The Critique of Judgement, by Immanuel Kant

Methodology of the Teleological Judgement.1

§ 79.

Whether teleology must be treated as if it belonged to the doctrine of nature

Every science must have its definite position in the encyclopaedia of all the sciences. If it is a philosophical science its position must be either in the theoretical or practical part. If again it has its place in the former of these, it must be either in the doctrine of nature, so far as it concerns that which can be an object of experience (in the doctrine of bodies, the doctrine of the soul, or the universal science of the world), or in the doctrine of God (the original ground of the world as the complex of all objects of experience).

Now the question is, what place is due to Teleology? Does it belong to Natural Science (properly so called) or to Theology? One of the two it must be; for no science belongs to the transition from one to the other, because this transition only marks the articulation or organisation of the system, and not a place in it.

That it does not belong to Theology as a part thereof, although it may be made of the most important use therein, is self-evident. For it has as its objects, natural productions, and their cause, and although it refers at the same time to the latter as to a ground lying outside of and beyond nature (a Divine Author), yet it does not do this for the determinant but only for the reflective Judgement in the consideration of nature (in order to guide our judgement on things in the world by means of such an Idea as a regulative principle, in conformity with the human Understanding).

But it appears to belong just as little to Natural Science, which needs determinant and not merely reflective principles in order to supply objective grounds for natural effects. In fact, nothing is gained for the theory of nature or the mechanical explanation of its phenomena by means of its effective causes, by considering them as connected according to the relation of purposes. The exhibition of the purposes of nature in its products, so far as they constitute a system according to teleological concepts, properly belongs only to a description of nature which is drawn up in accordance with a particular guiding thread. Here Reason, no doubt, accomplishes a noble work, instructive and practically purposive in many points of view; but it gives no information as to the origin and the inner possibility of these forms, which is the special business of theoretical Natural Science. Teleology, therefore, as science, belongs to no Doctrine, but only to Criticism; and to the criticism of a special cognitive faculty, viz. Judgement. But so far as it contains principles a priori, it can and must furnish the method by which nature must be judged according to the principle of final causes. Hence its Methodology has at least negative influence upon the procedure in theoretical Natural Science, and also upon the relation which this can have in Metaphysic to Theology as its propaedeutic.

1 [This is marked as an Appendix in the Second Edition.]

§ 80.

Of the necessary subordination of the mechanical to the teleological principle in the explanation of a thing as a natural purpose.

The privilege of aiming at a merely mechanical method of explanation of all natural products is in itself quite unlimited; but the faculty of attaining thereto is by the constitution of our Understanding, so far as it has to do with things as natural purposes, not only very much limited but also clearly bounded. For, according to a principle of the Judgement, by this process alone nothing can be accomplished towards an explanation of these things; and consequently the judgement upon such products must always be at the same time subordinated by us to a teleological principle.

It is therefore rational, even meritorious, to pursue natural mechanism, in respect of the explanation of natural products, so far as can be done with probability; and if we give up the attempt it is not because it is impossible in itself to meet in this path with the purposiveness of nature, but only because it is impossible for us as men. For there would be required for that an intuition other than sensuous, and a determinate knowledge of the intelligible substrate of nature from which a ground could be assigned for the mechanism of phenomena according to particular laws, which quite surpasses our faculties.

Hence if the naturalist would not waste his labour he must in judging of things, the concept of any of which is indubitably established as a natural purpose (organised beings), always lay down as basis an original organisation, which uses that very mechanism in order to produce fresh organised forms or to develop the existing ones into new shapes (which, however, always result from that purpose and conformably to it).

It is praiseworthy by the aid of comparative anatomy to go through the great creation of organised natures, in order to see whether there may not be in it something similar to a system and also in accordance with the principle of production. For otherwise we should have to be content with the mere principle of judgement (which gives no insight into their production) and, discouraged, to give up all claim to natural insight in this field. The agreement of so many genera of animals in a certain common schema, which appears to be fundamental not only in the structure of their bones but also in the disposition of their remaining parts — so that with an admirable simplicity of original outline, a great variety of species has been produced by the shortening of one member and the lengthening of another, the involution of this part and the evolution of that — allows a ray of hope, however faint, to penetrate into our minds, that here something may be accomplished by the aid of the principle of the mechanism of nature (without which there can be no natural science in general). This analogy of forms, which with all their differences seem to have been produced according to a common original type, strengthens our suspicions of an actual relationship between them in their production from a common parent, through the gradual approximation of one animal-genus to another — from those in which the principle of purposes seems to be best authenticated, i.e. from man, down to the polype, and again from this down to mosses and lichens, and finally to the lowest stage of nature noticeable by us, viz. to crude matter. And so the whole Technic of nature, which is so incomprehensible to us in organised beings that we believe ourselves compelled to think a different principle for it, seems to be derived from matter and its powers according to mechanical laws (like those by which it works in the formation of crystals).

Here it is permissible for the archaeologist of nature to derive from the surviving traces of its oldest revolutions, according to all its mechanism known or supposed by him, that great family of creatures (for so we must represent them if the said thoroughgoing relationship is to have any ground). He can suppose the bosom of mother earth, as she passed out of her chaotic state (like a great animal), to have given birth in the beginning to creatures of less purposive form, that these again gave birth to others which formed themselves with greater adaptation to their place of birth and their relations to each other; until this womb becoming torpid and ossified, limited its births to definite species not further modifiable, and the manifoldness remained as it was at the end of the operation of that fruitful formative power. — Only he must still in the end ascribe to this universal mother an organisation purposive in respect of all these creatures; otherwise it would not be possible to think the possibility of the purposive form of the products of the animal and vegetable kingdoms.1 He has then only pushed further back the ground of explanation and cannot pretend to have made the development of those two kingdoms independent of the condition of final causes.

Even as concerns the variation to which certain individuals of organised genera are accidentally subjected, if we find that the character so changed is hereditary and is taken up into the generative power, then we cannot pertinently judge the variation to be anything else than an occasional development of purposive capacities originally present in the species with a view to the preservation of the race. For in the complete inner purposiveness of an organised being, the generation of its like is closely bound up with the condition of taking nothing up into the generative power which does not belong, in such a system of purposes, to one of its undeveloped original capacities. Indeed, if we depart from this principle, we cannot know with certainty whether several parts of the form which is now apparent in a species have not a contingent and unpurposive origin; and the principle of Teleology, to judge nothing in an organised being as unpurposive which maintains it in its propagation, would be very unreliable in its application and would be valid solely for the original stock (of which we have no further knowledge).

Hume1 takes exception to those who find it requisite to assume for all such natural purposes a teleological principle of judgement, i.e. an architectonic Understanding. He says that it may fairly be asked: how is such an Understanding possible? How can the manifold faculties and properties that constitute the possibility of an Understanding, which has at the same time executive force, be found so purposively together in one Being? But this objection is without weight. For the whole difficulty which surrounds the question concerning the first production of a thing containing in itself purposes and only comprehensible by means of them, rests on the further question as to the unity of the ground of the combination in this product of the various elements [des Mannichfaltigen] which are external to one another. For if this ground be placed in the Understanding of a producing cause as simple substance, the question, so far as it is teleological, is sufficiently answered; but if the cause be sought merely in matter as an aggregate of many substances external to one another, the unity of the principle is quite wanting for the internally purposive form of its formation, and the autocracy of matter in productions which can only be conceived by our Understanding as purposes is a word without meaning.

Hence it comes to pass that those who seek a supreme ground of possibility for the objectively-purposive forms of matter, without attributing to it Understanding, either make the world-whole into a single all-embracing substance (Pantheism), or (which is only a more determinate explanation of the former) into a complex of many determinations inhering in a single simple substance (Spinozism); merely in order to satisfy that condition of all purposiveness — the unity of ground. Thus they do justice indeed to one condition of the problem, viz. the unity in the purposive combination, by means of the mere ontological concept of a simple substance; but they adduce nothing for the other condition, viz. the relation of this substance to its result as purpose, through which relation that ontological ground is to be more closely determined in respect of the question at issue. Hence they answer the whole question in no way. It remains absolutely unanswerable (for our Reason) if we do not represent that original ground of things, as simple substance; its property which has reference to the specific constitution of the forms of nature grounded thereon, viz. its purposive unity, as the property of an intelligent substance; and the relation of these forms to this intelligence (on account of the contingency which we ascribe to everything that we think possible only as a purpose) as that of causality.

1 We may call a hypothesis of this kind a daring venture of reason, and there may be few even of the most acute naturalists through whose head it has not sometimes passed. For it is not absurd, like that generatio aequivoca by which is understood the production of an organised being through the mechanics of crude unorganised matter. It would always remain generatio univoca in the most universal sense of the word, for it only considers one organic being as derived from another organic being, although from one which is specifically different; e.g. certain water-animals transform themselves gradually into marsh-animals and from these, after some generations, into land-animals. A priori, in the judgement of Reason alone, there is no contradiction here. Only experience gives no example of it; according to experience all generation that we know is generatio homonyma. This is not merely univoca in contrast to the generation out of unorganised material, but in the organisation the product is of like kind to that which produced it; and generatio heteronyma, so far as our empirical knowledge of nature extends, is nowhere found.

1 [It is probable that Kant alludes here to Hume’s Essay On a Providence and a Future State, § xi of the Inquiry. Hume argues that though the inference from an effect to an intelligent cause may be valid in the case of human contrivance, it is not legitimate to rise by a like argument to Supreme Intelligence. “In human nature there is a certain experienced coherence of designs and inclinations; so that when from any fact we have discovered one intention of any man, it may often be reasonable from experience to infer another, and draw a long chain of conclusions concerning his past or future conduct. But this method of reasoning can never have place with regard to a being so remote and incomprehensible, who bears much less analogy to any other being in the universe than the sun to a waxen taper, and who discovers himself only by some faint traces or outlines, beyond which we have no authority to ascribe to him any attribute or perfection.”]

§ 81.

Of the association of mechanism with the teleological principle in the explanation of a natural purpose as a natural product.

According to the preceding paragraphs the mechanism of nature alone does not enable us to think the possibility of an organised being; but (at least according to the constitution of our cognitive faculty) it must be originally subordinated to a cause working designedly. But, just as little is the mere teleological ground of such a being sufficient for considering it and judging it as a product of nature, if the mechanism of the latter be not associated with the former, like the instrument of a cause working designedly, to whose purposes nature is subordinated in its mechanical laws. The possibility of such a unification of two quite different kinds of causality — of nature in its universal conformity to law with an Idea which limits it to a particular form, for which it contains no ground in itself — is not comprehended by our Reason. It lies in the supersensible substrate of nature, of which we can determine nothing positively, except that it is the being in itself of which we merely know the phenomenon. But the principle, “all that we assume as belonging to this nature (phenomenon) and as its product, must be thought as connected therewith according to mechanical laws,” has none the less force, because without this kind of causality organised beings (as purposes of nature) would not be natural products.

Now if the teleological principle of the production of these beings be assumed (as is inevitable), we can place at the basis of the cause of their internally purposive form either Occasionalism or Pre-established Harmony. According to the former the Supreme Cause of the world would, conformably to its Idea, furnish immediately the organic formation on the occasion of every union of intermingling materials. According to the latter it would, in the original products of its wisdom, only have supplied the capacity by means of which an organic being produces another of like kind, and the species perpetually maintains itself; whilst the loss of individuals is continually replaced by that nature which at the same time works towards their destruction. If we assume the Occasionalism of the production of organised beings, all nature is quite lost, and with it all employment of Reason in judging of the possibility of such products; hence we may suppose that no one will adopt this system, who has anything to do with philosophy.

[The theory of] Pre-established Harmony may proceed in two different ways. It regards every organised being as generated by one of like kind, either as an educt or a product. The system which regards generations as mere educts is called the theory of individual preformation or the theory of evolution: that which regards them as products is entitled the system of epigenesis. This latter may also be entitled the system of generic preformation, because the productive faculty of the generator and consequently the specific form would be virtually performed according to the inner purposive capacities which are part of its stock. In correspondence with this the opposite theory of individual preformations would be better entitled the theory of involution.

The advocates of the theory of evolution, who remove every individual from the formative power of nature, in order to make it come immediately from the hand of the Creator, would, however, not venture to regard this as happening according to the hypothesis of Occasionalism. For according to this the copulation is a mere formality, à propos of which a supreme intelligent Cause of the world has concluded to form a fruit immediately by his hand, and only to leave to the mother its development and nourishment. They declare themselves for preformation; as if it were not all the same, whether a supernatural origin is assigned to these forms in the beginning or in the course of the world. On the contrary, a great number of supernatural arrangements would be spared by occasional creation, which would be requisite, in order that the embryo formed in the beginning of the world might not be injured throughout the long period of its development by the destructive powers of nature, and might keep itself unharmed; and there would also be requisite an incalculably greater number of such preformed beings than would ever be developed, and with them many creations would be made without need and without purpose. They would, however, be willing to leave at least something to nature, so as not to fall into a complete Hyperphysic which can dispense with all natural explanations. It is true, they hold so fast by their Hyperphysic that they find even in abortions (which it is quite impossible to take for purposes of nature) an admirable purposiveness; though it be only directed to the fact that an anatomist would take exception to it as a purposeless purposiveness, and would feel a disheartened wonder thereat. But the production of hybrids could absolutely not be accommodated with the system of preformation; and to the seeds of the male creature, to which they had attributed nothing but the mechanical property of serving as the first means of nourishment for the embryo, they must attribute in addition a purposive formative power, which in the case of the product of two creatures of the same genus they would concede to neither parent.

