Read Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics: With Selections from the Critique of Pure Reason (Texts in the History of Philosophy) by Gary Hatfield Immanuel Kant Online


Kant is the central figure of modern philosophy. He sought to rebuild philosophy from the ground up, and he succeeded in permanently changing its problems and methods. This new translation of the Prolegomena, which is the best introduction to his philosophy, also includes selections from the Critique of Pure Reason, which fill out and explicate some of his central argumentKant is the central figure of modern philosophy. He sought to rebuild philosophy from the ground up, and he succeeded in permanently changing its problems and methods. This new translation of the Prolegomena, which is the best introduction to his philosophy, also includes selections from the Critique of Pure Reason, which fill out and explicate some of his central arguments. The volume is completed by a historical and philosophical introduction, explanatory notes, a chronology, and a guide to further reading....

Title : Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics: With Selections from the Critique of Pure Reason (Texts in the History of Philosophy)
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ISBN : 9780521575423
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 233 Pages
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Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics: With Selections from the Critique of Pure Reason (Texts in the History of Philosophy) Reviews

  • Riku Sayuj
    2019-01-16 16:55

    Hieroglyphics: A Reluctant TranslationThe Prolegomena is valuable as a summarization that is intended to be less obscure and suited for popular consumption. It tries to compress Kant’s criticism of (all) previous work in metaphysics and the theory of knowledge -- first propounded in the Critique of Pure Reason, which provided a comprehensive response to early modern philosophy and a starting point for most subsequent work in philosophy.A note on the Edition: This is a wonderful edition to approach the Prolegomena with -- meticulous introductory essay and copious notes. Plus it comes with a summary outline of all the sections! A summary of a summary. What more could you want?Summing up the BeastAs is well known The Critique of Pure Reason is a notoriously difficult work. When first published, the early readers were not very different from modern readers — they found it incomprehensible!Kant was a poor popularizer of his own work and when it was finally published in the spring of 1781 (with Kant nearing 57), after almost ten years of preparation and work, Kant had expected that the evident originality of the thoughts would attract immediate attention, at least among philosophers. He was… well… to be disappointed — for the first year or two he received from those whom he most expected to give his book a sympathetic hearing only a cool and uncomprehending, if not bewildered, silence.What else would you expect for such wild intentions:My intention is to convince all of those who find it worthwhile to occupy themselves with metaphysics that it is unavoidably necessary to suspend their work for the present, to consider all that has happened until now as if it had not happened, and before all else to pose the question: “whether such a thing as metaphysics is even possible at all.”He had proposed a “Copernican Revolution” in thinking. He should have known that such stuff cannot come without a user manual.Soon Kant caught on to this, and started having some misgivings about the fact that he was clearly not getting the reception he had expected for his masterpiece:Kant is known to have written to Herz expressing his discomfort in learning that the eminent philosopher Moses Mendelssohn had “laid my book aside,” since he felt that Mendelssohn was “the most important of all the people who could explain this theory to the world.” Mendelssohn later wrote to a friend confessing that he did not understand the work, and professing pleasure at learning that, in the opinion of her brother, he would not be “missing much” if he continued not to understand it!Kant’s colleague in Konigsberg, Johann Schultz, in the preface to his 1784 Exposition of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, mentioned the “nearly universal complaint about the unconquerable obscurity and unintelligibility” of the work, saying that for the largest part of the learned public it was “as if it consisted in nothing but hieroglyphics.”As a reaction to this lack of public appreciation for such a vital work that was to have "brought about a complete change of thinking," a great deal of Kant's effort during the decade of the 1780s had diverted away from further development of his system and towards the unforeseen task of clarifying the critical foun­dations of his system of philosophy that he thought he had completed in May 1781. This work took a number of different forms: the publica­tion of a brief defense and attempted popularization of the Critique in 1783 until, finally, Kant came to think that an overview would be of great value to aid the reading public in comprehending the implications of the Critique. The Prolegomena was the result. We can only guess what more