Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER II: THE ANTINOMY OF PURE REASON - Critique of Pure Reason
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CHAPTER II: THE ANTINOMY OF PURE REASON - 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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THE ANTINOMY OF PURE REASON
In the Introduction to this part of our work we showed that all the transcendental illusion of pure reason depended on three dialectical syllogisms, the outline of which is supplied to us by logic in the three formal kinds of the ordinary syllogism, in about the same way in which the logical outline of the categories was derived from the [p. 406] four functions of all judgments. The first class of these rationalising syllogisms aimed at the unconditioned unity of the subjective conditions of all representations (of the subject or the soul) as corresponding to the categorical syllogisms of reason, the major of which, as the principle, asserts the relation of a predicate to a subject. The second class of the dialectical arguments will, therefore, in analogy with the hypothetical syllogisms, take for its object the unconditioned unity of the objective conditions in phenomenal appearance, while the third class, which has to be treated in the following chapter, will be concerned with the unconditioned unity of the objective conditions of the possibility of objects in general.
It is strange, however, that a transcendental paralogism caused a one-sided illusion only, with regard to our idea of the subject of our thought; and that it is impossible to find in mere concepts of reason the slightest excuse for maintaining the contrary. All the advantage is on the side of pneumatism, although it cannot hide the hereditary taint by which it evaporates into nought, when subjected to the ordeal of our critique.
The case is totally different when we apply reason to the objective synthesis of phenomena; here reason tries at first, with great plausibility, to establish its principle [p. 407] of unconditioned unity, but becomes soon entangled in so many contradictions, that it must give up its pretensions with regard to cosmology also.
For here we are met by a new phenomenon in human reason, namely, a perfectly natural Antithetic, which is not produced by any artificial efforts, but into which reason falls by itself, and inevitably. Reason is no doubt preserved thereby from the slumber of an imaginary conviction, which is often produced by a purely one-sided illusion; but it is tempted at the same time, either to abandon itself to sceptical despair, or to assume a dogmatical obstinacy, taking its stand on certain assertions, without granting a hearing and doing justice to the arguments of the opponent. In both cases, a death-blow is dealt to sound philosophy, although in the former we might speak of the Euthanasia of pure reason.
Before showing the scenes of discord and confusion produced by the conflict of the laws (antinomy) of pure reason, we shall have to make a few remarks in order to explain and justify the method which we mean to follow in the treatment of this subject. I shall call all transcendental ideas, so far as they relate to the absolute totality in the synthesis of phenomena, cosmical concepts, [p. 408] partly, because of even this unconditioned totality on which the concept of the cosmical universe also rests (which is itself an idea only), partly, because they refer to the synthesis of phenomena only, which is empirical, while the absolute totality in the synthesis of the conditions of all possible things must produce an ideal of pure reason, totally different from the cosmical concept, although in a certain sense related to it. As therefore the paralogisms of pure reason formed the foundation for a dialectical psychology, the antinomy of pure reason will place before our eyes the transcendental principles of a pretended pure (rational) cosmology, not in order to show that it is valid and can be accepted, but, as may be guessed from the very name of the antinomy of reason, in order to expose it as an idea surrounded by deceptive and false appearances, and utterly irreconcileable with phenomena.
System of Cosmological Ideas
Before we are able to enumerate these ideas according to a principle and with systematic precision, we must bear in mind,
1st, That pure and transcendental concepts arise from the understanding only, and that reason does not [p. 409] in reality produce any concept, but only frees, it may be, the concept of the understanding of the inevitable limitation of a possible experience, and thus tries to enlarge it, beyond the limits of experience, yet in connection with it. Reason does this by demanding for something that is given as conditioned, absolute totality on the side of the conditions (under which the understanding subjects all phenomena to the synthetical unity). It thus changes the category into a transcendental idea, in order to give absolute completeness to the empirical synthesis, by continuing it up to the unconditioned (which can never be met with in experience, but in the idea only). In doing this, reason follows the principle that, if the conditioned is given, the whole sum of conditions, and therefore the absolutely unconditioned must be given likewise, the former being impossible without the latter. Hence the transcendental ideas are in reality nothing but categories, enlarged till they reach the unconditioned, and those ideas must admit of being arranged in a table, according to the titles of the categories.
2ndly, Not all categories will lend themselves to this, but those only in which the synthesis constitutes a series, and a series of subordinated (not of co-ordinated) conditions. Absolute totality is demanded by reason, [p. 410] with regard to an ascending series of conditions only, not therefore when we have to deal with a descending line of consequences, or with an aggregate of co-ordinated conditions. For, with reference to something given as conditioned, conditions are presupposed and considered as given with it, while, on the other hand, as consequences do not render their conditions possible, but rather presuppose them, we need not, in proceeding to the consequences (or in descending from any given condition to the conditioned), trouble ourselves whether the series comes to an end or not, the question as to their totality being in fact no presupposition of reason whatever.
Thus we necessarily conceive time past up to a given moment, as given, even if not determinable by us. But with regard to time future, which is not a condition of arriving at time present, it is entirely indifferent, if we want to conceive the latter, what we may think about the former, whether we take it, as coming to an end somewhere, or as going on to infinity. Let us take the series, m, n, o, where n is given as conditioned by m, and at the same time as a condition of o. Let that series ascend from the conditioned n to its condition m (l, k, i, etc.), and descend from the condition n to the conditioned o (p, q, r, etc.). I must then presuppose the former series, in order to take n as given, and according to reason (the totality of conditions) n is possible only by means of that series, while its possibility depends in no way on the [p. 411] subsequent series, o, p, q, r, which therefore cannot be considered as given, but only as dabilis, capable of being given.
I shall call the synthesis of a series on the side of the conditions, beginning with the one nearest to a given phenomenon, and advancing to the more remote conditions, regressive; the other, which on the side of the conditioned advances from the nearest effect to the more remote ones, progressive. The former proceeds in antecedentia, the second in consequentia. Cosmological ideas therefore, being occupied with the totality of regressive synthesis, proceed in antecedentia, not in consequentia. If the latter should take place, it would be a gratuitous, not a necessary problem of pure reason, because for a complete comprehension of what is given us in experience we want to know the causes, but not the effects.
In order to arrange a table of ideas in accordance with the table of the categories, we must take, first, the two original quanta of all our intuition, time and space. Time is in itself a series (and the formal condition of all series), and in it, therefore, with reference to any given present, we have to distinguish a priori the antecedentia as conditions (the past) from the consequentia (the future). Hence the transcendental idea of the absolute totality of [p. 412] the series of conditions of anything conditioned refers to time past only. The whole of time past is looked upon, according to the idea of reason, as a necessary condition of the given moment. With regard to space there is in it no difference between progressus and regressus, because all its parts exist together and form an aggregate, but no series. We can look upon the present moment, with reference to time past, as conditioned only, but never as condition, because this moment arises only through time past (or rather through the passing of antecedent time). But as the parts of space are not subordinate to one another, but co-ordinate, no part of it is in the condition of the possibility of another, nor does it, like time, constitute a series in itself. Nevertheless the synthesis by which we apprehend the many parts of space is successive, takes place in time, and contains a series. And as in that series of aggregated spaces (as, for instance, of feet in a rood) the spaces added to a given space are always the condition of the limit of the preceding spaces, we ought to consider the measuring of a space also as a synthesis of a series of conditions of something given as conditioned, with this difference only, that the side of the [p. 413] conditions is by itself not different from the other side which comprehends the conditioned, so that regressus and progressus seem to be the same in space. As however every part of space is limited only, and not given by another, we must look upon every limited space as conditioned also, so far as it presupposes another space as the condition of its limit, and so on. With reference to limitation therefore progressus in space is also regressus, and the transcendental idea of the absolute totality of the synthesis in the series of conditions applies to space also. I may ask then for the absolute totality of phenomena in space, quite as well as in time past, though we must wait to see whether an answer is ever possible.
Secondly, reality in space, that is, matter, is something conditioned, the parts of which are its internal conditions, and the parts of its parts, its remoter conditions. We have therefore here a regressive synthesis the absolute totality of which is demanded by reason, but which cannot take place except by a complete division, whereby the reality of matter dwindles away into nothing, or into that at least which is no longer matter, namely, the simple; consequently we have here also a series of conditions, and a progress to the unconditioned.
Thirdly, when we come to the categories of the real relation between phenomena, we find that the [p. 414] category of substance with its accidents does not lend itself to a transcendental idea; that is, reason has here no inducement to proceed regressively to conditions. We know that accidents, so far as they inhere in one and the same substance, are co-ordinated with each other, and do not constitute a series; and with reference to the substance, they are not properly subordinate to it, but are the mode of existence of the substance itself. The concept of the substantial might seem to be here an idea of trancendental reason. This, however, signifies nothing but the concept of the object in general, which subsists, so far as we think in it the transcendental subject only, without any predicates; and, as we are here speaking only of the unconditioned in the series of phenomena, it is clear that the substantial cannot be a part of it. The same applies to substances in community, which are aggregates only, without having an exponent of a series, since they are not subordinate to each other, as conditions of their possibility, in the same way as spaces were, the limits of which can never be determined by itself, but always through another space. There remains therefore only the category of causality, which offers a series of causes to a given effect, enabling us to ascend from the latter, as the conditioned, to the former as the conditions, and thus to answer the question of reason. [p. 415]
Fourthly, the concepts of the possible, the real, and the necessary do not lead to any series, except so far as the accidental in existence must always be considered as conditioned, and point, according to a rule of the understanding, to a condition which makes it necessary to ascend to a higher condition, till reason finds at last, only, in the totality of that series, the unconditioned necessity which it requires.
If therefore we select those categories which necessarily imply a series in the synthesis of the manifold, we shall have no more than four cosmological ideas, accord-to the four titles of the categories.
It should be remarked, first, that the idea of absolute totality refers to nothing else but the exhibition of phenomena, and not therefore to the pure concept, formed by the understanding, of a totality of things in general. Phenomena, therefore, are considered here as given, and reason postulates the absolute completeness of the conditions of their possibility, so far as these conditions constitute a series, that is, an absolutely (in every respect) complete synthesis, whereby phenomena could be exhibited according to the laws of the understanding.
Secondly, it is in reality the unconditioned alone which reason is looking for in the synthesis of conditions, continued regressively and serially, as it were a completeness in the series of premisses, which taken together require no further premisses. This unconditioned is always contained in the absolute totality of a series, as represented in imagination. But this absolutely complete synthesis is again an idea only, for it is impossible to know beforehand, whether such a synthesis be possible in phenomena. If we represent everything by means of pure concepts of the understanding only, and without the conditions of sensuous intuition, we might really say that of everything given as conditioned the whole series also of conditions, subordinated to each other, is given, for the conditioned is given through the conditions only. When we come to phenomena, however, we find a particular limitation of the mode in which conditions are given, namely, [p. 417] through the successive synthesis of the manifold of intuition which should become complete by the regressus. Whether this completeness, however, is possible, with regard to sensuous phenomena, is still a question. But the idea of that completeness is no doubt contained in reason, without reference to the possibility or impossibility of connecting with it adequate empirical concepts. As therefore in the absolute totality of the regressive synthesis of the manifold in intuition (according to the categories which represent that totality as a series of conditions of something given as conditioned) the unconditioned is necessarily contained without attempting to determine whether and how such a totality be possible, reason here takes the road to start from the idea of totality, though her final aim is the unconditioned, whether of the whole series or of a part thereof.
This unconditioned may be either conceived as existing in the whole series only, in which all members without exception are conditioned and the whole of them only absolutely unconditioned — and in this case the regressus is called infinite — or the absolutely unconditioned is only a part of the series, the other members being subordinate to it, while it is itself conditioned by nothing else.1 In the former case the series is without limits a parte [p. 418] priori (without a beginning), that is infinite; given however as a whole in which the regressus is never complete, and can therefore be called infinite potentially only. In the latter case there is something that stands first in the series, which, with reference to time past, is called the beginning of the world; with reference to space, the limit of the world; with reference to the parts of a limited given whole, the simple; with reference to causes, absolute spontaneity (liberty); with reference to the existence of changeable things, the absolute necessity of nature.
We have two expressions, world and nature, which frequently run into each other. The first denotes the mathematical total of all phenomena and the totality of their synthesis of large and small in its progress whether by composition or division. That world, however, is called nature1 if we look upon it as a dynamical [p. 419] whole, and consider not the aggregation in space and time, in order to produce a quantity, but the unity in the existence of phenomena. In this case the condition of that which happens is called cause, the unconditioned causality of the cause as phenomenal, liberty, while the conditioned causality, in its narrower meaning, is called natural cause. That of which the existence is conditioned is called contingent, that of which it is unconditioned, necessary. The unconditioned necessity of phenomena may be called natural necessity.
I have called the ideas, which we are at present discussing, cosmological, partly because we understand by world the totality of all phenomena, our ideas being directed to that only which is unconditioned among the phenomena; partly, because world, in its transcendental meaning, denotes the totality of all existing things, and we are concerned only with the completeness of the synthesis (although properly only in the regressus to the [p. 420] conditions). Considering, therefore, that all these ideas are transcendent because, though not transcending in kind their object, namely, phenomena, but restricted to the world of sense (and excluded from all noumena) they nevertheless carry synthesis to a degree which transcends all possible experience, they may, according to my opinion, very properly be called cosmical concepts. With reference to the distinction, however, between the mathematically or the dynamically unconditioned at which the regressus aims, I might call the two former, in a narrower sense, cosmical concepts (macrocosmically or microcosmically) and the remaining two transcendent concepts of nature. This distinction, though for the present of no great consequence, may become important hereafter.
Antithetic of Pure Reason
If every collection of dogmatical doctrines is called Thetic, I may denote by Antithetic, not indeed dogmatical assertions of the opposite, but the conflict between different kinds of apparently dogmatical knowledge (thesis cum antithesi), to none of which we can ascribe [p. 421] a superior claim to our assent. This antithetic, therefore, has nothing to do with one-sided assertions, but considers general knowledge of reason with reference to the conflict only that goes on in it, and its causes. The transcendental antithetic is in fact an investigation of the antinomy of pure reason, its causes and its results. If we apply our reason, not only to objects of experience, in order to make use of the principles of the understanding, but venture to extend it beyond the limit of experience, there arise rationalising or sophistical propositions, which can neither hope for confirmation nor need fear refutation from experience. Every one of them is not only in itself free from contradiction, but can point to conditions of its necessity in the nature of reason itself, only that, unfortunately, its opposite can produce equally valid and necessary grounds for its support.
The questions which naturally arise in such a Dialectic of pure reason are the following. 1. In what propositions is pure reason inevitably subject to an antinomy? 2. On what causes does this antinomy depend? 3. Whether, and in what way, reason may, in spite of this contradiction, find a way to certainty?
A dialectical proposition of pure reason must have this characteristic to distinguish it from all purely sophistical propositions, first, that it does not refer to a [p. 422] gratuitous question, but to one which human reason in its natural progress must necessarily encounter, and, secondly, that it, as well as its opposite, carries with itself not a merely artificial illusion, which when once seen through disappears, but a natural and inevitable illusion, which, even when it deceives us no longer, always remains, and though rendered harmless, cannot be annihilated.
This dialectical doctrine will not refer to the unity of the understanding in concepts of experience, but to the unity of reason in mere ideas, the condition of which, as it is meant to agree, as a synthesis according to rules, with the understanding, and yet at the same time, as the absolute unity of that synthesis, with reason, must either, if it is adequate to the unity of reason, be too great for the understanding, or, if adequate to the understanding, too small for reason. Hence a conflict must arise, which cannot be avoided, do what we will.
These apparently rational, but really sophistical assertions open a dialectical battle-field, where that side always obtains the victory which is allowed to make the attack, and where those must certainly succumb who [p. 423] are obliged to keep on the defensive. Hence doughty knights, whether fighting for the good or the bad cause, are sure to win their laurels, if only they take care that they have the right to make the last attack, and are not obliged to stand a new onslaught of the enemy. We can easily imagine that this arena has often been entered, and many victories have been won on both sides, the last decisive victory being always guarded by the defender of the good cause maintaining his place, his opponent being forbidden ever to carry arms again. As impartial judges we must take no account of whether it be the good or the bad cause which the two champions defend. It is best to let them fight it out between themselves in the hope that, after they have rather tired out than injured each other, they may themselves perceive the uselessness of their quarrel, and part as good friends.
This method of watching or even provoking such a conflict of assertions, not in order to decide in favour of one or the other side, but in order to find out whether the object of the struggle be not a mere illusion, which everybody tries to grasp in vain, and which never can be of any use to any one, even if no resistance were [p. 424] made to him, this method, I say, may be called the sceptical method. It is totally different from scepticism, or that artificial and scientific agnosticism which undermines the foundations of all knowledge, in order if possible to leave nothing trustworthy and certain anywhere. The sceptical method, on the contrary, aims at certainty, because, while watching a contest which on both sides is carried on honestly and intelligently, it tries to discover the point where the misunderstanding arises, in order to do what is done by wise legislators, namely, to derive from the embarrassments of judges in law-suits information as to what is imperfectly, or not quite accurately, determined in their laws. The antinomy which shows itself in the application of laws, is, considering our limited wisdom, the best criterion of the original legislation (nomothetic), and helps to attract the attention of reason, which in abstract speculations does not easily become aware of its errors, to the important points in the determination of its principles.
This sceptical method is essential in transcendental philosophy only, while it may be dispensed with in other fields of investigation. It would be absurd in mathematics, for no false assertions can there be hidden or rendered invisible, because the demonstrations [p. 425] must always be guided by pure intuition, and proceed by evident synthesis. In experimental philosophy a doubt, which causes delay, may be useful, but at least no misunderstanding is possible that could not be easily removed, and the final means for deciding a question, whether found sooner or later, must always be supplied by experience. Moral philosophy too can always produce its principles and their practical consequences in the concrete also, or at least in possible experience, and thus avoid the misunderstandings inherent in abstraction. Transcendental assertions, on the contrary, pretending to knowledge far beyond the field of possible experience, can never produce their abstract synthesis in any intuition a priori, nor can their flaws be discovered by means of any experience. Transcendental reason, therefore, admits of no other criterion but an attempt to combine its conflicting assertions, and therefore, previous to this, unrestrained conflict between them. This is what we shall now attempt to do.1
FIRST CONFLICT OF THE TRANSCENDENTAL IDEAS [p. 426]
The world has a beginning in time, and is limited also with regard to space.
For if we assumed that the world had no beginning in time, then an eternity must have elapsed up to every given point of time, and therefore an infinite series of successive states of things must have passed in the world. The infinity of a series, however, consists in this, that it never can be completed by means of a successive synthesis. Hence an infinite past series of worlds is impossible, and the beginning of the world a necessary condition of its existence. This was what had to be proved first.
