Ideas of Immanuel Kant, by Theme

[German, 1724 - 1804, Born and died at Königsberg, on the Baltic. Professor at the University there.]

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1. Philosophy / A. Wisdom / 1. Nature of Wisdom
Cleverness is shown in knowing what can reasonably be asked
     Full Idea: It is already a great and necessary proof of cleverness or insight to know what one should reasonably ask.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B082/A58)
     A reaction: I admire the asking of unreasonable questions. They stretch the imagination, and the fixing of the limits of human thought requires some attempt to go beyond the limit. Kant sounds wise but conservative.
Wisdom is knowing the highest good, and conforming the will to it
     Full Idea: Wisdom, theoretically regarded, means the knowledge of the highest good and, practically, the conformability of the will to the highest good.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.II.II.V)
     A reaction: This seems a narrow account of wisdom, focusing entirely on goodness rather than truth. A mind that valued nothing but understood everything would have a considerable degree of wisdom, in the normal use of that word.
Moral self-knowledge is the beginning of all human wisdom
     Full Idea: Moral self-knowledge, which seeks to penetrate into the depths (the abyss) of one's heart that are quite difficult to fathom, is the beginning of all human wisdom.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 441 I.I)
     A reaction: I'm not clear what I am supposed to be looking for on this quest. I'm guessing that being completely honest about one's own maxims in moral action would be a good start. And maybe confronting one's murkier desires.
1. Philosophy / C. History of Philosophy / 4. Later European Philosophy / c. Eighteenth century philosophy
My dogmatic slumber was first interrupted by David Hume
     Full Idea: I freely admit that remembrance of David Hume was the very thing that many years ago first interrupted my dogmatic slumber.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 4:260), quoted by A.W. Moore - The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics 5.2
     A reaction: A famous declaration. He realised that he had the answer the many scepticisms of Hume, and accept his emphasis on the need for experience.
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 3. Philosophy Defined
What fills me with awe are the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me
     Full Idea: Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder and awe, the oftener and the more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], Concl)
     A reaction: I am beginning to think that the two major issues of all philosophy are ontology and metaethics, and Kant is close to agreeing with me. He certainly wasn't implying that astronomy was a key aspect of philosophy.
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 5. Aims of Philosophy / e. Philosophy as reason
Reason is only interested in knowledge, actions and hopes
     Full Idea: All interest of my reason (the speculative as well as the practical) is united in the following three questions: 1) What can I know?, 2) What should I do?, and 3) What may I hope?
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B833/A805)
     A reaction: Maybe reason is also interested in itself. And presumably it doesn't lose interest in what is clearly unknowable, or unachievable, or beyond all hope?
Consistency is the highest obligation of a philosopher
     Full Idea: Consistency is the highest obligation of a philosopher and yet the most rarely found.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.1.1.§3)
     A reaction: I agree with this, and it also strikes me as the single most important principle of Kant's philosophy, which is the key to his whole moral theory.
Because there is only one human reason, there can only be one true philosophy from principles
     Full Idea: Considered objectively, there can only be one human reason, there cannot be many philosophies; in other words, there can only be one true philosophy from principles, in however many conflicting ways men have philosophised about the same proposition.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], Pref)
     A reaction: An idea that embodies the Enlightenment ideal. I like the idea that there is one true philosophy, because there is only one world. Kant is talking of philosophy 'from principles', which means his transendental idealism.
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 7. Despair over Philosophy
In ordinary life the highest philosophy is no better than common understanding
     Full Idea: In regard to the essential ends of human nature even the highest philosophy cannot advance further than the guidance that nature has also conferred on the most common understanding.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B859/A831)
     A reaction: This is a very anti-elitist remark which seems to me to reflect Kant's Christian background. It seems obvious to me that in politics our best leaders are not confined to 'common understanding'. Nor in morality. Moral saints are wiser.
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 1. Nature of Metaphysics
Metaphysics is generating a priori knowledge by intuition and concepts, leading to the synthetic
     Full Idea: The generation of knowledge a priori, both according to intuition and according to concepts, and finally the generation of synthetic propositions a priori in philosophical knowledge, constitutes the essential content of metaphysics.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 274)
     A reaction: By 'concepts' he implies mere analytic thought, so 'intuition' is where the exciting bit is, and that is rather vague.
Metaphysics is a systematic account of everything that can be known a priori
     Full Idea: Metaphysics can be ...the investigation of everything that can ever be cognized a priori, as well as the presentation of that which constitutues a system of pure philosophical cognitions of this kind.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B869/A841)
     A reaction: [He excludes mathematics from this] Moore says this is Kant's most interesting definition of metaphysics (among several versions).
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 2. Possibility of Metaphysics
Kant turned metaphysics into epistemology, ignoring Aristotle's 'being qua being'
     Full Idea: Kant turned the question 'How is metaphysics possible?' into 'How is metaphysical knowledge possible?' He thus turned metaphysics into epistemology, obliterating Aristotle's distinction between being qua being and being qua known.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Cynthia Macdonald - Varieties of Things Ch.1
     A reaction: This makes Kant the number one villain in my philosophical pantheon, although the confusion of ontology and epistemology is found in Berkeley and others. Human speculations are not pointless, though they are difficult to verify.
Metaphysics might do better to match objects to our cognition (and not start with the objects)
     Full Idea: Up to now it has been assumed that all our cognition must conform to the objects; ...let us try whether we do not get farther with problems of metaphysics by assuming that the objects must conform to cognition.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B Pref xvi)
     A reaction: Kant compares this to rethinking our viewpoint on the solar system, and Gardner calls this idea Kant's 'Copernican Revolution'. We can only applaud the idea that we should be more self-conscious when we assess reality. Just don't give up on reality!
You just can't stop metaphysical speculation, in any mature mind
     Full Idea: In all men, as soon as their reason has become ripe for speculation, there has always existed and will always continue to exist some kind of metaphysics.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B021)
     A reaction: I love the word 'speculation' in this, because it is the part of metaphysics which always resists logical positivist scepticism about metaphysics. So what if you can't 'verify' it?
The voyage of reason may go only as far as the coastline of experience reaches
     Full Idea: The voyage of our reason may proceed only as far as the continuous coastline of experience reaches.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B406-/A395)
     A reaction: This is a strikingly empiricist remark, coming from Kant. It is certainly a firm rejection of what we might call 'speculative metaphysics', but allows what Peter Strawson calls 'descriptive metaphysics'. Cf. Idea 3722.
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 3. Metaphysical Systems
It is still possible to largely accept Kant as a whole (where others must be dismantled)
     Full Idea: Unusually, Kant's system has continued to seem possible, to some degree, to endorse as a whole, as opposed to an edifice that has most to offer by being dismantled.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Sebastian Gardner - Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason 10 Intro
     A reaction: I think Aristotle passes this test, but Plato has to be dismantled. No one ever swallows Leibniz whole. I suppose Hume can be taken complete, but only because of his minimal commitments.
Human reason considers all knowledge as belonging to a possible system
     Full Idea: Human reason is by nature architectonic, i.e. it considers all cognitions as belonging to a possible system, and hence it permits only such principles as do not render an intended cognition incapable of standing together with others in some system.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B502/A474)
     A reaction: Speak for yourself! However, there is no denying that the making connections seems basic to thought, and there is clearly an enticing magic in making lots of extended connections. Beautiful finished structures may, though, be coherent but false.
Reason has two separate objects, morality and freedom, and nature, which ultimately unite
     Full Idea: The legislation of human reason (philosophy) has two objects, nature and freedom, and thus contains the natural law as well as the moral law, initially in two separate systems, but ultimately in a single philosophical system.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B868/A840)
     A reaction: Pure reason is for nature, and practical reason (which has priority) is for freedom and morality. There is a streak of religiosity in Kant which makes him give morality and normativity priority over truth and science.
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 5. Metaphysics beyond Science
Kant showed that theoretical reason cannot give answers to speculative metaphysics
     Full Idea: In the 'Critique of Pure Reason' Kant shows that theoretical reason is unable to answer the questions of speculative metaphysics.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Christine M. Korsgaard - Intro to 'Creating the Kingdom of Ends' 'Intro'
     A reaction: I don't think I really agree with Kant. We can draw very extended inferences from experience, but the process rapidly becomes exceedingly difficult. The concepts we have built up are rather piecemeal, and not really designed for the job.
A priori metaphysics is fond of basic unchanging entities like God, the soul, Forms, atoms…
     Full Idea: Kant stresses that reason, when it turns dialectical, posits immutable basic entities; these are the standard inhabitants of traditional a priori metaphysics - God, souls, Platonic ideas, Democritean indestructible atoms, and the like.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Robert Fogelin - Walking the Tightrope of Reason Ch.3
     A reaction: This sounds like a good warning, but it just invites the meta-question in a priori metaphysics 'Are we searching for something unchanging, or is this impossible?' Aristotle certainly addressed this question. The search strikes me as sensible.
A dove cutting through the air, might think it could fly better in airless space (which Plato attempted)
     Full Idea: The light dove, in free flight cutting through the air the resistance of which it feels, could get the idea that it could do even better in airless space. ..Plato made no headway in the empty space of understanding; he had no resistance, no support.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B008/A5)
     A reaction: Who says Kant can't write? This is the classic image of the excesses of metaphysics which Kant wished to curtail. His attacks culminates in the contempt of logical positivism for such things, but no one would now disagree with Kant on this.
Metaphysics goes beyond the empirical, so doesn't need examples
     Full Idea: Metaphysics doesn't let itself be held back by anything empirical, and indeed goes right to Ideas, where examples themselves fail.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 412.36)
Metaphysics is just a priori universal principles of physics
     Full Idea: Metaphysics only contains the pure a priori principles of physics in their universal import.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.II.II.VI)
     A reaction: 'Universal' seems to imply 'necessary'. If you thought that no a priori universal principles were possible, you would be left with physics. I quite like the definition, except that I think there would still be metaphysics even if there were no physics.
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 6. Metaphysics as Conceptual
For any subject, its system of non-experiential concepts needs a metaphysics
     Full Idea: A philosophy of any subject (a system of rational knowledge from concepts) requires a system of pure rational concepts independent of any conditions of intuition, that is, a metaphysics.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 375 Pref)
     A reaction: 'Pure rational concepts' must be a priori, and (in Kant's case) transcendental - i.e. discovered from the study of presuppositions. Does this actually say that the philosophies of science, biology, psychology, economics etc each needs a metaphysics?
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 7. Against Metaphysics
Kant exposed the illusions of reason in the Transcendental Dialectic
     Full Idea: The truly critical part of his First Critique was the Transcendental Dialectic; there Kant exposed the Illusions of Reason.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Bas C. van Fraassen - The Empirical Stance 1.1
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 4. Conceptual Analysis
Analysis is becoming self-conscious about our concepts
     Full Idea: To analyze a concept is to become self-conscious of the manifold that I always think in it.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B011/A7)
Our reason mostly analyses concepts we already have of objects
     Full Idea: A great part, perhaps the greatest part, of the business of our reason consists in analyses of the concepts that we already have of objects.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B009/A5)
     A reaction: I am quite happy to think of this as the central and crucial aspect of philosophy, though I am much more sceptical about purely linguistic analysis, as developed by Frege and Russell. It describes much of what Aristotle did.
Analysis of our concepts is merely a preparation for proper a priori metaphysics
     Full Idea: The mere analysis of the concepts that inhabit our reason a priori, is not the end at all, but only a preparation for metaphysics proper, namely extending its a priori cognition sythetically.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B023)
     A reaction: This seems to be evidence that Kant is not an 'analytical' philosopher, because he is willing to speculate, but that is a narrow twentieth century view of analysis. I take the aim to be an analysis of reality, not of human thought.
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 1. On Reason
In reason things can only begin if they are voluntary
     Full Idea: In reason itself nothing begins, but as the unconditioned condition of very voluntary action.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B582/A554)
     A reaction: Kant's way of saying that free will is essential for pure reason. I can't quite digest 'pure' reason, but it is undeniable that rational processes seem to have rules of their own, and to arise entirely from the world of ideas, and not from the physical.
If I know the earth is a sphere, and I am on it, I can work out its area from a small part
     Full Idea: If I know that the earth is a sphere, and its surface the surface of a sphere, then from a small part of the latter I can know the diameter, and hence the complete boundary, and in accordance with a priori principles.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B787/A757)
     A reaction: A nice example, though it may be optimistic in its assumption that you can know you are on a sphere rather than an egg-shape. I agree with Kant, but speculative metaphysics should always be accompanied by humility and health warnings.
The boundaries of reason can only be determined a priori
     Full Idea: The determination of the boundaries of our reason can only take place in accordance with a priori grounds
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B786/A758)
     A reaction: I suspect that this is right, and is a truth of huge importance for philosophy. If we experience limitations in our reason (a not unusual experience!) this could never show that the boundary was necessary. This supports a minimal rationalism.
Philosophers should not offer multiple proofs - suggesting the weakness of each of them
     Full Idea: It is a highly unphilosophic expedient to resort to a number of proofs for one and the same proposition, consoling oneself that the multitude of reasons makes up for the inadequacy of any one of them taken by itself.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 403 Intro XIII)
     A reaction: This makes philosophical proofs sound very mathematical in character, whereas I think most reasons for a proposition given in philosophy are more like evidence, which can clearly accumulate in a rational way. Some maths proofs are better than others.
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 3. Pure Reason
Pure reason deals with concepts in the understanding, not with objects
     Full Idea: Pure reason is never related directly to objects, but instead to concepts of them given by the understanding.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B392/A335)
     A reaction: Hence the keen interest of McDowell and others in the way in which concepts connect us into reality. Clearly a primrose path to anti-realism beckons here. I agree with Kant. Reason needs tokens to manipulate.
Pure reason exists outside of time
     Full Idea: Pure reason, as a merely intelligible faculty, is not subject to the form of time, and hence not subject to the conditions of the temporal sequence.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B579/A551)
     A reaction: A strong assertion of the notion of 'pure' reason. If it is outside time, it is presumably outside space-time, and so outside space. If I believed in it (and you can't really, can you?), I think I would go the whole hog, and add Platonism.
Reason hates to be limited in its speculations
     Full Idea: Reason does not gladly suffer constraint in the paroxysms of its lust for speculative expansion.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B814/A786)
     A reaction: This uncharacteristic outburst shows Kant's great commitment to the limitations of reason, despite his constant assertions that it is 'pure', and that it is the basis of all value.
Pure reason is only concerned with itself because it deals with understandings, not objects
     Full Idea: Pure reason is concerned with nothing but itself, and it can have no other concern, because what is given to it is not objects to be unified for the concept of experience, but cognitions of understanding to be unified for the concept of reason.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B708/A680)
     A reaction: It is hard to accept this sharp division between 'understanding', which gets involved in experience, and this very "pure" reason, which seems in danger of solipsism, and is playing a private game. I think purity comes in degrees.
Reason enables the unbounded extension of our rules and intentions
     Full Idea: Reason, in a creature, is a faculty which enables that creature to extend far beyond the limits of natural instinct the rules and intentions it follows in using its various powers, and the range of its project is unbounded.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Idea for a Universal History [1784], 2nd)
     A reaction: I'm inclined to identify the mind's creation of universals as the source of this power, rather than reason. Generalisations are infinitely extensible. Cantor's infinities are a nice example. Can't ideas be extended irrationally?
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 4. Aims of Reason
Reason keeps asking why until explanation is complete
     Full Idea: For Kant, theoretical reason, like practical reason, seeks the unconditioned: it keeps asking why until explanation is complete.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Christine M. Korsgaard - Aristotle and Kant on the Source of Value 8 'Kant'
     A reaction: I love this idea. It is so important in philosophy of science, because some theorists say we should give up before our explanations are complete.
Religion and legislation can only be respected if they accept free and public examination
     Full Idea: Religion and legislation ...excite a just suspicion against themselves, and cannot claim that unfeigned respect that reason grants only to that which has been able to withstand free and public examination.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], A Pref xi n)
     A reaction: A wonderful statement of a core principle of the liberal enlightenment. I can't really relate to anyone who would reject this idea (in general). Legislation might have special circumstances (such as wartime).
All objections are dogmatic (against propositions), or critical (against proofs), or sceptical
     Full Idea: All objections are dogmatic, critical or sceptical. A dogmatic objection is directed against a proposition, but a critical one is directed against a proof. ..The sceptical objection puts the proposition and its opposite over against one another as equals.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B406-/A388)
     A reaction: This is a nice distinction, and I would think that the hallmark of a philosophical person is that they are always looking for critical objections, because they want beliefs to be supported by good reasons, not prejudices.
The hallmark of rationality is setting itself an end
     Full Idea: Rational nature separates itself out from all other things by the fact that it sets itself an end.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 437.82)
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 2. Sufficient Reason
The principle of sufficient reason is the ground of possible experience in time
     Full Idea: The principle of sufficient reason is the ground of possible experience, namely the objective cognition of appearances with regard to their relation in the successive series of time.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B246/A201)
     A reaction: The argument to this claim from the necessity of succession in time looks unconvincing to me, but the principle of sufficient reason is deeply imbedded in the human mind. However, philosophers seem to feel it more strongly than other people.
Proof of the principle of sufficient reason cannot be found
     Full Idea: A proof of the principle of sufficient reason has often been sought, but always in vain.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B265/A217)
     A reaction: This might, of course, be because the principle is false. However it is quite a good candidate for an a priori, or even innate, principle of thought in rational beings. Gödel's Theorem suggests why the enterprise of proof would be doomed.
2. Reason / C. Styles of Reason / 1. Dialectic
The free dialectic opposition of arguments is an invaluable part of the sceptical method
     Full Idea: The sceptical method can point to the dialectic as an example of the great utility of letting the arguments of reason confront one another in the most complete freedom
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B535/A507)
     A reaction: An interesting link, between dialectic and the sceptical method. I would say it runs deeper, and that scepticism and the free opposition of arguments are both basic to the whole notion of reason. Reason requires freedom (though not free will).
2. Reason / D. Definition / 2. Aims of Definition
Definitions exhibit the exhaustive concept of a thing within its boundaries
     Full Idea: To define properly means just to exhibit originally the exhaustive concept of a thing within its boundaries
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B755/A727)
     A reaction: There is nothing in the concept of a 'definition' that requires it to be exhaustive, because some things are too vague. Define the 'south' of England. What are the 'boundaries', if the concept could shift in its extension?
A simplification which is complete constitutes a definition
     Full Idea: By dissection I can make the concept distinct only by making the marks it contains clear. That is what analysis does. If this analysis is complete ...and in addition there are not so many marks, then it is precise and so constitutes a definition.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Wiener Logik [1795], p.455), quoted by J. Alberto Coffa - The Semantic Tradition from Kant to Carnap 1 'Conc'
     A reaction: I think Aristotle would approve of this. We need to grasp that a philosophical definition is quite different from a lexicographical definition. 'Completeness' may involve quite a lot.
2. Reason / D. Definition / 13. Against Definition
No a priori concept can be defined
     Full Idea: Strictly speaking no concept given a priori can be defined, e.g. substance, cause, right, equity, etc.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B756/A728)
     A reaction: A passing remark with large and interesting implications. A huge amount of ink has been spilled over whether to take concepts such as identity, truth, goodness and substance as 'basic', or reduce them to something else.
2. Reason / E. Argument / 2. Transcendental Argument
'Transcendent' is beyond experience, and 'transcendental' is concealed within experience
     Full Idea: Kant distinguished between the 'transcendent', which is wholly beyond experience, and the 'transcendental', which, although not strictly part of experience, is a structural feature imminent in it.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B353/A296) by Michael Potter - The Rise of Analytic Philosophy 1879-1930 02 'Trans'
     A reaction: This may be the most disastrous idea in western philosophy since Plato's theory of Forms. How can he claim special insight into the imminent structural features of his own experience, while admitting that he has no experience of these features?
Transcendental ideas require unity of the subject, conditions of appearance, and objects of thought
     Full Idea: All transcendental ideas fall under three classes: the first contains the absolute unity of the thinking subject, the second the unity of conditions of appearance, the third the unity of the condition of all objects of thought in general.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B391/A334)
     A reaction: This kind of claim makes me search the attic for my logical positivist shotgun. How does he KNOW these things? However we must grant him that experience 'binds' together in some way, and we think of persons and ideas as atomic.
2. Reason / E. Argument / 3. Analogy
Philosophical examples rarely fit rules properly, and lead to inflexibility
     Full Idea: Giving examples most commonly damages the insight of the understanding, since they only seldom fulfil the condition of the rule under consideration, ..and in the end accustom us to use those rules more like formulas than like principles.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B173/A134)
     A reaction: This is directly contrary to the belief of most people who study or teach philosophy in the English-speaking world, but it is an interesting challenge. Philosophy is mainly concerned with abstract ideas. Maybe we need many examples, or none.
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 1. Correspondence Truth
We must presuppose that truth is agreement of cognition with its objects
     Full Idea: The nominal definition of truth, namely that it is agreement of cognition with its objects, is here granted and presupposed; but one demands to know what is the general and certain criterion of the truth of any cognition.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B082/A58)
     A reaction: I am puzzled by the second part of this, as the demand for a criterion (or justification) seems to me to have no part at all in our notion of what truth is in itself. It is a puzzle that Kant seems to accept the concept of truth used by simple realists.
4. Formal Logic / B. Propositional Logic PL / 2. Tools of Propositional Logic / e. Axioms of PL
Philosophy has no axioms, as it is just rational cognition of concepts
     Full Idea: Since philosophy is merely rational cognition in accordance with concepts, no principle is to be encountered in it that deserves the name of axiom.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B760/A732)
     A reaction: This is an attack on traditional rationalism, which aspires to do philosophy in the style of Euclid. Kant offers, however, a very conservative view, in which all concepts are 'given'. Nowadays we want to play with new axioms, as they did in geometry.
5. Theory of Logic / A. Overview of Logic / 1. Overview of Logic
Logic has precise boundaries, and is the formal rules for all thinking
     Full Idea: The boundaries of logic are determined quite precisely by the fact that logic is the science that exhaustively presents and strictly proves nothing but the formal rules of all thinking.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B Pref ix)
     A reaction: Presumably it does not give the rules for ridiculous thinking, so more will be required. The interesting bit is the universality of the claim.
5. Theory of Logic / A. Overview of Logic / 3. Value of Logic
Logic gives us the necessary rules which show us how we ought to think
     Full Idea: In logic the question is not one of contingent but of necessary rules, not how to think, but how we ought to think.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Wiener Logik [1795], p.16), quoted by Michael Potter - The Rise of Analytic Philosophy 1879-1930 02 'Trans'
     A reaction: Presumably it aspires to the objectivity of a single correct account of how we all ought to think. I'm sympathetic to that, rather than modern cultural relativism about reason. Logic is rooted in nature, not in arbitrary convention.
5. Theory of Logic / I. Semantics of Logic / 2. Formal Truth
There must be a general content-free account of truth in the rules of logic
     Full Idea: Concerning the mere form of cognition (setting aside all content), it is equally clear that a logic, so far as it expounds the general and necessary rules of understanding, must present criteria of truth in these very rules.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B084/A59)
     A reaction: A vital point, used by Putnam (Idea 2332) in his critique of machine functionalism. It is hard to see how we can think of logic as pure syntax if the concept of truth is needed. We may observe one Venn circle inside another, but interpretaton is required.
