Kant: A Very Short Introduction - Chapter 2: The Background of Kant's Thought Summary & Analysis

Roger Scruton
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When Kant started writing the "Critique of Pure Reason," his ambitions were high: He wrote that he believed his worked either answered every metaphysical question or at least provided the tools to do so. Despite this broad goal, Kant certainly was interested in some specific philosophical questions. Foremost among these was a question that had begun with Rene Descartes a century early: the problem of objective knowledge. Descartes famously argued that the first and most certain piece of knowledge one can have is that one is a thinking self: "I think, therefore I am." As later commentators point out, one could not even be certain of this much, for it assumed, without reason, the existence of a "self," a center of subjectivity.

The question remained, then, how one could have objective knowledge. As Kant entered...

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