Kant, Immanuel

[ (kahnt, kant) ]

An eighteenth-century German philosopher; one of the leading philosophers of modern times. His views are called the Critical Philosophy, and his three best-known works are Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Practical Reason, and Critique of Judgment.

Kant was troubled because metaphysics had not arrived at acceptable answers on important concerns, particularly God (whether there is one), the soul (whether it lives on after death), and the world as a whole (whether people can act freely in the world, or whether its laws determine all their actions). He maintained that the first step in getting any answers in these areas was to investigate the limits of human understanding and reasoning; this investigation was what he called a critique.

Notes for Kant, Immanuel

Kant held that we cannot know a thing-in-itself as it is, but only as our mind constitutes it. He asserted that while no one can understand God, the soul, or the world in the way we understand things in nature, we must believe in God, in immortality, and in free will.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.