Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel

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The artist should have as little desire to rule as to serve. He can only create, do nothing but create, and so help the state only by ... exalting politicians and economists into artists.

Karl Wilhelm Friedrich (later: von) Schlegel (10 March 1772 - 12 January 1829) was a German poet, critic and scholar. He was the younger brother of August Wilhelm Schlegel.

Quotes[edit]

People who are so eccentric that they are completely serious in being and becoming virtuous understand one another in everything, find one another easily, and form a silent opposition against the prevailing immorality that pretends to be morality.
The sole purpose of mankind is to engrave the thoughts of divinity onto the tablets of nature.
Expect nothing more from philosophy than a voice, language and grammar of the instinct for Godliness that lies at its origin.
  • Die romantische Poesie ist eine progressive Universalpoesie.
    • The romantic poetry is a progressive universal poetry.
    • Progressive Universalpoesie (1798); in the German language, particulary in the Romantic schools, "Poesie" means both poetry as genre and faculty and the source of creativity to form poetry.
  • Irony is a form of paradox. Paradox is what is good and great at the same time.
    • Aphorism 48, as translated in Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms (1968), p. 151
  • Wit is the appearance, the external flash of imagination. Thus its divinity, and the witty character of mysticism.
    • Aphorism 26, as translated in Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms (1968), p. 151
    • Variant translation:
    • Wit is the appearance, the external flash, of fantasy. Hence its divinity and the similarity to the wit of mysticism.
    • As translated in The Early Political Writings of the German Romantics (1996) edited by Frederick C. Beiser, p. 131
  • Honour is the mysticism of legality.
    • Aphorism 77, of Ideas as translated in The Early Political Writings of the German Romantics (1996) edited by Frederick C. Beiser, p. 131
  • It is equally fatal for the spirit to have a system and to have none. One must thus decide to join the two.
    • As quoted in Divine Madness : On Interpreting Literature, Music, and The Visual Arts Ironically (2002) by Lars Elleström, p. 50
    • Variant translations, of the paradoxical statement which begins in German with Es ist gleich tödlich für den Geist, ein System zu haben, und keins zu haben.:
    • It is equally fatal for the spirit, to have a system and not to have.
      • The Innovations of Idealism (2003) by Rüdiger Bubner, p. 193
    • It is equally fatal for the spirit to have a system and to have none. It will simply have to decide to combine the two.
      • As quoted in Friedrich Schlegel and the Emergence of Romantic Philosophy' (2007) by Elizabeth Millán-Zaibert, p. 203
    • It is equally fatal for the spirit to have a system, and to have none. So the spirit must indeed resolve to combine the two.
      • As quoted in Hegel : Lectures on the History of Philosophy 1825-6 : Volume I, (2009) by Robert F. Brown, footnote, p. 59
  • In the same way as philosophy loses sight of its true object and appropriate matter, when either it passes into and merges in theology, or meddles with external politics, so also does it mar its proper form when it attempts to mimic the rigorous method of mathematics.
    • Philosophy of Life, Lecture 1
  • In England … everything becomes professional … even the rogues of that island are pedants.
    • “Selected Aphorisms from the Lyceum (1797)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #67
  • Poetry can be criticized only through poetry. A critique which itself is not a work of art, either in content as representation of the necessary impression in the process of creation, or through its beautiful form and in its liberal tone in the spirit of the old Roman satire, has no right of citizenship in the realm of art.
    • “Selected Aphorisms from the Lyceum (1797)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #117
  • Die Romane sind die sokratischen Dialoge unserer Zeit. In diese liberale Form hat sich die Lebensweisheit vor der Schulweisheit geflüchtet.
    • Novels are the Socratic dialogs of our time. This free form has become the refuge of common sense in its flight from pedantry.
      • Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), “Critical Fragments,” § 26
  • Whoever hasn’t yet arrived at the clear realization that there might be a greatness existing entirely outside his own sphere and for which he might have absolutely no feeling; whoever hasn’t at least felt obscure intimations concerning the approximate location of this greatness in the geography of the human spirit: that person either has no genius in his own sphere, or else he hasn’t been educated to the level of the classic.
    • Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), “Critical Fragments,” § 36
  • Bei den Ausdrücken, „Seine Philosophie”, „Meine Philosophie”, erinnert man sich immer an die Worte im Nathan: „Wem eignet Gott? Was ist das für ein Gott, der einem Menschen eignet?”
    • At the words “his philosophy, my philosophy,” one is always reminded of that line in Nathan: ... “What kind of God is it who belongs to a man?”
      • Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991) § 99, reference is to Lessing, Nathan der Weise
  • Romantic poetry ... recognizes as its first commandment that the will of the poet can tolerate no law above itself.
    • Philosophical Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991) § 116
  • To live classically and to realize antiquity practically within oneself is the summit and goal of philology.
    • Philosophical Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991) § 147
  • Die Menge nicht zu achten, ist sittlich; sie zu ehren, ist rechtlich.
    • To disrespect the masses is moral; to honor them, lawful.
      • Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), “Athenaeum Fragments” § 211
  • Du sollst dir kein Ideal machen, weder eines Engels im Himmel, noch eines Helden aus einem Gedicht oder Roman, noch eines selbstgeträumten oder fantasirten; sondern du sollst einen Mann lieben, wie er ist.
    • Thou shalt not make unto thee any ideal, neither of an angel in heaven, nor of a hero in a poem or novel, nor one that is dreamed up or imagined: rather shalt thou love a man as he is.
      • Philosophical Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), “Athenaeum Fragments,” § 364
  • Menschen, die so ekzentrisch sind, im vollen Ernst tugendhaft zu sein und zu werden, verstehn sich überall, finden sich leicht, und bilden eine stille Opposition gegen die herrschende Unsittlichkeit, die eben für Sittlichkeit gilt.
    • People who are eccentric enough to be quite seriously virtuous understand each other everywhere, discover each other easily, and form a silent opposition to the ruling immorality that happens to pass for morality.
      • Philosophical Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991) § 414
  • There are people with whom everything they consider a means turns mysteriously into an end.
    • Philosophical Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991) § 428
  • The mind understands something only insofar as it absorbs it like a seed into itself, nurtures it, and lets it grow into blossom and fruit. Therefore scatter holy seeds into the soil of the spirit.
    • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 5
  • Nur derjenige kann ein Künstler seyn, welcher eine eigne Religion, eine originelle Ansicht des Unendlichen hat.
    • Only he who possesses a personal religion, an original view of infinity, can be an artist.
    • “Selected Ideas (1799-1800)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #13
  • Künstler ist ein jeder, dem es Ziel und Mitte des Daseyns ist, seinen Sinn zu bilden
    • An artist is he for whom the goal and center of life is to form his mind.
      • “Selected Ideas (1799-1800)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) # 20
  • Es ist der Menschheit eigen, dass sie sich über die Menschheit erheben muss.
    • The need to raise itself above humanity is humanity’s prime characteristic.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991) § 21
  • Tugend ist zur Energie gewordne Vernunft.
    • Virtue is reason which has become energy.
      • “Selected Ideas (1799-1800)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #23
  • Die wahre Tugend ist Genialität.
    • True virtue is genius.
      • “Selected Ideas (1799-1800)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #36
  • Die Pflicht der Kantianer verhält sich zu dem Gebot der Ehre, der Stimme des Berufs und der Gottheit in uns, wie die getrocknete Pflanze zur frischen Blume am lebenden Stamme.
    • The Kantians’ conception of duty relates to the commandment of honor, the voice of God and one’s calling in us, as the dried plant to the fresh flower on the living stem.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 39
  • Was die Menschen unter den andern Bildungen der Erde, das sind die Künstler unter den Menschen
    • What men are among the other formations of the earth, artists are among men.
      • “Selected Ideas (1799-1800)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) # 43
  • Ein Mittler ist derjenige, der Göttliches in sich wahrnimmt, und sich selbst vernichtend Preis giebt, um dieses Göttliche zu verkündigen, mitzutheilen, und darzustellen allen Menschen in Sitten und Thaten, in Worten und Werken.
    • A mediator is one who perceives the divinity within himself and who self-destructively sacrifices himself in order to reveal, communicate, and represent to all mankind this divinity in his conduct and actions, in his words and works.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 44
  • Ein Künstler ist, wer sein Centrum in sich selbst hat. Wem es da fehlt, der muss einen bestimmten Führer und Mittler ausser sich wählen.
    • An artist is someone who carries his center within himself. Whoever lacks such a center has to choose some particular leader and mediator outside of himself.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 45
  • Dem Bunde der Künstler einen bestimmten Zweck geben, das heisst ein dürftiges Institut an die Stelle des ewigen Vereins setzen; das heisst die Gemeinde der Heiligen zum Staat erniedrigen.
    • To give the community of artists a particular purpose would mean ... debasing the community of saints into a state.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 49
  • Der Künstler darf eben so wenig herrschen als dienen wollen. 15 Er kann nur bilden, nichts als bilden, für den Staat also nur das thun, dass er Herrscher und Diener bilde, dass er Politiker und Oekonomen zu Künstlern erhebe.
    • The artist should have as little desire to rule as to serve. He can only create, do nothing but create, and so help the state only by ... exalting politicians and economists into artists.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 54
  • Grade die Individualität ist das Ursprüngliche und Ewige im Menschen; an der Personalität ist so viel nicht gelegen. Die Bildung und Entwicklung dieser Individualität als höchsten Beruf zu treiben, wäre ein göttlicher Egoismus.
    • It is individuality which is the original and eternal within man; personality doesn’t matter so much. To pursue the education and development of this individuality as one’s highest vocation would be a divine egoism.
      • “Selected Ideas (1799-1800)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) # 60
  • Man hat nur so viel Moral, als man Philosophie und Poesie hat.
    • One has only as much morality as one has philosophy and poetry.
      • “Selected Ideas (1799-1800)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #62
