Immanuel Kant (22 April, 1724 – 12 February, 1804) was an 18th-century German philosopher from the Prussian city of Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia). He is regarded as one of the most influential thinkers of modern Europe and of the late Enlightenment.
Immanuel Kant was born in 1724 in Königsberg, as the fourth of eleven children (five of them reached adulthood). He was baptized as 'Emanuel' but later changed his name to 'Immanuel' after he learned Hebrew. He spent his entire life in and around his hometown, the capital of Prussia at that time, never traveling more than a hundred miles from Königsberg. His father Johann Georg Kant (1682-1746) was a German craftsman from Memel, at the time Prussia's most northeastern city (now Klaip?da, Lithuania). His mother Anna Regina Porter (1697-1737), born in Nuremberg, was the daughter of a Scottish saddle and harness maker. In his youth, Kant was a solid, albeit unspectacular, student. He was raised in a Pietist household that stressed intense religious devotion, personal humility, and a literal interpretation of the Bible. Consequently, Kant received a stern education - strict, punitive, and disciplinary - that favored Latin and religious instruction over mathematics and science.
Kant showed great application to study early in his life. He was first sent to Collegium Fredericianum and then enrolled in the University of Königsberg in 1740, at the age of 16. He studied the philosophy of Leibniz and Wolff under Martin Knutsen, a rationalist who was also familiar with the developments of British philosophy and science and who introduced Kant to the new mathematical physics of Newton. Knutsen warded Kant off the theory of preset harmony, regarded as "the pillow for the lazy mind". He also warded the young scholar off idealism, negatively regarded by the whole philosophy of the 18th century, and even after the creation of the theory of transcendental idealism, Kant refuted idealism in the second part of his major work, "Critique of Pure Reason". His father's stroke and subsequent death in 1746 interrupted his studies. Kant became a private tutor in the smaller towns surrounding Königsberg, but continued his scholarly research. 1749 saw the publication of his first philosophical work, Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living Forces. Kant published several more works on scientific topics, becoming a university lecturer in 1755. The subject he lectured was "Metaphysics", and he had been lecturing it for almost 40 years, even after his break-off with metaphysics. The textbook for the course was written by A.G. Baumgarten, the author of the term "aesthetics" in its modern meaning.
In the Allgemeine Naturgeschichte (1755), Kant laid out the Nebular Hypothesis, in which he deduced that the Solar System formed from a large cloud of gas, a nebula. He thus attempted to explain the order of the solar system, seen previously by Newton as being imposed from the beginning by God. Kant also correctly deduced that the Milky Way was a large disk of stars, which he theorized also formed from a (much larger) spinning cloud of gas. He further suggested the possibility that other nebulae might also be similarly large and distant disks of stars. These postulations opened new horizons for astronomy: for the first time extending astronomy beyond the solar system to galactic and extragalactic realms.
From this point on, Kant turned increasingly to philosophical issues, although he would continue to write on the sciences throughout his life. In the early 1760s, Kant produced a series of important works in philosophy. The False Subtlety of the Four Syllogistic Figures, a work in logic, was published in 1762. Two more works appeared the following year: Attempt to Introduce the Concept of Negative Magnitudes into Philosophy and The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God. In 1764, Kant wrote Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime and then was second to Moses Mendelssohn in a Berlin Academy prize competition with his Inquiry Concerning the Distinctness of the Principles of Natural Theology and Morality (often referred to as "the Prize Essay"). In 1770, at the age of 45, Kant was finally appointed Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at the University of Königsberg. Kant wrote his Inaugural Dissertation in defense of this appointment. This work saw the emergence of several central themes of his mature work, including the distinction between the faculties of intellectual thought and sensible receptivity. Not to observe this distinction would mean to commit the error of subreption, and, as he says in the last chapter of the dissertation, only in avoidance of this error metaphysics will flourish.
At the age of 46, Kant was an established scholar and an increasingly influential philosopher. Much was expected of him. In response to a letter from his student, Markus Herz, Kant came to recognize that in the Inaugural Dissertation, he had failed to account for the relation and connection between our sensible and intellectual faculties. He also credited David Hume with awakening him from "dogmatic slumber" (circa 1770). Kant would not publish another work in philosophy for the next eleven years.
