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The Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant

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The former imposes upon understanding the difficulty of seeking the
origin of events ever higher and higher in the series of causes,
inasmuch as causality is always conditioned thereby; while it
compensates this labour by the guarantee of a unity complete and in
conformity with law. The latter, on the contrary, holds out to the
understanding the promise of a point of rest in the chain of causes,
by conducting it to an unconditioned causality, which professes to
have the power of spontaneous origination, but which, in its own utter
blindness, deprives it of the guidance of rules, by which alone a
completely connected experience is possible.



The transcendental idea of freedom is far from constituting the
entire content of the psychological conception so termed, which is
for the most part empirical. It merely presents us with the conception
of spontaneity of action, as the proper ground for imputing freedom
to the cause of a certain class of objects. It is, however, the true
stumbling-stone to philosophy, which meets with unconquerable
difficulties in the way of its admitting this kind of unconditioned
causality. That element in the question of the freedom of the will,
which has for so long a time placed speculative reason in such
perplexity, is properly only transcendental, and concerns the
question, whether there must be held to exist a faculty of spontaneous
origination of a series of successive things or states. How such a
faculty is possible is not a necessary inquiry; for in the case of
natural causality itself, we are obliged to content ourselves with
the a priori knowledge that such a causality must be presupposed, although
we are quite incapable of comprehending how the being of one thing
is possible through the being of another, but must for this
information look entirely to experience. Now we have demonstrated this
necessity of a free first beginning of a series of phenomena, only
in so far as it is required for the comprehension of an origin of
the world, all following states being regarded as a succession
according to laws of nature alone. But, as there has thus been
proved the existence of a faculty which can of itself originate a
series in time--although we are unable to explain how it can exist--we
feel ourselves authorized to admit, even in the midst of the natural
course of events, a beginning, as regards causality, of different
successions of phenomena, and at the same time to attribute to all
substances a faculty of free action. But we ought in this case not
to allow ourselves to fall into a common misunderstanding, and to
suppose that, because a successive series in the world can only have
a comparatively first beginning--another state or condition of things
always preceding--an absolutely first beginning of a series in the
course of nature is impossible. For we are not speaking here of an
absolutely first beginning in relation to time, but as regards
causality alone. When, for example, I, completely of my own free will,
and independently of the necessarily determinative influence of
natural causes, rise from my chair, there commences with this event,
including its material consequences in infinitum, an absolutely new
series; although, in relation to time, this event is merely the
continuation of a preceding series. For this resolution and act of
mine do not form part of the succession of effects in nature, and
are not mere continuations of it; on the contrary, the determining
causes of nature cease to operate in reference to this event, which
certainly succeeds the acts of nature, but does not proceed from them.
For these reasons, the action of a free agent must be termed, in
regard to causality, if not in relation to time, an absolutely
primal beginning of a series of phenomena.

The justification of this need of reason to rest upon a free act
as the first beginning of the series of natural causes is evident from
the fact, that all philosophers of antiquity (with the exception of
the Epicurean school) felt themselves obliged, when constructing a
theory of the motions of the universe, to accept a prime mover, that
is, a freely acting cause, which spontaneously and prior to all
other causes evolved this series of states. They always felt the
need of going beyond mere nature, for the purpose of making a first
beginning comprehensible.


The assertor of the all-sufficiency of nature in regard to causality
(transcendental Physiocracy), in opposition to the doctrine of
freedom, would defend his view of the question somewhat in the
following manner. He would say, in answer to the sophistical arguments
of the opposite party: If you do not accept a mathematical first, in
relation to time, you have no need to seek a dynamical first, in
regard to causality. Who compelled you to imagine an absolutely primal
condition of the world, and therewith an absolute beginning of the
gradually progressing successions of phenomena--and, as some
foundation for this fancy of yours, to set bounds to unlimited nature?
Inasmuch as the substances in the world have always existed--at
least the unity of experience renders such a supposition quite
necessary--there is no difficulty in believing also, that the
changes in the conditions of these substances have always existed;
and, consequently, that a first beginning, mathematical or
dynamical, is by no means required. The possibility of such an
infinite derivation, without any initial member from which all the
others result, is certainly quite incomprehensible. But, if you are
rash enough to deny the enigmatical secrets of nature for this reason,
you will find yourselves obliged to deny also the existence of many
fundamental properties of natural objects (such as fundamental
forces), which you can just as little comprehend; and even the
possibility of so simple a conception as that of change must present
to you insuperable difficulties. For if experience did not teach you
that it was real, you never could conceive a priori the possibility
of this ceaseless sequence of being and non-being.

But if the existence of a transcendental faculty of freedom is
granted--a faculty of originating changes in the world--this faculty
must at least exist out of and apart from the world; although it is
certainly a bold assumption, that, over and above the complete content
of all possible intuitions, there still exists an object which
cannot be presented in any possible perception. But, to attribute to
substances in the world itself such a faculty, is quite
inadmissible; for, in this case; the connection of phenomena
reciprocally determining and determined according to general laws,
which is termed nature, and along with it the criteria of empirical
truth, which enable us to distinguish experience from mere visionary
dreaming, would almost entirely disappear. In proximity with such a
lawless faculty of freedom, a system of nature is hardly cogitable;
for the laws of the latter would be continually subject to the
intrusive influences of the former, and the course of phenomena, which
would otherwise proceed regularly and uniformly, would become
thereby confused and disconnected.



There exists either in, or in connection with the world--either as
a part of it, or as the cause of it--an absolutely necessary being.


The world of sense, as the sum total of all phenomena, contains a
series of changes. For, without such a series, the mental
representation of the series of time itself, as the condition of the
possibility of the sensuous world, could not be presented to us.*
But every change stands under its condition, which precedes it in time
and renders it necessary. Now the existence of a given condition
presupposes a complete series of conditions up to the absolutely
unconditioned, which alone is absolutely necessary. It follows that
something that is absolutely necessary must exist, if change exists
as its consequence. But this necessary thing itself belongs to the
sensuous world. For suppose it to exist out of and apart from it,
the series of cosmical changes would receive from it a beginning,
and yet this necessary cause would not itself belong to the world of
sense. But this is impossible. For, as the beginning of a series in
time is determined only by that which precedes it in time, the supreme
condition of the beginning of a series of changes must exist in the
time in which this series itself did not exist; for a beginning
supposes a time preceding, in which the thing that begins to be was
not in existence. The causality of the necessary cause of changes,
and consequently the cause itself, must for these reasons belong to
time--and to phenomena, time being possible only as the form of
phenomena. Consequently, it cannot be cogitated as separated from
the world of sense--the sum total of all phenomena. There is,
therefore, contained in the world, something that is absolutely
necessary--whether it be the whole cosmical series itself, or only
a part of it.

[*Footnote: Objectively, time, as the formal condition of the possibility
of change, precedes all changes; but subjectively, and in
consciousness, the representation of time, like every other, is
given solely by occasion of perception.]


An absolutely necessary being does not exist, either in the world,
or out of it--as its cause.


Grant that either the world itself is necessary, or that there is
contained in it a necessary existence. Two cases are possible.
First, there must either be in the series of cosmical changes a
beginning, which is unconditionally necessary, and therefore uncaused-
which is at variance with the dynamical law of the determination of
all phenomena in time; or, secondly, the series itself is without
beginning, and, although contingent and conditioned in all its
parts, is nevertheless absolutely necessary and unconditioned as a
whole--which is self-contradictory. For the existence of an
aggregate cannot be necessary, if no single part of it possesses
necessary existence.

Grant, on the other band, that an absolutely necessary cause
exists out of and apart from the world. This cause, as the highest
member in the series of the causes of cosmical changes, must originate
or begin* the existence of the latter and their series. In this case
it must also begin to act, and its causality would therefore belong
to time, and consequently to the sum total of phenomena, that is, to
the world. It follows that the cause cannot be out of the world; which
is contradictory to the hypothesis. Therefore, neither in the world,
nor out of it (but in causal connection with it), does there exist
any absolutely necessary being.

[*Footnote: The word begin is taken in two senses. The first is active--
the cause being regarded as beginning a series of conditions as its
effect (infit). The second is passive--the causality in the cause itself
beginning to operate (fit). I reason here from the first to the second.]



To demonstrate the existence of a necessary being, I cannot be
permitted in this place to employ any other than the cosmological
argument, which ascends from the conditioned in phenomena to the
unconditioned in conception--the unconditioned being considered the
necessary condition of the absolute totality of the series. The proof,
from the mere idea of a supreme being, belongs to another principle
of reason and requires separate discussion.

The pure cosmological proof demonstrates the existence of a
necessary being, but at the same time leaves it quite unsettled,
whether this being is the world itself, or quite distinct from it.
To establish the truth of the latter view, principles are requisite,
which are not cosmological and do not proceed in the series of
phenomena. We should require to introduce into our proof conceptions
of contingent beings--regarded merely as objects of the understanding,
and also a principle which enables us to connect these, by means of
mere conceptions, with a necessary being. But the proper place for
all such arguments is a transcendent philosophy, which has unhappily
not yet been established.

But, if we begin our proof cosmologically, by laying at the
foundation of it the series of phenomena, and the regress in it
according to empirical laws of causality, we are not at liberty to
break off from this mode of demonstration and to pass over to
something which is not itself a member of the series. The condition
must be taken in exactly the same signification as the relation of
the conditioned to its condition in the series has been taken, for
the series must conduct us in an unbroken regress to this supreme
condition. But if this relation is sensuous, and belongs to the
possible empirical employment of understanding, the supreme
condition or cause must close the regressive series according to the
laws of sensibility and consequently, must belong to the series of
time. It follows that this necessary existence must be regarded as
the highest member of the cosmical series.

Certain philosophers have, nevertheless, allowed themselves the
liberty of making such a saltus (metabasis eis allo gonos). From the
changes in the world they have concluded their empirical
contingency, that is, their dependence on empirically-determined
causes, and they thus admitted an ascending series of empirical
conditions: and in this they are quite right. But as they could not
find in this series any primal beginning or any highest member, they
passed suddenly from the empirical conception of contingency to the
pure category, which presents us with a series--not sensuous, but
intellectual--whose completeness does certainly rest upon the
existence of an absolutely necessary cause. Nay, more, this
intellectual series is not tied to any sensuous conditions; and is
therefore free from the condition of time, which requires it
spontaneously to begin its causality in time. But such a procedure
is perfectly inadmissible, as will be made plain from what follows.

