KANT, kant, IMMANUEL: German philosopher; b. at Königsberg, Prussia, Apr. 22, 1724; d. there Feb. 12, 1804. His father, of Scotch descent, was a saddler in humble circumstances, his mother a woman of great natural force and fervent piety.
His entire life with exception of a few years as tutor in a country family was spent in his birthplace. After graduating from the University of Königsberg and teaching for several years, in 1755 he became privet-docent, in 1770 full professor at the university. Here his chief subjects were logic, metaphysics, physical geography, anthropology, moral philosophy, and mathematics; other subjects were natural law, encyclopedia of philosophy, natural theology, pedagogics, theoretical physics mechanics, and mineralogy. His philosophical writings fall into two groups--the dogmatic or pre-critical, influenced by Leibnitz and Christian Wolff, until 1770; the critical, due in part to Hume's influence (1770-1804), wherein his principal works appeared, combating both the dogmatism of Leibnitz and Wolff and the empiricism of Hume. The writings of the earlier period may be passed over here, for it is upon the great systematic
Kant characterized his metaphysical standpoint as transcendental idealism (see IDEALISM). In his epistemology he taught that there are two sources of knowledge: sensation--given through the senses, and thought--intuitions of space and time and categories of the understanding. This knowledge is restricted to phenomena. By pure reason a priori we are, however, compelled to affirm the reality of a noumenal world, not as this is in itself, but as it appears to us, and then only as to its form. A basis is here laid for the later divorce of theoretical knowledge and religious faith, as in Mansel's Limits of Religious Thought (London, 1858), and in the theology of Albrecht Ritschl (q.v.). Religion is the recognition of one's duty as divine commands. Commands are proved to be divine through our sense of them as duties (natural religion); whereas those which we know as divine commands become our duty (revealed religion). Religion is essentially belief in God as a good will realizing itself in nature and history, evinced by neither prophecy nor miracle, but by the same good will in ourselves--its object to develop and confirm the will of good in us. The sovereign test of the Bible is our own morality. Sin, which presupposes free causality, is an extra-temporal, voluntary adoption by the reason of an evil motive, but incapable of further explication. Regeneration takes place through one's becoming aware of the ideal of moral perfection, and forgiveness through the ethical reproduction of the same ideal as that which the Church attributes to Christ. The Church is the invisible body of the redeemed. Kant subjected the traditional theistic arguments to a searching scrutiny, with the result that these lost most of their cogency. His criticism reached the following conclusions: (1) concerning the ontological argument--the idea does not prove the objective existence of its content; (2) as to the cosmological argument, an infinite series of finite causes is thinkable, the cause which this argument postulates is not a necessary cause, and even if the necessary cause were thus reached, this would not be the God of theology; (3) the teleological proof--mentioned with respect--rests on the unproved assertion of universal adaptation and teleology, and leads to an artificer not to a Creator; (4) the moral proof, drawn from conscience and feeling of responsibility, the universality and teleology of the moral order, is invalid in the light of pure reason, although it holds good for the practical reason. Kant's denial of the worth of the theistic arguments, to which must be added freedom and immortality, means not that these are finally to be rejected, but, incapable of proof by reasoning, are removed to the jurisdiction of the practical reason. In the moral consciousness are given those ideas of God, freedom, and immortality. The reason had not denied freedom, but conceived it as an intelligible, not as an empirical, reality; and since freedom was the absolute condition of moral responsibility, the practical reason postulated immortality as the sphere within which this moral problem was to be solved, and God as the guarantor both of the moral order and the ultimate realization of the good will. The only good without qualification is a good will. The categorical imperative as addressed to the will compels a teleological interpretation of reality and a recognition of the autonomy of the practical reason. In the summum bonum virtue and happiness must be thought of as combined, but virtue is supreme and is alone worthy of happiness. Owing to the supremacy of the practical reason, man is to act as if the postulates of the moral consciousness were proved. Kant's ethical teaching is marked by "vigor and rigor." Duty stands in no relation to feeling. Duty is for duty's sake alone. The moral law admits of no exceptions. His categorical imperative enjoins, "Act only on that maxim which thou oanst at the same time will to become a universal law."
