Kant, Herder and the Birth of Anthropology by John Zammito
The loser wins, comments Ivan Brady as he ponders John Zammito’s book on the rivalry between Kant and Herder.
One flash of the title of this erudite book by John H. Zammito and inquiring anthropological minds want to know, whose anthropology? It takes no effort to discover that the author means the core discourse of German anthropology grounded in the Enlightenment, with its vast implications for rethinking and acting on the nature of being human, and more. He says that the birth of German anthropology needs a wider context to be understood and he backs this up throughout the book with links to the basic ideas of the times – materiality, spirituality, biology, epigenesis, pedantry in the academy, privileged access to formal education in the guilds, the rise of public education, and so on. The anthropologies of eighteenth century France and England, though certainly problematic from a German perspective, were also instrumental in the birth of German anthropology and related Enlightenment philosophy and they tie into the present in important ways.
Zammito examines these intellectual industries and their bearing on the early mutual interests and subsequent falling out of two men: Immanuel Kant and his prized student, latterly rival, cleric, poet, philosopher and anthropologist Johann Gottfried Herder, in the 1760s and early 1770s.