On the other hand, even if we do not recognise the great superiority which the theory of Epigenesis has over the former as regards the empirical grounds of its proof, still prior to proof Reason views this way of explanation with peculiar favour. For in respect of the things which we can only represent as possible originally according to the causality of purposes, at least as concerns their propagation, this theory regards nature as self-producing, not merely as self-evolving: and so with the least expenditure of the supernatural leaves to nature all that follows after the first beginning (though without determining anything about this first beginning by which Physic generally is thwarted, however it may essay its explanation by a chain of causes).

As regards this theory of Epigenesis, no one has contributed more either to its proof or to the establishment of the legitimate principles of its application — partly by the limitation of a too presumptuous employment of it — than Herr Hofr. Blumenbach.1 In all physical explanations of these formations he starts from organised matter. That crude matter should have originally formed itself according to mechanical laws, that life should have sprung from the nature of what is lifeless, that matter should have been able to dispose itself into the form of a self-maintaining purposiveness — this he rightly declares to be contradictory to Reason. But at the same time he leaves to natural mechanism under this to us indispensable principle of an original organisation, an undeterminable but yet unmistakeable element, in reference to which the faculty of matter in an organised body is called by him a formative impulse (in contrast to, and yet standing under the higher guidance and direction of, that merely mechanical formative power universally resident in matter).

1 [J. F. Blumenbach (1752–1840), a German naturalist and professor at Göttingen; the author of Institutiones Physiologicae (1787) and other works. An interesting account of him is given in Lever’s novel Adventures of Arthur O’Leary, ch. xix.]

§ 82.

Of the teleological system in the external relations of organised beings

By external purposiveness I mean that by which one thing of nature serves another as means to a purpose. Now things which have no internal purposiveness and which presuppose none for their possibility, e.g. earth, air, water, etc., may at the same time be very purposive externally, i.e. in relation to other beings. But these latter must be organised beings, i.e. natural purposes, for otherwise the former could not be judged as means to them. Thus water, air, and earth cannot be regarded as means to the raising of mountains, because mountains contain nothing in themselves that requires a ground of their possibility according to purposes, in reference to which therefore their cause can never be represented under the predicate of a means (as useful therefor).

External purposiveness is a quite different concept from that of internal purposiveness, which is bound up with the possibility of an object irrespective of its actuality being itself a purpose. We can ask about an organised being the question: What is it for? But we cannot easily ask this about things in which we recognise merely the working of nature’s mechanism. For in the former, as regards their internal possibility, we represent a causality according to purposes, a creative Understanding, and we refer this active faculty to its determining ground, viz. design. There is only one external purposiveness which is connected with the internal purposiveness of organisation, and yet serves in the external relation of a means to a purpose, without the question necessarily arising, as to what end this being so organised must have existed for. This is the organisation of both sexes in their mutual relation for the propagation of their kind; since here we can always ask, as in the case of an individual, why must such a pair exist? The answer is: This pair first constitutes an organising whole, though not an organised whole in a single body.

If we now ask, wherefore anything is, the answer is either: Its presence and its production have no reference at all to a cause working according to design, and so we always refer its origin to the mechanism of nature, or: There is somewhere a designed ground of its presence (as a contingent natural being). This thought we can hardly separate from the concept of an organised thing; for, since we must place at the basis of its internal possibility a causality of final causes and an Idea lying at the ground of this, we cannot think the existence of this product except as a purpose. For the represented effect, the representation of which is at the same time the determining ground of the intelligent cause working towards its production, is called a purpose. In this case therefore we can either say: The purpose of the existence of such a natural being is in itself; i.e. it is not merely a purpose but a final purpose, or: This is external to it in another natural being, i.e. it exists purposively not as a final purpose, but necessarily as a means.

But if we go through the whole of nature we find in it, as nature, no being which could make claim to the eminence of being the final purpose of creation; and we can even prove a priori that what might be for nature an ultimate purpose, according to all the thinkable determinations and properties wherewith one could endow it, could yet as a natural thing never be a final purpose.

If we consider the vegetable kingdom we might at first sight, on account of the immeasurable fertility with which it spreads itself almost on every soil, be led to take it for a mere product of that mechanism which nature displays in the formations of the mineral kingdom. But a more intimate knowledge of its indescribably wise organisation does not permit us to hold to this thought, but prompts the question: What are these things created for? If it is answered: For the animal kingdom, which is thereby nourished and has thus been able to spread over the earth in genera so various, then the further question comes: What are these plant-devouring animals for? The answer would be something like this: For beasts of prey, which can only be nourished by that which has life. Finally we have the question: What are these last, as well as the first-mentioned natural kingdoms, good for? For man, in reference to the manifold use which his Understanding teaches him to make of all these creatures. He is the ultimate purpose of creation here on earth, because he is the only being upon it who can form a concept of purposes, and who can by his Reason make out of an aggregate of purposively formed things a system of purposes.

We might also with the chevalier Linnaeus1 go the apparently opposite way and say: The herbivorous animals are there to moderate the luxurious growth of the vegetable kingdom, by which many of its species are choked. The carnivora are to set bounds to the voracity of the herbivora. Finally man, by his pursuit of these and his diminution of their numbers, preserves a certain equilibrium between the producing and the destructive powers of nature. And so man, although in a certain reference he might be esteemed a purpose, yet in another has only the rank of a means.

If an objective purposiveness in the variety of the genera of creatures and their external relations to one another, as purposively constructed beings, be made a principle, then it is conformable to Reason to conceive in these relations a certain organisation and a system of all natural kingdoms according to final causes. Only here experience seems flatly to contradict the maxims of Reason, especially as concerns an ultimate purpose of nature, which is indispensable for the possibility of such a system and which we can put nowhere else but in man. For regarding him as one of the many animal genera, nature has not in the least excepted him from its destructive or its productive powers, but has subjected everything to a mechanism thereof without any purpose.

The first thing that must be designedly prepared in an arrangement for a purposive complex of natural beings on the earth would be their place of habitation, the soil and the element on and in which they are to thrive. But a more exact knowledge of the constitution of this basis of all organic production indicates no other causes than those working quite undesignedly, causes which rather destroy than favour production, order, and purposes. Land and sea not only contain in themselves memorials of ancient mighty desolations which have confounded them and all creatures that are in them; but their whole structure, the strata of the one and the boundaries of the other, have quite the appearance of being the product of the wild and violent forces of a nature working in a state of chaos. Although the figure, the structure, and the slope of the land might seem to be purposively ordered for the reception of water from the air, for the welling up of streams between strata of different kinds (for many kinds of products), and for the course of rivers — yet a closer investigation shows that they are merely the effects of volcanic eruptions or of inundations of the ocean, as regards not only the first production of this figure, but, above all, its subsequent transformation, as well as the disappearance of its first organic productions.1 Now if the place of habitation of all these creatures, the soil (of the land) or the bosom (of the sea), indicates nothing but a quite undesigned mechanism of its production, how and with what right can we demand and maintain a different origin for these latter products? The closest examination, indeed (in Camper’s1 judgement), of the remains of the aforesaid devastations of nature seems to show that man was not comprehended in these revolutions; but yet he is so dependent on the remaining creatures that, if a universally directing mechanism of nature be admitted in the case of the others, he must also be regarded as comprehended under it; even though his Understanding (for the most part at least) has been able to deliver him from these devastations.

But this argument seems to prove more than was intended by it. It seems to prove not merely that man cannot be the ultimate purpose of nature, and that on the same grounds the aggregate of the organised things of nature on the earth cannot be a system of purposes; but also that the natural products formerly held to be natural purposes have no other origin than the mechanism of nature.

But in the solution given above of the Antinomy of the principles of the mechanical and teleological methods of production of organic beings of nature, we have seen that they are merely principles of the reflective Judgement in respect of nature as it produces forms in accordance with particular laws (for the systematic connexion of which we have no key). They do not determine the origin of these beings in themselves; but only say that we, by the constitution of our Understanding and our Reason, cannot conceive it in this kind of being except according to final causes. The greatest possible effort, even audacity, in the attempt to explain them mechanically is not only permitted, but we are invited to it by Reason; notwithstanding that we know from the subjective grounds of the particular species and limitations of our Understanding (not e.g. because the mechanism of production would contradict in itself an origin according to purposes) that we can never attain thereto. Finally, the compatibility of both ways of representing the possibility of nature may lie in the supersensible principle of nature (external to us, as well as in us); whilst the method of representation according to final causes may be only a subjective condition of the use of our Reason, when it not merely wishes to form a judgement upon objects as phenomena, but desires to refer these phenomena together with their principles to their supersensible substrate, in order to find certain laws of their unity possible, which it cannot represent to itself except through purposes (of which the Reason also has such as are supersensible).

1 [Carl von Linné (1707–1778), Knight of the Polar Star, the celebrated Swedish botanist.]

1 If the once adopted name Natural history is to continue for the description of nature, we may in contrast with art, give the title of Archaeology of nature to that which the former literally indicates, viz. a representation of the old condition of the earth, about which, although we cannot hope for certainty, we have good ground for conjecture. As sculptured stones, etc., belong to the province of art, so petrefactions belong to the archaeology of nature. And since work is actually being done in this [science] (under the name of the Theory of the Earth), constantly, although of course slowly, this name is not given to a merely imaginary investigation of nature, but to one to which nature itself leads and invites us.

1 [See p. 184 above.]

§ 83.

Of the ultimate purpose of nature as a teleological system

We have shown in the preceding that, though not for the determinant but for the reflective Judgement, we have sufficient cause for judging man to be, not merely like all organised beings a natural purpose, but also the ultimate purpose of nature here on earth; in reference to whom all other natural things constitute a system of purposes according to fundamental propositions of Reason. If now that must be found in man himself, which is to be furthered as a purpose by means of his connexion with nature, this purpose must either be of a kind that can be satisfied by nature in its beneficence; or it is the aptitude and skill for all kinds of purposes for which nature (external and internal) can be used by him. The first purpose of nature would be man’s happiness, the second his culture.

The concept of happiness is not one that man derives by abstraction from his instincts and so deduces from his animal nature; but it is a mere Idea of a state, that he wishes to make adequate to the Idea under merely empirical conditions (which is impossible). This Idea he projects in such different ways on account of the complication of his Understanding with Imagination and Sense, and changes so often, that nature, even if it were entirely subjected to his elective will, could receive absolutely no determinate, universal and fixed law, so as to harmonise with this vacillating concept and thus with the purpose which each man arbitrarily sets before himself. And even if we reduce this to the true natural wants as to which our race is thoroughly agreed, or on the other hand, raise ever so high man’s skill to accomplish his imagined purposes; yet, even thus, what man understands by happiness, and what is in fact his proper, ultimate, natural purpose (not purpose of freedom), would never be attained by him. For it is not his nature to rest and be contented with the possession and enjoyment of anything whatever. On the other side, too, there is something wanting. Nature has not taken him for her special darling and favoured him with benefit above all animals. Rather, in her destructive operations — plague, hunger, perils of waters, frost, assaults of other animals great and small, etc. — in these things has she spared him as little as any other animal. Further, the inconsistency of his own natural dispositions drives him into self-devised torments, and also reduces others of his own race to misery, by the oppression of lordship, the barbarism of war, and so forth; he, himself, as far as in him lies, works for the destruction of his own race; so that even with the most beneficent external nature, its purpose, if it were directed to the happiness of our species, would not be attained in an earthly system, because our nature is not susceptible of it. Man is then always only a link in the chain of natural purposes; a principle certainly in respect of many purposes, for which nature seems to have destined him in her disposition, and towards which he sets himself, but also a means for the maintenance of purposiveness in the mechanism of the remaining links. As the only being on earth which has an Understanding and, consequently, a faculty of setting arbitrary purposes before itself, he is certainly entitled to be the lord of nature; and if it be regarded as a teleological system he is, by his destination, the ultimate purpose of nature. But this is subject to the condition of his having an Understanding and the Will to give to it and to himself such a reference to purposes, as can be self-sufficient independently of nature, and, consequently, can be a final purpose; which, however, must not be sought in nature itself.

