Muchos pequeños mitos y falsedades se han dicho sobre la personalidad de Immanuel Kant, y probablemente se seguirán repitiendo, situación que no pasaría de anecdótica si es que en realidad no contribuyera fuertemente a malentender su propia filosofía.
Este blog pretende en parte reivindicar la filosofía moral de Kant ante muchos de sus más comunes malentendidos, como mi serie de artículos de carácter introductorio sobre el imperativo categórico (que estoy seguro están bastante lejos de ser perfectos, pero que espero ir revisando con el tiempo).
Por el mismo motivo, también es concebible que se pretenda reivindicar a la vez la persona misma de Kant, para dejar de lado muchos de los prejuicios con los que incluso muy destacados académicos se acercan a su filosofía.
En un antiguo post de mi otro blog, puse una cita en la que Herder hablaba de la personalidad de Kant, a quien conoció de primera mano, por supuesto. En este, haré algo parecido, y pondré una cita que corresponde al libro de H. J. Paton, titulado The Categorical Imperative: A Study In Kant’s Moral Philosophy, en la que, hablando del reino de los fines, Paton hace un excurso para abordar el controversial tema de la personalidad del filósofo alemán.
But we must remember that there was a time when Kant was young, when in spite of his pocket stature and his pigeon breast he was known as ‘der schone Magister.’ He was outstandingly good at cards, but he had to give them up because he could not bear the slowness with which his partners played. He was fond of the society of ladies as they were fond of his; and he enlivened every party at which he was present by his graceful, though dry, and at times caustic, but never pedantic, wit. Until he was a very old man he never dreamed of dining alone, but had guests at his own table, ‘never less than the number of the graces or more than the number of the muses’. In his lectures he could enthral the rough youth of Konigsberg, and could apparently at will excite them to laughter and even, it is said, to tears. And when, in later middle age, he had been appointed to a full professorship, the wiseacres could still shake their heads and say that he was too much of a dilettante to be much good at philosophy.
Even when he was old and withered, he did not lose his simple and kindly and courteous character. When he was so weak that he fell in the street and could not rise till two unknown ladies helped him up, he presented one of them with the rose which he happened to be carrying. Perhaps the most illuminating story is of a visit paid him by his doctor nine days before his death. The old man, already almost blind and incapable of speaking clearly, so feeble that he could hardly stand, struggled to his feet and with a great effort remained standing, mumbling some unintelligible words about ‘posts’, ‘kindness’, and ‘gratitude’. The doctor was unable to understand, but Kant’s friend Wasianski explained that he was trying to thank the doctor for coming in spite of many other claims upon him, and that he would not sit down till his guest was seated. At first the doctor doubted this, but was soon convinced and moved almost to tears, when Kant, gathering together all his forces, said with a supreme effort ‘The feeling for humanity has not yet left me.’
These are little things, but they help to reveal character; and they should be set beside the little things which show Kant in an absurd, or even an unpleasing, light. A truer view of Kant’s life will show him as essentially a humane and kindly man in spite of his single-minded devotion to philosophy. And a truer view of Kant’s ethics will show him as the philosopher, not of rigorism, but of humanity.
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