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To quote from Printing and the Mind of Man – as did both the Baltimore cataloguer and Christie’s New York, when in 2001 they sold the Abel E. Berland copy for $60000 – “No other thinker has been able to hold with such firmness the balance between speculative and empirical ideas. His penetrating analysis of the elements involved in synthesis, and the subjective process by which these elements are realized in the individual consciousness, demonstrated the operation of ‘pure reason’; and the simplicity and cogency of his arguments achieved immediate fame”.

Well, up to a point. Bryan Magee in his History of Philosophy, (1998) writes that “this later harvest of his thought was so profoundly original in content that it was not at all easy to understand. In fact Kant felt it to be generally misunderstood at first, so two years after the publication of Critique of Pure Reason he brought out a thin volume which was simply a clearer, more accessible statement of the longer book’s chief arguments”. This slim work, knowns as the Proegomena, remains, says Magee, the best introduction to the great book, although Kant did substantially revise the 1787 second edition in an attempt to make himself better understood.

“It has to be admitted”, Magee continues,“that, although he was an attractive person, he was not an attractive writer, and this together with the depth of his ideas makes for difficult reading. But the effort is worth it. His work is the gateway to the most significant developments in philosophy beyond Hume”.