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Biography Of Immanuel Kant: Life And Contributions

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Kant was a philosopher who lived in Prussia as a university professor. Dedicated his life to contribute to the world with his thoughts. Kant experimented most of the significant changes of the eighteenth century and his thoughts were an expression of the new modernity conception of that times. He was a representative of the criticism and promoted the German idealism, and is well known as an influent figure of modern Europe.

Kants life was uniform and methodic, without adventures or eccentricities, a reserved man that can be understood by this philosophy and works(Otfrie Hoffe, 2001 ). He used to follow strict routines which follow methodically and with high precision

Immanuel Kant was born on April 22 of 1724 in Königsberg, a Prussian city under the Frederik Williams I rules. Descendant of harness makers Johan Georg Kant and Ana Regina Kant. His father moved from Tilsit to Königsberg, the marriage with a daughter of a tradesman allows him to live as independent craftsmen. That was because the guild regulated the exercise of business in the city and approved the ones who could open a business in there and the journeymen had to belong to a guild to be able to work. And as a foreigner the only way to get into the business was to marry to a master`s daughter. Belonging to a guild meant that special laws and customs applied to the craftsman and to his entire family due the guilds were independent of public authorities, but nevertheless be a member of them means that the family belonged to a “respectable” class.

To be a harness maker was not the most distinguished guild but let the Kant`s had a fairly good living and a respectful social stand and they were proud of that honor (Mandred Kuehn, 2001), also they sons had special rights to be birth members of the guild. To be a harness maker was not a way to be rich or access to luxuries, but let the family live in a comfortable house by the standards of the century.

In 1733 the whole family moved to the house of Kant`s mother in law, due the death of her husband Johann had to took care of their business. The business started to decline due to the new location had more competitors, the age of the father and also because of the crisis of the guild system. The guild system was not that efficient as it was before due the quarreling between them and the abuses, also the relation between the masters and journeyman were not that well, nonetheless the guild system still remining powerful.

The environment generated by the quarrels between the harness and the saddle makers affected the family. Even though Kant`s parents manage that situations with respect and love to their enemies, trusting in their destiny. The teachings imparted to Immanuel in these times marked his education, being part of his memories even though he was a child when he experienced that. During the 1730s and 1740 was difficult for the family to make living of their profession due the saddle makers encroached the harness market, a profession that was being absorbed in many places by them.

Immanuel had a protected youth were his parents take care of him and his siblings overcoming the difficulties of the business. Johann and Regina were good parents described as decent and honorable. Immanuel felt grateful to his parents and highlight the noble education he received form them and remembered his childhood with gratification. He wrote in a letter “my two parents (from the class of tradesmen) were perfectly honest, morally decent, and orderly. They did not leave me a fortune, but neither did they leave me any debts. Moreover, they gave me an education that could not have been better when considered from the moral point of view. Every time I think of this I am touched by feelings of the highest gratitude” (Mandred Kuehn, 2001)

Kant was formed with the values of industriousness, honesty, sincerity, moral sense, and grew in a respectful, supportive, warm and very religious environment provided by his family. Kant`s family was influenced by Pietism, and followed its practices and beliefs as well as many tradesman's. Known Pietism movement as a religious doctrine of the protestant church, that came up in opposition to the formalism of orthodox protestant and proponed a religion focus in the heart, and an emotional and sincere feeling. These impacted in his intellectual development but it's not possible to know if this had influence in Kant's philosophy. The way he was erased formed him with self confidence in his abilities and a strong moral statement, based in the distinctive character of the guilds which were characterized by independence, self-determination, self-sufficiency and honor. Kant background was formed by the simple morality of guilds and the Pietism of his parents

In 1730 Immanuel Kant went to Vorstädter Hospitalschule school, were was thought the basics with other children of this neighborhood . After a shot time he stated classes in the Collegium Fridericianum from 1732 to 1740, a Pietistic institution under a strict religious system. Kant described his time there as an horrifying experience and defines as “the slavery of his youth” (…)., were an atmosphere of punishment coercion and strict education dominated the institution.

As a student with highest grades its unlikely to got punishments very often, but he was witness of corporal punishment daily. Students were prepared for high office in civil life and for the church, providing a well preparation for the Prussia of the eighteenth century. Immanuel as a commoner this was an opportunity to social growth. Was an education focused on the self-discipline of the body and the mind, educating the intellect and the will according to moral and religious principles, however was not an education which encourages independent or critical thinking.

