Norman Kemp Smith.

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

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all change takes place, and since, as the substrate of all change,
it will necessarily be unchangeable, it may be called substance.

The argument, in both proofs, is needlessly abstract, and
as already remarked, 3 the reason of this abstractness is that
Kant here, as in the chapter on Schematism, unduly ignores
space, limiting his analysis to inner sense. He defines the
schema of substance as the permanence of the real in time,
i.e. as the representation of the real which persists while
all else changes. As the second edition of the Critique
shows, 4 Kant himself came to recognise the inadequacy of
this definition, and therefore of the proof of the first Analogy.
Consciousness is only possible through the representation of
objects in space. Only in outer sense is a permanent given in
contrast to which change may be perceived. The proof ought
therefore to have proceeded in the following manner. Time
can be conceived only as motion, and motion is perceivable
only against a permanent background in space. Conscious-
ness of time therefore involves consciousness of a permanent
in space. He might have added that consciousness of relative
time involves consciousness of change in relation to something

extent to which, as Bergson has very justly pointed out, Kant spatialises time, i.e.
interprets it on the analogy of space. It is based on "the mixed idea of a
measurable time, which is space in so far as it is homogeneity, and duration in
so far as it is succession ; that is to say, at bottom, the contradictory idea of
succession in simultaneity" (Les Dannies immtdiates, p. 173, Eng. trans,
p. 228).

1 Cf. A 184 = 6 227: "the proposition, that substance is permanent, is
tautological." 2 Cf. A i88 = B 231.

3 Above, p. 341. 4 Cf. above, p. 309 ff.


relatively permanent, and that the scientific conception of all
changes as taking place in a single absolute time involves the
determining of change through relation to something abso-
lutely permanent, this ultimate standard being found in the
heavenly bodies. By the permanent is not meant the im-
movable, but only that which is uniform and unchanging ^in
its motions. The uniform motions of the heavenly bodies
constitute our ultimate standard of time. The degree of their
uniformity is the measure of our approximation to an absolute
standard. A marginal note upon this Analogy in Kant's
private copy of the Critique reveals Kant's late awakened
recognition of the necessity of this mode of restating the

" Here the proof must be so developed as to apply only to sub-
stances as phenomena of outer sense, and must therefore be drawn
from space, which with its determinations exists at all times. In
space all change is motion. . . .' J1

That the new argument of the second edition still proceeds
on the same lines as the second argument of the first edition
is probably due, as Erdmann remarks, 2 to Kant's unwillingness
to make the extensive alterations which would have been
called for in the chapter on Schematism as well as in the
statement of this Analogy.

A second serious objection to Kant's treatment of the first
Analogy follows at once from the above. Kant identifies the
permanent which represents time in consciousness with
matter, and seeks to prove by means of this identification
the principle of the conservation of matter. 3 That principle
is not really capable of transcendental proof. It is not a
presupposition of possible experience, but merely a generalisa-
tion empirically grounded. Kant is here confounding a

1 B. Erdmann's edition of the Nachtrage, Ixxx. p. 32. Cited by Caird, i. pp.
541-2. 2 Op. cit. pp. 33-4.

3 That Kant does not mean to imply that the category of substance has no
application to the contents of inner sense is made clear by a curious argument in
the Metaphysical First Principles of Natural Science (1786), W. iv. p. 542:
" What in this proof essentially characterises substance, which is possible only in
space and under spatial conditions, and therefore only as object of the outer senses,
is that its quantity cannot be increased or diminished without substance coming into
being or ceasing to be. For the quantity of an object which is possible only in
space must consist of parts which are external to one another, and these, therefore,
if they are real (something movable), must necessarily be substances. On the
other hand, that which is viewed as object of inner sense can, as substance, have
a quantity which does not consist of parts external to one another. Its parts are
therefore not substances, and their coming into being and ceasing to be must not
be regarded as creation or annihilation of a substance. Their increase or diminu-
tion is therefore possible without prejudice to the principle of the permanence of
substance." (Italics not in Kant.) Cf. also Prolegomena, 49, and below, pp. 367,
377 3-


