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A commentary to Kant's 'Critique of pure reason,' online

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and is here transcribed. Kant's mode of stating his position
is somewhat uncertain. He alternates between " the repre-
sentation of 7 and 5," " the representation of the combination
of 7 and 5," 6 and "the concepts 7 and 5." r His view would
seem to be that there are three concepts involved. For the
concept of 7 we must substitute the intuition of 7 points, for
the concept of 5 the intuition of 5 points, and for the concept
of their sum the intuitive operation of addition.

Call in the assistance of intuition, for instance our five fingers. 8
This statement, repeated from the Prolegomena? does not
represent Kant's real position. The views which he has
expressed upon the nature of arithmetical science are of the

1 i. p. 294. 2 B 15 . 3 B 15. Cf. above, p. 41.

4 Cf. Vaihinger, i. p. 296. 5 A 164. 6 A 164.

7 In Prolegomena and in second edition. 8 B 15. !) 2 c.


most contradictory character, 1 but to one point he definitely
commits himself, namely, that, like geometrical science, it
rests, not (as here asserted) upon empirical, but upon pure
intuition. 2 Except indirectly, by the reference to larger
numbers, Kant here ignores his own important distinction
between image and schema. 3 The above statement would
also make arithmetic dependent upon space.

Segner : Anfangsgriinde der Arithmetik, 4 translated from the
Latin, second edition, Halle, 1773.

Natural science (physica) contains synthetic a priori judg-
ments. 6 There is here a complication to which Vaihinger 6 has
been the first to draw attention. In the Prolegomena' 1 Kant
emphasises the distinction between physics and pure or
universal science of nature. 8 The latter treats only the a
priori form of nature (i.e. its necessary conformity to law),
and is therefore a propaedeutic to physics which involves
further empirical factors. For two reasons, however, this
universal natural science falls short of its ideal. First, it
contains empirical elements, such as the concepts of motion,
impenetrability, inertia, etc. Secondly, it refers only to the
objects of external sense, and not, as we should expect in a
universal science, to natural existences without exception, i.e.
to the objects of psychology as well as of physics. 9 But
among its principles there are, Kant adds, a few which are
purely a priori and possess the universality required : e.g. such
propositions as that substance is permanent, and that every
event has a cause. Now these are the examples which ought
to have been cited in the passage before us. Those actually
given fall entirely outside the scope of the Critique. They
are treated only in the Metaphysische Anfangsgriinde. They
belong to the relatively, not to the absolutely, pure science of
nature. The source of the confusion Vaihinger again traces
to Kant's failure to hold fast to the important distinction
between immanent and transcendent metaphysics. 10 His so-
called pure or universal natural science (nature, as above
noted, signifying for Kant " all that is ") is really immanent
metaphysics, and the propositions in regard to substance and
causality ought therefore to be classed as metaphysical. This,
indeed, is how they are viewed in the earlier sections of the
Prolegomena. The distinction later drawn in 1 5 is ignored.
Pure natural science is identified with mathematical physics,

1 Cf. below, p. 128 ff. 2 Cf. A 713 = 6 741.

3 A 140- B 179. Cf. below, p. 337 ff. 4 B 15.

5 B 17. 6 i. p. 304 ff. 7 15.

8 This latter Kant developed in his Metaphysische Anfangsgriinde (1786).

9 Cf. A 840 = 6 869. "Nature" means, in the Kantian terminology, "
that is." 10 Cf. above, pp. xliv-v, 19, 22, 33, 52-3, 55-6.


and the propositions which in 1 5 are spoken of as belonging
to pure universal natural science are now regarded as meta-
physical. " Genuinely metaphysical judgments are one and
all synthetic. . . . For instance, the proposition everything
which in things is substance is permanent is a synthetic,
and properly metaphysical judgment." 1 In 5 the principle
of causality is also cited as an example of a synthetic a priori
judgment in metaphysics. But Kant still omits to draw
a distinction between immanent and transcendent meta-
physics ; and as a consequence his classification of synthetic
a priori judgments remains thoroughly confused. They are
taken as belonging to three spheres, mathematics, physics (in
the relative sense), and metaphysics. The implication is that
this threefold distinction corresponds to the threefold division
of the Doctrine of Elements into Aesthetic, Analytic, and
Dialectic. Yet, as a matter of fact, the propositions of
mathematical physics, in so far as they are examples of
applied mathematics, are dealt with in the Aesthetic, and in
so far as they involve concepts of motion and the like fall
entirely outside the scope of the Critique, while the Analytic
deals with those metaphysical judgments (such as the principle
of causality) which are of immanent employment. 2

