As I dive deeper into understanding epistemology more broadly and Kant's first Critique more specifically, I have taken up advice from related posts to read his Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics as the ideal entry point, followed by Critique of Pure Reason itself. Of the latter, I am hopeful the F. Max Mueller translation into English will serve me well.

There is further mention in the same and related posts to nearly infinite secondary literature sources, but I could not find specific citations. All introductions to Kant's work I've found to date have been general in nature, and I have found none that have unpacked epistemology to the level I'd like to go.

Are there specific thinkers (scholars, philosophers, historians, even university programs) who have done deep dives on the foundations of epistemology as outlined by Kant in his CPR, to the degree such thinkers could be considered authoritative? I am anxious to learn more, but need to know where to start.

  • Define "authoritative"?
    – virmaior
    Nov 30, 2015 at 4:36
  • Thanks @JoWehler for the quick response, I'll have a look.
    – sourcepov
    Nov 30, 2015 at 11:53
  • @virmaior to me 'authoritative' would be one or more individuals who have invested signficant effort researching and analyzing a specific subject area, and as a result are considered by others in the community exceptionaly well informed. They are 'go to' sources for insight. I try to avoid the term 'expert' but it applies here. Both Kant & philosophy in general may provide challenges on this (see Philip's comment below).
    – sourcepov
    Nov 30, 2015 at 12:04
  • I would say "expert" is a far less problematic term than authoritative. I would say Allen Wood, Karl Ameriks, Robert Pippin, Paul Guyer, and Henry Allison are all experts on Kant in the English-speaking world. Another helpful list is here northamericankantsociety.onefireplace.org/page-451432 .
    – virmaior
    Nov 30, 2015 at 12:21

1 Answer 1


First, regarding the aim of your question:

To understand the book I suggest first understanding the purpose and the question (as well as the change of questions from A to B). For that task, I strongly suggest The Twenty-Five Years of Philosophy by Eckart Förster. It will help to understand its context and the systematic places of other works of Kant as well. There is an overview of content and the line of argumentation explained, too. In addition, it fleshes out the way from Kant to Hegel

Second point is the translation. It is crucial to have a translation that can catch the main content of the ideas of the German words. The best for this is the Cambridge Edition of Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood. As a paperback it is worth the investment.

Third point is one most people do not even get: The first part of the book has been strongly rewritten between A and B edition, the ones authorized by Kant himself. It is due to the facts that the question has changed and he has written CPR (A) in quite a short time, before being thorougly through every thought (see above mentioned book), as well as the criticism that arised against his ideas. So he had to change some points and clarify others.
That is why in fact there are two books, one could say, and the first half should be read first as "only A", then as "only B". The second half is identical. The Prolegomena can only be seen as an introduction to the B edition (!).

Forth point, I cannot say what guide will work or you. There is no guarantee for understanding the book. And there is still a vivid discussion about how certain concepts have to be understood, not to speak of the book as a whole. But the suggestion of @JoWehler sounds solid.

Now, regarding the idea of an interpreter regarded as an authority:

There is no such thing in philosophy (nor arts, literature etc.). The only 'authoritarian' person regarding interpretations is the author himself. Kant is dead for quite a long time now so that we will never have a 100% certainty if we get the point correctly in each case. But there is a certain concensus about what the main idea and the main arguments are. As I said, there are still publications revealing new aspects and new ways to interpret the text or small parts or even single words of it nowadays.

  • Exellent feedback @PhilipKlocking, much appreciated. Mueller's preface (found in a PDF on the web) confirms 1781 (A) ed. was writen in 5 months and hints at political factors that influenced 1787 (B) ed., including some of Kant's removals and justifications. So it seems A is a safe place to start. As a student of such profound subject matter, seeking a solid second literature foundation seems prudent, even if the notion of 'authority' is less common in metaphysical circles. Again, appreciate the insight. And I shall track down Förster.
    – sourcepov
    Nov 30, 2015 at 12:27

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