I. KANT’S POSITION ON THE PROBLEM BETWEEN THEORY AND PRACTICE. ITS MISAPPREHENSION BY THE CRITICS⌅
Among the various dilemmas raised by Kant’s political-moral reflection, a recurrent, as well as crucial one is that opposing theory and practice. The problem not only stands as the title of On the Common Saying (1793),1AA 8: 273-313. Henceforth referred to as “Common Saying.” but reemerges, for instance, in the texts “Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Aim” (1784)2AA 8: 15-32. Henceforth referred to as “Idea.” or Towards Perpetual Peace (1795).3AA 8: 341-385. Henceforth referred to as “Perpetual peace.”
The problem, dichotomic by nature, consists of the difficult relation between the planes of the theoretical and the practical, which, regardless of the field of thought, appear as incongruent, if not condemned to eternal irreconcilability. According to Kant, theory is a complex of rules or principles thought of in their generality, whereas practice is the realization of ends in accordance to such general principles.4 “A sum of rules, even of practical rules, is called theory if those rules are thought as principles having a certain generality, so that abstraction is made from a multitude of conditions that yet have a necessary influence on their application. Conversely, not every doing is called practice, but only that effecting of an end which is thought as the observance of certain principles of procedure represented in their generality.” (AA 8: 275; PP: 279). All citations will be presented in a traditional manner (abbreviation of work, volume of work, number of page(s)). The abbreviation of each work cited finds correspondence in the final bibliographical section. All citations from Kant’s unpublished works have been translated from their original German language into English by ourselves; in the case of Kant’s published works we have resorted to the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant; in the few cases we do not agree with this translation, the translation is our own and only the reference to the German version is presented. But despite the consequential linearity of both definitions, there lies between the two an apparently incontrovertible hiatus created by a number of emerging variants. Namely, so Kant, in any object of consideration there may be an excess of theory and a subsequent lack of experience, or, in turn, an excess of experience and a subsequent lack of premises;5On the one hand, so Kant, “there can be theoreticians who can never in their lives become practical because they are lacking in judgment” (AA 8: 275; PP: 279); on the other hand, however, “even where this natural talent is present there can still be a deficiency in premises, that is, a theory can be incomplete and can, perhaps, be supplemented only by engaging in further experiments and experiences.” (id.) that is, a theory, in order to be true, may lack attempts which precisely complement it-just as experience, in order to be legitimate, may lack a series of premises which justify it. As a result of this it is possible that the practical politician, or moralist, states that something may be true in theory, but “matters are quite different in practice” (AA 8: 276; PP: 279), alleging that, despite the most perfect theory, the human species, as a group of corruptible beings, simply cannot or do not “will” to put theory into practice;6 See Kant’s translation of this in Perpetual Peace: “But now the practical man (for whom morals is mere theory), bases his despairing denial of our benign hope (even while granting ought and can) strictly on this: that he pretends to see in advance, from the nature of the human being, that he is never going to will what is required in order to realize that end leading toward perpetual peace.” (AA 8: 371; PP: 339) just as, conversely, it is possible that the theorist too may despise practice, does not deem it fit or ripe enough to exercise theory and thus delves ever deeper in the abstract. And so, in face of these and other possible objections, theory and practice, instead of one cooperating instance, stand as two different dimensions in all fields of knowledge: a problem that Kant acknowledges as central towards answering the question on the possible or impossible realization of both theoretical and practical ideals.
The importance of this problem, as well as its implications, was actually perceived and tackled not only by Kant, but also by his censors; namely, the censors of the Common Saying, and especially the censors of Towards Perpetual Peace,7 Namely, August Hennings, „Review of «Zum Ewigen Frieden. Ein philosophischer Entwurf von Immanuel Kant»“. Königsberg. 1795., in Genius der Zeit, 1796. 1. St., pp. 126-144; J. G. Fichte, “Review of Kant’s writing «Towards Perpetual Peace»”, in Philosophisches Journal, Vol. 4, pp. 81-92, 1796; Friedrich Murhard, “Is the project of perpetual peace to be executed?“, in Deutsche Monatsschrift. 1797. Januar bis April, 1. Band. Leipzig, pp. 3-8, 1797; Friedrich Murhard, “Is perpetual peace possible, or not, along with the insufficiencies of human nature and the evil inclinations therein enrooted?“, in Deutsche Monatsschrift. 1797. 1. Band. Leipzig, pp. 9-16, 1797; Friedrich Wilhelm v. Schütz, “Kommentar über Kants ewigen Frieden”, in Neuer Niedersächsischer Merkur”, Upsala, 1. Hft., pp. 17-26, 68-74, 1797; Benjamin H. Höijer, “Review”, in Litteratur-Tidning [Upsala], För ar 1796, 2º Vol., 4. Heft, 1796; Ludwig Heinrich Jacob, „Review“ in Annalen der Philosophie und des philosophischen Geistes, Org. Ludwig Heinrich Jacob, 2. Jahr, 3. Heft, 1796; Friedrich Schlegel, „Versuch über den Begriff des Republikanismus“, in Deutschland, Hg. Johann Friedrich Reichardt, 3. Bd., 7. St., pp. 10-41, 1796; Johann Gottfried Herder. Briefe zur Beförderung der Humanität. Zehnte Sammlung, Riga. Bei Johann Friedrich Hartknoch (118. und 119. Briefe), 1797. who may help us better enunciate the problem at hand. According to all of them, Kant’s writings are indeed laudable insofar as they submit to general consideration key notions that may be regarded as auspicious ideals; notions, among others, such as the relation between duty and happiness, Man and the State’s gradual improvement and moral perfecting, the possible attainment of a federation of peoples and its role towards a perpetual peace, or the possible completion and perfection of the dispositions which Nature has in store for all human beings: all, no doubt, crucial topics within Kant’s moral-political thought, and which were indeed intimately related as well as dependent on, Kant’s position on the problem between theory and practice. Something with which, to be fair, Kant did not disagree. Yet, so Kant’s censors, precisely because these crucial topics in Kant’s moral-political thought are intimately connected and singularly dependent on the problem between theory and practice; and because the problem between theory and practice seems to admit only one of two solutions, depending on one’s agreement or disagreement with a possible union between theory and practice: then this meant, to such censors, that a position on the possibility or impossibility of such auspicious notions was exclusively dependent on, as well as apparently restricted to one’s position on theory and practice’s possible or impossible compatibilization. In other words, such issues, as presented by Kant, were seen as true-but mere-reflections of the problem of a possible or impossible alignment, or proportion, between theory and practice. That is, it is the censors’ view that the problem is first and foremost confined to theory and practice; the cause of the problem, to the unavoidable lack of consonance between its two components, which leads to divergence and non-attainability of the ideals; and the solution for the problem, to the need to determine a consonant manifestation of these two dimensions, without which they remain either confined to theory, or abandoned to practice. And so, their positions, either agreeing or disagreeing with Kant, could not but obey what they thought were Kant’s own position on the greater topic in question.
