A Commentary to Kant's Critique of Pure Reason
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Of all the major philosophical works, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is one of the most rewarding, yet one of the most difficult. Norman Kemp Smith's Commentary elucidates not only textural questions and minor issues, but also the central problems.
claims to have established for his a priori principles are of this nature. Their necessity is always for us extrinsic; they can be postulated only if, and so long as, we are assuming the occurrence of human sense-experience. Thus Kant is a rationalist of a new and unique type. He believes in, and emphasises the importance of, the a priori. With it alone, he contends, is the Critique competent to deal. But it is an a priori which cannot be shown to be more than relative. It does, indeed, enable us
the motive for historical study had in any case waned. Although one of the most important steps in the formation of British idealism had consisted in a study of Hegel - James Stirling's The Secret of Hegel (1865) - by the late nineteenth century British idealism had become sufficiently established and well developed for its historical origins in Hegel, let alone Kant, to have faded from view: Bradley, McTaggart et al. offered their own proofs of idealism; it was not felt, as it surely is now,
enquire whether it is possible. Dogmatism expresses itself (to borrow Vaihinger's convenient mode of definition4) through three factors—rationalism, realism, and transcendence. Descartes and Leibniz are typical dogmatists. A s rationalists they hold that it is possible to determine from pure a priori principles the ultimate nature of God, of the soul, and of the material universe. They are realists in that they assert that by human thought the complete nature of objective reality can be
stands to the represented.8 Frequently Kant's argument implies this distinction, yet constantly he speaks and argues as if it were non-existent. We have to recognise two tendencies in Kant, subjectivist and phenomenalist.4 When the former tendency is in the ascendent, he regards all appearances, all phenomena, all empirical objects, as representations, modifications of the sensibility, merely subjective. When, on the other hand, his thinking is dominated by the latter tendency, appearances gain
1 This is, no doubt, one reason why Kant employs, in reference to space, the unfortunate and confusing term concept (Begriff) in place of the wider term representation (Vorstellung). Cf. B 37, and above, p. 64. 2 Cf. A 729=B 757: " I n place of the term definition I should prefer to employ the term exposition. For that is a more guarded expression, the claims of which the critic may allow as being in a certain decree valid even though he entertain doubts as to the completeness of the analysis.