Johann Gottfried Herder

Johann Gottfried (after 1802, von) Herder (/ˈhɜːrdər/; German: [ˈjoːhan ˈɡɔtfʁiːt ˈhɛɐ̯dɐ];[22][23][24] 25 August 1744 – 18 December 1803) was a German philosopher, theologian, poet, and literary critic. He is associated with the Enlightenment, Sturm und Drang, and Weimar Classicism. Like Lessing, Goethe and Schleiermacher,[25][26][27] in many respects, Herder was a Spinozist.[28][29][30]

Johann Gottfried Herder
Johann Gottfried Herder 2
Herder by Anton Graff, 1785
Born25 August 1744
Died18 December 1803 (aged 59)
Alma materUniversity of Königsberg
Era18th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Romantic nationalism[2][3]
Anticolonialist cosmopolitanism[4][5]
Sturm und Drang
Weimar Classicism
Romantic hermeneutics[7]
Classical liberalism[8]
Main interests
Philology, philosophy of language, cultural anthropology, philosophy of mind, aesthetics, philosophy of history, political philosophy, philosophy of religion
Notable ideas
Thought is essentially dependent on language[9]
Teleological conception of history[10][11]
Cultural relativism[12]
Empirical approach to the investigation of languages and cultures[13]


Born in Mohrungen (now Morąg, Poland) in Kingdom of Prussia (in former Ducal Prussia), Herder grew up in a poor household, educating himself from his father's Bible and songbook. In 1762, as a youth of 17, he enrolled at the University of Königsberg, about 60 miles (100 km) north of Mohrungen, where he became a student of Immanuel Kant. At the same time, Herder became an intellectual protégé of Johann Georg Hamann, a Königsberg philosopher who disputed the claims of pure secular reason.

Hamann's influence led Herder to confess to his wife later in life that "I have too little reason and too much idiosyncrasy",[31] yet Herder can justly claim to have founded a new school of German political thought. Although himself an unsociable person, Herder influenced his contemporaries greatly. One friend wrote to him in 1785, hailing his works as "inspired by God." A varied field of theorists were later to find inspiration in Herder's tantalizingly incomplete ideas.

In 1764, now a clergyman, Herder went to Riga to teach. It was during this period that he produced his first major works, which were literary criticism. In 1769 Herder traveled by ship to the French port of Nantes and continued on to Paris. This resulted in both an account of his travels as well as a shift of his own self-conception as an author. By 1770 Herder went to Strasbourg, where he met the young Goethe. This event proved to be a key juncture in the history of German literature, as Goethe was inspired by Herder's literary criticism to develop his own style. This can be seen as the beginning of the "Sturm und Drang" movement. In 1771 Herder took a position as head pastor and court preacher at Bückeburg under Count Wilhelm von Schaumburg-Lippe.

By the mid-1770s, Goethe was a well-known author, and used his influence at the court of Weimar to secure Herder a position as General Superintendent. Herder moved there in 1776, where his outlook shifted again towards classicism.

Towards the end of his career, Herder endorsed the French Revolution, which earned him the enmity of many of his colleagues. At the same time, he and Goethe experienced a personal split. Another reason for his isolation in later years was due to his unpopular attacks on Kantian philosophy.[32]

In 1802 Herder was ennobled by the Elector-Prince of Bavaria, which added the prefix "von" to his last name. He died in Weimar in 1803 at age 59.

Works and ideas

In 1772 Herder published Treatise on the Origin of Language and went further in this promotion of language than his earlier injunction to "spew out the ugly slime of the Seine. Speak German, O You German". Herder now had established the foundations of comparative philology within the new currents of political outlook.

Throughout this period, he continued to elaborate his own unique theory of aesthetics in works such as the above, while Goethe produced works like The Sorrows of Young Werther – the Sturm und Drang movement was born.

Herder wrote an important essay on Shakespeare and Auszug aus einem Briefwechsel über Ossian und die Lieder alter Völker (Extract from a correspondence about Ossian and the Songs of Ancient Peoples) published in 1773 in a manifesto along with contributions by Goethe and Justus Möser. Herder wrote that "A poet is the creator of the nation around him, he gives them a world to see and has their souls in his hand to lead them to that world." To him such poetry had its greatest purity and power in nations before they became civilised, as shown in the Old Testament, the Edda, and Homer, and he tried to find such virtues in ancient German folk songs and Norse poetry and mythology.

Weimar Herder
The Johann Gottfried Herder statue in Weimar in front of the church St. Peter und Paul

After becoming General Superintendent in 1776, Herder's philosophy shifted again towards classicism, and he produced works such as his unfinished Outline of a Philosophical History of Humanity which largely originated the school of historical thought. Herder's philosophy was of a deeply subjective turn, stressing influence by physical and historical circumstance upon human development, stressing that "one must go into the age, into the region, into the whole history, and feel one's way into everything". The historian should be the "regenerated contemporary" of the past, and history a science as "instrument of the most genuine patriotic spirit".

Herder gave Germans new pride in their origins, modifying that dominance of regard allotted to Greek art (Greek revival) extolled among others by Johann Joachim Winckelmann and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. He remarked that he would have wished to be born in the Middle Ages and mused whether "the times of the Swabian emperors" did not "deserve to be set forth in their true light in accordance with the German mode of thought?". Herder equated the German with the Gothic and favoured Dürer and everything Gothic. As with the sphere of art, equally he proclaimed a national message within the sphere of language. He topped the line of German authors emanating from Martin Opitz, who had written his Aristarchus, sive de contemptu linguae Teutonicae in Latin in 1617, urging Germans to glory in their hitherto despised language. Herder's extensive collections of folk-poetry began a great craze in Germany for that neglected topic.

