Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, translated by Norman Kemp Smith



Section 5


We should of ourselves desist from the demand that our questions be answered dogmatically, if from the start we understood that whatever the dogmatic answer might turn out to be it would only increase our ignorance, and cast us from one inconceivability into another, from one obscurity into another still greater, and perhaps even into contradictions. If our question is directed simply to a yes or no, we are well advised to leave aside the supposed grounds of the answer, and first consider what we should gain according as the answer is in the affirmative or in the negative. Should we then find that in both cases the outcome is mere nonsense, there will be good reason for instituting a critical examination of our question, to determine whether the question does not itself rest on a groundless presupposition, in that it plays with an idea the falsity of which can be more easily detected through study of its application and consequences than in its own separate representation. This is the great utility of the skeptical mode of dealing with the questions which pure reason puts to pure reason. By its means we can deliver ourselves, at but a small cost, from a great body of sterile dogmatism, and set in its place a sober critique, which as a true cathartic will effectively guard us against such groundless beliefs and the supposed polymathy to which they lead.

If therefore, in dealing with a cosmological idea, I were able to appreciate beforehand that whatever view may be taken of the unconditioned in the successive synthesis of appearances, it must either be too large or too small for any concept of the understanding, I should be in a position to understand that since the cosmological idea has no bearing save upon an object of experience which has to be in conformity with a possible concept of the understanding, it must be [437] entirely empty and without meaning; for its object, view it as we may, cannot be made to agree with it. This is in fact the case with all cosmical concepts; and this is why reason, so long as it holds to them, is involved in an unavoidable antinomy. For suppose: --

First, that the world has no beginning: it is then too large for our concept, which, consisting as it does in a successive regress, can never reach the whole eternity that has elapsed. Or suppose that the world has a beginning, it will then, in the necessary empirical regress, be too small for the concept of the understanding. For since the beginning still presupposes a time which precedes it, it is still not unconditioned; and the law of the empirical employment of the understanding therefore obliges us to look for a higher temporal condition; and the world [as limited in time] is therefore obviously too small for this law.

This is also true of the twofold answer to the question regarding the magnitude of the world in space. If it is infinite and unlimited, it is too large for any possible empirical concept. If it is finite and limited, we have a right to ask what determines these limits. Empty space is no self-subsistent correlate of things, and cannot be a condition at which we could stop; still less can it be an empirical condition, forming part of a possible experience. (For how can there be any experience of the absolutely void? ) And yet to obtain absolute totality in the empirical synthesis it is always necessary that the unconditioned be an empirical concept. Consequently, a limited world is too small for our concept.

Secondly, if every appearance in space (matter) consists of infinitely many parts, the regress in the division will always be too great for our concept; while if the division of space is to stop at any member of the division (the simple), the regress will be too small for the idea of the unconditioned. For this member always still allows of a regress to further parts contained in it.

Thirdly, if we suppose that nothing happens in the world save in accordance with the laws of nature, the causality of the cause will always itself be something that happens, making necessary a regress to a still higher cause, and thus a continuation of the series of conditions a parte priori without end. [438] Nature, as working always through efficient causes, is thus too large for any of the concepts which we can employ in the synthesis of cosmical events.

If, in certain cases, we admit the occurrence of self-caused events, that is, generation through freedom, then by an unavoidable law of nature the question 'why' still pursues us, constraining us, in accordance with the law of causality [which governs] experience, to pass beyond such events; and we thus find that such totality of connection is too small for our necessary empirical concept.

Fourthly, if we admit an absolutely necessary being (whether it be the world itself, or something in the world, or the cause of the world), we set it in a time infinitely remote from any given point of time, because otherwise it would be dependent upon another and antecedent being. But such an existence is then too large for our empirical concept, and is unapproachable through any regress, however far this be carried.

If, again, we hold that everything belonging to the world (whether as conditioned or as condition) is contingent, any and every given existence is too small for our concept. For we are constrained always still to look about for some other existence upon which it is dependent.

We have said that in all these cases the cosmical idea is either too large or too small for the empirical regress, and therefore for any possible concept of the understanding. We have thus been maintaining that the fault lies with the idea, in being too large or too small for that to which it is directed, namely, possible experience. Why have we not expressed ourselves in the opposite manner, saying that in the former case the empirical concept is always too small for the idea, and in the latter too large, and that the blame therefore attaches to the empirical regress? The reason is this. Possible experience is that which can alone give reality to our concepts; in its absence a concept is a mere idea, without truth, that is, without relation to any object. The possible empirical concept is therefore the standard by which we must judge whether the idea is a mere idea and thought-entity, or whether it finds its object in the world. For we can say of anything that it is too large [439] or too small relatively to something else, only if the former is required for the sake of the latter, and has to be adapted to it. Among the puzzles propounded in the ancient dialectical Schools was the question, whether, if a ball cannot pass through a hole, we should say that the ball is too large or the hole too small. In such a case it is a matter of indifference how we choose to express ourselves, for we do not know which exists for the sake of the other. In the case, however, of a man and his coat, we do not say that a man is too tall for his coat, but that the coat is too short for the man.

We have thus been led to what is at least a well-grounded suspicion that the cosmological ideas, and with them all the mutually conflicting pseudo-rational assertions, may perhaps rest on an empty and merely fictitious concept of the manner in which the object of these ideas is given to us; and this suspicion may set us on the right path for laying bare the illusion which has so long led us astray.


Section 6


We have sufficiently proved in the Transcendental Aesthetic that everything intuited in space or time, and therefore all objects of any experience possible to us, are nothing but appearances, that is, mere representations, which, in the manner in which they are represented, as extended beings, or as series of alterations, have no independent existence outside our thoughts. This doctrine I entitle transcendental idealism.{1} The realist, in the transcendental meaning of this term, treats these modifications of our sensibility as self-subsistent things, that is, treats mere representations as things in themselves.

It would be unjust to ascribe to us that long-decried [440] empirical idealism, which, while it admits the genuine reality of space, denies the existence of the extended beings in it, or at least considers their existence doubtful, and so does not in this regard allow of any properly demonstrable distinction between truth and dreams. As to the appearances of inner sense in time, empirical idealism finds no difficulty in regarding them as real things; indeed it even asserts that this inner experience is the sufficient as well as the only proof of the actual existence of its object (in itself, with all this time determination).

Our transcendental idealism, on the contrary, admits the reality of the objects of outer intuition, as intuited in space, and of all changes in time, as represented by inner sense. For since space is a form of that intuition which we entitle outer, and since without objects in space there would be no empirical representation whatsoever, we can and must regard the extended beings in it as real; and the same is true of time. But this space and this time, and with them all appearances, are not in themselves things; they are nothing but representations, and cannot exist outside our mind. Even the inner and sensible intuition of our mind (as object of consciousness) which is represented as being determined by the succession of different states in time, is not the self proper, as it exists in itself -- that is, is not the transcendental subject -- but only an appearance that has been given to the sensibility of this, to us unknown, being. This inner appearance cannot be admitted to exist in any such manner in and by itself; for it is conditioned by time, and time cannot be a determination of a thing in itself. The empirical truth of appearances in space and time is, however, sufficiently secured; it is adequately distinguished from dreams, if both dreams and genuine appearances cohere truly and completely in one experience, in accordance with empirical laws.

The objects of experience, then, are never given in themselves, but only in experience, and have no existence outside it. That there may be inhabitants in the moon, although no one has ever perceived them, must certainly be admitted. This, however, only means that in the possible advance of experience we may encounter them. For everything is real which stands in connection with a perception in accordance with the [441] laws of empirical advance. They are therefore real if they stand in an empirical connection with my actual consciousness, although they are not for that reason real in themselves, that is, outside this advance of experience.

Nothing is really given us save perception and the empirical advance from this to other possible perceptions. For the appearances, as mere representations, are in themselves real only in perception, which perception is in fact nothing but the reality of an empirical representation, that is, appearance. To call an appearance a real thing prior to our perceiving it, either means that in the advance of experience we must meet with such a perception, or it means nothing at all. For if we were speaking of a thing in itself, we could indeed say that it exists in itself apart from relation to our senses and possible experience. But we are here speaking only of an appearance in space and time, which are not determinations of things in themselves but only of our sensibility. Accordingly, that which is in space and time is an appearance; it is not anything in itself but consists merely of representations, which, if not given in us -- that is to say, in perception -- are nowhere to be met with.

The faculty of sensible intuition is strictly only a receptivity, a capacity of being affected in a certain manner with representations, the relation of which to one another is a pure intuition of space and of time (mere forms of our sensibility), and which, in so far as they are connected in this manner in space and time, and are determinable according to laws of the unity of experience, are entitled objects. The non-sensible cause of these representations is completely unknown to us, and cannot therefore be intuited by us as object. For such an object would have to be represented as neither in space nor in time (these being merely conditions of sensible representation), and apart from such conditions we cannot think any intuition. We may, however, entitle the purely intelligible cause of appearances in general the transcendental object, but merely in order to have something corresponding to sensibility viewed as a receptivity. To this transcendental object we can ascribe the whole extent and connection of our possible perceptions, and can say that it is given in itself prior to all experience. But the appearances, [442] while conforming to it, are not given in themselves, but only in this experience, being mere representations, which as perceptions can mark out a real object only in so far as the perception connects with all others according to the rules of the unity of experience. Thus we can say that the real things of past time are given in the transcendental object of experience; but they are objects for me and real in past time only in so far as I represent to myself (either by the light of history or by the guiding clues of causes and effects) that a regressive series of possible perceptions in accordance with empirical laws, in a word, that the course of the world, conducts us to a past time-series as condition of the present time -- a series which, however, can be represented as actual not in itself but only in the connection of a possible experience. Accordingly, all events which have taken place in the immense periods that have preceded my own existence mean really nothing but the possibility of extending the chain of experience from the present perception back to the conditions which determine this perception in respect of time.

