‘The poem of the understanding is philosophy’: Novalis and the art of self-criticism [Paperback]

Fernando Manuel Ferreira Silva (Author)

ISBN: 9788869773969 | Published by: Mimesis International | Series: Objectivities | Year of Publication: 2022 | Language: English 300p, H210 x W140 (mm)
Status: Not yet published - advance orders taken

‘The poem of the understanding is philosophy’


At the onset of his philosophical production, in the fall of 1795, the poet Novalis wrote a long series of fragmentary annotations posthumously entitled Fichte-Studien. A range of important themes are dealt with, all of them dealing with Fichte’s philosophy. But the main problem that presides over Novalis’ first philosophy and which pervades these manuscripts is a greater problem, a spiritual conflict between opposites, namely, poetry (life) and philosophy, or feeling and reflection, a conflict which Novalis was experiencing ever since he had attended Reinhold’s lectures on Elementary Philosophy in Jena (1790), which would be irreversibly enhanced by Fichte’s Doctrine of Science (from 1793 onwards), and only then would be addressed in his own Fichte-Studien.

The current volume attempts to determine how Novalis solves his spiritual conflict under the guise of a theory of opposites, in light of his reading of the same problem in Reinhold and Fichte. Novalis’ conclusion is that of a hypothesis of a reciprocal dynamism, a living and cumulative alternation between opposites, which shall originate the I and inaugurate its reflexive self-understanding; namely, the hypothesis of uniting feeling and reflection, essential components of the I as a being of opposites, under the form of a union in disunion, wherein a real impossibility of uniting the opposites and an ideal possibility of doing so simultaneously coexist; a proposition which will lead Novalis to part from his teachers, and involves a profound reflection on the need to reassess the concepts of I, of identity and thought itself – a genuine critique of the self – which gradually carves out the image of Novalis as an autonomous and original thinker within the scope of German Idealism.

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