• Instructor: McCrossin, Edward
  • Description:

    01 (T. McCrossin) Overview:
    Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above and the moral law within. — Kant, Critique of Practical Reason

    Toward the end of his landmark Critique of Pure Reason, Kant famously insisted that “all the interests of reason combine” into three questions — What can we know? What ought we to do? What may we hope? Kant’s perspective is a watershed moment in the history of philosophy not only for the innovative ways in which he answers these questions individually, but, more importantly, for the innovative way he combines them in the process, in the spirit of his insistence, in his Lectures on Logic, that our answers to these three questions combine in turn in answering a fourth, the “most useful, but also the most difficult” — What does it means to be human?

    He offers us a systematic answer to this cluster of questions in a long series of challenging technical works, beginning in 1781 with the Critique of Pure Reason, the first of the three critiques, the second being the Critique of Practical Reason, the third the Critique of Judgment, and culminating in 1797 with the Metaphysics of Morals. We also have interspersed shorter, less technical articulations of the perspective, most notably, in between the first and second Critiques, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics and Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. We have as well a long series of shorter works, written for more popular consumption, from “Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View,” in 1784, through “An Old Question Raised Again: Is the Human Race Constantly Progressing?,” in 1798.

    With periodic reference to the perspectives developed in “Descartes, Locke, and the Seventeenth Century” and “Hume, Kant, and the Eighteenth Century,” and anticipating the one developed in “Nineteenth-Century Philosophy,” we will devote ourselves to developing together, out of the above and other works, a systematic sense of Kant’s overall perspective, and selective sense of his legacy.* We will do so together, our proceedings as participatory as possible, based on the idea that philosophy is best done as conversationally as possible. In addition to anticipating being actively involved in a semester-long conversation, participants should anticipate completing substantial during-term and end-of-term writing projects.

    * Familiarity with the history of philosophy in these eras and more generally is not a prerequisite for joining the class, nor for doing well, but may well be helpful nonetheless. In this spirit, at least the most notable of the works in question will be available in “Files” Canvas in advance of the semester.

  • Credits: 3
  • Sample Syllabus
  • Syllabus Disclaimer: The information on this syllabus is subject to change. For up-to-date course information, please refer to the syllabus on your course site (e.g. Canvas) on the first day of class.