As the new paragraphs in the Introduction to the second
edition are transferred without essential modification from the
Prolegomena, they are open to the same criticism. To
harmonise B 17 with the real teaching of the Critique, it must
be entirely recast. Instead of "natural science" (physica)
we must read " pure universal natural science [ = immanent
metaphysics]," and for the examples given we must substi-
tute those principles of substance and causality which are
dealt with in the Analytic. The next paragraph deals with
metaphysics in its transcendent form, and accordingly states
the problem peculiar to the Dialectic.

Metaphysics. 3 This paragraph deals explicitly only with
transcendent judgments, but as the terms used are ambiguous,
it is possible that those of immanent metaphysics are also
referred to. The paragraph is not taken from the Prolego-
mena. The corresponding passage 4 in the Prolegomena deals
only with the judgments of immanent metaphysics.


2 The propositions of pure natural science are not separately treated in 4 of
the Prolegomena, though the subsequent argument implies that this has been done.
Vaihinger's inference (i. p. 310) that a paragraph, present in Kant's manuscript,
has been dropped out in the process of printing the fourth section (the section
which contains the paragraphs transposed from the end of 2) seems unavoidable.
The missing paragraph was very probably that which is here given in B 17.

3 B 18. 4 In 4 (at end of paragraphs transposed from 2).


The real problem of pure reason is contained in the question :
How are synthetic a priori judgments possible? 1 Cf. above,
pp. 26 ff, 33 ff., 43 ff-

David Hume. 2 Cf. above, pp. 61 ff.

A theoretical knowledge. 3 i.e. Kant explicitly leaves aside
the further problem, whether such judgments may not also be
possible in the practical (moral) and other spheres.

How is pure natural science possible ? 4 The note which
Kant appends shows that he is here taking natural science in
the relative sense. 5 The same irrelevant instances are again

As these sciences really exist. 6 Cf. below, p. 44 ff.

The poor progress which metaphysics has hitherto made. 7 Cf.
Preface to the second edition ; Prolegomena, 4, and A 175 ff.

How is metaphysics as a science possible ? 8 We may now
consider how this and the three preceding questions are
related to one another and to the various divisions of the.
Critique? The four subordinate questions within the main
problem How are synthetic a priori judgments possible ?
are here stated by Kant as :

1. How is pure mathematics possible?

2. How is pure natural science possible ?

3. How is metaphysics as natural disposition possible ?

4. How is metaphysics as science possible ?

There is little difficulty as regards I and 2. The first is
dealt with in the Aesthetic, and the second 10 in the Analytic,
though, owing to the complexity of the problems, the Aesthetic
and Analytic are wider than either query, and cannot be com-
pletely separated. Applied mathematics is dealt with in the
Analytics well as in the Aesthetic, and in both the determina-
tion of the limits of scientific knowledge is equally important
with that of accounting for its positive acquisitions. The
third and fourth questions raise all manner of difficulties.
Notwithstanding the identical mode of formulation, they do
not run on all fours with the two preceding. The first two
are taken as referring to actually existing and valid sciences.
It is the ground of their objective validity that is sought. But
what is investigated in the third question falsely lays claim to
the title of science ; we can enquire only as to the ground of
its subjective possibility. In the fourth question, the problem
takes still another form. Kant now seeks to determine whether
a new, not yet existing, science of metaphysics is possible, and

1 B 19. 2 B 19. 3 B 20. 4 B 20.

5 Cf. B 17. 6 B 20. 7 B 21. 8 B 22.

9 Vaihinger's analysis (i. p. 371 ff.) is invaluable. I follow it throughout.
10 When corrected as above, pp. 51-2, 66-7.


in what manner it can be validly constructed. The mani-
foldness of the problems is thus concealed by the fixity of the
common formula. 1 Now with what divisions of the Critique
are the two last questions connected ? It has been suggested 2
that the third question is dealt with in the Dialectic and the
fourth in the Methodology -, the four questions thus correspond-
ing to the four main divisions of the Critique. But this
view is untenable, especially in its view of the fourth question.
The division of the Critique is by dichotomy into doctrine of
elements and doctrine of methods, the former including the
Aesthetic and Logic, and the Logic being again divided into
Analytic and Dialectic. Its problems stand in an equally
complex subordination ; they cannot be isolated from one
another, and set merely side by side. Secondly, it has been
maintained 3 that the third question is dealt with in the intro-
duction to the Dialectic (in its doctrine of Ideas), and the
fourth in the Dialectic proper. This view is fairly satisfactory
' as regards the third question, but would involve the conclusion
that the fourth question refers only to transcendent meta-
physics, and that it therefore receives a negative answer. But
that is not Kant's view of metaphysics as a science. The
Critique is intended to issue in a new and genuine body of
metaphysical teaching.

