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Kant: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Paperback]

Roger Scruton
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 Aug 2001 Very Short Introductions (Book 50)
Kant is arguably the most influential modern philosopher, but also one of the most difficult. Roger Scruton tackles his exceptionally complex subject with a strong hand, exploring the background to Kant's work and showing why the Critique of Pure Reason has proved so enduring.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New Ed edition (23 Aug 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192801996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192801999
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 11.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Roger Scruton is currently Research Professor for the Institute for the Psychological Sciences where he teaches philosophy at their graduate school in both Washington and Oxford. He is a writer, philosopher and public commentator. He has specialised in aesthetics with particular attention to music and architecture. He engages in contemporary political and cultural debates from the standpoint of a conservative thinker and is well known as a powerful polemicist. He has written widely in the press on political and cultural issues.

Product Description


Roger Scruton faced perhaps the most intractable task of all in giving an elementary account of Kant's philosophy ... but he does it extremely elegantly and neatly. (Listener)

About the Author

Roger Scruton's publications include Spinoza in the Past Masters series, Art And Imagination, (1974), The Aesthetics of Architecture (1979), The Aesthetic Understanding (1983), An Intelligent Persons Guide To Philosophy (1996), and The Aesthetics Of Music (1997).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The greatest modern philosopher was moved by nothing more than by duty. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the toughest VSI's I've read 5 Jan 2011
By Steve
My expectations of this book were never towards a light, easy read. The VSIs on Hume, Hobbes and Spinoza were all tough for the general reader, but, with perseverance, not insurmountable. This one, I'm afraid, defeated me. I forced myself through to the end, and what I understood, I enjoyed. Most interesting to me was Scruton's account of Kant's political vision and the introduction to Kant's metaphysics with relation to the rationalist/empiricist positions of Leibniz and Hume.

Beyond that, there were large chunks that, for me at least, made for tortuous reading - no doubt a reflection of my own intellectual limitations rather than any failing of the author, who, to be fair, pre-warns that a re-read will be necessary. I realise that Kant's ideas are notoriously tough even without their own ambiguities and contradictions, but other readers have obviously got a lot out of this book, so I shall probably file this under 'to re-read'. In the meantime, take this rating as a first impression - possibly of use to other beginners, and hopefully to be revised at a later date.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, simple but detailed. 4 July 2010
Thoroughly enjoyable, and highly detailed.

The book begins with a short history on Kant. This includes who his family was, the time period in which he lived, how he was educated and where he lived.

The second chapter looks at the philosophical systems which were prominent prior to his writings - namely Hume (empiricism) and Leibniz (rationalism).

The third chapter looks at Kant's famous Critique of Pure Reason. This chapter examines the failings of a fully empirical and fully rationalism philosophical system. Kant's suggestion is one of metaphysics. Kant explains that man is unable to get behind the appearance (the empirical realm) and thus is confined to interpret it on the basis of reason (rationalism). Kant therefore concludes that a universal/absolute explanation of everything is not possible.

The fourth chapter further considers the appearance, rationality, the unconditioned and metaphysics. Metaphysics is then applied to Cosmology and Theology to explain why the traditional arguments for God's existence is problematic.

The fifth chapter examines Kant's Metaphysics of Morals. This chapter fully explains Kant's moral thought (i.e. that you can't get an ought from an is) and the much loved Categorical Imperative.

The sixth chapter considers beauty and design. Anyone familiar with Dennett will be familiar with the arguments contained in this chapter, i.e. that man projects his own understandings, design and intentionality onto the cosmos.

The seventh chapter briefly looks at Kant's views on the enlightenment, politics, law, human rights and points of justice. And finally, the last chapter briefly looks at how Kant's thought influenced later philosophers.