With regard to the second, let us assume again the opposite. In that case the world would be given as an infinite whole of co-existing things. Now we cannot conceive in any way the extension of a quantum, which is not given within certain limits to every intuition,1 except through the synthesis of its parts, nor [p. 428] the totality of such a quantum in any way, except through a completed synthesis, or by the repeated addition of unity to itself.1 In order therefore to conceive the world, which fills all space, as a whole, the successive synthesis of the parts of an infinite world would have to be looked upon as completed; that is, an infinite time would have to be looked upon as elapsed, during the enumeration of all co-existing things. This is impossible. Hence an infinite aggregate of real things cannot be regarded as a given whole, nor, therefore, as given at the same time. Hence it follows that the world is not infinite, as regards extension in space, but enclosed in limits. This was the second that had to be proved.
Antithesis [p. 427]
The world has no beginning and no limits in space, but is infinite, in respect both to time and space.
For let us assume that it has a beginning. Then, as beginning is an existence which is preceded by a time in which the thing is not, it would follow that antecedently there was a time in which the world was not, that is, an empty time. In an empty time, however, it is impossible that anything should take its beginning, because of such a time no part possesses any condition as to existence rather than non-existence, which condition could distinguish that part from any other (whether produced by itself or through another cause). Hence, though many a series of things may take its beginning in the world, the world itself can have no beginning, and in reference to time past is infinite.
With regard to the second, let us assume again the opposite, namely, that the world is finite and limited in space. In that case the world would exist in an empty space without limits. We should therefore have not only a relation of things in space, but also of things to space. As however the world is an absolute whole, outside of [p. 429] which no object of intuition, and therefore no correlate of the world can be found, the relation of the world to empty space would be a relation to no object. Such a relation, and with it the limitation of the world by empty space, is nothing, and therefore the world is not limited with regard to space, that is, it is infinite in extension.1
OBSERVATIONS ON THE FIRST ANTINOMY [p. 430]
On the Thesis
In exhibiting these conflicting arguments I have not tried to avail myself of mere sophisms for the sake of what is called special pleading, which takes advantage of the want of caution of the opponent, and gladly allows his appeal to a misunderstood law, in order to establish his own illegitimate claims on its refutation. Every one of our proofs has been deduced from the nature of the case, and no advantage has been taken of the wrong conclusions of dogmatists on either side.
I might have apparently proved my thesis too by putting forward, as is the habit of dogmatists, a wrong definition of the infinity of a given quantity. I might have said that the quantity is infinite, if no greater quantity (that is, greater than the number of given units contained in it) is possible. As no number is the greatest, because one or more units can always be added to it, I might have argued that an infinite given quantity, and therefore also an infinite world (infinite as regards both the past series of time and extension in space) is impossible, and therefore the world limited in space and time. I might have done this, but, in that case, my definition would not have agreed with the true concept of an infinite whole. We do not represent by it how large it is, and the concept of it is not therefore the concept of a maximum, but we conceive by it its relation only [p. 432] to any possible unit, in regard to which it is greater than any number. According as this unit is either greater or smaller, the infinite would be greater or smaller, while infinity, consisting in the relation only to this given unit, would always remain the same, although the absolute quantity of the whole would not be known by it. This, however, does not concern us at present.
The true transcendental concept of infinity is, that the successive synthesis of units in measuring a quantum, can never be completed.1 Hence it follows with perfect certainty, that an eternity of real and successive states cannot have elapsed up to any given (the present) moment, and that the world therefore must have a beginning.
With regard to the second part of the thesis, the difficulty of an endless and yet past series does not exist; for the manifold of a world, infinite in extension, is given at one and the same time. But, in order to conceive the totality of such a multitude of things, as we cannot appeal to those limits which in intuition produce that totality by themselves, we must render an account of our concept, which in our case cannot proceed from the whole to the determined multitude of the parts, but has to demonstrate the possibility of a whole by the successive synthesis of the parts. As such a synthesis would constitute a series that would never be completed, it is impossible to conceive a totality either before it, or through it. For the concept of totality itself is in this case the representation of a completed synthesis of parts, and such a completion, and therefore its concept also, is impossible.
On the Antithesis [p. 431]
The proof of the infinity of the given series of world, and of the totality of the world, rests on this, that in the opposite case an empty time, and likewise an empty space, would form the limits of the world. Now I am quite aware that people have tried to escape from this conclusion by saying that a limit of the world, both in time and space, is quite possible, without our having to admit an absolute time before the beginning of the world or an absolute space outside the real world, which is impossible. I have nothing to say against the latter part of this opinion, held by the philosophers of the school of Leibniz. Space is only the form of external intuition, and not a real object that could be perceived externally, nor is it a correlate of phenomena, but the form of phenomena themselves. Space, therefore, cannot exist absolutely (by itself) as something determining the existence of things, because it is no object, but only the form of possible objects. Things, therefore, as phenomenal, may indeed determine space, that is, impart reality to one or other of its predicates (quantity and relation); but space, on the other side, as something existing by itself, cannot determine the reality of things in regard to quantity or form, because it is nothing real in itself. Space therefore (whether full or empty1 ) may be limited by phenomena, but phenomena cannot be limited by empty space outside them. The same [p. 433] applies to time. But, granting all this, it cannot be denied that we should be driven to admit these two monsters, empty space outside, and empty time before the world, if we assumed the limit of the world, whether in space or time.
For as to the plea by which people try to escape from the conclusion, that if the world has limits in time or space, the infinite void would determine the existence of real things, so far as their dimensions are concerned, it is really no more than a covered attempt at putting some unknown intelligible world in the place of our sensuous world, and an existence in general, which presupposes no other condition in the world, in the place of a first beginning (an existence preceded by a time of non-existence), and boundaries of the universe in place of the limits of extension, — thus getting rid of time and space. But we have to deal here with the mundus phaenomenon and its quantity, and we could not ignore the conditions of sensibility, without destroying its very essence. The world of sense, if it is limited, lies necessarily within the infinite void. If we ignore this, and with it, space in general, as an a priori condition of the possibility of phenomena, the whole world of sense vanishes, which alone forms the object of our enquiry. The mundus intelligibilis is nothing but the general concept of any world, which takes no account of any of the conditions of intuition, and which therefore admits of no synthetical proposition, whether affirmative or negative.
SECOND CONFLICT OF THE TRANSCENDENTAL IDEAS [p. 434]
Every compound substance in the world consists of simple parts, and nothing exists anywhere but the simple, or what is composed of it.
For let us assume that compound substances did not consist of simple parts, then, if all composition is removed in thought, there would be no compound part, and (as no simple parts are admitted) no simple part either, that is, there would remain nothing, and there would therefore be no substance at all. Either, therefore, it is impossible to remove all composition in thought, or, after its removal, there must remain something that exists without composition, that is the simple. In the former case the compound could not itself consist of substances (because with them composition is only an accidental relation of substances, which substances, as permanent beings, must subsist without it). As this contradicts the [p. 436] supposition, there remains only the second view, namely, that the substantial compounds in the world consist of simple parts.
It follows as an immediate consequence that all the things in the world are simple beings, that their composition is only an external condition, and that, though we are unable to remove these elementary substances from their state of composition and isolate them, reason must conceive them as the first subjects of all composition, and therefore, antecedently to it, as simple beings.
Antithesis [p. 435]
No compound thing in the world consists of simple parts, and there exists nowhere in the world anything simple.
Assume that a compound thing, a substance, consists of simple parts. Then as all external relation, and therefore all composition of substances also, is possible in space only, it follows that space must consist of as many parts as the parts of the compound that occupies the space. Space, however, does not consist of simple parts, but of spaces. Every part of a compound, therefore, must occupy a space. Now the absolutely primary parts of every compound are simple. It follows therefore that the simple occupies a space. But as everything real, which occupies a space, contains a manifold, the parts of which are by the side of each other, and which therefore is compounded, and, as a real compound, compounded not of accidents (for these could not exist by the side of each other, without a substance), but of substances, it would follow that the simple is a substantial compound, which is self-contradictory.
The second proposition of the antithesis, that there exists nowhere in the world anything simple, is not intended to mean more than that the existence [p. 437] of the absolutely simple cannot be proved from any experience or perception, whether external or internal, and that the absolutely simple is a mere idea, the objective reality of which can never be shown in any possible experience, so that in the explanation of phenomena it is without any application or object. For, if we assumed that an object of this transcendental idea might be found in experience, the empirical intuition of some one object would have to be such as to contain absolutely nothing manifold by the side of each other, and combined to a unity. But as, from our not being conscious of such a manifold, we cannot form any valid conclusion as to the entire impossibility of it in any objective intuition, and as without this no absolute simplicity can be established, it follows that such simplicity cannot be inferred from any perception whatsoever. As, therefore, an absolutely simple object can never be given in any possible experience, while the world of sense must be looked upon as the sum total of all possible experience, it follows that nothing simple exists in it.
This second part of the antithesis goes far beyond the first, which only banished the simple from the intuition of the composite, while the second drives it out of the whole of nature. Hence we could not attempt to prove it out of the concept of any given object of external intuition (of the compound), but from its relation to a possible experience in general.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE SECOND ANTINOMY [p. 438]
On the Thesis
If I speak of a whole as necessarily consisting of separate parts, I understand by it a substantial whole only, as a real compound, that is, that contingent unity of the manifold, which, given as separate (at least in thought), is brought into a mutual connection, and thus constitutes one whole. We ought not to call space a compositum, but a totum, because in it its parts are possible only in the whole, and not the whole by its parts. It might therefore be called a compositum ideale, but not reale. But this is an unnecessary distinction. As space is no compound of substances, not even of real accidents, nothing remains of it, if I remove all composition in it, not even the point, for a point is possible only as the limit of a space, and therefore of a compound. Space and time do not [p. 440] therefore consist of simple parts. What belongs only to the condition of a substance, even though it possesses quantity (as, for instance, change), does not consist of the simple; that is to say, a certain degree of change does not arise through the accumulation of many simple changes. We can infer the simple from the compound in self-subsisting objects only. Accidents of a state, however, are not self-subsisting. The proof of the necessity of the simple, as the component parts of all that is substantially composite, can therefore easily be injured, if it is extended too far, and applied to all compounds without distinction, as has often been the case.
I am, however, speaking here of the simple only so far as it is necessarily given in the composite, which can be dissolved into the former, as its component parts. The true meaning of the word Monas (as used by [p. 442] Leibniz) should refer to that simple only, which is given immediately as simple substance (for example in self-consciousness), and not as an element of the composite, in which case it is better called an Atomus.1 As I wish to prove the existence of simple substances, as the elements of the composite only, I might call the thesis2 of the second antinomy transcendental Atomistic. But as this word has long been used as the name of a particular explanation of material phenomena (moleculae) and presupposes, therefore, empirical concepts, it will be better to call it the dialectic principle of monadology.
On the Antithesis [p. 439]
Against the theory of the infinite divisibility of matter, the proof of which is mathematical only, objections have been raised by the Monadists, which become suspicious by their declining to admit the clearest mathematical proofs as founded on a true insight into the quality of space, so far as space is indeed the formal condition of the possibility of all matter, but treating them only as conclusions derived from abstract but arbitrary concepts, which ought not to be applied to real things. But how is it possible to conceive a different kind of intuition from that given in the original intuition of space, and how can its determinations a priori not apply to everything, since it becomes possible only by its filling that space? If we were to listen to them, we should have to admit, beside the mathematical point, which is simple, but no part, but only the limit of a space, other physical points, simple likewise, but possessing this privilege that, as parts of space, they are able, by mere aggregation, to fill space. Without repeating here the many clear refutations of this absurdity, it being quite futile to attempt to reason away by purely discursive concepts the evidence of mathematics, I only remark, that if philosophy in this case seems to play tricks with mathematics, it does so because it [p. 441] forgets that in this discussion we are concerned with phenomena only, and their conditions. Here, however, it is not enough to find for the pure concept, produced by the understanding, of the composite the concept of the simple, but we must find for the intuition of the composite (matter) the intuition of the simple; and this, according to the laws of sensibility, and therefore with reference to the objects of the senses, is totally impossible. Though it may be true, therefore, with regard to a whole, consisting of substances, which is conceived by the pure understanding only, that before its composition there must be the simple, this does not apply to the totum substantiale phaenomenon which, as an empirical intuition in space, carries with it the necessary condition that no part of it is simple, because no part of space is simple. The monadists, however, have been clever enough to try to escape from this difficulty, by not admitting space as a condition of the possibility of the objects of external intuition (bodies), but by presupposing these and the dynamical relation of substances in general as the condition of the possibility of space. But we have no concept of bodies, except as phenomena, and, as such, they presuppose space as the necessary condition of the possibility of all external phenomena. The argument of the monadists, therefore, is futile, and has been sufficiently answered in the transcendental Æsthetic. If the bodies were things by themselves, then, and then only, the argument of the monadists would be valid.
The second dialectical assertion possesses this [p. 443] peculiarity, that it is opposed by dogmatical assertion which, among all sophistical assertions, is the only one which undertakes to prove palpably in an object of experience the reality of that which we counted before as belonging only to transcendental ideas, namely, the absolute simplicity of a substance, — I mean the assertion that the object of the internal sense, or the thinking I, is an absolutely simple substance. Without entering upon this question (as it has been fully discussed before), I only remark, that if something is conceived as an object only, without adding any synthetical determination of its intuition (and this is the case in the bare representation of the I), it would no doubt be impossible that anything manifold or composite could be perceived in such a representation. Besides, as the predicates through which I conceive this object are only intuitions of the internal sense, nothing can occur in them to prove a manifold (one by the side of another), and therefore a real composition. It follows, therefore, from the nature of self-consciousness that, as the thinking subject is at the same time its own object, it cannot divide itself (though it might divide its inherent determinations); for in regard to itself every object is absolute unity. Nevertheless, when this subject is looked upon externally, as an object of intuition, it would most likely exhibit some kind of composition as a phenomenon, and it must always be looked upon in this light, if we wish to know whether its manifold constituent elements are by the side of each other or not.
THIRD CONFLICT OF THE TRANSCENDENTAL IDEAS [p. 444]
Causality, according to the laws of nature, is not the only causality from which all the phenomena of the world can be deduced. In order to account for these phenomena it is necessary also to admit another causality, that of freedom.
Let us assume that there is no other causality but that according to the laws of nature. In that case everything that takes place, presupposes an anterior state, on which it follows inevitably according to a rule. But that anterior state must itself be something which has taken place (which has come to be in time, and did not exist before), because, if it had always existed, its effect too would not have only just arisen, but have existed always. The causality, therefore, of a cause, through which something takes place, is itself an event, which again, according to the law of nature, presupposes an anterior state and its causality, and this again an anterior state, and so on. If, therefore, everything takes place according to mere laws of nature, there will always be a secondary [p. 446] only, but never a primary beginning, and therefore no completeness of the series, on the side of successive causes. But the law of nature consists in this, that nothing takes place without a cause sufficiently determined a priori. Therefore the proposition, that all causality is possible according to the laws of nature only, contradicts itself, if taken in unlimited generality, and it is impossible, therefore, to admit that causality as the only one.
We must therefore admit another causality, through which something takes place, without its cause being further determined according to necessary laws by a preceding cause, that is, an absolute spontaneity of causes, by which a series of phenomena, proceeding according to natural laws, begins by itself; we must consequently admit transcendental freedom, without which, even in the course of nature, the series of phenomena on the side of causes, can never be perfect.
Antithesis [p. 445]
There is no freedom, but everything in the world takes place entirely according to the laws of nature.
If we admit that there is freedom, in the transcendental sense, as a particular kind of causality, according to which the events in the world could take place, that is a faculty of absolutely originating a state, and with it a series of consequences, it would follow that not only a series would have its absolute beginning through this spontaneity, but the determination of that spontaneity itself to produce the series, that is, the causality, would have an absolute beginning, nothing preceding it by which this act is determined according to permanent laws. Every beginning of an act, however, presupposes a state in which the cause is not yet active, and a dynamically primary beginning of an act presupposes a state which has no causal connection with the preceding state of that cause, that is, in no wise follows from it. Transcendental freedom is therefore opposed to the law of causality, and represents such a [p. 447] connection of successive states of effective causes, that no unity of experience is possible with it. It is therefore an empty fiction of the mind, and not to be met with in any experience.
We have, therefore, nothing but nature, in which we must try to find the connection and order of cosmical events. Freedom (independence) from the laws of nature is no doubt a deliverance from restraint, but also from the guidance of all rules. For we cannot say that, instead of the laws of nature, laws of freedom may enter into the causality of the course of the world, because, if determined by laws, it would not be freedom, but nothing else but nature. Nature, therefore, and transcendental freedom differ from each other like legality and lawlessness. The former, no doubt, imposes upon the understanding the difficult task of looking higher and higher for the origin of events in the series of causes, because their causality is always conditioned. In return for this, however, it promises a complete and well-ordered unity of experience; while, on the other side, the fiction of freedom promises, no doubt, to the enquiring mind, rest in the chain of causes, leading him up to an unconditioned causality, which begins to act by itself, but which, as it is blind itself, tears the thread of rules by which alone a complete and coherent experience is possible.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE THIRD ANTINOMY [p. 448]
On the Thesis
The transcendental idea of freedom is far from forming the whole content of the psychological concept of that name, which is chiefly empirical, but only that of the absolute spontaneity of action, as the real ground of imputability; it is, however, the real stone of offence in the eyes of philosophy, which finds its unsurmountable difficulties in admitting this kind of unconditioned causality. That element in the question of the freedom of the will, which has always so much embarrassed speculative reason, is therefore in reality transcendental only, and refers merely to the question whether we must admit a faculty of spontaneously originating a series of successive things or states. How such a faculty is possible need not be answered, because, with regard to the causality, according to the laws of nature also, we must be satisfied to know a priori that such a causality has to be admitted, though we can in no wise understand the possibility how, through one existence, the existence of another is given, but must for that purpose appeal to experience alone. The necessity of a first beginning of a series of phenomena from freedom has been proved so far only as it is necessary in order to comprehend an origin of the world, while all successive states may be regarded as a result in succession according to mere laws of nature. But as thus [p. 450] the faculty of originating a series in time by itself has been proved, though by no means understood, it is now permitted also to admit, within the course of the world, different series, beginning by themselves, with regard to their causality, and to attribute to their substances a faculty of acting with freedom. But we must not allow ourselves to be troubled by a misapprehension, namely that, as every successive series in the world can have only a relatively primary beginning, some other state of things always preceding in the world, therefore no absolutely primary beginning of different series is possible in the course of the world. For we are speaking here of the absolutely first beginning, not according to time, but according to causality. If, for instance, at this moment I rise from my chair with perfect freedom, without the necessary determining influence of natural causes, a new series has its absolute beginning in this event, with all its natural consequences ad infinitum, although, with regard to time, this event is only the continuation of a preceding series. For this determination and this act do not belong to the succession of merely natural effects, nor are they a mere continuation of them, but the determining natural causes completely stop before it, so far as this event is concerned, which no doubt follows them, and does not result from them, and may therefore be called an absolutely first beginning in a series of phenomena, not with reference to time, but with reference to causality.
