Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Short Summary: Immanuel Kant - History of Philosophy

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) felt it was essential to preserve religion (Was Christian.) He was also a professor of philosophy, so he knew something about the past. Everybody was concerned with “What can we know about the world?” There are two possibilities: how we sense it, and how we reason it. Certain conditions govern the mind’s operation which influence the way we experience the world, certain conditions in the human mind contribute to our conception of the world. We can not “take off” the glasses of time&space. These are our modes of perception, not actual physical attributes, necessarily.

The mind according to Kant conforms to things, but things also conform to the mind. Human reason sees everything as cause&effect. “And things as they appear to us” – ‘the thing in itself’ vs. ‘the thing for me.’  We can say how things will be perceived by the human mind. material knowledge – external conditions perceived through senses.
form of knowledge – through time, space and causality.
The mind’s glasses set limits on what we can know. So, we can’t answer the big question! Attribute of human reason to ask, “Where do we come from?” But it is impossible for us to know since we are one tiny part of the universe. On these questions, Kant says there will always be two opposing views. We can’t prove God. But humans should have faith. It’s essential to believe in the immortal soul, God and free will. (These are practical postulates to accept w/o proof.) We can never understand ourselves or the universe completely. Ethics – believed the difference between right and wrong was inherent in human reason. Moral law – since we have reason to distinguish between right and wrong before we are born, acting morally is a categorical imperative. Universal Law of Nature – Do as you’d want everyone else to do in your situation. Treat people not just as means, but as an end also. We can’t prove what our conscience tells us, but we do indeed know it. Only when you do something out of duty can it be a moral action. The consequence of an action does not determine whether it was right or not. Animals don’t have freedom to follow moral law. We have no freedom if we only listen to our senses. Obey universal reason also – free Kant’s law of morals is conscience.

See also: Kant's categorical imperative

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