Front Page Titles (by Subject) PART II: CRITIQUE OF THE TELEOLOGICAL JUDGEMENT - The Critique of Judgement
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PART II: CRITIQUE OF THE TELEOLOGICAL JUDGEMENT - Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Judgement 
Kant’s Critique of Judgement, translated with Introduction and Notes by J.H. Bernard (2nd ed. revised) (London: Macmillan, 1914).
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CRITIQUE OF THE TELEOLOGICAL JUDGEMENT
Of the objective purposiveness of Nature
We have on transcendental principles good ground to assume a subjective purposiveness in nature, in its particular laws, in reference to its comprehensibility by human Judgement and to the possibility of the connexion of particular experiences in a system. This may be expected as possible in many products of nature, which, as if they were devised quite specially for our Judgement, contain a specific form conformable thereto; which through their manifoldness and unity serve at once to strengthen and to sustain the mental powers (that come into play in the employment of this faculty); and to which therefore we give the name of beautiful forms.
But that the things of nature serve one another as means to purposes, and that their possibility is only completely intelligible through this kind of causality—for this we have absolutely no ground in the universal Idea of nature, as the complex of the objects of sense. In the above-mentioned case, the representation of things, because it is something in ourselves, can be quite well thought a priori as suitable and useful for the internally purposive determination of our cognitive faculties; but that purposes, which neither are our own nor belong to nature (for we do not regard nature as an intelligent being), could or should constitute a particular kind of causality, at least a quite special conformity to law,—this we have absolutely no a priori reason for presuming. Yet more, experience itself cannot prove to us the actuality of this; there must then have preceded a rationalising subtlety which only sportively introduces the concept of purpose into the nature of things, but which does not derive it from Objects or from their empirical cognition. To this latter it is of more service to make nature comprehensible according to analogy with the subjective ground of the connexion of our representations, than to cognise it from objective grounds.
Further, objective purposiveness, as a principle of the possibility of things of nature, is so far removed from necessary connexion with the concept of nature, that it is much oftener precisely that upon which one relies to prove the contingency of nature and of its form. When, e.g. we adduce the structure of a bird, the hollowness of its bones, the disposition of its wings for motion and of its tail for steering, etc., we say that all this is contingent in the highest degree according to the mere nexus effectivus of nature, without calling in the aid of a particular kind of causality, namely that of purpose (nexus finalis). In other words, nature, considered as mere mechanism, could have produced its forms in a thousand other ways without stumbling upon the unity which is in accordance with such a principle. It is not in the concept of nature but quite apart from it that we can hope to find the least ground a priori for this.
Nevertheless the teleological act of judgement is rightly brought to bear, at least problematically, upon the investigation of nature; but only in order to bring it under principles of observation and inquiry according to the analogy with the causality of purpose, without any pretence to explain it thereby. It belongs therefore to the reflective and not to the determinant judgement. The concept of combinations and forms of nature in accordance with purposes is then at least one principle more for bringing its phenomena under rules where the laws of simply mechanical causality do not suffice. For we bring in a teleological ground, where we attribute causality in respect of an Object to the concept of an Object, as if it were to be found in nature (not in ourselves); or rather when we represent to ourselves the possibility of the Object after the analogy of that causality which we experience in ourselves, and consequently think nature technically as through a special faculty. If we did not ascribe to it such a method of action, its causality would have to be represented as blind mechanism. If, on the contrary, we supply to nature causes acting designedly, and consequently place at its basis teleology, not merely as a regulative principle for the mere judging of phenomena, to which nature can be thought as subject in its particular laws, but as a constitutive principle of the derivation of its products from their causes; then would the concept of a natural purpose no longer belong to the reflective but to the determinant Judgement. Then, in fact, it would not belong specially to the Judgement (like the concept of beauty regarded as formal subjective purposiveness), but as a rational concept it would introduce into natural science a new causality, which we only borrow from ourselves and ascribe to other beings, without meaning to assume them to be of the same kind with ourselves.
ANALYTIC OF THE TELEOLOGICAL JUDGEMENT
Of the objective purposiveness which is merely formal as distinguished from that which is material
All geometrical figures drawn on a principle display a manifold, oft admired, objective purposiveness; i.e. in reference to their usefulness for the solution of several problems by a single principle, or of the same problem in an infinite variety of ways. The purposiveness is here obviously objective and intellectual, not merely subjective and aesthetical. For it expresses the suitability of the figure for the production of many intended figures, and is cognised through Reason. But this purposiveness does not make the concept of the object itself possible, i.e. it is not regarded as possible merely with reference to this use.
In so simple a figure as the circle lies the key to the solution of a multitude of problems, each of which would demand various appliances; whereas the solution results of itself, as it were, as one of the infinite number of elegant properties of this figure. Are we, for example, asked to construct a triangle, being given the base and vertical angle? The problem is indeterminate, i.e. it can be solved in an infinite number of ways. But the circle embraces them altogether as the geometrical locus of the vertices of triangles satisfying the given conditions. Again, suppose that two lines are to cut one another so that the rectangle under the segments of the one should be equal to the rectangle under the segments of the other; the solution of the problem from this point of view presents much difficulty. But all chords intersecting inside a circle divide one another in this proportion. Other curved lines suggest other purposive solutions of which nothing was thought in the rule that furnished their construction. All conic sections in themselves and when compared with one another are fruitful in principles for the solution of a number of possible problems, however simple is the definition which determines their concept.— It is a true joy to see the zeal with which the old geometers investigated the properties of lines of this class, without allowing themselves to be led astray by the questions of narrow-minded persons, as to what use this knowledge would be. Thus they worked out the properties of the parabola without knowing the law of gravitation, which would have suggested to them its application to the trajectory of heavy bodies (for the motion of a heavy body can be seen to be parallel to the curve of a parabola). Again, they found out the properties of an ellipse without surmising that any of the heavenly bodies had weight, and without knowing the law of force at different distances from the point of attraction, which causes it to describe this curve in free motion. While they thus unconsciously worked for the science of the future, they delighted themselves with a purposiveness in the [essential] being of things which yet they were able to present completely a priori in its necessity. Plato, himself master of this science, hinted at such an original constitution of things in the discovery of which we can dispense with all experience, and at the power of the mind to produce from its supersensible principle the harmony of beings (where the properties of number come in, with which the mind plays in music). This [he touches upon] in the inspiration that raised him above the concepts of experience to Ideas, which seem to him to be explicable only through an intellectual affinity with the origin of all beings. No wonder that he banished from his school the man who was ignorant of geometry, since he thought he could derive from pure intuition, which has its home in the human spirit, that which Anaxagoras drew from empirical objects and their purposive combination. For in the very necessity of that which is purposive, and is constituted just as if it were designedly intended for our use,—but at the same time seems to belong originally to the being of things without any reference to our use—lies the ground of our great admiration of nature, and that not so much external as in our own Reason. It is surely excusable that this admiration should through misunderstanding gradually rise to the height of fanaticism.
But this intellectual purposiveness, although no doubt objective (not subjective like aesthetical purposiveness), is in reference to its possibility merely formal (not real). It can only be conceived as purposiveness in general without any [definite] purpose being assumed as its basis, and consequently without teleology being needed for it. The figure of a circle is an intuition which is determined by means of the Understanding according to a principle. The unity of this principle which I arbitrarily assume and use as fundamental concept, applied to a form of intuition (space) which is met with in myself as a representation and yet a priori, renders intelligible the unity of many rules resulting from the construction of that concept, which are purposive for many possible designs. But this purposiveness does not imply a purpose or any other ground whatever. It is quite different if I meet with order and regularity in complexes of things, external to myself, enclosed within certain boundaries; as, e.g. in a garden, the order and regularity of the trees, flower-beds, and walks. These I cannot expect to derive a priori from my bounding of space made after a rule of my own; for this order and regularity are existing things which must be given empirically in order to be known, and not a mere representation in myself determined a priori according to a principle. So then the latter (empirical) purposiveness, as real, is dependent on the concept of a purpose.
But the ground of admiration for a perceived purposiveness, although it be in the being of things (so far as their concepts can be constructed), may very well be seen, and seen to be legitimate. The manifold rules whose unity (derived from a principle) excites admiration, are all synthetical and do not follow from the concept of the Object, e.g. of a circle; but require this Object to be given in intuition. Hence this unity gets the appearance of having empirically an external basis of rules distinct from our representative faculty; as if therefore the correspondence of the Object to that need of rules which is proper to the Understanding were contingent in itself, and therefore only possible by means of a purpose expressly directed thereto. Now because this harmony, notwithstanding all this purposiveness, is not cognised empirically but a priori, it should bring us of itself to this point—that space, through whose determination (by means of the Imagination, in accordance with a concept) the Object is alone possible, is not a characteristic of things external to me, but a mere mode of representation in myself. Hence, in the figure which I draw in conformity with a concept, i.e. in my own mode of representing that which is given to me externally, whatever it may be in itself, it is I that introduce the purposiveness; I get no empirical instruction from the Object about the purposiveness, and so I require in it no particular purpose external to myself. But because this consideration already calls for a critical employment of Reason, and consequently cannot be involved in the judging of the Object according to its properties; so this latter [judging] suggests to me immediately nothing but the unification of heterogeneous rules (even according to their very diversity) in a principle. This principle, without requiring any particular a priori basis external to my concept, or indeed, generally speaking, to my representation, is yet cognised a priori by me as true. Now wonder is a shock of the mind arising from the incompatibility of a representation, and the rule given by its means, with the principles already lying at its basis; which provokes a doubt as to whether we have rightly seen or rightly judged. Admiration, however, is wonder which ever recurs, despite the disappearance of this doubt. Consequently the latter is a quite natural effect of that observed purposiveness in the being of things (as phenomena). It cannot indeed be censured, whilst the unification of the form of sensible intuition (space)—with the faculty of concepts (the Understanding)—is inexplicable to us; and that not only on account of the union being just of the kind that it is, but because it is enlarging for the mind to surmise [the existence of] something lying outside our sensible representations in which, although unknown to us, the ultimate ground of that agreement may be met with. We are, it is true, not necessitated to cognise this if we have only to do a priori with the formal purposiveness of our representations; but the fact that we are compelled to look out beyond it inspires at the same time an admiration for the object that impels us thereto.
We are accustomed to speak of the above mentioned properties of geometrical figures or of numbers as beautiful, on account of a certain a priori purposiveness they have for all kinds of cognitive uses, this purposiveness being quite unexpected on account of the simplicity of the construction. We speak, e.g. of this or that beautiful property of the circle, which was discovered in this or that way. But there is no aesthetical act of judgement through which we find it purposive, no act of judgement without a concept which renders noticeable a mere subjective purposiveness in the free play of our cognitive faculties; but an intellectual act according to concepts which enables us clearly to cognise an objective purposiveness, i.e. availableness for all kinds of (infinitely manifold) purposes. We must rather call this relative perfection than a beauty of the mathematical figure. To speak thus of an intellectual beauty cannot in general be permissible; for otherwise the word beauty would lose all determinate significance, or the intellectual satisfaction all superiority over the sensible. We should rather call a demonstration of such properties beautiful, because through it the Understanding as the faculty of concepts, and the Imagination as the faculty of presenting them, feel themselves strengthened a priori. (This, when viewed in connexion with the precision introduced by Reason, is spoken of as elegant.) Here, however, the satisfaction, although it is based on concepts, is subjective; while perfection brings with itself an objective satisfaction.
Of the relative, as distinguished from the inner, purposiveness of nature
Experience leads our Judgement to the concept of an objective and material purposiveness, i.e. to the concept of a purpose of nature, only when1 we have to judge of a relation of cause to effect which we find ourselves able to apprehend as legitimate only by presupposing the Idea of the effect of the causality of the cause as the fundamental condition, in the cause, of the possibility of the effect. This can take place in two ways. We may regard the effect directly as an art product, or only as material for the art of other possible natural beings; in other words, either as a purpose or as a means towards the purposive employment of other causes. This latter purposiveness is called utility (for man) or mere advantage (for other creatures), and is merely relative; while the former is an inner purposiveness of the natural being.
For example, rivers bring down with them all kinds of earth serviceable for the growth of plants which sometimes is deposited inland, often also at their mouths. The tide brings this mud to many coasts over the land or deposits it on the shore; and so, more especially if men give their aid so that the ebb shall not carry it back again, the fruit-bearing land increases in area, and the vegetable kingdom gains the place which formerly was the habitation of fish and shells. In this way has nature itself brought about most of the extensions of the land, and still continues to do so, although very slowly.— Now the question is whether this is to be judged a purpose of nature, because it contains utility for men. We cannot put it down to the account of the vegetable kingdom, because just as much is subtracted from sea-life as is added to land-life.
Or, to give an example of the advantageousness of certain natural things as means for other creatures (if we suppose them to be means), no soil is more suitable to pine trees than a sandy soil. Now the deep sea, before it withdrew from the land, left behind large tracts of sand in our northern regions, so that on this soil, so unfavourable for all cultivation, widely extended pine forests were enabled to grow, for the unreasoning destruction of which we frequently blame our ancestors. We may ask if this original deposit of tracts of sand was a purpose of nature for the benefit of the possible pine forests? So much is clear, that if we regard this as a purpose of nature, we must also regard the sand as a relative purpose, in reference to which the ocean strand and its withdrawal were means: for in the series of the mutually subordinated members of a purposive combination, every member must be regarded as a purpose (though not as a final purpose), to which its proximate cause is the means. So too if cattle, sheep, horses, etc., are to exist, there must be grass on the earth, but there must also be saline plants in the desert if camels are to thrive; and again these and other herbivorous animals must be met with in numbers if there are to be wolves, tigers, and lions. Consequently the objective purposiveness, which is based upon advantage, is not an objective purposiveness of things in themselves; as if the sand could not be conceived for itself as an effect of a cause, viz. the sea, without attributing to the latter a purpose, and regarding the effect, namely, the sand, as a work of art. It is a merely relative purposiveness contingent upon the thing to which it is ascribed; and although in the examples we have cited, the different kinds of grass are to be judged as in themselves organised products of nature, and consequently as artificial, yet are they to be regarded, in reference to the beasts which feed upon them, as mere raw material.
But above all, though man, through the freedom of his causality, finds certain natural things of advantage for his designs—designs often foolish, such as using the variegated plumage of birds to adorn his clothes, or coloured earths and the juices of plants for painting his face; often again reasonable as when the horse is used for riding, the ox or (as in Minorca) the ass or pig for ploughing—yet we cannot even here assume a relative natural purpose. For his Reason knows how to give things a conformity with his own arbitrary fancies for which he was not at all predestined by nature. Only, if we assume that men are to live upon the earth, then the means must be there without which they could not exist as animals, and even as rational animals (in however low a degree of rationality); and thereupon those natural things, which are indispensable in this regard, must be considered as natural purposes.
We can hence easily see that external purposiveness (advantage of one thing in respect of others) can be regarded as an external natural purpose only under the condition, that the existence of that [being], to which it is immediately or distantly advantageous, is in itself a purpose of nature. Since that can never be completely determined by mere contemplation of nature, it follows that relative purposiveness, although it hypothetically gives indications of natural purposes, yet justifies no absolute teleological judgement.
Snow in cold countries protects the crops from the frost; it makes human intercourse easier (by means of sleighs). The Laplander finds in his country animals by whose aid this intercourse is brought about, i.e. reindeer, who find sufficient sustenance in a dry moss which they have to scratch out for themselves from under the snow, and who are easily tamed and readily permit themselves to be deprived of that freedom in which they could have remained if they chose. For other people in the same frozen regions marine animals afford rich stores; in addition to the food and clothing which are thus supplied, and the wood which is floated in by the sea to their dwellings, these marine animals provide material for fuel by which their huts are warmed. Here is a wonderful concurrence of many references of nature to one purpose; and all this applies to the cases of the Greenlander, the Lapp, the Samoyede, the inhabitant of Yakutsk, etc. But then we do not see why, generally, men must live there at all. Therefore to say that vapour falls out of the atmosphere in the form of snow, that the sea has its currents which float down wood that has grown in warmer lands, and that there are in it great sea monsters filled with oil, because the idea of advantage for certain poor creatures is fundamental for the cause which collects all these natural products, would be a very venturesome and arbitrary judgement. For even if there were none of this natural utility, we should miss nothing as regards the adequateness of natural causes to nature’s constitution; much more even to desire such a tendency in, and to attribute such a purpose to, nature would be the part of a presumptuous and inconsiderate fancy. For indeed it might be observed that it could only have been the greatest unsociability among men which thus scattered them into such inhospitable regions.
Of the peculiar character of things as natural purposes
In order to see that a thing is only possible as a purpose, that is, to be forced to seek the causality of its origin not in the mechanism of nature but in a cause whose faculty of action is determined through concepts, it is requisite that its form be not possible according to mere natural laws, i.e. laws which can be cognised by us through the Understanding alone when applied to objects of Sense; but that even the empirical knowledge of it as regards its cause and effect presupposes concepts of Reason. This contingency of its form in all empirical natural laws in reference to Reason affords a ground for regarding its causality as possible only through Reason. For Reason, which must cognise the necessity of every form of a natural product in order to comprehend even the conditions of its genesis, cannot assume such [natural] necessity in that particular given form. The causality of its origin is then referred to the faculty of acting in accordance with purposes (a will); and the Object which can only thus be represented as possible is represented as a purpose.
If in a seemingly uninhabited country a man perceived a geometrical figure, say a regular hexagon, inscribed on the sand, his reflection busied with such a concept would attribute, although obscurely, the unity in the principle of its genesis to Reason, and consequently would not regard as a ground of the possibility of such a shape the sand, or the neighbouring sea, or the winds, or beasts with familiar footprints, or any other irrational cause. For the chance against meeting with such a concept, which is only possible through Reason, would seem so infinitely great, that it would be just as if there were no natural law, no cause in the mere mechanical working of nature capable of producing it; but as if only the concept of such an Object, as a concept which Reason alone can supply and with which it can compare the thing, could contain the causality for such an effect. This then would be regarded as a purpose, but as a product of art, not as a natural purpose (vestigium hominis video).1
But in order to regard a thing cognised as a natural product as a purpose also—consequently as a natural purpose, if this is not a contradiction—something more is required. I would say provisionally: a thing exists as a natural purpose, if it is [although in a double sense]1 both cause and effect of itself. For herein lies a causality the like of which cannot be combined with the mere concept of a nature without attributing to it a purpose; it can certainly be thought without contradiction, but cannot be comprehended. We shall elucidate the determination of this Idea of a natural purpose by an example, before we analyse it completely.
In the first place, a tree generates another tree according to a known natural law. But the tree produced is of the same genus; and so it produces itself generically. On the one hand, as effect it is continually self-produced; on the other hand, as cause it continually produces itself, and so perpetuates itself generically.
Secondly, a tree produces itself as an individual. This kind of effect no doubt we call growth; but it is quite different from any increase according to mechanical laws, and is to be reckoned as generation, though under another name. The matter that the tree incorporates it previously works up into a specifically peculiar quality, which natural mechanism external to it cannot supply; and thus it develops itself by aid of a material which, as compounded, is its own product. No doubt, as regards the constituents got from nature without, it must only be regarded as an educt; but yet in the separation and recombination of this raw material we see such an originality in the separating and formative faculty of this kind of natural being, as is infinitely beyond the reach of art, if the attempt is made to reconstruct such vegetable products out of elements obtained by their dissection or material supplied by nature for their sustenance.
Thirdly, each part of a tree generates itself in such a way that the maintenance of any one part depends reciprocally on the maintenance of the rest. A bud of one tree engrafted on the twig of another produces in the alien stock a plant of its own kind, and so also a scion engrafted on a foreign stem. Hence we may regard each twig or leaf of the same tree as merely engrafted or inoculated into it, and so as an independent tree attached to another and parasitically nourished by it. At the same time, while the leaves are products of the tree they also in turn give support to it; for the repeated defoliation of a tree kills it, and its growth thus depends on the action of the leaves upon the stem. The self-help of nature in case of injury in the vegetable creation, when the want of a part that is necessary for the maintenance of its neighbours is supplied by the remaining parts; and the abortions or malformations in growth, in which certain parts, on account of casual defects or hindrances, form themselves in a new way to maintain what exists, and so produce an anomalous creature, I shall only mention in passing, though they are among the most wonderful properties of organised creatures.
Things regarded as natural purposes are organised beings
According to the character alleged in the preceding section, a thing, which, though a natural product, is to be cognised as only possible as a natural purpose, must bear itself alternately as cause and as effect. This, however, is a somewhat inexact and indeterminate expression which needs derivation from a determinate concept.
Causal combination as thought merely by the Understanding is a connexion constituting an ever-progressive series (of causes and effects); and things which as effects presuppose others as causes cannot be reciprocally at the same time causes of these. This sort of causal combination we call that of effective causes (nexus effectivus). But on the other hand, a causal combination according to a concept of Reason (of purposes) can also be thought, which regarded as a series would lead either forwards or backwards; in this the thing that has been called the effect may with equal propriety be termed the cause of that of which it is the effect. In the practical department of human art we easily find connexions such as this; e.g. a house, no doubt, is the cause of the money received for rent, but also conversely the representation of this possible income was the cause of building the house. Such a causal connexion we call that of final causes (nexus finalis). We may perhaps suitably name the first the connexion of real causes, the second of those which are ideal; because from this nomenclature it is at once comprehended that there can be no more than these two kinds of causality.
For a thing to be a natural purpose in the first place it is requisite that its parts (as regards their being and their form) are only possible through their reference to the whole. For the thing itself is a purpose and so is comprehended under a concept or an Idea which must determine a priori all that is to be contained in it. But so far as a thing is only thought as possible in this way, it is a mere work of art; i.e. a product of one rational cause distinct from the matter (of the parts), whose causality (in the collection and combination of the parts) is determined through its Idea of a whole possible by their means (and consequently not through external nature).
But if a thing as a natural product is to involve in itself and in its internal possibility a reference to purposes,—i.e. to be possible only as a natural purpose, and without the causality of the concepts of rational beings external to itself,—then it is requisite secondly that its parts should so combine in the unity of a whole that they are reciprocally cause and effect of each other’s form. Only in this way can the Idea of the whole conversely (reciprocally) determine the form and combination of all the parts; not indeed as cause—for then it would be an artificial product—but as the ground of cognition, for him who is judging it, of the systematic unity and combination of all the manifold contained in the given material.
For a body then which is to be judged in itself and its internal possibility as a natural purpose, it is requisite that its parts mutually depend upon each other both as to their form and their combination, and so produce a whole by their own causality; while conversely the concept of the whole may be regarded as its cause according to a principle (in a being possessing a causality according to concepts adequate to such a product). In this case then the connexion of effective causes may be judged as an effect through final causes.
In such a product of nature every part not only exists by means of the other parts, but is thought as existing for the sake of the others and the whole, that is as an (organic) instrument. Thus, however, it might be an artificial instrument, and so might be represented only as a purpose that is possible in general; but also its parts are all organs reciprocally producing each other. This can never be the case with artificial instruments, but only with nature which supplies all the material for instruments (even for those of art). Only a product of such a kind can be called a natural purpose, and this because it is an organised and self-organising being.
In a watch one part is the instrument for moving the other parts, but the wheel is not the effective cause of the production of the others; no doubt one part is for the sake of the others, but it does not exist by their means. In this case the producing cause of the parts and of their form is not contained in the nature (of the material), but is external to it in a being which can produce effects according to Ideas of a whole possible by means of its causality. Hence a watch wheel does not produce other wheels, still less does one watch produce other watches, utilising (organising) foreign material for that purpose; hence it does not replace of itself parts of which it has been deprived, nor does it make good what is lacking in a first formation by the addition of the missing parts, nor if it has gone out of order does it repair itself—all of which, on the contrary, we may expect from organised nature.— An organised being is then not a mere machine, for that has merely moving power, but it possesses in itself formative power of a self-propagating kind which it communicates to its materials though they have it not of themselves; it organises them, in fact, and this cannot be explained by the mere mechanical faculty of motion.
We say of nature and its faculty in organised products far too little if we describe it as an analogon of art; for this suggests an artificer (a rational being) external to it. Much rather does it organise itself and its organised products in every species, no doubt after one general pattern but yet with suitable deviations, which self-preservation demands according to circumstances. We perhaps approach nearer to this inscrutable property, if we describe it as an analogon of life; but then we must either endow matter, as mere matter, with a property which contradicts its very being (hylozoism), or associate therewith an alien principle standing in communion with it (a soul). But in the latter case we must, if such a product is to be a natural product, either presuppose organised matter as the instrument of that soul, which does not make the soul a whit more comprehensible; or regard the soul as artificer of this structure and so remove the product from (corporeal) nature. To speak strictly, then, the organisation of nature has in it nothing analogous to any causality we know.1 Beauty in nature can be rightly described as an analogon of art, because it is ascribed to objects only in reference to reflection upon their external aspect, and consequently only on account of the form of their external surface. But internal natural perfection, as it belongs to those things which are only possible as natural purposes, and are therefore called organised beings, is not analogous to any physical, i.e. natural, faculty known to us; nay even, regarding ourselves as, in the widest sense, belonging to nature, it is not even thinkable or explicable by means of any exactly fitting analogy to human art.
The concept of a thing as in itself a natural purpose is therefore no constitutive concept of Understanding or of Reason, but it can serve as a regulative concept for the reflective Judgement, to guide our investigation about objects of this kind by a distant analogy with our own causality according to purposes generally, and in our meditations upon their ultimate ground. This latter use, however, is not in reference to the knowledge of nature or of its original ground, but rather to our own practical faculty of Reason, in analogy with which we considered the cause of that purposiveness.
Organised beings are then the only beings in nature which, considered in themselves and apart from any relation to other things, can be thought as possible only as purposes of nature. Hence they first afford objective reality to the concept of a purpose of nature, as distinguished from a practical purpose; and so they give to the science of nature the basis for a teleology, i.e. a mode of judgement about natural Objects according to a special principle which otherwise we should in no way be justified in introducing (because we cannot see a priori the possibility of this kind of causality).
Of the principle of judging of internal purposiveness in organised beings
This principle, which is at the same time a definition, is as follows: An organised product of nature is one in which every part is reciprocally purpose, [end] and means. In it nothing is vain, without purpose, or to be ascribed to a blind mechanism of nature.
This principle, as regards its occasion, is doubtless derived from experience, viz. from that methodised experience called observation; but on account of the universality and necessity which it ascribes to such purposiveness it cannot rest solely on empirical grounds, but must have at its basis an a priori principle, although it be merely regulative and these purposes lie only in the idea of the judging [subject] and not in an effective cause. We may therefore describe the aforesaid principle as a maxim for judging of the internal purposiveness of organised beings.
