Kant (1724 - 1804)
Immanuel Kant was
born and raised in Konigsberg, Prussia, now called Kaliningrad,
Russia. He was a man of structure and lived an uneventful life.
He was so structured that people in Konigsberg set their watches
by when they saw Kant walk by each day on his daily walk. He didn't
marry, wasn't ever ill, and never traveled, but was a great thinker.
at a time when philosophy was divided. One group of philosophers
believed that knowledge came from experience, called empiricism.
The other group said that human reason made sense of the world,
called rationalism. Kant tried to bring the two groups
together. He decided to explore how the mind works and what reality
actually is. The result of his thinking was called transcendental
idealism, and was a revolution of thinking.
Kant believed that
no one can say for certain what reality is. They can only be certain
of what reality appears to be to them, because the human mind
molds reality into a form that makes sense to it. Space and time
are "irremovable goggles" and aren't "things"
to be found out in the world. They are only part of the mind's
Kant was a strict
follower of Martin Luther, founder of the Lutheran Church. Kant
believed that it was a moral necessity to believe in God, even
though it was impossible to prove God's existence. He said that
a universal moral law governed all people.
When Kant died
at the age of 80, these words were inscribed on his tomb: "Two
things fill my mind with increasing wonder and awe, the starry
heaven above me and the moral law within me."
Classroom Discussion Questions:
How would Kant answer the question, "What is the meaning of life?"
How does Kant define knowledge?
According to Kant, what determines right and
How would Kant explain why many witnesses to
the same crime have different accounts of the crime? Or how two
people can describe the same situation and tell the story differently?
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