Norman Kemp Smith.

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

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;entation of the whole in so far as it necessarily precedes the
letermination of the parts. It can never be empirically represented,
or the reason that in experience we proceed from the parts through
uccessive syntheses to the whole. It is the archetype ( Urbild) of
hings, for certain objects are only possible through an Idea. Tran-
icendental Ideas are those in which the absolute whole determines
he parts in an aggregate or as series." " Metaphysics proper is the

1 Cf. ii. 567, 571, 584, 585. 2 Cf. ii. 1251 and 586.

2 F


application of transcendental philosophy to concepts supplied by
Reason and necessary to it, to which, however, no corresponding
objects can be given in experience. The concepts must therefore
refer to the supersensible. That, however, can be nothing but the
unconditioned, for that is the sole theoretical Idea of reason. [Not
italicised in the original.] Metaphysics thus relates: (i) to that of
which only the whole can be represented as absolutely uncon-
ditioned: (2) to things so far as they are in themselves sensuously
unconditioned. The first part is cosmology, the second rational
doctrine of the soul, pneumatology and theology."

At this stage, therefore, Kant would seem to have held
that there is but one Idea strictly so called, and that the
above three principia are merely specifications of it in terms
of the concepts of substance-accident, ground-consequence, and
whole -part. The classification thus obtained is in certain
respects more satisfactory than that which is adopted in the
Critique. It locates the cosmological argument with the
causal category, and so would enable the conceptions of
freedom or causa suz, and of Divine Existence, to be dealt
with in their natural connection with one another. It also
supplies, in the category of whole and part, a more fitting
heading for those antinomy problems which deal with the
unlimited and the limited, the divisible and the indivisible,
the complex and the simple. The classification would, how-
ever, in separating the problem of the simple from that of
substance, remain open to the same criticism as that of the

This classification must, as we have stated, be of a date
prior to Kant's discovery of the table of categories. That is
quite clear from its ignoring the category of reciprocity, and
from its combination of the other two categories of relation
with the merely quantitative category of whole and part. For
though the last is also entitled composition and co-ordination,
it is conceived in these particular Reflexionen in exclusively
quantitative terms. When Kant formulated the " meta-
physical " deduction of the categories he was, of course,
compelled to recast the classification, and did so in the only
possible manner, consistent with his architectonic, by sub-
stituting the category of reciprocity for that of whole and
part, 2 and by taking the new heading, obtained through
combination of reciprocity with the Idea of the unconditioned,
as equivalent to the Idea of Divine Existence. But this could
not be done without dislocating the entire scheme. The

1 Cf. below, pp. 458, 488 ff.

2 In Reflexionen ii. 573, 576, and 582 we find Kant in the very act of so doing.
Compositio^ co-ordinatio^ and commercium are treated as synonymous terms.


category of ground and consequence is deprived of its chief
application, that expressed in the cosmological argument; and
in order to provide a new content for it, Kant is compelled to
force upon it the problems previously classified under the
displaced category of whole and part. Even so, the problem
of the causa sui cannot be eliminated, and reappears, partly
as the problem of freedom, and partly as the modal problem
of necessary existence.

The identification of the theological Idea with the category
of reciprocity has a further consequence. It carries the pro-
blem of Divine Existence outside the sphere of the problems of
infinity, and necessitates a very different treatment from that
which it would naturally have received at Kant's hands, if
developed in its connection with his own Critical teaching.
He is driven to expound it in the extreme rationalistic form
in which it had been formulated by Leibniz and Wolff, as a
doctrine of the Ens realissimum.