If, therefore, I represent to myself all existing objects of the senses in all time and in all places, I do not set them in space and time [as being there] prior to experience. This representation is nothing but the thought of a possible experience in its absolute completeness. Since the objects are nothing but mere representations, only in such a possible experience are they given. To say that they exist prior to all my experience is only to assert that they are to be met with if, starting from perception, I advance to that part of experience to which they belong. The cause of the empirical conditions of this advance (that which determines what members I shall meet with, or how far I can meet with any such in my regress) is transcendental, and is therefore necessarily unknown to me. We are not, however, concerned with this transcendental cause, but only with the rule of the advance in the experience in which objects, that is to say, appearances, are given to me. Moreover, in outcome it is a matter of indifference whether I say that in the empirical advance in space I can meet with stars a hundred times farther removed than the outermost now perceptible to me, or whether I say that they are perhaps to be met with in cosmical space even [443] though no human being has ever perceived or ever will perceive them. For even supposing they were given as things in themselves, without relation to possible experience, it still remains true that they are nothing to me, and therefore are not objects, save in so far as they are contained in the series of the empirical regress. Only in another sort of relation, when these appearances would be used for the cosmological idea of an absolute whole, and when, therefore, we are dealing with a question which oversteps the limits of possible experience, does distinction of the mode in which we view the reality of those objects of the senses become of importance, as serving to guard us against a deceptive error which is bound to arise if we misinterpret our empirical concepts.


Section 7


The whole antinomy of pure reason rests upon the dialectical argument: If the conditioned is given, the entire series of all its conditions is likewise given; objects of the senses are given as conditioned; therefore, etc. Through this syllogism, the major premiss of which appears so natural and evident, as many cosmological ideas are introduced as there are differences in the conditions (in the synthesis of appearances) that constitute a series. The ideas postulate absolute totality of these series; and thereby they set reason in unavoidable conflict with itself. We shall be in a better position to detect what is deceptive in this pseudo-rational argument, if we first correct and define some of the concepts employed in it.

In the first place, it is evident beyond all possibility of doubt, that if the conditioned is given, a regress in the series of all its conditions is set us as a task. For it is involved in the very concept of the conditioned that something is referred to a condition, and if this condition is again itself conditioned, to a more remote condition, and so through all the members of the [444] series. The above proposition is thus analytic, and has nothing to fear from a transcendental criticism. It is a logical postulate of reason, that through the understanding we follow up and extend as far as possible that connection of a concept with its conditions which directly results from the concept itself.

Further, if the conditioned as well as its condition are things in themselves, then upon the former being given, the regress to the latter is not only set as a task, but therewith already really given. And since this holds of all members of the series, the complete series of the conditions, and therefore the unconditioned, is given therewith, or rather is presupposed in view of the fact that the conditioned, which is only possible through the complete series, is given. The synthesis of the conditioned with its condition is here a synthesis of the mere understanding, which represents things as they are, without considering whether and how we can obtain knowledge of them. If, however, what we are dealing with are appearances -- as mere representations appearances cannot be given save in so far as I attain knowledge of them, or rather attain them in themselves, for they are nothing but empirical modes of knowledge -- I cannot say, in the same sense of the terms, that if the conditioned is given, all its conditions (as appearances) are likewise given, and therefore cannot in any way infer the absolute totality of the series of its conditions. The appearances are in their apprehension themselves nothing but an empirical synthesis in space and time, and are given only in this synthesis. It does not, therefore, follow, that if the conditioned, in the [field of] appearance, is given, the synthesis which constitutes its empirical condition is given therewith and is presupposed. This synthesis first occurs in the regress, and never exists without it. What we can say is that a regress to the conditions, that is, a continued empirical synthesis, on the side of the conditions, is enjoined or set as a task, and that in this regress there can be no lack of given conditions.

These considerations make it clear that the major premiss of the cosmological inference takes the conditioned in the transcendental sense of a pure category, while the minor premiss takes it in the empirical sense of a concept of the understanding applied to mere appearances. The argument thus commits that dialectical fallacy which is entitled sophisma [445] figurae dictionis. This fallacy is not, however, an artificial one; a quite natural illusion of our common reason leads us, when anything is given as conditioned, thus to assume in the major premiss, as it were without thought or question, its conditions and their series. This assumption is indeed simply the logical requirement that we should have adequate premisses for any given conclusion. Also, there is no reference to a time-order in the connection of the conditioned with its condition; they are presupposed as given together with it. Further, it is no less natural, in the minor premiss, to regard appearances both as things in themselves and as objects given to the pure understanding, than to proceed as we have done in the major, in which we have [similarly] abstracted from all those conditions of intuition under which alone objects can be given. Yet in so doing we have overlooked an important distinction between the concepts. The synthesis of the conditioned with its conditions (and the whole series of the latter) does not in the major premiss carry with it any limitation through time or any concept of succession. The empirical synthesis, on the other hand, that is, the series of the conditions in appearance, as subsumed in the minor premiss, is necessarily successive, the members of the series being given only as following upon one another in time; and I have therefore, in this case, no right to assume the absolute totality of the synthesis and of the series thereby represented. In the major premiss all the members of the series are given in themselves, without any condition of time, but in this minor premiss they are possible only through the successive regress, which is given only in the process in which it is actually carried out.

When this error has thus been shown to be involved in the argument upon which both parties alike base their cosmological assertions, both might justly be dismissed, as being unable to offer any sufficient title in support of their claims. But the quarrel is not thereby ended -- as if one or both of the parties had been proved to be wrong in the actual doctrines they assert, that is, in the conclusions of their arguments. For although they have failed to support their contentions by valid grounds of proof, nothing seems to be clearer than that since one of them asserts that the world has a beginning and the other that it has no beginning and is from eternity, one of the [446] two must be in the right. But even if this be so, none the less, since the arguments on both sides are equally clear, it is impossible to decide between them. The parties may be commanded to keep the peace before the tribunal of reason; but the controversy none the less continues. There can therefore be no way of settling it once for all and to the satisfaction of both sides, save by their becoming convinced that the very fact of their being able so admirably to refute one another is evidence that they are really quarrelling about nothing, and that a certain transcendental illusion has mocked them with a reality where none is to be found. This is the path which we shall now proceed to follow in the settlement of a dispute that defies all attempts to come to a decision.

* * *

Zeno of Elea, a subtle dialectician, was severely reprimanded by Plato as a mischievous Sophist who, to show his skill, would set out to prove a proposition through convincing arguments and then immediately overthrow them by other arguments equally strong. Zeno maintained, for example, that God (probably conceived by him as simply the world) is neither finite nor infinite, neither in motion nor at rest, neither similar nor dissimilar to any other thing. To the critics of his procedure he appeared to have the absurd intention of denying both of two mutually contradictory propositions. But this accusation does not seem to me to be justified. The first of his propositions I shall consider presently more in detail. As regards the others, if by the word 'God' he meant the universe, he would certainly have to say that it is neither abidingly present in its place, that is, at rest, nor that it changes its place, that is, is in motion; because all places are in the universe, and the universe is not, therefore, itself in any place. Again, if the universe comprehends in itself everything that exists, it cannot be either similar or dissimilar to any other thing, because there is no other thing, nothing outside it, with which it could be compared. If two opposed judgments presuppose an inadmissible condition, then in spite of their opposition, which does not amount to a contradiction strictly so-called, both fall to the ground, inasmuch as the condition, under which alone either of them can be maintained, itself falls. [447]

If it be said that all bodies have either a good smell or a smell that is not good, a third case is possible, namely, that a body has no smell at all; and both the conflicting propositions may therefore be false. If, however, I say: all bodies are either good-smelling or not good-smelling (vel suaveolens vel non suaveolens), the two judgments are directly contradictory to one another, and the former only is false, its contradictory opposite, namely, that some bodies are not good-smelling, comprehending those bodies also which have no smell at all. Since, in the previous opposition (per disparata), smell, the contingent condition of the concept of the body, was not removed by the opposed judgment, but remained attached to it, the two judgments were not related as contradictory opposites.

If, therefore, we say that the world is either infinite in extension or is not infinite (non est infinitus), and if the former proposition is false, its contradictory opposite, that the world is not infinite, must be true. And I should thus deny the existence of an infinite world, without affirming in its place a finite world. But if we had said that the world is either infinite or finite (non-infinite), both statements might be false. For in that case we should be regarding the world in itself as determined in its magnitude, and in the opposed judgment we do not merely remove the infinitude, and with it perhaps the entire separate existence of the world, but attach a determination to the world, regarded as a thing actually existing in itself. This assertion may, however, likewise be false; the world may not be given as a thing in itself, nor as being in its magnitude either infinite or finite. I beg permission to entitle this kind of opposition dialectical, and that of contradictories analytical. Thus of two dialectically opposed judgments both may be false; for the one is not a mere contradictory of the other, but says something more than is required for a simple contradiction.

If we regard the two propositions, that the world is infinite in magnitude and that it is finite in magnitude, as contradictory opposites, we are assuming that the world, the complete series of appearances, is a thing in itself that remains even if I suspend the infinite or the finite regress in the series of its appearances. If, however, I reject this assumption, or [448] rather this accompanying transcendental illusion, and deny that the world is a thing in itself, the contradictory opposition of the two assertions is converted into a merely dialectical opposition. Since the world does not exist in itself, independently of the regressive series of my representations, it exists in itself neither as an infinite whole nor as a finite whole. It exists only in the empirical regress of the series of appearances, and is not to be met with as something in itself. If, then, this series is always conditioned, and therefore can never be given as complete, the world is not an unconditioned whole, and does not exist as such a whole, either of infinite or of finite magnitude.

What we have here said of the first cosmological idea, that is, of the absolute totality of magnitude in the [field of] appearance, applies also to all the others. The series of conditions is only to be met with in the regressive synthesis itself, not in the [field of] appearance viewed as a thing given in and by itself, prior to all regress. We must therefore say that the number of parts in a given appearance is in itself neither finite nor infinite. For an appearance is not something existing in itself, and its parts are first given in and through the regress of the decomposing synthesis, a regress which is never given in absolute completeness, either as finite or as infinite. This also holds of the series of subordinated causes, and of the series that proceeds from the conditioned to unconditioned necessary existence. These series can never be regarded as being in themselves in their totality either finite or infinite. Being series of subordinated representations, they exist only in the dynamical regress, and prior to this regress can have no existence in themselves as self-subsistent series of things.

