[Index of Biographies]

Reinhold Bernhard Jachmann (1767-1843)

[A draft of this appeared in The Dictionary of Eighteenth Century German Philosophers, 3 vols., edited by Manfred Kuehn and Heiner Klemme (London/New York: Continuum, 2010).]

1783 (Apr 11): Matriculation at Königsberg.

1788-94: Possibly worked as Kant’s amanuensis.

1794 (February): 3rd Pastor, and school rector (Marienburg).

1801: Director of the Conrad Provincial School and Pedagogical Institute (Jenkau, near Danzig). [HM, Neuer Nekrol.: 1802]

1814: Government and School Advisor (Gumbinnen).

1816: Moved to Danzig to work under von Schön.

1817: Awarded a Ph.D from the university at Breslau.

1831: Provincial School Advisor and Privy Government Advisor (Königsberg).

Reinhold Bernhard Jachmann was born on 16 August 1767 in Königsberg and died while traveling on 28 September 1843 in Thorn (Torun, Poland), where he is also buried. He was the son of a shoemaker and younger brother to the physician Johann Benjamin Jachmann [bio], with whom he has occasionally been confused in the literature. Jachmann studied under Immanuel Kant and possibly served as his amanuensis [glossary] from 1788 until 1794, after which he left Königsberg to begin a successful career as pastor and educational reformer. Kant characterized Jachmann in 1800 as “formerly an industrious and alert auditor of my lectures, now a most treasured friend” (in his preface to Jachmann 1800 [writings]), and among Kant scholars he is remembered as one of Kant’s early biographers.

Jachmann attended the Altstadt Gymnasium in Königsberg, then matriculated at the university on 11 April 1783 as a law student, but studied philosophy and theology alongside his older brother, Johann Benjamin, who was pursuing a degree in medicine. Jachmann spent nearly eleven years in Königsberg as a student (by his own account, nine were spent in Kant’s classroom). This is a remarkably long time to stay at the university, although he was also working as a tutor during this time (for instance, with William Motherby, the son of Kant’s friend Robert Motherby). Kant took a personal interest in Jachmann, writing twice on his behalf to Hippel [bio], the relevant local authority (letters of 2 Sept 1787 and 6 Jan 1790). Jachmann also served as a respondent at K. L. Pörschke’s [bio] habilitation address (at which Pörschke became a Magister legens or private lecturer; this has occasionally been misinterpreted as Jachmann himself receiving a magister degree).

Jachmann’s son, also named Reinhold, mentioned that his father was introduced to Kant by Jachmann’s older brother, Johann, who was serving as Kant’s amanuensis at the time [Jachmann 1864]. Johann left Königsberg to continue his medical studies in Edinburgh in the summer of 1788, and these secretarial duties may well have then passed on to his younger brother, Reinhold, for the remaining six years of his stay in Königsberg, which would have provided him with free meals at the university (each member of the academic senate was given support for one amanuensis). During this time he began theological studies and applied unsuccessfully for the diaconate of the Altstadt Church. With the help of C. J. Kraus [bio] he finally received a position in Marienburg (a city 50 km south-east of Danzig) as rector of the school and 3rd pastor of the church, beginning in February 1794, although already by June he was writing to Kant of his hope to marry and return to Königsberg, if only Kant could persuade Hippel to help him secure a position there (letter of 4 June 1794). He did in fact marry that year, but received no offer from Königsberg. Three years later (letter of 19 October 1797), Jachmann asked Kant for advice in finding another pastoral position in Königsberg as well as a teaching position in the philosophy faculty; again, nothing came of that, although Kant did forward a book to him written by Karl Arnold Wilmans (The Similarity of Pure Mysticism with the Religious Doctrine of Kant, 1797), with the suggestion that he write a reply [#831, 1798?; AA 12: 273. Jachmann’s reply appeared in 1800 with a preface by Kant [writings], and in it Jachmann rejects Wilman’s claim that the Kantian philosophy of religion is compatible with mysticism and special revelation.

