What Can I Know?

By Michelle Gilmore-Grier

© 2016 – Routledge

240 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415782937
pub: 2016-04-30
Hardback: 9780415782920
pub: 2016-04-30
e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

What can I Know? introduces and assesses what many consider to be the most important of all Kant’s great questions, set out in his Critique of Pure Reason, and one of the most important in philosophy itself: what are the bounds of knowledge?

Michelle Grier begins with a helpful survey of the question prior to Kant, in particular the arguments of the rationalists Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz and the empiricists, above all Hume. She describes, in a clear and engaging style, how Kant attempted to find a middle path between the two and what led to the famous "Copernican turn" in his philosophy. She explains the fundamental theories at the heart of Kant’s epistemology: the distinction between appearances and ‘things in themselves’; the transcendental unity of apperception; and Kant’s arguments concerning space and time.

In the second part of the book, Grier introduces the main criticisms of Kant’s philosophy, including those of Hegel and Nietzsche. The final part situates Kant’s epistemology in the context of contemporary philosophical debates including those in cognitive science. These include a priori knowledge, correspondence versus coherentist theories of knowledge, ‘naturalized’ epistemology and perception.

Including helpful chapter summaries and guides to further reading, What Can I Know? Is an outstanding introduction to Kant's epistemology and the legacy of Kant's question itself.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction Part l 2. The Modern Period 3. The Copernican Turn 4. the Sensible Conditions of Knowledge 5. the Intellectual Conditions of Human Knowledge 6. The Limitation of Knowledge Part 2: Criticism of Kant 7. Kant’s contemporaries 8. Kant’s Influence on his Immediate predecessors Part 3: Kant’s Relation to contemporary Debates 9. Contemporary Philosophy of Knowledge 10. Cognitive Science, Neuroscience. Index

About the Author

Michelle Gilmore-Grier is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California – San Diego, USA. Her main research interests are in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, History of Modern Philosophy, and post-Kantian European philosophy. She is currently working on the role of reason in Kant's moral and aesthetic theories, and on Nietzsche's conception of autonomy.

About the Series

Kant's Questions

"The Kant's Questions series is thoroughly excellent. The books combine depth of philosophical treatment with a fluid, easily-readable style, offering original historical interpretations of Kant's writings with an illuminating attentiveness to issues of contemporary relevance. All in all, the series reveals the stunning depth, power, and lasting impact of Kant's writings." - Robert Hanna, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA

"This is an excellently conceived series by internationally renowned Kant scholars who, unusually, focus not on individual works or sub-disciplinary fields of inquiry but engage with those questions which Kant took to be of perennial philosophical interest. Engagingly and accessibly written whilst meeting exemplary standards of scholarship, these volumes will prove an invaluable resource for students and teachers of Kant’s philosophy alike." - Katrin Flikschuh, London School of Economics, UK

"By providing careful and detailed accounts of Kant's answers to what he considered to be the most fundamental questions of philosophy, the books in this series constitute excellent introductions to the key aspects of Kant's philosophy. Moreover, by tracing the development of these questions and ideas to the present day, they contextualise contemporary debates within a historical narrative in a way that allows the reader to grasp the continuing relevance and significance of Kant's questions and the answers that he put forward." - Ralf M. Bader, New York University, USA


Series advisor: Allen Wood, Stanford University, USA

"The field of philosophy ... can be reduced to the following questions: What can I know? What ought I to do? What may I hope? What is the human being? Metaphysics answers the first question, morals the second, religion the third, and anthropology the fourth." – Immanuel Kant

With the addition of his celebrated essay, An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? Kant bequeaths us five fundamental questions that continue to resonate and challenge today.

Kant's Questions explores the philosophical meaning and significance of each question. Taken individually, each book is a fresh and innovative introduction to a fundamental aspect of Kant’s thought. Taken together, the series is an outstanding resource on the central questions motivating Kant’s philosophical and intellectual outlook as a whole.

Each book shares a clear structure. The first part introduces Kant’s question, explaining his own answer to it; the second part explores historical criticisms to the question; and the third and final part of the book places the question in a contemporary philosophical context. Also included are chapter summaries and a helpful section of annotated further reading at the end of each chapter.

The Kant's Questions series is essential reading, not only for all students of Kant, but those studying subjects such as ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of human nature and the history of philosophy, as well as those in related disciplines such as religious studies, politics and sociology.

  • What is Enlightenment? Samuel Fleischacker
  • What is the human being? Patrick R. Frierson
  • What may I hope? Andrew Chignell
  • What can I know? Michelle Grier
  • What should I do? Julian Wuerth

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Epistemology
PHILOSOPHY / Metaphysics