Thus the antinomy of pure reason in its cosmological ideas vanishes when it is shown that it is merely dialectical, and that it is a conflict due to an illusion which arises from our applying to appearances that exist only in our representations, and therefore, so far as they form a series, not otherwise than in a successive regress, that idea of absolute totality which holds only as a condition of things in themselves. From this antinomy we can, however, obtain, not indeed a dogmatic, but a critical and doctrinal advantage. It affords indirect proof of [449] the transcendental ideality of appearances -- a proof which ought to convince any who may not be satisfied by the direct proof given in the Transcendental Aesthetic. This proof would consist in the following dilemma. If the world is a whole existing in itself, it is either finite or infinite. But both alternatives are false (as shown in the proofs of the antithesis and thesis respectively). It is therefore also false that the world (the sum of all appearances) is a whole existing in itself. From this it then follows that appearances in general are nothing outside our representations -- which is just what is meant by their transcendental ideality.

This remark is of some importance. It enables us to see that the proofs given in the fourfold antinomy are not merely baseless deceptions. On the supposition that appearances, and the sensible world which comprehends them all, are things in themselves, these proofs are indeed well-grounded. The conflict which results from the propositions thus obtained shows, however, that there is a fallacy in this assumption, and so leads us to the discovery of the true constitution of things, as objects of the senses. While the transcendental dialectic does not by any means favor skepticism, it certainly does favor the skeptical method, which can point to such dialectic as an example of its great services. For when the arguments of reason are allowed to oppose one another in unrestricted freedom, something advantageous, and likely to aid in the correction of our judgments, will always accrue, though it may not be what we set out to find.


Section 8


Since no maximum of the series of conditions in a sensible world, regarded as a thing in itself, is given through the cosmological principle of totality, but can only be set as a task that calls for regress in the series of conditions, the principle of pure reason has to be amended in these terms; and it [450] then preserves its validity, not indeed as the axiom that we think the totality as actually in the object, but as a problem for the understanding, and therefore for the subject, leading it to undertake and to carry on, in accordance with the completeness prescribed by the idea, the regress in the series of conditions of any given conditioned. For in our sensibility, that is, in space and time, every condition to which we can attain in the exposition of given appearances is again conditioned. For they are not objects in themselves -- were they such, the absolutely unconditioned might be found in them -- but simply empirical representations which must always find in intuition the condition that determines them in space and time. The principle of reason is thus properly only a rule, prescribing a regress in the series of the conditions of given appearances, and forbidding it to bring the regress to a close by treating anything at which it may arrive as absolutely unconditioned. It is not a principle of the possibility of experience and of empirical knowledge of objects of the senses, and therefore not a principle of the understanding; for every experience, in conformity with the given [forms of] intuition, is enclosed within limits. Nor is it a constitutive principle of reason, enabling us to extend our concept of the sensible world beyond all possible experience. It is rather a principle of the greatest possible continuation and extension of experience, allowing no empirical limit to hold as absolute. Thus it is a principle of reason which serves as a rule, postulating what we ought to do in the regress, but not anticipating what is present in the object as it is in itself, prior to all regress. Accordingly I entitle it a regulative principle of reason, to distinguish it from the principle of the absolute totality of the series of conditions, viewed as actually present in the object (that is, in the appearances), which would be a constitutive cosmological principle. I have tried to show by this distinction that there is no such constitutive principle, and so to prevent what otherwise, through a transcendental subreption, inevitably takes place, namely, the ascribing of objective reality to an idea that serves merely as a rule.

In order properly to determine the meaning of this rule of [451] pure reason, we must observe, first, that it cannot tell us what the object is, but only how the empirical regress is to be carried out so as to arrive at the complete concept of the object. If it attempted the former task, it would be a constitutive principle, such as pure reason can never supply. It cannot be regarded as maintaining that the series of conditions for a given conditioned is in itself either finite or infinite. That would be to treat a mere idea of absolute totality, which is only produced in the idea, as equivalent to thinking an object that cannot be given in any experience. For in terms of it we should be ascribing to a series of appearances an objective reality which is independent of empirical synthesis. This idea of reason can therefore do no more than prescribe a rule to the regressive synthesis in the series of conditions; and in accordance with this rule the synthesis must proceed from the conditioned, through all subordinate conditions, up to the unconditioned. Yet it can never reach this goal, for the absolutely unconditioned is not to be met with in experience.

We must therefore first of all determine what we are to mean by the synthesis of a series, in cases in which the synthesis is never complete. In this connection two expressions are commonly employed, which are intended to mark a distinction, though without correctly assigning the ground of the distinction. Mathematicians speak solely of a progressus in infinitum. Philosophers, whose task it is to examine concepts, refuse to accept this expression as legitimate, substituting for it the phrase progressus in indefinitum. We need not stop to examine the reasons for such a distinction, or to enlarge upon its useful or useless employment. We need only determine these concepts with such accuracy as is required for our particular purposes.

Of a straight line we may rightly say that it can be produced to infinity. In this case the distinction between an infinite and an indeterminately great advance (progressus in indefinitum) would be mere subtlety. When we say, ' Draw a line', it sounds indeed more correct to add in indefinitum than in infinitum. Whereas the latter means that you must not cease producing it -- which is not what is intended -- the former means only, produce it as far as you please; and if we are referring only to what it is in our power to do, this expression is quite [452] correct, for we can always make the line longer, without end. So is it in all cases in which we speak only of the progress, that is, of the advance from the condition to the conditioned: this possible advance proceeds, without end, in the series of appearances. From a given pair of parents the descending line of generation may proceed without end, and we can quite well regard the line as actually so continuing in the world. For in this case reason never requires an absolute totality of the series, since it does not presuppose that totality as a condition and as given (datum), but only as something conditioned, that allows of being given (dabile), and is added to without end.

Quite otherwise is it with the problem: how far the regress extends, when it ascends in a series from something given as conditioned to its conditions. Can we say that the regress is in infinitum, or only that it is indeterminately far extended (in indefinitum)? Can we, for instance, ascend from the men now living, through the series of their ancestors, in infinitum; or can we only say that, so far as we have gone back, we have never met with an empirical ground for regarding the series as limited at any point, and that we are therefore justified and at the same time obliged, in the case of every ancestor, to search further for progenitors, though not indeed to presuppose them? We answer: when the whole is given in empirical intuition, the regress in the series of its inner conditions proceeds in infinitum; but when a member only of the series is given, starting from which the regress has to proceed to absolute totality, the regress is only of indeterminate character (in indefinitum). Accordingly, the division of a body, that is, of a portion of matter given between certain limits, must be said to proceed in infinitum. For this matter is given as a whole, and therefore with all its possible parts, in empirical intuition. Since the condition of this whole is its part, and the condition of this part is the part of the part, and so on, and since in this regress of decomposition an unconditioned (indivisible) member of this series of conditions is never met with, not only is there never any empirical ground for stopping in the division, but the further members of any continued division are themselves empirically given prior to the continuation of the division. The division, that is to say, goes on in infinitum. On [453] the other hand, since the series of ancestors of any given man is not given in its absolute totality in any possible experience, the regress proceeds from every member in the series of generations to a higher member, and no empirical limit is encountered which exhibits a member as absolutely unconditioned. And since the members, which might supply the condition, are not contained in an empirical intuition of the whole, prior to the regress, this regress does not proceed in infinitum, by division of the given, but only indefinitely far, searching for further members additional to those that are given, and which are themselves again always given as conditioned.

In neither case, whether the regress be in infinitum or in indefinitum, may the series of conditions be regarded as being given as infinite in the object. The series are not things in themselves, but only appearances, which, as conditions of one another, are given only in the regress itself. The question, therefore, is no longer how great this series of conditions may be in itself, whether it be finite or infinite, for it is nothing in itself; but how we are to carry out the empirical regress, and how far we should continue it. Here we find an important distinction in regard to the rule governing such procedure. When the whole is empirically given; it is possible to proceed back in the series of its inner conditions in infinitum. When the whole is not given, but has first to be given through empirical regress, we can only say that the search for still higher conditions of the series is possible in infinitum. In the former case we could say: there are always more members, empirically given, than I can reach through the regress of decomposition; in the latter case, however, the position is this: we can always proceed still further in the regress, because no member is empirically given as absolutely unconditioned; and since a higher member is therefore always possible, the enquiry regarding it is necessary. In the one case we necessarily find further members of the series; in the other case, since no experience is absolutely limited, the necessity is that we enquire for them. For either we have no perception which sets an absolute limit to the empirical regress, in which case we must not regard the regress as completed, or we have a perception limiting our series, in which case the perception cannot be part of the series traversed (for that which limits must be distinct from that which is [454] thereby limited), and we must therefore continue our regress to this condition also, and the regress is thus again resumed.

These observations will be set in their proper light by their application in the following section.


Section 9


We have already, on several occasions, shown that no transcendental employment can be made of the pure concepts either of the understanding or of reason; that the [assertion of] absolute totality of the series of conditions in the sensible world rests on a transcendental employment of reason in which reason demands this unconditioned completeness from what it assumes to be a thing in itself; and that since the sensible world contains no such completeness, we are never justified in enquiring, as regards the absolute magnitude of the series in the sensible world, whether it be limited or in itself unlimited, but only how far we ought to go in the empirical regress, when we trace experience back to its conditions, obeying the rule of reason, and therefore resting content with no answer to its questions save that which is in conformity with the object.