This requirement of reason to appeal in the series of natural causes to a first and free beginning is fully confirmed if we see that, with the exception of the Epicurean school, all philosophers of antiquity have felt themselves obliged to admit, for the sake of explaining all cosmical movements, a prime mover, that is, a freely acting cause which, first and by itself, started this series of states. They did not attempt to make a first beginning comprehensible by an appeal to nature only.
On the Antithesis [p. 449]
He who stands up for the omnipotence of nature (transcendental physiocracy), in opposition to the doctrine of freedom, would defend his position against the sophistical conclusions of that doctrine in the following manner. If you do not admit something mathematically the first in the world with reference to time, there is no necessity why you should look for something dynamically the first with reference to causality. Who has told you to invent an absolutely first state of the world, and with it an absolute beginning of the gradually progressing series of phenomena, and to set limits to unlimited nature in order to give to your imagination something to rest on? As substances have always existed in the world, or as the unity of experience renders at least such a supposition necessary, there is no difficulty in assuming that a change of their states, that is, a series of their changes, has always existed also, so that there is no necessity for looking for a first beginning either mathematically or dynamically. It is true we cannot render the possibility of such an infinite descent comprehensible without the first member to which everything else is subsequent. But, if for this reason you reject this riddle of nature, you will feel yourselves constrained to reject many synthetical fundamental properties (natural forces), which you cannot comprehend any more, nay, the very possibility of change in general would be [p. 451] full of difficulties. For if you did not know from experience that change exists, you would never be able to conceive a priori how such a constant succession of being and not being is possible.
And, even if the transcendental faculty of freedom might somehow be conceded to start the changes of the world, such faculty would at all events have to be outside the world (though it would always remain a bold assumption to admit, outside the sum total of all possible intuitions, an object that cannot be given in any possible experience). But to attribute in the world itself a faculty to substances can never be allowed, because in that case the connection of phenomena determining each other by necessity and according to general laws, which we call nature, and with it the test of empirical truth, which distinguishes experience from dreams, would almost entirely disappear. For by the side of such a lawless faculty of freedom, nature could hardly be conceived any longer, because the laws of the latter would be constantly changed through the influence of the former, and the play of phenomena which, according to nature, is regular and uniform, would become confused and incoherent.
FOURTH CONFLICT OF THE TRANSCENDENTAL IDEAS [p. 452]
There exists an absolutely necessary Being belonging to the world, either as a part or as a cause of it.
The world of sense, as the sum total of all phenomena, contains a series of changes without which even the representation of a series of time, which forms the condition of the possibility of the world of sense, would not be given us.1 But every change has its condition which precedes it in time, and renders it necessary. Now, everything that is given as conditional presupposes, with regard to its existence, a complete series of conditions, leading up to that which is entirely unconditioned, and alone absolutely necessary. Something absolutely necessary therefore must exist, if there exists a change as its consequence. And this absolutely necessary belongs itself to the world of sense. For if we supposed that it existed outside that world, then the series of changes in the world would derive its origin from it, while the necessary cause itself would not belong [p. 454] to the world of sense. But this is impossible. For as the beginning of a temporal series can be determined only by that which precedes it in time, it follows that the highest condition of the beginning of a series of changes must exist in the time when that series was not yet (because the beginning is an existence, preceded by a time in which the thing which begins was not yet). Hence the causality of the necessary cause of changes and that cause itself belong to time and therefore to phenomena (in which alone time, as their form, is possible), and it cannot therefore be conceived as separated from the world of sense, as the sum total of all phenomena. It follows, therefore, that something absolutely necessary is contained in the world, whether it be the whole cosmical series itself, or only a part of it.
There nowhere exists an absolutely necessary Being, either within or without the world, as the cause of it.
If we supposed that the world itself is a necessary being, or that a necessary being exists in it, there would then be in the series of changes either a beginning, unconditionally necessary, and therefore without a cause, which contradicts the dynamical law of the determination of all phenomena in time; or the series itself would be without any beginning, and though contingent and conditioned in all its parts, yet entirely necessary and unconditioned as a whole. This would be self-contradictory, because the existence of a multitude cannot be necessary, if no single part of it possesses necessary existence.
If we supposed, on the contrary, that there exists an absolutely necessary cause of the world, outside the world, then that cause, as the highest member [p. 455] in the series of causes of cosmical changes, would begin the existence of the latter and their series.1 In that case, however, that cause would have to begin to act, and its causality would belong to time, and therefore to the sum total of phenomena. It would belong to the world, and would therefore not be outside the world, which is contrary to our supposition. Therefore, neither in the world, nor outside the world (yet in causal connection with it), does there exist anywhere an absolutely necessary Being.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE FOURTH ANTINOMY [p. 456]
On the Thesis
In order to prove the existence of a necessary Being, I ought not, in this place, to use any but the cosmological argument, which ascends from what is conditioned in the phenomena to what is unconditioned in concept, that being considered as the necessary condition of the absolute totality of the series. To undertake that proof from the mere idea of a Supreme Being belongs to another principle of reason, and will have to be treated separately.
The pure cosmological proof cannot establish the existence of a necessary Being, without leaving it open, whether that Being be the world itself, or a Being distinct from it. In order to settle this question, principles are required which are no longer cosmological, and do not proceed in the series of phenomena. We should have to introduce concepts of contingent beings in general (so far as they are considered as objects of the understanding only), and also a principle according to which we might connect them, by means of concepts only, with a necessary Being. All this belongs to a transcendent [p. 458] philosophy, for which this is not yet the place.
If, however, we once begin our proof cosmologically, taking for our foundation the series of phenomena, and the regressus in it, according to the empirical laws of causality, we cannot afterwards suddenly leave this line of argument and pass over to something which does not belong as a member to this series. For the condition must be taken in the same meaning in which the relation of the condition to that condition was taken in the series which, by continuous progress, was to lead to that highest condition. If therefore that relation is sensuous and intended for a possible empirical use of the understanding, the highest condition or cause can close the regressus according to the laws of sensibility only, and therefore as belonging to that temporal series itself. The necessary Being must therefore be regarded as the highest member of the cosmical series.
Nevertheless, certain philosophers have taken the liberty of making such a salto (μετάβασις εἰς ἄλλο γένος). From the changes in the world they concluded their empirical contingency, that is, their dependence on empirically determining causes, and they thus arrived at an ascending series of empirical conditions. This was quite right. As, however, in this way they could not find a first beginning, or any highest member, they suddenly left the empirical concept of contingency, and took to the pure category. This led to a purely intelligible series, the completeness of which depended on the existence of an absolutely necessary cause, which cause, as no longer subject to any sensuous conditions, was freed also from the temporal condition of itself beginning its causality. Such a proceeding is entirely illegitimate, as may be seen from what follows.
In the pure sense of the category we call contingent that the contradictory opposite of which is possible. Now we cannot conclude that intelligible contingency from empirical contingency. Of what is being [p. 460] changed we may say that the opposite (of its state) is real, and therefore possible also at another time. But this is not the contradictory opposite of the preceding state. In order to establish that, it is necessary that, at the same time, when the previous state existed, its opposite could have existed in its place, and this can never be concluded from change. A body, for instance, which, when in motion, was A, comes to be, when at rest, = non A. From the fact that the state opposite to the state A follows upon it, we can in no wise conclude that the contradictory opposite of A is possible, and therefore A contingent only. In order to establish this, it would be necessary to prove that, at the same time when there was motion, there might have been, instead of it, rest. But we know no more than that, at a subsequent time, such rest was real, and therefore possible also. Motion at one time, and rest at another, are not contradictory opposites. Therefore the succession of opposite determinations, that is, change, in no way proves contingency, according to the concepts of the pure understanding, and can therefore never lead us on to the existence of a necessary Being, according to the pure concepts of the understanding. Change proves empirical contingency only; it proves that the new state could not have taken place according to the law of causality by itself, and without a cause belonging to a previous time. This cause, even if it is considered as absolutely necessary, must, as we see, exist in time, and belong to the series of phenomena.
On the Antithesis [p. 457]
If, in ascending the series of phenomena, we imagine we meet with difficulties militating against the existence of an absolutely necessary supreme cause, such difficulties ought not to be derived from mere concepts of the necessary existence of a thing in general. They ought not to be ontological, but ought to arise from the causal connection with a series of phenomena for which a condition is required which is itself unconditioned, that is, they ought to be cosmological, and dependent on empirical laws. It must be shown that our ascending in the series of causes (in the world of sense) can never end with a condition empirically unconditioned, and that the cosmological argument, based on the contingency of cosmical states, as proved by their changes, ends in a verdict against the admission of a first cause, absolutely originating the whole series
A curious contrast however meets us in this [p. 459] antinomy. From the same ground on which, in the thesis, the existence of an original Being was proved, its nonexistence is proved in the antithesis with equal stringency. We were first told, that a necessary Being exists, because the whole of time past comprehends the series of all conditions, and with it also the unconditioned (the necessary). We are now told there is no necessary Being, for the very reason that the whole of past time comprehends the series of all conditions (which therefore altogether are themselves conditioned). The explanation is this. The first argument regards only the absolute totality of the series of conditions determining each other in time, and thus arrives at something unconditioned and necessary. The second, on the contrary, regards the contingency of all that is determined in the temporal series (everything being preceded by a time in which the condition itself must again be determined as conditioned), in which case everything unconditioned, and every absolute necessity, [p. 461] must absolutely vanish. In both, the manner of concluding is quite in conformity with ordinary human reason, which frequently comes into conflict with itself, from considering its object from two different points of view. Herr von Mairan considered the controversy between two famous astronomers, which arose from a similar difficulty, as to the choice of the true standpoint, as something sufficiently important to write a separate treatise on it. The one reasoned thus, the moon revolves on its own axis, because it always turns the same side towards the earth. The other concluded, the moon does not revolve on its own axis, because it always turns the same side towards the earth. Both conclusions were correct, according to the point of view from which one chose to consider the motion of the moon.
Of the Interest of Reason in these Conflicts [p. 462]
We have thus watched the whole dialectical play of the cosmological ideas, and have seen that they do not even admit of any adequate object being supplied to them in any possible experience, nay, not even of reason treating them in accordance with the general laws of experience. Nevertheless these ideas are not arbitrary fictions, but reason in the continuous progress of empirical synthesis is necessarily led on to them, whenever it wants to free what, according to the rules of experience, can be determined as conditioned only, from all conditions, and comprehend it in its unconditioned totality. These rationalising or dialectical assertions are so many attempts at solving four perfectly natural and inevitable problems of reason. There cannot be either more or less of them, because there are neither more nor less series of synthetical hypotheses, which limit empirical synthesis a priori.
We have represented the brilliant pretensions of reason, extending its domain beyond all the limits of experience, in dry formulas only, containing nothing but the grounds of its claims; and, as it befits transcendental [p. 463] philosophy, divested them of everything empirical, although it is only in connection with this that the whole splendour of the assertions of reason can be fully seen. In their application, and in the progressive extension of the employment of reason, beginning from the field of experience, and gradually soaring up to those sublime ideas, philosophy displays a grandeur which, if it could only establish its pretensions, would leave all other kinds of human knowledge far behind, promising to us a safe foundation for our highest expectations and hopes for the attainment of the highest aims, towards which all the exertions of reason must finally converge. The questions, whether the world has a beginning and any limit of its extension in space; whether there is anywhere, and it may be in my own thinking self, an indivisible and indestructible unity, or whether there exists nothing but what is divisible and perishable; whether in my acts I am free, or, like other beings, led by the hand of nature and of fate; whether, finally, there exists a supreme cause of the world, or whether the objects of nature and their order form the last object which we can reach in all our speculations, — these are questions for the solution of which the mathematician would gladly sacrifice the whole of his science, which cannot give him any satisfaction with regard to the highest and dearest aspirations of mankind. Even the true dignity and worth of mathematics, that pride of human reason, rest [p. 464] on this, that they teach reason how to understand nature in what is great and what is small in her, in her order and regularity, and likewise in the admirable unity of her moving powers, far above all expectations of a philosophy restricted to common experience, and thus encourage reason to extend its use far beyond experience, nay, supply philosophy with the best materials intended to support its investigations, so far as their nature admits of it, by adequate intuitions.
Unfortunately for mere speculation (but fortunately perhaps for the practical destinies of men), reason, in the very midst of her highest expectations, finds herself so hemmed in by a press of reasons and counter reasons, that, as neither her honour nor her safety admit of her retreating and becoming an indifferent spectator of what might be called a mere passage of arms, still less of her commanding peace in a strife in which she is herself deeply interested, nothing remains to her but to reflect on the origin of this conflict, in order to find out whether it may not have arisen from a mere misunderstanding. After such an enquiry proud claims would no [p. 465] doubt have to be surrendered on both sides, but a permanent and tranquil rule of reason over the understanding and the senses might then be inaugurated.
For the present we shall defer this thorough enquiry, in order to consider which side we should like to take, if it should become necessary to take sides at all. As in this case we do not consult the logical test of truth, but only our own interest, such an enquiry, though settling nothing as to the contested rights of both parties, will have this advantage, that it makes us understand why those who take part in this contest embrace one rather than the other side, without being guided by any special insight into the subject. It may also explain some other things, as, for instance, the zelotic heat of the one and the calm assurance of the other party, and why the world greets one party with rapturous applause, and entertains towards the other an irreconcileable prejudice.
There is something which in this preliminary enquiry determines the right point of view, from which alone it can be carried on with proper completeness, and this is the comparison of the principles from which both parties start. If we look at the propositions of the antithesis, we shall find in it a perfect uniformity in the mode of thought and a complete unity of principle, [p. 466] namely, the principle of pure empiricism, not only in the explanation of the phenomena of the world, but also in the solution of the transcendental ideas of the cosmical universe itself. The propositions of the thesis, on the contrary, rest not only on the empirical explanation within the series of phenomena, but likewise on intelligible beginnings, and its maxim is therefore not simple. With regard to its essential and distinguishing characteristic, I shall call it the dogmatism of pure reason.
On the side of dogmatism we find in the determination of the cosmological ideas, or in the Thesis: —
First, A certain practical interest, which every right-thinking man, if he knows his true interests, will heartily share. That the world has a beginning; that my thinking self is of a simple and therefore indestructible nature; that the same self is free in all his voluntary actions, and raised above the compulsion of nature; that, finally, the whole order of things, or the world, derives its origin from an original Being, whence everything receives both unity and purposeful connection — these are so many foundation stones on which morals and religion are built up. The antithesis robs us, or seems to rob us, of all these supports.
Secondly, Reason has a certain speculative interest on the same side. For, if we take and employ the transcendental ideas as they are in the thesis, one may quite a priori grasp the whole chain of conditions and [p. 467] comprehend the derivation of the conditioned by beginning with the unconditioned. This cannot be done by the antithesis, which presents itself in a very unfavourable light, because it cannot return to the question as to the conditions of its synthesis any answer which does not lead to constantly new questions. According to it one has always to ascend from a given beginning to a higher one, every part leads always to a still smaller part, every event has always before it another event as its cause, and the conditions of existence in general always rest on others, without ever receiving unconditioned strength and support from a self-subsisting thing, as the original Being.
Thirdly, This side has also the advantage of popularity, which is by no means its smallest recommendation. The common understanding does not see the smallest difficulty in the idea of the unconditioned beginning of all synthesis, being accustomed rather to descend to consequences, than to ascend to causes. It finds comfort in the ideas of the absolutely first (the possibility of which does not trouble it), and at the same time a firm point to which the leading strings of its life may be attached, while there is no pleasure in a restless ascent from condition to condition, and keeping one foot always in the air.
On the side of empiricism, so far as it determines [p. 468] the cosmological ideas, or the antithesis, there is: —
First, No such practical interest, arising from the pure principles of reason, as morality and religion possess. On the contrary, empiricism seems to deprive both of their power and influence. If there is no original Being, different from the world; if the world is without a beginning, and therefore without a Creator; if our will is not free, and our soul shares the same divisibility and perishableness with matter, moral ideas also and principles lose all validity, and fall with the transcendental ideas, which formed their theoretic support.
But, on the other side, empiricism offers advantages to the speculative interests of reason, which are very tempting, and far exceed those which the dogmatical teacher can promise. With the empiricist the understanding is always on its own proper ground, namely, the field of all possible experience, the laws of which may be investigated and serve to enlarge certain and intelligible knowledge without end. Here every object can and ought to be represented to intuition, both in itself and in its relations, or at least in concepts, the images of which can be clearly and distinctly represented in given similar intuitions. Not only is there no necessity for leaving the chain of the order of nature in order to lay hold of ideas, the objects of which are not known, [p. 469] because, as mere products of thought, they can never be given, but the understanding is not even allowed to leave its proper business and, under pretence of its being finished, to cross into the domain of idealising reason and transcendental concepts, where it need no longer observe and investigate according to the laws of nature, but only think and dream, without any risk of being contradicted by the facts of nature, not being bound by their evidence, but justified in passing them by, or in even subordinating them to a higher authority, namely, that of pure reason.
Hence the empiricist will never allow that any epoch of nature should be considered as the absolutely first, or any limit of his vision into the extent of nature should be considered as the last. He will not approve of a transition from the objects of nature, which he can analyse by observation and mathematics and determine synthetically in intuition (the extended), to those which neither sense nor imagination can ever represent in concreto (the simple); nor will he concede that a faculty be presupposed, even in nature, to act independent of the laws of nature (freedom), thus narrowing the operations of the understanding in investigating, according to the necessary rules, the origin of phenomena. Lastly, he will never tolerate that the cause of anything should be [p. 470] looked for anywhere outside of nature (in the original Being), because we know nothing but nature, which alone can offer us objects and instruct us as to their laws.