In the pure sense of the categories, that is contingent the
contradictory opposite of which is possible. Now we cannot reason from
empirical contingency to intellectual. The opposite of that which is
changed--the opposite of its state--is actual at another time, and
is therefore possible. Consequently, it is not the contradictory
opposite of the former state. To be that, it is necessary that, in
the same time in which the preceding state existed, its opposite could
have existed in its place; but such a cognition is not given us in
the mere phenomenon of change. A body that was in motion = A, comes
into a state of rest = non-A. Now it cannot be concluded from the fact
that a state opposite to the state A follows it, that the contradictory
opposite of A is possible; and that A is therefore contingent. To
prove this, we should require to know that the state of rest could
have existed in the very same time in which the motion took place.
Now we know nothing more than that the state of rest was actual in
the time that followed the state of motion; consequently, that it was
also possible. But motion at one time, and rest at another time, are
not contradictorily opposed to each other. It follows from what has
been said that the succession of opposite determinations, that is,
change, does not demonstrate the fact of contingency as represented
in the conceptions of the pure understanding; and that it cannot,
therefore, conduct us to the fact of the existence of a necessary
being. Change proves merely empirical contingency, that is to say,
that the new state could not have existed without a cause, which
belongs to the preceding time. This cause--even although it is
regarded as absolutely necessary--must be presented to us in time,
and must belong to the series of phenomena.


The difficulties which meet us, in our attempt to rise through the
series of phenomena to the existence of an absolutely necessary
supreme cause, must not originate from our inability to establish
the truth of our mere conceptions of the necessary existence of a
thing. That is to say, our objections not be ontological, but must
be directed against the causal connection with a series of phenomena
of a condition which is itself unconditioned. In one word, they must
be cosmological and relate to empirical laws. We must show that the
regress in the series of causes (in the world of sense) cannot
conclude with an empirically unconditioned condition, and that the
cosmological argument from the contingency of the cosmical state--a
contingency alleged to arise from change--does not justify us in
accepting a first cause, that is, a prime originator of the cosmical

The reader will observe in this antinomy a very remarkable contrast.
The very same grounds of proof which established in the thesis the
existence of a supreme being, demonstrated in the antithesis--and with
equal strictness--the non-existence of such a being. We found,
first, that a necessary being exists, because the whole time past
contains the series of all conditions, and with it, therefore, the
unconditioned (the necessary); secondly, that there does not exist
any necessary being, for the same reason, that the whole time past
contains the series of all conditions--which are themselves,
therefore, in the aggregate, conditioned. The cause of this seeming
incongruity is as follows. We attend, in the first argument, solely
to the absolute totality of the series of conditions, the one of which
determines the other in time, and thus arrive at a necessary
unconditioned. In the second, we consider, on the contrary, the
contingency of everything that is determined in the series of time-
for every event is preceded by a time, in which the condition itself
must be determined as conditioned--and thus everything that is
unconditioned or absolutely necessary disappears. In both, the mode
of proof is quite in accordance with the common procedure of human
reason, which often falls into discord with itself, from considering
an object from two different points of view. Herr von Mairan
regarded the controversy between two celebrated astronomers, which
arose from a similar difficulty as to the choice of a proper
standpoint, as a phenomenon of sufficient importance to warrant a
separate treatise on the subject. The one concluded: the moon revolves
on its own axis, because it constantly presents the same side to the
earth; the other declared that the moon does not revolve on its own
axis, for the same reason. Both conclusions were perfectly correct,
according to the point of view from which the motions of the moon were

SECTION III. Of the Interest of Reason in these Self-contradictions.

We have thus completely before us the dialectical procedure of the
cosmological ideas. No possible experience can present us with an
object adequate to them in extent. Nay, more, reason itself cannot
cogitate them as according with the general laws of experience. And
yet they are not arbitrary fictions of thought. On the contrary,
reason, in its uninterrupted progress in the empirical synthesis, is
necessarily conducted to them, when it endeavours to free from all
conditions and to comprehend in its unconditioned totality that
which can only be determined conditionally in accordance with the laws
of experience. These dialectical propositions are so many attempts
to solve four natural and unavoidable problems of reason. There are
neither more, nor can there be less, than this number, because there
are no other series of synthetical hypotheses, limiting a priori the
empirical synthesis.

The brilliant claims of reason striving to extend its dominion
beyond the limits of experience, have been represented above only in
dry formulae, which contain merely the grounds of its pretensions.
They have, besides, in conformity with the character of a
transcendental philosophy, been freed from every empirical element;
although the full splendour of the promises they hold out, and the
anticipations they excite, manifests itself only when in connection
with empirical cognitions. In the application of them, however, and
in the advancing enlargement of the employment of reason, while
struggling to rise from the region of experience and to soar to
those sublime ideas, philosophy discovers a value and a dignity,
which, if it could but make good its assertions, would raise it far
above all other departments of human knowledge--professing, as it
does, to present a sure foundation for our highest hopes and the
ultimate aims of all the exertions of reason. The questions: whether
the world has a beginning and a limit to its extension in space;
whether there exists anywhere, or perhaps, in my own thinking Self,
an indivisible and indestructible unity--or whether nothing but what
is divisible and transitory exists; whether I am a free agent, or,
like other beings, am bound in the chains of nature and fate; whether,
finally, there is a supreme cause of the world, or all our thought
and speculation must end with nature and the order of external things--are
questions for the solution of which the mathematician would
willingly exchange his whole science; for in it there is no
satisfaction for the highest aspirations and most ardent desires of
humanity. Nay, it may even be said that the true value of mathematics-
that pride of human reason--consists in this: that she guides reason
to the knowledge of nature--in her greater as well as in her less
manifestations--in her beautiful order and regularity--guides her,
moreover, to an insight into the wonderful unity of the moving
forces in the operations of nature, far beyond the expectations of
a philosophy building only on experience; and that she thus encourages
philosophy to extend the province of reason beyond all experience,
and at the same time provides it with the most excellent materials
for supporting its investigations, in so far as their nature admits,
by adequate and accordant intuitions.

Unfortunately for speculation--but perhaps fortunately for the
practical interests of humanity--reason, in the midst of her highest
anticipations, finds herself hemmed in by a press of opposite and
contradictory conclusions, from which neither her honour nor her
safety will permit her to draw back. Nor can she regard these
conflicting trains of reasoning with indifference as mere passages
at arms, still less can she command peace; for in the subject of the
conflict she has a deep interest. There is no other course left open
to her than to reflect with herself upon the origin of this disunion
in reason--whether it may not arise from a mere misunderstanding.
After such an inquiry, arrogant claims would have to be given up on
both sides; but the sovereignty of reason over understanding and sense
would be based upon a sure foundation.

We shall at present defer this radical inquiry and, in the meantime,
consider for a little what side in the controversy we should most
willingly take, if we were obliged to become partisans at all. As,
in this case, we leave out of sight altogether the logical criterion
of truth, and merely consult our own interest in reference to the
question, these considerations, although inadequate to settle the
question of right in either party, will enable us to comprehend how
those who have taken part in the struggle, adopt the one view rather
than the other--no special insight into the subject, however, having
influenced their choice. They will, at the same time, explain to us
many other things by the way--for example, the fiery zeal on the one
side and the cold maintenance of their cause on the other; why the
one party has met with the warmest approbations, and the other has
always been repulsed by irreconcilable prejudices.

There is one thing, however, that determines the proper point of
view, from which alone this preliminary inquiry can be instituted
and carried on with the proper completeness--and that is the
comparison of the principles from which both sides, thesis and
antithesis, proceed. My readers would remark in the propositions of
the antithesis a complete uniformity in the mode of thought and a
perfect unity of principle. Its principle was that of pure empiricism,
not only in the explication of the phenomena in the world, but also
in the solution of the transcendental ideas, even of that of the universe
itself. The affirmations of the thesis, on the contrary, were based,
in addition to the empirical mode of explanation employed in the
series of phenomena, on intellectual propositions; and its
principles were in so far not simple. I shall term the thesis, in view
of its essential characteristic, the dogmatism of pure reason.

On the side of Dogmatism, or of the thesis, therefore, in the
determination of the cosmological ideas, we find:

1. A practical interest, which must be very dear to every
right-thinking man. That the word has a beginning--that the nature
of my thinking self is simple, and therefore indestructible--that I
am a free agent, and raised above the compulsion of nature and her
laws--and, finally, that the entire order of things, which form the
world, is dependent upon a Supreme Being, from whom the whole receives
unity and connection--these are so many foundation-stones of
morality and religion. The antithesis deprives us of all these
supports--or, at least, seems so to deprive us.

2. A speculative interest of reason manifests itself on this side.
For, if we take the transcendental ideas and employ them in the manner
which the thesis directs, we can exhibit completely a priori the
entire chain of conditions, and understand the derivation of the
conditioned--beginning from the unconditioned. This the antithesis
does not do; and for this reason does not meet with so welcome a
reception. For it can give no answer to our question respecting the
conditions of its synthesis--except such as must be supplemented by
another question, and so on to infinity. According to it, we must rise
from a given beginning to one still higher; every part conducts us
to a still smaller one; every event is preceded by another event which
is its cause; and the conditions of existence rest always upon other
and still higher conditions, and find neither end nor basis in some
self-subsistent thing as the primal being.

3. This side has also the advantage of popularity; and this
constitutes no small part of its claim to favour. The common
understanding does not find the least difficulty in the idea of the
unconditioned beginning of all synthesis--accustomed, as it is, rather
to follow our consequences than to seek for a proper basis for
cognition. In the conception of an absolute first, moreover--the
possibility of which it does not inquire into--it is highly
gratified to find a firmly-established point of departure for its
attempts at theory; while in the restless and continuous ascent from
the conditioned to the condition, always with one foot in the air,
it can find no satisfaction.

On the side of the antithesis, or Empiricism, in the determination
of the cosmological ideas:

1. We cannot discover any such practical interest arising from
pure principles of reason as morality and religion present. On the
contrary, pure empiricism seems to empty them of all their power and
influence. If there does not exist a Supreme Being distinct from the
world--if the world is without beginning, consequently without a
Creator--if our wills are not free, and the soul is divisible and
subject to corruption just like matter--the ideas and principles of
morality lose all validity and fall with the transcendental ideas
which constituted their theoretical support.

2. But empiricism, in compensation, holds out to reason, in its
speculative interests, certain important advantages, far exceeding
any that the dogmatist can promise us. For, when employed by the
empiricist, understanding is always upon its proper ground of
investigation--the field of possible experience, the laws of which
it can explore, and thus extend its cognition securely and with
clear intelligence without being stopped by limits in any direction.
Here can it and ought it to find and present to intuition its proper
object--not only in itself, but in all its relations; or, if it employ
conceptions, upon this ground it can always present the
corresponding images in clear and unmistakable intuitions. It is quite
unnecessary for it to renounce the guidance of nature, to attach
itself to ideas, the objects of which it cannot know; because, as mere
intellectual entities, they cannot be presented in any intuition. On
the contrary, it is not even permitted to abandon its proper
occupation, under the pretence that it has been brought to a
conclusion (for it never can be), and to pass into the region of
idealizing reason and transcendent conceptions, which it is not
required to observe and explore the laws of nature, but merely to
think and to imagine--secure from being contradicted by facts, because
they have not been called as witnesses, but passed by, or perhaps
subordinated to the so-called higher interests and considerations of
pure reason.

