Uncivil Unions: The Metaphysics of Marriage in German Idealism and Romanticism 9780226136950, 0226136957, 9781280126024, 1280126027

In this work, Adrian Daub presents an interdisciplinary look at the story of a generation of philosophers, poets, and in

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Uncivil Unions: The Metaphysics of Marriage in German Idealism and Romanticism
 9780226136950, 0226136957, 9781280126024, 1280126027

Table of contents :
Uncivil unions --
The metaphysics of dignity: marriage in Kant and Fichte --
The politics of the copula: love, marriage, and the question of judgment --
"Marriage is the most exalted secret": Novalis on the metaphysics and semiotics of marriage --
Marriage between chaos and product: Friedrich and Dorothea Schlegel --
Marriage and mediation: the product among the idealists --
Marriage interrupted: Sophie Mereau's Blüthenalter der Empfindung --
Transcendental masturbators: Jean Paul's Siebenkäs --
The fate of marital autonomy in the nineteenth century --
Epilogue: marriage after metaphysics.

Citation preview

Uncivil Unions

Uncivil Unions The Metaphysics of Marriage in German Idealism and Romanticism

a d r i a n dau b the university of chicago press    chicago and london

adrian daub is assistant professor of German Studies at Stanford University and author of “Zwillingshafte Gebärden”—Zur kulturellen Wahrnehmung des vierhändigen Klavierspiels im neunzehnten Jahrhundert. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637 The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., London © 2012 by The University of Chicago All rights reserved. Published 2012. Printed in the United States of America 21  20  19  18  17  16  15  14  13  12    1  2  3  4  5 isbn-13: 978-0-226-13693-6 (cloth) isbn-10: 0-226-13693-0 (cloth) Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Daub, Adrian.   Uncivil unions : the metaphysics of marriage in German idealism and romanticism / Adrian Daub.     p. cm.   Includes bibliographical references and index.   isbn-13: 978-0-226-13693-6 (cloth : alkaline paper)   isbn-10: 0-226-13693-0 (cloth : alkaline paper)  1. Marriage— Germany—Philosophy. 2. Philosophy, German—19th century.  3. Marriage in literature.  4. German literature— 19th century—History and criticism.  I. Title.   hq734.d259 2012   306.810943'09034— dc23 2011029107 a This paper meets the requirements of ansi/niso z39.48–1992 (Permanence of Paper).

Contents Acknowledgments  vii Introduction: Uncivil Unions  1 chapter 1. The Metaphysics of Dignity: Marriage in Kant and Fichte  36 chapter 2. The Politics of the Copula: Love, Marriage, and the Question of Judgment  71 chapter 3.  “Marriage Is the Most Exalted Secret”: Novalis on the Metaphysics and Semiotics of Marriage  105 chapter 4. Marriage between Chaos and Product: Friedrich and Dorothea Schlegel  148 chapter 5. Marriage and Mediation: The Product among the Idealists  177 chapter 6. Marriage Interrupted: Sophie Mereau’s Blüthenalter der Empfindung  207 chapter 7. Transcendental Masturbators: Jean Paul’s Siebenkäs  240 chapter 8. The Fate of Marital Autonomy in the Nineteenth Century  264

Epilogue: Marriage after Metaphysics  287 Abbreviations and Frequently Used Short Titles  309 Notes  311 Index  361



his is a book about freely chosen heteronomy, and quite appropriately given the topic, it began its life as a dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania. The group of people and institutions that have guided me and it along the way have contributed both by helping me find and assert my autonomy as a scholar, and by checking that autonomy in productive ways. I am profoundly indebted to my dissertation advisors at the University of Pennsylvania, Liliane Weissberg and Catriona MacLeod, who shaped both the dissertation and the book it went on to become for more than half a decade in exactly this way. My readers Paul Guyer and Warren Breckman, as well as Gerald Izenberg, Paul Robinson, and Rolf-Peter Horstmann, made sure that the book’s interdisciplinary roving did not turn out to its detriment. Portions of chapter 3 were previously published in Re­ publics of Letters and the volume Joseph de Maistre’s European Readers, and I am indebted to the editors of both for allowing me to test out my ideas in the pages of their publications, and for allowing me to republish them here. I would like to express my gratitude to the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at Stanford University for supporting this book financially, and for the encouragement and support individual members have given me while I was writing it. My colleague Martón Dornbach slogged through, commented on, and argued about many of the book’s individual chapters—this book owes much to his insight and generosity. Lisa Surwillo helped me navigate the vicissitudes of the revision and review process. Marisa Galvez, Nariman Skakov, Laura Whitman, and the other members of the junior faculty colloquium gave invaluable advice and feedback. Similarly, the advice and appreciation of my colleague Hans-Ulrich Gumbrecht have done much to help this book’s gestation along.



I have inflicted the obscure philosophies of sex discussed in this book upon my students only once, but the members of my seminar entitled “A Brief History of Misogyny” took to these difficult texts with relish—their commonsense questions and their fervent desire to find something in even the most bizarre or arcane philosophies of sex reassured me that there were things of interest here even to resolutely twenty-first century readers, and helped me discover what they were. Uncivil Unions owes perhaps the strangest debt to Richard Eldridge, who first reacted to my initial ideas for it over Ethiopian food in Philadelphia a year after I graduated college, only to reencounter them in the final draft more than seven years later. I am grateful to my editor Douglas Mitchell at the University of Chicago Press for keeping the faith with this manuscript, and for shepherding it so carefully through a lengthy review process. Susan Tarcov’s edits and queries were essential, and her enthusiasm for the project was palpable from the first. This book is dedicated to two men who were each instrumental in its genesis without ever having read it: my grandfather Martin Dolch (1922– 2011), who inspired my love of German literature and thought; and Augustin Hung Le, who taught me everything I know about uncivil unions. Augustin always suspected this book was a sly way of proposing. It turns out he was right.


Uncivil Unions I am married, just not with a ceremony. —J. W. Goethe


n his 1845 text “In Vino Veritas,” Søren Kierkegaard has a group of his repertory players (an all-male cast featuring Johannes the Seducer, Victor Eremita, and others) put on a self-conscious revival of Plato’s Sym­ posium. They gather in a house in a wooded region a few miles from Copenhagen, where they arrive on horseback or in their Holstein wagons, and where an orchestra accompanies their disputations with the sounds of Don Giovanni. Just as Plato’s dialogue explicitly situates itself at a particular moment in Athenian history, Kierkegaard’s text outfits the group’s deliberation over the nature of love in the concrete and recognizable accoutrements of “Golden Age” Denmark. Accordingly, the topics have also shifted—and the text, which hews quite closely to Plato’s dialogue, pre‑ sents at its conclusion, where the Symposium features Socrates’ dialogue with Diotima, a married couple, a sight that leaves the banqueting men dumbfounded. They come face to face with an uncivil union: a private configuration entirely independent from wider social structures, which nevertheless seems to place some sort of demand on their community. “They were surprised—I do not mean the two whom the foliage concealed, the happy pair, . . . too confident of their security to believe themselves the object of anyone’s attention.”1 No, it is the men watching them whose self-confidence and security seem severely shaken. Diotima’s discourse in the Symposium, which extolled begetting with respect to the soul over the brute animality of mere sexual attraction, has been replaced with the marital banter of a couple taking its morning tea. Why exactly Kierke­ gaard, himself famously marriage-resistant, replaces Socrates’ initiation


into the mysteries of love with what amounts to an encomium to marriage is, as so often in Kierkegaard, rather ambiguous: Has our age replaced eros’s striving for beauty with the banal transactions of marital life, or does the wordless, well-rehearsed connubial ritual constitute something of a refutation of the wordy paeans to and indictments of love that dominate both Kierkegaard’s and Plato’s dialogue? While one might read Kierkegaard’s substitution of a married judge for the mysterious priestess of Mantineia as simply a bourgeois domestication of Platonic eros,2 there is a strange corollary to this substitution. Even if “In Vino Veritas” holds up bourgeois domestic bliss as the wordless cure for the wordy erotics of philosophy, the dialogue’s model, the Symposium, requires Diotima’s (offstage) intervention only because singing the praises of eros turns out to be surprisingly difficult. Diotima is introduced by Socrates precisely to help sort out the difficulties, niceties, and contradictions his interlocutors have gotten themselves into in their pursuit of the praise of love. And if Kierkegaard holds up marriage, or a particular kind of marriage, as a solution, he does so because marriage has become a central problem in the metaphysics of love. And this in itself represents a shift: For Socrates, marriage was not much of a topic in the Symposium. It was the absence of Xanthippe, Socrates’ wife, that made philosophy possible. As Nietzsche notes, Xanthippe, “in fact propelled [Socrates] deeper and deeper into his own proper profession, inasmuch as she made his house and home uncomfortable and unhomely to him.”3 Marriage required no philosophy; rather, thinking philosophically about eros necessitated a turn away from common marital life. By the time Kierkegaard’s cast of characters gathered for their retreat outside of Copenhagen, however, marriage had become a problem for philosophy. The first speaker, a “young man,” speaks of his ignorance of love, but more importantly registers his profound puzzlement over the institution of marriage. Unlike Socrates, who no doubt would have regarded marriage as part of our “immediate” immersion in the world of appearances from which we need to turn in refining our erotic aims, the young man insists instead that there is nothing immediate or trivial about marriage at all—that, whether good or bad, it abounds in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties. What a strange invention marriage is! And what makes it still stranger is the fact that it is regarded as an “immediate” step. And yet there is no step so decisive, for there is nothing so self-willed and domineering in relation to a human

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life as is marriage. . . . Marriage is not a simple thing but something extremely complex and ambiguous. . . . Is it something pagan or something Christian or something pious or something worldly or a little of everything, is it the expression of that inexplicable erotic sentiment, that concordant elective affinity of souls, or is it a duty or a partnership or expediency or use and wont in certain lands, or is it a little of all that.4

In rehearsing his list of puzzlements over the institutions of marriage, Kier­ kegaard’s young man neatly encapsulates the starting point for a group of thinkers his creator otherwise had nothing but disdain for—the German Idealists. In the closing decade of the eighteenth century they had begun interrogating the institution of marriage along much the same lines and had in the process done away with many of the assumptions that had subtended thinking on marriage for centuries: Could marriage be severed from religion? Did it need to be severed from religion? Was it a matter of inclination (of “elective affinity”) or was it a matter of law? Did it effect a “complete unification,” as Johann Gottlieb Fichte claimed, or did it constitute a contract, as the natural law theorists of the Enlightenment had thought? If it exceeded the standpoint of contract, by what authority did it do so? And if it had essential features, where did they flow from? On one score, however, there was no disagreement among them (nor any disagreement with Kierkegaard’s young proxy): Marriage is anything but “immediate,” there is indeed “nothing so self-willed . . . in relation to human life as marriage.” Much as in Kierkegaard, their insistence that marriage is “something extremely complex and ambiguous” did not necessarily go hand in hand with the idea that marriage was historically determined and contingent. In fact, the theories proffered by the German Idealists and Romantics set themselves apart from the previous two centuries of thought about marriage precisely by their rejection of the empirical. The Enlightenment bequeathed to the thinkers of their generation theories like those espoused by Pufendorf, Rousseau, or the Encyclopédistes that attempted to ground the institution in a philosophical anthropology, a theory of morality, or observations of nature. In an 1802 essay, G. W. F. Hegel summed up what the thinkers considered in the following chapters found lacking in this approach: Rather than being “truly scientific,” such theories were content to present “a collection of an empirical set of cognitions [Kenntnisse].”5 This book tells the story of a number of theorists of marriage who attempted to sidestep both the dictates of empirical reality and the precepts


of conventional morality or theology, and instead sought to explain and structure the marital relation with respect to metaphysics, in particular to the philosophy of subjectivity. This made it possible for them to link the autonomous subject and the voluntary surrender of that autonomy in marriage in ways that they found politically productive. Most centrally, it allowed them to suggest that marriage had an autonomy that structurally resembled that of the human subject. They all differed on exactly what that resemblance and what that subject looked like, and eventually their attempts came up against the question of how the unity of the subject might preserve the irreducible two-ness of marriage. Hegel’s essay on natural law encapsulates their approach: a truly “scientific” way of approaching the questions of natural law was to “take away the particularity from the separate, albeit accurate [individual] science, and to recognize its principle in accordance with its higher context [Zusam­ menhang] and necessity.”6 This “higher context” was in the first place that of a system. The Idealist and Romantic theories of marriage attempted to establish the nature and structure of marriage not by abstracting from an “empirical set of cognitions,” but rather by progressively concretizing a more general “principle” into a system. This was what since Kant had characterized a “metaphysical” approach to morals. In the introduction to his 1797 Metaphysics of Morals, Kant asserts that a metaphysics is “a system of knowledge a priori from pure concepts.”7 Thus a metaphysics is not entirely divorced from empirical facts about an object (something that would seem to be entirely nonsensical in the case of marriage); however, even though metaphysical propositions apply to empirical facts, they are not abstracted or otherwise derived from them: “a metaphysics of morals cannot be founded on anthropology, but it can be applied to it.”8 Their refusal to ground the institution in anthropology set Kant’s followers apart from the vast majority of their contemporaries, who, whether they offered moral theories of marriage or materialist ones, inevitably found their way back to concrete sexuality and marital life either of their own day or of faraway times and peoples. In particular for the thinkers of the Enlightenment, gazing beyond the boundaries of Europe or into Europe’s distant past had become an integral part of understanding the family. The natural law theorist Samuel Pufendorf’s theory of marriage, while holding up modern and Western notions of marriage as uniquely licensed by natural law, nevertheless brims with descriptions of possible kinship systems drawn from the distant, often mythic past and faraway, often equally mythic lands. Pufendorf’s survey spans continents and ages, as

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he invokes the Queen of Sheba, Alexander the Great, the Amazons, and Tacitus’s descriptions of the ancient Germans, weaves in “travelers report[s] from the Kingdom of Congo,” from the court of the “King of Calecut,” the right of prima nocte in Scotland, and of polygamy in the kingdom of Pegu in modern-day Burma. Dowry customs among the Japanese, Chinese foot binding, matrilineal succession in sub-Saharan Africa come in for often bemused, at times outraged, at others admiring, scrutiny, but Pufendorf never stops placing these foreign customs in relation to those he seeks to vindicate in his own culture. Over a hundred years later, and with very different intent, Theodor Gottlieb Hippel (1741–96) also embarked on a voyage around the world from the comfort of his study—all the way to Tierra del Fuego: “Travelers claim that there men and women are treated the same, and that, were it not for their different manner of dress, or the men’s facial hair, the two sexes would be impossible to distinguish.”9 The historic guises in which the marital relation had appeared, and the guises in which it appeared across the globe, were central to Hippel’s sense of the contingency of bourgeois marriage, and to Pufendorf’s sense of its legitimacy. They were accorded no such centrality in the central texts of the conversation about marriage among the German Idealists and Romantics—and the way those theories sidelined the empirical and the straightforwardly political element of marriage was part of a larger program. The Idealists and Romantics turned away from Enlightenment-thought about sexuality and instead drew on currents of counter-Enlightenment thought, especially Platonism and mysticism. Their thought attempted to map out a way of basing marriage neither on theology, nor on reason or common sense, but rather on metaphysics. If they followed the Enlightenment in rejecting attempts to ground marriage in theology, they also rejected the Enlightenment’s focus on the empirical and anthropological. This detour into metaphysics represents something of a German special path. The rest of Europe was much faster to replace the theological grounding of marriage and family with one in empirical observation. Only in Germany was there a sustained attempt to elaborate a nontheological metaphysics of marriage, although it was short-lived even there: the successors of the thinkers considered in this study would soon turn back to the empirical and reject the metaphysical speculations of their teachers. While this turn to the metaphysical characterized their thought in general, they brought it to bear on marriage in particular with a specific agenda. As an intersubjective connection that nevertheless expressed more of the subject’s own


desires and inclinations than other institutions, marriage allowed them to balance an insistence on self-determination and an insistence on the necessarily social character of human beings.

Why Marriage? In his 1919 study Political Romanticism, Carl Schmitt provides a portrait of the political Romantic as an individual torn between an excessive concern with the self and an equally excessive concern with togetherness. “In every Romantic,” Schmitt writes, “we can find examples of an anarchistic sense of self [Selbstgefühl] as well as an excessive need for sociability [Geselligkeitsbedürfnisses].”10 While much of Schmitt’s critique may strike the modern reader as overblown and targeted more at the “political Romantics” of Schmitt’s own day than those of the late eighteenth century, Schmitt is right on this central point. There is a strange blend of “anarchism” and “sociability” in Romanticism, an instinctual rejection of antecedent structures and their rules, but a similarly compulsive readiness to submit to something else, or better yet someone else, in the name of feeling, faith. or love. Characteristically, for the period under discussion here Schmitt’s description does not apply only to writers usually thought of as Romantics — the young Hegel, Schelling, and Hölderlin, for instance, are very much on Schmitt’s mind as well in his diagnosis of “political Romanticism,” and justifiably so. The strange blend Schmitt describes requires peculiar concepts to capture both aspects at once: The isolating tendencies of the Enlightenment were to be rejected, but so were those binding agents that smacked of arbitrary or arrogated authority. Romantic politics turned to marriage as such a concept, or, perhaps better, turned marriage into such a concept, by emphasizing the autonomy of marriage. By unmooring it from state or ecclesiastical structures, the Romantics gave it something “anarchic,” and by adducing its structure from that of the subject they were able to make sociality a form of subjectivity. The autonomy of marriage constituted a protuberance of the autonomy of the subject. The institution of marriage was not an other that checked the subject’s autonomy, it extended that autonomy; but by extending it, it turned the lone transcendental subject into a being-together. Marriage received from the lovers not just the feelings animating it but its structure as well. The Romantic and early Idealist understanding of marriage as an uncivil union served both the anarchistic and the communitarian inclinations of those that promulgated them.

