Exposition of Kant's Major Works
by Philip McPherson Rudisill
April 30, 2007 and last edited on June 21, 2012
This includes, in this order, the Critique of Pure Reason, Groundwork to the Metaphysic of Morals, Critique of Practical Reason and Religion Within The Bounds Of Bare Reason. When this has been completed and polished I intend to add also Kant's Critique of Judgement. This is a major task and is presently still a fragmented presentation, and will likely require several years to complete. A "nutshell" of this is available.
A tip for novices in Kantland
Based on what I know is coming in this developing exposition of Kant's thought, I suggest that the student give some attention to a different way of looking at the world. Normally when I spy a dog sitting ahead at the corner and then see him blur as I approach and then see a mailbox where the dog and the blur were, I recognize, and am consciousness of, being able to say (although I never both saying it or even thinking it): My eyes played a trick on me and I took the mailbox for a dog, because it has the appearance of a dog from that distance. But there is then another possible take on this, and that would be to take the appearances for things on their own, existing exactly in that way, where a physical dog morphs into a physical mail box. Just try to utilize this latter take for awhile. And think, when you spy something like this dog-mailbox-transformation, who would say what might follow next, e.g., a battleship or a rooster?
In order to get into such an alternative take on things, notice that things approach you as you approach them. And try looking down at your feet as you walk along and watching the earth beneath your gait moving as though a treadmill--but don't bump into something! See the brightening of the tree at dawn and ignore the presence of the sun and see the tree as it self growing brighter, as a thing on its own, literally and physically changing in its substance as a thing, much as a fire and the sun produce their own light. Think about how you might appear in the eye of a dog when you are dressing or undressing. Is this a metamorphosis? Is the thing on its own morphing (myself in pajamas) so that there is then another thing on its own (myself dressed)? And where the pictures of me clothed and then unclothed are similar even as I am similar to my brother and my father and sister. I'm not sure my dog would be surprised to see two of me at once, for he does so when I stand in front of the mirror. We are speaking here essentially of a Wonderland sort of world, where tiny doors at a distance could be discovered to be physically tiny doors close up. This is a world where appearances and the looks of things are treated as things on their own. Where a single finger, will insist upon splitting into two ghosts as it approaches your nose (if you are two-eyed).
Another suggestion. Notice how suddenly a face appears in the cloud or in the bushes, and then try wondering if the dogs and very young children might not also see such "creatures" and take them for real things that come into and go out of existence and can pop up anywhere without warning. What shall we call such a look at things? The animal look or take? Or perhaps the natural take, the take that nature takes, for it seems so certain that the things that appear on the retina of our eyes are real and just as they appear to us. It seems counterintuitive that we would not see these impressions on our eyes and our other sense organs as real things as they appear rather than simply representations of things.
One of the things that Kant is going to do in the Critique of Pure Reason is to examine how it is that we have the one take on the world and not the other. [One take can be called "real" and the other "illusion", the real seeing the products of the senses as merely representational and the other or illusionary taking and treating appearances for things on their own where things in physical fact get smaller at a distance and even sometimes go out of existence (and not just out of sight)]
What I hope to accomplish here is to open the student up to one of the problems that Kant is planning to solve, namely since all we ever have to deal with appears as an appearance in our eye (and sense organs), how in the world did we ever come to and accept the notion that there were something else, something which did not appear, but which made the picture of the thing be treated as just that, a picture, and not a real thing, but only the way the real thing appears to us, a representation of a real thing, but not the real thing itself. Obviously it is something that we ourselves dream up on our own, and so one of Kant's tasks here will be to show how it is that we can just dream up an object and find that it is a real object and that what we spy is a representation of this real object.. After Kant explains how this occurs he will be ready for his main task at hand, namely explaining the embarrassment of pure reason regarding the object that it dreams up and provides to the fray surrounding human knowledge.
So it will be worthwhile to try to experiment with taking the appearances all about us as real things. This then will give us the sense of Anschauung, our take on things which is not in the perceived object, but in the mind of the perceiver. And here there are two takes on things. And how is it that we are so sure (as we indeed are) that we have the "correct take" on things? As a hint: one enables us to unify all of our perceptions in a single consciousness by means of a posited nature-driven world, and the other does not. For what sense will it make to dispute with a man at a distance and declare to him in no certain terms that he has lowered his voice and is physically speaking softer than he was when closer and has also grown physically smaller. And for him to deny that would be an affront to common sense and thus likely insulting. Communication among beings who would look at things in this way would be very difficult. [See Captain Hook and the Rainbow.]
In a word: it will be worthwhile to practice the two different Anschauungen/takes/looks-at and take notice of the plethora of appearances/appearances/Erscheinungen that pop up here and there.
Critique of Pure Reason
inserted 1/17/10 and edited 3/28/11
Here we learn what Kant is all about and what his plan is. We are going to examine human knowledge and find and explain its foundations and its limitations. We will be especially interested on how it is that pure reason or metaphysics seems on the one hand to be a science and on the other hand flails about in conflicts and confusion.
We will examine two sciences, the mathematical and the natural, and discover their foundations. We don't need this information to certify either science, for they stand firm as self evident. But we do need to know their foundations in order then to see why it is that when reason decides to leave the floor of experience and become metaphysical it gets lost in mirages of ideas.
There are two sorts of knowledge, the analytical and the synthetic. The analytic arises by dissection of the concept so where, for example, the concept of table tells us of an elevated flat surface convenient for human use. So no new knowledge but only clarity of thought and expression.
The other sort, the synthetic, takes us beyond the concept of the object to something about that object, e.g., a red table. Here the basis is a sighting of a table, which makes it empirical knowledge.
But there is another synthetic besides this a posteriori (= after the fact) and that is the a priori and this is given in advance of any experience. The validation of such knowledge is given in the facts of mathematics and physics.
With mathematics the validation of the a priori statements about its objects comes from what is called a pure look/envisagement/intuition at the object. Consider 7+5 and no analysis will realize that their unification is in 12, for 7 incorporates the 5 already and in that 7 they are unified and made a singularity. Think about them forever and 12 will never arise in the thinking. The way is that of a pure envisagement/sighting where the hand stands for five different spaces and in our heads we transformed those spaces into a continuation from the 7 (which we have in mind) and find the 12 appearing as the answer.*
[* Consider the definition of a triangle as three straight line segments where each endpoint is common to two. Analysis of this definition will never indicate that each side is shorter than the other two. Consider an empirical examination of various triangles: here we will see that any two sides are greater than the third, but not indication that this would hold for all possible triangles. Finally we turn to the synthetic a priori where we construct our own triangle, and immediately we see that if two sides together were equal to or less than the third it would be impossible to have a tirnalge. And so it is by virtue of the synthetic a priori that we realize that all triangle whatsoever must be such that every two sides are together greater than the third.]
