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TRANSLATOR’S PREFACE - Friedrich Max Müller, Critique of Pure Reason 
Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. In Commemoration of the Centenary of its First Publication. Translated into English by F. Max Mueller (2nd revised ed.) (New York: Macmillan, 1922).
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Why I thought I might translate Kant’s Critique
‘But how can you waste your time on a translation of Kant’s Critik der reinen Vernunft?’ This question, which has been addressed to me by several friends, I think I shall best be able to answer in a preface to that translation itself. And I shall try to answer it point by point.
First, then, with regard to myself. Why should I waste my time on a translation of Kant’s Critik der reinen Vernunft? — that is, Were there not other persons more fitted for that task, or more specially called upon to undertake it?
It would be the height of presumption on my part to imagine that there were not many scholars who could have performed such a task as well as myself, or far better. All I can say is, that for nearly thirty years I have been waiting for some one really qualified, who would be willing to execute such a task, and have waited in vain. What I feel convinced of is that an adequate translation of Kant must be the work of a German scholar. That conviction was deeply impressed on my mind when reading, now many years ago, Kant’s great work with a small class of young students at Oxford — among whom I may mention the names of Appleton, Nettleship, and Wallace. Kant’s style is careless and involved, and no wonder that it should be so, if we consider that he wrote down the whole of the Critique in not quite five months. Now, beside the thread of the argument itself, the safest thread through the mazes of his sentences must be looked for in his adverbs and particles. They, and they only, indicate clearly the true articulation of his thoughts, and they alone impart to his phrases that peculiar intonation which tells those who are accustomed to that bye-play of language, what the author has really in his mind, and what he wants to express, if only he could find the right way to do it.
When reading and critically interpreting Kant’s text, I sometimes compared other translations, particularly the English translations by Haywood and Meiklejohn,1 and excellent as, in most places, I found their renderings, particularly the latter, I generally observed that, when the thread was lost, it was owing to a neglect of particles and adverbs, though sometimes also to a want of appreciation of the real, and not simply the dictionary meaning, of German words. It is not my intention to write here a criticism of previous translations; on the contrary, I should prefer to express my obligation to them for several useful suggestions which I have received from them in the course of what I know to be a most arduous task. But in order to give an idea of what I mean by the danger arising from a neglect of adverbs and particles in German, I shall mention at least a few of the passages of which I am thinking.
On p. 395 (484), Kant says: Da also selbst die Auflösungdieser Aufgaben niemals in der Erfahrung vorkommen kann. This means, ‘As therefore even the solution of these problems can never occur in experience,’ i.e. as, taking experience as it is, we have no right even to start such a problem, much less to ask for its solution. Here the particle also implies that the writer, after what he has said before, feels justified in taking the thing for granted. But if we translate, ‘Although, therefore, the solution of these problems is unattainable through experience,’ we completely change the drift of Kant’s reasoning. He wants to take away that very excuse that there exists only some uncertainty in the solution of these problems, by showing that the problems themselves can really never arise, and therefore do not require a solution at all. Kant repeats the same statement in the same page with still greater emphasis, when he says: Die dogmatische Auflösung ist also nicht etwa ungewiss, sondern unmöglich, i.e. ‘Hence the dogmatical solution is not, as you imagine, uncertain, but it is impossible.’
On p. 396 (485), the syntactical structure of the sentence, as well as the intention of the writer, does not allow of our changing the words so ist es klüglich gehandelt, into a question. It is the particle so which requires the transposition of the pronoun (ist es instead of es ist), not the interrogative character of the whole sentence.
On p. 401 (492), wenn cannot be rendered by although, which is wenn auch in German. Wenn beide nach empirischen Gesetzen in einer Erfahrung richtig und durchgängig zusammenhängen means, ‘If both have a proper and thorough coherence in an experience, according to empirical laws’; and not, ‘Although both have,’ etc.
Sollen is often used in German to express what, according to the opinion of certain people, is meant to be. Thus Kant, on p. 461 (570), speaks of the ideals which painters have in their minds, and die ein nicht mitzutheilendes Schattenbild ihrer Producte oder auch Beurtheilungen sein sollen, that is, ‘which, according to the artists’ professions, are a kind of vague shadows only of their creations and criticisms, which cannot be communicated.’ All this is lost, if we translate, ‘which can serve neither as a model for production, nor as a standard for appreciation.’ It may come to that in the end, but it is certainly not the way in which Kant arrives at that conclusion.
On p. 503 (625), den einzigmöglichen Beweisgrund (wofern überall nur ein speculativer Beweis statt findet) is not incorrectly rendered by ‘the only possible ground of proof (possessed by speculative reason)’; yet we lose the thought implied by Kant’s way of expression, viz. that the possibility of such a speculative proof is very doubtful.
The same applies to an expression which occurs on p. 549 (684), ein solches Schema, als ob es ein wirkliches Wesen wäre. Kant speaks of a schema which is conceived to be real, but is not so, and this implied meaning is blurred if we translate ‘a schema, which requires us to regard this ideal thing as an actual existence.’
On p. 572 (712), Kant writes: Methoden, die zwar sonst der Vernunft, aber nur nicht hier wol anpassen.
This has been translated: ‘The methods which are originated by reason, but which are out of place in this sphere.’
This is not entirely wrong, but it blurs the exact features of the sentence. What is really meant is: ‘Methods which are suitable to reason in other spheres, only, I believe, not here.’ It is curious to observe that Kant, careless as he was in the revision of his text, struck out wol in the Second Edition, because he may have wished to remove even that slight shade of hesitation which is conveyed by that particle. Possibly, however, wol may refer to anpassen, i.e. pulchre convenire, the limitation remaining much the same in either case.
Doch is a particle that may be translated in many different ways, but it can never be translated by therefore. Thus when Kant writes (Suppl. XIV. § 17, note, p. 748), folglich die Einheit des Bewusstseyns, als synthetisch, aber doch ursprünglich angetroffen wird, he means to convey an opposition between synthetical and primitive, i.e. synthetical, and yet primitive. To say ‘nevertheless synthetical, and therefore primitive,’ conveys the very opposite.
It may be easily understood that in a metaphysical argument it must cause serious inconvenience, if the particle not is either omitted where Kant has it, or added where Kant has it not. It is of less consequence if not is omitted in such a passage as, for instance, where Kant says in the preface to the Second Edition (p. 704), that the obscurities of the first have given rise to misconceptions ‘without his fault,’ instead of ‘not without his fault.’ But the matter becomes more serious in other places.
Thus (Supplement XIV. § 26, p. 762) Kant says, ohne diese Tauglichkeit, which means, ‘unless the categories were adequate for that purpose,’ but not ‘if the categories were adequate.’ Again (Supplement XVIb., p. 771), Kant agrees that space and time cannot be perceived by themselves, but not, that they can be thus perceived. And it must disturb even an attentive reader when, on p. 203 (248), he reads that ‘the categories must be employed empirically, and cannot be employed transcendentally,’ while Kant writes: Da sie nicht von empirischem Gebrauch sein sollen, und von transcendentalem nicht sein können.
As regards single words, there are many in German which, taken in their dictionary meaning, seem to yield a tolerable sense, but which throw a much brighter light on a whole sentence, if they are understood in their more special idiomatic application.
Thus vorrücken, no doubt, may mean ‘to place before,’ but Jemandem etwas vorrücken, means ‘to reproach somebody with something.’ Hence (p. 705) die der rationalen Psychologie vorgerückten Paralogismen does not mean ‘the paralogisms which immediately precede the Rational Psychology,’ but ‘the paralogisms with which Rational Psychology has been reproached.’
On p. 386 (472), nachhängen cannot be rendered by ‘to append.’ Er erlaubt der Vernunft idealischen Erklärungen der Natur nachzuhängen means ‘he allows reason to indulge in ideal explanations of nature,’ but not ‘to append idealistic explanations of natural phenomena.’
On p. 627 (781), als ob er die bejahende Parthei ergriffen hätte, does not mean ‘to attack the position,’ but ‘to adopt the position of the assenting party.’
On p. 679 (847), Wie kann ich erwarten does not mean ‘How can I desire?’ but ‘How can I expect?’ which may seem to be not very different, but nevertheless gives a wrong turn to a whole argument.
I have quoted these few passages, chiefly in order to show what I mean by the advantages which a German has in translating Kant, as compared with any other translator who has derived his knowledge of the language from grammars and dictionaries only. An accurate and scholar-like knowledge of German would, no doubt, suffice for the translation of historical or scientific works. But in order to find our way through the intricate mazes of metaphysical arguments, a quick perception of what is meant by the sign-posts, I mean the adverbs and particles, and a natural feeling for idiomatic ways of speech, seem to me almost indispensable.