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The Romantic and Idealist elaboration of the autonomy of marriage co­ incides with the moment at which the state began to intervene with renewed force into the marriage business. Around the turn of the nineteenth century, the Allgemeines Landrecht in Prussia and especially the Code Napoléon subsumed marriage under the regimen of constitutional rights and provisions. Both of these were suprapositive laws, that is to say, they opposed themselves to laws established simply by virtue of localized custom; to free marriage from positive law they had to make the family the colony of an all-encompassing constitutional system. The Allgemeines Landrecht für die preußischen Staaten went into effect in 1794 but had initially been demanded by Frederick the Great, who had sought to streamline the impenetrable profusion of feudal laws into one structure authorized ultimately by the king’s sovereign power. In following the king’s wish, his chancellor, Samuel von Cocceji, turned to natural law theories in the mold of Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf. As Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg, a student of Schleiermacher’s and Hegel’s successor in Berlin, put it in the 1860s, this tradition tended “to regard marriage . . . as identical with a common contract,” neglecting “the ethical nature of marriage.”11 Trendelenburg’s objection captures neatly the problem earlier Romantics and Idealists had with this constitutional colonization of the family: they approved natural law’s opposition to positivity but decried its inability to register the fact that marriage had an “ethical” dimension. What they meant by this “ethical” dimension is made clear in their relationship to the theory of marriage contained in the French Code Civil. The Code Civil (also known as the Code Napoléon) was passed in 1804 and was in effect throughout the burgeoning French Empire, which included many of the German states—and it remained in force in parts of Germany until the end of the nineteenth century. Like the Allgemeines Landrecht, the Code Civil insisted on a unitary basis for initiating, performing, and dissolving marriages; unlike the Allgemeines Landrecht it also sought to sever marriage from any theological bases. It provided for marriage by a “civil officer,” and it permitted divorce, but its concessions to “the commune” were extensive. Marriage required “the authentic act of the consent of fathers and mothers”; it provided that the civil officer could not celebrate a marriage if there had been an “opposition” to the union.12 The idea that the union effected in the marriage ceremony transcended positive law or custom even to the extent that religion ought to have no bearing on it was one that appealed to the Romantics and Idealists, at least in the period under consideration in the following chapters. But the fact that this new autonomy was purchased at the cost of a greater dependency


on the authority of the community ran afoul of what Schmitt called their “anarchistic” streak: While marriage depended on a wider community to give it meaning, that community’s role was not that of a party to a contract, a party that could voice opposition, determine the terms of the union, or withdraw its consent outright. It is against this backdrop of the retrenchment of the theological purchase on marriage and the increasing dominance of civil codes that the Romantics and Idealists presented marriage as an “uncivil” union. Civil marriage had done away with the notion that the family differed essentially from civil society— civil codes could govern the relations between its members just as well as they could govern those between, say, the parties to a contract. This was precisely the step that the Romantics and Idealists were not prepared to take; when they argued that state and family resembled each other, it was because in the best case, the state was (or ought to be) organized like a family, not the other way around. Marriage was “uncivil” in that the unification effected in it drew only on itself, structured itself only in reference to itself, and required, for its legitimacy, its essence, and its purpose, no reference to a civil society outside. As Agnès Walch has argued, the sexual mores of the French Revolution sought to resolve the contradiction of how “to integrate love into a conjugal relation structured by reason.”13 The Romantics and Idealists set themselves the same task, but the Kantian conception of reason allowed them to shift the meaning of this task in important ways: Reason was not just another external yardstick brought to bear on a private relation, replacing the religious or moral disapprobation of yore with a new kind in the name of rationality. Rather, human rationality inhered in the structure of the subject itself—and the reason that was to sustain the conjugal relation had much more to do with the internal constitution and autonomous structure of that relation than with questions of external civic ends and roles. This internalization of the rationality of marriage eventually gave rise to the well-known idea that Romantic marriage was an entirely private affair and had nothing to do with rationality, but was instead a preserve of the irrational. This highly influential view confronts the present study with a strange conjunction of problems: This book attempts to link and put in dialogue two lines of thought, one of which has barely received any critical attention at all, the other of which has received plenty, though much of it misbegotten. The sexual theories of the German Idealists were often regarded as bizarre tangents, testament to a will-to-system run amok. And the theories

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of marriage these sexual metaphysics underwrote were often considered little more than “quaintly repugnant reminders” of the individual philosopher’s prejudices.14 Apropos of Rousseau, Penny Weiss has posed a very important challenge to such assumptions: Why, she asks, do we suppose that thinkers so fearless in critiquing many of their contemporaries’ most deeply held assumptions reflexively turned to received wisdom when it came to sexuality?15 Her troubling suggestion is that the misogyny of their sexologies may spring not from some lazily imported bits of conventional thinking but from systematic (and thus endemic) considerations instead. If the important systematic place of the Idealists’ theories of sexuality has often been missed, the Romantic theories of and encomia to the love relation have hardly escaped notice. But where the systematic investments of Idealist sexology were widely ignored, it was the political valence of Romantic theories of love that was increasingly sidelined in the course of the nineteenth century (not least by the erstwhile protagonists of Frühromantik themselves). In the two-hundred-year reception of German Romanticism, from Hegel’s own attacks on the Romantics and Heinrich Heine’s Romantic School via Rudolf Haym to Carl Schmitt, a number of prejudices prevailed, at least two of which apply a fortiori to a Romantic theory of marriage: (a) the claim that Romanticism is inherently apolitical and, in the specific case of marriage, thinks the institution as an entirely private relation of love; (b) the claim that Romanticism is inherently interiorized and preoccupied with psychological states, making marriage primarily an effect of individualized psychologies (a charge inaugurated by Hegel’s critique of the “Beautiful Soul” in the Phenomenology of Spirit). It is the purpose of this study to correct or at least complicate these claims by confronting Romantic marital theory with its origins in and persistent dialogue with German Idealism. The psychologization of political Romanticism often proceeds in tandem with a pronounced biographization of Romantic writing—in particular Novalis, easily one of the most radical early Romantics, was neutered entirely into a death-loving aesthete by his nineteenth-century reception. This is a fate he shares with the man whose reflections on marriage I cited in the opening—Søren Kierkegaard, whose challenging and puzzling ideas of marriage are frequently deflated into mere commentary on his broken-off engagement to Regine Olsen. In an article entitled “Romantic Marriage” (“Romantische Ehe,” 1925)16 the poet and historian Ricarda Huch (1864–1947), author of two classic works dealing with the rise and the decline of German Romanticism (Blütezeit der Romantik and



Ausbreitung und Verfall der Romantik), treats her topic in a way that can count as symptomatic: Huch lays out the Romantic theories of marriage (she discusses Schlegel and Schleiermacher) and then juxtaposes them with the actual marital praxis of the German Romantics, giving brief biographical sketches of the marital life of the Schlegels, Tieck, Brentano, and even E. T. A. Hoffmann. Apparently, their theories of marriage did not deserve a refutation by theory but, for Huch, could be dispensed with by reference to the bedroom antics of the subjects that elaborated them. What further makes Huch’s text symptomatic for the reception of Romantic theories of love and marriage for much of the last two-hundred years is the fact that it juxtaposes the theories of the earliest stirrings of early Romanticism on the one hand, and the sordid love lives of poets characteristic of high or late Romanticism. Her conclusions, which tend to valorize the very bourgeois institutional marriage that the Romantics reacted against, read what she perceives to be the “failure” of Romantic marital praxis (and by extension theory) in terms of the sensibilities of high and late Romanticism. In so doing, she presupposes the necessity of the very form of marriage the Romantics denied—the mercantile, elective, atomistic kind of marriage lampooned by the Romantic philosopher Franz von Baader as “Hans Stein & Company,”17 a marriage that merges two otherwise independent entities for mutual benefit. Anything else, she implies, is not “really” a marriage—which was precisely the problem the Romantic metaphysicians of marriage posed themselves. Huch claims that “the Romantics regarded marriage essentially as a private matter between two persons.”18 She thus diagnoses an abnegation of a social or political stake in Romantic marriage (be this Sittlichkeit, morality, or mere realpolitik): “Questions concerning the outside world did not occupy the Romantics much, since all they had in view were the lovers in a strangely unreal detachment from the world.”19 What is more, the Romantics, according to Huch, denied the moment of necessity, of duty that is to Huch inherent in marriage (a claim clearly inspired by Hegel’s critique of the Romantics in the Philosophy of Right).20 This second claim amounts to denying that the Romantic theories of marriage are about marriage at all. “Since marriage without a sense of duty cannot possibly endure, they really rejected marriage in general, and their championing of a ‘marriage of love’ was really tantamount to a fear of marriage.”21 This set of claims represents what the present study seeks to question. It seeks to show that Romantic theories of marriage were not apolitical; rather, they saw marriage as profoundly nonpoliticized, in the sense that

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marriages did not receive their significance from the polis. As metaphysical entities, they were significant in and of themselves, and they faced the political as an autonomous sphere (Hegel) or even reversed the thrust of determination (Novalis). That is to say, rather than allowing the private to be determined by the public, the Romantics saw the impulses of the private emanating into the polis. “Uncivil unions” could still shape civic life. This constellation of thinkers and the nature of their thinking about marriage in particular require an approach that takes care to highlight the logic of their conversation: the political and cultural valences of their theories of marriage would have been obvious to a generation for which the French Revolution was the defining world-historic event of their youth. Their philosophical influences, however eclectic, were part of a zeitgeist and, combined with the gravitational pull of historic events, could push thinkers who never met in almost identical directions. Therefore, this book will not offer a historical-genetic exposition of their conversation about marriage. Instead, it tries to consider the conversation as a language game in which the way the German Idealists and Romantics posed the question of a metaphysics of marriage, the resources they drew on to articulate and answer it, allowed for a discrete range of possible responses. This is, for example, why Hegel and Kant will often appear out of temporal sequence, as it were: Even the late Kant refused some of the premises, lemmata, and doxai that the early German Idealists had been operating with for years. The incredible productivity of these years, combined with the protagonists’ mobility as they associate and disassociate in ever new constellations, produces thoroughly paradoxical historical developments: For instance, the early Idealist critique of Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre predated Fichte’s presentation of his system—it had been developed as a critique of the Elementarphilosophie proposed by Fichte’s predecessor in Jena, Karl Leonhard Reinhold, a development that Fichte, who was busy giving private seminars in Switzerland, had been unaware of.22 Hegel and Novalis managed to develop strikingly similar critiques of Fichte during periods when there is little or no evidence of sustained contact between them; Hegel’s account of shame bears a resemblance to that produced in Berlin by Schlegel and Schleiermacher, who seem to have been barely aware of him and disliked him to boot. These ubiquitous affinities and parallels between distinct philosophical projects meant that the ways these thinkers posed the problem of a marital metaphysics, the ways they answered it, and the ways they failed to answer it tended to resemble one another. At least when it came to marriage, it was only the conclusions they drew from



the failure of their early metaphysical systems that would place them on highly divergent trajectories. By 1820, when Hegel produced the Founda­ tions of the Philosophy of Right, Schlegel was lecturing on the Philosophy of Life in Vienna, and Schleiermacher was completing his Glaubenslehre, whatever uncanny affinities had bound the efforts of their youth together had long sundered. Not only the temporal compactness of the early development of Idealist and Romantic thought requires an approach that excavates an overall logic from individual lines of influence. It is also necessary in order to follow their syncretic insights across disciplinary lines. Even when they were offering these insights in the form of poems, novels, or fairy tales, the poets and thinkers considered in this study were trying to make philosophical points about the nature and potential of marital unification. At the same time, however, their philosophies of marriage tended to grapple with the discursive or narrative aspects of this unification—to what extent language, fiction, or poetry were or had to be involved in marriage was thus always an issue for them. The fact that German Idealist and Romantic philosophy of marriage after Fichte frequently had recourse to fiction is thus owed not to its protagonists’ day jobs but rather to the object of their meditations itself. Retracing these meditations will require reading poetic texts as philosophical ones and vice versa, without ever losing sight of the fact that these are in the end philosophical claims, claims that concern the nature of human common life, its prospects and potential. At the same time, however, the thinkers considered in the following chapters conceived of their theories of marriage as political, though not in any straightforward sense. From the beginning, the metaphysics of marriage was part of a political philosophy, albeit a political philosophy that refused the conception of the political common in eighteenth-century philosophy. Talking about marriage meant also talking about how a state ought to be constituted, rather than about how marriage ought to be rightly administered in the state as recognized by traditional political philosophy. The protagonists of this study thought that political philosophy in the natural law tradition or that of the Enlightenment missed precisely the “ethical” aspects of any kind of human community. Their marital politics tended to reconsider not just traditional constructions of marriage but traditional constructions of politics as well. As a result, this study will have to reconstruct the relationship of traditional political philosophy and a political theory of marriage that at first blush seems to have very little in common with that tradition.

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If the political theories of marriage offered by the first Romantic and Idealist generation seem to afford new mobility to the term “politics,” they also entail an altogether unprecedented mobility to the term “marriage.” In many of the texts being considered in the following chapters, terms like “love,” “marriage,” and “sex” are used interchangeably. Some of this is owed to the moral squeamishness of their age, which made it easier to talk about sex as long as it took place in the marriage bed. But it is worth noting that this usage contravened much of the thinking on sexuality of the eighteenth century, in which love and marriage were often opposed. A text that predates the Romantic and Idealist metaphysics of marriage by only about a decade, written moreover by one of their frequent (though frequently hostile) interlocutors, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi’s Woldemar: A Rarity of Natural History (Woldemar: ein Seltenheit aus der Naturge­ schichte, 1779), presents exactly such a theory. The main character lives in something of a metaphysical ménage à trois: he lives in a platonic “friendship of souls” (Seelenfreundschaft) with the widow Henriette but marries her best friend Allwina. Even though Jacobi’s novel seems to suggest that such an arrangement may be impossible (and may be made impossible by nothing so much as the necessity of its linguistic mediation), Jacobi holds apart two ideas that Fichte and the Jena Romantics would have considered indistinct: physical intimacy and spiritual intimacy. At the same time, the Romantics abso­ lutized a distinction that had run through eighteenth-century thought since at least Rousseau. The early eighteenth century had distinguished mostly between physical and spiritual love; the late eighteenth century tended to draw the distinction between authentic and inauthentic love. Authentic love need not really be distinguished from an authentic marriage —instead, they both had to be distinguished from inauthentic forms of intimacy. While there were some forms of inauthentic love that concerned the Romantics (shallow flirting, for instance), their anarchistic bent directed most of their concern toward inauthentic marriage. This accounts for their confusing usage of these terms: when love was authentic, they regarded it as already a (true) marriage; when an institutional marriage was not subtended by feeling, it was “not really” a marriage. Importantly, while the outlook of the early Idealist and Romantic metaphysics of marriage was distinctly political, its politics did not always point in a single direction. Rather, the metaphysical discourse of marriage was controversial at the moment of its first appearance and remained so by the time its proponents abandoned it. But the attacks on the metaphysics



of marriage were far from apolitical but rather raised important political issues in their own right. In investigating this constellation, the present study falls into four parts: The first three chapters present the classic texts constituting the conversation on marriage and metaphysics in the decades straddling the year 1800. This discourse was inaugurated by Fichte but developed by the young Romantics and Idealists who fused his thought with Neoplatonism and Rousseauism. Many of the central figures in the Romantic and Idealist reception of Fichte, including Schelling, Hölderlin, the young Hegel, and Novalis will be discussed in this part. Many of the central figures, but not all. This is because even as the main exponents of this discourse rhapsodized over the “complete unification” of lovers in marriage and attempted to map this unification onto communities, congregations, and even states, several of them struggled with some of the more problematic consequences of this metaphysics of unification. Chapters 4 and 5 will therefore deal with a number of texts and thinkers that are at once central to this discourse but also exhibit (sometime in spite of themselves) a specific misgiving with the Idealist and Romantic metaphysics of marriage—in particular Friedrich and Dorothea Schlegel and F. D. E. Schleiermacher. The exact nature of this irritation will be introduced in more detail below, but generally it concerned the question of whether the unified structure of marriage could itself impose a kind of institutional constraint very much like religion, tradition, or family line. If marriage provided its own structures and placed its own strictures on the individuals united in it, did it differ substantially from the “outside” forces the metaphysics of marriage had attempted to ban? Chapters 6 and 7 will return to the inaugural moment of the metaphysics of marriage, Fichte’s arrival in Jena, and highlight a tradition of skepticism vis-à-vis the rapturous discourse on marriage and autonomy prevalent among the Romantics and Idealists. Sophie Mereau, Fichte’s only female student in his private seminars, used Fichte’s theory of marriage and eroticism (still inchoate at the time) to criticize Fichte’s metaphysics of autonomy in general. Her friend Jean Paul (Johann Paul Friedrich Richter) similarly uses marriage and the erotic as a kind of royal road into Fichteanism’s unconscious. Behind the seemingly progressive metaphysics of autonomy, Jean Paul’s erotic skepticism locates nothing but nihilism, self-enclosure. and downright philosophical masturbation. Given that trenchant critiques of the discourse sprang into existence almost at the moment of its inception, it is perhaps not surprising that its own main purveyors abandoned the project before long. The final two chapters

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trace their path away from the metaphysics of marriage and shows how both the discourse itself and its critique were picked up throughout the nineteenth century. In fact, the metaphysics of “complete unification” and the protestations of a discontent each have afterlives in the nineteenth century—taken together, their entwined afterlives map out a history of nineteenth-century philosophical thought on gender and sexuality. One problem in particular came to dominate the gradual move away from the Romantic and Idealist metaphysics of marriage, and it continues to be of interest to this day: what with F. W. J. Schelling we will call the “problem of the product,” that is to say, the question whether there isn’t something in marriage that necessarily opposes itself to the emotions of the partners unified in it, and whether that something might hold a political promise of its own. From Hegel’s later theories of the family to the current debates on gay marriage, it is the fact that marriage combines momentary feelings with something more enduring that has become philosophically interesting.

Marriage in Eighteenth-Century Philosophy If the theories of marriage proposed by the young protagonists of German Idealism and Romanticism rejected theology as a basis for their arguments, their rejection was motivated quite differently, and proceeded quite differently, from that of earlier eighteenth-century thought on marriage that had sought to replace the theological foundation of marriage. Eighteenth-century thought about marriage is itself exceedingly varied, owing partly to the variegation of the Enlightenment and its numerous countercurrents. Those who followed Leibniz understood reason and its operations as downright mathematical, whereas the reason those in the empiricist mold meant to bring to bear on marriage was something much closer to everyday common sense. There were wide disagreements on the nature of the passions and their relation to reason once parts of the German Enlightenment took a sensualist turn at midcentury. The German Idealists and Romantics by and large rejected the dominant strands of Enlightenment thinking about marriage. In fact, they turned to metaphysics in many respects to sidestep the problems that beset these earlier approaches in their eyes, or to avoid presuppositions they regarded as untenable. By far the most influential account of marriage that the Enlightenment bequeathed to the thinkers considered in this study was the contractual



account. It was born along with the natural law tradition of political philosophy and had its origin in the desire to explain and adjudicate marriage without explicit reference to divine law or theological precepts. Its last exponent in Germany was Kant, and his infamous formulation of marriage as a contract “for lifelong possession of each other’s sexual attributes”23 soon emerged as the bête noire of the Romantic and Idealist accounts of marriage. Samuel Pufendorf (1632–94), easily the most influential philosopher and jurist of this tradition, and one of the central figures in establishing the Enlightenment in Germany, is usually credited with pioneering the notion of marriage as a contract. Drawing on thinkers like Descartes, Hugo Grotius, and Hobbes, Pufendorf sought to establish a natural law independent of theological doctrine, instead taking recourse to concepts like human dignity, innate sociability, and the propagation of the species. Since marriage was to be established from “natural” rather than divine law, Pufendorf seeks “to discover . . . how the Law purely natural directs” in these matters.24 His famous answer, given in Of the Law of Nature and Nations—Eight Books (De iure naturae et gentium libri octo, 1672) is that marriage is at base simply “a Covenant . . . between a Man and a Woman, for their mutual Assistance in serving Posterity,”25 a “pact” in which the wife signs over certain rights to her husband, though he does not, as the Bible would have it, “rule over her”26 with sovereign power. The idea that marriage was a contract had become accepted without question among students of Leibniz. In his Institutions of the Law of Na­ ture and of Peoples (Institutiones Iuris Naturae et Gentium, 1750), Christian Wolff (1679–1754) speaks of marriage in much the same way as Pufendorf. While the marital partners may not be aware of the specific terms when they enter into a marriage, reflection shows that they implicitly pledge themselves to clearly enumerated terms (the duty to procreate, the exclusive use of one another’s genitalia).27 Johann Christoph Gottsched (1700–1766), another follower of Leibniz, similarly opines that “since all communities [Gesellschaften] are contracts, marriage too is nothing more than a contract: and as a consequence everything that is true of contracts in general, and for social contracts in particular, applies to [marriage].”28 This view, though by no means shared by all marriage theorists of the Enlightenment, represented for the Romantics and Idealists the ultima ratio of and the clear sign for the intellectual and ethical bankruptcy of Enlightenment thinking about the subject of marriage. By midcentury the German Enlightenment underwent a sensualist realignment: reason was no longer championed to the exclusion of affect,

