130 Immanuel Kant Quotes

These Immanuel Kant quotes are proof that we have within us the power to live our lives the way we want to live it, and sometimes a little push will give you the confidence you need to believe and act for yourself.

Immanuel Kant was one of the pioneer Enlightenment thinkers, and probably one of the most important philosophers of all time. We’ve rounded up 130 of our favorite quotes from his works like the Critique of Pure Reason and the Metaphysics of Morals.

Read the full collection below.

Best Immanuel Kant Quotes

1. “Look closely. The beautiful may be small.”

2. “All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.”

3. “The busier we are, the more acutely we feel that we live, the more conscious we are of life.”

4. “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.”

5. “For peace to reign on earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.”

6. “One who makes himself a worm cannot complain afterwards if people step on him.”

7. “Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them—the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”

8. “We are not rich by what we possess, but by what we can do without.”

9. “Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another.”

10. “He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”

11. “Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom gotten by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few, and number not voices, but weigh them.”

12. “Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another.”

13. “Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence!”

14. “Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”

15. “Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless; so that the mind in the presence of the sublime, attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the failure but pleasure in contemplating the immensity of the attempt.”

16. “I had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith.”

17. “Genius is the ability to independently arrive at and understand concepts that would normally have to be taught by another person.”

18. “Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a portion of mankind, after nature has long since discharged them from external direction, nevertheless remains under lifelong tutelage, and why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as their guardians.”

19. “The death of dogma is the birth of morality.”

20. “Rules for happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.”

Immanuel Kant Quotes on the Soul and One’s Worldview

21. “Space and time are the framework within which the mind is constrained to construct its experience of reality.”

22. “Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.”

23. “Have patience awhile; slanders are not long-lived. Truth is the child of time; erelong she shall appear to vindicate thee.”

24. “New prejudices will serve as well as old ones to harness the great unthinking masses.”

25. “The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.”

26. “How then is perfection to be sought? Wherein lies our hope? In education, and in nothing else.”

27. “The light dove, in free flight cutting through the air the resistance of which it feels, could get the idea that it could do even better in airless space.”

28. “That would be a crime against human nature. The proper destination of which lies precisely in this progress and the descendants would be fully justified in rejecting those decrees as having been made in an unwarranted and malicious manner.”

29. “The touchstone of everything that can be concluded as a law for a people lies in the question whether the people could have imposed such a law on itself.”

30. “Man must be disciplined, for he is by nature raw and wild.”

31. “In all judgements by which we describe anything as beautiful, we allow no one to be of another opinion.”

32. “Marriage is the union of two people of different sexes with a view to the mutual possession of each other’s sexual attributes for the duration of their lives.”

33. “The people naturally adhere most to doctrines which demand the least self-exertion and the least use of their own reason, and which can best accommodate their duties to their inclinations.”

34. “To be is to do.”

35. “Human beings are never to be treated as a means but always as ends.”

36. “Simply to acquiesce in skepticism can never suffice to overcome the restlessness of reason.”

37. “All false art, all vain wisdom, lasts it’s time but finally destroys itself, and its highest culture is also the epoch of its decay.”

38. “Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.”

39. “In the kingdom of ends, everything has either a price or a dignity. What has a price can be replaced by something else as its equivalent; what on the other hand is raised above all price and therefore admits of no equivalent has a dignity.”

40. “Beauty presents an indeterminate concept of understanding; the sublime an indeterminate concept of reason.”

41. “Our age is the age of criticism to which everything must be subjected.”

42. “Man, and in general every rational being, exists as an end in himself, not merely as a means for arbitrary use by this or that will. He must, in all his actions, whether they are directed to himself or to other rational beings, always be viewed at the same time as an end.”

43. “The whole interest of my reason, whether speculative or practical, is concentrated in the three following questions: What can I know? What should I do? What may I hope?”

44. “Give me matter and I will build a world out of it.”

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

46. “When he puts a thing on a pedestal and calls it beautiful, he demands the same delight from others. He judges not merely for himself, but for all men, and then speaks of beauty as if it were the property of things.”

47. “The understanding can intuit nothing, the senses can think nothing. Only through their unison can knowledge arise.”

48. “He who would know the world must first manufacture it.”

49. “Innocence is indeed a glorious thing, only, on the other hand, it is very sad that it cannot well maintain itself, and is easily seduced.”

50. “Experience may teach us what is, but never that it cannot be otherwise.”

51. “Art is purposiveness without purpose.”

52. “The greatest human quest is to know what one must do in order to become a human being.”

