Thursday, January 13, 2022

A x-xii, ¶ 5-6

Text

[¶5] For it is pointless to affect indifference with respect to such inquiries, to whose object human nature cannot be indifferent. Moreover, however much they may think to make themselves unrecognizable by exchanging the language of the schools for a popular style, these so called indifferentists, to the extent that they think anything at all, al­ways unavoidably fall back into metaphysical assertions, which they yet professed so much to despise. Nevertheless this indifference, occurring amid the flourishing of all sciences, and directed precisely at those sciences whose results (if such are to be had at all) we could least do without, is a phenomenon deserving our attention and reflection. This is evidently the effect not of the thoughtlessness of our age, but of its ripened power of judgment,* which will no longer be put off with illusory knowledge, and which demands that reason should take on anew the most difficult of all its tasks, namely, that of self-knowledge, and to institute a court of justice, by which reason may secure its rightful claims while dismissing all its groundless pretensions, and this not by mere decrees but according to its own eternal and unchangeable laws; and this court is none other than the critique of pure reason itself.
[¶6] Yet by this I do not understand a critique of books and systems, but a critique of the faculty of reason in general, in respect of all the cognitions after which reason might strive independently of all experience, and hence the decision about the possibility or impossibility of a metaphysics in general, and the determination of its sources, as well as its extent and boundaries, all, however, from principles.
* Now and again one hears complaints about the superficiality of our age's way of thinking, and about the decay of well-grounded science. Yet I do not see that those sciences whose grounds are well laid, such as mathematics, physics, etc., in the least deserve this charge; rather, they maintain their old reputation for well-groundedness, and in the case of natural science, even surpass it. This same spirit would also prove itself effective in other species of cognition if only care had first been taken to correct their principles. In the absence of this, indifference, doubt, and finally strict criticism are rather proofs of a well grounded way of thinking. Our age is the genuine age of criticism, to which everything must submit. Religion through its holiness and legislation through its majesty commonly seek to exempt themselves from it. But in this way they excite a just suspicion against themselves, and cannot lay claim to that unfeigned respect that reason grants only to that which has been able to withstand its free and public examination.

Summary

Indifferentism suggests a demand for a project that would make metaphysics more secure. Critique of Pure Reason is such a project that will settle the matter of the possibility of metaphysics as well as its boundaries.

Commentary

Different philosophers have various subjective quirks to their thought. For example, few would deny the optimism of Leibniz or the pessimism of Schopenhauer. Recognizing some of these attitudes can be important for understanding certain turns that are taken in the work of a philosopher, and it is no different here with Kant.
A recurring element of Kant's thought is an optimistic teleology described in the following maxim: when something negative is encountered, to interpret it as having a purposiveness pointing towards something positive. Another version may just be, all things go towards the good. Examples of this optimism illustrate this further: the horrors of war recommend peace, and mosquito-filled swamps exist to call forth human ingenuity in order to drain them. In the current text, indifferentism points to a demand for a better ground for metaphysics. The most important example in the critique is how, the limitations in the use of our pure concepts indicate a different and positive direction of metaphysics grounded in moral philosophy.
Critique of pure reason is the name of a science that answers this call, looking to evaluate the possibility and extent of our cognitions (i.e., thoughts about objects) so far as these are attempted independently of experience. The critique will make the extent of cognition explicit by showing principles that must be at work in it. Therefore, the first objective of this work will be to develop these principles for evaluating cognitions. This will be carried out in the Transcendental Aesthetic and the first division of the Transcendental Logic called Transcendental Analytic.

Questions

Where does Kant see the current indifferentism?

I'm not sure what particular figures he is referring to.

Terminology

critique of pure reason (Critik der reinen vernunft), cognition (Erkenntnisse)

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