Immanuel Kant – The Critique of Pure Reason; Part 25

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Of the Ultimate End of the Natural Dialectic of Human Reason

The ideas of pure reason cannot be, of themselves and in their own
Nature, dialectical; it is from their misemployment alone that fallacies
And illusions arise. For they originate in the nature of reason itself
And it is impossible that this supreme tribunal for all the rights and
Claims of speculation should be itself undeserving of confidence and
Promotive of error. It is to be expected, therefore, that these ideas
Have a genuine and legitimate aim. It is true, the mob of sophists raise
Against reason the cry of inconsistency and contradiction, and affect to
Despise the government of that faculty, because they cannot understand
Its constitution, while it is to its beneficial influences alone
That they owe the position and the intelligence which enable them to
Criticize and to blame its procedure

We cannot employ an a priori conception with certainty, until we have
Made a transcendental deduction therefore. The ideas of pure reason do
Not admit of the same kind of deduction as the categories. But if they
Are to possess the least objective validity, and to represent anything
But mere creations of thought (entia rationis ratiocinantis), a
Deduction of them must be possible. This deduction will complete the
Critical task imposed upon pure reason; and it is to this part Of our
Labours that we now proceed

There is a great difference between a thing's being presented to the
Mind as an object in an absolute sense, or merely as an ideal object. In
The former case I employ my conceptions to determine the object; in the
Latter case nothing is present to the mind but a mere schema, which does
Not relate directly to an object, not even in a hypothetical sense, but
Which is useful only for the purpose of representing other objects to
The mind, in a mediate and indirect manner, by means of their relation
To the idea in the intellect. Thus I say the conception of a supreme
Intelligence is a mere idea; that is to say, its objective reality does
Not consist in the fact that it has an immediate relation to an object
(for in this sense we have no means of establishing its objective
Validity), it is merely a schema constructed according to the necessary
Conditions of the unity of reason--the schema of a thing in general
Which is useful towards the production of the highest degree of
Systematic unity in the empirical exercise of reason, in which we deduce
This or that object of experience from the imaginary object of this
Idea, as the ground or cause of the said object of experience. In this
Way, the idea is properly a heuristic, and not an ostensive, conception;
It does not give us any information respecting the constitution of an
Object, it merely indicates how, under the guidance of the idea, we
Ought to investigate the constitution and the relations of objects in
The world of experience. Now, if it can be shown that the three kinds
Of transcendental ideas (psychological, cosmological, and theological)
Although not relating directly to any object nor determining it, do
Nevertheless, on the supposition of the existence of an ideal object
Produce systematic unity in the laws of the empirical employment of
The reason, and extend our empirical cognition, without ever being
Inconsistent or in opposition with it--it must be a necessary maxim
Of reason to regulate its procedure according to these ideas. And this
Forms the transcendental deduction of all speculative ideas, not as
Constitutive principles of the extension of our cognition beyond the
Limits of our experience, but as regulative principles of the systematic
Unity of empirical cognition, which is by the aid of these ideas
Arranged and emended within its own proper limits, to an extent
Unattainable by the operation of the principles of the understanding
Alone

I shall make this plainer. Guided by the principles involved in these
Ideas, we must, in the first place, so connect all the phenomena
Actions, and feelings of the mind, as if it were a simple substance
Which, endowed with personal identity, possesses a permanent existence
(in this life at least), while its states, among which those of the
Body are to be included as external conditions, are in continual change
Secondly, in cosmology, we must investigate the conditions of all
Natural phenomena, internal as well as external, as if they belonged to
A chain infinite and without any prime or supreme member, while we do
Not, on this account, deny the existence of intelligible grounds of
These phenomena, although we never employ them to explain phenomena, for
The simple reason that they are not objects of our cognition. Thirdly
In the sphere of theology, we must regard the whole system of
Possible experience as forming an absolute, but dependent and
Sensuously-conditioned unity, and at the same time as based upon a
Sole, supreme, and all-sufficient ground existing apart from the world
Itself--a ground which is a self-subsistent, primeval and creative
Reason, in relation to which we so employ our reason in the field of
Experience, as if all objects drew their origin from that archetype
Of all reason. In other words, we ought not to deduce the internal
Phenomena of the mind from a simple thinking substance, but deduce them
From each other under the guidance of the regulative idea of a simple
Being; we ought not to deduce the phenomena, order, and unity of the
Universe from a supreme intelligence, but merely draw from this idea
Of a supremely wise cause the rules which must guide reason in its
Connection of causes and effects

