I have a good buddy who’s a professor at the nearby university and this summer he invited me to join his book group to discuss philosophy, specifically the works of Immanuel Kant, Georg Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx. Since I’m not an academic by any stretch, I was honored by his invitation and accepted without hesitation. We’ve been meeting at the bar across the street from the college since June and so far it’s been both intellectually stimulating and entertaining. Despite being the only non-professor in attendance somehow I’ve managed to not open my mouth and make a fool of myself!
The first book we discussed was Roger Scruton’s Kant: A Very Short Introduction from the Oxford Very Short Introduction Series. (Almost 10 years ago I featured another book in this excellent series, Joseph Dan’s 2006 book Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction.) As challenging as I found Scruton’s 2001 short book, I must salute him for helping make a layperson like myself make sense of one of history’s most influential but difficult philosophers.
As the 18th century winded down and Kant reflected upon the current state of philosophy he sensed he, and other like him had reached an impasse. Did we understand great truths through reason or through observation? In hopes of solving this conundrum Kant wrote Critique of Pure Reason, giving birth to one of Western philosophy’s most influential texts. In this short introduction Scruton breaks down Critique of Pure Reason into manageable bites as well as providing helpful insight into the life and thought of this mighty philosopher.
This is a short book and not an easy one. But if Scuton can help an unlettered schmuck like me makes sense of Immanuel Kant, then this book is a winner.