KANT IN THE CLASSROOM     Materials to aid the study of Kant’s lectures

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Included here are:

(1) terms referring to the physical aspects of books and manuscripts (especially those specific to the preserved lecture notes),

(2) terms referring to lectures and university life in Kant’s day,

(3) terms from the wider 18th century German culture (as might occur in the context of the brief biographies offered in these pages), and

(4) abbreviations that are often used in these pages.

If you are looking for a glossary of Kant's philosophical terminology, try the glossaries prepared by Palmquist or Burnham.

[top]  A   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Abitur: An examination (now: a set of examinations) taken near the end of studies at the Gymnasium, in preparation for matriculating for study at a university. Now universal in Germany, they were first introduced by von Zedlitz [bio] in 1788. [more]

Abschrift: Copy (see: Nachschrift)

ADB: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, 56 vols. (Berlin: Duncker and Humblot, 1971, 11912). [more]

Akademie Ausgabe: “Academy edition” (often abbreviated as ‘Ak.’ or ‘AA’) — this is the edition of Kant’s Collected Writings (Kant’s Gesammelte Schriften) published by the Prussian Academy of Sciences (and then the German Academy of Sciences of Berlin, the Academy of Sciences of the DDR, the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, and now the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences). See the overview of the Academy Edition.

Albertina: The proper name of the university at Königsberg was Academia Albertina, after its founder Albrecht, the duke (Herzog) of Prussia. For a description of the buildings, see Collegium Albertinum.

Academicum repetit: This was entered into the matriculation records whenever someone resumed membership in the academic community, with all its various rights and privileges. [more] Thus, when an individual is entered as academicum repetit, then we can assume two things: (1) he was once a member of the university (typically, as a student), and (2) he had left the community for some time (such as to study at another school, or for extended travel). It should be noted, however, that Kant was never re-matriculated at Königsberg, despite his absence of about six years when he was working as a Hofmeister in the surrounding region.

Alumnat: Occasionally also called the “Collegium Albertinum,” this was actually a group of rooms within the Collegium Albertinum next to the cathedral where poorer students could live free of charge and eat at a subsidized rate in the Convictorium (see). (See the discussion of Student Finances.) We learn from Kant’s correspondence that the full professor of mathematics was traditionally also the inspector of the Alumnat, for which he received free lodging there and a salary of 88 rthl. per year (see Kant’s letter to Fürst Küpferberg of 16 March 1770, in which Kant suggests Christiani for Langhansen’s chair of mathematics). Presumably this position of inspector fell to the mathematics professor because the observatory and related instruments were at the college, and astronomy was treated within that discipline.

Amanuensis: “Today it has the meaning of those copyists or writers who write down everything that is dictated to them” [Zedler’s Universal-Lexikon (1732)]. A commonly-used synonym of the day was famulus (although the latter has a wider meaning)[see]. Each member of the academic senate was given the use of one amanuensis (in the form of being given a free portion of food in the university cafeteria for the purpose of feeding the student, who was drawn from the population of Prussian students).[1] Kant appears to have made use of this privilege, and retained his amanuenses primarily for writing out clean copies of manuscripts for publication (but not oral dictation), as well as to run errands, keep his lecture room orderly, and to deal with disruptive students, etc. 

List of Kant’s amanuenses: His first semester on the Academic Senate (in the capacity as Dean of the philosophy faculty) was SS 1776, and it appears that he retained (1) Ehregott Andreas Wasianski [bio], who would later write one of the early Kant biographies. Kant may well have kept an amanuensis continuously after 1780 (when he became a permanent member of the senate), but we have closer information only on (2) Johannes Benjamin Jachmann [bio], who likely served from spring 1784 to summer 1788,[2] (3) Johann Kiesewetter [bio], who was in Königsberg from November 1788 until October 1789, and in whose hand is the draft of the first introduction to the Critique of Judgment, (4) Reinhold Bernhard Jachmann [bio], younger brother to Johannes Benjamin, who may have served from 1789 until 1794, and (5) Johann Lehmann [bio], who may have served from 1790 to 1796 (reasoning behind these dates comes primarily from an unpublished essay by Werner Stark).


[1] Arnoldt [1746, ii.69]: “The senators receive nothing in addition to their normal salaries, except for a bit more grain, as noted in Pt. I, p. 90, and they have the free use of a student, as an amanuensis, who may eat in the Convictorium for no more than 2 Gröschen per week, the same as the scholarship-students, and when he brings the proper certificate, can do this indefinitley [viz., for as long as the student is serving as an amanuensis; the scholarship-students receive subsidized meals for no more than two years], as noted in Pt. I, p. 316.” See also Goldbeck [1782, 125].

“Die Senatores genüßen über dem ordentlichen Gehalt sonsten nichts, als etwas mehr an Getreide, wie solches im I. Th., S. 90, angemerket worden, und haben die Freyheit einen Studiosum, als Amanuensem, in der Communität in der Art speisen zu laßen, daß derselbe nichts mehr als 2 Ggr. wöchtentlich an Kostgeld, gleich den Alumnis, erlegen darf, und wenn er die gehörige Zeugniße beybringet, ohne Einschränkung der Zeit darinn bleiben kan, wie im I. Th., S. 316 angezeiget ist.”

[2] See Hamann’s letter (10 Aug 1784) to Hartknoch: “Kant’s Amanuensis, Jachmann, is working diligently on the Prodromo of the metaphysics of morals” — this would have been Kant’s manuscript for his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), of which Jachmann would have been preparing a clean copy.

APB: Altpreußische Biographie, 4 volumes, edited by Christian Kröllmann, Kurt Forstreuter, Fritz Gause, Ernst Bahr, and Gerd Brausch (Königsberg, 1941; Marburg, 1969, 1975, 1995). [more]

AR: academicum repetit, a term entered into the matriculation records (Matrikel) to indicate that someone has resumed membership in the academic community, with all its various rights and privileges. Thus, when academicum repetit appears in a person’s Matrikel entry, we can assume two things: (1) he was once a member of the university (typically, as a student), and (2) he had left the community for some time (such as to study at another school, or for extended travel). One oddity with Kant’s Matrikel entry is that he has only one (from 1740); there is no indication of his having ever left (probably 1748) and returned (probably summer of 1754).