It is an acknowledged fact that the dissectors of plants and animals, in order to investigate their structure and to find out the reasons, why and for what end such parts, such a disposition and combination of parts, and just such an internal form have been given them, assume as indisputably necessary the maxim that nothing in such a creature is vain; just as they lay down as the fundamental proposition of the universal science of nature, that nothing happens by chance. In fact, they can as little free themselves from this teleological proposition as from the universal physical proposition; for as without the latter we should have no experience at all, so without the former we should have no guiding thread for the observation of a species of natural things which we have thought teleologically under the concept of natural purposes.
Now this concept brings the Reason into a quite different order of things from that of a mere mechanism of nature, which is no longer satisfying here. An Idea is to be the ground of the possibility of the natural product. But because this is an absolute unity of representation, instead of the material being a plurality of things that can supply by itself no definite unity of composition,—if that unity of the Idea is to serve at all as the a priori ground of determination of a natural law of the causality of such a form of composition,—the purpose of nature must be extended to everything included in its product. For if we once refer action of this sort on the whole to any supersensible ground of determination beyond the blind mechanism of nature, we must judge of it altogether according to this principle; and we have then no reason to regard the form of such a thing as partly dependent on mechanism—for by such mixing up of disparate principles no certain rule of judging would be left.
For example, it may be that in an animal body many parts can be conceived as concretions according to mere mechanical laws (as the hide, the bones, the hair). And yet the cause which brings together the required matter, modifies it, forms it, and puts it in its appropriate place, must always be judged of teleologically; so that here everything must be considered as organised, and everything again in a certain relation to the thing itself is an organ.
Of the principle of the teleological judging of nature in general as a system of purposes
We have already said above that the external purposiveness of natural things affords no sufficient warrant for using them as purposes of nature in order to explain their presence, and for regarding their contingently purposive effects as the grounds of their presence according to the principle of final causes. Thus we cannot take for natural purposes, rivers because they promote intercourse among inland peoples, mountains because they contain the sources of the rivers and for their maintenance in rainless seasons have a store of snow, or the slope of the land which carries away the water and leaves the country dry; because although this shape of the earth’s surface be very necessary for the origin and maintenance of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, it has nothing in itself for the possibility of which we are forced to assume a causality according to purposes. The same is true of plants which man uses for his needs or his pleasures; of beasts, the camel, the ox, the horse, dog, etc., which are indispensable to him as well for food as because they are used in his service in many different ways. In the case of things which we have no reason for regarding in themselves as purposes, such external relation can only be hypothetically judged as purposive.
To judge of a thing as a natural purpose on account of its internal form is something very different from taking the existence of that thing to be a purpose of nature. For the latter assertion we require not merely the concept of a possible purpose, but the knowledge of the final purpose (scopus) of nature. But this requires a reference of such knowledge to something supersensible far transcending all our teleological knowledge of nature, for the purpose of [the existence of]1 nature must itself be sought beyond nature. The internal form of a mere blade of grass is sufficient to show that for our human faculty of judgement its origin is possible only according to the rule of purposes. But if we change our point of view and look to the use which other natural beings make of it, abandon the consideration of its internal organisation and only look to its externally purposive references, we shall arrive at no categorical purpose; all this purposive reference rests on an ever more distant condition, which, as unconditioned (the presence of a thing as final purpose), lies quite outside the physico-teleological view of the world. For example, grass is needful for the ox, which again is needful for man as a means of existence, but then we do not see why it is necessary that men should exist (a question this, which we shall not find so easy to answer if we sometimes cast our thoughts on the New Hollanders or the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego). So conceived, the thing is not even a natural purpose, for neither it (nor its whole genus) is to be regarded as a natural product.
Hence it is only so far as matter is organised that it necessarily carries with it the concept of a natural purpose, because this its specific form is at the same time a product of nature. But this concept leads necessarily to the Idea of collective nature as a system in accordance with the rule of purposes, to which Idea all the mechanism of nature must be subordinated according to principles of Reason (at least in order to investigate natural phenomena therein). The principle of Reason belongs to it only as a subjective principle or a maxim: viz. everything in the world is some way good for something; nothing is vain in it. By the example that nature gives us in its organic products we are justified, nay called upon, to expect of it and of its laws nothing that is not purposive on the whole.
It is plain that this is not a principle for the determinant but only for the reflective Judgement; that it is regulative and not constitutive; and that we derive from it a clue by which we consider natural things in reference to an already given ground of determination according to a new law-abiding order; and extend our natural science according to a different principle, viz. that of final causes, but yet without prejudice to the principle of mechanical causality. Furthermore, it is in no wise thus decided, whether anything of which we judge by this principle, is a designed purpose of nature; whether the grass is for the ox or the sheep, or whether these and the other things of nature are here for men. It is well also from this side to consider the things which are unpleasant to us and are contrary to purpose in particular references. Thus, for example, we can say: The vermin that torment men in their clothes, their hair, or their beds, may be, according to a wise appointment of nature, a motive to cleanliness which is in itself an important means for the preservation of health. Or again the mosquitoes and other stinging insects that make the wildernesses of America so oppressive to the savages, may be so many goads to activity for these primitive men, [inducing them] to drain the marshes and bring light into the forests which intercept every breath of air, and in this way, as well as by cultivating the soil, to make their habitations more healthy. The same thing, which appears to men contradictory to nature in its inner organisation, if viewed in this light gives an entertaining, sometimes an instructive, outlook into a teleological order of things, to which, without such a principle, mere physical observation would not lead us by itself. Thus some persons regard the tapeworm as given to the men or animals in whom it resides, as a kind of set-off for some defect in their vital organs; now I would ask if dreams (without which we never sleep, though we seldom remember them) may not be a purposive ordinance of nature? For during the relaxation of all the moving powers of the body, they serve to excite internally the vital organs by the medium of the Imagination and its great activity (which in this state generally rises to the height of affection). During sleep the Imagination commonly is more actively at play when the stomach is overloaded, in which case this excitement is the more necessary. Consequently, then, without this internal power of motion and this fatiguing unrest, on account of which we complain about our dreams (though in fact they are rather remedial), sleep even in a sound state of health would be a complete extinction of life.
Also the beauty of nature, i.e. its connexion with the free play of our cognitive faculties in apprehending and judging of its appearance, can be regarded as a kind of objective purposiveness of nature in its whole [content] as a system of which man is a member; if once the teleological judging of the same by means of the natural purposes which organised beings suggest to us, has justified for us the Idea of a great system of purposes of nature. We can regard it as a favour1 which nature has felt for us, that in addition to what is useful it has so profusely dispensed beauty and charm; and we can therefore love it, as well as regard it with respect on account of its immensity, and feel ourselves ennobled by such regard; just as if nature had established and adorned its splendid theatre precisely with this view.
We shall say only one thing more in this paragraph. If we have once discovered in nature a faculty of bringing forth products that can only be thought by us in accordance with the concept of final causes, we go further still. We venture to judge that things belong to a system of purposes, which yet do not (either in themselves or in their purposive relations) necessitate our seeking for any principle of their possibility beyond the mechanism of causes working blindly. For the first Idea, as concerns its ground, already brings us beyond the world of sense; since the unity of the supersensible principle must be regarded as valid in this way not merely for certain species of natural beings, but for the whole of nature as a system.
Of the principle of Teleology as internal principle of natural science
The principles of a science are either internal to it and are then called domestic (principia domestica), or are based on concepts that can only find their place outside it and so are foreign principles (peregrina). Sciences that contain the latter, place at the basis of their doctrines auxiliary propositions (lemmata), i.e. they borrow some concept, and with it a ground of arrangement, from another science.
Every science is in itself a system, and it is not enough in it to build in accordance with principles and thus to employ a technical procedure, but we must go to work with it architectonically, as a building subsisting for itself; we must not treat it as an additional wing or part of another building, but as a whole in itself, although we may subsequently make a passage from it into that other or conversely.
If then we introduce into the context of natural science the concept of God in order to explain the purposiveness in nature, and subsequently use this purposiveness to prove that there is a God, there is no internal consistency in either science [i.e. either in natural science or theology]; and a delusive circle brings them both into uncertainty, because they have allowed their boundaries to overlap.
The expression, a purpose of nature, already sufficiently prevents the confusion of mixing up natural science and the occasion that it gives for judging teleologically of its objects, with the consideration of God, and so of a theological derivation of them. We must not regard it as insignificant, if one interchanges this expression with that of a divine purpose in the ordering of nature, or gives out the latter as more suitable and proper for a pious soul, because it must come in the end to deriving these purposive forms in nature from a wise author of the world. On the contrary, we must carefully and modestly limit ourselves to the expression, a purpose of nature, which asserts exactly as much as we know. Before we ask after the cause of nature itself, we find in nature, and in the course of its development, products of the same kind which are developed in it according to known empirical laws, in accordance with which natural science must judge of its objects, and, consequently, must seek in nature their causality according to the rule of purposes. So then it must not transgress its bounds in order to introduce into itself as a domestic principle that, to whose concept no experience can be commensurate, upon which we are only entitled to venture after the completion of natural science.
Natural characteristics which demonstrate themselves a priori, and consequently admit of insight into their possibility from universal principles without any admixture of experience, although they carry with them a technical purposiveness, yet cannot, because they are absolutely necessary, be referred to the Teleology of nature, as to a method belonging to Physic for solving its problems. Arithmetical or geometrical analogies, as well as universal mechanical laws,—however strange and admirable may seem to us the union of different rules, quite independent of one another according to all appearance, in a single principle,—possess on that account no claim to be teleological grounds of explanation in Physic. Even if they deserve to be brought into consideration in the universal theory of the purposiveness of things of nature, yet they belong to another [science], i.e. Metaphysic, and constitute no internal principle of natural science; as with the empirical laws of natural purposes in organised beings, it is not only permissible but unavoidable to use the teleological mode of judging as a principle of the doctrine of nature in regard to a particular class of its objects.
So to the end that Physic may keep within its own bounds, it abstracts itself entirely from the question, whether natural purposes are designed or undesigned; for that would be to meddle in an extraneous business, in Metaphysic. It is enough that there are objects, alone explicable according to natural laws which we can only think by means of the Idea of purposes as principle, and also alone internally cognisable as concerns their internal form, in this way. In order, therefore, to remove the suspicion of the slightest assumption,—as if we wished to mix with our grounds of cognition something not belonging to Physic at all, viz. a supernatural cause,—we speak in Teleology, indeed, of nature as if the purposiveness therein were designed, but in such a way that this design is ascribed to nature, i.e. to matter. Now in this way there can be no misunderstanding, because no design in the proper meaning of the word can possibly be ascribed to inanimate matter; we thus give notice that this word here only expresses a principle of the reflective not of the determinant Judgement, and so is to introduce no particular ground of causality; but only adds for the use of the Reason a different kind of investigation from that according to mechanical laws, in order to supplement the inadequacy of the latter even for empirical research into all particular laws of nature. Hence we speak quite correctly in Teleology, so far as it is referred to Physic, of the wisdom, the economy, the forethought, the beneficence of Nature, without either making an intelligent being of it, for that would be preposterous; or even without presuming to place another intelligent Being above it as its Architect, for that would be presumptuous.1 But there should be only signified thereby a kind of causality of nature after the analogy of our own in the technical use of Reason, in order to have before us the rule according to which certain products of nature must be investigated.
But now why is it that Teleology usually forms no proper part of theoretical natural science, but is regarded as a propaedeutic or transition to Theology? This is done in order to restrict the study of nature, mechanically considered, to that which we can so subject to observation or experiment that we are able to produce it ourselves as nature does, or at least by similar laws. For we see into a thing completely only so far as we can make it in accordance with our concepts and bring it to completion. But organisation, as an inner purpose of nature, infinitely surpasses all our faculty of presenting the like by means of art. And as concerns the external contrivances of nature regarded as purposive (wind, rain, etc.), Physic, indeed, considers their mechanism, but it cannot at all present their reference to purposes, so far as this is a condition necessarily belonging to cause; for this necessity of connexion has to do altogether with the combination of our concepts and not with the constitution of things.
DIALECTIC OF THE TELEOLOGICAL JUDGEMENT
What is an antinomy of the Judgement?
The determinant Judgement has for itself no principles which are the foundation of concepts of Objects. It has no autonomy, for it subsumes only under given laws or concepts as principles. Hence it is exposed to no danger of an antinomy of its own or to a conflict of its principles. So [we saw that] the transcendental Judgement which contains the conditions of subsuming under categories was for itself not nomothetic, but that it only indicated the conditions of sensuous intuition, under which reality (application) can be supplied to a given concept, as law of the Understanding, whereby the Judgement could never fall into discord with itself (at least as far as its principles are concerned).
But the reflective Judgement must subsume under a law, which is not yet given, and is therefore in fact only a principle of reflection upon objects, for which we are objectively quite in want of a law or of a concept of an Object that would be adequate as a principle for the cases that occur. Since now no use of the cognitive faculties can be permitted without principles, the reflective Judgement must in such cases serve as a principle for itself. This, because it is not objective and can supply no ground of cognition of the Object adequate for design, must serve as a mere subjective principle, for the purposive employment of our cognitive faculties, i.e. for reflecting upon a class of objects. Therefore in reference to such cases the reflective Judgement has its maxims—necessary maxims—on behalf of the cognition of natural laws in experience, in order to attain by their means to concepts, even concepts of Reason; since it has absolute need of such in order to learn merely to cognise nature according to its empirical laws.— Between these necessary maxims of the reflective Judgement there may be a conflict and consequently an antinomy, upon which a Dialectic bases itself. If each of two conflicting maxims has its ground in the nature of the cognitive faculties, this may be called a natural Dialectic, and an unavoidable illusion which we must expose and resolve in our Critique, to the end that it may not deceive us.
Representation of this antinomy
So far as Reason has to do with nature, as the complex of objects of external sense, it can base itself partly upon laws which the Understanding itself prescribes a priori to nature, partly upon laws which it can extend indefinitely by means of the empirical determinations occurring in experience. To apply the former kind of laws, i.e. the universal laws of material nature in general, the Judgement needs no special principle of reflection, since it is there determinant because an objective principle is given to it through Understanding. But as regards the particular laws that can only be made known to us through experience, there can be under them such great manifoldness and diversity, that the Judgement must serve as its own principle in order to investigate and search into the phenomena of nature in accordance with a law. Such a guiding thread is needed, if we are only to hope for a connected empirical cognition according to a thoroughgoing conformity of nature to law, even its unity according to empirical laws. In this contingent unity of particular laws it may very well happen that the Judgement in its reflection proceeds from two maxims. One of these is suggested to it a priori by the mere Understanding; but the other is prompted by particular experiences, which bring the Reason into play in order to form a judgement upon corporeal nature and its laws in accordance with a particular principle. Hence it comes about that these two kinds of maxims seem to be incapable of existing together, and consequently a Dialectic arises which leads the Judgement into error in the principle of its reflection.
The first maxim of Judgement is the proposition: all production of material things and their forms must be judged to be possible according to merely mechanical laws.
The second maxim is the counter-proposition: some products of material nature cannot be judged to be possible according to merely mechanical laws. (To judge them requires quite a different law of causality, namely, that of final causes.)
If these regulative principles of investigation be converted into constitutive principles of the possibility of Objects, they will run thus:
Proposition: All production of material things is possible according to merely mechanical laws.
Counter-proposition: Some production of material things is not possible according to merely mechanical laws.
In this latter aspect, as objective principles for the determinant Judgement, they would contradict each other; and consequently one of the two propositions must necessarily be false. We shall then, it is true, have an antinomy, but not of Judgement; there will be a conflict in the legislation of Reason. Reason, however, can prove neither the one nor the other of these fundamental propositions, because we can have a priori no determinant principle of the possibility of things according to mere empirical laws of nature.
On the other hand, as regards the first-mentioned maxims of a reflective Judgement, they involve no contradiction in fact. For if I say, I must judge, according to merely mechanical laws, of the possibility of all events in material nature, and consequently of all forms regarded as its products, I do not therefore say: They are possible in this way alone (apart from any other kind of causality). All that is implied is: I must always reflect upon them according to the principle of the mere mechanism of nature, and consequently investigate this as far as I can; because unless this lies at the basis of investigation, there can be no proper knowledge of nature at all. But this does not prevent us, if occasion offers, from following out the second maxim in the case of certain natural forms (and even by occasion of these in the whole of nature), in order to reflect upon them according to the principle of final causes, which is quite a different thing from explaining them according to the mechanism of nature. Reflection in accordance with the first maxim is thus not abrogated; on the contrary, we are told to follow it as far as we can. Nor is it said that these forms would not be possible in accordance with the mechanism of nature. It is only asserted that human Reason in following up this maxim and in this way could never find the least ground for that which constitutes the specific [character] of a natural purpose, although it would increase its knowledge of natural laws. Thus it is left undecided whether or not in the unknown inner ground of nature, physico-mechanical and purposive combination may be united in the same things in one principle. We only say that our Reason is not in a position so to unite them; and that therefore the Judgement (as reflective—from subjective grounds, not as determinant, in consequence of an objective principle of the possibility of things in themselves) is compelled to think a different principle from that of natural mechanism as the ground of the possibility of certain forms in nature.
Preliminary to the solution of the above antinomy
We can in no way prove the impossibility of the production of organised natural products by the mere mechanism of nature, because we cannot see into the first inner ground of the infinite multiplicity of the particular laws of nature, which are contingent for us since they are only empirically known; and so we cannot arrive at the inner all-sufficient principle of the possibility of a nature (a principle which lies in the supersensible). Whether therefore the productive faculty of nature is sufficient for that which we judge to be formed or combined in accordance with the Idea of purposes, as well as for that which we believe to require merely a mechanical system [Maschinenwesen] of nature; or whether there lies at the basis of things which we must necessarily judge as properly natural purposes, a quite different kind of original causality, which cannot be contained in material nature or in its intelligible substrate, viz. an architectonic Understanding—this is a question to which our Reason, very narrowly limited in respect of the concept of causality if it is to be specified a priori, can give no answer whatever.— But it is just as certain and beyond doubt that, in regard to our cognitive faculties, the mere mechanism of nature can furnish no ground of explanation of the production of organised beings. For the reflective Judgement it is therefore a quite correct fundamental proposition, that for that connexion of things according to final causes which is so plain, there must be thought a causality distinct from that of mechanism, viz. that of an (intelligent) cause of the world acting in accordance with purposes; but for the determinant Judgement this would be a hasty and unprovable proposition. In the first case it is a mere maxim of the Judgement, wherein the concept of that causality is a mere Idea, to which we by no means undertake to concede reality, but which we use as a guide to reflection, which remains thereby always open to all mechanical grounds of explanation and does not withdraw out of the world of Sense. In the second case the proposition would be an objective principle prescribed by Reason, to which the determinant Judgement must subject itself, whereby however it withdraws beyond the world of Sense into the transcendent and perhaps is led into error.
All appearance of an antinomy between the maxims of the proper physical (mechanical) and the teleological (technical) methods of explanation rests therefore on this; that we confuse a fundamental proposition of the reflective with one of the determinant Judgement, and the autonomy of the first (which has mere subjective validity for our use of Reason in respect of particular empirical laws) with the heteronomy of the second, which must regulate itself according to laws (universal or particular) given to it by the Understanding.
Of the different systems which deal with the purposiveness of nature
No one has ever doubted the correctness of the proposition that judgement must be passed upon certain things of nature (organised beings) and their possibility in accordance with the concept of final causes, even if we only desire a guiding thread to learn how to cognise their constitution through observation, without aspiring to an investigation into their first origin. The question therefore can only be: whether this fundamental proposition is merely subjectively valid, i.e. is a mere maxim of our Judgement; or whether it is an objective principle of nature, in accordance with which, apart from its mechanism (according to the mere laws of motion), quite a different kind of causality attaches to it, viz. that of final causes, under which these laws (of moving forces) stand only as intermediate causes.
We could leave this question or problem quite undecided and unsolved speculatively; because if we content ourselves with speculation within the bounds of mere natural knowledge, we have enough in these maxims for the study of nature and for the tracking out of its hidden secrets, as far as human powers reach. There is then indeed a certain presentiment of our Reason or a hint as it were given us by nature, that, by means of this concept of final causes, we go beyond nature, and could unite it to the highest point in the series of causes, if we were to abandon or at least to lay aside for a time the investigation of nature (although we may not have advanced far in it), and seek thenceforth to find out whither this stranger in natural science, viz. the concept of natural purposes, would lead us.
But here these undisputed maxims pass over into problems opening out a wide field for difficulties. Does purposive connexion in nature prove a particular kind of causality? Or is it not rather, considered in itself and in accordance with objective principles, similar to the mechanism of nature, resting on one and the same ground? Only, as this ground in many natural products is often hidden too deep for our investigation, we make trial of a subjective principle, that of art, i.e. of causality according to Ideas, and we ascribe it to nature by analogy. This expedient succeeds in many cases, but seems in some to mislead, and in no case does it justify us in introducing into natural science a particular kind of operation quite distinct from the causality according to the mere mechanical laws of nature. We give the name of Technic to the procedure (the causality) of nature, on account of the appearance of purpose that we find in its products; and we shall divide this into designed (technica intentionalis) and undesigned (technica naturalis). The first is meant to signify that the productive faculty of nature according to final causes must be taken for a particular kind of causality; the second that it is at bottom quite similar to the mechanism of nature, and that its contingent agreement with our artistic concepts and their rules should be explained as a mere subjective condition of judging it, and not, falsely, as a particular kind of natural production.
If we now speak of systems explanatory of nature in regard of final causes, it must be remarked that they all controvert each other dogmatically, i.e. as to objective principles of the possibility of things, whether there are causes which act designedly or whether they are quite without design. They do not dispute as to the subjective maxims, by which we merely judge of the causes of such purposive products. In this latter case disparate principles could very well be unified; but in the former, contradictorily opposed laws annul each other and cannot subsist together.
There are two sorts of systems as to the Technic of nature, i.e. its productive power in accordance with the rule of purposes; viz. Idealism or Realism of natural purposes. The first maintains that all purposiveness of nature is undesigned; the second that some (in organised beings) is designed. From this latter the hypothetical consequence can be deduced that the Technic of Nature, as concerns all its other products in reference to the whole of nature, is also designed, i.e. is a purpose.
(1) The Idealism of purposiveness (I always understand here by this, objective purposiveness) is either that of the casuality or the fatality of the determination of nature in the purposive form of its products. The former principle treats of the reference of matter to the physical basis of its form, viz. the laws of motion; the second, its reference to the hyperphysical basis of itself and of the whole of nature. The system of casuality that is ascribed to Epicurus or Democritus is, taken literally, so plainly absurd that it need not detain us. Opposed to this is the system of fatality, of which Spinoza is taken as the author, although it is much older according to all appearance. This, as it appeals to something supersensible to which our insight does not extend, is not so easy to controvert; but that is because its concept of the original Being is not possible to understand. But so much is clear, that on this theory the purposive combination in the world must be taken as undesigned; for although derived from an original Being, it is not derived from its Understanding or from any design on its part, but rather from the necessity of its nature and of the world-unity which emanates therefrom. Consequently the Fatalism of purposiveness is at the same time an Idealism.
(2) The Realism of the purposiveness of nature is also either physical or hyperphysical. The former bases the purposes in nature, by the analogy of a faculty acting with design, on the life of matter (either its own or the life of an inner principle in it, a world-soul) and is called Hylozoism. The latter derives them from the original ground of the universe, as from an intelligent Being (originally living), who produces them with design, and is Theism.1
None of the above systems give what they pretend
What do all these systems desire? They desire to explain our teleological judgements about nature, and they go so to work therewith that some deny their truth and, consequently, explain them as an Idealism of Nature (represented as Art); others recognise them as true, and promise to establish the possibility of a nature in accordance with the Idea of final causes.
(1) The systems which defend the Idealism of final causes in nature grant, it is true, on the one hand to their principle a causality in accordance with the laws of motion (through which [causality] natural things exist purposively); but they deny to it intentionality, i.e. that it designedly determines itself to this its purposive production; in other words, they deny that the cause is a purpose. This is Epicurus’s method of explanation, according to which the distinction between a Technic of nature and mere mechanism is altogether denied. Blind chance is taken as the explanatory ground not only of the agreement of the developed products with our concepts of the purpose, and consequently of [nature’s] Technic; but also of the determination of the causes of this production in accordance with the laws of motion, and consequently of their mechanism. Thus nothing is explained, not even the illusion in our teleological judgements, and consequently, the would-be Idealism of these in no way established.
On the other hand, Spinoza wishes to dispense with all inquiries into the ground of the possibility of purposes of nature, and to take away all reality from this Idea. He allows their validity in general not as products but as accidents inhering in an original Being; and to this Being, as substrate of those natural things, he ascribes not causality in regard to them but mere subsistence. On account of its unconditioned necessity, and also that of all natural things as accidents inhering in it, he secures, it is true, to the forms of nature that unity of ground which is requisite for all purposiveness; but at the same time he tears away their contingence, without which no unity of purpose can be thought, and with it all design, inasmuch as he takes away all intelligence from the original ground of natural things.
But Spinozism does not furnish what it desires. It desires to afford an explanatory ground of the purposive connexion (which it does not deny) of the things of nature, and it merely speaks of the unity of the subject in which they all inhere. But even if we concede to it that the beings of the world exist in this way, such ontological unity is not therefore a unity of purpose, and does not make this in any way comprehensible. For this latter is a quite particular kind of unity which does not follow from the connexion of things (the beings of the world) in a subject (the original Being), but implies in itself reference to a cause which has Understanding; and even if we unite all these things in a simple subject, this never exhibits a purposive reference. For we do not think of them, first, as the inner effects of the substance, as if it were a cause; nor, secondly, of this cause as a cause producing effects by means of its Understanding. Without these formal conditions all unity is mere natural necessity; and, if it is ascribed as well to things which we represent as external to one another, blind necessity. But if we wish to give the name of purposiveness of nature to that which the schoolmen call the transcendental perfection of things (in reference to their proper being), according to which everything has in itself that which is requisite to make it one thing and not another, then we are only like children playing with words instead of concepts. For if all things must be thought as purposes, then to be a thing is the same as to be a purpose, and there is at bottom nothing which specially deserves to be represented as a purpose.
We hence see at once that Spinoza by his reducing our concepts of the purposive in nature to our own consciousness of existing in an all-embracing (though simple) Being, and by his seeking that form merely in the unity of this Being, must have intended to maintain not the realism, but the idealism of its purposiveness. Even this he was not able to accomplish, because the mere representation of the unity of the substrate cannot bring about the Idea of a purposiveness, even that which is only undesigned.
(2) Those who not only maintain the Realism of natural purposes, but also set about explaining it, believe that they can comprehend, at least as regards its possibility, a practical kind of causality, viz. that of causes working designedly; otherwise they could not undertake to supply this explanation. For to authorise even the most daring of hypotheses, at least the possibility of what we assume as basis must be certain, and we must be able to assure objective reality to its concept.
