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

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definition of the Idea of the unconditioned. In the Ideas of
Reason Kant comes to recognise the existence of concepts
which do not conform to the reflective type analysed by the
traditional logic, and to perceive that these Ideas can yield

1 A 289=6345.

2 More exactly between the writing of the Metaphysical First Principles (in
which as above noted the argument of the Prolegomena is endorsed) and 1787.

3 Cf. A 260 ff. =B 316 ff. on the Amphiboly of Reflective Concepts.

4 The Dissertation cites the argument only with this purpose in view. And
yet it is only from the Dissertation standpoint that the wider argument of the
Prolegomena can be legitimately propounded.

6 Above, pp. 96-8, 102 n. 4; below, pp. 390-1.


a deeper insight than any possible to the discursive under-
standing. The above rationalistic assumption must not,
therefore, pass unchallenged. It may be that in the noumenal
sphere all partial realities are conditioned by an unconditioned

Concluding Paragraph. 1 The wording of this paragraph is
in keeping with the increased emphasis which in the Intro-
duction to the second edition is given to the problem, how
a priori synthetic judgments are possible. Kant character-
istically fails to distinguish between the problems of pure
and applied mathematics, with resulting inconsecutiveness in
his argumentation.

1 B73-




I. Concerning Logic in General. This Introduction?- which
falls into four divisions, is extremely diffuse, and contributes
little that is of more than merely architectonic value. It is
a repetition of the last section of the general Introduction, and
of the introductory paragraphs of the Aesthetic^ but takes no
account of the definitions given in either of those two places.
It does not, therefore, seem likely that it could have been
written in immediate sequence upon the Aesthetic. It is prob-
ably later than the main body of the Analytic? In any case
it is externally tacked on to it ; as Adickes has noted, 3 it
is completely ignored in the opening section of the Analytic*

In treating of intuition in the first sentence, Kant seems
to have in view only empirical intuition. 5 Yet he at once
proceeds to state that intuition may be pure as well as
empirical. 6 Also, in asserting that " pure intuition contains
only the form under which something is intuited," Kant
would seem to be adopting the view that it does not yield
its own manifold, a conclusion which he does not, however,
himself draw.

In defining sensibility, 7 Kant again ignores pure intuition.
Sensuous intuition, it is stated, is the mode in which we are
affected by objects. 8 Understanding, in turn, is defined only

1 A 50 = B 74. 2 Cf. below, p. 176 . i.

3 K. p. 99 n. 4 A 64 = 6 89.

5 The definition of intuition given in A 19 = B 33 also applies only to empirical

6 For discussion of Kant's view of sensation as the matter of sensuous intuition,
cf. above, p. 80 ff.

7 Second paragraph, A 51 = B 75.

8 Object (Gegenstand) is here used in the strict sense and no longer as merely
equivalent to content (Inhalt).



in its opposition to sensibility, in the ordinary meaning of
that term. Understanding is the faculty which yields thought
of the object to which sense -affection is due. It is "the
power of thinking the object of sensuous intuition " ; and
acts, it is implied, in and through pure concepts which it
supplies out of itself.

"Without sensibility objects would not be given to us [i.e. the
impressions, in themselves merely subjective contents, through
which alone independent objects can be revealed to us, would be
wanting] ; without understanding they would not be thought by us
[i.e. they would be apprehended only in the form in which they are
given, viz. as subjective modes of our sensibility]."

Kant has not yet developed the thesis which the central
argument of the Analytic is directed to prove, namely, that
save through the combination of intuition and conception no
consciousness whatsoever is possible. In these paragraphs
he still implies that though concepts without intuition are
empty they are not meaningless, and that though intuitions
without concepts are blind they are not empty. 1 Their union
is necessary for genuine knowledge, but not for the existence
of consciousness as such.

