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Kant's Critique of Pure Reason by Daniel N. Robinson

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason

by Daniel N. Robinson

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Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason stands as a touchstone work in modern philosophy, and in this free course provided by Oxford, Professor Daniel Robinson will bring his wit, enthusiasm and deep scholarship to bear on this seminal, though admittedly difficult book. What was Kant’s project? As Robinson puts it, Kant wanted to know just how far human knowledge could reach, or to put it another way, how much our senses and reason could allow us to access “reality” as it exists outside of human experience. Kant stood in stark contrast to Hume’s Empiricism, which held that our senses always stood as a potentially distorting mediator between human beings and objective reality. Kant’s Critique was thus a rigorous exploration aimed at finding a stable, scientific “image” of reality that could be relied upon again and again.


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Just what is Kant's "project"?

Author: Dan Robinson
Wed, Mar 16, 2011


Lecture 1/8. Both sense and reason are limited. Kant must identify the proper mission and domain of each, as well as the manner in which their separate functions come to be integrated in what is finally the inter-subjectively settled knowledge of science.

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The broader philosophical context

Author: Dan Robinson
Wed, Mar 16, 2011


Lecture 2/8. The significant advances in physics in the 17th century stood in vivid contrast to the stagnation of traditional metaphysics, but why should metaphysics be conceived as a "science" in the first place?

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Space, time and the "Analogies of Experiences"

Author: Dan Robinson
Wed, Mar 16, 2011


Lecture 3/8. Kant's so-called "Copernican" revolution in metaphysics begins with the recognition of the observer's contribution to the observation. Thus, to the extent that Hume's empiricism restricts knowledge to experience, empiricism succeeds only by accepting the a priori grounding of experience itself.

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How are a priori synthetic judgements possible?

Author: Dan Robinson
Wed, Mar 16, 2011


Lecture 4/8. Kant claims that, "our sense representation is not a representation of things in themselves, but of the way in which they appear to us. Hence it follows that the propositions of geometry... cannot be referred with the assurance to actual objects; but rather that they are necessarily valid of space... [and] space is nothing else than the form of all external appearances". [Prolegomena 286-287]

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Idealisms and their refutations

Author: Dan Robinson
Wed, Mar 16, 2011


Lecture 5/8. The very possibility of self-awareness (an "inner sense" with content) requires an awareness of an external world by way of "outer sense". Only through awareness of stable elements in the external world is self-consciousness possible.

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Concepts, judgement and the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories

Author: Dan Robinson
Wed, Mar 16, 2011


Lecture 6/8. Empiricists have no explanation for how we move from "mere forms of thought" to objective concepts. The conditions necessary for the knowledge of an object require a priori categories as the enabling conditions of all human understanding.

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The "Self" and the Synthetic Unity of Apperception

Author: Dan Robinson
Wed, Mar 16, 2011


Lecture 7/8. Kant argues that: "The synthetic unity of consciousness is... an objective condition of all knowledge. It is not merely a condition that I myself require in knowing an object, but is a condition under which every intuition must stand in order to become an object for me".

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The discipline of reason: The paralogisms and Antinomies of Pure Reason.

Author: Dan Robinson
Wed, Mar 16, 2011


Lecture 8/8. Reason, properly disciplined, draws permissible inferences from the resulting concepts of the understanding. The outcome is knowledge. When rightly employed, the perceptual and cognitive powers match up the right way with the real world and ground the knowledge-claims of the developed sciences. However, there is a strong tendency to stretch these processes beyond the permissible boundaries and seek what Kant refers to as "transcendental ideas" that go beyond the realm of actual or possible experience.

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