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Between rationalism and romanticism: F.H. Jacobi's novel ALLWILL and the Aufklärung's self-conception Eschelmüller, Richard Ludwig

Abstract

This paper addresses a problem in the history of philosophy concerning the issue of moral autonomy within the context of the German Enlightenment. More specifically, it explores the way in which Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi addressed this problem in his 1793 philosophical novel Allwill. The first chapter analyzes the three phases of an ongoing philosophical debate between pietists and rationalists over the definition of Enlightenment By contrasting the rationalism of the first phase with the romantic reaction that characterized the second phase, the first chapter outlines the general historical and philosophical background of the third phase during which thinkers of the Aufklarung explicitly addressed the question of true and false Enlightenment. The second chapter begins with an analysis of Jacobi's role in the "Pantheism dispute" with Moses Mendelssohn regarding the issue of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's alleged Spinozism, and then traces the development of Jacobi's Counter-Enlightenment stance through a brief biographical sketch of his political and philosophical career. The third chapter looks at Jacobi's exploration of the darker side of the Sturm und Drang's cult of nature and feeling in his novel Allwill. The analysis here focuses on Jacobi's dual critique of disengaged rationalism and subjective emotivism, neither of which, in his view, could be the basis for moral autonomy. The final chapter concludes with a discussion of how Jacobi's Counter-Enlightenment stance may be interpreted within the larger context of enlightenment naturalism.

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