Now there is nothing to hinder us from admitting these ideas to possess
An objective and hyperbolic existence, except the cosmological ideas
Which lead reason into an antinomy: the psychological and theological
Ideas are not antinomial. They contain no contradiction; and how, then
Can any one dispute their objective reality, since he who denies it
Knows as little about their possibility as we who affirm? And yet
When we wish to admit the existence of a thing, it is not sufficient to
Convince ourselves that there is no positive obstacle in the way; for
It cannot be allowable to regard mere creations of thought, which
Transcend, though they do not contradict, all our conceptions, as real
And determinate objects, solely upon the authority of a speculative
Reason striving to compass its own aims. They cannot, therefore, be
Admitted to be real in themselves; they can only possess a comparative
Reality--that of a schema of the regulative principle of the systematic
Unity of all cognition. They are to be regarded not as actual things
But as in some measure analogous to them. We abstract from the object
Of the idea all the conditions which limit the exercise of our
Understanding, but which, on the other hand, are the sole conditions of
Our possessing a determinate conception of any given thing. And thus we
Cogitate a something, of the real nature of which we have not the
Least conception, but which we represent to ourselves as standing in a
Relation to the whole system of phenomena, analogous to that in which
Phenomena stand to each other

By admitting these ideal beings, we do not really extend our cognitions
Beyond the objects of possible experience; we extend merely the
Empirical unity of our experience, by the aid of systematic unity, the
Schema of which is furnished by the idea, which is therefore valid--not
As a constitutive, but as a regulative principle. For although we posit
A thing corresponding to the idea--a something, an actual existence--we
Do not on that account aim at the extension of our cognition by means
Of transcendent conceptions. This existence is purely ideal, and not
Objective; it is the mere expression of the systematic unity which is to
Be the guide of reason in the field of experience. There are no attempts
Made at deciding what the ground of this unity may be, or what the real
Nature of this imaginary being

Thus the transcendental and only determinate conception of God, which
Is presented to us by speculative reason, is in the strictest sense
Deistic. In other words, reason does not assure us of the objective
Validity of the conception; it merely gives us the idea of something, on
Which the supreme and necessary unity of all experience is based. This
Something we cannot, following the analogy of a real substance, cogitate
Otherwise than as the cause of all things operating in accordance with
Rational laws, if we regard it as an individual object; although we
Should rest contented with the idea alone as a regulative principle
Of reason, and make no attempt at completing the sum of the conditions
Imposed by thought. This attempt is, indeed, inconsistent with the grand
Aim of complete systematic unity in the sphere of cognition--a unity to
Which no bounds are set by reason

Hence it happens that, admitting a divine being, I can have no
Conception of the internal possibility of its perfection, or of the
Necessity of its existence. The only advantage of this admission is that
It enables me to answer all other questions relating to the contingent
And to give reason the most complete satisfaction as regards the unity
Which it aims at attaining in the world of experience. But I cannot
Satisfy reason with regard to this hypothesis itself; and this proves
That it is not its intelligence and insight into the subject, but its
Speculative interest alone which induces it to proceed from a point
Lying far beyond the sphere of our cognition, for the purpose of being
Able to consider all objects as parts of a systematic whole

