Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Lament of Kant’s Aristotelian Teacher

Immanuel Kant is believed to have attended the lecture of Johann Adam Gregorovius (1681—1749), an Aristotelian professor, in 1740, at the Königsberg University. Gregorovius’s primary concern was to defend Aristotle’s moral philosophy against more modern attempts at ethics. In the Wöchentliche Nachrichten of 1741, Gregorovius said, among other things:
I cannot make a secret of the fact that the philosophy of Aristotle has been so maligned and ridiculed since so many new systems have appeared after the beginning of this century… that no dog would take a piece of bread from an Aristotelian, even if it had not been fed for five days… This public disregard of antiquity led me entirely to abandon Aristotle from honest conviction. Subsequently, I had to learn every new system as soon as it appeared in order to teach it to the youthful students who were only interested in the newest (splitterneue) philosophers… I had… as great an attendance and applause as any. Yet after I got tired of the constant change… I began to compare all the new doctrines with the ancient one. Yet I had to learn that the hate and disregard which those inexperienced in these matters have against Aristotle also met me. (Source: Kant: A Biography by Manfred Kuehn; Chapter 2: “Student and Private Teacher”; Page 68)  
Gregorovius was acquainted with modern philosophy but he believed that Aristotle’s philosophy was much superior.

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