Two years younger than Kant, Weitenkampf was born in 1726 in Königsberg as the son of the pastor of the Alt-Roßgarten parish. He became an orphan at the age of eight and was educated in Königsberg’s Orphanage. In 1743 Weitenkampf was immatriculated at the Alma Albertina and became a favorite student of Martin Knutzen’s. A true clericus vegans, in 1747 he went to the University of Leipzig to study with Johann Christoph Gottsched, a year later to Halle to study with Siegmund Jakob Baumgarten and Georg Friedrich Meier, and finally in 1750 to Helmstedt, where he received under the guidance of Georg Heinrich Keuffel the M.A. and the venia legendi in philosophy (at the age of twenty five - Kant obtained this honor when he was thirty-one). He began giving well-attended philosophy courses at the University of Helmstedt and reached the highpoint of his philosophical career around 1753. In 1754 he became pastor of the Magnuskirche in Braunschweig, married in 1756, and fathered one son, who was born after the father’s premature death due to a catarrhal fever. A promising Königsberger expatriate, Weitenkampf left three substantial volumes of devotional literature, which elaborate on two main issues that had deeply inspired his teacher Knutzen, namely the questions of whether the world had always been and whether creation can be held only by faith or can be demonstrated (raised by Aquinas Summa theol. I, q. 46, a. 1). Knutzen had dedicated the dissertation, De aeternitate mundi impossibili (Königsberg, 1733) and a volume, Philosophischer Beweiß von der Wahrheit der christlichen Religion (Königsberg, 1747) to these issues. In an essay published in the first volume of his Gedanken über wichtige Wahrheiten aus der Vernunft und Religion (Braunschweig/Hildesheim, 1753) Weitenkampf argued in answer to the question of ‘whether the universe had limits’ that an ‘infinitely extended thing’ would be a res without boundaries. Given that however a res extensa is a whole composed of parts, even an infinitely extended thing must be composed of parts. The corporeal world is itself an extended thing. An infinitely extended thing is impossible, since as infinite, it can be thought of as greater, while at the same time the number of parts that compose its extension cannot be thought of as greater (ibid., vol. 2, pp. 1-60). With reference to Rev. 21,1-6, Weitenkampf insisted on God’s ability to destroy the world and re-generate it, but he also developed a theory, which he claimed was based on both reason and faith, to the effect that the end of the world will not come as destruction, but as transformation: God will let planets melt at the same time providing for a better universe (Lehrgebäude vom Untergang der Erden, Braunschweig/Hildeshiem 1754, pp. 12-19).
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