Friedrich Schlegels early Romantic notion of religion in relation to two presuppositions of the Enlightenment

Asko Nivala


German early Romanticism was an intellectual movement that originated in the era between the great French Revolution of 1789 and the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars in 1803. Usually, it is defined in contrast to the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment is presented as the age of reason, criticism and scientific naturalism, while the Romantics are portrayed as its reactionary enemies. According to a still customary prejudice, Romanticism was the age of exaggerated emotions, authoritarian dogmatism and mystical superstition. However, our notion of the Enlightenment has undergone changes in recent decades. Because the traditional antagonism between Aufklärung and Frühromantik has become questionable, the Romantic revival of religion needs reconsideration. In this paper, Nivala proposes an argument why the Romantics did not fall into reactionary irrationalism. His discussion focuses on one person, Friedrich Schlegel (1772–1829). Nivala presents how two vital presuppositions of the Enlightenment, naturalism and criticism, were reinterpreted by Schlegel as pantheism and mysticism.

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