Here a distinction presents itself, in regard to the way in which we may
Cogitate a presupposition--a distinction which is somewhat subtle, but
Of great importance in transcendental philosophy. I may have sufficient
Grounds to admit something, or the existence of something, in a
Relative point of view (suppositio relativa), without being justified
In admitting it in an absolute sense (suppositio absoluta). This
Distinction is undoubtedly requisite, in the case of a regulative
Principle, the necessity of which we recognize, though we are ignorant
Of the source and cause of that necessity, and which we assume to
Be based upon some ultimate ground, for the purpose of being able to
Cogitate the universality of the principle in a more determinate way
For example, I cogitate the existence of a being corresponding to a
Pure transcendental idea. But I cannot admit that this being exists
Absolutely and in itself, because all of the conceptions by which I can
Cogitate an object in a determinate manner fall short of assuring me
Of its existence; nay, the conditions of the objective validity of my
Conceptions are excluded by the idea--by the very fact of its being an
Idea. The conceptions of reality, substance, causality, nay, even that
Of necessity in existence, have no significance out of the sphere of
Empirical cognition, and cannot, beyond that sphere, determine any
Object. They may, accordingly, be employed to explain the possibility of
Things in the world of sense, but they are utterly inadequate to explain
The possibility of the universe itself considered as a whole; because
In this case the ground of explanation must lie out of and beyond the
World, and cannot, therefore, be an object of possible experience
Now, I may admit the existence of an incomprehensible being of this
Nature--the object of a mere idea, relatively to the world of sense;
Although I have no ground to admit its existence absolutely and in
Itself. For if an idea (that of a systematic and complete unity, of
Which I shall presently speak more particularly) lies at the foundation
Of the most extended empirical employment of reason, and if this
Idea cannot be adequately represented in concreto, although it is
Indispensably necessary for the approximation of empirical unity to the
Highest possible degree--I am not only authorized, but compelled
To realize this idea, that is, to posit a real object corresponding
Thereto. But I cannot profess to know this object; it is to me merely a
Something, to which, as the ground of systematic unity in cognition, I
Attribute such properties as are analogous to the conceptions employed
By the understanding in the sphere of experience. Following the analogy
Of the notions of reality, substance, causality, and necessity, I
Cogitate a being, which possesses all these attributes in the highest
Degree; and, as this idea is the offspring of my reason alone, I
Cogitate this being as self-subsistent reason, and as the cause of the
Universe operating by means of ideas of the greatest possible harmony
And unity. Thus I abstract all conditions that would limit my idea
Solely for the purpose of rendering systematic unity possible in the
World of empirical diversity, and thus securing the widest possible
Extension for the exercise of reason in that sphere. This I am enabled
To do, by regarding all connections and relations in the world of sense
As if they were the dispositions of a supreme reason, of which our
Reason is but a faint image. I then proceed to cogitate this Supreme
Being by conceptions which have, properly, no meaning or application
Except in the world of sense. But as I am authorized to employ the
Transcendental hypothesis of such a being in a relative respect
Alone, that is, as the substratum of the greatest possible unity in
Experience--I may attribute to a being which I regard as distinct from
The world, such properties as belong solely to the sphere of sense and
Experience. For I do not desire, and am not justified in desiring, to
Cognize this object of my idea, as it exists in itself; for I possess
No conceptions sufficient for or task, those of reality, substance
Causality, nay, even that of necessity in existence, losing all
Significance, and becoming merely the signs of conceptions, without
Content and without applicability, when I attempt to carry them beyond
The limits of the world of sense. I cogitate merely the relation of a
Perfectly unknown being to the greatest possible systematic unity of
Experience, solely for the purpose of employing it as the schema of the
Regulative principle which directs reason in its empirical exercise

It is evident, at the first view, that we cannot presuppose the reality
Of this transcendental object, by means of the conceptions of reality
Substance, causality, and so on, because these conceptions cannot be
Applied to anything that is distinct from the world of sense. Thus
The supposition of a Supreme Being or cause is purely relative; it is
Cogitated only in behalf of the systematic unity of experience; such a
Being is but a something, of whose existence in itself we have not the
Least conception. Thus, too, it becomes sufficiently manifest why we
Required the idea of a necessary being in relation to objects given by
Sense, although we can never have the least conception of this being, or
Of its absolute necessity

And now we can clearly perceive the result of our transcendental
Dialectic, and the proper aim of the ideas of pure reason--which become
Dialectical solely from misunderstanding and inconsiderateness. Pure
Reason is, in fact, occupied with itself, and not with any object
Objects are not presented to it to be embraced in the unity of an
Empirical conception; it is only the cognitions of the understanding
That are presented to it, for the purpose of receiving the unity of
A rational conception, that is, of being connected according to
A principle. The unity of reason is the unity of system; and this
Systematic unity is not an objective principle, extending its dominion
Over objects, but a subjective maxim, extending its authority over the
Empirical cognition of objects. The systematic connection which reason
Gives to the empirical employment of the understanding not only advances
The extension of that employment, but ensures its correctness, and thus
The principle of a systematic unity of this nature is also objective
Although only in an indefinite respect (principium vagum). It is not
However, a constitutive principle, determining an object to which
It directly relates; it is merely a regulative principle or maxim
Advancing and strengthening the empirical exercise of reason, by the
Opening up of new paths of which the understanding is ignorant, while
It never conflicts with the laws of its exercise in the sphere of
Experience

But reason cannot cogitate this systematic unity, without at the
Same time cogitating an object of the idea--an object that cannot be
Presented in any experience, which contains no concrete example of a
Complete systematic unity. This being (ens rationis ratiocinatae) is
Therefore a mere idea and is not assumed to be a thing which is
Real absolutely and in itself. On the contrary, it forms merely the
Problematical foundation of the connection which the mind introduces
Among the phenomena of the sensuous world. We look upon this connection
In the light of the above-mentioned idea, as if it drew its origin from
The supposed being which corresponds to the idea. And yet all we aim at
Is the possession of this idea as a secure foundation for the systematic
Unity of experience--a unity indispensable to reason, advantageous
To the understanding, and promotive of the interests of empirical
Cognition

We mistake the true meaning of this idea when we regard it as an
Enouncement, or even as a hypothetical declaration of the existence of
A real thing, which we are to regard as the origin or ground of a
Systematic constitution of the universe. On the contrary, it is left
Completely undetermined what the nature or properties of this so-called
Ground may be. The idea is merely to be adopted as a point of view
From which this unity, so essential to reason and so beneficial to
The understanding, may be regarded as radiating. In one word, this
Transcendental thing is merely the schema of a regulative principle, by
Means of which Reason, so far as in her lies, extends the dominion of
Systematic unity over the whole sphere of experience

