Philosophies of Immanuel Kant Jessica A. Moore Texas State University

Philosophies of Kant 2 Abstract Immanuel Kant was considered one of the foremost thinkers of the Enlightenment. Educated by the theories of David Hume and German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Kant went on to postulate his own theories on sensory experience and categories of thought. Kant would later reject the tenets of his teachers and form his own philosophy stating that human perception provides the only possible description of reality. . Kant¶s theory would represent a ³Copernican revolution´ in philosophy.

contributed significantly to future students of German rationalist psychology and philosophy ± most significantly through his discussions of categories of thought. 2009) Kant.His early studies of German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. totality. possibility. Included in Kant¶s list of a priori pure concepts are ³unity. He was considered one of the foremost thinkers of the Enlightenment and one of the greatest philosophers of all time (Britannica. impossibility. unified mind that displays various attributes. Kant¶s Theory of categories of thought is the concept that the mind must add something to sensory data before knowledge can be attained. which are constantly interacting. time. everything that we experience has been modified by the concepts of the mind and rendered more meaningful than it would have originally been. or capabilities of faculty. 1975). and existence-nonexistence. cause and effect. quantity. This addition to sensory data was provided by the a priori or ³innate´ categories of thought. Though Kant¶s initial argument was of a somewhat mental nature. who pinpointed the central nervous system as the interface between physical objects and consciousness (p.Philosophies of Kant 3 Immanuel Kant was born in Konigsberg. like many faculty psychologists. According to this theory. are assigned no particular home or location in the mind (which is viewed as distinct from the brain).´ (Hergenhahn. quality. 236) ± arguing that the body¶s nerves are subject to ³specific irritability´ or types of stimulation. believed that man is gifted with a single. Prussia (the modern-day Russian exclave known as Kaliningrad) in April 1724.This line of thinking . These attributes. and later fascination with British philosopher David Hume. negation. reality. it later was echoed in physiological terms by Johannes Muller. which categorizes sensory signals to the brain. space.

rather than µtranscendentally¶´ (Wilson. suggesting that hetreated the senses as a lesser mode of cognition which was only able to distort and confuse representations of reason.´ Though Kant was an early disciple of Leibniz. he grew to rejectLeibniz¶s works. was a result of 4 .´Kant disagreed with Leibniz¶s views of the senses. they held very different views on the causes of mental experience. Like Hume. 2009) With this theory of a single cognitive faculty. Kant¶s complaint of this theory was that it treated ³perception and thought as a single representational faculty that was µlogically¶ (by which Kant meant µqualitatively¶) distinguished in terms of the clarity of the representation. One of Leibniz¶s major tenets. Though Kant agreed with Hume in that we can never directly experience the physical world.Philosophies of Kant paved the way for later Gestaltian psychologists. the world that man perceives is never precisely the same as the world that he is able to experience through his five senses. Kant criticized that Leibniz negated the distinction of phenomena and noumena to the ³detriment of philosophy. due to the subjective filter of the mind. Kant held the belief that our phenomenological experience (experience based on the premise that reality consists of objects and events as they are perceived or understood in human consciousness and not of anything independent of human consciousness). Kant explained the difference between these two worlds as the result of several ³a priori´ ± or innate ± categories of thought. for whom Kant¶s ³faculties of the mind´ concept could be neatly overlaid with notions ³characteristics of the brain. which existed independently of the senses and helped to organize and give meaning to sensory data. also known as ³Leibniz's law´ received a great deal of criticism from Kant. The Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles. Kant agreed that mankind could never experience the world ± or the inputs of his own senses ± with certainty. In other words.

Hume believed that human action is all that is warranted. Hegel answered it by postulating that the purpose of innate categories of thought is to bring man closer to the Absolute ± thus phrasing the issue in somewhat spiritual terms.Philosophies of Kant an interaction between sensory input and categories of thought. summarized: True knowledge can never be attained by examining isolated instances of anything. both Kant and Hume agreed that moral thoughts motivate action." As humans. we can only know phenomena as they are arranged and modified by the categories of thought. Truth was paramount. and that 5 . the combination of which was arranged by imagination or the laws of association. which he termed ³the absolute. another great philosopher of Kant¶s time. and that the human mind created the universe as we experience it. we will always be ignorant of noumena. Kant and Hume also seem to agree that feelings. And for Hegel. or "things-in-themselves.´ Hegel¶s argument. According to Kant. but added to categories of thought a single. unless those instances are related to the whole ± because the nature of the part is changed when it is separated from the whole. saw the universe as an interrelated unity. motivate action. and therefore can¶t be understood in its entire truth. Hegel accepted Kant¶s philosophy in its entirety. On the topic of morality. He believed that when scientists described the physical world. our cognizance contained only impressions and ideas. According to Kant this interaction was unavoidable.For Hume. Georg Wilhem Friedrich Hegel. as Muller had phrased it in physiological terms. objects which construct reality are called noumena. essential question: why do the categories of thought exist? Kant had never posed this question. especially pleasure and pain. they were actually describing the human mind.

¶ to actions done µfrom duty. Like Plato. 2011) According to Hume. The idea that reality cannot ever be perceived by the human mind is very similar to Plato's Theory of Forms. and that 6 . morals and respect for the law are an addition to his a priori theory. Kant¶s view of human action however. Though Plato's Theory of Forms and Kant's theory of how sensation interacts with categories of thought are very similar. goes one step further to explain that reality is not skewed by human perception. no action could be virtuous unless in human nature. there was some motive to produce the act. Kant realizes that human perception interferes with noumena. Kant asserts that though human perception is influenced by categories of thought. Human feelings that Kant sees as being essential to moral motivation are grounded in reason. The material world known to humans through sensation is merely a representation of reality and can never be perceived in pure form as perception interferes with the Form's perfect reality. or Forms. unless a person was devoid of natural feelings which prompt one to act morally. In this case that person may feel humility and act in attempts to change their conduct or character. Hume would have rejected Kant¶s ³attribution of a special moral value. but rather human perception defines reality. µmoral worth. and as such give humans an indirect sense of duty to develop genuine (yet conditional) moral value. their theory of reality could not be more opposed. The Theory of Forms argues that everything in the empirical world exists as a non-material abstract "form. Hume theorized that any act of virtue or goodness did not exist." or idea. Kant however. while reason took a secondary position to passion.¶´ (Denis. To Kant. differs in that his belief of human action is that it is based in reason. human feelings such as sympathy.Philosophies of Kant passion took the leading role when directing action.

It was Kant himself who claimed that his assertions that the human mind was the center of the universe created a "Copernican revolution" in philosophy. This new philosophy was likened to the revolution in astronomy created when Nicolaus Copernicus discerned that the earth was not the center of the universe. Kant's belief that the human mind acted as the center of the universe became a revolutionary idea in philosophy. 7 .Philosophies of Kant though humans will always be ignorant of noumena. our perception is what creates reality.

Retrieved April 22.d. Theory of Forms. (2009).R. from http://en. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2011 Edition). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2009 Edition).). Edward N.( Catherine.stanford. Zalta (ed. Edward N.wikipedia.. from http://en. URL = http://plato. Wadsworth Pub Co. from http://plato.Retrieved April>. 2011.)In Wikipedia.wikipedia. Zalta ( An introduction to the history of psychology.)In Wikipedia.).(n. Wilson. "Leibniz's Influence on Kant".Philosophies of Kant References 8 Denis. Identity of Indiscernables. Hergenhahn.stanford. Lara. "Kant and Hume on Morality". B. 2011.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer: Get 4 months of Scribd and The New York Times for just $1.87 per week!

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times