5. Theory of Logic / L. Paradox / 3. Antinomies
The battle of the antinomies is usually won by the attacker, and lost by any defender
     Full Idea: These sophistical assertions [the antinomies] open us a dialectical battlefield where each party will keep the upper hand as long as it is allowed to attack, and will certainly defeat that which is compelled to conduct itself merely defensively.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B450/A423)
     A reaction: This seems related to the interesting question of where the 'onus of proof' lies in a major dispute. Kant's implication is that the battles are not rational, if they are settled in such a fashion.
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 1. Mathematics
Mathematics cannot proceed just by the analysis of concepts
     Full Idea: Mathematics cannot proceed analytically, namely by analysis of concepts, but only synthetically.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 284)
     A reaction: I'm with Kant insofar as I take mathematics to be about the world, no matter how rarefied and 'abstract' it may become.
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 2. Geometry
Geometry studies the Euclidean space that dictates how we perceive things
     Full Idea: For Kant, geometry studies the forms of perception in the sense that it describes the infinite space that conditions perceived objects. This Euclidean space provides the forms of perception, or, in Kantian terms, the a priori form of empirical intuition.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Stewart Shapiro - Thinking About Mathematics 4.2
     A reaction: We shouldn't assume that the discovery of new geometries nullifies this view. We evolved in small areas of space, where it is pretty much Euclidean. We don't perceive the curvature of space.
Geometry rests on our intuition of space
     Full Idea: Geometry is grounded on the pure intuition of space.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 284)
     A reaction: I have the impression that recent thinkers are coming round to this idea, having attempted purely algebraic or logical accounts of geometry.
Geometry is not analytic, because a line's being 'straight' is a quality
     Full Idea: No principle of pure geometry is analytic. That the straight line beween two points is the shortest is a synthetic proposition. For my concept of straight contains nothing of quantity but only of quality.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 269)
     A reaction: I'm not sure what his authority is for calling straightness a quality rather than a quantity, given that it can be expressed quantitatively. It is a very nice example for focusing our questions about the nature of geometry. I can't decide.
Geometry would just be an idle game without its connection to our intuition
     Full Idea: Were it not for the connection to intuition, geometry would have no objective validity whatever, but be mere play by the imagination or the understanding.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B298/A239), quoted by Stewart Shapiro - Thinking About Mathematics 4.2
     A reaction: If we pursue the idealist reading of Kant (in which the noumenon is hopelessly inapprehensible), then mathematics still has not real application, despite connection to intuition. However, Kant would have been an intuitionist, and not a formalist.
Geometrical truth comes from a general schema abstracted from a particular object
     Full Idea: Kant explains the general validity of geometrical truths by maintaining that the particularity is genuine and ineliminable but is used as a schema. One abstracts from the particular elements of the objects of intuition in forming a general object.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B741/A713) by Tyler Burge - Frege on Apriority (with ps) 4
     A reaction: A helpful summary by Burge of a rather wordy but very interesting section of Kant. I like the idea of being 'abstracted', but am not sure why that must be from one particular instance [certainty?]. The essence of triangles emerges from comparisons.
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 3. Nature of Numbers / a. Numbers
Numbers are formed by addition of units in time
     Full Idea: Arithmetic forms its own concepts of numbers by successive addition of units in time.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 284)
     A reaction: It is hard to imagine any modern philosopher of mathematics embracing this idea. It sounds as if Kant thinks counting is the foundation of arithmetic, which I quite like.
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 4. Using Numbers / f. Arithmetic
7+5 = 12 is not analytic, because no analysis of 7+5 will reveal the concept of 12
     Full Idea: The concept of twelve is in no way already thought by merely thinking the unification of seven and five, and though I analyse my concept of such a possible sum as long as I please, I shall never find twelve in it.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 269)
     A reaction: It might be more plausible to claim that an analysis of 12 would reveal the concept of 7+5. Doesn't the concept of two collections of objects contain the concept of their combined cardinality?
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 5. The Infinite / c. Potential infinite
Kant only accepts potential infinity, not actual infinity
     Full Idea: For Kant the only legitimate infinity is the so-called potential infinity, not the actual infinity.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by James Robert Brown - Philosophy of Mathematics Ch.5
     A reaction: This is part of what leads on the the Constructivist view of mathematics. There is a procedure for endlessly continuing, but no procedure for arriving. That seems to make good sense.
6. Mathematics / B. Foundations for Mathematics / 3. Axioms for Geometry
Euclid's could be the only viable geometry, if rejection of the parallel line postulate doesn't lead to a contradiction
     Full Idea: The possible denial of the parallel lines postulate does not entail that Kant was wrong in considering Euclid's the only viable geometry. If the denial issued in a contradiction, then the postulate would be analytic, and Kant would be refuted.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by José A. Benardete - Metaphysics: the logical approach Ch.18
6. Mathematics / B. Foundations for Mathematics / 4. Axioms for Number / a. Axioms for numbers
Kant suggested that arithmetic has no axioms
     Full Idea: Kant suggested that arithmetic has no axioms.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B204-6/A164) by Stewart Shapiro - Thinking About Mathematics 4.2
     A reaction: A hundred years later a queue was forming to spell out the axioms of arithmetic. The definitions of 0 and 1 always look to me more like logicians' tricks than profound truths. Some notions of successor and induction do, however, seem needed.
Axioms ought to be synthetic a priori propositions
     Full Idea: Concerning magnitude ...there are no axioms in the proper sense. ....Axioms ought to be synthetic a priori propositions.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B205/A164)
     A reaction: This may be a hopeless dream, but it is (sort of) what all philosophers long for. Post-modern relativism may just be the claim that all axioms are analytic. Could a posteriori propositions every qualify as axioms?
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 2. Intuition of Mathematics
Kant's intuitions struggle to judge relevance, impossibility and exactness
     Full Idea: Kant's intuitions have the Irrelevance problem (which structures of the mind are just accidental?), the Practical Impossibility problem (how to show impossible-in-principle?), and the Exactness problem (are entities exactly as they seem?).
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Philip Kitcher - The Nature of Mathematical Knowledge 03.1
     A reaction: [see Kitcher for an examination of these] Presumably the answer to all three must be that we have meta-intuitions about our intuitions, or else intuitions come with built-in criteria to deal with the three problems. We must intuit something specific.
Mathematics can only start from an a priori intuition which is not empirical but pure
     Full Idea: We find that all mathematical knowledge has this peculiarity, that it must first exhibit its concept in intuition, and do so a priori, in an intuition that is not empirical but pure.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 281)
     A reaction: Later thinkers had grave doubts about this Kantian 'intuition', even if they though maths was known a priori. Personally I am increasing fan of rational intuition, even if I am not sure how to discern whether it is rational on any occasion.
All necessary mathematical judgements are based on intuitions of space and time
     Full Idea: Space and time are the two intuitions on which pure mathematics grounds all its cognitions and judgements that present themselves as at once apodictic and necessary.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 284)
     A reaction: This unlikely proposal seems to be based on the idea that mathematics must arise from the basic categories of our intuition, and these two are the best candidates he can find. I would say that high-level generality is the basis of mathematics.
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 4. Mathematical Empiricism / a. Mathematical empiricism
Maths is a priori, but without its relation to empirical objects it is meaningless
     Full Idea: Although all these principles .....are generated in the mind completely a priori, they would still not signify anything at all if we could not always exhibit their significance in appearances (empirical objects).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B299/A240)
     A reaction: This is the subtle Kantian move that we all have to take seriously when we try to assert 'realism' about anything. Our drive for meaning creates our world for us?
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 4. Mathematical Empiricism / c. Against mathematical empiricism
Mathematics cannot be empirical because it is necessary, and that has to be a priori
     Full Idea: Mathematical propositions are always judgements a priori, and not empirical, because they carry with them necessity, which cannot be taken from experience.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 268)
     A reaction: Presumably there are necessities in the physical world, and we might discern them by generalising about that world, so that mathematics is (by a tortuous abstract route) a posteriori necessary? Just a thought…
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 6. Logicism / d. Logicism critique
Kant taught that mathematics is independent of logic, and cannot be grounded in it
     Full Idea: Kant taught - and it is an integral part of his doctrine - that mathematics treats a subject matter which is given independently of logic. Mathematics, therefore, can never be grounded solely in logic.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by David Hilbert - On the Infinite p.192
     A reaction: Presumably Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems endorse the Kantian view, that arithmetic is sui generis, and beyond logic.
If 7+5=12 is analytic, then an infinity of other ways to reach 12 have to be analytic
     Full Idea: Kant claimed that 7+5=12 is synthetic a priori. If the concept of 12 analytically involves knowing 7+5, it also involves an infinity of other arithmetical ways to reach 12, which is inadmissible.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B205/A164) by Jonathan Dancy - Intro to Contemporary Epistemology 14.3
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 1. Nature of Existence
Saying a thing 'is' adds nothing to it - otherwise if my concept exists, it isn't the same as my concept
     Full Idea: We do not make the least addition to a thing when we declare the thing 'is'. Otherwise it would not be exactly the same thing that exists, but something more than we had thought in the concept, so we could not say the exact object of my concept exists.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B628/A600)
     A reaction: This still strikes me as a wonderful objection to the ontological argument for God. It raises the question of what 'is' does mean. Is it a 'quantifier'? What is the ontological status of a quantifier?
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 1. Realism
Kant is read as the phenomena being 'contrained' by the noumenon, or 'free-floating'
     Full Idea: The two readings of Kant depend on whether the world of phenomena is 'constrained' by the noumenon, or whether it is 'free-floating'.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Marianne Talbot - talk
     A reaction: The free-floating reading leads to idealism, since the noumenon then becomes a quite irrelevant part of Kant's theory, and can be dropped (since its existence means nothing if it has no causal role). On the first reading, constraint becomes interesting.
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 3. Anti-realism
Without the subject or the senses, space and time vanish, as their appearances disappear
     Full Idea: If we remove our own subject or even ....the senses in general, then all the constitution, all relations of objects in space and time, indeed space and time themselves would disappear, and as appearances they cannot exist in themselves, but only in us.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B059/A42)
     A reaction: This is as clear a statement of anti-realist idealism as I have ever found in Kant. You can interpret him as a thorough scientific realist, but you have to put a tricky spin on passages like this. Or maybe only the 'appearances' of space and time vanish?
Even the most perfect intuition gets no closer to things in themselves
     Full Idea: Even if we could bring this intuition of ours to the highest degree of distinctiveness we would not thereby come any closer to the constitution of objects in themselves.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B060/A43)
     A reaction: Either slightly ridiculous anti-realism, or a self-evident platitude. Personally I think I know the reality of trees pretty well, but to totally embrace their constitution I would have to become a tree (an Ent). My experience of me is only partial.
7. Existence / E. Categories / 1. Categories
Categories are general concepts of objects, which determine the way in which they are experienced
     Full Idea: The categories are the concepts of an object in general, by means of which its intuition is regarded as determined with regard to one of the logical functions of government.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B128/A95)
     A reaction: These are Kant's 'transcendental' categories. I'm wondering what he made of our more normal categories, such as animal species, genera etc.
Categories are necessary, so can't be implanted in us to agree with natural laws
     Full Idea: If one proposed a middle way, that categories are subjective predispositions for thinking, implanted in us so that their use would agree exactly with the laws of nature,..then the categories would lack the necessity which is essential to their concept.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B167)
     A reaction: Kant might want to rethink this once he got the hang of the theory of evolution. If we have innate categories, they must have some survival value. I don't understand Kant's claim that the categories are necessary. They just reflect nature.
7. Existence / E. Categories / 2. Categorisation
Does Kant say the mind imposes categories, or that it restricts us to them?
     Full Idea: It is unclear whether Kant says the mind imposes space and time and categories, such as substance and cause and effect, on empirical objects, or whether our mind restricts our cognition to such features of noumenal objects. Imposition, say the majority.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Mark Rowlands - Externalism Ch.3
     A reaction: Rowlands says, rightly, that Kant probably thought the mind imposed categories, but that he should have said that it restricts us to them. The imposition view leads to idealism, anti-realism and madness; restriction is common sense, really.
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 7. Against Powers
Kant claims causal powers are relational rather than intrinsic
     Full Idea: Kant argues that an object's causal powers are not intrinsic to it but feature among its relational properties.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Tim Bayne - Thought: a very short introduction Ch.7
     A reaction: [He doesn't give a reference for this] Put in this simple way, rather than obfuscated by Kant's arcane lexis, this sounds utterly false to me. Giving relations and functions explains nothing. How are those relations and functions possible?
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 1. Physical Objects
The a priori concept of objects in general is the ground of experience
     Full Idea: Concepts of objects in general lie at the ground of all experiential cognition as a priori conditions.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B126/A93)
     A reaction: Does Kant have an a priori insight that process philosophy, or philosophy based entirely on relations, are wrong?
Objects in themselves are not known to us at all
     Full Idea: Objects in themselves are not known to us at all.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B045/A30)
     A reaction: It is the phrase "at all" which is interesting. It suggests that Kant is in no way a representative realist, though it is hard to place him within the labels of phenomenalism/idealism/anti-realism.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / a. Substance
A substance could exist as a subject, but not as a mere predicate
     Full Idea: A substance is something that could exist as a subject but never as a mere predicate.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B149)
     A reaction: Interesting to see Kant asserting the idea of substance a century after many philosophers thought they had dispensed with this Aristotelian notion (e.g. Ideas 3628 and Idea 2714). It has crept back into modern metaphysics too (e.g. in Wiggins).
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / d. Substance defined
Substance must exist, as the persisting substratum of the process of change
     Full Idea: Since all effect consists in that which happens, consequently in the changeable, which indicates succession in time, the ultimate subject of the changeable is therefore that which persists, as the substratum of everything that changes, i.e. the substance.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B250/A205)
     A reaction: The idea that 'something' changes seems to involve a commitment to substances, but not if one thing is replaced by another. It is not clear that the abandonment of the concept of substance leads to a total collapse of our metaphysics.
All appearances need substance, as that which persists through change
     Full Idea: All appearances contain that which persists (substance) as the object itself, and that which can change as its mere determination (i.e. the way in which the object exists). ...[2nd ed] In all change of appearances substance persists.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B224/A182)
     A reaction: This is a full-blooded commitment by Kant to the traditional Aristotelian concept of a substance which endures through the change in its accidental features. Though in Kant's case the commitment is 'transcendental', not realist.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / e. Substance critique
The substance, once the predicates are removed, remains unknown to us
     Full Idea: It has long since been noticed that in all substances the subject proper, namely what is left over after all the accidents (as predicates) have been taken away and hence the 'substantial' itself, is unknown to us.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 333)
     A reaction: This is the terminus of the process of abstraction (though Wiggins says such removal of predicates is a myth). Kant is facing the problem of the bare substratum, or haecceity.
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 1. Objects over Time
An a priori principle of persistence anticipates all experience
     Full Idea: The principle of persistence is one that anticipates experience just as much as that of causality.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B795/A767)
     A reaction: This is the notion that identity is an indefinable basic of our understanding. He is objecting to Hume, who, of course, thought persistance was just an experience. Personally I persistance to be a posteriori, but how else could things exist?
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 7. Indiscernible Objects
The Identity of Indiscernibles is true of concepts with identical properties, but not of particulars
     Full Idea: Kant said that the principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles is true only at the level of concepts; two concepts having identical properties are the same concept; the principle is not true at the level of particulars given in sensory experience.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Nicholas Jolley - Leibniz Ch.8
     A reaction: Good. I would think that should be the last word on that particular subject. ...Suppose, though, that two people had identical concepts with identical properties, but believed that the extensions (application to particulars) were different?
If we ignore differences between water drops, we still distinguish them by their location
     Full Idea: In the case of two drops of water one can completely abstract from all inner difference (of quality and quantity), and it is enough that they be intuited in different places at the same time in order for them to be held to be numerically different.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B319/A263)
     A reaction: Adams points out that this is the same idea as Max Black's famous two spheres thought experiment. We assume that all the water drops are distinct from one another, even if we are unable to perceive the fact. Best explanation.
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 1. Types of Modality
Modalities do not augment our concepts; they express their relation to cognition
     Full Idea: The categories of modality have this peculiarity: as a determination of the object they do not augment the concept to which they are ascribed in the least, but rather express only the relation to the faculty of cognition.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B266/A219)
     A reaction: A nice summary of Kant's view of modality. It does not arise out of reality, or even out of the nature of our concepts, but out of the relations which our concepts enter into, in the processes of understanding. (Do I understand that?)
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 7. Natural Necessity
Natural necessity is the unconditioned necessity of appearances
     Full Idea: The unconditioned necessity of appearances can be called natural necessity.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B447/A419)
     A reaction: Kant can call it what he likes, but this isn't what we mean by 'natural necessity'. We mean a feature of reality, even if we can only use appearances to infer that feature. As usual, they can't tell their ontology from their epistemology.
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 1. Possibility
Is the possible greater than the actual, and the actual greater than the necessary?
     Full Idea: Whether the field of possibility is greater than the field that contains everything actual, and whether the latter is in turn greater than the set of that which is necessary, are proper questions.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B282/A230)
     A reaction: A good overview. Is the actual necessary (i.e. is only the actual possible?)? Why is the non-actual possible? What would a theory look like which explain why the necessary is necessary, the actual actual, and the possible possible? A religion?
The analytic mark of possibility is that it does not generate a contradiction
     Full Idea: The analytic mark of possibility is the fact that mere positings (realities) do not generate a contradiction.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B630/A602)
     A reaction: I think this is wrong. I would offer self-evident absurdity (but with no actual contradiction) as another analytic mark of possibility. Natural possibility may coincide with metaphysical possibility. Human thought does not determine possibilities.
A concept is logically possible if non-contradictory (but may not be actually possible)
     Full Idea: The concept is always possible if it does not contradict itself (the logical mark of possibility). Yet it can be an empty concept. ...We cannot infer from the possibility of the concept (logical possibility) to the possibility of the thing (real).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B624/A596 n)
That a concept is not self-contradictory does not make what it represents possible
     Full Idea: That the concept of a thing is possible (not self-contradictory) is not yet sufficient for assuming the possibility of the thing itself (the objective reality of the concept).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 382 Intro I)
     A reaction: I take this to be an inkling of Kripke's a posteriori scientific necessities, which place far greater restrictions on the possibilies of what we seem to have conceived, in addition to the mere need for consistency.
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 1. Sources of Necessity
Necessity cannot be extracted from an empirical proposition
     Full Idea: It is a clear contradiction to try to extract necessity from an empirical proposition.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], Pref)
     A reaction: This is precisely the idea which Kripke challenged, claiming that the necessary essences of natural kinds such as gold have to be discovered empirically. All my intuitions are with Kant (and Hume) on this, but it is a complex issue…
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 4. Necessity from Concepts
Formal experience conditions show what is possible, and general conditions what is necessary
     Full Idea: Whatever agrees with the formal conditions of experience is possible, ...and that whose connection with the actual is determined in accordance with general conditions of experience is (exists) necessarily.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B266/A218)
     A reaction: This is the Kantian view of necessity, as more concerned with how we think than with how the world is. I think there are necessities in reality, and philosophy endeavours to discern what they are (despite the mockery of scientists).
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 1. A Priori Necessary
For Kant metaphysics must be necessary, so a priori, so can't be justified by experience
     Full Idea: Kant maintained that metaphysics must be a body of necessary truths, and that necessary truths must be a priori, so metaphysical claims could not be justified by experience.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Tim Maudlin - The Metaphysics within Physics 3
     A reaction: I'm coming to the view that there is no a priori necessity, and that all necessities are entailments from the nature of reality. The apparent a priori necessities are just at a very high level of abstraction.
Maths must be a priori because it is necessary, and that cannot be derived from experience
     Full Idea: Mathematical propositions are always a priori judgments and are never empirical, because they carry necessity with them, which cannot be derived from experience.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B014)
     A reaction: Personally I like the idea that maths is the 'science of patterns', but then I take it that the features of patterns will be common to all possible worlds. Presumably a proposition could be contingent, and yet true in all possible worlds.
Necessity is always knowable a priori, and what is known a priori is always necessary
     Full Idea: The Kantian rationalist view is that what is necessary is always knowable a priori, and what is knowable a priori is always necessary.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Laura Schroeter - Two-Dimensional Semantics 2.3.1
     A reaction: Nice to get a clear spelling out of the two-way relationship here. Why couldn't Kant put it as clearly as this? See Kripke for the first big challenges to Kant's picture. I like aposteriori necessities.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 1. Knowledge
Knowledge is threefold: apprehension, reproduction by imagination, recognition by concepts
     Full Idea: Kant describes knowledge in terms of a 'threefold synthesis', in which something is first 'apprehended' as affecting the mind, then is 'reproduced' in the imagination, and finally is 'recognised' via a concept which classifies it.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 1 'Judgement'
     A reaction: Helpful. How does this distinguish knowledge from error (as Russell would enquire)? Is the 'apprehended', then, the unconceptualised 'Given'? I think that is what later German philosophers rebelled against in Kant.
'Transcendental' concerns how we know, rather than what we know
     Full Idea: The word 'transcendental' signifies not a relation of our cognition to things, but only to the faculty of cognition.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 4:293), quoted by A.W. Moore - The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics 5.4
     A reaction: This is the annoying abduction of a word which is very useful in metaphysical contexts.
Knowledge begins with intuitions, moves to concepts, and ends with ideas
     Full Idea: All human cognition begins with intuitions, goes from there to concepts, and ends with ideas.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B730/A702)
     A reaction: 'Ideas' is a vague term. 'Propositions' might fit better. The question is whether concept-free intuitions are possible. They sound here like Humean 'impressions'. The brain phenomenon of re-entry suggests that ideas in turn influence intuitions.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 2. Understanding
Kant showed that the understanding (unlike reason) concerns what is finite and conditioned
     Full Idea: Kant was the first to emphasize the distinction between understanding and reason in a definite way, establishing the finite and conditioned as the subject-matter of the former, and the infinite and unconditioned as that of the latter.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Georg W.F.Hegel - Logic (Encyclopedia I) §45 Add
     A reaction: This seems to match Plato's division of reality into the realm of experience and of the mind. I am inclined to see them as a unity, united by the many levels of abstraction. Frege is the modern spokesman for the Plato/Hegel view.
Reason is distinct from understanding, and is the faculty of rules or principles
     Full Idea: In the first part of our transcendental logic we defined the understanding as the faculty of rules; here we will distinguish reason from understanding by calling reason the faculty of principles.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B356/A299)
     A reaction: If we narrow the concept of rationality down to a concern with rules or principles, the concept of 'understanding' has to widen out to cover inferences from experience. Personally I think we can be rational about particulars as well as principles.
Understanding essentially involves singular elements
     Full Idea: For Kant understanding essentially involves singular elements (and reason is essentially general).
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Tyler Burge - Frege on Apriority (with ps) 3
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / a. Beliefs
Opinion is subjectively and objectively insufficient; belief is subjective but not objective; knowledge is both
     Full Idea: An 'opinion' is taking something to be true which is subjectively and objectively insufficient. 'Believing' is when it is subjectively sufficient and objectively insufficient. 'Knowing' is subjective and objective sufficiency (for myself, and everyone).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B850/A822)
     A reaction: He defines objectivity as being 'sufficient' for 'everyone'. Compare Aristotle's Idea 95. This implies a rather social criterion for knowledge, but doesn't deal with 'sufficient for a majority, but not everyone'. How high to set the bar?
