Ontology (§§7-22)




Signature: Nachl. Johann Gottfried Herder XXV.46a14 (8°, 2 pp., Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz).


This is an upaginated 4 pp. signature (10.5 x 17.5 cm) — a single sheet that is folded, resulting in four pages — without margins, in ink; the paper is ribbed with part of a watermark showing (an eagle?). The page format is slightly larger than the Blue Notebook (NL-Herder XX.188). Text is only on p. 1 and the top 1/3 of p. 2; pp. 3-4 are blank. An acquisition stamp in red ink — “Deutsche Staatsbibliothek Berlin” — is at the bottom of p. 2.  The notes make reference to Baumgarten, §§7, 14, 20-22, 34-35 (ontology). Printed at AA 28: 53-55.

This text is most likely not from Kant’s metaphysics lectures, but rather consists of Herder’s reading notes of the first few pages of Kant’s New Elucidation (propositions 1-6), along with remarks on related paragraphs from Baumgarten’s Metaphysics that Herder marks with §.

The New Elucidation – commonly referred to by the Latin Nova Dilucidatio – is Kant’s Latin dissertation presented to the philosophy faculty as one of the requirements for receiving permission to lecture at the university. He defended this essay on 27 September 1755 as his disputatio pro receptio. First published as: Principiorum primorum cognitionis metaphysicae nova dilucidatio (Königsberg: Johann Heinrich Hartung, 1755), ii, 38 pp. Reprinted at: AA 1: 387-416.


[XXV.46a/14] ms 1



/ Zum Cap.ut 1. Sect.io 1. Ontol:ogie §7.[1] ad Dictat N.otae C.ollgium 1. p. 5 #

/ 1)[2] Es kann ˚nicht ‹blos› e.in e.inziges allgemeines princip.ium aller Wahrheiten s.ein.

/ ˚Ein[a] princip.ium kan ˚nicht exponibile[3] s.ein ˚sondern es muß simplex – ˚.und folgl.ich entweder affirmativ ˚oder

neg:ativ – Ges.etzt es wäre neg:ativ so werden[b] blos neg.ativ Urteile directe nach ihm geschloßen

˚die affirm.ativen müßen indirecte ˚durch hülfe, das princip:ium cujus cunque oppositum est falsum, illud est verum[4]

˚.und also ˚durch hülfe. [c] ˚eines affirmativen Sazes geschloßen ˚werden (˚der weder directe [d]als affirmat:iv) noch indirect

˚aus dem negativen princip.ium folgen müsten, so hatte ˚.man ihn bei ihm selbst nöthig folgl.ich wär es ˚nicht uni

princip.ium catholicon etc Gesetzt es wäre ˚.ein affir.mativ allgemeines princip.ium so ist alles ʾ.vice .versa

/ 2)[5] Es gibt 2. princip.ia pr:ima catholica: ʾquidʾquid est, illud estquod ʾnon est, non est

/ Diese gelten bey directen Schlüßen, ˚weil s.ie ˚sich erkl.ären laßen: cuilibet ˚subjecto competit praedicatum

ipsi [e] identic:um et ʾnon compet:it ipsi oppositum – 2) bey indirekten: ˚weil den[n] ihre principia

˚sich in ˚den benahmten ˚auflösen: cujus opposit.um fals:um est: est verum in dem ʾquidʾquid ʾnon ʾnon est, illud est[6]

/               ⁅cujus oppositum⁆ verum ⁅est: est⁆ falsum ⁅in dem⁆ ʾquid ʾnon est: illud ʾnon est.

