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Abraham Lopez

Philosopher Kings
After struggling a little on deciding which two philosophers to do my assignment
on, I finally came to a decision. I decided to research gain a full understanding of the
two famous philosophers. They were David Hume and Immanuel Kant. I decided to first
learn about the lives of both philosophers, then compare and contrast their personal
views and opinions about philosophical topics.
The first philosopher I studied was David Hume. He was born in Edinburgh,
Scotland in the year 1711 and was raised by his mother. Growing up, Hume lived a very
strict life. His family was very religious so he had clear expectations to follow their rigid
regime. When he was young he attended 3 hour morning services, afterward he would
join his family for evening prayers.
A year after he was born, his father died leaving him a small inheritance. When
he was twelve years old, he used a portion of his inheritance to enroll at the University
of Edinburgh. After 3 years of attending school, he decided to drop out and focus his life
on learning Philosophy and literature. Giving up his schooling resulted in Hume living an
awfully poor life, which frustrated his family because they thought he should be studying
something that would make him wealthier. As he was taught through his childhood, he
did at first care to pursue wealth and decided to go to law school. But he then eventually
dropped out because he felt that law was sickening, and he really disliked it. At this
point in his life, he had broke down and wasn't too sure about his future. Since he
possessed such a passion for philosophy, he read the famous works of Locke and other
philosophers. This lead him to rethink religion, and in the end he adamantly denied all
He then decided to move to London, where he would pursue his passion for
philosophy more comfortably. He lived there for a few months working for a merchant in
Bristol, but soon realized that this wasn't the place he wanted to live. He moved again;
this time he traveled to France. He thought that it would be financially easier to live
there. He finally settled near Descartes old college at La Fleche. There he met a Roman
Catholic group called Jesuits. He befriended them, and was able to gain full access to
their private library. As Humes beliefs were basically atheist, the Jesuits started noticing
this, and began to think he was too full of himself. They then started to question his
beliefs entirely.
In his time spent in France, Hume wrote his first book called, Treatise of Human
Nature. When he completed this, he returned to England in 1737 to get his book
published, but ran into some trouble. At the time, the concepts of his book were very
controversial and some even offensive. He realized he had to in a way, censor his
book. He decided to do so for the sake of publishing it, but kept all of his key points in
tact. He worded them differently so that they didn't come off as offensive as the original

book, and published his two part book anonymously. The reason why his book was
found to be so unique at the time, was because it challenged basically all past
philosophers beliefs. In his book, he touched on the subject of materialism, the
possibility of a spiritual supernatural reality, and personal immortality. The most
controversial point in his book was that he believed neither matter nor mind exists. This
led many of his readers to joke about this and choose to disregard it. It wasn't until after
Humes death that his original uncensored book was ever published.
Before he passed away, Hume had trouble gaining popularity. He even tried to
get a job as a professor, but was denied.In need of money, he started teaching a young
nobleman who somehow eventually went crazy. This caused Hume excessive stress
and embarrassment. So he chose to close that chapter and move on, later becoming a
secretary to a general who was on a mission to Turin, Italy. At this point in his life, Hume
started to gain a lot of weight. It got to the point where people began to judge him very
harshly for his obesity. After his time in Italy, he returned to London in 1748 and
Published a book called, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and later
published another book called, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. Both
books came to the same conclusion as his very first book, but they were also censored
in way so that it came off less offensive. It wasnt until 1751 where he wrote his most
controversial book called, The Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. This book went
completely against so many of his fellow philosophers beliefs, that he never had the
guts to publish it. This book wasn't published until 3 years after he died.
Hume gained a great amount of popularity after publishing 6 volumes about
History. It was so successful that even James Boswell referred to him as, The greatest
writer in Britain. At this point, his popularity and fame soared and when he went back to
France, he was well respected because of his writings of history. Britain eventually
appointed him ambassador to France. During his last days, people close to him tried to
convince him to believe in God, and to let go of his atheist ways. But he refused, instead
rebuttling by saying that he wasnt atheist, because he didn't deny the existence of God.
He instead said he was more agnostic about God, which simply meant that since he
didn't have enough concrete knowledge to prove or believe in the existence of a God.
He did not assert or deny whether or not God existed.
Moving on to the life of Immanuel Kant, he was born in Konigsberg in the year
1724. He grew up in a poor home, but unlike Hume, he was raised by both his mom and
dad. His parents were members of a religion called Pietists. This religion rejected the
idea of organized religious meetings. They believed that a church and a priest, stood in
the way of an individual and God. They believed that anyone can and should have a
personal connection with God. When he turned 8, he started going to a school which
was based on Pietism. His schooling was very strict because he went to school daily at
5:30 in the morning. His day consisted of waking up excruciatingly early to go to school,
having an hour long lecture about Pietism, and after every class period they ended it
with a prayer. This affected Kant because he started to resent Pietism beliefs because

