Volume 9, Issue 1, Fall 2004
Across the Tradition of Philosophy
Linguistic Nationalism and Linguistic Diversity in German Idealism
Locating Hegel between Fichte and Humboldt
Hegel did not have an adequate appreciation of linguistic diversity. This lapse is linked to Hegel’s Eurocentric view of history and culture. Hegel’s view of language is considered within the context of Leibniz’s hope for a universal philosophical language, the metacritique of Kant, and Fichte’s linguistic nationalism. Hegel overcomes the sort of nationalism found in Fichte. And Hegel aspires toward the universal while recognizing the importance of concrete historical language. However, he does not achieve the sort of appreciation of linguistic diversity we find in Humboldt. The paper concludes that Humboldt can thus be used to critique Hegel’s Eurocentrism without anachronism.