Herder was one of the first to argue that language contributes to shaping the frameworks and the patterns with which each linguistic community thinks and feels. For Herder, language is 'the organ of thought'. This has often been misinterpreted, however. Neither Herder nor the great philosopher of language, Wilhelm von Humboldt, argue that language determines thought. Language is both the means and the expression of man's creative capacity to think together with others. And in this sense, when Humboldt argues that all thinking is thinking in language, he is perpetuating the Herder tradition. But for both thinkers, culture, language, thinking, feeling, and above all the literature of individuals and the people's folk traditions are expressions of free-spirited groups and individuals expressing themselves in space and time. Two centuries later, these ideas continue to stimulate thinkers, linguists and anthropologists, and they have often been considered central to the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, and the American linguistic anthropology tradition inspired by Boas, and more recently, Dell Hymes. Herder's focus upon language and cultural traditions as the ties that create a "nation"[33] extended to include folklore, dance, music and art, and inspired Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in their collection of German folk tales. Arguably, the greatest inheritor of Herder's linguistic philosophy was Wilhelm von Humboldt. Humboldt's great contribution lay in developing Herder's idea that language is "the organ of thought" into his own belief that languages were specific worldviews (Weltansichten), as Jürgen Trabant argues in the Wilhelm von Humboldt lectures on the Rouen Ethnolinguistics Project website.

Herder attached exceptional importance to the concept of nationality and of patriotism – "he that has lost his patriotic spirit has lost himself and the whole worlds about himself", whilst teaching that "in a certain sense every human perfection is national". Herder carried folk theory to an extreme by maintaining that "there is only one class in the state, the Volk, (not the rabble), and the king belongs to this class as well as the peasant". Explanation that the Volk was not the rabble was a novel conception in this era, and with Herder can be seen the emergence of "the people" as the basis for the emergence of a classless but hierarchical national body.

The nation, however, was individual and separate, distinguished, to Herder, by climate, education, foreign intercourse, tradition and heredity. Providence he praised for having "wonderfully separated nationalities not only by woods and mountains, seas and deserts, rivers and climates, but more particularly by languages, inclinations and characters". Herder praised the tribal outlook writing that "the savage who loves himself, his wife and child with quiet joy and glows with limited activity of his tribe as for his own life is in my opinion a more real being than that cultivated shadow who is enraptured with the shadow of the whole species", isolated since "each nationality contains its centre of happiness within itself, as a bullet the centre of gravity". With no need for comparison since "every nation bears in itself the standard of its perfection, totally independent of all comparison with that of others" for "do not nationalities differ in everything, in poetry, in appearance, in tastes, in usages, customs and languages? Must not religion which partakes of these also differ among the nationalities?"

Following a trip to Ukraine, Herder wrote a prediction in his diary (Journal meiner Reise im Jahre 1769) that Slavic nations would one day be the real power in Europe, as the western Europeans would reject Christianity and rot away, while the eastern European nations would stick to their religion and their idealism, and would this way become the power in Europe. More specifically, he praised Ukraine's "beautiful skies, blithe temperament, musical talent, bountiful soil, etc. [...] someday will awaken there a cultured nation whose influence will spread [...] throughout the world." One of his related predictions was that the Hungarian nation would disappear and become assimilated by surrounding Slavic peoples; this prophecy caused considerable uproar in Hungary and is widely cited to this day.[34]

Germany and the Enlightenment

This question was further developed by Herder's lament that Martin Luther did not establish a national church, and his doubt whether Germany did not buy Christianity at too high a price, that of true nationality. Herder's patriotism bordered at times upon national pantheism, demanding of territorial unity as "He is deserving of glory and gratitude who seeks to promote the unity of the territories of Germany through writings, manufacture, and institutions" and sounding an even deeper call:

"But now! Again I cry, my German brethren! But now! The remains of all genuine folk-thought is rolling into the abyss of oblivion with a last and accelerated impetus. For the last century we have been ashamed of everything that concerns the fatherland."
Johann Gottfried Herder

In his Ideas upon Philosophy and the History of Mankind he wrote: "Compare England with Germany: the English are Germans, and even in the latest times the Germans have led the way for the English in the greatest things."

Herder, who hated absolutism and Prussian nationalism, but who was imbued with the spirit of the whole German Volk, yet as a historical theorist turned away from the ideas of the eighteenth century. Seeking to reconcile his thought with this earlier age, Herder sought to harmonize his conception of sentiment with reasoning, whereby all knowledge is implicit in the soul; the most elementary stage is the sensuous and intuitive perception which by development can become self-conscious and rational. To Herder, this development is the harmonizing of primitive and derivative truth, of experience and intelligence, feeling and reasoning.

Herder is the first in a long line of Germans preoccupied with this harmony. This search is itself the key to the understanding of many German theories of the time; however Herder understood and feared the extremes to which his folk-theory could tend, and so issued specific warnings. He argued that Jews in Germany should enjoy the full rights and obligations of Germans, and that the non-Jews of the world owed a debt to Jews for centuries of abuse, and that this debt could be discharged only by actively assisting those Jews who wished to do so to regain political sovereignty in their ancient homeland of Israel.[35] Herder refused to adhere to a rigid racial theory, writing that "notwithstanding the varieties of the human form, there is but one and the same species of man throughout the whole earth".