Kant spent his silent decade working on a solution to the problems posed. Though fond of company and conversation with others, Kant isolated himself, despite friends' attempts to bring him out of his isolation. In 1778, in response to one of these offers by a former pupil, Kant wrote "Any change makes me apprehensive, even if it offers the greatest promise of improving my condition, and I am persuaded by this natural instinct of mine that I must take heed if I wish that the threads which the Fates spin so thin and weak in my case to be spun to any length. My great thanks, to my well-wishers and friends, who think so kindly of me as to undertake my welfare, but at the same time a most humble request to protect me in my current condition from any disturbance."Introducing: Kant by Christopher Kui-Want and Andrzej Klimowski, 2005. Icon books, Cambridge. ISBN 1-84046-664-2
When Kant emerged from his silence in 1781, the result was the Critique of Pure Reason. Although now uniformly recognized as one of the greatest works in the history of philosophy, this Critique was largely ignored upon its initial publication. The book was long, over 800 pages in the original German edition, and written in a dry, scholastic style. It received few reviews, and these granted no significance to the work. Its density made it, as Johann Gottfried Herder put it in a letter to Johann Georg Hamann, a "tough nut to crack," obscured by "...all this heavy gossamer." This is in stark contrast, however, to the praise Kant received for earlier works such as the aforementioned "Prize Essay" and other shorter works that precede the first Critique. These well-received and readable tracts include one on the earthquake in Lisbon which was so popular that it was sold by the page. Prior to the critical turn, his books sold well, and by the time he published Observations On the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime in 1764 he had become a popular author of some note. Kant was disappointed with the first Critique's reception. Recognizing the need to clarify the original treatise, Kant wrote the Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics in 1783 as a summary of its main views. He also encouraged his friend, Johann Schultz, to publish a brief commentary on the Critique of Pure Reason.
Kant's reputation gradually rose through the 1780s, sparked by a series of important works: the 1784 essay, ""; 1785's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (his first work on moral philosophy); and, from 1786, Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. But Kant's fame ultimately arrived from an unexpected source. In 1786, Karl Reinhold began to publish a series of public letters on the Kantian philosophy. In these letters, Reinhold framed Kant's philosophy as a response to the central intellectual controversy of the era: the Pantheism Dispute. Friedrich Jacobi had accused the recently deceased G. E. Lessing (a distinguished dramatist and philosophical essayist) of Spinozism. Such a charge, tantamount to atheism, was vigorously denied by Lessing's friend Moses Mendelssohn, and a bitter public dispute arose between them. The controversy gradually escalated into a general debate over the values of the Enlightenment and of reason itself. Reinhold maintained in his letters that Kant's Critique of Pure Reason could settle this dispute by defending the authority and bounds of reason. Reinhold's letters were widely read and made Kant the most famous philosopher of his era.
Kant published a second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft) in 1787, heavily revising the first parts of the book. Most of his subsequent work focused on other areas of philosophy. He continued to develop his moral philosophy, notably in 1788's Critique of Practical Reason (known as the second Critique) and 1797's Metaphysics of Morals. The 1790 Critique of Judgment (the third Critique) applied the Kantian system to aesthetics and teleology. He also wrote a number of semi-popular essays on history, religion, politics and other topics. These works were well received by Kant's contemporaries and confirmed his preeminent status in eighteenth century philosophy. There were several journals devoted solely to defending and criticizing the Kantian philosophy. But despite his success, philosophical trends were moving in another direction. Many of Kant's most important disciples (including Reinhold, Beck and Fichte) transformed the Kantian position into increasingly radical forms of idealism. This marked the emergence of German Idealism. Kant opposed these developments and publicly denounced Fichte in an open letter in 1799. It was one of his final philosophical acts. Kant's health, long poor, took a turn for the worse and he died at Konigsberg on 12 February 1804 uttering "Genug" [enough] before expiring. His unfinished final work, the fragmentary Opus Postumum, was (as its title suggests) published posthumously.
A variety of popular beliefs have arisen concerning Kant's life. It is often held, for instance, that Kant was a late bloomer, that he only became an important philosopher in his mid-50s after rejecting his earlier views. While it is true that Kant wrote his greatest works relatively late in life, there is a tendency to underestimate the value of his earlier works. Recent Kant scholarship has devoted more attention to these "pre-critical" writings and has recognized a degree of continuity with his mature work.
Many of the common myths concerning Kant's personal mannerisms are enumerated, explained, and refuted in Goldwaite's translator's introduction to Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime. It is often held that Kant lived a very strict and predictable life, leading to the oft-repeated story that neighbors would set their clocks by his daily walks. He never married. Only later in his life, under the influence of his friend, the English merchant Joseph Green, did Kant adopt a more regulated lifestyle.
