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English texts

​Kant introduction and speech

Max Egremont

I first saw Immanuel Kant in 1992, during my first visit to Kaliningrad, a short time after the Soviet Union had come to an end. It was, alas, not the great man himself but his tomb, a miraculous survival after conflict, destruction and rebuilding – an evocation of the past alongside what was then the ruined cathedral and other reminders of the city’s fractured history.  How much had changed in the philosopher’s home city since his death in 1804.  Even the name is different.  For Kant, from his birth there in 1724, had lived in Königsberg, not Kaliningrad.  What he could not foresee was that they are now the same place. ...

Kant in China 

Prof. Han Shuifa

Kant was first introduced into China in 1866. In 1886, the British missionary Joseph A. E. mentioned Descartes, Bacon, Locke, Newton, Leibniz, Kant, Hume, and Spencer in his translation of the volume "Science" (i.e., philosophy) of the book "A Brief Description of Western Studies" in a brief introduction to the history of Western philosophy. ...

Kant’s Life

Steve Naragon

One generally learns at least three things, however brief the sketch of Kant’s life: he never married, he never traveled, and he ordered his life so rigidly that the housewives of Königsberg could set their clocks to his daily walks. Like the spare lines of a caricature, these provide some sense of the man, but one could also point out in reply that Kant was by no means the first bachelor in the history of philosophy nor the only bachelor in Königsberg; that Kant actually managed to get out of town quite often, if not very far; and that only in his later years, when it appeared that his life-ambitions were outstripping his life, did he buckle-down and fashion himself into something more like a machine. The following will add some shading to those spare lines ...

The Kant glass: the Hull connection 

David Neave

Four of the seven names engraved on the Kant glass, with the date 30 August 1763, are of men who came from the English port of Hull, or to give it its correct name, Kingston-upon-Hull. Two, Joseph Green and Robert Motherby, were permanent residents at Königsberg, and close friends of Kant, and are well known. The other two - Charles Staniforth, who had recently married Joseph Green’s sister, and John Chappell, were only visitors, but had probably known Kant for some years.

What were the origins of these four men, why were they in Königsberg, and what happened to them. ...

The Königsberg Kant Glass |  Virtual Table Talk on March 16, 2021

Prof. Simon Wain-Hobson, David Neave, Svetlana Kolbaneva

Immanuel Kant, Joseph Green, Robert Motherby and the Americans 

Gerfried Horst

The merchant Joseph Green (1727-1786), who came from Hull in England, had "already come over from England at a young age" and built up a flourishing trading business in Königsberg. He looked for a young man in his home town to help him in his business and found Robert Motherby (1736-1801), who is said to have "come to the city on the banks of the Pregel  from Hull around 1750 at the age of 14." A recent Kant biography states that he came to Königsberg at the age of 18, i.e. in 1754. ...

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The Königsberg Kant glass 

Simon Wain-Hobson

Decoration of the bowl can transform an ordinary drinking glass into something unique. Jacobite Amen glasses c1745 are the ultimate examples of diamond point engraving. While these plain stemmed and air twist glasses don’t say much per se, their inscriptions transport us to another time and place, notably the 1745 uprising led by Bonnie Prince Charlie, that has kept many a collector and researcher busy for years.1 In 1937 Arthur Churchill Ltd devoted a catalogue to decorated Georgian glass, mainly those with engraving. Its title, History in Glass, says it all. ...

© Glass Society, Glass Matters 10, January 2021

​East Prussia and China: Tracing a Wondrous Relationship

Thomas Heberer

The overarching framework of this book are the issues culture of memory, collective memory, and the Chinese knowledge perception with regard to former East Prussia and its great personalities.

In detail, this publication is concerned with the following issues: Firstly, the author's East Prussian family background and his recent travels to former East Prussia, particularly the parts belonging to Russia, Poland and Lithuania.

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What is enlightenment in China? An essay about political (im)maturity

Magnus Obermann

In 1784, Immanuel Kant wrote these lines to address the question “What is Enlightenment?”. In his essay, Kant took a critical stance on the church and the state Prussian authorities and advocated for an intrinsically motivated process of enlightenment. Kant’s dictum of the “emergence from self-imposed immaturity” has since become an undisputed credo of the enlightenment.

