IMMANUEL KANT 1724-1804
1724 Born April 22, in Königsberg, East Prussia. His father a saddler, his parents lower middle class, simple people, Lutheran Pietists. Kant remained deeply religious throughout his life.
1732 Admitted to Collegium Fridericianum, a local high school, through the intervention of a preacher and a professor at the University of Königsberg. Education was solidly Pietist and classical (lots of Latin).
1740 Admitted to University of Königsberg, where under the influence of Martin Knutzen, a very "extraordinary" teacher, he abandoned his intention to study classics and took up philosophy. Knutzen introduced him to the work of Christian Wolff (1679-1754), who had developed Leibniz's philosophy into a rationalistic system. Knutzen lectured in philosophy, physics, astronomy and mathematics, and Kant had unlimited access to his library.
1748 His studies finished, Kant worked as a private tutor to wealthy families.
1755 Back at University to begin his "doctorate," was a Privatdozent (unsalaried lecturer) for the next fifteen years, lecturing on issues in physics and physical geography. Kant's lectures were very popular, salted with humor and stories. His main aim was to stimulate his hearers to think for themselves. He published Universal History of Nature and Theory of the Heavens (1755) which explained the structure of the universe in terms of Newtonian physics, without reference to God. His interests however soon began to shift towards the inner world of mind and the nature of morality. He read Humes writings, which challenged the rationalism he had learned from Wolff. (Hume "interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave my investigation in the field of speculative philosophy quite a new direction.")
1756 Upon Knutzen's death, Kant tried to obtain Knutzen's chair, but the government left the post unfilled, probably for financial reasons. In 1764 he was offered the chair of poetry, but declined it; and he refused as similar offer from Jena in 1769.
1770 Kant received his post, the chair of logic and metaphysics at the University of Königsberg. His inaugural address, Dissertation on the Form and Principles of Sensible and Intelligible Worlds, declared his intention to "reconstruct" philosophy. He carefully worked through his ideas over the next ten years.
1781 Critique of Pure Reason published, written "within four or five months, with utmost attention to the contents, but with less concern for the presentation or for making things easy for the reader." This indifference to readers left most people lost. He was forced to restate his main points in Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783), a work "for the benefit of teachers," and he rewrote the Critique in 1787.
1785 Foundation for the Metaphysics of Morals was published, his first major work on ethics. Critique of Practical Reason appeared in 1788, a further development of his moral views.
1790 Third and last critique is published, Critique of Judgment, dealing with aesthetic judgments and the question of purpose in nature.
1804 At his death, he had never traveled more than a few miles outside Königsberg, never married, was methodically regular and punctual (rose shortly before five, spent the hour from five to six drinking tea, smoking a pipe, and thinking over his day's work; six to seven he prepared his lecture, which began at seven or eight, depending on the time of year, and lasted until nine or ten; then writing to midday meal, at which he always had company and which lasted several hours, as Kant enjoyed conversation. Then a daily walk of an hour or so, and the evening for reading and reflection. Bed at ten o'clock.) He carefully guarded his health, but was also a delightful conversationalist and host, and had many friends and admirers. He died the best-known philosopher in Germany, read if not understood throughout Europe.
|Dissertation on the Form and Principles of Sensible
and Intelligible Worlds (1770)
Critique of Pure Reason (1781)
Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783)
Foundation for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785)
Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (1786)
Critique of Practical Reason (1788)
Critique of Judgment (1790)
Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone (1793)
Toward Eternal Peace (1795)
Metaphysics of Morals (1797)