But in order to find out where in man we have to place that ultimate purpose of nature, we must seek out what nature can supply to prepare him for what he must do himself in order to be a final purpose, and we must separate it from all those purposes whose possibility depends upon things that one can expect only from nature. Of the latter kind is earthly happiness, by which is understood the complex of all man’s purposes possible through nature, whether external nature or man’s nature; i.e. the matter of all his earthly purposes, which, if he makes it his whole purpose, renders him incapable of positing his own existence as a final purpose, and being in harmony therewith. There remains therefore of all his purposes in nature only the formal subjective condition; viz. the aptitude of setting purposes in general before himself, and (independent of nature in his purposive determination) of using nature, conformably to the maxims of his free purposes in general, as a means. This nature can do in regard to the final purpose that lies outside it, and it therefore may be regarded as its ultimate purpose. The production of the aptitude of a rational being for arbitrary purposes in general (consequently in his freedom) is culture. Therefore, culture alone can be the ultimate purpose which we have cause for ascribing to nature in respect to the human race (not man’s earthly happiness or the fact that he is the chief instrument of instituting order and harmony in irrational nature external to himself).

But all culture is not adequate to this ultimate purpose of nature. The culture of skill is indeed the chief subjective condition of aptitude for furthering one’s purposes in general; but it is not adequate to furthering the will1 in the determination and choice of purposes, which yet essentially belongs to the whole extent of an aptitude for purposes. The latter condition of aptitude, which we might call the culture of training (discipline), is negative, and consists in the freeing of the will from the despotism of desires. By these, tied as we are to certain natural things, we are rendered incapable even of choosing, while we allow those impulses to serve as fetters, which Nature has given us as guiding threads that we should not neglect or violate the destination of our animal nature — we being all the time free enough to strain or relax, to extend or diminish them, according as the purposes of Reason require.

Skill cannot be developed in the human race except by means of inequality among men; for the great majority provide the necessities of life, as it were, mechanically, without requiring any art in particular, for the convenience and leisure of others who work at the less necessary elements of culture, science and art. In an oppressed condition they have hard work and little enjoyment, although much of the culture of the higher classes gradually spreads to them. Yet with the progress of this culture (the height of which is called luxury, reached when the propensity to what can be done without begins to be injurious to what is indispensable), their calamities increase equally in two directions, on the one hand through violence from without, on the other hand through internal discontent; but still this splendid misery is bound up with the development of the natural capacities of the human race, and the purpose of nature itself, although not our purpose, is thus attained. The formal condition under which nature can alone attain this its final design, is that arrangement of men’s relations to one another, by which lawful authority in a whole, which we call a civil community, is opposed to the abuse of their conflicting freedoms; only in this can the greatest development of natural capacities take place. For this also there would be requisite — if men were clever enough to find it out and wise enough to submit themselves voluntarily to its constraint — a cosmopolitan whole, i.e. a system of all states that are in danger of acting injuriously upon each other.1 Failing this, and with the obstacles which ambition, lust of dominion, and avarice, especially in those who have the authority in their hands, oppose even to the possibility of such a scheme, there is, inevitably, war (by which sometimes states subdivide and resolve themselves into smaller states, sometimes a state annexes other smaller states and strives to form a greater whole). Though war is an undesigned enterprise of men (stirred up by their unbridled passions), yet is it [perhaps]2 a deep-hidden and designed enterprise of supreme wisdom for preparing, if not for establishing, conformity to law amid the freedom of states, and with this a unity of a morally grounded system of those states. In spite of the dreadful afflictions with which it visits the human race, and the perhaps greater afflictions with which the constant preparation for it in time of peace oppresses them, yet is it (although the hope for a restful state of popular happiness is ever further off) a motive for developing all talents serviceable for culture, to the highest possible pitch.3

As concerns the discipline of the inclinations — for for which our natural capacity in regard of our destination as an animal race is quite purposive, but which render the development of humanity very difficult — there is manifest in respect of this second requirement for culture a purposive striving of nature to a cultivation which makes us receptive of higher purposes than nature itself can supply. We cannot strive against the preponderance of evil, which is poured out upon us by the refinement of taste pushed to idealisation, and even by the luxury of science as affording food for pride, through the insatiable number of inclinations thus aroused. But yet we cannot mistake the purpose of nature — ever aiming to win us away from the rudeness and violence of those inclinations (inclinations to enjoyment) which belong rather to our animality, and for the most part are opposed to the cultivation of our higher destiny, and to make way for the development of our humanity. The beautiful arts and the sciences which, by their universally-communicable pleasure, and by the polish and refinement of society, make man more civilised, if not morally better, win us in large measure from the tyranny of sense-propensions, and thus prepare men for a lordship, in which Reason alone shall have authority; whilst the evils with which we are visited, partly by nature, partly by the intolerant selfishness of men, summon, strengthen, and harden the powers of the soul not to submit to them, and so make us feel an aptitude for higher purposes, which lies hidden in us.1

1 [First Edition has freedom.]

1 [These views are set forth by Kant more fully in the essay Zum ewigen Frieden (1795).]

2 [Second Edition.]

3 [Cf. The Philosophical Theory of Religion, Part i., On the bad principle in Human Nature, III., where Kant remarks that although war “is not so incurably bad as the deadness of a universal monarchy . . . yet, as an ancient observed, it makes more bad men than it takes away.”]

1 The value of life for us, if it is estimated by that which we enjoy (by the natural purpose of the sum of all inclinations, i.e. happiness), is easy to decide. It sinks below zero; for who would be willing to enter upon life anew under the same conditions? who would do so even according to a new, self-chosen plan (yet in conformity with the course of nature), if it were merely directed to enjoyment? We have shown above what value life has in virtue of what it contains in itself, when lived in accordance with the purpose that nature has along with us, and which consists in what we do (not merely what we enjoy), in which, however, we are always but means towards an undetermined final purpose. There remains then nothing but the value which we ourselves give our life, through what we can not only do, but do purposively in such independence of nature that the existence of nature itself can only be a purpose under this condition.

§ 84.

Of the final purpose of the existence of a world, i.e. of creation itself

A final purpose is that purpose which needs no other as condition of its possibility.

If the mere mechanism of nature be assumed as the ground of explanation of its purposiveness, we cannot ask: what are things in the world there for? For according to such an idealistic system it is only the physical possibility of things (to think which as purposes would be mere subtlety without any Object) that is under discussion; whether we refer this form of things to chance or to blind necessity, in either case the question would be vain. If, however, we assume the purposive combination in the world to be real and to be [brought about] by a particular kind of causality, viz. that of a designedly-working cause, we cannot stop at the question: why have things of the world (organised beings) this or that form? why are they placed by nature in this or that relation to one another? But once an Understanding is thought that must be regarded as the cause of the possibility of such forms as are actually found in things, it must be also asked on objective grounds: Who could have determined this productive Understanding to an operation of this kind? This being is then the final purpose in reference to which such things are there.

I have said above that the final purpose is not a purpose which nature would be competent to bring about and to produce in conformity with its Idea, because it is unconditioned. For there is nothing in nature (regarded as a sensible being) for which the determining ground present in itself would not be always conditioned; and this holds not merely of external (material) nature, but also of internal (thinking) nature — it being of course understood that I only am considering that in myself which is nature. But a thing that is to exist necessarily, on account of its objective constitution, as the final purpose of an intelligent cause, must be of the kind that in the order of purposes it is dependent on no further condition than merely its Idea.

Now we have in the world only one kind of beings whose causality is teleological, i.e. is directed to purposes and is at the same time so constituted that the law according to which they have to determine purposes for themselves is represented as unconditioned and independent of natural conditions, and yet as in itself necessary. The being of this kind is man, but man considered as noumenon; the only natural being in which we can recognise, on the side of its peculiar constitution, a supersensible faculty (freedom) and also the law of causality, together with its Object, which this faculty may propose to itself as highest purpose (the highest good in the world).

Now of man (and so of every rational creature in the world) as a moral being it can no longer be asked: why (quem in finem) he exists? His existence involves the highest purpose to which, as far as is in his power, he can subject the whole of nature; contrary to which at least he cannot regard himself as subject to any influence of nature. — If now things of the world, as beings dependent in their existence, need a supreme cause acting according to purposes, man is the final purpose of creation; since without him the chain of mutually subordinated purposes would not be complete as regards its ground. Only in man, and only in him as subject of morality, do we meet with unconditioned legislation in respect of purposes, which therefore alone renders him capable of being a final purpose, to which the whole of nature is teleologically subordinated.1

1 It would be possible that the happiness of rational beings in the world should be a purpose of nature, and then also this would be its ultimate purpose. At least we cannot see a priori why nature should not be so ordered, because by means of its mechanism this effect would be certainly possible, at least so far as we see. But morality, with a causality according to purposes subordinated thereto, is absolutely impossible by means of natural causes; for the principle by which it determines to action is supersensible, and is therefore the only possible principle in the order of purposes that in respect of nature is absolutely unconditioned. Its subject consequently alone is qualified to be the final purpose of creation to which the whole of nature is subordinated. — Happiness, on the contrary, as has been shown in the preceding paragraphs by the testimony of experience, is not even a purpose of nature in respect of man in preference to other creatures; much less a final purpose of creation. Men may of course make it their ultimate subjective purpose. But if I ask, in reference to the final purpose of creation, why must men exist? then we are speaking of an objective supreme purpose, such as the highest Reason would require for creation. If we answer: These beings exist to afford objects for the benevolence of that Supreme Cause; then we contradict the condition to which the Reason of man subjects even his inmost wish for happiness (viz. the harmony with his own internal moral legislation). This proves that happiness can only be a conditioned purpose, and that it is only as a moral being that man can be the final purpose of creation; but that as concerns his state happiness is only connected with it as a consequence, according to the measure of his harmony with that purpose regarded as the purpose of his being.

§ 85.

Of Physico-theology

Physico-theology is the endeavour of Reason to infer the Supreme Cause of nature and its properties from the purposes of nature (which can only be empirically known). Moral theology (ethico-theology) would be the endeavour to infer that Cause and its properties from the moral purpose of rational beings in nature (which can be known a priori).

The former naturally precedes the latter. For if we wish to infer a World Cause teleologically from the things in the world, purposes of nature must first be given, for which we afterwards have to seek a final purpose, and for this the principle of the causality of this Supreme Cause.

Many investigations of nature can and must be conducted according to the teleological principle, without our having cause to inquire into the ground of the possibility of purposive working with which we meet in various products of nature. But if we wish to have a concept of this we have absolutely no further insight into it than the maxim of the reflective Judgement affords: viz. if only a single organic product of nature were given to us, by the constitution of our cognitive faculty we could think no other ground for it than that of a cause of nature itself (whether the whole of nature or only this bit of it) which contains the causality for it through Understanding. This principle of judging, though it does not bring us any further in the explanation of natural things and their origin, yet discloses to us an outlook over nature, by which perhaps we may be able to determine more closely the concept, otherwise so unfruitful, of an Original Being.

Now I say that Physico-theology, however far it may be pursued, can disclose to us nothing of a final purpose of creation; for it does not even extend to the question as to this. It can, it is true, justify the concept of an intelligent World Cause, as a subjective concept (only available for the constitution of our cognitive faculty) of the possibility of things that we can make intelligible to ourselves according to purposes; but it cannot determine this concept further, either in a theoretical or a practical point of view. Its endeavour does not come up to its design of being the basis of a Theology, but it always remains only a physical Teleology; because the purposive reference therein is and must be always considered only as conditioned in nature, and it consequently cannot inquire into the purpose for which nature itself exists (for which the ground must be sought outside nature) — notwithstanding that it is upon the determinate Idea of this that the determinate concept of that Supreme Intelligent World Cause, and the consequent possibility of a Theology, depend.

What the things in the world are mutually useful for; what good the manifold in a thing does for the thing; how we have ground to assume that nothing in the world is in vain, but that everything in nature is good for something — the condition being granted that certain things are to exist (as purposes), whence our Reason has in its power for the Judgement no other principle of the possibility of the Object, which it inevitably judges teleologically, than that of subordinating the mechanism of nature to the Architectonic of an intelligent Author of the world — all this the teleological consideration of the world supplies us with excellently and to our extreme admiration. But because the data, and so the principles, for determining that concept of an intelligent World Cause (as highest artist) are merely empirical, they do not enable us to infer any of its properties beyond those which experience reveals in its effects. Now experience, since it can never embrace collective nature as a system, must often (apparently) happen upon this concept (and by mutually conflicting grounds of proof); but it can never, even if we had the power of surveying empirically the whole system as far as it concerns mere nature, raise us above nature to the purpose of its existence, and so to the determinate concept of that supreme Intelligence.

If we lessen the problem with the solution of which Physico-theology has to do, its solution appears easy. If we reduce the concept of a Deity to that of an intelligent being thought by us, of which there may be one or more, which possesses many and very great properties, but not all the properties which are requisite for the foundation of a nature in harmony with the greatest possible purpose; or if we do not scruple in a theory to supply by arbitrary additions what is deficient in the grounds of proof, and so, where we have only ground for assuming much perfection (and what is “much” for us?), consider ourselves entitled to presuppose all possible perfection; thus indeed physical Teleology may make weighty claims to the distinction of being the basis of a Theology. But if we are desired to point out what impels and moreover authorises us to add these supplements, then we shall seek in vain for a ground of justification in the principles of the theoretical use of Reason, which is ever desirous in the explanation of an Object of experience to ascribe to it no more properties than those for which empirical data of possibility are to be found. On closer examination we should see that properly speaking an Idea of a Supreme Being, which rests on a quite different use of Reason (the practical use), lies in us fundamentally a priori, impelling us to supplement, by the concept of a Deity, the defective representation, supplied by a physical Teleology, of the original ground of the purposes in nature; and we should not falsely imagine that we had worked out this Idea, and with it a Theology by means of the theoretical use of Reason in the physical cognition of the world — much less that we had proved its reality.