Now, as was said, this is in fact Kant’s initial presentation of the problem: namely, that theory and practice stand as opposites, when they should stand as one. Their separation and the myriad of factors that part them is factual and should not be neglected, and one is to strive towards their mutual consideration. Yet-we state-the fact that Kant himself posits the problem as such does not mean that he limits his view on the issue, or his attempt at solving it, to dealing only with theory and/or practice, nor that this must occur either by engulfing one or suppressing the other. Hence, the fact that Kant’s censors did discern correctly the previous fundamental traits of Kant’s position on the problem does not mean they successfully assessed the true scope of the problem. For, in truth, Kant’s readers correctly identified the problem at hand, identifying the question between theory and practice as being at the heart of Kant’s highest and most important political and moral propositions. But, upon so doing, they inadvertently confined the problem, as well as Kant’s opinion on it, to theory and practice, or to mere possibility and reality-and to these two dimensions only. They identified the cause of the problem as a dissonance between these two-and only two-components and devised its solution as a need for consonance between two-and just two-dimensions. That is, Kant’s readers limited the problem between theory and practice to theory and practice, they themselves either striving to prove the convergence of both into one, or the other, or rejecting the consonance between the latter due to one, or the other; which, of course, only grinded the advancement of the question, and their comprehension of it, to a halt. And hence, quite unsurprisingly, Kant’s readers can be divided exclusively into those to whom the union between theory and practice is possible, who therefore believe in the resolution of the aforementioned issues, but only as a merging between the two, and those to whom such a union, as well as such a resolution, is impossible, due to the inevitable superiority or inferiority of each of the parts. Namely, a division between Kant’s advocates, yet advocates for the wrong grounds-Murhard, Höijer, Jacob-, and Kant’s critics, also critics for the wrong reasons-Herder, Hennings, Fr. Schlegel, v. Schütz or Fichte. Kant’s advocates who, between lauds to the herculean enterprise of the great philosopher, stand thus merely because they believe that the better construed the theoretical propositions are, the more probable it is that practice will follow them-this, however, they do out of a restricted view of the problem, without bearing in mind, for example, the role of Kant’s system of ends, or Kant’s ulterior cosmopolitical perspective of Philosophy, Morals or Politics, in the attainment of this objective. And Kant’s critics, who defend that “between the possibility and the reality of a perpetual peace there is a great gap” (v. Schütz, TR: 140), or that, no matter how benevolent the idea of a monarchy governed in a republican manner, or the idea of an ulterior attainment of a perpetual peace are, they cannot be achieved, simply because for a perpetual peace, or even for a final perfection of the dispositions of the human being, no warranties can be provided (Schlegel, TR: 117-119); which they too do out of a contrary, yet equally restricted view of the problem, while formulating no more than fleeting or dismissive references to Kant’s teleoformic vision of the world, or the cosmopolitical nature of the latter. This, all in all, meaning that such opinions, both unfavorable and favorable to Kant, only seem to get further entangled in the inevitable complexity that Kant himself evokes in his writings, and hence, so to say, only fortify and perpetuate this difficulty.
Now, given the above-described erroneous positions, it is our view that Kant’s opinion, that which truly reflects his vision of the problem, was simultaneously contrary to that of his advocates and to that of his critics. For, in the Common Saying, as well as in Towards Perpetual Peace, Kant does consider the more than probable divergences between theory and practice. But, at the same time, that which preoccupies Kant is not only the difficult concordance between theory and practice, but especially a more fundamental, and therefore barely incurable complexity: one regarding the obstacles that the human spirit, by nature predisposed to seek union either by amalgamation or suppression, and hence to dealing with dichotomies as mere dichotomies, sets against such a reconcilement, even if such a reconcilement is possible. Namely, Kant suggests, one thing is the proposal of a union between theory and practice, be it in the form of a perpetual peace or a perfection of the human species and be it indeed attainable or not. Another thing, however, is the internalization (or acquiescence) of the latter by the human spirit: namely, the discernment, the understanding and posterior acceptance of the latter, which indeed stands between theory and practice, that is, following theory and yet preceding its putting into practice: something which, let it be said, is all the more difficult the more the objects of this alignment are human ideals, as are, for instance, those proposed in the aforementioned works. And precisely because Kant is interested in the proposal of a union between theory and practice, but much more interested in the fact that this union may arise as probable, or at least thinkable to the human spirit (which, in fact, is the final stage of an alignment or misalignment between theory and practice), then, Kant deemed necessary to shift the whole paradigm of this question: something which could not consist in forcibly attempting to unite theory and practice either by theory, or by practice, rather in freeing the question from its rigidity and exiguousness.
