I'm reading the Norman Kemp Smith translation of Critique of Pure Reason
. Kant is famous for his analytic/synthetic distinction, but he also subdivides a priori
propositions into pure
. I am trying to understand this distinction. My difficulty is that Kant seems to contradict himself regarding his paradigmatic example of a non-pure a priori
In the Introduction (B 3, end of Section I), Kant defines a pure a priori
proposition to be one which has "no admixture of anything empirical". As an example of a non
-pure proposition, he gives "every alteration has its cause". Alteration, he says, is a concept that one derives from experience. Evidently, involving alteration constitutes an admixture of something empirical.
Okay, fine. But then, a couple of paragraphs later (B 4–5), he gives the proposition "every alteration must have a cause" as an example of a pure a priori
proposition! Here is the relevant quote:
Now it is easy to show that there actually are in human knowledge judgments which are necessary and in the strictest sense universal, and which are therefore pure a priori judgments. If an example from the sciences be desired, we have only to look to any of the propositions of mathematics; if we seek an example from the understanding in its quite ordinary employment, the proposition, 'every alteration must have a cause', will serve our purpose.
How can these claims be reconciled? How can "every alteration must have a cause" be pure
when it involves alteration, which, a page earlier, meant that a proposition was not
I've read a 150 or so pages beyond this point, and I'm enjoying the book, but this contradiction right at the beginning just won't stop bugging me
. I'm hoping that someone here can straighten me out