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Idealistic Studies

Volume 37, Issue 1, Spring 2007

Nathan Ross
Pages 15-28
DOI: 10.5840/idstudies20073717

The Mythic Grounding of Practical Philosophy in Hölderlin’s On Religion

This essay interprets Hölderlin’s prose fragment On Religion as an extension of and response to The Oldest System Program of German Idealism. After a brief discussion of the historical reasons for considering these fragments in this relation, I argue that On Religion demonstrates Hölderlin’s sympathy to the goals of the System Program, but that it also provides a more satisfactory account of how Hölderlin planned to make good on the goals presented in the System Program. I argue that On Religion develops a conception of freedom that can only be ‘grounded’ through mythic, poetic discourse. I then explore the political implications of this point and claim that On Religion considers the creation of mythology as a public, communal event, in which the poet plays the role of giving measure and form, but not content, to the creation of mythology.