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Idealistic Studies

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published on October 22, 2019

Fiacha D. Heneghan

Are the Frühromantiker Platonists?

How to classify the artistic and philosophical movement of Early German Romanticism (die Frühromantik) remains a topic of ongoing disagreement. I consider the views of two of the leading interpreters—Frederick Beiser and Manfred Frank—and argue that the latter’s are closer to the truth. Beiser, however, has noticed a lacuna in the literature surrounding the metaphysics and epistemology of the Romantics, namely their debt to an ascendant Plato during their intellectual development. This is right, but Beiser’s idealist reading of the Romantics leans heavily on Platonic sources that are fundamentally incompatible with a consistent anti-foundationalist strain in Romantic thought. I argue that it is unlikely that Plato influenced the Romantics in the way Beiser suggests.

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