Immanuel Kant was born in 1724 when the Enlightenment, a European intellectual movement, was already in full swing. But, as a young man, Kant gained a reputation as an important and promising intellectual after giving lectures at the University in Konigsburg. He then began to publish his thoughts in, what would become, some of the most important texts of the Enlightenment. This is because Kant was able to reject rationalism and empiricism, two prevailing schools of thought on the subject of reason. His 'transcendental idealism' and 'empirical realism' were so ground-breaking that they set the tone for philosophical debates in the following two centuries and contributed much new knowledge to other subject areas, including mathematics and science.
He also contributed much to the study of ethics through his most famous statement: “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”