The key to the whole problem of the four questions is not
to be found in the Critique. This section is transcribed from
4-5 of the Prolegomena, and is consequently influenced by
the general arrangement of the latter work. This fourfold
division was indeed devised for the purposes of the argument of
the Prolegomena, which is developed on the analytic method,
and for that reason it cannot be reconciled with the very
different structure of the Critique. Yet even the Prolegomena
suffers from confusion, due 4 to Kant's failure to distinguish
between universal and relative natural science on the one
hand, and between immanent and transcendent metaphysics
on the other. The four questions do not coincide with those
of the Critique. Instead of the third how is metaphysics as
natural disposition possible ? we find : how is metaphysics in
general possible ? In 4, 5, Kant's argument is clear and
straightforward. Pure mathematical science and mathematical
physics are actually existing sciences. The synthetic a priori
judgments which they contain must be recognised as valid.
Metaphysics makes similar claims. But, as is sufficiently

1 Cf. above, p. 38 ff.

2 By J. Erdmann (cited by Vaihinger, i. p. 371).

3 By B. Erdmann, Kriticismus, p. 183.

4 As above noted, pp. 66-7.


proved by the absence of agreement among philosophers,
its professions are without ground. It transgresses the
limits of possible experience, and contains only pretended
knowledge. This false transcendent metaphysics is refuted
in the Dialectic. Kant was, however, equally convinced that
an immanent metaphysics is possible, and that its grounds
and justification had been successfully given in the Analytic.
His problem as formulated in the Prolegomena is accordingly
threefold : (i) how are the existing rational sciences, mathe-
matical and physical, possible ? (2) in the light of the insight
acquired by this investigation , what is the origin and explana-
tion of the existing pretended sciences of transcendent
metaphysics? and (3) in what manner can we establish
a positive metaphysics that will harmonise with reason's
true vocation ? So far all is clear and definite. But th& un-
resolved difficulty, as to the relation in which natural science
and immanent metaphysics stand to one another, brings
confusion in its train. As already noted, 1 in 15 natural
science is displaced by immanent metaphysics (though not
under that name) ; and as a result the fourth question reduces
to the second, and the above threefold problem has to be
completely restated. The Prolegomena has, however, already
been divided into four parts ; and in the last division Kant
still continues to treat the fourth question as distinct from
that which has been dealt with in the second division, though,
as his answer shows, they are essentially the same. The
answer given is that metaphysics as a science is possible only
in and through the Critique, and that though the whole
Critique is required for this purpose, the content of the new
science is embodied in the Analytic.

In the second edition of the Critique the confusion
between natural science and immanent metaphysics still
persists, and a new source of ambiguity is added through the
reformulation of the third question. It is now limited to the
problem of the subjective origin of metaphysics as a natural
disposition. The fourth question has therefore to be widened,
so as to include transcendent as well as immanent, the old
as well as the new, metaphysics. But save for this one
alteration the entire section is inspired by considerations
foreign to the Critique ; this section, like B 17, must be
recast before it will harmonise with the subsequent argument.

Every kind of knowledge is called pure, etc. 2 These sentences
are omitted in the second edition. They have been rendered
unnecessary by the further and more adequate definition of
" pure " given in B 3 ff.

1 Above, p. 66. 2 A n.


Reason is the faculty which supplies the principles of know-
ledge a priori. 1 This statement should, as Vaihinger points
out, be interpreted in the light of A 299 = B 355.

" Reason, like understanding, can be employed in a merely formal,
i.e. logical manner, wherein it abstracts from all content of know-
ledge. But it is also capable of a real use, 2 since it contains within
itself the source of certain concepts and principles, which it does not
borrow either from the senses or from the understanding."

