What is life according to Kant

Immanuel Kant: philosopher and thinker

"Have the courage to use your own understanding". With sentences like these, the thinker Immanuel Kant ushered in a turning point in philosophy - the Enlightenment. Read the background here

Profile: Immanuel Kant

Life data: April 22, 1724 to February 12, 1804

Nationality: German

Quote:"Have the courage to use your own understanding."

Do you have to travel the world first to understand it? Immanuel Kant didn't have to. He never left the greater Königsberg area, his home in East Prussia. And still understood the world like hardly anyone before. A good 200 years ago, the strange professor changed philosophy with his ideas.

Immanuel Kant is one of the most important thinkers in history today. With his work "Critique of Pure Reason", he heralded a turning point in philosophy - the Enlightenment.

How Immanuel Kant lived

Immanuel Kant was born on April 22nd, 1724 in Königsberg, former Prussia. At the age of eight he began his teaching at the Friedrichskollegium, later he attended the Albertus University in Königsberg at the age of 16. The young thinker was very interested in the natural sciences and philosophy, some records also say that he briefly studied theology, i.e. the teaching of religion.

As early as 1746, at the age of 22, Kant published his first work, "Thoughts on the True Appreciation of Living Forces". After his father died in the same year, Kant left his hometown and worked as a tutor in what is now northwestern Russia and later in what is now Poland. In 1754 Kant returned to Königsberg to finish his studies. At the same time he was writing his first important work, the "General Natural History and Theory of Heaven", due to which he received a teaching position in Königsberg.

Kant enthusiastically taught the subjects of logic, moral philosophy as well as natural theology, natural law and others. He was particularly interested in metaphysics, which deals with the origin of being beyond physics. After several unsuccessful attempts, in 1770, at the age of 46, he finally got the long-awaited position at the university, where he consequently worked as a professor of logic and metaphysics.

One thing is certain: Hardly any researcher has ever worked in such a disciplined manner. For decades, one day in Kant's life has been similar to another. He was woken up at a quarter to five in the morning. After breakfast - always two cups of tea and a pipe - he prepared for the two-hour lesson, the stroke of seven o'clock began. From nine o'clock people thought about it - until 15 minutes to one.

Then Kant called out to his cook: "It's three quarters!" so that the food was on the table on time. Then they read, then went for a walk, before Kant went to bed at ten o'clock sharp. There was hardly any time for anything else. Kant never got out of Königsberg. Nor did he find a wife - he was too shy.

How Immanuel Kant changed the world

In 1781 Immanuel Kant published his most important work, "Critique of Pure Reason", in which he posed the four essential questions of philosophy: What can I know? What should I do? What can I hope for? And what is man? His search for answers to these questions is called epistemology.

The teaching as well as the writings of Immanuel Kant stimulated a new way of thinking. The famous phrase "Sapere aude" (German: "Have the courage to use your own understanding") brought him on everyone's lips. Kant is therefore also considered a pioneer of the Enlightenment, a philosophical age, because in his writings he called for people to break away from all instructions (like God) and to take responsibility for their own actions. Another famous quote comes from him: "What you don't want someone to do to you - don't do that to anyone else."

He also wrote that there was no evidence of God and that free thinking should be allowed. Rigorous believers, as they were usual for this age, considered his statements to be a degradation of the scriptures and Christianity and forbade him to refer to religion further. Years after his death (1827) his writings were even placed on the list of banned books by the Vatican. But despite increasing bans, Kant did not abandon his approach. He advocated rethinking with more and more new works.

Immanuel Kant died in 1804 at the old age of 80 in his hometown Königsberg. Apparently his last words were "It's good". After his death, many monuments were erected in honor of Kant. The epoch of intellectual history that began at the end of the 17th century - the Enlightenment - can be traced back in particular to Immanuel Kant.

During this time, some states, such as France during the French Revolution, completely reorganized. God-given forms of government such as the monarchy were first called into question. And even today, given the war and terrorist reports around the world, his writings retain great importance.

Immanuel Kant: Famous Quotes

"The ability to use reason to distinguish between right and wrong is innate in all human beings."

"Two things fill the mind with awe: the starry sky above me and the moral law within me."

"What can I know? What can I do?"

"Dare to use your own mind."

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