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Kant: philosophy, life and thought – Summary

Immanuel Kant was born in Königsberg in 1724 and is one of the most important philosophers in the world. He is one of the most influential philosophers of modern times and philosophical thought is studied by everyone in the world. Not having the opportunity to continue his academic career Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher begins to work as a private tutor. In 1755 he became a lecturer, teaching mathematics and philosophy at the University of Königsberg.

Kant is famous for his theories contained in the critique of practical reason, in the critique of judgment and in the critique of pure reason. To elaborate his theories (in particular the theory relating to the critique of pure reason) Kant studied many books by rationalists such as Leibniz. Among the principles contained, for example, in his critique of pure reason are the following: transcendental aesthetics, transcendental analytics and transcendental dialectics. For example, Kant’s important synthetic a priori judgments are also remembered.

Life of Immanuel Kant: Kant, Immanuel (Königsberg, now Kaliningrad 1724-1804), German philosopher, considered by many scholars to be the most influential thinker of the modern era. Born of pietistic parents, he studied at the Collegium Fredericianum and then attended the University of Königsberg, where he took courses in physics, logic and mathematics. After his father’s death, he was forced to abandon his academic career and earned a living as a private tutor. In 1755 he obtained the free lecturer and obtained the post of extraordinary professor of mathematics and philosophy at the University of Königsberg; over the next fifteen years, starting from the doctrinal positions of Christian Wolff and Gottfried Leibniz, Kant first gave lessons in physics and mathematics, gradually expanding his field of interests to cover almost all branches of philosophy. Although the academic lectures and works written during this period solidified his reputation as a philosopher, he did not obtain a professorship at the university until 1770, when he was appointed full professor of logic and metaphysics. During the next twenty-seven years he continued his academic teaching and attracted numerous students to Königsberg. His religious views, which were based on rationalism rather than revelation, led him to conflict with the Prussian government, and in 1792 King Frederick William II forbade him to give public lectures or write about religious topics. Immanuel Kant formally obeyed this order for five years, until the king’s death; after which he considered himself free from any obligation. He died on February 12, 1804.

The critique of pure reason: After a period that scholars call “pre-critical”, in which he meditated both on the texts of empiricist philosophers – in particular Hume – and on the works of rationalists such as Leibniz, Kant elaborated the keystone of his “philosophy criticism “, in the Critique of Pure Reason (1781), a work in which he examined the foundations and limits of human knowledge to outline an epistemology capable of rationally legitimizing the achievements of modern science. The critique of pure reason, i.e. separate from sensible experience, is divided into 3 parts:

  1. Transcendental aesthetics
  2. Transcendental analytics
  3. Transcendental dialectic

Transcendental dialectic: Immanuel Kant tries to do with metaphysics what Galilei and Newton were able to do with physics, that is, if physics has revealed the truths of nature, so metaphysics should reveal the truths about God and the creation of the universe (this is why we speak of a revolution in Kantian thought). To do this, Kant states that reason must be brought before a court to understand what are the real possibilities that human reason has to know. But in this court the reason is the accused and the judge and it comes to the judgment that when the reason is pure, reasonings can be formed that do not lead to any truth (valid knowledge). These arguments called syllogisms therefore lead to the antinomy of pure reason: the impossibility of knowing the truth about God, about the soul, about the world.

Transcendental Aesthetics: In transcendental aesthetics (from the Greek aisthesis = sensations) Kant explores the sphere of sensitive knowledge in search of the a priori principles that make this knowledge possible. Immanuel Kant explains the difference between transcendent, empirical and transcendental in the following way: transcendent is all that is innate in us; empirical is what concerns the sensible experience; transcendental is all that is a priori and serves to produce knowledge if applied to sensible experience.
The a priori forms are space and time (the a priori forms of sensible experience, that is, the a priori conditions of possibility of sensible experience) and categories (ways through which our intellect functions autonomously).
Kant is defined by all this as an idealist because he believes that something is found in the human intellect before sensible experience (attack on empiricism).

Transcendental analytics: In Kant’s thought, the passage from transcendental aesthetics to transcendental analytics seeks to propose a deeper experience of natural phenomena than sensible experience can. We therefore arrive at a rational and scientific knowledge of natural phenomena. In this part of the Critique, the categories are divided into four groups: those concerning quantity, which are unity, plurality and totality; those concerning quality, which are reality, negation and limitation; those concerning the relationship, which are causality and reciprocal action, and those concerning the modality, which are possibility and impossibility, existence and non-existence and necessity. In order for reason to be able to produce knowledge starting from a priori forms, the I think is presupposed. Kant regarded the objects of the material world as fundamentally unknowable (things in themselves); while the portion of knowable reality is called “phenomenon” (from the Greek phainómenon = what appears) and noumenon (ens rationis) what I can think but cannot appear. Kant starting from man and his cognitive and organizational abilities and not from the world as it is made in itself makes man himself the legislator of the phenomenal universe. “noumenorum non datur scientia” (of noumena there is no science) (Kant)

