Spätaufklärer im aufgeklärten Riga: Hamann und Herder

Hans Graubner


After having worked through the thoughts of English Empiricism, mainly David Hume's thoughts, Johann Georg Hamann and his disciple Johann Gottfried Herder initiated the last phase of German Enlightenment, Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress), which took a critical view towards Enlightenment. Both of them gave theological shape to their new way of thinking: Hamann by a radical reminiscence of Christian anthropology, Herder by further developing the theology of Enlightenment towards a religion of humanity. As late representatives of the Enlightenment movement they met in Riga the Enlightenment in a form, which still was characterized by the utopian optimism of High Enlightenment. At the same time, as petit-bourgeois intellectuals without means whose self-images arose more and more only from their individual intellectual achievements, they met there an upper middle class, bound in estates, which gained its self-confidence mainly from the deeply rooted traditions of its privileged sovereign Status. In the light of this double in coincidence between the Livonian Enlightenment and the authors of the avant-garde of that time - as regards epoch and social history -, this contribution shows their various difficulties in Riga which entailed the retreat of both of them form Livonia.