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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 5 January 2011
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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on 17 February 2004
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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on 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. It clearly and fully considers Kant's two most important works - namely his Critique of Pure Reason and his Metaphysics of Morals. On his basis I recommend this as a good short introduction to Kant (the book itself as just over 130 pages long).
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on 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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on 6 December 2007
Roger Scruton writes with beautiful clarity about philosophy in general and Kant in particular. This short book lays out the main themes of Kant's thought in a prose that makes the arguments accessible and brings a focus to Kant's continued relevance to how we view the world and the human condition. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book.
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on 3 March 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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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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VINE VOICEon 27 October 2013
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. At first I tried Introducing Kant: A Graphic Guide but that really isn't in any way helpful, but from reading the reviews of that book I came across recommendations for this book, so I tried it and have to say I was very happy with it.

Scruton writes very well, and makes the difficult areas as plain as can be. I like the way he explains that the meaning of a particular area is disputed so it isn't really possible in many places for him to say "this is what it means", but he can at least give warning that it is disputed, and then say what he believes it means, and that this is a recognised view among Kantian scholars.

The book is also quite broad - we get a summary of Kant's life - then chapters on the major works by Kant - Critiques of Pure Reason, Practical Reason and Judgement, as well as his shorter books, introductions and so on. For my purposes I would have liked more on the Critique of Pure Reason, but as an introduction I can't complain that he doesn't give that special treatment.

The book was actually written in 1982 - I suspect before "Very Short Introductions" began, and so as they sometimes do it is a re-publishing of another title under the "VSI" brand - this doesn't really affect anything as far as I can tell, except there are some references to Communism and Eastern Europe.

In summary, for me this is the best introduction to Kant I have found, although I would also recommend the chapter on Kant in Bertrand Russell's "History of Western Philosophy" (History of Western Philosophy (Routledge Classics)) - I found that very useful too, but obviously it is just a chapter, not a whole book.
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on 9 June 2010
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 the book.

The main problem I have is that it is NOT a good introduction. The other reviewers are obviously people who have some basic (and by no means insignificant) knowledge of Kant already. Either taking a university course on Philosophy, or an avid reader of philosophy for some time already. I only know Kant from the various talk about his theories in other philosophy texts. This book REVIEWS Kant's ideas but does not INTRODUCE them. This is the main reason for the 2 stars - it does not do what it sets out to do.

The author evidently understands Kant well - he understands a very wide range of what Kant says, from his philosophy on reason, ethics, aesthetics and politics, and links them nicely. He has covered the aspects of Kant in such a short space warrants praise. The author does comment in his preface that Kant and this book will take effort (this has being proved true), so people should not expect less. But as an introduction, I am not satisfied. I cannot recommend a better introduction as I am in the process of finding one myself.

People who do already know quite a bit about Kant will be able to put flesh on the framework they have already acquired. Otherwise, readers may find it too concise and lacks detail, argument are not easy to follow in many places. The part where I found I did learn something new and useful was of Kant's synthetic a priori theory and his antinomy theory, but the application to other things such as ethics and aesthetics were, to me, mostly obscure. Often, I do not know if what I read was correct and that's all Kant had to say, or whether I have missed something that would help me be enlightened. I usually suspect the latter.
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on 20 September 2011
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. It is worthwhile of course as you would be led to an understanding of his philosophy and thought at a reasonable level and would appreciate his genius more than ever. You would also find out more about his private and social life (yes he had a social life too, albeit a miniature one!) and his place in the history of western philosophy. Highly challenging and yet interesting and rewarding.
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