April 4, 2012
Once we recognize that we know ourselves only from within a brainarium,* we can think of the thing on its own without regard to any appearance within a brainarium. That “thing” is the basis of our object of experience that we utilize in order to fit all the appearances together as objects of a single nature, our most fundamental presupposition with regard to even the first recognition of anything. But that thing on its own is more than the object of experience, for that object itself is only an appearance, i.e., a synthesis of varied appearances, and so has no reference at all to the thing on its own independently of all possible brainariums.
[* To quickly grasp the notion of the brainarium, consider the sun illuminating a tree and some of the rays bounce off of the tree and enter your eye, and are converted into electrical impulses which travel to the brain and where then an image of that tree is projected. and you can say, "I see the tree". For more on the appearances in the brainarium read “Tips for the novice to Kantland”. See also the Key to Kant.]
To make the point, I consider the empirical character to be the object of experience and which is so conceived as to encompasses the very basis for actions by the human, and from which then all actions (as appearances) of this empirical character can be deduced. This is the object of experience regarding the human being. This empirical character as the object of experience is as much determined by laws of nature as are the stars in the sky and there is no difference.
Now at the same time, and purely for the sake of argument, I can conceive of the intelligible character which would belong to the human as a being on his own, independently of the brainarium, and I can conceive of it as being free of the laws of nature, a utterly free being, and from that I can then consider the empirical character as the representation of this intelligible character. In other words, where science looks back at a particular appearance of the empirical character and says, “See, he had to do this and he had to do that”, I can just as easily assert: “I know that it looks like it is necessary according to the laws of nature, but the fact is that this person, this intelligible character, freely chose to do as he did and he could have chosen differently.”*
[* For more on this matter of the two characters, see the antinomy.]
This argument cannot be refuted, and although it certainly does not present us with even the first glimpse of actual freedom, it does show that such an assertion would not contradict the predications of science.
To make this clearer. In the realm of science we can and do speak of freedom to make choices, but that means only a choice between inclinations of happiness, A now versus B later, for example, and where B might be much more than A. Now this freedom is nothing but the capacity for delayed gratification, and is not at all what we mean with the transcendental freedom asserted of the intelligible character of man. This latter is totally free and can chose as he wishes to, and is not bound by the laws of nature (with regard to his intended objects of action).
So there is no contradiction to speak of man as an object of experience with an empirical character and totally and utterly controlled by laws of nature, and then also of man as an intelligible character who has freely chosen his empirical character and who is not subject to the laws of nature. One appears within the brainarium and the other is independent of any brainarium. Accordingly: there is no conflict between laws of nature and freedom.
Now we have considered what pure reason is able to accomplish with regard to theoretics and to speculation. We turn now to a like consideration of what pure reason is able to accomplish in the world of experience via free acts.
We will find that pure reason is able to come up not with just admonitions for finding happiness but rather also with a law, a moral law which requires that one act only in accordance with maxims (subjective principles of action) which can be universalized and made into a law of nature (objective principles of action). And furthermore it is by virtue of this law that we come to realize that we are indeed free to act in accordance with principles of our own choosing, and this moral law is pressed upon us such that we are obligated to act accordingly regarding any action in the world of the brainarium.
Pose to any man if he were able to achieve his greatest possible, indeed irresistible, delight only to be hanged to death immediately after, whether he might be able to resist after all and he will of course realize that a longer life is the wiser course. This is practical freedom as considered by the science. This restraint is a foregone conclusion.
But then ask him if he had to lie and send an innocent person to death to avoid being himself hanged; what would he do? How would he answer? This is not a foregone conclusion. And the only possible way for this not to be a foregone conclusion is if the man is a free being, for if he were not free, his choice for life would have been a foregone conclusion and would not require a pause to be considered more carefully.
So obviously we are free beings and we know it by virtue of this moral law which was fabricated by pure reason working on its own. And since this freedom is self evident to every human being (by virtue of his own pure reason), we lay claim to it as a fact. And we need only note in passing that since there is nothing in pure reason against freedom (only that it is unneeded by science), and since we have a need for it per this same pure reasoning in the practical realm, we lay claim to it and assert our own freedom in the face of, and over the laws of, nature. And we see they fit nicely together as if they had been designed to be one and the same reason (which indeed they are).
There is something else that we are in need of, and that is a purpose for the moral law and our freedom. What’s up with this moral law? What’s to be accomplished?
From a Darwinian point of view you could say that nothing was to be accomplished except perhaps keeping the human species more closely knitted together regarding confrontations with other species. But it is easy to see that if we take that tack we defeat the moral law, for then it will be discovered to be a vanity and not worth our worry. And so there is even a moral need for a purpose to this moral law.
Given the state of the human being as a needful being with inclinations for happiness, it follows that the only purpose to the moral law that can be meaningful for him is what can be called the Idea of the Highest Good, namely a state of moral perfection which is connected with a commensurate degree of happiness. To expect the human being to follow a moral law simply in order to be prepared for possible enemy aliens on the part of future descents of the present generation, and realizing that everyone is thinking the same way, that is an exercise of dreamland.
And so we are required by practical reason itself to postulate the Highest Good as the practical purpose and intention of the moral law. The purpose of this law for each individual is the achievement of moral perfection and enjoyment of a commensurate happiness.
Obviously such moral perfection cannot be expected during the lifetime of any individual and so it follows that there is now a need for an immortality (in order to pursue this purpose of moral perfection in the Highest Good) and a need for a God (in order to discern the worthiness to happiness and for supplying the commensurate happiness, an omnipotent and all knowing moral judge).
Accordingly we have a moral need for freedom and for God and for immortality, and since speculative pure reason has nothing against these objects (though also no use for them) we claim and assert them in a practical sense, i.e., there exists freedom, immortality and God. But in no way does this supply science with any insight into these three and which then are quite rightly to be ignored by science.*
[*Science is not to presume any limit to its knowledge. And to present God as a scientific fact would cut off further exploration. But presenting God as a practical fact plays no role in the science at all, but only in the individual scientist as a person.]
According to Kant then the individual scientist would speak about so: “Of course there is a God, etc., because there has to be. Why else the moral law? But don’t ask me anything about this God in my science, for it plays no part in the equations of the brainarium world.”
In a word, Kant will have us duty bound to promote the Highest Good as a practical goal and to seek to implement that Highest Good in this present world to the extent possible for us.
From here Kant will take us to the Christian faith and recommend that we tidy this faith up a bit and to utilize it for the establishment of the Highest Good as a universal endeavor on the part of mankind.
Filed under: Kant