What therefore alone remains to us is the validity of the principle of reason as a rule for the continuation and magnitude of a possible experience; its invalidity as a constitutive principle of appearances [viewed as things] in themselves has been sufficiently demonstrated. If we can keep these conclusions steadily in view, the self-conflict of reason will be entirely at an end. For not only will this critical solution destroy the illusion which set reason at variance with itself, but will replace it by teaching which, in correcting the misinterpretation that has been the sole source of the conflict, brings reason into agreement with itself. A principle which otherwise would be dialectical will thus be converted into a doctrinal principle. In fact, if this principle can be upheld as determining, in accordance [455] with its subjective significance, and yet also in conformity with the objects of experience, the greatest possible empirical use of understanding, the outcome will be much the same as if it were -- what is impossible from pure reason -- an axiom which determined a priori the objects in themselves. For only in proportion as the principle is effective in directing the widest possible empirical employment of the understanding, can it exercise, in respect of the objects of experience, any influence in extending and correcting our knowledge.


Solution of the Cosmological Idea of the Totality of the Composition of the Appearances of a Cosmic Whole

Here, as in the other cosmological questions, the regulative principle of reason is grounded on the proposition that in the empirical regress we can have no experience of an absolute limit, that is, no experience of any condition as being one that empirically is absolutely unconditioned. The reason is this: such an experience would have to contain a limitation of appearances by nothing, or by the void, and in the continued regress we should have to be able to encounter this limitation in a perception -- which is impossible.

This proposition, which virtually states that the only conditions which we can reach in the empirical regress are conditions which must themselves again be regarded as empirically conditioned, contains the rule in terminis, that however far we may have advanced in the ascending series, we must always enquire for a still higher member of the series, which may or may not become known to us through experience.

For the solution, therefore, of the first cosmological problem we have only to decide whether in the regress to the unconditioned magnitude of the universe, in time and space, this never limited ascent can be called a regress to infinity, or only an indeterminately continued regress (in indefinitum).

The quite general representation of the series of all past states of the world, as well as of all the things which coexist in cosmic space, is itself merely a possible empirical regress which I think to myself, though in an indeterminate manner. Only in this way can the concept of such a series of conditions [456] for a given perception arise at all.{2} Now we have the cosmic whole only in concept, never, as a whole, in intuition. We cannot, therefore, argue from the magnitude of the cosmic whole to the magnitude of the regress, determining the latter in accordance with the former; on the contrary, only by reference to the magnitude of the empirical regress am I in a position to make for myself a concept of the magnitude of the world. But of this empirical regress the most that we can ever know is that from every given member of the series of conditions we have always still to advance empirically to a higher and more remote member. The magnitude of the whole of appearances is not thereby determined in any absolute manner; and we cannot therefore say that this regress proceeds to infinity. In doing so we should be anticipating members which the regress has not yet reached, representing their number as so great that no empirical synthesis could attain thereto, and so should be determining the magnitude of the world (although only negatively) prior to the regress -which is impossible. Since the world is not given me, in its totality, through any intuition, neither is its magnitude given me prior to the regress. We cannot, therefore, say anything at all in regard to the magnitude of the world, not even that there is in it a regress in infinitum. All that we can do is to seek for the concept of its magnitude according to the rule which determines the empirical regress in it. This rule says no more than that, however far we may have attained in the series of empirical conditions, we should never assume an absolute limit, but should subordinate every appearance, as conditioned, to another as its condition, and that we must advance to this condition. This is the regressus in indefinitum, which, as it determines no magnitude in the object, is clearly enough distinguishable from the regressus in infinitum. [457]

I cannot say, therefore, that the world is infinite in space or as regards past time. Any such concept of magnitude, as being that of a given infinitude, is empirically impossible, and therefore, in reference to the world as an object of the senses, also absolutely impossible. Nor can I say that the regress from a given perception to all that limits it in a series, whether in space or in past time, proceeds to infinity; that would be to presuppose that the world has infinite magnitude. I also cannot say that the regress is finite; an absolute limit is likewise empirically impossible. Thus I can say nothing regarding the whole object of experience, the world of sense; I must limit my assertions to the rule which determines how experience, in conformity with its object, is to be obtained and further extended.

Thus the first and negative answer to the cosmological problem regarding the magnitude of the world is that the world has no first beginning in time and no outermost limit in space.

For if we suppose the opposite, the world would be limited on the one hand by empty time and on the other by empty space. Since, however, as appearance, it cannot in itself be limited in either manner -- appearance not being a thing in itself -- these limits of the world would have to be given in a possible experience, that is to say, we should require to have a perception of limitation by absolutely empty time or space. But such an experience, as completely empty of content, is impossible. Consequently, an absolute limit of the world is impossible empirically, and therefore also absolutely.{3}

The affirmative answer likewise directly follows, namely, that the regress in the series of appearances, as a determination of the magnitude of the world, proceeds in indefinitum. [458] This is equivalent to saying that, although the sensible world has no absolute magnitude, the empirical regress (through which alone it can be given on the side of its conditions) has its own rule, namely, that it must always advance from every member of the series, as conditioned, to one still more remote; doing so by means either of our own experience, or of the guiding-thread of history, or of the chain of effects and causes. And as the rule further demands, our sole and constant aim must be the extension of the possible empirical employment of the understanding, this being the only proper task of reason in the application of its principles.

This rule does not prescribe a determinate empirical regress that must proceed without end in some one kind of appearance, e.g. that in proceeding from a living person through a series of progenitors we must never expect to meet with a first pair, or that in the series of cosmic bodies we must never admit an outermost sun. All that the rule requires is that the advance from appearances be to appearances; for even if these latter yield no actual perception (as is the case when for our consciousness they are too weak in degree to become experience), as appearances they none the less still belong to a possible experience.

All beginning is in time and all limits of the extended are in space. But space and time belong only to the world of sense. Accordingly, while appearances in the world are conditionally limited, the world itself is neither conditionally nor unconditionally limited.

Similarly, since the world can never be given as complete, and since even the series of conditions for that which is given as conditioned cannot, as a cosmic series, be given as complete, the concept of the magnitude of the world is given only through the regress and not in a collective intuition prior to it. But the regress consists only in the determining of the magnitude, and does not give any determinate concept. It does not, therefore, yield any concept of a magnitude which, in relation to a certain [unit-] measure, can be described as infinite. In other words, the regress does not proceed to the infinite, as if the infinite could be given, but only indeterminately far, in order [by means of the regress] to give that empirical magnitude which first becomes actual in and through this very regress. [459]


Solution of the Cosmological Idea of the Totality of Division of a Whole given in Intuition

If we divide a whole which is given in intuition, we proceed from something conditioned to the conditions of its possibility. The division of the parts (subdivisio or decompositio) is a regress in the series of these conditions. The absolute totality of this series would be given only if the regress could reach simple parts. But if all the parts in a continuously progressing decomposition are themselves again divisible, the division, that is, the regress from the conditioned to its conditions, proceeds in infinitum. For the conditions (the parts) are themselves contained in the conditioned, and since this is given complete in an intuition that is enclosed between limits the parts are one and all given together with the conditioned. The regress may not, therefore, be entitled merely a regress in indefinitum. This was permissible in regard to the first cosmological idea, since it required an advance from the conditioned to its conditions, which, as outside it, were not given through and along with it, but were first added to it in the empirical regress. We are not, however, entitled to say of a whole which is divisible to infinity, that it is made up of infinitely many parts. For although all parts are contained in the intuition of the whole, the whole division is not so contained, but consists only in the continuous decomposition, that is, in the regress itself, whereby the series first becomes actual. Since this regress is infinite, all the members or parts at which it arrives are contained in the given whole, viewed as an aggregate. But the whole series of the division is not so contained, for it is a successive infinite and never whole, and cannot, therefore, exhibit an infinite multiplicity, or any combination of an infinite multiplicity in a whole.

This general statement is obviously applicable to space. Every space intuited as within limits is such a whole, the parts of which, as obtained by decomposition, are always themselves spaces. Every limited space is therefore infinitely divisible.

From this a second application of the statement quite naturally follows, namely, to an outer appearance enclosed [460] within limits, that is, to body. Its divisibility is grounded in the divisibility of space, which constitutes the possibility of the body as an extended whole. Body is therefore infinitely divisible, without consisting, however, of infinitely many parts.

It may seem, indeed, that a body, since it has to be represented in space as substance, will, as regards the law of the divisibility of space, differ from space. We may certainly grant that decomposition can never remove all compositeness from space; for that would mean that space, in which there is nothing self-subsistent, had ceased to be space, which is impossible. On the other hand, the assertion that if all compositeness of matter be thought away nothing at all will remain, does not appear to be compatible with the concept of a substance which is meant to be the subject of all compositeness, and which must persist in the elements of the composite, even although the connection in space, whereby they constitute a body, be removed. But while this is true of a thing in itself, as thought through a pure concept of the understanding, it does not hold of that which we entitle substance in the [field of] appearance. For this latter is not an absolute subject, but only an abiding image of sensibility; it is nothing at all save as an intuition, in which unconditionedness is never to be met with.

But although this rule of progress in infinitum undoubtedly applies to the subdivision of an appearance, viewed as a mere filling of space, it cannot be made to apply to a whole in which already, as given, the parts are so definitely distinguished off from one another that they constitute a quantum discretum. We cannot assume that every part of an organized whole is itself again so organized that, in the analysis of the parts to infinity, still other organized parts are always to be met with; in a word, that the whole is organized to infinity. This is not a thinkable hypothesis. It is true, indeed, that the parts of matter, [as found] in their decomposition in infinitum, may be organized. The infinitude of the division of a given appearance in space is grounded solely on the fact that, through this infinitude, only the divisibility (in itself, as regards the number of its parts, absolutely indeterminate) is given -- the parts themselves being given and determined only through the subdivision. In a word, the whole is not in itself already divided. The number [461] of parts, therefore, which a division may determine in a whole, will depend upon how far we care to advance in the regress of the division. On the other hand, in the case of an organic body conceived as organized in infinitum the whole is represented as already divided into parts, and as yielding to us, prior to all regress, a determinate and yet infinite number of parts. This, however, is self-contradictory. This infinite involution is regarded as an infinite (that is, never to be completed) series, and yet at the same time as completed in a [discrete] complex. Infinite divisibility belongs to appearance only in so far as it is a quantum continuum; it is inseparable from the occupation of space, which is indeed its ground. To view anything as being a quantum discretum, is to take the number of units in it as being determined, and therefore as being in every case equal to some number. How far organization can go in an organized body, only experience can show; and although, so far as our experience has gone, we may not have arrived with certainty at any inorganic part, the possibility of experiencing such parts must at least be recognized. When, however, we have in mind the transcendental division of an appearance in general, the question how far it may extend does not await an answer from experience; it is decided by a principle of reason which prescribes that, in the decomposition of the extended, the empirical regress, in conformity with the nature of this appearance, be never regarded as absolutely completed.

