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Poetry and philosophical ascesis : Schlegel, Novalis, Holderlin


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van Riet, A 2009 , 'Poetry and philosophical ascesis : Schlegel, Novalis, Holderlin', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis argues that the tum to poetry undertaken by Schlegel, Novalis and
HOlderlin during the period of early German Romanticism is largely a tum that
seeks to culminate in a particular and comprehensive philosophical ascesis. While
contemporary discourse (Frank, Beiser, Henrich, Bowie, Millan-Zaibert et al) has
done much to uncover the philosophical underpinnings of early German
Romanticism, and has secured the place of thinkers such as Holderlin within the
history of German philosophy, the theme of poetry and philosophical ascesis has
not been sufficiently explored. This thesis focuses on the determination with
which Schlegel, Novalis and Holderlin seek to expand philosophical
understanding by integrating traditional philosophical reasoning with
comprehensive poetic processes. This thesis argues that this integration exploits a
symbiotic relationship between poetry and philosophy that enables a refined
response to philosophical issues such as Fichte's theory of subjectivity, the
discrepancy and reconciliation between idealism and realism, and the moral
education of humankind.
The strategy of this thesis is first to elicit the technicalities of the symbiotic
relationship between poetry and philosophy, followed by an exploration of
Holderlin's calculative approach to Fichte's theory of subjectivity that seeks also
to achieve a metaphorical representation of an 'intellectual intuition.' In
conjunction, Holderlin's theory of tones, plus the preparation and function of the
poet, are explored. The thesis then turns to Schlegel's 'formula' that seeks to
articulate the nature of God in relation to the poetic ideal. This is followed by an
investigation into the moral education of humankind and finally an in
investigation into Novalis' Magical Idealism.
This thesis concludes that although there are differences between the kinds of
methods and responses on which each thinker draws, all share a preoccupation
with the unity of subject and object, and its role as an analogue for the unity that
underpins all binary oppositions. The identification of the tum to poetry
undertaken by Schlegel, Novalis and Holderlin is seen to be based in an assertion
of a symbiotic relationship between poetry and philosophy that itself constitutes
an ascesis in which the subjective self integrates with the determination of the
very 'thing' that it contemplates.
There are two qualifications that apply to the research undertaken here. First, the
focus is philosophical rather than poetic in that the concern is with philosophical
theory rather than poetic success. Second, while the aim of the thesis is to identify
a level of philosophical asceticism at work in the thinking of Schlegel, Novalis
and Holderlin, the full elaboration of such asceticism and its implications is not

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:van Riet, A
Keywords: Schlegel, Freidrich von, 1772-1829, Novalis, 1772-1801, Hölderlin, Friedrich, 1770-1843, Romanticism, Literature, Poetry
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2009 the author

Additional Information:

Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references. Introduction -- Ch. 1. The symbiotic relationship between poetry and philosophy -- Ch. 2. Poetry and the structure of consciousness -- Ch. 3. Becoming, dissolution and remembrance - Holderlin's Tonal Theory -- Ch. 4. The preparation and function of the poet -- Ch. 5. Schlegel's formula - a philosophical ascesis in an equation -- Ch. 6. Poetry and the moral education of humankind: the romantic adaptation of Bildung -- Ch. 7. Novalis' 'Magical Idealism' -- Conclusion

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