Transition Hume to Kant — Effect of Kant on natural theology — The centre of Kant's thought — Hume led to this — Causal necessity — That necessity objective — Still in matters of fact — Relations of ideas — Hume on one side Kant on the other of the dilemma — Hume quite as Reid on natural necessity — But what the explanation to intellectual insight — Synthetic addition — Analytic implication — Change — Kant's explanation is There are à priori syntheses native to the mind — The whole Kantian machinery in a sentence — Time and space — The twelve categories and the three ideas — A toy house — A peculiar magic lantern — A psychology — A metaphysic — Analysis of the syllogism for the ideas — Simple apprehension missed — An idea — The ideal — The teleological proof.
Gifford Lecture the Fifteenth.
THERE can be no straighter or nearer transition than from David Hume to Immanuel Kant. The latter does himself claim the former as his direct and immediate predecessor. This is true too not only in the reference generally to philosophy hut in that particularly to the special subject presently before us. Perhaps not in English but certainly in translations Kant (very evidently) is perfectly familiar with Hume's main doctrines in regard to the existence of a God; nor do his own results differ much from those of his forerunner otherwise than in weight and authority. It was principally because of these results namely that the Alleszer-malmender the everything-to-pieces-pounding Kant received his title. Kant's countrymen unlike their neighbours the French are not reputed to be particularly versatile; nevertheless it seems certain that not long after reading his three chapters on the impossibility of each of the three proofs for the existence of God most of them who were at least of the same guild with Kant suddenly ceased or were even ashamed to mention the subject. For them the whole science of Natural Theology had in a moment passed silently into the limbo of the lost. And so it is that it is of greater importance for us to put to scrutiny the relative views of Kant than even those of Hume. At all to effect this with any satisfaction however requires that we should preliminarily know at least the spirit of the system from which these views naturally take origin. That may sound ominous; but I do not know that what is concerned may not be put simply and intelligibly enough.
The centre of Kant is to say so the à priori—those elements of knowledge those elements of the ordinary perception of things that are native and proper to the mind itself even before or independently and in anticipation of any actual experience of these things. That is what is meant by pure reason. Our minds shall be at birth not as with Locke so many tabulae rasae so many mere blank sheets for things to write themselves into so many empty bags or sacks for things to occupy; but on the contrary they shall be already beforehand rich quarries filled as it were with the needful handles and cues of all things. What led Kant to this was Hume. Hume as we know took the cause as one thing and the effect as another; and holding them out so apart challenged any man to show any principle of union between them. Without experience of the fact it is impossible to tell that gunpowder will explode or a loadstone attract. Consequently it is only by the custom of experience that we know the effect of the one on iron or the consequence on the other of a spark. Kant was deeply impressed by such examples and the general challenge of Hume. He admits himself that he brooded over the problem concerned for “at least twelve years;” and of that brooding I think it is possible to detect traces as early as the year 1766 or fifteen years before the publication of his Kritik of Pure Reason. What in the end prevented Kant from agreeing with Hume in his rationale custom was perception of the nature of the necessity which was involved in the problem. That necessity Kant saw was not a subjective but an objective necessity. The necessity by which when I think A I cannot help thinking also B C D; or when I think 1 then also 2 3 4—that necessity as being only one of habitual association in me is a subjective necessity. But; when I think of an eclipse of the sun as following the intervention of the moon I do not think of a necessity subjective a necessity for no other reason than habitual association of my own. On the contrary I think of a necessity objective of a necessity that exists independently of me and without any reference to me or my feelings in any way. In short I know that the moon coming between me and the light casts its shadow upon me and must cast its shadow upon me; which is an event and an entire resultant necessity utterly independent of me and of any way in which I may be pleased to regard it. In the same way when I see a bridge overthrown by a river in flood it is impossible for me to think the necessity involved to proceed from custom—to depend on the influence of custom. I cannot think that necessity a subjective necessity in me but on the contrary an objective necessity in the facts themselves. This then is what occurred to Kant in face of the contention of Hume. But then he was obliged to admit at the same time that Hume was right in pointing out that all examples of causality were but matters of fact in regard to which as matters of fact we know that they are or are as they are but not that they must be. Cork floats coal burns etc. etc.; we know the fact or the event; but we did not know the fact or the event in any case until we tried