The Romantic AbsoluteBeing and Knowing in Early German Romantic Philosophy, 1795-1804

The Romantic AbsoluteBeing and Knowing in Early German Romantic Philosophy, 1795-1804

Dalia Nassar

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780226084060

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


While the notion of the absolute is most often identified with Hegel’s philosophical system, The Romantic Absolute explicates the significance of the absolute in the epistemology and metaphysics of romantic thinkers between Kant and Hegel, and investigates the ways in which three major figures of philosophical romanticism--Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis), Friedrich Schlegel and Friedrich Schelling--sought to articulate a cogent conception of the absolute. The Romantic Absolute argues that for the romantics, the absolute was neither a solely epistemological nor a solely metaphysical idea, but encompassed both epistemology and metaphysics, and can thus only be understood from both perspectives. The romantics insisted that the absolute cannot be reduced to either being or knowing, because as absolute, it must underlie both. In turn, precisely because the absolute is the ground of being and knowing, the romantics concluded that it must be inherently relational. This relational conception of the absolute, i.e., of the absolute as the mediation of being and knowing, or as the realization of the infinite in the finite, is the most complex and innovative aspect of early romantic philosophy. In significant ways, The Romantic Absolute departs from the widespread view of romanticism as a skeptical movement that anticipates post-structuralism. By elaborating the distinctive character of the romantic conception of the absolute, The Romantic Absolute sheds new light on philosophical romanticism, and argues that in romantic thought, we find one of the most rigorous attempts to grasp the relation between mind and nature in a coherent, but non-reductive way.