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Kant, Immanuel

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stamp for 250 years of birth of Immanuel Kant ...

Stamp for 250 years of birth of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) via Wikipedia

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was a highly influential German philosopher, born in Königsberg. He was Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at Königsberg in 1770.

Kant believed that knowledge of worldly things depends on certain conditions that he called the “forms of intuition” (i.e. space and time) and, more specifically, what he called the “categories of understanding“–e.g. “cause”, “substance”, “unity”, “necessity.”

But this type of knowing only applies to one’s perception or, as Kant put it, “apprehension” of the world. We cannot know anything about the character and quality of the world as it truly exists in itself.

Kant calls things in themselves “noumena.” And he calls the perceived world, which may be known as we apprehend it, “phenomena.”

Despite Kant’s belief that we cannot know about the true character and quality of the noumenal world, we can, he claims, be certain that it exists because the phenomenal world depends on it.

Kant’s main contribution to ethics is his notion of the “categorical imperative.” Put simply, the categorical imperative means that we should do those actions that are morally good in every circumstance.

Kant’s logic appears to disprove previous arguments for the existence of God. We should stress here that Kant does not claim to have disproved the existence of God. He only challenges the validity of previous arguments about God’s existence. In fact, Kant’s Moral Argument for God argues that God must exist in order to deliver pure justice in an afterlife, since justice is so rarely served in this life.

Kant also devised a distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions. Analytic propositions are said to contain the predicate in the subject. Synthetic propositions do not contain the predicate in the subject. An example of an analytic proposition is, “All squares have four sides.” An example of a synthetic proposition is, “All men are athletic.”

Willard Quine and others have challenged Kant’s analytic/synthetic distinction.

Related Posts » Mill (John Stuart), Numinous, Science, Suffering, Unconscious

 

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