Kant defined the Enlightenment in the essay "" as an age shaped by the motto, "Dare to know" (Latin: ''''). This involved thinking autonomously, free of the dictates of external authority. Kant's work reconciled many of the differences between the Rationalist and Empiricist traditions of the 18th century. He had a decisive impact on the Romantic and German Idealist philosophies of the 19th century. His work has also been a starting point for many 20th century philosophers.
Kant asserted that, because of the limitations of reason, no one could really know if there is a God and an afterlife, and conversely that no one could really know that there was not a God and an afterlife. For the sake of society and morality, Kant asserted, people are reasonably justified in believing in them, even though they could never know for sure whether they are real or not. Kant explained: The sense of an enlightened approach and the critical method required that "If one cannot prove that a thing is, he may try to prove that it is not. And if he succeeds in doing neither (as often occurs), he may still ask whether it is in his interest to accept one or the other of the alternatives hypothetically, from the theoretical or the practical point of view. ...Hence the question no longer is as to whether perpetual peace is a real thing or not a real thing, or as to whether we may not be deceiving ourselves when we adopt the former alternative, but we must act on the supposition of its being real." The presupposition of God, soul, and freedom was then a practical concern, for "Morality, by itself, constitutes a system, but happiness does not, unless it is distributed in exact proportion to morality. This, however, is possible in an intelligible world only under a wise author and ruler. Reason compels us to admit such a ruler, together with life in such a world, which we must consider as future life, or else all moral laws are to be considered as idle dreams... ."
The two interconnected foundations of what Kant called his "critical philosophy" of the "Copernican revolution" which he claimed to have wrought in philosophy were his epistemology of Transcendental Idealism and his moral philosophy of the autonomy of practical reason. These placed the active, rational human subject at the center of the cognitive and moral worlds. With regard to knowledge, Kant argued that the rational order of the world as known by science could never be accounted for merely by the fortuitous accumulation of sense perceptions. It was instead the product of the rule-based activity of "synthesis." This consisted of conceptual unification and integration carried out by the mind through concepts or the "categories of the understanding" operating on the perceptual manifold within space and time, which are not concepts, but forms of sensibility that are a priori necessary conditions for any possible experience. Thus the objective order of nature and the causal necessity that operates within it are dependent upon the mind. There is wide disagreement among Kant scholars on the correct interpretation of this train of thought. The 'two-world' interpretation regards Kant's position as a statement of epistemological limitation, that we are never able to transcend the bounds of our own mind, meaning that we cannot access the "thing-in-itself". Kant however also speaks of the thing in itself or transcendental object as a product of the (human) understanding as it attempts to conceive of objects in abstraction from the conditions of sensibility. Following this thought, some interpreters have argued that the thing in itself does not represent a separate ontological domain but simply a way of considering objects by means of the understanding alone — this is known as the two-aspect view. With regard to morality, Kant argued that the source of the good lies not in anything outside the human subject, either in nature or given by God, but rather only the good will itself. A good will is one that acts from duty in accordance with the universal moral law that the autonomous human being freely gives itself. This law obliges one to treat humanity - understood as rational agency, and represented through oneself as well as others - as an end in itself rather than (merely) as means.
These ideas have largely framed or influenced all subsequent philosophical discussion and analysis. The specifics of Kant's account generated immediate and lasting controversy. Nevertheless, his theses -- that the mind itself necessarily makes a constitutive contribution to its knowledge, that this contribution is transcendental rather than psychological, that philosophy involves self-critical activity, that morality is rooted in human freedom, and that to act autonomously is to act according to rational moral principles -- have all had a lasting effect on subsequent philosophy.
Kant defines his theory of perception in his influential 1781 work The Critique of Pure Reason, which has often been cited as the most significant volume of metaphysics and epistemology in modern philosophy. Kant maintains that our understanding of the external world has its foundations not merely in experience, but in both experience and a priori concepts, thus offering a non-empiricist critique of rationalist philosophy, which is what he and others referred to as his "Copernican revolution."
Before discussing his theory, it is necessary to explain Kant's distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions.
Analytic propositions are true by nature of the meaning of the words involved in the sentence - we require no further knowledge than a grasp of the language to understand this proposition. On the other hand, synthetic statements are those that tell us something about the world. Synthetic statements are true or false because their meaning transcends the content of the language used. In this instance, mass is not a necessary predicate to the body; until we are told the heaviness of the body we do not know that it has mass. In this case, experience of the body is required before its heaviness becomes clear. Before Kant's first Critique, empiricists (cf. Hume) and rationalists (cf. Leibniz) assumed that all synthetic statements required experience in order to be known.