Synthetic a priori judgments: Similarly to some earlier philosophers, Immanuel Kant differentiated the modes of thought into analytic, or a priori, and synthetic, or a posteriori judgments. An analytic judgment is a proposition in which the predicate is contained in the subject, as in the statement: “the bodies are extended”. The truth of this type of proposition, which respecting the principle of identity are universal and necessary, is evident: to assert the opposite would be self-contradictory. Such judgments are therefore defined as “analytical”, because the truth is discovered thanks to the analysis of the concept itself, but they are also considered infertile on the cognitive level, as they do not extend knowledge. Synthetic judgments, on the other hand, are the propositions that cannot be reached thanks to pure rational analysis, as in the statement: “bodies are heavy”. In this case the judgment is fruitful, since the predicate “heavy” broadens our knowledge about the subject “the bodies”, but it is not universal and necessary, as it depends on experience. All the propositions that result from sensible experience are therefore called “synthetic”. In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant states that it is possible to formulate synthetic judgments a priori, that is, fruitful but at the same time universal and necessary. An example of a priori synthetic judgment is certainly the law of universal gravitation as necessary and universal, but referring to the sensible experience it proposes a predicate that was not contained in the definition (eg law = G * m1m2 / d2). Hence the debate around existence, that is, that existence is not a predicate of the concept (attack on the ratio anselmi, through the ratio essendi and the ratio cognoscendi. Eg: the 100 thalers). Continuing on this path, we need to focus on the meaning of connotation and denotation, that is, giving the characteristics of a certain thing and indicating a sample.

Critique of practical reason:
Formal character of Kantian ethics: In practical philosophy the regulative use of reason is exalted. “Nihil est in intellectu quod prius non fuerit in sensu nisi intellectum ipse” In the field of moral (practical) philosophy, human reason succeeds in doing what it had failed to do in speculative (knowledge) philosophy. This is the formal character of Kantian ethics to which the three fundamental questions that Kant asked himself throughout his life are linked:

  1. What can I know?
  2. What can I hope for?
  3. What should I do?

Formal law: Kant tries to answer these questions. Starting from the fact that man can only know the phenomenal world to the question “what should I do?” Kant replies that there is a moral law within us that indicates the form of my moral action to me completely regardless of the circumstances and the practical content of my moral action, therefore only pure reason can tell me what to do.
“Pure reason is practical in itself and gives man a universal law that we call moral law” (Kant)

Antinomy of practical reason: If the antinomy of pure reason was the impossibility of knowing the truth about God, the world and man, instead the antinomy of practical reason is the conflict between virtue and happiness. According to Kant, his moral law and the antinomy of practical reason could also be explained to a 10-year-old child through a little story.

Imperatives: For Immanuel Kant there are two types of imperatives: the hypothetical and the categorical. The categorical imperative is the moral law that dictates reason to us regardless of the empirical situation; the hypothetical imperative is the moral law adapted to the empirical situation (if … then …). “Act only according to that maxim by virtue of which you can at the same time want it to become a universal law”. “Act in such a way as to treat humanity, both in your own person and in the person of the other, always at the same time as an end, and never solely as a means”. “May your will, by virtue of its maxim, consider itself as instituting at the same time a universal legislation” (Kant)
Postulates of practical reason

According to Kant, there are 3 postulates of practical reason:

  • Freedom. If freedom did not exist, morality would not exist, therefore, speaking of morality, freedom is postulated;
  • The existence of God. Morality has been given to us by God and therefore speaking of morality we postulate the existence of God;
  • Immortality. If in life using virtue more often than not happiness is not obtained by postulating the immortality of the soul, one expects that virtue will be rewarded in another life.

“The crooked wood of humanity”, “The starry sky above me, the moral law in me” (Kant).

Radical evil: Immanuel Kant defines humanity as a crooked wood due to the evil that is rooted in it. In fact, for Kant there is a radical evil in man which is none other than that tendency due to the finiteness and fragility of the human being, to adopt a maxim of behavior contrary to the moral law, while being aware of this.

Criticism of Judgment: Determining Judgment and Reflective Judgment: For Kant there are two types of judgment: determinative judgment and reflective judgment. Kant means by determining judgment a judgment of knowledge of scientific laws and while this judgment is given, the object under consideration is determined. Instead, we speak of judgment reflecting man’s reflection on an object under consideration. It is a judgment reflecting man’s reflection on the mechanism of nature by examining the laws of nature itself.

Teleological judgment: After the decisive judgment the human soul wants to move forward on the level of knowledge by not limiting itself to the scientific knowledge of an object. Man therefore wants to understand if nature has an end (telos) or is it only a mechanical thing (automaton). The question that now arises is: what can I hope for? We can therefore hope that man is the end of nature, but it must be emphasized that this is only a reflective and not a determining judgment. Kant therefore tries to finalize to man again those achievements and conclusions of modern science that the philosopher himself accepts. This is called teleological judgment (subjective, but the same for everyone). “The spectacle of the world without man appears to me a desert” (Kant). So what is man for Kant? “You are too little to be the son of a god, but too little to be the result of chance” (Kant)

History, politics and law: Unsociable sociability: In Kant’s thought, man in a society has an “unsociable sociability” towards other individuals, that is, he feels connected to other men, but has an impulse to dissociate himself from others in order to pursue own happiness. “Each one is an end in itself, the rest is nothing for him” (Eagle).

