Interpreting Kant's Critiques

Interpreting Kant's Critiques

Interpreting Kant's Critiques

Interpreting Kant's Critiques

Synopsis

Karl Ameriks here collects his most important essays to provide a uniquely detailed and up-to-date analysis of Kant's main arguments in all three major areas of his work: theoretical philosophy (Critique of Pure Reason), practical philosophy (Critique of Practical Reason), and aesthetics(Critique of Judgment). Guiding the volume is Ameriks's belief that one cannot properly understand any one of these Critiques except in the context of the other two. The essays can be read individually, but read together they offer a comprehensive guide to the main themes of the most influential ofall modern philosophical systems.

Excerpt

Kant's attitude toward metaphysics and ontology is ambiguous in his Critical work. On the standard view of the Critique of Pure Reason, the positive and negative aspects of this attitude map neatly onto the two major sections of that work. After that first section presents a 'Transcendental Analytic' of the understanding, or a 'metaphysics of experience', which legitimates the use of certain pure concepts necessary for structuring our spatio-temporal knowledge, a Transcendental Dialectic is provided to expose fallacies that theoretical reason entangles itself in when it extends itself beyond experience. Just prior to that Dialectic, Kant also inserts an 'Appendix' on 'concepts of reflection', which sketches how the restriction of our use of pure concepts to the domain of experience limits the general claims of the traditional ontology of the Leibnizian system. These attacks would appear to complement each other. Whereas the specific errors of rational psychology, rational cosmology, and rational theology are exposed in the core of the Dialectic, the critique of ontology and the general discussions of the operations of 'reflection' and 'reason' suggest a principle of closure for dismissing all claims of our theoretical reason that would stray beyond a merely immanent spatio-temporal field.

On this view, there is little positive theoretical doctrine in the latter half of the Critique; at the most, it is noted that Kant's discussion of the antinomies in cosmology can be seen as offering support for the doctrine of transcendental idealism. and even this discussion can be seen as making a negative point about a negative doctrine—that is, as showing merely that we run into contradictions if we take our spatio-temporal knowledge to apply to things in themselves. But, while the treatment of transcendental idealism is a high point of the Dialectic, by itself it is not sufficient for explaining Kant's entire mature attitude to the tradition. in the Dissertation (1770) he had already claimed the ideality of space and time, but this hardly stopped him from making numerous specific positive

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