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  • Against the metaphysical exposition of space1
  • Gershom Scholem
    Translated by Julia Ng (bio)

(1918, Bern)

Against the metaphysical exposition of space, the following main objections are to be raised:

I. Kant mixes up perception and intuition.

The space of perception, that of intuition and that of mathematics are confounded with one another.

  • The s[pace] of perception is a plane.

  • [The space of] intuition per se is to be contested.

  • [The space of] mathematics forms the real space problem.

II. The entirely arbitrary usage of "represent" and "thinking" in connection with the argument in proposition 2. Kant's proposition does not provide proof.

One cannot represent that there is no space though one can represent that there are no objects in it.

This proposition is false for the space of mathematics because the space of mathematics per se cannot be represented.

It is false for experiential space because one cannot represent that there are no objects in it.

Thus Kant confounds the two and puts "thinking" in the second part of the proposition, which proves nothing, because an equivocation has taken place. [End Page 456]

III. The mixing up of concept and intuition through false terminology.

"Space and concept of space" are two different things. Kant's entire argumentation in propositions 3 and 4 is therefore without substance [lit.: without object]. He only proves that the concept of space is not a concept of a concept, which is self-evident.

Result: an investigation of the problem is impossible on the grounds of Kantian determinations.

The transcendental appears in Kant and Cohen as a magical concept. // In the case of a posteriori objects, to the extent that they are given, i.e., real, it is not possible to pose the question of their possibility other than under the condition of [giving] an answer in [the form of] an analytic judgment. (By contrast, it is of course possible to answer the question of the "How" of this object, in the sense of what properties it has (Quale), with a synthetic judgment. With a priori entities,2 the question of How in the sense of Quale (what properties does it have) is completely meaningless; rather, there is here the prospect in the Kantian sense that, even after the reality of such a priori entities has been demonstrated by means of a metaphysical exposition, the question of the possibility of such a priori entities may still be posed with a view towards getting an answer in [the form of] a synthetic judgment. Now by designating both this last question and the question of the Quale with a "How," Kant gains the possibility of deviously acquiring the transcendental through the following quaternio terminorum [fallacy of four terms]:

[major premise] I can ask "How" of every entity.

[minor premise] The question of Quale (what properties does it have?) is meaningless in the case of a priori entities.

[conclusion] The only meaningful question of How with regard to a priori entities is this: how is it possible, the transcendental question.

Page 139 in Cohen is the height of nonsense. Link between logic and ethics: the law shall be!!! Why is he grumbling about Barbarossa?! And on what grounds shall it be? Not along the lines of morals, but rather—the [End Page 457] highest principle shall exist because of the "fact of science" and thus because of Newton! Because the earth revolves around the sun! The entire passage is groundless. We "want" to recognize necessity—as if there were a logical willing where there isn't even a logical must.

Cohen wants to claim (on page 77) that only the posing of the question of the a priori is timelessly valid, but that the content, on the other hand—[the question of] which ones are the fundamental concepts—is determined by the "progressive culture of the spirit." For this reason, the metaphysical exposition is supposed to possess irrefutable validity in its tendency alone, but only relative validity in its results.

The mystical obscurity is illustrated most distinctly here. A critical right is granted to positivism. The conceivability of such an evolution, if it is to have serious meaning at all, is unintelligible.

The metaphysical exposition aims...


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