Infomotions, Inc.The life of Immanuel Kant / by J.H.W. Stuckenberg. / Stuckenberg, J. H. W. (John Henry Wilbrandt), 1835-1903

Author: Stuckenberg, J. H. W. (John Henry Wilbrandt), 1835-1903
Title: The life of Immanuel Kant / by J.H.W. Stuckenberg.
Publisher: London : Macmillan, 1882.
Tag(s): kant, immanuel, 1724-1804; kant; immanuel kant; philosophy; mmanuel kant
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
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Identifier: thelifeofimmanue00stucuoft
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DONATED 1926 A.D. 







L>.it c I rof ssor in Wittenberg L ullc-jc, Uhiu 


J - 

1 8 19 


WITHIN one hundred years after the publication of the 
" Kritik of Pure Reason " no biography of its author 
has appeared in the English language. Even in 
Germany, where his philosophy is studied so exten 
sively and has been the occasion of an immense number 
of works, but little attention has been paid to the life 
of Kant, and the biographies of him are far from being 
satisfactory. It is not difficult to. discover the reasons 
for the neglect of the biography of this great thinker 
and eminent scholar. The materials for such a work 
arc widely scattered, and require much researcli ; and 
one may glean long and on many a field, and, as the 
result of his labours, bring home only a light sheaf, 
and even that nearly all straw. The difficulty is by 
no means over when the materials have been found. 
Not only are there numerous conflicting statements, 
owing largely to the contentions occasioned by his 
philosophy and the prejudices which they aroused, but 
there is also a lack of the variety and incident which 
are commonly regarded as essential to an interesting 
biography. Unfortunately, the friends who were his 


Kant is known chiefly as the author of the " Kritik of 
Pure Reason." In giving an account of his life, 
however, a much more comprehensive view of him 
must be taken ; he must be considered in the various 
relations he sustained. As his works culminated in 
ethics and theology, and were intended to establish 
these on a firm basis, his moral and religious views 
deserve more attention than they generally receive 
from English writers on his philosophy, especially since 
they are so intimately connected with his life. A 
critical discussion of his abstruse philosophy would be 
out of place in a biography. The English reader has 
access to excellent works on the Kantian system, and 
others, as well as translations of Kant s books, are in 
process of preparation. This biography aims to con 
centrate all the light on the man himself and his life. 
The great interest now taken in Kant s philosophy in 
England and America justifies the hope that the life of 
the Father of German metaphysics will be welcomed 
by English readers. If his works throw light on his 
life, it will also be found that his life aids materially 
in understanding his works. 

While the student of the Critical system is naturally 
expected to take a special interest in its author, this 
biography is also intended for students, and scholars in 
general, and for all who take an interest in intellec 
tual conflicts and triumphs. As this broad aim has 
determined the character of the book, some things 
may be found in it which the student of the Critical 
Philosophy might be willing to dispense with, but which 
the more general reader will find indispensable. As 


Kant should be studied in the light of his times, much 
contemporary history has been considered in the pre 
paration of this book. The thoughtful reader will 
prefer to consider the philosopher in his relation to his 
age, rather than to view him in an isolation which 
would place him in a false light. 

I am indebted chiefly to the Royal Library of Berlin 
for the materials used in preparing this biography. 
The principal authorities are referred to in the 
Appendix, especially in the first note. 

All the translations from Kant s works are made 
directly from the original. I have generally used 
" Kritik" to designate the " Kritik of Pure Reason." 
Unless otherwise stated, " mile " always designates 
the English mile. 

The picture of Kant represents the philosopher at 
the age of sixty-seven, the original having been 
painted by Dobler in 1791. 

This biography was intended to appear during 
the Centennial year of the " Kritik of Pure Reason ;" 
but the work was so much more laborious, and 
required so much more time, than was anticipated, 
that this was found to be impossible. 


Jan. 16, 1H82. 




Konigsbcrg Relatives Home influence The Pastor Pie 
tism The Gymnasium Its rector, religions influence, and 
intellectual advantages Ili.s speciality Special friends 
Sensitiveness General character of his early life . 1 


FAMILY TUTOR. 174017.36. 

Change in the Government University of Konigsbcrg Matri 
culated as Student of Theology Studies- Favourite ter.cher 
Reasons for not entering the ministry Struggles with 
poverty --Recreation First book Family tutor Work on 
Cosmogony . . . . . . , M 



Ilabilitation Privat-Docent Subjects and character of his Ice 
tnrcs Aim in teaching Popularity Testimony of I lerder 
Distraction First Mihuy Contest for a pri/.e Promotion 
to a professorship Kfl oits to induce him to leave Konigsbcrg 
Condition of the t niversity Dean and Rector . f I 





Appearance Head Peculiar experience with his eyes State 
of health Study of his physical condition View of medi 
cine Dietetics Mastery of mind over body Art of pro 
longing life. . . 93 



Intellectuality Memory Judgment Opposition to dogma 
tism, prejudice, and fanaticism Power of analysis and syn 
thesis Sense of the ludicrous Wit Abstraction Origi 
nality Union of excellencies Strange psychological fact 
Study and appreciation of other systems Political views 
Imagination Emotional nature Transformation Dogmatic 
spirit TE.^thetic culture Views of music, oratory, poetry, 
and genius Reading Library Depreciation of history 
Polymathist . 106 



The philosopher s home Regularity Carefulness in trifles 
Lampe Dress Recreation Table-talk Social power 
Self-respect Relatives Views of women and marriage 
Love-affairs . . ....... 153 



Views of friendship Excellence of heart Countess Kayser- 
ling General Meyer Green Motherby Hamann Von 
Hippel Schellncr Bowski Jaronchman Kraus . . 192 




Subjects of his works Pre-critical period Book on the 
Emotions of the Beautiful and the Sublime Prevalent sys 
tems of philosophy Leibnitz-Wolfian system Popular 
philosophy Sentimentality Descartes Locke Newton 
Berkeley Hume First metaphysical dissertation Lite 
rary activity, 175(3-63 " Dreams of Ghost-seers explained by 
Dreams of Metaphysics" Letter to Moses Mendelssohn 
Period of silence Correspondence with Lambert Inaugural 
Dissertation Sensation and understanding Time and space 
Letter from Mendelssohn Letter to Herz Labour on the 
Kritik " Changes in the plan of the work . 210 



Publication of the " Kritik " Hamann s impressions of the book 
Difficulties of the work Defects and excellencies Aim 
A priori and a posteriori knowledge Analytic and synthetic 
judgments Transcendental esthetics The Categories The 
reason Charge of idealism Das Ding an sich God, the 
soul, freedom, immortality Ontological, cosmological, and 
physico-theological proofs of God s existence Result of the 
" Kritik " " Prolegomena " " Metaphysical Principles of 
Natural Science " "Critique of the Judgment " " Conflict 
of the Faculties Last manuscript . 2GO 


Importance of the subject Freedom Conscience a sufficient 
guide Duty The practical reason Its primacy The good 
will Emotionless morality Categorical Imperative 
Maxima Stoicism Integrity Truthfulness Emotional 
nature Basis of his theology Postulates Religious dm 
racter of the age Rationalism Historical faith History 
depreciated His religion essentially morality -View of 
Scripture -Moral interpretation Public and private use of 


reason The Trinity Christ Sin Conversion The 
Church Worship The next world Ministers Influence 
of his rationalism Explanation of his theology Called to 
account by the Government. . 310 



Early popularity as a teacher Spread of his reputation 
Neglect of the " Kritik " Its sudden popularity Poems on 
Kant and his philosophy Pilgrimages to Konigsberg 
Enthusiasm of disciples Influence of works following the 
"Kritik "Fanaticism of Kantiaus Opposition: Ilamann, 
Kraus, Herder Silence amid abuses Influence of Kantism 
at home and abroad Honours Subsidence of the excite 
ment The return to Kant . . 365 



Small number of Kant s letters Numerous correspondents 
Lambert Moses Mendelssohn Herz Erhard Maria von 
Herbert- J. G. Ficlite Kiesewetter Jung Stilling . . 398 



Sad life Early symptoms of old age Interference with 
literary projects Close of his lectures and literary labours 
Relation to the academic senate Wasianski assuming control 
of his affairs Loss of memory Visitors Undeviating 
uniformity Change of servants Method of retiring 
Exercise Approach of spring Sleeplessness Last birth 
day Failing sight His sister Strange notion of the atmos 
phere First sickness Efforts to rob him Loss of conver 
sational power Longing for death Extreme feebleness 
Death Funeral Mementoes Will Kant Society Monu 
ment . 423 






1724 1740. 

Kbuigsberg Relatives Home influence The Pastor Pietism 
The Gymnasium Its Rector, religious influence, and intel 
lectual advantages His speciality Special friends Sensi 
tiveness General character of his early life. 

I M MANUEL KANT is so identified with Konigsberg that 
a sketch of this city is essential to a correct know 
ledge of the life of her most famous son. Here he was 
born and educated, here he taught and died ; and 
this city, with its immediate vicinity, was the scene of 
all his labours, hardships, and triumphs. Its social, 
religious, and intellectual condition exerted a potent 
influence on his character and views ; but lie, on the 
other hand, gave the city a fame such as it had never be 
fore enjoyed, and has for ever associated its name with 
one of the most important epochs in philosophy, so 
that for liis sake it was called " The Capital of Philo 
sophy," and also " The City of Pure Reason." 

Konigsberg is a frontier city of Germany, being 
situated in the north-eastern corner of Prussia, near 



the Russian border. Formerly it was the capital of 
the province of Prussia ; but when that province was 
divided a few years ago, it became the capital of East 
Prussia. The city is built on undulating ground, in 
an attractive region, and its position is favourable for 
commerce. It is situated at the mouth of the Pregel, 
a river which forms an important means of communi 
cation with the interior of the province and also with 
Poland, though for its mercantile importance it is mainly 
indebted to its location on a bay of the Baltic. Last 
century its extensive commerce brought the city into 
communication with numerous sea-ports of Europe, 
Asia, Africa, and America, as well as with the whole 
province of Prussia and the adjoining countries. ( 2 ) 

In the beginning of the eighteenth century Kb nigs- 
berg was prosperous and wealthy ; but during the Seven 
Years War its prosperity was checked and much of 
its wealth was lost. In 1800 the city, consisting of 
the towns of Altstadt, Lobenicht, and Kneiphof, 
was about nine miles in circumference, and contained 
4000 houses. Its inhabitants during last century 
numbered from 40,000 to 50,000, exclusive of the mili 

As might be expected in a maritime port, there was 
considerable variety in the character of the population. 
The city had been wrested from the Slavs by the 
Germans, during the Middle Ages, and traces of 
Slavic elements were still found among the inhabitants. 
Representatives of different nations were brought to 
the city by commercial interests ; such as Polish, 
Russian, Scandinavian, Dutch, and English merchants 
and seamen. The religious differences were also con 
siderable. The Catholics were greatly in the minority, 


having only one church ; the Protestants were princi 
pally Lutherans, who were, however, divided into the 
Orthodox and Pietistic; parties there were also ad 
herents of the Reformed faith. In 1729 the city had 
fourteen Lutheran and three Reformed churches. 
Owing to the nearness of Russia, members of the 
Greek Church frequently came to the city. The active 
trade also attracted many Jews, who had their own 
social and religious institutions. 

Besides its commercial advantages, Kb nigsberg was 
the religious, political, judicial, military, and literary 
centre of the province. It was the home of numerous 
civil and military officers, as well as of scholars and 
prominent ecclesiastics. Besides its elementary schools, 
it contained five gymnasia and a university. In the 
higher classes of society there was considerable 
culture and literary inspiration ; even outside of the 
university there existed a good degree of intellectual 
activity, and among the merchants were found a num 
ber of men who cultivated a taste for letters. Ha- 
mann, Hippol, and others, acquired a reputation by 
means of their books, and many of the officers took 
an interest in scholarship. Isolated as the city was 
from other literary centres, it had in itself many of 
those elements which are calculated to develop a 
taste for learning. Even among the poorer classes 
there was an ambition to give their sons a learned 
education, an ambition which the schools helped to 
realize as well as to inspire ; and many sons of mechanics 
took a university course. 

His surroundings, as we shall see, had an important 
influence on Kant. This busy, stirring city afforded 
variety and inspiration enough to make it a favourable 


abode for a scholar ; and yet it was free from those 
distracting influences which are apt to interfere seri 
ously with study. Its advantages and disadvantages 
must, of course, be judged by last century, not by our 
age. The merchants from different lands, and the 
seamen with large, varied, and interesting experience, 
gave the scholar special opportunities to study men and 
to gain a knowledge of the world. That Kant highly 
appreciated the advantages offered by the city, is evi 
dent from a note to the Preface of his " Anthropology :" 
" A large city, the centre of a government, in which 
the officer^ of- the Government are found ; which con 
tains a university for the culture of the sciences, and 
is also so situated as to have commerce by sea ; which 
is favoured with communication, by means of rivers, 
with the interior of the country, as well as with more 
distant adjoining lands of various tongues and customs ; 
such a city, for instance, as Kb nigsberg on the Pregel, 
may be regarded as a suitable place for enlarging one s 
knowledge of men and of the world, a place where this 
knowledge may be gained even without travel. "( 3 ) 

Immanuel Kant was born in this city, on the 22nd 
of April, 1724, in a house in Saddler Street. This 
house, which has been torn down, stood near the 
Green Bridge, which was the centre of a lively trade 
during the summer, where especially the Germans, 
Dutch, English, Poles, and Jews, carried on an extensive 
traffic. The boy was thus early brought into contact 
with representatives of these nationalities, and he had 
an opportunity for observing the peculiar manners 
and customs of different nations ; afterwards the study 
of national characteristics and of different countries 
became his chief literary recreation and delight. 


In the almanac for Eastern Prussia, the 22nd of 
April is designated " Emanuel : " this circumstance 
determined his Christian name at his baptism, which 
took place the day after his birth. The very meaning 
of the word commended it to his pious parents ; and 
Kant also became attached to the name. 

In his relatives, so far as they are known to us, we 
find no evidence of extraordinary intellectual endow 
ments. His parents were plain people, belonging to 
the class of mechanics, and there was little to distin 
guish them from others of the same grade in society, 
except perhaps their eminent morality and piety. But 
while there is no trace of family genius, we have in 
Kant a union of the blood of the two nations which are 
most distinguished for their metaphysical speculations, 
namely the Scotch and the German. 

His father, John George Cant ( 4 ), born near Memel, 
in Prussia, was the son of Scotch parents who had 
emigrated thither from Scotland. Kant himself states 
that for some unknown reason quite a number of Scotch 
families emigrated to Sweden and Germany, at the close 
of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth 
century, and that his paternal grandparents wqre 
among these emigrants. Of these ancestors, and of 
Kant s other paternal relations, nothing is known. 
Even of John George Cant scarcely anything is re 
corded ; his celebrated son, with his characteristic 
reticence respecting his early life, rarely referred to 
him. Kant s father was a saddler in humble circum 
stances, whose strict morality seems to have been the 
most striking trait of his character. He was industrious 
and conscientious, and was specially intent on training 
his children to habits of industry and to the formation 


of an upright character ; and as he regarded truthful 
ness as the most essential of the virtues, he took 
particular pains to inculcate a love for the truth. 
Immanuel esteemed his character highly, and on the 
occasion of his death, in 1746, he wrote in the family 
Bible : " On the 24th of March, my dear father was 
taken away by a happy death. May God, who did not 
grant him many joys in this life, permit him to share 
the eternal joys." 

The character of Immanuel s mother was more 
positive than that of the father ; and though she died 
when her son was only fourteen years old, and eight 
years earlier than his father, she made on him the 
deepest and most lasting impression. Her parents 
were German, and her maiden name was Regina 
Dorothea Reuter. She was an affectionate mother 
and a devoted Christian, and together with her husband 
belonged to the Pietistic party in the Lutheran Church. 
In her character the religious element was predominant, 
while her husband laid the emphasis on morality. Onthe 
day of her marriage, November 13th, 1715, she wrote 
the following in the family Bible : " May the Lord our 
God be pleased to keep us in constant love and unity, 
and give to us the dew of heaven and the sweetness of 
the earth, till He brings us to the marriage of the 
.Lamb ; for the sake of Jesus Christ His Son. Amen." 
She was greatly influenced by her pastor, Dr. F. A. 
Schulz, who in the pulpit and in his pastoral visitations 
exhorted his people to have stated times for prayer 
and other religious exercises, to strive earnestly for 
a change of heart, and to learn definitely the time of 
this change. She was faithful in following these 
directions, and strict in attending to religious devotions 


at home and in church. In the training of her children 
she was most anxious about their spiritual welfare, 
and it was largely to her influence that Immanuel was 
indebted for his high ideal of holiness and the develop 
ment of his character. 

In harmony with the prevalent low views of woman s 
intellectual capacities and calling, the facilities for 
female education were very meagre. When broad 
intellectual culture was regarded as unnecessary or 
even inappropriate for women who belonged to the 
higher classes of society, it is not surprising that a few 
rudiments of knowledge were thought sufficient for 
the daughters of mechanics and labourers. We must, 
therefore, not expect to find Kant s mother a woman 
of superior education ; but she had more than the 
ordinary intelligence of the women of her own rank. 
Kant, who said that he was the picture of his mother, 
regarded her as a woman of good natural powers, of 
noble heart, and of devout piety. In his old age he 
still spoke of her with reverence and even with 
tenderness, saying, " My mother was a lovely, 
affectionate, pious, and upright woman, and a tender 
mother, who led her children to the fear of God by 
means of pious instruction and a virtuous example. 
Often she took me outside of the city, directed my 
attention to the works of God, spoke with pious rap 
ture of His omnipotence, wisdom, and goodness, and 
impressed on my heart a deep reverence for the Creator 
of all things. Never shall I forget my mother, for she 
planted and nourished in me the first good seed, and 
opened my heart to the impressions of nature ; she 
aroused and enlarged my thoughts ; and her instruc 
tion has had an abiding and blessed influence on my 


life." She died December 18th, 1737, her death being 
an offering on the altar of affection. A friend, whom 
she tenderly loved, had been engaged to a man who 
forsook her and married another. This faithlessness 
so deeply affected the friend, that she was attacked by 
a fatal fever, during which she refused all remedies. 
Kant s mother, who attended her during her illness, 
urged her to take some medicine ; but she declined it, 
under the pretext that the taste was too disagreeable. 
In order to convince her that this was not the case, his 
mother tasted it, using for that purpose a spoon which 
had already been in the mouth of the patient. A 
feeling of disgust came over her immediately, she 
became greatly excited, and the effect on her imagi 
nation was increased when she discovered spots on the 
body of her friend which indicated that the disease 
was spotted fever. She became sick on the same day, 
and soon died. 

The peace, morality, and piety of his home exerted a 
marked and lasting influence on Kant, and to his early 
training he himself ascribed his moral strictness and his 
power to resist evil inclinations. The circumstances in 
which he was placed were calculated to develop strength 
of character and self-reliance. Without being in 
absolute need, he was obliged to practise self-denial ; 
and without insuperable obstacles in the way of an 
education, he early encountered and mastered difficul 
ties. The very hardships of his youth served to unfold 
his powers, and led him to prize the more highly the 
learning which cost him so much effort. His home 
was admirably adapted to the development of those 
qualities which Kant learned to appreciate above all 
others, and which are really the best ; and he appre- 


ciated its excellence and recognized its beneficial effect 
on his character. Though he inherited from his 
parents no money, he received from them treasures 
inestimably more valuable. His father died poor, but 
without debts. Only a few years before his own 
death, Kant described his parents as models of moral 
propriety. " They gave me," he said, "a training which, 
in a moral point of view, could not have been better, 
and for which, at every remembrance of them, I am 
moved with the most grateful emotions." In compar 
ing his humble home with others of wealth and of rank, 
he spoke of its superior excellence. " Kant said that 
when he contemplated his work as a tutor in the house 
of a count not far from Konigsberg ... he had often 
thought, with deep emotion, of the incomparably more 
excellent training which he had received in his home, 
where, as he gratefully boasted, he had never seen or 
heard anything that was immoral. "( 5 ) 

While in many instances Pietism had degenerated, 
we have reason to believe that this was not the case 
with the religion of Kant s parents. From all we can 
learn of them, we are justified in concluding that they 
were free from bigotry, hypocrisy, and fanaticism. 
That their religion was sincere and earnest, and that 
it moulded their characters and lives, is evident from 
the testimony of their son. Speaking of his parents, 
he said, " Even if the religious views of that day, arid 
the notions of what was called virtue and piety, were 
not clear and satisfactory, nevertheless the thing itself 
was found. Let men say what they will of Pietism, 
those who sincerely adopted it were honourably distin 
guished. They had the highest which a man can 
possess that rest, that cheerfulness, and that inner 


peace, which no passion could disturb. No need and 
no persecution disheartened them ; no contention could 
excite them to anger and enmity. In a word, even the 
mere observer was involuntarily inspired with respect. 
I still remember how a quarrel about their rights broke 
out between the guilds of the harness-makers and of 
the saddlers, from which my father suffered consi 
derably ; but in spite of this, even in the conversation 
in the family this quarrel was mentioned with such 
forbearance and love toward the opponents, and with 
such firm confidence in Providence, that the thought 
of it, though I was only a boy then, wall never leave 
me." ( ci ) This testimony is the more significant, because 
Kant had no sympathy with Pietism when it w as given. 
The influence of this home must indeed have been 
exceptional, since Kant, the strict and even severe 
moralist, frequently said, " Never, not even a single 
time was I permitted to hear anything improper from 
my parents ; never did I see in them anything that was 

There were ten children besides Immanuel, three sons 
and seven daughters ; six of these, two sons older than 
Immanuel, and four daughters, died quite young. He 
was the fourth child. His only brother who attained 
years of maturity, John Henry, was eleven years 
younger, and chose the ministry as his profession, 
studying theology in the University of Konigsberg. 
After spending some time as family tutor in Courland, 
he became the rector of a school in Mittau ; and from 
1780 until his death in 1800 he was the pastor of a 
church in Rahden, Courland. He had an original 
mind and was well informed ; his attainments in history, 
of which he made a speciality, were superior, and he 


also had a good knowledge of mathematics, was a critical 
student of the classics, read extensively, and was an 
admirer of practical philosophy, but not of metaphysics. 
It is said that in his youth he received instruction from 
his brother, which probably means that he attended 
some of his lectures while at the university. He read 
his writings until his book on " Religion within the 
Limits of Reason " appeared, then refused to read any 
more of them, because, he said, his old head could not 
adapt itself to a new terminology. The early home- 
training left a moral impression on him similar to that 
made on his celebrated brother, and he was upright 
and candid, and had the strictest regard for the truth. 
He published nothing, his sphere being practical life 
rather than speculation or literature ; but till the close 
of his life he was a student of learned works. While 
conscientious and energetic in the discharge of his 
duties, he also had admirable qualities of heart. His 
studies, his religious views, his pursuits, and, in fact, 
his whole life, were so different from those of his 
brother that there was little congeniality between them. 
They rarely corresponded with each other, and for many 
years not at all. Immanuel seems to have cherished 
no fraternal affection for his only brother, who was 
also the only relative who could lay any claim to 
scholarship ; though after his brother s death he gene 
rously aided the family, which had been left in poverty. 
Of the three sisters who survived the age of child 
hood, one was older than Immanuel and died unmarried; 
the other two were married to humble citizens of 
Konigsberg. They had enjoyed only the extremely 
meagre educational advantages of girls in their 
circumstances, had no opportunities for refinement and 


culture, and never rose above their lowly station in life. 
Only one of them, Mrs. Theuer, survived her brother. 
The early intellectual advantages of Kant were by no 
means equal to the superior moral ones. It is not 
easy to transfer ourselves from the enlightened Germany 
of to-day, with its masterly educational system, to the 
Germany of the first decades of the eighteenth century. 
The letters and biographies of that period must be 
read, in order to form a conception of the people who 
were still painfully struggling to rise above the ruins of 
the Thirty Years War ; a people that had just passed 
through the saddest century of their history, a century 
of wretchedness and despair ; a people depressed, 
depreciating themselves in comparison with other 
nations, with neither political unity nor independence, 
with no national literature, and without the conscious 
ness of intellectual strength. While various de 
partments of learning flourished in England, France, 
and the Netherlands, Germany had little or no intel 
lectual influence among the nations, a fact which will 
become more evident when we follow Kant to the 
gymnasium and the university, but which also must 
be taken into account in connexion with his entire 
education. The day when Pestalozzi and others 
radically reformed the educational system of Germany 
had not yet come. In the primary schools, both in 
the city and in the country, the instruction was very 
defective. Girls were taught to read, and perhaps to 
cipher, and they also received religious instruction, but 
rarely anything more. There were no schools for the 
higher education of girls ; hence, unless parents could 
afford a private tutor, their education was confined to 
these elements ; and the boys, unless they were to be 


prepared for the gymnasium, generally fared little 
better. The teachers were frequently incompetent, 
many of them being mechanics who taught in connexion 
with their trade, in order to eke out a living. 

Kant at first attended what was called the Hospital 
School. The pastor of the family, Dr. Schulz, who 
was the first to notice the abilities of the boy, called 
the attention of his parents to his talents, and urged 
them to promote their development. His connexion 
with one of the gymnasia as rector, and with the uni 
versity as professor, made the way for the higher 
education of Kant more easy ; and the fact that both 
the gymnasium and the university were in Konigsberg 
made it possible to give him the advantages of these 
institutions with comparatively little expense. If it 
had not been for this faithful pastor, there seems to have 
been little probability that his parents would have 
thought of sending him to the gymnasium. Jachmann, 
one of the biographers of the Konigsberg philosopher, 
says of this pastor, " Kant is indebted to him for 
what he became, and the learned world is under obli 
gation to him for what it gained through Kant s 
culture." But in spite of the limited expense, his 
parents could not afford to give him a liberal education ; 
their pastor, however, gave substantial help by sending 
them fire-wood free of charge. Whether the powerful 
influence of Schulz secured stipends, or other pecuniary 
aid, is not known. Being a devout Pietist, the minister 
was desirous that Kant should study theology, and 
this met the wishes of his parents, especially of his 
mother. \Vhen eight years old, he was accordingly 
sent to the Collegium Fridericianum, the gymnasium 
of which the pastor was rector. 


Kant gratefully recognized the services rendered 
him by this excellent man, and Borowski, his friend 
and biographer, says, " In Kant s estimation, Dr. F. 
A. Schulz was one of the first and most excellent of 
men. During lucid intervals in his old age, and often 
in former years, he expressed a desire to erect a monu 
ment to the memory of Schulz, and also thought that 
others ought to erect one." Late in life Kant regretted 
that in his writings he had not reared a memorial to 
the memory of his friend and benefactor. He was 
also indebted to a maternal uncle, named Richter, a 
shoemaker of some means, who assisted him while a 
student and afterwards. 

Neither of the parents lived to witness the begin 
ning of their son s fame ; the mother, however, lived 
to see him in the gymnasium, preparing for the uni 
versity, and the father saw him complete his course in 
the university, but died a year before his first book 
was published. 

If we examine Kant s youth with the hope of finding 
some prophecy of his future greatness, we shall be 
disappointed. This may be due partly to the fact that 
we know so little about that period of his life ; but 
there seems to have been nothing extraordinary in it, 
as otherwise it would probably have been recorded. 
During the first years at school he manifested no 
preference for the subject in which he achieved his 
great fame ; and even during his studies at the uni 
versity he did not make it a speciality. Impelled by a 
thirst for knowledge, he was a diligent student, and in 
some branches his attainments were more than ordi 
nary ; he, however, gave no evidences of striking 
brilliancy of intellect, and even his most intimate friends 

Oil Id IN OF 1MKTISM. 15 

discovered in him no indications of the profound 
metaphysician or of any extraordinary philosophical 
genius. While but little is known about him personally 
during this period, we, fortunately, have the data for a 
knowledge of the two most important factors in his early 
life, namely, the religious and intellectual influences to 
which he was subject. 

The gymnasium which Kant attended was, like his 
home, subject to Pietistic influence ; and to a large 
extent this is also true of the university. At home, 
therefore, in church, in the gymnasium, and in the 
university, he was in this religious atmosphere ; and 
for the sake of understanding his youth, and also his 
character and life, it is important to examine this 
powerful religious tendency. When we consider what 
his pastor and the Pietistic schools did for Kant, it is 
not too much to say that the world is indebted to 
Pietism for saving from obscurity the greatest of 
modern metaphysicians. 

The great religious movement begun by Spener in 
the second half of the seventeenth century, called 
Pietism by its opponents, was a powerful revival of 
religion, to which in many respects the later Metho 
dist movement in England was similar. Its influence 
was by no means confined to the Lutheran Church, in 
which it originated, but extended to all the churches. 
Unlike Methodism, it did not organize a new denomi 
nation, but aimed at the spiritualization of the Lutheran 
Church. Spencr has been called a second Luther; 
and the great work begun by him was in many 
respects a real reformation. Instead of the cold and 
formal orthodoxy generally prevalent, he wanted to 
introduce more spiritual life into the churches and a 


more practical Christianity. While not aiming to set 
aside the orthodox doctrines, he did not want mere 
intellectual assent to them to be regarded as consti 
tuting a Christian ; but he aimed to quicken the doc 
trines, and to apply them to the heart as well as the 
head, so that they might form a character which should 
attest itself in daily life, as well as in profession and in 
acts distinctively religious. But in giving so much 
emphasis to the character of the heart and the life, the 
self-sufficiency of a sterile intellectualism in religion 
and of a dead orthodoxy was attacked, and the doctrines 
themselves received a relatively different position and 
value. By means of such views, and through his 
efforts to spread them, Spener exerted an almost un 
paralleled spiritual influence throughout Germany. 
Among the few signs of life after the Thirty Years War, 
Pietism was the most important. Although its direct 
aim was only religious, it affected all departments of 
life, stimulated education and government, aroused 
the latent energies of the masses, and gave the people 
inspiration, hope, and enthusiasm. In many places, 
spring with its warm breath, and teeming with life, 
followed a cold, dead winter. Becoming an absorbing 
passion, it concentrated all the energies in religious 
aims. While the nobility and the heads of Government 
were affected by it, Pietism was essentially a popular 
movement, and the neglected classes, the masses, were 
the recipients of its greatest benefits. Catechization, 
which had been neglected, was generally introduced, 
and was made a spiritual as well as an intellectual 
exercise; meetings for prayer and biblical study were 
held during the week; pastoral visitation, with religious 
counsel and exhortation, became common ; the preach- 


ing, which had boon coldly intellectual, was quickened ; 
theological instruction, which had become scholastic, 
dry, and polemical, was made more spiritual and more 
ethical; and the whole aspect of the spiritual life was 
changed. The movement aroused the missionary ac- 
tivity of the Church, established benevolent institutions, 
and culminated in founding the University of Halle, 
and rYancke s Orphan Asylum in the same city. In 
Prussia, Pietism became a great power, and this uni 
versity was especially favoured by the Government; 
and 1 Yancke s Asylum, and the various institutions 
connected with it, became the model for other Pie- 
tistic establishments. 

It is evident that a movement so vigorous, and so 
radical in the changes it effected, could not escape 
opposition. The Orthodox party denounced it and 
persecuted its leaders. A bitter controversy arose 
between the two parties, in which impure motives, 
personal attacks, and abusive epithets, bore a pro 
minent part, produced distraction and religious in 
difference, and promoted scepticism. Even the most 
ardent advocate of Pietism cannot deny that in the 
course of time it laid itself open to serious charges. 
It lost much of its original freshness, simplicity, and 
power, and became formal and artificial ; and before 
the first half of the eighteenth century had closed, the 
period of its degeneracy had come. Its piety became 
constrained and affected, and was a matter of rules 
rather than of spontaneous spiritual life. It developed 
a painfully anxious spirit, and encouraged an intro 
spection which frequently led to gloomy brooding over 
the state of the he-art; those who were obliged to 
submit to its regulations, and to listen to its frequent 



exhortations, wore apt to find much in them that was 
irksome and insipid ; and it is not strange that in 
many instances the heart, instead of being won by 
its appeals, turned from them with aversion. The 
constant playing on the emotions, and the persistent 
efforts to bring about conversion, sometimes pro 
duced effects which were very different from those 
intended. Add to this the fact that many Pietists, in 
their extreme opposition to amusements, gave to life 
a gloomy and unnatural aspect ; that learning was 
frequently spoken of disparagingly, all the emphasis 
being laid on the heart and its experiences ; that a sup 
posed superiority to others often engendered a spiritual 
pride ; and that hypocrisy was apt to assume the garb 
which seemed to be most devout and it will readily 
be understood that the degenerated Pietism, for only 
that is meant, had a deleterious influence, especially 
on the minds of the young and the scholarly. It be 
came too narrow, too little human, and too unhealthy, 
to satisfy deep and scientific natures. From a per 
secuted party it grew in many places to be the 
dominant one, and it also became a persecutor. When 
through its instigations the philosopher Wolf was 
obliged to leave Halle, and when it sought to force 
others to refrain from teaching what it regarded as 
irreligious, Pietism created the suspicion that it was 
hostile to freedom in scientific investigation, a sus 
picion which is specially potent in its influence on 
students. There were indeed many Pietists during 
the period of its degeneracy who were free from the 
faults mentioned ; but their example did not counter 
act the evil influences of an unhealthy Pietism. 

The religious influences to which the sensitive, im- 


pressible mind of Kant was subject at home and in 
the gymnasium were such as were exerted by the 
better class of the Pietists of that day ; but that these 
influences were not wholly beneficial is evident from 
the testimony of numerous reliable witnesses. Ex 
cesses occurred which bore evil fruit, and there were 
methods which, in spite of the purity of the motives 
which prompted them, frustrated their intended aim. 

The Fridericianum was founded by a dealer in wood, 
named Gehr, who was a Pietist, and was desirous 
of having his children educated in his own faith. 
For this purpose he procured from the celebrated 
Orphan Asylum in Halle, in 1098, Dr. Lysius, a su 
perior instructor, who modelled the institution he 
founded in Konigsberg after the one in Halle, both 
religiously and intellectually. At first the school was 
only a private one, intended for the children of the 
founder, and the teacher was a family tutor; but his 
extraordinary success led other parents to ask per 
mission to send their children to him. Besides grant 
ing this request, Gehr also gave free instruction to 
some poor children. The popularity of the institu 
tion soon aroused the opposition of the educational 
authorities in Konigsberg; and in order to quiet the 
unfavourable rumours respecting the school, Gehr 
requested a full examination of its instruction and 
methods. The committee appointed for this purpose 
gave an exceedingly favourable report, declaring that 
they were surprised and gratified at the attainments 
of the pupils in Latin, Greek, history, geography, and 
other branches, as well as in the catechism and in 
the Scriptures. 

The school continued to be a private institution 

o 2 


till 1703, when it received the royal privilege of a 
gymnasium with the name, " Collegium Fridericia- 
num." In granting this privilege, the king declared 
that it was his aim " to extend God s glory and to 
bring souls to heaven." Besides the gymnasium, the 
institution had a German school for the elementary 
instruction of boys and girls. It was the only insti 
tution in Prussia which had a boarding department, 
a feature which attracted many foreigners, especially 
Russians, Lieflanders, and Courlanders. In 1732 
schools for the poor were also added. 

Kant spent eight and a half years in this gymnasium, 
entering it in the spring of 1732. Rejoiced as the 
poor lad no doubt was that, in spite of his humble 
condition, his desire for knowledge was to be grati 
fied, the impression of the institution cannot have been 
very cheerful. A description of the building a hundred 
years later shows that its effect must have been 
gloomy ; for the small rooms, with low ceilings, were 
" suffocating in summer and cold in winter ;" some 
of them were so dark as to make study difficult, and 
" in this semi-twilight, reading and writing injure the 
eyes and put the mind into a despondent mood." The 
kitchens of the professors apartments were contiguous, 
and sent their fragrance into the cheerless recitation 
rooms. ( 7 ) 

The rector of the gymnasium, Dr. F. A. Schulz, is of 
special interest to us on account of the important ser 
vice he rendered Kant. Like his predecessor, Lysius, 
he had been educated at Halle, Avhere he was known as 
an ardent Pietist and a zealous disciple of the \Yolfian 
philosophy. Having spent some time in pastoral work 
in other places, he was called to Konigsberg in 1731, to 

IK. scurLZ. 21 

become the pastor of one of the churches and also a 
member of the consistory. Other influential positions 
were soon added, for which lie was indebted to the 
royal favour; thus, he was appointed Professor of 
Theology, and he became a member of the academic 
senate ; lie was made rector of the Fridericianum, and 
served on important ecclesiastical and educational 
committees. Schulz was a fine scholar; and at 
Halle, through the influence of the philosopher Wolf, 
he obtained permission to deliver mathematical and 
philosophical lectures in the university before he had 
taken a degree. lie possessed great mental vigour, 
superior organizing talent, and indomitable zeal. As 
pastor, rector, teacher, and administrator, he was emi 
nently successful. As general inspector of schools 
his service to the cause of education in Konigsberg 
and throughout the kingdom Avas of inestimable 
value ; and it was chiefly through his activity that 
1000 new schools were established. After his death, 
one of his pupils said, " What a great mind Schulz 
must have had, is evident from the fact that for 
the greater part of his life he patiently, actively, 
cheerfully, with great intelligence, and with blessed 
results, held more than six distinct offices, with all 
their labours and burdens." ( 8 ) 

This is the man to whose memory Kant was de 
sirous of erecting a monument. Tie became the pastor 
of the family when Kant was but seven years old ; 
and next to the parents he was most influential in 
forming the character of the boy. His Pietism was 
the basis and the impulse of all his activities. He 
was a faithful pastor, was an excellent and a power 
ful preacher. The pupil already quoted says, " What 


an impression was made by liis edifying, simple, mov 
ing eloquence ! He readied the soul, the bones, and 
the marrow. As little as one with open eye can avoid 
seeing the lightning, so little could one escape his 
power to move." 

Not only at home and in church, but also in the 
gymnasium, Kant was brought under the influence of 
Schulz. The rector was too much occupied with 
other matters to attend to the business affairs of the 
gymnasium ; these were left to his assistant, Schiffert, 
who was also a zealous Pietist and a g^ood scholar. 


But Schulz was the ruling spirit in the Fridericianum, 
and his power was especially felt in its religious 
management. The spiritual element was the most 
prominent in the institution, and everything had a 
Pietistic hue. ( 9 ) From the character of Schulz, as well 
as from the testimony of the best pupils of the 
school, including that of Kant, we infer that the 
Pietism was sincere and zealous, and was in general 


free from fanaticism. ( I0 ) At the same time there is 
no doubt that there was an excess of effort to 
arouse religious emotions. One is surprised at the 
amount of time devoted to devotional exercises in 
Pietistic schools, which were chiefly emotional and 
aimed at a conviction of sin and to effect conversion. 
While in the other schools of the city two hours 
a week were given to religious instruction, in 
the Fridericianum the first hour of each day was 
devoted to it, and every recitation was begun and 
closed with prayer. Besides the Bible, the catechisms 
of Luther, Spener, and Dietrich were used in the 
school. On Sunday there were two sermons and 
two catechizations in the church connected with the 


institution. All the instruction had a religious aim, 
and exhortations were frequently connected with the 
recitations. The original New Testament was the 
principal book used in the study of Greek, and the 
interpretation of that book was the aim in the 
study of that language. The historical instruction 
was mostly confined to the history of the Old and 
New Testaments. And Scheffner, who was a pupil 
a little later than Kant, states that on every Sunday 
two boys from the upper classes had to stand 
before the pulpit, while Dr. Schulz, with a sharp 
voice and in a severe tone, catechized them on his 

The discipline of the institution was stern, and the 
pupils regarded its severity as an element of the re 
ligion. (") Whatever benefits might flow from them, 
Pietism and its discipline in the gymnasium could not 
fail to excite aversion and opposition, particularly on 
the part of those who were predominantly intellectual 
and had a passion for knowledge. These influences 
were by no means such as were calculated to attract 
Kant, in whose nature emotional religion never struck 
a sympathetic chord. Borowski says of him that he 
" had no taste at all for the forms of piety or religious 
ness which many of the pupils adopted, sometimes 
from very impure motives." 

Whatever excellences there may have been in the 
religion of his home and the gymnasium, Kant s 
opinion of Pietism in general was by no means favour 
able. Sometimes he spoke of it with bitterness; and 
taking his own words as a commentary on its charac 
ter, we are not surprised that he turned from it with 
aversion. Ho says, " Hut it is not contempt for 


piety which has made Pietism a name to designate a 
sect, with which a certain degree of contempt is 
always associated ; but it is the fantastic and, with all 
appearance of humility, proud assumption that they 
are distinguished as the supernaturally favoured 
children of heaven, though their conduct, as far as can 
be seen, has not the least advantage over those who 
are called by them the children of the world." ( 12 ) 

Pietism thus had its favourable and its unfavour 
able elements, and Kant was subject to both kinds of 
influence. Its excesses, its emotional character, and 
its controversies, had a bad effect on many minds. 
Though powerful in the province, it left no enduring 
literary monuments, because its sermons and books 
lacked depth and breadth ; its glory consisted in its 
ethical features, in promoting education among the 
masses, and in establishing eleemosynary institutions. 
In the schools its aims were often frustrated ; and it 
is probable that both Kant and his friend Ruhnken 
refused to enter the ministry, though they were sent 
to the gymnasium by their parents to prepare for that 
profession, because they were unfavourably affected 
by Pietism. But while its religious features repelled 
Kant, its moral elements exerted the deepest influence 
on him. In his ethical system, especially in his stern 
morality and in his views of the radical evil in human 
nature and the need of conversion, Ave see the effect 
of his early religious training. Pietism did not win 
his heart, but it moulded his conscience. " The weak 
ness of Pietism Avas its drill system, into which it fell 
in its exaggerations. When the religious instruction of 
children became a strait- jacket, it lost its attractions 
for the youthful mind ; nevertheless, in its onesided- 


ness, Pietism forged that brass logical chain whose 
last link is the Categorical Imperative." ( l! ) 

In intellectual character and educational advantages 
the Fridericianum compared favourably with the other 
schools of that day. Xot only was it the best of the 
five gymnasia in Konigsberg, but it was the best 
and most celebrated in the province. It introduced 
improvements Avhich were also adopted by other insti 
tutions, and it sent into the churches, schools, civil 
offices, and various other spheres, more eminent and 
successful men than any other school in eastern 
Prussia. Kant was a pupil in its most flourishing 
period, namely, during the first years of the rectorate 
of Dr. Schulz. His predecessor, Lysius, who has been 
pronounced, next to Francke, the best teacher of his 
day, devoted thirty years to the development of the 
school; and Dr. Schulz continued to conduct and 
develop it in his spirit. 

Hut notwithstanding its superiority for that day, 
it was very inferior when compared with the excellent 
German gymnasia of the present. Owing to the pre 
ponderance of the Latin language in the gymnasia, 
they were commonly called Latin schools; but both 
the Latin and the Greek were, taught mechanically, as 
a system of rules and as a discipline for the memory, 
while the spirit of the classics was neglected. "As 
late as 177 ( .>, Frederick the Great found it necessary 
to enjoin upon the Prussian gymnasia, by means of a, 
cabinet order, a more diligent and better study of the; 
Greek and Latin authors, in order that the pupils 
might get the substance as well as the words, and 
ideas as well as a good diction." (") The German 
language was not thoroughly taught ; and the instruo 


tion in general was scholastic and formal, rather than 
real and living. 

The Fridericianum was not free from the defects 
then common in the Latin schools, and it also suffered 
from the fact that, on account of its limited means, 
it was obliged to depend largely on students of the 
university, and candidates for the ministry, for its in 
structors. The employment of so many new and 
inexperienced instructors made much machinery neces 
sary. " The frequent change of teachers obliged the 
directors to follow a certain plan of instruction, which 
prescribed the lessons for every course, every month, 
every week, and even for every hour. The teacher 
was a wound-up watch, which, in the opinion of the 
Pietists, was set correctly and went right." ( l5 ) 

It is evident from these facts, that the general 
character of the gymnasia and the peculiar condition of 
the Fridericianum give no assurance that Kant en 
joyed the advantages of a deep and broad culture 
while preparing for the university. The Fridericianum 
had the merit of being the first Latin school in the 
city which introduced history, geography, and mathe 
matics, as regular branches of study; but the instruction 
in them was by no means thorough. The course of 
study included Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, history, 
logic, mathematics, and geography ; and the German 
language was taught in connexion with rhetoric and 
poetry, but the time for its appreciation as a branch 
of study had not yet come. There was no instruction 
in natural history or physics. It is not strange that 
in his mature years Kant s opinion of the intellectual 
character of the gymnasium was not very favourable. 
The very thought of the instruction in logic and mathe- 



matics made him laugh; and in speaking of his 
teachers in these branches, he said, " These gentle 
men could probably not have kindled into a fire any 
spark of philosophy or mathematics which might have 
been in us." Cunde, his fellow-pupil, to whom he 
made this remark, answered, " They could blow it 
out or quench it." Scheffner relates that his teacher 
used the Greek New Testament as a text-book, and had 
the translation written between the lines. One teacher, 
by the name of Heydenreich, was, however, an excep 
tion to the general rule. He was connected with the 
school from 17->7 171-0, and taught the first Latin 
class, which had from sixteen to eighteen lessons a 
week. Besides teaching the language, he explained 
the text, caught and communicated the spirit of the 
classics, and interested and inspired his students. 
Kant rarely referred to his teachers in the gymnasium ; 
but Borowski says that he spoke with great esteem of 
Heydenreich more than a hundred times. To this 
"elegant Latin scholar," as Kant called him, he was 
indebted for that inspiration which he failed to find in 
the other branches, and he devoted himself to the study 
of the Latin classics with great zeal. Not only was this 
his favourite study in the gymnasium, it was the only 
one for which he manifested a preference, and in which 
he made any special progress. Kant, Ruhnken, and 
Cunde, frequently met to read Latin authors who were 
not included in the course; and Ruhnken, who had 
more money at his command than his comrades, took 
pains to furnish the best editions of the classics. 
They were all gifted young men, with intellectual 
tastes and aspirations; they were diligent and success 
ful students; and in the pursuit of their favourite 


study they not only learned tlie Latin language, and 
cultivated a good Latin style, but they also developed 
a taste for the spirit and the beauties of the classics. 
His association and study with these friends made 
oases in Kant s youth, and he remembered with great 
pleasure the happy hours spent with Ruhnken and 
Cunde over his favourites among the ancients. 

The diligent study of the classics was of great and 
permanent value to Kant. Not only did it enable him 
to use the Latin language easily and gracefully, which 
is evident from his dissertations in that language, but 
it also laid the basis for that broad humanistic culture 
which was so noticeable in his conversations and 
lectures. In his first book, written when the impres 
sion of the classics was still fresh, Horace, Virgil, and 
Lucretius, are quoted. In his conversations he fre 
quently referred to the Latin authors ; and even in old 
age, when his memory for recent impressions had 
become very weak, he was still able to quote easily 
and correctly numerous passages from Latin writers, 
especially from the work of his favourite author, 
Lucretius, " De Natura Rerum." In 1801 a friend 
of Kant, speaking of his association with Ruhnken 
at the gymnasium, wrote, " Kant never forgot the 
charming entertainment furnished him by the ancients ; 
and even now, at his great age, his memory does not 
merely retain the most beautiful verses and sentences 
of the Latin poets, orators, and historians, but the 
remembrance of them frequently inspires him." ( 1G ) 

When we consider the character of the gymnasium, 
we are not surprised that Kant manifested no pre 
ference for the subjects which afterwards engrossed 
his attention. It is explained by the fact that natural 


science had no place in the curriculum, and that 
mathematics and logic were not taught in such a way 
as to inspire any love for them ; and the boy had not 
yet developed sufficient taste for these branches to 
make them subjects of independent study. He was 
still dependent on his teachers and surroundings for his 
inspiration and preferences, and there was no evidence 
of a decided natural inclination or gift in any particular 
direction. Not until he \vas brought under the 
influence of other instructors, in the university, was 
there any indication that his speciality would not be 
philology. Ruhnken said that at the gymnasium he 
himself had a preference for philosophy, Kant for 
philology; yet the former made 1 his reputation in 
philology, the latter in philosophy, and Ruhnken s last 
work was " Scholia in Platonem," while Kant s last 
intellectual labour was devoted to the completion of his 
philosophy. Kypke, another fellow-pupil of Kant, said 
that at that time they did not, and could not, have the 
least idea that Kant would ever devote himself to 
philosophy. And Ruhnken afterwards regretted that 
Kant had abandoned the green fields of the humani 
ties, to wander on the barren steppes of metaphysics. 

Already at the gymnasium Kant was ambitious for 
authorship. As scholars sometimes Latini/ed their 
names, he proposed to write his " Kantius," on the 
titk-pages of his books, while Ruhnken expected to 
become known as " Ruhnkenius," and ( 1 unde as 
" Cundeus." Ruhnken was the only one who carried 
out this intention, and as Ruhnkenius lie attained 
fame as an authority in classical literature. 

Kant and Uulmkeii never met each other after they 
left the gymnasium. The latter went lo Wittenberg, 


to study the classics, philosophy, and law ; then to 
Ley den, to pursue Greek under the eminent Hemster- 
huys. Having lost faith in speculative philosophy, he 
devoted his life to philology, was appointed professor 
in Ley den, and stood in the front rank of the classical 
scholars of last century, llulmken was one year older 
than Kant, and died in 1797. 

Cunde, Kant s other intimate friend at the gym 
nasium, was also his fellow-student in the university. 
After finishing his studies at Konigsberg, he taught for 
awhile in the Fridericianum, and then became rector 
of a Latin school in Rastenburg. He was an excellent 
man and a superior teacher. It is said that he had 
stupendous learning, " which would have been an 
honour to any university, an incomparable method in 
teaching, and a deep insight into human nature." He 
was a man of strict integrity and sterling worth ; and 
the three friends were congenial morally as well as 
intellectually. Overworked while a teacher in the 
Fridericianum, Cunde s health was already undermined 
when he went to Rastenburg. The school-building at 
this place was so bad that its miserable condition was 
the occasion of his premature death in 1 759. This 
trio, Kant, Ruhnken, and Cunde, seem to have dis 
played the most intellectual vigour among the students 
at that time in the gymnasium, and this, together with 
their moral character and their aspii^ations, formed the 
basis of their intimacy. 

Kant was eight years old when he entered the 
gymnasium, and sixteen when he left it to enter the 
university. While he saw the defects of the school, he 
also saw its excellences, and he was grateful for the 
advantages which he there enjoyed. He spoke with 


appreciation of the paternal spirit of the institution, 
and of the earnest efforts to form the characters and 
develop the minds of its pupils. The school at least 
prepared him for the university, and thus opened the 
way for him to a learned career. That he was diligent 
and successful in his studies is evident both from his 
associations and his attainments. 

Little else is known of Kant s youth. We have 
reason to regret this tact, for it is always interesting 
to watch the first unfolding of the aspirations and 
powers of one who has moved the world out of its 
usual course, and we are anxious to learn whether 
the great man is really found in the boy. Even the 
biographies of him by intimate friends give very 
unsatisfactory accounts of his early years. Nearly all 
who had known him in his youth had died before 
him ; and the sister who survived him probably remem 
bered nothing that was striking or characteristic. 
Kant himself did not like to speak of his youth, its 
memory evidently having little that was attractive. 
Being the child of a poor mechanic, small, timid, weak 
and even delicate, it is not singular that the busy 
world paid no attention to this boy, who gave no promise 
of his future greatness. It was a sad period of life, 
with but few of the pleasures and scarcely auv of the 
poetry of youth, lie was extremely sensitive ; this is 
confirmed by the story that he was so annoyed 
because a boy said that his name " Cant " should be 
pronounced as if writ ten wit ha " Z," that he after wards 
wrote it Kant. He was predisposed to melancholy; 
and his poverty, his self-denial, and the difficulties 
which beset him, were calculated to deepen his gloom. 
His family was not so situated as to give him any 


social standing, nor had lie powerful friends to en 
courage and help him. Thrown almost wholly on his 
own intellectual resources, his only hope was in 
achievements resulting from severe personal efforts. 
Most persons of mature years find a melancholy 
pleasure in reflecting on the joys, the hopes, the 
inspirations, and the enthusiasm of the spring of life ; 
but when Kant had grown to manhood, and had learned 
to estimate everything from an intellectual standpoint, 
he looked on youth as the period of weakness. Hippel, 
Kant s acquaintance for many years, in speaking of 
the Egyptian bondage in which many children were 
kept, states that Kant had experienced the miseries of 
the slavery of youth in full measure, and that he 
declared that fear and horror seized him when he 
reflected on the bondage of his youth. This is an 
exaggeration, but it is, no doubt, based on remarks of 
Kant. Rink says, " It was not on account of the 
slavery of his youth that Kant depreciated the years 
of childhood, but his reasons were deeper, namely, the 
defective knowledge and judgment of childhood ; for 
this reason he declared him to be a child who had the 
vain wish to return from the age of manhood to that 
of childhood." But the misery of which Hippel speaks 
probably helped to form Kant s view of youth. 

Two stories are related of Kant s boyhood : the one 
an evidence of occasional absent-mindedness ; the 
other, of unusual presence of mind when aroused. 
Forgetfulness of ordinary affairs was characteristic of 
him; and he said that during his whole life absent- 
mindedness had been one of his failings. When he 
first went to school he was frequently punished for 
forgetfulness. Once, when on his way to school, he 


laid down his books to play with other boys, and after 
the play he went to school, never thinking of the 
books till the teacher asked for them. But on another 
occasion his presence of mind probably saved his life. 
When about eight years old, he attempted to walk 
over a log lying across a ditch filled with water. He 
had taken only a few steps when the log commenced 
to roll and he began to get dizzy. As he could 
neither retreat nor stand still, he fixed his eyes on a 
point, on the other side of the ditch, in a line with 
the log, ran towards it without looking down, and thus 




Change in the Government University of Konisberg Matriculated 
as Student of Theology Studies Favourite teacher Reasons 
for not entering the ministry Struggles with poverty Recrea 
tion First book Family tutor Work on Cosmogony. 

JUST before Kant entered the University of Kb nigs- 
berg a change occurred in the Government of 
Prussia, which seriously affected the religion, the 
literature, and the life of the kingdom. When 
Frederick William I. died, on the last day of May, 
1740, his son, Frederick II., commonly called the 
Great, ascended the throne. The predilection of 
Frederick William for military affairs is charac 
teristic of the Hohenzollern family; his passion for 
giants as soldiers was but a whim of that propensity. 
His military exactness and routine had left their im 
press on the people, and the age itself was mechanical. 
For present notions his government was too paternal 
and too personal. Strictly orthodox himself, he ex 
pected his people to have the same faith, and he even 
used constraint to make them devout in his sense; 
and in governing his people, as in training his son, he 


seems to have had no idea of tolerance. The spirit of 
his administration was most powerfully felt in cities 
like Kb nigsberg, where the civil officers, who were 
his instruments rather than his agents, were numerous. 
In every department of life there was a cramped feel 
ing, a lack of room for development, and a want of 
spontaneity. But on the accession of Frederick II. 
to the tin-one, \vlio himself had keenly felt the galling 
tyranny of his father, the change, as is usual in re 
actions, was very marked; in some cases there was a 
bound from one extreme to the other. Not that his 
reign was less personal than that of his father, but its 
spirit was different. For a long time sceptical ten 
dencies had run parallel with Orthodoxy and Pietism ; 
the Government had, however, used its power to sup 
press them. Under the new king there was no longer 
to be any religious restraint ; for, as he said at the 
beginning of his reign, every man was to have the 
liberty to be saved in his own fashion. The era of 
tolerance which he introduced did not merely affect 
religion ; he emphasized the freedom of thought, 
always excepting cases where it conflicted with his 
political supremacy. Persons who had been exiled 
during his father s reign were recalled; and it was one 
of his first acts to invite the philosopher Wolf to 
return to Halle. His French teachers, as well as the 
literary tendency of the age, had created in him a 
preference for the French language and literature; 
his libraries in Potsdam, consisting almost wholly of 
French books, still testify to this preference. He 
corresponded with eminent Frenchmen, invited them 
to his court, and was greatly under their influence, 
being especially intimate with Voltaire. The royal 


favour promoted French frivolity and scepticism, as 
well as the popularity of French literature. 

The new king inaugurated a new era for Prussia, 
and during his long reign the revival of letters began 
in Germany. The literary activity of Lessing, Herder, 
Jacobi, Hamann, Schiller, Goethe, Winckelmann, and 
many other eminent men, belongs wholly or in part to 
this reign, during which the modern literature of 
Germany had its birth. His great achievements for 
the enlargement and the glory of Prussia, and his 
consequent popularity, made his views all the more 
influential ; and under him who was called the Great, 
the King, the Royal Philosopher, the Only One (der 
Einzige), a great change was wrought in the thought 
and life of his kingdom during the forty-six years of 
his vigorous reign. 

The first sixteen years of Kant s life belonged to the 
reign of Frederick William. During the twenty-seven 
years of his sovereignty the people became addicted 
to his mechanical ways; and Kant imbibed this spirit 
of the times during the formative period of his 
character, and his life was characterized by a regularity 
which became mechanical and monotonous. His 
earliest religious impressions were such as this king 
himself had fostered. The whole tenor of the Govern 
ment was changed when Kant entered the university ; 
and it is probable that by the change his religious 
views were also affected. We find that he passed 
from the Pietism by which his youth was influenced, 
to the free-thinking of the age of Frederick the Great ; 
just such a reaction is found in his case as that which 
took place in the Government when the new monarch 
ascended the throne. Kant, however, retained the 


stern morality which characterized the preceding king, 
and tliis saved him from the frivolity which was 
encouraged by royal example under Frederick the 

The University of Konigsberg, which Kant entered 
in the autumn of 1740, and with which he was con 
nected during the greater part of his life, was founded 
in loll-, by Duke Albert. Melanchthon, whom he con 
sulted respecting the teachers, sent his son-in-law, 
Sabinus, who was made rector for life. For the first 
two centuries the history of this institution was not 
brilliant; and at the close of its second century, when 
Kant became a student, it occupied an obscure posi 
tion among the German universities. Neither its 
intellectual life nor its educational advantages were 
such as to give it prominence. ( l7 ) Its strength was in 
its theological faculty, to which at times nearly one 
half of the students belonged, while there were com 
paratively few in the philosophical faculty. The 
students were mainly from the Province of Prussia, 
Courland, Pomerania, Silesia, and the Protestant 
portion of Polish Prussia. Thus its students, as 
well as its location, belonged rather to the border of 
Germany than to its heart. 

If we take a map of Germany and glance at the 
surroundings of Konigsberg, we are at once struck 
with its intellectual isolation ; before the introduction 
of railways, and in the eighteenth century, this was 
much more complete than at present It was a fron 
tier city which had little communication with the heart 
of Germany, being remote from other universities, as 
well as from Berlin, Weimar, and other intellectual 
and literary centres. The literature and science from 


other quarters reached it slowly, if at all ; conse 
quently there was a lack of that inspiration which is 
communicated by contact and rivalry with intellectual 
characters and centres. In 1736 Professor Bock, of 
the University of Kb nigsberg, wrote, "As is well 
known, I live where books and periodicals from other 
places are seen only after long years." As a rule, 
only books specially ordered by purchasers were 
brought to Kb nigsberg by the booksellers, so that it was 
difficult to keep up with the literature of the day. As 
late as 1781, another writer, Baczko, said, with refer 
ence to the Province of Prussia, of which Kb nigsberg 
is the capital : " Prussia is decried in Germany as 
almost a learned Siberia ; and owing to our geat 
distance from Leipzig, the centre of the German book 
trade, it is natural that we should suffer, since all 
literary novelties come late to us, and authorship is 
not favoured by facilities for selling books." Another 
writer speaks of Kant as working out his system " on 
the Pregel, in one of the most completely forgotten 
corners of Europe." This isolation particularly af 
fected the life of the university, and it partly accounts 
for the fact that the first books of Kant were almost 
wholly unnoticed. 

Other facts must also be taken into account in con 
sidering Kant s studies at the university, and his whole 
intellectual career. In the universities of Germany, 
as well as in the gymnasia and the other schools, the 
instruction, both as respects matter and method, was 
far from being satisfactory. The lectures were gene 
rally prosy and lifeless, dealing rather with the forms 
of thought than with thought itself, making nice but 
useless scholastic distinctions, rich in tedious subtleties 


concerning matters of little importance, and burdened 
with a method which made a show of learning with 
out real, living scholarship. A stiff and stilted 
pedantic mannerism still prevailed. The teachers were 
often incompetent, and many of the lectures were 
delivered in Latin which was anything but classic. 
Instead of promoting genuine and thorough scholar 
ship, it seemed rather to be the principal aim of the 
instruction to furnish the student with the means of 
successfully passing the examination required by the 

The German language was greatly neglected, and it 
was depreciated by Germans themselves, when com 
pared with the Latin, French, and English ; indeed, it 
was still a matter of dispute, which of the various 
dialects should be used for a national literature. The 
right to use the German language for scholarly works 
was just beginning to assert itself. When C. F. "Wolf 
published the first philosophical work in German, it 
created surprise ; and in an appendix he explained 
German words by means of the Latin. A vigorous, 
independent literature hardly seemed to be a desidera 
tum in the estimation of writers, so persistently were 
foreign models chosen for imitation. Gottschcd, who 
left Konigsberg for Leipzig in the same year that 
Kant was born, contended for French models, while 
Bod mer and the Swiss preferred the English; and it 
required men of genius like Lessing, Schiller, and 
Goethe, to reveal the power of the German language 
and to prove the possibility of an independent German 
literature. The founder of aesthetics as the science of 
the beautiful, Baumgarten, was indeed living, but his 
system was not published till the middle of the century, 


and then it gave elements rather than a science. The 
literary disputes of the day prove that the whole 
subject of taste and criticism was involved in con 
fusion and uncertainty. Lessing, Winckelmann, Kant, 
and Schiller, introduced light and order. In the natu 
ral sciences, the mechanical views of nature absorbed 
the attention of philosophers, the chief authorities 
being Newton and his school, together with Descartes 
and Leibnitz, and their followers. In metaphysics, the 
dogmatism of the Wolfian school held almost undis 
puted sway. 

The revival of letters was imminent when Kant 
entered the university, but he did not have the benefit 
of it during his studies. Klopstock was born in the 
same year as Kant, but he began his university course 
five years later ; Winckelmann entered the university of 
Halle two years before Kant entered that of Kb nigs- 
berg; Lessing was five years younger than Kant, and 
was still a school-boy when the latter was already a 
student ; Kant had ended his university course several 
years before Goethe s birth, and had been a teacher four 
years when Schiller was born ; Herder, "Wieland, Jacobi, 
and, in fact, the whole galaxy of Germany s brightest 
literary period, belong to a later time than Kant s 
student life. These names, however, indicate the 
character of the period which was about to be inaugu 
rated, a period in which Kant s name was one of the 
most eminent. With all the disadvantages of the 
day, it was a time of fermentation and of grand oppor 
tunities. As an epoch was approaching, it was an age 
when great problems demanded solution, when doubts 
developed the intellect, Avhen sharp conflicts aroused 
thought, and when the confusion itself created oppor- 


tunities for a master-mind. The man who could 
master the different tendencies, and could harmonize 
their conflicting elements, would find the crisis itself 
the occasion for the greatest intellectual results. Only 
when we consider the difficulties, on the one hand, and 
the rare opportunities, on the other, can we com 
prehend the career of Kant. 

The University of Konigsberg suffered more than 
many others from the evils enumerated. At the opening 
of the century the Aristotelian philosophy was still 
taught ; in the second decade a Privat-Docent intro 
duced the Wolfian system. In 1729 Professor Bock 
wrote, " The university is in so miserable a condition 
that it does not seem unlike a trivial school ; philosophy 
is afflicted with a hectic fever, and the other sciences 
are also badly enough cultivated." The affliction of 
philosophy was probably connected with the fact that 
Wolf was expelled from Halle and Prussia in 1723, 
and it was dangerous to teach his system in the uni 
versities of the kingdom. A few years later, however, 
an alliance was formed between Pietism and the Wolfian 
philosophy in Konigsberg, mainly through the influence 
of Dr. Schulz, after which this philosophy prevailed in 
the university. 

For the study of mathematics no superior advan 
tages were afforded. Professor Kraus, who taught 
mathematics in the university many years later, de 
clared that Konigsberg had always had men who under 
stood mathematics, and still has ; but that as long as 
the sun had shone on the city, it had not been able 
to boast of a good mathematician. Nor did chemistry, 
natural history, technology, or political science, fare 
any better. The division of labour was far less com- 


plete than at present, and the exclusive devotion of a 
teacher to a speciality, and the consequent great pro 
ficiency in it, were exceptions. Even theology and 
mathematics were taught by the same man, Langhausen 
being professor extraordinary of theology and professor 
in ordinary of mathematics. ( 18 ) J. G. Bock was at the 
same time professor of speculative philosophy and of 
poetry, an evidence that speculative philosophy was 
not made very prominent. It was, however, charac 
teristic of the age to apply philosophy to everything , 
and two professors were appointed to teach practical 
or applied philosophy. Most of the professors in the 
philosophical faculty were unknown in science and 
letters, and not one of them was celebrated. There 
were among them men of respectable scholarship ; 
but in general the teaching had become lifeless, 
and was little calculated to arouse and inspire the 
intellect. ( 1!) ) 

Kant s preference for the Latin language and litera 
ture might have continued at the university if he had 
there found a good instructor in Latin. The revival 
of interest in the classics, which had begun in Leipzig 
and Gottingen, did not yet affect the University of 
Kb nigsberg. Probably Ruhnken went to Wittenberg, 
after graduating at the Fridericianum, because Konigs- 
berg offered few attractions in his favourite depart 
ments, especially in philology. Kant, who was greatly 
influenced in his intellectual preferences by the ability 
of his instructors, now made specialities of other 
subjects, in none of which the gymnasium had offered 
any advantages. 

He was matriculated as a student of theology, though 
it is doubtful whether even then he had any inclination 


for that study. His mind and his preferences were 
too little developed, and he knew his own powers too 
little, to determine finally his intellectual course. At 
that time parents generally decided the calling of their 
children, even without consulting them. He had been 
sent to the gymnasium to prepare for the ministry ; 
and it is probable that the memory of his mother, and 
the influence of his father and of Dr. Schulz, deter 
mined his matriculation in the university as a theological 
student. This did not interfere with the hearing of 
lectures in other departments, nor did it oblige him to 
make a speciality of theology ; and whenever he desired 
it, lie could be transferred to another faculty. Indeed, 
theological students were expected to take a course in 
philosophy first, in order that they might be the better 
prepared for theology. 

Professor Teske, who was a good scholar, had the 
department of physics. Kant attended his lectures, 
and was more indebted to him than to any other 
professor in ordinary. But Martin Knutzen, professor 
extraordinary, more than any one else, moulded his 
intellect and determined his preferences and his future 
career. Born in 171^, he was appointed professor 
extraordinary at the age of twenty-one, was twenty- 
seven years old when Kant entered the university, and 
was never promoted to a professorship in ordinary. ( 20 ) 
His lectures extended over many subjects of philosophy 
and physics, including logic, metaphysics, rational 
psychology, natural philosophy, morals, natural law, 
rhetoric, mnemonics, and mathematics. Kant not only 
attended his lectures, but also took part in the meet 
ings which he held for disputations and for the 
examination of students on the subjects of his lee- 


turcs. Knutzen was a disciple of the Leibnitz- Wolfian 
philosophy, and in religion was a Pietist ; his attain 
ments were unusual, his reading was varied and 
extensive ; and as his gifts as a teacher were extra 
ordinary, he was deservedly popular with the students. 
Besides being a laborious student, he lectured four or 
even five times a day, and overwork is supposed to 
have been the cause of his death, in 1751, when only 
thirty-seven years old. His activity was not confined 
to the university, but he extended his reputation by 
means of writings on philosophical, theological, 
physical, and mathematical topics. ( 21 ) 

Professor Knutzen s lectures embraced the subjects 
which Kant pursued with most pleasure while a 
student in the university; and after he finished his 
course, mathematics, physics, metaphysics, and morals 
were his specialities. Kant, however, did not at this 
time make the study of metaphysics prominent. Now 
and for years afterwards he devoted himself chiefly to 
mathematics and physics. The influence of his mathe 
matical studies is apparent in his great works, being 
evident from his frequent references to mathematics, 
and from his demand for exact definitions and for 
demonstrations which have mathematical certainty ; 
and his entire philosophy reveals the mathematical 

The personal intercourse of a professor may be 
more influential than his learned lectures, in giving the 
student intellectual inspiration, and in developing his 
mental tastes and his moral character. The young 
teacher who can enter with warmth into sympathy 
with an eager student, may have a decided advantage 
over the aged professor. Kant entered into closer 


personal relations with Knutzen tlian with his other 
teachers. Besides hearing his lectures and taking part 
in his reviews and discussions, he also consulted him 
about his studies, and conversed with him on learned 
subjects. The teacher, pleased witli his abilities and 
thirst for knowledge, placed his library at Kant s 
disposal, and gave him directions in his reading; and 
it was in this way that the eager student became 
acquainted with the works of eminent scholars, 
including those of Newton. But this favourite teacher 
did more than influence his students to become 
learned ; he aimed to make them originators of 
thought, not mere imitators ; and thinkers, instead of 
mere learners. 

There was a striking resemblance between this 
teacher and his aspiring and susceptible pupil; and 
much that has been said of Knutzen might also be 
said of Kant. Their intellectual specialities were the 
same till the end of life; but in religion they differed, 
since Kant did not adopt his teacher s Pietistic views. 
They were both laborious students; both were learned 
and were polymathists ; both were thinkers, and both 
aimed to make their students thinkers. While Kant, 
at the age when Knut/en died, had probably displayed 
more originality than his teacher, it is doubtful 
whether on the whole he had revealed more mental 
breadth or greater intellectual vigour. The pupil, 
however, attained a lasting and world-wide fame, while 
the teacher was forgotten. 

In the university, Professors Knut/en and Teske 
took the place of Heydenreich in the gymnasium; and 
mathematics and physics took the place of the classics. 
A writer, speaking of Kant, says, "His teachers in 


mathematics and physics, Professors Knutzen and 
Teske, were among the clearest and most learned men 
in Kb nigsberg. Kant not only heard all their lectures 
most attentively, but he also took pains to obtain 
explanations of difficult points by means of private 
conversations with both, and to procure books from 
them for the independent study of these branches. 
During his academic course he still kept philosophy 
proper in the background ; and Kant s university 
friend, Kypke, afterw r ards his colleague as Professor of 
Oriental Literature, remarked that at that time he 
showed little inclination for metaphysical studies." (") 
Kant no doubt attended many lectures of which no 
mention is made ; but we know that he heard those of 
Professor Schulz on dogmatics, though he did not take 
a full course in theology. It was his aim to include 
all the sciences in his investigations, and he regarded 
some knowledge of theology necessary for a complete 
education, even if the ministry was not chosen as a 
profession. Heilsberg, who was his fellow-student at 
the university, states that this breadth of culture was 
Kant s object. " For this purpose, Wlomer, Kant, 
and I, decided to attend the public lectures of Dr. 
Schulz during the next half year. We did not miss an 
hour, diligently wrote the dictations, reviewed the 
lectures at home, and in the examinations which the 
worthy man frequently held with his numerous hearers, 
our answers were so satisfactory that at the close of 
the course he requested us to remain. He asked for 
our names, inquired about our knowledge of languages, 
and desired to know what professors we were hearing, 
and what was the aim of our studies. Kant answered 
that he intended to devote himself to medicine; 


Wlomer, that lie had chosen the law ; I was unde 
cided." The professor then asked why they heard 
theological lectures ? Kant replied, because they had 
a desire to loarn. Dr. Scliulz informed them that if 
they concluded to enter the ministry, they should come 
to him with confidence, and they should have the choice 
of places in the country and cities, adding, " This I 
promise you ; and if I live, I will keep my word. 
Here is my hand ; go in peace." ( 23 ) 

From this it is evident that Kant had not yet found 
the sphere of his future activities. He may have had 
serious intentions of studying medicine. Later in life 
he manifested a preference for medical works, and his 
first book was dedicated to Bohlius, a medical pro 
fessor. In the undecided state of his mind he may 
sometimes have inclined to one profession and then to 

But why did Kant fail to comply with the desire 
of his parents to enter the ministry ? His lack of 
sympathy with the prevalent religion was no doubt 
one of his strongest reasons. His inquiring mind 
could hardly escape agitation through religious doubts, 
which Schulz s lectures, highly as Kant appreciated 
them, were not calculated to remove. They contained 
a strange mixture of Pietism and mathematical demon 
strations of Christian dogmas, such as might have 
been expected from the man of whom Wolf said that 
if any one understood him, it was Schulz of Konigsberg. 
Hippel, who was one of Dr. Schuly/s students, gives a 
hint of his method in teaching theology : " This 
remarkable man taught me to look at theology from a 
new point of view; for he introduced so much philo 
sophy into it that one would have thought that Christ 


and His apostles had all received instruction from Wolf 
in Halle." 

It was an age of theological agitation, of religious 
inquiry and doubt ; and the unsettling of faith had a 
strong influence 011 the young men in the universities. 
It is a significant fact that Winckelmann, Lessing, 
Rulmken, and Kant, were all sent by their parents to 
the university to study for the ministry, and that not 
one of them entered that profession. There was much 
in the university during Kant s student-life which was 
calculated to alienate him from religion. The quarrels 
of the religious factions produced distractions, and 
made an unfavourable impression on the students. 
The theological faculty was the most powerful, and 
exercised an authority which some of the other pro 
fessors regarded as oppressive. Dr. Schulz, who 
became the most influential man in Konigsberg soon 
after his arrival in the city, was the leading spirit in 
the theological department, aud had warm adherents 
in the other faculties ; but he also met with decided 
opposition, and his supremacy was disputed by those 
who rejected his religious views. When Frederick II. 
began his reign, the royal favour bestowed on Dr. 
Schulz by his predecessor was withdrawn, and the 
king, displeased with his Pietistic zeal, deprived him 
of some of his offices, and greatly curtailed his power ; 
and he was also energetically opposed by a strong 
party in the churches of Konigsberg. This change in 
his influence occurred about the time when Kant 
entered the university. The hot disputes in the 
churches embittered the feelings of the different 
parties, and also affected both the professors and the 
students. Professor Fisher had been banished from 


Konigsberg in 1725, because he ventured to advocate 
Wolf s philosophy, and to defend some of the very 
tenets for which, on pain of death, that philosopher 
had been banished from Halle. He had also spoken 
in uncomplimentary terms of the Pietism in Konigs- 
berg. A royal decree banished him from the city 
within twenty-four hours, and from the province 
within forty-eight. As the new king had restored 
AVolf to Halle, so he permitted Fisher to return to 
Konigsberg. In 1743 he published a book on 
" Nature," in which he advocated deistic and pan 
theistic views. The Pietists, including Dr. Schulz, 
.secured the prohibition of the book; the author was 
severely attacked, and was not permitted to partake of 
the communion. The sensation thus produced could 
not fail to affect the students, so easily aroused to 
indignation even by the semblance of intolerance. It 
is not difficult to imagine its influence on Kant, 
absorbed in the study of mathematics and physics ; and 
these early experiences no doubt had much to do with 
his later hatred of all forms of oppression, and particu 
larly of religious intolerance. If aversion to Pietism 
already began in the gymnasium, it could only be 
increased by the contentions which occurred during 
his studies in the university. Taking into account 
these facts, together with his intellectual preferences, 
we need look no farther to discover his reasons for not 
entering the ministry. ( 2 *) 

Kant s quiet, uneventful lite was marked by a regular 
and steady development of his powers, without abrupt 
inner or outer changes. Hungry for knowledge, and 
absorbed in its acquisition, he pursued the even tenor 
of his way, apparently little affected by distracting or 



disturbing influences. The conflicts of his life were 
mostly inner and hidden from the world. Even the 
processes of his mind in producing his great meta 
physical speculations are very imperfectly known ; with 
the exception of his works, we have hints about them 
only in his letters. We know nothing of his mental 
conflicts and religious struggles in youth ; but he could 
not pass through the Pietistic influences without 
mental agitation, and it no doubt required much earnest 
thought to determine his vocation. It was not in his 
nature to break easily with the religious associations 
of his early life, and it must have cost him a severe 
struggle to resolve not to comply with the ardent- 
desires of his parents and helpful pastor. 

Kant was obliged to contend with poverty while at 
the university, and he found the road to learning beset 
with difficulties. He, however, mastered the lectures, 
especially those of Knutzen and Teske, so successfully 
that he could aid other students in reviewing them. 
Sometimes he rendered this assistance as a matter of 
friendship ; but his necessities also compelled him to 
give instruction for which he received compensation, 
the students paying him what they pleased. He occu 
pied a room, for some time, with Wlomer, an intimate 
friend, probably receiving his lodging gratis. Heils- 
berg says, " Kallenberg, now councillor of war, gave 
him free lodging and considerable support when 
Wlomer went to Berlin. From the deceased Dr. 
Trummer, whom he also instructed, he received much 
help, but more from his relative, the manufacturer 
Richter, who paid the expenses of his promotion to the 
degree of magister." Kant lived very economically, an 
art which he was obliged to learn early and to practise 

1 OVKHTV. 51 

long. Although he did not absolutely suffer from want, 
Heilsberg informs us that when an article of Kant s 
clothing was sent away to be mended and he was 
obliged to leave the house, "one of the students would 
remain at homo while Kant sallied forth with the coat, 
pantaloons, or boots borrowed from him. If a gar 
ment was entirely worn out, the party " (those to whom 
K;mt gave lessons, and perhaps other friends) " made 
contributions, of which no account was kept, and which 
were never refunded." 

There may be more than a compensation for poverty 
in the very discipline it gives a man while mastering the 
difficulties he encounters; and it may prove a blessing 
to many a mind by leaving open but one way to emi 
nence- that of intellectual supremacy, though that 
mav lie through deserts, or over mountains almost 
impassable. There are victories whose greatest bless 
ing is in the battle. Kant s necessities proved to be 
blessings in disguise 4 . In pursuing his purpose reso- 
lutclv, he learned self-denial, mastered circumstances, 
and developed remarkable will-power ; and his poverty 
obliged him early to cultivate the gift of communi 
cating instruction. He was only a student when he 
became a teacher. 

I le shared but few of the common joys of life. Mow- 
ever much a hostile fortune was to blame for this, his 
tastes seem to have been too predominantly intellectual 
to seek the ordinary pleasures of youth. His friend lleils- 
berg says, "Kant \vas fond of no pleasures, and still 
less was he inclined towards any species of fanaticism ; 
and he imperceptibly accustomed those who heard him 
to similar views. His only recreation consisted in play 
ing billiards, a game in which Wlomer and 1 were 

K 2 


his constant companions. We had developed our skill 
almost to the utmost, and rarely returned home without 
some gain. I paid my French teacher altogether from 
this income. As a consequence, persons refused to 
play with us, and we abandoned this way of making 
money, and chose Thombre, which Kant played well." 
Study was the main source of his enjoyments, and when 
afterwards he advised young men to cultivate a love 
for work, and to deny themselves pleasures so that they 
might the longer retain the power of enjoyment, he 
gave them a rule which he himself had adopted. 

Kant probably ended his university course in 1744, 
at the age of twenty. In this year he began the pre 
paration of his first book. In harmony with his pre 
ferences and principal studies at the university, the 
book is mathematical, treating of the kinetic forces. ( 25 ) 
The title-page bears the date 1746; but the dedi 
cation was written on his birthday, April 22, 1747, 
and in the book itself there is a reference to a work 
which appeared in the spring of 1747, so that the 
publication may have been delayed till the autumn of 
that year or still later. As he was too poor to pay 
for the printing, he was aided by his uncle Richter. 
The book has only historic interest, which consists in 
the fact that it gives us a knowledge of the mind and 
views of young Kant; but in this respect it is in 
valuable. It is characteristic that at the age of twenty 
lie chose a subject so abstract and necessarily involving 
much dry discussion. The book throws light on his 
university course, showing what studies chiefly occu 
pied his attention, and it also reveals the tendency to 
abstract reasoning which is so marked in his meta 
physical works. 


The standpoint of the book is essentially that of his 
teacher, Knntzen. ( 2G ) In the Wolfian philosophy, of 
which the teacher was a disciple, a pure mechanism 
prevailed, and a dogmatism that was defended by 
mathematical demonstrations, which it applied to every 
subject. Both in the natural sciences and in meta 
physics this method promoted a lifeless formalism. 
Kant is not wholly satisfied with this method, and he 
subjects it to criticism ; but he does not transcend it, 
and has no other to put in its place. The author is 
bold and self-confident, and yet modest ; he is critical, 
and at the same time positive ; and he reveals a fear 
less, energetic mind and a resolute will. " If I venture 
to reject the thoughts of Leibnitz, Wolf, Herrmann, 
Bernoulli, Buelfinger, and others, and to give my own 
the preference, I would not like to have worse judges 
than these men ; for I know that if their judgment 
rejected my opinions, it would not condemn my aim/ 
There is much in the book which in a youth just out of 
his teens may savour of impertinence, and of this 
Kant is aware. " My freedom in contradicting emi 
nent men will produce unfavourable results for me. 
The world is much inclined to believe that he who is 
better informed on some points than a great scholar, 
imagines himself superior to him. I venture to say that 
this is a mistake." Connected with this freedom, which 
characterizes the independent thinker, there is also 
respect for great men and their opinions; but it is not 
a reverence which makes their authority final. We 
have here a mind striving to emancipate itself from 
the bondage of authority while respecting those who 
imposed it ; hence there is a mingling of the. defiant 
tone with modesty, and the wrestling of a critical 


spirit with the system in which it is entangled. He 
is convinced that the time is past when the opinions 
of great men can be regarded as settling disputed 
questions. " One can now boldly hold as nothing the 
authority of the Newtons and Leibnitzes if it conflicts 
with the discovery of the truth, and can fearlessly 
resolve to yield to no persuasion but that of the under 
standing." And in a characteristic passage he says, 
" In the pursuit of this discussion I shall not hesitate 
to reject freely the proposition of any man, however 
celebrated he may be, if to my understanding it appears 
to be false." As he is well aAvare that a pigmy in learn 
ing may in some department surpass a scholar who 
excels him in every other, he of course does not claim 
to be superior to the eminent men whom he criticizes. 
He admits that there is presumption in the decla 
ration, " The truth for which the greatest masters of 
human knowledge have striven in vain, first of all 
presented itself to my mind ; " but he significantly 
adds, " I do not venture to justify this thought ; but, 
on the other hand, I would not like to disclaim it." He 
thinks it important that a man should have a noble 
confidence in his powers, since it inspires the mind 
and gives it a degree of exaltation which is advan 
tageous in the investigation of the truth. 

The author is convinced that by means of this book 
he has done science considerable service, and thinks 
that his views will help to settle one of the greatest 
controversies at that time dividing the geometers of 
Europe; and he ventures to predict that the contro 
versy will either be settled soon, or that it will never 
end. But aside from its spirit there is nothing espe 
cially striking in the book, and there are no new 


theories which claim attention. It received little 
notice when it appeared, created no reputation for its 
author, and is not now prized by mathematicians. 
Greatly as he was indebted to his teachers Knut/en 
and Teske, the work must have cost him much re 
search and earnest thought, and it proves that at the 
university he laid a solid foundation for his eminent 
career. We look in vain for the profundity and the 
peculiar views of the " Kritik," which appeared thirty- 
four years later; but the independent and critical 
spirit of his first book is the germ from which the 
" Kritik " could grow. 

There can scarcely be a doubt that at this time 
Kant had already chosen the sphere of his activity, 
and that he was intent on fitting himself for it. With 
a resoluteness peculiar to him, he says in this book, 
" I have marked out for myself the course which I 
have determined to take. I shall begin my career, and 
nothing shall keep me from continuing it." Tie chose 
the learned career of a teacher in the university, though 
years of toil were still necessary before he could enter 
that sphere. 

His father died in 17-MJ, and in the same year he 
became a family tutor. ]t may be that his father s 
death threw him more completely on his own resources, 
and made it necessary for him to support himself. In 
order to become a teacher in the university, he was 
obliged to take a degree and to habilitate, and this 
required money; he may also have found it advisable 
to prepare himself more thoroughly for the degree 
and for the delivery of lectures. It was common for 
young men after completing their course, whether 
they were candidates for the ministry, or aimed at the 


position of a teacher in the university, to become 
family tutors ; frequently this was the only available 
means of support. The position was far from being 
an enviable one. The pay of such a tutor was 
small, and frequently he was regarded as scarcely 
more than a servant, received but little respect from 
the children, and was expected to attend to other 
matters besides teaching. ( 27 ) Kant, however, seems to 
have been unusually favoured while family tutor ; still, 
the nine years which he spent in this position could 
not have been otherwise than irksome. He had no 
taste for teaching the mere rudiments of knowledge, 
and his own confession indicates that the occupation 
was not congenial. Speaking humorously of the 
matter, he declared that there probably never was a 
worse tutor, and said that he had never been able to 
acquire the art of adapting himself to the capacities 
and views of children. 

Kant was at first tutor in the family of a Reformed 
preacher near Konigsberg ; then in the family of Yon 
Hiillesen, at Arnsdorf, about sixty miles south-west 
of Konigsberg. This was the limit of his travels. 
He visited Pillau, about thirty miles distant, and 
other places in the vicinity; but Arnsdorf is the 
greatest distance he ever journeyed from his native 
city. His friendly relations with the family of Von 
Hiillesen were continued after he ceased to be tutor, 
and his work there cannot have been a failure. The 
letters of his pupils proved their warm regard for their 
teacher, and after he left the house he was invited to 
participate in the most interesting festivities of the 
family. One of the young men was afterwards placed 
in his charge at Konigsberg while pursuing his 


studies at the university. His pupils in this family 
were among the first in Prussia to free their peasants 
from the subjection in which they were at that time 
held ; and for this act the king conferred on them the 
title of count. 

