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The contribution of Immanuel Kant to the modern philosophy made him be considered as one of the greatest and the most remarkable philosophers existed in the 18th century. His ideas on the transcendental idealism, opposition to skepticism and ideas about metaphysics gained him a niche in the world of philosophy. Born in Konisberg, Kant showed great interest in academics and learning.
His work was influenced by significant historical movements in philosophy – Empiricism and Rationalism – that took place in the 18th century. (Guyer,2010) He found and addressed all the gaps in the contents and arguments of the empiricists and rationalists. It is also believed that his “philosophical awakening and reasoning” emerged after studying the works of a Scottish philosopher Hume. (Guyer, 2010)
Transcendental idealism is one of the major beliefs that Kant postulated in his philosophical approaches. Kant claimed that human beings focused too much on appearance but not on their feelings and their inner world (Guyer, 2010). He ascertained that space and time were only immanent forms of human hunch. To advance that reasoning, Kant referred to it as “transcendental idealism”. (Guyer, 2010)
In his view, Kant appreciated that one’s experience of some phenomenon in life was based on how such things appeared to the individual, but not on the way the things precisely were. He based his approach on the acknowledgement of a priori mental function (Guyer, 2010). The appearance of these spectacles, according to Kant, existed outside nature.
Kant and Empiricism
Empiricists like John Locke argued that knowledge was gained through our senses. John Locke, for instance, posited that human beings were born as blank slates (Allison, 1983). The senses synthesize everything the one is exposed to, leading to learning. Dismissing this theory, he argued that it was deficient in explaining the beliefs an individual had on the objects he/she possessed. In fact, philosopher proposed that portions of the belief came through experience that the mind of an individual had undergone (Guyer, 2010)
Kant and rationalism
Kant rebutted the ideas of Descartes on rationalism. Descartes argued that an individual could actually extrapolate the existence of objects outside him/her, basing them on knowledge of his own existence. However, Kant strongly rejected this reasoning. External objects, according to him, could not be known through inference.
Kant and moral philosophy
Kant argued that moral responsibilities were based on “categorical Imperative”, meaning that an immoral individual breached the “categorical Imperative”. (Guyer, 2010)
He immensely contributed to the philosophical understanding of ethics. Kant posited that actions could either be moral or immoral. In such a case, the morality could only be deduced from the motive of an action but not from its consequence. He further asserted that only motives dowered actions with moral value arising from universal principles discovered by reason.
This was in contrast with the utilitarianism view of actions. The utilitarianism school of thought laid emphasis on the outcome of actions and not on the objectives. Kant objected to that belief, saying that the utilitarian theories focused entirely on the end result of actions, ignoring the initial goals. Moreover, utilitarianism is motivated by human spectacles and happiness. It ignores the role of reasoning to an individual.
In summary, Kant immensely contributed to modern philosophy; he bridged the rationalists’ school of thought to the empiricists reasoning and outlined the difference between how things were and how we perceived them. Due to his work, philosophers have established a distinct difference between Empiricism and Rationalism.
Allison, H. E. (1983). Kant’s transcendental idealism: an interpretation and defense. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Guyer, P. (2010). The Cambridge companion to Kant’s Critique of pure reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.