Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is highly regarded as the most key figure in the record of Modern Western Philosophy. This paper analyzes one of his major writings, The Critique of Pure Reason, in various sections. The concept of pure reason is to verify whether reason on its own can determine without the assistance of the senses as well as other faculties.  He provides us the philosophical foundations for the modern concept to the study of nature, by citing the large successes of others in the field of physics. According to Kant, individuals should not be passive observers of nature but should be dynamic and serious in verifying the questions that nature should answer. Individuals should settle on the type of answers they require and as a result experimentation will cause nature to disclose itself in ways that follow the fixed principles and laws that rule our understanding. Through this, they will gain knowledge about the physical phenomena that represent the appropriate subjects of scientific knowledge (Huemer 142).

In addition, Kant contends that reason has limits and because of its rational inability to surpass these limits, reason alone lacks the ability to decide particular questions by way of definitive empirical proof (Kant 467). In the case where reason attempts to surpass, it makes claim ahead of those we are able to emanate from the mixture of experience, experiment, and logical thinking. Kant exemplifies the limits of reason with his renowned antinomies, which comprise of vital scientific and moral questions. Definitely, Kant Critique of Pure Reason introduces his assessment of moral questions. Moreover, Kant was curious to query whether faith could be examined scientifically. His questions were based on whether God and the world qua were objects of physics and if so, with what outcomes; alternatively, if not, with what implications. In Overall, his argument is based on the premise that there is no definite knowledge concerning God, Freedom, and Immortality, because they are externally from the competence of pure reason’s function, that is, away from empirical justification. One of his intentions was to keep religion from speculative metaphysical arguments that are involved only since people prefer their conclusions. As a result, Kant attempts to end it in order to make room for faith (Radcliffe, McCarty, and Allhoff 208).

How Kant Wants to Place Reason on the Secure Path of Science

According to Immanuel Kant, it is difficult for reason to enter the secure path of science when it not only functions singly but with objects. Kant argues that any assumption beyond the bounds of empirical experience can never turn into knowledge. The reason is that knowledge is reliant on certain conditions which generate to be the limits of experience. These conditions are what the previous rationalists described as metaphysical principles. The legality of these principles is founded by an argument to depict that the possibility of a reasoned world of experience, whose existence is in use as evident, necessitates their applicability (the method of transcendental argument).  Kant claimed that metaphysicians were unsuccessful to secure results because they had wanted to attain objects (such as God and the soul) that could never be granted in experience. Kant’s strategy to securing the results was to “secure the path of a science” that could have focused itself only with objects of likely experience. The metaphysicians previously utilized transcendent metaphysics; however, Kant proposes that they should have given in to immanent metaphysics, whose principles pertain only in the world of experience. This prognosis was supported by Kant’s investigations into the states of synthetic, a priori knowledge. Kant deemed that the remarkable proposition of metaphysics were both synthetic.  As a result, he perceived the possibility of metaphysics as framed with the fundamental question of the Critique of Pure reason, “how are synthetic a priori judgments possible?”(Kant, Pluhar, and Kitcher 59). Kant’s response to this question denotes that a synthetic judgment is predictable to a priori when it only focuses on actual or possible objects of experience. He claims that his judgment should not be authenticated by experience, but it must have something experienceable for its focus issue. Abandoning such principles affects the concept of reason and makes it lack the premise required to create knowledge of the core world of, as Kant describes it, things-in-themselves. Failure to acknowledge the limits of reason leads to irrationality, the supposed antinomy of pure reason by which Kant wanted to show that reason freed from the bounds of experience could give actually sound proofs of differing metaphysical conclusions (Kant 514).

