On the 300th anniversary of the birth of Immanuel Kant

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The combination of giftedness with a strong character and constant work gives what is called genius – it was the family upbringing received by Immanuel Kant that became the foundation of the philosopher’s personality

By Irina Kuznetsova, a Doctor of Philosophy, Professor at Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University

The role of the family in the development of Immanuel Kant

Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s statement that we all come from childhood is well known and often quoted. The life story of Immanuel Kant confirms this idea. Besides, considering the pages from his biography about the great philosopher’s childhood is essential for modern parents and for pedagogy in general. In addition, it is useful to compare the principles of upbringing in the family of Immanuel Kant with the education that has been practised in Russian families for many centuries. This comparison may help us identify common features of educational influence that are important for the formation of personality.

Immanuel Kant was born on 22nd April 1724. His father Johann Georg Kant expressed his joy at the birth of his fourth child by writing in his home diary: “On Saturday, 22nd April, at 5 a.m., my son Emmanuel came into this world. Lord, grant him grace till the blessed end of his life. May the blessing of Jesus Christ be with him!”

Kant was born into an artisan family of modest means. Johann Georg Kant (1683–1746), was a saddler, i.e. a harness-maker for horses. In 1715 he married Anna Regina Reuter (1697–1737), whose parents belonged to the same class. The couple brought up six children – four daughters and two sons. The age difference between the boys was eleven years. Immanuel was the elder brother.

Recalling his childhood, Kant, when he had already become famous, emphasised that he had never heard or seen anything unfair or immoral in his parents’ house, and his parents had never used rude words. The atmosphere of kindness, the absence of rudeness in the family, without any doubt, contributed to the fact that the children sincerely loved and respected their parents, treating each other kindly.

The atmosphere of kindness and love in the home of an ordinary Königsberg artisan Johann Georg Kant had a wholesome effect on the characters of the children: they grew up calm, friendly and truthful because they were not afraid of unfair punishment. They developed a sense of self-worth.

In Baptism the future great philosopher received the name Emanuel because he was baptised on the feast-day of St Emmanuel, who is especially venerated in East Prussia. Later, as a student at the Collegium Fridericianum, Kant changed his name to Immanuel, which means “God is with us” in Hebrew. Thus, as a boy Kant emphasised his religiosity and commitment to Christianity.

Immanuel had a sickly constitution, he was a fragile and physically weak boy. Anna Regina put a lot of effort into improving his health. She tried to train her son by physical exercises and long walks, instilling hygienic skills in him. Anna Regina inspired her son with the idea of the importance of a strict diet and daily routine to keep in good health.

On becoming an adult Kant calculated that in order to fulfill all the tasks set out in scientific research he must live till eighty. Remembering his mother’s words about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, after a series of experiments he developed such a daily routine, thanks to which he remained healthy and vigorous till old age. He lived till the age of eighty.

Surprisingly, Kant’s daily routine resembled so-called intermittent fasting recommended by many modern nutritionists. This method of health improvement and longevity is based on the idea that the interval between the last and the first meals of the day should take from twelve to sixteen hours. Kant would finish his hearty lunch no earlier than 3 p.m. and would not eat anything till the following morning, when, getting out of bed at five a.m., he drank a cup of weak tea or coffee. So it was over sixteen hours without food. According to modern concepts, precisely this interval between food intake is needed so that autophagy (“autophagy”, which means “self-eating” in Greek, is a natural process of self-purification, destruction and digesting of intercellular components of living organisms. – Ed.) can digest the substances that have not been digested by the body, and at the same time destroy viruses and bacteria.

Kant never liked to dine alone, but always over a conversation. Work by Emil Doerstling, citra 1893

A strict daily routine contributed to the fact that Kant stayed healthy even in old age, had a healthy complexion and had good spirits. But, apparently, the most important factor in the philosopher’s good health was that he did what he loved, did not lose his love of knowledge from an early age, and his benevolent attitude towards those around him was returned to him with respect, trust and gratitude of his students and friends, which, in turn, generated a feeling of joy and buoyancy in the thinker’s soul.