One cannot blame the ancients much, if they thought of their gods as differing much from each other both as regards their faculties and as regards their designs and volitions, but yet thought of all of them, the Supreme One not excepted, as always limited after human fashion. For if they considered the arrangement and the course of things in nature, they certainly found ground enough for assuming something more than mechanism as its cause, and for conjecturing behind the machinery of this world designs of certain higher causes, which they could not think otherwise than superhuman. But because they met with good and evil, the purposive and the unpurposive, mingled together (at least as far as our insight goes), and could not permit themselves to assume nevertheless that wise and benevolent purposes of which they saw no proof lay hidden at bottom, on behalf of the arbitrary Idea of a supremely perfect original Author, their judgement upon the supreme World Cause could hardly have been other than it was, so long as they proceeded consistently according to maxims of the mere theoretical use of Reason. Others, who wished to be theologians as well as physicists, thought to find contentment for the Reason by providing for the absolute unity of the principle of natural things which Reason demands, the Idea of a Being of which as sole Substance the things would be all only inherent determinations. This Substance would not be Cause of the World by means of intelligence, but in it all the intelligences of the beings in the world would be comprised. This Being consequently would produce nothing according to purposes; but in it all things, on account of the unity of the subject of which they are mere determinations, must necessarily relate themselves purposively to one another, though without purpose and design. Thus they introduced the Idealism of final causes, by changing the unity (so difficult to explain) of a number of purposively combined substances, from being the unity of causal dependence on one Substance to be the unity of inherence in one. This system — which in the sequel, considered on the side of the inherent world beings, becomes Pantheism, and (later) on the side of the Subject subsisting by itself as Original Being, becomes Spinozism, — does not so much resolve as explain away into nothing the question of the first ground of the purposiveness of nature; because this latter concept, bereft of all reality, must be taken for a mere misinterpretation of a universal ontological concept of a thing in general.

Hence the concept of a Deity, which would be adequate for our teleological judging of nature, can never be derived from mere theoretical principles of the use of Reason (on which Physicotheology alone is based). For as one alternative we may explain all Teleology as a mere deception of the Judgement in its judging of the causal combination of things, and fly to the sole principle of a mere mechanism of nature, which merely seems to us, on account of the unity of the Substance of whose determinations nature is but the manifold, to contain a universal reference to purposes. Or if, instead of this Idealism of final causes, we wish to remain attached to the principle of the Realism of this particular kind of causality, we may set beneath natural purposes many intelligent original beings or only a single one. But so far as we have for the basis of this concept [of Realism] only empirical principles derived from the actual purposive combination in the world, we cannot on the one hand find any remedy for the discordance that nature presents in many examples in respect of unity of purpose; and on the other hand, as to the concept of a single intelligent Cause, so far as we are authorised by mere experience, we can never draw it therefrom in a manner sufficiently determined for any serviceable Theology whatever (whether theoretical or practical).

Physical Teleology impels us, it is true, to seek a Theology; but it cannot produce one, however far we may investigate nature by means of experience and, in reference to the purposive combination apparent in it, call in Ideas of Reason (which must be theoretical for physical problems). What is the use, one might well complain, of placing at the basis of all these arrangements a great Understanding incommensurable by us, and supposing it to govern the world according to design, if nature does not and cannot tell us anything of the final design? For without this we cannot refer all these natural purposes to any common point, nor can we form any teleological principle, sufficient either for cognising the purposes collected in a system, or for forming a concept of the Supreme Understanding, as Cause of such a nature, that could serve as a standard for our Judgement reflecting teleologically thereon. I should thus have an artistic Understanding for scattered purposes, but no Wisdom for a final purpose, in which final purpose nevertheless must be contained the determining ground of the said Understanding. But in the absence of a final purpose which pure Reason alone can supply (because all purposes in the world are empirically conditioned, and can contain nothing absolutely good but only what is good for this or that regarded as a contingent design), and which alone would teach me what properties, what degree, and what relation of the Supreme Cause to nature I have to think in order to judge of nature as a teleological system; how and with what right do I dare to extend at pleasure my very limited concept of that original Understanding (which I can base on my limited knowledge of the world), of the Might of that original Being in actualising its Ideas, and of its Will to do so, and complete this into the Idea of an Allwise, Infinite Being? If this is to be done theoretically, it would presuppose omniscience in me, in order to see into the purposes of nature in their whole connexion, and in addition the power of conceiving all possible plans, in comparison with which the present plan would be judged on [sufficient] grounds as the best. For without this complete knowledge of the effect I can arrive at no determinate concept of the Supreme Cause, which can only be found in the concept of an Intelligence infinite in every respect, i.e. the concept of a Deity, and so I can supply no foundation for Theology.

Hence, with every possible extension of physical Teleology, according to the propositions above laid down we may say: By the constitution and the principles of our cognitive faculty we can think of nature, in its purposive arrangements which have become known to us, in no other way than as the product of an Understanding to which it is subject. But the theoretical investigation of nature can never reveal to us whether this Understanding may not also, with the whole of nature and its production, have had a final design (which would not lie in the nature of the sensible world). On the contrary, with all our knowledge of nature it remains undecided whether that Supreme Cause is its original ground according to a final purpose, or not rather by means of an Understanding determined by the mere necessity of its nature to produce certain forms (according to the analogy of what we call the art instinct in animals); without it being necessary to ascribe to it even wisdom, much less the highest wisdom combined with all other properties requisite for the perfection of its product.

Hence Physico-theology is a misunderstood physical Teleology, only serviceable as a preparation (propaedeutic) for Theology; and it is only adequate to this design by the aid of a foreign principle on which it can rely, and not in itself, as its name would intimate.

§ 86.

Of Ethico-theology

The commonest Understanding, if it thinks over the presence of things in the world, and the existence of the world itself, cannot forbear from the judgement that all the various creatures, no matter how great the art displayed in their arrangement, and how various their purposive mutual connexion — even the complex of their numerous systems (which we incorrectly call worlds) — would be for nothing, if there were not also men (rational beings in general). Without men the whole creation would be a mere waste, in vain, and without final purpose. But it is not in reference to man’s cognitive faculty (theoretical Reason) that the being of everything else in the world gets its worth; he is not there merely that there may be some one to contemplate the world. For if the contemplation of the world only afforded a representation of things without any final purpose, no worth could accrue to its being from the mere fact that it is known; we must presuppose for it a final purpose, in reference to which its contemplation itself has worth. Again it is not in reference to the feeling of pleasure, or to the sum of pleasures, that we think a final purpose of creation as given; i.e. we do not estimate that absolute worth by well-being or by enjoyment (whether bodily or mental), or in a word, by happiness. For the fact that man, if he exists, takes this for his final design, gives us no concept as to why in general he should exist, and as to what worth he has in himself to make his existence pleasant. He must, therefore, be supposed to be the final purpose of creation, in order to have a rational ground for holding that nature must harmonise with his happiness, if it is considered as an absolute whole according to principles of purposes. — Hence there remains only the faculty of desire; not, however, that which makes man dependent (through sensuous impulses) upon nature, nor that in respect of which the worth of his being depends upon what he receives and enjoys. But the worth which he alone can give to himself, and which consists in what he does, how and according to what principles he acts, and that not as a link in nature’s chain but in the freedom of his faculty of desire — i.e. a good will — is that whereby alone his being can have an absolute worth, and in reference to which the being of the world can have a final purpose.

The commonest judgement of healthy human Reason completely accords with this, that it is only as a moral being that man can be a final purpose of creation; if we but direct men’s attention to the question and incite them to investigate it. What does it avail, one will say, that this man has so much talent, that he is so active therewith, and that he exerts thereby a useful influence over the community, thus having a great worth both in relation to his own happy condition and to the benefit of others, if he does not possess a good will? He is a contemptible Object considered in respect of his inner self; and if the creation is not to be without any final purpose at all, he, who as man belongs to it, must, in a world under moral laws, inasmuch as he is a bad man, forfeit his subjective purpose (happiness). This is the only condition under which his existence can accord with the final purpose.

If now we meet with purposive arrangements in the world and, as Reason inevitably requires, subordinate the purposes that are only conditioned to an unconditioned, supreme, i.e. final, purpose; then we easily see in the first place that we are thus concerned not with a purpose of nature (internal to itself), so far as it exists, but with the purpose of its existence along with all its ordinances, and, consequently, with the ultimate purpose of creation, and specially with the supreme condition under which can be posited a final purpose (i.e. the ground which determines a supreme Understanding to produce the beings of the world).

Since now it is only as a moral being that we recognise man as the purpose of creation, we have in the first place a ground (at least, the chief condition) for regarding the world as a whole connected according to purposes, and as a system of final causes. And, more especially, as regards the reference (necessary for us by the constitution of our Reason) of natural purposes to an intelligent World Cause, we have one principle enabling us to think the nature and properties of this First Cause as supreme ground in the kingdom of purposes, and to determine its concept. This physical Teleology could not do; it could only lead to indeterminate concepts thereof, unserviceable alike in theoretical and in practical use.

From the principle, thus determined, of the causality of the Original Being we must not think Him merely as Intelligence and as legislative for nature, but also as legislating supremely in a moral kingdom of purposes. In reference to the highest good, alone possible under His sovereignty, viz. the existence of rational beings under moral laws, we shall think this Original Being as all-knowing: thus our inmost dispositions (which constitute the proper moral worth of the actions of rational beings of the world) will not be hid from Him. We shall think Him as all-mighty: thus He will be able to make the whole of nature accord with this highest purpose. We shall think Him as all-good, and at the same time as just: because these two properties (which when united constitute Wisdom) are the conditions of the causality of a supreme Cause of the world, as highest good, under moral laws. So also all the other transcendental properties, such as Eternity, Omnipresence, etc. [for goodness and justice are moral properties1 ], which are presupposed in reference to such a final purpose, must be thought in Him. — In this way moral Teleology supplies the deficiency in physical Teleology, and first establishes a Theology; because the latter, if it did not borrow from the former without being observed, but were to proceed consistently, could only found a Demonology, which is incapable of any definite concept.

But the principle of the reference of the world to a supreme Cause, as Deity, on account of the moral purposive destination of certain beings in it, does not accomplish this by completing the physico-teleological ground of proof and so taking this necessarily as its basis. It is sufficient in itself and directs attention to the purposes of nature and the investigation of that incomprehensible great art lying hidden behind its forms, in order to confirm incidentally by means of natural purposes the Ideas that pure practical Reason furnishes. For the concept of beings of the world under moral laws is a principle (a priori) according to which man must of necessity judge himself. Further, if there is in general a World Cause acting designedly and directed towards a purpose, this moral relation must be just as necessarily the condition of the possibility of a creation, as that in accordance with physical laws (if, that is, this intelligent Cause has also a final purpose). This is regarded a priori by Reason as a necessary fundamental proposition for it in its teleological judging of the existence of things. It now only comes to this, whether we have sufficient ground for Reason (either speculative or practical) to ascribe to the supreme Cause, acting in accordance with purposes, a final purpose. For it may a priori be taken by us as certain that this, by the subjective constitution of our Reason and even of the Reason of other beings as far as we can think it, can be nothing else than man under moral laws: since otherwise the purposes of nature in the physical order could not be known a priori, especially as it can in no way be seen that nature could not exist without such purposes.

1 [Second Edition.]


Suppose the case of a man at the moment when his mind is disposed to a moral sensation. If surrounded by the beauties of nature, he is in a state of restful, serene enjoyment of his being, he feels a want, viz. to be grateful for this to some being or other. Or if another time he finds himself in the same state of mind when pressed by duties that he can and will only adequately discharge by a voluntary sacrifice, he again feels in himself a want, viz. to have thus executed a command and obeyed a Supreme Lord. Or, again; if he has in some heedless way transgressed his duty, but without becoming answerable to men, his severe self-reproach will speak to him with the voice of a judge to whom he has to give account. In a word, he needs a moral Intelligence, in order to have a Being for the purpose of his existence, which may be, conformably to this purpose, the cause of himself and of the world. It is vain to assign motives behind these feelings, for they are immediately connected with the purest moral sentiment, because gratitude, obedience, and humiliation (submission to deserved chastisement) are mental dispositions that make for duty; and the mind which is inclined towards a widening of its moral sentiment here only voluntarily conceives an object that is not in the world in order where possible to render its duty before such an one. It is therefore at least possible and grounded too in our moral disposition to represent a pure moral need of the existence of a Being, by which our morality gains strength or even (at least according to our representation) more scope, viz. a new object for its exercise. That is, [there is a need] to assume a morally-legislating Being outside the world, without any reference to theoretical proofs, still less to self-interest, from pure moral grounds free from all foreign influence (and consequently only subjective), on the mere recommendation of a pure practical Reason legislating by itself alone. And although such a mental disposition might seldom occur or might not last long, but be transient and without permanent effect, or might even pass away without any meditation on the object represented in such shadowy outline, or without care to bring it under clear concepts — there is yet here unmistakably the ground why our moral capacity, as a subjective principle, should not be contented in its contemplation of the world with its purposiveness by means of natural causes, but should ascribe to it a supreme Cause governing nature according to moral principles. — In addition, we feel ourselves constrained by the moral law to strive for a universal highest purpose which yet we, in common with the rest of nature, are incapable of attaining; and it is only so far as we strive for it that we can judge ourselves to be in harmony with the final purpose of an intelligent World Cause (if such there be). Thus is found a pure moral ground of practical Reason for assuming this Cause (since it can be done without contradiction), in order that we may no more regard that effort of Reason as quite idle, and so run the risk of abandoning it from weariness.