The first object of an idea of this kind is the ego, considered merely
As a thinking nature or soul. If I wish to investigate the properties of
A thinking being, I must interrogate experience. But I find that I
Can apply none of the categories to this object, the schema of these
Categories, which is the condition of their application, being given
Only in sensuous intuition. But I cannot thus attain to the cognition of
A systematic unity of all the phenomena of the internal sense. Instead
Therefore, of an empirical conception of what the soul really is, reason
Takes the conception of the empirical unity of all thought, and, by
Cogitating this unity as unconditioned and primitive, constructs the
Rational conception or idea of a simple substance which is in itself
Unchangeable, possessing personal identity, and in connection with other
Real things external to it; in one word, it constructs the idea of a
Simple self-subsistent intelligence. But the real aim of reason in this
Procedure is the attainment of principles of systematic unity for the
Explanation of the phenomena of the soul. That is, reason desires to
Be able to represent all the determinations of the internal sense as
Existing in one subject, all powers as deduced from one fundamental
Power, all changes as mere varieties in the condition of a being which
Is permanent and always the same, and all phenomena in space as entirely
Different in their nature from the procedure of thought. Essential
Simplicity (with the other attributes predicated of the ego) is regarded
As the mere schema of this regulative principle; it is not assumed
That it is the actual ground of the properties of the soul. For these
Properties may rest upon quite different grounds, of which we are
Completely ignorant; just as the above predicates could not give us any
Knowledge of the soul as it is in itself, even if we regarded them as
Valid in respect of it, inasmuch as they constitute a mere idea, which
Cannot be represented in concreto. Nothing but good can result from
A psychological idea of this kind, if we only take proper care not to
Consider it as more than an idea; that is, if we regard it as valid
Merely in relation to the employment of reason, in the sphere of the
Phenomena of the soul. Under the guidance of this idea, or principle
No empirical laws of corporeal phenomena are called in to explain that
Which is a phenomenon of the internal sense alone; no windy hypotheses
Of the generation, annihilation, and palingenesis of souls are admitted
Thus the consideration of this object of the internal sense is kept
Pure, and unmixed with heterogeneous elements; while the investigation
Of reason aims at reducing all the grounds of explanation employed
In this sphere of knowledge to a single principle. All this is best
Effected, nay, cannot be effected otherwise than by means of such
A schema, which requires us to regard this ideal thing as an actual
Existence. The psychological idea is, therefore, meaningless and
Inapplicable, except as the schema of a regulative conception. For, if
I ask whether the soul is not really of a spiritual nature--it is
A question which has no meaning. From such a conception has been
Abstracted, not merely all corporeal nature, but all nature, that is
All the predicates of a possible experience; and consequently, all the
Conditions which enable us to cogitate an object to this conception have
Disappeared. But, if these conditions are absent, it is evident that the
Conception is meaningless

The second regulative idea of speculative reason is the conception of
The universe. For nature is properly the only object presented to us
In regard to which reason requires regulative principles. Nature is
Twofold--thinking and corporeal nature. To cogitate the latter in regard
To its internal possibility, that is, to determine the application
Of the categories to it, no idea is required--no representation which
Transcends experience. In this sphere, therefore, an idea is impossible
Sensuous intuition being our only guide; while, in the sphere of
Psychology, we require the fundamental idea (I), which contains a priori
A certain form of thought namely, the unity of the ego. Pure reason has
Therefore, nothing left but nature in general, and the completeness of
Conditions in nature in accordance with some principle. The absolute
Totality of the series of these conditions is an idea, which can never
Be fully realized in the empirical exercise of reason, while it is
Serviceable as a rule for the procedure of reason in relation to that
Totality. It requires us, in the explanation of given phenomena (in
The regress or ascent in the series), to proceed as if the series were
Infinite in itself, that is, were prolonged in indefinitum; while on
The other hand, where reason is regarded as itself the determining cause
(in the region of freedom), we are required to proceed as if we had not
Before us an object of sense, but of the pure understanding. In this
Latter case, the conditions do not exist in the series of phenomena, but
May be placed quite out of and beyond it, and the series of conditions
May be regarded as if it had an absolute beginning from an intelligible
Cause. All this proves that the cosmological ideas are nothing but
Regulative principles, and not constitutive; and that their aim is not
To realize an actual totality in such series. The full discussion of
This subject will be found in its proper place in the chapter on the
Antinomy of pure reason

