Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was born in Konigsburg, East Prussia. He attended a classical Latin School at age eight where he studied for the next eight years. He then moved to the University of Konigsburg where he studied mathematics, philosophy and physics. He left his studies for a while when his father died and earned a living as a private tutor. In 1755 he returned to the university and earned his doctorate. He became a professor there teaching metaphysics and logic. In 19792, the King of Prussia prohibited Kant from speaking or writing on religious subjects; Kant obeyed the order. As soon as the king dies, five years later, Kant resumed his teaching and writing on religious subjects. He retired from teaching but continued to write until his death in 1804 (The European Graduate School).
Kant is very influential in the study of philosophy. He wrote extensively on metaphysics, ethics and epistemology. Kant sought to answer the question, “What can we know?” (McCormick). Kant, a devout Christian is credited with the quote that he had to “deny knowledge to make room for faith.” (Bernstein 2009). Kant’s views were that we cannot know what transcends the limits of experience (Bernstein 2009). Kant’s critical philosophy states that human autonomy or understanding of the laws of nature structure our experience and human reason gives rise to morality (Rohlf).
The Harvard Law Review (1917) applied Kant’s writings, Critique of Practical Reason, to the study of morals and law. In his work Kant describes two types of morals: legal duties and the doctrine of virtue (Harvard Law Review 1917). Legal duties are those that governed by society and law; doctrine of virtue are the morals we create through our own experiences and conscience (Harvard Law Review 1917).
Kant’s major writings, The Critique of Pure reason, The Critique of Practical Reason and The Critique of the Power of Judgement have been extremely influential on modern philosophy. Scientific knowledge, morality and religious beliefs are all rooted in human autonomy, according to Kant (Rohlf). His arguments against philosophies of the past opened up a new way of thinking and of man’s view and experiences in the world.
Bernstein, Richard. “The Secular-Religious Divide: Kant’s Legacy.” Social Research 76.4 (2009): 1035-1048. Web 13 Jul. 2015
Harvard Law Review. “Kant’s Political and Juridical Doctrine.” 31.1 (1917): 40-56.
McCormick, Matt. “Immanuel Kant.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a Peer Reviewed
Academic Resources. Web 13 Jul. 2014 http://www.iep.utm.edu/kantmeta/
Rohlf, Michael. “Immanuel Kant.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web 13 Jul. 2015
The European Graduate School. “Immanuel Kant-Biography.” 13 Jul 2014. Web 13 Jul 2015