Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant was one of the greatest rational philosophers of the Enlightenment, and set a categorical standard for modern reasoning. All of Kant’s years from birth to death (1724-1804), were spent in the small provincial town Konigsberg, in East Prussia. Kant’s grand-father was of Scotch lineage, but if he had kept the original spelling (Cant), the C would have been pronounced as a Z by the citizens of Konigsberg. Also Kant’s original first name was Emanuel, but he changed it to Immanuel after learning Hebrew. Both of Kant’s parents were modest financially and religiously; but spiritually nurtured by a Christian Lutheran sect called the Pietists. Being a Pietist Christian, Kant had a mixed sense of pride in religious rigor, and humility about humble limitations.

Kant was first educated at the local College; then in 1740 Kant went to the University of Konigsburg, where he studied the classics, physics, and philosophy. The master of German Philosophy at the time was Christian von Wolff; who was a dominant secretary of the Enlightenment movement, and stated that “man could be happy and good without the divine grace of revelation”. This atheist statement angered the ‘Soldier King’ of Prussia, King Frederick William I; however his condemnation only enhanced Wolff’s international fame. Immanuel Kant revered Wolff as the “most powerful representative of dogmatic rationalism, from the stand-point of pure unshaken confidence in the strength of Reason.” Kant eventually replaced Wolff as the popular national philosopher.

In Kant’s home town of Konigsburg, the city burghers were said to set their watches when Kant passed by their windows on his precisely-timed daily walks. He did not write his most famous works until he was older. When people that knew him read his work, they often agreed that it was logical and well-ordered, just like Kant himself. Kant applied his logic to a mature reflection on whether or not to marry; he decided finally to remain single. Kant’s travels did not exceed the city boundaries, his life had no remarkable adventures or political power or social connections, yet he was an immensely successful tutor, lecturer, and a charming host.

Immanuel Kant was a man of clear, critical, logical, vigorous, rigorous, and trenchant thought. In his Critique of Pure Reason he methodically divides chapters to explore ‘a priori’ metaphysical issues. ‘A priori’ is the pure form of sensuous general intuitions, that existed prior to our physical existence; archetypal knowledge from before we were born. Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason was followed by the Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and the Critique of Judgment (1790).

“Act always in such a way. that you should want your action to become a universal law.” – Immanuel Kant. This categorical imperative is one of the main recommendations of Kant’s writings. Although it centers around action, Kant also said that virtue was in the ‘Will’, and not the ‘Act’. Consciousness involves feeling, thinking, and acting. Feeling regards faith, thinking seeks epistemology, and acting involves ethics.

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One Response to “Immanuel Kant”

  1. Do you understand Kant’s Copernican Revolution? The central Idea behind it? Can you say it in your own words?

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