The ideas of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) are significant enough to be compared to a watershed in Western thought. In his mind were gathered up the major interests of the Enlightenment: science, epistemology, and ethics; and all of these were given a new direction which he himself described as another Copernican revolution. As Copernicus had shown that the earth revolved around the sun, rather than the sun around the earth, so Kant showed that the knowing subject played an active and creative role in the production of his world picture, rather than the static and passive role which the early Enlightenment had assigned him. This change of emphasis from object to subject can be seen in the appearance of the new word, Weltanschauung And the form which this change took was one type of idealism, although different from the idealism of Berkeley. [excerpt]
* Reprinted from Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason and Other Writings in Moral Philosophy, trans. Lewis White Beck (Chicago: UniversiTy of Chicago Press, 1949), pp. 55-66. Used with permission of the University of Chicago Press.
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "5. Immanuel Kant and Critical Idealism. Pt XII: The Post-Enlightenment Period." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 53-69.