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Kant’s Writings
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> Kant’s Life


Kant’s Lectures
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Kant’s Life

Kant’s Life: Friends and Acquaintances

“If Kant ever betrayed a deep knowledge of human nature,
it was especially in his friendships.”

— Jachmann [1804, 91-92]

[This page is a total work-in-progress]

A longer list of friends would include the following, whom I’ve grouped by occupation or social world, some appearing on more than one list. Those with an asterisk (*) also studied under Kant at the university; those with (TF) were a regular Tischfreund or dinner guest of Kant’s,[1] and with an asterisk (TF*) are those who attended the first “Freunde Kant Gesellschaft” on 22 April 1805.

From childhood

David Ruhnken (1723-1798

Georg David Kypke (1724-1779)[uni]

Johann Cunde (1724 or 1725)

Michael Freytag (1725-1790)[uni]

Theodor Michael Freytag taught at the Kneiphof school, then pastor in Neuhausen (1767).

Christoph Friedrich Heilsberg (1726-1807)[govt]

Johann Gerhard Trummer (1729-1793)[physician]

Johann Heinrich Wlömer (1728-1797)[govt]

Kallenberg, Christoph Bernhard

Gave Kant free lodging after Wlömer left for Berlin (matriculated 2 May 1746: from “Kusso-Litthvan. Boruss.”).

From the merchant class

Jean Claude Toussaint (1709-1774)

French merchant and father-in-law to Robert Motherby; business partner with Jean Claude Lavel. Mellin [1804, 1: 149, 151] claimed that Toussaint was Kant’s closest friend – his only friend in the sense of a “moral friendship.”

Johann Conrad Jacobi (1717-1774)

Geheimen Commerzienrat. Married (1752) and divorced (1768) Charlotta Schwinck (below). Uncle and heir to Friedrich Conrad Jacobi (below).

Joseph Green (1727-1786)

Business partner with Robert Motherby.

Friedrich Franz Saturgus (1728-1810)

Kommerzienrat und Negotianten.

Peter Heinrich Hüge (died 1788)

Kant presumably made frequent visits to Hüge’s estate at Prilacken.

Johann Christoph Berens (1729-1792)

Born in Riga to a patrician family, studied law at the university in Königsberg (1748-51), matriculating 10 Aug 1748, which is when we think Kant left Königsberg to work as a Hofmeister, so the two might have become acquainted until after 1754, and in 1759 Johann Georg Hamann has dedicated his Socratische Denkwürdigkeiten (1759) to “den Zween” (i.e., Kant and Berens), whom Hamann compared to Socrates and Alcibiades. Apart from Berens’ work as a merchant, he had strong literary interests, editing the weekly periodical Daphne (1750), with contributions from Hamann.

Robert Motherby (1736-1801)

Business partner with Joseph Green.

Johann Julius Göschen (1736-1798)

Munz-Meister, later Munz-Direktor.

Wilhelm Ludwig Ruffmann(TF) (1737-1794)

Jean Claude Laval (1737-1793)

French merchant and business partner with Jean Claude Toussaint.

Charlotta Jacobi née Schwinck (1739-1795)

Married (1752) and divorced (1768) Johann Conrad Jacobi. Married (c.1769) Johann Julius Göschen.

George Hay (b. 1738)

Scottish merchant and grandson of the merchant Francis Hay; directed the firm Barckley und Hay with his partner, the Englishman David Barckley (†1809). Barckley had married Elisabeth Henriette Dittrich (1774-1840), and Henriette along with Hay’s daughter, also named ‘Henriette’, maintained one of the leading salons of Königsberg, alongside those of Johanna Motherby and Elisabeth Stägemann [Gause 1996, 2: 303-4].

Friedrich Conrad Jacobi(TF) (1752-1816)

Nephew to Johann Conrad Jacobi (above) and heir of the business.