But the possibility of living matter cannot even be thought; its concept involves a contradiction because lifelessness, inertia, constitutes the essential character of matter. The possibility of matter endowed with life, and of collective nature regarded as an animal, can only be used in an inadequate way (in the interests of the hypothesis of purposiveness in the whole of nature), so far as it is manifested by experience in the organisation of nature on a small scale; but in no way can we have insight into its possibility a priori. There must then be a circle in the explanation, if we wish to derive the purposiveness of nature in organised beings from the life of matter, and yet only know this life in organised beings, and can form no concept of its possibility without experience of this kind. Hylozoism, therefore, does not furnish what it promises.
Finally, Theism can just as little establish dogmatically the possibility of natural purposes as a key to Teleology; although it certainly is superior to all other grounds of explanation in that, through the Understanding which it ascribes to the original Being, it rescues in the best way the purposiveness of nature from Idealism, and introduces a causality acting with design for its production.
But we must first prove satisfactorily to the determinant Judgement the impossibility of the unity of purpose in matter resulting from its mere mechanism, before we are justified in placing the ground of this beyond nature in a determinate way. We can, however, advance no further than this. In accordance with the constitution and limits of our cognitive faculties (whilst we do not comprehend even the first inner ground of this mechanism) we must in no wise seek in matter a principle of determinate purposive references; but no other way of judging of the origination of its products as natural purposes remains to us than that by means of a supreme Understanding as cause of the world. But this is only a ground for the reflective, not for the determinant Judgement, and can justify absolutely no objective assertion.
The reason that we cannot treat the concept of a Technic of nature dogmatically is the fact that a natural purpose is inexplicable
We deal with a concept dogmatically (even though it should be empirically conditioned) if we consider it as contained under another concept of the Object which constitutes a principle1 of Reason, and determine it in conformity with this. But we deal with it merely critically, if we consider it only in reference to our cognitive faculties and consequently to the subjective conditions of thinking it, without undertaking to decide anything about its Object. Dogmatic procedure with a concept is then that which is conformable to law for the determinant Judgement, critical procedure for the reflective Judgement.
Now the concept of a thing as a natural purpose is a concept which subsumes nature under a causality only thinkable through Reason, in order to judge in accordance with this principle about that which is given of the Object in experience. But in order to use it dogmatically for the determinant Judgement, we must be assured first of the objective reality of this concept, because otherwise we could subsume no natural thing under it. Again, the concept of a thing as a natural purpose is, no doubt, empirically conditioned, i.e. only possible under certain conditions given in experience, though not to be abstracted therefrom; but it is a concept only possible in accordance with a rational principle in the judgement about the object. Its objective reality, therefore (i.e. that an object in conformity with it is possible), cannot be comprehended and dogmatically established as such a principle; and we do not know whether it is merely a sophistical and objectively empty concept (conceptus ratiocinans), or a rational concept, establishing a cognition and confirmed by Reason (conceptus ratiocinatus).1 Therefore it cannot be dogmatically treated for the determinant Judgement, i.e. it is not only impossible to decide whether or not things of nature considered as natural purposes require for their production a causality of a quite peculiar kind (that acting on design); but the question cannot even be put, because the concept of a natural purpose is simply not susceptible of proof through Reason as regards its objective reality. That is, it is not constitutive for the determinant Judgement, but merely regulative for the reflective.
That it is not susceptible of proof is clear because (as concept of a natural product) it embraces in itself natural necessity, and at the same time (as purpose) a contingency of the form of the Object (in reference to the mere laws of nature) in the very same thing. Hence, if there is to be no contradiction here it must contain a ground for the possibility of the thing in nature, and also a ground of the possibility of this nature itself and of its reference to something which, not being empirically cognisable nature (supersensible), is therefore for us not cognisable at all. [This is requisite] if it is to be judged according to a different kind of causality from that of natural mechanism when we wish to establish its possibility. The concept of a thing, then, as a natural purpose, is transcendent for the determinant Judgement, if we consider the Object through Reason (although for the reflective Judgement it certainly may be immanent in respect of the objects of experience). Hence for determinant judgements objective reality cannot be supplied to it; and so it is intelligible how all systems that one may project for the dogmatic treatment of the concept of natural purposes and of nature itself [considered] as a whole connected together by means of final causes, can decide nothing either by objective affirmation or by objective denial. For if things be subsumed under a concept that is merely problematical, its synthetical predicates (e.g. in the question whether the purpose of nature which we conceive for the production of things is designed or undesigned) can furnish only problematical judgements of the Object, whether affirmative or negative; and we do not know whether we are judging about something or about nothing. The concept of a causality through purposes (of art) has at all events objective reality, and also the concept of a causality according to the mechanism of nature. But the concept of a causality of nature according to the rule of purposes,—still more of a Being such as cannot be given us in experience, a Being who is the original cause of nature,—though it can be thought without contradiction, yet is of no avail for dogmatic determinations. For, since it cannot be derived from experience, and also is not requisite for the possibility thereof, its objective reality can in no way be assured. But even if this could be done, how can I number among the products of nature things which are definitely accounted products of divine art, when it is just the incapacity of nature to produce such things according to its own laws that made it necessary to invoke a cause different from it?
The concept of an objective purposiveness of nature is a critical principle of Reason for the reflective Judgement
It is then one thing to say, “the production of certain things of nature or that of collective nature is only possible through a cause which determines itself to action according to design”; and quite another to say, “I can according to the peculiar constitution of my cognitive faculties judge concerning the possibility of these things and their production, in no other fashion than by conceiving for this a cause working according to design, i.e. a Being which is productive in a way analogous to the causality of an intelligence.” In the former case I wish to establish something concerning the Object, and am bound to establish the objective reality of an assumed concept; in the latter, Reason only determines the use of my cognitive faculties, conformably to their peculiarities and to the essential conditions of their range and their limits. Thus the former principle is an objective proposition for the determinant Judgement, the latter merely a subjective proposition for the reflective Judgement, i.e. a maxim which Reason prescribes to it.
We are in fact indispensably obliged to ascribe the concept of design to nature if we wish to investigate it, though only in its organised products, by continuous observation; and this concept is therefore an absolutely necessary maxim for the empirical use of our Reason. It is plain that once such a guiding thread for the study of nature is admitted and verified, we must at least try the said maxim of Judgement in nature as a whole; because thereby many of nature’s laws might discover themselves, which otherwise, on account of the limitation of our insight into its inner mechanism, would remain hidden. But though in regard to this latter employment that maxim of Judgement is certainly useful, it is not indispensable, for nature as a whole is not given as organised (in the narrow sense of the word above indicated). On the other hand, in regard to those natural products, which must be judged of as designed and not formed otherwise (if we are to have empirical knowledge of their inner constitution), this maxim of the reflective Judgement is essentially necessary; because the very thought of them as organised beings is impossible without combining therewith the thought of their designed production.
Now the concept of a thing whose existence or form we represent to ourselves as possible under the condition of a purpose is inseparably bound up with the concept of its contingency (according to natural laws). Hence the natural things that we find possible only as purposes supply the best proof of the contingency of the world-whole; to the common Understanding and to the philosopher alike they are the only valid ground of proof for its dependence on and origin from a Being existing outside the world—a Being who must also be intelligent on account of that purposive form. Teleology then finds the consummation of its investigations only in Theology.
But what now in the end does the most complete Teleology prove? Does it prove that there is such an intelligent Being? No. It only proves that according to the constitution of our cognitive faculties and in the consequent combination of experience with the highest principles of Reason, we can form absolutely no concept of the possibility of such a world [as this] save by thinking a designedly-working supreme cause thereof. Objectively we cannot therefore lay down the proposition, there is an intelligent original Being; but only subjectively, for the use of our Judgement in its reflection upon the purposes in nature, which can be thought according to no other principle than that of a designing causality of a highest cause.
If we wished to establish on teleological grounds the above proposition dogmatically we should be beset with difficulties from which we could not extricate ourselves. For then the proposition must at bottom be reduced to the conclusion, that the organised beings in the world are no otherwise possible than by a designedly-working cause. And we should unavoidably have to assert that, because we can follow up these things in their causal combination only under the Idea of purposes, and cognise them only according to their conformity to law, we are thereby justified in assuming this as a condition necessary for every thinking and cognising being—a condition consequently attaching to the Object and not merely to our subject. But such an assertion we do not succeed in sustaining. For, since we do not, properly speaking, observe the purposes in nature as designed, but only in our reflection upon its products think this concept as a guiding thread for our Judgement, they are not given to us through the Object. It is quite impossible for us a priori to vindicate, as capable of assumption, such a concept according to its objective reality. It remains therefore a proposition absolutely resting upon subjective conditions alone, viz. of the Judgement reflecting in conformity with our cognitive faculties. If we expressed this proposition dogmatically as objectively valid, it would be: “There is a God.” But for us men there is only permissible the limited formula: “We cannot otherwise think and make comprehensible the purposiveness which must lie at the bottom of our cognition of the internal possibility of many natural things, than by representing it and the world in general as a product of an intelligent cause, [a God].”1
Now if this proposition, based on an inevitably necessary maxim of our Judgement, is completely satisfactory from every human point of view for both the speculative and practical use of our Reason, I should like to know what we lose by not being able to prove it as also valid for higher beings, from objective grounds (which unfortunately are beyond our faculties). It is indeed quite certain that we cannot adequately cognise, much less explain, organised beings and their internal possibility, according to mere mechanical principles of nature; and we can say boldly it is alike certain that it is absurd for men to make any such attempt or to hope that another Newton will arise in the future, who shall make comprehensible by us the production of a blade of grass according to natural laws which no design has ordered.1 We must absolutely deny this insight to men. But then how do we know that in nature, if we could penetrate to the principle by which it specifies the universal laws known to us, there cannot lie hidden (in its mere mechanism) a sufficient ground of the possibility of organised beings without supposing any design in their production? would it not be judged by us presumptuous to say this? Probabilities here are of no account when we have to do with judgements of pure Reason.— We cannot therefore judge objectively, either affirmatively or negatively, concerning the proposition: “Does a Being acting according to design lie at the basis of what we rightly call natural purposes, as the cause of the world (and consequently as its author)?” So much only is sure, that if we are to judge according to what is permitted us to see by our own proper nature (the conditions and limitations of our Reason), we can place at the basis of the possibility of these natural purposes nothing else than an intelligent Being. This alone is in conformity with the maxim of our reflective Judgement and therefore with a ground which, though subjective, is inseparably attached to the human race.
This consideration, which very well deserves to be worked out in detail in Transcendental Philosophy, can come in here only in passing, by way of elucidation (not as a proof of what is here proposed).
Reason is a faculty of principles and proceeds in its extremest advance to the unconditioned; on the other hand, the Understanding stands at its service always only under a certain condition which must be given. But without concepts of Understanding, to which objective reality must be given, the Reason cannot form any objective (synthetical) judgement; and contains in itself, as theoretical Reason, absolutely no constitutive but merely regulative principles. We soon see that where the Understanding cannot follow, the Reason is transcendent, and shows itself in Ideas formerly established (as regulative principles), but not in objectively valid concepts. But the Understanding which cannot keep pace with Reason but yet is requisite for the validity of Objects, limits the validity of these Ideas to the subject, although [extending it] generally to all [subjects] of this kind. That is, the Understanding limits their validity to the condition, that according to the nature of our (human) cognitive faculties, or, generally, according to the concept which we ourselves can make of the faculty of a finite intelligent being, nothing else can or must be thought; though this is not to assert that the ground of such a judgement lies in the Object. We shall adduce some examples which, though they are too important and difficult to impose them on the reader as proved propositions, yet will give him material for thought and may serve to elucidate what we are here specially concerned with.
It is indispensably necessary for the human Understanding to distinguish between the possibility and the actuality of things. The ground for this lies in the subject and in the nature of our cognitive faculties. Such a distinction (between the possible and the actual) would not be given were there not requisite for knowledge two quite different elements, Understanding for concepts and sensible intuition for Objects corresponding to them. If our Understanding were intuitive it would have no objects but those which are actual. Concepts (which merely extend to the possibility of an object) and sensible intuitions (which give us something without allowing us to cognise it thus as an object) would both disappear. But now the whole of our distinction between the merely possible and the actual rests on this, that the former only signifies the positing of the representation of a thing in respect of our concept, and, in general, in respect of the faculty of thought; while the latter signifies the positing of the thing in itself [outside this concept].1 The distinction, then, of possible things from actual is one which has merely subjective validity for the human Understanding, because we can always have a thing in our thoughts although it is [really] nothing, or we can represent a thing as given although we have no concept of it. The propositions therefore — that things can be possible without being actual, and that consequently no conclusion can be drawn as to actuality from mere possibility—are quite valid for human Reason, without thereby proving that this distinction lies in things themselves. That this does not follow, and that consequently these propositions, though valid of Objects (in so far as our cognitive faculty, as sensuously conditioned, busies itself with Objects of sense), do not hold for things in general, appears from the irrepressible demand of Reason to assume something (the original ground) necessarily existing as unconditioned, in which possibility and actuality should no longer be distinguished, and for which Idea our Understanding has absolutely no concept; i.e. it can find no way of representing such a thing and its manner of existence. For if the Understanding thinks such a thing (which it may do at pleasure), the thing is merely represented as possible. If it is conscious of it as given in intuition, then is it actual; but nothing as to its possibility is thus thought. Hence the concept of an absolutely necessary Being is no doubt an indispensable Idea of Reason, but yet it is a problematical concept unattainable by the human Understanding. It is indeed valid for the employment of our cognitive faculties in accordance with their peculiar constitution, but not valid of the Object. Nor is it valid for every knowing being, because I cannot presuppose in every such being thought and intuition as two distinct conditions of the exercise of its cognitive faculties, and consequently as conditions of the possibility and actuality of things. An Understanding into which this distinction did not enter, might say: All Objects that I know are, i.e. exist; and the possibility of some, which yet do not exist (i.e. the contingency or the contrasted necessity of those which do exist), might never come into the representation of such a being at all. But what makes it difficult for our Understanding to treat its concepts here as Reason does, is merely that for it, as human Understanding, that is transcendent (i.e. impossible for the subjective conditions of its cognition) which Reason makes into a principle appertaining to the Object.— Here the maxim always holds, that all Objects whose cognition surpasses the faculty of the Understanding are thought by us according to the subjective conditions of the exercise of that faculty which necessarily attach to our (human) nature. If judgements laid down in this way (and there is no other alternative in regard to transcendent concepts) cannot be constitutive principles determining the Object as it is, they will remain regulative principles adapted to the human point of view, immanent in their exercise and sure.
Just as Reason in the theoretical consideration of nature must assume the Idea of an unconditioned necessity of its original ground, so also it presupposes in the practical [sphere] its own (in respect of nature) unconditioned causality, or freedom, in that it is conscious of its own moral command. Here the objective necessity of the act, as a duty, is opposed to that necessity which it would have as an event, if its ground lay in nature and not in freedom (i.e. in the causality of Reason). The morally absolutely necessary act is regarded as physically quite contingent, since that which ought necessarily to happen often does not happen. It is clear then that it is owing to the subjective constitution of our practical faculty that the moral laws must be represented as commands, and the actions conforming to them as duties; and that Reason expresses this necessity not by an “is” (happens), but by an “ought to be.” This would not be the case were Reason considered as in its causality independent of sensibility (as the subjective condition of its application to objects of nature), and so as cause in an intelligible world entirely in agreement with the moral law. For in such a world there would be no distinction between “ought to do” and “does,” between a practical law of that which is possible through us, and the theoretical law of that which is actual through us. Though, therefore, an intelligible world in which everything would be actual merely because (as something good) it is possible, together with freedom as its formal condition, is for us a transcendent concept, not available as a constitutive principle to determine an Object and its objective reality; yet, because of the constitution of our (in part sensuous) nature and faculty it is, so far as we can represent it in accordance with the constitution of our Reason, for us and for all rational beings that have a connexion with the world of sense, a universal regulative principle. This principle does not objectively determine the constitution of freedom, as a form of causality, but it makes the rule of actions according to that Idea a command for every one, with no less validity than if it did so determine it.
In the same way we may concede thus much as regards the case in hand. Between natural mechanism and the Technic of nature, i.e. its purposive connexion, we should find no distinction, were it not that our Understanding is of the kind that must proceed from the universal to the particular. The Judgement then in respect of the particular can cognise no purposiveness and, consequently, can form no determinant judgements, without having a universal law under which to subsume that particular. Now the particular, as such, contains something contingent in respect of the universal, while yet Reason requires unity and conformity to law in the combination of particular laws of nature. This conformity of the contingent to law is called purposiveness; and the derivation of particular laws from the universal, as regards their contingent element, is impossible a priori through a determination of the concept of the Object. Hence, the concept of the purposiveness of nature in its products is necessary for human Judgement in respect of nature, but has not to do with the determination of Objects. It is, therefore, a subjective principle of Reason for the Judgement, which as regulative (not constitutive) is just as necessarily valid for our human Judgement as if it were an objective principle.
Of the peculiarity of the human Understanding, by means of which the concept of a natural purpose is possible
We have brought forward in the Remark peculiarities of our cognitive faculties (even the higher ones) which we are easily led to transfer as objective predicates to the things themselves. But they concern Ideas, no object adequate to which can be given in experience, and they could only serve as regulative principles in the pursuit of experience. This is the case with the concept of a natural purpose, which concerns the cause of the possibility of such a predicate, which cause can only lie in the Idea. But the result corresponding to it (i.e. the product) is given in nature; and the concept of a causality of nature as of a being acting according to purposes seems to make the Idea of a natural purpose into a constitutive principle, which Idea has thus something different from all other Ideas.
This difference consists, however, in the fact that the Idea in question is not a rational principle for the Understanding but for the Judgement. It is, therefore, merely the application of an Understanding in general to possible objects of experience, in cases where the judgement can only be reflective, not determinant, and where, consequently, the object, although given in experience, cannot be determinately judged in conformity with the Idea (not to say with complete adequacy), but can only be reflected on.
There emerges, therefore, a peculiarity of our (human) Understanding in respect of the Judgement in its reflection upon things of nature. But if this be so, the Idea of a possible Understanding different from the human must be fundamental here. (Just so in the Critique of Pure Reason we must have in our thoughts another possible [kind of] intuition, if ours is to be regarded as a particular species for which objects are only valid as phenomena.) And so we are able to say: Certain natural products, from the special constitution of our Understanding, must be considered by us, in regard to their possibility, as if produced designedly and as purposes. But we do not, therefore, demand that there should be actually given a particular cause which has the representation of a purpose as its determining ground; and we do not deny that an Understanding, different from (i.e. higher than) the human, might find the ground of the possibility of such products of nature in the mechanism of nature, i.e. in a causal combination for which an Understanding is not explicitly assumed as cause.
We have now to do with the relation of our Understanding to the Judgement; viz. we seek for a certain contingency in the constitution of our Understanding, to which we may point as a peculiarity distinguishing it from other possible Understandings.
This contingency is found, naturally enough, in the particular, which the Judgement is to bring under the universal of the concepts of Understanding. For the universal of our (human) Understanding does not determine the particular, and it is contingent in how many ways different things which agree in a common characteristic may come before our perception. Our Understanding is a faculty of concepts, i.e. a discursive Understanding, for which it obviously must be contingent of what kind and how very different the particular may be that can be given to it in nature and brought under its concepts. But now intuition also belongs to knowledge, and a faculty of a complete spontaneity of intuition would be a cognitive faculty distinct from sensibility, and quite independent of it, in other words, an Understanding in the most general sense. Thus we can think an intuitive Understanding [negatively, merely as not discursive1 ], which does not proceed from the universal to the particular, and so to the individual (through concepts). For it that contingency of the accordance of nature in its products according to particular laws with the Understanding would not be met with; and it is this contingency that makes it so hard for our Understanding to reduce the manifold of nature to the unity of knowledge. This reduction our Understanding can only accomplish by bringing natural characteristics into a very contingent correspondence with our faculty of concepts, of which an intuitive Understanding would have no need.
Our Understanding has then this peculiarity as concerns the Judgement, that in cognition by it the particular is not determined by the universal and cannot therefore be derived from it; but at the same time this particular in the manifold of nature must accord with the universal (by means of concepts and laws) so that it may be capable of being subsumed under it. This accordance under such circumstances must be very contingent and without definite principle as concerns the Judgement.
In order now to be able at least to think the possibility of such an accordance of things of nature with our Judgement (which accordance we represent as contingent and consequently as only possible by means of a purpose directed thereto), we must at the same time think of another Understanding, by reference to which and apart from any purpose ascribed to it, we may represent as necessary that accordance of natural laws with our Judgement, which for our Understanding is only thinkable through the medium of purposes.
In fact our Understanding has the property of proceeding in its cognition, e.g. of the cause of a product, from the analytical-universal (concepts) to the particular (the given empirical intuition). Thus as regards the manifold of the latter it determines nothing, but must await this determination by the Judgement, which subsumes the empirical intuition (if the object is a natural product) under the concept. We can however think an Understanding which, being, not like ours, discursive, but intuitive, proceeds from the synthetical-universal (the intuition of a whole as such) to the particular, i.e. from the whole to the parts. The contingency of the combination of the parts, in order that a definite form of the whole shall be possible, is not implied by such an Understanding and its representation of the whole. Our Understanding requires this because it must proceed from the parts as universally conceived grounds to different forms possible to be subsumed under them, as consequences. According to the constitution of our Understanding a real whole of nature is regarded only as the effect of the concurrent motive powers of the parts. Suppose then that we wish not to represent the possibility of the whole as dependent on that of the parts (after the manner of our discursive Understanding), but according to the standard of the intuitive (original) Understanding to represent the possibility of the parts (according to their constitution and combination) as dependent on that of the whole. In accordance with the above peculiarity of our Understanding it cannot happen that the whole shall contain the ground of the possibility of the connexion of the parts (which would be a contradiction in discursive cognition), but only that the representation of a whole may contain the ground of the possibility of its form and the connexion of the parts belonging to it. Now such a whole would be an effect (product) the representation of which is regarded as the cause of its possibility; but the product of a cause whose determining ground is merely the representation of its effect is called a purpose. Hence it is merely a consequence of the particular constitution of our Understanding, that it represents products of nature as possible, according to a different kind of causality from that of the natural laws of matter, namely, that of purposes and final causes. Hence also this principle has not to do with the possibility of such things themselves (even when considered as phenomena) according to the manner of their production, but merely with the judgement upon them which is possible to our Understanding. Here we see at once why it is that in natural science we are not long contented with an explanation of the products of nature by a causality according to purposes. For there we desire to judge of natural production merely in a manner conformable to our faculty of judging, i.e. to the reflective Judgement, and not in reference to things themselves on behalf of the determinant Judgement. It is here not at all requisite to prove that such an intellectus archetypus is possible, but only that we are led to the Idea of it,—which contains no contradiction,—in contrast to our discursive Understanding which has need of images (intellectus ectypus) and to the contingency of its constitution.
If we consider a material whole, according to its form, as a product of the parts with their powers and faculties of combining with one another (as well as of bringing in foreign materials), we represent to ourselves a mechanical mode of producing it. But in this way no concept emerges of a whole as purpose, whose internal possibility presupposes throughout the Idea of a whole on which depend the constitution and mode of action of the parts, as we must represent to ourselves an organised body. It does not follow indeed, as has been shown, that the mechanical production of such a body is impossible; for to say so would be to say that it would be impossible (contradictory) for any Understanding to represent to itself such a unity in the connexion of the manifold, without the Idea of the unity being at the same time its producing cause, i.e. without designed production. This, however, would follow in fact if we were justified in regarding material beings as things in themselves. For then the unity that constitutes the ground of the possibility of natural formations would be simply the unity of space. But space is no real ground of the products, but only their formal condition, although it has this similarity to the real ground which we seek that in it no part can be determined except in relation to the whole (the representation of which therefore lies at the ground of the possibility of the parts). But now it is at least possible to consider the material world as mere phenomenon, and to think as its substrate something like a thing in itself (which is not phenomenon), and to attach to this a corresponding intellectual intuition (even though it is not ours). Thus there would be, although incognisable by us, a supersensible real ground for nature, to which we ourselves belong. In this we consider according to mechanical laws what is necessary in nature regarded as an object of Sense; but we consider according to teleological laws the agreement and unity of its particular laws and its forms—which in regard to mechanism we must judge contingent—regarded as objects of Reason (in fact the whole of nature as a system). Thus we should judge nature according to two different kinds of principles without the mechanical way of explanation being shut out by the teleological, as if they contradicted one another.
From this we are enabled to see what otherwise, though we could easily surmise it, could with difficulty be maintained with certainty and proved, viz. that the principle of a mechanical derivation of purposive natural products is consistent with the teleological, but in no way enables us to dispense with it. In a thing that we must judge as a natural purpose (an organised being) we can no doubt try all the known and yet to be discovered laws of mechanical production, and even hope to make good progress therewith; but we can never get rid of the call for a quite different ground of production for the possibility of such a product, viz. causality by means of purposes. Absolutely no human Reason (in fact no finite Reason like ours in quality, however much it may surpass it in degree) can hope to understand the production of even a blade of grass by mere mechanical causes. As regards the possibility of such an object, the teleological connexion of causes and effects is quite indispensable for the Judgement, even for studying it by the clue of experience. For external objects as phenomena an adequate ground related to purposes cannot be met with; this, although it lies in nature, must only be sought in the supersensible substrate of nature, from all possible insight into which we are cut off. Hence it is absolutely impossible for us to produce from nature itself grounds of explanation for purposive combinations; and it is necessary by the constitution of the human cognitive faculties to seek the supreme ground of these purposive combinations in an original Understanding as the cause of the world.
Of the union of the principle of the universal mechanism of matter with the teleological principle in the Technic of nature.
It is infinitely important for Reason not to let slip the mechanism of nature in its products, and in their explanation not to pass it by, because without it no insight into the nature of things can be attained. Suppose it admitted that a supreme Architect immediately created the forms of nature as they have been from the beginning, or that He predetermined those which in the course of nature continually form themselves on the same model. Our knowledge of nature is not thus in the least furthered, because we cannot know the mode of action of that Being and the Ideas which are to contain the principles of the possibility of natural beings, and we cannot by them explain nature as from above downwards (a priori). And if, starting from the forms of the objects of experience, from below upwards (a posteriori), we wish to explain the purposiveness, which we believe is met with in experience, by appealing to a cause working in accordance with purposes, then is our explanation quite tautological and we are only mocking Reason with words. Indeed when we lose ourselves with this way of explanation in the transcendent, whither natural knowledge cannot follow, Reason is seduced into poetical extravagance, which it is its peculiar destination to avoid.
