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PH948-20 Kant's Critique of Pure Reason

Taught Postgraduate Level
Module leader
Stephen Houlgate
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

Immanuel Kant is one of the most important and influential modern philosophers; indeed he is one of the greatest thinkers of all time. He made ground-breaking contributions to epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics and philosophy of religion, and his thought paved the way, directly or indirectly, for many of the most significant philosophical movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, including German Idealism and Romanticism, phenomenology and neo-Kantianism. In this module we will study Kant’s first great work, the Critique of Pure Reason (1781, 2nd ed. 1787), in which he undertook his famous “Copernican Revolution” by arguing that objects of possible experience conform to the categories of understanding (rather than the other way round).

Module aims

We will study, among other things, the following topics: Kant’s argument in the Transcendental Aesthetic that experience of objects presupposes a priori forms of intuition; his derivation of the categories of thought from the functions of judgement (the so-called “Metaphysical Deduction”); the Transcendental Deduction, in which Kant argues that categories are required for objects of experience; Kant’s notorious conception of the “thing in itself”, and his famous and influential account of the “antinomies” of reason. Where appropriate, we will also consider the similarities and differences between Kant’s thought and that of other philosophers, such as Leibniz, Hume, Hegel and Nietzsche. No prior knowledge of Kant is required to take this module, and all students are welcome, whatever philosophical tradition they come from.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

weeks 1 - 2: Introduction to Kant's critical project
week 3: Kant's Transcendental Aesthetic
week 4: The derivation of the categories of thought
weeks 5 - 6: The Transcendental Deduction of the categories
weeks 7 - 8: the Schemata and Analogies of Experience
weeks 9 - 10: The Ideas of Reason and the Antinomies

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Students will have a systematic and advanced understanding of key issues in Kant's theoretical philosophy
  • Students will be able to read and interpret central sections of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason; present their own point of view on them in clear prose.
  • Students will be able to analyse and critically evaluate Kant's doctrines; assess the textual accuracy and philosophical strength of different interpretations of Kant's doctrines.
  • Students will be able to pursue and organize philosophical research using a range of sources (print and electronic media), documenting research carefully, and showing the ability to engage independently in philosophical debate.
Indicative reading list

Primary Texts:

Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. P. Guyer and A.W. Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

Kant, Immanuel, Kritik der reinen Vernunft, ed. R. Schmidt (Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1990).

Also worth reading:

Kant, Immanuel, Prolegomena to any future Metaphysics that will be able to come forward as Science, in Kant, Theoretical Philosophy after 1781, ed. H. Allison and P. Heath (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

Kant, Immanuel, Prolegomena zu einer jeden künftigen Metaphysik, die als Wissenschaft wird auftreten können, ed. K. Vorländer (Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1976).

Secondary Texts:

Wood (2005) provides a very good overview of Kant’s whole system. Allison (2004) and Gardner (1999) are very good studies of the CPR. Caygill (1995) is an invaluable resource at all times.

Allais, Lucy (2015), Manifest Reality. Kant’s Idealism and his Realism (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Allison, Henry (2015), Kant’s Transcendental Deductions. An Analytical-Historical Commentary (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Allison, Henry E. (2004), Kant’s Transcendental Idealism. An Interpretation and Defense, revised and enlarged ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press).

Ameriks, Karl (2000), Kant’s Theory of Mind. An Analysis of the Paralogisms of Pure Reason, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press).

Ameriks, Karl (2000), Kant and the Fate of Autonomy. Problems in the Appropriation of the Critical Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Anderson, R. Lanier (2015), The Poverty of Conceptual Truth. Kant’s Analytic / Synthetic Distinction and the Limits of Metaphysics (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Bird, G. ed. (2010), A Companion to Kant (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell).

Bird, Graham (2006), The Revolutionary Kant. A Commentary on the Critique of Pure Reason (Chicago: Open Court).

Caygill, Howard (1995), The Kant Dictionary (Oxford: Blackwell).

Collins, Arthur W. (1999). Possible Experience. Understanding Kant’s Critque of Pure Reason (Berkeley: University of California Press).

Deleuze, Gilles (1995), Kant’s Critical Philosophy. The Doctrine of the Faculties, trans. H. Tomlinson and B. Habberjam (London: The Athlone Press).

Dudley, W. and Engelhard, K. ed. (2011), Immanuel Kant. Key Concepts (Durham: Acumen).

Ferrarin, Alfredo (2015), The Powers of Pure Reason. Kant and the Idea of Cosmic Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

Gardner, Sebastian (1999), Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason (London: Routledge).

