Johann Georg Hamann and the Enlightenment Project
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.