From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing can ever be made."--"Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose" (1784) by Immanuel Kant
"Kant’s Joke—Kant wanted to prove, in a way that would dumbfound the common man, that the common man was right: that was the secret joke of this soul. He wrote against the scholars in support of popular prejudice, but for scholars and not for the people." --Nietzsche
“Kant is the one author for whom I cannot feel any kinship. Everything in him exasperates me, above all his legalism – always asking Quid Juris? Or ‘Haven’t you crossed the limit?’ - combined, as in today’s United States, with a religiosity that is all the more dismal in that it is both omnipresent and vague. The critical machinery he set up has enduringly poisoned philosophy, while giving great succour to the academy, which loves nothing more than to rap the knuckles of the overambitious [...] That is how I understand the truth of Monique David-Menard’s reflections on the properly psychotic origins of Kantianism (La Folie dans la raison pure). I am persuaded that the whole of the critical enterprise is set up to to shield against the tempting symptom represented by the seer Swedenborg, or against ‘diseases of the head’, as Kant puts it” p. 535-536. --Logics of Worlds by Alain Badiou
"Kant's famous definition of the beautiful. 'That is beautiful,' says Kant, 'which pleases without interesting.' Without interesting! Compare this definition with this other one [...] by Stendhal, who once called the beautiful une promesse de bonheur. Here, at any rate, the one point which Kant makes prominent in the aesthetic position is repudiated and eliminated—le désinteressement. Who is right, Kant or Stendhal?" --Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality
Immanuel Kant (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher who is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy. He argued that human concepts and categories structure our view of the world and its laws, and that reason is the source of morality. His thought continues to hold a major influence in contemporary thought, especially in fields such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics.
Kant's major work, the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft, 1781), aimed to resolve disputes between empirical and rationalist approaches and to move beyond what he took to be failures of traditional philosophy and metaphysics. The book was placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.
The philosophical concept of the sublime, as described in the Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, took inspiration in part from attempts to comprehend the enormity of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.
A humorous way to be introduced to Kant is La vie sexuelle d'Emmanuel Kant (1999) by Jean-Baptiste Botul.
Immanuel Kant was born in 1724 in Königsberg as the fourth of nine children (four of them reached adulthood).
In his entire life, he never traveled more than 10 miles from Königsberg.
He never married. However, there were women in Kant's life for which he had an affection (and vice versa). Documented affections are Caroline von Keyserling, Maria Charlotte Jacobi, and Charlotte Amalie von Knobloch. It is not known if any of these affections were consummated.
Kant did not seem to lack a rewarding social life — he was a popular teacher and a modestly successful author even before starting on his major philosophical works.
Kant lectured on anthropology for over 25 years. His Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View was published in 1798. (This was the subject of Michel Foucault's doctoral dissertation.) Kant's Lectures on Anthropology were published for the first time in 1997 in German. The former was translated into English and published by the Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy series in 2006.
Kant was among the first people of his time to introduce anthropology as an intellectual area of study long before the field gained popularity. As a result, his texts are considered to have advanced the field. Kant’s point of view also influenced the works of philosophers after him such as Martin Heidegger, Paul Ricoeur, and Jean Greisch.
Kant viewed anthropology in two broad categories. One category was the physiological approach which he referred to as “what nature makes of the human being”. The other category was the pragmatic approach which explored the things a human “can and should make of himself”.
Today, not everyone is as enthusiastic about Kant's philosophy, especially in the field of aesthetics and taste where cultural relativism has gained favour since the advent of postmodernism. Kant has been criticized for reasoning "that aesthetic judgements have universal validity. Kant was wrong. Immanuel Kant searched for the basis of aesthetic motivation. For such a difficult journey, Köningsberg [where he was born and died] was not a good place to start. The age of consumerism has no time for Kant." (Stephen Bayley, 1991)
Marquis de Sade was born 16 years after Kant. Altough he probably never read Kant, his philosophy turns out to be antithetical to Kant's. One of the essays in Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947) is titled "Juliette or Enlightenment and Morality" and interprets the ruthless and calculating behavior of Juliette as the embodiment of the philosophy of enlightenment. Similarly, psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan posited in his 1966 essay "Kant avec Sade" that de Sade's ethic was the complementary completion of the categorical imperative originally formulated by Immanuel Kant. Slavoj Zizek even went further in Kant and Sade: The Ideal Couple when he dared to ask whether there is "a line from Kantian formalist ethics to the cold-blooded Auschwitz killing machine?"
