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Hamann: Writings on Philosophy and Language (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)
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This edition by Cambridge is without doubt the most simultaneously affordable, reliable, and extensive collection of Hamann's writings in English. It is thus indispensable for anyone who desires to read Hamann in English. Its indispensability is a function of its status on the market - it's the only such collection of texts. Kenneth Haynes should be commended for editing the text, but he was a strange choice for Cambridge, as Haynes is a specialist neither in Hamann nor even in German philosophy or literature (cf. his CV). This is only one of many drawbacks to this valuable text.
For many figures, just having the texts available is enough to justify an edition like this, but Hamann is exceptional: his texts are so obscure in style, content, and context that they require substantial introduction and commentary if one wishes to understand them. The only explanation of each text is the (on average) single paragraph each selection receives in Haynes' introduction. This is hardly adequate, especially for a series designed for students' use. This is the first serious flaw of the text itself: inadequate introductory and commentary material. Students will need more than this text to begin understanding Hamann, even on an introductory level (five pages of introduction to each text would have extended the book by only 60 pages, still putting it just under 300 pages of text, which seems entirely reasonable).Read more ›