Immanuel Kant (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804)
Kant was a German philosopher who is considered a central figure in modern philosophy. Kant argued that the human mind creates the structure of human experience, that reason is the source of morality, that aesthetics arises from a faculty of disinterested judgment, that space and time are forms of our sensibility, and that the world as it is "in-itself" is independent of our concepts of it. His beliefs continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political theory, and aesthetics.
Politically, Kant was one of the earliest exponents of the idea that perpetual peace could be secured through universal democracy and international cooperation. He believed that this will be the eventual outcome of universal history, although it is not rationally planned.
In one of Kant's major works, the Critique of Pure Reason (1781), he attempted to explain the relationship between reason and human experience and to move beyond the failures of traditional philosophy and metaphysics.
Kant argued that our experiences are structured by necessary features of our minds. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience so that, on an abstract level, all human experience shares certain essential structural features.
Kant published other important works on ethics, religion, law, aesthetics, astronomy, and history.
Kant is best known for his work in the philosophy of ethics and metaphysics, but he made significant contributions to other disciplines. He made an important astronomical discovery about the nature of Earth's rotation, for which he won the Berlin Academy Prize in 1754. According to Lord Kelvin in 1897, Kant made contributions useful to mathematicians or physical astronomers. According to Thomas Huxley in 1867 Kant made contributions to geology as well when he wrote his General Natural History and Theory of the Celestial Bodies; or, an Attempt to Account for the Constitutional and Mechanical Origin of the Universe, upon Newtonian Principles."
In the General History of Nature and Theory of the Heavens (1755), Kant laid out the Nebular hypothesis, in which he deduced that the Solar System formed from a large cloud of gas, a nebula. Thus he tried to explain the order of the solar system, which Isaac Newton had explained as imposed from the beginning by God. Kant also correctly deduced that the Milky Way was a large disk of stars, which he theorized also formed from a (much larger) spinning cloud of gas. He further suggested that other nebulae might also be similarly large and distant disks of stars. These postulations opened new horizons for astronomy: for the first time extending astronomy beyond the solar system to galactic and extragalactic realms.
In 1792, Kant's attempt to publish the Second of the four Pieces of Religion within the Bounds of Bare Reason, in the journal Berlinische Monatsschrift, met with opposition from the King's censorship commission, which had been established that same year in the context of the French Revolution. Kant then arranged to have all four pieces published as a book, routing it through the philosophy department at the University of Jena to avoid the need for theological censorship. This insubordination earned him a now famous reprimand from the King. When he nevertheless published a second edition in 1794, the censor was so irate that he arranged for a royal order that required Kant never to publish or even speak publicly about religion. Kant then published his response to the King's reprimand and explained himself, in the preface of The Conflict of the Faculties.
During his own life, there was much critical attention paid to his thought. He had an influence on Reinhold, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, and Novalis during the 1780s and 1790s. The school of thinking known as German Idealism developed from his writings.
With his "Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch", Kant is considered to have foreshadowed many of the ideas that have come to form the democratic peace theory, one of the main controversies in political science.
Kant's influence also has extended to the social, behavioral, and physical sciences, as in the sociology of Max Weber, the psychology of Jean Piaget, and the linguistics of Noam Chomsky. Kant's work on mathematics and synthetic a priori knowledge is also cited by theoretical physicist Albert Einstein as an early influence on his intellectual development.
…there has been a renewed interest in Kant's view of the mind. Central to many debates in philosophy of psychology and cognitive science is Kant's conception of the unity of consciousness.