Plotinus in the Romantic Philosophy of Novalis



The Early German Romantics, or Frühromantiker, encountered the Platonic patrimony within the context of the wider sense of spiritual crisis that characterised the final decade of the eighteenth century in Germany, and which gave birth to the movement itself. Public discourse at the time was defined by two intellectual disputes, the Pantheismusstreit (pantheism controversy) and the Atheismusstreit (atheism controversy). Together these electrified discussion in the salons and the media with talk of fatalism, atheism and nihilism in relation to the conclusions of Spinoza’s rationalism and Fichte’s idealism. In was in this context that Friedrich von Hardenburg, better known by his nom de plume Novalis, developed his philosophy of Romanticism. Novalis’ philosophical project sought to retain the advantages of both positions, whilst overcoming their limitations by transcending the immanent logic of both. Essential to the development of Novalis’ Romantic philosophy was his exposure to Plotinus, whose thought would constitute the imaginative fulcrum upon which Novalis’ transcendence of immanent reasoning could proceed. In examining Novalis’ exposure to Plotinus, this article project examines a key component of the Romantic project to bring together pantheism and idealism, whilst overcoming the limitations of both, and we see this task undertaken in the context of the movement’s drawing upon the resources of the Platonic tradition. 

Current Condition: The article is currently under review (December 2019).