Johann Gottfried von Herder
(25 August 1744 – 18 December 1803)
Herder replaced the traditional concept of a juridico-political state with that of the folk-nation as organic in its historical growth. Every nation was in this manner organic and whole, nationality a plant of nurture. He talked of the "national animal" and of the " physiology of the whole national group" , which organism was topped by the "national spirit", the "soul of the volk".
He proposed what is now called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis; that language determines thought. Herder's focus upon language and cultural traditions as the ties that create a " nation " extended to include folklore , dance, music and art, and inspired Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in their collection of Germanic folk tales.
Herder praised the tribal outlook writing that "the savage who loves himself, his wife and child with quiet joy and glows with limited activity of his tribe as for his own life is in my opinion a more real being than that cultivated shadow who is enraptured with the shadow of the whole species", isolated since "each nationality contains its centre of happiness within itself, as a bullet the centre of gravity". With no need for comparison since" every nation bears in itself the standard of its perfection, totally independent of all comparison with that of others" for "do not nationalities differ in everything, in poetry, in appearance, in tastes, in usages, customs and languages? Must not religion which partakes of these also differ among the nationalities?"
"It is the apparent plan of nature that as one human being, so also one generation, and also one nationality learn, learn incessantly, from and with the others until all have comprehended the difficult lesson: No nationality has been solely designated by God as the chosen people of the earth; above all we must seek the truth and cultivate the garden of the common good. Hence no nationality of Europe may separate itself sharply, and foolishly say, "With us alone, with us dwells all wisdom."
Time was to demonstrate that while many Germans were to find influence in Herder's convictions and influence, fewer were to note his qualificatory stipulations. One such person was Adolf Hitler.