On World History: An Anthology

By Johann Gottfried Herder; Hans Adler et al. | Go to book overview
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Early Leaves of Critical Groves

In this short text from 1767, Herder addresses the crucial question of the relationship between historiography and philosophy of history. As he frequently does, he begins his general reflections with a discussion of an individual "instance." The following text documents Herder's earliest discussion of the approach to art history of Johann Joachim Winckelmann ( 1717-68) and of Winckelmann groundbreaking work entitled History of Ancient Art ( Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums, 1764). The "Early Leaves" constitute a part of Herder's larger project entitled Critical Groves, three parts of which appeared in 1769; the fourth was published posthumously in 1843.

Portions of Herder "Early Leaves" were published for the first time in 1963 by Hans Dietrich Irmscher.* The first complete annotated edition, prepared by Regine Otto, appeared in 1990.**

The plan according to which Mr. Winckelmann1 intended to carry out his outstanding history of art, by his own account, is the following -- and I concede that in the more recent literature an undertaking such as this has rarely been carried out in so grand a manner: "The History of Ancient Art which I have undertaken to write is not a mere chronicle of epochs, and of the changes which occurred within them. I use the term History in the more extended signification which it has in the Greek language; and it is my intention to attempt to present a system." 2

will leave it to certain philologists of my nation to gather together the

Hans Dietrich Irmscher, "Probleme der Herder-Forschung", Deutsche Vierteljahrsschtift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 37 ( 1963), pp. 289-93.
Johann Gottfried Herder, Kritische Wälder ( Berlin and Weimar: Aufbau Verlag, 1990), ( Johann Gottfried Herder, Ausgewählte Werke in Einzelausgaben. Schfiften zur Literatur, vol. 2/ 1), pp. 641-52 (annotations in vol. 2/ 2, pp. 201-7).


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