Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) Salomon Maimon (1753/4 - 1800)
AN TEANNAS EADAR IDÈAL AN T-SAIDHEINS AGUS IDÈAL NA PEARSANTACHD ANN AN FEALLSANACHD-IONANNACHD AN IDÈALACHAIS-SHAORSA IAR-KANTAICH.
§ 1 - ÙINE EADAR IDÈALACHAS CRITIGEACH AGUS IDÈALACHAS-SAORSA MONACH. BHO MHAIMON GU FICHTE.
THE TENSION BETWEEN THE IDEAL OF SCIENCE AND THAT OF PERSONALITY IN THE IDENTITY-PHILOSOPHY OF POST-KANTIAN FREEDOM-IDEALISM.
§ 1 - THE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD BETWEEN CRITICAL IDEALISM AND MONISTIC FREEDOM-IDEALISM. FROM MAIMON TO FICHTE.
So the inner dialectic of the religious ground-motive of nature and freedom could not come to rest in KANT's dualistic separation of the ideals of science and personality. It drove post-Kantian freedom-idealism beyond the Kantian transcendental criticism.
The critical (1) separation between understanding and sensibility, universal form and individuality, form and matter of experience, understanding and reason, had to be overcome.
(1) Translator's note: This term and the noun "Criticism" are used here to designate the Kantian philosophy as expounded in the three Critiques of the sage of Koeningsberg.
W. Y. [WILLIAM S. YOUNG Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Butler University]
W. Y. [WILLIAM S. YOUNG Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Butler University]
The freedom-motive, which since KANT was increasingly recognized as the very root of the Humanistic life- and world-view, called into play with a growing urgency its proper inner postulate of continuity. It must with a truly dialectical necessity transform the transcendental Idea concerning the coherence and mutual relations among the modal aspects. Thereby the whole cosmonomic Idea of Humanistic thought changed its form.
The dialectic of theoretical reason with its transcendental Ideas, by which in KANT reason elevates itself above the limits of sense experience, was to be transformed and enlarged into a new dialectical logic, as a true "organon" of freedom-idealism. Henceforth, all limits of reason ought to be abrogated and "nature" and "freedom" should be thought together in a dialectical way. In philosophic thought this program could be realized only by a further pushing back of the classical science-ideal and by its complete subjection to the ideal of personality. Whereas for KANT the theoretical dialectic with its insoluble antinomies was the proof of a speculative misuse of the transcendental Ideas, by which theoretical reason tries to exceed its critical boundaries, the antinomy was now sanctioned as a necessary transitional phase of dialectical thought which must continually proceed to a higher synthesis in order finally to overbridge the religious antithesis in the starting-point of Humanistic philosophy.
MAIMON's attempt at a solution of the antinomy in KANT's form-matter scheme by means of LEIBNIZ' principle of continuity.
A first attempt at bridging over the fundamental dualism in KANT's critiques of theoretical and practical reason (with their antithetic or rather antinomic relation between "reason" and "sensibility", universally valid apriori form and sensory "empirical" matter) was undertaken by SALOMON MAIMON (1753-1800). He intended to transform KANT's antithesis between sensibility and logical understanding from a fundamental into a gradual one by introducing into Kantian epistemology LEIBNIZ' doctrine concerning the "petites perceptions". For that very reason he eliminated in a radical manner the intrinsically antinomic metaphysical concept of the "thing in itself" which KANT had maintained because he considered sensibility as merely receptive.
With MAIMON an absolute idealistic trend entered into the transcendental thought which issued from KANT. This trend would even have the "matter" of experience originate solely from the transcendental consciousness. But MAIMON's method for the realization of this program is to be qualified only as an apostasy from the veritable transcendental motive in KANT's philosophy. This qualification holds in spite of the considerable influence MAIMON exercised on the development of transcendental idealism in FICHTE.
