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By Immanuel Kant / Longman / 1898
The second of the three critiques, The Critique of Practical Reason, takes up the subject of moral philosophy. Kant argues that the fundamental rule of morality is that it holds universally. He criticizes previous ethicists for saying that the moral person is working toward the greatest good rather than that the greatest good is the thing the moral person is aiming for. Morality determines the greatest good, not the other way around. Kant concludes the work with a plan for moral education.
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Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) was born in Königsberg, Prussia, in a Pietist Lutheran family. He attended the University of Königsberg, becoming a lecturer there after graduation. In 1770, he accepted the chair of logic and metaphysics at Königsberg. He published and taught a variety of subjects, but focused on metaphysics and its relationship to physics and mathematics. He was heavily influenced by the writings of Leibniz, Newton, Hume, and Rousseau, drawing on both the empiricist and the rationalist schools. He wrote works of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and teleology. His revolutionary contribution to philosophy is his argument that human knowledge of the world comes from sense experience but is shaped by innate structures inherent in human reason.