they focused on fear of going to hell, and experiencing the wrath of God if they made
bad choices. Even after all of this, he stuck through it and finished his schooling. At age
16 he enrolled in the University of Konigsberg, and studied there for 6 years. After
finishing, he was offered a good job to become a lutheran minister but he refused,
choosing to continued his studies instead. For the remaining years of his education, he
supported himself by working as a private tutor. In 1755, he received the equivalent of a
doctoral degree. This helped him get a job as a lecturer at the University of
Privatdozent. He was paid by how many students attended and actively maintained
attendance in his class. This benefitted him greatly, because he started to gain a lot of
popularity, eventually gaining quite a significant amount of students in attendance for his
lectures. This paved the way for the University to eventually give him a job as a
professor of logic and metaphysics.
Kants life wasnt as exciting or as interesting as Humes. Kant spent most his life
as a professor, and never traveled more than 60 miles from his birthplace. During his
career as a professor he stuck to a strict daily regime. It involved waking up, drinking
coffee, writing his philosophy, going to the University to do his lecture, and having his
daily walk. Because of this strict regime, Kant lived a very lonely and repetitive life. This
led to him writing and publishing a lot of books.
The most notable book he wrote was called, The Critique of Pure Reason,
which he published in 1781, and then published a second edition in 1787. Of all the
books he published, The Critique of Pure Reason, was the most known but not just
because of its philosophical views, but because it was one of the most difficult books
ever written. The book was so long that even Kant admitted to leaving out some parts
solely because keeping those parts of the book would make the massive book longer
than it already was.
The book was also difficult because Kant had to explain completely new
concepts, which he felt the need to invent new Latin words and phrases in order to be
able to express his new and unique ideas. With the book being so unique, difficult, and
long to read, it caused a scandal in philosophy. Kant's ideas were so radical that it
shook the foundations of philosophy. His concepts were so impactful that if you were a
philosopher in his time, you had to face his views regardless of whether you agreed or
disagreed with him. After retiring from the university in 1797, Kant began to grow old
and his health declined. But even then, he still managed to write new material. He finally
ended up dying a lonely old man, who never once traveled outside of his hometown.
Learning about these two philosophers lives greatly helped me with
distinguishing the similarities and differences between the two. Not only regarding their
philosophical views, but also in their life style. Hume lived a very different life compared
to Kant. Hume traveled more and was able to see more of the world, whereas Kant
never traveled and always stayed close to his hometown. This obviously had an impact
in their philosophical views. One thing they both wrote about was morality. For Hume,
he talked about morality in his book, A Treatise of Human Nature and Kant also wrote

about this subject in his book, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. Both wrote
about morality, but had vastly different views regarding it.
Starting with Humes writing, it's easy to say that he doubted many things. This
was to be expected in the philosophical world, but he took his philosophy a step further.
He thought that neither mind nor matter existed. Which meant that he doubted the
world, people, and even the existence of himself. This then led him to write about the
topic of moral ethics.
Humes started his investigation between the relationship between reason and
action. For Hume, reason meant being able to determine truth and falsehood. For
example, reasoning helps us determine whether something is true or incorrect. He also
believed that reason is responsible for determining cause and effects; an example of
this would be physics. He believed that reasoning helped us understand physics.
Another example of this would be that reasoning helps us know that the action of
drinking coffee will make you feel awake. But this is as far as reasoning goes in regards
to our action in Humes opinion. Because of this, he believed that reasoning can never
motivate us to do a particular action. This means that reasoning can determine that
coffee will wake you up, but reasoning cant say anything about whether or not you can
or should drink the coffee. Therefore Hume believed that there must be something
above reason to motivate us in our actions. He believed that this something was our
passion or desire and feelings.
Hume believed that our desire to do something was solely responsible for our
actions, not reasoning. An example to this is reasoning that coffee will help you stay
awake does not motivate you to drink it, but the desire to be awake does motivate you.
So basically what Hume wanted to say was that we act only because of our passion and
desires, and not due to our reasoning. Therefore, when talking about morality, Humes
believed that since reason does not motivate us for action, then our feeling or passions
must be responsible for our moral actions.
When reading and understanding Humes point of view, it made sense but it still
didn't convince me. I thought Humes logic was very valid, but I still thought it was
flawed in some way. Personally, I believe that moral actions are what we choose to do
and that we view to be correct in our own eyes. Everyone does things differently, that's
why I think our moral actions are not determined by feelings, but by a combination of
both reasoning and our feelings at a given time.
Moving on to Kants views, I found his views on moral actions to be quite
interesting. He was all about the belief of good intentions. He didn't focus too much on
the action itself because in his eyes, the action doesn't necessarily have good
intentions, even if the outcome is good. For example, you choose to donate to a charity,
but only did it to get a tax break. In Kant's opinion, he thought this was less moral
because even though the outcome was good, the intentions were not in the right place.
He believed that this was very important because someone can do something with bad
intent, but it still can result in a positive outcome.

He thought it was very important to distinguish which actions were good and
which ones were bad. He believed that when someone acts out of a goodwill, it means
they are acting according to duty for the sake of duty. An example of this duty for duty
idea, would be someone helping out in a soup kitchen, with their motivation being to
make the world a better place. The motive depends on the world becoming a better
place through the action. Even if the people coming to the soup kitchen are not
homeless or poor, the person will still help out in the soup kitchen because of the belief
that it is their duty to be a good samaritan. Therefore, Kant believe the action of doing
good comes from one's duty, and doesn't rely on anything other than duty. Another
question Kant faced was how we figure out our duty in a specific situation. His response
was that we don't, a duty is a duty and it does not change under different situations. As
long as you do something good with good intentions then you have done your duty.
Kant believed that intentions and duty were very important when faced with moral
situations. He believed in the maxims, meaning to do unto others as you would want
them to do to you. For this reason, Kant believed that when faced with a situation that
involves morals, what you could do is to ask yourself if what you do can be done
universally by everyone else. An example of this would be if someone stole from the rich
and gave to the poor. Kant believed this was still considered immoral because if we
applied the stealing universally and everybody stole, then that would be considered bad.
Therefore, even if your intentions were good you, the act of stealing something makes it
less moral. Because Kant believed in intentions and duty, he believed that morality did
not come from feeling, but from reasoning. You have to reason to do good, and you
have to reason to do it with good intent as well. Also, ones duty is determined by
After understanding the two different views of Hume and Kant, I believe that good
actions are not determined by feelings or desire but by reasoning. Just because you do
something good does not make it moral, I believe that doing good depends on your
intentions. Therefore, I choose to side with Kant regarding his views on reasoning being
the cause for morality.