Kant’s view, which would go unnoticed among his censors8 The topic of Kant’s cosmopolitanism, its pungent actuality and multidisciplined applications, has been subject to recent and numerous studies. Examples of this, which are too extensive to mention in detail, include: Kleingeld, P. (2012), Kant and Cosmopolitanism. The Philosophical Ideal of World Citizenship, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Brown, G. W. (2009), Grounding Cosmopolitanism: From Kant to the Idea of a Cosmopolitan Constitution, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press; Brown, G. W. & Telegdi-Csetri, Á. (2019), Kant’s Cosmopolitics: Contemporary Issues and Global Debates, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press; Louden, R. B. (2011), Kant’s Human Being: Essays on His Theory of Human Nature, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Brandt, R. (2007), Die Bestimmung des Menschen bei Kant, Hamburg: Felix Meiner; Formosa, P. & Goldman, A. & Patrone, T., eds. (2014), Politics and Teleology in Kant, University of Wales Press; Walla, A. P. (2018), “Kant on Cosmopolitan Education for Peace”, in Con-textos Kantianos, N. 7, June 2018, pp. 332-347. Yet, the topic of Kant’s cosmopolitanism as presented here-namely, as a third line in the scheme of human knowledges, and therefore as a whole third dimension of human knowledge, in specific connection to a dialogue between theory and practice-has, we think, never before been replicated elsewhere and as such is presented as a complementing contribution to the study of the Kantian topic at hand. and which, we think, is at the heart of his attempt to approach theory and practice, therefore resides in thinking the question beyond its natural compartmentalization, while assuming that between theory and practice, and also possibility and reality, there might still be an intermediate plain of analysis. Kant stated this himself, affirming that there is an “intermediate member of connection” (AA 8: 275) -to be sure, indirect, but real connection-between theory and practice: namely, in Kant’s words, an “act of the power of judgment” (id.), a “gift of nature” (ibid.) whose objective is to serve as mediator, and hence hold in check the always emerging incongruences between the concepts of the understanding, or theory, and action, or practice.
Now, in view of this, we ask: why a third member, and why is it to be understood as “an act of the power of judgment” (ibid.)? Because, so Kant, the problem of the reconcilement between theory and practice in the human spirit, and outside of it, is a double one: on the one hand, “to a concept of the understanding, which contains a rule, [there] must be added an act of [the power of] judgment by which a practitioner distinguishes whether or not something is a case of the rule” (ibid.; PP: 279) (which is a primacy of theory, as opposed to an insufficiency of practice); on the other hand, however, it just so happens that “even where this natural talent [gift of nature] is present there can still be a deficiency in premises, that is, a theory can be incomplete and can, perhaps, be supplemented only by engaging in further experiments and experiences” (ibid.) (which is an insufficiency of theory, as opposed to a primacy of practice). The problem lies, therefore, in the difference of degree between the primacy of the concept of the understanding and its impracticability, in the first case, and the primacy of practical action, and its impossible theorization, in the second case - and, lastly, in their incongruence.
But, Kant suggests, where the question is thought not as it was before, but in the presence of a third member, a so-called special act of the power of judgment, then two preliminary assumptions arise.
First of all, the assumption that this act of the power of judgment, upon being brought to the equation, is to regulate the opposing parties. Namely, it conforms the concept of the understanding to the situation at hand, thereby restricting it and bringing it to its possible applicability, while at the same time it appreciates if a certain situation, or action, is capable of such a concept and serves as a mobile of theory: yet, never by molding one and the other in such a way that there can be talk of a primacy, rather only as much as necessary so there is concordance.
Secondly, the assumption that this act of the power of judgment not only regulates but validates and preserves the opposing parties in such a cooperating condition. Namely, its mere presence may still indicate a “deficiency in premises” (ibid.), and hence incongruence between theory and practice. But, by detecting such a fault, this act of the power of judgment is to serve as a barometer of such a degree of concordance, thus compensating for the minority of theory and promoting its completeness through “experiments and experiences” (ibid.): this, however, not in such a way that one again supplants the other, rather only as much as necessary so there is consonance.
As such, we could conclude that according to its first aspect, this act of the power of judgment, which seems to be halfway between its necessary observance of the understanding and its irresistible applicability as a form of its verification, serves the objective of being the third, regulative member between theory and practice: for, indeed, “that between theory and practice there is still need for an intermediate member of connection and transition from one to the other, as complete as theory is, this springs to sight” (AA 8: 276). This means that this special act of the power of judgment, here situated between the power of knowledge and the power of volition, is indeed the cornerstone be it of an overwhelming theory, be it of an arrogant practice, which, for the sake of truth, must be brought to conciliation. But, if seen not just regarding this, but also concerning its second aspect, then this act of the power of judgment is much more than just a third member: it represents, in its permanently regulative and scrutinizing character, not just an aggregating member, rather a whole intermediate dimension, or disposition of human thought and action, which encapsulates not only theory and practice, not only possibility and reality, but an intermediate section between the two. And so, where this “gift of nature” (id.) is present-the gift to be imbued with such a disposition, and to judge according to this act of the power of judgment-there arises also the possibility of a third, joint, interconnecting dimension in the appreciation of the problem between theory and practice: namely, the suppression of the incongruences between the propositions of the theoretical man and their application by the practical one, and therefore the possibility of a theoretical-practical (re)consideration of the objects of the World, and of Man among the latter.
II. KANT’S ANTHROPO-COSMOLOGICAL APPROACH TO THE PROBLEM BETWEEN THEORY AND PRACTICE⌅
The question between theory and practice, until now considered only through the perspective of Kant’s moral-political reflection, is, as is known, a recurring problem also in other domains of Kant’s work: and this, not by chance, not only in theoretical domains-implicitly, for therein rules a difficult compatibility between theory and practice-, but also in the practical domains-here in a more natural and explicit guise.
However, the more specific issue at hand-namely, the suggestion of an “intermediate member of connection and transition”, a via media between theory and practice-is not so apparent and emerges only fleetingly-and tacitly so-throughout Kant’s work. As such, we devote the second section of our article to recontextualizing this issue in the body of Kant’s work; and, if possible, to applying the results of such a recontextualization to the explanation of what Kant means by this intermediate “act of the power of judgment.”
This, we intend to do by answering the following questions: 1) What is the field of action of this “intermediate member”, or intermediate dimension, and where to situate it in the soil of human knowledges? That is: where is the “intermediate member” between theory and practice to be found? (Section II.1). 2) And, once this is ascertained, how does Kant conceive its operation through a special “act of the power of judgment”, and how does Kant propose to bring to conformity, through the latter, theory and practice? (Section II.2).
II.1. Beyond theory and practice, in-between theory and practice. Pragmatic Anthropology, the third dimension of human knowledge⌅
As to the first question, namely, the location of an intermediate, harmonizing field between theory and practice, we recall one of Kant’s first collocations of the problem between theory and practice, in the Lectures on Metaphysics; at the time, to be sure, not yet under this form, but under the attire of a division between theoretical and practical knowledges.