it; then and then only we knew that the propositions cork floats coal burns were true; but we did not know and we know not now that they must be true. Cork might not float coal might not burn: we see no necessity for cork to float or for coal to burn. But all examples of causality are just such facts as the matters of fact that cork floats or coal burns; and yet the proposition concerned in every one single example of causality is as necessary as apodictically necessary as any proposition dependent on what are called relations of ideas and which accordingly is intuitively known to carry or involve the necessity in question. It was precisely this peculiarity that struck both Hume and Kant. Both saw that all examples of causality were only known by experience; and both saw that they all brought with them a suggestion of necessity. Both then further immediately asked how was this? for both knew that experience was only competent to say this thing or that thing is so not this thing or that thing must be so. But both putting the same question in the same circumstances and with the same knowledge came to an answer each which was the contradictory of the other. Hume said As it is an affair of experience alone it can be no affair of necessity. On the contrary said Kant As it is an affair of necessity it can be no affair of experience alone. Hume had no objection whatever to the necessity in question being regarded by us as a natural necessity. He did himself regard it as a natural necessity. Neither did he object to the reference of it as a natural necessity to instinct. On the contrary as a natural necessity he did himself so refer it. And Reid consequently in the case might have profitably spared himself much gratuitous excitement. All that Hume insisted on was that putting aside instinct and asking for an explanation an intelligible reason of the necessity we felt in the inference from the effect to the cause or from the cause to the effect he for his part could discover or detect none but the constant previous conjunction nevertheless that he was quite open to the better explanation and the better reason which another man abler than himself or more fortunate than himself might have succeeded to obtain. That for Hume is his whole relative position; and that for Hume is the whole relative position that remained the same till the end of his life. Not indeed till some five years after the death of Hume was there heard in reply to his challenge the answer of Kant. That answer as we have seen (Hume of the two elements concerned having chosen experience for his fulcrum of support) took up its position ex adverso on the ground left to it of necessity; where the first movement of Kant was to point to this necessity as objective not subjective and withal as in its matter synthetic and not analytic. When you say Every change has its cause you feel that you say something that is as absolutely and necessarily true as when you say that a straight line between any two points is the shortest line. You feel also that you say something that is true not for the same reason that it is true that All windows let in light or that all peninsulas are almost islands. It is the very meaning of a window that it lets in light and it is the very meaning of a peninsula that it is almost an island. These last are analytic propositions for what you allege of the notion the window or the peninsula is involved in the very notion itself—in what it directly means namely. But the notion cause is not in the same way involved in the notion change. A change has a cause; but a change is something on its own account and does not mean a cause in the same way that a window means admission of light or a peninsula approach to an island. The proposition of change therefore is no mere analytic or tautological proposition; and its truth while as certain as that of any such is as certain also as the truth of any non-tautological or synthetic proposition an example of which was the truth that between any two points the straight line is the shortest. Straight is not short; a straight line may be anything but short. The two things are perfectly different; nevertheless the proposition brings them together into a certain identity. So two angles called right are not the same as the three angles of any triangle; just as the two squares on the two sides are not the square on the third side of a certain triangle and the parallelism of two lines is not their continuation into infinity. Nevertheless the two notions respectively concerned in these three examples can be brought however different they are each by itself into a certain common identity. That now is the case with the proposition of causality That every effect or change has its cause. The change is not the cause and the cause is not the change. I may show you a lobster black and leaving the room may return with it red. You see the change then—a thing quite by itself; but even if there be a cause as you will certainly surmise you do not yet know it. I may have plunged the lobster in a bath of acids or I may have boiled it or I may have done some quite other unknown something to it. In a word the change is one thing and the cause another and to bring them together into a relation of identity is an act of synthesis an act that involves a synthetic process or a synthetic proposition.
Here now then we stand before Kant's problem. We may even assume Hume himself to be present and to admit now that his answer was no answer to the necessity concerned and that he is eager to hear Kant's answer.
