Johann Gottfried Herder
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Johann Gottfried von Herder ( , ; 25 August 174418 December 1803) was a German philosopher,
theologian Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an Discipline (academia), academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the ...
,
poet A poet is a person who studies and creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be the creator (thought, thinker, songwriter, writer, or author) who creates (composes) poems (oral t ...
, and
literary critic Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced by literary theory, which is the philosophical analysis, philosophical discussion of literature' ...
. He is associated with the Enlightenment, ''
Sturm und Drang ''Sturm und Drang'' (, ; usually translated as "storm and stress") was a proto-Romanticism, Romantic movement in German literature and Music of Germany, music that occurred between the late 1760s and early 1780s. Within the movement, individual ...
'', and
Weimar Classicism Weimar Classicism (german: Weimarer Klassik) was a German literary movement, literary and cultural movement, whose practitioners established a new humanism from the synthesis of ideas from Romanticism, Classicism, and the Age of Enlightenment. I ...
.


Biography

Born in Mohrungen (now Morąg, Poland) in the
Kingdom of Prussia The Kingdom of Prussia (german: Königreich Preußen, ) was a German kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a Germans, German state on the southeast coast of the Baltic Se ...
, Herder grew up in a poor household, educating himself from his father's
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
and songbook. In 1762, as a youth of 17, he enrolled at the University of Königsberg, about 60 miles (100 km) north of Mohrungen, where he became a student of
Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German Philosophy, philosopher and one of the central Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment thinkers. Born in Königsberg, Kant's comprehensive and systematic works in epistemolo ...
. At the same time, Herder became an
intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research, and reflection about the reality of society, and who proposes solutions for the normative problems of society. Coming from the world of culture Culture () is ...
protégé of
Johann Georg Hamann Johann Georg Hamann (; ; 27 August 1730 – 21 June 1788) was a German Lutheranism, Lutheran philosopher from Königsberg known as "the Wizard of the North" who was one of the leader figures of German idealism, post-Kantian philosophy. His work w ...
, a
Königsberg Königsberg (, ) was the historic Prussian city that is now Kaliningrad, Russia. Königsberg was founded in 1255 on the site of the ancient Old Prussian settlement ''Twangste'' by the Teutonic Knights during the Northern Crusades, and was named ...
philosopher who disputed the claims of pure
secular Secularity, also the secular or secularness (from Latin ''saeculum'', "worldly" or "of a generation"), is the state of being unrelated or neutral in regards to religion. Anything that does not have an explicit reference to religion, either negativ ...
reason Reason is the capacity of Consciousness, consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclusions from new or existing information, with the aim of seeking the truth. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activ ...
. Hamann's influence led Herder to confess to his wife later in life that "I have too little reason and too much idiosyncrasy", yet Herder can justly claim to have founded a new school of German political thought. Although himself an unsociable person, Herder influenced his contemporaries greatly. One friend wrote to him in 1785, hailing his works as "inspired by God." A varied field of theorists were later to find inspiration in Herder's tantalizingly incomplete ideas. In 1764, now a
clergyman Clergy are formal leaders within established religions. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's doctrines and practices. Some of the ter ...
, Herder went to
Riga Riga (; lv, Rīga , liv, Rīgõ) is the capital and largest city of Latvia and is home to 605,802 inhabitants which is a third of Latvia's population. The city lies on the Gulf of Riga at the mouth of the Daugava (river), Daugava river where ...
to teach. It was during this period that he produced his first major works, which were
literary criticism Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced by literary theory, which is the philosophical analysis, philosophical discussion of literature' ...
. In 1769 Herder traveled by ship to the French port of
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: or ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in France, with a popul ...
and continued on to
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,165,423 residents in 2019 in an area of more than 105 km² (41 sq mi), ma ...