[top] B   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Blatt (pl. Blätter): Sheet(s) or leaf (leaves). A piece of paper which, by its very nature, has a front (recto) and back (verso) side; thus, two pages. Manuscripts are occasionally numbered by the sheet rather than the page, in which case the sides are distinguished by the words ‘recto’ and ‘verso’, or else the verso side is indicated with an apostophe following the sheet-number.

Bogen: “Printers’ sheet” (as opposed to a sheet or leaf [Blatt] as found in a bound book). A Bogen is the sheet of paper as it comes from the paper sieve on which the pulp is pressed. The size of these sieves varied somewhat, and so the sheet sizes will vary as well; the sheets that I’ve measured are around 13 x 18 inches (or 33 x 46 cm).  Folio (2°) is where the Bogen is folded once (= 4 pages/sides)(ht: 35-45 cm / 13¾-17¾ in); Quarto (4°) has two folds (= 8 pages)(ht: up to 35 cm / 13¾ in); Octavo (8°) has three folds (= 16 pages)(kl. 8°:10-18.5 cm)(gr. 8°: 22.5-25 cm / 9-10 in); Duodecimo (12°) has 4 folds (into 1/3s, and then twice in half, resulting in 24 pages)(ht: up to 15 cm / 6 in). Many libraries would shelve books according to their size (so as to economize on shelf space); consequently, the size of the book (folio, quarto, or octavo) was commonly given in the catalog-listing of the book so that the librarian could more easily find the book. Of course, given the lack of a standard size of Bogen, the sizes of the books varied considerably, and so it was often unclear whether a book should be listed as, e.g., quarto or octavo. The interested reader can find ample information on the web, such as the Roberts and Etherington reference work on Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books.

Bogenlagen: A set of sheets, usually folded and nested together to form a signature (Lage), where the pages would then be numbered just as in a bound book or pamphlet.

Borussia: The Latin name for Prussia.

Brot-Colleg/Brotstudium: Literally “bread-courses,” these are the vocationally-oriented courses of study in the three higher faculty (theology, law, and medicine).

Brouillon: A French loan word (from ‘brouiller’: to mix together) meaning ‘rough sketch’. By this is normally meant a “first sketch” to a letter or essay of one’s own (see: Nachschrift).

[top] C   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Catalog (lecture): See Vorlesungsverzeichnis.

Catalogus Praelectionum: See Vorlesungsverzeichnis.

Chancellor: This was always the senior law professor, at Königsberg, and the position was normally held for life. This person was directly beneath the authority of the university rector, but was able to offer more continuity to administrative affairs, as the rector changed with each semester. The Chancellorship was created in 1744, as a means for the local government to stay informed of the university, and was first held by Prof. Sahme. [more]

Collegium (pl. Collegia): A course of lectures. See: Vorlesung.

Detail from 1763 map

Collegium Albertinum: The university buildings in Königsberg were located on the northeastern corner of a small island in the Pregel river called the Kneiphof, which was its own town (founded in 1327) before 1724, when it was incorporated with Altstadt (between the castle and the river, founded in 1286) and Löbenicht (also called Neustadt, founded in 1300) into the city of Königsberg. (The excess of old city halls in Königsberg, and also the three city Latin schools, rests on this earlier plurality.) The island is about 450 meters long, east to west, and about 275 meters wide at the west end, and 175 meters wide upriver at the east end, where the university was located. This east end of the island is dominated by the Cathedral and its square (the whole configuration about 125 x 160 meters), with the Cathedral extending east-west midway between the two branches of the river, butting up against the eastern shore, then with buildings wrapping north and then again west along the shore, so as to make a U-shaped configuration opened towards the west and the rest of the island. The university buildings were the eastern and northern portions of this complex, and included two auditoriums, the largest one (auditorium maximum) was described by Vorländer as a “long, but low room, decorated with pictures of Prussian nobility” [1924, i.75], as well as a Senatsstube where the academic senate would meet each week, and the Alumnat that housed needy students (taking their meals in the Konviktorium). Money was set aside for twenty-four students (with seven places reserved for Polish students, and another seven for Lithuanian), so presumably the Alumnat housed that number.

Goldbeck [1782, 139-41] describes the Collegium Albertinum and its rooms as follows (see Arnoldt [1746,ii.39-50] for a fuller description): 

“The Collegium Albertinum, named after the founder, is the University’s only academic building. It consists of a double-building, which will be called the old college and the new college, and is on the Pregel river between the Kneiphof cathedral and the Bishop’s Court, on a large, spacious, and beautiful square, separated from the street by a large walled gate over which the portrait of Albert is placed. The old college consists of two connected buildings of which the one lies toward the east and the other to the north, but both are right next to the river. In the former is the theology lecture hall, which is also the Auditorium maximum, and in which all the academic festivities take place and all the inaugural disputations are held. It is a very large, beautiful, and bright hall, decorated with life-size paintings of all the Prussian rulers. On the other side is the law lecture hall, and across from the Auditorium maximum is the Vorsaal des Zimmers in which the academic senate as well as the four faculties hold their meetings, and which leads into the academic Registraturgewölbe.” 

Above the Auditorium maximum are several rooms (Stuben) for students. On the outer wall of this building, under the Auditorium maximum, is the message board [schwarze Brett] on which everything that needs to be made public to the students is hung (by the pedellen [glossary]), and above this is the picture of the Markgraf Albrecht painted on the wall. In the part lying to the north are three floors: On the lowest live the kitchen staff (Oekonom); on the middle is the Kommunität or dining hall, which is also the philosophy lecture hall in which the magisters dispute; on the upper floor lives the subinspector along with some students. The new college, at whose entrance the head inspector lives, also consists of three floors. On the lowest are the apartments of the pedellen and the medical lecture hall. On the middle is the university library, and on the highest live students. On the side of the Kneiphof Cathedral, a vault was built on the square for the full professors, their wives, widows, and unmarried children [for burial]….”

