Biography of Immanuel Kant


IMMANUEL KANT, one of the greatest and most influential metaphysicians of all time, was the son of a saddler of Scotch descent, and was born at Konigsburg, Prussia, on the 22nd of April, 1724. He was educated at the university of his native town, and after spending some years as a private tutor, took his degree at Konigsberg, in 1755, and began to deliver productions on logic, metaphysics, natural philosophy, and mathematics. In 1762, he was offered, but declined, the chair of poetry, and in 1770 he was appointed professor of logic and metaphysics. He died on the 12th of February, 1804. Kant's private life was uneventful, yet curious, and almost ludicrous in its mechanical regularity. As Socrates could hardly be induced to go beyond the wails of Athens, so Kant clung with oyster-like tenacity to the city of his birth, never leaving it during the thirty years of his professorship. He remained a bachelor all his life. Kant was a man of unimpeachable veracity and honor, austere, even, in his principles of morality, though kindly and courteous in manner, a bold and fearless advocate of political liberty, and a firm believer in human progress. The investigations by which he achieved the reputation of a reformer in philosophy, refer not so much to particular sections or problems of that science as to its principles and limits. The central point of his system is found in the proposition, that before anything can be determined concerning the objects of cognition, the faculty of cognition itself, and the sources af knowledge lying therein, must be subjected to a critical examination. Locke's psychology, indeed at an earlier period in European speculation, had shown a similar tendency; but before Kant, no thinker had definitely grasped the conception of a critical philosophy, and Kant himself was led to it not so much by Locke, as by Hume's acute skepticism in regard to the objective validity of our ideas, especially of the very important idea of causality.