Overall a worthwhile book.
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71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kant: aVery short introduction 17 Feb 2004
By A Customer
Kant's arguments are some of the most inpenetrable in modern philosophy. Roger Scruton condences Kant's philosophical system into a hundred and forty pages; symplifying Kant's arguments (without over-simplyfying them) so that you can see how they fit together. I can't recommend this book highly enough for someone interested in the most influential philosopher, or for the student or specialist.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A difficult read made easy 9 July 2008
This was a brilliant book to help understand the fundamentals of Kant. I flew my exam after reading it. I'd recommend it for scholars or just people with an interest. Kant is a hard read at the best of times but this book laid it out as simple as possible. Its text is concise and readable and will inpire you to read more of Kants work.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction 3 Mar 2009
"Kant: A Very Short Introduction" is an elegantly written and stimulating introduction to the theories of Immanuel Kant that explains his main ideas in clear and concise language. Be aware, however, that while this book is indeed an excellent breakdown of Kant's ideas, the ideas themselves are very complex (so serene was the philosopher's thought), which doesn't make this introduction the totally easy read you might assume it to be. You may have to re-read a few of the passages to enjoy and assimilate the ideas within. For me, the best way to appreciate them and learn from the book was by reading it in a relaxed enviroment without any distractions or disruptions.

I bought this book to help me understand some of the texts and the references in them that I come across and must read in my work. I've found the book to be majorly useful and so am very happy with the purchasel. I would certainly recommend it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very accessible introduction to Kant 8 April 2011
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER
Kant is one of those modern philosophers whose presence looms large over much of what has been achieved over the past couple of centuries in modern philosophy, and yet he is not very likely to be read in most introductory philosophy classes. Part of the difficulty lies with Kant's highly technical and oftentimes convoluted use of language, which gave even his contemporaries who were native German speakers some difficulties. The philosophers and scholars have since had a chance to debate, oftentimes vehemently, the "true" meaning of Kant's works and it is unlikely that those debates will end any time soon. With such formidable baggage, it would be very difficult for an absolute novice in philosophy to just plunge into Kant's work and start reading it on its own. A good first exposition by an expert is invaluable and this thin volume serves exactly such purpose. It does a remarkable job of delineating the scope of Kant's thought and bringing this philosopher to life for the new generation of readers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a very engaging writer
The book is readable and ok in parts but I found myself tracking back a lot to re-read sections. It is not always clear what the author is referring to when he uses pronouns. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Osmo
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful
Suprisingly comprehensive overview of a series of quite difficult concepts - a great introduction if unfamiliar with Kant and a handy summary if you want to refresh your memory.
Published 11 months ago by Caspar
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
This isn't a huge review - I just wanted to say I was looking for an introduction to Kant as part of an A Level Philosophy course I am doing. Read more
Published 12 months ago by J. Mann
2.0 out of 5 stars Kant: A very difficult introduction
I echo the words of a reviewer of another of the very short introduction series: 'too difficult - a philosophy undergraduate would have difficulty in reading this'. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Mr. M. J. Semple
4.0 out of 5 stars Scruton has done the impossible.
Scruton has done a decent job of making Kant understandable to the layman. Before tackling any of Kant's primary works for instance his Critiques, this book is a must read. Read more
Published on 8 Dec 2011 by Owen Retsof
5.0 out of 5 stars this book requires a careful reading...
Kant is one of the most difficult philosophers to understand so it is not surprising that this book requires a careful reading and close examination in most parts. Read more
Published on 20 Sep 2011 by S. MOHAMADI
4.0 out of 5 stars It would be unreasonable not to...
This is a very simple guide to Immanuel Kant's philosophy, which is too complicated to read in the original, full translation. Read more
Published on 20 April 2011 by Patrick Neylan
3.0 out of 5 stars good introduction
bought this for uni studies and it suited its purpose can be difficult to read a certain points thou but overall good if you want to know a foundation of kantian theory
Published on 13 July 2010 by R. J. Riley
2.0 out of 5 stars Not an introduction, more a review of Kant's ideas
The reason why I am writing this review is because I felt the reviews I read here when deciding on whether to purchase this book does not correspond with my experience of reading... Read more
Published on 9 Jun 2010 by Fred Cai
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