I have chosen to write about Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Kant was born in what is now Kaliningrad, Russia to parents who were of German and Nuremberg descent, following the Pietism (strict Lutheran) religion which could have had some influence on his metaphysic views of religion and influenced his education. He started his education at St. George Hospital School and by age 16 he was attending the University of Konigsberg in 1740. It was at this university that Kant had his “first interruption” of his “dogmatic slumber” thanks to instructor Martin Knutzen and his private library (Immanuel Kant, n.d.).
Kant was self-disciplined, a lifelong bachelor, small in stature (less than 5 feet) and in his youth was social, enjoyed conversing with others, groomed impeccably and performed lectures like no other. Throughout his life, he never traveled over 100 miles from where he was born, was consistent with his activities but during his life he was shunned and other times he was revered. As he aged, he hid from society, suffered memory loss that affected his work and blind (Immanuel Kant, n.d.). He crossed the metaphysical plane to find his answers on February 12, 1804 at the age of 80.
The era during Kant’s life was a confusing time with many different thoughts of philosophy that was being developed. The Age of Reason (included such philosophers as Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz) (Age of Reason, n.d.) was evolving into the Age of Enlightenment (included such philosophers as Voltaire, David Hume and Kant) (Age of Enlightenment, n.d.). The Age of Reason initiated the interest into philosophy in an attempt to advance from the old approaches to philosophy and religion to new intellectual approaches that applied three primary values in society. These were freedom (from ignorance, superstition and power of state), democracy and reason (Immanuel Kant, n.d.).
During this era church attendance fell, governments consolidated and the common people rights’ increased. This was a time of rethinking, reevaluating our existence as a society and how our existence was affected by other forces society knew little about. This influenced Kant tremendously and he had the knowledge and time to research, develop, and put to paper his thoughts (Immanuel Kant, n.d.).
I selected Kant because of his independent stand to learn about the two other common movements at the time — British Empiricism movement (led by John Locks, George Berkeley and David Hume that believed origin of all knowledge had to be based on sensory) (British Empiricism, n.d.) and the Rationalism movement (lead by Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza that intellectual and deductive reason, not sensory or religion, are the source of knowledge) (Rationalism, n.d.). Kant developed Kantianism (knowledge is empirical and transcendental meaning that our own self implied limitations on an objects’ “reality” from our perceptions but does not limit the transcendent reality for the object) (Immanuel Kant, n.d.).
The metaphysical challenge for Kant was to provide an alternate choice between British Empiricism and Rationalism and developed Kantianism (Kantianism, n.d.). To that end, he developed the “critical method” that is a helpful tool to knowledge; however, that tool must be adequately controlled and resist the urge for unreflective acceptance of things which are without evidence. This method allows people to discover which questions that can be reasoned through basic conceptual apparatus and which cannot. These critical method involves four categories of thoughts. They are quantity (unity, plurality, and totality), quality (reality, negation, and limitation), relation (substance, cause, and community) and modality (possibility, existence, and necessity) (Immanuel Kant, n.d.).
Another contribution Kant made to his alternative philosophic view was his writings that detailed his point of view and he explained those views. I have provided a table of his published works that include the year, title and notes regarding those writings. This is how Kant earned a living after his fathers’ death while continuing his studies and lecturing.
YEAR TITLE NOTES
1749 Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living Forces Kant’s first real work
1755 General Natural History and Theory of the Heavens Origin of the solar system, gravitational interaction with atoms preceding Pierre-Simon Laplace’s hypothesis by four decades and deduced the Milky Way-large disk of stars, formed from spinning clouds of gas
1755 On Fire Qualified him for doctoral degree
1763 The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God Moral behavior would only be rational in our manifestly unfair world if there is a next life in which justice is administered
1781 Critique of Pure Reason First real source of Kant’s lasting influence. Difficult read, 800 pages
1783 Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics
1785 Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals States that people do have an observable empirical fact but also free will
1788 Critique of Practical Reason Second real source of Kant’s lasting influence “second critique”; people do have an observable empirical fact and free will
1797 Metaphysics of Morals States that people do have an observable empirical fact but also free will
1790 Critique of Judgment Third real source of Kant’s lasting influence. Explained judgments of taste (subjective vs. universal; beautiful vs. sublime)
1795 Perpetual Peace Conceptual republics were one of several necessary conditions for a real democracy in not only humane but also in keeping with the basic human desire to pursue collective ends
Kant provided positions on Epistemology (nature, scope of knowledge and justified belief analyzing nature of knowledge) (Epistemology, n.d.), Philosophy of Mind (nature of the mind i.e. events, functions, properties, consciousness and relationship to the physical) (Philosophy of Mind, n.d.), Political Philosophy (study of fundamental questions about the state, government, politics, liberty, justice and enforcement of legal code by authority) (Philosophy, n.d.), Ethics (Moral Philosophy-explained how people should act, search definition of right conduct and good, satisfying life) (By Branch / Doctrine Ethics, n.d.), metaphysical Idealism (nature of existence, being and the world or simply the foundation of philosophy combined with the ideas of thoughts that make up our fundamental reality) (Idealism, n.d.).
Modern students’ of philosophy must understand the fundamentals or history of philosophy to first understand it and then to elaborate on it as we, as a society still struggle with religion and the proof or disproof of God’s existence, ethical and moral behavior, and political turmoil the world over.
My personal reaction and opinion to Kant’s beliefs is that three centuries later, we are still dealing with the same philosophical issues that Kant dealt with centuries ago—religion (Is there a God or justice after death? My opinion, I think this life or plane earns us a higher reward or penalty according to how we live here and now. What is real—our limitations imposed on reality or is there a Transcendental Idealism? I would need proof of a transcendental plane, right now if I can touch, hear, see, or smell an object, it is real or is that just my imposed limitations? What is ethical behavior and how does it fit with free will? My own moral compass directs my free will which questions is it free will or morally directed. And finally, will we ever know all of the answers or is that beyond our Philosophy of Mind? No. We are not capable of understanding all of the answers or this time, world or universe, it is beyond the current “us”.
Word Count: 1,328
Age of Enlightenment. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.philosophybasics.com/historical_enlightenment.html
Age of Reason. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2018 from https://www.philosophybasics.com/historical_reason.html
British Empiricism. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.philosophybasics.com/movements_british_empiricism.html
By Branch / Doctrine Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_ethics.html
Epistemology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_epistemology.html
Idealism. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_idealism.html
Immanuel Kant. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.philosophybasics.com/philosophers_kant.html
Kantianism. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.philosophybasics.com/movements_kantianism.html
Philosophy. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_political.html
Philosophy of Mind. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_philosophy_of_mind.html
Rationalism. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.philosophybasics.com/movements_rationalism.html