Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason
The focus of this course is Kant’s theoretical philosophy: his epistemology and metaphysics. We will aim for a systematic reconstruction of Kant’s solution to various philosophical problems through a close reading of the texts, principally the Critique of Pure Reason (CPR) and the Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics (Prolegomena). We will also look at some of the work of Kant’s predecessors, which presents the essential background for his ideas.
Goals and outcomes: We will follow the methodology common among analytically-minded historians of philosophy in the English speaking world. Our aim is to produce reconstructions of the arguments which are clear, accurate, logically rigorous and philosophically critical. We therefore want to develop the following skills: presenting, with a minimum of jargon, the central claims of our philosophers so that it is clear to a thoughtful non-specialist what these claims mean; providing textual evidence that our interpretation is accurate; making explicit the logical structure of the arguments, which includes uncovering implicit principles and assumptions; and finally, evaluating the arguments for cogency and persuasiveness and considering possible responses to objections.
It is essential that you attend the course regularly, prepared to discuss the readings. At the end of the term you will write a paper of 2000 words on a topic you have chosen and discussed with me.