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but rather affects were taken to have a reason of their own when rightly exercised. While Pufendorf had meant to replace theological justifications of marriage with justifications that referred to reason, the second half of the eighteenth century saw thinkers and poets both from within the ranks of the Enlightenment (Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, most prominently) and from among the Enlightenment’s critics (Johann Gottfried Herder, for instance) turn to the wisdom of attraction to explain and vindicate the marital union. In particular, the thinkers associated with Sturm und Drang turned to marriage as an expression of untrammeled sensual love. Any attempt to make marriage metaphysical, to divorce it from the sensuality of love, they argued, hampered the directness of this expression. Whether it was the sensualism of the Enlightenment, or the emphasis on passion among its critics, the Romantics and Idealists found that both simply asserted the dignity of human feelings, rather than showing where that dignity came from. Johann Georg Hamann (1730–88), a friend of Kant’s, Herder’s, and Jacobi’s, published his Versuch einer Sibylle über die Ehe in 1775 as a marriage gift for his publisher Hartknoch. Hamann, unmarried throughout his life, but cohabiting with a woman who bore him three sons, insisted on the sensual element of sexuality and vituperated against any attempts to spiritualize marriage. Just as his friend Herder inveighed against a love “in which one does not use one’s senses,”29 Hamann in his Sibylle defends marriage against the “moral and civil [bürgerlich] prejudices, the high taste or outward trappings”30 of his mercantile century, which to his mind perverted the institution of marriage much more than any supposed immorality. Part of this perversion was the ideology of “metaphysical love,” which, as he wrote in his Sokratische Denkwürdigkeiten (1759), “sins much worse against our nervous fluid than animal love sins against flesh and blood.”31 This line of thinking became arguably more influential in literature than elsewhere, informing the radical works of Gottfried August Bürger, Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, and perhaps most famously Goethe’s Werther. While the metaphysical theories of marriage in currency among the Romantics in particular owed a clear debt to theories such as Hamann’s, most centrally when they postulate the identity of love and marriage and when they insist on the irreducible physicality of marital love, they disdained referring marriage to supposedly self-evident subjective feelings. Rather than simply assume that attraction had a wisdom or even reason of its own, they sought to vindicate this assumption theoretically. Only because feelings like love and shame responded to metaphysical truths (that the



individuals unified in love were metaphysically already one to begin with) did they have the power and legitimacy that the thinkers and poets of Sturm und Drang simply ascribed to them on faith. Sensualists and theoreticians of natural law essentially agreed on one point: There was a correct shape that marriage should take, and that shape was owed to the very constitution of the human being (its social existence for Pufendorf, its rationality for Wolff, its structures of affect for Hamann). Hippel, a high-ranking Prussian bureaucrat in Königsberg and a close friend of Immanuel Kant’s, took a different, historic-genetic approach influenced by Rousseau and Herder. For him the nature of marriage could be established through the cultural evolution of the human species. Hippel first presented his views on marriage in a short book entitled simply On Marriage (Über die Ehe, 1774). Its points were in many ways modeled on the “Sophie” chapter of Rousseau’s Émile, calling for love marriage and insisting that marriage has an end beyond the propagation of the species, while justifying the subjection of woman to man.32 As we saw, Hippel argues throughout by referring to marital customs among other peoples and at other times—but in Über die Ehe he introduces them to establish invariants across time and cultures. These invariants exist because woman’s submission to man is not simply the rule or the law but rather a matter of natural law: “rules have exceptions, laws know special privileges, but not natural law”; an exemption “from a natural law is more than a miracle, for God can work miracles, but he cannot grant exemptions from natural law.”33 By 1792 his views had changed dramatically, as had his use of intercultural comparison. His On Improving the Status of Women (Über die bür­ gerliche Verbesserung der Weiber, 1792) presents instead an impassioned early plea for complete sexual equality and female self-determination. Hippel starts his pamphlet by establishing the equality of the sexes, but in his third chapter he tries to answer a rather obvious question: If men and women are created equal, then “where, when, and how did the superiority of man over woman come about?”34 To answer this question, Hippel looks backward as well as outward, as he cites the recent voyages of Captain Cook, providing a genetic account of marriage, invoking factors that we would today call evolutionary, as well as ethnological ones (most importantly the fact that pregnancy must have seemed like a curse to early humans, licensing and underwriting man’s superiority over the creature so afflicted). There is, moreover, a moral element to Hippel’s book—his conversion to the cause of equal rights is brought about by outrage, an outrage probably kindled by the discrimination the bureaucrat Hippel

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encountered in his day job. The myth of the apolitical nature of the Romantic concepts of love and marriage stems from the fact they by and large balked at Hippel’s melioristic pamphleteering, opting instead to set out their critiques of marriage in dense theoretical or poetic texts with little overt bearing on the marriage politics of their day. Another strand of the French Enlightenment that aroused strong reactions in Germany was materialism. When it came to the subject of marriage, there was not much difference between the French moralists of the seventeenth century (Pascal, La Rochefoucauld, Vauvenargues, La Bruyère) and the materialists of the eighteenth. Both treated the union without any sentimentality but justified it with reference to its pragmatic utility. If they touted marriage’s advantage, it was an advantage not to the species, the country, or the family, but rather to the individual. Baron Holbach’s System of Nature (Système de la Nature, 1770), perhaps the most stridently materialist text of the French Enlightenment, has actually rather traditional views about love and family. But those views are vindicated by reference not to some kind of moral necessity, or ethical impulse, but rather to laws of nature and individual survival. A materialist or atheist is just as good a citizen, a parent, or a husband as a believer, but he is so out of sheer self-interest: “His experience proves to him that society is useful to his happiness; that his interest authoritatively demands that he should attach himself to the country that protects him.” And of course “every thing shews him that in order to be happy he must make himself beloved.”35 The Romantics and Idealists rejected any attempt to justify or explain marriage by referencing its supposed teleology, its usefulness for the perpetuation of the species (or society), or its utility for the individual. Not that they thought it possessed no such uses, but they thought it cheapened the union to explain it in the utilitarian terms preferred by bourgeois civil society. Experience represented another source of insight that the metaphysicians of marriage programmatically banished from their theories but that their immediate predecessors, as well as many of their contemporaries, had much less hesitations availing themselves of. Where the Idealists and Romantics eclectically combined Kant, Rousseau, Plato, and others, the philosophers of the final generation of the German Enlightenment freely combined philosophical influences of their own. They imported empiricism and the Scottish Enlightenment into Germany, fusing it with Leibniz, or rather Christian Wolff’s version of Leibniz, into an alloy called Popu­ larphilosophie. As a result of these influences and their popular aspirations, their understanding of marriage had a comparatively pragmatic, not



to say utilitarian bent. And because they saw their jobs primarily as the dissemination of Enlightenment philosophy, they tended to appeal to everyday common sense and everyday experience. As proponents of natural law, they tended to deduce the rights and duties of marital partners directly out of the “benevolent and wise intentions of the creator of nature,”36 as Johann Georg Heinrich Feder (1740–1821), one of Kant’s most strident critics, put it in 1789. At the same time, they freely justified the nature and structure of marriage by pointing to its utility for individual and state. Feder’s friend Christian Garve (1742–98), for instance, translated and edited William Paley’s Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy (1785), which offers a whole list of consequentialist and utilitarian arguments in favor of marriage. For Paley, marriage promotes peace within society by reducing frustrations, as well as promoting peace of mind among sexual partners. It allows the state to rule proximately through the pater familias and produces more and more well-adjusted offspring. When the German Idealists and Romantics turned to metaphysics to determine the nature and structure of marriage, they did so because they felt that each of these other approaches either had to constitutively misunderstand the marital relation or else failed to give a sufficiently stringent account of it. The contractualist account of marriage seemed to them to miss the very thing that made marriage remarkable; the sensualist account seemed to degrade marriage’s potential political ramifications; those that tethered marriage too closely to common sense neglected the possibility, raised by Hippel, that society might have been getting marriage wrong, just as it had gotten government wrong, for millennia. And those that tried to justify marriage by reference to its utility for either the individual or society deprived the union of its inherent dignity. Against the Enlightenment’s comparative approach, the Romantics and Idealists mobilized a different way of looking at marriage, one suggested to them by Enlightenment philosophers such as Hippel, but made most palpable by the French Revolution. What if marriage in any of its guises, whether in Tierra del Fuego or among the Amazons, did not live up to its own telos? What if marriage’s essence could not be located in the practices of other times and peoples, or in their rational or commonsense assumptions about the institution, but rather lay resolutely outside any of them? In pursuit of this outside, the Romantics and Idealists forged a different path altogether, offering a distinctly metaphysical justification and structural account of marriage. Marriage was to be justified out of its own resources, without reference to utility, tradition, or psychology. As

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Hegel’s insistence on “higher context” makes clear, these metaphysical theories were constitutively monistic, that is to say, they were concerned with establishing marriage from a single, unifying principle. That principle was either directly furnished by, or else derived from, their theories of self-consciousness. The way the subject related to itself as an object became a model of the relationship between the marital partners; the way subject and object became indistinct in certain kinds of cognition became a model for the “complete unification” Fichte claimed marriage effected. But perhaps the most characteristic analogy between self-conscious subject and married couple concerned the notion of marital autonomy: marriage was self-positing and autonomous in ways that directly resembled the autonomy of the subject. In fact, the Romantic and Idealist metaphysics of marriage witnessed a progressive thickening of what marital autonomy entailed: For Fichte, marital self-positing seemed to mean little more than that marriage was self-reliant in its ground. Others, like Hegel and Hölderlin, posited an actual analogy between the particular elements of the autonomous subject and those of marriage, as well as between the overall structure of the autonomous subject and the structure of marital unification. Marriage’s autonomy thus became more than just autopoiesis; it became a self-regulating system in its own right. In other words, what exactly was “uncivil” about marriage, what exactly exceeded the standpoint of the citizen and his individual concerns, varied from thinker to thinker.

Marital Autonomy The notion that marriage was “autonomous” in the sense of being not just “independent” of outside factors but also spontaneous and selfsufficient in a way analogous to the Kantian subject and its cognates in the systems produced by his self-proclaimed heirs is common to all the theories considered in the following chapters. It is what makes the unions they describe “uncivil” in a very particular sense: not passively opposed to the public interactions of citizens in civil society, but rather exerting transformative power over the civic realm. Each marriage posited itself spontaneously. But what would constitute the spontaneity and self-sufficiency of something like marriage? And what advantage did the Romantics and Idealists see in conceiving of marriage in this way? For an answer we may turn to a famous twentieth-century reading of a text that treats marriage



as anything but autonomous—Walter Benjamin’s famous characterization of marriage in Goethe’s Wahlverwandtschaften: Marriage here is not an ethical problem, nor a social problem either. It is not a form of bourgeois conduct. In its dissolution everything human turns into appearance, and the mythic alone remains as essence.37

Marriage, on Benjamin’s reading, is a protuberance of fate into the space of human freedom. Unlike the novel’s reception among bourgeois realists, Benjamin’s reading insists that marriage and adultery are not opposites but form instead part of the same complex. Together they belong to that space of the airtight coherence of meaning and the inexorability of fate that Benjamin terms the mythic. Neither marriage nor the need to step outside of it are matters of human freedom—instead, they demarcate its absence. Marriage is something that confronts human beings as always already there—stark, monolithic, a brute given fact. Of course, if there was one point that the post-Kantian thinkers that are usually grouped as (or associated with) German Idealism or Jena Romanticism could agree on, it was the relatively low dignity of factual givenness in all its guises. Whether they were “subjective” Idealists who claimed that what we take to be given is ultimately still a product of an “absolute I,” or “absolute” Idealists who held that both the given and the subject it is given to are themselves dependent on a higher “absolute” entity—it is clear in either case that givenness as such cannot really count for very much in this kind of thinking. Accordingly, their philosophy sought to wash its hands of tradition, convention, custom, unless their givenness was itself transformed. The factum brutum of a custom, a political arrangement, an institution was something to be transfigured and worked away. “Art and science are released from everything that is positive and introduced by human conventions,”38 Schiller writes in his letters On the Aesthetic Edu­ cation of Man (1795). And Fichte, in what constitutes in many respects the central text of this discourse, asserts that “marriage is not an artificial custom or arbitrary arrangement, but is rather a relation in which the spouses’ union is necessarily and completely determined by nature and reason.”39 As we saw in the previous section, the task the German Idealists and Romantics set for themselves in their philosophies of marriage was precisely to establish a grounding and structure of the institution that would not have to recur to, or at least not derive its justification from, something that was “merely” given.

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The young Idealists and Romantics sought to work away precisely the “fated” aspect of marriage, opting to understand the creation of that union not as a submission to fated structures of custom, religion, or the reality principle but rather as an active positing ex nihilo, thereby emphasizing what Kierkegaard’s “young man” called the “self-willed and domineering” aspects of marital union. The last decade of the eighteenth century found women poised to challenge traditional sex roles; the Enlightenment and the French Revolution provided the impetus to rethinking forms of association and sociality. The Romantics and the Idealists were particularly well positioned to incorporate these influences. The emphasis they placed on autonomy and creative autopoiesis seemed to suggest that marriage was not a natural fact to be either accepted or lamented; rather, the message seemed to be that if you don’t like an institution, you “posit” it anew. As Friedrich Carl von Savigny writes in a letter to his friend Neurath in 1798: “Now that the old forms are threatened with imminent destruction, it is more important than ever to find a standpoint that is independent from the positive and conventional founded only in ourselves.”40 In her 1794 novel Blüthenalter der Empfindung, the novelist Sophie Mereau explicitly links the autonomy of the individual to that of the marriage two individuals enter: “Our union exists of its own strength. It is not the fragile buttresses of priestly blessing, of bourgeois honor, of sickly habit that sustain it. We ourselves vouch for ourselves.”41 Just as Fichte’s philosophy and the French Revolution suggested to the philosophers and poets of the 1790s that human autonomy had to be cleansed of “fragile buttresses,” so marriage, or at least a marriage worthy of the name, had to stand erect by its own powers, not thanks to outdated habits, notions of honor, or religious license. While the link between the autonomy of the subject and the autonomy of marriage is primarily owed to the German Idealists’ concern with integrating individual “cognitions” into a coherent system, the idea of marital autonomy depended on several developments outside of philosophy. While reading Fichte’s Foundations of Natural Law in 1798, the Enlightenment philosopher Johann Christoph Schwab wrote to Friedrich Nicolai, another towering figure of the Berlin Enlightenment, that he regarded Fichte’s tortured explanations of feminine dignity in his exposition of marriage law as evidence “how one can lose all good sense over one’s own philosophical speculations.”42 But while Fichte and his followers indeed disdained the brute empirical collection of “cognitions” and favored “philosophical speculations,” Schwab erred in characterizing their marital philosophies



as lost in the clouds and detached from reality. Instead, their theories drew on a real transformation in the picture of the family and sought to push it further. In the course of the eighteenth century, the conception of what happened to a family in matrimony changed considerably. Before, an individual marriage neither created a new family nor ended a prior one; it simply continued and reiterated a preexisting family line. In marriage the woman left one family and integrated herself into another; the husband simply extended his family by one further generation. Enlightenment political thought, as well as the sentimentalist turn in Germany’s “high Enlightenment” (Hochaufklärung), placed increasing emphasis on the vindication of the institution of family with respect to the individuals who fall in love and who get married in order to express that love. In the process, the marital partners were understood as both leaving prior family structures and inaugurating a family of their own ex nihilo. This was part of a wider cultural shift, but it had immediate ramifications in the philosophical accounts of marriage. Pufendorf still thought that in marriage the wife was “admitted into” her husband’s family.43 One hundred years later, Hamann likened the act of getting married to the divine creation described in Genesis. As Hegel would put it in his Elements of the Philosophy of Right (1821): “Through marriage a new family constitutes itself, which is autonomous for itself against the tribes and houses from which it has issued; its connection to them has as its basis only the natural relationship of the blood, the new family [has as its basis] ethical love.”44 This understanding of the family clearly shared a formal affinity with the German Idealists’ insistence on the autonomy of the human subject, in terms of spontaneity, self-sufficiency, and independence. Marriage simply recapitulated at an intersubjective level what Kant, Reinhold, and Fichte had claimed happened in everyday self-consciousness. For Reinhold the spontaneity of our “representing” faculties provide hints toward an autonomous “self-in-itself”;45 for Fichte the absolute I “posited” itself in a presuppositionless act of freedom; and even for the mature Hegel “subjectivity” (of the Concept, for instance) meant a kind of self-referentiality that had worked away all externality, that is to say, in which all difference is internal.46 It did not take long for thinkers as interested in syncretism and consilience as the German Idealists to notice this formal analogy and to set out to show why it necessarily obtained and what that meant for the theory of marriage. It also came in handy for some pragmatic considerations, as it turned out. While Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals (1797) described a marital relation that was dependent only on pure reason, his text was rather explicit

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that this autonomy pertained only to the union’s metaphysical aspect, and that anthropological factors (such as man-made laws, social customs, etc.) might yet play a role in how marriage is actually lived. But “between” Kant and the Romantics (“between” only in the sense of a historical development, since Kant and his unruly disciples wrote their texts over the exact same period), a strange historical fact intervened to change that: philosophers got married. As Karl Rosenkranz noted in the first biography of Hegel, who had waited much longer than most of his colleagues to get married, the year of Hegel’s nuptials found the thinker at a crossroads between an old way and a new way of combining philosophy and marriage: The philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth century still hewed to the scholastic typus of the unwed thinker: Bruno, Campanella, Descartes, Spinoza, Malebranche, Leibniz, Wolf, Locke, Hume, Kant. The latter was in Germany the last of those confirmed bachelors [Hagestolze] and their bad theories of marriage. Fichte was the first world-historical philosopher who got married. After him we see Schelling, Herbart, Krause, Wagner, Troxler, and even Catholics like Franz von Baader, all married.47

What Rosenkranz did not say: they also got divorced. France had passed Europe’s most liberal divorce law in 1792, and while the Protestant German states had allowed divorce under certain circumstances since the Reformation, the right was significantly expanded as more and more of those states came under French rule.48 Schelling’s wife Caroline was once widowed, once divorced (from August Wilhelm Schlegel, no less) when they wed; Dorothea Schlegel divorced her husband for Schlegel; their muse in Jena, Sophie Mereau, had ended a loveless marriage (with the aid of Johann Gottfried Herder) and would end up marrying the poet Clemens Brentano. This of course put the lie to any remaining notions that marriage was the continuation of overarching historical (dynastic) structures that were simply to be accepted as “givens” by the marital partners themselves. Family could be created without any reference to outside factors (class, creed, custom), and, since it could now be dissolved, it was sustained by nothing more than the marital partners’ own autonomous faculties of reason and sensibility. Unlike Kant, Rosenkranz’s “last confirmed bachelor,” the German Romantics and Idealists thought that marriage’s metaphysical autonomy had implications for the lived practice of marriage, for the way it was codified in law and adjudicated in the courts. Autonomy for them meant that the marital relation was legally independent from societal, religious, and historic pressures.



The spontaneity that the metaphysics of marriage in the wake of Kant imputed to this relationship made it attractive in another respect as well. Introduced into German philosophy by Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Herder, and Kant, the opposition between “the organic” and “the mechanical” was a mainstay in late eighteenth-century thought.49 The organic was something that came about not by the fusion of independent parts but rather by a process of internal development or evolution: “An organized being is more than a machine; for [a machine] has only motive power, while the organized being possesses a formative power, and indeed one that it communicates to the materials that do not have [that power] (it organizes the latter).”50 The organic possessed the power to spontaneously determine itself—it was organized according to laws without having those laws come from the outside. It did not take long for this preoccupation with vitalism to become manifest in a number of areas of interest, from poetry, where it spawned the notion of autopoiesis, to the realm of politics, where the “mechanical” modern world of constitutional monarchies was contrasted with “organic” states past and future. Unlike Kant’s account of marriage, Romantic and Idealist accounts, guided by metaphysics that were explicitly monistic, construed consciousness, marriage, and society as analogous: understanding the nature of the one allowed for inferences about the potential organization of the other. That also meant that the autonomy from established and “given” authority that was to obtain in the realm of consciousness and in marriage was to be replicated in the political realm as well. The Romantics and Idealists were repulsed by the arbitrariness and atomism of bourgeois civil society, by the divisions between classes, professions, and ways of understanding the world that it relied upon, and they found in ancient Greece a vision of a community that, as one twentieth-century acolyte of the terminal moraines of this idea put it, “was neither divinely created like earlier ones, nor organized as a conglomerate of profane potentials like modern ones, but rather begotten erotically.”51 Modern community, in other words was an assemblage of autonomous parts, but ancient Greece offered a vision of a community that was sexually conceived like a single organism. In this context, “erotically” meant not just that community members related to each other more fully or more intimately than the participants of civil society or the bourgeois economy; it also meant that these communities were born of individual interests and attractions, rather than of some external goal or some shared essence. F. D. E. Schleiermacher, for instance, gravitated towards communities brought together by a “free