He also announced that "national glory is a deceiving seducer. When it reaches a certain height, it clasps the head with an iron band. The enclosed sees nothing in the mist but his own picture; he is susceptible to no foreign impressions."

The passage of time was to demonstrate that while many Germans were to find influence in Herder's convictions and influence, fewer were to note his qualifying stipulations.

Herder had emphasised that his conception of the nation encouraged democracy and the free self-expression of a people's identity. He proclaimed support for the French Revolution, a position which did not endear him to royalty. He also differed with Kant's philosophy for not placing reasoning within the context of language. Herder did not think that reason itself could be criticized, as it did not exist except as the process of reasoning. This process was dependent on language.[36] He also turned away from the Sturm und Drang movement to go back to the poems of Shakespeare and Homer.

To promote his concept of the Volk, he published letters and collected folk songs. These latter were published in 1773 as Voices of the Peoples in Their Songs (Stimmen der Völker in ihren Liedern). The poets Achim von Arnim and Clemens von Brentano later used Stimmen der Völker as samples for The Boy's Magic Horn (Des Knaben Wunderhorn).

Herder also fostered the ideal of a person's individuality. Although he had from an early period championed the individuality of cultures – for example, in his This Too a Philosophy of History for the Formation of Humanity (1774), he also championed the individuality of persons within a culture; for example, in his On Thomas Abbt's Writings (1768) and On the Cognition and Sensation of the Human Soul (1778).

In On Thomas Abbt's Writings, Herder stated that "a human soul is an individual in the realm of minds: it senses in accordance with an individual formation, and thinks in accordance with the strength of its mental organs. ... My long allegory has succeeded if it achieves the representation of the mind of a human being as an individual phenomenon, as a rarity which deserves to occupy our eyes."[37]


Herder has been described as a proto-evolutionary thinker by some science historians, although this has been disputed by others.[38][39][40] Concerning the history of life on earth, Herder proposed naturalistic and metaphysical (religious) ideas that are difficult to distinguish and interpret.[39] He was known for proposing a great chain of being.[40]

In his book From the Greeks to Darwin, Henry Fairfield Osborn wrote that "in a general way he upholds the doctrine of the transformation of the lower and higher forms of life, of a continuous transformation from lower to higher types, and of the law of Perfectibility."[41] However, biographer Wulf Köpke disagreed, noting that "biological evolution from animals to the human species was outside of his thinking, which was still influenced by the idea of divine creation."[42]


  • Song to Cyrus, the Grandson of Astyages (1762)
  • Essay on Being, (1763–64)[43]
  • On Diligence in Several Learned Languages (1764)
  • Treatise on the Ode (1764)[44]
  • How Philosophy can become more Universal and Useful for the Benefit of the People (1765)[45]
  • Fragments on Recent German Literature (1767–68)[46]
  • On Thomas Abbt's Writings (1768)
  • Critical Forests, or Reflections on the Science and Art of the Beautiful (1769-)
  • Gott – einige Gespräche über Spinoza's System nebst Shaftesbury's Naturhymnus (Gotha: Karl Wilhelm Ettinger, 1787)
  • Journal of my Voyage in the Year 1769 (first published 1846)
  • Treatise on the Origin of Language (1772)[47]
  • Selection from correspondence on Ossian and the songs of ancient peoples (1773) See also: James Macpherson (1736–1796).
  • Of German Character and Art (with Goethe, manifesto of the Sturm und Drang) (1773)
  • This Too a Philosophy of History for the Formation of Humanity (1774)[45]
  • Oldest Document of the Human Race (1774–76)
  • "Essay on Ulrich von Hutten" ["Nachricht von Ulrich von Hutten"] (1776)[48]
  • On the Resemblance of Medieval English and German Poetry (1777)
  • Sculpture: Some Observations on Shape and Form from Pygmalion's Creative Dream (1778)
  • On the Cognition and Sensation of the Human Soul (1778)
  • On the Effect of Poetic Art on the Ethics of Peoples in Ancient and Modern Times (1778)
  • Folk Songs (1778–79; second ed. of 1807 titled The Voices of Peoples in Songs)
  • On the Influence of the Government on the Sciences and the Sciences on the Government (Dissertation on the Reciprocal Influence of Government and the Sciences) (1780)
  • Letters Concerning the Study of Theology (1780–81)
  • On the Influence of the Beautiful in the Higher Sciences (1781)
  • On the Spirit of Hebrew Poetry. An Instruction for Lovers of the Same and the Oldest History of the Human Spirit (1782–83)
  • God. Some Conversations (1787)
  • Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind (1784–91)
  • Scattered Leaves (1785–97)
  • Letters for the Advancement of Humanity (1791–97 or 1793–97? (various drafts))
  • Christian Writings (5 vols.) (1794–98)
  • Terpsichore (1795–96) A translation and commentary of the Latin poet Jakob Balde.
  • On the Son of God and Saviour of the World, according to the Gospel of John (1797)
  • Persepolisian Letters (1798). Fragments on Persian architecture, history and religion.
  • Luther's Catechism, with a catechetical instruction for the use of schools (1798)
  • Understanding and Experience. A Metacritique of the Critique of Pure Reason. Part I. (Part II, Reason and Language.) (1799)
  • Calligone (1800)
  • Adrastea: Events and Characters of the 18th Century (6 vols.) (1801–03)[49][50]
  • The Cid (1805; a free translation of the Spanish epic Cantar de Mio Cid)

