The present volume in the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant in Translation contains sixteen works that Kant published in natural science, broadly construed, over a fifty-six-year period that span his entire career, from his first publication in 1746 to one of the last works published under his name while he was still alive in 1802. All of the works, except one, Kant's Latin dissertation on fire, were translated especially for this volume. They vary considerably in their character and length, ranging from the brief notice on Lambert's correspondence, which was essentially a short advertisement for one of Lambert's volumes that had just been published, to the two-volume Physical Geography, which contains a comprehensive and at times extremely detailed description of many of the physical features of the Earth, and its animals, as these were understood in East Prussia in the second half of the eighteenth century.
Two works in particular, beyond the Physical Geography, deserve special mention here. Kant's Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living Forces, his first publication, and his Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens, published in 1755, are both major books that tackle central issues of the day and are meant to be important contributions to natural science. The former attempts to develop a novel solution to the vis viva controversy, which raged in Europe for several decades and engaged many of the leading thinkers, while the latter attempts to articulate a broadly Newtonian cosmogony in original ways. While neither work was especially influential during Kant's own lifetime (for different reasons), both are significant works that form central components of Kant's early thought. For this reason alone they both deserve more attention than they have received so far; for if one is to have any hope of understanding Kant's later philosophical project and contributions, one must come to terms with the intellectual interests and projects that he pursued in his earliest years, if only to understand the points on which he changes his mind and to appreciate his reasons for doing so.