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In this new introduction to Kant™s Critique of Pure Reason,
Jill Vance Buroker explains the role of this ¬rst Critique in
Kant™s critical project and offers a line-by-line reading of the
major arguments in the text. She situates Kant™s views in rela-
tion both to his predecessors and to contemporary debates,
and she explains his critical philosophy as a response to the
failure of rationalism and the challenge of skepticism. Paying
special attention to Kant™s notoriously dif¬cult vocabulary, she
explains the strengths and weaknesses of his arguments, while
leaving the ¬nal assessment up to the reader. Intended to be
read alongside the Critique, this guide is accessible to readers
with little background in the history of philosophy, but should
also be a valuable resource for more advanced students.

jill va nce buroker is Professor of Philosophy at
California State University. Her publications include Antoine
Arnauld and Pierre Nicole: Logic or the Art of Thinking (1996).
ca mbri dge i n trod u ct io n s to key
ph i los ophi c a l t e x ts

This new series offers introductory textbooks on what are considered to
be the most important texts of Western philosophy. Each book guides the
reader through the main themes and arguments of the work in question,
while also paying attention to its historical context and its philosophical
legacy. No philosophical background knowledge is assumed, and the books
will be well suited to introductory university-level courses.

Titles published in the series:
d esc arte s™s m e d i tat i o n s by Catherine Wilson
w it tg en ste in™s p h i l o s o p h i c a l i n v e s t i g at i o n s
by David G. Stern
wi t tg en ste in™s t r a c tat u s by Alfred Nordmann
aristotle™s n i c o m a c h e a n e t h i c s by Michael Pakaluk
spi n oz a™s e t h i c s by Steven Nadler
kan t™s c r i t i q u e o f p u r e r e a s o n by Jill Vance Buroker
An Introduction

California State University, San Bernardino
cambridge university press
Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge cb2 2ru, UK
Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521853156

© Jill Vance Buroker 2006

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provision of
relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place
without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published in print format 2006

978-0-511-24122-2 eBook (EBL)
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for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not
guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.
For Sophie

Acknowledgments page viii
List of abbreviations ix

1 Introduction to the critical project 1
2 The Prefaces and the Introduction 14
3 The Transcendental Aesthetic 36
4 The Metaphysical Deduction: identifying categories 73
5 The Transcendental Deduction of the categories 103
6 The Schematism and the Analytic of Principles I 136
7 The Analytic of Principles II 163
8 Transcendental illusion I: rational psychology 201
9 Transcendental illusion II: rational cosmology 226
10 Transcendental illusion III: rational theology 264
11 Reason and the critical philosophy 284
Conclusion: Kant™s transcendental idealism 305

Works cited 310
Index 317


I am grateful to California State University, San Bernardino, for sab-
batical and research support while I was writing this book. I also thank
my colleague, Tony Roy, for helpful conversations, and students who
allowed themselves to be test subjects for various chapters. My inter-
pretation of Kant has been most heavily in¬‚uenced by Henry Allison,
Gordon Brittan, Jr., Lorne Falkenstein, Michael Friedman, Michelle
Grier, and Arthur Melnick. Gordon Brittan and Lorne Falkenstein
both made valuable comments on early drafts. I am indebted to Hilary
Gaskin of Cambridge University Press, and three readers for the press,
William Baumer, Fred Rauscher, and Lisa Shabel, for their sympa-
thetic criticisms and suggestions. I was especially fortunate to have
Angela Blackburn as my copy-editor. Finally, I want to thank Ed
McCann for his encouragement.


