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- Name: KANT’S CRITICISM OF METAPHYSICS: REVIEW OF ITS IMPLICATION FOR METAPHYSICS IN IGBO THOUGHT
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Metaphysics can be defined as that branch of philosophy that studies
reality in its most comprehensive scope and fundamental principles. It
is the science that tries to determine the real nature of things.
The thesis is an attempt to examine critically the metaphysical
foundation of knowledge in Igbo philosophy. It shows that metaphysical
knowledge is accessible by the Igbo mind as against Kantian
postulation that metaphysical knowledge is impossible. The Thesis
goes further to prove that in Igbo metaphysical worldview, the mind or
reason can penetrate the unknowable world to discern the things in
themselves as against Kantian postulation that reason is incapable of
piercing into the domain of things in themselves.
It also shows that the synthetic apriori knowledge is some thing that is
common to both Igbo metaphysical thought and Kantian critical
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title Page – – – – – – – – – ii
Approval Page – – – – – – – – iii
Certification – – – – – – – – – iv
Dedication – – – – – – – – – v
Acknowledgements – – – – – – – – vi
Table of Contents – – – – – – – – vii-ix
Abstracts – – – – – – – – – x
1.0 General Introduction – – – – – – 1
1.1 Background of the Study – – – – – 2
1.2 Statement of the Problem – – – – – 3
1.3 Scope of the Study – – – – – – 4
1.4 Purpose of the Study – – – – – – 4
1.5 Significance of the Study – – – – – 5
1.6 Methodology – – – – – – – 5
1.7 Organization of the Study – – – – – 6
1.8 Clarification of Basic Terms – – – – – 7
Endnotes – – – – – – – – 13
Literature Review – – – – – – – 14
Endnotes – – – – – – – – 53
3.0 Kant’s Epistemology and His Critique of Metaphysics 57
3.1 The Human Knowing Powers – – – – 61
3.1.1 Sensibility – – – – – – – – 62
3.1.2 Understanding – – – – – – – 67
3.1.3 Reason – – – – – – – – 77
3.2 Classification of Judgment – – – – – 81
3.2.1 A Priori and A Posteriori Judgments – – – 82
3.2.2 Analytic and Synthetic Judgments – – – 83
3.2.3 Synthetic A Priori Judgment – – – – – 85
3.3 How are Synthetic A Priori Propositions Possible? – 87
3.3.1 How is Metaphysics in General Possible – – 89
3.3.2 Real Metaphysical Questions – – – – 91
3.3.3 The Paralogism – – – – – – – 93
3.4.1 The Antinomy – – – – – – – 102
3.4.2 The Ideal. – – – – – – – – 109
3.4.3 How is Metaphysics Possible as a Science? – – 128
Endnotes – – – – – – – – 130
4.0 An Exposition of Igbo Metaphysical Worldview – – 137
4.1 The Concepts of Uwa – – – – – – 140
4.2 Substance – – – – – – – – 145
4.3 Causality – – – – – – – – 145
4.4 Being and God – – – – – – – 148
4.4.1 Igbo Epistemology and Metaphysics of God – – 152
4.4.2 gods, spirits – – – – – – – 160
4.5 Personality – – – – – – – – 163
4.6 Immortality of the Soul – – – – – – 167
4.7 Igbo Eschatology – – – – – – – 169
4.8 Who are the Ancestors – – – – – – 170
Endnotes – – – – – – – – 173
Critical Assessment of Kant’s Criticism of Metaphysics.
5.1 The Possibility and impossibility of Metaphysics:
An Evaluation – – – – – – – 179
5.2 Critical Evaluation of the Implication of Kant’s Anti
Metaphysical bias for Metaphysics in Igbo thought – 194
5.3 Conclusion – – – – – – – – 203
Endnotes – – – – – – – – 208
Bibliography – – – – – – – 211
The debate about the existence of metaphysics could be formulated in
a concise statement by Kant, thus: “Is metaphysics at all possible?”1
Kant’s critique of the transcendent (traditional) metaphysics is a
contribution to the classical debate between the rationalists and the
empiricists about the true source of knowledge.
It is also a reaction to the unpopularity of metaphysics among the
scientifically minded thinkers of the modern period; and to the
devastating criticism the British empiricists made against metaphysics.
For David Hume, every book on metaphysics should be committed to
the flames because it contains nothing but sophistry and illusion. It was
the brilliant criticism by Hume against some traditional beliefs that
immediately woke Kant from his dogmatic slumber and spurred his
own philosophical ideas.
For Kant, what has hitherto been called metaphysics cannot satisfy
any critical mind, but to forego it entirely is impossible. He, therefore,
had to take up the arduous task in his critique of Pure Reason. He
came out with the conclusion that metaphysics is very much possible
only as a natural tendency or natural disposition but impossible as a
This research work is geared towards the review of the
implication of Kant’s critique of metaphysics for metaphysics in African
thought. The concerns of traditional African metaphysics are, perhaps,
best characterized in the phase of Kant as God, freedom and
We have attempted understanding the basis of African traditional
metaphysics which has to do with ‘Being’ and its ontological
appurtenances like personality, substance, ancestor etc to proved that
the African mind unlike Kant’s is capable of penetrating into these
areas. While Kant limits his enquiry to experience and reason, the
African go beyond that to explore extra-empirical and extra
ratiocinative means often called extra-sensory perception (ESP).