Kant, however, contests this: he claims that elementary mathematics, like arithmetic, is synthetic a priori. Here Kant includes a priori and a posteriori concepts into his argument, and posits that it is in fact possible to have knowledge of the world that is not derived from empirical experience. Thus does Kant develop his arguments for transcendental idealism. He justifies this by arguing that experience depends on certain necessary conditions - which he calls a priori forms - and that these conditions hold true for the world. In so doing, his main claims in the " Transcendental Aesthetic" are that mathematic judgments are synthetic a priori and in addition, Space and Time are transcendentally ideal and at the same time are necessary conditions for experience.
This is quite naturally confusing, yet Kant's idea is that since his first claim - about mathematic judgments - is true, then it will follow that his claims about space and time are true as well. The next paragraph deals with the notion of mathematic judgments being synthetic a priori, skip to the paragraph afterward to read more about perception and Kant.
Once we have grasped the concepts of addition, subtraction or the functions of basic arithmetic, we do not need any empirical experience to know that 100 + 100 = 200, and in this way it would appear that arithmetic is in fact analytic. However, that it is analytic can be disproved thus: if the numbers five and seven in the calculation 5 + 7 = 12 are examined, there is nothing to be found in them by which the number 12 can be inferred. Such it is that "5 + 7" and "the cube root of 1,728" or "12" are not analytic because their reference is the same but their sense is not - meaning that the mathematic judgment "5 + 7 = 12" tells us something new about the world. It is self-evident, and undeniably a priori, but at the same time it is synthetic. And so Kant proves a proposition can be synthetic and known a priori.
Kant asserts that perception is based both upon experience of external objects and a priori knowledge. The external world, he writes, provides those things which we sense. It is our mind, though, that processes this information about the world and gives it order, allowing us to comprehend it. Our mind supplies the conditions of space and time to experienced objects. According to the "transcendental unity of apperception", the concepts of the mind (Understanding) and the intuitions which garner information from phenomena (Sensibility) are synthesized by comprehension. Without the concepts, intuitions are nondescript; without the intuitions, concepts are meaningless - thus the famous quotation, "Intuitions without concepts are blind; concepts without intuitions are empty."
Immanuel Kant deemed it obvious that we have some objective knowledge of the world, such as, say, Newtonian physics. But this knowledge relies on synthetic a priori laws of nature, like causality and substance. The problem, then, is how this is possible. Kant's solution was to reason that the subject must supply laws that make experience of objects possible, and that these laws are the synthetic a priori laws of nature which we can know all objects are subject to prior to experiencing them. So to deduce all these laws, Kant examined experience in general, dissecting in it what is supplied by the mind from what is supplied by the given intuitions. This which has just been explicated is commonly called a transcendental reduction.
To begin with, Kant's distinction between the a posteriori being contingent and particular knowledge, and the a priori being universal and necessary knowledge, must be kept in mind. For if we merely connect two intuitions together in a perceiving subject, the knowledge will always be subjective because it is derived a posteriori, when what is desired is for the knowledge to be objective, that is, for the two intuitions to refer to the object and hold good of it necessarily universally for anyone at anytime, not just the perceiving subject in its current condition. Now what is equivalent to objective knowledge but the a priori, that is to say, universal and necessary knowledge? Nothing, and hence before knowledge can be objective, it must be incorporated under an a priori category of the understanding.
For example, say a subject says "the sun shines on the stone, the stone grows warm", which is all he perceives in perception. His judgment is contingent and holds no necessity. But if he says "the sunshine causes the stone to warm", he subsumes the perception under the category of causality, which is not found in the perception, and necessarily synthesizes the concept sunshine with the concept heat, producing a necessarily universally true judgment.
To explain the categories in more detail, they are the preconditions of the construction of objects in the mind. Indeed, to even think of the sun and stone presupposes the category of subsistence, that is, substance. For the categories synthesize the random data of the sensory manifold into intelligible objects. This means that the categories are also the most abstract things one can say of any object whatsoever, and hence one can have an a priori cognition of the totality of all objects of experience if one can list all of them. To do this, Kant formulates another transcendental reduction.
Judgments are for Kant the preconditions of any thought. Man thinks via judgments, so all possible judgments must be listed and the perceptions connected within them put aside, so the moments the understanding is involved in constructing judgments can be examined. For the categories are equivalent to these moments, in that they are concepts of intuitions in general, so far as they are determined by these moments universally and necessarily. Thus by listing all the moments, one can deduce from them all of the categories.
