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The Prolegomena, Section Thirty-one: The Second Part, Continued

25 September, 2015 - 17:11

And thus we have at last something definite to hold by in all metaphysical undertakings, which hitherto, bold enough, but always blind, have pursued all things without distinction. Dogmatic thinkers have never let it occur to them, that the goal of their endeavours should be extended such a short way from them, and even those most confident in their imagined common sense have started with conceptions and principles of mere Reason, legitimate and natural, it is true, but intended merely for use in experience, [in search of] spheres of knowledge, for which they neither knew nor could know of any definite boundaries, because they had neither reflected nor could reflect on the nature or even the possi- bility of any such pure understanding.

Many a naturalist of pure Reason (by which I understand he who ventures to decide in questions of metaphysics, without any science) might well profess that what has been here put forward with so much preparation, or if he will have it so, with tediously pedantic pomp, he has long ago not merely conjectured but known and penetrated, by the prophetic spirit of his common sense, namely, “that with all our Reason, we can never pass beyond the field of expe- riences.” But he must confess, notwithstanding, when questioned seriatimas to his principles of Reason, that amongst these there are many to be found not drawn from experience, and therefore valid, independently thereof, and apriori. How then, and on what grounds, will he hold the dogmatist and himself in limits, who use these conceptions and prin- ciples outside all possible experience, simply because they are recognised as independent of it? And even this adept of common sense, in spite of all his pretended, cheaply acquired, wisdom, is not proof against wandering, unobserved, beyond the objects of experience into the field of chimeras. He is, indeed, in the ordinary way, deeply enough involved therein, although by the use of popular language, by putting everything forward as probability, reasonable supposition or analogy, he gives some colour to his groundless assumptions.