On the other hand, it is just as necessary a maxim of Reason not to pass by the principle of purposes in the products of nature. For, although it does not make their mode of origination any more comprehensible, yet it is a heuristic principle for investigating the particular laws of nature; supposing even that we wish to make no use of it for explaining nature itself,—in which we still always speak only of natural purposes, although it apparently exhibits a designed unity of purpose,—i.e. without seeking beyond nature the ground of the possibility of these particular laws. But since we must come in the end to this latter question, it is just as necessary to think for nature a particular kind of causality which does not present itself in it, as the mechanism of natural causes which does. To the receptivity of several forms, different from those of which matter is susceptible by mechanism, must be added a spontaneity of a cause (which therefore cannot be matter), without which no ground can be assigned for those forms. No doubt Reason, before it takes this step, must proceed with caution, and not try to explain teleologically every Technic of nature, i.e. every productive faculty of nature which displays in itself (as in regular bodies) purposiveness of figure to our mere apprehension; but must always regard such as so far mechanically possible. But on that account to wish entirely to exclude the teleological principle, and to follow simple mechanism only—in cases where, in the rational investigation of the possibility of natural forms through their causes, purposiveness shows itself quite undeniably as the reference to a different kind of causality—to do this must make Reason fantastic, and send it wandering among chimeras of unthinkable natural faculties; just as a mere teleological mode of explanation which takes no account of natural mechanism makes it visionary.
In the same natural thing both principles cannot be connected as fundamental propositions of explanation (deduction) of one by the other, i.e. they do not unite for the determinant Judgement as dogmatical and constitutive principles of insight into nature. If I choose, e.g. to regard a maggot as the product of the mere mechanism of nature (of the new formation that it produces of itself, when its elements are set free by corruption), I cannot derive the same product from the same matter as from a causality that acts according to purposes. Conversely, if I regard the same product as a natural purpose, I cannot count on any mechanical mode of its production and regard this as the constitutive principle of my judgement upon its possibility, and so unite both principles. One method of explanation excludes the other; even supposing that objectively both grounds of the possibility of such a product rested on a single ground, to which we did not pay attention. The principle which should render possible the compatibility of both in judging of nature must be placed in that which lies outside both (and consequently outside the possible empirical representation of nature), but yet contains their ground, i.e. in the supersensible; and each of the two methods of explanation must be referred thereto. Now of this we can have no concept but the indeterminate concept of a ground, which makes the judging of nature by empirical laws possible, but which we cannot determine more nearly by any predicate. Hence the union of both principles cannot rest upon a ground of explanation of the possibility of a product according to given laws, for the determinant Judgement, but only upon a ground of its exposition for the reflective Judgement.— To explain is to derive from a principle, which therefore we must clearly know and of which we can give an account. No doubt the principle of the mechanism of nature and that of its causality in one and the same natural product must coalesce in a single higher principle, which is their common source, because otherwise they could not subsist side by side in the observation of nature. But if this principle, objectively common to the two, which therefore warrants the association of the maxims of natural investigation depending on both, be such that, though it can be pointed to, it cannot be determinately known nor clearly put forward for use in cases which arise, then from such a principle we can draw no explanation, i.e. no clear and determinate derivation of the possibility of a natural product in accordance with those two heterogeneous principles. But now the principle common to the mechanical and teleological derivations is the supersensible, which we must place at the basis of nature, regarded as phenomenon. And of this, in a theoretical point of view, we cannot form the smallest positive determinate concept. It cannot, therefore, in any way be explained how, according to it as principle, nature (in its particular laws) constitutes for us one system, which can be cognised as possible either by the principle of physical development or by that of final causes. If it happens that objects of nature present themselves which cannot be thought by us, as regards their possibility, according to the principle of mechanism (which always has a claim on a natural being), without relying on teleological propositions, we can only make an hypothesis. Namely, we suppose that we may hopefully investigate natural laws with reference to both (according as the possibility of its product is cognisable by our Understanding by one or the other principle), without stumbling at the apparent contradiction which comes into view between the principles by which they are judged. For at least the possibility is assured that both may be united objectively in one principle, since they concern phenomena that presuppose a supersensible ground.
Mechanism, then, and the teleological (designed) Technic of nature, in respect of the same product and its possibility, may stand under a common supreme principle of nature in particular laws. But since this principle is transcendent we cannot, because of the limitation of our Understanding, unite both principles in the explanation of the same production of nature even if the inner possibility of this product is only intelligible [verständlich] through a causality according to purposes (as is the case with organised matter). We revert then to the above fundamental proposition of Teleology. According to the constitution of the human Understanding, no other than designedly working causes can be assumed for the possibility of organised beings in nature; and the mere mechanism of nature cannot be adequate to the explanation of these its products. But we do not attempt to decide anything by this fundamental proposition as to the possibility of such things themselves.
This is only a maxim of the reflective, not of the determinant Judgement; consequently only subjectively valid for us, not objectively for the possibility of things themselves of this kind (in which both kinds of production may well cohere in one and the same ground). Further, without any concept,—besides the teleologically conceived method of production,—of a simultaneously presented mechanism of nature, no judgement can be passed on this kind of production as a natural product. Hence the above maxim leads to the necessity of an unification of both principles in judging of things as natural purposes in themselves, but does not lead us to substitute one for the other either altogether or in certain parts. For in the place of what is thought (at least by us) as possible only by design we cannot set mechanism, and in the place of what is cognised as mechanically necessary we cannot set contingency, which would need a purpose as its determining ground; but we can only subordinate the one (Mechanism) to the other (designed Technic), which may quite well be the case according to the transcendental principle of the purposiveness of nature.
For where purposes are thought as grounds of the possibility of certain things, we must assume also means, whose law of working requires for itself nothing presupposing a purpose,—a mechanical law—and yet can be a subordinate cause of designed effects. Thus — in the organic products of nature, and specially when prompted by their infinite number, we assume (at least as a permissible hypothesis) design in the combination of natural causes by particular laws as a universal principle of the reflective Judgement for the whole of nature (the world),—we can think a great and indeed universal combination of mechanical with teleological laws in the productions of nature, without interchanging the principles by which they are judged or putting one in the place of the other. For, in a teleological judgement, the matter, even if the form that it assumes be judged possible only by design, can also, conformably to the mechanical laws of its nature, be subordinated as a means to the represented purpose. But, since the ground of this compatibility lies in that which is neither one nor the other (neither mechanism nor purposive combination), but is the supersensible substrate of nature of which we know nothing, the two ways of representing the possibility of such Objects are not to be blended together by our (human) Reason. However, we cannot judge of their possibility otherwise than by judging them as ultimately resting on a supreme Understanding by the connexion of final causes; and thus the teleological method of explanation is not eliminated.
Now it is quite indeterminate, and for our Understanding always indeterminable, how much the mechanism of nature does as a means towards each final design in nature. However, on account of the above-mentioned intelligible principle of the possibility of a nature in general, it may be assumed that it is possible throughout according to the two kinds of universally accordant laws (the physical and those of final causes), although we cannot see into the way how this takes place. Hence we do not know how far the mechanical method of explanation which is possible for us may extend. So much only is certain that, so far as we can go in this direction, it must always be inadequate for things that we once recognise as natural purposes; and therefore we must, by the constitution of our Understanding, subordinate these grounds collectively to a teleological principle.
Hereon is based a privilege, and on account of the importance which the study of nature by the principle of mechanism has for the theoretical use of our Reason, also an appeal. We should explain all products and occurrences in nature, even the most purposive, by mechanism as far as is in our power (the limits of which we cannot specify in this kind of investigation). But at the same time we are not to lose sight of the fact that those things which we cannot even state for investigation except under the concept of a purpose of Reason, must, in conformity with the essential constitution of our Reason, mechanical causes notwithstanding, be subordinated by us finally to causality in accordance with purposes.
METHODOLOGY OF THE TELEOLOGICAL JUDGEMENT.1
Whether teleology must be treated as if it belonged to the doctrine of nature
Every science must have its definite position in the encyclopaedia of all the sciences. If it is a philosophical science its position must be either in the theoretical or practical part. If again it has its place in the former of these, it must be either in the doctrine of nature, so far as it concerns that which can be an object of experience (in the doctrine of bodies, the doctrine of the soul, or the universal science of the world), or in the doctrine of God (the original ground of the world as the complex of all objects of experience).
Now the question is, what place is due to Teleology? Does it belong to Natural Science (properly so called) or to Theology? One of the two it must be; for no science belongs to the transition from one to the other, because this transition only marks the articulation or organisation of the system, and not a place in it.
That it does not belong to Theology as a part thereof, although it may be made of the most important use therein, is self-evident. For it has as its objects, natural productions, and their cause, and although it refers at the same time to the latter as to a ground lying outside of and beyond nature (a Divine Author), yet it does not do this for the determinant but only for the reflective Judgement in the consideration of nature (in order to guide our judgement on things in the world by means of such an Idea as a regulative principle, in conformity with the human Understanding).
But it appears to belong just as little to Natural Science, which needs determinant and not merely reflective principles in order to supply objective grounds for natural effects. In fact, nothing is gained for the theory of nature or the mechanical explanation of its phenomena by means of its effective causes, by considering them as connected according to the relation of purposes. The exhibition of the purposes of nature in its products, so far as they constitute a system according to teleological concepts, properly belongs only to a description of nature which is drawn up in accordance with a particular guiding thread. Here Reason, no doubt, accomplishes a noble work, instructive and practically purposive in many points of view; but it gives no information as to the origin and the inner possibility of these forms, which is the special business of theoretical Natural Science. Teleology, therefore, as science, belongs to no Doctrine, but only to Criticism; and to the criticism of a special cognitive faculty, viz. Judgement. But so far as it contains principles a priori, it can and must furnish the method by which nature must be judged according to the principle of final causes. Hence its Methodology has at least negative influence upon the procedure in theoretical Natural Science, and also upon the relation which this can have in Metaphysic to Theology as its propaedeutic.
Of the necessary subordination of the mechanical to the teleological principle in the explanation of a thing as a natural purpose.
The privilege of aiming at a merely mechanical method of explanation of all natural products is in itself quite unlimited; but the faculty of attaining thereto is by the constitution of our Understanding, so far as it has to do with things as natural purposes, not only very much limited but also clearly bounded. For, according to a principle of the Judgement, by this process alone nothing can be accomplished towards an explanation of these things; and consequently the judgement upon such products must always be at the same time subordinated by us to a teleological principle.
It is therefore rational, even meritorious, to pursue natural mechanism, in respect of the explanation of natural products, so far as can be done with probability; and if we give up the attempt it is not because it is impossible in itself to meet in this path with the purposiveness of nature, but only because it is impossible for us as men. For there would be required for that an intuition other than sensuous, and a determinate knowledge of the intelligible substrate of nature from which a ground could be assigned for the mechanism of phenomena according to particular laws, which quite surpasses our faculties.
Hence if the naturalist would not waste his labour he must in judging of things, the concept of any of which is indubitably established as a natural purpose (organised beings), always lay down as basis an original organisation, which uses that very mechanism in order to produce fresh organised forms or to develop the existing ones into new shapes (which, however, always result from that purpose and conformably to it).
It is praiseworthy by the aid of comparative anatomy to go through the great creation of organised natures, in order to see whether there may not be in it something similar to a system and also in accordance with the principle of production. For otherwise we should have to be content with the mere principle of judgement (which gives no insight into their production) and, discouraged, to give up all claim to natural insight in this field. The agreement of so many genera of animals in a certain common schema, which appears to be fundamental not only in the structure of their bones but also in the disposition of their remaining parts,—so that with an admirable simplicity of original outline, a great variety of species has been produced by the shortening of one member and the lengthening of another, the involution of this part and the evolution of that,—allows a ray of hope, however faint, to penetrate into our minds, that here something may be accomplished by the aid of the principle of the mechanism of nature (without which there can be no natural science in general). This analogy of forms, which with all their differences seem to have been produced according to a common original type, strengthens our suspicions of an actual relationship between them in their production from a common parent, through the gradual approximation of one animal-genus to another—from those in which the principle of purposes seems to be best authenticated, i.e. from man, down to the polype, and again from this down to mosses and lichens, and finally to the lowest stage of nature noticeable by us, viz. to crude matter. And so the whole Technic of nature, which is so incomprehensible to us in organised beings that we believe ourselves compelled to think a different principle for it, seems to be derived from matter and its powers according to mechanical laws (like those by which it works in the formation of crystals).
Here it is permissible for the archaeologist of nature to derive from the surviving traces of its oldest revolutions, according to all its mechanism known or supposed by him, that great family of creatures (for so we must represent them if the said thoroughgoing relationship is to have any ground). He can suppose the bosom of mother earth, as she passed out of her chaotic state (like a great animal), to have given birth in the beginning to creatures of less purposive form, that these again gave birth to others which formed themselves with greater adaptation to their place of birth and their relations to each other; until this womb becoming torpid and ossified, limited its births to definite species not further modifiable, and the manifoldness remained as it was at the end of the operation of that fruitful formative power.— Only he must still in the end ascribe to this universal mother an organisation purposive in respect of all these creatures; otherwise it would not be possible to think the possibility of the purposive form of the products of the animal and vegetable kingdoms.1 He has then only pushed further back the ground of explanation and cannot pretend to have made the development of those two kingdoms independent of the condition of final causes.
Even as concerns the variation to which certain individuals of organised genera are accidentally subjected, if we find that the character so changed is hereditary and is taken up into the generative power, then we cannot pertinently judge the variation to be anything else than an occasional development of purposive capacities originally present in the species with a view to the preservation of the race. For in the complete inner purposiveness of an organised being, the generation of its like is closely bound up with the condition of taking nothing up into the generative power which does not belong, in such a system of purposes, to one of its undeveloped original capacities. Indeed, if we depart from this principle, we cannot know with certainty whether several parts of the form which is now apparent in a species have not a contingent and unpurposive origin; and the principle of Teleology, to judge nothing in an organised being as unpurposive which maintains it in its propagation, would be very unreliable in its application and would be valid solely for the original stock (of which we have no further knowledge).
Hume1 takes exception to those who find it requisite to assume for all such natural purposes a teleological principle of judgement, i.e. an architectonic Understanding. He says that it may fairly be asked: how is such an Understanding possible? How can the manifold faculties and properties that constitute the possibility of an Understanding, which has at the same time executive force, be found so purposively together in one Being? But this objection is without weight. For the whole difficulty which surrounds the question concerning the first production of a thing containing in itself purposes and only comprehensible by means of them, rests on the further question as to the unity of the ground of the combination in this product of the various elements [des Mannichfaltigen] which are external to one another. For if this ground be placed in the Understanding of a producing cause as simple substance, the question, so far as it is teleological, is sufficiently answered; but if the cause be sought merely in matter as an aggregate of many substances external to one another, the unity of the principle is quite wanting for the internally purposive form of its formation, and the autocracy of matter in productions which can only be conceived by our Understanding as purposes is a word without meaning.
Hence it comes to pass that those who seek a supreme ground of possibility for the objectively-purposive forms of matter, without attributing to it Understanding, either make the world-whole into a single all-embracing substance (Pantheism), or (which is only a more determinate explanation of the former) into a complex of many determinations inhering in a single simple substance (Spinozism); merely in order to satisfy that condition of all purposiveness—the unity of ground. Thus they do justice indeed to one condition of the problem, viz. the unity in the purposive combination, by means of the mere ontological concept of a simple substance; but they adduce nothing for the other condition, viz. the relation of this substance to its result as purpose, through which relation that ontological ground is to be more closely determined in respect of the question at issue. Hence they answer the whole question in no way. It remains absolutely unanswerable (for our Reason) if we do not represent that original ground of things, as simple substance; its property which has reference to the specific constitution of the forms of nature grounded thereon, viz. its purposive unity, as the property of an intelligent substance; and the relation of these forms to this intelligence (on account of the contingency which we ascribe to everything that we think possible only as a purpose) as that of causality.
Of the association of mechanism with the teleological principle in the explanation of a natural purpose as a natural product.
According to the preceding paragraphs the mechanism of nature alone does not enable us to think the possibility of an organised being; but (at least according to the constitution of our cognitive faculty) it must be originally subordinated to a cause working designedly. But, just as little is the mere teleological ground of such a being sufficient for considering it and judging it as a product of nature, if the mechanism of the latter be not associated with the former, like the instrument of a cause working designedly, to whose purposes nature is subordinated in its mechanical laws. The possibility of such a unification of two quite different kinds of causality,—of nature in its universal conformity to law with an Idea which limits it to a particular form, for which it contains no ground in itself—is not comprehended by our Reason. It lies in the supersensible substrate of nature, of which we can determine nothing positively, except that it is the being in itself of which we merely know the phenomenon. But the principle, “all that we assume as belonging to this nature (phenomenon) and as its product, must be thought as connected therewith according to mechanical laws,” has none the less force, because without this kind of causality organised beings (as purposes of nature) would not be natural products.
Now if the teleological principle of the production of these beings be assumed (as is inevitable), we can place at the basis of the cause of their internally purposive form either Occasionalism or Pre-established Harmony. According to the former the Supreme Cause of the world would, conformably to its Idea, furnish immediately the organic formation on the occasion of every union of intermingling materials. According to the latter it would, in the original products of its wisdom, only have supplied the capacity by means of which an organic being produces another of like kind, and the species perpetually maintains itself; whilst the loss of individuals is continually replaced by that nature which at the same time works towards their destruction. If we assume the Occasionalism of the production of organised beings, all nature is quite lost, and with it all employment of Reason in judging of the possibility of such products; hence we may suppose that no one will adopt this system, who has anything to do with philosophy.
[The theory of] Pre-established Harmony may proceed in two different ways. It regards every organised being as generated by one of like kind, either as an educt or a product. The system which regards generations as mere educts is called the theory of individual preformation or the theory of evolution: that which regards them as products is entitled the system of epigenesis. This latter may also be entitled the system of generic preformation, because the productive faculty of the generator and consequently the specific form would be virtually performed according to the inner purposive capacities which are part of its stock. In correspondence with this the opposite theory of individual preformations would be better entitled the theory of involution.
The advocates of the theory of evolution, who remove every individual from the formative power of nature, in order to make it come immediately from the hand of the Creator, would, however, not venture to regard this as happening according to the hypothesis of Occasionalism. For according to this the copulation is a mere formality, à propos of which a supreme intelligent Cause of the world has concluded to form a fruit immediately by his hand, and only to leave to the mother its development and nourishment. They declare themselves for preformation; as if it were not all the same, whether a supernatural origin is assigned to these forms in the beginning or in the course of the world. On the contrary, a great number of supernatural arrangements would be spared by occasional creation, which would be requisite, in order that the embryo formed in the beginning of the world might not be injured throughout the long period of its development by the destructive powers of nature, and might keep itself unharmed; and there would also be requisite an incalculably greater number of such preformed beings than would ever be developed, and with them many creations would be made without need and without purpose. They would, however, be willing to leave at least something to nature, so as not to fall into a complete Hyperphysic which can dispense with all natural explanations. It is true, they hold so fast by their Hyperphysic that they find even in abortions (which it is quite impossible to take for purposes of nature) an admirable purposiveness; though it be only directed to the fact that an anatomist would take exception to it as a purposeless purposiveness, and would feel a disheartened wonder thereat. But the production of hybrids could absolutely not be accommodated with the system of preformation; and to the seeds of the male creature, to which they had attributed nothing but the mechanical property of serving as the first means of nourishment for the embryo, they must attribute in addition a purposive formative power, which in the case of the product of two creatures of the same genus they would concede to neither parent.
On the other hand, even if we do not recognise the great superiority which the theory of Epigenesis has over the former as regards the empirical grounds of its proof, still prior to proof Reason views this way of explanation with peculiar favour. For in respect of the things which we can only represent as possible originally according to the causality of purposes, at least as concerns their propagation, this theory regards nature as self-producing, not merely as self-evolving: and so with the least expenditure of the supernatural leaves to nature all that follows after the first beginning (though without determining anything about this first beginning by which Physic generally is thwarted, however it may essay its explanation by a chain of causes).
As regards this theory of Epigenesis, no one has contributed more either to its proof or to the establishment of the legitimate principles of its application,—partly by the limitation of a too presumptuous employment of it,—than Herr Hofr. Blumenbach.1 In all physical explanations of these formations he starts from organised matter. That crude matter should have originally formed itself according to mechanical laws, that life should have sprung from the nature of what is lifeless, that matter should have been able to dispose itself into the form of a self-maintaining purposiveness—this he rightly declares to be contradictory to Reason. But at the same time he leaves to natural mechanism under this to us indispensable principle of an original organisation, an undeterminable but yet unmistakeable element, in reference to which the faculty of matter in an organised body is called by him a formative impulse (in contrast to, and yet standing under the higher guidance and direction of, that merely mechanical formative power universally resident in matter).
Of the teleological system in the external relations of organised beings
By external purposiveness I mean that by which one thing of nature serves another as means to a purpose. Now things which have no internal purposiveness and which presuppose none for their possibility, e.g. earth, air, water, etc., may at the same time be very purposive externally, i.e. in relation to other beings. But these latter must be organised beings, i.e. natural purposes, for otherwise the former could not be judged as means to them. Thus water, air, and earth cannot be regarded as means to the raising of mountains, because mountains contain nothing in themselves that requires a ground of their possibility according to purposes, in reference to which therefore their cause can never be represented under the predicate of a means (as useful therefor).
External purposiveness is a quite different concept from that of internal purposiveness, which is bound up with the possibility of an object irrespective of its actuality being itself a purpose. We can ask about an organised being the question: What is it for? But we cannot easily ask this about things in which we recognise merely the working of nature’s mechanism. For in the former, as regards their internal possibility, we represent a causality according to purposes, a creative Understanding, and we refer this active faculty to its determining ground, viz. design. There is only one external purposiveness which is connected with the internal purposiveness of organisation, and yet serves in the external relation of a means to a purpose, without the question necessarily arising, as to what end this being so organised must have existed for. This is the organisation of both sexes in their mutual relation for the propagation of their kind; since here we can always ask, as in the case of an individual, why must such a pair exist? The answer is: This pair first constitutes an organising whole, though not an organised whole in a single body.
If we now ask, wherefore anything is, the answer is either: Its presence and its production have no reference at all to a cause working according to design, and so we always refer its origin to the mechanism of nature, or: There is somewhere a designed ground of its presence (as a contingent natural being). This thought we can hardly separate from the concept of an organised thing; for, since we must place at the basis of its internal possibility a causality of final causes and an Idea lying at the ground of this, we cannot think the existence of this product except as a purpose. For the represented effect, the representation of which is at the same time the determining ground of the intelligent cause working towards its production, is called a purpose. In this case therefore we can either say: The purpose of the existence of such a natural being is in itself; i.e. it is not merely a purpose but a final purpose, or: This is external to it in another natural being, i.e. it exists purposively not as a final purpose, but necessarily as a means.
But if we go through the whole of nature we find in it, as nature, no being which could make claim to the eminence of being the final purpose of creation; and we can even prove a priori that what might be for nature an ultimate purpose, according to all the thinkable determinations and properties wherewith one could endow it, could yet as a natural thing never be a final purpose.
If we consider the vegetable kingdom we might at first sight, on account of the immeasurable fertility with which it spreads itself almost on every soil, be led to take it for a mere product of that mechanism which nature displays in the formations of the mineral kingdom. But a more intimate knowledge of its indescribably wise organisation does not permit us to hold to this thought, but prompts the question: What are these things created for? If it is answered: For the animal kingdom, which is thereby nourished and has thus been able to spread over the earth in genera so various, then the further question comes: What are these plant-devouring animals for? The answer would be something like this: For beasts of prey, which can only be nourished by that which has life. Finally we have the question: What are these last, as well as the first-mentioned natural kingdoms, good for? For man, in reference to the manifold use which his Understanding teaches him to make of all these creatures. He is the ultimate purpose of creation here on earth, because he is the only being upon it who can form a concept of purposes, and who can by his Reason make out of an aggregate of purposively formed things a system of purposes.
We might also with the chevalier Linnaeus1 go the apparently opposite way and say: The herbivorous animals are there to moderate the luxurious growth of the vegetable kingdom, by which many of its species are choked. The carnivora are to set bounds to the voracity of the herbivora. Finally man, by his pursuit of these and his diminution of their numbers, preserves a certain equilibrium between the producing and the destructive powers of nature. And so man, although in a certain reference he might be esteemed a purpose, yet in another has only the rank of a means.
If an objective purposiveness in the variety of the genera of creatures and their external relations to one another, as purposively constructed beings, be made a principle, then it is conformable to Reason to conceive in these relations a certain organisation and a system of all natural kingdoms according to final causes. Only here experience seems flatly to contradict the maxims of Reason, especially as concerns an ultimate purpose of nature, which is indispensable for the possibility of such a system and which we can put nowhere else but in man. For regarding him as one of the many animal genera, nature has not in the least excepted him from its destructive or its productive powers, but has subjected everything to a mechanism thereof without any purpose.
The first thing that must be designedly prepared in an arrangement for a purposive complex of natural beings on the earth would be their place of habitation, the soil and the element on and in which they are to thrive. But a more exact knowledge of the constitution of this basis of all organic production indicates no other causes than those working quite undesignedly, causes which rather destroy than favour production, order, and purposes. Land and sea not only contain in themselves memorials of ancient mighty desolations which have confounded them and all creatures that are in them; but their whole structure, the strata of the one and the boundaries of the other, have quite the appearance of being the product of the wild and violent forces of a nature working in a state of chaos. Although the figure, the structure, and the slope of the land might seem to be purposively ordered for the reception of water from the air, for the welling up of streams between strata of different kinds (for many kinds of products), and for the course of rivers—yet a closer investigation shows that they are merely the effects of volcanic eruptions or of inundations of the ocean, as regards not only the first production of this figure, but, above all, its subsequent transformation, as well as the disappearance of its first organic productions.1 Now if the place of habitation of all these creatures, the soil (of the land) or the bosom (of the sea), indicates nothing but a quite undesigned mechanism of its production, how and with what right can we demand and maintain a different origin for these latter products? The closest examination, indeed (in Camper’s1 judgement), of the remains of the aforesaid devastations of nature seems to show that man was not comprehended in these revolutions; but yet he is so dependent on the remaining creatures that, if a universally directing mechanism of nature be admitted in the case of the others, he must also be regarded as comprehended under it; even though his Understanding (for the most part at least) has been able to deliver him from these devastations.
But this argument seems to prove more than was intended by it. It seems to prove not merely that man cannot be the ultimate purpose of nature, and that on the same grounds the aggregate of the organised things of nature on the earth cannot be a system of purposes; but also that the natural products formerly held to be natural purposes have no other origin than the mechanism of nature.