Kantian epistemology is completely dissociated from its ὑπόθεσις, from the Idea of the autonomous freedom of human personality. The critical self-reflection on the ideal of personality, as the root of the ideal of science, had begun in KANT's philosophy only to be lost again in MAIMON.
It is essentially the mathematical science-ideal that regains the upper hand in his critical thought. LEIBNIZ' mathematical principle of continuity is introduced into Critical philosophy, to overcome, if possible, the internal antinomy of the Critical form-matter schema. As if this antinomy had a "purely theoretical" origin and could be resolved by the methods of the mathematical ideal of science!
MAIMON even reduced the "sensory matter of experience" to the creative consciousness, understood as purely theoretical. The matter of knowledge is produced unconsciously in the consciousness: its genesis is unknown to the latter. But if it is not to remain completely foreign to "reason", it must be understood as the "transcendental differential" of clear transcendental-logical thought.
MAIMON's falling away from the veritable transcendental motive. How the transcendental Idea loses for him its direction toward KANT's ideal of personality.
The "Ding an sich" then actually loses all metaphysical meaning. Its signification is merged in that of a theoretical limiting concept. It indicates the limits under which our consciousness can no longer control its content by its own creative thought-forms.
This limiting concept, however, lacks all veritable transcendental meaning, which it had possessed for KANT. Rather it is exclusively oriented to the continuity-postulate of the mathematical science-ideal, as will appear below.
The basic problem which MAIMON encountered even in his first work, Versuch über die Transcendentalphilosophie, was that of the relation between the universal apriori forms of the "transcendental consciousness" and the particular matter. This was the same problem that KANT had tried to solve in his Kritik der Urteilskraft and in the year 1789 MAIMON's book had been sent by MARCUS HERZ to him for criticism even before KANT's third main work had appeared. To bridge the gap between the universal and the particular in our knowledge KANT had also used LEIBNIZ' theological Idea of the "intellectus archetypus" with its mathematical analysis completed in a single intuition (UNO INTUITO) of the whole individual reality (not to be penetrated by our finite understanding). But with him this idea remained a merely regulative principle for the use of the understanding, a normative Idea that obtained its transcendental turn in the teleological view of nature, insofar as the latter referred in the last analysis to the supersensible realm of freedom. On the basis of his transcendental ground-Idea, KANT must reject the metaphysical turn of LEIBNIZ' Idea of the "intellectus archetypus", resulting in a mathematical idealism that seeks both the origin and root of our cosmos in creative mathematical thought. This metaphysics of the science-ideal was incompatible with the freedom-idealism of KANT's Critical philosophy.
MAIMON's mathematical Criticism and the Marburg school among the Neo-Kantians.
MAIMON actually tried to reconcile this mathematical idealism with the Critical transcendental philosophy (2). According to him, the Idea of the "divine understanding" in its Leibnizian sense remains "an Idea, to which any Critique of Pure Reason must be reduced, if it is to be satisfying" (3).
(2) In modern times the Neo-Kantians of the Marburg School have made a similar attempt.
(3) Über die Progressen der Philosophie, Streifereien, p. 42, cited by CASSIRER III, p. 96: "eine Idee, worauf eine jede Kritik der reinen Vernunft zurückgebracht werden musz, wenn sie befriedigend sein soll"
This was doubtless a regression into the dogmatic attitude of thought which, under the supremacy of the faith in the mathematical science-ideal, could not penetrate to the true ὑπόθεσις of the latter. LEIBNIZ had wanted to give to phenomena in their sensory form a foundation in creative mathematical thought (hence his continual speaking of "phénomènes bien fondés") Similarly MAIMON seeks a mathematical basis for KANT's matter of consciousness, as such. This matter could no longer be relegated to the mere receptivity of sensibility, once a break had been made with KANT's doctrine of the "affection" of our subjective sensory function by the "Ding an sich".
