Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783)

In Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, Kant primarily intended to clarify and simplify what was said in his Critique of Pure Reason, which was met mostly with bewilderment when it was first published in 1781. Readers generally failed to appreciate the originality of Kant’s ideas, including his belief that rationalist metaphysics—the main occupation of philosophers in Germany at the time—could be dismissed entirely, which proved to be too revolutionary a concept. In Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, Kant reconceives the purpose of metaphysics as seeking to understand how knowledge is structured, and consequently how the various concepts of our mental faculties are organized. This was an important step for philosophy, since after Kant published his work there was been less interest in making broad claims about the nature of the universe and greater emphasis on determining what we can know and on what grounds we can claim to know it.

Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785)

In Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant introduces many of the arguments that he would present more fully in his Critique of Practical Reason in 1788. “Metaphysics” is a field of philosopy focused on the study of pure concepts as they relate to moral or physical experience. Kant’s goal for Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals was to develop a clearer understanding of moral principles, so that people may better avert distractions. Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals represents a characteristic quality of Enlightenment era thinking: an immense confidence in “reason”—that is, in humanity's ability to solve problems through logical analysis. Kant’s philosophical goal was to use logical analysis to understand reason itself. Before we go about analyzing our world, Kant argued, we must understand the mental tools we will be using.

Critique of Practical Reason (1788)

Critique of Practical Reason presents Kant’s Doctrine of Elements, containing the Analytic of Pure Practical Reason and the Dialectic of Pure Practical Reason. The Analytic contains the arguments for the categorical imperative as the one true moral principle and for the identity of morality and freedom while the Dialectic exposes the primary error of all previous ethicists and proposes the postulates of pure practical reason. Critique of Practical Reason concludes with the Doctrine of Method, in which Kant proposes a new method for moral education.

Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason (1793)

Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason is a philosophical work written by German philosopher Immanuel Kant and published in 1793. Like Kant’s better-known Critique of Pure Reason—which asks us to set aside questions that we have no chance of adequately answering—it represents an ingenious attempt to address a difficult philosophical problem concerning the nature of faith and religious obligation. In Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, Kant asks us not to give up questions about God, but rather to give up religious practices that are unnecessary for true moral conduct.

Popular pages: Selected Works of Immanuel Kant