After my first brief attempt at writing about Kant, Hegel and Schopenhauer I've since been to a productive seminar. The main argument is whether something exists or not and how we can know this. I find this concept hard to imagine as you have to think about whether something exists even if we can see it. It always helps talking to others in my group I feel like I might have grasped this a little bit better now. Anyway here are some more detailed words about them.
Immanuel Kant is considered to be the first of German Idealists. He is considered to be the greatest Philosopher. He blended rationalism and empiricist theories.
Rationalism- knowledge could be attained my knowledge alone a priori (before experience)
Empiricism- knowledge that is only be gained through sensory experience a posteriori
Kant’s solution was that whilst we know facts about the world through our sensory experience we can know the facts about the form it takes a priori to experience.
This is other wise known as an agnostic approach.
His most important work was the 'critique of pure reason' (1781)
Before Kant it was believed that a priori knowledge was analytic and before you can know anything exists it has to be a predicate of something.
(A precedent is the conclusion or the result of something)
Descartes had said ' I think therefore I am' this states the predicate of thinking is existence. However Kant rejects this and believed existence is not the predicate, existence is not caused by anything. Existence comes first. Kant would of said ' I exist therefore I think '. This was a big break through as it opposed what previous philosophers had taught.
In the 'critique of pure reason’ Kant made a distinction between four propositions.
Analytic propositions: True by virtue of their meaning. The predicate concept is contained in its subject concept.
Synthetic propositions: Where the predicate concept is not contained in its subject concept.
Empirical propositions: knowledge is gained through sensory experience. A priori propositions-
Apriori proposition: a proposition whose justification does not rely upon experience. Moreover, the proposition can be validated by experience, but is not grounded in experience. Therefore, it is logically necessary.
Kant's argument is that there is no problem figuring out how knowledge of analytic propositions is possible. To know an analytic proposition, Kant argued, one need not consult experience.
There is no problem understanding how we can know analytic propositions. We can know them because we just need to consult our concepts in order to determine that they are true. Therefore if we believe it is true then we can stick to this instinct.
Unlike Hume who said you should doubt the existence of everything.
Hegel 1770- 1831
Hegel was the next German philosopher following Kant. He is well known for his account of history, an account which was later taken over by Marx culminating in communism. Since the 1970s, Hegel’s systematic thinking has been revived, it is known as Hegelianism. Hegel had great respect for the state believed it is infinite.
Hegel’s book the ‘Science of Knowledge’ 1807 was greatly important when understanding metaphysical and logical theories obtained by Marx. Hegel went on to explain the idea that nothing is real except for the whole. He looked at phenomenology existence. The study of things from a first person perceptive. He says that we only know reality once we have understood the appearances of the objects the phenomena. He believed that there is always a subject and precedent.
The Duck/Rabbit image highlights this issue of self consciences that Hegel looks at and how we look things differently.
Hegel’s idea on society was that people must be forced to be free. Until the perfect state is reached all states should be judged. The perfect state would be the closest to the Garden of Eden. Hegel believes in the Totalitarian state similar to the Prussian state in the 19th Century. In the perfect state nobody would need holidays as they would say that the state they live in is perfect enough.
Hegel deines absolute freedom as a mode of consciouness that clearly comprehends that essential being and concrete actualaity is found in the knowledge that conscieouness has of itself. Absolute Freedom leads to the opportunity for moral action.
The smoking ban introduced in 2007 is an example of how we need the state to help us. This is a Hegelian transition.
Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860
Schopenhauer, a reader of both Kant and Hegel, criticized their logical optimism and the belief that individual morality could be determined by society and reason.
Schopenhauer believed that humans were motivated by only their own basic desires. He said that everything that exists has a ‘will’. Will, for Schopenhauer, is what Kant called the "thing-in-itself." The Will is basically a human’s desires and needs.
Overall Kant said that the Will is primarily evil it represents endless suffering. Once you have control of the ‘Will’ and the less you express your desires the less you will suffer.
I hope this covers everything!