Critique of Pure Reason, Paperback Book
2.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


In the Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant laid out a framework upon which the whole of modern philosophy is based.

This Penguin Classics edition is translated from the German and edited with an introduction by Marcus Weigelt, based on the translation by Max Muller.Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.

It presents a profound and challenging investigation into the nature of human reason, its knowledge and illusions.

Reason, Kant argues, is the seat of certain concepts that precede experience and make it possible, but we are not therefore entitled to draw conclusions about the natural world from these concepts.

The Critique brings together the two opposing schools of philosophy: rationalism, which grounds all our knowledge in reason, and empiricism, which traces all our knowledge to experience.

Kant's transcendental idealism indicates a third way that goes far beyond these alternatives.

Marcus Weigelt's lucid re-working of Max Muller's classic translation makes the Critique accessible to a new generation of readers.

His informative introduction places the work in context and elucidates Kant's main arguments.

This edition also contains a bibliography and explanatory notes.Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), born in Konigsberg, East Prussia, was the most prominent thinker of the German Enlightenment, and one of the most influential philosophers of all time.

His comprehensive and profound thinking on aesthetics, ethics and knowledge has had an immense impact on all subsequent philosophy.If you enjoyed the Critique of Pure Reason, you might enjoy Benedict Spinoza's Ethics, also available in Penguin Classics.


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To call Kant "dense" is an understatement on par with saying the same about the core of a neutron star. Kant's critiques are not easy going, but the bright side is that his description of the human condition, an attempt to restore science and knowledge in a world transformed by Newton and Hume, is worth the effort. <br/><br/><i>The Critique of Pure Reason</i> is a (perhaps <i>the</i>) watershed in Western philosophy, rightly likened to Kant's own description of a "Copernican revolution" in thought. The book is Kant's groundwork for knowledge itself: the nature of space and time and logic as preconditions for knowledge, shared among all humans, at the cost of sacrificing metaphysics to the transcendental realm of the "unconditioned". In exchange, we restore free will, morality, and (for those so inclined) God to the world of human existence. <br/><br/>Kant is very much the "lawyer" and the detail-man, and his almost obsessive need to sort human nature into a concrete taxonomy is perhaps the weakest part of the work. Still, Kant's division into the phenomenal and the noumenal, the human and the unconditioned, remains foundational, and to understand Kant's argument here is to understand everything that comes after in the Continental tradition. Even if you disagree with Kant's conclusions, there is a wealth of thought to draw upon, from Kant's conception of human existence to his ideas on "things in themselves", morality, and freedom. <br/><br/>The Critiques are a chore, but the kind of chore that pays off dividends.

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The <i>Critique of Pure Reason</i> is listed among <i>Good Reading</i>’s 100 Significant Books. I found reading through that list was a great education--as valuable as college, and I’ve learned enormously from reading it--much more aware of the underpinnings of Western culture. That’s why I stuck though this, even though I’d have ordinarily turned away from this book from the very first paragraph:<i>Our reason has this peculiar fate that, with reference to one class of its knowledge, it is always troubled with questions which cannot be ignored, because they spring from the very nature of reason, and which cannot be answered, because they transcend the powers of human reason.</i>OK, right there I thought this is not a guy really worthy of spending my time with, because if something transcends the powers of human reason, you can’t argue for it, so what’s the point of philosophy? The rest of the preface explains he’s going to resort to “pure reason”--by which he means reason without resort to experience. And without experience, how can we check out premises? I guess that makes me an empiricist, but that just there made me skeptical of learning much from Kant before I’d ever gotten beyond the Preface. Kant’s tone also grated on me more than any philosopher I’d ever read--much, much more than Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, Locke... Take this from the Preface: <i>But I beg to remind him that, if my subjective deduction does not produce in his mind the conviction of its certitude at which I aimed, the objective deduction, with which alone the present work is properly concerned, is in every respect satisfactory.</i>And that’s just the impression from the first dozens of pages of a book over 400 pages long. Once I dove into Kant’s main argument, it was easy to get lost. I don’t think he’s quite as difficult as Spinoza, but then I was far more sympathetic to Spinoza’s arguments and tone, which helped me see his <i>Ethics</i> through. I probably have just about as much philosophical disagreement with Plato, but Plato is a very engaging writer--truly--I found <i>The Republic</i>, <i>The Symposium</i>, <i>The Apology</i> and the other dialogues very engaging reads. But Kant combines the thorny prose of Spinoza with a philosophy even more inimical to me than Plato. Yet I did find pushing through much of this valuable--for the same reason as the other works on the list. My rating reflects that I hated the style and substance of Kant--but that doesn't mean I don't think the ideas aren't important to grasp. Because I can see Kant’s lines of argument descending from Plato’s Allegory of the Cave in <i>The Republic</i> and threaded through so many other thinkers after him:<i>The light dove, in free flight cutting through the air the resistance of which it feels, could get the idea that it could do even better in airless space. Likewise, Plato abandoned the world of the senses because it posed so many hindrances for the understanding, and dared to go beyond it on the wings of the ideas, in the empty space of pure understanding.</i>