He saw the necessity of going back to Kant in the sense of demanding a critical reconsideration of the epistemological problems which Kant had made but a partially successful attempt to solve.
Masaryk, who, as a counterpoise to German speculation and the intellectualism of Herbart, emphasized the critical study of English philosophy, notably Hume, Spencer and Mill, and the French Comte; at the same time he fully appreciated the value of Kant in epistemology.
Under the impulse given by Lessing and Kant he turned to the original records of Christianity, and attempted to construe for himself the real significance of Christ.
For Kant was now prepared to formulate his general inquiry in a definite fashion.
The Government, probably influenced as much by hatred and fear of the French Revolution, of which Kant was supposed to be a partisan, as by love of orthodoxy, resented the act; and a secret cabinet order was received by him intimating the displeasure of the king, Frederick William II., and exacting a pledge not to lecture or write at all on religious subjects in future.
The Sophists and the Sceptics, Plato and Aristotle, the Stoics and the Epicureans took up the question, and from the time of Locke and Kant it has been prominent in modern philosophy.
Hough and Boyce Gibson, The Problem of Human Life, 1909); Der Wahrheitsgehalt der Religion (1901; 2nd ed., 1905); Thomas von Aquino and Kant (1901); Gesammelte Aufsdtze zu Philos.
In 1865 he became involved in an acrimonious controversy on the interpretation of Kant's doctrine of Space with Kuno Fischer, whom he attacked in Kuno Fischer and sein Kant (1869), which drew forth the reply Anti-Trendelenburg (1870).
C. As to existence, Kant's position is the wholly illogical one that, though all known things are phenomena, there are things in themselves, or noumena; things which are said to cause sensations of outer sense and to receive sensations of inner sense, though they are beyond the category of causality which is defined as one of the notions uniting phenomena; and things which are assumed to exist and have these causal attributes, though declared unknowable by any logical use of reason, because logical reason is limited by the mental matter and form of experience to phenomena; and all this according to Kant himself.
In earlier life he had been a zealous student of Kant and Hegel, and to the end he never ceased to cultivate the philosophic spirit; but he had little confidence in metaphysical systems, and sought rather to translate philosophy into the wisdom of life.