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About a month ago, for reasons that aren't important enough to describe here, right now, I bought a copy of Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason online. It showed up a few days later, for a cheap price and on time. Looking at the back, it says it was manufactured the day I ordered it: someone with a nice printer in Las Vegas, Nevada prints out public domain books and sells them on Amazon, which seems fair to me. The book was of high quality, but it didn't have any explanatory notes. I don't even know which year this was translated. But I started wading in.

The Critique of Pure Reason is a notoriously abstract book, and Kant is a very unclear writer. He coins his own vocabulary, and uses words like category, intution, synthetic, a priori, dialectic, logic, quantity, conception, aesthetic and others in a way that either suffers in translation, were used much differently in his time, or were just reinvented to fit his philosophy. "Sensuous intuition" sounds like it should be a George Benson song, but its what Kant says Time and Space are. So, after a month, and getting 81 pages in, I could not with any confidence say I have absorbed a single thing in this book. The words become a background drone. It could be that it is all going in one ear and out the other. Except for one thing: just trying to peer into these very abstract concepts has made me think a lot. The vocabulary, the concepts, the ways of looking at the world have crept into my brain, the same way that listening to Spanish in the background increases my ability to think in Spanish. And while Kant is abstract, some of these thoughts have reflected real conflicts in my life and in the world right now.

For example, and just from today: I was thinking of how, at a certain point in my life, I (like most people) moved around exterior signs of identity, such as clothing, appearance, and group affiliation, to understanding the self as a non-tangible thing. And then I thought about it for a minute, and realized that I didn't know what I meant by non-tangible. Because when I try to imagine what my non-tangible self is, what do I think of? I think of either an endless gray expanse, or I think of some non-linear Steve Ditko background. I try to think of something weird or hyperdimensional, but neither of those things are what "non-tangible" means. But this isn't a question that really comes from Kant, or from the contents of the Critique (as far as I can tell---maybe I read it and didn't realize I had read it in that thick, thick, thicket of words). It is just that in an attempt to pierce the nest of abstractions in those pages, it has kick started some thought processes in my brain.