Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK I: OF THE CONCEPTS OF PURE REASON [p. 310] - Critique of Pure Reason
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BOOK I: OF THE CONCEPTS OF PURE REASON [p. 310] - 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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OF THE CONCEPTS OF PURE REASON [p. 310]
Whatever may be thought of the possibility of concepts of pure reason, it is certain that they are not simply obtained by reflection, but by inference. Concepts of the understanding exist a priori, before experience, and for the sake of it, but they contain nothing but the unity of reflection applied to phenomena, so far as they are necessarily intended for a possible empirical consciousness. It is through them alone that knowledge and determination of an object become possible. They are the first to give material for conclusions, and they are not preceded by any concepts a priori of objects from which they could themselves be deduced. Their objective reality however depends on this, that because they constitute the intellectual form of all experience, it is necessary that their application should always admit of being exhibited in experience.
The very name, however, of a concept of reason gives a kind of intimation that it is not intended to be limited to experience, because it refers to a kind of knowledge of which every empirical knowledge is a part only (it may be, the whole of possible experience or of its empirical [p. 311] synthesis): and to which all real experience belongs, though it can never fully attain to it. Concepts of reason serve for conceiving or comprehending; concepts of the understanding for understanding (perceptions). If they contain the unconditioned, they refer to something to which all experience may belong, but which itself can never become an object of experience; — something to which reason in its conclusions from experience leads up, and by which it estimates and measures the degree of its own empirical use, but which never forms part of empirical synthesis. If such concepts possess, notwithstanding, objective validity, they may be called conceptus ratiocinati (concepts legitimately formed); if they have only been surreptitiously obtained, by a kind of illusory conclusion, they may be called conceptus ratiocinantes (sophistical concepts). But as this subject can only be fully treated in the chapter on the dialectical conclusions of pure reason, we shall say no more of it now, but shall only, as we gave the name of categories to the pure concepts of the understanding, give a new name to the concepts of pure reason, and call them transcendental ideas, a name that has now to be explained and justified. [p 312]
In spite of the great wealth of our languages, a thoughtful mind is often at a loss for an expression that should square exactly with its concept; and for want of which he cannot make himself altogether intelligible, either to others or to himself. To coin new words is to arrogate to oneself legislative power in matters of language, a proceeding which seldom succeeds, so that, before taking so desperate a step, it is always advisable to look about, in dead and learned languages, whether they do not contain such a concept and its adequate expression. Even if it should happen that the original meaning of the word had become somewhat uncertain, through carelessness on the part of its authors, it is better nevertheless to determine and fix the meaning which principally belonged to it (even if it should remain doubtful whether it was originally used exactly in that meaning), than to spoil our labour by becoming unintelligible.
Whenever therefore there exists one single word only for a certain concept, which, in its received meaning, exactly covers that concept, and when it is of [p. 313] great consequence to keep that concept distinct from other related concepts, we ought not to be lavish in using it nor employ it, for the sake of variety only, as a synonyme in the place of others, but carefully preserve its own peculiar meaning, as otherwise it may easily happen that the expression ceases to attract special attention, and loses itself in a crowd of other words of very different import, so that the thought, which that expression alone could have preserved, is lost with it.
From the way in which Plato uses the term idea, it is easy to see that he meant by it something which not only was never borrowed from the senses, but which even far transcends the concepts of the understanding, with which Aristotle occupied himself, there being nothing in experience corresponding to the ideas. With him the ideas are archetypes of things themselves, not only, like the categories, keys to possible experiences. According to his opinion they flowed out from the highest reason, which however exists no longer in its original state, but has to recall, with difficulty, the old but now very obscure ideas, which it does by means of reminiscence, commonly called philosophy. I shall not enter here on any literary discussions in order to determine the exact meaning which the sublime philosopher himself connected with that expression. I shall only remark, that it is by no [p. 314] means unusual, in ordinary conversations, as well as in written works, that by carefully comparing the thoughts uttered by an author on his own subject, we succeed in understanding him better than he understood himself, because he did not sufficiently define his concept, and thus not only spoke, but sometimes even thought, in opposition to his own intentions.