/ Darjes[7] ˚.hat s.ie ˚durch ˚die Zeichen ˚ausgedrükt +A -A = 0: i e. idem affirmare et negare est nihil[8]

aber hier ˚wird offenb.ar ˚das princip.ium ʾcontrad.ictionis vor˚ausges.etzt

/ 3)[9] Da dies ˚die ˚einfachsten Säze sind, so ˚sind s.ie ˚.mit recht princip:ia [g]

/ ˚.und ˚das princip.ium ʾcontrad.ictionis ist ˚nicht vniversal. cathol:icon ˚weil da es schon ˚die ʾDefinitio des Unmögl.ichen ist:[10] es

theils ˚nicht allemal es nothig ist, ˚den bew.eis ˚.von des Gegentheils Unmögl.ichkeit herzuhol.en, ˚.und ˚.auch als ˚denn ˚wird

schon ˚der Saz: cujuscun.que oppositum est fals:um illud est verum[11] vor˚ausges:etzt ˚.und es ist also unzureichend

/ Nutzen wir bringen ˚eine Kette ˚die Gedanken zur ˚Einheit ˚.und sehen, ˚daß da ˜Gott alles ˚.auf ˚.einmal ˚einsieht

ob es ˚einer Sache Praedik.at sey ˚oder ˚nicht, er ˚nicht zu schließen braucht.[12]

/ [h]ad §. 34.

determinare ist [i] ponere praedicatum cum exclusione oppositi[13]

/ ad § 14 ˚.und 35.

ratio quod determinat ʾsubject respectu praedicati cujusdam. Denn nach dem gemeinen

Begrif macht ˚der Begr.iff des Grundes ˚einen nexum zwischen Subjekt ˚.und Praedicat. ˚Wenn ich nach dem Grunde

eines Cirkels frage, so frage ich noch unbestimmt bis ich ˚.ein praedic.at dazu sezze.[14]

/ ˚Der Grund macht [j] ˚.aus unbestimmten bestimtes (ʾ.Definitio) ˚.und ˚weil alle Wahrh.eit in ˚der determ:ination des

praedicats im Subjekt besteht: so ist ˚der bestimmende Grund ˚nicht all.ein ˚das Kennzeichen ˚sondern ˚.auch ˚der Qvell ˚der

Wahrh.eit, ˚weil ˚.man ohne ihn, ˚.zwar mögliches, aber ˚nicht wahres ˚.hat

/ §. 21.

Daher ˚wird er beßer, ˚.und bestimter (mit dem Crus.ius) ˚der bestimmende Grund, als mit dem

Wolf, ˚der zureichende Grund genannt, ˚weil es unbestimmt bleibt, quantum sufficiat.[15] (ʾ.Definitio rationis determinantis)

/ ratio

est vel antecedenter determinans | ratio Cur: rationes essendi fiendi) cujus notio praecedit

determinatum (qua non supposita determinatum ʾnon est intelligibile) | diesem ˚wird noch

beygefügt identica, wo ˚der begr.iff des determinati ˚den begr.iff des determinantis wegen ˚der Ident:itaet des Subjekts

˚.und Prädik.ats, ˚weder vorhergeht noch folgt:

/ vel

est consequenter determinans, qua non poneretur, nisi jam aliunde esset posita

notio, quae ab ipso determinatur (ratio quod: ʾ.sive cognoscendi[16]

/ 22.[17]

Nichts ist ohne bestimmenden Grund wahr: ˚das ist wahr, [k]˚wenn ˚das Subjekt in Absicht des Praedikats

bestimmt ist, mit Ausschließung des praedicati oppositi: atʾque (ʾ.Definitio des zureichenden Grundes) also etc.

˚Oder: da ˚.aus dem Begr.iff des Grundes erk.annt ˚werden kan, welches ˚.von ˚sich entgegenges.etzten Praedikaten dem Subjekt zuzuschreiben

sey ohne Grund wäre also ˚nichts, wor˚aus ˚.man ˚.einsehen könnte etc. folgl.ich ˚keine Wahrheit.[18]

[datum: 06.11.2013 / 26.06.2017]


[XXV.46a/14] ms 2



/ Daß ˚die Erk.enntnis ˚der ˚Wahrheit [a] rationis intuitu ˚sich gründe, ist ˚.ausgemacht: Allein ‹zur›[b] Gewißheit

begnügen wir uns oft ˚.mit ratio ʾconsequenter determinans: – diese macht ˚die Wahrh.eit ˚nicht ˚.aus ˚sondern macht ˚.sie nur

deutl.ich ˚.und es gibt stets ˚einen genet:isch zum wenigsten ident.ischen Grund: ratio: anteced.enter determ.inans[1]

