Friday, July 01, 2005

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason

I tried and failed, making it up to page 272. You know you’re not doing too well with a book when you sigh – literally let out a huge breath – every time you turn a page. Having previously read part one of Schopenhauer’s World As Will And Representation, I had a bit of an idea of what Kant’s Critique was all about. Indeed, Schopenhauer says huge swathes of it are completely unintelligible. Well, at least I can take comfort that even he didn’t understand various parts of it. What makes this book even more trickier is the fact that the translation includes large additions from the first edition, where they differ from the second edition (which is used for the basis of this translation). So you read one page, then half way through it there’s a line and under the line are paragraphs that Kant dropped from the second edition. So not only do you have difficulty understanding the text, you are then given the option to compare it with a previous edition. In Schopenhauer he goes into detail on this, highlighting all the contradictions.

Kant, in his introduction, makes no concessions for his readers. And I think you have to wonder at this approach. If you have something to say, make it intelligible. Isn’t that what writers do?

I was going to quote a piece in which Kant says that the workings of nature are really just the workings of our mind, and how he admits that this must sound absurd, but reading through his prose my heart sank and I can’t be bothered. Maybe I’ll try Kant in another 20 years, although I fear I may be senile by then, or my mental faculties greatly diminished.

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