The Enlightenment Period

Immanuel Kant

Was Immanuel Kant a recluse?

Yes. He lived a very precise and orderly life, and his neighbors claimed to be able to set their clocks by his daily walks. During the 1770s, he retreated into what biographers call his “silent decade.” He set himself the task of figuring out how perception and intellect are connected. Never a bon vivant, he withdrew from even minimal social contact. But he was very forthright about what was going on in his life and did not make the usual social excuses. When a former student tried to coax him out, he responded in this manner:

Any change makes me apprehensive, even if it offers the greatest promise of improving my condition, and I am persuaded by this natural instinct of mine that I must take heed if I wish that the threads which the Fates spin so thin and weak in my case to be spun to any length. My great thanks, to my well-wishers and friends, who think so kindly of me as to undertake my welfare, but at the same time a most humble request to protect me in my current condition from any disturbance.


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