Kaliningrad and Kant

Mikhail Drobiz
Baltic Aerophoto Geodetic Enterprise
Kaliningrad, Russia

Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) is one of the most famous scientists in the world. His issues contributed to the development of physics, astronomy, law, but historically Kant remained a brilliant philosopher who founded a new scientific direction named after him and determined the development of scientific thought for many years.

Philosophical understanding of the current processes is not complete without considering the situation through the prism of Immanuel Kant`s theory, and even among modern philosophical trends, Kantianism and the scientific schools based on it occupy a prominent place.

Immanuel Kant was born and lived all his life in Königsberg, the city of the Prussian royal residence, which according to the World War II results, became the part of the Soviet Union named Kaliningrad. In different centuries, other prominent scientists, writers, even astronauts lived here, but in terms of the totality of his influence on the course of world history, perhaps it is Kant who is the most famous inhabitant of our city. It is known that he practically did not leave Königsberg, based his research on the theoretical constructions of facts and their relationships. Probably, the originality of this man, combined with the natural and social features of the area of his residence, created the conditions for the appearance of grandiose works for their time. At the same time, during the period of Kant’s life, there were also several significant military campaigns of Prussia, which also affected ordinary residents of the city. Not the last place in this list is occupied by the Seven Years’ War, during which the territory of East Prussia was part of the Russian Empire for six years from 1756 to 1762, and Immanuel Kant himself, together with the population of many thousands of Prussia, became a Russian citizen, having sworn allegiance to Empress Elizabeth Petrovna.

Königsberg in the middle of the 18th century was a modern northern European city of 30,000 with developed military and social systems of urban economy. According to the surviving cartographic works, the boundaries of the city passed along the defensive ramparts, and the area of the city was a twentieth of the modern one. In the narrow streets of Altstadt, Lebenicht and Kneiphof , where the famous walk of the scientist took place – “the philosophical path”, there were two- or three-story houses in which Immanuel Kant also lived – his father’s house, rented apartments during his student studying and teaching at the university, his own house already recognized scientist. Today, these medieval towns fall within the territory of the Centralny, Leningradsky and Moskovsky districts of Kaliningrad, respectively, and are represented by single buildings that have survived from the 18th–19th centuries.

However, many buildings from the time of Kant were rebuilt over the past two centuries, and the surviving pre-war quarters were mainly built after the time of Kant. The city was constantly expanding, rebuilding, and even the modern design of the grave of Immanuel Kant was made only in honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the philosopher, in 1924.

The Soviet period of the city’s development is characterized by the clearing of rubble formed after the American-British bombardment in 1944 and the storming of Königsberg by the Red Army in 1945, as well as the extensive construction of panel apartment buildings in their place. According to cartographic estimates, today the central part of Kaliningrad consists of 59% of Soviet-built houses, and the number of pre-war buildings is comparable to buildings after 1991.

Russian construction in the city, especially over the past 15-20 years, differs significantly from Soviet construction in the abundance of architectural elements and a high percentage of retail space, the importance of forms and volumes, the use of modern materials and the imitation of historical styles.

Today Kaliningrad is getting ready to celebrate the 300th anniversary of of Immanuel Kant`s birth. In 2024, international conferences, exhibitions and festivals dedicated to the great philosopher will be held. Of course, these events, which will be held in the scientist’s hometown, will arouse great interest and attention to Kaliningrad. They will allow you to feel the original atmosphere of the city at the junction of times, cultures and traditions, touch the events of the past, when in the 18th century our fellow countryman, a wonderful scientist and a brilliant notionalist, walked around the city.

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