ABSTRACT. I show how a consistent line of anti-Cartesian and anti-Kantian philosophies established by Herder, Humboldt, Hamann, and Vossler transformed the sign-character of human expressions into an expression of style by concentrating on the German term ‘Art’ as a sort of habitus. Especially Humboldt concentrates on the non-natural and non-functional character of language in defining it as a cultural product. Herder, Humboldt, Hamann, and Vossler recognize the insignificance of grammar as long as it is regarded as an abstract foundation for linguistics. Style is of utmost importance for all of them since they undermine the representation-theory by means of an “open rhetoric” using flexible rules and defining a sort of creative structural analysis. “Die Art” or the “how” of language gives linguistic expression the status of something spiritual and non-static. All four thinkers formulated their opposition to philosophical abstractions in terms of a “philosophy of life” and attempted to read “signs” as expressions of a historical and cultural reason. pp. 121–139

Keywords: Wilhelm von Humboldt; Gottfried Herder; Johan Georg Hamann; Karl Vossler; structuralist stylistics; representation theory

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