"[…] only a single cadence of a few notes […]"?—Johann Georg Hamann’s Religious Contact With the Baltic Region
Keywords:Popular Enlightenment, language, Latvian poetry, Dainas, Riga, Johann Georg Hamann, Gotthard Friedrich Stender
In his early years as a tutor, unorthodox Lutheran thinker Johann Georg Hamann travelled the Baltic countries. In his own work, in particular in the Aesthetica in nuce, he interpreted the folk songs of the Latvian peasants as an authentic expression of religiosity unspoiled by philosophical sophistication. As a radical critic of enlightenment thought, Hamann portrayed the Latvian peasants as religiously complete individuals characterized by their particular locality. Thus, they would not gain anything by generalisation suggested by proponents of popular enlightenment, such as Gotthard Friedrich Stender (1714–1796). Thus, Hamann posits a contact between universal (crypto-)religion of enlightenment ideology and individually localised religious conscience, exemplified in the Latvian peasant.
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