Collegium Fridericianum: “Friedrich’s College” — the Pietist preparatory school in Königsberg that Kant attended. It is discussed more fully in the page on Königsberg Schools.

Concilium academicium: Academic senate. See the discription under University Governance.

Consistorialrat: Consistory advisor, an ecclesiastical position (the Consistorium is the administrative board for the church). See also: Oberkonsistorium.

Convictorium: Also known as the Kommunität, this was the student dining hall for noon and evening meals, found on the second floor of the Albertinum. This room doubled as the philosophy lecture hall for public lectures and disputations. Students on stipends (called alumni) were allowed to eat here at a reduced rate for up to two years. Goldbeck [1782, 123] reported that 84 students ate at the Convictorium: the 28 Alumnen (or scholarship-students), paying 2 gröschen/week, the 10 amanuenses [glossary] (also paying 2 gröschen), and 46 normal students, who could eat for 4 gröschen/week ith funds to support 28 of these students, as well as the ten student amanuenses working for the faculty senators. See Arnoldt [1746, i.313-19; Goldbeck 1782, 121]; on the allowances for the amanuenses, see Arnoldt [1746, ii.69].

Currency: The currency used in Königsberg in the 18th century appears to have the following conversion rates (see table).

Currency Conversion
1 Reichsthaler (rthl.) = 3 Gulden/Florin (fl.) = 90 Gröschen (gr./gl.) = 1620 Pfennig (pf.)
1 Gulden/Florin (fl.) = 30 Gröschen (gr./gl.) = 540 Pfennig (pf.)
1 Mark = 20 Gröschen (gr./gl.) = 360 Pfennig (pf.)
= 1 Gröschen (gr./gl.) = 18 Pfennig (pf.)

These rates are based on figures found in Arnoldt [1746, i.338], Warda [1901], Kraus [in Reicke 1860, 52], Kant (20 April 1783 letter to the philosophy faculty [Schöndörffer 1986, 213-15], Wasianski [1912, 248]), and various other items in the literature of the period. The abbreviations ‘gl’ and ‘gr’ both refer to a Gröschen, ‘Thl.’ and ‘rthl.’ (Thaler and Reichsthaler) refer to the same thing, and Guilder (or Gulden) and Florin (abbreviated ‘fl’) refer to the same thing. Also, one ducat was worth three Reichsthaler.

Because there were different kinds of Thaler, Gulden, Gröschen, and Pfennig, and many other currencies as well, none of these equivalencies are obvious, although they seem to have been in their day, since so much of this goes unmentioned in the contemporary literature. In general, see Engel [1965], and also Erler’s helpful discussion of monetary equivalents in the context of matriculation fees at Königsberg [1910, xcvii-cxi].

[top] D   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Diktaten: One might advertise a course of lectures that would be read “nach Diktaten”; this meant to conduct the lecture from one’s own notes, rather than following a common textbook.

Dimittiren: To leave, be dismissed (from school), exmatriculate. In the context of the Gymnasia, it is most equivalent to having graduated, implying that one has successfully completed the course of studies. Klemme [1994] reproduces a certificate of graduation written by Christoph Samuel Domsien, the inspector of the Collegium Fridericianum, in 1780:

“Patre tandem consentiente e Collegio Fridericiano dimittitur Ioannes Ephraim Lietzau, Borussus. Hic, etsi cereus in vitium flecti, monitoribus tamen non semper fuit asper. Ceterum, quae ei, ex praescripto regio illo typis expresso, sunt praestanda, sine dubio praestabit. / Regiom.: di XXII Martii / (L. S.) / C. S. Domsien / Inspect: prim: Col: Frid:” [more]

Disputatio: Disputation. A disputation was a printed [more] and publicly held lecture, often in the large lecture room of the main university building, followed by various respondents (students, chosen by the lecturer, as well as any faculty who chose to respond). There were three basic kinds of disputations: (1) the pro receptione was part of one’s habilitation (after which one received the right to teach at the university; Kant’s 1755 New Elucidation [writings] served this purpose [more]), (2) the pro loco was the inaugural address expected whenever someone entered a professorship (see Kant’s 1770 Inaugural Dissertation [writings] [more]), and (3) disputations required on a regular basis of professors (Kant gave just one of these: his 1756 Physical Monadology [writings]). This third class of disputation shrank considerably in number over the course of the 18th century. See the discussion at Professors.

Disputatorium: See: Practicals.

Doktor: See: Magister.

Dt.: Latin for detit; it is found, for instance, on lists of students enrolled in a course of private lectures, to indicate that they have paid for the course.

durchschossen: Interleaved. Kant had most of his textbooks bound with blank sheets of paper between the printed sheets. This allowed more room for annotations, and was easily done, since one typically bought books as folded but unbound printed sheets, and had them bound oneself.

d.W.G.B.: “Der Weltweisheit und Gottesgelahrtheit Beflissener” — literally, “one dedicated to philosophy and theology” — a common epithet students gave to themselves (such as in closing a letter, or putting their name to a book of lecture notes). Sometimes written, sometimes in abbreviation. This appears on several sets of the lecture notes. Dobbek [1961, 84] claims that Herder signed a letter with this phrase when he wrote to the Mohrunger Magistrat on April 20, 1763 (presumably to be considered for the Dohna stipend). In the Hechsel logic and Wolter physical geography notes, the abbreviation “d:G:G:B:” likely expands to “der Gottes Gelehrtheit Beflissener” — one dedicated to theology — likewise the “d. G. G. Be.” found on the Volckmann metaphysics. In the Hintz logic we find: “von / G. W. Hintz / B.d.R.B.” In the Hoffmann logic, Lehmann [1966b, Ak. 24: 984n] reads “D R-G B” as: “Der Rechts Gelehrsamkeit Beflissener” (thus, a law student).