But let’s get back to Kant’s childhood. The family was big, so it was not easy to keep house: to feed the whole family, do all the washing, put things in order … However, the future philosopher’s mother, despite her busy schedule, found time to walk with her children along the Pregel River, which was visible from the windows of their small house. They also walked along the Philosophy Dam, which was an embankment with a footpath among the water meadows. In modern Kaliningrad Elblongskaya Street runs there.

During these outings Anna Regina spoke about the plants and birds they observed. She fostered in the children an interest in the world around them and a careful attitude towards God’s Creation. In the evenings, together with their mother, the children looked at the starry sky, marvelling at the greatness of the universe. Anna Regina read the Gospel to the children, explaining to them the meaning of Christ’s commandments and thereby instructing them in proper behaviour and action. Joint reading and conversations started the formation of the children’s morality.

It is noteworthy that, talking about the upbringing that was characteristic of the Russian people, the wonderful historian Vasily Klyuchevsky wrote that “the whole world of God was moved under the roof of the house, and home would become a small image of the Universe: maybe that’s why heavenly bodies, a planetary system, circles and other similar things were sometimes painted on the ceilings of ancient Russian wealthy houses, as early Russian astronomers used to say.” Russian children received initial ideas about the Universe from their parents both in nature and under the roofs of their houses. This determined the universality of knowledge and activity in their later lives. Kant would later note this distinctive feature of Russian peasants.

Anna Regina worked hard, trying to create a cosy, kind atmosphere in the family. But human strength is not infinite: she died prematurely of an infectious disease. Immanuel was only about fourteen at that time, but his mother’s influence was so great that he experienced it all his life, as in his declining years, being a famous philosopher, he wrote: “I will never forget my mother. She nurtured the first buds of goodness in me, opened my heart to the impressions of nature, awakened and expanded my ideas, and her instructions had a continuous salvific effect on my life.”

Immanuel’s father, Johann Georg Kant, worked hard. His honesty and conscientiousness earned him the respect of fellow saddlers. It was in the house of Johann Georg Kant that saddlers would meet to discuss important matters. One of those discussions was related to an unpleasant story for the saddlers’ workshop. The tanners sold the saddlers practically rotten leather, and the saddlers suffered great losses because of this. They met at Kant’s house to discuss the situation. Johann Georg Kant, who was highly esteemed by his colleagues, uttered the words that were imprinted on his elder son’s mind: “We will not take revenge,” Johann Georg said. “We have hands and skills. We will restore our prosperity with our labour.” Immanuel Kant remembered the idea that work forms the basis of well-being for the rest of his life. And he accepted the statement about the inadmissibility of revenge.

It was the example set by Anna Regina and Johann Georg Kant that determined their children’s moral make-up. The exceptional importance of the parents’ behavior was also highlighted in Russian people’s pedagogy, which was stressed by Vasily Klyuchevsky: “The child was supposed to be brought up not so much by the lessons he listened to, but by the moral atmosphere he breathed. It was not a five-hour, but a minute-by-minute action, through which the child absorbed information, views, feelings, and habits. No matter how unyielding the nature of the child was, this continuously dripping drop was capable of wearing away any educational stone.”

Immanuel Kant’s parents were religious. They were pietists. Pietism is a movement within Protestantism that does not recognise external Church rites, but requires deep sincere faith and continuous moral self-improvement. Kant gave this definition of pietism: “Let them say about pietism whatever they want, but people who took it seriously showed their best side. They possessed noble human qualities – calmness, a cheerful disposition and inner peace, which was not disturbed by any passion. They were not afraid of need or persecution, no strife could bring them into a state of hostility and anger.”

Immanuel Kant, too, became a sincere believer. He felt deeply the idea of the need for continuous internal moral self-improvement, making this idea among the leading ones in his theory of ethics.

It should be noted that by encouraging her son’s inquisitiveness, supporting and developing his love of knowledge, Anna Regina awakened and strengthened not only his interest in knowledge. She helped his talents manifest themselves, furthering the formation of the most important moral principles that determine character. Immanuel inherited love for work and the ability to work conscientiously from his parents, and the combination of giftedness with a strong character and constant work gives what is called genius. It was the family upbringing received by Immanuel Kant that became the foundation of the philosopher’s personality.