In the sciences we need only to consider that Hume knew indeed that his table did not get smaller at a distance and even though this was a contradiction in the very system he had expounded. So it is impossible to know this from experience and so this knowledge is a priori and is a contribution of the human mind to the objects that appear in time and space to him.
The validation of mathematics lies in the object provided by the pure envisagement, and that of the other sciences is the experience that arises from the actions of the understanding capacity of the human, e.g., that things don't change size, but only appear to.
When we turn to reason as pure reason we find a drive to leave the floor of experience and to conceive of certain objects which transcend the capacity of all experience and to reason that this objects actually exist, even though they can never be validated in any experience. Because no envisagement, whereby thought objects are validated, is required or even possible, we are led a stray by a natural dialectic.
So from here we go to the Transcendental Aesthetic first and we want to consider how objects are given to us via our sensitivity and what knowledge we obtain of them and how. And then in the Transcendental Logic we will look and see how it comes about that this a priori notions we have (called categories of understanding) are actually applied to the objects given to us in the sensitivity.
The Transcendental Aesthetic
[A concise summary of much of this can be found on a blog posting. The back button will be necessary to return here.]
In the Transcendental Aesthetic Kant reminds us that the entire universe that we can ever actually experience is a projection in the brainarium (in our brains) and that all the objects that can ever appear in that brainarium* are merely appearances, and do themselves, as appearances, exists only between the blinks of our eyes (and not during the blink). Indeed even the space and time that we are so familiar with and accept as intuitive, that space and time are merely the ways in which we look at or envisage/intuit (our Anschauung) these appearances of our brainarium, seeing them now and then and here and there (all of which is not a appearance but we way we consider appearances, or anything in time and space).
[* Kant does not use this term, which was inspired by my brief readings in Schopenhauer, but it does seem to reflect precisely our situation with regard to all possible objects of the senses. Another term might be "craniorama". It suggests a theater or panorama within the brain.]
Here we make no distinction between appearances, and see them indifferently as appearances and where both the rainbow and the rain are undifferentiated with regard to material. The distinction between appearance and a real object comes later. In saying this then we assert the reality of things apart from us and it is in contrast to that reality we can recognize the objects actually envisaged/intuited as mere appearances (images on the retina). Hume knew that his table did not get smaller, and so he knew that he was seeing a mere appearance, a brainarium representation (in vision) of a real table.* There is no illusion here when we say that we know things only as appearances. The only illusion would be not to distinguish the appearance from a real thing and to think that appearances were real things just as perceived, and in which case Hume will have noticed that his table physically gets smaller due to the distance and that the distance was the perhaps even the cause of the growing smaller, like thinking that the face in the cloud were a real face, that the cloud had a face just like a human has a face and where both, for all we can say (considering appearances to be real things as they appear) is that sometimes (with the cloud) faces appear and then disappear. That would be the only illusion, to see the face in a cloud as real as the face on the front of a person's head.
[* See Hume's table.]
Now while this thing on its own must await its debut upon our examination of the acts of the understanding mind (also in the brain as an expression), we do now easily understand how it is that all things that can ever appear to us must do so spectrally.
In this connection Kant will now want to make a transcendental deduction of the application of space and time to all appearances which can ever appear to us in the brainarium. He notes the only ways that we might possibly know that any two sides of any triangle will be greater than the third. If we analysis the concept of triangle (three line segments where each end point of each is an end point of two) we will not discover such a truth. If we examine triangles empirically, batting 1000 in an examination of many thousands, still we cannot in that way know that a triangle might not appear someday that did not comply with that rule (expressed in the concept). It would be common place, but it would not be certain. The only way is to construct a triangle in a pure envisagement and it will be seen in the construction that it is necessary for any two sides to be greater than the third. Likewise the 12 as the object of the union of 7+5 is not given as the result of an analysis of 7 and 5 and their union, but only in the construction of the object by advancing from 7 five more numbers and seeing 7+5 unified in 12.
Consequently, Kant wants to make clear, what we construct in time and space holds for all possible appearances/appearances/Erscheinungen. And to note that the validity of mathematics is given through an object which is a pure envisagement, preceding all experience. This will be then useful later when Kant needs to show how it is that reason cannot accomplish anything like this in the provision of an object. Reason may not take heart from the universal (in the brainarium) application of mathematics.
Here is a link for a translation of the Aesthetic..
Deduction of the Categories
This is a work in progress. Last edited July 23, 2009. Much editing is needed. It will be helpful, I think, for the student to read first a very short passage from Hume.
Here is our common understanding. We look out and see trees and sky and mountains and agree that they are not illusions but real things out in space there before us. We know that the light waves from these real things strike our retinas and are changed into electrical impulses and sent to the brain and there in the brain there unfolds a sort of planetarium--we'll call it a brainarium--and so what we see about us in space, e.g., the trees and the mountains, are within our brains and not outside at all. So there is a real tree and then there is a tree in our individual brainarium. What we actually see in our brainarium is not the real tree, but only an image of the tree and fundamentally only a appearance in the brainarium. And the same holds of all the senses, e.g., contact is turned into electrical impulses and within the brain the feeling called touch arises. Finally and obviously the time and space in which we see in the brainarium and feel in the brain are themselves entirely in the brainarium as the way in which we look at anything, be it appearance or even such as a triangle traced out pantomimicly in mid air (a sheer envisagement). And all sightings in this time and space will be subject to the conditions of time and space (in the brainarium), and for which reason also the conclusions of geometry are binding on all appearances (by being binding on all space).
Since we have this knowledge of the world of the brainarium, i.e., that all things appearing to us are appearances within that theater of the brain, and since we know that this information cannot have been derived from any experience (which shows only that appearances [on the retina and projected in the brainarium] have so far always gotten smaller at a distance, for example), it is clear that this information is provided by ourselves, and so obviously the appearances are subject to the rules of the understanding for, if not, we could not possibly know that they were appearances and not things on their own, and thus we would think that things got smaller at a distance. Our task now is to lay out how in fact this comes about.
