÿhomogeneity may be found there too, it isn’t necessary. Or at any rate the concept of causality doesn’t require it, because cause-effect has to do with positing something through something else Ÿquite different from it. If the objects of the world of the senses were taken for things in themselves, and the laws of nature discussed above were taken to be laws of things in themselves, contradiction would be unavoidable. Similarly, if the subject of freedom were taken to be a mere appearance, like other objects, contradiction would be equally unavoidable, for the same predicate taken in the same sense would be at once affirmed and denied of one and the same object. But if natural necessity is tied only to appearances, and freedom only to things in themselves, there is no contradiction in assuming or allowing both kinds of causality at once, however hard...
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