KANT IN PEACE. SOMETHING ABOUT KALININGRAD.

Once called Königsberg, it was the capital of East Prussia, the prosperous and orderly background of the monotonous life of Immanuel Kant.
The philosopher didn’t loved to travel and never left Königsberg, if not for a carriage ride with back in the day. In return for the dead has made a series of trips while remaining firm in the tomb of the cathedral, the Königsberg Sun, where he is buried, because the boundaries have shifted and people around him. In the Second World War the city was conquered by the Red Armyand and incorporated into the Soviet Union. In 1946 Stalin gave it the name of Kaliningrad (in honor of Mikhail Kalinin, the head of the Bolshevik and Soviet state, who died that year), forced the Germans to leave the city and replace them with Russian people. In 1991, with the end of the USSR,

Kaliningrad found itself separated from Russia and has begun to open to visits by foreigners, German refugees and their children. Since 2004 – the bicentenary of the death of Kant and the entry of Poland and Lithuania in European Union – the city is even more isolated and Kaliningrad people have to get a flight or a visa, in order to go home. So a certain discontent meandering.

A group of tourists visiting the town: “I come from a town near Frankfurt –  tells one of them – and I arrived by bus. We are a group of people whose family is originally from these areas. Before the war it was on German soil. “

Kaliningrad history and its image, with a lot of  historical and political strong shocks, is a very strange frame for Kant, a man troubled by the slightest change in his life.

But there is a sort of revenge of the old town Königsberg, the Eighteen’s and the eternal thinking of the philosofer.

The cathedral  is one of the few buildings left standing – more or less – after the British bombardment. With the support of the Germans, was rebuilt after years of ruin and abandonment. Right here, in the ancient cathedral situated in a little island in centre of old town, Kant  tomb lies, with a solemn mausoleum.

Here it seems that the time stops, and all the trouble were not able to destroy the peace of Kant rest.


Do not miss a souvenir photo in front of the tomb of Kant.

The philosopher got up every morning at five o’clock, ate lunch and went out  only at five o’clock in the evening for the walk, so punctual that people regulated their watches. Dined in the company, but walking by himself – and here begins the hypochondriacal neurosis. He did it not to meditate in peace, but to breathe through the nose, that could not have done in company. He opened his mouth only to recommended to his friends constantly: “Balance and persevering in this exercise ensures a long immunity from colds, aches, catarrh and lung disorders.” He had a system of rods to hold up stockings without using – like his contemporaries – the garters that were blocking circulation. At ten o’clock he went to sleep in a room completely dark: a moonbeam could disturb the rest.

At the entrance of the cathedral there is a picture of Putin with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder as a sign of peace. Many works have been made recovery of the German for the 750°  anniversary of the city  founding  (1255-2005). But the church has returned only a small part to be a place of worship. The main space is now a major concert hall. On the sides, two chapels on the left the Russian Orthodox Church, the German right-Protestant. On the upper floors is a map of the city in 1613, a model of the church, some pictures of how it appeared after the destruction of the remains: brick, decorative … Then portraits of Kant, newspapers announcing his death, a small statue that shows him thoughtfully for a walk, a cast of his skull resting on the pillow plaster mortuary. The fleshless face is not only for age, he was probably sick of Alzheimer. A good tradeoff for who, like him, has made control and iron discipline a leitmotiv of his life.

The cathedral and the tomb is located on the island of Kneiphof, renamed “Kant island”. One of the access roads is a bridge builtfrom scratch on the Teutonic model, and full of padlocks and the names of lovers.

Kant liked to surround himself with young, but would be horrified, it was confidential and never married because of, as many people say, the delicate but unwieldy figure of his mother, a Protestant Pietist who died young after having engaged in long hours of prayer.

What about Kaliningrad itself?

Kaliningrad is a city alive with big ambitions. The locals compared it to America, Australia or Singapore. It is a melting pot of nationalities and cultures, with its ice-free Arctic port, and it’s a big problem from the political point of view.

In terms of attractions, Kaliningrad certainly does not lack anything, but a part of its charm lies in its very blatant contradictions. The big wreck of House of Soviet, built on the original territory of Königsberg Castle and shade of an old German house in ruins, is a few hundred yards from the Fishermen’s Village, an evocation of the ancient city of Königsberg unfaithful. Not far from Piazza della Vittoria, the former Gestapo headquarters now houses the notorious FSB (Federal’naja Rossijskoj Federacciai information from Interpol, the Russian secret service).

Kaliningrad is a confused mix of old, new, rebuilt and imagined: statues of Karl Marx, fountains, old and tough off-road vehicle with tinted windows. For the past Kaliningrad is turning into a business in which to invest, thus pleasing hundreds of local interestand nostalgic Germans who come here every year to spend their holidays.