[top] E   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Endpaper: See Vorsatzblatt.

Erzpriester: A superintendant of the schools in a church district.

Etats-ministerium: Budget Ministry; the government office in Königsberg through which the Berlin government exercized its authority. [more]

Examinatorium: See: Practicals.

[top] F   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Facultas: Faculty, although better understood as a division, college, or school, as in the sense of “college of arts and sciences” or “school of engineering”.

Famulus: An assistant, often a student, generally used to take down dictation, to copy, and to run errands. An amanuensis [see] is a famulus whose job description is primarily literary. A dictionary of 1781 offers this definition:

Famulus, a poor student who receives free lodging and other benefits from a professor, and whose job is to care for the tables and chairs in the lecture room and to collect student payments for the course.” (Famulus, ein armer Student, der bey einem Professor freye Wohnung und andere Vortheile hat, in den Hörsälen die Plätze beschlägt, und das Honorarium für die Kollegia eintreibt”) [Kindleben 1781, 78].

Folio (2°): From the Latin folium (leaf), this term refers to either a single sheet or leaf of a book or manuscript, or a certain size of a book, roughly 8 x 11 inches. See: Bogen.

[top] G   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Geheimrat: Privy councillor.

geripptes Papier:

GStA, GStAPK: Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin-Dahlem. [library list]

[top] H   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Habilitationschrift: A dissertation was necessary in order to become a Magister (what would be equivalent to a Ph.D today); a second dissertation was then required before one had the right to lecture: this second work was what is now called the Habilitationsschift, and conferred upon one the venia legendi [see], making one a magister legens [see]. This was necessary before one became a lecturer (Privatdozent).

Hofmedicus: Court physician. See also: Leibarzt.

Hofmeister: These were private tutors that wealthier students occasionally had to assist them in their university studies. The Hofmeister would occasionally accompany the student to lectures and take notes or copy out the student’s notes into a neater hand (perhaps also filling them out in doing so). Some of these Hofmeistern had already studied with Kant, and so were now hearing the lectures a second time through. [more]

Hofrat: Court advisor. (Not sure what the office involves; sitting on some committee or other, or merely honorific.)

[top] I   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Inspicient: In his description of the Collegium Fridericianum in Königsberg, Goldbeck [1782, 225-30] describes this as a university student, generally one in the theology faculty, who supervises boarding students at the school, receiving in exchange free room and board at the school (sleeping in the same room as his two charges) and a small salary. He leads them in, or oversees, their daily devotions, helps with their studies, and is responsible for keeping the general order. J. G. Herder [bio], for example, served as an Inspicient when he began his university studies, and eventually he began teaching classes at the school.

[top] J   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

[top] K   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

KGPZ: The Königsbergsche Gelehrte und Politische Zeitungen (Kanter, 1764-1801). See Periodicals.

1763 map

Königsberg: (Latin: Regiomontanus) (See also the entry on Prussia.) Königsberg lies about 30 kilometers inland on the Pregel River. A settlement began there in 1255 by the Teutonic Knights; in 1724 — the year of Kant’s birth — the three towns of Kneiphof (the island in the river), Altstadt (north of the island), and Löbenicht (north-east of the island) were joined into the city of Königsberg. The university buildings and the cathedral were situated at the east end of the Kneiphof island (see Albertinum). [1890 street map (232 kb)] [June 1807 map of the surrounding area (388 kb)] [1910 street map (584 kb)]. A Russian/German website offers side-by-side photographs of pre-WWII and current views of the city, along with a map-detail indicating the location and direction that was photographed.

Kant offered this description of his hometown in the Preface to his Anthropologie (1798):

A large city such as Königsberg on the river Pregel, which, is the center of a kingdom, in which the provincial councils of the government are located, which has a university (for cultivation of the sciences) and which has also the right location for maritime commerce — a city which, by way of rivers, has the advantages of commerce both with the interior of the country and with neighboring and distant lands of different languages and customs, can well be taken as an appropriate place for broadening one’s knowledge of human beings as well as of the world, where this knowledge can be acquired without even traveling. [AK. 7: 120-21n; Louden tr.]

Kommunität: See: Convictorium.

Kuratorium: See: Oberkuratorium.

Kursus: Course-work. This refers to the sequence of courses necessary to complete an academic program, such as Law, Medicine, Theology, or Philosophy.

Kustos (pl. Kustoden): Catch-word; A word at the very bottom of a page which is identical to the first word of the next page; used to insure the correct ordering of text and pages. These are used in various of the handwritten manuscripts, and occasionally show up in machine-reproduced books.

[top] L   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Lage (pl. Lagen): Signature(s). A set of printed sheets, folded in half and sewn together at the fold; these are then collected together an bound into a book. Because a folded sheet results in 4 pages of text, the page-counts of signatures are always in multiples of four. See Bogen.

Lecture, public and private (See: Vorlesung)

Leibarzt: Personal physican. At least in the context of the court, this was a higher position than that of Hofmedicus [see], in terms of both social prestige and income.

[top] M   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Magister: (= one who teaches). Typically used of those graduating from the philosophy faculty (graduates of the higher three faculties were typically called “Doctors” (= one who is taught), abbreviated with a “D.” In publications, announcements, etc., the “M” in “M. Immanuel Kant” stands for “Magister”. See: Graduation: Magister or Doctor

Magister legens: A “reading master,” i.e., one who has the privilege to lecture at the university by virtue of having submitted a successful Habilitationsschrift [see].

Matriculation (German: Immatrikulation): To enroll at a university. This played a slightly different role in 18th century German universities than it does now. Although enrollment records (das Matrikel) were carefully kept and guarded, the procedure for entering student names would differ from school to school, and apart from human error, there were certain commonplace practices that make the records questionable for using as a guide of actual student entrollment: for instance, the names of dignitaries merely passing through town might be entered; some students would fail to ever enroll while others would enroll but then return home and not begin studies for another semester or two. An example of the process of matriculation is given in an account of J. G. Herder [more].

