Immanuel Kant (Immanuel in German) is a universally famous German philosopher, founder of the idealist school who has kept his name. He was born on April 22, 1724 in Königsberg, capital of East Prussia, and died there on February 12, 1804. |
Among his most important works are the Critique of Pure Reason and the Critique of Practical Reason, which examine the relation of epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics.
The best source of information on the biography of Kant is his correspondence, the 2nd part of t. XI of the edict. Rosenkranz and Schubert works by Kant, Kuno Fischer, Geschischte der n. Philosophy, T. III. In English: Correspondence.
There are also books of his friends Hasse, Borowski, Wasianski and Jackmanu, excerpts of which were translated into english under the title: Kant intimate, Aphorisms on art to live.
Immanuel Kant was born in 1724 in Königsberg in East Prussia (now Kaliningrad in Russia) in a modest environment: His father, Johann Georg Kant (1682–1746) was a German craftsman from Memel, at the time Prussia's most northeastern city (now Klaipėda, Lithuania). His mother Anna Regina Porter (1697–1737) that Kant described as a very intelligent woman, 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.
He was the fourth of eleven children. He first attended the Collegium Fredericianum, headed by Schulz, pietist pastor, who put piety of the soul above reasoning. He spent seven years there.
In 1740, he entered the University of Könisberg with the aim of studying theology. He followed the course of Martin Knudsen, professor of mathematics and philosophy. That professor, also pietist and disciple of Wolff fought the dualism and always came back to the pure doctrine of Leibniz, according to which the representative force and the driving force of part one another and assume vice versa.
There, he discovered Newton and physics, which gave him the experimental proof of the possibility of an a priori science of nature.
In 1746, the death of his father forced him to interrupt his studies to teach and work as a tutor in wealthy families during almost nine years. That year he published his first essay: Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living Forces.
In 1755, he was promoted thanks to a dissertation on the fire and empowerment through a dissertation on the first principles of metaphysics knowledge. He began teaching at the University of Königsberg, with the title of "Privatdozent" (teacher paid by his students).
Kant was the first great philosopher to give a regular university teaching. His courses, as well as his publications for this period are very diverse: mathematics, physics, learned from Newton, theory of fortifications, pyrotechnics, morale among Rousseau, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson and Hume, encyclopedia and philosophical.
In the “Allgemeine Naturgeschichte und Theorie des Himmels “(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 realm.
Starting from 1760, he extended his circle of course to the natural theology, anthropology, and primarily the critical evidence of the existence of God and the doctrine of beauty and the sublime in “The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God” and “Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime”.
Finally in 1770 he was appointed professor, after writing his famous essay, “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.
In 1781 published the first edition of the “Critique of Pure Reason”. This book, the result of eleven years of work, does not meet the success hoped for by its author. A second edition will be launched in 1787. In 1788, “Critique of Practical Reason was published, and in 1790, the “Critique of the faculty of judgment”. All his other major works (“Metaphysics of Moral” and “To perpetual peace” among others) are written in this period.
His legendary physical inactivity (he almost never left his hometown) did not, however, prevented him to be sensitive to movements in the world, as evidenced by his many publications dealing with topics and contemporary of his time. He also received very often friends to dinner.
Professor who became famous, even if he was not always understood by his contemporaries, he died in 1804 in Königsberg.
Bibliography of Kant:
(1746) Thoughts on the True Estimation of Vital Forces (Gedanken von der wahren Schätzung der lebendigen Kräfte)
(1755) A New Explanation of the First Principles of Metaphysical Knowledge (Neue Erhellung der ersten Grundsätze metaphysischer Erkenntnisse; Doctoral Thesis: Principiorum primorum cognitionis metaphysicae nova dilucidatio)
(1755) Universal Natural History and Theory of Heaven (Allgemeine Naturgeschichte und Theorie des Himmels)
(1756) Monadologia Physica
(1762) The False Subtlety of the Four Syllogistic Figures (Die falsche Spitzfindigkeit der vier syllogistischen Figuren)
(1763) The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God (Der einzig mögliche Beweisgrund zu einer Demonstration des Daseins Gottes)
(1763) Attempt to Introduce the Concept of Negative Magnitudes into Philosophy (Versuch den Begriff der negativen Größen in die Weltweisheit einzuführen)
(1764) Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime (Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen)
(1764) Essay on the Illness of the Head (Über die Krankheit des Kopfes)
(1764) Inquiry Concerning the Distinctness of the Principles of Natural Theology and Morality (the Prize Essay) (Untersuchungen über die Deutlichkeit der Grundsätze der natürlichen Theologie und der Moral)
(1766) Dreams of a Spirit Seer (On Emmanuel Swedenborg) (Träume eines Geistersehers)
(1770) Inaugural Dissertation (De mundi sensibilis atque intelligibilis forma et principiis)
(1775) On the Different Races of Man (Über die verschiedenen Rassen der Menschen)
(1781) First edition of the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft
(1783) Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics (Prolegomena zu einer jeden künftigen Metaphysik)
(1784) "An Answer To The Question: What Is Enlightenment?" (Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?)
(1784) Idea For A Universal History With A Cosmopolitan Purpose (Idee zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltbürgerlicher Absicht)
(1785) Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten)
(1786) Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (Metaphysische Anfangsgründe der Naturwissenschaft)
(1787) Second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft
(1788) Critique of Practical Reason (Kritik der praktischen Vernunft)
(1790) Critique of Judgement (Kritik der Urteilskraft
(1790) The Science of Right
(1793) Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone (Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der bloßen Vernunft)
(1795) Perpetual Peace (Zum ewigen Frieden)
(1797) Metaphysics of Morals (Metaphysik der Sitten)
(1798) Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (Anthropologie in pragmatischer Hinsicht)
(1798) The Contest of Faculties (Der Streit der Fakultäten)
(1800) Logic (Logik)
(1803) On Pedagogy (Über Pädagogik)
(1804) Opus Postumum
(More German works at Wikisource)
(More German works at Project Gutenberg)
(More English works at The University of Adelaide Library)