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Metaphysics as the science of the ultimate cause of reality as it is
classically conceived has never been seriously question until the
modern trend of philosophy. Skepticism about metaphysics was
brought to the climax by David Hume who had a strong influence on
Kant. Ever since then, metaphysics has been under serious
intermittent attacks and fire.
Consequently, metaphysics as a discipline has not only been
criticized by post-medieval philosophy but regrettably attacked as
being vacuous and meaningless as a result of the mistaken conception
of it as not being very much concerned with the concrete and individual
things of sensory experience.
With the upsurge and wave of disenchantment and
disinterestedness in any form of metaphysical inquiry, even right from
William of Ockham, Kant calculatively posed the question whether
metaphysics is possible at all and if it is possible, whether as a
science. He concluded by affirming that metaphysics is possible as
natural predisposition but impossible as a science. This audacious
problematic assertion stands to spell doom to this sublime science
especially to some Igbo man or woman who’s live can never be devoid
of metaphysical assumptions and beliefs.
Our major task, at any rate, is to have a flash-back at the status
of metaphysics during the medieval period and to re-examine the
positions of the post-medieval anti-metaphysicians that culminated in
Immanuel Kant. A critical review will be made of the implications of
Kant’s view on metaphysics in the Igbo context.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM.
Basically, this thesis is concerned with the question: Is
metaphysics at all possible? Kant has demonstrated its impossibility as
So the problems we want to address in this study are:
i. Is metaphysics possible from Igbo point of view?
ii. What is the implication of accepting Kant’s criticism of
metaphysics for the Igbo?
1.3 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this research is to explore Kant’s epistemology and
his critique of metaphysics especially its implications for Igbo concepts
of God, freedom and immortality of the soul.
There will be an exposition of other philosophers’ conception of
metaphysics in general.
1.4 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The problem raised by Kant concerning human knowledge;
it’s in ability to go beyond the world of phenomenon has posited
serious problem for Igbo metaphysics hence, the purpose of this
1. To show that metaphysical knowledge is accessible to human
2. That reason can penetrate the world of noumenon to discern the
things-in-themselves as against Kantian postulation that reason
is incapable of piercing into the domain of things in themselves.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The thesis exposes to some critical minded Igbo persons, the
negative implications of consenting to the Kantian Postulations, that
the mind cannot know anything about God, the world and human
Therefore the significance of the study are:
1. To help us grasp a clear picture of what metaphysics is all
2. To x-ray the implication of its denial as a science
To prove that Igbo minds are capable of penetrating into the
domain of the numenon.
To create the awareness of the importance of emphasizing valid
and objective knowledge this helps in fostering understanding and
clearing of doubts in metaphysical issues and conceptions.
To have a sound critical evaluation of Kant’s critique of
metaphysics and its implication for the African metaphysics, the
ratiocinative method is applied in this research. This is the process of
logical and methodical reasoning on the concept, of metaphysics.
In these methods, the concept of metaphysics are evaluated
based in the inductive findings of Kant, the deductive method is applied
to infer from some basic concepts of metaphysics like God, world and
freedom to the individual philosophic view. The method of
hermeneutics also came into play in this study. In this method, we
study Kant’s notion of metaphysics and the Igbo understanding of
metaphysics by interpreting the philosophical views embedded in it.
Library research will also be adopted.
A critical, systematic and of course, analytical assessment of the
original works of Kant will be our guiding principle. These methods help
us to have a critical evaluation of the implication of Kant’s critique of
metaphysics for Igbo conception of metaphysics.
1.7 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
In general, this thesis contains five chapters: chapter one offers
us the bird’s eye view of the entire work. Chapter two is literature
review. Here we make a critical review of to Kant’s metaphysics and
other relevant materials. Chapter three treats Kant’s epistemology and
his critique of the metaphysics. Chapter Four analyses metaphysics in
The climax of the entire work is chapter five which exposes the
implication of Kant’s anti-metaphysical bias for metaphysics in Igbo
thought. This chapter is the critical evaluation of the entire work.
1.8 CLARIFICATION OF BASIC TERMS:
Metaphysics apart from its traditional and etymological definitions
has diverse definitions given differently by different scholars.
However, in whatever way, it is defined; it should include the necessity
for a universal outlook toward reality.
The etymological meaning of metaphysics holds that
metaphysics is derived from the Greek word Meta-Ta-Physika meaning
“after physics” or transcending the physical.
Andronicus of Rhodes, the chronicler of Aristotle’s work on
physical nature as metaphysics is concerned with issues bordering on
the extra-mental, spiritual, abstract, universal or transcendental
discipline. This cannot totally be said to be the understanding
metaphysical evidence. Like Immanuel Kant, we see metaphysics as
concerning the totality of reality whether God as in rational theology, or
man, nature and the universe as in rational cosmology or mind and its
ideas as in rational psychology.
