[Index of Biographies]

Friedrich Johann Buck (1722-1786)

[This is a draft of an article in The Dictionary of Eighteenth Century German Philosophers, 3 vols., edited by Manfred Kuehn and Heiner Klemme (London/New York: Continuum, 2010).]

Friedrich Johann Buck was born (12 November 1722) and died (14 August 1786) in Königsberg.  He was the son of a Prussian bureaucrat, and taught mathematics and philosophy at the university in Königsberg as a colleague and rival of his more famous townsman Immanuel Kant.  Unlike Kant, he was also musically talented.

Buck entered the Collegium Fridericianum gymnasium in Königsberg in 1732 — the same year as Kant, who was two years his junior, but Buck left for the university three years earlier, on 4 June 1737, where he studied law, theology, and anatomy, but especially philosophy and mathematics under Martin Knutzen [bio] (1713-1751), who had recently begun his lecturing career as an associate professor in logic and metaphysics.  Buck received his magister degree, and then habilitated on 18 July 1743, and that fall began a successful teaching career in Königsberg.  He was still working as a Privatdozent when Knutzen died mid-semester on 29 January 1751; Buck assumed responsibility for Knutzen’s classes, as well as for his scientific correspondence, at the request of Knutzen’s widow.  Buck was appointed associate professor of mathematics beginning SS 1753, and then full professor of logic and metaphysics beginning SS 1759, replacing J. D. Kypke [bio], and being favored over Kant, who had also applied for the position [more].  In 1747 he was also appointed assistant librarian at the city library (replacing G. B. Casseburg [bio]), and in 1782 was made first librarian (replacing T. C. Lilienthal [bio]), a post held until his death.  He was awarded a doctorate of law in absentia in April 1748 from the university at Frankfurt/Oder, with a dissertation on Roman law, although he offered no courses in the law faculty.

The mathematics chair became vacant in 1770 with the death of Professor Langhansen [bio] and Kant arranged, through a bit of intrigue, for the government to offer this chair to Buck, and then to offer Buck’s vacated chair of logic and metaphysics to Kant [more].  Either willingly or not, Buck accepted these changes, becoming the full professor of mathematics beginning with summer semester 1770, although he continued to offer private lectures in metaphysics, logic, practical philosophy, and experimental physics.  He had been using Crusius’s texts in his logic and metaphysics lectures, but changed in WS 1770/71 to J. G. H. Feder’s Logik und Metaphysik im Grundriß (Göttingen, 1769).  The required public lectures in mathematics were on arithmetic and geometry during the summer semesters and trigonometry and astronomy during the winter, and for both of these it appears he used Wolff’s popular Auszug (Halle, 1717), the same text Kant had used in his mathematics lectures.

Buck had accumulated a collection of over 550 scientific instruments, which were auctioned at his death.  He was an honorary member of the Cosmographischen Gesellschaft of Nurnberg, the German Society at Frankfurt/Oder, and the Latin Society of Altdorf.  He was a diligent lecturer as well as author; Goldbeck (1781) lists thirty publications.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Philosophische Gedanken von der Schreibart der heiligen Schrift, und ins besondere von der Mosaischen Beschreibung der Erschaffung des ersten Menschen, nebst einigen Anmerckungen (Danzig: Knoch, 1745).

De iis, quibus Jure Romano non est permissum facere testamentum (Frankfurt/Oder, 1748).

Lebens-Beschreibungen derer verstorbenen Preußischen Mathematiker überhaupt und des vor mehr denn hundert Jahren verstorbenen großen Preußischen Mathematikers P.Christian Otters insbesondere (Königsberg and Leipzig: Hartung, 1764).

Geographish-mathematische Abhandlungen von einigen in der Erde befindlichen denkwürdigen Höhlen, und einer besondern Art, die Tiefen derselben zu erfinden (Königsberg, 1768).

(published anon.) “Geschichte des Herrn Friedrich Johann Buck ordentlichen Professors der Logik und Metaphysik auf der königl. Universität zu Königsberg.” In: Neues gelehrtes Europa (Wolfenbüttel, 1775), vol. 20, pp. 989-1059.

Other Relevant Works

Versuch einer philosophische Abhandlung von den Stammeltern des menschlichen Geschlechts (Halle, 1749).

Elementa artis disputandi mathematica methodo in usum audit (Königsberg, 1748).

De numeris diametralibus et polygonis (Königsberg, 1753).

Quod animae brutorum quidem actu cognoscant, sed non cogitent (1754).

Philosophische Betrachtung über das Alter der Erde (Königsberg, 1754).

Teleologische Betrachtungen über den Rauch und die verschiedene Arten desselben (Königsberg, 1755).

Von der Glückseligkeit derjenigen, die frühzeitig sterben (Königsberg, 1756).

De existentia mentis humanae in loco sensuum, et origine animarum rationalium (Königsberg, 1757).

De accurata potentiarum in rectis duplicis homodromi extremis applicatarum determinatione (Königsberg, 1760).

Vorstellung einiger astronomischen Schattenlängentabellen (Königsberg, 1760).

Leichtere Auflösungen einiger schwehren trigonometrischen Aufgaben, zum Gebrauch der Liebhaber mathematischer Wissenschaften (Königsberg: Hartung, 1761).

Further Reading

ADB, vol. 3, p. 494 (Moritz Cantor).

APB, vol. 1, p. 90 (Christian Krollmann).

Arnoldt, Daniel Heinrich, Zusätze zu seiner Historie der Königsbergischen Universität (Königsberg, 1756), p. 78.

Arnoldt, Daniel Heinrich, Fortgesetzte Zusätze zu seiner Historie der Königsbergischen Universität (Königsberg, 1769), p. 49.

Gause, Fritz, Die Geschichte der Stadt Königsberg in Preussen, 2nd enlarged ed., 3 vols. (Köln, 1996), vol. 2, p. 243.

Goldbeck, Johann Friedrich, Litterarische Nachrichten von Preußen, 2 vols. (Berlin, Leipzig, Dessau: 1781-83), vol. 1, pp. 19-22.

Kuehn, Manfred, Kant: A Biography (Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp. 88, 118, 188-89.

Metzger, Johann Daniel, Über die Universität zu Königsberg (Königsberg: Gottlieb Lebrecht Hering, 1804), p. 43.

Meusel (1802), vol. 1, pp. 644-45.

Pisanski, Georg Christoph, Entwurf einer preussischen Literargeschichte in vier Bucher, ed. by Rudolf Philippi (Königsberg, 1886), pp. 68, 498, 505, 530, 533, 538, 680, 691, 693, 695.  Orig. publ.: Königsberg, 1790.

Stark, Werner, “Hinweise zu Kants Kollegen vor 1770.” In: Reinhard Brandt and Werner Euler, eds., Studien zur Entwicklung preußischer Universitäten, in collaboration with Werner Stark (Wiesbaden, 1999), pp. 113-62.

Vorländer, Karl, Immanuel Kant: Der Mann und das Werk (Leipzig, 1924), i.84.

[Index of Biographies]

Copyright ©2006 Steve Naragon (Manchester University)
Last modified: 11 Jul 2010
Please send comments and questions to: ssnaragon@manchester.edu