Kaliningrad is changing rapidly. The change is gaining impulse, although the benefit of a select group of international investors, the only witnesses of the new dynamism of the city.

Walking along the romantic river, between the ancient cathedral and the orrible House of the Soviets, I breathed air typical of places where it really made the history.

Annunci

Substance and Matter between Leibniz and Kant

Kant’s discussion of what is involved in there being an actual world in the Inaugural Dissertation contains a refutation of idealism. A merely “perceptual” world is not an actual world, for an actual world must be a set of substances perceived as in interaction with one another and with human knowers. As Kant understood him, Leibniz had maintained that to see an ordinary physical object is to have a confused representation that, if we were to represent it more adequately, would appears to us as what it really is, an aggregate of monads (Cf. G 6: 618ff.)

Leibniz’s metaphysics was developed within, and in part as a reaction to the mechanical philosophy of the mid-to-late 17th century, revived by Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Gassendi, Boyle, and Locke. While the term “substance,” meaning the indestructible stuff of the universe, was retained by Descartes in his discussions of res extensa, the mechanical philosophers were committed to a corpuscularian theory in which objects were temporary aggregates of solid, indestructible particles with various figures and motions, and all change occurred through their collisions, entanglings, and so on. Leibniz contested the corpuscularian image of the world, insisting that it was insufficiently profound and inherently self-contradictory (G 4: 480), and holding that matter was an appearance founded upon the reality of “metaphysical points” or, as he later termed them, monads: qualitatively unique, unextended, impenetrable, indestructible and partless units that also perceived and strove (G 6: 608.) Kant appreciated the reasons that led Leibniz to posit soul-like entities rather than material atoms as the basic elements of the world. But he was concerned with a very different scientific image. While Newtonian matter-theory was depicted as a rival to Leibnizian immaterialism in the mid-18th century, in for example the Institutions de Physiqueof Mme du Chatelet, Newton was no ordinary corpuscularian or mechanical philosopher, and Kant did not have to contend with that now old-fashioned ontology. His own metaphysics presupposed a Newtonian world held together by forces acting at a distance, one in which the matter of ordinary objects was perhaps only a kind of condensed vapour, as Newton had speculated in Book III of his Principia. Nature had already, so to speak, been dematerialized for Kant by physics, and his Opus Postumum anticipates the romantic nature-philosophy of the 19th century. Matter, he could readily agree with Leibniz, cannot be a thing in itself, stuff possessed of characteristics and qualities independent of human perception; what we call matter is an appearance (4:507.) The inner nature of substances cannot be described by reference to shape, contact or movement, which characterize the objects presented to us. He understood Leibniz’s reasoning in favour of monads as follows: It is impossible to conceive two material atoms as both different from one another and as simple, i.e partless; yet possible to conceive two souls that are both different and partless (20:285.) Therefore, if substances are manifold and partless, they must have representational capacities. The crucial error in this reasoning lay in supposing that our abstract conceptions are a guide to reality behind the spatio-temporal appearances. Yet properly understood, he maintained, Leibniz’s monadology was not an attempt to explain appearances but the expression of a “Platonic” view of the world, considered apart from our sensory experience of it (4:507; 8:248.)

Kant absolutely rejects idealism, but he too believed it possible to deduce some features of matter, as physical science must theorize it, a priori. There are no material atoms; matter is divisible to infinity and its parts are all material (4:503f.) Yet Kant recognized, first in the Physical Monadology, then in the Metaphysical Foundations, particles in the form of centres of attractive and repulsive forces that account for the space-filling property and impenetrability of matter (4: 533ff.) This relatively dogmatic treatment co-exists with his critical claim that matter is the appearance of a perfectly unknown substratum. As he explains it in the Critique of Pure Reason, the rainbow is a mere appearance relative to rain drops which, in a physical sense, are things-in-themselves and not mirages. Yet thinking further, we realize that the raindrops too are mere appearances, and that “even their round form, indeed, even the space through which they fall are nothing in themselves, but only mere modifications or foundations of our sensible intuition; the transcendental object, however, remains unknown to us.” (CPR A45 f./B 63f.) “About these appearances, further, much may be said a priori that concerns their form but nothing whatsoever about the things in themselves that may ground them.” (CPR A49/ B66.) This suggests that the stuff which is divisible to infinity and bears attractive and repulsive forces is an appearance of something unknown and unknowable. “We can understand nothing except what brings with it something in intuition corresponding to our words. When we complain that we do not see into the inner nature of things, this can mean no more than that we cannot grasp, through pure reason, what the things that appear to us might be in themselves…. Observation and division with respect to the appearances take us into the interior of nature, and we cannot say how far this will proceed. But every transcendental question that takes us beyond [perceptible] nature can never be answered….” (KRV (A277f./B333f.)