Kant and the Need of Reason

Open Access
Xanthis, Andrew John
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Jennifer Mensch, Thesis Supervisor
  • Vincent M Colapietro, Honors Advisor
  • Kant
  • transcendental
  • moral law
  • space
  • difference
  • finitude
At the beginning of the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant calls us to give our attention to a peculiar “fate” of human reason. This fate, he contends, lies in both the inability and ineluctability to address a certain “need” for questioning, of metaphysics as a natural disposition (metaphysica naturalis). What is this “need” in which reason inevitably finds itself caught up? How can we begin to interpret this “need” within Kant’s own corpus? Could Kant’s discussion merely be operative as a “root metaphor”, as some would have it, or is he referring to something more? It is my contention that, in order to properly understand reason’s “need” and its sources, we must follow Kant in undertaking a differentiation. It is in this differentiation of sense and intellect, a being of the “sensible world” and a being of the “intelligible world”, and right and left hands, that we see that this ‘need’ arises out of the very fact of this difference, which is itself the revelation of our finitude as a discord. This fact, revealed most fully by the “moral ought”, expresses the necessity of this “need”.