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Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)

A watershed figure in the history of philosophy, Immanuel Kant led a relatively uneventful life. Born in Königsburg (today Kaliningrad), where he would remain the entirety of his career, the signal event in Kant’s biography was an intellectual one. Around 1770, after pursuing works in a roughly Leibnizian vein, Kant encountered Hume’s empiricism, an event which ‘woke [him] from his dogmatic slumber’ and resulted in the advent of critical philosophy. Kant’s ‘transcendental idealism’ was first established in his major work, the Critique of Pure Reason (1781, rev. 1787). Subsequent works developed the implications of Kant’s system for moral autonomy (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, 1785, the Critique of Practical Reason, 1788) and aesthetics and teleology (Critique of Judgment, 1790). Shifting from the standard objects of metaphysical inquiry (e.g. substance), Kant re-oriented philosophy toward a critical interrogation of the ‘conditions of possibility’ of knowledge and its ‘objects’. The result was a bracketing off of the ‘thing-in-itself’, deemed unknowable ‘in-itself’, in favour of a critical attention to the faculties of thought. Virtually every major philosophical contribution produced in Kant’s wake has taken the ‘Copernican Revolution’ augured by critical philosophy as its point of departure, in either a negative or positive sense. Moreover, in his seminal essay ‘An Answer to the Question: “What is Enlightenment?”’ (1784), Kant took the first steps toward a historicization of reason that would be developed throughout the nineteenth century (in Hegel, Marx, and to some extent Nietzsche) and that would undergird Critical Theory in the twentieth. Several articles within the Cahiers pour l’Analyse engage with Kant’s thought directly, but the challenge of his legacy permeates the project.

In the Cahiers pour l’Analyse

Georges Canguilhem, ‘Qu’est-ce que la psychologie?’, CpA 2.1 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]
Thomas Herbert, ‘Réflexions sur la situation théorique des sciences sociales et, specialement, de la psychologie sociale’, CpA 2.6 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]
Martial Gueroult, ‘Nature humaine et état de nature chez Rousseau, Kant et Fichte’, CpA 6.1 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]
Jacques Bouveresse, ‘L’achèvement de la révolution copernicienne et le dépassement du formalisme (La théorie du droît naturel “réel” de Fichte)’, CpA 6.7 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]
François Regnault, ‘Dialectique d’épistémologies’, CpA 9.4 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]

Select bibliography

  • Critique of Pure Reason, trans. and eds. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, ed. Mary J. Gregor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Critique of Practical Reason, ed. Mary J. Gregor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • Critique of the Power of Judgment, trans. and eds. Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  • ‘An Answer to the Question: “What is Enlightenment?”’. In What is Enlightenment? Eighteenth-century Answers and Twentieth-Century Questions, ed. James Schmidt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.