[Index of Biographies]
August Wilhelm Wlochatius (1744-1815)
[This is a draft of an article in The Dictionary of Eighteenth Century German Philosophers, 3 vols., edited by Manfred Kuehn and Heiner Klemme (London/New York: Continuum, 2010).]
August Wilhelm Wlochatius (1744-1815) was born in Darkehmen, Prussia (now Oz’orsk) a village lying about 100 km. east of Königsberg. Wlochatius taught philosophy at Königsberg as a younger colleague of Immanuel Kant's, and was a disciple of Crusius. He matriculated at Königsberg on 21 September 1759, receiving his Magister degree ten years later and habilitating (7 October 1769) with a dissertation on the impossibility of proving by reason alone a resurrection following death. It is not known whether he attended any of Kant’s classes, but his interest in the philosophy of Christian August Crusius [bio] suggests he would have favored courses either from the recently appointed full professor of logic and metaphysics, Friedrich Johann Buck (1722-86), who lectured from Crusius's textbooks in both of his public lecture courses (logic, metaphysics), or from Daniel Weymann [bio], who was teaching as a Privatdozent like Kant.
Wlochatius began offering lectures in the winter semester of 1769-70, one semester before Kant was promoted to full professor of logic and metaphysics, and in his early years did not appear to fare well in the general competition for students. For instance, of his three offerings for winter semester 1772-3 (logic, metaphysics, and physics — all using textbooks by Crusius), two failed for lack of students. He also lectured on Latin and Greek literature and on topics in mathematics. In 1775 he was chastised, along with Daniel Weymann, by the ministry in Berlin for teaching Crusius, whose philosophical system the ministry claimed was found worthless by all the best minds (Berlin directive of 25 December 1775). In this same directive, both Kant and his friend Carl Daniel Reusch [bio], the full professor of physics, were praised for their classroom effectiveness. Wlochatius subsequently made use of the popular textbooks written by Göttingen professor J. G. H. Feder [bio].
From 1772 until 1784 Wlochatius served as second inspector of the college and the Alumnat (the subsidized student dormitory and cafeteria), and as such was next in line for an associate professorship in philosophy, which he received in 1795. In August of 1786 he applied for the full professorship of mathematics made vacant by the death of F. J. Buck [bio], and although his application was supported by some eighty to ninety students petitioning Berlin on his behalf, the position was instead filled by Kant’s close friend Johann Schultz [bio].
Johann Daniel Metzger [bio], a contemporary professor of medicine and a historian of the university, described Wlochatius as a diligent linguist whose career had likely been stymied because of his Crusian sympathies. The works listed below are all brief pamphlets of various disputations held at the university: on human fallibility, on the origin of God, on whether it is possible to offend God, etc.
De impossibilitate resurrectionis mortuorum certitudinem et necessitatem demonstrandi e mero lumine naturae (Königsberg, 1769).
De eo, quod sensus nos non fallunt, 2 parts (Königsberg, 1779, 1780).
De causis praeiudicatae opinionis, sensibus homines falli (Königsberg, 1781).
De origine domini (Königsberg, 1782).
Commentatio philosophica quaestionis, an deus offendi possit? (Königsberg, 1783).
Commentatio philosophica poenarum divinarum. opusculum prius probans finem (Absicht) poenarum divinarum nullum dari (Königsberg, 1783).
Anti-Oertellius (Königsberg, 1794).
Commentatio philosophica, inauguralis contingentiae substantiarum mundanarum (Königsberg, 1795).
Bornhak, Conrad, Geschichte der preussischen Universitätsverwaltung bis 1810 (Berlin, 1900), pp. 87-8.
Goldbeck, Johann Friedrich, Nachrichten von der Königlichen Universität zu Königsberg in Preußen, und den daselbst befindlichen Lehr- Schul- und Erzeihungsanstalten (Dessau, 1782), p. 88.
—, Litterarische Nachrichten von Preußen (Leipzig and Dessau, 1783), vol. 2, pp. 116, 261.
Hamberger (1800), vol, 8, p. 580; (1812), vol. 16, p. 257.
Metzger, Johann Daniel, Ueber die Universität zu Königsberg. Ein Nachtrag zu Arnoldt und Goldbeck (Königsberg, 1804), p. 68.
Stark, Werner, 'Hinweise zu Kants Kollegen vor 1770.' In Reinhard Brandt and Werner Euler, eds., Studien zur Entwicklung preußischer Universitäten, in collaboration with Werner Stark (Wiesbaden, 1999), pp. 113-62.