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 5. Cogito Critique
'I think therefore I am' is an identity, not an inference (as there is no major premise)
     Full Idea: My existence cannot be regarded as inferred from the proposition "I think" (for otherwise the major premise "Everything that thinks, exists" would have to precede it), but rather it is identical with it.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B422)
     A reaction: "I think" can hardly be identical with "I exist". One is an activity, the other a state. I prefer: within the unified activity of thinking which is clearly occurring, it is self-evident that there must be an 'I' which holds it together.
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 2. Phenomenalism
There are possible inhabitants of the moon, but they are just possible experiences
     Full Idea: That there could be inhabitants of the moon, even though no human being has ever perceived them, must of course be admitted; but this means only that in the possible progress of experience we could encounter them.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B521/A493)
     A reaction: This seems a fairly precise statement of phenomenalism (compare A.J. Ayer's Idea 5170). Kant calls himself a 'transcendental idealist', which seems something like a true idealist who acknowledges Humean 'natural beliefs' in reality.
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 3. Idealism / a. Idealism
We have no sensual experience of time and space, so they must be 'ideal'
     Full Idea: Time and space, Kant concluded, were 'ideal' since they could not be objects of direct sensory experience, and therefore had to be available only as 'pure' representations. ...Hence time and space were not 'objects' out there in the world.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Terry Pinkard - German Philosophy 1760-1860 01
     A reaction: Put like this it sounds like a crazy application of empiricism, but demanding that space and time are experienced by the 'senses'. Can't we way that we experience them, but not through any particular sense? Kant at his most idealist.
Objects having to be experiencable is not the same as full idealism
     Full Idea: Being subject to the condition of experienceability - that is, necessarily related in some manner to intuition - is not the same as being composed of experiences in any sense (and particularly Berkeley's sense).
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Sebastian Gardner - Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason 08 'Non-phenom'
     A reaction: This is Gardner's best explanation of why Kant is definitely not a Berkeleyan idealist (who claims objects ARE conscious experiences)
If we disappeared, then all relations of objects, and time and space themselves, disappear too
     Full Idea: If we remove our own subject ...then all the constitution, all relations of objects in space and time, indeed space and time themselves would disappear, and as appearances they cannot exist in themselves, but only in us.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B059/A42)
     A reaction: Apart from over-cautious 'as appearances', this seems like simple Berkleyean idealism, and hence rather silly. The first commitment of realism (mine, anyway) is that at least time and space would survive our disappearance.
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 3. Idealism / b. Transcendental idealism
I admit there are bodies outside us
     Full Idea: I do indeed admit that there are bodies outside us.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 289 n.II)
     A reaction: This is the end of a passage in which Kant very explicitly denies being an idealist. Of course, he says we can only know the representations of things, and not how they are in themselves.
Kant's idealism is a limited idealism based on the viewpoint of empiricism
     Full Idea: Kant's idealism is a limited idealism - idealism based on the viewpoint of empiricism.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Ludwig Feuerbach - Principles of Philosophy of the Future §17
     A reaction: This would place Kant as closer to Berkeley than to Hegel. Good for Kant, I say. He had the good sense to see that the crucial challenge to understanding is that offered by David Hume.
In Kantian idealism, objects fit understanding, not vice versa
     Full Idea: In Kantian idealism, the objects conform to the understanding, and not the understanding to the objects.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Ludwig Feuerbach - Principles of Philosophy of the Future §17
     A reaction: This labels Kant as an idealist, but he was also a realist (of a very minimal sort). Modern cognitive science shows clearly that Kant is at least partially correct. Personally I think I see squares as square because they are square.
For Kant experience is either structured like reality, or generates reality's structure
     Full Idea: On the analytic interpretation of Kant (by Strawson) ...the structure of experience ultimately reduces to the structure of what is experienced. ...In the idealist view (of D. Heinrich) experience itself has an inherent structure.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Sebastian Gardner - Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason 02 'Interpretations'
     A reaction: Gardner thinks Strawson has got it wrong, and makes a good case for his view. Strawson's view sounds more like the empiricist view of concepts. I prefer that view, but I doubt whether it is Kant's.
The concepts that make judgeable experiences possible are created spontaneously
     Full Idea: The concepts that make sensory experience possible are not innate, but are generated by the spontaneity of the human mind itself as it shapes our experiences in to judgemental form.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Terry Pinkard - German Philosophy 1760-1860 01
     A reaction: Pinkard emphasises this creative spontaneity of the mind as a key idea in Kant, and in the generation that followed him. An account is needed of how the spontaneity matches reality, rather than being private. What about words (like 'telephone').
'Transcendental' is not beyond experience, but a prerequisite of experience
     Full Idea: The word 'transcendental' does not mean something that goes beyond all experience, but something which, though it precedes (a priori) all experience, is destined only to make knowledge by experience possible.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 373 n)
     A reaction: One of two explanations by Kant of 'transcendental', picked out by Sebastian Gardner. I think the word 'prerequisite' covers the idea nicely, using a normal English word. Or am I missing something?
'Transcendental' cognition concerns what can be known a priori of its mode
     Full Idea: I call all cognition 'transcendental' that is occupied not so much with objects but rather with our mode of cognition of objects insofar as this is to be possible a priori.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B025/A11)
     A reaction: Kant thinks this enquiry is a highly rational affair, but it sounds more like hopeful introspective psychology to me. If you find some prerequisites for an activity, how do you know there aren't others you have missed?
We cannot know things in themselves, but are confined to appearances
     Full Idea: We have no insight into the possibility of noumena (things in themselves), and the domain outside the sphere of appearances is empty (for us).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B310/A255)
     A reaction: Yet another philosopher confusing ontology and epistemology! Every day we go beyond our experiences by inference (smoke means fire). Metaphysics is the inference of the nature of things in themselves, from within our prison of appearances.
We have proved that bodies are appearances of the outer senses, not things in themselves
     Full Idea: In the transcendental aesthetic we have undeniably proved that bodies are mere appearances of our outer senses, and not things in themselves.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B406-/A357)
     A reaction: This seems a strongly idealistic remark, which is a bit qualified when he talks of the existence of the unknowable 'noumenon' behind appearances, and he rejects idealism when he labels it a 'paralogism' at A367, preferring 'transcendental idealism'.
Everything we intuit is merely a representation, with no external existence (Transcendental Idealism)
     Full Idea: We have proved that everything intuited in space or time, hence all possible objects of experience, are nothing but appearances, mere representations, which ...have outside our thoughts no existence grounded in itself. I call this Transcendental Idealism.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B519/A491)
     A reaction: It is only 'transcendental' idealism because it is what can be learned from deconstructing our own cognition, while remaining neutral (I assume) about whether the things-in-themselves are mere ideas. He is notoriousy ambivalent.
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 3. Idealism / d. Absolute idealism
Transcendental philosophy is the subject becoming the originator of unified reality
     Full Idea: Transcendental philosophy is the act of consciousness whereby the subject becomes the originator of itself and, thereby, of the whole object of technical-practical and moral-practical reason in one system - ordering all things in God
     From: Immanuel Kant (Posthumous notes [1799], 21:78, p.245), quoted by A.W. Moore - The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics 06 App
     A reaction: This is evidently Kant's last word on the matter (c.1799), and Moore says he was drifting close to Fichte's idealism, in which reality is actually (sort of) created by our own minds. Disappointing! God's role here is unclear.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 1. Nature of the A Priori
Kant's shift of view enables us to see a priority in terms of mental capacity, not truth and propositions
     Full Idea: Kant's shift in his understanding of apriority from the content of truth and of proof-sequences of propositions to the character of cognitive procedures opens more possibilities for understanding the sources of apriority, in capacities and mental acts.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Tyler Burge - Frege on Apriority I
     A reaction: [Burge attributes the alternative view to Leibniz and Frege] This harmless-looking thought seems to me right at the heart of what I take to be a discrete cold war going on between logicians and philosophers. Logic is in retreat!
A priori knowledge is limited to objects of possible experience
     Full Idea: Kant says that a priori knowledge is limited to objects of possible experience, and this is the core thesis of his distinctive doctrine of transcendental idealism.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Nicholas Jolley - Leibniz Ch.8
     A reaction: Some people would even challenge this bold claim for a priori knowledge, but this idea shows why Kant was said to have put an end to old fashioned speculative metaphysics. For Kant, a priori knowledge seems to be something like introspection.
A priori knowledge occurs absolutely independently of all experience
     Full Idea: We will understand by a priori cognitions not those that occur independently of this or that experience, but rather those that occur absolutely independently of all experience.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B003)
     A reaction: Kitcher quotes this, and raises questions about how widely we should understand 'experience', and how strongly we can assert total 'independence'. But then he is attacking the whole idea of a priori knowledge. He modifies Kant's formulation (Idea 12415).
One sort of a priori knowledge just analyses given concepts, but another ventures further
     Full Idea: Analysis of concepts affords us a multitude of cognitions which are illuminations or clarifications of what is already thought, and yields a priori cognition. Reason also surreptitiously makes a priori assertions, which add something alien to the concept.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B009/A5)
     A reaction: This is at the heart of Kant's programme, to disentangle these two, and especially to turn a strong critical light on the second one. He does not deny the possibility of a priori knowledge beyond conceptual analysis, but is wary.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 2. Self-Evidence
Experienceless bodies have space; propertyless bodies have substance; this must be seen a priori
     Full Idea: Remove from your experiential concept of a body everything empirical (colour, hardness etc), and there still remains its space. If you remove all the properties which experience teaches you, there remains substance. This shows your a priori faculty.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B006)
     A reaction: Presumably you can also 'remove' the space and the substance. Maybe there are no actual items such as spaces or substances, so getting both of them wrong wouldn't be a good advertisement for the faculty. It's just imagination?
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 3. Innate Knowledge / a. Innate knowledge
We are equipped with the a priori intuitions needed for the concept of right
     Full Idea: Reason has taken care that the understanding is as fully equipped as possible with a priori intuitions for the construction of the concept of right.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], Intro E)
     A reaction: A priori intuitions are not the same as innate knowledge or innate concepts, but they must require some sort of inbuilt inner resources. Further evidence that Kant is a rationalist philosopher (if we were unsure).
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 4. A Priori as Necessities
Two plus two objects make four objects even if experience is impossible, so Kant is wrong
     Full Idea: Two physical objects and two other physical objects must make four physical objects, even if physical objects cannot be experienced, so Kant's solution unduly limits the scope of a priori propositions.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Bertrand Russell - Problems of Philosophy Ch.8
     A reaction: The point seems good, though it is doubtful whether Russell is entitled to be so confident. If the basis of a priori certainty is pushed outside the mind, our ontology becomes dramatically more complicated.
Propositions involving necessity are a priori, and pure a priori if they only derive from other necessities
     Full Idea: If a proposition is thought along with its necessity, it is an a priori judgement; if it is, moreover, also not derived from any proposition except one that in turn is valid as a necessary proposition, then it is absolutely a priori.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B003)
     A reaction: The misunderstanding behind this is that we can obtain certainty in this way. I presume that consistency with empirical experience would increase our certainty of (say) maths or logic. There is no 'pure' a priori, delivering 'pure' necessity.
The apriori is independent of its sources, and marked by necessity and generality
     Full Idea: Kant defines apriority in terms of independence from genesis and from sense experience, and it is indicated by its necessity and by it generality or universality.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B003-4) by Tyler Burge - Frege on Apriority (with ps) 2
A priori knowledge is indispensable for the possibility and certainty of experience
     Full Idea: One could establish the indispensability of the reality of pure a priori principles for the possibility of experience itself, and thus establish it a priori. Where would experience gets its certainty if it was based on empirical, contingent rules?
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B005)
     A reaction: [compressed] There seems a touch of circularity here, apart from the transcendental argument. Proving the a priori by a priori means? All very odd. And experience is certain because it is based on a priori rules, which are necessary?
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 5. A Priori Synthetic
Kant bases the synthetic a priori on the categories of oneness and manyness
     Full Idea: The categories of oneness and manyness are the basis of what Kant terms 'synthetic judgements a priori'.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 1 'First'
     A reaction: This is a solution to the paradoxes of one and many that bothered Plato. I think it is best seen in our capacity to count things, and the individuation which must precede that. Atomism and holism.
Kant showed that we have a priori knowledge which is not purely analytic
     Full Idea: Kant deserves credit for showing that we have a priori knowledge which is not purely 'analytic', i.e. such that the opposite would be self-contradictory.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Bertrand Russell - Problems of Philosophy Ch. 8
     A reaction: It is noteworthy that a great empiricist philosopher makes this judgement. But how do you spot an a priori truth, apart from seeing that its opposite would be a contradiction? Where else can its force come from?
We can think of 7 and 5 without 12, but it is still a contradiction to deny 7+5=12
     Full Idea: From the fact that one can think of the sum of seven and five without necessarily thinking of twelve, it by no means follows that the proposition '7+5=12' can be denied without self-contradiction.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by A.J. Ayer - Language,Truth and Logic Ch.4
     A reaction: Kant's claim that arithmetic was synthetic always looked glib and dubious, and this pinpoints an objection very nicely. It appears that the great Kant has confused his epistemology with his ontology.
Seeing that only one parallel can be drawn to a line through a given point is clearly synthetic a priori
     Full Idea: Kant took Euclidean geometry to be an obvious source of synthetic a prior truths, as one can just see that through a point outside a straight line one and only one parallel to it can be drawn.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by José A. Benardete - Metaphysics: the logical approach Ch.18
A priori synthetic knowledge is only of appearances, not of things in themselves
     Full Idea: Through intuition we can only know objects as they appear to us (to our senses), not as they may be in themselves; and this presupposition is absolutely necessary if synthetic propositions a priori are to be granted as possible.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 283)
     A reaction: This idea is basic to understanding Kant, and especially his claim that arithmetic is a priori synthetic.
That a straight line is the shortest is synthetic, as straight does not imply any quantity
     Full Idea: That the straight line between two points is the shortest is a synthetic proposition. For my concept of the straight contains nothing of quantity, but only a quality. The concept of shortest is additional, and cannot be extracted by analysis.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B016)
     A reaction: We should ask Kant to define 'straight' without mentioning 'shortest'. If you think of a long walk between two towns, it becomes obvious that the straight line will be defined by being the shortest line.
That force and counter-force are equal is necessary, and a priori synthetic
     Full Idea: In the proposition that in all communication of motion effect and counter-effect must always be equal, not only the necessity, and thus its a priori origin, but also that it is a synthetic proposition is clear.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B017)
     A reaction: No, I don't follow that. God might have made Newton's Third Law that every time you push a wall it pushes you back with double force. Looks like a Humean a posteriori observation of regularity to me.
The real problem of pure reason is: how are a priori synthetic judgments possible?
     Full Idea: The real problem of pure reason is contained in the question: How are synthetic judgments a priori possible?
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B019)
     A reaction: If they are possible, I would say that is not 'the real problem of pure reason', but the real problem of understanding the underlying nature of reality. I doubt whether we know much of reality by 'pure' reason, but we might 'see' that it is necessary.
That two lines cannot enclose a space is an intuitive a priori synthetic proposition
     Full Idea: The proposition that with two straight lines no space can be enclosed cannot be derived from the concept of straight lines and the number two. You are forced to take refuge in intuition, ..which is a pure a priori intuition of a synthetic proposition.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B065/A47)
     A reaction: A very nice example. If you gave a child two rods and told them to make a shape, they might quickly learn this from experience. Kant's proposal is nice, but I am not convinced. We learn that to create shapes you must turn corners.
Are a priori concepts necessary as a precondition for something to be an object?
     Full Idea: The question is whether a priori concepts precede, as conditions under which alone something can be, if not intuited, nevertheless thought as objects in general.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B125/A93)
     A reaction: This remains a good question. Some sort of synthesis of impressions is required in order to perceive an object. To think of it as a rational inference seems wildly wrong, as it is instantaneous. How do dogs get along, I wonder….
7+5=12 is not analytic, because 12 is not contained in 7 or 5 or their combination
     Full Idea: 7+5=12 is not an analytic proposition, for I do not think the number 12 either in the representation of 7 nor in that of 5 nor in the representation of the combination of the two.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B205/A164)
     A reaction: Unconvincing. The third option sounds analytic. Present it as: if you start at 7 and move 5 places along the natural number sequence, you have arrived at the answer (so find out its name). Or rename '12' as 'sevenplusfive'?
We possess synthetic a priori knowledge in our principles which anticipate experience
     Full Idea: We are already in possession of synthetic a priori cognition, as is established by the principles of understanding, which anticipate experience.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B790/A762)
     A reaction: When put like this, I remain unconvinced that the mental states to which Kant refers should actually qualify as cognition/knowledge. If we have to look through rose-tinted spectacles, this doesn't make rose-colour a truth, or even a belief.
The categorical imperative is a practical synthetic a priori proposition
     Full Idea: With the categorical imperative or law of morality we have a very serious difficulty, because it is a synthetic a priori practical proposition.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 420.50)
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 6. A Priori from Reason
Reason contains within itself certain underived concepts and principles
     Full Idea: Reason itself contains the origin of certain concepts and principles, which it derives neither from the senses nor from the understanding.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B355/A299)
     A reaction: You might say that these principles are known 'by the natural light' rather than being innate, but if they are not even 'derived from the understanding', that seems to leave them innate, which is a classic hallmark of a rationalist philosopher.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 7. A Priori from Convention
If, as Kant says, arithmetic and logic are contributed by us, they could change if we did
     Full Idea: The main objection to Kant's philosophy is that to say that logic and arithmetic are contributed by us does not account for its certainty; if Kant is right, then tomorrow our nature could so change as to make two and two become five.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Bertrand Russell - Problems of Philosophy Ch.8
     A reaction: One would expect a realist like Russell to have fairly fundamental objections to the implied anti-realism (and conventionalism) of Kant. The same comment could be made about Kant's view of space, time and causation.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 8. A Priori as Analytic
No analysis of the sum of seven and five will in itself reveal twelve
     Full Idea: The concept of twelve is by no means already thought merely by my thinking of the unification of seven and five, and no matter how long I analyze my concept of such a possible sum I will still not find twelve in it.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B015)
     A reaction: I don't find this convincing. All sums can be revealed by analysing the relationships within the sequence of natural numbers.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 9. A Priori from Concepts
For Kant analytic knowledge needs complex concepts, but the a priori can rest on the simple
     Full Idea: As Kant saw it, analytic knowledge is possible only in the presence of conceptual complexity, but it should have been clear that simple concepts, unaided by intuition, are as apt as their complex counterparts to act as grounds of a priori knowledge.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by J. Alberto Coffa - The Semantic Tradition from Kant to Carnap 1 'Analyt'
     A reaction: The point is that the concept must 'contain' something for Kant's account of what is analytic. This seems to be a very important thought for those who think the a priori is entirely analytic.
A priori intuitions can only concern the objects of our senses
     Full Idea: Intuitions which are possible a priori can never concern any other things than objects of our senses.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 283)
     A reaction: Given the Kantian idea that what is known a priori will also be necessary, we might have had great hopes for big-time metaphysics, but this idea cuts it down to size. Personally, I don't think we are totally imprisoned in the phenomena.
With large numbers it is obvious that we could never find the sum by analysing the concepts
     Full Idea: It is clearer that all arithmetical propositions are synthetic if we take larger numbers, for it is then clear that, twist and turn our concepts as we will, without help from intuition we could never find the sum by means of the mere analysis of concepts.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B016)
     A reaction: I don't see this. Obviously we may not know the name of the number which is the answer. We must analyse 'plus' as well as the component numbers. How can it be synthetic if no experience is involved?
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 10. A Priori as Subjective
A priori intuition of objects is only possible by containing the form of my sensibility
     Full Idea: The only way for my intuition to precede the reality of the object and take place as knowledge a priori is if it contains nothing else than the form of sensibility which in me as subject precedes all real impressions through which I'm affected by objects.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 283)
     A reaction: This may be the single most famous idea in Kant. I'm not really a Kantian, but this is a powerful idea, the culmination of Descartes' proposal to start philosophy by looking at ourselves. No subsequent thinking can ignore the idea.
A priori the understanding can only anticipate possible experiences
     Full Idea: The understanding can never accomplish a priori anything more than to anticipate the form of a possible experience in general.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B303/A246)
     A reaction: This is why many people think that Kant brough metaphysical (ontological) speculation to an end. He asserts that synthetic a priori knowledge is possible, but then imposes a huge limitation on it.
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / b. Primary/secondary
We know the shape of a cone from its concept, but we don't know its colour
     Full Idea: The shape of a cone we can form for ourselves in intuition, unassisted by any experience, according to its concept alone, but the colour of this cone must be previously given in some experience or other.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B743/A715)
     A reaction: Coffa says this gives a 'transcendental twist' to the primary/secondary distinction. The distinction doesn't seem to help much, since you clearly don't know the shape of a pebble from its concept. Is the angle of the cone part of its concept?
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / d. Secondary qualities
I can make no sense of the red experience being similar to the quality in the object
     Full Idea: I can make little sense of the assertion that the sensation of red is similar to the property of the vermilion [cinnabar] which excites this sensation in me.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 290)
     A reaction: A sensible remark. In Kant's case it is probably a part of his scepticism that his intuitions reveal anything directly about reality. Locke seems to have thought (reasonably enough) that the experience contains some sort of valid information.
Colours and tastes are not qualities of things, but alterations of the subject
     Full Idea: Things like colors, taste etc. are correctly considered not as qualities of things but as mere alterations of our subject, which can even be different in different people.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B045/A29)
     A reaction: This acceptance of the category of 'secondary' qualities shows that Kant is not totally daft about reality. He 'considers them as' alterations in the subject, but how does he view primary qualities? Not, I think, as features of the noumenon.
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / e. Primary/secondary critique
I count the primary features of things (as well as the secondary ones) as mere appearances
     Full Idea: I also count as mere appearances, in addition to [heat, colour, taste], the remaining qualities of bodies which are called primariae, extension, place, and space in general, with all that depends on it (impenetrability or materiality, shape etc.).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 289 n.II)
     A reaction: He sides with Berkeley and Hume against Locke and Boyle. He denies being an idealist (Idea 16923), so it seems to me that Kant might be described as a 'phenomenalist'.
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 3. Representation
I can't intuit a present thing in itself, because the properties can't enter my representations
     Full Idea: It seems inconceivable how the intuition of a thing that is present should make me know it as it is in itself, for its properties cannot migrate into my faculty of representation.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 282)
     A reaction: One might compare this with Locke's distinction of primary and secondary, where the primary properties seem to 'migrate into my faculty of representation', but the secondary ones fail to do so. I think I prefer Locke. This idea threatens idealism.
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 5. Interpretation
Kant says the cognitive and sensory elements in experience can't be separated
     Full Idea: Kant maintains that it is impossible to draw a suitable distinction between the cognitive and sensory 'elements' in sensory experience.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Jonathan Dancy - Intro to Contemporary Epistemology 8.4
12. Knowledge Sources / C. Rationalism / 1. Rationalism
We cannot represent objects unless we combine concepts with intuitions
     Full Idea: Understanding and sensibility can determine an object only in combination; if we separate them, then we have intuitions without concepts, or concepts without intuitions, but in either case representations that we cannot relate to any determinate objects.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B314/A258)
     A reaction: Although Kant seems to be rejecting the rationalist v empiricist debate, I take this to be evidence that Kant was a rationalist, because he thinks understanding cannot arise just from sensibility.
