Early life and education[ edit ] Boas' dissertation: Although his grandparents were observant Jewshis parents embraced Enlightenment values, including their assimilation into modern German society. Boas's parents were educated, well-to-do, and liberal; they did not like dogma of any kind.
His father was a master harness maker, and his mother was the daughter of a harness maker, though she was better educated than most women of her social class. Pietism was an evangelical Lutheran movement that emphasized conversion, reliance on divine grace, the experience of religious emotions, and personal devotion involving regular Bible study, prayer, and introspection.
Leibniz — was then very influential in German universities. But Kant was also exposed to a range of German and British critics of Wolff, and there were strong doses of Aristotelianism and Pietism represented in the philosophy faculty as well.
For the next four decades Kant taught philosophy there, until his retirement from teaching in at the age of seventy-two. Kant had a burst of publishing activity in the years after he returned from working as a private tutor. In and he published three scientific works — one of which, Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavenswas a major book in which, among other things, he developed what later became known as the nebular hypothesis about the formation of the solar system.
Unfortunately, the printer went bankrupt and the book had little immediate impact. To secure qualifications for teaching at the university, Kant also wrote two Latin dissertations: The following year he published another Latin work, The Employment in Natural Philosophy of Metaphysics Combined with Geometry, of Which Sample I Contains the Physical Monadologyin hopes of succeeding Knutzen as associate professor of logic and metaphysics, though Kant failed to secure this position.
Both works depart from Leibniz-Wolffian views, though not radically. Kant held this position from toduring which period he would lecture an average of twenty hours per week on logic, metaphysics, and ethics, as well as mathematics, physics, and physical geography.
In his lectures Kant used textbooks by Wolffian authors such as Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten — and Georg Friedrich Meier —but he followed them loosely and used them to structure his own reflections, which drew on a wide range of ideas of contemporary interest.
These ideas often stemmed from British sentimentalist philosophers such as David Hume — and Francis Hutcheson —some of whose texts were translated into German in the mids; and from the Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau —who published a flurry of works in the early s. From early in his career Kant was a popular and successful lecturer.
After several years of relative quiet, Kant unleashed another burst of publications in —, including five philosophical works. The False Subtlety of the Four Syllogistic Figures rehearses criticisms of Aristotelian logic that were developed by other German philosophers.
The book attracted several positive and some negative reviews.
The Prize Essay draws on British sources to criticize German rationalism in two respects: In Negative Magnitudes Kant also argues that the morality of an action is a function of the internal forces that motivate one to act, rather than of the external physical actions or their consequences.
Finally, Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime deals mainly with alleged differences in the tastes of men and women and of people from different cultures. After it was published, Kant filled his own interleaved copy of this book with often unrelated handwritten remarks, many of which reflect the deep influence of Rousseau on his thinking about moral philosophy in the mids.
These works helped to secure Kant a broader reputation in Germany, but for the most part they were not strikingly original. While some of his early works tend to emphasize rationalist ideas, others have a more empiricist emphasis. During this time Kant was striving to work out an independent position, but before the s his views remained fluid.
In Kant published his first work concerned with the possibility of metaphysics, which later became a central topic of his mature philosophy. Inat the age of forty-six, Kant was appointed to the chair in logic and metaphysics at the Albertina, after teaching for fifteen years as an unsalaried lecturer and working since as a sublibrarian to supplement his income.
Kant was turned down for the same position in In order to inaugurate his new position, Kant also wrote one more Latin dissertation: Inspired by Crusius and the Swiss natural philosopher Johann Heinrich Lambert —Kant distinguishes between two fundamental powers of cognition, sensibility and understanding intelligencewhere the Leibniz-Wolffians regarded understanding intellect as the only fundamental power.
Moreover, as the title of the Inaugural Dissertation indicates, Kant argues that sensibility and understanding are directed at two different worlds: The Inaugural Dissertation thus develops a form of Platonism; and it rejects the view of British sentimentalists that moral judgments are based on feelings of pleasure or pain, since Kant now holds that moral judgments are based on pure understanding alone.
After Kant never surrendered the views that sensibility and understanding are distinct powers of cognition, that space and time are subjective forms of human sensibility, and that moral judgments are based on pure understanding or reason alone. But his embrace of Platonism in the Inaugural Dissertation was short-lived.
He soon denied that our understanding is capable of insight into an intelligible world, which cleared the path toward his mature position in the Critique of Pure Reasonaccording to which the understanding like sensibility supplies forms that structure our experience of the sensible world, to which human knowledge is limited, while the intelligible or noumenal world is strictly unknowable to us.
Kant spent a decade working on the Critique of Pure Reason and published nothing else of significance between and Kant also published a number of important essays in this period, including Idea for a Universal History With a Cosmopolitan Aim and Conjectural Beginning of Human Historyhis main contributions to the philosophy of history; An Answer to the Question: Jacobi — accused the recently deceased G.
Lessing — of Spinozism. With these works Kant secured international fame and came to dominate German philosophy in the late s. But in he announced that the Critique of the Power of Judgment brought his critical enterprise to an end 5: In his chair at Jena passed to J.
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