Dr.med. Othmar Mäser, Psychiater Psychotherapie

Kant quotation 8 : unity of mere idea – systematic unity

Norman Kemp Smith translation:

“But reason cannot think this systematic unity otherwise than by giving to the idea of this unity an object; and since experience can never give an example of complete systematic unity, the object which we have to assign to the idea is not such as experience can ever supply. This object, as thus entertained by reason (ens rationis ratiocinatae), is a mere idea; it is not assumed as a something that is real absolutely and in itself; but is postulated only problematically (since we cannot reach it through any of the concepts of the understanding) in order that we may view all connection of the things of the world of sense as if they had their ground in such a being. In thus proceeding, our sole purpose is to secure that systematic unity which is indispensable to reason, and which while furthering in every way the empirical knowledge obtainable by the understanding can never interfere to hinder or obstruct it.

We misapprehend the meaning of this idea if we regard it as the assertion or even as the assumption of a real thing, to which we may proceed to ascribe the ground ot the systematic order … ” (end of quotation) (1)

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John Meiklejohn translation:

”But reason cannot cogitate this systematic unity, without at the same time cogitating an object of the idea – an object that cannot be presented in any experience, which contains no concrete example of a complete systematic unity. This being (ens rationis raciocinate) is therefore a mere idea, and is not assumed to be a thing which is real absolutely and in itself. On the contrary, it forms merely the problematical foundation of the connection which the mind introduces among the phenomena of the sensuous world. We look upon this connection, in the light of the above-mentioned idea, as if it drew its origin from the supposed being which corresponds to the idea. And yet all we aim at is the possession of this idea as a secure foundation for the systematic unity of experience – a unity indispensable to reason, advantageous to the understanding, and promotive of the interests of empirical cognition.

We mistake the true meaning of this idea, when we regard it as an announcement, or even as a hypothetical declaration of the existence of a real thing, which we are to regard as the origin or ground of a systematic constitution … ” (end of quotation) (2)

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Guyer / Wood translation:

“But reason cannot think this systematic unity in any other way than by giving its idea an object, which, however, cannot be given throughe any experience; for experience never gives an example of perfect systematic unity. Now this being of reason (ens rationis ratiocinatae) is, to be sure, a mere idea, and is therfore not assumed absolutely and in itselve as something actual, but is rather taken as a ground only problematically (because we cannot reach it through any concepts of the understanding), so as to regard all the connection of things in the world of sense as if they had their ground in this being of reason; but solely with the intention of grounding on it the systematic unity that is indispensable to reason and conductive in every way to empirical cognition of the understnding but can never be obstructive to it.

One mistakes the significance of this idea right away if one takes it to be the assertion, or even only the presupposition , of an actual thing to which one would think of ascribing the ground for the systematic constitution; …” (3)

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Weigelt (Müller) translation:

“Reason, however, cannot think this systematic unity without attributing to its idea thereof an object. This object, because  experience has never given an example of complete systematic unity, can never be given in any eperience. This being of reason (ens rationis ratiocinate) is no doubt a mere idea, and therefore is not assumed as something absolutely actual and actual in itself. It is admitted only problematically ( for we cannot reach it through any concepts of the understanding), in order to enable us to look upon all connection of things in the world of sense as if they had their ground in this being of reason. But our sole intention here is to foud upon it the systematic unity that is indispensable to reason, helpful in every way to the emprical knowledge of the understanding, and never a hindrance to it. We misapprehend a t once the true meaning of this idea if we accept it as the assertion, or even just the presupposition, of an actual thing to which we mean to ascribe the ground of the systematic constitition …” (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 556-557.

(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 381-382.

(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 611.

(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 556 .

compare Kant quotation 8 to Jaspers quotation

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Link to all Kant quotations

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Link to medical diagnosis – psychiatric diagnosis

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