Reason is taken in the first of the above meanings.
Reason in its real use, when extended so as to include
pure sensibility and understanding, 3 is the pure reason
referred to in the next sentence of the Critique. A priori
is here used to signify the relatively a priori ; in the next
sentence it denotes the absolutely a priori.

An Organon of pure reason. 4 What follows, from this point
to the middle of the next section, is a good example of Kant's
patchwork method of piecing together old manuscript in the
composition of the Critique. There seems to be no way of
explaining its bewildering contradictions save by accepting
Vaihinger's 5 conclusion that it consists of three separate
accounts, written at different times, and representing different
phases in the development of Kant's views.

I. The first account, beginning with the above words and
ending with " already a considerable gain " (schon sehr viel
gewonnen ist\ is evidently the oldest. It reveals the influence
of the Dissertation. It distinguishes :

1. Critique of pure reason ( = Propaedeutic}.

2. Organon of pure reason.

3. System of pure reason.

1. Critique is a critical examination (Beurtheilung] of pure
reason, its sources and limits. The implication (obscured by
the direct relating of Critique to System] is that it prepares
the way for the Organon.

2. Organon comprehends all the principles by which pure
knowledge can be acquired and actually established.

3. System is the complete application of such an Organon.
This classification is, as Paulsen 6 was the first to remark,

an adaptation of the Dissertation standpoint.

II. The second account begins : "I entitle all knowledge
transcendental," but is broken by the third account from
"Such a Critique" to the end of the paragraph which has

1 A 1 1 = B 24.

2 Cf. Dissertation, 23 : ^^sns logicus usus realis. 3 Cf. above, p. 2.

4 A 1 1 = B 24. 5 i. p. 459 ff.

6 Entwickehmgsgeschichte der Kantifchen Erkenntnisiheorie, p. 113.


been inserted into the middle of it. It is then continued in
the next section. It distinguishes :

1 . Critique of pure reason.

2. Transcendental philosophy.

1. Critique contains the principles of all a priori synthetical
knowledge, tracing an architectonic plan which guarantees
the completeness and certainty of all the parts.

2. Transcendental philosophy contains their complete analytic
development, and is therefore the system of such know-

III. The third account ("Such a Critique" to end of
paragraph) in its main divisions follows the first account: i.
Critique, 2. Organon or Canon, 3. System. But they are now
defined in a different manner. Critique is a propaedeutic
for the Organon. But Organon, which signifies the totality of
the principles through which pure knowledge is attained and
extended, 1 may not be possible. In that case the Critique is
a preparation only for a Canon, i.e. the totality of the
principles of the proper employment of reason. 2 The Organon
or Canon, in turn, will render possible a System of the
philosophy of pure reason, the former yielding a system in
extension of a priori knowledge, the latter a system which
defines the limits of a priori knowledge.

It is impossible to reduce these divergencies to a single
consistent view. They illustrate the varying sense in which
Kant uses the term " metaphysics." In the first account,
even though that account is based on a distinction drawn
in the Dissertation, the system of metaphysics is immanent ;
in the second it is also transcendent ; in the third it is
neutral. 3

Propaedeutic. 4 That the Critique is only propaedeutic to
a System of pure reason was later denied by Kant in the
following emphatic terms :

"I must here observe that I cannot understand the attempt to
ascribe to me the view that I have sought to supply only a Propae-
deutic to transcendental philosophy, not the System of this philosophy.
Such a view could never have entered my thoughts, for I have
myself praised the systematic completeness (das vollendete Ganze) of
the pure philosophy in the Critique of Pure Reason as the best mark
of its truth." 5

1 Cf. A 795 = B 82 3- cf - below, pp. 170, 174. 2 Cf. A 796 = 6 824.

3 Cf. Vaihinger, i. pp. 461-2 for the very varied meanings in which Kant
"capriciously" employs the terms Organon, Canon, Doctrine, and Discipline.

4 A ii = B 25.

6 Rrklarung in Beziehung auf Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre (1799)} Werke
(Hartenstein), viii. p. 600.


Kant thus finally, after much vacillation in his use of the
terms, came to the conclusion that Critique, Transcendental
Philosophy, and System all coincide. Meantime he has
forgotten his own previous and conflicting utterances on
this point.

