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Idealism and Realism in Early German Romanticism

Stenseth, ON; (2015) Idealism and Realism in Early German Romanticism. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The early German romantics Hölderlin, Novalis, and Schlegel were united in their attempt to combine idealism and realism. However, contemporary interpretations of early German romanticism have, as far as idealism and realism is concerned, found two major strands of interpretation in Manfred Frank and Frederick C. Beiser that respectively characterise the romantics as epistemological and metaphysical realists and as absolute idealists. Against both of these interpretations I will argue that we both can and should interpret the Frühromantiker as finding some middle path between idealism and realism. In order to motivate this claim I will begin by summarising what I take to be the main features of the positions of the three major early German romantics (Hölderlin, Novalis, and Schlegel) as well as making it apparent that finding some way of combining idealism and realism was in fact their goal. In light of these features I will then critique both Frank and Beiser's one-sided interpretations as well as offer an interpretation that does take into account the romantics' self-proclaimed aim. Having gone through Hölderlin, Novalis, and Schlegel in turn, summarised the major elements of their philosophy, shown how the three can be interpreted as neither idealists nor realists, and rejected any absolute idealist readings, as well as having given a reading of these philosophers consistent with their attempt to combine idealism and realism, I will end by concluding that we both can and should interpret the Frühromantiker as finding a middle path between idealism and realism.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Idealism and Realism in Early German Romanticism
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1473273
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