Philosophical Writings

Philosophical Writings

Philosophical Writings

Philosophical Writings

Synopsis

Herder is a figure of considerable importance in the history of philosophy and the history of ideas. His far-reaching influence encompasses philosophy--Hegel, Schleiermacher, Nietzsche, literature--Goethe, Schiller and linguistics--von Humboldt. This volume presents a comprehensive selection of his writings in a new translation, with an introduction that sets them in their philosophical and historical context.

Excerpt

Herder is a philosopher of the very first rank. Such a claim depends mainly on the intrinsic quality of his ideas, and I shall attempt to give a sense of that in what follows. But another aspect of it is his intellectual influence. This has been immense both within philosophy and beyond (far greater than is generally realized). For example, Hegel's philosophy turns out to be an elaborate systematic extension of Herderian ideas (especially concerning God, the mind, and history); so too does Schleiermacher's (concerning God, the mind, interpretation, translation, and art); Nietzsche is strongly influenced by Herder (concerning the mind, history, and morals); so too is Dilthey (in his theory of the human sciences); J. S. Mill has important debts to Herder (in political philosophy); Goethe not only received his philosophical outlook from Herder but was also transformed from being merely a clever but conventional poet into a great artist mainly through the early impact on him of Herder's ideas; and this list could go on.

Indeed, Herder can claimto havevirtually established whole disciplines which we nowadays take for granted. For example, it was mainly Herder (not, as is often claimed, Hamann) who established certain fundamental principles concerning an intimate dependence of thought on language which underpin modern philosophy of language. Throughthose ideas, his broad empirical approach to languages, his recognition of deep variations in language and thought acrosshi storicalperiods and cultures, and in other ways, Herder inspired Wilhelm von Humboldtto found modern linguistics. Herder developed modern hermeneutics, or interpretation theory, into a form that would subsequently be taken over by Schleiermacher and then more systematically articulated by Schleiermacher's pupil Böckh. In doing that, he also established the methodological foundations of . . .

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