On the other hand, I am fully conscious of the advantages which English translators possess by their more perfect command of the language into which foreign thought has to be converted. Here I at once declare my own inferiority; nay, I confess that in rendering Kant’s arguments in English I have thought far less of elegance, smoothness, or rhythm, than of accuracy and clearness. What I have attempted to do is to give an honest, and, as far as possible, a literal translation, and, before all, a translation that will construe; and I venture to say that even to a German student of Kant this English translation will prove in many places more intelligible than the German original. It is difficult to translate the hymns of the Veda and the strains of the Upanishads, the odes of Pindar and the verses of Lucretius; but I doubt whether the difficulty of turning Kant’s metaphysical German into intelligible and construable English is less. Nor do I wish my readers to believe that I have never failed in making Kant’s sentences intelligible. There are a few sentences in Kant’s Critique which I have not been able to construe to my own satisfaction, and where none of the friends whom I consulted could help me. Here all I could do was to give a literal rendering, hoping that future editors may succeed in amending the text, and extracting from it a more intelligible sense.
Why I thought I ought to translate Kant’s Critique
But my friends in blaming me for wasting my time on a translation of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason gave me to understand that, though I might not be quite unfit, I was certainly not specially called upon to undertake such a work. It is true, no doubt, that no one could have blamed me for not translating Kant, but I should have blamed myself; in fact, I have blamed myself for many years for not doing a work which I felt must be done sooner or later. Year after year I hoped I should find leisure to carry out the long-cherished plan, and when at last the Centenary of the publication of Kant’s Critik der reinen Vernunft drew near, I thought I was in honour bound not to delay any longer this tribute to the memory of the greatest philosopher of modern times. Kant’s Critique has been my constant companion through life. It drove me to despair when I first attempted to read it, a mere school-boy. During my university days I worked hard at it under Weisse, Lotze, and Drobisch, at Leipzig, and my first literary attempts in philosophy, now just forty years old, were essays on Kant’s Critique. Having once learnt from Kant what man can and what he cannot know, my plan of life was very simple, namely, to learn, so far as literature, tradition, and language allow us to do so, how man came to believe that he could know so much more than he ever can know in religion, in mythology, and in philosophy. This required special studies in the field of the most ancient languages and literatures. But though these more special studies drew me away for many years towards distant times and distant countries, whatever purpose or method there may have been in the work of my life was due to my beginning life with Kant.
Even at Oxford, whether I had to lecture on German literature or on the Science of Language, I have often, in season and out of season, been preaching Kant; and nothing I have missed so much, when wishing to come to an understanding on the great problems of life with some of my philosophical friends in England, than the common ground which is supplied by Kant for the proper discussion of every one of them. We need not be blind wor-shippers of Kant, but if for the solution of philosophical problems we are to take any well-defined stand, we must, in this century of ours, take our stand on Kant. Kant’s language, and by language I mean more than mere words, has become the Lingua franca of modern philosophy, and not to be able to speak it, is like studying ancient philosophy, without being able to speak Aristotle, or modern philosophy, without being able to speak Descartes. What Rosenkranz, the greatest among Hegel’s disciples, said in 1838, is almost as true to-day as it was then: Engländer, Franzosen und Italiener müssen, wenn sie vorwärts wollen, denselben Schritt thun, den Kant schon 1781 machte. Nur so können sie sich von ihrer dermaligen schlechten Metaphysik und den aus einer solchen sich ergebenden schlechten Consequenzen befreien.
It is hardly necessary at the present day to produce any arguments in support of such a view. The number of books on Kant’s philosophy, published during the last century in almost every language of the world,1 speaks for itself. There is no single philosopher of any note, even among those who are decidedly opposed to Kant, who has not acknowledged his pre-eminence among modern philosophers. The great systems of Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Herbart, and Schopenhauer branched off from Kant, and now, after a century has passed away, people begin to see that those systems were indeed mighty branches, but that the leading shoot of philosophy was and is still — Kant. No truer word has lately been spoken than what, I believe, was first said by Professor Weisse,1 in the Philosophical Society at Leipzig, of which I was then a member, and was again more strongly enforced by my friend and former colleague, Professor Liebmann of Strassburg, that, if philosophy wishes to go forward, it must go back to Kant. Il faut reculer, pour mieux sauter. Lange, in his History of Materialism, calls Kant the Copernicus of modern philosophy; aye, Kant himself was so fully conscious of the decentralising character of his system that he did not hesitate to compare his work with that of Copernicus.2 But if Kant was right in his estimate of his own philosophy, it cannot be denied that, with but few, though memorable exceptions, philosophy in England is still Ante-Kantian or Ante-Copernican. How little Kant is read by those who ought to read him, or how little he is understood by those who venture to criticise him, I never felt so keenly as when, in a controversy which I had some time ago with Mr. Herbert Spencer, I was told that space could not be an a priori intuition, because we may hear church-bells, without knowing where the belfry stands. Two philosophers, who both have read Kant’s Critique, may differ from each other diametrically, but they will at least understand each other. They will not fire at each other like some of the German students who, for fear of killing their adversary, fire their pistols at right angles, thus endangering the life of their seconds rather than that of their adversaries.
This will explain why, for a long time, I have felt personally called upon to place the classical work of Kant within the reach of all philosophical readers in England, so that no one could say any longer that he could not construe it. I thought for a time that Professor Caird’s excellent work, On the Philosophy of Kant, had relieved me of this duty. And, no doubt, that work has told, and has opened the eyes of many people in England and in America to the fact that, whatever we may think of all the outworks of Kant’s philosophy, there is in it a central thought which forms a real rest and an entrenched ground in the onward march of the human intellect.
But it is a right sentiment after all, that it is better to read a book than to read about it, and that, as my friend Stanley used to preach again and again, we should never judge of a book unless we have read the whole of it ourselves. I therefore pledged myself to finish a new translation of Kant’s Critique as my contribution to the celebration of its centenary; and though it has taken more time and more labour than I imagined, I do not think my time or my labour will have been wasted, if only people in England, and in America too, will now read the book that is a hundred years old, and yet as young and fresh as ever.
So far I have spoken of myself, and more perhaps than a wise man at my time of life ought to do. But I have still to say a few words to explain why I think that, if the time which I have bestowed on this undertaking has not been wasted, others also, and not philosophers by profession only, will find that I have not wasted their time by inducing them at the present time to read Kant’s masterwork in a faithful English rendering.
Why a study of Kant’s Critique seemed necessary at present
It is curious that in these days the idea of development, which was first elaborated by the students of philosophy, language, and religion, and afterwards applied with such brilliant success to the study of nature also, should receive so little favour from the very sciences which first gave birth to it. Long before we heard of evolution in nature, we read of the dialectical evolution of thought, and its realisation in history and nature. The history of philosophy was then understood to represent the continuous development of philosophical thought, and the chief object of the historian was to show the necessity with which one stage of philosophical thought led to another. This idea of rational development, which forms a far broader and safer basis than that of natural development, is the vital principle in the study of the human mind, quite as much, if not more, than in the study of nature. A study of language, of mythology, of religion, and philosophy, which does not rest on the principle of development, does not deserve the name of a science. The chief interest which these sciences possess, is not that they show us isolated and barren facts, but that they show us their origin and growth, and explain to us how what is, was the necessary result of what was. In drawing the stemma of languages, mythological formations, religious beliefs, and philosophical ideas, science may go wrong, and often has gone wrong. So have students of nature in drawing their stemmata of plants, and animals, and human beings. But the principle remains true, for all that. In spite of all that seems to be accidental or arbitrary, there is a natural and intelligible growth in what we call the creations of the human mind, quite as much as in what we call the works of nature. The one expression, it may be said, is as mythological as the other, because the category of substance cannot apply to either nature or mind. Both, however, express facts which must be explained; nay, it is the chief object of science to explain them, and to explain them genetically. Is Aristotle possible or intelligible without Plato? Is Spinoza possible or intelligible without Descartes? Is Hume possible or intelligible without Berkeley? Is Kant possible or intelligible without Hume? These are broad questions, and admit of one answer only. But if we have once seen how the broad stream of thought follows its natural bent, flows onward, and never backward, we shall understand that it is as much the duty of the science of thought to trace the unbroken course of philosophy from Thales to Kant, as it is the duty of natural science to trace the continuous development of the single cell to the complicated organism of an animal body, or the possible metamorphosis of the Hipparion into the Hippos.
What I wanted, therefore, as an introduction to my translation of Kant’s Critique, was a pedigree of philosophical thought, showing Kant’s ancestors and Kant’s descent. Here, too, Professor Caird’s work seemed to me at one time to have done exactly what I wished to see done. Valuable, however, as Professor Caird’s work is on all sides acknowledged to be, I thought that an even more complete list of Kantian ancestors might and should be given, and (what weighed even more with me) that these ancestors should be made to speak to us more in their own words than Professor Caird has allowed them to do.