Plato knew very well that our faculty of knowledge was filled with a much higher craving than merely to spell out phenomena according to a synthetical unity, and thus to read and understand them as experience. He knew that our reason, if left to itself, tries to soar up to knowledge to which no object that experience may give can ever correspond; but which nevertheless is real, and by no means a mere cobweb of the brain.
Plato discovered his ideas principally in what is practical,1 that is, in what depends on freedom, which again belongs to a class of knowledge which is a [p. 315] peculiar product of reason. He who would derive the concept of virtue from experience, and would change what at best could only serve as an example or an imperfect illustration, into a type and a source of knowledge (as many have really done), would indeed transform virtue into an equivocal phantom, changing according to times and circumstances, and utterly useless to serve as a rule. Everybody can surely perceive that, when a person is held up to us as a model of virtue, we have always in our own mind the true original with which we compare this so-called model, and estimate it accordingly. The true original is the idea of virtue, in regard to which all possible objects of experience may serve as examples (proofs of the practicability, in a certain degree, of that which is required by the concept of reason), but never as archetypes. That no man can ever act up to the pure idea of virtue does not in the least prove the chimerical nature of that concept; for every judgment as to the moral worth or unworth of actions is possible by means of that idea only, which forms, therefore, the necessary foundation for every approach to moral perfection, however far the impediments inherent in human nature, the extent of which it is difficult to determine, may keep us removed from it.
The Platonic Republic has been supposed to [p. 316] be a striking example of purely imaginary perfection. It has become a byword, as something that could exist in the brain of an idle thinker only, and Brucker thinks it ridiculous that Plato could have said that no prince could ever govern well, unless he participated in the ideas. We should do better, however, to follow up this thought and endeavour (where that excellent philosopher leaves us without his guidance) to place it in a clearer light by our own efforts, rather than to throw it aside as useless, under the miserable and very dangerous pretext of its impracticability. A constitution founded on the greatest possible human freedom, according to laws which enable the freedom of each individual to exist by the side of the freedom of others (without any regard to the highest possible human happiness, because that must necessarily follow by itself), is, to say the least, a necessary idea, on which not only the first plan of a constitution or a state, but all laws must be based, it being by no means necessary to take account from the beginning of existing impediments, which may owe their origin not so much to human nature itself as to the actual neglect of true ideas in legislation. For nothing can be more mischievous and more unworthy a philosopher than the vulgar appeal to what is called adverse experience, which possibly might never have existed, if at the proper time institutions had been framed according to those ideas, and not according to crude [p. 317] concepts, which, because they were derived from experience only, have marred all good intentions. The more legislation and government are in harmony with that idea, the rarer, no doubt, punishments would become; and it is therefore quite rational to say (as Plato did), that in a perfect state no punishments would be necessary. And though this can never be realised, yet the idea is quite correct which sets up this maximum as an archetype, in order thus to bring our legislative constitutions nearer and nearer to the greatest possible perfection. Which may be the highest degree where human nature must stop, and how wide the chasm may be between the idea and its realisation, no one can or ought to determine, because it is this very freedom that may be able to transcend any limits hitherto assigned to it.
It is not only, however, where human reason asserts its free causality and ideas become operative agents (with regard to actions and their objects), that is to say, in the sphere of ethics, but also in nature itself, that Plato rightly discovered clear proofs of its origin from ideas. A plant, an animal, the regular plan of the cosmos (most likely therefore the whole order of nature), show clearly that they are possible according to ideas only; [p. 318] and that though no single creature, under the singular conditions of its existence, can fully correspond with the idea of what is most perfect of its kind (as little as any individual man with the idea of humanity, which, for all that, he carries in his mind as the archetype of all his actions), those ideas are nevertheless determined throughout in the highest understanding each by itself as unchangeable, and are in fact the original causes of things, although it can only be said of the whole of them, connected together in the universe, that it is perfectly adequate to the idea. If we make allowance for the exaggerated expression, the effort of the philosopher to ascend from the mere observing and copying of the physical side of nature to an architectonic system of it, teleologically, that is according to ideas, deserves respect and imitation, while with regard to the principles of morality, legislation, and religion, where it is the ideas themselves that make experience of the good possible, though they can never be fully realised in experience, such efforts are of very eminent merit, which those only fail to recognise who attempt to judge it according to empirical rules, the very validity of which, as principles, was meant to be denied by Plato. With regard to nature, it is experience no doubt which supplies us with rules, and is the foundation of all truth: with regard to moral laws, on the contrary, experience is, alas! but the source of illusion; and it is altogether reprehensible to derive or limit the laws of what we [p. 319] ought to do according to our experience of what has been done.