  • Durch die Künstler wird die Menschheit ein Individuum, indem sie Vor welt und Nachwelt in der Gegenwart verknüpfen. Sie sind das höhere Seelenorgan, wo die Lebensgeister der ganzen 15 äussern Menschheit zusammentreffen und in welchem die innere zunächst wirkt.
    • Through artists mankind becomes an individual, in that they unite the past and the future in the present. They are the higher organ of the soul, where the life spirits of entire external mankind meet and in which inner mankind first acts.
      • “Selected Ideas (1799-1800)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #64 [cf. Heidegger]
  • Nur durch die Bildung wird der Mensch, der es ganz ist überall menschlich und von Menschheit durchdrungen.
    • Only by being cultivated does a human being ... become altogether human and permeated by humanity.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 65
  • Moralität ohne Sinn für Paradoxie ist gemein.
    • Morality without sense for paradox is vulgar.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 76
  • Man lebt nur insofern man nach seinen eignen Ideen lebt. Die Grundsätze sind nur Mittel, der Beruf ist Zweck an sich.
    • You live only insofar as you live according to your own ideas.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 82
  • Du wolltest die Philosophie zerstören, und die Poesie, um Raum zu gewinnen für die Religion und Moral, die du verkanntest: aber du hast nichts zerstören können als dich selber.
    • You wanted to destroy philosophy and poetry in order to make room for religion and morality
      • “Selected Ideas (1799-1800)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (1968) #90
  • Auf eine ähnliche Weise sollen in der vollkommnen Litteratur alle Bücher nur Ein Buch seyn, und in einem solchen ewig werdenden Buche wird das Evangelium der Menschheit und der Bildung offenbart werden.
    • In a perfect literature all books should be only a single book, and in such an eternally developing book, the gospel of humanity and culture will be revealed.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 95
  • Denke dir ein Endliches ins Unendliche gebildet, so denkst du einen Menschen.
    • Think of something finite molded into the infinite, and you think of man.
      • “Selected Ideas (1799-1800)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (1968) #98
  • Wo Politik ist oder Oekonomie, da ist keine Moral.
    • Where there is politics or economics, there is no morality.
      • “Selected Ideas (1799-1800)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (1968) #101
  • Nicht in die politische Welt verschleudere du Glauben und Liebe, aber in der göttlichen Welt der Wissenschaft und der Kunst opfre dein Innerstes in den heiligen Feuerstrom ewiger Bildung.
    • Do not waste your faith and love on the political world, but, in the divine world of science and art, offer up your inmost being in a fiery stream of eternal creation.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 106
  • Was sich thun lässt, so lange Philosophie und Poesie getrennt sind, ist gethan und vollendet. Also ist die Zeit nun da, beyde zu vereinigen.
    • Whatever can be done while poetry and philosophy are separated has been done and accomplished. So the time has come to unite the two.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 108
  • Deute den lieblichen Schein und mache Ernst aus dem Spiel, so wirst du das Centrum fassen und die verehrte Kunst in höherm Lichte wieder finden.
    • Take playfulness seriously, and you will apprehend what is at the center and rediscover you revered art in a more sublime light.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 109
  • Wie die Senatoren der Römer sind die wahren Künstler ein Volk von Königen.
    • Like the Roman senators, true artists are a nation of kings.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 114
  • Nur wer einig ist mit der Welt kann einig seyn mit sich selbst.
    • Only a man who is at one with the world can be at one with himself.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 130
  • Worauf bin ich stolz und darf ich stolz seyn als Künstler?Auf den Entschluss, der mich auf ewig von (29) allem Gemeinen absonderte und isolirte
    • What am I proud of, and what can I be proud of as an artist? Of the decision that separated and isolated me forever from everything ordinary.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 136
  • Es giebt keine Selbstkenntniss als die historische. Niemand weiss was er ist, wer nicht weiss was seine Genossen sind
    • There is no self-knowledge except historical self-knowledge. No one knows what he is if he doesn’t know what his contemporaries are.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 139
  • Selbst in den äusserlichen Gebräuchen sollte sich die Lebensart der Künstler von der Lebensart der übrigen Menschen durchaus unterscheiden. Sie sind Braminen, eine höhere Kaste, aber nicht durch Geburt sondern durch freye Selbsteinweihung geadelt.
    • The life of the artist should be distinguished from that of all other people, even in external habits. They are Brahmins, a higher caste, not ennobled by birth, however, but through deliberate self-initiation.
      • “Selected Ideas (1799-1800)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) # 146
    • Variant translation: Even in their outward behavior, the lives of artists should differ completely from the lives of other men. They are Brahmins, a higher caste: ennobled not by birth, but by free self-consecration.
      • “Ideas,” Lucinde and the Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991), § 146
  • Life is writing. The sole purpose of mankind is to engrave the thoughts of divinity onto the tablets of nature.
    • “On Philosophy: To Dorothea,” in Theory as Practice (1997), p. 420
  • Expect nothing more from philosophy than a voice, language and grammar of the instinct for Godliness that lies at its origin, and, essentially, is philosophy itself.
    • “On Philosophy: To Dorothea,” in Theory as Practice (1997), p. 421

