Immanuel Kant: biography of this important German philosopher

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher whose name did not go unnoticed, for his thought was of great relevance to Western philosophy.

He is considered to be the great enlightened thinker of Germany and, in fact, it has been claimed that all pre-Kantian philosophy is old, that he is the one who spawned a veritable philosophical revolution in his time.

Let’s see who this thinker was and what to write about this biography of Emmanuel Kant in summary format.

    Short biography of Emmanuel Kant

    Immanuel Kant was born on April 22, 1724 in Königsberg, Germany (now Kaliningrad, Russia) to a modest family of Scottish descent. His education was strongly based on Lutheran pietism, professed by his mother. That is why young Emmanuel studied at Collegium Fridericianum, Pietist institution where he would leave with a good knowledge of the classical language and culture.

    Later, in 1740, he enrolled at university, where he received lessons in Newtonian physics and mathematics, which inspired him to do his first work nine years later: Gedanken von der Wahren Schätzung der lebendigen Kräfte (“Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living Forces”).

    After the death of his father, Immanuel Kant was forced to make a living teaching at home to the children of wealthy families during the period between 1746 and 1754. Thanks to having acquired the diploma of free teacher, he began to teach various subjects, among which one can find exact sciences such as mathematics and physics, as well as others related to philosophy such as its history, its logic and its morality.

    Teaching and early writings

    In 1755, he obtained his doctorate with his thesis Meditationum quarundam de igne succinta delineatio (“Brief sketch of some meditations on fire”), then free teaching with the dissertation Principiorum primorum cognitionis metaphysicae nova dilucidatio (“New elucidation of first principles of metaphysical knowledge “)

    It would also be at this time that he would publish, anonymously, his “Universal History of Nature and Theory of the Sky”. In this work he presented his theses on the formation of the solar system, which would have formed from an original nebula. Although it did not have much repercussion in its initial moment, later the Laplace physicist in 1796 would raise something similar, which was later dubbed as the Kant-Laplace hypothesis.

    The year 1769 is a key year in Kantian thought for, although he had already written his first texts, it was from this year that he began to produce several works in which he criticized the paths taken by the philosophy of his time, daring to comment on some of the greatest thinkers of the moment. It is for this reason that this year is considered the dividing line between two moments in his career as a writer and thinker.

    Earlier this year, we talked about the pre-critical period, during which he did work that spoke of metaphysics, but without being overly critical. Then comes the critical stage, in which he is already the author of the great works for which he is known, such as “Critique of Pure Reason” or “What is Enlightenment?”.

    A year later, in 1770, the university of his birthplace, Königsberg, welcomed him as a professor at the chair of logic and metaphysics, By giving it economic and academic security by gaining a more or less fixed place. In addition to being a great teacher and being much appreciated by his students, Kant devoted himself with great care to the development of new writings.

    last years

    Always prolific, Kant’s life is not precisely that of someone who has traveled a lot. He spent most of his life in Königsberg and, indeed, it was in this Prussian city that he died of complications from arteriosclerosis on the night of February 12, 1804, having acquired the reputation of being the highest representative of the German Enlightenment.

    As an anecdote of his life, or rather the end of his life, being already decrepit, almost blind and without a very good memory, which he said, already seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps half delusional, maybe already accept the time to leave, the words “it’s good” in German. Then he would say “Genug” (“enough is enough”) and breathe out his last breath.

    Although his death took place in 1804, several decades later, between 1879 and 1881, a harvest was made to build a chapel, as a monument. currently Kant’s tomb is located outside the present-day Kaliningrad Cathedral, On the Pregolya river. It is one of the few German monuments preserved by the Soviets after the conquest of the city and its annexation in 1945. The previous tomb had been destroyed the same year due to Russian bombardments.

      main works

      It is not possible to speak of Kant’s life without mentioning the titles of his works., Which, without a doubt, have had a great impact on Western thought. These works can be included in the two periods mentioned above.

      In the pre-critical phase we have: The only possible basis for a demonstration of the existence of God (1762) The dreams of a visionary told by the dreams of metaphysics (1766) Observations on the feeling of beauty and sublime (1764)

      In its critical phase, we have:

      • Critique of Pure Reason (1781)
      • Prolegomena to all future metaphysics (1783)
      • Idea of ​​a universal history in the cosmopolitan sense (1784)
      • What is enlightenment? (1784)
      • Critique of practical reason (1785)
      • Critique of Judgment (1790)
      • Religion within the limits of reason (1793)
      • Perpetual Peace (1795)
      • Dispute between the faculties (1797
      • Anthropology in the pragmatic sense (1800)
      • Logic (1800)

      philosophical thought

      Among the various works mentioned above, his “Critique of Reason” is considered one, if not the most important, of Kantian works and of great repercussion in European thought.. In addition, we have “Critique of Practical Reason” and, in addition, we must talk about its conception of law and the State.

      1. Critique of pure reason

      In “Critique of Pure Reason”, Immanuel Kant wonders if it is possible that metaphysics, currently considered to be purely philosophical, becomes a scientific discipline. In his opinion, the conception and treatment that metaphysics had received made of it something which, until now, had no firm foundation..

      In order to be able to advance in this aspect and to arrive, one day, in such a metaphysics to become something scientific, it becomes necessary to proceed to a critique of reason, by means of which the conditions of possibility and the limits of validity of the intellectual capacity of the human being in the different fields of mental activity.

      This work was first published in 1781, although its second edition, from 1787, included many modifications. It is considered a fundamental stage in the history of Western philosophy, because its approach is a synthesis between two philosophical aspects of great importance at the time: empiricism and rationalism.

      These two trends were confronted with the fact that the way in which human beings acquire knowledge was conceived.. While empiricism was based on the idea that knowledge could be obtained by sensations, that is, by external impressions, rationalism held that general rules could be found by reason.

      From the publication of the “Critique of Pure Reason”, the idea arises that there is no sense in asking the problem of human knowledge, without first asking what is the limit of this knowledge. , limit which is determined by the very nature of the human being. Beyond such a limit, it is impossible to know more.

      2. Critique of practical reason

      The “Critique of the practical reason “, whose importance is comparable to that of the previous work, and was published in 1788, it is the most important work of Kantian thought in matters of morality.

      It is a question of determining the nature of the moral law. The obligation becomes a law which reason imposes on the will. Respect for this law is established as the sole ground for action.

      3. The law and the state

      Law is the aspect of human society which aims to establish the conditions allowing all human beings who make up a society to have a particular freedom but to respect that of others. In the game, approaches individual freedom in such a way that it contributed to the constitution of what would later be called legal positivism.

      Kant speaks of the State as something which is constituted by the agreement of wills embodied in the laws. Laws, which should be fixed by the majority, are a legal convention: whoever obeys them is in the law, who is not, is outside. Any conduct that is dissident or contrary to these laws is interpreted as conduct that does not comply with the law.

      Bibliographical references:

      • García-Morente, M. (1917). Kant’s philosophy. An introduction to philosophy. Madrid, Spain.
      • Martin, G. (1961). Kant. Ontology and epistemology. Cordoba, Argentina. National University.
      • CCG (sf). Immanuel Kant. biographies mcn. Retrieved from

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