Kant In A Nutshell

by Philip McPherson Rudisill
April 30, 2007 and with some editing ongoing as of March 8, 2019

This includes, in this order, brief summaries of the
Critique of Pure Reason (CPR),
Grounding to the Metaphysic of Morals (GMM),
Critique of Practical Reason (CPrR
and also
Religion Within The Bounds Of Sheer Reason (Religion).

This is a major task and is presently still a fragmented presentation, and will likely require several years for me to complete (which means that it will probably never be completed). I also want to note that none of my work is copyrighted, and hence is available to all to do with as they wish. Finally this was originally composed as a means for me to better understand and express Kant's thinking and to practice my command of German, and to have some fun.

Concise examination of pure reason, experience and human theoretical knowledge.

Here is the human condition. All that we see or ever can see must appear within our brainarium, e.g., what we see is on our retinas and is communicated to the brain via electrical impulses and there, within the brain, a projection unfolds and we see, not things, but the appearances of things, and in terms of a time and space that are our way of looking at these things in the brainarium.

Now what we do is this. Even though there is nothing in the brainarium except appearances of things, we dream up a something which is independent of the brainarium and we utilize that in order to make a connection among all of the appearances in the brainarium, e.g., dream and waking. This thing that we dream up is called the thing on its own. We dress it up via the categories of thought which make up our capacity for, and form of, understanding (for connecting), and we call it the object of experience. By means of this dreamed up object of experience we are able to recognize that what we see is actually on the retina (and projected in the brainarium) such that the finger that splits into two ghosts as it approaches our nose (assuming a two-eyed looker) is not a real thing, but only our representation of a real thing and which representation is entirely within us. This experience and recognition validates our presumption in utilizing this dreamed up thing on its own to explain our appearances, and to call it a reality. See Thomas Reid.

We essentially dream up a giant brainarium (not unlike a planatarium), as it were, and call it the world of experience, and by means of this we see our own projections in our brainarium as perspectives of, and in, this real world of experience. It is in this way that we are able to convey meaning to such terms as "seems like" and "looks like" which otherwise would have no reference would be meaningless sounds.

Can we now go further and assert the existence of something which is apart from this giant brainarium? Pure reason tries to do this but is not as successful as with experience. In experience the appearance became the representation of the object of experience, but with pure reason there is no appearance or anything to represent the idea we have of a thing on its own independent of the giant, public brainarium. We are necessitated by pure reason to dream and consider up a soul, freedom of will and God, but can only think them along with the world of experience, but never to recognize them nor, for that matter, to have need of them in the equations and thinking of science.

Upshot. While we have no reason to deny the existence of the soul and freedom and God, we also have no evidence within the brainarium whereby we can affirm them. We did not deny the existence of something apart from our brainarium, but rather assumed something, and came upon, i.e., validated, the concept of the object of experience. We cannot deny the existence of something apart from the world of experience (where this world is a giant bainarium, as it were), but cannot expect to come upon evidence in this world of anything which cannot appear within that brainarium. We can think things independent of that brainarium, but never recognize them as real. Essentially then we are in a state of agnosticism with respect to soul, freedom and God.

We now turn to a critique of practical reason and see if reason fares better there in its practical realm. We find that we have the ability to devise principles of acting both with regard to our pursuit of happiness, e.g., work hard when young in order to have enough in old age; and with regard to our duty, e.g., do not lie. The former depends on one's prospects for happiness (for someone might not expect to reach old age), the other is a categorical imperative, i.e., do this regardless of happiness.

This categorical imperative is based upon the moral law which is an idea of pure reason (in a practical application) where we conceive of (or dream up) a realm of free beings where each being considers itself as an end in itself and realizes this must hold of all, and autonomously formulates a law to bind himself and all members of that realm always to treat all (including again himself) as ends in themselves and never solely as means. When the human first understands this law, there arises a unique feeling called respect or the moral feeling. Per the idea of this law alone, before any action is undertaken, there is a feeling of humiliation at the exclusion of the ego in the consideration concerning the action, and this is coupled with a feeling of exaltation at the thought of compliance with this law.*

* It is difficult to imagine how such a feeling could reside in the make up of an evolved being, since it can never arise in consciousness until this idea, which is an invention of pure reason, is distinctly conceived. We must then think this feeling of respect as contained (implanted?) in the human in a dormant state and ready to arise upon the advent of the idea.

It is worth noting again that the conception of each member of the free realm is that he and all are ends in themselves, and may not be considered as mere means to the ends of anyone. This is called universal human dignity. It means that the human may not become a mere commodity. This is the meaning of the moral law.

First by virtue of the consciousness of this moral law we are also conscious of our own freedom, and both represent one and the same thing. And so where earlier we were allowed to think freedom but not recognize it, now we can recognize it via this achievement/fact of pure reason itself, via the categorical (unconditioned) imperative of the moral law. But of course this holds only in our subjective practical actions and not as objects of experience as exposed by science. It is a fact and holds in practice and only in practice. But that is also the only thing that matters here, i.e., regarding practical reason.

What is now needed is a reconciliation of this moral imperative and the counsels of prudence or happiness. For they are often at odds. The way this is accomplished is via the Highest Good whereby the moral act becomes also the most prudent act and is to be crowned (eventually) with happiness.

The moral act, as any act, must have a purpose in order to be a rational act. Something is to be accomplished. We don't wash a clean car just to wash a car, or buy a book not to be read or displayed but just to be bought. Given the state of the human being with his obligation to be moral and his unquenchable desire to be happy, the only rationally coherent purpose is the Highest Good, namely a state of moral perfection coupled with commensurate happiness. This in turn requires a longer life (immortality) to achieve to the anticipated moral perfection and to experience the commensurate happiness, and also a God in order to force the hand of a mechanical nature to provide the requisite happiness.

Now, looking at this in reverse we see that without God and the soul, the Highest Good cannot be a purpose of the moral law, and without a purpose the moral act, as any act without purpose, becomes inane and irrational, and so it follows that the rejection of God means the rejection of the moral law and the direction of the atheist's actions by the counsels of prudence and self happiness alone. And this is Kant's example as presented in the essay on Sagan and Kant. And now we can turn to an expanded summary of these two critiques as well as consider the summaries of the Grounding of the Metaphysic of Morals and Religion Within The Bounds Of Sheer Reason.

Critique of Pure Reason


[The text of the Critique for this section begins on or near page 23]

Here we are going to examine Kant's conception of human knowledge, and discover and explain its foundations and its limitations. We will be especially interested in 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 first 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 on their own. 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.

Types of Knowledge. There are two sorts of human knowledge, the analytical and the synthetical. The analytical arises by dissection of a concept such that, for example, the concept of table tells us of an elevated flat surface convenient for human use; and the concept of face indicates a "constellation" of mouth and lips, nose, eyes, forehead, etc. So via the analysis no new knowledge arises, but only clarity of thought and expression regarding the concept.

The other sort, the synthetical, takes us beyond the concept of the object to something about that object, e.g., a red table is a table which has a color of red. Here the basis for this knowledge is a sighting of a specific table, which makes it empirical knowledge and, in this case, tells us that it is red in color. This is called empirical and a posteriori and means that the information is added to the concept and based on an exposure to the object.

But there is another synthetical besides this empirical and a posteriori, and that is the synthetical a priori (in advance) and this is given before, and independently of, any experience. The validation of such knowledge is given in the facts of mathematics and the foundations of experience itself.

With mathematics the validation of the a priori statements about its objects comes from what is called a "reine Anschauung", i.e., a pure "look-at" or pure perspective* of the object. 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 unification, but only in the construction of the answer by advancing from 7 and adding five more numbers (using the fingers of the hand as a representation of 5) and seeing the 7 and 5 unified in 12. The procedure then is a pure looking/perspective, and so it is synthetical and also a priori.**

* Usually in Kant talk "intuition" is used for Anschauung. See Kant and the meaning of the Anschauung. Presently I prefer "perspective" or even "take."

** One might think the following procedure would work: reduce the 7+5 to 12 1's, and then reduce the 12 to 12 1's. Since the 1's of each side will cancel each other out, we would want to conclude that the two sides are equivalent and can be substituted one for the other. But this does not follow universally. For even though, for example, the right and left hands can be perfectly equal in every respect, point for point, and described in the same way, they still cannot be substituted for each other, for both cannot wear the same glove. Accordingly then there is no universal principle that tells us that things which are completely equal to each other can be substituted for each other. Hence no analysis can tell us that 7+5 = 12. This knowledge is entirely synthetical a priori.

