Kant: A Very Short Introduction Revised Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
"Roger Scruton faced perhaps the most intractable task of all in giving an elementary account of Kant's philosophy... but he does it extremely elegantly and neatly."--Listener
About the Author
Roger Scruton is a well-known philosopher and the author of The Aesthetics of Music and a co-author of German Philosophers: Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche.
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Working with Kant's writing demands a great deal of concentration and consistent hard work on the reader's part, so summarizing him always risks being either too superficial (e.g., some popular interpretations of the categorical imperative) or getting almost as complex as the original. I thought Scruton's work tended more towards the latter end of the scale, but I'd rather try to tackle that than the overly simple. Read and enjoy, but be ready for some hard going.
My two stars ("I don't like it) really mean I can't understand it. No grief intended for Herr Kant or Mr. Scruton. You'll have to bring some background to this one... or more capacity for abstract thinking than this humble reviewer could manage!
Top international reviews
Beyond that, there were large chunks that, for me at least, made for tortuous reading - no doubt a reflection of my own intellectual limitations rather than any failing of the author, who, to be fair, pre-warns that a re-read will be necessary. I realise that Kant's ideas are notoriously tough even without their own ambiguities and contradictions, but other readers have obviously got a lot out of this book, so I shall probably file this under 'to re-read'. In the meantime, take this rating as a first impression - possibly of use to other beginners, and hopefully to be revised at a later date.
Scruton writes very well, and makes the difficult areas as plain as can be. I like the way he explains that the meaning of a particular area is disputed so it isn't really possible in many places for him to say "this is what it means", but he can at least give warning that it is disputed, and then say what he believes it means, and that this is a recognised view among Kantian scholars.
The book is also quite broad - we get a summary of Kant's life - then chapters on the major works by Kant - Critiques of Pure Reason, Practical Reason and Judgement, as well as his shorter books, introductions and so on. For my purposes I would have liked more on the Critique of Pure Reason, but as an introduction I can't complain that he doesn't give that special treatment.
The book was actually written in 1982 - I suspect before "Very Short Introductions" began, and so as they sometimes do it is a re-publishing of another title under the "VSI" brand - this doesn't really affect anything as far as I can tell, except there are some references to Communism and Eastern Europe.
In summary, for me this is the best introduction to Kant I have found, although I would also recommend the chapter on Kant in Bertrand Russell's "History of Western Philosophy" ( History of Western Philosophy (Routledge Classics) ) - I found that very useful too, but obviously it is just a chapter, not a whole book.
Kant's supreme argument vindicating human rationality is presented in a brief summary, using language that is relatively easy to understand even if you don't have a degree in philosophy. Morality, humanity and civilised behaviour are shown to have rational bases, without the need for religion.
That doesn't mean you have to abandon religion, of course, if that's what does it for you (Kant himself wasn't an atheist), but rational, self-interested actions are shown to lead to something other than unprincipled, dog-eat-dog behaviour, which itself is shown to be irrational.
With this book, you will be able to bandy Kant's Categorical Imperative round the pub after a few pints, without sounding like a pretentious tool. That won't stop you being a pretentious tool if you are one already, of course, but you won't be able to blame Kant for that.
So, overall, very disappointing. The author is not the most engaging or interesting of writers. He has taken a subject matter which should have engaged and provoked - and made it thoroughly boring!