At my time of life, and in the midst of urgent work, I felt quite unequal to that task, and I therefore applied to Professor Noiré, who, more than any other philosopher I know, seemed to me qualified to carry out that idea. Kant’s philosophy, and more particularly the antecedents of Kant’s philosophy, had been his favourite study for life, and no one, as I happened to know, possessed better materials than he did for giving, in a short compass, the ipsissima verba by which each of Kant’s ancestors had made and marked his place in the history of thought. Professor Noiré readily complied with my request, and supplied a treatise which I hope will fully accomplish what I had in view. The translation was entrusted by him to one of the most distinguished translators of philosophical works in England, and though the exactness and gracefulness peculiar to Professor Noiré’s German style could hardly have full justice done to them in an English rendering, particularly as the constant introduction of the verba ipsissima of various authors cannot but disturb the unity of the diction, I hope that many of my English readers will feel the same gratitude to him which I have here to express for his kind and ready help.1
If, then, while making allowance for differences of opinion on smaller points, we have convinced ourselves that Kant is the last scion of that noble family of thinkers which Professor Noiré has drawn for us with the hand of a master, what follows? Does it follow that we should all and on all points become Kantians, that we should simply learn his philosophy, and be thankful that we know now all that can be known about the Freedom of the Will, the Immortality of the Soul, and the Existence of God? Far from it. No one would protest more strongly than Kant himself against what he so well calls ‘learning philosophy,’ as opposed to ‘being a philosopher.’ All I contend for is that, in our own modern philosophy, the work done once for all by Kant should be as little ignored as the work done by Hume, Leibniz, Berkeley, Locke, Spinoza, and Descartes. I do not deny the historical importance of the Post-Kantian systems of philosophy, whether of Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Herbart, or Schopenhauer in Germany, of Cousin in France, or of Mill in England. But most of these philosophers recognised Kant as their spiritual father.1 Even Comte, ignorant as he was of German and German philosophy, expressed his satisfaction and pride when he discovered how near he had, though unconsciously, approached to Kant’s philosophy.2 Some years ago I pointed out that, as far as, amid the varying aspects of his philosophical writings, it was possible to judge, Mr. Herbert Spencer also, in what he calls his Transfigured Realism, was not very far from Kant’s fundamental position. Mr. Herbert Spencer, however, has repudiated what I thought the highest compliment that could be paid to any writer on philosophy, and I gladly leave it to others to judge.
But although, whether consciously or unconsciously, all truly important philosophers have, since the publication of the Critique of Pure Reason, been more or less under the spell of Kant, and indirectly of Hume and Berkeley also, this does not mean that they have not asserted their right of reopening questions which seemed to be solved and settled by those heroes in the history of human thought. Only, if any of these old problems are to be taken up again, they ought at least to be taken up where they were last left. Unless that is done, philosophy will become a mere amusement, and will in no wise mark the deep vestiges in the historical progress of the human intellect. There are anachronisms in philosophy, quite as much as in other sciences, and the spirit in which certain philosophical problems have of late been treated, both in England and in Germany, is really no better than a revival of the Ptolemaic system would be in astronomy. No wonder, therefore, that in both countries we should meet with constant complaints about this state of philosophical anarchy. Mr. Challis, in one of the last numbers of the Contemporary Review (November, 1881), writes: ‘It is another familiar fact, a much more important one, that the present state of philosophy is exactly parallel to the present state of theology, — a chaos of conflicting schools, each able to edify itself without convincing any other, every one regarding all the rest, not as witnesses against itself, but as food for dialectical powder and shot. The impartial bystander sees no sign that we are now nearer to agreement than in the days of Varro, though the enthusiast of a school expects the world to be all, some day, of his opinion, just as the enthusiast of a sect believes vaguely in an ultimate triumph of his faith.’
Exactly the same complaint reaches us from the very country where Kant’s voice was once so powerful and respected, then was silenced for a time, and now begins to be invoked again for the purpose of restoring order where all seems confusion. ‘Since the year 1840,’ writes Dr. Vaihinger, ‘there has been hopeless philosophical anarchy in Germany. There were the disciples of Schelling, Hegel, Herbart, and Schopenhauer, and, by their side, the founders and defenders of many unknown systems of philosophy. Then followed the so-called Real-Idealists, or Ideal-Realists, who distilled a philosophical theism out of the pantheism of greater thinkers, and, as their antipodes, the Materialists, who on the new discoveries of natural science founded the saddest, shallowest, and emptiest system of philosophy.’1
In England and America, even more than in Germany, I believe that a study of Kant holds out the best hope of a philosophical rejuvenescence. In Germany a return to Kant has brought about a kind of Renaissance; in England and America Kant’s philosophy, if once thoroughly understood, will constitute, I hope, a new birth. No doubt there are and there have been in every country of Europe some few honest students who perfectly understood Kant’s real position in the onward march of human thought. But to the most fertile writers on philosophy, and to the general public at large, which derives its ideas of philosophy from them, Kant’s philosophy has not only been a terra incognita, but the very antipodes of what it really is. Mr. Watson, in his instructive work, ‘Kant and his English Critics,’ is perfectly right when he says that, till very lately, Kant was regarded as a benighted a priori philosopher of the dogmatic type, afflicted with the hallucination that the most important part of our knowledge consists of innate ideas, lying in the depths of consciousness, and being capable of being brought to the light by pure introspection.’ That Kant was the legitimate successor of Hume on one side, and of Berkeley on the other, was hardly conceived as possible. And thus it has happened that English philosophy, in spite of the large number of profound thinkers and brilliant writers who have served in its ranks during the last hundred years, has not yet risen above the level of Locke and Hume. No one can admire more than I do the dashing style in which some of the most popular writers of our time have ridden up to the very muzzles of the old philosophical problems, but if I imagine Kant looking back from his elevated position on those fierce and hopeless onslaughts, I can almost hear him say what was said by a French general at Balaclava: C’est magnifique, — mais ce n’est pas la guerre. Quite true it is that but for Hume, and but for Berkeley, Kant would never have been, and philosophy would never have reached the heights which he occupies. But, after Kant, Hume and Berkeley have both an historical significance only. They represent a position which has been conquered and fortified, and has now been deliberately left behind.
Professor Noiré, when he had written for this work the antecedents of Kant’s philosophy, sent me another most valuable contribution, containing a full analysis of that philosophy, considered not only as the continuation, but as the fulfilment of all other philosophical systems, and more particularly of the systems of Berkeley and Hume. For that work it was unfortunately impossible to find room in these volumes; but I still hope that it will not be withheld, in German at least, from those who, both in England and Germany, have learnt to appreciate Professor Noiré’s accurate and luminous statements. Leaving therefore the task of tracing minutely the intimate relation between Kant and his predecessors to the more experienced hand of my friend, I shall here be satisfied with pointing out in the broadest way the connection, and, at the same time, the diametrical opposition between Kant and those two great heroes of speculative thought, Berkeley and Hume.
Berkeley holds that all knowledge that seems to come to us from without through the senses or through experience is mere illusion, and that truth exists in the ideas of the pure understanding and of reason only.
Kant proves that all knowledge that comes to us from pure understanding and from pure reason only is mere illusion, and that truth is impossible without experience.
Hume holds that true causality is impossible, whether in experience or beyond experience.
Kant proves that experience itself is impossible without the category of causality, and, of course, without several other categories also which Hume had overlooked, though they possess exactly the same character as the concept of causality.1 The gist of Kant’s philosophy, as opposed to that of Hume, can be expressed in one line: That without which experience is impossible, cannot be the result of experience, though it must never be applied beyond the limits of possible experience.
Such broad statements and counter-statements may seem to destroy the finer shades of philosophical thought, yet in the end even the most complicated and elaborate systems of philosophy rest on such broad foundations; and what we carry about with us of Plato or Aristotle, of Descartes or Leibniz, consists in the end of little more than a few simple outlines of the grand structures of their philosophical thoughts. And in that respect no system admits of being traced in simpler and broader outlines than that of Kant. Voluminous and complicated it is, and yet Kant himself traces in a few lines the outcome of it, when he says (Critique, p. 666 (830)): ‘But it will be said, is this really all that pure reason can achieve, in opening prospects beyond the limits of experience? Nothing more than two articles of faith? Surely even the ordinary understanding could have achieved as much without taking counsel of philosophers!
‘I shall not here dwell on the benefits,’ he answers, which, by the laborious efforts of its criticism, philosophy has conferred on human reason, granting even that in the end they should turn out to be merely negative. On this point something will have to be said in the next section. But, I ask, do you really require that knowledge, which concerns all men, should go beyond the common understanding, and should be revealed to you by philosophers only? The very thing which you find fault with is the best confirmation of the correctness of our previous assertions, since it reveals to us, what we could not have grasped before, namely, that in matters which concern all men without distinction, nature cannot be accused of any partial distribution of her gifts; and that, with regard to the essential interests of human nature, the highest philosophy can achieve no more than that guidance which nature has vouchsafed even to the meanest understanding.’
I hope that the time will come when Kant’s works, and more particularly his Critique of Pure Reason, will be read, not only by the philosopher by profession, but by everybody who has once seen that there are problems in this life of ours the solution of which alone makes life worth living. These problems, as Kant so often tells us, are all the making of reason, and what reason has made, reason is able to unmake. These problems represent in fact the mythology of philosophy, that is, the influence of dying or dead language on the living thought of each successive age; and an age which has found the key to the ancient mythology of religion, will know where to look for the key that is to unlock the mythology of pure reason. Kant has shown us what can and what cannot be known by man. What remains to be done, even after Kant, is to show how man came to believe that he could know so much more than he can know, and this will have to be shown by a Critique of Language.1
How strange it is that Kant’s great contemporary, ‘the Magus of the North,’ should have seen this at once, and that for a whole century his thought has remained dormant. ‘Language,’ Hamann writes, ‘is not only the foundation for the whole faculty of thinking, but the central point also from which proceeds the misunderstanding of reason by herself.’ And again:2 ‘The question with me is not, What is Reason? but, What is Language? And here I suspect is the ground of all paralogisms and antinomies with which Reason has been charged.’ And again: ‘Hence I feel almost inclined to believe that our whole philosophy consists more of language than of reason, and the misunderstanding of numberless words, the prosopopœias of the most arbitrary abstraction, the antithesis τη̂ ς ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως; nay, the commonest figures of speech of the sensus communis have produced a whole world of problems, which can no more be raised than solved. What we want is a Grammar of Reason.’