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sociality” (   freie Sittlichkeit) that required no common purpose or shared ancestry to unite it.52 Hegel similarly was fascinated by those communities that sprang into existence spontaneously, rather than being decreed by tradition or constitution— communities like the early Christian church or the Greek polis; other Idealists and Romantics gravitated to the Pietist sects that had sprung up in Germany throughout the eighteenth century for much the same reasons. Autonomous marriage thus provided an account of how human beings might relate more comprehensively outside of the bounds of the mercantile ethic of the emerging bourgeois public sphere. And it was an account that granted marriage autonomy from such supposed facts of human existence as morality and history. Marriage offered a way of thinking intersubjective structures that were binding while not resting on such factors. Pietism and Plato also combined to suggest to German Idealist and Romantic communitarianism why certain kinds of relationships could spring into existence ready-made: because the whole that they represented actually preceded the parts that they seemed to unite. Fichte’s “complete unification,” Hegel’s conception of love, and Schlegel’s understanding of androgyny imported this holism into the sphere of the erotic. This interest in a whole that would exceed the aggregate of the elements united in it, because it preceded them, was one of the two main threads that run through the metaphysics of marriage shared to a large extent by Jena Romanticism and early Idealism and that bridge the jagged and amorphous divide between the two. The second main thread was expressed paradigmatically by Fichte in his 1798 System of Ethics (System der Sittenlehre): “The concept of marriage . . . is already contained in the mere concept of love.”53 Or, as Schlegel puts it: “Love and marriage are different, but perfect love transitions into marriage and the other way around.”54 The notion that love and marriage are ontologically indistinct constitutes the differentia specifica of the Romantic and Idealist metaphysics of marriage. As we have seen, this does not mean, however, that the early Idealists and Romantics were of the opinion that no theory of marriage was required to supplement the theory of love—instead, the question from Fichte onward was how to translate the intuition that there is nothing that distinguishes love from marriage into the realm of law and custom, an arena where rights and duties, not feelings, are concerned. The equation of love and marriage is a profoundly modern, bourgeois, and, that is to say, anti-aristocratic topos: the newly ascendant “third estate” laid claim to a new moral consciousness over and against the old “courtly”



morality that had defined love precisely in opposition to arranged, dynastic, and profoundly heteronomous marital unions.55 Often, this opposition between aristocratic and bourgeois amorous practice also implied a confrontation between older and newer literary forms describing such amorous practice—the status of literary form, of conventional language, became one of the central problems in the Romantic discourse of marriage. If traditional and conventional marriages and dalliances (as well as their literary counterparts) constituted an untoward textualization of what ought to be an absolute and ineffable force, then how could the new conception of love and marriage be made textual in either theory or literature? These approaches, their outlook on the marital philosophy of the Enlightenment, and their philosophical background were shared both by those thinkers usually grouped as German Idealists and by those who are today mostly associated with Romanticism. Not only did these thinkers cohabit, collaborate, engage in trysts with or marry one another, they shared an awareness of the critical philosophy of Kant, a sense of its importance in coming to terms with a particular moment in history (characterized above all by the French Revolution and the aftereffects of the Enlightenment), and a sense of its limitations. When it came to marriage in particular, they further shared a sense of the limitations of the different strands of Enlightenment in addressing the question. Instead of empiricism, natural law, or even sensualism, they drew on resources that either preceded the Enlightenment or were by and large inimical to it—above all Platonism. Accordingly, the phrase “early Romantic and Idealist metaphysics” will reoccur frequently in the following chapters. It is important to emphasize that of course this phrase is not meant to suggest an identity between the early Idealist project and the early Romantic one— certainly, while many congruencies and much personal overlap exist, the two are by no means coterminous, and a growing body of scholarship is devoted to sounding out exactly how these projects relate to one another. As the foregoing makes clear, however, the reason the formula is deployed here anyway is that in their marital theories, the two groups tended to overlap to an astonishing degree. In fact, the period to which the bulk of this study is devoted (roughly the years 1794 to 1801) coincides with the period during which the two groups seem to have thought about marriage only in dialogue with one another and across disciplinary boundaries—the heyday of this “early Romantic and Idealist metaphysics” passes precisely at the moment in which Romantic construals of the family and Idealist conceptions of it begin to diverge decisively, a gradual tectonic shift that culmi-

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nates in Hegel’s pointed rebuke of Lucinde in his 1821 Elements of the Philosophy of Right. What caused this divergence was nothing less than the question of whether love and marriage could really be made to coincide without remainder. Before 1801, most of the thinkers considered in the following chapters thought that they might; in the decades after, they each embarked on different answers for why they couldn’t.

The Problem of the Product In December 1785, the ethnologist Georg Forster (1754–94) wrote a letter to his friend Thomas von Soemmering, a fellow professor at Kassel. Forster had traveled through the Russian steppes with his father, around the world with Captain Cook, and become a celebrity travel writer and professor by the age of twenty-three—and he had just married Therese Heyne, the vivacious and independent daughter of a Göttingen colleague. While he would cross paths with several of the protagonists of the metaphysics of marriage, his thinking about marriage belonged resolutely to the camp that considered the union in comparative and empirical terms. Unlike Pufendorf he had seen up close the Tahitian marital customs first described by Louis Antoine de Bougainville’s Voyage autour du monde (1771), which had caused such a stir in Europe. Bougainville’s vision of a more innocent, more immediate stage of culture had inspired Denis Diderot to write his Supplément au voyage de Bougainville (1775), a fullthroated defense of sexual liberty. Diderot’s Supplément had confronted the abstract demands of conventional morality, natural law, and theology with the vision of a concrete morality that maximizes human happiness. Forster’s account of Tahitian life in his own Voyage round the World (1777) owed less to Rousseau’s “noble savage” and strove for a much more realistic picture of the lives of indigenous peoples, including their sexual mores. Such resolute adherence to concrete observation notwithstanding, Forster’s letter reflects on his newfound marital bliss in terms that transcend the empirical and stray decisively into the metaphysical realm. He praises marriage to his (as yet unmarried) friend as “the happiest state on earth,” but he adds a qualification: One has to remind oneself that one always remains a human being, that there is no bliss [Glückseligkeit] like that dreamed-of state of the angels in heaven, which persists without interruption. Such a state would be without consciousness


introduction and thus would cease being happiness. No, everything in human life goes in spurts and with intervals.56

Over time Georg and Therese Forster’s marriage would bear out this qualification all too forcefully: If all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way, the Forsters were unhappy in a way that was miles removed from typical eighteenth-century morality. “In terms of our senses, nature simply did not create us as a married couple,” Therese wrote in a remarkable letter to her father as the relationship finally broke off for good in March of 1793: “His infinite generosity sought to unite things in our marriage that could not be reconciled. . . . For a woman cannot be one man’s spouse and another man’s love.”57 Therese had quickly tired of their union and had numerous affairs; Forster seems to have in each case suggested something like a ménage à trois, only to be rebuked. Their contemporaries assumed that Foster himself was carrying on an affair with Caroline Böhmer, a young widow and partisan of the French Revolution whom he met in Mainz and who would eventually be married to both A. W. Schlegel and F. W. J. Schelling. In Mainz Forster, a confirmed Jacobin, was instrumental in establishing France’s first client republic on German soil, and the whispers about an affair with Caroline were probably nothing but enemy propaganda. At Mainz, Caroline lived with Meta Forkel, another professor’s wife who had run away from her husband in Göttingen and who used her time in Mainz to translate Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man into German. The lives and dalliances of Forster and his circle provide eloquent testimony to how closely entwined the ideas of political revolution coming out of France and the United States were with ideas of sexual liberation in Germany. At the same time, as Forster’s 1785 letter attests, Forster (like Huch) remained cognizant of the creaturely limits placed on sexual liberation: unlike Bougainville and his enthusiastic readers, Forster regarded the “spurts” and “intervals” in marriage, its internal discontinuity as irreducible. An “edenic” state of the kind Bougainville diagnosed among his Tahitians would, Forster thought, “be without consciousness and thus would cease being happiness.” Instead of the vision of “noble savages” for whom morals and desire were never in disharmony, the institution of marriage necessarily concealed or contradicted the “spurts” and “intervals” of actual human affect; and being married, as Forster explains to his unwed friend Soemmering, means balancing the awareness of the duration of the “happiest state on earth” with the facts that subtend that state and that at times confirm it, at others seem to subvert it.

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Forster died before the Romantic and the Idealist movements sprang up in earnest, and his connection to their main protagonists was at best indirect. However, his 1785 letter foreshadows a central problem of the metaphysics of marriage, one that beset any kind of marriage theory that thought institution and feeling as essentially reconcilable given the right circumstances. It was a problem that would find its most radical encapsulation almost a century later in the marital philosophy of Friedrich Nietz­sche. In 1881’s Daybreak, Nietzsche points out that “the institution of marriage doggedly holds on to the belief that love, although a passion, is capable of duration as such, yes that enduring life-long love could be made into a rule.”58 Marriage creates a structure that cannot possibly line up exactly and at all times with the feelings it codifies. As the Romantic poet Achim von Arnim put it in a poem included in his 1810 novel Poverty, Wealth, Guilt, and Penance of the Countess Dolores (Armut, Reichtum, Schuld und Buße der Gräfin Dolores): “I compare a happy marriage to the pendulum of a clock / Wrought finely of alloyed metal in the right proportion. / No matter how much it expands inside with the changes in warmth, / It never shows outside and never leads astray the clock.”59 Unlike a friendship, which may remain unperturbed and genial for decades, it is hard to imagine a marriage in which the intensity of feeling (Arnim’s inevitable “change in warmth”) does not fluctuate beyond the bounds of the “to have and to hold” at one time or another. And unlike love, which one feels or one doesn’t, marriage stands always already in an ironic relationship to the feelings it expresses. As Mephistopheles asks in Goethe’s Faust, is not every human promise of “eternal love” automatically a lie, given the transience both of human beings and of their flighty emotions: “Then deathless faith and love, a generous surge, / About that single allo’erpowering urge . . . / will that be so sincere as well?”60 Nietzsche, as we will see in chapter 8, is ambivalent on how to read the relationship between this commotion of feelings and the larger structure this commotion underwrites. At times, he seems to suggest that this makes marriage a life-denying institution, straitjacketing the roiling passions and submitting them to a false idol of the subject’s own making. At other times, however, Nietzsche suggests that this third thing the marriage partners create is something quite literally “superhuman” (übermenschlich), something that elevates human beings beyond what they, in their passionate, momentary, local selves, could ever aspire to. His Zarathustra proclaims marriage “the will by two for creating the one that is more than those who created it.”61 For Nietzsche, the “unification” the German Idealists saw



as the essence of marriage thus necessarily has to come to rest in a third thing, namely, the marriage itself, which is neither identical with the two partners (or at least not at all times) nor entirely alien to them either. The fact that an immediate predecessor of the German Idealists and one of their sharpest critics should agree on this uncanny third term, and the reason we skip from German Idealism’s prologue to its epilogue in tracing it, is simply that the thinkers of early German Idealism and Romanticism by and large attempted to either deny or sidestep the point Nietzsche makes here, trying to minimize the impact of this third term that is “more than those who created it.” On first glance, a reader may be forgiven for thinking that this “one that is more than those who created it” might in fact refer not to a marital unit but instead to a child. And indeed, throughout the period under consideration, the relationship between the couple and their child and the couple and their marriage was conceived of as roughly analogous. Just how roughly became an issue as the eighteenth century wore on. In the thought of the Enlightenment marriage and childbearing had been fused. Before long, the two began to drift apart: according to Kant, marriage could be justified even if it begat no children; but for Franz von Baader, writing in the early nineteenth century, marital unification was far superior to the mere merging of biological material in procreation. In either case, the child remained a potent symbol for the more restrictive qualities of that third term which the will brought into and kept in existence, that bond that endured even if its ground had shifted or disappeared. After all, when a marriage remains juridically constant as it degenerates from a loving union into a quarrelsome civil war, does it not behave much like a child that its parents bring into the world and have to care for and sustain, no matter in which direction it develops? Significantly, the theories of marriage considered in the chapters that follow tend to sidestep children— either the model couples concerned are actually childless, or else the children do not alter the actual essence of the union that produced them. What lies behind this reticence, as we shall see, is discomfort not with the fact of biological reproduction, but rather with the objective, enduring, and binding element of marriage in general—Nietzsche’s “duration” of “passion,” Forster’s bliss without “spurts and intervals.” Children are sidelined in these theories because the writers in question seek to identify the marriage itself as much as possible with the feelings that undergird it at any given moment. They treat love and marriage as essentially indistinct, which usually means that the moment

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the love has ended, the marriage is over too, and that, vows or none, the moment two individuals have fallen in love, they are essentially married already. This equation has two important corollaries: little of what goes by the name of “marriage” in everyday existence can lay claim to “really” being a marriage; and since love and marriage are pragmatically distinct, an account needs to be given of what exactly marriage is good for, what it adds to love, and what elements of love it might pervert. The peculiarly bourgeois configuration of love and marriage is one of semi-autonomy: love and marriage are not mutually exclusive, or somehow complementary (as in some forms of courtly love); nor are they identical. While the texts about love and marriage at the turn of the nineteenth century are extremely varied, the one constant that runs through them is this semicongruence of love and marriage. What nevertheless distinguishes love and marriage, even in someone like Fichte who insists that they are functionally identical, is nothing other than the question of discourse conceived in the broadest possible terms. Marriage relies on human artifice, construction, law, language, and literature, unlike love, which in its immediacy is supposed to transcend them. This is what makes marriage the much more interesting concept to the history of ideas. After all, the insistence on the discursivity of marriage entails an admission of its inherent historicity. Where love wears the garb of something that simply exists, transhistorically and naturally, marriage is always inscribed with convention, with “second” nature, as Hegel would call it. Or, to speak with Kierkegaard’s “young man,” there is a sediment of the “will” in marriage— of a decision made, of raw life being corralled into a coherent, lasting narrative, into “duration.” But its “discursivity” is to be taken even more literally: From the “I do” to the marriage manual, marriage depends on text, tradition, ritual, or simply common scripts of domestic life. So, of course, can a love relationship. However, a marriage is successful when it follows these texts; love, when considered in isolation, is supposed to shatter these texts, the rote conventions they embody. Some of what happens in a marriage ceremony up to the present day is the putting-into-text of something that supposedly previously escaped textualization. But putting something into text, submitting something supposedly extradiscursive to signification, means leaving it open to nuancing, to ironization in a number of ways. It is hard to imagine a sham love affair, but it is quite easy to imagine a sham marriage. Love, as Fichte pointed out, is over when it is over. Marriage is always necessarily at variance with the emotions and desires that subtend it.



In defining and grounding the institution of marriage differently, the thinkers considered in the study sought to critique uncanny sociality through figurations of erotic intimacy. If noninstitutional agreement between part and whole were possible in a loving marital couple, then why not in larger groups, or society as a whole? This communitarian ideal had its antecedents in the early Christian church, in medieval monastic culture, and, most immediately, in the Pietist communities that sprang up in central Europe in the late seventeenth century and remained dominant throughout the eighteenth. Even German Enlightenment culture had proffered its own version of this ideal—paradigmatically in Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s Nathan the Wise (Nathan der Weise, 1779), which aimed to inculcate in its audience an instinctive feeling for the unity of “all” religions (meaning the three Abrahamic religions) rather than the particular tenets that seem to distinguish them. All of these provided marriage theories that told the story of lovers (and congregations) reuniting particulars rent asunder by original sin or human artifice. Whether it was Enlightenment sentimentalism or Pietist fellow feeling, the bases for such marriage theories were almost entirely anchored in faith and sensibility. The unity that marriage was able to restore had to be sensed; it could not be rationally or theoretically proven, described, or determined. This is precisely where the generation of thinkers that came of age in the wake of Kant differed from their philosophical and theological forebears. Kant’s critical philosophy had insisted that “the starry heavens above” and “the moral law within” had to become part of the same cosmos, and those inspired by him sought to find bases for unification that would withstand the strict precepts of “all-destroying Kant.” If the refusal of ossification into institution or third term was to be theoretically vindicated rather than sentimentally asserted, it ultimately rested on a metaphysical picture, that is to say, a picture of what human beings were like before individuation. The metaphysics of marriage of early German Idealism and Romanticism are the first, and perhaps most explicit, way of answering this question, of rationalizing and secularizing the sentimental and theological bases of the identity claim of love and marriage. In so doing, however, they set the stage for many of the dominant political fantasies of the nineteenth century and come to account for much of what fascinates and terrifies in that century’s intellectual history. When John Humphrey Noyes founded his intentional community in Oneida, New York, when Charles Fourier envisioned the free love of the communities he called phalanstères, when the poet Stefan George grouped

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young men around him only by the power of his poetic voice, then the ideal was each time that of a spontaneous, autonomous coming-together that would not simply ossify into a replica of the strictures of the outside world. It is this tradition that tries to conceive of love and marriage as fundamentally indistinct, recognizing no autonomous institutional aspect to marriage. This prima facie counterintuitive claim is one all of the texts grouped here under the moniker “metaphysics of marriage” make in one way or another. And while this kind of vision of human community is as old as communal life itself, theoretically vindicating this agreement between the individual (his or her errant feelings) and the universal (institution, convention, tradition) in such a way that the whole does not exceed or differ from its parts cannot be the province of an anthropology, a political theory, or a purely historical account. Instead, it ineluctably refers the particulars so unified to a metaphysical horizon. While the (at least potential) identity of the momentary feeling of love with the enduring structure of marriage implicitly subtends all bourgeois conceptions of eroticism, it turns out to be quite difficult to offer a theory that establishes their identity without taking a metaphysical route. Most typically this involves assuming that the unification of lovers only restores an original unity that preexisted the particulars unified in love. Only because the unity exists already on an ideal plane (as something absent, as an edenic state fallen from, as a telos to be reattained) can the united couple not face the coupled particulars as an uncanny third thing. Starting from the atomistic individual would make it very difficult to imagine a case in which the institution would not exceed the subjectivities united under it. The possibility of remainderlessness to some extent calls for a metaphysical approach—and the problem of the product, the ossified third term, threatens that approach in its very foundations.

chapter one

The Metaphysics of Dignity: Marriage in Kant and Fichte


he era of the Romantic and Early Idealist metaphysics of marriage co­ incides with a kind of “Fichtean moment” among the Young Turks of German philosophy. Several of them had studied with Fichte (Mereau, for example), others with his predecessor Karl Leonhard Reinhold (Hölderlin, for instance); for many others, the encounter with Fichte and his work marked a profound turning point in their thinking. Even those who had not encountered Fichte directly drew on resources furnished by Fichte’s philosophy to found their philosophies of love, marriage, and sociality. To be sure, those philosophies themselves were developed during a period in which thinkers such as Schlegel, Mereau, and Hölderlin were beginning to modify, challenge, or outright reject Fichte’s project. Nevertheless, Fichte provided a critical vocabulary and a more overtly political twist on Kant­ ian critical philosophy on which his younger contemporaries could draw in elaborating their theories of marriage; they may not have been inclined to follow his theory of marriage directly, but in discussing marriage they were inevitably in dialogue with Fichte’s metaphysics. What is more, the mo­ nism, emphasis on the Absolute, and unification characteristic of Fichte’s metaphysics had ramifications for the question of marriage, even when considered independently from his own actual theory of marriage. Fichte thus adumbrated many of the central lemmata that were to characterize the Romantic and Idealist metaphysics of marriage going forward. Born into poverty in 1762, Johann Gottlieb Fichte began the 1790s in relative obscurity, working as a private tutor in Zürich. It was his Attempt at a Critique of All Revelation (Versuch einer Kritik aller Offenbarung) of 1792, mistakenly believed by many to be a work of Kant, that made him one of the most visible exponents of the new critical philosophy and would

the metaphysics of dignity


eventually lead to his appointment at Jena. When he arrived at Jena in May 1794, Fichte was greeted by nearly rapturous excitement among the students. Since he had published only three texts at the time, it is likely that much of this excitement stemmed from Fichte’s reputation as a po­ litical radical—a reputation founded on a pair of treatises, A Discourse on the Reclamation of the Freedom of Thought from the Princes of Europe, Who Have Hitherto Suppressed It and A Contribution toward Correcting the Public’s Judgment of the French Revolution, both from 1793.1 This Jacobin nimbus persisted for the duration of his tenure in Jena and contributed to his dismissal from his post in 1799 amidst accusations of atheism. Upon arriving at Jena, Fichte immediately began elaborating the imposing theoretical edifice he called the “Doctrine of Knowledge” or Wissenschaftslehre, designed to transcend a number of “dualisms,” which in his view hampered Kantian philosophy, in the direction of a monis­ tic metaphysics. Given his reputation, it seems clear that his admirers in Jena regarded this seemingly arcane undertaking as imbued with political resonance. When Fichte came to explore the nature of love and marriage in the context of this monistic project, he struck a peculiar arc between theory of consciousness (the Wissenschaftslehre) and political theory, an arc that was to form the basis of all subsequent Romantic and Idealist at­ tempts at a metaphysics of marriage. Starting in 1794, Fichte laid out this project in repeated attempts and with a series of modifications spanning two decades. After several prefa­ tory texts on the tasks and procedures of such a Wissenschaftslehre pro­ duced for his Jena lectures, he published the Foundations of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre (Grundlage der Gesammten Wissenschaftslehre) in installments in 1794/95. Just two years later, he presented a course of lec­ tures entitled An Attempt at a New Presentation of the Wissenschaftslehre (Versuch einer neuen Darstellung der Wissenschaftslehre, 1797/98), which he insisted changed only the method of presentation (nova methodo), not the content of his philosophy. Later versions of the Wissenschaftslehre were either presented as lecture courses or published as books in 1804, 1812, and 1813. His forays into social philosophy in the Foundations of Natural Right (Grundlage des Naturrechts, 1796) and The System of Ethics (System der Sittenlehre, 1798) both proceed “according to the principles of the Wissenschaftslehre”—and even his popular philosophy and political writings must be understood before this systematic backdrop. The Foundations of Natural Right according to the Principles of the Wissenschaftslehre, containing the appendix in which Fichte sets out his views on “Family Law,” was published in 1796, at a time when many of the


chapter one

thinkers who were to dominate early Idealism and Jena Romanticism had moved from exploring Fichte’s thought to exploring their misgivings with his thought. And indeed, at first blush, the text, which both hews closely to traditional philosophical thought about sex and retains that tradition’s mi­ sogyny, seems to have little in common with encomia offered to femininity and love in later Romantic texts such as Schlegel’s Lucinde. Nevertheless, many of the hallmarks of the Romantic metaphysics of marriage make their first, and in many cases most explicit, programmatic appearance in Fichte’s appendix. They are contained in Fichte’s axiomatic assertion that marriage constitutes a “moral communion”2 — one that effects a “com­ plete unification” (vollständige Vereinigung) of two persons, “which is its own end.”3 Fichte establishes marriage as a moral rather than juridical union, based on love and thus beyond the reach of the state. For Fichte this means that love and marriage are not essentially distinct, marriage being simply the outward recognition or expression of a preceding love relation. By making marriage only about love, Fichte completely severs marriage from the religious sphere and God’s law (“positive religion,” as Hegel calls it),4 which guarantees the absolute freedom to marry (when love is pres­ ent) and justifies divorce (when love is no longer present).5 These would turn out to be some of the central articles of faith of the metaphysics of marriage propounded by the Romantics and the Idealists; but the congruencies with their project do not end there. Like them, Fichte grants the relationship primacy over the terms related in it, makes love absolute, and understands sexuality as a drive to unification that precedes and grounds the political. Moreover, Fichte establishes the autonomy of marriage speculatively: he is led to his picture of the marital relation and its independence of political and religious factors not by observation or aspiration but rather by the deductive mechanics of his monistic meta­ physics. Fichte understood Kant’s system as overly dualistic and aimed to unite practical and theoretical philosophy in one single principle, which would provide the structure both of the self-conscious subject and of the marital union. As we shall see, these two sets of concerns, political on the one hand, speculative on the other, come into conflict with one another, and what is known and enacted through “love,” as Fichte construes it, re­ mains ambiguous. The decisive step in the formation of a properly Idealist or Romantic metaphysics of marriage was precisely the clarification of the (quasi-)epistemic status of love, i.e., what exactly is felt in and through love. This happens through the association or downright identification of love with the Absolute, which is of one piece with the Romantics’ dethron­ ing of Fichte’s absolute I.

