Immanuel Kant: 22 Best Quotes (With References)

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This page contains a collection of quotes by Immanuel Kant. These quotes are all genuine and details about the book, chapter number, and translation are included where applicable.


On good will:

Nothing can possibly be conceived in the world, or even out of it, which can be called good, without qualification, except a good will.

– Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, I, trans. T. K. Abbott


On goodness:

We do not need science and philosophy to know what we should do to be honest and good, yea, even wise and virtuous.

– Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, I, trans. T. K. Abbott


On morality:

Finally, there is an imperative which commands a certain conduct immediately, without having as its condition any other purpose to be attained by it. This imperative is categorical. It concerns not the matter of the action, or its intended result, but its form and the principle of which it is itself a result; and what is essentially good in it consists in the mental disposition, let the consequence be what it may. This imperative may be called that of morality.

– Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, II, trans. T. K. Abbott


On happiness:

The notion of happiness is so indefinite that although every man wishes to attain it, yet he never can say definitely and consistently what it is that he really wishes and wills.

– Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, II, trans. T. K. Abbott


On the categorical imperative:

There is therefore but one categorical imperative, namely, this: Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal law.

– Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, II, trans. T. K. Abbott


On the categorical imperative:

So act as to treat humanity, whether in thine own person or in that of any other, in every case as an end withal, never as means only.

– Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, II, trans. T. K. Abbott


On knowledge:

Without sensibility no object would be given to us, without understanding no object would be thought. Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind. . . . The understanding can intuit nothing, the senses can think nothing. Only through their union can knowledge arise.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A 51/B75, trans. N. Kemp Smith


On laws of nature:

The order and regularity in the appearances, which we entitle nature we ourselves introduce.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A 125, trans. N. Kemp Smith


On self-knowledge:

I have no knowledge of myself as I am but merely as I appear to myself.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, B 158, trans. N. Kemp Smith


On stupidity:

Deficiency in judgment is just what is ordinarily called stupidity, and for such a failing there is no remedy.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A 134 /B 173, trans. N. Kemp Smith


On things-in-themselves:

What the things-in-themselves may be I do not know, nor do I need to know, since a thing can never come before me except in appearance.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A 277 /B 333, trans. N. Kemp Smith


On the senses:

It is therefore correct to say that the senses do not err—not because they always judge rightly but because they do not judge at all.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A 293 /B 350, trans. N. Kemp Smith


On philosophy:

It is precisely in knowing its limits that philosophy consists

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A 727 /B 755, trans. N. Kemp Smith


On taste:

Taste is the faculty of judging of an object or a method of representing it by an entirely disinterested satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The object of such satisfaction is called beautiful.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, 5, trans. J. H. Bernard


On genius:

We thus see that genius is a talent for producing that for which no definite rule can be given; it is not a mere aptitude for what can be learnt by a rule. Hence originality must be its first property.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, 46, trans. J. H. Bernard


On rhetoric and poetry:

The arts of speech are rhetoric and poetry. Rhetoric is the art of carrying on a serious business of the Understanding as if it were a free play of the Imagination; poetry, the art of conducting a free play of the Imagination as if it were a serious business of the Understanding.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, 51, trans. J. H. Bernard


On poetry:

Of all the arts poetry (which owes its origin almost entirely to genius and will least be guided by precept or example) maintains the first rank.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, 53, trans. J. H. Bernard


On laughter:

Laughter is an affection arising from the sudden transformation of a strained expectation into nothing.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, 54, trans. J. H. Bernard


On beauty:

Now I say: the beautiful is the symbol of the morally good.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, 59, trans. J. H. Bernard


On duty:

The majesty of duty has nothing to do with enjoyment of life.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, Pt. I, I, III, trans. T. K. Abbott


On argument:

When we attend to the course of conversation in mixed companies, consisting not merely of learned persons and subtle reasoners, but also of men of business or of women, we observe that, besides story-telling and jesting, another kind of entertainment finds a place in them, namely, argument; for stories, if they are to have novelty and interest, are soon exhausted, and jesting is likely to become insipid. Now of all argument there is none in which persons are more ready to join who find any other subtle discussion tedious, none that brings more liveliness into the company, than that which concerns the moral worth of this or that action by which the character of some person is to be made out.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, Pt. II, trans. T. K. Abbott


On the moral law:

Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and the more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above and the moral law within.

– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, Conclusion, trans. T. K. Abbott


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