Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 September 2009
The very idea of connecting Kant and Romanticism has raised and no doubt will continue to raise hackles among some Kant scholars. These critics typically view Kant as the last great defender of Enlightenment values in the modern era of philosophy, while viewing Romanticism as a reactionary, counterenlightenment development expressing irrationalist tendencies and forces whose aims are anathema to the spirit of liberty and equality. This view continues to prevail in the face of much new scholarship documenting the broad spectrum of Enlightenment positions and controversies, and in spite of the fact that Kant himself was a great admirer, and in some cases friend, of several major counterenlightenment figures. Kant did not directly engage the so-called “Jena school of Romantics” that included the Schlegels, Schelling, and Novalis. Yet his philosophy loomed so large in the German academic context that there can be no question of his influence on them. Indeed one could argue that it is in the claim to be Kant's successor and remediator that Fichte attracted and fascinated the early Romantics. Kant repudiated Fichte's appropriation of his philosophy, and Fichte's Doctrine of Scientific Knowledge was criticized by the early Romantics. They quickly came to reject Fichte's basic assumptions. It is a major contention of the latter part of this book that this rejection, most forcefully stated in Novalis' Fichte Studies, is fundamentally a rejection on Kantian grounds and bears the mark of Kant's aesthetic theory.