Hence the empiricist will never allow himself to accept any epoch of
nature for the first--the absolutely primal state; he will not believe
that there can be limits to his outlook into her wide domains, nor
pass from the objects of nature, which he can satisfactorily explain
by means of observation and mathematical thought--which he can
determine synthetically in intuition, to those which neither sense
nor imagination can ever present in concreto; he will not concede the
existence of a faculty in nature, operating independently of the
laws of nature--a concession which would introduce uncertainty into
the procedure of the understanding, which is guided by necessary
laws to the observation of phenomena; nor, finally, will he permit
himself to seek a cause beyond nature, inasmuch as we know nothing
but it, and from it alone receive an objective basis for all our
conceptions and instruction in the unvarying laws of things.

In truth, if the empirical philosopher had no other purpose in the
establishment of his antithesis than to check the presumption of a
reason which mistakes its true destination, which boasts of its
insight and its knowledge, just where all insight and knowledge
cease to exist, and regards that which is valid only in relation to
a practical interest, as an advancement of the speculative interests
of the mind (in order, when it is convenient for itself, to break
the thread of our physical investigations, and, under pretence of
extending our cognition, connect them with transcendental ideas, by
means of which we really know only that we know nothing)--if, I say,
the empiricist rested satisfied with this benefit, the principle
advanced by him would be a maxim recommending moderation in the
pretensions of reason and modesty in its affirmations, and at the same
time would direct us to the right mode of extending the province of
the understanding, by the help of the only true teacher, experience.
In obedience to this advice, intellectual hypotheses and faith would
not be called in aid of our practical interests; nor should we
introduce them under the pompous titles of science and insight. For
speculative cognition cannot find an objective basis any other where
than in experience; and, when we overstep its limits our synthesis,
which requires ever new cognitions independent of experience, has no
substratum of intuition upon which to build.

But if--as often happens--empiricism, in relation to ideas,
becomes itself dogmatic and boldly denies that which is above the
sphere of its phenomenal cognition, it falls itself into the error
of intemperance--an error which is here all the more reprehensible,
as thereby the practical interest of reason receives an irreparable

And this constitutes the opposition between Epicureanism* and

[*Footnote: It is, however, still a matter of doubt whether Epicurus
ever propounded these principles as directions for the objective employment
of the understanding. If, indeed, they were nothing more than maxims
for the speculative exercise of reason, he gives evidence therein a
more genuine philosophic spirit than any of the philosophers of
antiquity. That, in the explanation of phenomena, we must proceed as
if the field of inquiry had neither limits in space nor commencement
in time; that we must be satisfied with the teaching of experience
in reference to the material of which the world is posed; that we must
not look for any other mode of the origination of events than that
which is determined by the unalterable laws of nature; and finally,
that we not employ the hypothesis of a cause distinct from the world
to account for a phenomenon or for the world itself--are principles
for the extension of speculative philosophy, and the discovery of
the true sources of the principles of morals, which, however little
conformed to in the present day, are undoubtedly correct. At the
same time, any one desirous of ignoring, in mere speculation, these
dogmatical propositions, need not for that reason be accused of
denying them.]

Both Epicurus and Plato assert more in their systems than they know.
The former encourages and advances science--although to the
prejudice of the practical; the latter presents us with excellent
principles for the investigation of the practical, but, in relation
to everything regarding which we can attain to speculative cognition,
permits reason to append idealistic explanations of natural phenomena,
to the great injury of physical investigation.

3. In regard to the third motive for the preliminary choice of a
party in this war of assertions, it seems very extraordinary that
empiricism should be utterly unpopular. We should be inclined to
believe that the common understanding would receive it with
pleasure--promising as it does to satisfy it without passing the
bounds of experience and its connected order; while transcendental
dogmatism obliges it to rise to conceptions which far surpass the
intelligence and ability of the most practised thinkers. But in
this, in truth, is to be found its real motive. For the common
understanding thus finds itself in a situation where not even the most
learned can have the advantage of it. If it understands little or
nothing about these transcendental conceptions, no one can boast of
understanding any more; and although it may not express itself in so
scholastically correct a manner as others, it can busy itself with
reasoning and arguments without end, wandering among mere ideas, about
which one can always be very eloquent, because we know nothing about
them; while, in the observation and investigation of nature, it
would be forced to remain dumb and to confess its utter ignorance.
Thus indolence and vanity form of themselves strong recommendations
of these principles. Besides, although it is a hard thing for a
philosopher to assume a principle, of which he can give to himself
no reasonable account, and still more to employ conceptions, the
objective reality of which cannot be established, nothing is more
usual with the common understanding. It wants something which will
allow it to go to work with confidence. The difficulty of even
comprehending a supposition does not disquiet it, because--not knowing
what comprehending means--it never even thinks of the supposition it
may be adopting as a principle; and regards as known that with which
it has become familiar from constant use. And, at last, all
speculative interests disappear before the practical interests which
it holds dear; and it fancies that it understands and knows what its
necessities and hopes incite it to assume or to believe. Thus the
empiricism of transcendentally idealizing reason is robbed of all
popularity; and, however prejudicial it may be to the highest
practical principles, there is no fear that it will ever pass the
limits of the schools, or acquire any favour or influence in society
or with the multitude.

Human reason is by nature architectonic. That is to say, it
regards all cognitions as parts of a possible system, and hence
accepts only such principles as at least do not incapacitate a
cognition to which we may have attained from being placed along with
others in a general system. But the propositions of the antithesis
are of a character which renders the completion of an edifice of
cognitions impossible. According to these, beyond one state or epoch
of the world there is always to be found one more ancient; in every
part always other parts themselves divisible; preceding every event
another, the origin of which must itself be sought still higher; and
everything in existence is conditioned, and still not dependent on
an unconditioned and primal existence. As, therefore, the antithesis
will not concede the existence of a first beginning which might be
available as a foundation, a complete edifice of cognition, in the
presence of such hypothesis, is utterly impossible. Thus the
architectonic interest of reason, which requires a unity--not
empirical, but a priori and rational--forms a natural recommendation
for the assertions of the thesis in our antinomy.

But if any one could free himself entirely from all considerations
of interest, and weigh without partiality the assertions of reason,
attending only to their content, irrespective of the consequences
which follow from them; such a person, on the supposition that he knew
no other way out of the confusion than to settle the truth of one or
other of the conflicting doctrines, would live in a state of continual
hesitation. Today, he would feel convinced that the human will is
free; to-morrow, considering the indissoluble chain of nature, he
would look on freedom as a mere illusion and declare nature to be
all-in-all. But, if he were called to action, the play of the merely
speculative reason would disappear like the shapes of a dream, and
practical interest would dictate his choice of principles. But, as
it well befits a reflective and inquiring being to devote certain
periods of time to the examination of its own reason--to divest itself
of all partiality, and frankly to communicate its observations for
the judgement and opinion of others; so no one can be blamed for, much
less prevented from, placing both parties on their trial, with
permission to end themselves, free from intimidation, before
intimidation, before a sworn jury of equal condition with
themselves--the condition of weak and fallible men.

SECTION IV. Of the necessity imposed upon Pure Reason of
presenting a Solution of its Transcendental Problems.

To avow an ability to solve all problems and to answer all questions
would be a profession certain to convict any philosopher of
extravagant boasting and self-conceit, and at once to destroy the
confidence that might otherwise have been reposed in him. There are,
however, sciences so constituted that every question arising within
their sphere must necessarily be capable of receiving an answer from
the knowledge already possessed, for the answer must be received
from the same sources whence the question arose. In such sciences it
is not allowable to excuse ourselves on the plea of necessary and
unavoidable ignorance; a solution is absolutely requisite. The rule
of right and wrong must help us to the knowledge of what is right or
wrong in all possible cases; otherwise, the idea of obligation or duty
would be utterly null, for we cannot have any obligation to that which
we cannot know. On the other hand, in our investigations of the
phenomena of nature, much must remain uncertain, and many questions
continue insoluble; because what we know of nature is far from being
sufficient to explain all the phenomena that are presented to our
observation. Now the question is: Whether there is in
transcendental philosophy any question, relating to an object
presented to pure reason, which is unanswerable by this reason; and
whether we must regard the subject of the question as quite uncertain,
so far as our knowledge extends, and must give it a place among
those subjects, of which we have just so much conception as is
sufficient to enable us to raise a question--faculty or materials
failing us, however, when we attempt an answer.

Now I maintain that, among all speculative cognition, the
peculiarity of transcendental philosophy is that there is no question,
relating to an object presented to pure reason, which is insoluble
by this reason; and that the profession of unavoidable ignorance-
the problem being alleged to be beyond the reach of our faculties-
cannot free us from the obligation to present a complete and
satisfactory answer. For the very conception which enables us to raise
the question must give us the power of answering it; inasmuch as the
object, as in the case of right and wrong, is not to be discovered
out of the conception.

But, in transcendental philosophy, it is only the cosmological
questions to which we can demand a satisfactory answer in relation
to the constitution of their object; and the philosopher is not
permitted to avail himself of the pretext of necessary ignorance and
impenetrable obscurity. These questions relate solely to the
cosmological ideas. For the object must be given in experience, and
the question relates to the adequateness of the object to an idea.
If the object is transcendental and therefore itself unknown; if the
question, for example, is whether the object--the something, the
phenomenon of which (internal--in ourselves) is thought--that is to
say, the soul, is in itself a simple being; or whether there is a
cause of all things, which is absolutely necessary--in such cases we
are seeking for our idea an object, of which we may confess that it
is unknown to us, though we must not on that account assert that it
is impossible.* The cosmological ideas alone posses the peculiarity
that we can presuppose the object of them and the empirical
synthesis requisite for the conception of that object to be given;
and the question, which arises from these ideas, relates merely to
the progress of this synthesis, in so far as it must contain absolute
totality--which, however, is not empirical, as it cannot be given in
any experience. Now, as the question here is solely in regard to a
thing as the object of a possible experience and not as a thing in
itself, the answer to the transcendental cosmological question need
not be sought out of the idea, for the question does not regard an
object in itself. The question in relation to a possible experience
is not, "What can be given in an experience in concreto" but "what
is contained in the idea, to which the empirical synthesis must
approximate." The question must therefore be capable of solution
from the idea alone. For the idea is a creation of reason itself,
which therefore cannot disclaim the obligation to answer or refer us
to the unknown object.

