Kantian Journal

2021 Vol. 40. №4

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Spontaneities and Singularities: Kant’s Hypothetical Approach to the Supersensible and the Re-Foundation of Metaphysics



The hypothetical approach to the supersensible developed by Kant in his three Critiques, exemplified by his analysis of the aesthetic and reflective judgment in his third Critique, with their principle fortuitous purposiveness, can be considered as the basis for a new foundation of metaphysics. According to Kant’s limitation of cognition to the realm of sense intuition, theoretical knowledge of God, the subject, things-in-themselves, transcendental ideas is impossible. This leads to a kind of “negative theology” of the highest principle and the supersensible as a whole. The reasons are rooted in the character of propositional thought, which can only circumscribe a singular, supersensible reality by means of predicative sentences and discursive thought. Taking Kant’s lead, but in contrast to his terminology, I call really existent singularities, including the thinking, knowing, desiring, feeling unique individuals we know as human beings, spontaneities, in order to distinguish them from descriptive characteristics attributed to them by predicative thought. Kant’s “practico-dogmatic” account of the postulates of God and immortality of the soul, based on the “fact of freedom” and its connection to the moral imperative, ensure the possibility of the “highest good” as final aim of moral behaviour — but cannot satisfy our need for knowledge of the supersensible. To “lay the groundwork” for experience of our own self-conscious reality, the reality of others like ourselves, of things which transcend the boundaries of sense intuition, and of true reciprocity, a different method is needed, one which leads us “beyond being and thought” to the unconditional beginning of conditional reality.


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