Ideas for the Philosophy of the History of Mankind

    Translated by
  • Gregory Martin Moore

One of the most important works of the Enlightenment—in the first new, unabridged English translation in more than two centuries


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Published (US):
Feb 27, 2024
Published (UK):
Apr 23, 2024
6.12 x 9.25 in.
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Published in four volumes between 1784 and 1791, Herder’s Ideas for the Philosophy of the History of Mankind is one of the most important works of the Enlightenment—a bold, original, and encyclopedic synthesis of, and contribution to, the era’s philosophical debates over nature, history, culture, and the very meaning of human experience. This is the first new, unabridged English translation of the Ideas in more than two centuries. Gregory Martin Moore’s lively, modern English text, extensive introduction, and commentary bring this neglected masterpiece back to life.

The Ideas—which engages with many of the leading thinkers of the eighteenth century, such as Montesquieu, Kant, Gibbon, Ferguson, Buffon, and Rousseau—is many things at once: an inquiry into the unity and purpose of history, a reflection on human nature and the place of humans in the cosmic order, an examination of what was beginning to be called “culture,” and a narrative of cultural progress across time among different peoples. Along the way, Herder considers a dizzying variety of topics, including the formation of the earth and solar system, species change, race, the immortality of the soul, the establishment of society, and the pursuit of happiness. Above all, the Ideas is an anthropology—what Alexander Pope had termed an “essay on man”—pervaded by an appropriately humane spirit.

A fresh and much-needed modern translation of the complete Ideas, this volume reintroduces English readers to a classic of Enlightenment thought.