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Centre for Research in Philosophy and Literature

Kant Trouble: The Obscurities of the Enlightened

Diane Morgan
Warwick Studies in European Philosophy

'This is a wonderfully rich and suggestive book which is sure to have a large and enthusiastic readership among students of cultural and literary theory. It is full of original observations that shed new light both on the intrinsic interest of Kant's thought and on his relation to other thinkers and movements of his time and ours. Not least of its virtues, the study displays a rare combination of sympathy for its subject and critical distance, resulting in a reading that is both generous and searching.'
Susan Shell, Boston College

Kant Trouble: The Obscurities of the Enlightened offers a highly original and incisive reading of Kant's philosophy.

Diane Morgan focuses her investigation on a radical reappraisal of Kant's writings on architecture, justice and ethics, faith in progress, chemistry, life and matter. Throughout her study Morgan challenges the widely held view of Kant as the exponent of a rigid and restricting rationality. She argues that the philosopher's professed aim in The Critique of Pure Reason to attain an airtight 'architectonic' mode of reasoning is in fact a project which never really gets off the ground. Even before its inception it is troubled by Kant's intriguing explorations of other, ultimately more intriguing, ideas.

Morgan goes on to provide a convincing analysis of themes apparently of minor interest to Kant and Kantian studies - such as landscape gardening, freemasonry, chemical affinities and Egyptology - and demonstrates that these are in fact of major importance to a philosopher well capable of accommodating troubling and subversive ideas. This compelling discussion arrives at a fresh and ground breaking perspective on Kant, whereby he is no longer to be regarded as a concrete rationalist but as a daring thinker, not afraid to entertain ideas highly threatening to his own system and to the humanist legacy of the Enlightenment.

Diane Morgan is Senior Lecturer in Literary and Cultural Studies at University College, Northampton.