The third and last family in which he lived as tutor 
was that of Count Kayserling, whose residence was 
near Konigsberg, and who lived much of the time in 
the city. This position was of great advantage to 
him, and had much influence on his social relations. 
The count, who had studied at Leipzig, Halle, and in 
other universities, was a man of admirable qualities of 
mind and heart, and had gained a reputation in diplo 
matic service in various countries. The countess 
was a woman of unusual talent, with superior culture 
and attractive manners. She aided her husband in 
literary work, and also translated a Compend of Philo 
sophy into French. Her rare talent in painting pro 
cured for her the distinction of an election to honorary 
membership in the Berlin Academy of the Arts and 
Mechanical Sciences. In one of his books Kant calls 
her " the ornament of her sex." It was in this 
family that he became acquainted with the rules of 
refined society. Here he met many persons of 
rank and distinction ; and owing to his superior 
mental powers and his scholarship, he soon became a 
favourite guest in the most cultivated families of 
Konigsberg. At table, French, Italian, and English 
literature, as well as political affairs, were discussed ; 
this stimulated him to master these subjects thoroughly, 
and gave him an opportunity to use his excellent con 
versational powers. His experience in this family was 
of great value; here he gained an ease, culture, and 


polish, which could hardly have been expected in a 
man with his early associations and his. studious 

If we judge Kant s tutorship, not by his estimate, 
but by the esteem in which he was held by the two 
noble families in which he lived, we must conclude 
that it was eminently successful. It cost him an 
effort to adapt himself to those under his charge ; but 
this had its value in preparing him for his future 
career. " This long residence in strange families, the 
various social relations he entered, and to which he 
soon adapted himself admirably ; the necessary victory 
over his bashfulness ; the fact that he was thrown on 
his own intellectual resources ; the many demands 
made on him by his duties as tutor, and the conscien 
tiousness with which he strove to perform them ; all 
this was calculated to exert an extraordinary influence 
on his life, especially in developing the marvellous 
versatility of his mind." ( 28 ) The union of scholarship 
and refinement in Kant is noticed by the same writer : 
" We now recognize in him the thorough scholar and 
the cultivated man of the world, without any inter 
ference of the qualities of the one with those of the 

These nine years of tutorship also afforded him 
opportunities for the pursuit of his favourite subjects. 
His first book, which appeared soon after he became 
family tutor, was probably finished while occupying 
this position. The time which was his own he 
devoted chiefly to mathematics and physics, astronomy 
perhaps receiving most attention. In 1754 he pub 
lished a brief discussion of the question, " Has the 
Earth been subject to any Change in its Revolution 


on its Axis? " In the same year lie briefly considered 
the question, " Is the Earth growing Old r " But 
the work to which he devoted most of his energies, 
and which is the most important of all his earlier 
publications, is the astronomo-geological book which 
appeared in 1 755, with the title, "General Natural 
History and Theory of the Heavens ; or an Essay on 
the Constitution and Mechanical Origin of the Whole 
Universe, discussed according to Newtonian Prin 
ciples." o 

The great astronomers had given the laws of the 
motions of the heavenly bodies ; Kant goes farther back 
and attempts to account for the very origin of these 
bodies, and his book is really a cosmogony of the uni 
verse. Supposing matter to have been originally in a 
state of chaos, he proceeds to give a purely mechanical 
explanation of the formation of the celestial bodies 
according to Newton s laws of attraction and repulsion. 
He regards matter, created by God, as originally 
hovering in a nebulous state. First the sun is formed 
by the attraction of particles of matter ; then the chaotic 
matter which still hovers around the sun is formed into 
the planets and their moons. Kant was the first to 
propose this theory of the origin of the universe, but a 
few years later, Lambert, without knowing anything 
of Kant s book, advocated the same theory in Ins 
" Cosmological Letters;" and later still, Laplace, in 
his " Exposition du Systeme du Monde," proposed and 
more firmly established the same theory, without 
knowing anything of the books of his predecessors. 
In Germany it is still called the Kant-Laplace theory. 

While Kant adopts the great laws discovered by 
Newton, and applies them in explaining the construction 


of the universe, lie criticizes and transcends some of 
the principles of the great English philosopher. 
Newton accounts for the order in the world by the 
direct interposition of God ; but Kant thinks that it 
can be accounted for by the laws of matter. These 
laws were placed there by God, but they work without 
the necessity of divine interposition. God is still 
regarded as the author of all things ; His activity is, 
however, put farther back. Law, not chance, rules 
the universe, and this makes it so harmonious in its 
organization and movement ; and God has so consti 
tuted this law that it works without His interposition. 
This hypothesis of the origin of the world is not 
the only significant feature of the book. Near the 
beginning he expresses the conviction that there may 
be planets beyond Saturn, and also a planet between 
Mars and Jupiter. When, twenty-six years later, 
Herschel discovered Uranus, Kant rejoiced at the 
confirmation of his prophetic view. It is, however, 
strange that Kant s suspicion that there are planets 
beyond Saturn, which is often praised as revealing a 
deep insight into the planetary system, rests on an 
hypothesis which was proved false by the discovery of 
those planets. It is Kant s theory that the eccentricity 
of the orbits of the planets increases with their distance 
from the sun, the exception to this rule in the case of 
Mercury and Mars being regarded by him as due to 
disturbinginfluences; consequently, the further a planet 
is removed from the centre of the system, the more 
will its orbit resemble that of a comet. He therefore 
regards it probable that there are planets beyond 
Saturn whose orbits are still more eccentric than that 
of Saturn, and, consequently, still more closely related 


to those of comets, so that, by a regular gradation, 
the planets at last become comets. When, however, 
Uranus and Neptune were discovered, it was found 
that their orbits were less eccentric than that of Saturn. 

\Vhile the book discusses the mechanical forces, 
Kant does not regard them as capable of explaining 
organisms ; they are, however, much better understood 
than the organic powers. He thinks that, in a certain 
sense, it may be said without presumption, " Give me 
matter, and I will construct a world ! That is, give 
me matter, and I will show you how a world may 
originate therefrom; for if the matter exists, it is not 
difficult to discover the causes which have co-operated 
in the formation of the world." Hut insuperable diffi 
culties appear when we begin to deal with organisms. 
" Can we boast of the same ability with respect to the 
least plant or insect ? Can we say, Give me matter, 
and I will show you how a caterpillar can be produced?" 

Among other things, the book also discusses the 
density of the different planets, the origin of the 
comets, the revolutions of the planets on their axes, the 
origin of Saturn s rings, the zodiacal light, and the 
history of the sun. Kant thinks it very probable that 
most of the planets are inhabited; and he holds that 
in proportion as a planet is distant from the sun, its 
inhabitants, animals, and plants, will be formed of 
lighter material, and their form and structure will be 
more perfect. He ascribes vice, error, and the inert 
ness of thought to the coarseness of the material from 
which the body is formed ; man must therefore be 
more perfect if the material of his physical nature is 
finer. He consequently reasons that in proportion as 
human beings are removed from the sun, their bodies 


will be fine, and the power of thought, the quickness 
of the intellect, the clearness and vividness of their 
impressions from external objects, their skill in 
executing their purposes, and the whole range of their 
endowments, will be perfect. This seems to him so 
probable that lie regards it as almost certain. The 
highest intelligences would therefore be found on 
Jupiter and Saturn, and the lowest on Venus and 
Mercury ; on the former, a Newton would be regarded 
as an ape, and on the latter, a Greenlander or a 
Hottentot w^ould be esteemed a Newton. In speaking 
of the blessings of the most fortunate inhabitants, he 
gives a loose rein to his speculations, and this part of 
the work abounds in what may be called illustrations 
of a speculative imagination. 

The style of the book is easy, and between the 
arguments beautiful passages are interspersed. Those 
who are familiar only with his dry speculations are not 
prepared for the perspicuity and beauty of style in his 
earlier works. He calls worlds and systems " mere 
sun-dust," as compared with the whole of creation ; 
and among others this poetic passage occurs, " A view 
of the starry heavens on a brilliant night inspires noble 
souls with ecstatic delight. Amid the universal still 
ness of nature and the peace of the spirit, the mysterious 
activity of the soul utters an indescribable language, 
which thrills, but which human tongue cannot 

Kant had consecrated his life to thought, and the 
time spent by so many in idleness or dissipation was 
devoted by him to severe mental toil. The following 
words were evidently written from the fulness of his 
heart : " The discernment of the understanding, when 


it possesses the proper degree of completeness ami 
clearness, has far more lively charms than sensuous 
allurements have, and is able to conquer these com 
pletely and trample them under foot." 

In judging of the merits of the book, it should be 
remembered that its author was only thirty-one when 
it was published, and that he had never been connected 
with a university except as a student. It was chiefly 
the product of his diligent study as family tutor. The 
work was dedicated to Frederick II. , who, however, 
probably never saw a copy of it. The publisher 
failed while the book was in the press, his entire stock 
was seized by the court for the creditors, and in this 
way the circulation of the book was hindered. When 
Lambert published his " Cosmological Letters" they 
excited much attention, while Kant s book was 
scarcely known. 




Habilitation Privat-Docent Subjects and character of his lectures 
Aim in teaching Popularity Testimony of Herder Dis 
traction First salary Contest for a prize Promotion to a 
professorship Efforts to induce him to leave Konigsberg 
Condition of the University Dean and Rector. 

MOST of the instructors in German universities are 
included under the classification of tutors, professors 
extraordinary, and professors in ordinary. ( 30 ) A tutor 
may become a professor in ordinary without passing 
through the intermediate grade of professor extra 
ordinary ; but it is unusual to appoint any one a 
professor who has not been a tutor. Kant desired to 
become a tutor in the philosophical faculty, and for 
this purpose it was necessary for him to present to the 
dean of that faculty two Latin dissertations. These 
he was obliged to defend before the dean and profes 
sors against any one who might see fit to attack them. 
Persons were also appointed to dispute with the 
author, the whole proceeding being conducted in Latin. 
Kant s first dissertation was presented for the purpose 
of taking the degree of magister. It was a treatise 
on " Fire," ( 31 ) and was defended before the faculty on 
the 12th of July, 1755. Teske, his fdVmer teacher, 


was much pleased with it, and declared that it had 
been instructive to him. To secure the privilege of 
lecturing in the university, he presented and defended 
another dissertation, on the 27th of September, en 
titled, " A new Explanation of the First Principles of 
Metaphysical Knowledge ;" ( 32 ) which was the first 
metaphysical discussion from his pen. According to 
a royal decree of 1749, no person was to bo proposed 
for the position of professor extraordinary who had 
not presented and defended three Latin dissertations. 
To prepare the way for a professorship, Kant accord 
ingly prepared a third treatise, " On the Advantages 
to Natural Philosophy of a Metaphysic connected with 
Geometry," ( ;i3 ) which he defended in April, 175G. 

Ft is worthy of note that in these dissertations there 
is a discussion of mathematical, physical, and meta 
physical principles, and that they belong to the 
departments of which he made a speciality while a 
student and also afterwards. But it is evident that at 
tliis time his strength still lay in mathematics and 
physics. His books and treatises show that he was 
thoroughly prepared for his new sphere. He had 
mastered the results of the researches of Newton, 
Leibnitz, Hales, Boerhave, and others; and the com 
prehensiveness of his knowledge is as surprising as 
his penetration, his bold speculation, and his ability 
to systematize the results of his investigations. He, 
however, never made experiments in physics. 

Any one who has a good character and the requisite 
scholarship, can become a tutor in a German university 
by complying with the conditions of habilitation ; but 
after the laborious preparation necessary, and after 
passing through this severe ordeal, he has nothing 


but the privilege of delivering lectures. He is thrown 
entirely on his own resources, and on the assistance 
of friends ; from the university he receives no remunera 
tion. Only a professor in ordinary is eligible to the 
position of rector, dean, or member- of the academic 
senate ; in the management of the university the tutor 
is not consulted. For his income he depends on the 
fees of the students who hear his private lectures, the 
public ones always being free ; and necessity may 
compel him to give private lessons, or to resort to other 
means for a livelihood. No student is obliged to hear 
his lectures ; and while the exalted position of a pro 
fessor is likely to attract students, that of a tutor is 
too humble to be attractive. He is, in fact, simply a 
private teacher, with the privilege of lecturing if lie 
can get an audience. Until the year when Kant 
became professor, neither his name nor that of any 
other tutor appeared in the catalogue, so that even the 
subjects on which he lectured were not published by 
the authority of the institution. But the first year 
of Kant s professorship was also the first in which 
the catalogue contained the names of the tutors, and 
the subjects of their lectures, thus giving them public 
and official recognition. ( 3 *) 

Among the uncertainties of a tutorship is the pro 
motion to a professorship. It may be a long time 
before a vacancy occurs ; in case of a vacancy, other 
tutors may be preferred to him, or may have stronger 
claims because they have waited longer ; and thus 
years and life itself may be spent, without attaining 
the coveted goal. The history of German universities 
furnishes examples of fine scholars who have worn 
out their lives in toil, with but dim hopes of promo- 


tion. But the difficulties connected with the position 
are a spur to effort and they arouse the mind to 
the utmost exertion ; and it is not surprising that 
among those who overcome these obstacles, so many 
stand in the front rank of deep and broad scholarship. 
It would be difficult to create a sphere more desirable 
or more advantageous for the intellectual man than the 
position of a teacher in a German university; and well 
is his course called pre-eminently " the learned career." 

The vocation which Kant chose was the one to 
which he was best adapted by his tastes, his habits, 
and his scholarship ; but on account of his poverty 
his position was peculiarly trying. Considerable 
expense was connected with his promotion, such as 
the payment of fees, and the printing of the disserta 
tions; in meeting this he was aided by his uncle 
Kichter. The ordinary difficulties of the position were 
increased soon after he became tutor, by the Seven 
Years War, by .means of which Konigsberg, being 
near the Russian border, suffered greatly. 

Kant s books were no doubt known at the university. 
He had aroused expectation, and when his treatises 
were presented, he was honoured by unusually large 
audiences. In the autumn of 1755 he began his first 
course of lectures, delivering them in a large hall in the 
house where he lodged. Borowski, who was present at 
the first lecture, says that this hall, " together with the 
vestibule and steps, was filled with an unusual number 
of students. This seemed to embarrass Kant exceed 
ingly. Bring unaccustomed to the affair, he almost 
lost his composure, spoke less audibly than usual, and 
frequently repeated himself, lint this only served to 
increase our admiration for the man who, in our 

v 2 


opinion, had the most extensive knowledge, and who 
impressed us as not fearful, but only very modest. In 
the next hour everything was different. Then and 
afterwards his lectures were not only thorough, but 
also easy and agreeable." The same writer informs 
us that there was so exalted an opinion of his attain 
ments, that he was thought capable of teaching any 
thing belonging to the philosophical faculty. For his 
first courses of lectures he, however, chose subjects 
to which he had thus far specially devoted himself. 
During that winter he lectured on mathematics 
and physics. At that time compends were generally 
used as the basis of the lectures ; and he chose a 
compend by Wolf for his lectures on mathematics, 
and one by Eberhard for those on physics. 

To the two courses of the first winter he soon added 
lectures on logic and metaphysics, using for the former 
a compend of Meyer, for the latter that of Baumeister 
and afterwards that of Baumgarten. Soon he lectured 
regularly three or four times a day. He was not con 
tent with giving theoretical knowledge, but wanted 
also to give it a practical application ; accordingly, he 
prepared lectures on fortification, applying to this 
subject his knowledge of mathematics. From the 
very beginning of his connexion with the university 
he aimed to connect the practical with the theoretical, 
a tendency which characterized his whole life after 
wards, but which is largely ignored, because his emi 
nence in speculation has obscured his practical efforts. 
The lectures on fortification were intended for military 
men, and by means of them he extended his influence 
beyond the limits of the university. The numerous 
military officers in the city made such a course im- 


])ortant, and it is probable that he discussed the subject 
in compliance with their request. 

While we should hardly expect from Kant anything 
pertaining to war, still less should we look to him for 
a discussion of subjects referring chiefly to amuse 
ment. We regard fireworks as playthings, whose 
discussion hardly lies within the sphere of a philo 
sopher s serious investigations. Yet Kant delivered 
lectures on pyrotechnics. His interests were, in tact, 
far more general than is usually supposed, and in his 
earlier years, especially, he was greatly influenced by 
his surroundings, and popular subjects frequently 
engaged his attention. The age itself helps us to 
understand these lectures. " It must bo remembered 
that during the first half of the eighteenth century 
pyrotechnics were valued very highly, that unusual 
sums of money were spent for them, and that authors 
and artists did not think it beneath them to prepare 
folios, with expensive plates, for the explanation and 
exaltation of things which cannot possibly be described. 
Kant aimed to infuse life into the dead, mechanical 
knowledge, and to connect it with science ; he, however, 
abandoned such pursuits when the more earnest spirit 
of the century consigned the idle sport to its proper 
place." (") 

Belonging to the philosophical faculty, to which are 
assigned all departments of learning not peculiar to 
theology, law, and medicine, he had a wide range ol 
topics from which to choose. As tutor he was not 
obliged to lecture on any particular subject, but was 
entirely free in his choice. His previous preparation 
and preferences were by no means tin- only considera 
tions in the choice 1 of subjects, and at times they may 


have been overbalanced by others, for lie was depen 
dent on his lectures for his living, and his income from 
them depended upon their popularity ; he also had a 
reputation to make as well as to sustain. These were 
important factors in his case ; and it was natural that 
in the selection of his subjects, he should carefully 
consider his condition and his surroundings. 

We know the various subjects on which Kant 
lectured during his long connexion with the university, 
but not the exact order in which he took them up. It 
would be interesting to follow him from theme to 
theme, so as to trace the development of his mind as 
indicated by his lectures ; but as the catalogues did 
not give his name until he became a professor, this 
neglect prevents us from following the earlier progress 
of the work of the greatest man ever produced by the 
university. From the scattered accounts of pupils and 
others we learn that he soon increased considerably the 
subjects of his lectures. As the time of the laborious 
student permitted and as his mind developed he took 
up new topics. 

In 1757 he began to lecture on physical geography. 
He made this course popular rather than strictly sys 
tematic or profoundly scientific. As he had never 
travelled, he was chiefly dependent on the accounts of 
others, and he made these lectures the repository of his 
thoughts and reading on the earth and its phenomena. 
In the programme announcing the subject for the first 
time, he proposes to discuss the sea, continents, islands, 
fountains and wells, rivers and brooks, the atmosphere 
and winds, the seasons in different countries, the 
changes to which the earth has been subject, and the 
animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms ; surely he 


gives himself ample room for using his accumulated 
stores of geographical and physical knowledge. These 
lectures, which were published in 1802, contained many 
interesting facts and generalizations, as well as vivid 
descriptions, practical hints, and anecdotes ; there was 
also a vein of humour, and free play was given to the 
imagination. They attracted officers, professional 
men, and merchants, as w r ell as students ; and they are 
frequently mentioned as exceedingly interesting and 
inspiring. For more than thirty years he delivered 
them every summer, and they were very popular, 
in 1778 the Cabinet Minister, Von Zedlitz, wrote to 
Kant that he was reading a manuscript on physical 
geography, written in the lecture-room by one of the 
students; and he was so delighted with what he 
learned from that imperfect manuscript that he be 
seeches him to send a more perfect copy. The aim to 
adapt the lectures to a mixed audience made their 
popular character surpass their scientific value ; and 
while they contain much interesting material, they are 
now of little importance to the student of physical 
geography, and have not materially promoted the 
progress of the science. 

From January, 1758, till 1702 the Russians had 
possession of Konigsberg. They had the management 
of the university during this period, but permitted it 
to take its usual course. Some of them encouraged 
literature, and the number of Russian students 
increased. Having been repeatedly invited by Russian 
officers to lecture to them on physics and physical 
geography, Kant complied with their request. 

In 1759 he published a short article on "Optimism," 
having previously lectured on the subject ; and in 1 7M, 


a brochure on " The only possible Proof of the Existence 
of God," having previously delivered a course of lectures 
on " Criticism on the Proofs of the Divine Existence." 
It is also probable that he lectured on " The Emotion 
of the Beautiful and the Sublime," on which subject 
a small volume by him appeared in 1764. 

This gives a wide range of topics for the period of 
his tutorship, and there may have been others. The 
students requested him to deliver lectures on German 
style, but the subject was too remote from his studies, 
and he therefore declined ; the request is, how 
ever, significant. After he became a professor he 
also lectured on the encyclopedia of the philosophical 
sciences, natural law, ethics, or moral philosophy, 
as he afterwards called it, anthropology, natural 
theology, and pedagogics. ( M ) His lectures on physical 
geography, anthropology, and moral philosophy were 
the most popular among the students as well as in other 
circles, and were the means of giving him an extensive, 
social, moral, and intellectual influence in the city and 

The compends used as the basis of most of his 
lectures were merely general guides, for not only in 
the details, but frequently also in the plan and the 
general arrangement he went his own way. His 
copies of the compends were interleaved with blank 
pages, and he used them as long as he lectured ; and 
while professors in other universities were already 
lecturing on the Kantian philosophy, he still used Meier 
on logic, and Baumgarten on metaphysics. An 
account of him in 1795, two years before he ceased to 
lecture, says of his use of Meier s Compend, " He 
always brings the book along. It looks so old and 


soiled, I believe that he has brought it with him daily 
for forty years. All the blank leaves are covered with 
writing in a small hand, and besides, many of the 
printed pages have leaves pasted over them, and in 
other cases lines are frequently crossed out, so that, as 
is evident, scarcely anything of Meier s Logic is left. 
Not one of his hearers brings the book, and they are 
intent on writing only his own words. He does not, 
however, seem to notice this, and faithfully follows his 
author from chapter to chapter, and corrects every 
thing, or rather says every thing in a different way, but 
with the most innocent air, so that it is evident that he 
makes no pretensions on account of his disco veries."( 37 ) 

Besides the notes on the blank leaves of the compends 
and on the margins of the printed pages, ht3 was in the 
habit of making memoranda for his lectures on slips 
of paper, on envelopes addressed to him, and on the 
blank parts of letters. He rarely wrote out his lectures 
in full ; as a rule, he did this only when they were to 
be published. But after carefully elaborating them 
mentally, he spoke freely, using notes and compends 
only as skeletons ; and the frequent repetition of his 
lectures made even these almost unnecessary in the 
course of time. 

While his lectures were learned and often profound, 
being the result of his extensive researches, penetrated 
and moulded by his master-mind, they differed 
materially from his profound metaphysical works. His 
"Kritik of Pure Reason" was never delivered in the form 
of lectures. When he spoke to the students, his style 
was generally clear, and he used numerous illustrations. 
But in metaphysics, the subject itself being full of 
inherent difficulties, it frequently required close atten- 


tion to follow his discussions. ( 38 ) He would conduct 
various processes of thinking before the students, 
developing one thought from another, and indicating 
errors here and there in the processes, thus guiding his 
hearers in the construction and development of thought. 
For able minds this was very interesting and instruc 
tive ; but there were many who would lose the thread 
of his discourse; he did not, however, read for dull 
minds, and is reported to have said repeatedly, at the 
beginning of his lectures, " I do not read for geniuses, 
their endowments being such that they will make a way 
for themselves ; nor for the stupid, for they are not 
worth the trouble ; but 1 read for the sake of those 
who stand between these two classes, and want to be 
prepared for their future work." 

While in his profounder lectures he gave the 
students the results of his own investigations, it was 
his principal aim to teach them to think, and he so 
frequently emphasized this that his hearers could not 
make the mistake of imagining that he expected to do 
the thinking for them. According to his Logic, a 
philosopher is one who philosophizes. One man cannot 
make another a philosopher, however much learning 
he may impart, though he may help him to become 
one ; for it is only by the exercise of his own reason, 
by thinking for himself, that one becomes a philosopher. 
" Every philosophical thinker builds, so to speak, his 
work on the ruins of another." The systems of philo 
sophy are constantly changing ; this is owing to the 
fact that none exists which is satisfactory. " As none 
exists, philosophy of course cannot be learned ; and 
even if it existed, no one who learned it could claim to 
be a philosopher, for his knowledge would only be 
historical." Whoever wants to become a philosopher 

AIM. /o 

must view all systems of philosophy as merely a history 
of the use of reason and as material on which to 
exercise his philosophic talent . " The true philosopher 
must therefore, as a thinker, make an independent, 
not a slavish, imitative use of his reason." Kant s aim 
in liis metaphysical lectures was to arouse the mind 
to activity, and to make thinkers and philosophers, 
rather than to teach a system of philosophy. As he 
repeatedly said, he wanted his hearers to learn to stand 
on their own feet ; hence he would say to them, "You 
will not learn philosophy from me, but to philosophize ; 
not merely thoughts for repetition, but to think " In 
his Logic he gives three important rules for thought: 
First, to think yourself ; second, to put yourself in 
the place of others ; third, always to think consistently. 
The first is the enlightened, the second is the enlarged, 
and the third is the consequent method of thinking. 
It was the aim of his lectures to promote these 
methods ; and while he could not think for his students, 
he could help them both to think and to think consis 
tently; and he could also help them to put themselves in 
the place of others. While his lectures were repositories 
of rich scholarship, it is self-evident that he was no 
mere collector of facts; everywhere and always 
he was the thinker, appropriating, elaborating, and 
generalizing what ho had gathered. 

After 177 5 his lectures on anthropology were the 
popular course for the winter, as those on physical 
geography were for the summer. They, too, were 
attended by others than students. As those on phy 
sical geography contemplated nature as a traveller 
who makes thoughtful journeys, so those on anthropo 
logy thoughtfully but pleasantly explore the mind s 
connexion with the body, giving the results of his 


observations on himself and others, and also of his 
extensive reading, drawing, it is said, especially from 
English novels. He states that he aims to reveal to 
his hearers the principles of morals, of skill, of the 
intercourse of persons with one another, and of the 
methods of developing and governing 2iien ; that is, 
the principles of all that is practical. He discusses 
phenomena and their laws rather than the possibility 
of modifying human nature, and avoids, as useless, all 
subtle investigations of the manner in which the organs 
of the body are connected with the mind. Kant states 
that it is his purpose to give the results of his obser 
vations in such a way that his hearers will never find 
any part dry, but everything attractive ; and that he 
hoped by means of these lectures to train young men 
in skill, in prudence, and in wisdom. 

With his keen sense of the paradoxical, his high 
appreciation of the humorous, and his skill in relating 
anecdotes, it is not surprising that he made the subject 
entertaining as well as instructive. The lectures were 
published in his Anthropology. The learning of this 
work, its perspicuity, its clear discriminations, its 
sententious passages, its deep insight into human 
nature, its anecdotes and illustrations, its revelations 
of the freaks, contrasts, and paradoxes of men, its 
humour and its wit, made it deservedly popular, and 
enable us to understand why its author so often aroused 
and inspired his hearers. ( 39 ) 

Kant disliked exceedingly every kind of affecta 
tion, and his manner was free from it in the lecture- 
room. With little more than his head visible, he sat 
behind a small desk, on which lay his compend, and 
sometimes slips of paper with notes. A description 


of him at the age of seventy-one states that his delivery 
was not attractive, but altogether in the conversational 
tone; occasionally he would draw his hand from liis 
buttoned coat and make a slight gesture; his voice 
was no longer clear; the writer, however, says that 
the excellence of the matter amply compensated for any 
defects in the delivery, and adds, "When one has 
become accustomed to his voice so as to be able to 
understand his words, it is not difficult to follow his 
thoughts. Recently he spoke of space and time, and 
it seemed as if I had never comprehended any one so 
fully ; and now he has come to that part of logic 
where he must speak of cognition. This gives him an 
opportunity to discuss its perfection, and also logical, 
{esthetic, and other kinds of cognition. The principal 
thoughts of liis ( Yiti(|iie of the Judgment are given as 
easily, clearly, and entertainingly as can be imagined. 
It must be extremely interesting to hear his whole 
course, since in this way one readily becomes ac 
quainted with all his thoughts. "( <0 ) 

These facts enable us to understand why Kant at 
once became popular as a teacher. There was a 
marked contrast between his fresh and sprightly lec 
tures Miid the dull pedantry which prevailed in learned 
circles; he laid the sciences, poetry, general literature, 
and, in fact, all the departments of thought under 
contribution, in order to make them rich in interest 
as well as in instruction. Minds which were active as 
well as receptive found his philosophical lectures mines 
of thought ; such were strongly attracted by him, and 
over many of them his influence was astonishing. 
The majority of his hearers could not appreciate liis 
profundity, and at best they became mere echoes of 


his opinions ; but numerous young men received from 
him impulses which determined their whole future 
career. His moral lectures especially made a deep 
impression ; they frequently inspired his students and 
filled them with enthusiasm. There were some who 
almost worshipped him, and occasions were gladly 
seized by his auditors for manifesting their apprecia 
tion. While he was still a tutor he attracted persons 
from a distance to Konigsberg, and one gentleman 
came from his possessions in Poland, for several 
winters, solely for the purpose of enjoying the benefit 
of his superior instruction. 

Of the enthusiasm aroused by Kant while a tutor, 
we have a striking illustration in the case of Herder, 
who spent from 1762 to 1764 at the university. 
Although he was a student of theology, Kant, who 
permitted the indigent young man to hear his lectures 
gratis, made the deepest impression on him, and 
wonderfully stimulated his mind. Herder heard him 
on logic, metaphysics, morals, mathematics, and 
physical geography. Thirty years after leaving the 
university, he wrote, " I had the good fortune to 
know a philosopher, who was my teacher. He was in 
his best years, and possessed the cheerful vivacity of 
youth, which, I believe, he preserves even in his old 
age. His open brow, formed for thought, was the 
seat of undisturbed serenity and joy ; language 
freighted with thought flowed from his lips ; wit and 
humour were at his command ; and his instructive 
lecture was a rich entertainment. In the same spirit 
with which he investigated Leibnitz, Wolf, Baum- 
garten, Crusius, and Hume, and traced the laws of 
Newton, Keppler, and the scientists generally, he 

examined the writings of Rousseau then appearing, 
namely, his Kmile and his Heloise. He placed 
the true estimate on every physical discovery which 
came to his notice, and always returned from other 
studies to an impartial scrutiny of nature and the 
moral worth of man. He drew the inspiration for his 
lectures from the history of men, of nations, and of 
nature, as well as from natural science, mathematics, 
and his own observations. He was not indifferent to 
anything worth knowing. No cabal, no sect, no 
advantage to himself, no ambition, had the least in 
fluence over him compared with the development and 
illustration of the truth. He encouraged, and obliged 
his hearers, to think for themselves ; despotism was 
foreign to his mind. This man, whom T mention 
with the highest esteem and gratitude, is Immanuel 


Herder, receptive and yet original, ambitious for 
learning and tor fame, with a warm heart and a vivid 
imagination, was marvellously influenced by his 
favourite teacher, and at times his fervour bordered 
on rapture. A fellow-student says of him, " Eagerly 
he seized every thought, every word of the great 
philosopher, and afterwards at home he arranged the 
thoughts and language. Often he communicated to 
me what he had written, and we would talk it over in 
a retired arbour of an unfrequented public garden by 
the old Rossgart Church. Once, in the early morning 
hour, Kant, the man of exuberant spirits, spoke with 
unusual mental exaltation, and, when the matter ad 
mitted, witli poetic inspiration, quoting his favourite 
poets, Pope and Haller. With bold conjectures he 
discoursed on time and eternity. It was evident that 


Herder was powerfully affected ; and when he came 
home he put the ideas of his teacher in verses which 
would have done honour to Ilaller. Before the lecture 
on the next morning he handed them to Kant, who, 
struck with the masterly poetic representation of his 
thoughts, read them with warmth and with praise to 
his auditors." ( 42 ) 

Herder did not, however, hear all the lectures of 
the philosopher with enthusiasm. He preferred those 
on mathematics, physical geography, and physics ; 
but for his metaphysical lectures he had no taste, 
desiring more life and less abstraction, more that per 
tained to reality and less logic. After many a meta 
physical lecture he would take a poet, Rousseau, or a 
similar author, and hasten into the fresh air to get rid 
of the unpleasant impression. 

As it was his principal aim to teach his students to 
think, Kant was not a friend of dictation ; and he be 
lieved that the students who were best able to grasp his 
thoughts were those who during the delivery of the 
lecture wrote only the main points for meditation, 
w r hile those who wrote most were the ones who were 
least able to distinguish the more from the less im 
portant thoughts, and consequently mixed a lot of 
misunderstood stuff with the clearly apprehended views. 
When he noted that the less important things were 
carefully written, while the more weighty ones were 
omitted, it would disturb him. 

Judging from the power of abstraction revealed in 
his books, one would hardly suspect that the great 
metaphysician could have been disconcerted by trifles ; 
yet a little noise in the lecture-room, or something 
unusual in the appearance of the students, easily em- 


barrassed him. Sometimes even the sound made by 
the pens of his hearers disturbed him, and once he 
said, "Gentlemen, do not scratch so; I am no orach 4 ." 
He was in the habit of fixing his eye on some student 
who sat near him, and from his countenance he would 
infer whether he was being understood. Frequently 
the expression or dress of the student whom he watched 
became the occasion of confusion. Jachmann gives a 
striking instance : " One hour his distraction specially 
arrested my attention, and at noon Kant complained 
to me that his thoughts had been interrupted con 
tinually because a button was wanting on the coat of 
one of his hearers. Involuntarily his eyes had been 
attracted to this defect, and it was this which had so 
distracted him. At the same time he remarked that 
this is more or less the experience of every one ; thus, 
when a pel-son has lost a front tooth one naturally 
looks constantly at the place where the tooth is want 
ing. He also makes this remark several times in his 
Anthropology." Peculiarities in the appearance of 
students were apt to disturb him, such as a bare neck, 
an exposed breast, or longhair hanging carelessly over 
the neck and brow, which were regarded by some 
youths as evidences of genius. It is said that when 
he became especially serious, and thought deeply 
furrowed his brow, he would fix his eyes on a certain 
student who always sat immediately before him, was 
extremely uncouth and dull, and found the lectures, 
which went far beyond his hori/on, very tedious. He 
manifested his weariness by long yawning, which at 
one time so disturbed Kant that he said with some 
excitement, " If one cannot avoid yawning, good 
manners require that the hand should be held before 



the mouth." The narrator adds, " I believe that after 
wards the amanuensis effected a change of place 
between him and another student." ( 43 ) 

After Kant became a professor and received a fixed 
salary, it was his rule to lecture only twice a day, from 
seven to nine in the morning, thus leaving more time 
for his literary labours. ( 44 ) His course on natural 
religion he delivered only twice, discontinuing it in 
1794, because the Government had called him to 
account for his theological views. In 1795 he brought 
all his private lectures to a close, on account of his 
age and feebleness. From that time until the end of 
the summer semester of 1797, when he closed all his 
lectures, he delivered only public ones, namely, four a 
week on logic in summer, and the same number in 
winter on metaphysics. Long before this his delivery 
had lost much of its vivacity, owing to his weakness 
and the frequent repetition of the same lectures. In 
1791 Fichte found them uninteresting and drowsy. 
When Kant Avas seventy, a hearer reported that his 
metaphysical thoughts were digressive and lacked 
perspicuity. "A young man of fifteen or sixteen could 
comprehend but little connectedly in these lectures; 
the benefit which I received was from occasional 
bright thoughts which flashed into my soul. I 
believe that at that time older students fared no 
better." Rink says, " It cannot be denied that already 
in the eighth decade of last century his lectures lost so 
much of their life that it seemed as if he must be 
on the point of falling asleep, an opinion which was 
confirmed when, with a vigorous movement of the 
body, he was seen to arouse himself suddenly. But in 
spite of this ho continued to the last to be a very 


conscientious teacher, and I cannot remember that he 
missed a single hour." 

With all his popularity, his circumstances while a 
tutor, especially in the beginning of his connexion with 
the university, were not easy. Once a student, who 
was himself poor, brought him the pay for his lectures ; 
Kant took only so much of the money as he still needed 
for the payment of his rent, and returned the rest, hi 
order to be free from debt, which he resolv r ed to avoid 
at all hazards, he was obliged to live very plainly. 
The income from his lectures being meagre, he occa 
sionally took charge of some young men whose educa 
tion he superintended. With the statement to this 
effect, approved by Kant himself in Borowski s sketch, 
Jachmann agrees, but he is more explicit. " During the 
first years of his tutorship in the university, the receipts 
from his lectures were small, and he was often obliged 
to live very economically, so as to avoid pecuniary em 
barrassment. He had laid aside twenty Louis-d or 
which he never touched, so that in case of sickness he 
might be secure from absolute need. In order not to 
use this fund, lie found it necessary to sell his library of 
choice books, since he could riot meet his expenses with 
his income. 

His first appointment to a position with a salary 
was in 1 7bT), when he became second librarian in the 
Iloyal Library. The Government in Merlin, in the 
letter appointing him, designated him as " the able 
Kant, made famous by his books." His salary was 
sixty-two thalers a year. There were many excellent- 
books in the library, especially among the accounts of 
travel ; and constant, access to these was of advantage 
to the voracious reader. About the same time he was 


also appointed superintendent of a private cabinet of 
natural and ethnographical objects, being chosen for 
this place on account of his knowledge of natural his 
tory. The cabinet, being one of the sights of Konigs- 
berg, was visited by many strangers, to whom he 
was obliged to exhibit the curiosities. This was dis 
agreeable to Kant, because it interfered with his studies, 
and since those who visited the cabinet were generally 
more impelled by curiosity than a desire to learn. He 
soon resigned this position, and in 1772 the one in 
the Royal Library, which he also disliked. Kant had 
neither tact nor inclination for business of any kind ; 
and whatever took time from his studies or made him 
the agent in gratifying idle curiosity was irksome. 

It seems incredible that a man with his gifts, with 
his scholarship and his extensive reputation, should 
have been obliged to toil for fifteen years as a mere 
tutor; but such was the case. In 1756, one year after 
he became a tutor, he applied for the extraordinary 
professorship of mathematics, logic, and metaphysics, 
which had been vacant since 1751, when Knutzen 
died ; but as the country was much disturbed, the 
Seven Years War being imminent, the Government 
decided not to fill that position. In 1758 the pro 
fessorship in ordinary of logic and metaphysics became 
vacant by the death of Professor Kypke, and Kant 
applied for the appointment. Professor Schulz, the 
friend of his youth, favoured his application, though it 
is evident that he was suspicious of Kant s religious 
views. Besides abandoning theology, the philosopher 
had probably given him other reasons for suspecting 
the soundness of his faith. He requested Kant to call 
on him. When he entered the room, Schulz asked 


him solemnly, " Do you in your heart fear God r " 
The academic senate, to which the application was 
made, however decided in favour of Dr. Buck, who 
had been a tutor longer than Kant. The city was then 
in the possession of the Russians, whose commanding 
general confirmed the choice of the senate. 

But his merits were too conspicuous and his reputation 
too extensive for the general government to lose sight of 
Kant. In 1703 he was a contestant for a prize offered 
by the Berlin Academy of Sciences. His dissertation was 
entitled, " Investigations respecting the Clearness of the 
Principles of Natural Theology and Morals." (") The 
first prize was given to Moses Mendelssohn, the most 
eminent representative of the Popular philosophy ; the 
second was awarded to Kant. This distinction intro 
duced his name to the Government, as well as to scholars 
in Berlin. From various official documents it is evident 
that in Government circles he was highly esteemed on 
account of his scholarship, and that the authorities 
intended to appoint him to the first vacant professor 
ship in the philosophical faculty. Accordingly, in 
1704, when the professorship of rhetoric and poetry 
became vacant, the minister of education wrote to the 
authorities at Konigsberg to inquire into Kant s fitness 
for the appointment, and his willingness to accept it if 
tendered. The letter says, " A certain magister, Ini- 
manuel Kant, lias become known to us through his 
works, which give evidence of thorough scholarship." 
Kant was not yet the abstract metaphysician, and he 
had given sufficient evidence that he could write beauti 
fully ; and it was perhaps thought that his varied 
attainments fitted him for any posit ion. But to imagine 
the mathematical and metaphysical Kant as spending 


the remainder of his days on rhetoric and in versifica 
tion, and in trying to teach aspiring geniuses the art 
of torturing words into metre and rhyme, and of giving 
to airy nothing a local habitation and a name ! The 
incumbent was obliged to prepare the official poems 
for the special occasions and numerous celebrations 
connected with the university ; and it is self-evident that 
neither nature nor his education had adapted him to 
this professorship. The minister, being informed that 
he did not desire the appointment, wrote to the Ko nigs- 
berg authorities that the Government had decided to 
offer him some other position in the university, saying, 
" The very able magister Kant, who teaches with such 
general approval, shall be promoted at the first oppor 
tunity, and you are to announce this to him; and when 
such an opportunity occurs you are to propose him 

Nevertheless he was obliged to wait six years longer 
before a suitable vacancy occurred. Meanwhile his 
reputation attracted the attention of other universities 
to his superior abilities. In 17 09 an effort was made 
to secure him as professor of logic and metaphysics in 
Erlangen, and a correspondence with him took place on 
the subject. Seeing no hope of a speedy promotion to 
a professorship in Konigsberg, he thought seriously of 
accepting ; and the report that he was coming excited 
much joy among the students in Erlangen. At the 
same time he was urged to accept the professorship of 
philosophy in Jena. If the professorship of mathe 
matics in Konigsberg had not become vacant at that 
time, Kant would probably have been lost to this city. 
This position was, however, placed at his disposal. In 
view of his early preference for mathematics, he might 


have accepted it, and then the world would probably 
never have known him as the great metaphysician ; 
but Professor Buck desired the chair of mathematics, 
and offered Kant his professorship of logic and meta 
physics. Kant accepted this offer, and in 1 770, after 
fifteen years of toil as a humble tutor, and when forty- 
six years of age, he became professor in ordinary 
of logic and metaphysics, never having occupied the 
intermediate position of professor extraordinary. 

In order that he might become a professor, it was 
necessary for him again to present a Latin dissertation. 
In its subject and treatment the one prepared for this 
occasion was worthy of the man who was called to 
teach metaphysics, and it is historically significant 
from the fact that in it Kant for the first time publicly 
gave some of the most important principles afterwards 
developed in the " Kritik." It was a discussion of the 
difference between sensation and understanding, with 
the title, " The Form and Principles of the World of 
Sense and of the Intellect," (") 

After he became a professor, he could lecture on 
subjects not immediately connected with his professor 
ship, for in this, as in so many other respects, there is 
great freedom in German universities. But a professor 
must lecture on the subjects for which he is appointed, 
is expected to make a speciality of them, and is sup 
posed to have for them a preference and special 
adaptation. Kant s position now in a measure de 
fined the sphere of his intellectual activity ; and from 
his correspondence we learn that for years he had 
given particular prominence to the study of meta 
physics. Henceforth he is less a mathematician and 
physicist than formerly, and in his thoughts and lectures 


and books he restricts himself mainly to speculative 
and moral philosophy. 

Kant began his career as professor under the most 
favourable auspices. He was in his best years, had the 
favour of the Government, had learning which was as 
extensive as it was solid, and had acquired an enviable 
reputation for scholarship. The popularity which he en 
joyed while a tutor was increased after he became a pro 
fessor, and culminated when the "Kritik" gave him cele 
brity. In May, 1 786, Hamann wrote that ho Avent with 
his son at six in the morning to Kant s lecture-room, 
an hour before he read, the attendance being so large in 
the first months of a semester as to make this necessary 
in order to secure a place. A few years before this, 
Hamann stated that Kant was reading on philosophical 
theology, and that the rush to hear him was astonish 
ing. At the time when his fame was at its height, 
manypersons not connected with the university attended 
his lectures, and numbers came from a distance to hear 

His position as professor not merely gave him 
greater influence arid authority, but also an opportunity 
to concentrate his efforts, since he was no longer obliged 
to lecture so frequently for the sake of a livelihood ; 
still, when he began his professorship he was very busy, 
partly in preparing new lectures. A letter written 
at this time states that a literary project was neces 
sarily delayed on account of his " laborious academic 
work." His salary was four hundred thalers ; besides 
this, he had an income from those who attended his 
private lectures. This was more than enough for a 
man with so few wants, and whose whole life had been 
disciplined by an enforced economy. The king, in 


1 789, increased the sum by the addition of 220 thalers, 
making his stated income 620 thalers, or about 90/., 
the highest salary ever received by Kant. As the 
attendance at his lectures was large, this must have 
been a source of considerable revenue ; and in his later 
years he also received an income from his books. 

it is not surprising that Kant s extraordinary popu 
larity aroused some opposition to him in the faculty ; 
his religious views may also have given occasion for 
attacks. Some of his older colleagues, finding them 
selves overshadowed by Kant, made insinuations 
against him in their lectures ; but by his younger 
colleagues, most of whom had been his pupils, he was 
respected and kindly treated, one only excepted. This 
one was a tutor and an enthusiastic follower of the 
philosopher Crusius. Having made rude attacks on 
Kant in his lecture-room, just as he had on Wolf and 
others, he was silenced for awhile ; when he proposed 
to read again, the students, who had come for that 
purpose, interrupted and so disconcerted him that he 
was obliged to desist, and he abandoned his lectures 

About a year after Kant was appointed a professor, 
Von Zedlitz became minister of public instruction. He 
took great pains to improve the condition of the 
universities. A letter from him to the civil authorities 
in Konigsberg gives an idea of the condition of the 
university in that city, and also of the esteem in which 
Kant was held by the Government. The minister 
finds fault with the institution because modern litera 
ture seems to be ignored in the lectures; because 1 the 
professors, with the exception of Kant and Rcuss, 
read on compends which are antiquated; because on 


some important subjects no lectures are announced 
such as Public and German Law, Botany, and Prussian 
and Brandenburg History ; and because the philosophy 
of Crusius is still taught by some, though generally it 
has been found to be unsatisfactory. The teachers who 
are disciples of Crusius are ordered to abandon their 
lectures on philosophy, unless they can free themselves 
from his system, and are to chose some other topics. 
Another professor is admonished to avoid verbosity 
" as much as possible, since the discourse which has 
been most thoroughly elaborated is always the most 
condensed." The teachers are also exhorted to accumu 
late new stores of knowledge by diligent study. Sad 
indeed must have been the intellectual character of 
the university to make such a letter necessary or even 
possible ; but the general stagnation made Kant s broad 
learning, and fresh, vigorous, and profound thoughts 
all the more powerful, and his position the more con 

Yon Zedlitz, who was a warm admirer of Kant, in 
1778 offered him the professorship of metaphysics in 
Halle, where the number of his students would have 
been much larger than in Konigsberg, and his in 
fluence much greater; he, however, declined the 
position. The minister, who was very anxious that he 
should accept, renewed the offer, and presented for his 
consideration the advantages of Halle, hoping in this 
way to induce him to accept the place. A salary of 
800 thalers was offered, just double the amount which 
he was then receiving ; Von Zedlitz also states that 
the climate of Halle is much healthier than that of 
Kooigsberg, and that the number of students is from 
1000 to 1200, or more than twice as many as in the 


latter city ; and as another inducement, he mentions the 
fact that he is desirous of restoring Halle to its former 
pre-eminence, and of making it the centre of learning in 
Germany, by attracting thither the most eminent men. 
Nevertheless Kant refused to leave his native city. A 
letter written by him in the same year enables us to 
understand his reasons for rejecting this tempting 
offer. He states that lie is not ambitious for gain, 
nor for fame in a conspicuous position, but prefers a 
quiet place where he can devote himself to study, 
speculation, and society, and where his easily affected 
mind, and still more easily affected though nev r er really 
sick body, can be properly preserved, and adds, " All 
change makes me fearful, even if it gives the greatest 
promise of an improvement in my condition ; and T 
believe that I must heed this instinct of my nature if I 
want to extend to its full length the thread which the 
Fates have spun very thin and weak." As the "Kritik " 
was approaching completion, he may also have feared 
that a change might involve him in new labours which 
would interfere with the progress of that work. 

Kant became a member of the academic senate in 
1780, and held this position until his feebleness led him 
to resign it in 1801. He was the dean of the philo 
sophical faculty six times, and twice the rector of the 
university; but celebrated as he was for scholarship, 
he did not distinguish himself in either position. Even 
for the business affairs of the university, except so far 
as they pertained to learning and morals, he had 
no taste, and he gladly left their management to 
others. When his official position of dean or rector 
required him to act alone, he generally followed the 
precedents, not venturing on innovations; and when 


lie transacted business in concert with the other mem 
bers of the senate, he generally voted with the majority. 
In his old age, he preferred to be excused from serving 
as dean or rector ; arid when he was elected dean in 
1794 and again in 1798, he Avas excused; and he was 
also released from the duties of the rectorate when in 
1796 it was his turn to fill that office. 

It was charged that as dean, Kant was too lenient 
in his examination of the students. He cared more 
about their judgments than their memories, and less 
about the amount they knew than how they knew. 
Professor Kraus remarks, with reference to the charge 
that Kant did not examine sharply, and that as rector 
he was not strict, "If he did not examine rigorously, 
it was because the whole affair was exceedingly dis 
agreeable to him, and to such a mind, and with his 
pursuits, it could not be otherwise. He disliked the 
rectorate on account of the many cases of dishonesty 
with which he became acquainted. All evidences of 
dishonesty and immorality were odious to him." 

When Prussia was elevated to the rank of a kingdom 
in 1701, Frederick I. came to Konigsberg, his native 
city, and placed the crown on. his head; since that 
time it has been the coronation city of the Prussian 
kings. It was during Kant s rectorate that Frederick 
William II. ascended the throne and went to Konigs 
berg to be crowned. The philosopher, who took no 
prominent part on festival occasions, nor delivered any 
public addresses, except when required to do so by 
his official position as rector, was at this time intro 
duced to that monarch. Shortly after this, Kant s 
salary was increased by the king, and he was also 
elected a member of the Berlin Academy of Sciences. 




Appearance Head Peculiar experience with his ryes State of 
Health Study of his physical condition View of medicine 
Dietetics Mastery of mind over hody Art of prolonging life. 

KANT S physique was not proportionate to his massive 
intellect. He was below the medium size; and when 
somewhat bowed by old age, he was described as 
scarcely five feet high. " His body seemed to have 
received from nature the impress of feebleness as its 
characteristic." His bones were small and weak, but 
proportionately his muscles were still weaker. One 
who had been his acquaintance for fifty years, said, 
" Ever since I knew him, his body was extremely 
emaciated, and at last it was dried like a potsherd." 
On Ranch s celebrated monument of Frederick II., in 
Berlin, Kant is represented with other eminent men of 
that monarch s reign. The artist had much difficulty 
in modelling a figure worthy of his great fame and yet 
true to nature. He is represented as raising his right 
hand to make a gesture while talking with I jessing, 
who is at his side, and in his left he holds a cane and 
his three-cornered hat. He wears a wig, tied to which 
is a bat: which hangs on his shoulders. His forehead is 


broad and square ; his cheek-bones are high and the 
cheeks are sunken ; his lips protrude and the chin 
recedes ; the chest is depressed and the abdomen is 
prominent. The compressed chest was an inheritance 
from his mother. His right shoulder was turned 
backward and was considerably higher than the other : 
in old age this deformity became more apparent, and 
gave him the appearance of being very much bent. 
With the exception of his crooked nose, the rest of his 
body was symmetrical. Most of the pictures of Kant 
in old age, judged by descriptions of him by his 
acquaintances, flatter him. 

After his death, his head was carefully examined, 
but there was no dissection. While there were a 
number of prominences on the forehead, there were 
scarcely any on the back part of the head. The 
measurement through the head, from the root of the 
nose, was seven and three-quarter inches (German), 
its width from ear to ear, six and a half. The fore 
head, which receded gradually, was narrow at its base 
and broad at the top. From the base of the nose to 
the top of the head the measurement was five inches. 

When in 1880 the remains of Kant were transferred 
to the chapel erected in honour of his memory, his 
skull was subjected to the most minute examination. 
As the result of this investigation, his head was 
declared to be large in proportion to the rest of the 
body. The capacity of the skull was unusual, being 
much larger than the average of Prussian and Lithuanian 
skulls ; its height and length were only medium, but 
its width in some parts was remarkable. The breadth 
at the temples, of the forehead, and of the entire front 
part of the head, was found to be only ordinary, while 


in the middle and the back part it was extraordinary; 
and the right side of the skull was larger than the 
left. (< 8 ) 

The appearance of Kant indicated the student ; his 
narrow chin and thin cheeks gave his head special 
prominence, and impressed the beholder with the pre 
ponderance of the intellect. His eyes, which were 
not large, were lively, tender, and penetrating ; their 
colour was blue, a fact on which, for an unknown 
reason, Kant laid some stress. When he became 
animated in his lectures or conversations, there was 
an irresistible fascination in his look. Jachmann 
describes his face as pleasing, and thinks that in youth 
it must have been handsome. With the enthusiasm 
characteristic of him when speaking ofhis beloved 
teacher, he says, " Where shall I find words to 
describe his eyes ! Kant s eye looked as if it had been 
formed of heavenly ether. . . . It is impossible to 
describe his enchanting look and my emotions when he 
sat opposite and suddenly raised his eyes to look at 
me." Borowski writes, " It did one good to behold 
his eyes. Jn viewing his fine forehead one immediately 
perceived the deep thinker, and a glance at his eyes 
revealed the good-natured man." " His hair was 
blond ; there was a fresh colour in his face, and even 
in old age his cheeks retained a healthy redness." 
All his senses were strong and keen, his hearing being 
especially distinguished for sharpness and delicacy. If 
he heard a peculiar voice, or if any one spoke in an 
unusual key, it at once attracted his attention ; and 
lie disliked exceedingly an affected or unnatural tone. 
As might be expected from the structure of his chest, 
his voice was weak, and at a little distance it required 


close attention to understand him. He sometimes 
pitched it very high, and until he was seventy it could 
stand a severe strain. 

His organization was so delicate that he was ex 
tremely sensitive to impressions from external objects, 
and Jachmann relates that a newspaper fresh from the 
press and still damp could give him a cold. This 
extreme sensitiveness partly accounts for the fact that, 
in spite of his singular power of abstraction, he was 
so easily disturbed in the lecture- room. 

In old age the appearance of Kant was not calculated 
to impress a stranger favourably at first sight; his ele 
vated shoulder and bent form made his diminutive sta 
ture still less imposing than in the vigour of youth. Pro 
fessor Kraus describes him in later years as " almost 
always keeping his head bowed down and hanging on 
one side, the bag of his wig mostly disordered and lying 
on one shoulder." With a sudden motion of his head 
he would throw the bag back, and the servant, passing 
behind his chair, frequently restored it to its proper 
place; but it would soon fall to the left again. 
Strangers who knew nothing of his appearance were 
disappointed when they saw him. An English letter 
says, "It is generally supposed that the greatness of 
a celebrated man must be evident from his appearance. 
If you come to Kant with this notion, you will be 
astonished to find before you a small, emaciated man, 
always bowed down while walking, whose eyes, as well 
as the rest of the features, are a reproach to phy 
siognomy." This is no doubt too strong; those 
who knew him best, say nothing of repulsiveness in his 
appearance. A better acquaintance, a closer study of 
his features, and repeated conversation with him, 


revealed hidden attractions and removed any unfavour 
able impressions made at first sight. 

He had peculiar experience with his eyes. This 
was the case for the first time when he was already 
past forty ; afterwards the same phenomenon occurred 
occasionally, and in one year several times. Sometimes 
while reading, the letters would suddenly become indis 
tinct, mixed, and unreadable ; this never lasted longer 
than six minutes. He said that for a preacher who was 
in the habit of reading his sermons, such an experience 
might be very serious, butforhimself in the lecture-room, 
since he was not confined to his notes, it had no other 
effect than to cause the apprehension that it might be 
the forerunner of blindness; but after having several 
such attacks, and finding that his sight was not affected 
thereby, his fears were allayed. Once, whilst subject 
to this strange experience, he closed his eyes, and put 
his hand over them in order the more effectually to 
exclude the light. He then saw a figure resembling 
the last quarter of the moon as represented in the 
almanac, as if drawn, in the dark, on paper with 
phosphorus, but with an indented border on the con 
vex side. The figure gradually lost its brightness, 
and disappeared altogether within six minutes. 

Once, in returning from a walk, he for a long time 
saw the steeple of a church double. But still more 
singular is the fact that his left eye became totally 
blind without his own knowledge or that of his friends. 
One day, while taking his usual walk, he seated himself 
on a bench and tried to determine with which eye he 
could sec best. Taking a paper from his pocket, he 
closed his right eye, and to his astonishment dis 
covered that he could see nothing with the other. lie 


did not know when the eye had become blind, but sup 
posed that it must have happened three or four years 
before he made the discovery. The fact was ascertained 
by him a good many years before his death, and it is 
thought that for the last twenty years of his life his left 
eye was sightless. 

In spite of his compressed chest and the delicacy of 
his system, Kant s life was remarkably free from sick 
ness. He said that he remembered no illness in earlier 
life except an attack of ague, and of that he had cured 
himself by a vigorous walk. Frequently, however, he 
was indisposed, and to a lady inquiring about his 
health, he said that, properly speaking, he was never 
well and never sick ; not the former, because he was 
never free from pain, there being a constant pressure 
below the chest, on the pylorus ; not the latter, because 
he had never been sick a day, nor had he ever needed 
medical aid, excepting a few pills which he had taken 
by the advice of a friend, to relieve constipation. His 
digestive organs seem to have been early deranged ; 
to this he ascribed his frequent ailments, and to the 
last it caused him perpetual trouble. 

In the year 1770, in which he was appointed pro 
fessor, he speaks of long indisposition during the 
summer, and says that the excessive burden of his 
lectures prevented the needed recreation and interfered 
with his correspondence ; he hopes in the future to be 
less pressed by his lectures and to recover the small 
measure of health which he formerly enjoyed. His 
excessive labours were, no doubt, partly the cause of 
his disorders. Instead of entirely recovering his 
health, we find that from this time his letters frequently 
mention his indisposition. During the preparation of 


the " Kritik " and the works which followed it, he was 
in delicate health. He wrote in 1778 that for many 
years he had been accustomed to regard himself well 
with a degree of health so small that many would have 
complained. This condition, he says, admonished him 
to take care of himself and attend to recreation. He 
also says, " I find myself in my usual, that is, weak 
way, healthy ; I never enjoyed a much greater degree 
of health." A year earlier he complained that ho was 
suffering considerably, and that he was daily indisposed. 
This physical debility interfered greatly with his 
intellectual labours ; his works were delayed thereby, 
and some plans may have been entirely frustrated. 
He regarded it as a great obstacle in the execution of 
his projects, and in 17S9 he wrote to a friend in 
Berlin, " Think of it, most worthy friend ! Sixty- 
six years old, constantly disturbed by indisposition in 
plans only half completed, and diverted from my course 
by all kinds of written and even printed appeals ; how 
difficult it is for me to perform, without some neglect 
here or there, what I regard as my duty ! " In the 
same year he wrote to Professor Reinhold about the 
disadvantages of growing old, since it obliged him to 
work mechanically, and added, " For several years J 
have found it necessary to refrain from devoting my 
self to uninterrupted study, whether in reading a book 
or in reflection." He could still work in the forenoon : 
but in the evening he was obliged to change the subjects 

O o D t) 

of study frequently, as otherwise he could not sleep. 
" In the sixty-sixth year, subtle investigations always 
become more difficult, and one would gladly avoid them 
if only others could be found to undertake and complete 
them." In order to secure time for study and author- 


ship, he was obliged to take his well moments from the 
culture of friendship and from his correspondence, and 
to concentrate them on his intellectual pursuits ; and 
his feeble health is frequently mentioned in his corre 
spondence as his apology for delay in answering the 
letters of friends. 

Kant was fully aware of his frail condition, and made 
his physical state a subject of special study and of 
scrupulous care ; he studiously investigated the means 
of preserving health and diligently practised the art 
of prolonging life. Hygiene was one of his favourite 
topics of conversation in all kinds of company ; and 
he so often discussed the same subjects and repeated 
the same thoughts, that they became monotonous. 
He watched the moods of his body critically, and in 
quired into the physical condition of his acquaintances ; 
he was eager to learn the experience of his friends 
respecting the effects of food and climate, and the 
remedies used when ill ; he studied meteorology in its 
relation to health, and carefully examined the statistics 
of mortality, which, at his request, were sent to him 
weekly by the director of the police. It was his 
ardent desire to reach a ripe old age ; and he frequently 
mentioned persons who had attained a great age, and 
estimated his own probable chances of life. 

For awhile he made a frequent use of quinine, but 
afterwards abandoned it. Until extreme old age, lie 
took very little medicine ; he spoke disparagingly of 
its use, declaring that it was synonymous with poison 
(pharmacon). He regarded it as peculiarly injurious 
to himself, and wrote to a friend, " On account of my 
sensitive nerves, medicine, without exception, is poison 
to me." When old, ho said, " I shall die, but I do 


not want to die by means of medicine. When I am 
sick and weak, they may do with me what they please, 
I shall submit to anything; but I shall take no pre 
servative." He humorously related the story of a man 
who had drugged himself to death. Although in good 
health, he constantly took medicine to ward off sick 
ness, and by this means destroyed his life. This was 
his epitaph : " N. N. was well, but because he wanted 
to be better than well, he is here." But while he had 
little faith in medicine, Kant took a deep interest in 
medical books, partly on account of his interest in 
science in general, but chiefly for the sake of his 
health. In the last decade of the century, when the 
system of the Scotch physician, John Brown, became 
popular among medical men in Germany, Kant became 
its advocate, and recommended it to his friends ; 
but he had little faith in the power of doctors to cure 
the ills of the flesh. There were, indeed, a number of 
physicians among his personal friends, but he did not 
esteem them because they belonged to the medical 
profession. lie even thought that doctors might be 
dispensed with altogether, unless they occupied their 
time with the study of chemistry, galvanism, and new 
discoveries in science. 

Kant regarded dietetics as the most important 
element in hygiene. Regularity in eating, drinking, 
and sleeping, with proper recreation after work, he 
esteemed of far more importance than medicine, be 
cause they prevent sickness. In 1778 ho writes that 
his constitution is so feeble that he can preserve his 
health only by means of great uniformity in his method 
of life, and in his mental state; and five years later he 
says that a hygienic rule which he found long ago in ail 


English author had been adopted by him, namely, that 
every person should have his own peculiar way of being 
healthy, which he cannot alter without risk. In follow 
ing this rule, he finds that though he is always obliged 
to contend with indisposition, he is never sick. And 
he has come to the conclusion that those live longest 
who are least anxious to prolong life, yet are careful 
not to shorten it by interfering with the beneficent 
natural powers of the body. 

Kant made frequent experiments with his body, and 
in the course of time gained such control over it as to 
make it the obedient instrument of his mind. In a 
letter to Dr. Hufeland, he discusses the art of being 
the master of one s sickly feelings by mere force of 
will. His own power in this respect was extraor 
dinary, of which the following is an illustration. " On 
account of my flat and narrow chest, which affords 
but little room for the movement of my heart and 
lungs, I have a natural predisposition to hypochondria, 
which in earlier years bordered on w r eariness of life. 
The reflection, however, that the cause of this oppres 
sive feeling was probably only mechanical, and could 
not be removed, soon brought it to pass that I paid no 
attention to it; and while I felt oppressed in my 
chest, my head was clear, and I possessed a cheerful 
ness which I could voluntarily communicate in society ; 
and I was not, as hypochondriacs usually are, subject 
to variable moods. Since we enjoy life more on 
account of what we do than what we receive, intellec 
tual labours can resist those interferences which pro 
ceed solely from the body, by promoting a different 
kind of feeling. The oppression in my chest re 
mained, for its cause lies in the structure of my body ; 


but T have become master of its influence on my 
thoughts and actions, by turning my attention away 
from this feeling altogether, just as if it did not at all 

concern me." 

Kant, as a close and thoughtful observer of his 
physical condition, sought to discover the causes of his 
frequent indisposition and to learn the remedy. Some 
of the experiments "which he made with himself were 
entirely successful. Finding that he was subject to 
colds which disturbed his sleep, he resolved to draw 
his breath, with closed lips, only through his nostrils. 
This succeeded admirably in overcoming the difficulty; 
it prevented coughing, and enabled him to fall asleep 
immediately. In this way he so effectually formed the 
habit of breathing through his nostrils only, that he 
did it even in his sleep. 

Sometimes he suffered from thirst immediately after 
retiring. In order to get water he would have been 
obliged to go into another room in the dark ; to avoid 
this he made the experiment of drawing several deep 
draughts of breath, at the same time expanding his 
chest, and drinking, as it were, the air through his 
nostrils, by which means the thirst was quenched in a 
few seconds, lie regarded the thirst as an irritation 
which was relieved by a counter-irritant. 

His power of abstraction was of great service to 
him in mastering his sickly feelings. Even in old 
age he could overcome sleeplessness by withdrawing 
his thoughts from the object on which they were 
fixed, and concentrating them on another. At that 
time a pain in his head similar to a cramp interfered 
with his sleep; but by withdrawing his attention 
from it he overcame the difficulty, lie was able 


to concentrate his mind so perfectly on a chosen 
subject that the pain was treated as if it did not exist, 
and the consciousness of it was lost. Being subject 
to what he called rheumatic attacks, he overcame the 
sleeplessness caused thereby in the same way, by sheer 
force of will. " That these were, however, not ima 
ginary pains was proved by the glowing redness which 
was seen early the next morning on the toes of my 
left foot." ( 49 ) His own experience made him confident 
that many rheumatic- attacks, and also cases of 
epilepsy and podagra, can be resisted by a firm reso 
lution of the will, and that in the course of time they 
may be completely cured. 

Life was prized by Kant on account of its opportu 
nities for intellectual development and moral culture, 
and the body was valued as the means to this end. 
He was accustomed to say that one should know how 
to adapt himself to his body ; and by carefully study 
ing his physical system, and by strenuous efforts of his 
resolute will, he conquered unfavourable conditions to 
which others would have succumbed. There is no 
doubt that he was often supposed to be in excellent 
health, when it was only by force of will that he kept 
his mind from brooding over his indisposition. Think 
ing it ignoble to be continually complaining, he was 
disposed to say but little about his ailings, until in his 
old age his infirmities increased and his will lost its 

Kant was never confined to his bed by illness except 
in the last year of his life, and then only a few days, 
though for a number of years he was very weak and 
subject to considerable suffering. In his old age he 
at one time declared that he was only vegetating, 


being still able to eat, drink, walk, and sleep, but no 
longer of any benefit to society. Physically lie re 
garded himself well; but so far as social life was con 
cerned he was ill ; and he spoke of himself despon 
dently as " this candidate for death." This condition 
he viewed as the result of his previous efforts to pro 
long life, the wisdom of which he now questioned. 
" It is to this that the art of prolonging life leads, 
namely, that one is merely tolerated among the living, 
a state which is not the most enjoyable." lie fears 
that he may be in the way of a younger generation ; 
"but it is my fault," he says, thinking that if he had 
not been so intent on prolonging life, he might have 
ended his earthly career when he ceased to live 
intellectually and socially. 




Intellectuality Memory Judgment Opposition to Dogmatism, 
Prejudice, and Fanaticism Power of analysis and synthesis 
Sense of the ludicrous Wit Abstraction Originality 
Union of Excellencies Strange psychological fact Study and 
appreciation of other systems Political views Imagination 
Emotional nature Transformation Dogmatic spirit ^Es 
thetic culture Views of music, oratory, poetry, and genius 
Reading Library Depreciation of history Polymathist. 

IN his small, lean body and capacious mind we have a 
symbol of Kant s physical and intellectual interests 
and relations. This gives the point of view from 
winch the man himself and his whole life must be 
considered. His intellectuality almost amounted to a 
passion ; and history furnishes few examples of men 
whose minds were so completely on the throne, and 
were so absolute in their sway as to subject the whole 
being to their supremacy. If the sovereignty of the 
intellectual was ever disputed, it was only by his 
moral interests and tendencies. That these were 
potent factors is as evident from his profoundest meta 
physical as from his ethical works ; and both the pur 
pose and the result of the " Kritik " are practical. In 
contrasting the theoretical with the practical, he docs 
not hesitate to give the latter a decided preference ; 


ho places the practical reason above the speculative, 
and morality is the culmination of his whole philo 
sophy. Owing to his undisputed supremacy in meta 
physical abstractions, the relation of his thoughts, his 
works, and his life, to realities is generally overlooked. 
While this is a serious mistake in forming an estimate 
of his philosophy, it is still more serious in considering 
the man himself. But while recognizing the union of 
the abstract and the concrete, of the theoretical and 
the practical, we nevertheless find that his exaltation 
of the practical and the moral is chiefly intellectual, 
lie, indeed, applied his moral rules to himself, both for 
the formation of his character and for the government 
oLhis life, and his success was remarkable ; yet, taking 
his life as a whole, we find that the intellect was his 
domain, that the study was his home, and that thought 
was to him the essence of life. As far as morality is 
concerned, he was chiefly intent on finding for it a 
firm basis and on giving an intellectual system of the 
theory of practice. When the theory was found, its 
practical application was for Kant a matter of course. 
His speculations have been made the basis of morals, 
as well as of philosophical systems, and his works arc 
rich in theories which admit of important practical 
applications; and his disciples have applied them to 
various departments of life, making applications, even, 
of which Kant never thought. While, however, there 
is so much in Kant which belongs to the practical and 
to morals, the intellect must be viewed as the focus of 
his being. Now it takes a purely speculative turn, 
then it deals with physics or with mathematics; now 
it contemplates theology, then morality ; bnl whatever 
the subject may be, he lifts it into the region of the 


intellect, and there disposes of it. In the ordinary 
sense, he was certainly not a practical man ; but it 
may be said that he was speculatively practical, or if 
it did not seem too paradoxical, that he was theo 
retically practical. An expression of Kant himself 
indicates the deepest tendency of his being.: " I am an 
investigator from inclination. I feel a burning thirst 
for knowledge and eager unrest to make progress in 
it, but also gratification with every advance." 

In examining his mental faculties, we find that his 
memory was prodigious. Professor Kraus says that it 
was " incredibly strong ;" and another acquaintance 
states, " His memory is astonishing. Even now, in his 
old age, when free from physical pain, he remembers 
perfectly all he has read on a subject." This exaggera 
tion shows how remarkably retentive his memory must 
have been, as otherwise it could not have made such 
an impression. Late in life, when he readily forgot 
recent impressions, he still remembered earlier ones, 
and could correctly and easily repeat long passages 
from favourite authors. Professor Knutzen delivered 
lectures on mnemonics, which may have aided him in 
the development of this faculty ; and in his Pedagogics, 
Kant specially commends a system of mnemonics. He 
admonishes teachers to be particularly careful to 
cultivate the memory of their pupils, an evidence of 
the importance he attached to this faculty. To secure 
this end, he thinks the memory should be occupied only 
with important objects, such as are worthy of being 
remembered. Consequently, he pronounces the read 
ing of novels injurious to children ; it weakens the 
memory, since the novel is intended only for amuse 
ment, not for retention in the memory or for repetition. 

MEMORY. 100 

It would be ridiculous to desire to remember novels and 
relate them to others. Therefore all novels ought to 
be taken from children." It should be remembered 
that both in character and in literary importance the 
novel of the eighteenth century differed greatly from 
the better class of more recent works of fiction. 
Being himself a master of method, he advised his 
students so to classify their knowledge as to be able 
at once to place what they learned into its o\vn 
department, because this would not merely aid them 
to systematize, but also to retain their knowledge. 

His forgetf ulness of ordinary affairs, which has 
been mentioned, arose largely from the fact that they 
did not much interest him or attract his attention. It 
was altogether different with the subjects which he 
studied. He was interested not merely in principles 
but also in details; and as he had an excellent memory 
for words and events, as well as for thoughts, his 
knowledge was exact as well as comprehensive. 
Jachmann, who suggests that his study of mathematics 
probably developed this exactness, gives some illustra 
tions of his memory for details. Once he described 
Westminster Bridge in the presence of a resident of 
London, giving its form, its dimensions, and the 
arrangement of its parts, so accurately and minutely, 
that the Englishman inquired how many years he had 
lived in London, and whether he had devoted himself 
especially to architecture? With surprise lie learned 
that Kant had never been outside of the province. On 
another occasion he spoke so familiarly about Italy 
with an Italian, that he was asked how long lie had 
resided there? When already sixty years old, he 
devoted himself with threat zeal to the study of 


chemistry, and so completely did he master the 
nomenclature and the details of experiments made by 
others, that he gave an exact account of some of these 
experiments in a conversation with an eminent 
chemist. Surprised at the accuracy of the details, the 
chemist exclaimed that he did not see how it was 
possible for any one to understand experimental 
chemistry so perfectly without having made or seen 
any experiments. 

While Kant certainly cannot be classed with those 
who depreciate memory in order to exalt speculative 
thought more highly, he did not place a high 
estimate on learning unless connected with reflection 


and sound judgment. Memory was to him but the 
storehouse in which are deposited the materials for 
reflection. He himself combined vast learning with 
profound philosophical acumen ; and with his metaphy 
sical mind he could not value highly erudition without 
philosophic insight. His "Anthropology" says, " There 
is gigantic learning which is frequently found to be 
cyclopean it lacks one eye." And in his " Pedagogics," 
he calls those who have a good memory, but little 
judgment, " the asses of Parnassus," which are useful 
in carrying material for others, even if they themselves 
construct nothing valuable. 

The character of Kant s judgment may be inferred 
from the fact that mathematics was a favourite study, 
that he criticized systems of metaphysics and generally 
accepted methods of logic, and that he subjected the 
reason itself to the most searching critique in the 
history of philosophy. Where others were satisfied 
with probability, he demanded certainty ; he under 
mined arguments which had withstood the attacks of 

JUDGMENT. 1 1 1 

centuries ; and where others fell back on intuition and 
on propositions held as self-evident, he demanded 
mathematical demonstration. No one knew better 
than he that the problems of mathematics are entirely 
different fromthoseof philosophy, and that consequently 
the method of the one should not be adopted by the 
other, and for this reason he opposed the method of 
the AVolfmn philosophy; but at the same time he 
aimed to secure for philosophy all the possible 
definiteness and certainty of mathematics. A philo 
sophical writer says, " Kant s purely logical contempla 
tions were easily connected with the mathematical, 
to which they were intimately related ;" and of his 
system he says that it is permeated by a logical, 
mathematical spirit. ( 5U ) In his criticisms, Kant aimed 
to make his judgment pure; that is, free from the 
influence of authority, prejudice, and emotion. He 
regarded it as the first requisite of a philosopher that 
he be consequent ; and we find that he resolutely 
and remorselessly follows the dictates of his reason, 
equally regardless of the authority he destroys, and of 
the practical consequences. Without looking backward, 
forward, or aside, his critical spirit moves on as coldly 
and resistlessly as fate; and he was, what Mendelssohn 
called him, "the all-destroying one" (der Alles 

Hut Kant s judgment was slow in its decisions. He 
admired the readiness with which an acquaintance, 
who was a judge, decided complicated questions, 
stating that he could not do it so readily. \Ve can 
understand this slowness, when we consider with what 
thoroughness he investigated problems. A judgment 
mav be quick because superficial or ignorant ; Kant s 


was slow because so deep and learned and scrupulously 
careful. He was accustomed to view an argument from 
all points and in every possible light, to see whether 
it could stand the severest tests. This required time; 
and haste in the solution of problems such as he 
investigated, might have proved fatal to his whole 
philosophy. His dread of error, and the earnest desire 
to make his position impregnable, made him slow and 
cautious. Convinced that this is the only safe course, 
he says, " To move with rapid steps in undertakings 
which lead to a great and remote goal, has at all times 
been disadvantageous to a thorough insight." Much 
of his life was spent in plodding, and in digging at the 
roots of thought to find their last and deepest fibres. 
This work required great care and clear discrimination, 
and it was necessarily slow ; but it was thorough, and 
has produced lasting results. 

Closely connected with the critical spirit which con 
trolled his judgment, was his bitter opposition to dog 
matism, whether found in philosophy or in religion ; it 
almost seems as if he personified it and then pursued it 
with a personal hatred. His own earlier entanglement 
in its meshes may have contributed to inspire his kter 
animosity. He defines as dogmatism all positive 
assertions without preceding criticism ; or " a general 
confidence in principles without a previous criticism 
of the power cf the reason itself." Scepticism, the 
opposite of dogmatism, is a general mistrust of reason 
without such criticism. It was his hope that he might 
destroy dogmatism by his "Kritik," and he says, " This 
is certain : whoever has tasted critique is for ever dis 
gusted with all the dogmatic products with which he 
was formerly obliged to content himself because his 

PRE.JUPK K. 113 

reason needed something and discovered nothing 
better for its entertainment." An arrogant tone was 
intolerable to him, and he rebuked it severely. 

Kant himself, however, was considerable of a dog 
matist, but in a sense different from his definition of 
the word ; that is, after making such a criticism as he 
demands, he makes assertions of the most dogmatic 
character. He wants all to think for themselves ; and 
yet his tone is at times such as to leave the impression 
that he thinks he has so absolutely settled certain 
points that henceforth they cannot be questioned. 
Perhaps tins is necessary in a system ; then it proves 
that a certain dogmatic spirit is unavoidable. Even this 
expression escapes him in his " Prolegomena," " I am 
security for the correctness of all these proofs ;" just as 
if one can be such an authority for another as to make 
the investigation of the processes which lead to cer 
tain conclusions unnecessary. His dogmatism was, of 
course, that of a mind conscious of its strength, very 
conscientious in its processes, and perfectly convinced 
of the correctness of its conclusions. Compared with 
many of his professed disciples and also with some of 
the later philosophers, Kant is very moderate in the 
use of that intolerable spirit in metaphysics which 
regards its own system as the absolute philosophy, and 
which has done so much to bring metaphysical in 
vestigations into disrepute. He himself published a 
brochure against the aristocratic tone which was 
beginning to be heard in philosophy. ( M ) 

Prejudice he treated with a bitterness similar to 
that directed against dogmatism. In his first book he 
speaks of the great number over whom prejudice and 
the authority of eminent persons have 


dominion." At the age of forty-two he wrote, " I 
have purified my soul from all prejudices ; I have 
destroyed every blind devotion which ever crept into 
my mind for the purpose of creating in me much 
imaginary knowledge. Now I esteem nothing as of 
consequence or worthy of respect except what honestly 
takes its place in a mind which is calm and accessible 
to all evidences, whether confirmative or destructive of 
my former opinions. Wherever I find anything that 
instructs me, I accept it. The verdict of the man 
who refutes my arguments is my verdict after I have 
weighed it against self-love and my reasons, and then 
have found its evidence the stronger. Formerly I 
viewed the common human understanding only from 
the standpoint of my own ; now I put myself in the 
place of a reason foreign to me and outside of me, and 
view my opinions, together with their most secret 
occasions, from the standpoint of others." 

But with all his efforts, he could not wholly free 
his mind from bias, and this he himself admits. " I 
do not find that any dependence whatever on my part, 
or that any inclination before the investigation, deprives 
my mind of that receptivity which tries all the reasons 
pro and con, one only excepted. The scales of the 
understanding are not entirely impartial, and one arm 
bearing the inscription, The hope of the future, has a 
mechanical advantage, as a consequence of which even 
light reasons which fall on the scale on that side 
raise speculations of much greater weight placed on 
the other scale. This is the only inaccuracy which I 
cannot well remove, and which, in fact, I shall never 
want to remove." (") 

His dislike of every species of fanaticism must be 


put in the same category with his opposition to dog 
matism and prejudice; and the book just quoted gives 
striking instances of this aversion. It is directed 
mainly against Swedenborg, and is a compound of 
logic and ridicule aimed at superstition. Ho says, 
" I do not blame the reader if instead of regarding the 
ghost-seers as semi-citizens of another world, he treats 
them summarily as candidates for an asylum, and thus 
relieves himself of all further need of investigation." 
Whilst he thus advises others to deal with superstition 
or fanaticism in a summary manner, he carried his own 
rule into practice. A man who was generally reliable 
once told him a ghost story, namely, that he had heard 
something walk with a tread as heavy as if made by 
iron. Kant coolly asked him whether he was willing 
to attest the story with an oath? This led the man 
to reflection, and he admitted that it was possible that 
he himself had not heard the steps, but that the story 
had been related to him by others. At another time 
J. II. Schoenherr, who had a peculiar theosophy, went 
to Kant to call his attention to the defects of the 
Critical Philosophy, and to reveal to him his own 
theosophic views. He told the philosopher that man 
was made and preserved by two primitive beings, 
namely the primitive Light and the primitive Water. 
Kant replied, " If that is the case, man ought to bo 
able to live on light and water." The theosophist 
answered that this is possible. The philosopher 
advised him to try it, and if he succeeded, to let his 
success be the proof of his theory. It is said that 
Schoenherr did try it for some days, arid was convinced 
by the experiment that his theory was false. 

In spite of his desire to be impartial, he was too 


much influenced by his surroundings to be entirely 
successful ; and even Kant was in many respects the 
creature of his age and a partaker of its prejudices. 
It is natural that this should have been the case par 
ticularly with matters which he had not made subjects 
of special investigation. Hamann, after the "Kritik " 
had given its author celebrity, wrote, " Kant is a man 
of great talents, as well as of good and noble dis 
position, who permits himself to be greatly influenced 
by prejudices, but who is not ashamed to recall and 
renounce them ; it is only necessary to give him time 
to reflect. He rather talks than listens. On account 
of his system and the fame gained thereby, he is at 
present the more ticklish and the more opinionated, 
which you yourself can easily understand. This is 
not wholly his fault, but chiefly that of the dear public ; 
therefore he cannot be blamed for it altogether." 

With all his liberalism in religion, he did not rise 
above the prevalent prejudice against the Jews, which 
is the more surprising because Moses Mendelssohn was 
at the summit of his fame, and Marcus Herz, a Jewish 
physician in Berlin, was one of Kant s favourite pupils 
and most intimate friends. In Kb nigsberg the pre 
judice against this people was so general that the 
Englishman Motherby, a warm friend of Kant, is said 
to have been the only one who was superior to it. 
" Motherby esteemed in the Jew the man, and despised 
the Jew in the Christian." When Lessing s " Nathan 
the Wise " appeared, Hamann wrote, " Last week I 
read the first ten sheets of Nathan, and enjoyed them 
exceedingly. Kant, who received them from Berlin, 
pronounced them only the second part of The Jews/ 
and will admit no hero among this people. So fear- 


fully severe is our philosophy in its prejudices, with 
all its tolerance and impartiality ! " Although he could 
not free himself from the influence of his immediate 
surroundings respecting ordinary affairs and questions 
of the day, it was different with philosophical questions ; 
in their investigation he was remarkably successful in 
freeing himself from the influence of authority and of 
his own preferences. As a philosopher, he was im 
pelled by the love of truth, and everywhere it was the 
only object of his search. 

In power of analysis Aristotle and Kant have a 
pre-eminence which is almost solitary ; and it is this 
power which contributed so largely to the influence of 
the one in Greek and the other in German philosophy. 
It would be interesting to draw a parallel between 
Kant and Aristotle, on the one hand, and between the 
German metaphysician and Plato, on the other, for 
Kant united prominent characteristics of both ; though 
it would be unjust to the Greek philosophers not to 
admit that in some respects he was surpassed by Plato 
and in others by Aristotle. While there is much in 
Kant which suggests the idealistic philosopher of the, 
G reeks, there is also much which suggests the mar 
vellous analytical power of the great Peripatetic philo 
sopher. Kant of course applies this power chiefly 
to the operations of the mind. He makes discrimina 
tions where the ordinary understanding sees no dis 
tinctions, and where even speculative minds find it 
difficult to follow him in his dissecting and dis 
tinguishing processes. Hainann calls his acumen 
(Scharfsinn) his " evil demon." He readily analyzed 
his own thoughts and those of others ; and in his 
critical works this power becomes very evident in 


testing arguments and in exposing fallacies. ( 53 ) The 
extreme difficulty in following him in his distinctions has 
been the occasion of many conflicting views respecting 
his meaning. It is said that the power which forsook 
him last was that of analyzing thoughts and tracing 
them to their sources. 

His power of synthesis is closely connected with the 
analytic. In following thought from its genesis to its 
ultimate consequences, he observed close analogies as 
well as nice distinctions ; but the synthetic power is less 
apparent in his works than the analytic. The former 
might have been more manifest if he had retained his 
mental vigour long enough to complete the last work 
on which he laboured, which was intended to embody 
and complete, in a final system, the result of all his 
speculations. As that was not finished, he gave the 
world preparations for metaphysics, not the system 
itself. But according to the a Kritik," a complete 
scientific synthesis is impossible; for while we may use 
the ideas of God, of the Spirit, and of the Cosmos, 
practically, we dare not use them speculatively or 
scientifically. We have phenomena in nature, and we can 
discover their laws, and these are objects of science ; 
but the idea of a cosmos, the synthesis of all natural 
laws and phenomena, is speculatively impossible. His 
conclusion respecting man is the same. Thought and 
its laws are subjects for philosophical inquiry ; but the 
idea of the spirit, in which these inhere, while prac 
tically very useful, cannot be used speculatively. The 
same is true of the idea of God, the final and absolute 
synthesis. For practical purposes this idea is necessary ; 
but speculatively it, as well as that of the cosmos and 
that of the spirit, is involved in inextricable difficulties 

HUMOUR. 119 

and in contradictions. The very conclusions of the 
Critical Philosophy thus deny the possibility of a 
complete synthesis; it is therefore not surprising that its 
strength is seen chiefly in its analytic processes. Not 
only is this power of analysis seen in the separation 
of heterogeneous elements, but also in distinguishing 
those which are analogous but not alike. It is this 
which enabled Kant to detect error so readily, and 
which made him the great critic. However much 
ardent Kantians may resist the conclusion, the final 
verdict will probably be, that the Critical Philosopher 
was greater in what he destroyed than in what he 
scientifically constructed. 