/ §20[2]

˚Kein Ding ˚.hat ˚den Grund ˚.seiner Exsistenz in ˚sich selbst: – Denn sonst wäre es ˚.von ˚sich ˚eine Ursache

(ʾDefinitio causae) ˚der begrif ˚der causa ist eher, als des causati, folglich wäre es ‹zugl:eich› eher als es ist ˚und später

˚Das waz schlechterdings nothwendig exsist:irt: ist ˚nicht wegen ˚einer Ursache: ˚sondern ˚weil s.ein opposit:um gar ˚nicht zu den-

ken ist – dies ist blos ˚.ein Erk.enntnis Grund ˚.und es fehlt ihm ratio anteced.enter determ:inans kurz: es exsistirt.[3]

[c]˚Die neuern Philosophen legen ˜Gott, weil [d] er ˚das vollkomenste princip:ium ˚der ˚Gründe ist, ˚einen Grund in

˚sich selbst bey. Aber ohne Ursache: ˚denn ˚.die Reihe ˚der ˚Gründe endigt ˚sich ja am princip:ium Obj.ectio. ˚Das Das.eyn ˜Gottes

muß ja bestimmt s.ein ʾResponsio Ja aber ˚nicht real.iter sondern idealiter – ˚.aus ˚der höchsten mögl.ichen Realit:aet kan ich ˚.auch

nur ˚.auf ˚einen mögl.ichen ˜Gott schließen (Descartes[e]) – Also vielmehr so: ˚wenn wir uns ˚den begr.if ˚eines Wesens, ˚das wir

˜Gott nennen, denken, so bestimmen wir diesen begr.if so ˚daß er exsist:irt – Ist ˚die praeconcepta Notio wahr,

so exsistirt er ˚.auch.[4]

[Datum: 06.05.2013 / 24.05.2014 / 26.06.2017]


Explanatory Notes
[Ont 7-22]

ms 1


[1] [Zum Cap. 1. Sect. 1. Onto: §7] The title refers to Baumgarten, §7 (“Chapter 1” is on the “universal internal predicates of things,” and “Section 1” of this chapter is on “possibility” (and consists of §§7-18), but there is no clear discussion of this section here. The ‘N.C.1’ is similar to the metatextual markings found at the top of EP 531 (A1, B1) and EP 682 (A1), which are ‘V.N.C.VIII.’, ‘IX.N.C.’, and ‘N.C. XII.’, respectively. [N.C. = Notae Collegium]

[2] [1] Herder gives us here a rough translation of Proposition I of Kant’s New Elucidation (AA 1: 388):

“There is no unique, absolutely first, universal principle of all truths” (Walford tr.).

The paragraph following in the notes is a summary of the argument given in the essay. Kant is opposing Wolff, who viewed the principle of contradiction as being such a “unique principle,” as well as Baumgarten, who claims in §7 that the principle of contradiction is “absolutely primary” (absolute primum).

[3] [exponibile] Cf. Refl. #3263 (AA 16: 746). A proposition is exponible if it is the result of an inference, and thus analyzable into logically simpler propositions.

[4] [das principium … verum] Herder gives a near-quotation from New Elucidation (AA 1: 38824-25):

cujuscunque oppositum est falsum illud est verum
[“everything of which the opposite is false, is true”].

[5] [2)] Herder gives a shortened version of Proposition II that Kant offers in the New Elucidation (AA 1: 389):

“There are two absolutely first principles of all truths. One of them is the principle of affirmative truths, namely the proposition: whatever is, is [quidquid est, est]; the other is the principle of negative truths, namely the proposition: what is not, is not [quicquid non est, non est]. These two principles taken together are commonly called the principle of identity.” (Walford tr.)