Works in English

  • Herder's Essay on Being. A Translation and Critical Approaches. Edited and translated by John K. Noyes. Rochester: Camden House 2018. Herder's early essay on metaphysics, translated with a series of critical commentaries.
  • Song Loves the Masses: Herder on Music and Nationalism. Edited and translated by Philip Vilas Bohlman (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017). Collected writings on music, from Volkslieder to sacred song.
  • Selected Writings on Aesthetics. Edited and translated by Gregory Moore. Princeton U.P. 2006. pp. x + 455. ISBN 978-0691115955. Edition makes many of Herder's writings on aesthetics available in English for the first time.
  • Another Philosophy of History and Selected Political Writings, eds. Ioannis D. Evrigenis and Daniel Pellerin (Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2004). A translation of Auch eine Philosophie and other works.
  • Philosophical Writings, ed. Michael N. Forster (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002). The most important philosophical works of the early Herder available in English, including an unabridged version of the Treatise on the Origin of Language and This Too a Philosophy of History for the Formation of Mankind.
  • Sculpture: Some Observations on Shape and Form from Pygmalion's Creative Dream, ed. Jason Gaiger (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002). Herder's Plastik.
  • Selected Early Works, eds. Ernest A. Menze and Karl Menges (University Park: The Pennsylvania State Univ. Press, 1992). Partial translation of the important text Über die neuere deutsche Litteratur.
  • On World History, eds. Hans Adler and Ernest A. Menze (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1997). Short excerpts on history from various texts.
  • J. G. Herder on Social & Political Culture (Cambridge Studies in the History and Theory of Politics), ed. F. M. Barnard (Cambridge University Press, 2010 (originally published in 1969)) ISBN 978-0-521-13381-4 Selected texts: 1. Journal of my voyage in the year 1769; 2. Essay on the origin of language; 3. Yet another philosophy of history; 4. Dissertation on the reciprocal influence of government and the sciences; 5. Ideas for a philosophy of the history of mankind.
  • Herder: Philosophical Writings, ed. Desmond M. Clarke and Michael N. Forster (Cambridge University Press, 2007), ISBN 978-0-521-79088-8. Contents: Part I. General Philosophical Program: 1. How philosophy can become more universal and useful for the benefit of the people (1765); Part II. Philosophy of Language: 2. Fragments on recent German literature (1767–68); 3. Treatise on the origin of language (1772); Part III. Philosophy of Mind: 4. On Thomas Abbt's writings (1768); 5. On cognition and sensation, the two main forces of the human soul; 6. On the cognition and sensation, the two main forces of the human soul (1775); Part IV. Philosophy of History: 7. On the change of taste (1766); 8. Older critical forestlet (1767/8); 9. This too a philosophy of history for the formation of humanity (1774); Part V. Political Philosophy: 10. Letters concerning the progress of humanity (1792); 11. Letters for the advancement of humanity (1793–97).
  • Herder on Nationality, Humanity, and History, F. M. Barnard. (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003.) ISBN 978-0-7735-2519-1.
  • Herder's Social and Political Thought: From Enlightenment to Nationalism, F. M. Barnard, Oxford, Publisher: Clarendon Press, 1967. ASIN B0007JTDEI.