productive use could have been made of this period!It is sometimes obvious in this work that Kant was pained by the need to summarize his great work (and with the necessity of expending valuable time on it). Only someone who has written an elaborate masterpiece would know how difficult it must be to write a summary of it. And Kant lets it slip often enough (one might even think deliberately) that he is not too amused by having to do so:But although a mere plan that might precede the Critique of Pure Reason would be unintelligible, undependable, and useless, it is by contrast all the more useful if it comes after. For one will thereby be put in the position to survey the whole, to test one by one the main points at issue in this science, and to arrange many things in the exposition better than could be done in the first execution of the work.Whosoever finds this plan itself, which I send ahead as prolegomena for any future metaphysics, still obscure, may consider that it simply is not necessary for everyone to study metaphysics; and that in such a case one should apply one’s mental gifts to another object.That whosoever undertakes to judge or indeed to construct a metaphysics must, however, thoroughly satisfy the challenge made here, whether it happens that they accept my solution, or fundamentally reject it and replace it with another – for they cannot dismiss it; and finally, that the much decried obscurity (a familiar cloaking for one’s own indolence or dimwittedness) has its use as well, since everybody, who with respect to all other sciences observes a wary silence, speaks master- fully, and boldly passes judgment in questions of metaphysics, because here to be sure their ignorance does not stand out clearly in relation to the science of others, but in relation to genuine critical principles, which therefore can be praised.Kant hoped to hit more than one bird with the Prolegomena:It was meant to offer “preparatory exercises” to the Critique of Pure Reason — not meant to replace the Critique, but as “preparatory exercises” they were intended to be read prior to the longer work. It was also meant to give an overview of that work, in which the structure and plan of the whole work could be more starkly put across — offered “as a general synopsis, with which the work itself could then be compared on occasion”. The Prolegomena are to be taken as a plan, synopsis, and guide for the Critique of Pure Reason.He also wanted to walk his readers through the major arguments following the “analytic” method of exposition (as opposed to the “synthetic” method of the Critique): a method that starts from some given proposition or body of cognition and seeks principles from which it might be derived, as opposed to a method that first seeks to prove the principles and then to derive other propositions from them (pp. 13, 25–6). What this means is that Kant realized that most of the readers were dazed by his daring to start the Critique from a scary emptiness of knowledge from which he set out to construct the very foundations on which any possible structure of knowledge can stand, and also the possibility of such a foundation i.e metaphysics. There he proceeds from these first (newly derived) principles of the theory of knowledge to examine the propositions that might be derived from it that are adaptable to a useful metaphysics.In the Prolegomena, Kant reverses this and takes the propositions (i.e structure) as a given and then seeks to expose the required foundations that are needed to support such a construction. This he feels is less scary for the uninitiated reader.It is true. The abyss is not so stark when viewed through this approach, and we can ease into our fall!Kant’s work is easy to summarize (well, not really — but enough work has been put into it that at there least it is easy to get good summaries) but is infinitely rich with potential for the inquisitive reader. This reviewer has no intention of summarizing and thus reducing a method/system to its mere conclusions. And to summarize the method would be to recreate it in full detail! Instead the only advice tendered would be to explore Kant’s work in depth and not rest content with a superficial understanding of only the conclusions. That is precisely what Kant criticizes (in the appendix to the Prolegomena) his reviewers of doing back in the day. We should know better by now.

  • Ahmed Elsherbiny
    2019-01-04 17:59


  • David
    2019-01-06 18:19

    I'm coming back to the Prolegomena after some time away from them. It's kind of odd re-reading the book because I've been focusing so much on the CPR that the organization (Kant says that the Prolegomena take a "synthetic" rather than "analytic" approach to understanding pure reason's limitations and the possibility of metaphysics) is a little strange. Perhaps I'm just used to the so-called analytic approach and therefore I should set aside the Prolegomena. But I've found that there are a few points in this when Kant describes part of his argument in a helpfully clear manner, or at least in a way that's sufficiently different from the CPR that it brings new light to my attempt to understand his philosophical critique. It's taken a few months to really crack the surface, but I think that it's starting to pay off.

