Professor Royce delivered his fourth lecture on Modern Thinkers in Sanders Theatre last night before a large audience. The subject was Kant. The many-sidedness of Kant's thought, the lecturer said, has in the first place made the difficulty of completely understanding him so enormous that the reading of the "Critique of Pure Reason" has become a sort of liberal profession in Germany. The age in which Kant lived was ripe for the "Critique" In twenty-five years it so thoroughly won over to metaphysics a nation previously little given to philosophy that Heine said; "God has given France the land, England the sea, but to Germany He has given the dominion of the air."
Kant's attitude in philosophy is in exact antithesis to Spinoza's. Kant hated all mysticism and did not in the least believe that truth could spring from innate ideas, or be reached through experience. Truth exists for us because we make it. There is a divine world for us because we postulate it, because we act as if it existed. This part of Kant's doctrine is the ossence of common sense, and contains the philosophy of the modern high-minded man of the world. Kant only became difficult to understand when he proceeded to investigate all the world of experience in the light of this theory. Towards 1769 signs of a revolution in Kant's mode of thinking were visible. He became convinced that space and time did not exist. Therefore all the outward world, which we fix in space and time, must be simply phenonenon, and outside of ourselves. In this fact is found a limit to knowledge.
Thus Kant and Spinoza are at almost opposite poles of reflection. Each stands for one phase of the higher thought of humanity.