[*Footnote: The question, "What is the constitution of a transcendental
object?" is unanswerable--we are unable to say what it is; but we
can perceive that the question itself is nothing; because it does
not relate to any object that can be presented to us. For this reason,
we must consider all the questions raised in transcendental psychology
as answerable and as really answered; for they relate to the
transcendental subject of all internal phenomena, which is not
itself phenomenon and consequently not given as an object, in which,
moreover, none of the categories--and it is to them that the
question is properly directed--find any conditions of its application.
Here, therefore, is a case where no answer is the only proper
answer. For a question regarding the constitution of a something which
cannot be cogitated by any determined predicate, being completely
beyond the sphere of objects and experience, is perfectly null and

It is not so extraordinary, as it at first sight appears, that a
science should demand and expect satisfactory answers to all the
questions that may arise within its own sphere (questiones
domesticae), although, up to a certain time, these answers may not
have been discovered. There are, in addition to transcendental
philosophy, only two pure sciences of reason; the one with a
speculative, the other with a practical content--pure mathematics
and pure ethics. Has any one ever heard it alleged that, from our
complete and necessary ignorance of the conditions, it is uncertain
what exact relation the diameter of a circle bears to the circle in
rational or irrational numbers? By the former the sum cannot be
given exactly, by the latter only approximately; and therefore we
decide that the impossibility of a solution of the question is
evident. Lambert presented us with a demonstration of this. In the
general principles of morals there can be nothing uncertain, for the
propositions are either utterly without meaning, or must originate
solely in our rational conceptions. On the other hand, there must be
in physical science an infinite number of conjectures, which can never
become certainties; because the phenomena of nature are not given as
objects dependent on our conceptions. The key to the solution of
such questions cannot, therefore, be found in our conceptions, or in
pure thought, but must lie without us and for that reason is in many
cases not to be discovered; and consequently a satisfactory
explanation cannot be expected. The questions of transcendental
analytic, which relate to the deduction of our pure cognition, are
not to be regarded as of the same kind as those mentioned above; for
we are not at present treating of the certainty of judgements in relation
to the origin of our conceptions, but only of that certainty in
relation to objects.

We cannot, therefore, escape the responsibility of at least a
critical solution of the questions of reason, by complaints of the
limited nature of our faculties, and the seemingly humble confession
that it is beyond the power of our reason to decide, whether the world
has existed from all eternity or had a beginning--whether it is
infinitely extended, or enclosed within certain limits--whether
anything in the world is simple, or whether everything must be capable
of infinite divisibility--whether freedom can originate phenomena,
or whether everything is absolutely dependent on the laws and order
of nature--and, finally, whether there exists a being that is
completely unconditioned and necessary, or whether the existence of
everything is conditioned and consequently dependent on something
external to itself, and therefore in its own nature contingent. For
all these questions relate to an object, which can be given nowhere
else than in thought. This object is the absolutely unconditioned
totality of the synthesis of phenomena. If the conceptions in our
minds do not assist us to some certain result in regard to these
problems, we must not defend ourselves on the plea that the object
itself remains hidden from and unknown to us. For no such thing or
object can be given--it is not to be found out of the idea in our
minds. We must seek the cause of our failure in our idea itself, which
is an insoluble problem and in regard to which we obstinately assume
that there exists a real object corresponding and adequate to it. A
clear explanation of the dialectic which lies in our conception,
will very soon enable us to come to a satisfactory decision in
regard to such a question.

The pretext that we are unable to arrive at certainty in regard to
these problems may be met with this question, which requires at
least a plain answer: "From what source do the ideas originate, the
solution of which involves you in such difficulties? Are you seeking
for an explanation of certain phenomena; and do you expect these ideas
to give you the principles or the rules of this explanation?" Let it
be granted, that all nature was laid open before you; that nothing
was hid from your senses and your consciousness. Still, you could not
cognize in concreto the object of your ideas in any experience. For
what is demanded is not only this full and complete intuition, but
also a complete synthesis and the consciousness of its absolute
totality; and this is not possible by means of any empirical
cognition. It follows that your question--your idea--is by no means
necessary for the explanation of any phenomenon; and the idea cannot
have been in any sense given by the object itself. For such an
object can never be presented to us, because it cannot be given by
any possible experience. Whatever perceptions you may attain to, you
are still surrounded by conditions--in space, or in time--and you cannot
discover anything unconditioned; nor can you decide whether this
unconditioned is to be placed in an absolute beginning of the
synthesis, or in an absolute totality of the series without beginning.
A whole, in the empirical signification of the term, is always
merely comparative. The absolute whole of quantity (the universe),
of division, of derivation, of the condition of existence, with the
question--whether it is to be produced by finite or infinite
synthesis, no possible experience can instruct us concerning. You will
not, for example, be able to explain the phenomena of a body in the
least degree better, whether you believe it to consist of simple, or
of composite parts; for a simple phenomenon--and just as little an
infinite series of composition--can never be presented to your
perception. Phenomena require and admit of explanation, only in so
far as the conditions of that explanation are given in perception;
but the sum total of that which is given in phenomena, considered as
an absolute whole, is itself a perception--and we cannot therefore
seek for explanations of this whole beyond itself, in other perceptions.
The explanation of this whole is the proper object of the
transcendental problems of pure reason.

Although, therefore, the solution of these problems is
unattainable through experience, we must not permit ourselves to say
that it is uncertain how the object of our inquiries is constituted.
For the object is in our own mind and cannot be discovered in
experience; and we have only to take care that our thoughts are
consistent with each other, and to avoid falling into the amphiboly
of regarding our idea as a representation of an object empirically
given, and therefore to be cognized according to the laws of experience.
A dogmatical solution is therefore not only unsatisfactory but
impossible. The critical solution, which may be a perfectly certain
one, does not consider the question objectively, but proceeds by
inquiring into the basis of the cognition upon which the question

SECTION V. Sceptical Exposition of the Cosmological Problems
presented in the four Transcendental Ideas.

We should be quite willing to desist from the demand of a dogmatical
answer to our questions, if we understood beforehand that, be the
answer what it may, it would only serve to increase our ignorance,
to throw us from one incomprehensibility into another, from one
obscurity into another still greater, and perhaps lead us into
irreconcilable contradictions. If a dogmatical affirmative or negative
answer is demanded, is it at all prudent to set aside the probable
grounds of a solution which lie before us and to take into
consideration what advantage we shall gain, if the answer is to favour
the one side or the other? If it happens that in both cases the answer
is mere nonsense, we have in this an irresistible summons to institute
a critical investigation of the question, for the purpose of
discovering whether it is based on a groundless presupposition and
relates to an idea, the falsity of which would be more easily
exposed in its application and consequences than in the mere
representation of its content. This is the great utility of the
sceptical mode of treating the questions addressed by pure reason to
itself. By this method we easily rid ourselves of the confusions of
dogmatism, and establish in its place a temperate criticism, which,
as a genuine cathartic, will successfully remove the presumptuous notions
of philosophy and their consequence--the vain pretension to
universal science.

If, then, I could understand the nature of a cosmological idea and
perceive, before I entered on the discussion of the subject at all,
that, whatever side of the question regarding the unconditioned of
the regressive synthesis of phenomena it favoured--it must either be
too great or too small for every conception of the understanding--I
would be able to comprehend how the idea, which relates to an object
of experience--an experience which must be adequate to and in
accordance with a possible conception of the understanding--must be
completely void and without significance, inasmuch as its object is
inadequate, consider it as we may. And this is actually the case
with all cosmological conceptions, which, for the reason above
mentioned, involve reason, so long as it remains attached to them,
in an unavoidable antinomy. For suppose:

First, that the world has no beginning--in this case it is too large
for our conception; for this conception, which consists in a
successive regress, cannot overtake the whole eternity that has
elapsed. Grant that it has a beginning, it is then too small for the
conception of the understanding. For, as a beginning presupposes a
time preceding, it cannot be unconditioned; and the law of the
empirical employment of the understanding imposes the necessity of
looking for a higher condition of time; and the world is, therefore,
evidently too small for this law.

The same is the case with the double answer to the question
regarding the extent, in space, of the world. For, if it is infinite
and unlimited, it must be too large for every possible empirical
conception. If it is finite and limited, we have a right to ask: "What
determines these limits?" Void space is not a self-subsistent
correlate of things, and cannot be a final condition--and still less
an empirical condition, forming a part of a possible experience. For
how can we have any experience or perception of an absolute void?
But the absolute totality of the empirical synthesis requires that
the unconditioned be an empirical conception. Consequently, a finite
world is too small for our conception.

Secondly, if every phenomenon (matter) in space consists of an
infinite number of parts, the regress of the division is always too
great for our conception; and if the division of space must cease with
some member of the division (the simple), it is too small for the idea
of the unconditioned. For the member at which we have discontinued
our division still admits a regress to many more parts contained in
the object.

Thirdly, suppose that every event in the world happens in accordance
with the laws of nature; the causality of a cause must itself be an
event and necessitates a regress to a still higher cause, and
consequently the unceasing prolongation of the series of conditions
a parte priori. Operative nature is therefore too large for every
conception we can form in the synthesis of cosmical events.

If we admit the existence of spontaneously produced events, that is,
of free agency, we are driven, in our search for sufficient reasons,
on an unavoidable law of nature and are compelled to appeal to the
empirical law of causality, and we find that any such totality of
connection in our synthesis is too small for our necessary empirical

Fourthly, if we assume the existence of an absolutely necessary
being--whether it be the world or something in the world, or the cause
of the world--we must place it in a time at an infinite distance
from any given moment; for, otherwise, it must be dependent on some
other and higher existence. Such an existence is, in this case, too
large for our empirical conception, and unattainable by the
continued regress of any synthesis.

But if we believe that everything in the world--be it condition or
conditioned--is contingent; every given existence is too small for
our conception. For in this case we are compelled to seek for some
other existence upon which the former depends.

We have said that in all these cases the cosmological idea is either
too great or too small for the empirical regress in a synthesis, and
consequently for every possible conception of the understanding. Why
did we not express ourselves in a manner exactly the reverse of this
and, instead of accusing the cosmological idea of over stepping or
of falling short of its true aim, possible experience, say that, in
the first case, the empirical conception is always too small for the
idea, and in the second too great, and thus attach the blame of
these contradictions to the empirical regress? The reason is this.
Possible experience can alone give reality to our conceptions; without
it a conception is merely an idea, without truth or relation to an
object. Hence a possible empirical conception must be the standard
by which we are to judge whether an idea is anything more than an idea
and fiction of thought, or whether it relates to an object in the
world. If we say of a thing that in relation to some other thing it
is too large or too small, the former is considered as existing for
the sake of the latter, and requiring to be adapted to it. Among the
trivial subjects of discussion in the old schools of dialectics was
this question: "If a ball cannot pass through a hole, shall we say
that the ball is too large or the hole too small?" In this case it
is indifferent what expression we employ; for we do not know which
exists for the sake of the other. On the other hand, we cannot say:
"The man is too long for his coat"; but: "The coat is too short for
the man."

We are thus led to the well-founded suspicion that the
cosmological ideas, and all the conflicting sophistical assertions
connected with them, are based upon a false and fictitious
conception of the mode in which the object of these ideas is presented
to us; and this suspicion will probably direct us how to expose the
illusion that has so long led us astray from the truth.

SECTION VI. Transcendental Idealism as the Key to the
Solution of Pure Cosmological Dialectic.

In the transcendental aesthetic we proved that everything intuited
in space and time, all objects of a possible experience, are nothing
but phenomena, that is, mere representations; and that these, as
presented to us--as extended bodies, or as series of changes--have
no self-subsistent existence apart from human thought. This doctrine
I call Transcendental Idealism.* The realist in the transcendental
sense regards these modifications of our sensibility, these mere
representations, as things subsisting in themselves.