The reader of Kant’s academic activity surely knows that Kant used to initiate his annual courses by expounding a fundamental scheme of human knowledges; a scheme which, given its fundamental nature, reemerges also on the Lecture on Encyclopedism (1777) or the Lectures on Geography.9 Namely, regarding the Lectures on Metaphysics, in Metaphysik-Mrongovius (AA 29.1.2: 747-940), Metaphysik-Volckmann (AA 28.1: 355-459), Metaphysik L2 (AA 28.2: 525-610) or Metaphysik-Dohna (AA 28.2: 615-702); regarding the Lecture on Encyclopedism, in AA 29.1: 5-45; and regarding the much-contested Lectures on Geography, in Geographie-Rink and Geographie-Vollmer.
According to this scheme-here reenacted in light of Met.-Pölitz I (1777/1778), all human knowledges are either parts in relation to a whole, a system of rational knowledges, of sciences of reason, proceeding vertically, according to rules, or principles; or they are parts in relation to other parts, an aggregate of empirical knowledges, of historical or erudite sciences, proceeding horizontally by the observation of such rational principles (see AA 29.1: 5-8; AA 29.1: 747). In other words, Kant says: “all cognitions are united either through coordination, or through subordination” (AA 28.1: 171). Namely, subordinated are the cognitions which proceed regarding one another according to rules (AA 29.1: 747), “as causes in relation to consequences” (id.), and obey more and more elevated principles, as if they were on a “ladder” (Leiter, AA 28.1: 171), composing a rational dimension of knowledge with which experience cannot interfere. Coordinated, in turn, are the cognitions “which conduct themselves as parts regarding a communitarian whole” (id.). Coordinated cognitions, which operate through addition or association, and through the orientation of rational knowledges, therefore relate as if they were on a «plain soil” (ebenen Boden, ibid.), diverging from rational knowledge and its principles.10 Compare with Kant’s Lecture on Encyclopedism: “All historical sciences compose erudition. To History belongs all that is given. When erudition is very ample, it is designated as poli-history (Polyhistorie). This is opposed to pansophy (Pansophie), which contains in its scope all rational sciences; but not the historical ones, otherwise it would be a poli-history.” (AA 29.1: 5)
Now, why our interest in this scheme, in its “ladder” of rational knowledges, in its “plain soil” of empirical knowledges? Because, if thus presented in their initial total dissociation, and totally asymmetrical disposition, the two lines, that of the knowledge of sciences of reason and that of the knowledge of historical sciences, represent, and quite faithfully so, the same dissociative relation registered between theory and practice. Indeed, Kant’s notion of theory in the Common Saying is none other than that of the general rules, or rational principles, that constitute the vertical line of human knowledge; and, likewise, Kant’s notion of practice is but the realization of ends, as the “observance of certain [general] principles”, which constitute the horizontal line of human knowledge. And hence, here, in this preparatory version of the problem, which Kant presented to his students already in the 1770s, as there, in that consummated version of the same problem, which Kant definitively presented to his readers in the 1790s, there underlies in fact one and the same (disposition of the) problem between theory and practice.
But-we underline-our interest in this scheme lies not only in this identification of problems; and this because neither the concordance between these two versions of the same problem, nor the implications of such a concordance, end here.
As such, the reader of the previous scheme will surely admit that there is a relation between the double pair rational knowledge-empirical knowledge vs. theory-practice, and that such a relation is based upon the latter’s divergence. But, at the same time, so will the reader of Kant’s Lectures on Metaphysics, and better yet the reader of his Lectures on Anthropology, admit that Kant’s scheme of human knowledges, though initially presented as being bidimensional in its fundamental structure, does not present this definitive form-neither here, nor in its singular evolution throughout Kant’s work.
Indeed, Kant would often state that theory and practice, or principles and realization of ends, are in fact different and form two different lines of human knowledge. This means, of course, that the human being knows differently in theory, according to principles, than he does in the practical application of those principles to ends: hence the natural (even necessary) incongruence between both plains of knowledge. But, according to Kant’s Lectures on Metaphysics, and especially Kant’s Lectures on Anthropology, the necessary sub-division of human knowledges into rational and empirical, or a theoretical and a practical dimension of the latter, which is indeed fundamental in certain fields of thought where either a so-called “forbidden compatibility between theory and practice”, or a blind compatibility between the latter takes place, does not mean, however, that Kant’s scheme of human knowledges is confined to these two dimensions: just as, we could say, the question between theory and practice is not limited to its prohibition, or to its blind acceptance. Quite on the contrary, it is our view that among those sciences which are philosophical in their form, but not so in their object-the sciences of applied Metaphysics-and those which are philosophical in their object, but not so in their form-historical sciences-there is still a different, newer dimension of science, one should say, a third dimension of human knowledge which brings these two, indeed contrary by nature, to a possible dialogue. This singular dimension, which Kant conceives on the one hand by subtracting it from the “ladder” of Metaphysics11 Empirical Psychology, which, as a “psychology of observations” (AA 28.1: 367), Kant progressively dissociates from Anthropology, was included in Metaphysics only “because Psychology ha[d] not yet grown to the point that it may convey sufficient data for the knowledge of the soul, so that from it one may create a separate collegium” (id.). And so, “Empirical Psychology”, Kant thus concludes, “in no way belongs to Metaphysics” (ibid.) and must be understood here as a “stranger” (ibid.), a “Metabasis eis allo genos” (AA 29.1: 757), that is, a complete subversion of the genus of metaphysical knowledge. (or from Rational Cosmology), on the other by dissociating it from the “plain soil” of empirical sciences (namely, Empirical Psychology, and hence Empirical Cosmology),12“From it [Empirical Psychology] can one still distinguish Anthropology, if by this one understands a knowledge of Man insofar as it is pragmatic” (AA 29.1: 757). and at last by using it as the aggregating pole, but also as the regulative barometer between the two, is the terrain of Pragmatic Cosmology: or, if one will, the ample, ever growing yet finite soil of Pragmatic Anthropology and Physical Geography. A soil which, according to Kant, so to say unites the edges of rational and empirical knowledge, thus forming a vertex between the two and presenting not a disunited, rather a perpendicular scheme of human knowledges; a soil which, as such, sets in contact rational and empirical, but not in such a way that these are in eternal conflict, nor in deadly fusion, rather in such a way that the dialogue between the two, now possible, now impossible, instils life and fills the convex wing which after all is formed around the main vectors of the scheme. In a word, a soil which cuts obliquely between rational and empirical, thus forming a third-previously unsuspected-dimension of human knowledge.