Perpetual peace: Immanuel Kant wonders if man always progresses towards the best. This cannot be ascertained since man’s freedom could lead him to regress at any moment. But by following reason, a cosmopolitan society should be formed in which war is banned and a perpetual peace is established which is not the end of a conflict, but a task given to us by reason.

To understand, a brief summary: Kant distinguishes between morality and legality. Law is founded on legality, and is a set of rules that govern the legality of actions from an external point of view: in addition to a positive law there is also an innate natural law (universal principle of law which coincides with freedom understood as independence from any restrictions but respecting the freedoms of others). The state in which these freedoms are realized is called the “rule of law”: the possibility of exercising one’s freedom without violating the freedom of others, in it all citizens must be guaranteed to exercise their rights without damaging the freedom of others. Immanuel Kant thinks that a confederation of free states can be created: an idea of ​​the enlightenment cosmopolitanism, only this can ensure perpetual peace. He believes that there are two historical planes: an ideal history plan; a plan of real history (which in any case must look at the first to try to realize it).

Thought of Immanuel Kant
He was born in 1724 in Prussia from a family of Scottish origins. He was brought up in the religious spirit of PIETISM. He studied Newtonian philosophy, mathematics, theology and physics. He taught various disciplines including metaphysics. Kant’s life is devoid of passions, but full of a constant desire for knowledge, he is a methodical but extremely brilliant type.
Kant’s thought is called criticism: he makes criticism the instrument par excellence of philosophy, he condemns all forms of dogmatism. Criticizing for the philosopher means evaluating, distinguishing and judging; this criticism is configured as a philosophy of the limit, that is, aimed at establishing what is the limit of human knowledge. This philosophy of the finite is not equivalent to a form of skepticism, because determining the limit of every experience means at the same time guaranteeing its validity within the limit itself. His influences derive from traditional German philosophers such as Wolf, while for scientific characters he refers to Newton (like Newton with the law of universal gravitation he seeks the functioning of nature and the role of man in the universe).
Kant, referring to Hoke’s philosophy, pseudo-knowledge, will find the link between reality and the mind of man; or when the mind truly knows reality and becomes science. Kant can be defined as an Enlightenmentist regarding the conception of man; according to the philosopher when man is born he has the same potential as other men without any distinction. His rationalism is based on Cartesian innatism and uses the deductive method not to arrive at a new knowledge but for the sole purpose of analyzing and arriving from the general truth to the particular one. Kant criticizes the concept of a clean slate and affirms that at the basis of the experience there are inalienable principles to it. In fact, according to the philosopher, when human beings are born they have a ‘something’ that allows them to collect information and combine them; he calls them innate structures or a priori forms which are of 2 types:

  1. the a priori forms of sensitive impressions that collect experience (pure intuitions: space and time).
  2. the a priori forms of the intellect that produce reasoning.

For a discipline to be science for Kant it must use synthetic a priori judgments, that is, it must have a link with experience and immutable principles that act as pillars.
Science: experience and a priori synthetic principles.

His main works are: “The critique of pure reason” (knowledge), “The critique of practical reason” (moral), “The critique of judgment” (feelings).

Kant tried to prove that mathematics, physics and metaphysics are truly sciences. According to the philosopher, mathematics and physics prove to be sciences because they use synthetic a priori judgments. Mathematics is a human language because it is absent in the universe. Man receives impressions from the outside and uses them through his systems, or rather the a priori forms that are universal. sciences do not exist in nature but were invented by man in order to simplify the structure of the universe. This is why Kant speaks to us of the Copernican revolution, in fact the latter changed the position of some elements. Instead, the structure that Kant modifies is knowledge that until then had never been identified as something objective and man had dealt with the outside world passively, adapting to his rules. Kant, on the other hand, tells us that it is the exterior that must be adapted according to man.

Critique of pure reason: deals with knowledge and is divided into three points: TRANSCENDENTAL AESTHETICS, TRANSCENTAL ANALYTICS AND TRANSCENDENTAL DIALECTICS.

The transcendental aesthetic is made up of sensations, or sensitive experiences. Transcendental means a priori, innate. If aesthetics means sensation, we will talk about the sensitive experience of a priori forms and senses that he calls INTUITIONS. The a priori forms that make it possible to use intuitions are space and time which are pure intuitions.
They are present in the human mind as catalogers who collect sensitive information and catalog it according to space and time.
These are pure intuitions because they are a priori and correspond to the first degree of knowledge. In the pure intuition of space, the figures of geometry can be drawn; there is nothing in nature it is our already geometric brain that geometrizes nature.
Arithmetic numbers (chronological succession of numbers) can be formed in the pure intuition of time. Geometry and arithmetic do not exist in nature but only in our mind. Mathematics understood as more arithmetic geometry is a pure science.

