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Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804)


Born Emanuel Kant, was a Prussian philosopher.
Immanuel Kant
Let us suppose there was a teacher of whom an historical record (or, at least, a widespread belief which is not basically disputable) reports that he was the first to expound publicly a pure and searching religion, comprehensible to the whole world. … Suppose that all he did was done even in the face of a dominant ecclesiastical faith which was onerous and not conducive to moral ends (a faith whose perfunctory worship can serve as a type of all the other faiths, at bottom merely statutory, which were current in the world at the time). Suppose, further, we find that he had made this universal religion of reason the highest and indispensable condition of every religious faith whatsoever … and this without further adding to this faith burdensome new ordinances or wishing to transform acts which he had initiated into peculiar holy practices, required in themselves as being constituent elements of religion. After this description one will not fail to recognize the person who can be referenced, not indeed as the founder of the religion which, free from every dogma, is engraved in all men’s hearts (for it does not have its origin in an arbitrary will), but as the founder of the first true church.
Kant quotes
Is it reasonable to assume a purposiveness in all the parts of nature and to deny it to the whole?
Kant
Everyone can see that philosophy can have her belief in a millennium, but her millennarianism is not Utopian, since the Idea can help, though only from afar, to bring the millennium to pass. The only question is: Does Nature reveal anything of a path to this end? And I say: She reveals something, but very little. This great revolution seems to require so long for its completion that the short period during which humanity has been following this course permits us to determine its path and the relation of the parts to the whole with as little certainty as we can determine, from all previous astronomical observation, the path of the sun and his host of satellites among the fixed stars. Yet, on the fundamental premise of the systematic structure of the cosmos and from the little that has been observed, we can confidently infer the reality of such a revolution.
Moreover, human nature is so constituted that we cannot be indifferent to the most remote epoch our race may come to, if only we may expect it with certainty. Such indifference is even less possible for us, since it seems that our own intelligent action may hasten this happy time for our posterity. For that reason, even faint indications of approach to it are very important to us.




Kant Immanuel quotes
With Kant, then, external reality thus drops almost totally out of the picture, and we are trapped inescapably in subjectivity—and that is why Kant is a landmark. Once reason is in principle severed from reality, one then enters a different philosophical universe altogether.
This interpretive point about Kant is crucial and controversial. An analogy may help drive the point home. Suppose a thinker argued the following: 'I am an advocate of freedom for women. Options and the power to choose among them are crucial to our human dignity. And I am wholeheartedly an advocate of women’s human dignity. But we must understand that a scope of a woman’s choice is confined to the kitchen. Beyond the kitchen’s door she must not attempt to exercise choice. Within the kitchen, however, she has a whole feast of choices—whether to cook or clean, whether to cook rice or potatoes, whether to decorate in blue or yellow. She is sovereign and autonomous. And the mark of a good woman is a well-organized and tidy kitchen.' No one would mistake such a 'thinker for an advocate of woman’s freedom. Anyone would point 'out that there is a whole world beyond the kitchen and that 'freedom is essentially about exercising choice about defining and 'creating one’s place in the world as a whole. The key point about Kant, to draw the analogy crudely, is that he prohibits knowledge of anything outside our skulls. He gives reason lots to do within the skull, and he does advocate a well-organized and tidy mind, but this hardly makes him a champion of reason. The point for any advocate of reason is that there is a whole world outside our skulls, and reason is essentially about knowing it. Kant’s contemporary Moses Mendelssohn was thus prescient in identifying Kant as 'the all-destroyer.'
Kant Immanuel
I ought never to act except in such a way that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law.
Immanuel Kant quotes
Even if a civil society were to be dissolved by the consent of all its members (e.g., if a people inhabiting an island decided to separate and disperse throughout the world), the last murderer remaining in prison would first have to be executed, so that each has done to him what his deeds deserve and blood guilt does not cling to the people for not having insisted upon this punishment; for otherwise the people can be regarded as collaborators in his public violation of justice.
Immanuel Kant
The problem of establishing a perfect civic constitution is dependent upon the problem of a lawful external relation among states and cannot be solved without a solution of the latter problem.
Kant Immanuel quotes
Two things fill the heart with renewed and increasing awe and reverence the more often and the more steadily that they are meditated on: the starry skies above me and the moral law inside me.
Kant
A plant, an animal, the regular order of nature — probably also the disposition of the whole universe — give manifest evidence that they are possible only by means of and according to ideas; that, indeed, no one creature, under the individual conditions of its existence, perfectly harmonizes with the idea of the most perfect of its kind — just as little as man with the idea of humanity, which nevertheless he bears in his soul as the archetypal standard of his actions; that, notwithstanding, these ideas are in the highest sense individually, unchangeably, and completely determined, and are the original causes of things; and that the totality of connected objects in the universe is alone fully adequate to that idea.
Kant Immanuel
”Prussia,” remarked Mirabeau, ”is not a state with an army, but an army with a state.” And the state, which was run with the efficiency and soullessness of a factory, became all; the people were little more than cogs in the machinery. Individuals were taught not only by the kings and the drill sergeants but by the philosophers that their role in life was one of obedience, work, sacrifice and duty. Even Kant preached that duty demands the suppression of human feeling…
Immanuel Kant
The innocent sounding First Thesis, taken seriously, forces us to move our attention away from the individual toward humanity. Since there are no limits to the application of reason, and reason does not work instinctively, but requires "trial, practice, and instruction in order to gradually progress from one level of insight to another," individual human beings do not live long enough to learn the full use of reason. However, we find nature setting a short period for individual lives, but producing a series of generations in which each passes its own accomplishments onto its successor. The only way to make the capability of reasoning consistent with the First Thesis is to assume that rationality is to be fully developed only in the race, not in the individual.