Compare and Contrast Kant’s Ideas of Reason (Science) and Metaphysics (Religion)

Metaphysics is the endeavor to reveal truths that cannot be ascertained empirically. Metaphysicians make impressive claims about the nature of reality rooted in pure reason alone, but these claims often clash with one another. In addition, Kant’s doubt is enhanced on the possibility of metaphysics due to Hume’s skepticism. Kant’s self-criticism of reason was targeted both at the position assumed by theoretical reason toward the metaphysical tradition and at the position of practical reason toward Christian doctrine. In comparison, philosophical thought emerge from transcendental self-reflection both as postmetaphysical and as post-Christian which does not signify unchristian thought.  Regarding his differentiation between the speculative and the transcendental uses of reason, Kant laid the foundation for postmetaphysical thinking, albeit he did not remove the expressions of a “metaphysics” or nature or of morals (Kant 514). Kant opposes the “presumptions of reason” in both reason (science) and metaphysics (religion). In the light of these, the critique of metaphysics holds its precedence over the critique of religion for the self-comprehension of philosophy.  With regards to metaphysics, Kant fights the false speculative impression of a reason that emerges not only from errors, to be precise, false statements, but from a more inherent illusion of reason pertaining to the process and extent of its own cognitive faculty.  Kant places limitations on the theoretical use of reason (metaphysics religion) and brings in the “secure path of science” to a philosophy that had formerly been groped around the battlefield of metaphysics (reason science). The destruction of metaphysics is meant to freely set an autonomous morality founded on pure practical reason. On the other hand, it aims toward the theoretical characteristic of philosophy itself. The separation of the sensible use of reason (science) from positive faith (metaphysics) has a different driving force. On the one hand, Kant’s aim is to bring the authority of reason and individual conscience to abide against a stringent ecclesiastical orthodoxy enforced by the Church that “regards the natural principles of morality as of secondary importance”. Alternatively, however, Kant also goes up against the progressive defeatism of unbelief, he wants to rescue the contents of faith and the religious assurances that can be justified within the bounds of reason single-handedly (Kant 515).

Human Nature Craves Predictability

Immanuel Kant argues in his Critique of Pure Reason that humans are in possession of certain pure categories of reason that operate unavoidably and universally whenever they think. Among these categories is the notion of causality by which we come to comprehend the connection between cause and effect.  Due to the manner in which our sense and our mind form and cover the world, we can never be acquainted with things in themselves but only the world as configured by our knowing process. The laws of nature function with the regularity that permits the sciences to concentrate on great predictability. Through this, individual human nature uses their intelligence to become useful agents in forming their own satisfactions and sharing their own difficulties. Human nature is good by nature but experience nevertheless, also shows that in a person there is an active inclination to crave what is unlawful, although he or she knows that it is unlawful.  This means that an inclination of evil rouses as predictably and as soon as a person commences to utilize his freedom, it consequently becomes innate. Thus, according to a person’s sensible character, the human being must also be judged to crave predictability (Sullivan 238).

Kant’s Limits Reason and Knowledge to Make Room for Faith

According to Kant, the human mind is unable to comprehend and unable to offer verifiable concept for consideration. The human reason is limited through experience and the nature of reason itself. According to Kant, science made progress since it continued within the bounds of reason. He seeks to discover the natural limitations of human reason and then to settle within those boundaries. Science deals with objects which were located in time and space; hence the human mind must confine itself to such phenomena. The mind cannot know the existence of God through reason and cannot determine whether the universe had a beginning or whether it always existed. He asserts that just in the same way the limits of our vision are always limited, our horizon always embraces only a small segment of the surface of the earth. Man’s limitation is from an empirical and geographical perspective. Our reason is limited empirically since our limits of our vision are not those of the earth but broadens beyond the horizon of the earth. Kant enhanced this viewpoint by organizing the data of mounting above empirical data and of coping realistically with the divine or transcendent. On the other hand, our reason is limited geographically since our vision is limited from the nature of the earth for the time being. Immanuel Kant found that he could hold on to his convictions about the need and universality of mathematics and physics only at the expense of changing all knowledge into a construct of human emotional response and reason.  Individual’s knowledge is real but is knowledge of appearances, not of reality when it is in itself. Theology was denied the position of knowledge. Within Kant’s system this was an advantage, since it meant that theology was not coping with the constructs of the human sense of knowing, that is, with appearances, as were mathematics and physics. Kant claimed that by restricting knowledge to appearances, he was making room for faith. He aimed at refuting possible knowledge of God with the intention of making room for practical faith. He accomplished this by pulling down the traditional rational proofs of God’s existence and by building up the moral bases of rational faith. Kant found out that reason was engaged in religious and moral knowledge but he realized that it was a different kind of reason than that maintained by the deists. In the light of these, Kant embarked to protect reason from itself and as a result protect religion with it. As he states it in his works “I have therefore found it obligatory to deny knowledge, with the aim of making room for faith” (Grenz 77).