Transcendental analytics speaks of physics. The intellect does not start from innate ideas but goes to analyze the forms a priori as for a man it is not enough to catalog information but must necessarily do all those activities that characterize thought such as making choices and expressing opinions. To reason, man uses another type of forms which are categories and have the dual function of selecting, dividing and reuniting them. The a priori forms of intuition represent the second degree of knowledge. The intellect synthesizes the data gathered with the intuitions in order to form the concept of an object or refer the concept to another concept to reconstruct the world of experience. For Kant, thinking means knowing, knowing means judging. The categories are twelve divided into four main ones which are in turn divided into three others: QUANTITY, QUALITY, RELATIONSHIP AND METHOD.
Each category corresponds to a type of judgment to find the link between the functioning of human knowledge and the functioning of the external world. To do this Kant uses a particular method: transcendental deduction; the world that is inside us is the same as the world that is outside of us.
For Kant the deduction is a AUTHORIZATION, a MANDATORY consequence. What we think is how we think it and since it is universal, it necessarily derives from experience. We cannot think of anything other than what it is.
Our knowledge is not fragmentary but is unified by something that Kant calls ‘I THINK’, the universal, a faculty that unites all experiences and allows reasoning. Analytics deals with physics because it is not enough to order experiences, but to know the world there is a need to use categories as the categories applied to physics make it a science. CATEGORIES WITHOUT EXPERIENCE ARE EMPTY AND EXPERIENCE WITHOUT CATEGORIES IS BLIND.

The transcendental dialectic takes the terms from Aristotle and speaks of metaphysics. In the transcendental dialectic Kant’s problem is gnoseological and the philosopher tries to identify the content of knowledge formed by:
PHENOMENON: what manifests itself, what appears evident, which can be grasped through the senses, the thing outside oneself.
NOUMENUS: what we think, something interior, the thing itself, has characteristics that cannot be grasped by the senses, we can never know it.
The thought thing that does not correspond to knowledge is called by Kant the idea of ​​reason which includes the soul of god and the idea of ​​the world. Noumena are the subject of metaphysics study. Man has limits in knowing the world, which are given by experience, and for this reason he claims to create metaphysics. Human experiences are partial, despite this limit, man is not satisfied and wants to totalize experiences.
Man therefore applies the a priori forms on a presumed total experience; the result is not knowledge but pseudo-knowledge.

The ideas of reason are: PSYCHOLOGY (discourse on the soul) COSMOLOGY (discourse on the world) THEOLOGY (discourse on God); man is convinced that he knows these ideas but in reality he just thinks about them.
• It tends to refer all the phenomena of internal experience to a supposed internal unit called SOUL.
• It arises from the tendency to reunite all the phenomena of external experience in a single unit called the WORLD.
• Presumed unification in a single element called GOD all internal and external phenomena.
It is called dialectic because it speaks of things not known but only thought.
• To dismantle the idea of ​​SOUL, to demonstrate that it is only a pseudo-knowledge, that is an idea of ​​reason, Kant uses the same argument as hume: “one cannot speak of a soul, which is only a series of impressions and not it exists as a unit ”. Kant states that all discourses on the soul set up to prove its existence are paralogisms, that is, unscientific discourses. We have no tools to prove its existence, we can only think about it. If we are talking about the soul, we are not talking about science because we use a priori, not scientific tools. We don’t have the tools to prove its existence, we can only think about it. If we talk about the soul we are not talking about science because a priori, not scientific judgments are used.
• To dismantle the idea of ​​the WORLD, the philosopher goes to review all the cosmological ideas of the past and realizes that: – some theories say that the world is limited in time and space, others instead that the world is not limited; – some theories say that the world is made up of simple non-divisible elements, while others say that the world is infinitely divisible and made up of simple elements; – some theories say that the world depends on a necessary being, others argue the opposite. For Kant these are antinomies, or contradictory discourses; men have searched for theories about the world, but no one has ever sought unanimous explanations. So we do not know the idea of ​​the world as all the speeches made to support it are antinomies and not scientific speeches.
• To dismantle the idea of ​​GOD Kant looks for all the arguments to prove his existence, he chooses three: ontological argument that represents the theory of Anselm, “if God exists as a perfect being and if he is perfect, he must have all the characteristics of perfection, including existence “. For Kant it is true that if we think about God, we think it is perfect, but it is one thing to think something, it is one thing to make it real. Thus a gnoseological thought is transformed into an ontological thought, but no one tells us that the thing we think exists; cosmological argument concerning the theory of the 5 ways of Thomas, each of these ways, which starting from simple things arrive at the idea of ​​perfection, leads us to the ontological test; teleological argument concerning the ultimate goal of all things, even the ultimate goal of creation or perfection. But if we use rationality we realize that the world is not perfect therefore an imperfect world was created by an imperfect being. These three arguments are proofs of existence, so we cannot know God or do science, because we cannot use synthetic judgments but only a priori.

