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Critique of Pure Reason (Dover Philosophical Classics) Paperback – November 17, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Eric Watkins has done a fine job of abridging the Critique to a manageable size while preserving those sections most often assigned in a survey course, including enough of the Analytic to provide a continuous argument. Students will get a good sense of the whole from the parts he includes. I recommend it enthusiastically. --Kenneth R. Winkler, Wellesley College

--This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Philosophical Classics
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; New edition edition (November 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486432548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486432540
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,833,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Let me start by addressing some misconceptions you'll see as you roam around these reviews.
First of all, there are a couple of low reviews that refer to Kant as being "anti-reason," "anti-truth," a socialist, a collectivist, etc. These are written by Objectivists - followers of Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand has about the same relationship to serious philosophy as McDonalds does to good cooking. She hated Kant, but never quite seemed to understand him. No surprise - he's hard.
Which is the second point. This is not an easy book at all. That's why it's most often assigned to graduate students. Even undergrads can easily get a philosophy degree without ever touching this book. It's bloody hard. This is because, well, its ideas are radical and difficult, and because Kant is a careful philosopher.
It is not, and this is my third point, because Kant is a bad writer. Quite the opposite. He's a great writer. The fact of the matter is, though, that his subject matter is not exactly a page-turner. But, I mean, what do you expect. You're reading academic philosophy. There's a handful of academic books that are both worthwhile and fun to read, and that's just a fact of life. Kant, however, is quite clear - indeed, he does the service of going over his points more than once - a luxury you won't get when you advance to Hegel. Furthermore, believe it or not, there are jokes in Kant. The best of them is a footnote, in which he notes that "Deficiancy in judgment is that which is ordinarily referred to as stupidity, and for such a failing their is no remedy."
Unfortunately, it's all too common on Amazon to bash academic books because they're hard, obscure, or poorly written. The fact of the matter is that these books are not for everyone.
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Format: Paperback
Note: this is the edition I'm familiar with, but it's out of print. There are new editions (both with this translation and newer ones) that would be worth checking out. This one has no real guide or preface, but I kind of like that.

Norman Kemp Smith's translation seems to be one of the standard English translations of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Is it the best? I don't speak German, but it's certainly serviceable.

This is a daunting work. It's also a necessary work, inasmuch as any understand of contemporary thought and intellectual history must encounter it. Kant has influenced nearly every major school of thought and cultural trend for the last 200 years. Below, I'll try to sketch his thought in this Critique.

This is the story of Immanuel Kant, who found philosophy a mess and sought to fix it. Specifically, he was a former Rationalist who was disconcerted by the critique of British Empiricism (specifically the skeptical philosophy of David Hume). He sought to provide a grounding for the truths of empirical science and mathematics, establish the possibility of religious faith and practice, while at the same time avoid dogmatism in metaphysical reasoning.

How did he seek to do this? By establishing a critique of reason whereby he understands the validity of all mental constructs. Kant distinguish between judgments which are a priori (prior to experience) and a posteriori (arising out of experience), and judgments which are "analytic" (trivial, tautological) and "synthetic" (where the predicate adds something that is not contained within the subject). Are synthetic a priori judgments possible? Kant answers yes, and much of this book deals with what follows from that.

First Kant deals with how we have sense experience.
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Format: Paperback
Pluhar's translation is wonderful. The extensive annotation makes the whole work perfectly clear, offering alternative translations and pointing out the technical German vocabulary (so essential to understanding Kant). The work flows beautifully, and though the material was dense, I could hardly put it down at times. If you're just starting Kant, do not start here. I'd suggest the excellent series by W.T. Jones called A History of Western Philosophy (specifically volume four). Read and reread it. Understand the basics about Kant, then, when you have the proper grounding, go on to the Critique. It will reward careful study.
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Format: Paperback
Mr Werner S. Pluhar has done us all non-German readers a great favor:

A clear, complete (with a German-English Glossary followed by the English-German Index), fluent translation of Kant's major work.

It's the one I feel to be the most enjoyable and closer to the original.

Patricia Kitcher's Introduction is very helpful to any new Kant's reader.

The editing and format of this edition is well designed and inviting to

the eye.
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Format: Paperback
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is considered one of the giants of philosophy, of his age or any other. It is largely this book that provides the foundation of this assessment. Whether one loves Kant or hates him (philosophically, that is), one cannot really ignore him; even when one isn't directly dealing with Kantian ideas, chances are great that Kant is made an impact.

Kant was a professor of philosophy in the German city of Konigsberg, where he spent his entire life and career. Kant had a very organised and clockwork life - his habits were so regular that it was considered that the people of Konigsberg could set their clocks by his walks. The same regularity was part of his publication history, until 1770, when Kant had a ten-year hiatus in publishing. This was largely because he was working on this book, the 'Critique of Pure Reason'.

Kant as a professor of philosophy was familiar with the Rationalists, such as Descartes, who founded the Enlightenment and in many ways started the phenomenon of modern philosophy. He was also familiar with the Empiricist school (John Locke and David Hume are perhaps the best known names in this), which challenged the rationalist framework. Between Leibniz' monads and Hume's development of Empiricism to its logical (and self-destructive) conclusion, coupled with the Romantic ideals typified by Rousseau, the philosophical edifice of the Enlightenment seemed about to topple.

Kant rode to the rescue, so to speak. He developed an idea that was a synthesis of Empirical and Rationalist ideas. He developed the idea of a priori knowledge (that coming from pure reasoning) and a posterior knowledge (that coming from experience) and put them together into synthetic a priori statements as being possible.
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