The third idea of pure reason, containing the hypothesis of a being
Which is valid merely as a relative hypothesis, is that of the one and
All-sufficient cause of all cosmological series, in other words, the
Idea of God. We have not the slightest ground absolutely to admit the
Existence of an object corresponding to this idea; for what can empower
Or authorize us to affirm the existence of a being of the highest
Perfection--a being whose existence is absolutely necessary--merely
Because we possess the conception of such a being? The answer is: It is
The existence of the world which renders this hypothesis necessary. But
This answer makes it perfectly evident that the idea of this being, like
All other speculative ideas, is essentially nothing more than a demand
Upon reason that it shall regulate the connection which it and its
Subordinate faculties introduce into the phenomena of the world by
Principles of systematic unity and, consequently, that it shall regard
All phenomena as originating from one all-embracing being, as the
Supreme and all-sufficient cause. From this it is plain that the only
Aim of reason in this procedure is the establishment of its own formal
Rule for the extension of its dominion in the world of experience; that
It does not aim at an extension of its cognition beyond the limits
Of experience; and that, consequently, this idea does not contain any
Constitutive principle

The highest formal unity, which is based upon ideas alone, is the unity
Of all things--a unity in accordance with an aim or purpose; and the
Speculative interest of reason renders it necessary to regard all order
In the world as if it originated from the intention and design of a
Supreme reason. This principle unfolds to the view of reason in the
Sphere of experience new and enlarged prospects, and invites it to
Connect the phenomena of the world according to teleological laws
And in this way to attain to the highest possible degree of systematic
Unity. The hypothesis of a supreme intelligence, as the sole cause of
The universe--an intelligence which has for us no more than an ideal
Existence--is accordingly always of the greatest service to reason
Thus, if we presuppose, in relation to the figure of the earth (which
Is round, but somewhat flattened at the poles),* or that of mountains or
Seas, wise designs on the part of an author of the universe, we cannot
Fail to make, by the light of this supposition, a great number of
Interesting discoveries. If we keep to this hypothesis, as a principle
Which is purely regulative, even error cannot be very detrimental. For
In this case, error can have no more serious consequences than that
Where we expected to discover a teleological connection (nexus finalis)
Only a mechanical or physical connection appears. In such a case, we
Merely fail to find the additional form of unity we expected, but we do
Not lose the rational unity which the mind requires in its procedure in
Experience. But even a miscarriage of this sort cannot affect the law in
Its general and teleological relations. For although we may convict an
Anatomist of an error, when he connects the limb of some animal with a
Certain purpose, it is quite impossible to prove in a single case that
Any arrangement of nature, be it what it may, is entirely without aim or
Design. And thus medical physiology, by the aid of a principle presented
To it by pure reason, extends its very limited empirical knowledge of
The purposes of the different parts of an organized body so far that it
May be asserted with the utmost confidence, and with the approbation of
All reflecting men, that every organ or bodily part of an animal has its
Use and answers a certain design. Now, this is a supposition which
If regarded as of a constitutive character, goes much farther than any
Experience or observation of ours can justify. Hence it is evident that
It is nothing more than a regulative principle of reason, which aims
At the highest degree of systematic unity, by the aid of the idea of
A causality according to design in a supreme cause--a cause which it
Regards as the highest intelligence

If, however, we neglect this restriction of the idea to a purely
Regulative influence, reason is betrayed into numerous errors. For it
Has then left the ground of experience, in which alone are to be
Found the criteria of truth, and has ventured into the region of the
Incomprehensible and unsearchable, on the heights of which it loses
Its power and collectedness, because it has completely severed its
Connection with experience

