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…then you damn well are.

I’ve been gobbling up all I can find recently (i.e. today) on Johann Georg Hamann. Hamann was an 18th century German philosopher who is generally considered the anti-Kant. Basically, he was to Kant as Kierkegaard would be to Hegel (apparently, the Great Dane utterly revered him). Interestingly, Hamann is usually thought to pre-figure two figures in particular: Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein. Now, if you know me at all, then you understand that these two fellas are quite possibly my two favorite philosophers of all time. Hence, my curiosity towards the German anti-idealist. Here is a bit of his wit to try on for size:

To be sure, I would ten times rather lose my breath in the wind talking to a blind man about the first and fourth days of the Mosaic creation story, or to a deaf man about the harmony of a little nightingale or Italian castrato than submit myself any longer to an opponent who is not even capable of seeing that a universal, sound, practical language, reason, and religion without arbitrary axioms is his own oven of ice.

Whoa; that’s cold. Of particular interest is Hamann’s aversion towards young earth creationism – a sentiment I share in its entirety. As to his views on language:

“For me it is not so much the question: what is reason? But rather: what is language? And I suspect that this is the ground of all the paralogism and antinomies that one attributes to the former… What in your language is Being, I prefer to call the Word.”

Utterly beautiful. Reminds me a bit of a Christian precursor to Franz Rosenzweig (if he had made the move all the way to Christ) – a concept that intrigues me immensely. If you’d like to read a great little biography on Hamann, Peter Leithart wrote an article in First Things a couple of years ago – you can find it here.

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