Quotes about Immanuel Kant
93 Sourced Quotes
What truth is not, according to Kuhn, is an accurate representation of the world as it is in itself. Scientific theories represent a world, but one partially constituted by the cognitive activities of the scientists themselves. This is not a commonsensical view, but it has a distinguished philosophical pedigree, associated most strongly with Kant. The Kantian view is that the truths we can know are truths about a 'phenomenal' world that is the joint product of the 'things in themselves' and the organising, conceptual activity of the human mind.
Kuhn [...] is Kant on wheels. Where Kant held that the human contribution to the phenomenal world is invariant, Kuhn's view is that it changes fundamentally across a scientific revolution. This is what he means by his notorious statement that, after a scientific revolution, 'the world changes'. This is neither the trivial claim that scientists' beliefs about the world change, nor the crazy claim that scientists can change the things in themselves simply by changing their beliefs. It is the claim that the phenomenal world changes because the human contribution to it changes.
Isaac Newton deserves to be included in a series of companions to major philosophers even though he was not a philosopher in the sense in which Descartes, Locke, and Kant were philosophers. That is, Newton made no direct contributions to epistemology or metaphysics that would warrant his inclusion in the standard list of major philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries – Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant – or even in a list of other significant philosophers of the era – Bacon, Hobbes, Arnauld, Malebranche, Wolff, and Reid. The contributions to knowledge that made Newton a dominant figure of the last millennium were to science, not to philosophy.
Kant, discussing the various modes of perception by which the human mind apprehends nature, concluded that it is specially prone to see nature through mathematical spectacles. Just as a man wearing blue spectacles would see only a blue world, so Kant thought that, with our mental bias, we tend to see only a mathematical world.
According to Aristotle then excellence of character and intelligence cannot be separated. Here Aristotle expresses a view characteristically at odds with that dominant in the modern world. The modern view is expressed at one level in such banalities as 'Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever' and at another in such profundities as Kant's distinction between the good will, the possession of which alone is both necessary and sufficient for moral worth, and what he took to be a quite distinct natural gift, that of knowing how to apply general rules to particular cases, a gift the lack of which is called stupidity. So for Kant one can be both good and stupid; but for Aristotle stupidity of a certain kind precludes goodness.
Kant's argument [...] cannot and need not rest on the claim that all these alternatives to his interpretation of rational action can be conclusively refuted. It involves only the claim that his interpretation is more natural and reasonable than they are. I also think that so understood, Kant's argument does as much as can possibly be required of any argument purporting to establish a claim about what has ultimate value. In philosophy, as Aristotle wisely tells us, we must not apply the wrong standards to a subject matter (Aristotle 1094b25). This also means we must not expect more of a claim, or an argument for it, than is reasonable.
Kant's view about freedom of the will, […] is one of the most unstable areas in his philosophy. It is a topic he frequently revisited, never saying quite the same thing he ever said before. Kant's theory of freedom, and especially the idea that we are free only in the intelligible world beyond nature, has also been the chief stumbling block to the acceptance of his moral philosophy. The scandal has only increased with the passage of time, as fewer and fewer moral philosophers find it tolerable to burden morality with an extravagant supernaturalist metaphysics.