Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Revitalizing Romanticism: Novalis' "Fichte Studien" and the Philosophy of Organic Nonclosure
by Jones, Kristin Alise, Ph.D., Harvard University, 2013, 206; 3566943
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation offers a re-interpretation of Novalis' Fichte Studien. I argue that several recent scholarly readings of this text unnecessarily exclude "organicism," or a panentheistic notion of the Absolute, in favor of "nonclosure," or the endless, because impossibly completed search for knowledge of the Absolute. My reading instead shows that, in his earliest philosophical text, Novalis makes the case for a Kantian discursive consciousness that can know itself, on Jacobian grounds, to be the byproduct (or accident) of a self-conditioning being or organism, and even more specifically a byproduct of God's panentheistic organism, at the same time that Novalis does not allow the possibility of discursive immediacy with that absolute standpoint; the epistemic consequence is that, while empirical science can proceed in the good faith that it makes valid reference to being, nonetheless it can never know its description of being to be final or complete. I call this position "organic nonclosure," and argue that Novalis holds it consistently throughout his very brief philosophical career. The keys to understanding Novalis' reconciliation of organicism and nonclosure are contextual and textual. Contextually, Novalis appreciates the inadvertent organicism in Jacobi's metacritique of Kant and also applies Jacobi's organicist metacritique to Fichte as well, with the result that Novalis' position in the Fichte Studien bears much resemblance to Herder's panentheistic ontology and modest epistemology. Textually, Novalis engages in a polysemy in the fragments of his Fichte Studien that performs the dependence of the sphere of empirical consciousness on a higher, intellectually intuitive being (a being that could only be a divinely creative intellection), and, simultaneously, the impossibility of presenting that identity in discursive terms. In other words, for Novalis, human knowledge of the existence of the organicist Absolute is enabled by, but also limited to, the merely contingent, empirical, and private experience of the dependence of the human subjective standpoint on an objectivity simply given to it.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Burgard, Peter
Commitee: Burgard, Peter, Fenves, Peter, Wilczek, Markus
School: Harvard University
Department: Germanic Languages and Literatures
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 74/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Germanic literature, Philosophy
Keywords: Fichte studies, Nonclosure, Novalis, Organicism, Panentheism, Systematic philosophy
Publication Number: 3566943
ISBN: 978-1-303-18510-6
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