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 2. Associationism
Associations and causes cannot explain content, which needs norms of judgement
     Full Idea: Kant said the representational content of thought could not be explained by patterns of association or by naturalistically understood causal patterns; the cognitive content of thought is constituted entirely by the norms governing judgemental synthesis.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Terry Pinkard - German Philosophy 1760-1860 01
     A reaction: I'd be inclined to say that it needs a concept of truth, rather than Kant's tangle of norms and categories. Maybe the content is there before the associations get to work.
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 4. Pro-Empiricism
For Kant, our conceptual scheme is disastrous when it reaches beyond experience
     Full Idea: For Kant, the conceptual apparatus that structures our experience for us will inevitably lead to intellectual disasters when it is applied to matters completely beyond experience.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Robert Fogelin - Walking the Tightrope of Reason Ch.3
     A reaction: This is the empiricist side of Kant, influenced by Hume. I don't agree with Kant on this. I just think that speculation and abstract theory are much more difficult and error-prone than science, because you can't keep checking against raw facts.
Appearance gives truth, as long as it is only used within experience
     Full Idea: Appearance brings forth truth so long as it is used in experience, but as soon as it goes beyond the boundary of experience and becomes transcendent, it brings forth nothing but illusion.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 292 n.III)
     A reaction: This is the nearest I have found to Kant declaring for empiricism. It sounds something like direct realism, if experience itself can bring forth truth.
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 5. Empiricism Critique
Understanding has no intuitions, and senses no thought, so knowledge needs their unity
     Full Idea: The understanding is not capable of intuiting anything, and the senses are not capable of thinking anything. Only from their unification can cognition arise.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B075/A51)
     A reaction: At first glance this seems to settle the rationalist-empiricist debate at a stroke, by rejecting the rationalist dream of knowledge arising from pure intuitions, and the empiricist dream of knowledge from pure sensation. It can't be that simple, though…
Sensations are a posteriori, but that they come in degrees is known a priori
     Full Idea: All sensations are given only a posteriori, but their property of have a degree can be cognised only a priori.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B218/A176)
     A reaction: Study the context to be fair to Kant, but this seems very unconvincing. If we were constructed in some more digital way, our sensations might be binary, so their 'degree' can hardly be a necessity.
12. Knowledge Sources / E. Direct Knowledge / 2. Intuition
Kantian intuitions are of particulars, and they give immediate knowledge
     Full Idea: For Kant, intuitions are singular, in the sense that they are modes of representing individual objects, and are needed for numbers and geometric figures; ..they also yield immediate knowledge, and are tied to sense perceptions.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Stewart Shapiro - Thinking About Mathematics 4.2
     A reaction: The ordinary usage of the word 'intuition' agrees on the immediate knowledge produced, but not on the 'singular' aspect of it, so that is the respect in which Kant's use is a term of art. Why have a special faculty for singular apprehensions?
Intuition is a representation that depends on the presence of the object
     Full Idea: Intuition is a representation, such as would depend on the presence of the object.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 282)
     A reaction: This is a distinctively Kantian view of intuition, which arises through particulars, rather than the direct apprehension of generalities.
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 3. Internal or External / b. Pro-externalism
If we knew what we know, we would be astonished
     Full Idea: If we only know what we know ...we would be astonished by the treasures contained in our knowledge.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Wiener Logik [1795], p.843), quoted by J. Alberto Coffa - The Semantic Tradition from Kant to Carnap 1 'Conc'
     A reaction: Nice remark. He doesn't require immediat recall of knowledge. You can't be required to know that you know something. That doesn't imply externalism, though. I believe in securely founded internal knowledge which is hard to recall.
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 4. Foundationalism / f. Foundationalism critique
A sufficient but general sign of truth cannot possibly be provided
     Full Idea: It is clear that a sufficient and yet at the same time general sign of truth cannot possibly be provided.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B083/A59)
     A reaction: In relation to the quest of Sextus Empiricus to find the 'criterion' of knowledge, this makes Kant a sceptic. It certainly seems to rule out any foundationalist view of knowledge. (Clearly Kant believes that an account of knowledge is possible).
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 5. Coherentism / a. Coherence as justification
Kant says knowledge is when our representations sufficiently conform to our concepts
     Full Idea: Kant, in his epistemology, turns the issue of scepticism around by acknowledging that, although we can never know things-in-themselves, the objects of our representations conform to the concepts we have of them in a manner sufficient for knowledge.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Simon Critchley - Continental Philosophy - V. Short Intro Ch.2
     A reaction: This seems to invite the problem of a brain-in-a-vat, which is fed absurd representations, and set up with a bunch of silly concepts that conform to the representations.
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 1. Scepticism
Kant thought he had refuted scepticism, but his critics say he is a sceptic, for rejecting reality
     Full Idea: Kant believed he had given a decisive answer to traditional scepticism, since we can no longer be mistaken about objects, but his critics say he is a sceptic, because he relinquishes our grasp of independent things.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Paul O'Grady - Relativism Ch.3
     A reaction: A simple issue to raise about the man, my first reaction being that he is a sceptic. He says the 'noumenon' (true reality) is unknowable, but I say we can meaningfully speculate and theorise about it.
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 6. Scepticism Critique
Scepticism is the euthanasia of pure reason
     Full Idea: Reason is tempted to surrender itself to a sceptical hopelessness, which might also be called the euthanasia of pure reason.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B434/A407)
     A reaction: Colin McGinn's 'mysterian' pessimism about the mind-body problem comes to mind!
Scepticism is absurd in maths, where there are no hidden false assertions
     Full Idea: The sceptical method would be absurd in mathematics, because nowhere in mathematics do false assertions disguise themselves and make themselves invisible.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B452/A424)
     A reaction: An interesting observation. The implication I take here is that scepticism in the realm of sensation is justified, precisely because errors and illusion do occur.
13. Knowledge Criteria / E. Relativism / 1. Relativism
For Kant, experience is relative to a scheme, but there are no further possible schemes
     Full Idea: For Kant, experience is relativised to a categorial framework, but there is no further relativisation, at least in any deep respect, to a plurality of possible conceptual schemes.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Robert Fogelin - Walking the Tightrope of Reason Ch.3
     A reaction: This point is enlarged nicely by Davidson, in his view that we could make no sense of a different 'conceptual scheme' (Idea 6398). Kant's resistance to speculation prevents him imagining how it might be to be an angel, or an alien, or a Hopi.
14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 6. Falsification
If a proposition implies any false consequences, then it is false
     Full Idea: If only a single false consequence can be derived from a proposition, then this proposition is false.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B819/A791)
     A reaction: Seems right. Of course, it might imply entirely true consequences, and still be false. This idea has to be one of the foundations (sic) of coherentism about truth and justification.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / j. Explanations by reduction
Science is the reduction of diverse forces and powers to a smaller number that explain them
     Full Idea: All natural philosophy consists in the reduction of given forces apparently diverse to a smaller number of forces and powers sufficient for the explication of the actions of the former.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science [1786], 534)
     A reaction: I'm beginning to think science is just tracking of complex forces and powers back to fundamental forces and powers. In which case, that is the analysis Kant is talking of. The standard model of physics would thrill him to bits.
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 3. Mental Causation
Freedom and natural necessity do not contradict, as they relate to different conditions
     Full Idea: Are freedom and natural necessity contradictory in an action? We have shown that freedom can relate to conditions of a kind entirely different from those in natural necessity, so each is independent of the other.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B585/A557)
     A reaction: I'm not sure I understand this, but I suspect that it means that a serious case of kleptomania while never provide even the hint of an excuse for a minor theft. We're all free, and that's that. I am dubious.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / f. Higher-order thought
Kant thought that consciousness depends on self-consciousness ('apperception')
     Full Idea: Kant thought that consciousness in general depends for its possibility on self-consciousness (or, as he called it, 'apperception').
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Tim Crane - Elements of Mind 3.21
     A reaction: What would Kant have made of Darwin? Consciousness looks very useful in small dim animals for registering survival information.
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 1. Faculties
Kant's only answer as to how synthetic a priori judgements are possible was that we have a 'faculty'!
     Full Idea: Kant asked himself: how are synthetic judgements a priori possible? And what, really, did he answer? By means of a faculty!
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Friedrich Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil §011
Reason has logical and transcendental faculties
     Full Idea: Reason has logical and transcendental faculties.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B355/A299)
     A reaction: The notion of a transcendental faculty is not entirely clear (despite all Kant's efforts), but it is certainly vital to grasp that rationality extends way beyond logic. The clearest example is induction, which is rational, despite its shortage of logic.
Judgements which are essentially and strictly universal reveal our faculty of a priori cognition
     Full Idea: Empirical universality is an increase in validity from most cases to all cases (e.g. all bodies are heavy), whereas strict universality belongs to a judgement essentially; this points to a special faculty of a priori cognition for it.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B004)
     A reaction: I would say that 'strict' universality arises not directly from some faculty, but from increasing degrees of refinement by abstraction. It is merely the iterations of a lower faculty, not the pure deliverances of a higher one.
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 2. Imagination
We are seldom aware of imagination, but we would have no cognition at all without it
     Full Idea: Imagination - a blind though indispensable function of the soul, without which we would have no cognition at all, but of which we are seldom even conscious.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B103/A78)
     A reaction: I'm not sure why he calls it 'blind', since I can very deliberate control imagination. Neverthless, I applaud his recognition of imagination's central importance, even (I take it) in the simple act of looking out of the window.
16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 4. Persons as Agents
Within nature man is unimportant, but as moral person he is above any price
     Full Idea: In the system of nature, man is a being of slight importance ....but man regarded as a person, that is as the subject of a morally practical reason, is exalted above any price.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 434 I.I)
     A reaction: See what you've done, John Locke? You've given yet another ground for claiming that humans are angels or demi-gods, exalted far above our animal cousins.
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 3. Self as Non-physical
I can express the motion of my body in a single point, but that doesn't mean it is a simple substance
     Full Idea: I can express the motion of my body through the motion of a point, since its volume is not relevant, but I could not infer from this that if I know nothing except the moving force of a body, that then the body can be conceived as a simple substance.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B812/A784)
     A reaction: A nice analogy. The centre of gravity of a body is an abstraction, and people (such as Cartesians) who represent personal identity as being atomic seem to be discussing an abstraction rather than the real thing. My personal self is a bit of a mess.
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 4. Presupposition of Self
To some extent we must view ourselves as noumena
     Full Idea: To some extent we must view ourselves as noumena.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Christine M. Korsgaard - Intro to 'Creating the Kingdom of Ends' xi
     A reaction: An illuminating idea. We are inclined to thing of reality as 'out there', and hence potentially unreachable, but we actually experience 'being reality' directly in ourselves. Is this the germ of the whole of continental philosophy?
Representation would be impossible without the 'I think' that accompanies it
     Full Idea: The 'I thinks' must be able to accompany all my representations; for otherwise something would be represented in me that could not be thought at all, which is as much as to say that representation would be impossible, or would be nothing to me.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B132)
     A reaction: This is evidently a flat rejection of Hume's claim that he is a bundle of experiences with no self to co-ordinate them. Presumably this should apply to animals too, if they 'represent' their world (and how could they not?).
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 7. Self and Body / a. Self needs body
We need an account of the self based on rational principles, to avoid materialism
     Full Idea: Why do we have need of a doctrine of the soul grounded merely on pure rational principles? Without doubt chiefly with the intent of securing our thinking Self from the danger of materialism.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B406-/A383)
     A reaction: And why is materialism a 'danger'? Only, I think, because it would make immortality impossible. Huge chunks of Enlightenment philosophy are the last vestiges of the religious view of reality. I think we can base morality on a material self.
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 2. Knowing the Self
Self-knowledge can only be inner sensation, and thus appearance
     Full Idea: We know even ourselves only through inner sense, thus as appearance.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B334/A278)
     A reaction: I'm not sure what it means to say that 'inner sense' is merely 'appearance'. Surely appearance is reality, within a mind? To want to see the real 'me' behind the world of inner appearances is a very odd kind of dream.
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 3. Limits of Introspection
I have no cognition of myself as I am, but only as I appear to myself
     Full Idea: I have no cognition of myself as I am, but only as I appear to myself.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B158)
     A reaction: The key thought of the 'transcendental ego', showing a clear difference from Descartes, who thinks he directly knows himself (Idea 1401). He disagrees with Hume (Idea 1317) when he says there is an appearance. What could the true ego be like?
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 2. Mental Continuity / c. Inadequacy of mental continuity
I can only determine my existence in time via external things
     Full Idea: The determination of my existence in time is possible only by means of the existence of actual things that I perceive outside of myself.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B275)
     A reaction: This may be the germ of Hegel's much more social view of the self. Kant is only concerned with the question of identity across time.
As balls communicate motion, so substances could communicate consciousness, but not retain identity
     Full Idea: A series of elastic balls can successively communicate motion to one another. If mental substances communicated consciousness in this way, the last substance would be conscious of the previous states, but would not be the very same person.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B406-/A364)
     A reaction: A nice attack on John Locke's proposal, though Locke was aware of this scenario, and claimed the identity followed the consciousness. Clearly, though, if I share my thoughts with you, you don't instantly become me!
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 3. Reference of 'I'
For Kant the self is a purely formal idea, not a substance
     Full Idea: Kant insists that the 'I' of consciousness is purely formal, and does not carry with it any positive conception of the self as substance.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B406-/A398-9) by Michael Lockwood - Mind, Brain and the Quantum p.169
     A reaction: We might agree that a self does not involve any awareness of the substance of which it is constituted, but it is hard to see why we might get so worked up about the past, present and future of something which is 'purely formal'.
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 7. Self and Thinking
Mental representations would not be mine if they did not belong to a unified self-consciousness
     Full Idea: The manifold representations that are given in a certain intuition would not all together be my representations if they did not all together belong to a self-consciousness.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B132)
     A reaction: Kant's 'transcendental ego' may only be a posh way of restating the Cartesian Cogito. Descartes was keen to assert not only that there must be a thinker, but also that its essence was to be unified in a manner beyond the physical (Ideas 2303 and 1400).
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 1. Nature of Free Will
We must assume an absolute causal spontaneity beginning from itself
     Full Idea: It must be assumed that there is an absolute causal spontaneity beginning from itself.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B474/A446)
     A reaction: Note that this is part of the Antinomies (conflicts) of pure reason. This phrase is a beautiful statement of the dream that is free will.
Free will is a kind of causality which works independently of other causes
     Full Idea: Will is a kind of causality belonging to living beings so far as they are rational. Freedom would then be the property this causality has of being able to work independently of determination by alien causes.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 446.97)
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 2. Sources of Free Will
The manifest will in the world of phenomena has to conform to the laws of nature
     Full Idea: Whatever conception of the freedom of the will one may form in terms of metaphysics, the will's manifestations in the world of phenomena, i.e. human actions, are determined in accordance with natural laws, as is every other natural event.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Idea for a Universal History [1784], Intro)
     A reaction: So free will either requires total substance dualism, or it is best described as transcendental fictionalism. This seems to imply the Leibnizian idea that metaphysics contains facts which having nothing to do with the physical world.
We shall never be able to comprehend how freedom is possible
     Full Idea: We shall never be able to comprehend how freedom is possible.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 456.115)
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 4. For Free Will
We must be free, because we can act against our strongest desires
     Full Idea: The fact that we are able to act against our strongest desires reveals to us that we are free, and so are members of the intelligible world.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Christine M. Korsgaard - Intro to 'Creating the Kingdom of Ends' Ch.1
     A reaction: Can he prove that we can act against our strongest desires? If you choose to drown yourself in the sink, you may just be in the grips of a very strong desire to do so, which defeats the normal desire to survive.
If there is a first beginning, there can be other sequences initiated from nothing
     Full Idea: Because we must establish the necessity of a first beginning to make comprehensible an origin of the world, we are permitted to allow that in the course of the world different series may begin on their own as far as their causality is concerned.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B478/A450)
     A reaction: This reinforces my firmly held view, that human free will is a bogus concept, which was invented in order place God above nature, and then ascribed to human beings because no other explanation of moral responsibility could be found.
We cannot conceive of reason as being externally controlled
     Full Idea: We cannot possibly conceive of a reason as being consciously directed from outside in regard to its judgements.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 448.101)
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 5. Against Free Will
Kant made the political will into a pure self-determined "free" will
     Full Idea: Kant made the materially motivated determinations of the will of the French bourgeois into pure self-determinations of the "free will", of the will in and for itself.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by K Marx / F Engels - The German Ideology §II
     A reaction: This is the social determinism of Marx and Engels. Most commentators would say that Kant was taking the idea of "free will" from religion rather than politics, but presumably Marx would merely reply "same thing!"
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 1. Dualism
Soul and body connect physically, or by harmony, or by assistance
     Full Idea: The three usual systems (really the only possible ones) for the community between soul and body are physical influence, preestablished harmony, and supernatural assistance.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B406-/A390)
     A reaction: This summarises the views of Descartes, Leibniz and Malebranche. Kant is not committing himself to dualism here. He didn't think of epiphenomenalism, or property dualism. And the 'community' could just be a coincidence…
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 8. Dualism of Mind Critique
Our concept of an incorporeal nature is merely negative
     Full Idea: Our concept of an incorporeal nature is merely negative.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B827/A799)
     A reaction: This nicely pinpoints a well-known problem with the dualist theory of mind.
Neither materialism nor spiritualism can reveal the separate existence of the soul
     Full Idea: If materialism will not explain my existence, then spiritualism is just as unsatisfactory, and the conclusion is that in no way can we cognise anything about the constitution of our soul that concerns its possible separate existence.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B420)
     A reaction: This is Kant's refusal to deal with the mind-body relation, because the mind and its identity have a 'transcendental' status. I.e. they are unavoidable presuppositions about which nothing can be asked. I don't think I agree with him. I'm a materialist.
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 1. Thought
A pure concept of the understanding can never become an image
     Full Idea: The schema of a pure concept of the understanding is something that can never be brought to an image at all.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B181/A142)
     A reaction: Interesting. He is thinking of triangles, for example. The emphasis is on 'pure', and this is a nice defence of the notion of 'pure reason'. Obviously you wouldn't understand a triangle if you were incapable of imagining one.
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 5. Rationality
Kantian 'intuition' is the bridge between pure reason and its application to sense experiences
     Full Idea: In Kant's technical sense, 'intuition' is the bridge between sense experience and pure reasoning, making it possible for us to apply our reasoning to the physical world around us.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Michèle Friend - Introducing the Philosophy of Mathematics 3.3
     A reaction: Although this concept invites Ockham's Razor, I like it, since it focuses on the mystery of how reasoning can have application. It is the bridge between the analytic and the synthetic, between the a priori and the empirical. It unites thought.
18. Thought / B. Mechanics of Thought / 2. Categories of Understanding
Kant deduced the categories from our judgements, and then as preconditions of experience
     Full Idea: Kant provided a 'metaphysical deduction' of the categories by deriving them from the fundamental forms of judgement. He also gave a 'transcendental deduction' of the categories ...as the indispensable conditions of our knowledge and experience of objects
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Stephen Houlgate - An Introduction to Hegel 02 'From indeterminate'
     A reaction: I'm suspicious of the second method, because it seems that all you can do is make up an explanation of experience, with very little to go on, because it is hidden. Analysing the way we make judgements is more interesting.
Kant says we can describe the categories of thought, but Hegel claims to deduce them
     Full Idea: Kant maintains that we can only describe the a priori forms of knowledge (space and time, and the twelve categories), whereas Hegel insists that it is possible to deduce them.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Quentin Meillassoux - After Finitude; the necessity of contingency 2
     A reaction: I've some sympathy with Kant here. There is a sort of introspective philosophical psychology which seems to be possible, independently from empirical psychology.
Categories are concepts that prescribe laws a priori to appearances
     Full Idea: Categories are concepts that prescribe laws a priori to appearances.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B163)
     A reaction: The intriguing word here is 'laws'. Might it be possible to create a new category of the understanding, by taking drugs, or by spectacularly imaginative thought? It all sounds a bit conservative (as Nietzsche suggested - Idea 2859).
Four groups of categories of concept: Quantity, Quality, Relation and Modality
     Full Idea: Four groups of categories: Quantity (unity,plurality,totality), Quality (reality,negation,limitation), Relation (inherence/subsistence, causality/dependence,community), and Modality (possible/impossible,exist/non-exist,necessary/contingent).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B106/A80)
     A reaction: I can't challenge this claim, but Kant himself invites us to compare his scheme with that of Aristotle. See Idea 3311 for a summary. I prefer the way Aristotelian categories 'peter out', rather than being clear and determinate. Hegel had a shot too.
The categories are objectively valid, because they make experience possible
     Full Idea: The objective validity of the categories, as a priori concepts, rests on the fact that through them alone is experience possible.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B126/A93)
     A reaction: The human mind is clearly a sort of database, with a flexible structure, but the grounding of it has to be innate, and a priori additions are made at an early stage. I take the categories to be the basic folders of the database, but they may be cultural.
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 1. Concepts / a. Nature of concepts
Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind
     Full Idea: Without sensibility no object would be given to us, and without understanding none would be thought. Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B075/A51)
     A reaction: A famous assertion, which requires quite a lot of deconstruction. See MacDowell 1994 for example. Whatever the solution, it had better allow animals to cope with their world, because that's what they do.
Either experience creates concepts, or concepts make experience possible
     Full Idea: There are only two ways in which a necessary agreement of experience with the concepts of its objects can be thought: either the experience makes these concepts possible or these concepts make the experience possible.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B166)
     A reaction: A nice clear statement of the big question about concepts. The extremes seem to be the 'tabula rasa' versus Fodor's strong 'nativism' (that most concepts are innate). Personally I want to be as empiricist as possible. Kant needs a theory of their origin.
Reason generates no concepts, but frees them from their link to experience in the understanding
     Full Idea: Only from the understanding can pure concepts arise, and reason cannot generate any concept at all, but can only free a concept of the understanding from the unavoidable limitations of possible experience, and extend it beyond empirical boundaries.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B435/A409)
     A reaction: Presumably Descartes' 'natural light' should cover the understanding as much as the reason. This quotation brings out the empirical aspect of Kant's thought. It suggests that analysis is the main function of reason.
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 1. Concepts / c. Concepts in psychology
Concepts are rules for combining representations
     Full Idea: For Kant, concepts should be thought of as rules for the combination of representations.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Terry Pinkard - German Philosophy 1760-1860 01
     A reaction: Kant seems to have thought that they are rules we decree for ourselves (like the categorical imperative). So think of private languages, and you get Hegel's much more social view of concepts (I think).
All human cognition is through concepts
     Full Idea: The cognition of every, at least human, understanding is a cognition through concepts. ...A concept is a unity of the act of bringing various representations under one common representation.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B093/A68)
     A reaction: This puts concepts right at the heart of human understanding, as the building blocks for propositions and beliefs. Do gods and dogs use concepts? If artificial intelligence cannot program concepts, is it defeated? Are there non-conscious concepts? …
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 2. Origin of Concepts / a. Origin of concepts
Some concepts can be made a priori, which are general thoughts of objects, like quantity or cause
     Full Idea: Concepts are of such a nature that we can make some of them ourselves a priori, without standing in any immediate relation to the object; namely concepts that contain the thought of an object in general, such as quantity or cause.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 282)
     A reaction: 'Quantity' seems to be the scholastic idea, of something having a magnitude (a big pebble, not six pebbles).
