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Wikipedia Summary for Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant (UK: , US: ; German: [ɪˈmaːnu̯eːl ˈkant, -nu̯ɛl -]; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher and one of the central Enlightenment thinkers. Kant's comprehensive and systematic works in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics have made him one of the most influential figures in modern Western philosophy.

In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, Kant argued that space and time are mere "forms of intuition" which structure all experience, and therefore that while "things-in-themselves" exist and contribute to experience, they are nonetheless distinct from the objects of experience. From this it follows that the objects of experience are mere "appearances", and that the nature of things as they are in themselves is consequently unknowable to us. In an attempt to counter the skepticism he found in the writings of philosopher David Hume, he wrote the Critique of Pure Reason (1781/1787), one of his most well-known works. In it, he developed his theory of experience to answer the question of whether synthetic a priori knowledge is possible, which would in turn make it possible to determine the limits of metaphysical inquiry. Kant drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposal that the objects of the senses must conform to our spatial and temporal forms of intuition, and that we can consequently have a priori cognition of the objects of the senses.

Kant believed that reason is also the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics. He attempted to explain the relationship between reason and human experience and to move beyond what he believed to be the failures of traditional philosophy and metaphysics. He wanted to put an end to what he saw as an era of futile and speculative theories of human experience, while resisting the skepticism of thinkers such as Hume. He regarded himself as showing the way past the impasse between rationalists and empiricists, and is widely held to have synthesized both traditions in his thought.

Kant was an exponent of the idea that perpetual peace could be secured through universal democracy and international cooperation, and that perhaps this could be the culminating stage of world history. The nature of Kant's religious views continues to be the subject of scholarly dispute, with viewpoints ranging from the impression that he shifted from an early defense of an ontological argument for the existence of God to a principled agnosticism, to more critical treatments epitomized by Schopenhauer, who criticized the imperative form of Kantian ethics as "theological morals" and the "Mosaic Decalogue in disguise", and Nietzsche, who claimed that Kant had "theologian blood" and was merely a sophisticated apologist for traditional Christian faith. Beyond his religious views, Kant has also been criticized for the racism presented in some of his lesser-known papers, such as "On the Use of Teleological Principles in Philosophy" and "On the Different Races of Man". Although he was a proponent of scientific racism for much of his career, Kant's views on race changed significantly in the last decade of his life, and he ultimately rejected racial hierarchies and European colonialism in Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795), though still considering Europeans as "civilized" to the exception of others.

Kant published other important works on ethics, religion, law, aesthetics, astronomy, and history during his lifetime. These include the Universal Natural History (1755), the Critique of Practical Reason (1788), the Critique of Judgment (1790), Religion within the Bounds of Bare Reason (1793), and the Metaphysics of Morals (1797).

Good and strong will. Mechanism must precede science (learning). Also in morals and religion? Too much discipline makes one narrow and kills proficiency. Politeness belongs, not to discipline, but to polish, and thus comes last.

--Immanuel Kant

The busier we are, the more acutely we feel that we live.

--Immanuel Kant

Longer Version:

The busier we are, the more acutely we feel that we live, the more conscious we are of life.


I am never to act otherwise than so that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law.

--Immanuel Kant

All appearances are real and negatio; sophistical: All reality must be sensation.

--Immanuel Kant

If man is not to stifle his human feelings, he must practise kindness towards animals, for he who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.

--Immanuel Kant

Anarchy is law and freedom without force. Despotism is law and force without freedom. Barbarism force without freedom and law. Republicanism is force with freedom and law.

--Immanuel Kant

It is presumed that there exists a great unity in nature, in respect of the adequacy of a single cause to account for many different kinds of consequences.

--Immanuel Kant

He who has made great moral progress ceases to pray.

--Immanuel Kant

In every department of physical science there is only so much science, properly so-called, as there is mathematics.

