Wednesday, February 2, 2022

A xix-xxii, ¶ 14-16


[¶14] It can, as it seems to me, be no small inducement for the reader to unite his effort with that of the author, when he has the prospect of carrying out, according to the outline given above, a great and important piece of work, and that in a complete and lasting way. Now metaphysics, according to the concepts we will give of it here, is the only one of all the sciences that may promise that little but unified effort, and that indeed in a short time, will complete it in such a way that nothing remains to posterity except to adapt it in a didactic manner to its intentions, yet without being able to add to its content in the least. For it is nothing but the inventory of all we possess through pure reason, ordered systematically. Nothing here can escape us, because what reason brings forth entirely out of itself cannot be hidden, but is brought to light by reason itself as soon as reason's common principle has been discovered. The perfect unity of this kind of cognition, and the fact that it arises solely out of pure concepts without any influence that would extend or increase it from experience or even particular intuition, which would lead to a determinate experience, make this unconditioned completeness not only feasible but also necessary. Tecum habita, et naris quam sit tibi curta supellex. ["Dwell in your own house, and you will know how simple your possessions are"] - Persius.
[¶15] Such a system of pure (speculative) reason I hope myself to deliver under the title Metaphysics of Nature, which will be not half so extensive but will be incomparably richer in content than this critique, which had first to display the sources and conditions of its possibility, and needed to clear and level a ground that was completely overgrown. Here I expect from my reader the patience and impartiality of a judge, but there I will expect the cooperative spirit and assistance of a fellow worker; for however completely the principles of the system may be expounded in the critique, the comprehensiveness of the system itself requires also that no derivative concepts should be lacking, which, however, cannot be estimated a priori in one leap, but must be gradually sought out; likewise, just as in the former the whole synthesis of concepts has been exhausted, so in the latter it would be additionally de­manded that the same thing should take place in respect of their analysis, which would be easy and more entertainment than labor.
[¶16] I have only a few more things to remark with respect to the book's printing. Since the beginning of the printing was somewhat delayed, I was able to see only about half the proof sheets, in which I have come upon a few printing errors, though none that confuse the sense except the one occurring at page [A] 379, fourth line from the bottom, where specific should be read in place of skeptical. The Antinomy of Pure Reason, from page [A] 425 to page [A] 461, is arranged in the manner of a table, so that everything belonging to the thesis always continues on the left side and what belongs to the antithesis on the right side, which I did in order to make it easier to compare proposition and counter-proposition with one another.


After the critique is established, Kant sees the completion of metaphysics as well within reach and hopes this may entice others to join his efforts. Kant himself plans to work on a Metaphysics of Nature to fill in other pure concepts that are not covered in the Critique of Pure Reason. Kant finishes the Preface with some housekeeping about this text.


Philosophers often ask for others to join with them as co-workers, and this plea often seems to be ignored. I suspect that Kant's own plea isn't any more recognized or ignored, and I don't insist there is any more inherent reason to work alongside Kant than any other philosophers. However, I do think it is important to do as these thinkers say.
If we look at Kant's work as a whole in terms of the social efforts it promotes, we may see his interests as bound up with the success of humanity generally. His projects aim at a common ground for metaphysics, representative democracy, cosmopolitanism (human rights), the abolition of war, and universal religion. Kant even believes that the arrow of history points at these various ends. Therefore, when Kant suggests that he desires fellow workers we may do well to take this seriously. (Once more, taking Kant's plea for fellowship seriously shouldn't bar us from doing the same with any other philosophers.)
In this passage, we find a discussion of some benefits derived from the critique. In part, it amounts to a future collaboration aimed at completing metaphysics - a task that Kant doesn't think is particularly challenging. The more particular result is that we will have an inventory of the human faculties and the principles of these faculties. It isn't clear what value this may have, so it could be helpful to introduce a discussion on this.
From other texts, such as the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, we know that Kant is a proponent of the division of labor. Such a division has allowed for the individual disciplines to focus on their special problems and excel at them. If these disciplines cannot make their boundaries clear then conflicts, confusion, and error emerge that ultimately sap energy better used elsewhere. At times a confusion of this sort can bring about a complete subversion of a different pursuit. For example, we will see how the blind alley traveled by metaphysics leads to a general confusion within practical philosophy which is detrimental to any theory of morals. The inventory of principles delivered by the Critique of Pure Reason will help clarify the border disputes between the faculties of the human being and help bring them to the harmony they seem destined for. This harmony of the faculties - a recognition of their appropriate use - aims to bring about harmony among the metaphysicians and clear the air of the dust that has been kicked up in their endless fighting. The battlefield of metaphysics hasn't resulted in the advance of science but has rather hindered the ability of philosophers to contribute to society beyond the schools.
Kant's plan to complete a metaphysics of nature was never completed as he put the project off to work within moral philosophy, politics, and continued efforts in the critical philosophy. However, he did write the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science but unfortunately died while writing the Metaphysics of Nature proper.


Why does Kant think metaphysics is a project that is completable?

There are two things that seem required for something to be completable: first, it is finite, and, second, the principles that organize it are accessible. In the case of metaphysics, it deals with an object of finite complexity, namely, our own faculties, and also in a way that confines them to only their a priori employment. Were we to be concerned with the empirical study of our faculties, then there would certainly be an infinite amount of variation that we could potentially encounter. However, when dealing with only the a priori employment of our faculties we can expect to witness all of their effects continuously rather than having to hunt them out in diverse experiences. As for accessing the principles of metaphysics, this requires a focal point we can become aware of from which we can develop an understanding of the a priori use of our faculties. In the Critique of Pure Reason, the object of possible experience will serve as such a focal point.


principles (Principien)

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