Grier, Michelle (2001), Kant’s Doctrine of Transcendental Illusion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Guyer, Paul. ed. (2010), The Cambridge Companion to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Guyer, Paul. ed. (1992), The Cambridge Companion to Kant (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Guyer, Paul (1987), Kant and the Claims of Knowledge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Heidegger, Martin (2018), The Question Concerning the Thing. On Kant’s Doctrine of the Transcendental Principles, trans. J.D. Reid and B.D. Crowe (London: Rowman and Littlefield).

Heidegger, Martin (1997), Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, trans. R. Taft, 5th ed. (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press).

Henrich, Dieter (1994), The Unity of Reason. Essays on Kant’s Philosophy, ed. R.L. Velkey (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press).

Houlgate, Stephen (2016a), “Hegel, Kant and the Antinomies of Pure Reason”, Kant Yearbook 8 (Kant and German Idealism): 39-62.

Houlgate, Stephen (2015), “Hegel’s Critique of Kant”, in The Aristotelian Society. Supplementary Volume LXXXIX (2015), ed. M. Soteriou (London: The Aristotelian Society), pp. 21-41.

Houlgate, Stephen (2011), “Nature and History: ultimate and final purpose”, in Immanuel Kant. Key Concepts, ed. W. Dudley and K. Engelhard (Durham: Acumen), pp. 184-99.

Langton, Rae (1998), Kantian Humility. Our Ignorance of Thing in Themselves (Oxford: Clarendon Press).

Longuenesse, Béatrice (1998), Kant and the Capacity to Judge. Sensibility and Discursivity in the Transcendental Analytic of the Critique of Pure Reason, trans. C.T. Wolfe (Princeton: Princeton University Press).

Luchte, James (2007), Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. A Reader’s Guide (London: Continuum).

McCumber, John (2014), Understanding Hegel’s Mature Critique of Kant (Stanford: Stanford University Press).

McDowell, John (2009), Having the World in View. Essays on Kant, Hegel, and Sellars (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press).

Moore, A.W. (2012), The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics: Making Sense of Things (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Pippin, Robert B. (1982), Kant’s Theory of Form. An Essay on the Critique of Pure Reason (New Haven: Yale University Press).

Prauss, Gerold (1974), Kant und das Problem der Dinge an sich (Bonn: Bouvier Verlag).

Reich, Klaus (1992), The Completeness of Kant’s Table of Judgments, trans. J. Kneller and M. Losonsky (Stanford: Stanford University Press).

Schulting, Dennis (2012), Kant’s Deduction and Apperception. Explaining the Categories (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).

Sedgwick, Sally (2012), Hegel’s Critique of Kant. From Dichotomy to Identity (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Strawson, P.F. (1966), The Bounds of Sense. An Essay on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (London: Methuen).

Walsh, W.H. (1975), Kant’s Criticism of Metaphysics (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press).

Watkins, Eric (2005), Kant and the Metaphysics of Causality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Wolff, Michael (2017), Der Begriff des Widerspruchs. Ein Studie zur Dialektik Kants und Hegels, 3rd ed. (Berlin: Eule der Minerva Verlag).

Wood, Allen W. (2005), Kant (Oxford: Blackwell).

Subject specific skills

An ability to understand and assess the arguments in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. An ability to relate Kant's arguments to those of other thinkers, such as Spinoza and Hegel, and to assess their relative merits.

Transferable skills

An ability to understand and assess complex arguments. An ability to read texts carefully and with intelligence. An ability to enter sympathetically into a different way of thinking and to assess its merits from an internal vantage point. An ability to explain complex ideas to others.

Study time

Type Required
Seminars 10 sessions of 2 hours (10%)
Private study 180 hours (90%)
Total 200 hours
Private study description

No private study requirements defined for this module.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group A1
Weighting Study time
5000 word essay 100%
Feedback on assessment

Feedback on essays will be provided on the coversheet for the essay, addressing standard areas
of evaluation and individual content.


This module is Optional for:

  • Year 1 of TPHA-V7PL Postgraduate Taught Philosophy

This module is Core option list A for:

  • TPHA-V7P2 Postgraduate Taught Continental Philosophy
    • Year 1 of V7P2 Continental Philosophy
    • Year 2 of V7P2 Continental Philosophy

This module is Option list A for:

  • TPHA-V7PM Postgraduate Taught Philosophy
    • Year 1 of V7PM Philosophy
    • Year 2 of V7PM Philosophy

This module is Option list B for:

  • Year 1 of TPHA-V7P7 Postgraduate Taught Philosophy and Literature

This module is Option list C for:

  • TPHA-V7PM Postgraduate Taught Philosophy
    • Year 1 of V7PM Philosophy
    • Year 2 of V7PM Philosophy