From the International Kant Interview, occurred in Moscow in 2005, here are some of the prestigious answers to this challenging question:
Henry Allison: Understanding Kant better than our predecessors: I think that it is inevitable that we think that we do. Indeed, barring historical accidents such as the loss of texts, I do not see how one could even coherently deny it to be the case. (If I were to say that scholars of 100 years ago understood Kant better then we do today, am I not presupposing a certain understanding of Kant which I take to be normative?) One can, of course, say that earlier scholars understood Kant better than some of one`s contemporaries and we clearly all do this; but that`s a different matter.
Nevertheless, that said, I do believe that this has been a particularly fruitful period for Kant-interpretation.
Karl Ameriks: Definitely, and as long as there are no calamities I believe we will continue to understand most figures better as time goes on and we have a better perspective and even more information.
Maria Borges: Yes, because we have access to new Kantian texts, unavailable to philosophers and scholars one century ago. These texts, like the Vorlesungen uber Anthropologie, show another-and fascinating – side of Kant thoughts. We know today that Kant has an a priori moral theory, but also an empirical theory about human nature. We know, for instance, that Kant has a very interesting and sophisticated theory of emotions. He acknowledges that emotions have cognitive and physiological contents. Emotions involve evaluative beliefs and also physiological disturbances. They have an intentional object, they are about something. At the same time, they are accompanied by physiological arousal, what makes them difficult to control.
Andrew Brook: Hard to say. We know much more about his history, the context in which he worked, his unpublished writings, how he published, and so on than we did 100 years ago. On the other hand, we are twice as far away from actually living in his time. But I am not sure that the question is very relevant. Each generation reinvents Kant to suit its own preoccupations and needs, to some extent. Thus, Kitcher’s Kant is very different from Strawson’s or Bennett’s. The same is true of each language community of Kant scholars. Tugendhat’s Kant is quite different from Kitcher’s.
Allen Wood: Certainly. Even at the most basic level, Kant’s writings are much better known than they were at the time when the Akademie Ausgabe was only beginning to appear. Kant studies is one of the strongest areas in all philosophy, attracting many of the best minds that go into the field. We can expect Kant’s ideas to be even better understood in the future, and the tradition of interpreting Kant still has a great deal to contribute to our understanding of all areas of philosophy, morality and science.