So why would we need another essay on enlightenment “in China”? Initially, one should assume that Kant’s ideas are universally valid, rendering it unnecessary to formulate a separate “Chinese enlightenment”. ...

Immanuel Kant – Racist and Colonialist?

Prof. Dr. Vadim A. Chaly

A murder of an Afro-American detainee by a policeman at the end of May 2020 caused a public outrage in the United States, which led to a campaign against the monuments to historical figures whose reputation, according to the protesters, was marred by racism. Some German publicists, impressed by the campaign, initiated an analogous search for racists among the national thinkers and politicians of the past. Suddenly Kant emerged as a ‘scapegoat’. This statement is an attempt to assess such reactions from the perspective of Russia’s experience. ...

Notice to Physicians

Immanuel Kant

The noteworthy and wondrous epidemic that just subsided for us is, with respect to the symptoms and the effective remedies against it, actually a topic only for doctors; yet its spread and traveling through vast countries still elicits the astonishment and scrutiny of those who see this peculiar appearance merely from a physical geographer’s perspective. ...

The Last Days of Immanuel Kant

Thomas De Quincey

I take it for granted that every person of education will acknowledge some interest in the personal history of Immanuel Kant. A great man, though in an unpopular path, must always be an object of liberal curiosity. To suppose a reader thoroughly indifferent to Kant, is to suppose him thoroughly unintellectual; and, therefore, though in reality he should happen not to regard him with interest ...

Kant and the Motherby Family

Marianne Motherby

Robert Motherby, long-time friend of Immanuel Kant, was born on December 23, 1736 in Hull (Yorkshire, England). He had four brothers and three sisters. His father George (born on December 20, 1688), married Anne Hotham (died 1748) while Robert was still a child. Robert Motherby probably came to Königsberg around 1751: The English merchant Joseph Green (1727-1786), who ran a business in Königsberg at the time, was searching for a reliable young Englishman to be his assistant and one day become his partner. ...

Bean Speech 2016

Marianne Motherby

William Motherby - Founder of the Friends of Kant Society

... William was the son of Robert Motherby (1736 - 1801), who emigrated from England (Kingston upon Hull), and his wife Charlotte (1742 - 1794), who came from a Huguenot family. William’s father came to Königsberg as a young man at the invitation of an English merchant, Joseph Green (1727 - 1786). Joseph Green, nine years older than Robert and a bachelor with no children, operated a successful trading company in Königsberg. He wanted Robert Motherby to become his partner and ultimately his successor. ...

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Memorial Address for William Motherby

August Hagen

William Motherby - Founder of the Friends of Kant Society

... William Motherby was born in Königsberg on 9 December 1776. His father was an English man, his mother, Charlotte Toussaint, was a French woman, and he was completely English, but for that reason no less German – for as we say with Tieck, “Shakespeare and his better contemporaries are also German, but neither then nor now was the German ever French, and so on,” and in his noble veins there pulsed a French liveliness. The conflict of combining these different elements in him showed itself in several ways. His unguarded opinion that seemed to hide nothing from the world, sometimes wrapped itself in the mysterious cloak of...

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Prussian Provincial Newspapers: Obituary of Robert Motherby

Caesar von Lengerke

The feelings of pain surrounding the death of a dear one are often mixed with another feeling that is foreign to us when a full and healthy life is suddenly taken away, but fills us with the most bitter melancholy when a long-suffering and sickened body, whose spirit and innermost being was related to us, returns to dust. If it is true that life, considered in the highest and purest sense, is the very thing that most urgently consoles us about death, then we will be able to bear up in the thought that life gave that strong man what it could offer up to the last hour; that he performed his duty without inhibition until the moment he was called to his eternal home ...

The Friends of Kant Society

Gerfried Horst

The “Friends of Kant Society” can be traced back directly to the circle of friends invited by Kant to his house each year on his birthday, April 22. The group met there for the last time on April 22, 1803 before Immanuel Kant’s death on February 12, 1804. Dr. William Motherby, the son of Kant’s friend Robert Motherby and himself a good friend of Kant, invited the participants of the 1803 birthday party to a commemorative party on April 22, 1805. This event was held in Kant's home, which had since been purchased by an innkeeper. ...

