Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 October 2021
This chapter explores the complex relation between Kant and common-sense philosophy. In the Prolegomena, Kant is notoriously dismissive of thinkers like Beattie and Oswald, but his attitude toward common-sense philosophy is more sympathetic than these remarks might suggest. Kant shares some of the common-sense philosophers’ worries about the vanities of metaphysics, but sees them as caught up in just the kind of ‘enthusiasm’ that besets more traditional metaphysicians. The essay suggests that for Kant, the proper strategy against either form of enthusiasm is to deflate it using raillery and humor, and the paper is devoted to providing a fascinating literary analysis of the Prolegomena, to show just how the rhetorical strategies of the work can contribute to a greater understanding of the critical project as a whole.