[6] [quidquid non … est] The corresponding passage in New Elucidation for this and the following proposition is AA 1: 38923):

(1) cuiuscunque oppositum est falsum, illud est verum, hoc est, cuinscunque oppositum negatur, illud affirmandum est […] quicquid non non est, illud est. (2) cuiuscunque oppositum est verum, illud est falsum. […] quicquid non est, non est.
[“(1) everything of which the opposite is false is true; that is to say: everything of which the opposite is negated must be asserted; (2) everything of which the opposite is true is false.” (Walford tr.)]

[7] [Darjes] Joachim Georg Darjes (1717-1791), a German philosopher and jurist, studied theology at Rostock and Jena, and taught philosophy, and then also law, at Jena and Frankfurt/Oder. Studying under Aristotelians at Rostock, he later became a Wolffian at Jena, but eventually aligned his thinking more closely with Crusius. Kant’s library included Darjes’ Erste Gründe der philosophischen Sitten-Lehre, 2nd ed. (Jena 1755) and Discours über sein Natur- und Völker-Recht (Jena 1762-1763).

Baumgarten, §§7, 9, uses the equation “0 = A + not-A”. On Darjes, see Via ad veritatem (1755), ch. 3, as well as his Introductio in artem inveniendi (1742). The passage in New Elucidation reads (AA 1: 390):

“I even find that one philosopher of great renown, the celebrated Daries, has attempted to elucidate the principle of contradiction by means of signs, representing the affirmative concept by the sign ‘+A’ and the negative concept by the sign ‘-A’, which yields the equation ‘+A -A = 0’ In other words, affirming and negating the same thing is impossible or nothing. With all due respect to the great man, I would nonetheless say that I detect an indubitable begging of the question in this attempt. For if you invest the sign of the negative concept with the power of cancelling the affirmative concept, when the former is combined with the latter, you are obviously presupposing the principle of contradiction, which maintains that concepts which are the opposite of each other reciprocally cancel out each other.” (Walford tr.)

[8] [idem … nihil] See New Elucidation (AA 1: 39020):

idem affirmare et negare est impossibile s. nihil.

[“affirming and negating the same thing is impossible or nothing” (Walford tr.)]

[9] [3] Proposition III of New Elucidation claims that the principle of identity is better established than the principle of contradiction, and in the accompanying text claims that the most general principles will be expressible in the simplest terms and in the most universal terms (AA 1: 390-91).

[10] [Definitio des Unmöglchen ist] This is the main claim being made in the discussion of Proposition III of New Elucidation (AA 1: 391):

Principium contradictionis, quod effertur propositione: impossibile est, idem simul esse ac non esse, re ipsa non est nisi definitio impossibilis.

[“The principle of contradiction … is in fact nothing but the definition of the impossible.” (Walford tr.)]

[11] [cujuscunque … verum] This maxim is quoted verbatim as it appears in the discussion of each of the first three propositions in New Elucidation (AA 1: 38824-25, 38919, 39025, 3918-9).

[12] [er nicht zu schließen braucht] This is a brief reference to the scholium comprising the last paragraph of Section One of New Elucidation (AA 1: 391):

“It can be seen that God has no need of reasoning, for, since all things are exposed in the clearest possible way to his gaze, it is the same act of representation which presents to his understanding the things which are in agreement and those which are not. Nor does God need the analysis which is made necessary for us by the night which darkens our intelligence.” (Walford tr.)

Baumgarten makes this same point at §§865, 872.

[13] [determinare … oppositi] This is Proposition IV of New Elucidation (AA 1: 392), copied verbatim except for switching ‘est’ to ‘ist’. Baumgarten, §34, argues that …

“something is DETERMINATE if it is posited that it is A, or that it is not-A. What is posited only as either A or not-A, however, is INDETERMINATE.”

See also the discussion at Ont/Cos-A8.