Now, we ask, so as to rephrase the question regarding the collocation of the “intermediate member of transition” between theory and practice: how can this new dimension of human knowledge contribute towards understanding Kant’s mediating solution, as presented in the Common Saying? The answer, we believe, is visible. Indeed, if we bear in mind theory and practice by themselves, then Kant’s proposal of a third member is in itself the opening for a solution-but no more than this. And, likewise, if we take rational and empirical by themselves, the proposal of a third dimension of human knowledge is also an option towards difference-but, as such, no more than this. But if instead we sustain, as does Kant, that the “ladder” of human knowledge is itself the theoretical image of the human being, and hence theory itself, or the complex of rules or principles by which Man conducts himself in his worldly existence; and that, in turn, the “plain soil” of human knowledge is itself the practical image of the human being, and hence the antechamber of practice itself, toward the realization of ends according to such general principles: then that which we applied to this scheme must be applied, to its last consequences, with regard to the question between theory and practice. This means, then, that not only does an “intermediate member of connection”-an intermediate member which allows for the transition between theory and practice-exist, and that this member has its place in the fundamental scheme of the problem between the latter, but, more importantly so, this member must be identified with, and reside in, a third dimension of human knowledge. Namely, the intermediate member between rational and empirical, or theory and practice, must be not in one or the other, but in their possible conciliation in a third plain: and this plain, the anthropo-cosmological plain of human knowledge, where the member of transition between the two must reside, is that of Pragmatic Anthropology and/or Physical Geography. And if so, if the pragmatic-physical dimension of human knowledge, which Kant thus founds, stands as the natural field for the operation of an “intermediate member” of connection between theory and practice, then this must presuppose that Geography, and especially Anthropology, in their physical and pragmatic conceptions, are to be the natural soil for an approximation between theory and practice, and that this soil, which is that of anthropological-cosmological observation itself, must come to convey our much-desired explanation of a possible consonance between principles and realization of ends.
Hence, in conclusion, and to answer our first question, we would simply say that the place by excellence of the “intermediate member of connection and transition” (AA 8: 275) between theory and practice-which consists of a singular “act of the power of judgment” (id.) (which, for now, we leave unapproached)-is to be situated between the two opposing modalities of human knowledge, under the form of a third dimension in the analysis of this question. Furthermore, we add that this third dimension, where theory and practice may find a healthier field of reconcilement, is in its nature pragmatic, or indeed cosmological, the comprehension of which shall certainly contribute towards better perceiving Kant’s previous designs.
II.2. Teleology: the “third member of connection” between theory and practice⌅
Regarding our second question, namely, once ascertained in hybrid soil this connecting member between theory and practice, how does Kant conceive its operation through an act of the power of judgment?, we resume the point where we left this discussion. Now, however, we do so not to examine the form of Kant’s scheme of human knowledges-not just the theoretical or practical dimensions of this scheme-which are duly identified, but to understand its more profound content and message: the position of Man in this scheme; Man who, after all, is the main actor in this whole conflict, as well as sole possible emitter and only possible receptor of a special “act of the power of judgment.”
To this challenge, we would answer without further ado: Man is everywhere in the scheme of knowledges. For, here, Man stands either actively, in his reason and action, and in his knowledge of himself and the World, or passively, wherever new extensions of the stage of his self- and hetero-knowledge are; be these in the Cosmos, or in God, or be these in experience, or in Nature. In a word, Man pervades the scheme because, whether Man is present in theory, or in practice, or in unknown parts of the latter, it is he who is divided and expanded throughout the different lines of knowledge; in the first case, via the comprehension, in the second, via the application of the latter.
Let it be noted, however, that as much as this is true, it is not so through such a simple explanation. Indeed, Man inhabits the vertical line of his knowledge because there resides the eternal palimpsest of his reason, the weaving of human theory, which practice is to corroborate; for reason is supreme, and experience cannot but abide to it. And, indeed, Man inhabits the horizontal line of knowledge because there resides the permanent field of realization of such a theory, which practice rarely confirms; for experience is infinitely heterogeneous and volatile, and hence non-rational. But, because he is so present throughout the scheme, the problem can only be raised inasmuch as Man emerges now in the excess of his reason (where, for want of experience, he always seems to be in accordance with himself and with others) now scattered in his external life (where, for want of principles, he never seems to be in accordance with himself or others). Or, to put this in more familiar terms: now his power of judgement, as an instrument of reason, is legitimized in its discriminating, and hence merely theoretical use; or the power of judgment, in tasks strange to reason and in a less than rational connection with the inferior powers of the human spirit, and with sensibility, is disallowed in its associative, and hence merely practical use. And therefore, due to this disparity between reflection and action, which in truth is an incongruence between the various dimensions of the power of judgment, and its products, one could say that Man cannot in this respect transit between interiority and exteriority, between his interior and exterior life, and since he cannot do this, nor can his enterprises, his concepts and ideals; and thus, his position, his role, his efficacy-in a word, his own appreciation, or judgment, on his position in the World-are restricted to a limitation: that is, to a mere dispersed centrality, as the one we have just analyzed.
