Immanuel Kant. by Katherine Amerson. Biography. Born in 1724 in Konigsberg, Prussia His name was initially spelled Emanuel, though he later changed it to Immanuel Household was Pietist and practiced intense religious devotion
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Immanuel Kant by Katherine Amerson
Biography • Born in 1724 in Konigsberg, Prussia • His name was initially spelled Emanuel, though he later changed it to Immanuel • Household was Pietist and practiced intense religious devotion • His father was a Scottish immigrant who still spelled his surname ‘Cant’ • His education focused much more on Latin and religious teachings than science and mathematics • He never travelled more than 50 miles away from Konigsberg in his life. • He seemed to very strict and diligent in his routines, though he was actually quite sociable.
His Works • Inaugural Dissertation (1770) • Critique of Pure Reason (1781, 1787) – his most well known text, dealt with knowledge • Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics (1783) – expressed some of his concepts in a simpler way • “What is Enlightenment?” (1784) • The Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals (1785) • Metaphysical Foundations of the Science of Nature (1786) • On Comprehension and Transcendental Consciousness (1788-1791) • Critique of Practical Reason (1788) – dealt with morality • Critique of Judgment (1790) – dealt with mental facilities that don’t spur us to action or convey factual knowledge (aesthetic judgment and “construing things as having purpose” or teleological judgments) • Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone (1793)
Historical Context • Enlightenment – wave of new philosophical thought • Hume: his skepticism about certain ideas cause Kant to wake from his “dogmatic slumber.” • German Enlightenment was different than that of other countries in Europe; the nobility and middle class weren’t as fractured, and there wasn’t as much conflict over religion. • Germans rejected empiricism, which was highly popular in France at the time. • Leibnitz and Goethe are the other two big names in the German Enlightenment
Important Terms to Know • Rationalism – we understand the world through reason • Empiricism – all knowledge is grounded in experience • Two types of Propositional Knowledge • a priori – independent of experience • a posteriori – dependent on experience or empirical evidence • analytic statement – true by definition, predicate doesn’t add new information to a sentence • synthetic statement – adds information to a sentence • “the possibility of human knowledge presupposes the active participation of the human mind” • Before Kant, what was considered a priori was considered only to be analytic, meaning it was independent of experience. Ex. An intelligent man is intelligent. • Kant thought that synthetic a priori statements were the most important kind.
Critique of Pure Reason • First published in 1781, a second edition was published in 1787. • Over 800 pages long in the original German • Concept of transcendental idealism • Rejects that knowledge is gained through the senses, instead it is due to the inherent structure and nature of the mind. • Sense data does NOT equal knowledge. • Space and time are modes of perception
Critique of Pure Reason Cont’d • Doctrine of Elements (Book 1) • Transcendental Aesthetic – space and time are pure forms of intuition • Transcendental Analytic – appropriate uses of a priori • Transcendental Dialectic – transcendental illusion • Doctrine of Method (Book 2) • Discipline of Pure Reason • Canon of Pure Reason
Categorical Imperative • Introduced in Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals • Opposed to hypothetical imperatives • Kant’s central philosophy on morals • Syllogism: two different premises = conclusion • First, Second, and Third Maxim • Compared to the Golden Rule • Sense of innate moral duty
Lasting Impact • Created his own “Copernican Revolution”, in essence. • Shaped most of modern philosophy. • German Idealist School • Fichte • Hegel • Schelling