Immanuel Kant on Examining Reason Alone


I flatter myself that I have discovered the cause of, and consequently the mode of removing, all the errors which have hitherto set reason at variance with itself.

I have not returned an evasive answer to the questions of reason, by alleging the impotency of the faculties of the mind. I have examined them completely in the light of principles, and have solved them, discovering the cause of the contradictions into which reason fell. It is true, these questions have not been solved as dogmatism had expected; for it can only be satisfied by the exercise of magical arts, and of these I have no knowledge. It was the duty of philosophy to destroy illusions, whatever darling hopes be ruined. My chief aim has been thoroughness; and I make bold to say that there is not a single metaphysical problem which does not find its solution, or at least the key to its solution, here. I think I see upon the reader’s face signs of displeasure mingled with contempt at declarations seemingly so boastful and extravagant; and yet they are incomparably more modest than those advanced by the commonest programme of the commonest dogmatist.

Such a dogmatist promises to extend human knowledge beyond the limits of possible experience; while I humbly confess that this is beyond my power. I confine myself to the examination of reason alone, and its pure thought; and I do not need to seek far for its full knowledge, since it has its seat in myself.”