Rand and I contra Kant

I have completed a ten-part essay titled “Rand and I contra Kant”. It addresses almost all of Ayn Rand’s representations and criticisms of Kant’s philosophy, all of my criticisms of Rand in those writings, and some of my criticisms of Kant. This serial essay is posted here: https://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?/topic/36888-rand-and-i-contra-kant/

I’ll post here the tenth part (~J~) as the first Reply under this post.

5 thoughts on “Rand and I contra Kant

  1. In 1975 Rand composed an essay she titled “From the Horse’s Mouth.” She had been reading a book by Friedrich Paulsen (1846–1908) titled Immanuel Kant: His Life and Doctrines, published in 1898 and translated from German to English in 1902.

    The horse Rand was referring to was Immanuel Kant. She took Paulsen to be “a devoted Kantian” giving a fair reflection of Kant in this book, a modest commentator, not of the stature of the originator of the system that is transcendental idealism, but a philosopher parlaying Kant’s ideas in an exceptionally honest way. She took Paulsen’s Kantian views at late nineteenth century to illustrate what she took to be the fundamental cause—philosophic influence of Kant—of twentieth-century progress being, in her estimation, second-rate in comparison to what had been accomplished in the nineteenth century. Indeed, she took the Kant influence to be the reason one could no longer go to the theater and expect to find a great new play such as Cyrano de Bergerac (1897), rather, productions such as Hair or Grease.

    In the Preface of the second edition (1899) of Immanuel Kant: His Life and Doctrine, Paulsen lamented that belief in ideas, such belief in ideas as Kant and Lessing had exhibited and imparted to the nineteenth century at its beginning, had “gradually given way to belief in the external forces and material goods that now dominate our life. Nevertheless, as in families the grandson may resemble the grandfather, so it may perhaps happen in history; perhaps the twentieth century will be more like the eighteenth than the nineteenth.” Not that Paulsen hoped for a revival of the intuitionistic formalism in ethical theory (Kant) of the eighteenth century.

    Alongside being a philosopher (metaphysics, knowledge, ethics) and historian of philosophy, Paulsen was a famous conservative educator and commentator on current affairs in Germany. He saw at the turn into the new century a “general breakdown of traditional patterns of authority and respect” (Aschheim 1992, 37). That was why, according to Paulsen, the youth were so attracted to Nietzsche.

    Rand was correct in her essay when she described Paulsen as an admirer of Kant, but she erred in taking Paulsen to be a Kantian. Neither was he a post-Kantian, which anyway is too revisionary of Kant to pass off as genuinely Kantian. No, the correct classification of Paulsen would be post-idealist, meaning following on the entire load of German Idealism. Paulsen had been a grad student under Trendelenburg, a major late German-Idealist.

    A few months after Paulsen’s death, Frank Thilly, composed a review essay titled “Friedrich Paulsen’s Ethical Work and Influence” (1907). Thilly had been the graduate student of Kuno Fischer and Friedrich Paulsen. Thilly had translated Paulsen’s most important philosophical work A System of Ethics (1889) into English in 1899. https://archive.org/details/asystemethics00thilgoog/page/n18/mode/2up That is, Thilly translated the first three of the four books constituting that work. Those three books come to over 700 pages. Paulsen’s critique of Kant’s duty-consumed and a-prioristic-intuitionalistic ethics runs to 13 pages; it is not different than the critique Rand and others would make across the decades since then. The ethical views that Paulsen himself espouses are not Kantian.

    In her essay, Rand did not seem aware that in Paulsen’s view it is the effects of an act that make it right or wrong, contra Kant. Then too, Paulsen rejected hedonism. It is life, not pleasure that is the ultimate good. The proper end of the will is action, not feeling. The highest good of human life is its objective content, including perfection of psychical powers and including pleasure (Thilly 1909, 146). “The highest good for man, that upon which his will is finally directed, is a complete human life; that is, a life that leads to the full development and exercise of all capacities and endowments, particularly the highest, the mental and moral capacities of the rational personality” (quoted in Thilly 1909, 146–47).

    The highest good “consists in the perfect development and exercise of life” (Paulsen 1889, 251). “In the moral sphere, every excellence or virtue [positive ones, not absences of wrong] is an organ of the whole, and at the same time forms a part of life; it is therefore, like the whole, an end in itself” (Paulsen 1889, 276). This is like Rand in seeing the individual whole life as an end in itself, but differs from Rand in giving virtue (the positive ones) not only a means-value, but an end-in-itself-value on account of being not only in a relation of service to the living whole, but in a relation of part in the constitution of the living whole. Similarly, Paulsen takes the individual life as part of the sphere of civilization and nonetheless as an end in itself.
    Paulsen recasts certain aspects of the ethics of Kant, Hegel, and Schopenhauer partly from variance with them on ordinary manifest human nature, but also by explaining those aspects in terms of the modern theory of evolution, which was not available for assimilation into those systems of metaphysics or ethics. The metaphysics on which Paulsen rests his ethical theory contains a teleological element, expansive in the way of Aristotle, not rightly confined to the realm of life, which was the confinement Rand gave to teleology in her golden insight. The take of Paulsen and many other intellectuals in the late nineteenth century was that the process of evolutions was teleological, rather than rightly understanding that novel generation and natural selection explained the appearance of teleology at work in biological nature—apart from intentionality in we higher animals.

    In his book on Kant, the book about which Rand wrote, Paulsen devotes pages 324–33 to criticism of Kant’s ethics. The portions of this book of about 400 pages that Rand made use of in her essay were pages 1–6. Rand’s marginalia in Paulsen’s book, the marginalia published in Mayhew 1995 (40–46), span the first 143 pages of Paulsen’s book. It is only after that point of the book that Paulsen digs into the Critique of Pure Reason; the Prolegomena; Kant on traditional issues in metaphysics; Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science; Kant’s moral philosophy; and Kant’s theory of the law, the state, and religion.

    Rand used only those first few pages of Paulsen’s Immanuel Kant: His Life and Doctrine. She was struck by his opening picture in which religion, philosophy, and science all bear truths of reality, that “the history of philosophy shows that its task consists simply in mediating between science and religion,” and that Kant had created a peace pact between science and religion. She was rightly appalled that science and religion or reason and feeling should be regarded as each having rightful claims to truth. She took Paulsen to be claiming, at the end of the nineteenth century, that philosophy is the handmaiden of theology. Well, as a matter of fact, that was what I was learning from my Thomist philosophy professor in my first course in philosophy in 1967. It is nothing foreign to America or Europe to this day, pretty sure.

    Paulsen was certainly wrong in saying that the task of philosophy is “simply” mediating between science and religion, in his day, Kant’s, or ours, if the translation “simply” is intended to imply that that is the only function served by philosophy.

