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Immanuel Kant was a philosopher from East Prussia.


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Immanuel Kant (22 April 1724 - 12 February 1804), was a German philosopher from Königsberg in East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). Immanuel Kant is regarded as one of the most influential thinkers of modern Europe and the last major philosopher of the Enlightenment.

Immanuel Kant Philosopher.
Immanuel Kant.
Immanuel Kant.
Name: Immanuel Kant
Birth: April 22, 1724 (Königsberg, Kingdom of Prussia) (Now Kaliningrad, Russia)
Death: February 12, 1804 (Königsberg, Kingdom of Prussia)
School/tradition: Kantianism, Enlightenment philosophy
Main interests: epistemology, metaphysics, ethics
Notable ideas: categorical imperative, transcendental idealism, Synthetic a priori, Noumenon, Sapere aude
Influences: Wolff, Tetens, Hutcheson, Empiricus, Montaigne, Hume, Descartes, Malebranche, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Rousseau, Newton
Influenced: Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Peirce, Husserl, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Sartre, Cassirer, Habermas, Rawls, and many more

Biography and Early life of Immanuel Kant.

Immanuel Kant - who was baptized as "Emanuel" but later changed his name to "Immanuel" after he learned Hebrew - was born in 1724 in Königsberg, Kingdom of Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia) as the fourth of nine children (five of them reached adulthood). He spent his entire life in and around his hometown, the capital of East Prussia at that time. His father Johann Georg Kant (1682-1746) was a German craftsman from Memel, Germany's northeasternmost city (now Klaipeda, Lithuania) and his mother Anna Regina Porter (1697-1737) was the daughter of a saddle/harness maker. In his youth, Kant was a solid, albeit unspectacular, student. He was raised in a Pietist household, a then-popular Lutheran reform movement that stressed intense religious devotion, personal humility, and a literal reading of the Bible. Consequently, Kant received a stern education - strict, punitive, and disciplinary - that favored Latin and religious instruction over mathematics and science.

Immanuel Kant: The young scholar.

Kant 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. 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 and became a university lecturer in 1755. 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.

The critical turn for Immanuel Kant.

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."

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 failed to recognize the Critique's revolutionary nature. 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, with the praise Kant received for earlier works such as the aformentioned "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 was known to be a popular author of some note. Kant was disappointed with the first Critique's reception. Recognizing the need of clarifying the original treatise, Kant wrote the Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics in 1783 as a summary of its main views and he encouraged his friend, Johann Schultz, to publish a brief commentary of the Immanuel Kant: Critique of Pure Reason..

Kant's reputation gradually rose through the 1780s, sparked by a series of important works: the 1784 essay, "Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?"; 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.

Immanuel Kant's later work.

Immanuel Kant.
Immanuel Kant, detail from a 1791 watercolour by Gottlieb Doeppler.

Kant published a second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason 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 was against 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, turned for the worse and he died in 1804. 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. Again, this is only partly true. While still young, Kant was a very gregarious socialite and he remained fond of dinner parties through most of his life. 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.

Immanuel Kant's philosophy.

Kant defined the Enlightenment, in the essay "Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?", as an age shaped by the motto, "Dare to know" (latin: Sapere aude). This involved thinking autonomously, free of the dictates of external authority. Kant's work served as a bridge 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 "All the preparations of reason, therefore, in what may be called pure philosophy, are in reality directed to those three problems only (God, Soul, Freedom). These themselves, however, have a still further object, namely, to know what ought to be done, if the will is free, if there is a God, and if there is a future world. As this concerns our actions with reference to the highest aims of life, we see that the ultimate intention of nature in her wise provision was really, in the constitution of our reason, directed to moral interests only. " Critique of Pure Reason, A801. Kant meant that, because of the way that we think, no one could really know if there is a God and an afterlife. But, then again, 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. 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 Science of Right, Conclusion). 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 … ." (Critique of Pure Reason, A811).

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, 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. 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 thesis that the mind itself necessarily makes a constitutive contribution to its knowledge, that this contribution is transcendental rather than psychological, that morality is rooted in human freedom and acting autonomously is to act according to rational moral principles, and that philosophy involves self-critical activity, have had a lasting effect on subsequent philosophy.

Moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant.

Immanuel Kant.
Immanuel Kant.

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).

The three works proceed by a method of taking the rational (obvious, and everyday) knowledge of the moral to the philosophical (knowledge of the moral) in the Groundwork. The latter 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. It is from the Categorical Imperative that all other moral obligations are generated, and by which all moral obligations can be tested (421). 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" (Critique of Pure Reason, A806/B834). Accordingly, he believed that moral obligation applies to all and only rational agents (408).

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) (420-421). In Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals (1785) Kant enumerated three formulations of the categorical imperative which he believed to be roughly equivalent (436):

The first formulation

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..." (437)

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 (400, 429). The universalizability test has five steps:

  1. Find the agent's maxim. The maxim is an action paired with its motivation. Example: "I will lie for personal benefit." Lying is the action, the motivation is to get what you desire. Paired together they form the maxim.
  2. Imagine a possible world in which everyone in a similar position to the real-world agent followed that maxim.
  3. Decide whether any contradictions or irrationalities arise in the possible world as a result of following the maxim.
  4. If a contradiction or irrationality arises, acting on that maxim is not allowed in the real world.
  5. If there is no contradiction, then acting on that maxim is permissible, and in some instances required.

