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The Feet at the Foot of the Curtain: The Individual Subject in the Work of Friedrich Schlegel, Arthur Schopenhauer and Max Stirner

Campbell, Simon. 2016. The Feet at the Foot of the Curtain: The Individual Subject in the Work of Friedrich Schlegel, Arthur Schopenhauer and Max Stirner. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The present thesis does not, following the cautionary example of Dupuis and Cotonet, seek to define romanticism. The fatuity of their lexigraphical project, in light of Friedrich Schlegel’s expansive ‘theory’ of ‘romantic poetry’, soon becomes clear. Schlegel’s ‘theory’ aspired to elude categorisation and exceed definitive bounds. Dupuis and Cotonet had set out, to their foolish credit, to define the indefinable. However, it is possible to identify a characteristic motif of romanticism from Schlegel’s ‘inceptive’ theory. The critic extended his vision, somewhat fastidiously, to nature itself. His subject, the poet, was privy to its inestimable beauty; he shared a common delitescent principle, its ‘inmost’ being. The poet, like nature, was infinite and universal in scope and, ultimately, indefinable. Schlegel was not alone. Schopenhauer identified a similar quality, nature’s will; it was no less universal, infinite or explicable than that which resided in the ‘heart’ of Schlegel’s poet. It differed in one dramatic respect: it was loathsome. Nonetheless, Schlegel and Schopenhauer shared a common interest; it was of a decidedly visceral order. The value accorded to their respective subjects was determined by a universal force of nature which lurked about ‘within’ him. It bore little resemblance to anything remotely human. The question of romanticism was not, as Dupuis and Cotonet believed, purely a lexigraphical concern; it strayed into the realms of ontology. Schlegel and Schopenhauer’s spectral account, prioritising as they did, the subject’s mysterious ‘inmost nature’ did a disservice to the singular, bodily person. Max Stirner, on the other hand, abhorred all general notions and all talk of ‘universal natures’; nevertheless, he also regarded the subject as the wellspring of infinite potential. Unlike Schlegel and Schopenhauer, Stirner emphasised the subject’s determinate and definitive standing as a singular, egocentric ‘personality’. What, then, can one ascertain about the ‘true’ nature of the individual subject?

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00019470

Keywords:

Schopenhauer, Stirner, Schlegel, individuality

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

History

Date:

30 November 2016

Item ID:

19470

Date Deposited:

04 Jan 2017 11:34

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:22

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/19470

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