Kant wants to show how it is that the framework of human understanding, which entails thinking and judging in accordance with rules (per the categories of understanding), must be presupposed in order to account for even the first perception. In this way he wants to lift the theoretical doubts that skeptical Hume had raised, for Hume based his entire system on the perception. The way Kant does this is to identify the perception as merely the first step leading to the recognition of an object among the appearances/appearances/Erscheinungen that are given in our brainarium in the brain. In fact, since the recognition of an object will be a function of the category, he wants to show that the perception itself is a function of the category. In this wise he intends to refute Hume's skepticism.
The steps are as follows: first the careful perusal or apprehension of the multiplicity which makes up the singularity sighted in space and time, e.g., noticing the legs and the top of a table. Then there is the reproduction of this multiplicity all together in imagination and the association of it, e.g., the legs are below and the top is above. And then finally the recognition of the object through the concept of an object as a rule binding a multiplicity and requiring it to appear as the multiplicity is organized, e.g., the concept of a table as an elevated top convenient for human use. In this latter and final step we arrive at a unified consciousness in that two discrete and different things (legs and top) are treated as a single thing in a single thought, e.g., parts of a table. It is this pure, original and transcendental apperception (consciousness of self) that makes possible the first perception on the way to a recognition (which is an objective perception of an object) and a unified consciousness. Since this unification is only possible via a rule of understanding (per the category) it follows that the only objects we can expect to recognize in and among the appearances of the brainarium are objects which are of a certain form with regard to the thinking of them and thus the recognition of them. And so to the extent that any object can be perceived it will have to conform to the conditions necessary for a unified consciousness, and those are the categories of understanding and experience.
Now while it is true that it is only by means of the category that objects can be recognized, there is still a question as to whether the appearances do in fact constitute objects that can be recognized by us. For it is possible that appearances could be so diverse that no pattern would ever arise to suggest a rule or pattern of behavior. In that case we could still have perceptions of immediate facts, but never a recognition and thus never a unified consciousness of self. Our world, like that of my dog Jacky (as I hypothesize), would be less coherent than a dream. What needs to be done is to show that we already know in advance of any exposure to the appearances that they are all together pieces of a giant, all encompassing puzzle and that they can be fitted together in a single object, (generally the Transcendental Object = X, and where X is nature in general, i.e., law-ruled existence). And so the pure productive imagination seizes upon manifolds of the appearances under the transcendental assumption that these appearances are not things on their own but rather the representation of objects. And so this holds of all appearances, namely that they are the representation of objects of a single nature.
Accordingly then and in advance of experience the understanding provides the categories for the recognition of objects and these categories are as binding on the appearances as are the time and space in which those appearances appear within the brainarium, and thus we can know that all appearances whatsoever are subject to the categories. And of course this could not possibly make any sense if appearances were things on their own, and so the categories do provide necessary objects, but only regarding the appearances, and have no reference to things on their own (this is developed in the next section). Thus we can see how here the presumption of the understanding to provide objects for the appearances to represent is validated, because these objects are always spectral and can be presented in a sighting. And we see that the apprehension and reproduction, which constitute the subjective perception of an object, are undertaken in anticipation of a recognition (which is the objective perception). Thus every perception is a function of the category as the means to a recognition.
This will help us realize the failure to pure reason to keep this in mind clearly and thus presume to conceive of objects independently of any possible experience, e.g., a soul, freewill and God, and consider them as necessary as the objects of nature.
Click Deduction, for further discussion.
So far then we see that we only have contact with appearances in the brainarium and that mathematics holds of all possible appearances, and that the objects we spy about us and represented by appearances are real object and our perceptions of them as authentic perceptions of real objects. We now want to turn to how the understanding actually acts upon our judgment as we deal with the appearances which are given to us. And we want to consider them in terms of the recognition of the object (in space and time) and then the recognition of the real object (via perception). This seems to have to do with the construction of the physical object. Next I want to consider these recognized objects with respect to the existence, i.e., how they relate to time and to each other. And then I want to consider how our recognitions fit together in a whole.
And I am also taken by the notion of a dual way of looking at the appearances. I'm thinking that each of these principles of understanding is in contrast to another way of considering the appearances. For example, I can look at a appearance as the object itself which gets physically smaller at a distance or I can look at it as merely an image of the object with the object remaining unchanged in size.
Now I want to go through these and look at two alternative ways of considering the appearances for each one.
The Axioms tell us that an object is extended in space and time, and so where we can notice ourselves taking in the extension of objects, e.g., in the sighting of a leaf. When I sight a leaf I can simply take it as it hits my eye (in the appearance/appearance/Erscheinung) or I can peruse it and take it all in. And so the human has the choice of simply staring at an object, or carefully apprehending the object. Kant talks about paying attention in the B version of the Deduction and I consider that to be a cue as to what Kant is all about here. And so the Axiom tells me to consider a sighted object as an extended object and to apprehend all its parts. This occurs also in time as I consider, for example, the sound of a whistle as extended in time.
Speaking of a whistle we can turn to the Anticipations where we have a judgment to make with regard to the content of space and time to the extent it has a reality, i.e., a sensation. We can either take the sensation as a thing on its own and singular, or we can consider it in our mind as being the same sensation, only more or less of it, e.g., a subdued whistle. What we then do is to judge that the sensations are all in a degree and that two otherwise different perceptions, e.g., a bright green tree and a dark green tree, can be one and the same thing, a green tree, only appearing in different light, and so where the difference in the different greens are degrees of one and the same green color.
At this point we have come to recognize the object, e.g., a tree, that it is of such and such a shape and color. It has been a construction aiming at the transcendental object = X, that unknown something. This has a mathematical character.
Now we are prepared to glean information about the existence of this object.
The First Analogy leads us in the question as to the existence of this object. As a sheer appearance (in the brainarium) the object does not and cannot exist except in the perception. That is one way that we could judge of things, that there were no difference in meaning between out of sight and not existing, or between in sight and existing. We choose the other way, the one recommended by the first analogy of experience, and identify the object (with respect to its material) with time, as a sort of manifestation and confirmation of time as an object.
This is the way that we express the singularity of time, that there is not a time of this thing and a time of that thing, as though they might be separated by an empty time or that they might overlap in the same time. The standing tree and the subsequent fallen tree are judged to be one and the same tree (and where standing and fallen are predicates or states of that tree). The standing tree and the fallen tree did not exist at the same time nor were they separated by an empty time, for the tree itself continues always (again with regard to its material). Indeed it is by means of this endurance of substance (material of the object) that we can have an objective measure of time.