" It is just as necessary to make our concepts sensuous, i.e. to
add to them their object in intuition, as to make our intuitions
intelligible, i.e. to bring them under concepts."

i Kant's final Critical teaching is very different from this.
Concepts are not first given in their purity, nor is "their
object " added in intuition. Only through concepts is appre-
hension of an object possible, and only in and through such
apprehension do concepts come to consciousness. Nor are
intuitions "made intelligible" by being "brought under con-
cepts." Only as thus conceptually interpreted can they exist
for consciousness. The co-operation of concept and intuition
is necessary for consciousness in any and every form, even
the simplest and most indefinite. Consciousness of the
subjective is possible only in and through consciousness
of the objective, and vice versa. The dualistic separation
of sensibility from understanding persists, however, even in
Kant's later utterances ; and, as above stated, 2 to this sharp
opposition are due both the strength and the weakness of
Kant's teaching. Intuition and conception must, he here
insists, be carefully distinguished. Aesthetic is the " science
of the rules of sensibility in general." Logic is the " science
of the rules of understanding in general."

1 Cf. above, p. 79 ff. 2 P. 85.



Kant's classification of the various kinds of logic l may be

exhibited as follows :

f pure

f general -j

[ applied.



Adickes 2 criticises Kant's classification as defective, owing
to the omission of the intermediate concept ' ordinary.'
Adickes therefore gives the following table :








General logic is a logic of elements, i.e. of the absolutely
necessary laws of thought, in abstraction from all differences
in the objects dealt with, i.e. from all content, whether empiri-
cal or transcendental. It is a canon of the understanding in
its general discursive or analytic employment. When it is
pure, it takes no account of the empirical psychological con-
ditions under which the understanding has to act. When it
is developed as an applied logic, it proceeds to formulate
rules for the employment of understanding under these sub-
jective conditions. It is then neither canon, nor organon, but
simply a catharticon of the ordinary understanding. Special
logic is the organon of this or that science, i.e. of the rules
governing correct thinking in regard to a certain class of
objects. Only pure general logic is a pure doctrine of reason.
It alone is absolutely independent of sensibility, of everything
empirical, and therefore of psychology. Such pure logic is
a body of demonstrative teaching, completely a priori. It
stands to applied logic in the same relation as pure to applied

"Some logicians, indeed, affirm that logic presupposes psycho-
logical principles. But it is just as inappropriate to bring principles

Third paragraph, A 52 = 6 77.

K. p. 100.


of this kind into logic as to derive the science of morals from life.
If we were to take the principles from psychology, that is, from
observations on our understanding, we should merely see how
thought takes place, and how it is affected by the manifold sub-
jective hindrances and conditions ; so that this would lead only to
the knowledge of contingent laws. But in logic the question is not
of continge?it, but of necessary laws ; not how we do think, but how
we ought to think. The rules of logic, then, must not be derived
from the contingent, but from the necessary use of the understanding
which without any psychology a man finds in himself. In logic we
do not want to know how the understanding is and thinks, and how
it has hitherto proceeded in thinking, but how it ought to proceed
in thinking. Its business is to teach us the correct use of reason,
that is, the use which is consistent with itself." 1

By a canon Kant means a system of a priori principles for
the correct employment of a certain faculty of knowledge. 2
By an organon Kant means instruction as to how knowledge
may be extended, how new knowledge may be acquired. A
canon formulates positive principles through the application
of which a faculty can be directed and disciplined. A canon
is therefore a discipline based on positive principles of correct
use. The term discipline is, however, reserved by Kant 3 to
signify a purely negative teaching, which seeks only to
prevent error and to check the tendency to deviate from
rules. When a faculty has no correct use (as, for instance,
pure speculative reason), it is subject only to a discipline,
not to a canon. A discipline is thus " a separate, negative
code," "a system of caution and self-examination." It is
further distinguished from a canon by its taking account
of other than purely a priori conditions. It is related to a
pure canon much as applied is related to general logic. As a
canon supplies principles for the directing of a faculty, its dis-
tinction from an organon obviously cannot be made hard and
fast. But here as elsewhere Kant, though rigorous and
almost pedantic in the drawing of distinctions, is corre-
spondingly careless in their application. He describes special
logic as the organon of this or that science. 4 We should ex-
pect from the definition given in the preceding sentence that
it would rather be viewed as a canon. In A 46 = B 63 Kant
speaks of the Aesthetic as an organon.