Matrikel: The book at the university in which the matriculations of students and faculty are recorded.

Michaelis: When referring to a date, this is the German name for the Feast Day of St Michael (or Michaelmas), which is always on September 29, and has served as the traditional beginning of the winter semester in many European universities, with Easter marking the beginning of summer semester (see).

Mitschrift: Original notes (see: Nachschrift).

[top] N   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Nachlaß: Literary remains. A brief description of Kant’s Nachlaß is provided in the overview of the Academy Edition.

Nachschreiber: One who writes a Nachschrift.

Nachschrift: ‘Nachschrift’ is best thought of as a generic term covering different sorts of handwritten materials, all of which have this much in common: (1) the writer of the text is not the source of the text (the copied text is either someone’s speech or lecture, or another written text) and (2) the original source is the spoken word. There are different sorts of ‘Nachschrift’ possible, and the following terms and meanings are the preferred: (a) Mitschrift (original notes): here the text is written down in the lecture hall. Such original notes are typically marked by an abundance of abbreviations and truncated sentences, and almost necessarily written in pencil; (b) Reinschrift (fair copy): here the original notes have been re-written, normally in a neater hand, with fewer abbreviations and truncated sentences, and with fewer spelling and grammatical errors. The student and/or Hofmeister would typically do this once back at home after the lecture; (c) Abschrift (copy): this is a copy of another written text, often for the purpose of selling it to other students. With such copies, detected errors here might also be removed from the text, but the intention is to copy a set of notes, not simply to clean-up and perhaps amplify one’s own notes taken in class. Typical errors found in copies are missing words or entire lines. 

We occasionally find in the German literature the words ‘Urschrift’ or ‘unmittelbare Niederschrift’ (original or immediate notes): these refer to the Mitschrift. Occasionally ‘Nachschrift’ is used in to mean the same as ‘Mitschrift’. I use the words ‘original notes’, ‘fair copy’, and ‘copy’ in the senses noted above.

NDB: Neue Deutsche Biographie, edited by the Historische Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1953- ). [more]

NL: An abbreviation for Nachlaß, or literary remains. For instance, manuscript collections mentioned in these pages include NL-Kant, NL-Herder, and NL-Adickes.

[top] O   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Oberkonsistorium: Superior Consistory; here, the administrative body based in Berlin that oversaw the Lutheran church in Prussia.

Oberkuratorium: This is the Berlin administrative control of the universities. Until 1747, a separate Kuratorium oversaw each of the four Prussian universities; in 1747 these were combined into a single Oberkuratorium [Bornhak 1900, 180], with the following ministers (and their terms of office):

• von Cocceji, von Marschall, and Bielefeld (1747-1749),

• von Danckelmann (1748-1763),

• Freiherr von Fürst und Kupferberg (1763-1771),

• von Münchhausen (1771),

• Karl Abraham Freiherr von Zedlitz (1771-1787) [bio],

• Johann Christoph von Wöllner (1787-1798),

• Julius Freiherr von Massow (1798-1816).

Octavo (8°): A term designating a certain book size, roughly 4 x 5 1/2 inches (see: Bogen)

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Page: One side of a sheet or leaf of paper.

Pedelle: These were students hired as errand-boys on behalf of the rector and senate, and there were normally two of them. Their responsibilities included the distributing of programs and invitations, making the rounds of the senator’s homes to collect votes or announce special meetings, posting notices on the university message board, arresting members of the community whose untoward behavior warranted such, hauling in unregistered students to the rector for their punishment, and walking along either side of the rector during official processions, each carrying a silver scepter and dressed in red cloaks with white collars. For all this they received free lodging in the Collegio, some firewood, and 40 gulden per year [Goldbeck 1782, 56-57].

Physicus: A medical officer (“city doctor” or “provincial doctor”). This office originated during the plague years of the medieval period. At first a municipal office, in later years it tended to became territorial. It was salaried and was almost always reserved for graduates of university medical programs (i.e., MDs). The primary duties were to care for the indigent and to inspect the various healthcare providers (such as checking that apothecaries used the proper medicaments and charged a fair price; likewise barbers, surgeons, bathkeepers, and of course other physicians). In university towns, a member of the medical faculty would generally hold this office; see the biographies of Heinrich von Sanden and Johann Christoph Bohl. [Broman 1996 offers a useful discussion.]

Pietism: Pietism was an evangelical religious movement of the 17th and 18th century, set primarily in Germany and rooted in the writings of Philipp Jakob Spener (1635-1705). In reaction to the dry formalism of the orthodox Lutheran Church, the Pietists emphasized a religion of personal experience and spiritual rebirth, leading to a new life that should differ markedly from that of the non-Christian. Spener’s Pia Desideria (1675) included a six-point plan for reforming Christendom: (1) promoting personal and group Bible study, (2) emphasising Luther’s “priesthood of all believers,” (3) not merely believing in God’s will, but also acting accordingly, (4) entering into religious controversies with heretics and non-believers with a loving regard for the other, (5) educating new pastors so as to develop the spiritual commitment of their hearts as well as the cultivation of their minds, (6) preaching in order to edify and cultivate one’s inner piety. In Königsberg, the leading Pietists would have included Heinrich Lysius, G. F. Rogall, F. A. Schultz, D. H. Arnoldt, J. D. Kypke, and D. L. Salthenius.

In his sketch of J. G. Hamann, Isaiah Berlin characterized pietism as...

... that wing of German Lutheranism which, inspired by the revolt against book learning and intellectualism generally that broke out in Germany towards the end of the seventeenth century, laid stress on the depth and sincerity of personal faith and direct union with God, acheived by scrupulous self-examination, passionate, intensely introspective religious feeling, and concentrated self-absorption and prayer, whereby the sinful, corrupt self was humbled and the soul left open to the blessing of divine, unmerited grace. [Berlin 2000, 258]

Gause [1996, ii.119-20] wrote that “most of the students [at Königsberg in the mid-18th century] were enemies of pietism, which they not incorrectly saw as an infringement on their freedom in the sense of punitive study ordinances and discipline. They broke the windows of Pietist professors and made ‘cat music’. The Pietists, for their part, proceeded like missionaries in the Kingdom of Satan with a mandate to convert the heathen and to purify Babylon of sin.”

