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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.

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