    Rand paints a picture in this essay (and in FNI) in which men were getting over the ancient split between mind and body and between morality and the physical world until Kant “revived” and steadied the split. Rand overcame the latter split by her theory of value in general and moral value in particular. She overcame, or anyway attempted to overcome, the former split by her metaphysics.

    The Kantian division of reason and faith, she alleges, “allows man’s reason to conquer the material world, but eliminates reason from the choice of the goals for which material achievement are used. Man’s goals, actions, choices and values—according to Kant—are to be determined irrationally, i.e., by faith” (79). Well, no, that is not Kant, and differently, not Paulsen either.

    Rand thought that the Kantian picture painted by Paulsen at the outset of this book, if typical of intellectuals at the end of the nineteenth century, surely would doom the twentieth century (to 1975) to what she saw as its declining achievements and to the century’s totalitarian states and the Holocaust. The outset-picture of Paulsen was not untypical among philosophers of Idealist stripe, though we should keep in mind that German Idealism (and its posts) was not the only major philosophy on the scene and the season of German Idealism was coming to an end. The conflict of faith and reason tearing apart integrated life and the award to faith the province of values continues to this day, as it did in the age of Copernicus. It did not and does not require the thoughts of Kant on it for its continuation. The Baptist University across town does not require Kant for continuing their faith-based rejection of the scientific account of the formation of the earth or of the biological evolution of our kind or of the separability of body and soul or of the other-worldly source of morals and home of the righteous.


    Aschheim, S. E. 1992. The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany 1890–1990. California.

    Mayhew, R., editor, 1995. Ayn Rand’s Marginalia. Ayn Rand Institute Press.

    Paulsen, F. 1889. A System of Ethics. F. Thilly, translator. 1899. Charles Scribner’s Sons.
    ——. 1898. Immanuel Kant: His Life and Doctrine. J. E. Creighton and A. Lefevre, translators. 1902. Charles Scribner’s Sons.

    Rand, A. 1975. From the Horse’s Mouth. In Philosophy: Who Needs It. 1982. Signet.

    Thilly, F. 1909. Friedrich Paulsen’s Ethical Work and Influence. The International Journal of Ethics V19N2:10–55.


  2. Thanks for posting this, Stephen. I so far have only had a chance to take a glance at them, but a relevant bit of news: Carrie-Ann Biondi tells me that Reason Papers is publishing the exchange between George Walsh and Fred Miller on Rand on Kant that was first presented in 1992 at the APA. I’m certain you were there. George’s paper was published in JARS, but I got permission from both George and Fred many years ago to publish the two pieces side by side in Reason Papers. RP just never got around to it, but I believe that will happen within the year, possibly with some additional commentaries commissioned.

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    • Irfan, I was not at that ARS session, but I had those papers, and in 2010, I wrote and posted online a large paper on George’s paper. It is no longer online. But here it is. (Page citations are to the JARS issue of the paper.) I don’t know if I agree now with everything I wrote in this paper. In recent years, I have acquired more new books on Kant and his views in and on metaphysics.
      ON WALSH ON RAND ON KANT – Between Metaphysics and Science

      In his paper “Ayn Rand and the Metaphysics of Kant” (2000), George Walsh presents some of Kant’s metaphysics and conception of metaphysics and compares them to Rand’s. I shall discuss this presentation and comparison here. I shall also add points of comparison in the metaphysics of Kant and Rand not treated by Walsh.

      Professor Walsh includes remarks on some misconceptions of Rand’s concerning Kant’s philosophy. I shall omit discussion of that in the present study. I wish to point out, however, that Kant had a good many misconceptions about the philosophies of his early modern predecessors (Garber and Longuenesse 2008). Our own careful study of earlier philosophies can set right the history, and our comparisons of later with earlier philosophies can deepen our understanding of them and sharpen the eye for philosophic truth.

      Walsh delivered this paper at the 1992 meeting of the Ayn Rand Society. The responder was Fred Miller, who addressed Rand’s alleged misconceptions about Kant’s theoretical philosophy. Professor Miller readily affirmed the disparity between views that Rand attributes to Kant and Kant’s own characterization of his position. Miller argued, however, that Rand’s characterizations accurately identify fundamental implications or presuppositions of Kant’s metaphysics and epistemology. He concurs with Rand that these doctrines of Kant are erroneous. He remarked how far Rand’s philosophy stands in need of elucidation and development to provide a full counterweight to Kant’s (Miller 2001). Very little of what I discuss below overlaps Miller’s paper. Our comments on Walsh’s paper complement each other.

      Kant’s first critique is titled Critique of Pure Reason (KrV), not Critique of Metaphysics. His project is a critique of pure reason, within which metaphysics is reined in and reconfigured (1783, §40; KrV Bxxii–xxiii). Pure reason is the instrument by which any science, including a science of metaphysics, can have its principles established in a “law-given way,” its “determining concepts” established distinctly, and its proofs made rigorous (Bxxxvi–xxxvii).

      Walsh rightly observes that Kant speaks of metaphysics in its first and second parts (Bxviii–xx; Walsh 2000, 74–75). Kant’s first part is that part of metaphysics dealing with “those a priori concepts for which corresponding objects adequate to these concepts can be given in experience” (Bxviii–xix). Kant thinks he has set the first part of metaphysics on a secure path (ibid.). Pure reason has now (1787) provided “satisfactory proofs for the laws that lie a priori at the basis of nature considered as the sum of objects of experience” (Bxix). He thinks he accomplished that in the Aesthetic and Analytic parts of the Critique of Pure Reason and in Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (1786). The latter work is not assimilated in Walsh’s analysis of Kant’s view of metaphysics. Walsh’s picture has an imbalance on account of this, to which we shall come.

      In what Kant refers to as the second part of metaphysics, we are driven to “consider objects insofar as they can merely be thought, though thought necessarily, but cannot at all be given in experience (at least not in the way in which reason thinks them)” (Bviii). The most essential concern of this second part is to go beyond the boundary of possible experience with our a priori power to cognize (Bxix–xx). Mind you, the thinkable need not be the knowable (Bxxvi). This second part of metaphysics is treated in the Dialectic part of Critique of Pure Reason, following the Aesthetic and Analytic.

      The preceding report of Kant’s partition of the first and second parts of metaphysics is my own. Walsh’s way of presenting Kant’s partition is as follows. He points out that in Kant’s view the question of whether the universe is eternal belongs to the second part, not the first (Walsh 2000, 75; KrV A410–13 B436–40; A426–34 B454–62). He characterizes Kant’s first-part metaphysics as dealing with such questions as “whether everything that happens has a cause,” where the happenings are among objects “we are capable of experiencing” (Walsh 2000, 74–75). The issue of whether the universe is eternal is second-part, not first-part, because the universe considered collectively as a whole “is not an object we are capable of experiencing” (75). Yes, that is true of Kant’s view, but how can it be squared with Kant’s statement that for metaphysics in the first part pure reason has supplied “proofs for the laws that lie a priori at the basis of nature considered as the sum of objects in experience”?

