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Price: $52.50

Paperback 364 pp.
156 mm x 234 mm



Publication date:
November 2013

Imprint: OUP UK

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German Philosophy of Language

From Schlegel to Hegel and beyond

Michael N. Forster

Michael Forster here presents a ground-breaking study of German philosophy of language in the nineteenth century (and beyond). His previous book, After Herder, showed that the eighteenth-century philosopher J.G. Herder played the fundamental role in founding modern philosophy of language, including new theories of interpretation ("hermeneutics") and translation, as well as in establishing such whole new disciplines concerned with language as anthropology and linguistics.

This new volume reveals that Herder's ideas continued to have a profound impact on such important nineteenth-century thinkers as Friedrich Schlegel (the leading German Romantic), Wilhelm von Humboldt (a founder of linguistics), and G.W.F. Hegel (the leading German Idealist). Forster shows that the most valuable ideas about language in this tradition were continuous with Herder's, whereas deviations from the latter that occurred tended to be inferior. This book not only sets the historical record straight but also champions the Herderian tradition for its philosophical depth and breadth.

Readership : Suitable for historians of philosophy, philosophers of language, intellectual historians of the nineteenth century, scholars of German literature, and historians of linguistics.

Part I: Schlegel
1. Friedrich Schlegel
2. Friedrich Schlegel's Hermeneutics
Part II: Humboldt
3. Wilhelm von Humboldt
4. Herder, Schlegel, Humboldt, and the Birth of Modern Linguistics
Part III: Hegel
5. Hegel on Language
6. Hegel and Some (Near-)Contemporaries: Narrow or Broad Expressivism?
7. Hegel and Hermeneutics
Part IV: And Beyond
8. Philosophy of Language in the Nineteenth Century
9. Hermeneutics
Select Bibliography

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Michael N. Forster read P.P.E. at Oxford University, and earned his PhD in Philosophy at Princeton University. Since 1985 he has taught at the University of Chicago, where he served for ten years as chairman of the Philosophy Department and is currently Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy. He is the author of six books on German philosophy, as well as many articles on German philosophy, ancient philosophy, and contemporary philosophy of language.

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Special Features

  • Ground-breaking study in the history of ideas.
  • Has radical implications for our understanding of the philosophy of language.
  • Establishes the philosophical and linguistic legacy of J. G. Herder.
  • Recovers intrinsically valuable ideas from a neglected strand of nineteenth-century German philosophy.
  • Combines historical scrupulousness with philosophical rigour.
  • Covers a range of interests beyond philosophy, including interpretation, genre, art, and linguistics.