particular theory as to the manner in which the element of
permanence, necessary to possible experience, is realised, with
the much more general conclusion which alone can be estab-
lished by transcendental methods. His argument also con-
flicts with his own repeated assertion that the notion of
change, in so far as it is distinct from that of temporal ^N
succession or of motion in space, is empirical, and consequently J
falls outside the scope of transcendental enquiry. By the^^K
conservation of matter we mean the constancy of the weight
of matter throughout all changes. But the only permanent
which can be postulated as necessary to render our actual
consciousness of time possible, consists of spatial objects
sufficiently constant to act as a standard by comparison
with which motions may be measured against one another.
And as this first Analogy, properly understood, thus deals solely
with spatial changes of bodies, the principle of the conserva-
tion of matter has no real connection with it.

Then thirdly, and lastly, Kant takes this first Analogy as
showing the indispensable function performed in experience
by the category of substance and attribute. Substance, he
argues, corresponds to the time in which events happen, and
its attributes correspond to the changing events. Just as all
events are only to be conceived as happening in time, so too
all changes are only to be conceived as changes in an abiding
substance. These, he would seem to hold, are simply two
ways of making one and the same assertion. Now Kant
may perhaps be right in insisting that all change is change
in, and not of, time. Unity of consciousness would seem to
demand consciousness of a single time in which all events
happen. But this relation of time to its events does not justify
the same assertion being made of substance. Substance may
be what corresponds to time in general, and may represent it
in consciousness, but we cannot for that reason say that
changes are also only in and not of it. To regard the changes
in this way as attributes inhering in substance directly contra-
dicts the view developed in the second Analogy. For the
notion of substance is there treated as an implication of the
principle of causality. Substance, Kant there insists, is not
a bare static existence in which changes take place, but a
dynamic energy which from its very nature is in perpetual
necessitated change. Change is not change in, but change
of, substance.

Even in the passage in which Kant identifies the notion
of the permanent in change with that of substance and attri-
bute, he shows consciousness of this difficulty. We must not,
he says, separate the substance from its accidents, treating



it as a separate existence. The accidents are merely the
special forms of its existence. But all the same, he adds,
withdrawing the words which he has just uttered,, such a
separation of the changing accidents from the abiding sub-
stance is " unavoidable ', owing to the conditions of the logical
employment of our understanding." 1 Kant is here so hard
pressed to account for the use of the category of substance
and attribute in experience, and to explain the contradictions
to which it gives rise, that the only way he sees out of the
difficulty is to refer the contradictions involved in the category
to the constitution of our understanding in its logical employ-
ment. Yet as such employment of understanding is, according
to his own showing, secondary to, and dependent upon, its
" real " employment, the category of substance and attribute
can hardly have originated in this way.

We must, then, conclude that Kant offers no sufficient
deduction or explanation of the category of substance and
attribute, and as he does so nowhere else, we are driven to the
further conclusion that he is unable to account for its use in
experience, or at least to reconcile it in any adequate fashion
with the principle of causality.

B. Second Analogy. Everything that happens, i.e. begins
to be, presupposes something on which it follows according to a
rule. Or as in the second edition : All changes take place in
conformity with the law of the connection of cause and effect.

This section, as Kant very rightly felt, contains one of the
most important and fundamental arguments of the entire
Critique ; and this would seem to be the reason why he has
so multiplied the proofs which he gives of the Analogy.
Within the limits of the section no less than five distinct
proofs are to be found, and still another was added in the
second edition. As Adickes 2 argues, it is extremely unlikely
that Kant should have written five very similar proofs in im-
mediate succession. The probability is that they are of
independent origin and were later combined to constitute
this section ; or, if we hold with Adickes that Kant first com-
posed a " brief outline," we may conclude that he combined
the one or more proofs, which that outline contained, with
others of earlier or of later origin. [The first to the fourth para-
graphs of the first edition contain a first proof; the fifth to the
seventh a second proof (a repetition of the first proof but in
indirect form) ; the eighth to the tenth a third proof (almost
identical with the first) ; the eleventh to the thirteenth a fourth
proof (different in character from all the others) ; the four-
1 A 187 = 6230. 2 K. p. 211 n.


teenth a fifth proof (probably the latest in time of writing ; an
anticipation of the argument in the second edition). The para-
graph added in the second edition (the second paragraph in
the text of the second edition) gives a sixth and last proof?]

