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apprehended, derived from experience, but arise out of the pure understanding. This deduction, which seemed impossible to my acute predecessor, and which nobody besides him had ever conceived, although every one makes use of these ideas, without asking himself upon what their objective validity is founded; this deduction, I say, was the most difficult which could have been undertaken for the behoof of metaphysics; and what was still more embarrassing, metaphysics could not here offer me the smallest assistance, because that deduction ought first to establish the possibility of a system of metaphysics. As I had now succeeded in the explanation of Hune's problem, not merely in a particular instance, but with a view of the whole power of pure reason, I could advance with sure though tedious steps, to determine completely, and upon general principles, the compass of Pure Reason, both what is the sphere of its exertion, and what are its limits; which was all that was required for erecting a system of metaphysics upon a proper and solid foundation."
It is difficult to discover any thing in the foregoing passage on which Kant could found a claim to the slightest originality. A variety of English writers had, long before this work appeared, replied to Mr. Hume, by observing, that the understanding is itself a source of new ideas, and that it is from this source that our notions of cause and effect are derived. 6. Our certainty," says Dr. Price, “ that every new event requires some cause, depends no more on experience, than our certainty of any other the most obvious subject of intuition. In the idea of every change, is included that of its being an effect.”* In the works of Dr. Reid, many remarks of the same nature are to be found ; but, instead of quoting any of these, I shall produce a passage from a much older author, whose mode of thinking and writing may perhaps be more agreeable to the taste of Kant's countrymen, than the simplicity and precision aimed at by the disciples of Locke.
* Review of the Principal Questions and Difficulties in Morals, chap. i. sect. 2. The first edition of this book was printed in 1753.
That there are some ideas of the mind,” says Dr. Cudworth, “ which were not stamped or imprinted upon it from the sensible objects without, and therefore must needs arise from the innate vigor and activity of the mind itself, is evident, in that there are, First, Ideas of such things as are neither affections of bodies, nor could be imprinted or conveyed by any local motions, nor can be pictured at all by the fancy in any sensible colors ; such as are the ideas of wisdom, folly, prudence, imprudence, knowledge, ignorance, verity, falsity, virtue, vice, honesty, dishonesty, justice, injustice, volition, cogitation, nay, of sense itself, which is a species of cogitation, and which is not perceptible by any sense; and many other such like notions as include something of cogitation in them, or refer to cogitative beings only; which ideas must need spring from the active power and innate fecundity of the mind itself,* because the corporeal objects of sense can imprint no such things upon it. Secondly, In that there are many relative notions and ideas, attributed as well to corporeal as incorporeal things, that proceed wholly from the activity of the mind comparing one thing with another. Such as are CAUSE, EFFECT, means, end, order, proportion, similitude, dissimilitude, equality, inequality, aptitude, inaptitude, symmetry, asymmetry, whole and part, genus and species, and the like.”—(İmmutable Morality, pp. 148, 149.)
It is not my business, at present, to inquire into the solidity of the doctrine here maintained. I would only wish to be informed what additions have been made by Kant to the reply given to Mr. Hume by our English philosophers, and to direct the attention of my readers to the close resemblance between this part of Kant's system, and the argument which Cudworth opposed to Kobbes and Gassendi considerably more than a century ago.*
* This is precisely the language of the German school: “Les vérités nécessaires," says Leibnitz, “ sont le produit immédiat de l'activité intérieure.” (Tome I. p. 686. Tome II. pp. 42, 325. See Dégérando, Hist. Comp. Tome II. p. 96.)
† In the attempt, indeed, which Kant has made to enumerate all the general ideas which are not derived from experience, but arise out of the pure understanding, he may well lay claim to the praise of originality. On this subject I shall only refer my readers to Note (R r) at the end of this Dissertation.
The following passage, from the writer last quoted, approaches so nearly to what Kant and other Germans have so often repeated of the distinction between subjective and objective truth, that I am tempted to connect it with the foregoing extract, as an additional proof that there are at least some metaphysical points, on which we need not search for instruction beyond our own island.
• If there were no other perceptive power or faculty distinct from external sense, all our perceptions would be merely relative, seeming, and fantastical, and not reach to the absolute and certain truth of any thing; and every one would but, as Protagoras expounds, think his own private and relative thoughts truths,' and all our cogitations being nothing but appearances, would be indifferently alike true phantasms, and one as another.
“ But we have since also demonstrated, that there is another perceptive power in the soul superior to outward sense, and of a distinct nature from it, which is the power of knowing or understanding, that is, an active exertion from the mind itself: And, therefore, has this grand eminence above sense, that it is no idiopathy, not a mere private, relative, seeming, and fantastical thing, but the comprehension of that which absolutely is and is not."*
After enlarging on the distinction between the sensitive faculty and the understanding, Kant proceeds to investigate certain essential conditions, without which neither the sensitive faculty nor its objects are conceivable.