In 1801 Jachmann was made director of the Conrad Provincial School and Pedagogical Institute in Jenkau (also near Danzig), and with Johann Wilhelm Süvern he wrote up a plan of educational reform for all Prussia, including a thorough-going reform of the Gymnasia. In 1812 Jachmann co-published (with his colleague Franz Passow) the Archiv deutscher Nationalbildung, with contributions from Fichte, F. A. Wolf, Johann Schulze, J. G. Scheffner, and others, with his own essays on national education displaying a decidedly Fichtean influence. In 1814 he was appointed government and school advisor in Gumbinnen, where he also formed a Friedensgesellschaft to support gifted youth, and he founded a similar society when he moved to Danzig in 1816 to work under von Schön in the new Prussian government and where he was to direct the entire educational system of West Prussia. Von Schön’s son Robert was living in Jachmann’s house while attending the gymnasium, as we learn from his letter to Jakob (23 Jan 1820) [Hasenclever 1919, 352], and later that year (18 May 1820) von Schön offers Jakob this description of Jachmann:

In J.[achmann] you will have found the categorical imperative in flesh and blood, at least I have never met a person in whom Kant has passed over so unconditionally. Sufferings, which would have crushed a mass of people, have not changed his essence and his view, with lively feeling. ‘You must, because you should’ prevails everywhere and in such a definite way that one can calculate in advance every action of any importance. [Hasenclever 1919, 358]

The university in Breslau conferred the Ph.D. on him in 1817. With the unification of West and East Prussia, Jachmann moved in 1832 to Königsberg to serve as provincial school advisor and privy government advisor.

Jachmann’s biography of Kant (1804) was begun in 1800 or earlier at Kant’s request, and for which he solicited Kant’s written help with a list of 56 questions, although Kant was unable to answer them for lack of strength (cf. AA 12: 321-24, and the preface to Jachmann 1804).


Prüfung der Kantischen Religionsphilosophie in Hinsicht auf die ihr beygelegte Ähnlichkeit mit dem reinen Mysticismus (Königsberg: Nicolovius, 1800). Reprint: (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1999).

Immanuel Kant geschildert in Briefen an einen Freund (Königsberg: Friedrich Nicolovius, 1804). Reprinted in: Felix Groß, ed., Immanuel Kant. Sein Leben in Darstellungen von Zeitgenossen (Berlin 1912; Darmstadt 1978).

Other Relevant Works

Über das Ideal eines vollkommenen Erziehers (1802).

Entwurf zur Nationalbildung (Berlin, 1809).

Über das Verhältniß der Schule zur Welt (Berlin, 1811).

(anon.), Review of J. F. Herbart, Allgemeine Pädagogik aus dem Zweck der Erziehung abgeleitet (Göttingen, 1806). In: Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1811).

(edited with Franz Passow), Archiv deutscher Nationalbildung (Berlin: Friedrich Mauer, 1812), 1 volume in 4 parts. Reprint: Frankfurt/Main: Sauer & Auvermann, 1969). Essays by Jachmann include: "Ideen zur National-Bildungslehre," pp. 1-45; "Die Nationalschule," pp. 61-98; "Die Berücksichtigung der Individualität bei der Erziehung," pp. 202-47; "Beschreibung des Konradinum auf Jenkau bei Danzig," pp. 271-323; "Das Wesen der Nationalbildung," pp. 405-63.

Lateinisches Elementarbuch (Berlin 1813).

Further Reading

APB, vol. 1, p. 295 (Lehnerdt).

ADB, vol. 13, p. 528-30 (W. Schrader).

Arnoldt, Emil, Gesammelte Schriften, edited by Otto Schöndörffer, 11 vols. (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1906-11), vol. 5, pp. 278-9.

Hamberger/Meusel (1803), vol. 10, p. 3; (1805) vol. 11, p. 391; (1810) vol. 14, p. 24; (1821) vol. 18, p. 242; (1834) vol. 23, p. 1.

Gause, Fritz, Die Geschichte der Stadt Königsberg in Preussen, 2nd enlarged ed., 3 vols. (Köln, 1969), vol. 2, p. 462.

— Kant und Königsberg (Leer, Ostfriesland: Verlag Gerhard Rautenberg, 1974), pp. 29-30.

Göstemeyer, Karl-Franz, Pädagogik und gesellschaftliche Synthesis: zur Dialektik von Menschheits- und Gesellschaftsbildung bei Hobbes, Sextro und Jachmann (Frankfurt am Main/New York: P. Lang, 1989).

Kuehn, Manfred, Kant: A Biography (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 12-13, 219, 323.

NDB, vol. 10, pp. 213-15 (Ernst W. Orth).

Neuer Nekrolog (1843), vol. 21, p. 1247.

Reusch, Christian Friedrich, Kant und seine Tischgenossen (Königsberg: Tag and Koch, 1848), p. 12.

Rhesa, Ludwig, Kurzgefaßten Nachrichten von allen seit der Reformation an den evangelischen Kirchen in Westpreußen angestellten Predigern (Königsberg, 1834).

Vorländer, Karl, Die ältesten Kantbiographien (Berlin: Reuther and Reichard, 1918), pp. 19-24.

[Index of Biographies]