Thursday, February 17, 2005

Germany 1840s

This is a description of Berlin in the 1840's as Friedrich Schelling was brought in by Friedrich IV's culture of Minister to quell the 'intellectual uprising' caused by Hegel's Philosophy of Sprit. Schelling was really the last Classical philosopher in Germany and the church/government were becoming fed up with the "young Hegelians" who were advocating for a break with established religion. Hegel's mentor, Johann Fichte was "dismissed" from his position at the University of Jena for heresy, 30 years earlier.

"Ask anybody in Berlin today on what field the battle for dominion over German public opinion in politics and religion, that is, over Germany itself, is being fought, and if he has any idea of the power of the mind over the world he will reply that this battlefield is the University, in particular Lecture Hall No. 6, where Schelling is giving his lectures on the Philosophy of Revelation. For at the moment all the separate oppositions which contend with Hegel's philosophy for this dominion are obscured, blurred and pushed into the background by the one opposition of Schelling; all the attackers who stand outside philosophy, Stahl, Hengstenberg, Neander, are making way for a fighter who is expected to give battle to the unconquered on his own ground. And the battle is indeed peculiar enough. Two old friends of younger days, room mates at the Tübingen theological seminary, are after forty years meeting each other again face to face as opponents; one of them ten years dead but more alive than ever in his pupils; the other, as the latter say, intellectually dead for three decades, but now suddenly claiming for himself the full power and authority of life. Anybody who is sufficiently "impartial" to profess himself equally alien to both, that is, to be no Hegelian, for surely nobody can as yet declare himself on the side of Schelling after the few words he has said - anybody then, who possesses this vaunted advantage of "impartiality" will see in the declaration of Hegel's death pronounced by Schelling's appearance in Berlin, the vengeance of the gods for the declaration of Schelling's death which Hegel himself pronounced in his time. ‘An imposing, colourful audience has assembled to witness the battle. At the front the notables of the University, the leading lights of science, men everyone of whom has created a trend of his own; for them the seats nearest to the rostrum have been reserved, and behind them, jumbled together as chance brought them to the hall, representatives of all walks of life, nations, and religious beliefs. In the midst of high-spirited youths there sits here and there a grey-breaded staff officer and next to him perhaps, quite unembarrassed, a volunteer who in any other society would not know what to do for reverence towards such a high-ranking superior. Old doctors and ecclesiastics, the jubilee of whose matriculation can soon be celebrated feel the long-forgotten student haunting their minds again and are back in college. Judaism and Islam want to see what Christian revelation is all about: German, French, English, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, modern Greek and Turkish, one can hear them all spoken together, - then the signal for silence sounds and Schelling mounts the rostrum."


Blogger matt said...


The influence of intellectual cultural movements, although diminished to the point of near extinction in the United States, presently exhibits an influential position in many countries across Europe and the Middle East. Logical foundations, along with an extensive 'will to action', while necessary are often contingent upon a variety of factors. Yet history shows that any sort of social/cultural change must come from the constant progression and debate of thought. This is not a duty. It is a condition of time as such. It seems that discussion about the failures of current ideology have proven themselves to be restrictive; limiting the potential to make decisions for ourselves; Only a simple base of principles are needed. Non-aggression and counter culture movements have demonstrated their inefficiencies. Constructing a balanced system of values is necessary to consider itself valid. The formulation of these values, however, may prove to be a difficult task......

11:26 PM  
Blogger matt said...

Proposals for change.

Ok, that was inspirational enough. Now to propose something other than an incoherent rant. Moral systems, though often derived from ideological (often a priori, whatever we've decided that means) rather than empirical foundations, contribute only a fraction to the multi-faceted nature of more complex societal values and standards. A re-examination of the process of thought itself, or in another sense, the ways in which we view our own thought processes, seems a crucial avenue in which the reformulation of present moral values can progress.

We must first examine our own individual activities. This is easiest to observe as a consumer in a consumer environment. Understanding where each product comes from (the corporation that owns the rights to it, the environmental and human forces necessary for its production) and the consequences arising from its purchase and consumption, form a possible starting point in which we can analyze our relations with others. This is exactly the way in which individual examinations (in terms of practical activity) furthers our understanding about 'moral interaction' with eachother.
We can also further this argument outside of the consumer domain. Each individual action (i.e. speech, dispositional behavior) has its consequences. Considering such statements, each moment reveals itself as a crucial 'moral' instance. It seems then, that an analysis of what constitutes a 'positive' or 'negative' consequence will prove to define acceptable standards of action. One could predict that an argument in a context such as this is inevitable to end up culminating in a sort of altruism. I dont find this to be a problem, as long as each logical step is sufficiently accounted for.

12:07 AM  

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