Johann Georg Hamann and the Enlightenment Project

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9781442642157: Johann Georg Hamann and the Enlightenment Project
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Johann Georg Hamann (1730-1788) was a German philosopher who offered in his writings a radical critique of the Enlightenment's reverence for reason. A pivotal figure in the Sturm und Drang movement, his thought influenced such writers as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Johann Gottfried Herder. As a friend of Immanuel Kant, Hamann was the first writer to comment on the Critique of Pure Reason, and his work foreshadows the linguistic turn in philosophy as well as numerous elements of twentieth century hermeneutics and existentialism.

Johann Georg Hamann and the Enlightenment Project addresses Hamann's oeuvre from the perspective of political philosophy, focusing on his views concerning the public use of reason, social contract theory, autonomy, aesthetic morality and the politics of 'taste,' and the technocratic ideal of enlightened despotism. Robert Alan Sparling situates Hamann's work historically, elucidates his somewhat difficult writing, and argues for his relevance in the ongoing culture wars over the merits of the Enlightenment project.

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About the Author:

Robert Alan Sparling is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Political Studies at McGill University.

Review:

'Full of verve, clarity, and immediacy, Johann Georg Hamann and the Enlightenment Project expounds and defends Hamann's counter-Enlightenment views against those of Enlightenment paragons Kant and Mendelssohn. Robert Alan Sparling's extremely engaging, first rate scholarship embodies a scholarly-spiritual position that is unusual enough to be revealing of important matters. This book will certainly appeal to those seeking new, refreshing ideas about a highly interesting thinker.' (Ian Hunter, Centre for the History of European Discourses, University of Queensland)

'A vital contribution to contemporary debates on the meaning and legacy of the Enlightenment, Johann Georg Hamann and the Enlightenment Project is an impressive work of scholarship. Robert Alan Sparling convincingly shows how and why political philosophy stands to benefit from careful expositions of work by Hamann, the eighteenth century German thinker whose work has previously received little attention. Sparling himself engages with Hamann's writings in multiple and complex ways, proving his attunement with his subject's method of relaying arguments, ideas, and perceptions.' (Ingrid Makus, Department of Political Science, Brock University)

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