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Fine Literature
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Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant, German philosopher, was born in Konigsburg April 22, 1724. He entered the university there in 1740, enrolled for the study of mathematics and physics. His studies were interrupted by the death of his father, which left him in poverty. After he supported himself by tutoring for 9 years, the kindness of a friend enabled him to resume his studies, to graduate as a doctor and to qualify as a privatdocent. He occupied this position for 15 years. His lectures widened from physics to include much philosophy. Finally, after unsuccessful attempts, in 1770 he was given the chair of logic and metaphysics at Konigsburg. In 1781 his Kritik der reinen Vernunft, Critique of Pure Reason appeared, and in 1783, his Prolegomena. After the appearance of the 2nd edition of the Kritik in 1787, Kant became famous everywhere in German intellectual circles, and his views were regarded as those of an oracle. From 1792-97 he was engaged in a struggle with the government concerning his religious views. In 1794 he withdrew from society, and gave up all teaching except for one public lecture course on logic. In 1797 Kant terminated a teaching activity that had extended over 42 years. He died in Konigsburg on February 12, 1804 near the end of his 80th year. Little more than five feet tall, deformed in his right shoulder, his chest almost concave, Kant had a weak constitution. He never married, and followed an unchanging program of activities from youth to old age. For example, he never failed to rise at 5 o'clock, studied for 2 hours, lectured for 2 more, and spent the rest of the morning at his desk. He dined at a restaurant and spent the afternoon in conversation with friends. He then walked for about an hour -- a walk which for years followed exactly the same course, studied for 2 hours more, and retired between 9 and 10. He was a prolific reader, especially in history, science, travel, and philosophy. He knew English history and literature intimately, especially in the period of Queen Anne. He read little of Goethe or Schiller, but often re-read Voltaire and Rousseau. He had little interest in nature, and in 80 years never traveled more than 40 miles from his native Konigsburg.

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