. This resulted in both an account of his travels as well as a shift of his own self-conception as an author. By 1770 Herder went to
Strasbourg Strasbourg (, , ; german: Straßburg ; gsw, label=Bas Rhin Alsatian dialect, Alsatian, Strossburi , gsw, label=Haut Rhin Alsatian dialect, Alsatian, Strossburig ) is the Prefectures in France, prefecture and largest city of the Grand Est Re ...
, where he met the young
Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German people, German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, politician, statesman, theatre director, and critic. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe bibliography, His works include pla ...
. This event proved to be a key juncture in the history of
German literature German literature () comprises those literature, literary texts written in the German language. This includes literature written in Germany, Austria, the German parts of Switzerland and Belgium, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, South Tyrol in Italy a ...
, as Goethe was inspired by Herder's literary criticism to develop his own style. This can be seen as the beginning of the "
Sturm und Drang ''Sturm und Drang'' (, ; usually translated as "storm and stress") was a proto-Romanticism, Romantic movement in German literature and Music of Germany, music that occurred between the late 1760s and early 1780s. Within the movement, individual ...
" movement. In 1771 Herder took a position as head pastor and court preacher at Bückeburg under
William, Count of Schaumburg-Lippe Wilhelm, Count of Schaumburg-Lippe-Bückeburg (9 January 1724 – 10 September 1777), born Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Graf zu Schaumburg-Lippe-Bückeburg, was a German ruler of the County A county is a geographic region of a country used fo ...
. By the mid-1770s, Goethe was a well-known author, and used his influence at the court of
Weimar Weimar is a city in the state (Germany), state of Thuringia, Germany. It is located in Central Germany (cultural area), Central Germany between Erfurt in the west and Jena in the east, approximately southwest of Leipzig, north of Nuremberg an ...
to secure Herder a position as General Superintendent. Herder moved there in 1776, where his outlook shifted again towards
classicism Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for a classical period, classical antiquity in the Western tradition, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. In its purest form, classicism is an aestheti ...
. On May 2, 1773 Herder married Maria Karoline Flachsland (1750–1809) in
Darmstadt Darmstadt () is a city in the States of Germany, state of Hesse in Germany, located in the southern part of the Frankfurt Rhine Main Area, Rhine-Main-Area (Frankfurt Metropolitan Region). Darmstadt has around 160,000 inhabitants, making it th ...
. His son
Gottfried Gottfried is a masculine German given name. It is derived from the Old High German Old High German (OHG; german: Althochdeutsch (Ahd.)) is the earliest stage of the German language, conventionally covering the period from around 750 to 1050. T ...
(1774–1806) was born in Bückeburg. His second son
August August is the eighth month of the year in the Julian calendar, Julian and Gregorian calendars, and the fifth of seven months to have a length of 31 days. Its zodiac sign is Leo (astrology), Leo and was originally named ''Sextilis'' in Latin ...
(1776–1838) was also born in Bückeburg. His third son Wilhelm Ludwig Ernst was born 1778. His fourth son Karl Emil Adelbert (1779–1857) was born in
Weimar Weimar is a city in the state (Germany), state of Thuringia, Germany. It is located in Central Germany (cultural area), Central Germany between Erfurt in the west and Jena in the east, approximately southwest of Leipzig, north of Nuremberg an ...
. In 1781 his daughter Luise (1781–1860) was born, also in Weimar. His fifth son Emil Ernst Gottfried (1783–1855). In 1790 his sixth son Rinaldo Gottfried was born. Towards the end of his career, Herder endorsed the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, ...
, which earned him the enmity of many of his colleagues. At the same time, he and Goethe experienced a personal split. His unpopular attacks on Kantian philosophy were another reason for his isolation in later years. In 1802 Herder was ennobled by the Elector-Prince of
Bavaria Bavaria ( ; ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (german: Freistaat Bayern, link=no ), is a state in the south-east of Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the sec ...
, which added the prefix "von" to his last name. He died in
Weimar Weimar is a city in the state (Germany), state of Thuringia, Germany. It is located in Central Germany (cultural area), Central Germany between Erfurt in the west and Jena in the east, approximately southwest of Leipzig, north of Nuremberg an ...
in 1803 at age 59.