That Kant’s Critique will ever become a popular book, in the ordinary sense of the word, is impossible; but that it will for ever occupy a place in the small tourist’s library which every thoughtful traveller across this short life’s journey will keep by his side, I have no doubt. Kant, it must be admitted, was a bad writer, but so was Aristotle, so was Descartes, so was Liebniz, so was Hegel; and, after a time, as in climbing a mountain, the very roughness of the road becomes an attraction to the traveller. Besides, though Kant is a bad builder, he is not a bad architect, and there will be few patient readers of the Critique who will fail to understand Goethe’s expression that on reading Kant, or rather, I should say, on reading Kant again and again, we feel like stepping into a lighted room. I have tried hard, very hard, to remove some of the darkness which has hitherto shrouded Kant’s masterwork from English readers, and though I know how often I have failed to satisfy myself, I still hope I shall not have laboured quite in vain. Englishmen who, in the turmoil of this century, found leisure and mental vigour enough to study once more the thoughts of Plato, and perceiving their bearing on the thoughts of our age, may well brace themselves to the harder work of discovering in Kant the solution of many of the oldest problems of our race, problems which, with most of us, are still the problems of yesterday and of to-day. I am well aware that for Kant there is neither the prestige of a name, such as Plato, nor the cunning of a translator, such as Jowett. But a thinker who in Germany could make himself listened to during the philosophical apathy of the Wolfian age, who from his Ultima Thule of Königsberg could spring forward to grasp the rudder of a vessel, cast away as unseaworthy by no less a captain than Hume, and who has stood at the helm for more than a century, trusted by all whose trust was worth having, will surely find in England, too, patient listeners, even though they might shrink, as yet, from embarking in his good ship in their passage across the ocean of life.
Kant’s Metaphysic in relation to Physical Science
We live in an age of physical discovery, and of complete philosophical prostration, and thus only can we account for the fact that physical science, and, more particularly, physiology, should actually have grasped at the sceptre of philosophy. Nothing, I believe, could be more disastrous to both sciences.
No one who knows my writings will suspect me of undervaluing the progress which physical studies have made in our time, or of ignoring the light which they have shed on many of the darkest problems of the mind. Only let us not unnecessarily move the old landmarks of human knowledge. There always has been, and there always must be, a line of demarcation between physical and metaphysical investigations, and though the former can illustrate the latter, they can never take their place. Nothing can be more interesting, for instance, than recent researches into the exact processes of sensuous perception. Optics and Acoustics have carried us deep into the inner workings of our bodily senses, and have enabled us to understand what we call colours and sounds, as vibrations, definite in number, carried on from the outer organs through vibrating media to the brain and the inmost centre of all nervous activity. Such observations have, no doubt, made it more intelligible, even to the commonest understanding, what metaphysicians mean when they call all secondary qualities subjective, and deny that anything can be, for instance, green or sweet, anywhere but in the perceiving subject. But the idea that these physical and physiological researches have brought us one inch nearer to the real centre of subjective perception, that any movement of matter could in any way explain the simplest sensuous perception, or that behind the membranes and nerves we should ever catch hold of what we call the soul, or the I, or the self, need only to be stated to betray its utter folly. That men like Helmholtz and Du Bois-Reymond should find Kant’s metaphysical platform best adapted for supporting their physical theories is natural enough. But how can any one who weighs his words say that the modern physiology of the senses has in any way supplemented or improved Kant’s theory of knowledge?1 As well might we say that spectrum analysis has improved our logic, or the electric light supplemented our geometry. ‘Empirical psychology,’ as Kant says, ‘must be entirely banished from metaphysic, and is excluded from it by its very idea.’2
Metaphysical truth is wider than physical truth, and the new discoveries of physical observers, if they are to be more than merely contingent truths, must find their appointed place and natural refuge within the immoveable limits traced by the metaphysician. It was an unfortunate accident that gave to what ought to have been called prophysical, the name of metaphysical science, for it is only after having mastered the principles of metaphysic that the student of nature can begin his work in the right spirit, knowing the horizon of human knowledge, and guided by principles as unchangeable as the polestar. It would be childish to make this a question of rank or precedence it is simply a question of work and order.
It may require, for instance, a greater effort, and display more brilliant mental qualities, to show that nature contains no traces of repeated acts of special creation, than to prove that such a theory would make all unity of experience, and consequently all science, impossible. But what are all the negative arguments of the mere observer without the solid foundation supplied by the metaphysician? And with how much more of tranquil assurance would the geologist pursue his observations and develop his conclusions, if he just remembered these few lines of Kant: ‘When such an arising is looked upon as the effect of a foreign cause, it is called creation. This can never be admitted as an event among phenomena, because its very possibility would destroy unity of experience.’1
What can have been more delightful to the unprejudiced observer than the gradual diminution of the enormous number of what were called, by students of nature who had never troubled their heads about the true meaning of these terms, genera and species? But when the true meaning, and thereby the true origin, of genera and species was to be determined, is it not strange that not one word should ever have been said on the subjective character of these terms? Whatever else a genus or species may be, surely they are, first of all, concepts of the understanding, and, without these concepts, whatever nature might present to us, nothing would ever be to us a genus or a species.
Genus and species, in that restricted sense, as applied to organic beings, represent only one side of that fundamental process on which all thought is founded, namely, the conception of the General and the Special. Here, again, a few pages of Kant1 would have shown that the first thing to be explained is the process by which we conceive the genus or the general, and that the only adequate explanation of it is what Kant calls its transcendental deduction, i.e. the proof that, without it, experience itself would be impossible; and that therefore, so far from being a concept abstracted from experience, it is a sine qua non of experience itself.
If this is once clearly understood, it will be equally understood that, as we are the makers of all concepts, we are also the makers of genera and species, and that long before logicians came to define and deface these terms, they were what we now are anxious to make them again, terms for objects which have either a common origin or a common form. Long before Aristotle forced the terms γένος and εἰ̂δος to assume a subordinate relation to each other, language, or the historical logic of the human race, had formed these terms, and meant them to be not subordinate, but co-ordinate.
Genos meant kin, and the first genos was the gens or the family, comprehending individuals that could claim a common ancestor, though differing in appearance as much as a grandfather and a babe. Eidos or species, on the contrary, meant appearance or form, and the first eidos was probably the troop of warriors, comprehending individuals of uniform appearance, nothing being asserted as to their common origin. This was the historic or prehistoric beginning of these two fundamental categories of thought — and what has the theory of evolution really done for them? It has safely brought them back to their original meaning. It has shown us that we can hold together, or comprehend, or conceive, or classify, or generalise or speak in two ways, and in two ways only — either by common descent (genealogically), or by common appearance (morphologically). Difference of form is nothing, if we classify genealogically, and difference of descent is nothing, if we classify morphologically. What the theory of evolution is doing for us is what is done by every genealogist, aye, what was done in ancient time by every paterfamilias, namely, to show by facts that certain individuals, however different from each other in form and appearance, had a common ancestor, and belonged therefore to the same family or kin. In every case where such proof has been given, we gain in reality a more correct general concept, i.e. we are able to think and to speak better. The process is the same, whether we trace the Bourbons and Valois back to Hugo Capet, or whether we derive the Hippos and the Hipparion from a common ancestor. In both cases we are dealing with facts and with facts only. Let it be established that there is no missing link between them, or between man and monkey, and we shall simply have gained a new concept, as we should gain a new concept by establishing the unbroken continuity of the Apostolic succession. Only let us see clearly that in physical and historical researches, too, we are dealing with facts, and with facts only, which cannot excite any passion, and that the wider issues as to the origin of genera and species belong to a different sphere of human knowledge, and after having been debated for centuries, have been determined once for all by Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.
If one remembers the dust-clouds of words that were raised when the question of the origin of species was mooted once more in our days, it is truly refreshing to read a few of Kant’s calm pages on that subject, written one hundred years ago. ‘Reason,’1 he writes, ‘prepares the field for the understanding,
‘1st. Through the principle of homogeneousness of the manifold as arranged under higher genera;
‘2ndly. Through the principle of the variety of the homogeneous in lower species; to which,
‘3rdly, it adds a law of affinity of all concepts, which requires a continual transition from every species to every other species, by a gradual increase of diversity. We may call these the principles of homogeneousness, of specification, and of continuity of forms.’