[14] [eines Cirkels … sezze] This same example occurs in the discussion of Prop. IV of New Elucidation (AA 1: 392):

“If you ask for the ground of a circle, I shall not at all understand what you are asking for unless you add a predicate, for example, that it is, of all the figures which have a perimeter of the same length, the one which embraces the greatest area.” (Walford tr.)

[15] [quantum sufficiat] See the parallel discussion at Ont/Cos-A8 and the accompanying note.

[16] [Definitio … determinantis] This is an abbreviated and slightly garbled quotation of the first paragraph following Proposition IV of the New Elucidation. The proposition reads (AA 1: 391-92):

Determinare est ponere praedicatum cum exclusione oppositi.”
[“To determine is to posit a predicate while excluding its opposite.”]

In explaining this, Kant distinguishes between two kinds of grounds: the antecedent determining ground (the reason why, which is the ground of being or becoming) and the consequential determining ground (the reason that, which is the ground of knowing).

[17] [22] Baumgarten, §22, introduces the principle of sufficient ground, namely, that “nothing is without a sufficient ground.” Proposition V takes issue with this, replacing ‘sufficient ground’ (ratione sufficiente) with ‘determining ground’ (ratione determinante). This paragraph in the notes quotes Proposition V of New Elucidation and summarizes the first paragraph there.

[18] [Nichts ist … keine Wahrheit] This paragraph is a summary of the “alternate argument” for Proposition V of New Elucidation (AA 1: 393-94).

ms 2


[1] [Daß die Erkenntniß … determinans] This paragraph is a summary of the “scholium” at the end of the discussion of Proposition V of New Elucidation (AA 1: 394).  The Latin in New Elucidation reads: “ratione consequenter determinante“ and “rationem antecedenter determinantem”.

[2] [§20] Baumgarten, §20, argues that everything has a ground, but not that something has its own ground (although it does imply this, if something is not grounded by anything outside of it, e.g., God).

The paragraph in the notes here restates Proposition VI of New Elucidation:

“Proposition VI. To say that something has the ground of its existence within itself is absurd.”

Kant wrote this same claim, that a thing cannot contain its own ground, next to §20 in his 3rd edition copy of Baumgarten, and he specifies Wolff as the target of his criticism elsewhere in the Herder notes at Ont/Cos-A8.

[3] [Kein Ding … exsistirt] This paragraph summarizes the corollary to Proposition VI of New Elucidation (AA 1: 394).

[4] [so exsistirt er auch] This paragraph summarizes the scholium to Proposition VI (AA 1: 394-95), which concerns the ontological argument for God’s existence as presented in Descartes’s Fifth Meditation. The scholium ends with the comment:

“I have said these things, indeed, for the sake of those who support the Cartesian argument.”

The “newer philosophers” mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph are presumably Descartes and those who follow him on this point, such as Wolff (Primary Philosophy, §309) and Baumgarten, §820. Kant’s criticisms of Descartes’s ontological argument are further developed in his Only Possible Argument (AA 2: 78-79).


Textual Notes
[Ont 7-22]

[Here is a mark-up key for the transcription.]

ms 1


[a] Reading '˚Eine' as '˚Ein'.

[b] The manuscript looks like '˚wird etc', but the sense requires '˚werden'.

[c] What appears to be an insertion sign is written above and in front of 'es'.

[d] A left parenthesis is written here, but appears to be crossed out with a single vertical line.

[e] An 'op' is crossed out.

[g] An '˚.und ˚das princip.ium ʾcon' is crossed out.

[h] The text for the remainder of the page is written in a lighter ink and a smaller tip; Herder also maintains a narrow margin on the left, where section numbers are added.

[i] An 'en pd' is crossed-out.

[j] An 'also' is crossed-out.

[k] A 'dem' is crossed-out.

ms 2


[a] An '˚.auf ˚einem' is crossed-out.

[b] 'zur' is written above a crossed out 'bey'. We omit a '˚der' that follows 'bey' but was not crossed out.

[c] What looks like 'Ob Gott' is crossed-out here.

[d] A 'dem' is crossed-out.

[e] Reading 'Cartes.' as 'Descartes'.