The Second Analogy leads us into judgments regarding the successive existences and how it is that we introduce into the brainarium the notion of an objective apprehension. We notice earlier the standing tree and then the fallen tree, and that is merely a subjective apprehension where there is no necessity and where the next perception might be the standing tree. We could stay with the subjective apprehension and just eventually conclude that seldom if ever is the fallen tree followed by the standing tree, i.e., no necessity and entirely subjective. The judgment the human makes is that there is an objective apprehension and we seek it out in something which intervenes in the two perceptions, namely the perception of an ax man. All the causation principle does is to lead human to make an objective (at least in concept) apprehension, and that means he judges that any new state is an effect, i.e., is the result of an earlier cause.
The Third Analogy deals with the instantaneous and reciprocal causation of things in space together. There are two ways of considering things in space. Either they are entirely isolated or else they affect each other. Either the space between objects is empty, or else it is full of interaction, whatever the form. The human is led by his understanding (per the third analogy) to opt for the interaction or reciprocity. In fact it is due to this judgment alone that a person can speak of the simultaneity of all things, the idea being that if some object changed that change would be reflected in some degree in all things, all things reflecting all things and again via a space which were full of this interaction.
Moving to the Postulates we have possibility, reality and necessity. When we consider a statement concerning an object we can count it as possible if it could fit in with human experience, e.g., whether there be water on Mars. And so we are not content to speak of some object as simply non-self-contradictory, e.g., there is a 2009 Jeep on Mars, but how it could fit in with an all encompassing and single experience.
The postulate concerning reality enables us to distinguish a dream from a real experience. With respect to the sensation there is no difference between a dream and reality, and we could judge them of indifferently. This postulate enables us to make this distinction.* Otherwise we would want to consider dreams just as real as reality itself, and neither any more real than a dream.
[* A word on the Refutation of Idealism is to be added here.]
Turning to the postulate of necessity we integrate the statement concerning the object into a single experience. For example if we find water on the moon, that will be a reality, and then the next step is to be able to understand that water on Mars, i.e., how it is that water had to be there where found, and that will provide the necessity.
Now we can cast our thinking back to the Transcendental Deduction. There we considered the problem in general, the problem of how it is that the understanding could be the means for the recognition of objects in the appearance. Here with the Principles of Understanding we have seen how this actually occurs, how the understanding directs our attention (paying attention) in a peculiar way (one of two for each of the principles) and how we come up to a single experience which encompasses all objects.
Here is a link to a further and earlier discussion of the Principles, and with a return here.
Note: This consideration of the Dialectic is an extreme condensation (and really more a conclusion) and will be greatly expanded just as there will be a significant editing of what has preceded. All this is an early draft.
The human then will try to figure out the universe and existence and will come up with such ideas as a soul, free will and God, for it is by means of these that our reasoning can be satisfied. But here, since there is nothing which we can conceive of as a thing of experience, we find that we have no certitude here at all, and must conclude that reasoning about these things is not really figuring things out, but rather dreaming things up that can apparently be figured out, but not actually. And these are unessential in explaining the pictures of the world we are subject to. And so here Kant finds no hope in all of theoretics or speculation that can assure us of our immorality, free will or God. The only solace, Kant finds, is that these can also not be refuted in the realm of science and philosophical knowledge, and so they are permissible, but unneeded ideas. In a word: they are namely ideas, but not things, at least not as far as anyone can tell.
As of 12/17/09 I have included a very tentative draft on a section on the Paralogisms of Soul. A summary of the B version of my translation of the Paralogism is given here.
5/11/2011 I want to rewrite this section entirely. It is not as clear as it can be.
Reason wants to get to the unconditioned of the category that the understanding has proven in the construction of the object of experience and of the ensuing experience with that object. With regard to the soul, while the understanding is stuck with a Transcendental Object = X = soul,, to which our thoughts, feelings, desires, etc., are connected, and so which is always empirically conditioned, reason wants to find that unconditioned which must be (it reasons) embedded in that object, that soul.
And it goes like this. We conceive of a thinking entity which must exist (in order that thinking might exist) and call it substance. This is the major premise. Then in the minor premise we note that we ourselves are thinking entities, and then finally we conclude that we must also exist, e.g., without end.
Now there are (at least) two problems here. On the one hand we are making a fallacious deduction, for the thinking entity thought in the major premise is indeed unconditioned and thus absolute, but the thinking entity of the minor premise (my soul) is an object of experience (hence a appearance) and so relates to the thinking being of the premise as the appearance of a tree relates to a tree, i.e., quite different. So we conceive an object (thinking entity) that is necessary, but are not able to give it an identical object in the minor but rather only the appearance of an object, and thus cannot draw any conclusion whatsoever. It's apples and oranges, and the confusion arises by means of the term thinking entity which can be thought in two related and very distinct ways. In a word, we confuse the representation of an object (the thinking I) with the object (the I). The representation of the soul must be simple, identical, etc., but this does not make the soul as object simple, etc.
The other problem is this. We try to take the categories as they are used by the understanding, but then think them in reason merely as logical relations, but we think we have then gained a recognition of a fact. For example we call the soul substance and then we analyze the category of substance and finds that it means here (without appearance, thinking in pure ideas) merely a something which must always be thought as subject. So I am something which must always be a subject and not a predicate of something. And which is no information at all, but only a tautology. The same with the other categories of simplicity and identity. The simple is that which is utter reality, another tautology (and I need to explain these better, of course). The identical is that which must always be thought as one and the same and not different, and so we think that of the soul and learn nothing.
So we dream up the (necessary) thinking entity and reason that we are such necessary beings, but by basing it on a play with words and thus rendering it meaningless, a mere idea. And even if we could conclude such, the categories could provide no information about such a thing and we would not be able to prove anything but tautologies, and never be able to know anything of the soul whatsoever, except as it appears in experience and understood by science, namely an unknown something which unites our thinking and feeling, etc., into determinations of that something.
When we recognize a table, we are able to conceive of an object (table) which unifies and necessitates the legs and top and makes it no surprise that we see a table with the legs between the top and the floor (for that's what the table is, an elevated flat surface for writing, eating, etc.). Here we have something abiding (the material, the wood or plastic) to which we can attach the predicates of color, weight, etc. But this is lacking with the soul. All we have is the apperception (wherein the perception of the legs and top are unified in the case of the table), and so never as an abiding object which we can assemble out of something like legs and top, but rather always the subject, the I of all our sentences and thoughts. But we cannot unified the thoughts and feelings as the material of the soul, for they are seen as the predicates of the material, much as the brown, for example, is the color of the table. We don't say, this brown is a table that there brown is a suit. And we don't say, we are our thoughts, but rather we think these thoughts.
