Understanding Immanuel Kant is the fourth philosophy study guide in the Smart Student Guides series.
After his retirement in 2016, Professor Laurence Houlgate wrote these books to help beginning philosophy students understand the classics of philosophy. During his 51 year of teaching, he found that help was especially needed as his student's struggled to understand Kant's notoriously difficult Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals.
The struggle to understand is worth it. Professor Henry Allison, the leading commentator on Kant's work, said of Grounding that it is "the single most important work in modern moral philosophy."
But It is also one of the most difficult books to comprehend, especially for beginning philosophy students. Understanding Immanuel Kant makes Kant accessible to students while at the same time showing why his writings have had such a powerful influence on philosophical ethics.
Houlgate's study guide is not a scholarly monograph on Kant, nor is it a bare-bones outline of Kant's writings. Instead, the book gives the reader an interpretation of Kant in ordinary language, explaining the technical words Kant uses ("analytic," "synthetic," "categorical imperative," "autonomy of the will") and using examples of moral problems drawn from everyday life. The book also shows how Kantian ethics differs from the theories of the other great philosophers represented in the series (Plato, Locke, Hobbes and Mill).
Each chapter concludes with questions for thought and discussion and within these questions students will find many topics that can be pursued in term papers.
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