# Kant's First Antinomy, of Space and Time

### Critique of Pure Reason, pp. A 426-429, Norman Kemp Smith translation

Kant's Antinomy of Space and Time is the first of four Antinomies. The meaning of the Antinomies and the possibility of expanding them is considered elsewhere (http://www.friesian.com/antinom.htm).

ThesisAntithesis
The world has a beginning in time, and is also limited as regards space.The world has no beginning, and no limits in space; it is infinite as regards both time and space.
ProofProof
If we assume that the world has no beginning in time, then up to every given moment an eternity has elapsed, and there has passed away in that world an infinite series of successive states of things. Now the infinity of a series consists in the fact that it can never be completed through successive synthesis. It thus follows that it is impossible for an infinite world-series to have passed away, and that a beginning of the world is therefore a necessary condition of the world's existence. This was the first point that called for proof. As regards the second point, let us again assume the opposite, namely, that the world is an infinite given whole of co-existing things. Now the magnitude of a quantum which is not given in intuition [i.e. perception] as within certain limits, can be thought only through the synthesis of its parts, and the totality of such a quantum only through a synthesis that is brought to completion through repeated addition of unit to unit. In order, therefore, to think, as a whole, the world which fills all spaces, the successive synthesis of the parts of an infinite world must be viewed as completed, that is, an infinite time must be viewed as having elapsed in the enumeration of all co-existing things. This, however, is impossible. An infinite aggregate of actual things cannot therefore be viewed as a given whole, nor consequently as simultaneously given. The world is, therefore, as regards extension in space, not infinite, but is enclosed within limits. This was the second point in dispute.For let us assume that it has a beginning. Since the beginning is an existence which is preceded by a time in which the thing is not, there must have been a preceding time in which the world was not, i.e. an empty time. Now no coming to be of a thing is possible in an empty time, because no part of such a time possesses, as compared with any other, a distinguishing condition of existence rather than of non-existence; and this applies whether the thing is supposed to arise of itself or through some other cause. In the world many series of things can, indeed, begin; but the world itself cannot have a beginning, and is therefore infinite in respect of past time. As regards the second point, let us start by assuming the opposite, namely, that the world in space is finite and limited, and consequently exists in an empty space which is unlimited. Things will therefore not only be related in space but also related to space. Now since the world is an absolute whole beyond which there is no object of intuition, and therefore no correlate with which the world stands in relation, the relation of the world to empty space would be a relation of it to no object. But such a relation, and consequently the limitation of the world by empty space, is nothing. The world cannot, therefore, be limited in space; that is, it is infinite in respect of extension.
These proofs really only use one argument, that an infinite series cannot be completed ("synthesized") either in thought, perception, or imagination. That was roughly Aristotle's argument against infinite space.There are two arguments here: First, that there is no reason for the universe to come to be at one time rather than another, where all points in an empty time are alike. Second, that objects can only be spatially related to each other, not to empty space, which is not an object.

Stephen Hawking says that Kant's arguments for the thesis and antithesis of the antinomy of time are effectively the same (p. 8 in A Brief History of Time), but note that they are really based on quite different principles. The argument for the thesis is based on the impossibility of constructing an infinite series, while the argument for the antithesis is an argument from the principle of "sufficient reason," a kind of argument first used (on just this subject and to this effect) by Parmenides. Although Hawking says that both arguments are based on an "unspoken assumption" of infinite time, he actually agrees with the argument of the thesis that time is not infinite.