      Is not “considered collectively as a whole” the same as “considered as the sum of objects”? No. “The world is a sum of appearances” (KrV A696 B724). It is something more to think of the sum of appearances as “the mathematical whole of all appearances and the totality of their synthesis on both the large and the small scale, i.e., the totality of the synthesis as it advances both by composition and by division” (ibid.). It is yet something more to think of the sum of appearances as “a dynamical whole and take account, not of the aggregation in space and time in order to bring this aggregation about as a magnitude, but of the unity in the existence of appearances” (ibid.)

      To consider time or space on ever larger or ever smaller scales up to or down to a completed infinity is, in Kant’s view, not possible in concreto (A426 B454; A430–32 B458–60; A464 B492). Walsh is correct to say that the question of whether the universe is eternal belongs to Kant’s second part of metaphysics, because the totality of ever-larger times of existence of the universe is not susceptible to being an object of our experience (A462 B490). It concerns only a limiting idea that “empirical synthesis can only approach” (A479 B507). We cannot cognize the objects of such an idea in any single concrete experience. In any possible perception, “you always remain encumbered by conditions, whether conditions in space or in time; you never get to anything unconditioned, in order to establish whether the unconditional is to be posited in an absolute beginning of the synthesis or in an absolute totality of the series without any beginning” (A483 B511).

      The issue of whether the world (the universe) is eternal in its past existence cannot be resolved by theoretical reason and the understanding concerned with objects of possible experience. As merely an idea, the world having a beginning is not foreclosed as a possible intellectual presupposition and faith required for practical, moral concerns (A470 B498; A495–96 B523–24).

      Kant concedes that “if both the conditioned and its condition are things in themselves, and if the conditioned has been given, then . . . this condition is thereby actually already given with the conditioned. And since this holds for all members of the series, the complete series of conditions—and hence also the unconditioned—is given, or rather, presupposed simultaneously through the fact that the conditioned, which was possible only through that series, is given” (A498 B526). However, in Kant’s view, things are given to us never in themselves, but always in appearance. To cognize an infinite space or time of the world would be to cognize a magnitude of the world as it “must lie in itself, apart from all experience.” But this contradicts the concept of a “sensible world, which is merely a sum total of appearance, whose existence and connection takes place only in representation, namely in experience . . . . Since the concept of a sensible world existing for itself is self-contradictory, any solution to this problem as to its magnitude will always be false, whether the attempted solution be affirmative or negative” (1783, §52c). The self-contradictory is not “unifiable in a concept” (§53).

      The knowable world is only a sum of appearance, and indeed time is a form in which any appearance is synthesized. On this view, past time must be understood only as in the regression of synthesis of appearance from present appearance. The preceding conditions of the present conditioned appearance in space and time are not to be presupposed as givens of present appearance, rather they must be synthesized in a regression from present appearance (KrV A498–99 B527).

      In the axiomatic proposition “Existence exists” Rand was including affirmation of the thesis that “nature, i.e., the universe as a whole, cannot be created or annihilated, that it cannot come into or go out of existence” (1973, 25).[url=http://rebirthofreason.com/Forum/ObjectivismQ&A/0242_1.shtml#20]*[/url] Rand has only one metaphysics. Its generals are “Existence exists,” “Existence is identity,” and “Consciousness is identification.” To those and their elucidation the fact and nature of living existents must be expressly added, but that is within the general metaphysics of existence and identity (see also Peikoff 1991, 188–93). The living existence of the one who identifies gets connected with (by simple identity) a specific and particular (now explicitly articulated) living existent. In the end, Rand can say, all within a single metaphysics, that her morality “is contained in a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live” (Rand 1957, 1018).

      Walsh maintains that Kant agrees with Aristotle’s definition of metaphysics as the study of being qua being. He quotes Kant (KrV A845 B873) saying that metaphysics is “‘philosophy . . . that considers everything . . . insofar as it is’” (Walsh 2000, 74). Rand regarded metaphysics as “the study of existence as such or, in Aristotle’s words, of being qua being” (1974, 3; Metaph. 1003a21–22; Barnes 1995). It would seem from that quotation that Kant is in step with Aristotle and Rand on this general point. He is not. (Rand’s conception of metaphysics is in fact somewhat different than Aristotle’s, but this point will have to lie still a few minutes. Rand’s conception is far less distant from Aristotle’s than Kant’s is distant from Aristotle’s; see Den Uyl and Rasmussen 1984, 4–9).

      What is in Kant’s text in those ellipses? Just before that brief quotation with double elision Walsh writes that, as with Rand, with Kant also “the function of metaphysics is to provide man with a unitary world-view” (Walsh 2000, 74). What Walsh is attempting to reflect in that mild statement is what was in Kant’s sentence preceding his double-elision quote of Kant text at A845 B873. Walsh was using the Kemp Smith translation, so that is what I shall use for these two sentences. (All other KrV quotes from me are in the Pluhar translation.)

      “All pure a priori knowledge, owing to the special faculty of knowledge in which alone it can originate, has in itself a peculiar unity; and metaphysics is the philosophy which has as its task the statement of that knowledge in this systematic unity. Its speculative part, which has especially appropriated this name, namely, what we entitle metaphysics of nature, and which considers everything in so far as it is (not that which ought to be) by means of a priori concepts, is divided in the following manner.” (A845 B873)

      Neglect that manner of further division. Just now consider all the rest of this full-quoted passage. It is incorrect to report of this passage that the function of metaphysics is to provide a unitary world-view and that metaphysics (of nature) is philosophy that considers everything as it is. Metaphysics for Kant has its unity from the faculty of a priori knowledge, the faculty of pure reason, not on account of unity in being. To determine things insofar as they are by means of a priori concepts is, for Kant, to determine them as far as they are structured by the ideas of pure reason and the categories of the understanding, not so far as they are given to sense, understanding, and reason.

      It is an equivocation on world to say Kant and Rand agree that metaphysics is to provide a “unitary world-view.” In Rand’s view (and mine), we do not begin philosophic thinking from some sort of “world” or “ground” or “plane” of indeterminate and “neutral” ontology. The concept of successful, cognitive thought precedes, logically and genetically, the concept of mere thought. We begin with and hold intransigently to the only world: existence. Analogous worlds are part of the one, not utter alternates to it. The world is before our experience, memory, or view of it. The concept the world is logically and genetically prior to the concept the world as in my view of it. And if the latter is something more than my view of the world, then it is even further embellished upon its prior world. Existence as it is in thought is prior to any thought of existence as it is in thought. Existence known as it is precedes, temporally and logically, existence known as in appearance, even were the appearance never illusory.