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Apologizing for Lady Sensuality Fichte’s account of sexuality and marriage in the Foundations draws on a long philosophical tradition, namely, of identifying men and women with form and matter, but he modifies this tradition in light of a particular kind of monism, and with a direct reference to self-consciousness drawn from Kant’s critical philosophy. By doing so, Fichte moves well beyond the ac­ count of marriage Kant offered around the same time. Male and female furnished the metaphorical ground for Greek thinking about form and matter beginning with the pre-Socratics: the male was said to correspond to the activity of form, and the female to passive, formless matter. Aristot­ le’s Metaphysics and On the Generation of Animals first introduced this gendered opposition, which reappeared in the thought of Saint Anselm of Canterbury and Thomas Aquinas. For Francis Bacon it furnished the very project of philosophic inquiry: (male) reason had to dominate and form (female) nature. If the philosophical tradition consistently appealed to the seemingly self-evident facts of gender and sexuality to ground its specu­ lations,6 often enough their thrust was reversed, as metaphysics came to influence philosophers’ views of sexuality itself. Not only were subject and object, form and matter behaving like men and women, but men and women were now said to relate to each other according to the logic of form and matter. This was perhaps inevitable if metaphysics was to say anything about the sexual relationship at all. As Sylviane Agacinski has recently pointed out, it is not entirely obvious that this relationship is a proper part of meta­ physics at all: “On first blush, [metaphysics] situates itself resolutely be­ yond that enigmatic determination [of sex], and one needs to ‘descend’ into the more terrestrial regions of anthropology or the ‘human sciences’ in order to encounter actual men and women.”7 Indeed, to speak only for the period we are discussing, philosophers variously consigned sexual difference to philosophical anthropology, to the philosophy of nature, to natural right, and to theology. It might thus seem that the presence of sex in the realm of the metaphysical is (as in Bacon’s description of reason and nature) purely metaphorical. The Idealist and Romantic metaphysics of marriage depended on the move from a metaphysical system that relied on gender and sexuality only metaphorically (consigning the real thing to philosophical anthropology) to one that vindicates sexual difference and puts it to work metaphysically—namely, from Kant to Fichte. In the “Apologia for the Senses” (Apologie für die Sinnlichkeit) offered in his 1797/98 Anthropology,8 Immanuel Kant seems to toy openly with


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gendered language when discussing the relationship between “sensuality” (die Sinnlichkeit)9 and the understanding (der Verstand). Sinnlichkeit, which in German can mean either sensuousness or sensuality and is in any case a feminine noun, is “in ill repute,” he claims. Philosophy usually indicts it for “confusing the imagination,” lording over the understand­ ing, whose “servant” it is supposed to be by nature, and for its general untrustworthiness.10 The “cause of all this iniquity” of which Lady Sen­ suality stands accused is nothing other than “the [element of] passivity in sensuality.” The understanding seems to think of the senses as a regular Xanthippe, a hectoring, domineering shrew. Nevertheless, sensuality is unjustly blamed, Kant maintains, refuting one after another the three charges laid at her doorstep. The crux of his “Apologia” for the senses is an adaptation of the First Critique’s axiomatic assertion that “concepts without intuitions are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.”11 Whatever is furnished by the senses, he points out, can never confuse, overwhelm, or deceive by itself—we either sense some­ thing or we don’t. It is only once we have applied concepts (of the under­ standing) to the sensory manifold that error becomes possible at all. We err not in perceiving but rather in constituting the objects of perception in and through the categories. Lady Sensuality is thus being blamed for a failure of the understanding—her “ill repute” is in fact a result of the understanding’s profligacy. Nevertheless, the vindication of sensuality’s virtue is not as complete as it may at first seem, for when Kant identifies sensuality’s utter passivity as the “cause of all this iniquity,” the Aristotelian form-matter distinction turns out to be at the heart of the “Apologia” as well. The senses take the blame for something the understanding failed to do—but that something is nothing other than to guide, to form, to restrain the sense data that throw themselves at the understanding. The thorough dichotomization of the form and content of an intuition in Kant’s meta­ physics comes at the price of the utter contingency of that very content— all it has to do is to show up, prepared to be molded by the conceptual apparatus, lest the concepts of the understanding be “empty,”12 a duality that becomes extremely important once the relationship between under­ standing and senses is gendered. Kant’s “Apologia for the Senses” thus involves the understanding’s re­ alization that very little in experience is really furnished by the senses, and that the determinations that can be either true or false are entirely its own projection onto the material. At the end of Kant’s thoroughly gen­ dered argument stands the realization that the raw matter of sense data is

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indeed so passive, so brute, and so unformed that any perceived failure in the material is really a failure of the forming agency of the understanding. Once the understanding comes to recognize itself, that is to say, its own conceptual work, in the given data, those data are absolved of the charges of cheating, exaggerating, and confusing—but at the cost that they really no longer really exist (or at least are no longer available) outside of the determinations projected onto them by the understanding. Given the overtly gendered language with which Kant operates in his “Apologia,” it may seem surprising at first that when Kant describes the actual relationship of male and female outside of the metaphoric realm, the mechanisms he describes are entirely at odds with the simple schema he employs in the “Apologia.” Kant’s use of gendered language in the “Apologia for the Senses” (suggested initially perhaps by the simple fact that in German die Sinnlichkeit is feminine and der Verstand is masculine) is entirely metaphorical and does not bear on his understanding of the sexes as such. Difficult as Kant’s sense of humor is to fathom at times, his description of the lover’s quarrel between the domineering shrew Sensu­ ality and the dissolute Understanding so desperate to pin its failures on Sensuality is probably offered as parody. There are two places in Kant’s critical oeuvre in which he explicitly addresses the sexual relationship, the Metaphysics of Morals and the Anthropology. Kant’s account of the sexual relation (commercium sexuale) and marriage in the Metaphysics of Morals, unlike the one Fichte offered around the same time, never recurs in any specific sense to two sexes. Kant of course assumes that marital part­ ners are heterosexual (declaring any alternatives “unnatural”),13 and he also makes clear that women do not have the same political rights as men. But he never tethers these assertions to a theodicy of the sexes: he never attempts to explain why there would need to be two sexes, and why these two sexes need to be disposed toward interacting in the way traditionally postulated. Much to the contrary, insofar as he is offering a “metaphysi­ cal” basis for marriage, Kant clearly considers the marital partners equal to the point of interchangeability. It is not hard to see why: in keeping with the metaphysical project of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant has to reject the notion that such biological facts as the need for the reproduc­ tion of the species could furnish a ground for the sexual relation: “The end of begetting and bringing up children may be an end of nature, for which it implanted the inclinations of the sexes for each other; but it is not the requisite for human beings who marry to make this their end in order for their union to be compatible with rights.”14 Kant’s most central claims


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about the relationship of the sexes, in other words, make no reference to Bacon’s form/matter relation in the way his “Apologia” does. This is because Kant considers such points elements of an anthropolog­ ical description of the sexes (“Charakteristik,” as he calls it) rather than of a metaphysics of morals.15 But even when he gets around to providing such an anthropological description (in the early text Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime, as well as the aforementioned Anthropology), he tends to construe the relationship between the sexes very differently from that between the male-gendered understanding and the female-gendered senses earlier in the same volume. Of course, he insists on “submission” of one element before the other, but he concludes that this submission is “mutual” (wechselseitig)—in other words “one has to submit to and be superior to the other” at once.16 While Kant’s “Charakteristik” in the Anthropology relies on various topoi of philosophical sexism, it never has recourse to the form/matter distinction with which his “Apo­ logia” toys in a metaphoric register. Kant may claim that women are the proper subjects of study for the anthropologist in the same way that men are the proper study of the metaphysician, he may claim that in a state of nature woman is a “house animal,”17 and he may assert that women want to be men, while “no man would want to be a woman”18 —yet he never turns to the Aristotelian picture of the sexual relation, or the Baconian one, claiming that woman simply contributes a natural substance to be transformed by male “form.” When Kant leaps to the defense of the beleaguered damsel Lady Sen­ suality, this figuration has no ramifications for Kant’s thought on gender, sexuality, or marriage elsewhere. The misogynous platitudes with which the passage toys (and which are one and all repudiated) thus seem drawn from a discourse Kant parodies, rather than from his own view of the rela­ tionship of the sexes, in either an anthropological or a metaphysical sense. But if Kant refuses to link the theory of consciousness and the theodicy of the sexes, the writings of his self-professed follower Fichte not only es­ tablished this link but made it systematically important: Not only are the categories of Fichte’s epistemology (the Wissenschaftslehre) gendered, but their relationship allows for inferences and analogies to the relationship of the sexes themselves. For Kant, the assault on the senses looked a lot like a hysterical masculine demonization of woman—but that likeness had no bearing on what was true of the relationship between men and women. For Fichte, on the other hand, the two are like each other not simply in metaphorical but also in functional terms, to the point that the lack of

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“dignity” (Würde) inherent in the mere receptivity of sensuality becomes the central node of the woman problem in his practical philosophy. And yet, even though Kant does not attempt to connect the “patience” or “receptivity” characteristic of the senses on the one hand and the prob­ lem of feminine dignity on the other, his “Apologia,” with its tongue-incheek reliance on gendered language, points to a problem that would dog anyone who would try to make that connection. After all, the “Apologia” rescues sensuality at the price of declaring its offending determinations a failure of projection on the part of the understanding. There is something disturbing about Kant’s joke: While he on the one hand refutes the gen­ dered attack on sensuality, he on the other hand defends sensuality’s vir­ tue by emphasizing, even totalizing her powerlessness—this lady’s honor is defended only at the cost of putting her into a coma. In the end, then, the self-enlightened understanding is left essentially in an echo cham­ ber —what it took to be sensuality (cheating, bossiness, etc.) turns out to be in fact nothing but the sum total of its own projections. Sensuality’s powerlessness is the same as the understanding’s omnipotence—but the other, the speculum, that with which the understanding believed itself in dialogue with, has altogether vanished. Clarity about their relationship means realizing that there is no relationship at all. Fichte’s critics would use this problem to attack not just his metaphysics of sexuality but his metaphysics tout court. It did not help matters that Fichte if anything exacerbated this prob­ lem. His monistic Idealism also reconceptualized the relationship between the senses and the understanding.19 Under the impression of Salomon Maimon’s criticism of what Henry Allison has dubbed Kant’s “discursivity thesis”20 (the notion that all human experience is based on the interactions of two “elements,” namely, the senses and the understanding),21 Fichte not only integrated the senses and the understanding into the province of the unitary “absolute I” but also changed the nature of their relationship: That part of cognition which the subject actively imposes on something that ap­ pears given to it (Kant’s “understanding”), he calls “(relative) I”; that part of cognition which appears to be given, but which in the final analysis turns out to be a “negative position” (a position against the I) of the “absolute I,” he calls Not-I. The theoretical part of his Wissenschaftslehre is meant to investigate how the I can be determined by the Not-I, whereas the practi­ cal part (which follows the former sequentially, but to which Fichte as­ signs priority)22 elucidates the imperative that the I determine the Not-I. As we shall see in the next section, Fichte not only recurs directly to this


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theory of consciousness in his theory of marriage but also relies on a pic­ ture in which Lady Sensuality, in danger of a knockout in Kant already, is something to be gradually “worked away” in the interest of a monis­ tic metaphysics. Fichte not only strengthens a link that Kant proposed semiseriously (if that) but also tethers it to something that leaves the sta­ tus of femininity, of Lady Not-I (unlike Lady Sensuality in Kant), in a position where her negation, her working-away by the I, is both telos and ethical imperative.

From Receptivity to the Problem of Feminine Dignity The starting point of Fichte’s “Deduction of Marriage,” the first appendix to his Foundations of Natural Right, is an assertion that would frame the debate among the Romantics and Idealists for years to come: “marriage is not at all just a juridical community like the state: it is a natural and moral community.”23 Not only is marriage not, or not just, juridical—its deduc­ tion too is not a matter of law. (The question of just how this community could be said to be “natural” became quite fraught among his Romantic and Idealist readers.) When Fichte claims he will “deduce” marriage, he means by this something quite different from what Kant means: Kant’s deductions sought to justify the use of certain concepts; Fichte means it as a gradual thickening or concretization of an indubitable first principle into a set of axioms, an approach pioneered by Descartes and Spinoza, but imported into Kantianism by Reinhold. When the structure Fichte assigns to marriage ends up looking very much like the structure he as­ signs to human self-consciousness, the reason for this is simply that both are analogous concretizations of the Absolute. Fichte’s system located this supposedly self-evident basis in the notion of the “self-positing I.” When the subtitle of Fichte’s Foundations of Natural Right claims that the text will establish the provisions of natural law from the “principles of the Wissenschaftslehre,” this means primarily this first “principle” of the self-positing I. This deductive procedure accounts for the pronounced dif­ ferences between Fichte’s theory of marriage and the one Kant provides in his Metaphysics of Morals. The Metaphysics of Morals appeared the same year as Fichte’s Foundations of Natural Right, and it is highly unlikely Fichte and Kant knew each other’s projects in any detail at the time. However, the similarities as well as the variances between the two works’ respective approaches to marriage, in terms of both the method used and the results arrived at,

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highlight the idiosyncrasies characteristic of Fichte’s approach, as well as of the metaphysics of marriage of later monistic thinkers. Both Fichte’s and Kant’s texts discuss morals exclusively in terms of their respective metaphysics. Rather than empirical facts and historical contingencies, the bodies of laws these texts generate are supposed to flow exclusively from determinations of reason.24 As we saw, this puts the theory of sexuality on a rather unusual footing: Both Kant and Fichte regard sexual difference as a fundamental aspect of human social existence but recognize that it is extremely hard to justify purely by recourse to reason. That does not mean that Kant and Fichte have to ignore sexual difference, but it means they cannot use sexual difference itself as a basis or a justification for their respective models of marriage. More important, perhaps, this also means that any supposed sexual essences (what women and men are naturally like) are inadmissible as foundational claims. As we saw, Kant does de­ scribe such essences, but he does so in his Anthropology under the moni­ ker of “Charakteristik,” which makes clear that he takes these essences to have no role in a project of metaphysical Wissenschaft. In offering a “metaphysics” rather than an anthropology of marriage, both Kant and Fichte rely on what they take to be the essential structure of reason (“in accordance with pure reason’s laws of right,” as Kant puts it).25 That, however, is where the fundamental point of difference in their methods emerges: Kant’s text attempts to establish its doctrine of right by reference to practical reason, whereas Fichte’s text proceeds “from the principles of the Wissenschaftslehre,” that is to say, by reference to a sys­ tem that unifies practical and theoretical reason in one edifice. Of course, Fichte, as a monist, never has the option of recurring simply to something like “pure practical reason.” Given that Fichte would thus have a hard time claiming anything less for his Foundations of Natural Right than that it proceeds according to the unifying principle of his monistic system, it may seem that the difference between Kant’s and Fichte’s discussions of the metaphysics of marriage is largely cosmetic. In the sequel, we shall see that this is not so. At their most basic, both Kant’s and Fichte’s accounts of marriage intro­ duce the concept to respond to a scandal inherent in sexual congress (commercium sexuale). What exactly that scandal is, and what, by extension, marriage can do to respond to it, will emerge as a key difference. Both Kant and Fichte are agreed that something in sex is at odds with the status of the human being as an autonomous qua reasonable creature—sex threat­ ens what Fichte calls “dignity” (Würde) and what Kant calls the “right of humanity in one’s own person” (Recht der Menschheit an seiner eigenen


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Person).26 And both also agree that the only way to ward off this inherent lack of dignity is to institutionalize the sexual relation through exclusivity and duration (i.e., monogamy): Kant does this by proposing the marriage as contract to mutual ownership; Fichte does it by proposing that love (of which marriage is but the outward expression) allows the loss of dignity to be recuperated. The central difference between their respective accounts lies in the sys­ tematic location assigned to the loss of human dignity entailed in sexual con­ gress. While Kant does not use the word dignity, he thinks that something in sex threatens to turn humans into something less than human. In sex people make each other into objects, which conflicts with the aforementioned right in one’s own person. Ultimately, then, Kant’s worry can be traced to the second formulation of the categorical imperative in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals: “Act such that you use humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means.”27 To have sex with a person is to turn that person into a means to some other end, or, as the Metaphysics of Morals specifies, it means acquiring a person’s body. Fichte, on the other hand, cannot rely on a categorical imperative (though he refers to means and ends throughout his “Deduction”),28 but rather has to frame the question of dignity, in keeping with his book’s sub­ title, with reference to the self-positing I of the Wissenschaftslehre. Just like Kant, Fichte bases his account on a particular aspect of sexual inter­ course that requires marriage, because it constitutes an affront to human spontaneity and autonomy. Our categorical apparatus (the understanding, in Kant’s vocabulary) brings order into the world in and through experi­ ence, and in Fichte’s practical philosophy we are furthermore called upon to actively assimilate into our own proper sphere that which seems merely given. It is this project of freely determining the material world according to our own autonomously generated laws that sex runs afoul of. The prob­ lem lies in the passivity inherent in sex, which runs counter to humanity’s status as rational, which for Fichte always means active, beings. “The char­ acter of reason,” Fichte explains, “is absolute activity: pure patience for the sake of patience is contrary to reason and cancels it out entirely.”29 Fichte’s worry, then, is that sexuality may lure us (or some of us) into this “pure patience” that conflicts with human reason (which is essentially active and positing) and therefore with human dignity. The phrase “for the sake of patience [Leiden]” indicates that the problem is not that human beings sometimes are passive, but that sexual attraction appears to com­

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mit them to making passivity their end, which Fichte’s metaphysics cannot allow. At first blush, the notion of a “passivity” in sex may not appear very dif­ ferent from Kant’s formula of voluntary objecthood: to be an object is to be passive, and in sex one “gives oneself” or even “surrenders” to another; passion may well turn one into some other person’s metaphoric “slave.” But Fichte has something much more literal in mind, although his text’s squeamishness leaves this something obscure. For Fichte, unlike Kant, claims that this problem exists only for women. Since men are “exclusively active” (nur thätig) in following their sex drives and women are by nature “exclusively patient” (nur leidend), the problem never arises for men: “It is thus not contrary to reason that the first sex make the satisfaction of its sexual drive an end, since that drive can be satisfied through activity.”30 It is only women, who are “naturally” passive, whose dignity is ever at stake. Unlike Kant, who emphasizes again and again the “mutual” (wechselseitig) character of the sexes’ “use” of each other, Fichte conceives of the dignity problem as profoundly asymmetrical, an asymmetry that reasserts itself when he proposes love as a way of addressing the problem of dignity. For Fichte, love enables woman to conceive of her passivity as an activity, and she elicits in man (who sees the truth of her utter submission) a responsive sympathy, which Fichte terms “magnanimity.” For Kant, in sex a man makes a woman into an object, and vice versa; at least in this regard he does not even seem to see a difference between mixed-sex and same-sex relations. For Fichte, however, natural impulses incline only women toward an unreasonable stance, which must then be addressed by love (institutionalized in marriage). It is love that allows woman to understand her passivity as a kind of activity, which serves to undo the ignominy of her (actual) submission; man has no need for any­ thing of the kind, since he is in point of fact active and thus dignified and reasonable. Daniel Morrison has drawn attention to the fact that Fichte makes a rather uncommon claim when he holds that sexuality and ratio­ nality are not fundamentally opposed or at least incompatible. For Fichte, “masculine sexuality and rationality are fraternal twins born of the same root: activity.”31 Kant clearly holds that sexuality and rationality are at least in principle opposed—any sexual activity threatens to conflict with human rationality. But when Fichte denies this idea, he also denies the symmetry of the loss of dignity entailed in sexual activity. Marriage in Kant addresses the same problem the same way in both sexes; marriage in Fichte addresses a different problem in both sexes differently.


