Kant's Critique of Pure Reason
October 5th, 2012 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM 10-Session Class Begins
Kant's Critique of Pure Reason
Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) is widely considered to be one of the giants of European philosophy. Kant's works are the starting point of “classical German philosophy” which culminates with Hegel only to be flipped over by Marx. It is classical German philosophy that is the context in which Marx grew up intellectually.
Kant put European on a new course in 1781 with his Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Venunft), often called “the First Critique.” In the First Critique Kant sums up and synthesizes the trends in Modern European philosophy up to his time. The synthesis he offers finds that the human mind itself is central to human experience and is not just a passive receptacle that nature imprints itself on. Kant also found that our knowledge of the “external” world has a subordinate position to our practical reasoning. Practical action, what we do in the world, is seen by Kant as playing a fundamental role in how the mind creates experience. In Kant's “second Critique” (1788), the Critique of Practical Reason, Kant examined the notion of practical reason at the foundation of human consciousness. In 1790, in the Critique of Judgment (Kant's Third Critique), Kant attempting to create the necessary bridge between the First and Second Critiques.
Kant was also one of the originators of white race theory and had serious white-supremacist views. This fact about Kant is almost always completely ignored in college courses on Kant. But, we will discuss this crucial aspect of Kant and examine how it fits in with his overall project and system, as well as how Kant's system fit into the over all project of the growing European bourgeoisie of his day, and how it continues to function as crucial conceptual background for contemporary society.
This year—2012 – 2013—we will read all three Critiques and some shorter works over three terms:
Fall 2012: the Critique of Pure Reason, along with Kant's Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783);
Spring 2013: the Critique of Practical Reason, along with Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785); and
Summer 2013: the Critique of Judgment.
Whether you come to one, two, or all of these courses, you will definitely benefit in your understanding of the essential background to both Hegel's and Marx's thought, as well as the rest of modern European philosophy as well.
For this Fall's class in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, we will be reading (1) the newest English translation by Paul Guyer and Allen Wood published by Cambridge University Press, and (2) the James W. Ellington translation of the Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics which is published by Hacket Books.
It will be a fun and exciting term and year!!!
Russell Dale took his Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1996. Russell is an activist and teacher in NYC. He sits on the Manuscript Collective and Editorial Board of the peer-reviewed Marxist journal Science & Society, as well as on the Local Station Board of radio station WBAI in NYC.
Sliding scale: $95 - $125
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