TRANSCENDENTALISM is an expression introduced by Kant for "the idea of a science for which the critique of pure reason is to outline the whole plan architectonically, i.e., accord ing to principles, with full guarantee of the completeness and se curity of all the pieces composing this structure." In this sense, it is the system of all principles of pure reason. More pre cisely, the task of transcendentalism consists in the solution of the question : how are synthetical propositions a priori possible, i.e., how can pure intuitions and pure concepts, which are en tirely a priori and not derived from nor found on experience, refer to objects of experience and claim for these objects universal and necessary validity? (Kritik der reinen Vernunft, 2nd ed. p. 73.) Transcendentalism, according to Kant, is possible only as a system, i.e., it has to seek its concepts according to a principle because they must issue pure and unadulterated from the under standing as an absolute unity, and must, therefore, themselves co here with one another according to an idea (ibid. p.92). As this idea, which establishes and guarantees the coherence between all single cognitions, Kant designates the idea of "possible experience" and an "object of experience." Synthetical judgments a priori, whether they belong to the sphere of pure intuition or to the sphere of pure understanding, have the common characteristic that they form those basic functions by which alone it is possible to refer our images to an object and thus to secure for them objective validity. In the section "on the supreme principle of all synthet ical judgments" Kant shows that this reference to an object is not characteristic of sense impressions as such, but that it is founded on a "synthesis by concepts," e.g., the concepts of mag nitude, persistence, causality, etc. Without such concepts, experi ence would not be cognition but a mere rhapsody of perceptions which would not enter together into any context of a coherently connected consciousness. Cognition a priori, accordingly, has
truth (i.e., conformity with the object) only because it contains nothing but what is necessary for the synthetic unity of experience in general. The intuitions and concept's a priori, set forth sys tematically within transcendentalism, are, as conditions of the possibility of experience, at the same time conditions of the possi bility of the objects of experience and hence applicable to these objects without any restriction (ibid. p. 196 seq.).
The term "transcendental" was not created by Kant. The ex pression goes back to the scholastic philosophy (Knittermeyer Der Terminus transcendental, 192o). Here it is synonymous with "transcendent." Transcendental or "transcendent" concepts are such as transcend the realm of finite, conditioned being, and lead on to the Infinite and Unconditioned. Only by such a transcend ence is metaphysical and religious cognition possible. It is neces sary to go beyond the variability of finite things and the limits of empirical self-consciousness, if a true knowledge of God is to be reached. This use of the word is found already in Augu stine. In scholasticism, those concepts are called transcendentia which are not confined to a specific type of being, but are valid for all types. Thus the concepts Thing (res), One (unum), Some thing (aliquid), can be applied to any being. Scholasticism gradu ally developed a fixed order of the transcouientia. In the Summa Theologiae of Albertus Magnus One, True and Good (unum, verum, bonum) are introduced as the first essential determinations of being. With Thomas Aquinas, Being is first determined as Thing (res) which expresses the "quiddity" or "essence" (quiddi tas sive essentia) of Being; to this are added the concepts One and Something, True and Good (De Veritate). Ens, res, unum, aliquid, verum, bonum, thus became the "transcendental" concepts of tradition. Kant, himself, in the Critique of Pure Reason, makes occasional reference to this tradition (2nd ed., p. 113).