[*Footnote: I have elsewhere termed this theory formal idealism, to
distinguish it from material idealism, which doubts or denies the
existence of external things. To avoid ambiguity, it seems advisable
in many cases to employ this term instead of that mentioned in the text.]

It would be unjust to accuse us of holding the long-decried theory
of empirical idealism, which, while admitting the reality of space,
denies, or at least doubts, the existence of bodies extended in it,
and thus leaves us without a sufficient criterion of reality and
illusion. The supporters of this theory find no difficulty in
admitting the reality of the phenomena of the internal sense in
time; nay, they go the length of maintaining that this internal
experience is of itself a sufficient proof of the real existence of
its object as a thing in itself.

Transcendental idealism allows that the objects of external
intuition--as intuited in space, and all changes in time--as
represented by the internal sense, are real. For, as space is the form
of that intuition which we call external, and, without objects in
space, no empirical representation could be given us, we can and ought
to regard extended bodies in it as real. The case is the same with
representations in time. But time and space, with all phenomena
therein, are not in themselves things. They are nothing but
representations and cannot exist out of and apart from the mind.
Nay, the sensuous internal intuition of the mind (as the object of
consciousness), the determination of which is represented by the
succession of different states in time, is not the real, proper
self, as it exists in itself--not the transcendental subject--but only
a phenomenon, which is presented to the sensibility of this, to us,
unknown being. This internal phenomenon cannot be admitted to be a
self-subsisting thing; for its condition is time, and time cannot be
the condition of a thing in itself. But the empirical truth of
phenomena in space and time is guaranteed beyond the possibility of
doubt, and sufficiently distinguished from the illusion of dreams or
fancy--although both have a proper and thorough connection in an
experience according to empirical laws. The objects of experience then
are not things in themselves, but are given only in experience, and
have no existence apart from and independently of experience. That
there may be inhabitants in the moon, although no one has ever
observed them, must certainly be admitted; but this assertion means
only, that we may in the possible progress of experience discover them
at some future time. For that which stands in connection with a
perception according to the laws of the progress of experience is
real. They are therefore really existent, if they stand in empirical
connection with my actual or real consciousness, although they are
not in themselves real, that is, apart from the progress of experience.

There is nothing actually given--we can be conscious of nothing as
real, except a perception and the empirical progression from it to
other possible perceptions. For phenomena, as mere representations,
are real only in perception; and perception is, in fact, nothing but
the reality of an empirical representation, that is, a phenomenon.
To call a phenomenon a real thing prior to perception means either
that we must meet with this phenomenon in the progress of
experience, or it means nothing at all. For I can say only of a
thing in itself that it exists without relation to the senses and
experience. But we are speaking here merely of phenomena in space
and time, both of which are determinations of sensibility, and not
of things in themselves. It follows that phenomena are not things in
themselves, but are mere representations, which if not given in us--in
perception--are non-existent.

The faculty of sensuous intuition is properly a receptivity--a
capacity of being affected in a certain manner by representations,
the relation of which to each other is a pure intuition of space and
time--the pure forms of sensibility. These representations, in so far
as they are connected and determinable in this relation (in space and
time) according to laws of the unity of experience, are called
objects. The non-sensuous cause of these representations is completely
unknown to us and hence cannot be intuited as an object. For such an
object could not be represented either in space or in time; and
without these conditions intuition or representation is impossible.
We may, at the same time, term the non-sensuous cause of phenomena
the transcendental object--but merely as a mental correlate to
sensibility, considered as a receptivity. To this transcendental
object we may attribute the whole connection and extent of our
possible perceptions, and say that it is given and exists in itself
prior to all experience. But the phenomena, corresponding to it, are
not given as things in themselves, but in experience alone. For they
are mere representations, receiving from perceptions alone
significance and relation to a real object, under the condition that
this or that perception--indicating an object--is in complete
connection with all others in accordance with the rules of the unity
of experience. Thus we can say: "The things that really existed in
past time are given in the transcendental object of experience." But
these are to me real objects, only in so far as I can represent to
my own mind, that a regressive series of possible perceptions-
following the indications of history, or the footsteps of cause and
effect--in accordance with empirical laws--that, in one word, the
course of the world conducts us to an elapsed series of time as the
condition of the present time. This series in past time is represented
as real, not in itself, but only in connection with a possible
experience. Thus, when I say that certain events occurred in past
time, I merely assert the possibility of prolonging the chain of
experience, from the present perception, upwards to the conditions
that determine it according to time.

If I represent to myself all objects existing in all space and time,
I do not thereby place these in space and time prior to all
experience; on the contrary, such a representation is nothing more
than the notion of a possible experience, in its absolute
completeness. In experience alone are those objects, which are nothing
but representations, given. But, when I say they existed prior to my
experience, this means only that I must begin with the perception
present to me and follow the track indicated until I discover them
in some part or region of experience. The cause of the empirical
condition of this progression--and consequently at what member therein
I must stop, and at what point in the regress I am to find this
member--is transcendental, and hence necessarily incognizable. But
with this we have not to do; our concern is only with the law of
progression in experience, in which objects, that is, phenomena, are
given. It is a matter of indifference, whether I say, "I may in the
progress of experience discover stars, at a hundred times greater
distance than the most distant of those now visible," or, "Stars at
this distance may be met in space, although no one has, or ever will
discover them." For, if they are given as things in themselves,
without any relation to possible experience, they are for me
non-existent, consequently, are not objects, for they are not
contained in the regressive series of experience. But, if these
phenomena must be employed in the construction or support of the
cosmological idea of an absolute whole, and when we are discussing
a question that oversteps the limits of possible experience, the
proper distinction of the different theories of the reality of
sensuous objects is of great importance, in order to avoid the
illusion which must necessarily arise from the misinterpretation of
our empirical conceptions.

SECTION VII. Critical Solution of the Cosmological Problem.

The antinomy of pure reason is based upon the following
dialectical argument: "If that which is conditioned is given, the
whole series of its conditions is also given; but sensuous objects
are given as conditioned; consequently..." This syllogism, the major
of which seems so natural and evident, introduces as many cosmological
ideas as there are different kinds of conditions in the synthesis of
phenomena, in so far as these conditions constitute a series. These
ideas require absolute totality in the series, and thus place reason
in inextricable embarrassment. Before proceeding to expose the fallacy
in this dialectical argument, it will be necessary to have a correct
understanding of certain conceptions that appear in it.

In the first place, the following proposition is evident, and
indubitably certain: "If the conditioned is given, a regress in the
series of all its conditions is thereby imperatively required." For
the very conception of a conditioned is a conception of something
related to a condition, and, if this condition is itself
conditioned, to another condition--and so on through all the members
of the series. This proposition is, therefore, analytical and has
nothing to fear from transcendental criticism. It is a logical
postulate of reason: to pursue, as far as possible, the connection
of a conception with its conditions.

If, in the second place, both the conditioned and the condition
are things in themselves, and if the former is given, not only is
the regress to the latter requisite, but the latter is really given
with the former. Now, as this is true of all the members of the
series, the entire series of conditions, and with them the
unconditioned, is at the same time given in the very fact of the
conditioned, the existence of which is possible only in and through
that series, being given. In this case, the synthesis of the
conditioned with its condition, is a synthesis of the understanding
merely, which represents things as they are, without regarding whether
and how we can cognize them. But if I have to do with phenomena,
which, in their character of mere representations, are not given, if
I do not attain to a cognition of them (in other words, to themselves,
for they are nothing more than empirical cognitions), I am not
entitled to say: "If the conditioned is given, all its conditions
(as phenomena) are also given." I cannot, therefore, from the fact
of a conditioned being given, infer the absolute totality of the
series of its conditions. For phenomena are nothing but an empirical
synthesis in apprehension or perception, and are therefore given
only in it. Now, in speaking of phenomena it does not follow that,
if the conditioned is given, the synthesis which constitutes its
empirical condition is also thereby given and presupposed; such a
synthesis can be established only by an actual regress in the series
of conditions. But we are entitled to say in this case that a
regress to the conditions of a conditioned, in other words, that a
continuous empirical synthesis is enjoined; that, if the conditions
are not given, they are at least required; and that we are certain
to discover the conditions in this regress.

We can now see that the major, in the above cosmological
syllogism, takes the conditioned in the transcendental signification
which it has in the pure category, while the minor speaks of it in
the empirical signification which it has in the category as applied
to phenomena. There is, therefore, a dialectical fallacy in the
syllogism--a sophisma figurae dictionis. But this fallacy is not a
consciously devised one, but a perfectly natural illusion of the
common reason of man. For, when a thing is given as conditioned, we
presuppose in the major its conditions and their series,
unperceived, as it were, and unseen; because this is nothing more than
the logical requirement of complete and satisfactory premisses for
a given conclusion. In this case, time is altogether left out in the
connection of the conditioned with the condition; they are supposed
to be given in themselves, and contemporaneously. It is, moreover,
just as natural to regard phenomena (in the minor) as things in
themselves and as objects presented to the pure understanding, as in
the major, in which complete abstraction was made of all conditions
of intuition. But it is under these conditions alone that objects are
given. Now we overlooked a remarkable distinction between the
conceptions. The synthesis of the conditioned with its condition,
and the complete series of the latter (in the major) are not limited
by time, and do not contain the conception of succession. On the
contrary, the empirical synthesis and the series of conditions in
the phenomenal world--subsumed in the minor--are necessarily
successive and given in time alone. It follows that I cannot
presuppose in the minor, as I did in the major, the absolute
totality of the synthesis and of the series therein represented; for
in the major all the members of the series are given as things in
themselves--without any limitations or conditions of time, while in
the minor they are possible only in and through a successive
regress, which cannot exist, except it be actually carried into
execution in the world of phenomena.

After this proof of the viciousness of the argument commonly
employed in maintaining cosmological assertions, both parties may
now be justly dismissed, as advancing claims without grounds or title.
But the process has not been ended by convincing them that one or both
were in the wrong and had maintained an assertion which was without
valid grounds of proof. Nothing seems to be clearer than that, if
one maintains: "The world has a beginning," and another: "The world
has no beginning," one of the two must be right. But it is likewise
clear that, if the evidence on both sides is equal, it is impossible
to discover on what side the truth lies; and the controversy
continues, although the parties have been recommended to peace
before the tribunal of reason. There remains, then, no other means
of settling the question than to convince the parties, who refute each
other with such conclusiveness and ability, that they are disputing
about nothing, and that a transcendental illusion has been mocking
them with visions of reality where there is none. The mode of
adjusting a dispute which cannot be decided upon its own merits, we
shall now proceed to lay before our readers.