These conditions are time and space, which, in the lan· guage of Kant, are the forms of all phenomena. What
his peculiar ideas are concerning their nature and attributes, my readers will find stated in his own words at the end of this Discourse, in an extract from one of his Latin publications.† From that extract, I cannot promise them much instruction ; but it will at least enable them to judge for themselves of the peculiar character of Kant's metaphysical phraseology. In the mean time, it will be sufficient to mention here, for the sake of connexion, that he denies the objective reality both of time
The former he considers merely as a
and of space.
| See Note (S s.)
* Immutable Morality, p. 264 et seq. VOL. VI.
subjective condition, inseparably connected with the frame of the human mind, in consequence of which, it arranges sensible phenomena acccording to a certain law, in the order of succession. As to the latter, he asserts, that it is nothing objective or real, inasmuch as it is neither a substance, nor an accident, nor a relation ; that its existence, therefore, is only subjective and ideal, depending on a fixed law, inseparable from the frame of the human mind. In consequence of this law, we are led to conceive all external things as placed in space; or (as Kant expresses it) we are led to consider space as the fundamental form of every external sensation.
In selecting Kant's speculations concerning time and space, as a specimen of his mode of writing, I was partly influenced by the consideration, that it furnishes, at the same time, a remarkable example of the concatenation which exists between the most remote and seemingly the most unconnected parts of his system. Who could suppose that his opinions on these subjects, the most abstract and the most controverted of any in the whole compass of metaphysics, bore on the great practical question of the freedom of the Human Will? The combination appears at first sight, so very extraordinary, that I have no doubt I shall gratify the curiosity of some of my readers by mentioning a few of the intermediate steps which, in this argument, lead from the premises to the conclusion.
That Kant conceived the free agency of man to be necessarily implied in his moral nature (or, at least, that he was anxious to offer no violence to the common language of the world on this point,) appears from his own explicit declarations in various parts of his works. 6 Voluntas libera, “ says he in one instance,” eadem est cum voluntate legibus moralibus obnoxiâ." *
In all the accounts of Kant's philosophy, which have yet appeared from the pens of his admirers in this country, particular stress is laid on the ingenuity with which he has unloosed this knot, which had baffled the wisdom of all his predecessors. The following are the words of one of his own pupils, to whom we are indebted for the first, and, I think, not the least intelligible, view of his principles which has been published in our language.
* See Born's Latin Translation of Kant's Works, relating to the Critical Philosophy, Vol. II. p. 325 et seq. See also the Preface to Vol. III.
“ Professor Kant is decidedly of opinion, that, although many strong and ingenious arguments have been brought forward in favor of the freedom of the will, they are yet very far from being decisive. Nor have they refuted the arguments urged by the Necessitarians, but by an appeal to mere feeling, which, on such a question, is of no avail. For this purpose, it is indispensably necessary to call to our assistance the principles of Kant.”
“ In treating this subject,” continues the same author, “ Kant begins with showing that the notion of a Free Will is not contradictory. In proof of this he observes, that, although every human action, as an event in time, must have a cause, and so on ad infinitum; yet it is certain, that the laws of cause and effect can have a place there only where time is, for the effect must be consequent on the cause.
But neither time nor space are properties of things; they are only the general forms under which man is allowed to view himself and the world. It follows, therefore, that man is not in time nor in space, although the forms of his intuitive ideas are time and space. But if man exist not in time and space, he is not influenced by the laws of time and space, among which those of cause and effect hold a distinguished rank; it is, therefore, no contradiction to conceive, that, in such an order of things, man may be free.” +
In this manner Kant establishes the possibility of man’3 freedom; and, farther than this, he does not conceive
* A General and Introductory View of Professor Kant's Principles concerning Man, the World, and the Deity, submitted to the consideration of the Learned, by F. A. Nitsch, late Lecturer on the Latin Language and Mathematics in the Royal Frederician College at Königsberg, and pupil of Professor Kant. London, 1796. pp. 172, 173.
This small performance is spoken of in terms highly favorable, by the other writers who have attempted to introduce Kant's philosophy into England. It is called by Dr. Willich an excellent publication (Elements of the Critical Philosophy, p. 62;) and is pronounced by the author of the elaborate articles on that subject in the Encyclopædia Londinensis to be a sterling work. “ Though at present very little known, I may venture,” says this writer, " to predict, that, as time rolls on, and prejudices moulder away, this work, like the Elements of Euclid, will stand forth as a lasting monument of PURE TRUTH.”—See Note (T t.)
† Nitsch, &c. pp. 174, 175.