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This one-sidedness flows directly from the fact that Fichte adduces his theory of consciousness (as expounded in the Grundlage der Wissenschaftslehre of 1794) to explain the loss of dignity in sex, whereas Kant recurs to a principle of practical philosophy. If there is a difference between the gender equality of the loss of dignity in Kant’s model and the essential inequality Fichte insists on, its source lies in their respective characteriza­ tions of “right of mankind” or “dignity.” After all, Kant’s principle applies to both sexual actors equally and gets them into exactly the same kind of trouble. And while Fichte himself turns to the language of means and ends quite frequently, he avoids using these terms to describe what exactly in sex runs afoul of human dignity, relying instead on the concepts of “pure patience” and “pure activity,” which are terms familiar from his theory of consciousness. Fichte introduces them in the second part of the Foundations of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre (Grundlage der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre, 1794; henceforth: GWL),32 which is meant to provide the “foundations of theoretical knowledge.”33 Here, Fichte attempts to explain how we can on the one hand hold onto the notion of the self-positing I (explored in the first part of the GWL), but on the other account for situations in which the I finds itself affected by something outside of itself (the Not-I), in par­ ticular in sensory experience. Fichte’s answer is that “the I posits itself as determined by the Not-I.”34 Fichte takes himself to have shown that an “absolute” I posits “itself” as a “relative” I, that is to say, as the kind of self we commonly suppose ourselves having—an I that is confronted with something that is not itself (the Not-I), which impinges on it from the outside as sensory experience. In §4, Fichte attempts to resolve a problem that results from this model: If the self-positing I is absolutely active, then how can it receive sense data that are clearly different from itself; how, in other words, can the I’s passivity (its “determinedness” [Bestimmtheit]) be accounted for, if all reality (including the Not-I) is posited by the ab­ solute I? Fichte’s solution is to propose the quantification of activity and passiv­ ity, then to suggest that the quanta of activity and passivity posited in I and Not-I correspond to each other in magnitude: The I is passive to the same degree as the Not-I is active (in sense perception, for example), and the reverse is the case in the I’s determination of the outside world (captured paradigmatically in the “I think,” which according to Kant’s transcenden­ tal deduction accompanies all our representations).35 But this relationship (Kant refers to it as a “relation” [Relation], Fichte calls the same concept

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a “mutual determination” [Wechselbestimmung]) could be thought from either side, with neither having priority over the other.36 This is something Fichte cannot allow, for it would cancel out the absolute self’s self-position in the “thetic” statement “I am.” If the absolute I could say “I am” only with reference to something other (a Not-I), then its activity could not be called an “absolute position” (absolutes Setzen). Fichte instead sug­ gests that it is not this “absolute I” that is patient in perception, only the “relative” one, which is “determined” and thus negated (it is something by virtue of not being something else). The “Not-I” attains reality only as the expression of the patience of the relative I. The intricacies of Fichte’s argument need not concern us here. What matters for the purposes of our discussion is that Fichte opens his discus­ sion with the concepts of pure patience and pure activity, but then moves through a whole array of reconfigurations of the initial position. The GWL could thus furnish any number of models for the sexual relation: mutual determination, quantified but prioritized determination, or absolute and essential activity/passivity. Why it is that Fichte opts for the latter will oc­ cupy us now. A first and most obvious possible reason for Fichte’s decision might be that something in the relationship of the sexes as it empirically unfolds is, in Fichte’s view, better expressed in the juxtaposition of abso­ lute activity/passivity. If anything, however, the opposite is true. The sexual inequality Fichte postulates has it source in a differential in dignity: Fichte’s central move, the naturally grounded loss of rational dignity, is of one piece with his monism, that is to say, with his appeal to a theory of consciousness rather than to a practical philosophy in justifying marriage. But what exactly does that move consist in? How exactly, in other words, does Fichte think woman loses her dignity? In the very first paragraph of his “Deduction,” Fichte indulges in what he himself admits is a tangent, providing a natural philosophical “justification” of sexual di­ morphism. It is likely that Fichte is relying here on a draft of a project on the origins of sexual difference, which never came to fruition, but which he mentioned in a letter to his publisher Cotta in 1795.37 According to this derivation of sexual dimorphism the species needs to reproduce, but it has to reproduce “into” something; it cannot simply ex­ haust itself in endless becoming. In order to introduce a certain intermit­ tence into the reproductive process, the generative principle is split into two sexes, only the totality of which makes up “the species” that actu­ ally reproduces. One of these sexes transmits the “matter,” the other the “form” of the species—hence the sexes are not merely separate but rather


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also different and complementary. This is a standard account of sexual dif­ ference in German Idealism, one that Schelling for example repeats al­ most exactly in his First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature (Erster Entwurf eines Systems einer Naturphilosophie, 1799).38 From the nature of sexual dimorphism, in other words a piece of natural philosophy, Fichte then transitions to a theory of consciousness that is grounded in the natural dimorphism of the sexes. How Fichte attempts to make this transi­ tion creates a serious problem for the remainder of his “Deduction.” Fichte introduces the idea of a sexual dimorphism as active /passive (thätig /leidend) in §2 of his “Deduction of Marriage.”39 Somehow this dimorphism has to furnish a basis for a differential in dignity between the sexes, dignity being for Fichte a metaphysical entity derived from the structure of human consciousness. Fichte begins the passage speaking not about a couple of human beings at all, but rather about their gametes; in fact, he is explicitly recapitulating Aristotle’s alignment of sperm and egg with form and matter respectively.40 Aristotle claims that the sperm con­ tains “that which acts and makes” the embryo what it is, “while that which is made and receives the form is the residue of secretion in the female.”41 Similarly, following Aristotle almost verbatim, Fichte opines that the fac­ tor that is distinct from the woman’s reproductive apparatus in gestation is “its first, moving principle,” “in isolation from the matter to be formed.”42 The egg then comes to stand in synecdochically for the whole female body: the woman provides not just the egg but rather the sustenance for the new body being formed according (as Fichte sees it) to the formal laws imposed by the sperm. It is easy to suppose that woman’s passivity thus has to do with reproduction—a move that Schopenhauer would make a few decades later: woman, Schopenhauer claims, “bears the guilt of life not by doing, but by suffering,” by which he means that “she pays her debt by the pains of childbirth.”43 If this were Fichte’s opinion on the source of the loss of dignity as well, woman would lose her dignity in and through gestation, and she would lose it “to” her fetus. This would commit Fichte to locat­ ing the loss of dignity in a means/ends distinction akin to Kant’s second formulation of the categorical imperative, rather than in the higher-order notion of passivity. Moreover, the loss of dignity would be incurred not in copulation but rather in reproduction—indignity would begin at concep­ tion. But reproduction, as Kant himself notes in the Metaphysics of Morals, has nothing to do with the essence of marriage—after all, marriages may well remain childless and still be recognized as legitimate.44 For both Fichte and Kant, then, the indignity is tied not to the product of sexual congress, but to the commercium sexuale itself: “Only through

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[sexual intercourse] does the wife subject her entire personality to the man,” Fichte writes.45 All marriages are and must be consummated, that is, they involve sex, but not all involve pregnancy. Fichte thus pushes his synecdoche into much more disturbing terrain: not only does the egg stand in for the woman, but the form/matter relation in turn stands in for the sex act itself. In other words, the sperm’s actions vis-à-vis the egg code for the commercium sexuale, in particular for the penetration involved in it. Fichte’s readers from the first recoiled from this disturbing picture of the sexual relation, but such revulsion ignores a systematic question: Why does Fichte need to think sex in these terms at all? His text cannot spell out the analogy between sexual intercourse and the relationship between form and matter. Instead it can only suggest this analogy metaphorically via the Aristotelian argument about sperm and egg. Fichte himself doesn’t seem convinced he’s found absolute activity and absolute passivity in sex, but it is clear he feels he needs to do so. The need to map the form/matter relation onto the sexual relation flows not from any possible conception of biological sexual difference (one cannot but wonder what exactly Johann Gottlieb and Johanna Fichte did in the bedroom that would qualify as the “forming” of “matter”), but rather directly from the dictates of Fichte’s theory of consciousness. No supposed natural “fact” can license the move from sexual congress to lack of dignity— only the implicit identification of “male” and “female” with “I” and “Not-I” respectively can do that. Fichte thus does not labor under the thrall of an empirical assumption (men are active, women passive) and then turn to the theoretical part of the Wissenschaftslehre to integrate that assumption into his deductive pro­ cess. Instead, he simply imports the distinction thätig/leidend from the Wissenschaftslehre in one piece. There are important ideological reasons for his choosing this particu­ lar item to import: In §4 of the GWL Fichte shows that the truth of the stark binary thätig/leidend is a relationship of mutual causality—a Wechselwirkung. Were he to posit that masculinity and femininity stand in a re­ lationship analogous to the Wechselwirkung between I and Not-I, Fichte’s construal of the sexual relationship would not be all that different from Kant’s: both sexes would act upon the other, thereby effecting a mutual loss of dignity. That Fichte decided not to take that road indicates quite clearly how determined he was not just to map the sexual relationship onto the categories of his theoretical philosophy but to make male and female correspond straightforwardly to the I (as purely active) and the Not-I (as purely passive) of the Wissenschaftslehre. Fichte’s likely reason for importing this particular binary from the Wissenschaftslehre binary


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and mapping it onto the relationship of the sexes sheds light on what at­ tracted the Romantics to his theory, in spite of its rather clinical treatment of love. Fichte chose to map male and female onto the I and Not-I because it ensured that the partners were inescapably referred to one another, that their relationship logically preceded them, and that their “complete uni­ fication” became their telos. A supreme principle authorizing purely for­ mal laws would not permit the kind of emphatic asymmetry characteristic of the juxtaposition of (determining) I and (to-be-determined) Not-I in Fichte’s theoretical philosophy. Fichte’s exposition of practical philosophy in the 1794 GWL proceeds from the principle that “the Not-I is posited as determined by the I.” Ultimately the task of the I is to fully absorb (by determining) the Not-I and thus to become identical with the absolute I. This is strictly speaking impossible, but it governs practical philosophy as a regulative idea. We approximate it in an “infinite approach” (unendliche Annäherung). We are thus faced with two entities that are to become one Whole, but whose merging necessarily has to remain incomplete. Fichte thus thinks the “complete unification” of the marital partners is directly analogous to the complete determination of the I by the Not-I, which is the ultimate task of practical reason.46 More generally, Fichte seems to want to think the sexual relationship as fundamentally a relation of dependence, a kind of dependence that lies at the heart of all community.47 After all, Kant’s couple, by virtue of the fact that each of its members risks relinquishing his or her dignity by engaging in commercium sexuale, remains both symmetrical and atomized.48 Kant’s lovers lose their dignity simultaneously only by accident, each by engaging in sex, but the loss of dignity of the one is not intrinsically related to that of the other. On Fichte’s account, on the other hand, the loss of dignity requires a certain kind of relationship, and it is this relationship, not the people involved in it, that creates and solves the problem of dignity. Fich­ tean (extramarital) lovers are always already referred to one another, one losing /entrusting her dignity to the other, whereas each of the Kantian lovers just happens to be in the same place where the other’s loss of dignity takes place. It is only in the Anthropology that Kant feels compelled to speculate on the ends nature might be pursuing by sexing the species. Only there do the “facts” of sexual difference make their appearance: the “greater power” of the man, the end “to bring both together in an intimate bodily unification . . . for the survival of the species,” and, most centrally for our purposes, the

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“inclination” “to make permanent their sexual community in a domes­ tic arrangement.”49 And it is only here that the two partners, “equal” in the Metaphysics of Morals,50 are in a relationship of dominance and sub­ mission: “The simple coming together [das beliebige Zusammentreten] of two persons is not sufficient for the unity and indissolubility of a single union; one party has to submit to the other and conversely one has to be somehow superior [irgendworin überlegen] to the other, in order to dominate and rule the other.” This is because a relationship of atomized, abstract equality is liable to sow the seeds of amour propre (Selbstliebe) and thus “constant strife [lauter Zank].”51 Once again, Kant’s account is emphatically anthropological: There is nothing in his picture of the hu­ man being as rational agent to suggest that “constant strife” will result from equality within marriage. Indeed, the same human relationship that he interprets in the tradition of Rousseau as one of co-dependence, when looked at metaphysically (as in the Metaphysics of Morals) is one of per­ fect equality in the context of the contract. Fichte, by contrast, anchors that co-dependence not in the creaturely aspect of the animal rationale but in its rational aspect—it follows from the structure of self-consciousness itself. Fichte’s gendering of I and Not-I is not accidental, or owed to system­ atizing zeal; much rather it stems from a concern to anchor the primacy of the relation over the related terms and to take seriously the “unification” effected in marriage. Only by relying on the relationship of constituens and constitutum to ground the concept of marriage can the model accommodate a striving for unity. Relying on one supreme principle of morality to ground the marital relationship yields two equal yet atomized individuals, and a union that is only secondary to the individuals. By tying the union to a model where the two relata constitute and “determine” one another, Fichte can think the union of the terms as antecedent to those terms themselves, and can posit a “striving” for unification between the two relata, a union that is motivated by “feeling” and sanctioned as a goal (aufgegeben, as Fichte puts it in the Wissenschaftslehre). Just as the I in the Wissenschaftslehre has the task to determine the Not-I, to render it identical to itself, so the sexes are to become one absolute union and transcend their very difference. Behind Fichte’s contortions vis-à-vis Kant’s much more straightforward account stands a shift in the kind of work marriage is supposed to do for philosophy and where in a philosophical system it is supposed to do it. The one-sidedness of Fichte’s worry over Würde results from the monism of the Wissenschaftslehre—rather than a categorical imperative,


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it is a first principle, and thus primarily Fichte’s theory of consciousness, that animates the picture of what is at stake in commercium sexuale. The two central motivations of Fichte’s marital metaphysics, the emphasis on unification on the one hand, and the anti-atomistic, communitarian impulse on the other, flow precisely from a theory of consciousness that distinguishes between two complementary but not equal relata, whereas any practical philosophy that would depend on the axiom that all human beings are alike in some fundamental respect would have to think of a relation as secondary to the individuals that constitute it. And the dyad I /Not-I was of course also autonomous while internally coherent. As we shall see, it was these factors that would make marriage so attractive a model for the early German Idealists and the Jena Romantics—a striving toward Vereinigung, a relation prior to the relata, the primacy of commu­ nity over the individual. At least in its Fichtean elaboration, however, those very factors also tended to commit the metaphysics of marriage to a model of essential sexual inequality. In chapters 4, 5, and 6 of this study, we will see how the Romantics, in particular the women among the Romantics, grappled with this problematic tendency. Looking ahead to the early Romantic philosophies of marriage, it is thus significant that sexual monism was liable to commit thinkers such as Novalis and Schlegel to a pronounced emphasis on sexual difference and in fact to sexual hierarchization. The “essential” difference between men and women was not reasserted in and through the “sentimentalization”52 of their relationship, as Susan Moller Okin has argued; rather, it seems that, at least in the case of Romanticism, the reverse was the case: an em­ phasis on love, on sentimental “feeling” that would restore a primordial unity of the sexes, led to the reintroduction of the old Aristotelian dis­ tinction between male form and female matter on which classical liberal theories (such as Hobbes’s) had stopped relying on altogether.

Marital and Family Law in Fichte In introducing his “Deduction of Marriage,” Fichte sets out his method for the entire section on “family law”: He wants to first “acquaint us with the nature of marriage,” so that we may then apply the concept of right to marriage “comprehensibly [mit Verstand].”53 Accordingly, in the first sec­ tion, Fichte “deduces” the “nature of marriage” as the only possible form of love, which in turn is required by the idiosyncrasies of human sexual­

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ity and the threat to (female) dignity entailed therein. In the second and third sections of the appendix on family law, Fichte puts this metaphysical configuration of the sexes to work by detailing what laws and rights may stem from the “nature” of marriage as established above. The sections on Eherecht are thus primarily concerned with what a state needs to do in light of the marital relation as deduced in the first section, and what it has no business interfering with—what falls into the purview of “right,” and what does not. It is in these sections that Fichte most clearly lays out the thoroughgoing autonomy of marriage from any outside determinants. Most centrally, these determinations flow from two central theorems Fichte arrived at in the first section. The first is that feminine dignity (un­ like male dignity) is always imperiled in the natural course of human sexu­ ality; to protect this female dignity in its citizens becomes “the absolute duty of the state.”54 The second claim is that marriage is a “moral” rather than “juridical” relation, which is tantamount to positing that love and marriage are essentially coterminous, something that is, as we have seen, characteristic of the Romantic and early Idealist metaphysics of mar­ riage. In fact, when Hegel in §164 of the Elements of the Philosophy of Right (Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts, 1817) upbraids “Friedrich Schlegel in Lucinde” and his “epigones” (Nachtreter) (he seems to mean Schleiermacher) for simply taking “love” and “marriage” to be the same thing, he might as well be addressing Fichte.55 It is from this claim that Fichte deduces the autonomy of marriage from state interference: since to be in love is already to be married, the state has no authority in denying marriage status to couples, prohibiting certain types of marriages, pro­ longing loveless marriages, investigating infractions of marital vows, or allowing parents to arrange marriages for their children. It is important for the architecture of Fichte’s argument that the first claim grounds the second one: female sexuality imperils a woman’s dignity (and by extension the man’s), unless it is lived within a love relationship. Marriage therefore, unless we want it to be an institution that can or may violate female dignity, must be essentially congruent with the love relation. The reason these two claims are separated here is that later thinkers, in particular the Romantics, extend the second claim without relying on the first to ground it. Rather, they refer this second claim to the absolute status of love. If we recall the sense in which the Idealists, Fichte included, used the word absolute, we can clearly see the differentia specifica that distin­ guishes Fichte’s metaphysics of marriage from those of Novalis, Schlegel, Hölderlin, and Hegel: he attempts to deduce love itself, to justify it and


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to explain its conditions, while those who follow him all introduce love as an unconditioned absolute. Even Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right, written more than twenty years after Fichte’s book, understands love as a “sense” (Empfindung) of totality, that is to say, of the uncon­ ditioned Absolute.56 Hegel thus agrees with Fichte that marriage is pri­ marily “moral” (as opposed to “juridical”), but this moralization stems from its being an intuition of totality rather than a necessary safeguard for woman’s dignity. By combining these two claims—that love alone can protect the dignity vitiated by sexual intercourse and that marriage is basically identical to love—Fichte arrives at the characteristic argument of the Romantic and early Idealist metaphysics of marriage, namely, that marriage has a struc­ ture that is entirely autonomous from the sphere of law, from a highly idio­ syncratic direction. While Novalis and Schlegel, for instance, will thematize the sexual in love in their respective theories, they do not provide a particu­ lar systematic home for sex. They use sexual “embrace” (Umarmung) and “marriage” (Ehe) almost interchangeably, and they never distinguish the two sequentially or causally. Fichte’s model is considerably closer to Kant in this regard, who sees marriage as arising causally out of the iniquities in­ flicted upon human dignity by the natural sexual drives. Fichte insists that marriage is autonomous from juridical considerations but (unlike Kant) also insists that love and sex are, or must be, essentially synonymous and that sexuality within a love relation already constitutes a marriage. In practice, this means that Fichte rolls back the role of the state much further than Kant, and further even than Wilhelm von Humboldt, who, in his unpublished 1792 draft On the Limits of State Action (Ideen zu einem Versuch die Gränzen der Wirksamkeit des Staates zu bestimmen), argued that the internal mechanics of a marital relation were sacrosanct and could never constitute a legitimate object for state action.57 Like Humboldt, Fichte asserts that “the state [has] no right to make any laws pertaining to the relation of the two marital partners.”58 In other words, because it is a moral rather than juridical relation, the relation itself is not subject to state interference. Anticipating the language Hegel would use more than twenty years later, Fichte insists that in combining their wills, the marital partners form “one individual” and are not any more capable of suing each other in court than a person could hit upon the idea to sue him- or herself. As in Hegel, this does not mean that people who are legally mar­ ried cannot go before the court separately; but if they do so, their marital status remains only a legal fiction, for their relation in itself has already been severed.

