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Immanuel Kant


Immanuel Kant (22 April 1724 Ė 12 February 1804) was a Prussian German philosopher who flourished during the Age of Enlightenment. According to him, the mind molds and structures experience, with all human experience possessing certain structural characteristics. In his claim that worldly objects can be intuited a priori, and thus intuition is independent of objective reality, he drew a comparison to the Copernican revolution. Kant felt that reason is the wellspring of morality, and those aesthetics are the result of a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views have had a lasting impact on current philosophy, particularly in epistemology, ethics, political theory, and postmodern aesthetics.
He endeavored to explain the link between reason and human experience, moving beyond the limitations of traditional philosophy and metaphysics. Kant wished to put an end to an era of fruitless and theoretical explanations of human experience, while also opposing the skepticism of thinkers such as David Hume. Kant saw himself as bridging the gap between rationalists and empiricists and is often considered as having blended both traditions in his ideas.

Kant's early life

Kant resided in his birthplace, a rural province. His father, a saddler, and mother, an ignorant German woman with a strong personality and natural intelligence, were both extraordinary. Kant's parents were both committed Pietists in the Lutheran church, hence Kant was religiously affected by his parents.

Kant political philosophy

In Perpetual Peace
Kant claimed that in some cases, battles can be ended to generate a sense of lasting peace. They had a globe of constitutional republics in it. His classical republican thesis was developed further in the Science of Right, the first section of the Metaphysics of Morals (1797). Kant believed that universal history leads to an ultimate world of peaceful republican governments. However, this idea has been criticized for not being pragmatic. The process was defined as "natural" rather than "logical" in "Perpetual Peace". It is not reasonable to assume that the goal is to create harmony among men against their choice and that resolving their discord is not a long-term solution.
He was opposed to "democracy", which at the time meant direct democracy because he believed that majority control threatened individual liberty. Democracy, according to Kant, is a dictatorship because it produces executive authority in which "all" decide for or against someone that does not agree; that is, "all," and this is a logical inconsistency of the general consent with itself and with freedom."

Kant's religious philosophy

Kant's religious ideas are still the subject of philosophical debate, with views ranging from the impression that he was an atheist who later developed an ontological argument for God, to more critical treatments epitomized. Nietzsche claimed Kant lacked "theologian blood" and was merely a refined sympathizer for the traditional Christian faith.

Kant's moral and social philosophy

Kant was a skeptic of utilitarianism. Unlike Mill, Kant believed that certain activities (such as murder, theft, and lying) were forbidden, even if the conduct would result in more happiness than the alternative.
  • Kantians think that before acting, we must consider ourselves two questions: Can I reasonably order everyone to do what I want them to do? If the response is no, we must not proceed.
  • Is my activity respectful of human goals rather than exploiting them for my gain? Again, if the response is no, we must refrain from doing so.

Relationship between morality and CI (Categorical Imperative):

Morality must be founded on the categorical imperative because morality commands you and you cannot opt-out of it or claim that it does not apply to you. In Kantian ethics, an unconditional moral obligation is binding in all circumstances and is not dependent on a person's inclination or purpose, and is called Categorical Imperative.

Kant's perspective on happiness

Kant appears to be stating that if one of my purposes is to make myself happy, my conduct is not worthy. This is a blunder. Making myself happy is a positive thing, even according to Kant, if the method or means chosen is correct. You can gain moral worth by doing things you enjoy, but the reason you do them cannot be because you enjoy them; they must be done because they are needed by duty.

Criticism of Kant's theory

  • We should only do acts that are consistent with universally accepted rules.
  • We would be breaking the rule "It is permitted to lie" if we lied.
  • This rule could not be universally applied since it would be self-defeating: people would stop believing one another, and lying would be pointless.
Kant believed that moral principles should guide people's conduct and that these moral laws should be universal. He argued that any highest moral ideal must be based on logic to apply to all intellectual animals. Even if a person is trying something good and it produces harm, the kindness behind the efforts is still present. Kant believes that we should concentrate on what we should do. Our sense of "need to" is known as dutifulness; what we desire to do is unimportant. Kantianism is founded on the idea that rational beings can use logic to explain the "why" behind their ethical solutions. It is the motivation behind the deed that is important, not the outcomes. The four action alternatives based on Kant's intention/motivation vs. consequences are
  • Good intentions, correct act, and wrong act (you did the morally right thing and you get credit for it)
  • Good intentions, bad deed (you did the morally wrong thing but you are not to be blamed for it)
  • Bad intentions, good deed (you did the ethically correct thing, but you didn't gain credit for it)
  • Wrongdoing, evil motives (you did the morally wrong thing and you have to take the blame for it)
Thus, for Kant, the blame or credit we assign to one's intentions, as well as the rightness or wrongness of what one did, are distinct and independent. Many individuals believe that the same morality should apply to all people throughout history, which Kantianism supports. These principles enable us to make sound moral judgments. One such judgment might be, "It is wicked to sacrifice living human beings to please the gods". It was wrong in the twenty-first century in North America, and it was wrong in the fifteenth century in South America. According to Kantís Ideology, "all humans are created equal" because it maintains that persons in identical situations should be treated similarly, and his idea provides a moral agenda for combating prejudice Finally, he summarizes his thesis by saying that a good person is someone who always does their responsibility because it is their obligation, whether they love it or not.

