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Immanuel Kant
by [?]

Mind was the great miracle to Kant–the ability to know all about a thing by seeing it with your inward eye. “The Imagination hath a stage within the brain upon which all scenes are played,” and the play to Kant was greater than the reality. Or, to use his own words: “Time and Space have no existence apart from Mind. There is no such thing as Sound unless there be an ear to receive the vibrations. Things and places, matter and substance come under the same law, and exist only as mind creates them.”

* * * * *

The parents of Kant were very lowly people. His father was a day laborer–a leather-cutter who never achieved even to the honors and emoluments of a saddler. There were seven children in the family, and never a servant crossed the threshold. One daughter survived Immanuel, and in her eighty-fourth year she expressed regrets that her brother had proved so recreant to the teachings of his parents as practically to alienate him from all his relatives. One brother became a Lutheran minister and lived out an honored career; the others vanish and fade away into the mist of forgetfulness.

So far as we know, all the children were strong and well except this one. At birth he weighed but five pounds, and his weakness was pitiable. He was the kind of child the Spartans used to make way with quickly, for the good of the State. He had a big, bulging head, thin legs, a weak chest, and one shoulder was so much higher than the other that it amounted almost to a deformity.

As the years went by, the parents saw he was not big enough to work, but hope was not dead–they would make a preacher of him! To this end he was sent to the “Fredericianium,” a graded school of no mean quality. The master of this school was a worthy clergyman by the name of Schultz, who was attracted to the Kant boy, it seems, on account of his insignificant size. It was the affection of the shepherd for the friendless ewe lamb. A little later the teacher began to love the boy for his big head and the thoughts he worked out of it. Brawn is bought with a price–young men who bank on it get it as legal tender. Those who have no brawn have to rely on brain or go without honors. Immanuel Kant began to ask his school-teacher questions that made the good man laugh.

At sixteen Kant entered Albertina University. And there he was to remain his entire life–student, tutor, teacher, professor.

He must have been an efficient youth, for before he was eighteen he realized that the best way to learn is to teach. The idea of becoming a clergyman was at first strong upon him; and Pastor Schultz occasionally sent the youth out to preach, or lead religious services in rural districts. This embryo preacher had a habit of placing a box behind the pulpit and standing on it while preaching. Then we find him reasoning the matter out in this way: “I stand on a box to preach so as to impress the people by my height or to conceal my insignificant size. This is pretense and a desire to carry out the idea that the preacher is bigger every way than common people. I talk with God in pretended prayer, and this looks as if I were on easy and familiar terms with Deity. Is it like those folks who claim to be on friendly terms with princes: If I do not know anything about God, why should I pretend I do?”

This desire to be absolutely honest with himself gradually grew until he informed the Pastor that he had better secure young men for preachers who could impress people without standing on a box. As for himself, he would impress people by the size of his head, if he impressed them at all. Let it here be noted that Kant then weighed exactly one hundred pounds, and was less than five feet high. His head measured twenty-four inches around, and fifteen and one-half inches over “firmness” from the opening of the ears. To put it another way, he wore a seven-and-a-half hat.