Not far from Kant’s parents’ house, near St George’s Hospital, approximately where the Kaliningrad Maritime Fishing College is now situated, there was an elementary school, which Immanuel Kant began to attend. It was called Forstadt Hospital School. He joined it at the age of five. There he was taught how to read, to write, and the basics of arithmetic. For many children of the same social background as Immanuel Kant, this knowledge, according to their parents, was enough. However, Johann Georg Kant and his spouse believed that their sons should receive a good education. At first, special attention was given to the elder, Immanuel.

The best educational institution, whose graduates, as a rule, entered university, was called the Collegium Fridericianum. Its director was Pastor Franz Schultz, a highly educated man, a student of Christian Wolff, who, in turn, was a student of the great scientist Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. It is noteworthy that Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov was Wolff’s student, and one of those for whom the scientist had high expectations. Later, at university, Kant was taught by another of Wolff’s students, Professor Martin Knutzen. So we can even speak about a special atmosphere of the age, in which the intellectual movements and accomplishments of people belonging to different nations and cultures were united. So, Pastor Schultz headed the pietist movement in East Prussia, enjoyed King Frederick William I’s confidence and was, very importantly for Kant’s destiny, Anna Regina’s father-confessor, and after her death – the father-confessor of Johann Georg Kant. Franz Schultz, director of the Collegium Fridericianum and at the same time professor at University of Königsberg, had Immanuel admitted to the best educational institution in the city.

Much attention was devoted to religious education in this school. In addition, Immanuel Kant and his mother attended so-called Franz Schultz’s prayer hours, during which the pastor delivered impressive sermons, which gave Kant a good knowledge of Biblical texts. Later this knowledge became the basis for the philosopher’s reflections on the essence of religion and its correlation to ethics.

The pastor’s conviction that faith without charitable acts is dead was of great importance for the moral and religious education of Schultz’s parishioners. And he personally did good works. For instance, for Christmas he would give a bag of potatoes or cabbage to one or another family. He would send a cart of firewood to Kant’s family, thereby providing warmth to their home. These actions had a considerable moral impact on Schultz’s parishioners.

It is worth recalling that since ancient times in Russia there has been a firm belief that the main concern of a person should be good works. Prince Vladimir Monomakh reminded his children about this in his Instruction, as did the epic hero Sadko – the real Novgorod merchant Sadko Satinich, who built the Church of Sts Boris and Gleb at the Novgorod Kremlin. Since time immemorial it has been customary in the Russian nation to Do good and share some of your wealth with society.

These intersections of the values of cultures are the basis for fruitful dialogue between cultures, in which neither is absorbed by the other, but both enhance their most attractive sides.

At school Kant made friends with David Ruhnken, a future prominent scholar. It was Ruhnken, who came from a wealthy family, who bought books that the friends would read. This friendship continued in their mature years too, when Ruhnken lived in the Netherlands as a professor and a Latin scholar. Ruhnken repeatedly asked Kant to write his works in Latin so that all European scholars who did not know German could study them. And Kant heeded his friend’s advice: he published his works in German and Latin simultaneously. Perhaps the philosopher was guided not only by contact with Ruhnken, but also by the desire to preserve established academic canons. At the same time, Kant fully understood the need for the development of the German scholarly language and joined in this process.

Another friend of Kant during his studies at the Collegium Fridericianum was Martin Kunde, who, like Kant, came from a family of artisans. He was an able student, and Schultz made efforts to have him, as well as Immanuel Kant, admitted to University of Königsberg. At the same time, Schultz pointed out to the university senate the norm prescribed in the university charter by its founder, Duke Albrecht. This norm stated that “talented young people from poor families who are very likely to be of great benefit to the State shall be allowed to study for free”. However, eventually Kunde could not rise any higher than the position of a low-level official. This case illustrates the importance of your character for your life strategy, for understanding the ways of the development of a personality. It was the character developed by family upbringing that helped Kant overcome many obstacles, whereas Kunde, though also a gifted person, but who lacked purposefulness and firmness of character, remained on almost the same step of the social ladder on which his parents were.

