KALININGRAD, Russia, Aug 31 – In universities across the world, scholars build careers following 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant down the byways of his thoughts on ethics, metaphysics and aesthetics.
In his home town, tourism chiefs are just as interested in the physical roads he followed with his feet on his daily walks through what was then the Prussian city of Königsberg, and is now the heart of the Russian territory of Kaliningrad.
Guides showing his regular route are just the starting point for fans of the philosopher who rarely strayed far from his birthplace but laid the foundations of many international schools of modern-day thought.
Visitors can buy plaques, T-shirts and postcards emblazoned with slogans borrowed from the Beatles – “All You Need Is Kant!”; from rapper MC Hammer – “Kant Touch This!”; and from former U.S. President Barack Obama – “Yes! I Kant”.
There are statues, shops stocked with his figurines and a whole island named in his honour.
Tourists can visit his tomb and, as of this month, “Kant House” in the village of Veselovka – the newly renovated home of a pastor where Kant lived and worked as a tutor, now filled with paintings and exhibits linked to his life.
Residents and officials only recently woke up to the branding opportunities offered by their most famous son, said Irina Borodulina, host of the radio show the “Near Kant”, a programme dedicated to his life and theories.
“We try to show Kant not as that annoying personality which we study in universities,” she said.
Borodulina wants her listeners to come away with a thorough knowledge of “where he lived and where he walked and what he thought”. (Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Andrew Heavens)