In the sciences and foundations of experience we need only to consider that David Hume* knew indeed that his table did not get smaller at a distance, and realized to his chagrin that this was a contradiction within the very system he had just expounded concerning human knowledge. Since it is obviously impossible to know this fact from experience (for every sighting shows a smaller table when seen from a distance), this knowledge is a priori (as well as synthetical) and is a contribution of the human mind to the objects that appear in time and space (and which will be presented below in the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories).

* David Hume, Scottish philosopher, desired to dismiss all metaphysics as inane. His approach was to remove any necessity to the concept of causation. He asserted that causation was merely an expectation which we developed by noticing that one thing was usually followed by another, e.g., lightening and thunder, and so was entirely empirical and contingent. Kant took it upon himself to refute Hume's conception of causation, although, like Hume, he did come to realize that metaphysics was not a science.

The validation of mathematics lies in the object provided by the pure perspective/looking, 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 (metaphysics) we find a natural drive to leave the floor of experience and to conceive of certain objects which transcend the capacity of all experience, and to reason that these objects actually exist, even though they can never be validated or seen in any experience. Because here no perspective, whereby conceived objects are validated, is required or even possible, we are led astray by a natural dialectic.

From here we begin by going to the Transcendental Aesthetic, first section of the CPR in order to consider how objects are given to us via our sensitivity and what knowledge we obtain of them and how. And then afterwards in the Transcendental Analytic we will examine how it comes about that certain a priori and connective notions we have (called categories of understanding) are actually applied to the objects given to us in the sensitivity (which Hume dismissed as impossible). And finally we will turn to the Dialectic and deal with objects of pure thought where we find much stumbling and confusion, and will learn why metaphysics fails in its exertion.

The Transcendental Aesthetic

[The text of the CPR for this section begins on or near page 45. And see especially Appendix II.2, on or near page 789. It may be helpful to first look at a preparatory piece entitled Kantland, which is an attempt to get one's mind focused on this section of the CPR.

In the Transcendental Aesthetic Kant reminds us (in so many words) that the entire universe that we can ever actually experience is a projection within the brainarium* (within our brains) and that all objects that can ever appear in that brainarium are merely appearances and which, as such, exist 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 are merely the ways in which we look at or view these appearances of our brainarium, seeing them as now and then, and as here and there (none of which is an appearance but simply the way we view and look in time and space).

* Kant does not use this term. It was inspired by my brief readings of 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. Briefly, and for example, sunlight strikes a tree and some light is reflected from the tree and enters the eye and is transmitted (upside down and with left and right reversed) to the brain where a correction takes place and a panorama unfolds of the tree and what we call the universe.

Here so far we make no distinction between appearances, and treat them indifferently as appearances and where both the rainbow and the rain are undifferentiated with regard to material (in our retinas). 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 that we can recognize the objects actually sighted/intuited/angeschaut as mere appearances (images on the retina and in the brainarium, .e., a rainbow or a mirage*). Hume knew that his table did not get smaller at a distance, 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 to treat appearances as real things just as perceived, and in which case Hume would have thought that his table physically did get smaller due to the distance, and that the distance was 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 (in the cloud) real faces appear and then disappear. That would be the only illusion here, to treat the face in a cloud as real as the face on the front of a person's head.**

* The reader needs to remember that the rainbow cannot be located in space out beyond us, but only on the retina within the eye. When we blink that rainbow goes temporarily out of existence. The same holds of the look of water which appears occasionally on the highway ahead of us and which vanishes as we approach it.

** And where "front" represents nothing more here than a way of looking at a human's head.

In this connection Kant will now want to make a so-called transcendental deduction* of the application of mathematics to all appearances which can ever emerge to us in the brainarium, and this will arise by virtue of the ideality of space and time (as forms of our perspective).** To this end and for example, he considers the only ways that we might possibly know that any two sides of any triangle will be greater than the third. If we merely analyze the concept of triangle (three line segments where each endpoint is a common endpoint of two) we will not discover such a truth, i.e., there would be no suggestion as to the relative lengths of the sides. If we examine many triangles empirically, and find this property of relationship of lengths of the sides, we still cannot in that way know that a triangle might not appear someday that did not comport with that relationship, and even though it would not be commonplace; still the relationship of the lengths of the sides would not be certain in this way. The only way to recognize this condition as necessary for all triangles is to construct pantomimicly (or in a sketch) a triangle in a pure perspective out in space before our eyes and it will be seen in the construction that it is necessary for every two sides to be greater than the third; for otherwise it will not be possible to have a triangle.***

* First Kant makes what he calls a metaphysical deduction of space and time, showing that neither space nor time could be derived through experience. We cannot spy here and there as appearances in themselves. That some location is here or there is not a function of the physical world, but entirely a manner of our take on that world, our perspective. Likewise every thought is always now when being thought, and so a memory is now when we have it in consciousness and the "earlier" or "before" is simply a manner of our perspective of our inner sense (of our mentality).

** The space and time of our experience are not real things on their own at all, but merely the form of our looking at appearances within the brainarium, the forms of the human perspective. If space and time were real things on their own, we would be speaking of two nothings which must exist (as nothings) in order to encompass all that does exist.

*** See essay on Circles In The Air.

Consequently, Kant wants to make clear, what we construct in time and space holds for all possible appearances/Erscheinungen; and the validity of mathematics is given through an object which is a pure perspective/Anschauung, preceding all experience, i.e., an object the viewer herself provides. This will be useful later when Kant needs to show how it is that reason cannot accomplish such knowledge via its own provision of an object later in pure reason. Pure reason will not be able to take heart from the universal application of mathematics (in the brainarium).

Summary: All objects of experience are nothing more than appearances which appear within the vista of our brainarium. And the time and space in which we see appearances in the brainarium are themselves entirely in the brainarium as the way in which we look at anything, be it appearance or even such as a triangle which is traced out pantomimicly in mid air (a pure and a priori, i.e., a non-empirical, perspective). All perspectives and all objects in this time and space of our brainarium will, therefore, be subject to the conditions of time and space (in the brainarium) as our form of looking, and for which reason also the conclusions of geometry are binding on all appearances (by being binding on all space, which is within us). This is not to say that there are no real things, but only that we can have no contact with real things on their own, but only with the appearances which represent these real things to us in terms of our sensations of color, weight, etc., and in accordance with our forms of perspective and looking.

The Transcendental Analytic

Deduction of the Categories

[The text of the Critique for this section begins on or near page 117 for the B (second) version of the CPR and on or near page 710 for the A (first) version along with Appendix II.3 on or near page 802. In what follows we will be focusing on the A version of the CPR.]

The question with regard to the Deduction has to do with the propriety or authority of the understanding to provide objects which can unify a manifold of appearances (which themselves are provided via the senses and entirely independently of the understanding) and in that way also show the reality of the provided object which the manifold is to represent. Regarding the pure perspective/Anschauung above, it was easy to show how the appearance/Erscheinung must be consistent with the conditions of our at-look/an-schauung/perspective, for nothing can appear to us except as viewed through the space and time of our looking/perspective. There we discovered how geometry provides its own object by means of a construction in space, in mid air before our eyes even. And we saw that it was only in this way that we could come to a recognition that, for example, any two sides of every triangle are greater than the third. And we then saw how this holds also for any appearances which might arise to us. And since all objects in the perspective/intuition (via time and space) must conform to time and space (as to the possibility of appearing to us at all), and since time and space are our own (and perhaps even peculiar) way of looking at appearances, all objects appearing in the senses are necessarily conformed to the conditions of space and time. Now we turn to see how it is that the understanding and its categories might have application to these same appearances.

There seems to be two directions in the first Deduction (especially prominent in the 3rd section beginning on or around page 723) which unite in the category of understanding.

Beginning with the Apperception.

On the one hand we can look at the conditions of the transcendental unity of apperception (consciousness of self). We begin with a pure, original, identical and transcendental apperception as a capacity for consciousness of self. The conditions for an actual recognition of self are the conditions for the unification of a diversity or manifold which is given as a contingent singularity via the perspective, i.e., a spectral object (such as a tree or a face in the cloud). In order to have a manifold leading to this synthesis and unification we must perceive an object.