Now, it is our view that Kant’s proposal of a third dimension in the problem between theory and practice does indeed confirm the previous scenario. Yet, it also departs from it, by attempting to supplant it. And why is this? Because, as we said, to a strictly rational-theoretical, as well as to a strictly empirical-practical dimension, Kant now adds a third dimension of Man’s knowledge; and this third dimension, as was seen, cuts through the other two lines. But, upon so doing, what Kant truly does is not to cut away from the other dimensions, rather only cut away from what is mutually irreconcilable in them. That is, Kant’s third dimension of human knowledge traverses between mere human rationality, where Man speaks only of himself and refers everything to himself, and the merely experiential human applicability, where there seems to be no rule, only generality, where the image of Man is so faint and multivocal-so shameful,13See the text “Idea for a Universal History”: “One cannot resist feeling a certain indignation when one sees their [human beings’] doings and refrainings on the great stage of the world and finds that despite the wisdom appearing now and then in individual cases, everything in the large is woven together out of folly, childish vanity, often also out of childish malice and the rage to destruction.” (AA 8: 17-18; AHE: 109); see also the Common Saying: “Nowhere does human nature appear less lovable than in the relations of entire peoples to one another.” (AA 8: 312; PP: 309) in Kant’s words-that he is almost omitted. Namely, in a word, the third, cosmological, or anthropo-cosmological dimension of Kant’s thought cuts through, and thereby seeks to bring together mere theory, where Man is everything and his position in the World is apparently total, and his ideals are not only attainable but certain, and mere practice, where Man is rarefied, where his position in the World is diffuse and ideals are unattainable and absurd; and hence, in face of all these insufficiencies or excesses, what Kant intends through this cut is a sober, moderate middle ground between both, one not only regarding 1) its position (Man’s new position), but also 2) his efficacy (namely, the efficacy of the newest function of Man’s power of judgment) and 3) his role (namely, Man’s role in judging on the course of the World, and his possible contribution toward this).
Hence, to enumerate by order-and by order of importance-Kant’s proposals as etched above, we now approach 1) Man’s new position in the scheme. Namely, unlike Man’s previous diffuse centrality, which seems to be everywhere or nowhere in the scheme of human knowledges, Kant now ascribes Man a new position as the aggregating pole, or as the “intermediate member of connection” between theory and practice. This Kant does not do for the sake of a mere solution, or an alternative to a problem, rather bearing in mind that all of Man’s dimensions, be they rational, empirical or cosmopolitical, are necessarily interconnected. Which, in turn, means several things: first, that the anthropo-cosmological line of knowledge, here proposed by Kant, bears a relation of great intimacy with the other two, without which it would not exist; and so do all of Man’s different cognitive dimensions. On the other hand, if the anthropological line of knowledge is in such intimate relation with the others, without ever indeed contacting but once, then this means that all of them must be enrooted in one and the same point of the scheme (only that they describe different routes); inasmuch as there are three dimensions of knowledge, but of one and the same human knowledge. Lastly, this means that the three lines in question, insofar as they can be reconducted to one common point, can also be retraced to one possible emitter of all of them: Man. Namely, Man, here by Kant abstracted from his total presence or total absence, and at last placed in a healthily heterogeneous, but therefore central position, arises as the common axis of all dimensions of knowledge, at the vertex of the scheme of human knowledges.
On the other hand, with regard 2) to the new efficacy of human judgment, this is naturally based upon Man’s new position within the scheme. As such, one could state that upon positioning itself in an intermediate soil between theory and practice, the “act of the power of judgment” shall have to be based upon the two opposing uses of the same power of judgment, one more rational, one more empirical in nature, and thus, by reconciling what is reconcilable in the latter, judge upon Man, the World, the things of the World and their knowledge. Hence, by uniting both “rule” and “case”, this act of the power of judgment sees if one is suitable to the other: that is, “if something is, or is not, the case of the rule” (AA 8: 275).
Yet - Kant adduces - not just this, but something else, other than its mere intermediateness, must ensure the conformity of this suitability, and the subsequent success or efficacy of a transition between theory and practice. For, let it be reminded, in all other cases there is always a strong probability of incongruence between the two dimensions. Namely, the problem is extant, for instance, between the pure concept of duty and one’s practical obedience to it, where the first wills supremely, yet the second, which is subject to all kinds of appetites, intentions, life events or personal motivations, distorts it; and so, for there to be concordance between theory and practice, and Man be morally good, something more than mere theory or mere practice is necessary. Likewise, the problem is extant between the “pure source” of law, which according to Kant envisages and prepares a perpetual peace, and a correct external enforcement of law, and the subsequent establishment of a federation of peoples; where the first is unassailable in its theoreticity, yet the second one is indeed corruptible in its practical character; and so, again, in order for there to be perfect consonance between the two, and men live in peace, something else between theory and practice is necessary. Many other examples, present in both the Common Saying and Perpetual Peace, could be conveyed.
Now, if, as it seems, between theory and practice, or the theoretical and practical uses of the power of human judgment, there seems to be no possible coincidence-for these are only efficacious for themselves, but not for each other’s counterpart; and if, conversely, the intermediate term between theory and practice cannot abdicate from such dimensions, nor of such uses of the power of judgment, then, Kant seems to suggest, it is necessary that we search for a disposition of the human spirit in which the laws of reason are not as authoritarian that they do not concede the concurrence, towards the fortification of both, of experience; and in which the phenomena of experience are not so blind that they abdicate from the orientation of the laws of reason. That is, in other words, it is necessary that we conceive of a dimension of the power of judgment in which there is no internal and no external, no rational and no empirical, no law and no phenomenon, rather all these are already mutual complements or proofs of each other: precisely, in such a way that Man’s judgment cannot happen in absence of that of the World, and vice versa. But, because this dimension is to be found neither in the laws of Man’s comprehension, which ensure Man with complete orientation but detach him from the World, nor in the mere phenomena of Man’s comprehension, which ensure the orientation of the World but subtract the rational Man from it, then this third dimension, this “intermediate member of connection” (AA 8: 275) between theory and practice must indeed reside in the third dimension of Kant’s scheme, but, above all, it must be ruled through a certain special union between human thought and Nature (Man and World), one could say, a certain special disposition of the human spirit to think practice as the incontrovertible condition of theory, and theory as the incontrovertible condition of practice, so that these not only do not separate, rather do not even have to be thought of as such. This non-violent, non-disruptive, rather harmonious addition to, or integration of human thought in the laws of Nature, which Kant mentions in Perpetual Peace as being the intermediate plain in the problem between theory and practice, is that of the harmonious union of rational, systematic laws, which are to perceive the ends of Nature, and which Man thinks, and natural manifestations themselves, whose laws can at times be confirmed and subsumed by reason, in their comprehension by Man. This special use of the power of judgment is, in a word, not teleology just as a sketch of the architectonic idea of reason, or teleology just as the image of a secret cipher of Nature. Quite on the contrary, it is the union between both, as if the discovery of the teleoformic constitution of Man and the World were in itself the rediscovery of an occult systematicity of human reason, and that rediscovery were in itself the unveiling of the course of human existence. And because it is so, then the discovery of this new disposition of human knowledge must contain not only a new position, but also a new manner of consideration of Man and the World. Namely, one where the inquisitive I is centered upon the scheme of human knowledges, and, in equidistance from his reason, which by itself only conveys the cold contours of a comprehension of the World, and the empirical, which by itself only conveys the faint contours of a comprehension of the World, rather judges on the World, the things of the World, Man’s actions and omissions and his ideals, in such a way that it sees them not by themselves, but in their mutual confluence towards the improvement of the human species. This teleological observation of the natural or prudent application of Man in the World, and the study towards the comprehension of the latter, which is anthropological in nature and cosmological in structure; this, and the several dimensions within one and the same tendency of excogitation of the natural dispositions that Nature has planted in us-be they that of the morally good man, that of perpetual peace or that of the complete perfection of the human species-, all these would be understood by Kant as expressions of a cosmopolitical disposition: a new, more plural, more communitarian dimension of human judgment, the only one that allows us to face such pretensions as possible, not as chimeras.
