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Kant's Copernican Revolution

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Kant's ideas on how the world depends on us, on the limits of human knowledge and why we are bound to ask questions we cannot answer.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the insight into our relationship with the world that Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) shared in his book The Critique of Pure Reason in 1781. It was as revolutionary, in his view, as when the Polish astronomer Copernicus realised that Earth revolves around the Sun rather than the Sun around Earth. Kant's was an insight into how we understand the world around us, arguing that we can never know the world as it is, but only through the structures of our minds which shape that understanding. This idea, that the world depends on us even though we do not create it, has been one of Kant’s greatest contributions to philosophy and influences debates to this day.

The image above is a portrait of Immanuel Kant by Friedrich Wilhelm Springer


Fiona Hughes
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Essex

Anil Gomes
Associate Professor and Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Trinity College, Oxford


John Callanan
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at King’s College London

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

53 minutes

Last on

Thu 3 Jun 2021 21:30



John Callanan at King's College London

Anil Gomes at the University of Oxford

Fiona Hughes at the University of Essex


Jill Vance Buroker, Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason': An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2006)

Sebastian Gardner, Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason (Routledge, 1999)

Paul Guyer, Kant (Routledge, 2014)

Fiona Hughes, Kant's Aesthetic Epistemology: Form and World (Edinburgh University Press, 2007)

Fiona Hughes, ‘Kant's Phenomenological Reduction?’ (Études phénoménologiques, vol. XXII, Nos 43-4, 2007)

Immanuel Kant (trans. Paul Guyer and Allen Wood), Critique of Pure Reason (Cambridge University Press, 1999)

Immanuel Kant (ed. Mary J. Gregor), An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? (Cambridge University Press, 1996)

A.W. Moore, The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics: Making Sense of Things (Cambridge University Press, 2011)

James R. O'Shea, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason: An Introduction and Interpretation (Routledge, 2011)

P. Rabinow (ed.), The Foucault Reader (Pantheon Books, 1984), especially 'What is Enlightenment?' by Foucault

P.F. Strawson, The Bounds of Sense: An Essay on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (Routledge, 2018)

Ralph C.S. Walker, Kant: The Arguments of the Philosophers (Routledge, 2010)

Allen Wood, Kant (Blackwell, 2004)


‘Immanuel Kant’ by Michael Rohlf - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2020)

‘Kant, the Philosophy of Mind and Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy’ by Anil Gomes

Books on Immanuel Kant recommended by Adrian Moore

Immanuel Kant - Wikipedia


  • Thu 3 Jun 2021 09:00
  • Thu 3 Jun 2021 21:30

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