With his quick perception of analogies and contrasts, 
it is natural that he should have had a keen perception 
of the ludicrous. He quickly observed the incongruous 
and the paradoxical, and they furnished him sport 
and relaxation. In his books and conversations we 
find him frequently leaving his serious contemplations, 
to ridicule foibles and follies, and to promote cheer 
fulness with his pleasantry. His book against 
Swedenborg is the most striking illustration of his 
union of profound and serious contemplation with 
humour and ridicule: and the union is so complete 
that there is danger of taking the one for the other. 
Bouterwek suggests that it might be worth while to 
show how many thoughts used sportively by Kant 
were regarded by his disciples as scientific judgments 
which they seriously commented and illustrated. He 
was particularly fond of humorous works, and in the 
last years of his life he read in Lichtenberg s books 
and marked the passages which specially pleased him. 
His praise of satire was extravagant, and in speaking 


of its influence he declared " that no metaphysician 
could do as much good in the world as Erasmus of 
Rotterdam and the celebrated Montaigne of France 
had accomplished. He also recommended the Essays 
of the latter for constant reading ; he himself could 
repeat many passages from them. In the department 
of belles-lettres he read satirical books with a marked 
preference, such as Swift s works, Butler s " Hudibras," 
and " Don Quixote." But he rarely laughed, and 
admitted that this was a defect in his nature. He 
thought laughing a blessing for children, as it tends 
to make their disposition more cheerful. Whenever 
persons indulged in a, laugh, he wanted it to be 
harmless and good-natured, not at the expense of 
one who was wounded thereby, though he admitted 
that one may be the occasion of a laugh without being 
laughed at. Concerning empty and silly laughter, he 
said, " A mechanical laugh is superficial and makes 
society insipid ; " but he also added, " He who does 
not laugh at all is morose or pedantic." 

Kant had a keen appreciation of wit and was him 
self witty. " His wit was easy, merry, ingenious. 
There were lightning flashes of wit, which played in 
the serene heavens and illuminated his lectures as well 
as his conversations." In his " Anthropology " he de 
fines wit as the power that couples and assimilates hete 
rogeneous ideas which, according to the law of asso 
ciation, are remote from each other ; it is the peculiar 
ability to liken things which are diverse. He says, 
" It is agreeable, pleasing, and cheering, to discover 
similarities among things dissimilar, and thus to give, 
as wit does, the understanding material to make its 
ideas general." Wit is play, judgment is work. " Wit 


is rather a flower of youth ; judgment more the ripe 
fruit of age." Being a special talent, it cannot he 
learned in the schools. In puns, wit is superficial. 

In speaking of his physical condition, his power of 
abstraction, which enabled him to conquer pain, was 
mentioned. In his critical works it is seen in a 
marvellous degree ; and in abstract metaphysical 
speculations, where others are lost in inextricable 
confusion, he is perfectly at home. But at the same 
time we have seen that he was frequently subject to 
distractions, especially in his lectures. Sometimes in 
the development of a subject he lost sight of the main 
thought ; then he would suddenly end the digression, 
and again resume the consideration of that thought. 
This wandering in his lectures made it difficult to follow 
him ; and there are similar digressions in his works 
which increase their obscurity. In his letter to Hufe- 
land he states that his thoughts were subject to 
distractions which were very painful to him; and that 
while speaking he would sometimes ask himself 
quietly or his hearers, " Where was I ? From what 
point did I start? " He thinks that this tendency to 
distraction may be somewhat diminished, but that with 
all possible efforts it cannot be wholly avoided. 

If greatness is measured by originality and by the 
contribution of new thoughts to the stock of human 
knowledge, Kant must be placed very high. " Every 
where he wanted to go his own way." This originality 
is seen in his methods as well as in his thoughts; and 
even when he reproduces the views of others, Kant is 
seen in them. Never satisfied with looking at the 
surface of things, but ever striving to penetrate objects 
and to get behind them, we find that every subject 

122 Till-! L1FK OF I MM AN Ufa KANT. 

which ho considers, receives the peculiar impress of 
his spirit. By giving the leaven of his own mind to a 
subject, thus making his discussion of it thoroughly 
Kantian, he made his books so suggestive and his 
philosophy such a revolutionary power. His originality 
is especially seen in his cosmogony, his moral philo 
sophy, and in his aesthetical views in the " Critique 
of the Judgment;" and the " Kritik " teems with ori 
ginal thoughts, such as the distinction between sensa 
tion and understanding, the views of time and space, 
and the categories, while the method of the book, as 
well as the subject, is altogether his own. Whether 
we consider the destructive elements in the speculative 
portions of the book, or the constructive elements in 
its more practical parts and in his ethical works, this 
originality is striking. It is not surprising that with 
his creative mind he produced so grand an epoch in 

The superiority of Kant s mind is universally 
admitted. While some of its powers were more marked 
than others, and are worthy of special mention, there 
was, nevertheless, rather a union of excellencies than 
the solitary prominence of a single faculty. The 
philosopher Herbart says of Kant s mental charac 
teristics : "With this depth, so much learning; with 
this extreme delicacy of moral feeling, so much clear, 
sound understanding ; with this ability to grasp what 
ever is greatest and remotest, such great calmness of 
mind, such accuracy in details, such moderation, such 
critical self-control ! " W. von Humboldt, who was 
induced by Schiller to study the Critical Philosophy, 
\vas astonished at the greatness of intellect revealed 
in it, and says of its author, " Kant undertook and 


accomplished the greatest work for which the philo 
sophical reason will probably ever be indebted to one 
man. He tested and sifted the entire philosophical 
process in such a way as obliged him to meet the 
philosophers of all times and nations ; he measured, 
limited, and smoothed the basis of this process ; he 
destroyed the false structures built on this basis. And 
after completing this work, he established principles 
whose philosophical analysis often agreed with 
common sense, which had frequently been led astray 
or ignored in the former systems. In the truest 
sense, he led philosophy back into the depth of the 
human heart. In the fullest sense, he possessed 
everything which characterizes the great thinker, and 
united in himself gifts which ordinarily seem to be 
opposed to each other ; namely, profundity and acumen, 
a dialectic power which was probably never surpassed, 
while at the same time he did not depreciate that truth 
which the dialectic process could not discover ; and he 
also had that philosophic genius which spins out and 
holds together, by means of the unity of the idea, the 
threads of an extensive web of conceptions running in 
all directions, a genius without which there can be 
no philosophical system." Jean Paul says, " Kant 
is no planet, but an entire solar system radiating 


While the intellectual character and development of 
Kant are full of interest to the student of the mind, 
there are some psychological facts which are worthy 
of special study. It is a strange fact that in the course 
of time his mind became so wholly absorbed by his own 
philosophy that, as a seeming penalty, he became 
unable to appreciate the speculations of others. The 


supreme concentration of his mind on the " Kritik " and 
the works which followed, made him lose himself in 
his own reflections, so that he could not find his way 
out, and at last it became impossible for him to place 
himself on the standpoint of other thinkers. This fact 
was too striking and too surprising to escape the 
notice of his friends, and Jachmann wrote, " Every 
person will admit that Kant s intellectual powers were 
original in the highest degree, and if ever a philosopher 
went a new and untrodden way, it was Kant. I must, 
however, make a few remarks about the originality of 
his intellect. The richness of his own mind in thought, 
and the habitual ease with which he drew all philo 
sophical ideas from the inexhaustible fountain of his 
own reason, brought it to pass that at last Kant 
scarcely comprehended any one except himself. 
Understand me correctly ; I speak of abstract philo 
sophical conceptions. He who was an original thinker 
in the most peculiar sense of the word, found everything 
in himself, and thus lost the ability to find anything in 
others. At the very time when his mental powers 
had attained their highest development, namely, when 
he worked out his Critical Philosophy, nothing was 
more difficult for him than to appreciate the system of 
another. Even the writings of his opponents he could 
understand only with the greatest difficulty, since he 
found it impossible to leave, for any length of time, 
his own system of thought. He was aware of this 
difficulty, and therefore generally requested his friends 
to read other systems and communicate to him the 
relation of their principal contents to his own views. 
The consciousness of his inability to comprehend views 
foi eign to his own may account for the fact that he 


left it to his disciples and friends to defend his philo 
sophy against the attacks of his opponents." 

Kant makes repeated reference to this strange 
effect of his long introspection and of the intense 
concentration of his mind on his own philosophy. 
When he was sixty-six years old, he wrote to his 
friend Herz that in his advanced age he cannot well 
succeed in understanding purely speculative thought, 
foreign to himself, but is obliged to let himself go his 
own way in the track he has followed for many years. 
Four years later, he says that he can think well yet, 
but that he finds it difficult to appreciate another 
person s train of thought, and attributes this inability 
partly to his physical condition. He asserts that he 
does not understand what Maimon means with his 
proposed improvement of the Critical Philosophy, 
and that he must leave it to others to refute his views. 
When Kant was only sixty-one, four years after the 
" Kritik " appeared, Hamann wrote to Herder, " Kant 
is too full of his own system to judge yours impar 
tially." For many years he was so absorbed in evolving 
his own philosophy, that he had neither time nor 
inclination to study other systems ; and the result 
was an unusual intellectual exclusiveness and isolation. 
After he had elaborated the critical system, that 
community of thought which generally exists among 
scholars, ceased in his case ; he could still give to 
others, but he could take their peculiar views only by 
doing violence to himself, llink states that after his 
great works were published, Kant knew what other 
thinkers had produced only through fragments, and 
that consequently he did not properly estimate their 
views, not even in those cases where he held 


notions which, if developed, would have led to the 
same conclusions. Kuno Fischer says, " In general, 
the accuracy of Kant s apprehension of systems foreign 
to his own is questionable. He was so occupied with 
his own thoughts that he found it difficult to appreciate 
the spirit of another philosophy ; in old age he found it 
altogether impossible." 

Authors are generally desirous of learning what is 
thought of their works, and they frequently find the 
criticism of scholars suggestive of improvements ; 
but after the " Kritik " appeared, Kant, as a rule, did 
not even read what was written for or against his 
views. That this was not the result of indifference to 
the influence of his philosophy, or to the relation sus 
tained to it by philosophical thinkers, is proved by 
his letters and his sensitiveness with reference to 
adverse criticism. Sometimes he made arrangements 
to have his friends reply to the attacks on his system, 
and he was anxious that the answers should not be too 
mild. But his own speculations absorbed his atten 
tion too much, to consider seriously the confirmation 
or refutation of his works by reviewers : and after the 
" Kritik" became celebrated, it was the occasion of so 
many works, both favourable and unfavourable, that 
it would have consumed entirely too much time if he 
had read all of them. Even if Kant had taken a 
deeper interest in the discussions occasioned by his 
philosophy, it would not have been surprising if he had 
become tired of the extensive Kantian literature pro 
duced between 1786 and the close of the century. 
His confidence in the principles of his philosophy and 
in their final success may have made him less concerned 
about the opinions of cotemporaries. And it should 


also be considered that he was incessantly labouring 
to complete the works he had planned, and that atten 
tion to other matters might have interfered with this 
aim. Hamann took a deeper interest in the relation 
of scholars to the Kantian philosophy than its author. 
At one time Kant sent him three publications against 
his philosophy, which he had not thought it worth 
while to read himself ; so, as he said, he turned them 
over to " the inquisitive old man." Kant was vexed 
that they had come to him without a letter, and 
because he had been obliged to pay the postage. 

The fact that Kant wove a web around himself, 
which lie could not break, and thus imprisoned him 
self in liis own system, enables us to understand ex 
pressions which otherwise seem inexplicable. Ilippel 
makes this statement, " Kant repeatedly said, I do 
not understand the catechism, but I understood it for 
merly. "( 51 ) And he adds, " Kant also said that he could 
not understand Montesquieu;" which is the more re 
markable because he had been a favourite author. lint 
not only did In 4 , later in life, fail to appreciate the authors 
he read ; he never made the study of the philosophical 
works of his predecessors such a speciality as his pre 
ference for metaphysics would lead one to expect. In 
his works he repeatedly speaks of other systems of 
philosophy in such a way as to make the impression 
on some of his cotemporaries that he depreciated them 
for the purpose of exalting his own, a charge which is 
no doubt unjust. lie admitted that he understood 
neither Spinoza nor Jacobi s explanation of his sys 
tem ; ( ) and he also acknowledged that lie had never 
studied Spinoza carefully. ( 5r> ) As he habitually went 
to his own mind for his principles, and evolved his 


system from them, it is not strange that he sometimes 
imagined a thought to be original, when the thought 
itself, or at least its germ, had already been given by 
another. Kuno Fischer, who has carefully studied 
Kant s relation to his predecessors, and cannot be 
charged with a want of admiration for him, says, 
" He knew Leibnitz only after the manner of the 
Wolfians, and Spinoza, as it were, not at all. The 
scholastics were outside of the range of his studies. 
He constantly apprehended and judged the Greek 
systems according to their most general charac 
teristics ; and even in these he frequently misses the 
mark, Plato and Aristotle not excepted. When he 
cites the doctrines of the ancients, he groups them 
more to suit his convenience than according to their 
peculiar order." While this neglect of other philoso 
phies may have prevented him from doing them justice, 
it did not seriously interfere with the development of 
his own system. The writer just quoted adds, " We 
mention this defect once for all, in order not to revert 
to it again. As far as the merit and the philosophy of 
Kant are concerned, it is of little importance, and really 
of no influence. In a certain sense it is even an ad 
vantage to his cause. The task which Kant pursued 
had to be accomplished through his own efforts, and 
the most thorough knowledge of the preceding 
philosophies could not have aided him in its perform 
ance." In his works Kant gives a summary of the 
history of philosophy, which he used in his lectures ; 
it is extremely meagre, occupying only about eight 

Kant was too deeply interested in individuals and 
nations to neglect politics, and in his old age he was 


engaged in planning a book on the subject. ( 5r ) From 
his views of the freedom and dignity of man, it is evi 
dent that he would oppose all forms of despotism. 
But lie did not think a mere revolution capable of 
freeing a people from tyranny ; for while it may re 
move personal despotism and many other evils, it can 
not change the mode of thinking. Unless the masses 
are enlightened, there can be no real freedom; new 
prejudices will be added to the old ones, and the people 
will be under their dominion. The freedom of the 
press will, however, promote the needed enlightenment. 
He sympathized with the American colonies in their 
war with England, and took a deep interest in the 
French Revolution, from which he expected great 
benefits, and which he defended zealously, even when 
it was very unpopular in Kb nigsberg. Although his 
advocacy of that cause gave offence, he was too much 
accustomed to have his own way to let the opinions 
of others interfere seriously with the free expression 
of his own in company. For a long time even the 
atrocities perpetrated in France did not alter his 
opinion, and he still advocated the cause of the 
Revolution when Burke, and many other of its early 
friends, saw and denounced the pernicious tendencies 
of the movement. 

Kant based his political views largely on Montes 
quieu, and advocated the strict separation of the 
legislative, the judicial, and the executive functions. 
II<- denounced Pitt s course, because he believed that 
this statesman was promoting the encroachment of the 
legislative on the executive power, and he did not 
hesitate to declare that his policy tended to barbarism. 

In his opinion, the people ought to have a voice in 


the legislative body, and for this reason he favoured 
the American colonists in their dispute with England. 
At the beginning of the French Revolution he hoped 
to see the realization of the desired separation of the 
three functions of government ; when his confidence 
was, however, at last shaken, he opposed the new 
despotism as anarchy allied with atrocious passion and 
bloody barbarity. After this his tone was changed, 
and he defended more vigorously the prerogatives of 
rulers, and spoke less emphatically in favour of the 
rights of subjects. Formerly he had spoken of subjects 
aa if they had rights which they might defend against 
rulers ; now his language implied that all opposition 
to the existing authorities is wrong ; formerly he had 
defended the Revolution with a degree of passion ; now 
he spoke of revolutionists as if they were criminals 
and even traitors ; and if there had been protests 
against his former views on the part of royalists, now 
he met with opposition from the advocates of freedom. 
In his brochure on Eternal Peace, published in 1795, 
Kant wants to introduce his exalted moral principles 
into politics, both in national and international affairs. 
In legislation as well as in the execution of the laws, 
the controlling principle ought to be right, instead of 
expediency. Freedom and equality should prevail 
because they are right, and selfishness or happiness 
should not be the motive of their advocacy. Kant 
holds that the Categorical Imperative is the supreme 
law in politics as well as in private morality ; and he 
gives this maxim to the politicians who seek to pro 
mote eternal peace : " Seek ye first the kingdom of 
the Practical Reason and its righteousness, and the end 
you seek (the blessing of eternal peace) shall be added 


unto you." In order that war may be avoided, be 
advocates the formation of a federation of states 
(/a *// * pacificum) for the settlement of the disputes 
which may arise between them. While at first only a 
Pew states may join this federation or league, its aim 
should be to extend its influence until it embraces all 
states, and thus puts an end to war. He attaches less 
importance to the form of government than to the 
supremacy of law, the real sovereign to which the ruler 
and the ruled are alike subject. This pamphlet was 
very popular, and was translated into several foreign 

Kant was not a poet, though he composed a few 
blank verses on the occasion of the death of colleagues 
in the university. Their poetic value is small; they 
contain no flights of imagination, and reveal neither 
enthusiasm nor inspiration. They are didactic com 
positions which present good moral thoughts in the 
form of blank verse. ( 5S ) It would, however, be a mis 
take to suppose that imagination and enthusiasm were 
foreign to his nature, an impression which is favoured 
by his cold metaphysical works. In old age, after he 
had encased himself in his philosophy, this was largely 
the case, though even then some subjects, especially 
moral ones, kindled his enthusiasm. In his early man 
hood there were many evidences of an enthusiastic 
nature, though his admirable self-control and his 
effort to subject everything to reason might interfere 
with its free exercise. His fondness for the Latin 
poets leads us to suspect a strong imagination and its 
special culture until he entered the university. While 
he was afraid to give a loose rein to the imagination 
when advanced in years, in his earlier productions, 


especially in his cosmogony, this faculty sometimes 
gets the mastery over dry theories and mathematical 
calculations. Aside from the Latin classics, however, 
his studies were mostly such as were calculated to 
curb the imagination ; and neither the Wolfian philo 
sophy, in which he was trained, nor the one which 
he himself developed, was calculated to promote its 
cultivation. Bouterwek writes, " It is certain that 
this speculative mind, with its strivings after pure 
knowledge, was afraid of the imagination and its 
inventions, just as if he had been a "Wolfian." In his 
efforts to attain mathematical certainty he demon 
strated the imagination away ; but the dry, logical, 
unimaginative Kant of later years was not a product of 
nature, but of discipline. 

What has been said of his imagination is essentially 
true also of his emotional nature. Kant feared that 
feeling might interfere with the working of the intellect, 
and prevent the attainment of that pure knowledge 
which he sought. Even in morals and religion he 
treats the emotions, those of a nobler kind not 
excepted, as a hindrance rather than a help. The 
emotional religious influences of his youth and the 
general sentimentality of the times no doubt promoted 
this depreciation of feeling. He saw the injurious in 
fluences of extravagance and fanaticism, and liked to 
present the antidotes to the evils of the day as 
strikingly as possible; it is no wonder, then, if one 
extreme led him to another. It was an age fond of 
extravagant expressions of love and friendship, an age 
of kisses and sighs and tears ; and he was a mortal 
enemy of all affectation and sentimentality. His fear 
of the influence of the emotions was also promoted by 


tlic fact that lie regarded the prevalent errors in 
philosophy as largely the product of prejudice and 
feeling, and their removal as possible only through 
pnro reason. 

His writings impressed some of his contemporaries 
with the belief that Kant was heartless ; and one of 
them calls attention to the fact that in his letter to 
Hnfeland he stated that he had succeeded in so com 
pletely separating his head from his chest that the 
oppression of the latter does not affect the former. 
This was a revelation to him respecting the head 
products of Kant, and in a letter he says, " Let us 
rejoice, my dear friend, that in our case head and 
heart still go together." This separation of the 
head from the heart is striking even in works where 
it might be expected that prominence would be given 
to the feelings. Soon after Kant s death an author 
wrote, " The cold understanding was the ruling power 
in Kant s unwearied mind ; he did not even trust 
enthusiasm in those cases where a noble emotion, in 
stead of depressing, arouses the power of thought. 
Respecting the dignity of man, Kant felt a powerful 
inspiration only when some moral interest was con 
nected with the pure contemplations. ... All violent 
emotions, in the possession of which many think them 
selves great, had something petty in Kant s eyes." And 
he adds, " Not a little did this intellectual coldness 
contribute to the imposing authority which the Kantian 
philosophy gained among the cold Germans. "(~ J ) 

In considering this subject, however, we must dis 
criminate between the utterances of the youthful and 
the aged Kant, both as found in his lectures and in his 
books. Knowing his own later aversion to enthusiasm, 


it seems hardly possible that he could have been the 
author of the following : " Whoever is more powerfully 
inspired by a moral emotion as a principle than others, 
on account of their cold and often ignoble heart, are 
able to appreciate, is, in their estimation, an enthu 
siast;" and this is followed by the declaration that 
without enthusiasm nothing great has ever been 
accomplished. ( G0 ) This was written when he was forty, 
a period in which many of his utterances indicate 
emotion as well as enthusiasm. Therefore, while the 
marked predominance of his intellectual faculties at 
last largely suppressed the emotional element, there is 
abundant proof that by nature Kant was not lacking in 
feeling. As is usual in natures which are emotional 
and yet intellectually profound, we find in him a conflict 
between the head and the heart, between the longings 
of the one and the demonstrations of the other; and 
this gives us the key to his distinction between the 
speculative and the practical reason. Though so wary 
of impulses, he found in his own nature those which he 
could not suppress, in spite of all the negative conclu 
sions of his philosophy. When his dogmatism was 
shaken, he found it impossible to rest in scepticism ; 
and the demand for a scientific basis for hope and 
aspiration was the mighty impulse which produced the 
Critical Philosophy. In his cold Critiques of Pure 
Reason and of Judgment, Kant is only partially seen ; 
in other works he deals with flesh and blood as well as 
with skeletons. How can we account for the marvel 
lous enthusiasm with which he inspired his best 
students ? The spark which kindled a flame in 
others was communicated from his own being ; such 
heat could never have emanated from an iceberg. 


Jachmann states tliat in his lectures on moi^ality 
Kant was not merely a speculative philosopher, but 
also a spirited orator who moved the heart while he 
satisfied the mind. " It produced a heavenly rapture 
io hear this pure and sublime morality coming from 
the lips of its author with such powerful philosophic 
eloquence. how often he moved us to tears ! How 
often he powerfully agitated our hearts, and lifted our 
spirits and our emotions out of the trammels of a 
selfish love of pleasure to a high realization of pure 
freedom, to unconditional subjection to the law of 
reason, and to the sublime emotion of disinterested 
duty ! At such times the immortal philosopher seemed 
to be inspired by a divine power, and he also inspired 
us who listened to him full of admiration. Surely his 
hearers never left one of his lectures on morality with 
out being made better." The same enthusiastic 
admirer mentions Kant s animation during conversa 
tion when specially interested in his subject. "How 
often did Kant speak with rapture of God s wisdom, 
goodness, and power, when conversing with his friends 
on the structure of the world! How often he spoke 
touchingly of the blessedness of a future life ! And 
here the heart both of the philosopher and the man 
spoke, giving indubitable testimony of his emotions 
and honest convictions. One such conversation on 
astronomy, during which Kant was constantly inspired 
by his theme, was not merely enough to convince every 
one who heard him that he believed in God and 
providence, but it would also have changed an atheist 
into a believer." Even if at other times he spoke 
coldly and critically on these subjects, and though Jach 
mann may transfer some of his own enthusiasm to Kant, 


still there is evidence enough to show that there were 
times when he was unusually inspired and inspiring. 

Some persons laud Kant s speculative philosophy to 
the skies and speak contemptuously of his moral 
system, while others praise his moral philosophy and 
reject his speculations; and there are others, still, 
who form their opinions of Kant and his life mainly 
either from his speculations or from his moral prin 
ciples ; consequently, he is seen and judged very 
imperfectly. To hold before men his speculative 
philosophy and say, " This is Kant," js as misleading 
as to hold up his sublime moral principles and say, 
" So Kant lived." Sometimes life is greater than a 
theory, sometimes immeasurably less ; and a true 
biography carefully discriminates between the theory 
and the life. In order to form a correct estimate of 
the author of the Critical Philosophy, we must not 
merely distinguish between his speculation and prin 
ciples on the one hand, and his life on the other, but 
also between that which nature had made him, and 
what he became through the stern discipline to which 
he subjected himself. That the impulsive and extremely 
sensitive Kant became so complete a master of himself 
as to subject his emotions almost wholly to reason and 
calculation, is remarkable but not inexplicable. There 
were evidences of sensitiveness and of impulses to the 
last ; but with the advance of years they became 
more subordinate. Few lives furnish so striking an 
illustration of the transformation possible by means of 
circumstances and discipline. The ardour of youth 
may yield to cold calculation ; the sensitive may be 
come callous, and the gentle harsh ; the enthusiast 
and the devotee may change to the critic and the 


sceptic; indifference may take the place of ardent 
affect ion ; the sociable man may become a hermit ; a 
passion or interest, however strong, may be weakened 
or even expelled by the cultivation of another; and 
thus the transformation between youth and age may be 
so complete that at last the antipodes of the early 
characteristics appear. This will enable us to explain 
apparent contradictions in the life of Kant. The severe 
struggles of many years gave him a training which 
qualified him for the mastery over himself. Accord 
ing to his own testimony, his inclination to yield to 
impulses, whose results he had occasion to regret, 
induced him to form maxims for his conduct with a 
view of making reason, and not impulse, the arbiter 
in all tilings. Being early disciplined in self-reliance, 
he developed a degree of self-sufficiency which enabled 
him to dispense largely with the assistance and affec 
tion of friends. Besides, he possessed an intense 
desire for knowledge; a worship of pure truth, and a 
religious zeal to promote its spread ; a critical spirit 
which controlled him in his researches and was charac 
teristic of the tendencies of the age ; an intellect- 
conscious of its great strength, and ambitious for the full 
development and manifestation of its powers ; and a will 
which could master the body with its ailings, could 
control the emotions, and, as the pure practical reason, 
could set up its throne in his moral system, just as I lie 
speculative reason set up its throne in the " Kritik." 
When all these things are considered, as well as the 
years of absorbing and abstract intellectual toil in 
preparing the great " Kritik," we can in some measure 
understand the remarkable transformation to which he 
was subject, which, however, was not so great as to 


enable his reason, his maxims, and his will to prevent 
the original elements of his nature from asserting 
themselves strongly at times. 

Long after he had passed the period of youth, Kant 
gave unmistakable evidence that he was not always the 
cold, calm philosopher. Being very fond of dried 
fruits, he occasionally requested his friend Motherby 
to import some for him. At one time he was eagerly 
expecting a vessel with French fruits which he had 
ordered, and he had already invited some friends to a 
dinner at which they were to be served. The vessel 
was, however, delayed a number of days by a storm. 
When it arrived, Kant was informed that the provisions 
had become short on account of the delay, and that the 
crew had eaten his fruit. Kant was so angry that he 
declared they ought rather to have starved than to 
have touched it. Surprised at this irritation, Motherby 
said, " Professor, you cannot be in earnest ! " Kant 
answered, " I am really in earnest," and went away. 
Sometime afterwards Motherby met him and again 
referred to the matter, when the philosopher imme 
diately declared that he w^as sorry for his hasty 
remark. ( 6l ) 

It is now generally admitted that by suppressing 
his emotional nature he became one-sided. Formerly 
it was the fashion, in certain circles, to extol him as a 
prodigy in every department of learning, and as a 
complete, full-orbed, harmoniously developed man; to 
dissent from these views, or to question his authority, 
was regarded as sufficient cause for violent attacks. 
But with the strongest admiration for Kant on the part 
of those who profess to be his disciples, such hero- 
worship can never return again. It is plainly seen 


now that he was not only thoroughly human, subject 
to ordinary human infirmities, but that in some respects 
lie was much more one-sided than many who, compared 
with him intellectually, were only pigmies. It was the 
very fact that he devoted himself so wholly to his 
critical speculations which gave him his real greatness 
and the sublime elevation on which he stands alone. 
<{ The quietness and firmness with which Kant confined 
himself to the domain of thought, the boldness and 
resoluteness with which he pressed unceasingly forward 
in this realm as far as it seemed possible, constitute 
one of the great characteristics in Kant s scientific per 
sonality. "(") It would have been impossible for him 
to have attained his speculative pre-eminence if he had 
developed all his powers harmoniously. 

Having but little appreciation of the systems or even 
thoughts of others after he developed his own philo 
sophy, Kant became very much set in his opinions. 
His stern discipline, his intellectual isolation, and his 
riveting the attention so exclusively on subjects elabo 
rated by his own mind, at last gave his thoughts an 
unusual rigidity, and made him so impervious to the 
arguments of others that, after reasoning out a matter 
to his own satisfaction, he was apt to be immovable, 
a spirit which of course increased with old age. His 
assertions respecting the French Revolution, for in 
stance, were often peremptory, and sometimes he even 
ignored facts. A contemporary says, "It was difficult 
and almost impossible to convince him that his views 
were wrong; even when facts were presented against 
these views, he was not convinced, at least not imme 
diately and not always. "(* 3 ) This person, as well as 
Wasianski, gives an instance of Kant s habit of demon- 


strating things a priori, even if there was proof to the 
contrary. lie had come to the conclusion, in 1798, 
that Napoleon could not have the intention of landing 
in Egypt, but that while he pretended to be fitting out 
an expedition against that country, he was really pre 
paring to enter Portugal. It was his opinion that 
England would feel most keenly the capture of Portugal 
by the French, owing to the important commercial 
relations between those two countries. So satisfactorily 
had he demonstrated to himself this supposed stratagem 
of Napoleon, that even after the French had landed in 
Egypt, and the Government had announced the fact to 
all Europe, he still asserted that the expedition was 
against Portugal, and that the announcement to the 
contrary was only a pretext to mislead the English. 

His dogmatic spirit seems at last to have become 
his second nature, and the dictatorial tone of the 
authoritative professor could not escape the notice 
of his friends. These, indeed, plead age and great 
learning as an apology ; but even those who charitably 
considered these facts could not wholly escape the 
unfavourable impression made by this spirit. Count 
Purgstall, whose enthusiastic admiration for the great 
philosopher cannot be questioned, after spending some 
time at Konigsberg and in Kant s society, says, < The 
result of my observation respecting Kant is tins : he 
is certainly honest, his soul is pure, he is childlike, 
and does not consider himself a great man. This is 
admitted by all who know him well. . . . His knowledge 
of men is extensive, he lias studied the world, and 
knows how to speak admirably of many things which 
do not belong to his speciality. He alone is a great 
speculative philosopher. . . . Only once in a thousand 


years is a Kant born; and nature has very wisely 
arranged this, for only once in a thousand years is a 
speculative philosopher necessary. 

" Xo\v, as surely as I believe that Kant s morality 
and humanity have not suffered through the dangerous 
position of a professor, so sure is it that he has not 
escaped all the faults and imperfections of his office. 
Thus, he cannot bear to hear others talk much, becomes 
impatient, at least for the moment, if any one professes 
to know anything better than he does, monopolizes 
the conversation, and professes to know everything 
about all countries, places, divisions of the earth, and 
the like. For instance, he professed to know better 
than I do what kind of fowls we have, how our country 
looks, what degree of culture our Catholic priests have 
attained, and similar things. In all these matters he 
contradicted mc."( M ) And this was done in spite of 
the fact that he had never been in the region under 

\Ve do not expect much aesthetic culture from one 
who devotes himself as exclusively as Kant did to the 
rigid sciences. It is true that he made art, and beauty 
in general, a subject for analysis and speculation in his 
"Critique of the Judgment," and he wrote a small volume 
on "The Emotion of the Beautiful and the Sublime. 1 
But aside from his scrupulous care in his dross, espe 
cially in his early manhood, he gave no marked evidence 
of taste. In furnishing his house he proved that he 
was not actuated by a love of the beautiful; and no 
man of taste could have written as he did in his 
" Anthropology," " In complete solitude, no one would 
adorn or polish his house ; nor will he do it lor the 
sake of his wife and children, but only for the sake of 


friends, in order to show himself to them to advantage." 
In his " Critique of the Judgment " he, however, gives 
some profound thoughts on the nature of the beautiful. 
Respecting Kant s appreciation of art, Borowski says? 
" He never seemed to pay much attention to paintings 
and engravings, even when of a superior kind. In 
galleries and rooms containing much admired and 
highly praised collections, I never noticed that he 
specially directed his attention to the pictures, or in 
any way gave evidence of his appreciation of the skill 
of the artist," 

Of music he spoke disparagingly, and one of his 
friends declared that he preferred noise to harmony. 
Kant charges music with a lack of politeness, in that 
it forces itself on the attention when not wanted, and 
in this way disturbs society. It differs in this respect 
from the arts which address the eye, since one can 
turn away from them if he does not desire to see them. 
Music is like an odour, which spreads in every direction 
and must be breathed even when not wanted. " He 
who draws a perfumed handkerchief from his pocket, 
treats all who are about him to an odour against their 
will, for if they breathe at all, they are obliged to inhale 
it ; for this reason it has gone out of fashion. Those 
who recommend the singing of spiritual songs as a part 
of family devotions, do not consider that they inflict a 
great annoyance on the public by means of such a noisy 
(and for that very reason usually Pharisaic) devo 
tion, since thereby the neighbourhood is obliged either 
to join in the singing, or else to suspend the effort to 
think." He advised some young friends not to study 
music, because it would take too much time from their 
scientific pursuits ; and he also thought its tendency 

MUSIC. 143 

was to make effeminate. He rarely attended concerts 
at any time, and never during the latter part of his 
life. Military music he liked best; funeral dirges he 
disliked exceedingly. When the Jews in Konigsberg 
commemorated the death of Moses Mendelssohn, Kant 
was present. In giving an account of the affair, he 
spoke of the music as an " eternal, disagreeable moan 
ing," and he could not think of it without extreme 
aversion. It is said that he never attended a concert 
after this experience, in order not to be subjected 
again to similar torture. 

There being a prison near his house, he was greatly 
annoyed by the singing of the prisoners during their 
religious exercises. In 178 t he wrote a characteristic 
letter to his friend Ilippel, who was police-director and 
prison-inspector, asking to be relieved "of the stentorian 
devotion of the hypocrites in prison." In this appeal 
he says, " If their voices were so moderated during 
singing that they can hear themselves with closed 
windows, I do not think that they will have reason to 
complain that their soul s salvation will be endangered 
unless they bawl at the top of their voices. Even with 
out making so much noise, they might procure a certi 
ficate from the prison-keeper (which is probably their 
principal aim), testifying that they are very devout 
persons ; for he will be able to hear them at any rate, 
and I only want their voices to be toned down to that 
pitch which the pious citizens of our good city find 
loud enough for their edification." 

Kant had a low opinion of oratory, regarding it as 
the art of deceiving people, and opposed teachers of 
eloquence, comparing them with lawyers. He wanted 
cold lotric, without any art of persuasion, as the means 


of conviction ; and said that the reading of a beautiful 
poem always gave him pleasure, while in the perusal 
of the best speeches of lloman, parliamentary, or pulpit 
orators, he experienced a feeling of disapproval, because 
he perceived in them the deceitful art which persuades 
people to form, in weighty affairs, conclusions which 
lose all significance on calm reflection. 

The first place in the beautiful arts is assigned by 
him to poetry, which he regarded as almost wholly the 
product of genius and as the art which is least 
governed by rules or models. He was fond of the 
poets and frequently quoted them. Besides his 
favourite Latin authors, Lucretius, Horace, Juvenal, 
and Yirgil, he had a preference for Pope among the 
English and Haller among the German poets. The 
time for the study and appreciation of Shakspeare in 
Germany had not yet come ; the deep insight into 
human nature revealed by this wonderful seer would 
no doubt have made him most attractive to Kant. 
He read Milton, Wieland, Buerger, and others; but 
Young s " Night Thoughts," which were very popular 
in Germany, were too monotonously serious for him. 
Though Herder had been his pupil and once a great 
favourite, Kant did not read his poems, being preju 
diced against him on account of one of his earlier 
prose works. For Lessing s dramas he manifested no 
fondness, and he was not acquainted with the poetical 
works of Schiller and Goethe. He read Schiller s 
" ^Esthetic Letters," which were in his own immediate 
line of thought, he himself having written on the 
same subject. His knowledge of German poetry did 
not extend to a later period than that of Klopstock ; 
and for his poems he had no taste. When the 


Augustan era of German literature began, lie was 
either too old to appreciate it, or was too much occupied 
with his own works to give it any attention. 

Tt is only in art that Kant acknowledges genius. 
He defines it as a gift, in distinction from an acquisi 
tion ; as a law unto itself and the creator of its own 
laws, in distinction from the ability to work according 
to rules prescribed by another. Wherever law rules 
instead of spontaneity, as in science, philosophy, and 
morals, lie recognizes no genius. The appellation of 
a philosophical or speculative genius he would have 
declined as a misnomer. 

Kant began his studies in the gymnasium when 
about eight years old ; and his intellectual career may 
be regarded as ending with the last book which he 
wrote, namely, in 1 7 ( .KS. This gives a period of sixty- 
six years of severe and uninterrupted mental applica 
tion. Study was not only his life-work, it was also 
his delight. With contempt he speaks of " the apes of 
genius," as he calls those who despise study and with 
out it expect their genius to grasp and evolve every 
thing. What is to be done in view of these so-called 
geniuses ? " What else except to laugh at them and 
patiently pursue one s course with diligence, order, and 
definiteness, without regarding such jugglers." Ho 
had a genius for work, and never expected to accom 
plish anything except by hard and persistent labour. 

Aside from his special studies, his reading was 
extensive and varied. When ho had already attained 
his seventieth year, it was said, " He reads all that is 
new, (^specially history and geography, and has a for 
tunate memory which retains even the most difficult 
names." Christian theology excepted, there was 



scarcely a department of learning which did not 
interest him and become an object of his investigations. 
So far was he from being a narrow specialist, that he 
was in the true sense a polymathist. 

A glance at the subjects which engaged his attention 
gives some conception of the breadth of his mind and 
the extent of his interest in learning. His partiality 
for the classics, mathematics, physics, astronomy, and 
for metaphysics, has already been mentioned, as well 
as his interest in medical works. Law was included 
in his reading, which is evident from his discussion 
of " The Metaphysical Principles of Law ;" books on 
morals and natural religion also, since he lectured and 
published works on these subjects. Besides his deep 
interest in those laws of the mind which lie even 
beyond the ken of most philosophers, he was interested 
in the manners, customs, politics, trades, religious opi 
nions, the institutions, and the life of nations, and em 
bodied the results of his investigations in his " Anthro 
pology." And while he applied Newton s discoveries 
and developed metaphysical principles in physics, he 
also studied the surface of the earth, its mountains, 
valleys, forests, rivers, lakes, seas, and atmosphere, 
together with their inhabitants, and made his 
" Physical Geography " the depository of his researches 
on these subjects. He did not need the metaphysical 
speculations of others to impel him to philosophize, 
for he could evolve abstractions enough from his own 
mind without this impulse ; and when his mind was 
weary with speculation, it naturally turned to those 
subjects which wer.c calculated to give it freshness and 
recreation. Accounts of travel were his favourite 
reading for relaxation, and he read all important books 


of this kind which were access ible.( 65 ) Eagerly he 
sought for original writers, and took delight even in 
their paradoxes. Professor Kraus says, "Thinking was 
a necessity for his active mind, which always sought 
that which was new and transcended the usual concep 
tions. Hence his love for paradoxical writings." 

Knglish and French writers were among his fa 
vourite authors. In his study of physics he was most 
indebted to Newton. Frequently he refers to Locke, 
and repeatedly to Berkeley ; but owing to the critical 
spirit of Hume and the impulse which he had received 
from him, Kant placed him higher than any other 
Scotch or English metaphysician. While he spoke 
highly of Shaftesbury, he particularly esteemed Hut- 
clieson as a moral philosopher, and recommended him 
to those engaged in the study of ethics, just as he 
did Hume in metaphysics. Among French authors, he 
had read Montaigne while still a student, and knew 
many passages of his " Kssays" by heart. Montesquieu s 
political views and his knowledge of various nations 
made him a great favourite. While the German meta 
physician was averse to Voltaire s flippancy, ho shared 
his antagonism to real or supposed fanaticism. But 
of all French writers he preferred Rousseau, whose 
views of human nature, of education, and of the freedom 
and rights of man, deeply interested Kant and made a 
lasting impression on his mind. The only picture 
which adorned his house was one of Rousseau. His 
" Emile " so engrossed the philosopher s attention that 
for several days it kept him from his usual walk. This 
author and Montesquieu had most influence in mould 
ing his social and political views. Speaking of his 
own thirst for learning, and of the fact that he had 

L 2 


made knowledge the criterion of human excellence, lie 
says, " There was a time when I thought that this 
could determine the worth of man, and I despised the 
masses who know nothing. Rousseau, however, set 
me right. This apparent advantage disappears ; I am 
learning to honour men, and I should regard myself 
as much more worthless than the common labourer, if 
I did not believe that the pursuits I am following can 
promote the worth of others, by aiding in restoring the 
rights of man." 

As he had never travelled, he depended chiefly on 
books for his knowledge of countries and nations ; but 
his contact with persons from different lands also 
aided him. Kant took pleasure in meeting persons of 
diverse opinions, occupations, and degrees of culture, 
in order that he might study man in various circum 
stances and relations. "With men who had made 
specialities of them, he liked to discuss chemistry, 
galvanism, and even craniology. Though Konigsberg 
had no large libraries, it possessed many books of inte 
rest and value ; and besides the public ones, there were 
circulating libraries which contained works of scientific 
and literary importance. The book-stores were the 
common resorts of literary men and scholars, where 
they wrote letters, examined new books, had access to 
periodicals, and discussed the literary news of the day. 
Among the booksellers who visited the book-market in 
Leipzig, and came in contact and corresponded with 
men of letters, were persons of literary taste and pro 
moters of literature. They cheerfully placed their 
books and journals at Kant s disposal without 
pecuniary consideration. While Konigsberg suffered 
intellectually from its literary isolation, its advantages, 


though inferior to those of Berlin, Leipzig, Weimar, 
and other intellectual centres, were still considerable, 
and Kant had much opportunity for the gratification 
of his varied scholarly tastes. Professor Kraus says 
of him, " As soon as he received the semi-annual 
catalogue of books, he marked nearly all accounts of 
travel, as well as the chemical, physical, and other 
works from whose authors he had reason to expect 
something instructive. These books he read succes 
sively, and was generally through with the list long 
before the new catalogue appeared, which he treated 
in the same way. While writing, he always had a new 
unbound book lying beside him, which ho would read 
when mentally wearied, in order to prepare himself 
again for meditation and composition." 

Owing to the generosity of the booksellers who 
permitted him to read books and then return them, it 
was not necessary for him to purchase many works. 
At the time of his death his library consisted of about 
five hundred vol nines, including many pamphlets. 
Professor Gensichen, who inherited this library, says 
of it, " Among the older books I find more on 
mathematics and physics than on philosophy. The 
newer volumes are, of course, mostly philosophical, 
and those occasioned by Kant s philosophy are con 
siderable in number; it is probable that he did not 
buy a single one of them, but that the most of them, 
if not all, were sent to him by their authors. 1 am, 
therefore, inclined to believe that Kant furnished his 
library chiefly with books on mathematics and physics 
(chemistry included)." He also makes this statement : 
" In the library left by Kant 1 miss all his works pre 
ceding the " Kritik of Pure Reason," and also his 


" Critique of the Judgment." Probably Kant gave 
away some of his books, especially in his last years, 
and loaned others which were never returned ; this 
seems likely from the fact that of works containing a 
number of volumes, only a few of the set are on 
hand." ( 6G ) 

In speaking of the learned peculiarities of different 
nations, Kant says that among the Germans genius 
develops into roots ; among the Italians, into foliage ; 
among the French, into flowers ; and among the 
English, into fruit. According to this generalization, 
he himself was thoroughly German, though we also 
find flowers and fruit in his scholarship. The breadth 
in his scientific studies is worthy of special note. He 
did not want the sciences to be isolated, and it is a 
significant fact that he attached so much importance 
to the study of mathematics and physics in connexion 
with speculative philosophy. In his " Logic " he states 
that the improvement in metaphysics in modern times 
is due, partly to the more diligent study of nature, 
partly to the union of mathematics with natural 
science. The connexion of mathematics, physics, and 
metaphysics, is a characteristic of his studies as well 
as of his works. The book just quoted gives a hint 
of his aim in his studies : " Mere polymathy is cyclopic 
learning, which lacks an eye, namely the eye of 
philosophy ; and a cyclop in mathematics, history, 
natural history, or philology, is a scholar who is great 
in all these, but regards a philosophy respecting them 
as unessential." 

Although Kant read historical works, he did not 
sufficiently appreciate history to give it the place it 
deserves. His depreciation of this department of 


learning will be the more easily explained if \ve 
remember that his education belonged to a period 
when there was but little taste in Germany for general 
history and when there were no attractive historical 
books. The impulse given to this study by Moser, 
Frederick II., Schiller, and John von Miiller, belongs 
to a later a^e. Kant s habit of demonstrating pro- 

O O I 

positions // /triori led him to ignore historical facts. He 
wanted to carry his mathematical spirit into history, 
and it is said, "A report which did not give time and 
place, however reliable it might otherwise be, he never 
trusted and did not think worthy of notice." In his 
" Logic " he shows that he was eager to discover and to 
teach those fjrinciples and methods which would enable 
their possessors to find what they wanted without 
burdening the memory; and he thought that the man 
who would sum up history under permanent ideas 
would l)o a praiseworthy genius, rendering special 
service to the human mind. He also says, " Teachers 
of reason are generally ignorant of history." In his 
religious views his effort to substitute reason for 
history is very apparent. 

His contemporaries were not blind to his depreciation 
of history in the interest of a priori knowledge. Herder 
wrote to Hainan u, " It is strange that metaphysicians, 
like your Kant, even in history want no history, and 
as much as boldly banish it from the world. I will 
carry together fire and wood, in order to make the 
historical flame large, even if again, as in the case of 
my Urkunde, it should be the funeral pyre of my 
philosophy. Let them speculate in their cold ice- 
heaven ! " One who studies Kant s writings carefully, 
cannot avoid the conclusion of a recent writer who says, 


" At the same time, it is to be said that the historical 
element in its widest sense never received its full due 
at the hands of Kant, whose deficiency in the historical 
interest was remarkable." ( G7 ) 

However, in spite of these defects which only blind 
admiration can be disposed to deny, those who know 
him merely as the eminent speculative philosopher have 
no conception of his many-sided and extensive attain 
ments. His most intimate friends were astonished at 
the breadth of scholarship and the philosophic depth 
revealed in his conversations, as well as in his lectures 
and books. In fact, he was treated as if a living 
library, and was consulted personally and by letter on 
the most varied subjects. His fame, however, rests 
mainly on his metaphysical works, and among these 
chiefly on his " Kritik." His influence on morals has 
been great, and his postulates have permanent value, 
but he did not succeed in establishing moral philo 
sophy on a firm basis. In mathematics, physics, and 
astronomy, he is rarely mentioned now, except in con 
nexion either with his metaphysical views or his cos 
mogony. He gave a new impulse to aesthetic studies 
at a period when the revival in literature made this 
impulse specially potent. His " Anthropology " and 
" Physical Geography," being popular rather than pro 
found, exerted only a temporary influence, this being 
especially the case with the latter. But in meta 
physics he attained an eminence unparalleled in modern 
philosophy, and the " Kritik " lias deservedly made his 
name one of the most celebrated in literature. 




The philosopher s home Regularity Carefulness in trifles Lampe 
Dress Recreation Table-talk Social power Self- respect 
Relatives Views of woman and marriage Love-affairs. 

THE world has learned tu know Kant as a toilsome 
student and a great metaphysician ; what wonder, 
then, if it has regarded him as an ideal German pro 
fessor who buries himself in his study, and disregards 
the world and its affairs, society and its attractions ? 
Such a picture of the Koritgsberg philosopher is purely 
imaginary. Instead of being a hermit whose study 
was his cell, and whose sole companions were his books 
and his thoughts, we find that his interests, like his 
reading, were extensive and varied, that he was very 
sociable, was frequently in company, and exerted a 
powerful social influence. 

For a number of years after he became a teacher 
in the university, he lodged in private dwellings, and 
Borowski speaks of five different houses in which he had 
his abode. His studious habits led him to seek locali 
ties and houses which were quiet, this being the more 
essential to him because he was so -easily disturbed : 
but for a long time his limited means neither permitted 
him to purchase a house nor to choose just such loca- 


tions as were best suited to his purpose. With respect 
to his rooms and surroundings he was particular and 
even peculiar. While lodging in one house he was 
disturbed in his meditations by the crowing of a cock 
in a neighbouring yard. Although he offered a con 
siderable sum for the noisy fowl, the obstinate owner 
refused to sell him, as he could not conceive how a 
cock could annoy a philosopher. As the disturber of 
his meditations could not be silenced, Kant removed 
to another locality. 

While occupying lodgings he dined at some public- 
house, the choice of which depended mainly on the 
probability of meeting agreeable company. One house 
he left because a guest was in the habit of speaking 
very deliberately, and with a degree of pathos, even 
when he talked of unimportant affairs. Kant found 
the presence of this man intolerable, and so he took 
his dinner elsewhere. He ceased to patronize another 
restaurant because some of the guests expected him to 
play the professor at dinner and converse on learned 
subjects, whereas he desired rest and recreation. At 
these public houses he liked to read the papers and 
discuss the news of the day, and in earlier years he 
also played billiards and cards. 

In 1783 he purchased the house which was his home 
during the remainder of his life. It was centrally 
located on Princess Street, but not in a noisy part of 
the city, and had a small garden. There were eight 
rooms ; his lecture-room, the kitchen, and the cham 
ber for his aged cook, on the ground floor ; his own 
rooms, five in number, were on the first floor, consist 
ing of the study, library, the dining, bed, and recep 
tion rooms ; the attic was occupied by his male servant. 


His furniture was exceedingly plain, and it was evident 
at a glance that it was selected for service, not for 
ornament. In general a table or two, a few chairs, and 
a sofa, constituted the furniture of a room. His study 
contained a few tables, covered with papers and books, 
and also a chest of drawers. The bare walls of his 
rooms were relieved by no picture, save the solitary 
portrait of Rousseau, which was the gift of a friend. 
His table-ware and kitchen-utensils were also very 
plain, being merely such as were necessary to entertain 
a few friends at dinner. The entire inner arrange 
ment of his house revealed a philosopher who was 
extremely simple in his tastes and mode of life. 

While the home is not the man, its air is generally 
an expression of his spirit, especially if neither wife 
nor child disputes his supremacy. Our philosopher at 
home is so interesting to us because we there come 
into more intimate contact with him than in other re 
lations, and also because we get views of him which 
are not so familiar as those of the eminent professor 
and the distinguished author. We, indeed, see him in 
his home only during the last twenty years of his life ; 
but these are the years of his greatest celebrity. Kant 
was sole lord in his house, and his will was the supreme 
law. We must not be astonished if he is not found to 
have been the neatest of housekeepers, and if some 
times things were permitted to go their own way ; there 
is a compensation in the fact that in most of the affairs 
he was sure to make his supremacy felt and to have 
his way. A bachelor has a right to poor furniture 
and black walls ; but Kant Avas a philosopher as 
well as a bachelor, and elegance or annual house- 
cleaning might have interfered with his speculations. 


About his personal habits, however, he was careful, 
and with respect to his appearance he was very 

It was fortunate for his purse that his happiness 
required no beauties of art. He blamed those who 
spent money for furniture which was not needed, and 
in himself he would never have excused extravagance 
in this respect. The whole house had a sombre appear 
ance, the effect of which was increased by the death 
like stillness which prevailed during study hours. 
According to the testimony of Professor Kraus, 
" Kant s rooms were not only badly furnished, but 
were so astonishingly black from the smoke of the 
fire and the lamp, that it was possible for a person 
to write his name on the walls." Cobwebs are not 
mentioned, but they were no doubt there. What 
wonder if the scholar becomes attached to such things 
for their associations, and for the thoughts and sym 
bols which he puts into them ! His surroundings may 
become a part of himself, and the desire not to be 
disturbed may be applied by him to things as well 
as to his person. That revolutionary spirit which is 
eternally restless, and ruthlessly demands domestic 
change and renovation, was foreign to Kant ; and it 
is a relief to find that the philosopher who regarded 
the old metaphysics as consisting mainly of rubbish 
that must be removed, was so extremely conservative 
respecting his mode of life and his home. Scheffner, 
another friend of the metaphysician, says, " The walls 
of his sitting-room were grey, being covered with dust, 
and with smoke from his morning pipe ; and as at one 
time while listening to a conversation between him and 
iiippel, I made some marks on the wall with my finger 


so that the white ground became visible, Kant said. 
Friend, why will you disturb the ancient rust? Is 
not such a hanging, which arose of its own accord, 
better than one that is purchased ? It is quite 
natural that Kant should regard as vandalism that 
spirit which takes pleasure in destroying the precious 
relics of antiquity. 

During the first few years after he had his own home, 
he continued to dine at some public house ; since 178fi, 
however, he took his meals at home. In the evening 
he would give the orders for the dinner of the follow 
ing da)-, which the servant, well aware how particular 
Kant was in exacting implicit obedience, was careful 
to execute to the letter. 

One of the friends and guests of Kant gives a de 
scription of his home, and a picture of the philosopher 
waiting for the arrival of the persons invited to dine 
with him. His imagination saw even in the exterior 
of the building evidences that it was a thinker s home, 
which lie describes as rather antique and situated on a 
street which was but little travelled, while back of it 
was an old castle, with its moat and gardens, its towers 
and prisons. " Both in summer and in winter the 
region was quite romantic, but this he did not appre 
ciate." It is, however, the interior and the occupant 
which are of the greatest interest. " When one 
entered the house, it was found that a peaceful quiet 
reigned within; and if the savoury odour of the kitchen, 
a barking dog, or a mewing cat, favourites of the 
cook, had not convinced him of the contrary, he would 
have 1 thought that it was uninhabited. When he 
ascended the steps the servant was seen to the right, 
preparing the table ; the guests, however, passed to 


the left through a very plain, cheerless, smoked vesti 
bule, to a room which represented the parlour, which 
was also devoid of ornament. A sofa, several chairs 
covered with linen, a cupboard with a glass-door 
through which some porcelain was visible, a bureau 
which contained his silver and his money, a thermo 
meter and a console (whether under a mirror or under 
a bust I do not remember), constituted the furniture 
which concealed a part of the white walls." Passing 
through this apartment, " which represented the 
parlour," the visitor came to a plain door which led to 
what the writer calls the " Sans Souci," namely, the 
study. With a cheerful " Come in," the philosopher 
answered the rap on this door. The study had " an 
air of simplicity, and was a quiet retreat from the 
noise of the world. There were two common tables, a 
plain sofa, several chairs, and a chest of drawers under 
a medium-sized mirror ; sufficient room was left for a 
passage to the barometer and thermometer, which he 
frequently consulted. The windows had small panes 
of glass ; and the little green silk curtains which hung 
before them were perhaps the most costly articles in 
the room. Here, as on a tripod, the thinker sat in 
his semicircular chair, which was wholly of wood, 
either still engaged in study or else, because he was 
hungry, with his eyes turned to the door, longingly 
expecting his guests. Till the close of life he 
approached his gut\st from this place, opened the door 
and welcomed him. Wherever and however one might 
meet him, though the exalted expectations of the 
stranger who saw him for the first time might not be 
quite realized, his countenance was spirited, his look 
friendly ; and when he spoke he delivered oracles and 

SLEEP. 151) 

charmed his hearers. At the arrival of the guests, ho 
would order his servant to bring the dinner, while he 
himself brought the silver spoons (called tie s//>vr) 
from the bureau, and hastened to the table. His 
guests preceded him to the dining-room, which was 
just as unadorned as the rest of the house." ( 68 ) 

After the deatli of Kant, the house which had been 
his home for twenty years was sold and turned into a 
tavern, with a bowling-alley and billiard-room attached; 
and thus the quiet abode of the philosopher, which was 
so rich in the most interesting associations, became 
the scene of noise, confusion, and carousals. A marble 
tablet was placed in the front wall, bearing this 
inscription : " Immanuel Kant wohnte und lehrte hier 
von 178:5 bis /urn 12 Feb. 1801," The name of the 
street on which it stood was changed from Princess to 
Kant Street. In the spring of 1881 the house passed 
over to a new owner, who intended to demolish it, to 
make room for another building. 

Kant s manner of life was as simple as his surround 
ings, its most striking feature being its extreme regu 
larity. The military order in his life was partly the 
result of his youthful training, and partly the result of 
the requirements of his health. In order that his body 
might be the fit instrument of his mind, lie found that 
great physical and mental regularity was essential. lie 
feared even slight changes, lest they should affect his 
health or interfere with his studies; hence he was 
rigorous with himself, and made his life singularly 
methodical. There was a painful anxiety in his strict 
conformity to rules, which at last got the mastery over 
him and excluded spontaneity. 

He regarded seven hours of sleep as sufficient, and 


accordingly limited himself to that number, until in old 
age when he found that more was necessary. Promptly 
at ten he retired, and his servant had strict orders 
never to let him sleep longer than five, however 
strongly he might plead for more rest. Five minutes 
before five o clock, the servant entered his room every 
morning, with the stern, military call, "It is time ! " 
And even in the rare case of loss of sleep during the 
night, Kant never hesitated a moment to obey the 
summons. With a degree of pride he would sometimes 
ask the servant, in the presence of his guests, whether 
in thirty years he had ever been obliged to wake him 
twice ? His answer was, " No, very noble Professor ! " 
He rarely slept during the day. " Half jokingly, half 
seriously, he would say, that as Mohammed believed 
that a definite portion of food was designed for each 
person, and if that was consumed rapidly death would 
come the sooner ; so still more does this apply to sleep, 
which should accordingly be enjoyed sparingly, in order 
that one may sleep long, that is, may livelong." 

When the clock struck five, Kant already sat at the 
table in his dressing-gown and night-cap, over which he 
wore a small three-cornered hat. His breakfast con 
sisted of weak tea and a pipe of tobacco. He took, he 
said, one cup of tea ; but being absorbed in thought, and 
in order to keep the tea warm, he filled the cup 
repeatedly, and frequently drank two or more cups. 
He was very fond of coffee ; but he regarded its oil as 
injurious, and avoided it altogether. 

According to Jachmann, he spent till seven in the 
morning in thinking over his lectures ; then he dressed, 
and lectured for two hours ; at nine he immediately 
donned his gown, his night-cap, his hat, and his slip- 


pcrs, and studied from that time till a quarter to one, 
when he arose and called to his cook, " It is a quarter 
to one!" As he never appeared at dinner in his 
dressing-gown, regarding it as a slovenly habit, lie 
would then dress and return to his study, to await the 
arrival of his invited guests. Even the least delay 
beyond one o clock, the hour for dinner, whether on 
the part of his cook or his guests, made him impatient. 
During the meal itself he disliked haste, and generally 
spent three hours at the table, sometimes, when the 
company was large, still longer. This habit of sitting 
long at table was not confined to his own home. 
Hippel said, " Professor Kant liked to dine at my 
house, and more than once we sat from one till 
eight ; this, however, was not for the purpose of 
regaling the body, but the mind." On rising from 
the table he usually took a walk of an hour. 
Between dinner and the walk he was careful to 
avoid sitting, otherwise he could not resist sleep, 
which he was determined to prevent. .Neither bad 
weather nor any other circumstance was apt to inter 
fere with his customary exercise. In summer he 
walked very slowly, so as not to perspire; if he 
noticed that he was about to do so, he at once stopped, 
because he thought that his constitution required thai- 
he should by all means avoid perspiration. And it is 
stated as a remarkable fact that even in the hottest 
weather he never perspired. ( C!) ) In his younger years 
he frequently had company while taking his exercise; 
in his old age he preferred u to walk alone, because the 
conversation wearied him and made him breathe 
through his mouth, which lie regarded as injurious. 
After returning home he spent the rest of the day in 



reading and meditation, or in preparing his lectures 
for the next day. This was his usual routine after 
he had his own table, one day passing like another. 
While he ate at public houses, and when as tutor he 
still had lectures in the afternoon, his life must, of 
course, have varied considerably from this outline. 

The clock-like regularity of Kant s life surprised 
his friends, and became the subject of frequent 
remark. The poet Heine describes it rather poetically 
than with historical accuracy, as follows : " It is diffi 
cult to write the history of the life of Immanuel Kant, 
for he had neither life nor history. He lived the 
mechanically ordered and almost abstract life of a 
bachelor, in a quiet, retired little street of Konigsbcrg, 
an old city on the north-eastern border of Germany. 
I do not believe that the large clock of the cathedral 
did its daily work with less passion and with greater 
regularity than its countryman, Immanuel Kant. To 
rise, drink coffee,* write, deliver lectures, eat, take 
walks, everything had its appointed time; and the 
neighbours knew that it was exactly half-past three 
when Kant, in his grey coat and with the Spanish 
reed in his hand, stepped out of his door and walked 
towards the small Linden Avenue, which is still 
called after him, The Philosopher s Walk. 5 Eight 
times lie walked up and down there, at all seasons of 
the year ; and when the weather was unfavourable or 
the grey clouds portended rain, his old servant, 
Lampe, might be seen wandering anxiously behind 
him, with a long umbrella under his arm, like a picture 
of Providence. 

" Strange contrast between the outer life of this 

* Should bo tea, for lie drank no cofiec. 

ins MATCH IN iTNfTtTAi.riY. 10 J 

man and his destructive, world-crushing thoughts ! 
. . . The good people (citizens of Konigsberg) saw 
in him nothing but a professor of philosophy, and 
when he passed, they greeted him kindly and perhaps 
set their watches by him."( ro ) 

That he daily passed eight times up and down 
" The Philosopher s AValk," is probably a product of 
Heine s imagination; yet it can hardly be said that 
the poet exaggerates the undeviating regularity of 
Kant s life. It is extremely difficult to find a parallel 
to his methodical order and promptness. There is, 
therefore, a degree of satisfaction and a kind of 
poetic justice in the fact that in punctuality he found 
his match in an Englishman named Green, a native of 
Hull, but a resident of Konigsberg, where he had an 
extensive commission business. Green was probably 
the most intimate friend of the philosopher, and was 
more a scholar than a merchant. In his extensive 
reading, the discoveries and inventions of the English 
particularly interested him, and he no doubt exerted 
an important influence in cultivating Kant s taste for 
accounts of travel and enlarging his knowledge of 
English literature. Like the philosopher, he was a 
bachelor, and his house also had three inmates, himself, 
a business companion, and a servant. Kant and Green, 
who were very fond of each other s company, agreed 
one evening to take a drive at eight the next morning. 
Green was a genius of punctuality, and it is said that 
on the occasion of such an appointment he would begin 
to walk about his room a quarter before eight, with 
watch in hand ; would put on his hat ten minutes 
before eight, would take his cane five minutes later, and 
at the stroke of the clock would enter the carriage. 

M -2 


Unfortunately Kant was not on hand when tho clock 
struck, and Green, who never waited a moment for 
any one, drove away. He had proceeded but a short 
distance when he met his belated friend walking rapidly. 
Kant greeted him and beckoned him to stop ; Green 
returned the salutation, but at the same time bade him 
adieu and drove on.( 7 ) 

Even in trifles the great thinker sometimes mani 
fested an anxiety which revealed his characteristic 
painstaking care. One day at dinner the servant 
broke a wine-glass, and Kant ordered all the frag 
ments to be gathered on a plate and placed before 
him. Scarcely \vas dinner over, when he requested 
his guests to go with him for the purpose of burying 
the pieces, a duty which he could not entrust to his 
servant. A spade was brought, and the whole party 
entered the garden, to find a suitable place for inter 
ment. Every proposition to bury it here or there was 
met by Kant with the objection that it might one 
day injure some person. At last a secluded spot was 
found beside an old wall, a deep hole was dug, and in 
the presence of the party the glass was carefully buried. 

No picture of Kant s house is complete, unless his 
old servant, Martin Lampe, is made a prominent figure 
in the background. In his way he was quite a 
character, and he was a very essential person in the 
odd household. As the cook ruled over the kitchen 
on tho ground floor, with the cat and dog as her sole 
companions, so Lampc was perched on the attic, a 
symbol of his elevation to the position of general 
overseer, being the presiding genius of all the business 
of the house ; Kant, the lone philosopher, was placed 
between these two guardian angels. In rigid routine, 

LAMl E. 105 

Lampe was the counterpart of his master, an element 
which must have contributed much to the esteem in 
which the philosopher held him. lie had been a 
soldier, and in the army had acquired that mechanical 
regularity which characterized his service of Kant for 
more than thirty years. Being careful to execute 
orders promptly and literally, and knowing how to 
adapt himself to the peculiarities of Kant, he had made 
himself very essential to his comfort. Unfortunately he 
was given to drink. His master was liberal towards him 
at first, but this encouraged him in his intemperate 
habits, and he was sometimes drunk in the presence 
of Kant, abused his trust, demanded additions to his 
salary, came home at unseasonable hours, and, in spite 
of promises to do better, became worse, and at last 
was regarded as incorrigible. Kant became very sus 
picious of Lampe, and regarding severity as the only 
successful method of dealing with him, he treated him 
quite harshly. Finally, just when his services seemed 
most necessary, he had to be dismissed. Jt was sus 
pected that he had made an assault on Kant, who 
would never tell what he had done, but said, " Lampe 
has so acted towards me that I am ashamed to state 
what lie did." He was discharged with a pension of 
forty thalers a year for life, with the condition that 
if he or an emissary ever importuned for more money, 
the pension should be withdrawn. 

Lampe was exceedingly ignorant ; but his long service 
with Kant made him conceited, evidently thinking 
that contact with the famous philosopher had enabled 
him to absorb considerable wisdom. It is said that 
Kant and he frequently disputed about the names of 
things, the titles of books, and the pronunciation of 


words; For over thirty years Lampc had boon sent 
twice a week to fetch the Hartung newspaper ; and to 
avoid the confounding of this with the Hamburg paper, 
Kant was always obliged to repeat its name to the 
servant ; still he could not remember it, and constantly 
called it the Hartmann paper. Kant would order him 
to say Hartung ; but the implication that he must learn 
its name from his master vexed him, and in a rough 
tone he would say, " Hartung s paper ;" but the very 
next time it was brought, the name was sure to be 
wrong again. There was, however, one thing which 
Kant did succeed in teaching him, namely, who was 
king of England. Jokingly he would ask him in the 
presence of his guests, "Who is the King of England ? 
He was taught to reply, " Mr. Pitt." And it is stated 
that at last the notion that Pitt was king took such 
complete possession of Kant s own mind, that lie 
wanted to know of no other King of England. 

Not till his old age was Kant s bedroom heated 
in winter, but his study was kept very warm. Lampe 
had the most explicit orders about the temperature ; 
but as ho consulted the thermometer only when 
he made the fire, the study was generally too hot, a 
condition of things to which Kant became accustomed, 
and which he at last actually required, so that he 
wanted seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit, and some- 
limes even had a fire in July or August. 

\Vhilo Kant was all theory and thoroughly unskilful 
in mechanical affairs, Lampc was as innocent of skill as 
he was of theory, but possessed much rude force. As 
a consequence, both were apt to be perplexed over 
trifles, especially when things were out of repair. 
Kant would plan how to mend a broken article, where- 


upon Lampo would proceed to put the theory into 
practice; but by the application of excessive and un 
skilled force he often succeeded in reducing the article 
to a condition which put all future repair out of the 

Kant was exacting, and demanded implicit and literal 
obedience. Lampe was not only required to manage 
the affairs of the house just as he had received direc 
tions, but also to appear before the guests dressed as 
his master desired. In waiting on the table he wore 
a white coat with a red collar; on one occasion, how 
ever, he ventured to appear in a yellow coat, instead 
of the regulation uniform. Kant was indignant, and 
ordered him to sell the coat at once, promising to make 
good the loss sustained in the transaction. Then he 
learned to his astonishment that Lampe was a 
widower, that he expected to be married again on the 
next day, and that he had purchased the coat as his 
wedding garment. This was a revelation to Kant, 
who had all along been under the impression that his 
servant stood with himself on the exalted plane of 
bachelorhood ; and Lampe fell greatly in his estimation. 
Ft was not merely the yellow coat, instead of the while 
one with a red collar but to think that the servant 
should have been married, and Kant not know it, and 
that he contemplated marriage again on the morrow 
without consulting his master ! AVe are, therefore, not 
surprised to learn from Kink, "It is true that Kant 
was very indignant on account of Lampe s marriage, 
and it was the first cause of his dissatisfaction with 
his old servant." .And in a note-book the philosopher 
wrote, " Lampe is a poor servant; first, because he 
cannot write, and second, because he is married, 


not only without my consent, but even against my 

Kant paid an attention to dress which is scarcely to 
be expected from the hard student and learned pro 
fessor, and least of all from the speculative philosopher. 
French fashions, as well as French manners, language, 
and literature, were popular in Germany. The courts 
aped Paris and set the fashions for the people ; but 
after the French monarchy had been overthrown, these 
courts were less inclined to follow slavishly the modes 
of Paris, and the Revolution, also introduced more 
simplicity of dress in that city than was characteristic 
of the old styles. Before that time, the French 
fashions had made bright colours common in gentle 
men s apparel, and Kant s costume formed no exception 
to the general rule. 

We should naturally expect our philosopher to appear 
in society dressed in black ; but his friend Borowski 
states that he never wore black except when there was 
national mourning. Kant declared that it was better 
to be a fool in fashion than to be out of fashion, and this 
was his rule in the choice of his garments. Instead of 
regarding minute attention to such affairs as unworthy, 
he thought it showed a proper esteem for our fellow- 
men. Nature, he said, particularly the flowers, teaches 
the most important lessons in the choice of colours for 
garments; thus the auricula shows us that a yellow 
vest belongs to a brown coat. Jachmann says, " He 
wore a little three-cornered hat, and a small, blonde, 
powdered wig with a bag attached ; a black necktie, 
and a shirt with ruffles around the throat and wrists ; 
a coat, pantaloons, and vest of fine cloth, generally a 
mixture of black, brown and yellow ; grey silk stockings, 


and shoes with silver buckles ; lie also wore a sword 
while it was still fashionable, but afterwards carried 
an ordinary reed cane. According to the prevailing 
fashion, the coat, vest, and pantaloons were bordered 
with gold cord, and the buttons were covered with 
gold or silver threads. This was his usual dress, 
even in the lecture-room, where the worn garments 
did their last service." To this strict compliance 
with the requirements of fashion his hat formed an 
exception. For over twenty years lie continued to 
wear the same three-cornered one ; at last he used it 
while reading, the brim being turned down so as to 
shield his eyes. 

To another acquaintance of the philosopher we are 
indebted for a description of his dress in old age. 
"He was always neatly dressed; and his deeply 
serious face, his head drooping somewhat to one side, 
his regular though not too [slow step, attracted reve 
rential looks towards him. The bright sandy colour of 
his dress, which afterwards yielded to a deeper brown, 
must not surprise us ; all kinds of bright colours were 
at that time preferred, and black was reserved for 
funerals and mourning. On warm days he went, 
according to the prevailing custom, with his head un 
covered, his hat held on the gold head of his reed cane, 
a finely powered wig adorning his head. Silk stockings 
and silk shoes also belonged to the usual dress of a 
well-clad man." 

\Ve can even catch a glimpse of Kant s attire in his 
study. Count Purgstall, who called on him early one 
morning in 1795, states that lie found the little philo 
sopher at work in his study, in a yellow dressing- 
gown, a red, silk, Polish necktie, and with a night-cap 


on his head ! ( 72 ) Over this night-cap he usually wore 
his three-cornered hat. 

He was as particular about the portraits of himself 
as he was in the matter of dress. A Jew had made 
an engraving of him which so displeased Kant that 
he threatened to sue the artist if he sold any of the 
pictures. His anger was no doubt justifiable, for 
Hamann says that the picture made him look like a 
monster, at the sight of which women and children 
should cross themselves. When the sculptor Schadow 
sent an artist to Konigsberg, to make a model of the 
aged philosopher, for a marble bust, the man asked 
Kant whether he should model him altogether faith 
fully ? His answer was, " So old and ugly as I am 
now you must not make me." 

Kant understood the rare art of making his re 
laxation the means of recreation as well as of culture. 
Between study and recreation he drew a sharp line, 
regarding the one as work and the other as play, but 
lie knew how to make the play profitable, using it to 
rest the mind and yet as a stimulus and the means 
of mental development. He who reduced the opera 
tions of the intellect to their laws was not disposed 
to leave anything to chance, but reduced conduct to 
maxims, and even gave rules for table-talk. As he 
desired the mind to have room for spontaneous activity 
at table and during walks, he wished to avoid the 
consideration of abstract and profound themes on 
such occasions, and to give free play to the imagina 
tion. Reading or meditation he regarded as injurious 
then, and ho also says, "Music at the feast of great 
lords is the most insipid nonsense which gluttony ever 
invented." His delight at table was in lively and 

M A X I M S TO R TA B L K-T A F. K . J 7 I 

cheerful conversation, of which ho gives the natural 
order as follows : First, the news of the day, namely, 
home news, then foreign, whether received by letter or 
from papers; second, discussion of subjects; third, 
wit and humour, so that the repast may end with 
laughter, which is calculated to promote digestion. 
For a banquet, lie gives the following : A subject 
should be chosen which will interest all and give to 
each one an opportunity of saying something ; there 
must be no dead silence, but only momentary pauses ; 
the subjects should not be varied often, for at the end 
the mind takes pleasure in reviewing the course of 
the conversation ; an entertaining subject should be 
nearly exhausted before it is dropped, though if the 
conversation begins to drag, one must understand how 
to introduce an allied subject ; there should be no 
dogmatic spirit, and as the aim of the conversation is 
play rather than work, the tendency to be dogmatic 
should be checked by a skilfully applied joke ; in 
serious disputes, which cannot be avoided, care must 
be taken that they are carried on properly, so that the 
disputants may not lose respect for each other, which 
depends more on the tone of the voice than on the 
subject under discussion. 

Our philosopher knew how to practise as well as to 
formulate these rules. In order to make the occasion 
cheerful and to avoid being left to his meditations, 
he generally had t wo guests for dinner ; on special occa 
sions there were five, his household arrangements not 
being adapted to entertain more than six persons. ( rs ) 
It was only on his birthday that this number was 
exceeded. lie regarded Chesterfield s rule as excellent ; 
namely, that the company at table, the host included, 


should not be less than the Graces nor more than tho 
Muses; and he thought that for the most enjoyable 
company the number of the Graces should not bo 
greatly exceeded. It was his wish that the guests 
should come for the special purpose of enjoying each 
other s company, not for the sake of the eating, which 
they could do at home. 

For many years he ate only one meal a day, but 
that with a keen appetite. The dinner usually con 
sisted of three courses, namely, soup, dried pulse with 
fish, and a roast, together with a dessert of cheese, 
to which fruit was added in summer. When he enter 
tained a large company, an extra course was provided 
and also cake. Every guest had a pint bottle of wine 
beside his plate, red or white, whichever he preferred. 
Kant had the reputation of being a very hearty eater, 
but it should be remembered that for many years, 
aside from the tea in the morning, he took no other 
refreshment between his dinners. He always drank 
wine and water at dinner, never beer, against which he 
had a strong prejudice. If he heard of any one who 
died in the prime of life, Kant would say, " He 
probably drank beer;" and if the indisposition of a 
person was mentioned, he was apt to ask, " Does he 
drink beer at night ? " He regarded that beverage as 
slow poison. 

As a host, Kant made special efforts to please his 
guests, and noted their favourite dishes, in order that 
he might provide them when they appeared at the 
table the next time. In the invitation of his guests he 
manifested unusual delicacy, never inviting them on 
the preceding day, lest the acceptance of his invitation 
at that time might interfere with accepting any other 


invitation which they might receive; but he always 
invited them on the day their company was desired. 
For awhile Professor Kraus dined with him daily, 
Sundays excepted ; yet Kant had him invited every 
morning, thinking that this was required by politeness ; 
and though Kant was a regular Sunday guest at the 
house of an English friend, named Motherby (Green s 
partner), this friend, in deference to his views, was 
careful to send him an invitation every Sunday 

ills usual guests, knowing his rigid punctuality, 
were careful to arrive in time; and promptly at one 
o clock Lampe would open the door and say, " The 
soup is on the table." In passing from the study to 
the dining-room the weather was the usual subject of 
conversation, the theme being continued after they 
were seated. This was one of his favourite topics. 
lie made his observations of its state with curious 
care, frequently consulting the barometer and thermo 
meter, which were hung conveniently near for that 
purpose; he discussed the influence of the weather on 
health and mortality, and liked to have his guests 
speak on the same topic. Instead of regarding it as a 
hackneyed theme which should be excluded from 
society, he thought it the most natural topic to intro 
duce a conversation. Other subjects might seem 
abrupt, but tin? weather naturally suggests itself when 
one lias just come into the house, and especially is it 
an excellent and easy theme for young persons and 
those easily embarrassed. ( 7I ) 

When seated at table, Kant would say, " Xow, 
gentlemen ! " which was the signal for beginning the 
dinner. He wanted his miests to feel as much at 


home as if in their own house ; ceremony was banished, 
and each guest, contrary to the rules prevalent in 
society, was expected to help himself. Kant set the 
example of freedom from restraint, to promote which 
he sometimes used provincialisms, and encouraged his 
guests to clothe same. As no ladies were present, the 
conventional forms of mixed society were the more 
easily laid aside. 

Careful as Kant was to provide for the appetite of 
his guests, he was still more solicitous to promote 
their social enjoyment. In his estimation, hearty 
cheerfulness was the best spice for the entertainment, 
and towards furnishing this he did his part. Not only 
was he fond of talking, but he also had remarkable 
conversational powers ; and even if his guests had 
little to say, he was satisfied if they were good listeners. 
Philosophy was usually excluded, since it required too 
much reflection, and he rarely made mention of his 
own books. It usually displeased him to hear unfavour 
able comments on others ; nor did he like allusions to 
crimes or great evils of society, since they suggest un 
pleasant reflections. But he liked to consider the news 
of the day, especially if political in its character ; 
medicine and sanitary affairs ; accounts of travel, 
together with the peculiarities of countries, people, 
and individuals ; general literature ; and also ordinary 
topics, such as the preparation of food. His fondness 
for tracing etymologies, as well as for humour and the 
ludicrous, was displayed to advantage at the table. 
His satire was keen, but amusing rather than stinging. 
He understood the art of combining the serious and 
the ludicrous, without detriment to either. A rich 
fund of anecdotes was at his command ; he told them 


admirably, relating with most pleasure such as took a 
humorous turn. His favourite Latin and German 
poets were also made tributary to the enlivening of 
the entertainment. Sometimes ho became deeply 
interested in a subject, spoke with much animation, 
and for the time forgot his dinner. In fact, Kant was 
the most entertaining of hosts, as well as the most 
critical of philosophers, and his guests describe his 
table-talk with an enthusiasm such as could only have 
been inspired by a man of rare conversational powers. 
He surely must have had remarkable social qualities 
who daily interested, instructed, and charmed his 
guests by the hour. The philosopher was lost in the 
agreeable companion, and the isolated student in the 
man of society and the brilliant conversationalist. But 
what to him was a mere play of the faculties would 
to many others have been work; for in the close 
distinctions, the careful analysis, the broad gene 
ralizations, the sententious and wise suggestions, 
the philosopher would appear in spite of himself, so 
that even in his play he could not get out of the 
atmosphere of his study altogether. His ready 
memory brought to his command rich stores of learn 
ing gathered from various departments of literature 
and science, and the whole was illuminated and per 
meated by his genial spirit. Here, as well as in his 
books, the marvellous fertility of his mind was 
revealed. " Even on his guests he lavished an incal 
culable wealth of ideas; he often gave utterance to 
numerous sagacious thoughts, of which he himself was 
scarcely conscious afterwards, or which lie did not 
think it worth while to expand farther or to prove." 
While this daily meeting with a few select friends 


occurred only during the last seventeen years of his 
life, he occupied a prominent social position for over 
fifty years. Before he had his own table he accepted 
invitations frequently ; subsequently he found more 
pleasure in the company of his own guests than in 
general society, which he, consequently, entered only 
occasionally after he was sixty-three years of age. 
Company was a necessity to him, in order that he 
might give expression to his views and exercise his 
social nature. Rink, one of his guests, says, " For 
the last twenty-five years of his life Kant belonged to 
the world only during dinner ; and then, too, he was, 
in a certain sense, in his study. The rest of his time 
was devoted to speculation, even when he was engaged 
in considering subjects of general interest. On this 
account his views w^ere generally very attractive, those 
of the most ordinary affairs not excepted, and his con 
versation was as entertaining as it was instructive. 
But he gave himself to company rather because it was 
a necessity to him than for the sake of learning anything 
from society." Formerly he went into company in the 
evening ; but these social entertainments generally 
lasted so long as not merely to interfere seriously with 
his studies, but also with his sleep, and therefore he 
generally avoided them in later years. 

The circle in which he moved was not confined to 
scholars, but included persons of various occupations 
and degrees of attainment. Class distinctions were 
much more marked in Germany, during last century, 
than at present, and the nobility were more aristocratic 
and exclusive ; but in spite of his humble origin, Kant s 
intellectual and social superiority made him a frequent 
and welcome guest in noble families, who felt compli- 


mcntecl by the presence of so eminent and entertaining 
a scholar. In meeting merchants, seamen, military 
and civil officers, literary and scientific men, in society, 
he not only received new impulses, but also had an 
opportunity to use his varied attainments and to 
exercise and develop the popular elements of his nature. 
With all classes he became a favourite, and with some 
of the highest he became quite intimate, including 
generals, governors of the province, and the first of 
the nobility. Those who occupied the most prominent 
positions and held the highest rank were not ashamed 
to sit at his feet as learners and to do honour to his 
ripe scholarship. It is natural that his fame and his 
learning should have especially attracted men of intel 
lectual tastes and aspirations, and he frequently asso 
ciated with professors, students, ministers, physicians, 
authors, and booksellers, was free and lively with 
all, appreciated intellect wherever he found it, and his 
superior knowledge of men and his versatility enabled 
him to adapt himself to the most varied tastes and 
degrees of mental attainments. The world of children 
he scarcely knew except from his observation of them 
during his walks ; nevertheless when he met the little 
ones in the homes whose hospitality he accepted, he 
made an effort to adapt himself to them, and was 
so successful in winning their confidence that they 
anticipated his coming with glee, and gladly talked to 
him about their studies. 

"While thu speculative works of Kant give no idea of 
the popular elements in him, he wrote other books 
which reveal these qualities almost as clearly as they 
were seen in his social intercourse. That this dry 
metaphysician could also be sprightly and popular is 



evident from Ins book on " The Emotion of the Beauti 
ful and the Sublime." Rosenkranz portrays the author 
as he imagines him to have appeared when this book 
was published, in 1764, at the age of forty. ( 75 ) 
" Kant, at the time he wrote this book and so 
diligently enlarged it, seems to have studied man in 
his empirical reality with much pleasure. The very 
contrast with his former abstract studies probably 
made his naturally naive and penetrating observation 
the more keen. Imagine the beautiful magister, as 
they called him in the city, in elegant attire, when, his 
morning lectures being finished, he visited a restaurant 
before dinner, took a cup of tea or coffee, and played 
a game of billiards ; picture him to yourself after this 
at table, entertaining his companions with his humour ; 
and then, after he has worked again and taken his 
walk, see him in the evening, as Herder describes him, 
shining in all classes of society ! Would one not 
believe that I am not speaking of last century, least 
of all of Kant, but of a philosopher of our own times 
in Paris ? " The company which he entered, as well 
as his books, was a study to him, audit was the means 
of enlarging his views of human nature. The same 
author says, " It is astonishing how, without ever 
having travelled, he studied the whole world, and 
became acquainted with every people, with every class, 
and with every important city." 

