As I study Kant's Critique of Pure Reason I am taking notes and trying to identify the points where someone sympathetic to a generally Aristotelian (particularly Thomist) view of metaphysics and knowledge would have reservations. So I will be essentially transferring my notes and other thoughts here as an ongoing commentary on Kant's great work. I will not be going line for line and explaining all his ideas. Rather, I will be picking out parts that I think are particularly pertinent to distinguishing him from, and criticizing him from the perspective of, a view which an Aristotelian is likely to take. I should note that, though I am coming from a decidedly realist picture and hence not particularly sympathetic with all aspects of Kant's thought, I certainly consider it a huge step up from Hume and a work of ingenious creativity. Kant definitely has my respect as one of the greatest thinkers to have lived, and I think he needs to be taken much more seriously than he is today.
With that said, let's look at the preface to the first edition of Kant's treatise. Though it does contain important information, since it is relatively short I will say more about the preface to the second edition. As a general remark, Kant seems to be primarily concerned here with the problem of metaphysical knowledge, whereas in the second edition preface he focuses in more on his own "Copernican revolution". Kant wants to know how it is possible for metaphysics to be justified. After all, in the very first paragraph Kant admits that metaphysics certainly deals in perennial problems which reason is always tempted to come back to.
One might wonder why we need any justification for thinking that we can have metaphysical beliefs. But Kant lays out a story as to what has happened to metaphysics up to the time of his writing:
"In the beginning, under the administration of the dogmatists, her rule was despotic. Yet because her legislation still retained traces of ancient barbarism, this rule gradually degenerated through internal wars into complete anarchy..."
Here the dogmatists represent the continental rationalists, especially people like Descartes, Leibniz, and Wolff. The anarchy was brought about by skeptical empiricists, Hume in particular. Kant considers the skeptical criticisms of rationalist philosophy to have been something of a deathblow, at least given rationalist assumptions about knowledge (such as a correspondence theory of truth or the doctrine of innate ideas). This is the background within which Kant hopes to provide a new, certain and complete theory which will solve the empiricist objections and provide a basis for metaphysics. Of course, right off the bat it is clear that no room between the rationalists and empiricists has been made for something like a more Aristotelian view of the matter, so it appears that Kant's argument will be a non-starter at least in terms of disproving the Aristotelian type of metaphysics and knowledge. This is a theme which will come up often, viz. that Kant, working within a certain philosophical movement, will fail to consider the Aristoteliean view which could solve the same problems he wants to without the seismic shift in our analyses of knowledge, objectivitiy, necessity, truth, etc.
In part II I'll examine the preface to the second edition of Kant's Critique and bring up some more specific points and objections.