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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: June 2012

8 - Transcendental illusion I: rational psychology


In the remaining sections of the Critique, Kant has two main purposes. Most of the text concerns errors arising from the misuse of the understanding and reason, the basis of the traditional disputes of metaphysics. This discussion begins with two bridging sections at the end of the Transcendental Analytic, one clarifying the distinction between phenomena and noumena, the other titled On the Amphiboly of the Concepts of Reflection. It then proceeds with the Transcendental Dialectic, containing Kant's theory of transcendental illusion. The main discussion concerns the arguments of rational psychology (the Paralogisms), rational cosmology (the Antinomies), and rational theology (the existence of God). In an Appendix at the end of the Transcendental Dialectic Kant then turns to his second purpose, his theory of the legitimate functions of theoretical reason as the highest intellectual faculty. Here he explains the role of transcendental ideas and maxims of reason in scientific knowledge. The last part of the Critique, the Transcendental Doctrine of Method, discusses the methods of mathematical construction, and serves as a transition to Kant's account of practical reason. Chapters 8, 9, and 10 will treat Kant's theory of error. Chapter 11 discusses Kant's positive accounts of the role of reason in empirical and mathematical cognition.


In the section On the Ground of the Distinction of all Objects in General into Phenomena and Noumena, and the Appendix On the Amphiboly of the Concepts of Reflection, Kant explains how extending pure concepts of the understanding beyond appearances leads to spurious metaphysical conclusions.