Discussion Questions for the
Critique of Pure Reason, #1
The Critique of Pure Reason is
a difficult text for a number of reasons. First, there is Kant's
terminology. He uses a technical vocabulary that it is difficult
to get used to and that makes it hard to understand what he is
driving at. Second, there is the difficulty of his thought. Although
the basic claim that Kant makesthat the basic structure of reality
is determined by the human mindis easy to state, the complex
reasoning by which he develops this claim is hard to follow.
Finally, there is the text itself. Kant was not the clearest
writer, so there is the additional problem of figuring out exactly
what he is trying to say. All of these factors make the book
a hard one to assimilate.
This first assignment asks you to read a section of the Critique
that explains why Kant thought that the project of a critique
of reason was necessary in the first place and the Introduction
to the second edition. From these sections, you can gain a good
sense of what the general aim of the book is.
1. There are four Antinomies. They all concern claims that human
reason attempts to establish a priori, that is, independently
of any experience on the basis of reasoning alone. Each Antinomy
consists of a pair of arguments for contradictory assertions.
What exactly are the issues raised in the Antinomies?
2. For at least one Antinomy, go over the proofs of the Thesis
and Antithesis. Do you think that Kant is right to claim that
both proofs are valid?
3. What does Kant claim that the Antinomies prove? Why do they
show the need for a critique of pure reason?
4. How does Kant present the project of the Critique in
the Introduction? What exactly is his "Copernican Revolution"?