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Introduction to Kant: Metaphysics, Epistemology and the Problem of Freedom


Admission requirements

Toehoorders / à la carte-studenten hebben alleen toegang tot deze cursus met toestemming van de docent.


An introduction to Kant’s Critical Philosophy, concentrating on the Kritik der reinen Vernunft (1781, 1787). This text represents Kant’s grandiose attempt to save the philosophy of the Enlightenment from its internal conflicts and to give it a definitive articulation. It is also the single most important reference point for understanding post-Enlightenment European philosophy. In examining this indispensable and difficult text, we will concentrate on the crisis of Enlightened reason, perceived by Kant as a conflict of metaphysics with itself, and his epochal transformation of the ‘battlefield’ of metaphysics into a ‘tribunal’ intended to delimit and secure the legitimate claims of reason.

Topics and problems to be covered include: Kant’s ‘Copernican revolution’ and the transformation of metaphysics and epistemology through the ‘transcendental’ turn; transcendent metaphysics vs. the metaphysics of experience; space and time as the forms of intuition; Kant’s theory of judgement and the conceptual conditions for experience (the Categories); the doctrine of Transcendental Idealism; empirical and transcendental self-consciousness; the relation of subject and object (the Transcendental Deduction); the mediation of the categories and intuition (the Schemata); phenomena vs. noumena; the illegitimate use of reason (transcendental illusion: Paralogism, Antinomy); reason as regulative. Special attention will be given to the Antinomy of Freedom as the bridge to Kant’s moral philosophy. In the latter part of the course, we will examine Hegel’s criticism of the text. The course will end with a survey of some major lines of development stemming from Kant’s Critique .

Course objectives

Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.


Wednesday, 11:00-14:00

See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2011-2012 , BA Wijsbegeerte (BA Plus-traject of Standaardtraject)
See Timetables Philosophy 2011-2012 , Timetable Undergraduate Courses in English

Mode of instruction

The course will consist of lectures with time left over for discussion and questions.

Assessment method

As part of their assessment (20%) students are required to write a summary or protocol of the part(s) of the text covered in one meeting, and to present it at the beginning of the next meeting. The rest of their assessment (80%) will be based on a take-home examination at the end of the course.



Reading list

Required literature
We will read the Critique of Pure Reason in English with help from the original German. Students may use any edition in either language provided it has both A and B versions of the text. Useful commentaries by S. Gardner (Routledge 1999) and N. Kemp Smith (Humanities Press 1992) will be available in the philosophy reading room of the library. For Hegel’s criticism of Kant, we will use Stern, R., Hegel, Kant and the Structure of the Object (Routledge1990), also available in the reading room. Relevant excerpts from Hegel’s works will be made available for students to copy.

Recommended literature
Good secondary texts are: Allison, H., Kant’s Transcendental Idealism (Yale 1983); Pippin, R., Kant’s Theory of Form (Yale 1982); and various essays in Henrich, D., The Unity of Reason (Harvard 1994).
A good background text: Beck, L., Early German Philosophy , Part III (Thoemmes 1996).


Please register for this course on uSis.

Exchange students and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Aanmelden à la carte en contractonderwijs

Aanmelden voor Contractonderwijs via:
Aanmelden voor Toehoorderschap via:
Na aanmelding ook inschrijven voor cursus en tentamen(s) via uSis

Contact information

Dr. H.W. Siemens


Specialisaties (BA Wijsbegeerte): Geschiedenis van de filosofie, Theoretische filosofie, Ethiek en Politieke filosofie.