Philosophy25 Aug 2007 02:40 am
Most eigteenth-century residents of Konigsburg, the hometown of Immanuel Kant, were unlikely to have read the great philosopher’s work. He wrote extremely dense treatises, particularly the three great “critiques”: The Critique of Pure Reason, The Critique of Practical Reason, and The Critique of Judgment. But while Kant’s work may have been impenetrable to most of his neighbors, they were very aware of the eccentric professor in their midst. It was said that Kant’s daily walk was so regular in its timing and route that residents of the town could adjust their timepieces when he walked past their windows.
There was one amusing instance, however, of Kant’s philosophy colliding with his habits. In his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant, after a typically complex train of thought, concludes that every man has a duty to give charity so long as he can provide for himself. Konigburg’s panhandlers never read Kant’s metaphysical speculations, but they knew where the professor would be every afternoon, and they always waited there for the generous donations that Kant would make. Eventually, the old philosopher began feeling somewhat less charitable, and he changed his route.
Feeling brave? Read Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals here.
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