Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (Thursday Section)
Kant’s publication of the Critique of Pure Reason was a seismic event in the history of western philosophy, whose effects continue to be felt today. Enacting a “Copernican Revolution” in philosophy, Kant subjected reason itself to critique—attempting to answer the question: how do we know things at all? What structures and categories does reason presuppose? Initiating what Kant calls “transcendental” philosophy, the first Critique amounts to a kind of autobiography of human reason and its maturation into self-knowledge. In addressing the fundamental questions of philosophy—as Kant says, “What can we know? What should we do? What can we hope for?”—Kant attempts to answer a still more fundamental one, “What is a human being?”
This class will involve close readings of the key sections of the Critique of Pure Reason. Can we really know what reality is like, independent of the human perspective and the human way of conceiving it? Is scientific inquiry a legitimate, or the only legitimate, way to know reality? What are the nature and limits of human reason? To what extent does Kant offer a vision of rationality which can escape the dichotomy between scientific-technical rationality on the one hand and fundamentalist-fanatical irrationality on the other? In addressing these questions, we’ll examine and elucidate key Kantian concepts like the synthetic a priori, the ideality of spatio-temporality, the phenomenal and the noumenal, and transcendental idealism.
Course ScheduleThursday, 6:30-9:30pm EST
July 23 — August 13, 2020