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Course Description

This course offers an introduction to the epistemology of Immanuel Kant as developed in this Critique of Pure Reason. We will learn about the context and philosophical problems Kant tried to take on, namely those in Rationalism and Empiricism. Step by Step, we will reconstruct the elements and architecture of his epistemology, and why he called his approach and method "transcendental". Kant's goal in his Critique of Pure Reason was not just to analyze and define the scope and limitation of human cognition, but also to deconstruct and rebuild Metaphysics anew from the ground. In Close Reading sessions we will reconstruct and discuss the main elements, arguments, and terminology of this seminal text, alongside with secondary, commentary readings. In subsequent sections of the course, we will discuss some of Kant's reception, namely within the Vienna Circle (critique of the 'synthetic a priori') and within Analytic Philosophy (transcendental arguments). We will combine Close Reading sessions, where we dissect selected chapters and paragraphs from the Critique of Pure Reason. with the readings of classical commentary texts of renowned Kant scholars, in particular, from the analytic tradition. As a theory of mind, consciousness and the self, the CPR is also relevant for current topics and problems in cognitive science; respectively it would be interesting to explore and compare these two very different approaches to one and the same problem: human intelligence, consciousness, and cognition. In the last sessions of this course, we will dive a bit into these most recent, 21st century themes. The course aims to combine historic, systematic, and contemporary approaches in an engaging, inspiring way. The course is an Elective in the MA Philosophy Program.

Learning Outcomes

Students who have participated in this course will have learned, understood, and achieved knowledge about:

Þ the context of time and philosophical problems that inspired Kant = background of the Critique of Pure Reason and Kant's Critical Philosophy in general

Þ the major goals of Kant's transcendental epistemology, as developed in CPR

Þ the main elements, arguments, and terminology of the Critique of Pure Reason

Þ Kant's theory of judgments, in particular, the controversial synthetic a priori judgment

Þ Kant’s theory of reason, antinomies of reason, theory of the subject and self-consciousness

Þ will have an overview of the Kant's reception and critical evaluation, with emphasis 20th Century: Vienna Circle and within Analytic Philosophy

Þ will be able to reflect on CPR's contemporary relevance, e. g., in relation to Cognitive Science


Assessment and (Home-)work for Grading:

(1) Take part in discussions 15 %

(2) Prepare questions and comments on the readings/texts 15 %

 (3) Research on selected questions, terminology, or arguments and give a short presentation of your findings, thoughts, or reflections - team work encouraged 20 %

(4) write one short (c. 500-words) midterm paper related to the course topics 20 %

(5) write a ca. 2,000-word final paper by the end of the term. Final paper can be further developed from midterm paper 30 %

Participation and (home-)work due:

(1): continuing

(2): continuing

(3): will be scheduled in class or by appointment

(4): Midterm: by October 30.

(5) a: start preparing for Final paper from 2nd half of course from around October 30.

(5) b: present and discuss draft version of final paper in last class

(5) c: Final paper due end of December 2023 or January 2024


File attachments
Kant syllabus (165.05 KB)
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