By Katharina T. Kraus
Katharina T. Kraus: Kant on Self-Knowledge and Self-Formation

As the pre-eminent Enlightenment philosopher, Kant famously calls on all humans to make up their own minds, independently from the constraints imposed on them by others. Kant’s focus, however, is on universal human reason, and he tells us little about what makes us individual persons. In this book, Katharina T. Kraus explores Kant’s distinctive account of psychological personhood by unfolding how, according to Kant, we come to know ourselves as such persons. Drawing on Kant’s Critical works and on his Lectures and Reflections, Kraus develops the first textually comprehensive and systematically coherent account of our capacity for what Kant calls ‘inner experience’. The novel view of self-knowledge and self-formation in Kant that she offers addresses present-day issues in philosophy of mind and will be relevant for contemporary philosophical debates. It will be of interest to scholars of the history of philosophy, as well as of philosophy of mind and psychology. More details

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020


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“Scholars have provided countless studies of Kant’s theory of object cognition. Katharina Kraus has produced the first positive and comprehensive account of Kant’s theory of self-cognition. It is a signature achievement.” Patricia Kitcher, Columbia University, European Journal of Philosophy

“Kraus’s ambitious and impressively researched book is bound to generate a good deal of debate for the foreseeable future. Anyone interested, not only in Kant’s views on self-knowledge and personhood but also in Kant’s critical system as a whole, should have this book on top of their to-read list.” Béatrice Longuenesse, New York University, Philosophical Review

“Katharina Kraus’s new book is an impressive, wide-ranging treatment of Kant’s theory of self-consciousness and selfhood. … its strength lies in the insight she displays in seeing how texts that are familiar to all students of the Critique can be read with subtlety and discernment in new and interesting ways. The account that emerges provides Kant with original answers to questions most readers (I speak of and for myself here) have not even known how to ask before reading her book. … For I confess that she has turned me into a learner and an inquirer into the topics she is discussing.” Allen Wood, Indiana University, Bloomington, Kantian Review

“Katharina Kraus’s Kant on Self-Knowledge and Self-Formation … provides a careful and systematic investigation, along with a nuanced and innovative interpretation, of several overlapping parts of Kant’s philosophy of mind and psychology. It is successful to such a high degree that it is surely the ‘state of the art’ for all future discussion of its topics.”  Clinton Tolley, UCSD, Kantian Review

“This book deserves to become a standard reference point for any discussion of Kant’s view on the self.” Pirachula Chulanon, Toronto Metropolitan University, NDPR

“Katharina Kraus’ important book offers a careful discussion of Kant’s account of the self and self-awareness that is both hermeneutically and philosophically rewarding. On her highly original reading of Kant, our self or person is not something we find, but something we must achieve. Kraus develops this deep and difficult idea with impressive ingenuity and sophistication.” Marcus Willaschek, Goethe-University Frankfurt


  • European Journal of Philosophy 29: 679–682 (2021), Patricia Kitcher.
  • Journal of the History of Philosophy 60(3): 515-517 (2022), Stefanie Buchenau.
  • The Philosophical Review 131 (3): 365–369 (2022), Béatrice Longuenesse.
  • Kant-Studien 114 (2):388–395 (2023), Ekin Erkan.
  • Notre Dame Philosophical Review (2023), Pirachula Chulanon.
  • Kantian Review 27(3): 461–508 (2022), Comments by Patrick Frierson, Janum Sethi, Clinton Tolley, and Allen Wood and author’s replies.
  • The Journal of the Society of German Idealism and Romanticism 5(1): 1–41 (2023), Comments by Karin Nisenbaum and Julia Peters and author’s replies.