Mar 20, 2013
By Marsigit, Yogyakarta State University, Indonesia
Kant in “THE CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON” translated by J. M. D. Meiklejohn, formulated that the whole system of metaphysics consists of four principal parts: 1. Ontology; 2. Rational Physiology; 3. Rational cosmology; and 4. Rational theology. The second part- that of the rational doctrine of nature- may be subdivided into two, physica rationalis and psychologia rationalis. In his “CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON” Chapter III Of the Ground of the Division of all Objects into Phenomena and Noumena, Kant elaborated that the principles of the pure understanding, whether constitutive a priori as in the mathematical principles, or merely regulative as in the dynamical, contain nothing but the pure schema, as it were, of possible experience. He said that for experience possesses its unity from the synthetical unity which the understanding, originally and from itself, imparts to the synthesis of the imagination in relation to apperception, and in a priori relation to and agreement with which phenomena, as data for a possible cognition, must stand.
The Source of the Ideas of Pure Reason and of Absolute Metaphysical Judgments
Kant claimed that the rules of the understanding are not only a priori true, but the very source of all truth, that is, of the accordance of our cognition with objects, and on this ground, that they contain the basis of the possibility of experience, as the ensemble of all cognition, it seems to us not enough to propound what is true- we desire also to be told what we want to know. He said that if, then, we learn nothing more by this critical examination than what we should have practiced in the merely empirical use of the understanding, without any such subtle inquiry, the presumption is that the advantage we reap from it is not worth the labor bestowed upon it. He claimed that a transcendental use is made of a conception in a fundamental proposition or principle, when it is referred to things in general and considered as things in themselves; an empirical use, when it is referred merely to phenomena, that is, to objects of a possible experience; and that the latter use of a conception is the only admissible one is evident from the reasons following.
Kant insisted that for every conception are requisite, firstly, the logical form of a conception general; and, secondly, the possibility of presenting to this an object to which it may apply. Failing this latter, it has no sense, and utterly void of content, although it may contain the logical function for constructing a conception from certain data According to Kant, object cannot be given to a conception otherwise than by intuition, and, even if a pure intuition antecedent to the object is a priori possible, this pure intuition can itself obtain objective validity only from empirical intuition, of which it is itself but the form; all conceptions, therefore, and with them all principles, however high the degree of their a priori possibility, relate to empirical intuitions, that is, to data towards a possible experience. Without this they possess no objective validity, but are mere play of imagination or of understanding with images or notions. He, further explained that the conception of quantity cannot be explained except by saying that it is the determination of a thing whereby it can be cogitated how many times one is placed in it; and it based upon successive repetition, consequently upon time and the synthesis of the homogeneous therein. Kant asserted that reality, in contradistinction to negation, can be explained only by cogitating a time which is either filled therewith or is void; he said that as regards the category of community, it may easily be inferred that, as the pure categories of substance and causality are incapable of a definition and explanation sufficient to determine their object without the aid of intuition, the category of reciprocal causality in the relation of substances to each other is just as little susceptible thereof.
Kant stressed that the pure conceptions of the understanding are incapable of transcendental, and must always be of empirical use alone, and that the principles of the pure understanding relate only to the general conditions of a possible experience, to objects of the senses, and never to things in general, apart from the mode in which we intuit them. According to Kant, transcendental analytic has accordingly this important result, to wit, that the understanding is competent' effect nothing a priori, except the anticipation of the form of a possible experience in general, and that, as that which is not phenomenon cannot be an object of experience, it can never overstep the limits of sensibility, within which alone objects are presented to us. Kant claimed that its principles are merely principles of the exposition of phenomena, and the proud name of an ontology, which professes to present synthetical cognitions a priori of things in general in a systematic doctrine, must give place to the modest title of analytic of the pure understanding. Kant concluded that thought is the act of referring a given intuition to an object; if the mode of this intuition is unknown to us, the object is merely transcendental, and the conception of the understanding is employed only transcendentally, that is, to produce unity in the thought of a manifold in general.
Kant maintained that a pure category, in which all conditions of sensuous intuition- as the only intuition we possess- are abstracted, does not determine an object, but merely expresses the thought of an object in general, according to different modes. According to Kant, to employ a conception, the function of judgment is required, by which an object is subsumed under the conception, consequently the at least formal condition, under which something can be given in intuition; failing this condition of judgment, subsumption is impossible; for there is in such a case nothing given, which may be subsumed under the conception. Kant resumed that the merely transcendental use of the categories is therefore, in fact, no use at all and has no determined, or even, as regards its form, determinable object; hence it follows that the pure category is incompetent to establish a synthetical a priori principle, and that the principles of the pure understanding are only of empirical and never of transcendental use, and that beyond the sphere of possible experience no synthetical a priori principles are possible.