With all this, so much only is to be said, that though fear first produces gods (demons), it is Reason by means of its moral principles that can first produce the concept of God (even when, as commonly is the case, one is unskilled in the Teleology of nature, or is very doubtful on account of the difficulty of adjusting by a sufficiently established principle its mutually contradictory phenomena). Also, the inner moral purposive destination of man’s being supplies that in which natural knowledge is deficient, by directing us to think, for the final purpose of the being of all things (for which no other principle than an ethical one is satisfactory to Reason), the supreme Cause [as endowed] with properties, whereby it is able to subject the whole of nature to that single design (for which nature is merely the instrument) — i.e. to think it as a Deity.

§ 87.

Of the moral proof of the Being of God

There is a physical Teleology, which gives sufficient ground of proof to our theoretical reflective Judgement to assume the being of an intelligent World-Cause. But we find also in ourselves and still more in the concept of a rational being in general endowed with freedom (of his causality) a moral Teleology. However, as the purposive reference, together with its law, is determined a priori in ourselves and therefore can be cognised as necessary, this internal conformity to law requires no intelligent cause external to us; any more than we need look to a highest Understanding as the source of the purposiveness (for every possible exercise of art) that we find in the geometrical properties of figures. But this moral Teleology concerns us as beings of the world, and therefore as beings bound up with other things in the world; upon which latter, whether as purposes or as objects in respect of which we ourselves are final purpose, the same moral laws require us to pass judgement. This moral Teleology, then, has to do with the reference of our own causality to purposes and even to a final purpose that we must aim at in the world, as well as with the reciprocal reference of the world to that moral purpose, and the external possibility of its accomplishment (to which no physical Teleology can lead us). Hence the question necessarily arises, whether it compels our rational judgement to go beyond the world and seek an intelligent supreme principle for that reference of nature to the moral in us; in order to represent nature as purposive even in reference to our inner moral legislation and its possible accomplishment. There is therefore certainly a moral Teleology, which is connected on the one hand with the nomothetic of freedom and on the other with that of nature; just as necessarily as civil legislation is connected with the question where the executive authority is to be sought, and in general in every case [with the question] wherein Reason is to furnish a principle of the actuality of a certain regular order of things only possible according to Ideas. — We shall first set forth the progress of Reason from that moral Teleology and its reference to physical, to Theology; and then make some observations upon the possibility and the validity of this way of reasoning.

If we assume the being of certain things (or even only certain forms of things) to be contingent and so to be possible only through something else which is their cause, we may seek for the unconditioned ground of this causality of the supreme (and so of the conditioned) either in the physical or the teleological order (either according to the nexus effectivus or the nexus finalis). That is, we may either ask, what is the supreme productive cause of these things; or what is their supreme (absolutely unconditioned) purpose, i.e. the final purpose of that cause in its production of this or all its products generally? In the second case it is plainly presupposed that this cause is capable of representing purposes to itself, and consequently is an intelligent Being; at least it must be thought as acting in accordance with the laws of such a being.

If we follow the latter order, it is a Fundamental Proposition, to which even the commonest human Reason is compelled to give immediate assent, that if there is to be in general a final purpose furnished a priori by Reason, this can be no other than man (every rational being of the world) under moral laws.1 For (and so every one judges) if the world consisted of mere lifeless, or even in part of living but irrational, beings, its existence would have no worth because in it there would be no being who would have the least concept of what worth is. Again, if there were intelligent beings, whose Reason were only able to place the worth of the existence of things in the relation of nature to themselves (their well-being), but not to furnish of itself an original worth (in freedom), then there would certainly be (relative) purposes in the world, but no (absolute) final purpose, because the existence of such rational beings would be always purposeless. But the moral laws have this peculiar characteristic that they prescribe to Reason something as a purpose without any condition, and consequently exactly as the concept of a final purpose requires. The existence of a Reason that can be for itself the supreme law in the purposive reference, in other words the existence of rational beings under moral laws, can therefore alone be thought as the final purpose of the being of a world. If on the contrary this be not so, there would be either no purpose at all in the cause of its being, or there would be purposes, but no final purpose.

The moral law as the formal rational condition of the use of our freedom obliges us by itself alone, without depending on any purpose as material condition; but it nevertheless determines for us, and indeed a priori, a final purpose towards which it obliges us to strive; and this purpose is the highest good in the world possible through freedom.

The subjective condition under which man (and, according to all our concepts, every rational finite being) can set a final purpose before himself under the above law is happiness. Consequently, the highest physical good possible in the world, to be furthered as a final purpose as far as in us lies, is happiness, under the objective condition of the harmony of man with the law of morality as worthiness to be happy.

But it is impossible for us in accordance with all our rational faculties to represent these two requirements of the final purpose proposed to us by the moral law, as connected by merely natural causes, and yet as conformable to the Idea of that final purpose. Hence the concept of the practical necessity of such a purpose through the application of our powers does not harmonise with the theoretical concept of the physical possibility of working it out, if we connect with our freedom no other causality (as a means) than that of nature.

Consequently, we must assume a moral World-Cause (an Author of the world), in order to set before ourselves a final purpose consistently with the moral law; and in so far as the latter is necessary, so far (i.e. in the same degree and on the same ground) the former also must be necessarily assumed; i.e. we must admit that there is a God.1

This proof, to which we can easily give the form of logical precision, does not say: it is as necessary to assume the Being of God as to recognise the validity of the moral law; and consequently he who cannot convince himself of the first, can judge himself free from the obligations of the second. No! there must in such case only be given up the aiming at the final purpose in the world, to be brought about by the pursuit of the second (viz. a happiness of rational beings in harmony with the pursuit of moral laws, regarded as the highest good). Every rational being would yet have to cognise himself as straitly bound by the precepts of morality, for its laws are formal and command unconditionally without respect to purposes (as the matter of volition). But the one requisite of the final purpose, as practical Reason prescribes it to beings of the world, is an irresistible purpose imposed on them by their nature (as finite beings), which Reason wishes to know as subject only to the moral law as inviolable condition, or even as universally set up in accordance with it. Thus Reason takes for final purpose the furthering of happiness in harmony with morality. To further this so far as is in our power (i.e. in respect of happiness) is commanded us by the moral law; be the issue of this endeavour what it may. The fulfilling of duty consists in the form of the earnest will, not in the intermediate causes of success.

Suppose then that partly through the weakness of all the speculative arguments so highly extolled, and partly through many irregularities in nature and the world of sense which come before him, a man is persuaded of the proposition, There is no God; he would nevertheless be contemptible in his own eyes if on that account he were to imagine the laws of duty as empty, invalid and inobligatory, and wished to resolve to transgress them boldly. Such an one, even if he could be convinced in the sequel of that which he had doubted at the first, would always be contemptible while having such a disposition, although he should fulfil his duty as regards its [external] effect as punctiliously as could be desired, for [he would be acting] from fear or from the aim at recompense, without the sentiment of reverence for duty. If, conversely, as a believer [in God] he performs his duty according to his conscience, uprightly and disinterestedly, and nevertheless believes that he is free from all moral obligation so soon as he is convinced that there is no God, this could accord but badly with an inner moral disposition.

We may then suppose the case of a righteous man [e.g. Spinoza],1 who holds himself firmly persuaded that there is no God, and also (because in respect of the Object of morality a similar consequence results) no future life; how is he to judge of his own inner purposive destination, by means of the moral law, which he reveres in practice? He desires no advantage to himself from following it, either in this or another world; he wishes, rather, disinterestedly to establish the good to which that holy law directs all his powers. But his effort is bounded; and from nature, although he may expect here and there a contingent accordance, he can never expect a regular harmony agreeing according to constant rules (such as his maxims are and must be, internally), with the purpose that he yet feels himself obliged and impelled to accomplish. Deceit, violence, and envy will always surround him, although he himself be honest, peaceable, and kindly; and the righteous men with whom he meets will, notwithstanding all their worthiness of happiness, be yet subjected by nature which regards not this, to all the evils of want, disease, and untimely death, just like the beasts of the earth. So it will be until one wide grave engulfs them together (honest or not, it makes no difference), and throws them back — who were able to believe themselves the final purpose of creation — into the abyss of the purposeless chaos of matter from which they were drawn. — The purpose, then, which this well-intentioned person had and ought to have before him in his pursuit of moral laws, he must certainly give up as impossible. Or else, if he wishes to remain dependent upon the call of his moral internal destination, and not to weaken the respect with which the moral law immediately inspires him, by assuming the nothingness of the single, ideal, final purpose adequate to its high demand (which cannot be brought about without a violation of moral sentiment), he must, as he well can — since there is at least no contradiction from a practical point of view in forming a concept of the possibility of a morally prescribed final purpose — assume the being of a moral author of the world, that is, a God.

1 I say deliberately under moral laws. It is not man in accordance with moral laws, i.e. a being who behaves himself in conformity with them, who is the final purpose of creation. For by using the latter expression we should be asserting more than we know; viz. that it is in the power of an Author of the world to cause man always to behave himself in accordance with moral laws. But this presupposes a concept of freedom and of nature (of which latter we can only think an external author), which would imply an insight into the supersensible substrate of nature and its identity with that which causality through freedom makes possible in the world. And this far surpasses the insight of our Reason. Only of man under moral laws can we say, without transgressing the limits of our insight: his being constitutes the final purpose of the world. This harmonises completely with the judgement of human Reason reflecting morally upon the course of the world. We believe that we perceive in the case of the wicked the traces of a wise purposive reference, if we only see that the wanton criminal does not die before he has undergone the deserved punishment of his misdeeds. According to our concepts of free causality, our good or bad behaviour depends on ourselves; we regard it the highest wisdom in the government of the world to ordain for the first, opportunity, and for both, their consequence, in accordance with moral laws. In the latter properly consists the glory of God, which is hence not unsuitably described by theologians as the ultimate purpose of creation. — It is further to be remarked that when we use the word creation, we understand nothing more than we have said here, viz. the cause of the being of the world or of the things in it (substances). This is what the concept properly belonging to this word involves (actuatio substantiae est creatio); and consequently there is not implied in it the supposition of a freely working, and therefore intelligent, cause (whose being we first of all want to prove).

1 [Note added in Second Edition.] This moral argument does not supply any objectively-valid proof of the Being of God; it does not prove to the sceptic that there is a God, but proves that if he wishes to think in a way consonant with morality, he must admit the assumption of this proposition under the maxims of his practical Reason. — We should therefore not say: it is necessary for morals [Sittlichkeit], to assume the happiness of all rational beings of the world in proportion to their morality [Moralität]; but rather, this is necessitated by morality. Accordingly, this is a subjective argument sufficient for moral beings.

1 [Second Edition.]

§ 88.

Limitation of the validity of the moral proof

Pure Reason, as a practical faculty, i.e. as the faculty of determining the free use of our causality by Ideas (pure rational concepts), not only comprises in the moral law a regulative principle of our actions, but supplies us at the same time with a subjective constitutive principle in the concept of an Object which Reason alone can think, and which is to be actualised by our actions in the world according to that law. The Idea of a final purpose in the employment of freedom according to moral laws has therefore subjective practical reality. We are a priori determined by Reason to promote with all our powers the summum bonum [Weltbeste] which consists in the combination of the greatest welfare of rational beings with the highest condition of the good in itself, i.e. in universal happiness conjoined with morality most accordant to law. In this final purpose the possibility of one part, happiness, is empirically conditioned, i.e. dependent on the constitution of nature (which may or may not agree with this purpose) and is in a theoretical aspect problematical; whilst the other part, morality, in respect of which we are free from the effects of nature, stands fast a priori as to its possibility, and is dogmatically certain. It is then requisite for the objective theoretical reality of the concept of the final purpose of rational beings, that we should not only have a priori presupposed a final purpose for ourselves, but also that the creation, i.e. the world itself, should have as regards its existence a final purpose, which if it could be proved a priori would add objectivity to the subjective reality of the final purpose [of rational beings]. For if the creation has on the whole a final purpose, we cannot think it otherwise than as harmonising with the moral purpose (which alone makes the concept of a purpose possible). Now we find without doubt purposes in the world, and physical Teleology exhibits them in such abundance, that if we judge in accordance with Reason, we have ground for assuming as a principle in the investigation of nature that nothing in nature is without a purpose; but the final purpose of nature we seek there in vain. This can and must therefore, as its Idea only lies in Reason, be sought as regards its objective possibility only in rational beings. And the practical Reason of these latter not only supplies this final purpose; it also determines this concept in respect of the conditions under which alone a final purpose of creation can be thought by us.