But in the solution given above of the Antinomy of the principles of the mechanical and teleological methods of production of organic beings of nature, we have seen that they are merely principles of the reflective Judgement in respect of nature as it produces forms in accordance with particular laws (for the systematic connexion of which we have no key). They do not determine the origin of these beings in themselves; but only say that we, by the constitution of our Understanding and our Reason, cannot conceive it in this kind of being except according to final causes. The greatest possible effort, even audacity, in the attempt to explain them mechanically is not only permitted, but we are invited to it by Reason; notwithstanding that we know from the subjective grounds of the particular species and limitations of our Understanding (not e.g. because the mechanism of production would contradict in itself an origin according to purposes) that we can never attain thereto. Finally, the compatibility of both ways of representing the possibility of nature may lie in the supersensible principle of nature (external to us, as well as in us); whilst the method of representation according to final causes may be only a subjective condition of the use of our Reason, when it not merely wishes to form a judgement upon objects as phenomena, but desires to refer these phenomena together with their principles to their supersensible substrate, in order to find certain laws of their unity possible, which it cannot represent to itself except through purposes (of which the Reason also has such as are supersensible).
Of the ultimate purpose of nature as a teleological system
We have shown in the preceding that, though not for the determinant but for the reflective Judgement, we have sufficient cause for judging man to be, not merely like all organised beings a natural purpose, but also the ultimate purpose of nature here on earth; in reference to whom all other natural things constitute a system of purposes according to fundamental propositions of Reason. If now that must be found in man himself, which is to be furthered as a purpose by means of his connexion with nature, this purpose must either be of a kind that can be satisfied by nature in its beneficence; or it is the aptitude and skill for all kinds of purposes for which nature (external and internal) can be used by him. The first purpose of nature would be man’s happiness, the second his culture.
The concept of happiness is not one that man derives by abstraction from his instincts and so deduces from his animal nature; but it is a mere Idea of a state, that he wishes to make adequate to the Idea under merely empirical conditions (which is impossible). This Idea he projects in such different ways on account of the complication of his Understanding with Imagination and Sense, and changes so often, that nature, even if it were entirely subjected to his elective will, could receive absolutely no determinate, universal and fixed law, so as to harmonise with this vacillating concept and thus with the purpose which each man arbitrarily sets before himself. And even if we reduce this to the true natural wants as to which our race is thoroughly agreed, or on the other hand, raise ever so high man’s skill to accomplish his imagined purposes; yet, even thus, what man understands by happiness, and what is in fact his proper, ultimate, natural purpose (not purpose of freedom), would never be attained by him. For it is not his nature to rest and be contented with the possession and enjoyment of anything whatever. On the other side, too, there is something wanting. Nature has not taken him for her special darling and favoured him with benefit above all animals. Rather, in her destructive operations,—plague, hunger, perils of waters, frost, assaults of other animals great and small, etc.,—in these things has she spared him as little as any other animal. Further, the inconsistency of his own natural dispositions drives him into self-devised torments, and also reduces others of his own race to misery, by the oppression of lordship, the barbarism of war, and so forth; he, himself, as far as in him lies, works for the destruction of his own race; so that even with the most beneficent external nature, its purpose, if it were directed to the happiness of our species, would not be attained in an earthly system, because our nature is not susceptible of it. Man is then always only a link in the chain of natural purposes; a principle certainly in respect of many purposes, for which nature seems to have destined him in her disposition, and towards which he sets himself, but also a means for the maintenance of purposiveness in the mechanism of the remaining links. As the only being on earth which has an Understanding and, consequently, a faculty of setting arbitrary purposes before itself, he is certainly entitled to be the lord of nature; and if it be regarded as a teleological system he is, by his destination, the ultimate purpose of nature. But this is subject to the condition of his having an Understanding and the Will to give to it and to himself such a reference to purposes, as can be self-sufficient independently of nature, and, consequently, can be a final purpose; which, however, must not be sought in nature itself.
But in order to find out where in man we have to place that ultimate purpose of nature, we must seek out what nature can supply to prepare him for what he must do himself in order to be a final purpose, and we must separate it from all those purposes whose possibility depends upon things that one can expect only from nature. Of the latter kind is earthly happiness, by which is understood the complex of all man’s purposes possible through nature, whether external nature or man’s nature; i.e. the matter of all his earthly purposes, which, if he makes it his whole purpose, renders him incapable of positing his own existence as a final purpose, and being in harmony therewith. There remains therefore of all his purposes in nature only the formal subjective condition; viz. the aptitude of setting purposes in general before himself, and (independent of nature in his purposive determination) of using nature, conformably to the maxims of his free purposes in general, as a means. This nature can do in regard to the final purpose that lies outside it, and it therefore may be regarded as its ultimate purpose. The production of the aptitude of a rational being for arbitrary purposes in general (consequently in his freedom) is culture. Therefore, culture alone can be the ultimate purpose which we have cause for ascribing to nature in respect to the human race (not man’s earthly happiness or the fact that he is the chief instrument of instituting order and harmony in irrational nature external to himself).
But all culture is not adequate to this ultimate purpose of nature. The culture of skill is indeed the chief subjective condition of aptitude for furthering one’s purposes in general; but it is not adequate to furthering the will1 in the determination and choice of purposes, which yet essentially belongs to the whole extent of an aptitude for purposes. The latter condition of aptitude, which we might call the culture of training (discipline), is negative, and consists in the freeing of the will from the despotism of desires. By these, tied as we are to certain natural things, we are rendered incapable even of choosing, while we allow those impulses to serve as fetters, which Nature has given us as guiding threads that we should not neglect or violate the destination of our animal nature—we being all the time free enough to strain or relax, to extend or diminish them, according as the purposes of Reason require.
Skill cannot be developed in the human race except by means of inequality among men; for the great majority provide the necessities of life, as it were, mechanically, without requiring any art in particular, for the convenience and leisure of others who work at the less necessary elements of culture, science and art. In an oppressed condition they have hard work and little enjoyment, although much of the culture of the higher classes gradually spreads to them. Yet with the progress of this culture (the height of which is called luxury, reached when the propensity to what can be done without begins to be injurious to what is indispensable), their calamities increase equally in two directions, on the one hand through violence from without, on the other hand through internal discontent; but still this splendid misery is bound up with the development of the natural capacities of the human race, and the purpose of nature itself, although not our purpose, is thus attained. The formal condition under which nature can alone attain this its final design, is that arrangement of men’s relations to one another, by which lawful authority in a whole, which we call a civil community, is opposed to the abuse of their conflicting freedoms; only in this can the greatest development of natural capacities take place. For this also there would be requisite,—if men were clever enough to find it out and wise enough to submit themselves voluntarily to its constraint,—a cosmopolitan whole, i.e. a system of all states that are in danger of acting injuriously upon each other.1 Failing this, and with the obstacles which ambition, lust of dominion, and avarice, especially in those who have the authority in their hands, oppose even to the possibility of such a scheme, there is, inevitably, war (by which sometimes states subdivide and resolve themselves into smaller states, sometimes a state annexes other smaller states and strives to form a greater whole). Though war is an undesigned enterprise of men (stirred up by their unbridled passions), yet is it [perhaps]2 a deep-hidden and designed enterprise of supreme wisdom for preparing, if not for establishing, conformity to law amid the freedom of states, and with this a unity of a morally grounded system of those states. In spite of the dreadful afflictions with which it visits the human race, and the perhaps greater afflictions with which the constant preparation for it in time of peace oppresses them, yet is it (although the hope for a restful state of popular happiness is ever further off) a motive for developing all talents serviceable for culture, to the highest possible pitch.3
As concerns the discipline of the inclinations,—for for which our natural capacity in regard of our destination as an animal race is quite purposive, but which render the development of humanity very difficult,—there is manifest in respect of this second requirement for culture a purposive striving of nature to a cultivation which makes us receptive of higher purposes than nature itself can supply. We cannot strive against the preponderance of evil, which is poured out upon us by the refinement of taste pushed to idealisation, and even by the luxury of science as affording food for pride, through the insatiable number of inclinations thus aroused. But yet we cannot mistake the purpose of nature—ever aiming to win us away from the rudeness and violence of those inclinations (inclinations to enjoyment) which belong rather to our animality, and for the most part are opposed to the cultivation of our higher destiny, and to make way for the development of our humanity. The beautiful arts and the sciences which, by their universally-communicable pleasure, and by the polish and refinement of society, make man more civilised, if not morally better, win us in large measure from the tyranny of sense-propensions, and thus prepare men for a lordship, in which Reason alone shall have authority; whilst the evils with which we are visited, partly by nature, partly by the intolerant selfishness of meu, summon, strengthen, and harden the powers of the soul not to submit to them, and so make us feel an aptitude for higher purposes, which lies hidden in us.1
Of the final purpose of the existence of a world, i.e. of creation itself
A final purpose is that purpose which needs no other as condition of its possibility.
If the mere mechanism of nature be assumed as the ground of explanation of its purposiveness, we cannot ask: what are things in the world there for? For according to such an idealistic system it is only the physical possibility of things (to think which as purposes would be mere subtlety without any Object) that is under discussion; whether we refer this form of things to chance or to blind necessity, in either case the question would be vain. If, however, we assume the purposive combination in the world to be real and to be [brought about] by a particular kind of causality, viz. that of a designedly-working cause, we cannot stop at the question: why have things of the world (organised beings) this or that form? why are they placed by nature in this or that relation to one another? But once an Understanding is thought that must be regarded as the cause of the possibility of such forms as are actually found in things, it must be also asked on objective grounds: Who could have determined this productive Understanding to an operation of this kind? This being is then the final purpose in reference to which such things are there.
I have said above that the final purpose is not a purpose which nature would be competent to bring about and to produce in conformity with its Idea, because it is unconditioned. For there is nothing in nature (regarded as a sensible being) for which the determining ground present in itself would not be always conditioned; and this holds not merely of external (material) nature, but also of internal (thinking) nature—it being of course understood that I only am considering that in myself which is nature. But a thing that is to exist necessarily, on account of its objective constitution, as the final purpose of an intelligent cause, must be of the kind that in the order of purposes it is dependent on no further condition than merely its Idea.
Now we have in the world only one kind of beings whose causality is teleological, i.e. is directed to purposes and is at the same time so constituted that the law according to which they have to determine purposes for themselves is represented as unconditioned and independent of natural conditions, and yet as in itself necessary. The being of this kind is man, but man considered as noumenon; the only natural being in which we can recognise, on the side of its peculiar constitution, a supersensible faculty (freedom) and also the law of causality, together with its Object, which this faculty may propose to itself as highest purpose (the highest good in the world).
Now of man (and so of every rational creature in the world) as a moral being it can no longer be asked: why (quem in finem) he exists? His existence involves the highest purpose to which, as far as is in his power, he can subject the whole of nature; contrary to which at least he cannot regard himself as subject to any influence of nature.— If now things of the world, as beings dependent in their existence, need a supreme cause acting according to purposes, man is the final purpose of creation; since without him the chain of mutually subordinated purposes would not be complete as regards its ground. Only in man, and only in him as subject of morality, do we meet with unconditioned legislation in respect of purposes, which therefore alone renders him capable of being a final purpose, to which the whole of nature is teleologically subordinated.1
Physico-theology is the endeavour of Reason to infer the Supreme Cause of nature and its properties from the purposes of nature (which can only be empirically known). Moral theology (ethico-theology) would be the endeavour to infer that Cause and its properties from the moral purpose of rational beings in nature (which can be known a priori).
The former naturally precedes the latter. For if we wish to infer a World Cause teleologically from the things in the world, purposes of nature must first be given, for which we afterwards have to seek a final purpose, and for this the principle of the causality of this Supreme Cause.
Many investigations of nature can and must be conducted according to the teleological principle, without our having cause to inquire into the ground of the possibility of purposive working with which we meet in various products of nature. But if we wish to have a concept of this we have absolutely no further insight into it than the maxim of the reflective Judgement affords: viz. if only a single organic product of nature were given to us, by the constitution of our cognitive faculty we could think no other ground for it than that of a cause of nature itself (whether the whole of nature or only this bit of it) which contains the causality for it through Understanding. This principle of judging, though it does not bring us any further in the explanation of natural things and their origin, yet discloses to us an outlook over nature, by which perhaps we may be able to determine more closely the concept, otherwise so unfruitful, of an Original Being.
Now I say that Physico-theology, however far it may be pursued, can disclose to us nothing of a final purpose of creation; for it does not even extend to the question as to this. It can, it is true, justify the concept of an intelligent World Cause, as a subjective concept (only available for the constitution of our cognitive faculty) of the possibility of things that we can make intelligible to ourselves according to purposes; but it cannot determine this concept further, either in a theoretical or a practical point of view. Its endeavour does not come up to its design of being the basis of a Theology, but it always remains only a physical Teleology; because the purposive reference therein is and must be always considered only as conditioned in nature, and it consequently cannot inquire into the purpose for which nature itself exists (for which the ground must be sought outside nature),—notwithstanding that it is upon the determinate Idea of this that the determinate concept of that Supreme Intelligent World Cause, and the consequent possibility of a Theology, depend.
What the things in the world are mutually useful for; what good the manifold in a thing does for the thing; how we have ground to assume that nothing in the world is in vain, but that everything in nature is good for something,—the condition being granted that certain things are to exist (as purposes), whence our Reason has in its power for the Judgement no other principle of the possibility of the Object, which it inevitably judges teleologically, than that of subordinating the mechanism of nature to the Architectonic of an intelligent Author of the world—all this the teleological consideration of the world supplies us with excellently and to our extreme admiration. But because the data, and so the principles, for determining that concept of an intelligent World Cause (as highest artist) are merely empirical, they do not enable us to infer any of its properties beyond those which experience reveals in its effects. Now experience, since it can never embrace collective nature as a system, must often (apparently) happen upon this concept (and by mutually conflicting grounds of proof); but it can never, even if we had the power of surveying empirically the whole system as far as it concerns mere nature, raise us above nature to the purpose of its existence, and so to the determinate concept of that supreme Intelligence.
If we lessen the problem with the solution of which Physico-theology has to do, its solution appears easy. If we reduce the concept of a Deity to that of an intelligent being thought by us, of which there may be one or more, which possesses many and very great properties, but not all the properties which are requisite for the foundation of a nature in harmony with the greatest possible purpose; or if we do not scruple in a theory to supply by arbitrary additions what is deficient in the grounds of proof, and so, where we have only ground for assuming much perfection (and what is “much” for us?), consider ourselves entitled to presuppose all possible perfection; thus indeed physical Teleology may make weighty claims to the distinction of being the basis of a Theology. But if we are desired to point out what impels and moreover authorises us to add these supplements, then we shall seek in vain for a ground of justification in the principles of the theoretical use of Reason, which is ever desirous in the explanation of an Object of experience to ascribe to it no more properties than those for which empirical data of possibility are to be found. On closer examination we should see that properly speaking an Idea of a Supreme Being, which rests on a quite different use of Reason (the practical use), lies in us fundamentally a priori, impelling us to supplement, by the concept of a Deity, the defective representation, supplied by a physical Teleology, of the original ground of the purposes in nature; and we should not falsely imagine that we had worked out this Idea, and with it a Theology by means of the theoretical use of Reason in the physical cognition of the world—much less that we had proved its reality.
One cannot blame the ancients much, if they thought of their gods as differing much from each other both as regards their faculties and as regards their designs and volitions, but yet thought of all of them, the Supreme One not excepted, as always limited after human fashion. For if they considered the arrangement and the course of things in nature, they certainly found ground enough for assuming something more than mechanism as its cause, and for conjecturing behind the machinery of this world designs of certain higher causes, which they could not think otherwise than superhuman. But because they met with good and evil, the purposive and the unpurposive, mingled together (at least as far as our insight goes), and could not permit themselves to assume nevertheless that wise and benevolent purposes of which they saw no proof lay hidden at bottom, on behalf of the arbitrary Idea of a supremely perfect original Author, their judgement upon the supreme World Cause could hardly have been other than it was, so long as they proceeded consistently according to maxims of the mere theoretical use of Reason. Others, who wished to be theologians as well as physicists, thought to find contentment for the Reason by providing for the absolute unity of the principle of natural things which Reason demands, the Idea of a Being of which as sole Substance the things would be all only inherent determinations. This Substance would not be Cause of the World by means of intelligence, but in it all the intelligences of the beings in the world would be comprised. This Being consequently would produce nothing according to purposes; but in it all things, on account of the unity of the subject of which they are mere determinations, must necessarily relate themselves purposively to one another, though without purpose and design. Thus they introduced the Idealism of final causes, by changing the unity (so difficult to explain) of a number of purposively combined substances, from being the unity of causal dependence on one Substance to be the unity of inherence in one. This system—which in the sequel, considered on the side of the inherent world beings, becomes Pantheism, and (later) on the side of the Subject subsisting by itself as Original Being, becomes Spinozism,—does not so much resolve as explain away into nothing the question of the first ground of the purposiveness of nature; because this latter concept, bereft of all reality, must be taken for a mere misinterpretation of a universal ontological concept of a thing in general.
Hence the concept of a Deity, which would be adequate for our teleological judging of nature, can never be derived from mere theoretical principles of the use of Reason (on which Physicotheology alone is based). For as one alternative we may explain all Teleology as a mere deception of the Judgement in its judging of the causal combination of things, and fly to the sole principle of a mere mechanism of nature, which merely seems to us, on account of the unity of the Substance of whose determinations nature is but the manifold, to contain a universal reference to purposes. Or if, instead of this Idealism of final causes, we wish to remain attached to the principle of the Realism of this particular kind of causality, we may set beneath natural purposes many intelligent original beings or only a single one. But so far as we have for the basis of this concept [of Realism] only empirical principles derived from the actual purposive combination in the world, we cannot on the one hand find any remedy for the discordance that nature presents in many examples in respect of unity of purpose; and on the other hand, as to the concept of a single intelligent Cause, so far as we are authorised by mere experience, we can never draw it therefrom in a manner sufficiently determined for any serviceable Theology whatever (whether theoretical or practical).
Physical Teleology impels us, it is true, to seek a Theology; but it cannot produce one, however far we may investigate nature by means of experience and, in reference to the purposive combination apparent in it, call in Ideas of Reason (which must be theoretical for physical problems). What is the use, one might well complain, of placing at the basis of all these arrangements a great Understanding incommensurable by us, and supposing it to govern the world according to design, if nature does not and cannot tell us anything of the final design? For without this we cannot refer all these natural purposes to any common point, nor can we form any teleological principle, sufficient either for cognising the purposes collected in a system, or for forming a concept of the Supreme Understanding, as Cause of such a nature, that could serve as a standard for our Judgement reflecting teleologically thereon. I should thus have an artistic Understanding for scattered purposes, but no Wisdom for a final purpose, in which final purpose nevertheless must be contained the determining ground of the said Understanding. But in the absence of a final purpose which pure Reason alone can supply (because all purposes in the world are empirically conditioned, and can contain nothing absolutely good but only what is good for this or that regarded as a contingent design), and which alone would teach me what properties, what degree, and what relation of the Supreme Cause to nature I have to think in order to judge of nature as a teleological system; how and with what right do I dare to extend at pleasure my very limited concept of that original Understanding (which I can base on my limited knowledge of the world), of the Might of that original Being in actualising its Ideas, and of its Will to do so, and complete this into the Idea of an Allwise, Infinite Being? If this is to be done theoretically, it would presuppose omniscience in me, in order to see into the purposes of nature in their whole connexion, and in addition the power of conceiving all possible plans, in comparison with which the present plan would be judged on [sufficient] grounds as the best. For without this complete knowledge of the effect I can arrive at no determinate concept of the Supreme Cause, which can only be found in the concept of an Intelligence infinite in every respect, i.e. the concept of a Deity, and so I can supply no foundation for Theology.
Hence, with every possible extension of physical Teleology, according to the propositions above laid down we may say: By the constitution and the principles of our cognitive faculty we can think of nature, in its purposive arrangements which have become known to us, in no other way than as the product of an Understanding to which it is subject. But the theoretical investigation of nature can never reveal to us whether this Understanding may not also, with the whole of nature and its production, have had a final design (which would not lie in the nature of the sensible world). On the contrary, with all our knowledge of nature it remains undecided whether that Supreme Cause is its original ground according to a final purpose, or not rather by means of an Understanding determined by the mere necessity of its nature to produce certain forms (according to the analogy of what we call the artinstinct in animals); without it being necessary to ascribe to it even wisdom, much less the highest wisdom combined with all other properties requisite for the perfection of its product.
Hence Physico-theology is a misunderstood physical Teleology, only serviceable as a preparation (propaedeutic) for Theology; and it is only adequate to this design by the aid of a foreign principle on which it can rely, and not in itself, as its name would intimate.
The commonest Understanding, if it thinks over the presence of things in the world, and the existence of the world itself, cannot forbear from the judgement that all the various creatures, no matter how great the art displayed in their arrangement, and how various their purposive mutual connexion,—even the complex of their numerous systems (which we incorrectly call worlds),—would be for nothing, if there were not also men (rational beings in general). Without men the whole creation would be a mere waste, in vain, and without final purpose. But it is not in reference to man’s cognitive faculty (theoretical Reason) that the being of everything else in the world gets its worth; he is not there merely that there may be some one to contemplate the world. For if the contemplation of the world only afforded a representation of things without any final purpose, no worth could accrue to its being from the mere fact that it is known; we must presuppose for it a final purpose, in reference to which its contemplation itself has worth. Again it is not in reference to the feeling of pleasure, or to the sum of pleasures, that we think a final purpose of creation as given; i.e. we do not estimate that absolute worth by well-being or by enjoyment (whether bodily or mental), or in a word, by happiness. For the fact that man, if he exists, takes this for his final design, gives us no concept as to why in general he should exist, and as to what worth he has in himself to make his existence pleasant. He must, therefore, be supposed to be the final purpose of creation, in order to have a rational ground for holding that nature must harmonise with his happiness, if it is considered as an absolute whole according to principles of purposes.— Hence there remains only the faculty of desire; not, however, that which makes man dependent (through sensuous impulses) upon nature, nor that in respect of which the worth of his being depends upon what he receives and enjoys. But the worth which he alone can give to himself, and which consists in what he does, how and according to what principles he acts, and that not as a link in nature’s chain but in the freedom of his faculty of desire—i.e. a good will—is that whereby alone his being can have an absolute worth, and in reference to which the being of the world can have a final purpose.
The commonest judgement of healthy human Reason completely accords with this, that it is only as a moral being that man can be a final purpose of creation; if we but direct men’s attention to the question and incite them to investigate it. What does it avail, one will say, that this man has so much talent, that he is so active therewith, and that he exerts thereby a useful influence over the community, thus having a great worth both in relation to his own happy condition and to the benefit of others, if he does not possess a good will? He is a contemptible Object considered in respect of his inner self; and if the creation is not to be without any final purpose at all, he, who as man belongs to it, must, in a world under moral laws, inasmuch as he is a bad man, forfeit his subjective purpose (happiness). This is the only condition under which his existence can accord with the final purpose.
If now we meet with purposive arrangements in the world and, as Reason inevitably requires, subordinate the purposes that are only conditioned to an unconditioned, supreme, i.e. final, purpose; then we easily see in the first place that we are thus concerned not with a purpose of nature (internal to itself), so far as it exists, but with the purpose of its existence along with all its ordinances, and, consequently, with the ultimate purpose of creation, and specially with the supreme condition under which can be posited a final purpose (i.e. the ground which determines a supreme Understanding to produce the beings of the world).
Since now it is only as a moral being that we recognise man as the purpose of creation, we have in the first place a ground (at least, the chief condition) for regarding the world as a whole connected according to purposes, and as a system of final causes. And, more especially, as regards the reference (necessary for us by the constitution of our Reason) of natural purposes to an intelligent World Cause, we have one principle enabling us to think the nature and properties of this First Cause as supreme ground in the kingdom of purposes, and to determine its concept. This physical Teleology could not do; it could only lead to indeterminate concepts thereof, unserviceable alike in theoretical and in practical use.
From the principle, thus determined, of the causality of the Original Being we must not think Him merely as Intelligence and as legislative for nature, but also as legislating supremely in a moral kingdom of purposes. In reference to the highest good, alone possible under His sovereignty, viz. the existence of rational beings under moral laws, we shall think this Original Being as all-knowing: thus our inmost dispositions (which constitute the proper moral worth of the actions of rational beings of the world) will not be hid from Him. We shall think Him as all-mighty: thus He will be able to make the whole of nature accord with this highest purpose. We shall think Him as all-good, and at the same time as just: because these two properties (which when united constitute Wisdom) are the conditions of the causality of a supreme Cause of the world, as highest good, under moral laws. So also all the other transcendental properties, such as Eternity, Omnipresence, etc. [for goodness and justice are moral properties1 ], which are presupposed in reference to such a final purpose, must be thought in Him.— In this way moral Teleology supplies the deficiency in physical Teleology, and first establishes a Theology; because the latter, if it did not borrow from the former without being observed, but were to proceed consistently, could only found a Demonology, which is incapable of any definite concept.
But the principle of the reference of the world to a supreme Cause, as Deity, on account of the moral purposive destination of certain beings in it, does not accomplish this by completing the physico-teleological ground of proof and so taking this necessarily as its basis. It is sufficient in itself and directs attention to the purposes of nature and the investigation of that incomprehensible great art lying hidden behind its forms, in order to confirm incidentally by means of natural purposes the Ideas that pure practical Reason furnishes. For the concept of beings of the world under moral laws is a principle (a priori) according to which man must of necessity judge himself. Further, if there is in general a World Cause acting designedly and directed towards a purpose, this moral relation must be just as necessarily the condition of the possibility of a creation, as that in accordance with physical laws (if, that is, this intelligent Cause has also a final purpose). This is regarded a priori by Reason as a necessary fundamental proposition for it in its teleological judging of the existence of things. It now only comes to this, whether we have sufficient ground for Reason (either speculative or practical) to ascribe to the supreme Cause, acting in accordance with purposes, a final purpose. For it may a priori be taken by us as certain that this, by the subjective constitution of our Reason and even of the Reason of other beings as far as we can think it, can be nothing else than man under moral laws: since otherwise the purposes of nature in the physical order could not be known a priori, especially as it can in no way be seen that nature could not exist without such purposes.