During the school period he felt the pressure related to convert than to the intellectual demand. He was graduated from the Fridericianum as the second of his class. Kant turned away for the searching of soul and self-condemnation of the Pietists to the French literature, changing the religious scope.

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In the 1740 the family was declared poor by the taxation system, and the family received support from friends and other family members. Immanuel was able to study thanks of the assistance received form an uncle, a shoemaker craftsman who had a better position than Kant`s family.

Kant assisted to the Albertina University of Königsberg were he become a member of the university. That condition meant that he was more under the rules of the officials of the university as independent corporation, than the city rules. That involved a series of rights as protection of the mandatory army. At the university Kant was moved to the academic guild, this was similar to belong to the nobility for those who become form a craftsman guild.

At university he took classes in philosophy, mathematics, logic, theology disputation, rational psychology, natural law, rhetoric, algebra, mnemonics, analysis of the infinite and also, he was introduced to the physics of Isaac Newton. During his studies Kant tutored other students, and live a modest student life without suffering needs. He was supported by his uncle and helped by his fraternity of colleagues in order to get quarters and clothes. When he was a senior student, he tutored the young students not only in academic subjects but also in moral.

Finally, he finished university in 1748 at the age of twenty our and he was on his own due the lost of his father. He moved to the estate of von Hülsen and become a private teacher, a Hofmeister. After three years he moved to Arnsberg under the services of a Prussian knight, to thought to his sons. Kant stablished good relations with the families and pupils and usually kept in contact even after he moved to another place. While his time of Hofmeister he developed manners and social skills but also increased his knowledge ins philosophy and science. And also, he started private studies, which later would be used for his further works.

In 1755 Kant achieved his Magister degree in philosophy, that allows him to teach at university. That was a difficult way of leaving due he just received money from the fees collected form the students in his classes. He used not to follow strictly the textbooks while he added observations and his own theories. Kant thought with dry humor but without didactic methods lectures of logic, metaphysics, mathematics, physics, anthropology, geography, philosophy of religion, natural law, moral philosophy and ethics. Nevertheless, he encourages independent thought and that caught the interest of his students form the very beginning.

In the context of seven-year war, in 1758 Prussian army lost a battle at Groß Jägersdorf against the Russians. That implied that Königsberg was since that moment under Russian occupation, that situation lasted till 1762. The life style in the city changed, there was more money and social activity, and brought open mind ideas, luxuries and costumes into the Prussian austerity.

During this period Kant situation improved due the taught officers in his lectures and gave private classes, that contribute to Kant`s finances. Also, during those times Kant usually attended to the theaters, went to the most respected saloons and also shared dinners and parties with Russian officers, bankers, nobles, the court of the countess and influent figures of the high society. As the countess of Keyserlingks was interested in philosophy, Kant was a regular dinner guest and he stablished an association for thirty years with the family.

In 1776 Kant becomes dean of the faculty of philosophy situation which was repeated a few times again after a few years. He serves as dean in 1779, 1782, 1785 and in 1794. In 1780 the becomes a permanent member of the university senate till 1804. And in 1786 Kant become rector of the university as well as in 1788 but he had to decline to its proposition in 1796 due to his heath condition.

As his religious teaching were based in the rationalism and not in the divine revelation, that brought problems with the Prussian government. For that view about the religion, in 1792 Frederik II forbidden Kant to teach or write about religious topics. That prohibition lasted during the king`s life, after his death Kant felt free from that duty.

In 1796 Kant begun his retirement, his mental power started to vanishing slowly and that was getting worst by the years, till they were completely disappeared turning the great thinker in an incompetent. He was incapable to teach at the university by the winter semester of 1796 due to his weakness and his declined mind. He got worst through the years and in 1799 was clear that he will never teach at the university again due he suffered dementia. Kant said to his friends 'I am old and weak. Consider me as a child.'( Mandred Kuehn. 2001)

The last five years before his death Kant was prepared to die and hoped each night was his last night. A long process of deterioration affecting first his memory and then his body become a difficult path to reach the death. He lost his short-term memory first, till the point he wasn`t able to remember the last hours. The weakness of his body forced him to stay at bed where he lost weight reducing him to bones.

Kant died at the age of 79 in 1804, he was honored as a king when he passed away with a adapted cantata written at the death for the great Prussian king (Frederick II). Kant was one of the most important citizens of Königsberg. His grave is outside of Königsberg cathedral, actual Kaliningrado, and is one of the few german monuments kept by the soviets after the city was conquerd and anexed in 1945.

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