By Sonia Sikka
Herder is frequently criticized for having embraced cultural relativism, yet there was little philosophical dialogue of what he really wrote concerning the nature of the human species and its differentiation via tradition. This e-book makes a speciality of Herder's concept of tradition, trying to situate his social and political theses in the context of his anthropology, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, thought of language and philosophy of heritage. It argues for a view of Herder as a certified relativist, who mixed the perception of a typical human nature with a trust within the significance of tradition in constructing and shaping that nature. particularly highlighted are Herder's figuring out of the relativity of advantage and happiness, and his trust within the impossibility of making a unmarried most sensible society. The ebook will entice quite a lot of readers either in Herder and in Enlightenment tradition extra quite often.
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The falseness of such excuses is shown, Herder argues, not only by the history of culture, in which proper education has made women equal to men, but also by the example of certain reasonable Â�peoples without a refined culture, such as the ancient Germans, who recognized what was noble in woman and appreciated the fine properties of her sex (Ideas, 320). The list Herder presents of these propertiesÂ€ – “cleverness, faithfulness, courage and chastity” (Ideas, 320)Â€ – is not exactly revolutionary, and it is accompanied by a belief that the natures of men and women are essentially and profoundly different (Ideas, 316).
In the 26th Letter, largely written in the form of a dialogue, it is proposed that human beings are identified in terms of their culture, and that “when a German encounters a Frenchman, a Frenchman an Englishman, this is not a mere man encountering a mere man, but such a man encountering such a man” (LAH, 134). 16 But Herder’s point in the dialogue is actually to resist the onesidedness of this view, to acknowledge its force while insisting that there is nonetheless an “invisible church” consisting of those who are capable of transcending the prejudices of their nation and native religion, and “who know well enough, when patriotism ceases to be a virtue” (LAH, 137).
Individuals may, in either of these cases, be fortunate or unfortunate, vicious or virtuous. But their degree of virtue is constituted by their meeting the ideals which their society educates them to hold, and their degree of happiness is a function of their ability to satisfy the limited range of human inclinations generated by the natural and social milieu in which they are raised. Here, there is a genuinely Counter-Enlightenment force in Herder’s position, and a connection with the spirit of Sturm und Drang, for it is a consequence of Herder’s views that the “Oriental patriarch” who lives sincerely by the beliefs and values of his time and place may be both happier and more virtuous than the enlightened thinkers of Herder’s own age.
Herder on Humanity and Cultural Difference: Enlightened Relativism by Sonia Sikka