Zeno of Elea, a subtle dialectician, was severely reprimanded by
Plato as a sophist, who, merely from the base motive of exhibiting
his skill in discussion, maintained and subverted the same proposition
by arguments as powerful and convincing on the one side as on the
other. He maintained, for example, that God (who was probably
nothing more, in his view, than the world) is neither finite nor
infinite, neither in motion nor in rest, neither similar nor
dissimilar to any other thing. It seemed to those philosophers who
criticized his mode of discussion that his purpose was to deny
completely both of two self-contradictory propositions--which is
absurd. But I cannot believe that there is any justice in this
accusation. The first of these propositions I shall presently consider
in a more detailed manner. With regard to the others, if by the word
of God he understood merely the Universe, his meaning must have
been--that it cannot be permanently present in one place--that is,
at rest--nor be capable of changing its place--that is, of moving-
because all places are in the universe, and the universe itself is,
therefore, in no place. Again, if the universe contains in itself
everything that exists, it cannot be similar or dissimilar to any
other thing, because there is, in fact, no other thing with which it
can be compared. If two opposite judgements presuppose a contingent
impossible, or arbitrary condition, both--in spite of their opposition
(which is, however, not properly or really a contradiction)--fall
away; because the condition, which ensured the validity of both, has
itself disappeared.

If we say: "Everybody has either a good or a bad smell," we have
omitted a third possible judgement--it has no smell at all; and thus
both conflicting statements may be false. If we say: "It is either
good-smelling or not good-smelling (vel suaveolens vel
non-suaveolens)," both judgements are contradictorily opposed; and
the contradictory opposite of the former judgement--some bodies are
not good-smelling--embraces also those bodies which have no smell at
all. In the preceding pair of opposed judgements (per disparata),
the contingent condition of the conception of body (smell) attached
to both conflicting statements, instead of having been omitted in the
latter, which is consequently not the contradictory opposite of the

If, accordingly, we say: "The world is either infinite in extension,
or it is not infinite (non est infinitus)"; and if the former
proposition is false, its contradictory opposite--the world is not
infinite--must be true. And thus I should deny the existence of an
infinite, without, however affirming the existence of a finite
world. But if we construct our proposition thus: "The world is
either infinite or finite (non-infinite)," both statements may be
false. For, in this case, we consider the world as per se determined
in regard to quantity, and while, in the one judgement, we deny its
infinite and consequently, perhaps, its independent existence; in
the other, we append to the world, regarded as a thing in itself, a
certain determination--that of finitude; and the latter may be false
as well as the former, if the world is not given as a thing in itself,
and thus neither as finite nor as infinite in quantity. This kind of
opposition I may be allowed to term dialectical; that of
contradictories may be called analytical opposition. Thus then, of
two dialectically opposed judgements both may be false, from the fact,
that the one is not a mere contradictory of the other, but actually
enounces more than is requisite for a full and complete contradiction.

When we regard the two propositions--"The world is infinite in
quantity," and, "The world is finite in quantity," as contradictory
opposites, we are assuming that the world--the complete series of
phenomena--is a thing in itself. For it remains as a permanent
quantity, whether I deny the infinite or the finite regress in the
series of its phenomena. But if we dismiss this assumption--this
transcendental illusion--and deny that it is a thing in itself, the
contradictory opposition is metamorphosed into a merely dialectical
one; and the world, as not existing in itself--independently of the
regressive series of my representations--exists in like manner neither
as a whole which is infinite nor as a whole which is finite in itself.
The universe exists for me only in the empirical regress of the series
of phenomena and not per se. If, then, it is always conditioned, it
is never completely or as a whole; and it is, therefore, not an
unconditioned whole and does not exist as such, either with an
infinite, or with a finite quantity.

What we have here said of the first cosmological idea--that of the
absolute totality of quantity in phenomena--applies also to the
others. The series of conditions is discoverable only in the
regressive synthesis itself, and not in the phenomenon considered as
a thing in itself--given prior to all regress. Hence I am compelled
to say: "The aggregate of parts in a given phenomenon is in itself
neither finite nor infinite; and these parts are given only in the
regressive synthesis of decomposition--a synthesis which is never
given in absolute completeness, either as finite, or as infinite."
The same is the case with the series of subordinated causes, or of
the conditioned up to the unconditioned and necessary existence, which
can never be regarded as in itself, ind in its totality, either as
finite or as infinite; because, as a series of subordinate
representations, it subsists only in the dynamical regress and
cannot be regarded as existing previously to this regress, or as a
self-subsistent series of things.

Thus the antinomy of pure reason in its cosmological ideas
disappears. For the above demonstration has established the fact
that it is merely the product of a dialectical and illusory
opposition, which arises from the application of the idea of
absolute totality--admissible only as a condition of things in
themselves--to phenomena, which exist only in our representations,
and--when constituting a series--in a successive regress. This
antinomy of reason may, however, be really profitable to our
speculative interests, not in the way of contributing any dogmatical
addition, but as presenting to us another material support in our
critical investigations. For it furnishes us with an indirect proof
of the transcendental ideality of phenomena, if our minds were not
completely satisfied with the direct proof set forth in the
Trancendental Aesthetic. The proof would proceed in the following
dilemma. If the world is a whole existing in itself, it must be either
finite or infinite. But it is neither finite nor infinite--as has been
shown, on the one side, by the thesis, on the other, by the
antithesis. Therefore the world--the content of all phenomena--is
not a whole existing in itself. It follows that phenomena are nothing,
apart from our representations. And this is what we mean by
transcendental ideality.

This remark is of some importance. It enables us to see that the
proofs of the fourfold antinomy are not mere sophistries--are not
fallacious, but grounded on the nature of reason, and valid--under
the supposition that phenomena are things in themselves. The opposition
of the judgements which follow makes it evident that a fallacy lay
in the initial supposition, and thus helps us to discover the true
constitution of objects of sense. This transcendental dialectic does
not favour scepticism, although it presents us with a triumphant
demonstration of the advantages of the sceptical method, the great
utility of which is apparent in the antinomy, where the arguments of
reason were allowed to confront each other in undiminished force.
And although the result of these conflicts of reason is not what we
expected--although we have obtained no positive dogmatical addition
to metaphysical science--we have still reaped a great advantage in
the correction of our judgements on these subjects of thought.

SECTION VIII. Regulative Principle of Pure Reason in relation
to the Cosmological Ideas.

The cosmological principle of totality could not give us any certain
knowledge in regard to the maximum in the series of conditions in
the world of sense, considered as a thing in itself. The actual
regress in the series is the only means of approaching this maximum.
This principle of pure reason, therefore, may still be considered as
valid--not as an axiom enabling us to cogitate totality in the
object as actual, but as a problem for the understanding, which
requires it to institute and to continue, in conformity with the
idea of totality in the mind, the regress in the series of the
conditions of a given conditioned. For in the world of sense, that
is, in space and time, every condition which we discover in our
investigation of phenomena is itself conditioned; because sensuous
objects are not things in themselves (in which case an absolutely
unconditioned might be reached in the progress of cognition), but
are merely empirical representations the conditions of which must
always be found in intuition. The principle of reason is therefore
properly a mere rule--prescribing a regress in the series of
conditions for given phenomena, and prohibiting any pause or rest on
an absolutely unconditioned. It is, therefore, not a principle of
the possibility of experience or of the empirical cognition of
sensuous objects--consequently not a principle of the understanding;
for every experience is confined within certain proper limits
determined by the given intuition. Still less is it a constitutive
principle of reason authorizing us to extend our conception of the
sensuous world beyond all possible experience. It is merely a
principle for the enlargement and extension of experience as far as
is possible for human faculties. It forbids us to consider any
empirical limits as absolute. It is, hence, a principle of reason,
which, as a rule, dictates how we ought to proceed in our empirical
regress, but is unable to anticipate or indicate prior to the
empirical regress what is given in the object itself. I have termed
it for this reason a regulative principle of reason; while the
principle of the absolute totality of the series of conditions, as
existing in itself and given in the object, is a constitutive
cosmological principle. This distinction will at once demonstrate
the falsehood of the constitutive principle, and prevent us from
attributing (by a transcendental subreptio) objective reality to an
idea, which is valid only as a rule.

In order to understand the proper meaning of this rule of pure
reason, we must notice first that it cannot tell us what the object
is, but only how the empirical regress is to be proceeded with in
order to attain to the complete conception of the object. If it gave
us any information in respect to the former statement, it would be
a constitutive principle--a principle impossible from the nature of
pure reason. It will not therefore enable us to establish any such
conclusions as: "The series of conditions for a given conditioned is
in itself finite." or, "It is infinite." For, in this case, we
should be cogitating in the mere idea of absolute totality, an
object which is not and cannot be given in experience; inasmuch as
we should be attributing a reality objective and independent of the
empirical synthesis, to a series of phenomena. This idea of reason
cannot then be regarded as valid--except as a rule for the
regressive synthesis in the series of conditions, according to which
we must proceed from the conditioned, through all intermediate and
subordinate conditions, up to the unconditioned; although this goal
is unattained and unattainable. For the absolutely unconditioned cannot
be discovered in the sphere of experience.

We now proceed to determine clearly our notion of a synthesis
which can never be complete. There are two terms commonly employed
for this purpose. These terms are regarded as expressions of different
and distinguishable notions, although the ground of the distinction
has never been clearly exposed. The term employed by the mathematicians
is progressus in infinitum. The philosophers prefer the expression
progressus in indefinitum. Without detaining the reader with an
examination of the reasons for such a distinction, or with remarks
on the right or wrong use of the terms, I shall endeavour clearly to
determine these conceptions, so far as is necessary for the purpose
in this Critique.

We may, with propriety, say of a straight line, that it may be
produced to infinity. In this case the distinction between a
progressus in infinitum and a progressus in indefinitum is a mere
piece of subtlety. For, although when we say, "Produce a straight
line," it is more correct to say in indefinitum than in infinitum;
because the former means, "Produce it as far as you please," the
second, "You must not cease to produce it"; the expression in
infinitum is, when we are speaking of the power to do it, perfectly
correct, for we can always make it longer if we please--on to
infinity. And this remark holds good in all cases, when we speak of
a progressus, that is, an advancement from the condition to the
conditioned; this possible advancement always proceeds to infinity.
We may proceed from a given pair in the descending line of generation
from father to son, and cogitate a never-ending line of descendants
from it. For in such a case reason does not demand absolute totality
in the series, because it does not presuppose it as a condition and
as given (datum), but merely as conditioned, and as capable of being
given (dabile).

Very different is the case with the problem: "How far the regress,
which ascends from the given conditioned to the conditions, must
extend"; whether I can say: "It is a regress in infinitum," or only
"in indefinitum"; and whether, for example, setting out from the human
beings at present alive in the world, I may ascend in the series of
their ancestors, in infinitum--mr whether all that can be said is,
that so far as I have proceeded, I have discovered no empirical ground
for considering the series limited, so that I am justified, and
indeed, compelled to search for ancestors still further back, although
I am not obliged by the idea of reason to presuppose them.