So it is impossible to recognize the soul in experience (it remaining merely an unknown something to which we attach our thinking). And it is impossible to recognize the soul by pure reason, which results in merely an idea without any possibility of a recognized object, and which idea then tells us absolutely nothing about the soul one way are the other. We can no more say we continue past death than we can say that our existence ceases with death. We can say nothing at all. We want to see recognize as objects, but only appear to ourselves always as subject, a major inconvenience to any objective recognition of the soul, and a subject which is not the same meaning in the minor premise as the major. So the vaunted rational doctrine of soul becomes merely a discipline, namely to say nothing about the nature of the soul.
This is a draft of a section on the Antinomies. This, as most of this essay (and as I keep saying), will be greatly modified in future drafts. Posted 4/8/10. Edited some on 1/7/11.
I'm deeper into Kant's antinomy and it is my current interest (1/11). It seems that we dream up objects via pure reason itself, e.g., the totality of spectral existence, objects which the understanding has recognized in experience, but now we are taking the objects beyond the possibility of any experience. And then we argue about these objects as though they were real things. The spectral world (the world of apperances) is actual. And so, it would seem, all of the conditions connected with that reality are also given. That seems so reasonable, and then we reason that if this is so it follows that the world would be either infinite in scope or else it would be finite in scope. But we are arguing about nothing at all. All argument here has to do with the world as though it were a thing on its own, and there we have this conflict of reason in the antinomy and we can't resolve it because the basis is so true and yet also false. True with regard to the world considered as a world on its own, for this is the pure thinking of objects in general. And it is false with regard to the assumption that it is being thought as a thing on its own, for the only thing we can ever experience in any way is the appearance, and so it is the spectral world that we are arguing about, thinking it were a thing on its own. While the conditions are contained in the existence of the thing on its own, the appearance is not a thing on its own (but just something in our brainarium) and its conditions are not given and must rather of necessity always be sought out in experience step by step, and yet this is precisely what pure reason intends, and is trying, to avoid.
We speak of the world as a thing on its own. Then it follows that all conditions regarding it are also given, and so in that case it would be necessary to find for either side of a truly contradictory object. And that's what we are doing in pure reason. We are thinking of the object of experience, the world, as a thing on its own (and it always certainly seems to be, for it is by means of that transcendental object = x that we distinguish objects from appearances like the rainbow). But we are butting our rational heads against each other over nothing.*
[* In his Prolegomena Kant speaks of a like argument about a square circle where one side asserts it is round, because it is a circle (given in the definition). And the other side asserts it is angular because it is square (given in the concept). This should have made them search out the source of their argument, and they would find that it is a nothing.]
What is provided by the understanding is tied to experience and thus always to the appearance. And since the appearance is not a thing on its own, but a product of our brainarium, it is not given with the entire series of its conditions, but only always its outer layer, and which must be uncovered and exposed in the appearance.*
[* This may help. Let's consider a tree. We look at it and see the bark. We know that beneath the bark will be wood. And so we consider the wood given along with the bark as the tree. But that is thinking of it as a thing on its own. As an appearance or appearance in the eye (brainarium) the only thing that is actually given is the bark. Indeed not even the back of the tree, on the other side from where we are standing and looking, is given. As a appearance all that is given is the bark. Once we cut through the bark then the wood is given. But then the cells that make of the wood are not given in the spectral world, but only thought as a tree on its own. This is never a problem in experience and we identify the tree as the object of experience with the thing on its own. But when we consider the world as a thing on its own and start to reason about it, that's when we run into this trouble that it is not a thing on its own, but only a appearance.]
So we are taking an object whose conditions cannot be considered as given and treating it as an object whose conditions are considered as given, and then being surprised in finding what is unavoidably a contradiction. Again the illusion lies in taking the subjective for objective and having our way of perceiving objects hold for the transcendental object = X (and which is necessary in order to have some counterweight to the appearances in order to recognize that appearances are not real things but merely the representation of real things, but which cause these problems when we leave the floor of experience and try to think about and consider things on their own). It is so easy to do, this substitution of the subjective for the objective; and it is the source of the antinomies here.
The Third Antinomy
Posted 7/11/2010 and last edited on 12/9/2011
Here is a draft consideration of the Third Antinomy where we deal with the conflict between treating things as appearances and also as things on their own. The Third Antinomy
The solution, I think, goes back to the notion of the thing on its own, by means of which we come to have even the first experience (that what we see is not a thing on its own, but only a representation). We produce (dream up) this thing ourselves as the concept of an existence which is under laws of the understanding. We assume that what we see is only an image and that the real object were out there apart from us in space. We dream up this real object. It starts as the thing on its own, of which we say nothing except that it is an existing thing on its own. Then, in order to bring order to the appearances of the brainarium, we impose upon all a derivation of the thing on its own called the object of experience (which is out there in real space and time on its own, i.e., truly there and not illusion-it is in this way, in fact, that we first discern the meaning of illusion). This means a something which exists and appears as a product of nature, i.e., according to laws.
We conceive of the thing, and then utilize this conception for the object of experience, in contrast to which we can recognize that we see within a brainarium, and have thereby advance notice as to what we might expect or encounter, i.e., that it is (seen) in space and time.
Let's consider this closely. We assume the thing on its own and then in order to utilize that for the sake of experience we assume the laws of nature. Thus we can say of this thing that we will never see a violation of a law of nature, but always only natural lawfulness.
Kant observes that the concept of the thing on its own serves to ascribe any sort of predicate we wish, as long as we do not violate the law of the appearances or appearances (in the brainarium). For example we could consider such a thing (the human) as actually free in his will and not subject to any laws other than the laws of freedom, and nevertheless have his (empirical) character arise to us only in the circumstances of the world of appearances and where all is subject to the law of nature and where we can say, universally, that man is motivated by his desire for happiness, and acts in his understanding of what leads to that. This makes the human subject to the laws of nature, the province of the brainarium, and at the same time, understood as a thing on his own, he is totally free, and the empirical character merely is a revelation of this intelligible character of him as a thing on its own, i.e., him choosing freely and without compulsion or necessity at all.
And so freedom and the laws of nature exist in tandem and you don't have to pick between them, but to accept them both as true and valid, each understood in a different perspective, once as an appearance and then also as a thing on its own.
See further regarding the Third Antinomy.
This is very tentative and extensive editing in planned for it...
