PHIL 3613: Kant


"Human reason has this peculiar fate that in one species of its knowledge it is burdened by questions which, as prescribed by the very nature of reason itself, it is not able to ignore, but which, as transcending all its powers, it is also not able to answer" (Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, A vii).

With this opening passage of his magnum opus, Kant sums up a fundamental problem which, in his view, has always plagued philosophy, a problem that he intends to solve once and for all. Specifically, Kant's aim in the Critique of Pure Reason is to bring peace to the "battlefield of metaphysics", that arena in which philosophical disputants have bickered, through the centuries, over the existence of God, the possibility of human freedom and the ultimate nature of the cosmos. Kant maintains that such disputes will be resolved only when philosophers cease extending their reason beyond what is knowable; and he intends to accomplish this "peace" by bringing reason to reflect critically upon itself in order that it establish and learn to respect its own proper limits.

In the first part of the course, we will consider Kant's Transcendental Doctrine of Elements (i.e., the Transcendental Aesthetic and Transcendental Logic) in which he analyzes the a priori structures and limits of our cognitive faculties. This will culminate in: a) a very close reading of Kant's transcendental deduction, his phenomenon/noumenon distinction and his system of transcendental ideas; b) a general consideration of how Kant's theoretical philosophy relates to his practical philosophy.

In the second part of the course, we will consider how Kant's Transcendental Doctrine of Method, starting from this stock of a priori "materials and limits", sketches a modest plan for an eventual "system of philosophical knowledge".

Though discussion will form an important component of the course, more class-time will be devoted to lecture than to discussion. Each week I will hand out reflection questions which will: a)help guide students' readings for the following week and b) function as a spring-board for in-class discussion.

Prerequisites: PHIL 3153 or PHIL 3163 or permission of the instructor. Three Credit hours.

Courses Regularly Taught:

Dr. James Gilbert-Walsh
PHIL 1013/1023: Introduction to Western Philosophy (1 and 2)
PHIL 2523: Introduction to Aesthetics
PHIL 3613: Kant
PHIL 3623: Hegel
PHIL 3543: Existentialism
PHIL 3653: Contemporary Continental Philosophy
PHIL 3763: Heidegger

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