In 1740 Immanuel’s childhood ended. He became a student at Königsberg University and left his parents’ home in order to alleviate the financial burden of his father, who had the other children in his arms, as well as Anna Regina’s elderly parents, whom Johann Georg Kant took care of. Immanuel rented a tiny room and began to make a livelihood by teaching Latin. He studied at the university for free thanks to the foresight of Duke Albrecht, who understood that even in poor families intelligent and gifted children are born, and thanks to Pastor Schultz, who opportunely remembered about the “philanthropic” article of the university charter introduced by Duke Albrecht. Immanuel Kant understood that now it only depended on him how he would use the lessons received from his parents, who believed in his intellect and kind heart.

What lectures did Immanuel Kant give to Russian officers?

On 22nd January 1758 Russian troops entered Königsberg without a fight to the ringing of bells, the roar of drums and the solemn melody of fanfare. They were led by the General-in-Chief Count Willim Willimovich Fermor, who became the first Russian Governor-General of East Prussia. An eyewitness to this event, A. T. Bolotov, described it as follows: “His entry into this city was grand and magnificent. All the streets, windows and roofs of houses were dotted with countless people. There was a great concourse of people, because everyone longed to see our troops and the commander himself, and since the ringing of bells throughout the city was added to that, and the playing of trumpets and kettle-drums on all towers and bell-towers, which continued throughout the procession, all this gave it even more pomp and splendour.”

Of course, for the Russian people to be welcomed by the enemy in such a grand manner was a wonderful and incomprehensible sight. And further events were not in the Russian tradition either. On 24th January the city residents swore allegiance to Empress Elizabeth Petrovna. Immanuel Kant took the oath together with the teachers and students of Königsberg University at the Cathedral, which became the university church in 1560.

Looking ahead, it should be noted that when East Prussia returned to the German crown under Frederick II, the king imposed a heavy fine on the city dwellers for their allegiance to the Russian Empress. Königsberg residents raised money and organised an oath to be sworn to Frederick II to express their loyalty. Kant did not participate in this, because, in his view, the oath can be taken once in a lifetime. So the philosopher formally remained a Russian citizen.

In March 1758 General-in-Chief Fermor left Königsberg and went to the theatre area of military operations outside the new Russian territory. Baron Nikolai Andreyevich Korf (1710–1766) was appointed the new governor. According to A. T. Bolotov, Baron Korf “immediately toured the houses of all the most famous nobles; and in order to get acquainted with all the others a few days after his arrival he hosted a sumptuous feast for everyone, and then arranged a ball to which all the nobles of both sexes were invited.”

General Korf was a theatre fan and sent a theatre troupe from Berlin to Königsberg. Of course, this choice was explained by the fact that the governor cared about the cultural life of the German-speaking population. Going to the theatre was an important part of the social life not only of locals, but also of Russian officers who for the first time heard some Italian and German comic operas and saw dramatic works. Immanuel Kant and his friends began to attend the theatre as well.

The rule of the governor Korf was also marked by numerous masquerades, which were very popular in Königsberg from Christmastide to Lent. Under the Russian rule local customs were preserved too; among them was holding a Christmas market that lasted for a whole week. Russian officers, who did not fail to visit the fair, were astonished by the fact that sales did not take place during the day, but from evening and all night long. In general, Russian officers led an active social life.

Collegium Fridericianum

Vasily Ivanovich Suvorov, who succeeded N. A. Korf as governor, was not satisfied with the situation in Königsberg. Once Peter the Great’s godson, aide-de-camp and translator, just like the Emperor, did not tolerate idleness, believing that endless entertainment was harmful for the officers’ mental activity. Therefore, he decided that they should listen to lectures by German teachers at the university.

Information is passed from book to book that Immanuel Kant began to give lectures and that they were devoted to fortification and ballistics (in some books) or fireworks (in other ones).