If the empirical philosopher had no other purpose with his antithesis but to put down the rashness and presumption of reason in mistaking her true purpose, while boasting of insight and knowledge, where insight and knowledge come to an end, nay, while representing, what might have been allowed to pass on account of practical interests, as a real advancement of speculative enquiry, in order, when it is so disposed, either to tear the thread of physical enquiry, or to fasten it, under the pretence of enlarging our knowledge, to those transcendental ideas, which really teach us only that we know nothing; if, I say, the empiricist were satisfied with this, then his principle would only serve to teach moderation in claims, modesty in assertions, and encourage the greatest possible enlargement of our understanding through the true teacher given to us, namely, experience. For in such a case we should not be deprived of our own intellectual presumptions or of our faith in their influence on our practical interests. They would only have lost the pompous titles of science and rational insight, because true [p. 471] speculative knowledge can never have any other object but experience; and, if we transcend its limits, our synthesis, which attempts new kinds of knowledge independent of experience, lacks that substratum of intuition to which alone it could be applied.
As it is, empiricism becomes often itself dogmatical with regard to ideas, and boldly denies what goes beyond the sphere of its intuitive knowledge, and thus becomes guilty itself of a want of modesty, which here is all the more reprehensible, because an irreparable injury is thereby inflicted on the practical interests of reason.
This constitutes the opposition of Epicureanism1 to Platonism.
Either party says more than it knows; but, [p. 472] while the former encourages and advances knowledge, although at the expense of practical interests, the latter supplies excellent practical principles, but with regard to everything of which speculative knowledge is open to us, it allows reason to indulge in ideal explanations of natural phenomena and to neglect physical investigation.
With regard to the third point which has to be considered in a preliminary choice between the two opposite parties, it is very strange that empiricism should be so unpopular, though it might be supposed that the common understanding would readily accept a theory which promises to satisfy it by experimental knowledge and its rational connection, while transcendental dogmatism forces it to ascend to concepts which far surpass the insight and rational faculties of the most practised thinkers. But here is the real motive; — the man of ordinary [p. 473] understanding is so placed thereby that even the most learned can claim no advantage over him. If he knows little or nothing, no one can boast of knowing much more, and though he may not be able to employ such scholastic terms as others, he can argue and subtilise infinitely more, because he moves about among mere ideas, about which it is easy to be eloquent, because no one knows anything about them. The same person would have to be entirely silent, or would have to confess his ignorance with regard to scientific enquiries into nature. Indolence, therefore, and vanity are strongly in favour of those principles. Besides, although a true philosopher finds it extremely hard to accept the principle of which he can give no reasonable account, still more to introduce concepts the objective reality of which cannot be established, nothing comes more natural to the common understanding that wants something with which it can operate securely. The difficulty of comprehending such a supposition does not disquiet a person of common understanding, because not knowing what comprehending really means, it never enters into his mind, and he takes everything for known that has become familiar to him by frequent use. At last all speculative interest disappears before the practical, and he imagines that he understands and knows what his fears and hopes impel him to accept or to believe. Thus the empiricism of a transcendentally idealising reason [p. 474] loses all popularity and, however prejudicial it may be to the highest practical principles, there is no reason to fear that it will ever pass the limits of the school and obtain in the commonwealth any considerable authority, or any favour with the multitude.
Human reason is by its nature architectonic, and looks upon all knowledge as belonging to a possible system. It therefore allows such principles only which do not render existing knowledge incapable of being associated with other knowledge in some kind of system. The propositions of the antithesis, however, are of such a character that they render the completion of any system of knowledge quite impossible. According to them there is always beyond every state of the world, an older state; in every part, other and again divisible parts; before every event, another event which again is produced from elsewhere, and everything in existence is conditioned, without an unconditioned and first existence anywhere. As therefore the antithesis allows of nothing that is first, and of no beginning which could serve as the foundation of an edifice, such an edifice of knowledge is entirely impossible with such premisses. Hence the architectonic interest of reason (which demands not empirical, but pure [p. 475] rational unity a priori) serves as a natural recommendation of the propositions of the thesis.
But if men could free themselves from all such interests, and consider the assertions of reason, unconcerned about their consequences, according to the value of their arguments only, they would find themselves, if they knew of no escape from the press except adhesion to one or the other of the opposite doctrines, in a state of constant oscillation. To-day they would be convinced that the human will is free; to-morrow, when considering the indissoluble chain of nature, they would think that freedom is nothing but self-deception, and nature all in all. When afterwards they come to act, this play of purely speculative reason would vanish like the shadows of a dream, and they would choose their principles according to practical interests only. But, as it well befits a reflecting and enquiring being to devote a certain time entirely to the examination of his own reason, divesting himself of all partiality, and then to publish his observations for the judgment of others, no one ought to be blamed, still less be prevented, if he wishes to produce the thesis [p. 476] as well as the antithesis, so that they may defend themselves, terrified by no menace, before a jury of his peers, that is, before a jury of weak mortals.
Of the Transcendental Problems of Pure Reason, and the Absolute Necessity of their Solution
To attempt to solve all problems, and answer all questions, would be impudent boasting, and so extravagant a self-conceit, that it would forfeit all confidence. Nevertheless there are sciences the very nature of which requires that every question which can occur in them should be answerable at once from what is known, because the answer must arise from the same sources from which the question springs. Here it is not allowed to plead inevitable ignorance, but a solution can be demanded. We must be able, for instance, to know, according to a rule, what in every possible case is right or wrong, because this touches our obligation, and we cannot have any obligation to that which we cannot know. In the explanation, [p. 477] however, of the phenomena of nature, many things must remain uncertain, and many a question insoluble, because what we know of nature is by no means sufficient, in all cases, to explain what has to be explained. It has now to be considered, whether there exists in transcendental philosophy any question relating to any object of reason which, by that pure reason, is unanswerable, and whether we have a right to decline its decisive answer by treating the object as absolutely uncertain (from all that we are able to know), and as belonging to that class of objects of which we may form a sufficient conception for starting a question, without having the power or means of ever answering it.
Now I maintain that transcendental philosophy has this peculiarity among all speculative knowledge, that no question, referring to an object of pure reason, can be insoluble for the same human reason; and that no excuse of inevitable ignorance on our side, or of unfathomable depth on the side of the problem, can release us from the obligation to answer it thoroughly and completely; because the same concept, which enables us to ask the question, must qualify us to answer it, considering that, as in the case of right and wrong, the object itself does not exist, except in the concept.
There are, however, in transcendental philosophy [p. 478] no other questions but the cosmological, with regard to which we have a right to demand a satisfactory answer, touching the quality of the object; nor is the philosopher allowed here to decline an answer by pleading impenetrable obscurity. These questions can refer to cosmological ideas only, because the object must be given empirically, and the question only refers to the adequateness of it to an idea. If the object is transcendental and therefore itself unknown, as, for instance, whether that something the phenomenal appearance of which (within ourselves) is the thinking (soul), be in itself a simple being, whether there be an absolutely necessary cause of all things, etc., we are asked to find an object for our idea of which we may well confess that it is unknown to us, though not therefore impossible.1 The cosmological ideas alone possess this peculiarity that they may presuppose [p. 479] their object, and the empirical synthesis required for the object, as given, and the question which they suggest refers only to the progress of that synthesis, so far as it is to contain absolute totality, such absolute totality being no longer empirical, because it cannot be given in any experience. As we are here concerned solely with a thing, as an object of possible experience, not as a thing by itself, it is impossible that the answer of the transcendent cosmological question can be anywhere but in the idea, because it refers to no object by itself; and in respect to possible experience we do not ask for that which can be given in concreto in any experience, but for that which lies in the idea, to which the empirical synthesis can no more than approach. Hence that question can be solved from the idea only, and being a mere creation of reason, reason cannot decline her responsibility and put it on the unknown object.
It is in reality not so strange as it may seem [p. 480] at first, that a science should demand and expect definite answers to all the questions belonging to it (quaestiones domesticae), although at present these answers have not yet been discovered. There are, in addition to transcendental philosophy, two other sciences of pure reason, the one speculative, the other practical, pure mathematics, and pure ethics. Has it ever been alleged that, it may be on account of our necessary ignorance of the conditions, it must remain uncertain what exact relation the diameter bears to a circle, in rational or irrational numbers? As by the former the relation cannot be expressed adequately, and by the latter has not yet been discovered, it was judged rightly that the impossibility at least of the solution of such a problem can be known with certainty, and Lambert gave even a demonstration of this. In the general principles of morality there can be nothing uncertain, because its maxims are either entirely null and void, or derived from our own rational concepts only. In natural science, on the contrary, we have an infinity of conjectures with regard to which certainty can never be expected, because natural phenomena are objects given to us independent of our concepts, and the key to them cannot be found within our own mind, but in the world outside us. For that reason it cannot in many cases be found at all, and a satisfactory answer must not be expected. The questions of the transcendental [p. 481] Analytic, referring to the deduction of our pure knowledge, do not belong to this class, because we are treating at present of the certainty of judgments with reference to their objects only, and not with reference to the origin of our concepts themselves.
We shall not, therefore, be justified in evading the obligation of a critical solution, at least of the questions of reason, by complaints on the narrow limits of our reason, and by confessing, under the veil of humble self-knowledge, that it goes beyond the powers of our reason to determine whether the world has existed from eternity, or has had a beginning; whether cosmical space is filled with beings ad infinitum, or enclosed within certain limits; whether anything in the world is simple, or everything can be infinitely divided; lastly, whether there is a Being entirely unconditioned and necessary in itself, or whether the existence of everything is conditioned, and therefore externally dependent, and in itself contingent. For all these questions refer to an object which can be found nowhere except in our own thoughts, namely, the absolutely unconditioned totality of the synthesis of phenomena. If we are not able to say and establish anything certain about this from our own concepts, we must not throw the blame on the [p. 482] object itself as obscure, because such an object (being nowhere to be found, except in our ideas) can never be given to us; but we must look for the real cause of obscurity in our idea itself, which is a problem admitting of no solution, though we insist obstinately that a real object must correspond to it. A clear explanation of the dialectic within our own concept, would soon show us, with perfect certainty, how we ought to judge with reference to such a question.
If people put forward a pretext of being unable to arrive at certainty with regard to these problems, the first question which we ought to address to them, and which they ought to answer clearly, is this, Whence do you get those ideas, the solution of which involves you in such difficulty? Are they phenomena, of which you require an explanation, and of which you have only to find, in accordance with those ideas, the principles, or the rule of their explanation? Suppose the whole of nature were spread out before you, and nothing were hid to your senses and to the consciousness of all that is presented to your intuition, yet you would never be able to know by one single experience the object of your ideas in concreto (because, in addition to that complete intuition, what is required is a completed synthesis, and the consciousness of its absolute totality, which [p. 483] is impossible by any empirical knowledge). Hence your question can never be provoked for the sake of explaining any given phenomenon, and as it were suggested by the object itself. Such an object can never come before you, because it can never be given by any possible experience. In all possible perceptions you always remain under the sway of conditions, whether in space or in time; you never come face to face with anything unconditioned, in order thus to determine whether the unconditioned exists in an absolute beginning of the synthesis, or in an absolute totality of the series without any beginning. The whole, in its empirical meaning, is always relative only. The absolute whole of quantity (the universe), of division, of origination, and of the condition of existence in general, with all the attendant questions as to whether it can be realised by a finite synthesis or by a synthesis to be carried on ad infinitum, has nothing to do with any possible experience. You would, for instance, never be able to explain the phenomena of a body in the least better, or even differently, whether you assume that it consists of simple or throughout of composite parts: for neither a simple phenomenon, nor an infinite composition can ever meet your senses. Phenomena require to be explained so far only as the conditions of their explanation are given in perception; but whatever may exist in them, if comprehended [p. 484] as an absolute whole, can1 never be a perception. Yet it is this very whole the explanation of which is required in the transcendental problems of reason.
As therefore the solution of these problems can never be supplied by experience, you cannot say that it is uncertain what ought to be predicated of the object. For your object is in your brain only, and cannot possibly exist outside it; so that you have only to take care to be at one with yourselves, and to avoid the amphiboly, which changes your idea into a pretended representation of an object empirically given, and therefore to be known according to the laws of experience. The dogmatical solution is therefore not only uncertain, but impossible; while the critical solution, which may become perfectly certain, does not consider the question objectively, but only with reference to the foundation of the knowledge on which it is based.
Sceptical Representation of the Cosmological Questions in the Four Transcendental Ideas [p. 485]
We should no doubt gladly desist from wishing to have our questions answered dogmatically, if we understood beforehand that, whatever the answer might be, it would only increase our ignorance, and throw us from one incomprehensibility into another, from one obscurity into a still greater obscurity, or it may be even into contradictions. If our question can only be answered by yes or no, it would seem to be prudent to take no account at first of the probable grounds of the answer, but to consider before, what we should gain, if the answer was yes, and what, if the answer was no. If we should find that in either case nothing comes of it but mere nonsense, we are surely called upon to examine our question critically, and to see whether it does not rest on a groundless supposition, playing only with an idea which betrays its falsity in its application and its consequences better than when represented by itself. This is the great advantage of the sceptical treatment of questions which [p. 486] pure reason puts to pure reason. We get rid by it, with a little effort, of a great amount of dogmatical rubbish, in order to put in its place sober criticism which, as a true cathartic, removes successfully all illusion with its train of omniscience.
If, therefore, I could know beforehand that a cosmological idea, in whatever way it might try to realise the unconditioned of the regressive synthesis of phenomena (whether in the manner of the thesis or in that of the antithesis), that, I say, the cosmological idea would always be either too large or too small for any concept of the understanding, I should understand that, as that cosmological idea refers only to an object of experience which is to correspond to a possible concept of the understanding, it must be empty and without meaning, because the object does not fit into it, whatever I may do to adapt it. And this must really be the case with all cosmical concepts, which on that very account involve reason, so long as it remains attached to them, in inevitable antinomy. For suppose: —
First, That the world has no beginning, and you will find that it is too large for your concept, which, as it consists in a successive regressus, can never reach the whole of past eternity. Or, suppose, that the world has a beginning, then it is again too small for the concept of your understanding engaged in the necessary empirical regressus. For as a beginning always presupposes [p. 487] a time preceding, it is not yet unconditioned; and the law of the empirical use of the understanding obliges you to look for a higher condition of time, so that, with reference to such a law, the world (as limited in time) is clearly too small.
The same applies to the twofold answer to the question regarding the extent of the world in space. For if it is infinite and unlimited, it is too large for every possible empirical concept. If it is finite and limited, you have a perfect right to ask what determines that limit. Empty space is not an independent correlate of things, and cannot be a final condition, still less an empirical condition forming a part of a possible experience; — for how can there be experience of what is absolutely void? But, in order to produce an absolute totality in an empirical synthesis, it is always requisite that the unconditioned should be an empirical concept. Thus it follows that a limited world would be too small for your concept.
Secondly, If every phenomenon in space (matter) consists of an infinite number of parts, the regressus of a division will always be too large for your concept, while if the division of space is to stop at any member (the simple), it would be too small for the idea of the unconditioned, because that member always admits of a regresus to more parts contained in it. [p. 488]
Thirdly, If you suppose that everything that happens in the world is nothing but the result of the laws of nature, the causality of the cause will always be something that happens, and that necessitates a regressus to a still higher cause, and therefore a continuation of the series of conditions a parte priori without end. Mere active nature, therefore, is too large for any concept in the synthesis of cosmical events.
If you admit, on the contrary, spontaneously produced events, therefore generation from freedom, you have still, according to an inevitable law of nature, to ask why, and you are forced by the empirical law of causality beyond that point, so that you find that any such totality of connection is too small for your necessary empirical concept.
Fourthly, If you admit an absolutely necessary Being (whether it be the world itself or something in the world, or the cause of the world), you place it at a time infinitely remote from any given point of time, because otherwise it would be dependent on another and antecedent existence. In that case, however, such an existence would be unapproachable by your empirical concept, and too large even to be reached by any continued regressus.
But if, according to your opinion, everything [p. 489] which belongs to the world (whether as conditioned or as condition) is contingent, then every given existence is too small for your concept, because compelling you to look still for another existence, on which it depends.
We have said that in all these cases, the cosmical idea is either too large or too small for the empirical regressus, and therefore for every possible concept of the understanding. But why did we not take the opposite view and say that in the former case the empirical concept is always too small for the idea, and in the latter too large, so that blame should attach to the empirical regressus, and not to the cosmological idea, which we accused of deviating from its object, namely, possible experience, either by its too-much or its too-little? The reason was this. It is possible experience alone that can impart reality to our concepts; without this, a concept is only an idea without truth, and without any reference to an object. Hence the possible empirical concept was the standard by which to judge the idea, whether it be an idea and fiction only, or whether it has an object in the world. For we then only say that anything is relatively to something else either too large or too small, if it is required for the sake of the other and ought to be adapted to it. One of the playthings of the old dialectical school was the question, whether we [p. 490] should say that the ball is too large or the hole too small, if a ball cannot pass through a hole. In this case it is indifferent what expression we use, because we do not know which of the two exists for the sake of the other. But you would never say that the man is too large for his coat, but that the coat is too small for the man.
We have thus been led at least to a well-founded suspicion that the cosmological ideas, and with them all the conflicting sophistical assertions, may rest on an empty and merely imaginary conception of the manner in which the object of those ideas can be given, and this suspicion may lead us on the right track to discover the illusion which has so long led us astray.
Transcendental Idealism as the Key to the Solution of Cosmological Dialectic
It has been sufficiently proved in the transcendental Æsthetic that everything which is perceived in space and time, therefore all objects of an experience possible to us, are nothing but phenomena, that is, mere representations which, such as they are represented, namely, as [p. 491] extended beings, or series of changes, have no independent existence outside our thoughts. This system I call Transcendental Idealism.1 Transcendental realism changes these modifications of our sensibility into self-subsistent things, that is, it changes mere representations into things by themselves.
It would be unfair to ask us to adopt that long-decried empirical idealism which, while it admits the independent reality of space, denies the existence of extended beings in it, or at all events considers it as doubtful and does not admit that there is in this respect a sufficiently established difference between dream and reality. It sees no difficulty with regard to the phenomena of the internal sense in time, being real things; nay, it even maintains that this internal experience alone sufficiently proves the real existence of its object (by itself), with all the determinations in time.
Our own transcendental idealism, on the contrary, allows that the objects of external intuition may be real, as they are perceived in space, and likewise all changes in time, as they are represented by the internal sense. For as space itself is a form of that intuition which we call external, and as there would be no empirical representation [p. 492] at all, unless there were objects in space, we can and must admit the extended beings in it as real; and the same applies to time. Space itself, however, as well as time, and with them all phenomena, are not things by themselves, but representations, and cannot exist outside our mind; and even the internal sensuous intuition of our mind (as an object of consciousness) which is represented as determined by the succession of different states in time, is not a real self, as it exists by itself, or what is called the transcendental subject, but a phenomenon only, given to the sensibility of this to us unknown being. It cannot be admitted that this internal phenomenon exists as a thing by itself, because it is under the condition of time, which can never be the determination of anything by itself. In space and time, however, the empirical truth of phenomena is sufficiently established, and kept quite distinct from a dream, if both are properly and completely connected together in experience, according to empirical laws.
