LECTURE 3 NOTE C.—P. 96.
KANT ON THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT.
Kant characterises this argument as a perfect “nest” of dialectical
assumptions.—Kritik, p. 427 (Eng. trans. p. 374). Yet it might be shown
that the objections he takes to it depend almost exclusively on his theory of knowledge—e.g.,
that the mind is confined to phenomena; that the law of cause and effect has no
application—except in the world of phenomena (though Kant himself applies it in
positing an action of things per se on the sensitive subject, and introduces
a “causality “ of the noumenal self, etc.).891891Cf. Dr. Stirling’s Philosophy
of Theology, pp. 315, 316: “The entire ‘nest’ may be said to be a construction
of his peculiar system.”
The same remark applies to the “antinomies” or self-contradictions in which the mind
is said to involve itself in every attempt at a theoretic application of the cosmological
“Idea.” The “antinomies” are rather to be regarded as rival alternatives
of thought, which, indeed, are contradictory of each other, but which do not stand
on the same footing as regards admissibility. Rather they are of such a nature that
the mind is found to reject one, while it feels itself shut up to accept the other.
E.g., The world has either a beginning in time or it has not. The alternative
here is an eternal retrogression of phenomenal causes and effects, or the admission
of an extra-phenomenal First Cause—God. But these do not stand on the same footing.
The mind rejects the former as unthinkable and self-contradictory (see Lecture IV.); the latter it not only
does not reject, but feels a rational satisfaction in admitting. Again, there is
the antinomy between natural causation and freedom of will. But this is only an
antinomy if we hold that the law of causation applicable to physical phenomena is
the only kind of causation we know—that there may not be rational, intelligent
causation over and above the physical and determinate. Something here also depends
on the definition of freedom.