(For a modern parallel, see John Rawls' hypothetical situation, the original position.)

The second formulation

The second formulation (Formula of Humanity) "says that the rational being, as by its nature as an end and thus as an end in itself, must serve in every maxim as the condition restricting all merely relative and arbitrary ends." (436) 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." (437-438)

The third formulation by Immanuel Kant.

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" (436). 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" (438-439).

Idea of God by Immanuel Kant.

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..." (A685/B713), 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" (A810/B838). Later, in the Logic, (1800) 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.

Idea of freedom by Immanuel Kant.

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 (A448/B476), 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 (A534/B562), 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" (A448/B476).

Kant calls practical "everything that is possible through freedom", and the pure practical laws that are never given through sensuous conditions but are associated with either the cause or effect of our volition are moral laws. Reason can give us only the "pragmatic laws of free action through the senses", but pure practical laws are given by reason a priori, and "if the will is free", and "if there is a God", dictate "what ought to be done" (A800-802/B828-830).

Aesthetic philosophy of Immanuel Kant.

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 use of the term "aesthetic" as "designating the critique of taste", noting that judgments of taste could never be "directed" by "laws a priori" (A22/B36). 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". 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. 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 boundlessness and formlessness, or which appear "absolutely great". 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. 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 senible 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".

Political philosophy of Immanuel Kant.

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."

Influence of Immanuel Kant.

Immanuel Kant statue.
Statue of Immanuel Kant in Kaliningrad, Russia.

Kant's philosophy had an enormous influence on Western thought. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Tomb of Immanuel Kant.

Immanuel Kant's tomb.
The inscription upon Kant's tomb near the Kant Russian State University.

From 1873 to 1881, money was raised to build a monument chapel. His tomb and its pillared enclosure outside the Königsberg Cathedral in Kaliningrad, on the Pregolya (Pregel) River, are some of the few artifacts of German times preserved by the Soviets after they conquered 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."

References and further reading on Immanuel Kant.

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. At the same time, many key features of his position have been widely rejected. More recent interpreters of note in the English-speaking world include Lewis White Beck, Jonathan Benett, Henry Allison, Paul Guyer, Robert B Pippin, Rudolf Makkreel, and Béatrice Longuenesse.

General introductions to Immanuel Kant's thought:

  • Broad C. D. Kant: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press, 1978. ISBN 0-521-21755-5, ISBN 0-521-29265-4.
  • Deleuze, Gilles. Kant's Critical Philosophy. Trans., Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. University of Minnesota Press, 1984. ISBN 0-8166-1341-9, ISBN 0-8166-1436-9.

Biography and historical context

  • Beck, Lewis White. Early German Philosophy: Kant and his Predecessors. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1969.
a survey of Kant's intellectual background:
  • Beiser, Frederick C. The Fate of Reason: German Philosophy from Kant to Fichte. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987.
  • Beiser, Frederick C. German Idealism: The Struggle against Subjectivism, 1781-1801. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.
  • Cassirer, Ernst. Kant's Life and Thought. Translation of Kants Leben und Lehre. Trans., Jame S. Haden, intr. Stephan Körner. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1981.
  • Gulyga, Arsenij. Immanuel Kant: His Life and Thought. Trans., Marijan Despaltovic. Boston: Birkhäuser, 1987.
  • Kuehn, Manfred. Kant: A Biography. Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-521-49704-3.
this is now the standard biography of Kant in English:
  • Pinkard, Terry. German philosophy, 1760-1860: The Legacy of Idealism. Cambridge, 2002.
  • Sassen, Brigitte. ed. Kant's Early Critics: The Empiricist Critique of the Theoretical Philosophy, 2000.

Collections of essays by Immanuel Kant:

  • Guyer, Paul. ed. The Cambridge Companion to Kant. Cambridge University Press, 1992. ISBN 0-521-36587-2, ISBN 0-521-36768-9.
an excellent collection of papers that covers most areas of Kant's thought:
  • Mohanty, J.N. and Robert W. Shahan. eds. Essays on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, 1982. ISBN 0-8061-1782-6.
  • Proceedings of the International Kant Congresses. Several Congresses (numbered) edited by various publishers.
  • Förster, Eckart ed. "Kant's Transcendental Deductions: The Three 'Critiques' and the 'Opus Postumum.'" Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989.
includes an important essay by Dieter Henrich':
  • Cohen, Ted and Paul Guyer eds. Essays in Kant's Aesthetics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982..
essays on Kant's Critique of Judgment:
  • Phillips, Dewi et al. Kant and Kierkegaard on Religion. Palgrave Macmillian, 2000, ISBN 0-312-23234-9.
A collection of essays about Kantian religion and its influence on Kierkegaardian and contemporary philosophy of religion.

