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

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Introduction
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Dating the Notes
Lists: [Published Notes] [Unpublished Notes]
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Descriptions of the Notes (click below):

Kant’s Lectures

> The Student Notes

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Mathematics Notes

Kant taught mathematics a total of fifteen semesters, all at the beginning of his career; the last time was as a privatissima course in WS 1763/64. The only student notes from these lectures stem from Herder (early 1760s), and these are quite fragmentary. Kant used Wolff’s Anfangsgründe aller mathematischen Wissenschaften [1710], of which Kant owned the 1750 edition, and sometimes he used the shorter Auszug aus den Anfangsgründen aller mathematischen Wissenschaften [1713], of which Kant owned the 1749 edition (Kant’s copies have not been found).  See the Mathematics lectures.

Apart from these few lecture notes from Herder, one might also consult the collection of mathematical reflections, ##1-19 [AA 14:3-61], although most of these date from the late 1770s through the 1790s (that is, much later than the Herder lecture notes).

(1) Herder 3

Physical Description and History

Two fragments, four sheets each.  Irmscher is not certain that both stem from Kant’s lectures [Irmscher 1964, 12; and see Lehmann 1980, 658-60].

Location

(1) Ms: Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Haus II, NL-Herder:

XXV.45.  Four sheets (17.5 x 20.5 cm), from a larger printer’s sheet, folded twice.  Paper is ribbed, with a watermark (Irmscher calls it a crowned eagle).  The left-hand margin is marked with a crease down the middle, and contains some marginalia.  Page 8 is blank.  Brown ink throughout.  Printed at AA 29: 49-58.
XXV.46.  Same size and format as the previous.  Page 8 is also blank.  Printed at AA 29: 59-66.

Publications

(1) Irmscher [1964, 17-39].

(2) Lehmann [1980; AA 29: 49-66].  The Academy edition marginal pagination does not include the blank pages.

Dating

Johann Gottfried Herder [bio] matriculated August 10, 1762.  Kant taught mathematics WS 1762/63 and SS 1763 during Herder’s stay in Königsberg (he would not likely have attended Kant’s privatissima course held in WS 1763/64).  If these are in fact notes from Kant’s classroom, then they would need to stem from one of these two semesters. They are also quite brief, and appear to belong to the very beginning of the semester. There is enough overlap between the two manuscripts to infer that they stem from separate semesters — perhaps XXV.45 from WS 1763/64 and XXV.46 from the next semester, SS 1764. If Kant was offering mathematics on a two-semester cycle, with pure (arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry) in the winter and applied (mechanics, hydrostatics, aerometry, and hydraulics) in the summer (see the discussion on the mathematics lectures), then the XXV.46 notes would need to be viewed as a summary of the previous semester before turning to the applied areas.

Böttiger [1998, 125] reports that Herder attended — “with great dilligence” — the mathematics lectures of F. J. Buck [bio], who was at that time the full professor of Logic and Metaphysics, and also appears to have used Wolff for his mathematics lectures.  See also Herder’s notes on metaphysics, physical geography, moral philosophy, physics, and logic.


Copyright ©2006 Steve Naragon (Manchester University)
Last modified: 27 Jan 2009
Please send comments and questions to: ssnaragon@manchester.edu