Thursday, May 19, 2022

B xxiv - xxxi, ¶ 14


But it will be asked: What sort of treasure is it that we intend to leave to posterity, in the form of a metaphysics that has been purified through criticism but thereby also brought into a changeless state?e On a cursory overview of this work, one might believe that one perceives it to be only of negative utility, teaching us never to venture with speculative reason beyond the boundaries of experience; and in fact that is its first usefulness. But this utility soon becomes positive when we become aware that the principles with which speculative reason ventures beyond its boundaries do not in fact result in extending our use of reason, but rather, if one considers them more closely, inevitably result in narrowing it by threatening to extend the boundaries of sensibility, to which these principles really belong, beyond everything, and so even to dislodge the use of pure (practical) reason. Hence a critique that limits the speculative use of reason is, to be sure, to that extent negative, but because it simultaneously removes an obstacle that limits or even threatens to wipe out the practical use of reason, this critique is also in fact of positive and very important utility, as soon as we have convinced ourselves that there is an absolutely necessary practical use of pure reason (the moral use), in which reason unavoidably extends itself beyond the boundaries of sensibility, without needing any assistance from speculative reason, but in which it must also be made secure against any counteraction from the latter, in order not to fall into contradiction with itself. To deny that this service of criticism is of any positive utility would be as much as to say that the police are of no positive utility because their chief business is to put a stop to the violence that citizens have to fear from other citizens, so that each can carry on his own affairs in peace and safety.'7 In the analytical part of the critique it is proved that space and time are only forms of sensible intuition, and therefore only conditions of the existence of the things as appearances, further that we have no concepts of the understanding and hence no elements for the cognition of things except insofar as an intuition can be given corresponding to these concepts, consequently that we can have cognition of no object as a thing in itself, but only insofar as it is an object of sensible intuition, i.e. as an appearance; from which follows the limitation of all even possible speculative cognition of reason to mere objects of experience. Yet the reservation must also be well noted, that even if we cannot cognize these same objects as things in themselves, we at least must be able to think them as things in themselves.* For otherwise there would follow the absurd proposition that there is an appearance without anything that appears. Now if we were to assume that the distinction between things as objects of experience and the very same things as things in themselves, which our critique has made necessary, were not made at all, then the principle of causality, and hence the mechanism of nature in determining causality, would be valid of all things in general as efficient causes. I would not be able to say of one and the same thing, e.g., the human soul, that its will is free and yet that it is simultaneously subject to natural necessity, i.e., that it is not free, without falling into an obvious contradiction; because in both propositions I would have taken the soul in just the same meaning, namely as a thing in general (as a thing" in itself), and without prior critique, I could not have taken it otherwise. But if the critique has not erred in teaching that the object should be taken in a twofold meaning, namely as appearance or as thing in itself; if its deduction of the pure concepts of the understanding is correct, and hence the principle of causality applies only to things taken in the first sense, namely insofar as they are objects of experience, while things in the second meaning are not subject to it; then just the same will is thought of in the appearance (in visible actions) as necessarily subject to the law of nature and to this extent not free, while yet on the other hand it is thought of as belonging to a thing in itself as not subject to that law, and hence free, without any contradiction hereby occurring. Now although I cannot cognize my soul, considered from the latter side, through any speculative reason (still less through empirical observation), and hence I cannot cognize freedom as a property of any being to which I ascribe effects in the world of sense, because then I would have to cognize such an existence as determined, and yet not as determined in time (which is impossible, since I cannot support my concept with any intuition), nevertheless, I can think freedom to myself, i.e., the representation of it at least contains no contradiction in itself, so long as our critical distinction prevails between the two ways of representing (sensible and intellectual), along with the limitation of the pure concepts of the understanding arising from it, and hence that of the principles flowing from them. Now suppose that morality necessarily presupposes freedom (in the strictest sense) as a property of our will, citing a priori as data for this freedom certain original practical principles lying in our reason, which would be absolutely impossible without the presupposition of freedom, yet that speculative reason had proved that freedom cannot be thought at all, then that presupposition, namely the moral one, would necessarily have to yield to the other one, whose opposite contains an obvious contradiction; consequently freedom and with it morality (for the latter would contain no contradiction if freedom were not already presupposed) would have to give way to the mechanism of nature. But then, since for morality I need nothing more than that freedom should not contradict itself, that it should at least be thinkable that it should place no hindrance in the way of the mechanism of nature in the same action (taken in another relation), without it being necessary for me to have any further insight into it: the doctrine of morality asserts its place and the doctrine of nature its own, which, however, would not have occurred if criticism had not first taught us of our unavoidable ignorance in respect of the things in themselves and limited everything that we can cognize theoretically to mere appearances. Just the same sort of exposition of the positive utility of critical principles of pure reason can be given in respect to the concepts of God and of the simple nature of our soul, which, however, I forgo for the sake of brevity. Thus I cannot even assume God, freedom and immortality for the sake of the necessary practical use of my reason unless I simultaneously deprive speculative reason of its pretension to extravagant insights; because in order to attain to such insights, speculative reason would have to help itself to principles that in fact reach only to objects of possible experience, and which, if they were to b e applied to what cannot be an object of experience, then they would always actually transform it into an appearance, and thus declare all practical extension of pure reason to be impossible. Thus I had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith; and the dogmatism of metaphysics, i.e., the prejudice that without criticism reason can make progress in metaphysics, is the true source of all unbelief conflicting with morality, which unbelief is always very dogmatic. - Thus even if it cannot be all that difficult to leave to posterity the legacy of a systematic metaphysics, constructed according to the cri- tique of pure reason, this is still a gift deserving of no small respect; to see this, we need merely to compare the culture of reason that is set on the course of a secure science with reason's unfounded groping and friv- olous wandering about without critique, or to consider how much bet- ter young people hungry for knowledge might spend their time than in the usual dogmatism that gives so early and so much encouragement to their complacent quibbling about things they do not understand, and things into which neither they nor anyone else in the world will ever have any insight, or even encourages them to launch on the invention of new thoughts and opinions, and thus to neglect to learn the wellgrounded sciences; but we see it above all when we take account of the way criticism puts an end for all future time to objections against moral- ity and religion in a Socratic way, namely by the clearest proof of the ignorance of the opponent. For there has always been some metaphysics or other to be met with in the world, and there will always continue to be one, and with it a dialectic of pure reason, because dialectic is natural to reason. Hence it is the first and most important occupation of philosophy to deprive dialectic once and for all of all disadvantageous influence, by blocking off the source of the errors.
* To cognize an object, it is required that I be able to prove its possibility (whether by the testimony of experience from its actuality or a priori through reason). But I can think whatever I like, as long as I do not contradict myself, i.e., as long as my concept is a possible thought, even if I cannot give any assurance whether or not there is a corresponding object' somewhere within the sum total of all possibilities. But in order to ascribe objective validity to such a concept (real possibility, for the first sort of possibility was merely logical) something more is required. This "more," however, need not be sought in theoretical sources of cognition; it may also lie in practical ones.