Instead of considering these subjects, the full development of which constitutes in reality the peculiar character and dignity of philosophy, we have to occupy ourselves at present with a task less brilliant, though not less useful, of building and strengthening the foundation of that majestic edifice of morality, which at present is undermined by all sorts of mole-tracks, the work of our reason, which thus vainly, but always with the same confidence, is searching for buried treasures. It is our duty at present to acquire an accurate knowledge of the transcendental use of the pure reason, its principles and ideas, in order to be able to determine and estimate correctly their influence and value. But before I leave this preliminary introduction, I beg those who really care for philosophy (which means more than is commonly supposed), if they are convinced by what I have said and shall still have to say, to take the term idea, in its original meaning, under their special protection, so that it should no longer be lost among other expressions, by which all sorts of representations are loosely designated, to the great detriment of philosophy. There is no lack of names adequate to express every kind of representation, without our having to encroach on the property of others. I shall [p. 320] give a graduated list of them. The whole class may be called representation (repraesentatio). Under it stands conscious representation, perception (perceptio). A perception referring to the subject only, as a modification of his state, is sensation (sensatio), while an objective sensation is called knowledge, cognition (cognitio). Cognition is either intuition or concept (intuitus vel conceptus). The former refers immediately to an object and is singular, the latter refers to it mediately, that is, by means of a characteristic mark that can be shared by several things in common. A concept is either empirical or pure, and the pure concept, so far as it has its origin in the understanding only (not in the pure image of sensibility) is called notion (notio). A concept formed of notions and transcending all possible experience is an idea, or a concept of reason. To any one who has once accustomed himself to these distinctions, it must be extremely irksome to hear the representation of red colour called an idea, though it could not even be rightly called a notion (a concept of the understanding).
We had an instance in our transcendental Analytic, how the mere logical form of our knowledge could contain the origin of pure concepts a priori, which represent objects antecedently to all experience, or rather indicate a synthetical unity by which alone an empirical knowledge of objects becomes possible. The form of judgments (changed into a concept of the synthesis of intuitions) gave us the categories that guide and determine the use of the understanding in every experience. We may expect, therefore, that the form of the syllogisms, if referred to the synthetical unity of intuitions, according to the manner of the categories, will contain the origin of certain concepts a priori, to be called concepts of pure reason, or transcendental ideas, which ought to determine the use of the understanding within the whole realm of experience, according to principles.
The function of reason in its syllogisms consists in the universality of cognition, according to concepts, and the syllogism itself is in reality a judgment, determined [p. 322] a priori in the whole extent of its condition. The proposition ‘Caius is mortal,’ might be taken from experience, by means of the understanding only. But what we want is a concept, containing the condition under which the predicate (assertion in general) of that judgment is given (here the concept of man), and after I have arranged it under this condition, taken in its whole extent (all men are mortal), I proceed to determine accordingly the knowledge of my object (Caius is mortal).
What we are doing therefore in the conclusion of a syllogism is to restrict the predicate to a certain object, after we have used it first in the major, in its whole extent, under a certain condition. This completeness of its extent, in reference to such a condition, is called universality (universalitas); and to this corresponds, in the synthesis of intuitions, the totality (universitas) of conditions. The transcendental concept of reason is, therefore, nothing but the concept of the totality of the conditions of anything given as conditioned. As therefore the unconditioned alone renders a totality of conditions possible, and as conversely the totality of conditions must always be unconditioned, it follows that a pure concept of reason in general may be explained as a concept of the unconditioned, so far as it contains a basis for the synthesis of the conditioned.