And with reference to the practical application of these metaphysical principles to the study of nature, he writes again with true philosophical insight:2 ‘I often see even intelligent men quarrelling with each other about the characteristic distinctions of men, animals, or plants, nay, even of minerals, the one admitting the existence of certain national characteristics, founded on descent, or decided and inherited differences of families, races, etc., while others insist that nature has made the same provision for all, and that all differences are due to accidental environment. But they need only consider the peculiar character of the matter, in order to understand that it is far too deeply hidden for both of them to enable them to speak from any real insight into the nature of the object. It is nothing but the twofold interest of reason, one party cherishing the one, another party the other, or pretending to do so. But this difference of the two maxims of manifoldness and unity in nature, may easily be adjusted, though as long as they are taken for objective knowledge they cause not only disputes, but actually create impediments which hinder the progress of truth, until a means is found of reconciling the contradictory interests, and thus giving satisfaction to reason.
‘The same applies to the assertion or denial of the famous law of the continuous scale of created beings, first advanced by Leibniz, and so cleverly trimmed up by Bonnet. It is nothing but a carrying out of the principle of affinity resting on the interest of reason, for neither observation, nor insight into the constitution of nature could ever have supplied it as an objective assertion. The steps of such a ladder, as far as they can be supplied by experience, are far too wide apart from each other, and the so-called small differences are often in nature itself such wide gaps, that no value can be attached to such observations as revealing the intentions of nature, particularly as it must always be easy to discover certain similarities and approximations in the great variety of things. The method, on the contrary, of looking for order in nature, according to such a principle, and the maxim of admitting such order (though it may be uncertain where and how far) as existing in nature in general, is certainly a legitimate and excellent regulative principle of reason, only that, as such, it goes far beyond where experience or observation could follow it. It only indicates the way which leads to systematical unity, but does not determine anything beyond.’
I know, of course, what some of my philosophical friends will say. ‘You speak of thoughts,’ they will say, ‘we speak of facts. You begin with the general, we begin with the particular. You trust to reason, we trust to our senses.’ Let me quote in reply one of the most positive of positive philosophers, one who trusts to the senses, who begins with the particular, and who speaks of facts. Condillac in his famous Essai sur l’Origine des Connaissances humaines, writes: ‘Soit que nous élevions, pour parler métaphoriquement, jusque dans les cieux, soit que nous descendions dans les abîmes, nous ne sortons pas de nous-mêmes; et ce n’est jamais que notre pensée que nous apercevons.’ This was written in 1746.
And what applies to these, applies to almost all other problems of the day. Instead of being discussed by themselves, and with a heat and haste as if they had never been discussed before, they should be brought back to the broader ground from which they naturally arise, and be treated by the light of true philosophy and the experience gained in former ages. There is a solid ground formed by the thoughts of those who came before us, a kind of intellectual humus on which we ourselves must learn to march on cautiously, yet safely, without needing those high stilts which seem to lift our modern philosophers above the level of Locke, and Hume, and Kant, and promise to enable them to advance across the unknown and the unknowable with wider strides than were ever attempted by such men as Faraday, or Lyell, or Darwin, but which invariably fall away when they are most needed, and leave our bold speculators to retrace their steps as best they can.
Kant’s Philosophy as judged by History
If my translation of Kant were intended for a few professional philosophers only, I should not feel bound to produce any credentials in his favour. But the few true students of philosophy in England do not want a translation. They would as little attempt to study Kant, without knowing German, as to study Plato, without knowing Greek. What I want, and what I hope for is that that large class of men and women whose thoughts, consciously or unconsciously, are still rooted in the philosophy of the last century, and who still draw their intellectual nutriment from the philosophical soil left by Locke and Hume, should know that there is a greater than Locke or Hume, though himself the avowed pupil and the truest admirer of those powerful teachers. Kant is not a man that requires testimonials; we might as well require testimonials of Plato or Spinoza. But to the English reader it may be of interest to hear at least a few of the utterances of the great men whose merit it is to have discovered Kant, a discovery that may well be called the discovery of a new world.
What Goethe said of Kant, we have mentioned before. Schiller, after having declared that he was determined to master Kant’s Critique, and if it were to cost him the whole of his life, says: ‘The fundamental ideas of Kant’s ideal philosophy will remain a treasure for ever, and for their sake alone we ought to be grateful to have been born in this age.’
Strange it is to see how orthodox theologians, from mere laziness, it would seem, in mastering Kant’s doctrines, raised at once a clamour against the man who proved to be their best friend, but whose last years of life they must needs embitter. One of the most religious and most honest of Kant’s contemporaries, however, Jung Stilling, whose name is well known in England also, quickly perceived the true bearing of the Critique of Pure Reason. In a letter, dated March 1, 1789, Jung Stilling writes to Kant: ‘You are a great, a very great instrument in the hand of God. I do not flatter, — but your philosophy will work a far greater, far more general, and far more blessed revolution than Luther’s Reform. As soon as one has well comprehended the Critique of Reason, one sees that no refutation of it is possible. Your philosophy must therefore be eternal and unchangeable, and its beneficent effects will bring back the religion of Jesus to its original purity, when its only purpose was — holiness.’
Fichte, no mean philosopher himself, and on many points the antagonist of Kant, writes: ‘Kant’s philosophy will in time overshadow the whole human race, and call to life a new, more noble, and more worthy generation.’
Jean Paul Friedrich Richter speaks of Kant ‘not only as a light of the world, but as a whole solar system in one.’
With more suppressed, yet no less powerful appreciation Wilhelm von Humboldt writes of him: ‘Some things which he demolished will never rise again; some things which he founded will never perish again. A reform such as he carried through is rare in the history of philosophy.’
Schopenhauer, the most fearless critic of Kant’s Critique, calls it ‘the highest achievement of human reflection.’ What he has written of Kant is indispensable indeed to every student of the Critique, and I deeply regret that I could not have added to my translation of Kant a translation of Schopenhauer’s critical remarks.
I must add, however, one paragraph: ‘Never,’ Schopenhauer writes in his Parerga (1, 183), ‘never will a philosopher, without an independent, zealous, and often repeated study of the principal works of Kant, gain any idea of this most important of all philosophical phenomena. Kant is, I believe, the most philosophical head that nature has ever produced. To think with him and according to his manner is something that cannot be compared to anything else, for he possessed such an amount of clear and quite peculiar thoughtfulness as has never been granted to any other mortal. We are enabled to enjoy this with him, if, initiated by patient and serious study, we succeed, while reading the profoundest chapters of the Critique of Pure Reason, in forgetting ourselves and thinking really with Kant’s own head, thus being lifted high above ourselves. If we go once more through the Principles of Pure Reason, and, more particularly, the Analogies of Experience, and enter into the deep thought of the synthetical unity of apperception, we feel as if lifted miraculously and carried away out of the dreamy existence in which we are here lost, and as if holding in our hands the very elements out of which that dream consists.’
If, in conclusion, we look at some of the historians of modern philosophy, we find Erdmann, though a follower of Hegel, speaking of Kant as ‘the Atlas that supports the whole of German philosophy.’
Fortlage, the Nestor of German philosophers,1 who wrote what he calls a Genetic History of Philosophy since Kant, speaks of him in the following terms: ‘In one word, Kant’s system is the gate through which everything that has stirred the philosophical world since his time, comes and goes. It is the Universal Exchange where all circulating ideas flow together before they vanish again in distant places. It is the London of philosophy, sending its ships into every part of the world, and after a time receiving them back. There is no place in the whole globe of human thought which it has not visited, explored, and colonised.’
In more homely language Professor Caird expresses much the same idea of Kant’s philosophy, when he says (p. 120): ‘So much has Kant’s fertile idea changed the aspect of the intellectual world, that there is not a single problem of philosophy that does not meet us with a new face; and it is perhaps not unfair to say, that the speculations of all those who have not learned the lesson of Kant, are beside the point.’
Dr. Vaihinger, who has devoted his life to the study of Kant, and is now bringing out a commentary in four volumes on his Critique of Pure Reason,1 sums up his estimate in the following words: ‘The Critique is a work to which, whether we look to the grandeur of conception, or the accuracy of thought, or the weight of ideas, or the power of language, few only can be compared — possibly Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Spinoza’s Ethics — none, if we consider their lasting effect, their penetrating and far-reaching influence, their wealth of thought, and their variety of suggestions.’2
Nearly the same judgment is repeated by Vacherot,3 who speaks of the Critique as ‘un livre immortel, comme l’Organum de Bacon et le Discours de la Méthode de Descartes,’ while Professor Noiré, with his wider sympathies for every sphere of intellectual activity, counts six books, in the literature of modern Europe, as the peers of Kant’s Critique, viz. Copernicus, De revolutionibus orbium cœlestium (1543); Descartes, Meditationes de prima philosophia (1641); Newton, Principia philosophiæ naturalis mathematica (1687); Montesquieu, Esprit des Lois (1748); Winckelmann, Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums (1764); and Adam Smith, Inquiry into the nature and causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), — but he places Kant’s Critique at the head of them all.
I confess I feel almost ashamed lest it should be supposed that I thought Kant in need of these testimonies. My only excuse is that I had to defend myself against the suspicion of having wasted my time, and I therefore thought that by pointing out the position assigned to Kant’s Critique among the master-works of human genius by men of greater weight than I could ever venture to claim for myself, I might best answer the kindly meant question addressed to me by my many friends: ‘But how can you waste your time on a translation of Kant’s Critik der reinen Vernunft?’