Well says Kant I have got to find the source of a necessary truth that is not analytic but synthetic and that at the same time is not due to experience. What not due to experience means has been already explained. There is no particular causation no particular example of causality that is not due to experience. The indentation of a cushion by a bullet is an example of causality but it is known only by experience. So it is with all other examples as the drifting of a ship in a stream or the warming of a stone by the sun. All such things are just seen; they are facts of experience—they are affairs of perception. Nay the universal of causality the universal proposition of causality does itself involve eyesight does itself involve experience does itself involve perception. Every change has its cause: it is impossible that we should have any knowledge of what a change is unless we had experience of it. There are certainly intellectual changes changes in the process of the understanding changes in the process of reason changes in belief etc.; but any change even any such change is always known to us as an alteration substantially of consciousness and an alteration of consciousness is just another word for experience. We can have an experience only when we have an alteration of consciousness: an experience is that—an alteration of consciousness. Even the universal of causation then every change has its cause is a proposition that involves experience is a proposition à posteriori—at least so far. But so far only. Otherwise it is in its vital force and virtue a proposition à priori. That is the contention of Kant. A change must have a cause. This is a truth which though synthetic is also apodictic—necessary and universal namely. But says Kant necessity and universality are “sure criteria of à priori cognition.” The proposition of causality therefore must be as said at least in its virtue of an à priori place. The synthesis it implies the synthesis of the two notions of change on the one hand and of cause on the other is not a result of experience is not a result à posteriori; for in that case the truth of it would not be apodictic would not be universal and necessary but a truth only as for the moment found—a truth only probable then and a mere matter of fact.
The question for Kant now then plainly is—How is this? How can the causal proposition be possibly à priori? How can its validity be a product of mind and wholly independent of any experience à posteriori? It was this single question that led Kant in the end to his whole cumbrous extraordinary and incredible system. Simply to explain causality by innate principles of reason native and original to the mind itself Kant invented that whole prodigious machinery—merely for such explanation Kant forced into the geometrical point of his own consciousness the infinitude of space and the infinitude of time but grasped throughout their whole infinitude together both by the tree of the categories the enchanted and enchanting Yggdrasil whose branches reduced the infinitude in which they spread into the very finite net of the schematism that held to our ears and eyes and fingers nostrils and palate their own sensations always. That was the monstrous birth to which Kant came at last after his fifteen years' sitting on the simple egg of Hume. And all the time we may fancy our Indian fellow-Aryans laughing at them both and pointing as seen to nothing but identity!
That then was the course of Kant. The proposition of causality was to be placed within us and made into a principle of the very mind. Strangely somehow the first step in this operation was the internalization of space and time. We may think if we like space a boundless vacancy without us and time a mighty throb which is ever at once throughout the whole of the boundlessness; but we are only all wrong—we are only the victims of our own magical privilege and miraculous endowment. Newton himself might see “the floor of heaven thick-studded with patines of bright gold” and in rapture of his awe murmur to himself “Since every particle of space is always and every indivisible moment of time is everywhere assuredly the Fabricator and Lord of all things will not be never and nowhere;” but he too would only deceive himself and stray. The truth is that all these unfathomable depths and illimitable spheres with all their rich contents are not without at all are not in a heaven at all but only in me. That as I say was the first step of Kant. Time and space were only forms of general sense really within which still at touch upon particular (special) sense were thrown as mirages apparently without. Then all these touches of special sense—sensations namely—received into these mirages were wrought up into perceptions objects—the things of this external universe—and associated into rule and system by the twelve categories and the three ideas. To arrive at such results as these was a work of a long brooding—a fabrication of multiform piecing on the part of Kant. There however in the end it is and all for no other purpose than to demonstrate that the necessity which we all feel and know to lie in the connection of the cause with its effect was not as Hume mischievously argued subjective and à posteriori but on the contrary objective and à priori. To effect this time and space were both retracted within us and while there were acted upon in the peculiar succession of their parts by the function of judgment named antecedent and consequent till there issued in category and schema the full formed à priori machinery of cause and effect. Fancy it all—it is like a toy-house which children take piecemeal out of a box and put together in play. There are first the two long and broad bits time and space folded together but expansible at once an indivisible centre and a boundless circumference. These are then fitted into another piece which