At last, and as a conclusion, we reformulate our third, final topic: what is the role of Man in this intermediate plain of human knowledge, and how does Kant propose that the latter approaches theory and practice?
The answer to this question lies upon two previous data: for Man is first and foremost the central vertex between rational and empirical, theory and practice, and hence also the basis of the line that runs through the latter, the oblique cut proposed by the anthropo-cosmological prism of human knowledge, which we could designate as Kant’s cosmopolitism; and, as such, Man is granted a new, hitherto unsuspected cognitive efficacy: one that unites the systematic ends of human knowledge and conduct in the World, which are rationally excogitated by Man, to the simultaneous and complementary discovery of those ends in the teleological disposition of the World, and of Man in the World. According to these coordinates, Man’s role must be central, and this already corroborates the latter’s correct disposition towards reconciling theory and practice.
But, in truth, although such data do begin to unveil, they do not yet explain exactly, nor definitively, how such a desideratum is obtained-that is, this does not yet explain how the possible excogitation and application of ends indeed brings to union, in the human spirit and also in action, theory and practice. And this, we believe, because apart from seeing in Man the congregational pole of two opposing dimensions, one must explain not only that these rational and empirical dimensions come to union in a certain disposition of the human spirit, but rather how this union may come to take place in Man. For, according to Kant, this union is not univocal, that is, Man does not simply harbor the two dimensions of human knowledge, just because he and his cosmopolitical judgment stand as the associative pole of the latter. Quite on the contrary, this phenomenon is in itself a double one, and, not by chance, each of these two dimensions of a new, infinitely productive prism corroborates and differently enhances the best characteristics of Kant´s proposal.
Proof of this double belief, or double prism, of Kant’s anthropological, theoretical-practical proposition, is to be found throughout Kant’s work.
According to Kant, not only at the beginning of his Anthropology in a Pragmatic Point of View, but also in Perpetual Peace, it is characteristic of the anthropological, hence pragmatic vision to focus on that which Man “as a free-acting being makes of himself, or can and should make of himself” (AA 7: 119; AHE: 231).14 “What nature does for this purpose with reference to the end that the human being’s own reason makes a duty for him, hence to the favoring of his moral purpose, and how it affords the guarantee that what man ought to do in accordance with laws of freedom but does not do, it is assured he will do, without prejudice to this freedom, even by a constraint of nature” (AA 8: 365; PP: 334). See also Common Saying: “but at the same time I put my trust (in subsidium) in the nature of things, which constrains one to go where one does not want to go (fota volentem ducunt, nolentem trahunt).” (AA 8: 313; PP: 309) This prism, Kant seems to suggest, applies to the two main capacities of Man, here taken as one: namely, his thought, which Man exercises through the cultivation of his reason, or the obedience to its supreme precepts, and his action, through a conduct consentaneous with these precepts: Man’s abovementioned prudent application in the World. Kant refers to this, for example, in the text “Idea for a Universal History” (1784), by saying that it is Man’s duty to elevate himself by work to his perfection;15 “The invention of his means of nourishment, his clothing, his external safety and defense (…), all gratification that can make life agreeable, all his insight and prudence and even the generosity of his will, should be entirely his [human being’s] own work. In this it seems to have pleased nature to exercise its greatest frugality, and to have measured out its animal endowment so tightly, so precisely to the highest need of an initial existence, as though it willed that the human being, if he were someday to have labored himself from the greatest crudity to the height of the greatest skillfulness, the inner perfection of his mode of thought, and (…) thereby to happiness, may have only his own merit alone to thank for it.” (AA 8: 19-20; AHE: 110). or by stating that it should be the aim of Man to do his best to prepare the upcoming generations for an ever-growing moral, civic, human improvement.16 “Yet here it remains strange that the older generations appear to carry on their toilsome concerns only for the sake of the later ones, namely so as to prepare the steps on which the latter may bring up higher the edifice which was nature’s aim, and that only the latest should have the good fortune to dwell in the building on which a long series of their ancestors (…) had labored, without being able to partake of the good fortune which they prepared. But as puzzling as this may be, it is yet necessary once one assumes that a species of animals should have reason, and, as a class of rational beings who all die, while the species is immortal, should nevertheless attain to completeness in the development of their predispositions.” (AA 8: 20; AHE: 110-111). See also the Common Saying, AA 8: 309; PP: 306; as well as Perpetual Peace, AA 8: 380; PP: 346. This, Kant would often say, is therefore one of the possible prisms of a “superior anthropological point of view” (AA 8: 374); one to which is opposed the inferior physiological point of view, which focuses on “what Nature makes of Man” (AA 7: 119; AHE: 231). However, let it be noted, this last prism, which is here apparently neglected, is not entirely so by Kant, and does play a role in the resolution of our problem. For, according to Kant, in the Common Saying, and indeed in the final section, which deals with “the universally philanthropic, that is, cosmopolitan purpose” (AA 8: 307; PP: 304), the continuous “progression toward what is better” (id.: 308; id.: 306), the preservation and acceleration of this “immeasurably distant success” (id.: 310; id.: 307), says Kant, “depend not so much upon what we do (e.g., on the education we give the younger generation) and by what methods we should proceed in order to bring it about, but instead upon what human nature will do in and with us to force us onto a track we would not readily take of our own accord.” (id.: 310; id.: 317). This other prism, as is visible, also focuses upon the thought and action of Man: but now, as it seems, to deprive the latter of their previous efficacy: thought, insofar as it lets itself be swayed by the law of Providence, and conduct, insofar as it lets itself be conducted-or bent-by the latter. This, Kant says not only here, but also precisely in the aforementioned texts: and this by stating, for instance, that Man wills one thing, but Nature wills differently, for Nature knows what his best for him-in Perpetual Peace, in the case of war, commerce or religions as necessary factors for a ulterior peace,17See AA 8: 367; PP: 336. or in the text “Idea for a Universal History” (1784), in the case of the “unsociable sociability” (AA 8: 20; PP: 111), which ultimately renders resistance into harmony.18See the 4th Proposition in “Idea for a Universal History”, AA 8: 20-22; AHE: 111-112. This, is, therefore, the second possible prism of “a superior anthropological point of view” (AA 8: 374); one which, as it seems, is not opposed by a physiological prism, rather by a pragmatic prism, and as such renders the two in mutual contradiction.