The objects of experience are therefore never given by themselves, but in our experience only, and do not exist outside it. That there may be inhabitants in [p. 493] the moon, though no man has ever seen them, must be admitted; but it means no more than that, in the possible progress of our experience, we may meet with them; for everything is real that hangs together with a perception, according to the laws of empirical progress. They are therefore real, if they are empirically connected with any real consciousness, although they are not therefore real by themselves, that is, apart from that progress of experience.
Nothing is really given to us but perception, and the empirical progress from this to other possible perceptions. For by themselves phenomena, as mere representations, are real in perception only, which itself is nothing but the reality of an empirical representation, that is, phenomenal appearance. To call a phenomenon a real thing, before it is perceived, means either, that in the progress of experience we must meet with such a perception, or it means nothing. For that it existed by itself, without any reference to our senses and possible experience, might no doubt be said when we speak of a thing by itself. We here are speaking, however, of a phenomenon only in space and time, which are not determinations of things by themselves, but only of our sensibility. Hence that which exists in them (phenomena) is not something by itself, but consists in representations only, [p. 494] which, unless they are given in us (in perception), exist nowhere.
The faculty of sensuous intuition is really some kind of receptivity only, according to which we are affected in a certain way by representations the mutual relation of which is a pure intuition of space and time (mere forms of our sensibility), and which, if they are connected and determined in that relation of space and time, according to the laws of the unity of experience, are called objects. The non-sensuous cause of these representations is entirely unknown to us, and we can never perceive it as an object, for such a cause would have to be represented neither in space nor in time, which are conditions of sensuous representations only, and without which we cannot conceive any intuition. We may, however, call that purely intelligible cause of phenomena in general, the transcendental object, in order that we may have something which corresponds to sensibility as a kind of receptivity. We may ascribe to that transcendental object the whole extent and connection of all our possible perceptions, and we may say that it is given by itself antecedently to all experience. Phenomena, however, are given accordingly, not by themselves, but in experience only, because they are mere representations which as perceptions [p. 495] only, signify a real object, provided that the perception is connected with all others, according to the rules of unity in experience. Thus we may say that the real things of time past are given in the transcendental object of experience, but they only are objects to me, and real in time past, on the supposition that I conceive that a regressive series of possible perceptions (whether by the light of history, or by the vestiges of causes and effects), in one word, the course of the world, leads, according to empirical laws, to a past series of time, as a condition of the present time. It is therefore represented as real, not by itself, but in connection with a possible experience, so that all past events from time immemorial and before my own existence mean after all nothing but the possibility of an extension of the chain of experience, beginning with present perception and leading upwards to the conditions which determine it in time.
If, therefore, I represent to myself all existing objects of the senses, at all times and in all spaces, I do not place them before experience into space and time, but the whole representation is nothing but the idea of a possible experience, in its absolute completeness. In that alone those objects (which are nothing but mere representations) are given; and if we say that they exist before [p. 496] my whole experience, this only means that they exist in that part of experience to which, starting from perception, I have first to advance. The cause of empirical conditions of that progress, and consequently with what members, or how far I may meet with certain members in that regressus, is transcendental, and therefore entirely unknown to me. But that cause does not concern us, but only the rule of the progress of experience, in which objects, namely phenomena, are given to me. In the end it is just the same whether I say, that in the empirical progress in space I may meet with stars a hundred times more distant than the most distant which I see, or whether I say that such stars are perhaps to be met with in space, though no human being did ever or will ever see them. For though, as things by themselves, they might be given without any relation to possible experience, they are nothing to me, and therefore no objects, unless they can be comprehended in the series of the empirical regressus. Only in another relation, when namely these phenomena are meant to be used for the cosmological idea of an absolute whole, and when we have to deal with a question that goes beyond the limits of possible experience, the distinction of the mode in which the reality of those objects of the senses is taken becomes of importance, in order [p. 497] to guard against a deceptive error that would inevitably arise from a misinterpretation of our own empirical concepts.
Critical Decision of the Cosmological Conflict of Reason with itself
The whole antinomy of pure reason rests on the dialectical argument that, if the conditioned is given, the whole series of conditions also is given. As therefore the objects of the senses are given us as conditioned, it follows, etc. Through this argument, the major of which seems so natural and self-evident, cosmological ideas have been introduced corresponding in number to the difference of conditions (in the synthesis of phenomena) which constitute a series. These cosmological ideas postulate the absolute totality of those series, and thus place reason in inevitable contradiction with itself. Before, however, we show what is deceptive in this sophistical argument, we must prepare ourselves for it by correcting and defining certain concepts occurring in it.
First, the following proposition is clear and admits of no doubt, that if the conditioned is given, it imposes on us the regressus in the series of all conditions of [p. 498] it; for it follows from the very concept of the conditioned that through it something is referred to a condition, and, if that condition is again conditioned, to a more distant condition, and so on through all the members of the series. This proposition is really analytical, and need not fear any transcendental criticism. It is a logical postulate of reason to follow up through the understanding, as far as possible, that connection of a concept with its conditions, which is inherent in the concept itself.
Further, if the conditioned as well as its conditions are things by themselves, then, if the former be given, the regressus to the latter is not only required, but is really given; and as this applies to all the members of the series, the complete series of conditions and with it the unconditioned also is given, or rather it is presupposed that the conditioned, which was possible through that series only, is given. Here the synthesis of the conditioned with its condition is a synthesis of the understanding only, which represents things as they are, without asking whether and how we can arrive at the knowledge of them. But if I have to deal with phenomena, which, as mere representations, are not given at all, unless I attain to a knowledge of them (that is, to the [p. 499] phenomena themselves, for they are nothing but empirical knowledge), then I cannot say in the same sense that, if the conditioned is given, all its conditions (as phenomena) are also given, and can therefore by no means conclude the absolute totality of the series. For phenomena in their apprehension are themselves nothing but an empirical synthesis (in space and time), and are given therefore in that synthesis only. Now it follows by no means that, if the conditioned (as phenomenal) is given, the synthesis also that constitutes its empirical condition should thereby be given at the same time and presupposed; for this takes place in the regressus only, and never without it. What we may say in such a case is this, that a regressus to the conditions, that is, a continued empirical synthesis in that direction is required, and that conditions cannot be wanting that are given through that regressus.
Hence we see that the major of the cosmological argument takes the conditioned in the transcendental sense of a pure category, while the minor takes it in the empirical sense of a concept of the understanding, referring to mere phenomena, so that it contains that dialectical deceit which is called Sophisma figurae dictionis. That deceit, [p. 500] however, is not artificial, but a perfectly natural illusion of our common reason. It is owing to it that, in the major, we presuppose the conditions and their series as it were on trust, if anything is given as conditioned, because this is no more than the logical postulate to assume complete premisses for any given conclusion. Nor does there exist in the connection of the conditioned with its condition any order of time, but they are presupposed in themselves as given together. It is equally natural also in the minor to look on phenomena as things by themselves, and as objects given to the understanding only in the same manner as in the major, as no account was taken of all the conditions of intuition under which alone objects can be given. But there is an important distinction between these concepts, which has been overlooked. The synthesis of the conditioned with its condition, and the whole series of conditions in the major, was in no way limited by time, and was free from any concept of succession. The empirical synthesis, on the contrary, and the series of conditions in phenomena, which was subsumed in the minor, is necessarily successive and given as such in time only. Therefore I had no right to assume the absolute totality of the synthesis and of the series represented by it in this case as well as in the former. For in the former all the members of the series are given by themselves (without determination in time), while here they are possible through the successive regressus only, which cannot exist [p. 501] unless it is actually carried out.
After convicting them of such a mistake in the argument adopted by both parties as the foundation of their cosmological assertions, both might justly be dismissed as not being able to produce any good title in support of their claims. But even thus their quarrel is not yet ended, as if it had been proved that both parties, or one of them, were wrong in the matter contended for (in the conclusion), though they had failed to support it by valid proof. Nothing seems clearer than that, if one maintains that the world has a beginning, and the other that it has no beginning, but exists from all eternity, one or the other must be right. But if this were so, as the arguments on both sides are equally clear, it would still remain impossible ever to find out on which side the truth lies, and the suit continues, although both parties have been ordered to keep the peace before the tribunal of reason. Nothing remains therefore in order to settle the quarrel once for all, and to the satisfaction of both parties, but to convince them that, though they can refute each other so eloquently, they are really quarrelling about nothing, and that a certain transcendental illusion has mocked them with a reality where no [p. 502] reality exists. We shall now enter upon this way of adjusting a dispute, which cannot be adjudicated.
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The Eleatic philosopher Zeno, a subtle dialectician, was severely reprimanded by Plato as a heedless Sophist who, in order to display his skill, would prove a proposition by plausible arguments and subvert the same immediately afterwards by arguments equally strong. He maintained, for instance, that God (which to him was probably nothing more than the universe) is neither finite nor infinite, neither in motion nor at rest, neither similar nor dissimilar to any other thing. It seemed to his critics as if he had intended to deny completely both of the two self-contradictory proposition which would be absurd. But I do not think that he can be rightly charged with this. We shall presently consider the first of these propositions more carefully. With regard to the others, if by the word God he meant the universe, he could not but say that it is neither permanently present in its place (at rest) nor that it changes it (in motion), because all places exist in the universe only, while the universe exists in no place. If the universe comprehends in itself everything that exists, it follows that it cannot be similar or dissimilar to any other thing, because there is no other thing besides it with which it could be compared. If two opposite [p. 503] judgments presuppose an inadmissible condition, they both, in spite of their contradiction (which, however, is no real contradiction), fall to the ground, because the condition fails under which alone either of the propositions was meant to be valid.
If somebody were to say that everybody has either a good or a bad smell, a third case is possible, namely, that it has no smell at all, in which case both contradictory propositions would be false. If I say that it is either good smelling or not good smelling (vel suaveolens vel nonsuaveolens), in that case the two judgments are contradictory, and the former only is wrong, while its contradictory opposite, namely, that some bodies are not good smelling, comprehends those bodies also which have no smell at all. In the former opposition (per disparata) the contingent condition of the concept of a body (smell) still remained in the contradictory judgment and was not eliminated by it, so that the latter could not be called the contradictory opposite of the former.
If I say therefore that the world is either infinite in space or is not infinite (non est infinitus), then, if the former proposition is wrong, its contradictory opposite, that the world is not infinite, must be true. I should thus only eliminate an infinite world without affirming another, namely, the finite. But if I had said the world [p. 504] is either infinite or finite (not-infinite), both statements may be false. For I then look upon the world, as by itself, determined in regard to its extent, and I do not only eliminate in the opposite statement the infinity, and with it, it may be, its whole independent existence, but I add a determination to the world as a thing existing by itself, which may be false, because the world may not be a thing by itself, and therefore, with regard to extension, neither infinite nor finite. This kind of opposition I may be allowed to call dialectical, that the real contradiction, the analytical opposition. Thus then of two judgments opposed to each other dialectically both may be false, because the one does not only contradict the other, but says something more than is requisite for a contradiction.
If we regard the two statements that the world is infinite in extension, and that the world is finite in extension, as contradictory opposites, we assume that the world (the whole series of phenomena) is a thing by itself; for it remains, whether I remove the infinite or the finite regressus in the series of its phenomena. But if we remove this supposition, or this transcendental illusion, and deny that it is a thing by itself, then the contradictory opposition of the two statements becomes [p. 505] purely dialectical, and as the world does not exist by itself (independently of the regressive series of my representations), it exists neither as a whole by itself infinite, nor as a whole by itself finite. It exists only in the empirical regressus in the series of phenomena, and nowhere by itself. Hence, if that series is always conditioned, it can never exist as complete, and the world is therefore not an inconditioned whole, and does not exist as such, either with infinite or finite extension.
What has here been said of the first cosmological idea, namely, that of the absolute totality of extension in phenomena, applies to the others also. The series of conditions is to be found only in the regressive synthesis, never by itself, as complete, in phenomenon as an independent thing, existing prior to every regressus. Hence I shall have to say that the number of parts in any given phenomenon is by itself neither finite nor infinite, because a phenomenon does not exist by itself, and its parts are only found through the regressus of the decomposing synthesis through and in the regressus, and that regressus can never be given as absolutely complete, whether as finite or as infinite. The same applies to the series of causes, one being prior to the other, and to the series leading from conditioned to unconditioned necessary existence, which can never be regarded either by [p. 506] itself finite in its totality or infinite, because, as a series of subordinated representations, it forms a dynamical regressus only, and cannot exist prior to it, by itself, as a self-subsistent series of things.
The antinomy of pure reason with regard to its cosmological ideas is therefore removed by showing that it is dialectical only, and a conflict of an illusion produced by our applying the idea of absolute totality, which exists only as a condition of things by themselves, to phenomena, which exist in our representation only, and if they form a series, in the successive regressus, but nowhere else. We may, however, on the other side, derive from that antinomy a true, if not dogmatical, at least critical and doctrinal advantage, namely, by proving through it indirectly the transcendental ideality of phenomena, in case anybody should not have been satisfied by the direct proof given in the transcendental Æsthetic. The proof would consist in the following dilemma. If the world is a whole existing by itself, it is either finite or infinite. Now the former as well as the latter proposition is false, as has been shown by the proofs given in the antithesis on one and in the thesis on the other side. It is false, therefore, that the world (the sum total of all phenomena) is a whole existing [p. 507] by itself. Hence it follows that phenomena in general are nothing outside our representations, which was what we meant by their transcendental ideality.
This remark is of some importance, because it shows that our proofs of the fourfold antinomy were not mere sophistry, but honest and correct, always under the (wrong) supposition that phenomena, or a world of sense which comprehends them all, are things by themselves. The conflict of the conclusions drawn from this shows, however, that there is a flaw in the supposition, and thus leads us to the discovery of the true nature of things, as objects of the senses. This transcendental Dialectic therefore does not favour scepticism, but only the sceptical method, which can point to it as an example of its great utility, if we allow the arguments of reason to fight against each other with perfect freedom, from which something useful and serviceable for the correction of our judgments will always result, though it may not be always that which we were looking for.
The Regulative Principle of Pure Reason with Regard to the Cosmological Ideas [p. 508]
As through the cosmological principle of totality no real maximum is given of the series of conditions in the world of sense, as a thing by itself, but can only be required in the regressus of that series, that principle of pure reason, if thus amended, still retains its validity, not indeed as an axiom, requiring us to think the totality in the object as real, but as a problem for the understanding, and therefore for the subject, encouraging us to undertake and to continue, according to the completeness in the idea, the regressus in the series of conditions of anything given as conditioned. In our sensibility, that is, in space and time, every condition which we can reach in examining given phenomena is again conditioned, because these phenomena are not objects by themselves, in which something absolutely unconditioned might possibly exist, but empirical representations only, which always must have their condition in intuition, whereby they are determined in space and time. The principle of reason is therefore properly a rule only, which in the series of conditions [p. 509] of given phenomena postulates a regressus which is never allowed to stop at anything absolutely unconditioned. It is therefore no principle of the possibility of experience and of the empirical knowledge of the objects of the senses, and not therefore a principle of the understanding, because every experience is (according to a given intuition) within its limits; nor is it a constitutive principle of reason, enabling us to extend the concept of the world of sense beyond all possible experience, but it is merely a principle of the greatest possible continuation and extension of our experience, allowing no empirical limit to be taken as an absolute limit. It is therefore a principle of reason, which, as a rule, postulates what we ought to do in the regressus, but does not anticipate what may be given in the object, before such regressus. I therefore call it a regulative principle of reason, while, on the contrary, the principle of the absolute totality of the series of conditions, as given in the object (the phenomena) by itself, would be a constitutive cosmological principle, the hollowness of which I have tried to indicate by this very distinction, thus preventing what otherwise would have inevitably happened (through a transcendental surreptitious proceeding), namely, an idea, which is to serve as a rule only, being invested with objective reality.
In order properly to determine the meaning of this rule of pure reason it should be remarked, first of all, that it cannot tell us what the object is, but only how [p. 510] the empirical regressus is to be carried out, in order to arrive at the complete concept of the object. If we attempted the first, it would become a constitutive principle, such as pure reason can never supply. It cannot therefore be our intention to say through this principle, that a series of conditions of something, given as conditioned, is by itself either finite or infinite; for in that case a mere idea of absolute totality, produced in itself only, would represent in thought an object such as can never be given in experience, and an objective reality, independent of empirical synthesis, would have been attributed to a series of phenomena. This idea of reason can therefore do no more than prescribe a rule to the regressive synthesis in the series of conditions, according to which that synthesis is to advance from the conditioned, through all subordinate conditions, towards the unconditioned, though it can never reach it, for the absolutely unconditioned can never be met with in experience.
To this end it is necessary, first of all, to define accurately the synthesis of a series, so far as it never is complete. People are in the habit of using for this purpose two expressions which are meant to establish a difference, though they are unable clearly to define the ground of the distinction. Mathematicians speak only of a progressus in infinitum. Those who enquire into concepts (philosophers) will admit instead the expression of a [p. 511] progressus in indefinitum only. Without losing any time in the examination of the reasons which may have suggested such a distinction, and of its useful or useless application, I shall at once endeavour to define these concepts accurately for my own purpose.
Of a straight line it can be said correctly that it may be produced to infinity; and here the distinction between an infinite and an indefinite progress (progressus in indefinitum) would be mere subtilty. No doubt, if we are told to carry on a line, it would be more correct to add in indefinitum, than in infinitum, because the former means no more than, produce it as far as you wish, but the second, you shall never cease producing it (which can never be intended). Nevertheless, if we speak only of what is possible, the former expression is quite correct, because we can always make it longer, if we like, without end. The same applies in all cases where we speak only of the progressus, that is, of our proceeding from the condition to the conditioned, for such progress proceeds in the series of phenomena without end. From a given pair of parents we may, in the descending line of generation, proceed without end, and conceive quite well that that line should so continue in the world. For here reason never requires an absolute totality of the series, [p. 512] because it is not presupposed as a condition, and as it were given (datum), but only as something conditioned, that is, capable only of being given (dabile), and can be added to without end.
The case is totally different with the problem, how far the regressus from something given as conditioned may ascend in a series to its conditions; whether I may call it a regressus into the infinite, or only into the indefinite (in indefinitum; and whether I may ascend, for instance, from the men now living, through the series of their ancestors, in infinitum; or whether I may only say that, so far as I have gone back, I have never met with an empirical ground for considering the series limited anywhere, so that I feel justified, and at the same time obliged to search for an ancestor of every one of these ancestors, though not to presuppose them.
