REVIEW OF ` THE CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON`…By Immanuel Kant
Translated by J.M.D. Mieklejohn
(Reviewed by S.K.SAGAR)
When I get still older, and the time comes when I am completely bed ridden, I will still be enjoying life and still hope to continue living, with books like the above at my bedside.
How did I find this book ?
It was a Sunday… October 2012…We ( with wife and son ) were strolling at Lincoln Square in Chicago, we entered a book store.. `Raven`s woods` ( it was`nt planned ). There were all kinds of books, an awesome variety of books. It was`nt a big shop, but the concentration of books per square metre of the floor area was the highest I had seen so far.
The owner asked me..`Was I looking for something in particular ?`… I was`nt actually… so I asked him (thinking there was less than 1% percent chance that he would have it) :
Do you have `The Critique of Pure Reason….by Immanuel Kant` ?
I was astonished when he said : `Yes I have it, you won`t find it, I`ll help you`.
Even he took about seven minutes to locate it….It was hardcover and in good condition….printed in 1955…contains the prefaces of the first and second editions..written in 1781 and 1787 respectively price $8.00.. I tell you…It was a steal
I recall a conversation with a blogger `Dave Astor` on Huffingtonpost in response to his blog… “Some ‘Difficult’ Books Aren’t as Difficult as We Think“, where I commented:
I don`t know about fiction, but in Nonfiction (other then technical books in specialized subjects), the most difficult book I have come across so far is “The critique of pure reason“ ….by Immanuel Kant. I have little doubt that most ..if not all …of those who are in possession of this book will agree with me.
It is possible that no one has read the book in completion…or maybe it is a single digit number. It is learnt that someone who read about half the book, and understood it well, presumably after ten or more readings once said :
` Whosoever has not read the book is still a child`
When asked why he did not complete the book, he promptly replied : `I would have surely become insane if I had done so` “
Here is a typical paragraph from the book..A somewhat simpler one:
“ Now, since the notions of good and evil, as consequences of the a priori
determination of the will, imply also a pure practical principle, and therefore a causality of pure reason; hence they do not originally refer to objects ( so as to be, for instance, special modes of the synthetic unity of manifold of given intuitions of one consciousness ) like the pure concepts of the understanding or categories of reason in its theoretic employment ; on the contrary they presuppose that objects are given; but they are all modes (modi) of a single category, namely that of causality, the determining principle of which consists in the rational conception of a law which as a law of freedom, reason gives to itself, thereby a priori proving itself practical. However, as the actions on the one side come under a law, which is not a physical law, but a law of freedom, and consequently belong to the conduct of beings in the world of intelligence, yet on the other side as events in the world of sense they belong to phenomena; hence the determinations of a practical reason are only possible in reference to the latter, and, therefore in accordance with the categories of the understanding ; not indeed with a view to any theoretic employment of it, i.e, so as to bring the manifold of (sensible) intuition under one consciousness a priori…But only to subject the manifold of desires to the unity of consciousness of a practical reason, giving it commands in the moral law, ie , to a pure will a priori“
I read the para over and over again one evening, and after about ten readings – Believe it or not – I was beginning to understand it, and believe it or not …it was nothing short of `Spellbinding`.
This is what I think, the gist of what it says in that paragraph
“Before we make our judgment of whether something is `good` or `evil`, we must ask ourselves under which law we are making the judgement… whether it is the law of freedom (of will)…or it is a physical law ( law of Physics). The former from considerations of `Pure Practical Reason` corresponds to the conduct of beings in the `world of intelligence`, and the latter from considerations of Pure Reason ( Theoretical) would mean that any act performed is in the world of sense..ie just a phenomena ie. merely the motion of atoms and molecules in accordance with the laws of causation.`
I do not know if I got it right..but I do know that I enjoyed the evening immensely.
And to think …there are about 1800 such paras in the book … and you will understand why I will be looking forward to that certain phase of life, when I might be confined to a single room… with nothing to do except chat with my wife and family… listen to music … and read `The Critique of Pure Reason“.
All in all, a spellbinding `Five Star` book.
This is my second review.
SURENDRA KUMAR SAGAR…Author of `SIX WORDS`