We need now to start thinking about the Being of All Realisies. This is an embodiment, as it were, of the totality of reality and serves as a standard by which to measure and express the world we live in, e.g., a specific something has this reality but not that, such as a stone is hard and will not burn (given the appropriate perspective).
We look at all appearances in this way, in that we utilize as our standard the totality and unity of all experience. But now here with the ideal and proofs of God we are utilizing that empirical standard to hold for things on their own independently of any human looking and thought (and this is the source of the illusion). So we think of this all of realities as a being, such that all else could be expressed in terms of the realities denoted by this being, e.g., not this and not that, lacking this power or that, etc. So we need the reality in order to express, transcendentally, the negative, e.g., less resistance.
We know that for the complete determination of any object we must comprehend the total possibility in order to make a comparison and show what is missing in the given object. This we find for the object of experience in the sum total of all possible experience. And this, of course, means what is available to us within the confines of our brainarium.
Well, we want to take this to the next level, the transcendental level, and declare that all objects must be compared to the totality of all reality whatsoever. This totality we might call utter perfection (in the words of Descartes). This totality of all reality, this perfection, we conceive of as a singularity, and so the object of this concept of the All of all reality, is a single object, God, and is so conceived that all reality is a function of this All, i.e., as the originator of existence.
So since this Idea can have but a single representation, it is an Ideal and we have in this way the single Ideal of pure reason and we call it God, and by means of this we can then derive all reality as a function or act of this God.
Now in case this seems a bit to glib, we need to consider another product of reason, namely the unconditioned reality. Every conditioned state has its condition and that is a conditioned in turn. In order to complete this series of the conditioned we must start with the unconditioned condition. And so existence itself means also an unconditioned or absolute existence.
Now we have something which we can connect with this All of every reality. Since we know there must be an absolutely unconditioned being, surely the best bet for a fit will be this All of all realities. It contains all the conditions necessary for a fit as the absolutely necessary being, since it possesses all reality and calls for no conditions beyond itself, and it must be that this All of all reality and this absolutely necessary (unconditioned) first being are one and the same.
But here is a problem. What exactly about this All of all realities makes it impossible for it not to exist? And if it is this necessary being, then the mark of this necessity must be contained in the concept of that being. Before we had only the necessity of some being; which is very general and rendering no specific identification marks. Then we have this object called All of all realities (God). So now we have something in which to find the necessity. And so we are compelled to so conceive of the All of all realty in such a way that it would be impossible for it not to exist. And the effort to that goes like this.
This all perfect being is to be understood as to encompass all reality and that is to be understood, of course, as its own reality. Now it is possible that there is a perfect being, but existence entails a greater perfection than does merely possibility. And so this being is so perfect that it includes its own existence, i.e., it is impossible to be thought as not existing, a thing whose very possibility means existence, i.e., contains that as an analytical predicate.
Is such a being possible? I ask. If you say yes, then you have to admit that it does in fact exist, for since existence is a predicate or aspect of the very concept itself, to deny the existence you will also contradict the concept. And so obviously it has to exist.
Let's try now to find the illusion in this very famous, ontological proof of God; showing it by means of pure reason alone. The word is is a connective device for connecting predicates with an object, e.g., the table is red, or to describe it's determinations, e.g., the table is an elevated flat surface (relative to the human). And so it is not itself a predicate. Hence it makes no sense to include existence in the concept of an object, for that is what is yet to be determined. It is one thing to conceive of a tree or an all perfect being or an invisible unicorn, it is another thing to discover an object to this concept. The concept of an object with all perfection except one is the same for any object corresponding to that concept, for if this additional perfection were present in the object, then it would not be the object of this concept (where one element of reality is missing) but of some other concept.
The upshot then is this. We cannot prove the existence of the Ideal, for we can find no necessity in its concept. At the same time we have this unidentified unconditioned existence, in the cosmological proof, but can find no marks of identification in our concept and have always had to take final refuge in the ontological proof. And so no progress has been made toward the recognition of God via pure reason alone.
These two branches, the ontological and cosmological, are called transcendental since they do not take any experience in aid. The unconditioned being did presuppose an experience, but only in general as a factual conditioned which called for a condition, and then solely for the transcendental purpose of deducing a first, absolute, unconditioned being or condition.
There remains a final attempt to prove a God and that is the physico-theological proof where we appeal to experience and especially the make up of the world and conceive of it as akin to a fashioned clock. But since that gives us only a first cause and not a world originator, for it assumes the continuation of material and so calls only for an craftsman (like a very powerful artist working with a given material). For the concept of God we need an originator. So we have to leave the arena of the physico-theological thinking and appeal to pure reason. We say then this existence itself proves a conditioned, and in this way we have jumped to the cosmological proof and find ourselves once again with an unconditioned condition and once again unable to make heads or tails of that and so finally have to take recourse to pure reason and the ontological proof which then, as we have seen, falls flat.
The upshot: there is no proof of the existence of God in pure reason, although there is the possibility. And so the result of pure reason in its speculative work regarding the God and the soul and freewill (all of which have a similar fate) is merely the possibility of these objects, but by no means any recognition of an actuality regarding them.
Kant notes in closing that a transcendental belief in God, where there is no suggestion of any personality or interest in the humans, is called Deism, while the physico-theological belief is called Theism. This might be understood as a person whose parents are dead compared to one whose parents are alive, even if not accessible.
A paraphrase and abbreviation of Kant's writing on the Ideal can be found here.
Conclusion of the Critique of Pure Reason We are efficacious in the construction of the object of experience and experience with that object. We conceive of a world which is necessitated by universal laws and are able to discover objects of that world all about us, in the guise of appearances (which are nothing more ultimately than the projections within our brainarium). Thus the experience we construct by applying the categories of understanding and connection (the form of our thinking) proves our certainty regarding our capacity to do so, and we know for a fact that the "dog" we spy ahead of us sitting by the side of the road does not turn into a mailbox as we get closer, but only seems to (and this could not have been known through sheer empirical exposure at all). In a word it is only in this way that we can come to provide a meaning to such terms as "seems" and "looks like". Buoyed by this achievement and recognition we presume to utilize these categories out beyond the brainarium and in a sphere of pure reason where it is impossible for an object to be given to us to confirm or disallow or correct our conception; and so out where the categories are being utilized for thinking, but where there is no object given to be the validation of the concept and no where there is no recognition, but only thinking. And so we dream up these Ideas as necessary productions of pure reason, e.g., the soul and free will and God, and find that in the end we are simply playing with Ideas and while objects corresponding to them are possible enough, they still render no evidence of their actuality at all.
