We will treat two things today:
1. We will make some comments on the problem of metaphysics for Kant, in both senses of the genetive—subjective
genetive: what it is metaphysics poses as a problem, and the objective genetive: the problem with metaphysics.
2. Kant's response to the problem of metaphysics as he poses it. His response is revolutionary. None of
contemporary continental philosophy is understandable without understanding Kant's revolution.
1. kant's deﬁnition of metaphysics
2. awakening from his slumber
3. metaphysics as a science
metaphysics originally meant what was before and beyond sense experience. its truths were truths of reason that
were necessary and universal beyond all matters of fact. our reason can demonstrate that this was the case and had
to be the case with everything that is. that's the understanding that kant takes over.
“What is it then to which metaphysics applies? It must be an object beyond the senses. Metaphysics means beyond
natural science, beyond natural things (meta ta phusika), it means beyond physics (trans physicam). Some have held
that this name is unsuitable and believed that Aristotle named it such because it followed the Physics in his
convolutes. [But] meta here means not “after” but “beyond” and this designation is most ﬁtting and appears to
have been carefully thought out by Aristotle. It is the science of things which go out beyond all appearances, what
lies beyond nature.
- Kant is rejecting either account of what metaphysics is supposed to have originally meant and saying that
beyond-nature is an accurate deﬁnition for the project. meta means not after or beside but beyond. meta means
after, beside, beyond, across in greek. kant is saying meta in the sense of 'beyond' which connects with another
term: 'hyper'. Kant will in fact refer to not metaphysics but hyperphysics in some places, and he means the same
thing: beyond our experience of nature.
for aristotle, metaphysics is FIRST PHILOSOPHY
on the one hand, there is a science, an episteme (a systematic knowledge), that provides a theory of on he on (being as
being). everything that is insofar as it is. in Kant's time, this was called ONTOLOGY. Ontology gave the logos
(systematic theory) of ontos (being as being). But the other part of this was the science of THE FIRST/HIGHEST
BEING, to ontos on, the most beingly of being—that being which had being to the fullest extent. THEOLOGY.
so metaphysics was composed of ontology and theology
- so for aristotle, metaphysics was ontotheology.
why go into all this? KANTWILL HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS: how does, within the problem of metaphysics
as a science, how does beings as beings relate to the question of the highest being. are they to be dealt with in the
same way, as aristotle kind of seems to suggest? some thought only theology was truly metaphysics, beings as
beings is a secondary question. there were some who thought the opposite: only ontology is metaphysics, and
theology was revalatory, beyond any scientiﬁc theory of things.
- in the case of Kant we have to see how these two aspects of metaphysics works together
- in the case of Hegel we will see how he puts them together in an absolute system of knowledge where there is
absolutely no distinction between ontology and theology at all.
- in the face of that we will look at post-hegelian thinkers who in the name of a diﬀerent kind of theology reject
hegel's system, and foolishly reject kant too.
*so in one sense, metaphysics is based on principles not derived from experience and works with concepts likewise
not derived from experience, and that it has to do with objects that are beyond our experience of the physical
world. —but this will be qualiﬁed as we proceed
- he makes a distinction between general metaphysics and speculative metaphysics (speciﬁc form of metaphysics).
in Kant, general metaphysics is Aristotle's ontology—beings as beings, the principles that attain to everything that is
insofar as it is.
in Kant, speculative (speciﬁc) metaphysics is called eigentlich metaphysics, authentic or proper or genuine sense,
metaphysics in its ﬁnal end/purpose, and that has to do with the highest ends of reason: God, Human Being, and
the whole of the natural world. Those inquiries come down to three fundamental things: the question of God, the
question of Freedom, and the question of Immortality.
all three of Kant's major critiques: pure reason, practical reason, judgement, end with a discussion of these three
questions. In metaphysics general sense it inquires into beings and beings, in its speciﬁc sense it deals with the ultimate ends:
god, freedom, immortality.
what's the problem?: for kant, we have no transcendant knowledge of things beyond the bounds of human experience. So if
metaphysics raises questions about subjects beyond the bounds of physical experience, kant says we can't answer
those questions because we can't transcend the bounds of our experience, so it seems on the face of it that
metaphysics is impossible for Kant. general metaphysics asks then about something we can have no knowledge of.
God, for example: no ﬁnite rational being can have general knowledge about God.
- but we can't give up on the questions! we've seen that the skeptical answer doesn't satisfy us. skeptics can't
provide the basis for actual everyday experience and that knowledge we have from science. more importantly, the
very foundations of morality, for kant, requires a sense of duty that is not based on feeling and happenstance.
- so the skeptical and dogmatist answers don't work, but we have to ask these questions that we can't answer.
SO KANTCHANGESTHEWAYTHE QUESTION IS POSED IN ORDERTHATWE CAN IN
SOMEWAYHAVEANANSWER,ANANSWERTHATWILL PROVIDE OUR REASON
WITH COMPLETE SATISFACTIONWITH RESPECTTO QUESTIONS OF GOD,
FREEDOM,AND IMMORTALITYTHATHAVE PLAGUED OUR LUSTFOR
Notice that Kant does not say we have complete satisfaction in knowledge. If we can't have transcendant
knowledge of things then it seems metaphysics in the traditional sense is impossible, and since our reason asks
these questions it c