--Immanuel Kant

Law And Freedom without Violence (Anarchy) Law And Violence without Freedom (Despotism) Violence without Freedom And Law (Barbarism) Violence with Freedom And Law (Republic).

--Immanuel Kant

All natural capacities of a creature are destined to evolve completely to their natural end.

--Immanuel Kant

Parents usually educate their children merely in such a manner than however bad the world may be, they may adapt themselves to its present conditions. But they ought to give them an education so much better than this, that a better condition of things may thereby be brought about by the future.

--Immanuel Kant

We can never, even by the strictest examination, get completely behind the secret springs of action.

--Immanuel Kant

Each according to his own way of seeing things, seek one goal, that is gratification.

--Immanuel Kant

It is difficult for the isolated individual to work himself out of the immaturity which has become almost natural for him.

--Immanuel Kant

Through laziness and cowardice a large part of mankind, even after nature has freed them from alien guidance, gladly remain immature. It is because of laziness and cowardice that it is so easy for others to usurp the role of guardians. It is so comfortable to be a minor!

--Immanuel Kant

Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence!

--Immanuel Kant

A society that is not willing to demand a life of somebody who has taken somebody else's life is simply immoral.

--Immanuel Kant

I am myself by inclination an investigator.

--Immanuel Kant

The sight of a being who is not adorned with a single feature of a pure and good will, enjoying unbroken prosperity, can never give pleasure to an impartial rational spectator. Thus a good will appears to constitute the indispensable condition even of being worthy of happiness.

--Immanuel Kant

In all judgements by which we describe anything as beautiful, we allow no one to be of another opinion.

--Immanuel Kant

Physicians think they are doing something for you by labeling what you have as a disease.

--Immanuel Kant

That Logic has advanced in this sure course, even from the earliest times, is apparent from the fact that, since Aristotle, it has been unable to advance a step, and thus to all appearance has reached its completion.

--Immanuel Kant

Fallacious and misleading arguments are most easily detected if set out in correct syllogistic form.

--Immanuel Kant

Have the courage to use your own reason --
that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant

Psychologists have hitherto failed to realize that imagination is a necessary ingredient of perception itself.

--Immanuel Kant

The function of the true state is to impose the minimum restrictions and safeguard the maximum liberties of the people, and it never regards the person as a thing.

--Immanuel Kant

All trades, arts, and handiwork have gained by division of labor, namely, when, instead of one man doing everything, each confines himself to a certain kind of work distinct from others in the treatment it requires, so as to be able to perform it with greater facility and in the greatest perfection.

--Immanuel Kant

It is often necessary to make a decision on the basis of knowledge sufficient for action but insufficient to satisfy the intellect.

--Immanuel Kant

If I am to constrain you by any law, it must be one by which I am also bound.

--Immanuel Kant

The means employed by Nature to bring about the development of all the capacities of men is their antagonism in society, so far as this is, in the end, the cause of a lawful order among men.

--Immanuel Kant

Democracy is necessarily despotism, as it establishes an executive power contrary to the general will; all being able to decide against one whose opinion may differ, the will of all is therefore not that of all: which is contradictory and opposite to liberty.

--Immanuel Kant

Ghost stories are always listened to and well received in private, but pitilessly disavowed in public. For my own part, ignorant as I am of the way in which the human spirit enters the world and the way in which he goes out of it, I dare not deny the truth of many such narratives.

--Immanuel Kant

Cruelty to animals is contrary to man's duty to himself, because it deadens in him the feeling of sympathy for their sufferings, and thus a natural tendency that is very useful to morality in relation to other human beings is weakened.

--Immanuel Kant

Freedom is that faculty that enlarges the usefulness of all other faculties.

--Immanuel Kant

There is a limit where the intellect fails and breaks down, and this limit is where the questions concerning God and freewill and immortality arise.

--Immanuel Kant

At some future day it will be proved, I cannot say when and where, that the human soul is, while in earth life, already in an uninterrupted communication with those living in another world.