As regards speculation negative only. 1 " Speculation " here
signifies the theoretical, as opposed to the practical. 2 The
qualifying phrase is in line with other passages of the second
edition, in which it is emphasised that the conclusions of
the Critique are positive in their practical (moral) bearing. 3

Transcendental transcendent. 4 Kant was the first to
distinguish between these two terms. In the scholastic period,
in which they first appear, they were exactly synonymous,
the term transcendent being the more usual. The verb, to
transcend, appears in Augustine in its widest metaphysical
sense. " Transcende et te ipsum." " Cuncta corpora tran-
scenderunt [Platonici] quaerentes Deum ; omnem animam
mutabilesque omnes spiritus transcenderunt quaerentes sum-
mum Deum." 5 The first employment of the term in a more
specific or technical sense occurs in a treatise, De natur a generis,
falsely ascribed to Thomas Aquinas. In this treatise ens,
res, aliquid, unum, bonum, verum are entitled trans cendentia.
To understand the meaning in which the word is here used,
we have, it would seem, 6 to take account of the influence
exercised upon Aquinas by a mystical work of Arabian origin,
entitled De causis. It contained reference to the Neo-
Platonic distinction between the Aristotelian categories, which
the Neo-Platonists regarded as being derivative, and the more
universal concepts, ens, unum, verum, bonum. To these latter
concepts Aquinas gave a theological application. Ens per-
tains to essence, unum to the person of the Father, verum
to the person of the Son, bonum to the person of the Holy
Ghost. In the De natura generis the number of these
supreme concepts is increased to six by the addition of res
and aliquid, and as just stated the title transcendentia is also
now applied for the first time. In this meaning the term
transcendent and its synonym transcendental are of frequent
occurrence in Scholastic writings. The transcendentia or
trans cendentalia are those concepts which so transcend the/
categories as to be themselves predicable of the categories.
They are the " termini vel proprietates rebus omnibus cuiusque
generis convenientes" Thus Duns Scotus speaks of ens as the

1 B 25. a Cf. A xv.

3 Cf. Bxxiv. 4 A ii = 625.

5 De vera religione, 72 ; De civitate Dei, viii. 6. Cited by Eisler, Worter-
bnch, p. 1521.

Cf. Prantl, Geschichte der Logik tin Abendlande, iii. pp. 114, 244-5.


highest of the "transcendental" concepts. The term also occurs
in a more or less similar sense in the writings of Campanella,
Giordano Bruno, Francis Bacon, and Spinoza. The last
named gives a psychological explanation of the "termini
Transcendentales . . . ut Ens, Res, Aliquid " as standing for
ideas that are in the highest degree confused owing to the
multiplicity of the images which have neutralised one another
in the process of their generation. 1 Berkeley also speaks of
the "transcendental maxims" which lie outside the field of
mathematical enquiry, but which influence all the particular
sciences. 2 Evidently the term has become generalised beyond
its stricter scholastic meaning. Lambert employs transcendent
in an even looser sense to signify concepts which represent
what is common to both the corporeal and the intellectual
world. 3 We may, indeed, assert that in Kant's time -the
terms transcendent and transcendental, while still remaining
synonymous, and though used on the lines of their original
Scholastic connotation, had lost all definiteness of meaning
and all usefulness of application. Kant took advantage of
this situation to distinguish sharply between them, and to
impose upon each a meaning suitable to his new Critical

" Transcendental " is primarily employed by Kant as a
name for a certain kind of knowledge. Transcendental
knowledge is knowledge not of objects, but of the nature
and conditions of our a priori cognition of them. In other
words, a priori knowledge must not be asserted, simply because
it is a priori, to be transcendental ; this title applies only to
such knowledge as constitutes a theory or science of the
a priori.^ Transcendental knowledge and transcendental
philosophy must therefore be taken as coinciding ; and as
thus coincident, they signify the science of the possibility,
nature, and limits of a priori knowledge. The term similarly
applies to the subdivisions of the Critique. The Aesthetic is
transcendental in that it establishes the a priori character of
the forms of sensibility ; the Analytic in that It determines
the a priori principles of understanding, and the part which
they play in the constitution of knowledge ; the Dialectic in
that it defines and limits the a priori Ideas of Reason, to the

1 Ethica (Vloten and Land), ii. prop. xl. schol. I.

2 Principles of Human Knowledge, cxviii. The above citations are from
Eisler, loc. cit. pp. 1524-5. I have also myself come upon the term in Swift's

Online LibraryNorman Kemp SmithA commentary to Kant's 'Critique of pure reason,' → online text (page 13 of 72)