Johann Georg Hamann

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hamann, Johann Georg


Born Aug. 27, 1730, in Königsberg; died June 21, 1788, in Münster. German philosopher, critic, and writer.

Hamann studied philosophy, theology, and philology in Konigsberg. His Sibylline Letters (published, 1819) are written in the form of oracular pronouncements. He was called the “Magus of the North” for his obscure style and his aphorisms, reminiscent of prophesies. His autobiography, Thoughts on the Course of My Life (1758), contains mystic meditations on the meaning of the Bible and especially the book of Ecclesiastes. Unlike proponents of the Enlightenment, Hamann regarded artistic creation as an unconscious process.

In philosophy Hamann was an adherent of the theory of immediate knowledge. Criticizing the rationalism of the Enlightenment, especially the philosophy of Kant (Metacritique of the Purism of Reason, 1784; published, 1800), Hamann developed a mystically colored intuitive dialectic. Rejecting the rationalistic method of thinking, Hamann revived the notion of the coincidence of opposites as the general law of being. He stressed the role of emotion and form in poetry, which he considered to be the original language of the human race, predating prose. His works on language, poetry, and aesthetics contain polemics against the language theory of J. G. Herder. Hamann influenced the German literary trend of Sturm und Drang and the philosophical and aesthetic ideas of German romanticism.


Sämtliche Werke, vols. 1-6. A historical and critical edition by J. Nadler. Vienna, 1949-57.
Hauptschriften [vols. 2, 5, 7]. Edited by F. Blanke and L. Schreiner. Gütersloh, 1956-62.


Kozhevnikov, V. A. Filosofiia chuvstva i very v ee otnosheniakh k literature i ratsionalizmu 18 v. i k kriticheskoi filosofii, part 1. Moscow, 1897.
Asmus, V. F. Problema intuitsii v filosofii i matematike, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1965.
Unger, R. Hamann und die Aufklärung, 2nd ed., vols. 1-2. Halle, 1925.
Metzke, E. J. G. Hamanns Stellung in der Philosophic des 18. Jahrhunderts. Halle, 1934.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
This volume collects two essays written by philosopher and political theorist Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) on three figures of the Counter-Enlightenment (although that characterization has more recently been disputed): Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) and Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) in the first essay and Johann Georg Hamann (1730-1788) in the second.
Again, there is much insight here, but Trevor-Roper's antagonism to conservative Christianity leads him to ignore the central role of Johann Georg Hamann in this story.
* Hamann's Socratic Memorabilia: A Translation and Commentary by Johann Georg Hamann, translated James C.
Betz undertakes two projects: first, he has produced the best and fullest survey of the life and writings of Johann Georg Hamann in a generation, helpfully including many passages from Hamann's letters and publications and commenting intelligently on the style, theology, philosophy, and (to a lesser extent) historical context of Haman's notoriously obscure oeuvre; second, he has written an intellectual history covering Hamann's relation to the major figures of his time as well as his subsequent influence on and reception by philosophers and theologians down to our own day.
In the process of engaging Kant, a singular contribution of the book emerges in B.'s use of the work of Johann Georg Hamann, an important contemporary and critic of Kant.
Chapter 3 looks at five "dissenters," Christians who have rejected the Enlightenment Project of the neutrality and objectivity of reason and therefore of science: Blaise Pascal, Johann Georg Hamann, Charles Hodge, Abraham Kuyper, and Herman Dooyeweerd.
Here he found consonance in the work of the first and greatest critic of the enlightenment, the German philosopher Johann Georg Hamann (1730-1788), who eventually became his lasting philosophical and spiritual guardian.
Herder's attempt to establish the truth of religion with his exegesis of Genesis 1 as the earliest human poetry was acceptable neither to Kant nor to Johann Georg Hamann. Bultmann reviews prehistory in Old Testament scholarship from Johann Gottfried Eicbhom (who refused to acknowledge his debt to Herder, although the influence is clear) to Wilhelm Martin Leberecht de Wette, referring on the way to the work of Johann Philipp Gabler and Johann Severn Vater.
With twenty-nine numbers, the serenata Zu Walle, ruft alle!, set to a text by Johann Georg Hamann, is a much more extensive work, scored like the oratorio with the important addition of a martial drum (oddly, the list of instruments that precedes the score on p.
Expressed in the briefest way, such a construal of the affinities between Benjamin, Barth, Levinas and Derrida assumes something close to the victory of Johann Georg Hamann's theory of the origins and nature of language, that is the ascendancy of the theological over the human origin of language.