Concluding Note on the Solution of the Mathematical - transcendental Ideas, and Preliminary Observation on the Solution of the Dynamical - transcendental Ideas.

In representing the antinomy of pure reason, through all the transcendental ideas, in tabular form, and in showing that the ground of this conflict and the only means of removing it is by declaring both the opposed assertions to be false, we have represented the conditions as, in all cases, standing to the conditioned in relations of space and time. This is the assumption ordinarily made by the common understanding, and to it the conflict is exclusively due. On this view all the dialectical representations of totality, in the series of conditions for a given conditioned, are throughout of the same character. The [462] condition is always a member of a series along with the conditioned, and so is homogeneous with it. In such a series the regress was never thought as completed, or if it had to be so thought, a member, in itself conditioned, must have been falsely supposed to be a first member, and therefore to be unconditioned; the object, that is, the conditioned, might not always be considered merely according to its magnitude, but at least the series of its conditions was so regarded. Thus arose the difficulty -- a difficulty which could not be disposed of by any compromise but solely by cutting the knot -- that reason made the series either too long or too short for the understanding, so that the understanding could never be equal to the prescribed idea.

But in all this we have been overlooking an essential distinction that obtains among the objects, that is, among those concepts of understanding which reason endeavors to raise to ideas. According to the table of categories given above, two of these concepts imply a mathematical, the other two a dynamical synthesis of appearances. Hitherto it has not been necessary to take account of this distinction; for just as in the general representation of all transcendental ideas we have been conforming to conditions within the [field of] appearance, so in the two mathematical - transcendental ideas the only object we have had in mind is object as appearance. But now that we are proceeding to consider how far dynamical concepts of the understanding are adequate to the idea of reason, the distinction becomes of importance, and opens up to us an entirely new view of the suit in which reason is implicated. This suit, in our previous trial of it, has been dismissed as resting, on both sides, on false presuppositions. But since in the dynamical antinomy a presupposition compatible with the pretensions of reason may perhaps be found, and since the judge may perhaps make good what is lacking in the pleas which both sides have been guilty of misstating, the suit may be settled to the satisfaction of both parties, a procedure impossible in the case of the mathematical antinomies.

If we consider solely the extension of the series of conditions, and whether the series are adequate to the idea, or the idea too large or too small for the series, the series are indeed in [463] these respects all homogeneous. But the concept of the understanding, which underlies these ideas, may contain either a synthesis solely of the homogeneous (which is presupposed alike in the composition and in the division of every magnitude), or a synthesis of the heterogeneous. For the heterogeneous can be admitted as at least possible in the case of dynamical synthesis, alike in causal connection and in the connection of the necessary with the contingent.

Hence in the mathematical connection of the series of appearances no other than a sensible condition is admissible, that is to say, none that is not itself a part of the series. On the other hand, in the dynamical series of sensible conditions, a heterogeneous condition, not itself a part of the series, but purely intelligible, and as such outside the series, can be allowed. In this way reason obtains satisfaction and the unconditioned is set prior to the appearances, while yet the invariably conditioned character of the appearances is not obscured, nor their series cut short, in violation of the principles prescribed by the understanding.

Inasmuch as the dynamical ideas allow of a condition of appearances outside the series of the appearances, that is, a condition which is not itself appearance, we arrive at a conclusion altogether different from any that was possible in the case of the mathematical antinomy. In it we were obliged to denounce both the opposed dialectical assertions as false. In the dynamical series, on the other hand, the completely conditioned, which is inseparable from the series considered as appearances, is bound up with a condition which, while indeed empirically unconditioned, is also non-sensible. We are thus able to obtain satisfaction for understanding on the one hand and for reason on the other.{4} The dialectical [464] arguments, which in one or other way sought unconditioned totality in mere appearances, fall to the ground, and the propositions of reason, when thus given this more correct interpretation, may both alike be true. This can never be the case with those cosmological ideas which refer only to a mathematically unconditioned unity; for in them no condition of the series of appearances can be found that is not itself appearance, and as appearance one of the members of the series.


Solution of the Cosmological Idea of Totality in the Derivation of Cosmical Events from their Causes

When we are dealing with what happens there are only two kinds of causality conceivable by us; the causality is either according to nature or arises from freedom. The former is the connection in the sensible world of one state with a preceding state on which it follows according to a rule. Since the causality of appearances rests on conditions of time, and the preceding state, if it had always existed, could not have produced an effect which first comes into being in time, it follows that the causality of the cause of that which happens or comes into being must itself also have come into being, and that in accordance with the principle of the understanding it must in its turn itself require a cause.

By freedom, on the other hand, in its cosmological meaning, I understand the power of beginning a state spontaneously. Such causality will not, therefore, itself stand under another cause determining it in time, as required by the law of nature. Freedom, in this sense, is a pure transcendental idea, which, in the first place, contains nothing borrowed from experience, and which, secondly, refers to an object that cannot be determined or given in any experience. That everything which happens has a cause is a universal law, conditioning the very possibility of all experience. Hence the causality of the cause, which itself happens or comes to be, must itself in turn have a cause; and thus the entire field of experience, however far it may extend, is transformed into a sum-total of the merely natural. But since in this way no absolute totality of [465] conditions determining causal relation can be obtained, reason creates for itself the idea of a spontaneity which can begin to act of itself, without requiring to be determined to action by an antecedent cause in accordance with the law of causality.

It should especially be noted that the practical concept of freedom is based on this transcendental idea, and that in the latter lies the real source of the difficulty by which the question of the possibility of freedom has always been beset. Freedom in the practical sense is the will's independence of coercion through sensuous impulses. For a will is sensuous, in so far as it is pathologically affected, i.e. by sensuous motives; it is animal (arbitrium brutum), if it can be pathologically necessitated. The human will is certainly an arbitrium sensitivum, not, however, brutum but liberum. For sensibility does not necessitate its action. There is in man a power of self determination, independently of any coercion through sensuous impulses.

Obviously, if all causality in the sensible world were mere nature, every event would be determined by another in time, in accordance with necessary laws. Appearances, in determining the will, would have in the actions of the will their natural effects, and would render the actions necessary. The denial of transcendental freedom must, therefore, involve the elimination of all practical freedom. For practical freedom presupposes that although something has not happened, it ought to have happened, and that its cause, [as found] in the [field of] appearance, is not therefore, so determining that it excludes a causality of our will -- a causality which, independently of those natural causes, and even contrary to their force and influence, can produce something that is determined in the time-order in accordance with empirical laws, and which can therefore begin a series of events entirely of itself.

Here then, as always happens when reason, in venturing beyond the limits of possible experience, comes into conflict with itself the problem is not really physiological but transcendental. The question as to the possibility of freedom does indeed concern psychology; since it rests on dialectical arguments of pure reason, its treatment and solution belong exclusively to transcendental philosophy. Before attempting [466] this solution, a task which transcendental philosophy cannot decline, I must define somewhat more accurately the procedure of transcendental philosophy in dealing with the problem.

If appearances were things in themselves, and space and time forms of the existence of things in themselves, the conditions would always be members of the same series as the conditioned; and thus, in the present case, as in the other transcendental ideas, the antinomy would arise, that the series must be too large or too small for the understanding. But the dynamical concepts of reason, with which we have to deal in this and the following section, possess this peculiarity that they are not concerned with an object considered as a magnitude, but only with its existence. Accordingly we can abstract from the magnitude of the series of conditions, and consider only the dynamical relation of the condition to the conditioned. The difficulty which then meets us, in dealing with the question regarding nature and freedom, is whether freedom is possible at all, and if it be possible, whether it can exist along with the universality of the natural law of causality. Is it a truly disjunctive proposition to say that every effect in the world must arise either from nature or from freedom; or must we not rather say that in one and the same event, in different relations, both can be found? That all events in the sensible world stand in thoroughgoing connection in accordance with unchangeable laws of nature is an established principle of the Transcendental Analytic, and allows of no exception. The question, therefore, can only be whether freedom is completely excluded by this inviolable rule, or whether an effect, notwithstanding its being thus determined in accordance with nature, may not at the same time be grounded in freedom. The common but fallacious presupposition of the absolute reality of appearances here manifests its injurious influence, to the confounding of reason. For if appearances are things in themselves, freedom cannot be upheld. Nature will then be the complete and sufficient determining cause of every event. The condition of the event will be such as can be found only in the series of appearances; both it and its effect will be necessary in accordance with the law of nature. If, on the other hand, appearances are not taken for more than they actually are; if they are viewed not as things in themselves, but merely as representations, connected according [467] to empirical laws, they must themselves have grounds which are not appearances. The effects of such an intelligible cause appear, and accordingly can be determined through other appearances, but its causality is not so determined. While the effects are to be found in the series of empirical conditions, the intelligible cause, together with its causality, is outside the series. Thus the effect may be regarded as free in respect of its intelligible cause, and at the same time in respect of appearances as resulting from them according to the necessity of nature. This distinction, when stated in this quite general and abstract manner, is bound to appear extremely subtle and obscure, but will become clear in the course of its application. My purpose has only been to point out that since the thoroughgoing connection of all appearances, in a context of nature, is an inexorable law, the inevitable consequence of obstinately insisting upon the reality of appearances is to destroy all freedom. Those who thus follow the common view have never been able to reconcile nature and freedom.

