The Young Hegel Georg LukŠcs 1938

Part III. Rationale and Defence of Objective Idealism (Jena 1801-1803)

In the letter to Schelling in which Hegel announced his intention of coming to Jena, he admitted that he felt apprehensive at the prospect of the ‘riotous literary life’ of the town. His anxiety, which was evidently aroused by the fact that Jena was the focal point of the Romantic Movement, was no longer as well-founded as it might have been a little earlier. The group of Romantic poets and thinkers with whom Schelling had been closely associated had gradually broken up. The Athenšum, the movement’s journal published by the Schlegel brothers, had ceased to appear. Relations had become increasingly tense between Schelling and Friedrich Schlegel, the chief theoretician of the Romantic school. The divorce of August Wilhelm Schlegel from his wife Caroline and her subsequent marriage to Schelling had introduced personal sources of conflict to aggravate the intellectual disagreements. By the time Hegel arrived, Jena had ceased to be the centre of the Romantic Movement.

Yet another figure of great philosophical importance was lost to Jena at this time, namely Fichte. In 1798-9 Fichte had been the centre of a storm which had been triggered off by accusations that he was an atheist, and this had led eventually to his resignation from his Chair in Jena and his move to Berlin. This conflict united Fichte, Schelling and the Romantics for the last time in an onslaught on their common enemies. Fichte’s departure, the impossibility of reconciling diverging views in the course of conversation undoubtedly accelerated the process of disintegration and prepared the way for the philosophical disputes of the future, although the ultimate causes of those disputes were much too profound to be more than postponed by personal friendships.