The Categorical Imperative is the third book in the Noumenal Realm Trilogy, which focuses on the unconventional educational initiatives of an institution called the New Smithsonian Foundation, whose aim is to educate the children of America through virtual reality experiences instead of through the Smithsonian Institution’s dusty museum artifacts. In this novel, middle schoolers Roslyn, Brent, and Jonah track down Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant in order to battle skepticism and prevent the New Smithsonian Foundation from being shut down. In the end, they learn that reality is more amazing than they ever dreamed.
The storyline of this volume focuses on the European Enlightenment. While bold thinkers questioned the laws of God, the laws of nature, and the laws of civil society, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s breakthrough concept of autonomy showed that humans should obey only their own laws. But can autonomy provide a new foundation for both science and morality, as Immanuel Kant insisted? The young heroes of this novel discover what it means to obey your own laws.
Although each novel in the trilogy stands alone, it is best to read them all, and in order, to enjoy the full effect of the storyline.