Place Name equivalents (p=Polish, g=German, l=Latin, e=English) of select cities: Königsberg(g)/Regiomanti(l), Gdańsk(p)/Danzig(g)/Gedani(l), Olsztyn(p)/Allenstein(g), Torun(p)/Thorn(g), Warszawa(p)/Warschau(p)/Warsaw(e), Wroclaw(p)/Breslau(g).

Practicals: These were variously called repetitorium, examinatorium, disputatorium, or some combination, but appear to refer to roughly the same thing, namely, a scheduled event in which students had the opportunity to articulate their understanding of material presented in the lectures and where they could ask the professor questions.[more] 

For Kant, and perhaps at Königsberg in general, these appear to have been one hour events, held every Wednesday or Saturday (although in Kant’s later years only on Saturday), at which time students could ask questions, and in turn be quizzed. After Kant became a Full Professor, the Practical was always over the public lecture being held that semester (either logic or metaphysics).[more] 

Students receiving a stipend of some sort — and there were a great many at Könïgsberg — were often required to attend these Practicals as proof of their academic progress.[more] Kant’s biographer R. B. Jachmann wrote: “To give evidence of diligence and attention in Kant’s repetitorio was the surest way, as a student, to win his favor. But he also quite openly showed his displeasure if, during the repetition hour [Wiederholungsstunde], the student was unable to answer” [more] [repr. Malter 1990, 221].

Präses, praeses: Vorstand (eines kirchl. Vereins); (evang. Kirche) Vorsitzender (einer Landessynode) — the presider or chairperson. At the university, public disputations generally had a named praeses who would preside over the event.

Privatdozent (plural: Privatdozenten): Unsalaried lecturer at the university who has habilitated; a magister legens [see].

Privatissima: A course of lectures [see] offered privately to a closed group of students. These tended to pay better than the non-public lectures that one offered for honoraria. [more]

Professor (ordentliche and außerordentliche): These terms are perhaps best rendered as full (ordentliche) and associate (außerordentliche) professors, and both are to be distinguished from the unsalaried lecturers (Privatdozenten). An ordentliche Professor was a salaried teaching position that carried the obligation to offer certain lectures free of charge (i.e., publicly), usually one set of lectures per semester, with the topic and order given mandated by the state. These professorships were relatively stable and normally retained until death (see Professors: Introduction). There were far fewer außerordentliche Professoren; these come with little or no salary attached and usually with only nominal teaching obligations. Associate professorships were often quite ephemeral, although we do find lecturers applying for vacated positions — for instance, Kant had applied for Martin Knutzen’s position [more].

Prussia (1648-1795)

Prussia: Königsberg and its environs was the original Prussia, and the people living there authentic Prussians. As with any acre of land in Europe, Prussia enjoyed a complicated history, which in a nutshell looks something like this: The land had been a fiefdom of the Polish kingdom since 1466 (Second Treaty of Torun), but passed by marriage into the house of Hohenzollern in 1618, and gained its sovereignty (and independence from the Polish crown) in 1660 (Peace of Olivia). This occured through the military and diplomatic efforts of the Hohenzollern Friedrich Wilhelm (the “Great Elector” of Brandenburg, ruled 1640-1688).

Brandenburg was part of the Holy Roman Empire, but Prussia was not, and Friedrich Wilhelm’s son (reigned as Elector from 1688-1713, as King in Prussia from 1701) crowned himself on January 18, 1701, in the city of Königsberg, as “Friedrich I, King in Prussia,” becoming now “King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg.” The Hohenzollern lands soon became de facto lands of the independent kingdom of Prussia, and thus separate from the Holy Roman Empire. The royal succession through the 18th century was as follows:

[1] Friedrich I (1657-1713, son of the “Great Elector”; reigned 1701-1713; coronation on 18 January 1701),

[2] Friedrich Wilhelm I (15 Aug 1688 - 31 May 1740, son of Fr. I; reigned 1713-1740; coronation on 11 September 1714),

[3] Friedrich II (24 Jan 1712 - 17 Aug 1786, “the Great,” son of FW I; reigned 1740-1786, coronation on 20 July 1740),

[4] Friedrich Wilhelm II (25 Sep 1744 - 16 Nov 1797, nephew to FII; reigned 1786-1797, coronation on 19 September 1786),

[5] Friedrich Wilhelm III (1770-1840, son of FW II; reigned 1797-1840; coronation on 5 June 1798).

Prussian University: There were four Prussian universities in Kant’s day: Königsberg, Frankfurt an der Oder, Halle, and Duisburg. Frankfurt was the oldest of the four, originally founded as a Catholic institution, but reformed in 1537. Königsberg was founded as a Lutheran institution in 1544, as was Duisburg (1655) and Halle (1694). Halle had the largest enrollments by far, followed by Königsberg, and then Frankfurt and Duisburg [more].

Pulsator: This was a student (specifically, “a Prussian student of good standing”) employed to ring a bell every half-hour of each day to mark when meals began, when it was time to pray, and during disputations and other official ceremonies. The pulsator was paid from fees drawn from the disputatants and participants of other ceremonies, and was given free lodging in the Alumnat [see] [Arnoldt 1746, i.311-12].

[top] Q   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Quarto (4°): A term designating a certain book size, roughly 5 1/2 x 8 inches (see: Bogen)

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Rat: Advisor or Councillor. See: Consistorialrath, Geheimrat, Hofrat.

Recto: The front-side of a sheet/leaf, as opposed to verso (the back-side).

Regiomontanus: Latin: Königsberg (see).

Reinschrift: Fair copy (see: Nachschrift).

Rektor/Prorektor: Rector/Prorector. The rector was the academic and administrative head of the university. In 18th century Königsberg, the prorector was generally understood to be the previous semester’s rector, who was available to fill-in should the rector be incapacitated.