CPR Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
MFNS Kant, Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science
NST non-spatial and non-temporal
(non-spatiotemporality thesis)
PD Principle of Determinability
Prolegomena Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics
PTD Principle of Thoroughgoing Determinability
t.u.a. transcendental unity of apperception
UT unknowability thesis

chap t e r 1

Introduction to the critical project

1. ka nt™s lif e a nd works
Immanuel Kant was one of the greatest thinkers in the history of
philosophy. Unfortunately, he was not a good writer, and his works
are very dif¬cult to read. Not only did Kant write on most major
philosophical problems “ concerning knowledge, metaphysics, ethics,
aesthetics, religion, law, and government “ he also developed views
of extreme depth and subtlety. Especially impressive is the way Kant
uni¬ed his theories into a larger system, called an “architectonic.”
Although he sometimes appears to stretch his ideas to ¬t them into
his system, generally the unity in his views is not forced, and rests on
philosophical principles.
Kant lived from 1724 to 1804, during a period of enormous change
in science, philosophy, and mathematics. Kant himself was neither a
scientist nor a mathematician (although he did make a contribution
to cosmology). Nonetheless he shared the hopes of predecessors such
as Descartes and Locke to provide a philosophical foundation for
the new physics. The scienti¬c revolution, initiated by Copernicus™s
On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres in 1543, put an end to
the Aristotelian worldview that had reigned for almost 2000 years.
The French philosopher Ren´ Descartes (1596“1650), a contemporary
of Galileo (1564“1642), was the ¬rst to attempt a systematic theory
of knowledge to support the Copernican astronomy. Descartes not
only invented analytic geometry, he also developed his own physics
and made important discoveries in optics, among them the sine law
of refraction. The power of mechanistic science became undeniable
with Isaac Newton™s formulation of the three laws of motion and
the law of gravitation, published in his Principia Mathematica of

Introduction to the critical project
1686. In providing a general explanation for Kepler™s laws of planetary
motion, Newton™s achievement brought to the fore questions about
the foundations of science. The new physics also depended on the
calculus, invented independently by Newton and Leibniz.
Immanuel Kant was born April 22, 1724, in K¨ nigsberg, the capital
of East Prussia (now Kaliningrad in Russia). He lived his entire life

in or near K¨ nigsberg, a thriving commercial city. His father was a
saddler, and Kant grew up in a working class family. Between the ages
of eight and sixteen, Kant attended the Friedrichskollegium, whose
principal was Albert Schultz (1692“1763). Schultz had been a student
of the Enlightenment philosopher Christian Wolff (1679“1754), him-
self a student of the great philosopher and mathematician Gottfried
Wilhelm Leibniz (1646“1716). The Friedrichskollegium was af¬liated
with Pietism, a seventeenth-century German Protestant movement.
It emphasized the “scrutiny of the heart,” and valued the active devo-
tion of the person. Kant rejected its more rigid practices, but evidently
admired its general principles. The school™s curriculum emphasized
religious instruction in Hebrew and Greek; non-religious subjects
were less important. In 1737, when Kant was thirteen, his mother died.
He was very close to her, and credited her with nurturing both his
spirit and his intellect. In 1740 Kant graduated second in his class from
the Friedrichskollegium, and entered the University of K¨ nigsberg.
There he was in¬‚uenced by another student of Wolff, Martin Knutzen
(1713“51), a professor of logic and metaphysics. Under Knutzen™s tute-
lage from 1740 to 1746, Kant studied philosophy, mathematics, nat-
ural sciences, and classical Latin literature.
Following his father™s death in 1746, Kant left the university to
support himself as a private tutor. In 1747 he completed his ¬rst
work, Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living Forces (published in
1749), in which he attempted to resolve a dispute between Leibnizians
and Cartesians over the formula for calculating force from mass and
velocity. Unfortunately Kant was ignorant of the correct solution,
proposed by d™Alembert in 1743. Nevertheless, this work, written in
German rather than the traditional Latin, marked the beginnings

