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Kant's discussion of the relations between cognition and self consciousness lie at the heart of the Critique of Pure Reason in the celebrated transcendental deduction Although this section of Kant's masterpiece is widely believed to contain important insights into cognition and self consciousness it has long been viewed as unusually obscure Many philosophers have tried to avoid the transcendental psychology that Kant employed By contrast Patricia Kitcher follows Kant's careful delineation of the necessary conditions for knowledge and his intricate argument that knowledge requires self consciousness She argues that far from being an exercise in armchair psychology the thesis that thinkers must be aware of the connections among their mental states offers an astute analysis of the requirements of rational thoughtThe book opens by situating Kant's theories in the then contemporary debates about apperception personal identity and the relations between object cognition and self consciousness After laying out Kant's argument that the distinctive kind of knowledge that humans have requires a unified self consciousness Kitcher considers the implications of his theory for current problems in the philosophy of mind If Kant is right that rational cognition requires acts of thought that are at least implicitly conscious then theories of consciousness face a second hard problem beyond the familiar difficulties with the qualities of sensations How is conscious reasoning to be understood? Kitcher shows that current accounts of the self ascription of belief have great trouble in explaining the case where subjects know their reasons for the belief She presents a new Kantian approach to handling this problem In this way the book reveals Kant as a thinker of great relevance to contemporary philosophy one whose allegedly obscure achievements provide solutions to problems that are still with us

12 thoughts on “Kants Thinker

  1. says:

    An outstanding book on an outstanding topic but what exactly is the topic? The topics include what did Kant say what does it mean today and how can any of this really be true While she salutes Strawson's The Bounds of Sense that made much the same effort 50 years ago Kitcher does the better job of taking Kant in his own terms and Kitcher brings a 21st century aesthetic to the project Kitcher suggests at the end that Kant has much to say to modern researchers into the topics of cognition and mind and I would add the hot topic of artificial intelligence However Kitcher does not go there herself she stays strictly within the philosophical traditions She does find however in Kant and in Kant's CPR talk of a thinker If you've read that Kant's CPR is not a theory of mind take Kitcher's excellent book as a total refutation To a large extent that is exactly what CPR was about though Kant's vocabulary is not the modern one This is not a book for casual readers but if these are your topics this is a book for you