Manfred Kuehn is professor of philosophy at Philipps-Universat Marburg; he has also written books such as Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century German Philosophers (3 Vol Set), Scottish Common Sense in Germany, 1768-1800: A Contribution to the History of Critical Philosophy (Mcgill-Queen's Studies in the History of Ideas), etc. He wrote in the Prologue of this 2001 book, "Immanuel Kant died... less than two months before his eightieth birthday. Though he was still famous, German thinkers were engaged in trying to get 'beyond' his critical philosophy. He had become almost irrelevant... years before Kant's death ... everything that had made him the genius that he was had disappeared... Especially during his last two years, no signs of his once-great mind could be observed." (Pg. 1-2)
As a student, "Kant had a serious appearance. He did not laugh often. Though he had a sense of humor, it did not show itself in ways to which other students were accustomed... Even late in life his humor was dry, and his jokes were subtle and delivered with a serious demeanor. Already as a student Kant seemed to favor self-control as one of the highest virtues." (Pg. 64) Kuehn quotes another writer, "Playing billiards was his only recreation." (Pg. 64) But Kuehn later notes, "Kant, who never married, and who---as far as we know---never had sex, is often thought to have had little to do with women, but this false. In addition to being the darling of the Countess Keyserlingk, Kant also socialized with a number of other women, who remembered him long after they separated." (Pg. 116)
Kant turned down an offer to become professor of philosophy at Halle, which "was larger and much more prestigious... Neither the opportunity to teach many more students... nor even the good name of the university there, were sufficient to make him move. The reason was his belief that he had been given only a 'comparatively small dose of the force of life." (Pg. 215) Kuehn notes, "After getting up, Kant would drink one or two cups of tea---weak tea. With that, he smoked a pipe of tobacco... Apparently, Kant had formulated the maxim for himself that he would smoke only one pipe, but it is reported that the bowls of his pipes increased considerably in size as the years went on." (Pg. 222) He records, "This was... a life that was not untypical of professors in Konigsberg and elsewhere in Germany. The only thing that was perhaps not typical about Kant's life was the great role that socializing with his friends assumed in it. Kant was a very gregarious and social being---not so much the solitary, isolated, and somewhat comical figure that many have some to see in him." (Pg. 273)
Kuehn notes, "Kant did not use any theological principles to explain nature. Teleological considerations based on God's plans or on the principle of sufficient reason had no place in physics for him. Kant's mechanistic explanation of the world dispensed with them. All that he needed was matter and force." (Pg. 105)
He observes, "Kant openly confessed that [reading David] Hume had interrupted his dogmatic slumber and that in the Critique [of Pure Reason] he was pursuing 'a well-founded, but undeveloped, thought' of Hume. Indeed, he referred to his first Critique as 'the working out of Hume's problem in its greatest possible extension.'" (Pg. 256) Kuehn notes, "When Kant said he wrote the Critique in 'four to five months' he was referring... only to the last stage of writing and copying the manuscript for the printer. The final general outline went back at least a year earlier, and some of the first drafts dated from the early seventies." (Pg. 241)
Kuehn has a real grasp of Kant's philosophy, which makes this biography of even more use to anyone interested in Kant.