Dr.med. Othmar Mäser, Psychiater Psychotherapie

Kant quotation 2 : highest faculty of cognition

(Norman Kemp Smith translation:)

“Thus all human knowledge begins with intuitions, proceeds from thence to concepts, and ends with ideas. Although in respect of all three elements it possesses a priori sources of knoweldge, which on first consideration seem to scorn the limits of all experience, a thoroughgoing critique convinces us that reason in its speculative employment, can never with these elements transcend the field of possible experience, and that the proper vocation of this supreme faculty of knowledge is to use all methods, and the principles of these methods, solely for the purpose of penetrating to the innermost secrets of nature, in accordance with every possible principle of unity- that of ends being the most important – but never to soar beyond its limits, outside which there is for us nothing but empty space.” (1)

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(original J. M. D. Meiklejohn translation:)

“Thus all human cognition begins with intuitions, proceeds from thence to conceptions, and ends with ideas. Although it possesses in relation to all three elements, à priori sources of cognition, which seemed to transcend the limits of all experience,  thorough-going criticism demonstrates, that speculative reason can never, by the aid of these elements, pass the bounds of possible experience, and that the proper destination of this highest faculty of cognition is to employ all methods, and all the principles of these methods, for the purpose of penetrating into the innermost secrets of nature, by the aid of the principles of unity ( among all kinds of which teleological unity is the highest ), while it ought not to attempt to soar above the sphere of experience, beyond which there lies nought for us but the void inane.” (2)

modified J. M. D. Meiklejohn translation (O. Maeser / A. M. Simma) compare to original Kant quotation in German

“Thus all human cognition begins with perceptions (intuitions), proceeds from thence to conceptions (terms), and ends with ideas. Although it possesses in relation to all three elements, à priori sources of cognition, which seemed to transcend the limits of all experience, a thorough-going criticism demonstrates, that speculative reason can never, by the aid of these elements, pass the bounds of possible experience, and that the proper destination of this highest faculty of cognition is to employ all methods, and all the principles of these methods, for the purpose of penetrating into the innermost secrets of nature, by the aid of the principles of unity among all of which the aim is the highest, while it ought not to attempt to soar above the sphere of experience, beyond which there lies nought for us but the void inane.” (2)

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(Guyer / Wood translation:)

“Thus all human cognition begins with intuitions, goes from there to concepts, and ends with ideas. Although in regard to all three elements it has sources of cognition a priori which seem at first glance to scorn the boundaries of all experience, a completed critique convinces us that reason in its speculative use can with these elements never get beyond the field of possible experience, and that the proper vocation of this supreme faculty of cognition is to employ all its methods and principles only in order to penetrate into the deepest inwardness of nature in accordance with all possible principles of unity, of which the unity of ends is the most prominent, but is never to fly across the boundaries of nature, outside which there is for us nothing but empriy space.” (3)

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(Weigelt (Müller) translation:)

“Thus all human knowledge begins with intuitions, advances to concepts, and ends with ideas. Although with reference to each of these three elements it possesses a priori sources of knowledge, which at first sight seemed to despise the limits of all experience, yet a perfected criticism soon convinces us that reason, in its speculative use, can never get beyond the field of possible experience with these elements, and that it is the true destination of this supreme faculty of knowledge to use all methods and principles of reason with one objective only, namely, to follow up nature into its innermost recesses according to every possible principle of unity – the unity of ends being the most important – but never to soar above its limits, outside of which there is for us nothing but empty space.” (4)

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(1) Kemp Smith: Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason, Translated by Norman Kemp Smith, Blunt Press, 2008, (originally published by Macmillan & Co., London, 1929), page 569.

(2) Meiklejohn: Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason, Dover Philosophical Classics, 2003, (unabridged republication of J. M. D. Meiklejohn’s translation, Colonial Press, London and New York, 1900), pages 393.

(3) Guyer, Wood: Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason, Translated and edited by Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood, (The Cambridge edition of the works of Immanuel Kant), Cambridge University Press, 1998, page 622.

(4) Weigelt, (Müller): ant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason, Translated, edited and with an introduction by Marcus Weigelt, Based on the translation by Max Müller, (Penguin Classics), Penguin Books, 2007, page 569.

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Link to Kant quotation 2 in German

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Link to all Kant quotations

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Link to page: medical diagnosis – psychiatric diagnosis

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