The time just described, namely, when he was forty 
years of age, was probably his most brilliant social 
period. Aspiring, spirited, and versatile, he was 
hearty in his social relations as he was profound in his 
studies. It was at this time that Hamann wrote, 
" Kant loves the truth as much as he does the tone of 


good society." Herder was his student during this 
period, and his enthusiastic account of the philosopher 
introduces him to us as a popular lecturer and brilliant 
companion, as well as a metaphysician. Much of his 
sprightliness and vigour were lost in old age ; but 
his fondness for company and his social influence con 
tinued as long as he was able to enter society. We 
have a sketch of him in the social circle at the age of 
seventy, which represents him as still lively and enter 
taining. In 1794 one who belonged to the number of 
his guests invited him to his wedding. " Seated at 
table, opposite the bridal couple, he not only enter 
tained them with continual conversation, but the entire 
company, which was pretty large, listened eagerly to 
his remarks made in a low tone ; when he lost himself 
too deeply in thought, he would skilfully and grace 
fully change the current by means of a joke, which 
gave occasion for a laugh." ( 76 ) 

Another account of the philosopher about the same 
time, or perhaps a few years later, reveals him as he 
appeared in his own house. " He receives you kindly, 
converses on the most sublime or the most ordinary 
affairs, as you please, and docs not become impatient 
at your long stay. How significant this patience is in 
the case of a man like Kant, you can imagine when 
you remember that his name is known from the rising 
to the setting of the sun, and his fame has spread 
everywhere ; that nearly every traveller desires to see 
him, and that he rarely refuses any one this privilege ; 
and that among these curious ones are, no doubt, many 
who know little or nothing of him except his name, and 
who think of the great Kant only as a giant. ... If 
you come with a letter of recommendation, or if ho 

N 2 


takes a fancy to you, he will probably invite you to Ins 
small dinner-party ; for he rarely eats alone, but has 
one or two friends, though never a large company. 
These small gatherings have this pleasant feature that, 
independent of what a dainty palate may find there, 
they have great attractions for the mind, since Kant 
makes a constant effort to entertain his friends. And 
when I tell you that this man unites a comprehensive 
genius with a great mass of choice knowledge gathered 
from all branches of science and literature ; that his 
conversation is most agreeable, and that he speaks 
much and with pleasure : then you will readily believe 
me that a person cannot hear him enough, and that, 
without longing for them, one is reminded of the 
symposia of the wise men of Greece. He is particu 
larly fond of physical geography and politics ; espe 
cially are political affairs his favourite themes, or rather 
his recreation. A large part of his spare hours, 
especially Sunday forenoons, he spends in reading 
newspapers and other periodical literature. It is 
exceedingly interesting and instructive to hear his 
opinions of the subjects discussed, for he throws light 
on many points, and through his keen insight much 
which seems insignificant becomes highly important ; 
he espies unsuspected causes of effects which seem to 
be altogether heterogeneous ; and finally he draws 
conclusions from the present respecting the future, 
some of which have proved to be only too true. 
Especially must his remarks, descriptions, and anec 
dotes, respecting geography, particularly physical 
geography, rivet the attention of every one." The 
writer says that Kant is acquainted with the " situa 
tion, climate, government, and remarkable and peculiar 

ms SOCIETY Mini sorcirr. 181 

features of all lands," and adds, " You can well 
imagine that every intelligent person desires and seeks 
the company and conversation of such a man. The 
first merchants of Konigsberg seek to draw him into 
their circle, and he by no means lives like an anchoret 
in the lonely Princess Street. Gladly and frequently 
he enters society . . . and is, as it were, the soul of these 
social circles ; for he likes to talk alone and to mono 
polize the conversation, which in others is generally 
regarded as a fault, but is gladly seen in his case." 
We are not surprised that the author of this sketch says 
that one would hardly believe this merry companion to 
be the author of the " Kritik of Pure Reason." ( 77 ) 
Indeed, this bachelor philosopher was declared by 
friends to be the most agreeable man they had ever 
met in society. 

While a dogmatic tone in company offended him, 
direct and persistent contradiction angered him. His 
great attainments, his social position, his fame and 
influence, gave him confidence in himself and a 
supremacy which could not easily be disputed. If 
contradicted, he was sometimes free in showing his 
displeasure, and in giving unmistakable proof that 
his emotional nature was not wholly suppressed. 
Kant knew full well what was due to him, and 
he demanded from others that respect which he 
was himself ready to manifest towards them. In 
his advanced years he required that the strangers 
who desired to meet him at the houses of friends should 
first call on him, a rule to which persons high in 
authority were no exception. Xicolavius, Kant s 
publisher in Konigsberg, invited him to his house to 
meet Count F. L. von Stolberg, who was on his way 


to St. Petersburg ; but as the count had not called on 
him, he refused to go. When, however, on the count s 
return to Konigsberg, he visited the philosopher, Kant 
accepted the invitation of his publisher to meet the 
distinguished nobleman. 

A spirit of servility and expressions of excessive 
devotion and humiliation were common even among 
scholars. In proportion as genuine worth decreased, 
the love of its counterfeit, empty titles, seemed to 
increase, together with the tendency to use hyper 
bolical expressions of regard. Kant, especially in his 
later years, despised this spirit, whether it appeared in 
society or literature, and desired a politeness which 
was deeper than the surface, and a refinement in which 
there was truth and honesty, heartiness and indepen 

But little can be said of the relation of Kant to his 
kindred. Between him and his brother there was no 
intimacy while the latter was a student. Borowski, 
who lived in Konigsberg, says, " Here their relation and 
intercourse amounted to nothing more than that the 
younger heard the lectures of his brother Immanuel, 
and after the lectures they perhaps exchanged a few 
words with each other." For many years his rela 
tives in Konigsberg received no attention or recogni 
tion from him, and he rarely spoke of them to his 
acquaintances. Though he lived in the same city with 
his sisters, it is said that he did not speak to them 
for twenty-five years. ( 78 ) They had been servant- 
girls, and had married according to their rank ; but 
however illiterate they were, and however humble 
their station, this conduct is surprising, and the 
most charitable construction that can be put on the 


matter suggests a weakness in this man who was so 
truly great in many respects. Jachmann attempts to 
explain this treatment of his sisters, by the statement 
that his studies and position had taken him altogether 
out of the sphere of his family; that he was at that 
time in such moderate circumstances that he could 
not give them the help which they probably expected ; 
and that he feared lest he might prove a burden to 
them ; but such reasons have little or no weight where 
there is any family affection. In his old age he held 
more communication with them, and also gave them 
pecuniary aid. Pie presented to each niece a wedding- 
gift, and bestowed a pension on his younger sister, as 
well as on the widow of his brother, giving annually 
two hundred dollars or more to his relatives, who also 
inherited the greater part of his property. 

His younger sister was brought to his house some 
six months before his death, in order to assist in 
nursing him. She was six years his junior, and 
resembled him strikingly ; in early life they had been 
much attached to each other. When brought to his 
house it seemed to require a special effort on his part 
to realize that she was his sister ; when he recognized 
her as such he apologized for her lack of culture. (") 

When we consider the breadth and depth of Kant s 
knowledge, his profound views of human nature, and 
his observations in society, wo arc surprised that in 
his views of woman he did not rise above the ordinary 
prejudices of the day. Her intellectual and social 
position was lower then than at present, though there 
are still many in Germany who have a mortal dread 
that the higher education of woman may tranHcrnd 
the limits fixed by nature for her intellectual develop- 


merit. Those who expect from Kant broad views 
respecting woman, must not forget to study his 
opinions in the light of that day ; even then they w r ill 
likely conclude that the philosophic bachelor, limited 
in his observations of humanity to Konigsberg, early 
losing his mother, and avoiding all intercourse with 
his sisters, was not the man to do justice to woman. 
Touching many womanly qualities he speaks beauti 
fully and justly, saying much that is apt and striking ; 
but, taken as a whole, his views of her are unworthy 
of his great name. 

In his book on " The Emotion of the Beautiful and 
the Sublime," he characterizes the female as the beau 
tiful, and the male as, essentially, the noble and the 
sublime sex ; and his effort to be consistent with this 
classification makes him unjust, so that he fails to dis 
cover the noble and sublime qualities so often found 
in woman. He regards the difference of sex as the 
peculiar charm of woman, and places a low estimate 
on her mental attractiveness. She may study pro 
foundly, but it will be at the expense of her real 
charms. "A woman who has her head full of Greek, 
or who can dispute learnedly on mechanics, might also 
have a beard, for this would probably help to give 
more fully that look of profundity which she seeks to 
obtain." ( 80 ) " The beautiful understanding chooses, 
as objects of study, whatever is related to the finer 
feelings, and leaves abstract speculation or knowledge, 
which is useful but dry, to the diligent, thorough, 
and deep understanding ; therefore woman will not 
study geometry." 

His notion of woman s education corresponds with 
his opinion of her intellectual capacities and mission. 


The view of a map of the world is to be made pleasant 
to her, and a general and superficial knowledge of 
the earth is all that women need. "Neither is it 
necessary for them to know anything more of the 
universe than is required to make a view of the 
heavens, on a beautiful evening, affecting, after they 
have in some measure apprehended the fact that there 
arc other worlds than ours, and that in them beautiful 
creatures are found." Her science is not reasoning, 
but the emotions ; and he says with respect to her 
education, " There should never be cold and specula 
tive instruction, but always emotions, and these should 
be such as lie as near as possible to her sexual rela 

He does not regard woman capable of great moral 
strength, and thinks that she will not avoid evil 
because it is wrong, but because it is ugly. For 
women there must be "nothing of shall, nothing of 
must, nothing of duty. . . . They do a tiling only 
because it pleases them, and the art consists in making 
them love only what is good. I scarcely believe that 
the beautiful sex has capacity for principles ; and 1 
hope that in making this statement I do not offend, 
for these are very rare even among men. Instead of 
these, Providence has put into their bosom kind and 
beneficent emotions, a fine sense of propriety, and an 
obliging soul. By no means let sacrifices and grand 
self-restraint be required. A man must never tell his 
wife if he risks a part of his wealth for the sake of a 
friend. Why should he fetter her cheerful talkative 
ness by burdening her mind with weighty secrets 
which belong only to him? Even many of her faults 
are, so to speak, beautiful faults." 


When woman remained in what he regarded as her 
proper sphere, he spoke of her kindly and respectfully. 
Heilsberg, his friend from his youth, said, " He was 
no great admirer of the female sex, and declared that 
they deserved esteem nowhere except at home, and 
for their domestic virtues." Eegarding their social 
influence as refining, he advised his young friends to 
associate with ladies of culture. He said, " A man 
has taste for his own sake ; a woman makes herself 
an object of taste for every one." But while admit 
ting this refining influence of ladies society, he did not 
want them to converse with him on learned topics, 
and disliked to hear them speak about his " Kritik;" 
and though he spoke frequently and even passionately 
on the French Revolution, he did not want a woman 
to talk to him on the subject. Once a lady persisted 
in speaking with him on learned affairs, which he 
as persistently tried to avoid ; observing this, she 
remarked that women might be learned as well as 
men, and that there had been scholarly women. Kant 
answered, " Yes, indeed, such as they were ! " At 
another time, having discussed at length the prepara 
tion of food, one of his favourite topics, a lady highly 
esteemed by him said, " It really seems, dear professor, 
as if you regarded all of us as mere cooks." He then 
spoke of cooking and its supervision as an honour to 
any woman, and presented such cogent reasons as to 
win the favour of all the ladies present. 

In society he frequently showed much attention to 
ladies, and gave evidence of fondness for their company. 
Nor was the critical philosopher blind to the fascinations 
of artless and beautiful young ladies ; on the contrary, 
he took pleasure in conversing with them. He prized 


the presence of women chiefly as a means of recreation; 
and lie says that the society of women is not in 
tended for conversation which leads to reflection, but 
for the recreation of men. The ladies whom he appre 
ciated most were those who were endowed with taste and 
with the power to charm, but who nevertheless culti 
vated the domestic virtues. Holding that womankind 
has a passion for dominion, he said, " Woman, because 
she always wants to rule, does not hesitate to marry 
a fool." Instead of seeking to rule, he wants her to be 
humble, retiring, and satisfied with her domestic sphere. 

Sometimes woman was the subject of his playful 
humour. He compared her with a town clock, saying 
that she ought to be like one, so as to do everything 
punctually, to the very minute ; and yet not like one 
in proclaiming all secrets publicly. Again, he com 
pared her with a snail, declaring that she should be 
domestic and attached to her home ; and yet she should 
not be like a snail so as to carry all she has on her 
back. Once he proved to some ladies that they could 
not get to heaven ; for, he said, in Revelation it is stated 
that there was silence in heaven for half an hour, a 
condition of things which cannot be imagined where 
there are women. 

Kant s views of woman were too common in Germany, 
during the eighteenth century, to occasion much sur 
prise;^ 1 ) and they did not affect his position in 
society, nor did he forfeit the admiration of the 
ladies of Konigsberg. His learning and fame, his 
cultivated manners and remarkable conversational 
powers, won their admiration. Countess Kayserling 
was only one of the many ladies who admired his 
superb talents and sought his company. After his death 


a noble lady wrote, " I have enjoyed beautiful and 
spirited conversations with this interesting and cele 
brated man. In the house of my cousin I daily con 
versed with this lovely companion. . . . Kant was a 
friend of this family for thirty years. . . . Often I saw 
him there when he was so entertaining that one would 
never have suspected in him the deep thinker who 
brought about so great a revolution in philosophy. In 
conversation he sometimes clothed even abstract ideas 
in a lovely garb, and he lucidly explained every state 
ment he made. Charming wit was at his command, 
and occasionally his conversation was seasoned with 
light satire, expressed naturally and in the driest 
tone."( 82 ) In spite of his dread of learned women, 
some ladies studied his philosophy and became his 
professed disciples. 

With such views of woman and with his depreciation 
of the emotions, we cannot expect exalted views of 
marriage from the bachelor philosopher; he, in fact, 
regarded it rather as a yoke for both husband and 
wife.( 83 ) The " Anthropology " says, " He who loves, 
may still be able to see; he who falls in love is un 
avoidably blind towards the beloved object ; but in a 
week after marriage he usually regains his sight." He 
gave friends the advice to marry from rational con 
siderations rather than for the sake of the affections ; 
and he enforced his advice by relating the experience 
of a man who had married twice, his first wife chiefly 
for her wealth, the second because he loved her, 
and in the end he found that he had been as happy 
with the one as with the other. Kant thought that 
money would outlast beauty and all other charms, and 
Avould confer enduring benefits. 


While lie was not really averse to marriage, and 
sometimes even desired to aid a- friend in the choice 
of a companion, he nevertheless extolled the advan 
tages of single blessedness. His most favourite poem 
was an epithalamium, which praised celibacy, men 
tioning as illustrious examples the Pope, Democritus, 
Thales, Descartes, and Leibnitz. With special pleasure 
and marked emphasis he always gave the thought, 
" Permit me to say that I have no wife."( sl ) The 
poem closed with a special reference to the couple for 
whose wedding it was written, making them an ex 
ception to the general rule that single life is preferable 
to marriage. This close particularly pleased the 
philosopher, and he frequently quoted it when any 
exception to a rule was discussed : 

" The rule remains, Otic should not marry ; 
But we except this worthy pair."( M ) 

Kant, the confirmed bachelor, might extol single 
blessedness ; but in his younger years he had doubts 
whether he himself ought not to form an exception to 
the rule that one should not marry. Even the critical 
metaphysician was not wholly a stranger to the emotion 
of love. One of his books, written at the age of forty, 
contains this passage, where he speaks of the charms 
of woman : " I do not like to enter into detailed 
analyses of this kind, for in such cases the author 
always seems to describe his own affections. Where 
the poet writes a sonnet to become master of his heart, 
the philosopher writes a treatise." It has been sus 
pected that this was written when he was moved by 
the attractions of some lady, There are evidences of 
at least three love affairs, and there is no doubt that he 
had serious intentions of marriage. Once his heart 


was touched by a gentle and attractive widow, who was 
visiting relatives in Konigsberg. Kant came to the 
conclusion that she would make him a suitable com 
panion, and he would have liked to marry her; but he 
who was so prompt in other affairs, weighed this 
serious matter so philosophically, and to determine 
whether he could afford to marry, he estimated his 
income and expenses so mathematically, that while he 
was still trying to solve the knotty problems involved, 
the charming widow left the city and married another 
man. The second time he was captivated by a pretty 
"Westphalian maiden, who came to Konigsberg as the 
travelling-companion of a noble lady. She was clever 
and had received a careful domestic training, and 
Kant repeatedly gave evidence that he took pleasure 
in her society. It is probable that in theory it was 
already settled that she should be Mrs. Kant, but his 
matrimonial did not surpass his mechanical .skill ; he 
again delayed his proposal, and she was already on the 
border of Westphalia before he knew of her departure. 
At another time he was disposed to marry a lady who 
lived in Konigsberg; but on a nearer acquaintance 
she lost her attractions, and he regarded her as unfit 
for his companion. ( fc6 ) 

While his heart may have held secret treasures of 
affection, those mentioned are the only cases known 
to have led our philosopher to the verge of matrimony. 
If he had been less deliberate, he might have had 
occasion to praise married life as he did the single 
state. After these three experiences in love affairs, he 
seems to have abandoned all thought of marriage, and 
sometimes he would leave a company in displeasure 
where, even in sport, he was exhorted to marry. 


Some of his friends were solicitous that he should 
enter the matrimonial state; and one day, when Kant 
was already seventy, a friend entered his room and asked 
him whether he was not going to marry, at the same 
time presenting the advantages of the married state. 
The philosopher, however, treated the affair humor 
ously. The friend then gave him a small pamphlet on 
marriage, declaring that he had published it chiefly in 
the hope of inducing him to marry. Kant took the 
pamphlet politely, paid the expense of its publication, 
and treated the whole matter as a good joke. 




Views of friendship Excellence of heart Countess Kayserling 
General Meyer Green Motherby Hamann Von Hippel 
Scheffner Borowski Jachmann Kraus. 

KANT was too cold, critical, and calculating, to be 
ardent as a lover or a friend ; and even if his emotional 
nature had been more developed, he lived too much 
in his speculations, and yielded too little to the 
impulses of the heart, to cultivate enthusiastic friend 
ship. " He was never diffuse in compliments or in 
empty phrases, and least of all was he lavish in the 
effusions of his heart. His friendship always remained 
good, substantial prose." This statement of Borowski 
is confirmed by Wasianski : " Kant had adopted the 
delusive paradox of Aristotle, * My friends ! there are 
no friends/ He seemed not to give the expression 
friend the usual meaning, but rather to regard it 
somewhat as servant is used at the close of a letter." 
In speaking of him as an old man, he adds, " Till 
now he had been sufficient unto himself ; and as he 
knew suffering only by name, he had needed no friend." 
But in his helplessness, Kant admitted that Aristotle s 
paradox is false, and that friendship is something real. 
There were only two or three friends whom he 


addressed with the familiar " Du " (Thou), which 
among the Germans implies special intimacy ; and 
these had all been fellow-students. Even in their 
case this mode of address at last became distasteful 
to him, but he declared that it was then unavoidable. 
To his most intimate guests his relation was that of a 
kind, spirited, and familiar acquaintance rather than 
of affectionate friendship. In one of his books he 
says that a friend in need is much to be desired ; " but 
it is also a great burden to be tied to the fate of others 
and to be loaded with their needs." Whilst it may 
be consonant with love to accept a benefit from another, 
he thinks it lowers esteem for self, and that, conse 
quently, one prefers to bear his burdens alone and 
to conceal them from others, though he will flatter 
himself that in time of need he can depend on the 
assistance of his friend. Expressions like these, made 
when he was seventy-three, give an insight into his 
emotional nature, and create the suspicion that ho 
had no conception of a love which sacrifices cheerfully, 
expects no recompense, implies no subjection on the 
part of the recipient, has its source in the very nature 
of the heart, and finds a rich reward in obeying its own 
impulses. Instead of an affectionate, he wants a moral 
friendship, which he defines as the full confidence of 
two persons in each other in the mutual communica 
tion of their private views and feelings so far as they 
harmonize with the esteem of each for the other. 
He in fact makes this esteem, and not affection, the 
essence, and affirms that this moral friendship which he 
advocates is different from the affectional. His friend 
ship is rather a matter of maxims than the communion 
of soul with soul. 


But while he was far from being demonstrative or 
impulsive as a friend, he was very kind, and at times 
obliging to an unusual degree. Childlikeness was 
one of his most marked characteristics ; this made 
him frank and cordial, though the rules to which he 
rigidly bound himself restrained the expressions of his 
heart. His truthfulness, integrity, and sincerity, were 
crowned by a generous nature; but he had so disciplined 
this nature that its generosity ran in the grooves of 
maxims, instead of being a freely flowing spring 
bubbling spontaneously from the heart. While later 
in life the halo of glory thrown around him by his 
great fame no doubt helped to inspire that enthusiasm 
with which numerous admirers speak of him, the 
devoted and lasting attachment of so many can only 
be accounted for by admitting the existence of the 
excellencies of heart and mind which they ascribe to 
him. AVasianski says, " He was very humane, was 
free from all desire to domineer, was no one s enemy, 
treated his colleagues with confidence and friendship, 
aided young scholars with counsel and otherwise, and 
introduced young authors to the public by writing 
prefaces for their books." Jachmann s brother was 
desirous of studying in Edinburgh and travelling 
afterwards. Kant became interested in the project, 
and set aside five hundred thalers on which the young 
man was at liberty to draw at any time ; and when he 
found no occasion to use the money the philosopher 
was disappointed. Having recommended a young 
man to a chaplaincy, he discussed the trial sermon 
with him several days before it was preached, so as to 
make sure that it would prove acceptable ; and when 
it was delivered he sent a friend to the church to hear 


it, and immediately report the impression it made. 
For the same person he afterwards secured a position 
as teacher, and used his personal influence to secure 
pupils for the school. Many who were in perplexity 
or need were recipients of his kindness, and some of 
the letters from his students are filled with expressions 
of gratitude for the many benefits received from him. 

Although he did not like to visit sick friends, he 
kept himself informed respecting their condition. 
When his friend Motherby was dangerously ill, Jach- 
rnann was required to report his condition, and the 
opinions of his physicians, twice a day. After tho 
decease of acquaintances, lie preferred not to converse 
about them ; but when they were mentioned, he would 
say, " Let the dead rest with the dead," or, " It is all 

During the life of the countess, Kant s intimacy 
with the Kayserling family continued. Hamann says 
of this family, " This house is the crown of our 
nobility, and is distinguished above all others by its 
hospitality, benevolence, and taste." Professor Kraus, 
who had also occupied the position of family tutor in 
this house, says of the table-talk of the countess, 
" She speaks incessantly to me alone ; and of what, do 
you think ? Of the theories of light by Euler and 
Newton ; of the Edda ; of superstition and unbelief, 
which of the two is worse ; of new discoveries and new 

books She takes all the French journals and 

does nothing but read." This countess, who of all 
women, his mother alone excepted, seems to have 
exerted the greatest influence on Kant, gathered around 
her the scholars, literary men, and nobility of Konigs- 
berg. Kant, Hamann, Kraus, Ilippol, and other men 

o 2 


of letters, besides the highest civil and military officers, 
were frequent guests in the Kayserling palace. In 
this illustrious company she took special delight in 
honouring Kant, whose talents and scholarship had 
received so much of their polish under her refining 
influence. In refinement and social culture he was 
adapted to the most elegant society, while in intellect 
and in conversational powers he surpassed all others 
who frequented this house. Here the popular and 
brilliant Kant shone to the best advantage. Unless 
strangers were present, he always occupied the seat of 
honour next to the countess. His position in this 
circle gives an idea of his social standing in the city, 
he being the most popular as well as the most enter 
taining and the most inspiring member of the most 
cultivated society. 

His more popular lectures arrested the attention of 
the officers of the city soon after he became a teacher, 
and the governors and military commanders admired 
his scholarship and sought his company. In 1764 
Hamann speaks of Kant s relation to General Meyer, 
who was commander of a regiment of dragoons and 
also governor of the province. " He is now lecturing 
on mathematics and physical geography, to General 
Meyer and his officers, which brings him much honour 
and is of great advantage. He dines with the General 
almost daily, and is brought to his lectures in a car 
riage. Swept along by a whirlpool of social distractions, 
he has a number of projects in his head, such as a 
system of morality, an essay on a new metaphysic, an 
extract from his geography, and a number of minor 
schemes, from which I also expect to reap some 
benefit. Whether the least of these will be accom- 


plished, I still doubt." llamann probably thought 
that society would interfere with his authorship. This 
union of social distractions and literary projects is 
characteristic of a large part of his life. 

General Meyer was a man of unusual culture, and, 
like Kant, was a bachelor. He was fond of giving 
dinner parties, to which officers and the leading 
scholars of the city were invited. His partiality for 
Kant was very marked. The General laid special 
emphasis on dignity of deportment ; and if anything 
unbecoming or unskilful was done by the officers at his 
table, he was not backward in expressing his dis 
approval. " Accordingly, one day they could not 
suppress their fear when Kant, who sat opposite the 
General, spilt some red wine on the expensive table 
cloth. The General, in order to relieve the embar 
rassment, intentionally upset his own glass ; and as 
they were conversing about the Dardanelles, he traced 
the course of the strait in the wine with his fingers. 
One aim was to show the officers that the scholar 
stood much higher in his estimation than they did."( 8? ) 

His most intimate friend was won in a peculiar way, 
and their first encounter promised anything else rather 
than friendship. Walking in a garden one day, Kant 
came upon a company in which he found an acquain 
tance with whom he entered into a conversation, in 
the course of which he spoko rather bitterly of the 
policy pursued by England. Suddenly one of the 
company sprang up angrily, and placing himself 
before Kant, he avowed that he was an Englishman, 
and declared that he as well as his whole nation had 
been insulted by the remarks made ; and in his anger 
he demanded satisfaction by means of a duel. Kant, 


not in the least disconcerted, continued the discussion 
of the subject which had given the offence, and with 
such eloquence gave the principles according to which 
events like that should be judged, that the Englishman, 
quite astonished, gave him his hand, cordially acknow 
ledged the justice of Kant s exalted ideas, asked pardon 
for his anger, accompanied him to his house, and in 
vited him to pay him a visit. This was the philo 
sopher s introduction to Green, whose pedantic 
punctuality has already been mentioned. ( 88 ) 

Green had a good mind, was well informed, and 
read much ; he was peculiar and even whimsical, but 
at the same time upright and noble. The esteem in 
which Kant held this merchant s intellectual capacities 
is shown by the fact that, as he informed Jachmann, 
he did not write a sentence in the "Kritik" which he had 
not first submitted to Green. For years the philosopher 
and the merchant were daily companions, regularly 
spending several hours together. Jachmann gives an 
amusing scene in connexion with their daily meeting, 
in which we find an exception to Kant s rule not to 
sleep in the day-time, though it may be that it 
occurred before he had adopted that rule. He went 
every afternoon to the house of his friend, who at that 
time could not go out because he suffered from podagra, 
and would usually find him asleep in his arm-chair. 
Seating himself at Green s side, he would give himself 
to meditation and also fall asleep. Generally another 
friend, a bank- director named Ruffmann, also came and 
took a nap. At an appointed time, Motherby, Green s 
partner, entered the room and awoke the trio, when 
they engaged in conversation till seven. So punctually 
did they separate at this hour, that the writer says, 


" I have often heard the inhabitants of the street say, 
1 It cannot be seven yet, for Kant has not gone by. 
On Saturday evenings these friends, joined by a few 
others, generally remained together and took tea. 

Green died in 1787, and his death is said to have 
seriously affected Kant s mode of life. After this he 
rarely went into company in the evening, which has 
been attributed to the loss of his friend ; he, however, 
began about this time to have his own table and guests, 
and this fact more than any other probably led him to 
decline invitations. 

Robert Motherby was another intimate friend of the 
metaphysician, who esteemed him highly and fre 
quently accepted his hospitality. He had come from 
Hull to manage the business of Green, who preferred 
to devote his time to reading, and in the course of time 
he was made a partner in the firm. The sons of this 
merchant also became warm friends of the philosopher. 
In oii(3 of his letters, Kant speaks of Dr. Win. Motherby 
as his special friend, just as his father had been, and 
adds, " Uprightness is his native character as well 
as that of his father." It was this son who, after 
Kant s death, proposed that his friends should meet 
annually on his birthday, to keep fresh the memory of 
the great philosopher. In associating with these 
Englishmen and with their countrymen, namely, the 
merchants and seamen whom he met at their houses, 
Kant had an opportunity to cultivate his knowledge of 
English literature and politics ; and we know that he 
was not slow in improving such opportunities. 

Among the literary men in Konigsberg with whom 
Kant associated, John George Hamann was by far the 
most eminent. Our interest in him is the greater be- 


cause we are indebted to him for many important hints 
respecting the philosopher and his labours. The rank 
assigned to him in literature is indicated by an article 
which appeared in 1853, in a journal published in 
Kb nigsberg, where both he and Kant were born and 
where they lived and died. ( 89 ) It speaks of Hamann s 
fame as promising to surpass that of the Critical 
Philosopher, although during their lives Kant was 
famous and the "Magician of the North," as Hamann 
was called, was obscure and neglected. " Verily, 
while Kant s activity almost lies closed behind us, the 
present judges otherwise respecting the Magician of 
the North, who is now honoured as one of the greatest 
and deepest thinkers of last century." But since this 
was written, the revival of interest in Kant has again 
exalted him, and has opened a new and important 
activity for his philosophy, and promises for it great 
things in the future ; and there can be no question that 
in intellectual greatness, especially in speculation, he 
was far superior to his literary friend. Hamann is, 
however, now receiving some of the merited recognition 
which his own age refused him, and his words have a 
prophetic ring : " One easily overcomes the double 
grief of being misunderstood and therefore abused by 
his own age, by cherishing confidence in the abilities of 
a better coming generation." 

Hamann was six years Kant s junior, and died six 
teen years earlier than the philosopher. Having com 
pleted his studies in his native city, he became a family 
tutor, and afterwards went to London on business for a 
firm in Riga, but was wholly unsuccessful. Becoming 
dissipated, he spent money entrusted to him by the 
firm, and became indebted to them to the amount of 


3QO/. sterling. When on the verge of despair, he 
read the Bible and professed to have been converted 
" by means of a descent to the hell of a knowledge 
of self." He wrote an autobiographic sketch of his 
experience in London, giving a minute account of 
his career in that city, and presented it to one of his 
employers in Riga, at the same time asking for the 
hand of his sister in marriage. The man was shocked 
by the perusal of this confession, and as its author 
still continued the course of idleness into which 
he had fallen, his request was refused. The sketch 
created such aversion to him that the firm felt in 
clined to have him imprisoned for having wasted their 

After visiting Riga, Hamann went to Konigsberg, 
and Mr. Berens, a member of the firm, also went to 
that city. This gentleman became intimate with Kant, 
and the two tried to rescue Ilamann from the gloom 
which had settled upon him, and to induce him to work 
and form regular habits of industry. Not only was he 
melancholy and shiftless, idle and restless, but he also 
insisted on continuing in his idleness and on letting his 
mind brood or revel as it pleased. Their efforts to in 
duce him to change his mode of life incensed him, and 
to lead them to desist he wrote his " Socratic Memora 
bilia," in which Kant and Berens are represented as 
sustaining to him the relation of Alcibiades to 
Socrates. In this little book he claims that he must 
go his own way, guided by "the word in his heart," 
which is the light of the Gospel. Hamann warmly 
defends himself, and it is evident that, on account of 
his religion, he regards himself as superior to Kant, 
whom he does not think devout enough- When this 


book appeared, Kant was thirty-five years old, and had 
been a tutor in the university for four years. 

Lindner, a mutual friend in Riga, interposed to 
restore harmony. The firm forgave the debt ; and in 
spite of Hamann s passionate words in his book, he and 
Kant remained on friendly terms. In some respects 
they were antipodes. The metaphysician was cold, 
logical, systematic, and severely regular ; Hamann was 
passionate and imaginative, a creature of moods and 
impulses. Kant made reason the rule of his life and 
the source of his philosophy ; Hamann found the 
source of both in his heart. While Kant dreaded 
enthusiasm in religion, and suspected in it superstition 
and fanaticism, Hamann revelled in enthusiasm ; and ho 
believed in revelation, miracles, and worship, differing 
also in these points from the philosopher. In some 
respects they complemented each other ; but the 
repelling elements were too strong to make them fully 
sympathetic. The difference in their stand-points, 
however, makes Hamann s views of Kant all the more 

In the course of time Hamann secured employment 
as a secretary in a government office; but business 
was irksome to him, and literature largely absorbed 
his attention. Following the bent of his own mind 
while at the university, he had spent his time there 
chiefly in studying the humanities, instead of pre 
paring for the ministry, as his father desired, or of 
studying law, though inscribed as a juridical student. 
After settling down in Konigsberg, he devoted himself 
to theology, philosophy, ancient literature, oriental 
languages, and desultory reading. He was a voracious 
reader, the ancient classics and English authors being 


among his favourites. His mind was receptive and 
creative, and was easily aroused ; his imagination was 
vivid, his heart passionate. While not the man to 
treat a subject exhaustively or systematically, he was 
original and had genius. Gifted with a keen pro 
phetic insight and remarkable intuition, his writings 
are peculiar, rich in apothegms, dark sayings, and 
riddles. His style is his own ; and the scntentiousness, 
the real profundity, and the peculiar use of figures 
and symbols, make his books obscure, and there are 
passages which he himself did not understand some 
time after they were written ; ( 90 ) but from the dark 
clouds lightning flashes give, as it were, revelations 
of nature, the heart, and divine things. Uniting in 
himself so much that is poetical, romantic, wild, and 
weird, he well deserved the regard of Kant, the high 
esteem in which Goethe and other literary men held 
him, and the name by which he is known in German 
literature, " The Magician of the North." 

Hamann, who frequently met Kant, had a profound 
admiration for his intellect, and appreciated the excel 
lence of his heart ; but he was not blind to his faults, 
and never became an advocate of his philosophy. 
Kant aided him in various ways, and permitted his 
son to hear his lectures without compensation ; Hamann 
recognized his indebtedness, and was so anxious not 
to offend his benefactor that he hesitated to critici/e 
his books as severely as he thought they deserved. 
He wrote to Herder, " Through kindness to my son, 
Kant has put me under obligation to him, so that 1 
desire, as much as you, to avoid all unpleasantness. 
Aside from the old Adam in his books, he is really 
obliging, unselfish, and at heart a good and noble- 


minded man of talent and of merit." They frequently 
discussed literary subjects. Both were more eager to 
talk than to listen, and as their differences were very 
marked, their disputes at times became quite warm ; 
both, however, loved the truth and were sincere in 
their inquiries, and each respected the views of the 

Soon after the troubles with the firm in Riga, Kant 
and Hamann, who had both been family tutors, 
planned to write a book for children, on " Physics." 
Hamann was, no doubt, better fitted for such a task 
than Kant, being better able to enter into sympathy 
with children. For some reason the philosopher 
dropped the matter, and Hamann, with considerable 
passion, and in an imperious tone, wrote to him, to 
reprove him for abandoning the project. He admits 
his learning, and recognizes him as a philosopher, but 
charges him with vanity and a lack of candour. Pro 
bably hinting that if Kant aided in writing such a book 
as that contemplated, he would accomplish something 
more useful than he had yet done, he says, " It is as 
easy to preach to scholars as it is to cheat honest people ; 
nor is it a dangerous or a responsible work, because 
most of them are already so perverted that a venture 
some author cannot any more confuse their mode of 
thinking. Even the blind heathen had regard for 
children ; and a baptized philosopher ought to know 
that, in order to write for children, more is required 
than the wit of Fontenelle and a coquettish style. One 
would injure children by that which petrifies beautiful 
spirits and inspires beautiful marble." Evidently re 
garding the philosopher as too far removed from the 
simple nature of children to adapt himself to their 


needs, he warns him that he who would write for them 
must have a knowledge of children, such as neither 
the gallant nor the academic world can give. This 
was said when Kant was as brilliant in society as in 
the lecture-room. Hamann s severity is seen in the 
following : " The spirit of our book must be moral ; 
but if we ourselves are not moral, how can we impart 
a moral spirit to our books, and communicate it to 
our readers ? We should obtrude ourselves as blind 
leaders of the blind ; obtrude ourselves, I say, with 
out a calling and without necessity." This is pro 
bably merely a hint that Kant was not frank towards 
Hainann in this matter. Kant did not reply to these 
insinuations and appeals, and the project of writing 
the book, of which the philosopher seemed to think 
little, while Ilamanu regarded it as very important, 
was dropped. 

Their temperaments and stand-points made such 
conflicts unavoidable. The impulsive, unreserved 
Magician could not put himself in the place of the 
self-possessed Critical Philosopher. If Hainann was 
one-sided, was Kant less so? Were not the qualities 
which had been excessively developed by the one, the 
very things which the other had neglected ? In later 
years Hamann dealt less passionately with his eminent 
friend, and frequently speaks of him with great praise, 
lie, indeed, thought that the remarkable fame of the 
thinker had made him somewhat vain, but for this he 
blamed him less than the public. Once he exclaimed, 
" How long was this great man obliged to be a tutor 
in the university ! How miserable was his condition 
as a student ! But with what modesty he afterwards 
enjoyed his great triumphs ! " His conflicting views 


of Kant must bo ascribed largely to the changes in his 
own variable moods. 

Another of the more noted of Kant s acquaintances 
in Kb nigsberg was T. Gr. von Hippel, an author of 
some repute, who by means of his indomitable energy 
had worked his way from obscurity and poverty to 
position and wealth. Like other associates of the 
philosopher, he was capricious ; a strange man, in 
whoso character apparently contradictory elements 
were constantly cropping out. Being unsettled in his 
plans after finishing his studies at Kb nigsberg, his love 
for a young lady of rank led him to study law with 
great zeal and sacrifice, in the hope that he might gain 
a position which would enable him to make her his 
wife ; but after completing this study he abandoned all 
thought of marriage, in order to devote himself com 
pletely to intellectual and practical pursuits. He 
wrote a book on " Marriage," and a play on " The 
Man regulated by the Watch ;" but " the greatest 
eulogist of marriage remained unmarried, and the 
author of ( The Man regulated by the Watch never 
possessed a watch. He loved money, but rarely had 
any ; he collected the emblems of death, and placed 
them about him, and often spoke and wrote about 
dying, yet he was afraid of death ; he found that life 
insipid which he was loth to leave." ( 9I ) 

Kant, who was attracted by that which was peculiar 
and paradoxical, took pleasure in Hippel s company, 
at whose house he was accustomed to meet men like 
Hamann, Borowski, Scheffner, Jensch, a lawyer, 
Lawson, a poet, and Fischer, who was a preacher. 
Jensch was also a bachelor, as well as Hippel and 
Kant. Hippel s house was, in fact, a favourite rendez- 


vous for the literary men of the city. lie himself was 
greatly influenced by English authors, Fielding and 
Sterne being his literary models. 

Hippel published a book on " Marriage," in 1774, 
and one on "The Course of Life," in 1778, both of 
which appeared anonymously. They contained so 
many thoughts which were afterwards found in Kant s 
metaphysical works, that it was suspected that he was 
either their author, or had aided in their preparation. 
After Hippel s death in 17%, Kant, being requested 
to indicate his relation to these books, stated that he 
took no part in preparing them ; and of the thoughts 
which were so similar to his own he gives this explana 
tion : " They gradually passed, fragmentary, into the 
manuscripts of my hearers ; but I could not bring 
these thoughts into a system until the period between 
the years 1770 and 1780. The notes of my pupils on 
my lectures on logic, morality, natural law, &c., but 
especially those on anthropology, were (as is usually 
the case when the teacher does not read) very imper 
fect. These notes fell into the hands of the deceased, 
and were sought by him because, besides the dry 
scientific elements, they also contained much that is 
popular, and which the enlightened man could use in 
his writings." There is, however, still another way of 
accounting for at least some of Kant s thoughts in 
these books. Hippel is said to have caught much of 
his inspiration, and to have taken many of his thoughts, 
from the conversation of the literary men who were 
frequently his guests, and is reported to have made 
arrangements to be called away from the table at stated 
times, in order that in a neighbouring room lie might 
jot down the most important thoughts he had heard. 


Of the literary men who frequented Hippel s house, 
J. G. SchefFner, councillor of war, was another strange 
character. He was twelve years younger than Kant, 
and was one of the last survivors of his friends, dying 
August 20, 1820. Scheffner associated with all the 
literary characters of Konigsberg, composed military 
poems, made translations from foreign languages, and 
was the author of books, essays, and reviews ; and 
through these various labours, and by means of his 
counsel, deeds, and social power, he exerted a great 
influence, and has been called "The Franklin on the 
shore of the Baltic." That like other friends of the 
great philosopher, he, too, was eccentric, is seen in his 
arrangements for his funeral. Some time before his 
death he had a plain coffin made for himself, chose 
the place where his remains were to be deposited, and 
arranged all the details of his burial. He even com 
posed the hymns to be sung on that occasion, and 
named certain persons who were to be invited to his 
house a few days after his funeral, where they were to 
partake of a dinner and be of good cheer. They came, 
but felt their loss too keenly to enjoy the occasion. 

Although Scheffner was not one of Kant s more 
intimate guests, he frequently entertained the philo 
sopher, and he also visited him when too feeble to 
leave the house. In his Autobiography he relates an 
incident which illustrates the desire of the philosopher 
always to help himself and to be independent of others. 
" During a visit, made about a year before his death, 
he could not find the word he wished to use in the 
conversation. When I wanted to help him, he seized 
my hands, saying, No, no, friend! do not help me; 
my head must itself find it. He then went over 


different expressions until he found the right one, 
which he accompanied with a well-satisfied " Do you 
see, friend?" His attachment to the philosopher 
was proved some time after Kant s death by his efforts 
to make the surroundings of his grave worthy of the 
memory of his eminent friend. 

L. E. Borowski was not only a friend of Kant, but 
also his biographer. Having entered the University 
of Konigsberg in 1755, the year in which Kant became 
a teacher, he heard the first lectures of the philosopher. 
He spent his whole life in Konigsberg, became Arch 
bishop of the Evangelical Church, the only functionary 
of that rank in Prussia, and died in 1831. His ac 
quaintance with Kant, for fifty years, and his residence 
in the same city, gave him unusual facilities for ob 
taining a knowledge of the life and character of his 
teacher. When requested to deliver an address before 
the German Society of Konigsberg in ] 792, he chose 
"Kant" as his subject, and sent the manuscript of 
his speech to the philosopher, stating his purpose, and 
requesting him to make erasures, remarks, or additions, 
as he thought best. Kant complied with his request, 
but at the same time expressed his desire that the 
address should not be delivered, much less published, 
during his life, though he willingly consented to let the 
manuscript become the basis of a biography to be 
published after his death. Borowski respected this 
desire, and after Kant s death he published the manu 
script, with the philosopher s emendations, and added 
other biographical material so as to bring the history 
of the great man down to the close of his life. Of the 
various biographies of Kant, by friends and cotem- 
poraries, that of Borowski is the most valuable, and 



peculiar significance is, of course, to be attached to 
that part which received Kant s review and sanction. 

R. B. Jachmann entered the University of Kb nigs- 
berg, his native city, in 1784, became Kant s amanu 
ensis, and remained in intimate relation with him for 
ten years. The philosopher, four years before his 
death, requested him to write his biography, and pro 
mised to lend his aid. Jachmann prepared a sketch of 
his life and, according to agreement, sent it to him 
for review ; but the aged savant was already too 
weak to revise it. In 1804 he published an account 
of Kant s life and character, in eighteen letters ; and 
although a critical spirit is lacking in them, they con 
tain much valuable material. The author s enthusiasm 
for his teacher led him to idealize his subject, and 
repeatedly one finds extravagance and hero-worship 
instead of reliable biography. 

Among the numerous pupils of Kant during his 
active connexion of more than forty years with the 
university, four or five are mentioned for whom he had 
a special regard. One of these was C. J. Kraus, with 
whom he became more intimately associated than with 
the rest. He entered the university at the age of 
seventeen, in 1770, the year in which Kant became a 
professor. Kraus heard all his lectures eagerly, and, 
like so many other bright and talented youths, became 
an enthusiastic admirer of his favourite teacher. Kant s 
instruction powerfully stimulated his mind, and excited 
doubts and inquiries about which he was anxious to con 
sult his instructor ; but the distance between professor 
and student was at that time greater than at present, 
friendly communications between them were more 
unusual, and Kraus was so modest that he did not 

KRAUS. 211 

venture to visit hiui for consultation. He, however, 
became a member of a society formed by Kant for the 
discussion of subjects connected with his lectures, 
and in one of the meetings he presented such deep 
thoughts that the philosopher, surprised at his unusual 
intellect, addressed him at the close in order to make 
his acquaintance. ( J ) Kant after this took a deep 
interest in the young man, and aided him also in other 
respects than in his intellectual development. Kraus 
became a tutor in the house of Count Kayserling, no 
doubt through Kant s great influence in that family. 
In 1 780, though only twenty-seven years old, he was 
appointed professor of practical philosophy in the 
university, and from this time he was a colleague of 
Kant, and was frequently in his company. 

While in some respects the teacher and pupil were 
remarkably alike, they were as unlike in others. Kraus, 
like his teacher, was very conscientious in meeting 
his engagements, and was prompt and punctual. 
Respecting dress their contrast was marked, Kraus 
being as negligent as Kant was careful. Through his 
teacher s influence he was induced to adopt the Kantian 
diet, and from dinner to dinner he took nothing 
but water. Kant, who was very economical and provi 
dent, advised Kraus to lay aside two hundred thalers 
annually, but ho was careless respecting money as well 
as his apparel. As a rule, Kant was strict in demand 
ing compensation for his lectures, though ho permitted 
some poor students to hear them gratis. He said 
that by neglecting to pay, the students " become spend- 
thrifty and unscrupulous ; if they neglect and cheat 
their teacher, they will also learn to cheat other persons. 
The hearer of lectures who is obliged to pay for them, 

r 2 


is iii this way made more conscientious, and is always 
impelled to be industrious ; but he who, through care 
less indulgence, interferes with the success of the 
private lectures, brings the university itself into a 
miserable condition, for no one in the world is willing 
to sacrifice his powers for nothing." Kraus, on the 
other hand, was careless about the pay of students. 
Once he gave private instruction in mathematics to 
two young men, for which each was to pay him forty 
thaler s. When the course was finished, he said to one 
of them, who is called a thorough Kantian and a con 
ceited echo of the words of the metaphysician, " I 
advise you, Mr. L., to abandon mathematics altogether, 
since you have no mind for it ; from you I shall accept 
no pay." From the other, who had learned something, 
he accepted the money. On his own income, as well 
as that of the other professors, a suggestive remark 
is made by him : " Whoever devotes himself to the 
University of Konigsberg takes the vow of poverty." 

Professor Kraus was a laborious and successful 
scholar, and said that his ardour in the study of mathe 
matics helped him to resist temptations. Like his 
teacher, he never married. Both were brilliant and 
spirited conversationists ; but while Kraus laughed 
heartily, Kant scarcely ever laughed. " Even when 
by telling funny anecdotes he made all laugh who heard 
him, he remained serious." At the university they 
were the opposite poles, the one developing his strength 
in speculative, the other in practical philosophy. In 
religion their differences were very marked. Instead 
of ridiculing worship, Kraus declared that his religion 
consisted in two things, namely in worship and in 
doing good. A friend said of him, " His heart was 

KKAUS. 213 

full of piety, without any admixture of fanaticism. In 
his last years he probably stood on a higher stand 
point than Kant for judging of the true nature of 
religion." There was in his case a beautiful blending 
of profound thought and extensive scholarship with a 
devotional spirit. Professor Kraus did not adopt the 
speculations of his teacher, and he vigorously opposed 
the mania which possessed many of the professed 
disciples of the Critical Philosophy. Quite a number 
on whom but a few rays of the system had fallen, 
imagined themselves to be wholly illuminated and 
enveloped by its light, and looked on other knowledge 
as contemptible in comparison with their a 2^ iori 
wisdom. But in spite of the folly of professed Kantians 
and the difference in the stand-points of the specula 
tive and practical philosopher, Professor Kraus was 
attached to Kant himself. Not only was he, for awhile, 
the daily dinner-guest of the great metaphysician, but 
they also frequently met each other in society. They 
usually sat near each other, were about the same 
size and equally lean, and their brilliant conversa 
tion excited general admiration. Professor Kraus re 
peatedly gave up his journeys during vacation for tho 
sake of remaining with Kant . A nobleman asking him 
to spend a vacation with him at his country-seat, he 
declined on the ground that if ho accepted the in 
vitation Kant would be left without a guest. At 
another time he wrote to the same gentleman, " I do 
not know how I can leave my father, Kant;" and at 
another, " I must spend this vacation with my old 
teacher, Kant." 

For some unknown reason, ho\vever, Kraus at 
length resolved 110 longer to be Kant s guest; and 


one day when Lampe came as usual to invite him, 
he requested not to be invited any more, but assigned 
no reason. He had, indeed, often complained that 
the long time spent at the table was not agreeable to 
him ; there must, however, have been other reasons 
which he was unwilling to communicate. Their philo 
sophical differences may have contributed to the 
estrangement, especially since both were very positive 
in their views, and neither could well bear contradic 
tion, a spirit which increased with age. Kant was 
deeply grieved by the refusal of Kraus to dine with 
him ; he related the fact to his guests with some 
feeling, and discussed with them the probable grounds 
of the refusal, but could come to no definite conclusion. 
His feelings towards Kraus did not change on account 
of this withdrawal from his table. " He still continued 
to speak of the talents of Kraus with unusual esteem, 
and even with enthusiasm of his almost unparalleled 
learning; and just as little did Kraus let it appear 
publicly that their confidential friendship had cooled in 
a marked degree. Kraus still gave expression to his 
high appreciation of Kant, but in a manner less 
pronounced than formerly." Kant made more effort 
than Kraus to restore the former intimate relation, and 
in the course of time the latter also endeavoured to 
come nearer his teacher again ; but he never spoke as 
frankly of his high esteem for his teacher as Kant did 
of his regard for him ; they, however, treated each 
other cordially in company. Kraus was his guest on 
Kant s last birthday, and he continued to visit him dur 
ing his feebleness, and entreated the customary guests 
of the philosopher not to forsake him now that he 
could no longer do anything to entertain them. The 

KHAUS. 215 

news of Kant s death greatly affected him ; and on the 
day of the funeral Wasianski introduced him to Kant s 
sister. Deeply moved, he seized her hand to kiss it ; 
she resisted, but tried to seize and kiss his hand, which 
he prevented ; they then fell into each other s arms, 
and wept for the sake of the departed friend and 
brother. Kraus survived Kant several years, and died 
August 25th, 1807. After the death of the great 
philosopher, he spoke admiringly and affectionately of 
his teacher, benefactor, colleague, and friend, and 
showed his devotion to Kant s memory by always 
attending the celebration of his birthday. 

There were many other friends of the metaphysician, 
some of whom are, however, so little known that 
nothing of interest can be said of them, and there may 
have been others whose names have not even been 
recorded. In the following pages, especially under the 
head of Kant s Correspondence, an opportunity will be 
given to indicate the philosopher s relation to some of 
his other friend?. 




Subjects of his works Pre-critical period Book on the Emotion 
of the Beautiful and the Sublime Prevalent systems of 
Philosophy Leibnitz-Wolfian system Popular Philosophy 
Sentimentality Descartes Locke Newton Berkeley 
Hume First Metaphysical Dissertation Literary activity, 
1756-63 Dreams of Ghost-seers explained by Dreams 
of Metaphysics Letter to Moses Mendelssohn Period of 
silence Correspondence with Lambert Inaugural Disserta 
tion Sensation and Understanding Time and Space Letter 
from Mendelssohn Letters to Herz Labour on the " Kritik " 
Changes in the plan of the work. 

AN account of Kant s books, and a full view of his 
metaphysics, belong rather to the history of philosophy 
than to a biography, for which they would require 
entirely too much space and too much abstract dis 
cussion. Nevertheless his authorship was so essential 
a part of his life that a reference to its most important 
features should not be omitted. Where a system 
contains so many works, and is so rich in thought, as 
Kant s, it is far more difficult to limit the discussion to 
a few pages than to yield to the temptation to quote ex 
tensively from the profound thoughts which constitute 
the Critical Philosophy. The following sketch aims 
only to throw some light from the works on the author, 


and to incite to the study of the books themselves and 
their valuable commentaries. 

In examining his authorship according to subjects, 
we find that Kant wrote on mathematical, physical, 
metaphysical, aesthetical, theological, moral, and mis 
cellaneous subjects. ( 93 ) His works not merely cover 
a wide domain of thought, and include the most im 
portant of the sciences, but they also aim to give the 
fundamental principles of all science and a critique of 
all thought, lie never wrote on philology, his favourite 
study in the gymnasium. His first five publications, 
1747-55, are mathematical or physical. During the 
next fifteen years, till 1770, discussions on these sub 
jects still appear, but they are short, and the most 
important works are metaphysical, though he also 
published brief discussions on theology, morals, and 
aesthetics. Between the Inaugural Dissertation, in 
1770, and the " Kritik," which appeared in 1781, 
we have only a few short and unimportant articles 
from his pen. With the publication of the " Kritik" 
a new period in Kant s authorship is introduced, that 
work making an epoch in his literary labours as well 
as in philosophy ; nearly all his works written after 
1781 belong to metaphysics, theology, morals, or 

From what is known of Kant s life, and by following 
the order in which his books appeared, we can deter 
mine the subjects which occupied his attention in 
different periods. His preference for the Latin classics, 
under the influence of Heydenreich, yielded to mathe 
matics, physics, and metaphysics, under the influence 
of Knutzen and Teske in the university, though meta 
physics was still kept in the background. The 


impulse which he received in the university was followed 
by Kant while a family tutor and also a few years 
afterwards. Then he manifested a decided preference 
for metaphysics, to which he devoted years of absorb 
ing and intense application. This is followed by a 
more practical period, when religion and morality, in 
which everything culminates, are made specialities. 
These periods, of course, cannot be sharply denned, 
since different subjects often engaged his attention at 
the same time; in general, however, it may be said 
that his authorship had a mathematical, a physical, a 
metaphysical, and an ethical period. 

The first twenty years of his authorship belong to 
the pre-critical period, during which Kant occupies 
essentially the position of Professor Knutzen, namely, 
the stand-point of the dogmatic school of the Leibnitz- 
Wolfian philosophy, yet strongly influenced by the 
English natural philosophers, especially Newton, and 
also by Descartes, Locke, and Berkeley. Owing to the 
study of Hume, a brief sceptical period followed the 
dogmatic. About the year 1769 he broke entirely with 
the old metaphysical systems, of which he had long 
been suspicious, and which for years he had severely 
criticized; and from this time he began the development 
of his own peculiar system, the Critical Philosophy, 
which culminated in the " Kritik " of 1781. But even 
before 1769 we find suggestive hints which were fore 
runners of the philosophy that is peculiarly Kantian. 
While he remained true to the great principles of the 
Critical Philosophy to the end of his life,( 94 ) and 
maintained its spirit in the works which followed, he 
strove especially to gain a firm basis for morality 
and religion, and hence we find that after 1781 great 


prominence is given in his works to the moral as well 
as the critical elements. 

Many of his literary efforts were intimately connected 
with his labours in the university, and some of his 
books which were published late in life, such as his 
" Anthropology," " Logic," " Physical Geography," and 
" Pedagogics," consisted of his lectures, while others 
contained largely the results of his preparations for his 
academic work. The " Kritik " is an exception, being 
the product of study independent of his lectures, 
neither did he ever use its contents, as a whole, in the 
lecture-room, nor make it the basis of his instruction, 
as was done by many professors in different parts of 

The prominent characteristics of Kant s mind are 
seen to best advantage in his books, which are an 
embodiment of his spirit as well as a depository of his 
thoughts. Taking all his books, we are struck with 
the mental breadth revealed by the variety of the 
subjects, with the extent of his learning, the profun 
dity and fertility of his mind, his power of abstrac 
tion, and his freshness and originality. The ceaseless 
activity of his mind is seen by the great number oi 
his books, which also reveal a constant mental growth, 
so that various stages of progress are distinctly marked. 
Sometimes his w r orks followed each other in quick suc 
cession, and the amount of fresh, deep, and original 
thought in them is astonishing ; yet many of his literary 
projects were either interfered with or wholly prevented 
by his academic labours and by indisposition, and old 
age overtook him when he was still full of plans for 
new undertakings. After a work had been published, 
he generally paid little attention to it, and rarely 


mentioned it, treating it as something with which he 
was done, and devoting his time and energies to the 
production of a new book.( 95 ) 

There is only one of his books which can be placed 
in the department of belles-lettres, namely, the small 
volume of 1764, on " The Emotion of the Beautiful 
and the Sublime." It is neither profound nor remark 
able for new thoughts ; but it gives us aspects of the 
philosopher which are unusual in his books, and more 
than any other of his publications reveals those qualities 
which made him so great a favourite in society. The 
book itself interests us less than the characteristics of 
the author which are revealed in its pages. It is 
descriptive rather than speculative, and psychological 
rather than metaphysical ; in its value for aesthetics, 
as well as in its influence, it is far inferior to the 
" Critique of the Judgment." It abounds in antitheses, 
especially in those which indicate the difference between 
the beautiful and the sublime, and contains suggestive 
comments on authors and on national characteristics. 

In the first period of his authorship Kant was 
regarded as a master of good style ; and on reading 
this book we are not surprised that the students 
requested him to deliver lectures on German style, 
and that the Government proposed to appoint him 
professor of rhetoric and poetry. Many of the sen 
tences are short, yet weighty with compressed thought ; 
all is clear, much is beautiful, and free scope is given 
to the imagination. Between this and his later meta 
physical works there is a striking contrast, which is 
not wholly accounted for by the difference in the 
subjects ; it seems that his philosophical speculations 
spoiled his style. The sentences in his metaphysical 


works are often long and complicated, with numerous 
parenthetical clauses ; the subject under discussion 
is dropped, side-issues are introduced, then the main 
thought is again resumed ; the regular progress in the 
development is hindered by breaks which make the 
connexion difficult, and there are numerous repetitions. 
Much of the obscurity is, of course, due to the difficulty 
of the subjects and the unusual character of the inves 
tigations ; but aside from these considerations, the 
style is such as to render some of these books exceed 
ingly difficult and certain parts almost unintelligible. 
It must, however, be remembered that the German 
language had not yet attained its present stage of 
perfection, that it was comparatively new in philosophy, 
and that it needed development in metaphysical terms, 
though this of course does not explain the fact that 
his earlier style was better than later in life. It is a 
pleasure to turn from his heavier works to this one 
which has much that is attractive ; though we may 
dissent from many of its views, especially, as already 
indicated, those on woman. We are delighted with 
the life and freshness of the thought, with the striking 
contrasts, with the fine distinctions, with the anecdotes 
and the humour. While generally we see Kant as he 
delved in metaphysics, we see him here as he played in 

A few quotations will help us to form a conception 
of the popular Kant. Contrasting the beautiful with the 
sublime, he says, " The emotions excited by the sublime 
strain the faculties more and weary them sooner than 
those aroused by the beaut if ul. ( )ne can read a pastoral 
poem longer continuously than Milton s * Paradise Lost, 
and De la Bruycre longer than Young. To me it looks 


like a fault of the latter, as a moral poet, that he con 
tinues too uniformly in a sublime tone, for the strength 
of the impression can be renewed only by contrast 
with softer passages." Tragedy arouses the emotion 
of the sublime ; comedy that of the beautiful. " The 
sublime excites ; the beautiful charms." " The sublime 
must always be great ; the beautiful may, however, be 
small." " The night is sublime ; the day is beautiful." 
Other contrasts are the following, though not found 
exactly in this order : " The understanding is sublime ; 
wit is beautiful. Great heroism is sublime ; cunning 
is little, but beautiful. Sublime qualities inspire 
esteem, but beautiful ones inspire love. Many a person 
is esteemed too much to be loved. The hero of Homer 
is terribly sublime, while Virgil s hero is noble. It is 
beautiful to be communicative, but thoughtful silence is 
sublime." In a striking sentence he condenses the 
contrast between the beautiful and the useful : " What 
a pity that the lilies do not spin ! " Many passages 
are pithy, as when he says, " An insipid person, when 
conceited, is a fool." Among the striking charac 
teristics which he gives of the different nations, this 
passage on the difference between English and French 
wit occurs : " In England, original wit produces heavy 
gold, which under French hammers is beaten out into 
thin sheets and spread over a great surface." 

Having already considered Kant s earlier mathe 
matical and physical works, we turn from this enter 
taining book to his metaphysical writings, in which 
our interest mainly centres, and of which the great 
" Kritik " attracts us most. In grouping his books, 
this one should be made the centre, and the others 
should be considered in their relation to this work; 


especially is Kant s own development till the pro 
duction of the " Kritik" interesting. 

The philosophy prevalent in Germany when Kant 
became a teacher in the university was the Leibnitz- 
Wolfian system. Leibnitz, whoso philosophical views 
were scattered through his works without being 
formed by him into a system, was a dogmatist in the 
Kantian sense, since, without preceding criticism, he 
held that by means of thought we can attain know 
ledge beyond mere phenomena. Believing that between 
thought and reality there exists a pre-established 
harmony, he of course held that a criticism of thought 
is not necessary in order to determine its relation to 
existence. While in this respect he differs so mate 
rially from the results of the Critical Philosophy, we 
find that on an important point Kant s earlier works 
agree with him. While Descartes and his followers 
held that motion is able .to account for all material 
changes and manifestations, Leibnitz aimed to in 
troduce the organic element into natural science by 
means of his monads which, as living forces, are every 
where at work in nature. Kant already in his earlier 
works also distinguished between the mechanical 
forces and the organic powers in nature, and em 
phasized the latter much more than was usually done 
by writers on physics in his day. 

About 1730 the Wolfian philosophy began its 
almost universal reign in Germany. Wolf had taken 
the profound but scattered thoughts of Leibnitz and 
worked them into a system, a process by means of 
which these thoughts themselves were somewhat 
modified. The Leibnitz- Wolfian system rested on 
principles which were taken for granted, and on them 


superstructures were reared by means of mathematical 
demonstrations. This method was not merely applied 
to science and philosophy, but also to theology, morals, 
and the daily affairs of life. In the pulpit, as well 
as the university, this method gained the ascendancy, 
and in social circles the conversations were interlarded 
with logical formulas. In its efforts to reduce every 
thing to demonstration, it introduced a new scholastic 
pedantry into philosophy, a lifeless mechanism which 
exalted the form at the expense of the substance, and 
which imagined that its conceptions were synonymous 
with the reality of things. Claiming to give apodictic 
certainty, it became the veriest dogmatism. 

Wolf also aimed to give to morals a basis indepen 
dent of religion, so that those who rejected religion 
would still be bound by morality. Thomasius, too, 
had tried to vindicate for ethics a foundation inde 
pendent of religion. Wolf declared that " human 
actions are in themselves good or bad, and are not 
made so by the will of God ; hence, even if it were 
possible for God not to exist, and for the present order 
of things to continue without Him, still the free actions 
of men would be either good or bad, just the same as 
if there were a supreme moral Lawgiver." 

Imposing as Wolf s mathematical method might at 
first appear, its emptiness was soon discovered. Its 
triumphs had been the more easy and the more com 
plete, because it found in its way nothing but a modified 
Aristotelianism in the form of an effete scholasticism, 
or else a complete chaos of philosophical opinions. 
Even though Wolf s system could not long satisfy 
deep minds, it succeeded in introducing a confident 
tone and a comfortable ease in philosophy. As the 


truth was imagined to lie on the surface, its discovery 
was thought to be easy ; there was accordingly a lack 
of earnest wrestling with the fundamental principles 
of knowledge and the deepest problems of life. A 
popular philosophy began to prevail which was simply 
the product of ordinary or common sense; it was 
shallow and too easily satisfied, drew its conclusions 
too readily, and gave a fatal facility to the whole work 
of philosophizing. This spirit was encouraged by the 
prevailing tendency to popularize philosophy, in order 
to make it a commodity of the people instead of an 
arcanum of the schools. The deep and perplexing- 
problems which occur to speculative minds in all ages, 
which lie at the basis of all thinking, and which no 
supposed solution has succeeded in finally settling, 
were then regarded as settled, and frequently they 
were disposed of in a superficial manner. Under the 
circumstances, the more earnest and profound minds 
lost confidence in the prevalent philosophy, and meta 
physics was treated with contempt. Tieftrunk, a co- 
temporary of Kant, says of metaphysics, "One could 
hardly devote himself to it without subjecting himself 
to the suspicion of empty speculation, and without 
being exposed to the derision of wits/ And another 
cotemporary says, " The deepest investigations had 
degenerated into empty words and fruitless specula 
tions, at which intellectual men, and those who desired 
to be regarded as such, laughed." ( vfi ) 

There was, in connexion with this popular philo 
sophy, a tendency to a reflection which turns every 
thing into emotion. It was a sentimental age, over 
which Rousseau, Wieland, and kindred spirits, exerted 
great influence. This sentimentality is a characteristic 


of much of the German, as well as of the French, lite 
rature of the second half of last century. Parallel 
with this ran the critical spirit, negative in its results, 
and hardly conscious of what it wanted except to de 
stroy. In religion there was general confusion. Great 
names were derided and estimable things were de 
graded ; it was an iconoclastic age, and it was 
frivolous in its destruction. French Encyclopedists, 
Voltaire, and Frederick the Great, gave tone to the 
age ; and French materialism, English deism, and 
German illumination, were popular. System and de- 
finiteness and certainty were as much needed in the 
religious and moral chaos as in philosophy. It was, 
in fact, a fermenting period in all the departments of 
thought; and in the development through the crises 
there was the general doubt, confusion, and perplexing 
uncertainty, which usually precede an epoch. 

While the Leibnitz -Wolfian philosophy was domi 
nant, we find that other systems received attention and 
are repeatedly mentioned by Kant. His " Kritik " in 
a measure closes the metaphysical development up to 
that time, and starts a new process of philosophical 
speculation. In considering this work, other systems 
should be taken into account, at least so far as they 
immediately relate to Kant and the " Kritik." The 
English and French were superior to the Germans in 
philosophy, and English philosophers, in particular, 
were popular in Germany. Not till the " Kritik " 
appeared could German metaphysics be regarded as 
equal to the English ; and it is to be attributed directly 
to the influence of this work that the Germans have 
become so pre-eminent in metaphysical thought. 

The new spirit introduced into philosophy by Bacon, 


which turned the mind away from the useless specu 
lations of scholasticism to observation and the laws 
drawn therefrom, animated Locke and his school, 
as well as Newton and his followers. While the in 
ductive method of Bacon affected physical science most, 
the influence of Descartes was more directly meta 
physical ; and instead of substituting the study of 
physics for scholasticism, Descartes began a new meta 
physical development. Beginning with doubt, he 
introduces the critical element, and turns the attention 
of the mind on itself, in order to make it give the 
authority for its thoughts and processes. He questioned 
the evidence of the senses, and even the mathematical 
axioms and the demonstrations built upon them. But 
whatever a man may question, behind all his doubts is 
the consciousness that he thinks ; if, however, he is 
conscious, he must surely exist, and thus doubt itself 
is an evidence of existence. Hence the celebrated 
formula, " Cogito, ergo sum." In this we have, 
according to Descartes, a basis which is absolutely 

Every effect must have an adequate cause, a rule to 
which our ideas are no exception. Now we find in our 
minds the idea of a Supreme Being; ( 97 ) what is the 
origin of this idea ? It cannot be the product of our 
own minds, for it is greater than we are. God Himself 
is the only adequate cause of this idea of Himself in 
our minds. But how did He communicate it ? Our 
idea of God cannot have been given to us through the 
senses; therefore it must be innate. ( 98 ) Descartes, 
however, has another proof of the existence of God, 
namely, the ontological one : the very idea of the most 
perfect Being implies the existence of that Being, for 

Q 2 


existence is a necessary attribute of such an idea ; it 
could not be the idea of the most perfect Being unless 
that idea itself involves existence. He therefore thinks 
that God cannot be thought, except as existing. 

In Descartes system the fact of God s existence is of 
the utmost importance, and on it his entire philosophy 
rests. The idea of God involves that of truthfulness, 
as He could not be God without being truthful ; but 
if He is truthful, then He must also have so made man 
that his ideas do not deceive him, must have created 
him so that he may see the truth. By this circuitous 
method Descartes at last finds a guarantee that our 
minds are made for the truth, and not to deceive us. 
From this there is but one step to the conclusion that 
whatever we clearly and consistently think must also 
have reality ; or thought corresponds with existence. 
Hence the principle of Descartes, that whatever is dis 
tinctly and consistently thought concerning a thing is 
true of the thing itself. 

Kant rejected his evidence for the existence of God, 
and with this the whole system fell. With all the 
criticism in the beginning of his system, Descartes is, 
in Kant s estimation, a dogmatist, since he accepts the 
existence of God without satisfactory proof. As far as 
the relation between our thoughts and real existence is 
concerned, Descartes view of God s truthfulness and 
the pre-established harmony of Leibnitz amount to the 
same thing. After his critical period began, Kant 
could no more accept the philosophy of Descartes and 
his followers in France than he could that of Leibnitz 
and his disciples in Germany. 

On turning to the English philosophers, a striking 
similarity is found between the general aim of Locke s 

LOCKE. 229 

" Essay on the Human Understanding " and of Kant s 
"Kritik;" so much is this the case that the aim of 
the " Kritik " might be given in the language of tho 
Essay. Locke says that it was his purpose " to 
examine our own abilities, and to see what objects our 
understandings were and were not fitted to deal with." 
He proposes to investigate " the nature of under 
standing," and he seeks " to discover the powers 
thereof, how far they reach, to what things they are 
in any degree proportionate, and where they fail us;" 
and he wants men to be more cautious about meddling 
with things beyond their capacity. These and similar 
expressions of Locke give exactly Kant s aim in his 
"Kritik;" but the beginning, the method, and the 
whole development of the two books, are totally 

While Locke denied the existence of innate ideas, 
whether speculative or moral, he did not regard the 
mind as wholly passive or merely receptive, as seems to 
be implied in comparing it with " white paper, void of 
all characters;" but he attributed to it reflection, 
which compares and arranges the impressions, and 
draws conclusions from them. Experience is not 
merely the beginning but also the source of all our 
ideas. This experience is twofold, namely, that which 
we gain through the senses, and that which results 
from observing the operations of our own under 
standings, better called reflection. How is the 
empty mind furnished ? Locke answers, " From 
experience ; in that all our knowledge is founded, and 
from that it ultimately derives itself." Sensation is 
the means of experience from external objects, and 
reflection is the inner sense. " External objects 


furnish the mind with the ideas of sensible qualities, 
which are all those different perceptions they produce 
in us, and the mind furnishes the understanding with 
ideas of its own operations/ The understanding 
forms complex ideas by uniting the simple ones given 
in experience. 

That Kant was considerably influenced by Locke is 
evident from his numerous references to him ; but in 
his earlier years, at least, he was much more indebted 
to Newton. This is not only seen in his work on cos 
mogony, but also in his first metaphysical dissertation, 
which aims to show that metaphysic is not in conflict 
with the natural philosophy of Newton. Locke s in 
fluence began later. (") While it may be impossible to 
trace the direct influence of Newton on the " Kritik," 
indirectly it was great. Kant originally stood on the 
mathematical and physical basis of the English natural 
philosophers, especially Newton ; the influence thus 
exerted early in life was a potent factor in forming 
his mental habits, and in leading him to determine to 
make metaphysics as definite and as certain as the 
mathematical and physical sciences. It should be re 
membered that in becoming a metaphysician, Kant did 
not abandon his early mathematical and physical basis, 
but only enlarged it by the addition of metaphysics. ( 10 ) 

Locke did not draw from his empiricism its legitimate 
consequences as fully as did some of his French and 
English followers. The sensationalism and empiricism 
which followed were met by another extreme, namely, 
the Idealism of Berkeley. Like Locke, he started with 
experience as the source of all knowledge ; but he held 
that in sensation we have no direct knowledge of things 
themselves, but only of impressions made on our own 

HUME. 231 

minds. All our knowledge is, therefore, concerned 
only about these impressions, and does not at all deal 
with objects which are without us. Having then no 
knowledge except of that which occurs within us, how 
do we know that anything outside of us exists ? Is not 
that which I regard as an external world, merely a 
creation of my own mind ? May it not be the re 
sult of the influence of the Divine Spirit on the 
finite mind ? Berkeley opposed to materialism the 
proposition, that the spiritual or the mental is the 
only reality. And surely, if our knowledge consists only 
of the individual impressions which are somehow made 
on our minds, Bishop Berkeley s view is rational, and his 
Idealism is as legitimate a conclusion from Locke s 
philosophy as materialism is. AVhile Kant persistently 
denied the idealism attributed to the first edition of 
the " Kritik," and opposed the conclusions of Berkeley, 
lie saw that the arguments of the idealistic philosopher 
could not be met by empiricism, and also agreed 
with him that we have no direct knowledge of things 
external to us, but only of the impressions made on our 

While materialism and idealism stood helplessly 
opposed to each other on the same basis, Hume, seeing 
the unsatisfactory character of both systems, became a 
thorough sceptic. He stands on the same basis as the 
systems which he rejected, namely, on Locke s sensa 
tionalism, admits no a priori knowledge, and declares 
that we cannot go beyond experience, since that is 
the only authority on which principles can be based. 
The essence of mind, as well as of matter, is unknown 
to us ; both are known only from their effects or from 
the impressions which they make on us. Like Locke, 


he aims to confine the understanding to the subjects 
within its reach, namely, to experience, and he wants 
to check the tendency to give a loose rein to the 
imagination under the plea of philosophical speculation. 
He, accordingly, regards a scepticism which checks 
wild speculation as beneficial. Aside from matters of 
fact, he regards the relation of ideas to one another as 
the proper subjects for the investigation of reason. 
Algebra, geometry, and arithmetic deal with the rela 
tions of ideas to one another, not with real objects, and 
their truthfulness is self-evident ; but judgments per 
taining to reality are not so evident. Hume discusses 
especially those based on the conception of cause and 
effect. He views the category of causality as not 
obtained from the things themselves, as not a product 
of perception ; we presuppose it without any demon 
stration of its validity. What we call causation is 
merely a habitual observance of a succession of the same 
phenomena, from which we conclude that there must 
be some necessary connexion between them, as that of 
cause and effect. But this conclusion is invalid, and 
we have no reason to believe that in reality any 
thing corresponds with this imagined connexion. What 
we regard as a real connexion is, according to Hume, a 
mere conjunction. We know nothing of the passing 
of what is called cause over into what is called effect ; 
and wo can know nothing of the supposed connexion 
between the two. The fact that we have never 
observed a change in the succession of events, is no 
evidence that there will be none in the future. Our 
faith in causality is still more shaken when we reflect 
that at different times and by different persons the 
same events have been ascribed to various causes. 


Hume s scepticism is radical in its effects. Jt 
reduces our knowledge to isolated perceptions, and 
to the relation of ideas as in mathematics. A science 
of nature is impossible; at best, only probability, 
not science, is within our reach. Not only are we 
ignorant of external objects and of mind, except so 
far as their impressions on us are concerned, but 
also of their laws and of the connexion of phenomena. 
Besides, this scepticism also affects the deepest interests 
of religion and morality. 

The hints here given are essential for understanding 
the influences to which Kant himself was subject, and 
which had a direct effect on the development of 
the Critical Philosophy. There were, of course, 
many other prevalent philosophical views which 
influenced him, as well as his system. Even if, in 
general, he did not make the systems of his prede 
cessors subjects of special and thorough study, and 
misapprehended the views even of his favourite Hume, 
he was in the habit of seizing their fundamental 
principles and most pregnant points, and of subject 
ing them to the crucial tests of his criticism. In 
Hume it was the attack on causality which arrested 
his attention, and gave the direct impulse which 
led to the production of the " Kritik." Hamann 
wrote, " It is certain that without Berkeley there would 
have been no Hume, just as without the latter there 
would have been no Kant." And the Critical Philo 
sopher himself frequently refers to Hume, of whom 
he had a very exalted opinion. In his Introduction 
to the- " Prolegomena," referring to Hume s attack on 
causality, he says, " I freely admit that it was David 
Hume s reminder which, many years ago, first aroused 


me from my dogmatic slumber, and gave my investi 
gations in the field of speculative philosophy a new 
direction." In meditating on Hume s problem, he 
found that the conception of causality was not the 
only one by means of which the mind conceives things 
to be connected ; and he saw that it was but one of 
the categories which really involve the whole of meta 
physics. He sought for all these categories, believed 
that he had discovered them, and concluded that they 
are not drawn from experience, as Hume thought, but 
that they are products of the pure understanding. In 
the " Kritik " he states that Hume s attack on the 
pure reason made a complete investigation of that 
reason necessary ; but while the " Kritik " was occa 
sioned by Hume s scepticism, Kant aimed at something 
deeper and broader than merely to meet Hume s 
attack, and he includes the entire domain of reason in 
his investigation. 

Kant speaks in higher terms of Hume than of any 
other philosopher. He admired the finish of his style, 
his subtlety, and his caution ; and in his " Kritik" he 
calls him " the cold-blooded one," who was peculiarly 
adapted to balance arguments. The fact that Hume 
undermined the proof of God s existence, Kant attri 
butes to the desire to advance reason s knowledge of 
self and to make it more modest. He calls him " the 
celebrated David Hume," and " the geographer of the 
human reason," who thought that he had disposed of 
questions lying beyond experience by placing them 
beyond the horizon of reason ; and he asserts that 
Hume was probably the most ingenious of all sceptics, 
and that, beyond question, he was the most distin 
guished philosopher who produced a scepticism which 


made a thorough testing of the capacity of the reason 
a necessity. 

His praise of Hume is, however, not unconditional. 
Kant regarded him as chiefly worthy of note because 
he showed the unsatisfactory character of the sensa 
tional philosophy, proposed great problems, and gave 
impulses which were calculated to lead to their solu 
tion. He did not go deep enough ; as Kant says, he 
struck a spark without kindling a fire. Hume con 
tinued in his scepticism ; but the impulse which he 
gave led Kant from dogmatism, through scepticism, 
to criticism. ( l01 ) In his " Kritik," Kant speaks of 
this as the natural process for reason, declaring thai- 
its first stage, which marks the period of its childhood, 
is dogmatic ; the second is sceptical, and indicates 
caution on the part of the judgment which has been 
taught by experience ; but a third stage is necessary, 
that, namely, which belongs only to the matured 
reason. This is the stage which does not merely 
investigate the facts of reason, but reason itself a -priori, 
according to its whole capacity and its ability to attain 
pure knowledge. This is the critique of reason, by 
means of which not merely limits, but the limits of 
reason are demonstrated, and not merely ignorance in 
one thing or another is proved, but with respect to 
all matters beyond the reach of knowledge. " Scepti 
cism is thus a resting-place for human reason, where 
it can reflect on its dogmatic wanderings and can take 
a survey of the field it occupies, in order to be able 
henceforth to choose its way with more safety ; but it 
is not a dwelling-place for constant abode, for tins 
can be found only in perfect certainty, either of the 
k nowledge of objects themselves, or of the limits within 


which all our knowledge of objects is confined." He says 
that the sceptic is the schoolmaster unto the dogmatic 
reasoner, leading to a healthy criticism of the under 
standing and reason. Here Kant evidently gives a hint 
respecting the process through which his own mind 
passed. When his faith was shaken in the Wolfian dog 
matism, he could not rest in Hume s scepticism, but was 
impelled to master it and pass beyond it to certainty. 
The " Kritik " was the product of this impulse. 

It is probable that the metaphysical dissertation of 
1755 is the only one of Kant s works on metaphysics 
which was written before he was brought under the 
influence of Hume. Its statements are clear and 
precise, and its criticisms are fearless, the names of 
Leibnitz and Wolf forming no exception; but the 
youthful boldness bordering on presumption, found in 
his first book, appears less prominently here, and he 
does not thrust his antagonism to great names in the 
foreground. The fact that the dissertation was to be 
read before the philosophical faculty, and was liable to 
be attacked in the discussion of its various points, may 
have moderated its tone. With all his independence 
of thought, Kant in this production proves himself a 
disciple of Wolf s school, and it would be difficult to 
find in it even hints of the characteristic thoughts of 
the " Kritik," which appeared twenty-six years later. 

But from the very beginning of his authorship 
Kant was dissatisfied with the prevalent philosophy, 
and in his first book he says, " Our metaphysic, like 
so many other sciences, is really only on the threshold 
of thorough knowledge. God only knows when it will 
pass over this threshold. It is not difficult to see its 
weakness in many of its undertakings. Prejudice is 


often found to be its strongest proof. Nothing is 
more to blame for this than the prevailing disposition 
of those who seek to enlarge human knowledge. 
They would like to have an extcnaire philosophy ; but 
it is desirable that it should also be dwp" This 
dissatisfaction runs through all his earlier metaphysical 
works ; he criticized the easy and frivolous method of 
philosophizing, and was convinced that a revolution in 
metaphysics was necessary. 

Many of the steps which led to the production of the 
" Kritik " can be traced in Kant s metaphysical works 
and in his letters. From 175G till 17G2 he published 
only a few short essays. During this time he was 
occupied in preparing and delivering his numerous 
lectures ; this was also the period of the Seven Years 
War, which was unfavourable for authorship in 
Ko nigsberg. In 17G-5 he investigated the problem 
of causality, stating it very much like Hume, " How 
can 1 understand that because something is, therefore 
something else also is ? " He does not solve this 
problem, but says, " I have reflected on the nature of 
knowledge, and shall, at some time, give at length the 
results of these contemplations. Until that time, those 
whose presumptuous knowledge recognizes no limits 
will pursue their method of philosophizing, to discover 
how far they can progress in the investigation of 
such questions. "( l02 ) From this it is evident that he 
is approaching the critical problem. Kant sees diffi 
culties which others have either overlooked or else 
expected to solve without going back to first 
principles. He is an investigator who wanders con 
siderably in his search ; but he occasionally catches 
glimpses of what he seeks, and slowly feels his way, in 


order to find the road which leads to the desired object. 
There are limits to our knowledge, and he thinks that 
he is on the way to their discovery, and promises to 
give the results of his contemplations in the future, a 
promise which was fulfilled in the " Kritik ;" but it 
would be a mistake to imagine that he had already 
either seized the problem as given in the " Kritik," or 
that he had discovered the method of solution which 
he gave in that book. 

If he still follows the thread of the Wolfian philo 
sophy here and there, he frequently finds it broken or 
comes to knots which he cannot untie. His course is 
beset with difficulties ; where others trip along lightly 
over even ground, he says that he sees Alps rise before 
him in his investigations. His task is so difficult 
because he is so critical and his aim so profound ; he 
wants to get behind all the philosophical results 
already attained and to probe things to the bottom. 
In the same year, 1763, he says, "Metaphysic is, with 
out doubt, the most difficult of the human sciences ; 
but none has ever been written;" and he speaks of 
the bottomless abyss of metaphysic, which he calls " a 
dark ocean that is shoreless and without light- houses, 
where one must do as a seaman on an untraversed sea, 
who, as soon as he anywhere sets foot on land, examines 
his passage to see whether unobserved currents in the 
ocean have not turned him aside from his course, in 
spite of all the care his seamanship could possibly 
exercise. "( 103 ) In the same book he also attacked 
various proofs of the existence of God, admitting only 
one kind as satisfactory, namely, a form of the onto- 
logical argument; his rejection of the other proofs 
excited attention and aroused considerable opposition. 


Kant early penetrated more profoundly the nature 
of metuphysic than his contemporaries, and this made 
his aim, method, and results, so different from those 
of other philosophers of the day. Instead of regarding 
it as the aim of metaphysic to build on the generally 
admitted principles of knowledge, he thought that it 
should first of all investigate those principles them 
selves, and determine how far they are reliable and fit 
to constitute the foundation of knowledge. While 
others were intent on going forward without looking 
back, he wanted to go back to the very beginning 
and lay an immovable basis, in order that he might 
then go forward with safety. For understanding the 
aim of all his speculative work, a remark made before 
he was forty is significant, showing how profoundly 
he already at that time grasped the idea of metaphysic : 
" Metaphysic is nothing but a philosophy of the first 
principles of our knowledge." The problem of philo 
sophy, as he apprehended it, deeply interested him, 
and he wrestled with it persistently, in spite of his 
slow progress towards its solution ; and three years 
later he declares that he is in love with metaphysic, 
though he can rarely boast that the object of his 
affection has shown him any favours. 

Philosophers were so much occupied with their con 
ceptions, that they did not stop seriously to consider 
whether any reality corresponded with them. Instead oi 
grappling with the difficult problem of the relation ex 
isting between a conception and its object, philosophers 
often identified thought with being. Kant, however, 
showed that the fact that an object is conceivable, does 
not prove its existence, but only the possibility of that 
existence. The question of the existence itself can be 


determined only by investigating the source or sources 
of our knowledge of objects. ( m ) 

How steadily Kant was progressing towards the 
" Kritik " is evident from his book of 1766, entitled, 
" Dreams of a Ghost-seer explained by Dreams of 
Metaphysics." It is aimed specially at Swedenborg, 
but gives significant hints on all kinds of fanaticism, 
and severe thrusts at the dreamers in metaphysics. 
In it we find a union of profound speculation with 
playful humour. Next to the Inaugural Dissertation of 
1 770, this book is the most important for understanding 
that development of Kant s mind which led to the 
formation of the Critical Philosophy. He already 
classes Wolf among the philosophical dreamers, and 
regards him as a man who built with but little material 
that was furnished by experience, and for this reason 
freely used surreptitious conceptions in rearing his 
structures ; and he regards Crusius as a man who con 
structed a system out of nothing, by means of the 
magic power of a few sentences about the thinkable 
and the unthinkable ; and both of these philosophers 
he calls builders of air-castles. He sees that a crisis in 
philosophy is at hand, is sure that the dreamers will soon 
awake, after which philosophers will bo able to dwell 
together in the same world of thought ; his basis for this 
hope is in " certain omens which have for some time ap 
peared on the horizon of the sciences." With ghost-seers 
he has no patience, and he is an enemy of fantastic no 
tions of every kind. He says, " I do not know whether 
there are spirits ; yes, what is more, I do not even know 
what the word, spirit, means." And he adds, " The 
attempt to make serious efforts to explain the whims 
of fantastic persons makes a bad impression, and 


philosophy thereby excites the suspicion that it is found 
in bad company." Kant wants ghost-seers to be treated 
as candidates for an asylum. 

