The Critique of Practical Reason
'The Critique of Practical Reason ' Summary
The first Critique, "of Pure Reason", was a criticism of the pretensions of those who use pure theoretical reason, who claim to attain metaphysical truths beyond the ken of applied reasoning. The conclusion was that pure theoretical reason must be restrained, because it produces confused arguments when applied outside of its appropriate sphere. However, the Critique of Practical Reason is not a critique of pure practical reason, but rather a defense of it as being capable of grounding behavior superior to that grounded by desire-based practical reasoning. It is actually a critique, then, of the pretensions of applied practical reason. Pure practical reason must not be restrained, in fact, but cultivated.
Kant informs us that while the first Critique suggested that God, freedom, and immortality are unknowable, the second Critique will mitigate this claim. Freedom is indeed knowable because it is revealed by the moral law. God and immortality are also knowable, but practical reason now requires belief in these postulates of reason. Kant once again invites his dissatisfied critics to actually provide a proof of God's existence and shows that this is impossible because the various arguments (ontological, cosmological and teleological) for God's existence all depend essentially on the idea that existence is a predicate inherent to the concepts to which it is applied.
Kant insists that the Critique can stand alone from the earlier Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, although it addresses some criticisms leveled at that work. This work will proceed at a higher level of abstraction.
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