Works and ideas

In 1772 Herder published ''Treatise on the Origin of Language'' and went further in this promotion of language than his earlier injunction to "spew out the ugly slime of the
Seine The Seine ( , ) is a river in northern France. Its drainage basin is in the Paris Basin (a geological relative lowland) covering most of northern France. It rises at Source-Seine, northwest of Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, ...
. Speak German, O You German". Herder now had established the foundations of comparative
philology Philology () is the study of language in oral and writing, written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics (with especially strong ties to etymology). Philology is also defin ...
within the new currents of political outlook. Throughout this period, he continued to elaborate his own unique theory of
aesthetics Aesthetics, or esthetics, is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aesthetics). It examines aesthetic values, ...
in works such as the above, while Goethe produced works like ''
The Sorrows of Young Werther ''The Sorrows of Young Werther'' (; german: Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) is a 1774 epistolary novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, which appeared as a revised edition in 1787. It was one of the main novels in the ''Sturm ...
''the
Sturm und Drang ''Sturm und Drang'' (, ; usually translated as "storm and stress") was a proto-Romanticism, Romantic movement in German literature and Music of Germany, music that occurred between the late 1760s and early 1780s. Within the movement, individual ...
movement was born. Herder wrote an important essay on
Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's nation ...
and ''Auszug aus einem Briefwechsel über Ossian und die Lieder alter Völker'' (Extract from a correspondence about
Ossian Ossian (; Irish Gaelic/Scottish Gaelic: ''Oisean'') is the narrator and purported author of a cycle of epic poems published by the Scottish poet James Macpherson, originally as ''Fingal'' (1761) and ''Temora'' (1763), and later combined under t ...
and the Songs of Ancient Peoples) published in 1773 in a manifesto along with contributions by Goethe and Justus Möser. Herder wrote that "A poet is the creator of the nation around him, he gives them a world to see and has their souls in his hand to lead them to that world." To him such poetry had its greatest purity and power in nations before they became civilised, as shown in the
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;
, the
Edda "Edda" (; Old Norse ''Edda'', plural ''Eddur'') is an Old Norse term that has been attributed by modern scholars to the collective of two Medieval Icelandic literary works: what is now known as the ''Prose Edda'' and an older collection of poems ...
, and
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') (born ) was a Greek poet who is credited as the author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. Homer is considered one of the ...
, and he tried to find such virtues in ancient German folk songs and Norse poetry and
mythology Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. Since "myth" is widely used to imply that a story is not objectively true, the identification of a narra ...
. Herder - most pronouncedly after
Georg Forster Johann George Adam Forster, also known as Georg Forster (, 27 November 1754 – 10 January 1794), was a German natural history, naturalist, ethnology, ethnologist, travel literature, travel writer, journalist and revolutionary. At an early age ...
's 1791 translation of the
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had Trans-cul ...
play ''
Shakuntala Shakuntala (Sanskrit: ''Śakuntalā'') is the wife of Dushyanta and the mother of Bharata (Mahabharata), Emperor Bharata. Her story is told in the ''Adi Parva'' of the ancient Indian epic ''Mahabharata'' and dramatized by many writers, the mos ...
-'' was influenced by the religious imagery of
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religions, Indian religion or ''dharma'', a religious and universal order or way of life by which followers abide. As a religion, it is the Major religious groups, world's third-largest, with over 1.2–1.35 billion ...
and Indian literature, which he saw in a positive light, writing several essays on the topic and the preface to the 1803 edition of ''Shakuntala''. After becoming General Superintendent in 1776, Herder's philosophy shifted again towards
classicism Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for a classical period, classical antiquity in the Western tradition, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. In its purest form, classicism is an aestheti ...
, and he produced works such as his unfinished ''Outline of a Philosophical History of Humanity'' which largely originated the school of historical thought. Herder's philosophy was of a deeply subjective turn, stressing influence by physical and historical circumstance upon human development, stressing that "one must go into the age, into the region, into the whole history, and feel one's way into everything". The historian should be the "regenerated contemporary" of the past, and history a science as "instrument of the most genuine patriotic spirit". Herder gave Germans new pride in their origins, modifying that dominance of regard allotted to
Greek art Greek art began in the Cycladic civilization, Cycladic and Minoan civilization, and gave birth to Classicism, Western classical art in the subsequent Geometric art, Geometric, Archaic Greece, Archaic and Classical Greece, Classical periods (with ...
(''
Greek revival The Greek Revival was an architectural style, architectural movement which began in the middle of the 18th century but which particularly flourished in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, predominantly in northern Europe and the United Sta ...
'') extolled among others by
Johann Joachim Winckelmann Johann Joachim Winckelmann (; ; 9 December 17178 June 1768) was a German art historian and archaeologist. He was a pioneering Hellenism (neoclassicism), Hellenist who first articulated the differences between Ancient Greek art, Greek, Hellenisti ...
and
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (, ; 22 January 1729 – 15 February 1781) was a philosopher, dramatist, publicist and art critic, and a representative of the Enlightenment era. His plays and theoretical writings substantially influenced the developmen ...
. He remarked that he would have wished to be born in the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
and mused whether "the times of the
Swabia Swabia ; german: Schwaben , colloquially ''Schwabenland'' or ''Ländle''; archaic English also Suabia or Svebia is a cultural, Historical region, historic and linguistic region in southwestern Germany. The name is ultimately derived from the ...
n emperors" did not "deserve to be set forth in their true light in accordance with the German mode of thought?". Herder equated the German with the Gothic and favoured Dürer and everything Gothic. As with the sphere of art, equally he proclaimed a national message within the sphere of
language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Languages are the primary means by which humans communicate, and may be conveyed through a variety of met ...
. He topped the line of German authors emanating from Martin Opitz, who had written his ''Aristarchus, sive de contemptu linguae Teutonicae'' in
latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
in 1617, urging Germans to glory in their hitherto despised language. Herder's extensive collections of folk-poetry began a great craze in Germany for that neglected topic. Herder was one of the first to argue that language contributes to shaping the frameworks and the patterns with which each linguistic community thinks and feels. For Herder, language is "the organ of thought." This has often been misinterpreted, however. Neither Herder nor the great philosopher of language,