On Kant's theoretical philosophy:

  • Allison, Henry. Kant’s Transcendental Idealism. New Haven : Yale University Press, 1983, 2004. ISBN 0-300-03629-9, ISBN 0-300-03002-9.
very influential defense of Kant's idealism, recently revised
  • Ameriks, Karl. Kant's Theory of Mind: An Analysis of the Paralogisms of Pure Reason. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982.
one of the first detailed studies of the Dialectic in English
  • Gram, Moltke S. The Transcendental Turn: The Foundation of Kant's Idealism. Gainesville : University Presses of Florida, 1984. ISBN 0-8130-0787-9.
  • Guyer, Paul. Kant and the Claims of Knowledge. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
a modern defense of the view that Kant's theoretical philosophy is a "patchwork" of ill-fitting arguments
  • Henrich, Dieter. The Unity of Reason: Essays on Kant’s Philosophy. Edited and with an introduction by Richard L. Velkley; translated by Jeffrey Edwards ... [et al.]. Harvard University Press, 1994. ISBN 0-674-92905-5.
  • Kemp Smith, Norman. A Commentary to Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason. London: Macmillan, 1930.
a somewhat dated, but influential commentary on the first Critique, recently reprinted
  • Kitcher, Patricia. Kant's Transcendental Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
  • Longuenesse, Béatrice. Kant and the Capacity to Judge. Princeton University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-691-04348-5.
argues that the notion of judgment provides the key to understanding the overall argument of the first Critique
  • Melnick, Arthur. Kant's Analogies of Experience. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973.
an important study of Kant's Analogies, including his defense of the principle of causality
  • Paton, H. J. Kant’s Metaphysic of Experience: A Commentary on the First Half of the Kritik der reinen Vernunft. Two volumes. London: Macmillan, 1936.
an extensive study of Kant's theoretical philosophy
  • Pippin, Robert B. Kant's Theory of Form: An Essay on the Critique of Pure Reason. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982.
an influential examination of the formal character of Kant's work
  • Arthur Schopenhauer: Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung. Erster Band. Anhang. Kritik der Kantischen Philosophie. F. A. Brockhaus, Leipzig 1859 (In English: Arthur Schopenhauer, New York: Dover Press, Volume I, Appendix, "Criticism of the Kantian Philosophy," ISBN 0-486-21761-2).
  • Strawson, P.F. The Bounds of Sense: an essay on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Routledge, 1989.
the work that revitalized the interest of contemporary analytic philosophers in Kant
  • Wolff, Robert Paul. Kant's theory of mental activity: A commentary on the transcendental analytic of the Critique of Pure Reason. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1963.
a detailed and influential commentary on the first part of the Critique of Pure Reason

On Kant's practical philosophy:

  • Allison, Henry, Kant's theory of freedom Cambridge University Press 1990.
  • Banham, Gary. Kant's Practical Philosophy: From Critique to Doctrine Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
  • Michalson, Gordon E. Fallen Freedom: Kant on Radical Evil and Moral Regeneration. Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  • Michalson, Gordon E. Kant and the Problem of God. Blackwell Publishers, 1999.
  • Paton, H. J. The Categorical Imperative; a study in Kant's moral philosophy University of Pennsylvania press 1971.
  • Rawls, John. Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy. Cambridge, 2000.
  • Wolff, Robert Paul. The Autonomy of Reason: A Commentary on Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. New York: HarperCollins, 1974. ISBN 0-06-131792-6.

On Kant's aesthetics:

  • Guyer, Paul. Kant and the Claim of Taste. Cambridge MA and London, 1979.
  • Crawford, Donald. Kant's Aesthetic Theory. Wisconsin, 1974.
  • Makkreel, Rudolf, Imagination and Interpretation in Kant. Chicago, 1990.
  • McCloskey, Mary. Kant's Aesthetic. SUNY, 1987.
  • Schaper, Eva. Studies in Kant's Aesthetics. Edinburgh, 1979.
  • Zupancic, Alenka. Ethics of the Real: Kant and Lacan. Verso, 2000.
  • Hammermeister, Kai. The German Aesthetic Tradition. Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Other work on Kant.

  • Caygill, Howard. A Kant Dictionary. Oxford, UK; Cambridge, Mass., USA : Blackwell Reference, 1995. ISBN 0-631-17534-2, ISBN 0-631-17535-0.

Contemporary philosophy with a Kantian influence:

  • Herman, Barbara. The Practice of Moral Judgement. Harvard University Press, 1993.
  • Korsgaard, Christine. Creating the Kingdom of Ends. Cambridge; New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-521-49644-6, ISBN 0-521-49962-3 (pbk.).
not a commentary, but a defense of a broadly Kantian approach to ethics
  • McDowell, John. Mind and World. Harvard University Press, 1994. ISBN 0-674-57609-8.
offers a Kantian solution to a dilemma in contemporary epistemology regarding the relation between mind and world
  • Wood, Allen. Kant's Ethical Thought. Cambridge; New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-521-64836-X.
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)



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