Exposing romanticism : philosophy, literature, and the incomplete absolute
The aim of this thesis is to present the fundamental philosophical positions of Early German Romanticism, focusing on the three following writers: J. C. F. Holderlin, Novalis, and F. Schlegel. Chapter 1 begins with an examination of the first-philosophical, or ontological foundations of Romanticism and discusses its appropriation and critique of the work of Fichte, arriving at an elucidation of Romantic ontology as an ontology of differencing and production. The second chapter looks at how epistemology is transformed, in the hands of the Romantics, and due to the attention they paid to language, semiotic theory, and the operations of irony in discourse, into poetology - a theory of knowledge, into a theory of poetic production. In the third chapter a confrontation between the philosophical positions of Romanticism and those of the main currents of German Idealism (Schelling, Hegel) is undertaken; through this confrontation, the essential trait of Romantic thought is arrived at, namely the thought of an incomplete Absolute, as opposed to the absolute as totality in Idealism. The final chapter considers the avenue left open by the notion of the incomplete Absolute, and the Romantics' chief legacy, namely the theory of literature; literature is thus seen as coextensive with philosophy, and analysed under three conceptual categories (the theory of genre, the fragment, criticism) which all betray their provenance from the thought lying at the core of Romanticism: the incomplete Absolute. Finally, in the conclusion a summation of this exposition of romanticism is presented, alongside a brief consideration of the relevance of the Romantic project in contemporary critical/philosophical debates.