In the pure perspective* of space we apprehend a triangle by connecting three line segments by making all their endpoints common endpoints. In the empirical perspective we have an unidentified object in general, an object = X, and in order to perceive this appearance we must peruse it in a state of mind focused on taking it (the manifold) all in, i.e., we must apprehend it, and then, as in the pantomimic description of a triangle in mid air, we must keep the perused or apprehended manifold in mind the entire time.

When we take on the consciousness called "paying attention," we differentiate time and begin a span of time and then, ever mindful of that, we accumulate the relevant manifold, e.g., the sides of a triangle, and then we must ignore all that follows in order to focus on the manifold via our imagination. We do a start, an accumulation of data, and then a stop in time. This is a pure perspective/intuition/Anschauung, for there is nothing in the synopsis of the appearances (Erscheinungen) to suggest a start or continuation or stop. Pauses in the tracing in mid air are just pauses, and not starts and stops, although we see the pauses in that way. That is our way of looking which is devised and instituted by our productive imagination in terms of this apprehension and reproduction or retention.

At this stage in the synthesis that is underway we have achieved to what is a perception. When I perceive an object I don't just stare at it blankly; I rather take it in (and this can often be done without moving the eye balls, and which would certainly be a work of the imagination) and keep it in my imagination all together as a single thing, i.e., reproduce the manifold. A related next step is to associate the manifold by conceiving of a rule which requires and orders the elements of the manifold as it appears in the empirical perspective. An example of this, I think, might be the association of the legs and top of a table, namely that the legs are between the top and the floor.* This is then adequate for the subjective identification, namely it will serve me, although I cannot require it of other people nor can I even require it for the future for myself, for there is no more necessity here at this point in time than in the face in the cloud. I spy a configuration of a manifold and can call it a table, but cannot in any way yet necessitate the manifold so that it must be so configured.**

* This goes beyond merely a rote remembrance and reproduction of the manifold of the table, for this is an ordering of the manifold via a rule which (still only subjectively) requires it, i.e., a table is a top in the air and legs going from the top to the floor. And so here the association is not yet accomplished, but I must utilize my productive imagination in finding an association to fit some rule, here, for example: not just legs and top but rather top above and legs below.

** Once I necessitate the legs and top of the table by the concept of table (to be considered below) then I see this as not only sufficient for me, but even binding on me and all others, i.e., as universally objective.

At this point we can realize that the perception so vaunted by Hume as the basis of his system of knowledge (and which failed him in the last analysis) is itself dependent upon the category of the understanding, namely: given the expectation and anticipation of a connection, the perception (careful-taking) is first undertaken.

Kant refers to such as Judgments of Perceptions in his Prolegomena (which considers much the same subject as the CPR, but in a more accessible style). Another association Kant mentions here in the Prolegomena might be noting that when the sun shines on a stone the stone grows warmer (and which means no more than thus far in the perception this has occurred; and while it will obviously be expected in the future via Hume's Law of Association, we would have no reason to be surprised if it did not). Again this holds for us subjectively and entirely without the least necessity, being no more than the application of a descriptive rule to a repeated perception.

Let us pause to note that if our consciousness of self were based on nothing more than the subjective perception, we would be able to be conscious of a manifold and even to associate it, but then that particular subjective perception would lead nowhere, and another perception would be nothing more than the contents of that new, particular manifold, i.e., no connection between the two perceptions, and perhaps even a contradiction. And so there would be no consciousness of self which is objective, but merely the unity that describes a manifold via a rule, e.g., legs between the top and the floor (regarding a table), or when the sun shines on the stone, the stone grows warm. We could in the case of this example be conscious of the top and legs together and see that they were joined by the rule in a single consciousness. But this is a subjective union which is entirely empirical and thus entirely contingent and not what is meant by necessity, nor would there be any relationship between the diverse perceptions.

For there to be an objective consciousness of self we must not merely join a manifold by means of a rule, but moreover we must bind it necessarily by means of laws. For example, once we conceive of a table as an elevated surface convenient for human use, we necessitate the manifold and see that the legs are not only between the top and the floor, but elevate the top to the desire level and, given gravity, have to be in that position.*

* This is still contingent since it is empirical, for we might find a table on its side. But the concept and recognition of table (now a necessitation of the manifold) would force the question: why? And the explanation would have to be forthcoming, for else it remains a puzzle, e.g., the table might be broken or is being painted or discarded, etc. And so it is only my means of the necessitation of the perspective (of top and then legs elevating the top for human convenience) that I could ever consider a table on its side or upside down as curious and "out of whack" and calling for an explanation.

Now this concept of the object provides the unity of the manifold which is accumulated by the apperception in paying attention; this identical and original apperception is unified in the recognition of the object via the concept. And this holds true of all objects, i.e., all are unified and recognized via a concept. But it is not just that the apperception is numerically identical with regard to all the manifold of a given perception, but is identical with regard to all perceptions in the apperception. And this leads us to experience. Experience is the unity of all the perceptions in accordance with a category (as the form of rules of the understanding which maintain unity of the apperception). Each perception then is not only a synthesis via apprehension, reproduction and association and recognition (by means of the concept, e.g., the table), but is consistent and cohesive with all perceptions, those already made and those yet to come.* **

* This latter phrase alludes to the affinity of the appearances to be introduced below.

** See Quick Take on Kant's Perceptions and the affinity of all appearances.

As a consequence of this argument we can conclude that there is a necessary referral of all appearances to the categories (as the form of apperceptual unity, as the means for providing and maintaining the numerical identity of the apperception), for it is only by means of the categories that we can recognize an object, and indeed even perceive an object, i.e., undertake the steps of accumulating a manifold and keeping it in mind via a rule in anticipation of a connection/recognition.

Beginning with the Appearance (Erscheinung).

Now we want to look at all this from the other direction starting with the appearance. We have an empirical perspective of a spectral manifold (appearances) and we apprehend and reproduce and associate it. Now the association, to the extent it is aimed at the unity of the perspective in general, is the work of the productive imagination.* **

* And so in the synthesis of the perceptions we are working with the identical consciousness of self and a total unification must be made with all perceptions in a single experience, and not just in the immediate manifold, which the subjective perception (in the association and rule) can hold together in one consciousness.

** Here we are not satisfied with merely an empirical reproduction and retention of the manifold, but undertaking an association for the sake of finding a rule which will reproduce the manifold in a way which is compatible with a category. For example, I may hear a honking and turn and see an automobile. I will then not associate this as: sound and then sighting of the car (the subjective reproduction) but rather as: car and then the honking (the objective reproduction), i.e., the car was the cause of the honking sound.

There are three possible ways to consider the appearances as a whole. They are all either part and parcel of a single nature, or some of them are ruled by laws of nature and the others are things on their own (and not subject to any rule that is universal), or else all are things on their own (and subject to no universal rules). But since the only reason for unifying a manifold objectively (instead of remaining with the subjective and contingent perception) is for the provision of necessity (in pursuit of a unified apperception); if I sought to unify a manifold, i.e., supply necessity, and if I thought of either of the last two states of the appearances above (some or all not being subject to laws), and if I presumed to provide a necessity via the concept of an object, that necessity could never materialize; for if even only one of appearances were not subject to laws of a single nature, and instead were a thing on its own, then that one might very well be the immediate manifold which I intent to unify via a concept of necessity in a particular case, and so then, of course, there would and could be no necessity; and hence also no objective united and identical consciousness of self.*

* An interesting parallel arises in the theology of John Wesley of 18th century England. He maintained against the Calvinist that if God did not love all people, if there were even one person whom God did not love, then that one could be Wesley and that would mean that the "witness of the spirit" regarding his own approach to moral perfection could be false, i.e., not a single person could have the peace which were promised by the gospel account.

As a consequence of all this we see two things: The very perception that Hume used to construct his system of skepticism is not possible except under the presupposition of the categories, for it is in anticipation of a connection that a perception (careful-take, apprehension) is first undertaken. And likewise we know a priori that all appearances are part and parcel of a single nature (and are assumed as such) and thus every manifold can be unified and can be expected to be unified.* ** ***

* Kant mentions that this connection of all appearances (the affinity) is close or remote. The blowing of the Noon whistle and the invariable movement of the train shortly after that are connected as disparate and coincidental effects of a single cause, namely the zenith of the sun (per the train's schedule), but this is a remote connection. A closer connection would be the sun light causing the stone to grow warm, or the train causing the sound of the whistle.

