History of European Ideas 44 (5):528-542 (2018)

Michael J. Olson
Marquette University
ABSTRACTThe early history of anthropology in eighteenth-century Germany wove together contributions from medicine, metaphysics, and a host of other disciplines in an attempt to develop a holistic ‘science of man.’ This paper examines a literary text written by prominent figure in that movement, Johann Gottlob Krüger’s Dreams. The collection of parables staged as dreams in this book presents specifically literary cases against the sufficiency of either philosophy or physiology for the study of human life as a whole. Through close readings of a number of these dreams and related texts, this paper shows how Krüger’s Dreams advocates an approach to anthropology that recognizes the importance of literature for an interdisciplinary study of human life. More than simply recognising literary writing as another means of studying human life, the vision of a new anthropology implied in this book draws on literary devices to counter the overconfidence and partisanship of existing philosophical and medical theories of human nature.
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DOI 10.1080/01916599.2018.1466186
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