Philosophy 41
2:30 - 3:50, TF Peter Suber
Carpenter 316Spring 1999-2000



The only required text for this course is Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, translated by Werner S. Pluhar, Hackett Pub. Co. 1996. I have asked the bookstore to stock Kant's Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics as well; it is recommended but not required.

We will try to read the whole Critique in one semester, even though we know that is impossible. A few chunks of text are merely recommended, not required, but no part is skipped entirely. Every section of this big book is important, for influence or for inquiry or both. Our job is to do it justice and live to tell the story.

No reading from the Prolegomena is assigned. I recommend that whenever you encounter a difficult passage in the Critique you should read the corresponding section of the Prolegomena. (If you do not encounter a difficult passage in the Critique every night, seek counseling.) The Prolegomena was published after the first edition, and before the second edition, of the Critique, and was aimed at a broader audience. It is therefore slightly more authoritative than the first edition, slightly less than the second, and intended by Kant to be more intelligible. (You can judge this for yourself.) It is also much shorter.

I have put the standard German edition of the text (Kritik der reinen Vernunft, Felix Meiner Verlag, B/2775/1971) on 24 hour reserve in Lilly Library.

The following three books are in the reference section of the library and cannot be put on reserve: Howard Caygill, A Kant Dictionary, Blackwell, 1995, Ref/B/2751/C3.8/1995, Rudolf Eisler, Kant-Lexikon, Georg Olms Verlag, 1979, Ref/B/2751/E4, and Heinrich Ratke, Systematisches Handlexikon zu Kants Kritik der reinen Vernunft, Felix Meiner Verlag, 1965, Ref/B/2779/R3/1965.

I've created a course home-page containing a collection of hand-outs and course-related web links at http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/courses/kant/kanthome.htm. If you find any other relevant links, let me know and I'll add them to the collection.


Works and pages cited for a given day will be discussed that day and should have been read in advance. Those in square brackets are recommended but not required. Explications and papers are due at class time on the days listed.

"A" and "B" numbers refer to the first and second editions of Kant's Critique. You can find them in the margins of our book. This is the standard way of citing Kant's text. In the reading schedule below, "WSP" numbers refer to pages of the Werner S. Pluhar translation (Hackett Pub. Co., 1996), and "NKS" numbers refer to pages of the Norman Kemp Smith translation (St. Martin's Press, Macmillan, 1929).

Week 1, January 10 - 14
No class
First class, no reading due

Week 2, January 17 - 21
Day 1. This syllabus, Generic hand-out, Explication hand-out, Essay assignment hand-out. From the Critique: Table of Contents; Prefaces to first and second editions, A.vii-xxii, B.vii-xliv; WSP 5-40; NKS ix-xiii, 7-37. Today's questions.
Day 2. Introduction, B.1-30; WSP 43-68; NKS 41-62. Today's questions. Explication due

Week 3, January 24 - 28
Day 3. Transcendental Aesthetic, Sections 1-5, B.33-49; WSP 71-87; NKS 65-76. Today's questions.
Day 4. Transcendental Aesthetic, Sections 6-8, B.49-73; WSP 87-104; NKS 76-92. Today's questions. Explication due

Week 4, January 31 - 4
Review day
Day 5. Transcendental Logic, B.74-101; WSP 105-129; NKS 92-110. Today's questions.

Week 5, February 7 - 11
Day 6. Analytic of Concepts, B.102-129; WSP 129-150; NKS 111-128. Today's questions. Explication due
Day 7. Transcendental Deduction, A.95-130; WSP 150-174; NKS 129-150. Today's questions.

Week 6, February 14 - 18
Day 8. Transcendental Deduction, B.129-169; WSP 175-203; NKS 151-175. Today's questions. Explication due
Review day

Week 7, February 21 - 25
Day 9. Analytic of Principles, Schematism, B.169-187; WSP 204-219; NKS 176-187. Today's questions. First paper topic due
No class today. Mid-term break.

Week 8, February 28 - March 3
Day 10. Analytic of Principles, Axioms and Anticipations, B.187-218; WSP 220-247; NKS 188-208. Today's questions. Explication due
Day 11. Analytic of Principles, Analogies, B.218-265; WSP 247-282; NKS 208-238. Today's questions.

Week 9, March 6 - 10
Day 12. Analytic of Principles, Postulates, B.265-294; WSP 283-302; NKS 239-256. Essay assignment hand-out. Today's questions. (No explication due today.)
Review day First paper due

Week 10, March 13 - 17
Day 13. Phenomena and Noumena, B.294-315, B.346-349; WSP 303-322, 343-345; NKS 257-275, 294-296. Today's questions.
[Amphiboly of Reflection, B.316-349; WSP 323-345]
Maria von Herbert day

Week 11, March 20 - 24
No class. Spring break.