** We can now see that the object = X is actually the Transcendental Object = X = a single nature encompassing all objects, and for which reason we are able to expect that all possible perceptions will cohere together in a single experience, i.e., knowledge of this single nature necessarily assumed by the productive imagination (and required by the makeup of connective human understanding) on behalf of unity and the continuing identity of the consciousness of self.

*** By assuming the affinity of all appearances (a function of the categorical makeup of the apperception), i.e., that they are all together ruled by laws of a single nature, we are first able to recognize that the appearances are just that, i.e., appearances (in the brainarium), and not things on their own, e.g., we can distinguish the rainbow (as an appearance which can only be seen, but not located, in space) from the rain drops (as real objects which can be both seen and located in space).

Thus we see the accomplishment of the deduction as the only, and thus necessary, way that we come to unity of apperception (called experience). We supply an object, i.e., the Transcendental Object = X = a single nature (per the affinity), and by virtue of that have the experience that first enables us to recognize ourselves as an identical consciousness. So we justify the application of the categories, i.e., supplying the form of a nature, to the appearances. We supply an object (nature of universal laws) and are able to confirm the legitimacy of that object through the very experience that arises as a result, and which could not arise otherwise.

In this way we justify the provision of an object by the understanding, for here there is a validation and certification in the recognition of an actual empirical object.

* And it is just this, we will later discover, that is absent when pure reason dreams up its own objects (Kant's "Ideas") and concludes that they exist necessarily, e.g., free will and God. But because no object is given in pure reason (contrary to the situation with experience and the utilization of actual perceptions), reason will stumble in a vain attempt to speak out beyond the concepts of experience, and will wander about in a circle and will stumble in self-inflicted illusions.

Now before we get into a critique of pure reason itself, we need to see how these categories of understanding, these pure concepts of unification of a manifold, are actually applied with regard to their specific orientation, i.e., quantity, quality, relation and modality.

The most important point here, I think, is the affinity of the appearances, for it is only via the assumption of a nature connecting all appearances via laws that we are, and can be, on the look out for hints of rules and connection, e.g., patterns and coincidences, and that we come to apprehend and finally unify, any manifold of the appearances. Hence this affinity even leads first to the unified self itself and makes it manifest and not just a potential. But it is no coincidence that these objects that we are searching for in the appearances (objects for the appearances to represent) are of the same nature as what we have assumed of all the appearances in the first place (both being based on the same categories), namely they are found together in space and time and bound together via the categories in time and space as a single nature.

And this ties in with the conception of the pure, original and transcendental apperception. This is a framework or potentiality for combining diverse consciousness into a single consciousness. And so the affinity is seen as an expression of a single object = nature = law-determined and connected appearances, and this singularity and identity represents the apperception. We have the capacity for unification of diverse consciousnesses in a single consciousness in accordance with laws (per the categories) and the assumption regarding the appearances is that they can all be unified. Thus equipped with the pure apperception we look upon all the appearances as a single manifold called nature and which we then gradually unify in objects and experience and achieve to objective perceptions (or recognitions). For this reason we can expect all our perceptions to be compatible with each other and all to fit together in a grand whole called experience (of that single nature).

Exposition of the Object

What do we mean with “object of representations?" We have the appearance and we have the concept of an object which calls for and requires a certain manifold in an appearance. This object, which is different from both the recognition and the appearance, is only a something = X which we are able to see by adding the concept in thought to the perspective in the appearance, such that then the appearance comes to represent the object denoted by the concept.*

* When we look at a table, what do we see? This depends upon the perspective as to what this thing (the table) represents. Is it a table? Is it wood? Is that what we are looking at? Is it teak wood? Is it a table, i.e., top elevated by legs for human convenience? Is it an article of manufacture? Is it a polished finish? All this depends upon the particular perspective and which is determined by the rule/object.

And so we conceive of, and mentally assemble, a world full of spectral objects (represented by appearances) and which we acknowledge to be objectively in time and space, e.g., tables and stars. And we recognize that these objects are truly and objectively represented to us in space and time. This is the realm of human knowledge or recognition. It is called the world of experience and/or the world of nature.

But we should not forget that there may be other objects which could be fashioned and recognized, either via a perspective which were different from space and time, or independently of any sensitive perspective altogether and subject only to an intellectual perspective/Anschauung, and which we cannot imagine, and which is meaningless for humans. In this way we can better appreciate that the appearances are looked upon as representations of a something which, necessarily, remains unknown, and for us we utilize the something = X to provide ourselves with a something, the object, for the appearances to represent and avoid having to consider them as things on their own.* And there is no reason to think that other objects might not be forthcoming if it were possible to look at the appearances in some way besides time and space. But only via a perspective of time and space (as the forms of our perspective) can an object appear to us, i.e., as represented in and by the appearance.

* The appearances either represent some object, or else they have to be treated as things on their own which, as I guess, is the take of the animals where, for example, things actually do get smaller at a distance (taking "what seems to be" for "what actually is").

Hence the objects that we recognize in space and time via the categories are recognized as actual and objective, but we cannot expect any validation (and thus no use of the categories) except within the confines of experience. And this is one of the central theses of the CPR and is borne out later when Kant gets into the Dialectic of pure reason.

The Judgments Of Understanding With Regard To Objects
And The Principles Of Experience

[The text of the Critique for this section begins on or near page 156]

So far then we see that we only have contact with appearances in the brainarium (and not with things on their own) and that mathematics holds of all possible appearances, and that the objects we spy about us (and represented by appearances) are real objects for us, and our perceptions of them are authentic perceptions of real objects.* We now want to consider 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 has to do with the construction of the physical object in the mind. Next we will consider these recognized objects with respect to their existence, i.e., how they relate to time and to each other. And then finally we will consider how our recognitions fit together in a whole, a unified consciousness of self.

* This "real objects" is common and scientific talk. From a transcendental basis everything resolves to mere appearances and we never have direct contact with things on their own, about which we can only speak negatively, e.g., they are not in space and time, they are not heavy or light or large or small, etc. All we can ever know are objects as they appear in our brainarium, and never what they might be on their own apart from a brainarium..

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 an appearance as the thing on its own which gets physically smaller at a distance (which I sometimes call the animal take on appearances) or I can look at it as merely an image of the object with the object remaining unchanged in size. Here we want to justify how it is that we humans take the latter look at things, and not the former

Now I want to go through these principles and look at two alternative ways of considering the appearances for each one.


[The text of the Critique for this section begins on or near page 182]

The axioms tell us that an object is extended in space and time, and so where we can notice what we are doing as we take in the extension of objects, e.g., in the perspective of a leaf. When I sight a leaf I can simply take it as it hits my eye (in the 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 judge a sighted (viewed/intuited) object as an extended object and to apprehend its total extension. This occurs also in time as I consider, for example, the sound of a whistle as extended in time (not how loud or its pitch, but how long). And here we are dealing with the categories of quantities.


[The text of the Critique for this section begins on or near page 187]

And speaking of a whistle we can turn next 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 as before, only more or less of it, e.g., a subdued or louder whistle. When we are first confronted with the sound of a whistle, we can already on our own realize that that sound, while remaining the same pitch, could be softer, and then we can realize also in advance that it could be louder. What we then are told to do by the principle of anticipations is to judge that the sensations are all exemplified 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 size and color. It has been a construction premised on the transcendental object = X, that unknown something that we presuppose to be represented by the appearances. The Axioms and the Anticipations have a mathematical character and Kant considers them to be constitutive in opposition to following which he describes as regulative

Now we are prepared to glean information about the existence of this object, i.e., the form of its existence.

First Analogy

[The text of the Critique for this section begins on or near page 201]

The First Analogy guides us in judging 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. The material of the object, per this First Analogy, continues unchanged with respect to quantity.

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. A 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.

One of the most common experiences is having "overlooked" something in a search. This is only possible with the presupposition that all substances are enduring and neither go out of existence nor come into existence. The experience is that we were not fully focused during our search and that the missing (and now found) object was always where it was found.*

* Schopenhauer disagrees with Kant here and attributes the endurance of the object to the category of causation (next analogy below) where we cannot imagine a cause sufficient to remove and then recover the existence of the sought object.

