Kant's Theory of Knowledge: An Analytical Introduction

Kant's Theory of Knowledge: An Analytical Introduction

Kant's Theory of Knowledge: An Analytical Introduction

Kant's Theory of Knowledge: An Analytical Introduction

Synopsis

The Critique of Pure Reason is Kant's acknowledged masterpiece, in which he tackles the question of how we can possibly have knowledge that does not rest on experience (a priori knowledge). The first half of the Critique advances a constructive theory of human cognition and defends the possibility of human knowledge against the skeptical empiricism of Hume. These sections of the Critique are difficult for beginners and for advanced students alike. While there exist many scholarly works discussing the Critique on an advanced level, this book is explicitly designed to be read alongside the text by first-time readers of Kant. Dicker makes Kant's views and arguments as accessible as possible without oversimplifying them, and synthesizes the views of contemporary scholars. Kant's Theory of Knowledge will be useful to both undergraduate and graduate students struggling with this notoriously difficult yet deeply influential thinker.

Excerpt

The parts of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason that present the constructive side of his theory of knowledge are the ones most commonly read by students and most intensely discussed by many Kant scholars. I refer especially to the Transcendental Aesthetic and the Transcendental Analytic, where Kant attempts to defend the possibility of human knowledge against the skeptical empiricism of David Hume without going back to the rationalism of a Leibniz, Descartes, or Spinoza. These sections of the Critique are also universally recognized to be among the most difficult of all philosophical writings, and students find them quite impenetrable if approached without the help of secondary sources. There are, of course, numerous scholarly works on the Critique that devote attention—indeed, often hundreds of pages—to these texts. All such works with which I am familiar are of extraordinarily high quality, in terms of both their philosophical merit and their depth of understanding of Kant's thought. As will be evident from this book, I have learned an enormous amount from several of these works, especially those of Robert Paul Wolff, Peter Strawson, Paul Guyer, Jonathan Bennett, James Van Cleve, and Henry Allison. These works, however, are in the main too difficult to be usable by all but graduate students and the most motivated and able undergraduates. There is also a number of books on the Critique written with student readers in mind. Some of these books are excellent, and it will be evident that I have benefited greatly from them as well, especially those of Justus Hartnack, T. E. Wilkerson, and W. H. Walsh. Yet there is not one of these books to which I would send a student and say: "Read this book alongside the Critique, and you will get a good understanding of what Kant was trying to show and of how he tried to show it." Rather, I would tell students to peruse these books in the way I myself have done: to look at each for insights into this or that part of what Kant says but not to expect a balanced analysis that both fits the text of the Critique and makes sense out of its complex arguments.

The aim of this book is to offer such an analysis for those crucial sections of the Critique where Kant presents the constructive side of his theory of knowledge.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.