--Immanuel Kant

An organized product of nature is that in which all the parts are mutually ends and means.

--Immanuel Kant

The bad thing of war is, that it makes more evil people than it can take away.

--Immanuel Kant

Criticism alone can sever the root of materialism, fatalism, atheism, free-thinking, fanaticism, and superstition, which can be injurious universally; as well as of idealism and skepticism, which are dangerous chiefly to the Schools, and hardly allow of being handed on to the public.

--Immanuel Kant

It is through good education that all the good in the world arises.

--Immanuel Kant

I freely admit that the remembrance of David Hume was the very thing that many years ago first interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave a completely different direction to my researches in the field of speculative philosophy.

--Immanuel Kant

Religion is too important a matter to its devotees to be a subject of ridicule. If they indulge in absurdities, they are to be pitied rather than ridiculed.

--Immanuel Kant

All our knowledge begins with the senses.

--Immanuel Kant

Longer Version:

All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.


The sum total of all possible knowledge of God is not possible for a human being, not even through a true revelation. But it is one of the worthiest inquiries to see how far our reason can go in the knowledge of God.

--Immanuel Kant

We find that the more a cultivated reason devotes itself to the aim of enjoying life and happiness, the further does man get away from true contentment.

--Immanuel Kant

Perhaps a revolution can overthrow autocratic despotism and profiteering or power-grabbing oppression, but it can never truly reform a manner of thinking; instead, new prejudices, just like the old ones they replace, will serve as a leash for the great unthinking mass.

--Immanuel Kant

Animals... are there merely as a means to an end. That end is man.

--Immanuel Kant

If I have a book that thinks for me, a pastor who acts as my conscience, a physician who prescribes my diet, and so on... then I have no need to exert myself. I have no need to think, if only I can pay; others will take care of that disagreeable business for me.

--Immanuel Kant

The people naturally adhere most to doctrines which demand the least self-exertion and the least use of their own reason, and which can best accommodate their duties to their inclinations.

--Immanuel Kant

Even a man's exact imitation of the song of the nightingale displeases us when we discover that it is a mimicry, and not the nightingale.

--Immanuel Kant

Nature has willed that man should, by himself, produce everything that goes beyond the mechanical ordering of his animal existence, and that he should partake of no other happiness or perfection than that which he himself, independently of instinct, has created by his own reason.

--Immanuel Kant

The instruction of children should aim gradually to combine knowing and doing. Among all sciences mathematics seems to be the only one of a kind to satisfy this aim most completely.

--Immanuel Kant

Freedom in the practical sense is the independence of the power of choice from necessitation by impulses of sensibility.

--Immanuel Kant

The evil effect of science upon men is principally this, that by far the greatest number of those who wish to display a knowledge of it accomplish no improvement at all of the understanding, but only a perversity of it, not to mention that it serves most of them as a tool of vanity.

--Immanuel Kant

Nature does nothing in vain, and in the use of means to her goals she is not prodigal.

--Immanuel Kant

Longer Version:

Nature does nothing in vain, and in the use of means to her goals she is not prodigal. Her giving to man reason and the freedom of the will which depends upon it is clear indication of her purpose. Man accordingly was not to be guided by instinct, not nurtured and instructed with ready-made knowledge; rather, he should bring forth everything out of his own resources.


Things which we see are not by themselves what we see ... It remains completely unknown to us what the objects may be by themselves and apart from the receptivity of our senses. We know nothing but our manner of perceiving them.

--Immanuel Kant

The arts of speech are rhetoric and poetry. Rhetoric is the art of transacting a serious business of the understanding as if it were a free play of the imagination; poetry that of conducting a free play of the imagination as if it were a serious business of the understanding.

--Immanuel Kant

Only the descent into the hell of self-knowledge can pave the way to godliness.

--Immanuel Kant

To a high degree we are, through art and science, cultured. We are civilized -- perhaps too much for our own good -- in all sorts of social grace and decorum. But to consider ourselves as
having reached morality -- for that, much is lacking.