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 4. Structure of Concepts / b. Analysis of concepts
Kant implies that concepts have analysable parts
     Full Idea: Kant's definition of 'analyticity' presupposes that concepts have parts (at least metaphorically).
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Stewart Shapiro - Thinking About Mathematics
     A reaction: The concept of a 'bachelor' seem undeniably to have parts. Others, however, seem to lack components, such as 'one', 'red', 'true'. Hence concepts must fall into two groups: primitive and composite. In any language. In any proposition.
19. Language / E. Analyticity / 1. Analytic Propositions
Non-subject/predicate tautologies won't fit Kant's definition of analyticity
     Full Idea: Not every proposition has a subject-predicate form, and so by contemporary lights Kant's definition of analyticity [predicate contained in subject] is unnatural and stifling. What of 'If it is raining now, then either it is raining or it is snowing'?
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Stewart Shapiro - Thinking About Mathematics 4.2
     A reaction: Only a logician would want to assert something so pointless. Kant gives a pretty good account of normal language tautologies. Still, you can't deny the point.
How can bachelor 'contain' unmarried man? Are all analytic truths in subject-predicate form?
     Full Idea: There are two problems with Kant's characterisation of analytic truths (as having 'the predicate contained within the subject'): what exactly does it mean to say that bachelor "contains" unmarried man?, and it is limited to subject-predicate sentences.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Alexander Miller - Philosophy of Language 4.2
     A reaction: He picks these objections up from Quine. I always have reservations about Quine's supposed demolition of analytic truths, but there is no denying that these are two excellent problems which need addressing.
Analytic judgements say clearly what was in the concept of the subject
     Full Idea: Analytic judgements say nothing in the predicate that was not already thought in the concept of the subject, though not so clearly and with the same consciousness. If I say all bodies are extended, I have not amplified my concept of body in the least.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 266)
     A reaction: If I say all bodies are made of atoms, have I extended my concept of 'body'? It would come as a sensational revelation for Aristotle, but it now seems analytic.
Analytic judgement rests on contradiction, since the predicate cannot be denied of the subject
     Full Idea: Analytic judgements rest wholly on the principle of contradiction, …because the predicate cannot be denied of the subject without contradiction.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 267)
     A reaction: So if I say 'gold has atomic number 79', that is a (Kantian) analytic statement? This is the view of sceptics about Kripke's a posteriori necessity. …a few lines later Kant gives 'gold is a yellow metal' as an example.
If the predicate is contained in the subject of a judgement, it is analytic; otherwise synthetic
     Full Idea: In judgements, the relation of subject to predicate is possible in two ways. Either the predicate B belongs to the subject A as (covertly) contained in this concept A; or B lies entirely outside A. The first I call analytic, the second synthetic.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B010/A6)
     A reaction: Rey says this is the first introduction of the analytic/synthetic disctinction. Modern philosophers seem to reject this definition, mainly because they are suspicious of the vague word 'contained'. Depends what a concept is.
Analytic judgements clarify, by analysing the subject into its component predicates
     Full Idea: One could call an analytic judgement one of clarification ...since the predicate does not add anything to the concept of the subject, but only breaks it up by means of analysis into its component concepts.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B011/A7)
     A reaction: This is a very illuminating view of the concept, which seems to have fallen into disrepute. If we ask what predicates are contained in 'tree', we may quickly have to embrace essentialism, to decide which predicates matter.
20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 2. Willed Action / a. Will to Act
Can pure reason determine the will, or are empirical conditions relevant?
     Full Idea: This is the first question: Is pure reason sufficient of itself to determine the will, or is it only as empirically conditioned that it can do so?
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], Intro)
     A reaction: This seems to be the core question of intellectualism, which goes back to Socrates. You can only accept the question if you accept the concept of 'pure' reason. Values seem to be needed for action, as well as empirical circumstances.
The will is the faculty of purposes, which guide desires according to principles
     Full Idea: The will could be defined as the faculty of purposes, since they are always determining grounds of the faculty of desire according to principles.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.1.II)
     A reaction: Do animals have wills? Kant implies that you can only have a will if you have principles. Compare Hobbes' rather less elevated definition of the will (Idea 2362).
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 3. Acting on Reason / a. Practical reason
The sole objects of practical reason are the good and the evil
     Full Idea: The sole objects of a practical reason are thus those of the good and the evil.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.1.II)
     A reaction: Of course, you may aim to achieve x because it is good, while I judge x to be evil.
General rules of action also need a judgement about when to apply them
     Full Idea: A concept of the understanding, which contains the general rule, must be supplemented by an act of judgement whereby the practitioner distinguishes instances where the rule applies from those where it does not.
     From: Immanuel Kant (True in Theory, but not in Practice [1792], Intro)
     A reaction: This is Aristotle's phronesis, and Hart's 'rules of recognition' in law courts. So is the link between theory and practice an intellectual one, or a sort of inarticulate intuition? I like 'common sense' for this ability.
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 1. Aesthetics
Kant gave form and status to aesthetics, and Hegel gave it content
     Full Idea: Kant gave form and status to aesthetics, and Hegel endowed it with content.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement I: Aesthetic [1790]) by Roger Scruton - Recent Aesthetics in England and America p.3
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 2. Aesthetic Attitude
The aesthetic attitude is a matter of disinterestedness
     Full Idea: The aesthetic attitude is defined by Kant in terms of disinterestedness.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement I: Aesthetic [1790]) by Richard Wollheim - Art and Its Objects 54
     A reaction: This is presumably, mainly, to explain our enjoyment of the miseries of tragedy. We just give ourselves up to a merry jig by Haydn.
Only rational beings can experience beauty
     Full Idea: Kant is surely right that the experience of beauty, like the judgements in which it issues, is the prerogative of rational beings.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement I: Aesthetic [1790]) by Roger Scruton - Beauty: a very short introduction 1
     A reaction: I'm not sure how Scruton can say that Kant is 'surely right'. It is an interesting speculation. Are we to dogmatically affirm that bees get no aesthetic thrill when they spot a promising flower? Something in their little brains attracts them.
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 3. Taste
With respect to the senses, taste is an entirely personal matter
     Full Idea: With regard to the agreeable, the principle Everyone has his own taste (of the senses) is valid.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement I: Aesthetic [1790], CUP 7 5:212), quoted by Elizabeth Schellekens - Immanuel Kant (aesthetics) 1
     A reaction: This is a preliminary concession, and he goes on to defend more objective views of taste.
When we judge beauty, it isn't just personal; we judge on behalf of everybody
     Full Idea: It is ridiculous if someone justifies his tast by saying 'this object is beautiful for me'. . .If he pronounces that something is beautiful, then he expects the very same satisfaction of others: he judges not merely for himself, but for everyone.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement I: Aesthetic [1790], CUP 7 5:213), quoted by Elizabeth Schellekens - Immanuel Kant (aesthetics) 1
     A reaction: For Kant this would also be the hallmark of rationality - that we expect, or hope for, a consensus when we express a rational judgement. But this expectation is far less in cases of beauty. We do not expect total agreement from very tasteful people.
Saying everyone has their own taste destroys the very idea of taste
     Full Idea: To say thast 'Everyone has his special taste' would be to dismiss the very possibility of aesthetic taste, and to deny that there could be aesthetic judgement 'that could make a rightful claim to the assent of everyone'.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement I: Aesthetic [1790], CUP 7 5:213), quoted by Elizabeth Schellekens - Immanuel Kant (aesthetics) 2.2
     A reaction: I am a great believer in the objectivity of taste (within sensible reason). But the great evidence against it is the shifting standards of taste over the centuries. Nineteenth century collectors wasted fortunes on inferior works, it seems to us.
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 4. Beauty
The beautiful is not conceptualised as moral, but it symbolises or resembles goodness
     Full Idea: Kant insists that the beautiful must not be tainted with the good (that is, not conceptualised in any way which would bring it into the sphere of moral judgement) yet he says that the beautiful symbolises the good, it is an analogy of the good.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement I: Aesthetic [1790]) by Iris Murdoch - The Sublime and the Good p.209
     A reaction: Kant evidently wanted a very pure view of the aesthetic experience, drained of any overlapping feelings or beliefs. I'm not sure I understand how the beautiful can symbolise or be analogous to the good, while being devoid of it.
Kant saw beauty as a sort of disinterested pleasure, which has become separate from the good
     Full Idea: Kant, in his third critique, defined beauty in terms of a certain kind of disinterested pleasure;….this is the basis for a declaration of independence of the beautiful relative to the good.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement I: Aesthetic [1790]) by Charles Taylor - Sources of the Self §23.1
     A reaction: This is a rebellion against the Greeks, especially Plato, and prepares the ground for the idea of 'art for art's sake'. Personally, I'm with Plato.
Beauty is only judged in pure contemplation, and not with something else at stake
     Full Idea: If the question is whether something is beautiful, one does not want to know whether there is something that is or that could be at stake, for us or for someone else, in the existence of the thing, but rather how we judge it in mere contemplation.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement I: Aesthetic [1790], CUP 2 5:204), quoted by Elizabeth Schellekens - Immanuel Kant (aesthetics) 2.3
     A reaction: This evidently denies that function has anything to do with beauty, and seems to be a prelude to 'art for art's sake'. But a running cheetah cannot be separated from the sheer efficiencey and focus of the performance.
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 6. The Sublime
The mathematical sublime is immeasurable greatness; the dynamical sublime is overpowering
     Full Idea: Kant distinguished the 'mathematical' and 'dynamical' sublime. The former involves immeasurable greatness (or smallness) such that we cannot even present them to ourselves. The latter is of something large and overpowering, which we can morally resist.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement I: Aesthetic [1790]) by Terry Pinkard - German Philosophy 1760-1860 13
     A reaction: Presumably Cantor revealed the full extent of the mathematical sublime ('heaven', according to Hilbert). We await the comet that destroys the Earth to fully experience the other one.
The sublime is a moral experience
     Full Idea: The sublime is understood by Kant as a moral experience.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement I: Aesthetic [1790], 28-9) by Sebastian Gardner - Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason 09 'Judgment'
     A reaction: Gardner give the source in Kant. I can't accept that the initial experience of the sublime is moral in character. It could easily acquire a moral character after contemplation by someone who had such inclinations.
21. Aesthetics / C. Artistic Issues / 5. Objectivism in Art
Aesthetic values are not objectively valid, but we must treat them as if they are
     Full Idea: The 'Critique of Judgement' argues, then, not for the objective validity of aesthetic values, but for the fact that we must think of them as objectively valid.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement I: Aesthetic [1790]) by Roger Scruton - Short History of Modern Philosophy §11.7
     A reaction: The trouble with these transcendental arguments of Kant is that they render you powerless to discuss the question of whether values are actually objective. We are all trapped in presuppositions, instead of testing suppositions.
The judgement of beauty is not cognitive, but relates, via imagination, to pleasurable feelings
     Full Idea: In order to understand whether or not something is beautiful, we do not relate the representation by means of understanding to the object for cognition, but relate it by means of the imagination ..to the subject and its feeling of pleasure or displeasure.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement I: Aesthetic [1790], CUP 1 5:203), quoted by Elizabeth Schellekens - Immanuel Kant (aesthetics) 2.1
     A reaction: This is to distinguish the particular type of judgement which counts as 'aesthetic' - the point being that it is not cognitive - it is not a matter of knowledge and facts, but a cool judgement made about a warm feeling of pleasure. I think.
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / a. Nature of value
Kant focuses exclusively on human values, and neglects cultural and personal values
     Full Idea: Kant grossly inflated the importance of the human dimension of value in which moral considerations are indeed overriding. He unjustifiably denied the perfectly reasonable contributions of the cultural and personal dimensions to human well-being.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by John Kekes - The Human Condition 05.5
     A reaction: Excellent to see someone talking about the ultimate values that reside behind Kant's theory. Without such assumptions his theory is, frankly, ridiculous (as Mill explained).
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / b. Fact and value
We cannot derive moral laws from experience, as it is the mother of illusion
     Full Idea: With respect to moral laws, experience is (alas!) the mother of illusion, and it is most reprehensible to derive the laws concerning what I ought to do from what is done, or to want to limit it to that.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B375/A319)
     A reaction: Kant agrees with Hume, and turns to a non-naturalistic and cognitivist explanation, whereas Hume turns to a non-cognitivist naturalistic one (based on human feelings). Aristotle's view is somewhat based on the experience of human nature.
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / d. Subjective value
Our rational choices confer value, arising from the sense that we ourselves are important
     Full Idea: According to Kant, we confer value on the objects of our rational choices. ..When we choose things because they are important to us we are taking ourselves to be important. Hence our humanity is a source of value.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Christine M. Korsgaard - Intro to 'Creating the Kingdom of Ends' ix
     A reaction: He's trying to filter to out our gormless choices with the word 'rational', but it is common sense that I may choose things despite thinking they have little value, like watching soap opera. A more objective account of value seems needed. See 9750!
Values are created by human choices, and are not some intrinsic quality, out there
     Full Idea: Kant's fundamental sermon is that a value is made a value (or, at least, a duty) by human choice and not by some intrinsic quality in itself, out there. Values are what humans freely choose to live, fight and die for.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Isaiah Berlin - The Roots of Romanticism Ch.4
     A reaction: If this is right, then it would appear that the great Kant is the father of relativism, which wouldn't please him. However, his whole system rests on what is consistent and rational, and that seems to a value that is above our choices.
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / f. Ultimate value
Kant may rate two things as finally valuable: having a good will, and deserving happiness
     Full Idea: In some interpretations it appears that for Kant two things are finally valuable: good will (unconditionally), and deserved happiness (conditionally on the value of good will).
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788]) by Francesco Orsi - Value Theory 2.2
     A reaction: It doesn't sound difficult to reconcile these two. Just ask 'what is required of someone to deserve happiness?'.
An autonomous agent has dignity [Würde], which has absolute worth
     Full Idea: For Kant, there is something about beings that can act autonomously that is itself of 'absolute worth', which Kant calls the 'dignity' [Würde] of each such agent.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788]) by Terry Pinkard - German Philosophy 1760-1860 02
     A reaction: This answers my puzzle about where Kant's fundamental values come from. Surely wicked actions can be autonomous? Autonomous actions aren't thereby good actions. A 'good' will, course, whatever that is. Rational? My problem with existentialist ethics.
The good will is unconditionally good, because it is the only possible source of value
     Full Idea: Kant argues that the good will is unconditionally good because it is the only thing able to be a source of value.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788]) by Christine M. Korsgaard - Aristotle and Kant on the Source of Value 8 'Kant'
     A reaction: The obvious worry is the circularity of resting a theory of value on identifying a 'good' will as its source.
Good or evil cannot be a thing, but only a maxim of action, making the person good or evil
     Full Idea: If something is held to be absolutely good or evil in all respects and without qualification, it could not be a thing but only the manner of acting, i.e., it could only be the maxim of the will, and consequently the acting person himself is good or evil.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.1.II)
     A reaction: It goes on to deny that pain is intrinsically evil, but his reason for the claim is not clear. Nevetheless, I think he is right. This remark is an important bridge between Enlightenment concerns with law and Greek concerns with character.
What is contemplated must have a higher value than contemplation
     Full Idea: Kant objects that the world must have a final purpose in order to be worth contemplating, so contemplation cannot be that final purpose.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement II: Teleological [1790]) by Christine M. Korsgaard - Aristotle and Kant on the Source of Value 8 'Arist and'
     A reaction: That is a very good objection. If we contemplate the ordered heavens, the ordering of the heavens seems to have a greater value than our contemplation of them. The reply is that the contemplation is the final purpose being contemplated!
Only a good will can give man's being, and hence the world, a final purpose
     Full Idea: A good will is that whereby alone [man's] being can have an absolute worth and in reference to which the being of the world can have a final purpose.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement II: Teleological [1790], C3 443), quoted by Christine M. Korsgaard - Aristotle and Kant on the Source of Value 8 'Kant'
     A reaction: I wish Kant gave a better account of what a 'good' will consists of. This is an awful burden to bear when you are making decisions.
The love of man is required in order to present the world as a beautiful and perfect moral whole
     Full Idea: Love of man is required by itself, in order to present the world as a beautiful moral whole in its full perfection, even if no account is taken of advantages (of happiness).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 458 I.II)
     A reaction: For me, this illustrates the basic problem with Kant. In the Groundwork he presents morality as arising from pure reason, deriving moral maxims from contradictions, but here we find a totally ungrounded assertion of grand traditional values.
All morality directs the will to love of others' ends, and respect for others' rights
     Full Idea: All moral relations of rational beings, which involve a principle of the harmony of the will of one with another, can be reduced to love and respect. Love reduces one's will to another's end, and respect to another's right.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 488 II)
     A reaction: It all comes out too neat and tidy in Kant. Love doesn't merely focus on another person's 'ends', and respect should be for a lot more than another person's mere 'rights'. They'd have to be natural rights, because some societies restrict rights.
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / a. Normativity
We only understand what exists, and can find no sign of what ought to be in nature
     Full Idea: In nature the understanding cognizes only what exists, or has been, or will be. It is impossible that something ought to be other that what it in fact is. ...We cannot ask what ought to happen in nature, any more than what properties a circle should have.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B575/A547)
     A reaction: This seems to be the first clear recognition of what we now call 'normativity', which seems like a misfit in naturalistic views. Davidson derives a sort of mental dualism from it. Note that powers and dispositions can also not be directly cognised.
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / e. Altruism
Reverence is awareness of a value which demolishes my self-love
     Full Idea: Reverence is awareness of a value which demolishes my self-love.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 401.16 n)
We may claim noble motives, but we cannot penetrate our secret impulses
     Full Idea: We are pleased to flatter ourselves with the false claim to a nobler motive, but in fact we can never, even by the most strenuous self-examination, get to the bottom of our secret impulsions.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 407.26)
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / f. Love
The duty of love is to makes the ends of others one's own
     Full Idea: The duty of love for one's neighbour can be expressed as the duty to make others' ends my own (provided they are not immoral).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 449 I.II)
     A reaction: An interesting idea. Kant's remarks on love and respect seem distorted, to shoehorn them into his system of end/means and maxims. If I love someone, should I continually enquire what their current ends are?
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / g. Consequentialism
A good will is not good because of what it achieves
     Full Idea: A good will is not good because of what it effects or accomplishes
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 394.3)
The good of an action is in the mind of the doer, not the consequences
     Full Idea: What is essentially good in an action consists in the mental disposition, let the consequences be what they may.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 416.43)
Morality involves duty and respect for law, not love of the outcome
     Full Idea: All the morality of actions may be placed in their necessity from duty and from respect for the law, and not from love for or leaning toward that which the action is to produce.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.1.III)
     A reaction: Kant tries to reject consequentialism, but you cannot assess your duty or the universal law without an assessment of probable consequences, and we could never choose between laws if we did not already see value in the outcome.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / a. Nature of happiness
Our happiness is all that matters, not as a sensation, but as satisfaction with our whole existence
     Full Idea: Our happiness is the only thing of importance, provided this is judged, as reason requires, not according to transitory sensation but according to the influence which this contingency has on our whole existence and our satisfaction with it.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.1.II)
     A reaction: This is closer to the Greek eudaimonia than to the modern conception of happiness, which is largely just a feeling. Kant's view seems more like a private judgement on your whole life, where the Greek idea seems more public and objective.
Happiness is the condition of a rational being for whom everything goes as they wish
     Full Idea: Happiness is the condition of a rational being in the world with whom everything goes according to his wish and will.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.II.II.V)
     A reaction: For such a sophisticated and rational philosopher this seems a rather crude notion. Reluctant alcoholics don't fit. Bradley has a much better definition (Idea 5655).
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / c. Value of happiness
Morality is not about making ourselves happy, but about being worthy of happiness
     Full Idea: Morality is not properly the doctrine of how we should make ourselves happy, but how we should become worthy of happiness.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.II.II.V)
     A reaction: Whatever else you think of Kant's moral theory, this remark is a clarion call we can all recognise. Suppose we all somehow ended up in a state of maximal happiness by systematically betraying one another.
Duty does not aim at an end, but gives rise to universal happiness as aim of the will
     Full Idea: My conception of duty does not need to be based on any particular end, but rather itself occasions a new end for the human will, that of striving with all one's power towards the highest good possible on earth, the universal happiness of the whole world.
     From: Immanuel Kant (True in Theory, but not in Practice [1792], 1B)
     A reaction: I see nothing in the categorical imperative that demands 'all one's power', and nothing that specifies happiness as what has to be universalised. Nietzsche, for one, thinks happiness is overrated.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / a. Preconditions for ethics
Without God, creation and free will, morality would be empty
     Full Idea: If there is no original being different from the world, if the world is without a beginning and without an author, if our will is not free and our soul is of the same corruptibility as matter, then moral ideas and principles lose all validity.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B496/A468)
     A reaction: Atheism or determinism might lead to the collapse of your morality, if you had an amazingly inflated idea of the cosmic importance of human beings behaving well. My view is that morality just concerns important decisions made by healthy persons.
Duty is impossible without prior moral feeling, conscience, love and self-respect
     Full Idea: Moral feeling, conscience, love of one's neighbour, and respect for oneself (self-esteem). There is no obligation to have these, because they lie at the basis of morality, as subjective conditions of receptiveness to the concept of duty.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 399 Intro XII)
     A reaction: A bit of a revelation, this one, because I thought the only precondition for Kantian morality was rationality. Turns out that he agrees with Aristotle (Idea 46) that you can't started in morality if your heart isn't in the right place.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / b. Rational ethics
Kant united religion and philosophy, by basing obedience to law on reason instead of faith
     Full Idea: Kant united the two ideas of virtue (as being and as doing) into the idea of a law that is founded not upon faith but upon reason. Thus in one stroke he united the seemingly irreconcilable philosophical and religious ethics, preserving the best of both.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Richard Taylor - Virtue Ethics: an Introduction Ch.8
     A reaction: An interesting analysis that sounds exactly right. Taylor's point is that Kant subjects himself to an authority, when the underpinnings of the authority are no longer there. There is a religious strand in the altruistic requirements of utilitarianism too.
The categorical imperative says nothing about what our activities and ends should be
     Full Idea: As to what activities we ought to engage in, what ends we should pursue, the categorical imperative seems to be silent.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Alasdair MacIntyre - A Short History of Ethics Ch.14
     A reaction: I think this is the fatal objection to Kant's view. He says, for example, that promise-breaking is inconsistent with a belief that promises are good, but who said promises are good? No ethical system can get started without values.