Week 12, March 27 - 31
Day 14. Transcendental Dialectic, through Transcendental Ideas, B.349-396; WPS 346-379; NKS 297-326. Today's questions.
[Transcendental Dialectic, Paralogisms, B.396-432; WSP 380-387, NKS 424-441]
Explication due
Day 15. Transcendental Dialectic, Antinomies, B.396-398, B.432-512; WSP 380-381, 442-501; NKS 327-328, 384-435. Today's questions.

Week 13, April 3 - 7
Day 16. Transcendental Dialectic, Antinomies, B.513-585; WSP 502-551; NKS 436-484. Today's questions. Explication due
Review day

Week 14, April 10 - 14
Day 17. Transcendental Dialectic, Ideal of Reason, B.595-611, [B.611-70], B.670-732; WSP 560-572, [572-616], 617-662; NKS 485-495, [495-531], 532-570. Today's questions.
[Transcendental Dialectic, Critique of All Theology, B.659-B.732; WSP 609-662]
Day 18. Doctrine of Method, Discipline, B.735-822; WSP 663-727; NKS 573-630. Today's questions. Explication due (last one)

Week 15, April 17 - 21
Day 19. Doctrine of Method, Canon, B.823-884; WSP 730-774; NKS 630-669. Today's questions.
Review day Final paper topic due
Evaluation form due before next class

Week 16, April 24 - 28
Judgment day: last day of class
No class.

Week 17, May 1 - 5
No class but... Final paper due

I've stuck in a review day every couple of weeks. Here are some of my ideas on how to use these days; let me hear yours.


Title Due date Weight Description
Eight explications (seven graded) Even-numbered days except Day 12 5% each One page each. Full sentences, outline format, very succinct. Details.
First paper March 10 20% 7-10 pages. Topic from a list I provide. Topic due February 22. Details.
Evaluation form April 24 0% Due any time before the last day of class. Use the hardcopy form I will hand out or print yourself a copy of the online version.
Second paper May 3, noon 20% 10 page minimum. On a topic of your choice from the second half of the book. I have a list of suggestions. Topic due April 21. Details.
Participation Daily 25% Attendance plus helpful, voluntary participation in every discussion. Includes giving presentations and leading discussion on Tuesdays. Details.
With the exception of explications, you must submit all assigned work to pass the course.


Note that the days spent on Kant's text are numbered 1-19. On every even-numbered day (except Day 12), a one-page explication will be due at class time. The grade on the first explication (Day 2) will not be recorded in order to allow you to master the genre without trauma.

The nature of an explication is described in a separate hand-out.

The explication topics for a given day are in the hand-out on reading questions and explication topics. An explication topic is a thesis or conclusion whose arguments must be explicated.

Hand in two copies of each explication, one with your name and one without. With a word processor, this should not be a problem. I will grade and return the copy with a name. The anonymous copy will go to a file on reserve for the rest of the class to consult.

Because explications will help support class discussion on the days they are due, I will not give extensions on them. And because so many are due, I will not allow rewrites. Your time will be better spent making the next one good than making the last one better.


Two long papers are required for this course. The first should be 7-10 pages long, and the second, 10 pages minimum. The first should be on a topic from a list I provide. The second may be on a topic of your choice that is central to Kant's project in the second half of the Critique of Pure Reason. (For this purpose, the "second half" of the book starts with the Transcendental Dialectic.) I have a hand-out of suggestions for the second paper topic, but you do not have to pick your topic from the hand-out.

In both papers, library research will be welcome but is not required. Also in both papers, you may incorporate any relevant work already done in explications.

The topic question of your second paper is due in writing in Week 15, well before the paper itself is due. If you can settle on your topic even earlier, you should consider doing so; that will give you more time to digest Kant's text. Because grades are due shortly after the due date, I can give no extensions on the second paper.

The paper assignment (for both papers) is described in more detail in the essay assignment hand-out.

If you can read the Critique of Pure Reason in German, or if you know German well enough to consult the original for nuance lost in translation, then you may depart from the assignment in some respects and write a more interpretive paper on that nuance if you wish. But speak to me first. In any case, please use whatever German you know when marshalling the textual evidence for your interpretation of the text, struggling with difficult passages, and conducting research in the library.

See my generic hand-out for details on paper mechanics, lateness, rewrites, and the option of having me grade your paper on tape. In this course, save the option of taped evaluation for the long papers; I prefer to grade explications by hand.

If you submit a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your final paper, then I will mail it to you during the break. If you only have your campus mail box number on the paper, then I will mail it to your campus box. If you do neither, I will hold it for you to pick up next fall.