The understanding cannot simply accept the sensory impressions of the "Gegenstand" as a datum; it necessarily asks after the principles of their origin. "Since the business of the understanding is nothing but thinking, i.e. producing unity in the manifold, it can think no object, except by indicating the rule or manner of its origin. For only thereby can the manifold of the same be brought under the unity of the rule. Consequently it can think no object as already originated, but merely as originating, i.e. flowing. The special rule of origination of an object or the nature of its differential makes it a special object, and the relations of different objects originate from the relations of their rules of originating or their differentials" (4).
(4) Versuch über die Transzendentalphilosophie, cited by CASSIRER III, p. 98: "Denn da das Geschäft des Verstandes nicht anderes als Denken, d.h. Einheit im mannigfaltigen hervorzubringen ist, so kann er sich kein Objekt denken, als blosz dadurch, dasz er die Regel oder Art seiner Entstehung angibt: denn nur dadurch kann das Mannigfaltige desselben unter die Einheit der Regel gebracht werden, folglich kann er kein Objekt als schon entstanden, sondern blosz als entstehend, d.h. flieszend denken. Die besondere Regel des Entstehens eines Objekts oder die Art seines Differentials macht es zu einem besonderen Objekt, und die Verhältnisse verschiedener Objekte entspringen aus den Verhältnissen ihrer Entstehungsregeln oder ihrer Differentialen."
Thus the Kantian Idea, or the noumenon, as limiting concept, gains with MAIMON the significance of a mathematical differential concept as the foundation of KANT's sensory matter of consciousness. The pure categories of thought can never be immediately applied to sensory perceptions "but merely to their elements which are Ideas of reason concerning the mode of origination of these intuitions, and by means of these to the intuitions themselves" (5).
(5) Ibid., p. 355: "sondern blosz auf ihre Elemente, die Vernunftideen von der Entstehungsart dieser Anschauungen sind and vermittels dieser auf die Anschauungen selbst."
The Idea as such becomes the logical origin-principle that knows no other ἀρχή but creative mathematical thought. This was the methodical way which presently was to be taken by the Marburg school, much more consistently than MAIMON had done. This school began to apply LEIBNIZ' principle of continuity as a transcendental logical "principle of creation" ("Erzeugungsprinzip") to KANT's categories. The latter could no longer be analyzed as a static datum from the table of the forms of logical judgment; rather they must be derived in a dynamic process of creation from their logical origin, from an original synthesis of thought.
But even for this dynamic, genetic view of the "pure forms of consciousness" we find the point of contact in MAIMON's mathematical Criticism. MAIMON carries through his view of the datum as "transcendental differential of consciousness" not only with respect to the sensory matter of knowledge, but also with respect to the apriori forms of the knowing consciousness.
The problem as to the relation between the universal and the particular in knowledge within the domain of KANT's apriori forms of consciousnes. MAIMON's cosmonomic Idea.
It was the relation of the particular to the universal in knowledge which he tried to clarify by his new conception of the Idea as "differential of consciousness". The same problem, however, occurs in the apriori forms of consciousness. Here it becomes that of the relation of the transcendental logical origin of the theoretical cosmos to the modal diversity of formal logical, mathematical and natural scientific concepts. In other words, the basic problems which must be answered by the transcendental ground-Idea (cosmonomic Idea) here come into play.
If the origin, the ἀρχή, is to be found only in the Idea of deified creative thought, then the modal particularity of meaning must also be reduced to its origin, according to a logical principle of creation.
This modal particularity may at first sight appear as a transcendental apriori datum in the apriori organization of our consciousness. Nevertheless, the Critical science-ideal requires the indication of the rule of origin according to which this particularity is to be created logically.
Thus the problem of specification that KANT had tried to solve in his Critique of Judgment is now set immediately in the frame of a cosmonomic Idea.
MAIMON starts from the problem concerning the specification of the formal logical concepts of the understanding into the special concepts of mathematics.
