Critique of Practical Reason

Critique of Practical Reason

Critique of Practical Reason

Critique of Practical Reason

Synopsis

With this volume, Werner Pluhar completes his work on Kant's three Critiques, an accomplishment unique among English language translators of Kant. At once accurate, fluent, and accessible, Pluhar's rendition of the Critique of Practical Reason meets the standards set in his widely respected translations of the Critique of Judgement (1987) and the Critique of Pure Reason (1996).

Excerpt

The Critique of Practical Reason (1788) is the second of the famous three Critiques that together form the core of Immanuel Kant's philosophical writings. In these works, Kant assesses the cognitive powers of the human mind with the aim of expounding, justifying, and delimiting the use that can be made of them a priori, or without the aid of experience. Each Critique investigates these capacities as they are employed in a different domain of activity. The Critique of Pure Reason (1781) examines the theoretical use of reason in the natural sciences; the Critique of Practical Reason is concerned with the use of reason in action, and in particular with the rational principles of morality that govern human conduct; and the Critique of Judgment (1790) considers the power of judgment as it is employed in our assessments of the products of nature and of human art as beautiful or purposive.

The second Critique is largely a self-contained work, which may profitably be studied by readers who lack a detailed acquaintance with the other Critiques. But as Kant is a systematic philosopher par excellence, a full appreciation of this work requires an understanding of the place it occupies within his philosophical system. Of particular significance is the fact that the second Critique carries to completion the momentous project Kant initiated in the first Critique of rethinking speculative metaphysics as it had been practiced throughout the entire history of Western philosophy. Although the second Critique is of interest to many readers today mainly because of the light it throws on particular themes and issues within Kant's ethical theory, Kant is grappling in this work with the much larger question of how ethics and metaphysics themselves are related.

In addressing this larger issue, Kant is responding in part to a general problem that had become pressing in his day and that has remained with us to the present. Ever since the bloody religious conflicts of the Reformation and the emergence of science and secular society in the modern period, philosophers have looked for ways of providing a secure basis for morality that is independent of the specific religious creeds and traditions that have . . .

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