The Bounds of Sense: An Essay on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason

Strawson, P.F., The Bounds of Sense: An Essay on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, London: Methuen, 1966.

From a review:

No book on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is without its difficulties. On the one hand there is the tendency toward slavish exegesis, usually of the sort that avoids basic philosophical problems by submerging them in the very Kantian language which gave rise to them in the first place. On the other hand, as one’s own philosophical commitments come to the fore, there is an almost irresistible compulsion to merge what Kant actually said with what he was “struggling” to say, “really” meant, or should have said. P. F. Strawson’s book has its difficulties too, but not the ones I have mentioned. He avoids the pitfalls of Kantian terminology while remaining faithful on the whole to the philosophical problems this terminology was designed both to clarify and to solve.

Though he has a great deal to say about Kant’s actual views, what Kant seemed to have in mind, what is salvagable in Kant’s views, and what a philosopher might truly say concerning the problems with which Kant struggled, Strawson is scrupulous in his identification of which particular enterprise he is engaged in at any particular point in his book. What results is a study at once both faithful to Kant and relevant to con- temporary philosophical problems. The source of the major difficulties in Strawson’s study is at the same time the source of its major virtues. Strawson carefully distinguishes two enterprises engaged in by Kant: (1) the articulation of a minimal conceptual framework in terms of which any experience can be said to be intelligible and without reference to which no experience can be meaningfully conceived, and (2) the forging of a philosophy of mind, a “transcendental” psychology of human cognitive mechanisms (faculties), on the basis of which human experience becomes explicable.

Review by Stephen Erickson, Journal of the History of Philosophy, Vol, 7, No. 3