Was ist Gott?: the representation of the Divine in Friedrich Hölderlin Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Spencer, Thomas R.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • This dissertation investigates the tension between religious and philosophical ways of representing the divine in the romantic-age German poet Friedrich Hölderlin and his contemporaries. While religion--especially the Judeo-Christian tradition--represents the divine as being partly or wholly "beyond" this world, philosophy tends to situate the divine within a "worldly" or immanent system, such as the Hegelian system of Geist. While Hölderlin's poetry has a reflective form closely related to Hegelian dialectic, it also tends to represent the divine as transcendent and therefore outside the competence of dialectic. Furthermore, Hölderlin repeatedly represents divine experience in terms of the spontaneous "event," which points back to the biblical model of revelation rather than to a philosophical notion of God as a universal substance (Spinoza and Hegel) or an "idea of reason" (Kant). In reading Hölderlin this way, I suggest that poetry is a form of discourse in which other historical discourses--in this case: theology and philosophy--can encounter one another without being reduced to the one or the other. His openness to this irreducible tension is, I suggest, what distinguishes Hölderlin from intellectual contemporaries such as Fichte, Schleiermacher, and Hegel, and is partly what facilitates the lively critical interest in him today.
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  • Kuzniar, Alice A.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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