Pier Francesco Corvino

The People of the Light and The Light of the Peoples. On Über die Lappen (1842) by Henrich Steffens

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This paper examines a little-known work by Naturphilosoph Henrich Steffens (1773-1845), titled Über die Lappen und Pastor N.J.C.V. Stockfleth’s Wirksamkeit unter diesen. Despite looking like a mere pièce d’occasion the text represents both an important insight into Steffens’ thought and a highly original take on the Romantic anthropological debate, especially with regard to the long-standing problem of race differences. In particular, the Über die Lappen raises some well-founded objections about the alleged subalternity of some races, indirectly questioning the racist outlet of the anthropological debate in the twentieth century. Against such assumptions Steffens introduces the possibility of a cross-cultural outcome for anthropology, which will end up being surprisingly grounded in a theodicy of race and a philosophical- theological anthropology.


  • Sami culture
  • Lutheran Mission
  • Naturphilosophie
  • Anthropodicy
  • Incarnation
  • Interculturality
  • Romantic anthropology


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