Immanuel Kant's Philosophy: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Linda Davidson

Linda has taught elementary, middle and high school. She has a master's degree in English.

What is right? What is wrong? What is real? These are hard questions, but philosopher Immanuel Kant wasn't afraid to tackle them. In this lesson, you'll learn what Kant's answers were to the tough questions of life.

Is This Really Here?

You're reading this on a screen, or at least you think you are. Philosopher Immanuel Kant would say you only ''think'' you are looking at a screen. Kant believed that what seems to be real is not necessarily what ''is'' real. He might've said that the screen may seem real to you, but there is no way of knowing whether it is or not. What do you think?

Life's Big Questions

Kant was an interesting guy. Born in 1724 in what is known today as Russia, he grew up in poverty and was always interested in the bigger questions of life. His family was very religious and he grew up with a respect for the role of religion in people's lives.

Kant was very interested in ethics, or the rules that guide the behavior of an individual. Kant felt that morality was important. Morality is correct behavior that provides a code of conduct, or rules to live by. Kant liked how religion provided a morality for people to follow. As he reached adulthood, Kant hoped to replace religious morality with a secular, or non-religious, morality that would do the same job of guiding people's behavior so they could tell right from wrong.

A portrait of Immanuel Kant
A portrait of Immanuel Kant

Right vs. Wrong

One of Kant's most important ideas was called the categorical imperative. This fancy phrase describes a way to decide if something is morally right or morally wrong. Let's say you are taking a test at school. You're considering cheating by copying the answers from the ''smart'' kid's paper.

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