Kant's intelligible standpoint on action

In Hans-Ulrich Baumgarten & Carsten Held (eds.), Systematische Ethik mit Kant. Alber (2001)
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This essay attempts to render intelligible (you will pardon the pun) Kant's peculiar claims about the intelligible at A 539/B 567 – A 541/B 569 in the first Critique, in which he asserts that (1) ... [t]his acting subject would now, in conformity with his intelligible character, stand under no temporal conditions, because time is only a condition of appearances, but not of things in themselves. In him no action would begin or cease. Consequently it would not be subjected to the law of all determination of everything alterable in time: everything which happens finds its causes in the appearances (of the previous state). In a word, his causality, in so far as it is intellectual, would not stand in the series of empirical conditions which the event in the world of sense makes necessary. (A 539/B 567 - A 540/B 568) ... in so far as it is noumenon, nothing happens in him, no alteration which requires dynamical determination in time .... One would quite rightly say of him, that it of itself begins his effects in the world of sense, without the action's beginning in him himself ... (A 541/B 569)2 What does Kant mean by claiming that intellectual causality is such that in one's intelligible character as noumenal agent, actions neither begin nor end, nor does anything happen in one? Do these claims have meaning merely by contrast to the familiar experience of empirical causality, in which actions have discrete durations and events occur? Is he merely inferring from this familiar sensible experience an ontologically and metaphysically independent, epistemically inaccessible "world," which can be conceptualized only through the negation of those terms and propositions that characterize this one? Or is he offering a..



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Adrian M. S. Piper
APRA Foundation, Berlin

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