Prior to the rearrangement, necessitated by recognition
of the category of reciprocity, Kant would seem to have
expected to bring the entire body of Wolffian metaphysics
within the scope of a general doctrine of antinomy. The
problems of the divisible and the indivisible, of the simple
and the complex, leading as they do to discussion of the pre-
suppositions underlying the Leibnizian monadology, concern
spiritual as well as material substance. Similarly, the main
problems of theology would have been treated in connection
with the cosmological inference to a first cause, and with the
discussion of the possibility of first beginnings in space and
time. 1

The sections in the Critique devoted to the antinomies
reveal, in many ways, Kant's original, design. It is especially
noticeable in his discussion of the third and fourth antinomies.
The problems of freedom and of necessary existence are by
no means treated in merely cosmological fashion. Indeed
Kant makes no pretence of concealing their psychological
and theological implications. Even the first and second
antinomies have obvious bearings of a similar character. But
it is in the section entitled The Interest of Reason in this
Self -conflict 2 that the broader significance of the antinomies

1 The problem of freedom is first met with in Kant's Lectures on Metaphysics
(Politz, edition of 1821, pp. 89, 330), but is not there given as an antinomy, and
is treated as falling within the field of theology. In Reflexion ii. 585, also, it is
equated in terms of the category of ground and consequence, with the concept
of Divine Existence, the "absolute or primum contingens (libertas}." Upon
elimination of theology, and therefore of the cosmological argument, from the
sphere of antinomy, Kant raised freedom to the rank of an independent problem.

2 A 462 = B 490.


finds its fullest expression. In its suggestive contrast of the
two possible types of philosophy, Epicurean and Platonic,
the argument entirely transcends the bounds prescribed to
it by its cosmological setting. As we follow the comprehen-
sive sweep of its argument, we can hardly avoid regret-
ting that Kant failed to keep to his original plan, as here
unfolded, 1 of expounding the self-conflict of Reason in the
form of a broad judicial statement of the grounds and
claims of the two opposing authorities which divide the
allegiance of the human spirit, namely, the intellectual and
the moral, science with its cognitive demands on the one
hand, the consciousness of duty with its no less imperious
prescriptions on the other. The materialist philosophies
would then have been presented as inevitably arising when
intellectual values are made supreme ; and the Idealist philo-
sophies as equally cogent when moral values are taken as
primary and are allowed to determine speculative tenets.
Against this background of conflicting dogmatisms the com-
prehensive and satisfying character of the Critical standpoint
would have stood out the more clearly ; and its historical
affiliations, its debt to the sceptics and materialists, no less than
to the Idealists, would have been depicted in more adequate
terms. As it is, in the chapters on the Paralogisms and the
Ideal of Pure Reason there is almost entire failure to recognise
the possibility of a naturalistic solution of the problems with
which they deal, and Kant so far succumbs to the outworn
influences of his day and generation the very influences from
which the Critical philosophy, consistently developed, is a
final breaking away as to maintain, almost in the manner
of the English Deists, of Voltaire and Rousseau, that God,
Freedom, and Immortality are conceptions which the mind
must necessarily form, and in the validity of which it must
spontaneously believe. Kant is here, indeed, interpreting
"natural reason" in the light of his own personal history. The
Christian beliefs, in which he had been nurtured from child-
hood, and their rationalist counterparts in the Wolffian
philosophy, had become, as it were, a second nature to him ;
and the resistance, which in his own person they had offered
to the development of Critical teaching, he not unnaturally
interpreted as evidence of their being imposed by the very
structure of reason. He transforms the metaphysical sciences
in their Wolffian form into inevitable illusions of the human
mind. 2

There is evidence that the theological problems were the
first to be withdrawn from the sphere of the "sceptical

1 Cf. below, pp. 498-9, 571 ff. 2 Cf. below, p. 454, with references in . I.


method," 1 peculiar to the antinomies. Thus Reflexion ii.
I25 2 states that "metaphysics proper consists of cosmologia
rationalis and theologia naturalis " rational psychology being,
as it would seem, still included within cosmology. 3 What
the considerations were which induced Kant to claim similarly
independent treatment for rational psychology, we can only
conjecture. For a time, while still holding to the bipartite
division, he would seem to have made the further change of
also separating psychology from cosmology, classing psycho-
logy and theology together as subdivisions of the rational
science of soul.

