Advice re Kant's Critique of Pure Reason

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I am very interested in self-studying Philosophy, and have read a number of general overviews about the subject including Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy.

I recently undertook an online course on Modernism and Post-Modernism on the website Coursera, and have since become rather interested by Kant's work. I have since watched several videos on Youtube outlining his work, A Critique of Pure Reason, and completed a brief course on iTunes U which also summaries the work.

I am currently reading Kant's Prolegomena which I have found to be a very stimulating read, and this has all encouraged me to give A Critique of Pure Reason a go.

My question is - as a lay person, would A Critique of Pure Reason go completely over my head? I have made a list of vocabulary that Kant uses and have made some notes based on the summaries I have read of the work so far. I plan to read through the work very slowly, making copious amounts of notes on the way and complimenting my reading with both an online lecture on Youtube ( and a commentary which I was lucky to find online:

However, I have heard several people say that Kant's work, particularly A Critique of Pure Reason, is a very difficult undertaking even for philosophy students, and would be beyond the level of a beginner never mind a layperson - bearing in mind I have never studied Philosophy before either in school or university and treat it more as a 'hobby.'

Has anyone read A Critique of Pure Reason? What were your thoughts on it? Do you think I would need to have a bit more of a background before delving into this work? From the summaries I have read so far, I find the ideas within this work to be incredibly thought-provoking, which is why I want to give it a try. However, I am worried that the work might go way above my head.

If I do need more of a background first, what philosophers and their works would you recommend I try first? I have read Hume's 'An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding' to get more of an understanding of what Kant was responding to.

And finally, what is it that makes the work so difficult - is it the ideas themselves or the way that Kant tries to get them across - or both?

Thanks for the help. Image

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