Linked bibliography for the SEP article "Johann Gottfried von Herder" by Michael Forster

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Primary Texts

There are two main German editions of Herder's works:

  • Johann Gottfried Herder Sämtliche Werke, B. Suphan et al. (eds.), Berlin, 1887-.
  • Johann Gottfried Herder Werke, U. Gaier et al. (eds.), Frankfurt am Main, 1985-.

The latter edition includes very helpful notes.


  • Adler, H., and Menze, E.A., On World History, Armonk, 1996.
    (Contains short excerpts on history from a variety of works, prominently including the Ideas.)
  • Barnard, F.M., J.G. Herder on Social and Political Culture, Cambridge, 1969.
    (Includes (partial) translations of Herder's 1769 Journal, On the Origin, This Too, the Dissertation on the Reciprocal Influence of Government and the Sciences, and the Ideas, plus a very good introduction.)
  • Burkhardt, F.H., God. Some Conversations, New York, 1940.
  • Churchill, T., Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man, London, 1800.
    (A translation of the Ideas.)
  • Forster, M.N., J.G. Herder: Philosophical Writings, Cambridge, 2002.
    (Contains full translations of How Philosophy, On the Origin, On the Cognition, and This Too, as well as other pieces.)
  • Gaiger, J., Sculpture: Some Observations on Shape and Form from Pygmalion's Creative Dream, Chicago, 2002.
  • Manuel, F.E., Reflections on the Philosophy of History of Mankind, Chicago, 1968.
    (Contains excerpts from Churchill's 1800 translation of the Ideas.)
  • Marsh, J., The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry, Burlington, Vt., 1833.
  • Menze, E.A., Menges, K., Palma, M., Johann Gottfried Herder: Selected Early Works, 1764-7, Pennsylvania, 1992.
    (Contains several early essays, including On Diligence in Several Learned Languages, and selections from the Fragments.) (Scholar)
  • Moore, G., Selected Writings on Aesthetics, Princeton, 2006.
    (Contains the first and fourth books of the Critical Forests, the essays Shakespeare and On the Influence of the Beautiful Sciences on the Higher Sciences, and several other pieces on aesthetics.)
  • Moran, J.H., and Gode, A., On the Origin of Language, Chicago, 1986.
    (Contains a partial translation of On the Origin.)
  • Nisbet, H.B., German Aesthetics and Literary Criticism: Winckelmann, Lessing, Hamann, Herder, Schiller, Goethe, Cambridge, 1985.
    (Contains two pieces of Herder's in aesthetics, including his important essay Shakespeare.)

Secondary literature in German

By far the most helpful single item remains:

  • Haym, R., Herder nach seinem Leben und seinen Werken, Berlin, 1880.
    (A classic, detailed intellectual biography.)

A helpful short overview:

  • Irmischer, H.D., Johann Gottfried Herder, Stuttgart, 2001.

Three useful collections of essays covering a broad range of topics:

  • Bollacher, M. (ed.), Johann Gottfried Herder: Geschichte und Kultur, Würzburg, 1994.
  • Otto, R., and Zammito, J. (eds.), Vom Selbstdenken: Aufklärung und Aufklärungskritik in Herders “Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit,” Heidelberg, 2001. (Scholar)
  • Sauder, G. (ed.), Johann Gottfried Herder 1744-1803, Hamburg, 1987.

H.D. Irmischer has written several important and influential articles on topics covered here, including:

  • Irmischer, H.D., “Grundzüge der Hermeneutik Herders,” in Bückeburger Gespräche über J.G. Herder 1971, Bückeburg, 1973. (Scholar)
  • Irmischer, H.D., “Grundfragen der Geschichtsphilosophie Herders bis 1774,” in Bückeburger Gespräche über J.G. Herder 1983, Bückeburg, 1984. (Scholar)

A helpful treatment of Herder's interest in world literature, and in particular his theory and practice of translation:

  • Kelletat, A.F., Herder und die Weltliteratur, Frankfurt am Main, 1984.

A helpful treatment of Herder's approach to the Old Testament:

  • Willi, T., Herders Beitrag zum Verstehen des Alten Testaments, Tübingen, 1971.

Secondary literature in English

General treatments:

  • Beiser, F.C., The Fate of Reason, Cambridge, Mass., 1987.
    (Ch. 5 covers several topics helpfully, including Herder's philosophies of language, mind, and religion.) (Scholar)
  • Berlin, I., Vico and Herder, New York, 1976.
    (Concise and excellent.)
  • Clark Jr., R.T., Herder: His Life and Thought, Berkeley, 1955.
    (Detailed and useful but unimaginative.)

Herder's general philosophical program and debts to the precritical Kant:

  • Zammito, J.H., Kant, Herder, and the Birth of Modern Anthropology, Chicago, 2001.
    (An excellent, thorough study.)

Philosophy of language, interpretation, and translation:


  • Forster, M.N., “Hegel and Some (Near) Contemporaries: Narrow or Broad Expressivism?” in W. Welsch and K. Vieweg (eds.), Das Interesse des Denkens: Hegel aus heutiger Sicht, Munich, 2003. (Scholar)
  • Norton, R.E., Herder's Aesthetics and the European Enlightenment, Ithaca, 1991.
    (Helpful both on aspects of Herder's aesthetic theory and on Herder's general relation to the Enlightenment.)

Philosophy of history:

  • Lovejoy, A.O., “Herder and the Enlightenment Philosophy of History,” in A.O. Lovejoy, Essays on the History of Ideas, Baltimore, 1948.
    (A helpful short treatment.) (Scholar)
  • Meinecke, F., Historism: The Rise of a New Historical Outlook, London, 1972.
    (Ch. 9 is very helpful.) (Scholar)

Political philosophy:

  • Barnard, F.M., Herder's Social and Political Thought: From Enlightenment to Nationalism, Oxford, 1965.
    (Chs. 3-5 deal helpfully with Herder's political thought.) (Scholar)
  • Beiser, F.C., Enlightenment, Revolution, and Romanticism, Cambridge, Mass., 1992.
    (Ch. 8 on Herder's political philosophy is excellent.) (Scholar)
  • Ergang, R., Herder and the Foundations of German Nationalism, New York, 1931.
    (Helpful both on Herder's political thought and on his general intellectual influence. Marred, however, by a false assimilation of Herder's nationalism to later German nationalism, and by an unduly warm assessment of such a position — for both of which flaws Barnard, Beiser, and Berlin are useful correctives.) (Scholar)
  • Forster, M.N., “The Liberal Temper in Classical German Philosophy. Freedom of Thought and Expression,” Internationales Jahrbuch des Deutschen Idealismus 2 (2004). (Scholar)

Other subjects:

  • Nisbet, H.B., Herder and the Philosophy and History of Science, Cambridge, Mass., 1970.
    (A helpful account of Herder's position on science. Zammito is also helpful on this subject.) (Scholar)

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