Metaphysics is however an important science of man as it is the science of the limit because it makes man aware of his limits, but also the science of the limitless because through it man wants to overcome his own limits. Metaphysics has a regulatory function; man does not know the soul, the world and god but he will try to get there by ways that are not knowledge.
Critique of practical reason: deals with morality. Kant trying to demonstrate metaphysics from the GNOSEOLOGICAL point of view fails, so he tries to justify it through the PRACTICAL REASON, all that is related to the behavior of men, that is the MORAL. Knowledge is universal because it functions on the basis of a priori forms which are universal. For Kant also morality is universal and necessary as each of us has a sense of duty within himself. This feeling is innate, a priori and universal, it works the same way for everyone and is called by the philosopher CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE (PRIOR FORM OF MORALITY), it is an obligatory and inexorable command, unconditional since the moral law must not be conditioned by anything, especially from personal interests.
Eg: hypothetical imperative: do not smoke because it hurts; Categorical imperative: do not smoke.
Human freedom is not conditioned by the universal moral law, this imperative may not even be followed. Personal inclinations are not affected by the categorical imperative. In man there is a dualism: categorical imperative and personal inclination. A guided action of the categorical imperative is based on DUTY FOR DUTY.

Kant identifies 3 categories of shares:
• Immoral: when we decide to take an action against the law.
• Amoral: action that respect the laws but their cause is not the duty for the duty but the personal advantage.
• Moral: action done regardless of feelings, respecting the rules.

The moral will of man when he performs an action is autonomous, when the will is heteronomous it is no longer moral (it depends on something external to itself), this means that the categorical imperative is universal so it is in man as well as the laws of behavior. It is therefore not man who adapts to the laws but it is the laws that are made according to the categorical imperative of man. the laws come into conflict with the categorical imperative when we choose the laws, a heteronomous will, which acts conditioned from the outside; if instead we choose the categorical imperative we choose an autonomous will, the will within us.
The moral law consists of a categorical imperative that is unconditionally valid beyond any personal inclination without considering the content or the result of each action, in perfect autonomy; in this case the law is universal.
Kant applies the Copernican revolution also to the imperative and the laws: he puts the categorical imperative which is a priori and universal at the center and the laws around it because they are dictated by the categorical imperative itself. If there are injustices, it is because the categorical imperative is not followed. Religion too derives from the categorical imperative, God is innate and the laws of the church conform to the categorical imperative.

The formulas of the categorical imperative are 3:

  1. act in a way that you may want the motivation of your action to be valid as a universal law.
  2. act in such a way as to treat the humanity that is in you and in others always as an end and not as a means. Reason must not be used as a means to arrive at something, but as an ultimate end to be achieved and demonstrated.
  3. act in such a way that your will can be considered as instituting a universal law.

Self-legislation: an internal code that becomes external if the categorical imperative is respected.
If everyone followed these 3 principles, a kind of spiritual community (perfect world) would be created, called the KINGDOM OF PURPOSES, that is, a supersensible community that ideally unites all men.

The moral law is expressed with the categorical imperative: “you must therefore you can”. This expresses the freedom of men to be able to choose, if this were not possible, the categorical imperative would be useless.


The expression “you can” makes it clear that man is made up of two realities;

  • sensitive reality (emotion) linked to the senses.
  • rational reality (reason) linked to natural laws.
    If we were all rational we would all be the same. Instead what distinguishes us is the sensitive nature that represents personal inclinations. If the will were able to detach itself from sensitivity and be based only on rationality, we would reach holiness, that is, to a pure being. Since man is reason + sentiment, this is impossible and it follows that holiness belongs only to God. So man replaces holiness with morality, respect for the laws. The ultimate goal of morality is the highest good which consists in “being happy to respect the laws”. This highest good (virtue and happiness together) cannot be reached in this life in a total way, this recognized impossibility is the aspiration towards holiness (to reach the highest good), the spirit of man reaches him after death.

The elements of the highest good are virtue and happiness. In this world there is nothing that guarantees complete happiness, since it does not depend on man. So the existence of someone or something is postulated that guarantees the virtuous man the achievement of happiness: this is god is the cause of the world. God exists and we demonstrate it precisely because he must act as guarantor. However, believing in God is a matter of faith.

With the critique of practical reason, the 3 limits of morality are posed:


Critique of judgment: deals with feelings. Kant demonstrates that the phenomenon and the noumenon are 2 different aspects of the same thing. They are two different points of view of the same world. The very pursuit of the highest good includes both; if we tend to the noumenon (God, soul) in any case we act in this world, through NATURE.

It is precisely to demonstrate that the two realities coexist that Kant distinguishes the judgment in:

  1. decisive judgment: phenomenon; it uses experiences and a priori forms. It leads to knowledge, it is used for the sciences.
  2. reflective judgment: noumenon; it is based on the feeling that belongs to everyone, but manifests itself in a different way for everyone (Plato). It is everyone’s need to seek purpose and harmony. In turn, this judgment is divided into:
    • teleological: end.
    • Aesthetic: harmony.

Both relate to feelings; personal inclinations.
We know with the determining judgment and then we judge with the reflective judgment.
We cannot use the reflective without the determinant while we can use the determinant without the reflective, as in the case of mathematics.
Aesthetic judgment: doctrine of art and beauty.
According to Kant, man has the desire to see everything harmoniously. The more an object corresponds to our inner harmony, the more we define it as beautiful (beauty is objective, what you like is subjective). When we find something beautiful for us we think that it was done to satisfy our pattern of harmony. Returning therefore to the Copernican revolution, the beauty is in the subject not in the object.
For Kant, beauty is a symbol of good, because it corresponds to harmony not chaos.