My answer to this question is: "If the series is given in
empirical intuition as a whole, the regress in the series of its
internal conditions proceeds in infinitum; but, if only one member
of the series is given, from which the regress is to proceed to
absolute totality, the regress is possible only in indefinitum." For
example, the division of a portion of matter given within certain
limits--of a body, that is--proceeds in infinitum. For, as the
condition of this whole is its part, and the condition of the part
a part of the part, and so on, and as in this regress of decomposition
an unconditioned indivisible member of the series of conditions is
not to be found; there are no reasons or grounds in experience for
stopping in the division, but, on the contrary, the more remote
members of the division are actually and empirically given prior to
this division. That is to say, the division proceeds to infinity. On
the other hand, the series of ancestors of any given human being is
not given, in its absolute totality, in any experience, and yet the
regress proceeds from every genealogical member of this series to
one still higher, and does not meet with any empirical limit
presenting an absolutely unconditioned member of the series. But as
the members of such a series are not contained in the empirical
intuition of the whole, prior to the regress, this regress does not
proceed to infinity, but only in indefinitum, that is, we are called
upon to discover other and higher members, which are themselves always

In neither case--the regressus in infinitum, nor the regressus in
indefinitum, is the series of conditions to be considered as
actually infinite in the object itself. This might be true of things
in themselves, but it cannot be asserted of phenomena, which, as
conditions of each other, are only given in the empirical regress
itself. Hence, the question no longer is, "What is the quantity of
this series of conditions in itself--is it finite or infinite?" for
it is nothing in itself; but, "How is the empirical regress to be
commenced, and how far ought we to proceed with it?" And here a signal
distinction in the application of this rule becomes apparent. If the
whole is given empirically, it is possible to recede in the series
of its internal conditions to infinity. But if the whole is not given,
and can only be given by and through the empirical regress, I can only
say: "It is possible to infinity, to proceed to still higher
conditions in the series." In the first case, I am justified in
asserting that more members are empirically given in the object than
I attain to in the regress (of decomposition). In the second case,
I am justified only in saying, that I can always proceed further in
the regress, because no member of the series is given as absolutely
conditioned, and thus a higher member is possible, and an inquiry with
regard to it is necessary. In the one case it is necessary to find
other members of the series, in the other it is necessary to inquire
for others, inasmuch as experience presents no absolute limitation
of the regress. For, either you do not possess a perception which
absolutely limits your empirical regress, and in this case the regress
cannot be regarded as complete; or, you do possess such a limitative
perception, in which case it is not a part of your series (for that
which limits must be distinct from that which is limited by it), and
it is incumbent you to continue your regress up to this condition,
and so on.

These remarks will be placed in their proper light by their
application in the following section.

SECTION IX. Of the Empirical Use of the Regulative Principle
of Reason with regard to the Cosmological Ideas.

We have shown that no transcendental use can be made either of the
conceptions of reason or of understanding. We have shown, likewise,
that the demand of absolute totality in the series of conditions in
the world of sense arises from a transcendental employment of
reason, resting on the opinion that phenomena are to be regarded as
things in themselves. It follows that we are not required to answer
the question respecting the absolute quantity of a series--whether
it is in itself limited or unlimited. We are only called upon to
determine how far we must proceed in the empirical regress from
condition to condition, in order to discover, in conformity with the
rule of reason, a full and correct answer to the questions proposed
by reason itself.

This principle of reason is hence valid only as a rule for the
extension of a possible experience--its invalidity as a principle
constitutive of phenomena in themselves having been sufficiently
demonstrated. And thus, too, the antinomial conflict of reason with
itself is completely put an end to; inasmuch as we have not only
presented a critical solution of the fallacy lurking in the opposite
statements of reason, but have shown the true meaning of the ideas
which gave rise to these statements. The dialectical principle of
reason has, therefore, been changed into a doctrinal principle. But
in fact, if this principle, in the subjective signification which we
have shown to be its only true sense, may be guaranteed as a principle
of the unceasing extension of the employment of our understanding,
its influence and value are just as great as if it were an axiom for
the a priori determination of objects. For such an axiom could not
exert a stronger influence on the extension and rectification of our
knowledge, otherwise than by procuring for the principles of the
understanding the most widely expanded employment in the field of

I. Solution of the Cosmological Idea of the Totality of the
Composition of Phenomena in the Universe.

Here, as well as in the case of the other cosmological problems, the
ground of the regulative principle of reason is the proposition that
in our empirical regress no experience of an absolute limit, and
consequently no experience of a condition, which is itself
absolutely unconditioned, is discoverable. And the truth of this
proposition itself rests upon the consideration that such an
experience must represent to us phenomena as limited by nothing or
the mere void, on which our continued regress by means of perception
must abut--which is impossible.

Now this proposition, which declares that every condition attained
in the empirical regress must itself be considered empirically
conditioned, contains the rule in terminis, which requires me, to
whatever extent I may have proceeded in the ascending series, always
to look for some higher member in the series--whether this member is
to become known to me through experience, or not.

Nothing further is necessary, then, for the solution of the first
cosmological problem, than to decide, whether, in the regress to the
unconditioned quantity of the universe (as regards space and time),
this never limited ascent ought to be called a regressus in
infinitum or indefinitum.

The general representation which we form in our minds of the
series of all past states or conditions of the world, or of all the
things which at present exist in it, is itself nothing more than a
possible empirical regress, which is cogitated--although in an
undetermined manner--in the mind, and which gives rise to the
conception of a series of conditions for a given object.* Now I have
a conception of the universe, but not an intuition--that is, not an
intuition of it as a whole. Thus I cannot infer the magnitude of the
regress from the quantity or magnitude of the world, and determine
the former by means of the latter; on the contrary, I must first of
all form a conception of the quantity or magnitude of the world from
the magnitude of the empirical regress. But of this regress I know
nothing more than that I ought to proceed from every given member of
the series of conditions to one still higher. But the quantity of the
universe is not thereby determined, and we cannot affirm that this
regress proceeds in infinitum. Such an affirmation would anticipate
the members of the series which have not yet been reached, and
represent the number of them as beyond the grasp of any empirical
synthesis; it would consequently determine the cosmical quantity prior
to the regress (although only in a negative manner)--which is
impossible. For the world is not given in its totality in any
intuition: consequently, its quantity cannot be given prior to the
regress. It follows that we are unable to make any declaration
respecting the cosmical quantity in itself--not even that the
regress in it is a regress in infinitum; we must only endeavour to
attain to a conception of the quantity of the universe, in
conformity with the rule which determines the empirical regress in
it. But this rule merely requires us never to admit an absolute limit
to our series--how far soever we may have proceeded in it, but always,
on the contrary, to subordinate every phenomenon to some other as its
condition, and consequently to proceed to this higher phenomenon. Such
a regress is, therefore, the regressus in indefinitum, which, as not
determining a quantity in the object, is clearly distinguishable
from the regressus in infinitum.

[*Footnote: The cosmical series can neither be greater nor smaller
than the possible empirical regress, upon which its conception is based.
And as this regress cannot be a determinate infinite regress, still
less a determinate finite (absolutely limited), it is evident that
we cannot regard the world as either finite or infinite, because the
regress, which gives us the representation of the world, is neither
finite nor infinite.]

It follows from what we have said that we are not justified in
declaring the world to be infinite in space, or as regards past
time. For this conception of an infinite given quantity is
empirical; but we cannot apply the conception of an infinite
quantity to the world as an object of the senses. I cannot say, "The
regress from a given perception to everything limited either in
space or time, proceeds in infinitum," for this presupposes an
infinite cosmical quantity; neither can I say, "It is finite," for
an absolute limit is likewise impossible in experience. It follows
that I am not entitled to make any assertion at all respecting the
whole object of experience--the world of sense; I must limit my
declarations to the rule according to which experience or empirical
knowledge is to be attained.

To the question, therefore, respecting the cosmical quantity, the
first and negative answer is: "The world has no beginning in time,
and no absolute limit in space."

For, in the contrary case, it would be limited by a void time on the
one hand, and by a void space on the other. Now, since the world, as
a phenomenon, cannot be thus limited in itself for a phenomenon is
not a thing in itself; it must be possible for us to have a perception
of this limitation by a void time and a void space. But such a
perception--such an experience is impossible; because it has no
content. Consequently, an absolute cosmical limit is empirically,
and therefore absolutely, impossible.*

[*Footnote: The reader will remark that the proof presented above is
very different from the dogmatical demonstration given in the antithesis
of the first antinomy. In that demonstration, it was taken for granted
that the world is a thing in itself--given in its totality prior to
all regress, and a determined position in space and time was denied
to it--if it was not considered as occupying all time and all space.
Hence our conclusion differed from that given above; for we inferred
in the antithesis the actual infinity of the world.]

From this follows the affirmative answer: "The regress in the series
of phenomena--as a determination of the cosmical quantity, proceeds
in indefinitum." This is equivalent to saying: "The world of sense
has no absolute quantity, but the empirical regress (through which
alone the world of sense is presented to us on the side of its conditions)
rests upon a rule, which requires it to proceed from every member of
the series, as conditioned, to one still more remote (whether
through personal experience, or by means of history, or the chain of
cause and effect), and not to cease at any point in this extension
of the possible empirical employment of the understanding." And this
is the proper and only use which reason can make of its principles.

The above rule does not prescribe an unceasing regress in one kind
of phenomena. It does not, for example, forbid us, in our ascent
from an individual human being through the line of his ancestors, to
expect that we shall discover at some point of the regress a
primeval pair, or to admit, in the series of heavenly bodies, a sun
at the farthest possible distance from some centre. All that it demands
is a perpetual progress from phenomena to phenomena, even although
an actual perception is not presented by them (as in the case of our
perceptions being so weak as that we are unable to become conscious
of them), since they, nevertheless, belong to possible experience.

Every beginning is in time, and all limits to extension are in
space. But space and time are in the world of sense. Consequently
phenomena in the world are conditionally limited, but the world itself
is not limited, either conditionally or unconditionally.

For this reason, and because neither the world nor the cosmical
series of conditions to a given conditioned can be completely given,
our conception of the cosmical quantity is given only in and through
the regress and not prior to it--in a collective intuition. But the
regress itself is really nothing more than the determining of the
cosmical quantity, and cannot therefore give us any determined
conception of it--still less a conception of a quantity which is, in
relation to a certain standard, infinite. The regress does not,
therefore, proceed to infinity (an infinity given), but only to an
indefinite extent, for or the of presenting to us a quantity--realized
only in and through the regress itself.

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

When I divide a whole which is given in intuition, I proceed from
a conditioned to its conditions. The division of the parts of the
whole (subdivisio or decompositio) is a regress in the series of these
conditions. The absolute totality of this series would be actually
attained and given to the mind, if the regress could arrive at
simple parts. But if all the parts in a continuous decomposition are
themselves divisible, the division, that is to say, the regress,
proceeds from the conditioned to its conditions in infinitum;
because the conditions (the parts) are themselves contained in the
conditioned, and, as the latter is given in a limited intuition, the
former are all given along with it. This regress cannot, therefore,
be called a regressus in indefinitum, as happened in the case of the
preceding cosmological idea, the regress in which proceeded from the
conditioned to the conditions not given contemporaneously and along
with it, but discoverable only through the empirical regress. We are
not, however, entitled to affirm of a whole of this kind, which is
divisible in infinitum, that it consists of an infinite number of
parts. For, although all the parts are contained in the intuition of
the whole, the whole division is not contained therein. The division
is contained only in the progressing decomposition--in the regress
itself, which is the condition of the possibility and actuality of
the series. Now, as this regress is infinite, all the members (parts)
to which it attains must be contained in the given whole as an aggregate.
But the complete series of division is not contained therein. For this
series, being infinite in succession and always incomplete, cannot
represent an infinite number of members, and still less a
composition of these members into a whole.