On the Text of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason
I have still to say a few words on the German text on which my translation is founded.
I have chosen the text of the First Edition, first of all, because it was the centenary of that edition which led me to carry out at last my long-cherished idea of an English translation. That text represents an historical event. It represents the state of philosophy, as it was then, it represents Kant’s mind as it was then, at the moment of the greatest crisis in the history of philosophy. Even if the later editions contained improvements, these improvements would belong to a later phase in Kant’s own development; and it is this first decisive position, as taken by Kant against both Hume and Berkeley, that more than anything else deserves to be preserved in the history of philosophy.
Secondly, I must confess that I have always used myself the First Edition of Kant’s Critique, and that when I came to read the Second Edition, I never could feel so at home in it as in the first. The First Edition seems to me cut out of one block, the second always leaves on my mind the impression of patchwork.
Thirdly, I certainly dislike in the Second Edition a certain apologetic tone, quite unworthy of Kant. He had evidently been attacked by the old Wolfian professors, and also by the orthodox clergy. He knew that these attacks were groundless, and arose in fact from an imperfect understanding of his work on the part of his critics. He need not have condescended to show that he was as well-schooled a philosopher as any of his learned colleagues, or that his philosophy would really prove extremely useful to orthodox clergymen in their controversies with sceptics and unbelievers.
So far, and so far only, can I understand the feeling against the Second Edition, which is shared by some of the most accurate and earnest students of Kant.
But I have never been able to understand the exaggerated charges which Schopenhauer and others bring against Kant, both for the omissions and the additions in that Second Edition. What I can understand and fully agree with is Jacobi’s opinion, when he says:1 ‘I consider the loss which the Second Edition of Kant’s Critique suffered by omissions and changes very considerable, and I am very anxious by the expression of my opinion to induce readers who seriously care for philosophy and its history to compare the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason with the second improved edition. . . . It is not sufficiently recognised what an advantage it is to study the systems of great thinkers in their first original form. I was told by Hamann that the very judicious Ch. J. Krause (or Kraus) could never sufficiently express his gratitude for having been made acquainted with Hume’s first philosophical work, Treatise on Human Nature, 1739, where alone he had found the right point of view for judging the later essays.’
Nor do I differ much from Michelet, in his History of the later systems of Philosophy in Germany (1837, Vol. I., p. 49), where he says, ‘Much that is of a more speculative character in the representation of Kant’s system has been taken from the First Edition. It can no longer be found in the second and later editions, which, as well as the Prolegomena, keep the idealistic tendency more in the background, because Kant saw that this side of his philosophy had lent itself most to attacks and misunderstandings.’
I can also understand Schopenhauer, when he states that many things that struck him as obscure and self-contradictory in Kant’s Critique ceased to be so when he came to read that work in its first original form. But everything else that Schopenhauer writes on the difference between the first and second editions of the Critique seems to me perfectly intolerable. Kant, in the Preface to his Second Edition, which was published six years after the first, in 1787, gives a clear and straightforward account of the changes which he introduced. ‘My new representation,’ he writes, ‘changes absolutely nothing with regard to my propositions and even the arguments in their support.’ He had nothing to retract, but he thought he had certain things to add, and he evidently hoped he could render some points of his system better understood. His freedom of thought, his boldness of speech, and his love of truth are, if I am any judge in these matters, the same in 1787 as in 1781. The active reactionary measures of the Prussian Government, by which Kant is supposed to have been frightened, date from a later period. Zedlitz, Kant’s friend and protector, was not replaced by Wöllner as minister till 1788. It was not till 1794 that Kant was really warned and reprimanded by the Cabinet, and we must not judge too harshly of the old philosopher when at his time of life, and in the then state of paternal despotism in Prussia, he wrote back to say ‘that he would do even more than was demanded of him, and abstain in future from all public lectures concerning religion, whether natural or revealed.’ What he at that time felt in his heart of hearts we know from some remarks found after his death among his papers. ‘It is dishonourable,’ he writes, ‘to retract or deny one’s real convictions, but silence, in a case like my own, is the duty of a subject; and though all we say must be true, it is not our duty to declare publicly all that is true.’ Kant never retracted, he never even declared himself no longer responsible for any one of those portions of the Critique which he omitted in the Second Edition. On the contrary, he asked his readers to look for them in the First Edition, and only expressed a regret that there was no longer room for them in the Second Edition.
Now let us hear what Schopenhauer says. He not only calls the Second Edition ‘crippled, disfigured, and corrupt,’ but imputes motives utterly at variance with all we know of the truthful, manly, and noble character of Kant. Schopenhauer writes: ‘What induced Kant to make these changes was fear of man, produced by weakness of old age, which not only affects the head, but sometimes deprives the heart also of that firmness which alone enables us to despise the opinions and motives of our contemporaries, as they deserve to be. No one can be great without that.’
All this is simply abominable. First of all, as a matter of fact, Kant, when he published his Second Edition, had not yet collapsed under the weakness of old age. He was about sixty years of age, and that age, so far from making cowards of us, gives to most men greater independence and greater boldness than can be expected from the young, who are awed by the authority of their seniors, and have often to steer their course prudently through the conflicts of parties and opinions.1 What is the use of growing old, if not to gain greater confidence in our opinions, and to feel justified in expressing them with perfect freedom? And as to ‘that firmness which alone enables us to despise the opinions and motives of our contemporaries,’ let us hope that that is neither a blessing of youth, nor of old age. Schopenhauer personally, no doubt, had a right to complain of his contemporaries, but he would have been greater if he had despised them either less or more, or, at all events, if he had despised them in silence.
I am really reluctant to translate all that follows, and yet, as Schopenhauer’s view has found so many echoes, it seems necessary to let him have his say.
‘Kant had been told,’ he continues, ‘that his system was only a réchauffé of Berkeley’s Idealism. This seemed to him to endanger that invaluable and indispensable originality which every founder of a system values so highly (see Prolegomena zu jeder künftigen Metaphysik, pp. 70, 202 sq.). At the same time he had given offence in other quarters by his upsetting of some of the sacred doctrines of the old dogmas, particularly of those of rational psychology. Add to this that the great king, the friend of light and protector of truth, had just died (1786). Kant allowed himself to be intimidated by all this, and had the weakness to do what was unworthy of him. This consists in his having entirely changed the first chapter of the Second Book of the Transcendental Dialectic (first ed., p. 341), leaving out fifty-seven pages, which contained what was indispensable for a clear understanding of the whole work, and by the omission of which, as well as by what he put in its place, his whole doctrine becomes full of contradictions. These I pointed out in my critique of Kant (pp. 612-18), because at that time (in 1818) I had never seen the First Edition, in which they are really not contradictions, but agree perfectly with the rest of his work. In truth the Second Edition is like a man who has had one leg amputated, and replaced by a wooden one. In the preface to the Second Edition (p. xlii), Kant gives hollow, nay, untrue excuses for the elimination of that important and extremely beautiful part of his book. He does not confessedly wish that what was omitted should be thought to have been retracted by him. “People might read it in the First Edition,” he says; “he had wanted room for new additions, and nothing had been changed and improved except the representation of his system.” But the dishonesty of this plea becomes clear if we compare the Second with the First Edition. There, in the Second Edition, he has not only left out that important and beautiful chapter, and inserted under the same title another half as long and much less significant, but he has actually embodied in that Second Edition a refutation of idealism which says the very contrary of what had been said in the omitted chapter, and defends the very errors which before he had thoroughly refuted, thus contradicting the whole of his own doctrine. This refutation of idealism is so thoroughly bad, such palpable sophistry, nay, in part, such a confused “galimatias,” that it is unworthy of a place in his immortal work. Conscious evidently of its insufficiency, Kant has tried to improve it by the alteration of one passage (see Preface, p. xxxix) and by a long and confused note. But he forgot to cancel at the same time in the Second Edition the numerous passages which are in contradiction with the new note, and in agreement with what he had cancelled. This applies particularly to the whole of the sixth section of the Antinomy of Pure Reason, and to all those passages which I pointed out with some amazement in my critique (which was written before I knew the First Edition and its later fate), because in them he contradicts himself. That it was fear which drove the old man to disfigure his Critique of rational psychology is shown also by this, that his attacks on the sacred doctrines of the old dogmatism are far weaker, far more timid and superficial, than in the First Edition, and that, for the sake of peace, he mixed them up at once with anticipations which are out of place, nay, cannot as yet be understood, of the immortality of the soul, grounded on practical reason and represented as one of its postulates. By thus timidly yielding he has in reality retracted, with regard to the principal problem of all philosophy, viz. the relation of the ideal to the real, those thoughts which he had conceived in the vigour of his manhood and cherished through all his life. This he did in his sixty-fourth year with a carelessness which is peculiar to old age quite as much as timidity, and he thus surrendered his system, not however openly, but escaping from it through a back-door, evidently ashamed himself of what he was doing. By this process the Critique of Pure Reason has, in its Second Edition, become a self-contradictory, crippled, and corrupt book, and is no longer genuine.’
