The Metaphysic of the Romantic Era

Edward Craig

in The Mind of God and the Works of Man

Published in print December 1996 | ISBN: 9780198236825
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597244 | DOI:
The Metaphysic of the Romantic Era

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This chapter considers the philosophy of the years shortly before and shortly after the beginning of the nineteenth century, and in doing so illustrates the claim that the ‘dominant philosophy’ of an era can sometimes be found most clearly expressed in works of literature. The philosophy of the romantic era is characterised by one great metaphysical theme: unity, its loss and recovery. Schiller’s poem ‘Die Götter Griechenlands’, Goethe’s ballad ‘Der Fischer’, Kleist’s article ‘ Über das Marionettentheater’, and Hölderlin’s novel ‘Hyperion’, Craig suggests, all illustrate a fundamental striving towards unity that is lost through knowledge and consciousness, and although they differ both in their assessment of the situation and in their reaction to it, they express a singular awareness of the deep dichotomies that characterise the intellectual climate of their time. At the most general level, the romantic vision was of the oneness of man and nature, the immanence of God in nature, and an element of divinity in man. Deeply indebted to the Image of God doctrine, yet also on the way to abandoning it, these themes inform, and in part anticipate, the systematic philosophy of Hegel.

Keywords: Goethe; Hegel; Hölderlin; Kleist; literature; Panpsychism; Pantheism; Romanticism; Schiller; unity

Chapter.  16030 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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