Some of the conclusions of the " Kritik " are 
anticipated by this book on dreams. However boast 
ful the assertion may seem, he thinks that he lias finally 
established the fact that, while we may have opinions 
respecting spirits, we can know nothing about them. 
And he makes the significant declaration, that our 
philosophical doctrine concerning spirits may be com 
plete and final, but only " in a negative sense, since 
this doctrine fixes with certainty the limits of our 
knowledge, and convinces us that the various mani 
festations of life in nature, and their laws, are all that 
we can know ; but that the principle of this life, that 
is, the spiritual element which we suspect but do not 
know, never can be conceived positively, because for 
this there are no data in our entire experience; and 
this philosophical doctrine produces the conviction 
that we must be content with negations respecting the 
conception of anything so different from all objects of 
sense. But the very possibility even of such negations 
rests neither on experience, nor on arguments, but on 
mere invention, to which reason, deprived of all help, 
takes refuge." Thus he thinks that he has already 
so far determined the limits of reason as to be justified 
in asserting, that we can understand only phenomena, 
and their laws, but not what lies back of them, a con 
clusion whose demonstration is found in the " Kritik." 
So confident is Kant that he has finally settled that 
we can know nothing about spirits, that he says, 
" Henceforth I lay the whole subject of spirits, which 
is an extensive domain of metaphysics, aside as com- 



pleted and settled. In the future, it shall no more 
concern me. While I thus limit the plan of my 
investigations, and entirely reject some altogether 
useless inquiries, I hope to be able to use my weak 
powers more advantageously for the consideration of 
other subjects. It is mostly in vain to apply the small 
measure of one s talents to all kinds of airy projects. 
Prudence, therefore, dictates that in this, as well as 
in other cases, our plans should be adapted to our 
capacities, and that we should limit ourselves to the 
mediocre, if we cannot attain what is great." 

Since questions about spirits are idle, the reasons 
for or against their existence can " hardly determine 
anything respecting the future state of the upright. 
Neither has the human reason the wings which will 
enable it to part the high clouds which conceal from 
us the mysteries of the other world ; and to the curious 
who try to discover these mysteries, the simple but 
very natural advice may be given, that it would 
probably be more advisable to wait till they get there." 
We know that we are related to beings like ourselves, 
by means of physical laws ; but we cannot determine 
whether we are related to beings by other than natural 
laws. The heart contains precepts which should be 
followed for their own sake, and Kant decidedly 
opposes the utilitarian view of virtue, which really 
loves vices, but avoids them for the sake of obtaining 
a reward hereafter. The hope of the future may exist 
in a heart which still cherishes vicious inclinations. 
" But there probably never lived a righteous soul which 
could bear the thought that death is the end of all, and 
whose noble disposition did not rise to the hope of the 
future. Therefore it seems more proper for human 


nature and for the purity of morals, to base the expec 
tation of a future world on the emotions of a good 
soul, than inversely to base the goodness of the soul 
on the hope of another world." Kant also argues in 
favour of a moral faith, which may be raised above all 
the subtleties of reasoning and which alone can load a 
man directly to attain the true end of his being. 

The two possible methods of knowledge, which play 
so prominent a part in the "Kritik," namely, the dpriori 
and the a posteriori, are also discussed in this book. 
Kant says that some teachers of natural science claimed 
that all knowledge must begin with the latter method, 
and in following this rule they imagined that they 
" caught the eel of science by the tail;" but they soon 
discovered that this method was not philosophical 
enough, and that in adopting it they came to subjects 
which they could not explain. Other scientists began 
a prinrl with the highest principle in metaphysics ; " but 
in this there is a new difficulty, namely, that one begins, 
1 know not where, and comes, I know not whither, and 
that the reasoning will not reach experience." Instead 
of meeting and forming one system, it was found that 
the metaphysical conceptions and experience ran 
parallel with each other ; and it seemed as if the philo 
sophers had agreed among themselves to let each one 
begin and end where he pleased, and to reach at last 
just the conclusion he desired. 

Metaphysics aims to solve problems respecting the 
hidden qualities of things ; but the hopes excited are 
often disappointed in the solutions given. There is, 
however, another aim of metaphysics, namely, to deter 
mine whether a question can be solved, and to indicate 
the relation of problems to experience, on which our 

R 2 


judgment must at all times be based. Referring to 
the second aim, namely, the determination of the 
solvability of problems, he says, "In so far metaphysic 
is the science of the limits of human reason." This is 
significant for the view it gives of Kant s apprehension 
of the sphere of metaphysics. What he here defines 
as a province of metaphysics, he a few years later 
pronounced its propaedeutics, and not a part of the 
system itself ; but in his old age he seems again to 
have returned to a conception of metaphysics similar 
to that given in 1766. 

If he has given no new views in this book, Kant 
claims that he has, at least, destroyed illusions, and 
that vain knowledge which inflates the understanding 
and holds the place which might be occupied by the 
teachings of wisdom. " Like Democritus, we formerly 
wandered about in empty space, whither the butterfly 
wings of metaphysic had taken us, and we entertained 
ourselves with spirits. Now that the styptic power of 
self-knowledge has drawn together the silk wings, we 
find ourselves again on the low ground of experience and 
of the common understanding. We are fortunate, 
indeed, if we regard this as our assigned place, which 
we can never leave with impunity, and which also 
contains all that is necessary to satisfy us so long as 
we confine ourselves to the useful." No bounds 
should be fixed to the desire for learning except the 
limits of knowledge ; but from the innumerable problems 
which arise, it is the part of wisdom to choose those 
whose solution is important. In the course of time, 
science becomes modest and suspicious, and it says, 
How many things there are which I do not understand ! 
But when reason, taught by experience, becomes 

WISDOM. 245 

wisdom, it says cheerfully, as Socrates did amid the 
goods of a fair, Ifmv nuiiu/ thimjs there are winch I do not 
tit cd ! What can I know ? What do I need ? These 
are the two questions to which reason and wisdom 
demand an answer ; and the answer to them should 
be the limit of the sphere in which philosophical inquiry 
moves. There is here, as so often in his works, a 
union of the speculative and the practical interests; 
and if Kant makes any distinction in the importance 
of the two, it is in favour of the practical ; for it is the 
matured reason which he pronounces wisdom, and this 
it is which limits itself to the useful amid the com 
prehensible problems. " In order to choose rationally 
one must first know what can be dispensed with and 
what is impossible. Science at last determines the 
limits fixed for it by the nature of the human reason. 
All bottomless plans, which may in themselves not be 
unworthy, but which lie beyond the sphere of men, flee 
to the limbus of vanity. Metaphysic will then be 
come something from which it is now pretty far 
removed, and what would least of all be expected from 
it, namely, the companion of wisdom. For so long as 
faith in the possibility of attaining such remote know 
ledge exists, wise simplicity will in vain declare that 
such undertakings are useless. The pleasure which 
attends the increase of knowledge is likely to appear 
to be a duty, and it easily regards intentional and 
planned contentment within limits, as stupid simplicity 
which opposes the ennobling of our nature. In the be 
ginning, questions pertaining to the spiritual, to freedom, 
to predestination, to a future state, and the like, arouse 
all the powers of the understanding; and on account 
of their importance, these subjects draw the mind into 


the contentions of a speculation which indiscriminately 
subtilizes and decides, asserts or contradicts, according 
to what seems most probable. But when the investi 
gation is converted into philosophy, which judges its 
own processes, and does not merely understand objects, 
but also their relation to the human understanding, 
then the limits are drawn more closely, and those 
landmarks are fixed which never again permit the in 
vestigation to leave its peculiar territory. Some 
philosophy was necessary in order to learn the difficulty 
of comprehending a conception which is usually treated 
as very easy and as an e very-day affair. A little 
more philosophy removes still farther this phantom 
of knowledge, and convinces us that it lies altogether 
beyond man s horizon. For in the relation of cause 
and effect, of substance and action, philosophy at 
first aids in untangling the complicated phenomena 
and in reducing them to simpler conceptions. But 
when the fundamental relations have at last been dis 
covered, the work of philosophy is at an end ; and it 
is impossible for reason to comprehend how anything 
can be a cause, or can have force, since these relations 
must be drawn solely from experience." Kant pro 
ceeds to show that it is impossible for the mind to 
understand how anything can bring about something 
that is different, that is, can be a cause. " That my 
will moves my arm, is no more comprehensible to me 
than if some one were to assert that the same can hold 
back the moon in its course; there being only this 
difference, that I experience the former, but I have 
never experienced the latter. I recognize in myself 
changes as in a subject which lives, namely, thoughts, 
choices, and the like ; and since these operations differ 


from those which constitute my notion of a body, I 
naturally conclude that there is within me an im 
material and enduring being. But whether this can 
think without connexion with the body, can never be 
determined by reflection on this being, of which we 
have a knowledge only from experience." 

These extracts show how rich this book on Dreams 
is in germs which were developed in the " Kritik." 
The prevalent metaphysic is vague and dreamy ; it must 
be changed in toto if it is to rest on a firm basis ; the 
limits of the reason must be determined, and speculation 
must be confined to them ; consistent thought is no 
evidence that outside of the mind there is an object 
corresponding with it, but experience is the only sure 
evidence of existence ; the whole domain of spirits and 
of a future life lies beyond the sphere of science; 
reason limits us to the knowable, wisdom to the useful: 
these and numerous other thoughts and hints are fore 
runners of Kant s chef-d ceuvre, which was wrought 
out after fifteen years more of severe toil. 

A letter to the popular philosopher, Moses Mendels 
sohn, also written in 1706, gives additional evidence of 
his intense absorption in the contemplation of meta 
physical problems. He regards, as he says in this 
letter, the metaphysics of the day with aversion and 
even with hatred. The welfare of the whole human 
race, he thinks, depends on metaphysics; for this 
reason he is grieved that it has so degenerated as to be 
useless and even injurious. The time has come when 
dogmatism must be destroyed, and when a sceptical 
method is necessary to free the minds of men from 
their fictitious knowledge. Since experience teaches 
us nothing respecting spiritual beings, the question is 


whether a priori anything respecting them can be de 
termined ? It cannot be proved that there are spiritual 
forces at work, neither can it be disproved; and 
Kant says in this letter, that if one were to attack the 
possibility of Swedenborg s dreams, he himself would 
undertake to defend that possibility. The question to 
be decided is, whether we can know anything of the 
nature of the soul that will enable us to determine its 
relation to matter as well as to beings of its own kind. 
Kant in this letter, as well as in the book, shows that 
he is deeply impressed with the fact that the reason 
has limits, and that he is intent on their discovery. 

From 1766 until the appearance of the " Kritik," in 
1781, there is a long silence, broken only by a few 
brief articles, and by the Inaugural Dissertation of 
1770, which he was obliged to present in order to be 
come a professor. As Kant had let the public hear 
from him frequently, this silence was ominous and 
naturally caused surprise. Lavater, the celebrated 
physiognomist, wrote to him in 1774, " Are you dead 
to the world ? Why do so many scribble who cannot 
write, while you, who can do it so well, do not write ? 
Why are you silent in this new period, and why do 
you let no whisper be heard ? Are you asleep ? Kant 
no, I will not praise you ; but do tell me why you 
are silent, or rather tell me that you will speak." The 
philosopher, no doubt, explained his silence, but his 
answer is lost. In Lavater s second letter, written in 
the same year, we find a reference to the " Kritik," 
seven years before its appearance. Lavater, who was 
a Swiss, wrote, " Together with many of my country 
men, I am eagerly awaiting your Kritik of Pure 
Reason. " ( I05 ) Kant had probably written that lie 


needed time to mature his thoughts, and Lavater says 
that lie will curb his desire for the appearance of the 
" Kritik," if Kant believes that the work will be made 
more perfect by delay, and adds, " Thousands of 
authors do not carry their work to that decisive point 
which makes an epoch. You are the man to do this. 
Penetration, learning, taste, and that human element 
which so many authors lack, and which the prevailing 
criticism does not think it worth while to consider, 
characterize your writings to such an extent that I 
expect more from you, in this respect, than from any 
one else." 

This period of protracted literary silence, when he 
was brooding over the problems of the " Kritik," is 
the very time when we want most of all to learn the 
processes going on in his mind. Fortunately his cor 
respondence gives us glimpses of them, especially that 
with the philosopher and mathematician, J. II. Lam 
bert. It was begun in 1765, by Lambert, who de 
sired to secure Kant s co-operation for the improve 
ment of metaphysics, and suggested that to this end 
they communicate to each other their thoughts on the 
subject. Wolf, he thinks, knew how r to go on, but 
not very well how to begin; yet, "if any science should 
be followed methodically from the very start, it is 
metaphysics." It will not do to begin with endless 
analysis ; the beginning should be made by means of 
synthesis, according to Euclid s method. Lambert 
expects much from Kant, whose mode of thinking he 
finds very similar to his own. 

Kant answered with unusual promptness the letter 
of the celebrated man, who, he thought, could aid him 
more in his investigations than any one else; he 


accepts his proposal and proceeds to give an outline 
of bis speculations. For years, he says, he has held 
his philosophical speculations in every conceivable 
light, in order to discover sources of error and to 
study the method of mental procedure, and he thinks 
that at last he is sure of the method which must be 
pursued to escape the illusion that a valid conclusion 
has been attained, which must, however, afterwards 
be rejected, and the steps already taken must be 
retraced. Since the discovery of this method, he at 
once sees, from the very nature of the investigations 
in hand, what he must know to solve a particular 
problem, and he also sees what degree of knowledge 
is determined by that which is given. The result is, 
that the conclusion is often more limited than is usual, 
but, at the same time, it is more definite and more 
sure. He intends to give all the thoughts referred to 
here, in " The Peculiar Method of Metaphysics," on 
which subject he had intended to have a book ready 
by the next spring, but he deferred the matter because 
he did not yet have all the illustrations which he 
needed ; before publishing this work he, therefore, 
proposes to prepare some smaller books, namely, " The 
Metaphysical Principles of Natural Science," and " The 
Metaphysical Principles of Practical Philosophy." ( 106 ) 
In this letter he also states that the time has come 
when the old metaphysic, Avith its endless movement 
in circles, must perish, and he says, " You are right 
in complaining of the eternal dalliance of the witlings, 
and of the tedious garrulity of the writers of the 
prevalent fashion who have no other taste than to talk 
about taste. But it seems to me that this is the 
euthanasia of false philosophy, since it dies with silly 


sports; it would be far worse if it, engaged in profound 
but false speculations, were to be buried with the pomp 
of a severe method. Before a genuine philosophy can 
arise, it is necessary for the old metaphysic to destroy 
itself; and as decomposition, which always takes place 
when a new product is to appear, is the most complete 
destruction, and as there is no lack of good minds, 
therefore the crisis in learning inspires me with the 
hope that the long-desired revolution in the sciences 
is no longer very distant." 

From Lambert s reply, early in 17G6, it is not only 
evident that his conception of metaphysics was very 
profound, but also that, in some respects at least, 
he was on the same track as Kant. Instead of hasty 
generalization, he wants the introduction of a more 
critical method which will limit the investigation to 
the knowable ; and instead of being content with 
hypotheses which delay the discovery of truth, he 
thinks it better to acknowledge our ignorance; and 
instead of the complex in knowledge, he thinks that 
the simple should be sought, and believes that Locke 
was on the right track for its discovery. Comparing 
mathematical with metaphysical knowledge, he calls 
attention to the indefiniteness of the latter ; when, for 
instance, mathematicians enter a field till then culti 
vated by metaphysicians, they are obliged to undo all 
that the latter have done, and, as a result, philosophy 
itself is brought into contempt. 

Kant, with his usual neglect of his correspondence, 
did not write again till 1770, when he sent a letter, 
and also his Inaugural Dissertation, to Lambert. This 
letter contains a hint which justifies the conclusion 
that in 17G9 the method of the " Kritik " had its birth. 


" For about a year I flatter myself that I have attained 
that conception which I have no fear that I shall ever 
change, though I may expand it, by means of which 
all kinds of metaphysical questions can be tested 
according to sure and easy criteria, and by means of 
which it can be decided with certainty how far their 
solution is possible." But ten years more were still 
necessary to develop and fortify this method. Kant 
refers in this letter to various literary plans, all of 
which were, however, deferred till after the completion 
of the " Kritik." During the winter of 1770-71, he 
proposes to investigate " pure moral philosophy," in 
which no empirical elements are found, and also to 
systematize his "Metaphysics of Morals;" but this 
book did not appear till fifteen years later. Then he 
wants to submit to Lambert his " Essays on Meta 
physics," assuring him that he will not let a single 
proposition stand which Lambert s judgment does not 
find perfectly evident ; " for if it cannot get this ap 
proval, then the aim to found this science on principles 
altogether unquestionable is a failure." A book from 
him with this title never appeared ; but it is probable 
that he intended to publish the critical thoughts thus 
far developed, in a book entitled " Essays on Meta 
physics." He also states that he intends to give a 
preparatory treatise, whose design is to be the pre 
servation of metaphysics proper from all admixture of 

Lambert, replying immediately, criticized the view 
of time and space given in Kant s Dissertation, and 
claims that, instead of being mere subjective conditions 
of knowledge, they also have objective reality. For 
some time he had tried to form a league of scholars to 


work out metaphysical problems according to a com 
mon plan, and to publish the results ; but he was 
discouraged, because he saw from the catalogues that 
everything else was being pushed aside by belles- 
lettres, though he cherishes the hope that there will 
be a return to the profound sciences. It was his 
desire to make Kant a prominent member of this 
learned league. 

As Lambert had begun, so he also ended this 
interesting correspondence. Kant never submitted 
the proposed Essays, and Lambert did not live to see 
the "Kritik." He died in 1777, at the age of forty- 
nine. Kant was waiting to let his thoughts ripen 
before submitting them to his friend, after whose 
death he wrote, " I had some ideas of a possible 
improvement in metaphysics, which I desired to 
mature in order to send them for criticism and de 
velopment to my deeply penetrating friend. All the 
hopes which I had based on so important a help 
vanished at the unexpected death of this extraordinary 
genius." He had expected much from a union of 
Lambert s efforts with his own for the production of 
something reliable and complete ; while he does not 
now despair of accomplishing this, he regards it as 
more tedious and more difficult since he is deprived of 
the assistance of so great a mind. 

This correspondence is but one of the many evi 
dences that the speculations of Kant were timely, and 
that the " Kritik," however striking the contrast 
between it and other works of the period, was really 
a product of the age. Other deep thinkers, beside 
Kant, felt the need of a change in metaphysics; and 
Lambert at least was pursuing a track which was 


similar to that which led to the Critical Philosophy. 
Numerous historical threads are seen in the literature 
and tendencies of the age, all of which run to the 
" Kritik." 

The Inaugural Dissertation of 1770, " On the Form 
and Principles of the Sensible and the Intelligible 
World," is of the utmost importance in tracing the 
development of the " Kritik." While heretofore the 
spirit and the tendency of Kant s writings have chiefly 
interested us, it is different with this Dissertation. It 
was presented to the philosophical faculty when he 
became professor of logic and metaphysics, and we 
naturally look for a positive statement of his meta 
physical views. As he discusses the sense and the 
understanding, we expect to learn definitely his view 
of these faculties. Philosophers, at that time, generally 
made the distinction between the two a difference in 
degree, not in kind ; one of quantity, not of quality. 
It was thought that the objects of both are the same, 
but that in sensation these objects are presented to 
the mind with less clearness than in the understanding. 
But, according to Kant, the understanding does not 
differ from the sense in the degree of clearness with 
which it presents objects, but there is a difference in 
kind.( 107 ) Sensation is the receptivity of the subject 
which enables it to receive impressions from external 
objects ; the understanding is the ability of the subject 
to represent to itself that which, according to its very 
nature, cannot be an object of the senses. The two, 
therefore, have different objects, and Kant says, " The 
object of the senses is the sensible; but whatever 
contains nothing except that which can be understood 
only by the understanding, is the intelligible. In the 


schools, the former was called by the ancients Phe 
nomenon, the latter Noumcnon" Sensation gives only 
representations of things as they seem to be ; but the 
understanding gives representations of things as they 
are. He also indicates the difference in the origin of 
the objects of sense and those of the understanding. 
While sensation receives its impressions from external 
things, the understanding receives its objects neither 
from these nor from the sensations, but they are the 
product of the understanding itself. To the latter, 
for instance, belong all moral conceptions, which are 
not learned from experience, but originate in the under 
standing. Kant thus makes a real distinction, in origin 
as well as in kind, between the perceptions of sense and 
the conceptions of the understanding, and says, " I 
fear, therefore, that Wolf, who held that the difference 
between that which is perceived and that which is a 
product of the understanding is only logical, brought 
the celebrated investigations of antiquity respecting 
the nature of phenomena and noumena into oblivion, 
to the great disadvantage of philosophy ; for in turning 
the attention away from this investigation he has 
frequently directed it to mere trifles." 

The " Kritik " itself must be studied in order to see 
the far-reaching consequences of this distinction 
between these two faculties. Kuno Fischer says, 
" The difference thus established between sensation 
and understanding is the first insight of the critical 
philosophy." Already in tin s dissertation Kant as 
signs to each facidty its own world, and the distinc 
tion which he makes, gives him a new definition of 
metaphysics. In 17GG he defined it as the philosophy 
of the first principles of our knowledge ; now he 


defines it as the philosophy which contains the 
principles of the use of the pure understanding. ( 10H ) 
The science preparatory to metaphysics is the one 
which teaches the difference between the knowledge 
obtained through the sense, and that obtained through 
the understanding ; and this dissertation is an essay 
to give the propaedeutics to metaphysics. 

There are no empirical elements in metaphysics ; 
therefore its conceptions are not to be sought in sensa 
tion, but in the nature of pure understanding. While 
Kant rejects the doctrine of innate ideas, he holds 
that the conditions for the production of the objects 
of the understanding are in the understanding itself, 
and that its activity need but be properly aroused in 
order to produce its conceptions ; the very laws of 
thought will evolve them. These conceptions are, 
therefore, acquired, being learned by observing the 
activity of the mind ; and they are such as possibility, 
reality, substance, cause, and the like, with their oppo- 
sites or correlatives. They do not inhere in any sensible 
representations, are not elements of such representa 
tions, and therefore cannot possibly be abstracted or 
drawn from them. But if not produced by sensation, 
they must be the product of the mind itself. 

More remarkable than this distinction between 
sense and understanding, is Kant s peculiar view of 
time and space, given here for the first time ; a view 
which plays so conspicuous a part in his philosophy, 
which met with so much opposition when first an 
nounced, and which has been the subject of a long 
controversy that is not yet ended. Only two years 
before the dissertation appeared, he had declared that 
space is not merely an object of thought, but also 


something external to the mind ; ( loy ) at that time, 
therefore, the theory of time and space contained in 
the Critical Philosophy was not yet formed. But in 
this dissertation it is given with unmistakable clear 
ness, and it is interesting to examine the first state 
ment of this important theory. Respecting time, his 
first proposition is, " The notion of time does not 
arise from the senses, but is presupposed by them;" 
he thus rejects the prevalent view that our notion of 
time is drawn from experience, namely, by observing 
the series of events or things following one another. 
Before we can get a conception of things as existing 
at the same time or successively, we must first have 
the notion of time itself. In fact, all our conceptions 
of things occurring in time presuppose the notion of 
time ; therefore this notion, instead of arising from 
experience, must precede our knowledge of things in 

" Time is nothing objective, nothing real, no sub 
stance, no accident, no relation ; but it is a subjective 
condition which, from the very nature of the mind, 
makes it necessary to co-ordinate all things according 
to a certain law, and it is a pure intuition." While 
time is only an imaginary thing (ens imaginarium), it 
is nevertheless absolutely necessary as a condition 
for the perception of objects. It is a primitive and 
original perception. Time is absolutely the first 
formal principle of the sensible world ; ( no ) for sensible 
things can be perceived only either simultaneously or 

His theory of space and its relation to perception 
is similar to that of time. His first proposition is, 
that the notion of space, like that of time, is not drawn 



from experience. We cannot perceive an object 
except as in space; therefore the possibility of the 
perception of external objects presupposes the notion 
of space, and, consequently, this perception cannot 
create that notion. Only what is in space can affect 
the senses ; space itself cannot. 

His second proposition is, that, like time, space is 
an individual perception which includes all spaces 
within itself, not under it as the general includes the 
particular. ( nl ) Several spaces are only parts of one 
immeasurable space ; therefore the parts of space are 
not related to space itself as species and genus, but 
simply as parts to a whole. 

His third proposition is, that the notion of space is 
a pure perception, for it is a single perception, not one 
compounded from experience ; it is the ground-form 
for the perception of all external objects. 

Fourth proposition : " Space is nothing objective 
and real, is no substance, no accident, no relation ; 
but it is subjective and ideal, and emanates from the 
nature of the mind according to an unalterable law ; 
it is, so to speak, the form for the co-ordination of all 
that is experienced from without." 

In his last proposition Kant states that while space 
is merely imaginary, it nevertheless contains real 
truth in relation to all sensible things, and is the basis 
of all knowledge respecting the external world ; for 
objects can appear to the senses only by means of that 
power of the mind which co-ordinates the experiences 
according to an unalterable law implanted in its 
nature. We can perceive an object of the senses only 
according to the original axioms of space and the con 
clusions drawn from them. The notion of space, like 


that of time, is, accordingly, the condition for the 
perception of all sensible objects. ( 112 ) And the 
notion of space, as well as of time, is learned from the 
action of the mind, and is not in any way drawn from 
objects. ( 113 ) While thus Kant does not make the 
notions of space and time innate, the law according to 
which the mind acts, and from which they arise, is of 
course innate. 

Academic dissertations generally receive but little 
attention, and that may be a reason why this signifi 
cant one did not excite more interest. Nor was the 
abstract nature of the discussion calculated to attract 
many readers. Evidently the fact was not appreciated 
that there were germs in Kant s dissertation which 
need only be developed and applied in order to pro 
duce a revolution in metaphysics. But there was at 
least one mind which suspected that its author had in 
reserve a whole system, of which he now gave only 
hints. Moses Mendelssohn read the dissertation with 
great pleasure, as he states in a letter to Kant ; 
though, on account of the weak state of his nerves, 
he was hardly able to grasp anything so profoundly 
speculative. However, he had the acuteness to see 
that it was the forerunner of a new system, and wrote 
to Kant, " One sees that this little book is the result 
of very long meditation, and that it must be viewed 
as part of a whole system which is peculiar to the 
author, and of which he is willing at present to exhibit 
only a few specimens. Even the apparent obscurity of 
some parts leads the skilful reader to suspect that 
there is an entire system which is not yet presented to 
him. In the meanwhile, it would be to the advantage 
of metaphysics, which now, alas ! has so degenerated, 


if you would not withhold too long your present supply 
of meditations. Life is short ; and while one still 
cherishes the hope of improving it, how soon the end 
approaches ! And why do you so greatly fear to 
repeat what has already been said before you ? In 
connexion with the thoughts peculiarly your own, even 
the old always appears in a new light, and gives views 
which were not thought of before. Since you possess 
in a high degree the talent of writing for many 
readers, it is to be hoped that you will not write 
exclusively for the few adepts who are eager only for 
what is new, and can guess from the half-said what 
yet remains concealed." 

Mendelssohn has been regarded as a forerunner of 
Kant, and there is no doubt that in some respects lie 
prepared the way for him. He himself found that 
some of Kant s views were similar to his own, which, 
as he says in this letter, were given in a book which 
was in press before the dissertation was received, but 
he did not think them so profoundly developed by 
himself as by Kant. The letter, however, decidedly 
opposes the view of time given in the dissertation, and 
claims that it is both the subjective condition of 
perception and something that is objective. 

Eighteen months after the Inaugural Dissertation 
appeared, Kant wrote a long letter to Dr. Marcus 
Herz, in Berlin, in which he gives a view of his specu 
lations at that time, stating that he has already made 
considerable progress in determining the difference 
between the sensible and the intelligible in morality, 
has considered quite satisfactorily the principles of the 
emotions, of the taste, and of the judgment, and their 
influences as seen in the agreeable, the beautiful, and 


the good. Ho has also planned a work which might 
be entitled, " The Limits of Sense and Reason," which 
was intended to have botli a theoretical and a practical 
part. The theoretical section was to discuss, first, 
phenomenology in general ; secondly, the nature and 
method of metaphysics : the practical section was to 
discuss, first, the general principles of feeling, of taste, 
and of the sensualist ic desires ; secondly, the first 
principles of morality. From this it is evident that 
the contemplated work on " The Limits of Sense and 
Reason," which never appeared, was intended to dis 
cuss subjects which were afterwards treated in his 
three critiques. Kant mentions as a neglected point, 
which he is investigating, the relation of perception 
to the object perceived. The question he has been 
considering is, whether in our perception we have 
only a product of the influence of the object on our 
senses, or whether the mind itself produces the per 
ception ? The conclusion which he has arrived at is, 
that neither the one nor the other is the case, but that 
there is an object external to our minds, and that there 
are also categories of the understanding, and that in 
our perceptions both co-operate. How then does it 
happen that our minds have conceptions which har 
monize with the objects ? He admits that the answers 
given to this question always leave some obscurity in 
the mind respecting the harmony existing between the 
understanding and the objects of the sense. 

The sources of the intellectual conceptions must 
be known by him who wants to understand the nature 
and the limits of metaphysics. Kant had accordingly, 
as he states in this letter, tried to bring all the con 
ceptions of the pure reason under the head of certain 


categories, and he thinks that he has already succeeded, 
essentially, in doing this ; and he is now ready to give 
a " Kritik of Pure Reason," he says, which contains 
the nature of theoretical as well as practical knowledge 
so far as it is only intellectual. He expects to work 
out and publish within three months the first part of 
this " Kritik," discussing the sources, method, and 
limits of metaphysics ; after that he proposes to work 
out the pure principles of morality. So intently is he 
engaged in considering these problems that he wants 
to think of nothing else profoundly. 

While Kant has already found the name for his 
great work, it is evident that he has not yet formed 
the plan on which it was finally constructed. The 
three months became three times three years, all of 
them spent in intense application. In 1776 he 
wrote to Herz that he had been much censured for 
inactivity, and yet he had never toiled more sys 
tematically or more continuously. The letter states 
that, instead of publishing something for the sake 
of temporary popularity, as he might do, he is 
engaged on a work by means of which he hopes to 
gain a permanent reputation. For this he has already 
thought out the material, and it is only necessary for 
him to work it over ; when it is finished he expects to 
have a clear field, and to engage in work which will be 
only a pleasure. Whoever understands the nature of 
the task he had undertaken will not think Kant s 
declaration strange, that obstinacy was necessary to 
pursue persistently such a plan as his, and that the 
difficulties had frequently tempted him to engage in 
easier and more agreeable work ; but he was saved 
from yielding to this temptation by overcoming the 


obstacles and by the consideration of the importance of 
the subject. As the whole field of reason must be 
examined in order to accomplish his aim, experience 
cannot help him. The letter states that he wants to 
determine, according to reliable principles, " the whole 
compass of reason, its departments, its limits, its entire 
contents ;" and he desires so to mark the boundaries 
that in the future one may know with certainty 
whether he is on the basis of reason. In order 
that this may be accomplished, he thinks that an 
entirely new science of reason is necessary, in the con. 
struction of which nothing already existing can bo 
used. He expects to finish the work in the summer of 
1777, yet has his fears that he may be disappointed : 
fears which were well grounded, for, as he says, he was 
constantly subject to indisposition. 

The letters of this period give some idea of the 
enormous amount of labour which the " Kritik " cost 
its author. Repeatedly he thought that it was nearly 
done, when he found that the work again grew on his 
hands. " I do not think," he says, " that many have 
attempted to plan an entirely new science and have 
also completed it ;" and he thinks that Herz cannot 
imagine the amount of time and labour required for 
the accomplishment of this. He, however, hopes to 
give philosophy an entirely different direction, one 
which will be more advantageous to religion and 
morality ; and he also hopes to give it a form which 
will attract mathematicians, and make them regard it 
worthy of their attention. 

Kant s correspondence also indicates that he fre 
quently changed his plans. When the book was 
already in press, he wrote to Herz that the " Kritik " 


" contains the results of all kinds of investigations, 
which began with the ideas which we discussed under 
the title of the Mundi Sensibilis and Intelligibilis," 
referring to his Inaugural Dissertation. At other times 
he expected to limit the contents much more. It may 
surprise some that at any time Kant regarded such a 
" Kritik " as lying outside of the sphere of metaphy 
sics ; but this significant passage occurs in a letter 
written to Herz in the winter of 1774-75 : " I shall 
rejoice when I have finished my transcendental philo 
sophy, which is really a critique of pure reason. I shall 
then work on metaphysic, which has only two parts, 
namely, the metaphysic of nature and that of morals, of 
which I expect to publish the latter first ; and I already 
rejoice over it in anticipation." At this time, there 
fore, he held the view which he also held for years 
after the " Kritik " appeared, that it was only the pre 
paration for metaphysics ; nevertheless he regards it as 
belonging to transcendental philosophy. His letters 
and books, together with his last manuscript, show 
that his view of metaphysic was subject to numerous 

That the plan of the work should have been 
subject to many alterations is not strange, especially 
when the many years required for its development are 
considered. The subjects discussed were held in every 
light, and they were the burden of his thoughts during 
his recreation as well as in his study. Kant himself in 
formed Borowski that the plan of the " Kritik" was 
made during his promenades on the way named after 
him, "The Philosopher s Walk." While his own 
letters show with what absorbing attention he was 
devoting himself to the work, Hamann s letters of 1779 


and 1780 also speak of him as still incessantly engaged 
on it. Those who marvel at the contents of the 
" Kritik" should remember that it embodies the results 
of twelve years of the intensest efforts of Kant s great 




Publication of the " Kritik " Hamann s impressions of the book 
Difficulties of the work Defects and excellencies Aim 
A priori and a posteriori knowledge Analytic and synthetic 
judgments Transcendental aesthetics The Categories The 
reason Charge of idealism Das Ding an Sich God, the 
soul, freedom, immortality Ontological, cosmological, and 
physico-theological proofs of God s existence Result of the 
"Kritik" " Prolegomena " " Metaphysical Principles of 
Natural Science " " Critique of the Judgment " Conflict of 
the faculties Last manuscript. 

KANT made arrangements in December, 1780, for the 
publication of the " Kritik." The publisher, Hart- 
knoch, lived in Riga, but the book was printed in Halle. 
Professor Kraus, speaking of Kant, says, "He asked 
nothing for his Kritik. Hartknoch, of his own accord, 
however, gave him four dollars a sheet, and Kant 
regarded the money received from Hartknoch for 
every new edition as a present." The professor also 
states that Kant had offered the book to Hartung, a 
publisher in Konigsberg, who, however, refused to 
undertake the work, because the author had frankly 
told him that he had his doubts whether the book 
would pay expenses. Kant expected the " Kritik " to 
appear at Easter, 1781 ; but it was delayed until the 


summer of that year. It was dedicated to the Cabinet 
Minister, Von Zedlitx, who had shown such marked 
favour to Kant, and was a great admirer of his works. 

As the printing of the book progressed, the 
publisher, who was a friend of Hainann, sent advance 
sheets to him, as well as to Kant. In his letters 
Ilarnann gives his impression of the parts as they 
appeared, and these are the first notices we have of 
the work. When the first sheets came, he wrote, 
humorously, that he had prepared himself with an 
ounce of Glauber s salt to digest them. To the pub 
lisher lie wrote on April 8th, 1781, that lie had received 
the first thirty sheets on the Oth, and that on the 
next day he had devoured the whole, but that he lost 
the thread of the discussion in the chapter on the 
Interests of the Reason. " I should think that the 
book would no more be in want of readers than Klop- 
stock s German Republic is in need of subscribers. I 
skipped a few sheets, because theses and antitheses 
were on opposite pages, and 1 found it difficult to keep 
hold of the double thread in a rough copy. . . . 
According to human probability, it will attract atten 
tion and will be the occasion of new investigations, 
revisions, et cetera. But there will probably be few 
readers who can master its scholastic contents. The 
interest grows with the progress of the discussion, 
and there are charming oases after one lias long been 
wading in the sand. Altogether, the work is rich in 
prospects and in leaven for new fermentation both 
within and without the circle of philosophers." What 
he has read makes him eager for the completion of the 
work, so that he may read the whole. 

The advance sheets taxed Hamann s powers to the 


utmost, and on April 21st he wrote to Herder, " As 
an old hearer of Kant, you will probably understand 
him better. . . It seems to me that the whole tends 
to a new organon, new categories, and not so much to 
a new scholastic construction as to sceptic tactics." 
And he adds, " I am anxious to learn how you feel 
when you read the Kantian { Kritik. I have said 
sapienti sat to the transcendental twaddle about the 
legal or the pure reason ; for it seems to me that in 
the end all tends to sophistry and empty verbiage." ( m ) 
He thinks that the size of the book corresponds 
neither with the size of the author nor with the idea 
of pure reason. Again he wrote to Herder, " I am 
curious to know your view of Kant s masterpiece. . . . 
He deserves to be called the Prussian Hume. It seems 
to me that his whole transcendental theology tends to 
an ideal of entity. With respect to space and time he 
is, without knowing it, more fanatical than Plato in 
the intellectual world." Hamann, who was a great 
admirer of Hume, prefers him to Kant, and says, 
" Hume is always my man, because he at least 
ennobles the principle of faith, and has received it into 
his system. . . . Hume s dialogues close with the 
Jewish and Platonic hopes of a coming prophet ; Kant 
is rather a cabalist who makes an Eon into a Divinity in 
order to establish mathematical certainty, which Hume, 
geometry excepted, limited rather to arithmetic." 

Hamann expected the last sheets of the book in the 
beginning of June, but on the 19th they had reached 
neither him nor Kant. Finally, he wrote to Herder, 
August 5th, that a week ago he had received a bound 
copy of the " Kritik." This fixes July, 1781, as the time 
of its appearance. 


It seems that Hamann had been requested by Kant 
himself to review some of his writings, and he pub 
lished a review of his book on the Beautiful and the 
Sublime. He had also prepared a review of the 
"Kritik " for a paper in Konigsberg, but was afraid to 
publish it, lest he might wound his sensitive friend. 
Though an admirer of Kant s speculative and ana 
lytical powers, he could not adopt his philosophy as a 
whole. While seeing much in it to admire, there was 
also much which seemed to him one-sided or defective. 
For the people in general he pronounced it " too 
abstract and too precious." Owing to its high ideals, 
he thought the book might be called Mysticism as well 
as the " Kritik of Pure Reason." He told Kant that he 
liked his work, " all except the mysticism." Kant, 
who had a dread of everything of the kind, and had 
aimed to put an end to it by means of this book, was 
astonished, and could not imagine how mysticism 
could have gotten into the book. To Hamann this 
was evidence that, without knowing it, all philosophers 
are fanatics. 

Hamann thought that, for the sake of mathematical 
demonstration, the "Kritik" ignored too much the 
heart, intuition, and faith. His later views of the book 
were not more favourable than the first impressions, 
and he wrote: "It seems to me that the step from 
transcendental ideas to demonology is not far." In 
a letter to Jacobi he makes this statement : " The 
ambiguity of the word reason tends altogether to 
Jesuitical chicanery. For the world, I cannot under 
stand how two men like Kant and Euler can smoke 
out of the same pipe, and can practise so gross a 
deception for the purpose of burdening their adver- 


saries." Hamann sees sophistry in the " Kritik," regards 
the book as prolix and calculated to mislead. When 
Kant s " Basis of the Metaphysics of Morals " appeared 
in 1785, Hamann wrote that, instead of the pure reason, 
there is here a new fiction of the brain and a new 
idol, namely, the good will, and adds, " Even his 
enemy must admit that Kant is one of our keenest 
minds ; but alas ! his acuteness is his evil demon, just 
as Lessing s was his ; for a new scholasticism and a 
new papacy are the two Midas ears of our age." In 
his opinion, the "Kritik" is often suspended on a logical 
spider-web ; bnt he also said, years after the work 
appeared, " Pure reason and a good will are still 
words to me whose meaning my understanding cannot 

The difficulties to which Hamann referred have been 
experienced by all the readers of the "Kritik" and Kant 
himself was aware of their existence. To Mendelssohn 
he wrote, that the work was the product of at least 
twelve years of thought, bnt that he had written out 
the whole in four or five months, hurriedly, as it were, 
paying the closest attention to the substance, but less 
to the style, and also making but little effort to render 
the book easy for the reader. Kant admits that this 
makes the work difficult ; still, he does not regret that 
he completed it in that way ; for if the work had been 
longer delayed for the purpose of making it more 
popular, it might not have appeared at all. Its lack 
of perspicuity, he thinks, can be remedied in the course 
of time. He states that he is already too old to give, 
with uninterrupted effort, completeness to an extensive 
work, and, at the same time, with file in hand, make 
each part round, smooth, and graceful. While he had 


the material for the explanation of every difficult point, 
he says that in writing out the book he did not want 
to be obliged to attend to this matter ; he hopes to 
do this in the future, when different parts of the book 
are attacked and explanations are made necessary. 
Then, he says, when one has worked out a system and 
has become familiar with its thoughts, he cannot easily 
guess what in it may to the reader seem obscure, or 
indefinite, or not sufficiently proved. 

The various letters written by Kant while the "Kritik 11 
was in process of preparation confirm his statement to 
Mendelssohn respecting his great care with reference 
to the contents, and also reveal the hopes which were 
centred in the work ; and in his " Prolegomena " he 
states that he carefully weighed every sentence. Not 
only did it take years to put the book in a shape to 
satisfy him, it frequently took a long time and great 
care before he could satisfy himself respecting a single 
sentence. While pleased with the work as a whole, 
Kant regarded some parts as prolix and therefore 

The mere mechanical labour of writing a book so 
large as the " Kritik " in four or five months must have 
been quite a task. In writing it " hurriedly," as he 
said he did, the style naturally suffered, the more so 
because Kant neglected that and devoted his attention 
to the substance. Complaints respecting the diffi 
culties of the work are heard from scholars, as well as 
from the general reader. While some persons lay 
down the book, despairing of ever mastering its con 
tents, others totally misinterpret it, and publish their 
misinterpretations as Kant s doctrines. His own dis 
ciples have engaged in bitter disputes as to tho 


meaning of the master s words, and there have been 
striking differences among the Kantians as well as 
among the Hegelians. Many of the difficulties of the 
c< Kritik/ are largely due to the nature of the subjects 
discussed, to the abstract character of its thoughts, 
and the novelty of the method. Kant states, in the 
Preface, that it was impossible to adapt the work to 
popular use, and that it was intended for adepts in 
science who did not so much need explanations, which 
he had therefore given less frequently than would other 
wise have been the case, lest the book might become 
too large. He also believed that difficulties have 
their attractions, since their solution by the reader 
serves to flatter his vanity. 

The multitude of subjects discussed, and the wealth 
of the profound thought, embarrass the student and 
add to the difficulty of following the author. ( 115 ) Some 
of the most important terms are used in different 
senses. That there are not merely parts which it is 
difficult to harmonize, but that there are actual con 
tradictions, is now generally admitted. A thought is 
introduced, dropped, then taken up again ; numerous 
secondary matters are discussed, and side-issues are 
introduced, while the main thought is held in abeyance. 
The introduction of apparently extraneous matter 
seems to confirm Kant s statement that the work 
" contains the results of all kinds of investiga 
tions. ^ 116 ) There is of ten a confusing prolixity where 
the importance of the subject makes a short, clear, 
and definite statement particularly desirable. Some 
things are repeated so often, either in the same or 
similar phraseology, as to become tedious ; and at 
times the amount of material carried along in an argu- 


mont is so great that the process of reasoning is 
almost buried under its weight ; and when the con 
clusion is finally reached, it is exceedingly difficult to 
test its correctness. Whilst one almost despairs of 
mastering the separate parts, what shall be said of 
their relation to each other and their complete syn 
thesis ? When these facts are considered, we shall 
be able the better to comprehend how idealism and 
realism, scepticism and dogmatism, rationalism and 
mysticism, could attach themselves to the " Kritik." It 
is a rich mine with various ores and many veins ; and 
it has often happened that persons of the most diverse 
tendencies have found, or imagined that they found, 
just the ore they sought, because each one worked 
only a particular vein or mistook the nature of the 
metal which he discovered. 

But in spito of these patent defects, in which we 
have reflections of mental characteristics of Kant, 
especially of his liability to distraction, taking the 
" Kritik "^as a whole, where can its peer be found? Has 
it not excellencies in which it stands without a rival 
in ancient as well as modern times ? The work is 
one of the marvels of philosophical literature, on 
account of its subject, its aim, the comprehensiveness 
of its scope, its method, its profundity and novelty, 
the startling character of leading thoughts, the epoch 
it made in philosophy, the vast literature it has already 
occasioned and is still inspiring, and the new direction 
which it gave to thought. No other book of any age 
lias had so deep and broad and abiding an influence 
on the metaphysical thought of Germany; and not 
only have men like Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, and 
Schopenhauer, developed their systems from germs 



found in the " Kritik," but science, theology, morals, 
and general literature, have received new impulses and 
new directions from this work. 

When the greatness of this work is considered and 
its marvellous influence, it is not strange that Kant is 
known chiefly as the author of the " Kritik." While this 
work is too much the man himself to be dismissed with 
a passing notice, an analysis, or extended account, or a 
criticism of its contents, lie beyond the province of a 
biography, and would require a volume to be complete 
and valuable. Nor is this necessary, since many of the 
thoughts of the book have been embodied in modern 
philosophy, and largely even in literature ; and the 
English reader will be able to form a good idea of its 
contents from translations and from accounts of it by 
English writers. A very general summary, descriptive 
rather than critical, of some of the main features of the 
work, must here suffice. 

Kant wanted to make metaphysics a positive science. 
He spoke so contemptuously of the prevalent philo 
sophy because it was so vague, built massive super 
structures on mere hypotheses, and accepted, as abso 
lute and final, great principles without demonstrating 
their validity. Where he found dreams, opinions, and 
faith, in the philosophy of the day, he wanted axioms. 
His hatred of dogmatism was the more intense because 
he himself had be?n subject to its dominion. Doubt 
has its mission, but only as the underminer of error 
and the guide to truth ; as a system of philosophy, 
scepticism is a testimony of mental weakness and 
of despair in the search for truth. When Hume 
destroyed the basis of Kant s dogmatism, the critical 
metaphysician could not rest in the scepticism of the 


Scotch philosopher, for his mind demanded axiomatic 
certainty. But in order that he might get an im 
movable basis it was necessary, first of all, to deter 
mine what the human mind can know and what lies 
beyond its capacities. His great aim in the " Kritik " is 
to find the limits of human reason. Two questions 
give us the problems which the book wants to solve, 
and it solves the first in order that it may be able to 
solve the second : " How do we know ? What can we 
know ?" In his answers to these questions, Kant uses 
much which had already been given in his previous 
works, especially in the Inaugural Dissertation. 

With Locke he holds that, in point of time, all our 
knowledge begins with experience ; but this fact he 
does not regard as evidence that experience is the 
source of all our knowledge. It may even be the case 
that what is called experimental knowledge is the re 
sult of impressions received from external objects and 
of additions made by our own minds. There is know 
ledge which is not drawn from experience, but is the 
product of the mind itself; this Kant calls a priori 
knowledge. The knowledge which is received through 
the senses is called a posteriori. A priori knowledge is 
independent of all experience ; and such a sentence as 
this, " Every change must have a cause," is partly, not 
purely, a priori, because change is a conception drawn 
only from experience. 

Observation is necessarily limited ; it only shows 
that an object is in a certain state, but never that it 
must be so : that is, it deals with particulars, never 
with universals. But we have judgments which are 
both necessary and universal, such as the axioms of 
mathematics. These cannot possibly be given by the 


senses ; hence all necessary and universal judgments 
are a priori. After defining a priori knowledge and 
showing that it is found even in ordinary minds, Kant 
discusses, in the third section of the Introduction, the 
proposition : Philosophy needs a science which deter 
mines a priori the possibility, the principles, and the 
limits of knowledge. The"Kritik"is of course intended 
to be this science, and the proposition gives its aim. 

In the next section he discusses analytical and 
synthetic judgments, a subject which was by no means 
new, but it attained a prominence and importance in the 
" Kritik " such as it had never before received. Hume, 
in considering the same subject, had come to the conclu 
sion that mathematical judgments are analytical, while 
Kant held that they are mostly synthetic. The distinc 
tion between the two kinds of judgments is of fun 
damental importance for understanding the " Kritik/ 
If by the mere analysis of a subject a predicate is found 
to be contained in the idea of a subject, though in a 
hidden manner, then the judgment which declares that 
predicate to belong to the subject, is analytic. The 
sentence, " All bodies are extended," is an analytic judg 
ment, for the conception of extension is contained in 
that of body, and the mere analysis of the conception 
of body gives that of extension. An analytic judgment, 
since it gives in the predicate only what is already con 
tained in the subject, does not in the least enlarge our 
knowledge, but makes it clearer. If, however, I predi 
cate of a subject something not already contained in the 
very conception of it, then I give a synthetic judgment; 
instead of merely analyzing my conception of it, I add 
something new to the subject. Kant again uses the 
illustration of a body, and says that the judgment, " All 


bodies are heavy," is synthetic, since the conception of 
weight is not included in that of body. Synthetic 
judgments, therefore, increase our knowledge. All 
analytical judgments are a priori ; all judgments drawn 
from experience are synthetic, and they are, of course, 
a posteriori. But there are also synthetic judgments 
which are a priori ; thus most mathematical judgments 
are synthetic and a priori. There can be no question 
about the truthfulness of analytic judgments, nor 
respecting synthetic judgments from experience. But 
there are ideas and principles which lie wholly beyond 
experience and are of the most momentous importance, 
such as God and immortality. How can a knowledge 
of these be attained ? Not by analytic judgments, nor 
by moans of synthetic judgments drawn from ex 
perience. In all the sciences, in physics and meta 
physics as well as in mathematics, there are a priori 
synthetic judgments, and a thorough test of their 
validity is of the utmost importance. Kant, therefore, 
thinks that an imperative demand is made on reason 
to answer this question, How are synthetic judgments 
a priori possible ? ( 117 ) He regards this as synonymous 
with the question, How is knowledge by means of 
pure reason possible? or, How is metaphysic as a 
science possible ? 

The view of time and space found in the Inaugural 
Dissertation is also given in the " Kritik :" they are 
the subjective conditions for all experience. Whatever 
is observed by the senses is perceived in space, or in 
time, or in both ; whatever is observed in our minds is 
perceived in time. The distinction between the sense 
and the understanding, found in the same dissertation, 
is also maintained in the " Kritik," and from it 


important consequences are drawn. The understanding 
gives the forms for all possible experience ; they are 
the conditions for all knowledge, which without them 
would be impossible. However, being mere forms of 
knowledge, they do not apply to things as they are in 
themselves, but only to phenomena. While the sense 
gives us objects, the understanding thinks them. In 
experience, therefore, two things are to be considered, 
namely, an object presented to the mind through the 
senses, and the forms of knowledge given by the 
understanding ; the former is the a posteriori, the latter 
the a priori element. Through the sense I receive an 
impression of heat ; but when in connexion with this 
impression I think of substance, cause, force as the 
substance of which the heat is but a manifestation, the 
cause of the heat, and the like I add something which 
I did not get through the senses, something that is 
the product of my understanding and is a priori. All 
knowledge of things must necessarily have these two 
elements, the apriori and the aposteriori, the impression 
on the senses and the thought of the understanding. 
The sense cannot think, it can only receive impres 
sions ; the understanding thinks, but by means of its 
thoughts it cannot give us real (existing) objects of 
knowledge, but only forms for a knowledge of the 
objects given by the senses. One of the first sentences 
of the " Kritik " also contains the conclusion of the 
whole investigation : that an object can in no wise be 
given to the mind except through the senses. ( 118 ) 

In the first part of the book Kant discusses Trans 
cendental ./Esthetics, by which he designates the apriori 
science of all the principles of sensation. He discusses, 
under this head, space and time as the apriori subjective 


conditions of experience. As they themselves are 
a priori, so whatever gives their necessary relations is 
also a priori ; and as these relations are not found by 
analysis, they are synthetic judgments. These relations 
are the subjects of pure mathematics. Geometry, for 
instance, deals with figures, hence with space, and 
Kant says, " Geometry is a science which determines 
synthetically, and yet d priori, the properties of space." 
Pure mathematics is both a jmori and synthetic in its 
judgments. Although absolutely certain in its conclu 
sions, it gives us no objects of knowledge, but only 
forms or conditions for a knowledge of existing things ; 
it deals with space and time, and thus gives the 
conditions of the knowledge obtained through the 

As space and time are the conditions for all experi 
ence, so there are certain conditions which are necessary 
in order that we may think objects ; and just as space 
and time are dpriori, being given by the mind itself, so 
are the conditions necessary for thinking objects also 
a priori, being the product of the understanding ; they 
are the forms which the understanding gives to experi 
ence. It is not by means of these forms that we 
represent objects to ourselves, but by means of them 
the understanding judges of the objects presented to 
the mind through the senses. If we eliminate the 
content of judgments and consider only the pure form 
of the understanding contained in them, we find that 
all the functions of thought in the judgments may be 
brought under four heads, each being again subdivided 
into three parts. Under Quantity, we have general, 
particular, and individual judgments; under Quality, 
affirmative, negative, limitless judgments; under 


Relation, categorical, hypothetical, disjunctive judg 
ments ; under Mode, problematical, assertive, apodictic 
judgments. Kant calls these the logical functions of 
the understanding. Under the same four heads he 
gives the pure conceptions of the understanding " which 
are a priori applicable to objects of perception in 
general." These are called, after the example of Aris 
totle, Categories. They are under Quantity, unity, 
multiplicity, totality ; under Quality, reality, negation, 
limitation ; under Relation, substance and accident, 
cause and effect, reciprocity ; ( 119 ) under Mode, pos 
sibility and impossibility, existence and non-existence, 
necessity and accident. Kant regarded these categories 
as complete and exhaustive, as a general classification 
of all possible conceptions of the understanding, and 
he looked with the greatest satisfaction on their 
discovery, viewing his work in this respect as completing 
the imperfect table of the categories given by 

Kant held that it is by means of these categories 
that the understanding connects all the impressions 
received through the senses. These impressions are 
separate, each standing alone, and sensation, which 
Kant views as the mere receptivity of the mind, has 
no means of connecting them ; but the understanding, 
which he regards as the spontaneity of the mind, 
connects them. Without this connecting power there 
could be no judgments. By means of the categories, 
which are a priori, all the impressions are systematized, 
are bound together and classified ; the perceptions are 
made conceptions, the impressions become thoughts, 
the individual is brought into relation with the general, 
and the predicate is connected with its subject. That 


we think by means of these categories, is not the 
result of peculiar experience, nor of any experience ; 
it is a necessity inherent in the understanding. As 
no number of impressions in sensation can give the 
conception of causality, so no number of them can 
deprive the mind of this conception. This and all 
the other categories of the understanding are the 
original moulds in the mind ; the impressions received 
through the senses are cast into these moulds, and 
the forms thus given to them constitute our thoughts 
of things. Our knowledge of objects is, accordingly, 
a union of what is given through the senses and of 
what is added thereto by the understanding. 

The categories are applicable only to phenomena, 
not to objects not given in sensation. If applied to 
something not given in experience, as God, freedom, 
immortality, the mind simply reasons without an 
object. It may have conceptions which are perfectly 
consistent ; but that is no evidence that any real 
existence corresponds with them. By means of its 
spontaneous activity the mind cannot discover an 
object existing outside of the mind. Kant s conclusion 
on this subject is : " Sensation, as subjected to the 
understanding, and as the object to which the under 
standing applies all its powers, is the source of all 
real knowledge." But while the understanding thus 
deals with real knowledge only when it limits itself to 
the objects furnished by sensation, it, on the other 
hand, prescribes the laws according to which we obtain 
a knowledge of objects. In his Preface to the second 
edition of the " Kritik," Kant says, " Until now it was 
thought that all our cognition must adapt itself to the 
objects ; but, under this supposition, all attempts to 


determine anything respecting them, by means of con 
ceptions through which our knowledge would be 
enlarged, proved to be a failure. Let it, therefore, be 
tried whether we shall not get along better with the 
problems of metaphysics, if we suppose that the 
objects must adapt themselves to our cognition, a 
supposition which harmonizes better with the demanded 
possibility of an a priori cognition of the same, which 
cognition is to determine something respecting the 
objects before they are presented to us. This is 
somewhat similar to the first thought of Copernicus, 
who, when he found that there was no satisfactory 
explanation of the movement of the heavenly bodies 
if he took it for granted that the whole heavenly host 
revolved around the observer, attempted to discover 
whether he would not be more successful if the observer 
was supposed to turn, while the stars remained at 
rest." Kant made a revolution in metaphysics similar 
to that made by Copernicus in astronomy : he made 
the objects of knowledge conform to the laws of the 
mind, instead of obliging the mind to draw its laws 
from the objects. 

While by means of sensation we receive impressions 
from objects, or have perceptions ; and while the 
understanding furnishes the conditions for connecting 
the perceptions, thus giving us thoughts or conceptions; 
Kant ascribes to the imagination the office of furnishing 
a picture or schema for a conception. But in the 
" Kritik " the function of the reason is of special 
importance. It is the faculty for ideas, using the word 
" idea " in the Platonic sense. Thus we have an idea of 
freedom, of virtue, of government, with which nothing 
known to us corresponds. The ideas area priori, being 


the direct product of the reason ; they are perfect types 
or archetypes ; they are great principles, which are 
not fictions, but necessary products of the reason ; and 
they transcend all experience, in which no object can 
be given which is an adequate representation or em 
bodiment of the idea. This, of course, does not imply 
that there is no such an object, and Kant guardedly 
says, " We have no knowledge of an object which 
corresponds with the idea ;" and he repeatedly warns 
against the conclusion that the limit of our knowledge 
is also the limit of existence. The principles given in 
the reason apply directly to the laws of the under 
standing, but not to the phenomena given in 

The charge of Idealism has repeatedly been made 
against Kant s philosophy. This has been based on 
his view of time and space as subjective conditions of 
knowledge, on his doctrine that knowledge must con 
form to the laws given a priori by the understanding, 
and to his conclusion that we can get only impressions 
from tilings, of which we can know nothing but their 
phenomena. According to the " Kritik," we cannot 
possibly know what is back of the phenomena, namely, 
the thing per se (das Ding an sich). Long before 
Fichte developed his Idealism from Kantian principles, 
there were persons who interpreted these views as 
idealistic. Kant, however, promptly met this charge in 
his " Prolegomena." There he defines Idealism as the 
system which asserts that there are only thinking 
beings, and that all other things which we imagine we 
perceive, are only appearances in the thinking being, 
with which nothing external to the mind corresponds. 
In opposition to this view, Kant says, " I, however, say, 


things which are objects outside of us are given to our 
senses; of what they are in themselves we, however, 
know nothing, but we know only their appearances, 
that is, the representations which they produce in us by 
affecting our senses. Therefore I, of course, admit 
that there are bodies external to us, that is, things 
respecting which it is altogether unknown to us what 
they are in themselves, which we know only by means 
of the representations of them produced by their 
influence on our senses, and to which we give the name 
body, a word which therefore signifies for us only the 
representation of an unknown but, nevertheless, real 
object. Can this be called Idealism ? It is, in fact, 
the very opposite." Kant, however, admits that his 
philosophy is Idealism in another sense, namely, in that 
it teaches that our minds deal only with phenomena, 
with the representations of things, but never with 
things themselves. If the theory which changes real 
things into mere representations is an objectionable 
Idealism, what shall we, on the other hand, call that 
theory which changes mere representations into things 
themselves ? Kant s answer is, " I think it might be 
called a dreaming Idealism, in distinction from the 
former, which might be called the fanatical one, both 
of which I wanted to avoid by means of my so-called 
Transcendental, or better, Critical Idealism." 

Kant therefore does not deny the existence of a 
world outside of us ; but as in a mirror we see only 
reflections of ourselves, and not ourselves ; so in our 
minds we have only reflections of objects, not the 
objects themselves. That we have no power of know 
ing what things are in themselves, is one of the clearest 
results of the " Kritik," and is stated with a frequency 


and with an emphasis which leave no room for doubt 
as to his meaning. Experience is the absolute limit 
of knowledge, and in his Preface to the second edition 
of the " Kritik " he says that the first use of the book 
is to teach us never to venture beyond the limits of 
experience with our speculative reason, since all that 
lies beyond these limits also lies beyond the province 
of reason. But since in experience we have only 
phenomena as objects of knowledge, it is evident 
that beyond these we can know nothing of things. 

Kant does not merely destroy all hope of obtaining 
a knowledge of things per se, he also destroys all 
hope of gaining, by means of the speculative reason, 
any knowledge of God, the soul, freedom, and immor 
tality. We have already seen the intimate union of 
the speculative and the practical interests in Kant, 
and that he gave to the latter the preference. It was 
a practical interest which gave the impulse to his pro 
found speculations, and he says in the " Kritik," 
"The ideas of God, freedom, and immortality, are 
the proper objects for the investigation of metaphysics. 
Everything else with which this science is occupied 
serves only as means for the attainment of these ideas 
and a knowledge of their objective reality." But the 
" Kritik," instead of establishing the reality of these 
objects by means of speculation, shows that the 
speculative reason can learn nothing respecting them. 

In discussing the sentence, " I think," Kant shows 
that all it implies or teaches is that I exist thinking ; 
it does not teach us what the Ego in itself is. We 
know absolutely nothing respecting the nature of the 
soul ; and if the materialistic explanation is unsatis 
factory, so is the spiritualistic. But if the nature of 


the soul is a mystery to us, how can we know any 
thing respecting its immortality ? It cannot be proved 
that the soul is a simple substance, and that, con 
sequently, it cannot be disintegrated, and cannot 
decrease or vanish altogether, but must exist for ever. 
Theoretical knowledge, according to Kant, is that 
which knoAvs that a thing is ; practical knowledge, on 
the other hand, is that which represents what a thing 
ought to be. By means of the theoretical use of reason 
we learn a priori that something is ; through its 
practical use we learn a priori what ought to be done. 
Theoretical knowledge is speculative whenever its 
object is such that it cannot be given in experience, or 
whenever it deals with mere conceptions of such an 
object. It is the very opposite of a knowledge of 
nature, which deals with objects given in experience, 
or with their predicates. Kant asserts that the purely 
speculative use of reason in theology is utterly worth 
less, and that in an a priori way the existence of God 
cannot be proved. And after repeatedly showing 
that we cannot know substances, but only phenomena 
and their laws, he proceeds to subject the speculative 
proofs of God s existence to searching criticism. These 
are of three kinds, ontological, cosmological, and 
physico-theological. Under whatever form the onto 
logical argument may be presented, the inference that 
God exists is always drawn from the very idea of God; 
but in no case can a mere idea demonstrate the 
existence of an object corresponding with the idea. 
The reason may find it necessary to adopt such an 
idea for the explanation of things ; this, however, is a 
mere hypothesis. To predicate the real existence of 
a corresponding object, is a synthetic judgment, which 


would be valid only if the object were given in ex 
perience. The idea of God may be perfect ; but, Kant 
says, the conception of a hundred thalers may also be 
perfect, and yet the mere conception of so much 
money does not make a man any richer, neither does 
the mere idea of God in the least enlarge our know 
ledge of what really exists. 

The cosmological proof differs from the ontological 
in this respect, that the latter is purely speculative, 
while the former begins with experience but ends 
speculatively. The cosmological argument is that 
every change must have a cause; if now we con 
tinually proceed from effect to cause, we shall have an 
endless series of the conditioned. From the con 
ditioned the inference is drawn that there must be an 
unconditioned which conditions everything else, an 
uncaused cause of all that is caused. Yet even if it 
is admitted that the mind is obliged to postulate an 
ultimate cause and an unconditioned something for 
the explanation of things, that is no proof of the real 
existence of such a cause. The argument is really onto 
logical, since from the mere idea the necessary objective 
reality is inferred. The idea of a first cause is one to 
which thought is driven as a refuge ; but whether it is 
a real or an imaginary necessity for our thoughts, it 
does not demonstrate the existence of such a cause. 

The physico-theological proof is the argument from 
design. The beauty and order in nature, the work 
ing or tendency towards certain ends, are regarded as 
evidence that there must have been an intelligent 
designer, just as from the existence of a house we 
infer that it had an architect. Kant, however, says 
that in order to prove that nature had such a designer, 


it would be necessary to prove that things per se 
(substances, of which we know nothing) cannot work 
so beautifully and harmoniously, unless they are the 
product of the highest wisdom. As the cosmological 
argument was seen to rest on the ontological, so Kant 
shows that the physico-theological rests on both the 
cosmological and the ontological. According to the 
physico-theological argument, the inference is drawn 
from the beauty and order of the universe that they must 
have an adequate cause. This cause is supposed to be 
a Being who possesses all perfections. By analyzing 
the argument, however, we find that it amounts to this : 
the beauty and order seen in nature are effects ; these 
effects have an adequate first cause which is perfect 
and unconditioned (cosmological argument) ; and 
because I am obliged to conceive such a cause in order 
to explain phenomena, therefore an object correspond 
ing with this idea of a first cause also exists (onto 
logical argument). As both the ontological and the 
cosmological proof have been found unsatisfactory, of 
course the physico-theological one, which rests on them, 
is also invalid. But even if it could be proved that 
the substances, the things per se, cannot of themselves 
work beautifully and harmoniously, that would not 
prove the existence of an all-wise and almighty Being. 
It would only prove that there is an Architect of the 
universe, whose power is limited by the nature of the 
material he uses, but it would not demonstrate the 
existence of a Creator to whom everything is subject. 
In order to prove that such a Creator exists, it would 
be necessary to demonstrate that matter itself is 

Already in discussing the antinomies of pure reason, 


Kant head come to a conclusion similar to that attained 
by testing the arguments for God s existence. On the 
following points, he says, we can determine nothing 
speculatively, " Whether the world had a beginning 
and is limited in space ; whether anywhere, and 
perhaps in my thinking self, there is an indivisible 
and indestructible unity, or nothing but what is 
divisible and destructible ; whether I am free in my 
actions, or, like other beings, am controlled by nature 
and destiny; finally, whether there is a highest cause 
of the world, or whether the things in nature, and 
their order, are the ultimate objects with which our 
contemplations must stop." 

After his demonstration that speculatively we can 
not demonstrate the existence of God, Kant shows 
that it is equally impossible to prove that there is no 
God. " The same arguments which prove the impo 
tence of the human reason with respect to the esta 
blishment of the existence of the highest Being, also 
suffice to prove the insufficiency of all assertions 
against this existence. For whence will one, by means 
of pure speculative reason, obtain the knowledge that 
there is not a highest Being as the source of all 
things ? " 

While in the dogmatic systems there are rational 
psychology, rational cosmology, and rational theology, 
which presuppose that the soul, the cosmos, and God, 
are not mere ideas, but real objects which can be 
treated as subjects of rational knowledge, Kant shows 
that they are mere ideas of the reason, and that it is 
impossible to determine speculatively whether a real 
object corresponds with them. No corresponding 
object being given in experience, the speculative 



reason must treat them as mere ideas, and a rational 
science of psychology, cosmology, and theology, is 

This conclusion was by no means new. The same 
result was attained by Hume; and Thomasius and 
others had declared that the objects of religion are 
matters of faith and cannot be demonstrated. But 
in the metaphysics of the day they were generally 
treated as either self-evident or demonstrable, or both, 
and on this supposition elaborate speculative systems 
were built. Kant not only proved that, as far as 
speculative knowledge is concerned, these systems 
are baseless fabrications, but he proved it so rigor 
ously, with such mathematical definiteness and con- 
clusiveness, and so often, that, if his premises are 
admitted, there is no escape from the conviction that 
the matter is finally settled. His thorough criticism 
destroyed the dogmatism of metaphysicians on these 

If now metaphysic deals with God, freedom, and 
immortality, then it is evident from the " Kritik " that 
this science must be a failure, since this work proves 
that, speculatively, we can know nothing about them. 
Every argument in favour of their existence is met 
by an equally valid one against it. We can know 
nothing except mathematics and what is given in 
experience ; that is, we can know phenomena and 
their laws, but besides and behind them absolutely 
nothing. In the " Prolegomena " the following is given 
as the result of the whole " Kritik :" " That our rea 
son, by means of all its principles, never teaches us any 
thing a priori except objects of possible experience, 
and even of these nothing except what can be known 


in experience." Since the substance is altogether 
beyond the reach of our minds, our knowledge is 
doomed to move in a world of mere appearances. 

The tendency of the " Kritik " is to humble man 
greatly, to check wild speculations in metaphysics, and 
to concentrate the attention of philosophers on the 
things which are within the reach of knowledge. If 
the supersensible lies beyond the limits of reason, 
then more attention will, naturally, be paid to the 
positive sciences. There is no doubt that, instead of 
promoting idealism or even metaphysics, the " Kritik " 
is rather calculated to promote the study of the 
natural sciences and mathematics, and that the Critical 
Philosophy, in this respect, ends where Bacon began. 

However, what Kant takes with one hand he gives 
back again with the other ; for what he denies to 
the speculative reason, he vindicates as the sphere 
of the practical reason. While, on the one hand, the 
" Kritik " is negative and destructive in its results, it is, 
on the other, positive and constructive. Kant believes 
it necessary for man to elevate himself above the 
sensible, and he thinks that something must neces 
sarily be jioxtulatcd as absolute and infinite, and as the 
cause of all finite things. We cannot understand 
what or how this is ; therefore it is not an object of 
science, and it is not, strictly speaking, knowledge ; 
but it is a necessary, though inexplicable, presupposi 
tion. Where the speculative reason is impotent, 
there the practical reason prescribes laws which arc 
absolute, and these are based on the supposition of 
the existence of God and freedom. The practical 
reason does not, indeed, give any speculative know 
ledge, nor knowledge which can be used speculatively ; 

r i! 


its domain is purely practical ; nevertheless, its postu 
lates are sucli as to give a basis on which moral faith 
can rest ; and for all practical purposes this basis is 

Kant does not regard it as a serious loss that it has 
been proved that by means of speculation we can 
know nothing of God and freedom and immortality. 
On ordinary minds the speculative arguments never 
had any influence. There are still arguments left 
which can be used and which give us moral certainty. 
Reason finds it necessary to accept the law that in 
animals no organ, no power, no impulse is in vain, 
but that everything is perfectly adapted to some pur 
pose. Can it be that man is the only exception to 
this law ? In him we find talents, impulses, and par 
ticularly a conscience, which are not merely adapted 
to use in this life, but which often lead a man to deny 
himself here with a view of fitting himself the better 
to become a citizen of another world ; in other words, 
Kant recognizes in man faculties which do not have 
full scope for exercise here, which are adapted to 
another sphere, and which point to something beyond 
this life. If means are adapted to ends, as we are 
firmly convinced that they must be, then these powers 
within us, and the consciousness of a certain limit- 
lessness of the possible increase of our knowledge, and 
the impulse to seek this increase, remain as incontro 
vertible arguments in favour of immortality, in spite 
of the fact that we can neither comprehend its nature, 
nor give a speculative demonstration that we are 

Kant declares that we do not need a knowledge of 
the existence of God, of freedom, and of immortality ; 


yet they are urged on us by our reason, which has a 
presentiment of them and a deep interest in them, and 
which enters on a course of speculation to discover 
them, though they constantly flee from it. This 
proves that reason is constituted with reference to 
these objects, and they are the problems of what may 
be called pure philosophy. Hence if the speculative 
reason cannot discover them, they must belong to the 
province of the practical reason. As our faculties 
point to immortality, so all moral laws point to free 
dom and to God. If there is no freedom, then there 
is no morality ; if there is no God, then virtue, which 
deserves a happiness which it does not receive here, 
is deceived, since there will be no one to give it, in 
another life, the happiness which it merits. Repeatedly 
and emphatically, Kant shows that, practically, we 
must believe in God, freedom, and the immortality of 
the soul, and that if these are fictions, then our 
nature is so constituted as to deceive us. Ho is 
anxious to check empiricism, as well as speculation, 
in their denial of the basis of religion and morality ; 
and he shows that they become dogmatic and trans 
cend the limits of reason whenever they deny the 
existence of objects beyond experience. And so 
anxious is he to secure a place for morality and faith, 
that he says, in the Preface to the second edition of 
the " Kritik," " I was obliged to destroy knowledge, 
in order to make room for faith." And while he 
destroys the useless speculations which try to prove 
the existence of objects not given in experience, he 
also expects the " Kritik " to destroy the roots of 
materialism, fatalism, atheism, pernicious scepticism, 
anaticism, superstition, and idealism. 


Although Kant s moral and religious views are con 
sidered in the next chapter, it is necessary to give 
their basis in the " Kritik " more fully than is done 
in the preceding general outline. He thinks that in 
giving to our reason the character it possesses, the 
aim was moral, not speculative. The three problems 
of God, of freedom, and of immortality, have this 
peculiar significance, that they show us what is to Ic 
done if the will is free, if there is a God, and if the 
soul is immortal. That the will is free, is a matter of 
experience; it may, consequently, without anything 
further, be regarded as settled. ( 12 ) The problems 
which therefore remain are : "Is there a God ? Is 
there a future life ? " 

The three questions on which the interest of the 
speculative as well as the practical reason is con 
centrated are the following : " What can I know ? 
What ought I to do? What may I hope?" The 
first is purely speculative, and Kant thinks that he 
has exhausted all possible answers to this question. 
The second is purely moral, and may belong to pure 
reason; but as it is not transcendental, it does not 
belong to the " Kritik." The third question may be 
put in this form, " If I do what I ought, what may 
I hope ? " It is practical since it deals with conduct, 
and theoretical since it concludes that something 
exists because certain things ought to be done, some 
thing which determines the ultimate aim of conduct. 
This is therefore a question which can properly be 
considered in the " Kritik." 

There are purely moral laws which determine 
d priori what ought to be done ; and their commands 
are absolute, without regard to empirical motives, such 


as happiness. The moral judgment of every person 
acknowledges this imperative. There must there 
fore be possible a system of what ought to be done, 
and the principles of the pure reason which determine 
this have an objective reality in their practical and 
moral application. The answer to the question, 
"What ought I to do?" is this, "Do that which will 
make you worthy of being happy." The question then 
arises, " If by means of my conduct I am made 
worthy of being happy, shall I attain the happiness 
which I deserve ? In the exercise of its theoretical as 
well as practical functions, reason presupposes that 
every one has a right to expect that degree of happi 
ness of which he has made himself worthy by his con 
duct. Therefore the ideas of morality and happiness 
are inseparably connected in pure reason. But after 
we have done the utmost to make ourselves worthy of 
happiness, we cannot expect this happiness itself to 
result from the nature of things, nor from the conduct 
itself; how then can we account for this ceaseless 
striving to become worthy of happiness ? If there is 
nothing but nature, then reason cannot answer this 
question. This harmony between morality and happi 
ness can be hoped for only if a highest reason, which 
rules according to moral law, is taken as the basis of 
nature. " I call the idea of such an intelligence, in 
which the morally perfect will is connected with the 
greatest happiness, and which is the source of all 
happiness in the world, so far as it is exactly propor 
tioned to morality (the worthiness of being happy), 
thr ideal of the highest good." It is only in this ideal 
that the pure reason can find the practically necessary 
union between morality and happiness. Now it. is 


evident that in this world happiness is not propor 
tioned to worthiness ; therefore we must believe in the 
existence of another world for the consummation of 
this harmony. Kant therefore draws the conclusion, 
that obligation as the principle of conduct, to which 
the reason subjects us, presupposes two things, namely, 
the existence of God and a future life. For, unless 
there is a God as the wise author and governor of 
the universe, there cannot possibly be the required 
harmony between morality and happiness. If there is 
no such a Being and no future life, for the compensa 
tion of virtue, then the moral laws must be regarded 
as empty phantoms, since the consequences, which 
are implied in obedience to these laws, do not follow. 
The moral laws, which are universally regarded as 
commands, cannot be such commands if they do not 
d priori connect with their rules proportionate results, 
and attach to them promises and threats ; but they 
cannot attach these unless the source of the laws is a 
Being which is the Highest Good, for only this Being 
can fulfil the promises and execute the threats. If 
we suppose that there is no God and no future life, 
then the ideas of morality are, indeed, objects of 
approval, but they are not motives for resolutions and 
for the execution of the resolutions, because they do 
not fulfil the purpose which is natural to every rational 
being, and which is ordained d priori and made neces 
sary by the pure reason. 

Neither happiness alone, nor morality alone, but 
both together, the one exactly proportioned to the 
other, constitute the highest good. But we must be 
careful not to pervert their relation to each other. The 
moral disposition is the condition for being made par- 


taker of happiness ; but the prospect of happiness is not 
to be made the ground of a good disposition. If the 
latter were done, then the disposition would not be 
moral, and consequently it would not be worthy of 

This is an outline of the Kantian basis of a moral 
theology, which lie places immeasurably above the 
speculative, since it necessarily leads to the idea of 
a perfect and rational Being as the author of all 
things. This Being must be one ; for how could we 
find a unity of purpose in different wills? This 
supreme Will must be almighty, in order that nature 
and its relations may be subject to it ; it must be omni 
scient, in order that it may know the innermost pur 
poses of man and their moral worth ; it must be omni 
present, in order that it may be present to meet all the 
necessities required by the greatest welfare of the 
world ; and it must be eternal, in order that at no 
time there may be a failure to harmonize nature and 
freedom, worthiness and happiness. The ideas thus 
practically gained by reason necessarily lead to the 
conclusion that there is a unity of purpose in all things. 
The world must be viewed as having sprung from one 
idea, if we are to regard it as in harmony with the 
moral use of reason. Accordingly, purpose is demanded 
in nature ; and all investigation of nature receives a 
tendency towards a system of means adapted to ends, 
and in its highest development becomes physico- 

We thus find that for our highest interests the 
practical reason furnishes what the speculative cannot 
supply, but can at best only imagine. While the prac 
tical reason cannot make this a demonstrated dogma, it 


absolutely demands it as a condition for its highest 
purposes. Kant is extremely guarded in the use he 
makes of the conclusions thus drawn from the practical 
reason. He does not regard moral acts as obligatory 
because they are God s commands ; but he regards 
them as God s commands because they are subjectively 
obligatory. Kant does not deduce the moral law from 
the existence of God ; but the existence of God is 
deduced from the existence of the moral law. Moral 
theology is to be used for practical purposes only, 
namely, to enable us to fulfil our destiny in this world ; 
and it is an abuse to use for speculative purposes the 
results obtained practically. We therefore still have 
every reason to be very modest. There are three 
stages in our convictions, namely, opinions, faith, and 
knowledge. The practical reason gives us only faith, 
not dogmas which can be regarded as demonstrated ; 
but this faith may be so strong as to give its possessor 
the conviction of certainty. This certainty is not 
logical, but moral. Kant says, " No one can boast 
that he knows that there is a God and a future life ; for 
if he knows it, he is just the man whom I have long 
been seeking. All knowledge (if it is an object of 
pure reason) can be communicated, and I should hope 
to see my knowledge wonderfully increased by his in 
struction. No, the conviction is not loyical, but moral 
certainty ; and as it rests on subjective grounds, 
namely, on the moral disposition, I must not even say, 
It is morally certain that there is a God, et cetera, but 
I am morally certain that this is the case." 

Kant thus comes to the conclusion that the highest 
philosophy cannot determine more respecting the 
essential purposes of human nature than to attain that 


guidance which it is also the privilege of the ordinary 
understanding to attain. 

In his " Kritik," Kant did not aim to give a system 
of metaph} T sics. This he says plainly in the Preface of 
the second edition, and in a letter to Mendelssohn he 
states that it was the aim of the " Kritik " to inves 
tigate the ground on which the superstructure of 
metaphysic was to be built. So far is Kant from 
believing that he gave the system itself in the book, 
that two years after it appeared he discussed the ques 
tion whether metaphysic is possible, and declared that 
the conditions for producing a system had never yet 
been complied with, and states plainly that as yet there 
is no metaphysics. In the " Kritik " he gave the propae 
deutics to the system, while in the works following it 
he aimed to give metaphysics itself. Fichte, Schelling, 
Hegel, and also others attempted to give the system. 

Kant, aware of the difficulty of understanding the 
book, determined, immediately after the appearance of 
the " Kritik," and before the public had time to give a 
verdict, to prepare a popular abstract of the work, so 
as to make its results accessible to a larger class of 
readers. lie immediately began the preparation of this 
abstract, and he expected to have it ready for the press 
in the spring of 1782, but it appeared a year later, 
under the title, " Prolegomena to every Future Meta 
physic which can appear as a Science." ( l:>1 ) 

While the "Kritik" is the masterpiece of Kant, 
there are important works which followed the " Prole 
gomena," works which are interesting for their own 
sake, as well as on account of their relation to the 
"Kritik" and the application of its ideas. In 1780 
he published his " Metaphysical Principles of Natural 


Science," in which he discusses the laws of the pheno 
mena of matter. The " Kritik " had shown that we 
can know nothing but phenomena ; applying this to 
nature, we can, of course, understand only the mani 
festations of matter, not substances. In this book on 
Natural Science, Kant discusses the principles of 
motion, applying to them the four categories, quantity, 
quality, relation, and mode, and considers the subjects, 
phoronomics, dynamics, mechanics, and phenome 
nology. The book is only a kind of propaedeutics to 
a metaphysical system of natural science. 

According to the results of the " Kritik," the under 
standing gives the forms of all knowledge, and this 
knowledge deals only with phenomena. This limits 
our knowledge to nature, and a metaphysic of nature, 
if complete, would embrace the whole domain of the 
knowable. Man would thus be treated as also a pro 
duct of nature. But the " Kritik" had also shown that 
we have moral interests, the principles of which are 
given d priori, they being the product of pure reason. 
While, therefore, the understanding deals with nature, 
the reason deals with morals. In the " Critique of the 
Practical Reason," and in his other works on morals and 
religion, Kant embodied what he regarded as the prin 
ciples of reason respecting our conduct. But in thus 
giving the principles of nature and of morals he did 
not yet complete his work. One more critique was 
necessary, namely, the cc Critique of the Judgment." ( 122 ) 

The reason is the faculty which gives principles 
d priori. These principles are regulative, not constitu 
tive. The understanding, on the other hand, gives 
categories a priori, which are the laws for all pheno 
mena. Whatever speculative notions are not included 


under these laws of the understanding, are ideas 
(such as soul, God, freedom) which belong to the 
reason. Since we cannot prove that any reality 
corresponds with these ideas, they are, as Kant says, 
not constitutive; but they are regulative ideas, being 
guides to us in our investigation and practice. Thus 
by means of these regulative principles, the under 
standing is checked in its assumption that it has 
included all things in its categories, and it is also 
guided in its contemplations of nature to proceed 
according to a perfect principle. 

Kant divides the faculties of the soul as follows : the 
faculty of knowledge ; that of the emotions of pleasure 
and displeasure ; and the appetitive faculty ; or into 
intellect, susceptibility, and will. The intellect he 
divides into understanding, judgment, and reason. 
From the understanding proceed the laws for nature, 
from the reason the laws for freedom ; the former is 
theoretical, the latter is practical. Here, then, we have 
the reason and the understanding strictly separated, 
each having its domain where it is supreme, the reason 
in determining free conduct, and the understanding 
in giving the laws of nature. How can they be united ? 

According to Kant, the judgment mediates between 
the understanding and the reason, between nature and 
freedom, between the sensible and the supersensible, all 
of which were shown by the " Kritik " to be sharply 
separated. The judgment is based on the idea that 
there is design in nature. This design, while in nature, 
is nevertheless a principle of freedom, and is, accord 
ingly, a union of nature and of freedom, or of the 
understanding, which gives laws to nature, and of the 
reason, which gives laws to freedom. It is the 


judgment which discovers design in nature. This 
design is twofold ; it is viewed as applying only to 
ourselves, namely, as producing in us pleasure or dis 
pleasure, and the judgment deals with design in this 
sense under the head of taste ; or design is in things 
themselves, and then it must be teleological, having re 
ference to the Author of the design. In the " Critique 
of the Judgment " there are therefore two parts, the 
first discussing the aesthetic judgment, the second the 
teleological. It is the former which chiefly interests 
us, which has also had the greatest influence on litera 
ture. Kant s view of art is found mainly in this book. 

What is the beautiful ? It is that whose very contem 
plation pleases us ; its very form gives pleasure. There 
are three kinds of pleasure, the first derived from the 
agreeable, the second from the beautiful, and the third 
from the good ; but it is only in the case of the beautiful 
that the mere contemplation gives pleasure. The hun 
gry man is not satisfied with a mere thought or the sight 
of a feast, nor the moral man with a mere representation 
of the good ; in each case the thing itself is desired, the 
one to be eaten, the other to be done. But the aesthetic 
taste is satisfied with the mere representation of a beau 
tiful object and with its contemplation; the appropriation 
of the object, or its use in any sense, is foreign to this 
taste. It is not use, nor appropriation, nor knowledge, 
which is the essence of the aesthetic ; but it is a pleasure 
which springs solely from the contemplation of an 
object. In aesthetics, therefore, we have a purely dis 
interested emotion. C 3 ) 

Kant does not discuss beauty in objects, but only 
the impression which it makes on the soul, or the 
emotion of the beautiful. He calls the agreeable, that 

BEAUT V. 3(K> 

which gratifies; the beautiful, that which pleases ; the 
good, that which one approves. The agreeable is for 
irrational animals as well as for man ; the good is for all 
rational beings ; the beautiful is only for beings both 
animal and rational, that is, it is for man. The beau 
tiful is, therefore, peculiarly human. 

"Beauty in nature is a beautiful object; beauty in 
art is a beautiful representation of an object." It is 
the aim of the beautiful arts to produce beauty which 
pleases of itself, without reflection and without use. 
As has already been stated, it is only in art that Kant 
admits any genius, and he says, " Beautiful art is the 
art of genius." A Newton produces a system which 
another can master and reproduce in his own mind 
we can think his thoughts after him ; but Homer cannot 
be imitated. " Genius is the talent, or gift of nature, 
which gives to art its law." 

A production may be according to rules, and yet 
lack spirit. There are poems, histories, conversations, 
which are correct and instructive, but they lack spirit, 
the very thing which is the living element and the soul 
of a production. What is this spirit ? It is simply 
the ability to represent aesthetic ideas. By an 
aesthetic idea Kant means that product of the ima 
gination which inspires thought, although it cannot 
itself be definitely given in thought, hence language 
can never adequately represent it. AVe may say, 
therefore, that Kant means by the spirit of a pro 
duction, the symbols of thought embodied in it, but 
not fully expressed ; it is the suggestive element in a 
production. The elements necessary for the production 
of tlir line arts are the imagination, spirit, and taste. 

The times were favourable for giving this book an 


influence in literature. Through Baumgarten, Lessing, 
Winckelman, and others, a new impulse had been 
given to the study of aesthetics, and Kant aimed to 
give the essence of the whole matter in this 
book. Schiller was much indebted to this " Critique 
of the Judgment," and he modified and used its prin 
cipal thoughts in his " ^Esthetic Letters " and other 
writings, just as he embodied many of Kant s moral 
ideas in his poetry. Goethe read Kant s works much 
less than Schiller, but he thought highly of this book. 
His criticism of it is, that it " discusses rhetoric 
admirably, and poetry tolerably well, but the plastic 
arts inadequately." 

The last book written by Kant appeared in 1 798, 
and discussed the conflict for supremacy between the 
different faculties in the universities. It is particularly 
interesting on account of its views of religion, and 
the references to his health ; and frequent use has been 
made of it in this biography. This, however, did not 
end his efforts at authorship. Till near the end of 
his life he worked on a manuscript which has a 
melancholy interest for us. After completing various 
other literary plans, he was anxious to give a fitting 
close to his philosophy by the publication of still 
another work. As early as 1795 his friend Kiesewetter 
wrote to him from Berlin, complaining that the last 
catalogues contained no announcement of books by 
him, and adds, " For several years you have intended 
to give the public a number of sheets on the transition 
from your * Metaphysical Principles of Natural Science 
to physics." In 1798 Kant wrote to his friend, " My 
health is that of an old man who is not sick, never 
theless is an invalid who has become unfit for public 


official duties, but is still conscious of a small measure 
of strength to complete a work on which he is now 
engaged, with which he expects to complete the 
Critical undertaking and to fill up a still remaining gap, 
namely, " The Transition from the Metaphysical Prin 
ciples of Natural Science to Physics," as a separate 
part of natural philosophy which must not be omitted 
in the system." 

From Ilasse ( 1J4 ) we learn that for some years Kant 
worked on this manuscript, that its title was to be, 
" The system of Pure Philosophy according to its com 
plete idea," and that in it he discussed philosophy, God, 
freedom, and especially the transition from physics to 
metaphysics. This friend of Kant says of the manu 
script, " Kant was accustomed to speak confidentially 
of this as his principal work, his chef-d oeuvre, and 
to say that it was to complete his system, that it was 
already finished, and needed only revision." Jach- 
mann states, "Kant was accustomed to speak with 
genuine inspiration to me about his last book, which 
was, he declared, to be the keystone of his entire 
system, and would establish the validity and applica 
bility of his philosophy." While he sometimes spoke 
of the manuscript as so far completed as to need 
only "the last file," at others he had his doubts about 
the matter and expressed the wish that it should be 
burnt after his death. 

Kant adopted the old Greek division of philosophy 
into the three sciences, physics, ethics, and logic. The 
last is pure formal philosophy, since it deals merely 
with the forms or the necessary and universal laws 
of thought. The other two, physics and ethics, may 
be called material philosophy, since they deal with 


objects and their laws. The objects of which material 
philosophy treats, are nature and freedom, the science 
of the former being physics, of the latter, ethics. 
There are, however, both in nature and in freedom, 
two kinds of elements, namely, the a priori and the 
a posteriori^ the rational and the empirical ; therefore, 
we have both rational and empirical physics and morals. 

Kant deals with the rational elements of science, 
his aim being to put them on an immovable basis ; he 
discusses pure, not applied philosophy. Pure philo 
sophy rests solely on a priori principles, and has no 
empirical elements. Pure formal philosophy is logic. 
But if pure philosophy deals with objects, and not 
merely with forms of thought, it is called metaphysics. 
These objects being those of nature and of freedom, we 
have a metaphysic of nature and a metaphysic of 
morals, in both of which there is simply a discussion 
of a priori principles. In order that there may be a 
complete system of metaphysics, it is necessary to have 
in it a system of nature based on a priori principles, 
and a system of morals also based on a priori principles. 
The latter Kant gave in his works on morals, but for 
the former he gave only the propaedeutics in his 
" Metaphysical Principles of Natural Science." The 
last manuscript was, no doubt, intended to be the 
science of nature based on a priori principles, for which 
this book was the preparation. 

After the death of Kant, the manuscript was found 
among his papers, and was carefully examined with a 
view to its publication, but it was found that there Avas 
so much confusion in the thoughts that it was alto 
gether unfit to appear in print. Hasse says, " The 
idea of philosophy seems to have caused the sublime 


thinker much trouble, since the subject was so often 
crossed out and worked over." After this examination 
the manuscript was lost sight of for a long time ; then 
Schubert saw it in Berlin and examined it, but did not 
have access to it long enough to describe it fully. It 
disappeared again, and all trace of it was lost until re 
cently, when a description of it was sent to Dr. Reicke, 
of Konigsberg.( 125 ) From this description we learn that, 
in the beginning of this manuscript, Kant made great 
efforts to define transcendental philosophy and to give 
the objects of which it treats. " That definition is 
attempted several hundred times, at least, and the 
following are mentioned as its objects, God, the world, 
and man in the world." It bears this title, " The 
Transition from the Metaphysical Principles of Natural 
Science to Physics." There are one hundred sheets, 
most of them written quite legibly and without 
abbreviations. Besides the definitions of transcendental 
philosophy, the manuscript treats chiefly of subjects 
pertaining to physics. In different parts the same 
subjects are treated, Kant evidently having forgotten 
that he had already discussed them. Many subjects 
are begun, but nothing is completed ; the same thought 
is frequently repeated ; there are laborious efforts to 
produce system, but, instead, there is hopeless con 
fusion and a strange mixture of thoughts. Instead of 
continuing the discussion of the subject under con 
sideration, Kant seems at times to have written what 
ever stray thought happened to be in his mind ; and on 
the margin and between the lines there are all kinds 
of miscellaneous remarks and domestic memoranda. 
In one place he wrote that henceforth the day of prayer 
ought to be called a day of repentance, and that re- 


pentance should not consist in asking for forgiveness, 
but in making restitution. 

The manuscript gives an insight into the state of 
Kant s mind and the character of his intellectual occu 
pations towards the close of his life. In his plans and 
in his subjects we find him intellectually great to the 
last. He still attempted to solve the great mysteries 
of mind and nature, and his thoughts continued to 
move in the sphere to which he had given his best 
energies for over half a century; but he could no 
longer concentrate his attention steadily on any subject. 
He was not able to develop a thought fully, and, still 
less, to unite the different thoughts into a system ; and 
his memory was too weak to remember what he had 
already written. Repeatedly he attempts to wrestle 
with the profoundest problems of the human intellect, 
but is baffled in every effort at solution. The contrast 
between the grand plan and the feeble execution is as 
striking as it is sad. That the author of the " Kritik " 
could at any time imagine that this jumble needed 
only revision in order to make it ready for the press, 
shows how completely the great mind had lost its 

His efforts to define transcendental philosophy are 
found at the beginning of the manuscript, and were, 
no doubt, made before his mind had lost the power of 
consecutive thought. While he had lost much of his 
former vigour, it is, nevertheless, an evidence of the 
extreme difficulty of the subject that, after devoting 
so many years to metaphysics and after writing the 
" Kritik," he should have made hundreds of: futile 
attempts to define transcendental philosophy. Did he 
change his former views of the whole subject ? He 


seems, also, to have bad difficulty in determining the 
objects with which metaphysics deals, though he 
formerly thought that this had been settled by the 
" Kritik." God, nature, and man, are mentioned as 
these objects ; but, unfortunately, we do not know how 
the great metaphysician at last viewed the whole 
matter. What might not have been accomplished if, 
with his powers unimpaired, he had been able to carry 
out his plan to give a complete system of pure philo 
sophy ! Then we should have had the " Kritik " as 
the propa3deutics to the system, while his works on 
morals, and the work to which he devoted his last 
labours, would have given the system itself, 




Importance of the subject Freedom Conscience a sufficient guide 
Duty The practical reason Its primacy The good will 
Emotionless morality Categorical Imperative Maxims 
Stoicism Integrity Truthfulness Emotional nature Basis 
of his theology Postulates Religious character of the age 
Rationalism Historical faith History depreciated His re 
ligion essentially morality View of Scripture Moral interpre 
tation Public and private use of reason The Trinity Christ 
Sin Conversion The Church Worship The next world 
Ministers Influence of his rationalism Explanation of his 
theology Called to account by the Government. 

KANT S Critical Philosophy receives and deserves more 
attention than his practical works, on account of its 
profundity and because it has exerted the greatest 
influence and determined his place in history ; if, how 
ever, we want to understand the man himself, we must 
also consider his relation to morals and religion. The 
supreme importance which he himself attached to these 
subjects, and the light which his moral and religious 
views throw on his mind and heart, make it the more 
necessary to give them a prominent place in his bio 
graphy. The fact that he did not establish morality 
and religion on a firm speculative basis, and that in 
some respects his efforts to do so reveal his weakness 
rather than his strength, does not in the least justify 


a neglect of these subjects here where the interest is 
not centred on the truth of the system but on the 
character of its author. Even when his influence is 
considered, his practical as well as his speculative works 
must be taken into the account. If the former have 
received less attention than they deserve, it is because 
men have been so dazzled by the brightness of the 
latter that they have overlooked his other works; just 
as over Goethe s literary productions men forget that 
he also wrote on scientific subjects. Kant s influence 
on morals and religion was only second to that exerted 
by him on philosophy. The Kantian morality filled 
works on ethics, was taught in the universities, was 
preached from the pulpits, and was potent in shaping 
conduct and in determining the moral tone of literature. 
At the close of last century and the beginning of the 
nineteenth, the number of Kantian theologians was 
legion ; and Kantian theology, as well as the Critical 
Philosophy, forms a prominent period in German 
literature. It was through his marvellous power that 
the various anti-orthodox tendencies which flourished 
during the period of Illumination were concentrated 
into Rationalism. ( 126 ) 

Kant rejected the doctrine of natural depravity, 
though he held that every man sins ; but instead of 
regarding this as a consequence of an original corrup 
tion of human nature, he held that, in the case of every 
individual, it is the result of free choice. While we 
cannot understand how sin could enter the world, or 
how a man can pass from a state of purity to corrup 
tion, the fact of sin itself cannot be questioned. During 
the period of Illumination it became common to view 
sin superficially and sentimentally; but Kant, with 


his profound knowledge of human nature, had a deep 
view of sin, pronounced men depraved, and called the 
evil reigning in man radical. Nevertheless, in spite 
of this deep and universal prevalence of sin among men, 
he held that the original nature is good, and that if 
this nature were only properly developed, man would 
be morally perfect, and he says, " The germs which lie 
in man need only be more and more developed ; for 
the grounds of evil are not found in the natural en 
dowments of man. The source of evil is found in the 
fact that human nature is not subjected to rules. 
There are in man no germs except for that which is 

In order that the development may be perfectly 
moral, it is only necessary to follow the dictates of 
conscience. " The law within us," as he defines con 
science, is an infallible guide ; and nothing but 
obedience to this can give a man dignity and worth. 
On this autonomy of man he places the strongest 
emphasis ; it determines the entire character of his 
system of morals, and largely influences his theological 
views. While others laid the stress on man s freedom 
with reference to the creature, Kant also emphasized 
this freedom in man s relation to God ; and as in his 
cosmogony he held that nature s laws, originating with 
God, work without the interposition of the Divine 
agency, so he held that conscience, originally proceeding 
from God, is of itself sufficient to be the guide in 
morals and religion. Thus man is not only free, but, 
as far as moral guidance is concerned, he is independent, 
and it is unworthy of him to subject himself to 
external authority in morals. While Kant regards 
the conscience as the gift of God, it is easy to under- 


stand why he bases morality directly on conscience, 
not on God. We have an immediate knowledge of 
conscience ; by means of its activity it makes itself 
known directly to consciousness ; but the existence of 
God is, according to the " Kritik," inferred chiefly 
from the fact that man has a conscience. The 
existence of conscience is for us a primitive fact, that 
of God is derivative. The moral law in iis being the 
evidence of God s existence, instead of being dependent 
on that existence, is treated by Kant as authoritative 
for us if even there were no God. Whatever the 
ultimate ground of morals may be, for us its source is 
in ourselves ; for conscience is an absolute law unto 

What is duty ? Kant answers that it is the obliga 
tion to act solely from regard for the moral law r ; and 
he wants it to be perfectly pure, that is, uninfluenced 
by any motive whatever except regard for that law. 
Pure duty is its own absolute and all-sufficient motive ; 
and the oucjld, in perfect and cold isolation, is the sole, 
as well as the supreme rule in morals. Nothing 
inspires Kant more than this idea of duty, and he 
becomes eloquent and enthusiastic in discussing it. 
He says that the two objects which fill the spirit with 
ever new and increasing admiration the oftener and the 
more continuously reflection dwells on them, are the 
starry heavens above us and the moral law within us. 
And he exclaims, " Duty ! thou great, sublime name ! 
thou includest nothing which flatters, but thou 
demandest subjection ; neither, on the other hand, dost 
thou threaten anything which excites a natural aversion 
in the soul, nor dost thou frighten in order to move 
the soul ; but thou only announcest a law which of 


itself finds access to the spirit, and in spite of itself 
excites reverence a law before which all inclinations 
are dumb, though in secret they oppose it." 

The reason having two functions, the theoretical and 
the practical, the former deals with knowledge, the 
latter with conduct. ( 127 ) In both functions the reason 
is a priori, its laws being inherent in itself and not the 
product of experience. Hence it is the pure practical 
reason (with no empirical elements) which determines 
a priori the principles of conduct, just as the pure 
speculative reason gives ideas. This pure, practical 
reason is, according to Kant, simply the free will. 
Speculatively we can determine nothing respecting it, 
but practically we must accept it as the source of 
conduct and the basis of morality. Without freedom 
there could be neither morality nor worthiness ; but 
since men are free, their dignity requires that they 
should not be treated as mere means, instead of ends. 

Since the reason is both speculative and practical, 
it is a question of the utmost importance in morals, 
" Which is the more important function ? " We have 
already found the answer ; but we must emphasize it, 
as otherwise the negative results of the "Kritik " will 
be likely to affect our views of his moral system. With 
an emphasis that is unmistakable, the speculative Kant 
gives the preference to the practical reason, and 
declares that to it belongs the "primacy." Its prin 
ciples, like those of the speculative reason, area priori, 
universal, and necessary; they, indeed, must not 
conflict with the speculative reason, nevertheless they 
transcend it, since it cannot explain these principles. 
If the practical were subject to the speculative reason, 
then its principles, which the speculative cannot 


explain, would have to be rejected. Even the interest 
of the speculative reason is only conditional, and is 
made perfect in its practical application. It is not the 
fact that man has reason which elevates him above 
the brute, if that reason only enables him to do for 
himself what instinct does for the animal ; in that case 
reason would indicate for man no higher aim or destiny 
than that of the brute, but only a different way of 
attaining the same end. Man is elevated above the 
animal because he has an aim which it cannot have. 
Reason distinguishes between good and bad, and it 
can make morality the ruling purpose of life ; this is 
man s prerogative and glory. 

Kant declares that there is nothing good in the 
world, except the good will.( 128 ) Not only does he em 
phasize this, but he also gives it a strictly literal 
application to morality. The good will is one which 
acts purely from regard for the moral law ; and this 
will alone, and not culture, nor endowments, nor 
emotions of any kind, makes a man good. An act 
may conform to the law without being moral ; it is 
moral only when it is done for the sake, of the law. If 
a man is honest from policy, not from regard for the 
law, his honesty is legal, not moral. Neither is that 
benevolence moral which springs from pity for the 
suffering, not from regard for the law, and he says in 
his " Basis for the Metaphysics of Morality :"- 

" It is a duty to be charitable when one can ; and 
many souls are so sympathetic that, without any 
other motive of vanity or selfishness, they find an in 
ward joy in spreading joy, and they take pleasure in 
the satisfaction of others as far as it is their work. 
But I declare that in such a case these acts, however 


dutiful, however lovely they may be, have no real 
moral worth ; but they are to be classed with other 
inclinations, as, for instance, with the desire for 
honour when it agrees with what is generally bene 
ficial and dutiful, and therefore is also honourable and 
deserving of praise and encouragement, but not of 
esteem ; for the maxim lacks moral worth, which does 
not do such deeds from inclination, but because it is 
a duty to do them." Kant supposes the case of a man 
who is so much absorbed in his own grief that the 
calamities of others do not touch him. If now he re 
lieves others solely from duty, without any inclination, 
" only then has the deed genuine moral worth." He 
seems to describe himself in the following : "If nature 
had put but little sympathy into the heart of a person ; 
if he, an honest man, were from temperament indif 
ferent and cold toward the sufferings of others, perhaps 
because he is furnished with the special gift of patience 
*and persevering endurance with respect to his own, 
and also expects and even demands the same of others ; 
if nature had formed such a man (who would verily 
not be her worst product) not specially for a phil 
anthropist, would not he, nevertheless, find in himself 
a source of much greater worth than that which 
springs from a kind temperament ? Certainly. Just 
there the worth of that character begins which is moral 
and without comparison the highest, namely, the 
character which does good from duty, not from incli 
nation." Not only does he want to banish all emotions, 
even the higher ones, from morality, but he also fails 
to mediate between duty and feeling; the two are 
separated by a gulf which he leaves fixed and impas 
sable. Disciples and great admirers of Kant have 


regarded his system as defective in this respect, and 
could not agree with him that the noblest feelings are 
a hindrance to morality ; and some of the Kantian 
moralists, especially Schiller, have attempted to 
mediate between the emotions and morals, and to 
introduce soul as well as conscience into his cold and 
stern and heartless morality. ( 12 ) 

"While in his moral philosophy everything revolves 
around conscience, free will, and duty, Kant also gives 
what he regards as the highest principle of morality 
and the most general rule of conduct, namely, his 
celebrated Categorical Imperative. It is this law : 
" Act in such a way that the maxim of thy conduct might 
be made a general Z^?6 ."( l30a ) This law excludes all 
selfishness, and is in no sense a maxim of prudence or 
expediency ; it takes into account neither results nor 
any possible contingencies, but it is always, and every 
where, and for every person, absolutely and impera 
tively, the supreme rule of action. Instead of con 
sidering only the actor, it takes all mankind into 
the account, and declares that the law of conduct 
ought to be one which I could wish every other human 
being to adopt ; for it says, act in such a way that 
you could wish every one else to act in the same way. 
This Categorical Imperative is essentially the same as 
the Golden Rule in the Sermon on the Mount. 

This sublime law, so free from every objectionable 
motive, was received with all the more enthusiasm 
because it was in such striking contrast witli the pre 
valent morality. It reveals the moral grandeur in 
Kant himself, gives the key to his whole system of 
morals, and indicates the spirit of his ethics. But he 
is far from being satisfied with general laws ; he wants 


rules even for the details of life, and leaves as littlo 
room for spontaneity in conduct as he does for in 
clination. In his works there are numerous maxims 
which throw light on his views as well as his life. 
Not only was he in the habit of making general rules 
and such as covered important cases, but he also made 
maxims for matters of minor importance. These rules 
were sharply defined, stood out in bold relief, and 
received an unusual prominence and importance. 
This effort to shape life, its emotions, as well as its 
thoughts and volitions, according to rules, was the 
natural result of his desire to reduce everything to 
method and to system. In the course of time these 
maxims, like the rules of grammar, were used without 
thinking of them. In early life he found himself liable 
to yield to the first impulse, whence consequences 
resulted to himself and others which he had reason to 
regret. In order to avoid such contingencies in the 
future, he determined to use these occasions for the 
formation of maxims covering those peculiar cases ; 
these were to be his rules of conduct under similar 
circumstances. With his indomitable will he carried 
out these resolutions ; and Jachmann states that he 
followed with unswerving firmness the maxims once 
adopted. " In this way his whole life, in the course 
of time, became a chain of maxims." Rarely can it 
be said with equal truth that the maxims are the man. 
The writer just quoted gives an illustration of the 
manner in which they were formed. One day, as 
Kant was returning home from a walk, a count who 
was riding in his carriage met him. He stopped, 
alighted, and asked him to take a drive with him, and 
Kant accepted the invitation. The spirited and fleet 

MAXIMS. 319 

horses made the philosopher nervous. After driving 
over his possessions, the count proposed that they 
should visit a friend a few miles distant, and out of 
politeness Kant assented. Contrary to his usual cus 
tom, he did not reach home till ten in the evening. 
The whole affair was exceedingly disagreeable to him; 
and to avoid like occurrences in the future he adopted 
the rule, never again to let any one take him pleasure- 
riding, and to enter a carriage only when it was under his 
own control. ( I30b ) "As soon as he had formed such a 
maxim he knew just what to do in similar cases, and 
nothing in the world could induce him to depart from 
the rule adopted." This determination to regulate 
life strictly according to rules struck his friends as one 
of the most marked traits of his character ; and 
Borowski observes : " That which was properly the 
characteristic of Kant, according to the observation 
of all who knew him, was his constant effort to act, in 
all things, in conformity with well-matured and, in his 
estimation at least, well-founded principles ; the effort 
to fix, for large and small, for important and unim 
portant affairs, maxims which were to be referred to 
constantly, and were always to be the source of con 
duct. These became so interwoven with himself that 
he acted according to them without being conscious 
of them." Kant himself says, " It is necessary for 
our whole life to be subjected to moral maxims." 

Owing to his strict adherence to rules, Kant s life 
was remarkably even and regular, and was in an un 
usual degree the result of rational self-control. There 
is always grandeur in a life which shows itself so 
superior to inclination and passion and circumstances, 
and makes reason the supreme arbiter. Not only in 


Kant s philosophy, but also in his life, there is much 
that suggests the sage who is immeasurably superior 
to creatures of circumstances ; and the philosophic 
mood of his lonely career has justly gained admiration. 
He had an ideal for life, as well as for philosophy, 
and he was stern and severe in his efforts for its 
realization. But with all our admiration of the 
wisdom which shone in his conduct, his effort to dis 
cipline life into the grooves of his maxims also had 
its disadvantages. The rules which free a man from 
the control of his inclinations may themselves be 
woven into a strait-jacket, and rational principles 
may be carried to an extreme which makes their ap 
plication irrational. The reign of maxims in Kant s 
case was a logical deduction from his emotionless 
morality ; and their supremacy to an extent which 
suppressed impulse and spontaneity helped to rob his 
life of much of the warmth, freshness, and variety, 
which beautify even ordinary lives, and to limit it 
methodically to wise but cold formulas. A cotem- 
porary said of Kant, " He has made himself a slave 
of his reason, and unflinchingly obeys its laws." Al 
though this was intended as a compliment, the word 
" slave " is too suggestive of something else. His rules 
were, indeed, the result of careful reflection, often 
embodied much wisdom, and saved him from many 
mortifying experiences. But why are the emotions 
given if, with and besides the rules, they are to have 
no room for their healthy play ? Impulse and inclina 
tion may be in harmony with truth and right, and 
may intensify all that is noblest in man ; and to 
banish or suppress them may in some respects make 
a man more than ordinary humanity, but in others it 


will make liim loss. It is said that when Kant found 
that a maxim was no longer adapted to his condition 
he would change it, and thus proved that he was 
master of his maxims ; but it is evident that they 
sometimes gained the complete mastery over him, and 
made his life restrained and rigorous, and that at last 
slight changes, even when necessary for his health 
and safety, were made with extreme difficulty. His 
mental, as well as his moral and physical life, was 
subjected to rules, and his career was marked by an 
almost unvarying sameness, especially in his later 
years. The following is an illustration of the fact 
that, with all his power of abstraction, his mind was 
much influenced by mechanical routine. After re 
turning from his walk he was in the habit of reading 
till twilight. Then, in winter and in summer, he 
would stand before the stove and fix his eyes on a 
certain tower, while his mind was occupied with re 
flections. In the course of time the poplars in a 
neighbouring yard grew so high as to hide his favourite 
tower. This so disturbed and annoyed him that he 
was anxious that the trees should be topped ; and the 
owner, to gratify him, did as he desired, thus enabling 
the philosopher again to pursue his meditations un 
interruptedly. This story reveals a prominent charac 
teristic of Kant, namely, the tendency to an undeviating 

While he made the free and good will the essence of 
all morality, he nevertheless thought it necessary to 
prevent arbitrariness by carefully determining the 
course of conduct by means of rational principles. lie 
wanted to introduce a mathematical exactness into the 
activity of the practical as well as of the speculative 


reason. His moral philosophy shows how pre 
dominant the intellectual element was in Kant. The 
will is the practical reason, not in any sense the heart ; 
its elements are intellectual, not emotional ; and the 
maxims give the intellectual grooves in which the will 
is to run. He says, " Many persons have no idea what 
they want ; hence they act according to instinct and 
authority." Men should learn to know what they 
want, and this knowledge should be embodied in 
maxims as the laws of life. Kant treats the will as if 
it did not belong to the whole man, but only to the in 
tellect ; and in his morality, as well as in his specula 
tive philosophy, the emotional element seems to have 
been absorbed by the intellectual. Reason, being the 
highest, is also the governing faculty; as it gives the 
principles of knowledge, so it also gives the laws of 
conduct ; and Kant wants to make life, as well as our 
philosophy, rational, insisting as strenuously on con 
duct which has its source in the (practical) reason, as 
he does on a philosophy which has its source in the 
(speculative) reason. He regards as the true life that 
one which translates reason into conduct ; and in this 
fact we find the explanation of his numerous maxims. 

While, however, depreciating the emotions in general, 
Kant sought to attain that joy which springs from 
the consciousness of having done right. In a letter 
to Reinhold, he speaks of philosophical indifference 
respecting all things not in our power, and claims that 
the consciousness of having done our duty constitutes 
the real worthiness of life, and that experience teaches 
us that all other enjoyment, except this consciousness, 
is vain. According to Kant, therefore, the real 
grandeur and highest enjoyment of life are within the 


roach of all, the poorest, the humblest, and the 
illiterate, as well as the richest, the most exalted, and 
the most learned a conclusion worthy of the great 
metaphysician and the sublime moralist. 

Maxims, which Kant defines as laws made subjective 
or rules chosen as the guides of life, should bo taught 
early in life. Authority should be exercised to lead the 
child to adopt them ; nevertheless it should learn to 
appreciate them and adopt them voluntarily. Moral 
training must rest on them, and he says, " One must 
see to it that the pupil does right according to maxims, 
not from habit, in order that he may not merely do 
what is good, but because it is good ; for the whole 
moral worth of actions consists in the good maxims." 
The pupil should learn the grounds of his conduct and 
recognize the idea of duty as its source. Kant gives 
directions for the training of others in which he reveals 
his o\vn laws of conduct, lie says that rules, not im 
pulse, ought to determine the conduct of the young. 
" Moral culture must be based on maxims, not on 
discipline. . . . The first effort in moral training 
should be to form a moral character. Character con 
sists in skill to act according to maxims. At first they 
are maxims of the school ; afterwards they become 
those of humanity." When children have once 
adopted rules of conduct, they ought to follow them 
strictly. It is true, Kant says, that those are blamed 
who always act according to law, the man, for instance, 
who has a definite time for everything, as if he were 
regulated by the watch ; yet, while such strict 
adherence to time may look painful, it is, nevertheless, 
important in the formation of character. 

Laxity was altogether foreign to Kant s nature ; and 

y 2 


as lie asked no mercy of others, so lie was not very 
merciful in his judgments. Especially was he strict 
in the fulfilment of promises to the letter, and in 
demanding that others should do the same. Soon 
after he became a tutor, a student promised to bring 
him the pay for his lectures at a certain time. When 
the appointed hour came, and the student did not 
appear, Kant was restless and greatly displeased, 
telling two friends who were present, that it was not 
for the sake of the money but because a definite pro 
mise had been given ; and every fifteen minutes he 
would again speak of the fact that the young man did 
not appear. When he made his appearance, a few 
days later, he received a severe rebuke ; requesting 
permission to take part in a disputation which was to 
occur soon, Kant refused, saying, " You might again 
break your word and not appear at the discussion, and 
thus spoil everything." 

Kant associated mostly with those who had com 
paratively few wants, and did not come in contact with 
the great sufferings of humanity ; it is not strange, 
therefore, if his sympathies were but little developed. 
His wonderful power of will in controlling his own 
sufferings, his great endurance, and his successful con 
flict with poverty and difficulties, led him to expect of 
others similar power and triumphs ; and he looked with 
a degree of contempt on those who failed. If he 
depreciated the sympathies which Christianity particu 
larly develops, he cherished sentiments worthy of the 
noblest of the old Roman heroes, and there is a grandeur 
in his stoicism. It seems as if we hear a Spartan voice 
when he says, " A man must never weep other than 
magnanimous tears. Those which he sheds in pain, or 


on account of misfortune, make him despicable. "( IS1 ) 
The same spirit breathes in his maxim, " Crying and 
moaning in physical pain are unworthy of you, 
especially if you are conscious of being yourself the 
cause of the pain." The nature of his studies and the 
character of his life must be taken into consideration in 
judging of his relation to others. Rink, who knew him 
well, says, "His world was in his study; and even 
when he had observed men with a sharp eye, he trans 
ferred the results of his observation to the school, and 
judged others as severely as he did himself. In doing 
this, he naturally overlooked the impossibility of 
appreciating the stand-point of others as fully as his 
own, or as one at least believes that he appreciates his 
own, so that the severity supposed to be just may 
easily degenerate into slight injustice. And thus, I 
believe, it may be explained that Kant, when he once 
believed himself justified in forming an unfavourable 
opinion of any one, seldom or never changed it." 
And he also says, " The isolated life which Kant had 
always lived, together with his limited wants, led him 
either entirely to overlook much in the life of other 
persons, or else at least to under-estimate it. Other 
wise, I am convinced, it would be possible to relate 
many more noblo deeds of him than can now be 

In spite of the severity of his principles and the 
efforts to suppress his emotional nature, his life 
furnishes numerous examples of genuine kindness, 
and at times he was even tender. Kant was better 
than his principles, in this respect, and his heart some 
times transcended his philosophy. It may seem to be 
a contradiction, but the testimony of his friends makes 


it evident that, in spite of liis maxims, which excluded 
impulse, and of his cold morality, he remained child 
like ; and though he was not able to place himself on 
the stand-point of the masses, he repeatedly proved that 
he could be moved by the needs of others. He was 
not an impulsive or sentimental philanthropist, and 
(though the statements on this point are contradic 
tory) the most reliable testimony declares that he 
could not tolerate beggars ; still, he won many hearts 
by his good and kind deeds. 

Kant has justly been admired for his uprightness and 
his sterling integrity. He not only taught the Cate 
gorical Imperative, but he also strove to conform his 
life to it, and he was above petty meanness and selfish 
ness. He made strenuous efforts to attain the strictest 
morality in his dealings with others, and his life was 
singularly free from injustice and immorality. li Kant 
lived as he taught," was said of him while still alive, 
and since then it has been repeated frequently, and 
efforts have not been wanting, on the part of devout 
disciples, to ascribe to his doctrine and his life a perfec 
tion which the unbiased critical student may fail to find; 
but the very extravagance of the praise heaped on Kant 
shows what a profound impression his exalted character 
made on some of his contemporaries. Though he did 
not attain his own ideal of perfection, his earnest 
desire and even anxiety to do so are worthy of all com 
mendation ; and he deserves enthusiastic praise who 
so loved duty as to declare, " Whoever will yet pro 
pose to me a good deed in my last moments, him will I 

Truthfulness was regarded by Kant as the cardinal 
virtue, and on it he laid the strongest emphasis. He 


brought tins trait from his early home, in which this 
virtue reigned, and where his father was most careful to 
inculcate it. Kant esteemed lying inexpressibly base. 
His usual strictness is seen in his very definition of a 
lie, whatever is announced as true when one knows 
that it is false, and whenever a man announces as 
certain that of which he is not certain. In his " Peda 
gogics" he speaks of truthfulness as the fundamental 
and most essential trait of character, and says, " A 
man who lies, has no character at all ; and if he has 
anything good, it emanates onlyfrom his temperament;" 
and he also says, " Lying makes a man an object of 
general contempt, and is one of the means of robbing 
him of that regard and confidence which each person 
should have toward himself." So strict is lie in 
demanding truthfulness, that he will tolerate no de 
viation, not even in the extremest cases. There were 
others who advocated the view that in dealing with 
persons we must take into account the question 
whether they are entitled to know the truth. Kant, 
however, claimed that truthfulness is a duty which I 
owe myself, irrespective of my relation to others ; and 
he held that we have no right to deceive even the 
murderer who seeks to take the life of our friend. 

Truthfulness was a prominent trait of his own cha 
racter. In his researches, his aim was the truth in 
its purity ; hence his dread of prejudice and his long and 
profound investigations to find a firm basis for know 
ledge. His friends make special mention of his strict 
adherence to the truth, and Borowski s testimony is, 
* lie was reliable and truthful in every word, and taught 
me, while yet a youth, with solemn earnestness, to bo 
reliable and truthful and candid, just as he was and 


continued to be." To this general rule, Borowski 
himself found a single exception, which will, however, 
be mentioned in considering Kant s religious views. ( IS2 ) 

He, of course, made a distinction between truth- " 
fulness and candour, and held that, while a man ought 
always to be truthful, he need not tell all he thinks 
or knows, but must be his own judge of the extent of 
his frankness. There maybe many reasons for with 
holding facts or convictions from the public, and 
perfect frankness might be a great evil.( 133 ) 

His aversion to flattery and to unmeaning compli 
ments was but a reflex of his love of truth. The fact 
that empty and ostentatious ceremonies and fulsome 
praise were so common in society, made it the more a 
duty to oppose them vigorously. He disliked the 
parade of titles, and usually omitted his from the title- 
page of his books. After he had attained to years of 
maturity, he found extravagant compliments in dedi 
cations disagreeable, though in his first attempt at 
authorship he was guilty of the very thing he after 
wards so severely censured.( 134 ) With his views of 
the dignity of man, he could only look on everything 
like cringing as degrading, and it was one of his maxims, 
" Do not become a servant of men ; do not let others, 
with impunity, trample your rights under foot." He 
placed a high estimate on self-respect and self-confi 
dence, and opposed all that tended to lower them ; 
hence the importance which, he attached to the feeling 
of independence, individually as well as politically. 

That moral perfection which some of his eulogists 
ascribed to him, Kant himself would have been the 
first to disclaim. With all his self-confidence, and 
with all the purity of his motives, he knew full well 


that he was human ; and he was too keen an observer 
of self not to see some of the failings which those who 
were intimate with him did not fail to discover. 
Profound and learned as he was, and earnestly as he 
strove to do his duty, his isolated student-life, his 
limited experience, and his predominantly intellectual 
development, were certainly not calculated to make 
him great-hearted. He placed the speculative and 
the practical reason upon the throne : and in speak 
ing of his intellectual greatness and of his moral 
grandeur, rare praise can be bestowed on him without 
danger of flattery. The heart was not his domain ; 
in the emotions his sphere was limited ; many of the 
affairs of humanity were altogether foreign to him, 
while others touched him only externally. The breadth 
of sympathy developed by personal suffering was 
unknown to him, and he was a stranger to the emotions 
fostered by family ties. When we look at his character 
as a whole, we admire its moral earnestness and even 
sternness, its sincerity, and its general excellence ; 
but he himself was too suspicious of the emotions to 
desire to inspire any enthusiasm with reference to his 
own heart. 

Kant s moral severity was in marked contrast with 
the prevailing laxity. The undermining of faith in 
Germany had prepared the way for the contagion of 
French frivolity. In their thirst for happiness, men 
lost sight of the claims of morality, or sought to make 
them minister to their ruling passion. The low tone 
of morals made the sublime height of Kant s ethics 
the more conspicuous. The prevailing views may have 
led him to make his morality the more stern and to 
exclude from it all emotion, so as the more success- 


fully to reject all endaeraonism. But Kant himself 
brought in happiness again as necessary for the 
realization of the highest good. 

The religious as well as the moral views of Kant 
are based on the results of the " Kritik," and they 
rest solely on the practical, not on the speculative 
reason. We are conscious of our freedom; we cannot 
go behind this fact, nor is it necessary. " You can, 
for you ought" an expression which is often used by 
him, settles the matter ; the fact that there is an ought 
implies freedom, without which there could be no 
responsibility. Speculatively, freedom itself is an in 
soluble mystery ; but whatever the immediate causes 
of moral conduct may be, its ultimate source is the 
spontaneity of the actor. 

This primal and indisputable fact of man s freedom 
is the basis of Kant s theology, as well as of his ethics. 
Conscience, which rests on this fact, demands per 
fection, namely holiness ; but that is not attainable in 
this life. Since, however, it is demanded of us, it 
must also be practicable, and Kant again uses the 
argument, " You ought, therefore you can." But 
since holiness is not practicable here, it must be in 
another life where there is an eternal progress toward 
the realization of this ideal. The highest good, of 
which the perfect conformity of the disposition with 
the moral law is the first condition, is therefore pos 
sible only if there is another life ; and the immortality 
of the soul is the first postulate of the practical reason. 

But the realization of the highest good, namely, the 
perfect harmony between moral worthiness and happi 
ness, or the bestowal of happiness according to desert, 
cannot be accomplished by nature, nor by virtue itself; 


and yet our nature demands that our happiness should 
be proportionate to our virtue. Therefore it can be 
accomplished only in another world, and by a Being 
not subject to nature, but which can reward according 
to moral desert, namely, God. The existence of God 
is therefore the second postulate of the practical 
reason. ( 135 ) 

Kant declares that these postulates must not be 
used speculatively, as, for instance, to account for the 
origin of the world and of design in nature, though 
the existence of God would be the most satisfactory 
explanation of these problems. He is extremely 
cautious in the application of these postulates, and 
insists that they can be used only for practical pur 
poses, but for these, he thinks, they are entirely 

Both in laying the foundation of rational theology 
and in building a superstructure on it, we find that 
Kant went his own way. Not that he is free from 
the influences of the age; but he sought to master 
and concentrate its various tendencies, and he gave 
them a new basis and a new direction. After turning 
with aversion from the religious influences of his youth, 
he still found many tendencies in the age which were 
anything but congenial to his rationalizing spirit. On 
the one hand, he found religious extravagance and 
fanaticism, and some of his severe expressions against 
the religion of the day are probably aimed at this 
tendency ; on the other, there was religious as well as 
moral indifference, or even decided hostility towards 
religion. The age demanded tolerance, fraternity, 
humanity, reason ; and many of their apostles sought 
the promotion of these objects with a passion which 


made them intolerant and fanatical. The old forms of 
faith were looked upon as fetters ; the preaching of 
the times neither satisfied the restlessness of the age 
nor met the demands of reason ; orthodoxy became 
hateful, because it was regarded as narrow and 
intolerant, and as lacking the fraternal and humane 
spirit. English deism and French naturalism found 
a congenial soil among men of culture in Germany, 
and Illumination became the watchword of litera 
ture. Kant felt the influence of these tendencies, and 
in his religious views the effect of English deism and 
of Lessing s rationalizing efforts is clearly seen. When 
we consider the influence of the English natural philo 
sophers on his early life, it is not surprising that there 
are traces of deism already in his cosmogony. It is 
natural that his fondness for Hume should subject 
him to the religious, as well as the philosophical 
influence of the sceptical philosopher. Among the 
French authors, Rousseau s influence was especially 
powerful. In considering Kant s religious views, it 
should be remembered that he lived in the age of 
Voltaire and of the French Encyclopedists ; that 
literature was predominantly sceptical ; that the reaction 
against a religious dogmatism, which had often been 
narrow and oppressive, had made Frederick II. and 
Joseph II. popular heroes of tolerance ; and that 
instead of a religion based on revelation and on doc 
trines transcending reason, there was aery for religion 
based on common sense. The age which hailed with 
delight Lessing s " Nathan the Wise," had no taste for 
dogma or for orthodoxy. 

To form a correct estimate of Kant s theology and 
of his originality in its development, we must view 


him as be stands amid the fermentations of the age, 
both receiving its leaven and also, in turn, giving it 
new leaven. While in many respects his religious 
views were a product of the age, he was too profound 
and too earnest to treat religion with the flippancy 
which was the fashion among many of his contem 
poraries. He viewed religion as involving too many 
interests of humanity for such treatment; and there 
were in him moral and religious aspirations, deve 
loped no doubt by Pietism, which demanded satisfac 
tion, and made religion to him a serious matter. Kant 
places much emphasis on the demands of our nature, 
and frequently refers to them, and he could not regard 
as satisfactory any system which fails to meet them. 
The frivolous, irresolute Voltaire, swinging like a 
pendulum between deism and materialism ; the senti 
mental deism of his favourite Rousseau ; and the 
scepticism in which Hume seemed content to rest, 
could no more satisfy the needs of his deep nature 
than could the shallow and illogical Illumination of 
Germany, which labelled its heterogeneous and 
chaotic mass of opinions " Common Sense." Kant 
saw that in many cases this latter tendency might 
with more propriety be called vulgar sense; and he 
wanted something which transcended this, namely 
rationality. The tendency also lacked the moral 
earnestness which he sought. It applied historical 
criticism, which had received a great impulse from 
Semler, but it was chiefly negative in its results ; 
Kant shifted the ground from history to reason, and 
from historical to rational criticism. While there was 
much similarity between his religious views and the 
prevalent English deism, lie went deeper, and made 


conscience, duty, and morality more stern than was 
usually the case with deists ; but the chief difference 
consisted in this : that while they rejected the possi 
bility of revelation, Kant maintained that a revelation 
may be possible, and he made an effort to attach his 
religious views as closely as possible to the New Tes 
tament ; and though the similarity is generally only 
that of the terminology, he claimed that his theology 
was the essence of the teachings of that book. What 
ever analogies there may be between his views and the 
systems mentioned, none of these names designate his 
theology, which he himself called Rationalism. Tn the 
Kantian sense, this means that reason is the source 
and interpreter of religion, and therefore the final 
appeal in theology. 

Some of his definitions are significant and will help 
us to understand his own position. He who regards 
natural religion as the only one that is obligatory, may 
be called a rationalist. If he denies the possibility of 
a supernatural revelation, he is called a naturalist ; if 
he admits its possibility, but declares that for religion 
it is not necessary to know and accept a revelation, 
he may be called a pure rationalist ; but if he regards 
faith in it as necessary for the universal religion, he 
may be called a pure supernaturalist. Kant himself 
was a pure rationalist. As the very name implies, a 
rationalist is one who moves within the limits of the 
reason, and regards its light as sufficient for a know 
ledge of religious truth and for practical guidance. ( 136 ) 
But just because he confines himself to the limits of 
human knowledge, he will never deny the possibility 
of a revelation, nor its necessity as the divine means 
for the introduction of the true religion, because 


these are subjects concerning which reason determines 
nothing. The admission which Kant thus makes 
respecting the possibility of a divine revelation, is, 
however, of no practical value, for he declares that 
even if one had been given, it would be impossible to 
determine that it is a supernatural revelation. " Even 
if God did speak to him, man could never know that 
it was God who spoke. It is utterly impossible for 
man to recognize God with his senses, to distinguish 
Him from objects of sense, or to know Him by any 
marks whatever." A revelation would be valuable 
only because it gave truth sooner than reason, which 
can, however, discover the same in the course of time 
one of the many views in which Kant agrees with 
Lessing. He does not admit that a revelation gives 
any doctrines which are above reason, for his principle, 
that all the doctrines of religion must be rational, 
excludes all super-rational doctrines. 

It is one of his favourite notions that a rational 
religion is the only one which can be general, and for 
this reason he repeats the statement so often. lie 
thinks that a religion which rests on revelation should 
always tend more and more to become rational ; and 
that, in the course of time, the church which is based 
on a revelation should be able to dispense altogether 
with historical faith, and will do so when it has be 
come a rational church. Indeed, he declares that it 
is the most senseless thing imaginable to make a faith 
based on history the condition of salvation ; and lie 
repeatedly treats the historical clement in religion as 
unworthy of notice. He says, in a letter to Jacobi, 
that the question whether reason, in order to get the 
idea of theism, could have been aroused only by some- 


thing taught in history, or only through an inscru 
table supernatural influence, is merely of secondary 
importance, since it refers solely to the origin of this 
idea. " For it may be admitted that, if the Gospel 
had not first taught the general moral laws in all 
their purity, reason until now would not have appre 
hended them so clearly ; though, since they are here 
now, it is possible to convince persons of their correct 
ness and validity by means of mere reason." He 
depended so wholly on reason, and on a priori con 
structions, that his depreciation of history is charac 
teristic, and in religion, he thinks, it can be dispensed 
with altogether. The Church, which is based on 
historical faith, he calls the Church Militant, which 
will become the Church Triumphant by becoming 
rational. The leading-strings of holy tradition and its 
associations such as statutes and observances, which 
in their day did good service can be dispensed with, 
in the course of time, and at last they even become 
fetters. Kant regards these things as intended for 
the childhood of humanity, and as not adapted to the 
age of manhood. When this manhood is attained, the 
law, " which each one gives himself," becomes his 
guide. This law must not, however, be regarded by 
man as merely his own, but also as that of the Ruler 
of the world, who reveals it through the reason. 
Kant, of course, degrades the statutes and ceremonies 
of the Church by making them valuable only as aids 
to the immature and weak; but he was far more 
tolerant than some of the freethinkers of the day, who 
were revolutionary, and aimed to destroy the Bible, 
the Church, and every vestige of worship. He held 
that the transition from a religion resting on revela- 


tion and historical faith to rational religion, is not to 
be accomplished by an outward revolution, but by 
means of rational convictions. The faith of a church 
may be tolerated as a vehicle or servant of reason ; in 
other words, in its most perfect development revealed 
religion becomes rationalism. ( 137 ) 

As faith and revelation thus culminate in rational 
religion, which can almost dispense with the former 
and wholly with the latter ; so Kant at last lets all 
religion culminate in a morality in which the religious 
element is reduced to a minimum. This is evident 
from his whole theology and even from his division 
of religions. He claims that all religions may be 
divided into two classes those which seek the divine 
favour, and the moral religion or the religion of a 
good life. According to the former, man flatters 
himself either that God can make him eternally happy 
without becoming a better man, by forgiving his sins, 
or, if this is not possible, that God can make him 
better without any effort on his own part except to 
pray for it ; but since, before an omniscient Being, 
praying is nothing more than wishing, it can accom 
plish nothing ; for if it could be done by mere wishing 
every person would be good. This division degrades 
all religions which have a cultus ; and it is taken for 
granted that a religion cannot at the same time have 
a cultus and be thoroughly moral. But this separa 
tion of worship from morality is as characteristic of 
him as the attempt to let morality absorb religion. 
Kant puts Christianity into the second class, declaring 
that it is the only public moral religion which has 
ever existed, a religion which inspires the hope that 
whatever more is needed than man himself can supply 



will be granted from above. He thinks that it is not 
essential for man to know what aid God gives, but 
that it is necessary for him to know what he must do 
in order to make himself worthy of divine help. 

So often and emphatically does Kant represent 
religion as essentially morality, that his view in this 
respect is of the utmost importance for understanding 
his theology. He bases religion more on conscience, 
of whose existence we are immediately conscious, than 
on God, whose existence is only mediately known ; it 
rests mainly on the ideas of freedom and responsibility, 
and consists rather in what man can do for himself 
than in what God does for him ; its principal factor is 
therefore man, not God ; and it is quite natural that, 
with these views, the supremacy should be given to 
the moral element in religion. Kant says, " In sub 
stance that is, with regard to its object religion 
does not in the least differ from morality, for it deals 
with duties in general." The idea of God, he holds, 
is not to inspire worship, but moral conduct. 4< In 
religion, all depends on the actions." His idea of the 
true church is that of an " ethical community," as he 
calls it, which is based solely on morality, and has 
neither symbols nor cultus ; and he wants everything 
in religion to have only a moral aim. " Religion is 
that faith which places the essence of all reverence for 
God in the morality of man ;" and the religion which 
fails to do this he pronounces heathenism. " If 
reverence for God is the first aim to which virtue is 
subjected, He is made an idol, that is, He is regarded 
as a Being whom we dare not hope to please by means 
of a moral course in this world, but whose favour we 
hope to gain by means of adoration and flattery ; then 


religion is idolatry." It is very evident that Kautdid 
not believe in a religion which unites the strictest 
morality with the highest reverence and purest worship. 
He brings in God as only a moral help, and as neces 
sary to secure for man that happiness which he 
deserves ; and, as far as morality is concerned, God 
could be dispensed with, since man has in himself a 
complete moral basis and the only moral law that 
exists for him. The "ought" is really independent 
of God ; but, on the other hand, on it our faith in God 
rests. Kant s religion differs too little from his ethics 
to require the divine Being as its centre or its essence. 
After postulating the existence of God, he makes Him 
almost useless, except so far as He may be necessary 
to supplement morality by rewarding it with happiness. 
The God of Kant inspires no love and no worship ; 
indeed, he would pronounce Him an idol if He 
did.( m ) 

Kant is as anxious to exclude from man s relation 
to God all emotion as he is to eliminate all inclination 
from morality. Ho regards the command of Scripture, 
to love God supremely and the neighbour as one does 
himself, as in perfect harmony with a morality that is 
really loveless. Love to God, he says, as an affection 
is impossible, because He is not an object of the senses ; 
on the other hand, love to man is, indeed, possible, but 
it cannot be commanded ; " for no man can love any 
one at the command of another. Therefore it is only 
the practical love which is meant in that summary of 
all laws. In this sense, to love God signifies to do all 
His commands gladly; and to love the neighbour 
signifies to perform gladly all duties toward him." 
Perhaps this statement more clearly than any other 

z 2 


indicates the difference between the Kantian and 
Christian morality. While the latter demands abso 
lute obedience to duty, it also regards God and man 
as persons, between whom a personal relation, espe 
cially that of love, is possible ; and it requires a state 
of heart which both loves and obeys. Kant, however, 
lays the emphasis on obedience for the sake of the 
law ; he seems to be afraid of giving prominence to the 
personal element, just as he is afraid of the introduc 
tion of heart into morality and religion. His ultimate 
aim is a character that is purely moral for morality s 
sake ; while Christianity aims to develop a personality 
that is loving, trustful, hopeful, and holy. 

Admitting, as he did, that a revelation might be 
possible (though reason cannot settle definitely whether 
it is), he was not prepared to reject the Scriptures 
altogether ; but as he made reason and conscience the 
supreme and only guides in religion, he could place no 
high estimate on anything which claimed to be a reve 
lation. The Bible, he thinks, may continue for a long 
time to be the authentic religious guide of the masses ; 
but it is not needed by those whose reason and con 
science are fully developed. ( 139 ) For the existence of 
the Church it is necessary, since this institution con 
tains many weak persons ; but for the existence of 
religion, the Bible is not necessary. Of the Old Tes 
tament he had a low opinion, and he spoke of Judaism 
as not at all a religion, but as merely a political insti 
tution. The laws of Judaism he pronounces laws of 
force merely, which apply only to the outer conduct, 
and not at all to the moral purpose ; and he states that 
even the Ten Commandments are intended " abso 
lutely " only for external conduct, and not at all for 


the heart. ( uo ) He places the moral character of the 
New Testament inestimably higher than that of the 
Old, and seeks to attach his views to his interpretation 
of the essence of its teachings. 

Kant s recognition of Scripture is purely a matter of 
expedience. The state needs the Bible to control the 
people ; the masses need it, in order that they, having 
weak consciences, may recognize their duty ; and the 
philosopher finds it a convenient vehicle for conveying 
to the people the faith of reason. Were it rejected, it 
might be difficult, if not impossible, to put in its place 
another book which would inspire as much confidence. 
Kant s principles of course led him to deny that the 
Bible is authoritative in matters of religion, or that it 
is of itself a safe guide in morals. It is not held by 
him to be valuable for the sake of its doctrines and 
what may legitimately be inferred from them ; but its 
value consists in the fact that, owing to the confidence 
of the people in it, reason can use it to interpret into 
Scripture its own doctrines, and can thus make it the 
means of popularizing rational faith. If any one 
imagines that the aim of the interpretation is to obtain 
the real meaning of Scripture, he is no Kantian on 
this point ; that book is simply to be used as a help 
for moral reflections and applications, without inquiring 
into the meaning which the writers themselves may 
have intended to convey, for about this Kant does not 
care. He claims that it was the aim of the sacred 
writers to make better men, and that the historical, 
which contributes nothing to this end, is in itself 
altogether a matter of indifference, and one can regard 
it as he pleases. 

All the ingenuity of Kant is exerted to answer the 


question, " How shall the Scriptures be interpreted ? " 
Repeatedly, emphatically, and with various illustra 
tions, he teaches that the interpretation should be such 
as to make Scripture harmonize with the practical 
reason, and that its sole aim is to get moral rules and 
impulses. The theoretical passages which transcend 
reason can be interpreted in the interest of the prac 
tical reason ; and all the passages which are in conflict 
with this reason must be so interpreted. The preacher 
must make every passage of Scripture which he uses 
minister to some moral purpose ; and if a moral sense 
is not found in the passage itself, one must be inter 
preted into it or forced upon it; and he argues so 
strenuously, persistently, and prolixly in favour of this 
rule for the very purpose of making passages the 
vehicles of teachings which they do not contain. 
Sometimes it may be necessary to draw from a passage 
the very opposite of that which it seems to teach. 
This method of using Scripture is, he thinks, per 
fectly honest so long as we do not assert that the 
sense which we interpret into the symbols and sacred 
books is really intended to be conveyed by them, but 
say nothing about it, and only assume the possibility 
of so understanding them. For instance, if passages 
of Scripture make faith itself meritorious, " then they 
must be interpreted as if the moral faith, which 
improves and elevates the soul by means of reason, 
were meant." Only when the Scriptures are inter 
preted to suit our moral purposes are they valuable ; 
otherwise they are " practically empty, or even 
obstacles in the way of the good. And only then are 
they practically authentic ; that is, God in us is Him 
self the interpreter." According to Kant, therefore, 


this interpretation gives the real will of God, and he 
says, " That God who speaks through our own (moral, 
practical) reason is an unerring, universally understood 
interpreter of His word, and there absolutely cannot be 
any other (for instance, a historically) authenticated 
interpreter of His word, because religion is purely an 
affair of reason." And Kant calls his rule of " moral " 
interpretation, " The only evangelical, biblical method 
for the instruction of the people in the true, inner, and 
universal religion." 

This herineneutical rule was first announced in 1793, 
in the book entitled, " Religion within the Limits of 
mere Reason;" and in 1798 he found it necessary to 
explain the rule. He then declared that it might be 
demanded of the interpreter, whether he was inter 
preting authentically or doctrinally ; if the former, 
then he must explain the sense of the writer ; if the 
latter, then he can put into the passage under con 
sideration his own rational views, whether found there 
or not. He still calls this art of interpretation, 
" Hermeneutica sacra." 

Surprising as it may seem, there were many ra 
tionalistic theologians who adopted this rule ; and in 
an age when many ministers found their convictions in 
conflict with the Scriptures, it was very convenient. 
There were, however, other theologians who saw in 
it a sacrifice of principle to expediency, and who 
thought it would be more honest boldly to reject 
Scripture than to profess adherence to it and yet reject 
its real teachings. Men like Eichhorn, Noesselt, Storr, 
and many others, protested against the rule in the 
interest of truth as well as out of regard for Scripture. 
Not only was tho honesty of the rule questioned, but 


it was also seen that it opened the way for every one 
to put his own supposed moral views, however irra 
tional or fanatical they might be, into Scripture ; and 
there was no sufficient reason why the Koran or 
some other book might not, under certain circum 
stances, be made the basis of religion, since the 
Scripture is not the only work which ministers can use 
as a depository for their moral ideas. 

Even before he announced this hermeneutical rule 
he advocated a distinction between the official or public 
use of reason and its private exercise, ( M1 ) which is not 
less strange than his moral interpretation of Scripture. 
He says, " A minister is bound to instruct his cate 
chumens and members according to the creed of the 
church he serves, for it is on this condition that he 
has been accepted. But as a scholar he has perfect 
freedom ; yes, it is even his calling to communicate to 
the public all his carefully considered and beneficial 
thoughts respecting the faults in that creed, and ho 
should also publish plans for the better organization of 
religious and ecclesiastical affairs. There is in this 


course nothing which can burden the conscience. For 
what he teaches by virtue of his office, as the agent 
of his church, that he teaches as something respecting 
which it is not in his power to give instruction as he 
thinks, but he should teach what he is commissioned 
to do in the name of another. He will say, Our church 
teaches this or that doctrine, and these are the proofs 
it uses. He will draw all the practical lessons for his 
congregation from dogmas which he himself cannot 
subscribe with a full conviction of their truth, but 
which he can teach, since it is not altogether impossible 
that truth may be concealed therein; at all events, 


there is in them nothing which opposes inner religion. 
For if he believed the latter to be the case, then he 
could not perform his work conscientiously ; he would 
have to abandon his office. The use which a minister 
makes of his reason before his congregation is only a 
priratc ?w, because this is always a family gathering, 
however large it may be ; and respecting it, he, as a 
minister, is not free and dare not be, for he executes 
a foreign commission. On the other hand, as a scholar, 
who through his writings speaks to what is, properly 
speaking, the public, namely, to the world, he is a 
minister in the public use of his reason, and he has 
unlimited freedom to exercise his reason and to speak 
in his own name ; for that the spiritual leaders of the 
people should themselves be dependent, is an incon 
sistency which would tend to make inconsistencies 

That the same reason can have its public and its 
private use, and can be so different- in its teachings, 
and even contradictory ; that in the one case it is free 
and speaks in its own name, and in the other it is not 
free, but speaks in the name of another ; that the 
minister may teach one thing in the pulpit, and yet in 
books teach something else this certainly is a strange 
doctrine for a strict moralist. It puts the preacher on 
a level with a political ambassador who is supposed to 
represent the views of another, whatever his own may 
be. Kant evidently had such a view of the office of 
the ministry, a view which may have been promoted 
by the union of church and state. According to the 
modern and more independent position of ministers, his 
rule respecting the public and the private use of reason 
puts expediency where principle should reign supremely. 


Though he interpreted Scripture so as to make it har 
monize with the practical reason, Kant made a constant 
effort to clothe his religious ideas in biblical language. 
He thinks that the doctrine of the Trinity has no prac 
tical value whatever, and that it is a matter of no signifi 
cance whether there are three or ten persons in the 
Godhead, since both views are equally inconceivable 
and equally useless. Nevertheless he holds that the 
practical reason requires faith in God : first, as the 
Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, that is, viewed 
morally, as the Holy Lawgiver ; second, as the Pre 
server of the human family, or as a Gracious Ruler and 
Moral Maintainer of the same ; third, as the Adminis 
trator of His own holy laws, that is, as the Righteous 
Judge. Kant believes that God wants to be served in 
these three aspects, and that the idea of a trinity of 
persons in the Godhead is not an inappropriate 
representation of God s threefold relation to us as moral 

For Kant, Christ has significance only as an idea, 
and this idea he constructs according to his view of 
the demands of reason. The section, in his book on 
Religion, in which he discusses this subject is headed, 
" The Personified Idea of the Good Principle." He 
claims that the only thing which could have made the 
world an object of the divine counsel and which gives 
an aim worthy of creation, is humanity in its entire 
moral perfection. The man who alone is pleasing to 
God " is in Him from all eternity ;" that is, this man 
as an idea and as the aim of creation is in the divine 
mind God has a conception of such a being; this 
ideal being is, therefore, not created, but is God s only 
begotten Son. Since all things are created for this 


perfect, ideal man, lie is the Word (the Logos) by 
whom " all things were made ; and without Him was 
not anything made that was made." This perfect man 
is the reflection of God s glory ; in Him God loved the 
world ; and only in Him and by accepting His views 
can men become the children of God. In the whole 
discussion of the subject this perfect man is viewed by 
Kant as a mere ideal of humanity ; and He is the Son 
of God in the sense that this ideal had its birth in the 
divine mind. For the sake of this idea the world was 
made, and for this reason it may be said that by this 
ideal man all things were made. 

This idea of moral perfection, called Christ by Kant, 
is the prototype of perfect purity, and is placed before 
us as an ideal which each person ought to strive to 
realize. The idea itself, " which reason presents to us 
for imitation," can give us the power necessary for 
this imitation. But since we are not the originators 
of this idea, and as it has taken root in man when 
there is no possibility of our understanding how he 
could be receptive for such an idea, " it is better to 
say that this prototype came down to us from heaven, 
namely, that it became incarnate." The union of this 
ideal of perfect humanity with man maybe regarded 
as a condescension on the part of the Son of God, if 
this divinely inclined person, who, being holy, was not 
obliged to undergo suffering, is viewed as nevertheless 
taking upon Himself the greatest suffering for the 
benefit of the world. We cannot conceive of this ideal 
of humanity otherwise than under the idea of a man 
who not only performs every duty and promotes good 
to the utmost, but who also, in spite of the greatest 
temptations, is ready to submit to all suffering, even 


to the most disgraceful death, for the welfare of the 
world and even for His enemies ; for it is only when 
we conceive of a power as in conflict with difficulties 
and temptations, that we get an idea of its greatness. 

In this discussion Kant forcibly proves his confi 
dence in the miraculous power of a mere idea. He 
regards this as Christ s significance for man : by prac 
tical faith in this Son of God (or in this perfect idea 
of man) a person may hope to be acceptable to God 
and to be saved ; that is, as Kant explains it, he who 
is conscious of such a moral purpose as to be able to 
believe confidently that under similar temptations and 
sufferings he would be true to this prototype of 
humanity, and he alone, has the right to regard 
himself as an object not unworthy of the divine 

Kant proceeds to show that this "idea" has its 
practical value in itself, and that it exists in our 
conscience. " We ought to be like this idea, and 
therefore we can be like it," again closes all further 
discussion. And he thinks that it must be possible 
to give an example of such a perfect being, for accord 
ing to the requirements of the inner law every one 
ought to give a realization of this ideal. If now a 
person with such a divine Disposition had come at a 
certain time, as it were from heaven to earth, and 
had given in doctrine and in life the example of a man 
acceptable to God ; and if thus he had brought to the 
world an inestimably great blessing in the form of a 
revolution in the human family : still, we should have 
no reason to regard him otherwise than as a man 
naturally conceived, though this does not deny, abso 
lutely, that he might have been a man conceived 


supernaturally. But the latter view is of no practical 
value, since the prototype of the example given by 
such a person must always be sought in us ; and the 
very presence of this idea in us is itself incomprehen 
sible enough, so that it is not necessary, besides the 
supernatural origin of this idea, to regard it as 
having been incarnated in a particular person. In 
deed, Kant thinks that the exaltation of such a holy 
one above all human weaknesses would rather militate 
against the practical application of the idea, since it 
could not be the model for our imitation. 

In order that the Gospel may be of practical value 
for all times, Kant thinks that its history is of no 
significance, and that the popular representations 
which it gives must be deprived of their mystical garb 
so that we may get at the underlying ideas. The 
spirit and the rational ideas in that Gospel are for 
the whole world and for all ages, and each one can 
see in the picture, or in what he puts into it, his own 
duty.( 142 ) The ideas which Kant finds in the life of 
Jesus which are of significance for each person, are 
as follows : That there is absolutely no salvation 
for man except in the personal reception of genuine 
moral principles into the disposition ; that this recep 
tion is opposed by our own perversity, which nothing 
can conquer but the idea of the moral goodness in its 
purity, with the conviction that this goodness is the 
end for which we were originally created ; when this 
idea of moral goodness has once been fully taken 
into the disposition, we are to have confidence " that 
the gates of hell cannot prevail against it;" and that 
the characteristic mark or the evidence; of the pos 
session r,f this idea is the good life, lie closes the 


whole discussion with the remark, that such an effort 
as he has made to find the ideas of reason in Scripture 
is not only proper but also a duty. 

For Kant, therefore, Christ has significance only 
as a mere idea, namely, the ideal of perfect humanity 
in the divine mind. He valued history too little to 
attempt seriously to account for the historical origin 
of this idea, or to investigate the relation of the his 
torical Christ to the account given in the gospels. 
The moral teachings of Christ he valued highly as an 
aid to reason, and he states that they are sufficient to 
establish Christ s authority, whatever the real history 
may be ; in other words, he regards the moral truths 
of the Gospel as alone significant. Kant thought 
that he found in the New Testament itself authority 
for the use which he made of Scripture, and he says 
that Christ did not appeal to other laws, such as 
those of the Old Testament, because they are true ; 
but that this was merely an accommodation to the 
prejudices of the people, in order that the rational 
religion which Christ taught might be made more 
palatable to them. Whether Christ gave what might 
be called a divine revelation, cannot be determined, 
he thinks, for we have no criteria by which to judge 
such a revelation. Nor can it be proved that any 
event is a miracle, simply because we do not under 
stand the powers of nature enough to know what 
transcends their limits. Kant declares that it is pos 
sible that the person of the teacher of the only reli 
gion valid for all mankind was a mystery ; that His 
appearance on earth, His removal from the same, His 
life and His sufferings, were all miracles ; and that 
even the history which is to confirm all these miracles 


is itself a miracle, namely, a supernatural revelation. 
But this must rest on its own merits ; for us it really 
has no significance. We may, indeed, still value the 
garb which served to introduce the idea which is now 
indelibly impressed on every soul and needs no miracle ; 
but a confession of faith in these historical ducuments 
is not necessary. While he thus treats the historical 
account of Jesus as of no significance except as a shell 
into which the practical reason puts the kernel, his 
whole argument tends to destroy faith in the historic 
person of Jesus as given in the Gospel, treating the 
account itself as something whose truthfulness it is 
not worth while to investigate. Of the institution of 
the Last Supper he speaks as "a sad intercourse," and 
as looking like a formal farewell, indicating no speedy 
return ; and " the complaining words on the Cross 
give expression to a disappointed aim (namely, to bring, 
during his life, the Jews to the reception of the true 
religion)." The account of the Resurrection and 
Ascension he can use only as an embodiment of the 
idea of the beginning of another life and the entrance 
into the place of happiness, that is, upon communion 
with all that is good. When Jesus promises to abide 
with His own for ever, that only means that the ideal 
of humanity, which Christ gave and which is accep 
table to God, shall abide with His disciples to the end 
of the world. The historical Christ is in reality not 
needed for morality ; but as the Gospel exists, He can 
be used for moral purposes. ( H3 ) 

While Kant idealized the account of the Fall, and 
denied natural depravity, he nevertheless, as we have 
seen, admitted the reality of sin. Its essence consists 
neither in sensuality nor in a corruption of conscience. 


There are two opposite tendencies in man : a con 
science which impels him to seek the good, and an 
impulse to selfishness. One or the other of these 
must be supreme, and depravity consists in perverting 
the proper relation between the two, namely, in the 
subordination of the conscience to self-love. There 
fore sin, whose beginning is always a free choice, but 
inexplicable, is selfishness as the supreme law of 

In order that he may overcome sin and become 
good, man needs a radical change or conversion. 
This change from evil to good can no more be ex 
plained than can the transition from a state of purity 
to sin ; but since the moral law demands that we be 
come better, therefore we must also be able to do so. 
This conversion is wholly man s work, and the Chris 
tian doctrine of grace and faith in conversion has no 
place in the system. Kant says that we can know 
nothing about the influences of grace, and that, con 
sequently, the idea can neither be used speculatively 
nor practically. While the deeds of a man are always 
imperfect, Kant supposes that God takes the good 
intention for the good deed, and that he who has a 
good disposition may cherish the belief that God 
accepts him. This is, of course, a mere supposition, 
but it is all the assurance which Kant gives. 

His most serious difficulty, however, consists in this : 
although a man may have formed a good disposition, 
he was sinful before ; how then is the debt of the past 
to be paid ? Sin is an infinite violation of the law, and 
it therefore seems as if its result ought to be endless 
punishment. The debt contracted is not like a pecu 
niary debt, which one man can pay for another. The 


old man did not pay it ; the new man is, as it were, a 
new being, and cannot assume the debt owed by the 
old man yet divine justice must be satisfied. Some 
how, therefore, the debt must be paid in the process 
of conversion. But Kant s whole discussion of the 
matter is confused and unsatisfactory, and at last he 
admits, and distinctly states, that man has no claim to 
be regarded as just, and that he is accounted righteous 
as a matter of grace. 

His discussion of the Church is characterized by 
great bitterness, partly owing, no doubt, to his ex 
perience with the censors in Berlin. He says that the 
strait gate and the narrow way, leading to eternal life, 
is the good life ; but the wide gate and the broad way 
is the Church. Not that the Church itself is to blame for 
this ; but it is the broad way because attending church, 
confessing its creed, and celebrating its ordinances, are 
held to be the means for becoming acceptable unto 

His aversion to formality in religion was partly due 
to the tendency of the times to value forms for their own 
sake, and he went so far in his opposition to this spirit 
as to reject all religious observances. He spoke con 
temptuously of all acts of worship ; and all efforts to 
please God otherwise than by means of a moral life he 
pronounced fetichism. And he declared that between 
the degraded Wogulite who in the morning places the 
paw of a bearskin on his head with the prayer, " Do 
not kill me, and " the sublimated Puritan and Inde 
pendent in Connecticut," there is, indeed, a great gulf 
as far as the manifestations of their faith are concerned, 
but there is none in principle, they belonging to the 
same class in that respect. This class consists of those 

A a 


who place their divine service in that which does not 
make men better, namely, in faith in statutory dogmas 
or in the observance of certain ceremonies. Kant pro 
nounces it fetichism to regard any religious obser 
vances, however few they may be, as necessary. 
Holding such views, it is not surprising that for many 
years he never attended church, and observed no re 
ligious usages whatever. When a new rector of the 
university was inaugurated, the professors marched in 
procession to the cathedral, to attend religious services ; 
but unless he himself was the rector, Kant, instead of 
entering, passed by the church. 

He did not like the singing in the churches, and pro 
nounced it mere bawling. In prayer, whether private 
or public, he had not the least faith ; and in his con 
versation as well as writings he treated it as a super 
stition, and held that to address any thing unseen 
would open the way for fanaticism. Not only did he 
argue against prayer, but he also ridiculed it, and 
declared that a man would be ashamed to be caught 
by another in the attitude of prayer. ( 144 ) It is the cus 
tom of Germans to stand at table while asking the 
blessing ; if any one of his guests prepared to say 
grace, he would interrupt him by urging him to sit 
down. In 1802 Hasse said one day, " This is the day 
set apart for repentance and prayer." Kant at first 
ridiculed the matter, but afterwards admitted that such 
a day might be useful in leading persons to think of 
their sins. 

But while in principle Kant views prayer as 
fetichism, his estimate of expediency should not be for 
gotten. He says, " The existence of God is not proved 
but postulated, and it can be used only for that purpose 

PRAYER. 355 

for tho sake of which reason was obliged to postulate 
it. If now a man thinks to himself, If I pray to God 
it can in no way injure me; for if He does not exist, 
then I have a supererogation of good works; but if 11(3 
does exist, it will help me ; this prosopopceia is hypo 
crisy, since we must suppose in prayer that he who 
offers it is perfectly convinced that God exists. There 
fore it happens that he who lias already made great 
progress in goodness ceases to pray, for sincerity be 
longs to his principal maxims ; and for this reason, 
also, those who are found praying are ashamed." 
Kant here makes the existence of God so problematical 
as to put prayer to Him out of the question. The 
reason did not postulate the existence of God for the 
purpose of prayer ; therefore the idea of His existence 
does not justify prayer. But while he is certain that 
prayer has no efficacy whatever, except its influence on 
the men offering or hearing it, he nevertheless says, 
" In public addresses to the people, prayer may be re 
tained, since it may really be of great rhetorical effect 
and may make a deep impression, and because in 
addressing the people one must speak to their sen- 
suousness, and must let himself down to them as much 
as possible." ( H5 ) 

These are the essential elements of the religious views 
which the philosopher cherished till the close of life. 
Thinking it contemptible for any one to become de 
vout in the weakness of old age, he declared that this 
should never be the case with him; and he kept his 
promise, for during his greatest weakness and with 
death staring him in the face, there was a remarkable 
absence of all religious expressions. It is self-evident 
that his faith could not be very cheerful, nor his hopes 


bright. His mind left many questions unsettled, 
questions concerning which souls of a deeply religious 
nature long for firm assurance. It is not strange that 
the faith which he built on his own postulates varied 
somewhat with his moods. While the close of his life 
was anything but cheerful, he seems generally to have 
been calm respecting religious subjects. His emotional 
nature does not appear to have asserted itself suffi 
ciently to express any earnest longing for eternal life. 
The other world was not one of his favourite topics of 
conversation, and he himself followed the rule which he 
laid down for others, not to attempt to pry into the 
secrets of the other world, but to wait for the solution 
of its mysteries till we get there. Sometimes, however, 
the other life was mentioned in his conversations. 
Some one said to him that it would be difficult to get 
an opportunity, in the next world, to converse with 
him, since he would be so much occupied with the 
company of the wise of ancient and modern times. 
Kant answered that if he met his servant Lampe there, 
he would rejoice and exclaim, " God be praised, I am 
in good company ! " On July 2nd, 1803, while in 
a depressed mood, he said, "I cannot last long; I 
become weaker every day." Hasse then asked him 
what he expected of the future life ? At first he evaded 
the question, and then answered, "Nothing definite." 
At another time he said respecting the next life, " Of 
that state I know nothing." And once he exclaimed, 
" Eternity ! between thee and here a great gulf is 

He did not cherish a high regard for clergymen ; but 
the same must be said of his views of physicians and 
jurists. If the ministers had been purely moral 


teachers, instead of proclaiming doctrines which lie 
regarded as beyond the limits of reason, he would have 
been more favourably disposed towards them. If, how 
ever, they were excellent men, their calling did not de 
prive them of his esteem, and several preachers were 
among his guests ; and when in old age he became 
helpless, he committed himself and all his affairs into 
the hands of a clerical friend. 

The fact that Kant deprived religion, aside from its 
moral elements, of all significance, as well as his 
personal attitude towards the Church, greatly grieved 
some of his friends. His great authority in philosophy 
added weight to his theological views, especially since 
his work on Religion appeared when his fame was at 
its height. His biographer Borowski says, " From 
my heart I wish that Kant had not regarded the 
Christian religion merely as a necessity for the state, 
or as an institution to be tolerated for the sake of the 
weak (which now so many, following his example, do 
even in the pulpit), but had known that which is 
positive, improving, and blessed in Christianity." 
Some of his disciples in philosophy also accepted him 
as their religious authority, and the same writer 
expresses the wish that " the beardless youth and idle 
babblers, who in a hundred less significant things do 
not know the right hand from the left, did not appeal 
to Kant s views respecting Christianity." There were 
some to whom the very fact that he held such views 
was a sufficient guarantee of their truth ; and many 
also adopted his religious opinions who had neither 
his moral earnestness nor his outward respect for exist 
ing institutions. There were those who accepted his 
negative views, and carried them to an extreme svhich 


lie would have deprecated, and committed excesses in 
his name for which he could not be held responsible. 
At one time it was reported that a band of fifty theo 
logical students, who professed to be Kantians, were 
open mockers of religion. Hamann states that one 
of them became a tutor in the family of a nobleman, 
and advised his pupil to reject, as priestly twaddle, all 
he had learned from his minister respecting religion, and 
to commit himself henceforth to the moral guidance of his 
tutor. The affair created considerable excitement, and 
was at last brought before the consistory. The tutor 
admitted the truth of the charges brought against him, 
and with four of his ilk signed a declaration that 
neither morality, nor sound reason, nor public welfare, 
could exist in connexion with Christianity. Such 
openly destructive tendencies were wholly foreign to 
Kant, whose hope was in the silent power of ideas. 
But while he did not seek such a result, he was anxious 
to exert a strong influence on religion. Not only was 
the ultimate aim of his speculation moral, but he 
also lectured on natural religion, and was especially 
desirous that theological students should be among his 
hearers, as he hoped by means of these lectures to 
produce a lasting reformatory effect. 

In taking a general survey of his theological opinions, 
it should be remembered that he discusses the whole 
subject of religion as a philosopher who places himself 
wholly on reason, and aims to move strictly within its 
limits. His early religious training, the religious 
character of the age, his mathematical mind, his dis 
regard of the historical element, and his depreciation 
of the emotional nature, must be taken into the 
account. ( H6 ) Above all, the extent of his knowledge 


of the subject under discussion should be considered. 
Although he subjected theology to severe criticism, he 
did not make it a subject of careful study; and this 
fact alone can explain some of his strange views 
respecting theology, especially the Scriptures, which 
are found in his book on Religion. The suspicion 
arises that his reliance on a priori constructions relieved 
him of the necessity of attaining that knowledge of the 
subject which many regard as essential for its thorough 
discussion. After speaking of the universal character 
of his learning, Borowski says, " Theological investi 
gations only, of whatever kind they might be, especially 
exegetics and dogmatics, he never touched." He 
neglected even the works of Ernesti and Semler, which 
excited much attention at that time. His studies and 
occupations were such that he could not be a theo 
logian ; and the writer just quoted, speaking of his 
theological attainments, says, " Really, his knowledge 
in this department did not extend beyond the dogmatic 
lectures of Professor Dr. Schul/, which he heard in 
1742 1743. . . . Many will probably find the story 
remarkable, that Kant, before he published his work 
on * Religion within the Limits of Reason/ carefully 
read one of our oldest catechisms, namely, the Basis 
of Christian Doctrine, which appeared in 1732 or 
1733. This explains the strangeness of many expres 
sions in the book, and his evident inclination to adopt, 
for his theological views expressed in the work, the 
terminology and exegesis prevalent during the years 
mentioned." In the latter part of his life, according 
to Borowski, he read scarcely anything in theology, 
except some works on Church History. In the funeral 
oration on Kant, his colleague Wald said, " He was, 


however, entirely ignorant of the new investigations 
of Semler, Ernesti, Noesselt, and others. His theolo 
gical knowledge scarcely reached to 1760. What he 
had formerly learned at school from the catechetical 
instructions of Dr. Sclmlz and finally in his dogmatic 
lectures, was and continued to be his entire knowledge 
of positive religion. No wonder that respecting it he 
judged thus and not otherwise." ( 147 ) But while his 
neglect of the study of the subject explains some of his 
strange views, it cannot be denied that his theology is 
interesting, in that it shows what so great a meta 
physician regarded as settled by reason respecting 
natural religion. And whatever may be thought of 
his theology and his ethics, it must be admitted that 
there is much in them that is rich and profound, and 
worthy of serious thought ; and his moral and religious 
views, as well as his metaphysical works, may give the 
impulse to new constructions. That these views are 
final could be claimed only by him who is ignorant of 
the developments in ethics and religion since Kant s 

The religious opinions of our philosopher were too 
revolutionary in their character not to excite opposi 
tion. During the reign of Frederick the Great there 
was no danger that the Government would interfere 
with their promulgation ; but a marked change 
occurred when Frederick William II. ascended the 
throne. His minister, Woellner, exerted great influ 
ence over him, and used it against the tolerance which 
had prevailed under the reign of his predecessor. In 
July, 1788, soon after Woellner became the Minister 
of Religion, an edict was published which bound the 
teachers of religion to adhere strictly to the confes- 


sions of the Church; and another, which appeared a 
few months later, placed the press and all home and 
foreign literature in Prussia under censorship. Three 
men after Woellner s own heart Hermes, Wolters- 
clorf, and Hillmer were appointed in 1791 as a com 
mittee to execute these edicts, and the churches and 
schools were placed under their supervision. Even 
before his book on Religion appeared, Kant had been 
an object of special vigilance, and it is said that an 
unsuccessful effort had been made to induce the king 
to forbid the publication of works by him in the future. 
The war with France, the home of sensualistic philo 
sophy and materialistic atheism, increased the vigilance 
of the Government, and in quick succession edicts 
followed each other which aimed at the suppression of 
all writings against the Christian religion. The re 
action against the liberal policy of the preceding king 
reached its height about the time when Kant s " Reli 
gion within the Limits of Reason " appeared. The first 
part of the book, on " Radical Evil," had previously 
appeared as an article in a Berlin monthly, in April, 
1792. The second article, entitled, " The Conflict of 
the Good Principle with the Bad for the Dominion 
over Man," was intended for the same monthly, and 
had been submitted to the Berlin censors, who, how 
ever, refused to permit its publication. When the 
publisher inquired for the reason of this refusal, which, 
according to the published decree respecting the cen 
sorship, he had a right to know, lie was informed that 
another instruction was on hand which the censor 
followed as his law, but whose contents he refused to 
make known. When Kant was informed of this pro 
cedure lie was greatly incensed. Determined to pub- 


lish his views, he submitted the rejected article, and, 
in fact, the entire contents of his volume on Religion, 
to the theological faculty in Konigsberg, with the 
request that they should decide whether the censor 
ship of the book belonged to them or to the philoso 
phical faculty. They decided that it belonged to the 
philosophical faculty, which, having examined the 
manuscript, gave the permission for its publication. 
The volume appeared in 1793, consisting of the article 
which had already been published, of that rejected by 
the Berlin censors, and of two other articles. The bit 
terness manifested toward the Church in the last article 
of the book may have received much of its inspiration 
from the course of the censors. 

Hermes, the principal censor, was very strict, and 
was watching for opportune occasions to increase the 
vigilance and severity of the censorship. A friend in 
Berlin wrote to Kant, " You see, we are under hard 
taskmasters, and Hermes himself told my publisher 
that he was only waiting for peace to publish several 
cabinet decrees which were lying in his desk." 

The publication of his book on Eeligion, in spite of 
the rejection of the second part in Berlin, was of 
course calculated to arouse still more opposition to 
Kant ; and the contents of the book were such as to 
embitter the censors and those who agreed with their 
religious views. The work excited the more attention 
because it was regarded as giving the theology of the 
Critical Philosophy. In 1794 Woellner, in the name 
and at " the special command" of the king, wrote to 
Kant respecting the religious views promulgated by 
his lectures and writings, making special reference to 
his recent book on Religion, and charging him with 


distorting and degrading many of " the principal and 
fundamental doctrines of the Sacred Scriptures and of 
Christianity." For this Kant is to render an account 
to the Government, and he is warned not to promul 
gate similar views in the future. In his reply, Kant 
gave an account and a defence of his course with 
reference to theological doctrine, and at the close of 
his letter he says, " As far as the second point is con 
cerned not to be guilty iu the future of a distortion 
and degradation of Christianity similar to that of 
which I am accused I think it safest, in order to 
forestall the least suspicion in this respect, as your 
Royal Majesty s most faithful subject to declare 
solemnly, that henceforth I will refrain altogether from 
all public discussion of religion, whether natural or 
revealed, both in lectures and in writings." 

After the king s death Kant regarded himself as 
released from the promise which he had made in this 
letter, and as again at liberty to express his religious 
views publicly. While some blamed him for having 
made the promise, regarding it as showing a lack of 
moral courage, others now censured him severely for 
publishing his religious views after the king s death, 
regarding this act as a violation of his pledge, and he 
was charged with duplicity. His own explanation of 
his conduct is, that he was very careful in choosing 
the expression, " as your Royal Majesty s most faith 
ful subject;" and that he chose it for the very purpose 
of regaining his former freedom, if the monarch 
receiving the promise should die before him ; for under 
the following king he would no longer be the subject of 
Frederick William II., to whom he made the promise. 
Hut if it was prepared, as Kant says it was, with very 


great care and with this mental reservation, then it is 
evident that it was intended to make the king and the 
censors think that he meant one thing by the promise, 
while Kant himself really meant something very dif 
ferent. Every one who read it without Kant s expla 
nation would naturally regard it as a promise to remain 
silent on the subject in the future. If neither the 
promise itself, nor the later explanation which Kant 
gave of it, reveals a heroic nature, it should be taken 
into account that Kant was already old, that such con 
flicts with the authorities were exceedingly disagreeable 
to him, and that he laid much stress on obedience to 
the law and submission to the existing authorities. ( H8 ) 




Early popularity as a teacher Spread of his reputation Neglect 
of the " Kritik " Its sudden popularity Poems on Kant and 
his philosophy Pilgrimages to Konigeberg Enthusiasm of 
disciples Influence of works following the " Kritik " Fana 
ticism of Kantians Opposition : Hamann, Kraus, Herder 
Silence amid abuses Influence of Kautisin at home and 
abroad Honours Subsidence of the excitement The return 
to Kant. 

IT is of course impossible to form an exact estimate 
of Kant s influence on metaphysics, literature, and 
thought in general. There was a time when his 
philosophy had gained a power which seems almost 
fabulous, and when its author was regarded by many 
of his disciples with a reverence which bordered on 
adoration. This great fame, the reward of long and 
severe toil amid difficulties, was the crown of his old 
age. "While his reputation in the last decade of the 
eighteenth century has scarcely a parallel, it becomes 
the more remarkable when we reflect that it was a 
tribute to profound thoughts lying beyond the usual 
sphere of literature and even of philosophical research 
thoughts which silently, without the aid of a school 


or persons of influence or any other favourable external 
circumstances, worked like leaven in the intellec 
tual world, and wrought a marvellous revolution in 

When Kant became a teacher, his local reputation 
for scholarship was already so great as to crowd his 
lecture-room. The character of his instruction rapidly 
increased his reputation, made him the most popular 
lecturer in the university, and attracted to his audi 
tory many who were not students. During his earlier 
years he stood in more intimate relation with his 
students than afterwards ; he sympathized with their 
aspirations, took an interest in their intellectual, moral, 
and social welfare, and exerted on many a direct 
personal influence. The popularity gained as a teacher 
was increased by his authorship, and long before the 
" Kritik " appeared he had gained an extensive and 
enviable reputation, though lie could not have been 
called celebrated. 

In the learned and governmental circles of Berlin 
he attracted attention by means of his contest, 
in 1763, for the prize offered by the Academy of 
Sciences ; and about the same time he was, as he 
himself said, " introduced to the public " through 
some reviews of his books by Moses Mendelssohn. 
Thus, already before he became a professor, he had 
won distinction as an instructive and inspiring lecturer, 
and as a profound, original, and genial writer. His 
reputation as a philosophical thinker was materially 
increased by his Inaugural Dissertation of 1770, but 
its influence was confined to a limited number of 
scholars. The first eleven years of his professorship 


did not add to his reputation as an author, since he 
published no books during this period ; but what lie 
had previously written was of such a character as to 
excite great expectations. Still, before the " Kritik" ap 
peared his books had not created a general impression 
that a reformer in philosophy had arisen. In 1779, 
two years before the publication of the " Kritik," Pro 
fessor Kraus was in Gottingen on a visit. In the 
company of several of the professors of the university, 
he made the remark that Kant had a manuscript in 
his desk which would one day cost the philosophers 
hard work. The professors smiled at the statement, 
thinking that this could hardly be expected from a 
dilettante in philosophy. And although he was highly 
esteemed in Kb nigsberg as a scholar, before the 
" Kritik " was published, his reputation in his native 
city was based less on his profound metaphysical 
speculations than on several courses of popular lec 
tures. Only after that work had given him celebrity 
abroad did he become generally esteemed at home as 
a deep thinker. 

Even after the " Kritik " appeared it attracted little 
attention for several years. Immediately after its 
publication, Hamann wrote, " Kant intends to publish 
a popular epitome of the Kritik for the laity. " It 
soon became evident that philosophers as well as the 
laity needed a " popular epitome ;" indeed, compared 
with Kant, the professional philosophers of the day 
might generally have been classed with the laity. But 
the " Prolegomena," published in 178;}, did not make 
Kant s master-piece popular. 

Besides his own popular abstract of the "Kritik," 


other efforts were made to bring its contents before 
the public. The first notices and reviews of the work 
were, however, not favourable, and philosophers in 
different universities spoke of it disparagingly ; it was 
evident that they had either failed to read or to under 
stand the book. A popular exposition of the contents 
of the work was published in 1784, by Professor 
Schultz of Konigsberg, with which Kant was so much 
pleased that he not only pronounced it a correct 
commentary of his philosophy, but also referred persons 
to it who desired an explanation of the " Kritik." 
Still the Kantian philosophy excited little attention. 
This neglect is not wholly attributable to the inherent 
difficulties of the book. The study of metaphysics 
had fallen into contempt ; and soon after the " Kritik " 
appeared Kant complained that that subject was 
greatly neglected by scholars, and was no longer placed 
among the profound sciences, and he thought the 
appearances indicated that speculative philosophy 
was about to perish. The learned were devoting 
themselves to the study of the useful sciences, and 
the great revival in literature made the department 
of belles-lettres so prominent as to push specula 
tive works into the background. These various causes 
led to the neglect of the " Kritik," and two years 
after its appearance the author spoke of the silence 
with which the book had been received by the learned 
public. In 1784 Hamann wrote, "The Kritik 
of Pure Reason is beginning to stir and to fer 
ment;" but the time for its success had not yet come. 
Kant s book on " The Basis of the Metaphysics of 
Morality," appearing in 1785, directed new attention 
to the author, and may have had some influence in 


preparing tlio way for the success of the " Kritik." For 
five or six years after the work appeared it seemed 
doubtful whether it would achieve any marked suc 
cess, and at the end of this time there were about as 
many voices against it as in its favour. In 178G-87, 
K. L. Reinhold published a series of letters on the 
" Kritik," in a popular literary journal, and these, 
more than anything else, introduced the work to the 
attention of the literary public. In 1787 a second 
edition of the book appeared. ( H9 ) 

All at once the work now became popular, and the 
praise was as loud and fulsome as at first the silence 
had been profound. The literature of the day began 
to teem with Kantian ideas, with discussions of the 
new philosophy, and with the praises of its author ; 
and these were not confined to literature, but are also 
found in the correspondence of the day, and they were 
frequently the topics of conversation. An enthusiasm 
was aroused which was all the more remarkable be 
cause it was occasioned by a cold and dry metaphysical 
work an enthusiasm which in its zeal threatened to 
overwhelm all opposition, which became contagious 
and carried with it others than professors and students, 
scholars and literary men. High officials in Berlin 
would lay aside the weighty affairs of state to con 
sider the " Kritik," and among them were found warm 
admirers of the work and its author. Merchants un 
accustomed to severe study took up the book, read it 
with absorbing interest, and became professed dis 
ciples of the Konigsberg metaphysician. A friend 
wrote to Kant froin Brunswick, in 1787, that the 
letters of Reinhold had created a great sensation there, 
and had aroused the liveliest interest in his system ; 

i: 1) 


and lie declared that though he was so far from 
Konigsberg, he was surrounded by the Kantian 
philosophy. Even while travelling, men would read 
the book, and this correspondent states that in the 
Hague he had found a man all alone in his room, in 
a hotel, absorbed in the effort to master the " Kritik." 
This is but a sample of the interest excited by the 
book when its popularity began. Not only in private 
social circles, but also at table in public houses this 
new philosophy and its author were eagerly discussed. 
Nor was the interest in it confined to the men ; women 
also took up the book, racked their brains over its 
contents, sought explanations of its mysteries, and 
professed to be disciples, as well as admirers of 

Significant voices were still heard against the 
Kantian philosophy, and it met with decided oppo 
sition in every stage of its progress to victory ; but 
shortly after its popularity began it was spread all 
over Germany, and within ten years after the " Kritik " 
appeared its author was on the pinnacle of fame. It 
would not have been strange if he had received the 
quiet and profound admiration of scholars ; but the 
popular applause bestowed on him is rather such as 
is accorded to military heroes or favourite party 
leaders than to metaphysicians or even to literary 
men. Many looked on him as a kind of universal 
oracle who could authoritatively decide important 
questions even outside of the domain of metaphysics. 
So great was the popularity of this philosophy, 
that it was held responsible for results of which 
it was innocent, and to it even the most absurd in 
fluences were attributed. Thus, Professor Reuss, of 


Wurzberg, felt it incumbent on him, in 1 792, to prove 
that the French Revolution did not spring from the 
Kantian Criticism. ( I5 ) On the other hand, there were 
disciples who wanted it to be made the law for every 
thing, who desired science, philosophy, literature, 
governments, religion, and life, to be conformed to its 
principles ; and it was thought that even postal affairs 
should be regulated according to the new transcen 
dentalism. ( 1SI ) 

From the universities it soon drove the remnants of 
the philosophy of Wolf and Crusius, and it became 
the prevalent system in Catholic, as well as Protestant 
institutions ; it is claimed that it gained even more 
ground in the former than in the latter. Besides 
Konigsberg, it was taught in the universities of Er- 
langcn, Jena, Halle, Leipzig, Gottingen, Wiinsburg, 
Mayeneo, Heidelberg, Ingolstadt, Erfurt, Bamberg, 
Dillingen, and other places; indeed at the begin 
ning of the last decade of the eighteenth century, 
lectures on the " Kritik " were delivered in all the 
universities of Germany. It was also taught in 
cloisters ; and in many cities where there were no 
universities, lectures on it were delivered before mixed 

The Critical system and its author became so cele 
brated that their praises were frequently sung by poets, 
who strove to compensate for the lack of poetic worth 
in their verses by an admiration which was boundless. 
The students, ever ready to do him honour, repeatedly 
celebrated him in song ; and BOOH after his death a 
number of poems on Kant were composed by students, 
professors, and others. A few years before his de 
cease, 348 Latin hexameters, celebrating the merits of 

n b 2 


the autlior of the " Kritik," were published in Konigs 
berg. These words occur in the poem : " Et lux e 
densis oriatur tanta tenebris." ( 152 ) It is not strange 
that Kant was sung by poets ; but the attempt to 
turn his metaphysics into verse is almost too much 
for human nature to bear ; yet such an effort was 
actually made, and the result was published in 1794. 
The whole was prefaced by an ode " To the Founder 
of the Critical Philosophy." ( 153 ) The verses following 
this ode bear the titles : " Time and Space, the Pure 
Forms of Sensation;" "Methodology;" " To the 
Reason ;" " The Highest Principle of Morality ;" and 
other equally felicitous poetic inscriptions. Even if 
these and other verses on Kant lack poetic inspiration, 
the enthusiasm which they display is an evidence of 
the wonderful influence of the philosopher on his 

The obscure and isolated Konigsberg became the 
centre of philosophy, and Kant was so celebrated that 
his fame was burdensome on account of the corre 
spondence and the visits of which he became the 
victim, though in many respects the calls he received 
were as gratifying as they were complimentary. He 
attracted many students to the city, who crowded his 
lecture-room, and many who were not students came 
solely to see him and to receive the benefit of his 
counsel and instruction. Among those who made 
pilgrimages to Konigsberg was Reuss, Professor of 
Philosophy in Wiirzburg, who one day entered his 
room with the remark that he had come 160 miles 
(German) to see Kant; no small undertaking in those 
days of slow and difficult travel. His bishop (Catholic) 
had aided him m defraying the expenses of the journey. 


Another Professor of Philosopliy, Memel,of Erlangen, 
came to Konigsberg for the same purpose. Count Purg- 
stall made a journey all the way from Vienna to visit 
Kant, and then, full of enthusiasm over what he had 
seen and heard of the thinker, he went to Copenhagen 
and gave glowing descriptions of his visit. The wife of 
a Danish cabinet minister wrote, " We had very definite 
accounts of Kant last summer. A young Count Purg- 
stall, from Vienna, made a pilgrimage to Konigsberg, 
and then came to us. We listened to him with great 
pleasure, because he had often seen the philosopher of 
Konigsberg and came to us from him with shining 
countenance, like Moses from Mount Sinai." ( " ) The 
tutor of the Prince of Brunswick sought to make a 
similar pilgrimage, but was prevented ; he, however, 
secured manuscript copies of Kant s lectures on 
morality and anthropology, and used them in instruct 
ing the prince. 

It is almost incredible that any man should have been 
t he object of such tributes of praise as were bestowed on 
Kant, the more so when the nature of his metaphysics 
is considered. The enthusiasm which he aroused was 
in strange contrast with his own aversion to all extra 
vagant feeling. A certain mania seems to have taken 
possession of many of his admirers, so that not merely 
to his philosophy but also to its author perfection 
was ascribed. "He lived as he taught," was echoed 
and re-echoed. The Kantian Criticism had apparently 
deprived men of the power of criticism, and the 
" Kritik of Pure Reason," of the exercise of reason. 
Those who called Kant the Master of Philosophy, the 
Hercules among thinkers, the modern Socrates, (he 
German Plato and Aristotle united in one person, 


were very moderate. One wrote, " God said, Let 
there be light ; and there was Kant s philosophy." 
Among his most ardent admirers was Professor von 
Baggesen, of Copenhagen, a literary character of 
some repute at that time on account of his writings 
both in Danish and German. In common with many 
others, he saw in the Kantian philosophy the salvation 
of the world. In a letter to his friend Erhard, he calls 
Kant " our philosophical Messiah," and states that 
he intends to visit Kb nigsberg solely for the purpose 
of seeing " the second Messiah." Afterwards he 
wrote that he had been obliged to abandon the project 
of visiting Kb nigsberg to see " our Messiah." He 
also wrote, " Next to . Christ, this man interests me 
most of the living and the dead." 

The glory of the " Kritik " was reflected on the 
works of Kant which followed it, and all of them 
appeared in large editions. When his books on 
morality and religion were published, they were re 
garded as part of the Critical system, and shared its 
popularity. Kant was lauded as the saviour of religion 
and morality, and some regarded him as the improver 
and perfecter of the Christian religion. In the uni 
versities, as well as in the churches, rationalism 
became prevalent, and by means of lectures and sermons 
it was spread among students and the masses. Mo 
rality, with the Categorical Imperative as its Golden 
Rule, became the watchword of the pulpit ; and God, 
freedom, and immortality, the trinity of rationalism, 
were the favourite dogmas. Creeds and the cultus, as 
well as the Scriptures, were now to be conformed to the 
Critical Philosophy and its religion and morality. A 
Reformed minister declared that the Kantian morality 


surpasses that of Christianity. Reinhokl, who more 
than any one else had promoted the popularity of the 
" Kritik," wrote to Erliard, one of Kant s most inti 
mate friends, " Kant s book on Religion has given me 
the indescribable comfort of being able to call myself 
openly, and with a good conscience, a Christian." 
Many others accepted Kant s construction of Chris 
tianity, by means of his rule of moral interpretation, 
as the Christian religion itself. Erhard was so 
thoroughly a Kantian that he said, " I am, as it were, 
a Pietist in the Kantian philosophy ; I can regard 
nothing in it as orthodox except what Kant himself 
has written." And he also says, " Kant s book on 
Religion satisfies me wholly," and he speaks of 
" Christianity as purified by Kant." In another 
letter he gives his views more fully. Pestalozzi had 
sent him a manuscript to criticize, and he altered it 
considerably ; the alterations were accepted by the 
author, and Erhard writes of him, " He says that the 
changes I had made were entirely in accordance with 
his views, for he, too, is convinced that Christianity, 
according to its essence, was never introduced, never 
will be, never can and never should be, since it is fana 
ticism incompatible with the needs of men. Only from 
a few passages can the morality which it teaches be 
interpreted as pure and excellent ; but to these, other 
superstitions and fanatical passages are directly 
opposed again. We will speak of this matter soon. 
I regard Christian morality as something which has 
been falsely imputed to Christianity ; and the existence 
of Christ does not at all seem to me to be a probable 
historical fact." These were the views of a man who 
not only regarded himself as wholly a Kantian, but 


who also wrote to Kant, " I can call myself yours as 
truly as if you were my real father." Another pupil 
and enthusiastic admirer of Kant, named Kiesewetter, 
lectured on his philosophy in Berlin. He found it ex 
pedient to make it appear that Christianity and the 
Critical Philosophy harmonize, but states that he felt 
it exceedingly difficult to steer between the Scylla of 
antagonism to Christianity and the Charybdis of 
hypocrisy. To Kant he wrote, " I assure you, dearest 
Professor, that at times I am placed in situations in 
which I need all possible caution, on the one hand, 
not to become untruthful, and on the other, not to re 
veal my views and injure myself." Some agreement 
between the Christian and the Critical system he thinks 
possible, and he appeals to Kant to aid him with 
suggestions. " I am convinced that it could at least 
be made evident that the fundamental principle of 
your moral system harmonizes well with the doctrines 
of the Christian system, and that if Christ had heard 
and understood you, he would probably have said, 
^That is what I meant to teach with my command, 
Love God, et cet." The philosopher Reinhold assured 
Hchiller, that in a century Kant would have the re 
putation of Jesus Christ. In some quarters it became 
quite common to draw a paralled between the author of 
the Critical Philosophy and the Founder of the Christian 

Kant s " Kritik " was intended by its author to put 
an end to all extravagant opinions. Henceforth there 
were to be no more dreams of ghost-seers, meta 
physicians, and enthusiasts ; instead of dream-land and 
the spirit- world, men were now to walk on the solid 
earth, with their eyes open, and guided by the light of 


reason, but with their hearts mostly closed. Philosophy, 
morality, and religion, were henceforth to be cold and 
stern, mathematically exact, and very proper. The 
result looks like irony ; instead of cold propriety, a 
new fanaticism appeared which seemed to be but the 
revenge of human nature for the effort to suppress its 
feelings. Neither in his lectures nor in his books did 
Kant aim merely to inculcate certain doctrines which 
were to be accepted by disciples, without further in 
vestigation, as truth. " It is probable that few 
teachers have so often and so earnestly warned against 
this as Kant did ; yet it is probable that he had more 
followers who echoed his opinions without testing 
them than any one else. Certain it is that he did not 
want them. To think for oneself, to investigate, to 
stand on one s own feet, were expressions which were 
constantly recurring. "( 1:>5 ) But instead of accomplish 
ing \vhat Kant desired, a spirit of blind devotion, 
which fanatically advocated a system not understood 
and often grossly perverted, characterized many of the 
disciples of Kantism during the period of its greatest 
dominion. The folly and extravagance are, of course, 
to be ascribed mainly to those who did not fathom the 
depths of that philosophy; but the same spirit is seen 
in Reinhold, in Fichte while yet a Kantian, and in many 
others who claimed to be the true followers of Kant 
and authentic interpreters of his system. "( l:6 ) His 
professed disciples differed respecting the interpretation 
of his philosophy, each claiming to be a correct ex 
ponent of the views of the master. Bitter contentions 
occurred in the school itself, and many and great 
abuses were committed in the name of (Viticism. 
Those who were opposed to this philosophy attacked it 

severely, exposed the folly of its followers, and added 
to the philosophical confusion.( 1<57 ) 

Among the opponents of the system were some of 
the most eminent men of the day ; but their first 
opposition was overwhelmed by the tide which for 
awhile swept everything before it and resisted all 
efforts to produce an ebb. The popular philosophers 
opposed Kant because he introduced reason instead of 
common sense as the criterion of truth ; many of the 
advocates of illumination opposed him because he re 
jected their endaemonism ; others, who wanted the Bible 
to be wholly renounced, objected to him because he was 
willing to retain that book in religious instruction ; 
and the evangelical theologians or supernaturalists, as 
they were called to distinguish them from the ration 
alists, were opposed to his subordination of Scripture 
to reason, to the subjection of religion to the position 
of a handmaid of morality, and, in fact, to bis entire 
theology. Men like Storr, Flatt, Doderlein, Reinhard, 
entered the lists against him. Schleiermacher must 
also be placed among the opposition, though his in 
fluence only began to be felt towards the close of 
Kant s life ; his theory of the relation of the emotions 
to religion was diametrically opposed to Kant s view, 
and he became the most potent opponent of rationalism. 
The adversaries of the Critical Philosophy subjected 
it to the severest criticism, exposed its weak points 
and the abuses made of the system by its friends. 
The ebb did come, and the reflux was as marked, if 
not as sudden, as the flow had been. For every ardent 
admirer of the Kantian philosophy there was an equally 
ardent opponent ; but for extravagance the professed 
Kantians retained the palm. 


Here we must consider the relation of scholars to 
K autism chiefly from a personal stand-point, namely, 
so far as it affected Kant himself. Among his personal 
friends, as we have seen, there were zealous advocates 
of his system ; but there were others, some of them in 
Konigsberg, who as decidely rejected it. Hamann 
opposed Kant s moral and religious views more 
emphatically than he did his metaphysics. According 
to Kant, religion consists in what we do to gain the 
divine favour, namely, in a moral life ; according to 
llamann, it consists in what God does for us. In his 
letters, which contain numerous allusions to Kant, he 
expresses the highest regard for his intellect, and praises 
the " Kritik " as a great work, but often speaks 
slightingly of the Critical Philosophy. ( IM ) 

But Hamann s opposition was less significant than 
that of Professor Kraus. The latter was a systematic 
thinker, the former was not ; and Kraus was far more 
intimate with Kant than Hamann. He had been a pupil 
of the great philosopher, was his colleague, and at 
one time his daily guest. While a great admirer of 
his teacher, he thought for himself. Kraus had fine 
speculative powers, and Kant spoke of him in the 
most complimentary terms, regarding him as one of 
the greatest minds the world had ever produced, 
and he did not hesitate to compare him with Kepler. 
In his old age he said to a friend, " Of all men whom 
I have known in my life, I have found no one with 
such talents to comprehend all things and to learn all, 
and yet in every affair to stand as admirably and 
eminently as our Professor Kraus. He is quite an un 
paralleled man." 


cism would have been especially gratifying to Kant. 
Kraus, who was a superior mathematician, did not 
condemn speculation, but he objected to the efforts of 
those who made it the source of all knowledge, and he 
opposed the flagrant abuses of philosophy because 
they were deleterious to the advance of learning. The 
conduct of many professed Kantians disgusted him, 
and he vigorously assailed their transcendental mad 
ness. In his lectures he spoke with warmth and even 
with bitterness against the modern metaphysic, which 
he described as useless, and thought worthy of banish 
ment from the universities. It was in the midst of 
the abuses of the Kantian system that he said, " What 
I desire and expect from philosophy is, indeed, accord 
ing to the prevalent opinion, something quite strange, 
namely, the improvement of the human race and the 
purification of the mind. It seems to me something 
monstrous that there should be any fixed philosophy, 
one named after a man, as, for instance, the Kantian 
philosophy." He spoke of the " Kritik " as jugglery, 
and preferred the more practical English and also the 
older German systems, especially the Leibnitz-Wolfian. 
While lie spoke with admiration of metaphysic when 
it occupied what he regarded as its proper sphere, he 
could not tolerate the metaphysicians " who either 
tried to hide the insipidity of their notions behind a 
web of an incomprehensible bombast, or else expressed 
their really deep thoughts as obscurely before the 
public, by whom they wished to be understood, as if 
they needed to shun the light of day." He was 
enraged at what he called the idolatry " of the coarse 
goblin, the Kantian philosophy; 1 he held that this 
system ought to be studied, but that the aim of the 

.). <i. VOX HKRDKK. 381 

study should be to enable men the better to stand on 
their own feet. " It grieved him when such a system 
became the occasion for young men, who had scarcely 
grasped the primary conceptions of logic, to talk 
vaguely about philosophy in general, without making 
any application of it to life and the commonwealth." 
And the statement is made that " in his lectures he 
never permitted an occasion to pass without giving his 
pupils the advice, by all means first of all to gather a 
fund of knowledge concerning realities before hearing 
philosophical lectures." 

AVhile the course of Hamann and Kraus shows 
that in its very home the Critical Philosophy met 
witli decided opposition even from Kant s personal 
friends, their antagonism has less historic significance 
than that of J. G. von Herder. Of all Kant s students 
he was probably the most brilliant, and in literature 
he became the most celebrated. If the three most 
eminent names of Eastern Prussia, during the second 
half of last century, were required, few, if any, would 
hesitate to mention Kant, Herder, and Hamann. 
AVhen Herder was Kant s pupil, the philosopher formed 
great expectations respecting him ; and Herder s forty- 
five volumes on theology, religion, literature, art, 
poetry, history, and philosophy, show that the teacher s 
estimate of his abilities was well founded. He deserves 
an honourable place in literature beside Goethe, 
Schiller, and the other distinguished men with whom 
he associated in Weimar, then the German Athens, and 
is worthy of the characteristic inscription on his tomb, 
" Light, Love, Life." 

There had been much ardour in Herder s attachment, 
while a student, to his favourite teacher, and this 


inspired Kant with the hope that he would use his 
talents and influence to advocate the Critical Philoso 
phy ; but in this he was disappointed. ( 159 ) Herder, 
impressible as he was, was too original, too much 
Herder, to become the disciple of another. What 
ever he learned he worked over into his own pecu 
liar texture and gave it the stamp of his individuality. 
While with his friend Hamann he was a great admirer 
of the philosopher s intellectual powers, he also, like 
Hamann, never became an advocate of his system ; in 
fact, this warm admirer of Kant became one of the 
most decided, most active, and most bitter opponents 
of Kant ism. Both Kant and Herder were original, 
learned, and great, but they had their failings ; both 
were very tenacious of their peculiar views ; both had 
bright literary hopes, and w^ere ambitious ; and both 
were very sensitive. Their early relation as teacher 
and pupil, their warm attachment, and the high regard 
of each for the other s abilities and attainments, should 
have made them friends for life ; but a coldness, and 
even bitterness, sprang up between them, which form 
a painful contrast with their former friendship. Her 
der professed to attack the system and its blind 
advocates, not the author; but in assailing the 
philosophy, he was not only unnecessarily severe, but 
he also cast considerable blame on Kant himself, who 
keenly felt the violent opposition of him whom he had 
been specially desirous of securing as an adherent. 

Herder s literary reputation made him a central 
figure in the war waged against the " Kritik ;" but less 
for this reason than on account of his personal re 
lation to our philosopher is the matter here considered. 
Kant s review of one of Herder s books apparently 


favourable, and yet with a slighting air and a vein of 
satire wounded the sensitive author, and probably 
made him more bitter in his attacks on the Kantian 
philosophy, but it does not wholly explain his opposi 
tion. Herder was the apostle of Humanity, a word 
which he was constantly using, and Avhose broad 
signification, including all the interests of man, charac 
terizes his entire being and tendency. The whole of 
humanity deeply interested him, also the world with 
its realities so far as related to man. The Critical 
system was too cold for him, ignored the heart too 
much, and put a. priori speculations where he wanted 
historical facts. As he sought the richness and variety 
of the tropics, he felt cold and solitary and lost in an 
Iceland, notwithstanding its sublimity. On the other 
hand, Kant could not appreciate Herder s fiery 
imagination, nor the warm heart whose glow is felt in 
all his works. Where he demanded reason, he often 
found fancy ; hence the enthusiasm in Herder s books 
and the luxuriance of his style were an offence to 
the Critical Philosopher. Intellectually they were 

Herder was the president of the Upper Consistory 
in Weimar, and his sad experiences in the examination 
of candidates for the ministry, as well as in many other 
instances, gave him an opportunity of seeing the 
destructive influences of men who were advocates of 
the Kantian system, especially those connected with 
the University of Jena, which was one of the centres of 
this philosophy, and where Reinhold was professor. 
At first Herder exonerated Kant himself from blame, 
and attributed the abuses to the arrogance and mis 
understanding of the system on the part of his blind 


followers ; but afterwards, when lie saw that Kant did 
nothing to check the abuses, he censured him also. 
Before the culmination of the furor occasioned by the 
new philosophy, he defended Kant against the abuses 
of his disciples. Herder regarded his works as calcu 
lated chiefly to fix the limits of thought, to purify the 
sciences, and to test the power of the mind ; and not 
as intended to exhaust the sciences or to give the 
contents of all knowledge. He thought the Kantian 
zealots made the mistake of imagining that in these 
works they had that knowledge itself, of which the 
great philosopher aimed to give only the boundaries. 
Herder therefore exclaims, " If the outline is taken for 
the substance, the frame for the picture, the vessel for 
the contents ; and if one then imagines that he has 
gathered all the treasures of knowledge, what a 
mistake, what an abuse ! " Acknowledging that Kant s 
works were admirable as a preparation for philosophy, 
he was not willing to admit that they gave to philo 
sophy a completeness and perfection which could not 
be transcended a view which for many Kantians 
was entirely too moderate. 

When, however, men began to swear by the words 
of the master without understanding them, and when 
the zealots disputed fiercely with each other as to 
which one understood Kant aright, then not only 
Herder but many others also became indignant because 
no one made a serious effort to check the confusion. 
Germany had suddenly been aroused by Kant from 
its metaphysical slumber and dreams ; but the awaken 
ing was followed by a wild intoxication. A hint of 
this has already been given ; but one must study the 
sources of the history of the last fifteen years of the 


eighteenth century in order to form a just conception 
of the confusion, the contradictions, the criminations 
and recriminations, the intolerance and arrogance, 
prevalent among the professed followers of the Kantian 
philosophy. Herder, in the literary centre of Germany, 
saw many evidences of this madness, and says that the 
intolerance with which the Kantians, " seated on their 
universal tribunal, speak, condemn, praise, and reject, 
has become as disgusting to the healthy part of 
Germany as it must be averse to the tolerant nature of 
the author of this philosophy and to his thoughtful 
love of the truth. To aim, by means of fire and 
sword, scorn and derision, to introduce a Critical 
Philosophy which emphatically disclaims all intention 
of preaching dogmatism, is the most miserable 
despotism." Of Kant s works he writes, " They will 
remain. Their spirit, even if embodied in other forms 
and clothed in other words, will, in substance, continue 
io work and to live. It has already accomplished 
much, and its influence is seen in almost every depart 
ment of human investigation. Through Kant the 
mind has received a new impetus, not merely to sift 
the old, but also (which is the principal aim of philo 
sophy) to give a systematic arrangement to the sciences 
which are peculiarly human." But while thus praising 
Kant, Herder was unwilling to have the claims of other 
philosophers ignored, and lie opposed those who spoke 
of the Kantian system as wholly new and original, and 
said of its author, " Surely, his most presumptuous 
admirer will not claim that everything in his works is 
7U W. in tli is case it is not proper, as has often been 
done, to place all the philosophers of antiquity on their 
heads in order that the latest may alone stand on his 

c c 


feet." Herder claimed that much of what Kant 
taught had long ago been said in other words, and 
that for many things in the Critical Philosophy the 
way had been prepared by men like Hume, Rousseau, 
and Lambert. He says, " Kant s * Kritik so deeply 
affects the minds of the present because the way for 
it had been so well prepared, and because it was able 
to bring to light a thousand existing but obscure 
notions.( 1GO ) 

Herder s opposition to this philosophy became more 
decided when he perceived the increase of its abuses, 
and found that some of its advocates opposed the 
Christian religion in its name. After Fichte had 
declared in Jena, " In five years there will be no more 
Christian religion ; reason is our religion," even some 
theological professors were led astray. Theological 
students, examined by Herder, gave impertinent 
answers, and a talented young man wrote an article 
against marriage, and at the same time urged the Con 
sistory to give him an appointment as a pastor. 
Sacred things were ridiculed, and Christianity was 
treated as a superstition. Herder then wrote his 
" Metakritik " and " Kalligone " against the Critical 
Philosophy. Anxious that Kant should do something 
to check the abuses of his system, he said, " I will 
arouse Kant, by means of my writings, to declare him 
self respecting the perversion of his philosophy." The 
bitterness of his tone in opposing this system, he ex 
plained as follows : " The Kantian philosophy is to be 
regarded as a ferment; stupidity took the leaven for 
the dough. Hence this indescribable abuse. It is little 
of Kant that he, who knows better, leaves men in 
their error, and sacrifices truth to the vanity of having 


established a school. Time will reveal the truth in this 
matter. In my position, it was my duty to speak 
against the injurious effects of this philosophy as loudly 
as I have done ; I wanted to excite the Kantians so 
that they might hear me. A book in a milder tone 
would have been without effect altogether." 

These extracts indicate Herder s relation to Kant 
and to Kantism, especially as this appeared at Jena 
and Weimar ; and they also give us a picture of the 
times. The Kantian philosophy had taken men by 
storm, and many thought that it was final. Herder saw 
that it swept everything before it, and he said, " The 
century or the decade is drowned in the Kantian 
subtlety of words. A new man will arise and that 
deluge will subside. At present it seems to be in vain 
for me to contend with it ; only let holes be made now, 
through which the water may run when its time 
comes." This testimony of an enemy shows what a 
mighty power this system had become. 

Kant was deeply pained by Herder s course. The 
prominent position of Herder in Weimar, his great in 
fluence in literature, and his former relation to Kant, 
made it all the harder for the aged savant to bear his 
merciless attacks. To the question, " Whom did 
Kant esteem most among his opponents ? " Borowski 
replied, "Certainly none; least of all Nicolai and 
the great Herder. Of most of them he took little 
or no notice. He rarely read what was written for or 
against him." And Hasse says of Kant, " Against 
Herder he spoke almost passionately, declaring that 
he wanted to be dictator and was anxious to make 

The best disciples of Kant were not those who 


adopted his system without criticism, pronounced it 
absolute and final, and aimed to transmit it as finished 
and unchangeable to future generations. Such were 
the Kantian dogmatists and fanatics, who based their 
claim to be true disciples on the fact that they blindly 
accepted the words of the master and abused all others 
who did not do likewise. There were, however, others 
who subjected the " Kritik " itself to severe tests and 
tried to develop its well-established principles, while 
rejecting the rest ; and although decried as false dis 
ciples by unconditional Kantian s, they have promoted 
that philosophical development which it is the glory of 
Kant to have started. That men perverted his system 
certainly cannot dim that glory, and it would be foolish 
to make him responsible for the folly and extravagance 
of his followers. But was not his failure to check them 
blameworthy ? Why was he silent amid the abuses of 
his philosophy on the part of his disciples ? That he 
was aware, to some extent, of the disputes among his 
disciples, and of the confusion and offence created 
thereby, is evident from his own letters; and publicly, 
through the press, as well as privately, through letters, 
earnest appeals were made to him to give such 
explanations of disputed points as would end the 
wrangling about the sense of his philosophy ; and it 
was also hoped that he would do something to check 
the arrogant claims of many of his adherents. By his 
opponents Kant s silence was attributed to selfish 
motives, particularly to the desire to found a school ; 
and it was claimed that if the love of truth animated 
him, he would certainly break the silence, restore har 
mony, and disown the abuses of his professed disciples. 
While, therefore, some persons were loudly extolling 


his merits, there were others who as bitterly de 
nounced his course in these disputes ; and those 
who blamed him for his silence were not confined to the 
opponents of his system. 

If we place ourselves in Kant s position, we shall find 
that there was much to excuse that silence, even if it 
cannot be wholly justified. Although he was aware that 
there were abuses, he could hardly have known their 
full extent. Not only was Konigsberg isolated, but he 
himself withdrew more from society as old age advanced. 
His favourite reading, as we have seen, was not philo 
sophical literature, and he rarely read what was written 
for or against his system, and greatly disliked contro 
versy. Those in his own city who were in more imme 
diate contact with the world could see the abuses 
better than he did; and in a literary centre, such as 
Weimar, they were far more apparent than in Konigs 
berg. Then it should be remembered that Kant was 
anxious to complete his various literary projects, and 
was devoting his energies so exclusively to them as to 
neglect other matters; and even after devoting all his 
time and energies to his literary plans, he had to leave 
one of the most important unfinished, as his last manu 
script shows. Besides, he was really unable to enter 
and master thoughts and systems foreign to his own, 
and his friends would read on the philosophical disputes 
of the day and then give him their views. The whole 
conflict, therefore, lay largely beyond the sphere of the 
thoughts of him whom it concerned most. Kant s 
physical and intellectual condition was such, at this 
time, that he found it necessary, for the sake of his 
health and mental labours, to avoid excitement . For 
some years before his death he was really unfit to enter 


the controversy, and he declared that he must leave to 
others the explanation and defence of his system. 

In a letter to Reinhold, in 1788, Kant gives a hint 
of his feelings respecting the controversy occasioned by 
his philosophy, though at that time it was only in its 
beginning. In speaking of the dissensions among 
those who reject the " Kritik," he says that it is only 
necessary to watch them quietly, and perhaps take 
notice occasionally of the principal errors, but other 
wise to pursue one s plan uninterruptedly, and to 
cherish the hope that in the course of time everything 
will move along in the right track. This implies con 
fidence that the discovery of truth would be the result 
of the contentions. That Kant had a degree of satis 
faction in the disputes occasioned by the " Kritik," is 
true. A year later he wrote to Reinhold, " In reality, 
the general excitement occasioned and still promoted 
by the Kritik, together with all the alliances formed 
against it (though its opponents disagree and will con 
tinue to do so), can only be agreeable to me, for by this 
means interest in the subject is maintained. Then the 
perpetual misinterpretations and perversions give occa 
sion to make the expressions, here and there, which 
might lead to a misunderstanding, more definite ; con 
sequently, I fear nothing in the end from these attacks, 
even if they are treated with silence." He hoped that 
the conflict would keep the subject prominently before 
the public until the truth finally triumphed, which for 
Kant meant the victory of his system. 

The temporary excitement occasioned by the "Kritik" 
was, indeed, an evidence of Kant s influence, but it was 
only the foam and the waves on the surface of the 
great deep. On thoughtful minds, on literature, on 


universities and other institutions, be produced an 
effect which was deep and broad and lasting, and it may 
safely be said that no other factor in modern German 
literature has been so potent as his philosophy. Often 
where it is hardly apparent, this influence is deepest 
and most universal, because it is the influence of prin 
ciples which determine foundations as well as super 
structures. So thorough and general was the revolu 
tion in thought which Kant produced, that scholars 
were obliged to take sides for or against his philosophy, 
or else to subject the " Kritik " itself to severe criti 
cism, and winnow the chaff from the wheat. Every 
philosopher since his day, whatever else he might 
neglect, has been constrained, first of all, to determine 
his relation to Kant ; and even when other philosophers 
temporarily obscured the name of Kant, they really 
began with him and largely built upon his system. 
While others prepared the way for the " Kritik," that 
work contains the seed from which German metaphysic 
sprang. The effort necessary to master its contents 
made the book a discipline for thinkers, a test of their 
speculative powers, and the means of strengthening 
their intellects. The epoch in thought, which it 
created, contains the most eminent names in modern 
metaphysics, and Rosenkranz says, " With the excep 
tion of the history of Greek philosophy from Anaxa- 
goras to Aristotle, the history of philosophy furnishes 
no example of such rapid development of speculation as 
that produced by those well-matched heroes, Kant, 
Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel." Wald affirmed in his 
funeral oration, that Kant had effected a greater revolu 
tion in metaphysics than Newton had accomplished in 


From the hundreds of other evidences of the broad 
and deep influence of the Critical Philosophy, only the 
testimony of a few cotemporaries can here be given. 
One writes concerning Kant s principles, " I found 
these principles, especially the moral ones, in nurseries, 
in schools, in the shops of mechanics, among soldiers, 
at the desk both of the merchant and of his clerk, in 
the temple of the Christian, and in the synagogue of 
the Jews/ ( 1G1 ) Bouterwek says, " No other German 
author of the eighteenth century ruled with such 
imposing authority over superior minds ; no other 
writer found among his opponents so many admirers ; 
and there was not another who so powerfully affected 
all the sciences, and also the moral tendency of German 
mental activity, as Immanuel Kant." Another co- 
temporary declares, " In a short time the new 
philosophy exerted an almost magic influence on all 
the sciences, and gained friends and adherents even 
among the classes which did not devote themselves to 
science at all, or, at least, not to metaphysics. It 
aroused a spirit of thorough philosophic inquiry in 
Germany, of which the age would not have been 
thought capable ; and it contains such an inestimable 
wealth of ideas and opinions, that until now only a 
small part of this material can be regarded as having 
been appropriated, and from it new germs of know 
ledge may yet be developed in the remote future." ( 1G2 ) 

Kant s fame spread to foreign lands during his life, 
but the influence of his philosophy outside of Germany 
was very limited. Although French journals men 
tioned his name and referred to his system, the Critical 
Philosophy was not introduced into France till in 
1801, when Charles Yillers began the publication of a 


work on the subject, of which, however, only the first 
volume appeared, the demand probably not being 
sufficient to justify the completion of the whole. The 
disturbed state of that country was, no doubt, largely 
the occasion of this neglect of the great German meta 
physician. Although its principal thoughts were also 
discussed in other French philosophical works, his 
"Kritik" made but little impression on France. 
More attention was paid to it in the Netherlands. 
The Critical Philosophy was taught in Amsterdam by 
Paul Van Hammcrt, who in 1792 issued a compend of 
this system, and in 1796-98 published a work on it in 
four volumes. In 1802 the " Kritik " was translated 
into Dutch. 

As early as 1795 an effort was made by F. A. Nitzsch 
to introduce the Kantian philosophy into England, 
lie had studied under Kant, and had a good know 
ledge of his system, on which he probably delivered 
the first lectures and published the first book in the 
Knglish language. To Professor Kraus, who was his 
friend, we arc indebted for a description of his first 
lecture in 1795. " All through London Nitzsch had 
sent circulars announcing a course of lectures on the 
perceptive and reasoning faculties of the mind, ac 
cording to the principles of Professor Kant. In this 
prospectus, of which he sent me a copy, he offered, in 
order to secure confidence in his proposition, to deliver 
three lectures gratis, and to answer all the London 
philosophers who, after hearing him, might propose 
objections. When, on the 3rd of March, in this year, 
at 8 p.m., Nitzsch for the first time entered the lecture- 
room, lie found, what the equipages at- the door had 
led him to expect, a multitude of aged lords, ministers, 


young scholars, and finely dressed ladies. For an 
hour and a half tie read the first part of his introduc 
tion, which had been well prepared, and was appa 
rently received favourably ; but scarcely had he 
finished when a discussion of two whole hours arose, 
during which he was obliged to defend his position. 
In this he succeeded well ; and the result of this and 
the two following lectures was that his whole course 
of thirty-six lectures, which had been announced for 
three guineas, was successful. He completed it a few 
weeks ago with honour, and in this month of October 
will begin a second course. In the meanwhile he is 
having an abstract of his lectures published by sub 
scription." ( 163 ) 

Professor Kraus received his account from Nitzsch 
himself, who seems to have had sanguine expectations 
which were not realized. He was not successful in his 
effort to introduce the Critical system into England, 
and Borowski says, " Nitzsch was laughed at in 
London." Dr. A. F. M. Willich made a similar 
attempt, which was also unsuccessful. ( 164 ) In 1797 
and 1798 John Richardson published two books in 
England on Kant s Philosophy, but they also failed to 
excite an interest in the subject. 

Kant s fame crossed the sea, and became known in 
America during the philosopher s life. An ency 
clopedia published in Philadelphia, in 1798, contains 
the following : "It is certain that Professor Kant of 
Konigsberg has gained a great reputation by means of 
his original view of the intellectual and moral powers 
of man, and that the philosophers of Germany are as 
devotedly attached to him as the natural scientists are 
to Newton, or the scholastics to Aristotle. The 


Kantian philosophy is therefore a subject which can 
not be omitted from our encyclopedia." ( 1G5 ) In 
Russia, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, and other countries, 
Kant was also known. A letter from Bishop 
Lindblom, in Sweden, addresses him, " Vir omnibus 
titulis major," and calls him " Princeps philoso- 

In spite of his great reputation, Kant was the 
recipient of comparatively few honours from learned 
bodies, and he made no parade of those which he did 
receive. He was a member of the Academy of 
Sciences in Berlin, and also of that in St. Petersburg, 
and he was invited to become a member of the 
Academy of Sciences in Sienna, and to take part in 
its work ; he had been proposed as a member of the 
National Institute of Sciences in Paris, but his death 
occurred before his election. All these honours were 
conferred on him after the " Kritik " appeared. 

The excitement created by the new philosophy was 
too intense to last, and already before the death of 
its author all parties were disposed to view it more 
calmly and more critically. Fichte s Idealism was an 
effort to develop some of Kant s principles and to 
supersede his philosophy in part, if not to supplant it 
altogether. It attracted much of the attention which 
had hitherto been bestowed on the Critical Philosophy ; 
and while it introduced a new element of confusion 
and discord, it also did much to effect a more critical 
investigation of the principles of the " Kritik." Some 
who had been warm advocates of the Kantian Criti 
cism now forsook it, among them Reinhold, who 
had done so much for the popularity and defence of 
the " Kritik. Within four months after Kant s death 


Bouterwek wrote that the Kantian intoxication was 
over, and that there was danger that the prevalent 
tone would so depreciate his intellect as to put it on a 
level with ordinary minds. There were at that time 
enthusiastic followers of Fichte, just as there had been 
and still were of Kant. Their treatment of the 
Critical Philosopher is evident from a remark of the 
writer just quoted, " It is well known that the youths 
of the new school of Idealism speak of Kant as only a 

Soon other philosophers arose and gathered dis 
ciples, and Schelling and Hegel became the meta 
physical heroes. Kantian principles were, however, 
still powerful, and many who had been trained in the 
Critical Philosophy occupied important positions of 
trust during and after the wars with France ; but this 
philosophy gradually lost its adherents, till at last 
Kant was neglected. ( 1G6 ) But about thirty years ago 
a revival of the study of Kant began, and since that 
time the Kantian literature has grown to such vast 
proportions as to suggest a parallel with the close of 
last century. Naturalists, as well as metaphysicians, 
and, in fact, scholars of every class, favour a return 
to Kant, and regard the renewed study of the 
" Kritik " as the condition for a new start in philo 
sophy ; and philosophers again speak of themselves as 
Kantians, which, of course, does not mean that they 
follow Kant implicitly. Many thinkers want to start 
with him ; they adopt some of his conclusions while 
rejecting others, and favour especially his critical 
method. Some of those who are ready to take his 
name, differ from him materially on important 
points. ( l67 ) The conviction is universal, that he 


must be used critically, in order that he may be 
transcended. " The Return to Karit," which has be 
come the watchword of philosophers, wants to make 
him the starting-point, so as to enable philosophy to 
attain that goal which is a matter of hope, but not 
yet of realization. The revival of the study of Kant, 
the hopes centred in the Critical Philosophy by 
scholars in various departments of learning, the 
numerous recent editions of his " Kritik," and the 
vast literature on this work, are among the most 
significant indications of the deeper tendencies of 
German thought. 




Small number of Kant s letters Numerous correspondents 
Lambert Moses Mendelssohn Herz Erhard Maria von 
Herbert J. G. Fichte Kiesewetter Jung Stilling. 

WHEN we consider Kant s literary activity of more 
than fifty years, we are surprised to find that so few 
of his letters, only about seventy in all, are extant. 
That there are no more is partly accounted for by the 
fact that he neglected his correspondence ; then, all of 
his earlier letters and many of the later ones have been 
lost. In his letters Kant discusses metaphysics, and 
refers to his literary labours and personal affairs ; but 
we look in vain for that confidence, intimacy, and 
affection, which are common in the correspondence of 
friends. Many of the letters written to him remained 
unanswered, others were neglected for a long time. 
Nor was he careful to preserve the letters received, 
and he is said not to have left among his literary 
remains a single letter of his learned correspondence. 
After he had become celebrated, he received so many 
communications that they were an annoyance and 
a burden to him, and one of his biographers says, 
" In his last years he received many letters, from 
many places, and had to pay much postage, which 


greatly displeased him. Once he said to me that celeb 
rity causes much trouble. Continuous correspond 
ence, properly speaking, he probably had with 
no one." His fame brought him letters from Hol 
land, Sweden, England, France, Switzerland, Austria, 
and other lands, as well as Germany. Many of his 
correspondents revealed an unbounded confidence 
in him, and treated him as an oracle. Some of them 
sought a solution of intellectual and moral difficulties, 
while others asked advice on subjects which did not 
interest him ; he was requested to distribute lottery 
tickets, to secure subscribers for publications, to read 
and criticize essays, and to do other things which 
were both disagreeable and robbed him of precious 
time. A medical professor in Halle wrote to him 
repeatedly, in the name of several members of the 
medical faculty, to inquire whether he regarded vaccina 
tion as moral or immoral, a question much discussed 
at that time. A count in Silesia, who called one of 
Kant s books on morals " my compend," wrote to ask 
him whether it would be morally right to have the 
lady vaccinated whom he expected soon to marry. 
" Do let me know as soon as possible what the (moral) 
law says." The annoyance, much augmented by the 
fact that so many letters were not prepaid, at last 
became so great that he was on the point of resolving 
not to accept any letters unless he recognized their 
authors by the handwriting or seals. 

Kant s letters have already been so extensively used 
in this biography that little more need be said of them. 
The two which were written to Lambert are long and 
weighty, and have been found valuable in tracing the 
Critical idea ; they arc the most profound of his entire 


correspondence, and their style is similar to that in 
liis metaphysical works. J. H. Lambert was an auto- 
math who, in spite of great obstacles, became one of 
the most prominent German scholars of the day, and 
it was said that from Leibnitz till his time there had 
not been a more learned man in Berlin. He was 
eminent in mathematics, physics, astronomy, and meta 
physics, and in analytical power was probably not 
surpassed by any of his cotemporaries.( 168 ) He never 
met Kant ; but the fact that each had published a 
work on cosmogony led to a correspondence which 
extended from 1765-70. Not only had they writ 
ten on the same subject, but their cosmological 
views, formed independently of each other, were re 
markably alike ; their specialities were also the same, 
and both were mathematical as well as metaphysical. 
Lambert had a very exalted opinion of Kant, and says 
in his first letter, " You, sir, have looked with a keen 
astronomical eye into the firmament, and have investi 
gated its depths and the order prevailing therein." 
Kant also had a very high regard for Lambert, who at 
that time was the more celebrated of the two ; and he 
speaks of the remarkable agreement with himself in 
method, which he had frequently noticed in his works, 
and declared that Lambert was that philosopher with 
whom, of all men, he had the greatest similarity in 
thought. They had agreed to co-operate in meta 
physics, and expected much from this union of effort ; 
but this hope was frustrated by the early death of 

From Kant to Moses Mendelssohn we have four 
letters, chiefly on learned subjects, written between 
170(5 and 1783. The correspondence of these two men 


is peculiarly interesting from the fact that one was 
the most popular of the "Popular" philosophers, 
while the other was the most eminent of the speculative. 
As Mendelssohn had gained celebrity long before Kant , 
he did his speculative friend good service by intro 
ducing him favourably to the literary public by means 
of notices of his works. The fact that both had con 
tended, in 17G^, for the prize offered by the Berlin 
Academy of Sciences for the best dissertation on " The 
Evidences of the Metaphysical Sciences," led to a 
correspondence between the two philosophers. While 
"Mendelssohn admired the metaphysical depth of Kant, 
the latter admired Mendelssohn s popular elements, 
especially the clearness and elegance of his style, 
saying, " There are only a few so fortunate as to be 
able to think for themselves and put themselves in 
the place of others, who, at the same time, can present 
their thoughts so appropriately. There is but one 
Mendelssohn." And to his pupil and friend, Dr. 
Marcus Herz, Kant wrote respecting Mendelssohn, 
" To have here in Konigsberg such a man as a 
permanent and daily companion one with so gentle 
a spirit, such good-humour, and so clear a head would 
give my soul that nourishment of which I am hero 
wholly deprived." 

Mendelssohn had received an enthusiastic account 
of Kant from Dr. Ilerz, who gratefully mentioned his 
indebtedness to his teacher for the instruction received, 
and particularly for the personal influence exerted by 
him during their friendly intercourse. In writing to 
Kant, Mendelssohn says of Ilerz, " He has a clear 
understanding, a regulated imagination, and a certain 
subtlety of mind which seems to be peculiar to that 

i) d 


people.( 1G J ) But what a good fortune it was for him 
that these natural endowments were so early led in the 
way of truth. How many who did not have this good 
fortune were left to themselves in the immeasurable 
region of truth and error, and have been obliged to 
consume their valuable time and their best powers in 
a hundred vain attempts, so that they lacked both 
time and strength to pursue the road which they 
found at last after much experiment P If only before 
my twentieth year I had had a Kant ! " When Kant 
sent him his Inaugural Dissertation, Mendelssohn wrote 
his views respecting it to the author, stating that he 
would not have ventured to criticize it so freely had 
not Herz assured him that Kant would not find fault 
with such frankness. " Rare as this trait is among 
imitators, it is frequently a characteristic of those who 
think for themselves. He who has himself experienced 
how difficult it is to find the truth, and to convince 
himself that it has been found, is always more inclined 
to be tolerant towards those who differ from him." 

Kant s last letter to Mendelssohn speaks of the 
" Kritik," and he desires the opinion of his correspon 
dent on the following points : first, whether his views 
of analytic and synthetic judgments are correct ; 
second, Avhether it is true, as the " Kritik " asserts, that 
d priori we cannot judge synthetically of anything 
except the formal condition of a possible experience ; 
third, whether the last conclusion of the " Kritik " is 
legitimate, namely, that all possible speculative d priori 
knowledge does not extend beyond objects of possible 
experience. Kant suggests, as still undecided, an 
important question : how it happens that reason is 
impelled to go beyond its proper sphere a question 


whoso solution, ho thinks, is not very difficult. These 
points, suggested by Kant two years after the " Kritik " 
appeared, involve the fundamental doctrines of that 
book. Can it be possible that he had any doubts re 
specting these problems ? We are not able to stato 
why he desired Mendelssohn s suggestions on them. 

In 1777 Mendelssohn visited Konigsbcrg, met Kant, 
and heard some of his lectures. Writing to Ilerz, 
Kant says, "Yesterday Mendelssohn did me the honour 
to attend two of my lectures, a la fortune dn pot as one 
might say, for the table was not prepared for so emi 
nent a guest." Their personal intercourse drew the two 
eminent men nearer each other, but neither that nor 
their correspondence seems to have had any influence 
in assimilating their philosophical views. A few years 
after the "Kritik" appeared, Mendelssohn, in intro 
ducing a young man to Kant, wrote, " Without other 
recommendations, every youth who strives to get 
wisdom recommends himself to you." Having heard 
the rumour that Kant intended to visit Pyrmont, for 
the sake of his health, and expected to pass through 
Berlin, he says, " You would find open arms in Berlin 
and also many an open heart ; and among others, you 
would find a man who is your admirer, without being 
able to follow you. For many years I have been dead 
to metaphysics. My nervousness forbids all severe 
application, and in the meanwhile I occupy myself with 
less difficult labours, some specimens of which I shall 
have the pleasure of sending you. Your Kritik of Pure 
Reason is for me a criterion of my health. As often 
as I imagine that I have gained some strength I read 
in this nerve-destroying work, and I am not altogether 
hopeless of mastering it in this life." But he did 

n d 2 


not master it, the difficulties of the book being too 
great for him ; he, however, consoled himself with the 
reflection that his loss was not very serious. He wrote 
to Eliza Reimarus, " It pleased me to learn from Air. 
Rudolph that your brother does not think much of the 
* Kritik of Pure Reason. For my part, I must 
admit that I do not understand it ; therefore it is a 
satisfaction to know that if I go hence without under 
standing this book, I shall not lose much." 

While these two leaders of the rising and waning 
schools of philosophy had much in common, their 
stand-points were too different to enable them to 
appreciate each other. Their philosophic friendship, 
for it never was anything else, was based on their 
mutual interest in philosophy, not on similarity of views. 
Mendelssohn, the last eminent representative of the 
popular "Common Sense" philosophy, could not 
understand Kant ; and the herald of the philosophy 
of Reason could not esteem highly the school which 
the Jewish philosopher represented, and which the 
Kantian Criticism was intent on destroying. Hamann 
says of Kant, " He regards Mendelssohn s lectures as 
a system of illusion ; they are to him similar to Men 
delssohn s description of a lunatic." 

Nineteen letters from Kant to Dr. Marcus Herz, a 
much larger number than to any other person, have 
been published. They were written from 1770-97, 
and like those to Lambert and Mendelssohn, they 
belong to the most interesting period of Kant s life ; 
besides the scholarly subjects discussed, they contain 
numerous personal references and allusions to miscel 
laneous affairs. In tracing the genesis of the " Kritik " 
they have been found very important. Herz was one 


of Kant s favourite students, and in one of Ins letters 
the philosopher distinguishes him among his pupils 
for that- noble gratitude which so many lacked, and 
says, " What can be more comforting, when one is 
about to leave this world, than to perceive that he has 
not lived in vain, since some, if only a few, have been 
developed into good men." From another letter to 
Herz it is evident that Kant did not desire to have his 
correspondence published. Speaking of the proposed 
publication of Moser s correspondence, and of his own 
letters to him, he says, " I also pray earnestly that my 
letters, which were never intended for publication, 
may be entirely omitted." 

Dr. Herz, after completing his studies at Kouigs- 
berg, resided in Berlin, where he practised medicine, 
and also delivered lectures on logic and metaphysics 
before mixed audiences, Minister von Zedlitz being 
one of his hearers ; his practice, however, gradually 
drew him away from philosophical studies. He had 
considerable influence, and used it to spread the fame 
of his beloved teacher in the capital. His exceedingly 
beautiful and cultured young wife, Henrietta Herz, 
made her brilliant drawing-room the resort for the lite 
rary luminaries of Berlin, and men like Schleiermacher, 
the Schlegels, and the Humboldts, delighted to frequent 
her house ; and the favourite of Kant was eclipsed by 
the glory of this German Recamier, as she, who pro 
bably surpassed the French original, has been called. 

Of the correspondence with Dr. J. B. Erhard, two 
of Kant s letters, written respectively in 1792 and 
1799, and quite a number of Krhard s, have been 
preserved. The relation of this correspondent who 
was both a philosopher and physician to Kant is a 


good illustration of the influence of the metaphysician 
over young men. Erhard addressed him for the first 
time in 1786, when twenty years old, calling him his 
"most honoured teacher and friend" teacher by 
means of his books, for he had never seen him. 
Erhard acknowledges that it was to his influence that 
he was indebted for strength " not to be frightened 
by the mists of prejudice, nor to be misled by the 
glitter of dogmatism, but to be secure against the 
darts of the philosophers a hi mode, and able to 
penetrate to the light of genuine philosophy." From 
Mendelssohn he had received his first impulses to 
reflection, then he became a devout Wolfian, and de 
termined to do his utmost to fortify that philosopher s 
position ; and he states that he took up the " Kritik" 
with more bitterness than he had ever felt toward any 
other book, and began to read it with a view of refuting 
it ; but instead of this result, the bold young man was 
made, by the " Kritik," a devoted Kantian. His 
purpose in writing was to learn whether some arrange 
ment could be made for him to study under Kant in 
Konigsberg. Such an arrangement was made, and 
he formed for his teacher the warmest attachment, 
which lasted during life. Of his stay in Konigsberg 
he says, " Here I enjoyed blessed days in my inter 
course with Kant. The manner in which I spoke of 
his books seemed to surprise him. I asked of him no 
explanations, but only thanked him for the joy which 
his works had given me, and spoke to him no word of 
flattery. This ease in understanding him, which found 
expression in my conversation, at first seemed to make 
him doubt whether I had read his works ; but we soon 
understood each other, and were mutually agreeable 


companions." He was greatly encouraged by Kant s 
friendship, and it was certainly very flattering ; in few 
of the great man s letters is his attachment so marked 
as in those to Erhard. Of course, we must not expect 
him to be prompt in replying even to this warm friend, 
and in his first letter he apologizes for delaying his 
answer a whole year. Kant pleads their friendship as 
an apology for this delay, since so many other letters 
required attention, from whose authors he could not 
expect such leniency ; but he gives as another reason, 
the conviction that all his time, when well, should be 
devoted to finishing his books, a work in which he 
does not like to be interrupted. His regard for 
Erhard is evident from this statement, " Why did not 
fortune PO order it that the man whom, of all who 
ever visited our region, I would like most for daily 
companionship, might be brought into more intimate 
relationship with me?" 

Erhard s enthusiasm for Kant began with the read 
ing of the philosopher s works ; and there were many 
similar cases, one of which is related by Erhard. 
Writing from Gottirigen to Reinhold in 171)1, he says 
of a young student in that university who possessed 
extraordinary mathematical talents, " He heard of 
Kant in 1787, and, in spite of the warning of the 
bigots of the Church here, he began to read his books, 
and became in the strictest sense a Kantian. 1 believe 
that he would die for Kant." 

In Erhard s correspondence a Miss Maria von 
Herbert is frequently mentioned, and it is probable 
that it was through his influence that she became one 
of Kant s correspondents. Kant s letter to her is lost, 
but the three which she wrote to him are preserved. 


They reveal a morbid disposition and sad life, and 
also give some conception of the age and of Kant s 
influence. Her first letter, sent in the spring of 1792, 
through Erhard, who was a friend of her brother, is a 
wail of despair, and begins, " Great Kant ! I appeal to 
thee, as a believer does to God, for help, for comfort, 
or for counsel to prepare me for death. The evidences 
of a future existence were made sufficiently clear to 
me in thy works ; hence I take refuge to thee now." 
She had been deeply affected by his books ; but while 
giving her the hope of immortality, they did not 
furnish the strength she needed to battle successfully 
with this life. Erhard informed Kant, who had 
become interested in her through her letter, that the 
rock on which she had been wrecked was " romantic 
love." " In order to realize an ideal love, she committed 
herself to a man who abused her confidence; and 
again, in the interest of this same ideal love, she made 
a confession of the affair to her second lover." She 
was devotedly attached to the second lover, who was 
a man of superior endowments ; for awhile she had 
kept from him the story of her first love and its termi 
nation, though there had been nothing immoral in that 
relation. Finally, goaded by her conscience, she re 
vealed the secret, and as a consequence lost his affec 
tion, but received the promise that he would remain 
her friend. This did not satisfy her ardent nature, 
and the loss of his love brought her to the verge of 
despair, so that in her letter to Kant she says, " My 
heart breaks into a thousand pieces. I should have 
ended my life before this if I had not read so much of 
your works ; but I am restrained by the conclusion 
which I had to draw from your theory, namely, that I 


ought not to take my life on account of my sorrows." 
The powerful influence exerted on her by his books 
prompted her to make this earnest appeal to Kant to 
put himself in her place, and either to give her comfort 
or else to doom her. " Geben Sie mir Trost oder 
Verdammung." Neither his moral works nor his 
" Categorical Imperative" had helped her. "My 
reason forsakes mo just when I need it most. I 
adjure you to give me an answer; if you do not, your 
conduct will not be in harmony with your proposed 
Categorical Imperative. 

It would be exceedingly interesting to learn how 
the cold philosopher met a case like this, for he 
answered her passionate appeal ; and her second one, 
dated January, 1792, is in reply to his lost letter. 
Her second letter is very long, and makes it apparent 
that the deepest gloom had immovably settled on her 
soul. Every object had lost its charm, so that study, 
activity, and life itself, had become almost intolerable ; 
ill-health made her misery the greater, and her sole 
desire is to shorten this useless existence, in which 
each day has an interest for her (" who am young 
yet ") only because it brings her nearer the end. She 
appeals to Kant to remove the " intolerable empti 
ness " of her life ; and if she improves sufficiently with 
his help, she intends, several years hence, to visit 
Kouigsberg, but wants him to promise in advance that 
she may visit him. " Then you must tell me your 
history, for 1 would like to know to what kind of a 
lifu your philosophy has led you, and whether it was 
not worth your while to take a wife, or to devote 
yourself with your whole heart to some 4 one, and 
whether it was not worth your while to propagate 


your likeness." She closes with these words : " Would 
that I were God, and could reward you for what you 
have done for us ! " 

This strange letter of the noble lady, w r ith its familiar 
tone and its disposition to pry into the secrets of his 
Hfe, and especially into the reasons of his single state, 
must have shocked him. She was young and ardent ; 
he was cold and nearly seventy. Of course he did 
not answer this wild epistle. Nevertheless she wrote 
again, in the beginning of 1794, addressing him: 
" Highly honoured and most devotedly loved man ! " 
She thanks him for his book on Religion, and says that 
she had already found his " Kritik " quite satisfactory, 
but that it did not render unnecessary the works 
w r hich followed. The sentimental tone of the former 
letter is also found in this one, and she says, " Gladly 
would I command the course of nature to stand still, 
if I could only be assured that you would complete 
for us what you have begun; and gladly would I 
attach my future days to yours, in order to find you 
in this w r orld at the end of the French Revolution." 
She has become more calm, but is not yet reconciled 
to life, and she thinks that from a selfish point of view 
a longing for death is natural to every pure reason, 
and that only in view of morality and friendship can 
one who has the strongest desire for death be willing 
to prolong life. It was still her purpose to visit him 
with the friend who had been her lover ; but she never 
saw Kant. With this letter the correspondence ended, 
and he probably never heard of her again. 

A few months after Kant s death she committed 
suicide. She had carefully arranged all her affairs, 
and on the last day of lierjifc gave a dejeuner, at which 


she seemed to be very cheerful, and then she dis 
appeared. Her brother had defended suicide in her 
presence, with the thought of which she had been 
familiar for many years ; and in the papers left by 
her she appeals to the brother s justification of her 
course. The editor of her letters says, " It is possible 
that Kant s life kept her from the horrible act which 
she threatens in all three of her letters." ( 17 ) 

A peculiar interest attaches to Kant s relation to 
J. G. Fichte, and in the beginning of their acquaintance 
there is a touch of the romantic. Fichte came to 
Konigsberg when twenty-nine years old, in 1791, when 
many others were attracted thither by the fame of the 
great metaphysician. With all the zeal of his ardent 
nature he devoted himself to the study of the Kantian 
philosophy. He also visited Kant, who, however, did 
not receive him with any marked attention ; and he 
attended some of his lectures, in which Fichte was 
disappointed, since Kant had lost much of his former 
life and spirit, and delivered them in a drowsy manner. 
But for Kant himself he had the greatest respect, 
and he resolved to enter into as intimate relation with 
him as possible. About the middle of July, Fichto 
began to write his "Critique of all Revelation," which 
he finished in a little more than a month. On the 
18th of August he sent the manuscript to Kant, with 
a letter, in which he says : " I came to Konigsberg to 
become acquainted with the man whom all Europe 
honours, but whom in nil Europe few men love as I 
do. [ called on you. Not till afterwards did it occur 
to 7110 that, without the least proof that I was worthy 
of it, it was presumption to claim the acquaintance of 
such a man. I could have had letters of recommenda- 


lion. I desire only those which I myself write. Here 
is mine." He requested Kant s opinion of the manu 
script, and again called on him on the 23rd, when the 
philosopher received him with marked cordiality. He 
had read only a part of the manuscript, but from that 
he formed a favourable opinion of the whole. Kant 
entered into no philosophical conversation with him ; 
but for the answer to his questions and doubts he 
referred him to the "Kritik" and to Court-preacher 
Schultz. Fichte at once visited this commentator of 
the " Kritik." A few days later he dined with Kant, 
and found him very agreeable and entertaining. 

Fichte s letter to Kant reveals the same spirit and 
independence which are so marked in his patriotic 
"Addresses to the German Nation." In order to 
understand his relation to Kant, it should be remem 
bered that he was imaginative and enthusiastic, as well 
as self-reliant and heroic, and that he was eloquent, as 
well as philosophical. His letter contains this passage : 
61 Your greatness, excellent man, has, with all ima 
ginable grandeur, this peculiarity, this likeness to 
Divinity: that one can approach it with confidence." 
On other occasions he manifested a similar enthusiasm 
for the revered Kant, whom he, at that time, regarded 
as the ideal philosopher. Once he was present while 
the guests at a table, in a hotel in Konigsberg, were 
discussing the immortality of the soul. A captain, 
who was especially pronounced in his doubts, appealed 
to Kant s authority, declaring that lie would not have 
claimed mere probability for the doctrine if it was 
settled beyond all question. Fichte was not acquainted 
with the disputants, but he listened to the conversation 
with deep interest, and said abruptly to the captai]i, 


" You have not read Kant." He then took part in 
the discussion, claimed that Kant had given invincible 
arguments in favour of immortality, and proceeded to 
give some of his moral proofs. 

Through his protracted stay in Konigsberg, Fichto 
became involved in pecuniary embarrassment, and in 
his strait he appealed to Kant to lend him money to 
enable him to return home. The aged philosopher 
had inspired him with confidence, and he wrote him a 
frank statement of his need, and made a modest and 
most touching but, at the same time, honourable and 
even noble appeal for help. The letter was dated 
September 2nd, and Fichtc s journal says : " On 
September 3rd I was invited to Kant s house. He 
received me with his usual frankness, informed me, 
however, that he had not yet come to a conclusion 
respecting my letter, but that for the next two weeks 
he could do nothing for me. What lovely candour ! " 
Three days later he was there again. Kant had, 
evidently, become interested in the man whose manu 
script revealed extraordinary ability, and he thought 
that by means of this production the author might bo 
relieved of his pecuniary difficulties. Fichto had re 
quested him to alter whatever ho did not approve ; 
but Kant erased only one line, the dedication to him 
self, which read, " To the Philosopher." During this 
visit he urged the author to sell the manuscript to a 
publisher, and thus secure the needed funds. He him 
self declined to lend him the money, but he made an 
effort to secure a publisher. That same afternoon, 
while taking a walk, Kant met Borowski, and his first 
words were, " You must help me, must help me quickly 
to get a name and bread for a bread less young man. 


Your brother-in-law (Hartung, the publisher) must be 
favourably inclined toward him ; use your influence to 
get him to publish the manuscript which I will send you 
this day yet." But the relief was not secured by the 
sale of the manuscript; Fichte was, however, appointed 
tutor in the family of the Countess of Cracow, to whom 
Kant had recommended him. 

Fichte s essay " Critique of all Revelation " was 
published, and in connexion with its appearance we 
have a striking illustration of the difficulty and un 
certainty of literary criticism. The book appeared 
anonymously, and with surprising unanimity the 
critics and reviewers pronounced it a work of Kant. 
He had already published three Critiques, and his 
disciples recognized this as his fourth. In his enthu 
siasm, Yon Baggesen called " the author of the four 
Critiques " " the Messiah of Philosophers." This 
general verdict respecting the authorship was the more 
flattering to the author because Kant s fame was at its 
zenith, and Fichte was unknown. The human mind 
is, however, subject to sudden and wonderful trans 
formations. Kant felt it obligatory on him to publish 
a statement that he was not the author, but that the 
book was the production of a young candidate for the 
ministry. After this declaration, those who examined 
the book of course saw at once, from its style and 
matter, that Kant could not have written it, and they 
wondered how such a mistake could have been pos 
sible ! 

After Fichte left Konigsberg he became one of 
Kant s correspondents. His letters from Cracow show 
that his warm attachment to Kant continued, and he 
professed to love him above all men. From Berlin he 


wrote to him : " In yonder world, the hope of which 
you gave to so many who had none, and to me also, 
I shall surely know" you, not by your physical charac 
teristics, but by your mind." He speaks of him as 
the man whom he honours "unspeakably;" and from 
Zurich he wrote : " No, great man, highly important 
to humanity ! your works will not perish ; they will 
bear fruit, and will bring about a new intellectual 
flight in the human family and a total regeneration of 

principles, views, and constitutions What must 

it be, great and good man, to have such emotions as 
yours at the end of one s earthly career ! I acknow 
ledge that the thought of you shall always be my 
genius to impel me not to leave the scene of activity 
without having blessed humanity." He regards Kant 
as the man who has made the last half of the 
eighteenth century for ever memorable with respect 
to the progress of mankind. 

The extraordinary reputation which Fichte suddenly 
gained by means of his book secured for him a call to 
the University of Jena. He was thirty-one years old at 
the time, just the age at which Kant became a tutor 
in the University of Konigsberg ; but, w r hile the latter 
toiled for fifteen years as a tutor, Fichte was at once 
made professor in ordinary of philosophy. Soon after- 
he went to Jena he wrote to Kant, giving expression 
to his disgust at the prevalent tone in philosophy, 
lamenting that amid the philosophical pretensions it 
was difficult to get a calm hearing, and still more 
difficult to secure thorough investigation and impart ial 

This is not the place to follow Fichte s interesting 
career the charge of atheism made against him iu 


Jena, and his flight to Berlin as a place of refuge ; 
his patriotic addresses in this city, in the presence of 
French bayonets ; his literary activity; and his death, 
in 1814, from a fever contracted while waiting on the 
patients in a hospital. An account of the termination 
of his friendly relation to Kant must not, however, be 

When Fichte went to Jena, that university, more 
than Kb nigsberg even, was the centre for the advocacy 
and the spread of the Critical system. But he soon 
developed some of the Kantian principles and formed 
his own Idealistic philosophy as found in his " Wis- 
senschaftslehre." To Jacobi he wrote in 1795 : "You 
are well known as a realist, and I suppose that I am 
a transcendental idealist more strictly than Kant ; 
for he still admits a manifoldness of experience, but I 
assert in plain terms that even this is produced by us, 
by means of a creative power." 

Fichte claimed that he had given the system of 
philosophy, for which the " Kritik " gave only the 
propaedeutics ; this alienated and incensed Kant. 
Writing to Tief trunk, in 1798, Kant speaks of the 
" Wissenschaftslehre " as prolix, and says that it 
would interfere too much with his work to read the 
book, which he knew only through a review. Though 
this review was exceedingly favourable, he himself did 
not form a favourable opinion of the book, and was 
desirous of learning Tieftrunk s views of the work, 
and of its impressions on others in Halle. 

Although Kant depended wholly on others for his 
knowledge of Fichte s system, he nevertheless con 
cluded that he ought to repudiate all sympathy with 
its peculiar views. Accordingly, he published a de- 


claration in 1700, that lie regarded the " Wissen- 
schaftslehre " as a system which is wholly unreli 
able ; and that the assumption of Fichte that he, 
Kant, wanted to write only the propaedeutics to 
transcendental philosophy, not the system itself, was 
inexplicable to him. Such an intention, he says, could 
never have entered his mind, since in his " Kritik" he 
himself praises pure philosophy as the best charac 
teristic of that " Kritik." He also speaks of deceitful, 
so-called friends, who meditate our destruction, and 
quotes an Italian proverb, " God protect us against our 
friends ; against our enemies we can protect ourselves." 
Speaking of the Critical Philosophy, he says that, owing 
to its ability to satisfy the reason theoretically as well 
as practically, no change awaits it through emenda 
tions or through the influence of another system, 
however much opinions may change ; but that the 
system of the " Kritik," resting on a perfectly secure 
basis, is for ever established, and is indispensable to all 
future ages for the highest purposes of humanity. 

Fichte replied in the same journal in which this de 
claration had been published, in the form of a letter 
addressed to Schelling. He appealed to the fact that 
Kant, in his last letter to himself, had stated that, 011 
account of the weakness of old age, he now gladly left 
to others the subtlety of theoretical speculations, and 
found it advisable to devote himself wholly to the practi 
cal. Fichte therefore claims that Kant s own letter is an 
evidence of his inability to judge of the speculations of 
others, and thus shows what his public declaration 
respecting his (Fichte s) system is worth, and adds : " I 
did not regard it as persiflage, but could well think 
it seriously meant, that Kant in his old age, after a 

E e 


toilsome life, should regard himself unable to enter 
speculations altogether new." Instead of following 
Kant or any one else, he says, " The venerable man 
eight years ago gave me different advice, which I prefer 
to follow, always to stand on my own feet." 

Kant s declaration was certainly unfortunate, for it 
was understood to repudiate a system which he knew 
only through the representations of others. The 
statement that the " Kritik" was intended to give the 
system of transcendental philosophy, and not merely 
the propaedeutics to it, is equally unfortunate, since it 
is in conflict with his own statements in the " Prole 
gomena," in the Preface to the second edition of the 
" Kritik," and also in his letters. But Kant s intel 
lectual condition was already such as to make him less 
responsible for his utterances than formerly. 

Eichte, like Herder, from both of whom Kant had 
expected so much as disciples, became a powerful 
agent in destroying the supremacy of the Critical 
Philosophy. Kant s published declaration shows how 
deeply he felt grieved at Fichte s effort to transcend 
his system. From Borowski we learn that he some 
times spoke bitterly of Fichte ; and from Hasse, that 
he so disliked Fichte and his school, that his guests 
did not dare to mention them in his presence. 

Among Kant s favourite pupils was Professor J. G. C. 
Kiesewetter. He went to Konigsberg about 1788, being 
sent and pecuniarily aided by Frederick AVilliam II., 
for the purpose of thoroughly studying the Kantian 
system. After completing his studies at Konigsberg 
he lectured on that philosophy in Berlin. His letters 
throw considerable light on Kant s influence in that 
capital during the last decade of the eighteenth century; 


and his acquaintance with men in high positions gave 
him special facilities for learning the relation of the 
Government to Kant. 

Kiesewetter is another illustration of the remarkable 
fascination exercised by Kant on the minds of some of 
his pupils. He writes to his teacher as the man who 
" has my whole heart, and whom I love above all others. 
Never without the deepest emotion do I think of the 
happiness I enjoyed in my intercourse with you, and 
very often I recall the past. Would that I could once 
tell you wholly my feelings toward you, and how much 
I appreciate that for which I am indebted to you ! . . . I 
shall never forget what I owe you ; I shall always 
honour you as my second father. I heartily beseech 
you not to deny me your friendship in the future, and 
to grant me the privilege of occasionally writing to you, 
thus to recall the oral communications I had with you, 
which formerly made me so happy." 

This correspondent lived with the cabinet minister 
Count von Schulenbcrg, was the tutor of the princes 
Henry and William, and was w T ell acquainted in official 
circles. To the Chancellor von Hoffmann, who was 
a warm admirer of the philosopher, he was required to 
speak for a whole hour about Kant. Von Zedlitz and 
other men in high places, Woellner included, spoke in 
high terms of Kant and his philosophy. Iviesewetter 
used his position to cultivate enthusiasm for his beloved 
teacher. He was indebted to the Baroness von 
Bielefeld for his appointment as tutor to the princes ; 
and she was also his pupil, for he lectured to her on 
anthropology and taught her Kantian philosophy. To 
Kant he wrote, " What will you say when I tell you 
that a beautiful young lady, for that the Baroness von 

E e 2 


Bielefeld is, ventures to enter the mysteries of your 
system, and that she has had explained to her, and 
actually comprehends, the difference between analytic 
and synthetic judgments, between knowledge a priori 
and d posteriori^ and your theory of space and time ? 
Still more will you be surprised when I inform you 
that she does not study philosophy for the purpose of 
making a show of her attainments, for she is modest 
beyond all description, and one does not shine at our 
court by means of philosophy; and it will surprise you 
to learn that she neglects none of her duties on account 
of the study of philosophy." 

In these letters of Kiesewctter to Kant there is a 
strange mixture of Kantian philosophy, extravagant 
expressions of friendship, information about personal 
matters and government officials, court-gossip, and 
Teltow turnips. These small and superior turnips, 
which grew near Berlin, were greatly prized by Kant, 
and his friend was careful to forward them to him 
regularly. Once he sent instructions from his mother, 
through Kant, to the cook on the best method of 
preparing this delicacy. The philosopher at one time 
reminded him of the turnips, and in response he wrote, 
" Do not think that without your letter I should have 
forgotten you. The turnips had already been ordered, 
and I make it a law unto myself to provide for you 
this domestic necessity every year." He wants Kant 
to inform him whether they are to his taste. Indeed, 
Kant s interests included much beside abstract philo 
sophy, and the publisher of these letters says, " It is 
evident that these Teltow turnips, and the literary and 
political news, which play so prominent a part in these 
fifteen letters, were as highly prized by Kant as the 


fact that Kiesewcttcr remained true to the Critical 

It is not strange that philosophical minds should 
have been greatly attracted and stimulated by the 
" Kritik ;" but it is surprising that this book, which 
was intended to check religious enthusiasm, should have 
won the admiration of a man like Dr. II. Jung, com 
monly called Jung Stilling. He wrote to Kant that 
the explanation of the " Kritik" by Schultzhad given 
him such calmness as ho had never before experienced. 
lie had also read the " Kritik " itself, and the "Critique 
of the Practical Reason," and everywhere he found 
apodictic truth. In his enthusiasm, he exclaims, 
" God bless you ! you are a great, a very great instru 
ment in the hand of God. I do not flatter. Your 
philosophy will effect a far greater, a more general, and 
a more blessed revolution than Luther s Reformation ; 
for as soon as a man has well apprehended the f Kritik 
of Reason he sees that no refutation is possible. Your 
philosophy must, consequently, be eternal and un 
changeable, and its beneficial influences will lead the 
religion of Jesus, so far as it aims only at holiness, 
back to its original purity. All the sciences will 
become more systematic, more pure, and more certain ; 
and legislation, in particular, will gain extraordinarily." 
lie desires Kant s views on legislation, and closes as 
follows : " How peacefully, how full of blessed expec 
tation you can approach the evening of your life ! May 
God make it cheerful and full of anticipations of a 
joyful future! Farewell, great, noble man! Your 
tnii admirer, Dr. Jung." 

Kant had made preparations to answer this letter, 
and a paper was found in his handwriting which treats 


of the principles of legislation. Among other things, 
Kant wrote, " The universal problem of civil associa 
tion is, to unite freedom with a constraint which 
harmonizes with universal freedom and promotes its 



Sad life Early symptoms of old age Interference with literary 
projects Close of his lectures and literary labours Relation 
to the Academic Senate Wasianski assuming control of his 
affairs Loss of memory Visitors Undeviating uniformity 
Change of servants Method of retiring Exercise Approach 
of spring Sleeplessness Last birthday Failing sight His 
sister Strange notion of the atmosphere First sickness 
Efforts to rob him Loss of conversational power Longing for 
death Extreme feebleness Death Funeral Mementoes 
Will Kant Society Monument. 

DURING the evening of Kant s life the shadows gathered 
rapidly and enveloped him in deep gloom. The broad 
scholar, the profound metaphysician, the genial, 
humorous, and brilliant companion, and the man with 
an iron will, lost the power of consecutive thought 
and became helpless as a child. His life, as a whole, 
was a sad one, in spite of his intellectual pleasures 
and his great fame. The poverty, obscurity, and 
sensitiveness of his youth ; the self-denial and struggles 
of his early manhood ; his mental conflicts; the pain 
caused by the bitter attacks on his philosophy; the 
opposition to his religious views, especially that of the 
Government; the defection of pupils and disciples from 
his system ; the absence of all the cheering influences 
of family ties; his real isolation and solitude, in spite 


of the host of admiring friends, are the dark outlines 
of the picture of his life. Of inspiring faith and 
enthusiastic hope there is scarcely a trace, and, in 
reality, his religion was as emotionless practically as 
it was in theory. His position, his mode of life, and 
his habits, deprived him, in a marked degree, of the 
ordinary enjoyments, the pleasures of company alone 
excepted ; but he was generally calm and even stoical, 
and cherished the heroic virtues too much to moan over 
his lot. On the other hand, his rare intellectual joys 
and his delight in moral contemplations relieved the 
dark outlines ; and the solitude of his bachelor home 
was cheered by the presence of his chosen and de 
lighted guests. But he could not always live on the 
sublime heights of his speculation, or on the snow- 
peaks of his morality; and his social pleasures were 
not his life, but only episodes. Life to him was toil, 
and his recreations were only the means for exercising 
the elements in his nature not already exhausted by 
toil, and of fitting him for new exertion. However 
unsatisfactory to exalted minds the ordinary routine of 
life may be, he who leaves the beaten track will find 
his journey rough and difficult, and will experience 
that an unusual course has unusual pains, though it 
may also have exquisite pleasures. Looking at Kant s 
life as a whole, we are prepared to hear one of his 
friends and biographers say, " Who has not read in 
his writings, and which of his friends has not heard 
him say frequently, that he would not be willing, for any 
price, to live his life over again on condition of living 
from the beginning just as he had done?" His life, 
especially the later years, had so little attraction, that 
he admitted that if the choice were given to him be- 

SAD LIFE. 425 

t ween a life after death similar to this and annihilation, 
he would not hesitate to choose the latter. 

In old age the sadness deepened, while his few 
joys diminished and then vanished altogether. The 
former exhilaration of his mental powers and the 
buoyancy of his spirit were gone ; his faculties became 
so weak that he could not continue his usual occupations, 
and he lost all interest in passing events. By means 
of careful attention to his body, by extreme regularity 
and simplicity, and through the great power of his 
will over his physical state, he had succeeded in pre 
serving his weak constitution in a tolerable degree of 
health till old age ; and by successfully practising the 
art of prolonging life, he had extended his beyond the 
period of its enjoyment; and at last the resolute will 
lost its power and the mind its grasp, he sank into 
utter helplessness, and existence itself became a burden. 

The relaxing of Kant s intellectual powers began 
comparatively early, and there were marked traces of 
the effects of old age when he was only sixty-five. In 
1780 he wrote to Reinhold that age with it weakness 
was making itself sensibly felt ; and two years later he 
wrote to him again, " About two years ago my health 
underwent a sudden revolution without any apparent 
cause, and, excepting a cold of three weeks, without 
any real sickness." He states that his appetite has 
suffered, and though he has neither physical weakness 
nor pain, yet his disposition for mental labour is 
changed, and even the reading of his lectures is thereby 
affected. He could now perform mental work only two 
or three hours in the forenoon, then he became sleepy, 
no matter how well ho had slept the previous night; 
after these few hours of continuous labour he could 


work only at intervals. This state was beyond the 
control of his will, and in order to accomplish his 
labours he was obliged to wait for favourable moods. 
" It is, I think, nothing but old age, which obliges the 
one sooner arid another later to cease work, but 
which to me is the more unwelcome because I believed 
that I was about to see the accomplishment of my 

The early appearance of the symptoms of old age 
was, no doubt, partly caused by his frail physical con 
dition, and by his excessive mental labours, he himself 
being suspicious that it was in part attributable to his 
philosophical speculations. He thought it not strange 
that the metaphysician, who has to strain his attention 
in order to keep it fixed on the thoughts under con 
sideration, should become an invalid sooner than 
others. During the preparation of the " Kritik " he 
suffered much from indisposition, and it is probable 
that this work largely contributed to the early ex 
haustion of his powers, a result not at all surprising 
when the long, continuous, and exceedingly laborious 
effort necessary for the completion of that work is 
considered. ( m ) His intense mental application seems 
to have worn his brain till the power of recuperation 
was gone. 

His powers began to fail when he still had numerous 
literary projects, and the desire to use every available 
moment to finish them led him to defer less pressing 
matters, such as the claims of friendship and the 
writing of letters. In 1 794 he wrote that though subject 
to indisposition, he regarded himself as pretty well for 
a man of seventy, but that he had inexplicable difficulty 
in entering into the thoughts of others and forming a 


definite and critical view of their systems. A year later, 
in speaking of tho development of the Critical Philo 
sophy, he says, " My age and the physical incon 
veniences connected therewith make it necessary for 
me to leave to my friends all further development of 
this science, and to use my little remaining strength 
for the appendices of the same, which are still in my 
plan, though I can work at them but slowly. " 

Kant had on hand materials for numerous literary 
works, and he was anxious to prepare them for publi 
cation ; but he found that the debility of old age in 
terfered seriously with his projects, though he made 
everything else subservient to them. When he was 
seventy-four, it was his turn to be rector ; but his 
weakness and the desire to devote all his time to his 
literary labours induced him to decline the position. 
Not only his letters, but also the important books 
which he published at this time, show that he must 
have worked very hard, in spite of his difficulties. His 
"Metaphysics of Morals," in two parts, embracing 
the metaphysical principles of law and those of virtue, 
appeared in 1797. During the winter of 1790-97 
he laboured constantly in preparing works for the 
press, and as a consequence of overwork his mind 
and body suffered greatly, and in various parts of 
Germany it was reported that he was dead. After 
this his debility was more marked. For a number 
of years before this time his lectures had lost much of 
their former life, and for a year or two he had de 
livered only public ones; these he also closed in the 
summer of 1797. The commencement of his last 
course, in tho spring of that year, was delayed on 
account of his feebleness ; and when he was ready to 


begin it, the occasion was treated as an academic 
festival : the students formed a procession and marched 
to his house, in order to manifest their joy that lie 
who for forty-two years had been the pride of the 
university was once more able to resume his lectures. 