The sublime is divided into:

  1. mathematician: extension; which can be reached with reflective judgment and is divided into TIME (millennia) and SPACE (universe).
  2. dynamic: strength; (hurricane, volcano, earthquake); something whose strength is very great and not measurable.
    The sublime is related to reflective judgment, something subjective.

Even sublimity is not in nature, but in the spirit of man who is unlimited.

Theological: human predisposition to see an end in everything. We believe that everything was functionally created for something and NOTHING WAS CREATED FOR NOTHING. We cannot prove finalism scientifically but our minds are predisposed to think so. The only valid knowledge is the scientific one, the theological and aesthetic judgment can only give us the idea of ​​limit and not limit; have a relative function.

The genius: he is the one who gives the rule of art, who goes beyond any rule and is unrepeatable, produces a work of which he cannot explain the path and which cannot be re-proposed by others. It is not the art that gives the rules but the genius who is original because he follows his rules but cannot prove them scientifically.

Kant’s philosophy
Vita: German philosopher, who lived in the seventeenth century, Kant brings forward the problem of knowledge, which had been addressed by Rationalism and Empiricism, which arrived at different and opposing solutions. Kant will take what is good of one and the other, becoming the point of reference for subsequent philosophers.
He was not concerned only with knowledge; in fact his work is divided into two parts:

  1. Pre-critical period: also called naturalistic or dogmatic: it is the phase in which he accepts the various doctrines relating to nature without subjecting them to a critical examination and without verifying whether they are legitimate or not.
  2. Critical Period: his interest shifts to man. We can see in him a sort of Socrates, as he makes criticism the only instrument of his research. In fact, the fundamental question around which Kantian criticism revolves is: “What is man?”.

When this question arises, since man is a rational being, Kant wants to analyze human reason to verify whether or not the claims that human reason itself makes in the context of different human experiences, or cognitive experience, are legitimate. moral experience and sentimental experience.
What are the claims of reason?
In the field of knowledge, reason claims to go beyond experience. In the moral one, it claims to be able to reach holiness, in the sentimental one it claims to be able to subordinate the world and nature to itself.

Kant believes that human reason is an autonomous faculty, which can only be guided by itself.
He believes that the analysis of human reason can only be done by reason itself and in one part of this statement we see the influence of the Enlightenment, from which Kant takes the principle according to which human reason must be placed at the basis of a critical investigation.
Between Kant and the Enlightenment there is a difference that Kant himself highlights: the Enlightenment brings the entire world of man (politics, morality, economics, etc.) before the court of reason, while Kant brings before the court of reason, reason itself.
He wants to highlight its limits because Kant, like Hume, is convinced that human reason is infallible and omnipotent, but that it is limited; this is why his criticism is called “philosophy of the limit”.
In fact, Kant credits Hume with having awakened him from his “dogmatic sleep”.
Nonetheless, Kant does not go so far as to share Hume’s skeptical results.
In light of this we can define Kantian criticism not only as a philosophy of the limit but also a philosophy aimed at eliminating the two opposing obstacles: skepticism and dogmatism.
He rejects skepticism because, even if he himself sets out to search for the limits of reason, it is also true that he seeks the areas in which human reason can move with certainty, because according to Kant there is a terrain, even if limited, in which man it can reach a certain degree of certainty.
This research is developed in the three critiques, which are the three most important works of Kant: “Critique of pure reason”, “Critique of practical reason” and “Critique of judgment”.
Consequently, the original question splits into three other questions: “What can I know” (Pure reason), “What should I do?” (Practical reason) “What can I hope for?” (Judgement).

Critique of Pure Reason: Kant’s research is aimed at verifying whether the claim to build certain knowledge regardless of experience is legitimate.
Kant divides knowledge into Science and Metaphysics.
Science (mathematics and physics) has certain, objective results.
Metaphysics in previous centuries had dominated, now it is in a phase of crisis, caused by the Scientific Revolution and Empiricism.
With his criticism of the principle of cause, Hume puts both of them in crisis.
Kant shares his metaphysical skepticism, but not in relation to science.
The critique of pure reason is expressed in these questions:

  1. How is it possible that mathematics is pure physics?
    Kant wonders what are the conditions that give them an objective character
  2. Is metaphysics as a science possible?
    And if the answer is no, how is metaphysics possible as a natural disposition of man?

He searches for the reasons why human reason, while aware of limits, is led to go beyond limits and wants to know the absolute and other objects of metaphysics.
The problem of knowledge had already been addressed:
• Cartesian rationalism: the mind can know everything (sensitive and metaphysical) thanks to innate ideas;
• Empiricism: the mind is a blank slate; all knowledge comes from experience. Metaphysics is not science because it goes beyond experience;

According to Kant, knowledge is made up of assertive prepositions, therefore of judgments, formed by predicate + subject.
For rationalism, knowledge is based on a priori analytical judgments;
for empiricism it is based on synthetic a posteriori judgments.
• Analytical: because the predicate is implicitly contained in the subject and we derive it from an analysis of the subject.
• Synthetic: the predicate is derived from experience and adds something new to what we are told by the subject

Having identified the judgments, Kant shows the reasons why science cannot be based on either of the two mentioned above. In fact, they have strengths and weaknesses:
• Analytical to Priori
Value: universal and necessary.
Defect: They do not increase knowledge but make it explicit because the predicate is implicitly contained in the subject.
• Synthetics to Rear
Value: they enrich our knowledge.
Flaw: They are neither necessary nor universal.