--Immanuel Kant

Three Conditions of Happiness
If you have work to do
If you have someone you love
If You have hope
Then You are Happy now!

--Immanuel Kant

Arrogance is, as it were, a solicitation on the part of one seeking honor for followers, whom he thinks he is entitled to treat with contempt.

--Immanuel Kant

A ruler is merely the trustee of the rights of other men and he must always stand in dread of having in some way violated these rights.

--Immanuel Kant

Settle, for sure and universally, what conduct will promote the happiness of a rational being.

--Immanuel Kant

I ought never to act except in such a way that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law.

--Immanuel Kant

The inscrutable wisdom through which we exist is not less worthy of veneration in respect to what it denies us than in respect to what it has granted.

--Immanuel Kant

Act upon a maxim which, at the same time, involves its own universal validity for every rational being.

--Immanuel Kant

Sincerity is the indispensable ground of all conscientiousness, and by consequence of all heartfelt religion.

--Immanuel Kant

The ultimate destiny of the human race is the greatest moral perfection, provided that it is achieved through human freedom, whereby alone man is capable of the greatest happiness.

--Immanuel Kant

Human reason is by nature architectonic.

--Immanuel Kant

A man who has tasted with profound enjoyment the pleasure of agreeable society will eat with a greater appetite than he who rode horseback for two hours. An amusing lecture is as useful for health as the exercise of the body.

--Immanuel Kant

The schematicism by which our understanding deals with the phenomenal world ... is a skill so deeply hidden in the human soul that we shall hardly guess the secret trick that Nature here employs.

--Immanuel Kant

The greatest problem for the human species, the solution of which nature compels him to seek, is that of attaining a civil society which can administer justice universally.

--Immanuel Kant

Man's greatest concern is to know how he shall properly fill his place in the universe and correctly understand what he must be in order to be a man.

--Immanuel Kant

I learned to honor human beings, and I would find myself far more useless than the common laborer if I did not believe that this consideration could impart to all others a value establishing the rights of humanity.

--Immanuel Kant

He who would know the world must first manufacture it.

--Immanuel Kant

The public use of one's reason must always be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among men.

--Immanuel Kant

We have no reason for assuming the form of such a thing to be still partly dependent on blind mechanism, for with such confusion of heterogeneous principles every reliable rule for estimating things would disappear.

--Immanuel Kant

For if phenomena are things by themselves, freedom cannot be saved. Nature in that case is the complete and sufficient cause determining every event, and its condition is always contained in that series of phenomena only which, together with their effect, are necessary under the law of nature.

--Immanuel Kant

But freedom is a mere Idea, the objective reality of which can in no wise be shown according to the laws of nature, and consequently not in any possible experience; and for this reason it can never be comprehended or understood, because we cannot support it by any sort of example or analogy.

--Immanuel Kant

Now I say: man and generally any rational being exists as an end in himself, not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by this or that will, but in all his actions, whether they concern himself or other rational beings, must always be regarded at the same time as an end.

--Immanuel Kant

There are such manifold forms of nature; there are many modifications of the general transcendental concepts of nature that are left undetermined by the laws furnished by pure intellect a priori because these laws only concern the general possibility of nature as an object of the senses.

--Immanuel Kant

Happiness is not an ideal of reason but of imagination, resting solely on empirical grounds, and it is vain to expect that these should define an action by which one could attain the totality of a series of consequences which is really endless.

--Immanuel Kant

The infinitude of creation is great enough to make a world, or a Milky Way of worlds, look in comparison with it what a flower or an insect does in comparison with the Earth.

--Immanuel Kant

The sublimity and intrinsic dignity of the command in duty are so much the more evident, the less the subjective impulses favor it and the more they oppose it, without being able in the slightest degree to weaken the obligation of the law or to diminish its validity.

--Immanuel Kant

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