PHILOSOPHY: Immanuel Kant


Immanuel Kant is a philosopher who tried
to work out how human beings could be good and kind outside of the
exaltations and blandishments of traditional religions. He was born in
1724, in the Baltic city of Königsberg, which at that time was part of Prussia
and now belongs to Russia, renamed Kaliningrad. Kant’s parents were very
modest, his father was a saddle maker Kant never had much money, a fact he
dealt with cheerfully by living very modestly. It wasn’t until he was in his
fifties that he became a fully salaried professor and attained a moderate degree
of prosperity. His family were deeply religious and very strict. Later in life Kant did not have any conventional
religious beliefs, but he was acutely aware of just how much religion had
contributed to his parents’ ability to cope with all the hardships of their
existence and how useful religion could be in fostering social cohesion and
community. Kant was physically very slight, frail, and anything but good
looking, yet he was very sociable and some of his colleagues used to criticize him
for going to too many parties. When eventually he was able to entertain, he
had rules about conversation at his table. At the start of a dinner party he
decreed that people should swap stories about what had been happening recently,
then there should be a major phase of reflective discourse in which those
present attempted to clarify an important topic, and finally there should
be a closing period of hilarity so that everyone left in a good mood. He died in
1804 in his eightieth year in Königsberg, having rarely felt the need
to spend any time outside the city in which he was born. Kant was writing at a
highly interesting period in history we now know as The Enlightenment. In an
essay called “What is Enlightenment?” published in 1784, Kant proposed that
the identifying feature of his age was its growing secularism. Intellectually,
Kant welcomed the declining belief in Christianity, but in a practical sense he
was also alarmed by it. He was a pessimist about human character and
believed that we are by nature intensely prone to corruption. It was this
awareness that led him to formulate what would be his life’s project, the desire to replace religious
authority with the authority of reason, that is human intelligence. When it came to religion, Kant summed up his views in a book entitled “Religion within the bounds of reason alone”. Here he argued that although historical religions had all
been wrong in the content of what they believed, they had latched onto a great
need to promote ethical behavior, a need which still remained. It was in this context that Kant came up with the idea for which he’s perhaps still most famous, what he called the “Categorical Imperative”. This strange sounding term
first appeared in a horrendously named work “Groundwork of the metaphysics of
morals”. The Categorical Imperative states: What did Kant mean by this this? This was only a very formal restatement of an idea that’s
been around for a long time, something we meet within all the main
religions: Kant was offering
a handy way of testing the morality of an action by imagining how it would be
if it were generally practiced and you were the victim of it. It might be tempting
to filter a few pads of paper from the station recovered at work, it seems like
a small thing. But if everyone did this, the cupboard and society at large would
need a lot of guards. Similarly, if you have an affair and keep it quiet from
your partner you might feel that’s okay but the categorical imperative comes
down against this because you would then have to embrace the idea that it would
be equally okay for your partner to have affairs and not tell you. The categorical
imperative is designed to shift our perspective, to get us to see our own
behavior in less immediately personal terms and thereby recognize some of its
limitations. Kant went on to argue that the core idea of the categorical
imperative could be stated in another way: This was intended as a replacement for the
Christian injunction for universal love, the command to “love one’s neighbor.” To
treat a person as an end, for Kant meant keeping in view that they had a life of their
own in which they were seeking happiness and fulfillment and deserve justice and
fair treatment. The categorical imperative, Kant argued, is the voice of
our own rational selves. It’s what we all truly believe when we’re thinking
sensibly, it’s the rule our own intelligence gives us. Kant extended his thinking
about the categorical imperative into the political sphere. He believed that the
central duty of government is to ensure liberty, but he sensed there was
something terribly wrong with the ordinary definition of freedom or
liberty, it should not be thought of in libertarian terms as the ability to do
just whatever we want. We are free only when we act in accordance with our own
best natures, and we are slaves whenever we are under the rule of our own
passions or those of others. As Kant put it, So freedom isn’t an absence of government, a free society isn’t one that allows people more and more opportunity to do whatever they
happen to fancy. It’s one that helps everyone become more reasonable. The good
state represents the rational element in us all. It rules according to a
universally valid will under which everyone can be free, so
government ideally is the externalized, institutionalized version of the best
parts of ourselves. It might be a bit surprising at first to discover that in
1793, Kant published a major work on beauty and art, “The Critique of Judgment.” It might seem like a bit of a sideline for a thinker otherwise concerned with
politics and ethics, but Kant held that his ideas about art and beauty were the cornerstones of his entire philosophy As we’ve been seeing, Kant thought that life involved a constant struggle between our better selves and our passions, between
duty and pleasure. Beauty, Kant especially liked roses, vines, apple trees and birds, delights us in a very special and important way. It’s a reminder of
and goad to our better selves, unlike so much else in our lives, our love of
beauty is in Kant’s word “disinterested,” it takes us out of our narrow, selfish
concerns but in a charming delightful way without being stern or demanding. The
beauty of nature is a continual, quiet, and insistent reminder of our common
universal being. A pretty flower is just as attractive to the tired farm worker
as to the prince. The graceful flight of a swallow is as lovely to a child as to
the most learned professor. For Kant, the role of art is to embody the most important ethical ideas It’s a natural extension of philosophy.
Kant held that we needed to have art continually before us, so as to benefit
from vivid illustrations and memorable symbols of good behavior and thereby keep the wayward parts of ourselves in check Kant’s books were dense, abstract, and highly intellectual, but in them he sketched a very important project that
remains crucial to this day. He wanted to understand how the better, more
reasonable parts of our natures could be strengthened so as to reliably win out
over our inbuilt weaknesses and selfishness. As Kant saw it, he was engaged
in the task of developing a secular, rational version of what religions had,
very imperfectly, always attempted to do, help us to be good

