Download A Companion to Kant (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy) by Graham Bird PDF

By Graham Bird

This Companion offers an authoritative survey of the full variety of Kant’s paintings, giving readers an idea of its sizeable scope, its awesome success, and its carrying on with skill to generate philosophical interest.* Written through a world solid of students* Covers the entire significant works of the serious philosophy, in addition to the pre-critical works* topics coated variety from arithmetic and philosophy of technological know-how, via epistemology and metaphysics, to ethical and political philosophy

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Extra resources for A Companion to Kant (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy)

Example text

He wrote Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living Forces from 1745 to 1747. The book is a commentary on the debate on force. The controversy had begun in the 1680s between Leibniz and followers of Descartes; by Kant’s time, it was a discussion among Cartesians, Leibnizians, and Newtonians. With over 250 pages in the printed edition of 1749, it was a goodsized work written towards the end of Kant’s studies (he enrolled in 1740), and should have sufficed as a Master’s thesis. The topic, a survey of the literature on force, was suited for a graduation piece, and its gist, a critique of Leibniz’s dynamics, was something Kant’s advisor Martin Knutzen (1713–51) would have been interested in reading.

Kant had formulated his views when he was very young (1744–7), and their publication, Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living Forces (1749), was full of errors, hard to read, and an academic failure. The flaws of his debut tempt one to ignore it. In addition, in Kant’s lifetime, various factors undermined dynamic conjectures. By midcentury, a consensus emerged in Europe according to which there is only one good way of studying forces, Newton’s way, which, incidentally, differed from Kant’s own.

Throughout humanity’s past, most people have been accustomed to having their thinking directed by others (by paternalistic governments, by the authority of old books, and most of all, and most degrading of all, in Kant’s view, by the priestcraft of religious authorities who usurp the role of individual conscience). Becoming enlightened is virtually impossible for an isolated individual, but it becomes possible when the practice of thinking critically becomes prevalent in an entire public in which reigns a spirit of free and open communication between its members.

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