" [Metaphysics has two parts] : the first is cosmology, the second
rational doctrine of soul, pneumatology and theology." 4

A main factor deciding Kant in favour of a dogmatic,
non- sceptical treatment of rational psychology may have
been the greater opportunity which it seemed to afford him
of connecting its doctrines with the teaching of the Analytic,
and especially with his central doctrine of apperception.
But to whatever cause the decision was due, it resulted in the
impoverishment of the second antinomy, through withdrawal
of the more important half of its natural content. This
antinomy could no longer be made to comprehend a dis-
cussion of the logical bases of monadology, and of its professed
proofs of the simplicity and immortality of the soul. Nothing
is left to it save the discussion of the monadistic theory of
matter (somatologia pura}? This change has also, as already
noted, the unfortunate effect of precluding Kant from recogni-
tion of the physical application of the category of substance.
By the simple he means the substantial, and yet he may not
say so ; his architectonic forbids.

I may hazard the further suggestion that Kant's inter-
pretation of rational psychology in terms of the Critical
doctrine of apperception is of earlier date than his doctrine
of transcendental illusion. For the chapter on the Para-
logisms seems in its first form to have contained no reference
to that latter doctrine. 6 The few passages which take account
of it, all bear evidence of being later intercalations. This is
the more remarkable in that the Paralogisms can easily be
shown to be typical examples of transcendental illusion.
Indeed, neither the antinomies nor the theological Ideal
conform to its definition in the same strict fashion.

1 A 507-3 535. Cf. below, pp. 481, 545-6.

2 Cf. ii.93, 94, 95, 1233, 1247.

3 This is the view represented in Reflexionen ii. 94, 95.

4 Cf. Reflexionen ii. 124.

5 Cf. Reflexionen ii. 95. 6 Cf. below, p. 457.


The problem as to whether the doctrine of transcendental
illusion and the deduction of the Ideas from the three species of
syllogism originated early or late, is largely bound up with the
question as to when Kant finally adopted the terms Analytic
and Dialectic as titles for the two main divisions of his
Transcendental Logic. That Kant was at first very uncertain
as to what the main divisions of his system ought to be, appears
very clearly from the Reflexionen^ To his teaching as a whole
he usually applies the title Transcendental Philosophy, and
in Reflexion ii. 123 he enumerates the following subdivisions
within it : Aesthetic, Logic, Critique, and Architectonic. By
Critique Kant must here mean what in other Reflexionen he
names Discipline, and which he finally named Dialectic. As
thus identified with the Discipline, the Dialectic is at times
viewed as a division of a Methodology or Organon, whose other
divisions are entitled Canon and Architectonic? This earlier
scheme may therefore be represented as follows :

i Doctrine of Elements |
f Critique = Discipline [corre-
Doctrine of Methods s P din S to * e Dialectic

(Methodology) 1 Ca nO n

I Architectonic.

The terms Analytic and Dialectic do not occur in these
Reflexionen, and their adoption may therefore be inferred to
synchronise with Kant's later decision to include the treatment
of the metaphysical sciences within his Logic ; and that
decision was probably an immediate result of his having
developed meantime a doctrine of transcendental illusion.
The new scheme in its final form is therefore as follows :

Doctrine of j Aesthetic

Transcendental ' \ Logic _,

Philosophy [ Dialectic of Reason.

or Critique of j i Discipline (retained but given a new

Pure Reason ^Doctrine of and more general content).

Methods -j Canon.
(Methodology) Architectonic.
I History.

In thus transferring Dialectic from the Methodology to the
Doctrine of Elements, Kant stands committed to the view that
it contains positive teaching of a character analogous to that
of the Analytic, with which it is now co-ordinated. As we
have already noted, the fundamental opposition which runs

1 Cf. ii. 86 ff. 2 Cf. Reflexionen ii. 114-15.


through the entire Dialectic is due to the conflict between the
older view of Reason as merely understanding in its tran-
scendent employment, and this later view of it as a distinct
faculty, yielding concepts with a positive and indispensable
function, different from, and yet also analogous to, that
exercised by the categories of the understanding.