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22nd April 2020 Speech on the Occasion of the 296th Anniversary of Immanuel Kant

Gerfried Horst

Dear Friends of Kant,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to address all the English speaking friends of the philosopher Immanuel Kant. As Chairman of the international society FREUNDE KANTS UND KÖNIGSBERGS, it has been a great honour to be able to say a few words each year, on the philosopher's birthday, in the presence of a crowd of Friends of Kant at the foot of his grave. ...

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Dinner on 9th November 2018 in the Oxford and Cambridge Club

Gerfried Horst

Thank you very much for having come here today to remember an event in Germany: the proclamation of the German Republic on 9th November 1918. This is mainly a British-German gathering, but there are also guests here without whom neither the British nor the Germans would want to live. Here is an Italian, Sabina Magnani-von Petersdorff, a Dane, Jorgen Larsen, and a Tibetan, Loden Tashi, who as a child has been recognized to be the re-incarnation of a high Tibetan Buddhist lama. He has become a German citizen, works as a computer programmer and is my neighbour in Berlin. ...

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Impressions about Kaliningrad from Yerevan

Lilit Hakobyan, Artyom Dokholyan

We want to share our impressions, which will always remain in our memories. Kaliningrad is an amazing and unique city, where the fortifications of the pre-war Koenigsberg are adjacent to modern buildings. One of the most beautiful is the Royal gate. In addition, we were impressed by the island of Kanta, which is located in the heart of Kaliningrad, in the middle of the Pregel river. ...

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Some outstanding impressions during the 11th Kant trip from April 18 to 27, 2018 to Koenigsberg/Kaliningrad and the Kaliningrad oblast.

Monika and Roderick Boes

We participated in this group excursion for the first time and our head is still spinning after so many cultural and social highlights. Worthy of mention in this context is, for one, the excellently organized tour of Kaliningrad as well as the enriching speeches about the historical and cultural significance of Immanuel Kant...

The Kant Journey from April 18 – 23, 2018

Tine Kehler-Hvid

My husband and I had the pleasure to take part in the annual trip to Kaliningrad / Königsberg from April 18 th to April 23 rd , 2018; in honor of the 294 th birthday of Immanuel Kant on April 22. The trip was wonderful; well organized and with an interesting program every day; in very good company with the other travel participants – many of whom had a family connection with Königsberg or East Prussia.

Königsberg - Kaliningrad - The Search for an Identity ​

Gerfried Horst

Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin was born in 1875 into a peasant family from the upper Volga region near Tver. He worked as a lathe operator at a factory in St. Petersburg and in 1898 joined the Russian Social Democratic Workers, the party of Lenin. During the tsarist period he was imprisoned a number of times and sent into exile. ...

Restoring harmony

Benjamin Saunders

Sixty-five years ago the city of Kaliningrad was devastated by war, and the population continued to suffer during the ensuing Soviet occupation. Benjamin Saunders was invited to give a recital of reconciliation on the new Schuke organ in the rebuilt cathedral. …

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East Prussia: a place of reconciliation, of fantasy and of hope

Max Egremont

Why would an Englishman write a book about East Prussia?  It is at the furthest point of Europe to my home country.  It is a country that, on a modern map, does not exist.
May I explain the start of my fascination?. ...

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The Intellectual Relationship between Königsberg and the Baltic Region in the 18th century

Ineta Balode

Johann Gotthelf Lindner und Jacob Lange as Examples of this Relationship in the Field of Language.

The second part of the 18th century is known as a very lively and productive period in the history of the Baltic region. A lot of impulses for the intellectual activities are coming from East Prussia, particularly from the University of Königsberg. ...

Kant's way toward perpetual peace in the 21st century

Hiroo Nakamura

“May Nagasaki be the last city which has been nuclear-bombed!” – Reasonable people in Japan are ashamed that their country which is famous for being a world technological power had caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster in spite of atomic bomb victims’ hard experiences and innermost wishes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This disaster has showed that there had been mistakes in former economic and energy policies. It reflects political weak points not only in Japan but in the whole world. ...

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