‘The wrong interpretation of the Critique of Pure Reason, for which the successors of Kant, both those who were for and those who were against him, have blamed each other, as it would seem, with good reason, are principally due to the so-called improvements, introduced into his work by Kant’s own hand. For who can understand what contradicts itself?’
The best answer to all this is to be found in Kant’s own straightforward statements in the Preface to his Second Edition (Supplement II., pp. 688 seq.). That the unity of thought which pervades the First Edition is broken now and then in the Second Edition, no attentive reader can fail to see. That Kant shows rather too much anxiety to prove the harmlessness of his Critique, is equally true, and it would have been better if, while refuting what he calls Empirical Idealism, he had declared more strongly his unchanged adherence to the principles of Transcendental Idealism.1 But all this leaves Kant’s moral character quite untouched. If ever man lived the life of a true philosopher, making the smallest possible concessions to the inevitable vanities of the world, valuing even the shadowy hope of posthumous fame2 at no more than its proper worth, but fully enjoying the true enjoyments of this life, an unswerving devotion to truth, a consciousness of righteousness, and a sense of perfect independence, that man was Kant. If it is true that on some points which may seem more important to others than they seemed to himself, he changed his mind, or, as we should now say, if there was a later development in his philosophical views, this would seem to me to impose on every student the duty, which I have tried to fulfil as a translator also, viz. first of all, to gain a clear view of Kant’s system from his First Edition, and then to learn, both from the additions and from the omissions of the Second Edition, on what points Kant thought that the objections raised against his theory required a fuller and clearer statement of his arguments.
The additions of the Second Edition will be found on pp. 687-808 of this volume, while the passages omitted in the Second Edition have been included throughout between parentheses.
Critical Treatment of the Text of Kant’s Critique
The text of Kant’s Critique has of late years become the subject of the most minute philological criticism, and it certainly offers as good a field for the exercise of critical scholarship as any of the Greek and Roman classics.
We have, first of all, the text of the First Edition, full of faults, arising partly from the imperfect state of Kant’s manuscript, partly from the carelessness of the printer. Kant received no proof-sheets, and he examined the first thirty clean sheets, which were in his hands when he wrote the preface, so carelessly that he could detect in them only one essential misprint. Then followed the Second, ‘here and there improved,’ Edition (1787), in which Kant not only omitted and added considerable passages, but paid some little attention also to the correctness of the text, improving the spelling and the stopping, and removing a number of archaisms which often perplex the reader of the First Edition.
We hardly know whether these minor alterations came from Kant himself, for he is said to have remained firmly attached to the old system of orthography;1 and it seems quite certain that he himself paid no further attention to the later editions, published during his lifetime, the Third Edition in 1790, the Fourth in 1794, the Fifth in 1799.
At the end of the Fifth Edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, published in 1799, there is a long list of Corrigenda, the authorship of which has exercised the critical students of Kant’s text very much. No one seems to have thought of attributing it to Kant himself, who at that time of life was quite incapable of such work. Professor B. Erdmann supposed it might be the work of Rink, or some other amanuensis of Kant. Dr. Vaihinger has shown that it is the work of a Professor Grillo, who, in the Philosophische Anzeiger, a Supplement to L. H. Jacob’s Annalen der Philosophie und des philosophischen Geistes, 1795, published a collection of Corrigenda, not only for Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, but for several others of his works also. Another contributor to the same journal, Meyer, thereupon defended Kant’s publisher (Hartknoch) against the charges of carelessness, rejected some of Grillo’s corrections, and showed that what seemed to be misprints were in many cases peculiarities of Kant’s style. It is this list of Professor Grillo which, with certain deductions, has been added to the Fifth Edition of the Critique. Some of Grillo’s corrections have been adopted in the text, while others, even those which Meyer had proved to be unnecessary, have retained their place in the list.
With such materials before him, it is clear that a critical student of Kant’s text enjoys considerable freedom in conjectural emendation, and that freedom has been used with great success by a number of German critics. The more important are: —
Rosenkranz, in his edition of Kant’s Critique (text of First Edition), 1838.
Hartenstein, in his edition of Kant’s Critique (text of Second Edition), 1838, 1867.
Kehrbach, in his edition of Kant’s Critique (text of First Edition), 1877.
Leclair, A. von, Kritische Beiträge zur Kategorienlehre Kant’s, 1871.
Paulsen, Versuch einer Entwickelungsgeschichte der Kantischen Erkenntnisslehre, 1875.
Erdmann, B., Kritik der reinen Vernunft (text of Second Edition), 1878, with a valuable chapter on the Revision of the Text.
Many of the alterations introduced by these critics affect the wording only of Kant’s Critique, without materially altering the meaning, and were therefore of no importance in an English translation. It often happens, however, that the construction of a whole sentence depends on a very slight alteration of the text. In Kant’s long sentences, the gender of the pronouns der, die, das, are often our only guide in discovering to what substantive these pronouns refer, while in English, where the distinction of gender is wanting in substantives, it is often absolutely necessary to repeat the substantives to which the pronouns refer. But Kant uses several nouns in a gender which has become obsolete. Thus he speaks1 of der Wachsthum, der Wohlgefallen, der Gegentheil, die Hinderniss, die Bedürfniss, die Verhältniss, and he varies even between die and das Verhältniss, die and das Erkenntniss, etc., so that even the genders of pronouns may become blind guides. The same applies to several prepositions which Kant construes with different cases from what would be sanctioned by modern German grammar.2 Thus ausser with him governs the accusative, während the dative, etc. For all this, and many other peculiarities, we must be prepared, if we want to construe Kant’s text correctly, or find out how far we are justified in altering it.
Much has been achieved in this line, and conjectural alterations have been made by recent editors of Kant of which a Bentley or a Lachmann need not be ashamed. In cases where these emendations affected the meaning, and when the reasons why my translation deviated so much from the textus receptus might not be easily perceived, I have added the emendations adopted by me, in a note. Those who wish for fuller information on these points, will have to consult Dr. Vaihinger’s forthcoming Commentary, which, to judge from a few specimens kindly communicated to me by the author, will give the fullest information on the subject.
How important some of the emendations are which have to be taken into account before an intelligible translation is possible, may be seen from a few specimens.
On p. 358 (442) the reading of the first edition Antithesis must be changed into Thesis.
Page 441 (545), Noumenon seems preferable to Phænomenon.
Page 395 (484), we must read keine, instead of eine Wahrnehmung.
Page 277 (340), we must keep the reading of the First Edition transcendentalen, instead of transcendenten, as printed in the Second; while on p. 542 (674), transcendenten may be retained, though corrected into transcendentalen in the Corrigenda of the Fifth Edition.
On p. 627 (781), the First Edition reads, sind also keine Privatmeinungen. Hartenstein rightly corrects this into reine Privatmeinungen, i.e. they are mere private opinions.
Page 667 (832), instead of ein jeder Theil, it is proposed to read kein Theil. This would be necessary if we took vermisst werden kann, in the sense of can be spared, while if we take it in the sense of can be missed, i.e. can be felt to be absent, the reading of the First Edition ein jeder Theil must stand. See the Preface to the First Edition, p. xx, note 1.
On p. 128 (157) the First Edition reads, Weil sie kein Drittes, nämlich reinen Gegenstand haben. This gives no sense, because Kant never speaks of a reinen Gegenstand. In the list of Corrigenda at the end of the Fifth Edition, reinen is changed into keinen, which Hartenstein has rightly adopted, while Rosenkranz retains reinen.
On pp. 16 and 17 of the Introduction to the Second Edition (Supplement IV., p. 717), Dr. Vaihinger has clearly proved, I think, that the whole passage from Einige wenige Grundsätze to Können dargestellt werden interrupts the drift of Kant’s argument. It probably was a marginal note, made by Kant himself, but inserted in the wrong place. It would do very well as a note to the sentence: Eben so wenig ist irgend ein Grundsatz der reinen Geometrie analytisch.
With these prefatory remarks I leave my translation in the hands of English readers. It contains the result of hard work and hard thought, and I trust it will do some good. I have called Kant’s philosophy the Lingua Franca of modern philosophy, and so it is, and I hope will become still more. But that Lingua Franca, though it may contain many familiar words from all languages of the world, has yet, like every other language, to be learnt. To expect that we can understand Kant’s Critique by simply reading it, would be the same as to attempt to read a French novel by the light of English and Latin. A book which Schiller and Schopenhauer had to read again and again before they could master it, will not yield its secrets at the first time of asking. An Indian proverb says that it is not always the fault of the post, if a blind man cannot see it, nor is it always the fault of the profound thinker, if his language is unintelligible to the busy crowd. I am no defender of dark sayings, and I still hold to an opinion for which I have often been blamed, that there is nothing in any science that cannot be stated clearly, if only we know it clearly. Still there are limits. No man has a right to complain that he cannot understand higher mathematics, if he declines to advance step by step from the lowest to the highest stage of that science. It is the same in philosophy. Philosophy represents a long toil in thought and word, and it is but natural that those who have toiled long in inward thought should use certain concepts, and bundles of concepts, with their algebraic exponents, in a way entirely bewildering to the outer world. Kant’s obscurity is owing partly to his writing for himself rather than for others, and partly to his addressing himself, when defending a cause, to the judge, and not to the jury. He does not wish to persuade, he tries to convince. No doubt there are arguments in Kant’s Critique which fail to convince, and which have provoked the cavils and strictures of his opponents. Kant would not have been the really great man he was, if he had escaped the merciless criticism of his smaller contemporaries. But herein too we perceive the greatness of Kant, that those hostile criticisms, even where they are well founded, touch only on less essential points, and leave the solidity of the whole structure of his philosophy unimpaired. No first perusal will teach us how much of Kant’s Critique may safely be put aside as problematical, or, at all events, as not essential. But with every year, and with every new perusal, some of these mists and clouds will vanish, and the central truth will be seen rising before our eyes with constantly increasing warmth and splendour, like a cloudless sun in an Eastern sky.
