Critique of Pure Reason – Preface A

Metaphysics – A Brief Genealogy

For Kant, Metaphysics is the battlefield of endless controversies. There are questions for Kant for example, which we cannot ignore because they abide in the very essence of reason itself, while we cannot answer them because they simultaneously transcend the power of our own capabilities for reasoning.

Kant declares that metaphysics was once called the queen of all the sciences. By ‘science’, Kant is using it in its traditional sense of the word to refer to knowledge. Metaphysics acted as the kernel, glue or foundation which linked all other forms of knowledge together. During this time, metaphysics was taken to be common sense, axiomatic, etc. But there were still traces of the scepticism of the ancient Greeks, which questioned the legitimacy of such assumptions.

Yet everything fell back into dogma once it was decided, that there was a certain nature or origin of human understanding. After everything has been tried, there is a sentiment of weariness with such concerns and apathy. Yet Kant warns, with such weariness and apathy, there is a chance of the sciences reverting back to the same metaphysical dogmas they tried to escape. That is, if we are to accept this so called origin of human understanding without testing its legitimacy.

It is not the result of carelessness however, but a matured judgment of the age which is careful of the mere appearance of knowledge. For Kant however, not all sciences have decayed into this state. The natural sciences even go as far as to surpass them and although religion tries to disassociate itself from these dogmas of indifference, it to is susceptible to them. Kant’s aim, is to justify the use of reason while getting rid of the groundless presumptions which morph into self-explanatory methodologies which become independent of all experience, i.e. a critique of pure reason itself.

Metaphysics – A Manifesto

Kant’s goal is to determine either the impossibility or possibility of metaphysics, as well as its range, scope, limits and methods. For Kant, there is not one single metaphysical problem. He also thinks that since metaphysics is a perfect unity, if it cannot explain one occurrence then the whole system crumbles under its own weight.

Kant also questions what we can do with metaphysics if all experience were to be taken away from us. Kant both understands and places emphasis, that any author who takes this undertaking must have certainty and clarity in his analysis. If he is to justify certainty in a priori phenomenon and concepts, it must be necessary and not just opinion. There is a need to justify the objective validity of the pure a priori concepts of the understanding. There is also a need to answer how much we can (and if it’s even possible to) understand reason without the aid of experience, as well the conditions that make thought possible.

Kant warns the reader however, that by doing this Kant is creating a hypothesis, and therefore an opinion. By doing this, Kant accepts that he will fail in this regard to come up with a comprehensive justification and that the reader will probably make up their own opinion on the matter.

In regards to clarity meanwhile, the reader has the right to demand logical clarity and clarity through the means of analogy and examples. Here, it is important to distinguish between a few pieces of terminology (one of which, that should not be confused for a similar term, which has also been added here):

Discursive: This refers to logic or something being logical.
Intuitive: This refers to examples, analogies and concrete illustrations.
Intuition: This refers to something that is immediately present to the senses.

Kant sees the use of metaphysics, being it can create a unity of knowledge in a short time. Meanwhile, nothing escapes us due to reason filling in gaps and influencing our experience. This completeness is able to bring the many different aspects and modes of which we have and acquire knowledge, together.