- Howard Caygill
(b Königsberg [Kaliningrad], Aug 27, 1730; d Münster, June 21, 1788).
German philosopher and theologian. After travels that included sojourns in London and Riga, he based himself in his native city from 1759, occupying minor posts and acting as a Christian gadfly to the German Enlightenment. He separated himself from Kant with the esoteric Sokratische Denkwürdigkeiten (1759), which spurned the philosophy and recondite style of the Enlightenment. His differences were further developed in the first, and perhaps most influential riposte to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, the Metacritik über den Purismum der Vernunft (1784), which questions how it is possible to criticize reason without assuming its validity, and claims that reason was already abstracted from language.
A similar argument informs Hamann’s main work in the philosophy of art, the ‘Aesthetica in Nuce’, one of the Kreuzzuge des Philologen (1762). This essay, subtitled ‘a rhapsody in cabbalistic prose’, attacks the abstract theories of imitation proposed by German ...