Front Page Titles (by Subject) § 76.: Remark - The Critique of Judgement
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
§ 76.: Remark - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
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.
[1 ][Second Edition.]