Immanuel Kant

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Immanuel Kant 1724-1804

Immanuel Kant was born on April 22, 1724 in Konigsberg, East Prussia. He was the son of a saddler. At age 8, he entered the Collegium Fredericianum, a Latin school, where he remained for 8 1/2 years and studied the classics. He then entered the University of Konigsberg in 1740 to study philosophy, mathematics, and physics. The death of his father halted his university career so he became a private tutor. In 1755, he returned to Konigsburg where he later resumed his studies. In 1756, he received a degree and was made a lecturer, and in 1770 he became a professor.

Kant felt he had to adhere to a very strict schedule during his years as a professor. He would get up shortly before five in the morning and spent an hour drinking tea, smoking a pipe, and thinking over his day's work. From six to seven he prepared his lecture, which would begin at seven or eight and lasted until nine or ten. After his lecture he would devote himself to writing until the midday meal. He always had company for his midday meal and it would always last several hours because he enjoyed conversation. After the meal he would take a walk for an hour or so and his evenings were devoted to reading and reflection. He would go to bed at ten o'clock. Besides his writings, he became famous for his schedule.

Kant's most striking character trait was probably his moral earnestness and his devotion to the idea of duty. He was a sociable man and was also kindly and benevolent. He was never rich but he was careful in money matters. He regularly assisted a number of poor people. He was a sincere and loyal friend and his conduct was marked by courtesy and respect for others. For 15 years after completing his doctorate he taught at the university where he lectured on science and math, but eventually he expanded his field to cover almost all branches of philosophy. Kant was an amazing orator and was internationally famous for his lectures. His main goal in philosophical courses was to stimulate his listeners to "stand on their own feet" as he put it. He was appointed to a regular chair of philosophy at the University at the age of 46 in 1770. He was made the professor of logics and metaphysics. He came into conflict with Prussia's government due to his unorthodox religious teachings. In 1792, the King of Prussia, Frederick William II, forbade Kant to teach or write on religious teachings. He obeyed the king's order until William II died. In 1798, the year following his retirement from the University, Kant published a summary of his religious views. He died on February 12, 1804. During his lifetime, Kant produced many writings. Scholars usually divide his literary career into two periods: the Pre-critical period and the Critical period. During the Pre-critical period, 1747 to 1781, he wrote many non-fictional works and criticisms. Some of them were "Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living Forces", "On Fire", "A New Explanation of the First Principles of Metaphysical Knowledge", and "On the Forms and Principles of the Sensible and Intelligible World". From 1770 to 1780, he mainly worked on preparing "The Critique of Pure Reason". The Critical period lasted from 1781 to 1794. During this period, he wrote "The Critique of Pure Reason" in 1781, and "Foundation for the Metaphysics of Ethics" in 1785. Following the critical works, Kant published "Critique of Practical Reason", "Critique of Judgment", and "Religion within the Limits of Mere Reason". Three main discussions of Kant are Duty, the Formula of the End, and the Kingdom of Ethics. Kant feels that we act morally when we do our duty, however it is important to distinguish between acting according to duty and acting from duty. Acting according to duty is when someone else has imposed the duty. This is an example of heteronymous will. An example of this is Adolf Eichmann, a German nazi general of WWII, who formulated the 'final solution'. He said that...
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