The Goundwork to the Metaphysic of Morals
This is a preparatory work to the Critique of Practical Reason. Here we want to examine the notions of the good will, duty and how these arise in human consciousness.
Kant wants to investigate the origin and meaning of duty, and first in the common understanding. There it is making one's maxim (subjective principle of interest) into an objective law of nature. In such wise we can understand what the common person means with duty. It's something you have to do whether you want to or not, and it means acting in a way that is consistent with a law (which is yet undetermined). Hence the imperative, you shall not lie, is understood as a categorical command, i.e., unconditional, for to will a world where lying were our nature would mean to abolish promises all together.
This common notion of duty cannot have been obtained through any experience. For it is categorical and pertains to necessity. We go therefore to practical reason to find the source (for human knowledge is either empirical or it is a priori in reason and understanding, and since here it is not empirical it must be rational).
We find three applications of practical reasoning: rules of skill (in the constructions of the sciences, e.g., drawing a circle); counsels of prudence with respect to one's happiness; and finally categorical commands such as: you shall not lie. The first two are dependent upon the desirability of some goal (and are called hypothetical) and are self evident. The categorical requires further research. We, at least at this stage, see it as a willing of one's maxim to be a universal law of nature (which is one with that of the common understanding of duty or a moral act, which is what we had expected).
We ascend to pure reason and consider this imperative metaphysically. Here we conceive of all rational beings as being considered as ends in themselves without reference to any object. With this in mind we can obtain all the acts of duty, for it is our duty to promote rational existence itself as an end in itself.
Considering rational beings as ends in themselves suggests then the conception of a realm of such beings, a union in accordance with laws. And then we see that each member of that realm can be conceived of as himself issuing these laws (for everyone knows them, as the common notion of duty tells us), to which he and all members of that realm are subject. This is the concept of the autonomy of the individual, namely we all individually impose laws upon ourselves and each other. And this conception in turn leads us to the third representation of the basis of duty and the moral law (following law of nature and rational beings being ends in themselves and as such).
In this way, by means of autonomy, we find the moral law established independently of any interest on our part.* And this is the source of the notion of duty held by the common understanding (but which normally thinks in terms of a law of nature, e.g., what kind of world would it be if everyone acted as I do? which is the first of the three representations of moral duty).
[* And this alone shows its superiority over all other systems of morality, every one of which required some interest on our part.]
Accordingly we at least now understand the source of the conception of duty. But in what way do we come to take an interest in this notion of a realm of purposes inhabited by moral legislators? What would be necessary in order for us to develop an interest in this invention of metaphysics?
When we consider a realm of freedom we mean, in the first place, an ability to act independently from the laws of nature. But then since all realms must have laws, we see immediately that there is a positive take on this also and that the moral law would be the law of a free realm. But still the question remains: how do we come to take an interest in such a notion of a free realm with its moral law and its categorical imperative? How do we go from a free will to the reality of duty?
Normally and naturally we simply assume that we are free beings (per our application of reason in deciding among choices). But this is not enough to make us accept the categorical imperative as binding or even of interest. In fact it seems as though we may have dreamed up freedom to imply the moral law, and also may have dreamed up the moral law to imply freedom.
We escape this circle by means of the conception of the human as not only a being of the sense world and brainarium, but also an expression of an intelligible existence.* We utilize our understanding and especially our reasoning and the ideas from that to express this intelligible existence.
[* This is warranted by the original conception of the thing on its own in order to distinguish appearances from things on their own for the sake of experience (see the CPR above). We ascribe to that thing what is necessary for it to become an object of experience (namely subjugation to laws of nature), but we do not thereby exhaust the meaning or potential of the thing on its own. Now we can avail ourselves of this thing on its own and conceive of ourselves as intelligible beings, commonly thought of as a soul or spirit.]
In this way now we can conceive of a being (ourselves) with an intelligible existence and a sensible existence and where the moral law would be definitive in the intelligible existence but be confronted with contrary inclinations in the sensible existence, and so instead of an unfailing compliance the laws are clothed with the ought. The ought then means: what in the intelligible realm would be complied with without exception, may not be so in the sensible realm of nature. Or: what has to happen (intelligible) does not have to happen (sensible)
This conception of this two-fold representation is what enables the human to take an interest in the moral law. In this way then we see how it would be possible for such a thing as a categorical imperative or duty to arise in human consciousness and be considered as meaningful and how we could come to take an interest in what is a product of pure reason (via metaphysics). We are now ready to turn to the Critique of Practical Reason to see if in fact the human is imposed upon by this metaphysical invention, this categorical imperative. We have discovered the source of any meainging for the concept of duty, but have not yet established there this concept of moral duty is in fact meaningful. This latter is our next task.
The Critique of Practical Reason
Now when we get with Kant into practical matters we find we have a rational need for all three of the objects we sought in vain in the CPR (free will, immortal soul and God). And since there is no reason in theoretical and speculative reasoning which prevents them as existences, Kant will take advantage of them for his practical purposes.
Kant wants the human to have confidence in the moral law which wells up from within his own rationality and his emotional response to this product. He finds the moral law sufficient on its own without any props. By virtue of his analysis of the effect of the moral law on the human, Kant finds that the human must conceive of himself as a free being. Essentially a being who were not free of the necessitation of nature, and thus of innate self interest, would not be able to understand the suggestion of a moral act any more than he could believe that one were serious in asking him if he would like to have one of his hands removed and roasted for supper, or would he rather have a delicious steak. If he were told that the rule says that he must give up his life in order to spare an innocent man by telling the truth and can safely avoid that by telling a lie, he would look at that question in the same light. The human at least pauses and considers the matter, no matter how he finally chooses, and it is in that pause that Kant spies the common recognition of personal freedom, i.e., it is possible that I might tell the truth. That thought is not possible to a being who is rational, but not free.
And so we have freedom as a meaningful idea, but then we have a rational problem which needs fixing. By all right reason it doesn't make the least bit of sense to do something which is simply inane and without purpose. But this would mean that the moral law, which needs no purpose in its command, still needs a purpose in order to satisfy rationality. Even though the moral law is a product of rationality, nevertheless it, as all rational actions, must have a purpose, for otherwise it is to be counted as silly, an inane thing to do. And so, unless we can find a purpose, the moral act stands in a gulf between two precipices, adherence to a law of reason and rational rejection of inanity.