1 Two excellent biographies are available in Ernst Cassirer™s Kant™s Life and Thought, and
Manfred Kuehn™s recent Kant: A Biography.
Introduction to the critical project 3
of Kant™s lifelong interest in the foundations of physics. During the
1750s he produced several scienti¬c treatises, the most important his
Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens (1755). His theory
of the formation of galaxies, later dubbed the “Kant-Laplace hypoth-
esis,” had a signi¬cant in¬‚uence on astronomy. In the same year Kant
completed his doctoral dissertation Meditations in which the Ether is
Succinctly Delineated, and his “habilitation” treatise A New Elucida-
tion of the First Principles of Metaphysical Cognition. The latter work
marks his earliest criticism of Leibnizian philosophy.
Although Kant began lecturing at the University of K¨ nigsberg
in the fall of 1755, he was practically destitute, depending on fees
from tutoring and lectures. After several unsuccessful applications for
professorships in logic and metaphysics, he received his ¬rst salaried
position in 1766 as assistant librarian at the palace library. Not until
1770, at the age of forty-six, was Kant awarded the professorship
he desired. His workload was formidable: he taught logic, mathe-
matics, metaphysics, physical geography, and foundations of natural
science. Eventually he added ethics, mechanics, theoretical physics,
geometry, and trigonometry. Despite the stereotype of Kant as rigidly
intellectual (and punctual), he was a great favorite both in and out
of the classroom. His lectures were renowned for erudition and wit.
But he was also quite sociable, sharing long dinners with friends and
frequenting the theater and casinos. He was highly prized for his
sparkling conversation in the most fashionable salons. This passage
from a student, the poet and philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder,
should put to rest the misleading stereotype:

I have had the good fortune to know a philosopher. He was my teacher.
In his prime he had the happy sprightliness of a youth; he continued to
have it, I believe, even as a very old man. His broad forehead, built for
thinking, was the seat of an imperturbable cheerfulness and joy. Speech,
the richest in thought, ¬‚owed from his lips. Playfulness, wit, and humor
were at his command. His lectures were the most entertaining talks. His
mind, which examined Leibniz, Wolff, Baumgarten, Crusius, and Hume,
and investigated the laws of nature of Newton, Kepler, and the physicists,
comprehended equally the newest works of Rousseau . . . and the latest
discoveries in science. He weighed them all, and always came back to the
unbiased knowledge of nature and to the moral worth of man. . . . No
Introduction to the critical project
cabal, no sect, no prejudice, no desire for fame could ever tempt him in the
slightest away from broadening and illuminating the truth. He incited and
gently forced others to think for themselves; despotism was foreign to his
mind. This man, whom I name with the greatest gratitude and respect, was
Immanuel Kant.2
Until the 1760s Kant was a devotee of Leibniz through the teach-
ings of Christian Wolff. In 1768 he published the short treatise On the
Differentiation of Directions in Space, in which he used the argument
from incongruent counterparts (objects like left and right hands) to
support a Newtonian theory of absolute space against Leibniz™s the-
ory of relational space. I argue in my Space and Incongruence: The
Origin of Kant™s Idealism that after 1768 Kant developed the incon-
gruent counterparts argument to reject Leibniz™s theory of the relation
between the sensibility and the intellect, and ultimately to support the
transcendental ideality of space and time. His introduction to Hume™s
Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (published in 1748), prob-
ably around 1769, crystallized his misgivings about rationalism and
dogmatic metaphysics. Kant took his ¬rst step toward the critical
philosophy, the theory presented in his three Critiques, in his Inau-
gural Dissertation of 1770, On the Form and Principles of the Sensible
and Intelligible World. Here he radically distinguished the sensibil-
ity from the intellect, arguing that the former provides knowledge
only of phenomenal appearances. Nevertheless, he retained Leibniz™s
view that the intellect has access to noumena, the reality behind the
In his February 21, 1772 letter to Marcus Herz, a former student
and friend, Kant lays out the questions haunting him since the dis-
sertation, which de¬ne the critical project:
In my dissertation I was content to explain the nature of intellectual rep-
resentations in a merely negative way, namely, to state that they were not
modi¬cations of the soul brought about by the object. However, I silently
passed over the further question of how a representation that refers to an
object without being in any way affected by it can be possible.3
Kant had come to see that he needed a more systematic treatment of
the intellect, in both its theoretical and practical activities. In the letter
Kant outlines a plan for his work, remarking optimistically that he
expects to complete the ¬rst part, on metaphysics, in three months.
2 3
Quoted in Cassirer, Kant™s Life and Thought, 84. Correspondence, 133.
Introduction to the critical project 5
In fact he did not produce the ¬rst edition of the Critique of Pure
Reason until 1781, almost twelve years after conceiving the project.
Unfortunately the work initially drew negative responses, both for
its obscurity and its conclusions. Eventually opinion shifted, and the
Critique began to exert its in¬‚uence in Germany and elsewhere. In
1786 Kant was made a member of the Berlin Academy of Sciences; in
1794 he was inducted into the Petersburg Academy, and in 1798 into
the Siena Academy.
Once engrossed in developing his critical philosophy, Kant became
a recluse. This is the only explanation for his enormous output
from 1781 to his death in 1804. These are the major works in that
1781 The Critique of Pure Reason, ¬rst edition (referred to as A)
1783 The Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (an obscure sum-
mary of the Critique)
1785 The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
1786 The Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science
1787 The Critique of Pure Reason, second edition (referred to as B)
1788 The Critique of Practical Reason
1790 The Critique of the Power of Judgment
1797 The Metaphysics of Morals
1798 Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View
During this period Kant also wrote many shorter essays, among them
“The Idea for a Universal History with Cosmopolitan Intent” and
“What is Enlightenment?” (both 1784), Religion Within the Bounds of
Reason Alone (1793), On Eternal Peace (1795), and The Con¬‚ict of the
Faculties (1798).
His publication of the 1793 treatise on religion brought him into
con¬‚ict with a religious edict issued in 1788 by Frederick William II
(1786“97). Under Frederick William I (1713“40) and Frederick II, the
Great (1740“86), Prussia had been transformed from an authoritarian
state to a constitutional monarchy. Also known for religious tolerance,
it welcomed refugees from other countries, including Huguenots
from France, Catholics from Eastern Europe, and Jews. Despite these
progressive developments, the edict of 1788 put an end to religious lib-
eralism. Although the theology faculty of the University of K¨ nigsberg
declared that Kant™s treatise was not an essay in theology, the king
opposed its publication. During this affair, in June of 1794, Kant
Introduction to the critical project
published his second treatise on religion, the ironic The End of All
Things. In October of 1794 Frederick William II ordered Kant to
desist from such writing. Although Kant defended himself against
the charges, he agreed to renounce further essays on religion as long
as the king lived.
Kant™s last project, published as the Opus Postumum, was intended
as a bridge between the critical philosophy and empirical science.
Although he began the work in 1796, he was not to complete it. On
October 8, 1803, he became seriously ill for the ¬rst time. He died four
months later, on February 12, 1804. Thousands of mourners attended
his funeral procession on February 28. They took Kant™s body to the
professors™ crypt in the cathedral and university chapel of K¨ nigsberg.
A plaque later installed over the grave contains the famous quotation
from the Critique of Practical Reason: “Two things ¬ll the mind with
ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and
more steadily we re¬‚ect on them: the starry heavens above me and the
moral law within me.”4