The question is now, whether the objective reality of the concept of a final purpose of creation cannot be exhibited adequately to the theoretical requirements of pure Reason — if not apodictically for the determinant Judgement yet adequately for the maxims of the theoretical reflective Judgement? This is the least one could expect from theoretical philosophy, which undertakes to combine the moral purpose with natural purposes by means of the Idea of one single purpose; but yet this little is far more than it can accomplish.

According to the principle of the theoretical reflective Judgement we should say: if we have ground for assuming for the purposive products of nature a supreme Cause of nature — whose causality in respect of the actuality of creation is of a different kind from that required for the mechanism of nature, i.e. must be thought as the causality of an Understanding — we have also sufficient ground for thinking in this original Being not merely the purposes everywhere in nature but also a final purpose. This is not indeed a final purpose by which we can explain the presence of such a Being, but one of which we may at least convince ourselves (as was the case in physical Teleology) that we can make the possibility of such a world conceivable, not merely according to purposes, but only through the fact that we ascribe to its existence a final purpose.

But a final purpose is merely a concept of our practical Reason, and can be inferred from no data of experience for the theoretical judging of nature, nor can it be applied to the cognition of nature. No use of this concept is possible except its use for practical Reason according to moral laws; and the final purpose of creation is that constitution of the world which harmonises with that which alone we can put forward definitely according to laws, viz. the final purpose of our pure practical Reason, in so far as it is to be practical. — Now we have in the moral law, which enjoins on us in a practical point of view the application of our powers to the accomplishment of this final purpose, a ground for assuming its possibility and practicability, and consequently too (because without the concurrence of nature with a condition not in our power, its accomplishment would be impossible) a nature of things harmonious with it. Hence we have a moral ground for thinking in a world also a final purpose of creation.

We have not yet advanced from moral Teleology to a Theology, i.e. to the being of a moral Author of the world, but only to a final purpose of creation which is determined in this way. But in order to account for this creation, i.e. the existence of things, in accordance with a final purpose, we must assume not only first an intelligent Being (for the possibility of things of nature which we are compelled to judge of as purposes), but also a moral Being, as author of the world, i.e. a God. This second conclusion is of such a character that we see it holds merely for the Judgement according to concepts of practical Reason, and as such for the reflective and not the determinant Judgement. It is true that in us morally practical Reason is essentially different in its principles from technically practical Reason. But we cannot assume that it must be so likewise in the supreme World-Cause, regarded as Intelligence, and that a peculiar mode of its causality is requisite for the final purpose, different from that which is requisite merely for purposes of nature. We cannot therefore assume that in our final purpose we have not merely a moral ground for admitting a final purpose of creation (as an effect), but also for admitting a moral Being as the original ground of creation. But we may well say, that, according to the constitution of our rational faculty, we cannot comprehend the possibility of such a purposiveness in respect of the moral law, and its Object, as there is in this final purpose, apart from an Author and Governor of the world, who is at the same time its moral Lawgiver.

The actuality of a highest morally-legislating Author is therefore sufficiently established merely for the practical use of our Reason, without determining anything theoretically as regards its being. For Reason requires, in respect of the possibility of its purpose, which is given to us independently by its own legislation, an Idea through which the inability to follow up this purpose, according to the mere natural concepts of the world, is removed (sufficiently for the reflective Judgement). Thus this Idea gains practical reality, although all means of creating such for it in a theoretical point of view, for the explanation of nature and determination of the supreme Cause, are entirely wanting for speculative cognition. For the theoretical reflective Judgement physical Teleology sufficiently proves from the purposes of nature an intelligent World-Cause; for the practical Judgement moral Teleology establishes it by the concept of a final purpose, which it is forced to ascribe to creation in a practical point of view. The objective reality of the Idea of God, as moral Author of the world, cannot, it is true, be established by physical purposes alone. But nevertheless, if the cognition of these purposes is combined with that of the moral purpose, they are, by virtue of the maxim of pure Reason which bids us seek unity of principles so far as is possible, of great importance for the practical reality of that Idea, by bringing in the reality which it has for the Judgement in a theoretical point of view.

To prevent a misunderstanding which may easily arise, it is in the highest degree needful to remark that, in the first place, we can think these properties of the highest Being only according to analogy. How indeed could we explore the nature of that, to which experience can show us nothing similar? Secondly, in this way we only think the supreme Being; we cannot thereby cognise Him and ascribe anything theoretically to Him. It would be needful for the determinant Judgement in the speculative aspect of our Reason, to consider what the supreme World-Cause is in Himself. But here we are only concerned with the question what concept we can form of Him, according to the constitution of our cognitive faculties; and whether we have to assume His existence in order merely to furnish practical reality to a purpose, which pure Reason without any such presupposition enjoins upon us a priori to bring about with all our powers, i.e. in order to be able to think as possible a designed effect. Although that concept may be transcendent for the speculative Reason, and the properties which we ascribe to the Being thereby thought may, objectively used, conceal an anthropomorphism in themselves; yet the design of its use is not to determine the nature of that Being which is unattainable by us, but to determine ourselves and our will accordingly. We may call a cause after the concept which we have of its effect (though only in reference to this relation), without thereby meaning to determine internally its inner constitution, by means of the properties which can be made known to us solely by similar causes and must be given in experience. For example, amongst other properties we ascribe to the soul a vis locomotiva because bodily movements actually arise whose cause lies in the representation of them; without therefore meaning to ascribe to it the only mode [of action] that we know in moving forces (viz. by attraction, pressure, impulse, and consequently motion, which always presuppose an extended being). Just so we must assume something, which contains the ground of the possibility and practical reality, i.e. the practicability, of a necessary moral final purpose; but we can think of this, in accordance with the character of the effect expected of it, as a wise Being governing the world according to moral laws, and, conformably to the constitution of our cognitive faculties, as a cause of things distinct from nature, only in order to express the relation of this Being (which transcends all our cognitive faculties) to the Objects of our practical Reason. We do not pretend thus to ascribe to it theoretically the only causality of this kind known to us, viz. an Understanding and a Will: we do not even pretend to distinguish objectively the causality thought in this Being, as regards what is for us final purpose, from the causality thought in it as regards nature (and its purposive determinations in general). We can only assume this distinction as subjectively necessary by the constitution of our cognitive faculties, and as valid for the reflective, not for the objectively determinant Judgement. But if we come to practice, then such a regulative principle (of prudence or wisdom) [commanding us] to act conformably to that as purpose, which by the constitution of our cognitive faculties can only be thought as possible in a certain way, is at the same constitutive, i.e. practically determinant. Nevertheless, as a principle for judging of the objective possibility of things, it is no way theoretically determinant (i.e. it does not say that the only kind of possibility which belongs to the Object is that which belongs to our thinking faculty), but is a mere regulative principle for the reflective Judgement.


This moral proof is not one newly discovered, although perhaps its basis is newly set forth; since it has lain in man’s rational faculty from its earliest germ, and is only continually developed with its advancing cultivation. So soon as men begin to reflect upon right and wrong — at a time when, quite indifferent as to the purposiveness of nature, they avail themselves of it without thinking anything more of it than that it is the accustomed course of nature — this judgement is inevitable, viz. that the issue cannot be the same, whether a man has behaved candidly or falsely, fairly or violently, even though up to his life’s end, as far as can be seen, he has met with no happiness for his virtues, no punishment for his vices. It is as if they perceived a voice within [saying] that the issue must be different. And so there must lie hidden in them a representation, however obscure, of something after which they feel themselves bound to strive; with which such a result would not agree — with which, if they looked upon the course of the world as the only order of things, they could not harmonise that inner purposive determination of their minds. Now they might represent in various rude fashions the way in which such an irregularity could be adjusted (an irregularity which must be far more revolting to the human mind than the blind chance that we are sometimes willing to use as a principle for judging of nature). But they could never think any other principle of the possibility of the unification of nature with its inner ethical laws, than a supreme Cause governing the world according to moral laws; because a final purpose in them proposed as duty, and a nature without any final purpose beyond them in which that purpose might be actualised, would involve a contradiction. As to the [inner]1 constitution of that World-Cause they could contrive much nonsense. But that moral relation in the government of the world would remain always the same, which by the uncultivated Reason, considered as practical, is universally comprehensible, but with which the speculative Reason can make far from the like advance. — And in all probability attention would be directed first by this moral interest to the beauty and the purposes in nature, which would serve excellently to strengthen this Idea though they could not be the foundation of it. Still less could that moral interest be dispensed with, because it is only in reference to the final purpose that the investigation of the purposes of nature acquires that immediate interest which displays itself in such a great degree in the admiration of them without any reference to the advantage to be derived from them.

1 [Second Edition.]

§ 89.

Of the use of the moral argument

The limitation of Reason in respect of all our Ideas of the supersensible to the conditions of its practical employment has, as far as the Idea of God is concerned, undeniable uses. For it prevents Theology from rising into Theosophy (into transcendent concepts which confound Reason), or from sinking into Demonology (an anthropomorphic way of representing the highest Being). And it also prevents Religion from turning into Theurgy (a fanatical belief that we can have a feeling of other supersensible beings and can reciprocally influence them), or into Idolatry (a superstitious belief that we can please the Supreme Being by other means than by a moral sentiment).1

For if we permit the vanity or the presumption of sophistry to determine the least thing theoretically (in a way that extends our knowledge) in respect of what lies beyond the world of sense, or if we allow any pretence to be made of insight into the being and constitution of the nature of God, of His Understanding and Will, of the laws of both and of His properties which thus affect the world, I should like to know where and at what point we will bound these assumptions of Reason. For wherever such insight can be derived, there may yet more be expected (if we only strain our reflection, as we have a mind to do). Bounds must then be put to such claims according to a certain principle, and not merely because we find that all attempts of the sort have hitherto failed, for that proves nothing against the possibility of a better result. But here no principle is possible, except either to assume that in respect of the supersensible absolutely nothing can be theoretically determined (except mere negations); or else that our Reason contains in itself a yet unused mine of cognitions, reaching no one knows how far, stored up for ourselves and our posterity. — But as concerns Religion, i.e. morals in reference to God as legislator, if the theoretical cognition of Him is to come first, morals must be adjusted in accordance with Theology; and not only is an external arbitrary legislation of a Supreme Being introduced in place of an internal necessary legislation of Reason, but also whatever is defective in our insight into the nature of this Being must extend to ethical precepts, and thus make Religion immoral and perverted.

As regards the hope of a future life, if instead of the final purpose we have to accomplish in conformity with the precept of the moral law, we ask of our theoretical faculty of cognition a clue for the judgement of Reason upon our destination (which clue is only considered as necessary or worthy of acceptance in a practical reference), then in this aspect Psychology, like Theology, gives no more than a negative concept of our thinking being. That is, none of its actions or of the phenomena of the internal sense can be explained materialistically; and hence of its separate nature and of the continuance or non-continuance of its personality after death absolutely no ampliative determinant judgement is possible on speculative grounds by means of our whole theoretical cognitive faculty. Here then everything is handed over to the teleological judging of our existence in a practically necessary aspect, and to the assumption of our continuance as a condition requisite for the final purpose absolutely furnished by Reason. And so this advantage (which indeed at first glance seems to be a loss) is apparent; that, as Theology for us can never be Theosophy, or rational Psychology become Pneumatology — an ampliative science — so on the other hand this latter is assured of never falling into Materialism. Psychology, rather, is a mere anthropology of the internal sense, i.e. is the knowledge of our thinking self in life; and, as theoretical cognition, remains merely empirical. On the other hand, rational Psychology, as far as it is concerned with questions as to our eternal existence, is not a theoretical science at all, but rests on a single conclusion of moral Teleology; as also its whole use is necessary merely on account of the latter, i.e. on account of our practical destination.

1 In a practical sense that religion is always idolatry which conceives the Supreme Being with properties, according to which something else besides morality can be a fit condition for that which man can do being in accordance with His Will. For however pure and free from sensible images the concept that we have formed may be in a theoretical point of view, yet it will be in a practical point of view still represented as an idol, i.e. in regard to the character of His Will, anthropomorphically.

§ 90.