Wilhelm von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand von Humboldt (, also , ; ; 22 June 1767 – 8 April 1835) was a Prussian philosopher, linguist, government functionary, diplomat, and founder of the Humboldt University of Berlin, which was named after ...
, argue that language (written or oral) determines thought. Rather, language was the appropriation of the outer world within the human mind by means of distinguishing marks (''merkmale''). In positing his arguments, Herder reformulated an example from works by
Moses Mendelssohn Moses Mendelssohn (6 September 1729 – 4 January 1786) was a German-Jewish philosopher and theologian. His writings and ideas on Jews and the Jewish religion and identity were a central element in the development of the ''Haskalah'', or 'Je ...
and Thomas Abbt. In his conjectural narrative of human origins, Herder argued that, although language did not determine thought, the first humans perceived sheep and their bleating, or subjects and corresponding ''merkmale'', as one and the same. That is, for these conjectured ancestors, the sheep were the bleating, and vice-versa. Hence, prelinguistic thought did not figure largely in Herderian conjectural narratives. Herder even moved beyond his narrative of human origins to contend that if active reflection (''besonnenheit'') and language persisted in human consciousness, then human impulses to signify were immanent in the pasts, presents, and futures of humanity. Avi Lifschitz subsequently reframed Herder's "the organ of thought" quotation: "Herder's equation of word and idea, of language and cognition, prompted a further attack on any attribution of the first words to the imitation of natural sounds, to the physiology of the vocal organs, or to social convention... erder arguedfor the linguistic character of our cognition but also for the cognitive nature of human language. One could not think without language, as various Enlightenment thinkers argued, but at the same time one could not properly speak without perceiving the world in a uniquely human way...man would not be himself without language and active reflection, while language deserved its name only as a cognitive aspect of the entire human being." In response to criticism of these contentions, Herder resisted descriptions of his findings as "conjectural" pasts, casting his arguments for a dearth of cognition in humans and "the problem of the origin of language as a synchronic issue rather than a diachronic one." And in this sense, when Humboldt argues that all thinking is thinking in language, he is perpetuating the Herderian tradition. Herder additionally advanced select notions of myriad "authentic" conceptions of ''Völk'' and the unity of the individual and natural law, which became fodder for his self-proclaimed twentieth-century disciples. Herderian ideas continue to influence thinkers, linguists and anthropologists, and they have often been considered central to the
Sapir–Whorf hypothesis The hypothesis of linguistic relativity, also known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis , the Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism, is a principle suggesting that the structure of a language affects its speakers' world view, worldview or cognition, and ...
and Franz Boas' coalescence of comparative linguistics and historical particularism with a neo-Kantian/Herderian four-field approach to the study of all cultures, as well as, more recently, anthropological studies by Dell Hymes. Herder's focus upon language and cultural traditions as the ties that create a "nation" extended to include
folklore Folklore is shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. This includes oral traditions such as Narrative, tales, legends, proverbs and jokes. They include material culture, r ...
, dance, music and art, and inspired Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in their collection of German folk tales. Arguably, the greatest inheritor of Herder's linguistic philosophy was Wilhelm von Humboldt. Humboldt's great contribution lay in developing Herder's idea that language is "the organ of thought" into his own belief that languages were specific worldviews (''Weltansichten''), as Jürgen Trabant argues in the Wilhelm von Humboldt lectures on the Rouen Ethnolinguistics Project website. Herder attached exceptional importance to the concept of nationality and of patriotism"he that has lost his patriotic spirit has lost himself and the whole worlds about himself", whilst teaching that "in a certain sense every human perfection is national". Herder carried folk theory to an extreme by maintaining that "there is only one class in the state, the ''
Volk The German noun ''Volk'' () translates to :wikt:people, people, both uncountable in the sense of ''people'' as in a crowd, and countable (plural ''Völker'') in the sense of ''People, a people'' as in an ethnic group or nation (compare the E ...
'', (not the rabble), and the king belongs to this class as well as the peasant". Explanation that the ''Volk'' was not the rabble was a novel conception in this era, and with Herder can be seen the emergence of "the people" as the basis for the emergence of a classless but hierarchical national body. The nation, however, was individual and separate, distinguished, to Herder, by climate, education, foreign intercourse, tradition and heredity. Providence he praised for having "wonderfully separated nationalities not only by woods and mountains, seas and deserts, rivers and climates, but more particularly by languages, inclinations and characters". Herder praised the
tribal The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human social group. The predominant worldwide usage of the term in English language, English is in the discipline of anthropology. This definition is contested, in p ...
outlook writing that "the savage who loves himself, his wife and child with quiet joy and glows with limited activity of his tribe as for his own life is in my opinion a more real being than that cultivated shadow who is enraptured with the shadow of the whole species", isolated since "each nationality contains its centre of happiness within itself, as a bullet the centre of gravity". With no need for comparison since "every nation bears in itself the standard of its perfection, totally independent of all comparison with that of others" for "do not nationalities differ in everything, in poetry, in appearance, in tastes, in usages, customs and languages? Must not religion which partakes of these also differ among the nationalities?" Following a trip to
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the List of European countries by area, second-largest European country after Russia, which it borders Russia–Ukraine border, to the east and northeast. Ukraine ...
, Herder wrote a prediction in his diary (''Journal meiner Reise im Jahre 1769'') that Slavic nations would one day be the real power in Europe, as the western Europeans would reject Christianity and rot away, while the eastern European nations would stick to their religion and their idealism, and would this way become the power in Europe. More specifically, he praised Ukraine's "beautiful skies, blithe temperament, musical talent, bountiful soil, etc. ..someday will awaken there a cultured nation whose influence will spread ..throughout the world." One of his related predictions was that the Hungarian nation would disappear and become assimilated by surrounding Slavic peoples; this prophecy caused considerable uproar in Hungary and is widely cited to this day.