Finding a point of contact in KANT's doctrine of space and time, as forms of sensory intuition, he conceives space as a particularity which may not remain merely a datum, as an "apriori form of intuition", a ὕλη νοητή, but must be referred to its logical origin. The problem broadens, however, immediately to the question concerning the principle of the origin of all so-called real thought, which comes about in universally valid synthetic judgments of knowledge having a special sense. MAIMON tries to answer this question in his principle of determinability ("Satz der Bestimmbarkeit"). What is to be understood by this principle?
With MAIMON it expresses the Idea of logical domination (by a system of further categorical determinations) of the manifold in the special "Gegenstände" of thought, which may not be derived from the merely analytic principles, i.e. from the principles of identity and of logical contradiction alone.
As the "principium contradictionis" is the basic principle of all merely formal analytical judgments, so the "Satz der Bestimmbarkeit" becomes the origin-principle of all particular judgments of knowledge, in which thought, according to COHEN'S later pronouncement, becomes "thinking of being" and all being becomes "being of thought". For, according to the cosmonomic Idea here laid at the foundation, reality can hold as reality only insofar as it is derived from its logical origin, in the creative process performed by theoretical thought.
In the explanation of his "principle of determinability" MAIMON starts from three fundamentally different ways in which thought can combine a manifold of "objects of consciousness" into a logical unity.
There are three possibilities with respect to the relation between the elements of the manifold which are combined by thought into unity. In the first place, they can be entirely independent with respect to each other, so that each can be thought for itself separately, e.g. the sensory qualities of colour and taste, or "substances" as table and chair.
In this case, thought remains merely formal and arbitrary and connects the "objects of consciousness" only according to the analytic principle of contradiction. Realiter, however, the objects are not unified with one another according to a fixed principle.
In the second place, it is possible that the elements of the manifold, to be combined in thought, are interdependent in such a way that the one cannot be thought apart from the other. According to MAIMON, the judgment of causality, as a pure judgment of relation, is typical of this mode of logical synthesis, since cause and effect stand in correlation to one another. From this relation of thought, however, no independent "Gegenstand" can arise. Since each of its two elements supposes the other, both lack the characteristic of that independent existence, required for the "realen Gegenstand".
Only in the third mode of logical connection or synthesis does thought become thought of reality, in which the origin-principle of the "Gegenstand" can be demonstrated. In this mode of logical connection, the "subject", to be sure, can be thought in the judgment without the "predicate", but not conversely. Only a subject in the judgment that can be thought entirely independently, is a true "Gegenstand" in thought. Thought here ties to the concept of the "Gegenstand" an entire system of further determinations.
For this mode of logical synthesis the mathematical style of thinking is the prototype. For the totality of mathematical concepts and judgments forms a system, which, taking its beginning from an independent transcendental logical origin, is created by the continual addition of further logical determinations. Subject and predicate are constantly combined in the mathematical judgment according to the "principle of determinability" ("Satz der Bestimmbarkeit").
The break between form and sensory matter of knowledge. MAIMON's later critical scepticism with respect to KANT's concept of experience.
Not all "real thought", however, answers to this basic principle. The "empirical" judgments, which make their appeal to the sensory aspect of experience, are synthetic to be sure, but do not hang together in an apriori and systematic fashion according to the "principle of determinability". Sensory perception always affords us only a group of characteristics, which regularly exist together, but with respect to which it can never be proved that one characteristic is determined by the other. So, for example, the "complex sense-perception" which we call gold is characterized by its yellow colour, by its specific gravity, its solubility, and so on. But, the reason why these very qualities and not any others make their appearance together, remains hidden from our limited understanding. The conclusion from the constant perception of their configuration to the necessity of their combination rests upon the psychological association of Ideas, which HUME had previously analyzed. It is a product of the creative imagination but is not grounded in creative thought.
MAIMON has thus landed in a critical scepticism with respect to the actual possibility of applying the apriori forms of consciousness to the Kantian matter of sensory experience.
According to him, the category of nature-causality remains a merely formal synthesis of thought, creating no actual "Gegenstand". It is not to be deduced according to the "principle of determinability".