This needed purpose to the moral law and freedom Kant calls the Highest Good. The highest good that human rationality can conceive has a facet of happiness which is proportionate to one's moral worth and where everyone can achieve to a moral perfection. Now Kant really goes to work. In order that this Highest Good be a practical purpose for the moral law, that means that I have to believe that I can achieve to the required existence (of moral perfection), and looking out now into possible eternities of existence, and so for it to be this necessary purpose I must believe that I am going to live longer than this span of life and that that purpose will indeed be attained, and I will achieve to moral perfection and to the requisite and commensurate happiness. Thus does he introduce eternal life, as necessary for my wanting to strive in pursuit of this moral perfection now, and for seeing it as a practical goal. *
[* Kant doesn't get into this, as far as I know, but it is an interesting thought that in the time span of the earthly part of this continuing existence (that I am here conceiving), I may be establishing something which becomes a fixed part of my being after this earthly element, and thus something which will continue as my eternal character. He does allude to such as this in the 2nd Book of his work on religion (see below).]
Now with God it is a bit easier. Since it is incoherent to speak of the apportionment of happiness to moral perfection by laws of nature, the only way that the Highest Good can be conceived of as a practical, i.e., attainable, goal is if there is an Omnipotent Moral Judge who can discern one's worthiness for happiness and can compel nature to conform and provide the requisite happiness.
And so there we have it: Kant has his freedom and his eternal soul and his God, all derived from rationality itself in order to rationalize one of its own laws, if you will, the moral law. All this naturally leads us into a consideration of religion.
Kant introduces this by raising a question which I think is rather fascinating to contemplate. Let a man, who wishes to honor the moral law and who is guided by practical rationality, be given an opportunity to fashion his own world, and in which he would have to live just like anyone else, what would he do?
In the first place, guided as he is by practical rationality, he would not opt for a world where happiness were independent of moral worth, but rather he would choose a world of the Highest Good, where the virtuous can expect happiness by virtue of virtue being the condition for happiness.
And also he would even be obligated to fashion this sort of world because he honors the moral law which requires his greatest good at any instant, and at the instant of his creation this world of the Highest Good would be the greatest good he can do. And it should be noted that he will make this choice even though he will not himself be able to vouch for his own outcome in such a world, for he may very well not live up to the requirements of perfect virtue. He will create this Highest Good world because he knows that it is right and good that the moral law be purposeful and that there be a meaning to one's duties.
Now from this reflection and conclusion Kant wants not only for people to imagine this world, but also to realize that they are morally obligated to fashion this world to the extent of their power through their good deeds now.* And it is from here that we delve into Kant's meditations on religion, on what sort of religion pure reason would recommend for the humans. And this calls for an investigation of the human condition, starting with man's innate and voluntary descent into evil.
[* This certainly seems to be reflected in the criminal law system where we punish people for disobeying the law, although we don't reward people who obey the law, that being a duty and in no need of reward in order to be efficacious (although, as we saw, it is needful in order for the moral act to be termed a rational (purposeful) act.]
Book One - Human Evil. The human, though certainly made for good, automatically and voluntarily chooses the evil principle (self-interest) over the good (common interest). Hence this evil may be ascribed to the humans as a species. It is a natural and voluntary initial choice, made perhaps at birth, to disregard the moral law on occasion, if it is advantageous to do so. We support this tendency by avoiding discussing the principles of each other's actions and look to the effect to see good and evil. We justify the polite lie to ourselves and each other, for example, and demonstrate thereby immediately our evil, while claiming to be good. There is even a natural corruption of meanings through this charades of moral, social talk, such that the term morality is confused and uncertain and we don't even understand ourselves.
Book Two - Possibility of Change. In order to straighten out the language and make things clear we need the idea of a perfectly righteous man, who always disregards self-interest for the sake of righteousness. We can create the idea itself rationally (as a product of human rationality), even though it may have first been introduced in the life of a historical man. And reports of such a moral man are not to be doubted, for reason requires it of each person at this very instant.
What we will need in our religion will be a means for a person to think that he can actually change and become morally a different person, and that experience will give him evidence of this, and finally that his former trespasses are legally forgotten and counted as paid for.
These difficulties must be overcome in a rational way for any man to seriously consider changing his ways for the good. Regarding becoming a different person, this is possible by considering the disposition has having become moral and which is all that is considered in a moral court, the acts themselves in time and experience being a mix of this new disposition and the vestiges and inertia of evil in daily life. Experience can tell that a person is making progress in moral perfection (or is remaining evil), but not that one's has achieved to holiness and need not strive longer for virtue. Regarding any forgiveness, the new man shoulders the ills that were due the old man and without complaint and without seeking credit for his good acts, and this taking on of these theoretically infinite ills associated with a dedication to the moral principle counts as an atonement for the theoretically infinite evil that the old man was capable of doing in his former disposition (and where occasion and opportunity determined his factual evil), and which is the moral way of thinking.
Book Three - Rational Expectations. Next we must deal with the precarious position of a new man remaining in the old world of evil. He will be tempted mightily and it is not to be expected that he can be successful by himself, no matter how great his dedication. And so we come to the curious duty belonging to man not as himself but as a member of a species of like men, each inadequate on his own to the task at hand, i.e., moral perfection. By virtue of this duty we find that we and all men need help and so we must help each other (the call of duty being for us to do our best). If I myself am to achieve to moral perfection, as is my intention as a new man, then I will need the help of others, and likewise others who strive to be morally perfect need my help. We have a duty to each other, a duty of the species to help the entire species, a duty of the species to itself (and where success is not guaranteed). As a result these unions are to be formed and should be called churches of God. God is then finally introduced as the lawgiver who guarantees that the union will always be morally founded and directed, i.e., God has commanded the moral law and that cannot therefore be revoked.
Book Four - Rational Church. And finally, since we are duty bound to join a church, we must make sure that it is a real church and avoids the pitfalls which arise through superstition, where we utilize inane ceremonies to show our devotion and gain divine favor, in lieu of comply with the moral law; and fetishism, where we think to bend God to our way of thinking and acting and to work on Him as though He were a means for our ends; and fanaticism where we think we have divine favor or insight and need not to bother with moral matters. Creeds and ritual are acceptable as long as they are not considered as necessary for salvation, and it is always understood that the only requirement for pleasing God is a good heart and spirit. Creeds and rituals may become symbols of solidarity with all people of a certain spirit (including former generations) and thus be useful for giving people a sense of oneness in their effort to help each other practice being moral on an ongoing basis and of becoming stronger in the struggle with the prince of the world (whose name is Self-Interest).
Note: Eventually I intend to add a summary of the Critique of Judgement.
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