Kant's Theory of Knowledge: An Outline of One Central Argument in the Critique of Pure Reason

By Graham Bird | Go to book overview
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12
THE TRANSITION TO MORAL PHILOSOPHY

'Freedom as a property of a being to which I attribute effects in the sensible world is, therefore, not knowable in any such fashion (through empirical observation)' (B xxviii).

'Practical freedom can be proved through experience' (B 829).

THROUGHOUT the Dialectic Kant deals with a number of mistakes and conflicts in philosophy; and his treatment of them generally follows the pattern outlined previously (Ch. 5). The mistakes and conflicts arise generally from a failure to distinguish between phenomena, of which we have knowledge, and supposed intelligible objects, of which we know nothing. We have, on Kant's view, certain concepts or Ideas which cannot apply in our experience, but which are sometimes wrongly held to apply to an intelligible world beyond the reach of our senses. Kant argues, for the most part, that such Ideas, which have in a way outgrown our experience, serve properly as heuristic fictions regulating our enquiries. To think that such concepts stand for noumenal objects in a world beyond our senses is an illusion; to make claims about such objects in such a world is to speak emptily; and to argue or dispute about such claims is futile.

It is easy to think, however, that in the Third Antimony (B 473- 474, B 556-586) Kant either contradicts or radically amends this account of dialectical Ideas and their purported objects. For it is in this argument that Kant seems finally to admit the existence of intelligible objects in a new and committal way. In this passage Kant tries to resolve a conflict between our theoretical or scientific

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