Germany and the Enlightenment

This question was further developed by Herder's lament that
Martin Luther Martin Luther (; ; 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German priest, theologian, author, hymnwriter, and professor, and Order of Saint Augustine, Augustinian friar. He is the seminal figure of the Reformation, Protestant Refo ...
did not establish a national church, and his doubt whether Germany did not buy Christianity at too high a price, that of true nationality. Herder's patriotism bordered at times upon national
pantheism Pantheism is the belief that reality, the universe and the cosmos are identical with divinity and a supreme supernatural being or entity, pointing to the universe as being an immanent creator deity A creator deity or creator god (often ...
, demanding of territorial unity as "He is deserving of glory and gratitude who seeks to promote the unity of the territories of Germany through writings, manufacture, and institutions" and sounding an even deeper call: :''"But now! Again I cry, my German brethren! But now! The remains of all genuine folk-thought is rolling into the abyss of oblivion with a last and accelerated impetus. For the last century we have been ashamed of everything that concerns the fatherland."'' In his ''Ideas upon Philosophy and the History of Mankind'' he wrote: "Compare England with Germany: the English are Germans, and even in the latest times the Germans have led the way for the English in the greatest things." Herder, who hated absolutism and Prussian nationalism, but who was imbued with the spirit of the whole German ''Volk'', yet as a historical theorist turned away from the ideas of the eighteenth century. Seeking to reconcile his thought with this earlier age, Herder sought to harmonize his conception of sentiment with reasoning, whereby all knowledge is implicit in the soul; the most elementary stage is the sensuous and intuitive perception which by development can become self-conscious and rational. To Herder, this development is the harmonizing of primitive and derivative truth, of experience and intelligence, feeling and reasoning. Herder is the first in a long line of Germans preoccupied with this harmony. This search is itself the key to the understanding of many German theories of the time; however Herder understood and feared the extremes to which his folk-theory could tend, and so issued specific warnings. He argued that Jews in Germany should enjoy the full rights and obligations of Germans, and that the non-Jews of the world owed a debt to Jews for centuries of abuse, and that this debt could be discharged only by actively assisting those Jews who wished to do so to regain political sovereignty in their ancient homeland of Israel. Herder refused to adhere to a rigid racial theory, writing that "notwithstanding the varieties of the human form, there is but one and the same species of man throughout the whole earth". He also announced that "national glory is a deceiving seducer. When it reaches a certain height, it clasps the head with an iron band. The enclosed sees nothing in the mist but his own picture; he is susceptible to no foreign impressions." The passage of time was to demonstrate that while many Germans were to find influence in Herder's convictions and influence, fewer were to note his qualifying stipulations. Herder had emphasised that his conception of the nation encouraged democracy and the free self-expression of a people's identity. He proclaimed support for the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, ...
, a position which did not endear him to royalty. He also differed with Kant's philosophy for not placing reasoning within the context of language. Herder did not think that reason itself could be criticized, as it did not exist except as the process of reasoning. This process was dependent on language. He also turned away from the
Sturm und Drang ''Sturm und Drang'' (, ; usually translated as "storm and stress") was a proto-Romanticism, Romantic movement in German literature and Music of Germany, music that occurred between the late 1760s and early 1780s. Within the movement, individual ...
movement to go back to the poems of
Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's nation ...
and
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') (born ) was a Greek poet who is credited as the author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. Homer is considered one of the ...
. To promote his concept of the ''Volk'', he published letters and collected folk songs. These latter were published in 1773 as ''Voices of the Peoples in Their Songs'' (''Stimmen der Völker in ihren Liedern''). The poets
Achim von Arnim Carl Joachim Friedrich Ludwig von Arnim (26 January 1781 – 21 January 1831), better known as Achim von Arnim, was a German poet A poet is a person who studies and creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as su ...
and Clemens von Brentano later used ''Stimmen der Völker'' as samples for ''The Boy's Magic Horn'' ('' Des Knaben Wunderhorn''). Herder also fostered the ideal of a person's individuality. Although he had from an early period championed the individuality of cultures – for example, in his ''This Too a Philosophy of History for the Formation of Humanity'' (1774), he also championed the individuality of ''persons'' within a culture; for example, in his ''On Thomas Abbt's Writings'' (1768) and ''On the Cognition and Sensation of the Human Soul'' (1778). In ''On Thomas Abbt's Writings'', Herder stated that "a human soul is an individual in the realm of minds: it senses in accordance with an individual formation, and thinks in accordance with the strength of its mental organs. ... My long allegory has succeeded if it achieves the representation of the mind of a human being as an individual phenomenon, as a rarity which deserves to occupy our eyes."