As many kinds of relations as there are, which [p. 323] the understanding represents to itself by means of the categories, so many pure concepts of the reason we shall find, that is, first, the unconditioned of the categorical synthesis in a subject; secondly, the unconditioned of the hypothetical synthesis of the members of a series; thirdly, the unconditioned of the disjunctive synthesis of the parts of a system.
There are exactly as many kinds of syllogisms, each of which tries to advance by means of pro-syllogisms to the unconditioned: the first to the subject, which itself is no longer a predicate; the second to the presupposition, which presupposes nothing else; and the third to an aggregate of the members of a division, which requires nothing else, in order to render the division of the concept complete. Hence the pure concepts of reason implying totality in the synthesis of the conditions are necessary, at least as problems, in order to carry the unity of the understanding to the unconditioned, if that is possible, and they are founded in the nature of human reason, even though these transcendental concepts may be without any proper application in concreto, and thus have no utility beyond bringing the understanding into a direction where its application, being extended as far as possible, is brought throughout in harmony with itself.
Whilst speaking here of the totality of conditions, [p. 324] and of the unconditioned, as the common title of all the concepts of reason, we again meet with a term which we cannot do without, but which, by long abuse, has become so equivocal that we cannot employ it with safety. The term absolute is one of those few words which, in their original meaning, were fitted to a concept, which afterwards could not be exactly fitted with any other word of the same language, and the loss of which, or what is the same, the loose employment of which, entails the loss of the concept itself, and that of a concept with which reason is constantly occupied, and cannot dispense with without real damage to all transcendental investigations. At present the term absolute is frequently used simply in order to indicate that something applies to an object, considered in itself, and thus as it were internally. In this way absolutely possible would mean that something is possible in itself (interné), which in reality is the least that could be said of it. It is sometimes used also to indicate that something is valid in all respects (without limitation), as people speak of absolute sovereignty. In this way absolutely possible would mean that which is possible in all respects, and this is again the utmost that could be said of the possibility of a thing. It is true that these two significations [p. 325] sometimes coincide, because something that is internally impossible is impossible also in every respect, and therefore absolutely impossible. But in most cases they are far apart, and I am by no means justified in concluding that, because something is possible in itself, it is possible also in every respect, that is, absolutely possible. Nay, with regard to absolute necessity, I shall be able to show hereafter that it by no means always depends on internal necessity, and that the two cannot therefore be considered synonymous. No doubt, if the opposite of a thing is intrinsically impossible, that opposite is also impossible in every respect, and the thing itself therefore absolutely necessary. But I cannot conclude conversely, that the opposite of what is absolutely necessary is internally impossible, or that the absolute necessity of things is the same as an internal necessity. For in certain cases that internal necessity is an entirely empty expression, with which we cannot connect the least concept, while that of the necessity of a thing in every respect (with regard to all that is possible) implies very peculiar determinations. As therefore the loss of a concept which has acted a great part in speculative philosophy can never be indifferent to philosophers, I hope they will also take some interest in the definition and careful preservation of the term with which that concept is connected.
I shall therefore use the term absolute in this [p. 326] enlarged meaning only, in opposition to that which is valid relatively and in particular respects only, the latter being restricted to conditions, the former free from any restrictions whatsoever.
It is then the absolute totality in the synthesis of conditions at which the transcendental concept of reason aims, nor does it rest satisfied till it has reached that which is unconditioned absolutely and in every respect. Pure reason leaves everything to the understanding, which has primarily to do with the objects of intuition, or rather their synthesis in imagination. It is only the absolute totality in the use of the concepts of the understanding, which reason reserves for itself, while trying to carry the synthetical unity, which is realised in the category, to the absolutely unconditioned. We might therefore call the latter the unity of the phenomena in reason, the former, which is expressed by the category, the unity in the understanding. Hence reason is only concerned with the use of the understanding, not so far as it contains the basis of possible experience (for the absolute totality of conditions is not a concept that can be used in experience, because no experience is unconditioned), but in order to impart to it a direction towards a certain unity of which the understanding knows nothing, and which is meant to comprehend all acts of the understanding, with regard to any object, into an [p. 327] absolute whole. On this account the objective use of the pure concepts of reason must always be transcendent: while that of the pure concepts of the understanding must always be immanent, being by its very nature restricted to possible experience.