II. Concerning Transcendental Logic. It is with the distinc-
tion between general and transcendental logic that Kant is
chiefly concerned. It is a distinction which he has himself

1 Kant's Logik : Einleitung, i. (Abbott's trans, p. 4).

2 Cf. A 796 = B 824; A 130 = 6 169; also above, pp. 71-2. 3 A 709 = 6 737.
4 Logik: Einleittmg) i. (Eng. trans, p. 3).


invented, and which is of fundamental importance for the
purposes of the Critique. Transcendental logic is the new
science which he seeks to expound in this second main division
of the Doctrine of Elements. The distinction, from which all
the differences between the two sciences follow, is that while
general logic abstracts from all differences in the objects
known, transcendental logic abstracts only from .empirical
content. On the supposition, not yet proved by Kant, but
asserted in anticipation, that there exist pure a priori con-
cepts which are valid of objects, there will exist a science
distinct in nature and different in purpose from general
logic. The two logics will agree in being a priori, but other-
wise they will differ in all essential respects.

The reference in A 5 5 = B 79 to the forms of intuition is
somewhat ambiguous. Kant might be taken as meaning that
in transcendental logic abstraction is made not only from
everything empirical but also from all intuition. That is not,
however, Kant's real view, or at least not his final view.
In sections A 76-7 = 6 102, A 130-1=6 170, and A 135-6
= B 174-5, which are probably all of later origin, he states
his position in the clearest terms. Transcendental logic, he
there declares, differs from general logic in that it is not called
upon to abstract from the pure a priori manifolds of intuition. 1
This involves, it may be noted, the recognition, so much more
pronounced in the later developments of Kant's Critical
teaching, of space and time as not merely forms for the
apprehension of sensuous manifolds but as themselves pre-
senting to the mind independent manifolds of a priori nature.

As the term transcendental indicates, the new logic will
have as its central problems the origin, scope, conditions and
possibility of valid a priori knowledge of objects. None of
these problems are treated in general logic, which deals only
with the understanding itself. The question which it raises
is, as Kant says in his Logic? How can the understanding
know itself? The question dealt with by transcendental
logic we may formulate in a corresponding way : How can
the understanding possess pure a priori knowledge of objects ?
It is a canon of pure understanding in so far as that
faculty is capable of synthetic, objective knowledge a priori^
General logic involves, it is true, the idea of reference to
objects, 4 but the possibility of such reference is not itself
investigated. In general logic the understanding deals only
with itself. It assumes indeed that all objects must conform
to its laws, but this assumption plays no part in the science itself.

1 Cf. below, p. 194. 2 Einleitung, i. (Eng. trans, p. 4).

3 Cf. A 796 = 13 824. 4 Logik: Etnleitung, i. (Eng. trans, p. 5).


A further point, not here dwelt upon by Kant, calls for
notice, namely, that the activities of understanding dealt
with by general logic are its merely discursive activities,
those of discrimination and comparison ; whereas those dealt
with by transcendental logic are the originative activities
through which it produces a priori concepts from within
itself, and through which it attains, independently of experi-
ence, to an a priori determination of objects. Otherwise
stated, general logic deals only with analytic thinking,
transcendental logic with the synthetic activities that are
involved in the generation of the complex contents which
form the subject matter of the analytic procedure.

III. Concerning the Division of General Logic into Analytic
and Dialectic. 1 The following passage from Kant's Logic*
forms an excellent and sufficient comment upon the first four
paragraphs of this section :

"An important perfection of knowledge, nay, the essential and
inseparable condition of all its perfection, is truth. Truth is said to
consist in the agreement of knowledge with the object. According
to this merely verbal definition, then, my knowledge, in order to be
true, must agree with the object. Now I can only compare the
object with my knowledge by this means, namely, by having knowledge
of it. My knowledge, then, is to be verified by itself, which is far
from being sufficient for truth. For as the object is external to me,
I can only judge whether my knowledge of the object agrees with my
knowledge of the object. Such a circle in explanation was called by
the ancients Diallelos. And, indeed, the logicians were accused of this
fallacy by the sceptics, who remarked that this account of truth was
as if a man before a judicial tribunal should make a statement, and
appeal in support of it to a witness whom no one knows, but who
defends his own credibility by saying that the man who had called
him as a witness is an honourable man. The charge was certainly
well-founded. The solution of the problem referred to is, however,
absolutely impossible for any man.

