Herder: Aesthetics against Imperialism

Herder: Aesthetics against Imperialism

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By John K. Noyes
German and European Studies
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2015
World Rights
416 Pages 10 Images
ISBN 9781442650381
Published Dec 2015
Online discount: 25%
 $75.00    $56.25
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442622982
Published Nov 2015
Online discount: 25%
Full purchase $75.00

Among his generation of intellectuals, the eighteenth-century German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder is recognized both for his innovative philosophy of language and history and for his passionate criticism of racism, colonialism, and imperialism. A student of Immanuel Kant, Herder challenged the idea that anyone – even the philosophers of the Enlightenment – could have a monopoly on truth.

In Herder: Aesthetics against Imperialism, John K. Noyes plumbs the connections between Herder’s anti-imperialism, often acknowledged but rarely explored in depth, and his epistemological investigations. Noyes argues that Herder’s anti-rationalist epistemology, his rejection of universal conceptions of truth, knowledge, and justice, constitutes the first attempt to establish not just a moral but an epistemological foundation for anti-imperialism. Engaging with the work of postcolonial theorists such Dipesh Chakrabarty and Gayatri Spivak, this book is a valuable reassessment of Enlightenment anti-imperialism that demonstrates Herder’s continuing relevance to postcolonial studies today.

John K. Noyes is a professor in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto.

Introduction: Postcolonial Theory and Herder’s Anti-Imperialism
Chapter 1: From Epistemology to Aesthetics
Chapter 2: From Organic Life to the Politics of Interpretation
Chapter 3: From Human Restlessness to the Politics of Difference
Chapter 4: From the Location of Language to the Multiplicity of Reason
Chapter 5: From Human Diversity to the Politics of Natural Development
Chapter 6: The Aesthetics of Revolution and the Critique of Imperialism
Conclusion: Herder, Postcolonialism, and the Antinomy of Universal Reason

“In the eight meticulously orchestrated chapters of his book, Herder: Aesthetics and Imperialism,John Noyes develops step-by-step how J.G. Herder’s anti-imperialism is systematically founded in his anthropological concept of aesthetics. It is a pleasure to follow Noyes’ lucidly written argument, and his dialectics of aesthetics and imperialism is particularly engaging. This book illuminates hitherto undiscovered relationships between aesthetics and politics in Herder’s thinking and simultaneously offers a critical contribution to running debates within the context of post-colonialism.”

Hans Adler, Halls-Bascom Professor for Modern Literature Studies, Department of German, University of Wisconsin-Madison

‘A profound source of philosophical interpretation, which is very close to the source, in which Herder’s significance for the current discourse of global history and anti-imperialism is of surprising actuality.’

Michael Maurer, H-Soz-u-Kult March 2017

Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures

(United States) - Winner in 2016