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Immanuel Kant
(22 Apr 1724 - 12 Feb 1804)

German philosopher whose writings investigated rational understanding and were some of the most influential of his era. He wrote the well-known Critique of Practical Reason.


Immanuel Kant Quotes on Nature (11 quotes)

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An organized product of nature is that in which all the parts are mutually ends and means.
— Immanuel Kant
Critik der Urtheilskraft (1799), 296. In William Whewell, History of Scientific Ideas (1858), Vol. 2, 239.
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Deaths, births, and marriages, considering how much they are separately dependent on the freedom of the human will, should seem to be subject to no law according to which any calculation could be made beforehand of their amount; and yet the yearly registers of these events in great countries prove that they go on with as much conformity to the laws of nature as the oscillations of the weather.
— Immanuel Kant
'Idea of a Universal history on a Cosmo-Political Plan' (1784). As translated by Thomas De Quinsey in The London Magazine (Oct 1824), 10, 385. Reprinted in 1859 by De Quincey in Vol. 8 of his Collective Edition of his writings.
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God put a secret art into the forces of Nature so as to enable it to fashion itself out of chaos into a perfect world system.
— Immanuel Kant
Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens (1755), editted and translated by William Hastie in Kant's Cosmogony (1900), 27.
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I maintain that in every special natural doctrine only so much science proper is to be met with as mathematics; for… science proper, especially [science] of nature, requires a pure portion, lying at the foundation of the empirical, and based upon a priori knowledge of natural things. … To the possibility of a determinate natural thing, and therefore to cognise it ΰ priori, is further requisite that the intuition corresponding ΰ priori to the conception should be given; in other words, that the conception should be constructed. But the cognition of the reason through construction of conceptions is mathematical. A pure philosophy of nature in general, namely, one that only investigates what constitutes a nature in general, may thus be possible without mathematics; but a pure doctrine of nature respecting determinate natural things (corporeal doctrine and mental doctrine), is only possible by means of mathematics; and as in every natural doctrine only so much science proper is to be met with therein as there is cognition ΰ priori, a doctrine of nature can only contain so much science proper as there is in it of applied mathematics.
— Immanuel Kant
From Preface to The Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (1786), as translated by Ernest Belford Boax, in Kant’s Prolegomena: And The Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (1883), 140.
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In scientific matters ... the greatest discoverer differs from the most arduous imitator and apprentice only in degree, whereas he differs in kind from someone whom nature has endowed for fine art. But saying this does not disparage those great men to whom the human race owes so much in contrast to those whom nature has endowed for fine art. For the scientists' talent lies in continuing to increase the perfection of our cognitions and on all the dependent benefits, as well as in imparting that same knowledge to others; and in these respects they are far superior to those who merit the honour of being called geniuses. For the latter's art stops at some point, because a boundary is set for it beyond which it cannot go and which has probably long since been reached and cannot be extended further.
— Immanuel Kant
The Critique of Judgement (1790), trans. J. C. Meredith (1991), 72.
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It is presumed that there exists a great unity in nature, in respect of the adequacy of a single cause to account for many different kinds of consequences.
— Immanuel Kant
In Theoretical Philosophy, 1755-1770, trans. and ed. By David Walford (2003), 155.
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Nature even in chaos cannot proceed otherwise than regularly and according to order.
— Immanuel Kant
Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens (1755), editted and translated by William Hastie in Kant's Cosmogony (1900), 26.
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Nature, when left to universal laws, tends to produce regularity out of chaos.
— Immanuel Kant
'Seventh Reflection: Cosmogony' in 'The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God', (1763), editted and translated by David Walford in Theoretical Philosophy, 1755-1770 (2003), 191
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Reason must approach nature with the view, indeed, of receiving information from it, not, however, in the character of a pupil, who listens to all that his master chooses to tell him, but in that of a judge, who compels the witnesses to reply to those questions which he himself thinks fit to propose. To this single idea must the revolution be ascribed, by which, after groping in the dark for so many centuries, natural science was at length conducted into the path of certain progress.
— Immanuel Kant
Critique of Pure Reason, translated by J.M.D. Meiklejohn (1855), Preface to the Second Edition, xxvii.
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We ourselves introduce that order and regularity in the appearance which we entitle ‘nature’. We could never find them in appearances had we not ourselves, by the nature of our own mind, originally set them there.
— Immanuel Kant
…...
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When Galileo caused balls, the weights of which he had himself previously determined, to roll down an inclined plane; when Torricelli made the air carry a weight which he had calculated beforehand to be equal to that of a definite volume of water; or in more recent times, when Stahl changed metal into lime, and lime back into metal, by withdrawing something and then restoring it, a light broke upon all students of nature. They learned that reason has insight only into that which it produces after a plan of its own, and that it must not allow itself to be kept, as it were, in nature's leading-strings, but must itself show the way with principles of judgement based upon fixed laws, constraining nature to give answer to questions of reason's own determining. Accidental observations, made in obedience to no previously thought-out plan, can never be made to yield a necessary law, which alone reason is concerned to discover.
— Immanuel Kant
Critique of Pure Reason (1781), trans. Norman Kemp Smith (1929), 20.
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  • 22 Apr - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Kant's birth.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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