The Importance of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason for Epistemology

Nicolas Rufino dos Santos
4 min readMay 27, 2024


Immanuel Kant (Source:

Considered a necessary work with a profound impact in the field of philosophy, Immanuel Kant addresses a central issue in the scientific field: epistemology and the nature of knowledge. Although these themes had already been observed by other intellectuals, such as Bacon and Descartes, who analyzed issues like the relationships between subject and object, for example, when studying the nature, rules, and limits of the use of knowledge and distinctions between the pure and the empirical, Kant (2015) inaugurates a new way of thinking in philosophy and, consequently, in epistemology.

It is timely to briefly contextualize two predominant currents up to that point: empiricism and rationalism. Protagonized by authors such as Bacon, empiricism holds that, in addition to the separation between subject and object, knowledge is determined by pure experiences lived by human beings, materialized through sensory stimulation. Bacon was actually the main responsible for the shift from ancient science, marked by superstitions, to one grounded in nature. In a way, Japiassu interprets the phenomenon from this perspective. According to the author, before knowledge exists, there is a set of preconceptions originating from often erroneous opinions that shape practical reality, that is, pure experience. On the other hand, there is a rationalist current, constituted by authors such as Descartes, who argued that knowledge did not originate through pure experience but through the human capacity for reasoning.

Through his Critique of Pure Reason, conceives a new paradigm in the field of philosophy by inaugurating a new form of thought that mediates between the combination of rationalism and empiricism. His central problem involves the nature of knowledge and does not consist in the human duty to seek understanding of the external world, but in how this world is perceived and understood by the human being. This means that we only have access to this world as it is shown to us, that is, through a slice of reality, a phenomenon. The subject determines the object and is therefore not determined by it.

The synthetic balance between the dichotomy of empirical and rationalist currents opened up a series of new possibilities for systems of concepts in epistemology, which contributed directly not only to the scientific field of Administration but to all modern sciences. Kant’s (2015) transcendental synthesis is, therefore, a result of the balance between empiricism and rationalism, since it recognizes truths from both currents and proposes that understanding and sensibility are the sources of knowledge. This new

This paradigm inaugurated by Kant was considered a Copernican Revolution, as it provided a new way of understanding the relationships between subject and object by establishing a new set of rules not previously conceived.

Another major contribution of Kant’s works to philosophy was the development of a priori and a posteriori knowledge. The former consists of knowledge independent of the senses, meaning it precedes empirical knowledge and does not depend on pure experience, such as mathematical equations and chemical formulas. A posteriori knowledge, on the other hand, depends on practical experiences and has a comparative nature, such as physical laws that needed to be tested to be confirmed. It is important to highlight that other authors, like Popper and Lorenz, also developed their concepts of a priori knowledge, but these have distinct characteristics from those proposed by Kant.

Therefore, the contributions of Immanuel Kant are enormous and encompass both the history of philosophy and the history of science itself. By opening up a new range of possibilities, challenges, and reflections for the epistemological field through his thoughts on the nature of knowledge, the separation of subject and object, and the approximative and intersubjective movements, for example, his contributions to Administration, an applied social science, are highly significant. Perhaps an essential contribution of Kant to the field of epistemology was opening our eyes to the fact that the fascination of science lies in its plural nature of ideas materialized through debate, discussion, and criticism, which promote the development of knowledge.


KANT, I. Crítica da razão pura. 4.ed. Petrópolis: Editora Vozes, 2015. p.17 68. Revista Mente, Cérebro e Filosofia Kant- Hegel v. 3, jan 2005, p. 1–17.

JAPIASSU, H. Alguns instrumentos conceituais. O que é a epistemologia? In: Introdução ao pensamento epistemológico. Rio de Janeiro: Francisco Alves, 1991, p. 15–39.

LATOUR, B. Jamais formos modernos. Rio de Janeiro: Editora 34, 1994.
Revista Mente, Cérebro e Filosofia Kant- Hegel v. 3, jan 2005, p. 1–17.

ZAGO, José Antônio. DE FORMIGAS, ARANHAS E ABELHAS: DO A PRIORI DE KANT ÀS INCERTEZAS DA CIÊNCIA. Revista Filosófica São Boa Ventura, v. 15, n. 1, p. 11–30, 2021.



Nicolas Rufino dos Santos

PhD student in Administration - Ethics, Virtues and Moral Dilemmas in Administration. Florianópolis, SC, Brasil. Contact: