Kant: A Biography

Kant: A Biography

Manfred Kuehn

Language: English

Pages: 576

ISBN: 0521524067

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This is the first full-length biography in more than fifty years of Immanuel Kant, one of the giants among the pantheon of Western philosophers, and one of the most powerful and influential in contemporary philosophy. Taking account of the most recent scholarship, Manfred Kuehn allows the reader to follow the same journey that Kant himself took in emerging as a central figure in modern philosophy. Manfred Kuehn was formerly Professor of Philosophy at Purdue University. A specialist on German philosophy of the period, he is the author of numerous articles and papers on Immanuel Kant.

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come about." 41 The daily acts of charity that were required of a Pietist were often channeled into work for such enterprises as orphanages and schools for the poor. It was this Pietism of the Halle persuasion that had the most significant ef¬ fect in Königsberg. Indeed, there was an immediate and direct connection between Halle and Königsberg during the first half of the eighteenth cen¬ tury, with the king actively supporting the transplantation of Halle Pietists to official positions in

itself. Knutzen's understanding of scientific and mathematical matters was inadequate to the task of advancing the discussion of the more technical aspects of physics. He did not belong to that "small elite" of scientists on the continent who understood the details of Newtonian physics.108 His knowledge of calculus was especially deficient. Relying more on mechan¬ ical models than on calculations, he had some general understanding of Newton's Principia but could not make any original contribution

friends. Among these was Johann Gotthelf Lindner (1729—1776), who during this period was not in Königsberg. Michael Freytag (1725—1790), Georg David Kypke (1723-1779), and Johann Daniel Funk (1721-1764), who were also friends of Lindner, played perhaps a greater role in his daily life then.50 Hamann, who himself was a close friend of Lindner, and who knew the others well, was not as close to Kant, but he belonged to the same circle of acquaintances. Kant and Freytag had known each other from the

closely with these pre-Christian philosophers than with the Pietists.18 Indeed, even the Platonic ideal of the "wise and serene character, always consistent with itself" is closer to Kant's view than is that of the latter-day Christians.19 The new Immanuel Kant that emerged after 1764 was different in other respects as well. Again, this was the result of maxims. In a rare autobio¬ graphical note Kant tells us: Because of my narrow and flat chest, which leaves little room for the movements of

mixed cir¬ cle what our scholars of today would think worthy only for their students and other scholars."82 That Kant felt it necessary to participate in such an enterprise shows how seriously he took the concerns of the Enlighten¬ ment. It is probably no accident that his student and friend, Henriette's husband, became active in very much the same way, but it is perhaps just an accident that the literary societies in Berlin, and especially those con¬ nected with Henriette and Marcus, have

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