Possibility of Causality through Freedom, in Harmony with the Universal Law of Natural Necessity.

Whatever in an object of the senses is not itself appearance, I entitle intelligible. If, therefore, that which in the sensible world must be regarded as appearance has in itself a faculty which is not an object of sensible intuition, but through which it can be the cause of appearances, the causality of this being can be regarded from two points of view. Regarded as the causality of a thing in itself, it is intelligible in its action; regarded as the causality of an appearance in the world of sense, it is sensible in its effects. We should therefore have to form both an empirical and an intellectual concept of the causality of the faculty of such a subject, and to regard both as referring to one and the same effect. This twofold manner of conceiving the faculty possessed by an object of the senses does not contradict any of the concepts which we have to form of appearances and of a possible experience. For since they are not things in themselves, they must rest upon a transcendental object which determines them as mere representations; and consequently there is nothing to prevent us from ascribing to this transcendental [468] object, besides the quality in terms of which it appears, a causality which is not appearance, although its effect is to be met with in appearance. Every efficient cause must have a character, that is, a law of its causality, without which it would not be a cause. On the above supposition, we should, therefore, in a subject belonging to the sensible world have, first, an empirical character, whereby its actions, as appearances, stand in thoroughgoing connection with other appearances in accordance with unvarying laws of nature. And since these actions can be derived from the other appearances, they constitute together with them a single series in the order of nature. Secondly, we should also have to allow the subject an intelligible character, by which it is indeed the cause of those same actions [in their quality] as appearances, but which does not itself stand under any conditions of sensibility, and is not itself appearance. We can entitle the former the character of the thing in the [field of] appearance, and the latter its character as thing in itself.

Now this acting subject would not, in its intelligible character, stand under any conditions of time; time is only a condition of appearances, not of things in themselves. In this subject no action would begin or cease, and it would not, therefore, have to conform to the law of the determination of all that is alterable in time, namely, that everything which happens must have its cause in the appearances which precede it. In a word, its causality, so far as it is intelligible, would not have a place in the series of those empirical conditions through which the event is rendered necessary in the world of sense. This intelligible character can never, indeed, be immediately known, for nothing can be perceived except in so far as it appears. It would have to be thought in accordance with the empirical character-- just as we are constrained to think a transcendental object as underlying appearances, though we know nothing of what it is in itself.

In its empirical character, therefore, this subject, as appearance, would have to conform to all the laws of causal determination. To this extent it could be nothing more than a part of the world of sense, and its effects, like all other [469] appearances, must be the inevitable outcome of nature. In proportion as outer appearances are found to influence it, and in proportion as its empirical character, that is, the law of its causality, becomes known through experience, all its actions must admit of explanation in accordance with the laws of nature. In other words, all that is required for their complete and necessary determination must be found in a possible experience.

In its intelligible character (though we can only have a general concept of that character) this same subject must be considered to be free from all influence of sensibility and from all determination through appearances. Inasmuch as it is noumenon, nothing happens in it; there can be no change requiring dynamical determination in time, and therefore no causal dependence upon appearances. And consequently, since natural necessity is to be met with only in the sensible world, this active being must in its actions be independent of, and free from all such necessity. No action begins in this active being itself; but we may yet quite correctly say that the active being of itself begins its effects in the sensible world. In so doing, we should not be asserting that the effects in the sensible world can begin of themselves; they are always predetermined through antecedent empirical conditions, though solely through their empirical character (which is no more than the appearance of the intelligible), and so are only possible as a continuation of the series of natural causes. In this way freedom and nature, in the full sense of these terms, can exist together, without any conflict, in the same actions, according as the actions are referred to their intelligible or to their sensible cause.

Explanation of the Cosmological Idea of Freedom in its connection with Universal Natural Necessity.

I have thought it advisable to give this outline sketch of the solution of our transcendental problem, so that we may be the better enabled to survey the course which reason has to adopt in arriving at the solution. I shall now proceed to set forth the various factors involved in this solution, and to consider each in detail.

That everything which happens has a cause, is a law of nature. Since the causality of this cause, that is, the action of [470] the cause, is antecedent in time to the effect which has ensued upon it, it cannot itself have always existed, but must have happened, and among the appearances must have a cause by which it in turn is determined. Consequently, all events are empirically determined in an order of nature. Only in virtue of this law can appearances constitute a nature and become objects of experience. This law is a law of the understanding, from which no departure can be permitted, and from which no appearance may be exempted. To allow such exemption would be to set an appearance outside all possible experience, to distinguish it from all objects of possible experience, and so to make of it a mere thought-entity, a phantom of the brain.

This would seem to imply the existence of a chain of causes which in the regress to their conditions allows of no absolute totality. But that need not trouble us. The point has already been dealt with in the general discussion of the antinomy into which reason falls when in the series of appearances it proceeds to the unconditioned. Were we to yield to the illusion of transcendental realism, neither nature nor freedom would remain. The only question here is this: -- Admitting that in the whole series of events there is nothing but natural necessity, is it yet possible to regard one and the same event as being in one aspect merely an effect of nature and in another aspect an effect due to freedom; or is there between these two kinds of causality a direct contradiction?

Among the causes in the [field of] appearance there certainly cannot be anything which could begin a series absolutely and of itself. Every action, [viewed] as appearance, in so far as it gives rise to an event, is itself an event or happening, and presupposes another state wherein its cause is to be found. Thus everything which happens is merely a continuation of the series, and nothing that begins of itself is a possible member of the series. The actions of natural causes in the time sequence are thus themselves effects; they presuppose causes antecedent to them in the temporal series. An original act, such as can by itself bring about what did not exist before, is not to be looked for in the causally connected appearances.

Now granting that effects are appearances and that their cause is likewise appearance, is it necessary that the causality of their cause should be exclusively empirical? May it not [471] rather be, that while for every effect in the [field of] appearance a connection with its cause in accordance with the laws of empirical causality is indeed required, this empirical causality, without the least violation of its connection with natural causes, is itself an effect of a causality that is not empirical but intelligible? This latter causality would be the action of a cause which, in respect of appearances, is original, and therefore, as pertaining to this faculty, not appearance but intelligible; although it must otherwise, in so far as it is a link in the chain of nature, be regarded as entirely belonging to the world of sense.

The principle of the causal connection of appearances is required in order that we may be able to look for and to determine the natural conditions of natural events, that is to say, their causes in the [field of] appearance. If this principle be admitted, and be not weakened through any exception, the requirements of the understanding, which in its empirical employment sees in all happenings nothing but nature, and is justified in so doing, are completely satisfied; and physical explanations may proceed on their own lines without interference. These requirements are not in any way infringed, if we assume, even though the assumption should be a mere fiction, that some among the natural causes have a faculty which is intelligible only, inasmuch as its determination to action never rests upon empirical conditions, but solely on grounds of understanding. We must, of course, at the same time be able to assume that the action of these causes in the [field of] appearance is in conformity with all the laws of empirical causality. In this way the acting subject, as causa phaenomenon, would be bound up with nature through the indissoluble dependence of all its actions, and only as we ascend from the empirical object to the transcendental should we find that this subject, together with all its causality in the [field of] appearance, has in its noumenon certain conditions which must be regarded as purely intelligible. For if in determining in what ways appearances can serve as causes we follow the rules of nature, we need not concern ourselves what kind of ground for these appearances and their connection may have to be thought as existing in the transcendental subject, which is empirically [472] unknown to us. This intelligible ground does not have to be considered in empirical enquiries; it concerns only thought in the pure understanding; and although the effects of this thought and action of the pure understanding are to be met with in the appearances, these appearances must none the less be capable of complete causal explanation in terms of other appearances in accordance with natural laws. We have to take their strictly empirical character as the supreme ground of explanation, leaving entirely out of account their intelligible character (that is, the transcendental cause of their empirical character) as being completely unknown, save in so far as the empirical serves for its sensible sign.

Let us apply this to experience. Man is one of the appearances of the sensible world, and in so far one of the natural causes the causality of which must stand under empirical laws. Like all other things in nature, he must have an empirical character. This character we come to know through the powers and faculties which he reveals in his actions. In lifeless, or merely animal, nature we find no ground for thinking that any faculty is conditioned otherwise than in a merely sensible manner. Man, however, who knows all the rest of nature solely through the senses, knows himself also through pure apperception; and this, indeed, in acts and inner determinations which he cannot regard as impressions of the senses. He is thus to himself, on the one hand phenomenon, and on the other hand, in respect of certain faculties the action of which cannot be ascribed to the receptivity of sensibility, a purely intelligible object. We entitle these faculties understanding and reason. The latter, in particular, we distinguish in a quite peculiar and especial way from all empirically conditioned powers. For it views its objects exclusively in the light of ideas, and in accordance with them determines the understanding, which then proceeds to make an empirical use of its own similarly pure concepts.

That our reason has causality, or that we at least represent it to ourselves as having causality, is evident from the imperatives which in all matters of conduct we impose as rules upon our active powers. 'Ought' expresses a kind of necessity and of connection with grounds which is found nowhere else in the [473] whole of nature. The understanding can know in nature only what is, what has been, or what will be. We cannot say that anything in nature ought to be other than what in all these time-relations it actually is. When we have the course of nature alone in view, 'ought' has no meaning whatsoever. It is just as absurd to ask what ought to happen in the natural world as to ask what properties a circle ought to have. All that we are justified in asking is: what happens in nature? what are the properties of the circle?