Athenäum (1798 - 1800)[edit]

Quotes from the journal he founded with his brother August Wilhelm Schlegel
  • Der Historiker ist ein rückwärtsgekehrter Prophet.
    • The historian is a reversed prophet.
    • Athenäum, I, 2, 20: Fragmente
  • Der Satan der italienischen und englischen Dichter mag poetischer sein; aber der deutsche Satan ist satanischer; und insofern könnte man sagen, der Satan sei eine deutsche Erfindung.
    • The Satan of the Italian and English poets may be poetic; but the German Satan is satanic; and thus one could say that Satan is a German invention.
    • Athenäumsfragmente 379; the Italian and English poets referred to are Dante, and John Milton.
  • If there is an invisible church, then it is of the great paradox, which is inseparable from morality, and which must be distinguished from the merely philosophical. People who are so eccentric that they are completely serious in being and becoming virtuous understand one another in everything, find one another easily, and form a silent opposition against the prevailing immorality that pretends to be morality. A certain mysticism of expression, which joined with romantic fantasy and grammatical understanding, can be something charming and good, often serves as a symbol of their beautiful secrets.
    • Athenäumsfragmente 414
  • Prudishness is pretense of innocence without innocence. Women have to remain prudish as long as men are sentimental, dense, and evil enough to demand of them eternal innocence and lack of education. For innocence is the only thing which can ennoble lack of education.
    • “Selected Aphorisms from the Athenaeum (1798)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #31
  • One can only become a philosopher, but not be one. As one believes he is a philosopher, he stops being one.
    • “Selected Aphorisms from the Athenaeum (1798)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #54
  • Jeder ungebildete Mensch ist die Karikatur von sich selbst.
    • Every uneducated person is a caricature of himself.
      • “Selected Aphorisms from the Athenaeum (1798)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #63
  • Moderation is the spirit of castrated narrow-mindedness.
    • “Selected Aphorisms from the Athenaeum (1798)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #64
  • Whoever does not philosophize for the sake of philosophy, but rather uses philosophy as a means, is a sophist.
    • “Selected Aphorisms from the Athenaeum (1798)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #96
  • Religion is usually nothing but a supplement to or even a substitute for education, and nothing is religious in the strict sense which is not a product of freedom.
    • “Selected Aphorisms from the Athenaeum (1798)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #233
  • Fragmente, sagen Sie, wären die eigentliche Form der Universalphilosophie.
    • Aphorisms are the true form of the universal philosophy.
      • “A” in “Selected Aphorisms from the Athenaeum (1798)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #259

Quotes about Friedrich Schlegel[edit]

  • In a man like Friedrich von Schlegel the courage to be as an individual self produced complete neglect of participation, but it also produced, in reaction to the emptiness of this self-affirmation, the desire to return to a collective. Schlegel, and with him many extreme individualists in the last hundred years, became Roman Catholics. The courage to be as oneself broke down, and one turned to an institutional embodiment of the courage to be as a part.

External links[edit]