Friday, January 28, 2022

A xv-xvii, ¶ 10-12


[¶10] Furthermore certainty and clarity, two things that concern the form of the investigation, are to be viewed as essential demands, which may rightly be made on the author who ventures upon so slippery an undertaking.
[¶11] As far as certainty is concerned, I have myself pronounced the judgment that in this kind of inquiry it is in no way allowed to hold opinions, and that anything that even looks like an hypothesis is a forbidden commodity, which should not be put up for sale even at the lowest price but must be confiscated as soon as it is discovered. For every cognition that is supposed to be certain a priori proclaims that it wants to be held for absolutely necessary, and even more is this true of a determination of all pure cognitions a priori, which is to be the standard and thus even the example of all apodictic (philosophical) certainty. Whether I have performed what I have just pledged in that respect remains wholly to the judgment of the reader, since it is appropriate for an author only to present the grounds, but not to judge about their effect on his judges. But in order that he should not inadvertently be the cause of weakening his own arguments, the author may be permitted to note himself those places that, even though they pertain only to the incidental end of the work, may be the occasion for some mistrust, in order that he may in a timely manner counteract the influence that even the reader's slightest reservation on this point may have on his judgment over the chief end.
[¶12] I am acquainted with no investigations more important for getting to the bottom of that faculty we call the understanding, and at the same time for the determination of the rules and boundaries of its use, than those I have undertaken in the second chapter of the Transcendental Analytic, under the title Deduction of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding; they are also the investigations that have cost me the most, but I hope not unrewarded, effort. This inquiry, which goes rather deep, has two sides. One side refers to the objects of the pure understanding, and is supposed to demonstrate and make comprehensible the objective validity of its concepts a priori; thus it belongs essentially to my ends. The other side deals with the pure understanding itself, concerning its possibility and the powers of cognition on which it itself rests; thus it considers it in a subjective relation, and although this exposition is of great importance in respect of my chief end, it does not belong essentially to it; because the chief question always remains: "What and how much can understanding and reason cognize free of all experience?" and not: "How is the faculty of thinking itself possible?" Since the latter question is something like the search for the cause of a given effect, and is therefore something like a hypothesis (although, as I will elsewhere take the opportunity to show, this is not in fact how matters stand), it appears as if I am taking the liberty in this case of expressing an opinion, and that the reader might therefore be free to hold another opinion. In view of this I must remind the reader in advance that even in case my subjective deduction does not produce the complete conviction that I expect, the objective deduction that is my primary concern would come into its full strength, on which what is said at pages [A] 92-3 should even be sufficient by itself.


Regarding certainty (clarity is dealt with next): one cannot hold opinions or hypotheses as apodictic judgments, and since the Critique concerns apodictic judgments it is also banned from opinions or hypotheses. Kant is concerned the reader may misunderstand the deduction by believing it to be a hypothesis or opinion when it is really trying to express an apodictic judgment central to the grounding of the critique. The deduction does has an objective part (A92-3), which is said to be of essential importance, as well as a subjective part is important but apparently not essential.


Many readers may find Kant's pursuit of certainty to be arbitrary and a reflection of some personal need, but it is important to note how the demand for certainty comes from the nature of the project being pursued. The critique, since it concerns "the standard and thus even the example of all apodictic (philosophical) certainty" must pursue its topics purely a priori. In these circumstances, one can only make a judgment if one can demonstrate that there are no other options. If there are other options, then there would be no sufficient (a priori) objective grounds for any of the options and so there would only be room for belief or opinion. Were Kant to depend upon arguments grounded in his opinion, then, lacking objective grounds, it would be unlikely that the community he is writing for would be able to judge or participate in the critical project. So, certainty isn't something Kant seeks arbitrarily, but is crucial for a project that excplicitly is soliciting a community to join him. There is a useful aside to be made here about the role of community in Kant's thought.

Kant presupposes certain agreements with the audience, and these play a crucial role in framing and justifying Kant's thought. For example, it is assumed that we are in possession of mathemtics and natural science, and that we are unwilling to give these sciences up. Kant uses the necessity found in these sciences as footholds, and were we willing to give these up, Kant's argument would collapse. The necessity of the sciences is only possible if we posit certain faculties of our mind, and Kant wants to describe just those elements required. Moments where Kant relies on these common agreements will be pointed out as they arise.
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Kant tells us that the objective deduction is most essential and also where to find it (i.e., A92-3). This objective deduction is given in a single paragraph which remained unchanged between the A and B editions, while the so-called subjective deduction was completely reworked. The difference between objective and subjective generally will need to be covered elsewhere, but here it is sufficient to see how Kant characterizes these two deductions. The objective deduction regards the aim of critique that we have already seen: the extent of our cognitions a priori, while the subjective deduction concerns the possibility of our thinking. These two questions are linked to each other since the problem of the extent of our cognition, when answered, allows us to recognize what powers we must assume in ourselves (so that we are equal to ourselves).


Why is certainty a concern for the form of the investigation and not the content?

It is typical to consider certainty as a quality of contents, for example, that they are undoubtable so it is unclear how they have to do with form. Towards understanding this, a hint in the text comes from how hypotheses and opinions are banned from the critique. Kant discusses opinions in the Critique (as well as in lectures) alongside belief and knowledge as differing depending upon the relationship of grounds for our judgment. If there are grounds we are conscious of then holding-to-be-true will be either knowledge or belief, while if there are no grounds we are conscious of then we will only have an opinion. From this it seems that the form of the discussion Kant will give requires that we become conscious of the grounds for the judgments that he makes, and he cannot make arbitrary assertions. Opinions lack grounds of any sort, so regardless of the content expressing opinions will always lack this form (the relation between the grounds and the holding-to-be-true).


certainty (Geweißheit), a priori, deduction (Deduktion), form (Form), opinion (meinung), hypothesis (Hypotheses)


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