THE CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON

Looks like I am going to canter off into Kant for a while.

                         THE CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON

                                by Immanuel Kant

                       translated by J. M. D. Meiklejohn

            PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION, 1781

  Human reason, in one sphere of its cognition, is called upon to

consider questions, which it cannot decline, as they are presented

by its own nature, but which it cannot answer, as they transcend every

faculty of the mind.

  It falls into this difficulty without any fault of its own. It

begins with principles, which cannot be dispensed with in the field of

experience, and the truth and sufficiency of which are, at the same

time, insured by experience. With these principles it rises, in

obedience to the laws of its own nature, to ever higher and more

remote conditions. But it quickly discovers that, in this way, its

labours must remain ever incomplete, because new questions never cease

to present themselves; and thus it finds itself compelled to have

recourse to principles which transcend the region of experience, while

they are regarded by common sense without distrust. It thus falls into

confusion and contradictions, from which it conjectures the presence

of latent errors, which, however, it is unable to discover, because

the principles it employs, transcending the limits of experience,

cannot be tested by that criterion. The arena of these endless

contests is called Metaphysic.

  Time was, when she was the queen of all the sciences; and, if we

take the will for the deed, she certainly deserves, so far as

regards the high importance of her object-matter, this title of

honour. Now, it is the fashion of the time to heap contempt and

scorn upon her; and the matron mourns, forlorn and forsaken, like

Hecuba:

                  Modo maxima rerum,

                Tot generis, natisque potens…

                Nunc trahor exul, inops.*

  *Ovid, Metamorphoses. [xiii, “But late on the pinnacle of fame,

strong in my many sons. now exiled, penniless.”]

  At first, her government, under the administration of the

dogmatists, was an absolute despotism. But, as the legislative

continued to show traces of the ancient barbaric rule, her empire

gradually broke up, and intestine wars introduced the reign of

anarchy; while the sceptics, like nomadic tribes, who hate a permanent

habitation and settled mode of living, attacked from time to time

those who had organized themselves into civil communities. But their

number was, very happily, small; and thus they could not entirely

put a stop to the exertions of those who persisted in raising new

edifices, although on no settled or uniform plan. In recent times

the hope dawned upon us of seeing those disputes settled, and the

legitimacy of her claims established by a kind of physiology of the

human understanding- that of the celebrated Locke. But it was found

that- although it was affirmed that this so-called queen could not

refer her descent to any higher source than that of common experience,

a circumstance which necessarily brought suspicion on her claims- as

this genealogy was incorrect, she persisted in the advancement of

her claims to sovereignty. Thus metaphysics necessarily fell back into

the antiquated and rotten constitution of dogmatism, and again

became obnoxious to the contempt from which efforts had been made to

save it. At present, as all methods, according to the general

persuasion, have been tried in vain, there reigns nought but weariness

and complete indifferentism- the mother of chaos and night in the

scientific world, but at the same time the source of, or at least

the prelude to, the re-creation and reinstallation of a science,

when it has fallen into confusion, obscurity, and disuse from ill

directed effort.

  For it is in reality vain to profess indifference in regard to

such inquiries, the object of which cannot be indifferent to humanity.

Besides, these pretended indifferentists, however much they may try to

disguise themselves by the assumption of a popular style and by

changes on the language of the schools, unavoidably fall into

metaphysical declarations and propositions, which they profess to

regard with so much contempt. At the same time, this indifference,

which has arisen in the world of science, and which relates to that

kind of knowledge which we should wish to see destroyed the last, is a

phenomenon that well deserves our attention and reflection. It is

plainly not the effect of the levity, but of the matured judgement* of

the age, which refuses to be any longer entertained with illusory

knowledge, It is, in fact, a call to reason, again to undertake the

most laborious of all tasks- that of self-examination- and to

establish a tribunal, which may secure it in its well-grounded claims,

while it pronounces against all baseless assumptions and

pretensions, not in an arbitrary manner, but according to its own

eternal and unchangeable laws. This tribunal is nothing less than

the critical investigation of pure reason.

  *We very often hear complaints of the shallowness of the present

age, and of the decay of profound science. But I do not think that

those which rest upon a secure foundation, such as mathematics,

physical science, etc., in the least deserve this reproach, but that

they rather maintain their ancient fame, and in the latter case,

indeed, far surpass it. The same would be the case with the other

kinds of cognition, if their principles were but firmly established.

In the absence of this security, indifference, doubt, and finally,

severe criticism are rather signs of a profound habit of thought.

Our age is the age of criticism, to which everything must be

subjected. The sacredness of religion, and the authority of

legislation, are by many regarded as grounds of exemption from the

examination of this tribunal. But, if they on they are exempted,

they become the subjects of just suspicion, and cannot lay claim to

sincere respect, which reason accords only to that which has stood the

test of a free and public examination.

  I do not mean by this a criticism of books and systems, but a

critical inquiry into the faculty of reason, with reference to the

cognitions to which it strives to attain without the aid of

experience; in other words, the solution of the question regarding the

possibility or impossibility of metaphysics, and the determination

of the origin, as well as of the extent and limits of this science.

All this must be done on the basis of principles.