Johann Gottfried Von Herder
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Ed's Favorite Quotations. Emphasis added. References below.


Philosophical Writings.

Part I: General Philosophical Program

"If philosophy [Philosophie] is to become useful for human beings, then let it make the human being its center."1a

Part III: Philosophy of Mind

""No cognition," philosophy says, "is without sensation, i.e. without some feeling of good or bad, of pleasure or pain, of being or nonbeing, in oneself or in the object. If the soul feels that it cognizes, then it enjoys itself, strives forth, develops its forces; the less impeded, the more lively. That is why a person is irritated by curiosity, i.e. the drive of wanting to know. . .""1b

"The force of thinking, of acting according to an ideal of perfection, is the essence of the soul . . ."1c

" . . . [T]he deepest irritation, as it is the mightiest hunger and thirst: love!!"1d

"Quite generally, nothing in nature is separated, everything flows onto and into everything else through imperceptible transitions; and certainly, what life is in the creation is in all shapes, forms, and channels only a single spirit, a single flame."1e

Part IV: Philosophy of History

"Every occurrence, every factum, in the world has its grounds and causes which, so to speak, produced its nature; it also has consequences of its nature -- and what else is a description of this but a historical doctrinal structure? Finally, every occurrence is merely a link in a chain, it is woven into the connection with others, it is effective in the coming together of worldly things through attraction and repulsion -- and a plan of this connection, of this world-system of effects, is this not a historical doctrinal structure? Is a historian of this sort not a philosopher? Not a pragmatic systematizer?"1f

Part V: Political Philosophy

""Why are you pouring water on my head?" said the dying slave to the missionary. "So that you enter into heaven.""I do not want to enter into any heaven where there are whites" he spoke, turned away his face, and died. Sad history of humanity!"1g

"Europe must give compensation for the debts that it has incurred, make good the crimes that it has committed -- not from choice but according to the very nature of things."1h

"Climates can change; many an inhabited land can become uninhabitable . . . from several causes. . . Our earth is probably an organic being; we creep about on this orange like small, scarcely noticeable insects, torment each other, and settle here and there . . . Certainly, the periods of nature are calculated with an eye to each other in regard to all species, so that when the earth can no longer warm and feed human beings, human beings will also have fulfilled their destiny on it."1i


Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803). Philosophical Writings. Translated and Edited by Michael N. Forster. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.



Against Pure Reason: Writings on Religion, Language, and History.

On World History: An Anthology.

Another Philosophy of History and Selected Political Writings.

Selected Writings on Aesthetics.

Sculpture: Some Observations on Shape and Form from Pygmalion's Creative Dream.


* Italics in the original.

1 Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803). Philosophical Writings. Translated and Edited by Michael N. Forster. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Part I: General Philosophical Program
a How Philosophy Can Become More Universal and Useful for the Benefit of the People (1765), at 21.
Part III: Philosophy of Mind
b On Cognition and Sensation, the Two Main Forces of the Human Soul (1775), at 179.
c Ibid., at 183.
d On the Cognition and Sensation of the Human Soul (1778), at 193.
e Ibid., at 195.
Part IV: Philosophy of History
f Older Critical Forestlet (1767/8), at 258.
Part V: Political Philosophy
g Letters for the Advancement of Humanity (1793-7), at 383. 
h Ibid., at 418.
i Ibid., at 419.