A life story of a man from Königsberg (Kaliningrad), who repeated again and again the name of the Emperor Cicero, as a dormitive at night, so that, he could sleep better.
Most of people know Immanuel Kant as a father of German philosophy and the author of the books: Critique of Pure Reason 1781; Critique of Practical Reason 1785; Critique of Judgment 1790 or any other among his thirteen works.
Much less the philosopher Kant is known as being compared with the Irish philosopher George Berkeley. They both worked on the ideas of idealism. And the Kantian idealism is assimilated with the Berkelean immaterialism as a consequence.
And few are aware that Kant was a splendid man with a vast soul.
Immanuel Kant was born in Königsberg on the 22th of April 1724. The family consisted of nine children. Only six of them had lived out. His father, Iogan Georg, was a harness maker and was sure that his son Immanuel Kant would become an artisan too. Despite the small income, the family created the atmosphere, where children had the opportunity to develop themselves.
Kant was a sickly child and his mother paid great attention to his toughening up. Many years later, Kant would treat his fever by walking from Brandenburg to Friedland gates (approximately 2 km). Despite been occupying a lot with the house, his mother found time for daily perambulations along Pregel with children.
She promoted the feeling for nature from a young age, cultivating moral values of her children and had a huge impact on Kant’s ideology in the years that followed.
The school and student days of Kant were passed in deep poverty. Once he lent the shoes of his roommate to be able to attend lectures at the university, because his only pair of shoes, he had brought to the shoes- maker. Kant had knowledge of four foreign languages- Latin, French, Ancient Greek and Hebrew. During the university period, he turned a penny, playing billiard.
In 1746 his father died and Kant had to interrupt his studies at the university. He had been working for ten years as a teacher in different houses in a bid to support his family and set by money for university. For the first time, he became a private teacher for the youngest children of the pastor Adersha in the village of Judtschen (Veselovka). Nowadays this place is famous for Kant’s House -Museum.
The museum guide, Korpenko Galina, in the Kant’s House says that they have a document where stays that for three years, Kant had been a godfather of all village children in Judtschen (Veselovka). During that period, Kant created his work “Kant on Education”( Über Pädagogik). After that, worked in the house of the colonel-in-chief of Kingdom of Prussia Bernhard Friedrich Huelsen and the Count Christian Heinrich Keyserlingk, Kant had not only acquired graceful manners but also cogitated philosophical approaches. Exactly that helped him in the following years. In 1755 Kant defended both: bachelor and master dissertations and became a private reader at the university which meant that the lessons were paid by students to him directly.
During 1758-1762 Kant had been a citizen of the Russian Empire and sent the petition to the Empress of Russia, Elizabeth Petrovna, to become a professor of logic and metaphysics. But his petition was rejected. And only in 1770 he was finally
appointed to a position of metaphysics’ professor in his native university. The salary of the professor Kant was so small that he had to continue working parallel at the library. Finally, Kant was recognized as the professor and the author of his doctrines.
Kant distinguished his intense working of the mind and monotony of his daily life. The citizens of Königsberg verified the time when Kant left his house for work or postprandial walk. Kant had never had lunch alone. As remembered by his friend Ehregott Vasianski, Kant invited usually two or five of his friends if it was a holiday. Kant explained it that for him was necessary to follow the rule which says that “the society for lunch, including the master of the house, does not be less that the number of the Graces and more than the number of the Musaes”. As a rule before the lunch at 12.55, Kant drank a wineglass of a Hungarian or Rhinean wine. He despised beer and considered it as a “bad taste choice”. He started his lunch exactly at 13.00, in tow of his friends: Ludwig Ernst Borowski- scientist-theologian, archbishop and preacher; Ehregott Vasianski- clergyman, friend and Kant’s student; Jogan Gaman- the ideologist of the literary movement “Storm and onslaught”, philosopher; Theodore Gottlieb Hippel- writer, statesman and public figure; Jogan Jacobi- commerce advisor; Robert Materby- the assistant of English Merchant;Karl Hagen- Pharmacist, professor of physics, chemistry, mineralogy and botany; Johan Shefner- military, public figure, tax adviser, musician, poet; Friedrich Leopold Schroetter- German Junker, East and West Prussian Government minister; Karl Wilhelm Schroetter- chancellor of Prussia; Christian Jacob Kraus- the professor of philosophy and state administration at the university.
Lunch by Kant usually consisted of three dishes, cheese, dessert and wine. As far as Kant had been eaten only once within 24 hours he ate a lot. He was admired with dishes. Kant had an eye for good food. He esteemed the capability of cooking as well as playing the piano. Kant said: “Any husband would rather prefer
a better dish to music than better music to dish”. One of his favorite dishes was codfish. Among all vegetables, he put above turnip. Kant enjoyed anecdotes. He always completed the repast with a good anecdote.
Kant had never abandoned the territory of Königsberg area. All his knowledge was based on the storytelling of his friends and acquaintances. It can only be presupposed how many discoveries forfeit the world history or geography. If Kant could go abroad and describe everything he saw. Unfortunately, despite his splendid memory, his facts were based on friends’ stories and could be referred to theoretical background. Despite this, astound historical and geographical erudition of Kant, which could be chocked all space of common human memory. Once he described so nuanced the London Bridge that the Londoner was sure that he had seen it before with his own eyes. Kant had a very strong memory and used his notebook only to mark down what he was going to forget.
He showed the vivid interest in the scientific discoveries, assisted to inventors and wanted everything new implement into the life. He liked theatre and poetry. He used to say that, “the poetry develops the human nature”. Apart from poetry, Kant appreciated music a lot. This great philosopher was only 157 high, lean and blue-eyed. His contemporaries called him “dainty Magister”, while Kant had refined manners, good taste and could hold an eloquent conversation. He was always well-dressed( often in brown) and placed the utmost importance on clothes.
Despite his many-sidedness, interests, perfect sense of humor, frankness and good temper, he had neither been married nor had a partner. The roots of his loneliness went deep in his origin. He was the one who made himself, he jumped from the destitution to the high society, where people had a different rate of living. Kant bought his first house when he was 59 years old. He had never been rich before and worked hard to approach that
level. The world, where he became a part of, was a world of richness, where nobody thought about bread and butter. They were swept away by waltzes, involved in art and literature, while Kant had been striving for independence through hard work.
His friends remembered him as a person with a soft heart, but strong character, distinguished by exalted and wise generousness. In his eyes, money did not have another worth, than serve to Kindness. Kant donated 1.123 gulden annually for almsmen and his family. It was more than any man of wealth did.
Kant died on the 12th of February 1804 with the words “Es ist gut” (It is good). He was buried with imperial honors, great recognition and pompous.
Nowadays, in Kaliningrad, despite the capriciousness of Baltic weather, people from all over the world come to the monument of Kant. They express their admiration to a big philosopher and a great person, who was very lenient towards others and was severe upon him.
WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM text Tatiana Smorodina