Outline Of Kantís Philosophy

Despite his upbringing as a pietist, he was a Liberal in both politics and theology; he supported the French Revolution until the Reign of Terror and believed in democracy. His philosophy, which may be seen as a pedantic version of the Savoyard Vicar, allowed an appeal to the heart against the cold dictates of theoretical reason. His principle that every man is to be viewed as an end in himself is a feature of the Rights of Man doctrine, and his passion for freedom is demonstrated by his saying (about both adults and children) that "there can be nothing more terrible than that a man's actions should be subject to the will of another".
Kant's early works are focused on science rather than philosophy. After the Lisbon earthquake, he published on earthquake theory; he authored a wind treatise and a brief essay on whether the west wind in Europe is moist since it has traversed the Atlantic Ocean. Physical geography was a subject that piqued his curiosity.
Kant's most important work is The Critique of Pure Reason. The first edition was published in 1781, and the second edition was published in 1787. The goal of this work is to demonstrate that, while none of our knowledge can transcend experience, it is nonetheless somewhat a priori and not inferred inductively from experience. According to him, the a priori element of human knowledge includes not only logic but also much that cannot be contained in or reasoned from logic. He distinguishes two distinctions that, according to Leibniz, are indistinguishable. There is a distinction between "analytic" and "synthetic" propositions on the one hand, and a distinction between "a priori" and "empirical" propositions on the other. There must be something said about each of these distinctions.

How are synthetic judgments a priori possible?

Kant's solution to the situation was one in which he had a lot of faith. He had spent twelve years hunting for it, but it only took him a few months after his theory had given shape to write his entire big book. "I venture to state that there is not a single metaphysical problem which has not been solved, or for which the key has not been offered", he said in the foreword to the first edition. In the second edition's preface, he compares himself to Copernicus and claims to have brought about a Copernican revolution in thought.
According to Kant, the external world just produces stuff of sense, but our mental apparatus organizes this matter in space and time and provides the concepts with which we comprehend the experience. Things in and of themselves, which are the sources of our senses, are unknowable; they are not in space or time, they are not things, and they cannot be characterized by any of the other generic ideas that Kant refers to as "categories". Space and time are subjective; they are components of our perceptual apparatus. But, because of this, we can be certain that whatever we encounter will reflect the features addressed by geometry and temporal science. If you always wore blue spectacles, you could be certain of seeing everything blue (this is not Kant's depiction). Similarly, because you are continuously wearing spatial spectacles in your head, you are guaranteed to perceive everything in space. Thus, geometry is a priori in the sense that it must be true of everything encountered, but we have no reason to believe that anything equivalent is true of things we do not experience.
Kant claims that space and time are not conceptions, but rather manifestations of "intuition". There are, however, a priori ideas; these are the twelve "categories" that Kant derives from syllogistic forms. The twelve categories are broken down into four groups of three:
  1. Of quantity: unity, plurality, totality;
  2. Of quality: reality, negation, limitation;
  3. Of relation: substance-and-accident, cause-and-effect, reciprocity;
  4. Of modality: possibility, existence, necessity.
These are subjective, in the sense that our mental constitution allows them to apply to whatever we encounter, but there is no reason to believe they apply to things in and of themselves. However, there is an inconsistency in terms of cause, because Kant considers things in and of themselves to be causes of sensations, while he considers free volitions to be causes of occurrences in space and time. This discrepancy is not an oversight; it is a necessary aspect of his system. The Critique of Pure Reason devotes a substantial portion of its time to demonstrating the fallacies that come from applying space and time or categories to objects that are not experienced. Kant claims that when this is done, we are troubled by "antinomies", or mutually contradictory propositions, each of which can be proved. Kant offers four of these antinomies, each with its thesis as well as an antithesis.
The thesis states in the first paragraph, "The world has a beginning in time and is also limited in space". According to the antithesis, "the world has no origin in time and no limitations in space; it is endless in both time and space".
The second antinomy demonstrates that every composite substance is made up of simple parts and is not.
The third antinomy thesis holds that there are two kinds of causation, one governed by natural rules and the other by free will.
The fourth antinomy demonstrates that there both is and is not a necessary Being. This section of the Critique strongly impacted Hegel, whose dialectic is entirely based on antinomies. In a famous section, Kant begins to dismantle any merely logical proof of God's existence. He makes it apparent that he has other reasons for believing in God, which he will explain in The Critique of Practical Reason later. But, for the time being, his goal is entirely negative. He claims that there are only three pure-reason proofs of God's existence: the ontological proof, the cosmological proof, and the physico-theological proof.
The ontological evidence, as he presents it, defines God as the realissimum, the most real being; that is, the subject of all absolute predicates. Those who believe the evidence is valid to argue that it's because "existence" is such a necessary condition, this subject must also have the predicate "existence," i.e., must exist. According to Kant, existence is not a predicate. He claims that a hundred imaginary thalers have the same predicates as a hundred actual thalers.
The cosmological evidence states that if anything exists, then a necessary Being must exist; now that I know I exist, a Necessary Being must exist, and this must be realism. Kant says that the final step in this argument is simply the ontological argument repeated and that it is thus invalidated by what has been already said.
Kant's energy and mental freshness in old age are demonstrated by his essay on Perpetual Peace ( 1795). In this text, he calls for a federation of free states united by a covenant prohibiting war. The rationale, he claims, is that only an international authority can avert war. He claims that the civil constitutions of the component States should be "republican", but he defines this term to indicate that the executive and legislative branches be separated.
He does not mean that there should be no king; in fact, he believes that a monarchy is the best way to achieve perfect government. Writing under the influence of the Reign of Terror, he is skeptical of democracy, claiming that it is inevitably despotism because it produces an executive power. "The so-called 'whole people' who carry out their policies are not all, but merely a majority: hence, the universal will is in conflict with itself and with the idea of freedom".