Immanuel Kant, born 22nd April 1724 in Königsberg, Prussia; died 12th February 1804 in Königsberg, Prussia.

Born to a Pietist family, Kant never physically left the region of his birth, but why bother if one can deduce the nature of the solar system from rationalist premises?

It was around the time the University of Königsberg appointed him Chair of Logic and Metaphysics (at the age of 46) that reading Hume famously awoke Kant from his “dogmatic slumber” and provoked his elaboration over the course of the 1780s of his (“Copernican”) revolutionary system of metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics.

Immanuel Kant

Cameo #2 joins our cannon for his appearance in Bernard Williams’ “Human Rights and Relativism”, where his quest for a “pure moral philosophy” which “does not borrow in the slightest from acquaintance with [man] (in anthropology), but gives him laws a priori as a rational being” (Groundwork, Preface) earns him hypothetical transportation to Camelot in the place of Twain’s Yankee. Williams flings this incongruity in the face of the idea that “moral judgement must take everyone everywhere as equally its object”:

“Of course, one can imagine oneself as Kant at the court of King Arthur, disapproving of its injustices, but exactly what grip does this get on one’s ethical or political thought?” (In the Beginning was the Deed, p. 66)

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