However, it should be considered that back in 1701 Peter the Great opened the School of Mathematic and Navigation in Moscow, the first educational institution in the world where engineers were trained, whereas in other European countries the medieval custom to study engineering with the masters of the respective guilds (workshops) was still kept. Two years later Tsar Peter founded the Naval Academy in St Petersburg on the basis of the senior classes of this School. Then Mining schools appeared, where engineers were trained for the mining industry. In France the first educational institution that trained engineers appeared in 1747 – the School of Bridges and Roads. Thus, thanks to Peter the Great’s initiative to train engineers Russia was ahead of Europe, and by the time the Russian Army entered Königsberg, many officers in Russia had received an engineering education.

It is noteworthy that V. I. Suvorov, who spoke four foreign languages, translated the book The Basics of Fortress Design by the Marquis de Vauban. This is a classic of fortification design, which, along with other works by de Vauban, is still studied by fort-builders worldwide. By the time of the Seven Years’ War Russian engineers were studying from the book The Basics of Fortress Design, which was unknown at Königsberg University. Vasily Ivanovich Suvorov, being an expert in fortifications, did not hope that Russian officers will replenish their knowledge in this field at Königsberg University. But he wanted to broaden their horizons, so he agreed with the idea of Kant’s lectures. What kind of lectures did Kant give?

Teachers and students of Königsberg University actively used the Wallenrodt Library of their Cathedral. The library contained works of Johann Strauss (1590–1630), professor of mathematics at Königsberg University, who was also a major architect and fort-builder. It was he who during the war with Sweden (1626–1628) worked out the design of the First defensive rampart (the first bastion defensive belt) of Königsberg. He also supervised building work. Twenty-six full bastions, eight half-bastions, eight city gates built into the rampart structures were set up, with a rampart perimeter of over fifteen kilometres. It should be noted that on his first visit to Königsberg Tsar Peter I inspected these fortifications, as V. I. Suvorov undoubtedly knew.

Kant was familiar with Strauss’ work: he could understand his calculations, because he had received a good mathematical education. Indeed, mathematics, like physics, was taught by Professor Martin Knutzen (1713–1751) in Kant’s student years. He was a student of Ch. Wolff, who in turn was a student of G. Leibniz. Leibniz invented mathematical analysis and its symbols, which we still use today. Through the efforts of Leibniz and the Bernoulli brothers this branch of mathematics progressed rapidly and played an important role in the eighteenth-century universities. Knutzen was one of the ardent adherents of the new mathematical theory, and Kant was one of his best students. So it was not hard for Kant to understand Strauss’s book on fortifications, since he used simpler mathematics.

Therefore, it can be assumed that lectures on fortifications, among other things, concerned the structures built by Strauss. Kant could give an expert assessment of the mathematical aspect of Strauss’ work, and besides, he had the opportunity, together with his listeners, to examine these fortifications, which were in perfect order at that time. In modern Kaliningrad the remains of this first defensive rampart can be seen in Olshtynskaya Street and near the Brandenburg Gate.

It should be taken into account that the history of science and technology, in addition to historical information, has a heuristic function, i.e. stimulates creativity and fruitful analogies. Therefore, familiarization with the history of the fortifications in Königsberg was very useful for Russian officers.

As for lectures on fireworks, it is not known about any fireworks launched by Kant. But he may well have used the thesis, On Fire, highly appreciated by Teske, Professor of Physics, as the basis for a lecture course. And Russian listeners found this research more interesting than reports on the composition of coloured lights suggested by contemporary authors, because since the time of Peter the Great, the inventor of the world’s first signal flare, books on the use of flares in both artillery and fireworks had been published in Russia, and Russian officers knew them. And Kant’s thesis was interesting to them, because among other problems he considered the question of the energy capabilities of fire, developing the ideas of the physicist Teske. In addition, it should be noted that Professor Teske was the first physicist in Königsberg to begin to study electrical phenomena. In his work Kant referred to these studies too, which was new and very useful for science and for his Russian listeners alike.

Thus, Kant apparently gave lectures on the history of fortifications in Königsberg and on the nature of fire, both from the point of view of physics and metaphysics, as philosophy was then called. And this meant a philosophical approach, which was of paramount importance for the development of a scientific worldview, which was what Governor V. I. Suvorov hoped for.