Only human reason can confer value on our choices
     Full Idea: Kant argues that only human reason is in a position to confer value on the objects of human choice.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788]) by Christine M. Korsgaard - Aristotle and Kant on the Source of Value 8 'Kant'
     A reaction: If the source of value is humans, then it is not immediately clear why it is only our reason that does the conferring. What is the status of a choice on which reason fails to confer value? The idea is that reason, unlike desire, has intrinsic value.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / e. Human nature
Kant thought human nature was pure hedonism, so virtue is only possible via the categorical imperative
     Full Idea: Kant was a psychological hedonist about all actions except those done for the sake of the moral law, and this faulty theory of human nature prevented him from seeing that moral virtue might be compatible with the rejection of the categorical imperative.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Philippa Foot - Morality as system of hypothetical imps. p.165
     A reaction: Nice. Kant wasn't unusual in his view, which seems standard in the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Aristotle understood that it is human nature, on the whole, to want to be a good citizen, since we are social beings.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / h. Expressivism
People cannot come to morality through feeling, because morality must not be sensuous
     Full Idea: In the subject there is no antecedent feeling tending to morality; that is impossible, because all feeling is sensuous, and the drives of the moral disposition must be free from every sensuous condition.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.1.III)
     A reaction: I'm not quite clear (even after reading Kant) why moral drives 'must' be free of sensuousness. Aristotle gives a much better account, when he tells us that the sensuous drives must be trained in the right way, and must be in harmony with the reason.
Moral principles do not involve feelings
     Full Idea: No moral principle is based on any feeling whatsoever.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 376 Pref)
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / j. Ethics by convention
We must only value what others find acceptable
     Full Idea: We are limited to pursuits which are acceptable from the standpoint of others; ..hence we can't value just anything, and there are things which we must value.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Christine M. Korsgaard - Intro to 'Creating the Kingdom of Ends' x
     A reaction: This at least moves towards greater objectivity, compared with Idea 9749, but it now seems deeply conservative. Our values become lowest common denominator. We need space for the Nietzschean moral hero, who creates new values.
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 2. Golden Rule
The 'golden rule' cannot be a universal law as it implies no duties
     Full Idea: The 'golden rule' is merely derivative from our principle, but it cannot be a universal law since it isn't the ground of duties to oneself or others (since it implies a breakable contract).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 430.68 n)
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 3. Promise Keeping
If lies were ever acceptable, with would undermine all duties based on contract
     Full Idea: Truthfulness is a duty that must be regarded as the basis of all duties to be grounded on a contract, the law of which is made uncertain and useless if even the least exception to it is admitted.
     From: Immanuel Kant (On a supposed right to lie [1797], p.30)
     A reaction: Should we keep contracts which are made by means of deception and coercion? Where could such absolute authority for contracts come from? Do contracts and treaties tend to lapse after a long period of time?
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / a. Nature of virtue
Virtue lets a rational being make universal law, and share in the kingdom of ends
     Full Idea: A morally good attitude of mind (or virtue) claims the intrinsic value of dignity, because it affords a rational being a share in the making of universal law, which therefore fits him to be a member in a possible kingdom of ends.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 435.79)
The highest worth for human beings lies in dispositions, not just actions
     Full Idea: The highest worth which human beings can and should procure for themselves lies in dispositions and not in actions only.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.1.II)
     A reaction: This leaves the problem of the well-meaning fool, who has wonderful dispositions but poor judgement. What Kant is describing here is better known as virtue. See Idea 58.
Virtue is the supreme state of our pursuit of happiness, and so is supreme good
     Full Idea: Virtue (as the worthiness to be happy) is the supreme condition of whatever appears to us to be desirable and thus of all our pursuit of happiness and, consequently, the supreme good.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.II.II)
     A reaction: Thus Kant can claim to be a virtue theorist, but giving us a very different account of how virtue arises. He emphasises elsewhere (Idea 6197) that the supreme good must be in the will, not in the outcome. 'Virtue' is here a rather thin concept.
A duty of virtue is a duty which is also an end
     Full Idea: Only an end that is also a duty can be called a duty of virtue. ....[385] The necessary ends are one's own perfection, and the happiness of others.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 383 Intro II)
     A reaction: So virtues are a subset of duties. I don't think an Aristotelian virtue is anything like a duty. A soldier might do his duty, with no virtue at all. An even a Kantian categorical imperative duty can be formed without right feeling or good character.
Virtue is strong maxims for duty
     Full Idea: Virtue is the strength of man's maxims in fulfilling his duty.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 394 Intro IX)
     A reaction: So virtue is just strong moral commitment. So what are we to make of the lists of distinctive virtues, found in every culture? How do they differ? Only in the areas of duty to which they refer? How do we possess some virtues without others?
The supreme principle of virtue is to find universal laws for ends
     Full Idea: The supreme principle of the doctrine of virtue is: Act in accordance with a maxim of ends that it can be a universal law for everyone to have.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 395 Intro IX)
     A reaction: I'm not sure that any end can be a universal law. I certainly don't expect everyone to study philosophy. I suppose basic human ends, such as kindness and avoidance of suicide, are what he means. He's even more conformist than Aristotle!
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / d. Virtue theory critique
Kant thinks virtue becomes passive, and hence morally unaccountable
     Full Idea: Kant thinks that if virtue becomes a stable disposition of the person, then it turns into a rigid mechanical habit, with respect to which the person is passive, and thus not fully morally accountable.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Julia Annas - The Morality of Happiness 2.1
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / c. Motivation for virtue
Moral law is holy, and the best we can do is achieve virtue through respect for the law
     Full Idea: The moral law is holy (unyielding), although all the moral perfection to which man can attain is still only virtue, that is, a rightful disposition arising from respect for the law.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.II.II.V)
     A reaction: In comparison with Aristotle's view of virtue this is very passive and external. Aristotle doesn't need laws for virtue, he needs inner harmony and a grasp of what has high value.
We are obliged to show the social virtues, but at least they make a virtuous disposition fashionable
     Full Idea: Affability, sociability, courtesy, hospitality and gentleness in argument ...are merely the manners one is obliged to show in social intercourse, ...and so they promote a virtuous disposition by at least making virtue fashionable.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 473-4 I.II App)
     A reaction: His emphasis on rational duty forces him to diminish virtue, making it sound hypocritical. He needs Aristotle's distinction between the controlled [enkratic] man and the man of true virtue (which is rational and whole-hearted).
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / d. Teaching virtue
If virtue becomes a habit, that is a loss of the freedom needed for adopting maxims
     Full Idea: If the practice of virtue were to become a habit the subject would suffer loss to that freedom in adopting his maxims which distinguishes an action done from duty.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 409 Intro XVI)
     A reaction: Looks like a misunderstanding of Aristotle, who always promotes the role of 'phronesis' [practical reason], and never advocates unthinking virtuous habits. I think Aristotle would ask how you select your maxim, if you lack the virtues.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / f. The Mean
How do we distinguish a mean? The extremes can involve quite different maxims
     Full Idea: Who will specify for me this mean between the two extremes? What distinguishes avarice (as a vice) from thrift (as a virtue) is not that avarice carries thift too far but that avarice has an entirely different principle (maxim).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 404n Intro XIII)
     A reaction: He says one concerns enjoyment of possessions, and the other their mere possession. Similarly, reckless courage may aim at glory, while cowardice aims at survival. Aristotle is looking at circumstances, Kant at mental states.
If virtue is the mean between vices, then virtue is just the vanishing of vice
     Full Idea: If the mean between prodigality and avarice is supposed to be one of degree, then one vice would pass over into the opposite vice only through the virtue. So virtue would simply be a diminished, or rather a vanishing vice.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 432 I.I)
     A reaction: Interesting, but not convincing. Doesn't the thought equally show that vice is a vanishing virtue? Aristotle gives the example of the quantity of food we eat, which obviously passes from starvation to appropriate diet to gluttony.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / j. Unity of virtue
There is one principle of virtues; the virtues are distinguished by their objects
     Full Idea: To think of several virtues (as one unavoidably does) is nothing other than to think of the various moral objects to which the will is led by the one principle of virtue.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 406 Intro XIII)
     A reaction: So Kant commits to the Greek ideal of the unity of virtue - but not for Greek reasons. The unity of duty is what concerns Kant.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / f. Compassion
Generosity and pity are vices, because they falsely imply one person's superiority to another
     Full Idea: For Kant, generosity is a vice, because it is a form of condescension and patronage, and pity is detestable, because it entails a superiority on the part of the pitier, which Kant stoutly denied.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Isaiah Berlin - The Roots of Romanticism
     A reaction: An interesting view, but being too proud to receive help from friends strikes me as a greater vice. How can friendship and community be built, if we do not rush to help one another when needed? The virtue is generosity without condescension.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / h. Respect
Kantian respect is for humanity and reason (not from love or sympathy or solidarity)
     Full Idea: Kantian respect is unlike love. It's unlike sympathy. It's unlike solidarity or fellow feeling. ...Kantian respect is for humanity as such, for a rational capacity that resides, undifferentiated, in all of us.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Michael J. Sandel - Justice: What's the right thing to do? 05
     A reaction: Why is it 'undifferentiated'? If reason is the source of the respect, why don't greater powers of reason command greater respect? The nice thing is that the rejected versions involve bias, but Kant's version does not.
We can love without respect, and show respect without love
     Full Idea: One can love one's neighbour though he might deserve but little respect, and can show him the respect necessary for every man regardless of the fact that he would hardly be judged worthy of love.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 448 I.II)
     A reaction: Not sure about this. Respect seems much clearer than love. You can train yourself and others to show respect, but you can't switch on love. Personally, I don't love strangers, but I try hard to respect them.
Respect is limiting our self-esteem by attending to the human dignity of other persons
     Full Idea: Respect ...is to be understood as the maxim of limiting our self-esteem by the dignity of humanity in another person.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 449 I.II)
     A reaction: I can't see any direct connection between my own self-esteem and my respect for others, though in practice great vanity makes us neglect others. I also don't find the concept of 'dignity' very helpful. I think we should respect plants.
Respect is purely negative (of not exalting oneself over others), and is thus a duty of Right
     Full Idea: A duty of free respect towards others is only a negative one (of not exalting oneself above others) and is thus analogous to the duty of Right not to encroach upon what belongs to anyone.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 449 I.II)
     A reaction: Not good enough. He seems to think belongings are the main issue. By referring to one's own modesty, he has no way to indicate equality of respect (among races, ages, genders, religions, animals etc). Being humble does not entail being respectful.
Disrespect is using a person as a mere means to my own ends
     Full Idea: The duty of respect for my neighbour is contained in the maxim not to degrade any other man to a mere means to my ends (not to demand that another throw himself away in order to slave for my end).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 449 I.II)
     A reaction: A weirdly narrow concept of respect. Is enslavement the only way to show disrespect? What about sneering at people, or ignoring them, or prejudicially depriving them of some benefit?
Love urges us to get closer to people, but respect to keep our distance
     Full Idea: The principle of mutual love admonishes men constantly to come closer to one another; that of the respect they owe one another, to keep themselves at a distance from one another.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 449 I.II)
     A reaction: It might be a situation where it is right to invoke the Golden Rule. Do we want others to be close to us all the time? Probably not. Respect wins, and love loses! Kant's makes a nice distinction. Respect is a virtue, and love is not.
We must respect the humanity even in a vicious criminal
     Full Idea: I cannot deny all respect to even a vicious man as a man; I cannot withdraw at least the respect that belongs to him in his quality as a man, even though by his deeds he makes himself unworthy of it.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 463 I.II)
     A reaction: The obvious way to find some respect for a vicious criminal is to ask how they got that way. Their state is almost certainly self-destructive, and not what they would ever have wished for. Would they choose eternal recurrence?
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 1. Deontology
If 'maxims' are deeper underlying intentions, Kant can be read as a virtue theorist
     Full Idea: It has been argued that by 'maxim' Kant does not mean a specific intention for some discrete act, but the underlying intention by which the agent orchestrates his numerous more specific intentions, ...which leads to a virtue reading of Kant.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Daniel Statman - Introduction to Virtue Ethics §7
     A reaction: Kant admired virtue of character, and would want to fit it into the framework of his moral duties. Nevertheless a virtue would often seem to be beyond words, and principles seem to crumble in the face of complex cases.
Kant follows Rousseau in defining freedom and morality in terms of each other
     Full Idea: Kant follows Rousseau in defining freedom and morality essentially in terms of each other.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Charles Taylor - Sources of the Self §20.2
     A reaction: An interesting comment on the modern tendency to overvalue freedom at the expense of the other civic virtues.
We can ask how rational goodness is, but also why is rationality good
     Full Idea: We can reverse the terms of the comparison and ask not how rational is goodness, but why is it good to be rational?
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Hilary Putnam - Reason, Truth and History
     A reaction: [Putnam doesn't mention Kant]. This seems to me to be the biggest question for Kant. See Idea 1403. The main point of tbe romantic movement, I take it, is that purely rational living does not bring happiness or fulfilment.
The only purely good thing is a good will
     Full Idea: It is impossible to conceive anything at all in the world, or even out of it, which can be taken as good without qualification, except a good will.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 393.1)
It is basic that moral actions must be done from duty
     Full Idea: The first proposition of morality is that to have moral worth an action must be done from duty.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], p.19), quoted by Brian Davies - Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion 9 'Religion'
     A reaction: [p.19 in Beck tr] In Aristotle's account these are 'controlled' actions [enkrateia], which are a step below virtuous actions, which combine reason and pleasure.
Other causes can produce nice results, so morality must consist in the law, found only in rational beings
     Full Idea: Agreeable results could be brought about by other causes;…therefore nothing but the idea of the law in itself, which is present only in a rational being, can constitute that pre-eminent good which we call moral.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 401.15)
The will is good if its universalised maxim is never in conflict with itself
     Full Idea: The will is absolutely good if it cannot be evil - that is, if its maxim, when made into a universal law, can never be in conflict with itself.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 437.81)
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 2. Duty
Men are subject to laws which are both self-made and universal
     Full Idea: Man is subject only to laws which are made by himself and yet are universal.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 432.73)
A categorical imperative sees an action as necessary purely for its own sake
     Full Idea: A categorical imperative would be one which represented an action as objectively necessary in itself apart from its relation to a further end.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 414.39)
There are no imperatives for a holy will, as the will is in harmony with moral law
     Full Idea: For the divine or holy will there are no imperatives: 'I ought' is here out of place, because 'I will' is already of itself necessarily in harmony with the law.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 414.39)
Kant was happy with 'good will', even if it had no result
     Full Idea: Kant was satisfied with "good will" alone, even if it remained entirely without result.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by K Marx / F Engels - The German Ideology §II
     A reaction: Kant is obviously a million miles away from Marxist pragmatism. And yet the members of the revolutionary class can only be identified and endorsed if they show a particular kind of will.
Dutiful actions are judged not by purpose, but by the maxim followed
     Full Idea: An action done from duty has its moral worth, not in the purpose to be attained by it, but in the maxim according to which it is decided upon.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 399.13)
Telling the truth from duty is quite different from doing so to avoid inconvenience
     Full Idea: To tell the truth for the sake of duty is something entirely different from doing so out of concern for inconvenient results.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 402.18)
Kant has to attribute high moral worth to some deeply unattractive human lives
     Full Idea: An implausible and uncomfortable conclusion to be drawn from Kant's conception of morality is that we must attribute high moral worth to deeply unattractive human lives.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Gordon Graham - Eight Theories of Ethics Ch.6
     A reaction: Graham quotes a loathsome character from a Victorian novel, who coldly 'does her duty'. Indeed it might be that a robot could be programmed with the categorical imperative (though it would need a table of values first). Virtue theory is the answer.
Kantian duty seems to imply conformism with authority
     Full Idea: Anyone educated into the Kantian notion of duty will (so far) have been educated into easy conformism with authority.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Alasdair MacIntyre - A Short History of Ethics Ch.14
     A reaction: The Nazi Eichmann cited Kant at his trial for mass murder. I'm not sure the criticism is fair. There are surely times when the categorical imperative will go quite contrary to what the irrational authorities are implementing?
It can't be a duty to strive after the impossible
     Full Idea: It would not be a duty to strive after a certain effect of our will if this effect were impossible in experience.
     From: Immanuel Kant (True in Theory, but not in Practice [1792], Intro)
     A reaction: 'Ought implies can' has become a familiar slogan. The quickest way to get shot of a tiresome duty is to persuade yourself that it is impossible. The seemingly impossible is occasionally achieved.
The law will protect you if you tell a truth which results in murder
     Full Idea: If you have by a lie prevented someone bent on murder from committing the deed, then you are legally accountable for all the consequences that might arise from it. But if you keep strictly to the truth, then public justice can hold nothing against you.
     From: Immanuel Kant (On a supposed right to lie [1797], p.29)
     A reaction: Shocking, from a supposedly great thinker. Cowardly hiding behind a perverse law. What would Kant do if the law were changed, to condemn someone who told a truth which would probably lead to a murder? Would he accept a jail sentence?
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 3. Universalisability
Almost any precept can be consistently universalized
     Full Idea: With sufficient ingenuity, almost every precept can be consistently universalized.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Alasdair MacIntyre - A Short History of Ethics Ch.14
     A reaction: A concise statement of J.S.Mill's point (Idea 3762). The point is that Kant seems to allow burglary, as long as you don't complain when you are burgled. What sort of maxim would a suicidal mass murderer being willing to universalize?
No one would lend money unless a universal law made it secure, even after death
     Full Idea: If my maxim is 'augment my property by all safe means', I can't make that a law allowing me to keep a dead man's loan, because no one would make a loan if that were the moral law.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.1.1.§4)
     A reaction: This is a simple illustration of Kant's strategy and it shows clearly how, for all his talk of 'pure reason', his moral law is strongly guided by consequences, and that these can only judged by prior values - for example, that loans are a good thing.
Universality determines the will, and hence extends self-love into altruism
     Full Idea: The form of universality is itself the determining ground of the will, …and from this limitation alone, and not from the addition of any exernal drive, the concept of obligation arises to extend the maxim of self-love also to the happiness of others.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.1.1.§8)
     A reaction: This is the heroic and optimistic part of Kant's philosophy, the attempt to derive altruism from pure reason. The claim seems to be that maxims don't motivate until they have been universalised. I fear that only altruism could add such motivation.
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 4. Categorical Imperative
The categorical imperative smells of cruelty
     Full Idea: The categorical imperative smells of cruelty.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Friedrich Nietzsche - On the Genealogy of Morals II.§6
     A reaction: I presume this is because it is so pure and impersonal. Seems harsh. Nowadays we don't think pure just has to be cruel, but Nietzsche may have assumed it had to be.
The intuition behind the categorical imperative is that one ought not to make an exception of oneself
     Full Idea: Kant's first formulation of the categorical imperative is supposed to capture the widespread intuition that one ought not to make an exception of oneself.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by James Gordon Finlayson - Habermas Ch.6:83
     A reaction: Interesting. I always take the plain English version to be 'what if everybody did that?' Suppose I were to forgive everyone, except myself?
Universalising a maxim needs to first stipulate the right description for the action
     Full Idea: Kant's rule about universalisable maxims is useless without stipulations as to what shall count as a relevant description of an action with a view to constructing a maxim about it.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by G.E.M. Anscombe - Modern Moral Philosophy p.176
     A reaction: This is one of the key objections to Kant (along with his need for preliminary values). One man's 'terrorist' is another man's 'freedom fighter'. The charge adds up to Nietzsche's view, that Kant could never shake off his very conventional prejudices.
The categorical imperative will not suggest maxims suitable for testing
     Full Idea: The doctrine of the categorical imperative provides me with a test for rejecting proposed maxims; it does not tell me whence I am to derive the maxims which first provide the need for a test.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Alasdair MacIntyre - A Short History of Ethics Ch.14
     A reaction: Nice objection. 'What if we all stood on one leg for an hour (in this crisis)?' Question for Kant: what sort of maxims should we consider, when faced with a dilemma. Mill will obviously suggest happiness as a target. Good of society? My own good?
Why couldn't all rational beings accept outrageously immoral rules of conduct?
     Full Idea: Kant fails, almost grotesquely, to show that there would be any logical or physical impossibility in the adoption by all rational beings of the most outrageously immoral rules of conduct.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by John Stuart Mill - Utilitarianism Ch.1
I can universalize a selfish maxim, if it is expressed in a way that only applies to me
     Full Idea: If we enquire whether I can consistently universalize the maxim 'I may break my promises only when.....', the gap can be filled by a description devised so that it will apply to my present circumstances, but to very few others.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Alasdair MacIntyre - A Short History of Ethics Ch.14
     A reaction: Another good objection to Kant. There is just a huge problem with how you state the maxim under discussion. One man's 'terrorist' is another man's 'freedom fighter'. 'Do everything possible to implement the will of God'.
Suicide, false promises, neglected talent, and lack of charity all involve contradictions of principle
     Full Idea: Kant's four illustrations of the Categorical Imperative are: the contradiction of suicide, the contradiction of false promises, the contradiction of neglecting your talents, and the contradiction of neglecting charity.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 422.53) by PG - Db (ideas)
Always treat yourself and others as an end, and never simply as a means
     Full Idea: Act in such a way that you always treat humanity whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], AA429 p.96), quoted by Terry Pinkard - German Philosophy 1760-1860 02
     A reaction: This sets up the Kingdom of Ends. Note that this does not prohibit using people as a means. It just asks you to respect waiters and shop assistants. It seems to say you should not treat 'your own person' merely as a means. Prostitution?
Morality is the creation of the laws that enable a Kingdom of Ends
     Full Idea: Morality consists in the relation of all action to the making of laws whereby alone a kingdom of ends is possible.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], AA434 p.102), quoted by Terry Pinkard - German Philosophy 1760-1860 02
     A reaction: Each individual gives themselves a law in the categorical imperative. Presumably the kingdom of ends is the convergence of these laws, because the categorical imperative has to be rational.
Act as if your maxim were to become a universal law of nature
     Full Idea: The universal imperative may also run as follows: 'Act as if the maxim of your action were to become through your will a universal law of nature'.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 421.52)
If lying were the universal law it would make promises impossible
     Full Idea: I can indeed will to lie, but I can by no means will a universal law of lying; for by such a law there could properly be no promises at all.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 403.19)
Act according to a maxim you can will as a universal law
     Full Idea: I ought never to act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 402.17)
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 5. Persons as Ends
Always treat humanity as an end and never as a means only
     Full Idea: Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or that of another always as an end and never as a means only.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]), quoted by Gordon Graham - Eight Theories of Ethics Ch.6
     A reaction: Does this really mean that I can't just negligently buy a newspaper without making an effort to respect its seller? How do I ensure that I treat myself as an end, and don't slip into treating myself as a means? What would that be like? Prostitution?
Rational beings necessarily conceive their own existence as an end in itself
     Full Idea: Rational nature exists as an end in itself; this is the way in which a man necessarily conceives his own existence.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 429.66)
The maxim of an action is chosen, and not externally imposed
     Full Idea: Kant does not dictate what the maxim (the principle) of my action should be, and this is the crux. The individual has to decide the basis for their actions, rather than have it imposed on them, which differentiates us from the world of nature.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Andrew Bowie - German Philosophy: a very short introduction 1
     A reaction: Apparenty this inspired the Romantic era (the Age of Freedom?) just as much as the French Revolution. It is the chief doctrine of extreme individualism - except that the maxim chosen should be one on which rational beings should agree.
Everyone (even God) must treat rational beings as ends in themselves, and not just as means
     Full Idea: In the order of ends, man (and every rational being) is an end in himself, i.e., he is never to be used merely as a means for someone (even for God) without at the same time being himself an end.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.II.II.V)
     A reaction: The worry here is that Kant has set up an exam that you have to pass before you can be treated as a moral end. Animals and the ecosystem will fail the exam, and even some human beings will be borderline cases. We should respect everything.
