I'm a mathematician. I'm considering reading Emmanuel Kant's famous Critique of Pure Reason to help me think. I care more about the ideas rather than the ways of his presentation, which I'm not literate enough to appreciate.

In mathematics, one does not go read historic papers from 19th century to learn linear algebra. Instead, we read textbooks that are written for pedagogical purposes where ideas are presented in more attainable, intuitive manner. Do we have such books for Critique of Pure Judgement, given its significance?

  • Approaching philosophy on the model of mathematics will not get you far, ideas there are inseparable from ways of presentation, and textbooks written for pedagogical purposes do not teach them, at best they give pointers to further reading and thinking. "Critique of Pure Judgement" does not exist, there is Critique of Pure Reason and Critique of Judgement, the former one is more famous.
    – Conifold
    Sep 25, 2019 at 0:03
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    The way to approach them after textbook (or online) summaries is reading professional commentary. Possible duplicate of A companion or guide to Kant's Critique of Pure Reason
    – Conifold
    Sep 25, 2019 at 0:05
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    First you may want to read the Wikipedia on Kant's "Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics" online. The book is also available online PDF.
    – Gordon
    Sep 25, 2019 at 5:14
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    Jill Vance Boroker's Kant's Critique of Pure Reason: An Introduction is supposed to be good in terms of laying out all his vocabulary and helping guide the reader through his argument, see the review here for example.
    – Hypnosifl
    Jun 21, 2020 at 12:53

1 Answer 1


P.D. Ouspensky's Tertium Organum has this extract from Kant’s CPR in the starting chapter.

The entire book can be considered to be…

Mathematico-mystical variations on the Kantian theme

Nothing which is intuited in space is a thing in itself, and space is not a form which belongs as a property to things; but objects are quite unknown to us in themselves, and what we call outward objects arc nothing else but mere representations of our sensibility, whose form is space, but whose real correlate, the thing in itself, is not known by means of these representations, nor ever can be, but respecting which, in experience, no inquiry is ever made. . . .

The things which we intuit are not in themselves the same as our representations of them in intuition, nor are their relations in themselves so constituted as they appear to us; and if we take away the subject, or even only the subjective constitution of our senses in general, t hen not only the nature and relations of objects in space and time, but even space and time themselves disappear. . . .

What may be the nature of objects considered as things in themselves and without reference to the receptivity of our sensibility is quite unknown to us. We know nothing more than our mode of perceiving them. . . . Supposing that we should carry our empirical intuition [sensory perception] even to the very highest degree of clearness, we should not thereby advance one step nearer to the knowledge of the constitution of objects as things in themselves. . . .

To say, then, that all our sensibility is nothing but the confused representation of things containing exclusively that which belongs to them as things in themselves, and this under an accumulation of characteristic marks and partial representations which we cannot distinguish in consciousness, is a falsification of the conception of sensibility and phenomenization, which renders our whole doctrine thereof empty and useless.

Is Ouspensky a serious philosopher or a mystic or a wild fantasist I'll leave you to judge 😇.
What can be agreed upon is that he uses a math-format...

As Fact? Truth?? Allegory??? I wont judge

Following @Conifold, I suggest you edit your question to change Judgement to Reason

  • It is exactly this kind of "dry talking" without any examples that makes Kant unreadable. When you use a word such as "intuit", it is necessary for you to give an example so that people understand what exactly you mean.
    – Daniel Li
    Sep 25, 2019 at 3:32
  • @DanielLi I suspect Kant is 'drier' in English than German... But that is for some English-German bilingual to affrim assertively.
    – Rushi
    Sep 25, 2019 at 3:42
  • Looks like a good summary to me, albeit of only one issue. For myself I cannot see much point in expanding it to match the more careful and complete presentation given by Kant when the original text is available. This summary allows one to get the gist. Ouspensky is an odd character known for his misunderstanding of Gurdjieff's philosophy. He has 'mystical' leanings and sensibilities but never quite 'groks' the message. A philosopher maybe but not a mystic except in an aspirational sense. .
    – user20253
    Sep 26, 2019 at 16:11
  • @DanielLi I am surprised that a mathematician rants about someone who writes about concepts so abstract that it is hard to give corresponding examples at all. ZxZ spaces are not exactly intuitively understood. Intuition in Kant is perceptual input not yet "understood". Also, Kant did write the Prolegomena as an introduction, which tries to gradually lead the reader from common experience to the level of abstraction the CPR starts with.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Oct 26, 2019 at 13:46
  • Ouspensky's, 'In Search of the Miraculous' brings forward questions about our 'experience' of the sensible world. He points up that the typical format of our 'certainty' can be expressed as x=y, in which we never can approach knowledge of either axis without the other. It mirrors Kant's 'ding an sich'. His illustration mirrors our experience of time. He then asks us to picture a point residing on a plane, only 'flat' exists. This is equivalent to the 'present'. So the 'passage of time cannot be determined by the planar being. The point on the plain can not determine how time moves.
    – user37981
    Jun 21, 2020 at 14:20

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