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Section Three: Observation on the Universal Division of Judgments into Analytic and Synthetic

25 September, 2015 - 16:20

This division is in view of the Critique of human understanding indispensable, and deserves therefore to be classic in this department; though I am not aware of any other in which it has any important use. And here I also find the cause why dogmatic philosophers who looked for the sources of metaphysical judgments in metaphysics itself (rather than outside of it, in the laws of pure Reason in general), have always neglected this division, that seems so naturally to offer itself, and like the celebrated Wolff, or the acute Baumgarten, who followed in his steps, have sought the proof of the principle of sufficient reason, which is obviously synthetic, in that of contradiction. On the other hand, I can trace already in Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding a notion of this division. For in the third chapter of the fourth book, (Chapter Three, Section Nine, et seq.,) after he has spoken of the connection of different presentations in judgments, and of their sources, one of which he places in identity or contradiction (analytic judgments), and the other in the existence of presentations in a subject (synthetic judgments), he confesses (Section Ten) that our knowledge (a priori) of the last is very limited, amounting almost to nothing. But there is so little that is definite and reduced to rule in what he says respecting this kind of knowledge, that one cannot wonder that nobody, strange to say, not excepting hume, was induced thereby to institute investigations into the class of propositions in question. For universal yet definite principles like these, are not easily learnt from other men, to whom they have been only dimly discernible. One must, first of all, have come upon them through one’s own reflection, and one will then find them elsewhere, in places where otherwise they would certainly not have been discovered; since not even the authors knew that such an idea lay at the foundation of their own remarks. …