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 6. Motivation for Duty
Moral blame is based on reason, since a reason is a cause which should have been followed
     Full Idea: Moral blame is grounded in the law of reason, which regards reason as a cause that, regardless of all the empirical conditions, could have and ought to have determined the conduct of the person to be other than it is.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B583/A555)
     A reaction: This appears to be a description of akrasia, in which case it is hard to see how a reason is a cause if it doesn't actually produce the result it judges to be right. Kant is an intellectualist about morality, but not about practical reason, it seems.
Moral laws are commands, which must involve promises and threats, which only God could provide
     Full Idea: Everyone regards moral laws as commands, which they could not be if they did not connect consequences with their rule a priori, and thus carry with them promises and threats, which must lie in a necessary being as the highest good.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B839/A811)
     A reaction: This reveals the thinking of Kant's moral argument for God rather more nakedly than elsewhere.
For Kant, even a person who lacks all sympathy for others still has a motive for benevolence
     Full Idea: Kant, we may suppose, would say that if a man were 'cold in temperament and indifferent to the sufferings of others', he would still find in himself a source that would enable him to do what is benevolent.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Rosalind Hursthouse - On Virtue Ethics Ch.4
     A reaction: This identifies a strong appeal of Kant's theory - that whether we are morally good should not be a matter of luck in our upbringing or natural temperament. How is the vicious person to be saved, if not by reason?
If we are required to give moral thought the highest priority, this gives morality no content
     Full Idea: The Kantian view of what is important is that people should give moral considerations the highest deliberative priority, which Hegel attacked because it gives moral thought no content.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Bernard Williams - Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy Ch.10
     A reaction: Interesting. This points towards empathy and compassion as motivators, rather than reason, because there is some content to the morality, which calls out to us.
If Kant lives by self-administered laws, this is as feeble as self-administered punishments
     Full Idea: Kant thought that man is his own law - he binds himself under the law which he gives himself. This is how lawlessness or experimentation is established. This is no more rigorously earnest than Sancho Panza's self-administered blows to his own ass.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Søren Kierkegaard - The Journals of Kierkegaard JP-I, 188
     A reaction: It really is tempting to go easy on yourself rather than on others. Kant had the right ideas, but human beings aren't as disciplined as the categorical imperative requires. [SY]
Only a good will makes us worthy of happiness
     Full Idea: A good will seems to constitute the indispensable condition of our very worthiness to be happy.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 393.2)
The function of reason is to produce a good will
     Full Idea: Since reason has been imparted to us as a practical power, which thus influences the will, its true function must be to produce a will which is good.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 396.7)
Our inclinations are not innately desirable; in fact most rational beings would like to be rid of them
     Full Idea: Inclinations, as a source of needs, are so far from having an absolute value to make them desirable for their own sake that it must rather be the universal wish of every rational being to be wholly free from them.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 428.65)
Actions where people spread happiness because they enjoy it have no genuine moral worth
     Full Idea: There are many spirits of so sympathetic a temper that they find an inner pleasure in spreading happiness around them. ..I maintain that an action of this kind, however right and amiable it may be, has still no genuinely moral worth.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], p.66)
     A reaction: We understand what he means (that principle is everything), but this still seems a big hole in his account, one which drives us to Aristotle's sensible views about what a nice person is really like.
A holy will is incapable of any maxims which conflict with the moral law
     Full Idea: A holy will is one which is incapable of any maxims which conflict with the moral law
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.1.1.§7)
     A reaction: If such a will is 'incapable' of conflicting with moral law, it will not need to think or assess before action. This means that Kant's moral ideal can ultimately exclude the free-thinking intellect. Kant is describing a state of true Aristotelian virtue.
Reason cannot solve the problem of why a law should motivate the will
     Full Idea: How a law in itself can be the direct motive of the will (which is the essence of morality) is an insoluble problem for the human reason.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.1.III)
     A reaction: If that is the great man's final word, then it is tempting to switch to an empirical moral theory, such as that of Hobbes or Hume or E.O. Wilson, which starts from what motivations are available, and builds morality up from that.
The will's motive is the absolute law itself, and moral feeling is receptivity to law
     Full Idea: The will must have motives. But these are not objects of physical feeling as predetermined ends in themselves. They are none other than the absolute law itself, and the will's receptivity to it as an absolute compulsion is known as moral feeling.
     From: Immanuel Kant (True in Theory, but not in Practice [1792], 1Bb)
     A reaction: This sounds like our natural motivation to get the right answer when doing arithmetic, which is the innate motivation towards truth. I once heard it said that truth is the only value. So why does Donald Trump fail to value truth?
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 5. Existence-Essence
For Kant, essence is mental and a mere idea, and existence is the senses and mere appearance
     Full Idea: Kant's philosophy is the contradiction of essence and existence; essence lies in the mind and existence in the senses; existence without essence is mere appearance, and essence without existence is mere idea.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Ludwig Feuerbach - Principles of Philosophy of the Future §22
     A reaction: The Sartrean challenge is that existence without essence is not mere appearance, but is the central feature of reality as it actually is. One might even flirt with the slogan 'existence is essence'.
24. Political Theory / A. Basis of a State / 1. A People / a. Human distinctiveness
Man is both social, and unsociable
     Full Idea: Man is a being meant for society (though he is also an unsociable one).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 471 I.II)
     A reaction: A striking contrast with Aristotle in Idea 5133. It is the difference between the communitarian and the liberal views of society. The latter values privacy and good fences.
Humans are distinguished from animals by their capacity to set themselves any sort of end
     Full Idea: The capacity to set oneself an end - any end whatsoever - is what characterises humanity (as distinguished from animality).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 392 Intro VIII)
     A reaction: This appears to exclude animals which hunt, or build nests - but we have now hugely closed the gap between humans and other animals. I like this, because it chimes in with Sandel's Idea 21045.
24. Political Theory / A. Basis of a State / 1. A People / b. The natural life
The state of nature always involves the threat of war
     Full Idea: The state of nature is a state of war. For even if it does not involve active hostilities, it involves a constant threat of their breaking out.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Perpetual Peace [1795], 2)
     A reaction: Kant is siding with Hobbes against Rousseau, despite Rousseau's claim that Hobbes's pessimism concerns a more advanced situation that the true (and peaceful) state of nature.
24. Political Theory / A. Basis of a State / 3. Natural Values / c. Natural rights
Rational beings have a right to share in the end of an action, not just be part of the means
     Full Idea: A violator of the rights of man intends to use the person of others merely as a means, not considering that they should be used only as beings who must themselves be able to share in the end of the very same action.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 430.68)
There can be no restraints on freedom if reason does not reveal some basic rights
     Full Idea: If there is nothing which commands immediate respect through reason, such as the basic rights of man, no influence can prevail upon man's arbitrary will and restrain his freedom.
     From: Immanuel Kant (True in Theory, but not in Practice [1792], 2-Concl)
     A reaction: I think this is the nearest Kant gets to natural rights. It is hard to see how basic rights can be identified by pure reason, without some inbuilt human values. Kant's usual move is to say denial of them leads to a contradiction, but I'm going off that.
A power-based state of nature may not be unjust, but there is no justice without competent judges
     Full Idea: The state of nature need not be a state of injustice merely because those who live in it treat one another in terms of power. But it is devoid of justice, for if a dispute over right occurs in it, there is no competent judge to give valid decisions.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], §44)
     A reaction: Could you not achieve justice by means of personal violence? Might not a revered older person have been accepted as a judge?
24. Political Theory / B. Nature of a State / 2. State Legitimacy / c. Social contract
Personal contracts are for some end, but a civil state contract involves a duty to share
     Full Idea: In all social contracts, we find a union of many individuals for some common end which they all share. But a union as an end in itself which they all ought to share …is only found in a society insofar as it constitutes a civil state i.e. a commonwealth.
     From: Immanuel Kant (True in Theory, but not in Practice [1792], 2 Intro)
     A reaction: This makes a nice link between the contractarian individual morality of Hobbes and his social contract view of society. Kant seems to reject the first but accept the second. Presumably because the first implies benefit and the second implies duty.
There must be a unanimous contract that citizens accept majority decisions
     Full Idea: The actual principle of being content with majority decisions must be accepted unanimously and embodied in a contract, and this itself must be the ultimate basis on which a civil constitution is established.
     From: Immanuel Kant (True in Theory, but not in Practice [1792], 2-3)
     A reaction: This is the contract which combines a social contract with democracy. We unanimously agree not to be unanimous? Cf Idea 21065. What should the minority do when the majority elect criminal Nazi leaders?
A contract is theoretical, but it can guide rulers to make laws which the whole people will accept
     Full Idea: The original contract …is merely an idea of reason, which nonetheless has undoubted practical reality; for it can oblige every legislator to frame his laws in such a way that they could have been produced by the united will of a whole nation.
     From: Immanuel Kant (True in Theory, but not in Practice [1792], 2-Concl)
     A reaction: The contractualist theory of morality of Thomas Scanlon approaches this. Note that Kant says it 'can' oblige the legislators. Nothing would compel them to follow such a principle.
Kant made the social contract international and cosmopolitan
     Full Idea: Kant developed the social contract theory into an international and cosmopolitan idea.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Perpetual Peace [1795]) by Johanna Oksala - Political Philosophy: all that matters Ch.6
     A reaction: That is, the contract both operates between states, and rises above them. I found this idea rather thrilling when I first met it (listening to Onora O'Neill). But then I remain a child of the Englightenment.
24. Political Theory / B. Nature of a State / 2. State Legitimacy / d. General will
A law is unjust if the whole people could not possibly agree to it
     Full Idea: If the law is such that a whole people could not possibly agree to it …it is unjust.
     From: Immanuel Kant (True in Theory, but not in Practice [1792], 2-Concl)
     A reaction: Kant is explicitly trying to approximate Rousseau's general will. The categorical imperative was greatly influenced by Rousseau. The key point is not whether they accept it, but that unanimous acceptance is unthinkable. Unfair laws will fail.
The a priori general will of a people shows what is right
     Full Idea: It is precisely the general will as it is given a priori, within a single people or in the mutual relationships of various peoples, which alone determines what is right among men.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Perpetual Peace [1795], App 1)
     A reaction: The clearest quotation for showing Kant's debt to Rousseau. Why should Rousseau bother to have a real assembly of the people, if the General Will can be worked out a priori? Indeed, the a priori version must be deemed superior to any meeting.
24. Political Theory / B. Nature of a State / 3. Constitutions
Each nation should, from self-interest, join an international security constitution
     Full Idea: Each nation, for the sake of its own security, can and ought to demand of the others that they should enter along with it into a constitution, similar to the civil one, within which the rights of each could be secured.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Perpetual Peace [1795], 2.2nd)
     A reaction: Not sure how close the United Nations takes us to this. You have to admire Kant for this one.
A constitution must always be improved when necessary
     Full Idea: Changes for the better are necessary, in order that the constitution may constantly approach the optimum end prescribed by laws of right.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Perpetual Peace [1795], App 1)
     A reaction: This should be a clause in every constitution. It is crazy to feel trapped by a misjudgement or outdated view of your ancestors.
24. Political Theory / B. Nature of a State / 4. Citizenship
A citizen must control his own life, and possess property or an important skill
     Full Idea: The only qualification required by a citizen (apart, of course, from being an adult male) is that he must be his own master, and must have some property (which can include any skill, trade, fine art or science) to support himself.
     From: Immanuel Kant (True in Theory, but not in Practice [1792], 2-3)
     A reaction: Of course! Being one's own master evidently allows for being an employee, as long as this is a free contract, and not exploitation. Invites lots of interesting test cases. We need a Marxist commentary on this idea.
24. Political Theory / C. Ruling a State / 2. Leaders / a. Autocracy
Monarchs have the highest power; autocrats have complete power
     Full Idea: A monarch has the highest power, while an autocrat or absolute ruler is one who has all the power.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], §51)
     A reaction: If society is strictly hierarchical (like an army) then the monarch also has all the power. At the other extreme the one holding the highest power may have very little power, because so many others have their share of the power.
24. Political Theory / C. Ruling a State / 2. Leaders / d. Elites
Hereditary nobility has not been earned, and probably won't be earned
     Full Idea: A hereditary nobility is a distinction bestowed before it is earned, and since it gives no ground for hoping that it will be earned, it is wholly unreal and fanciful.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], §49 Gen D)
     A reaction: As the controller of the region of a country, a hereditary noble is the embodiment of a ruling family, which is a well established way of running things. Daft, perhaps, but there are probably worse ways of doing it. Single combat, for example.
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 6. Liberalism / b. Liberal aims
An obvious idea is a constitution based on maximum mutual freedom for citizens
     Full Idea: A constitution providing for the greatest human freedom according to laws that permit the freedom of each to exist together with that of others is at least a necessary idea.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B373/A316)
     A reaction: The basis of Mill's 'On Liberty'. Given that he claims it to be a necessary idea, it is strikingly characteristic of the Enlightenment, and not the sort of thing that occurred to people in 1320. Individual freedom acquired a value. John Lilburne?
Our aim is a constitution which combines maximum freedom with strong restraint
     Full Idea: The highest task which nature has set mankind is to establish a society in which freedom under external laws would be combined to the greatest possible extent with irresistible force, in other words of establishing a perfectly just constitution.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Idea for a Universal History [1784], 5th)
     A reaction: The 'force' is to restrict the harms that may result from individual freedom. This seems to equate justice with liberal freedom. Force can prevent direct harm to others, but what to do about indirect harm? Many lack freedom, but whose fault is it?
A lawful civil state must embody freedom, equality and independence for its members
     Full Idea: The civil state, regarded purely as a lawful state, is based on the following a priori principles. 1) the freedom of every member as a human being, 2) the equality of each as a subject, 3) the independence of each as a subject.
     From: Immanuel Kant (True in Theory, but not in Practice [1792], 2 Intro)
     A reaction: Written in 1792, three years after the start of the French Revolution. He says that a state with an inbuilt hierarchy or aristocracy is unlawful. Which freedoms, equality in what respects, and independence from what?
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 6. Liberalism / e. Liberal freedom
The vitality of business needs maximum freedom (while avoiding harm to others)
     Full Idea: If the citizen is deterred from seeking his personal welfare in any way he chooses which is consistent with the freedom of others, the vitality of business in general and hence also the strength of the whole are held in check.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Idea for a Universal History [1784], 8th)
     A reaction: This is a rather American view of liberalism. Kant has been praising the virtues of aggressive competition.
Actions are right if the maxim respects universal mutual freedoms
     Full Idea: Every action which by itself or by its maxim enables the freedom of each individual's will to co-exist with the freedom of everyone else in accordance with a universal law is right.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], Intro C)
     A reaction: This idea shows the moral basis for Kant's liberalism in politics. If all individuals acted without contact or reference to other individuals (a race of hermits) then that would appear to be optimum moral right, by this standard.
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 12. Feminism
Women have no role in politics
     Full Idea: Women in general …have no civil personality.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], §46)
     A reaction: In case you were wondering. This is five years after Mary Wollstonecraft's book.
25. Social Practice / A. Freedoms / 3. Free speech
Enlightenment requires the free use of reason in the public realm
     Full Idea: The public use of man's reason must always be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among men; the private use of reason may quite often be very narrowly restricted (…in a particular civil post or office).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Answer to 'What is Enlightenment?' [1784], p.55)
     A reaction: The private aspect seems to be the common restriction on speech by employees of the state. Does free speech have only instrumental value? Is the life of virtue possible without it?
25. Social Practice / A. Freedoms / 4. Free market
Kant is the father of the notion of exploitation as an evil
     Full Idea: Kant is the father of the notion of exploitation as an evil.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Isaiah Berlin - The Roots of Romanticism Ch.3
     A reaction: This is central to the idea of Kant as the main father of liberalism, the idea that every individual deserves respect, and hence has rights. The idea would also be a crucial element in Europe turning against slavery.
25. Social Practice / A. Freedoms / 6. Political freedom
The existence of reason depends on the freedom of citizens to agree, doubt and veto ideas
     Full Idea: The very existence of reason depends on freedom, which has no dictatorial authority, but whose claim is never anything more than the agreement of free citizens, each of whom must be able to express reservations, indeed even veto, without holding back.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B766/A738)
     A reaction: I think the biggest conflict within modern societies (as opposed to currently existing medieval ones) is between the freedom that is required for a rational society, and the restraint which is required for a virtuous society. What has highest value?
25. Social Practice / B. Equalities / 3. Legal equality
Equality is where you cannot impose a legal obligation you yourself wouldn't endure
     Full Idea: Rightful equality within a state is a relationship among citizens where no-one can put anyone else under a legal obligation without submitting simultaneously to a law which requires that he can be put under the same kind of obligation by the other person.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Perpetual Peace [1795], 2.1st n)
     A reaction: This appears only to be legal equality, rather than political or economic or social equality.
Equality is not being bound in ways you cannot bind others
     Full Idea: Our innate equality is independence from being bound by others to more than one can in turn bind them.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], Div B)
     A reaction: This doesn't seem to capture the whole concept. The two of us may be unequally oppressed by a third. We are unequal with the third, but also with one another, though with no binding relationships.
25. Social Practice / B. Equalities / 4. Economic equality
Citizens can rise to any rank that talent, effort and luck can achieve
     Full Idea: Every member of the commonwealth must be entitled to reach any degree of rank which a subject can earn through his talent, his industry and his good fortune.
     From: Immanuel Kant (True in Theory, but not in Practice [1792], 2-2)
     A reaction: This is equality of opportunity, which is a mantra for liberals, but has been subjected to good criticisms in modern times. The main question is whether there is formal and legal equality, or actual practical equality.
25. Social Practice / C. Rights / 1. Basis of Rights
There is now a growing universal community, and violations of rights are felt everywhere
     Full Idea: The peoples of the earth have entered in varying degrees into a universal community, and it has developed to the point where a violation of rights in one part of the world is felt everywhere.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Perpetual Peace [1795], 'Third')
     A reaction: I hope slavery was at the forefront of his mind when he wrote that. It is only in very recent times (since about 1960?) that major violations of rights are felt to matter to the whole human race. A long way to go, though.
There are political and inter-national rights, but also universal cosmopolitan rights
     Full Idea: The idea of a cosmopolitan right is not fantastic and overstrained; it is a necessary complement to the unwritten code of political and international right, transforming it into a universal right of humanity.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Perpetual Peace [1795], 'Third')
     A reaction: The interesting thought is that there are no 'natural rights', but there can be universal rights insofar as there exists a universal community. See the UN Declaration of Human Rights c.1948.
25. Social Practice / C. Rights / 3. Alienating rights
You can't make a contract renouncing your right to make contracts!
     Full Idea: No one can voluntarily renounce his rights by a contract ..to the effect that he has no rights but only duties, for such a contract would deprive him of the right to make a contract, and would thus invalidate the one he had already made.
     From: Immanuel Kant (True in Theory, but not in Practice [1792], 2-2)
     A reaction: Kant tries to establish all of his principles by showing that their denial is contradictory. But this example is blatantly wrong. King Lear didn't nullify his previous legislation when he abdicated, and his two daughters legally kept their territories.
In the contract people lose their rights, but immediately regain them, in the new commonwealth
     Full Idea: By the original contract all members of the people give up their external freedom in order to receive it back at once as members of a commonweath.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], §47)
     A reaction: This tries to give the impression that absolutely nothing is lost in the original alienation of rights. It is probably better to say that you give up one set of freedoms, which are replaced by a different (and presumably superior) set.
25. Social Practice / C. Rights / 4. Property rights
If someone has largely made something, then they own it
     Full Idea: Whatever someone has himself substantially made is his own undisputed property.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], §55)
     A reaction: To this extent Kant offers clear agreement with Locke about a self-evident property right. Ownership of land is the controversial bit.
25. Social Practice / D. Justice / 1. Basis of justice
The highest ideal of social progress is a universal cosmopolitan existence
     Full Idea: There is hope that the highest purpose of nature, a universal cosmopolitan existence, will at last be realised as the matrix within which all the original capacities of the human race may develop.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Idea for a Universal History [1784], 8th)
     A reaction: Apart from Diogenes of Sinope, Kant seems to have been the first great champion of the cosmopolitan ideal. As I write (2018) the western world is putting up growing barriers against immigrants. I think my response may be to adopt Kantian cosmopolitanism.
Human life is pointless without justice
     Full Idea: If justice perishes, there is no further point in men living on earth.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], §49 Gen E)
     A reaction: I suspect that human life is also pointless if it only involves justice, and nothing else worthwhile. Are there other things so good that we might sacrifice justice to achieve them? How about maximal utilitarian happiness?
25. Social Practice / D. Justice / 2. The Law / c. Natural law
Kant completed Grotius's project of a non-religious basis for natural law
     Full Idea: Kant is often held to have completed a task begun by Grotius, giving a basis for natural law which does not invoke the will of God, but rather commands God himself to obedience.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Roger Scruton - A Dictionary of Political Thought 'Kant'
     A reaction: This project, if successful, would clinch the naturalistic response to the Euthyphro Question (Ideas 336 and 337). It is a key issue for atheists, who generally wish to deny that their lack of religion leads inevitably to amorality.
25. Social Practice / D. Justice / 3. Punishment / a. Right to punish
Justice asserts the death penalty for murder, from a priori laws
     Full Idea: All murderers …must suffer the death penalty. This is what justice, as the idea of judicial power, wills in accordance with universal laws of a priori origin.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], §49 Gen E)
     A reaction: Illustration of how giving a principle an a priori origin puts it beyond dispute. Kant is adamant that mercy mustn't interfere with the enactment of justice. And Kant obviously rejects any consequentialist approach. Remind me what is wrong with murder?
25. Social Practice / D. Justice / 3. Punishment / b. Retribution for crime
Retributive punishment is better than being sent to hospital for your crimes
     Full Idea: Kant believed in retributive punishment, because he thought that a man would prefer being sent to prison to going to hospital.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Isaiah Berlin - The Roots of Romanticism Ch.4
     A reaction: That is, even criminals welcome the dignity of being treated as if they are actually responsible for their deeds, and are not just victims of inner forces. Criminals demand free will! Truth is best, though; many of them are not responsible at all.
Violation of rights deserves punishment, which is vengeance, rather than restitution
     Full Idea: Every deed that violates a man's right deserves punishment, the function of which is to avenge a crime on the one who committed it (not merely to make good the harm done). ...but no punishment may be inflicted out of hatred.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 460-1 I.II)
     A reaction: A fairly hideous idea, confirming the image of Kant as someone who coldly perfoms ruthless duties. I don't think Kant ever offers any clarity for the concepts of 'deserving' or of 'avenging'. What is the appropriate vengeance for theft?
25. Social Practice / E. Policies / 1. War
The people (who have to fight) and not the head of state should declare a war
     Full Idea: Each state must be organised so that the head of state, for whom the war costs nothing (for he wages it at the expense of the people) must no longer have the deciding vote on whether war is to be declared or not, for the people who pay for it must decide.
     From: Immanuel Kant (True in Theory, but not in Practice [1792], 3)
     A reaction: I would guess that he has Louis XIV particularly in mind. Imagine if Kant's proposal had been implemented in 1914. A referendum takes ages, and the people would need the facts (from the intelligence agencies).