The first error which arises from our employing the idea of a Supreme
Being as a constitutive (in repugnance to the very nature of an idea)
And not as a regulative principle, is the error of inactive reason
(ignava ratio).* We may so term every principle which requires us to
Regard our investigations of nature as absolutely complete, and allows
Reason to cease its inquiries, as if it had fully executed its task
Thus the psychological idea of the ego, when employed as a constitutive
Principle for the explanation of the phenomena of the soul, and for the
Extension of our knowledge regarding this subject beyond the limits of
Experience--even to the condition of the soul after death--is convenient
Enough for the purposes of pure reason, but detrimental and even ruinous
To its interests in the sphere of nature and experience. The dogmatizing
Spiritualist explains the unchanging unity of our personality through
All changes of condition from the unity of a thinking substance, the
Interest which we take in things and events that can happen only after
Our death, from a consciousness of the immaterial nature of our thinking
Subject, and so on. Thus he dispenses with all empirical investigations
Into the cause of these internal phenomena, and with all possible
Explanations of them upon purely natural grounds; while, at the
Dictation of a transcendent reason, he passes by the immanent sources of
Cognition in experience, greatly to his own ease and convenience, but
To the sacrifice of all, genuine insight and intelligence. These
Prejudicial consequences become still more evident, in the case of the
Dogmatical treatment of our idea of a Supreme Intelligence, and the
Theological system of nature (physico-theology) which is falsely based
Upon it. For, in this case, the aims which we observe in nature, and
Often those which we merely fancy to exist, make the investigation
Of causes a very easy task, by directing us to refer such and such
Phenomena immediately to the unsearchable will and counsel of the
Supreme Wisdom, while we ought to investigate their causes in the
General laws of the mechanism of matter. We are thus recommended to
Consider the labour of reason as ended, when we have merely dispensed
With its employment, which is guided surely and safely only by the order
Of nature and the series of changes in the world--which are arranged
According to immanent and general laws. This error may be avoided, if we
Do not merely consider from the view-point of final aims certain parts
Of nature, such as the division and structure of a continent, the
Constitution and direction of certain mountain-chains, or even the
Organization existing in the vegetable and animal kingdoms, but look
Upon this systematic unity of nature in a perfectly general way, in
Relation to the idea of a Supreme Intelligence. If we pursue this
Advice, we lay as a foundation for all investigation the conformity to
Aims of all phenomena of nature in accordance with universal laws, for
Which no particular arrangement of nature is exempt, but only cognized
By us with more or less difficulty; and we possess a regulative
Principle of the systematic unity of a teleological connection, which we
Do not attempt to anticipate or predetermine. All that we do, and ought
To do, is to follow out the physico-mechanical connection in nature
According to general laws, with the hope of discovering, sooner or
Later, the teleological connection also. Thus, and thus only, can the
Principle of final unity aid in the extension of the employment
Of reason in the sphere of experience, without being in any case
Detrimental to its interests

The second error which arises from the misconception of the principle
Of systematic unity is that of perverted reason (perversa ratio, usteron
Roteron rationis). The idea of systematic unity is available as a
Regulative principle in the connection of phenomena according to general
Natural laws; and, how far soever we have to travel upon the path of
Experience to discover some fact or event, this idea requires us to
Believe that we have approached all the more nearly to the completion of
Its use in the sphere of nature, although that completion can never be
Attained. But this error reverses the procedure of reason. We begin
By hypostatizing the principle of systematic unity, and by giving
An anthropomorphic determination to the conception of a Supreme
Intelligence, and then proceed forcibly to impose aims upon nature. Thus
Not only does teleology, which ought to aid in the completion of unity
In accordance with general laws, operate to the destruction of its
Influence, but it hinders reason from attaining its proper aim, that
Is, the proof, upon natural grounds, of the existence of a supreme
Intelligent cause. For, if we cannot presuppose supreme finality in
Nature a priori, that is, as essentially belonging to nature, how can
We be directed to endeavour to discover this unity and, rising gradually
Through its different degrees, to approach the supreme perfection of an
Author of all--a perfection which is absolutely necessary, and therefore
Cognizable a priori? The regulative principle directs us to presuppose
Systematic unity absolutely and, consequently, as following from the
Essential nature of things--but only as a unity of nature, not merely
Cognized empirically, but presupposed a priori, although only in
An indeterminate manner. But if I insist on basing nature upon the
Foundation of a supreme ordaining Being, the unity of nature is in
Effect lost. For, in this case, it is quite foreign and unessential to
The nature of things, and cannot be cognized from the general laws of
Nature. And thus arises a vicious circular argument, what ought to have
Been proved having been presupposed

To take the regulative principle of systematic unity in nature for a
Constitutive principle, and to hypostatize and make a cause out of that
Which is properly the ideal ground of the consistent and harmonious
Exercise of reason, involves reason in inextricable embarrassments. The
Investigation of nature pursues its own path under the guidance of the
Chain of natural causes, in accordance with the general laws of nature
And ever follows the light of the idea of an author of the universe--not
For the purpose of deducing the finality, which it constantly pursues
From this Supreme Being, but to attain to the cognition of his existence
From the finality which it seeks in the existence of the phenomena of
Nature, and, if possible, in that of all things to cognize this being
Consequently, as absolutely necessary. Whether this latter purpose
Succeed or not, the idea is and must always be a true one, and its
Employment, when merely regulative, must always be accompanied by
Truthful and beneficial results

Complete unity, in conformity with aims, constitutes absolute
Perfection. But if we do not find this unity in the nature of the things
Which go to constitute the world of experience, that is, of objective
Cognition, consequently in the universal and necessary laws of nature
How can we infer from this unity the idea of the supreme and absolutely
Necessary perfection of a primal being, which is the origin of all
Causality? The greatest systematic unity, and consequently teleological
Unity, constitutes the very foundation of the possibility of the most
Extended employment of human reason. The idea of unity is therefore
Essentially and indissolubly connected with the nature of our reason
This idea is a legislative one; and hence it is very natural that we
Should assume the existence of a legislative reason corresponding to it
From which the systematic unity of nature--the object of the operations
Of reason--must be derived