One may now ask: how many possible judgments are there? Kant believed that all the possible propositions within Aristotle's syllogistic logic are equivalent to all possible judgments, and that all the logical operators within the propositions are equivalent to the moments of the understanding within judgments. Thus he listed Aristotle's system in four groups of three: quantity (universal, particular, singular), quality (affirmative, negative, infinite), relation (categorical, hypothetical, disjunctive) and modality (problematic, assertoric, apodeictic). The parallelism with Kant's categories is obvious: quantity (unity, plurality, totality), quality (reality, negation, limitation), relation (substance, cause, community) and modality (possibility, existence, necessity).
The fundamental building blocks of experience, i.e. objective knowledge, are now in place. First there is the sensibility, which supplies the mind with intuitions, and then there is the understanding, which produces judgments of these intuitions and can subsume them under categories. These categories lift the intuitions up out of the subject's current state of consciousness and place them within consciousness in general, producing universally necessary knowledge. For the categories are innate in any rational being, so any intuition thought within a category in one mind will necessarily be subsumed and understood identically in any mind.
Kant ran into a problem with his theory that the mind plays a part in producing objective knowledge. Intuitions and categories are entirely disparate, so how can they interact? Kant's solution is the schema: a priori principles by which the transcendental imagination connects concepts with intuitions through time. All the principles are temporally bound, for if a concept is purely a priori, as the categories are, then they must apply for all times. Hence there are principles such as substance is that which endures through time, and the cause must always be prior to the effect.
Kant developed his moral philosophy in three works: Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals (1785), Critique of Practical Reason (1788), and Metaphysics of Morals (1797) .
In the Groundwork, Kant's method involves trying to convert our everyday, obvious, rational knowledge of morality into philosophical knowledge. The latter two works followed a method of using "practical reason", which is based only upon things about which reason can tell us, and not deriving any principles from experience, to reach conclusions which are able to be applied to the world of experience (in the second part of The Metaphysic of Morals).
Kant is known for his theory that there is a single moral obligation, which he called the "Categorical Imperative", and is derived from the concept of duty. Kant defines the demands of the moral law as "categorical imperatives." Categorical imperatives are principles that are intrinsically valid; they are good in and of themselves; they must be obeyed in all situations and circumstances if our behavior is to observe the moral law. It is from the Categorical Imperative that all other moral obligations are generated, and by which all moral obligations can be tested. Kant also stated that the moral means and ends can be applied to the categorical imperative, that rational beings can pursue certain "ends" using the appropriate "means." Ends that are based on physical needs or wants will always give for merely hypothetical imperatives. The categorical imperative, however, may be based only on something that is an "end in itself". That is, an end that is a means only to itself and not to some other need, desire, or purpose. He believed that the moral law is a principle of reason itself, and is not based on contingent facts about the world, such as what would make us happy, but to act upon the moral law which has no other motive than "worthiness of being happy". Accordingly, he believed that moral obligation applies to all and only rational agents.
A categorical imperative is an unconditional obligation; that is, it has the force of an obligation regardless of our will or desires (Contrast this with hypothetical imperative) In Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals (1785) Kant enumerated three formulations of the categorical imperative which he believed to be roughly equivalent:
Kant believed that if an action is not done with the motive of duty, then it is without moral value. He thought that every action should have pure intention behind it; otherwise it was meaningless. He didn't necessarily believe that the final result was the most important aspect of an action, but that how the person felt while carrying out the action was the time at which value was set to the result.
In Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, Kant also posited the "counter-utilitarian idea that there is a difference between preferences and values and that considerations of individual rights temper calculations of aggregate utility", a concept that is an axiom in economics:
"Everything has either a price or a dignity. Whatever has a price can be replaced by something else as its equivalent; on the other hand, whatever is above all price, and therefore admits of no equivalent, has a dignity. But that which constitutes the condition under which alone something can be an end in itself does not have mere relative worth, i.e., price, but an intrinsic worth, i.e., a dignity." (p. 53, italics in original).
The first formulation (Formula of Universal Law) of the moral imperative "requires that the maxims be chosen as though they should hold as universal laws of nature" (436). This formulation in principle has as its supreme law "Always act according to that maxim whose universality as a law you can at the same time will", and is the "only condition under which a will can never come into conflict with itself..."
One interpretation of the first formulation is called the "universalizability test." An agent's maxim, according to Kant, is his "subjective principle of human actions" — that is, what the agent believes is his reason to act. The universalizability test has five steps:
(For a modern parallel, see John Rawls' hypothetical situation, the original position.)
