We cannot know the thing in itself, because the thing is …

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During my holidays I read La vie sexuelle d’Emmanuel Kant (1999) by Jean-Baptiste Botul (above), a small literary mystification on the non-existent (or undocumented) sex life of Immanuel Kant, which I’d bought in a ‘book shop/coffeeshop’ in a village, not far from where we were staying in Le Bar-sur-Loup.

I have a great interest in sex and ergo in the personal lives of authors and philosophers, about which I’ve written before[1].

Coming back home I did quite some research into this little book and Kant’s personal life.

La vie sexuelle d’Emmanuel Kant was written by French ‘Le Canard enchaîné’ journalist Frédéric Pagès.

The information on Kant’s personal life was probably taken from The Last Days of Immanuel Kant (1827) by Thomas de Quincey, which in its turn is based on Immanuel Kant in seinen letzten Lebensjahren by Kant biographer Wasianski.

Frédéric Pagès must have been both flattered and amused when in 2010, not realizing that the work was a hoax, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, in his work De la guerre en philosophie, cites very seriously from this work and builds its argumentation around it.

It is incredible that Lévy did not notice the hoax when he read:

“La Chose, c’est le Sexe. C’est évident. Nous ne pouvons pas connaître la Chose en soi, nous avertit Kant : nous n’en sommes pas capables, mais surtout nous n’y sommes pas autorisés.”
“The Thing is the sex (vulva). That speaks for itself. We cannot know the thing in itself Kant warns us: we are incapable of knowing it, but moreover we are not allowed to.”

Ha ha.

See also asexualityhoaxvita sexualisKant and ErosMartin Lampe, historical examples of bachelors (men who never married).