I reference Kant’s works a lot in my writings, they have had a profound impact on my thinking. Another thinker I revisit time and again as the years go by, I first discovered Kant in middle school in a small survey on philosophy I read while hanging out in the library during lunch breaks. My hermit like tendencies already manifesting, I preferred the peace of quite contemplation than the noisy socializing of the lunch room. My father had a copy of Clausewitz’ Vom Kriege on his shelf at home, I was already aware of what Prussian persistence in dialectical analysis was capable of, but from just a small sample of Kant’s philosophy covering something called a categorical imperative, I felt a connection with a fellow human being, a rare thing in my life’s experience so far, yet a bit complicated given Kant had been dead a decade shy or so of two centuries.
By the time I was a senior in high school, I was the expert on all things Kantian, which is really not saying much, there was a surprising lack of competition in regards to 18th century philosophers among my peers and the faculty. I think, mostly because several teachers didn’t really know what to do with me, I ended up volunteered for debate team captain of the Lincoln Douglas team which at any time had maybe three people on it. The majority of the debate team preferred the rapid fire cross examination two man tag team style, and I and my not so devout followers were exiled to a large unused broom closet from which I tried to enlighten in ways of elegant oration. One of my many spectacular failures in life, I mostly bored people to tears, and in the end we took to sitting with lights off in a broom closet, an activity I found very enjoyable, but looking back was probably a sign of depression in my teammates. I suppose I wasn’t a very good team captain, though I discovered in a pinch, a broom closet makes a better hermit cell than a library during lunch break.
As an adult absent minded philosopher I realize how much of Kant’s work is still… inaccessible isn’t the right word, I’ll say instead not fully realized in my wee brain. The layered onion metaphor might work if the onion was a genetically modified, miracled grew monstrosity whose mass threatened to swallow up whole all your previous conceptions of onions. You might argue at that point do the layers really matter, but of course they do, just tread lightly if a mere mortal among the Prussian philosopher’s playground of ideas. That is not to say, do not try. Remember that concept of struggle! Kant is struggle at its best. His critiques on pure and practical reason are a must read in my opinion and the Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals isn’t a bad way to spend a night or two during one’s lifetime.
Two books I’ve encountered in the past few years that help with realizing Kant are Imagination and Interpretation in Kant: The Hermeneutical Import of the Critique of Judgment by Rudolf A. Makkreel and Kant’s Transcendental Idealism: An Interpretation and Defense by Henry E. Allison. I’ve found both texts extremely useful in giving voice and perspective to Kant’s body of work.
In the future, more on transcendental idealism with Kant and Deleuze. And an interesting trinity composed of Kant, Swedenborg, and Blake and as always plenty of ramblings and much ado about nothings from yours truly.