This is a seminar; hence, there will be very few lectures. Attendance and good preparation are essential to the success of a seminar. I expect all of you to be fully prepared every day to discuss the reading, ask questions about its meaning and merit, help others to find the answers, discern presuppositions, trace consequences, reconstruct arguments, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of positions, and recognize the stakes.

I am aware that with a book like the Critique of Pure Reason, you will seldom feel ready to "answer" questions with any finality during discussion. You will be conscious of how many parts of the text you didn't understand; you will have doubts; you will be tentative. This is natural. But your tentativity is a good reason to speak, not a good reason to remain silent. For example, you can offer tentative answers in the spirit of experimentation or exploration. You can talk about what you didn't understand; what difficulties you'd like cleared up before we finish with a given section or topic; what sub-questions must be answered before we can answer the main question; what terms and concepts make the question perplexing; what the best contenders seem to be for the answers, and what can be said for and against some (or each) of them; what passages or issues are relevant in exploring the question; and so on. But don't wait to speak until you have certainty, or you will wait forever.

With this understanding, I expect everyone to talk voluntarily every day. I will not call on non-volunteers unless it is necessary to bring in every voice.

At the request of past students, I've made a list of think-about questions to accompany the reading. These should help you focus on important issues as you read. They also point to likely topics of future class discussion on which you ought to be prepared (at least with page numbers). All the explication topics and think-about questions will be worth your cogitation even if we don't reach them in class.

There are two easy ways to use the hand-out of questions. Either print it out to carry with your book or click on the day's questions in the reading schedule above.

I hope to make use of electronic discussion to continue and deepen our in-class discussions. I've set up an email list for this course. If you send an email to the list, then everyone in class receives a copy automatically. To use the list, simply send email to kant or kant@earlham.edu. For answers to common questions about using such a list, see my electronic discussion hand-out.

Presentations and leading discussion

Starting Week 3, the first half of every Tuesday class is reserved for student-led discussion. (I will lead on Review Days which happen to fall on Tuesdays.) Discussion leaders need not have done any outside reading or library research, although I recommend it highly. They should be especially well prepared on the parts of the text assigned for that day. Leaders should start with a 10-15 minute presentation in which they offer a reading of selected parts of the text of interest to them. For the rest of the hour, they should lead discussion on those and other, related topics. In the presentation and subsequent discussion, the leaders will not lecture, and need not have answers, but should have good questions and know where in the text to look for answers and how to lead a discussion that discovers answers. Each leader should give me a short outline of their presentation and plan for discussion at the beginning of the hour. I will be glad to meet with discussion leaders beforehand to discuss topics and methods. See the hand-out on presentations for more information.

Everyone will present and lead discussion at least once. You will present and lead discussion in pairs. Which Tuesdays go to which students will be decided first-come, first-served. If there are no volunteers for a given Tuesday, I will throw dice. Look ahead at the assignments and your work for other classes, and volunteer as soon as you can for the week of your choice.

If the enrollment is too small to allocate student discussion leaders to every eligible Tuesday, then I will look for volunteers to go more than once for extra credit. If the enrollment is too large to put only pairs of students in each eligible Tuesday, then on some Tuesdays students will lead in teams of three.

The chief elements of the participation grade are attendance, preparation for class, performance in discussion, and the week(s) as presenter and discussion leader. The two large papers must be submitted to pass the course. Explications which are not submitted will be recorded as zeroes.

Finding help

If you need help, please don't hesitate to talk to me in my office. Here are some other possibilities:

General education credit and prerequisites

This course normally does not satisfy a general education requirement in philosophy. Because it has two prerequisites, we assume that students who take it have already satisfied the requirement. If you have not yet satisfied the distribution requirement in philosophy, then you have not taken the prerequisites either. If you are in this position, please see me soon.

Here the dates of a few of Kant's important predecessors and successors, chronological by birth year. The names are links to searches in Hippias, the philosophy-specific search engine.

1596 - 1650        
1623 - 1662
1631 - 1679
1632 - 1677
1632 - 1704
1642 - 1727
1743 - 1819
1646 - 1716
1752 - 1800
1679 - 1754
1685 - 1753
1688 - 1772
1694 - 1778
1711 - 1776
1712 - 1778
1714 - 1762
1724 - 1804
1729 - 1786
1730 - 1788
1744 - 1803
1748 - 1832
1749 - 1832
1749 - 1827
1762 - 1814
1770 - 1831
1775 - 1854
1788 - 1860

Return to the course home-page.

Ribbon] Peter Suber, Department of Philosophy, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 47374.
peters@earlham.edu. Copyright © 1999, 2000, Peter Suber.