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Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

PHIL 415: Kant

PHIL 415: Kant

The Generic Catalog Description

The foundations and consequences of Kant's critical philosophy are studied in a reading of the Critique of Pure Reason.

PHIL 415: Kant

Andrew Cutrofello

In this seminar we will study Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. We will situate Kant’s arguments historically and discuss their contemporary relevance. Getting through the entire Critique in a single semester is not an easy task. We could easily spend an entire semester looking just at the notoriously difficult Transcendental Deductions. There is something to be said, however, for a quicker run-through of the entire book, which develops a single, unified, complex argument about the nature of metaphysics. Kant’s predecessors distinguished general metaphysics (ontology) from special metaphysics (theology, cosmology, and psychology). Kant’s critical determination of the bounds of human reason led him to replace ontology with a “transcendental analytic” of human understanding, and to explain why the search for absolutes generates dialectical illusion. Human cognition, he argues, is limited to spatiotemporal appearances of unknowable things in themselves.

PHIL 415: Kant's First Critique

David Yandell

This is a course on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, the work in which he laid the foundation for his critical system. The course will be a sustained examination of the positions Kant developed in that work and the arguments that he offered for them. The approach that we will take is the one that Kant intended, rigorously reflecting on Kant's systematic treatment of the theoretical use of reason in metaphysics and in scientific knowledge, on his wide-ranging claims concerning the limits of human understanding and the proper grounding of (reconceived) objectivity, and on the reasons he offered for his views.

All students in this course will be required and expected to prepare fully and thoroughly for each class meeting. Regular participation in discussion and frequent question-asking should be part of every student's involvement. The Critique of Pure Reason is, in my view, the most challenging philosophical work and one that merits and repays painstaking long-term study, a process that we will undertake.

Because of the difficulty of the work, there will be two ways of completing the requirements for the course. Ordinarily, students will receive a participation grade, which may include some brief assignments, a grade for a take-home mid-term essay, and a final exam grade. Students with MA in hand or substantial previous work on Kant may request at the beginning of the semester that in place of the mid-term essay and the final exam they be allowed to submit a substantial term paper, focusing closely on interpretation and philosophical evaluation of a central issue in the first Critique.


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