      Kant would not have us dispense with the notion that there are things as they are in themselves, even though they are unknowable in metaphysics or any other science. “Otherwise an absurd proposition would follow, viz., that there is appearance without anything that appears” (Bxxvii; also B306–9; A45–46 B62–63; A696 B724). Good point. However, Kant also reasons that to dispense with things as they are in themselves would be to suppose that our own means of the cognition of things are the only possible means. That would be taking “principles of the possibility of experience for universal conditions on things in themselves” (1783, §57). Again, with Rand: The idea of such radically alternative means of cognition of things presupposes the idea of means of cognition, which presupposes means of cognizing at least some things not only as they are in cognition, but as they are without cognition (Rand 1957, 1015–16; 1966–67, 80–81). Some structure of things in cognition can lie in structure of the world as it is independently of cognition, and these can be given in and found out by our cognition of things (Rand 1957, 1015–17, 1040–41; 1966–67, 80–81; see also Kelley 1986, 226–28, 242, 111–20, 228–34. “‘Things as they are’ are things as perceived by your mind” (Rand 1957, 1036).

      Walsh is in error also when he writes that the conceptions of metaphysics of Kant and Rand “agree in two points: that metaphysics is the study of everything as it is, or of being qua being, and that the fundamental issues of existence fall within the scope of metaphysics” (Walsh 2000, 76). The latter agreement is so. The former is not.

      We should also take care to notice—and Walsh gave some indication of this (2000, 89–90)—that for Kant there is not only the metaphysics of things as they are (appearance), which Kant calls metaphysics of nature and which has those first and second parts. There is also the metaphysics of what ought to be. Both the metaphysics of “it is” and the metaphysics of “it ought to be” issue from the sea of pure reason.

      Walsh mentions in his comparison of the Kantian and Randian concept of metaphysics that because Rand would not recognize the ultimate incapability of the human mind to answer any and all sound metaphysical questions, she would “call Kant a skeptic in this matter, and he would call her a dogmatist. This is a basic difference between them.” (Walsh 2000, 76; also 96). I should suggest that Walsh is not really saying all he knows under those words. By Rand’s arrival—steps missing as may be—at definite answers on some of the metaphysical questions Kant poses as having no possible disposition by reason one way or the other, he would likely see Rand not only as dogmatic rather than skeptic in these matters. More importantly for Kant, and for Fichte following on, would be that Rand has not bought into the critical project, which is Kant’s removal of wheels not only from dogmatic wagons, such as Spinoza’s or Wolff’s, but from skeptic wagons, such as Berkeley’s or Hume’s (1783 §57and 4:374–75; KrV B19–23).

      There were supposedly irresolvable conflicting dogmatic, reasoned answers on what Kant took to be questions for reason alone, with no possible settlement by empirical confrontation. Some of these are proving to be partly susceptible to modern science after all. I am referring to Kant’s Antinomies of Pure Reason in the Dialectic part of Critique of Pure Reason (A420–61 B448–89; Bennett 1974, 114–227; Grier 2001, 172–229; Abela 2002, 217–30). Under Rand’s philosophy, part of the first antinomy (whether the world had a beginning and whether space is endless) can be settled partly by metaphysics and partly by science. The second antinomy (whether every complex substance consists of utterly simple parts and nothing more) can be settled largely by science. The third (whether everything in the world occurs under lawfully determined causes, not also some free causes) can be settled by philosophy and science. The fourth (whether in the world, or beyond it, there is any absolutely necessary being) can be settled by metaphysics. Rand will not accept the reasons offered for the critical stance in the first place, in the Aesthetic and Analytic, and the supposedly irresolvable character of these four antinomies does not strengthen Kant’s case for that stance.

      What Kant calls reason, imagination (cognitive), and understanding is together what Rand calls man’s reason, “the faculty that perceives, identifies, and integrates the material provided by his senses” (1957, 1016). Kant and Rand agree, contrary Plato and Leibniz, that those powers of cognition do not “defy the bounds of all experience” (KrV A702 B730). “All our cognition starts from the senses, proceeds from there to understanding, and ends with reason, beyond which there is found in us nothing higher to work on the material of {sensible} intuition and bring it under the highest unity of thought” (A298–99 B355). Yet, the most fundamental concepts, the a priori concepts called the categories of pure understanding “are not, as regards their origin, based on sensibility, as are the forms of intuition, space and time; they therefore seem to admit of an application expanded beyond all objects of the senses. Yet they themselves are in turn nothing but forms of thought that contain merely the logical ability to unite a priori in one consciousness the manifold given in {sensory} intuition” (B305–6; also A85–91 B118–23).

      For Rand our powers of conceptual cognition are not a priori powers in Kant’s sense of the a priori, nor in pre- or post-Kantian senses (Rand 1970; 1966–67, 77; Peikoff 1967, 93, 97–98, 107–9, 116–17; Walsh 2000, 100). “Logic rests on the axiom existence exists” (Rand 1957, 1016). Furthermore, Rand does not agree with Kant that reason is necessarily under a systematic cognitive illusion of thinking that certain wholes and unities are in the world, whereas truly they are only regulative ideas generated by reason. Rand holds that the whole and all the unity that is existence—exists (1957, 1016; 1966–67, 39).

      Walsh mentions that Kantian intuition is independent as an element in human knowledge (2000, 81). “Intuition in no way requires the function of thought” (KrV A91 B123). Unfortunately, Walsh quotes this statement of Kant’s without indicating its context. This can give the false impression that Kant accepts the cognitive autonomy of perception in the way of Rand and Kelley or the eminent direct realist A. D. Smith (Rand 1962, 19–20; 1966–67, 5, 50–51; Kelley 1986, 49–50, 147–50, 203–18; 1991, 171–78; Smith 2002, 94–121, 133–64). Under this false impression, there is sensible intuition, and cognition “proceeds from there to understanding . . .” (A298–99 B355). Dramatically unlike Rand, however, Kant does not think sensory presentations can be cognitive without synthetic a priori forms of intuition supplied by the side of the subject and without a common synthetic a priori source from the side of the subject for those forms and for the fundamental, synthetic a priori concepts of the understanding, without which no other concepts are possible (A 124–25, B 137–38, B151–54, B160–63, A142–43 B182, A145–46 B185; Bauer 2008).