At the time when Kant began to lecture to Russian officers, Vasily Ivanovich Suvorov’s son Alexander came to him. Like his father, Alexander Vasilyevich spoke several foreign languages and was fluent in German. There is no doubt that the young officer, who had an inquisitive mind and a profound interest in scientific knowledge, attended Kant’s lectures. Moreover, it can be assumed that the two young men made friends. This is evidenced by a story that happened many years later, after East Prussia had returned to the Prussian king. Then Kant’s student F. Hahnrieder wanted to enlist in the Russian Army. He asked Kant to write him a letter of reference. Kant wrote to A. V. Suvorov, who by that time had become a famous commander. It should be said that it is unlikely that a philosopher would have turned to someone he didn’t know with a letter of reference. And not only did the letter have an effect: a young and hitherto unknown German became Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov’s adjutant. If we keep in mind that many Russian officers dreamed of being adjutants to Suvorov himself, it becomes clear that the two legendary men were bound together not just by acquaintance, but by great mutual respect.

When it comes to Kant’s lectures to Russian officers, the philosopher’s teaching methods are worth mentioning. He did not require the audience to agree with everything that was in textbooks and with everything he personally said at lectures, thereby cultivating independent thinking in young people.

In order to encourage independence from dogma and other people’s opinions Kant used a method he had invented. At the beginning of every lecture he would ask a question, the answer to which was still unknown to the audience, and he pretended that he did not know the answer himself. Kant would look for an answer, first making a “rough estimate”. Having received an approximate formula, he would begin to refine it, involving the audience in reasoning. Finally, as a result of discussion, the appeal to the listeners’ knowledge and the improvement of the original definition they would come to an accurate scientific formulation.

In a sense, Kant reproduced the Socratic method, but included a critical analysis of textbook materials in it and used results of the latest research, teaching students to follow the scientific discoveries of their time. He immersed listeners in a special atmosphere of seeking truth and the participation in discovering new knowledge.

Kant’s approach was clear to Russian officers, for whom the “gate of learning” was Leonty Magnitsky’s fundamental work on mathematics, “Arithmetic: The Science of Numbers”. Indeed, in addition to presenting the entire body of mathematical knowledge developed by the first half of the eighteenth century, Magnitsky’s book contained some branches of physics in which new mathematical theories were applied and a lot of attention was devoted to matters of philosophy.

The ability to combine mathematical knowledge with the needs of technology, developed by teaching mathematics in Russia, was further developed by Russian officers thanks to Kant’s lectures. There is no doubt that it was the high intellectual level and erudition of the young Immanuel Kant that attracted the attention of the inquisitive and well-educated young Alexander Suvorov, which became the basis of their mutual sympathy, which lasted for decades.

Russian descendants of the Kant family

As you know, Immanuel Kant was not married and left no offspring, but the family continued. Little is known about the lives of Kant’s sisters. According to the clergyman Ehregott Vasianski, the philosopher’s personal assistant (family secretary), one of them lived in the same house with him in the final years of his life, taking care of Kant.

The great thinker’s younger brother, Johann Heinrich Kant (1735–1800), graduated from Königsberg University, too, and started his career as a tutor, albeit not in East Prussia, but in Courland. Then he was the headmaster of the city school in Mitava (now Jelgava). At the end of his life, he was a pastor in an Evangelical parish in Courland.

In 1795 Courland became part of the Russian Empire, and in 1796 it received the status of a Russian province. Johann Heinrich Kant and his entire family became Russian subjects.

His son Friedrich Wilhelm Kant (1784–1847), Immanuel Kant’s nephew, took up commerce. He owned the Kant and Ks shop in Mitava and was quite successful in his business. Friedrich Kant’s marriage was successful: his wife Amalie Charlotte was the daughter of a burgomaster. In 1824, the centenary of the great philosopher’s birth, a son, Julius Wilhelm Kant (1824–1881), was born in the family of Friedrich Kant. He eventually carried on and expanded his father’s business. He moved to Moscow, where he conducted business very successfully and became a rich merchant. In Moscow the great philosopher’s great-nephew married Marie Louise Fischer, the daughter of the owner of a chemist’s.