Second Analogy

[The text of the Critique for this section begins on or near page 207]

The Second Analogy (causation) leads us into judgments regarding 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 later the fallen tree, and that is merely a subjective apprehension where there is no necessity and where the next perception might be the same tree but now standing again. 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 (per the categorical and connective makeup of the understanding) is that there is an objective apprehension and we seek it out in something which intervenes in the two perceptions as a rule, namely, for example, the perception of an ax man or a strong wind. It is by means of the rule that we are able to move from a subjective apprehension to an objective one, i.e., a recognition. All the causation principle does is to lead humans to make an objective (at least in concept) apprehension, and that means we judge that any new state is an effect, i.e., is the result of an earlier cause.*

* Our categorical mode of thinking and understanding is so constituted that for us the term “event” (something that has happen, something new) is a synonym for the term “effect” such that upon the sighting of an event we are prompted via this analogy to look about for the cause, for we know there is a cause since (per this analogy) all events are effects, i.e., effects of something preceding which was a necessary condition (the cause) for the reality of this state of things as events.**

** So the reason Hume could not find any causation in the appearances is because they are not in the appearances, but only in the mental connecting of the appearances by such categories as cause and effect, and so only in the thinking about the appearances, just as the spatial notions of here, there, and temporal notions of now and before, etc., are not in the appearances per se, but only in our looking at the appearances as the forms of our perspective.

Third Analogy

[The text of the Critique for this section begins on or near page 228]

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 categorical understanding (per this 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.*

* As an example of this I sometimes think of two people in conversation and where the facial expressions of each will be reflected to some degree in those of the other.


[The text of the Critique for this section begins on or near page 236]


Moving to the Postulates we have possibility, reality and necessity. With respect to Possibility, when we consider a statement concerning an object we can judge it as possible if it could fit in with human experience, e.g., that there could be life on some planet somewhere. 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, for example, 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 of them indifferently. This postulate enables us to make this distinction.* Otherwise we would want to consider and judge dreams just as real as waking reality itself, and neither (reality or dream) any more real than a dream.

* For more on this theme see comment on the Recognition of Dreams.


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 such water on the moon, i.e., how it is that water had to be there where found, and that will provide the necessity (and the continuing unity of consciousness). And so here we go from the possibility of a reality to a simple reality to the inclusion of that reality in the whole of experience which entails 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, since the understanding arises from a difference source (from within us) than do the appearances (given through the senses). The answer was that it was only by means of the understanding (via the connective categories) that appearances could be unified in objects of experience and that perceptions could be possible. Here, with the Principles of Understanding, we have seen how this actually occurs, how the understanding directs our attention (paying attention) and judging in a peculiar way (one of two ways for each of the principles*) and how we come up to a single experience which encompasses all objects.

* These two might be called the animal, i.e., appearances are real things such as they appear, and the human, appearances are only representations of real things.

By way of clarification we can consider the three primary objects of Kant's work in the Analytic of the Critique. We have the appearance which exists within the brainarium. Then we have the object of experience which is a composite of diverse appearances (a manifold) which are unified under the concept of an object, e.g., the diverse appearances of a tree in different seasons are united as the same tree. This is generally considered to be the thing on its own, i.e., das Ding an sich, in common and scientific talk. But in a transcendental sense, and which will become very important in the following dialectic, the object of experience is an appearance and distinct from the thing on its own. The thing on its own is merely a something which cannot be experienced except as it appears through the senses, i.e., as the object of experience, and not as it is on its own and without reference to human sensitivity and understanding.

Leibniz makes a stab at grasping the thing on its own by imagining a world of monads, points of reality which reflect the entire universe in a particular way. For example, I am sitting with my hand on my leg. The monads within the confines of my hand are expressing my hand, and the monads above my hand are expressing air. When I raise my hand, the monads that formerly expressed my hand now express air, while the monads earlier above my hand expressing air, now express my hand. It's very much like a moving sign made up of many light bulbs which blink off and on in coordination (Leibniz's "pre-established harmony") and can be seen as something, e.g., a person or words, moving across the sign. And yet there is no movement at all. And so for Leibniz the monads would be the thing on its own, and there would be no such thing as movement.

A better consideration for our understanding of Kant's conception of the thing on its own might be to consider what something looks like when it is not being looked at, or what it sounds like when no one is listening, etc. This will bring us closer to an appreciation of what Kant means with the thing on its own, a something, about which we can say nothing more than it is a something.

Brief Restatement Of Kant’s Refutation Of Hume’s System

Hume, in an effort to discredit the metaphysics of his time, denied any compulsion or necessitation to the concept of causation. Instead he asserted that what we call cause and effect was nothing more than an association of different perceptions, e.g., that lightning is followed by the sound of thunder. The only thing that was certain were the past perceptions of the lightning and those of the thunder and their sequence. There was no more connection between lightning and thunder than between A and B of the alphabet, i.e., having heard the alphabet recited so many times, the sound of A immediately brought forth the thought of B. Consequently the alleged necessary connection was merely a habit based on exposure and there could be no certain expectation of a repeat of the sequence. Essentially then what we call human understanding was made up of perceptions which can only be joined through intense or repeated exposure, and never with any compulsion. And so everything was merely subjective. And thus without any necessity to such concepts as cause and effect there is no basis for any metaphysics.

Kant agreed with Hume that the notions of cause and effect as a necessary connection could not have been arrived at via exposure and experience. Instead he considered that these notions were products of the categorical, connective makeup of the human understanding itself and thus were produced and realized independently of all exposure to objects.

But then the question arises: if these connective categories were derived independently of all exposure to objects, as Kant maintained, by what right can we expect the appearances, which for their part arise through the sensitivity and independently of the understanding, to be subject to them? For the perspective of things and the thinking of things are quite different, and yet a union between them is necessary for recognitions of experience.

Kant’s solution to Hume’s quandary proceeded in this manner: experience is indeed a connection of various perceptions by means of the categories of the understanding, but furthermore the very perceived objects of Hume’s system were themselves also subject to the categories in order to be perceived as objects, such that the perceptions utilized in Hume’s concept of human experience were only possible by means of the categories. And so without the categories there would be no perceptions, and in this way Hume’s system, based entirely upon perceptions, collapses. The perception is a careful accumulation of a manifold of data in anticipation of a connection in accordance with the categories, and thus is to this extent dependent upon the categories of understanding.

Now we are ready to turn to the Dialectic. Based on our knowledge concerning the validity of the categories and the principles of experience for the shaping of experience, we are now able to grasp how the assertions of metaphysics fail in providing recognitions, for there is no way to perceive and bind the objects of metaphysics, especially: immortality, freewill and God, and they remain merely empty concepts without objects, and for which no perspective is adequate or possible. Accordingly metaphysics ends up with Kant just as it did for Hume, a vanity of pure reason.*

* There is one advantage Kant will ultimate discover, namely by means of his Critique of Pure Reason he is also able to "limit knowledge in order to make room for faith," for he opens the door to his subsequent Critique of Practical Reason where there will be found a foundation for the acceptance of the three desired objects, i.e., immortality, freewill and God.

The Dialectic of Pure Reason

[The text of the Critique for this section begins on or near page 298]

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 (if I live long enough). 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 only by means of these that reason can be satisfied. But here, apart from the brainarium and in the realm of pure thinking alone, since there is nothing which we can conceive of as a thing of experience, we find that we have no certitude 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 instead leads to an illusion of insights. And these are unessential in explaining the appearances 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 immortality, 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 thus far unneeded (with respect to experience). In a word: they are namely Ideas, but do not represent or denote actual things, at least not as far as any human can tell.

* This becomes important later when Kant gets to his Critique of Practical Reason, for then Kant will produce a certain evidence for these three Ideas** which is compelling also due to the fact that they cannot be refuted in his Critique of Pure Reason.

** The term "Idea", spelled with an uppercase I, is a technical term for Kant and means a concept for which there is no corresponding object in any appearance.


[The text of the Critique for this section begins on or near page 336]

As of 12/17/09 I have included here a very tentative draft on a section on the Paralogisms of Soul. Here is a summary of my translation of the B version of the Paralogism.

Reason wants to get to the unconditioned of the category which the understanding has provided and proven in the construction of the object of experience and of the ensuing experience with that object, all by means of the category. With regard to the soul, while the understanding must remain 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 soar beyond that and find the unconditioned which must be (we are certain) 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, i.e., an enduring something. 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, therefore, must also exist, i.e., 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 represented as an internal appearance via my thinking) and so relates to the thinking being of the premise as the appearance of a tree relates to a tree, i.e., they are different. So we conceive of an object in the major premise (the 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 we 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, i.e., we confuse the representation of an object (the thinking of I) with the object itself (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 pure reason merely as logical relations, but in this way we think that we have gained a recognition of a fact. For example, we call the soul substance and then we analyze the category of substance and find that it means (here without an appearance and merely thinking in terms of 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. A similar problem holds with the other categories of simplicity and identity and relationships. The simple is that which is utter reality, another tautology. And the same holds for the remaining two.

