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The phrases in their context!


He can only say; If we perceived their origin and their authenticity, we should be able to determine the extent and limits of reason; but, till we can do this, all propositions regarding the latter are mere random assertions.
In this view, the doubt respecting all dogmatical philosophy, which proceeds without the guidance of criticism, is well grounded; but we cannot therefore deny to reason the ability to construct a sound philosophy, when the way has been prepared by a thorough critical investigation.
All the conceptions produced, and all the questions raised, by pure reason, do not lie in the sphere of experience, but in that of reason itself, and hence they must be solved, and shown to be either valid or inadmissible, by that faculty.
We have no right to decline the solution of such problems, on the ground that the solution can be discovered only from the nature of things, and under pretence of the limitation of human faculties, for reason is the sole creator of all these ideas, and is therefore bound either to establish their validity or to expose their illusory nature.
The polemic of scepticism is properly directed against the dogmatist, who erects a system of philosophy without having examined the fundamental objective principles on which it is based, for the purpose of evidencing the futility of his designs, and thus bringing him to a knowledge of his own powers.
But, in itself, scepticism does not give us any certain information in regard to the bounds of our knowledge.
All unsuccessful dogmatical attempts of reason are facia, which it is always useful to submit to the censure of the sceptic.
But this cannot help us to any decision regarding the expectations which reason cherishes of better success in future endeavours; the investigations of scepticism cannot, therefore, settle the dispute regarding the rights and powers of human reason.
Hume is perhaps the ablest and most ingenious of all sceptical philosophers, and his writings have, undoubtedly, exerted the most powerful influence in awakening reason to a thorough investigation into its own powers.
It will, therefore, well repay our labours to consider for a little the course of reasoning which he followed and the errors into which he strayed, although setting out on the path of truth and certitude.
Hume was probably aware, although he never clearly developed the notion, that we proceed in judgements of a certain class beyond our conception if the object.
I have termed this kind of judgement synthetical.
As regard the manner in which I pass beyond my conception by the aid of experience, no doubts can be entertained.
Experience is itself a synthesis of perceptions; and it employs perceptions to increment the conception, which I obtain by means of another perception.
But we feel persuaded that we are able to proceed beyond a conception, and to extend our cognition a priorI. We attempt this in two ways--either, through the pure understanding, in relation to that which may become an object of experience, or, through pure reason, in relation to such properties of things, or of the existence of things, as can never be presented in any experience.
This sceptical philosopher did not distinguish these two kinds of judgements, as he ought to have done, but regarded this augmentation of conceptions, and, if we may so express ourselves, the spontaneous generation of understanding and reason, independently of the impregnation of experience, as altogether impossible.
The so-called a priori principles of these faculties he consequently held to be invalid and imaginary, and regarded them as nothing but subjective habits of thought originating in experience, and therefore purely empirical and contingent rules, to which we attribute a spurious necessity and universality.
In support of this strange assertion, he referred us to the generally acknowledged principle of the relation between cause and effect.
No faculty of the mind can conduct us from the conception of a thing to the existence of something else; and hence he believed he could infer that, without experience, we possess no source from which we can augment a conception, and no ground sufficient to justify us in framing a judgement that is to extend our cognition a priorI. That the light of the sun, which shines upon a piece of wax, at the same time melts it, while it hardens clay, no power of the understanding could infer from the conceptions which we previously possessed of these substances; much less is there any a priori law that could conduct us to such a conclusion, which experience alone can certify.
On the other hand, we have seen in our discussion of transcendental logic, that, although we can never proceed immediately beyond the content of the conception which is given us, we can always cognize completely a priori--in relation, however, to a third term, namely, possible experience--the law of its connection with other things.
For example, if I observe that a piece of wax melts, I can cognize a priori that there must have been something (the sun's heat) preceding, which this law; although, without the aid of experience, I could not cognize a priori and in a determinate manner either the cause from the effect, or the effect from the cause.