The second formulation (Formula of the End in Itself) says that "the rational being, as by its nature an end and thus as an end in itself, must serve in every maxim as the condition restricting all merely relative and arbitrary ends." The principle is "Act with reference to every rational being (whether yourself or another) so that it is an end in itself in your maxim...", meaning the rational being is "the basis of all maxims of action" and "must be treated never as a mere means but as the supreme limiting condition in the use of all means, i.e., as an end at the same time."
The third formulation (Formula of Autonomy) is a synthesis of the first two and is the basis for the "complete determination of all maxims". It says "that all maxims which stem from autonomous legislation ought to harmonize with a possible realm of ends as with a realm of nature." In principle, "So act as if your maxims should serve at the same time as the universal law (of all rational beings)", meaning that we should so act that we may think of ourselves as "a member in the universal realm of ends", legislating universal laws through our maxims, in a "possible realm of ends." (See also Kingdom of Ends)
Kant stated the practical necessity for a belief in God in his Critique of Pure Reason. As an idea of pure reason, "we do not have the slightest ground to assume in an absolute manner... the object of this idea...", but adds that the idea of God cannot be separated from the relation of happiness with morality as the "ideal of the supreme good." The foundation of this connection is an intelligible moral world, and "is necessary from the practical point of view". Later, in the Logic, § 3 (1800) he argued that the idea of God can only be proved through the moral law and only with practical intent, that is, "the intent so as to act as if there be a God" (trans. Hartmann and Schwartz). See Argument from morality for more details.
In the Critique of Pure Reason Kant distinguishes between the transcendental idea of freedom, which as a psychological concept is "mainly empirical" and refers to "the question whether we must admit a power of spontaneously beginning a series of successive things or states" as a real ground of necessity in regard to causality, and the practical concept of freedom as the independence of our will from the "coercion" or "necessitation through sensuous impulses." Kant finds it a source of difficulty that the practical concept of freedom is founded on the transcendental idea of freedom, but for the sake of practical interests uses the practical meaning, taking "no account of... its transcendental meaning", which he feels was properly "disposed of" in the Third Antinomy, and as an element in the question of the freedom of the will is for philosophy "a real stumbling-block" that has "embarrassed speculative reason".
Kant calls practical "everything that is possible through freedom", and the pure practical laws that are never given through sensuous conditions but are held analogously with the universal law of causality are moral laws. Reason can give us only the "pragmatic laws of free action through the senses", but pure practical laws given by reason a priori dictate "what ought to be done".
Kant discusses the subjective nature of aesthetic qualities and experiences in Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, (1764). Kant's contribution to aesthetic theory is developed in the Critique of Judgment (1790) where he investigates the possibility and logical status of "judgments of taste." In the "Critique of Aesthetic Judgment," the first major division of the Critique of Judgment, Kant used the term "aesthetic" in a manner that is, according to Kant scholar W.H. Walsh, its modern sense. Prior to this, in the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant had, in order to note the essential differences between judgments of taste, moral judgments, and scientific judgments, abandoned the use of the term "aesthetic" as "designating the critique of taste," noting that judgments of taste could never be "directed" by "laws a priori". After A. G. Baumgarten, who wrote Aesthetica (1750-58), Kant was one of the first philosophers to develop and integrate aesthetic theory into a unified and comprehensive philosophical system, utilizing ideas that played an integral role throughout his philosophy.
In the chapter "Analytic of the Beautiful" of the Critique of Judgment, Kant states that beauty is not a property of an artwork or natural phenomenon, but is instead a consciousness of the pleasure which attends the 'free-play' of the imagination and the understanding. Even though it appears that we are using reason to decide that which is beautiful, the judgment is not a cognitive judgment, "and is consequently not logical, but aesthetical" (§ 1). A pure judgement of taste is in fact subjective insofar as it refers to the emotional response of the subject and is based upon nothing but esteem for an object itself: it is a disinterested pleasure, and we feel that pure judgements of taste, i.e. judgements of beauty, lay claim to universal validity (§§20-22). It is important to note that this universal validity is not derived from a determinate concept of beauty but from common sense. Kant also believed that a judgement of taste shares characteristics engaged in a moral judgement: both are disinterested, and we hold them to be universal. In the chapter "Analytic of the Sublime" Kant identifies the sublime as an aesthetic quality which, like beauty, is subjective, but unlike beauty refers to an indeterminate relationship between the faculties of the imagination and of reason, and shares the character of moral judgments in the use of reason. The feeling of the sublime, itself comprised of two distinct modes (the mathematical sublime and the dynamical sublime), describe two subjective moments both of which concern the relationship of the faculty of the imagination to reason. The mathematical sublime is situated in the failure of the imagination to comprehend natural objects which appear boundless and formless, or which appear "absolutely great" (§ 23-25). This imaginative failure is then recuperated through the pleasure taken in reason's assertion of the concept of infinity. In this move the faculty of reason proves itself superior to our fallible sensible self (§§ 25-26). In the dynamical sublime there is the sense of annihilation of the sensible self as the imagination tries to comprehend a vast might. This power of nature threatens us but through the resistance of reason to such sensible annihilation, the subject feels a pleasure and a sense of the human moral vocation. This appreciation of moral feeling through exposure to the sublime helps to develop moral character.