Thus we dream up the (necessary) thinking entity and then we reason that we are such necessary beings, but then by basing this reasoning on a play with words, and thus rendering it meaningless, it ends up a mere Idea (without an object). 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 is understood by science. We can conclude to an an unknown something which unites our thinking and feeling, etc., into determinations of that something, but not that it cannot cease to exist (and which is precisely what we wanted to show).

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 thus merely via our thinking), 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 unify 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 and that 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 or the other. We can no more say that we continue past death than we can say that our existence ceases with death. We can say nothing at all about this sheer Idea. We want to see ourselves recognized as objects, but always appear to ourselves only as (a thinking and perceiving) subject, a major inconvenience to any objective recognition of the soul, and a subject which does not have the same meaning in the minor premise as in the major. So the vaunted rational doctrine of soul becomes merely a discipline, namely to say nothing about the endurance of the soul.


[The text of the Critique for this section begins on or near page 361]

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 appearances) 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 here 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. It is true with regard to the world considered as a thing 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 of appearances that we are arguing about, thinking it were a thing on its own. And 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 to avoid.

We speak of the world as a thing on its own (and not as the object of experience, which presupposes looking and thinking). 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 argument. And that is what we are doing here 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 of antagonists 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 misunderstanding and confusion of terms.

** The sense of this confusion between the object of experience (subject to a possible perspective) and the thing on its own (not subject to any human perspective) might be sensed in this analogy: in England (where people drive on the left side of the road) to drive on the left side is to drive on the right side, and to drive on the right side is to drive on the wrong side. Conclusion: to drive on the left side is to drive on the wrong side. The contradiction arises by using the term "right" first as "proper" and secondly as "opposite of left". And so it arises via a play on words. In a somewhat analogous manner all of reason’s vaunted proofs in the antinomies are verbal disputes with words which have different meanings, and which cannot be cleared up except by means of a critique of reason. The proofs are based on an illusion called “semblance”.

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,” as it were, and which must be uncovered and exposed in the appearance.*

* This may help. Let's consider a tree. We look at it and its 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 backside of the tree (on the other side from where we are standing and looking) is given in a static appearance. As an 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 world of appearances, 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 tree as a thing on its own. But when we consider the wood as a thing on its own (and not an appearance nor as an object of experience) and start to reason about it, we run into this trouble: that it is not a thing on its own, but only an 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 to find 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 existence of 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

[The text of the Critique for this section begins on or near pages 391 & 456]

Here we deal with the conflict between treating things as appearances and also as things on their own, and specifically the Third Antinomy concerning natural necessity and free will.

The solution 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 of a thing, and which is called the object of experience). We produce (dream up, conceive of) this thing ourselves as the concept of an existence which is under laws of the understanding, which work out to laws of nature. We assume that what we see is only an image and that the real object is out there apart from us in space, e.g., the rain or the mountain. We dream up this real object (for all we ever spy is the appearance [or specter] of the real object). It starts as the thing on its own, of which we say nothing except that it is an existing something. Then, in order to bring order to the appearances of the brainarium, we impose upon it 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 object denotes 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 perceive a violation of a law of nature, but always only natural lawfulness.

Kant observes that any sort of predicate we wish may be ascribed to the concept of the thing on its own, 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 (in his intelligible character) 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 everything is subject to the law of nature and where we can say, universally, that man is necessarily 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 an appearance 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 (the object of experience) and then also as a thing on its own.* **

* I can even dream up a leaf which, while it falls in cold and windy weather, does so freely and is not necessitated. Kant notes that we can assert anything we want to as long as we don't contradict experience or ourselves in our own thinking.

** For more on this see The Empirical And Intelligble Character.

Rational Theology

[The text of the Critique for this section begins on or near page 491]

Here we have a chapter-by-chapter treatment of the thinking in the dialectic regarding speculative proofs of the existence of God. It entails abbreviations, excerpts and paraphrases of Kant's writing.

Diagram Overview Of Kant's Theological Thinking

1st Section. The Ideal in General

We have learned that without the input of the senses the pure understanding concepts are empty, i.e., have no corresponding object. But if we have appearances corresponding to them the concepts can be presented in concreto. For example, on its own the categories of substance or causation are just notions, but when applied to appearances they render actual objects.

Ideas are similar concepts except here no corresponding appearance can be found which would be sufficient for representing them. And if the Idea is to denote a single object, that Idea is called an Ideal.

What we would call the perfection of humanity is not limited just to the properties which make up this nature and concur with its purpose, but also possesses one of all contrarily opposed predicates, i.e., the complete determination of the Idea. Thus human wisdom is an Idea, but the sage (of the Stoic) is an Ideal, a human existing only in thought, but who is entirely congruent with the Idea of wisdom. The Idea gives us the rule while the Ideal serves as the prototype, a guide for our actions and the means of comparing and improving ourselves, though never reaching this height.

The intention of reason with its Ideals, on the other hand, is the complete determination according to rules a priori. Accordingly it thinks of an object which is to be completely determinable according to principles, even though the sufficing conditions to it are lacking in experience and the concept itself, therefore, is transcendent.

2nd Section. Transcendental Ideal (Prototypon)

The proposition “every existing thing is completely determined” does not only mean that of each pair of given predicates in opposition to one another, but rather also of all possible predicates, one always befits it. Through this proposition not merely are predicates compared with one another logically, but rather the thing itself with the epitome (Inbegriff) of all possible predicates transcendentally.

In this way there arises the concept of a single object, which is completely determined through the mere Idea. And this single object must be termed an Ideal of pure reason.

All concepts of negation are derived, and it is the realities alone that contain the data and, as it were, the matter or the transcendental content to the possibility and complete determination of all things.

If, therefore, to the complete determination in our reason a transcendental substratum is laid as foundation, which contains, as it were, the entire stock of the material from which all possible predicates of things can be taken, then this substratum is nothing other than the Idea of an All-of-Reality (omnitudo realitas).

Through this total possession of reality the concept of a thing on its own, as completely determined, is also represented, and the concept of an entis realissimi is the concept of a single entity, because of all possible opposed predicates one, namely that which belongs to being utterly, is encountered in its determination.

Related to the Idea, therefore, the Ideal is the original (prototypon) of all things, which all together, as deficient copies (ectypal), take from it the material for their possibility and by more or less approaching that Ideal, still always fail infinitely far in reaching it.

This highest reality would lie as foundation to the possibility of all things and not as an epitome to the foundation. And the manifold of the former [all things] would not rest upon the restriction of the original entity itself, but rather upon its complete consequence, to which then also our entire sensitivity, together with all reality in the appearance, would belong, which cannot belong to the Idea of the highest entity as an ingredient.

We then hypostatize this Idea to determine the original entity via the sheer concept of the highest reality as single, simple, totally sufficient, eternal, etc., i.e., determine it in its unconditioned completion through all predicaments. And this concept is that of God in a transcendental understanding.

For it, being the concept of all reality, was positioned by reason as the foundation to the complete determination of things in general without requiring that all this reality be objectively given and make up a thing.

How is it that reason comes to view all possibility of things as derived from a single one, which lies as the basis, i.e., that of the highest reality? And how is it then that reason presupposes this as contained in a special, original entity?

Because that in what makes up the thing itself (in the appearance), namely the real, must be given, without which it could not even be thought at all; and since that, in which the real of all appearances is given, is the united, all-encompassing experience; it follows that the matter to the possibility of all objects of the sense, as given in an epitome, must be presupposed, upon whose restriction alone all possibility of empirical objects, their distinction from one another, and their complete determination, can rest.

Now in fact no other objects can be given to us except those of the senses, and nowhere else except in the context of a possible experience. Consequently nothing is an object for us if it does not presuppose the epitome of all empirical reality as a condition of its possibility.

According to a natural illusion we now look upon that, which actually holds only of things which are given as objects of our senses, as a foundation proposition, which would also have to hold of things in general.