We may first state the central argument, deferring treat-
ment of such additional points as arise in connection with
Kant's varying formulations of it in his successive proofs.
The second Analogy, though crabbedly, diffusely, and even
confusedly stated, is one of the finest and most far-reaching
pieces of argument in the whole Critique. It is of special
historical importance as being Kant's answer to Hume's
denial of the validity of the causal -principle. Hume had
maintained that we can never be conscious of anything but
mere succession. Kant in reply seeks to prove that con-
sciousness of succession is only possible through conscious-
ness of a necessity that determines the order of the successive

Kant, we must bear in mind, accepts much of Hume's
criticism of the category of causality. The general principle
that every event must have an antecedent cause is, Kant
recognises, neither intuitively certain nor demonstrable by
general reasoning from more ultimate truths. It is not to
be accounted for by analytic thought, but like all synthetic
judgments a priori can only be proved by reference to the
contingent fact of actual experience. Secondly, Kant makes
no attempt, either in this Analogy or elsewhere in the Critique ',
to explain the nature and possibility of causal connection,
that is, to show how one event, the cause, is able to give rise
to another and different event, the effect. We can never by
analysis of an effect discover any reason why it must neces-
sarily be preceded by a cause. 1 Thirdly, the principle of
causality, as deduced by Kant and shown to be necessarily
involved in all consciousness of time, is the quite general
principle that every event must have some cause in what im-
mediately precedes it. What in each special case the cause
may be, can only be empirically discovered ; and that any
selected event is really the cause can never be absolutely
certain. The particular causal laws are discovered from
experience, not by means of the general principle but only in
accordance with it, and are therefore neither purely empirical
nor wholly a priori. As even J. S. Mill teaches, the general
principle is assumed in every inference to a causal law, and
save by thus assuming the general principle the particular
inference to causal connection cannot be proved. But at the
same time, since the proof of causal connection depends upon

1 C . A 205-7 = B 252.



satisfaction of those empirical tests which Mill formulates
in his inductive methods, such special causal laws can be
gathered only from experience.

The starting-point of Kant's analysis is our consciousness .
of an objective order in time. This is for Kant a legitimate
starting-point since he has proved in the Transcendental
Deduction that only through consciousness of the objective is
consciousness of the subjective in any form possible. The
independent argument by which it is here supported is merely
a particular application of the general principle of that deduc-
tion. When we apprehend any very large object, such as a
house, though we do so by successively perceiving the different
parts of it, we never think of regarding these successive per-
ceptions as representing anything successive in the house.
On the other hand, when we apprehend successive events in
time, such as the successive positions of a ship sailing down
stream, we do regard the succession of our experiences as
representing objective succession in what is apprehended.
Kant therefore feels justified in taking as fact, that we have
the power of distinguishing between subjective and objective
succession, i.e. between sequences which are determined by
the order of our attentive experience and sequences which are
given as such. It is this fact which affords Kant a precise
method of formulating the problem of the second Analogy ',
viz. how consciousness of objective change, as distinguished from
subjective succession, is possible ?

