chapter  11
50 Pages

The Limits of Metaphysical Knowledge

InthelastthreechapterswehavenoticedthemeansKantbringsoutfor ascertainingthetruthofafewmetaphysicalprinciples.Theyserveto illustratehowheholdsthatanymetaphysicalprinciplescanbeverified. Kantisnotmerelyconcernedtodiscoverhowafewprinciples,takenat random,canbeverified.IntheCritiqueofPureReasonheisconcernedto determinethefullextentoftheknowledgethatcanbeobtainedin metaphysics.Itistothisthatweshallgiveattentioninthepresentchapter. Kantissometimescriticizedforundertakingthistask.Someurgethat insteadofthinkingaboutmetaphysicsitismoreprofitableformento engageindoingmetaphysics.Theycontendthatmenwillneverfindwhat metaphysicscanachievebythinkingaboutit.Theyurgethattheywill findwhatitcanaccomplishonlyfromtheresultsthattheyreachin actuallydoingmetaphysics.Kant,however,pointsoutthatforwellover twothousandyearsmenhavebeentryingtogetresultsinmetaphysics.He alsopointsoutthattheseeffortshavehithertometwithfailure.Noresults havebeenreachedwhicheveryonemustaccept.Nothinkershavereached resultsonwhichsubsequentinvestigationcanconfidentlyrely.Kanturges thatthepersistenthistoricfailureofmetaphysicstoachievewhatithas beentryingtoachievecallsforacritiqueofpurereason,totakestockof themeansavailabletometaphysics,theextenttowhichthesemeansenable resultstobegotinmetaphysicsandthelimitsbeyondwhichitcan accomplishnothing.1