Critique and Totality

By Pierre Kerszberg

Subjects: Continental Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791431900, 274 pages, January 1997
Hardcover : 9780791431894, 274 pages, January 1997

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Table of contents

1. Totality, Finitude, and Division

Kant and the Cosmic Concept of Philosophy

Nature and Freedom

Being and Knowing

2. The Mathematical Dream of Philosophy

"I See the Trace of a Man"

The Quarrel between Mathematics and Philosophy

Of Shining Misery in Modern Times

3. An Experiment with Concepts

What are the Objects of Reason?

The Analogy with Copernicus as a Speculative Starting Point

Kant's Cosmological Principle

The Movement and Rest of the Spectator

4. Reversing the Order of Time

The Second Birth of Knowledge

Time from the Transcendental Point of View

The Antinomies as the Life of Reason

5. A Logic of Illusion

Reflecting upon Nothing Determinate: What is a Thing?

The Historical versus the Speculative Background of the First Antinomy

Taking Illusion out of its Hiddenness

On the Logical Employment of Reason

The Transcendental Amplification of the World

From the Natural to the Transcendental Antithetic: The Breakdown of Mathematics

The Critical Solution, or the Doubled Illusion

Dialectic without Nihilism

6. A Reversal of the Reversal

Crossing the Border of Reason

The Future as a Transcendental Problem

Transition to Life

The Antinomy of Life: The Often Foolish Reason

A Solution to the Antinomy, or the Endless Prolegomena

Freedom, Contingency, and Non-sense

The Problem of the Future Reconsidered

7. Lost Illusions

On Concepts Other than Cosmic

The Texture of Our World: Oscillating Between Givenness and Nothingness

Transition to the Absolute

Prolegomena to Finitude and Death

Feeling and Coercion




Presents an original and rigorous reading of the entire project of Kantian critique, demonstrating the essential role that cosmology plays in Kant and those he influenced.

Pierre Kerszberg is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of The Invented Universe: The Einstein-De Sitter Controversy (1916-17) and the Rise of Relativistic Cosmology and collaborated on the critical edition of the French translation of Kant: Theory of the Heavens.


"Most pivotal in this book is Kerszberg's nuanced account of the relationship between the antinomies of pure reason and the foundations of critique itself. On Kerszberg's reading, the relationship between Kant's Analytic and Dialectic is much more complicated than anyone has recognized. On the basis of his discoveries, Kerszberg is able to clarify the stakes involved in Kant's resistance to the sorts of moves made by his immediate successors (Maimon, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel) as well as to offer a powerful alternative to the Heideggerian reading of Kant. Along the way he offers compelling evidence against many of the standard readings of Kant's philosophy of science, frequently by situating Kant's texts in the context of early modern debates. Throughout, Kerszberg's scholarship is impeccable. The entire book is brilliant. " — Andrew Cutrofello, Loyola University, Chicago

"This book concerns the essential role that the issue of cosmology plays both in Kant's thought and those (especially in continental thought, Husserl and Heidegger) that Kant has affected. Both Husserl and Heidegger, still the most important thinkers in twentieth-century continental thought, briefly (but unsystematically) explored these topics for which now, thanks to Pierre Kerszberg, we have the details. His point is that Kant's project remains both more complicated and more fertile than either of these thinkers grasped, to the detriment of their own general philosophical positions. " — Stephen H. Watson, University of Notre Dame