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Beyond the Subjective Self:

Beyond the Subjective Self:

Hemsterhuis, Kant, and the Question of the Whole

(p.39) Chapter Two Beyond the Subjective Self:
The Romantic Absolute
Dalia Nassar
University of Chicago Press

This chapter traces the development of Novalis’ conception of the self, following his engagement with the Dutch philosopher, Franz Hemsterhuis and his interest in Kant. It shows that it is in his studies of the two thinkers that Novalis develops a relational conception of the self and reality, and begins to formulate his ideal of knowledge. In contrast to recent interpretations of Novalis as a Kantian, the chapter argues that Novalis criticizes Kant’s conception of the moral self and its relation to others and to the world. Thus, although he retains Fichte’s understanding of the self as primarily active, Novalis emphasizes that morality involves affectivity, relationality and harmony, and criticizes both Fichte and Kant for their apparently one-sided approaches to morality.

Keywords:   Friedrich von Hardenberg, Novalis, Kant, transcendental philosophy, German romanticism, German idealism, Hemsterhuis, history of philosophy

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