is called productive imagination—productive as so contrived that is that motive of and in them it can expand the sort of collapsed wings the long and broad bits of time and space at the same time that it receives into them the sensations which come from where they may gave it the hint. But after all our toy materials do not seem on the whole so very well adapted for the construction of a house. Let us conceive rather that we put them together into a magic lantern—a peculiar a very peculiar magic lantern. Well the pieces called time and space shall be the slides and imagination shall be the containing case of the lantern. Now to complete this case with the slides in it we make an addition from within to its top. And the piece which we fix there is the most curious piece of all. It is a sort of cone—in shape let us say something like an extinguisher but as suited to a magic lantern a very magical extinguisher. The little round top of the extinguisher now itself at top of the whole case shall be the reuniting unity and unit as it were of the entire contrivance. Fancy it the light—the illuminating light of the whole arrangement—or fancy it rather—this little round top—the eye that sees into the whole internality of the machine and as it were throws its light down into it. Well suppose this extinguisher in place as the lantern's top: the eye that is placed there—a mere bead—throws its glance its light down into the sensations the figures on the slides or what is the same thing receives the light from them up into itself—but through lenses. Round the circle at the wide end of the extinguisher as fixed in place there are twelve lenses; and these are the categories! They are the functions of judgment which is the hollow of the extinguisher and collects and concentrates all into the eye or the mere bead at top. This eye this bead at top is the Pure Primary or Original Apperception or as it is otherwise called the Synthetic Unity of Apperception. Now then that is the way Kant fancies us to perceive this universe—that is the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories. Sensations we know not how but feigned to be due to things in themselves—which things in themselves whether as what or as where are utterly unknown to us—sensations I say so due appear we know not how on the slides of time and space in the material of the imagination; and carried up thence by judgment through its twelve lenses of the categories into the unity of apperception into the unity of self-consciousness suddenly stand around us infinite as this whole huge formed ruled and regulated universe! To that grand finale and consummation at least Kant only adds three toy pieces further. They are what he calls the Ideas: the Psychological Idea the Cosmological Idea and the Theological Idea. They may be conceived—the three ideas may be conceived as three lenses beyond the twelve categorical lenses and fitted into apperception the eye (I) or bead itself at top. There now that is the whole and that is not after all merely a deduction the transcendental deduction—that is really the way in which Kant creates—positively makes for us this actual universe! Kant to construct this universe takes absolutely nothing from the universe but all from himself. The sensations are his the imagination is his the categories are his the Ideas are his the Apperception is his—what is not his are alone the unknown ghosts the Things-in-themselves; and for them he has not a vestige of a warrant: to his own self they are by his own self admitted and declared to be absolutely unknown ciphers nonentities which nowhere exist or which exist as idle suppositions only in name. Nor is Kant less autocratic in his further and final step as concerns the Ideas—God that is and our own soul are only ideas without correspondent objects or with correspondent objects only feigned—again ciphers then!—Not but that in a practical point of view we may grant them to be—what?—postulates! And that only means that as moral beings we are under a necessity to—suppose them!
In the prosecution now of our own immediate theme it is to these three Ideas that we must turn at last for a more particular relative inquiry; and in the first place we are to understand that their function is not constitutive but only regulative. This world as we have seen according to Kant is only an affair of our own subjective affections and our own subjective actions. Our own categories acting on our own forms of space and time and through these on our own sensations bring all into our own unity; and all so far is constitutive. It is the Ideas now come in as regulative; for their action has no part in the formation of things. To the formation of things there go only the sensations; the spectra of space and time that receive the sensations; and the categories which under the unity of apperception order arrange condense and work up the sensations into the perceived objects of the perceived world in time and space around us. All these materials then are constitutive; and in discussing them we have realised a Psychology a Philosophy of the Mind an Erkenntnisstheorie. It has been left for the Ideas especially in their moral reference to realize a Metaphysic the interests of which are God the Soul and the Freedom of the Will; but all here is only regulative. If the categories give unity to things the Ideas on their side give only a further degree of unity to the categories themselves and are of no objective but only of a subjective or internal application for the mind's own wants of order arrangement simplification and unity. So far as they seem to effect more than that indeed they are the sources of a necessary natural and unavoidable illusion. But we shall understand better what Kant means by that if we refer in the first place to the peculiar means and method by which he describes himself to attain to these ideas.
