In the Preface to the Critique Kant observes that, although metaphysics is meant to be ‘the Queen of all the sciences’ (Aviii), reason in metaphysics ‘is perpetually being brought to a stand’ (Bxiv). Ever and again ‘we have to retrace our steps’ (Bxiv). The degree and quality of disagreement in metaphysics makes it a ‘battle-ground’, a site of ‘mock-combats’ in which ‘no participant has ever yet succeeded in gaining even so much as an inch of territory’ (Bxv). The result is that in the sphere of metaphysics we vacillate between dogmatism, skepticism and indifference. The peculiar instability of metaphysics stands in stark contrast to the security of mathematics and natural science, and leaves us with no choice but to conclude that metaphysics ‘has hitherto been a merely random groping’ (Bxv).
Against this background, Kant makes his famous announcement of a Copernican revolution in philosophy: ‘Hitherto it has been assumed that all our knowledge must conform to objects’, but since this