53. “There is no freedom, but everything in the world takes place entirely according to nature.”

54. “Transcendental freedom is therefore opposed to the law of causality, and represents such a connection of successive states of effective causes, that no unity of experience is possible with it.”

55. “Our understanding is a faculty of concepts—a discursive understanding, for which it must of course be contingent what and how different might be the particular that can be given to it in nature and brought under its concepts.”

56. “Human reason in its pure use, so long as it was not critically examined, has first tried all possible wrong ways before it succeeded in finding the one true way.”

57. “Everything goes past like a river and the changing taste and the various shapes of men make the whole game uncertain and delusive.”

Immanuel Kant Quotes on Enlightenment and Religion

58. “But only he who, himself enlightened, is not afraid of shadows.”

59. “Have the courage to use your own reason- That is the motto of enlightenment.”

60. “For this enlightenment, however, nothing is required but freedom, and indeed the most harmless among all the things to which this term can properly be applied.”

61. “An age cannot bind itself and ordain to put the succeeding one into such a condition that it cannot extend its knowledge, purify itself of errors, and progress in general enlightenment.”

62. “The main point of enlightenment is man’s release from his self-caused immaturity, primarily in matters of religion.”

63. “The public use of one’s reason must always be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among men.”

64. “The sacredness of religion and the authority of legislation, are by many regarded as grounds of exemption from the examination of this tribunal.”

65. “Religion is too important a matter to its devotees to be a subject of ridicule. If they indulge in absurdities, they are to be pitied rather than ridiculed.”

66. “Religion is the recognition of all our duties as divine commands.”

67. “Only the descent into the hell of self-knowledge can pave the way to godliness.”

68. “The history of nature begins with good for it is God’s work; the history of freedom begins with badness, for it is man’s work.”

69. “If God should really speak to man, man could still never know that it was God speaking.”

70. “Nothing is divine but what is agreeable to reason.”

71. “It was the duty of philosophy to destroy the illusions which had their origin in misconceptions, whatever darling hopes and valued expectations may be ruined by its explanations.”

72. “Standing armies constantly threaten other nations with war by giving the appearance that they are prepared for it, which goads nations into competing with one another in the number of men under arms, and this practice knows no bounds.”

73. “In every department of physical science there is only so much science, properly so-called, as there is mathematics.”

74. “Better the whole people perish than that injustice be done.”

75. “What might be said of things in themselves, separated from all relationships to our senses, remains for us absolutely unknown.”

76. “A categorical imperative would be one which represented an action as objectively necessary in itself, without reference to any other purpose.”

77. “Anarchy is law and freedom without force. Despotism is law and force without freedom. Barbarism is force without freedom and law. Republicanism is force with freedom and law.”

78. “War seems to be ingrained in human nature, and even to be regarded as something noble to which man is inspired by his love of honor without selfish motives.”

79. “Never wish to see a just cause defended with unjust means.”

80. “If you punish a child for being naughty, and reward him for being good, he will do right merely for the sake of the reward; and when he goes out into the world and finds that goodness is not always rewarded, nor wickedness always punished, he will grow into a man who only thinks about how he may get on in the world, and does right or wrong according as he finds advantage to himself.”

81. “We can never, even by the strictest examination, get completely behind the secret springs of action.”

82. “The great mass of people are worthy of our respect.”

83. “Man desires concord; but nature knows better what is good for his species; she desires discord.”

84. “The will is conceived as a faculty of determining oneself to action in accordance with the conception of certain laws, and such a faculty can be found only in rational beings.”

85. “It is an empirical judgement to say that I perceive and judge an object with pleasure. But it is an a priori judgement to say that I find it beautiful—I attribute this satisfaction necessarily to everyone.”

86. “But, though all our knowledge begins with experience, it by no means follows that all arises out of experience.”

87. “Freedom is the opposite of necessity.”

88. “If justice perishes, then it is no longer worthwhile for men to live upon the earth.”

89. “Since the human race’s natural end is to make steady cultural progress, its moral end is to be conceived as progressing toward the better. And this progress may well be occasionally interrupted, but it will never be broken off.”

90. “Freedom is a property of all rational beings.”

91. “But freedom is a mere idea. The objective reality of which can in no wise be shown according to the laws of nature, and consequently not in any possible experience; and for this reason it can never be comprehended or understood, because we cannot support it by any sort of example or analogy.”

92. “The state of peace among men living side by side is not the natural state; the natural state is one of war.”

93. “Ingratitude is the essence of vileness.”

94. “So act that your principle of action might safely be made a law for the whole world.”