Suppose the case of a man at the moment when his mind is disposed to a moral sensation. If surrounded by the beauties of nature, he is in a state of restful, serene enjoyment of his being, he feels a want, viz. to be grateful for this to some being or other. Or if another time he finds himself in the same state of mind when pressed by duties that he can and will only adequately discharge by a voluntary sacrifice, he again feels in himself a want, viz. to have thus executed a command and obeyed a Supreme Lord. Or, again; if he has in some heedless way transgressed his duty, but without becoming answerable to men, his severe self-reproach will speak to him with the voice of a judge to whom he has to give account. In a word, he needs a moral Intelligence, in order to have a Being for the purpose of his existence, which may be, conformably to this purpose, the cause of himself and of the world. It is vain to assign motives behind these feelings, for they are immediately connected with the purest moral sentiment, because gratitude, obedience, and humiliation (submission to deserved chastisement) are mental dispositions that make for duty; and the mind which is inclined towards a widening of its moral sentiment here only voluntarily conceives an object that is not in the world in order where possible to render its duty before such an one. It is therefore at least possible and grounded too in our moral disposition to represent a pure moral need of the existence of a Being, by which our morality gains strength or even (at least according to our representation) more scope, viz. a new object for its exercise. That is, [there is a need] to assume a morally-legislating Being outside the world, without any reference to theoretical proofs, still less to self-interest, from pure moral grounds free from all foreign influence (and consequently only subjective), on the mere recommendation of a pure practical Reason legislating by itself alone. And although such a mental disposition might seldom occur or might not last long, but be transient and without permanent effect, or might even pass away without any meditation on the object represented in such shadowy outline, or without care to bring it under clear concepts—there is yet here unmistakably the ground why our moral capacity, as a subjective principle, should not be contented in its contemplation of the world with its purposiveness by means of natural causes, but should ascribe to it a supreme Cause governing nature according to moral principles.— In addition, we feel ourselves constrained by the moral law to strive for a universal highest purpose which yet we, in common with the rest of nature, are incapable of attaining; and it is only so far as we strive for it that we can judge ourselves to be in harmony with the final purpose of an intelligent World Cause (if such there be). Thus is found a pure moral ground of practical Reason for assuming this Cause (since it can be done without contradiction), in order that we may no more regard that effort of Reason as quite idle, and so run the risk of abandoning it from weariness.
With all this, so much only is to be said, that though fear first produces gods (demons), it is Reason by means of its moral principles that can first produce the concept of God (even when, as commonly is the case, one is unskilled in the Teleology of nature, or is very doubtful on account of the difficulty of adjusting by a sufficiently established principle its mutually contradictory phenomena). Also, the inner moral purposive destination of man’s being supplies that in which natural knowledge is deficient, by directing us to think, for the final purpose of the being of all things (for which no other principle than an ethical one is satisfactory to Reason), the supreme Cause [as endowed] with properties, whereby it is able to subject the whole of nature to that single design (for which nature is merely the instrument),—i.e. to think it as a Deity.
Of the moral proof of the Being of God
There is a physical Teleology, which gives sufficient ground of proof to our theoretical reflective Judgement to assume the being of an intelligent World-Cause. But we find also in ourselves and still more in the concept of a rational being in general endowed with freedom (of his causality) a moral Teleology. However, as the purposive reference, together with its law, is determined a priori in ourselves and therefore can be cognised as necessary, this internal conformity to law requires no intelligent cause external to us; any more than we need look to a highest Understanding as the source of the purposiveness (for every possible exercise of art) that we find in the geometrical properties of figures. But this moral Teleology concerns us as beings of the world, and therefore as beings bound up with other things in the world; upon which latter, whether as purposes or as objects in respect of which we ourselves are final purpose, the same moral laws require us to pass judgement. This moral Teleology, then, has to do with the reference of our own causality to purposes and even to a final purpose that we must aim at in the world, as well as with the reciprocal reference of the world to that moral purpose, and the external possibility of its accomplishment (to which no physical Teleology can lead us). Hence the question necessarily arises, whether it compels our rational judgement to go beyond the world and seek an intelligent supreme principle for that reference of nature to the moral in us; in order to represent nature as purposive even in reference to our inner moral legislation and its possible accomplishment. There is therefore certainly a moral Teleology, which is connected on the one hand with the nomothetic of freedom and on the other with that of nature; just as necessarily as civil legislation is connected with the question where the executive authority is to be sought, and in general in every case [with the question] wherein Reason is to furnish a principle of the actuality of a certain regular order of things only possible according to Ideas.— We shall first set forth the progress of Reason from that moral Teleology and its reference to physical, to Theology; and then make some observations upon the possibility and the validity of this way of reasoning.
If we assume the being of certain things (or even only certain forms of things) to be contingent and so to be possible only through something else which is their cause, we may seek for the unconditioned ground of this causality of the supreme (and so of the conditioned) either in the physical or the teleological order (either according to the nexus effectivus or the nexus finalis). That is, we may either ask, what is the supreme productive cause of these things; or what is their supreme (absolutely unconditioned) purpose, i.e. the final purpose of that cause in its production of this or all its products generally? In the second case it is plainly presupposed that this cause is capable of representing purposes to itself, and consequently is an intelligent Being; at least it must be thought as acting in accordance with the laws of such a being.
If we follow the latter order, it is a Fundamental Proposition, to which even the commonest human Reason is compelled to give immediate assent, that if there is to be in general a final purpose furnished a priori by Reason, this can be no other than man (every rational being of the world) under moral laws.1 For (and so every one judges) if the world consisted of mere lifeless, or even in part of living but irrational, beings, its existence would have no worth because in it there would be no being who would have the least concept of what worth is. Again, if there were intelligent beings, whose Reason were only able to place the worth of the existence of things in the relation of nature to themselves (their well-being), but not to furnish of itself an original worth (in freedom), then there would certainly be (relative) purposes in the world, but no (absolute) final purpose, because the existence of such rational beings would be always purposeless. But the moral laws have this peculiar characteristic that they prescribe to Reason something as a purpose without any condition, and consequently exactly as the concept of a final purpose requires. The existence of a Reason that can be for itself the supreme law in the purposive reference, in other words the existence of rational beings under moral laws, can therefore alone be thought as the final purpose of the being of a world. If on the contrary this be not so, there would be either no purpose at all in the cause of its being, or there would be purposes, but no final purpose.
The moral law as the formal rational condition of the use of our freedom obliges us by itself alone, without depending on any purpose as material condition; but it nevertheless determines for us, and indeed a priori, a final purpose towards which it obliges us to strive; and this purpose is the highest good in the world possible through freedom.
The subjective condition under which man (and, according to all our concepts, every rational finite being) can set a final purpose before himself under the above law is happiness. Consequently, the highest physical good possible in the world, to be furthered as a final purpose as far as in us lies, is happiness, under the objective condition of the harmony of man with the law of morality as worthiness to be happy.
But it is impossible for us in accordance with all our rational faculties to represent these two requirements of the final purpose proposed to us by the moral law, as connected by merely natural causes, and yet as conformable to the Idea of that final purpose. Hence the concept of the practical necessity of such a purpose through the application of our powers does not harmonise with the theoretical concept of the physical possibility of working it out, if we connect with our freedom no other causality (as a means) than that of nature.
Consequently, we must assume a moral World-Cause (an Author of the world), in order to set before ourselves a final purpose consistently with the moral law; and in so far as the latter is necessary, so far (i.e. in the same degree and on the same ground) the former also must be necessarily assumed; i.e. we must admit that there is a God.1
This proof, to which we can easily give the form of logical precision, does not say: it is as necessary to assume the Being of God as to recognise the validity of the moral law; and consequently he who cannot convince himself of the first, can judge himself free from the obligations of the second. No! there must in such case only be given up the aiming at the final purpose in the world, to be brought about by the pursuit of the second (viz. a happiness of rational beings in harmony with the pursuit of moral laws, regarded as the highest good). Every rational being would yet have to cognise himself as straitly bound by the precepts of morality, for its laws are formal and command unconditionally without respect to purposes (as the matter of volition). But the one requisite of the final purpose, as practical Reason prescribes it to beings of the world, is an irresistible purpose imposed on them by their nature (as finite beings), which Reason wishes to know as subject only to the moral law as inviolable condition, or even as universally set up in accordance with it. Thus Reason takes for final purpose the furthering of happiness in harmony with morality. To further this so far as is in our power (i.e. in respect of happiness) is commanded us by the moral law; be the issue of this endeavour what it may. The fulfilling of duty consists in the form of the earnest will, not in the intermediate causes of success.
Suppose then that partly through the weakness of all the speculative arguments so highly extolled, and partly through many irregularities in nature and the world of sense which come before him, a man is persuaded of the proposition, There is no God; he would nevertheless be contemptible in his own eyes if on that account he were to imagine the laws of duty as empty, invalid and inobligatory, and wished to resolve to transgress them boldly. Such an one, even if he could be convinced in the sequel of that which he had doubted at the first, would always be contemptible while having such a disposition, although he should fulfil his duty as regards its [external] effect as punctiliously as could be desired, for [he would be acting] from fear or from the aim at recompense, without the sentiment of reverence for duty. If, conversely, as a believer [in God] he performs his duty according to his conscience, uprightly and disinterestedly, and nevertheless believes that he is free from all moral obligation so soon as he is convinced that there is no God, this could accord but badly with an inner moral disposition.
We may then suppose the case of a righteous man [e.g. Spinoza],1 who holds himself firmly persuaded that there is no God, and also (because in respect of the Object of morality a similar consequence results) no future life; how is he to judge of his own inner purposive destination, by means of the moral law, which he reveres in practice? He desires no advantage to himself from following it, either in this or another world; he wishes, rather, disinterestedly to establish the good to which that holy law directs all his powers. But his effort is bounded; and from nature, although he may expect here and there a contingent accordance, he can never expect a regular harmony agreeing according to constant rules (such as his maxims are and must be, internally), with the purpose that he yet feels himself obliged and impelled to accomplish. Deceit, violence, and envy will always surround him, although he himself be honest, peaceable, and kindly; and the righteous men with whom he meets will, notwithstanding all their worthiness of happiness, be yet subjected by nature which regards not this, to all the evils of want, disease, and untimely death, just like the beasts of the earth. So it will be until one wide grave engulfs them together (honest or not, it makes no difference), and throws them back—who were able to believe themselves the final purpose of creation—into the abyss of the purposeless chaos of matter from which they were drawn.— The purpose, then, which this well-intentioned person had and ought to have before him in his pursuit of moral laws, he must certainly give up as impossible. Or else, if he wishes to remain dependent upon the call of his moral internal destination, and not to weaken the respect with which the moral law immediately inspires him, by assuming the nothingness of the single, ideal, final purpose adequate to its high demand (which cannot be brought about without a violation of moral sentiment), he must, as he well can—since there is at least no contradiction from a practical point of view in forming a concept of the possibility of a morally prescribed final purpose—assume the being of a moral author of the world, that is, a God.
Limitation of the validity of the moral proof
Pure Reason, as a practical faculty, i.e. as the faculty of determining the free use of our causality by Ideas (pure rational concepts), not only comprises in the moral law a regulative principle of our actions, but supplies us at the same time with a subjective constitutive principle in the concept of an Object which Reason alone can think, and which is to be actualised by our actions in the world according to that law. The Idea of a final purpose in the employment of freedom according to moral laws has therefore subjective practical reality. We are a priori determined by Reason to promote with all our powers the summum bonum [Weltbeste] which consists in the combination of the greatest welfare of rational beings with the highest condition of the good in itself, i.e. in universal happiness conjoined with morality most accordant to law. In this final purpose the possibility of one part, happiness, is empirically conditioned, i.e. dependent on the constitution of nature (which may or may not agree with this purpose) and is in a theoretical aspect problematical; whilst the other part, morality, in respect of which we are free from the effects of nature, stands fast a priori as to its possibility, and is dogmatically certain. It is then requisite for the objective theoretical reality of the concept of the final purpose of rational beings, that we should not only have a priori presupposed a final purpose for ourselves, but also that the creation, i.e. the world itself, should have as regards its existence a final purpose, which if it could be proved a priori would add objectivity to the subjective reality of the final purpose [of rational beings]. For if the creation has on the whole a final purpose, we cannot think it otherwise than as harmonising with the moral purpose (which alone makes the concept of a purpose possible). Now we find without doubt purposes in the world, and physical Teleology exhibits them in such abundance, that if we judge in accordance with Reason, we have ground for assuming as a principle in the investigation of nature that nothing in nature is without a purpose; but the final purpose of nature we seek there in vain. This can and must therefore, as its Idea only lies in Reason, be sought as regards its objective possibility only in rational beings. And the practical Reason of these latter not only supplies this final purpose; it also determines this concept in respect of the conditions under which alone a final purpose of creation can be thought by us.
The question is now, whether the objective reality of the concept of a final purpose of creation cannot be exhibited adequately to the theoretical requirements of pure Reason—if not apodictically for the determinant Judgement yet adequately for the maxims of the theoretical reflective Judgement? This is the least one could expect from theoretical philosophy, which undertakes to combine the moral purpose with natural purposes by means of the Idea of one single purpose; but yet this little is far more than it can accomplish.
According to the principle of the theoretical reflective Judgement we should say: if we have ground for assuming for the purposive products of nature a supreme Cause of nature—whose causality in respect of the actuality of creation is of a different kind from that required for the mechanism of nature, i.e. must be thought as the causality of an Understanding—we have also sufficient ground for thinking in this original Being not merely the purposes everywhere in nature but also a final purpose. This is not indeed a final purpose by which we can explain the presence of such a Being, but one of which we may at least convince ourselves (as was the case in physical Teleology) that we can make the possibility of such a world conceivable, not merely according to purposes, but only through the fact that we ascribe to its existence a final purpose.
But a final purpose is merely a concept of our practical Reason, and can be inferred from no data of experience for the theoretical judging of nature, nor can it be applied to the cognition of nature. No use of this concept is possible except its use for practical Reason according to moral laws; and the final purpose of creation is that constitution of the world which harmonises with that which alone we can put forward definitely according to laws, viz. the final purpose of our pure practical Reason, in so far as it is to be practical.— Now we have in the moral law, which enjoins on us in a practical point of view the application of our powers to the accomplishment of this final purpose, a ground for assuming its possibility and practicability, and consequently too (because without the concurrence of nature with a condition not in our power, its accomplishment would be impossible) a nature of things harmonious with it. Hence we have a moral ground for thinking in a world also a final purpose of creation.
We have not yet advanced from moral Teleology to a Theology, i.e. to the being of a moral Author of the world, but only to a final purpose of creation which is determined in this way. But in order to account for this creation, i.e. the existence of things, in accordance with a final purpose, we must assume not only first an intelligent Being (for the possibility of things of nature which we are compelled to judge of as purposes), but also a moral Being, as author of the world, i.e. a God. This second conclusion is of such a character that we see it holds merely for the Judgement according to concepts of practical Reason, and as such for the reflective and not the determinant Judgement. It is true that in us morally practical Reason is essentially different in its principles from technically practical Reason. But we cannot assume that it must be so likewise in the supreme World-Cause, regarded as Intelligence, and that a peculiar mode of its causality is requisite for the final purpose, different from that which is requisite merely for purposes of nature. We cannot therefore assume that in our final purpose we have not merely a moral ground for admitting a final purpose of creation (as an effect), but also for admitting a moral Being as the original ground of creation. But we may well say, that, according to the constitution of our rational faculty, we cannot comprehend the possibility of such a purposiveness in respect of the moral law, and its Object, as there is in this final purpose, apart from an Author and Governor of the world, who is at the same time its moral Lawgiver.
The actuality of a highest morally-legislating Author is therefore sufficiently established merely for the practical use of our Reason, without determining anything theoretically as regards its being. For Reason requires, in respect of the possibility of its purpose, which is given to us independently by its own legislation, an Idea through which the inability to follow up this purpose, according to the mere natural concepts of the world, is removed (sufficiently for the reflective Judgement). Thus this Idea gains practical reality, although all means of creating such for it in a theoretical point of view, for the explanation of nature and determination of the supreme Cause, are entirely wanting for speculative cognition. For the theoretical reflective Judgement physical Teleology sufficiently proves from the purposes of nature an intelligent World-Cause; for the practical Judgement moral Teleology establishes it by the concept of a final purpose, which it is forced to ascribe to creation in a practical point of view. The objective reality of the Idea of God, as moral Author of the world, cannot, it is true, be established by physical purposes alone. But nevertheless, if the cognition of these purposes is combined with that of the moral purpose, they are, by virtue of the maxim of pure Reason which bids us seek unity of principles so far as is possible, of great importance for the practical reality of that Idea, by bringing in the reality which it has for the Judgement in a theoretical point of view.
To prevent a misunderstanding which may easily arise, it is in the highest degree needful to remark that, in the first place, we can think these properties of the highest Being only according to analogy. How indeed could we explore the nature of that, to which experience can show us nothing similar? Secondly, in this way we only think the supreme Being; we cannot thereby cognise Him and ascribe anything theoretically to Him. It would be needful for the determinant Judgement in the speculative aspect of our Reason, to consider what the supreme World-Cause is in Himself. But here we are only concerned with the question what concept we can form of Him, according to the constitution of our cognitive faculties; and whether we have to assume His existence in order merely to furnish practical reality to a purpose, which pure Reason without any such presupposition enjoins upon us a priori to bring about with all our powers, i.e. in order to be able to think as possible a designed effect. Although that concept may be transcendent for the speculative Reason, and the properties which we ascribe to the Being thereby thought may, objectively used, conceal an anthropomorphism in themselves; yet the design of its use is not to determine the nature of that Being which is unattainable by us, but to determine ourselves and our will accordingly. We may call a cause after the concept which we have of its effect (though only in reference to this relation), without thereby meaning to determine internally its inner constitution, by means of the properties which can be made known to us solely by similar causes and must be given in experience. For example, amongst other properties we ascribe to the soul a vis locomotiva because bodily movements actually arise whose cause lies in the representation of them; without therefore meaning to ascribe to it the only mode [of action] that we know in moving forces (viz. by attraction, pressure, impulse, and consequently motion, which always presuppose an extended being). Just so we must assume something, which contains the ground of the possibility and practical reality, i.e. the practicability, of a necessary moral final purpose; but we can think of this, in accordance with the character of the effect expected of it, as a wise Being governing the world according to moral laws, and, conformably to the constitution of our cognitive faculties, as a cause of things distinct from nature, only in order to express the relation of this Being (which transcends all our cognitive faculties) to the Objects of our practical Reason. We do not pretend thus to ascribe to it theoretically the only causality of this kind known to us, viz. an Understanding and a Will: we do not even pretend to distinguish objectively the causality thought in this Being, as regards what is for us final purpose, from the causality thought in it as regards nature (and its purposive determinations in general). We can only assume this distinction as subjectively necessary by the constitution of our cognitive faculties, and as valid for the reflective, not for the objectively determinant Judgement. But if we come to practice, then such a regulative principle (of prudence or wisdom) [commanding us] to act conformably to that as purpose, which by the constitution of our cognitive faculties can only be thought as possible in a certain way, is at the same constitutive, i.e. practically determinant. Nevertheless, as a principle for judging of the objective possibility of things, it is no way theoretically determinant (i.e. it does not say that the only kind of possibility which belongs to the Object is that which belongs to our thinking faculty), but is a mere regulative principle for the reflective Judgement.
This moral proof is not one newly discovered, although perhaps its basis is newly set forth; since it has lain in man’s rational faculty from its earliest germ, and is only continually developed with its advancing cultivation. So soon as men begin to reflect upon right and wrong—at a time when, quite indifferent as to the purposiveness of nature, they avail themselves of it without thinking anything more of it than that it is the accustomed course of nature—this judgement is inevitable, viz. that the issue cannot be the same, whether a man has behaved candidly or falsely, fairly or violently, even though up to his life’s end, as far as can be seen, he has met with no happiness for his virtues, no punishment for his vices. It is as if they perceived a voice within [saying] that the issue must be different. And so there must lie hidden in them a representation, however obscure, of something after which they feel themselves bound to strive; with which such a result would not agree,—with which, if they looked upon the course of the world as the only order of things, they could not harmonise that inner purposive determination of their minds. Now they might represent in various rude fashions the way in which such an irregularity could be adjusted (an irregularity which must be far more revolting to the human mind than the blind chance that we are sometimes willing to use as a principle for judging of nature). But they could never think any other principle of the possibility of the unification of nature with its inner ethical laws, than a supreme Cause governing the world according to moral laws; because a final purpose in them proposed as duty, and a nature without any final purpose beyond them in which that purpose might be actualised, would involve a contradiction. As to the [inner]1 constitution of that World-Cause they could contrive much nonsense. But that moral relation in the government of the world would remain always the same, which by the uncultivated Reason, considered as practical, is universally comprehensible, but with which the speculative Reason can make far from the like advance.—And in all probability attention would be directed first by this moral interest to the beauty and the purposes in nature, which would serve excellently to strengthen this Idea though they could not be the foundation of it. Still less could that moral interest be dispensed with, because it is only in reference to the final purpose that the investigation of the purposes of nature acquires that immediate interest which displays itself in such a great degree in the admiration of them without any reference to the advantage to be derived from them.
Of the use of the moral argument
The limitation of Reason in respect of all our Ideas of the supersensible to the conditions of its practical employment has, as far as the Idea of God is concerned, undeniable uses. For it prevents Theology from rising into Theosophy (into transcendent concepts which confound Reason), or from sinking into Demonology (an anthropomorphic way of representing the highest Being). And it also prevents Religion from turning into Theurgy (a fanatical belief that we can have a feeling of other supersensible beings and can reciprocally influence them), or into Idolatry (a superstitious belief that we can please the Supreme Being by other means than by a moral sentiment).1
For if we permit the vanity or the presumption of sophistry to determine the least thing theoretically (in a way that extends our knowledge) in respect of what lies beyond the world of sense, or if we allow any pretence to be made of insight into the being and constitution of the nature of God, of His Understanding and Will, of the laws of both and of His properties which thus affect the world, I should like to know where and at what point we will bound these assumptions of Reason. For wherever such insight can be derived, there may yet more be expected (if we only strain our reflection, as we have a mind to do). Bounds must then be put to such claims according to a certain principle, and not merely because we find that all attempts of the sort have hitherto failed, for that proves nothing against the possibility of a better result. But here no principle is possible, except either to assume that in respect of the supersensible absolutely nothing can be theoretically determined (except mere negations); or else that our Reason contains in itself a yet unused mine of cognitions, reaching no one knows how far, stored up for ourselves and our posterity.— But as concerns Religion, i.e. morals in reference to God as legislator, if the theoretical cognition of Him is to come first, morals must be adjusted in accordance with Theology; and not only is an external arbitrary legislation of a Supreme Being introduced in place of an internal necessary legislation of Reason, but also whatever is defective in our insight into the nature of this Being must extend to ethical precepts, and thus make Religion immoral and perverted.
As regards the hope of a future life, if instead of the final purpose we have to accomplish in conformity with the precept of the moral law, we ask of our theoretical faculty of cognition a clue for the judgement of Reason upon our destination (which clue is only considered as necessary or worthy of acceptance in a practical reference), then in this aspect Psychology, like Theology, gives no more than a negative concept of our thinking being. That is, none of its actions or of the phenomena of the internal sense can be explained materialistically; and hence of its separate nature and of the continuance or non-continuance of its personality after death absolutely no ampliative determinant judgement is possible on speculative grounds by means of our whole theoretical cognitive faculty. Here then everything is handed over to the teleological judging of our existence in a practically necessary aspect, and to the assumption of our continuance as a condition requisite for the final purpose absolutely furnished by Reason. And so this advantage (which indeed at first glance seems to be a loss) is apparent; that, as Theology for us can never be Theosophy, or rational Psychology become Pneumatology—an ampliative science—so on the other hand this latter is assured of never falling into Materialism. Psychology, rather, is a mere anthropology of the internal sense, i.e. is the knowledge of our thinking self in life; and, as theoretical cognition, remains merely empirical. On the other hand, rational Psychology, as far as it is concerned with questions as to our eternal existence, is not a theoretical science at all, but rests on a single conclusion of moral Teleology; as also its whole use is necessary merely on account of the latter, i.e. on account of our practical destination.
Of the kind of belief in a teleological proof of the Being of God
The first requisite for every proof, whether it be derived from the immediate empirical presentation (as in the proof from observation of the object or from experiment) of that which is to be proved, or by Reason a priori from principles, is this. It should not persuade, but convince,1 or at least should tend to conviction. I.e. the ground of proof or the conclusion should not be merely a subjective (aesthetical) determining ground of assent (mere illusion), but objectively valid and a logical ground of cognition; for otherwise the Understanding is ensnared, but not convinced. Such an illusory proof is that which, perhaps with good intent but yet with wilful concealment of its weaknesses, is adduced in Natural Theology. In this we bring in the great number of indications of the origin of natural things according to the principle of purposes, and take advantage of the merely subjective basis of human Reason, viz. its special propensity to think only one principle instead of several, whenever this can be done without contradiction; and, when in this principle only one or more requisites for determining a concept are furnished, to add in our thought these additional [features] so as to complete the concept of the thing by arbitrarily supplementing it. For, in truth, when we meet with so many products in nature which are to us marks of an intelligent cause, why should we not think One cause rather than many; and in this One, not merely great intelligence, power, etc., but rather Omniscience, and Omnipotence—in a word, think it as a Cause that contains the sufficient ground of such properties in all possible things? Further, why should we not ascribe to this unique, all-powerful, original Being not only intelligence for natural laws and products, but also, as to a moral Cause of the world, supreme, ethical, practical Reason? For by this completion of the concept a sufficient principle is furnished both for insight into nature and for moral wisdom; and no objection grounded in any way can be made against the possibility of such an Idea. If now at the same time the moral motives of the mind are aroused, and a lively interest in the latter is added by the force of eloquence (of which they are indeed very worthy), then there arises therefrom a persuasion of the objective adequacy of the proof; and also (in most cases of its use) a wholesome illusion which quite dispenses with all examination of its logical strictness, and even on the contrary regards this with abhorrence and dislike as if an impious doubt lay at its basis.— Now against this there is indeed nothing to say, so long as we only have regard to its popular usefulness. But then the division of the proof into the two dissimilar parts involved in the argument — belonging to physical and moral Teleology respectively—cannot and must not be prevented. For the blending of these makes it impossible to discern where the proper force of the proof lies, and in what part and how it must be elaborated in order that its validity may be able to stand the strictest examination (even if we should be compelled to admit in one part the weakness of our rational insight). Thus it is the duty of the philosopher (supposing even that he counts as nothing the claims of sincerity) to expose the above illusion, however wholesome it is, which such a confusion can produce; and to distinguish what merely belongs to persuasion from that which leads to conviction (for these are determinations of assent which differ not merely in degree but in kind), in order to present plainly the state of the mind in this proof in its whole clearness, and to be able to subject it frankly to the closest examination.