In the course of our discussion of the antinomies, we stated that it is
Always possible to answer all the questions which pure reason may raise;
And that the plea of the limited nature of our cognition, which is
Unavoidable and proper in many questions regarding natural phenomena
Cannot in this case be admitted, because the questions raised do not
Relate to the nature of things, but are necessarily originated by the
Nature of reason itself, and relate to its own internal constitution. We
Can now establish this assertion, which at first sight appeared so rash
In relation to the two questions in which reason takes the greatest
Interest, and thus complete our discussion of the dialectic of pure
Reason

If, then, the question is asked, in relation to transcendental
Theology,* first, whether there is anything distinct from the world
Which contains the ground of cosmical order and connection according
To general laws? The answer is: Certainly. For the world is a sum of
Phenomena; there must, therefore, be some transcendental basis of these
Phenomena, that is, a basis cogitable by the pure understanding alone
If, secondly, the question is asked whether this being is substance
Whether it is of the greatest reality, whether it is necessary, and so
Forth? I answer that this question is utterly without meaning. For all
The categories which aid me in forming a conception of an object cannot
Be employed except in the world of sense, and are without meaning when
Not applied to objects of actual or possible experience. Out of this
Sphere, they are not properly conceptions, but the mere marks or indices
Of conceptions, which we may admit, although they cannot, without the
Help of experience, help us to understand any subject or thing. If
Thirdly, the question is whether we may not cogitate this being, which
Is distinct from the world, in analogy with the objects of experience?
The answer is: Undoubtedly, but only as an ideal, and not as a real
Object. That is, we must cogitate it only as an unknown substratum of
The systematic unity, order, and finality of the world--a unity which
Reason must employ as the regulative principle of its investigation of
Nature. Nay, more, we may admit into the idea certain anthropomorphic
Elements, which are promotive of the interests of this regulative
Principle. For it is no more than an idea, which does not relate
Directly to a being distinct from the world, but to the regulative
Principle of the systematic unity of the world, by means, however, of a
Schema of this unity--the schema of a Supreme Intelligence, who is the
Wisely-designing author of the universe. What this basis of cosmical
Unity may be in itself, we know not--we cannot discover from the
Idea; we merely know how we ought to employ the idea of this unity
In relation to the systematic operation of reason in the sphere of
Experience

But, it will be asked again, can we on these grounds, admit the
Existence of a wise and omnipotent author of the world? Without doubt;
And not only so, but we must assume the existence of such a being
But do we thus extend the limits of our knowledge beyond the field
Of possible experience? By no means. For we have merely presupposed a
Something, of which we have no conception, which we do not know as it
Is in itself; but, in relation to the systematic disposition of the
Universe, which we must presuppose in all our observation of nature
We have cogitated this unknown being in analogy with an intelligent
Existence (an empirical conception), that is to say, we have endowed it
With those attributes, which, judging from the nature of our own
Reason, may contain the ground of such a systematic unity. This idea is
Therefore valid only relatively to the employment in experience of our
Reason. But if we attribute to it absolute and objective validity, we
Overlook the fact that it is merely an ideal being that we cogitate;
And, by setting out from a basis which is not determinable by
Considerations drawn from experience, we place ourselves in a position
Which incapacitates us from applying this principle to the empirical
Employment of reason

But, it will be asked further, can I make any use of this conception and
Hypothesis in my investigations into the world and nature? Yes, for this
Very purpose was the idea established by reason as a fundamental basis
But may I regard certain arrangements, which seemed to have been made in
Conformity with some fixed aim, as the arrangements of design, and look
Upon them as proceeding from the divine will, with the intervention
However, of certain other particular arrangements disposed to that
End? Yes, you may do so; but at the same time you must regard it as
Indifferent, whether it is asserted that divine wisdom has disposed all
Things in conformity with his highest aims, or that the idea of supreme
Wisdom is a regulative principle in the investigation of nature, and at
The same time a principle of the systematic unity of nature according to
General laws, even in those cases where we are unable to discover that
Unity. In other words, it must be perfectly indifferent to you whether
You say, when you have discovered this unity: God has wisely willed
It so; or: Nature has wisely arranged this. For it was nothing but the
Systematic unity, which reason requires as a basis for the investigation
Of nature, that justified you in accepting the idea of a supreme
Intelligence as a schema for a regulative principle; and, the farther
You advance in the discovery of design and finality, the more certain
The validity of your idea. But, as the whole aim of this regulative
Principle was the discovery of a necessary and systematic unity in
Nature, we have, in so far as we attain this, to attribute our success
To the idea of a Supreme Being; while, at the same time, we cannot
Without involving ourselves in contradictions, overlook the general
Laws of nature, as it was in reference to them alone that this idea was
Employed. We cannot, I say, overlook the general laws of nature, and
Regard this conformity to aims observable in nature as contingent or
Hyperphysical in its origin; inasmuch as there is no ground which can
Justify us in the admission of a being with such properties distinct
From and above nature. All that we are authorized to assert is that
This idea may be employed as a principle, and that the properties of
The being which is assumed to correspond to it may be regarded as
Systematically connected in analogy with the causal determination of
Phenomena

