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

Kant’s Writings
Academy Edition
Kant’s Life


> Describing the Notes
Production of the Notes
Dating the Notes
Lists: [Published Notes] [Unpublished Notes]
Lists: [Composite] [Variant Names] [Menzer 1912] [Locations]

Descriptions of the Notes (click below):

Kant’s Lectures

> The Student Notes

Anthropology Encyclopedia Geography Logic Mathematics Metaphysics Moral Phil. Nat. Law Pedagogy Physics Nat. Theology

Describing the Notes

In a world without limits of time or space, one might expect a more thorough description of each of the manuscripts than is provided in the lists of disciplines above.  What is found instead is work-to-date — already too detailed for the tastes and needs of many, but still suffering from important gaps.

Descriptions of the notes are grouped by discipline (Anthropology, Encyclopedia, etc.) and ordered alphabetically within each discipline.  Please consult the Composite List for an overview of all the manuscripts, or click on one of the disciplines (above) for a list of the notes in that discipline. 

Each manuscript is given an entry with the following sorts of information (when available or appropriate): other names or designations of the manuscript used by previous scholars (knowing this is critical when making use of older literature; these have been collected into a list of Variant Names); a physical description and history of the manuscript (what it looks like, where it came from); information on its location (either present, or the last known location — giving the city, the library or archive, and the cataloging signature when appropriate), as well as the location of copies or films that we know about; publication information (transcriptions as well as translations — here the bibliography must be consulted for a full citation); dating (the best guess of current scholarship on when the source lecture occurred); and contents (which topics are covered in the notes, as well as their completeness).

A proper description of the manuscripts requires some knowledge of the paper involved.  A printer’s sheet (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, but were roughly 34 x 43 cm.  How many times these printer’s sheets were folded determined the final size of the individual sheets making up the printed book, and thus the book format:  Folio (2°) is where the printer’s sheet is folded once, resulting in two sheets or four pages; Quarto (4°) has two folds (=  4 sheets or 8 pages); Octavo (8°) has three folds (=  8 sheets or 16 pages).  It was common in the past for libraries to shelve books by size (so as to economize shelf space); consequently, the size of the book (folio, quarto, or octavo) was commonly given in the catalog-listing of books, enabling librarians to locate them more easily.  Of course, given the lack of a standard size of printer’s sheets, 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.  Most of the lecture notes are quarto size, and most are also bound.[1]

What in our descriptions is called a folded sheet is a single sheet of paper, folded once in the middle.  A signature (Lage; pl. Lagen) consists of one or more folded sheets where, if there is more than one, they will be nested within the outermost, such that with the crease to the left, one should be able to read the text continuously when turning the pages, as when reading a book.  A signature consisting of a single folded sheet will therefore consist of two sheets (Blatt; pl. Blätter) or four pages (Seite; pl. Seiten).  Occasionally sheets are discussed in terms of their two sides: the front (or recto) and the back (or verso).  If any of this is unclear, then take a piece of paper, fold it once, put the creased side to the left, and start numbering it like you would a book; you will immediately see that there is one folded sheet, but two sheets and four pages.

Some manuscripts will have consecutive numbers or letters on the first page of each signature to indicate their proper ordering.  Also, signatures involving multiple folded sheets will often have catchwords (Kustos; pl. Kustoden) at the bottom of the page; these are typically a single word written at the right-hand side of the bottom margin that matches the first word beginning the next page.  Occasionally these catchwords are simply the last word or two of the page, which are then repeated on the following page.

Whenever measurements are provided of manuscripts, they are of the individual sheets (not an unfolded sheet, which would be twice as large).  Signatures consisting of more than one folded sheet are sometimes bound, but often not.  A standard size for a signature is four-folded sheets, resulting in a 16 page signature.  There are exceptions; for instance, some of the Herder notes consist of a printer’s sheet folded twice (resulting in 4 quarto sized sheets), but left uncut, with notes then written on the resulting 8 pages.

Many of the manuscripts were left unpaginated.  When they were paginated by the original users, however, they typically numbered the pages individually, starting with the first page of text.  A bound volume might have as its first sheet an end-paper blank on both sides, then a sheet with a title page on the front side, and blank on the back, with the first page of text occurring on the front of the third sheet.  If the pagination is entered by a later librarian, quite often only the sheets are numbered, with the front and back pages of a sheet indicated by an apostrophe (so: 1, 1’, 2, 2’) or with recto and verso (so: 1r, 1v, 2r, 2v).

The endpaper (Vorsatzblatt) used next to the front and back covers of cloth-bound books is typically heavier than the paper used in the rest of the book, and is often marbled or textured on one side.  It is a double-sized sheet, with one half glued to the inside of the cover, and the other half free, serving as the first and last sheets of the book.

[1] In Kant’s day it was not uncommon to buy the uncut printed sheets, rather than a bound book, and then have them bound by a professional bookbinder.

Copyright ©2006 Steve Naragon (Manchester University)
Last modified: 19 Jul 2014
Please send comments and questions to: ssnaragon@manchester.edu