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Critique of Pure Reason (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 29 Nov 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (29 Nov. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140447474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140447477
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 4.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was one of the most influential philosophers of all time. His comprehensive and profound thinking on aesthetics, ethics and knowledge has had an immense impact on all subsequent philosophy.


Marcus Weigelt's lucid reworking of Max Müller's classic translation makes the critique accessible to a new generation of readers, while his informative introduction places the work in context and elucidates Kant's main arguments.


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The importance of the Critique of Pure Reason is well-established and requires no reviews. It is not a book one is likely to stumble across and think, "this looks interesting", if for no other reason (pure or otherwise) than that a quick dip into the book shows it to be dense and difficult. The key question is: which translation makes this dense and difficult book most clear now I have decided to tackle the most important philosophical thinker since Aristotle? The Cambridge edition (1998) is one of the most up to date and is, perhaps, set to become the standard. But Norman Kemp Smith's translation (1929) is still the standard used for reference, even though this Cambridge version is probably better. There is also the free version of Meiklejohn; venerable and old fashioned and not recommended. Pluhar is widely used in the USA and has its fans. And finally there is the Penguin 2007 translation, by Weigelt based on the Max Muller version, which has an attractive layout and style; to me this seems a more naturally flowing style. Compared to Kemp Smith the Penguin is clearer as the active voice is used more than the passive and key terms are set in bold.

The difference between translations in their use of words is not the only difference. The Critique was published in two editions and it is usual to combine the two and here's the difficulty: each translation orders the paragraphs from the two editions (A and B) in a slightly ways, as it seems to me. So to compare Guyer and Smith Kemp's translations is not so easy as they each choose the sequence of combining the two editions that seems to them most comprehensible. Weigelt uses italics to differentiate the first editions (A) from the second (B).
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The translation seems to have brought out something which I had forgotten about, which is Kant's great charm as a thinker; he has a distinctive innocence. As a constructor of hard arguments, that involve often subtle complexities, you keep rooting for him to bring things to their logical conclusion, which he does with impressive consistency. This new Penguin edition is also a relatively compact but still scholarly version of Kant, which can't be a bad thing.
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First published in 1781 by the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), the `Critique of Pure Reason' explains Kant's philosophical belief that knowledge is acquired through two varying factors: `a posteriori' - in which something is known to be logically true only by the evidence of the `sense' experience, and `a priori' - in which something is logically true through the understanding, independent of experience (pure reason). These conditions of knowledge must also take into account the concept of Space (outer intuition) and Time (inner intuition), which governs our perception and understanding. Kant analyses these unions of synthesis into twelve categories or conscious laws which include: Quantity (Unity/Plurality), Quality (Reality/Negation/Limitation), Relation (Cause and Effect) and Modality (Possibility and Responsibility; Existence and Non-Existence). By this Kant shows that the world around us is experienced by a priori (Rationalism and Reason) and a posteriori (Empiricism and Experience) subjective to consciousness (a unity of intuitions), linked by thought under certain laws.
This `consciousness' assents to specific modes of conduct, as in the `moral' law of behaviour (good, honest and positive actions), `amoral' and `immoral' (bad and negative actions). These moral laws are also driven by religious aspirations in some who assume the existence of a `Superior Being' or God, and are subjective to God's will. In metaphysics, morality and religion are not within the boundary of knowledge and lie in the region of faith, and so Kant brings into question the theory that there may not be a God, after all, and ultimately the concept that the soul cannot exist for how can a substance that is `not matter' (the soul) be contained `in matter' (the body)?
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I don't want to comment on Kant's Critique in general but this translation and the way it has opened up a richer image of the great philosopher.

I've never noticed before how rich Kant is. He is not a dry academic and, although he lived a very dull exterior life, his inward world was rich and full of wonder and depth. Yes, he seemed to have misread Swedenborg - but the very fact he engaged Swedenborg might historically be more important that what he said.

This penguin edition has a twofold pleasure: you can take it to the beach, on the train and it looks like a penguin classic. Only you know you hold one of the masterpieces of western philosophy in your hands.

If you can gain just a few hours of pure intellectual joy in reading this edition then you have shared my experience. It is time we took philosophy back from the sterile halls of professionalism and gave it back to the well educated working person.

A marvel and pleasure to read.
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The philosopher, Franklin Merrell-Wolff, says that the Critique of Pure Reason is 15 years of thought written down in 5 months. The story goes that Kant was afraid of dying before he could reveal this original insight and so he rushed his masterpiece. So this is why it is very hard, because it is rushed, rather than because it is badly written. Suffice it to say that the top genius' of Germany, from Einstein to Schrodinger, all took this book seriously and many believe that Immanuel Kant was the cleverest man who ever lived.

Sadly, many people can also confuse terribly bad writing with deep philosophy. In fact, Arthur Schopenhauer wrote that because of Kant's hardness, conmen shouldered their way into the philosophy departments and babbled nonsense and people didn't notice because, to the average mind, genius and nonsense are intertwined.

A genius will be outside the range of normal people and so what the genius has to say will seem like nonsense anyway and if we take into account Kant's fear of death leading him to not care about the pleasing nature of prose and style, even though his book is a work of genius, then it is even more tragic that people think that because of Kant's bad style, all bad writers are genius'!

To me, top mathematicians scribble lines on the board. I can't judge if they are just clowning about or if they are writing proper maths. My mind can't begin to make sense of those symbols and squiggles. However, a maths genius can tell the difference. Schopenhauer wrote that it was the same with the philosophy of Kant. The entire neo kantian movement consisted of those like me. Goethe said of Kant's genius that it was like a boat making a clearing in the water but the water closes after the boat passes. Genius leaves no trace.
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