Rektorwahl/Prorektorwahl: Literally, the “election of the rector/prorector,” although in 18th century Königsberg the office of rector rotated among the university senators in a mechanical fashion that involved no choosing or voting. ‘Prorector’ was occasionally used as title for the acting rector since, officially, the rector was the political ruler (e.g., Frederick the Great). [more]

Repetitorium: See: Practicals.

Russian Occupation: The Russian Occupation of Königsberg lasted from January 1758 to July 1762 (more or less). It occurred in the context of the Seven Years’ War (1756-63), which began when Friedrich II occupied Saxony in August 1756 with 61,000 men. Friedrich had to cede Königsberg to the Russians when his army later lost the battle at Groß Jägersdorf against the Russians; fortunately, Königsberg itself was spared any fighting. By January 14 (1758) the Prussian military abandoned the city, and a few days later the Royal officials did likewise. On January 21, a capitulation with the Russians was concluded and the city was given over without a battle. The next day, with the church bells ringing, the Russian general William von Fernor marched into the city and set up house in the castle. It appears that the Russian calendar (which was still Julian) was not implemented during the occupation.

Empress Elizabeth died on 25 December 1761. Peter III, Elizabeth’s nephew and a Prussiaphile, assumed the throne and immediately ceased all hostile activities. He then entered an alliance with Prussia on 5 May 1762 (announced in Königsberg on July 5) and declared war on Denmark (a traditional enemy of Holstein). In Königsberg, the Russian commander ceased to be in charge, but Russian troops remained there. The Germans and Russians celebrated Catherine’s name day together on July 10, and a Friedensfest on July 14.

Peter was forced to abdicate by his German wife, Catherine (a princess of Anhalt-Zerbst), and on July 7 he was murdered by her lover and his brothers. The newly-widowed Catherine II (“the Great”) ascended the throne on June 18 and claimed as void the peace made by Peter, after which the Russian commander in Königsberg again reasserted authority, and Russia again became an occupying force. Catherine soon changed her mind, however, and on August 6 the whole affair was declared a misunderstanding. The German nobility were allowed to reenter the city, and Catherine pulled her soldiers back to Russia (in September). See also Gause [1996, ii.154] and Kuehn [2001, 112-18].

[top] S   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

SBPK: Berlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage (Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz). [library list]

Schwarze Brett: A term still used, this refers to a general announcement board, which at the university in Königsberg consisted of a shallow box with a chalkboard on the back and with two hinged doors with a grill (and presumably glass) in the frame of each door, and with a decorative top and a bas-relief image of Albrecht above it. This was hung on the outside wall of the main university building, just to the left of the front entrance, and was the place for official notices to be posted, as well as course offerings (before WS 1770/71, it was the only official forum for private lecturers to announce their courses). It can be clearly seen in the engravings reproduced in Hubatch [1966, 10, 16]. The first engraving shows the courtyard of the university, c.1830, behind the Professors’ Vault; the Schwarze Brett can be seen to the far left, hanging on the outer-wall of the building. The second engraving stems from the 300-year anniversary in 1844, and depicts students dressed in current (left) and older (right) fashion.

Semester: The academic year consisted of two semesters, winter (WS) and summer (SS), divided by St. Michael’s (September 29) and Easter, with lectures beginning, at the very earliest, eight days after the Sunday following each of these dates. Semester classes always began on a Monday, and most classes met four times each week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday), but we know with Kant (and there is no reason to think Kant unique in this) that he began his private lectures later in the week (often that Thursday), and his courses on physical geography and on anthropology were offered on a Wednesday/Saturday schedule, and so would typically begin the first Wednesday. See the discussion of semester length in Professors: The Academic Schedule, and the table of semesters.

Senatstube: The room in which the faculty senate would meet. This was across the hall from the large auditorium in the Collegium Albertinum; see also the discussion of the Academic Senate in the "Universities" pages.

Sheet: See Blatt.

Signature: See Lage.

Signum depositionis: A document given to a candidate for matriculation after he has passed the entrance exam given by the dean of the philosophy faculty, and is to be presented to the rector before he can be matriculated (thus serving as proof of having passed the entrance exam). This practice was introduced in 1717. Cf. Goldbeck [1782, 28, 78]. Hippel [bio] mentions this in his Lebensläufe novel: “Nur das Signum depositionis. Er schrieb uns einen Passirzettel, einen Freibrief, womit wir uns noch bei Sr. Magnificenz [the Rector] zu melden hätten. [...] Nachdem das Signum depositionis unterschrieben und besiegelt war....” [1759, ii.145-47].

SS: Summer Semester. See : Semester.

Stammbuch: (Latin: album amicorum). An album for collecting comments or sayings and signatures of one’s friends, relatives, and acquaintances. These were commonplace in the 18th century, something like a portable guestbook, and various of Kant’s entries in student Stammbücher have been preserved and reprinted in the Academy edition (Ak. 12:415-18). (The Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has made available online an example of such a student album, from the years 1711-1726.)

StB: city library (Stadtbibliothek). [library list]

SUB: State and University Library (Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek). [library list]

Subscription List: Students wanting to attend a private lecture would sign their name to a subscription list for that course of lectures. The list was maintained by the individual professors, so the student would need to visit the professor in their home to sign the list. Signing the list indicated the student’s interest in attending the course, and obligated them to pay the required honorarium at the end of the semester. Many students would have their fee waived, and others would not be able to pay until the following semester (one finds reports that prompt payments of these fees were both appreciated and uncommon). These lists often indicated the time that the lecture was held, and would also show the number of students attending, and so are a useful (if rare) source of information on Kant’s lecturing activity. Some of these lists have been preserved, for instance the list for Kant’s anthropology lectures of WS 1792/93 (dated October 17, 1792) is housed in Berlin [SBPK, Autogr. I 2426].

