Early Life

  • Born April 22, 1724-Köningsberg
  • Artisan Pietist family
  • Taught hard-work, honesty, cleanliness and independence
  • Attended University of Köningsberg
  • Tutored and then taught at the University

Key Works

  • Three Critiques
  • Critique of Pure Reason
  • Critique of Practical Reason
  • Critique of Judgement
  • Critique of Pure Reason
  • Very long and very complex
  • Determine the limits and scope of Pure Reason (Reason without use of senses)
  • Made distinctions between synthetic and analytic and between a posteriori and a priori knowledge

In all judgments in which the relation of a subject to the predicate is thought (if I only consider affirmative judgments, since the application to negative ones is easy) this relation is possible in two different ways. Either the predicate B belongs to the subject A as something that is (covertly) contained in this concept A; or B lies entirely outside the concept A, though to be sure it stands in connection with it. In the first case, I call the judgment analytic, in the second synthetic.

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  • Some ophthalmologists are ill-humoured.
  • If Holmes killed Sikes, the Watson is dead.


  • All ophthalmologists are doctors.
  • If Holmes killed Sikes, the Sikes is dead.

Rationalism and Empiricism

  • Believed both were insufficient to answer origin of human knowledge
  • Uses transcendental argument to prove new theory
  • Mind has set structure in order to interrupt information but no content-which must be gathered from experience
Georg Simon Ohm: Biography & Physicist

Critique of Practical Reason

  • First major work in ethics
  • So what is moral and who does it apply to?
  • People are ends themselves and not means to achieve an end
  • Can’t prevent others from following moral laws
  • Ideal society=people as both the authors and subjects of  moral law
  • Believes physical law applies to appearances, and our through our will we act with the idea of freedom (free will=deliberation and reflection to act a certain way)
  • Immortality, freedom and god although objects man can never know are essential to moral philosophy

Supreme Moral Principle

  • Act only on a maxim that you can will to be a universal law.“
  • Two perfect duties- No suicide or deceitful promises.
  • Two imperfect duties-“Act as if the maxim[Truth] of your action would become a universal law of nature.“ and humanity is an end not a means.

Critique of Judgement

  • Most famous for the comments on aesthetics-called judgements of taste
  • They are universal due to lack of individual needs/wants
  • Beauty is immediate and harmony is present, mind is not restricted

Middle Life and Later Life

  • He continued to teach at the university until a few years before his death
  • Very particular and orderly
  • After third Critique his health declined and couldn’t complete many planned works
  • On Feb.12, 1804 his last words “Es ist gut”

Contributions to Society and Legacy

  • First to move beyond Rationalism and empiricism
  • Influential in Prussia and lead to German Idealism
  • Major influence on analytic and continental philosophy
  • Theory of Knowledge and other thoeries

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