Page 59 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 9 (1950-1951)

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was then a part of Poland. He was brought up in the usual at-
mosphere of Talmudic study. He married at 11, and became a
father at 14. At the age of 25 he left his wife and family and went
to Koenigsberg. From there he proceeded to Berlin via Stettin,
without getting permission, however, to settle in Berlin. For
about half a year he took up the wanderer’s staff in company with
a professional beggar, wandering from place to place until he
reached Posen. There he remained for two years. He then came
to Berlin and, with the exception of a short stay in Holland, re-
mained in Germany until his death.
While in Germany, Maimon attended a “gymnasium” in Ham-
burg for three years, thus attaining a fundamental knowledge of
languages, mathematics and sciences. He became a friend of
Mendelssohn, Lazarus Ben David and Markus Herz, the latter
a student and friend of Kant. He read extensively in philosophy.
From his Talmudic studies he acquired the method of critical
analysis which served him well in every field of study. He applied
the same method to the study of the
of Kant. His friend
Markus Herz sent to Kant the manuscript of the comments and
critical notes by Maimon on the
In a reply to Herz,
Kant writes among other things: “ . . . but a glance at the manu-
script soon enabled me to recognize its merits, and to see, not
only that none of my opponents had understood me and the main
problem so well, but that very few could claim so much penetra-
tion and subtlety of mind in profound inquiries of this sort as
Herr Maimon . . . ” Kant’s favorable reaction motivated Maimon
to publish the manuscript under the name
Versuch ueber die Trans-
which, because of its outstanding philoso-
phical maturity, placed him in the philosophical arena of the
time. In his work, he reached a philosophical standpoint from
which he never swerved, except as regards some minor points,
in the entire course of his philosophical career.
Maimon’s material position remained precarious until Count
Kalkreuth, a nobleman with wide cultural and philosophical lean-
ings, became interested in him, both as an author and as a man,
and offered him a home on his estate in Siegersdorf near Glogau
in Silesia. He was able to make use of his host’s large library
and remained there for about five years until his own death on
November 22, 1800. In this house he wrote his last major work,
Kritische Untersuchungen ueber den Menschlichen Geist
, dedicated
to his benefactor, Count Kalkreuth, as well as a number of essays.
He was buried by the Jewish community of Glogau beyond the
pale of the cemetery as a heretic.
From the publication of his first work in 1790 until his death,
a short span of ten years, the following works came from Maimon’s