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The Educational Theory of Immanuel Kant

M. F. de Tal


edited 8/18/11

I. Theory of Value What knowledge and skills are worthwhile learning? What are the goals of education

Metaphysics, here you will find the noblest object of this science, the knowledge of a supreme Being and of a future world provided by principles of pure reason (Kant /Critique of pure reason: Copleston 212) ... it is temporary maturity of judgment which refuses to be satisfied with illusory knowledge of pseudo-science ... It should serve therefore as a stimulus to undertake a critical investigation of metaphysics (Copleston 212)

II. Theory of Knowledge What is knowledge? How is it different from belief?

The belief that knowledge is intrinsically empowering and Slavic is something of a philosophical credo .... knowledge is no more than a means to an end .... unless knowledge can be put in the service of appropriate ends, it cannot truly benefit individuals or society (Kant: 1, p. 2)

III. Theory on Human Nature What is a human being? How does it differ from other species? What are the limits of human nature?

Nature has willed that man, entirely by himself, produce everything that goes beyond the mechanical organization of his animal existence and partake in no other happiness or perfection than what himself, independently of instinct, can secure through his own reason (Kant: 2, p. 19). Man's essence is free rationality, not animal nature ... once his needs are transformed into desires, his entire relation to himself, other persons, and the rest of creation is also change (Kant: I P 12).

IV. Theory of Learning What is learning? How are skills and knowledge acquired?

Between theory and practice, no matter how complete the theory may be, a middle term that provides a connection and transition is necessary (Kant 61)

V. Theory of Transmission Who is to teach? By what methods? What should the curriculum be?

... there can be theoreticians who, lacking judgment, can never be practical in their fives ... where this natural gift is found, premises can still be lacking; that is the theory can be incomplete, and perhaps it can only be completed by further experiment and experience, from which, then the newly schooled physician agriculturist, or economist can and should abstract new rules ... one who leaves school to enter the world will realize one has been pursuing empty ideals and philosophical dreams and in a world that what sounds good in theory is of no practical use Kant 61,62).

VI. Theory of Society What is society? What institutions are involved in the educational process?

Kant believed society is made up of both good men and bad men. His justification of private property is his refusal to make any direct appeal whatsoever to human welfare or happiness, to what is good for men (Kennington 148) .... for Americans, to whom rights, "the truths we hold to be evident" are a national creed, the teachings of Kant .... (Kennington 159).

VII. Theory of Opportunity

Who is to be educated? Who is to be schooled Kant didn't seem to be concerned with the issue of who is to be educated. Rather he focused his attention on issues such as how we gain knowledge, how our experiences relates to knowledge, and categories of knowledge.

VII. Theory of Consensus Why do people disagree? How is consensus achieved? Whose opinion takes precedence?

According to Kant, men are just as much in need of coercive laws and penalties as evil men ... be men ever so righteous and well intentioned they disagree about what is good and so come into conflict ... there is no rationally determinable good for human beings and that therefore each person must determine the good subjectively for him or herself. (Kennington: 147)


Copleston, Frederick., 1994. A History of Philosophy: From the French Enlightenment to Kant. Image Books: New York and London.

Kant, Immanuel., (1983). Perpetual Peace and Other Essays on Politics and Morals Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.: Indianapolis, Indiana

Kennington, Richard., (1985). The Philosophy of Immanuel Kant. The Catholic University of America Press, Washington DC