Of the kind of belief in a teleological proof of the Being of God

The first requisite for every proof, whether it be derived from the immediate empirical presentation (as in the proof from observation of the object or from experiment) of that which is to be proved, or by Reason a priori from principles, is this. It should not persuade, but convince,1 or at least should tend to conviction. I.e. the ground of proof or the conclusion should not be merely a subjective (aesthetical) determining ground of assent (mere illusion), but objectively valid and a logical ground of cognition; for otherwise the Understanding is ensnared, but not convinced. Such an illusory proof is that which, perhaps with good intent but yet with wilful concealment of its weaknesses, is adduced in Natural Theology. In this we bring in the great number of indications of the origin of natural things according to the principle of purposes, and take advantage of the merely subjective basis of human Reason, viz. its special propensity to think only one principle instead of several, whenever this can be done without contradiction; and, when in this principle only one or more requisites for determining a concept are furnished, to add in our thought these additional [features] so as to complete the concept of the thing by arbitrarily supplementing it. For, in truth, when we meet with so many products in nature which are to us marks of an intelligent cause, why should we not think One cause rather than many; and in this One, not merely great intelligence, power, etc., but rather Omniscience, and Omnipotence — in a word, think it as a Cause that contains the sufficient ground of such properties in all possible things? Further, why should we not ascribe to this unique, all-powerful, original Being not only intelligence for natural laws and products, but also, as to a moral Cause of the world, supreme, ethical, practical Reason? For by this completion of the concept a sufficient principle is furnished both for insight into nature and for moral wisdom; and no objection grounded in any way can be made against the possibility of such an Idea. If now at the same time the moral motives of the mind are aroused, and a lively interest in the latter is added by the force of eloquence (of which they are indeed very worthy), then there arises therefrom a persuasion of the objective adequacy of the proof; and also (in most cases of its use) a wholesome illusion which quite dispenses with all examination of its logical strictness, and even on the contrary regards this with abhorrence and dislike as if an impious doubt lay at its basis. — Now against this there is indeed nothing to say, so long as we only have regard to its popular usefulness. But then the division of the proof into the two dissimilar parts involved in the argument — belonging to physical and moral Teleology respectively — cannot and must not be prevented. For the blending of these makes it impossible to discern where the proper force of the proof lies, and in what part and how it must be elaborated in order that its validity may be able to stand the strictest examination (even if we should be compelled to admit in one part the weakness of our rational insight). Thus it is the duty of the philosopher (supposing even that he counts as nothing the claims of sincerity) to expose the above illusion, however wholesome it is, which such a confusion can produce; and to distinguish what merely belongs to persuasion from that which leads to conviction (for these are determinations of assent which differ not merely in degree but in kind), in order to present plainly the state of the mind in this proof in its whole clearness, and to be able to subject it frankly to the closest examination.

But a proof which is intended to convince, can again be of two kinds; either deciding what the object is in itself, or what it is for us (for men in general) according to our necessary rational principles of judgement (proof κατ’ ἀλήθειαν or κατ’ ἄνθρωπον, the last word being taken in its universal signification of man in general). In the first case it is based on adequate principles for the determinant Judgement, in the second for the reflective Judgement. In the latter case it can never, when resting on merely theoretical principles, tend to conviction; but if a practical principle of Reason (which is therefore universally and necessarily valid) lies at its basis, it may certainly lay claim to conviction adequate in a pure practical point of view, i.e. to moral conviction. But a proof tends to conviction, though without convincing, if it is [merely]1 brought on the way thereto; i.e. if it contains in itself only objective grounds, which although not attaining to certainty are yet of such a kind that they do not serve merely for persuasion as subjective grounds of the judgement.2

All theoretical grounds of proof resolve themselves either into: (1) Proofs by logically strict Syllogisms of Reason; or where this is not the case, (2) Conclusions according to analogy; or where this also has no place, (3) Probable opinion; or finally, which has the least weight, (4) Assumption of a merely possible ground of explanation, i.e. Hypothesis. — Now I say that all grounds of proof in general, which aim at theoretical conviction, can bring about no belief of this kind from the highest to the lowest degree, if there is to be proved the proposition of the existence of an original Being, as a God, in the signification adequate to the whole content of this concept; viz. a moral Author of the world, by whom the final purpose of creation is at the same time supplied.

(1.) As to the logically accurate proof proceeding from universal to particular, we have sufficiently established in the Critique the following: Since no intuition possible for us corresponds to the concept of a Being that is to be sought beyond nature — whose concept therefore, so far as it is to be theoretically determined by synthetical predicates, remains always problematical for us — there is absolutely no cognition of it to be had (by which the extent of our theoretical knowledge is in the least enlarged). The particular concept of a supersensible Being cannot be subsumed under the universal principles of the nature of things, in order to conclude from them to it, because those principles are valid simply for nature, as an object of sense.

(2.) We can indeed think one of two dissimilar things, even in the very point of their dissimilarity, in accordance with the analogy1 of the other; but we cannot, from that wherein they are dissimilar, conclude from the one to the other by analogy, i.e. transfer from the one to the other this sign of specific distinction. Thus I can, according to the analogy of the law of the equality of action and reaction in the mutual attraction and repulsion of bodies, also conceive of the association of the members of a commonwealth according to rules of right; but I cannot transfer to it those specific determinations (material attraction or repulsion), and ascribe them to the citizens in order to constitute a system called a state. — Just so we can indeed conceive of the causality of the original Being in respect of the things of the world, as natural purposes, according to the analogy of an Understanding, as ground of the forms of certain products which we call works of art (for this only takes place on behalf of the theoretical or practical use that we have to make by our cognitive faculty of this concept in respect of the natural things in the world according to a certain principle). But we can in no way conclude according to analogy, because in the case of beings of the world Understanding must be ascribed to the cause of an effect which is judged artificial, that in respect of nature the same causality which we perceive in men attaches also to the Being which is quite distinct from nature. For this concerns the very point of dissimilarity which is thought between a cause sensibly conditioned in respect of its effects and the supersensible original Being itself in our concept of it, and which therefore cannot be transferred from one to the other. — In the very fact that I must conceive the divine causality only according to the analogy of an Understanding (which faculty we know in no other being than in sensibly-conditioned man) lies the prohibition to ascribe to it this Understanding in its peculiar signification.1

(3.) Opinion finds in a priori judgements no place whatever, for by them we either cognise something as quite certain or else cognise nothing at all. But if the given grounds of proof from which we start (as here from the purposes in the world) are empirical, then we cannot even with their aid form any opinion as to anything beyond the world of sense, nor can we concede to such venturesome judgements the smallest claim to probability. For probability is part of a certainty possible in a certain series of grounds (its grounds compare with the sufficient ground as parts with a whole), the insufficient ground of which must be susceptible of completion. But since, as determining grounds of one and the same judgement, they must be of the same kind, for otherwise they would not together constitute a whole (such as certainty is), one part of them cannot lie within the bounds of possible experience and another outside all possible experience. Consequently, since merely empirical grounds of proof lead to nothing supersensible, and since what is lacking in the series of them cannot in any way be completed, we do not approach in the least nearer in our attempt to attain by their means to the supersensible and to a cognition thereof. Thus in any judgement about the latter by means of arguments derived from experience, probability has no place.

(4.) If an hypothesis is to serve for the explanation of the possibility of a given phenomenon, at least its possibility must be completely certain.1 It is sufficient that in an hypothesis I disclaim any cognition of actuality (which is claimed in an opinion given out as probable); more than this I cannot give up. The possibility of that which I place at the basis of my explanation, must at least be exposed to no doubt; otherwise there would be no end of empty chimeras. But to assume the possibility of a supersensible Being determined according to certain concepts would be a completely groundless supposition. For here none of the conditions requisite for cognition, as regards that in it which rests upon intuition, is given, and so the sole criterion of possibility remaining is the mere principle of Contradiction (which can only prove the possibility of the thought, not of the object thought).

The result then is this. For the existence [Dasein] of the original Being, as a Godhead, or of the soul as an immortal spirit, absolutely no proof in a theoretical point of view is possible for the human Reason, which can bring about even the least degree of belief. The ground of this is quite easy to comprehend. For determining our Ideas of the supersensible we have no material whatever, and we must derive this latter from things in the world of sense, which is absolutely inadequate for such an Object. Thus, in the absence of all determination of it, nothing remains but the concept of a non-sensible something which contains the ultimate ground of the world of sense, but which does not furnish any knowledge (any amplification of the concept) of its inner constitution.

1 [Cf. Introd. to Logic, ix. p. 63, “Conviction is opposed to Persuasion, which is a belief from inadequate reasons, of which we do not know whether they are only subjective or are also objective.”]

1 [Second Edition.]

2 [I.e. Urtheils. First Edition had Urtheilens, the judging subject.]

1 Analogy (in a qualitative signification) is the identity of the relation between reasons and consequences (causes and effects), so far as it is to be found, notwithstanding the specific difference of the things or those properties in them which contain the reason for like consequences (i.e. considered apart from this relation). Thus we conceive of the artificial constructions of beasts by comparing them with those of men; by comparing the ground of those effects brought about by the former, which we do not know, with the ground of similar effects brought about by men (reason), which we do know; i.e. we regard the ground of the former as an analogon of reason. We then try at the same time to show that the ground of the artisan faculty of beasts, which we call instinct, specifically different as it is in fact from reason, has yet a similar relation to its effect (the buildings of the beaver as compared with those of men). — But then I cannot therefore conclude that because man uses reason for his building, the beaver must have the like, and call this a conclusion according to analogy. But from the similarity of the mode of operation of beasts (of which we cannot immediately perceive the ground) to that of men (of which we are immediately conscious), we can quite rightly conclude according to analogy, that beasts too act in accordance with representations (not as Descartes has it, that they are machines), and that despite their specific distinction they are yet (as living beings) of the same genus as man. The principle of our right so to conclude consists in the sameness of the ground for reckoning beasts in respect of the said determination in the same genus with men, regarded as men, so far as we can externally compare them with one another in accordance with their actions. There is par ratio. Just so I can conceive, according to the analogy of an Understanding, the causality of the supreme World-Cause, by comparing its purposive products in the world with the artificial works of men; but I cannot conclude according to analogy to those properties in it [which are in man], because here the principle of the possibility of such a method of reasoning entirely fails, viz. the paritas rationis for counting the Supreme Being in one and the same genus with man (in respect of the causality of both). The causality of the beings of the world, which is always sensibly conditioned (as is causality through Understanding) cannot be transferred to a Being which has in common with them no generic concept save that of Thing in general.

1 We thus miss nothing in the representation of the relations of this Being to the world, as far as the consequences, theoretical or practical, of this concept are concerned. To wish to investigate what it is in itself, is a curiosity as purposeless as it is vain.

1 [Cf. Introd. to Logic, p. 76, where the conditions of a legitimate hypothesis are laid down. See also Critique of Pure Reason, Methodology, c. i. § 3 .]

§ 91.

Of the kind of belief produced by a practical faith

If we look merely to the way in which anything can be for us (according to the subjective constitution of our representative powers) an Object of knowledge (res cognoscibilis), then our concepts will not cohere with Objects, but merely with our cognitive faculties and the use which they can make of a given representation (in a theoretical or practical point of view). Thus the question whether anything is or is not a cognisable being is not a question concerning the possibility of things but of our knowledge of them.

Cognisable things are of three kinds: things of opinion (opinabile); things of fact (scibile); and things of faith (mere credibile).

(1.) Objects of mere rational Ideas, which for theoretical knowledge cannot be presented in any possible experience, are so far not cognisable things, and consequently in respect of them we can form no opinion; for to form an opinion a priori is absurd in itself and the straight road to mere chimeras. Either then our proposition is certain a priori or it contains nothing for belief. Therefore things of opinion are always Objects of an empirical cognition at least possible in itself (objects of the world of sense); but, which, on account merely of the [low] degree of this faculty that we possess, is for us impossible. Thus the ether of the new physicists,1 an elastic fluid pervading all other matter (mingled intimately with it) is a mere thing of opinion, yet is such that, if our external senses were sharpened to the highest degree, it could be perceived; though it can never be presented in any observation or experiment. To assume [the existence of] rational inhabitants of other planets is a thing of opinion; for if we could come closer to them, which is in itself possible, we should decide by experience whether they did or did not exist; but as we shall never come so near, it remains in the region of opinion. But to hold the opinion that there are in the material universe pure thinking spirits without bodies (viz. if we dismiss as unworthy of our notice certain phenomena which have been published as actual2 ) is to be called poetic fiction. This is no thing of opinion, but a mere Idea which remains over, when we remove from a thinking being everything material, and only leave thought to it. Whether then the latter (which we know only in man, that is, in combination with a body) does survive, we cannot decide. Such a thing is a sophistical being (ens rationis ratiocinantis), not a rational being (ens rationis ratiocinatae)1; of which latter it is possible to show conclusively, the objective reality of its concept; at least for the practical use of Reason, because this which has its peculiar and apodictically certain principles a priori, demands (postulates) it.