It was by a fortunate recollection of the doctrine of Judgment in ordinary school logic that Kant after long meditation examination and trial came to his categories in correspondence with the subordinate three moments under each of the four common and familiar rubrics of Quantity Quality Relation and Modality. It was only by an extension as it were of this hint that Kant passed from the section of the Judgment to the section of the Syllogism; and from its three forms Categorical Hypothetical and Disjunctive extricated at least to his own satisfaction the three Ideas. The three parts of Logic as we know are Simple Apprehension Judgment and Reason; and it is probable that it was only by an unfortunate oversight that Kant in passing forward from Judgment (that first occurred to him) to Reason (or the Syllogism) did not also pass backward to Simple Apprehension. If he had done so he would have made good for himself the whole of Logic. As Reason seemed to yield and legalize the Ideas Judgment the Categories; so from Simple Apprehension he might have drawn an equal warrant and authority for his Pure Perceptions Time and Space. In that case the system would have had the security of an entire science as basis of support and not the insecurity and unsatisfactoriness instead of a mere incomplete and partial reference. What immediately concerns us here however is only the Ideas. How Kant came to his pure perceptions his æsthetic namely such as at is or how in his Analytic he extricated from Judgment his Categories—all that we leave on one side or behind us; we have only to do with his Dialectic and with the manner in which he there extricates from the three forms of the Syllogism his three Ideas. This as only technical and dry I pass. Kant in fact may be said here to extricate only what he wants and that too only by the most arbitrary and absurd torture for his own convenience.
It is sufficient for us to understand at present that all such proceedings here of Kant are but respective preliminaries to the destruction of the proofs for the existence of God. And that they can be nothing else appears at once from the very definition of an Idea. “I understand by Idea” says Kant “a necessary notion of reason to which there can be given no congruent object in the senses.” That is though necessary notions of reason the Ideas are objectively transcendent or they suggest objects that have no existence in rerum natura; and are only subjectively transcendental—there namely with a calculated function of regulating the interests of the understanding into ultimate unity and totality: they apply a collective systematizing or synthesizing condition to experience as a whole; but are no more than mental principles only illusively conceived respectively to denote things. Now what is called the Transcendental Ideal or God can be no exception here; and we see at once that with such presupposition Kant can only declare all the proofs which have so long occupied us merely null and void. In this declaration however he extends to us a scaffolding of demonstration which we have now to see. We begin as has been our way hitherto with the teleological argument the proof from design. And here Kant is at once profuse in compliments. He acknowledges that “This world opens to us an immeasurable spectacle of variety order designfulness and beauty;” that the consequent proof “has its existence from the study of nature and takes thence ever new force; that accordingly “it raises our belief in a Supreme Originator up to an irresistible conviction;” and that “it would be wholly in vain to seek to withdraw anything from its credit”—“one glance at the miracle of nature and the majesty of the All rescues reason from every too nice doubt as from a dream.” He had already praised Plato in the same reference for that he namely “rightly saw in nature clear proofs of its origin from thoughts—plant animal the order of nature and the plan of the whole cogently evincing that they were only possible on thoughts;” and he goes on to exalt these ideas of the philosopher above the copy-like procedure of the physicist. In fact in Kant's latest Kritik that of Judgment the lapse of years has only led to the recording if possible of still stronger expressions of consideration and respect for the argument from design. One would like to say indeed that Kant is only half-hearted in his opposition to it and that he is only reluctantly compelled to the course he takes by the exigencies of his system. It is the very essence of that system namely that all objects are only formations of our own within us to which design consequently as a modifying principle from without or from elsewhere would seem not possibly to apply. Kant on his system can allow no source for the notion of design but a subjective harmony or a subjective “as if” a subjective maxim that is within us and not from without at all. Hence one is apt to be persuaded that but for his system Kant would be himself the most enthusiastic of Teleologists. And so consequently only to his system is it to be imputed that he brings himself to make the objections which we have now to consider. It is from the standing-ground of the system that he remarks first. The question here can be readily brought to a conclusive answer at once “For how can an experience ever be given which were adequate to an Idea? Why an Idea (that is one of Kant's peculiar three) is just that that has nothing empirical correspondent to it.” And we are reminded of his earlier words: “The Ideas (his Ideas namely) are sophistications of reason's own: the wisest of men even when aware and on their guard against it can never wholly escape the illusion which is always there to mislead and mock them.” “A necessary all-sufficient God is a Transcendental Idea so boundlessly great so exaltedly high above everything empirical that never in all experience were it possible to beat up matter for the filling of it.” To seek in the conditioned for the unconditioned were in vain and without a clue; for were it found even as found it would be itself conditioned. And it is only in the conditioned that any such search can be made; for the instrument of such a search is but the principle of cause and effect a principle which is only in place in possible experience and has no application beyond it. If even then what is sought is out from and beyond the conditioned where find a possible bridge to it since for all and any new acquisition of knowledge we can only be referred to experience and the law of cause and effect that obtains in it?
