The Critique of Practical Reason

Immanuel Kant
The Critique of Practical Reason,
by Immanuel Kant

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Title: The Critique of Practical Reason
Author: Immanuel Kant

Release Date: May, 2004 [EBook #5683] [Yes, we are more than one
year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on August 7, 2002]
Edition: 10
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

This eBook was prepared by Matthew Stapleton.

by Immanuel Kant
translated by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott
This work is called the Critique of Practical Reason, not of the pure
practical reason, although its parallelism with the speculative critique
would seem to require the latter term. The reason of this appears
sufficiently from the treatise itself. Its business is to show that there is
pure practical reason, and for this purpose it criticizes the entire
practical faculty of reason. If it succeeds in this, it has no need to
criticize the pure faculty itself in order to see whether reason in making
such a claim does not presumptuously overstep itself (as is the case
with the speculative reason). For if, as pure reason, it is actually
practical, it proves its own reality and that of its concepts by fact, and
all disputation against the possibility of its being real is futile.

With this faculty, transcendental freedom is also established; freedom,
namely, in that absolute sense in which speculative reason required it in
its use of the concept of causality in order to escape the antinomy into
which it inevitably falls, when in the chain of cause and effect it tries to
think the unconditioned. Speculative reason could only exhibit this
concept (of freedom) problematically as not impossible to thought,
without assuring it any objective reality, and merely lest the supposed
impossibility of what it must at least allow to be thinkable should
endanger its very being and plunge it into an abyss of scepticism.
Inasmuch as the reality of the concept of freedom is proved by an
apodeictic law of practical reason, it is the keystone of the whole
system of pure reason, even the speculative, and all other concepts
(those of God and immortality) which, as being mere ideas, remain in it
unsupported, now attach themselves to this concept, and by it obtain
consistence and objective reality; that is to say, their possibility is
proved by the fact that freedom actually exists, for this idea is revealed
by the moral law.
Freedom, however, is the only one of all the ideas of the speculative
reason of which we know the possibility a priori (without, however,
understanding it), because it is the condition of the moral law which we
know. * The ideas of God and immortality, however, are not conditions
of the moral law, but only conditions of the necessary object of a will
determined by this law; that is to say, conditions of the practical use of
our pure reason. Hence, with respect to these ideas, we cannot affirm
that we know and understand, I will not say the actuality, but even the
possibility of them. However they are the conditions of the application
of the morally determined will to its object, which is given to it a priori,
viz., the summum bonum. Consequently in this practical point of view
their possibility must be assumed, although we cannot theoretically
know and understand it. To justify this assumption it is sufficient, in a
practical point of view, that they contain no intrinsic impossibility
(contradiction). Here we have what, as far as speculative reason is
concerned, is a merely subjective principle of assent, which, however,
is objectively valid for a reason equally pure but practical, and this
principle, by means of the concept of freedom, assures objective reality

and authority to the ideas of God and immortality. Nay, there
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