List of works
- (1746) Thoughts on the True Estimation of Vital Forces (Gedanken von der wahren Schätzung der lebendigen Kräfte)
- (1755) A New Explanation of the First Principles of Metaphysical Knowledge (Neue Erhellung der ersten Grundsätze metaphysischer Erkenntnisse; Doctoral Thesis: Principiorum primorum cognitionis metaphysicae nova dilucidatio)
- (1755) Universal Natural History and Theory of Heaven (Allgemeine Naturgeschichte und Theorie des Himmels)
- (1756) Monadologia Physica
- (1762) The False Subtlety of the Four Syllogistic Figures (Die falsche Spitzfindigkeit der vier syllogistischen Figuren)
- (1763) The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God (Der einzig mögliche Beweisgrund zu einer Demonstration des Daseins Gottes)
- (1763) Attempt to Introduce the Concept of Negative Magnitudes into Philosophy (Versuch den Begriff der negativen Größen in die Weltweisheit einzuführen)
- (1764) Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime (Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen)
- (1764) Essay on the Illness of the Head (Über die Krankheit des Kopfes)
- (1764) Inquiry Concerning the Distinctness of the Principles of Natural Theology and Morality (the Prize Essay) (Untersuchungen über die Deutlichkeit der Grundsätze der natürlichen Theologie und der Moral)
- (1766) Dreams of a Spirit Seer (On Emmanuel Swedenborg) (Träume eines Geistersehers)
- (1770) Inaugural Dissertation (De mundi sensibilis atque intelligibilis forma et principiis)
- (1775) On the Different Races of Man (Über die verschiedenen Rassen der Menschen)
- (1781) First edition of the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft
- (1783) "Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics" (Prolegomena zu einer jeden künftigen Metaphysik)
- (1784) "An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment?" (Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?
- (1784) "Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose" (Idee zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltbürgerlicher Absicht)
- (1785) Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten)
- (1786) Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (Metaphysische Anfangsgründe der Naturwissenschaft)
- (1786) Conjectural Beginning of Human History
- (1787) Second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft)
- (1788) Critique of Practical Reason (Kritik der praktischen Vernunft
- (1790) Critique of Judgement (Kritik der Urteilskraft)
- (1790) The Science of Right
- (1793) Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone (Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der bloßen Vernunft)
- (1793) On the Old Saw: That may be right in theory, but it won't work in practice (Über den Gemeinspruch: Das mag in der Theorie richtig sein, taugt aber nicht für die Praxis)
- (1795) Perpetual Peace (Zum ewigen Frieden )
- (1797) Metaphysics of Morals (Metaphysik der Sitten)
- (1798) Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (Anthropologie in pragmatischer Hinsicht)
- (1798) The Contest of Faculties (Der Streit der Fakultäten)
- (1800) Logic (Logik)
- (1803) On Pedagogy (Über Pädagogik)
- (1804) Opus Postumum
- (1817) Lectures on Philosophical Theology (Immanuel Kants Vorlesungen über die philosophische Religionslehre edited by K. H. L. Pölitz). [The English edition of A. W. Wood & G. M. Clark (Cornell, 1978) is based on Pölitz' second edition, 1830, of these lectures.]
- Kant's metaphysics
- Deontological ethics
- Kant and Eros
- The Last Days of Immanuel Kant (1827) by Thomas de Quincey
- La vie sexuelle d'Emmanuel Kant (1999) by Jean-Baptiste Botul