Adickes, to whom students of Kant are indebted for a
convincing demonstration of the constant influence of Kant's
logical architectonic upon the content of the Critical teaching,
would seem at this point to rely too exclusively upon that
method of explanation. He contends that Kant's deduction
of the Ideas of Reason from the three species of syllogism is
entirely traceable to this source, and is without real philo-
sophical significance. That is perhaps in the main true. But
it need not prevent us from appreciating the importance of the
doctrines which Kant contrives to expound under guise of this
logical machinery. We have already observed that prior to
the discovery of this deduction Kant had recognised the con-
nection between the concept of the unconditioned and the
three Ideas through which it finds expression. As the forms
of syllogism are differentiated in terms of the three categories
of relation, the deduction does not interfere with Kant's
retention of this classification of Ideas ; while in connecting
Reason as a faculty with reasoning as a logical process, an
excellent opportunity is found for explaining the grounds and
significance of the demand for unconditionedness, i.e. for
completeness of explanation. This demand, as he has also
come to recognise, lies open to question, and therefore calls
for more precise definition.

The artificial character of the metaphysical deduction lies
not so much in this derivation of the three Ideas of the uncon-
ditioned unconditioned substance, unconditioned causality,
unconditioned system from the categorical, hypothetical, and
disjunctive forms of syllogism respectively, as in the further
equating of them with the Ideas of the Self, the World, and
God. The Idea of unconditioned substance has many possible
applications besides the use to which it is put in rational
psychology. The Idea of an unconditioned causality may be
conceived in psychological and theological as well as in
cosmological terms ; and as a matter of fact Kant himself
frequently identifies it with the concept of freedom, as in the
third and fourth antinomies, or when he enumerates the Ideas
as being those of God, Freedom, and Immortality. 1 Similarly,
the Idea of system is the inspiring principle of materialism,

1 B 394 n. Immortality is here taken as representing the Idea of the soul as
unconditioned substance.


and also finds in such philosophies as that of Spinoza much
more adequate expression, than in the Ens realissimum of
the Wolffian School. But further comment is not, at this
stage, really profitable. These are questions which can best
be discussed as they emerge in the course of the argument. 1

Kant carried his logical architectonic one stage further.
Not satisfied with connecting the three Ideas of Reason with
the categories that underlie the three species of syllogism, he
also attempted to organise the various particular applications
of each Idea in terms of the fourfold .division of the table of
categories. By the use of his usual high-handed methods
he succeeded in doing so in the case of the psychological
and cosmological Ideas. There are four paralogisms and
four antinomies. But when the attempt failed in regard to
the theological Idea, he very wisely abstained from either
apology or explanation. That the failure was not due to lack
of desire or perseverance appears from Reflexion ii. I573>
which would seem to be the record of an unavailing attempt
to obtain a satisfactory articulation of the theological Ideal.
Doubtless, had he been sufficiently bent upon it, he could
have worked out some sort of fourfold division ; but there
were limits even to Kant's devotion to the architectonic
scheme. It is difficult to see how any such arrangement
could have been followed without serious perversion of the

Adickes has suggested 2 that the distinction between the
faculty of understanding and the faculty of judgment is subse-
quent to, and suggested by, Kant's successful tracing of the
Ideas to a separate faculty of Reason. Some such distinction
was demanded in order that the parallelism of transcendental
and formal logic might be complete. This conjecture of
Adickes is probably correct. It would seem to be supported
by the internal evidence of the Analytic of Principles. As we
have had occasion to note, 3 the doctrine of schematism, in
terms of which the distinction between understanding and
judgment is formulated, is late in date of origin. 4 This dis-
tinction is of the same artificial character as that between under-
standing and Reason ; and though, like the latter distinction, it
supplies Kant with a convenient framework for the arrange-
ment of genuine Critical material, it also tends to conceal the
simpler and more inward bonds of true relationship.