      Preceding the A845 B873 passage quoted above, Kant has put forth the mark by which he thinks metaphysics should be distinguished from other science. (In the old-fashioned way, Kant speaks of mathematics, logic, and metaphysics as sciences.) Metaphysics is, as others allegedly had said, “a science of the first principles of human cognition.” However: “They were indicating not a quite special kind of cognition but only a status of cognition in regard to generality. Hence metaphysics could not thereby be differentiated discernibly from the empirical. For even among empirical principles some are more general and therefore higher than others . . .” (A843 B871). Metaphysics must be distinguished by its difference of origin. Metaphysics originates in the a priori (synthetic a priori; B18), like mathematics, and that is how it is set apart from empirical science. The difference between metaphysics and mathematics is that the a priori judgments of the latter are “made only by constructing concepts” (A844 B872). Mathematics is cognition through construction of concepts, through a priori exhibition of intuition corresponding to the concept, where the intuitions pertain to our forms of sensibility (A712–35 B740–63; 1783, §§ 6–13, 36–38). Metaphysics is discursive cognition through mere concepts (Bxiv; see further, 1783, §4). Intuitions are singular and immediate (A19–21 B33–35, A24–25 B39, A42–43 B59–60; see further, Friedman 2000). Discursive concepts are general and mediate (A31–32 B47, A67–68 B92–93, A140–41 B179–80, A725 B753, B136–38).

      The necessary concepts of pure reason for second-part metaphysics are not arbitrary, but no experiential object of the understanding corresponds to them. Rather, they concern the entire use of the understanding and concern “all experiential cognition as being determined by an absolute totality of conditions” (A329 B384). Second-part metaphysics “deals not with the objects of reason, which are infinitely diverse, but merely with [reason] itself. [Here reason] deals with problems that arise entirely from its own womb; they are posed to it not by the nature of things distinct from it, but by its own nature” (B23). (In translated quotations from Kant, square brackets indicate text inserted by the translator; curly braces indicate text inserted by me.)

      Kant had pondered in detail in his prize essay of 1763 the likeness and difference between cognition in mathematics and in metaphysics. His conception in the Critique of Pure Reason first edition (1781), retained in the second edition (1787), that metaphysics is “a science of the first principles of human cognition” is found in the precritical prize essay as well. Therein Kant had written “metaphysics is nothing other than the philosophy of the fundamental principles of our cognition” (2:283).

      Whether the philosopher were Plato, Aristotle, or a Medieval: to the nature of fundamental being and the nature of our own being there had always been some account suited to those beings of how our knowledge is structured and comes about. With Descartes there is a pronounced shift away from the study of being qua being in metaphysics, which he termed first philosophy (Garber 1992, 60). Focus in his first philosophy is shifted to the account of our cognition of being. The self as thinking and fallible being is indubitable being and is essential to discovery of any other being. Knowing his own essence as well as his fallibility and its sources, Descartes knows there is perfect truth, the spiritual being God, beyond his own soul, God whose nature assures truth and right method to human beings (Descartes 1637, part 4; 1644, 9–10; 1641; Carriero 2009).

      Leibniz writes in New Essays on Human Understanding (1704)
      “To say that metaphysics is the “Science of Being” in general, which explains the principles of Being and the affections to which it gives rise; and to say that the principles of Being are Essence and Existence, and that . . . and to use each of these terms only with vague notions and verbal distinctions—that is just to abuse the name “science.” . . . As for real metaphysics, we are all but beginning to get it established, and are discovering important general truths based on reason and confirmed by experience, which hold for substances in general. I hope that I too have contributed a little to what is known of the soul, and of spirits, in general. That is the sort of metaphysics which Aristotle asked for . . . [Metaph. 982a15]. It was to relate to the other theoretical sciences as the science of happiness does to the [practical] arts upon which it relies, and as the architect does to the builders. That is why Aristotle said that the other sciences depend upon metaphysics as the most general science, and should know their principles from metaphysics which is where they {the borrowed principles} are demonstrated. It should also be understood that metaphysics relates to true moral philosophy as theory to practice. That is because of the dependence on the doctrine of substances in general of that knowledge about spirits—and especially about God and the soul—which gives to justice and to virtue their proper extent.” (431–32; also 449–50)

      When Kant writes in his mature philosophy that metaphysics is a science of the first principles of human cognition, he is acknowledging an aspect of metaphysics that had been around since the Greeks. Kant’s statement has a Cartesian ring, but when it is joined with his remarks on the metaphysics of nature, we see that for Kant metaphysics is not wound down so tightly to considerations of pure consciousness as in Descartes, nor so tightly to self-consciousness, the Leibnizian way of insight into substance and its unity. The side of the subject remains paramount for Kant as for those two, though in Kant’s analysis, he will conclude that God and the immortal soul are not knowable strictly speaking.

      For Rand the place and nature of consciousness is express in the core moments of her metaphysics. “Existence exists—and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists” (Rand 1957, 1015). Again, “Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification” (1016). Walsh does not mention Kant’s statement that “metaphysics is a science of the first principles of human cognition,” but he observes that for Kant metaphysics is “knowledge about objects in general” (2000, 83). And Walsh displays Kant’s concern with how and to what extent knowledge of metaphysics is possible, within the general epistemological question of how synthetic a priori knowledge is possible. I observe that Rand’s express treatment of consciousness in her basic metaphysics is situated in and sensitive to the wake of modern philosophy, including that of Kant, but her primacy of existence over consciousness aligns her craft with the contrary wake of Parmenides and Aristotle (Rand 1973, 24–25; Den Uyl and Rasmussen 1984, 3–5, 11–13; Peikoff 1991, 4–5, 23; Machan 1992, 33–34, 50–52; Kelley 1994, 95; Gotthelf 2000, 37–39).

      Rand’s metaphysics is as opposed to Kant’s as it is to those of Descartes and Leibniz. Where Rand’s metaphysics is more like Kant’s than those of Parmenides or Aristotle—by its salience of the topic consciousness—Rand’s is not more like Kant’s than like the early moderns whose treatments of consciousness in metaphysics Kant opposes. Rand’s metaphysics is more modern than those of Kant, Leibniz, and Descartes in its preclusion of God and immortality. In this way, too, Rand’s metaphysics opposed Kant’s (while not siding with determinism and materialism).

      Rand’s theoretical philosophy opposes the soundness of philosophic proofs of the existence of God, such as are found in Descartes or Leibniz. Even more it opposes the soundness of Kant’s idealism under which reason is hobbled to the point of agnosticism and dulled to the point of allowing the fantastical belief God to be insinuated as a requirement of rationality.

