Spinoza


A limb as such cannot be conceived as being idle. According to its concept, an organ is in movement. Therefore, it is partly directly connected with its stimulus, and partly indirectly, via the product. A corpse conceived in a dead fashion wouldn’t yield information about the force and its connection with the body. Observe the living organ and the limb in movement.

Entry 453 from Novalis’ Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia. David W. Wood, trans. (Albany: 2007.)

… Is it possible to characterize anything but individuals? Isn’t whatever can’t be multiplied after a certain given point just as much a historical entity as something that can no longer be divided Aren’t all systems individuals just as all individuals are systems at least in embryo and tendency? Isn’t every real entity historical? Aren’t there individuals who contain within themselves whole systems of individuals?

– excerpt of Friedrich Schlegel’s fragment no. 243 from the Athenaeum Fragments (1798), trans. by Peter Firchow.

It’s only prejudice and presumption that maintains there is only a single mediator between God and man. For the perfect Christian — whom in this respect Spinoza probably resembles most — everything would really have to be a mediator.

– Friedrich Schlegel’s fragment no. 234 from the Athenaeum Fragments (1798), trans. by Peter Firchow.

Romantic poetry is a progressive, universal poetry. Its aim isn’t merely to reunite all the separate species of poetry and put poetry in touch with philosophy and rhetoric. It tries to and should mix and fuse poetry and prose, inspiration and criticism, the poetry of art and the poetry of nature; and make poetry lively and sociable, and life and society poetical; poeticize wit and fill and saturate the forms of art with every kind of good, solid matter for instruction, and animate them with the pulsations of humor. It embraces everything that is purely poetic, from the greatest systems of art, containing within them still further systems, to the sigh, the kiss that the poetizing child breathes forth in artless song. It can so lose itself in what it describes that one might believe it exists only to characterize poetical individuals of all sorts; and yet there is still no form so fit for expressing the entire spirit of the author: so that many artists who started out to write only a novel ended u by providing us with portraits of themselves…. Romantic poetry is in the arts what wit is in philosophy, and what society and sociability, friendship and love are in life. Other kinds of poetry are finished and are now capable of being fully analyzed. The romantic kind of poetry is still in the state of becoming; that, in fact, is its real essence: that it should forever be becoming and never be perfected. It can be exhausted by no theory and only a divinatory criticism would dare try to characterize its ideal. It alone is infinite, just as it alone is free; and it recognizes as its first commandment that the will of the poet can tolerate no law above itself. The romantic kind of poetry is the only one that is more than a kind, that is, as it were, poetry itself: for in a certain sense all poetry is or should be romantic.

– excerpt of Friedrich Schlegel’s fragment no. 116 from the Athenaeum Fragments (1798), trans. by Peter Firchow.

The principle of contradiction is by no means to be equated with the principle of analysis: namely, of the absolute kind of analysis which alone deserves the name, the chemical decomposition of an individual into his simplest and most basic components.

– Friedrich Schlegel’s fragment no. 83 from the Athenaeum Fragments (1798), trans. by Peter Firchow.