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Bounds of Sense: Essay on Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" (University Paperbacks: 572) Paperback – 10 Apr 1975

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 3.8 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for beginners 2 Jan. 2017
By Jeffrey Rubard - Published on
Format: Paperback
P.F. Strawson's *The Bounds of Sense* is not a good book to read when initially trying to master Kant's *Critique of Pure Reason*; it's a good book to read when trying to remember why you wanted to learn about Kant in the first place. Though Strawson was a confessed super-fan of Kant, claiming Kant as one of the major inspirations for his own project of "descriptive metaphysics", *The Bounds of Sense* is quite sharply critical in subtle ways of much in the first Critique: what Strawson sums up at the end of his book as "The Metaphysics of Transcendental Idealism". If you possess only a smattering of knowledge about the first Critique this book's direction can seem trivial and pointless; once you have absorbed Kant more fully from other sources, it will appear to be a lively and exciting source of ideas about how to "revive" his major insights.

The paradigm of the para-science Strawson accuses Kant of vainly attempting, undercutting his genuine discoveries in the process, is the distinction between appearances and "things-in-themselves", already questioned by Kant's most immediate successors: there is a logic to Kant's approach to the *Ding an sich* as something we can never truly know, but even if one accepts the necessity of the treatment one is left at the end with, well, something we can never truly know -- not too neat and tidy. However, Strawson admires much of the 'proto-analytic' drift of Kant in relation to the early-modern philosophers, seeing him as crucially employing something Strawson calls the "principle of significance": if we do not know what possible difference a metaphysical distinction would make to the way we think about the world, best to chuck it.

Strawson does not admire much in the first Critique that follows the Transcendental Deduction, seeing in major sections of the Analytic of Principles and the Transcendental Dialectic (the "Doctrine of Method" is not discussed) untenable theses only tenatively argued for. Many have wondered how much of Kant could be left after Strawson's warnings are heeded. However, once you have independently got Kant down Strawson's critical discussions will prove historically and systematically enlightening in a way a novice won't quite get. *The Bounds of Sense* is a classic, but only in the fullness of time will it be fully legible to you; put it on the "eventual" list if you are new to Kant.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Kant Text 6 Oct. 2002
By Flounder - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is an extremely important classic text on Kant. Strawson has a metaphysical project that is at once inspired by Kantian issues (and insights) and independent of them, which is more elaborately developed in his Individuals. Here, Strawson offers us an eloquent exposition and critical discussion of the CPR. He is not altogether sympathetic with K's TI. However, most Kant scholars agree that Bounds of Sense is not a defense of Kant's metaphysics--Strawson's Kant is not a Kant that a student should walk away with as the genuine article. Nevertheless, Strawson provides us with elegant philosophical prose, while highlighting both areas: marks of Kant's genius and piteous incoherence (or obscurity).
Despite the fact that Strawson's attribution of inconsistency to K's TI isn't well argued or defensible, there is still much to learn here about good analytic philosophy (although not in terms of historical accuracy).
I also recommend: Guyer, Longuenesse, Allison, Langton, Stroud, Forster, McDowell's M and W, and A. Brueckner's UCLA dissertation on Kantian anti-skeptical strategies, as well as H. Ginsborg's Harvard dissertation on judgment. Also see Stern on Transcendental Arguments (Oxford UP).
Part One in Bounds of Sense is the General Review, which is important reading, especially the conclusion with its most elegant (and longish) last paragraph. This provides us with compelling reasons to take Kant seriously in our contemporary philosophical climate, despite Strawson's charge of the Second Analogy as a non sequitur of numbing grossness (a famous quote, p 28). Strawson is correct to hail the insights of the Trans. Deduction, which he says "are very great and novel gains in epistemology, so great and so novel that, nearly two hundred years after they were made, they have still not been fully absorbed into the philosophical consciousness" (p. 28). Outside of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Berkeley, Strawson is likely right in this characterization.
Part Two, Section 2 is useful reading. Strawson's work in Section 3.2, 3.3, and 3.8 is also useful (on permanence, objectivity, and the refutation of idealism). Part Four is important yet controversial (on K's TI). Part Five is also most valuable; it is on K's geometry.
Although this is a problematic and controversial text (and overall interpretation of Kant), for all that, it is also valuable and often insightful. I recommend this text in conjunction with reading Strawson's Individuals and K's Prolegomena (Cambridge or Hackett).
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huh? 25 Jan. 2004
By BerserkRL - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm baffled by a previous reviewer's claim that Strawson's book "offers the typical idealist interpretation of Kant." The principal achievement of Strawson's excellent book is to break AWAY from the traditional idealist interpretation of Kant.
9 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars same old stuff 14 Dec. 2002
By henning rasmussen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Strawson's work reigned as the supreme example of Kant scholarship in English for several decades. It might have been ok for its time, but it offers the typical idealist interpretation of Kant, and attempts to separate the contents of Kant's Transcendental Aesthetic from his Transcendental Analytic, arguing that only the contents of the latter have merit. But the two sections play the similar roles in Kant's revolution and to wholly reject the aesthetic and not the analytic is, I believe, impossible. Strawson does not even take seriously the arguments of Kant's aesthetic, probably because he is English and the English always get nervous around the aesthetic. While one may still have to deal with this book if writing a paper on Kant, as Strawson is still held in fairly high regard, I would recommend this book only for one who is not familiar with the traditional idealist interpretations of Kant.
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