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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the great classics of western philosophy, 9 Aug. 2011
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This review is from: Critique of Pure Reason (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant, 1781, 1787; translated by Max Muller, revised by Marcus Weigelt, Penguin, 2007, 784 ff.

To try to encapsulate even the essence of this great work in a review of a few hundred words is an almost impossible task (the book is over 700 pages long). For a man who rarely if ever journeyed beyond the confines of his city of birth, Konigsberg, this is a remarkable work and the first of three Critiques that he wrote (the others on Practical Reason and on Judgement).

Kant presents us at the outset with the human dilemma: that we are burdened with questions we cannot ignore but which, transcending all our powers, we are also not able to answer. He points out that, in an earlier age, metaphysics was regarded as the `queen of the sciences' amongst philosophers but that now, with the advance of scientific rationalism, discussion of metaphysics encourages only scorn. It was Kant's purpose in this treatise to explore the limits of metaphysics. It is in this work that Kant fused the ideas of the British empiricists (all knowledge is derived from the senses) and the Continental rationalists (mind is the only safe source of knowledge). Kant argued that we need both empiricism and rationalism to make sense of the world.

Although this is an excellent translation (I have never read the original works), because of the size of the work and the complexity of the subject matter, this is really a book for undergraduate philosophy students or, at least, readers familiar with philosophical argument and the necessary staying power to get through the material. I agree with the reviewer who criticized the use of two different Kant originals (1st edn 1781; 2nd edn 1787) in the translations presented here, even though they are distinguished by being in Roman and italic type, respectively. This does tend to break up the flow of the text and is probably only of interest to philosophy undergraduates. However, the translation reads easily - at least, as easily as a text of this complex nature could read. In this edition there is a useful 76-page Introduction that puts Kant and the work in context, there are 24 pages of Notes at the end and a detailed Index to help readers track down particular subjects.

Howard Jones is the author of The Thoughtful Guide to God and The World as Spirit.

The Vision of Kant (Spirit of Philosophy)
Kant: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
The Philosophy of Kant
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