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The Philosophy by Immanuel Kant Essay

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Updated: Mar 7th, 2022

Philosophy is a very difficult science to understand without studying it properly. It is not enough just to read philosophical works, they must be studied and understood, only in this way it is possible to enter the philosophical world, to comprehend it in a full volume. The great philosopher of his time Immanuel Kant still has an influence in the world philosophical thought and his works are still valid, in spite of the fact that he lived and wrote in the XVIII century. Kant’s great thoughts are still discussed in the world, his theories still work and it is impossible to reject his great contribution to ethical philosophy.

Immanuel Kant was born on the twenty-second of April, 1724 in Königsberg in a big family with ten brothers and sisters. His parents were notable people: his father was a craftsman and his mother, having come out of a famous family, had an excellent education, considering the fact that it was inappropriate for women to be well-educated. Since the very6 childhood, Kant was influenced by the surrounding environment. The city he lived in was the center of the province. So, the whole political, military, economical, literary and religious life was concentrated there. The culture in the city was on a high level and being isolated from other literature centers, influenced the desire for intellectual growth. (Stuckenberg 2009)

Due to the fact that his mother was well-educated, she did her best to impart her love for knowledge to her son. The principles of morality, peace, and piety were cultivated in Immanuel since his childhood, and these principles were inserted into his philosophical tractates. His first works were superior moral ones, because of the influence on him by his upbringing. On the other hand, there was noting notable or extraordinary in Kant’s youth. (Stuckenberg 2009)

Childhood and youth of the philosopher were the most crucial parts of his life as they were periods when his consciousness was formed, when his tastes and ideas were constructed, in spite of the fact that he did not understand that, it was on the subconscious level.

Kant’s works are multi-thematic, it is impossible to divide his life into periods according to the themes of his works, but still, the number of his works may be divided into several themes (periods): a mathematical, a physical, a metaphysical, and an ethical period.

Ethics is one of the oldest disciplines, the object of which is morality. Considering the problem of ethics in Kant’s works it is impossible to avoid the fact that the problem of ethics was considered at different times by Aristotle, Spinoza, Marks, and others and the interest in this subject does not reduce for so many years. The works by Kant about ethics are the most significant in this sphere of knowledge. Between the classics of German philosophy, Kant paid much more attention to specifics of morality and his ethical conception, logically developed in the number of his specific works, was the most worked out, systematic and finished.

Reading Kant’s work “To Perpetual Peace”, it is impossible not to notice Kant’s doctrine of publicity. Kant offers one formula, which, according to his opinion, should be used in international and national arenas in order to provide peace. He insists that “All actions that affect the rights of the men are wrong if their maxim is not considered with publicity” (Kant 2003-37). This phrase may be considered from several sides (e.g. judicial as the human rights are mentioned), but the main aspect is its ethical nature. The mentioned principle is called the transcendental formula.

Dwelling upon the similar theme, Kant notices that ”All maxims that require publicity (in order not to fail of their end) agree with both politics and morality” (Kant 2003-41). These two Kant’s principles just underline the principles of morality, which should exist in every society. Society is the main follower of moral ethics. If some person does what he/she wants without considering the consequences and without considering whether society agrees to recognize that action as moral, so the person has followed all ethical rules, which were required from him/her. If the person refuses to inform society about the actions or if they do not correspond to moral status in the society, the person cannot be considered as ethically right.

Kant’s consideration is that every person should be accountable to ethical and moral norms which exist in the whole society. The nation is not one single person, it is the group of people who follow similar ethical rules. If every person in the society may be named “moral person” (Kant 2003-48), so the whole society may be considered ethical and moral.

Kant’s work “Metaphysics of Morals” focuses on the fundamental issue of morality. The essence of duty is, according to Kant, for the first, is the responsibility before himself or herself.

A human being has a duty to raise himself from the crude state of his nature, from his animality, more and more toward humanity, by which he alone is capable of setting himself ends: he has a duty to diminish his ignorance by instruction and to correct his errors. (Kant 1996-151)

Studying Kant’s understanding of the duty, it becomes visible that moral behavior requires not just the practical realization of the duty, but practical performance. Morality and duty are closely interconnected in Kant’s works. It seems that if some person does something for the good of the other person, at the same time what contradicts his/her own goods, this means that this person is on the highest level of morality. Kant is right when says that the moral imperative requires providing people with the necessary help, but does not make them love these people for that help. It is impossible to say that you must love your neighbor. It may be agreed that the feeling of duty as if exclude the feeling of love. But it is impossible to agree with Kant’s consideration that love and duty may never coincide as pure humanization requires love to all people.

So, the ethics of Kant is based on the feeling of morality in the whole society. Moral people have their duty, first of all before themselves and then before the whole society, as morality should be understood by the whole society in order to be ethically confirmed. Kant’s ethical theories are one of the strongest principles which were popular during his time and his works still continue to be studied and discussed in the modern world. Kant’s philosophical principles hide a lot of sense which is impossible to understand from one reading.

Works Cited

Kant, Immanuel. The metaphysics of morals. Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Kant, Immanuel. To perpetual peace: a philosophical sketch. Hackett Publishing, 2003.

Stuckenberg, J. H. The Life of Immanuel Kant. BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2009.

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