Preface[ edit ] In the preface to the Groundwork Kant motivates the need for pure moral philosophy and makes some preliminary remarks to situate his project and explain his method of investigation. Kant opens the preface with an affirmation of the ancient Greek idea of a threefold division of philosophy into logic, physics, and ethics. Logic is purely formal—it deals only with the form of thought itself, not with any particular objects. Physics and ethics, on the other hand, deal with particular objects: physics is concerned with the laws of nature, ethics with the laws of freedom.
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Through his family pastor, Immanuel Kant received the opportunity to study at the newly founded Collegium Fredericianum, proceeding to the University of Konigsberg, where he was introduced to Wolffian philosophy and modern natural science by the philosopher Martin Knutzen. From to , he served as tutor in various households near Konigsberg. Between and , Kant published treatises on a number of scientific and philosophical subjects, including one in which he originated the nebular hypothesis of the origin of the solar system.
Lambert and Moses Mendelssohn, but a professorship eluded Kant until he was over In Kant finally published his great work, the Critique of Pure Reason. Then, partly through the influence of former student J. Herder, whose writings on anthropology and history challenged his Enlightenment convictions, Kant turned his attention to issues in the philosophy of morality and history, writing several short essays on the philosophy of history and sketching his ethical theory in the Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals The following year Kant published a new, extensively revised edition of the Critique, following it up with the Critique of Practical Reason , treating the foundations of moral philosophy, and the Critique of Judgment , an examination of aesthetics rounding out his system through a strikingly original treatment of two topics that were widely perceived as high on the philosophical agenda at the time - the philosophical meaning of the taste for beauty and the use of teleology in natural science.
From the early s onward, Kant was regarded by the coming generation of philosophers as having overthrown all previous systems and as having opened up a whole new philosophical vista.
During the last decade of his philosophical activity, Kant devoted most of his attention to applications of moral philosophy. At the age of 74, most philosophers who are still active are engaged in consolidating and defending views they have already worked out. Kant, however, had perceived an important gap in his system and had begun rethinking its foundations.
The result was a lengthy but disorganized manuscript that was first published in under the title Opus Postumum. Kant saw the development of reason as a collective possession of the human species, a product of nature working through human history. For him the process of free communication between independent minds is the very life of reason, the vocation of which is to remake politics, religion, science, art, and morality as the completion of a destiny whose shape it is our collective task to frame for ourselves.
Kant: The Metaphysics of Morals
Kant: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals