Herder’s Notes from Kant’s
How to Interpret the Moral Philosophy Transcription
Manuscripts: The manuscripts form four natural groups (A through D) that are accessed by clicking on the red-links in the light yellow window at the top of the page (e.g., [XXV.43(B)]).
Explanatory Notes / Textual Notes: See the two windows to the right for explanatory and textual notes. The text in those windows on this page explains what you will find in them.
Herder’s notes on Moral Philosophy consist of 63 manuscript pages (27 4° and 36 8°), making it the third largest set of his notes from Kant’s lectures. They come from two separate manuscript folders (XXV.42 and XXV.43) but fall naturally into four groups (A through D) and we have retained both of these in naming these groups for this website. Kant is listed as lecturing on moral philosophy during two semesters when Herder was a student: winter 1763-64 and winter 1764-65. Because Herder left during the middle of the latter semester, it is most likely that the notes stem from the former.
Overview of the Moral Philosophy Lectures [top]
Kant lectured on moral philosophy a total of twenty-eight times during the eighty-two semesters teaching at the university, beginning with his third semester (winter 1756-57: listed as “Ethik” in the offical catalog of courses), offering the course every two or three years, with the last semester being winter 1793-94 (listed as: “Metaphysik der Sitten oder Allgemeine praktische Philosophie samt Ethik nach Baumgarten”).
We have five distinct sets of notes on moral philosophy, with the Herder notes being the earliest, followed by the Kaehler group of notes (1774-77), then Powalski (1782-83), Mrongovius (1764-85), and Vigilantius (1793-94). The Kaehler group – of which the Kaehler set of notes is thought to stand closest to the actual lectures – also includes the more widely-published sets of notes ascribed to Brauer (Menzer 1924 followed by many translations) and Collins (the Academy edition).
Karl Andreas Christiani (1701-1780) was the Professor of Practical Philosophy at the time and would have been offering free (public) lectures on moral philosophy (summer) and natural law (winter). Other professors under whom Herder also studied were, like Kant, offering private lectures on moral philosophy – most notably Friedrich Johann Buck, the Professor of Logic and Metaphysics. We have no reason to believe, however, that these notes do not stem from Kant’s lectures, and the content of the notes are clearly based on the two textbooks used by Kant – both by Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten – and which he first used in combination in the early 1760’s: Baumgarten’s Initia philosophiae practicae primae acroamatice (1760) and Ethica philosophica (1740; 2nd ed: 1751, 3rd ed: 1763). A typical formulation published in the Lecture Catalog for his course: “Allgemeine praktische Philosophie und Ethik nach Baumgarten.”
Herder’s notes routinely make direct reference to Baumgarten’s textbooks on moral philosophy, which we then quote in linked explanatory notes. In these two moral philosophy textbooks Baumgarten often refers to his metaphysics textbook with an upper-case ‘M’ followed by the paragraph number (e.g., ‘M. §185’); these paragraphs to the Metaphysica textbook can be found in the section on Herder’s metaphysics notes.
Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, Initia philosophiae practicae, primae acroamatice. Halle: Carl H. Hemmerde, 1760. [139 p., with an unpaginated 13 p. index.] [Introduction to Practical First Philosophy]
Chapter One: Obligation (obligatio)
1. Obligation in general (obligatio in genere) (§§10-49).
2. Moral constraint (coactio moralis) (§§50-59).
Chapter Two: What Obligates (obligantia)
1. Law (lex)(§§60-75).
2. Skill in law (iuris peritia) (§§76-86).
3. Principles of law (principia iuris)(§§87-99).
4. Legislator (legislator)(§§100-5).
5. Rewards (praemia)(§§106-14).
6. Punishments (poenae)(§§115-24).
7. Imputation of action (imputatio facti)(§§125-48).
8. The author (auctor)(§§149-58).
9. Degrees of imputability (gradus imputabilitatis)(§§159-70).
10. Imputation under law (imputatio legis)(§§171-79).
11. Forum (forum)(§§180-85).
12. External forum (forum externum)(§§186-99).
13. Conscience (conscientia)(§§200-5).
Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, Ethica philosophica scripsit acroamatice. 2nd edition. Halle: Carl H. Hemmerde, 1751. [282 p., with an unpaginated 19 p. index.] (31763). [Philosophical Ethics]
A. Religion (religio)
1. Internal (interna): knowledge of God, inner worship and prayer, pious habits (§§11-109).
2. External (externa): confession, studying to promote religion, pious examples and ceremonies, etc. (§§110-49).
B. Duties toward oneself (officia erga te ipsum)
1. General (generatim): knowledge and judgment of oneself, duties towards conscience, and self-love (§§150-200).
2. Special (speciatim): duties towards the soul (intellect and appetites), the body, one’s reputation (§§201-300).
C. Duties toward others (officia erga alia)
1. General (§§301-3).
2. Special, both human (erga alios homines) (§§304-90) and non-human (erga alia, quae non sunt homines) (§§391-99).
D. Special duties regarding the soul (animae officia): learned/unlearned (eruditorum et ineruditorum)(§§400-25), virtuous/vicious (virtuosi et vitiosi) (§§426-50).
E. Special duties regarding the body (corporis officia): different ages (aetatum) (§§451-60), healthy/sick (sanorum et aegrotorum) (§§461-70).
F. Special duties regarding one’s external standing (status externi officia)(§§471-500).
List of Manuscripts [top]
The manuscripts are in two collections of Herder’s Nachlaß housed in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz: XXV.42 (one 8° signature) and XXV.43 (eight 4° and five 8° signatures).
The manuscripts fall naturally into four groups based on their format and their references to the Baumgarten texts:
A: (8 pp., 8°, XXV.42) This 8° signature discusses Baumgarten’s Initia philosophiae practicae, with specific references to §§50-71. Numbered by sheet (1-4).
B: (17 pp., 4°, XXV.43/1-4) These four 4° signatures from XXV.43 all are written with a wide margin (typical of a re-worked draft of notes) and they have the most concentrated number of references to specific paragraphs in Baumgarten’s Ethica philosophica, ranging from §1 to §126 (this matches the actual range of sections being discussed). Numbered by sheet (1-9).
C: (10 pp., 4°, XXV.43/5-8) These four 4° signatures from XXV.43 are all written without margins and on what appears to be a thinner paper. Their discussion of Baumgarten follows the B signatures in the proper order, referring specifically to §§170-268 (with only six references compared to the forty-three references in B). The range of sections under discussion is §164-339, with the first page beginning mid-sentence, indicating one or more missing signatures (between B and C) is missing. Numbered by sheet (10-14).
D: (28 pp., 8°, XXV.43/9-13) These four 8° signatures, along with a single 8° sheet, are all written without margins, and refer specifically to §§348-378 (sixteen references). The range of sections under discussion is §344 to §453. Numbered by sheet (16-30).
•XXV.42. One 8 pp. signature (8°: 10 x 16.5 cm). Text in ink, on ribbed paper with an indiscernible watermark. Text covers all the pages, without margins. Sheets are numbered in pencil (1-4) by a librarian. At the very top of p. 1, in Herder’s hand: “IV. Prakt. Phil.”. Printed at Irmscher [1964, 89-98] and AA 27:31-122. The “mp” numbers listed below refer to the marginal pagination of the manuscript pages used in the Academy edition.
• XXV.43. Thirty-two sheets, some of which are in groups, some separate, and of varying size. Format varies from 9.5 x 16.5 cm to 19 x 23.5 cm. The eight 4° signatures account for 27 pp. of text, while the five 8° signatures account for 28 pp. The type of paper also varies; most watermarks are not identifiable. The sheets are numbered continuously, except that there is a jump from (B), which ends with 14v, to (C), which begins with with 16r. Printed at Irmscher [1964, 99-178] and AA 27:12-89. The “mp” numbers listed below refer to the marginal pagination of the manuscript pages used in the Academy edition.
(1) 1 p. (4°: 17 x 21.5 cm). Text in ink. Margin is one-fourth the page width. Bottom half of front, and all of the back, is blank. Sheet is numbered (1). At the top of the first page: “Einleit. in d. Prakt. Philos.” Printed at AA 27:123-36 (mp 9).
(2) 4 pp. (4°: 17 x 21.5 cm). Text in ink. Two sheet signature; margin is one-fourth the page width. Sheets are numbered (2-3). Printed at AA 27:131-198 (mp 10-13).
(3) 8 pp. (4°: 17 x 21.5 cm). Text in ink. Four sheet signature; margin is one-fourth the page width. This signature is a single printer’s sheet folded twice to make four sheets. Sheets are numbered (4-7). Printed at AA 27:198-324 (mp 14-21).
(4) 4 pp. (4°: 16.25 x 21 cm). Text in ink. Two sheet signature; margin one-fifth the page width. Sheets are numbered (8-9). Printed at AA 27:324-399 (mp 22-25).
(5) 2 pp. (4°: 17 x 22 cm). Text in ink. One sheet, no margin. The abrupt changes in ink strongly suggest that these notes were written in the classroom. Sheet is numbered (10). Printed at AA 27:3910-4320 (mp 26-27).
(6) 2 pp. (4°: 19 x 23 cm). Text in ink. One sheet, no margin. The abrupt changes in ink strongly suggest that these notes were written in the classroom. Sheet is numbered (11). Printed at AA 27:4321-4819 (mp 28-28’ – the marginal pagination of the Academy edition errs here; mp 29 is counted as mp 28).
(7) 4 pp. (4°: 16.5 x 21 cm). Text in ink. Two sheets, no margin. The abrupt changes in ink strongly suggest that these notes were written in the classroom. Sheets are numbered (12-13). Printed at AA 27:4820-5618 (mp 29-32).
(8) 2 pp. (4°: 16.5 x 21 cm). Text in ink. Two sheets, no margin. The second sheet is blank on both sides. No margin on the first sheet. Sheet is numbered (14). Printed at AA 27:5618-5925 (mp 33-34). NB: There are two blank pages following this text; not indicated in the Academy edition.
(9) 8 pp. (8°: 10.5 x 16 cm). Text in ink. This signature is one-half a printer’s sheet (16 x 42 cm) folded twice to make four sheets. No margins. Sheets are numbered (16-19). Printed at AA 27:5926-6725 (mp 35-42).
(10) 3 pp. (8°: 10 x 17.25 cm). Text in ink. Two sheets, no margin. The bottom one-fourth of the front of the second sheet, and all of its back side, is blank. Sheets are numbered (20-21). Printed at AA 27:6725-713 (mp 43-45). NB: This break (one and one-fourth blank pages) in the text is not noted in the Academy edition.
(11) 8 pp. (8°: 10 x 17.25 cm). Text in ink. A single printer’s sheet folded twice to make four sheets. No margins except for the third page of text. Sheets are numbered (22-25). Printed at AA 27:714-7933 (mp 46-53).
(12) 8 pp. (8°: 10 x 17.25 cm). Text in ink. A single printer’s sheet folded twice to make four sheets. No margins. Sheets are numbered (26-29). Printed at AA 27:7933-891 (mp 54-61).
(13) 1 p. (8°: 10 x 16.5 cm). Text in ink. One sheet, no margins. Text on only top half of the front side. This sheet appears to be the endpaper from a book owned by Haberkant (presumably the student friend of Herder’s that is mentioned in letters from 1765, and who matriculated at the Albertina on May 3, 1762). At the bottom-right corner of the first side of this sheet, in a hand other than Herder’s, we find the inscription: “Hunc Librorum possidet / Jure mentorus / C. Haberkant. / const. 1 fl. 6 gr.” The sheet also has red on its outer edges (again suggesting it came from a bound book). Irmscher speculates that Herder ran out of paper mid-lecture and borrowed a sheet from his friend. Despite its random and isolated format, the content does flow smoothly from #12, above. Sheet is numbered (30). Printed at AA 27:891-27 (mp 62).