" The question is in fact this : whether and how far there is a
certain, universal, and practically applicable criterion of truth. For
this is the meaning of the question, What is truth ? . . .

" A universal material criterion of truth is not possible ; the phrase
is indeed self-contradictory. For being universal it would necessarily
abstract from all distinction of objects, and yet being a material
criterion, it must be concerned with just this distinction in order to
be able to determine whether a cognition agrees with the very object
to which it refers, and not merely with some object or other, by
which nothing would be said. But material truth must consist in
this agreement of a cognition with the definite object to which it
refers. For a cognition which is true in reference to one object

1 A 57 = B 8 1. 2 Einleitung, vii. (Eng. trans, p. 40 ff.).


may be false in reference to other objects. It is therefore absurd to
demand a universal material criterion of truth, which is at once to
abstract and not to abstract from all distinction of objects.

" But if we ask for a universal formal criterion of truth, it is very
easy to decide that there may be such a criterion. For formal truth
consists simply in the agreement of the cognition with itself when we
abstract from all objects whatever, and from every distinction of
objects. And hence the universal formal criteria of truth are nothing
but universal logical marks of agreement of cognitions with them-
selves, or, what is the same thing, with the general laws of the under-
standing and the Reason. These formal universal criteria are
certainly not sufficient for objective truth, but yet they are to be
viewed as its conditio sine qua non. For before the question, whether
the cognition agrees with the object, must come the question, whether
it agrees with itself (as to form). And this is the business of logic." *

The remaining paragraphs 2 of Section III. may similarly
be compared with the following passage ffbm an earlier
section of Kant's Logic : 3

"Analytic discovers, by means of analysis, all the activities of
reason which we exercise in thought. It is therefore an analytic of
the form of understanding and of Reason, and is justly called the logic
of truth, since it contains the necessary rules of all (formal) truth,
without which truth our knowledge is untrue in itself, even apart
from its objects. It is therefore nothing more than a canon for de-
ciding on the formal correctness of our knowledge.

"Should we desire to use this merely theoretical and general
doctrine as a practical art, that is, as an organon, it would become
a dialectic, i.e. a logic of semblance (ars sophistica disputatorid), arising
out of an abuse of the analytic, inasmuch as by the mere logical form
there is contrived the semblance of true knowledge, the characters
of which must, on the contrary, be derived from agreement with
objects, and therefore from the content.

" In former times dialectic was studied with great diligence. This
art presented false principles in the semblance of truth, and sought,
in accordance with these, to maintain things in semblance. Amongst
the Greeks the dialecticians were advocates and rhetoricians who
could lead the populace wherever they chose, because the populace
lets itself be deluded with semblance. Dialectic was therefore at
that time the art of semblance. In logic, also, it was for a long time
treated under the name of the art of disputation, and during that
period all logic and philosophy was the cultivation by certain chatter-
boxes of the art of semblance. But nothing can be more unworthy
of a philosopher than the cultivation of such an art. Dialectic in this
form, therefore, must be altogether suppressed, and instead of it there

1 Kant might have added that transcendental logic defines further conditions,
those of possible experience, and that by implication it refers us to coherence as
the ultimate test even of material truth.

2 A 60-2 = 684-6. 3 Einleitung, ii. (Eng. trans, pp. 6-7).


must be introduced into logic a critical examination of this

" We should then have two parts of logic : the analytic, which
will treat of the formal criteria of truth, and the dialectic, which
will contain the marks and rules by which we can know that some-
thing does not agree with the formal criteria of truth, although it
seems to agree with them. Dialectic in this form would have its use
as a cathartic of the understanding."