The Illusions of Speculative Psychology
In the Paralogisms, Kant argues that a failure to recognize the difference between appearances and things in themselves, particularly in the case of the introspected self, lead us into transcendent error. Kant argues against several conclusions encouraged by Descartes and the rational psychologists, who believed they could build human knowledge from the "I think" of the cogito argument. From the "I think" of self-awareness we can infer, they maintain, that the self or soul is 1) simple, 2) immaterial, 3) an identical substance and 4) that we perceive it directly, in contrast to external objects whose existence is merely possible. That is, the rational psychologists claimed to have knowledge of the self as transcendentally real.
Kant believes that it is impossible to demonstrate any of those above four claims, and that the mistaken claims to knowledge stem from a failure to see the real nature of our apprehension of the "I.". According to him, reason cannot fail to apply the categories to its judgments of the self, and that application gives rise to these four conclusions about the self that correspond roughly to the four headings in the table of categories; however to take the self as an object of knowledge here is to pretend to have knowledge of the self as it is in itself, not as it appears to us. Kant said that our representation of the "I" itself is empty; it is subject to the condition of inner sense, time, but not the condition of outer sense, space, so it cannot be a proper object of knowledge. He claimed that it can be thought through concepts, but without the commensurate spatial and temporal intuitions, it cannot be known; each of the four paralogisms explains the categorical structure of reason that led the rational psychologists to mistake the self as it appears to us for the self as it is in itself.
In THE CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON Chapter IV Of the Division of Transcendental Logic into Transcendental Analytic and Dialectic, SS 20 Of the Application of the Categories to Objects of the Senses in general, Kant elaborated that the pure conceptions of the understanding apply to objects of intuition in general, through the understanding alone, whether the intuition be our own or some other, provided only it be sensuous, but are, for this very reason, mere forms of thought, by means of which alone no determined object can be cognized. Kant said that the synthesis or conjunction of the manifold in these conceptions relates, we have said, only to the unity of apperception, and is for this reason the ground of the possibility of a priori cognition, in so far as this cognition is dependent on the understanding; this synthesis is, therefore, not merely transcendental, but also purely intellectual; but because a certain form of sensuous intuition exists in the mind a priori which rests on the receptivity of the representative faculty, the understanding, as a spontaneity, is able to determine the internal sense by means of the diversity of given representations, conformably to the synthetical unity of apperception, and thus to cogitate the synthetical unity of the apperception of the manifold of sensuous intuition a priori, as the condition to which must necessarily be submitted all objects of human intuition.
Kant insisted that the synthesis of the manifold of sensuous intuition, which is possible and necessary a priori, may be called figurative, in contradistinction to that which is cogitated in the mere category in regard to the manifold of an intuition in general, and is called connection or conjunction of the understanding; both are transcendental, not merely because they themselves precede a priori all experience, but also because they form the basis for the possibility of other cognition a priori. He said that imagination is the faculty of representing an object even without its presence in intuition; and as all our intuition is sensuous, imagination belongs to sensibility. But, he noted that in so far as the synthesis of the imagination is an act of spontaneity which is able to determine sense a priori; and its synthesis of intuitions must be the transcendental synthesis of the imagination. He claimed that in so far as imagination is spontaneity, he sometimes call it also the productive imagination, and distinguish it from the reproductive, the synthesis of which is subject entirely to empirical laws, those of association, namely, and which, therefore, contributes nothing to the explanation of the possibility of a priori cognition, and for this reason belongs not to transcendental philosophy, but to psychology.
Kant insisted that transcendental ideas arrange themselves in three classes, the first of which contains the absolute unity of the thinking subject, the second the absolute unity of the series of the conditions of a phenomenon, the third the absolute unity of the condition of all objects of thought in general. Kant said that the thinking subject is the object-matter of Psychology; the sum total of all phenomena is the object-matter of Cosmology; and the thing which contains the highest condition of the possibility of all that is cogitable is the object-matter of all Theology. He claimed that thus pure reason presents us with the idea of a transcendental doctrine of the soul, of a transcendental science of the world, and finally of a transcendental doctrine of God. He noted that the transcendental ideas are available only for ascending in the series of conditions, till we reach the unconditioned, that is, principles; as regards descending to the conditioned, on the other hand, we find that there is a widely extensive logical use which reason makes of the laws of the understanding, but that a transcendental use thereof is impossible; and that when we form an idea of the absolute totality of such a synthesis, for example, of the whole series of all future changes in the world, this idea is a mere ens rationis, an arbitrary fiction of thought, and not a necessary presupposition of reason.
