Allen Speight

Beauty, Tragedy and the Reich Gottes. Re-Examining the Symphilosophieren between Hegel and Hölderlin at Frankfurt

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Keywords: Tragedy, Aesthetics, Beautiful Soul, Hyperion, Empedocles.

This essay focuses on the shared philosophical life between Hegel and Hölderlin in the formative years following Hegel’s arrival in Frankfurt in early 1797 to the friends’ departure from each other in 1800. In particular, it focuses on two key areas of concern: (1) the new importance of the aesthetic for religion, philosophy and politics, including the influence that Hölderlin’s notions of beauty and the unity of opposites had on Hegel; and (2) ways in which these aspirations to unity encountered demands within historical circumstances – of human need and suffering; of the weight of positivity and conventionality; and of what both authors call «fate» – that affect the revisions to their later work within this period, especially the final draft of Hegel’s Frankfurt fragments about Jesus and the third draft of Hölderlin’s Empedocles. A comparison of these texts helps illuminate the culminating moments of the Frankfurt symphilosophieren of the two friends during this period and also can be seen to anticipate key divergences in the later thought of the two friends.

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