See also


  1. ^ Isaiah Berlin, Three Critics of the Enlightenment: Vico, Hamann, Herder, London and Princeton, 2000.
  2. ^ Kerrigan, William Thomas (1997), "Young America": Romantic Nationalism in Literature and Politics, 1843–1861, University of Michigan, 1997, p. 150.
  3. ^ Royal J. Schmidt, "Cultural Nationalism in Herder," Journal of the History of Ideas 17(3) (June 1956), pp. 407–417.
  4. ^ Gregory Claeys (ed.), Encyclopedia of Modern Political Thought, Routledge, 2004, "Herder, Johann Gottfried": "Herder is an anticolonialist cosmopolitan precisely because he is a nationalist".
  5. ^ Forster 2010, p. 43.
  6. ^ Frederick C. Beiser, The German Historicist Tradition, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 98.
  7. ^ Christopher John Murray (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, 1760–1850, Routledge, 2013, p. 491: "Herder expressed a view fundamental to Romantic hermeneutics..."; Forster 2010, p. 9.
  8. ^ Forster 2010, p. 42.
  9. ^ Forster 2010, pp. 16 and 50 n. 6: "This thesis is already prominent in On Diligence in Several Learned Languages (1764)".
  10. ^ This thesis is prominent in This Too a Philosophy of History for the Formation of Humanity (1774) and Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind (1784–91).
  11. ^ Forster 2010, p. 36.
  12. ^ Forster 2010, p. 41.
  13. ^ Forster 2010, p. 25.
  14. ^ Fernando Vidal, The Sciences of the Soul: The Early Modern Origins of Psychology, University of Chicago Press, 2011, p. 193 n. 31.
  15. ^ H. B. Nisbet, German Aesthetic and Literary Criticism: Winckelmann, Lessing, Hamann, Herder, Schiller and Goethe, CUP Archive, 1985, p. 15.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h Forster 2010, p. 9.
  17. ^ Eugenio Coșeriu, "Zu Hegels Semantik," Kwartalnik neofilologiczny, 24 (1977), p. 185 n. 8.
  18. ^ Jürgen Georg Backhaus (ed.), The University According to Humboldt: History, Policy, and Future Possibilities, Springer, 2015, p. 58.
  19. ^ Douglas A. Kibbee (ed.), History of Linguistics 2005: Selected papers from the Tenth International Conference on the History of the Language Sciences (ICHOLS X), 15 September 2005, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, John Benjamins Publishing, 2007, p. 290.
  20. ^ Michael Forster (27 September 2007). "Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Johann Gottfried von Herder". Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  21. ^ McNab, John (1972). Towards a Theology of Social Concern: A Comparative Study of the Elements for Social Concern in the Writings of Frederick D. Maurice and Walter Rauschenbusch (PhD thesis). Montreal: McGill University. p. 201. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  22. ^ "Duden | Johann | Rechtschreibung, Bedeutung, Definition". Duden (in German). Retrieved 20 October 2018. Johann
  23. ^ "Duden | Gottfried | Rechtschreibung, Bedeutung, Definition". Duden (in German). Retrieved 20 October 2018. Gọttfried
  24. ^ "Duden | Herder | Rechtschreibung, Bedeutung, Definition". Duden (in German). Retrieved 20 October 2018. Hẹrder
  25. ^ Schmidt, Paul Wilhelm: Spinoza und Schleiermacher. Die Geschichte ihrer Systeme und ihre gegenseitiges Verhältniß. Ein dogmengeschichtlicher Versuch. (Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1868) [in German]
  26. ^ Camerer, Theodor: Spinoza und Schleiermacher: Die kritische Lösung des von Spinoza hinterlassenen Problems. (Stuttgart/Berlin: J.G. Cotta, 1903) [in German]
  27. ^ Lamm, Julia A.: The Living God: Schleiermacher's Theological Appropriation of Spinoza. (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996)
  28. ^ Herder, Johann Gottfried: Gott – einige Gespräche über Spinoza's System nebst Shaftesbury's Naturhymnus. (Gotha: Karl Wilhelm Ettinger, 1787)
  29. ^ Melamed, S. M.: Spinoza and Buddha: Visions of a Dead God. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1933). S. M. Melamed (1933): "...Of the Weimarian trio, Herder theologian, poet, historian, critic, philosopher, and metrician was the first to apply Spinozism to historiography and to literary history. He was also the only one to recognize in Spinoza the renovator of a form of ancient theism."
  30. ^ Lindner, Herbert: Das Problem des Spinozismus im Schaffen Goethes und Herders. (Weimar: Arion, 1960)
  31. ^ Columbia studies in the social sciences, Issue 341, 1966, p. 74.
  32. ^ Copleston, Frederick Charles. The Enlightenment: Voltaire to Kant. 2003. p. 146.
  33. ^ Votruba, Martin. "Herder on Language" (PDF). Slovak Studies Program. University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  34. ^ "". Archived from the original on 20 April 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2008.
  35. ^ Barnard, F. M., "The Hebrews and Herder's Political Creed," Modern Language Review," vol. 54, no. 4, October 1959, pp. 533–546.
  36. ^ Copleston, Frederick Charles. The Enlightenment: Voltaire to Kant, 2003, p. 145.
  37. ^ Herder: Philosophical Writings, ed. M. N. Forster. Cambridge: 2002, p. 167
  38. ^ Headstrom, Birger R. (1929). Herder and the Theory of Evolution. The Open Court 10 (2): 596-601.
  39. ^ a b Nisbet, H. B. (1970). Herder and the Philosophy and History of Science. Modern Humanities Research Association. pp. 210-212. ISBN 978-0900547065
  40. ^ a b Zimmerli, W. Ch. Evolution or Development? Questions Concerning the Systematic and Historical Position of Herder. In Kurt Mueller-Vollmer. (1990). Herder Today: Contributions from the International Herder Conference: Nov. 5-8, 1987 Stanford, California. pp. 1-16. ISBN 0-89925-495-0
  41. ^ Osborn, Henry Fairfield. (1908). From the Greeks to Darwin: An Outline of the Development of the Evolution Idea. New York: Macmillan. p. 103
  42. ^ Köpke, Wulf. (1987). Johann Gottfried Herder. Twayne Publishers. p. 58. ISBN 978-0805766349
  43. ^ Mueller-Vollmer, Kurt (30 January 1990). "Herder Today: Contributions from the International Herder Conference, Nov. 5-8, 1987, Stanford, California". Walter de Gruyter – via Google Books.
  44. ^ Menze, Ernest A.; Menges, Karl (1 November 2010). "Johann Gottfried Herder: Selected Early Works, 1764-1767: Addresses, Essays, and Drafts; Fragments on Recent German Literature". Penn State Press – via Google Books.
  45. ^ a b Forster, Michael N.; Herder, Johann Gottfried von (30 September 2002). "Herder: Philosophical Writings". Cambridge Core.
  46. ^ Herder, Johann Gottfried (30 January 1985). "Über die neuere deutsche Literatur: Fragmente". Aufbau-Verlag – via Google Books.
  47. ^ "Treatise on the Origin of Language by Johann Gottfried Herder 1772".
  48. ^ "Universitätsbibliothek Bielefeld - digitale Medien".
  49. ^ "Adrastea". -: Adrastea, -: - -.
  50. ^ Clark, Robert Thomas (30 January 1955). "Herder: His Life and Thought". University of California Press – via Google Books.


