The Bounds of Sense
The Bounds of Sense: An Essay on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is a 1966 book about Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781) by the Oxford philosopher Peter Strawson, in which the author tries to separate what remains valuable in Kant's work from Kant's transcendental idealism, which he rejects. The work is widely admired, and has received praise from philosophers as an important discussion of the Critique of Pure Reason, although Strawson's treatment of transcendental idealism has been criticized.
Cover of the first edition
|Subjects||Critique of Pure Reason|
|Publisher||Methuen & Co Ltd|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)|
|Pages||296 (1975 edition)|
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Strawson provides a critical reading of Kant's text (referring to parts of it as proceeding "by a non sequitur of numbing grossness"), with an emphasis on the analytical argument of the transcendental deduction, which he considers one of the few lasting contributions Kant made to philosophy. His title is a play on a title Kant himself proposed for the Critique of Pure Reason, with "sense" referring both to the mind and the sense faculties, and hence the bounds can be either those of reason or sensation.
The Bounds of Sense was first published in 1966 by Methuen & Co. Ltd. It was reprinted in 1968, 1973, and 1975. The work has also been published in Spanish, German, Italian, and Japanese translations.
Allais expressed disagreement with Strawson's interpretation of transcendental idealism. Allison also criticized the work, while Cassam wrote that, "The realism that is implicit in The Bounds of Sense is much more explicit in Strawson's later work but relies on problematic assumptions about the relationship between epistemology and metaphysics." Gomes criticized Strawson's argument that unity of consciousness requires experience of an objective world. However, he credited Strawson with raising the important question of whether "there ways in which we must think of our experiences if we are to self-ascribe them".
Evaluations in booksEdit
The Bounds of Sense has been praised by the philosophers Charles Parsons, who writes that Strawson is perhaps the most eloquent of the many commentators who have "read Kant as saying that the mind literally makes the world, along the way imposing spatial and temporal form on it", Roger Scruton, who identifies the book as one of the most important recent commentaries on the Critique of Pure Reason, and Howard Caygill, who calls it a distinguished reading of the Critique of Pure Reason.
Baldwin writes in The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (1999) that Strawson aims to "extricate what he sees as the profound truths concerning the presuppositions of objective experience and judgment that Kant's transcendental arguments establish from the mysterious metaphysics of Kant's transcendental idealism." Baldwin observes that Strawson's critics have argued that this attempt leads to an unstable position. Transcendental arguments "can tell us only what we must suppose to be the case", meaning that "if Kant's idealism, which restricts such suppositions to things as they appear to us, is abandoned, we can draw conclusions concerning the way the world itself must be only if we add the verificationist thesis that ability to make sense of such suppositions requires ability to verify them."
Beiser writes in German Idealism: The Struggle against Subjectivism, 1781-1801 that while Strawson is the most notable of those commentators on Kant who have argued that the central arguments of Kant's Analytic can be separated from Kant's transcendental psychology and transcendental idealism, Strawson provides a "sparse interpretation of the Deduction" that leaves numerous unresolved questions. Beiser notes that Kant himself envisaged, and rejected, a reading of the kind proposed by Strawson.
Lowe writes in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (2005) that while The Bounds of Sense is widely admired, Strawson is "seen by some as being unduly dismissive of Kant's doctrine of transcendental idealism" and over-optimistic in his "suggestion that many of the central arguments of Kant's critical philosophy can survive" its repudiation.
- Strawson 1975, p. 11.
- Strawson 1975, p. 137.
- Strawson 1975, p. 6.
- Allais 2016, pp. 892–906.
- Allison 2016, pp. 920–933.
- Cassam 2016, pp. 907–919.
- Gomes 2016, pp. 946–969.
- Parsons 1998, p. 83.
- Scruton 2002, p. 303.
- Caygill 2007, p. xxii.
- Baldwin 1999, p. 882.
- Beiser 2002, pp. 177–178.
- Lowe 2005, p. 898.
- Baldwin, Thomas; Audi, Robert, Editor (1999). The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-63722-8.
- Beiser, Frederick C. (2002). German Idealism: The Struggle against Subjectivism, 1781-1801. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-00769-7.
- Caygill, Howard; Kant, Immanuel (2007). Critique of Pure Reason. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-01338-4.
- Lowe, E. J.; Honderich, Ted, Editor (2005). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-926479-1.
- Parsons, Charles; Guyer, Paul, Editor (1998). The Cambridge Companion to Kant. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-36768-9.
- Scruton, Roger (2002). A Short History of Modern Philosophy. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26763-3.
- Strawson, Peter (1975). The Bounds of Sense. London: Methuen & Co Ltd. ISBN 0-416-83560-0.
- Allais, Lucy (2016). "Strawson and Transcendental Idealism". European Journal of Philosophy. 24 (4). doi:10.1111/ejop.12198. – via EBSCO's Academic Search Complete (subscription required)
- Allison, Henry (2016). "Transcendental Deduction and Transcendental Idealism". European Journal of Philosophy. 24 (4). doi:10.1111/ejop.12200. – via EBSCO's Academic Search Complete (subscription required)
- Cassam, Quassim (2016). "Knowledge and its Objects: Revisiting the Bounds of Sense". European Journal of Philosophy. 24 (4). doi:10.1111/ejop.12199. – via EBSCO's Academic Search Complete (subscription required)
- Gomes, Anil (2016). "Unity, Objectivity, and the Passivity of Experience". European Journal of Philosophy. 24 (4). doi:10.1111/ejop.12202. – via EBSCO's Academic Search Complete (subscription required)