Kant's philosophy as a whole may now be characterized: (1) We know phenomena, not things in themselves. (2) Objects are scientifically known, i.e., by the reason, a priori, since they are created by the understanding. (3) Our knowledge is objectively valid for phenomena or for possible experience but not outside of these. (4) Things-in-themselves are
BIBLIOGRAPHY: The literature upon Kant is enormous--cf. the list of works in J. M. Baldwin, Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, iii. 1, pp. 286-320, New York, 1905. On the life the best single book is F. Paulsen, Immanuel Kant, sein Leben und seine Lehre, Stuttgart, 1898, Eng. transl., Immanuel Kant, his Life and Doctrine, New York, 1902; L. E. Borowski, Darstellung des Lebens und Charakter Kants, Königsberg, 1804 (revised by Kant himself); H. Schmidt, Immanuel Kant's Leben, Halle, 1858; K. Fischer, Kants Leben und die Grundlagen seiner Lehre, Mannheim, 1860; J. H. W. Stuckenberg, Life of Immanuel Kant, London, 1882; M. Kronenberg, Kant, sein Leben und seine Lehre, Munich, 1891.
On his philosophy consult: J. Barni, Philosophie de Kant, Paris, 1851; M. B. W. Bolton, Kant and Hamilton, London, 1866; K. Fischer, Commentary on Kant's "Critick of the Pure Reason," ib. 1866; C. Düwell, Kant's Religionsphilosophie, Fürstenwalde, 1872; J. Kaftan, Die religionsphilosophische Anschauung Kants, Basel, 1874; F. Paulsen, Versuch einer Entwickelungsgeschichte der kantischen Erkenntnisstheorie, Leipsic, 1875; E. Caird, The Philosophy of Kant Explained and Examined, London, 1877; idem, The Critical Philosophy of Emmanuel Kant, 2 vols., Glasgow, 1889; C. Ritter, Kant and Hume, Halle, 1878; J. G. Schurman, Kantian Ethics and the Ethics of Evolution, London, 1881; J. H. Stirling, Textbook to Kant, ib. 1881; G. S. Morris, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Chicago, 1882; G. Thiele, Die Philosophie Immanuel Kants, 2 vols., Halle, 1882-87; W. Wallace, Kant, Oxford, 1882; J. McCosh, A Criticism of the Critical Philosophy, New York, 1884; J. P. Mahaffy, Kant's Critical Philosophy for English Readers, 2 vols., London, 1889; J. Royce, The Spirit of Modern Philosophy, Boston, 1892; T. H. Green, Works, ed. R. L. Nettleship, ii. 2-155, London 1893; C. W. Hodge, Kantian Epistemology and Theism, Philadelphia, 1894; V. Basch, Essai . . . sur l'esthétique de Kant, Paris, 1896; A. Cresson, La Morale de Kant, ib. 1897; W. M. Washington, The Formal and Material Elements of Kant's Ethics, New York, 1898; T. Ruyssen, Kant, Paris, 1900; H. S. Chamberlain, Immanuel Kant, die Persönlichkeit als Einführung in das Werk, Munich, 1905; G. Gerland, Immanuel Kant, seine geographischen und anthropologischen Arbeiten, Berlin, 1906; J. Guttmann, Kants Gottesbegriff in seiner positiven Entwicklung, ib., 1906; M. Apel, Kommentar zu Kants "Prolegomena," ib., 1908; O. Ewald, Kants kritischer Idealismus als Grundlage von Erkenntnistheorie und Ethik, ib., 1908; J. Watson, The Philosophy of Kant Explained, Glasgow, 1908.
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