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The phrases in their context!


It cannot be affirmed with propriety that this idea is a conception of an object; it is merely a conception of the complete unity of the conceptions of objects, in so far as this unity is available to the understanding as a rule.
Such conceptions of reason are not derived from nature; on the contrary, we employ them for the interrogation and investigation of nature, and regard our cognition as defective so long as it is not adequate to them.
We admit that such a thing as pure earth, pure water, or pure air, is not to be discovered.
And yet we require these conceptions (which have their origin in the reason, so far as regards their absolute purity and completeness) for the purpose of determining the share which each of these natural causes has in every phenomenon.
Thus the different kinds of matter are all referred to earths, as mere weight; to salts and inflammable bodies, as pure force; and finally, to water and air, as the vehicula of the former, or the machines employed by them in their operations--for the purpose of explaining the chemical action and reaction of bodies in accordance with the idea of a mechanism.
For, although not actually so expressed, the influence of such ideas of reason is very observable in the procedure of natural philosophers.
If reason is the faculty of deducing the particular from the general, and if the general be certain in se and given, it is only necessary that the judgement should subsume the particular under the general, the particular being thus necessarily determined.
I shall term this the demonstrative or apodeictic employment of reason.
If, however, the general is admitted as problematical only, and is a mere idea, the particular case is certain, but the universality of the rule which applies to this particular case remains a problem.
Several particular cases, the certainty of which is beyond doubt, are then taken and examined, for the purpose of discovering whether the rule is applicable to them; and if it appears that all the particular cases which can be collected follow from the rule, its universality is inferred, and at the same time, all the causes which have not, or cannot be presented to our observation, are concluded to be of the same character with those which we have observed.
This I shall term the hypothetical employment of the reason.
The hypothetical exercise of reason by the aid of ideas employed as problematical conceptions is properly not constitutive.
That is to say, if we consider the subject strictly, the truth of the rule, which has been employed as an hypothesis, does not follow from the use that is made of it by reason.
For how can we know all the possible cases that may arise?
some of which may, however, prove exceptions to the universality of the rule.
This employment of reason is merely regulative, and its sole aim is the introduction of unity into the aggregate of our particular cognitions, and thereby the approximating of the rule to universality.
The object of the hypothetical employment of reason is therefore the systematic unity of cognitions; and this unity is the criterion of the truth of a rule.
On the other hand, this systematic unity--as a mere idea--is in fact merely a unity projected, not to be regarded as given, but only in the light of a problem--a problem which serves, however, as a principle for the various and particular exercise of the understanding in experience, directs it with regard to those cases which are not presented to our observation, and introduces harmony and consistency into all its operations.
All that we can be certain of from the above considerations is that this systematic unity is a logical principle, whose aim is to assist the understanding, where it cannot of itself attain to rules, by means of ideas, to bring all these various rules under one principle, and thus to ensure the most complete consistency and connection that can be attained.
But the assertion that objects and the understanding by which they are cognized are so constituted as to be determined to systematic unity, that this may be postulated a priori, without any reference to the interest of reason, and that we are justified in declaring all possible cognitions--empirical and others--to possess systematic unity, and to be subject to general principles from which, notwithstanding their various character, they are all derivable such an assertion can be founded only upon a transcendental principle of reason, which would render this systematic unity not subjectively and logically--in its character of a method, but objectively necessary.
We shall illustrate this by an example.