Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism

By Dieter Henrich; David S. Pacini | Go to book overview

4
Freedom as the "Keystone"
to the Vault of Reason

I have been developing an account of the systematic form of Kant's first Critique and critical system, inasmuch as he never provided an explicit and full account of this structure. The reason for his silence about the structure of his system was his orientation toward metaphysics and the problem of its existence. Indeed, his original interest was solving this problem. We have seen that the justification of science, which many consider the main problem of Kant's philosophy, is only a part of this more general enterprise—namely, understanding what metaphysics is and why it cannot arrive at stable solutions to its own problems. The definition Kant gave of critical philosophy that also covers the justification of science is this: critical philosophy is the determination of the origin, the scope, and the limits of any possible a priori insight into objects.1 The "scope" refers to science and the "limits" refers to the problems of the existence of metaphysics. This kind of a rational insight is possible as far as science is possible—that means the anticipation of formal structures of empirical insight. A priori insight into objects that exceeds the boundaries of the possibility of experience is not possible. The determination of the origin of this insight a priori ends for Kant where the application ends, where the determination of the scope and the limits of a priori insight are accomplished. Any investigation into the origins of knowledge that is not necessary in order to determine its limits is wrongheaded and should be extirpated. That implies that we do not need to elaborate on any investigation into mental activity—into, for instance, the unifying activities that depend on the unity of self-consciousness—beyond its possible application to epistemology. 'Don't climb

1.1. Kant, KrV A57; English: CPR, pp. 196–197.

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