Dalia Nassar
University of Sydney
The philosophical reception of German Romanticism, lead by Manfred Frank, has focused on Novalis’ early notes while studying Fichte, titled by the editors of the critical edition, the Fichte-Studien. Frank’s claim that these notes contain the most important philosophical contribution of Romanticism has played an especially influential role in the Anglo-American interpretations of Novalis and of philosophical Romanticism in general. In this paper I contest the coherency of these notes, and argue that a proper interpretation of Novalis must take into account his later works as well (something which surprisingly few American scholars do). In addition, I argue that the Fichte-Studien contain two mutually exclusive conceptions of being and the status of being, and show that in addition to Frank’s “skeptical realist” conception, a second, more idealist conception, can be found in the notes—a conception, I show, which is more in line with Novalis’ later writings. I admit, however, that although this more idealist understanding of being appears to resolve many interpretive issues, these notes are ultimately inconclusive and thus cannot be the only source for interpreting Novalis as philosopher. Rather, they can only serve as the stepping-stone from which one can begin to see the questions and concerns which occupy Novalis from this early stage, without, however, providing any answers. In this way, I hope to challenge the contemporary reception of philosophical Romanticism, and of Novalis in particular.
Keywords Philosophical Romanticism  Manfred Frank  Novalis  Fichte-Studien
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DOI 10.1007/bf03375807
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