3rd Section. Concerning the Basis of Proof of Speculative Reason for Inferring the Existence of a Supreme Entity

Here we seek to add impetus to the conception of the entity of all realities by considering the natural advance of reason from the recognition of a contingent existence to what is implied by that, namely: a necessary existence. We are unable to recognize this existence with respect to any condition, but when musing about it, we realize that this entity of all realities would best fit this necessity, for it possesses all reality and thus possesses the condition for all contingent conditions.

However we must keep in mind that it is possible that a conditioned existence be also necessary and so we cannot take the perfect entity (all realities) for that reason as alone necessary.

Thus we look for the highest causality and consider it the supreme causality and utilize the entity of all realities as that supreme causality.

All ways, which we may take in this pursuit, start either from the determined experience and the particular constitution of our sense world recognized by that, and ascend according to laws of causality up to the highest cause apart from the world; or empirically it places as foundation only undetermined experience, i.e., any sort of existence; or finally it abstracts from all experience and concludes entirely a priori out of mere concepts to the existence of a highest cause.

The first proof is the physico-theological, the second the cosmological and the third the ontological proof. However we will treat them in the reverse order, for this is the common approach by all musers of this matter.

4th Section. Impossibility of an Ontological Proof of the Existence of God

The problem here is how does one think a necessary entity? The only way is to show that it is a contradiction to deny it. If there is a triangle, for example, then three angles exist necessarily. But if I deny the existence of the triangle, then with it I deny also the three angles and then there is no contradiction in denying three angles.

For the sake of this proof some will include the predicate of existence in the concept of an object. If you admit that such an object is a possibility, regardless of what it may be, you will be accused of a contradiction if you then seek to deny the existence, for this existence as been artificially included in the concept as a predicate.

But existence is a determination which comes additively to the concept as a predicate, and is something beyond the predicates (which are contained within the concept). If I conceive of an object which has all perfections except one, and if I then assert that this object exists, then it will exist with just the same perfections (and limitations, i.e., one perfection excepted) as the concept, for otherwise it will not be this object that will be thought, but a different one.

The analytical, identifying mark of the possibility, which consists in the absence of contradiction in the mere positing (of realities), can indeed not be contested with it, but that is not sufficient by far to assert the reality of the thing. But the connection of all real properties in one thing is a synthesis, concerning the possibility of which we cannot a priori judge, because the realities are not given to us specifically; and even if they were, no judgment at all takes place anywhere in that because the identifying mark of the possibility of synthetic recognitions must always be counted only in experience, but to which the object of an Idea ipso facto cannot belong.

Therefore, all exertion and work are lost on this famous, ontological (cartesian) proof of the existence of a highest entity out of concepts, and a human might just as easily become richer in insight out of mere Ideas as a merchant in assets if, in order to improve his state, he wanted to add some zeros to his checkbook balance.

5th Section. Impossibility of a Cosmological Proof of the Existence of God

First we reason as follows:

“If something exist, then an utterly necessary entity must also exist.
“Now I at least exist myself.
“Therefore an utterly necessary entity exists.
“The necessary entity can be determined only in a single manner, i.e., with respect to all possible, opposed predicates, only through one of each of them. Consequently it must be completely determined through its concept.
“Now only a single concept of a thing is possible which completely determines this a priori, namely that of the entis realissimi.
“Therefore the concept of the most all real entity is the only one, through which a necessary entity can be thought, i.e., a highest entity exists in a necessary way.”

If the proposition “every utterly necessary entity is simultaneously the most all real entity (which is the nervus probandi of the cosmological proof),” is proper, then it, as all affirming judgments, must permit of reversal at least per accidens. Therefore some most all real entities are simultaneously utterly necessary entities. But now an ens realissimum is distinguished from another in no piece, and therefore what holds for some contained under this concept, also holds for all. Thus I will also be able (in this case) to utterly reverse it, i.e., every most all real entity is a necessary entity. Now because this proposition is a priori determined merely out of its concepts, the mere concept of the most real entity must also entail its absolute necessity; which is precisely what the ontological proof asserted and the cosmological did not want to acknowledge, but nonetheless must underlay to its conclusions, though in a concealed way.

So then this second way which speculative reason takes in order to prove the existence of the highest entity, is not only equally deceptive with the first, but rather has yet this fault on its own, that it commits an ignoratio elenchi by promising to conduct us on a new path, but, after a little digression, brings us back in turn to the old way which we had abandoned for the sake of this one.

The entire task of the transcendental Ideal depends upon finding either a concept for the absolute necessity, or the absolute necessity for the concept of some sort of a thing. If we can do the one, then we must also be able to do the other; for reason recognizes as utterly necessary only that which is necessary from its concept. But both approaches step entirely beyond all extreme endeavors for satisfying our understanding about this point, but then also beyond all attempts to soothe it concerning its incapacity.

Discovery and Explanation of the Dialectic Semblance in All Transcendental Proofs of the Existence of a Necessary Entity

If I must think some necessity to existing things, but am authorized to think no thing as necessary on its own, it follows unavoidable from this that such necessity and contingency would have to concern and touch not things themselves, because otherwise a contradiction would take place. Thus neither of these two foundation propositions are objective. Instead they can only be subjective principles of reason in every case, namely on the one hand to seek something which is necessary for everything which is given as existing, i.e., never to cease anywhere else except with an a priori completed explanation. But then on the other hand also never to hope for this completion, i.e., to assume nothing empirical as unconditioned, and in that way to presume a more remote derivation. In such meaning both principles, which provide nothing except the formal interest of reason, can exist quite well with one another merely heuristically and regulatively. For the one says, “you should so philosophize about nature as though there were a necessary, first foundation to everything which belongs to existence, solely in order to bring systematic unity into your recognition by following such an Idea, namely: an imagined supreme foundation.” But the other warns you to “assume no single condition which concerns the existence of things as such a foundation, i.e., as absolutely necessary, but rather to hold yourselves always yet open to further derivation and hence to treat them always as yet conditioned.” But if everything which is perceived on things must be considered by us as conditionally necessary, then also no thing (which may be empirically given) can be viewed as absolutely necessary.

The Ideal of the highest entity according to this consideration, is nothing other than a regulative principle of reason to view every connection in the world as though it arose out of an all-sufficient, necessary cause in order to base on that the rule of a systematic and, according to universal laws, necessary unity in the explanation of them, and is not an assertion of an existence necessary on its own. But it is simultaneously unavoidable to represent this formal principle to one's self by means of a transcendental subreption as constitutive and to think this unity hypostatically. For, as with space, because it originally makes possible all shapes which are solely diverse limitations of that space, even though it is only a principle of sensitivity, still just for that reason is held for a something existing utterly necessarily for itself and as an object given a priori on its own. And it also happens quite naturally that since the systematic unity of nature can in no way be set up as a principle of the empirical usage of our reason, except to the extent we place as foundation the Idea of the most all real entity as the highest cause, this Idea is represented in this way as an actual object, and in turn this as necessary because it is the supreme condition. Accordingly a regulative principle is converted into a constitutive one. This interpolation reveals in that way that if I now consider this supreme entity, which with respect to the world was utterly (unconditionally) necessary as a thing on its own, this necessity is competent of no concept, and, therefore, would have to have been encountered in my reason as a formal condition of the thinking, but not as a material and hypostatical condition of the existence.

6th Section. The Impossibility of the Physico-theological Proof

The primary moments of the physical-theological proof are as follows:

1. Everywhere in the world are found clear indicators of an order according to a determined intention, executed with great wisdom, and in a whole of indescribable manifold of contents as well also as unlimited magnitude of scope.

2. To the things of the world, this purposeful order is entirely foreign and adheres only contingently to them, i.e., the nature of diverse things could not accord together of their own to the determined final intention through such diverse means, uniting themselves, if they had not been quite especially chosen and applied to that through an arranging, rational principle.

3. There exists therefore a sublime and wise cause (or several), which must be the cause of the world not merely as a blindly effecting, all-empowered nature through fertility, but rather, as intelligence, through freedom.

4. The unity of such allows of conclusion from the unity of a reciprocal reference of the parts of the world, as members of an artificial construction, to where our observation reaches, with certitude, but further, with regard to all priciples of analogy, with probability.

According to this conclusion, the purposefulness and the synchronization of so many natural institutions would have to prove merely the contingency of the form, but not of the material, i.e., the substance, in the world. For to the latter would be yet required that it could be proven that the things of the world were unsuitable on their own to such order and accord, according to universal laws, if they, even with respect to their substance, were not the product of a highest wisdom. But for this conclusion entirely different foundations of proof than those of the analogy with human art would be required.

