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Kant's First Critique: Space, Time and Causation


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to MA students in Philosophy

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation History and Philosophy of the Sciences

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Natural Sciences

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Psychology


Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason has a credible claim to being the most important book of modern philosophy. Kant develops a new model of human cognition and a distinctive philosophical position, transcendental idealism, that amounts to a rejection of both empiricism and rationalism. In doing so, Kant is radically innovative and reaches dizzying heights of abstraction. For these reasons, the Critique of Pure Reason also has a credible claim to being among the most difficult books of modern philosophy.

This course is based on the conviction that Kant’s philosophy is still of great interested to theoretical philosophers. Thus, we will not only study the Critique, but also link it to contemporary questions and debates.

To make this project manageable, we will focus on a particular, and particularly important, strand of Kant’s argumentation: the strand that leads from the early considerations of space and time in the Transcendental Aesthetic to the proof of the universal applicability of the concept of causation in the Transcendental Analytic. This means that we will read approximately the first half of the Critique, which is generally considered both the most important and the most difficult part. (After following the course, you should be able to finish a fruitful reading of the book on your own.) At the same time, we will consider what contribution Kantian ideas can make to philosophical problems about space, time and causation. We will pay special attention to the question whether Kant’s attempt to prove that Hume was wrong can inform a serious philosophical response to the neo-Humeanism that is still dominant in current theories of causation.

Course objectives

This course aims to give students detailed insight into Kant’s ideas about space, time and causation, as well as the role these ideas play in the overall argument of the Critique of Pure Reason; and link Kant’s theories to contemporary debates about time and causation.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • Kant’s overall argument in the Critique of Pure Reason;

  • Kant’s mature theories about space, time and causation;

  • the relevance of Kant’s theories for contemporary debates.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • explain Kant’s theories about space, time and causation, and place them into the greater structure of the Critique;

  • apply these theories in contemporary debates and draw well-argued philosophical conclusions from them.


See: MA Philosophy 60 EC
See: MA Philosophy 120 EC

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Attending seminars (3 hours x 13 weeks): 39 hours

  • Weekly literature and assignments (including presentation) (10 hours x 13 weeks): 130 hours

  • Writing final paper (including research / reading additional literature): 111 hours

Assessment method


  • Mid-term paper (20%)

  • Class presentations (20%)

  • Final paper (60%)

Active participation in class is required for admission to the exam.


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests (see above)


The resit covers the following exam components: paper (80%).
The grades for other exam component (class presentations) remain in place.

Active participation in class is required for admission to the resit. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Announcements

  • Distribution of some texts

  • Discussion board (to be determined)

Reading list

  • Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.
    It is advisable to do your primary reading in a language that you are very familiar with. For Dutch students, the Veenbaas/Visser translation published by Boom is well worth considering. However, in class we will use the Guyer/Wood English translation, published as part of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. (Whatever translation you use, make sure it contains both the A-edition and B-edition texts as well as page numbers.)

  • Sebastian Gardner’s Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason, Routledge Philosophy Guidbook.

  • Other materials to be announced and distributed on Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number, which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. V.A. Gijsbers


Not applicable.