Language and Thought: German Approaches to Analytic Philosophy in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Review of Metaphysics 45 (1):115-117 (1991)
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Abstract

With this book Hermann Cloeren presents to the English reader a historical treatment of a largely unknown alternative tradition in German philosophy which, though only an undercurrent in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, becomes a "main current" in the twentieth century, that is, the sprachkritisch, or "language critical," current of thought. This tradition, which begins with thinkers like Hamann, Lichtenberg, and Herder in the eighteenth century and has representatives such as Runze and Mauthner at the end of the nineteenth, shadows the dominant tradition of Kantian transcendental philosophy and German Idealism. With this historical study Cloeren wishes to correct two common and different theses about the historical background of twentieth-century analytical philosophy. The one thesis suggests that the linguistic turn of twentieth-century analytical philosophy had no precedent in previous philosophy. The other thesis finds models in Kantian transcendental philosophy which, unlike Kant, makes language a central theme. For Cloeren, there is a precedent and it is not Kant but rather the tradition that is discussed here.

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