By idea I understand the necessary concept of reason, to which the senses can supply no corresponding object. The concepts of reason, therefore, of which we have been speaking, are transcendental ideas. They are concepts of pure reason, so far as they regard all empirical knowledge as determined by an absolute totality of conditions. They are not mere fancies, but supplied to us by the very nature of reason, and referring by necessity to the whole use of the understanding. They are, lastly, transcendent, as overstepping the limits of all experience which can never supply an object adequate to the transcendental idea. If we speak of an idea, we say a great deal with respect to the object (as the object of the pure understanding) but very little with respect to the subject, that is, with respect to its reality under empirical conditions, because an idea, being the concept of a maximum, can never be adequately given in concreto. As the latter is really the whole aim in the merely speculative use of reason, and as [p. 328] the mere approaching a concept, which in reality can never be reached, is the same as if the concept were missed altogether, people, when speaking of such a concept, are wont to say, it is an idea only. Thus one might say, that the absolute whole of all phenomena is an idea only, for as we can never form a representation of such a whole, it remains a problem without a solution. In the practical use of the understanding, on the contrary, where we are only concerned with practice, according to rules, the idea of practical reason can always be realised in concreto, although partially only; nay, it is the indispensable condition of all practical use of reason. The practical realisation of the idea is here always limited and deficient, but these limits cannot be defined, and it always remains under the influence of a concept, implying absolute completeness and perfection. The practical idea is therefore in this case truly fruitful, and, with regard to practical conduct, indispensable and necessary. In it pure reason becomes a cause and active power, capable of realising what is contained in its concept. Hence we cannot say of wisdom, as if contemptuously, that it is an idea only, but for the very reason that it contains the idea of the necessary unity of all possible aims, it must determine all practical acts, as an original and, at least, limitative condition.
Although we must say that all transcendental [p. 329] concepts of reason are ideas only, they are not therefore to be considered as superfluous and useless. For although we cannot by them determine any object, they may nevertheless, even unobserved, supply the understanding with a canon or rule of its extended and consistent use, by which, though no object can be better known than it is according to its concepts, yet the understanding may be better guided onwards in its knowledge, not to mention that they may possibly render practicable a transition from physical to practical concepts, and thus impart to moral ideas a certain strength and connection with the speculative knowledge of reason. On all this more light will be thrown in the sequel.
For our present purposes we are obliged to set aside a consideration of these practical ideas, and to treat of reason in its speculative, or rather, in a still more limited sense, its purely transcendental use. Here we must follow the same road which we took before in the deduction of the categories; that is, we must consider the logical form of all knowledge of reason, and see whether, perhaps, by this logical form, reason may become a source of concepts also, which enable us to regard objects in themselves, as determined synthetically a priori in relation to one or other of the functions of reason.
Reason, if considered as a faculty of a certain [p. 330] logical form of knowledge, is the faculty of concluding, that is, of judging mediately, by bringing the condition of a possible under the condition of a given judgment. The given judgment is the general rule (major). Bringing the condition of another possible judgment under the condition of the rule, which may be called subsumption, is the minor, and the actual judgment, which contains the assertion of the rule in the subsumed case, is the conclusion. We know that the rule asserts something as general under a certain condition. The condition of the rule is then found to exist in a given case. Then that which, under that condition, was asserted as generally valid, has to be considered as valid in that given case also, which complies with that condition. It is easy to see therefore that reason arrives at knowledge by acts of the understanding, which constitute a series of conditions. If I arrive at the proposition that all bodies are changeable, only by starting from a more remote knowledge (which does not yet contain the concept of body, but a condition of such a concept only), namely, that all which is composite is changeable; and then proceed to something less remotely known, and depending on the former, namely, that bodies are composite; and, lastly, only advance to a third proposition, connecting the more remote knowledge (changeable) with the given case, and conclude that bodies therefore are changeable, we see that we have [p. 331] passed through a series of conditions (premisses) before we arrived at knowledge (conclusion). Every series, the exponent of which (whether of a categorical or hypothetical judgment) is given, can be continued, so that this procedure of reason leads to ratiocinatio polysyllogistica, a series of conclusions which, either on the side of the conditions (per prosyllogismos) or of the conditioned (per episyllogismos), may be continued indefinitely.
