F653 Fall 2018 Introduction to Kant
Thursdays, 9:40–11:05, Sept. 20–Nov. 8
Instructor: Irmgard Scherer
This introductory foray into Kant’s critical philosophy attempts to cover the highlights of his thought. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is viewed as one of the four great philosophers of all time; Plato, Aristotle, and Thomas Aquinas are the others. By the mid-18th century, the philosophical enterprise had come to a number of impasses, and Kant proposed to disentangle these various knots by writing three Critiques. We will examine the big picture of Kant’s critical project, his “transcendental philosophy,” in thinking; his reconciliation of the entrenched systems of dogmatism and skepticism; his formulation of an anti-utilitarian theory of morality; and his founding a formal “science of aesthetics” in art theory. Kant’s Critiques are nearly inaccessible to read, so a few excerpts will suffice. Main readings will include Kant’s Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics and Kant’s Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals and What is Enlightenment? Robert Solomon’s delightful mock interviews with Kant, Introducing the German Idealists, will provide levity when things become too dense.
Irmgard Scherer, a US citizen born in Germany, is associate professor of philosophy emerita at Loyola University, Maryland. She taught core and honors ethics courses, topics in the history and philosophy of science, and upper level courses in her area of specialization: Kant and 18th century aesthetic theory. She has published on Kant and related issues. Since retiring, she has taught philosophy courses for OLLI, both at Mason and American University.