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Savages, Romans, and DespotsThinking about Others from Montaigne to Herder$
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Robert Launay

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226575254

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226575421.001.0001

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Cultural Critique: Herder

Cultural Critique: Herder

(p.186) Eleven Cultural Critique: Herder
Savages, Romans, and Despots

Robert Launay

University of Chicago Press

The concept of “culture” emerged in late Enlightenment Germany, as opposed to “civilization” in Britain and France. The concept was key to Herder’s critique of French and Scottish Enlightenment thought, as well as that of his teacher, Kant. Herder’s philosophy of history asserted that the values and thought of particular historical eras, embodied in song, poetry, art, and literature, was incommensurable with those of other eras. Herder’s variety of relativism privileged the Nation over and above the State, and reflected his clear preference for the Greeks politically fragmented if culturally united, as opposed to the Romans, whose military state was in important respects antithetical to Herder’s own values.

Keywords:   Germany, Enlightenment, Nation, State, Herder, Greeks, Culture

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