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

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521817417
ISBN-10: 0521817412
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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

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.
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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: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,262,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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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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Excellent!
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