Kantian Journal

2015 Issue №2(52)

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Kant, Königsberg, and the Albertina. Excerpts from the letters of a Polish student

DOI
10.5922/0207-6918-2015-2-9
Pages
109-123

Abstract

By the end of the 19th century, after three partitions of Rzeczpospolita by the neighbouring powers, about half of its territory became part of the Kingdom of Prussia. These geopolitical changes had significant social implications for the Polish population.Jan Swiecicki was one of many Polish students to be sent to German-speaking gymnasia. Some of them continued their education at the oldest Prussian university, the Albertina. Selected pas¬sages from letters dated 1802—1806 give an idea of the organisation of education and living conditions of Königsberg students originating from different parts of Eastern and Central Europe.At the Albertina, as in today’s German universities, students had an opportunity to choose courses from the list announced at the beginning of each semester. Swiecicki was enrolled in the Faculty of Law and he put a lot of effort to receive the degree. However, he was much more enthusiastic about subjects taught at the Faculty of Philosophy.Immanuel Kant was no longer teaching at the university by that time. However, Swiecicki regularly attended Christian Jacob Kraus’s lectures on moral philosophy based on Kant’s “Tugendlehre”, political economy, general encyclopedia, and natural law. The professor of poetry Karl Ludwig Poersсhke, former Kant’s student, was another of his favourite teachers.Swiecicki’s surviving correspondence is kept in the library of the Poznan Society of Friends of Learning. All cited letters were addressed to Franciszek Malinowski (the father of the Polish linguist Franciszek Ksawery Malinowski). The letter of March 3, 1804 informing about Kant’s funeral is published in full. It is the only eyewitness account of the ceremony ever found in Polish sources.

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