Kant therefore eliminates the defects of both and maintains the merits.
He argues that the conditions that give knowledge a scientific character are conciseness and priority.
Science must be based on synthetic a priori judgments.
Priority is important because the content we get from experience is not learned passively, but is ordered by the mind using a priori principles that are innate and therefore common to all men and all use them in the same way. It is these principles that give judgments a universal and necessary character.

By introducing these judgments Kant elaborates a new conception of knowledge, that is the synthesis of matter and form.
To explain the function of the shape, he compares it to colored lenses. The a priori form determines our way of knowing reality. This way is not subjective, but it is the same for everyone, because we all have the same shape.
According to critics, through this new conception of knowledge, Kant brought about a Copernican revolution in the gnoseological field. Copernicus revolutionized astronomy by inverting the relationship between the Earth and the Sun, Kant revolutionized gnoseology by inverting the relationship between the subject and the object of knowledge.
It is no longer the subject that adapts to reality through passive perception, but it is reality that is modeled on the a priori forms of the knowing subject.
At the center of the cognitive system is the subject. “Our knowledge begins with experience but does not derive entirely from it”.
He partly shares Rationalism, in fact for Descartes what we know is innate, for Kant what we know him through is innate.

Kant in the field of human knowledge distinguishes three faculties: sensitivity, intellect, reason.
The internal subdivision of the “Critique of Pure Reason” reflects this tripartition.
It is primarily divided into two parts:

  1. Doctrine of the Elements
    Research the a priori forms of sensitivity, intellect, reason.
    It is divided into Transcendental Aesthetics and Transcendental Logic.
    The latter is further divided into Analytics and Dialectics.
    Aesthetics deals with sensitivity, the analytic of the intellect and the dialectic of reason.
  2. Doctrine of the Method
    Kant clarifies the way in which the three faculties use the a priori forms to produce certain, objective knowledge.
    Transcendental Aesthetics: sensitivity is the faculty through which we intuitively grasp the data we receive from external and internal experience. This faculty is both receptive and active. Receptive because it receives data from experience, active because it does not receive them passively, but from an order using the a priori forms that are space and time, also called pure intuitions.
    Space is the a priori form of the external sense that we use for ordinary data received from external experience.
    Time is the a priori form of the inner sense that we use to order inner experiences. With Kant, space and time have different meanings and roles from previous philosophers:
    Space and time therefore take on a different role than Locke, Newton and Leibniz:
    • Locke -> Space and time are derived from experience;
    • Newton -> Space and time are containers;
    • Leibniz -> Space and time are concepts that we develop to express the relationships between things;

For Kant, space and time are Laws of the Human Mind, the conditions that allow arithmetic and geometry to be sciences. (Arithmetic uses the a priori form of time to formulate synthetic a priori judgments. Geometry is based on the a priori form of space to form synthetic a priori judgments).

Mathematics is therefore science because it uses space and time.

The Transcendental Logic: A distinction must be made between Kant’s transcendental logic and Aristotle’s formal logic. Aristotle’s formal logic provides the rules for constructing a speech in a formally correct manner. Most of the time it doesn’t pay attention to the content of the reasoning, it doesn’t verify if the content of that speech is true or false.
Kant’s transcendental logic does not ignore the context but studies the relationship between the forms of thought and the objects of experience; Kant’s logic is divided into two parts, the transcendental analytic and the transcendental dialectic.

Transcendental Analytics: The intellect is the second faculty we use when we relate to objects to know them, it is the faculty through which we think about the data that are provided to us by sensitivity.
This definition makes it clear that for Kant all human knowledge derives from these two sources (sensitivity and intellect): without sensitivity no object would be given, without the intellect no object would be thought.

Thinking of an object according to Kant means attributing a predicate to a subject.
In fact, for Kant, the order established by sensitivity is not enough to have knowledge as the impressions are placed in space and time in a chaotic way, with no relations between them; these must be combined to form meaningful concepts.
This synthesis is accomplished by the intellect which forms empirical concepts and then relates one concept to another forming judgments.
To do this, it uses its a priori forms called pure concepts or categories.

The Aristotelian categories have an ontological meaning and a logical meaning: from the ontological point of view they are the fundamental characteristics of being, necessary; on the logical level they are the first predicates of being within which the various predicates can be placed.
For Aristotle there were 8 or 10 categories.

Kant reproaches for not having explained the criterion with which he derives the categories. For Kant, the categories do not belong to reality and therefore have a transcendental gnoseological value, that is, they are functions of the intellect used to verify the sensitive multiple.
Since thinking is judging, there must be as many categories as there are fundamental ways of judging, of attributing a predicate to a subject.
Traditional logic indicates 12 ways to form judgments grouped into 4 classes: quantity, quality, relationship and modality. There are also 12 categories, divided into 4 classes.

