I'm reading through the Critique of Pure Reason and I'm stuck on the section Resolution of the cosmological idea of the totality of the derivation of occurrences in the world from their causes and likely some succeeding ones.

Here, Kant deals with the issue of the coexistence of free will and empirical causality, however I can't parse what he's trying to say for the life of me. It seems like he's running in a never ending circle of contradiction, whereby all events as appearances are fully determined through empirical causality, and that no series of events can be said to have an absolute beginning, and yet free will is exactly what begins a series of events.

He seems to try to resolve this by differentiating between an intelligible causality and a merely empirical one--but that's exactly what's bothering me. I can't understand what he means by "intelligible causality as opposed to the empirical one", and his writing on this matter is probably the most confused it's ever been in the Critique.

I've read that the central distinction here is time. Empirical causality exists within a time-series. Intelligible causality does not. What does that mean? Clearly there must be points of interaction where intelligible causality enters into the empirical one, can't it be said that a series of appearance-events had thus begun?

Note that I am specifically interested in this metaphysical side of the problem, I do know where he's getting at regarding the practical and regulative use reason has for the idea of freedom.


1 Answer 1


Have you checked out his Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics?


There we find:

§ 53. ... All actions of rational beings, as appearances, are strictly determined by causality. The same actions are free when the rational being acts as a thing–in– itself in accordance with mere practical reason.


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