Schopenhauer, owing to the prominence in his system of
the principle of sufficient reason, has commented upon this
second Analogy in considerable detail; 1 and we may here
employ one of his chief criticisms to define more precisely the
general intention of Kant's argument. The succession in our
experiences of the parts of a house and of the positions of a
ship is, Schopenhauer maintains, in both cases of genuinely
objective character. In both instances the changes are due to
the position of two bodies relatively to one another. In the
first example one of these bodies is the body of the observer, or
rather one of his bodily organs, namely the eye, and the other
is the house, in relation to the parts of which the position of
the eye is successively altered. In the second example the
ship changes its position relatively to the stream. The motion
of the eye from roof to cellar is one event ; its motion from
cellar to roof is a second event ; and both are events of the
same nature as the sailing of the ship. Had we the same
power of dragging the ship upstream that we have of moving
the eye in a direction opposite to that of its first movement,

1 Werke (Frauenstadt, 1873), * P- 85 ff.


the positions of the ship could be reversed in a manner exactly
analogous to our reversal of the perceptions of the house.

This criticism is a typical illustration of Schopenhauer \
entire failure to comprehend the central thesis of Kant's Critical
idealism. 1 The Analytic^ so far as the main argument of its
objective deduction is concerned, was to him a closed book ;
and as this second analogy is little else than a special applica-
tion of the results of the deduction, he was equally at a loss in
its interpretation. Kant was himself, of course, in large part
responsible for the misunderstanding. The distinction which
would seem to be implied by Kant's language between sequence
that is objective and sequence that is merely subjective is
completely inconsistent with Critical principles, 2 and is as
thoroughly misleading as that other distinction which he so
frequently employs between the a priori and the merely em-
pirical. Schopenhauer, however, regarded these distinctions
as valid, and accordingly applies them in the interpretation of
Kant's method of argument. If inner and outer experience
are to be contrasted as two kinds of experience, there is, as
Schopenhauer rightly insists, no sufficient ground for regard-
ing changes due to movements of the eye as being subjective
and those that are due to movements of a ship as being
objective. That is not, however, Kant's intention in the em-
ployment of these illustrations. He uses them only to make
clear the fairly obvious fact that while in certain cases the
order of our perceptions is subjectively initiated, in other

1 As evidence of this failure I may cite Schopenhauer's comment upon A 371
and 372 : " From these passages it is quite clear that for Kant the perception of
outer things in space is antecedent to all application of the causal law, and that
this law does not therefore enter into it as its element and condition : mere sensa-
tion amounts in Kant's view to perception" (Wcrke, i. p. 81). Even when, as in
the passages referred to, Kant is speaking in his most subjectivist vein, he gives
no justification for any such assertion. Schopenhauer, notwithstanding his sincere
admiration for Kant " I owe what is best in my own system to the impression
made upon me by the works of Kant, by the sacred writings of the Hindoos, and
by Plato" (World as Will and Idea, Werke, ii. p. 493, Eng. trans, ii. p. 5) is
one of the most unreliable of Kant's critics. His comments are extremely mis-
leading, and largely for the reason that he was interested in Kant only as he could
obtain from him confirmation of his own philosophical tenets. Several of these
tenets he certainly derived directly from the Critique ; but they are placed by him
in so entirely different a setting that their essential meaning is greatly altered.
We have already noted (above, p. 41) Schopenhauer's exaggerated statement of
Kant's intuitive theory of mathematics. Kant's subjectivism is similarly expounded
in a one-sided and quite unrepresentative manner (cf. below, p. 407 .). Hutchison
Stirling's criticisms of Kant in his Text Book to Kant are vitiated by a similar
failure to recognise the completely un-Critical character of the occasional passages

Review (July 1872), and in Mind (\\., 1884, p. 531, and x., 1885, p. 45).
3 Cf. above, pp. 240-2, 365, and below, p. 377.


we apprebend the subjective order of our experiences as
corresponding to, and explicable only through, the objective
of events. In holding to this distinction Kant is not
d to deny that even in the order which is determined
the subject's purposes or caprice objective factors are like-
The fact that the foundations of a house
roof; and will therefore determine what it is that
shall a^Kehend when we turn the eye upwards, does not
fender die order of our apprehensions any the less subjective
in character. But that this order is purely subjective, Kant
could never have asserted. His Critical principles definitely
commit him to the view that even sensations and desires are
integral parts of the unitary system of natural law. Kant,
as we shall find, is maintaining ffo*t some <wh distinction
between subjective and objective sequence as is illustrated in
the above contrasted instances must be present from the
very start of our experience must, indeed, be constitutive of
experience as such. Out of a consciousness of the purely
subjective the notion of the objective can never arise. 1 Or
-tatec. cor.scio^ r ^\ a tirr.e or'i^r. ever, tr.v-zr.

subjective, must ultimately involve the application of some
non-subjective standard.