100 thoughts on “PHILOSOPHY: Immanuel Kant”

  1. Thank you for this, this was helpfull. But, does narrator have an British accent? Sometimes it's really hard for me to understand what he's saying. (I'm not a native speaker.)

  2. Kant was explicitly opposed to the Golden Rule. He cites the example of a judge who follows it as being unjust.

  3. Interesting, he was disenchanted with human nature because of its inclination to corruption, he went on to racionalism, human reason being the ruler

  4. His view on government seems pretty close to the non aggression principle of libertarian, just with more moral.

  5. All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.

  6. I took ethical philosophy in college, and we understood Kant differently. It's not that he says, "do unto others how you would love to be done," rather, it was imagine everyone else in the world is in the same situation as you, and thereby choose and act the option that would be ethical (ok) if the entire world did as you (that's the maxim). The example we used was: your wife is diagnosed with a rare disease and a pharmaceutical company developed a new pill at 2000$ that you cannot afford, but you know for a fact that it only costs 200$ to make. If you wished to steal, you have to imagine that everyone else in the world has a sick wife and are in the same situation as you, therefore, if you chose the maxim of stealing, then you are saying it is ethical at all times and at all places to steal if in this situation. And that is how you arrive at the conclusion that it is ethically wrong to do so (in this case to steal), never have we mentioned, "put yourself in the pharmaceutical company's shoes or the store keepers' shoes." But notice how this will take you back to the same starting point again due to the "choose the maxim that would be ethical…" Well how would you know what it is ethical or not? That is what we were trying to solve in the first place! That is why I love his system because it recognizes the human intelligence, hence, you use your intelligence to determine "would it be 'ethical' if everyone else in the world did as I am about to do if they found themselves in this situation I am in?" Your intelligence is your weighting scale. Not a utilitarian pro/con list.

  7. In High school I had dinner with a friend of mine's family who's father was a diplomat to Russia. The children which were us were not allowed to speak at the table but made to listen to parents conversation. Were not even allowed to ask if someone would pass the salt

  8. The explanation of the categorical imperative is totally wrong.
    It is not designed to shift perspective.
    When testing the maxim of your action, you are supposed to look for contradictions. You are not supposed to think about what if everyone does it or what if my action comes back to me in a reciprocal action that is done to me. That‘s not at all what the categorical imperative is.

  9. When I feel bad,unhappy from time to time watche and read some of oure great thinckers,writters and see the relativety of my fears,unhappyness,bee courageuis,mercyfull,Giving again for now,untill fear,meaniglesnes of it all creaps again in my thouths.

