A website devoted to the correspondence networks of German Idealist philosophers
Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Schelling and other German philosophers were dedicated letter-writers. Their correspondence networks constituted the equivalent of a modern blogosphere and were central to the production and reception of Kant’s groundbreaking modern philosophy. In their letters, philosophers discussed ideas, reported on the progress of their work, and voiced opinions about colleagues. They allow the historian to go backstage and witness scholars in action – in their studies, their lecture halls and in their table talks.
MaGIC Net incorporates the metadata of each letter, i.e., the date, name of the author and the recipient, the place of writing and reception, the gender of the correspondent and the language he or she wrote in. These metadata allow for different types of visualisations: geographical, statistical and social. All of these can be filtered, for example by adjusting the time-frame, the threshold of the number of people, or the names of correspondents. Thus it is possible to gain an insight into the development of the network of for example Kant over time.
MaGIC Net has been set up in the context of the project “Thinking Classified: Structuring the World of Ideas around 1800”. Relevant to this project is the emergence of different schools of philosophical thought. With MaGIC Net it is possible to see if there are clusters in the network: groups held together by particular ideas, such as realism or idealism.
Kant: Kant’s extant correspondence counts 1,243 items, including letters now lost but of which we can reconstruct that they must have been written. Dirk van Miert has incorporated all their metadata.
Fichte: Fichte’s correspondence counts 1,559 items. Jochem Bevers has entered the metadata of all the letters written to and by Fichte.
Schelling: The project "Schelling – Edition und Archiv" of the Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften has most liberally supplied the 5509 digitized metadata of Schelling’s surviving correspondence. We are extremely grateful to the members of the project, notably to Dr Christoph Binkelmann, Dr Vicki Müller-Lüneschloß, Prof.Dr Ives Radrizzani, and Dr Daniel Unger for giving us the opportunity to use these data.