1 Cf. below, p. 454? with further references in n, I.

2 Systematik, pp. 115-16. 3 Above, p. 334.

4 This conclusion is supported by the evidence of the Reflexionen : they con-
tain not a single reference to schematism.


/. Transcendental Illusion

Dialectic is a Logic of Illusion. 1 The meaning which Kant
attaches to the term dialectic has already been considered.
The passage above quoted 2 from his Logic shows the meaning
which he supposed the term historically to possess, namely, as
being a sophistical art of disputation, presenting false prin-
ciples in the guise of truth by means of a seeming fulfilment
of the demands of strict logical proof. The incorrectness of
this historical derivation hardly needs to be pointed out.
Kant professes 3 to be following his contemporaries in thus
using the term as a title for the treatment of false reasoning.
But even this statement must be challenged. Adickes, after
examination of a large number of eighteenth-century text-
books, reports 4 that in the six passages in which alone he has
found it to occur it is never so employed. In Meier it is
used as a title for the theory of probable reasoning, 5 and in
Baumgarten it occurs only in adjectival form as equivalent to
sophistical. This last is the nearest approach to Kant's defini-
tion. All historical considerations may therefore be swept
aside. We are concerned only with the specific meaning
which Kant thought good to attach to the term. He
adapts it in the freest manner to the needs of his system. In
A 6i=B 85, as in his Logic, he has defined it in merely
negative fashion. He is now careful to specify the more
positive aspects of the problems with which it deals. Though
definable as the logic of illusion, the deceptive inferences
with which it concerns itself are of a quite unique and
supremely significant character. They must, as above noted, 6

1 A 293=6349. 2 p p i;3 . 4>

3 Cf. A 6i=B 85. 4 Adickes, Systematik, p. 77 ff.

B Cf. Kant's caveat in A 293 = 6349 against identifying dialectic with the
doctrine of probable reasoning, 6 Pp, 427-8.



be distinguished alike from logical and from empirical illusion.
They have their roots in the fundamental needs of the human
mind, and the recognition of their illusory character does not
render unnecessary either a positive explanation of their
occurrence or a Critical valuation of their practical function as
regulative ideals.

A 293 = B 349. Regarding the connection between illusion
and error cf. B 69, and above, pp. 148-53.

A 295 = B 352. Logical, empirical, and transcendental illu-
sion. Cf. above, pp. 13, 427-9, 437.

A 296 = B 352. Kant here defines the terms transcendental
and transcendent in a very unusual manner. The two terms
are not, he states, synonymous. The principles of pure
understanding are of merely empirical validity, and conse-
quently are not of transcendental employment beyond the
limits of experience. A principle is transcendent when it not
only removes these limits, but prescribes the overstepping of

//. Pure Reason as the Seat of Transcendental Illusion *
(a) Reason in General

Reason, like understanding, is employed in two ways,
formal or logical and real. The logical use of Reason consists
in mediate inference, the real in the generation of concepts and
principles. Reason is thus both a logical and a transcendental
faculty, and we may therefore expect that its logical functions
will serve as a clue to those that are transcendental. The
argument which follows is extremely obscure. It is a fore-
shadowing in logical terms of a distinction which, as Kant
himself indicates, cannot at this stage be adequately stated.
The distinction may be extended and paraphrased as follows.
Reason, generically taken as including both activities, is the
faculty of principles, in distinction from understanding which
is the faculty of rules. 2 Principles, properly so-called, are
absolutely a priori. Universals which imply the element of
intuition must not, therefore, be ranked as principles in the
strict sense. They are more properly to be entitled rules. A
true principle is one that affords knowledge of the particulars
which come under it, and which does so from its own internal
resources, that is to say, through pure concepts. In other
words, it yields a priori synthetic knowledge, and yet does so
independently of all given experience. Now, as the Analytic has
proved, knowledge obtained through understanding, whether

1 A 298 = B 355. 2 Cf. above, p. 332.


in mathematical or in physical science, is never of this char-
acter. Its principles, even though originating in pure intui-
tion or in the pure understanding, are valid only as conditions
of possible experience, and are applicable only to such objects
as can occur in the context of a sense-perception. That is
to say, the understanding can never obtain synthetic know-
ledge through pure concepts. Though, for instance, it pre-
scribes the principle that everything which happens must have
a cause, that principle does not establish itself by means of
the concepts which it contains, but only as being a presup-
position necessary to the possibility of sense-experience. < If,
then, principles in the strict sense actually exist, they must be
due to a faculty distinct from understanding, and will call
for a deduction of a different character from that of the

In the last paragraph but one of the section Kant indicates
the doctrine which he is foreshadowing. The rules of under-

Online LibraryNorman Kemp SmithA commentary to Kant's 'Critique of pure reason,' → online text (page 53 of 72)