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Almost every reader’s first encounter with Kant comes through either the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals or the Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, but while the former work occupies a central and revered place in the philosophical canon, the Prolegomena is often viewed much more ambivalently.
The distinction between judgments of perception and judgments of experience has been a source of consternation to many commentators, since Kant’s claim that only judgments of experience involve the application of the categories seems to run afoul of the central doctrine of judgment found in the first Critique, where Kant proposes that all judgments are categorial. This chapter casts the distinction in a new light, by focusing not on whether all judgments must be categorial, but rather on what processes guide the transformation of judgments of perceptions into judgments of experience. Drawing on a comparison Kant makes between the categories and grammatical principles, the essay suggests that the way that categories apply to perceptual content mirrors how grammatical rules structure linguistic content, and that this allows for a new understanding of the role that judgments of experience play in the Prolegomena, and Kant’s critical idealism more broadly.
The Prolegomena is often dismissed as Kant's failed attempt to popularize his philosophy, but as the essays collected here show, there is much to be gained from a careful study of the work. The essays explore the distinctive features of the Prolegomena, including Kant's discussion of philosophical methodology, his critical idealism, the nature of experience, his engagement with Hume, the nature of the self, the relation between geometry and physics, and what we cognize about God. Newly commissioned for this volume, the essays as a whole offer sophisticated and innovative interpretations of the Prolegomena, and cast Kant's critical philosophy in a new light.