Dr.med. Othmar Mäser, Psychiater Psychotherapie

Kant quotation 3a : right and wrong use of an idea

(J. M. D. Meiklejohn translation)

” If however, we neglect this restriction of the idea to a purely regulative influence, reason is betrayed into numerous errors. For it has then left the ground of experience, in which alone are to be found the criteria of truth, and has ventured into the region of incomprehensible and unsearchable, on the heights of which it loses its power and collectedness, because it has completely severed its connection with experience.

The first error which arises from our employing the idea …… as a constitutive (in repugnance to the very nature of an idea ), and not as a regulative principle, is the error of in active reason ( ignava ratio). We may so term every principle which requires us to regard our investigations of nature as absolutely complete, and allows reason to cease its inquiries, as if it had fully executed its task. Thus the psychological idea of the Ego, when employed as a constitutive principle for the explantion of the phenomena of the soul, and for the extension of our knowledge regarding this subject beyond the limits of experience – even to the condition of the soul after death, is convenient enough for the purposes of pure reason, but detrimental and even ruinous to its interests in the sphere of nature and experience. The dogmatizing spiritualist explains the unchanging unity of our personality  through all changes of condition from the unity of a thinking substance, the interest which we take in things and events that can happen only after our death, from a consciousness of the immaterial nature of our thinking subject, and so on. Thus he dispenses with all empirical investigations into the cause of these internal phenomena, and with all possible explanations of them upon purely natural grounds; while, at the dictation of a transcendent reason, he passes by the immanent sources of cognition in experience, greatly to his own ease and convenience, but to the sacrifice of all genuine insight and intelligence. These prejudicial consequences become still more evident, in the case of the dogmatical treatment of our idea of a Supreme Intelligence, and the theological system of nature (physico-theology) which is falsely based upon it. For, in this case, the aims which we observe in nature, and often those which we merely fancy to exist, make the investigation of causes a very easy task, by directing us to refer such and such phenomena immediately to the unsearchable will and counsel of the Supreme Wisdom,  while we ought to investigate their causes in the general laws of the mechanism of matter. ……

The second error which arises from the misconception of the principle of a systematic unity is that of perverted reason (perversa ratio, …). The idea of systematic unity is available as a

regulative principle in the connection of phenomena according to general natural laws; and, how far soever we have to travel upon the path of experience to discover some fact or event, this idea requires us to believe that we have approached all the more nearly to the completion in the sphere of nature, although that completion can never be attained. But this error reverses the procedure of reason. ……”

(end of quotation)

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, Dover Philosophical Classics, 2003, unabridged republication of J. M. D. Meiklejohn`s translation as published in 1900 by the Colonial Press, London and New York, page 386-388.

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Link to Kant quotation 3a in German

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Link to page: medical diagnosis – psychiatric diagnosis

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