Kant's Theory of Knowledge: An Outline of One Central Argument in the Critique of Pure Reason

By Graham Bird | Go to book overview
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PREFACE

THIS book is intended as a limited account of one central argument in the Critique of Pure Reason. It is not an elementary or introductory account of the Critique, and presupposes some acquaintance with the main features of Kant's theory of knowledge. It is not simply a commentary on Kant's text, but an attempt to pursue one continuous argument through the Critique. That this argument extends from the Prefaces and Introduction, through the Aesthetic and Analytic, to the Paralogisms and the Third Antinomy suggests that it forms a central part of Kant's doctrines. But there is much else in the Critique which has been left out here. In particular nothing has been said specifically of what we should call Kant's philosophy of science.

The Critique of Pure Reason has had some influence on recent British philosophy. Significant references to Kant have been made in several recent books (for example, Hampshire: Thought and Action, Strawson: Individuals, Stenius: Wittgenstein's Tractatus), in which Kant's views are either re-stated in modern terms, or compared with the views of modern philosophers, like Wittgenstein (Cf. Strawson: op. cit., Ch. 3, Stenius: op. cit., Ch. XI). It is true that Kant, perhaps more than other traditional philosophers, invites such interpretation and comparison, and there are good historical reasons for this. In this book an attempt is made to provide a basis for such interpretations by discussing Kant's arguments in terms of a modern philosophical idiom. But since much of it is concerned to explain what Kant said, the philosophic issues cannot be exhaustively discussed, and are only introduced through Kant's attitudes towards them. No reasonably comprehensive account of a traditional philosopher could do more without assuming from the start what his views actually are; and in Kant's case no such assumption can sensibly be made.

This book will, therefore, appear defective for two opposed reasons. On the one hand it will not satisfy those who look for the

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