Christian Garve and Immanuel Kant: Some Incidents in the German Enlightenment

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The Breslau translator and popular writer Christian Garve was a good deal more typical figure of the German Enlightenment than was Immanuel Kant. Although a number of years younger than Kant (Garve was born in 1742 and Kant in 1724) he became well known as a writer and publicist before Kant’s critical philosophy was to establish him as a philosopher of the first rank. Beginning in the 1760s, Garve captured the public’s eye and imagination with his many translations into German both of classical writings and contemporary works in European philosophy. Garve drew especially from the writings of British philosophers and social commentators in seeking to present to the German speaking world the most significant philosophical and social currents of his time. Garve is more typical of the German Enlightenment than Kant because of his derivative, eclectic approach and his stress on developing a ‘philosophy of life’. Garve appears to have taken for granted a certain intellectual and philosophical backwardness in Germany and sought to remedy it by making available to the German public new editions of the classical writers and lively translations of his own selection of leading British thinkers and social commentators of the day.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-92
Number of pages22
JournalEnlightenment and Dissent
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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