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Nature volume 113, pages 651655 (03 May 1924) | Download Citation



THE bicentenary of the birth of Immanuel Kant, born at Konigsberg on April 22, 1724, has just been celebrated in that city. Konigsberg was not only Kant's birthplace, but the scene of his intellectual activity throughout the whole of his long life. He odied on February 12, 1804. Many well-known oGerman philosophers and representatives of all the principal universities were present at the celebrations. Mr. J. L. Stocks of St. John's College, Oxford, attended oas the British Delegate. There is also to be a celebration of the bicentenary at Naples in connexion with the International Congress of Philosophy to be held there in May when the University of Naples commemorates the seventh centenary of its foundation. In Paris a special number of the Revue de Metaphysique oet du Morale entirely devoted to studies of the philosophy of Kant is announced in honour of the occasion. No philosopher in the modern period has retained his living freshness for the student of philosophy to the same extent as Kant. Quite recently in Great Britain two works of the first importance-Prof. James Warde “A Study of Kant,” and Prof. Norman Kemp Smith's “A Commentary on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason “-are evidence of the vitality of his philosophy. At least one reason is its intimate relation to the problems of modern mathematical and physical science. It was Newton who inspired his research if it was Hume who awakened him from his dogmatic slumber. It was no mere flower of speech but profound interest in astronomy which found expression in the oft-quoted remark in the “Critique of Practical Reason,” concerning the two things which filled him with never-ceasing wonder and awe, the starry sky above and the moral law within him. His early writings are exclusively on questions of physical science. He anticipated Laplace with the nebular hypothesis, and he was the first to point out that the tidal action of the moon must have a retarding effect on the earth's velocity of rotation. Even in the purely philosophical work, the transcendental doctrine of space and time was probably inspired by the desire to find a rational basis for the Newtonian concepts.

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