"I shall be obliged . . . to derive the subjective sequence of
flout the objective sequence of

fp^ lOrmflr is fnTyfyfy ffotfftfniiif MXfi flffifi oocs not
guish any one appearance from any othec."*

We interpret the subjective order in terms of an objective
system ; consciousness of the latter is the necessary presup-
position of all awareness. It is as necessary to the inter-
pretation of what is apprehended through the rotating eyeballs
as to the apprehension of a moving ship. So far from refusing
to recognise that the subjective order of our experiences is
objectively conditioned, Kant is prepared to advance to the
further assertion that it is only apprehensible when so con-


In the third Analogy Kant* proceeds to the connected

i CC Strt, ****** Pv**gr, tMrf **, pft 44*6: Urfe we

Ct bdow, pp. 371-2. * A 193= B


problem, how we can apprehend the parts of a house as t
simultaneous notwithstanding the sequent relation of our
perceptions of them, and what justification we have for js
interpreting the subjectively sequent experiences as repre< kl
ing objective coexistence. Just as Kant in this second Analog /-
does not argue that irreversibility is by itself proof of causal
relation, but only that the consciousness of such irreversibility
demands the employment of the conception of- causality, so
in the third Analogy ' he does not attempt 'to reduce the
ccnstiousness of coexistence to the consciousness of reversi-
bility, but to prove that only through the application of the
conception of reciprocity can the reversibility be properly
interpreted. In each case the category conditions the em-
pirical consciousness ; the latter is an apprehension of deter-
minate order only in so far as it presupposes the category.
Though Kant's treatment of the third Analogy has less his-
torical importance, and perhaps less intrinsic interest, than the
proof of the second Analogy, it is even more significant of the
kind of position which he is endeavouring to establish, and I
may therefore forewarn the reader that he must not spare him-
self the labour of mastering its difficult, and somewhat illusive,
argument. The doctrines which it expounds at once reinforce
and extend the results of the second Analogy, while the further
difficulties which it brings to view, but which it is not itself
capable of meeting, indicate that the problems of the Analytic
call for reconsideration in the light of certain wider issues first
broached in the Dialectic.

We may now return to Kant's main argument. His
problem, as we have found, is how consciousness of objective
change, as distinguished from subjective succession, is possible.
The problem, being formulated in this particular way, demands,
Kant felt, careful definition of what is meant by the term
1 objective,' upon which so much depends. To apply the
illustration above used, the house as apprehended is not a
thing in itself but only an appearance to the mind. What,
then, do we mean by the house, as distinguished from our
subjective representations of it, when that house is nothing
but a complex (Inbegrtff) of representations ? l The question
and Kant's answer to it are stated in subjectivist fashion, in
terms of his earlier doctrine of the transcendental object. To
contrast an object with the representations through which
we apprehend it, is only possible if these representations
stand under a rule which renders necessary their combination
in some one particular way, and so distinguishes ttiis one
particular mode of representation as the only true mode from
1 A 191 = B 236.


all others. The origin, therefore, of our distinction between
the subjectively successive and the succession which is also
objective must be due in the one case to the presence of a
rule compelling us to combine the events in some particular
successive order, and in the other to the absence of such a
rule. Our apprehension of the house, for instance, may
proceed in any order, from the roof downwards or vice versa,
and as the order may always be reversed there is no compul-
sion upon the mind to regard the order of its apprehension as
representing objective sequence. But since in our apprehen-

Online LibraryNorman Kemp SmithA commentary to Kant's 'Critique of pure reason,' → online text (page 45 of 72)