It is soon perceived, however, that the chain or series of prosyllogisms, that is, of knowledge deduced on the side of reasons or conditions of a given knowledge, in other words, the ascending series of syllogisms, must stand in a very different relation to the faculty of reason from that of the descending series, that is, of the progress of reason on the side of the conditioned, by means of episyllogisms. For, as in the former case the knowledge embodied in the conclusion is given as conditioned only, it is impossible to arrive at it by means of reason in any other way except under the supposition at least that all the members of the series on the side of the conditions are given (totality in the series of premisses), because it is under that supposition only that the contemplated judgment a priori is possible; while on the side of the conditioned, or of the inferences, we can only think [p. 332] of a growing series, not of one presupposed as complete or given, that is, of a potential progression only. Hence, when our knowledge is considered as conditioned, reason is constrained to look upon the series of conditions in the ascending line as complete, and given in their totality. But if the same knowledge is looked upon at the same time as a condition of other kinds of knowledge, which constitute among themselves a series of inferences in a descending line, it is indifferent to reason how far that progression may go a parte posteriori, or whether a totality of the series is possible at all, because such a series is not required for the conclusion in hand, which is sufficiently determined and secured on grounds a parte priori. Whether the series of premisses on the side of the conditions have a something that stands first as the highest condition, or whether it be without limits a parte priori, it must at all events contain a totality of conditions, even though we should never succeed in comprehending it; and the whole series must be unconditionally true, if the conditioned, which is considered as a consequence resulting from it, is to be accepted as true. This is a demand of reason which pronounces its knowledge as determined a priori and as necessary, either in itself, and in that case it requires no reasons, or, if derivative, as a member of a series of reasons, which itself is unconditionally true.
We are not at present concerned with logical Dialectic, which takes no account of the contents of knowledge, and has only to lay bare the illusions in the form of syllogisms, but with transcendental Dialectic, which is supposed to contain entirely a priori the origin of certain kinds of knowledge, arising from pure reason, and of certain deduced concepts, the object of which can never be given empirically, and which therefore lie entirely outside the domain of the pure understanding. We gathered from the natural relation which must exist between the transcendental and the logical use of our knowledge, in syllogisms as well as in judgments, that there must be three kinds of dialectic syllogisms, and no more, corresponding to the three kinds of conclusion by which reason may from principles arrive at knowledge, and that in all of these it is the object of reason to ascend from the conditioned synthesis, to which the understanding is always restricted, to an unconditioned synthesis, which the understanding can never reach.
The relations which all our representations share in common are, 1st, relation to the subject; 2ndly, the relation to objects, either as phenomena, or as objects [p. 334] of thought in general. If we connect this subdivision with the former division, we see that the relation of the representations of which we can form a concept or an idea can only be threefold: 1st, the relation to the subject; 2ndly, the relation to the manifold of the phenomenal object; 3rdly, the relation to all things in general.
All pure concepts in general aim at a synthetical unity of representations, while concepts of pure reason (transcendental ideas) aim at unconditioned synthetical unity of all conditions. All transcendental ideas therefore can be arranged in three classes: the first containing the absolute (unconditioned) unity of the thinking subject; the second the absolute unity of the series of conditions of phenomena; the third the absolute unity of the condition of all objects of thought in general.