  10. i have my final in science ethics and philospohy tomorrow and i've learnt more from youtube than the lectures<3

  11. "act according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law." Oooooooh extraordinary and profound! So innovative. Just joking. Kant is in reality a waste of time of a philosopher. I still don't understand how such a great channel as the School of Life waste their time with such a boring and inhumane philosopher. Just look at that statement. Is it really innovative? liberating? absolutely not. Why? because we already act and talk acording to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. We always talk as if touching a universal sphere, even the most ignorant people act like this. What we need actually is people that doubt more, not idiots that aspire to become universal. Sigh… the worst philosopher, no doubt. A philosopher that belonged to that period in which one could be a philosopher for the sake of being it. As if doing science with philosophy. Disgusting. He just has historical value and a great name: "KANT!" Uuuuh, i'm already shitting in my pants. Kant will be useful for you to pass an exam, to get a degree or to make you feel important about yourself and waste the time hoping to find something of value there, but nothing else actually.

  12. Ethical behavior. I so much enjoyed learning about the categorical imperative that I had made a video on my channel about it.
    Thanks guys this video explains his theory well

  13. Kant was bright.. for his time. I give him that. If only he could take into account that the bad sides of humans are just as important as the good sides that have for millions of years been essential to our evolution. This guy Kant is a vegan philosopher. Dude we have 4 canines! Eating meat, waging wars, greed, looking out for one's self is what evolved our brain. Had we stuck to eating plants our species would be as dumb as apes. We refused that route and decided to be hunters. What animal is vegan and also smart? None! I rest my case. Our evil side gave us brains because hunters are smart. Except for cats. Those fuckers are lazy and doomed to fail. Screw cats. Viva the dogs. Oh by the way I Am Mother sent me here. Good movie but Mother is wrong!! That robot can give me a BJ any day of the week after making me a sandwich

  14. About the "good" and the "bad"… the narrator mentioned a few things that are "bad" such as greed, corruption, marital infidelity. But they do have their place in a person's life, and in society as well.

    It would be nice to have a moral system which does not separate specific behaviour or quality into "good" and "bad" but into useful and useless. But then you run into things being both useful and useless at the same time (but not at the same respect), just as with "good" and "bad".

    Morality was not solved by Kant with his categorical imperative; he gave a tool, a guidance tool, but at its most basic, morality as such eludes definition or even description to this age.

  15. i get it. When Kant meant universal law he basically just meant common sense. like it should be a social norm therefore applying to everyone if you look at most philosophers they are all basically trying to create their own social norms

  16. This imperative to 'do to others as one would wish for oneself' is a fine dictum. Yet almost everyone in the west ignores that this is actually a christian ethic, and there are other entirely different philosophical rules held equally deeply by others. Oddly enough, it seems to work for everyone's benefit, yet, if it will finally succumb we will see one day to come.

  17. The problem with Kant theory is that religious people are moral but they are so not because of the morality itself, but because they fear God , if you remove God , nobody would bother thinking ''how what I do would affect me if this is done to me''. People need coersion in one form or another to act properly….

  18. The categorical imperative is not the same as the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you). I’ll keep this simplistic to aid understanding.

    The Golden Rule is subjective. It allows you to make subjective judgments. For instance, if your friend lay dying at a hospital, and you just learnt that his beloved dog had died as well, you might not tell him than if he asked about his dog, because you might not want someone to tell you the truth in such a circumstance. You might consider lying in this regard permissible. You might think it keeps the other party happy.

    Kant would disagree. The underlying principle of you lying, is dishonesty. Kant would say “To lie is bad.” Why? Because everyone lying would plunge society into chaos. No one would believe the other. (Another subtle distinction here, this time from utilitarianism: Your not lying because “Everyone lying makes the world absolutely sceptical,” is akin to utilitarianism. This was John Stuart Mill’s objection. He said Kant was just looking at the long-term picture and saying people would be unhappy(less utility).

    Kant’s followers said no. They said lying isn’t bad because it makes people sceptical. Rather, it produces that result because it is morally bad. It is morally bad, because it is against the categorical imperative. This, it’s violation of the categorical imperative is why it leads to that adverse outcome.

    This, the “universal applicability test” is simply a means to “find out” what the categorical imperative is. Lying is bad, not because it produces bad outcomes. Rather, it produces bad outcomes because it is morally bad).

