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With the event about Herder, the National Library of Latvia starts a series of events dedicated to Kant

8 February 2024, the National Library of Latvia (NLL) organized a discussion “Johann Gottfried Herder: from the world back to Riga” in which Eva Piirimäe (Tartu), Kaspar Renner (Potsdam) and Raivis Bičevskis talked about the Enlightenment philosophy. With this event – its audio recording in German and Latvian is available on the Spotify channel “Klausītava” – the NLL together with its partners start a series of events dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the birth of the philosopher Immanuel Kant.

The picture shows a view of Grāvenheide Manor near Lake Jugla, where Johann Gottfried Herder and his friends possilby stayed during the Midsummer celebrations and listened to Latvian folk songs. (Watercolour by J. K. Brotze based on a painting by W. D. von Budberg from

Collection of the Academic Library of the University of Latvia. Brotze: Monumente, Bd. VII, LUAB 112)

Both philosophers and researchers of the Enlightenment and German culture will celebrate this anniversary in many places in Europe and the world. Even today, Kant’s views have not lost their relevance. They open up an opportunity to reconsider ideas about ethics, morality and rational reason in the 21st century in which the values of the Enlightenment have turned out to be so fragile.

Not everyone knows the fact that Kant’s works were first published and read only in Riga – they were published by the legendary Johann Friedrich Hartknoch’s publishing house. The anniversary of the birth of Kant opens up an opportunity for researchers of the Latvian book publishing to re-emphasize the importance of Riga on the European intellectual map of the Age of Enlightenment and to unravel the reasons relating Kant to Riga – we have already discussed this in more detail on the Latvian Radio programme “Grāmatai pa pēdām” (In the Footsteps of the Book).

The team of the project “Book and Society in Latvia: European Dimension and Cultural Transformations” consisting of researchers from the NLL and the University of Latvia, in cooperation with Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, will organize an international scientific conference, which will take place in Riga on September 25-27. Together with the conference, an exhibition dedicated to the first editions of Kant’s works will be opened.

Moreover, throughout the year, the NLL will invite interested parties to accompanying events. They include a lecture about Kant’s connection with Latvia which will be presented by the German historian Manfred von Boetticher on the philosopher’s birthday – April 22, followed by a discussion about the publication of Kant’s works in Riga on April 24. On May 30, a discussion “Breakfast with Kant” at Level 11 of the NLL will provide an insight into Kant’s works from the perspective of the 21st century.

For more information about these and other events, follow the NLL on social media and the website dedicated to 500 Years of Latvian Books


The events are organized within the cycle “500 Years of Latvian Books”, which is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, and takes place within the framework of the fundamental and applied research project “Book and Society in Latvia: European Dimension and Cultural Transformations” (LZP-2023/1-0263).

Information prepared by:

Pauls Daija

Leading researcher

The National Library of Latvia

26 735 250


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