      In my quotation from Leibniz, he spoke of particular ways in which ethics depends on metaphysics in his system. I have mentioned Rand’s metaphysical setting of ethics in the existence and identity of life and consciousness. In his passage at A845 B873, Kant spoke of his “metaphysics of nature, which considers everything in so far as it is (not that which ought to be) by means of a priori concepts.” Kant has a metaphysics of that which ought to be, a metaphysics of morals, whose laws are the laws of freedom. These laws are of absolutely necessary obligation and are grounded in a priori concepts of pure reason, not in more particular nature of the human being and circumstances of his world (1785, 4:389, 410–14; 1790, 475; 1797, 6:214–18; Wood 1996, xv–xvi, xxx–xxxiii).

      As in the theoretical realm knowing aims at natural law, so in the practical realm hoping aims at happiness. Practical law whose aim is happiness, Kant calls prudential. Practical law whose aim is worthiness to be happy, Kant calls moral (KrV A806 B834).

      Pure reason contains universal principles of the possibility of experience of actions that could and ought to be (A807 B835). These principles “flow from our concepts of reason” (A480 B509). They provide the type of systematic unity Kant calls moral unity. “By contrast, the systematic unity of nature according to speculative principles of reason was incapable of being proved; for although reason has causality with regard to freedom as such, it does not have causality with regard to all of nature; and although moral principles of reason can give rise to free actions, they cannot give rise to natural laws” (A807–8 B835–36).

      The two statements after the first semicolon in that passage resonate with Rand’s distinction in “The Metaphysical versus the Man-Made” (1973; Peikoff 1967, 110–11). It is a real likeness, though only in the veneer. Moral principles of reason, in Rand’s philosophy, do not spring from pure reason, but from the fact and nature of life and from the situation of human consciousness for reality and life. In addition, for Kant moral principles of reason are unconditional moral commands, whereas for Rand moral principles are grasped by reason in its usual empirical campaign, and the concern for worthiness to be happy is tightly woven with the concern for happiness (1974; 1957, 1018, 1020–21, 1059–60; Kelley 1993.

      Part of Kant’s metaphysics of nature “deals with nature as the cognition thereof can be applied in appearance (in concreto)” (A845 B873). In that avenue, reason “contemplates nature as the sum of all objects of the senses, and hence as nature is given to us, but does so only according to a priori conditions under which nature can be given to us at all” (A846 B874). One side of that avenue is “the metaphysics of corporeal nature {which} is called physics, but more specifically—because physics is to contain only the principles of its a priori condition—rational physics” (ibid.). Rational physics incorporates the critical results of the Aesthetic and Analytic into “the understanding’s pure cognition as such that is to be applied to nature,” thereby cleansing mathematical general physics from unnecessary metaphysical hypotheses (A847 B875n). Rational physics is possible by taking from outer sense only what is needed to give us an object. “The object of outer sense is given through the mere concept of matter (impenetrable, inanimate extension)” (A848 B876).

      Kant’s critical idealism not only aims to delimit physics, but to provide an idealist account of the necessity in mathematics and in natural law. The pure understanding is the source of principles under which anything we encounter as an object in general must stand. Those are principles for the application of Kant’s twelve categories of the understanding to objects. They include the mathematical character that is present for intuitions in space and time (extensive magnitude) and for all sensory perception (intensive magnitude). They include also the principles that in all variations of appearance the quantity of substance remains constant, that in all objective temporal successions there is necessary causal connection, and that all objects perceptible in space as simultaneous co-existents are in interaction (A158–218 B197–266).

      There is much in those principles with which Rand concurs except they all have in reverse the true relationship between shape of the glove and shape of the hand, where the former is conceptual understanding and the latter is the world given in perceptual experience. Reason is at work in the activity of human perceptual experience, but reason does not set up a priori forms without which no adequate, coherent perceptual experience is possible. Randian integrations in sensory perception, concepts, propositions, and inference are in no part Kantian pure synthesis (A77 B103). Randian integration is not Kantian synthesis. Then too, Rand’s distinction of content and action in consciousness does not coincide with Kant’s distinction of matter and form in consciousness. Neither does Rand’s concept of form in consciousness coincide with Kant’s (Rand 1966–67, 29–30, 35; Kelley 1986, 41–42, 83–95; Peikoff 1991, 41–48; on Kant’s theory of form and its failure, see Pippin 1982).

      For Kant’s synthetic a priori principles of pure understanding, the mathematical character and necessities in sensory perception and in wider experience come from the faculty of understanding. For Rand (i) quantity, or magnitude, of all concretes and (ii) necessities of substance and causal connection are in the world, where they are found by our perceptual, manipulative, and conceptual capabilities (Rand 1957, 1016, 1036–37, 1040–41; 1966–67, 39; 1969–71, 199–200, 278–79; Peikoff 1967, 106–9; Boydstun 1991, 1–43; 2004, 273–74. Measurement and conceptual organization are from us, but so far as we are successful in comprehending the world, the magnitude structures and the necessities of space, time, and causation belong to the world. There is structure of dimensionality and similarity in the world shown in perception and available for conceptual identification. There are objective relationships in the world, standing without our cognizance, ready for grounding conceptual organizations of species-genus hierarchies and logical rules such as non-contradiction.

      Rand is right to reject the idea that all relations among concretes are ideal, are not in the world apart from mind. She is right to reject most emphatically the ideality of spatial and temporal relations, whether in the Kantian mode or the several other modes in the history of philosophy. Notwithstanding the ways in which Rand misunderstands Kant’s philosophy in her essay “For the New Intellectual,” she is right to stress that basic concepts such as time, space, and existence have their basis in reality directly perceived and are not ultimately merely forms brought from the perceiving and conceiving subject to experience and reality (Rand 1961, 31; 1966–67, 5–6; Peikoff 1991, 8, 13; on Kant’s central argument on our cognitive relation to the world, see Bauer 2008).

      Profoundly reversed in Kant too, between shape of glove and hand, besides his synthetic principles of pure understanding, are his categories of the understanding and their schemata and his forms for sensory intuition and their synthetic a priori concepts. Starting with the forms of outer and inner intuitions (space and time as forms of the outer, time as form of the inner) and ending with the synthetic principles of the pure understanding, we have all together the general and a priori metaphysics of nature (nature as the sum of objects in experience) that Kant would supply for the science of physics.

      By the time Kant prepared the second edition of Critique of Pure Reason (1787), he had accomplished his treatise Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (1786). In Foundations he had composed a special and a priori metaphysics of nature to connect the general metaphysics of nature with physics (1786, 4:469–70). His remarks about transcendental philosophy and physics in the second-edition Preface of the first Critique are made with the developments of that latter work as part of his established view. Physics seeks that which it “must learn from nature and would know nothing of on its own” only in accordance with what “reason itself puts into nature” (Bxiv).