The last book written by him was published in 1798, 
on the " Conflict of the Different Faculties in a Univer 
sity;" in the same year his "Anthropology," consisting 
of his lectures on that subject, appeared ; afterwards he 
himself published nothing except a few short prefaces to 
the books of others. His "Logic " appeared in 1800; his 
"Physical Geography," in 1802 ; and his " Pedagogics," 
in 1804, all edited by friends, at his request. 

After closing his lectures he had no official duties 
in connexion with the university except as member of 
the senate, which was composed of the ten oldest 
professors. On account of their age and feebleness, he 
and another member no longer attended the meetings, 
and it was proposed to appoint two other professors 
as substitutes, so as to secure a full attendance. Kant 
regarded this as an infringement on his rights, and in 
July, 1798, he wrote an emphatic protest, claiming 
that, when necessary, the votes of the absent members 
could be obtained, as had been the custom, by sending 
to their homes. This last document of Kant in re 
ference to his relation to the university indicates his 
spirit and determination to maintain his rights. Finally 
the matter had to be appealed to the Government, 
which, in the name of the king, decided in his favour. 

In business affairs Kant lacked that independence 
which was so striking a characteristic in his intellectual 
pursuits. During the life of Green, that gentleman 
attended to the loaning of his money ; Lampe and the 


cook attended to his household, though he himself 
kept a close supervision over his domestic affairs ; and 
he Jiad friends enough to aid him whenever necessary. 
In extreme old age he found the management of his 
affairs burdensome, and therefore gave it into the hands 
of his friend, the Rev. E. A. C. Wasianski. He had 
been one of Kant s students, became his amanuensis 
in 1 77 1-, and afterwards officiated as pastor in Konigs- 
berg. For ten years he had not come in contact with 
the revered professor, when they met again in 1790, 
at a wedding, and after that time he was frequently 
Kant s guest. He was a good scholar and, which was 
of special importance in his later relation to his teacher, 
he possessed unusual mechanical skill. Although 

1 o 

Kant had no predilection for preachers, Wasianski had 
his entire confidence, and he felt greatly relieved when 
this friend undertook the direction of his affairs. 
One day Kant said to an acquaintance, " You cannot 
imagine how agreeable it is to have a friend to whom 
one can commit all his domestic affairs with the con 
viction that he will attend to them as if they were his 
own." Wasianski proved himself worthy of this con 
fidence ; he visited Kant daily, and sometimes re 
peatedly on the same day, was very judicious and kind, 
but firm, took great pains to make his noble charge as 
comfortable as possible, and, in spite of the difficulty 
of his position, he succeeded in managing everything 
to the satisfaction of the philosopher and his friends, 
lie wrote a valuable account of Kant s old age, telling 
his story in a simple but affectionate manner, and 
giving many interesting details of his decline and 
death ; and it is mainly to him that we are indebted 
for whatever is known of Kant s last years. 


Being accustomed to observe his condition very 
carefully, Kant was painfully conscious of his increas 
ing physical and mental weakness. In 1799 and after 
wards, he repeatedly said to his guests, " Gentlemen, 
I am old and feeble ; you must regard me as a child." 
Feeling the need of more sleep than formerly, he con 
tinued still to rise at five, but retired earlier, at first 
a few minutes, then at nine, afterwards at five o clock. 
His walks were gradually shortened, and he became so 
feeble that one day he fell and was unable to rise till 
aided by two ladies who hastened to his assistance ; 
after this experience he abandoned his out-door exer 
cise. So weak did he become, that he sometimes sank 
to the floor while attempting to walk or stand in his 
room. Occasionally he fell asleep in his chair, and 
once his head fell forward and his cotton nightcap 
caught fire from the lamp on the table ; but on awaking 
he had the presence of mind to take it off, throw it on 
the floor, and stamp out the fire. 

When he was seventy-eight, the great weakness of 
his memory was one of the most striking evidences of 
increasing mental debility. Events of recent occur 
rence were now forgotten, while those of former years 
were still well remembered ; and he would frequently 
repeat himself, relating the same things a number of 
times in a day. While heretofore he had been in the 
habit of using the blank parts of letters and envelopes, 
and other small pieces of paper, for learned notes, he 
now used them for memoranda of the most ordinary 
affairs, in order to avoid repetitions, and to promote 
variety in his conversation. These papers accumu 
lated so rapidly that it became difficult to find what 
he wanted ; Wasianski therefore made little blank 


books for this purpose. In one of these, each of which 
lasted about a month, he wrote five times, " The name 
of my barber is Rogall." He also made memoranda 
of the news of the day, the names of persons whom he 
desired as his guests, the dishes to be prepared, also 
whatever particularly interested him in the conversa 
tion of friends, hints on natural science, accounts of 
travel, politics, and similar things. The repetitions 
show how soon he forgot what he had written, and 
many trivial things were noted. Once he wrote, 
" June, July, and August are the three summer 
months." Strange that, while these notes were in 
tended to help his memory, he once wrote the very 
thing he wanted to forget, probably to remind him that 
it was to be forgotten ; thus, after dismissing his old 
servant, he made this memorandum, " The name of 
Lam po must now be entirely forgotten." But notes of 
an intellectual character are also found in these little 
books, indicating that the powers of his mind were not 
wholly cxtinct.( 172 ) 

After he became famous, Kant received numerous 
calls from strangers who visited Konigsberg. Being 
regarded as one of the sights of the city, many who 
had no interest in science called on him from mere 
curiosity. Such visits had always been disagreeable, 
and in old age they became a great annoyance. Ho 
felt that he could no longer interest visitors with his 
conversation, and he did not like to have them witness 
his infirmity; therefore those who requested to see 
him were generally refused, but some were so persistent 
and brought such influence to bear that he could not 
well deny their request. Persons admitted into his 
presence were asked to make their visit very short. 


He would generally receive them standing, leaning 
against his table, in a surly mood ; and to the compli 
ments paid him he would answer, " What do you see 
in me, an old, emaciated, frail, weak man ? " Among 
those who were determined to see him was a young 
Russian physician who, when admitted into Kant s 
presence, seized his hands and kissed them, to the 
great embarrassment of the philosopher, who was no 
friend of such demonstrations. The Russian after 
wards sent his servant to inquire about Kant s health, 
and also whether he was pecuniarily provided for in 
his old age ; and he begged for a scrap of paper with 
some of his writing, as a memento. Such a piece of 
paper was found and sent ; when delivered to him, he 
seized it with joy and kissed it, and in his enthusiasm 
he pulled off his coat and vest and gave them to the 
bearer. When Kant heard of the matter he thought 
it strange conduct ; nevertheless he felt a degree of 
pleasure in the fact that he was held in such reve 

The extreme regularity to which he had accustomed 
himself became more excessive and unyielding in his 
old age, when the rules which he had so long and so 
faithfully observed had become so much a part of him 
self that even the slightest necessary deviation became 
difficult and painful. He wanted things done " at 
once," as he was accustomed to say, and the least 
delay seemed a long time and greatly annoyed him. 
He was induced noA\ r to take coffee after dinner, and if 
it was not ready at the desired moment he became very 
impatient. When told, " It will be brought imme 
diately," he would answer, " Yes, will be; there s the 
rub, that it is yet to be brought." Sometimes he 


would exclaim, " Well, I can die waiting, and in flic 
next world 1 shall drink no coiVee ;" or lie would go 
to the door and call, " Coffee, coffee ! " At last, when 
lie heard the servant coming with it, he would say 
exultingly, in sailor s language, " I see land." He 
had accustomed himself to such an undeviating 
uniformity that " if the shears or liis penknife lay a few 
inches out of their usual place, or if their accustomed 
position was changed, it would disturb him ; and a 
disarrangement of larger objects, such as a chair, or 
an increase or decrease of their number, troubled him 
greatly, and would attract his eye until the old order 
of things was entirely restored." 

Wasianski found his position peculiarly trying on 
this account, especially as it became necessary to intro 
duce material changes for the invalid s comfort and 
safety. Kant was desirous of submitting wholly to the 
judgment of his friend, and to be led as a child, and 
once he said to him, " Dearest friend, if you think 
a matter advantageous to me, and I do not ; if I 
regard it as useless and disadvantageous, nevertheless 
if you advise it, I will approve and accept it." Audit 
was with this distinct understanding that Wasianski 
consented to take charge of him and his affairs. But 
it was one thing to resolve and promise, and another 
to execute ; and he was so set in his ways that lie found 
it exceedingly difficult to be faithful to his promise, 
and sometimes his friend had to insist peremptorily 
that the measures which he regarded as necessary 
should be adopted. 

One of the most serious changes in the home of the 
philosopher occurred in February, 1803. Larape, who 
understood perfectly his master s peculiarities, and 

F f 


knew how to adapt himself to them, had become so 
intemperate and rude that he was no longer fit to wait 
on Kant, who was then most in need of his services. 
A memorandum of the philosopher, written about this 
time, reads, "Mr. Jensch, criminal counsellor, is to be 
asked how my drunken servant can be discharged." 
After he was dismissed, Kant found it very trying to 
adapt himself to the presence of the new servant, 
although he was far superior to Lampe. On the first 
morning after Lampe s discharge, Wasianski thought 
it advisable to be present when Kant arose, so as to 
make everything comfortable for him. The philo 
sopher was excessively worried, for he missed his old 
servant, and was confused by the presence of the new 
one. No other person but Lampe had prepared his 
table for him, or knew just how it should be arranged ; 
at last Kant himself placed everything as he wanted 
it, when his friend proposed to join him in taking a cup 
of tea and smoking a pipe of tobacco. To this he 
assented ; but it was evident that something still an 
noyed him. Finally, Kant requested his friend to seat 
himself where he could not be seen, since for more than 
half a century no one had ever been present with him 
when taking his tea. Wasianski complied with his re 
quest, the new servant withdrew, and then all was right. 
Kant retained his delicacy of feeling to the last. 
He had been in the habit of calling his servant by his 
family name. That of the new one was Kauffmann, 
the German for "Merchant;" but as he invited two 
merchants to dinner every week, he thought it might 
not be agreeable to them if he designated the servant 
by his surname in their presence, so he called him by 
his baptismal name, John.( ln ) 


At first, after dismissing Lampc, he liked to have his 
guests remain with him while he retired, which lie did 
now immediately after dinner. It was thought that 
Lampe had made an assault on him while retiring; that 
this had made him fearful, and that he desired the pre 
sence of his friends to give him the feeling of safety. 
Even trifles in his conduct were regarded as significant 
and worth} of remark, since they indicated charac 
teristics of the man whose fame filled Germany. 
Numerous details are given of this period which must 
be omitted ; there is, however, an account of his 
method of retiring of which some things are so charac 
teristic as to be worthy of mention. When he divested 
himself of his clothing, it was done strictly according 
to rule, and he would permit no one to do for him 
what he could do himself. After taking off his wi"% 

O O " 

whose bag generally hung forward and almost on his 
breast, and which he was continually throwing back, he 
would draw his coat to the elbows, and unbutton his 
vest, and his servant would pull them off. There was 
a certain routine which was not allowed to be varied, 
and every article of clothing had to be removed in a 
particular way, at a particular time. The cravat he 
himself removed and laid carefully in its old folds, then 
gave it to the servant, who was waiting with a piece of 
paper into which to wrap it, and to put it precisely in 
its appointed place. " Neither in this case nor in that 
of the hat was any deviation allowed." When its turn 
came, the old but very regular watch was by Kant him 
self drawn from his pocket and hung on a nail be 
tween the barometer and thermometer, so as to have 
the indicators of the time and the weather together and 
convenient for observation. The act of putting on the 

r f 2 


night-clothes was performed with equal regularity and 
method. In summer one, in winter two night-caps 
were worn. A cloth was wrapped around his neck ; 
it was first neatly smoothed and then the servant 
was obliged to be very careful, while putting it on, 
not to let it become wrinkled. His toilet for the night 
completed, he would take some pills ; but this was an 
act which he did not want his friends to see, because, 
he said, his posture was altogether too peculiar. 

Showing his extremely wasted body while un 
dressing, he would say softly and sadly, " Ah, gentle 
men ! You are still quick and young ; but look at my 
wretchedness ! If you are once eighty years old, you 
will be just as weak and helpless as I am. ... I can 
not live much longer ; but I shall leave the world with 
a pure conscience and with the cheerful consciousness 
of having intentionally done no one a wrong or an 
injury." When Hasse asked him with reference to his 
heart, " But how will it be if it is not right under the 
left button-hole ? " Kant answered, " Then restitution, 
reparation, and compensation must be made, in order, 
as far as possible, to make it right and repair the 

As he had not been out of the house for a long 
time, he was induced in the spring of 1802 to enter 
his garden in order to get some fresh air and exercise. 
Everything there was strange to him, and he could not 
comprehend the fact that it was his garden and was 
next to his house ; he declared that he did not know 
where he was, said that he felt as if on a desert island, 
and was anxious to enter the house again. After this 
he was occasionally taken out driving; but the time, 
even if very short, seemed intolerably long, and the 


change from his accustomed mode of life and the 
weariness were too much for him. He had, in fact, 
lost all idea of the measure of time, so that a few 
minutes seemed very long, and he called the short 
drives "excursions," sometimes " journeys," or even 
" long journeys." These airings might have been less 
wearisome if nature had not lost all attraction for him. 
"When told that spring was approaching, that the sun 
was getting warmer and the buds were appearing, he 
would answer coldly, " Surely, that is the case every 
year." There was only one event in connexion with 
the return of spring which interested him, namely, the 
fact that it would bring back a certain little bird which 
sang in his garden and before his window. If the 
little songster delayed his coming, he would say, " It 
must be very cold on the Appenines." In the spring 
of 1803 he listened in vain for its cheerful song, and 
repeatedly said, in a disappointed, melancholy tone, 
" My little bird does not come." 

His nights were often sleepless and tormented with 
horrible dreams. Frequently he wanted the presence 
of his servant, who at the ringing of the bell would 
immediately hasten to his room; but Kant, having no 
notion of time, never waited for his appearance, but 
arose and tried to walk. Owing to his great weakness, 
this gave occasion for many falls, which were, however 
generally followed by no more serious results than some 
blue marks. Wasianski, fearing that they might prove 
serious, thought it necessary for his servant to sleep in 
his room ; Kant, however, objected because he was not 
accustomed to it, and insisted that he could not sleep 
in the presence of another, though he finally yielded to 
the determined counsel of his friend. 


His last birthday, April 22nd, 1803, was celebrated 
as a festival. His intimate friends had been invited, and 
he looked forward to the occasion with joy; but when 
the day came he took no pleasure in the entertainment, 
and was annoyed by the noise of the conversation of 
the large company. On this day he wrote in a 
memorandum-book, " According to Scripture, the 
days of our years are threescore years and ten ; and if 
by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is 
their strength labour and sorrow." 

In the autumn of 1803 his seeing eye became very 
w r eak, and his room had to be darkened. Prior to this 
time he had been able to read even fine print without 
glasses ; now he was obliged to stop reading the papers 
and to cease writing ; at last he could not even write 
his name. Whatever he used had to be placed imme 
diately before him, and he depended more on the sense 
of touch than on that of sight. This new deprivation 
greatly distressed him, and he often sighed heavily. 

There was also a marked increase of weakness 
during the same autumn. Once, in the absence of his 
servant, he was wounded by a fall, and blood flowed 
freely over his face and down his back. It was there 
fore thought advisable to bring his widowed sister, 
Mrs. Theuer, into the house, to assist in taking charge 
of him. As her presence at first disturbed him, she 
took her place behind his chair; after he was accus 
tomed to her, and had been the recipient of her kind 
services, he was pleased to have her about him. She 
attended him kindly and faithfully to the end. 

Even in his old age, and while very weak and fre 
quently indisposed, he was not really sick till near the 
close of life; and as late as 1802 he said, "I have all 


the four requisites of a healthy man : a good appetite, 
good sleep, good digestion, and painlessness. T have 
never been sick, have never had a physician, and hope 
never to need any. That I am becoming so infirm 
probably arises from a revolution in the strata of 
the air which occurred several years ago ; when this 
changes and all moves along again as usual, I may re 
cover. 5 For years he complained of a pressure on his 
head, sometimes speaking of it as a kind of cramp of 
the brain, which interfered greatly with his intellectual 
activity. In 1796 there had been an unusual mortality 
among cats in Basle, Vienna, Copenhagen, a ; ul other 
places, which was ascribed by a learned paper to the 
electric condition of the atmosphere. Not only did 
Kant adopt this view, but he also explained the pecu 
liar feeling in his head, which began at that time, in 
the same way. " Even the sickness of other persons 
was now also attributed to this cause, with the excep 
tion of those of whom he knew that they took beer, 
which he never drank, and which he regarded as itself 
a sufficient cause of sickness and death. Now he 
ascribed nearly everything to the electricity of th<> 
atmosphere; and the sky might be perfectly clear or in 
any measure cloudy, it wasequally regarded by him as an 
indication of that state of the air which was dangerous 
to life or at least injurious to health. Only from a 
change in the atmosphere did he expect conva 
lescence." He thought he had noticed peculiar 
appearances in the clouds, which were caused by elec 
tricity; and that these electric phenomena were tlie 
cause of his ill-health, was a notion to which he clung 
with such tenacity that no amount of argument could 
change his opinion. 


Kant s first real sickness occurred on October 8th, 
1803. Being very fond of English cheese, he had eaten 
an unusual amount of it on the 7th, and the next 
morning, while led by his sister, he suddenly sank to 
the floor, and was unconscious, appearing as if lie had 
been struck by apoplexy. In about an hour conscious 
ness returned ; but for the first time in his life he was 
confined to his bed for several days. On the 12th 
Wasianski dined with him, and resisted his earnest en 
treaties to be permitted again to partake of the cheese. 

About this time two efforts were made to rob him, 
both by women. Once, when he was alone in his room, 
a gentle tap was given at the door of his study and a 
well-dressed woman entered. At this unexpected and 
unusual visit Kant sprang up. This surprised her, as 
she had thought him too weak to stand ; but she had 
presence of mind enough to ask quietly for the time of 
day. Taking out his watch and holding it more 
firmly than usual, he answered her question. She 
thanked him and turned to leave, but had scarcely 
closed the door when she again opened it, saying that 
his neighbour, whose name she mentioned, desired to 
set his watch by Kant s, and had sent her to ask the 
loan of it for that purpose. The refusal to let her take 
his watch along was given with such force and decision 
that she at once left. 

Another woman desired to see him about a matter 
which she wanted to talk over with him alone ; 
but Kant referred her to Wasianski, who recognized 
her as a notorious character who recently, under 
threat of violence, had extorted money from a lady. 
SI ic informed him that her aim in calling on Kant was 
to demand of him a dozen silver spoons, and some 


gold rings, which, she claimed, her husband had pawned 
to him against her will ; in case she could not find 
them, she was willing to accept their equivalent in 
money. Wasianski threatened her with imprisonment ; 
but after she had been frightened, and had promised 
never to enter Kant s house again, she was permitted 
to depart. 

At the close of 180:3 Kant was unable to write his 
name, and was so blind that he could not find an 
object immediately in front of him. lie was too much 
accustomed to have guests for dinner, to deprive 
himself of their presence now ; but after his attack of 
illness, the life and cheerfulness at the table were gone. 
He would still begin the conversation as formerly, 
though feebly, indistinctly and disconnectedly It 
was his desire that there should be talking ; but as he 
had long been the leader and the inspiration of the 
table-talk, he was not pleased to have his guests now 
talk to each other and not to him. " As he was now 
weak and hard of hearing, it was not possible to 
converse with him ; therefore he generally spoke 
alone, his subjects usually being the nature of the 
food, dark reminiscences of the past, and his recent 
sickness. His old friends knew how to turn his 
attention to reminiscences of earlier times, respecting 
which his memory was still faithful." After he had 
been at table about half an hour he became so weary 
that he had to be led to his room. As he gradually 
became still weaker, only his older acquaintances were 
invited. His sentences were usually broken and in 
coherent, so that even his intimate friends could not 
understand him, and he found it difficult to grasp the 
meaning of simple sentences addressed to him; but 


occasionally ho had more lucid intervals and was in 
good spirits. Even after his illness, when he could no 
longer converse about ordinary affairs, he, who had 
spent his life in scholarly pursuits, was occasionally 
able to speak on learned subjects, such as physical 
geography, physics, and chemistry. On the Monday 
before his death, when he had lost all interest in the 
conversation of his friends at table, Wasianski pro 
posed that they should speak on learned affairs, 
declaring that he was sure Kant would take part in 
the conversation, which the others questioned. When 
a question on a scholarly subject was proposed, lie 
gave a brief but lucid answer. 

There are numerous details of this period, all of 
which present pictures which are calculated to move 
ns Avith the deepest compassion. The profound 
philosopher and brilliant companion had long ceased 
to exist ; and even the ruin gave no idea of the 
majestic greatness which had departed. It is not 
surprising that he longed for death and said, "Life is 
a burden to me ; I am tired of bearing it. And if this 
night the angel of death were to come and call me 
hence, I w r ould raise my hands and say, God be 
praised." Sometimes he would add, "Yes, if an evil 
demon sat on my shoulder and whispered in my ear, 
You have made men unhappy, it would be otherwise." 
His moral purposes remained unshaken, and he deter 
mined to bear whatever burdens might be placed on 
him. Suicide he regarded as cowardly, and cowardice 
lie despised. The name poltroon was, in his estimation, 
a designation of extreme baseness, and he said, " I am 
no poltroon ; I have strength enough yet to take my 
life, but this I regard as immoral." Tlis abhorrence ot 


suicide was; so great that he declared that it was not 
easy to find anything more contemptible, and he thought 
one ought to spit in the face of him who took his own 

At last he frequently failed to recognize his most 
intimate friends, even Wasianski, his sister, and his 
servant. lie became so feeble that he could hardly 
sit in his arm-chair, though supported by pillows. The 
lowest possible degree of physical weakness seemed 
to have been reached on February 3rd, 180 4, when all 
his energy was apparently gone. After this he took, 
properly speaking, no food. Yet there were occasions 
when he exerted his will to an extraordinary degree. 
On this very day a professor of the university, who was 
his physician and friend, called; he had been very 
kind and attentive, and had refused all compensation 
for his services. Kant arose from his chair when he 
entered, offered him his hand, and uttered some in 
coherent sentences, which Wasianski interpreted to 
mean that Kant wanted to express his gratitude to the 
physician for his great kindness in calling, especially 
since his position as rector of the university made it 
dilHcult for him to spare the time. Kant said that 
was what he meant. He almost sank down from 
weakness, and was urged by the physician to be seated, 
but he still hesitated. Wasianski intimated that Kant s 
refinement would not let him sit until the physician 
had first taken his seat. The professor at first doubted 
whether this was the reason ; but ho w as convinced 
of it when he took his seat and Kant did the same; 
and he was almost moved to tears when Kant, with 
great effort, said, " The feeling of humanity has not 
yet left me." 


On the same day a few friends, as usual, were his 
guests, though he could eat nothing. \Vasianski and 
another friend were with him at dinner on Sunday, 
February 5th ; he was, however, so weak that lie was 
unable to sit upright, and he sank together in his 
chair. On the next day he took no part whatever in 
the conversation, and his eyes stared; on the 7th 
there were three guests at table, but Kant was in bed. 
Wasianski was the only guest on the 8th ; Kant, 
indeed, came to the table, but he ate nothing and 
hurried to bed. The daily meetings of friends for so 
many years around that hospitable board, with their 
delightful associations, their intellectual feasts, their 
wit, humour, and anecdotes, were over. Kant became 
unconscious on the evening of the 9th ; he was conscious 
the next morning, but not the remainder of the day. 
He was restful on the llth, but speechless; in answer 
to Wasianski s question, whether he recognized him, 
Kant gave him a kiss. On Sunday morning, the 
12th of February, some water was given him ; after 
quenching his thirst, he said, " It is well." These 
were his last words. Early on that morning he had 
stretched out his body at full length, and he remained 
in that posture till death. As the clock struck eleven 
on that Sunday forenoon he quietly breathed his last, 
in the presence of his sister, his nephew, Wasianski, 
another friend, and his servant. He was two months 
and ten days less than eighty years old. It was not 
sickness but marasmus which consumed his strength, 
and Wasianski says, " His death was not a violent 
act of nature, but simply a cessation of life." 

The news of his long-expected death spread rapidly 
through the city, and all classes felt the loss of their 

I EATII. 445 

most celebrated citizen. " The day was so clear and 
cloudless that few of the kind occur in Konigsberg in 
a period of twenty years ; only a small cloud hovered 
in the xenith over the azure of the sky. A soldier on 
the Schmiede Bridge is said to have called attention to 
it with the remark, See, that is Kant s soul flying 
heavenward. This was regarded as an evidence of 
the knowledge which even the common people had of 
Kant, and of their idea of the purity of his soul, which, 
they thought, was at once taken up to the pure 
ether." A letter written from the city the day after 
his death, says, " Kouigsberg has lost one of its noblest 
inhabitants. His faithfulness, his kindness, his up 
rightness, and his sociability, will long be subjects of 
painfully-precious remembrance for all who were inti 
mately acquainted with him." ( m ) 

His body was so dried up that it seemed to bo 
scarcely more than a skeleton, and its appearance 
created universal astonishment. Years before his 
death he spoke humorously of his emaciated condition, 
and said that he had attained the minimum of muscular 
substance ; but at the time of his death he was still 
more emaciated, and his muscles had disappeared to 
such an extent that his body almost seemed like that 
of a mummy. 

His head was shorn, and a mould of it was taken. 
He had expressed the desire not to have his body 
exposed to the gaze of the curious, and had written a 
paper respecting his funeral, requesting to be buried 
quietly, early in the morning, his remains to be fol 
lowed only by his guests. As Wasianski had, how 
ever, represented to him the difficulties of such an 
arrangement, Kant left the whole matter to his judg- 


raent. The remains were kept for sixteen days, and 
the desire to view them was general ; day after day 
multitudes came to see for the last time the little 
that was mortal of the immortal Kant. 

On the 28th of February, one of the finest days of 
winter, the funeral took place amid unusual solemnities. 
The streets through which the procession passed had 
been cleared of snow, and the city authorities had 
issued an appeal to the people to show proper respect 
for the funeral of the man who, on account of his 
teachings and life, was so eminently worthy of regard ; 
but the inhabitants of Konigsberg esteemed the illus 
trious services of Kant too highly to need this official 
recognition of his eminence and worth to inspire them 
with a proper respect for his memory. At three in 
the afternoon the body was borne by students from 
the house to the cathedral, which was also the uni 
versity church, where the services took place. His 
sister and nephew were the only relatives present ; 
among the chief mourners were between twenty and 
thirty of his guests and more intimate friends. Headed 
by a detachment of soldiers, there was a long pro 
cession, consisting of the professors and students, the 
governor of the province, numerous civil and military 
officers, the ministers of the city, and many other 
persons of all ranks and classes from. Konigsberg and 
the vicinity. Solemnly, amid the tolling of all the 
church bells, the procession moved through the crowds 
which lined the streets, to the cathedral, where the 
curator of the university, the rector, the senators, and 
other high officials and dignitaries received the body. 
The church was illuminated with hundreds of wax 
candles. The coffin was placed on a catafalque in 

I-TNKKAL. 447 

front of the altar. At the head stood a marble bust of 
Kant ; at the foot were two inverted torches ; at the 
sides eight silver lamps were burning; and on the 
altar lay the principal works of the great philosopher. 
The coffin bore the inscription, "Cineres mortales 
immortalis Kantii." The solemn services consisted of 
a dirge and two addresses, after which the remains were 
placed in the Professors Vault beside the cathedral. 

There was a strong desire to secure mementoes of 
the great Kant. His silver hair was braided into rings 
and sold ; and the demand for these souvenirs was so 
great, that one of his biographers suspects that there 
was a miraculous increase of his hair, as in the case of 
relics of saints, and that more was sold than ever 
adorned his head. At the sale of his effects, trifles, 
such as a tobacco-pouch, in itself worthless and used 
probably for twenty years, brought large sums. The 
three-cornered hat which he was accustomed to wear 
in his study, and which had done service for twenty or 
thirty years, was sold for a high price to an P]nglish- 

His money and property amounted to 21,539 thalers. 
In addition to his regular salary, he had received tho 
fees of the students who heard his private lectures, and 
there had also been an income from the sale of his 
books. The revenue from his works, however, began 
late, namely, after the success of the " Kritik " was 
established ; before the appearance of this work his 
books were, probably, published mostly at his own 
expense. His early struggles with poverty had taught 
him frugal habits; his wants were limited, and he 
valued money too highly to waste it. He was very 
economical, some thought excessively so; but lie was 


not miserly. lie was provident, and was anxious to 
secure a competence, so as to be independent. Debt 
lie carefully avoided, and he said that a rap at the door 
never gave him anxiety lest there might be a creditor 
there. As his money accumulated, it was judiciously 
put at interest for him by his friends. It was in this 
way that he secured a competence and also the means 
to help his relatives, and was able to leave a consider 
able sum at the time of his death. 

His business manager and executor, Wasianski, 
received 3076 thalers ; Professor Gensichen inherited 
his library and 500 thalers ; his aged cook, who had 
been in his service for many years, received 066, and 
Kauffmann, his last servant, 250. Kant had ordered 
that 3500 thalers should be set apart, so as to secure 
for his childless sister, Mrs. Theuer, one hundred 
thalers annually ; the remainder of the interest, forty 
thalers, was to be given to Lampe. The rest of his 
money he willed to his nephews and nieces, and their 
descendants, who were also to receive the 3500 thalers 
after the death of Mrs. Theuer and Lampe. 

In order to perpetuate his memory, a Kant Society 
was formed in Kb nigsberg at the suggestion of Dr. 
Motherby. The first members consisted of the more 
intimate acquaintances of the philosopher, the number 
who assembled being rarely more than twelve or 
eighteen persons. They met on Kant s birthday, at 
first in his house, afterwards in some other public 
place. The dinner on such occasions was made as 
much as possible like those given by Kant ; it was a 
plain meal, with a pint-bottle of red or white wine 
before each guest. An address on Kant s life, character, 
works, or philosophy, was delivered by the presiding 


officer or " Bean- King," as lie was called from the 
manner of his appointment. At every celebration a 
cake was eaten, in which a bean was hid ; and the 
member who took the piece with the bean became the 
Bean-King. As the personal friends of Kant died, 
others who had attended his lectures or were attached 
to his philosophy were selected to fill the vacancies, 
but the number was limited to thirty. In 1846 only 
three of the original members were present, and the 
last of the founders of the Society died in 1848. Many 
of the addresses delivered before the Society, which 
still exists, have been published, and are an important 
contribution to the Kant literature. 

In 1809 Kant s friend, Scheffner, formed the plan of 
converting the Professors Vault, which was no longer 
used as a place of interment, into a walk. A gallery, 
136 feet long and fifteen wide, was constructed and 
Kant s remains were placed in the eastern end. 
Over the main entrance were inscribed the words, 
" Stoa Kantiana," and a marble bust, by Schadow, 
was placed over the grave. On April 22nd, 1810, 
Kant s friends met to celebrate his birthday. After 
an address by the philosopher, Professor Herbart, 
they proceeded to the grave and unveiled the bust ; 
subsequently it was, however, removed for protection 
to the universitv. 


For some years Kant s grave was entirely neglected, 
and it was described as desolate and almost for 
gotten, and some even questioned whether his remains 
were there. Repeated efforts have been made since 
1873 to secure the money necessary to make the 
tomb of Kant worthy of his great name, and these 
have finally been crowned with success. During tho 


Centennial of the " Kritik," in the summer of 1881, a 
monument in the form of a beautiful chapel was com 
pleted and dedicated to his memory, and in it his 
remains were deposited. 


1. Ix order to avoid too frequent reference to authorities, I here 
mention the most important books used in the preparation of this 

Three biographies of the first importance were published by inti 
mate friends of Kant: Borowski s "Darstellung des Lebens und 
Charakters Immanucl Kant s," 1804; Jachmann s " Immanuel 
Kant geschildert in Briefen an einen Freund,". 1804; and Wasian- 
ski 8 "Immanuel Kant in seineu letzten Lebeusjahren," 1804. 

Two other friends contributed important facts in books which 
appeared about the same time; Rink s " An sich ten aus I. Kant s 
Leben," and Hasse s " Merkwuerdige Aeusserungen Kant s." 

A not very reliable, anonymous biography was published in 1804, 
entitled, "I. Kant s Biograpie, Leipzig, O. Weigel." This work 
was to comprise four volumes, but only two appeared. Another 
anonymous book, printed in the same year, was named, " Aeusse 
rungen iiber Kant, seinen Charakter und seine Meinungen. Von 
einem billigon Verchrer seiner Verdienste." Professor ,]. 1). 
Metzgcr, of Konigsberg, was discovered to be the author. Another 
anonymous book of the same period bore the name, " Fragmento 
aus Kant s Leben." 

In 1842 Professor F. W. Schubert published the best biography 
of Kant in the (Jerman language ; it is found in vol. xi. of Kant s 
work* edited by Rosenkranz and Schubert 

In I860 J)r. K. Reicke issued a small book styled, " Kantiana." 
It contains a funeral address on Kant, delivered April 23rd, 1H()4, 
by Professor Dr. Wald, of Kouigsberg, and much other valuable 
material from the university library of that city. 

The journals published in Konigsberg, the " Preussiche Provinzial- 
bliitter," Neue Preussische Provinzialbliitter," and "Altpreussische 
Monatsschrift," contain many valuable articles on Kant. 

o g 2 


Much of the literature cotemporary with Kant, such as journals, 
letters, biographies, and other book?, has been found serviceable. 
The principal authorities not already named are mentioned in the 
following notes. Diligent search has been made for everything 
calculated to throw light on the life of Kant ; and hundreds of 
volumes have been used to which no special reference is necessary, 
but the consultation of which was important for understanding 
Kant s life and works and the age in which he lived. For the 
great thinker s views I am indebted chiefly to his own works ; in 
some cases I used his own editions ; in others, those of Hartenstein, 
and of Rosenkranz and Schubert ; and I also made use of Tieftrunk s 
edition of his smaller works. 

Very naturally numerous traditions respecting Kant have, in the 
course of time, become current, especially in Konigsberg. Among 
these are two stories of attempts to murder him, one by an insane 
butcher, and another by an escaped prisoner. As these are based 
on no reliable evidence, and are wholly unworthy of credence, no 
reference is made to them in the text. 

2. In 1762, 550 vessels lauded at Konigsberg; in 1773, 861. 
The exports consisted chiefly of grain, wood, and flax ; the imports 
were mostly colonial wares, manufactured articles, and wines. In 
1784 and 1792 the yearly exports amounted to over four million 
thalers, though generally they amounted to two and a half or three 
millions about that time. In 1795-6 the income for excise, duty, 
and licences, exceeded that of any other city in the kingdom, 
amounting to 554,559 thaler?. There were 143 officers to attend 
to this business. 

3. The principal authorities I have used on Konigsberg are : 
Faber : "Konigsberg in Preussen ;" " Neue Preussische Provinzial- 
bliitter," 1854, 197 ; " Jahrbiicher der Preussischen Monarchic," 
1804, vol. ii. 270 ; and " Altpreussische Monatsschrift," vol. i. 353. 

4. Immanuel changed the name from Cant to Kant. This 
change is accounted for by a story which indicates his sensitiveness. 
A boy teased him by saying that the C in his name should be 
pronounced like a Z, so that Cant would become Zant. This 
induced him to write it Kant. In the catalogue of the gymnasium 
which he attended, the name is spelt in five ways: Cant, Candt, 
Cante, Kant, Kandt. Reicke, "Kantiana," 46, 47. 

5. Reicke : " Kantiana," 5. 

6. Rink : " Ansichten aus I. Kant s Leben," 13. 

7. "Neue Preussische Provinzialblatter," 1852, 2, 81. 

8. " Martin Knutzeu und seine Zeit," von Benno Erdmaun, 34. 

Al PENDIX. 453 

9. The term Pietistic was applied to the school by its enemies as 
a term of reproach, and they spoke of it as the Pietistic seminary 
or the Pietistic inn. Kant relates that while he was a pupil, a 
young loafer oiie day entered the room of Schiffert, and in a spirit 
of ridicule asked, " Is this the Pietistic school ? " Schiffert had him 
soundly whipped, after which he sent him away with the remark, 
" Now you know where the Pietistic school is." Ilasse : " Merk- 
wiirdige Aeusserungen Kant s," 36. 

10. " Pietism must therefore not yet have degenerated into fana 
ticism, and the discipline of the school cannot have heen so fearfully 
severe as some ungrateful pupils it had many more who were 
grateful have at times represented." Wald s address, in Reicke s 
" Kantiana," 6. 

11. Kuhnken, a fellow-pupil of Kant, wrote to him as follows: 
" Anni triginta sunt ipsi, cum uterque tetrica ilia quidem, sed utili 
tamen ncc pcenitenda fanaticorum disciplina continebamur." Rink : 
" Tiberius Hemsterhuys und Ruhnken," 267. 

12. " Streit der Facultaten," Ros. and Schub. vol. x. p. 313. 

13. Article by A. Rogge, Altp. M. 1878-79. 

14. Biedermaun, " Deutschland im 18. Jahrhundert," ii. 3, 679. 

15. From the spring of 1758 to that of 1759 the total income 
was only 3665 thalers. For one thaler twenty-five hours of instruc 
tion were given. N.P.P.B., 1853, 241. Cunde, who was there at 
the same time as Kant, had twenty-three teachers in three and a 
half years. As soon as the candidates for the ministry received an 
appointment as preachers, they left and other teachers took their 
place. " The scholars in Prima had to submit to three teachers in 
philosophy." Do. 250. 

16. Rink : " Hemsterhuys und Ruhnken," 80, 81. 

17. In the summer of 1731 there were 443 students, of whom 
219 were theological, 125 juridical, 37 medical, and 62 philosophical. 
In the winter 1731-32 there were 442, of whom 208 studied theology, 
89 law, 47 medicine, 28 cameralistics, and 70 belonged to the 
philosophical faculty. P.P.B., 1832, 279. In 1744, at its second 
centennial celebration, it is said to have had 44 professors and 1032 
students, of whom 992 were Lutheran, 21 Reformed, 13 Catholic, 
and 6 belonged to the Greek Church. N.P.P.B., Neue Folge, vol. 
ix. 172. I think this a mistake, and suppose the author simply 
added the number of students in summer and winter, and thus counted 
most of them twice. 

18. Arnoldt : " Historic der Kouigsberger Universitut," vol. ii. 


19. "The chairs were occupied mostly by men with no scientific 
reputation ; the lectures were delivered in strict scholastic formulas, 
partly yet in the Latin language ; whatever was necessary as a pre 
paration for the examination ordered by the state was taught in 
meagre dictations ; the students were trained to empty formalities 
for spiritless discussions ; and owing to the isolated position of the 
university, no intellectual inspiration was spread by it over the 
land." N.P.P.B., 1854, 198. 

20. See on this whole subject, " Martin Knutzen und seine 
Zeit," by Benno Erdmann, to which I am chiefly indebted for these 

21. His principal metaphysical book, " Systema causarum efficien- 
tium," passed through two editions ; his " De immaterialitate 
animi " was translated into German ; and a book on the " Defence 
of the Christian Religion," which was aimed chiefly at English 
deism, passed through five editions. Eminent cotemporaries speak 
highly of him, and Hamann says, "I was a pupil of the celebrated 

22. N.P.P.B., 1854, 202. 

23. Reicke, 50. 

24. In the biographical sketch prepared by Borovvskt arid reviewed 
by Kant, the statement occurs that several attempts had been made 
by Kant to preach in the country ; but another person being preferred 
in an appointment to a school for which he had also applied, he 
abandoned the thought of entering the ministry. Kant crossed out 
this part of the sketch ; for what reason Borowski, who says that 
the statement is nevertheless true, did not know. To another 
friend Kant declared that he had once prepared a sermon on a certain 
text; but that may have been before he left the university. Kant s 
studies at the university, and the statement of Heilsberg quoted in 
the text, lead to the conclusion that he was not preparing for the 
ministry. Borowski must have been mistaken, a view also taken by 
Benno Erdmann, in his "Life of Kuutzen," 133, note. Kant s lack 
of sympathy with Pietism, religious doubts, and his preference for 
other studies than theology, were probably his main reasons for 
failing to comply with the wish of his parents and his benefactor, 
Dr. Schulz. 

25. " Gedanken von der wahren Schatzungder lebendigen Kriifte 
und Beurtheilung der Beweise, deren sich Herr Leibnitz uud andere 
Mechaniker in dieser Streitsache bcdient haben, nebst einigen 
vorhergchenden Betrachtungen, welche die Kraft der Ko rpcr 
iiberhaupt betreffen." 


26. " Kant here appears altogether as an adherent of that freer 
tendency of Wolfianism to whose most decided advocates Knutzen 
belonged. That he is governed everywhere in the raost essential 
points by the spirit of the Leibnitz- Wolfian doctrines, is evident from 
every paragraph of this book." "Life of Knutzen," 143. 

27. Biedermann, ii. 1. 522. Forty thalers is here given as the 
animal pay. 

28. N.P.P.B., 1854, 203. 

29. " Allgemeine Naturgescbichte und Theorie des Ilimmels, 
oder Versnch von der Verfassung und dein mechanisehen Ursprunge 
des ganzen Weltgebaudes nach Newton schen Grundsatzen abge- 

30. Privatim docentes, professores extraordinarii, and professores 
ordinarii. For the first, called by the Germans Privat-Docent, I use 
the word tutor. PYom a tutor in private families the term is always 
sufficiently distinguished by the context. 

31. Meditationum quarundam de igne suecincta delineatio." 

32. " Principiorum primorum cognitionis metaphyaicae nova delu- 

33. " Metaphysical cum geometria junctrc usus in philosophia 

34. "Thus the forty- five year old Kant, who in 1763 had received 
the second prize from the Berlin Academy of Sciences; who already 
in 1764 had been designed for an ordinary professorship by the 
cabinet; and who in 1769 had received an honourable call to an 
ordinary professorship in another university, was not permitted in 
this year to announce his lectures to the students in the official 
catalogue." N.P.P.B., 1S46, 459. 

35. N.P.P.B., 1854, 206. 

36. This gives us as the subjects of his lectures, mathematics, 
physics, logic, metaphysics, physical geography, a critique of the 
proofs of the existence of God, optimism, fortification, pyrotechnics, 
anthropology, encyclopaedia of the philosophical sciences, pedagogics, 
moral philosophy, and natural theology. Every professor in ordinary 
in the philosophical faculty was obliged to lecture in turn on 
pedagogics, which accounts for Kant s lectures on this subject. 

37. Altp. M., xvi. 610. 

38. Though he became most eminent as a metaphysician, his 
metaphysical lectures were never the most popular, not even among 
the students. They were very dry to many ; and already in 1759, 
four years after Kant began his lectures, Hamann wrote that it was 
difficult to follow him. Hainann s works, vol. ii. p. 445. Kant knew 


very well that his lectures were difficult for beginners, and he publicly 
advised his students to prepare themselves for his lectures by first 
hearing those of Professor Poerschke. 

39. The lectures were published in 1798, the last work which he 
himself published. Even in book form they retained their popularity, 
and the fourth edition appeared in 1833. 

40. Altp. M., xvi. 607. 

41. Schubert, 41. This was written after Kant had criticized 
one of Herder s books, and there was already some alienation between 
the teacher and pupil. 

42. " Herder s Leben," von Carolina von Herder, 60. 

43. N.P.P.B., 1848, 291. 

44. The subjects on which he lectured after he became professor 
were : logic, metaphysics, natural law, moral philosophy, natural 
theology, physical geography, anthropology, and pedagogics. 

46. " Uutersuchungen liber die Deutlichkeit der Grundsiitze der 
natiirlichen Theologie und der Moral. Zur Beantwortung der 
Frage, welche die Konigl. Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin 
auf das Jahr 1763 aufgegeben hat." 

47. " De mundi sensibilis atque intelligibilis forma et principiis." 

48. Dr. W. G. Kelch, " Ueber den Schadel Kant s," gives the 
result of his examination of the head immediately after death. 
When the remains of Kant were removed to the Chapel in 1880, C. 
Kupifer and F. Bessel Hagan examined the skull with the most 
minute care. They give a full description of their investigations in 
" Archiv fur Anthropologie," Braunschweig, vol. xiii., Aug. 1881, 
in an article entitled, * Der Schadel Immanuel Kant s." 

49. Dr. Bohn, Altp. M., vi. 611, regards this as a light 

50. Bouterwek; "I. Kant," 48, 57. 

51. "Von einem neuerdings erhobenen vornehmen Ton in der 
Philosophic," 1796. 

52. " Traume eines Geistersehers erlautert durch Traume der 
Metaphysik," 1766. 

53. While his "Kritik" contains many evidences of his analytical 
powers, and of nice distinctions, it would be difficult to find a more 
striking instance than in his " Logic " where he follows the various 
steps in observation, and distinguishes the different kinds of know 
ledge. R. and S. vol. ii - PP- 236, 237. First the object is 
represented by the senses ; secondly, it is represented consciously, 
percipere ; thirdly, it is compared with other objects, and is known, 
noscere ; fourthly, it is known consciously, cognoscere : noscere applied 


to animals also, coynuscere, only to man; fifthly, to understand a thing, 
intelligere ; sixthly, to get an insight into things by means of reason, 
ptrspicere ; seventhly, to comprehend a thing, to understand it 
a priori, comprehenflere. 

54. Schlichtegroll s " Nekrologie," 1797, vol. i. p. 286. 

oo. Ilamann to Jacobi, Sept. 22, 178,5. 

56. Ilamann, Nov. 20, 1785. 

57. On Kant s political views, see an article by Schubert, in 
Kaumer s " Histor. Taschenbnch," vol. ix. In 1795, on the occasion 
of the recognition of the French Republic by some of the European 
powers, Kant published his pamphlet on "Eternal Peace." The 
edition of 1500 copies was exhausted in two weeks. 

58. One of these on Dr. Lilienthal, Professor of Theology, who 
died March 17, 1782, is as follows : 

"Was auf das Leben folgt, deckt tiefe Finsteruiss; 
Was uns zu thun gebiihrt, des sind wir nur gewiss. 
Dem kann, wie Lilienthal, kein Tod die Hoffnung raubcn, 
Der glaubt, um recht zu thun, recht thut, um froh zu glauben." 

59. Bouterwek, pp. 2022. 

60. " Versuch iiber die Krankheiten des Kopfes," 1764. 

61. N.P.P.B. vi. p. 13. Kink, p. 137. 

62. Herbart, in " I. Kant s Gedaechtnissfeyer zu Konigsberg am 
22 April, 1810." 

03. " Hamburger Correspondent," March 7, 1804. Schubert, 141. 

64. Altp. M. xvi. 612. The account was written in 1795. 

65. One friend says, " lie read unusually much, especially physical, 
historical and anthropological writings ; most of all, accounts of 
travel." Another says, " He liked accounts of travel best of all. 
He seldom read philosophical books, not even those written for or 
against him." Reicke, 15, 16. "Men, people, natural history, physics, 
mathematics, and observation were the sources whence he drew the 
materials for his lectures and conversations." Do. 17. 

66. Reicke, 56. 

67. Adamson, " Lectures on the Philosophy of Kant," 25. 

68. Hasse, 79. 

69. Jachmann, 174, mentions another strange fact. Kant was 
very fond of snuff; but at times there was so little moisture in his 
body that he could not take it. Thinking that more moisture was 
necessary for his system, he would drink a quantity of water daily 
in order to supply it. In his study he would keep his handkerchief 
lying on a chair in order that he might occasionally be obliged to 
get up. 


70. N.P.P.B., iv. 22. Heine also speaks of Kant s merciless, 
sharp, unpoetical, cold honesty, and draws a parallel between him 
and Robespierre. " We find in both the same talent for suspicion, 
the difference being that one uses it against thought and calls it 
criticism, while the other uses it against men and calls it republican 
virtue. In both we find the type of the Philister in the highest 
degree nature had designed them to weigh coffee and sugar, but 
destiny wanted them to weigh other things, and placed on the scales 
of one a king, and on the scales of the other God .... And they 
gave the correct weight." Of course a frivolous spirit like Heine 
could not appreciate Kant. What would Kant have said of Heine! 

71. N.P.P.B., vi. 9. This strange occurrence led Hippel, a friend 
of both, to write a short comedy, entitled, " Der Mann nach der 
Uhr oder der ordentliche Maun." 

72. Altp. M., xvi. 608. The count speaks of his face as having 
something lively, fine, and friendly about the mouth, which cannot 
be reproduced in a hard copperplate. Of his reception he says, 
"He received me cordially, said much, naturally talked most of 
trifles, joked very wittily, and made some quite original remarks 
about fanaticism, and especially about learned ladies and their 

73. He had become so accustomed to guests that it seemed at last 
as if he could not get along without them. Hasse, .50, relates that at 
one time he was obliged to eat his dinner alone ; but it was so painful 
to him that he wanted his servant to go into the street and bring to 
him whomsoever he might find, as he must have company. 

74. In his " Anthropology " he says, "If a young, inexperienced 
man enters a company (especially where ladies are present) surpass 
ing in brilliancy his expectations, he is easily embarrassed when he 
is to begin to speak. Now, it would be awkward to begin with an 
item of news reported in the paper, for one does not see what led 
him to speak of that. But as he has just come from the street, the 
bad weather is the best introduction to conversation." He several 
times says essentially the same thing, a kind of repetition of which 
there are other examples in his work?. 

75. " Kant s Werke," Rosenkranz uud Schubert, vol. iv., Preface. 
Kant had a copy of the book so bound that every alternate leaf 
was blank. The pages of these blank leaves, and in many instances 
also the margins of the printed pages, were covered with closely 
written notes. 

76. N.P.P.B., vi. 291. 

77. Jahrbitcher d. Preuss. Monarchie, 1799, 194. 


78. Jachmann, 101. Borowski says, "I never saw him with his 
relatives, his brother only excepted." 

79. Wasianski says that Kant did not like to see his relatives 
about him, not because he was ashamed of them, but because he 
could not converse with them to his satisfaction. But Ilasse, 39, 
and Billigcr Verehrer, 17, give a less favourable view. It is 
repeatedly stated that his higher education separated Kant from his 
relatives ; and it is evident that he did not want to associate with 
them, whatever his reasons may have been. 

80. In his * Anthropology " he says, " As far as learned women 
are concerned, they use their books somewhat like their watches, 
namely, to carry them in order that it may be seen that they possess 
them, though their time-pieces generally stand still or are not regu 
lated by the sun." 

81. Even now similar opinions are common in Germany, and 
may be heard in cultivated society. In 1877 an address was 
delivered before the Kant Society in Konigsberg, on Kant s views 
of woman, and the speaker declared them to be his own convictions 
concerning woman s culture and mission, and ho thought it to be 
specially important to make them known at this time, when the 
influences, especially from Russia and America, tend to break through 
the limits fixed by nature for woman s intellectual attainments. The 
address is published in Altp. M. xiv. o93. 

82. Borowski, 149. 

83. Rosenkranz (Kant s Works, vol. xii. p. 269) says that Kant 
has frequently and bitterly been charged with degrading marriage, 
since he makes its essence to consist in the sexual relation of husband 
and wife. lie pronounces Kant s views " barbarous," and says that 
it may be regarded as an apology that Kant, as a bachelor, could 
have no experience of the depth and intimacy of the marriage rela 
tion. His views of marriage are found in his " Rechtslehre," his 
" Anthropologie," and his book on "The Emotion of the Beautiful 
and Sublime." 

84. " Ich selbsten, mil Erlaub zu sagen, 

leh selbsten babe keine Fran." 
80. "Die Regel bleibt: Man muss nicht freien, 

Doch excipe, soldi wuerdig Paar." 

80. Reicke, 12. Altp. M. xvi. (JOS. This lady afterwards mar 
ried, and she frequently boasted that Kant had been in love with her. 
She was twenty-two years younger than Kant. 

87. N.IM .B., vi. 1,>. 

88. Jachmann, 77-82, makes the conversation refer to the 


American Revolution. But Kant and Green were acquainted long 
before that time, and as early as 1770 Hamann dedicated a trans 
lation to Green, speaking of him as " the friend of our Kant." 
Schubert, 53. Jachmann s account must therefore refer to some 
other circumstance than that revolution. 

89. N.P.P.B., 1853, 165. The article is on Immanuel Kant and 
George Hamanu. 

90. Scheffner wanted him to explain some parts of his writings ; 
but Hamann answered that this was impossible, since much which 
he had taken into the account while writing had escaped his memory. 
" Life of Scheffner," 207. He himself admitted that he could not 
master systems, and says that it was his province to deal with 
"crumbs, fragments, whims, and notions." Letter to Lindner, 
October 12tb, 1759. In this letter he speaks of Kant as the little 
magistcr whom he loved and esteemed very much, and already at 
that time he calls him " the little Socrates." 

91. Schlichtegroll, 1801, i. 303. Another writer says, " Hippel s 
life and character were full of peculiarities and contradictions. With 
a clear, enlightened mind, he manifested a spirit of fanaticism and an 
inclination to superstition ; with strong passion and sensuousness, he 
had a devotion bordering on bigotry and an ardent zeal for virtue ; 
he cherished a friendship which was almost enthusiastic, and yet 
was reticent towards his friends ; he was imperious and severe, and 
yet, at the same time, cheerful and refined ; he was an enthusiastic 
admirer of nature and simplicity, and yet was inclined to etiquette 
and to avarice ; he appreciated the excellencies of woman in general, 
and also the marriage relation, and yet he had a decided antipathy 
to wedlock ; his moral principles were disinterested, and yet in his 
conduct he manifested the most striking egotism. Brockhaus " Con 
versations-Lexicon," article Hippel. 

92. " Das Leben des Prof. C. J. Krauss," von J. Voigt, 27. 

93. There are more books on philosophical than on other subjects. 
In all there are about seventy or eighty writings of Kant, of which 
very many are short dissertations, reviews, or newspaper articles. 
In Hartenstein s edition of Kant s works, there are eight large 
volumes ; in Rosenkranz and Schubert s, ten are devoted to his works, 
one to his letters and life, and one to an account of his philosophy. 
In Kirchmann s edition there are eight volumes, with one supple 
mentary volume. 

94. This is true, at least, as far as the great results of that 
philosophy are concerned. In his second edition of the " Kritik," 
Kant made many changes; but he claimed that they pertained only 

A1TKND1X. 4(31 

to the style ami the argument, not to the thought. But Schopenhauer 
claimed that Kant had also changed the thought materially, that he had 
done this intentionally, cowardly, and dishonestly. As to the exact 
nature of the changes the commentators differ, some claiming that the- 
declaration of Kant is correct; others, however, as stoutly asserting 
that the suhstance of the first edition is materially changed in the 
second, of which the following were all a reprint. The whole suhject 
is discussed by Benuo Erdmann, in his " Kant s Kriticismus." It is 
the second edition which has made the greatest impression on 
literature, and is generally cited. Recent editions of the "Kritik" 
usually give Kant s second edition, Ilartenstein and Benuo Erdmann 
at the same time indicating its variations from the first. Rosenkranz, 
however, gives the first edition. 

95. " He had his plan, wrote his book, made a cheap contract 
with his publisher, and then quietly awaited the result, though, as 
his replies indicate, he was by no means indifferent to reviews." 
Mundt s " Dioskuren," vol. ii. p. 24. 

96. " Berlinische Monatsschrift," 1804, 279. 

97. Descartes repeatedly speaks of God as " Substantia infinita." 
He distinguishes God as the infinite Substance, whose cause is in 
Himself, from all other substances, which are finite and are caused by 
God. The latter substances are of two kinds, matter, whose essence 
is extensive, and spirit, whose essence is thought. Spinoza s 
pantheism is based on the idea of God as substance. But this view 
seems to have had no influence on Kant. 

98. Descartes held that there are three sources of ideas: some are 
innate, others come from the objects they represent, and others aro 
fictions which the mind itself produces. 

99. Kuno Fischer (iii. 169), speaking of Kant s writings during 
the first decade of his authorship, says, " Kant is evidently more 
inclined to oppose Leibnitz than Newton. He places himself on the 
standpoint of the English natural philosophy, passes from this to 
the English philosophy of experience, which established the princi 
ples according to which Newton had projected his system: he went 
from Newton to Locke and Hume." 

1(X). Newton s indirect influence on the " Kritik " must be regarded 
as a potent factor. Professor A. Rich], in his book, " Der Philoso- 
phische Kriticismus," thinks that the spirit and the method of the 
mathematical natural sciences were the patterns according to which 
Kant s method was formed. lie holds that Newton s natural 
philosophy wan as powerful as Hume s scepticism in determining (he 
character of Kant s " Kritik," and says, " I believe that I can show that 


the natural philosophy of Newton had no less an influence on the 
origin of the Critical Philosophy of Kant than Hume himself." Itwould 
perhaps be more correct to say that Newton s influence was directed 
chiefly to the formation of his method of thinking, while Hume gave 
the direct impulse which led to the development of the "Kritik." 

101. We cannot tell exactly when Kant was aroused from his dog 
matic slumber by Hume, but it was probably not many years after 
he became tutor in the university. Fischer thinks it must have 
been about 1760. iii. 178. In 1759 Hamann wrote a letter to Kant, 
in which he speaks of " the Attic philosopher Hume who, in spite 
of all his errors, is a Saul among the prophets." It was about this 
time, also, that Kant spoke of Hume in his lectures. 

102. "Versuch den Begriif der negativen Grrosse in die Welt- 
weisheit einzufiihren." 

103. " Der einzig mogliche Beweisgrund zu einer Demonstration 
fiir das Dasein Gottes." 

104. Tief trunk, in his Preface to the edition of Kant s smaller 
works, says, " Men were accustomed to give an account only of 
what was contained in their conceptions." Kant then put the ques 
tion, whether these are conceptions of real objects, or whether they 
are mere fictions of the mind ? 

105. " Dorptsche Beitrage," iii. 102. The letters are written from 
Zurich. He asks Kant, whether in his "Kritik " he is going to say 
that the present criticism could hardly be more remote than it is 
from the critique of pure reason; also, whether he will say " that all 
our wisdom is folly until we fix all our observations more on man ; 
that we constantly err so greatly because we seek outside of ourselves 
what is within us ; that it is absolutely impossible to understand the 
inner nature of a thing, and that we can understand only the relation 
of objects to our needs; and that all occupations, writings, medita 
tions, reading, ore folly and childishness unless they are definite 
means for satisfying human needs ?" These letters are an evidence 
that Kant was already known beyond the borders of Germany years 
before the " Kritik " appeared. 

106. The first work mentioned was never published by Kant, the 
thoughts he intended to give in it were probably developed and em 
bodied in the " Kritik." A man who had heard that Kant intended 
to write on this subject, changed it a little and published a work on 
it. A book on the second subject appeared twenty years after he 
wrote this letter. Under the third title he published nothing, but 
the thoughts intended to be given under that head probably appeared 
in his " Critique of the Practical Reason," or in his other moral works. 


107. Already in 1762 Kant spoke of the understanding as the 
logical faculty, or the faculty for knowing, in his book, " Die faUchc 
Spitzfiudigkeit der vier syllogistischen Figuren." 

108. " Philosophia an tern prima continens principia usus intellec- 
tus puri eat metaphysics." 

109. " Von dem ersten Gruude des Unterschiedes der Gegenden 
ini Raurae." 1768. 

110. " Tempus itaque est principium formale Mundi sensibilis 
absolute primum." 

111. Conceptus spatii est sinyularis representatio omnia in se cora- 
prehendens, non sub se continens notio abstracta et communis." 

112. " Spatium itaque est principium formale Mundi sensibilis 
absolute primum." 

113. " Sed ab ipsa mentis actione, secundum perpetuas leges 
sensa sua coordinante, quasi typus immutabilis, ideoque intuitive 

114. Writing to Herder, Sept. loth, 1781, he calls the "Kritik" 
" Sancho Panza s transcendental philosophy." 

11.3. A Latin translation of the " Kritik " was made, and Kant 
complained that he could not understand it. llamanu glories in 
this fact, and says, " It serves the author right to experience the 
difficulty of his readers. 

116. His aim in the " Kritik " was to make the book very com 
prehensive, arid he says in the Preface to the first edition, " I venture 
to say that there is not a single metaphysical problem which is not 
solved here, or for whose solution at least the key is not given." 

117. Kant thinks that the very existence of metaphysics depends 
on the answer to this question, and in his "Prolegomena" ho says, 
" All metaphysicians arc therefore solemnly and legally suspended 
from their occupations until they have satisfactorily answered this 
question : How are synthetic judgments a priori possible ? " 

118. He says that without sensation no object would be given, 
and without the understanding none would be thought. " Thoughts 
without content are empty; perceptions without conceptions arc 
blind." " The understanding perceives nothing, the senses think 
nothing. Knowledge can only arise from the union of both. Never 
theless we dare not for this reason confound their functions, but we 
have great reason to separate and distinguish each carefully from 
the other. Therefore we distinguish the science of the rules of sensa 
tion in general, that is, aesthetics, from the science of the rules of the 
understanding in general, that is, logic." 

119. Kant calls this " Gemeinschaft (Wechselwirkung zwischen 


dem Handelnden und Leidenden)." The difficulty Kant experienced 
with the categories is evident fram his statement in the Preface that 
they cost him the most trouble. 

120. " The question respecting transcendental freedom per 
tains only to speculative knowledge, which we can set aside as 
altogether a matter of indifference when we are concerned about the 
practical." Rosenkranz says that he not merely laid the greatest 
stress on the practical element in his speculation, but he even under 
took to root out metaphysics. N.P.P.B., iv. 13. 

121. " Prolegomena zu einer jeden kiinftigen Metaphysik, die als 
Wissenschaft wird auftreten kb nnen." It is the first book he pub 
lished after the " Kritik." As it popularizes the main thoughts of 
that book, it should be read before the " Kritik," since it will greatly 
facilitate the understanding of that difficult work. 

122. "Kritik der Urtheilskraft," 1790. His definition of judgment 
is, " Urtheilskraft uberhaupt ist das Vermogeu, das Besondere als 
enthalten unter dem Allgemeinen zu deuken." 

123. Kant says respecting the pleasure derived from the agreeable, 
the beautiful, and the good, " It may be said of these three kinds 
of pleasure, that the taste for the beautiful is alone an uninterested 
and free pleasure. For no interest, neither that of the senses nor 
that of the reason, compels approval." 

124. Hasse, 22. In a letter to Professor Schiitz, 1785, Kant 
already speaks of " The Metaphysic of Nature," and says that the 
" Metaphysical Principles of Natural Science " a book completed 
that summer is a preparation for that work. 

125. This is published in Altp. M., i. 742. 

126. His principal works on morals and religion followed his 
" Kritik," and were based on its conclusions. On morals his most 
important works are, " Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten," 
1785; "Kritik der praktischen Vernunft," 1788; "Die Metaphysik 
der Sitten," 1797, in two parts, of which the first discusses the 
metaphysical principles of jurisprudence, and the second, the meta 
physical principles of virtue. His principal work on religion is, 
"Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der blossen Vernunft," 1793; 
the last book he published also treats of religious subjects, but, as a 
rule, merely repeats the views given in the other book. The title of 
his last book is, "Der Streit der Facultiiten," 1798. In many of 
his other works moral and religious subjects are also discussed. 

In the first book on morals he discusses the highest principles of 
morality, namely, the Categorical Imperative. As the " Kritik " is 
the propaedeutics to all philosophy, so the second book on morals, the 


4< Critique of the Practical Reason," is the propaedeutics to all moral 
philosophy, and it discusses the problem of the freedom of the will. 
The third hook discusses the principles of morality in general, and 
contains the system. 

127. The question asked by the speculative reason is, What can 
I know? That asked by the practical reason is, What ought I to do? 
In his "Logic" (Rosenkranz and Schubert, iii. 186), he, however, 
says that philosophy deals with four questions, namely, What can I 
know ? What ought I to do ? What may I hope ? What is man ? 
" The first question is answered by metaphysics; the second by 
morality; the third by religion ; the fourth by anthropology. 
Really, however, all this might be treated under anthropology, since 
the first three questions are all related to the last." 

128. " Es ist iiberall nichts in der Welt, ja iiberhaupt ausser der- 
selben zu denken moglich, was ohne Einschrankung fur gut kounte 
gehalten werden, alsallein ein guter Wille." The will, according to 
Kant, is the character. It is not to be judged by what it accom 
plishes, but by itself, by its volitions. Man is a lawgiver unto him 
self, and his own being imposes obligations upon him. lie is his 
own authority, and prescribes his own rules of conduct. 

129. Bouterwek, 117, says, "Let it be remembered that no so- 
called feeling-philosophy found an entrance into Kant s cold under 
standing, and that all sentimentality, even the noblest, was disagree 
able to him." Rink, 99, says that a physician wrote to Kant in 1794 : 
" My dear Professor ! Mr. Kant s rational faith is a faith entirely 
free from all hope. Mr. Kant s morality is a morality entirely free from 
(ill love. The question now arises, Wherein docs Mr. Kant s faith 
differ from the faith of devils ? And in what respect does Mr. Kant s 
morality differ from the morality of devils?" In other letters the 
same twitted him on the lack of the emotional element, and in one 
he says, " Animals have no reason. The absence of reason is the 
cause why animals cannot rejoice that there is a God, and that God 
is so gracious as lie is. But it is a mystery to me what the cause cau 
be that my rational brother, Immanuel Kant, cannot, or will not, rejoice, 
just as well as I do, that God is as gracious as He is." 

I3()f/. Kant states this celebrated law repeatedly and in different 
language, but its essence is always as given in the text. " Irh soil 
niemals ander.s verfahren, als so, das sich auch wollen konne, meine 
Maximo solle ein allgemeines Gesetz werden." " Handle so, als ob 
die Maximo deiner Handlung durch deinen Willen zum allgcmcinen 
Naturgesetze werden sollte." 

1.30A. For the relief of constipation a physician advised him to 

II ll 


take a pill daily. After awhile he found that this was not enough, and 
another physician advised him to take two. But Kant, reflecting on 
the matter, concluded that the increase might go on indefinitely, and 
therefore resolved never in his life to take more than two pills a day, 
a rule which he could not be induced to hreak, except perhaps in 
old age, when he was feeble and yielded to the advice of others. 

131. "The Emotion of the Beautiful and the Sublime." Roscn- 
kranz and Schubert, iv. 431. On a blank leaf of this book, Kant 
wrote: " It is not necessary to sympathize with others in natural 
misfortune, but it is necessary to sympathize with them when 
suffering from injustice." Rosenkranz and Schubert, xi. 1, 221. 

132. In N.P.P.B., 1848, 14, it is said, "In his last years his 
conscience troubled him, because at one time, in order to decline a 
disagreeable invitation, he pretended to be already invited for the 
time designated." 

133. Ilippel (Schlichtegroll s " Nekrologie," 1797, vol. 5. p. 281) 
says, " Kant often says that if a man were to say and write all he 
thinks, there would be nothing more horrible on God s earth than 
man." In a letter to Mendelssohn, April 8th, 1766, Kant wrote, 
" Much that I, indeed, think with the clearest conviction and to my 
great satisfaction, I shall never have the courage to say ; but I shall 
never say any thing that I do not think." 

134. It would be difficult to find a dedication in which there is a 
more diffuse use of complimentary terms than that of Kant s first 
book. Dr. Bohlius was a friend of the family, and seems to have 
shown them, and particularly Kant, some kindness. To him the 
book is dedicated, and he is addressed : " Ilochedelgeborener Ilcrr, 
hochgelahrter und hocherfahrner Doctor, insondcrs hochzuchrender 
Gonner ! " In the brief dedication of less than a page the dedicatee 
is five times addressed " hochcdelgeborner." The close of the 
dedication declares that Kant remains, with constant high esteem, 
"Ilochedelgeborener, hochgelahrter und hocherfahrner Ilcrr Doctor, 
insonders hochzuehrender Gonner, Ew. Ilochedelgeborncn ver- 
pflichtestcr Diener. Immanuel Kant." 

135. Before his " Kritik " appeared Kant used various arguments 
to prove God s existence. In his Cosmology, 17oo, he uses the 
argument from design and says, " If one does not wilfully oppose all 
conviction, he must be convinced by such irresistible reasons." In 
1763 he used the ontological argument in " Der einzig mb gliche 
Beweisgrund zu eincr Demonstration fur das Dasein Gottes." In 
his Inaugural Address, 1770, lie argues in favour of God s existence 
from the unity in nature, and he says that his view is not. very 


different from of Malebranche, namolj that " we see all things 
in God." 

With his " Kritik " he ends all speculative proofs of the divine 
existence. But it should be remembered what he said in 1766 in 
hrs Triiume ; " Common sense often sees the truth sooner than it 
understands the reasons by means of which it can prove or explain 
it." And at another time he said, " It is absolutely necessary to 
be convinced of the existence of God; but it is not necessary to 
demonstrate it." 

1, W. I low purely he makes religion rational is evident from his 
definition of religious faith in his " Streit der Fakultaten," 287. 
Religious faith is " one which can be developed from each person s 
reason." Not the ideal reason of humanity, nor the divine reason, 
but the reason of each individual is thus made the source of his 
religion, and is treated as if absolute. Pago 290 he says that reli 
gion can be an object of reason only, and that all the principles of 
religion must be dictated by reason. And 299 he says, " For 
ecclesiastical faith historic learning is necessary ; for religious 
faith only reason." Reason, as the sole arbiter in all things, 
was the watchword of Kant, as well as of the age in which he 

137. In "Was ist Aufkliirung ?" published in 1784, he says that 
Aufkliirung or enlightenment is the departure of man from the state 
of immaturity for which he is himself to blame. This immaturity 
is inability to use one s understanding without, the guidance of 
another." " The motto of enlightenment is, " Have the courage to 
use your own understanding." Laxincss and cowardice arc the 
causes why men who should be independent in thought still remain 
dependent, a fact which makes it so easy for others to be their 
leaders. " It is so comfortable to remain dependent. If I have a 
book which thinks for me, a pastor who is my conscience for me, 
a physician who chooses my diet, et cef., then I need not trouble 
myself." Perfect independence is Kant s aim in religion as well as 
in thought: independence of history, of the Church, and, in fact, of 
everything except reason. 

D N. This conclusion is drawn from a careful study of all his 
religions views, and others have been forced to the same conclusion. 
Roscnkran/ says, " It is true that Kant fell into the one-sidedncss 
of absorbing religion in morality." " Kant s Werke," xii. 202. And 
he also says, "If now religion is entirely absorbed by morality, 
then the relation of man to (lod as a personal Heing ceases. 1 It- 
may believe in God ; morality does not forbid this. Hut it is 

II If 2 


superfluous. It is not necessary. Conscience is his God. The 
most essential thing is the conception of the highest good, of the 
categorical imperative, of the maxim," 253. Even Feuerbach s 
view finds a basis in " Religion," 257, note, where it is declared that 
each man makes himself a God and must do so. In his " Kritik" 
he first destroys all hope of a speculative proof of the existence of 
God ; then, after he postulates His existence, he destroys the specu 
lative use of that existence ; and even practically He is only of 
secondary significance. That God is a person and sustains personal 
relations to man, is not made practically real. 

139. Less than a year before his death he said, "Were not the 
Bible already written, it would probably not be written any more." 
Hasse, 27. 

140. Such declarations are simply amazing, especially when one 
reads in Exodus xx. as part of the commandments, " And showing 
mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my command 

141. In his short treatise, " Was ist Aufkliirung ? " 1784. 

142. It is only necessary to develop Kant s hints in order to get 
the views of Strauss in his " Leben Jesu." But there is this differ 
ence, that Kant uses the gospels chiefly for the purpose of putting or 
finding moral ideas there, while Strauss views them chiefly as the 
product of religious ideas ; Kant finds moral hints there, Strauss, 
myths ; Kant is more purely rational, Strauss wants also to account 
for the history. 

143. Without having formed a clear conception of what the his 
torical Christ really was, Kant sometimes spoke in favourable terms 
of Him as if he regarded Him highly. Owing to his moral philosophy, 
Kant was repeatedly compared with Christ ; but this he himself did 
not favour, declaring that in comparison with Him he was only 
a bungler. 

144. One of his maxims was, " To kneel or prostrate himself 
on the earth, even for the purpose of symbolizing to himself reve 
rence for a heavenly object, is unworthy of man." 

145. In 1788-91 Kant gave his friend Kiesewetter a number 
of small articles, from which this extract and the preceding are 
taken. R. and S. xi. 1, 269. 

146. Jachmann, 117, says that if ever a man s religious views 
were cold declarations of reason, and if ever any one excluded all 
emotion from his religious acts, this was so in Kant s case. 

147. Wald, in Reicke, 14. The same says that Kant did not 
succeed in theology " because he lacked the best knowledge of 


biblical philology and criticism." 16. Rink, 27, also speaks of his 
neglect of the study of theology, and attributes his religious views 
to his early training, the character of his mind, and his lack of 
philological and historical knowledge. 

148. Rink, 44, 45, finds it difficult to explain Kant s conduct in 
this matter, but supposes that when Kant wrote the letter he had 
no idea he would outlive the king, and made no mental reservation ; 
but tkat, when the king died, he really believed that he had made 
such a reservation as he afterwards declared he had done. 
Borowski, 125, 126, regards this case as an exception to Kant s 
general rule, never to deviate from the strict truth. If Kant s own 
statement of his mental reservation is correct, then the explanation 
given in the text is the most charitable construction possible. 
Some have, of course, justified Kant s conduct in this matter. 
It should be remembered that he himself held that, while one must 
always speak the truth, he must himself be a judge as to how much 
of what he knows or thinks shall be said. It was about the time 
he made the promise to the king that he wrote on a paper found 
among his effects, " Recantation and denial of one s convictions 
are base ; but silence in a case like the present is the duty of a 
subject ; and if all one says must be true, it is not for that reason 
also a duty to speak openly all truth." Schubert, 138. 

149. Rink says that for the first six years the " Kritik " excited 
no attention ; and the publisher is said to have been ready to consign 
the first edition to waste paper statements which are hardly 
credible. When the new chapel erected to Kant s memory was 
dedicated, June 19, 1881, Dr. J. Walter, Professor of Philosophy 
in Konigsberg, delivered an address, in which he said that those 
who criticized the work during the first two years after its appear 
ance had not studied the book, indeed had scarcely read it; that 
the third year more voices against it were heard, such as Eberhard 
in Halle, Plainer in Leipzig, Tiedemann in Marburg, Lossius and 
others ; and that advocates and opponents were about equal in 
numbers in 1786 and 1787, after which the former gained and 
the latter lost strength. About the year 1788 the success of the 
" Kritik " was established, and from this time its marvellous in 
fluence became general. 

The third edition of the " Kritik " appeared in 1791 ; the fourth, in 
1794; the fifth, in 1799; the sixth, in 1818 ; the seventh, in 1828, 
all a reprint of the second edition. 

1,50. Raumer s " HiHtorisch. Taschcnbuch," 9, 567. 

151. Nicolai, " Ueber ineine Gelehrte Bildung," 76. 


152. Their author was Hieronymus cle Bosch. Either the same 
or another wrote : 

"Non sic Hugenii memorent inventa Batavi, 
Nee sic Newtoni vcucrctur et Anglia nomen, 
Lavoisier! referat iiee Gallia laudes, 
Doctriuarn quam tota tuam Germania, Kauti ! " 

153. Tliese lines occur : 

" Du trugst die Fackel his in den Gruud 
Des Denkverunb gens, uud die Natur erschrak, 
Als tief in ihrer finstern Werkstatt 
Plotzlich Deiu Licht ihr entgegenstrahlt." 

Most of these facts are given in Altp. M. xv. 377, in an article 
entitled " Verse Kant s und iiber Kant." 

154. Letter to Erhard, Nov. 10, 1795. Found in " Denkwiirdig- 
keiten des Philosophen und Arztes Johaun Benjamin Erhard." By 
Varuhageu von Euse. 

155. Borowski, 187. In closing his account of Kant s life, this 
writer says, " Would that the numerous disciples, readers, and 
friends of Kant, would never carry to excess their veneration for 
him, the most humane and the most modest of philosophers ! " 

156. Schiller s words were intended for those disciples of Kant 
who were mere echoes of his opinions : 

" Wie doch ein einzigcr Reicher so viele Bettler in Nahruug 
Setzt ! Wenn die Kouige haun hahen die Karrner zu thun." 

157. Kant s warmest friends deplored the ahuses of his philosophy 
and his name. Erhard wrote to Nicolai, Dec. 13, 1798, that he 
and Baggesen had years ago planned a satire on the philosophical 
confusion. The title was to have heen, " The One Thing Needful, 
or the Council of Philosophers ; a Transcendental Drama." Forty 
coteinporaries had heen chosen as the characters of the play, and 
the number who should he included in such a satire had greatly 
increased, Erhard thought, when he wrote that letter. Jensch 
wrote to Kant, May 22, 1796, that he had written a work on the 
whole of his philosophy, and desired his opinion of it. lie appealed 
in this hook to Kant to settle the disputes of his pupils as to what 
his opinions are, by declaring authoritatively his views. In the 
letter he says, " I have made so free, amid the vexatious conten 
tions of your other pupils and partisans, which are disagreeable to 
all Germany, as to make the appeal to yourself and to your judgment, 
without any importunity." 

158. In a literary dispute, Jacobi hoped that Kant would take 
his side. Ilauiaun wrote to him, April 9, 1786, "Do not depend 


on our critic, nor need you do so. Ho is, like his system, no 
rock, but band, in which one soon becomes weary of going further. 
. . . Do not let Kant s neutrality disturb you. All my indebted 
ness to him . . . shall not keep me from writing as J think; I 
fear for myself no envy or ambition respecting his fame. I have 
already had many a hard conflict with him, and sometimes have 
evidently been in the wrong ; nevertheless he has always been my 
friend. Neither will you make him your enemy if you give the truth 
the honour it deserves and which you have already bestowed on it. 
You must expect every systematist to think of his system as the 
Roman Catholic does of his only church." 

1.39. When Ilartknoch, Kant s publisher, was on a visit to 
Weimar, in 1783, Herder inquired about Kant, and received this 
answer : " I will tell you confidentially that Kant believes that 
you are the cause why his Kritik of the Reason did not meet 
with the reception which he expected." Herder answered, " It 
never occurred to me to intrigue against any one, least of all 
against Kant. It is true that I do not relish his Kritik, 
and that I do not like his style ; but I have neither written any 
thing against it, nor have I induced any one else to do so. Of this 
you may assure Kant." Herder s Life, by his widow, ii. 220. Two 
years after this, Kant published a review of Herder s " Philosophy 
of the History of Humanity," in which Herder thought he saw 
evidences of bitterness towards himself, and lie regarded it as 
proof that Kant was displeased because he did not publicly praise 
his books, 223. 

160. Life of Herder, ii. 240 245. These views probably 
belong to the year 1790. 

161. Anonymous Biography, published by Weigel, ii. 241. On 
page 239, the same writer states that he once met a former pupil of 
Kant who spoke with the greatest enthusiasm of his rare talents and 
his excellent character. " He showed me how this philosophy must 
affect all the sciences and all men, and that through it a change in 
the national mode of thinking was unavoidable. Friend ! he finally 
exclaimed, if this system, united with the philosophy of Socrates and 
the properly-understood Gospel of Christ, does not ennoble the 
human family, I shall despair of the much praised capacity of my raco 
for culture, " 

162. Stniidlin, " Gcschichte und Geist des Skepti/ismus," 1791, ii. 

163. There is a book in the Berlin Royal Library which is pro 
bably the one meant. Its title is, " F. A. Nitzch, late Lecturer of 


the Latin language at Konigsberg. A general and introductory view 
of Prof. Kant s Principles concerning Man, the World and the 
Deity. London, 1796." The next Look on the Kantian philosophy 
in the English language in that library, is one by Thomas Davies, 
1863, which was printed in Gottingen. The catalogue of that 
library gives the titles of 151 works, some comprising a number of 
volumes, devoted exclusively to Kant s philosophy. They are in the 
German, Latin, English, and French languages, and seme of them 
have appeared in a number of editions. There are. of course, thou 
sands of other works which discuss that philosophy, such as histories 
of philosophy, and works in all departments of science, morals, and 
religion. Of these 151, only five are English; three of these are 
since 1871, and are by David Rowland, Edward Caird, and Robert 

164. " Elements of the Critical Philosophy." B. A. F. M. Willich. 
London, 1798. 

165. " Encyclopedia or a Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Mis 
cellaneous Literature." The extract is from the Preface, which 
promises a summary of Kant s philosophy in a supplementary volume. 
As I have not the original, the text gives a translation from a 
German translation in Reicke, 16. 

166. Prof. Dr. Julius Walter, in his address " Ztim Gedachtniss 
Kant s," 1881, says that amid the events of the day Kant s death 
was scarcely noticed in Germany, and continues: " Die Schule 
besteht zwar in einzelnen Vertretern bis in das zweite, dritte, ja 
vierte Jahrzehnt noch fort; aber die Diskussion der kantischen 
Lehren, die cine Fortbildung derselben bezweckte, tritt mit dem 
neuen Jahrhundert in augenfalliger Weise zuriick. Kur wenig 
Schriften, einzelne verlorene Dissertationen beziehen sich direkt 
aufKant; so dass die Stille der ersten Decennien die Behauptung 
der ncuen Koryphaen nur zu sehr zu bewahrheiten schien, die 
Philosophic Kant s sei ein iibcrwundencr Standpunkt. . . . Als die 
Schule Hegel s auf der llohe ihrer Entwicklung stand, urn das Jahr 
1840, war von kantischer Philosophic nur noch in so fern die Rede, 
als etwa dieses oder jenes System zu anderen in Gegensatz trat und 
hierbei sich auf Kant zu berufen Gelegenhcit nahm. Wahrend die 
bcnachbarten Nationen allererst schiichternen Muthes sie gnindlich 
kennen zu lernen bcginnen, ist sie in Deutschland scheinbar verges- 
sen." 26, 27. 

In 1851 Rosenkranz made a statement (N.P.P.B. xi. 160, 1G2) 
respecting the schools to which the professors of philosophy in Ger 
many at that time belonged. Twenty-nine of these professors in 


Prussia were classified as follows: One Platonist, two Aristotelians, 
one historico-critical, one scholastic, two Guentherians, four Kantians, 
three eclectics, three Herbartians, two followers of Soliciting, and ten 
Hegelians. In the rest of Germany there was not a single Kantian 
professor of philosophy, and in Kouigsberg there had not been one 
for twenty years. 

167. Probably few could be found in Germany who would be 
willing to go as far as an English admirer of Kant, who says, 
" What Kant has done no ono need do over again." Caird on Kant s 
Philosophy, 12.1. Many more will be ready to agree with Schubert, 
who said in Konigsberg (P.P.B., 1833, 13), "It would be a dis 
grace to attempt to belittle Kant in the place where the sublime 
thinker lived. But to make his philosophy final now and for ever, 
could only be the notion of a Kantian who, since Kant is to bo 
exonerated from all despotism in the dominion of mind, would arouse 
to indignation the honourable shade of the Renewer of philosophy." 

168. In his Life by Huber, 21, it is said, "In physics, mathema 
tics, astronomy, and philosophy, he deserves one of the first places. 
In these, the highest sciences, his name is placed beside those of 
Newton, Euler, Herschel, and Kant." 

169. Mendelssohn and Ilerz were both Jews. But the views of 
the former were so liberal that Lavator hoped he might convert him 
to Christianity. His efforts, however, were delicately but decidedly 
resisted by Mendelssohn. This led Lessing to write his " Nathan 
the Wise," in which Nathan represents Mendelssohn. 

170. For these letters see an article by F. Sintcnis, on "Maria 
von Herbert und Kant," Altp. M. xvi. 270. The close of last 
century and the beginning of this was a strange era of suicide in 
Germany, especially among young women, a tendency partly repre 
sented and partly promoted by "The Sorrows of Young Werther." 
Sintenis says that this era began with Miss von Lassberg, in 1788, 
and ended with the unfortunate Louise Brachmann, in 1822. The 
brother of the above-mentioned Maria was another warm admirer of 
the"Kritik." His disposition was much like that of his sister; 
he suflfered greatly from ill-health, was extremely melancholy, and 
between his high moral ideas and his real life there was a strange 
contrast. To Krhard he wrote, October 7th, 1804, of his sister: 
" She left this world a heroine." And speaking of another world, 
he says, " Whether there is another, the wisest want lo know 
speedily." He ended his own sufferings by suicide, March loth, 

171. In Alt]). M. ix., Professor Dr. Bohu has an article on Kant s 


relation to medicine, in which he expresses the opinion that Kant s con 
dition, late in life, cannot be attributed to old age or senility, but thinks 
that at that time the brain must have been diseased. The disease, he 
thinks, was one discovered some years ago as an inflammation of 
the inner surface of the membrane of the brain, " Pachymcningitis 
interna," 616. 

172. After Kant s death several thousand pieces of paper, such as 
he had used for notes of lectures, outlines to be used in preparing 
his books, memoranda, and the like, were found. Of the blank 
books prepared for him by Wasianski some were given as mementoes 
to friends, and some were sold at high prices for collections in Eng 
land. Many of these papers are preserved in the University Library 
in Konigsberg. 

173. In his gratitude to this servant for his kindness, he would 
sometimes call him his companion, his protector, or his friend. 15ut 
he tolerated nothing which he regarded as unjust or indiscreet. lie 
noticed that this servant took snuff from his snuff-box; and imme 
diately he offered to give him a florin a month more, in order to put 
an end to this community of goods. 

174. " Hamburger Correspondent," 1804, March 31st. 




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