The Political Thought of the German Romantics, 1793-1815

The Political Thought of the German Romantics, 1793-1815

The Political Thought of the German Romantics, 1793-1815

The Political Thought of the German Romantics, 1793-1815

Excerpt

The extracts contained in this volume reveal a mode of thinking which is unfamiliar to the English reader, for it differs sharply from the dominant tradition of English political thought. Nevertheless there are affinities between English thinkers and the German Romantics whose ideas came to England by different routes. Coleridge, the Oxford Movement, and the group of historians called the Liberal- Anglicans drew inspiration and support from German Romanticism. The historical School of Law to some extent derived from German Romanticism, and John Austin and Sir Henry Maine acknowledged their debt to Savigny. Through Hegel whose philosophy contains a considerable body of Romantic thinking their ideas reached the British Idealists. Indeed, this stream of thought has not dried up even to-day, for does not Professor Michael Oakeshott's mode of political thinking, in spite of his profound indebtedness to British empiricism, reveal Romantic features?

The aim of this volume is to introduce the political thought of the German Romantics to the English reader by representative selections from their leading political theorists. Selection from so vast a body of writing must be to some extent arbitrary. It can merely be hoped that the extracts will intimate something of the flavour of German Romantic thinking on politics and may, perhaps, stimulate the reader to pursue the subject further. Space has limited the lists for further reading at the end of the introduction and of each section.

This volume would never have been written but for the constant interest shown by my colleagues at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Foremost, I must acknowledge my gratitude to the late Professor Harold Laski who first encouraged my interest in the history of German Political Thought. I also owe thanks to Professor K. B. Smellie for first suggesting that I should produce this volume, and to Mr. Julius Gould, Professor Otto Kahn-Freund, Mr. Donald G. MacRae, Professor Michael Oakeshott, Mr. William Pickles, and Professor Karl Popper for their kind advice and help. I should . . .

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