  • Michael N. Forster, After Herder: Philosophy of Language in the German Tradition, Oxford University Press, 2010.

Further reading

  • Adler, Hans. "Johann Gottfried Herder's Concept of Humanity," Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 23 (1994): 55–74
  • Adler, Hans and Wolf Koepke eds., A Companion to the Works of Johann Gottfried Herder. Rochester: Camden House 2009.
  • Azurmendi, J. 2008. Volksgeist. Herri gogoa, Donostia, Elkar, ISBN 978-84-9783-404-9.
  • Barnard, Frederick Mechner (1965). Herder's Social and Political Thought. Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-827151-4.
  • Berman, Antoine. L'épreuve de l'étranger. Culture et traduction dans l'Allemagne romantique: Herder, Goethe, Schlegel, Novalis, Humboldt, Schleiermacher, Hölderlin., Paris, Gallimard, Essais, 1984. ISBN 978-2-07-070076-9
  • Berlin, Isaiah, Vico and Herder. Two Studies in the History of Ideas, London, 1976.
  • Berlin, Isaiah Three Critics of the Enlightenment: Vico, Hamann, Herder, London and Princeton, 2000, ISBN 0-691-05726-5
  • Herder today. Contributions from the International Herder Conference, 5–8 November 1987, Stanford, California. Edited by Mueller-Vollmer Kurt. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1990.
    • Baum, Manfred, Herder's essay on Being. In Herder Today: Contributions from the International Herder Conference, 5–8 November 1987, Stanford, California. Edited by Mueller-Vollmer Kurt. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1990. pp. 126–137.
    • Simon Josef, Herder and the problematization of metaphysics. In Herder Today: Contributions from the International Herder Conference, 5–8 November 1987, Stanford, California. Edited by Mueller-Vollmer Kurt. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1990. pp. 108–125.
  • DeSouza, Nigel and Anik Waldow eds., Herder. Philosophy and Anthropology. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2017.
  • Iggers, Georg, The German Conception of History: The National Tradition of Historical Thought from Herder to the Present (2nd ed.; Wesleyan University Press, 1983).
  • Noyes, John K., Herder. Aesthetics against Imperialism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press 2015.
  • Noyes, John K. ed., Herder's Essay on Being. A Translation and Critical Approaches. Rochester: Camden House 2018.
  • Sikka, Sonia, Herder on Humanity and Cultural Difference. Enlightened Relativism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2011.
  • Taylor, Charles, The importance of Herder. In Isaiah Berlin: a celebration edited by Margalit Edna and Margalit Avishai. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1991. pp. 40–63; reprinted in: C. Taylor, Philosophical arguments, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1995, pp. 79–99.
  • Zammito, John H. Kant, Herder, the birth of anthropology. Chicago: Chicago University Press 2002.
  • Zammito, John H., Karl Menges and Ernest A. Menze. "Johann Gottfried Herder Revisited: The Revolution in Scholarship in the Last Quarter Century," Journal of the History of Ideas, Volume 71, Number 4, October 2010, pp. 661–684, in Project MUSE

External links

1803 in Germany

Events in the year 1803 in Germany.

Absolute music

Absolute music (sometimes abstract music) is music that is not explicitly "about" anything; in contrast to program music, it is non-representational. The idea of absolute music developed at the end of the 18th century in the writings of authors of early German Romanticism, such as Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder, Ludwig Tieck and E. T. A. Hoffmann but the term was not coined until 1846 where it was first used by Richard Wagner in a programme to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.The aesthetic ideas underlying the absolute music derive from debates over the relative value of what were known in the early years of aesthetic theory as the fine arts. Kant, in his Critique of Aesthetic Judgment, dismissed music as "more enjoyment than culture" because of its lack of conceptual content, thus taking as a negative the very feature of music that others celebrated. Johann Gottfried Herder, in contrast, regarded music as the highest of the arts because of its spirituality, which Herder linked to the invisibility of sound. The ensuing arguments among musicians, composers, music historians and critics have, in effect, never stopped.

Ballades, Op. 10 (Brahms)

The Ballades, Op. 10, are lyrical piano pieces written by Johannes Brahms during his youth. They were dated 1854 and were dedicated to his friend Julius Otto Grimm. Their composition coincided with the beginning of the composer's lifelong affection for Clara Schumann, the wife of Robert Schumann, who was helping Brahms launch his career. Frédéric Chopin had written the last of his famous ballades only 12 years earlier, but Brahms approached the genre differently from Chopin, choosing to take its origin in narrative poetry more literally.Brahms's ballades are arranged in two pairs of two, the members of each pair being in parallel keys. The first ballade was inspired by a Scottish poem "Edward" found in a collection Stimmen der Völker in ihren Liedern compiled by Johann Gottfried Herder. It is also one of the best examples of Brahms's bardic or Ossianic style; its open fifths, octaves, and simple triadic harmonies are supposed to evoke the sense of a mythological past.

D minor. Andante

D major. Andante

B minor. Intermezzo. Allegro

B major. Andante con motoThe tonal center of each ballade conveys an interconnectedness between the four pieces: the first three each include the key signature of the ballade that follows it somewhere as a tonal center, and the fourth ends in the key signature of D major/B minor despite cadencing in B major.

