Chamberlain Houston Stewart - Immanuel Kant

Author : Chamberlain Houston Stewart
Title : Immanuel Kant Volume 1 and 2
Year : 1905

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If there be one defect more peculiarly English than another it is the tendency to sneer at everything foreign, at everything that is not familiar, every thing outside the daily experience of our narrow life. Talking the other day with a man of acknowledged ability and great public worth, I happened to mention the name of Kant. " Of one thing I can assure you "said my friend," I am too old to have anything to do with German philosophy"; Coming from such a man these words set me wondering. Does there, after all, exist such a thing as German philosophy ? Surely philosophy is the common possession of all mankind, not the monopoly of any one race or language. There can be few men in the world, whatever their nationality may be, who donot sometimes "think about thought"; The famous misunderstood " Cogito ergo sum " of Descartes, con cerning which Chamberlain has much to say, must often come into the least thoughtful minds. Why am I ? What am I ? What are the relations between me and the world ? are questions which are no more than what is contained in the old Greek precept yv&Qi creavrov. The investigation of the laws of human thought, its objects, methods, and results, belong to all humanity, otherwise it is nothing. And in the case of Kant, that great Lord of Thought, how far can he be called German? Have we Britons, too, not some small hereditary share in the legacy which he has left to the world ? True he was the son of a humble saddler of Konigsberg Konigsberg, where he was born and educated, and which he never left during all the long eighty years of his life, not even for a butterfly s summer holiday. But that saddler was a Scot by origin. How he and his had found their way to that far away northern town at a time when travel was so difficult, I know not, but it is a feather in the cap of our country, that perhaps the most wonderful brain that ever thought, the brain whose power was, as Goethe said, so great that even those who had never read Kant were nevertheless unwittingly influenced by his writings, came of our blood. We may be proud that we too have our part, remote though it be, in his glory. It is well that the latest, and by no means the least, tribute to this gigantic intellect should have been paid by an Englishman, albeit he has chosen the German language as the vehicle for his thought. Mr. Chamber lain s countrymen must always regret the circumstances that have caused him to adopt a foreign country and a foreign tongue. In my introduction to another master piece of his, "The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century" I have given the causes of that alienation an alienation not altogether of his own choosing. I need not repeat the story here. ...

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Balder Ex-Libris
Review of books rare and missing

Balder Ex-Libris