March 8, 2012
The character. We infer the character of a person from the actions that he takes and, as always when dealing with the transcendental object, from that to infer the actions themselves, i.e., unifying all his actions in one accord called his empirical character. Somewhat as various appearances are unified by the concept of a tree, for example.
Then Kant introduces the intelligible character. If there is an aspect of a sensitive being which cannot be conveyed via the brainarium, i.e., cannot be an appearance, then that is called intelligible.
And so the transcendental object = myself as a soul, an intelligible object, that aspect of the object of sense which cannot be sighted. And so in this wise I take the empirical character and make it into an appearance of my intelligible character. And the only thing that we have done is this: we can declare this intelligible character to be free, if we wish to, and so where the empirical character (expressed in the appearances) is itself an appearance and represents this intelligible character.
And so at this stage (the Third Antinomy) we just stand there and shake our heads while science explains how some person had to choose as he did, following the laws of nature, and we say: “look, one thing is certain. He knew that was wrong and he did it anyway. In other words, he chose to do wrong and he did not have to, and he deserves punishment. I don’t care what you say in science, this guy did not have to do as he did, and so he chose to do so and now he is responsible for the consequences of that choice.”
This is now understandable as simply an assertion of a event which always accords with the facts of science but which is of a different causality, namely freedom, i.e., not just an event, but the effect of a free act. At this stage this is no more meaningful than asserting the existence of light, invisible unicorns prancing about.
Now later in Practical Reason we will come upon the “factum” of pure reason, namely that we are subject to the moral law whether we like it or not. And since the condition of this fact of pure reason is freedom, then obviously we are free, and can combine this with the teachings of science as we saw above in the consideration of the Third Antinomy.
What is the justification for this intelligible character? In dealing with the appearances we come to conceive of the transcendental object, the thing on its own, the super reality beyond the appearances, and in order to make it connect in space and time we conceive of the laws of nature and apply them to the appearances in the guise of objects of experience. And so first we conceive of the thing on its own and then we conceive of the object of experience to represent that thing on its own as affecting a brainarium (our own). But this leaves the thing on its own, as a concept, open to add anything we wish, as long as we do not contradict science, which speaks only of the appearances of this thing within the brainarium, i.e., how it looks.
And so in Third Antinomy we confuse ourselves by trying to speak of the object of experience and the thing on its own as identical, as one and the same. They’re not. In science we speak only of the object of experience. And so if someone then also speaks in terms of the thing on its own, without reference to any object of experience (or any other envisagement/take/Anschauung), then he needs only to be self consistent and then also not to contradict the facts of science. “You say he had to do what he did. I say he chose to do what he did and he did not have to do it. And so he is guilty.” That’s a so-called “compatibility”. And so it seems way out, but it works. And then later it is called upon in order to show that practical reasoning is not kidding about the fact of our freedom.
Filed under: Kant