But a proof which is intended to convince, can again be of two kinds; either deciding what the object is in itself, or what it is for us (for men in general) according to our necessary rational principles of judgement (proof κατ’ ἀλήθειαν or κατ’ ἄνθρωπον, the last word being taken in its universal signification of man in general). In the first case it is based on adequate principles for the determinant Judgement, in the second for the reflective Judgement. In the latter case it can never, when resting on merely theoretical principles, tend to conviction; but if a practical principle of Reason (which is therefore universally and necessarily valid) lies at its basis, it may certainly lay claim to conviction adequate in a pure practical point of view, i.e. to moral conviction. But a proof tends to conviction, though without convincing, if it is [merely]1 brought on the way thereto; i.e. if it contains in itself only objective grounds, which although not attaining to certainty are yet of such a kind that they do not serve merely for persuasion as subjective grounds of the judgement.2
All theoretical grounds of proof resolve themselves either into: (1) Proofs by logically strict Syllogisms of Reason; or where this is not the case, (2) Conclusions according to analogy; or where this also has no place, (3) Probable opinion; or finally, which has the least weight, (4) Assumption of a merely possible ground of explanation, i.e. Hypothesis.— Now I say that all grounds of proof in general, which aim at theoretical conviction, can bring about no belief of this kind from the highest to the lowest degree, if there is to be proved the proposition of the existence of an original Being, as a God, in the signification adequate to the whole content of this concept; viz. a moral Author of the world, by whom the final purpose of creation is at the same time supplied.
(1.) As to the logically accurate proof proceeding from universal to particular, we have sufficiently established in the Critique the following: Since no intuition possible for us corresponds to the concept of a Being that is to be sought beyond nature—whose concept therefore, so far as it is to be theoretically determined by synthetical predicates, remains always problematical for us—there is absolutely no cognition of it to be had (by which the extent of our theoretical knowledge is in the least enlarged). The particular concept of a supersensible Being cannot be subsumed under the universal principles of the nature of things, in order to conclude from them to it, because those principles are valid simply for nature, as an object of sense.
(2.) We can indeed think one of two dissimilar things, even in the very point of their dissimilarity, in accordance with the analogy1 of the other; but we cannot, from that wherein they are dissimilar, conclude from the one to the other by analogy, i.e. transfer from the one to the other this sign of specific distinction. Thus I can, according to the analogy of the law of the equality of action and reaction in the mutual attraction and repulsion of bodies, also conceive of the association of the members of a commonwealth according to rules of right; but I cannot transfer to it those specific determinations (material attraction or repulsion), and ascribe them to the citizens in order to constitute a system called a state.— Just so we can indeed conceive of the causality of the original Being in respect of the things of the world, as natural purposes, according to the analogy of an Understanding, as ground of the forms of certain products which we call works of art (for this only takes place on behalf of the theoretical or practical use that we have to make by our cognitive faculty of this concept in respect of the natural things in the world according to a certain principle). But we can in no way conclude according to analogy, because in the case of beings of the world Understanding must be ascribed to the cause of an effect which is judged artificial, that in respect of nature the same causality which we perceive in men attaches also to the Being which is quite distinct from nature. For this concerns the very point of dissimilarity which is thought between a cause sensibly conditioned in respect of its effects and the supersensible original Being itself in our concept of it, and which therefore cannot be transferred from one to the other.— In the very fact that I must conceive the divine causality only according to the analogy of an Understanding (which faculty we know in no other being than in sensibly-conditioned man) lies the prohibition to ascribe to it this Understanding in its peculiar signification.1
(3.) Opinion finds in a priori judgements no place whatever, for by them we either cognise something as quite certain or else cognise nothing at all. But if the given grounds of proof from which we start (as here from the purposes in the world) are empirical, then we cannot even with their aid form any opinion as to anything beyond the world of sense, nor can we concede to such venturesome judgements the smallest claim to probability. For probability is part of a certainty possible in a certain series of grounds (its grounds compare with the sufficient ground as parts with a whole), the insufficient ground of which must be susceptible of completion. But since, as determining grounds of one and the same judgement, they must be of the same kind, for otherwise they would not together constitute a whole (such as certainty is), one part of them cannot lie within the bounds of possible experience and another outside all possible experience. Consequently, since merely empirical grounds of proof lead to nothing supersensible, and since what is lacking in the series of them cannot in any way be completed, we do not approach in the least nearer in our attempt to attain by their means to the supersensible and to a cognition thereof. Thus in any judgement about the latter by means of arguments derived from experience, probability has no place.
(4.) If an hypothesis is to serve for the explanation of the possibility of a given phenomenon, at least its possibility must be completely certain.1 It is sufficient that in an hypothesis I disclaim any cognition of actuality (which is claimed in an opinion given out as probable); more than this I cannot give up. The possibility of that which I place at the basis of my explanation, must at least be exposed to no doubt; otherwise there would be no end of empty chimeras. But to assume the possibility of a supersensible Being determined according to certain concepts would be a completely groundless supposition. For here none of the conditions requisite for cognition, as regards that in it which rests upon intuition, is given, and so the sole criterion of possibility remaining is the mere principle of Contradiction (which can only prove the possibility of the thought, not of the object thought).
The result then is this. For the existence [Dasein] of the original Being, as a Godhead, or of the soul as an immortal spirit, absolutely no proof in a theoretical point of view is possible for the human Reason, which can bring about even the least degree of belief. The ground of this is quite easy to comprehend. For determining our Ideas of the supersensible we have no material whatever, and we must derive this latter from things in the world of sense, which is absolutely inadequate for such an Object. Thus, in the absence of all determination of it, nothing remains but the concept of a non-sensible something which contains the ultimate ground of the world of sense, but which does not furnish any knowledge (any amplification of the concept) of its inner constitution.
Of the kind of belief produced by a practical faith
If we look merely to the way in which anything can be for us (according to the subjective constitution of our representative powers) an Object of knowledge (res cognoscibilis), then our concepts will not cohere with Objects, but merely with our cognitive faculties and the use which they can make of a given representation (in a theoretical or practical point of view). Thus the question whether anything is or is not a cognisable being is not a question concerning the possibility of things but of our knowledge of them.
Cognisable things are of three kinds: things of opinion (opinabile); things of fact (scibile); and things of faith (mere credibile).
(1.) Objects of mere rational Ideas, which for theoretical knowledge cannot be presented in any possible experience, are so far not cognisable things, and consequently in respect of them we can form no opinion; for to form an opinion a priori is absurd in itself and the straight road to mere chimeras. Either then our proposition is certain a priori or it contains nothing for belief. Therefore things of opinion are always Objects of an empirical cognition at least possible in itself (objects of the world of sense); but, which, on account merely of the [low] degree of this faculty that we possess, is for us impossible. Thus the ether of the new physicists,1 an elastic fluid pervading all other matter (mingled intimately with it) is a mere thing of opinion, yet is such that, if our external senses were sharpened to the highest degree, it could be perceived; though it can never be presented in any observation or experiment. To assume [the existence of] rational inhabitants of other planets is a thing of opinion; for if we could come closer to them, which is in itself possible, we should decide by experience whether they did or did not exist; but as we shall never come so near, it remains in the region of opinion. But to hold the opinion that there are in the material universe pure thinking spirits without bodies (viz. if we dismiss as unworthy of our notice certain phenomena which have been published as actual2 ) is to be called poetic fiction. This is no thing of opinion, but a mere Idea which remains over, when we remove from a thinking being everything material, and only leave thought to it. Whether then the latter (which we know only in man, that is, in combination with a body) does survive, we cannot decide. Such a thing is a sophistical being (ens rationis ratiocinantis), not a rational being (ens rationis ratiocinatae)1 ; of which latter it is possible to show conclusively, the objective reality of its concept; at least for the practical use of Reason, because this which has its peculiar and apodictically certain principles a priori, demands (postulates) it.
(2.) Objects for concepts, whose objective reality can be proved (whether through pure Reason or through experience, and, in the first case, from its theoretical or practical data, in all cases by means of a corresponding intuition) are things of fact (res facti).2 Of this kind are the mathematical properties of magnitudes (in geometry), because they are susceptible of a presentation a priori for the theoretical use of Reason. Further, things or their characteristics, which can be exhibited in experience (either our own or that of others through the medium of testimony) are likewise things of fact.—And, what is very remarkable, there is one rational Idea (susceptible in itself of no presentation in intuition, and consequently, of no theoretical proof of its possibility) which also comes under things of fact. This is the Idea of freedom, whose reality, regarded as that of a particular kind of causality (of which the concept, theoretically considered, would be transcendent), may be exhibited by means of practical laws of pure Reason, and conformably to this, in actual actions, and, consequently, in experience.— This is the only one of all the Ideas of pure Reason, whose object is a thing of fact, and to be reckoned under the scibilia.
(3.) Objects, which in reference to the use of pure practical Reason that is in conformity with duty must be thought a priori (whether as consequences or as grounds), but which are transcendent for its theoretical use, are mere things of faith. Of this kind is the highest good in the world, to be brought about by freedom.1 The concept of this cannot be established as regards its objective reality in any experience possible for us and thus adequately for the theoretical use of Reason; but its use is commanded by practical pure Reason [in reference to the best possible working out of that purpose],2 and it consequently must be assumed possible. This commanded effect, together with the only conditions of its possibility thinkable by us, viz. the Being of God and the immortality of the soul, are things of faith (res fidei), and of all objects are the only ones which can be so called.3 For though what we learn by testimony from the experience of others must be believed by us, yet it is not therefore a thing of faith; for it was the proper experience of some one witness and so a thing of fact, or is presupposed as such. Again it must be possible by this path (that of historical faith) to arrive at knowledge; and the Objects of history and geography, like everything in general which it is at least possible to know by the constitution of our cognitive faculties, belong not to things of faith but to things of fact. It is only objects of pure Reason which can be things of faith at all, though not as objects of the mere pure speculative Reason: for then they could not be reckoned with certainty among things, i.e. Objects of that cognition which is possible for us. They are Ideas, i.e. concepts of the objective reality of which we cannot theoretically be certain. On the other hand, the highest final purpose to be worked out by us, by which alone we can become worthy of being ourselves the final purpose of creation, is an Idea which has in a practical reference objective reality for us, and is also a thing. But because we cannot furnish such reality to this concept in a theoretical point of view, it is a mere thing of faith of the pure Reason, along with God and Immortality, as the conditions under which alone we, in accordance with the constitution of our (human) Reason, can conceive the possibility of that effect of the use of our freedom in conformity with law. But belief in things of faith is a belief in a pure practical point of view, i.e. a moral faith, which proves nothing for theoretical pure rational cognition, but only for that which is practical and directed to the fulfilment of its duties; it in no way extends speculation or the practical rules of prudence in accordance with the principle of self-love. If the supreme principle of all moral laws is a postulate, so is also the possibility of its highest Object; and consequently, too, the condition under which we can think this possibility is postulated along with it and by it. Thus the cognition of the latter is neither knowledge nor opinion of the being and character of these conditions, regarded as theoretical cognition; but is a mere assumption in a reference which is practical and commanded for the moral use of our Reason.
If we were able also plausibly to base upon the purposes of nature, which physical Teleology presents to us in such rich abundance, a determinate concept of an intelligent World-Cause, then the existence [Dasein] of this Being would not be a thing of faith. For since this would not be assumed on behalf of the performance of my duty, but only in reference to the explanation of nature, it would be merely the opinion and hypothesis most conformable to our Reason. Now such Teleology leads in no way to a determinate concept of God; on the contrary, this can only be found in the concept of a moral Author of the World, because this alone furnishes the final purpose to which we can only reckon ourselves [as attached] if we behave conformably to what the moral law prescribes as final purpose and consequently obliges us [to do]. Hence it is only by its reference to the Object of our duty, as the condition of the possibility of attaining the final purpose of the same, that the concept of God attains the privilege of counting as a thing of faith, in our belief; but on the other hand, this same concept cannot make its Object valid as a thing of fact. For, although the necessity of duty is very plain for practical Reason, yet the attainment of its final purpose, so far as it is not altogether in our own power, is only assumed on behalf of the practical use of Reason, and therefore is not so practically necessary as duty itself.1
Faith (as habitus, not as actus) is the moral attitude of Reason as to belief in that which is unattainable by theoretical cognition. It is therefore the constant principle of the mind, to assume as true, on account of the obligation in reference to it, that which it is necessary to presuppose as condition of the possibility of the highest moral final purpose2 ; although its possibility or impossibility be alike impossible for us to see into. Faith (absolutely so called) is trust in the attainment of a design, the promotion of which is a duty, but the possibility of the fulfilment of which (and consequently also that of the only conditions of it thinkable by us) is not to be comprehended by us. Faith, then, that refers to particular objects, which are not objects of possible knowledge or opinion (in which latter case it ought to be called, especially in historical matters, credulity and not faith), is quite moral. It is a free belief, not in that for which dogmatical proofs for the theoretically determinant Judgement are to be found, or in that to which we hold ourselves bound, but in that which we assume on behalf of a design in accordance with laws of freedom. This, however, is not, like opinion, without any adequate ground; but, is grounded as in Reason (although only in respect of its practical employment), and adequately for its design. For without this, the moral attitude of thought in its repudiation of the claim of the theoretical Reason for proofs (of the possibility of the Objects of morality) has no permanence; but wavers between practical commands and theoretical doubts. To be incredulous means to cling to maxims, and not to believe testimony in general; but he is unbelieving, who denies all validity to rational Ideas, because there is wanting a theoretical ground of their reality.1 He judges therefore dogmatically. A dogmatical unbelief cannot subsist together with a moral maxim dominant in the mental attitude (for Reason cannot command one to follow a purpose, which is cognised as nothing more than a chimera); but a doubtful faith can. To this the absence of conviction by grounds of speculative Reason is only a hindrance, the influence of which upon conduct a critical insight into the limits of this faculty can remove, while it substitutes by way of compensation a paramount practical belief.
If, in place of certain mistaken attempts, we wish to introduce a different principle into philosophy and to promote its influence, it makes us highly contented to see how and why those attempts must have disappointed us.
God, freedom, and immortality, are the problems at the solution of which all the equipments of Metaphysic aim, as their ultimate and unique purpose. Now it was believed that the doctrine of freedom is needed for practical philosophy only as its negative condition; but that on the other hand the doctrine of God and of the constitution of the soul, as belonging to theoretical philosophy, must be established for themselves and separately, in order afterwards to unite both with that which the moral law (possible only under the condition of freedom) commands, and so to constitute a religion. But we can easily see that these attempts must fail. For from mere ontological concepts of things in general, or of the existence of a necessary Being, it is possible to form absolutely no determinate concept of an original Being by means of predicates which can be given in experience and can therefore serve for cognition. Again a concept based on experience of the physical purposiveness of nature could furnish no adequate proof for morality, or consequently for cognition of a Deity. Just as little could the cognition of the soul by means of experience (which we only apply in this life) supply us with a concept of its spiritual immortal nature, a concept which would be adequate for morality. Theology and Pneumatology, regarded as problems of the sciences of a speculative Reason, can be established by no empirical data and predicates, because the concept of them is transcendent for our whole cognitive faculty.— The determination of both concepts, God and the soul (in respect of its immortality) alike, can only take place by means of predicates, which, although they are only possible from a supersensible ground, must yet prove their reality in experience; for thus alone can they make possible a cognition of a quite supersensible Being.— The only concept of this kind to be met with in human Reason is that of the freedom of men under moral laws, along with the final purpose which Reason prescribes by these laws. Of these two [the moral laws and the final purpose] the first are useful for ascribing to the Author of Nature, the second for ascribing to man, those properties which contain the necessary condition of the possibility of both [God and the soul]; so that from this Idea a conclusion can be drawn as to the existence and constitution of these beings which are otherwise quite hidden from us.
Thus the ground of the failure of the attempt to prove God and immortality by the merely theoretical path lies in this, that no cognition whatever is possible of the supersensible in this way (of natural concepts). The ground of its success by the moral way (of the concept of freedom) is as follows. Here the supersensible (freedom), which in this case is fundamental, by a determinate law of causality that springs from it, not only supplies material for cognition of other supersensibles (the moral final purpose and the conditions of its attainability), but also establishes its reality in actions as a fact; though at the same time it can furnish a valid ground of proof in no other than a practical point of view (the only one, however, of which Religion has need).
It is thus very remarkable that of the three pure rational Ideas, God, freedom, and immortality, that of freedom is the only concept of the supersensible which (by means of the causality that is thought in it) proves its objective reality in nature by means of the effects it can produce there; and thus renders possible the connexion of both the others with nature, and of all three together with Religion. We have therefore in us a principle capable of determining the Idea of the supersensible within us, and thus also that of the supersensible without us, for knowledge, although only in a practical point of view; a principle this of which mere speculative philosophy (which could give a merely negative concept of freedom) must despair. Consequently the concept of freedom (as fundamental concept of all unconditioned practical laws) can extend Reason beyond those bounds, within which every natural (theoretical) concept must remain hopelessly limited.
General remark on Teleology
If the question is, what rank the moral argument, which proves the Being of God only as a thing of faith for the practical pure Reason, maintains among the other arguments in philosophy, it is easy to set aside the whole achievement of this last; by which it appears that there is no choice, but that our theoretical faculty must give up all its pretensions before an impartial criticism.
All belief must in the first place be grounded upon facts, if it is not to be completely groundless; and therefore the only distinction in proofs that there can be is that belief in the consequence derived therefrom can either be grounded on this fact as knowledge for theoretical cognition, or merely as faith for practical. All facts belong either to the natural concept which proves its reality in the objects of sense, given (or which may possibly be given) before all natural concepts; or to the concept of freedom, which sufficiently establishes its reality through the causality of Reason in regard of certain effects in the world of sense, possible through it, which it incontrovertibly postulates in the moral law. The natural concept (merely belonging to theoretical cognition) is now either metaphysical and thinkable completely a priori, or physical, i.e. thinkable a posteriori and as necessary only through determinate experience. The metaphysical natural concept (which presupposes no determinate experience) is therefore ontological.
The ontological proof of the being of God from the concept of an original Being is either that which from ontological predicates, by which alone it can be thought as completely determined, infers absolutely necessary being; or that which, from the absolute necessity of the being somewhere of some thing, whatever it be, infers the predicates of the original Being. For there belongs to the concept of an original Being, inasmuch as it is not derived from anything, the unconditioned necessity of its presence, and (in order to represent this) its complete determination by its [mere]1 concept. It was believed that both requirements were found in the concept of the ontological Idea of a Being the most real of all; and thus two metaphysical proofs originated.
The proof (properly called ontological) resting upon a merely metaphysical natural concept concludes from the concept of the Being the most real of all, its absolutely necessary existence; for (it is said), if it did not exist, a reality would be wanting to it, viz. existence.— The other (which is also called the metaphysico-cosmological proof) concludes from the necessity of the existence somewhere of a thing (which must be conceded, for a being is given to us in self-consciousness), its complete determination as that of a Being the most real of all; for everything existing must be completely determined, but the absolutely necessary (i.e. that which we ought to cognise as such and consequently a priori) must be completely determined by means of its own concept. But this is only the case with the concept of a thing the most real of all. It is not needful to expose here the sophistry in both arguments, which has been already done elsewhere;1 it is only needful to remark that neither proof, even if they could be defended by all manner of dialectical subtlety, could ever pass from the schools into the world, or have the slightest influence on the mere sound Understanding.
The proof, which rests on a natural concept that can only be empirical and yet is to lead us beyond the bounds of nature regarded as the complex of the objects of sense, can be no other than that derived from the purposes of nature. The concept of these cannot, it is true, be given a priori but only through experience; but yet it promises such a concept of the original ground of nature as alone, among all those which we can conceive, is suited to the supersensible, viz. that of a highest Understanding as Cause of the world. This, in fact, it completely performs in accordance with principles of the reflective Judgement, i.e. in accordance with the constitution of our (human) faculty of cognition.— But whether or not it is in a position to supply from the same data this concept of a supreme, i.e. independent intelligent Being, in short of a God or Author of a world under moral laws, and consequently as sufficiently determined for the Idea of a final purpose of the being of the world—this is the question upon which everything depends, whether we desire a theoretically adequate concept of the Original Being on behalf of our whole knowledge of nature, or a practical concept for religion.
This argument derived from physical Teleology is worthy of respect. It produces a similar effect in the way of conviction upon the common Understanding as upon the subtlest thinker; and a Reimarus1 has acquired immortal honour in his work (not yet superseded), in which he abundantly develops this ground of proof with his peculiar thoroughness and lucidity.— But how does this proof acquire such mighty influence upon the mind? How does a judgement by cold reason (for we might refer to persuasion the emotion and elevation of reason produced by the wonders of nature) issue thus in a calm and unreserved assent? It is not the physical purposes, which all indicate in the World Cause an unfathomable intelligence; these are inadequate thereto, because they do not satisfy the need of the inquiring Reason. For, wherefore (it asks) are all those natural things that exhibit art? Wherefore is man himself, whom we must regard as the ultimate purpose of nature thinkable by us? Wherefore is this collective Nature here, and what is the final purpose of such great and manifold art? Reason cannot be contented with enjoyment or with contemplation, observation, and admiration (which, if it stops there, is only enjoyment of a particular kind) as the ultimate final purpose for the creation of the world and of man himself; for this presupposes a personal worth, which man alone can give himself, as the condition under which alone he and his being can be the final purpose. Failing this (which alone is susceptible of a definite concept), the purposes of nature do not satisfactorily answer our questions; especially because they cannot furnish any determinate concept of the highest Being as an all-sufficient (and therefore unique and so properly called highest) being, and of the laws according to which an Understanding is Cause of the world.
Hence that the physico-teleological proof convinces, just as if it were a theological proof, does not arise from our availing ourselves of the Ideas of purposes of nature as so many empirical grounds of proof of a highest Understanding. But it mingles itself unnoticed with that moral ground of proof, which dwells in every man and influences him secretly, in the conclusion by which we ascribe to the Being, which manifests itself with such incomprehensible art in the purposes of nature, a final purpose and consequently wisdom (without however being justified in doing so by the perception of the former); and by which therefore we arbitrarily fill up the lacunas of the [design] argument. In fact it is only the moral ground of proof which produces conviction, and that only in a moral reference with which every man feels inwardly his agreement. But the physico - teleological proof has only the merit of leading the mind, in its consideration of the world, by the way of purposes and through them to an intelligent Author of the world. The moral reference to purposes and the Idea of a moral legislator and Author of the world, as a theological concept, seem to be developed of themselves out of that ground of proof, although they are in truth pure additions.
Henceforward we may allow the customary statement to stand. For it is generally difficult (if the distinction requires much reflection) for ordinary sound Understanding to distinguish from one another as heterogeneous the different principles which it confuses, and from one of which alone it actually draws conclusions with correctness. The moral ground of proof of the Being of God, properly speaking, does not merely complete and render perfect the physico-teleological proof; but it is a special proof that supplies the conviction which is wanting in the latter. This latter in fact can do nothing more than guide Reason, in its judgements upon the ground of nature and that contingent but admirable order of nature only known to us by experience, to the causality of a Cause containing the ground of the same in accordance with purposes (which we by the constitution of our cognitive faculties must think as an intelligent cause); and thus by arresting the attention of Reason it makes it more susceptible of the moral proof. For what is requisite to the latter concept is so essentially different from everything which natural concepts contain and can teach, that there is need of a particular ground of proof quite independent of the former, in order to supply the concept of the original Being adequately for Theology and to infer its existence.— The moral proof (which it is true only proves the Being of God in a practical though indispensable aspect of Reason) would preserve all its force, if we found in the world no material, or only that which is doubtful, for physical Teleology. It is possible to conceive rational beings surrounded by a nature which displayed no clear trace of organisation but only the effects of a mere mechanism of crude matter; on behalf of which and amid the changeability of some merely contingent purposive forms and relations there would appear to be no ground for inferring an intelligent Author. In such case there would be no occasion for a physical Teleology; and yet Reason, which here gets no guidance from natural concepts, would find in the concept of freedom and in the moral Ideas founded thereon a practically sufficient ground for postulating the concept of the original Being in conformity with these, i.e. as a Deity, and for postulating nature (even the nature of our own being) as a final purpose in accordance with freedom and its laws—and all this in reference to the indispensable command of practical Reason.— However the fact that there is in the actual world for the rational beings in it abundant material for physical Teleology (even though this is not necessary) serves as a desirable confirmation of the moral argument, as far as nature can exhibit anything analogous to the (moral) rational Ideas. For the concept of a supreme Cause possessing intelligence (though not reaching far enough for a Theology) thus acquires sufficient reality for the reflective Judgement, but it is not required as the basis of the moral proof; nor does this latter serve to complete as a proof the former, which does not by itself point to morality at all, by means of an argument developed according to a single principle. Two such heterogeneous principles as nature and freedom can only furnish two different kinds of proof; and the attempt to derive one from the other is found unavailing as regards that which is to be proved.
If the physico-teleological ground of proof sufficed for the proof which is sought, it would be very satisfactory for the speculative Reason; for it would furnish the hope of founding a Theosophy (for so we must call the theoretical cognition of the divine nature and its existence which would suffice at once for the explanation of the constitution of the world and for the determination of moral laws). In the same way if Psychology enabled us to arrive at a cognition of the immortality of the soul it would make Pneumatology possible, which would be just as welcome to the speculative Reason. But neither, agreeable as they would be to the arrogance of our curiosity, would satisfy the wish of Reason in respect of a theory which must be based on a cognition of the nature of things. Whether the first, as Theology, and the second, as Anthropology, when founded on the moral principle, i.e. the principle of freedom, and consequently in accordance with the practical use [of Reason] do not better fulfil their objective final design, is another question which we need not here pursue.
The physico-teleological ground of proof does not reach to Theology, because it does not and cannot give any determinate concept, sufficient for this design, of the original Being; but we must derive this from quite another quarter, or must supply its lacuna by an arbitrary addition. You infer, from the great purposiveness of natural forms and their relations, a world-cause endowed with Understanding; but what is the degree of this Understanding? Without doubt you cannot assume that it is the highest possible Understanding; because for that it would be requisite that you should see that a greater Understanding than that of which you perceive proofs in the world, is not thinkable; and this would be to ascribe Omniscience to yourself.1 In the same way, if you infer from the magnitude of the world the very great might of its Author, you must be content with this having only a comparative significance for your faculty of comprehension; for since you do not know all that is possible, so as to compare it with the magnitude of the world as far as you know it, you cannot infer the Almightiness of its Author from so small a standard, and so on. Now you arrive in this way at no definite concept of an original Being available for a Theology; for this can only be found in the concept of the totality of perfections compatible with intelligence, and you cannot help yourself to this by merely empirical data. But without such a definite concept you cannot infer a unique intelligent original Being; you can only assume it (with whatever motive).— Now it may certainly be conceded that you should arbitrarily add (for Reason has nothing fundamental to say to the contrary): Where so much perfection is found, we may well assume that all perfection is united in a unique Cause of the world, because Reason succeeds better both theoretically and practically with a principle thus definite. But then you cannot regard this concept of the original Being as proved by you, for you have only assumed it on behalf of a better employment of Reason. Hence all lamentation or impotent anger on account of the alleged mischief of rendering doubtful the coherency of your chain of reasoning, is vain pretentiousness, which would fain have us believe that the doubt here freely expressed as to your argument is a doubting of sacred truth, in order that under this cover the shallowness of your argument may pass unnoticed.