If we wonder what benefits we gain from the critique we find, 1) first a negative benefit of knowing the limits of our cognition and metaphysics, but from this stems 2) a second benefit, which is preventing harm to other areas of our cognition. A metaphysics that overextends itself also overextends the use of its principles and, as a result, these principles conflict with those of other sciences. 3) A third benefit comes if you compare the cultures of metaphysics pre- and post- critique: after critique much less time will be wasted on fighting about illusions which we always have to confront and which 4) a fourth benefit of critique is to be able to handle these dialectics more efficiently since they will periodically arise.


Here we see a warrant for the critique but also a brief sketch of an argument that Kant repeats frequently: the case for the compatibility of free will and determinism. This argument, produced by the Critique of Pure Reason, is likely the best warrant for the critical project as a whole and opens a new line of inquiry for metaphysics. Because of its importance it is worth spending some time considering it, however, because Kant only provides a glance at the argument, and also because we will get this argument later in the book, I won't try to provide a complete account for it here.
Free will is our capacity to put ourselves under laws. These laws are called laws of freedom and are distinct from laws of nature. Laws of any kind necessitate something and so if we have more than one kind of law we should see different kinds of necessitation as well. We encounter the necessitation of natural laws in experience whenever something happens, for happening requires that what appears to us has undergone an alteration and so there is a necessary connection to what has come before (namely, the necessary connection of time itself, of the present with the past). The necessitation of laws of freedom are encountered by us in the form of obligation which consists in our thought that we cannot exempt ourselves from performing or abstaining from an action or goal. The laws of nature govern a connection in experience between two moments (in time), while the laws of freedom govern a connection between something which doesn't appear (i.e., the will) and something which would appear (i.e., the act we are obliged to perform).
Laws of nature are laws for experience and ultimately only concern the necessary connection of appearances. Laws of freedom are recognized by us in the form of obligation and when we act we may interpret these actions as not only in accord with these obligations but as arising from them. This connection between our action and the will that performed it as a result of the necessitation of moral laws is a connection between an appearance and something merely intelligible (something we only think). So, we can see that the laws of nature connect experience itself together (apperance to appearance) while laws of freedom connect appearance to something we merely think (i.e., the will). From this we can avoid the contradiction which seemed unavoidable between laws of nature and freedom. Of course, this is no proof of freedom, but only a demonstration that laws of freedom could be consistent with those of nature if these two bodies of law are taken toconcern entirely different kinds of connections.
The example of the conflict between free will and determinism and the critical resolution of the conflict illustrates the points Kant makes in favor of the critique, for 1) we see that a speculative metaphysics is unable to determine a resolution to the conflict since it would require a use of our concepts that transcends experience; 2) it also prevents all manner of confusions that arise from the over-extension of our concepts beyond experience, for as soon as you open the door to this it becomes hard to set a limit to specious inferences; 3) this should help put a stop to many fruitless disputes and in a way satisfactory to both factions and 4) in an efficient manner.
Kant makes a famous statement in this passage which also warrants comment: "I had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith;" This quote may be troubling to some or simply curious to others. In brief, what Kant is saying is that critique of pure reason shuts off certain avenues that were thought to open up knowledge of objects such as God and in the place of these hopes for knowledge faith (belief) is the only avenue left. This faith, as has already been suggested in the discussion of free will, is related ultimately to our moral life. As a historical note, there were many controversies in Kant's time between individuals who wanted to employ reason in matters of faith and those who did not. This is another point where Kant seems to be treading a middle path because his solution makes use of reason so far as it is part of our natural disposition (as moral agents), but it suggests we cannot make use of reasoning to come to the conclusions we would wish to have about God.


negative (negativ), positive (positiv), speculative reason (spekulative Vernunft), faith/belief (glaube), things in themselves (ding an sich selbst), objects of experience (Gegenstand der Erfahrung), freedom (Freiheit)