"PARAMOUNT IN THE CRITICAL METHOD OF MODERN PHILOSOPHY": RARE FIRST EDITION OF KANT'S CRITIK DER REINEN VERNUNFT (CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON)—GERMAN PHILOSOPHER M.W. DROBISCH'S COPY
KANT, Immanuel. Critik der reinen Vernunft. Riga: Johann Friedrich Hartknoch, 1781. Thick octavo, 19th-century three-quarter brown calf, raised bands, tan morocco spine label, patterned boards, marbled endpapers. $48,000.
First edition of Kant's major exploration of the possibilities and pitfalls of human cognition. Only this first edition contains the original text, as all subsequent editions are based on the second edition of 1787, which was substantially revised by Kant. The copy of 19th-century German philosopher, mathematician, logician and author Moritz Wilhelm Drobisch, with his ownership signature dated 1820.
The first of his three groundbreaking Critiques, Kant's Critick der reinen Vernunft represents the "full maturity" of his philosophical thought. It treats the problem of "how it is possible for the individual thinking subject to connect together the parts of his experience in the form we call cognition… The influence of Kant is paramount in the critical method of modern philosophy. 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" (PMM 226).
"Even though Kant is widely considered to be one of the two or three greatest philosophers that Western civilization has produced, he was also much interested in science and especially in the philosophy of science… He was not interested in gleaning facts and data; rather, he speculated concerning the grand scheme in which the facts gleaned by others are arrayed… By the time Kant's thought attained full maturity in the Critique of Pure Reason, the pure concepts of substance, cause, possibility, existence, and necessity had become coterminous with the two pure forms of intuition, space and time, in having a valid application to nothing to phenomena… Kant was a type of realist not unlike Descartes or Locke in his claim that appearances are not all that there is but are all that one has an actual and detailed knowledge of. There is a reality behind the appearance, but one has only a problematic concept of this reality. He often characterized this position of the Critique as transcendental idealism in order to distinguish this brand of idealism from the extreme form typified by Berkeley" (DSB). Text in German, in black letter. Pages 426-61 unnumbered, as issued; text complete. Norman 1197.
Ink ownership signature, dated 1820, of German mathematician, logician, philosopher and author Moritz Wilhelm Drobisch (1802-96). Drobisch studied mathematics and philosophy at the University of Leipzig, where he subsequently became a professor of first mathematics, and then philosophy. Drobisch made contributions to philosophical and mathematical logic, set theory, quantitative linguistics and empirical psychology. Strongly influenced by Kant, Drobisch was one of the forerunners of the neo-Kantian revival of the 1860s; in 1885 he published a book on Kant: Kant's Dinge an sich und sein Erfahrungsbegriff [Kant's Things in Themselves and his Concept of Experience]. Infrequent marginalia in pencil and ink, quite likely in Drobisch's hand. Ink quotation in Latin facing title page.
Text quite clean, front joint lightly rubbed, binding sound and handsome. A most desirable copy of this rare and important philosophical landmark, with excellent provenance.