- Series: Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy
- Paperback: 292 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1st edition (September 24, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521520673
- ISBN-13: 978-0521520676
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hamann: Writings on Philosophy and Language (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) 1st Edition
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Johann Georg Hamann is a major figure not only in German philosophy but also in literature and religious history. This 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, Rhode Island.
Top customer reviews
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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).
The second is the omission of Hamann's Socratic Memorabilia (only a tiny excerpt is included). Given that this is Hamann's most significant single text on his relationship to the Enlightenment and philosophy, that it provides one of most significant interpretations of Socrates of the period, one which a student should be able to compare with, say, Hegel's or Kierkegaard's or Nietzsche's, the omission of this text from a collection of Hamann's writings on "Philosophy and Language" is not simply bizarre but totally unjustified. Anyone teaching Hamann would likely assign the Socratic Memorabilia and anyone new to Hamann needs to read it; its omission thus vitiates the introductory purpose of the text.
Although this text is indispensable, then, it is flawed, even as an introductory collection.
Thus, supplementation is needed, and here is the sad part: there is no affordable book that contains even the Socratic Memorabilia (perhaps Cambridge will someday re-issue a new edition of Haynes' edition with a full translation). Thus, the student wishing to have a good introduction to Hamann, besides owning this book, needs access to a university library. Get James O'Flaherty's edition of the text, with commentary, or the translation, also with extensive introduction and commentary, in Gwen Griffith Dickson's "Hamann's Relational Metacriticsm". For further introductory material on Hamann, read Frederick Beiser's chapter dealing with Hamann in "The Fate of Reason," O'Flaherty's monograph, "Unity and Language," and at least the first essay in his book "The Quarrel of Reason with Itself." We also now have a thorough overview of Hamann in English, John R. Betz "After Enlighenment." This is an invaluable book. Its only drawback for the student is that its engagement with post-modernity, etc. is irrelevant to getting a basic handle on Hamann's context. Still, the scholarship is excellent and coverage is thorough. In addition to this text, then, O'Flaherty, Dickson, and Betz should be more than enough to get one started on understanding Hamann.