95. “But to unite in a permanent religious institution which is not to be subject to doubt before the public even in the lifetime of one man, and thereby to make a period of time fruitless in the progress of mankind toward improvement, thus working to the disadvantage of posterity—that is absolutely forbidden.”

Immanuel Kant Quotes on Virtue, Ethics, and Happiness

96. “Morality is not properly the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness.”

97. “Settle, for sure and universally, what conduct will promote the happiness of a rational being.”

98. “The cultivation of reason leads humanity sooner to misery than happiness.”

99. “Happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of imagination—resting solely on empirical grounds, and it is vain to expect that these should define an action by which one could attain the totality of a series of consequences which is really endless.”

100. “No one may force anyone to be happy according to his manner of imagining the well-being of other men. Instead, everyone may seek his happiness in the way that seems good to him as long as he does not infringe on the freedom of others to pursue a similar purpose, when such freedom may coexist with the freedom of every other man according to a possible and general law.”

101. “The principle of private happiness, however, is the most objectionable. Not merely because it is false and experience contradicts the supposition that prosperity is always proportioned to good conduct, nor yet merely because it contributes nothing to the establishment of morality.”

102. “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”

103. “If the truth shall kill them, let them die.”

104. “An action, to have moral worth, must be done from duty.”

105. “A good will is good not because of what it affects or accomplishes, not because of its fitness to attain some intended end, but good just by its willing.”

106. “Without man and his potential for moral progress, the whole of reality would be a mere wilderness—a thing in vain—and have no final purpose.”

107. “Dignity is a value that creates irreplaceability.”

108. “Nature is beautiful because it looks like art; and art can only be called beautiful if we are conscious of it as art while yet it looks like nature.”

109. “Paying men to kill or be killed appears to use them as mere machines and tools in the hands of another, which is inconsistent with the rights of humanity.”

110. “By a lie, a man throws away and as it annihilates his dignity as a man.”

111. “Human reason, in one sphere of its cognition, is called upon to consider questions which it cannot decline, as they are presented by its own nature, but which it cannot answer, as they transcend every faculty of the mind.”

112. “When the tremulous radiance of a summer night fills with twinkling stars and the moon itself is full, I am slowly drawn into a state of enhanced sensitivity made of friendship and disdain for the world and eternity.”

113. “It is of great consequence to have previously determined the concept that one wants to elucidate through observation before questioning experience about it; for one finds in experience what one needs only if one knows in advance what to look for.”

114. “Laughter is an affect resulting from the sudden transformation of a heightened expectation into nothing.”

115. “Every beginning is in time, and every limit of extension in space.”

116. “Deficiency in judgement is properly that which is called stupidity; and for such a failing we know no remedy.”

117. “Woman wants control, man self-control.”

118. “What is more, we cannot do morality a worse service than by seeing to derive it from examples.”

119. “It is difficult for the isolated individual to work himself out of the immaturity which has become almost natural for him.”

120. “The hand is the visible part of the brain.”

121. “It is certainly a bad sign of common sense to appeal to it as a witness.”

122. “All so-called moral interest consists simply in respect for the law.”

123. “The enjoyment of power inevitably corrupts the judgement of reason, and perverts its liberty.”

124. “There is no art in being intelligible if one renounces all thoroughness of insight; but also it produces a disgusting medley of compiled observations and half-reasoned principles.”

125. “Things which as effects presuppose others as causes, cannot be reciprocally at the same time as causes of these.”

126. “It is not without cause that men feel the burden of their existence, though they are themselves the cause of those burdens.”

127. “Prudence reproaches; conscience accuses.”

128. “What would proceed from a continual promotion of living force, which does not let itself climb above a certain grade, other than a rapid death from delight?”

129. “Moral instruction, although containing much that is convincing for the reason, accomplishes little because the teachers themselves have not got their own notions clear, and when they endeavor to make up for this by raking up motives of moral goodness from every quarter, trying to make their physic right strong, they spoil it.”

130. “A man finds in himself a talent which with the help of some culture might make him a useful man in many respects.”

Which of these Immanuel Kant Quotes Gave You Confidence to Find the Light Within You?

In one of Kant’s most famous works, Critique of Pure Reason, he aimed to show the world how deep and intricate our minds work—that through this, we are able to grasp how the world works and recognize how we should live our lives according to our judgment. He emphasizes that man has his own will which can determine his fate through the freedom of choice.

Did these quotes inspire you to think for yourself a little more? How do you think these quotes from Immanuel Kant can influence your decision-making moving forward? Let us know by commenting down below.

Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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