Kant’s concept to this problem entailed two basic steps. The first entailed to what he called a “critique of pure reason,” theoretical or scientific reason, which provides us knowledge of the objects of our individual experience. Kant’s critique was anchored on leading the deists in the name of reason, and is typically explained in his efforts to set up the limits of knowledge. One of these limits is that we are not permitted to make the kinds of religious claims asserted by the deists with regards to scientific reason. He unraveled this dilemma by recognizing a second type of reason, which he described “practical” or moral reason. Moral reason is what provides us knowledge of our responsibilities toward others. Kant acknowledged morality as a basic element of human living. The assignment he set for himself was to unearth the basic situations, or assumptions that make morality possible. His inquiring into these issues caused him to affirm two basic assumptions: human freedom and the existence of God. For Kant, the entire idea of moral obligation made no logic unless human beings had freedom and God existed (Emmanuel 240).

Reason Should Only Occupy a Portion of Human Knowledge, so how does One Maximize what can be experienced and Known in this World?

Kant argues that reason should only occupy a portion of human knowledge since the latter is limited to appearances only and all the concepts which serve simply for recognizing the world of senses.  Further than that, there is only a void, a mysterious reality. Rationalist tradition argue that knowledge can be strongly anchored in reason, perhaps in the form of inborn ideas that are inbuilt in humanity, or originated ultimately from God. On the other hand, empiricist tradition claim that knowledge is anchored in sense-experience, that is, what we can see, hear, touch, smell, among others, rather than reason. In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant notably went beyond these two options by contending that neither reason nor sense by themselves could provide us knowledge about anything.  Instead, he argues that human knowledge is essentially conditioned or restricted by the grouping of our understanding, which takes account of the notion of causation and by our inability to experience anything outside the conditions of space and time. Thus for knowledge to be maximized, there has to be the convergence of concepts (groupings of the understanding) and spatio-temporally mediated experience. Since we dwell in a structured universe and certainly limited by our own senses and mental capacities, our knowledge and experience can thus be maximized by the categories impressed on our minds or the groupings of the understanding which include objective external condition as space and time (Kant 4).

Can One Use Empirical Judgments to bring Religion and Science together for a Common Goal?

The Critique of Pure Reason (1781), first introduces God as one of the three “ideas of reason” that constitute the proper subject matter of metaphysics.  Kant separates religion and science into the subjective and objective. However, the loss of a proof of God’s existence does not mean that science and religion cannot be combined for a common goal. Religion can pay a huge role in the evolution of theological understanding of the function of science and faith. In fact, Kant acknowledges that belief in a devised and regulated universe had provided motivation for scientific work. The motif of an underlying harmony between science and religion has sometimes resulted to stronger claim, that when both are properly comprehended, there cannot or necessitate to be a conflict at all. According to Kant, religion and science are neighbors involved in a creative conflict whereby one occupies a schism and must esteem the other’s rights, being cautious not to infringe on to the other area of “bounds of bare reason” (Osl 21).

While Kant recognized religion with a separate type of reason, he asserted the separation of religion and science. Evidently, through modernity, science was increasingly separating itself from religion as it reformed our understanding of the world in ways that were incompatible with older religious views. Kant’s move presented a formal structure and refined justification for the separation. It validated religion by giving it a rational grounding in a sense parallel to, if not similar to science. This paved the philosophical stage for the contemporary dialogue about the relationship between science and religion, a dialogue in which liberal theology continues to be deeply concerned (Osl 21). 

Order now

Related essays