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Herder on Humanity and Cultural Difference
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Herder is often criticized for having embraced cultural relativism, but there has been little philosophical discussion of what he actually wrote about the nature of the human species and its differentiation through culture. This book focuses on Herder's idea of culture, seeking to situate his social and political theses within the context of his anthropology, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, theory of language and philosophy of history. It argues for a view of Herder as a qualified relativist, who combined the conception of a common human nature with a belief in the importance of culture in developing and shaping that nature. Especially highlighted are Herder's understanding of the relativity of virtue and happiness, and his belief in the impossibility of constructing a single best society. The book will appeal to a wide range of readers interested both in Herder and in Enlightenment culture more generally.


'Sikka’s book is well-written, comprehensive, and makes a strong argument for its overall thesis, one that should be taken seriously by any student of Herder’s philosophy. It has important things to say to those approaching Herder with an eye to his historical, literary, political, and anthropological contributions as well … This text is to be recommended to any Herder scholar, whatever their area of specialization.'

Source: Philosophy in Review

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Primary sources: Johann Gottfried Herder
German editions
Herder, Johann Gottfried (1985–) Werke in zehn Bänden. Frankfurt: Deutsche Klassiker Verlag.
Herder, Johann Gottfried (1977) Briefe: Gesamtausgabe, ed. Dobbek, Wilhelm and Arnold, Günter, 14 vols. Weimar: Herman Böhlau.
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English translations
Herder, Johann Gottfried (2006) Selected Writings on Aesthetics, trans. and ed. Moore, Gregory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Herder, Johann Gottfried (2004) Another Philosophy of History and Selected Political Writings, trans. Evrigenis, Ioannis D. and Pellerin, Daniel. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.
Herder, Johann Gottfried (2002a) Herder: Philosophical Writings, trans. and ed. Forster, Michael. New York: Cambridge University Press.
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Herder, Johann Gottfried (1940) God: Some Conversations, trans. Burkhardt, Frederick. New York: Veritas Press.
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Commentaries on Herder and other primary authors
Aarsleff, Hans (1982) From Locke to Saussure: Essays on the Study of Language and Intellectual History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Adler, Hans and Koepke, Wulf (2009) A Companion to the Works of Johann Gottfried Herder. New York: Camden House.
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