Dialectic is thus interpreted in a merely negative sense.
It is, Kant says, a catharticon. So far from being an organon,
it is not even a canon. It is merely a discipline. 1 By this
manner of defining dialectic Kant causes some confusion. It
does not do justice to the scope and purpose of that section
of the Critique to which it gives its name. 2

IV. Concerning the Division of Transcendental Logic into
Transcendental Analytic and Dialectic. The term object 3 is used
throughout this section in two quite distinct senses. In the
second and third sentences it is employed in its wider meaning
as equivalent to content or matter. In the fourth sentence it
is used in the narrower and stricter sense, more proper to the
term, namely, as meaning ' thing.' Again, in the fifth sentence
content (Inhalt) would seem to be identified with object in
the narrower sense, while in the sixth sentence matter (Materie,
a synonym for content) appears to be identified with object
in the wider sense. Transcendental Dialectic, in accordance
with the above account of its logical correlate, is defined in
a manner wHich does justice only to the negative side of its
teaching, ^ts function is viewed as merely that of protecting
the pure understanding against sophistical illusions. 4



Thd chief point of this section 5 lies in its insistence that,
as the analytic is concerned only with the pure understanding,
the a priori concepts with which it deals must form a unity
or system. Understanding is viewed as a separate faculty,

1 Cf. above, pp. 71-2, 170 ; below, pp. 438, 563. 2 Cf. below, p. 425 ff.

3 Kant employs Gegenstand and Object as synonymous terms.

4 Cf. below, p. 426. 5 A 64 = 6 89.


and virtually hypostatised. As a separate faculty, it must,
it is implied, be an independent unity, self-containing and
complete. Its concepts are determined in number, constitu-
tion, and interrelation, by its inherent character. They
originate independently of all differences in the material
which they are employed to organise.



Introductory Paragraph. Kant's view of the understanding
as a separate faculty is in evidence again in this paragraph. 1
The Analytic is a "dissection of the faculty of the under-
standing." A priori concepts are to be sought nowhere but
in the understanding itself, as their birthplace. There " they
lie ready till at last, on the occasion of experience, they become
developed." But such statements fail to do justice to Kant's
real teaching. They would seem to reveal the persisting
influence of the pre-Critical standpoint of the Dissertation.



That the understanding is " an absolute unity " is repeated.
From this assertion, thus dogmatically made, without even
an attempt at argument, Kant deduces the important con-
clusion that the pure concepts, originating from such a source,
" must be connected with each other according to one concept
or idea (Begriff oder Idee}" And he adds the equally
unproved assertion :

" But such a connection supplies a rule by which we are enabled
to assign its proper place to each pure concept of the understanding
and by which we can determine in an a priori manner their system-
atic completeness. Otherwise we should be dependent in these
matters on our own discretionary judgment or merely on chance."

1 A 65 = 690.


In the next section he sets himself to discover from an
examination of analytic thinking what this rule or principle
actually is, and in so doing he for the first time discloses, in
any degree at all adequate, the real nature of the position
which he is seeking to develop. He connects the required
principle with the nature of the act of judging, considered as
a function of unity.

Section I. The Logical Use of the Understanding. This
section, 1 viewed as introductory to the metaphysical deduc-
tion of the categories, is extremely unsatisfactory. It directs
attention to the wrong points, and conceals rather than defines
Kant's real position. Its argumentation is also contorted and
confused, and only by the most patient analysis can it be
straightened out. The commentator has presented to him
a twofold task from which there is no escape. He must
render the argument consistent by such modification as will
harmonise it with Kant's later and more deliberate positions,
and he must explain why Kant has presented it in this mis-
leading manner.

The title of the section would seem to imply that only the
discursive activities of understanding are to be dealt with.
That is, indeed, in the main true. Confusion results, however,
from the clashing of this avowed intention with the ultimate

Online LibraryNorman Kemp SmithA commentary to Kant's 'Critique of pure reason,' → online text (page 24 of 72)