What was the source of this great flowering? Much of the credit for it has tended to go to Jacobi and Mendelssohn, who in 1785 began a famous public dispute concerning the question whether or not Lessing had been a Spinozist, as Jacobi alleged Lessing had admitted to him shortly before his death in 1781. But Jacobi and Mendelssohn were both negatively disposed towards Spinoza. In On the Doctrine of Spinoza in Letters to Mr.
Herder has been sufﬁciently neglected in recent times, especially among philosophers, to need a few words of introduction. He lived 1744-1803; he was a favorite student of Kant's, and a student and friend of Hamann's; he became a mentor to the young Goethe, on whose development he exercised a profound inﬂuence; and he worked, among other things, as a philosopher, literary critic, Bible scholar, and translator. As I mentioned, Herder has been especially neglected by philosophers (with two notable (...) exceptions in the Anglophone world: Isaiah Berlin and Charles Taylor). This.. (shrink)
Der Titel meines Vortrags bezieht sich nicht auf heftige Auseinandersetzungen in der heutigen Hegelrezeption, sondern auf den gleichnamigen Abschnitt der Phänomenologie des Geistes von 1807: “Das geistige Tierreich und der Betrug oder die Sache selbst.” Dieser verhältnismäßig wenig beachtete und womöglich noch weniger verstandene Abschnitt ist meines Erachtens einer der wichtigsten im ganzen Buch. Ich möchte deshalb heute versuchen seine Bedeutung etwas aufzuklären.
This paper concerns a surprisingly sharp disagreement about the nature of ancient Pyrrhonism which first emerges clearly in Kant and Hegel, but which continues in contemporary interpretations. The paper begins by explaining the character of this disagreement, then attempts to adjudicate it in the light of the ancient texts.
Consideration of the German philosophy and political history of the past century might well give the impression, and often does give foreign observers the impression, that liberalism, including in particular commitment to the ideal of free thought and expression, is only skin-deep in Germany. Were not Heidegger's disgust at Gerede (which of course really meant the free speech of the Weimar Republic) and Gadamer's defense of "prejudice" and "tradition" more reflective of the true instincts of German philosophy than, say, the (...) Frankfurt School's heavily Anglophone-influenced championing of free thought and expression? Were not the Kaiser and Nazism more telling of Germany's real political nature than the liberalism of the Weimar Republic (a desperate, ephemeral experiment undertaken in reaction to Germany's disastrous defeat in World War I) or the liberalism of (West) Germany since 1945 (in effect forced on the country by the victorious Allies after World War II)? (shrink)
For the purpose of this article, "hermeneutics" means the theory of interpretation, i.e. the theory of achieving an understanding of texts, utterances, and so on (it does not mean a certain twentieth-century philosophical movement). Hermeneutics in this sense has a long history, reaching back at least as far as ancient Greece. However, new focus was brought to bear on it in the modern period, in the wake of the Reformation with its displacement of responsibility for interpreting the Bible from the (...) Church to individual Christians generally. This new focus on hermeneutics occurred especially in Germany.1.. (shrink)
Herder already very early in his career, in the 1760s, established two vitally important and epoch-making principles in the philosophy of language: that thought is essentially dependent on and bounded by language; and that meanings or concepts should be identified - not with such items as the referents involved, Platonic forms, or empiricist 'ideas' - but with word-usages. What did Herder do for an encore? His Treatise on the Origin of Language from 1772 might seem the natural place to look (...) for an answer to this question (since it is his best known work in the philosophy of language by far), but it is really the wrong place to look, because it temporarily regresses to a more conventional and less philosophically interesting position. However, Herder did succeed in making impressive progress in a broader array of works, namely by striving to identify prima facie problem cases confronting his two principles and to reconcile them with the latter. The main ones which he identified were God, animals, and non-linguistic art. In each of these cases, having initially proposed a reconciliation which did not work, he went on to develop a much more plausible one, indeed one which (at least in the two cases that really require one: animals and non-linguistic art) seems broadly correct. (shrink)
It has become very popular among philosophers to attempt to discredit, or at least set severe limits to, the thesis that there exist conceptual schemes radically different from ours. This fashion is misconceived. Philosophers have attempted to justify it in two main ways: by means of arguments which are a priorist relative to the relevant linguistic and textual evidence (and either independent of or based upon positive theories of meaning, understanding, and interpretation); and by means of arguments which are a (...) posteriorist relative to that evidence. The former approach is misconceived, not only in that its particular arguments fail, but also in principle. The latter approach, while in general the right sort of approach to adopt to the question, arrives at its conclusion only through faulty execution, through misinterpretation of the evidence. Though quite unjustified, philosophers' hostility to the thesis of radically different conceptual schemes is easily explained, namely, in terms of a number of psychologically powerful motives which it subserves. These motives cannot step in to provide the missing justification, however. Instead, they reveal such hostility in an even shadier light. (shrink)