The young family had a daughter, Caroline Lydia Kant (1861–1931), Immanuel Kant’s great-grandniece. By a quirk of fate Caroline Lydia’s life was at variance with Kant’s ideas about the role of women in the family and in society. He believed that strumming the piano was not something that women should do. “It seems to me that every husband would prefer a good dish without music than music without a good dish,” he used to say.

Kant was sceptical of women’s scientific pursuits. In his famous book, Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, he condemned the Marquise du Chatelet, who was not just a highly educated lady – her scientific research was appreciated by the great L. Euler, who corresponded with her and discussed problems of physics with her. Thanks to the Marquise’s translation into French of the works of Isaac Newton and thanks to her comments on them, Newton’s physics entered science on the Continent (the mainland of Europe as distinct from the British Isles). Kant spoke of the highly educated and intelligent Anne Dacier, the wife of a French envoy, who translated Homer’s poems and several works by other ancient authors into French, as sharply as of the Marquise du Chatelet. Thanks to Dacier, works of Ancient Greek poets entered French culture.

Caroline Lydia Kant possessed many talents. She received a brilliant education, including in music, and was an excellent pianist. Caroline Lidia was friends with Nikolai Grigorievich Rubinstein, an outstanding musician, conductor and the founder of the Moscow Conservatory, who made a great contribution not only to Russian musical culture, but also influenced the musical life of Königsberg. He greatly appreciated Caroline Lydia Kant’s talent as a pianist. On his advice a beautiful Rönisch grand piano was purchased for her, which was then passed on to succeeding generations of the family. Caroline Lydia Kant-Fiedler is buried at Donskoy Monastery, which suggests that she may have been Orthodox.

Caroline Lydia married a pharmacy owner, a pharmacist by training. The family moved to the town of Zlatoust in the Southern Urals, where Friedrich (Fyodor) Fiedler developed a pharmacy business successfully.

The most famous of their children was the eldest son Vladimir Fyodorovich Fiedler (1881–1932). He graduated from the non-classical secondary school in Yekaterinburg, then from the Tomsk Technological Institute of Practical Engineers of Emperor Nicholas II, founded in 1896 (now Tomsk Polytechnic University). Having started working as an engineer at a factory in Zlatoust, by 1917 Vladimir Fiedler had become the chief manager of the factories of the Southern Urals. In 1926 he was recommended for a position as factory design engineer, and in 1928 he became the chief designer and builder of Uralmash. The Sovetskaya Industriya newspaper with the article entitled, Immanuel Kant’s Great-Nephew Building Uralmash, is kept at Tomsk Polytechnic University.

In October 1932, at a meeting with People’s Commissar Ordzhonikidze in Moscow Vladimir Fiedler was appointed chief engineer of Uralmash. He telegraphed this to his wife, and at night his heart stopped in his sleep. Hard work without holidays and days-off building an industrial giant caused his sudden death.

Monument to Duke Albrecht Hohenzollern in Kaliningrad

Sergei Fyodorovich Fiedler, Vladimir Fyodorovich’s brother, fought in the First World War in the Russian Army and was killed at the front. His sister, the surgeon Irina Fyodorovna Dolina-Smirnetskaya, nee Fiedler, worked at a hospital during the Civil War, treating wounded Red Army soldiers. Alexei Vladimirovich, Vladimir Fyodorovich Fiedler’s son, an engineer, served as a sapper throughout the Great Patriotic War, was seriously wounded and returned to Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg again) with many orders and medals.

This is the line of descendants of Immanuel Kant’s younger brother, from his son Johann Georg Kant. But he also had a daughter, Gertrude. Baron Friedrich von Stuart, who had Scottish roots, proposed to her. Since her father was already dead, Gertrude wrote a letter to Uncle Immanuel Kant asking for his blessing to marry the baron. He gladly blessed his niece. The couple moved to St Petersburg, where the baron made a career. They had two children: a son, Fyodor Fyodorovich (1804–1856), and a daughter, Emilia Fyodorovna (1813–1872).