To apply this remark to space. Every limited part of space presented
to intuition is a whole, the parts of which are always spaces--to
whatever extent subdivided. Every limited space is hence divisible
to infinity.

Let us again apply the remark to an external phenomenon enclosed
in limits, that is, a body. The divisibility of a body rests upon
the divisibility of space, which is the condition of the possibility
of the body as an extended whole. A body is consequently divisible
to infinity, though it does not, for that reason, consist of an
infinite number of parts.

It certainly seems that, as a body must be cogitated as substance in
space, the law of divisibility would not be applicable to it as
substance. For we may and ought to grant, in the case of space, that
division or decomposition, to any extent, never can utterly annihilate
composition (that is to say, the smallest part of space must still
consist of spaces); otherwise space would entirely cease to exist-
which is impossible. But, the assertion on the other band that when
all composition in matter is annihilated in thought, nothing
remains, does not seem to harmonize with the conception of
substance, which must be properly the subject of all composition and
must remain, even after the conjunction of its attributes in space-
which constituted a body--is annihilated in thought. But this is not
the case with substance in the phenomenal world, which is not a
thing in itself cogitated by the pure category. Phenomenal substance
is not an absolute subject; it is merely a permanent sensuous image,
and nothing more than an intuition, in which the unconditioned is
not to be found.

But, although this rule of progress to infinity is legitimate and
applicable to the subdivision of a phenomenon, as a mere occupation
or filling of space, it is not applicable to a whole consisting of
a number of distinct parts and constituting a quantum discretum--that
is to say, an organized body. It cannot be admitted that every part
in an organized whole is itself organized, and that, in analysing it
to infinity, we must always meet with organized parts; although we
may allow that the parts of the matter which we decompose in infinitum,
may be organized. For the infinity of the division of a phenomenon
in space rests altogether on the fact that the divisibility of a
phenomenon is given only in and through this infinity, that is, an
undetermined number of parts is given, while the parts themselves
are given and determined only in and through the subdivision; in a
word, the infinity of the division necessarily presupposes that the
whole is not already divided in se. Hence our division determines a
number of parts in the whole--a number which extends just as far as
the actual regress in the division; while, on the other hand, the very
notion of a body organized to infinity represents the whole as already
and in itself divided. We expect, therefore, to find in it a
determinate, but at the same time, infinite, number of parts--which
is self-contradictory. For we should thus have a whole containing a
series of members which could not be completed in any regress--which
is infinite, and at the same time complete in an organized
composite. Infinite divisibility is applicable only to a quantum
continuum, and is based entirely on the infinite divisibility of
space, But in a quantum discretum the multitude of parts or units is
always determined, and hence always equal to some number. To what
extent a body may be organized, experience alone can inform us; and
although, so far as our experience of this or that body has
extended, we may not have discovered any inorganic part, such parts
must exist in possible experience. But how far the transcendental
division of a phenomenon must extend, we cannot know from
experience--it is a question which experience cannot answer; it is
answered only by the principle of reason which forbids us to
consider the empirical regress, in the analysis of extended body, as
ever absolutely complete.

Concluding Remark on the Solution of the Transcendental
Mathematical Ideas--and Introductory to the
Solution of the Dynamical Ideas.

We presented the antinomy of pure reason in a tabular form, and we
endeavoured to show the ground of this self-contradiction on the
part of reason, and the only means of bringing it to a conclusion--
namely, by declaring both contradictory statements to be false. We
represented in these antinomies the conditions of phenomena as
belonging to the conditioned according to relations of space and time-
which is the usual supposition of the common understanding. In this
respect, all dialectical representations of totality, in the series
of conditions to a given conditioned, were perfectly homogeneous. The
condition was always a member of the series along with the
conditioned, and thus the homogeneity of the whole series was assured.
In this case the regress could never be cogitated as complete; or,
if this was the case, a member really conditioned was falsely regarded
as a primal member, consequently as unconditioned. In such an
antinomy, therefore, we did not consider the object, that is, the
conditioned, but the series of conditions belonging to the object,
and the magnitude of that series. And thus arose the difficulty--a
difficulty not to be settled by any decision regarding the claims of
the two parties, but simply by cutting the knot--by declaring the
series proposed by reason to be either too long or too short for the
understanding, which could in neither case make its conceptions
adequate with the ideas.

But we have overlooked, up to this point, an essential difference
existing between the conceptions of the understanding which reason
endeavours to raise to the rank of ideas--two of these indicating a
mathematical, and two a dynamical synthesis of phenomena. Hitherto,
it was necessary to signalize this distinction; for, just as in our
general representation of all transcendental ideas, we considered them
under phenomenal conditions, so, in the two mathematical ideas, our
discussion is concerned solely with an object in the world of
phenomena. But as we are now about to proceed to the consideration
of the dynamical conceptions of the understanding, and their
adequateness with ideas, we must not lose sight of this distinction.
We shall find that it opens up to us an entirely new view of the
conflict in which reason is involved. For, while in the first two
antinomies, both parties were dismissed, on the ground of having
advanced statements based upon false hypothesis; in the present case
the hope appears of discovering a hypothesis which may be consistent
with the demands of reason, and, the judge completing the statement
of the grounds of claim, which both parties had left in an unsatisfactory
state, the question may be settled on its own merits, not by
dismissing the claimants, but by a comparison of the arguments on both
sides. If we consider merely their extension, and whether they are
adequate with ideas, the series of conditions may be regarded as all
homogeneous. But the conception of the understanding which lies at
the basis of these ideas, contains either a synthesis of the homogeneous
(presupposed in every quantity--in its composition as well as in its
division) or of the heterogeneous, which is the case in the
dynamical synthesis of cause and effect, as well as of the necessary
and the contingent.

Thus it happens that in the mathematical series of phenomena no
other than a sensuous condition is admissible--a condition which is
itself a member of the series; while the dynamical series of
sensuous conditions admits a heterogeneous condition, which is not
a member of the series, but, as purely intelligible, lies out of and
beyond it. And thus reason is satisfied, and an unconditioned placed
at the head of the series of phenomena, without introducing
confusion into or discontinuing it, contrary to the principles of
the understanding.

Now, from the fact that the dynamical ideas admit a condition of
phenomena which does not form a part of the series of phenomena,
arises a result which we should not have expected from an antinomy.
In former cases, the result was that both contradictory dialectical
statements were declared to be false. In the present case, we find
the conditioned in the dynamical series connected with an empirically
unconditioned, but non-sensuous condition; and thus satisfaction is
done to the understanding on the one hand and to the reason on the
other.* While, moreover, the dialectical arguments for unconditioned
totality in mere phenomena fall to the ground, both propositions of
reason may be shown to be true in their proper signification. This
could not happen in the case of the cosmological ideas which
demanded a mathematically unconditioned unity; for no condition
could be placed at the head of the series of phenomena, except one
which was itself a phenomenon and consequently a member of the series.

[*Footnote: For the understanding cannot admit among phenomena a condition
which is itself empirically unconditioned. But if it is possible to
cogitate an intelligible condition--one which is not a member of the
series of phenomena--for a conditioned phenomenon, without breaking
the series of empirical conditions, such a condition may be admissible
as empirically unconditioned, and the empirical regress continue
regular, unceasing, and intact.]

III. Solution of the Cosmological Idea of the Totality of
the Deduction of Cosmical Events from their Causes.

There are only two modes of causality cogitable--the causality of
nature or of freedom. The first is the conjunction of a particular
state with another preceding it in the world of sense, the former
following the latter by virtue of a law. Now, as the causality of
phenomena is subject to conditions of time, and the preceding state,
if it had always existed, could not have produced an effect which
would make its first appearance at a particular time, the causality
of a cause must itself be an effect--must itself have begun to be,
and therefore, according to the principle of the understanding, itself
requires a cause.

We must understand, on the contrary, by the term freedom, in the
cosmological sense, a faculty of the spontaneous origination of a
state; the causality of which, therefore, is not subordinated to
another cause determining it in time. Freedom is in this sense a
pure transcendental idea, which, in the first place, contains no
empirical element; the object of which, in the second place, cannot
be given or determined in any experience, because it is a universal
law of the very possibility of experience, that everything which happens
must have a cause, that consequently the causality of a cause, being
itself something that has happened, must also have a cause. In this
view of the case, the whole field of experience, how far soever it
may extend, contains nothing that is not subject to the laws of nature.
But, as we cannot by this means attain to an absolute totality of
conditions in reference to the series of causes and effects, reason
creates the idea of a spontaneity, which can begin to act of itself,
and without any external cause determining it to action, according
to the natural law of causality.

It is especially remarkable that the practical conception of freedom
is based upon the transcendental idea, and that the question of the
possibility of the former is difficult only as it involves the
consideration of the truth of the latter. Freedom, in the practical
sense, is the independence of the will of coercion by sensuous
impulses. A will is sensuous, in so far as it is pathologically
affected (by sensuous impulses); it is termed animal (arbitrium
brutum), when it is pathologically necessitated. The human will is
certainly an arbitrium sensitivum, not brutum, but liberum; because
sensuousness does not necessitate its action, a faculty existing in
man of self-determination, independently of all sensuous coercion.

It is plain that, if all causality in the world of sense were
natural--and natural only--every event would be determined by
another according to necessary laws, and that, consequently,
phenomena, in so far as they determine the will, must necessitate
every action as a natural effect from themselves; and thus all
practical freedom would fall to the ground with the transcendental
idea. For the latter presupposes that although a certain thing has
not happened, it ought to have happened, and that, consequently, its
phenomenal cause was not so powerful and determinative as to exclude
the causality of our will--a causality capable of producing effects
independently of and even in opposition to the power of natural
causes, and capable, consequently, of spontaneously originating a
series of events.

Here, too, we find it to be the case, as we generally found in the
self-contradictions and perplexities of a reason which strives to pass
the bounds of possible experience, that the problem is properly not
physiological, but transcendental. The question of the possibility
of freedom does indeed concern psychology; but, as it rests upon
dialectical arguments of pure reason, its solution must engage the
attention of transcendental philosophy. Before attempting this
solution, a task which transcendental philosophy cannot decline, it
will be advisable to make a remark with regard to its procedure in
the settlement of the question.

If phenomena were things in themselves, and time and space forms
of the existence of things, condition and conditioned would always
be members of the same series; and thus would arise in the present
case the antinomy common to all transcendental ideas--that their
series is either too great or too small for the understanding. The
dynamical ideas, which we are about to discuss in this and the
following section, possess the peculiarity of relating to an object,
not considered as a quantity, but as an existence; and thus, in the

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