(2.) Objects for concepts, whose objective reality can be proved (whether through pure Reason or through experience, and, in the first case, from its theoretical or practical data, in all cases by means of a corresponding intuition) are things of fact (res facti).2 Of this kind are the mathematical properties of magnitudes (in geometry), because they are susceptible of a presentation a priori for the theoretical use of Reason. Further, things or their characteristics, which can be exhibited in experience (either our own or that of others through the medium of testimony) are likewise things of fact. — And, what is very remarkable, there is one rational Idea (susceptible in itself of no presentation in intuition, and consequently, of no theoretical proof of its possibility) which also comes under things of fact. This is the Idea of freedom, whose reality, regarded as that of a particular kind of causality (of which the concept, theoretically considered, would be transcendent), may be exhibited by means of practical laws of pure Reason, and conformably to this, in actual actions, and, consequently, in experience. — This is the only one of all the Ideas of pure Reason, whose object is a thing of fact, and to be reckoned under the scibilia.

(3.) Objects, which in reference to the use of pure practical Reason that is in conformity with duty must be thought a priori (whether as consequences or as grounds), but which are transcendent for its theoretical use, are mere things of faith. Of this kind is the highest good in the world, to be brought about by freedom.1 The concept of this cannot be established as regards its objective reality in any experience possible for us and thus adequately for the theoretical use of Reason; but its use is commanded by practical pure Reason [in reference to the best possible working out of that purpose],2 and it consequently must be assumed possible. This commanded effect, together with the only conditions of its possibility thinkable by us, viz. the Being of God and the immortality of the soul, are things of faith (res fidei), and of all objects are the only ones which can be so called.3 For though what we learn by testimony from the experience of others must be believed by us, yet it is not therefore a thing of faith; for it was the proper experience of some one witness and so a thing of fact, or is presupposed as such. Again it must be possible by this path (that of historical faith) to arrive at knowledge; and the Objects of history and geography, like everything in general which it is at least possible to know by the constitution of our cognitive faculties, belong not to things of faith but to things of fact. It is only objects of pure Reason which can be things of faith at all, though not as objects of the mere pure speculative Reason: for then they could not be reckoned with certainty among things, i.e. Objects of that cognition which is possible for us. They are Ideas, i.e. concepts of the objective reality of which we cannot theoretically be certain. On the other hand, the highest final purpose to be worked out by us, by which alone we can become worthy of being ourselves the final purpose of creation, is an Idea which has in a practical reference objective reality for us, and is also a thing. But because we cannot furnish such reality to this concept in a theoretical point of view, it is a mere thing of faith of the pure Reason, along with God and Immortality, as the conditions under which alone we, in accordance with the constitution of our (human) Reason, can conceive the possibility of that effect of the use of our freedom in conformity with law. But belief in things of faith is a belief in a pure practical point of view, i.e. a moral faith, which proves nothing for theoretical pure rational cognition, but only for that which is practical and directed to the fulfilment of its duties; it in no way extends speculation or the practical rules of prudence in accordance with the principle of self-love. If the supreme principle of all moral laws is a postulate, so is also the possibility of its highest Object; and consequently, too, the condition under which we can think this possibility is postulated along with it and by it. Thus the cognition of the latter is neither knowledge nor opinion of the being and character of these conditions, regarded as theoretical cognition; but is a mere assumption in a reference which is practical and commanded for the moral use of our Reason.

If we were able also plausibly to base upon the purposes of nature, which physical Teleology presents to us in such rich abundance, a determinate concept of an intelligent World-Cause, then the existence [Dasein] of this Being would not be a thing of faith. For since this would not be assumed on behalf of the performance of my duty, but only in reference to the explanation of nature, it would be merely the opinion and hypothesis most conformable to our Reason. Now such Teleology leads in no way to a determinate concept of God; on the contrary, this can only be found in the concept of a moral Author of the World, because this alone furnishes the final purpose to which we can only reckon ourselves [as attached] if we behave conformably to what the moral law prescribes as final purpose and consequently obliges us [to do]. Hence it is only by its reference to the Object of our duty, as the condition of the possibility of attaining the final purpose of the same, that the concept of God attains the privilege of counting as a thing of faith, in our belief; but on the other hand, this same concept cannot make its Object valid as a thing of fact. For, although the necessity of duty is very plain for practical Reason, yet the attainment of its final purpose, so far as it is not altogether in our own power, is only assumed on behalf of the practical use of Reason, and therefore is not so practically necessary as duty itself.1

Faith (as habitus, not as actus) is the moral attitude of Reason as to belief in that which is unattainable by theoretical cognition. It is therefore the constant principle of the mind, to assume as true, on account of the obligation in reference to it, that which it is necessary to presuppose as condition of the possibility of the highest moral final purpose2; although its possibility or impossibility be alike impossible for us to see into. Faith (absolutely so called) is trust in the attainment of a design, the promotion of which is a duty, but the possibility of the fulfilment of which (and consequently also that of the only conditions of it thinkable by us) is not to be comprehended by us. Faith, then, that refers to particular objects, which are not objects of possible knowledge or opinion (in which latter case it ought to be called, especially in historical matters, credulity and not faith), is quite moral. It is a free belief, not in that for which dogmatical proofs for the theoretically determinant Judgement are to be found, or in that to which we hold ourselves bound, but in that which we assume on behalf of a design in accordance with laws of freedom. This, however, is not, like opinion, without any adequate ground; but, is grounded as in Reason (although only in respect of its practical employment), and adequately for its design. For without this, the moral attitude of thought in its repudiation of the claim of the theoretical Reason for proofs (of the possibility of the Objects of morality) has no permanence; but wavers between practical commands and theoretical doubts. To be incredulous means to cling to maxims, and not to believe testimony in general; but he is unbelieving, who denies all validity to rational Ideas, because there is wanting a theoretical ground of their reality.1 He judges therefore dogmatically. A dogmatical unbelief cannot subsist together with a moral maxim dominant in the mental attitude (for Reason cannot command one to follow a purpose, which is cognised as nothing more than a chimera); but a doubtful faith can. To this the absence of conviction by grounds of speculative Reason is only a hindrance, the influence of which upon conduct a critical insight into the limits of this faculty can remove, while it substitutes by way of compensation a paramount practical belief.

If, in place of certain mistaken attempts, we wish to introduce a different principle into philosophy and to promote its influence, it makes us highly contented to see how and why those attempts must have disappointed us.

God, freedom, and immortality, are the problems at the solution of which all the equipments of Metaphysic aim, as their ultimate and unique purpose. Now it was believed that the doctrine of freedom is needed for practical philosophy only as its negative condition; but that on the other hand the doctrine of God and of the constitution of the soul, as belonging to theoretical philosophy, must be established for themselves and separately, in order afterwards to unite both with that which the moral law (possible only under the condition of freedom) commands, and so to constitute a religion. But we can easily see that these attempts must fail. For from mere ontological concepts of things in general, or of the existence of a necessary Being, it is possible to form absolutely no determinate concept of an original Being by means of predicates which can be given in experience and can therefore serve for cognition. Again a concept based on experience of the physical purposiveness of nature could furnish no adequate proof for morality, or consequently for cognition of a Deity. Just as little could the cognition of the soul by means of experience (which we only apply in this life) supply us with a concept of its spiritual immortal nature, a concept which would be adequate for morality. Theology and Pneumatology, regarded as problems of the sciences of a speculative Reason, can be established by no empirical data and predicates, because the concept of them is transcendent for our whole cognitive faculty. — The determination of both concepts, God and the soul (in respect of its immortality) alike, can only take place by means of predicates, which, although they are only possible from a supersensible ground, must yet prove their reality in experience; for thus alone can they make possible a cognition of a quite supersensible Being. — The only concept of this kind to be met with in human Reason is that of the freedom of men under moral laws, along with the final purpose which Reason prescribes by these laws. Of these two [the moral laws and the final purpose] the first are useful for ascribing to the Author of Nature, the second for ascribing to man, those properties which contain the necessary condition of the possibility of both [God and the soul]; so that from this Idea a conclusion can be drawn as to the existence and constitution of these beings which are otherwise quite hidden from us.

Thus the ground of the failure of the attempt to prove God and immortality by the merely theoretical path lies in this, that no cognition whatever is possible of the supersensible in this way (of natural concepts). The ground of its success by the moral way (of the concept of freedom) is as follows. Here the supersensible (freedom), which in this case is fundamental, by a determinate law of causality that springs from it, not only supplies material for cognition of other supersensibles (the moral final purpose and the conditions of its attainability), but also establishes its reality in actions as a fact; though at the same time it can furnish a valid ground of proof in no other than a practical point of view (the only one, however, of which Religion has need).

It is thus very remarkable that of the three pure rational Ideas, God, freedom, and immortality, that of freedom is the only concept of the supersensible which (by means of the causality that is thought in it) proves its objective reality in nature by means of the effects it can produce there; and thus renders possible the connexion of both the others with nature, and of all three together with Religion. We have therefore in us a principle capable of determining the Idea of the supersensible within us, and thus also that of the supersensible without us, for knowledge, although only in a practical point of view; a principle this of which mere speculative philosophy (which could give a merely negative concept of freedom) must despair. Consequently the concept of freedom (as fundamental concept of all unconditioned practical laws) can extend Reason beyond those bounds, within which every natural (theoretical) concept must remain hopelessly limited.

1 [This illustration is also given in the Logic (p. 57); where the three modi of belief, Opinion, Faith, and Knowledge, are distinguished from each other. Cf. Critique of Pure Reason, Methodology, c. ii. § 3 .]

2 [The speculations of Swedenborg seem to have always had a strange fascination for Kant. He says of two reported cases of Swedenborg’s clairvoyance that he knows not how to disprove them (Rosenkranz vii. 5); but in his Anthropology §§ 35, 37, he attacks Swedenborgianism as folly. So in an early essay, Dreams of a Visionary explained by Dreams of Metaphysics, he avows his scepticism as to the value of the information which “psychical research” can supply about the spirit-world, though he is careful not to commit himself to any dogmatic statement on the subject of ghosts. In the Critique of Pure Reason (when discussing the Postulates of Empirical Thought) he gives, as an instance of a concept inconsistent with the canons of possibility, “a power of being in a community of thought with other men, however distant from us.”]

1 [Cf. supra, p. 229.]

2 I here extend, correctly as it seems to me, the concept of a thing of fact beyond the usual signification of this word. For it is not needful, not even feasible, to limit this expression merely to actual experience, if we are talking of the relation of things to our cognitive faculties; for an experience merely possible is quite sufficient in order that we may speak of them merely as objects of a definite kind of cognition.

1 [Cf. Introduction to Logic, p. 59 note.]

2 [Second Edition.]

3 Things of faith are not therefore articles of faith; if we understand by the latter things of faith to the confession of which (internal or external) we can be bound. Natural theology contains nothing like this. For since they, as things of faith (like things of fact) cannot be based on theoretical proofs, [they are accepted by] a belief which is free and which only as such is compatible with the morality of the subject.

1 The final purpose which the moral law enjoins upon us to further, is not the ground of duty; since this lies in the moral law, which, as formal practical principle, leads categorically, independently of the Objects of the faculty of desire (the material of the will) and consequently of any purpose whatever. This formal characteristic of my actions (their subordination under the principle of universal validity), wherein alone consists their inner moral worth, is quite in our power; and I can quite well abstract from the possibility or the unattainableness of purposes which I am obliged to promote in conformity with that law (because in them consists only the external worth of my actions) as something which is never completely in my power, in order only to look to that which is of my doing. But then the design of promoting the final purpose of all rational beings (happiness so far as it is possible for it to be accordant with duty) is even yet prescribed by the law of duty. The speculative Reason, however, does not see at all the attainableness of this (neither on the side of our own physical faculty nor on that of the co-operation of nature). It must rather, so far as we can judge in a rational way, hold the derivation, by the aid of such causes, of such a consequence of our good conduct from mere nature (internal and external) without God and immortality, to be an ungrounded and vain, though well-meant, expectation; and if it could have complete certainty of this judgement, it would regard the moral law itself as the mere deception of our Reason in a practical aspect. But since the speculative Reason fully convinces itself that the latter can never take place, but that on the other hand those Ideas whose object lies outside nature can be thought without contradiction, it must for its own practical law and the problem prescribed thereby, and therefore in a moral aspect, recognise those Ideas as real in order not to come into contradiction with itself.

2 It is a trust in the promise of the moral law; [not however such as is contained in it, but such as I put into it and that on morally adequate grounds.3 ] For a final purpose cannot be commanded by any law of Reason without this latter at the same time promising, however uncertainly, its attainableness; and thus justifying our belief in the special conditions under which alone our Reason can think it as attainable. The word fides expresses this; and it can only appear doubtful, how this expression and this particular Idea came into moral philosophy, since it first was introduced with Christianity, and the adoption of it perhaps might seem to be only a flattering imitation of Christian terminology. But this is not the only case in which this wonderful religion with its great simplicity of statement has enriched philosophy with far more definite and purer concepts of morality, than it had been able to furnish before; but which, once they are there, are freely assented to by Reason and are assumed as concepts to which it could well have come of itself and which it could and should have introduced.

3 [Second Edition.]

1 [Cf. Introd. to Logic, ix. p. 60, “That man is morally unbelieving who does not accept that which though impossible to know is morally necessary to suppose.”]

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