Did Kant ever spin around his room?
Someone asked me at some point: “So what have you read that you think is really good?”
Here’s something I read recently that I thought was really good: KANT-LAPLACE HYPOTHESIS: the theory of the origin of the solar system.
“According to this theory the solar system evolved from a rotating mass of incandescent gas which by cooling and shrinking, and thus increasing its rate of spin, gradually flattened at its poles and threw off rings from its equator. These rings became planets, which by the operation of the same laws developed their own satellites. While Laplace supposed the rotating nebula to have been the primordial stuff, Kant maintained that this was itself formed and put into rotation by gravitational action on the original atoms which through their impact with one another generated heat.” (This is from The Standard Dictionary of Philosophy)
This is sooooo fascinating! This is what people thought of in 1755!!
I actually tested Kant’s theory. If you start spinning, your arms will start to go up, and the faster you spin, the higher they go. (This is also the way I would test centrifugal force.) I wonder if that’s how Kant figured it out: by spinning around in his laboratory while his servants watched him and wondered if he was crazy.
Well, actually, I became curious about Kant at this point and I went and did some reading on him to see if he was the kind of person who would spin around the room. Well…after some reading, I don’t think he was. I’m 95% sure.
– Kant was brilliant and great to have a conversation with, but he had no life outside his head. People who spin around the room are usually off their heads.
– Kant was renowned for his inability to tolerate fools. Well, in the 18th century you had to be a fool to spin around the room. People usually sat in chairs.
– Kant wore a wig, and it’s not very likely a person with a wig will start spinning like crazy around their room. The wig is bound to fly off, then you have to pick it up, and set it back on your head…I mean it’s a lot of trouble.
– Kant was very punctual. He took walks at a very precise hour every day. An unscheduled spin around the room would have offset his schedule for sure.
– Kant was a hypochondriac, so, as you know, spinning can make you dizzy and that’s the last thing a hypochondriac needs: more reasons to think he’s dying.
– Kant couldn’t have spun in his laboratory because he didn’t have a laboratory; he had a study. And that study he kept heated up at the constant temperature of 75 degree Farenheit. I can’t imagine spinning in that heat.
– Furthermore, Kant never sweated; in the heat of summer when he went for his usual walk and started to sweat, he would stop in the shade and stand perfectly still until his sweat dried. Since he wasn’t fond of sweating, he couldn’t have spun in his study because at 75 degrees he would have sweated buckets.
I tested his theory by spinning around the room, but my house is usually kept at a constant temperature of 68 degrees Farenheit which is an agreeable temperature for spinning without sweating.