The first antinomy – Kant

The philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote a book called Critique of Pure Reason.

In this book, he asks himself what we are able to know.

Image captured from the show “Kant”,directed by Émilie Anna Maillet.

“There’s so much we don’t understand. But I think I’ve understood why I don’t understand the universe. It’s just because we’re human beings that we can’t understand it, that’s what I think.

And I’ve read books by a man called Kant, and when I read them I understood at least a little about why I can’t understand everything. Some things we don’t understand because we think the way we do.” Excerpt from “Kant”, by Jon Fosse

Kant calls something we can’t understand an antinomy. The first antinomy asks the following question: is the universe finite or infinite?

If the universe has an end, what lies beyond the universe’s end? If there is indeed something, then the universe is infinite. And even if what lies behind is an infinite void, then the universe lies within something that is infinite. Thus it is impossible for the universe to be infinite, itself.

If the universe is infinite, it has existed since forever. What is infinite has no end nor beginning. If the universe is infinite, it cannot have begun. But for the universe to exist, it must have begun, otherwise it does not exist. Thus it is impossible for the universe to be infinite.

“It’s not possible that the universe just keeps going, and it’s not possible that it stops either. Both of them are possible, and none of them are possible. Then there’s so much that’s possible.” Excerpt from “Kant”, by Jon Fosse

The way us humans think only allows us to ask the following questions: how is the universe in which we live? Where are we from? But the human spirit cannot answer. It can only imagine possible answers.

“I often think that there’s a giant out there in the universe. It’s so huge that no one sees that it’s there, no one knows there’s a giant. But the giant is there all the time. And then the giant sleeps, and then the giant dreams. And then I only exist in the giant’s dream.” Excerpt from “Kant”, by Jon Fosse



1. According to Kant, it is both possible and impossible that:



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