Which thinkers influenced you the most


Kant, Immanuel

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curriculum vitae

Born: April 22, 1724 in Koenigsberg
Died: February 12, 1804 in Koenigsberg

Kant was born as the fourth of nine children of a saddler and belt cutter in Königsberg. His mother was a devout Protestant who was exceptionally educated for the circumstances at the time and who took great care of Immanuel's upbringing. It was thanks to her that Kant was able to attend high school and eventually study.
At the age of 16, Kant came to the University of Königsberg. According to his late mother's wishes, he was supposed to study theology, but was quickly fascinated by philosophy, mathematics and natural sciences. After completing his studies, Kant initially worked - like many philosophers of his time - as a private tutor. From 1755 he was a private lecturer at the University of Königsberg, but not until 1770 as a full professor. In 1781 Kant published his now famous “Critique of Pure Reason”. In 1787 he was accepted into the Berlin Academy of Sciences.
At the time of his death, Kant was a widely respected and honored philosopher.


Kant is arguably the most important thinker of the German Enlightenment with his critical approach. With his fundamental works - the so-called reviews - he revolutionized philosophical thinking. Kant himself spoke of a “Copernican turn” that philosophical thought experienced with him. Even today, Kant is the most widely read and treated philosopher. This can be seen in more than 1000 monographs and collections of articles that appeared in 2004, the 200th year he died.

Teaching and Thought

In his thinking Kant was influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment, which he himself once called "The outcome of a person from his or her self-inflicted immaturity" designated.
So he made it his life's task to examine the conditions and foundations of our knowledge and our actions as free people. “Have the courage to use your own understanding!” Is one of his much-cited guiding principles.

He was called an “all-crusher” because the results of his examination destroyed the previous philosophical “truths”. Kant exposed most of the attempts of the philosophers as mere speculations of reason, which does not yet know its limits and therefore believes it can make certain statements about God, the soul and the world. Kant worked out that our reason cannot say anything with certainty about things beyond our experience and that our picture of reality is always already determined by innate prerequisites in our mind.

In ethics, too, when it comes to the question “What should we do?”, Kant shows that all moral rules and regulations are always controversial because they are based on experiences that another person may not have had at all. That is why Kant is looking for an inner law with which every person can make a decision about which action is moral through his reason alone. This is how he finds his famous categorical imperative:
"Act only according to the maxim by which you can at the same time want it to become a general law." (Kant: Basis for the Metaphysics of Morals)
By asking about the conditions that make our knowledge and our actions possible in the first place, Kant introduces a critical principle into philosophy that is still the yardstick for reasonable thinking today.

Major works by Immanuel Kant

"Critique of Pure Reason" (1781/1787)
Immanuel Kant:Critique of Pure Reason. After the first and second orig. ed. v. Jens Timmermann. Hamburg: Mine 2003.
Ralf Ludwig:Kant for beginners. Critique of Pure Reason. An introduction to reading. Munich: dtv 1995

"Foundation for the Metaphysics of Morals" (1785)
Immanuel Kant:Basis on the metaphysics of ethics. Comment v. Christoph Horn, Corinna Mieth and Nico Scarano. Frankfurt / M .: Suhrkamp 2007.
Immanuel Kant:Basis on the metaphysics of ethics. Ed., Incorporated. u. v. Jens Timmermann. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2004.

"Critique of Practical Reason" (1788)
Immanuel Kant:Critique of Practical Reason. Edited by Otfried Höffe. (Series classics interpret) Berlin: Akademie-Verlag 2002.

"Critique of Judgment" (1790)
Immanuel Kant: Critique of Judgement. Edited by Gerhard Lehmann. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1986.
Ludwig, Ralf (Ed.): Kant for beginners. The Critique of Judgment. An introduction to reading. Munich: dtv, 2008.

"To Eternal Peace" (1795)
Immanuel Kant:To eternal peace. Edited by Otfried Höffe. (Interpret series classics) Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 2. durchges. 2004 edition.

About Immanuel Kant

Steffen Dietzsch:Immanuel Kant. A biography. Leipzig: Reclam 2004.

Otfried Höffe: Immanuel Kant. Munich: Beck, 7th edition 2007.

Ernst R. Sandvoss:Immanuel Kant. Life, work, effect. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1983.

Source: Ernst Klett Verlag GmbH
Location: Stuttgart
Source date: 2009