A conversation with Kant

Giganews Newsgroups
Subject: A conversation with Kant
Posted by:  Anton Shepelev (anton.t…@gmail.com)
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2015

Hello, all

Would  you  review this translation I made and indi-
cate  grammatical  errors  and  stylistical  flaws?
Note,  that  I  tried  to  use Fowlerian 'shall' and
'will', as becomes eighteenth centure prose.
----------------------------------------------------
Yesterday after dinner I visited the famous Kant,  a
deep  and precise thinker who refutes Melbranche and
Leibniz, and Hume and Bonnet, -- the Kant  whom  the
Jewish  Socrates, the late Mendelson, called nothing
else than der alles zermalmende Kant,  or  the  all-
crushing  Kant.  I didn't have any letters for him,
but courage takes fortreesses, -- and his  cabinet's
doors  were  open  for me.  I was met by a small and
lean old man,  exquisitely  white  and  tender.  My
first  words  were:  "I  am a Russian courtier, love
great men and would pay my respect to Kant."  Forth-
with  he  bid  me  take a seat, saying: "My writings
can't appeal to  everybody's  taste,  for  few  like
metaphysical  nuances."  For  about half an hour we
talked on sundry subjects: travel, China,  the  dis-
covery  of  new  lands.  One should be amazed at his
historical and geographical  knowledge  which  alone
seems  capable  of  cluttering  the store of a man's
memory, but with Kant this is, as the Germans say, a
tangential  interest.  Then  I, not without a jerk,
drew his attention to the nature and moral  of  man;
and  here's what I have retained in memeory from his
reasoning:

"Activity is our predestination.  Man is never  com-
pletely  content with what he has and always strives
toward new acquisitions.  Death cathes us midway  to
something  we  want  to have.  Give a man all he de-
sires, and the same minute will he  feel  that  this
"all"  is not all.  Not finding an end or purpose to
our striving in this life we  assume  a  future  one
where the knot should be undone.  The thought is the
more satisfactory because here  no  commensurability
exists  between  joys and woes and between suffering
and pleasure.  I console myself that  I  am  already
sixty and soon my life will end, for I hope to enter
a new and better one.  Thinking about the  pleasures
I  used  to  have in my life I don't feel delighted,
but re-imagining times when I acted in  accord  with
the moral law that is writ in my heart, I feel glad.
Speaking of the moral law, call it consciousness, or
the  feeling of the good and evil -- but they do ex-
ist.  I have lied, nobody knows about my lie, but  I
feel  ashamed.  Probablity is not evidence, when we
discuss future life; but upon correlating everything
our  mind  compells  us  to believe in it.  And what
would happen to us should we see it, so to say, with
our own eyes?  If we liked it we should no longer be
able to live our earthly life and should be  in  un-
ceasing  anxiety; otherwise we couldn't console our-
selves saying about the woes of  the  earthly  life:
Maybe  it  will be better there!  But speaking about
our predestination, future life, etc. we already as-
sume  the  existance  of an eternal creative spirit,
everything is to some end and for the  good  of  the
creator.  What?  How?..  But at these questions even
the first of the wise  men  acknowledges  his  igno-
rance.  The mind extiguishes its lantern and we are
left in the dark; fantasy alone  may  fly  about  in
this    darkness  and  conjectrue  the  impossi-
ble." -- revered man!  Forgive me if in these  lines
I  have  distorted  your thoughts.  He knows Lavater
and have corresponded with him.  "Lavater  is  very
kind  in the goodness of his heart," says Kant, "but
having an overly excitable imagination, he  is  fre-
quenly  blinded  by  fancies, believes in magnetism,
etc."  We touched upon his enemies.  "You shall know
them,"  said  he,  "and  shall see that they all are
good people."

He wrote for me the titles of his  two  compositions
which I hadn't read: "Kritik der praktischen Vernun-
ft" and "Metaphysik der Sitten." I  will  keep  this
note  as a piece of holy memorabilia.  Upon entering
my name into his pocket-book he wished that  all  my
doubts disperse, and so we parted.

Here  is,  my  friends, a consise description of our
very  interesting  conversation  that  lasted  about
three hours.  Kant speaks swiftly, very low, and un-
intelligibly, and so I must listen to him  with  the
exertion of all[1] auditory nerves.  His  house  is
small  and  scantly  furnished.  Everything in it is
simple except... his metaphysics.
____________________
1. Is  'my' required, i.e.: "with the exertio of all
  my auditory nerves"?

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