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Forming HumanityRedeeming the German Bildung Tradition$
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Jennifer A. Herdt

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226618487

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226618517.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 03 August 2021

Pietism and the Problem of Human Craft (Menschen-kunst)

Pietism and the Problem of Human Craft (Menschen-kunst)

(p.56) 2 Pietism and the Problem of Human Craft (Menschen-kunst)
Forming Humanity

Jennifer A. Herdt

University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on the 17th-century context for the development of the Bildung tradition, looking at the German Pietist movement and at two mystical thinkers who significantly influenced that movement: Johann Arndt, author of the popular devotional work True Christianity, and Jakob Boehme, who absorbed and transmitted Paracelsian and Hermetic thought. Pietists emphasized a foundational passivity to divine agency and rejected Menschen-kunst, human imagination and formative agency; the chapter shows how this position became increasingly unstable as it was deployed as a weapon against the rising tides of rationalism; the Pietist evacuation of human agency elicited in Weimar humanism a reactive insistence on Bildung as an expression of autonomous human self-formative agency, even as Pietist practices of introspection and its new language of feeling and inner experience were adopted into secular literature and the project of aesthetic education. Further, the chapter this chapter argues that Boehme’s influence fostered understandings of Bildung as a cosmic process in which conflict and evil play a generative role.

Keywords:   Johann Arndt, Jakob Boehme, mysticism, hermeticism, Pietism, rationalism, evil, conflict, imagination

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