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Section Forty-five: Preliminary Observation on the Dialectic of pure Reason

29 September, 2015 - 12:48

We have above (Sections Section Thirty-three: The Second Part, Continued  and Section Thirty-four: The Second Part, Continued) shown, that the purity of the categories, from all admixture of sensuous determinations, may mislead Reason into extending its use entirely beyond the range of all experience, to things in themselves; for although they can find no intuition that could lend them meaning and sense inconcreto, yet as mere logical functions they may represent a thing in general, notwithstanding that, independently, they are unable to give a definite conception of anything whatever. Such hyperbolical objects are what are termed noumena, or pure essences of the Understanding (better essences of thought), as, for instance, substance, when considered as withoutper- manencein time, or a cause, which does not operateintime, &c., inasmuch as predicates are then attached to them, which serve merely to make the conformability of experience to law possible, and at the same time all the conditions of intu- ition—under which experience is alone possible—are taken away from them, whereby these conceptions lose all signif- icance. There is, however, no danger of the understanding of itself, unimpressed by laws foreign to it, branching out so rashly into the field of mere essences of thought. But when Reason, which cannot be completely satisfied with an empirical use of the rules of the understanding, requires the completion of this chain of conditions, the understanding is driven out of its own sphere, partly to present objects of experience in a series extended so far that no experience can grasp it, and partly (in order to complete this series) to search for noumena, wholly outside the same, to which it may attach the above chain, and thereby, being at last independent of experience, render its attitude once for all complete. These are the transcendental ideas, which, in accordance with the true but hidden ends of the natural determination of our Reason, are designed not for extravagant conceptions, but merely for the unlimited extension of empirical use; but which, however, by an unavoidable illusion seduce the understanding into a transcendentuse, that although deceitful, cannot be kept within the bounds of experience by any resolution, but can only be restrained within [due] limits with pains, and by means of scientific instruction.