    The categorical imperative is objective. It can have only one outcome. Lying is bad, and if you follow Kantian philosophy you can never do it. This is a controversial characteristic of deontology (which says rules are absolute and if you have one you must follow it). I’ll use an example by Michael Sandel (Off note, read his book “Justice”). You have a Nazi official at your door, and have Anne Frank hiding at your place. He asks you if she’s there. Lying is bad. What do you do?

  19. Art also sets us apart from animals – very few animals indulge in art of any kind – some birds do decorate their nests but for the most part all most animals care about is where their next meal is coming from and how they can keep themselves from becoming one
    And this is where the concept of Heaven is so dangerous – it lowers us down to animals – only caring about personal comforts, pleasures of the flesh – then we become no better than animals
    And Hinduism says Tat Tvam Asi – You Are That – or you become that
    Heaven then, is simply a case of us lowering ourselves down to an animal level
    We get heaven – our pet dog or cat has no worries or responsibilities – all day do is eat, play, poop and sleep

  20. I laughed out loud at 5:30 when he's talking about people doing "whatever they happen to fancy" and it zooms into a part of the painting where some dude's stuffing flowers up some other dude's butt

  21. Your videos are good until your summaries in which you try to pin everything down to your base understandings. I need to remember to click off when you start those.

  22. so he say that you should treat others like you want to be treated but ppl never acted like this do not act like this and will never act like this

  23. At minute (5 of 8) you use the word "libertarian" incorrectly. Libertarians believe that action is limited by the rights of others. Probably you mean "libertine".

  24. Uh, no? "What is Enlightenment" has almost nothing to do with religion. It is about people taking for granted everything they are told, and not thinking for themselves; a state which he called "Tutelage". He said that the reason people wont think critically, is because of Laziness and Fear. And by submitting themselves to tutelage, people allow to dictatorships to arise, whether it be the Catholic church or governments or scholarly institutions. He said that the only way for people to be able to free themselves from tutelage, and thus be enlightened, is if they had freedom to do so. For a modern example, the people in North Korea and even China do not have the freedom to be enlightened. They are not allowed to think freely.

  25. Had to stop watching halfway thru. Couldnt get past the bizarre and gimmicky visuals. Seems like this channel is pandering to dumb people

  26. Realy…. Kant discarded the notion of religion (christianity) and not of god… He himself talks about god alot !! And he has formulated an argument for his existance !!!!
    What a bad atheistic video

  27. This class is kicking my ass, thank you so much for explaining in 3 mins what my proof took 3 hours to explain.

  28. Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
    Who was very rarely stable,
    Heidegger Heidegger was a boozy beggar
    Who could think you under the table.
    David Hume could out-consume
    Schopenhauer and Hegel,
    Wittgenstein was a beery swine
    Who was just as sloshed as as Schlegel…..
    (M. Python, Bruces’ Philosophers Song)

  29. Does anyone think Nietzsche understood Kant's works well or not? He seems to lampoon him to some degree in Beyond Good & Evil

  30. The golden rule however nullifies in the "real" world as you don't know what the other person's preferences means, the preference of everyone should be same and not differ and be universal.

  31. The Golden Rule depends on contingent facts about how people would like to be treated.
    The Categorical Imperative requires that we abstract from such contingencies and respect persons as rational beings/ends in themselves, regardless of what they (or we) might want in a particular situation.
    Say you have to tell your frail mother on her deathbed that your brother just died in a car accident. If you (in her shoes) would not want to no this – according to the Golden Rule – you would not tell her.
    But this for Kant is wrong since you would lie to her out of concern for her feelings which arguably uses her as a means to her own contentment rather than respect her as a rational being.

  32. Khant for me was too much of an immature idealist. His “Categorical Imperative” relies too heavily on “reason” aka (“psychological structure/order”) that only evolved through the metaphysics of shamanic based religions. Just as Khant as an individual relied on his parents moral structure to grow and form his own ideas during the enlightenment. Khant was also obsessed with what we’d essentially call “central planning” which is essentially a type of “God complex”. In the end human beings need hierarchy, it’s how we’ve evolved. In my opinion because religion is a meme through which humanity evolved to contextualize, understand, and give meaning to the internal and external world it cannot be fully divorced from our psyche. Instead it seems to oscillate with scientific understanding which is in itself part of the mythological/psychological cycle.

  33. Just discovered my great uncle like 6 times removed or however it works was his best friend. Thought I'd find out what kind of company he kept, seems like he had his head on straight

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