Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic

Thus practical freedom the freedom in which reason

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Unformatted text preview: is a property of a thing in itself. We can’t at all grasp how it is possible - that is, how the ought, which is not ·an event, not· something that has happened, can determine the man’s activity, becoming the cause of actions ·which are things that happen, and· whose effect is an appearance in the world of the senses. Still, ·although we don’t grasp how this can be·, if reason did relate in this ‘influencing’ way to a person’s decisions, that would bring freedom into what happens in the world of the senses to the extent that we can see those happenings as influenced by objective grounds (which are themselves Ideas). For reason’s effectiveness as a cause wouldn’t depend on subjective conditions - ·that is, on facts about the person’s prior state of mind· - and therefore wouldn’t depend on events in time or on the law of nature that controls such events. That is because the grounds of reason - ·the basic ‘ought’ thoughts· - govern actions in a universal way, according to ·universal· principles, without influence from the circumstances of either time or place. What I am presenting here is meant merely as an example to make things intelligible. It does not necessarily belong to our problem - ·that is, the question How is metaphysics in general possible?· - which must be decided from mere concepts, independently of the properties that we meet in the actual world. Now I can say without contradiction that Ÿall the actions of rational beings, so far as they are appearances, fall under Ÿthe necessity of nature; but Ÿthose same actions, considered purely in terms of the rational subject and its ability to act according to mere reason, are Ÿfree. For what is required for the necessity of nature? Only that every event in the world of the senses come about in accordance with constant laws, thus being related to causes in the domain of appearance; and in this process the underlying thing in itself remains out of sight, as does its causality. But I maintain this: The law of nature still holds, whether or not the rational being causes effects in the world of the senses through reason and thus through freedom. If it does, the action is performed according to maxims whose effects in the realm of appearance are always consistent with constant laws; if on the other hand it doesn’t, the action is ·not merely consistent with but· subject to the empirical laws of the sensibility, and in this case as in the other the effects hang together according to constant laws. This conformity to laws is all we demand for natural necessity; indeed, it exhausts all that we know about natural necessity. But in Ÿthe former case ·where the action is caused by reason·, reason is the cause of these laws of nature ·rather than being subject to them·, and therefore it is itself free; in Ÿthe latter case, where the effects follow according to mere natural laws of sensibility with reason having no input, it doesn’t follow that reason is in this case determined by the sensibility, which indeed it couldn’t be, so reason is free in this case too. Freedom, therefore, doesn’t get in the way of natural law in the domain of 62 appearance, any more than natural law brings about a breakdown in the freedom of the practical use of reason, which relates to things in themselves as determining grounds. Thus practical freedom - the freedom in which reason has causal force according to objectively determining grounds - is rescued, without doing the slightest harm to natural necessity in relation to the very same effects, as appearances. These remarks will serve to explain what I said earlier about transcendental freedom and its compatibility with natural necessity (with a single subject taken in two different ways). For whenever a being acts from objective causes regarded as determining grounds ·of reason·, the start of its action is a first beginning, although the same action is in the series of appearances only a subordinate beginning, which must be preceded and determined by a state of the cause, which in turn is determined by another immediately preceding it ·and so on backwards·. In this way we can have the thought, for Ÿrational beings and quite generally for Ÿany being whose causality is determined in them as things in themselves, of a being’s ability to begin a series of states from within itself, without falling into conflict with the laws of nature. For the relation the action has to objective grounds of reason is not a temporal one; in this case what determines the causality does not precede the action in time, because determining grounds such as reason provides don’t involve Ÿobjects of sense such as causes in the domain of appearance, but rather Ÿdetermining causes as things in themselves, which do not exist in time. And so the action can without inconsistency be seen Ÿ(with regard to the causality of reason) as a first beginning and as free, and Ÿ(with regard to the series of appearances) as a merely subordinate beginning and as subject to natural necessity. The fourth Antinomy is solved in the same way as is reason’s conflict wi...
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