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This indicates where Fichte’s design radicalizes Humboldt’s notion of marital autonomy: Humboldt argued that the state has no right to inter­ fere with existing marriages; Fichte extends this claim to the coming-intoexistence of marriages. Not only does he deny the state any jurisdiction over the marital relation itself, he claims that neither church nor state have the power to consecrate marriages—this power inheres only in the partners themselves. All the state can do is to recognize a union that le­ gitimately preexists that recognition, rather than coming into being only in and through that recognition. In fact, the state has the duty to “recog­ nize and confirm”59 all marriages between its citizens. Similarly, at least in principle, a marital relation without love is impossible—thus, the juridical process called divorce simply recognizes the end of a union, but it does not itself end the union. But marriage is autonomous not only from church and state interference: since a marriage without love is impossible, the state is required to prevent any family or social interference that would create what is essentially a sham marriage (what Fichte terms Concubinat).60 By the same token, Fichte denies that the state has any right to prohibit marriages between close relatives. Since this kind of prohibition is pos­ sible only by reference to a supposed affront against divine law or the laws of nature, it is not within the purview of a law based entirely on reason as free activity. In other words, it is contrary to human rationality for a woman to submit to a man outside of marriage, and the state, insofar as it is among its duties to safeguard the dignity of all its citizens, has an interest in controlling, or at least minimizing, such practice; but when two relatives sleep together, the loss of dignity that results from the act has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that they are related. It is simply due to the fact that they are not married. The state, which has as its duty the protection of dignity, thus is in fact obligated to recognize this relation as a marriage; outlawing a particular sexual practice would do nothing to fur­ ther that end. Fichte impishly suggests that there is something illogical in calling these relations “unnatural.” If they were truly against natural and universal inclination, then they simply wouldn’t occur and the law would be redundant; and if they do occur, there is no supposed natural, universal, and self-evident inclination upon which to found the law. Similarly, Fichte dispatches the argument that incest violates a “higher,” a divine law by pointing out that, as he has tried to show in the Foundations of Natural Right so far, upholding and enforcing those laws is no business of any state authority. If God is indeed outraged by incest, he points out, then “leave it to the gods to punish such transgressions themselves.”61 The clergy has no more right to enforce a supposed divine law against incest; all they can


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do is point to the fact that such a law exists, to “merely explain the law” (blosse Gesetzeserklärer),62 so that those who choose to believe them can follow their command. This is generally the status Fichte assigns the church in his section on marriage law: the clergy never acts as lawgiver, but at most as an interpreter of the law, a reminder of the law’s moral as well as juridical character. For example, Fichte considers it “reasonable” that a betrothal be presided over by a clergyman, since the ceremony constitutes the legal recognition of an exclusively moral fact; but “insofar as the betrothal [Trauung] has juridical validity, the clergyman is simply a civil servant [Beamter].”63 The church has the right to interfere with the lives of its citizens in a legislative or punitive fashion only in and through the state; and since that state has no right to legislate morality or punish its violation, the church can serve only an educational function. At the very point that the church would unfold efficacy outside or beside the state, its role is instead restricted to moralistic storytelling. As for what Fichte would call the Bestimmung, the “determination” or the “purpose” of marriage, none of the institution’s structure and content can be supplied by ecclesiastical or theological au­ thority. The Foundations’ insistence on an emotional truth independent of religion or custom that precedes any attempt at linguistic codification by self-appointed Gesetzeserklärer would become a feature of the philoso­ phies of marriage among Fichte’s disciples as well. Of course, many of the provisions deduced by Fichte in the sections on marital law were nothing short of revolutionary in their own time—sev­ eral of them still remain so today. Nevertheless, the rank misogyny of the “Deduction” section rears its head in the later sections as well, and Fich­ te’s political theory of marriage has the strange distinction of managing to be revolutionary and retrograde at once. The same Fichte who denies that the state has any business interfering with sibling marriages categorically excludes women from the public sphere, is barely willing to allow them property rights within the family, and decries female intellectual activity, since a woman’s intellectual autonomy would “destroy the marriage.”64 We will not highlight those aspects of Fichte’s politics that seem outrageous to us today— others have catalogued them quite exhaustively.65 What con­ cerns us here is what made Fichte’s model interesting to the Romantics and the early Idealists, and that is not his misogyny but his emphasis on the “moral” status of love and the political import of the autonomy of eth­ ical (sittlich) structures. And the problems that Fichte’s theory of marriage highlights in the later models of Novalis, Schlegel, Hegel, and Schelling

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have nothing to do with a misogyny “imported” into the metaphysics from without, as it were, but stem rather from a number of internal contradic­ tions within his account. Most centrally, what undercuts Fichte’s exposition, and what may have prevented the Romantics from picking up on his theory of love more ex­ plicitly, is a fundamental confusion at the heart of his concept of love. If love and marriage are identical because only in marriage can female dig­ nity be safeguarded, then how exactly love can do this of course emerges as the essential question. For all the importance he assigns the concept, Fichte never manages to articulate just what kind of feeling love is, what, if anything, constitutes its “object,” and what kind of status it has for the subject that feels it. While the Romantics are thus more than ready to follow Fichte in insisting that marriage needs to be autonomous, and in modeling that autonomy on the autonomy of the subject, they have to describe, ground, and vindicate the concept of love differently.

Love and Dignity While subsequent theorists of marriage followed Fichte in emphasizing the primacy of the relationship over the related terms, Fichte is alone in assigning love an entirely different function depending on who (and that always means which sex) is feeling it. For woman, love is of the utmost im­ portance, the ineluctable precondition for feminine dignity; Fichte’s text never makes clear whether man needs to feel love at all or whether the “magnanimity” (Grossmuth) inspired by the woman’s submission is suf­ ficient. Since Fichte’s conception of love differs greatly from Romantic conceptions, which understand love as a self-evident “feeling” or “intel­ lectual intuition” of the totality of existence that can be felt by anyone, male or female, and since he instead has to make love multifaceted and context-sensitive, his text leaves open the question of what exactly is felt in and through love. This problem is unique to Fichte’s metaphysics of mar­ riage: Kant avoided it by keeping love out of the equation in his account of marriage; the Romantics will avoid it by turning love into the absolute ground of marriage. In keeping with the deductive method of the Foundations of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre, Fichte’s Foundations of Natural Right introduces love as a “mediation” that is interpolated between the natural drive and the de­ mands of reason: This mediating “step” (Stufe) is described as “the guise


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[Gestalt] in which the sexual drive appears to [woman], which appears to man in its true guise.”66 Love’s “mediation” becomes necessary owing to the natural “fact” that woman’s following her sex drive will entail a loss of autonomy and dignity, that she will inevitably become “the object of a force of the other” sex. On the other hand, we are confronted with the demand that “both [man and woman], as moral beings, are supposed to be equal.”67 The concept of love, which allows woman to conceive of her passivity as an activity, allows Fichte to reconcile these competing claims. In and through love woman’s drive to surrender receives “the charac­ ter of freedom and activity, which it has to have in order to meet the test of reason.”68 As we shall see, both the exact nature of this reversal and the epistemic status of love’s “character of freedom and activity” remain somewhat opaque: if woman’s passivity appears to her as activity when it occurs in the context of love, then what kind of appearance is this? This necessary illusion is not ideological but rather stands at the intersection of nature and reason: it is how the sex drive naturally manifests itself in the woman; it is a “natural drive” and “innate,” but this natural drive takes on an always already moral character. “In Woman, the sexual drive received a moral guise [Gestalt].”69 That “moral guise” is always under threat, how­ ever, in much the same way as human dignity (or the “right of humanity in one’s own person”) in Kant’s account: wanton coupling and libertinage somehow puncture the mental deflection love effects. Therefore, love works on the basis of complete and indissoluble surrender of one person to the other and is thus the basis for monogamy. Only an enduring and po­ tentially perpetual submission to one person can be reconceived as activity in love, not a one-night stand. This is not true for the husband: Neither love nor monogamy is neces­ sary to safeguard his dignity—his concern is for that of his mate. His love is secondary and necessary only to sustain her love investment in the re­ lationship, and it is necessarily monogamous only because hers is (Fichte terms this purely reactive love Grossmuth). If anything (and if only meta­ phorically), it is man’s (biological) virility rather than his dignity that is at stake: “To be strong against someone already subdued is the mark of impotence.”70 It is only once man feels Grossmuth that we have acceded to perfect equality within the “absolute union” of marriage: now “every party wants to surrender its personality, in order for that of the other party to rule alone.”71 The dialectic of love and “magnanimity” (Grossmuth) finally allows for the mutual and symmetrical submission to one another that Kant located in biological intercourse already. While in Kant the loss

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of the “right of humanity in one’s own person” that required the mari­ tal union was bilateral, Fichte conceives of it as unilateral; only once the natural relationship receives its “moral form [Gestalt],” or becomes a hy­ brid of natural and moral determinations, does the relationship between the partners regain symmetry (even though their respective stakes remain asymmetrical). Kant’s account of marriage outraged the Romantics because love seems to have no role to play in it at all, and because the unification effected in and through marriage remains more or less a juridical “contract.” At least in Fichte’s appendix, however, it is this new, “moral” level of partnership that precedes the juridical that establishes the equality Kant located in the natural world. At the same time, the appendix bases this new level of part­ nership on a natural relation that is explicitly unequal. This of course puts a severe burden on the concept of love itself, since it has to provide us with a road from the radical one-sidedness of sex to the symmetry ostensibly characteristic of love and marriage. The question is thus how love could usher woman from a position of submission to one of equality—and what exact status this equality has, whether it is real or imagined, felt only by her or universally acknowledged. As we shall see, Fichte offers a number of conflicting responses to these questions. Love allows women to “conceive” of their (actual) passivity in sex as a form of active surrender. But what exactly does this “conceiving” en­ tail? Is it psychological or does it instead represent a modification of con­ sciousness ( just as the Not-I appears distinct from ourselves even though it is actually posited by the I)? Of course we cannot strictly speak of an “epistemic” status of “love,” but the question remains: what does woman know? There are three possible answers to this question, and Fichte pro­ vides evidence for each of them. The first possible answer is that the same drive that the man has asserts itself differently in a woman—the woman’s love instinct is no more true or false than the sexual instinct felt by the man. Second, Fichte suggests that the drive that the man feels unadulter­ ated is subject to a necessary illusion when woman feels it—she is, and must be, mistaken about the nature of her drive. The third possibility is that the conversion of passivity into activity that occurs in love is somehow analogous to the process in the Wissenschaftslehre by which a quantum of the I’s absolute activity comes to appear to the empirical I as patience— love would thus be simply the form in which an absolute state of affairs presents itself to consciousness. In the course of his deduction, Fichte increasingly ties himself into


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knots trying to sort out what sort of feeling love is and how exactly it man­ ages to save woman’s dignity. His difficulties stem mostly from the fact that his theory blends remainders of eighteenth-century thought on love with nascent Romantic philosophemes. In certain respects, his text hews closely to the natural law tradition of thinking sexuality but awkwardly couples that tradition with an anti-individualist emphasis on gender dimorphism and the precedence of the relation over the relata. Fichte never settles the question whether love is a necessary illusion or simply the shape the sex drive takes in women. Are love and sex simply permutations of one another, and thus equally real? At times, Fichte seems to lean toward that answer: “To attempt to discern in the woman’s way of thinking a decep­ tion, and to say: so in the end it is the sex drive after all, which simply drives her covertly, would be dogmatic error.”72 At other points Fichte is equally insistent that the feeling of love is in fact an illusion, one that the man is able to see through. Woman must be deceived in order to “keep her innocence,”73 but the truth of the matter, which the man sees quite clearly, is actually quite different. “The position of the man is the following: he, who can admit to himself everything that exists in human beings [was im Menschen ist], and thus finds the entirety of humankind in himself, can see the entire relationship [Verhältniss] in a way that woman cannot.”74 Love is thus not the shape in which the sex drive must appear in women but rather the form in which their own sex drive must appear to women. Fichte’s epistemology that rejects Jacobi’s fideism commits him to expli­ cating what is known by whom in love—the absolute ground of love must be accessible to some kind of perception; it cannot be simply taken on faith. Here too Fichte’s text straddles two distinct modes of philosophizing about love. As Niklas Luhmann notes, the new model that attempted to establish a “solidarity” between love and marriage also undoes “the old distinction of honest and dishonest love,” replacing it with the new distinc­ tion “between conscious and unconscious inclinations, drives, and ends.”75 While it mostly rejects the “old distinction” between (honest) love and (dishonest) flirtation, when it comes to love’s metaphysical effects, Fichte’s text still finds itself halfway between the old and the new conceptions. It charts the transition from the dichotomy of true/false love to that of conscious/unconscious love, but it has to insist that the man can “admit to himself everything that exists in human beings,” that there is one group of human beings that can be conscious of the other’s unconscious. This epistemic instability of Fichte’s concept of “love” motivated the Ro­ mantics to rethink the concept along with the “absolute I,” when, influenced

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by Friedrich Niethammer and his circle, they began to turn away from Fich­ teanism. Their turn to an Absolute that is not subjectively constituted can explain both the striving for unification and the ultimate “object” of the feeling of love. Moreover, it solves the problem of unconsciousness: since no subject (male or female) can be said to “know” the Absolute, or have it as its object, love is always consciously about unification, but it thereby reenacts unconsciously the antecedent unity that underpins all reality to begin with. Love does not make possible a “complete unification,” as Fichte would have it; rather, they argue, love is possible only because such a unity already ex­ ists. Their reasoning ironically enough draws on Fichte: just as the absolute I can split into I and Not-I only because it is originally one, so marriage effects a “complete unification” only insofar as it restores an absolute unity that was sundered into the two marital partners in the first place. As we shall see in the following chapters, this move entails eschewing the crass gender dichotomy Fichte works with (or perhaps better, labors under); it does not, however, fully displace this dichotomy. In fact, much more of Fichte’s under­ lying assumptions seem to have crept into the Romantics’ view of sexual dif­ ference than their theoretical debt would make one suppose. Nevertheless, as we will see, the Romantic move away from Fichte opens new avenues of critique—the first of which we will examine in the penultimate section of this chapter.

Sophie Mereau and the Critique of Dignity Fichte’s Foundations of Natural Right had an immediate impact on the Ro­ mantics and Idealists when they set forth their own metaphysical theories of marriage. Schleiermacher had the book in his library when undertaking his own studies on the subject; from Frankfurt Hölderlin followed Fichte’s lectures on natural law closely, most likely through his friend Isaak von Sinclair.76 Not only do Friedrich and Dorothea Schlegel seem to have read the book early on, they were familiar with Fichte’s thought on gender, sex, and marriage from near-daily lunches they had with him (and Schlei­ ermacher) in 1799.77 Novalis was aware of the Foundations even before its printing and studied it several times; it is clear that Hegel had read the book by 1801. More generally, however, the majority of the authors discussed in this study were present for the first semesters of Fichte’s teaching activity at Jena, and almost all were aware first or second hand of the lectures that were simultaneously being published in pamphlet form


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as the Foundations of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre. Those lectures, the third part of which contained the principles for a practical philosophy to be derived from (or integrated into) the Wissenschaftslehre, made clear many of the presuppositions that we have found informing Fichte’s theory of marriage in the Foundations of Natural Right. Thus, even those among them unfamiliar with Fichte’s explicit thinking on the subject of love and marriage would have probably been aware of vague outlines of that thinking. More important, however, they would have also been familiar with the wider political significance of the central concept of Fichte’s “Deduction of Marriage,” namely, dignity. For Fichte concluded his Zurich course of lectures of 1794 with a coda entitled “Concerning Human Dignity”78 (“Ueber die Würde des Menschen”),79 which sets out precisely the link between activity, rationality, and dignity that Fichte’s later considerations of sexual difference would come to rely on. Fichte gave this lecture on April 24 or 25, right before departing for Jena, and its text was printed and disseminated almost immediately.80 In his text, Fichte offers a down­ right rhapsodic encapsulation of the practical consequences of his Wissenschaftslehre, at this point still in statu nascendi. “Philosophy bids us find everything in the I. Only through the I do order and harmony come into dead, formless matter.”81 But not only does the I “form” the Not-I through the application of categories (theoretical use of reason), the I also “determines” it through practical activity: “That is man when we think him as only an observing intelligence; what will he be when we think him as a practical, active power!”82 This, then, is at the source of human “dignity”: man’s categorical ap­ paratus brings order into the world in and through “experience,” and man is also called upon to impose his own designs on nature. He determines the given in and through the understanding and freely imposes upon the material world his own autonomously given laws: “Not only does he imbue things with their necessary order; he also gives them [the order] that he freely chose.”83 Man’s eponymous dignity thus stems directly from his activ­ ity, which Fichte understands both practically and in the sense of Kantian spontaneity—Fichte thus anticipates the terms of Kant’s “Apologia for the Senses” but deploys in all seriousness the valuations that Kant would use only in jest. Only in and through activity is man truly autonomous, and only from this autonomy flows his inalienable dignity. “In his existence, he is absolutely independent of everything that is outside of him; he is en­ tirely through himself.”84 That which is “outside him” thus constitutes the

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arena in which human self-determination must assert itself. Not surpris­ ingly, Fichte reverts to downright Baconian language, once again articulat­ ing the I’s activity toward the outside world as a determination of matter by form: “Man commands the raw matter to organize itself according to his ideal and to provide him with the stuff he requires.”85 While the Foundations of Natural Right of course still lay three years in the future at the time Fichte gave this lecture, the text nevertheless operates with a concept of dignity largely analogous to that of the Wissenschaftslehre and the Foundations of Natural Right. And the text also anticipates the central particularity of Fichte’s account of Würde in the “Deduction of Marriage”: that dignity is not absolute but that it is some­ how quantifiable— one can have more or less of it. For the Fichte of the Foundations of Natural Right, it is of course woman, forced to submit to the outside determination of men, who loses “her dignity” (Fichte never makes clear whether this loss is partial or total); in “Concerning Human Dignity,” this “quantum” of dignity is directly proportional to the amount of control exerted over the Not-I. Those who are slaves either to the forces of nature or to their fellow human beings have less dignity than Fichte himself, although they can gradually increase their measure of dignity. Their potential dignity is as great as his, and it is for this reason that they are capable of “society” and “brotherhood” with him: “For I certainly was once at the stage of humanity at which you find yourself now.”86 Ultimately every human being has dignity insofar as it is a creature of reason, in that it can actively determine the Not-I. To autonomously posit the self and impose regularity and bring to heel that which is outside it seduces Fichte into his rapturous celebration of human spontaneity, an apotheosis so hy­ perbolic as to quite consciously border on the religious: “That is man; that is everyone who can say to himself: I am Man. Should he not feel a holy awe before himself and shudder, quiver before his own majesty!— That is everyone who can say to me: I am.”87 Dignity, then, appears to result somehow from the differential between outside determination and determination of the outside. And while Fich­ te’s latent racism in “Concerning Human Dignity” is relative (slaves and Native Americans simply cannot measure up to Fichte in dignity at this point in history), it is interesting that he never thematizes the condition of womankind in the lecture. In fact, his litany of “er . . . er . . . er,” although of course a grammatical necessity in German, is itself rather telling, for feminine lack of dignity in sex (prior to or outside of marriage) is not quantitative but rather qualitative, not a matter of historical relativity but