Kant had developed the distinction between an object of art as a material value subject to the conventions of society and the transcendental condition of the judgment of taste as a "refined" value in the propositions of his Idea of A Universal History (1784). In the Fourth and Fifth Theses of that work he identified all art as the "fruits of unsociableness" due to men's "antagonism in society", and in the Seventh Thesis asserted that while such material property is indicative of a civilized state, only the ideal of morality and the universalization of refined value through the improvement of the mind of man "belongs to culture".
In Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795) Kant listed several conditions that he thought necessary for ending wars and creating a lasting peace. They included a world of constitutional republics. This was the first version of the democratic peace theory.
He opposed "democracy," which at his time meant direct democracy, believing that majority rule posed a threat to individual liberty. He stated, "...democracy is, properly speaking, necessarily a despotism, because it establishes an executive power in which 'all' decide for or even against one who does not agree; that is, 'all,' who are not quite all, decide, and this is a contradiction of the general will with itself and with freedom."
Kant lectured on anthropology for over 25 years. His Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View was published in 1798. (This was the subject of Michel Foucault's doctoral dissertation.) Kant's Lectures on Anthropology was published for the first time in 1997 in German. They have not been translated into English.
The vastness of Kant's influence on Western thought is immeasurable. During his own life, there was a considerable amount of attention paid to his thought, much of it critical, though he did have a positive influence on Reinhold, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, and Novalis during the 1780s and 1790s. The philosophical movement known as German Idealism developed from Kant's theoretical and practical writings. The German Idealists Fichte and Schelling, for example, attempted to bring traditionally "metaphysically" laden notions like "the Absolute," "God," or "Being" with the confines of Kant's critical philosophy. In so doing, the German Idealists attempted to reverse Kant's establishment of the unknowableness of unexperiencable ideas.
Hegel was one of the first major critics of Kant's philosophy. Hegel thought Kant's moral philosophy was too formal, abstract and ahistorical. In response to Kant's abstract and formal account of morality, Hegel developed an ethics that considered the "ethical life" of the community. But Hegel's notion of "ethical life" is meant to subsume, rather than replace, Kantian "morality." And Hegel's philosophical work as a whole can be understood as attempting to defend Kant's conception of freedom as going beyond finite "inclinations," by means of reason. Thus, in contrast to later critics like Friedrich Nietzsche or Bertrand Russell, Hegel shares some of Kant's most basic concerns.
Many British Roman Catholic writers, notably G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, seized on Kant and promoted his work, with a view to restoring the philosophical legitimacy of a belief in God. Reaction against this, and an attack on Kant's use of language, is found in Ronald Englefield's article, "Kant as Defender of the Faith in Nineteenth-century England, reprinted in Critique of Pure Verbiage, Essays on Abuses of Language in Literary, Religious, and Philosophical Writings.''
Arthur Schopenhauer was strongly influenced by Kant's transcendental idealism. He, like G. E. Schulze, Jacobi and Fichte before him, was critical of Kant's theory of the thing in itself. Things in themselves, they argued, are neither the cause of our representations nor are they something completely beyond our access. For Schopenhauer things in themselves do not exist independently of the non-rational will. The world, as Schopenhauer would have it, is the striving and largely unconscious will.
With the success and wide influence of Hegel's writings, Kant's influence began to wane, though there was in Germany a brief movement that hailed a return to Kant in the 1860s, beginning with the publication of Kant und die Epigonen in 1865 by Otto Liebmann, whose motto was "Back to Kant". During the turn of the 20th century there was an important revival of Kant's theoretical philosophy, known as Marburg Neo-Kantianism, represented in the work of Hermann Cohen, Paul Natorp, Ernst Cassirer, and anti-Neo-Kantian Nicolai Hartmann.