The thinking subject is the object-matter of psychology, the system of all phenomena (the world) the object-matter of cosmology, and the being which contains the highest condition of the possibility of all that can be thought (the Being of all beings), the object-matter of theology. Thus it is pure reason which supplies the idea of a transcendental science of the soul (psychologia rationalis), of a transcendental science of the world (cosmologia rationalis), and, lastly, of a transcendental science of God (theologia transcendentalis). Even the mere plan of any [p. 335] one of these three sciences does not come from the understanding, even if connected with the highest logical use of reason, that is, with all possible conclusions, leading from one of its objects (phenomenon) to all others, and on to the most remote parts of any possible empirical synthesis, — but is altogether a pure and genuine product or rather problem of pure reason.
What kinds of pure concepts of reason are comprehended under these three titles of all transcendental ideas will be fully explained in the following chapter. They follow the thread of the categories, for pure reason never refers direct to objects, but to the concepts of objects framed by the understanding. Nor can it be rendered clear, except hereafter in a detailed explanation, how first, reason simply by the synthetical use of the same function which it employs for categorical syllogisms is necessarily led on to the concept of the absolute unity of the thinking subject; secondly, how the logical procedure in hypothetical syllogisms leads to the idea of something absolutely unconditioned, in a series of given conditions, and how, thirdly, the mere form of the disjunctive syllogism produces necessarily the highest concept of reason, that of a Being of all beings; a thought which, at first sight, seems extremely paradoxical. [p. 336]
No objective deduction, like that given of the categories, is possible with regard to these transcendental ideas; they are ideas only, and for that very reason they have no relation to any object corresponding to them in experience. What we could undertake to give was a subjective deduction1 of them from the nature of reason, and this has been given in the present chapter.
We can easily perceive that pure reason has no other aim but the absolute totality of synthesis on the side of conditions (whether of inherence, dependence, or concurrence), and that it has nothing to do with the absolute completeness on the part of the conditioned. It is the former only which is required for presupposing the whole series of conditions, and thus presenting it a priori to the understanding. If once we have a given condition, complete and unconditioned itself, no concept of reason is required to continue the series, because the understanding takes by itself every step downward from the condition to the conditioned. The transcendental ideas therefore serve only for ascending in the series of conditions till they reach the unconditioned, that is, the principles. With regard to descending to the conditioned, there is no doubt a widely extended logical use which our reason [p. 337] may make of the rules of the understanding, but no transcendental one; and if we form an idea of the absolute totality of such a synthesis (by progressus), as, for instance, of the whole series of all future changes in the world, this is only a thought (ens rationis) that may be thought if we like, but is not presupposed as necessary by reason. For the possibility of the conditioned, the totality of its conditions only, but not of its consequences, is presupposed. Such a concept therefore is not one of the transcendental ideas, with which alone we have to deal.
Finally, we can perceive, that there is among the transcendental ideas themselves a certain connection and unity by which pure reason brings all its knowledge into one system. There is in the progression from our knowledge of ourselves (the soul) to a knowledge of the world, and through it to a knowledge of the Supreme Being, something so natural that it looks like the logical progression of reason from premisses to a conclusion.1 Whether there exists here a real though hidden relationship, such as we saw before between the logical and transcendental use of reason, is also one of the questions the answer to which can only be given in the progress of these investigations. For the present we have achieved what we wished to achieve, by removing the transcendental [p. 338] concepts of reason, which in the systems of other philosophers are generally mixed up with other concepts, without being distinguished even from the concepts of the understanding, out of so equivocal a position; by being able to determine their origin and thereby at the same time their number, which can never be exceeded, and by thus bringing them into a systematic connection, marking out and enclosing thereby a separate field for pure reason.
[1 ]It is true, however, that he extended his concept of ideas to speculative knowledge also, if only it was pure, and given entirely a priori. He extended it even to mathematics, although they can have their object nowhere but in possible experience. In this I cannot follow him, nor in the mystical deduction of his ideas, and in the exaggerations which led him, as it were, to hypostasise them, although the high-flown language which he used, when treating of this subject, may well admit of a milder interpretation, and one more in accordance with the nature of things.
[1 ]Instead of Anleitung read Ableitung.
[1 ]See Supplement XXVI.