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 5: THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF A COSMOLOGICAL PROOF OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD (p. 507)
Discovery and Explanation of the Dialectical Illusion in all Transcendental Proofs of the Existence of a Necessary Being (p. 514)
- The proof is as follows:
- If anything exists, an absolutely necessary being must also exist.
- I, at least, exist.
Therefore, an absolutely necessary being exists.
- The necessary being can be determined in one way only: by one out of each possible pair of opposed predicates.
- It must therefore be completely determined through its own concept.
- Now, there is only one possible concept which determines a thing completely a priori: ens realissimum.
Therefore the concept of ens realissimum is the only concept
through which a necessary being can be thought. In other words, a supreme being
- The cosmological proof retains the connection of absolute necessity with the highest reality, but instead of reasoning, like the ontological proof, from the highest reality to necessity of existence, it reasons from the previously given unconditioned necessity of some being to the unlimited reality of that being.
- The cosmological proof uses experience only for a single step in the argument. What properties this being may have, the empirical premiss cannot tell us.
- We are again presupposing that the concept of the highest reality is completely adequate to the concept of absolute necessity of existence. The same proposition used in the ontological proof.
- Does not address the fact that there may be other worlds containing other ens realissimum.
- There are a number of deceptive principles used in the proof:
- The transcendental principle whereby from the contingent we infer a cause. This principle only applies to the sensible world.
- The inference to a first cause from the impossibility of an infinite series of causes in the sensible world.
- The unjustified self-satisfaction of reason in respect of the completion of this series.
- The confusion between the logical possibility of a concept of all reality united into one and the transcendental possibility of such a reality.
Section 6: THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF A PHYSICO-THEOLOGICAL PROOF OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD (p. 518)
- If I am constrained to think something necessary as a condition of existing things, but am unable to think any particular thing as in itself necessary, in inevitably follows that necessity and contingency do not concern the things themselves, otherwise there would be no contradiction. They may be regarded as subjective principles of reason.
- One calls upon us to seek something necessary as a condition of all that is given as existent.
- The other forbids us ever to hope for this completion.
- The ideal of the supreme being is nothing but a regulative principle of reason which directs us to look upon all connection in the world as if it originated from an all-sufficient necessary cause. But the ideal is not an assertion of an existence necessary in itself.
- We proceed here just as we do in the case of space. Space is only a principle of sensibility, but since it is the primary source and condition of all shapes, it is taken as something absolutely necessary, existing in its own right, and as an object given a priori.
- In the same way, since the systematic unity of nature cannot be prescribed as a principle for the empirical employment of our reason, except in so far as we presuppose the idea of ens realissimum as the supreme cause, it is quite natural that this latter idea should be represented as an actual object, which, in its character of supreme condition, is also necessary - thus changing a regulative into a constitutive principle.
Back to Section 4: The Impossibility of an Ontological Proof of the Existence of God
- Argues from a determinate experience rather than existence in general or the concept of things is general.
- The argument is as follows:
- In the world we everywhere find clear signs of an order in accordance with a determinate purpose.
- This purposive order is quite alien to the things of the world and only belongs to them contingently, that is, they could not of themselves have co-operated to the fulfillment of determinate final purposes had they not been chosen and arranged by an ordering rationality.
- There exists, therefore, a cause which must be the cause of the world as intelligence through freedom.
- The unity of this cause may be inferred from the unity of the reciprocal relations existing between parts of the world, as members of an artfully arranged structure - inferred with such certainty in so far as our observation suffices for its verification in accordance with the principles of analogy.
- This argument can prove the contingency of the form, but not the substance in the world.
- To prove the latter we would have to show that the things in the world would not be capable of such order if they were not in their substance the product of supreme wisdom.
- The most the argument can show is an architect, not a creator.
- With the contingency of things as our sole premiss, we advance by means of transcendental concepts alone to the existence of an absolutely necessary being, and then from the concept of the absolute necessity of the first cause to the completely determinate concept of that necessary being.
- Thus the physico-theological proof rests in the cosmological proof and the cosmological on the ontological.
Forward to Section 7: Critique of all Theology Based Upon Speculative Principles of Reason
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