Hiring soldiers is to use them as instruments, ignoring their personal rights
     Full Idea: The hiring of men to kill or be killed seems to mean using them as mere machines and insturments in the hands of someone else (the state), which cannot easily be reconciled with the rights of man in one's own person.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Perpetual Peace [1795], 1.3)
     A reaction: Kant was not a pacificist, though this makes him sound like one. Some men go off to war with enthusiasm, and then regret it. Exploitation of rational beings may be the worst sin in Kant's Enlightenment world.
Some trust in the enemy is needed during wartime, or peace would be impossible
     Full Idea: It must remain possible, even in wartime, to have some sort of trust in the attitude of the enemy, otherwise peace could not be concluded and the hostilities would turn into a war of extermination.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Perpetual Peace [1795], 1.6)
     A reaction: Consider the 'unconditional surrender' approach to the Nazis in 1944, and the peace of May 1945, made with very different Germans. How do you make peace with an enemy you cannot trust?
25. Social Practice / E. Policies / 2. Religion in Society
The church has a political role, by offering a supreme power over people
     Full Idea: The church [as opposed to religion] fulfils a genuine political necessity, for it enables the people to regard themselves as subjects of an invisible supreme power to which they must pay homage.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], §49 Gen C)
     A reaction: I'm sure I remember Marx putting a different spin on this point… This idea captures the conservative attitude to established religion, at least in the UK.
25. Social Practice / F. Life Issues / 4. Suicide
The maxim for suicide is committed to the value of life, and is thus contradictory
     Full Idea: If my maxim is to shorten my life if its continuance threatens more evil than pleasure ...it is seen that a system of nature by whose law the feeling intended to further life should actually destroy life would contradict itself, and could not subsist.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Lectures on Ethics [1780], 422:53)
     A reaction: [compressed] I take it this means that a potential suicide is assessing what is best for life, and is therefore implicitly committed to life. Not persuasive! Should we not terminate the life of a mass murderer in mid-crime?
A permanent natural order could not universalise a rule permitting suicide
     Full Idea: The maxim of freely disposing of my life could not hold as a universal law of nature, …because no one could choose to end his life, for such an arrangement could not constitute a permanent natural order.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.1.1.I)
     A reaction: This sort of claim brings out the advantanges of Aristotelian 'particularism' (expounded by Dancy). Obviously universal suicide isn't promising, but no one wants that. A few suicides in extreme cases will have no effect at all on the natural order.
25. Social Practice / F. Life Issues / 6. Animal Rights
Non-rational beings only have a relative value, as means rather than as ends
     Full Idea: Beings whose existence depends not on our will but on nature have, if they are non-rational beings, only a relative value as means and are consequently called 'things' (rather than 'persons').
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 428.65)
     A reaction: Ugh. Is there nothing in between 'persons' and 'things'? How about a deeply comatose human, or an embryo? It is a gross distortion to think of a chimpanzee as a 'thing'.
Men can only have duties to those who qualify as persons
     Full Idea: Man has duties only to men, ...since his duty to any other subject is moral constraint by that's subject's will. Hence the constraining (binding) subject must first be a person. Man can therefore have no duty to any beings other than men.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 442 I.I)
     A reaction: This is good for illuminating why I am not a Kantian. It is not just that animals are ruled out - it is that whether you show respect depends on whether the recipient passes some test or other. Humans with brain damage may fail the test.
Cruelty to animals is bad because it dulls our empathy for pain in humans
     Full Idea: Cruel treatment of animals is intimately opposed to man's duty to himself; ...for it dulls his shared feeling of their pain and so weakens and gradually uproots a natural predisposition that is very serviceable to morality in relations with other men.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 443 I.I)
     A reaction: This idea is quite shocking. Kant's rough contemporary Bentham was far more enlightened. If we could be certain that our feelings of empathy for pain were not dulled by cruelty to animals, then it would be fine.
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 1. Nature
Kant's nature is just a system of necessary laws
     Full Idea: In the first Critique, nature is just a system of necessary laws.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Andrew Bowie - German Philosophy: a very short introduction 1
     A reaction: This seems to have provoked rebellion in Schiller and the early Romantics, and Kant tried to add teleology to his picture of nature. Leibniz saw nature as dimly alive, and Schiller focused on organisms. Biology is not very lawlike.
Kant identifies nature with the scientific picture of it as the realm of law
     Full Idea: For Kant the idea of nature is the idea of the realm of law, the idea that came into focus with the rise of modern science.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by John McDowell - Mind and World V.4
     A reaction: Any doubts about the existence of laws of nature (e.g. Ideas 5470, 6781, 5474) would pull the mat out from under this view. I am inclined to view nature as the realm of natural kinds, which give rise to the regularities we call 'laws'.
The Critique of Judgement aims for a principle that unities humanity and nature
     Full Idea: The Critique of Judgement aims to show how judgement functions 'according to the principle of the appropriateness of nature to our capacity for cognition'. It is meant to provide a principle of the unity of humankind and nature.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement II: Teleological [1790]) by Andrew Bowie - German Philosophy: a very short introduction 1
     A reaction: Hence this work is often overlooked as a key part of Kant's 'system'. At first he probably didn't realise he was creating a system. Kant set an agenda for the philosophy of the ensuing thirty years.
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 2. Natural Purpose / b. Limited purposes
Reason must assume as necessary that everything in a living organism has a proportionate purpose
     Full Idea: Regarding the nature of living beings in this world, reason must assume as a necessary principle that no organ, no faculty, nothing superfluous, or disproportionate to its use, hence nothing purposeless, is to be met with.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B425)
     A reaction: Extraordinary to treat this as an a priori truth! In fact Darwin seems to have discovered that most organs have a purpose, but sometimes they have become redundant, and certainly they can be disproportionate. Did Kant really need that massive intellect?
Without men creation would be in vain, and without final purpose
     Full Idea: Without men the whole creation would be mere waste, in vain, and without final purpose.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement II: Teleological [1790], C3 442), quoted by Christine M. Korsgaard - Aristotle and Kant on the Source of Value 8 'Kant'
     A reaction: The standard early twenty-first century response to that is 'get over it'! The remark shows how deep religion runs in Kant, despite his great caution about the existence of God. His notion of 'duty' is similarly religious.
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 7. Later Matter Theories / c. Matter as extension
Extension and impenetrability together make the concept of matter
     Full Idea: Extension and impenetrability together constitute the concept of matter.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B646/A618)
     A reaction: Descartes had settled for extension alone. Kant's simple claim is probably now just a historical footnote, as we would now turn to physicists to define matter. Extension might survive, but impenetrability is not a key notion in quantum mechanics.
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 8. Particular Causation / b. Causal relata
A ball denting a pillow seems like simultaneous cause and effect, though time identifies which is cause
     Full Idea: If I consider a ball that lies on a stuffed pillow and makes a dent in it as a cause, it is simultaneous with its effect. Yet I distinguish the two by means of the temporal relation of the dynamical connection.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B248/A203)
     A reaction: Mumford and Lill Anjum use this example to defend simultaneous cause and effect, whereas Kant seems to be in the grip of an a priori assumption that cause must come first. At the micro level Kant may be right. Two books lean on one another?
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / a. Constant conjunction
Appearances give rules of what usually happens, but cause involves necessity
     Full Idea: The concept of cause always requires that something A be of such a kind that something else B follows from it necessarily and in accordance with an absolutely universal rule. Appearances may give a rule that something usually happens, but not necessarily.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B124/A91)
     A reaction: I must side with Hume when it is put like this. As all empiricists are keen to tell us, a strong feeling of necessity is not enough to guarantee it. Has Kant confused 'natural' and 'metaphysical' necessity? We can't learn natural necessity a priori.
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / b. Nomological causation
The concept of causality entails laws; random causality is a contradiction
     Full Idea: For Kant, the will is a causality, and the concept of a causality entails laws; a causality which functions randomly is a contradiction.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Christine M. Korsgaard - Intro to 'Creating the Kingdom of Ends' Ch.1
     A reaction: This seems to be a rather Humean view, which may be confusing the epistemology (of how we might detect causes) from the ontology (of what causation is). Where is the logical contradiction in random unpredictable causes?
We judge causation by relating events together by some law of nature
     Full Idea: Kant says that we can judge one event to cause another if we can relate the two events to one another by some law of nature.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Edwin D. Mares - A Priori 07.3
     A reaction: I take this to have got things exactly the wrong way round, since it leaves no notion of the foundations of the laws being used to do the explaining. The laws have to be primitive or supernatural.
Experience is only possible because we subject appearances to causal laws
     Full Idea: It is only because we subject the sequence of appearances and thus all alteration to the law of causality that experience itself is possible.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B234/A189)
     A reaction: Remarks like this make me sympathise with Hume. Kant puts it too strongly. It strikes me as theoretically possible to 'experience' a sequence with no thought of causality.
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / d. Causal necessity
Causation obviously involves necessity, so it cannot just be frequent association
     Full Idea: The very concept of a cause obviously contains the concept of a necessity of connection with an effect and a strict universality of rule, which would be entirely lost if one sought, as Hume did, to derive it from a frequent association.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B005)
     A reaction: It is not clear (in the next paragraphs) whether Kant is saying causation is necessary because it is knowable a priori, or knowable a priori because it is necessary. I am quite sure that Hume cannot be dismissed as glibly as this.
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / b. Scientific necessity
For Kant the laws must be necessary, because contingency would destroy representation
     Full Idea: Kant considers the hypothesis of the contingency of the laws of nature to be refuted by the mere fact of representation. ...If representation were no longer structured by causality, it would no longer structure any aspect of the phenomenon at all.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Quentin Meillassoux - After Finitude; the necessity of contingency 4
     A reaction: This is based on the belief that a contingent nature would continually change, which Meillassoux denies.
Kant fails to prove the necessity of laws, because his reasoning about chance is over-ambitious
     Full Idea: Kant's belief in the necessity of laws is revoked as an instance of aleatory reason's unwarranted pretension to reach beyond the limits of experience.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Quentin Meillassoux - After Finitude; the necessity of contingency 4
     A reaction: A glimpse of Meillassoux's master argument. He cites Cantor on the uncountable transfinite, claiming that chance in nature involves the transfinite, but normal reasoning about chances should be restricted to what is countable.
27. Natural Reality / C. Space / 2. Space
Space must have three dimensions, because only three lines can meet at right angles
     Full Idea: That complete space …has three dimensions, and that space in general cannot have more, is built on the proposition that not more than three lines can intersect at right angles in a point.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 285)
     A reaction: Modern geometry seems to move, via the algebra, to more than three dimensions, and then battles for an intuition of how that can be. I don't know how they would respond to Kant's challenge here.
We can't learn of space through experience; experience of space needs its representation
     Full Idea: Thus the representation of space cannot be obtained from the relations of outer appearance through experience, but this outer experience is itself first possible only through this representation.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B038/A23)
     A reaction: There is an obvious symbiosis between the mental experience of such things as space and the nature of the thing itself, but I don't see what basis Kant can have for his confident distinction.
Space is an a priori necessary basic intuition, as we cannot imagine its absence
     Full Idea: Space is a necessary representation, a priori, which is the ground of all outer intuitions. One can never represent that there is no space, although one can very well think that there are no objects to be encountered.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B038/A24)
     A reaction: The proposal that space is a mental intuition rather than a reality strikes me, and most people, as daft, but the observation that we are incapable of imagining the absence of space is striking. It is one of the basics of thought.
27. Natural Reality / D. Time / 1. Nature of Time / a. Absolute time
If all empirical sensation of bodies is removed, space and time are still left
     Full Idea: If everything empirical, namely what belongs to sensation, is taken away from the empirical intuition of bodies and their changes (motion), space and time are still left.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 284)
     A reaction: This is an exercise in psychological abstraction, which doesn't sound like good evidence, though it is an interesting claim. Physicists want to hijack this debate, but I like Kant's idea.
If space and time exist absolutely, we must assume the existence of two pointless non-entities
     Full Idea: Those who decide in favour of the subsistence of the absolute reality of space and time must assume two eternal and infinite self-subsisting non-entities which exist (without there being anything real) only to comprehend everything real within themselves.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B056/A39)
     A reaction: This is an attack on Newton, and modern physics seems (thanks to Einstein) to agree with Kant. However the modern view strikes me as the usual confusion of epistemology and ontology. Physicists report what we can know, without speculation about how it is.
27. Natural Reality / D. Time / 1. Nature of Time / c. Idealist time
One can never imagine appearances without time, so it is given a priori
     Full Idea: Time is a necessary representation that grounds all intuitions. In regard to appearances in general on cannot remove time, though one can very well take the appearances away from time. Time is therefore given a priori.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B046/A31)
     A reaction: As with space, the notion that time is a purely a priori intuition, and not a real feature of the 'space-time manifold' strikes me as absurd (though, unlike space, a reductive account of time might be possible), but its absence is indeed unimaginable.
27. Natural Reality / D. Time / 2. Passage of Time / a. Experience of time
The three modes of time are persistence, succession and simultaneity
     Full Idea: The three 'modi' of time are persistence, succession and simultaneity.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B219/A177)
     A reaction: I find such an assertion quite breathtaking in its confidence. How does he know this? It is tempting to try to reduce the three modes down to two or one. See Ideas 2608 and 4230 for McTaggart's reduction to two.
That times cannot be simultaneous is synthetic, so it is known by intuition, not analysis
     Full Idea: The proposition that different times cannot be simultaneous is synthetic, and cannot arise from concepts alone. It is therefore immediately contained in the intuition and representation of time.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B047/A32)
     A reaction: It seems possible that this proposition is in fact analytic. What would it be like for two times to be simultaneous? If it happened we would not accept it, because it would violate our very concept of an instant in time.
27. Natural Reality / D. Time / 2. Passage of Time / b. Rate of time
If time involved succession, we must think of another time in which succession occurs
     Full Idea: If one were to ascribe succession to time itself, one would have to think yet another time in which this succession would be possible.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B226/A183)
     A reaction: The implication of this might be that while we must believe that time exists, we are utterly incapable of imagining its existence.
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 6. Divine Morality / b. Euthyphro question
We don't accept duties as coming from God, but assume they are divine because they are duties
     Full Idea: So far as practical reason has the right to lead us, we will not hold actions to be obligatory because they are God's commands, but will rather regard them as divine commands because we are internally obligated to them.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B847/A819)
     A reaction: Thus Kant agrees with Plato in his response to the latter's 'Euthyphro Question' (Ideas 336 and Idea 337).
We can only know we should obey God if we already have moral standards for judging God
     Full Idea: On Kant's view it never follows that we ought to do what God commands, for we would have to know that we always ought to do what God commands, but that would need a standard of moral judgement independent of God's commands. God's commands are redundant.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Alasdair MacIntyre - After Virtue: a Study in Moral Theory Ch.4
     A reaction: This strikes me as a very powerful argument, even an undeniable one. How could you accept any authority if you didn't have some standards for accepting it, even if the standard was just to be awestruck by someone's charisma and will-power?
We judge God to be good by a priori standards of moral perfection
     Full Idea: Where do we get the concept of God as the highest good? Solely from the idea of moral perfection, which reason traces a priori.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], 408.29)
Obligation does not rest on the existence of God, but on the autonomy of reason
     Full Idea: It is not to be understood that the assumption of the existence of God is necessary as a ground for all obligation in general (for this rests, as has been shown, solely on the autonomy of reason itself).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.II.II.V)
     A reaction: This shows that Kant agrees with Plato about the Euthyphro Question - that is, they both think that morality is logically and naturally prior to any gods. I agree. Why would we admire or worship or obey gods if we didn't think they were good?
28. God / B. Proving God / 1. Proof of God
Only three proofs of God: the physico-theological (evidence), the cosmological (existence), the ontological (a priori)
     Full Idea: There are three proofs of the existence of God: the physico-theological, the cosmological, and the ontological. There are no more of them, and there also cannot be any more.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B619/A591)
     A reaction: It is hard to deny this, though the 'physico-theological' group may be a sizeable family. The immediate difficulty may be that physical evidence supports something less than God, the cosmological is just speculation, and a priori proofs won't work.
28. God / B. Proving God / 2. Proofs of Reason / b. Ontological Proof critique
Existence is merely derived from the word 'is' (rather than being a predicate)
     Full Idea: For Kant, existence derives from a true affirmative subject-copula-predicate judgement; existence is not a real predicate, but is merely derivatively implied by the copula ('is').
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Alex Orenstein - W.V. Quine Ch.2
     A reaction: This is Kant's understanding of 'existence is not a predicate', prior to the later move of Brentano and Frege, which places existence claims in the quantifier, which is outside the proposition.
Modern logic says (with Kant) that existence is not a predicate, because it has been reclassified as a quantifier
     Full Idea: Kant's famous critique of the Ontological Argument that existence is not a predicate leaves one perplexed as to what it might be, but modern logic says that existence is a quantifier, not a predicate.
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by José A. Benardete - Metaphysics: the logical approach Ch.10
     A reaction: See McGinn's criticism of this in Idea 6062.
Kant never denied that 'exist' could be a predicate - only that it didn't enlarge concepts
     Full Idea: Kant denied that 'exists' was a predicate that enlarged the concept; he never denied that it was a predicate.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by M Fitting/R Mendelsohn - First-Order Modal Logic 8.4
Is "This thing exists" analytic or synthetic?
     Full Idea: Is the proposition "This or that thing exists" an analytic or a synthetic proposition?
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B625/A597)
     A reaction: Quine's challenge to the analytic/synthetic distinction (e.g. Idea 1626) may spoil this question, but it seems fine ask whether we are talking about words or facts here. Once this question is asked, the Ontological Argument is in trouble.
If 'this exists' is analytic, either the thing is a thought, or you have presupposed its existence
     Full Idea: If the proposition 'this thing exists' is analytic, ..then either the thought is the thing, or else you have presupposed the existence and then inferred it, which is just a miserable tautology.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B625/A597)
     A reaction: I love the phrase "miserable tautology"! A possible strategy is to treat God as a self-evident a priori axiom. This would not be a tautology, but it would make evidence irrelevant. This may be the strategy behind Kierkegaard's 'leap of faith'.
If an existential proposition is synthetic, you must be able to cancel its predicate without contradiction
     Full Idea: If you concede that every existential proposition is synthetic, then how would you assert that the predicate of existence may not be cancelled without contradictions?
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B626/A598)
     A reaction: The point is that the Ontological Argument claims that "God does not exist" is a contradiction. Kant is echoing Hume here. The proposition that 'nothing exists' hardly sounds like a logical impossibility
Being is not a real predicate, that adds something to a concept
     Full Idea: Being is obviously not a real predicate, i.e. a concept of something that could add to the concept of a thing.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B626/A598)
     A reaction: Kant's famous slogan against the Ontological Argument. The modern line is that existence is a quantifier, which stands outside a proposition, and says whether it applies to anything. It is worth considering the possibility that Kant is wrong.
You add nothing to the concept of God or coins if you say they exist
     Full Idea: If I take God together with all his predicates (among which omnipotence belongs), and say 'God is', then I add no new predicate to the concept of God. ..A hundred actual thalers do not contain the least bit more than a hundred possible ones.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B627/A599)
     A reaction: Norman Malcolm claims that 'necessary existence' adds something to a concept. We can compare a concept with and without contingent existence, but the comparison is void if the existence is necessary. I love Kant's objection, though.
28. God / B. Proving God / 2. Proofs of Reason / c. Moral Argument
God is not proved by reason, but is a postulate of moral thinking
     Full Idea: Kant speaks of God not as something known or proved to exist by virtue of rational argument, but as a postulate of moral reflection (that is, of 'practical reason').
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Brian Davies - Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion 9 'Morality'
     A reaction: Presumably it is a necessary postulate, which makes this a transcendental argument, surely?
We have to postulate something outside nature which makes happiness coincide with morality
     Full Idea: The existence must be postulated of a cause of the whole of nature, itself distinct from nature, which contains the ground of the exact coincidence of happiness with morality.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.II.II.V)
     A reaction: I can see that we need a concept of how happiness could be made proportional to morality, but I can't make sense of the assumption that it is actually possible, and hence something must exist that would achieve it.
Belief in justice requires belief in a place for justice (heaven), a time (eternity), and a cause (God)
     Full Idea: To believe in justice in an unjust world, you have to believe in a place of perfect justice (heaven), a time for perfect justice (eternity), and a cause of perfect justice (God).
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.II.II.V) by PG - Db (ideas)
     A reaction: Compare Boethius in Idea 5765. I can see that we might need to grasp the ideals of eternal justice in order to understand morality, but belief in their genuine possibility, or even actuality, doesn't seem to follow.
28. God / B. Proving God / 3. Proofs of Evidence / a. Cosmological Proof
If you prove God cosmologically, by a regress in the sequences of causes, you can't abandon causes at the end
     Full Idea: If one begins the proof cosmologically, by grounding it on the series of appearances and the regress in this series in accordance with empirical causal laws, one cannot later shift from this and go over to something which does not belong to the series
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B484/A456)
     A reaction: Badly expressed, but it is the idea that if you start from 'everything has a cause', you can't use it to prove the existence of an uncaused entity. Better to say: an uncaused entity is the only explanation we can imagine for a causal sequence.
To know if this world must have been created by God, we would need to know all other possible worlds
     Full Idea: We can't infer the existence of God from knowledge of this world, because we should have to know all possible worlds in order to compare them - in short, we should have to be omniscient - in order to say that it is possible only through a God.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.II.II.VI)
     A reaction: A nice remark, but not wholly convincing. This argument would block all attempts to work out necessities a priori, such as those of maths and logic. Must we know all possible worlds intimately to know that 2+2 is always 4?
28. God / B. Proving God / 3. Proofs of Evidence / c. Teleological Proof critique
From our limited knowledge we can infer great virtues in God, but not ultimate ones
     Full Idea: Since we know only a small part of the world, and cannot compare it with all possible worlds, we can infer from the order, design and magnitude to a wise, beneficent and powerful Author, but not that He is all-knowing, all-good, and all-powerful.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.II.II.VI)
     A reaction: This is very much in the spirit of David Hume, who inferred from the flaws in the world that God did not seem to be entirely competent. Hume is also more imaginative, in seeing that God might be a committee, or a hired workman.
Using God to explain nature is referring to something inconceivable to explain what is in front of you
     Full Idea: To have recourse to God in explaining the arrangements of nature is not a physical explanation but a confession that one has come to the end of philosophy, since one assumes something of which one has no concept to conceive what is before one's eyes.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.II.II.VI)
     A reaction: Hume had many objections to the design argument, some of them positively sarcastic, but none as ruthless as this, since Kant (here) seems to find God to be a totally empty concept, and hence a complete non-starter as explanation for anything.
28. God / C. Attitudes to God / 4. God Reflects Humanity
In all naturalistic concepts of God, if you remove the human qualities there is nothing left
     Full Idea: One can confidently challenge all pretended natural theologians to cite one single definitive attribute of their object, of which one could not irrefutably show that, when everything anthropomorphic is removed, only the word remains.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Practical Reason [1788], I.II.II.VI)
     A reaction: This idea derives from Hume's very empiricist view of our understanding of God (Idea 2185), but Kant is (remarkably) more hostile than Hume, because he actually implies that most people's concept of God is totally vacuous.