The Illusions of Speculative Cosmology
As it was stated in the previous paragraph, Kant outlined that the thinking subject is the object-matter of Psychology; the sum total of all phenomena is the object-matter of Cosmology; and the thing which contains the highest condition of the possibility of all that is cogitable is the object-matter of all Theology. Further Kant elaborated that we may be able to enumerate with systematic precision these ideas according to a principle, we must remark, in the first place, that it is from the understanding alone that pure and transcendental conceptions take their origin; that the reason does not properly give birth to any conception, but only frees the conception of the understanding from the unavoidable limitation of a possible experience, and thus endeavors to raise it above the empirical, though it must still be in connection with it; this happens from the fact that, for a given conditioned, reason demands absolute totality on the side of the conditions, and thus makes of the category a transcendental idea. Kant claimed that it may be able to give absolute completeness to the empirical synthesis, by continuing it to the unconditioned; reason requires this according to the principle: If the conditioned is given the whole of the conditions, and consequently the absolutely unconditioned, is also given, whereby alone the former was possible.
Further Kant claimed also that the transcendental ideas are properly nothing but categories elevated to the unconditioned; and they may be arranged in a table according to the titles of the latter; and all the categories are not available for this purpose, but only those in which the synthesis constitutes a series- of conditions subordinated to, not co-ordinated with, each other. He said that absolute totality is required of reason only in so far as concerns the ascending series of the conditions of a conditioned; not, consequently, when the question relates to the descending series of consequences, or to the aggregate of the co-ordinated conditions of these consequences. He noted that, in relation to a given conditioned, conditions are presupposed and considered to be given along with it; and as the consequences do not render possible their conditions, but rather presuppose them- in the consideration of the procession of consequences, we may be quite unconcerned whether the series ceases or not; and their totality is not a necessary demand of reason; and thus we cogitate- and necessarily- a given time completely elapsed up to a given moment, although that time is not determinable by us.
Next, Kant insisted that in order to construct the table of ideas in correspondence with the table of categories, we take first the two primitive quanta of all our intuitions, time and space; time is in itself a series, and hence, in relation to a given present, we must distinguish a priori in it the antecedentia asconditions (time past) from the consequentia time future); consequently, the transcendental idea of the absolute totality of the series of the conditions of a given conditioned, relates merely to all past time. Kant said that according to the idea of reason, the whole past time, as the condition of the given moment, is necessarily cogitated as given. But, as regards space, there exists in it no distinction between progressus and regressus; for it is an aggregate and not a series- its parts existing together at the same time.
Kant said that the synthesis of the manifold parts of space is nevertheless successive; it takes place, therefore, in time, and contains a series; and as in this series of aggregated spaces, beginning with a given portion of space, those which continue to be annexed form the condition of the limits of the former- the measurement of a space must also be regarded as a synthesis of the series of the conditions of a given conditioned. He noted that the real in space- that is, matter- is conditioned; its internal conditions are its parts, and the parts of parts its remote conditions; so that in this case we find a regressive synthesis, the absolute totality of which is a demand of reason; but this cannot be obtained otherwise than by a complete division of parts, whereby the real in matter becomes either nothing or that which is not matter, that is to say, the simple. Consequently we find here also a series of conditions and a progress to the unconditioned.
Kant then claimed that as regards the categories of a real relation between phenomena, the category of substance and its accidents is not suitable for the formation of a transcendental idea; that is to say, reason has no ground, in regard to it, to proceed regressively with conditions. Ultimately, he outlined that the conceptions of the possible, the actual, and the necessary do not conduct us to any series- excepting only in so far as the contingent in existence must always be regarded as conditioned, and as indicating, according to a law of the understanding, a condition, under which it is necessary to rise to a higher, till in the totality of the series, reason arrives at unconditioned necessity. Kant concluded that there are, accordingly, only four cosmological ideas, corresponding with the four titles of the categories: the absolute completeness of the composition that is of the given totality of all phenomena; the absolute completeness of the division that is of given totality in a phenomenon; the absolute completeness of the origination that is of a phenomenon; and the absolute completeness of the dependence that is of the existence of what is changeable in a phenomenon.
The Illusions of Speculative Theology
Kant elaborated that if theology meant as the cognition of a primal being, it based either upon reason alone or upon revelation, in which the former cogitates its object either by means of pure transcendental conceptions, and is termed transcendental theology; or, by means of a conception derived from the nature of our own mind, as a supreme intelligence, and must then be entitled natural theology; the second asserts that reason is capable of presenting us, from the analogy with nature, with a more definite conception of this being, and that its operations, as the cause of all things, are the results of intelligence and free will. According to Kant, Transcendental theology aims either at inferring the existence of a Supreme Being from a general experience, without any closer reference to the world to which this experience belongs, and in this case it is called cosmotheology; or it endeavors to cognize the existence of such a being, through mere conceptions, without the aid of experience, and is then termed onto theology.