2 . th e criti c a l proj e ct
Kant™s critical philosophy attempts to show that human reason can
attain objective truths about the nature of reality as well as moral-
ity. Both types of knowledge are based on laws that are necessary
but known a priori, that is, independent of experience. Theoretical
knowledge is based on laws of nature, and moral knowledge on the
moral law. Neither rationalism nor empiricism explains how we have
such knowledge because both schools give mistaken analyses of the
human mind. Empiricists favor sense perception over the intellect,
and effectively deny the possibility of a priori knowledge. Rational-
ists recognize a priori knowledge, but have no coherent account of its
relation to experience. Kant originally intended the ¬rst Critique to
provide a philosophical justi¬cation for both theoretical and moral
knowledge. Recognizing after 1781 that morality required a distinct
foundation, Kant published the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of
Morals in 1785 and the Critique of Practical Reason in 1788. In the
Critique of the Power of Judgment of 1790 Kant broadens his project to

4 Practical Philosophy, 269.
Introduction to the critical project 7
include an analysis of teleological judgment at the basis of aesthetics
and empirical science. Although the three Critiques are the founda-
tion of Kant™s critical philosophy, the other works listed above on
morality and science expand his analysis of theoretical and practical
reason. In this section I will focus on the problems de¬ning Kant™s
critical theory of knowledge in the ¬rst Critique.
It is not misleading to view Kant™s critical philosophy as respond-
ing to the defects of rationalism and empiricism. The rationalists of
the modern period include Descartes, Baruch Spinoza (1632“77), and

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