I say, therefore, that where the whole is given in empirical intuition, the regressus in the series of its internal conditions proceeds in infinitum, while if a member only of a series is given, from which the regressus to the absolute totality has first to be carried out, the regressus is only in indefinitum. Thus we must [p. 513] say that the division of matter, as given between its limits (a body), goes on in infinitum, because that matter is complete and therefore, with all its possible parts, given in empirical intuition. As the condition of that whole consists in its part, and the condition of that part in the part of that part, and so on, and as in this regressus of decomposition we never meet with an unconditioned (indivisible) member of that series of conditions, there is nowhere an empirical ground for stopping the division; nay, the further members of that continued division are themselves empirically given before the continuation of the division, and therefore the division goes on in infinitum. The series of ancestors, on the contrary, of any given man, exists nowhere in its absolute totality, in any possible experience, while the regressus goes on from every link in the generation to a higher one, so that no empirical limit can be found which should represent a link as absolutely unconditioned. As, however, the links too, which might supply the condition, do not exist in the empirical intuition of the whole, prior to the regressus, that regressus does not proceed in infinitum (by a division of what is given), but to an indefinite distance, in its search for more links in addition to those which are given, and which themselves are again always conditioned only.
In neither case — the regressus in infinitum [p. 514] nor the regressus in indefinitum — is the series of conditions to be considered as given as infinite in the object. They are not things by themselves, but phenomena only, which, as conditions of each other, are given only in the regressus itself. Therefore the question is no longer how great this series of conditions may be by itself, whether finite or infinite, for it is nothing by itself, but only how we are to carry out the empirical regressus, and how far we may continue it. And here we see a very important difference with regard to the rule of that progress. If the whole is given empirically, it is possible to go back in the series of its conditions in infinitum. But if the whole is not given, but has first to be given through an empirical regressus, I can only say that it is possible to proceed to still higher conditions of the series. In the former case I could say that more members exist and are empirically given than I can reach through the regressus (of decomposition); in the latter I can only say that I may advance still further in the regressus, because no member is empirically given as absolutely unconditioned, and a higher member therefore always possible, and therefore the enquiry for it necessary. In the former case it was necessary to find more members of the series, in the latter it is necessary to enquire for more, because no experience is absolutely limiting. For [p. 515] either you have no perception which absolutely limits your empirical regressus, and in that case you cannot consider that regressus as complete, or you have a perception which limits your series, and in that case it cannot be a part of your finished series (because what limits must be different from that which is limited by it), and you must therefore continue your regressus to that condition also, and so on for ever.
The following section, by showing their application, will place these observations in their proper light.
Of the Empirical Use of the Regulative Principle of Reason with Regard to all Cosmological Ideas
No transcendental use, as we have shown on several occasions, can be made of the concepts either of the understanding or of reason; and the absolute totality of the series of conditions in the world of sense is due entirely to a transcendental use of reason, which demands this unconditioned completeness from what presupposes as a thing by itself. As no such thing is contained in the world of sense, we can never speak again [p. 516] of the absolute quantity of different series in it, whether they be limited or in themselves unlimited; but the question can only be, how far, in the empirical regressus, we may go back in tracing experience to its conditions, in order to stop, according to the rule of reason, at no other answer of its questions but such as is in accordance with the object.
What therefore remains to us is only the validity of the principle of reason, as a rule for the continuation and for the extent of a possible experience, after its invalidity, as a constitutive principle of things by themselves, has been sufficiently established. If we have clearly established that invalidity, the conflict of reason with itself will be entirely finished, because not only has the illusion which led to that conflict been removed through critical analysis, but in its place the sense in which reason agrees with itself, and the misapprehension of which was the only cause of conflict, has been clearly exhibited, and a principle formerly dialectical changed into a doctrinal one. In fact, if that principle, according to its subjective meaning, can be proved fit to determine the greatest possible use of the understanding in experience, as adequate to its objects, this would be the same as if it determined, as an axiom (which is impossible from pure reason), the [p. 517] objects themselves a priori: for this also could not, with reference to the objects of experience, exercise a greater influence on the extension and correction of our knowledge, than proving itself efficient in the most extensive use of our understanding, as applied to experience.
Solution of the Cosmological Idea of the Totality of the Composition of Phenomena in an Universe
Here, as well as in the other cosmological problems, the regulative principle of reason is founded on the proposition that, in the empirical regressus, no experience of an absolute limit, that is, of any condition as such, which empirically is absolutely unconditioned, can exist. The ground of this is that such an experience would contain a limitation of phenomena by nothing or by the void, on which the continued regressus by means of experience must abut; and this is impossible.
This proposition, which says that in an empirical regressus I can only arrive at the condition which itself must be considered empirically conditioned, [p. 518] contains the rule in terminis, that however far I may have reached in the ascending series, I must always enquire for a still higher member of that series, whether it be known to me by experience or not.
For the solution, therefore, of the first cosmological problem, nothing more is wanted than to determine whether, in the regressus to the unconditioned extension of the universe (in time and in space), this nowhere limited ascent is to be called a regressus in infinitum, or a regressus in indefinitum.
The mere general representation of the series of all past states of the world, and of the things which exist together in space, is itself nothing but a possible empirical regressus, which I represent to myself, though as yet as indefinite, and through which alone the concept of such a series of conditions of the perception given to me can arise.1 Now the universe exists for me as a concept only, and never (as a whole) as an intuition. Hence [p. 519] I cannot from its quantity conclude the quantity of the regressus, and determine the one by the other; but I must first frame to myself a concept of the quantity of the world through the quantity of the empirical regressus. Of this, however, I never know anything more than that, empirically, I must go on from every given member of the series of conditions to a higher and more distant member. Hence the quantity of the whole of phenomena is not absolutely determined, and we cannot say therefore that it is a regressus in infinitum, because this would anticipate the members which the regressus has not yet reached, and represent its number as so large that no empirical synthesis could ever reach it. It would therefore (though negatively only) determine the quantity of the world prior to the regressus, which is impossible, because it is not given to me by any intuition (in its totality), so that its quantity cannot be given prior to the regressus. Hence we cannot say anything of the quantity or extension of the world by itself, not even that there is in it a regressus in infinitum; but we must look for the concept of its quantity according to the rule that determines the empirical regressus in it. This rule, however, says no more than that, however far we may have got in the series of empirical conditions, we ought never to assume an absolute limit, but subordinate every phenomenon, as conditioned, to another, [p. 520] as its condition, and that we must proceed further to that condition. This is the regressus in indefinitum, which, as it fixes no quantity in the object, can clearly enough be distinguished from the regressus in infinitum.
I cannot say therefore that, as to time past or as to space, the world is infinite. For such a concept of quantity, as a given infinity, is empirical, and therefore, with reference to the world as an object of the senses, absolutely impossible. Nor shall I say that the regressus, beginning with a given perception, and going on to everything that limits it in a series, both in space and in time past, goes on in infinitum, because this would presuppose an infinite quantity of the world. Nor can I say again that it is finite, for the absolute limit is likewise empirically impossible. Hence it follows that I shall not be able to say anything of the whole object of experience (the world of sense), but only of the rule, according to which experience can take place and be continued in accordance with its object.
To the cosmological question, therefore, respecting the quantity of the world, the first and negative answer is, that the world has no first beginning in time, and no extreme limit in space.
For, in the contrary case, the world would be limited by empty time and empty space. As however, [p. 521] as a phenomenon, it cannot, by itself, be either, — a phenomenon not being a thing by itself, — we should have to admit the perception of a limitation by means of absolute empty time or empty space, by which these limits of the world could be given in a possible experience. Such an experience, however, would be perfectly void of contents, and therefore impossible. Consequently an absolute limit of the world is impossible empirically, and therefore absolutely also.1
From this follows at the same time the affirmative answer, that the regressus in the series of the phenomena of the world, intended as a determination of the quantity of the world, goes on in indefinitum, which is the same as if we say that the world of sense has no absolute quantity, but that the empirical regressus (through which alone it can be given on the side of its conditions) has its own rule, namely, to advance from every member of the series, as conditioned, to a more distant member, whether by our own experience, or by the guidance of history, [p. 522] or through the chain of causes and their effects; and never to dispense with the extension of the possible empirical use of the understanding, this being the proper and really only task of reason and its principles.
We do not prescribe by this a definite empirical regressus advancing without end in a certain class of phenomena; as, for instance, that from a living person one ought always to ascend in a series of ancestors, without ever expecting a first pair; or, in the series of cosmical bodies, without admitting in the end an extremest sun. All that is demanded is a progressus from phenomena to phenomena, even if they should not furnish us with a real perception (if it is too weak in degree to become experience in our consciousness), because even thus they belong to a possible experience.
Every beginning is in time, and every limit of extension in space. Space and time, however, exist in the world of sense only. Hence phenomena only are limited in the world conditionally; the world itself, however, is limited neither conditionally nor unconditionally.
For the same reason, and because the world can never be given complete, and even the series of conditions of something given as conditioned cannot, as a cosmical series, be given as complete, the concept of the quantity of the world can be given through the regressus only, and not before it in any collective intuition. [p. 523] That regressus, however, consists only in the determining of the quantity, and does not give, therefore, any definite concept, nor the concept of any quantity which, with regard to a certain measure, could be called infinite. It does not therefore proceed to the infinite (as if given), but only into an indefinite distance, in order to give a quantity (of experience) which has first to be realised by that very regressus.
Solution of the Cosmological Idea of the Totality of the Division of a Whole given in Intuition
If I divide a whole, given in intuition, I proceed from the conditioned to the conditions of its possibility. The division of the parts (subdivisio or decompositio) is a regressus in the series of those conditions. The absolute totality of this series could only be given, if the regressus could reach the simple parts. But if all parts in a continuously progressing decomposition are always divisible again, then the division, that is, the regressus from the conditioned to its conditions, goes on in infinitum; because the conditions (the parts) are contained in the conditioned itself, and as that is given as complete in an [p. 524] intuition enclosed within limits, are all given with it. The regressus must therefore not be called a regressus in indefinitum, such as was alone allowed by the former cosmological idea, where from the conditioned we had to proceed to conditions outside it, and therefore not given at the same time through it, but first to be added in the empirical regressus. It is not allowed, however, even in the case of a whole that is divisible in infinitum, to say, that it consists of infinitely many parts. For although all parts are contained in the intuition of the whole, yet the whole division is not contained in it, because it consists in the continuous decomposition, or in the regressus itself, which first makes that series real. As this regressus is infinite, all members (parts) at which it arrives are contained, no doubt, in the given whole as aggregates; but not so the whole series of the division, which is successively infinite and never complete, and cannot, therefore, represent an infinite number, or any comprehension of it as a whole.
It is easy to apply this remark to space. Every space, perceived within its limits, is such a whole the parts of which, in spite of all decomposition, are always spaces again, and therefore divisible in infinitum. [p. 525]
From this follows, quite naturally, the second application to an external phenomenon, enclosed within its limits (body). The divisibility of this is founded on the divisibility of space, which constitutes the possibility of the body, as an extended whole. This is therefore divisible in infinitum, without consisting, however, of an infinite number of parts.
It might seem indeed, as a body must be represented as a substance in space, that, with regard to the law of the divisibility of space, it might differ from it, for we might possibly concede, that in the latter case decomposition could never do away with all composition, because in that case all space, which besides has nothing independent of its own, would cease to be (which is impossible), while, even if all composition of matter should be done away with in thought, it would not seem compatible with the concept of a substance that nothing should remain of it, because substance is meant to be the subject of all composition, and ought to remain in its elements, although their connection in space, by which they become a body, should have been removed. But, what applies to a thing by itself, represented by a pure concept of the understanding, does not apply to what is called substance, as a phenomenon. This is not an absolute subject, but only a permanent image of sensibility, nothing in fact but intuition, [p. 526] in which nothing unconditioned can ever be met with.
But although this rule of the progress in infinitum applies without any doubt to the subdivision of a phenomenon, as a mere occupant of space, it does not apply to the number of the parts, separated already in a certain way in a given whole, which thus constitute a quantum discretum. To suppose that in every organised whole every part is again organised, and that by thus dissecting the parts in infinitum we should meet again and again with new organised parts, in fact that the whole is organised in infinitum, is a thought difficult to think, though it is possible to think that the parts of matter decomposed in infinitum might become organised. For the infinity of the division of a given phenomenon in space is founded simply on this, that by it divisibility only, that is, an entirely indefinite number of parts, is given, while the parts themselves can only be given and determined through the subdivision, in short, that the whole is not itself already divided. Thus the division can determine a number in it, which goes so far as we like to go, in the regressus of a division. In an organic body, on the contrary, organised in infinitum the whole is by that very concept represented as [p. 527] divided, and a number of parts, definite in itself, and yet infinite, is found in it, before every regressus of division. This would be self-contradictory, because we should have to consider this infinite convolute as a never-to-be-completed series (infinite), and yet as complete in its (organised) comprehension. Infinite division takes the phenomenon only as a quantum continuum, and is inseparable from the occupation of space, because in this very occupation lies the ground of endless divisibility. But as soon as anything is taken as a quantum discretum, the number of units in it is determined, and therefore at all times equal to a certain number. How far the organisation in an organised body may go, experience alone can show us; but though it never arrived with certainty at any unorganised part, they would still have to be admitted as lying within possible experience. It is different with the transcendental division of a phenomenon. How far that may extend is not a matter of experience, but a principle of reason, which never allows us to consider the empirical regressus in the decomposition of extended bodies, according to the nature of these phenomena, as at any time absolutely completed.
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Concluding Remarks on the Solution of the Transcendental-mathematical Ideas, and Preliminary Remark for the Solution of the Transcendental-dynamical Ideas [p. 528]
When exhibiting in a tabular form the antinomy of pure reason, through all the transcendental ideas, and indicating the ground of the conflict and the only means of removing it, by declaring both contradictory statements as false, we always represented the conditions as belonging to that which they conditioned, according to relations of space and time, this being the ordinary supposition of the common understanding, and in fact the source from which that conflict arose. In that respect all dialectical representations of the totality in a series of conditions of something given as conditioned were always of the same character. It was always a series in which the condition was connected with the conditioned, as members of the same series, both being thus homogeneous. In such a series the regressus was never conceived as completed, or, if that had to be done, one of the members, being in itself conditioned, had wrongly to be accepted as the first, and therefore as unconditioned. If not always the object, that is, the conditioned, yet the series of its conditions was always considered according [p. 529] to quantity only, and then the difficulty arose (which could not be removed by any compromise, but only by cutting the knot), that reason made it either too long or too short for the understanding, which could in neither case come up to the idea.
But in this we have overlooked an essential distinction between the objects, that is, the concepts of the understanding, which reason tries to raise into ideas. Two of them, according to the above table of the categories, imply a mathematical, the remaining two a dynamical synthesis of phenomena. Hitherto this overlooking was of no great importance, because, in the general representation of all transcendental ideas, we always remained under phenomenal conditions, and with regard to the two transcendental-mathematical ideas also, we had to do with no object but the phenomenal only. Now, however, as we have come to consider the dynamical concepts of the understanding, so far as they should be rendered adequate to the idea of reason, that distinction becomes important, and opens to us an entirely new insight into the character of the suit in which reason is implicated. That suit had before been dismissed, as resting on both sides on wrong presuppositions. Now, however, as there seems to be in the dynamical [p. 530] antinomy such a presupposition as may be compatible with the pretensions of reason, and as the judge himself supplies perhaps the deficiency of legal grounds, which had been misunderstood on both sides, the suit may possibly be adjusted, from this point of view, to the satisfaction of both parties, which was impossible in the conflict of the mathematical antinomy.
If we merely look to the extension of the series of conditions, and whether they are adequate to the idea, or whether the idea is too large or too small for them, the series are no doubt all homogeneous. But the concept of the understanding on which these ideas are founded contains either a synthesis of the homogeneous only (which is presupposed in the composition as well as the decomposition of every quantity), or of the heterogeneous also, which must at least be admitted as possible in the dynamical synthesis, both in a causal connection, and in the connection of the necessary with the contingent.
Thus it happens that none but sensuous conditions can enter into the mathematical connection of the series of phenomena, that is, conditions which themselves are part of the series; while the dynamical series of sensuous conditions admits also of a heterogeneous condition, which is not a part of the series, but, as merely intelligible, outside it; so that a certain satisfaction is given to reason [p. 531] by the unconditioned being placed before the phenomena, without disturbing the series of the phenomena, which must always be conditioned, or breaking it off, contrary to the principles of the understanding.
Owing to the dynamical ideas admitting of a condition of the phenomena outside their series, that is, a condition which itself is not a phenomenon, something arises which is totally different from the result of the mathematical1 antinomy. The result of that antinomy was, that both the contradictory dialectical statements had to be declared false. The throughout conditioned character, however, of the dynamical series, which is inseparable from them as phenomena, if connected with the empirically unconditioned, but at the same time not sensuous condition, may give satisfaction to the understanding on one, and the reason on the other side,2 because the dialectical arguments which, in some way or other, required unconditioned totality in mere phenomena, vanish; while the [p. 532] propositions of reason, if thus amended, may both be true. This cannot be the case with the cosmological ideas, which refer only to a mathematically unconditioned unity, because with them no condition can be found in the series of phenomena which is not itself a phenomenon, and as such constitutes one of the links of the series.
Solution of the Cosmological Ideas with Regard to the Totality of the Derivation of Cosmical Events from their Causes
We can conceive two kinds of causality only with reference to events, causality either of nature or of freedom. The former is the connection of one state in the world of sense with a preceding state, on which it follows according to a rule. As the causality of phenomena depends on conditions of time, and as the preceding state, if it had always existed, could not have produced an effect, which first takes place in time, it follows that the causality of the cause of that which happens or arises must, according to the principle of the understanding, have itself arisen and require a cause.
By freedom, on the contrary, in its cosmological [p. 533] meaning, I understand the faculty of beginning a state spontaneously. Its causality, therefore, does not depend, according to the law of nature, on another cause, by which it is determined in time. In this sense freedom is a purely transcendental idea, which, first, contains nothing derived from experience, and, secondly, the object of which cannot be determined in any experience; because it is a general rule, even of the possibility of all experience, that everything which happens has a cause, and that therefore the causality also of the cause, which itself has happened or arisen, must again have a cause. In this manner the whole field of experience, however far it may extend, has been changed into one great whole of nature. As, however, it is impossible in this way to arrive at an absolute totality of the conditions in causal relations, reason creates for itself the idea of spontaneity, or the power of beginning by itself, without an antecedent cause determining it to action, according to the law of causal connection.