Kant stated that the Natural theology infers the attributes and the existence of an author of the world, from the constitution of, the order and unity observable in, the world, in which two modes of causality must be admitted to exist- those of nature and freedom. Thus it rises from this world to a supreme intelligence, either as the principle of all natural, or of all moral order and perfection. In the former case it is termed physico-theology, in the latter, ethical or moral-theology. He strived to investigate the sources of all attempts of reason to establish the existence of a Supreme Being, e.g. theoretical knowledge, certain practical laws, principle of the cognition of nature and speculative method. He said that the theoretical employment of reason is that by which we cognize a priori that something is ought to happen, either a certain determinate condition of this truth is absolutely necessary, or such a condition may be arbitrarily presupposed. According to Kant, there are certain practical laws- those of morality- which are absolutely necessary; and if these laws necessarily presuppose the existence of some being, as the condition of the possibility of their obligatory power, this being must be postulated, because the conditioned, from which we reason to this determinate condition, is itself cognized a priori as absolutely necessary.
Kant conclude that all attempts of reason to establish a theology by the aid of speculation alone are fruitless, that the principles of reason as applied to nature do not conduct us to any theological truths, and, consequently, that a rational theology can have no existence, unless it is founded upon the laws of morality. He claimed that for all synthetical principles of the understanding are valid only as immanent in experience; while the cognition of a Supreme Being necessitates their being employed transcendentally, and of this the understanding is quite incapable; if the empirical law of causality is to conduct us to a Supreme Being, this being must belong to the chain of empirical objects- in which case it would be, like all phenomena, itself conditioned; and if the possibility of passing the limits of experience be admitted, by means of the dynamical law of the relation of an effect to its cause, he raised the question what kind of conception shall we obtain by this
Kant suggested that although pure speculative reason is far from sufficient to demonstrate the existence of a Supreme Being, it is of the highest utility in correcting our conception of this being- on the supposition that we can attain to the cognition of it by some other means- in making it consistent with itself and with all other conceptions of intelligible objects, clearing it from all that is incompatible with the conception of an ens summun, and eliminating from it all limitations or admixtures of empirical elements. Therefore, he stressed that Transcendental theology is still therefore, notwithstanding its objective insufficiency, of importance in a negative respect; it is useful as a test of the procedure of reason when engaged with pure ideas, no other than a transcendental standard being in this case admissible. He again concluded that a Supreme Being is, therefore, for the speculative reason, a mere ideal, though a faultless one- a conception which perfects and crowns the system of human cognition, but the objective reality of which can neither be proved nor disproved by pure reason; and if this defect is ever supplied by a moral theology, the problematic transcendental theology which has preceded, will have been at least serviceable as demonstrating the mental necessity existing for the conception, by the complete determination of it which it has furnished, and the ceaseless testing of the conclusions of a reason often deceived by sense, and not always in harmony with its own ideas.
The Legitimate Use of the Ideas of Pure Reason
Kant perceived that there are two elements in cognition i.e. conception and intuition; in conception, an object is cogitated; while in intuition, the object is given. Further he claimed that all intuition possible to us is sensuous that is our thought of an object can become cognition for us only in so far as this conception is applied to objects of the senses. He noted that sensuous intuition is either pure intuition or empirical intuition and through the determination of pure intuition we obtain a priori cognitions of objects; consequently the pure conceptions of the understanding produce cognition only in so far as it can be applied to empirical intuitions; and therefore, the categories do not afford us any cognition of things except that they can be applied to empirical intuition. He concluded that in cognition, their application to objects of experience is the only legitimate use of the categories.
Kant hence noted that the conceptions of understanding are cogitated a priori antecedently to experience, and render it possible; however they contain nothing but the unity of reflection upon phenomena, in so far as these must necessarily belong to a possible empirical consciousness. He claimed that through them alone are cognition and the determination of an object possible; it is from them, accordingly, that we receive material for reasoning, and antecedently to them we possess no a priori conceptions of objects from which they might be deduced. He insisted that the aim of rational conceptions is the comprehension, as that of the conceptions of understanding is the understanding of perceptions; and a priori synthetical propositions are possible and legitimate, not only, as we have maintained, in relation to objects of possible experience, and as principles of the possibility of this experience itself, but are applicable to things in themselves- an inference which makes an end of the whole of this Critique, and obliges us to fallback on the old mode of metaphysical procedure. But indeed the danger is not so great, if we look a little closer into the question.
5. Kant, I., 2004, “Metaphysic”, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/)