      In the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant countered a misunderstanding evidenced by critics of the first edition. They had treated his idealism as if it were the idealism of Berkeley, whose Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous had lately received a fresh translation into German. Kant replied in Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783) that in his Critique he had not argued skepticism of the objects of experience; he had argued that and how we have a priori cognition of the objects of experience. This Kant had done by arguing that space and time are not empirical representations, but are a priori forms necessary for any experience of objects. Space and time for Kant are ideal, but not because the material world is ideal (1783 4:374–75). Kant now prefers to call his type of idealism not simply transcendental. He calls his idealism formal, in contrast to Berkeley’s dogmatic or material idealism, and he calls his idealism critical, in contrast to Descartes’ skeptical idealism (also B519n). All three adjectives are accurate for Kant’s idealism: critical, transcendental, and formal.

      In the second edition of the first Critique, Kant withdraws some first-edition stress on the ideality of outer experience (A367–76) and adds stress to what I call his “primacy of outer intuition.” On the latter, consider his additions Refutation of Idealism (B774–79; see further Westfall 2004) and General Comment on the System of Principles (B288–94). From the latter:

      “In order to understand the possibility of things as consequent upon the categories, and hence in order to establish the categories’ objective reality, we need not merely intuitions but indeed always outer intuitions. If we take, e.g., the pure concepts of relation {the categories inherence (and substance), causality, and community}, we find: (1) In order to give, as corresponding to the concept of substance, something permanent in intuition (and thereby establish this concept’s objective reality), we need an intuition in space (an intuition of matter {1786, 4:469–72}); for space alone is determined as permanent, whereas time, and hence whatever is in inner sense, constantly flows. (2) In order to exhibit change, as the intuition corresponding to the concept of causality, we must take as our example motion, as change in space {1786, 4:476–77}; indeed, only thereby can changes, whose possibility no pure understanding can comprehend, be made intuitive. . . . And this intuition is that of the motion of a point in space; solely the point’s existence in different locations . . . is what first makes change intuitive. For in order thereafter to make even internal changes thinkable, we must make time, as the form of inner sense, comprehensible figuratively through a line (i.e., through motion), and hence we must make the successive existence of ourselves in different states comprehensible through outer intuition.” (B291–92)

      In all that sensibleness, Kant is not retreating one inch from his characterization of space as form supplied from the side of the subject, form ideal and without which no outer experience is possible, form that does not exist without the perceiving subject (A26–28 B42–44, A42–43 B59–60, A85–89 B118–22, B148, A492 B520). Kant’s primacy of outer intuition is not Rand’s primacy of existence.

      Walsh focuses on Kant’s conception of metaphysics so much under aspect of critical idealism that he makes too slight Kant’s metaphysics under the aspect of formal idealism and too modest Kant’s conception of and plans for first-part metaphysics. Walsh notes Kant’s remark, in his second-edition Introduction to the first Critique, that he has succeeded in paving the way for metaphysics in the first part to proceed upon the sure path of science. Walsh rightly points to the pavement that is Kant’s theory of the categories, their schemata, and the principles of the faculty of understanding in the Analytic. He omits altogether the further pavement Kant had constructed just before writing the B-Introduction: Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Walsh reports that Kant is not “trying to validate mathematics and natural science, lay their foundations, or make it possible for them to proceed with certainty. This was Descartes’ aim” (Walsh 2000, 78). This is inaccurate.

      Early in the Fifth Meditation, Descartes describes the character of mathematical knowledge. It is knowledge of immutable natures, not framed by their thinker, yet natures that very well might not be found anywhere in the world outside one’s thought. The multitude of figures—and their sizes, situations, movements, and durations—one can think clearly and distinctly far outruns the figures one has experienced through the senses. Mathematical knowledge is knowledge most certainly true. In earlier Meditations, Descartes had attempted to demonstrate that we have some knowledge of an immutable nature and being who is God, whose nature is such that it provides the continuing existence of the world and ourselves and provides ultimate assurance that our clear and distinct ideas are true.

      Descartes allows that the truths of geometry can be certainly known without knowing the metaphysical frame he has discovered for cognition of such truth. But with knowledge of that frame, one can know more perfectly those same certain truths of geometry and other pure and abstract mathematics. For one knows them more by knowing their ultimate metaphysical reasons and their absolute soundness. The same goes for truths of “corporeal nature in so far as it is the object of pure mathematics” (1641 V; see Carriero 2009, 347–56).

      The ways in which the first philosophy of Descartes “validates” geometry and “lays foundations” and “makes certainty possible” for geometry are not more dictatorial than the ways in which the idealism of Kant sets geometry. Kant argued repeatedly that construction in pure intuition is essential to proofs in geometry (KrV A25 B39, B41). In the course of proving his principle of pure understanding that all intuitions are extensive magnitudes, Kant writes:
      I can present no line, no matter how small, without drawing it in thought, i.e., without producing from one point onward all parts little by little and thereby tracing this intuition in the first place. . . . / This successive synthesis of the productive imagination in the generation of shapes is the basis of the mathematics of extension (i.e., geometry) with its axioms. (A162–63 B203–4)

      I should mention, as an aside, that Walsh 2000 is incorrect on page 93 in its inference from a passage from Kant’s “Of Living Forces” (1747) that Kant there anticipated the possibility of non-Euclidean geometry. That inference indicates infirmity in Walsh’s understanding of what are the differences between Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries. Walsh goes on to give a glance into the development of Kant’s conceptions of space across the years. A detailed look at that development is to be found in my 1997. In the Inaugural Dissertation and in the first Critique, Kant makes remarks that actually do have bearing on non-Euclidean geometry by way of contrasting merely logical possibility with synthetic constructability, objective possibility, and universal geometric necessity. He poses as merely free of contradiction: denial of the parallel postulate (1770 2:404; A220–21 B268, A47 B65, A261 B317; A24). A few decades ago, some scholars conjectured that Kant received some suggestion of the possibility of a non-Euclidean geometry, through his correspondence with Lambert in the 60’s. There is no historical evidence for that conjecture, and at any rate, the Critical Kant would have to see the very idea of a non-Euclidean geometry as impossible. To represent the order properties of a line, Kant requires we draw it in the space of pure intuition, which he thinks is necessarily Euclidean. (See Friedman 1992, 80–95, and Hagar 2006.)

      Kant’s formal idealism is set forth as grounding and structuring mathematics and the metaphysics of nature easily as much as Descartes’ rationalism. For Kant empirical truth gets its criterion from coherent use of the understanding under the a priori directive of reason to regard nature as if systematically unified forces attach to it as it is in itself (A650–51 B678–79; A311 B367; 1790, 177–81; Pippin 1982, 205–15). The pure understanding supplies categories and principles, and, applying them to the central concept of a systematic empirical inquiry into some quarter of appearances, it yields laws of nature (1786, 4:469–77, 551).