Evolution

Herder has been described as a proto-evolutionary thinker by some science historians, although this has been disputed by others.Nisbet, H. B. (1970). ''Herder and the Philosophy and History of Science''. Modern Humanities Research Association. pp. 210–212. Zimmerli, W. Ch. ''Evolution or Development? Questions Concerning the Systematic and Historical Position of Herder''. In Kurt Mueller-Vollmer. (1990). ''Herder Today: Contributions from the International Herder Conference: Nov. 5–8, 1987 Stanford, California''. pp. 1–16. Concerning the history of life on earth, Herder proposed naturalistic and
metaphysical Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the fundamental nature of reality, the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity, and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of conscio ...
(religious) ideas that are difficult to distinguish and interpret. He was known for proposing a
great chain of being The great chain of being is a hierarchical structure of all matter and life, thought by medieval Christianity to have been decreed by God. The chain begins with God and descends through angels, humans, animals and plants to minerals. The great c ...
. In his book ''From the Greeks to Darwin'',
Henry Fairfield Osborn Henry Fairfield Osborn, Sr. (August 8, 1857 – November 6, 1935) was an American paleontologist, geologist and eugenics advocate. He was the president of the American Museum of Natural History for 25 years and a cofounder of the Society_for_Bi ...
wrote that "in a general way he upholds the doctrine of the transformation of the lower and higher forms of life, of a continuous transformation from lower to higher types, and of the law of Perfectibility." However, biographer Wulf Köpke disagreed, noting that "biological evolution from animals to the human species was outside of his thinking, which was still influenced by the idea of divine creation."


Bibliography

* ''Song to Cyrus, the Grandson of Astyages'' (1762) * ''Essay on Being'', (1763–64) * ''On Diligence in Several Learned Languages'' (1764) * ''Treatise on the Ode'' (1764) * ''How Philosophy can become more Universal and Useful for the Benefit of the People'' (1765) * ''Fragments on Recent German Literature'' (1767–68) * ''On Thomas Abbt's Writings'' (1768) * ''Critical Forests, or Reflections on the Science and Art of the Beautiful'' (1769–) * ''Gott – einige Gespräche über
Spinoza Baruch (de) Spinoza (born Bento de Espinosa; later as an author and a correspondent ''Benedictus de Spinoza'', anglicized to ''Benedict de Spinoza''; 24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677) was a Dutch Republic, Dutch philosopher of Spanish and ...
's System nebst Shaftesbury's Naturhymnus'' (Gotha: Karl Wilhelm Ettinger, 1787) * ''Journal of my Voyage in the Year 1769'' (first published 1846) * ''Treatise on the Origin of Language'' (1772) * ''Selection from correspondence on
Ossian Ossian (; Irish Gaelic/Scottish Gaelic: ''Oisean'') is the narrator and purported author of a cycle of epic poems published by the Scottish poet James Macpherson, originally as ''Fingal'' (1761) and ''Temora'' (1763), and later combined under t ...
and the songs of ancient peoples'' (1773) See also:
James Macpherson James Macpherson (Scottish Gaelic, Gaelic: ''Seumas MacMhuirich'' or ''Seumas Mac a' Phearsain''; 27 October 1736 – 17 February 1796) was a Scottish people, Scottish writer, poet, literary collector and politician, known as the "translator" ...
(1736–1796). * ''Of German Character and Art'' (with Goethe, manifesto of the Sturm und Drang) (1773) * ''This Too a Philosophy of History for the Formation of Humanity'' (1774) * ''Oldest Document of the Human Race'' (1774–76) * "Essay on Ulrich von Hutten" Nachricht von Ulrich von Hutten"(1776) * ''On the Resemblance of Medieval English and German Poetry'' (1777) * ''Sculpture: Some Observations on Shape and Form from Pygmalion's Creative Dream'' (1778) * ''On the Cognition and Sensation of the Human Soul'' (1778) * ''On the Effect of Poetic Art on the Ethics of Peoples in Ancient and Modern Times'' (1778) * ''Folk Songs'' (1778–79; second ed. of 1807 titled ''The Voices of Peoples in Songs'') * ''On the Influence of the Government on the Sciences and the Sciences on the Government'' (''Dissertation on the Reciprocal Influence of Government and the Sciences'') (1780) * ''Letters Concerning the Study of Theology'' (1780–81) * ''On the Influence of the Beautiful in the Higher Sciences'' (1781)
''On the Spirit of Hebrew Poetry. An Instruction for Lovers of the Same and the Oldest History of the Human Spirit'' (1782–83)
* ''God. Some Conversations'' (1787)
''Oriental Dialogues'' 1787

''Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind ''
(1784–91) * ''Scattered Leaves'' (1785–97) * ''Letters for the Advancement of Humanity'' (1791–97 or 1793–97? (various drafts)) * ''Thoughts on Some Brahmins'' (1792)Willson, A. Leslie. "Rogerius' "Open Deure": A Herder Source." ''Monatshefte'' 48, no. 1 (1956): 17–24. Accessed October 3, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30166121. * ''Zerstreute Blätter'' (1792) * ''Christian Writings'' (5 vols.) (1794–98) * ''Terpsichore'' (1795–96) A translation and commentary of the Latin poet Jakob Balde. * ''On the Son of God and Saviour of the World, according to the Gospel of John'' (1797) * ''Persepolisian Letters'' (1798). Fragments on Persian architecture, history and religion. * ''Luther's Catechism, with a catechetical instruction for the use of schools'' (1798) * ''Understanding and Experience. A Metacritique of the Critique of Pure Reason. Part I. (Part II, Reason and Language.)'' (1799) * ''Calligone'' (1800) * ''Adrastea: Events and Characters of the 18th Century'' (6 vols.) (1801–03) * ''The Cid'' (1805; a free translation of the Spanish epic '' Cantar de Mio Cid'')


Works in English

* ''Herder's Essay on Being. A Translation and Critical Approaches''. Edited and translated by John K. Noyes. Rochester: Camden House 2018. Herder's early essay on metaphysics, translated with a series of critical commentaries. *''Song Loves the Masses: Herder on Music and Nationalism''. Edited and translated by Philip Vilas Bohlman (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017). Collected writings on music, from ''Volkslieder'' to sacred song. *''Selected Writings on Aesthetics''. Edited and translated by Gregory Moore. Princeton U.P. 2006. pp. x + 455. . Edition makes many of Herder's writings on aesthetics available in English for the first time. *''Another Philosophy of History and Selected Political Writings'', eds. Ioannis D. Evrigenis and Daniel Pellerin (Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2004). A translation of ''Auch eine Philosophie'' and other works. *''Philosophical Writings'', ed. Michael N. Forster (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002). The most important philosophical works of the early Herder available in English, including an unabridged version of the ''Treatise on the Origin of Language'' and ''This Too a Philosophy of History for the Formation of Mankind''. *''Sculpture: Some Observations on Shape and Form from Pygmalion's Creative Dream'', ed. Jason Gaiger (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002). Herder's ''Plastik''. *''Selected Early Works'', eds. Ernest A. Menze and Karl Menges (University Park: The Pennsylvania State Univ. Press, 1992). Partial translation of the important text ''Über die neuere deutsche Litteratur''. *''On World History'', eds. Hans Adler and Ernest A. Menze (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1997). Short excerpts on history from various texts. *''J. G. Herder on Social & Political Culture (Cambridge Studies in the History and Theory of Politics)'', ed. F. M. Barnard (Cambridge University Press, 2010 (originally published in 1969)) Selected texts: 1. ''Journal of my voyage in the year 1769''; 2. ''Essay on the origin of language''; 3. ''Yet another philosophy of history''; 4. ''Dissertation on the reciprocal influence of government and the sciences''; 5. ''Ideas for a philosophy of the history of mankind''. *''Herder: Philosophical Writings'', ed. Desmond M. Clarke and Michael N. Forster (Cambridge University Press, 2007), . Contents: Part I. General Philosophical Program: 1. How philosophy can become more universal and useful for the benefit of the people (1765); Part II. Philosophy of Language: 2. Fragments on recent German literature (1767–68); 3. Treatise on the origin of language (1772); Part III. Philosophy of Mind: 4. On Thomas Abbt's writings (1768); 5. On cognition and sensation, the two main forces of the human soul; 6. On the cognition and sensation, the two main forces of the human soul (1775); Part IV. Philosophy of History: 7. On the change of taste (1766); 8. Older critical forestlet (1767/8); 9. This too a philosophy of history for the formation of humanity (1774); Part V. Political Philosophy: 10. Letters concerning the progress of humanity (1792); 11. Letters for the advancement of humanity (1793–97). *''Herder on Nationality, Humanity, and History'', F. M. Barnard. (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003.) . *''Herder's Social and Political Thought: From Enlightenment to Nationalism'', F. M. Barnard, Oxford, Publisher: Clarendon Press, 1967. ASIN B0007JTDEI.