Jurgen Habermas and John Rawls are two significant political and moral philosophers whose work is strongly influenced by Kant's moral philosophy. They both, regardless of recent relativist trends in philosophy, have argued that universality is essential to any viable moral philosophy.
With his Perpetual Peace, Kant is considered to have foreshadowed many of the ideas that have come to form the democratic peace theory, one of the main controversies in political science.
Kant's notion of "Critique" or criticism has been quite influential. The Early German Romantics, especially Friedrich Schlegel in his "Athenaeum Fragments", used Kant's self-reflexive conception of criticism in their Romantic theory of poetry. Also in Aesthetics, Clement Greenberg, in his classic essay "Modernist Painting", uses Kantian criticism, what Greenberg refers to as "immanent criticism", to justify the aims of Abstract painting, a movement Greenberg saw as aware of the key limitiaton-flatness-that makes up the medium of painting.
Kant believed that mathematical truths were forms of synthetic a priori knowledge, which means they are necessary and universal, yet known through intuition. Kant's often brief remarks about mathematics influenced the mathematical school known as intuitionism, a movement in philosophy of mathematics opposed to Hilbert's formalism, and the logicism of Frege and Bertrand Russell.
Post-Kantian philosophy has yet to return to the style of thinking and arguing that characterized much of philosophy and metaphysics before Kant, although many British and American philosophers have preferred to trace their intellectual origins to Hume, thus bypassing Kant. The British philosopher P. F. Strawson is a notable exception, as is the American philosopher Wilfrid Sellars.
Due in part to the influence of Strawson and Sellars, among others, there has been a renewed interest in Kant's view of the mind. Central to many debates in philosophy of psychology and cognitive science is Kant's conception of the unity of consciousness.
From 1873 to 1881, money was raised to build a monument chapel. His tomb and its pillared enclosure outside the Königsberg Cathedral in today's Kaliningrad, on the Pregolya/Pregel River, are some of the few artifacts of German times preserved by the Soviets after they conquered and annexed the city in 1945. Kant's original tomb was demolished by Russian bombs early in that year. A replica of a statue of Kant that stood in front of the university was donated by a German entity in 1991 and placed on the original pediment. Newlyweds bring flowers to the chapel, as they formerly did for Lenin's monument. Near his tomb is the following inscription in German and Russian, taken from the conclusion of his Critique of Practical Reason: "Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me."
Any suggestion of further reading on Kant has to take cognizance of the fact that his work has dominated philosophy like no other figure after him. Nevertheless, several guideposts can be made out. In Germany, the most important contemporary interpreter of Kant and the movement of German Idealism which he began is Dieter Henrich, who has some work available in English. P.F. Strawson's "The Bounds of Sense" (1969) played a significant role in determining the contemporary reception of Kant in England and America. More recent interpreters of note in the English-speaking world include Lewis White Beck, Jonathan Bennett, Henry Allison, Paul Guyer, Christine Korsgaard, Robert B. Pippin, Rudolf Makkreel, and Béatrice Longuenesse.
''a survey of Kant's intellectual background''
this is now the standard biography of Kant in English
''an excellent collection of papers that covers most areas of Kant's thought''
''includes an important essay by Dieter Henrich'
''essays on Kant's Critique of Judgment''
A collection of essays about Kantian religion and its influence on Kierkegaardian and contemporary philosophy of religion.
''very influential defense of Kant's idealism, recently revised''
one of the first detailed studies of the Dialectic in English
''a modern defense of the view that Kant's theoretical philosophy is a "patchwork" of ill-fitting arguments''
a somewhat dated, but influential commentary on the first Critique, recently reprinted
argues that the notion of judgment provides the key to understanding the overall argument of the first Critique
''an important study of Kant's Analogies, including his defense of the principle of causality''
''an extensive study of Kant's theoretical philosophy''
''an influential examination of the formal character of Kant's work''
the work that revitalized the interest of contemporary analytic philosophers in Kant
a detailed and influential commentary on the first part of the Critique of Pure Reason
not a commentary, but a defense of a broadly Kantian approach to ethics
offers a Kantian solution to a dilemma in contemporary epistemology regarding the relation between mind and world
''a comprehensive, in depth study of Kant's ethics, with emphasis on formula of humanity as most accurate formulation of the categorical imperative (according to similar arguments as Korsgaard)''
|PLACE OF BIRTH=Königsberg, Kingdom of Prussia |DATE OF DEATH= |PLACE OF DEATH=Königsberg, Kingdom of Prussia }}
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