Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Biography of Kant

Immanuel Kant was born in 1724 in Konigsberg, Prussia (now Kalningrad Russia).  He never traveled far from Konigsberg in his whole life.  In contrast to many of the Great Books authors, he had a very humble beginning.  His father was a harness-maker. 
By the age of 16, he had already shown quite a bit of skill as a student.  He went to the University of Konigsberg, where he spent most of his life.  There he was introduced to the works of Leibniz and Newton and the philosophies of the day. 
In 1754, Kant won the Berlin Academy Prize for figuring out that friction causes a slow down in the Earth's rotational speed.  This was mostly overlooked until the next century when Kelvin and others brought it to prominence.  Kant also fathered the belief that the solar system was born from a cloud of dust and gas. 
Kant is best known though, for his contributions to philosophy.  Kantianism has had a major effect on modern philosophical works.  (I'm not sure that I understand it, so I won't attempt to summarize.  You can read about it here.) 
His philosophical work was done late in his life.  He spent what is called 'the silent decade'.  In this time he didn't respond to questions about his earlier work.  Then he published 'The Critique of Pure Reason', of which we will read portions of in years Four, Five and Six. 
He died in 1802.  His last words were "It is good". 

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