However, these are not periscope wholly through a priori
concepts as some have opined but through the interplay of opinion and
a posteriori concepts or through experience and reason. Metaphysics
is a science that seeks ultimate understanding of reality.
A.J. Ayer has succinctly defined metaphysics as that branch of
philosophical discourse, which deals with the fundamental question
about the structure of reality. 2
Metaphysics is defined by Collingwood as a science of pure being and
as a science, which deals with the pre suppositions underlying ordinary
Metaphysics being the study of reality as a whole is concerned with
the generalization of experience for the purpose of identifying African
Traditional Metaphysics fundamental entities 4 Metaphysics therefore
involves a synthesis of all experiences in order to achieve a coherent
whole which gives a complete picture of reality.
1.8.2 AFRICAN (Igbo) METAPHYSICS
African Metaphysics in the words of Ozumba “should be seen as
the African way of perceiving, interpreting and making meaning out of
interactions, among beings and reality in general. It is the totality of the
African’s perception of reality” 5.
These are two different ways of understanding the philosophical
concept of substance; the first is more generic. Here “substance ”
corresponds to the Greek term “Ousia”, which means something that
stands under or that grounds things.6
According to the generic sense, the substances in a given
philosophical system are those things, which are the foundational or
fundamental entities of reality. 7 The second use of the concept is more
specific, according to this; substance is a particular kind of basic entity.
The individual substances are the subjects of properties in the various
other categories, and they can gain and lose such properties whilst
The doctrine of categories explains the way we think of things.
The term categories represent the actual modes of being in the extra
mental world, and not simply modes of mental representation. They
represent the ways in which realities exist or are realized. Aristotle
classified reality into “ten distinct categories -substance and nine
The twelve categories in Kant are media through which the human
mind functions. They are pre conditions for thinking and for human
Some philosophers argue that since the concept “being”
transcends all genus (class) and species (specification) of what is,
being is indefinable for them; all we can do is that we can attempt
some description of what being is. We can with Parmenides conceives
being as one and unchanging. So, as we accept his description of
being, we also accept Heraclitus’ own being as always in flux.
Plato attempted a synthesis of the two description in his form and
being in the natural world
The African (Igbo) conceives everything as being. There is
nothing that exists that is taken lightly.
In deed, even Aristotle made a more Plausible synthesis by also
describing everything that exists as being 9.
1.8.6. NOUMENONAL REALITY
Literally the word Noumenon means object of thought. Kant
sometimes speaks of noumenon as objects of the understanding
But to say that noumenon means object of thought does not carry us
far towards a comprehension of Kant’s doctrine.
The notion that human beings enjoy or can enjoy an intellectual
intuition of noumena is precisely one of the position, which Kant is
must concerned to exclude. So it is best to drop all etymological
considerations and to concentrate on Kant’s actual use of the term,
which he takes pains to elucidate.
Kant uses the concept noumena to refer to things-in-themselves,
that is, things which appears, apart from its appearing 11. Kant also
speaks about the free, non-empirical ego and about God as being
noumena and as possessing noumenal reality 12.
1.8.7. PHENOMENAL REALITY
Phenomenal reality according to Kant, meant the world as we
experience it 13. This knowledge is limited by the manner in which our
faculties of perception and thinking organize the raw data of
1.8.8. A PRIORI JUDGMENT
A priori judgment or statement is explicative, adding nothing to
the content of cognition.
It depends wholly on the principle of contradiction. Analytic judgment is
1.8.9. A POSTERIORI JUDGMENT
This is a judgment that is implicative, increasing the given
cognition. Synthetic judgment is classically believed to be a posteriori
(posterior and dependent in experience).
Ancestor according to Chambers 20th Century dictionary means
” one from whom a person in descended: a fore father” for the Africans
especially the Igbos of Nigeria those who qualify to be counted among
the ancestors are said to have died good death. (ezigbo onwu) the
ancestors are regarded as mysteriously present all round the family.
They are invoked in prayer, in thanksgiving or in supplication.
1. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 4th ed., trans. Norman
Kemp Smith (London: The Macmillan Press Ltd, 1976) p.56
2. Ayer, A.J. The central question of philosophy.
(Harmondsworth: Penguin Book, 1973), p 23.
3. Collingwood, R.G. An Essay on metaphysics (Oxford.
Clarendon Press, 1969), p. 12.
4. Ozumba G.O Quodibet Journal: Volume 6. July-September
6. Aristotle, The basic works of Aristotle, ed. Richard Mckeon,
(New York: 2001), p 10.
7. Bryan Register httP:// enlightenment. Super saturated.
Com/essay & cert/bryan register/Aristotle-substance. Htm/Retrieved on March 9th 2009.
8. J.I. Ackrill, Aristotle: Categories and De Interpretation,
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963) p 63.
9. Aristotle, Op. Cit. Metaphysics, Bk.V. Chapter 7, p 760.
10. Fredrick Copleston, A History of philosophy Vol. 6. (London
New York, continuum 1960), p. 267.
11. Ibid 268.
12. Ibid 271.
13. Ibid 267.
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