Emilia Fyodorovna married Mikhail Nikolaevich Lermontov, the great poet’s second cousin, a veteran of the Patriotic War of 1812, an admiral, a man who rendered great services to Russia. As a young midshipman he fought in the Battle of Borodino as part of a crew sent to help M. B. Barclay de Tolly, showing great dedication and heroism.

On 18th January 2013 the Yaroslavl Shipyard laid down the newest landing vessel of the Dugong class, designed for landings by marines. The shipyard employees and representatives of the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Defence gathered at the ceremony. By an ancient tradition, a storm board was placed under the finished fragment of the hull. This vessel was named Midshipman Lermontov in honour of the veteran of the Patriotic War of 1812 Mikhail Nikolaevich Lermontov (1792-1866), whose heroism is noted on the monument to the Battle of Borodino.

 Alexander Mikhailovich Lermontov (1838–1906), the son of Admiral Lermontov and his wife Emilia Fyodorovna, Immanuel Kant’s great–niece, was a veteran of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878. He is still a national hero of Burgas (Bulgaria). General A.M. Lermontov was the only military man to have sixteen of the highest awards for fighting in the wars of liberation in Europe.

Emilia Fyodorovna’s older brother Baron Fyodor Fyodorovich von Stuart, the great philosopher’s great-nephew, married Princess Roxandra Dmitrievna Mourousi. Their daughter Alexandra Fyodorovna von Stuart married General Alexander Mikhailovich Lermontov, her cousin. It can be said that the families of the descendants of Johann Kant and Lermontov united European history for the second time.

Their son Sergei (1861–1932) became a diplomat, representing Russia at the Württemberg court. The second son, Mikhail Alexandrovich Lermontov (1859–1917), like his father, became a military officer, lieutenant general of the Imperial Army. Among his numerous awards was the Prussian Order of the Crown (2nd class with a star and swords). He put a lot of effort into publishing books on the history of Russia. And Alexander Mikhailovich and Alexandra Fyodorovna’s daughter, Alexandra Alexandrovna (1857–1903), went through the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 with the field hospital of General Skobelev’s corps. So, a father and a daughter, descendants of the Lermontov and Kant families, became heroes of the war of liberation.

In his Critique of Judgement Kant reflected on war and peace, on how the spirit of nations is formed in peacetime and in wartime. The result of these reflections is as follows: “Even war, if it is conducted with order and reverence for the rights of civilians, has something sublime about it, and at the same time makes the mentality of the people who conduct it in this way all the more sublime, the more dangers it has been exposed to and before which it has been able to assert its courage; whereas a long peace causes the spirit of mere commerce to predominate, along with base selfishness, cowardice and weakness, and usually debases the mentality of the populace.” In 1776 Russia appealed to Turkey to stop the war in the Balkans and guarantee the Slavic peoples the right to their cultural development. Backed by Britain, Turkey ignored that call and Russia’s proposals for a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Balkans. Russia repeatedly held conferences in support of peace initiatives, specifically, in January 1877 in Istanbul, where the ambassadors of the European countries involved in the conflict in one way or another met. However, Russia’s peace initiatives were not supported.

In March 1877 a treaty was nevertheless signed in London, which obliged Turkey to carry out reforms to protect the rights of the Slavic peoples. Turkey ignored that agreement. We should also keep in mind how cruelly the Turkish Army suppressed all the actions of the Orthodox Balkan peoples for the right to preserve their faith.

Defending the rights of the Slavic peoples to their cultural development, defending the right of the Greeks to preserve their Orthodox faith, Russia entered the war. The idea of protecting Orthodox peoples was formulated by Elder Philotheus of Pskov in the early sixteenth century. This is the concept that “Moscow is the Third Rome”. The power of this idea has always been foremost in the Russian world. The idea of liberation determined the meaning of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878. The liberating heroism of the Kantian family descendants fits perfectly into Kant’s beliefs that during a just war the spirit of a nation becomes more sublime.

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