It is extremely remarkable, that the practical concept of freedom is founded on the transcendental idea of freedom, which constitutes indeed the real difficulty which at all times has surrounded the question of the possibility of freedom. Freedom, in its practical sense, is the [p. 534] independence of our (arbitrary) will from the coercion through sensuous impulses. Our (arbitrary) will is sensuous, so far as it is affected pathologically (by sensuous impulses); it is called animal (arbitrium brutum), if necessitated pathologically. The human will is certainly sensuous, an arbitrium sensitivum, but not brutum, but liberum, because sensuous impulses do not necessitate its action, but there is in man a faculty of determination, independent of the necessitation through sensuous impulses.
It can easily be seen that, if all causality in the world of sense belonged to nature, every event would be determined in time through another, according to necessary laws. As therefore the phenomena, in determining the will, would render every act necessary as their natural effect, the annihilation of transcendental freedom would at the same time destroy all practical freedom. Practical freedom presupposes that, although something has not happened, it ought to have happened, and that its cause therefore had not that determining force among phenomena, which could prevent the causality of our will from producing, independently of those natural causes, and even contrary to their force and influence, something determined in the order of time, according to empirical laws, and from originating entirely by itself a series of events.
What happens here is what happens generally [p. 535] in the conflict of reason venturing beyond the limits of possible experience, namely, that the problem is not physiological, but transcendental. Hence the question of the possibility of freedom concerns no doubt psychology; but its solution, as it depends on dialectical arguments of pure reason, belongs entirely to transcendental philosophy. In order to enable that philosophy to give a satisfactory answer, which it cannot decline to do, I must first try to determine more accurately its proper procedure in this task.
If phenomena were things by themselves, and therefore space and time forms of the existence of things by themselves, the conditions together with the conditioned would always belong, as members, to one and the same series, and thus in our case also, the antinomy which is common to all transcendental ideas would arise, namely, that that series is inevitably too large or too small for the understanding. The dynamical concepts of reason, however, which we have to discuss in this and the following section, have this peculiarity that, as they are not concerned with an object, considered as a quantity, but only with its existence, we need take no account of the quantity of the series of conditions. All depends here only on [p. 536] the dynamical relation of conditions to the conditioned, so that in the question on nature and freedom we at once meet with the difficulty, whether freedom is indeed possible, and whether, if it is possible, it can exist together with the universality of the natural law of causality. The question in fact arises, whether it is a proper disjunctive proposition to say, that every effect in the world must arise, either from nature, or from freedom, or whether both cannot coexist in the same event in different relations. The correctness of the principle of the unbroken connection of all events in the world of sense, according to unchangeable natural laws, is firmly established by the transcendental Analytic, and admits of no limitation. The question, therefore, can only be whether, in spite of it, freedom also can be found in the same effect which is determined by nature; or whether freedom is entirely excluded by that inviolable rule? Here the common but fallacious supposition of the absolute reality of phenomena shows at once its pernicious influence in embarrassing reason. For if phenomena are things by themselves, freedom cannot be saved. Nature in that case is the complete and sufficient cause determining every event, and its condition is always contained in that series of phenomena only which, together with their effect, are necessary under the law of nature. If, on the contrary, phenomena are taken for [p. 537] nothing except what they are in reality, namely, not things by themselves, but representations only, which are connected with each other according to empirical laws, they must themselves have causes, which are not phenomenal. Such an intelligible cause, however, is not determined with reference to its causality by phenomena, although its effects become phenomenal, and can thus be determined by other phenomena. That intelligible cause, therefore, with its causality, is outside the series, though its effects are to be found in the series of empirical conditions. The effect therefore can, with reference to its intelligible cause, be considered as free, and yet at the same time, with reference to phenomena, as resulting from them according to the necessity of nature; a distinction which, if thus represented, in a general and entirely abstract form, may seem extremely subtle and obscure, but will become clear in its practical application. Here I only wished to remark that, as the unbroken connection of all phenomena in the context (woof) of nature, is an unalterable law, it would necessarily destroy all freedom, if we were to defend obstinately the reality of phenomena. Those, therefore, who follow the common opinion on this subject, have never been able to reconcile nature and freedom.
Possibility of a Causality through Freedom, in Harmony with the Universal Law of Natural Necessity [p. 538]
Whatever in an object of the senses is not itself phenomenal, I call intelligible. If, therefore, what in the world of sense must be considered as phenomenal, possesses in itself a faculty which is not the object of sensuous intuition, but through which it can become the cause of phenomena, the causality of that being may be considered from two sides, as intelligible in its action, as the causality of a thing by itself, and as sensible in the effects of the action, as the causality of a phenomenon in the world of sense. Of the faculty of such a being we should have to form both an empirical and an intellectual concept of its causality, both of which consist together in one and the same effect. This twofold way of conceiving the faculty of an object of the senses does not contradict any of the concepts which we have to form of phenomena and of a possible experience. For as all phenomena, not being things by themselves, must have for their foundation a transcendental object, determining them as mere representations, there is nothing to prevent us from attributing to that transcendental object, besides the [p. 539] quality through which it becomes phenomenal, a causality also which is not phenomenal, although its effect appears in the phenomenon. Every efficient cause, however, must have a character, that is, a rule according to which it manifests its causality, and without which it would not be a cause. According to this we should have in every subject of the world of sense, first, an empirical character, through which its acts, as phenomena, stand with other phenomena in an unbroken connection, according to permanent laws of nature, and could be derived from them as their conditions, and in connection with them form the links of one and the same series in the order of nature. Secondly, we should have to allow to it an intelligible character also, by which, it is true, it becomes the cause of the same acts as phenomena, but which itself is not subject to any conditions of sensibility, and never phenomenal. We might call the former the character of such a thing as a phenomenon, in the latter the character of the thing by itself.
According to its intelligible character, this active subject would not depend on conditions of time, for time is only the condition of phenomena, and not of things by themselves. In it no act would arise or perish, [p. 540] neither would it be subject therefore to the law of determination in time and of all that is changeable, namely, that everything which happens must have its cause in the phenomena (of the previous state). In one word its causality, so far as it is intelligible, would not have a place in the series of empirical conditions by which the event is rendered necessary in the world of sense. It is true that that intelligible character could never be known immediately, because we cannot perceive anything, except so far as it appears, but it would nevertheless have to be conceived, according to the empirical character, as we must always admit in thought a transcendental object, as the foundation of phenomena, though we know nothing of what it is by itself.
In its empirical character, therefore, that subject, as a phenomenon, would submit, according to all determining laws, to a causal nexus, and in that respect it would be nothing but a part of the world of sense, the effects of which, like every other phenomenon, would arise from nature without fail. As soon as external phenomena began to influence it, and as soon as its empirical character, that is the law of its causality, had been known through experience, all its actions ought to admit of explanation, according to the laws of nature, and all that is requisite for its complete and necessary determination would be found in a possible experience.
In its intelligible character, however (though [p. 541] we could only have a general concept of it), the same subject would have to be considered free from all influence of sensibility, and from all determination through phenomena: and as in it, so far as it is a noumenon, nothing happens, and no change which requires dynamical determination of time, and therefore no connection with phenomena as causes, can exist, that active being would so far be quite independent and free in its acts from all natural necessity, which can exist in the world of sense only. One might say of it with perfect truth that it originates its effects in the world of sense by itself, though the act does not begin in itself. And this would be perfectly true, though the effects in the world of sense need not therefore originate by themselves, because in it they are always determined previously through empirical conditions in the previous time, though only by means of the empirical character (which is the phenomenal appearance of the intelligible character), and therefore impossible, except as a continuation of the series of natural causes. In this way freedom and nature, each in its complete signification, might exist together and without any conflict in the same action, according as we refer it to its intelligible or to its sensible cause.
Explanation of the Cosmological Idea of Freedom in Connection with the General Necessity of Nature [p. 542]
I thought it best to give first this sketch of the solution of our transcendental problem, so that the course which reason has to adopt in its solution might be more clearly surveyed. We shall now proceed to explain more fully the points on which the decision properly rests, and examine each by itself.
The law of nature, that everything which happens has a cause, — that the causality of that cause, that is, its activity (as it is anterior in time, and, with regard to an effect which has arisen, cannot itself have always existed, but must have happened at some time), must have its cause among the phenomena by which it is determined, and that therefore all events in the order of nature are empirically determined, this law, I say, through which alone phenomena become nature and objects of experience, is a law of the understanding, which can on no account be surrendered, and from which no single phenomenon can be exempted; because in doing this we should place it outside all possible experience, separate from all objects of possible [p. 543] experience, and change it into a mere fiction of the mind or a cobweb of the brain.
But although this looks merely like a chain of causes, which in the regressus to its conditions admits of no absolute totality, this difficulty does not detain us in the least, because it has already been removed in the general criticism of the antinomy of reason when, starting from the series of phenomena, it aims at the unconditioned. Were we to yield to the illusion of transcendental realism, we should have neither nature nor freedom. The question therefore is, whether, if we recognise in the whole series of events nothing but natural necessity, we may yet regard the same event which on one side is an effect of nature only, on the other side, as an effect of freedom; or whether there is a direct contradiction between these two kinds of causality?
There can certainly be nothing among phenomenal causes that could originate a series absolutely and by itself. Every action, as a phenomenon, so far as it produces an event, is itself an event, presupposing another state, in which its cause can be discovered; and thus everything that happens is only a continuation of the series, and no beginning, happening by itself, is possible in it. Actions of natural causes in the succession of time are therefore themselves effects, which likewise [p. 544] presuppose causes in the series of time. A spontaneous and original action by which something takes place, which did not exist before, cannot be expected from the causal nexus of phenomena.
But is it really necessary that, if effects are phenomena, the causality of their cause, which cause itself is phenomenal, could be nothing but empirical; or is it not possible, although for every phenomenal effect a connection with its cause, according to the laws of empirical causality, is certainly required, that empirical causality itself could nevertheless, without breaking in the least its connection with the natural causes, represent an effect of a non-empirical and intelligible causality, that is, of a caused action, original in respect to phenomena, and in so far not phenomenal; but, with respect to this faculty, intelligible, although, as a link in the chain of nature, to be regarded as entirely belonging to the world of sense?
We require the principle of the causality of phenomena among themselves, in order to be able to look for and to produce natural conditions, that is, phenomenal causes of natural events. If this is admitted and not weakened by any exceptions, the understanding, which in its empirical employment recognises in all events nothing but nature, and is quite justified in doing so, has really all [p. 545] that it can demand, and the explanations of physical phenomena may proceed without let or hindrance. The understanding would not be wronged in the least, if we assumed, though it be a mere fiction, that some among the natural causes have a faculty which is intelligible only, and whose determination to activity does not rest on empirical conditions, but on mere grounds of the intellect, if only the phenomenal activity of that cause is in accordance with all the laws of empirical causality. For in this way the active subject, as causa phaenomenon, would be joined with nature through the indissoluble dependence of all its actions, and the noumenon1 only of that subject (with all its phenomenal causality) would contain certain conditions which, if we want to ascend from the empirical to the transcendental object, would have to be considered as intelligible only For, if only we follow the rule of nature in that which may be the cause among phenomena, it is indifferent to us what kind of ground of those phenomena, and of their connection, may be conceived to exist in the transcendental subject, which is empirically unknown to us. This intelligible ground does not touch the empirical questions, but concerns only, as it would seem, the thought in the pure understanding; and although the effects of that thought and action of the pure understanding may be discovered [p. 546] in the phenomena, these have nevertheless to be completely explained from their phenomenal cause, according to the laws of nature, by taking their empirical character as the highest ground of explanation, and passing by the intelligible character, which is the transcendental cause of the other, as entirely unknown, except so far as it is indicated by the empirical, as its sensuous sign. Let us apply this to experience. Man is one among the phenomena of the world of sense, and in so far one of the natural causes the causality of which must be subject to empirical laws. As such he must therefore have an empirical character, like all other objects of nature. We perceive it through the forces and faculties which he shows in his actions and effects. In the lifeless or merely animal nature we see no ground for admitting any faculty, except as sensuously conditioned. Man, however, who knows all the rest of nature through his senses only, knows himself through mere apperception also, and this in actions and internal determinations, which he cannot ascribe to the impressions of the senses. Man is thus to himself partly a phenomenon, partly, however, namely with reference to certain faculties, a purely intelligible object, because the actions of these faculties cannot be ascribed to the receptivity of sensibility. We [p. 547] call these faculties understanding and reason. It is the latter, in particular, which is entirely distinguished from all empirically conditioned forces or faculties, because it weighs its objects according to ideas, and determines the understanding accordingly, which then makes an empirical use of its (by themselves, however pure) concepts.
That our reason possesses causality, or that we at least represent to ourselves such a causality in it, is clear from the imperatives which, in all practical matters, we impose as rules on our executive powers. The ought expresses a kind of necessity and connection with causes, which we do not find elsewhere in the whole of nature. The understanding can know in nature only what is present, past, or future. It is impossible that anything in it ought to be different from what it is in reality, in all these relations of time. Nay, if we only look at the course of nature, the ought has no meaning whatever. We cannot ask, what ought to be in nature, as little as we can ask, what qualities a circle ought to possess. We can only ask what happens in it, and what qualities that which happens has.
This ought expresses a possible action, the ground of which cannot be anything but a mere concept; while in every merely natural action the ground must [p. 548] always be a phenomenon. Now it is quite true that the action to which the ought applies must be possible under natural conditions, but these natural conditions do not affect the determination of the will itself, but only its effects and results among phenomena. There may be ever so many natural grounds which impel me to will and ever so many sensuous temptations, but they can never produce the ought, but only a willing which is always conditioned, but by no means necessary, and to which the ought, pronounced by reason, opposes measure, ay, prohibition and authority. Whether it be an object of the senses merely (pleasure), or of pure reason (the good), reason does not yield to the impulse that is given empirically, and does not follow the order of things, as they present themselves as phenomena, but frames for itself, with perfect spontaneity, a new order according to ideas to which it adapts the empirical conditions, and according to which it declares actions to be necessary, even though they have not taken place, and, maybe, never will take place. Yet it is presupposed that reason may have causality with respect to them, for otherwise no effects in experience could be expected to result from these ideas.
Now let us take our stand here and admit it at least as possible, that reason really possesses causality [p. 549] with reference to phenomena. In that case, reason though it be, it must show nevertheless an empirical character, because every cause presupposes a rule according to which certain phenomena follow as effects, and every rule requires in the effects a homogeneousness, on which the concept of cause (as a faculty) is founded. This, so far as it is derived from mere phenomena, may be called the empirical character, which is permanent, while the effects, according to a diversity of concomitant, and in part, restraining conditions, appear in changeable forms.
Every man therefore has an empirical character of his (arbitrary) will, which is nothing but a certain causality of his reason, exhibiting in its phenomenal actions and effects a rule, according to which one may infer the motives of reason and its actions, both in kind and in degree, and judge of the subjective principles of his will. As that empirical character itself must be derived from phenomena, as an effect, and from their rule which is supplied by experience, all the acts of a man, so far as they are phenomena, are determined from his empirical character and from the other concomitant causes, according to the order of nature; and if we could investigate all the manifestations of his will to the very bottom, there would be not a single human action which we could not predict [p. 550] with certainty and recognise from its preceding conditions as necessary. There is no freedom therefore with reference to this empirical character, and yet it is only with reference to it that we can consider man, when we are merely observing, and, as is the case in anthropology, trying to investigate the motive causes of his actions physiologically.
If, however, we consider the same actions with reference to reason, not with reference to speculative reason, in order to explain their origin, but solely so far as reason is the cause which produces them; in one word, if we compare actions with reason, with reference to practical purposes, we find a rule and order, totally different from the order of nature. For, from this point of view, everything, it may be, ought not to have happened, which according to the course of nature has happened, and according to its empirical grounds, was inevitable. And sometimes we find, or believe at least that we find, that the ideas of reason have really proved their causality with reference to human actions as phenomena, and that these actions have taken place, not because they were determined by empirical causes, but by the causes of reason.
Now supposing one could say that reason [p. 551] possesses causality in reference to phenomena, could the action of reason be called free in that case, as it is accurately determined by the empirical character (the disposition) and rendered necessary by it? That character again is determined in the intelligible character (way of thinking). The latter, however, we do not know, but signify only through phenomena, which in reality give us immediately a knowledge of the disposition (empirical character) only.1 An action, so far as it is to be attributed to the way of thinking as its cause, does nevertheless not result from it according to empirical laws, that is, it is not preceded by the conditions of pure reason, but only by its effects in the phenomenal form of the internal sense. Pure reason, as a simple intelligible faculty, is not subject to the form of time, or to the conditions of the succession of time. The causality of reason in its intelligible character does not arise or begin at a certain time in order to produce an effect; for in that case it would be subject to the natural law of phenomena, which determines [p. 552] all causal series in time, and its causality would then be nature and not freedom. What, therefore, we can say is, that if reason can possess causality with reference to phenomena, it is a faculty through which the sensuous condition of an empirical series of effects first begins. For the condition that lies in reason is not sensuous, and therefore does itself not begin. Thus we get what we missed in all empirical series, namely, that the condition of a successive series of events should itself be empirically unconditioned. For here the condition is really outside the series of phenomena (in the intelligible), and therefore not subject to any sensuous condition, nor to any temporal determination through preceding causes.
Nevertheless the same cause belongs also, in another respect, to the series of phenomena. Man himself is a phenomenon. His will has an empirical character, which is the (empirical) cause of all his actions. There is no condition, determining man according to this character, that is not contained in the series of natural effects and subject to their law, according to which there can be no empirically unconditioned causality of anything that happens in time. No given action therefore (as it can be perceived as a phenomenon only) can begin absolutely by itself. Of pure reason, however, we cannot [p. 553] say that the state in which it determines the will is preceded by another in which that state itself is determined. For as reason itself is not a phenomenon, and not subject to any of the conditions of sensibility, there exists in it, even in reference to its causality, no succession of time, and the dynamical law of nature, which determines the succession of time according to rules, cannot be applied to it.
Reason is therefore the constant condition of all free actions by which man takes his place in the phenomenal world. Every one of them is determined beforehand in his empirical character, before it becomes actual. With regard to the intelligible character, however, of which the empirical is only the sensuous schema, there is neither before nor after; and every action, without regard to the temporal relation which connects it with other phenomena, is the immediate effect of the intelligible character of pure reason. That reason therefore acts freely, without being determined dynamically, in the chain of natural causes, by external or internal conditions, anterior in time. That freedom must then not only be regarded negatively, as independence of empirical conditions (for in that case the faculty of reason would cease to be a cause of phenomena), but should be determined positively also, as the faculty of beginning spontaneously a series of events. Hence nothing begins in reason itself, [p. 554] and being itself the unconditioned condition of every free action, reason admits of no condition antecedent in time above itself, while nevertheless its effect takes its beginning in the series of phenomena, though it can never constitute in that series an absolutely first beginning.
