Front Page Titles (by Subject) Section VI: Transcendental Idealism as the Key to the Solution of Cosmological Dialectic - Critique of Pure Reason
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Section VI: Transcendental Idealism as the Key to the Solution of Cosmological Dialectic - 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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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.
[1 ]See Supplement XXVIII.