Kant's Critique of Pure Reason
TRANSCENDENTAL LOGIC, SECOND DIVISION:
BOOK II: THE DIALECTICAL INFERENCES OF PURE REASON
Chapter III: THE IDEAL OF PURE REASON
Section 3: THE ARGUMENTS OF SPECULATIVE REASON IN PROOF OF THE EXISTENCE OF A SUPREME BEING (p. 495)
Section 4: THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF AN ONTOLOGICAL PROOF OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD (p. 500)
- We would not be persuaded that the primordial being is real (God) if we were not pushed to find the unconditioned.
- If we admit something exists, we must also admit there is something which exists necessarily.
- Reason looks around for a concept that is compatible with absolute necessity.
- It finds the primordial being which is the condition of all possibility. Where can we more suitably locate the ultimate causality than where there also exists the highest causality?
- But, it does not follow that a limited being is incompatible with absolute necessity, although we cannot infer its necessity from the universal concepts we have of it.
- Just as in the hypothetical syllogism we cannot say that where a certain condition does not hold, the conditioned also does not hold.
- Thus the argument fails.
- There are only three possible ways of proving the existence of God by means of speculative reason:
- Physico-theological: begins with determinate experience and ascends from it in accordance with the laws of causality to the supreme cause outside the world.
- Cosmological: begins from experience of existence in general.
- Ontological: abstracts from all experience, and argues completely a priori from mere concepts to the existence of a supreme cause.
Back to Section 2: The Transcendental Ideal
- Absolutely Necessary Being: something the non-existence of which is impossible.
- But this definition yields no insight into the conditions which make it necessary.
- These conditions are needed in order to determine whether, in resorting to this concept, we are thinking anything at all.
- All alleged examples are take from judgments, not things and their existence.
- i.e. Every geometrical proposition is absolutely necessary.
- The absolute necessity of the judgment is only a conditioned necessity of the thing, or of the predicate in the judgment. i.e. under the condition there is a triangle, we will necessarily find three angles in it.
- In an identical proposition, if I reject the predicate while retaining the subject, contradiction results, and I therefore say that the former belongs necessarily to the latter.
- But if I reject the subject and predicate alike there is no contradiction.
- 'God is omnipotent' is a necessary judgment. We cannot reject omnipotence if we posit a deity.
- But if we reject the deity there is no omnipotence or any other predicates given so there is no contradiction.
- The only way to avoid this is to argue there are subjects which cannot be removed.
- But this is saying there are absolutely necessary subjects which is what we are trying to prove.
- But the concept of the ens realissimum is one concept for which rejection of its object is in itself contradictory.
- It possesses all reality.
- We are justified in assuming that such a being is possible.
- So, it is argued, 'all reality' includes existence; existence is therefore contained in the concept of a thing that is possible.
- If this thing is rejected, the internal possibility of the thing is rejected which is self contradictory.
- However, there is already a contradiction in introducing the concept of existence into the concept of a thing we profess to be thinking solely in reference to its possibility.
- We must ask: Is the proposition 'this thing exists' analytic or synthetic?
- If analytic, the assertion of existence adds nothing, in which case the thought (which is in us) is the thing itself or we have presupposed an existence as belonging to the realm of the possible, then inferred its existence from its internal possibility which is a tautology.
- If synthetic, we cannot maintain the predicate of existence cannot be rejected without contradiction. This is a feature found only in analytic propositions.
- The illusion which is caused by the confusion of a logical with a real predicate is almost beyond correction.
- Logical Predicate: anything we please, even the subject itself.
- Real Predicate: a predicate which determines a thing. A predicate which is added to the concept of the subject and enlarges it.
- 'Being' is not a real predicate. Therefore, if we take the subject 'God' and say 'God is' we attach no new predicates.
- Whatever and however much our concept of an object may contain, we must go outside of it if we are to ascribe existence to the object.
- With objects of the senses this takes place through their connection with some one of our perceptions, in accordance with empirical laws.
- With objects of pure thought, we have no means of knowing their existence since it would have to be known in a completely a priori manner.
Forward to Section 5: The Impossibility of a Cosmological Proof of the Existence of God
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