See also

*
Herder Prize The Herder Prize (german: Gottfried-von-Herder-Preis), named after the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder Johann Gottfried von Herder ( , ; 25 August 174418 December 1803) was a German philosopher, theologian, poet, and literary critic. ...


Notes


References

* Michael N. Forster, ''After Herder: Philosophy of Language in the German Tradition'', Oxford University Press, 2010.


Further reading

* Adler, Hans. "Johann Gottfried Herder's Concept of Humanity," ''Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture'' 23 (1994): 55–74 * Adler, Hans and Wolf Koepke eds., ''A Companion to the Works of Johann Gottfried Herder''. Rochester: Camden House 2009. * Azurmendi, J. 2008. ''Volksgeist. Herri gogoa'', Donostia, Elkar, . * * Berman, Antoine. '' L'épreuve de l'étranger. Culture et traduction dans l'Allemagne romantique: Herder, Goethe, Schlegel, Novalis, Humboldt, Schleiermacher, Hölderlin.'', Paris, Gallimard, Essais, 1984. * Berlin, Isaiah, ''Vico and Herder. Two Studies in the History of Ideas'', London, 1976. * Berlin, Isaiah '' Three Critics of the Enlightenment: Vico, Hamann, Herder'', London and Princeton, 2000, *''Herder today''. Contributions from the International Herder Conference, 5–8 November 1987, Stanford, California. Edited by Mueller-Vollmer Kurt. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1990. ** Baum, Manfred, ''Herder's essay on Being''. In ''Herder Today: Contributions from the International Herder Conference, 5–8 November 1987,'' Stanford, California. Edited by Mueller-Vollmer Kurt. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1990. pp. 126–137. ** Simon Josef, ''Herder and the problematization of metaphysics''. In Herder Today: Contributions from the International Herder Conference, 5–8 November 1987, Stanford, California. Edited by Mueller-Vollmer Kurt. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1990. pp. 108–125. * DeSouza, Nigel and Anik Waldow eds., ''Herder. Philosophy and Anthropology''. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2017. * Iggers, Georg, ''The German Conception of History: The National Tradition of Historical Thought from Herder to the Present'' (2nd ed.; Wesleyan University Press, 1983). * Noyes, John K., ''Herder. Aesthetics against Imperialism''. Toronto: University of Toronto Press 2015. * Noyes, John K. ed., ''Herder's Essay on Being. A Translation and Critical Approaches''. Rochester: Camden House 2018. * Sikka, Sonia, ''Herder on Humanity and Cultural Difference. Enlightened Relativism''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2011. * Taylor, Charles, ''The importance of Herder''. In ''Isaiah Berlin: A celebration'' edited by Margalit Edna and Margalit Avishai. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1991. pp. 40–63; reprinted in: C. Taylor, ''Philosophical arguments'', Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1995, pp. 79–99. * Zammito, John H. ''Kant, Herder, the birth of anthropology''. Chicago: Chicago University Press 2002. * Zammito, John H., Karl Menges and Ernest A. Menze. "Johann Gottfried Herder Revisited: The Revolution in Scholarship in the Last Quarter Century," ''Journal of the History of Ideas,'' Volume 71, Number 4, October 2010, pp. 661–684
in Project MUSE


External links

* * *
Herder bibliography and more

Essay on the Origin of Language
" 1772. Online in English translation.
Selected works from Project Gutenberg (in German)
*
The Jürgen Trabant Wilhelm von Humboldt Lectures
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