Moral Teleology, on the other hand, which is not less firmly based than physical,—which, indeed, rather deserves the preference because it rests a priori on principles inseparable from our Reason—leads to that which is requisite for the possibility of a Theology, viz. to a determinate concept of the supreme Cause, as Cause of the world according to moral laws, and, consequently, to the concept of such a cause as satisfies our moral final purpose. For this are required, as natural properties belonging to it, nothing less than Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and the like, which must be thought as bound up with the moral final purpose which is infinite and thus as adequate to it. Hence moral Teleology alone can furnish the concept of a unique Author of the world, which is available for a Theology.
In this way Theology leads immediately to Religion, i.e. the recognition of our duties as divine commands1 ; because it is only the recognition of our duty and of the final purpose enjoined upon us by Reason which brings out with definiteness the concept of God. This concept, therefore, is inseparable in its origin from obligation to that Being. On the other hand, even if the concept of the original Being could be also found determinately by the merely theoretical path (viz. the concept of it as mere Cause of nature), it would afterwards be very difficult—perhaps impossible without arbitrary interpolation [of elements]—to ascribe to this Being by well-grounded proofs a causality in accordance with moral laws; and yet without this that quasi-theological concept could furnish no foundation for religion. Even if a religion could be established by this theoretical path, it would actually, as regards sentiment (wherein its essence lies) be different from that in which the concept of God and the (practical) conviction of His Being originate from the fundamental Ideas of morality. For if we must suppose the Omnipotence, Omniscience, etc., of an Author of the world as concepts given to us from another quarter, in order afterwards only to apply our concepts of duties to our relation to Him, then these latter concepts must bear very markedly the appearance of compulsion and forced submission. If, instead of this, the respect for the moral law, quite freely, in virtue of the precept of our own Reason, represents to us the final purpose of our destination, we admit among our moral views a Cause harmonising with this and with its accomplishment, with the sincerest reverence, which is quite distinct from pathological fear; and we willingly submit ourselves thereto.1
If it be asked why it is incumbent upon us to have any Theology at all, it appears clear that it is not needed for the extension or correction of our cognition of nature or in general for any theory, but simply in a subjective point of view for Religion, i.e. the practical or moral use of our Reason. If it is found that the only argument which leads to a definite concept of the object of Theology is itself moral, it is not only not strange, but we miss nothing in respect of its final purpose as regards the sufficiency of belief from this ground of proof, provided that it be admitted that such an argument only establishes the Being of God sufficiently for our moral destination, i.e. in a practical point of view, and that here speculation neither shows its strength in any way, nor extends by means of it the sphere of its domain. Our surprise and the alleged contradiction between the possibility of a Theology asserted here and that which the Critique of speculative Reason said of the Categories—viz. that they can only produce knowledge when applied to objects of sense, but in no way when applied to the supersensible—vanish, if we see that they are here used for a cognition of God not in a theoretical point of view (in accordance with what His own nature, inscrutable to us, may be) but simply in a practical.— In order then at this opportunity to make an end of the misinterpretation of that very necessary doctrine of the Critique, which, to the chagrin of the blind dogmatist, refers Reason to its bounds, I add here the following elucidation.
If I ascribe to a body motive force and thus think it by means of the category of causality, then I at the same time cognise it by that [category]; i.e. I determine the concept of it, as of an Object in general, by means of what belongs to it by itself (as the condition of the possibility of that relation) as an object of sense. If the motive force ascribed to it is repulsive, then there belongs to it (although I do not place near it any other body upon which it may exert force) a place in space, and moreover extension, i.e. space in itself, besides the filling up of this by means of the repulsive forces of its parts. In addition there is the law of this filling up (that the ground of the repulsion of the parts must decrease in the same proportion as the extension of the body increases, and as the space, which it fills with the same parts by means of this force, is augmented).— On the contrary, if I think a supersensible Being as the first mover, and thus by the category of causality as regards its determination of the world (motion of matter), I must not think it as existing in any place in space nor as extended; I must not even think it as existing in time or simultaneously with other beings. Hence I have no determinations whatever, which could make intelligible to me the condition of the possibility of motion by means of this Being as its ground. Consequently, I do not in the very least cognise it by means of the predicate of Cause (as first mover), for itself; but I have only the representation of a something containing the ground of the motions in the world; and the relation of the latter to it as their cause, since it does not besides furnish me with anything belonging to the constitution of the thing which is cause, leaves its concept quite empty. The reason of this is, that by predicates which only find their Object in the world of sense I can indeed proceed to the being of something which must contain their ground, but not to the determination of its concept as a supersensible being, which excludes all these predicates. By the category of causality, then, if I determine it by the concept of a first mover, I do not in the very least cognise what God is. Perhaps, however, I shall have better success if I start from the order of the world, not merely to think its causality as that of a supreme Understanding, but to cognise it by means of this determination of the said concept; because here the troublesome condition of space and of extension disappears.— At all events the great purposiveness in the world compels us to think a supreme cause of it, and to think its causality as that of an Understanding; but we are not therefore entitled to ascribe this to it. (E.g. we think of the eternity of God as presence in all time, because we can form no other concept of mere being as a quantum, i.e. as duration; or we think of the divine Omnipresence as presence in all places in order to make comprehensible to ourselves His immediate presence in things which are external to one another; without daring to ascribe to God any of these determinations, as something cognised in Him.) If I determine the causality of a man, in respect of certain products which are only explicable by designed purposiveness, by thinking it as that of Understanding, I need not stop here, but I can ascribe to him this predicate as a well-known property and cognise him accordingly. For I know that intuitions are given to the senses of men and are brought by the Understanding under a concept and thus under a rule; that this concept only contains the common characteristic (with omission of the particular ones) and is thus discursive; and that the rules for bringing given representations under a consciousness in general are given by Understanding before those intuitions, etc. I therefore ascribe this property to man as a property by means of which I cognise him. However, if I wish to think a supersensible Being (God) as an intelligence, this is not only permissible in a certain aspect of my employment of Reason—it is unavoidable; but to ascribe to Him Understanding and to flatter ourselves that we can cognise Him by means of it as a property of His, is in no way permissible. For I must omit all those conditions under which alone I know an Understanding, and thus the predicate which only serves for determining man cannot be applied at all to a supersensible Object; and therefore by a causality thus determined, I cannot cognise what God is. And so it is with all Categories, which can have no significance for cognition in a theoretical aspect, if they are not applied to objects of possible experience.— However, according to the analogy of an Understanding I can in a certain other aspect think a supersensible being, without at the same time meaning thereby to cognise it theoretically; viz. if this determination of its causality concerns an effect in the world, which contains a design morally necessary but unattainable by a sensible being. For then a cognition of God and of His Being (Theology) is possible by means of properties and determinations of His causality merely thought in Him according to analogy, which has all requisite reality in a practical reference though only in respect of this (as moral).— An Ethical Theology is therefore possible; for though morality can subsist without theology as regards its rule, it cannot do so as regards the final design which this proposes, unless Reason in respect of it is to be renounced. But a Theological Ethic (of pure Reason) is impossible; for laws which Reason itself does not give and whose observance it does not bring about as a pure practical faculty, cannot be moral. In the same way a Theological Physic would be a nonentity, for it would propose no laws of nature but ordinances of a Highest Will; while on the other hand a physical (properly speaking a physico-teleological) Theology can serve at least as a propaedeutic to Theology proper, by giving occasion for the Idea of a final purpose which nature cannot present by the observation of natural purposes of which it offers abundant material. It thus makes felt the need of a Theology which shall determine the concept of God adequately for the highest practical use of Reason, but it cannot develop this and base it satisfactorily on its proofs.
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[1 ]As in pure mathematics we can never talk of the existence, but only of the possibility of things, viz. of an intuition corresponding to a concept, and so never of cause and effect, it follows that all purposiveness observed there must be considered merely as formal and never as a natural purpose.
[1 ][The allusion is to Vitruvius de Architectura, Bk. vi. Praef. “Aristippus philosophus Socraticus, naufragio cum eiectus ad Rhodiensium litus animadvertisset geometrica schemata descripta, exclamavisse ad comites ita dicitur, Bene speremus, hominum enim vestigia video.”]
[1 ][Second Edition.]
[1 ]We can conversely throw light upon a certain combination, much more often met with in Idea than in actuality, by means of an analogy to the so-called immediate natural purposes. In a recent complete transformation of a great people into a state the word organisation for the regulation of magistracies, etc., and even of the whole body politic, has often been fitly used. For in such a whole every member should surely be purpose as well as means, and, whilst all work together towards the possibility of the whole, each should be determined as regards place and function by means of the Idea of the whole. [Kant probably alludes here to the organisation of the United States of America.]
[1 ][These words are inserted by Rosenkranz and Windelband, but omitted by Hartenstein and Kirchmann.]
[1 ]In the aesthetical part [§ 58 , p. 247] it was said: We view beautiful nature with favour, whilst we have a quite free (disinterested) satisfaction in its form. For in this mere judgement of taste no consideration is given to the purpose for which these natural beauties exist; whether to excite pleasure in us, or as purposes without any reference to us at all. But in a teleological judgement we pay attention to this reference, and here we can regard it as a favour of nature that it has been willing to minister to our culture by the exhibition of so many beautiful figures.
[1 ]The German word vermessen is a good word and full of meaning. A judgement in which we forget to consider the extent of our powers (our Understanding) may sometimes sound very humble, and yet make great pretensions, and so be very presumptuous. Of this kind are most of those by which we pretend to extol the divine wisdom by ascribing to it designs in the works of creation and preservation which are really meant to do honour to the private wisdom of the reasoner.
[1 ]We thus see that in most speculative things of pure Reason, as regards dogmatic assertions, the philosophical schools have commonly tried all possible solutions of a given question. To explain the purposiveness of nature men have tried either lifeless matter or a lifeless God, or again, living matter or a living God. It only remains for us, if the need should arise, to abandon all these objective assertions and to examine critically our judgement merely in reference to our cognitive faculties, in order to supply to their principle a validity which, if not dogmatic, shall at least be that of a maxim sufficient for the sure employment of Reason.
[1 ][That is, the wider concept serves as a universal, under which the particular may be brought; cognition from principles, in Kant’s phrase, is the process of knowing the particular in the universal by means of concepts.]
[1 ][This distinction will be familiar to the student of the Critique of Pure Reason. See Dialectic, bk. i., Of the Concepts of Pure Reason.]
[1 ][Second Edition.]
[1 ][This principle, that for our intellect, the conception of an organised body is impossible except by the aid of the Idea of design, is frequently insisted on by Kant. Professor Wallace points out (Kant, p. 110) that as far back as 1755, in his General Physiogony and Theory of the Heavens, Kant classed the origin of animals and plants with the secrets of Providence and the mystical number 666 “as one of the topics on which ingenuity and thought are occasionally wasted.”]
[1 ][Second Edition.]
[1 ][Second Edition.]
[1 ][This is marked as an Appendix in the Second Edition.]
[1 ]We may call a hypothesis of this kind a daring venture of reason, and there may be few even of the most acute naturalists through whose head it has not sometimes passed. For it is not absurd, like that generatio aequivoca by which is understood the production of an organised being through the mechanics of crude unorganised matter. It would always remain generatio univoca in the most universal sense of the word, for it only considers one organic being as derived from another organic being, although from one which is specifically different; e.g. certain water-animals transform themselves gradually into marsh-animals and from these, after some generations, into land-animals. A priori, in the judgement of Reason alone, there is no contradiction here. Only experience gives no example of it; according to experience all generation that we know is generatio homonyma. This is not merely univoca in contrast to the generation out of unorganised material, but in the organisation the product is of like kind to that which produced it; and generatio heteronyma, so far as our empirical knowledge of nature extends, is nowhere found.
[1 ][It is probable that Kant alludes here to Hume’s Essay On a Providence and a Future State,§ xi of the Inquiry. Hume argues that though the inference from an effect to an intelligent cause may be valid in the case of human contrivance, it is not legitimate to rise by a like argument to Supreme Intelligence. “In human nature there is a certain experienced coherence of designs and inclinations; so that when from any fact we have discovered one intention of any man, it may often be reasonable from experience to infer another, and draw a long chain of conclusions concerning his past or future conduct. But this method of reasoning can never have place with regard to a being so remote and incomprehensible, who bears much less analogy to any other being in the universe than the sun to a waxen taper, and who discovers himself only by some faint traces or outlines, beyond which we have no authority to ascribe to him any attribute or perfection.”]
[1 ][J. F. Blumenbach (1752–1840), a German naturalist and professor at Göttingen; the author of Institutiones Physiologicae (1787) and other works. An interesting account of him is given in Lever’s novel Adventures of Arthur O’Leary, ch. xix.]
[1 ][Carl von Linné (1707–1778), Knight of the Polar Star, the celebrated Swedish botanist.]
[1 ]If the once adopted name Natural history is to continue for the description of nature, we may in contrast with art, give the title of Archaeology of nature to that which the former literally indicates, viz. a representation of the old condition of the earth, about which, although we cannot hope for certainty, we have good ground for conjecture. As sculptured stones, etc., belong to the province of art, so petrefactions belong to the archaeology of nature. And since work is actually being done in this [science] (under the name of the Theory of the Earth), constantly, although of course slowly, this name is not given to a merely imaginary investigation of nature, but to one to which nature itself leads and invites us.
[1 ][See p. 184 above.]
[1 ][First Edition has freedom.]
[1 ][These views are set forth by Kant more fully in the essay Zum ewigen Frieden (1795).]
[2 ][Second Edition.]
[3 ][Cf. The Philosophical Theory of Religion, Part i., On the bad principle in Human Nature, III., where Kant remarks that although war “is not so incurably bad as the deadness of a universal monarchy . . . yet, as an ancient observed, it makes more bad men than it takes away.”]
[1 ]The value of life for us, if it is estimated by that which we enjoy (by the natural purpose of the sum of all inclinations, i.e. happiness), is easy to decide. It sinks below zero; for who would be willing to enter upon life anew under the same conditions? who would do so even according to a new, self-chosen plan (yet in conformity with the course of nature), if it were merely directed to enjoyment? We have shown above what value life has in virtue of what it contains in itself, when lived in accordance with the purpose that nature has along with us, and which consists in what we do (not merely what we enjoy), in which, however, we are always but means towards an undetermined final purpose. There remains then nothing but the value which we ourselves give our life, through what we can not only do, but do purposively in such independence of nature that the existence of nature itself can only be a purpose under this condition.
[1 ]It would be possible that the happiness of rational beings in the world should be a purpose of nature, and then also this would be its ultimate purpose. At least we cannot see a priori why nature should not be so ordered, because by means of its mechanism this effect would be certainly possible, at least so far as we see. But morality, with a causality according to purposes subordinated thereto, is absolutely impossible by means of natural causes; for the principle by which it determines to action is supersensible, and is therefore the only possible principle in the order of purposes that in respect of nature is absolutely unconditioned. Its subject consequently alone is qualified to be the final purpose of creation to which the whole of nature is subordinated.— Happiness, on the contrary, as has been shown in the preceding paragraphs by the testimony of experience, is not even a purpose of nature in respect of man in preference to other creatures; much less a final purpose of creation. Men may of course make it their ultimate subjective purpose. But if I ask, in reference to the final purpose of creation, why must men exist? then we are speaking of an objective supreme purpose, such as the highest Reason would require for creation. If we answer: These beings exist to afford objects for the benevolence of that Supreme Cause; then we contradict the condition to which the Reason of man subjects even his inmost wish for happiness (viz. the harmony with his own internal moral legislation). This proves that happiness can only be a conditioned purpose, and that it is only as a moral being that man can be the final purpose of creation; but that as concerns his state happiness is only connected with it as a consequence, according to the measure of his harmony with that purpose regarded as the purpose of his being.
[1 ][Second Edition.]
[1 ]I say deliberately under moral laws. It is not man in accordance with moral laws, i.e. a being who behaves himself in conformity with them, who is the final purpose of creation. For by using the latter expression we should be asserting more than we know; viz. that it is in the power of an Author of the world to cause man always to behave himself in accordance with moral laws. But this presupposes a concept of freedom and of nature (of which latter we can only think an external author), which would imply an insight into the supersensible substrate of nature and its identity with that which causality through freedom makes possible in the world. And this far surpasses the insight of our Reason. Only of man under moral laws can we say, without transgressing the limits of our insight: his being constitutes the final purpose of the world. This harmonises completely with the judgement of human Reason reflecting morally upon the course of the world. We believe that we perceive in the case of the wicked the traces of a wise purposive reference, if we only see that the wanton criminal does not die before he has undergone the deserved punishment of his misdeeds. According to our concepts of free causality, our good or bad behaviour depends on ourselves; we regard it the highest wisdom in the government of the world to ordain for the first, opportunity, and for both, their consequence, in accordance with moral laws. In the latter properly consists the glory of God, which is hence not unsuitably described by theologians as the ultimate purpose of creation.— It is further to be remarked that when we use the word creation, we understand nothing more than we have said here, viz. the cause of the being of the world or of the things in it (substances). This is what the concept properly belonging to this word involves (actuatio substantiae est creatio); and consequently there is not implied in it the supposition of a freely working, and therefore intelligent, cause (whose being we first of all want to prove).
[1 ][Note added in Second Edition.] This moral argument does not supply any objectively-valid proof of the Being of God; it does not prove to the sceptic that there is a God, but proves that if he wishes to think in a way consonant with morality, he must admit the assumption of this proposition under the maxims of his practical Reason.— We should therefore not say: it is necessary for morals [Sittlichkeit], to assume the happiness of all rational beings of the world in proportion to their morality [Moralität]; but rather, this is necessitated by morality. Accordingly, this is a subjective argument sufficient for moral beings.
[1 ][Second Edition.]
[1 ][Second Edition.]
[1 ]In a practical sense that religion is always idolatry which conceives the Supreme Being with properties, according to which something else besides morality can be a fit condition for that which man can do being in accordance with His Will. For however pure and free from sensible images the concept that we have formed may be in a theoretical point of view, yet it will be in a practical point of view still represented as an idol, i.e. in regard to the character of His Will, anthropomorphically.
[1 ][Cf. Introd. to Logic, ix. p. 63, “Conviction is opposed to Persuasion, which is a belief from inadequate reasons, of which we do not know whether they are only subjective or are also objective.”]
[1 ][Second Edition.]
[2 ][I.e. Urtheils. First Edition had Urtheilens, the judging subject.]
[1 ]Analogy (in a qualitative signification) is the identity of the relation between reasons and consequences (causes and effects), so far as it is to be found, notwithstanding the specific difference of the things or those properties in them which contain the reason for like consequences (i.e. considered apart from this relation). Thus we conceive of the artificial constructions of beasts by comparing them with those of men; by comparing the ground of those effects brought about by the former, which we do not know, with the ground of similar effects brought about by men (reason), which we do know; i.e. we regard the ground of the former as an analogon of reason. We then try at the same time to show that the ground of the artisan faculty of beasts, which we call instinct, specifically different as it is in fact from reason, has yet a similar relation to its effect (the buildings of the beaver as compared with those of men).— But then I cannot therefore conclude that because man uses reason for his building, the beaver must have the like, and call this a conclusion according to analogy. But from the similarity of the mode of operation of beasts (of which we cannot immediately perceive the ground) to that of men (of which we are immediately conscious), we can quite rightly conclude according to analogy, that beasts too act in accordance with representations (not as Descartes has it, that they are machines), and that despite their specific distinction they are yet (as living beings) of the same genus as man. The principle of our right so to conclude consists in the sameness of the ground for reckoning beasts in respect of the said determination in the same genus with men, regarded as men, so far as we can externally compare them with one another in accordance with their actions. There is par ratio. Just so I can conceive, according to the analogy of an Understanding, the causality of the supreme World-Cause, by comparing its purposive products in the world with the artificial works of men; but I cannot conclude according to analogy to those properties in it [which are in man], because here the principle of the possibility of such a method of reasoning entirely fails, viz. the paritas rationis for counting the Supreme Being in one and the same genus with man (in respect of the causality of both). The causality of the beings of the world, which is always sensibly conditioned (as is causality through Understanding) cannot be transferred to a Being which has in common with them no generic concept save that of Thing in general.
[1 ]We thus miss nothing in the representation of the relations of this Being to the world, as far as the consequences, theoretical or practical, of this concept are concerned. To wish to investigate what it is in itself, is a curiosity as purposeless as it is vain.
[1 ][Cf. Introd. to Logic, p. 76, where the conditions of a legitimate hypothesis are laid down. See also Critique of Pure Reason, Methodology, c. i. § 3 .]
[1 ][This illustration is also given in the Logic (p. 57); where the three modi of belief, Opinion, Faith, and Knowledge, are distinguished from each other. Cf. Critique of Pure Reason, Methodology, c. ii. § 3 .]
[2 ][The speculations of Swedenborg seem to have always had a strange fascination for Kant. He says of two reported cases of Swedenborg’s clairvoyance that he knows not how to disprove them (Rosenkranz vii. 5); but in his Anthropology§§ 35, 37 , he attacks Swedenborgianism as folly. So in an early essay, Dreams of a Visionary explained by Dreams of Metaphysics, he avows his scepticism as to the value of the information which “psychical research” can supply about the spirit-world, though he is careful not to commit himself to any dogmatic statement on the subject of ghosts. In the Critique of Pure Reason (when discussing the Postulates of Empirical Thought) he gives, as an instance of a concept inconsistent with the canons of possibility, “a power of being in a community of thought with other men, however distant from us.”]
[1 ][Cf. supra, p. 229.]
[2 ]I here extend, correctly as it seems to me, the concept of a thing of fact beyond the usual signification of this word. For it is not needful, not even feasible, to limit this expression merely to actual experience, if we are talking of the relation of things to our cognitive faculties; for an experience merely possible is quite sufficient in order that we may speak of them merely as objects of a definite kind of cognition.
[1 ][Cf. Introduction to Logic, p. 59 note.]
[2 ][Second Edition.]
[3 ]Things of faith are not therefore articles of faith; if we understand by the latter things of faith to the confession of which (internal or external) we can be bound. Natural theology contains nothing like this. For since they, as things of faith (like things of fact) cannot be based on theoretical proofs, [they are accepted by] a belief which is free and which only as such is compatible with the morality of the subject.
[1 ]The final purpose which the moral law enjoins upon us to further, is not the ground of duty; since this lies in the moral law, which, as formal practical principle, leads categorically, independently of the Objects of the faculty of desire (the material of the will) and consequently of any purpose whatever. This formal characteristic of my actions (their subordination under the principle of universal validity), wherein alone consists their inner moral worth, is quite in our power; and I can quite well abstract from the possibility or the unattainableness of purposes which I am obliged to promote in conformity with that law (because in them consists only the external worth of my actions) as something which is never completely in my power, in order only to look to that which is of my doing. But then the design of promoting the final purpose of all rational beings (happiness so far as it is possible for it to be accordant with duty) is even yet prescribed by the law of duty. The speculative Reason, however, does not see at all the attainableness of this (neither on the side of our own physical faculty nor on that of the co-operation of nature). It must rather, so far as we can judge in a rational way, hold the derivation, by the aid of such causes, of such a consequence of our good conduct from mere nature (internal and external) without God and immortality, to be an ungrounded and vain, though well-meant, expectation; and if it could have complete certainty of this judgement, it would regard the moral law itself as the mere deception of our Reason in a practical aspect. But since the speculative Reason fully convinces itself that the latter can never take place, but that on the other hand those Ideas whose object lies outside nature can be thought without contradiction, it must for its own practical law and the problem prescribed thereby, and therefore in a moral aspect, recognise those Ideas as real in order not to come into contradiction with itself.
[2 ]It is a trust in the promise of the moral law; [not however such as is contained in it, but such as I put into it and that on morally adequate grounds.3 ] For a final purpose cannot be commanded by any law of Reason without this latter at the same time promising, however uncertainly, its attainableness; and thus justifying our belief in the special conditions under which alone our Reason can think it as attainable. The word fides expresses this; and it can only appear doubtful, how this expression and this particular Idea came into moral philosophy, since it first was introduced with Christianity, and the adoption of it perhaps might seem to be only a flattering imitation of Christian terminology. But this is not the only case in which this wonderful religion with its great simplicity of statement has enriched philosophy with far more definite and purer concepts of morality, than it had been able to furnish before; but which, once they are there, are freely assented to by Reason and are assumed as concepts to which it could well have come of itself and which it could and should have introduced.
[1 ][Cf. Introd. to Logic, ix. p. 60, “That man is morally unbelieving who does not accept that which though impossible to know is morally necessary to suppose.”]
[1 ][First Edition.]
[1 ][In the Critique of Pure Reason, Dialectic, bk. II. c. iii. §§ 4, 5 .]
[1 ][H. S. Reimarus (1694 - 1768), the author of the famous Wolfenbüttel Fragments, published after the death of Reimarus by Lessing. The book alluded to by Kant is probably the Abhandlungen von den vornehmsten Wahrheiten der natürlichen Religion (1754), which had great popularity in its day.]
[1 ][These arguments are advanced by Hume, Inquiry,§ vii. Cf. also Pure Reason, Dialectic, bk. II. c. iii. § 6 , and Practical Reason, Dialectic, c. ii. § vii. ]
[1 ][Cf. Practical Reason, Dialectic, c. ii. § v. ]
[1 ]The admiration for beauty, and also the emotion aroused by the manifold purposes of nature, which a reflective mind is able to feel even prior to a clear representation of a rational Author of the world, have something in themselves like religious feeling. They seem in the first place by a method of judging analogous to moral to produce an effect upon the moral feeling (gratitude to, and veneration for, the unknown cause); and thus by exciting moral Ideas to produce an effect upon the mind, when they inspire that admiration which is bound up with far more interest than mere theoretical observation can bring about.
[2 ]It is a trust in the promise of the moral law; [not however such as is contained in it, but such as I put into it and that on morally adequate grounds.3 ] For a final purpose cannot be commanded by any law of Reason without this latter at the same time promising, however uncertainly, its attainableness; and thus justifying our belief in the special conditions under which alone our Reason can think it as attainable. The word fides expresses this; and it can only appear doubtful, how this expression and this particular Idea came into moral philosophy, since it first was introduced with Christianity, and the adoption of it perhaps might seem to be only a flattering imitation of Christian terminology. But this is not the only case in which this wonderful religion with its great simplicity of statement has enriched philosophy with far more definite and purer concepts of morality, than it had been able to furnish before; but which, once they are there, are freely assented to by Reason and are assumed as concepts to which it could well have come of itself and which it could and should have introduced.