Therefore the proof could at most establish a master world builder, who would always be very much limited by the fitness of the material which he worked. And it would not be sufficient by far to the great intention which we have in mind, namely to prove an all-sufficient originator.

If we want to prove the contingency of the material itself, then we would have to take refuge with a transcendental argument, but which is precisely what was to be avoided here.

After we have achieved to the admiration of the magnitude of the wisdom, power, etc., of the world originator and cannot come further, then we suddenly abandon this argument, conducted through empirical bases of proof, and go to the contingency of all that, concluded right at the beginning from the order and purposefulness of the world.

Now from this contingency alone we go, solely through transcendental concepts, to the existence of an utterly necessary something and from the concept of the absolute necessity of the first cause to the completely determined or determining concept of that, namely to an all encompassing reality.

Therefore the physical-theological proof, remaining stuck in its undertaking, suddenly jumped in this embarrassment to the cosmological proof, and since this is only a camouflaged ontological proof, it actually completed its intention merely through pure reason, even though at first it had denied all kinship with this, and had staked everything upon an illuminating proof from experience.

7th Section. Critique of Every Theology from Speculative Principles of Reason

If we conclude from the existence of the things in the world to their cause, this does not belong to the natural usage of reason, but rather to the speculative. The reason for this is that the former does not refer the things themselves (substances) to some sort of cause, but rather refers only that which happens, therefore their states, as empirically contingent. That the substance itself (the material) were contingent relative to its existence would have to be a merely speculative recognition of reason. But if the discussion were only of the form of the world, the manner of its connection and its alternation, I would want to conclude from that to a cause which were entirely differentiated from the world. In that case this would be a judgment of merely speculative reason, because the object here is not at all an object of a possible experience. But then the foundation of the causality--which is valid only within the field of experience, and apart from that is of no use at all, indeed not even of any meaning--would be entirely disassociated from its determination.

Now I assert that all attempts of a merely speculative employment of reason with respect to theology are entirely fruitless and null and inane with respect to their internal constitution. Furthermore I assert that the principles of its employment regarding nature lead to no theology whatsoever. Consequently, unless we do lay moral laws as foundation or use them as guides, there can be no theology of reason at all. For all synthetic principles of the understanding are of immanent employment. But to the recognition of a highest entity a transcendent use of those is required, to which end our understanding is not equipped at all. If the empirically valid law of causality is supposed to lead to the original entity, then this would have to belong simultaneously in the chain of the objects of experience. But then it, as all appearances, would itself in turn be conditioned. But if we also permitted the jump out beyond the limit of experience by means of the dynamic law of the reference of the effects to their causes, what concept can this procedure provide us? Certainly not with the concept of a highest entity, because experience never offers us the greatest of all possible effects (except which is supposed to bear witness of its cause). In order to leave nothing empty remaining in our reason, are we to be allowed to fill up this deficiency of the complete determination through a mere Idea of the highest perfection and original necessity? Then indeed this can be admitted as a favor, but not required from the propriety of an irresistible proof. Therefore, the physico-theological proof could well provide perhaps emphasis to other proofs (if such are to be had) by connecting speculation with the perspective/Anschauung; but for itself, it prepares the understanding more for the theoretical recognition, giving it in that way a straight and natural direction, than being able alone to complete the transaction.

Therefore we easily see from this that transcendental questions permit only transcendental answers, i.e., out of sheer concepts a priori without the least empirical admixture. But the question here is obviously synthetic and demands an expansion of our recognition out beyond all limits of experience, namely to the existence of an entity which is supposed to correspond to our mere Idea, which can never be equivalent to any sort of an experience. Now according to our above proofs, every synthetic recognition a priori is only possibly by expressing the formal conditions of a possible experience, and all foundations, therefore, are only of immanent validity, i.e., they refer solely to objects of empirical reality, i.e., appearances. Therefore, also, through transcendental procure with an intention to the theology of a merely speculative reason nothing is provided.

Conclusion of the Critique of Pure Reason

We are efficacious in the construction of the object of experience and of 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) and which represent these objects for us. 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 [as Hume demonstrated through the machinations of his table]). 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 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 via pure reason.

This is a preparatory work to the Critique of Practical Reason. Here Kant wants to investigate the origin and meaning of duty, and first in the common understanding, where it is making one's maxim (subjective principle of action) into an objective law (as though a law of nature). In such wise we can understand what the common person means with duty. Generally duty is 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 or when the truth would not be beneficial personally 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 constructions, e.g., drawing a circle); counsels of prudence with respect to one's happiness; and finally categorical commands such as: one 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 or purpose. 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 free beings, a union in accordance with laws. And then we realize 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 as though a law of nature, and with rational beings being ends in themselves and as such).

In this way, by means of autonomy, we find the moral law is 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 an assumption of 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 as 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 (per the CPR above). We ascribe to that thing on its own 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 the notion of this thing on its own and conceive of ourselves as such beings, 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 then still be confronted with contrary inclinations in the sensible existence, and so instead of an unfailing compliance the laws are connected 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 (in the intelligible) does not have to happen (in the sensitive)

This conception of this two-fold representation (intelligible and sensitive) 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 meaning for the concept of duty, but have not yet established there that this concept of moral duty is in fact meaningful. This latter is our next task.

Now when we get with Kant into practical matters we will 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 of his rationality. 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, i.e., as a joke or an insanity, i.e., no real choice for a rational person. 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.**

* The feeling of moral respect that arises upon the conception of the moral law is unique in Kant's view. Normally a feeling arises only per the prompt of some exposure, e.g., a great drama or music. The moral feeling arises only by virtue of the idea of the moral law, and not otherwise.

** See Kant's proof of freedom from the standpoint of the moral recognition of both scientists and non-scientists.

And so we have freedom as a meaningful idea, but then we have a rational problem which needs attention. 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 or inane. 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 (and some call Justice). 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. In order that this Highest Good be a practical purpose for the moral law, I have to believe that I can achieve to the required existence (of moral perfection contained in the concept of the Highest Good). And looking now into possible eternities of existence, I see for the Highest Good 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, i.e., I will achieve (eventually) to moral perfection and to the requisite and commensurate happiness. In this way Kant introduces 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 (Justice) can be conceived of as a practical, i.e., attainable, goal is if there is an Omnipotent Moral Judge (God) 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 leads us naturally into a consideration of religion.

Note: a more recent and comprehensive summary of this book is found in Religion, beginning with page xiv.

Kant introduces this inquiry 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 fashioning of this world the Highest Good would be the greatest good he could 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 still fashion this Highest Good world because he knows that it is right and good and necessary 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 prescribe 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 (as the Highest Good) is needful in order for the moral act to be termed a rational (purposeful) act.

Part I - Human Evil.

The human, though certainly made for good, automatically (naturally) 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 (which are the sources of good and evil) and look instead 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.

Part II - 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 in case of a conflict. We can create the idea itself (as a product of human rationality), even though it may have first been introduced in the life of a historical man (here Kant is thinking of Jesus). 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 (via a steadfast resolution, called a conversion) 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 moral convert (the "new man") shoulders the ills that were due the “old man” and without complaint and without seeking credit for his good acts. This taking on of these theoretically infinite ills associated with a dedication to the moral principle (a disadvantage given the evil of the world) 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.

Part III - 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 in progress toward moral perfection 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, therefore, cannot be revoked or altered.

* The duty is called "curious" for while normally a person can always perform his duty, here the duty is to join with others, and since it is not certain that any others will be like-minded, it is possible he will find no one to join him in this quest for moral perfection.

Part IV - Rational Church.

And finally, since we are duty bound to join a church, we must make sure that it is a moral 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 complying with the moral law) and fetishism, where we think to bend God to our way of thinking by acting and working on Him as though He were a means for our ends; and fanaticism where we think we have divine favor or immediate and direct perfection and need not bother with moral matters. Creeds and rituals 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 moral heart and spirit. Creeds and rituals may become symbols of solidarity with all people of a certain spirit (including former generations) and thus can 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). This is permitted as long as there is a clear and supreme principle that such as creeds and rituals are dispensable, with the moral religion alone being mandory and necessary.

To contact the author or translator, please e-mail pmr@kantwesley.com
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