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Hamann: Writings on Philosophy and Language (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) [Hardcover]

Kenneth Haynes
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 24, 2007 0521817412 978-0521817417
Johann Georg Hamann (1730-1788) is a major figure not only in German philosophy but also in literature and religious history. In his own time he wrote penetrating criticisms of Herder, Kant, Mendelssohn, and other Enlightenment thinkers; after his death he was an important figure for Goethe, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and others. It was only in the twentieth century, however, that the full and radical extent of his 'linguistic' critique of philosophy was recognized. This 2007 volume presents a translation of a wide selection of his essays, including both famous and lesser-known works. Hamann's enigmatic prose-style was deliberately at odds with Enlightenment assumptions about language, and a full apparatus of annotation explains the numerous allusions in his essays. The volume is completed by a historical and philosophical introduction and suggestions for further reading.


Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Johann Georg Hamann is a major figure not only in German philosophy but also in literature and religious history. This 2007 volume presents a translation of a wide selection of his essays, including both famous and lesser-known works. The volume is completed by an introduction and suggestions for further reading.

About the Author

Kenneth Haynes is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Brown University.

Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy
  • Hardcover: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (September 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521817412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521817417
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,396,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Since the 18th century, Hamann has been little known and translated into English. His works have been scattred about and difficult to obtain. Historically, this absence might seem odd. Herder, who worked with both Kant and Hamann, chose Hamann as his mentor. Hamann influenced Goethe and is often credited with the "storm and stress" movement of what was to become romanticism. Two reasons may account for this disregard: Hamann writes in a poetic manner stuffed with allusions and tropes AND he wages war against the analytic orientation that Kant represents and is taken as right. This edition does a great job with the former with extensive notes to allusions and on translation. The second objection is up to the reader.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable but Flawed June 8, 2013
By Samuel
Format:Paperback
In the view of Kant, Goethe, Hegel, and Kierkegaard, Hamann was a genius of extraordinary insight and depth. In fact, Goethe called him the brightest light of his age. But Hamann remains in obscurity, especially in the Anglophone world, and therefore any reliable edition of his writings in English is to be welcomed.

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).
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