Brahms returned to the wordless ballade form in writing the third of the Six Pieces for Piano, Op. 118. His Op. 75 vocal duets titled "Ballads and Romances" include a setting of the poem "Edward"—the same that inspired Op. 10, No. 1.

A number of famous pianists have played some or all of the Ballades, including Grigory Sokolov, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Artur Rubinstein, Emil Gilels, Sviatoslav Richter, Glenn Gould, Wilhelm Kempff, Idil Biret, Julius Katchen, Krystian Zimerman and Claudio Arrau.

Bernhard Ludwig Suphan

Bernhard Ludwig Suphan (18 January 1845, in Nordhausen – 9 February 1911, in Weimar) was a German philologist, known for his historical-critical edition of the complete works of Johann Gottfried Herder (33 volumes).He studied classical and German philology at the universities of Halle and Berlin, and from 1868 worked as a gymnasium teacher in Berlin. In 1887 he was appointed director of the Goethe Archives in Weimar (from 1889 onward, known as the Goethe-Schiller Archives).

Bow-wow theory

A bow-wow theory is any of the theories by various scholars, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Johann Gottfried Herder, on the origins of human language.Bow-wow theories suggest that the first human languages developed as onomatopoeia, imitations of natural sounds. The name "bow-wow theory" was coined by Max Müller, a philologist who was critical of the notion. The bow-wow theory is largely discredited as an account of the origin of language, though some contemporary theories suggest that general imitative abilities may have played an important role in the evolution of language.


Bückeburg is a town in Lower Saxony, Germany, on the border with North Rhine Westphalia. It is located in the district of Schaumburg close to the northern slopes of the Weserbergland ridge. Population: 21,030.

Die Bürgschaft (opera)

Die Bürgschaft (The Pledge) is an opera in three acts by Kurt Weill. Caspar Neher wrote the German libretto after the parable Der afrikanische Rechtspruch (The African Verdict) by Johann Gottfried Herder. Composed from August to October 1931, it was premiered on 10 March 1932 at the Städtische Oper in Berlin, Germany.


"Erlking" (German: Erlkönig, lit. 'alder-king') is a name used in German Romanticism for the figure of a spirit or "king of the fairies". It is usually assumed that the name is a derivation from the ellekonge (older elverkonge, i.e. "Elf-king") in Danish folklore. The name is first used by Johann Gottfried Herder in his ballad "Erlkönigs Tochter" (1778), an adaptation of the Danish Hr. Oluf han rider (1739), and was notably taken up by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his poem "Erlkönig" (1782), which was set in music by Schubert, among others. In English translations of Goethe's poem, the name is sometimes rendered as Erl-king.

Georg Philipp Schmidt von Lübeck

Georg Philipp Schmidt von Lübeck (January 1, 1766 – October 28, 1849) was a German poet.

He was born in Lübeck as member of a merchant family with long tradition. He studied law in Jena and Göttingen 1786 to 1790, then he changed to theology and in the end to medicine. In Jena he made friends with the writers Sophie Mereau and Johann Gottfried Herder. After some journeys through Germany he worked as civil servant for the Danish government until 1829.

His most famous poem is Der Wanderer. It was set to music by Franz Schubert.

German new humanism

The German new humanism or Neuhumanismus was a movement that emerged in Germany around 1750. The term was coined by the historian Friedrich Paulsen in 1885. It was a continuation of the original humanism of the renaissance. Central to the movement was a rediscovery of the Antiquity, and the movement was linked to a humanistic idea of knowledge, referred to as Bildung, and to the idea of humanity, the intellectual, physical, and moral formation of "a better human being." Some its major participants include Johann Matthias Gesner, Johann August Ernesti, Christian Gottlob Heyne, Friedrich August Wolf, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Friedrich Hölderlin and Wilhelm von Humboldt.

Its program was described by Friedrich August Wolf as Studia humanitatis which "include anything that contribute to make human Bildung and mental and emotional forces into a beautiful harmony of the inner and outer man."

Hans-Dietrich-Genscher-Gymnasium (Halle)

Hans-Dietrich-Genscher-Gymnasium Halle is a secondary school (gymnasium) in Germany. It was established in November 1908. Currently, about 600 children attend the school. The school is situated right in the city center of Halle an der Saale and is widely known for its two educational profiles: German secondary school and bilingual English-German profile. In 2009 the school celebrated its 100th anniversary. The school is named after Hans-Dietrich Genscher, a German politician.

Herder-Gymnasium Minden

The Herder-Gymnasium is a gymnasium in the German city of Minden. It is one of three gymnasium schools in the city. Founded in 1964 as the Städtischen neusprachlichen Gymnasiums für Jungen und Mädchen, it was renamed three years later after the theologian Johann Gottfried Herder.

Its full name is the Herder-Gymnasium Minden mit Caroline−von–Humboldt–Gymnasium, reflecting its 1989 merger with the Caroline-von-Humboldt-Gymnasium, founded in 1826 and named after Caroline von Humboldt, wife of the diplomat Wilhelm.

Herder Prize

The Herder Prize (German: Gottfried-von-Herder-Preis), named after the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, was a prestigious international prize awarded every year to scholars and artists from Central and Southeast Europe whose life and work have contributed to the cultural understanding of European countries and their peaceful interrelations. Established in 1963, the first prizes were awarded in 1964.

The prize jury was composed of German and Austrian universities. Financing for the Prize, which amounted to €15,000, was sponsored by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation based in Hamburg. The awards were traditionally presented in an annual ceremony at the University of Vienna and handed over by the President of Austria. Each prize also included a one-year scholarship at an Austrian university given to a young person nominated by the winning scholar.