The exact natural sciences do not relate the "pure categories of thought" to sensory perceptions themselves, but rather to ideal limiting concepts, to the "differentials", which they substitute for these perceptions. The sensory phenomena do not permit themselves to be connected by thought, in conformity with the logical origin-principle of determinability.
Thus MAIMON's mathematical Criticism ends in a fundamental scepticism with respect to KANT's apriori principles of experience, which actually intended to relate the constitutive logical thought-forms apriori to the sensory material of knowledge. The only synthetic apriori sciences which he allows to be valid are the logicized mathematics and the transcendental philosophy as science of the synthetic origin of the pure forms of consciousness.
The continuity-postulate of the mathematical science-ideal halts in MAIMON's Critical philosophy before the boundary of sensory phenomena!
How is this to be explained in view of the fact that in his first work, Versuch über die Transzendentalphilosophie, MAIMON had expressly maintained that the categories of thought can be related also to sensory perceptions themselves by means of the Ideas of reason (as limiting concepts in the sense of "differentials of consciousness")?
The explanation is to be found in the circumstance that in MAIMON's first work, LEIBNIZ' mathematical idealism was accepted to an extent that did not really agree with KANT's Criticism. With LEIBNIZ, in the last analysis, the sensory aspect of reality becomes a mode of mathematical thought, while the concept of the differential took a metaphysical speculative turn. It was LEIBNIZ' idea of the divine Origin as mathematical thought creating the whole cosmic coherence, that originally dominated MAIMON's entire Critical standpoint.
LEIBNIZ' conception of the relation between phenomenon and noumenon was, however, altogether different from that of KANT. Only the metaphysics of the science-ideal could attempt to reduce sensory phenomena to mathematical thought as their ultimate origin and assume that, in the creative analysis of the divine thought, they answer adequately to the pure concepts of the understanding.
KANT could not relativize and eventually annul the boundaries between sensibility and reason in this metaphysical manner.
The way which KANT took to synthesize both antagonistic factors was eventually determined by his conception of the transcendental Idea of theoretical reason as limiting concept of freedom. That KANT thereby involved himself in insoluble antinomies was due to his dualistic transcendental ground-Idea, which did not permit a veritable bridging of the gap between form and matter.
MAIMON, who tried to understand KANT's doctrine of the transcendental Ideas in a "purely theoretical" sense, now stood before the dilemma of giving to the "Ideas" either the metaphysical speculative turn which they had possessed in LEIBNIZ' mathematical idealistic conception of the "intellectus archetypus", or of letting them shrivel up into mere fictions of the creative phantasy in the sense intended by HUME.
The first way would have carried him back irrevocably into pre-Kantian metaphysics, which he had rejected more consistently than KANT himself in his radical critique of the "Ding an sich".
Within the limits of the Critical standpoint, the mathematical science-ideal appears unable to overcome KANT's dualism between sensibility and reason.
As in MAIMON's later works LEIBNIZ's speculative Idea of God lost positive significance and the limits of the mathematical science-ideal were drawn more sharply in the critical sense, the Ideas in MAIMON also tend more and more pronouncedly to become mere fictions (6).
(6) Cf. on this in detail CASSIRER III, pp. 104 ff.
To the same degree, the boundaries that KANT had drawn between reason and sensibility gain in sharpness in MAIMON's criticism. The differential-concept and the continuity-principle originating from mathematical thought halt before a boundary between sensibility and reason, which KANT, however, had drawn for the sake of his new conception of the ideal of personality. MAIMON's transcendental ground-Idea ultimately lacks unity in its Archimedean point, despite his falling back into the supremacy of the mathematical science-ideal. Only from the personality-ideal itself, could the immediately following development of transcendental idealism attempt to overcome KANT's dualism. The science-ideal conceived according to Criticism did not prove capable of this.
(Herman Dooyeweerd, New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol I/ Part 2/ Chapt 5/§1 pp 403-412)