the ﬁrst sentence of the critique of pure reason: the peculiar fate of human reason.
Reason is not a form of calculation simply applied to diﬀerent subject matters. Establishing general inferences is an
issue of logic, but Reason is far more encompassing than issues of logic.
REASON HAS ITS OWN INNER DYNAMIC,
REASON IS A CAPACITYTHATTHEORETICALLY SEEKS ATOTAL COMPREHENSIVE VIEW OF
IT SEEKS WHAT IS UNCONDITIONED.
we will soon see how these are conﬂicting
practically, reason seeks the highest good.
reason is not a matter of pragmatic calculation
- it has its own inner dynamic, hence it has its own limit and end.
kant's claim is that human reason understood in this way has a peculiar fate: not some kind of remediable mistake
we make in reasoning, something that could be corrected by being more rational or more careful in our thinking.
rather, for kant, this fate is a fundamental dimension of the human condition.
BEING BURDENED BYTHIS FATE IS A CONDITION WE CANNOT ESCAPE
in platonic terms: our reason operated initially in a cave like existence, no certainty, but by means of thinking we
could escape that condition.
- so the ﬁnitude of the human condition was a fault, a lack that could be overcome by philosophical thought.
kant is suggesting that this fate is in fact the fundamental dimension of the human condition, it cannot be escaped.
there is no answering these metaphysical questions in knowledge.
the issue then is HOWIS IT, RATIONALLY,THATWE LIVE OUTTHIS FATE?
second comparison that might be made:
ORIGINAL SIN - in our very way of being there is a fundamental fault, and this fault is essential and intrinsic to
us. theologically interpreted: we understand the good, appreciate that realizing the good is our task/duty, but we also
recognize that we are incapable of realizing the good.
what Kant is doing, overall, is providing us with a remedy to this fault, a remedy that doesn't simply appeal to
theological doctrine (remedied by life death resurrection of christ), he wants to show philosophically how this fault
can be rationa▯y lived out in such a way that in some sense it can be remedied.
In the face of this fault, Kant considers the two alternatives that he takes to be the existing alternatives, neither of
which suﬃces. he sets up these two general categories:
DOGMATISM - in kant's view, dogmatists make claims to metaphysical truth on the basis of reason alone. they
make claims that are before and beyond our worldly experience. one of the meanings of the critique of pure reason
is to show that when the dogmatists base their metaphysics on reason alone, independent of experience, you can
have a coherent system that does not correspond to reality at all. he is critiquing the possibility of establishing
metaphysical truths on the strength of reason alone. That way of proceeding has only a negative criterion of its
truth, if its based on reason alone, is logical coherence. it is a negative criterion in the sense that if you contradict
yourself, if your system is internally incoherent, then presumably you got it wrong. but simply presenting a
coherent system that is internally coherent but unrelated to actual experience does not guarantee that you got it
right. all you have is this negative criterion. the consequence: competing metaphysical systems that are each
internally coherent but also mutually exclusive, making competing opposing claims about the way things are. this
notion of reason being suﬃcient is the ideal that truth is necessarily true apart from the changing and
untrustworthy external world of experience. i.e. 2+2=4 is that kind of truth, it is necessary and holds in all places at
all times. but! it can't be veriﬁed empirically. the claim of universality and necessity means it cannot be veriﬁed by
reference to individual cases and matters of fact. another problem wiht the dogmatist approach: if you base
metaphaphysics on pure reason, kant discovers that reason, unchecked by itself (for reason must examine its own
scope and limits, self critique), ends up in 'antimonian conﬂicts': in other words, it leads to metaphysical claims
that are contradictory and mutually exclusive of its own nature, these antinomies belong to the very nature of
reason. that is why we must subject our reason to an inner critique. a critique of its proper scope and limits.
SKEPTICISM - the alternative: skepticist empiricist alternative. David Hume is closest to what Kant has in mind
as opposed to traditional skeptics. empiricist limits knowledge to experiential claims, and if they aﬃrm universal, necessary claims, those claims are analytic claims (tautologies basically). so the example of two plus two, for the
skeptic, can be asserted as necessarily true not by relation to fact, but rather they are veriﬁed simply by analysis of
the terms involved: if you analyse what is meant by two, by addition, but equals, and by four, you will see that it is
universally true. but thats the only kind of knowledge the skepticist will allow for. hume says 'if we proceed in this
way, and take in hand any volume of divinity or [dogmatic] metaphysics, and ask ourselves 'does it contain any
experimental reasoning of matters of fact?', 'does it contain any abstract reasoning and analysis of the terms?', then
you can throw it in the ﬂames ... sophistry." This gives rise to a four-fold problem (one of the fold's kant does not
1. hume leaves himself no room because his philosophizing is neither mathematical (analytic) nor empirical. this is
the one kant leaves out
2. the empiricist view does not satisfy the need of reason. the skeptic is not concerned with that issue because
they don't think reason has a need. calculating about things, this is reason. no inner dynamic. no goal. so for
hume you can just give up the metaphysical questions because you don't have to consider those questions, there is
something wrong about the questions themselves. but for kant, asking those questions and seeking to answer
them is inexorable and inevitable and fundamentally human. for the skeptic, our reason has no need, it is a slave
of the passions, put in the service of having our desires satisﬁed. as hume's own life attests, you can give up
metaphysical inquiry and spend your time drinking port playing backgammon, so just satisfy your passion.
implicit to that problem is a fundamental issue about human being and human nature: sees humans as a bundle
of desires, the good life being the having those desires satisﬁed, and so to make that work for everyone we need
rules of the game to calculate how we govern eveyrone's means to their ends maximally, but then there is no
limit to our desiring. a petitive desiring animal that is in some sense possessed of reason then has no proper
limit to their desires. THE GOOD LIFE IS THUS UNATTAINABLE CAUSE YOU ALWAYS WANT
MORE. it will never be enough. for kant, in practical (means moral in kant) terms, there is a goal to our
existence: the realization of the highest good here on earth.
3. it undermines the epistemological foundations of natural science. does this by calling into question the validity
of the fundamental principle in terms of which natural science works, or at least how it worked for kant: the
principle of causality. science works on the assumption that every event has a cause. no regularity serves to
establish the causal connection. cause&eﬀect cannot be empirically established, nor is it analytically true. it is
analytically true that every eﬀect has a cause, because the very meaning of eﬀect is to be caused. but the
principle of causality says that every event in the world of nature has a cause. and what the skeptical empiricist (SE)
do is call into question the epistemology of that principle. we have no epistemic grounds to claim that is
universally and necessarily true. so in Kant's view, the SE is caught in a situation where most of the knowledge
worth having is provided by natural science, and yet, at the same time, they call into question the validity of the
principle with which we negotiate the world and for which empiricism can exist. you can't exist by refusing the
principle of causality! Hume is making the ø point that there is no secure ground for claiming universally that
every event has a cause.
4. the SE view reduces to matters of feeling the kind of knowledge that would serve as the basis for morality and
moral life. kant critiques all moral views based on happiness where happiness is having your contingent desires
satisﬁed. as we'll see, for