The prize was open to humanities scholars and artists from a wide variety of fields, including ethnographers, writers, architects, composers, poets, folklorists, painters, historians, literary scholars, art historians, archeologists, theatre directors, musicologists, museologists, linguists, playwrights, etc. Several writers who received the Herder Prize went on to later win the Nobel Prize in Literature, such as Wisława Szymborska (in 1995 and 1996), Imre Kertész (in 2000 and 2002), and Svetlana Alexievich (in 1999 and 2015), and many other recipients received other international accolades and were members of their national academies.

Since its inception the prize was open to scholars and artists from seven central and southeast, mostly communist, European countries (Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia). After the fall of communism in Europe in the late 1980s and the subsequent turmoil which led to the breakup of Yugoslavia, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, scholars from all the succeeding countries remained eligible for the prize. In the early 1990s several ex-Soviet European countries (the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; Belarus, and Ukraine) as well as Albania were also made eligible.

Usually seven recipients would be announced every year, except in 1964 (four), 1977 (eight), 1993 (nine), and in 2006 (five) — which was also the last edition of the Herder Prize. In 2007 the prize was discontinued and merged with other prize funds sponsored by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation to create a new Europe-wide annual award, the KAIROS Prize, worth €75,000 and given to a single artist every year to encourage their innovative work.


Primordialism or perennialism is the argument which contends that nations are ancient, natural phenomena.Primordialism can be traced philosophically to the ideas of German Romanticism, particularly in the works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Johann Gottfried Herder. For Herder, the nation was synonymous with language group. In Herder's thinking, language was synonymous with thought, and as each language was learnt in community, then each community must think differently. This also suggests that the community would hold a fixed nature over time.

Primordialism encountered enormous criticism after the Second World War, with many scholars of nationalism coming to treat the nation as a community constructed by the technologies and politics of modernity (see Modernism).Primordialism, in relation to ethnicity, argues that "ethnic groups and nationalities exist because there are traditions of belief and action towards primordial objects such as biological factors and especially territorial location".This argument relies on a concept of kinship, where members of an ethnic group feel they share characteristics, origins or sometimes even a blood relationship. Seen through the Igbos of Nigeria, following what they felt was their origin as descendants of the Jews. "Primordialism assumes ethnic identity as fixed, once it is constructed".

Schloss Weimar

Schloss Weimar is a Schloss (palace) in Weimar, Thuringia, Germany. It is now called Stadtschloss to distinguish it from other palaces in and around Weimar. It was the residence of the dukes of Saxe-Weimar and Eisenach, and has also been called Residenzschloss. Names in English include Palace at Weimar, Grand Ducal Palace, City Palace and City Castle. The building is located at the north end of the town's park along the Ilm river, Park an der Ilm. It forms part of the World Heritage Site "Classical Weimar".

In history, it was often destroyed by fire. The Baroque palace from the 17th century, with the church Schlosskirche where a number of works by Johann Sebastian Bach were premiered, was replaced by a Neoclassical structure after a fire in 1774. Four rooms were dedicated to the memory of poets who worked in Weimar, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Schiller and Christoph Martin Wieland. From 1923, the building has housed the Schlossmuseum, a museum with a focus on paintings of the 15th and 16th centuries and works of art related to Weimar, a cultural centre.

St. Peter und Paul, Weimar

The church of Ss Peter and Paul in Weimar, Germany, is also known as Herderkirche (Herder Church) after Johann Gottfried Herder. It is the most important church building of the town, and is called Stadtkirche (town church), opposed to the courtly Schloßkirche (court chapel). It has been the church of a Lutheran parish since 1525, after the Reformation. The church is part of the World Heritage Site Classical Weimar.

Three Critics of the Enlightenment

Three Critics of the Enlightenment: Vico, Hamann, Herder is a collection of essays in the history of philosophy by 20th century philosopher and historian of ideas Isaiah Berlin. Edited by Henry Hardy and released posthumously in 2000, the collection comprises the previously published works Vico and Herder: Two Studies in the History of Ideas (1976) – an essay on Counter-Enlightenment thinkers Giambattista Vico and Johann Gottfried Herder – and The Magus of the North: J. G. Hamann and the Origins of Modern Irrationalism (1993), concerning irrationalist Johann Georg Hamann.

Weimar Classicism

Weimar Classicism (German: Weimarer Klassik) was a German literary and cultural movement, whose practitioners established a new humanism, from the synthesis of ideas from Romanticism, Classicism, and the Age of Enlightenment.

The Weimarer Klassik movement lasted thirty-three years, from 1772 until 1805, and involved intellectuals such as Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Schiller, and Christoph Martin Wieland; and then was concentrated upon Goethe and Schiller during the period 1788–1805.


The Wilhelm-Ernst-Gymnasium is a secondary school on Herderplatz 14 in Weimar, Germany. Founded in 1712 by Duke William Ernest of Saxe-Weimar, it is the oldest school building in the city. Numerous notable figures such as Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Heinrich Voss, Friedrich Wilhelm Riemer and Johann Karl August Musäus studied here. It is a designated historic site and is one of the few secular buildings of the pre-classical period still remaining in Weimar. It is prominently located in the urban center and is one of three sites forming the UNESCO World Heritage Site Classical Weimar, created in 1998.

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