This essay examines Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s The Education of the Human Race (EHR) in order to elucidate his philosophy of history. It pays special attention to the fact that Lessing presents EHR both as a work of philosophy that aims to reveal the truth and as a work of poetry that aims to provoke an experience of beauty. Because Lessing goes out of his way to characterize EHR as a poetic work, I argue that it can and should be understood in light of his account of poetry in Laocoön: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry. I show that interpreting EHR in light of Laocoön explains why EHR’s philosophical and poetic projects are coherent and interdependent. I conclude that Lessing’s way of synthesizing philosophy and poetry in EHR clarifies his understanding of history and of reason’s historical character.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 93-112
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.