In the categories of the relationship there is that of causality in fact he does not share the criticism made to this by Hume.
Kant re-ability as a category: causality gives a necessary character to knowledge.
The categories, in fact, are present in the intellect of all men.

Can categories be applied to empirical objects that do not derive from the intellect?
According to Kant, yes, and he demonstrates it with transcendental deduction, a term used by Kant in its juridical meaning, where Deduction means Justification of legitimacy, of the claim of categories to be applied to the sensitive multiple.
He explains this by saying that before the synthetic activity of the intellect there is a supreme unifying principle: “I think” or transcendental self-awareness or transcendental apperception.

The “I think” precedes all knowledge and makes it possible; since it is found in all men it is this which gives the universal character to knowledge.
Therefore the categories become necessary as they are used by the “I think”, which is not identified with the individual or with humanity but rather it is a logical function common to all thinking beings. It should not be confused with the Cartesian cogito, which is a substance but with a form.

The Transcendental Dialectic: In aesthetics and analytics Kant posed the problem of mathematics and physics; in the dialectic the problem of metaphysics arises, which has not reached a high degree of certainty.
So the question is: “Is metaphysics as a science possible?”.
He replies in the negative because knowledge is the synthesis of an a priori form and an a posteriori content (Sensitive Multiple) while the objects of metaphysics are NOUMENIC realities, that is, everything that is beyond experience.
The term noumenon is reality as it is regardless of our way of knowing it; the phenomenon is reality after having ordered it with a priori forms.
We can only know phenomenal reality: Kant therefore realizes that metaphysics is a natural human need.

Kant now seeks the cause that drives man to want to know the absolute:
reason is not a third faculty, but it is the name that the intellect takes when it pretends to ignore experience.
Reason believes it produces knowledge without experience, but when this fails, reason precipitates.

It seeks to know by using three a priori forms: the idea of ​​the soul, of the World and of God, that is, the same objects of study of metaphysics.
Reason, with the idea of ​​the soul, verifies the internal sensations and refers them to a simple substance, the soul, saying that it exists and is knowable.
With the idea of ​​the World, it unifies all external phenomena and refers them to a total reality, the existing and knowable world.
With the idea of ​​God he unifies all external and internal phenomena and refers them to a unitary principle, God.
Three sciences are based on these three ideas: Rational Psychology, Rational Cosmology and Rational Theology, which together form metaphysics.
Kant wants to prove that these are fake sciences.

Rational Psychology, when he claims to affirm the existence of the soul, is based on an erroneous reasoning which consists in attributing the category of substance to “I think”. This is not possible because “I think” is not a knowable subject but it is a formal principle and it is the ineliminable condition that makes knowledge possible. For this reason, the category of substance cannot be attributed to this because the “I think” precedes the categories themselves.
Rational Cosmology claims to know the world in its totality, which is impossible because man can know single phenomena. This, therefore, falls into a sort of antinomies, double arguments in that they are formed by a thesis that he affirms and an antithesis that he denies. These, while contradicting each other, can both be demonstrated for which reason does not know which one to consider true and does not know how to choose as it does not have the support of experience (neither the thesis nor the antithesis correspond to an experience). The antinomies are 4, like the classes of the categories.

  1. Thesis: the world has a beginning in time and is limited by space.
    Antithesis: the world has no beginning and is unlimited
  2. Thesis: the world is made up of simple parts so it is indivisible.
    Antithesis: the world is not made up of simple parts so it is infinitely divisible.
  3. Thesis: there is freedom in the world.
    Antithesis: there is no freedom in the world but everything is subject to mechanical laws.
  4. Thesis: the world has its cause in a necessary being
    Antithesis: there is no necessary being in the world.

Not being able to choose between thesis and antithesis, cosmology is useless.

Rational Theology affirms the existence of God, but according to Kant it has no cognitive value. Kant examines arguments developed to prove the existence of God: the ontological argument of St. Anselm, the cosmological and physical argument of St. Thomas.

The criticism of the ontological argument says that it is not possible to go from the logical to the ontological plane arbitrarily, because there is no necessary relationship between them since existence is not deducible a priori but only a posteriori.

The cosmological argument is based on the relationship between contingent and necessary; Kant criticizes it for two defects: it uses the principle of causality in an inadequate way because the cause-effect relationship can only be established between objects of the phenomenal world while it wants to establish a causal relationship between phenomenal and noumenal objects; moreover it falls into the ontological argument because it has arrived at the necessary being as the cause of all contingent beings, then it is stated that it is the perfect being that cannot not exist.

The physical-theological argument still falls into the ontological one and does not take into account that the cause of the world order can also be an immanent cause.
Kant concludes the dialectic by saying that soul, world and God have no validity if we make a constitutive use of them, that is, if we use them to produce knowledge, but they are useful if we make a regulatory use, that is, we use the absolute totalities to which the three ideas they refer as a model to refer to in order to overcome the fragmentarism of our knowledge and give them unity.


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