And now, while I am looking at the last lines that I have written, it may be the last lines that I shall ever write on Kant, the same feeling comes over me which I expressed in the Preface to the last volume of my edition of the Rig-Veda and its ancient Commentary. I feel as if an old friend, with whom I have had many communings during the sunny and during the dark days of life, was taken from me, and I should hear his voice no more.
The two friends, the Rig-Veda and Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, may seem very different, and yet my life would have been incomplete without the one as without the other.
The bridge of thoughts and sighs that spans the whole history of the Aryan world has its first arch in the Veda, its last in Kant’s Critique. In the Veda we watch the first unfolding of the human mind as we can watch it nowhere else. Life seems simple, natural, childlike, full of hopes, undisturbed as yet by many doubts or fears. What is beneath, and above, and beyond this life is dimly perceived, and expressed in a thousand words and ways, all mere stammerings, all aiming to express what cannot be expressed, yet all full of a belief in the real presence of the Divine in Nature, of the Infinite in the Finite. Here is the childhood of our race unfolded before our eyes, at least so much of it as we shall ever know on Aryan ground, — and there are lessons to be read in those hymns, aye, in every word that is used by those ancient poets, which will occupy and delight generations to come.
And while in the Veda we may study the childhood, we may study in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason the perfect manhood of the Aryan mind. It has passed through many phases, and every one of them had its purpose, and has left its mark. It is no longer dogmatical, it is no longer sceptical, least of all is it positive. It has arrived at and passed through its critical phase, and in Kant’s Critique stands before us, conscious both of its weakness and of its strength, modest, yet brave. It knows what the old idols of its childhood and its youth too were made of. It does not break them, it only tries to understand them, but it places above them the Ideals of Reason — no longer tangible — not even within reach of the understanding — yet real, if anything can be called real, — bright and heavenly stars to guide us even in the darkest night.
In the Veda we see how the Divine appears in the fire, and in the earthquake, and in the great and strong wind which rends the mountain. In Kant’s Critique the Divine is heard in the still small voice — the Categorical Imperative — the I Ought — which Nature does not know and cannot teach. Everything in Nature is or is not, is necessary or contingent, true or false. But there is no room in Nature for the Ought, as little as there is in Logic, Mathematics, or Geometry. Let that suffice, and let future generations learn all the lessons contained in that simple word, I ought, as interpreted by Kant.
I feel I have done but little for my two friends, far less than they have done for me. I myself have learnt from the Veda all that I cared to learn, but the right and full interpretation of all that the poets of the Vedic hymns have said or have meant to say, must be left to the future. What I could do in this short life of ours was to rescue from oblivion the most ancient heirloom of the Aryan family, to establish its text on a sound basis, and to render accessible its venerable Commentary, which, so long as Vedic studies last, may be criticised, but can never be ignored.
The same with Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. I do not venture to give the right and full explanation of all that Kant has said or has meant to say. I myself have learnt from him all that I cared to learn, and I now give to the world the text of his principal work, critically restored, and so translated that the translation itself may serve as an explanation, and in some places even as a commentary of the original. The materials are now accessible, and the English-speaking race, the race of the future, will have in Kant’s Critique another Aryan heirloom, as precious as the Veda — a work that may be criticised, but can never be ignored.
F. MAX MÜLLER.
Oxford, November 25, 1881.
[1 ]I discovered too late that Professor Mahaffy, in his translation of Kuno Fischer’s work on Kant (Longmans, 1866), has given some excellent specimens of what a translation of Kant ought to be. Had I known of them in time, I should have asked to be allowed to incorporate them in my own translation.
[1 ]During the first ten years after the appearance of the Critique, three hundred publications have been counted for and against Kant’s philosophy. See Vaihinger, Kommentar, I., p. 9.
[1 ]See Julius Walter, Zum Gedächtniss Kant’s, p. 28.
[2 ]See Supplement II, p. 693.
[1 ]This introduction is now left out, but will, I hope, be published as a separate work.
[1 ]Julius Walter, Zum Gedächtniss Kant’s, p. 27.
[2 ]‘J’ai lu et relu avec un plaisir infini le petit traité de Kant (Idee zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltbürgerlicher Absicht, 1784); il est prodigieux pour l’époque, et même, si je l’avais connu six ou sept ans plus tôt, il m’aurait épargné de la peine. Je suis charmé que vous l’ayez traduit, il peut trèsefficacement contribuer à préparer les esprits à la philosophie positive. La conception générale ou au moins la méthode y est encore métaphysique, mais les détails montrent à chaque instant l’esprit positif. J’avais toujours regardé Kant non-seulement comme une très-forte tête, mais comme le métaphysicien le plus rapproché de la philosophie positive. . . . Pour moi, je ne me trouve jusqu’à présent, après cette lecture, d’autre valeur que celle d’avoir systématisé et arrêté la conception ébauchée par Kant à mon insu, ce que je dois surtout à l’éducation scientifique; et même le pas le plus positif et le plus distinct que j’ai fait après lui, me semble seulement d’avoir découvert la loi du passage des idées humaines par les trois états théologique, métaphysique, et scientifique, loi qui me semble être la base du travail dont Kant a conseillé l’exécution. Je rends grâce aujourd’hui à mon défaut d’érudition; car si mon travail, tel qu’il est maintenant, avait été précédé chez moi par l’étude du traité de Kant, il aurait, à mes propres yeux, beaucoup perdu de sa valeur.’ See Auguste Comte, par É. Littré, Paris, 1864, p. 154; Lettre de Comte à M. d’Eichthal, 10 Déc. 1824.
[1 ]Vaihinger, Zum Jubiläum von Kant’s Kritik der reinen Vernunft, p. 11.
[1 ]This is Kant’s statement, though it is not quite accurate. See Adamson, On the Philosophy of Kant, p. 202. That Kant knew Hume’s Treatise on Human Nature seems to follow from Hamann’s Metakritik über den Purismus der reinen Vernunft, p. 3, note.
[1 ]What I mean by this, may be seen in the last Lecture of the Second Series of my Lectures on the Science of Language, delivered in 1867 (ed. 1880, Vol. II., pp. 612 seq.); in my article On the Origin of Reason, Contemporary Review, February, 1878; my Lectures on Mr. Darwin’s Philosophy of Language, Fraser’s Magazine, May, 1873; also in Professor Noiré’s works, Der Ursprung der Sprache, 1877; and Max Müller and the Philosophy of Language (Longmans, 1879). One important problem, in the solution of which I differ from Kant, or rather give a new application to Kant’s own principles, has been fully treated in my Hibbert Lectures, 1878, pp. 30 seq. All this may now be seen more fully treated in my Science of Thought, 1887.
[2 ]Gildemeister, Hamann’s Leben und Schriften, Vol. III., p. 71.
[1 ]See Noiré, in Die Gegenwart, June 23, 1881.
[2 ]Critique, p. 680 (848).
[1 ]Critique, p. 168 (206).
[1 ]Critique of Pure Reason, p. 524 (pp. 652 seq.).
[1 ]Critique, p. 528 (657).
[2 ]Ibid. p. 536 (667).
[1 ]He died November, 1881.
[1 ]Commentar zu Kant’s Kritik der reinen Vernunft, zum hundertjährigen Jubiläum derselben, herausgegeben von Dr. H. Vaihinger. Stuttgart, 1881.
[2 ]Zum Jubiläum von Kant’s Kritik der reinen Vernunft, von H. Vaihinger, Separatabdruck aus der Wochenschrift Im neuen Reich, 1881, No. 23, p. 14.
[3 ]Revue des deux Mondes, 1879, Août.
[1 ]Jacobi’s Works, Vol. II., p. 291 (1815).
[1 ]‘En général la vigueur de l’esprit, soit dans la politique, soit dans la science, ne se déploie dans toute sa plénitude qu’à l’âge où l’activité vitale vient à s’affaiblir.’ E. Sáisset, L’Âme et la Vie, p. 60.
[1 ]See Critique, p. 300 (369).
[2 ]See Critique of Pure Reason, Supp. XXVII., p. 793.
[1 ]See Kehrbach, Kritik der reinen Vernunft, p. viii.
[1 ]See Erdmann, p. 637.
[2 ]See Erdmann, p. 660.