Immanuel Kant quotes
The history of mankind can be seen, in the large, as the realization of Nature’s secret plan to bring forth a perfectly constituted state as the only condition in which the capacities of mankind can be fully developed, and also bring forth that external relation among states which is perfectly adequate to this end.
Immanuel Kant
That religion in which I must know in advance that something is a divine command in order to recognize it as my duty, is the revealed religion (or the one standing in need of a revelation); in contrast, that religion in which I must first know that something is my duty before I can accept it as a divine injunction is the natural religion. … When religion is classified not with reference to its first origin and its inner possibility (here it is divided into natural and revealed religion) but with respect to its characteristics which make it capable of being shared widely with others, it can be of two kinds: either the natural religion, of which (once it has arisen) everyone can be convinced through his own reason, or a learned religion, of which one can convince others only through the agency of learning (in and through which they must be guided). … A religion, accordingly, can be natural, and at the same time revealed, when it is so constituted that men could and ought to have discovered it of themselves merely through the use of their reason, although they would not have come upon it so early, or over so wide an area, as is required. Hence a revelation thereof at a given time and in a given place might well be wise and very advantageous to the human race, in that, when once the religion thus introduced is here, and has been made known publicly, everyone can henceforth by himself and with his own reason convince himself of its truth. In this event the religion is objectively a natural religion, though subjectively one that has been revealed.
Kant quotes
[Religion should be] .... successively freed from all statutes based on history, and one purely moral religion rule over all, in order that God might be all in all. The veil must fall. The leading-string of sacred tradition with all its appendices becomes by degrees useless, and at last a fetter … The humiliating difference between laymen and clergymen must disappear, and equality spring from true liberty. All this, however, must not be expected from an exterior revolution, which acts violently, and depends upon fortune In the principle of pure moral ieligion, which is a sort of divine revelation constantly taking place in the soul of man, must be sought the ground for a passage to the new order of things, which will be accomplished by slow and successive reforms.
Kant Immanuel
The guardians who have kindly undertaken the supervision will see to it that by far the largest part of mankind, including the entire "beautiful sex," should consider the step into maturity, not only as difficult but as very dangerous.
After having made their domestic animals dumb and having carefully prevented these quiet creatures from daring to take any step beyond the lead-strings to which they have fastened them, these guardians then show them the danger which threatens them, should they attempt to walk alone.
Kant Immanuel quotes
A public can only arrive at enlightenment slowly. Through revolution, the abandonment of personal despotism may be engendered and the end of profit-seeking and domineering oppression may occur, but never a true reform of the state of mind. Instead, new prejudices, just like the old ones, will serve as the guiding reins of the great, unthinking mass.
All that is required for this enlightenment is freedom; and particularly the least harmful of all that may be called freedom, namely, the freedom for man to make public use of his reason in all matters. But I hear people clamor on all sides: Don't argue! The officer says: Don't argue, drill! The tax collector: Don't argue, pay! The pastor: Don't argue, believe!
Immanuel Kant
Kant's 'discovery' went thus.
Immanuel Kant quotes
A philosophical attempt to work out a universal history according to a natural plan directed to achieving the civic union of the human race must be regarded as possible and, indeed, as contributing to this end of Nature.
Immanuel Kant
There must be a seed of every good thing in the character of men, otherwise no one can bring it out. Lacking that, analogous motives, honor, etc., are substituted. Parents are in the habit of looking out for the inclinations, for the talents and dexterity, perhaps for the disposition of their children, and not at all for their heart or character.
Kant Immanuel
Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.


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