Johann Christian Gädeke(TF*) (1765-1853)

Arrived in Königsberg in 1782. Married (1804) Johanna Catharina Elisabeth Jacobi, daughter of Friedrich Conrad Jacobi (above).

From the government (lawyers and civil servants)

Christoph Friedrich Heilsberg (1726-1807)[childhood]

Johann Heinrich Wlömer (1728-1797)[childhood]

Johann Georg Hamann (1730-1788)

Reichardt [1812] briefly compares Kant and Hamann in his parallel sketches, and an early unsigned study of this relationship appeared serially in the Preußische Provinzial-Blätter (1853), pp. 164-73, 293-99, 385-96, 410-17.

Johann Julius Göschen (1736-1798)

Johann Georg Scheffner(TF) (1736-1820)

Theodor Gottlieb Hippel*(TF) (1741-1796)

Christian Friedrich Jensch*(TF) (1743-1802)

Stadt-, Kriminalrat.

Johann Friedrich Vigilantius*(TF*) (1757-1823)


Johann Gottfried Frey(TF*) (1762-1831)

Regierungsdirektor, Kriminalrat.

Friedrich August von Stägemann(TF*) (1763-1840)

Kriminalrat. Moved to Königsberg in 1784.

Christian Friedrich Reusch*(TF) (1778-1848)

Son of Kant’s colleague, Prof. C. D Reusch (1735-1806); younger brother to Carl Wilhelm Georg Reusch. Geheimer Oberregierungsrat.

Samuel Peter Friedrich Buck*(TF*) (1763-1827)[2]

Stadtrat (replacing Jensch in 1802). Matriculated at the university on 18 Sep 1779. Son of Kant’s old rival, Professor F. J. Buck (1722-1786).

John Motherby(TF*) (1784-1813




From the aristocracy/military

Count Heinrich Christian Keyserling (1727-1787)

Countess Caroline Keyserling (1727-1791)

Karl Friedrich von Meyer* (1708-1775

Daniel Friedrich von Lossow (1722-1783)

Friedrich Leopold von Schrötter (1743-1815)

Friedrich Karl Ludwig Holstein-Beck* (1757-1816)

From the university and gymnasia

Johann Daniel Funk (1721-1764)

Full Prof. of Law

Georg David Kypke (1724-1779)[childhood]

Full Prof. of Oriental Languages

Michael Freytag (1725-1790)[childhood]

Taught at the Cathedral school (1747), then pastor at Kirchdorf Neuhaussen (1767)[Vorländer 1924, 1: 88].

Carl Daniel Reusch*(TF) (1735-1806)

Full Prof. of Physics

Johann Gotthelf Lindner (1729-1776)

Full Prof. of Poetry (1765). Likely knew Kant from their school days, as he attended the Coll. Fridericianum (1736-44) and the university (1744-48).

Johann Schultz (1739-1805)

Full Prof. of Mathematics

Karl Gottfried Hagen(TF*) (1749-1829)

Prof. of Medicine, later also of Physics

Christoph Friedrich Elsner*(TF) (1749-1820)[physician]

Full Prof. of Medicine

Karl Ludwig Pörschke*(TF*) (1752-1812)

Assoc. Prof. of Philosophy, later Full Prof. of Poetry, Pedagogy, History, Practical Philosophy.

Christian Jakob Kraus*(TF*) (1753-1807)

Full Prof. of Practical Philosophy

Johann Gottfried Hasse(TF*) (1759-1806)[clergy]

Full Prof. of Oriental Languages

Johann Friedrich Gensichen(TF*) (1759-1807)

Assoc. Prof. of Mathematics

Gottlob Benjamin Jäsche*(TF) (1762-1842)

Lecturer in Philosophy

Friedrich Ludwig Ehrenboth*(TF) (176?-1800)

Inspector of the Poor Schools.

Johann Michael Hamann*(TF*) (1769-1813)

Son of Johann Georg Hamann. Rector of the Altstadt Gymnasium.