In order to illustrate the regulative principle of reason by an example of its empirical application, not in order to confirm it (for such arguments are useless for transcendental propositions), let us take a voluntary action, for example, a malicious lie, by which a man has produced a certain confusion in society, and of which we first try to find out the motives, and afterwards try to determine how far it and its consequences may be imputed to the offender. With regard to the first point, one has first to follow up his empirical character to its very sources, which are to be found in wrong education, bad society, in part also in the viciousness of a natural disposition, and a nature insensible to shame, or ascribed to frivolity and heedlessness, not omitting the occasioning causes at the time. In all this the procedure is exactly the same as in the investigation of a series of determining causes of a given natural effect. But although one believes that the act was thus determined, one nevertheless [p. 555] blames the offender, and not on account of his unhappy natural disposition, not on account of influencing circumstances, not even on acconnt of his former course of life, because one supposes one might leave entirely out of account what that course of life may have been, and consider the past series of conditions as having never existed, and the act itself as totally unconditioned by previous states, as if the offender had begun with it a new series of effects, quite by himself. This blame is founded on a law of reason, reason being considered as a cause which, independent of all the before-mentioned empirical conditions, would and should have determined the behaviour of the man otherwise. Nay, we do not regard the causality of reason as a concurrent agency only, but as complete in itself, even though the sensuous motives did not favour, but even oppose it. The action is imputed to a man’s intelligible character. At the moment when he tells the lie, the guilt is entirely his; that is, we regard reason, in spite of all empirical conditions of the act, as completely free, and the act has to be imputed entirely to a fault of reason.
Such an imputation clearly shows that we imagine that reason is not affected at all by the influences of the senses, and that it does not change (although its manifestations, that is the mode in which it shows itself by its [p. 556] effects, do change): that in it no state precedes as determining a following state, in fact, that reason does not belong to the series of sensuous conditions which render phenomena necessary, according to laws of nature. Reason, it is supposed, is present in all the actions of man, in all circumstances of time, and always the same; but it is itself never in time, never in a new state in which it was not before; it is determining, never determined. We cannot ask, therefore, why reason has not determined itself differently, but only why it has not differently determined the phenomena by its causality. And here no answer is really possible. For a different intelligible character would have given a different empirical character, and if we say that, in spite of the whole of his previous course of life, the offender could have avoided the lie, this only means that it was in the power of reason, and that reason, in its causality, is subject to no phenomenal and temporal conditions, and lastly, that the difference of time, though it makes a great difference in phenomena and their relation to each other, can, as these are neither things nor causes by themselves, produce no difference of action in reference to reason.
We thus see that, in judging of voluntary [p. 557] actions, we can, so far as their causality is concerned, get only so far as the intelligible cause, but not beyond. We can see that that cause is free, that it determines as independent of sensibility, and therefore is capable of being the sensuously unconditioned condition of phenomena. To explain why that intelligible character should, under present circumstances, give these phenomena and this empirical character, and no other, transcends all the powers of our reason, nay, all its rights of questioning, as if we were to ask why the transcendental object of our external sensuous intuition gives us intuition in space only and no other. But the problem which we have to solve does not require us to ask or to answer such questions. Our problem was, whether freedom is contradictory to natural necessity in one and the same action: and this we have sufficiently answered by showing that freedom may have relation to a very different kind of conditions from those of nature, so that the law of the latter does not affect the former, and both may exist independent of, and undisturbed by, each other.
* * * * * * * *
It should be clearly understood that, in what we have said, we had no intention of establishing the reality of freedom, as one of the faculties which contain [p. 558] the cause of the phenomenal appearances in our world of sense. For not only would this have been no transcendental consideration at all, which is concerned with concepts only, but it could never have succeeded, because from experience we can never infer anything but what must be represented in thought according to the laws of experience. It was not even our intention to prove the possibility of freedom, for in this also we should not have succeeded, because from mere concepts a priori we can never know the possibility of any real ground or any causality. We have here treated freedom as a transcendental idea only, which makes reason imagine that it can absolutely begin the series of phenomenal conditions through what is sensuously unconditioned, but by which reason becomes involved in an antinomy with its own laws, which it had prescribed to the empirical use of the understanding. That this antinomy rests on a mere illusion, and that nature does not contradict the causality of freedom, that was the only thing which we could prove, and cared to prove.
Solution of the Cosmological Idea of the Totality of the Dependence of Phenomena, with Regard to their Existence in General [p. 559]
In the preceding article we considered the changes in the world of sense in their dynamical succession, every one being subordinate to another as its cause. Now, however, the succession of states is to serve only as our guide in order to arrive at an existence that might be the highest condition of all that is subject to change, namely, the necessary Being. We are concerned here, not with the unconditioned causality, but with the unconditioned existence of the substance itself. Therefore the succession which we have before us is properly one of concepts and not of intuitions, so far as the one is the condition of the other.
It is easy to see, however, that as everything comprehended under phenomena is changeable, and therefore conditioned in its existence, there cannot be, in the whole series of dependent existence, any unconditioned link the existence of which might be considered as absolutely necessary, and that therefore, if phenomena were things by themselves, and their condition accordingly belonged with the conditioned always to one and the same series of intuitions, a necessary being, as the condition of [p. 560] the existence of the phenomena of the world of sense, could never exist.
The dynamical regressus has this peculiar distinction as compared with the mathematical, that, as the latter is only concerned with the composition of parts in forming a whole or the division of a whole into its parts, the conditions of that series must always be considered as parts of it, and therefore as homogeneous and as phenomena, while in the dynamical regressus, where we are concerned, not with the possibility of an unconditioned whole, consisting of a number of given parts, or of an unconditioned part belonging to a given whole, but with the derivation of a state from its cause, or of the contingent existence of the substance itself from the necessary substance, it is not required that the condition should form one and the same empirical series with the conditioned.
There remains therefore to us another escape from this apparent antinomy: because both conflicting propositions might, under different aspects, be true at the same time. That is, all things of the world of sense might be entirely contingent, and have therefore an empirically conditioned existence only, though there might nevertheless be a nonempirical condition of the whole series, that is, an unconditionally necessary being. For this, as an intelligible condition, would not belong to the series, as a link of it (not even as the highest link), nor would it render any link of that series empirically unconditioned, [p. 561] but would leave the whole world of sense, in all its members, in its empirically conditioned existence. This manner of admitting an unconditioned existence as the ground of phenomena would differ from the empirically unconditioned causality (freedom), treated of in the preceding article, because, with respect to freedom, the thing itself, as cause (substantia phaenomenon), belonged to the series of conditions, and its causality only was represented as intelligible, while here, on the contrary, the necessary being has to be conceived as lying outside the series of the world of sense (as ens extramundanum), and as purely intelligible, by which alone it could be guarded against itself becoming subject to the law of contingency and dependence applying to all phenomena.
The regulative principle of reason, with regard to our present problem, is therefore this, that everything in the world of sense has an empirically conditioned existence, and that in it there is never any unconditioned necessity with reference to any quality; that there is no member in the series of conditions of which one ought not to expect, and as far as possible to seek, the empirical condition in some possible experience; and that we are never justified in deriving any existence from a condition outside the empirical series, or in considering it as independent and self-subsistent in the series itself; without however denying in the least that the whole [p. 562] series may depend on some intelligible being, which is free therefore from all empirical conditions, and itself contains rather the ground of the possibility of all those phenomena.
By this we by no means intend to prove the unconditionally necessary existence of such a being, or even to demonstrate the possibility of a purely intelligible condition of the existence of the phenomena of the world of sense. But as on the one side we limit reason, lest it should lose the thread of the empirical condition and lose itself in transcendent explanations incapable of being represented in concreto, thus, on the other side, we want to limit the law of the purely empirical use of the understanding, lest it should venture to decide on the possibility of things in general, and declare the intelligible to be impossible, because it has been shown to be useless for the explanation of phenomena. What is shown by this is simply this, that the complete contingency of all things in nature and of all their (empirical) conditions, may well coexist with the arbitrary presupposition of a necessary, though purely intelligible condition, and that, as there is no real contradiction between these two views, they may well both be true. Granted even that such an absolutely necessary being, as postulated by the understanding, [p. 563] is impossible in itself, we still maintain that this cannot be concluded from the general contingency and dependence of all that belongs to the world of sense, nor from the principle that we ought not to stop at any single member so far as it is contingent, and appeal to a cause outside the world. Reason follows its own course in its empirical, and again a peculiar course in its transcendental use.
The world of sense contains nothing but phenomena, and these are mere representations which are always sensuously conditioned. As our objects are never things by themselves, we need not be surprised that we are never justified in making a jump from any member of the several empirical series, beyond the connection of sensibility, as if they were things by themselves, existing apart from their transcendental ground, and which we might leave behind in order to seek for the cause of their existence outside them. This, no doubt, would have to be done in the end with contingent things, but not with mere representations of things, the contingency of which is itself a phenomenon, and cannot lead to any other regressus but that which determines the phenomena, that is, which is empirical. To conceive, however, an intelligible ground of phenomena, that is, of the world of sense, and to conceive it as freed from the contingency of the latter, does not run counter either to the unlimited empirical regressus in the series of phenomena, nor to their general contingency. And this is really the only thing which [p. 564] we had to do in order to remove this apparent antinomy, and which could be done in this wise only. For if every condition of everything conditioned (according to its existence) is sensuous, and therefore belongs to the series, that series is again conditioned (as shown in the antithesis of the fourth antinomy). Either therefore there would remain a conflict with reason, which postulates the unconditioned, or this would have to be placed outside the series, i.e. in the intelligible, the necessity of which neither requires nor admits of any empirical condition, and is therefore, as regards phenomena, unconditionally necessary.
The empirical use of reason (with regard to the conditions of existence in the world of sense) is not affected by the admission of a purely intelligible being, but ascends, according to the principle of a general contingency, from empirical conditions to higher ones, which again are empirical. This regulative principle, however, does not exclude the admission of an intelligible cause not comprehended in the series, when we come to the pure use of reason (with reference to ends or aims). For in this case, an intelligible cause only means the transcendental, and, to us, unknown ground of the possibility of the sensuous series in general, and the existence of this, independent of all conditions of the sensuous series, and, in reference to it, unconditionally, necessary, is by [p. 565] no means opposed to the unlimited contingency of the former, nor to the never-ending regressus in the series of empirical conditions.
Concluding Remark on the Whole Antinomy of Pure Reason
So long as it is only the totality of the conditions in the world of sense and the interest it can have to reason, that form the object of the concepts of our reason, our ideas are no doubt transcendental, but yet cosmological. If, however, we place the unconditioned (with which we are chiefly concerned) in that which is entirely outside the world of sense, therefore beyond all possible experience, our ideas become transcendent: for they serve not only for the completion of the empirical use of the understanding (which always remains an idea that must be obeyed, though it can never be fully carried out), but they separate themselves entirely from it, and create to themselves objects the material of which is not taken from experience, and the objective reality of which does not rest on the completion of the empirical series, but on pure concepts a priori. Such transcendent ideas have a merely intelligible object, which may indeed be admitted as a transcendental object, of which, for the rest, we know nothing, but for which, if we wish to conceive it as a thing determined by its internal distinguishing predicates, we have neither [p. 566] grounds of possibility (as independent of all concepts of experience) nor the slightest justification on our side in admitting it as an object, and which, therefore, is a mere creation of our thoughts. Nevertheless that cosmological idea, which owes its origin to the fourth antinomy, urges us on to take that step. For the conditioned existence of all phenomena, not being founded in itself, requires us to look out for something different from all phenomena, that is, for an intelligible object in which there should be no more contingency. As, however, if we have once allowed ourselves to admit, outside the field of the whole of sensibility, a reality existing by itself, phenomena can only be considered as contingent modes of representing intelligible objects on the part of beings which themselves are intelligences,1 nothing remains to us, in order to form some kind of concept of intelligible things, of which in themselves we have not the slightest knowledge, but analogy, applied to the concepts of experience. As we know the contingent by experience only, but have here to deal with things which are not meant to be objects of experience, we shall have to derive our knowledge of them from what is necessary in itself, that is, from pure concepts of things in general. Thus the first step which we take [p. 567] outside the world of sense, obliges us to begin our new knowledge with the investigation of the absolutely necessary Being, and to derive from its concepts the concepts of all things, so far as they are intelligible only; and this we shall attempt to do in the next chapter.
[1 ]The absolute total of a series of conditions of anything given as conditioned, is itself always unconditioned; because there are no conditions beyond on which it could depend. Such an absolute total of a series is, however, an idea only, or rather a problematical concept, the possibility of which has to be investigated with reference to the mode in which the unconditioned, that is, in reality, the transcendental idea with which we are concerned, may be contained in it.
[1 ]Nature, if taken adjective (formaliter), is meant to express the whole complex of the determinations of a thing, according to an inner principle of causality; while, if taken substantive (materialiter), it denotes the totality of phenomena, so far as they are all held together by an internal principle of causality. In the former meaning we speak of the nature of liquid matter, of fire, etc., using the word adjective; while, if we speak of the objects of nature, or of natural objects, we have in our mind the idea of a subsisting whole.
[1 ]The antinomies follow each other, according to the order of the transcendental ideas mentioned before [p. 335 = p. 415].
[1 ]We may perceive an indefinite quantum as a whole, if it is included in limits, without having to build up its totality by means of measuring, that is, by the successive synthesis of its parts. The limits themselves determine its completeness, by cutting off everything beyond.
[1 ]The concept of totality is in this case nothing but the representation of the completed synthesis of its parts, because, as we cannot deduce the concept from the intuition of the whole (this being in this case impossible), we can conceive it only through the synthesis of its parts, up to the completion of the infinite, at least in the idea.
[1 ]Space is merely the form of external intuition (formal intuition) and not a real object that can be perceived by external intuition. Space, as prior to all things which determine it (fill or limit it), or rather which give an empirical intuition determined by its form, is, under the name of absolute space, nothing but a mere possibility of external phenomena, so far as they either exist already, or can be added to given phenomena. Empirical intuition, therefore, is not a compound of phenomena and of space (perception and empty intuition). The one is not a correlate of the other in a synthesis, but the two are only connected as matter and form in one and the same empirical intuition. If we try to separate one from the other, and to place space outside all phenomena, we arrive at a number of empty determinations of external intuition, which, however, can never be possible perceptions; for instance, motion or rest of the world in an infinite empty space, i.e. a determination of the mutual relation of the two, which can never be perceived, and is therefore nothing but the predicate of a mere idea.
[1 ]This quantum contains therefore a multitude (of given units) which is greater than any number; this is the mathematical concept of the infinite.
[1 ]It is easily seen that what we wish to say is that empty space, so far as limited by phenomena, that is, space within the world, does not at least contradict transcendental principles, and may be admitted, therefore, so far as they are concerned, though by this its possibility is not asserted.
[1 ]Rosenkranz thinks that atomus is here used intentionally by Kant as a masculine, to distinguish it from the atomon, translated by scholastic philosophers as inseparable, indiscernible, simplex, etc., while with the Greek philosophers atomus is feminine. Erdman, however, has shown that Kant has used atomus elsewhere also as masculine.
[2 ]Antithesis is a misprint.
[1 ]As formal condition of the possibility of changes, time is no doubt objectively prior to them (read dissen instead of disser); subjectively, however, and in the reality of our consciousness the representation of time, like every other, is occasioned solely by perceptions.
[1 ]The word to begin is used in two senses. The first is active when the cause begins, or starts (infit), a series of states as its effect. The second is passive (or neuter) when the causality begins in the cause itself (fit). I reason here from the former to the latter meaning.
[1 ]It is, however, doubtful whether Epicurus did ever teach these principles as objective assertions. If he meant them to be no more than maxims for the speculative use of reason, he would have shown thereby a truer philosophical spirit than any of the philosophers on antiquity. The principles that in explaining phenomena we must proceed as if the field of investigation were enclosed by no limit or beginning of the world; that the material of the world should be accepted as it must be, if we want to learn anything about it from experience; that there is no origination of events except as determined by invariable laws of nature; and, lastly, that we must not appeal to a cause distinct from the world, all these are still perfectly true, though seldom observed in enlarging the field of speculative philosophy, or in discovering the principles of morality, independently of foreign aid. It is not permissible that those who wish only to ignore those dogmatical propositions, while still engaged in mere speculation, should be accused of wishing to deny them.
[1 ]Though we cannot answer the question, what kind of quality a transcendental object may possess, or what it is, we are well able to answer that the question itself is nothing, because it is without an object. All questions, therefore, of transcendental psychology are answerable, and have been answered, for they refer to the transcendental subject of all internal phenomena, which itself is not phenomenal, and not given as an object, and possesses none of the conditions which make any of the categories (and it is to them that the question really refers) applicable to it. We have, therefore, here a case where the common saying applies, that no answer is as good as an answer, that is, that the question regarding the quality of something which cannot be conceived by any definite predicates, being completely beyond the sphere of objects, is entirely null and void.
[1 ]Read keine in original, not eine.
[1 ]See Supplement XXVIII.
[1 ]This cosmical series can therefore be neither greater nor smaller than the possible empirical regressus on which alone its concept rests. And as this can give neither a definite infinite, nor a definite finite (absolutely limited), it becomes clear that we cannot accept the quantity of the world, either as finite or as infinite, because the regressus (by which it is represented) admits of neither the one nor the other.
[1 ]It will have been observed that the argument has here been carried on in a very different way from the dogmatical argument, which was presented before, in the antithesis of the first antinomy. There we took the world of sense, according to the common and dogmatical view, as a thing given by itself, in its totality, before any regressus: and we had denied to it, if it did not occupy all time and all space, any place at all in both. Hence the conclusion also was different from what it is here, for it went to the real infinity of the world.
[1 ]Mathematical, omitted in the First and Second Editions.
[2 ]The understanding admits of no condition among phenomena, which should itself be empirically unconditioned. But if we might conceive an intelligible condition, that is to say, a condition, not belonging itself as a link to the series of phenomena, of something conditioned (as a phenomenon) without in the least interrupting the series of empirical conditions, such a condition might be admitted as empirically unconditioned, without interfering with the empirical continuous regressus.
[1 ]It seems better to read noumenon instead of phenomenon.
[1 ]The true morality of actions (merit or guilt), even that of our own conduct, remains therefore entirely hidden. Our imputations can refer to the empirical character only. How much of that may be the pure effect of freedom, how much should be ascribed to nature only, and to the faults of temperament, for which man is not responsible, or its happy constitution (merits fortunae), no one can discover, and no one can judge with perfect justice.
[1 ]After anzusehen, sind may be added for the sake of clearness, but it is often omitted in Kant’s style.