      Simple empirical principles do not qualify as laws of nature, though of course, experience on which they rest is made possible by Kant’s principles issuing from the pure understanding (A159 B198; 1783 §§15–20, 36; on inadequacy of Kant’s formal-idealism account of empirical intuitions and empirical concepts, see Pippin 1982, 104–23, 143–50). Laws of nature contain the conditions for the necessary unification of particular appearances into one experience; they are the synthetic a priori bases of nature considered as the sum of all possible experience (1783 §§36–38; A114, A125–28, B159–65, A216 B263, A650–51 B678–79). Laws of nature are the a priori ground of empirical principles (1786, 4:469–70).

      In Descartes’ mechanics, elements from his metaphysics enter as justification, directly or nearly directly, for some of his science. Descartes’ first two laws on the persistence of motion together presaged the principle of inertia (Newton’s first law). In justification of those two laws, Descartes appealed to the nature of God and the way in which that nature causes motion in the universe, which God sustains. Within this general view, Descartes appealed to certain ideas of perfection and simplicity. Descartes’ celebrated result, an improvement on Galileo’s forerunner, though still needing completion by Newton, is the principle that a body will move in a straight line and at a constant speed unless interfered with. A stone in a slingshot travels in its whirling circle by an outside constraint. But if we think of the stone at any instant without relations to other instants, its motion is most simple and therefore in some single straight direction. God’s perfection, especially his immutability, entails that the impulse he continually imparts to a moving body he is conserving in existence does not change, unless necessary in order conserve an overall quantity of motion under a collision. So stone in the sling would travel in a straight line at a constant speed, second after second, were it not being interfered with (Descartes 1633, 31–48; 1644, 54–67; Garber 1992, 273–93).

      In Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, he argues for his semblance of Newton’s principle of inertia on grounds of his formal idealism.
      “Natural science presupposes, in the first place, metaphysics of nature. . . . / Proper science, and above all proper natural science, requires a pure part lying at the basis of the empirical part, and resting on a priori cognition of natural things.” (4:469–70)

      “The schema for completeness of a metaphysical system, whether it be of nature in general, or of corporeal nature in particular, is the table of categories. For there are no more pure concepts of the understanding which can be concerned with the nature of things. All determinations of the general concept of a matter in general must be able to be brought under the four classes of [pure concepts of the understanding], those of quantity, of quality, of relation, and finally of modality—and so, too [must] all that may be either thought a priori in this concept, or presented in mathematical construction, or given as a determinate object of experience. . . . / The concept of matter {has here been} carried through all four of the indicated functions of the concepts of the understanding . . . , where in each a new determination of this concept was added.” (4:475-76; see further, Friedman 2001)

      The second determination of the concept of matter adds the quality motion. The third determination is of the concept of matter in its inherent motion as in relation to other such matter. In this third determination, Kant raises his law of inertia (near Newton’s first law, set out a century earlier): “Every change in matter has an external cause. (Every body persists in its state of rest or motion, in the same direction, and with the same speed, if it is not compelled by an external cause to leave this state)” (4:543).

      “Proof: (From general metaphysics we take as basis the proposition that every change has a cause {a synthetic a priori principle of the pure understanding}, and here it is only to be proved of matter that its change must always have an external cause.) Matter, as mere object of the outer senses, has no other determinations except those of external relations in space, and therefore undergoes no change except by motion. With respect to the latter, as change of one motion into another, or of a motion into rest, or conversely, a cause must be found (by the principle of metaphysics). But this cause cannot be internal, for matter has no essential internal determinations or grounds of determination. Hence every change in a matter is based on external causes (that is, a body persists, etc.).” (4:544)

      In addition to their (versions of the) principle of inertia, both Descartes and Kant deduce basic conservation principles of physical science partly from their metaphysics. I have noted that in at least one way, Rand’s metaphysics says more than Kant would allow as knowable within what Kant called the second part of metaphysics. Rand contended that existence always has been and will be. That does not say anything about what physical quantities in the world, if any, are conserved quantities. In Rand’s metaphysics, concrete existents stand in quantitative relations to other concrete existents (and this is distinctively like Kant’s first two synthetic a priori principles of pure understanding), all such quantitative relations being subject to determination by measurement (Rand 1966–67, 39). This feature entails a metaphysical requirement that there are invariant concretes available to serve as standard units or degrees for any of the quantitative relationships in which concretes stand. This, too, says nothing about what physical quantities, if any, are conserved quantities. That I have a reliable protractor does not reveal which, if any, physical quantities related to angular differences are quantities conserved under which transformations. In this respect, as in respect of the law of inertia, Rand’s metaphysics is more modest than Kant’s metaphysics in its first part.

      In his summation, Walsh lists four main ways in which Kant and Rand agree in theoretical philosophy and six ways in which they disagree. The agreements are nothing distinctive to Kant and Rand. Those views, insofar as we take the terms softly enough to say Kant and Rand agree in the views, are common to all philosophers who are not outright irrationalists or skeptics. Those similarities do not add up to kinship, I might add. Walsh’s mission was to extend understanding of Kant and to correct misconceptions about Kant and Kant’s contrasts with Rand, misconceptions stated by Rand and commonly echoed by her adherents. I have challenged and supplemented the doctrines of Kant represented by Walsh in his paper. I have added to the degree of difference between the two, Kant and Rand. That said, since my first study of Critique of Pure Reason, in a graduate seminar took senior year, four decades ago, I have always shared George’s pleasure in following both the mind of Kant and the mind of Rand.


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  3. Of note on history of my paper: https://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/topic/9043-prof-george-walsh-on-rand-and-kant/#comment-107274

    Walsh’s paper, whose right to print, Irfan, you obtained for Carolyn Ray to publish in her attempted continuation of OBJECTIVITY (V3N1), she has fortunately kept online at the following link. That one issue of the journal she succeeded in getting together was later printed hardcopy by the generosity of Robert Campbell, who sent me a copy. At the same time, Walsh’s paper was published hardcopy in JARS. I have fond memories of George. The last I saw him was at a summer seminar of David Kelley’s in the early ’90’s. He had the Parkinson tremors, and he moved slowly, but his mind was fine. http://enlightenment.supersaturated.com/objectivity/walsh1/


    • My certainty that you were at the 1992 ARS/APA meeting has now greatly diminished.

      You’re right, George’s paper was first published in Objectivity, and soon thereafter in JARS.

      The last time I saw George was, I believe, at one of David Kelley’s summer seminars in the early 1990s. I somehow think it was the 1993 one at Roger Williams College, but I’m not certain (so to speak). I do remember studying Kant for my comprehensive exams on the off-day of that conference, reveling in the incongruity of studying Kant at an Objectivist conference. And I did it outside, in the open, for all to see!

      Liked by 1 person

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