For the same reasons we are justified in introducing into the idea of
The supreme cause other anthropomorphic elements (for without these we
Could not predicate anything of it); we may regard it as allowable
To cogitate this cause as a being with understanding, the feelings of
Pleasure and displeasure, and faculties of desire and will corresponding
To these. At the same time, we may attribute to this being infinite
Perfection--a perfection which necessarily transcends that which our
Knowledge of the order and design in the world authorize us to predicate
Of it. For the regulative law of systematic unity requires us to study
Nature on the supposition that systematic and final unity in infinitum
Is everywhere discoverable, even in the highest diversity. For, although
We may discover little of this cosmical perfection, it belongs to the
Legislative prerogative of reason to require us always to seek for
And to expect it; while it must always be beneficial to institute all
Inquiries into nature in accordance with this principle. But it is
Evident that, by this idea of a supreme author of all, which I place as
The foundation of all inquiries into nature, I do not mean to assert
The existence of such a being, or that I have any knowledge of its
Existence; and, consequently, I do not really deduce anything from the
Existence of this being, but merely from its idea, that is to say, from
The nature of things in this world, in accordance with this idea. A
Certain dim consciousness of the true use of this idea seems to have
Dictated to the philosophers of all times the moderate language used
By them regarding the cause of the world. We find them employing
The expressions wisdom and care of nature, and divine wisdom, as
Synonymous--nay, in purely speculative discussions, preferring the
Former, because it does not carry the appearance of greater pretensions
Than such as we are entitled to make, and at the same time directs
Reason to its proper field of action--nature and her phenomena

Thus, pure reason, which at first seemed to promise us nothing less
Than the extension of our cognition beyond the limits of experience
Is found, when thoroughly examined, to contain nothing but regulative
Principles, the virtue and function of which is to introduce into our
Cognition a higher degree of unity than the understanding could of
Itself. These principles, by placing the goal of all our struggles at
So great a distance, realize for us the most thorough connection
Between the different parts of our cognition, and the highest degree of
Systematic unity. But, on the other hand, if misunderstood and employed
As constitutive principles of transcendent cognition, they become the
Parents of illusions and contradictions, while pretending to introduce
Us to new regions of knowledge

Thus all human cognition begins with intuitions, proceeds from thence to
Conceptions, and ends with ideas. Although it possesses, in relation
To all three elements, a priori sources of cognition, which seemed
To transcend the limits of all experience, a thoroughgoing criticism
Demonstrates that speculative reason can never, by the aid of these
Elements, pass the bounds of possible experience, and that the proper
Destination of this highest faculty of cognition is to employ all
Methods, and all the principles of these methods, for the purpose of
Penetrating into the innermost secrets of nature, by the aid of the
Principles of unity (among all kinds of which teleological unity is
The highest), while it ought not to attempt to soar above the sphere of
Experience, beyond which there lies nought for us but the void inane
The critical examination, in our Transcendental Analytic, of all the
Propositions which professed to extend cognition beyond the sphere of
Experience, completely demonstrated that they can only conduct us to
A possible experience. If we were not distrustful even of the clearest
Abstract theorems, if we were not allured by specious and inviting
Prospects to escape from the constraining power of their evidence, we
Might spare ourselves the laborious examination of all the dialectical
Arguments which a transcendent reason adduces in support of its
Pretensions; for we should know with the most complete certainty that
However honest such professions might be, they are null and valueless
Because they relate to a kind of knowledge to which no man can by any
Possibility attain. But, as there is no end to discussion, if we cannot
Discover the true cause of the illusions by which even the wisest are
Deceived, and as the analysis of all our transcendent cognition into its
Elements is of itself of no slight value as a psychological study, while
It is a duty incumbent on every philosopher--it was found necessary to
Investigate the dialectical procedure of reason in its primary sources
And as the inferences of which this dialectic is the parent are not only
Deceitful, but naturally possess a profound interest for humanity, it
Was advisable at the same time, to give a full account of the momenta of
This dialectical procedure, and to deposit it in the archives of human
Reason, as a warning to all future metaphysicians to avoid these causes
Of speculative error

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