Romanticism, German

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DC094-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 10, 2020, from

1. Intellectual geography

Romanticism was a European-wide literary and artistic movement, appearing chiefly in Germany, England, Italy and France, but also in virtually every other country. It began in the late eighteenth century, fully blossomed by the 1830s and began to dissipate by mid-century; some currents continued until the late nineteenth century. Although Romanticism is usually understood as an artistic or literary movement, it also has an important place in the history of philosophy. While rarely systematic, the Romantics developed original and influential ideas in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and politics.

Considered in all its breadth, it is impossible to generalize about Romanticism. The movement differed from country to country and underwent many changes, one stage often contradicting another. To make any generalization about Romanticism, therefore, it is necessary to limit oneself to a specific time and place. It is best to begin with German Romanticism, partly because its ideas were deeply influential elsewhere, and partly because, in many respects, it marks the beginning of the movement as a whole.

German Romanticism is often divided into three phases: Frühromantik (early Romanticism) from 1797 to 1802; Hochromantik (high Romanticism) from 1803 to 1815; and Spätromantik (late Romanticism) from 1816 to 1830. From a philosophical viewpoint, the most important phase was Frühromantik, which flourished chiefly in the literary salons of Berlin and Jena. The leading figures of the early Romantic circle were August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767–1845), his brother Friedrich Schlegel (1772–1829), Ludwig Tieck (1773–1853), Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder (1773–1798), Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), and Friedrich von Hardenberg (1772–1801), chiefly known by his pseudonym ‘Novalis’. Other important thinkers on the fringes of this circle and connected with it in various ways and from time to time include Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835), Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843) and August Ludwig Hülsen (1765–1810). The most important philosophers of the circle were Friedrich Schlegel, Schelling, Schleiermacher and Novalis. It is chiefly their views that are summarized below.

Citing this article:
Beiser, Frederick. Intellectual geography. Romanticism, German, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DC094-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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