FACT CHECK: Did Immanuel Kant Say A Quote About Science And Wisdom?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

A post shared on Facebook said German philosopher Immanuel Kant once said, “Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.”

Verdict: False

This saying does not appear in any of Kant’s writing.

Fact Check:

A German philosopher active during the 18th century Enlightenment movement, Kant made contributions to the fields of epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and aesthetics. His work “Critique of Pure Reason,” along with his other writings, helped establish him as an important figure in modern Western philosophy.

However, the Daily Caller News Foundation found no record of the saying in Kant’s writings. A search of several collections of his works turned up no matching or similar expressions.

“Kant said a lot of interesting things but he did not say this,” McMaster University professor and Kant scholar David Clark said in an email to the DCNF. “It sounds like the sort of thing a British philosopher might attribute to the Prussian master in order to give his or her work a certain credibility and gravitas.”

The statement attributed to Kant in the Facebook post may actually be a combination of two quotes, one from sociologist Herbert Spencer and another from historian Will Durant, according to the website Quote Investigator.

“Science is organized knowledge; and before knowledge can be organized, some of it must first be possessed,” Spencer wrote in an 1854 essay titled “The Art of Education.”

Durant appears to have combined Spencer’s quote with one of his own in his 1926 book “The Story of Philosophy,” in which Durant chronicles the work of history’s greatest philosophers, including Kant. The expression is the author’s attempt at capturing, in his own words, the views of Kant, but is not a direct quotation from the German philosopher.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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