It is here now that Kant passing from his own peculiar views enunciates that respect for the teleological argument which we have already seen; but even while commending it and bidding it God-speed he cannot accept its claims—the claims of this argument to apodictic certainty: ho will attemper and rebate these claims to a proper moderation and modesty. And he begins by stating it in what to him are its four moments:—1. “Everywhere in the world there are to be found evident signs of an arrangement on express intention carried out with great wisdom and in a whole of indescribable variety of content as well as of unlimited magnitude of extent. 2. This designful order is quite adventitious to the things of this world and attaches to them only extrinsically. 3. There exists therefore a wise and high being who as an intelligence must with free-will be cause of this world. 4. The unity of this cause may be inferred from the unity of the world in the reciprocal relation of its parts.” That must be admitted on the part of Kant to be only fair statement. He then alludes to the possibility of a cavil in respect of natural reason when from the mere analogy of certain productions of nature with those of man in houses ships watches etc. we conclude to just such a causality for these natural productions as well—a will and understanding namely; thus referring to another cause the inner possibility of “free-working nature itself (which perhaps alone gives possibility to all art and even reason).” With no more than allusion here and just the hint that peradventure his own transcendental critique might if it chose subvert all such reasoning he passes on to his own formal objections to the main argument itself. And of these the first concerns form as distinguished from matter. The argument from design that is founds wholly on the form which seems to have been added to or infused into things so that as means to ends they appear to constitute a single series and system of final causes. That form these connections seem independent of the things themselves: they (the latter) themselves and in themselves are not such that were they not members native members essential members of the series and system we see they would contradict themselves. The contrivance that is the designfulness does not depend on things in their matter but only in their form. What agency seems to be operative consequently is that of an architect or artificer who may be responsible for the form the adaptation which has been given to things but not as Creator from whom derives the very matter of which they individually or as a whole consist. His second objection Kant's second objection in the same reference is that if you infer a cause from an effect the former must be proportioned to the latter: you cannot impute to the cause more than the effect allows you. Now who knows this world in its infinitude? So far as the knowledge of any of us goes the world is still limited and we have no authority from our own knowledge of the world to infer the omnipotent omniscient all-sufficient God whom we are all forward to assert. Accordingly says Kant it is not from the teleological argument that we come to that immeasurable conclusion of a God but from an unconscious and involuntary shift—resort on our part to the cosmological and ontological arguments. The design of the teleological argument is the contingency of the cosmological argument; and it is from that contingency we infer the existence of an absolutely necessary being while it is from the influence of the considerations under the ontological argument that we come to the idea of an ens realissimum of a being that is in himself limitless and the sum of all realities.
And now we have before us the entire course of reasoning which Kant has instituted against the teleological argument partly from the point of view of the peculiarity of his own system and partly from considerations which at least take on a more general aspect. The latter alone call for any special remark from us at present. In that reference we may say of the objection in regard to form and matter that Kant has forgot his own relative or at least relevant metaphysic. Notion without perception is empty: perception without notion is blind. This he said once and it is identically the same principle that is potent and at work when we say Form without Matter is empty Matter without Form is blind. A matterless form would vanish and a formless matter never even be. Either in fact is but an element of the other. Both together are the concrete truth; as much as an inside AND an outside. Then as regards the objection that we can infer no more than an architect or an artificer and that too only in the relative proportion I fancy the answer will be in every mouth It is precisely an architect or an artificer that we do infer and precisely also in proportion of the work; but just in proportion of the work that architect and that artificer must be and can only be He that is; and whom there is none other beside Alpha and Omega the first and the last the beginning and the end.
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