Now, as is natural, Kant could not commit such a grave error as to opt by a regime of mutual exclusion, thereby claiming for one and the same disposition of the human spirit and conduct - the cosmopolitical prism - now one efficacy, now another efficacy of Man, now one efficacy, now another efficacy of Nature; and, as such, nor could Kant propose such a dual procedure regarding the approximation between theory and practice, which indeed would go against his own conciliatory proposition. Nor does he. Quite on the contrary, we believe that Kant’s proposal of a cosmopolitical perspective does the opposite. Namely, it summons both the pragmatic and the physiological prisms of the question, which here-and here only-arise simultaneously, or better yet, alternately united, in favor of the reconcilement of Man’s thought and conduct with the compensatory mechanism of the ends of Nature. That is, that which Man can and should make of himself-his elevation through work, his merit, his effort to be dignified or morally good-must be seen, and therefore judged, at the same time but also alternately, as precisely that which Nature makes of Man-its mechanism to, via signs, via corrections and nudges, via (re)alignments, improve Man. For, it is now visible, both prisms are for Kant not only correlated; rather they are one and the same in their mutual necessity, and if they are, then this double prism, encapsulated in one single perspective, can only result in a long-announced new way of judging Man and the World: namely, an “act of the power of judgment” (AA 8: 275), a “talent of nature” (id.) to understand and judge Man and the World as the incontrovertible proof of one another, whereby their progression through common ends, or ideals, is such a proof and so to say fades the hiatus between theory and practice; in a word, whereby such ideals, even if considered merely in theory, are not at all chimerical, rather have to be rendered possible in practice.19 Examples of this are to be found in various dimensions of Kant’s work: regarding the guarantee of perpetual peace: “But the representation of their relation to and harmony with the end that reason prescribes immediately to us (the moral end) is an idea, which is indeed transcendent for theoretical purposes but for practical purposes (e.g., with respect to the concept of the duty of perpetual peace and putting that mechanism of nature to use for it) is dogmatic and well founded as to its reality.” (AA 8: 362; PP: 332), or: “In this way nature guarantees perpetual peace through the mechanism of human inclinations itself, with an assurance that is admittedly not adequate for predicting its future (theoretically) but that is still enough for practical purposes and makes it a duty to work toward this (not merely chimerical) end.” (AA 8: 368; PP: 337); regarding the practical belief in a progression towards the betterment of humanity: “For my own part, I nevertheless put my trust in theory, which proceeds from the principle of right, as to what relations among human beings and states ought to be, and which commends to earthly gods the maxim always so to behave in their conflicts that such a universal state of nations will thereby be ushered in, and so to assume that it is possible (in praxi) and that it can be.” (AA 8: 313; PP: 309); or regarding the complete development of natural dispositions in Man: “Thus, a state would come to be that we do not hope to see in person. This state cannot be destroyed, rather it shall endure for as long as God wills to preserve our earthly bodies. This consideration is indeed agreeable, insofar as it is an idea that is possible, for which, however, thousands of years are still required. Nature will always be sufficient until one such Paradise emerges on Earth. Just as Nature has always formed itself, and still does, and approaches the end of its destination (…), so does the human species form itself, and precisely twice as many years  may have to pass until the supreme degree of perfection is attained.” (AA 25.2: 697).
In conclusion, we would say that the third dimension of Kant’s scheme of human knowledges, that of a cosmopolitan perspective, not only harbors, but is in fact constituted by the mutual and special conformation between reason and Nature, and indeed conveys how Man, who thinks and works towards ennobling ulterior designs, may only attain this by abiding to the laws of Nature, or Providence, whose principal intention is here not to oppose him, rather to elevate him in his condition. The two possible prisms of Kant’s cosmopolitism are, as such, one and the same, and they surely constitute one and the same disposition: a disposition where, upon renouncing to the individual character, and rather appealing to the communitarian character of experience, one ensures pluralism20On the spirit of Kant’s anthropological thought, see Kant’s words: “The opposite of egoism can only be pluralism, that is, the way of thinking in which one is not concerned with oneself as the whole world, but rather regards and conducts oneself as a mere citizen of the world.-This much belongs to anthropology.” (AA 7: 130; AHE: 241-242) and, as such, a “love to the species;”21 See, in Kant’s Lectures on Anthropology, the presentation of Anthropology as “one of the most agreeable matters” (AA 25.2: 733), as well as references to the “self-satisfaction” (id.: 734) of anthropological observation, which promotes a love of the species: “The more one begins to consider the nature of a thing, the more one will begin to love the thing itself. Hence, if one considers human nature, we will always be instilled of a greater love towards it.” (ibid.) a disposition where, upon renouncing to the overruling character, and rather appealing to the orientational character of reason, one ensures the progression of the community towards its conjoint improvement and of the human species towards its quasi-infinite perfecting: not by chance, all cosmopolitan designs per excellence.