  • Seamusin
    2019-01-15 17:49

    The book itself - the translation, accompanying introduction and excerpts from the Critique - are great. Kant's writing is... not as great. Hence 3/5."I freely admit that the remembrance of David Hume was the very thing that many years ago first interrupted my dogmatic slumber"Interrupted. Kant woke up, made some very good points, asked some key questions, and then sort of drifted off to sleep again. Why o why Kant? Why so many fantastic jumps in logic? Is it really just a reflection of the state of knowledge at your time? I have some sympathy for that idea, but come on - you could have taken example from Hume himself and just been a tad more reserved in your conclusions. Then you would have deserved the stature you have in modern times.

  • Yesterday's Muse Bookstore
    2019-01-08 18:11

    A briefer and more accessible look at Kant's famous Critique of Pure Reason, this work has become a standard in undergraduate philosophy programs. For those who have not read any of Kant's work, this is the one to start with. It will help the reader grow accustomed to Kant's method of analysis. It also establishes the importance of Kant's thought within the history of philosophy. Much of Kant's work was a reaction to large problems he saw in the philosophical system of his time, and he is well-known for many of the innovative ways he was able to address these problems, most notably his 'Copernican revolution' of philosophy. This is a must-read for anyone interested in philosophical thought.

  • Brock
    2019-01-16 14:04

    My appreciation for Kant has little to do with the accessibility of the writing. The philosophy is dense and readers must quickly familiarize themselves with the large vocabulary Kant creates in exploring the possibility of metaphysics. However, his argumentation is extremely convincing and it's clear by the end of the book why it is a necessary read. My thought process went something like this: "Now that I finally get what he's saying, I'm totally on board with it!"

  • Kyle van Oosterum
    2019-01-01 22:11

    Where Kant's work is not extremely dry but intelligible. This text was essential in promulgating his transcendental idealism which reconciled the rationalists and empiricist who are so often at odds. Kant took ideas from both of their sides and created a metaphysical system which is quite brilliant, but does require some serious attention to be able to understand it fully.

  • Blake
    2018-12-23 15:06

    I'm not a huge Kant fan and it's rather difficult to read. But, highly recommended for an excercise in pretension.

  • Justin Evans
    2019-01-10 19:02

    Never will the 'I love it/ I like it/ It's okay...' rating system be less helpful than with this book. But it is okay as a helping hand for Kant's first Critique. Where the ideas are most compelling, this book is clearest; where the ideas are the least compelling, this book is dense and nonsensical (hello, tables of judgment/concepts/principles). Anyway, it's silly to rate this book. This edition, on the other hand, is great: it has a fantastic introduction, useful selections from the first critique, and the early reviews of the CPR that Kant responds to in the appendix to the Prolegomena. The translation could be smoother, but then, Kant could have been smoother too. It sucks, but I think the best track is to read the CPR first, and then this, or maybe this, then CPR, then this again. I can't really see that you'd get much out of the Prolegomena alone.

  • Eric
    2018-12-25 16:04

    Kant knew that many many people were having trouble understanding what he was saying. So he wrote this, the idiot's guide to _The Critique of Pure Reason_. Readable and interesting.

  • Madeline
    2019-01-03 19:11

    This is the first philosophy book that made me cry.Not for the normal reasons - his terrible style, it's really fucking difficult, etc etc.

  • Karolina
    2019-01-18 18:05

    Read for my Philosophy 2222 class and, although it was incredibly difficult to read, it was incredible. I respect Kant's response to Hume.

  • John
    2019-01-13 16:04

    Basically a shorter version of the Critique of Pure Reason. I suggest you read this first if you feel overwhelmed in tackling his greater work.This book is more of an explication of his CPR ideas.

  • Isaac Barton
    2019-01-03 20:01

    In which Kant tries to make his epistemology more accessible and at least succeeds in making it shorter.

  • Craig Bolton
    2019-01-02 16:01

    Kant: Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics: With Selections from the Critique of Pure Reason (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) by Immanuel Kant (1997)

  • Teerabhat Ruensiri
    2019-01-02 14:11

    An immensely impressive book. Kant's attempt to digest his Critique of Pure Reason. Highly recommend.