How Complex Is Immanuel Kant’s Philosophy?

Many consider Immanuel Kant as one of the most abstruse thinkers of the modern day philosophers. His thoughts were originally in German language that got translated into English, which could have made it somewhat complex.

But many believe that what is more complex are his thoughts as he dealt with some hard-to-explain concepts of human mind and ethics.

This further made the German translation Greek to many, yet understood and well received as one of the most ingenious works in human history.

Not just a philosopher, he even made contributions to the study of astronomy with his predictions over the rotation of Earth.

Even now his thoughts and henceforth his interpretations are debated by Kantian scholars resulting in multiple ideologies.

What they might have failed to understand is that Kant was a simple human being, who is said not to have left his town in his lifetime; he has never gone anywhere away from the outskirts of the Baltic port of Konigsberg, where he spent his life teaching and studying philosophy. 

As his concepts were so intrinsic and intricate, there are many discourses that have taken roots from his teachings, making him one of the most abstruse philosophers in history.

But in reality, he must have been a man of uncomplicated, straightforward thoughts and behaviour. What he learnt and taught must be how moral one should be and who should one become through those moral values.

It is our very nature to make assumptions and further complicate things.  His studies and findings are vast that it is not possible to compile every ideas in one go.

Thus we will try and deal with the basic tenets of what he believed to be true. Also we will attempt to understand his philosophy leaving behind the philosophical jargon involved mostly, but only when very much required without any inconvenience to our senses of comprehension.

The complex terms that were used by Kant to add more depth to his thoughts also made his text so incomprehensible to many.

There are two realms of senses involved in a human system. One is what we see, feel and realize and the other what is not realized by the senses or something that is very abstract.

Similar to Freud’s concept of ego, Kant believed that there is some sort of entity or power within us that makes us feel things the way we feel it, even without any experience.

In other words we are born with that entity and we are supposed to act and react as dictated by that entity. Freud named it the ego and classified its three different stages during one’s lifetime, but he didn’t seem to talk about any imperative condition there.

Kant named that power or entity the categorical imperative.  Imperative is something which you are asked to do for sure or ordered to do. For instance, there are certain things that we may do, out of our own will.

Say, if someone wants to become a lawyer, then it is necessary to attend a law school, which is out of a choice and hence this can be called as a hypothetical imperative, whereas a categorical imperative is a condition by instincts inured deep within the soul.

You may call this the moral values of a human being. Example, everybody can lie but not a very few, because just they can’t do it.

Also he says, one must follow a principle only when it is a universally accepted norm to follow that principle.

Let us take the same example of lying. Lying is not a good deed, but not always. Through lying if a person can save one or more lives from a murderer, it is wise to tell a lie.

Still anyhow, lying is not a good deed. 

Thus he says that it is the entity within ourselves that should lead and make us to do things, but not the consequences or benefits of an action. The fundamental concept that makes the entity work within ourselves or the reason that drives us is the mystery, even to Kant. 

Finally, why it all became complex is not because Kant is an abstruse philosopher, but because complexity is the way things around us work from a speck of an atom to the entirety of this universe.

Image Source: FEE.org

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