This 'ought' expresses a possible action the ground of which cannot be anything but a mere concept; whereas in the case of a merely natural action the ground must always be an appearance. The action to which the 'ought' applies must indeed be possible under natural conditions. These conditions, however, do not play any part in determining the will itself, but only in determining the effect and its consequences in the [field of] appearance. No matter how many natural grounds or how many sensuous impulses may impel me to will, they can never give rise to the 'ought', but only to a willing which, while very far from being necessary, is always conditioned; and the 'ought' pronounced by reason confronts such willing with a limit and an end -- nay more, forbids or authorizes it. Whether what is willed be an object of mere sensibility (the pleasant) or of pure reason (the good),reason will not give way to any ground which is empirically given. Reason does not here follow the order of things as they present themselves in appearance, but frames to itself with perfect spontaneity an order of its own according to ideas, to which it adapts the empirical conditions, and according to which it declares actions to be necessary, even although they have never taken place, and perhaps never will take place. And at the same time reason also presupposes that it can have causality in regard to all these actions, since otherwise no empirical effects could be expected from its ideas.

Now, in view of these considerations, let us take our stand, and regard it as at least possible for reason to have causality with respect to appearances. Reason though it be, it must none the less exhibit an empirical character. For every cause presupposes a rule according to which certain appearances follow as effects; and every rule requires uniformity in the effects. This uniformity is, indeed, that upon which the [474] concept of cause (as a faculty) is based, and so far as it must be exhibited by mere appearances may be named the empirical character of the cause. This character is permanent, but its effects, according to variation in the concomitant and in part limiting conditions, appear in changeable forms.

Thus the will of every man has an empirical character, which is nothing but a certain causality of his reason, so far as that causality exhibits, in its effects in the [field of] appearance, a rule from which we may gather what, in their kind and degrees, are the actions of reason and the grounds thereof, and so may form an estimate concerning the subjective principles of his will. Since this empirical character must itself be discovered from the appearances which are its effect and from the rule to which experience shows them to conform, it follows that all the actions of men in the [field of] appearance are determined in conformity with the order of nature, by their empirical character and by the other causes which co-moderate with that character; and if we could exhaustively investigate all the appearances of men's wills, there would not be found a single human action which we could not predict with certainty, and recognize as proceeding necessarily from its antecedent conditions. So far, then, as regards this empirical character there is no freedom; and yet it is only in the light of this character that man can be studied -- if, that is to say, we are simply observing, and in the manner of anthropology seeking to institute a physiological investigation into the motive causes of his actions.

But when we consider these actions in their relation to reason -- I do not mean speculative reason, by which we endeavour to explain their coming into being, but reason in so far as it is itself the cause producing them -- if, that is to say, we compare them with [the standards of] reason in its practical bearing, we find a rule and order altogether different from the order of nature. For it may be that all that has happened in the course of nature, and in accordance with its empirical grounds must inevitably have happened, ought not to have happened. Sometimes, however, we find, or at least believe that we find, that the ideas of reason have in actual fact proved their causality in respect of the actions of men, as appearances; and that these actions have taken place, not because they were [475] determined by empirical causes, but because they were determined by grounds of reason.

Granted, then, that reason may be asserted to have causality in respect of appearance, its action can still be said to be free, even although its empirical character (as a mode of sense) is completely and necessarily determined in all its detail. This empirical character is itself determined in the intelligible character (as a mode of thought). The latter, however, we do not know; we can only indicate its nature by means of appearances; and these really yield an immediate knowledge only of the mode of sense, the empirical character.{5} The action, in so far as it can be ascribed to a mode of thought as its cause, does not follow therefrom in accordance with empirical laws; that is to say, it is not preceded by the conditions of pure reason, but only by their effects in the [field of] appearance of inner sense. Pure reason, as a purely intelligible faculty, is not subject to the form of time, nor consequently to the conditions of succession in time. The causality of reason in its intelligible character does not, in producing an effect, arise or begin to be at a certain time. For in that case it would itself be subject to the natural law of appearances, in accordance with which causal series are determined in time; and its causality would then be nature, not freedom. Thus all that we are justified in saying is that, if reason can have causality in respect of appearances, it is a faculty through which the sensible condition of an empirical series of effects first begins. For the condition which lies in reason is not sensible, and therefore does not itself begin to be. And thus what we failed to find in any empirical series is disclosed as being possible, namely, that the condition of a successive series of events may itself be empirically unconditioned. [476] For here the condition is outside the series of appearances (in the intelligible), and therefore is not subject to any sensible condition, and to no time-determination through an antecedent cause.

The same cause does, indeed, in another relation, belong to the series of appearances. Man is himself an appearance. His will has an empirical character, which is the empirical cause of all his actions. There is no condition determining man in accordance with this character which is not contained in the series of natural effects, or which is not subject to their law -- the law according to which there can be no empirically unconditioned causality of that which happens in time. Therefore no given action (since it can be perceived only as appearance) can begin absolutely of itself. But of pure reason we cannot say that the state wherein the will is determined is preceded and itself determined by some other state. For since reason is not itself an appearance, and is not subject to any conditions of sensibility, it follows that even as regards its causality there is in it no time-sequence, and that the dynamical law of nature, which determines succession in time in accordance with rules, is not applicable to it.

Reason is the abiding condition of all those actions of the will under [the guise of] which man appears. Before ever they have happened, they are one and all predetermined in the empirical character. In respect of the intelligible character, of which the empirical character is the sensible schema, there can be no before and after; every action, irrespective of its relation in time to other appearances, is the immediate effect of the intelligible character of pure reason. Reason therefore acts freely; it is not dynamically determined in the chain of natural causes through either outer or inner grounds antecedent in time. This freedom ought not, therefore, to be conceived only negatively as independence of empirical conditions. The faculty of reason, so regarded, would cease to be a cause of 5852)appearances. It must also be described in positive terms, as the power of originating a series of events. In reason itself nothing begins; as unconditioned condition of every voluntary act, it admits of no conditions antecedent to itself in time. Its effect has, indeed, a beginning in the series of appearances, but never in this series an absolutely first beginning. [477]

In order to illustrate this regulative principle of reason by an example of its empirical employment -- not, however, to confirm it, for it is useless to endeavour to prove transcendental propositions by examples -- let us take a voluntary action, for example, a malicious lie by which a certain confusion has been caused in society. First of all, we endeavour to discover the motives to which it has been due, and then, secondly, in the light of these, we proceed to determine how far the action and its consequences can be imputed to the offender. As regards the first question, we trace the empirical character of the action to its sources, finding these in defective education, bad company, in part also in the viciousness of a natural disposition insensitive to shame, in levity and thoughtlessness, not neglecting to take into account also the occasional causes that may have intervened. We proceed in this enquiry just as we should in ascertaining for a given natural effect the series of its determining causes. But although we believe that the action is thus determined, we none the less blame the agent, not indeed on account of his unhappy disposition, nor on account of the circumstances that have influenced him, nor even on account of his previous way of life; for we presuppose that we can leave out of consideration what this way of life may have been, that we can regard the past series of conditions as not having occurred and the act as being completely unconditioned by any preceding state, just as if the agent in and by himself began in this action an entirely new series of consequences. Our blame is based on a law of reason whereby we regard reason as a cause that irrespective of all the above-mentioned empirical conditions could have determined, and ought to have determined, the agent to act otherwise. This causality of reason we do not regard as only a co-operating agency, but as complete in itself, even when the sensuous impulses do not favor but are directly opposed to it; the action is ascribed to the agent's intelligible character; in the moment when he utters the lie, the guilt is entirely his. Reason, irrespective of all empirical conditions of the act, is completely free, and the lie is entirely due to its default.

Such imputation clearly shows that we consider reason to be unaffected by these sensible influences, and not liable to alteration. Its appearances -- the modes in which it manifests [478] itself in its effects -- do alter; but in itself [so we consider] there is no preceding state determining the state that follows. That is to say, it does not belong to the series of sensible conditions which render appearances necessary in accordance with laws of nature. Reason is present in all the actions of men at all times and under all circumstances, and is always the same; but it is not itself in time, and does not fall into any new state in which it was not before. In respect to new states, it is determining, not determinable. We may not, therefore, ask why reason has not determined itself differently, but only why it has not through its causality determined the appearances differently. But to this question no answer is possible. For a different intelligible character would have given a different empirical character. When we say that in spite of his whole previous course of life the agent could have refrained from lying, this only means that the act is under the immediate power of reason, and that reason in its causality is not subject to any conditions of appearance or of time. Although difference of time makes a fundamental difference to appearances in their relations to one another -- for appearances are not things in themselves and therefore not causes in themselves -- it can make no difference to the relation in which the action stands to reason.

Thus in our judgments in regard to the causality of free actions, we can get as far as the intelligible cause, but not beyond it. We can know that it is free, that is, that it is determined independently of sensibility, and that in this way it may be the sensibly unconditioned condition of appearances. But to explain why in the given circumstances the intelligible character should give just these appearances and this empirical character transcends all the powers of our reason, indeed all its rights of questioning, just as if we were to ask why the transcendental object of our outer sensible intuition gives intuition in space only and not some other mode of intuition. But the problem which we have to solve does not require us to raise any such questions. Our problem was this only: whether freedom and natural necessity can exist without conflict in one and the same action; and this we have sufficiently answered. We have shown that since freedom may stand in relation to a quite different kind of conditions from those of natural necessity, the law of the latter does not affect the former, and that both [479] may exist, independently of one another and without interfering with each other.

* * *

The reader should be careful to observe that in what has been said our intention has not been to establish the reality of freedom as one of the faculties which contain the cause of the appearances of our sensible world. For that enquiry, as it does not deal with concepts alone, would not have been transcendental. And further, it could not have been successful, since we can never infer from experience anything which cannot be thought in accordance with the laws of experience. It has not even been our intention to prove the possibility of freedom. For in this also we should not have succeeded, since we cannot from mere concepts a priori know the possibility of any real ground and its causality. Freedom is here being treated only as a transcendental idea whereby reason is led to think that it can begin the series of conditions in the [field of] appearance by means of the sensibly unconditioned, and so becomes involved in an antinomy with those very laws which it itself prescribes to the empirical employment of the understanding. What we have alone been able to show, and what we have alone been concerned to show, is that this antinomy rests on a sheer illusion, and that causality through freedom is at least not incompatible with nature.


Solution of the Cosmological Idea of the Totality of the Dependence of Appearances as regards their Existence in general

In the preceding subsection we have considered the changes of the sensible world in so far as they form a dynamical series, each member being subordinate to another as effect to cause. We shall now employ this series of states merely to guide us in our search for an existence that may serve as the supreme condition of all that is alterable, that is, in our search for necessary being. We are concerned here, not with unconditioned causality, but with the unconditioned existence of substance itself. The series which we have in [480] view is, therefore, really a series of concepts, not a series of intuitions in which one intuition is the condition of the other.

But it is evident that since everything in the sum-total of appearances is alterable, and therefore conditioned in its existence, there cannot be in the whole series of dependent existence any unconditioned member the existence of which can be regarded as absolutely necessary. Hence, if appearances were things in themselves, and if, as would then follow, the condition and the conditioned always belonged to one and the same series of intuitions, by no possibility could a necessary being exist as the condition of the existence of appearances in the world of sense.

The dynamical regress is distinguished in an important respect from the mathematical. Since the mathematical regress is concerned only with the combining of parts to form a whole, or the division of a whole into parts, the conditions of this series must always be regarded as parts of the series, and therefore as homogeneous and as appearances. In the dynamical regress, on the other hand, we are concerned, not with the possibility of an unconditioned whole of given parts, or with an unconditioned part for a given whole, but with the derivation of a state from its cause, or of the contingent existence of substance itself from necessary existence. In this latter regress, it is not, therefore, necessary that the condition should form part of an empirical series along with the conditioned.

A way of escape from this apparent antinomy thus lies open to us. Both of the conflicting propositions may be true, if taken in different connections. All things in the world of sense may be contingent, and so have only an empirically conditioned existence, while yet there may be a non-empirical condition of the whole series; that is, there may exist an unconditionally necessary being. This necessary being, as the intelligible condition of the series, would not belong to it as a member, not even as the highest member of it, nor would it render any member of the series empirically unconditioned. The whole sensible world, so far as regards the empirically conditioned existence of all its various members, would be left unaffected. This way of conceiving how an unconditioned [481] being may serve as the ground of appearance differs from that which we followed in the preceding subsection, in dealing with the empirically unconditioned causality of freedom. For there the thing itself was as cause (substantia phaenomenon) conceived to belong to the series of conditions, and only its causality was thought as intelligible. Here, on the other hand, the necessary being must be thought as entirely outside the series of the sensible world (as ens extramundanum), and as purely intelligible. In no other way can it be secured against the law which renders all appearances contingent and dependent.

The regulative principle of reason, so far as it bears upon our present problem, is therefore this, that everything in the sensible world has an empirically conditioned existence, and that in no one of its qualities can it be unconditionally necessary; that for every member in the series of conditions we must expect, and as far as possible seek, an empirical condition in some possible experience; and that nothing justifies us in deriving an existence from a condition outside the empirical series or even in regarding it in its place within the series as absolutely independent and self-sufficient. At the same time this principle does not in any way debar us from recognizing that the whole series may rest upon some intelligible being that is free from all empirical conditions and itself contains the ground of the possibility of all appearances.

In these remarks we have no intention of proving the unconditionally necessary existence of such a being, or even of establishing the possibility of a purely intelligible condition of the existence of appearances in the sensible world. Just as, on the one hand, we limit reason, lest in leaving the guiding thread of the empirical conditions it should go straying into the transcendent, adopting grounds of explanation that are incapable of any representation in concreto, so, on the other hand, we limit the law of the purely empirical employment of the understanding, lest it should presume to decide as to the possibility of things in general, and should declare the intelligible to be impossible, merely on the ground that it is not of any use in explaining appearances. Thus all that we have shown is that the thoroughgoing contingency of all natural things, and of all their empirical conditions, is quite [482] consistent with the optional assumption of a necessary, though purely intelligible, condition; and that as there is no real contradiction between the two assertions, both may be true. Such an absolutely necessary being, as conceived by the understanding, may be in itself impossible, but this can in no wise be inferred from the universal contingency and dependence of everything belonging to the sensible world, nor from the principle which interdicts us from stopping at any one of its contingent members and from appealing to a cause outside the world. Reason proceeds by one path in its empirical use, and by yet another path in its transcendental use.

The sensible world contains nothing but appearances, and these are mere representations which are always sensibly conditioned; in this field things in themselves are never objects to us. It is not therefore surprising that in dealing with a member of the empirical series, no matter what member it may be, we are never justified in making a leap out beyond the context of sensibility. To do so is to treat the appearances as if they were things in themselves which exist apart from their transcendental ground, and which can remain standing while we seek an outside cause of their existence. This certainly would ultimately be the case with contingent things, but not with mere representations of things, the contingency of which is itself merely phenomenon, and can lead to no other regress than that which determines the phenomena, that is, solely to the empirical regress. On the other hand, to think an intelligible ground of the appearances, that is, of the sensible world, and to think it as free from the contingency of appearances, does not conflict either with the unlimited empirical regress in the series of appearances nor with their thoroughgoing contingency. That, indeed, is all that we had to do in order to remove the apparent antinomy; and it can be done in this way only. If for everything conditioned in its existence the condition is always sensible, and therefore belongs to the series, it must itself in turn be conditioned, as we have shown in the antithesis of the fourth antinomy. Either, therefore, reason through its demand for the unconditioned must remain in conflict with itself, or this unconditioned must be posited outside the series, in the intelligible. Its necessity will not then [483] require, or allow of, any empirical condition; so far as appearances are concerned, it will be unconditionally necessary.

The empirical employment of reason, in reference to the conditions of existence in the sensible world, is not affected by the admission of a purely intelligible being; it proceeds, in accordance with the principle of thoroughgoing contingency, from empirical conditions to higher conditions which are always again empirical. But it is no less true, when what we have in view is the pure employment of reason, in reference to ends, that this regulative principle does not exclude the assumption of an intelligible cause which is not in the series. For the intelligible cause then signifies only the purely transcendental and to us unknown ground of the possibility of the sensible series in general. Its existence as independent of all sensible conditions and as in respect of these conditions unconditionally necessary, is not inconsistent with the unlimited contingency of appearances, that is to say, with the never ending regress in the series of empirical conditions.

Concluding Note on the whole Antinomy of Pure Reason.

So long as reason, in its concepts, has in view simply the totality of conditions in the sensible world, and is considering what satisfaction in this regard it can obtain for them, our ideas are at once transcendental and cosmological. Immediately, however, the unconditioned (and it is with this that we are really concerned) is posited in that which lies entirely outside the sensible world, and therefore outside all possible experience, the ideas become transcendent. They then no longer serve only for the completion of the empirical employment of reason -- an idea [of completeness] which must always be pursued, though it can never be completely achieved. On the contrary, they detach themselves completely from experience, and make for themselves objects for which experience supplies no material, and whose objective reality is not based on completion of the empirical series but on pure a priori concepts. Such transcendent ideas have a purely intelligible object; and this object may indeed be admitted as a transcendental object, but only if we likewise admit that, for the rest, we have no know[484] ledge in regard to it, and that it cannot be thought as a determinate thing in terms of distinctive inner predicates. As it is independent of all empirical concepts, we are cut off from any reasons that could establish the possibility of such an object, and have not the least justification for assuming it. It is a mere thought-entity. Nevertheless the cosmological idea which has given rise to the fourth antinomy impels us to take this step. For the existence of appearances, which is never self-grounded but always conditioned, requires us to look around for something different from all appearances, that is, for an intelligible object in which this contingency may terminate. But once we have allowed ourselves to assume a self-subsistent reality entirely outside the field of sensibility, appearances can only be viewed as contingent modes whereby beings that are themselves intelligences represent intelligible objects. Consequently, the only resource remaining to us is the use of analogy, by which we employ the concepts of experience in order to form some sort of concept of intelligible things -- things of which as they are in themselves we have yet not the least knowledge. Since the contingent is not to be known save through experience, and we are here concerned with things which are not to be in any way objects of experience, we must derive the knowledge of them from that which is in itself necessary, that is, from pure concepts of things in general. Thus the very first step which we take beyond the world of sense obliges us, in seeking for such new knowledge, to begin with an enquiry into absolutely necessary being, and to derive from the concepts of it the concepts of all things in so far as they are purely intelligible. This we propose to do in the next chapter.

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{1} I have also, elsewhere, sometimes entitled it formal idealism, to distinguish it from material idealism, that is, from the usual type of idealism which doubts or denies the existence of outer things themselves. [Back]

{2} This cosmic series can, therefore, be neither greater nor smaller than the possible empirical regress upon which alone its concept rests. And since this regress can yield neither a determinate infinite nor a determinate finite (that is, anything absolutely limited), it is evident that the magnitude of the world can be taken neither as finite nor as infinite. The regress, through which it is represented, allows of neither alternative. [Back]

{3} It may be noted that this proof is presented in a very different manner from the dogmatic proof of the antithesis of the first antinomy. In that argument we regarded the sensible world, in accordance with the common and dogmatic view, as a thing given in itself, in its totality, prior to any regress; and we asserted that unless it occupies all time and all places, it cannot have any determinate position whatsoever in them. The conclusion also was therefore different from that given above; for in the dogmatic proof we inferred the actual infinity of the world. [Back]

{4} Understanding does not admit among appearances any condition which can itself be empirically unconditioned. But if for some conditioned in the [field of] appearance we can conceive an intelligible condition, not belonging to the series of appearances as one of its members, and can do so without in the least interrupting the series of empirical conditions, such a condition may be accepted as empirically unconditioned, without prejudice to the continuity of the empirical regress. [Back]

{5} The real morality of actions, their merit or guilt, even that of our own conduct, thus remains entirely hidden from us. Our imputations can refer only to the empirical character. How much of this character is ascribable to the pure effect of freedom, how much to mere nature, that is, to faults of temperament for which there is no responsibility, or to its happy constitution (merito fortunae), can never be determined; and upon it therefore no perfectly just judgments can be passed. [Back]

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