Theodor Rink*(TF) (1770-1811)[clergy]

Assoc. Prof. of Oriental Languages, Full Prof. of Theology

Carl Wilhelm Georg Reusch(TF*) (1776-1813)[physician]

Son of Kant’s colleague, Prof. C. D Reusch (1735-1806); older brother to Christian Friedrich Reusch.

From the physicians

Johann Gottlieb Trummer [childhood]

Markus Naphtali Herz* (1747-1803)

Student 1766-70, then moved to Berlin.

Christoph Friedrich Elsner*(TF*) (1749-1820)[uni]

Johannes Benjamin Jachmann*(TF*) (1765-1832)

William Motherby*(TF*) (1776-1847)

Carl Wilhelm Georg Reusch(TF*) (1776-1813)[uni]


From the clergy

Ludwig Ernst Borowski (1740-1831)

Stephan Wannowski(TF) (1749-1812)

George Michael Sommer(TF*) (1754-1826)

Ehregott Andreas Christoph Wasianski(TF*) (1755-1831)

Johann Gottfried Hasse(TF*) (1759-1806)[uni]

Reinhold Bernhard Jachmann*(TF) (1767-1843)

Director, Pedagogy Institute (Jenkau bei Danzig).

Theodor Rink*(TF) (1770-1811)[uni]

From the Literati and Others

Michael Friedrich Wobser (c.1724-1795)

Head forester at Moditten, where Kant would visit him.

Johann Georg Hamann (1730-1788)[govt]

Johann Georg Scheffner (1736-1820)[govt]

Johann Jakob Kanter (1738-1786)

Theodor Gottlieb Hippel* (1741-1796)[govt]

Johann Brahl(TF*) (1754-1812)


Friedrich Nicolovius*(TF*) (1768-1836)

Bookdealer and Kant’s publisher (after 1790).

Freunde Kants Gesellschaft (22 April 1805)

Reusch [1848b, 299] provides a list of everyone who attended the first “Friends of Kant Society” birthday celebration that took place in Kant’s home and was arranged by the physician William Motherby. These were all the people who had been invited to his last birthday party (22 April 1803) described by Wasianski [1804, 142-43].

Attending (25):

“Professoren Kraus, Pörschke, Hasse, Hagen Med. R., Gensichen, Kriegsrath Scheffner, Reg. R. Vigilantions, Reg. R. a. D. Schreiber, Bürgermeister Buck, Pfarrer Wasianski, Pfarrer Sommer, Dr. med Jachmann, Ober-Stadt-Inspector Brahl, Buchhändler Nicolovius, Kaufmann Joh. Reinhold Jacobi und Gädecke, John Motherby, Criminal-Räthe Stägemann und Frey, die Doctoren der Medizin William Motherby, Laubmeyer, [Carl Wilh. Georg] Reusch, [Christoph Fr.] Elsner, Director [Joh. Mich.] Hamann, Reg. Assessor [Christian Fr. Reusch.”

Not-Attending (3):

“Prediger Wannowski, Regierungsrath Schulz, Reg. und Schulrath Jachmann.”

Everyone in the Reusch list is accounted for in the lists above, except for “Kaufmann Joh. Reinhold Jacobi”. I've been unable to identify anyone with this name and so have to assume that it was written in error; the intended reference is almost certainly Friedrich Conrad Jacobi (1752-1816), nephew and heir to Johann Conrad Jacobi (1717-1774) and the business partner and father-in-law to Johann Christian Gädeke (1765-1853), the next name in the list.

[Kant discussed friendship in his ethics lectures (the last section of Baumgarten’s Philosophical Ethics concerned “duties regarding friends and friendlessness”)[see Moral Herder, 27:50, 54; Moral Collins (27:358, 419-20, 422-30 + the next section on Enmity); Moral Vigilantius (27:675-86 + following section on enmity], and wrote on it in his Metaphysics of Morals