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Terminus a quo / terminus ad quem: The earliest (a quo) and latest (ad quem) possible date for an event. For instance, in attempting to determine the semester from which a set of notes originated, one might look for internal evidence (mention of a publicly recorded event or reference to a publication) that would mark the earliest possible source-date for the text (the terminus a quo). A date tied to the material production of the notes themselves — often this is a date written on the manuscript itself — often serves as the latest possible date (the terminus ad quem). One can also speak of the terminus post quem (the limit after which; a quo) and the terminus ante quem (the limit before which; ad quem).

Testimonia: These are letters of recommendation (Zeugnisse), and were often the only indication of the student’s academic performance. Stark [1993, 260-61] lists evidence of ten such letters written by Kant (for Baczko, Ebel, Elsner, Flach, Hagen, Jester, Lehmann, Levin, Passarge, and Schröder); the text of seven of these are extant, and all but two are in Latin. Two samples follow:

Theodor Wilhelm Ebel: “Virum iuvenem eximium Theodor Guiliem. Ebel Bialla Boruss. I.V.St, collegia mea philosophica tam privata quam publica, et praeterea repetitorium frequentasse, testor. Regiom d 14 Febr. 1788 I.Kant. Log et M. P.O” [Baczko 1824, ii.3; qtd. Stark 1993, 260]

Christoph Johann Heinrich Elsner: “Dass Herr Christoph Johann Heinr. Elsner, aus Bartenstein in Preussen gebürtig; Sohn des Herrn Dr. Elsner, practischen Medicus in Königsberg: der von Berlin, über Hamburg nach Bordeaux zu Schiffe abgegangen, bey mir alle seine philosophische Collegia frequentiert und von seinem Fleiss zu Erwerbung gründlicher Kenntnisse die besten Proben gegeben, bezeuge hiemit. / Koenigsberg, d. 10. Juny 1800. / Immanuel Kant Der Logik und Metaph. / Professor ordin., der Philos. Facult u. der ganzen Universität Senior, der Königl. Preuss. Acad der Wissensch. in Berlin und der Russisch Kayserlichen zu St. Petersburg Mitglied.” [Krause 1920, 140; qtd. Stark 1993, 260]

[top] U   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

UB: University Library (Universitätsbibliothek). [library list]

Urschrift (see Nachschrift)

[top] V   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Venia legendi: The privilege of teaching in the faculty as a Privatdozent (lecturer), conferred upon a Magister by one of the faculties of a university.

Verso: The back-side of a sheet/leaf, as opposed to recto (the front-side).

Vorlage: Model.

Vorlesung: Lecture. The lecture was one of two standard teaching methods at the university in Kant’s day (the other was the Practical [see]), and these semester-long courses of lectures might be either public or private. Public lectures cost nothing to attend, and were given by the full professors (sometimes also by associate professors), for which they were paid a salary. Each full professor was required to give one course of public lectures every semester, with both the topic and the time specified [list of philosophy faculty at Königsberg]. Kant’s public lectures (after becoming a professor in 1770) were Metaphysics (taught in the winter) and Logic (taught in the summer). Private lectures were offered independently of any contract with the government, could be over any topic, so long as one did not violate a boundary with another faculty — e.g., a professor or lecturer in the philosophy faculty, as such, could not lecture on revealed theology, or civil law, or human anatomy, for instance. Students would be charged to attend these private lectures, generally four Reichsthaler per course, although poor students would often ask to attend for free, which Kant occasionally allowed. [more]

Vorlesungsverzeichnis: Lecture catalog (catalogus praelectionum, catalogus lectionum). By law[1], this was to be published and distributed before the beginning of each semester, and no later than eight days after the installation of the new rector — thus, the second Monday after either Easter (for summer semester) or St. Michaels (for winter semester). [more] Included here were all public and private lectures, but not the so-called privatissima [see], which were entirely private arrangements between a professor and a small group of students.

Facsimiles of several of these catalogs are offered in Oberhausen/Pozzo [1999]. Prior to WS 1770/71, when the courses only of professors (full and associate) were listed, the catalog was printed on four folio pages. After this semester, when all offered courses were included, the catalog was printed on eight quarto pages: the title page lists the new rector, the university chancellor, and the four new deans of the faculties, followed by a brief Latin address,[2] and then five pages of the course listings, beginning with the theology courses, then law, then medicine, and finally philosophy. Earlier in the century the philosophy listings were arranged by professor, in order of seniority; later, they were first sub-divided into philology, history, math, and philosophy (which would include logic, metaphysics, practical philosophy, physics, geography, anthropology, political economy, natural law). A much closer description is given in Oberhausen/Pozzo [1999, xli-xliii].

Not all of the announced lectures actually took place; there are university and government records that document courses that were actually completed. The course offerings from WS 1781/82, as listed in the catalog, are included among the Professors pages.


[1] In an edict of 1672, partially reprinted as appendix #69 in Arnoldt [1746, i.408-9]; see also the edict of 17 March 1717, printed as appendix #68.

[2] Oberhausen/Pozzo [1999] suggest that these prefatory addresses were composed by the incoming rector; Dietzsch [2003, 294-96] has more recently argued that they were written by the incoming dean of philosophy, which would mean that we have six brief Latin addresses by Kant — one for each semester that Kant served as dean. Dietzsch offers German translations of these addresses [2003, 297-307; NB: The title page and preface from WS 1785/86 is inadvertently listed in Dietzsch as SS 1785].

Vorsatzblatt: The endpapers (or “endleaves”) of a book, usually of a heavier kind of paper than that used for the body of the book; it is double the size of the normal book pages, with one-half glued to the inside of the cover [Deckel] and the base of the title page. In older books, these end-pages are often decorative or marbled. The next page is the title page, which is the first page of the body of the book (all of the same kind of paper).

[top] W   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

WS: Winter Semester. See: Semester.

[top] Y   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

[top] Z   [ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z ]

Zeugnis: Letter of recommendation (see: Testimonia).

Copyright ©2006 Steve Naragon (Manchester University)
Last modified: 2 Mar 2014
Please send comments and questions to: ssnaragon@manchester.edu