What Philosophy Is and Is Not According to Kant’s Logic

Kant didn't have a cat...
Kant didn’t have a cat…

Philosophy, thus, is the system of philosophic cognitions or of cognitions of reason out of concepts. This is the *scholastic* [or *school*] concept of this science. According to its *world* concept it is the science of the ultimate ends of human reason. This high concept gives philosophy its *dignity*, i.e., an absolute value. And actually it is philosophy alone that has an inner value and first gives value to all other cognitions.

In the end the question is always, What is philosophizing good for and what is its ultimate end? and this even when philosophy is considered as a science according to the *scholastic concept*.

In this scholastic meaning of the word, philosophy relates only to *skill*; in reference to the world concept, on the contrary, it relates to *usefulness*. In the former respect it is a *doctrine of skill*; in the latter a *doctrine of wisdom*, the *lawgiver* of reason, and to that extent the philosopher is not a *theoretician* of *reason*, but *lawgiver*.

The mere theoretician or, as *Socrates* calls him, the *philodoxus*, strives only after speculative knowledge, without caring how much his knowledge contributes to the ultimate end of human reason; he gives rules of the use of reason to all kinds of ends. The practical philosopher, the teacher of wisdom through doctrine and example, is the philosopher in the true sense. For philosophy is the idea of a perfect wisdom that shows us the ultimate ends of human reason.


Philosophy not only provides such strictly systematic coherence, but is the only science that has systematic coherence in the proper sense and gives systematic unity to all other sciences.

As concerns philosophy according to the world concept, however (*in sensu cosmico*), one may call it a *science of the highest maxim of the use of our reason*, if by maxim one understands the inner principle of choice among different ends.

For, in the latter meaning, philosophy is the science of relating all cognition and every use of reason to the ultimate end of human reason, to which, as the supreme end, all others are subordinated and in which they must be joined into unity.

The field of philosophy in this cosmopolitan meaning may be summed up in the following questions:

1) *What can I know?―*
2) *What ought I to do?*
3) *What may I hope?*
4) *What is man?*

The first question is answered by *metaphysics*, the second by *morality*, the third by *religion*, and the fourth by *anthropology*, because the first three questions are related to the last.

The philosopher, therefore, must be able to determine

1) the sources of human knowledge,
2) the extent of the possible and advantageous use of all knowledge, and finally
3) the limits of reason.

The last is the most urgent but also the most difficult task, of which the *philodoxus*, however, takes no notice.

Two things, primarily, make the philosopher. (1) Cultivation of talents and skill to use them for various ends. (2) Readiness in the use of all means to any ends one may choose. Both must be united, for without knowledge one never becomes a philosopher, but knowledge alone will never make the philosopher, unless there is added a purposeful joining of all cognitions and skills into unity, and an insight into their agreement with the highest ends of human reason.

How, indeed, should it be possible to learn philosophy? Every philosophical thinker builds his own work, so to speak, on the ruins of another; never, however, has a work come about that would have lasted in all its parts. Merely for that reason one cannot learn philosophy, because *it is yet given*. Supposing, however, there *actually* were a philosophy: then no one who learned it could yet say of himself that he is a philosopher, for his knowledge of it would still be only *subjective-historical*.

In mathematics things are different. This science can in a certain way be learned, for here the proofs are so evident that everyone can become convinced of them; and because of its evidence it also can, as it were, be preserved as a *certain* and *permanent* doctrine.

He who wants to learn to philosophize must, on the contrary, regard all systems of philosophy only as the *history of the use of reason* and as objects for exercising his philosophical talent.

The true philosopher, as self-thinker thus must make free, not slavishly imitating use of his reason. But not a *dialectical* use, i.e., one that aims only at giving cognitions a *semblance* of *truth* and *wisdom*. This is the business of the mere sophist, totally incompatible though with the dignity of the philosopher as one who knows and teaches wisdom.

For science has a true inner value only as an *organ of wisdom*. As such, however, it is indispensable, so that one may well maintain that wisdom without science is the shadowy outline of a perfection that we shall never reach.

He who hates science and so much the more loves wisdom is called a *misologist*. Misology usually springs from an emptiness of scientific attainments and a certain kind of vanity coupled with it. Sometimes, however, those also fall into the mistake of misology who at first pursued the sciences with much diligence and fortunate results but in the end found no satisfaction in all their knowledge. .

Philosophy is the only science that can provide this inner satisfaction, for it closes, as it were, the scientific circle, and only through it do the sciences receive order and coherence.

For the sake of practice in self-thinking or philosophizing we shall, therefore, have to look more to the *method* of our use of reason than to the propositions themselves that we have attained through it.”

Lawgiver section from Kant’s Logic

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