Study Guide for Kant's Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics

in Modern Philosophy:
An Anthology of Primary Sources

(Hackett Publishing Company, 1998), pp. 573ff.

Contact: Dr. Jan Garrett

Last modified January 8, 2004

Concentrate on picking up the meaning of the key terms. See list of terms at the end of this Study Guide. Lectures may occasionally be of a summary nature, rather than a close study of the text. Even in that case, the study questions, should help students to make a closer study. The numbers below make reference to the marginal page numbers in the Ariew-Watkins anthology. Occasionally, I refer also to page (of the anthology itself) or the section number.

1. What question does K. think needs to be proposed for those who think metaphysics worth studying? (255) What does the question whether a science is possible presuppose? (256, p. 580)

2. What did Hume achieve, according to K? (257) What mistaken inference did he implicitly draw? (257-58) What did Hume do for Kant? (260)

3. What claim does K. make about the sphere of pure reason? (263)

4. Can the sources of metaphysical cognition be empirical? It is therefore _ _____. What other kind of _ _____ knowing does K. mention? (265, Sect. 1)

5. Define analytic judgment. (266) Synthetic judgment. (266) Upon what do all analytic judgments depend? (267) Are any analytic judgments a posteriori or empirical? (267) Can there be analytic judgments involving empirical concepts (concepts formed by abstraction from sense-impressions alone, e.g., yellow)?

6. Judgments of experience are a posteriori. Are they analytic or synthetic? (267, Sect. 2c1)

7. Mathematical judgments are _____ (analytic or synthetic?) ______ (a posteriori or a priori). (268)

8. What is the essential and distinguishing feature of pure mathematical cognition? (272)

9. How does Kant criticize Hume? (272-73)

10. With the solution of what "proper problem" does "everything" (metaphysics as an inquiry leading to `science' [a system of necessary propositions]) depend? (276)

11. How does the entire transcendental philosophy (later called 'critical idealism' [293-94]) relate to the "problem here propounded? (279)

12. What peculiarity does mathematical cognition have? (281, Sect. 7) What is empirical intuition? For what is pure intuition the basis? (281)

13. In what way can my intuition anticipate the actuality of a [sensible] object? (282, Sect. 9])

14. Does the form of sensuous intuition enable us to know things [as they are] in themselves? (283) What (forms of) intuition lay at the foundation of mathematical cognitions? (283) Upon what is geometry based? (283)

15. Does the faculty of a priori intuition contain the form or the matter [sensuous content] of the appearance? (284)

16. What are some judgments resting directly on the a priori forms of intuition, according to K? (284-85)

17. How does K. argue against the view that space and time are actual qualities inherent in things themselves? (285-86) Are propositions of geometry descriptions of things in themselves? Is space "out there" or "in us"? (287-88) Explain.

18. What happens "if I dare to go beyond all possible experience with my concepts of space and time"? (291-92, Remark III after Section 13) How does Kant distinguish his critical or transcendental idealism from dreaming idealism and fanatical idealism? (293-94, just before Section 14)

19. How does K. define "nature"? (294, Sect. 14) What does he mean when he says "we possess a pure natural science . . . a priori . . . " (294-95, Sect. 15) Give examples of a priori laws of nature? (295)

20. Is K. now concerned with nature 'materially' or 'formally'? (296, sect. 17) What is required so that a judgment of perception can rank as experience? (296-97, section 17-18) What does K. mean by judgment of perception? (298) judgment of experience? (298) (See examples in note 9, p. 600) What does the objective validity of the latter signify? Is it true that for K. "objectively valid" means intersubjectively valid? (300-301)

21. Without what would all our objectively valid synthetic judgments be impossible? (301)

22. To what does K. appeal in order to derive a "complete table" of the pure a priori concepts of the understanding, upon which the possibility of experience rests? (302, Sect. 21) Note: Kant sometimes calls the twelve a priori concepts of the understanding his "categories," thus setting up his own list to rival Aristotle's famous list of ten categories (of beings).

23. Of what does experience consist? (304) What does the judgment of experience add to "sensuous intuition and its logical connection in a judgment"? (304) How does K. describe "the pure concepts of the understanding"? (305-306)

24. Kant writes of "judgments . . .considered merely as the condition of the unification of given representations in one consciousness." What sort of rules are they? Why does he call them principles? (305, Sect. 23) Why does K. say that "our second question . . . is solved"? (306)

25. How does K. justify our speaking objectively of substance and cause-effect, notions which seemed to have no cognitive justification, according to some of Hume's more skeptical arguments? (Sections 25, 27)

26. To what alone can pure mathematics and pure natural science refer? (313)

27. Why does K. say we have at last something "upon which to depend in all metaphysical enterprises"? (313-14, Section 31)

28. Distinguish phenomena and noumena. What can we know about the latter? (Sect. 32, 314) Of what noumena has K. already spoken? (312-313) When does the understanding take "with its otherwise legitimate concepts beyond the boundaries of their use"? (Sect. 33, 316)

29. What question is the "highest point that transcendental philosophy can ever reach"? What two questions does it contain? How are they answered? (318, Sect. 36)

30. Wherein does the highest legislation of nature lie? (319)

31. With what does metaphysics have to do other than concepts of nature? How does this "core and unique feature of metaphysics" arise? (327, Sect. 40)

32. What does K. mean by transcendent? by ideas [of pure reason]? How are the latter distinct from the categories? (328-29, Sect. 40-41)

33. Give examples of what K. means by psychological idea, cosmological idea, and theological idea. (334-48). Does K. think that the immortality of the soul can be proved? Explain. (335)

34. How am I conscious of the actuality of bodies as external appearances in space? How am I conscious of the existence of my soul in time? (336, Sect. 49)

35. What would be a "even greater absurdity," according to Kant, than to lay claim to knowing how a noumenon, "something which is not an object of possible experience" (350) is determined in itself? (350-51) Are we at liberty to abstain from inquiring into what things in themselves may be? (351-52)

36. Why should we "think an immaterial being, a world of understanding and a highest of all beings" even though we can never know them as they are in themselves? (354-55)

Kantian Terminology

a priori cognition
a priori knowledge
a posteriori knowledge
pure mathematics
analytic (explicative) judgment
synthetic (ampliative) judgment
principle of contradiction
pure intuition
synthetic a priori propositions
transcendental philosophy
[a priori] form(s) of sensibility
[a priori] form(s) of intuition
phenomena / appearances
things in themselves
noumena (pl. of noumenon)
critical idealism
dreaming idealism
fanatatic idealism
nature known "materially"
nature known "formally"
judgment of perception
judgment of experience
objectively valid judgment
[a priori] concepts of
     the understanding
empirical concepts
transcendent (compare
     with "transcendental")
ideas of reason
psychological idea
cosmological idea
theological idea
external experience
internal experience