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rather absolute and necessary. Fichte insists that there is a time imaginable at which the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego will not be huddling around their campfires and at which the slaves of the Caribbean will no longer toil in shackles, for these submissions are social; but even at that time, Fichte thinks, women will lose their dignity whenever they submit to a man sexu­ ally outside of a marital/love relationship, as their loss of dignity is, as Fichte’s “Deduction” construes it, a natural moral fact. The triumphal march of human activity in the world has as its obverse a naturally man­ dated lack of dignity that consigns half of humanity to an eternally subal­ tern position—and it not surprising that this immobile part of humanity would not feature in the dizzy raptures of Fichte’s concluding lecture. One of Fichte’s most ardent admirers in Jena, and one of his most de­ voted students, thematized precisely this subaltern half and, in the pro­ cess, managed to provide an entirely different account of what the concept of love entails. In 1801, Sophie Mereau, the Grazie von Jena, published a fragment entitled “Youth and Love” (Jugend und Liebe) in the journal Kalathiskos, which she herself edited.88 In this fragment, Mereau tells the story, familiar since Rousseau, of mankind’s ejection (or egress, as the case may be) from the state of immediacy (what Schiller called “naïve”) into a state of self-knowledge and simultaneous self-alienation, animated by a constant yearning (Schiller’s “sentimental”) for the lost state of innocence. What sets Mereau’s story apart from the triadic accounts of Rousseau is that she distinguishes between the respective paths of the two sexes from the immediacy of nature into culture.89 Schiller’s “On Naive and Senti­ mental Poetry” (“Über naïve und sentimentalische Dichtung” 1795) gen­ dered the transition from an original immediacy to modern mediation, but Mereau reverses Schiller’s story, in a way reminiscent of the just-so story Fichte tells in “Concerning Human Dignity”: When human beings emerged from their blissful simplicity and, tortured by a thirst for knowledge, looked about only with the eyes of the understanding, and the beautiful truth that we now call madness had disappeared for them, the man found many things to keep his mind off [his loss]; he ascertained the relationships among the things, he betrayed his half-brother, the animal, went up one single step on the immense ladder of nature, and soon called himself great, powerful, and wise.90

Unlike Schiller, Mereau does not see woman at a narrower remove from the state of nature, nor is the alienated subjectivity that desires the lost

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immediacy gendered male. As a matter of fact, the male is perfectly con­ tent dominating his extraparadisiacal enclosure, thanks to his activity: A true Kantian, he establishes “the relationships among the things”; a true Baconian, he transmutes the raw matter of nature into the stuff of his purposes. It is man (in the specific sense) who may call himself “great, powerful, and wise,” which, given the evidence Mereau provides, means exactly what Fichte means by “dignified.” Here, then, we are concerned with “die Würde” not “des Menschen” but rather “des Mannes.” Woman meanwhile is faced with the same problem as man (the loss of original, “naïve” innocence) but is afforded none of the distractions he derives from his extracurricular domination activities: “But woman found nothing that could quell the infinite longing for the lost unity.”91 In her desperation, woman turns to prayer: “Give me, she asked the infinite, give me, who am wounded by the cold light of the understanding, just a little something for my infinite longing.”92 And indeed, as a remedy she is granted “youth and love, which return to humanity the lost truth in a blessed dream.”93 Mereau’s fragment thus tells in many ways the same story as Fichte’s “Deduction of Marriage”: dignity is a male thing, and only love can restore that dignity to woman. But she uses that fact (whether she regards its sources as biological or social is not clear in the context of the fragment) to question the triumphalist account of Fichte’s “Concerning Human Dignity.” She points to the blind spot in his revolutionary, almost messianic rhetoric: What about those people whose lack of dignity is not a contingent historical fact but rather a matter of biological or metaphysical necessity? Or, conversely, is woman’s lack of dignity not owed to biology or metaphysics at all, but rather a status as much capable of changing as that of the slave or the native? In chapter 6, we will see just how Mereau submits Fichte’s (as well as Humboldt’s) thought on gender to scrutiny.

From the Wissenschaftslehre to the Romantic Metaphysics of Marriage While few other Romantic or Idealist theories of marriage would match Fichte’s “Deduction of Marriage” in either detail or depth, they radically expanded its scope. Schlegel, Schleiermacher, Mereau, Hegel, Novalis— none of these thinkers spent as much time thinking through the mechan­ ics and legalities of divorce, adultery, and inheritance; but they pushed Fichte’s theory of marriage much further than Fichte himself had. They


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elaborated on the concept of love, which Fichte’s theory had left fatally unclear, and in so doing they reconfigured the thrust of his metaphysics of marriage. He had anchored the specificity of the marital union in the qualitas occulta of love; they conceptualized a love that far exceeded the bounds of marriage and could extend to friends, congregations, country­ men. He set out to protect marriage from outside influence; they sought to have marriage influence the outside. Nevertheless, Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre and his theory of marriage provided the parameters for the Ro­ mantics who would at first be inspired by him and later slowly move away from him. For one thing, Fichte’s theory of marriage made clear that the overarching structure, the totality of the united marital unit, had prior­ ity over the particulars related in it. Fichte insisted that men and women be referred to one another in their metaphysical constitution, that they were destined to be unified and were woefully incomplete when they lived outside of loving couples. This emphasis on communal structures, promul­ gated in clear opposition to the seeming atomism of the “machine men” of the Enlightenment, proved to be of enormous and enduring appeal for the Romantic generation. Second, Fichte insisted that marriage had to be autonomous, i.e., self-sufficient and independent of external sources for its legitimacy and structure. In order to ground his theory of marriage fully on the precepts established in the Wissenschaftslehre, Fichte divorced marriage decisively from any kind of outside structure that would have linked its legitimacy to tradition, superstition, or sheer force of habit. He singled out three potential such usurpers who might seek to unduly dominate the autonomy of marital unions: familial interference (where parents may force dynastic marriages or marriages of convenience), “positive” law (which may pro­ hibit remarriages, for instance), and religious prescription. What Fichte’s autonomy formula seeks to indicate is not just that marriage is to be kept free from such interference. Instead he seeks to make a point that some of the Romantics inspired by his philosophy (above all Schlegel) to some extent neglected—marriage could be free of the interference of family, state, and church and yet have normative structure, still be binding, and still possess dignity. Just because it was free of interference did not make it free love—its very autonomy committed it to certain structures and be­ haviors. The way in which Fichte characterized this marital autonomy par­ alleled his description of the structure of the subject’s autonomy. The way two partners enter into a “complete unification” in marriage transferred their individual autonomy onto the newly constituted marital monad.

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Most important, however, it was the way in which Fichte deduced mar­ riage that seems to have influenced the Romantics and Idealists. Rather than tethering his theory of marriage to practical philosophy, Fichte de­ duced marriage by way of a monistic elaboration of the structure of selfconsciousness itself. It was the I and the object it posited for itself that furnished the ultimate reference point for his theory of marriage. As the following chapter will show, the suggestion that the way consciousness confronts an object provided clues to the structure and constitution of an erotic relationship or marriage was one that the Romantics and early Idealists would frequently take up, while others would just as strenuously lampoon it. At stake in this marital monism was primarily the status of traditional, religious, or ethical “positive” or outside determinants of mar­ riage. Did they represent warranted and even necessary intervention into what was otherwise just untrammeled eroticism, or did they subvert and even pervert a union that, owing to its metaphysical foundations, actually already transcended mere Venus vaga? In this context, Fichte bequeathed to his younger contemporaries a problem, namely, the status of the marital unit itself. Once it was estab­ lished and once both partners had consented to it, was it not “positive” in much the same way that social or ecclesiastical prohibitions and injunc­ tions were? The autonomy of the subject, in other words, persisted as long as the subject did; but what about the autonomy, spontaneity, and dignity of a union that might well outstay the feelings that sustained it? Fichte’s answer, as we saw, was that it could not outstay them: the moment the love that subtended the marriage was gone, the marriage became a sham. How to celebrate this autonomous, spontaneous union without reifying it into a thing just as oppressive, permanent, and arbitrary as the fixtures of tradition that they had just banished from the erotic sphere became an overriding concern for the Romantics and Idealists. It led them first to a number of theoretical gambits, but ultimately it led them to abandon the metaphysics of marriage entirely. In the following chapter we will see how the young Idealists and Roman­ tics who drew critically on Fichte’s philosophy fused his thought with that of several other thinkers to arrive at their own metaphysics of marriage. Even so, they maintained the most striking feature of Fichte’s theory of marriage: they relied on an analogy between the structure of consciousness and the erotic relation (which, unlike Fichte, they at times called “marriage” and “love” at others), and worked out the nature and ground of this analogy in much more detail than Fichte had. In so doing, they were able to make


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marriage stand in for a wider range of relationships, personal and political. In the Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant had argued that the struc­ ture of our consciousness of objects takes the shape of judgments. The Ro­ mantics and Idealists saw a number of “erotic” relationships in the widest sense—love, friendship, patriotism—as directly in dialogue with the struc­ ture of the subject-object relationship in the judgment (Urteil). How they grounded this parallelism and how they added a more straightforwardly political dimension to marriage through it will be the question in the next chapter.

chapter two

The Politics of the Copula: Love, Marriage, and the Question of Judgment


ichte’s influence on the first generation of German Romantics and Idealists was considerable, although in the field of marriage (and social philosophy more generally) they were faster to liberate themselves from his influence than in other arenas. In fact, in a testament to the considerable speed with which the German Idealist conversation developed in the 1790s, most of Fichte’s admirers had moved beyond the social and erotic philosophy adumbrated in the initial iterations of the Wissenschaftslehre well before the time Fichte actually got to set down this philosophy in writing in the Foundations of Natural Right (1797). Nevertheless, a number of features that decisively distinguished Fichte’s theory of marriage from earlier ones would come to furnish the central precepts of the Romantic and Idealist zeitgeist. While Fichte’s individual theses and arguments about marriage themselves were only relatively infrequently remarked upon among the German Romantics and Idealists (though they would have been known to almost all of them), these precepts came to trace the outlines of the metaphysics of marriage around the turn of the nineteenth century. First, the metaphysicians of marriage agreed with Fichte’s insistence on the precedence of the whole over the particulars and his dislike for atomistic models of social organization. Second, they drew on Fichte’s monistic analogization of the erotic with the subject-object relationship, that is, the suggestion that cognition and eros were of a parallel structure. And third, they all agreed with Fichte’s distrust of those features of social organization owed simply to unreflected convention, social dictate, and


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religious commandment. “The given” had to be worked away by the labor of reflection in order for the human being to retain, or rather regain, its dignity. To say that these Fichtean claims reverberated in the nascent Romantic and Idealist circles in Jena, Frankfurt, and Berlin is not to say that they were all explicitly, or even consciously, drawn from Fichte’s philosophy. Given the particular moment in the history of German philosophy at which the three axioms listed above emerged and were elaborated, it could hardly have been otherwise. It was a heady moment, delirious in its syncretism, dazzling in its range of references, and animated by a righteous fusion of philosophical critique and political activism. From the Platonic dialogues, which Schelling, Hegel, and Hölderlin had pored over together at school in the Tübingen Stift, and the Kant texts passed around in defiance of their clerical teachers, to the Neoplatonic philosophies of Shaftesbury and François Hemsterhuis, the best-selling and omnipresent works of Rousseau, the scandalous Spinoza of whose philosophy they learnt from a book intended to disprove it, and finally the author of that book, the antisystematic, anti-Kantian, antiEnlightenment controversialist Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, the Romantics and Idealists read and brought together much of the philosophical thought of their age, fusing its elements in ways often unintended by their sources themselves. When the German Idealists and Romantics put Fichte’s concept of love on a more solid metaphysical footing, they also added to Fichte’s theory of marriage a dimension that connected the marital union to more wideranging forms of political organization. For Fichte, marriage had little in common with wider forms of human community; in fact it had to be emancipated from them. Not that Fichte’s theory had given marriage no wider social significance—he had minimized the role of church and state, had insisted on the individual’s self-determination, and had limited the institutional character of the marital union. However, the very duality of I and Not-I on which Fichte relied tended to keep his marital partners insular and made their bond hard to replicate in wider social structures. Fichte and Humboldt sought to safeguard a sphere of intimacy against the power of the state; the Romantics deployed this sphere of intimacy as a battering ram with which to break down the calcified structures of the state. Fichte’s marital theory drew important negative conclusions from the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. In the wake of an unprecedented collapse of traditional authority, he sought to outline where the legitimacy of marriage cannot come from, who cannot control marriage. The

the politics of the copula


German Idealists by contrast drew positive conclusions from the French Revolution. For them, marriage could be organized and legitimated autonomously, and in turn the autonomous organization and structure of a marriage could provide a guide for how the state as a whole ought to be organized. The very autonomy of marriage on which Fichte had insisted made marriage a perfect model for a new polity organized without reference to the transcendent power of God, the king, or tradition. This chapter traces how the German Idealists went about positing an analogy between three seemingly distinct spheres of philosophical inquiry, and how they thought that the structure of one gave clues to how to reorganize the others: the subject-object relationship, the marital or erotic relationship, and the social arrangement of a polis. The source of this triple analogy lay in the monistic metaphysical approach taken by the German Idealists and Romantics. For a German philosopher writing in the wake of Kant, a metaphysics of marriage had to provide a justification for the institution of marriage from the resources furnished by reason alone. And for those followers of Kant who criticized a number of “dualisms” within the critical philosophy, and who subsequently began experimenting with monistic reinterpretations of Kant’s project, this “reason” could not be either theoretical or practical but had to be rather one single principle. These thinkers had to justify matters of both theoretical and practical philosophy from a single monolithic principle derived primarily from their respective theories of self-consciousness. There were several such “imports” from the theory of consciousness: the relationship between constituens and constitutum, the relationship between mutually determining particulars, and the analogy between sexual difference and the logical form of judgment. It was this third “import,” the analogy between sexual difference and the form of judgment, that was arguably the most central to their project. In their understanding, judgment was concerned not with relating two particulars, but rather with relating two particulars to an overarching whole, a relation that was possible only because the whole actually preceded the related terms. As such, the logical structure of the judgment could furnish a model for social structures that bound two individuals into a union that metaphysically preceded them. At its most general, the theories considered in what follows construe human particularity in civil society as analogous to the reified particulars that are the judgment’s subject and predicate—and they propose an analogy between the faculty that can overcome this reification in cognition (dubbed “intellectual intuition”)


chapter two

and love and/or marriage. The relation of concepts in a judgment through “copulation” thus became a model of sexual difference and physical copulation. “Intellectual intuition” and that which it intuits (variously called Seyn, das Absolute, das Leben) ground the particulars and enable their relation in and through the judgment. This chapter spells out how love and marriage functioned like “intellectual intuition” for the early Idealists, but also establishes why this link should have seemed significant to them. In a first step (1) I will outline the early Idealist theory of the judgment as developed in response to Kant and Jacobi. The second step (2) will sketch the political valence of the critique of judgment, in particular its Platonic dimensions. My concluding step (3) will show how marriage could be seen as a supersession of the form of judgment, and thus a panacea for the divisions characteristic of civil society and/or modernity. In particular, the example of Friedrich Schlegel’s account of marriage as a restoration of original androgyny will provide a window into what in sexuality the early Romantics and Idealists regarded as corresponding to the figure of judgment. The thinkers discussed here agreed on many of the implications of what I will call the “politics of the copula,” and they remained in agreement on many of its core notions for well over a decade. The particular trajectory of the chapter does not describe the philosophical equivalent of a relay race, such that Hegel eroticized a theory of consciousness formulated by Hölderlin, which Schlegel subsequently turned into a history of the sexes; instead, leaps from thinker to thinker are owed to the often fragmentary nature of the writings that have come to light from this period. Many of the texts discussed here were not published when they were written, some even decades or centuries after the writer’s death; yet others were explicitly conceived as fragments or represent simple aide-mémoires from an ongoing conversation largely lost to history. This chapter proceeds from the hypothesis that the constant exchange of ideas among these thinkers led to an awareness of philosophical moves and their implications beyond what was available in print or even in letters. When we move from Fichte’s philosophy to Hölderlin’s theory of love, then to Hegel’s thought on love and friendship, and finally to Friedrich Schlegel’s speculations about marriage as the canceling out of the sexes, this succession should be understood as a primarily maieutic device. For instance, even though it was Hegel who first associated the mystical faculty of intellectual intuition with love in writing, it is impossible that Hölderlin was unaware of at least the availability of this association. Rather than outline the precise developments of the

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heady early years of post-Kantian philosophy, we will focus on those parameters which the post-Kantians could agree on and which would come to frame their theories of marriage: an emphasis on totality, an insistence on love as a form of holistic cognition, and a critique of the reification and atomization characteristic of bourgeois modernity.

Post-Kantian Philosophy and the Question of Judgment At first glance, it may seem puzzling to suggest that there is an analogy between copulation in judgment and physical copulation. Nevertheless, virtually all the theories we will explore in the remainder of this study rely on precisely that kind of analogy. While few of them made the analogy between the two kinds of copulation explicit, enough of them did so to suggest that awareness of the availability of this analogy was fairly widespread. The medieval notion that it was the copula carnalis that fully realized the union implicit in the marriage ceremony1 survived well into this period, and Kant refers to the concept by that name in the Metaphysics of Morals.2 Not only were the words copula, copulation, and the verb copuliren far more frequent in the vocabulary of late eighteenth-century Germany than in modern German, but they could also refer to all kinds of bringing together: in 1800, Schiller writes to Goethe that Jean Paul left Jena alongside Herder because the former wanted to “have himself copulated” by Herder.3 Herder meanwhile writes in letters to his friends of “our copulation,” by which he means simply friendship, though in letters to his wife, copuliren seems to refer to the old copula carnalis.4 Around the same time, Jean Paul compares his task as poet to that of “the disguised priest who copulates every couple.”5 As Jean Paul’s joke indicates, this playful confusion of terms was not limited to everyday exchanges but crept into philosophical and literary texts: Novalis, in a note from his Allgemeines Brouillon, opposes the “mere copulas” of abstract concepts to human beings “destined . . . to be infinitely united” in love or religion.6 Franz von Baader speaks of the “sexual copula” (Geschlechts-Copula)7 and in a 1839 text likens “the true connection or copula” of concepts to “the betrothal [Vermählung] of sexual potencies,” that is to say, man and woman.8 The German Romantics and Idealists thus regarded the fact that the bringing-together of people in love and marriage and the bringingtogether of concepts in judgments were both called “copulation” as more than an accident of language—it was expressive of an intrinsic analogy


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between the two. In order to see how exactly one might equate love/marriage on the one hand and the proposition “A is b” on the other, it is first necessary to show exactly what the German Idealists thought went on in judgment. This was not something the German Idealists considered a minor problem, as we will see—rather, their critique of what they termed “reflection” (proceeding by means of propositional judgments) is at the very heart of their philosophy. Kant had laid the groundwork for the topic’s centrality when in his Critique of Pure Reason of 1781, he argued that all human “experience” (Erfahrung) is constituted in and through judgments. The critique of the form of judgment thus became a central means for the young post-Kantians to articulate a position vis-à-vis Kant’s critical philosophy. A second perplexity arises when one considers the defining characterization of the judgment proffered by these thinkers: rather than thinking of copulation in judgment as a linking of two terms, they instead conceived of copulation as a division. For the German Idealists and Romantics, from Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre to Hegel’s Science of Logic, copulation divided rather than united what they termed “the Absolute.” They also thought of sex, which one may similarly be predisposed to think of as a bringing together, as proceeding on the basis of the division of a preexisting unity. In judging, a preexisting hen kai pan (we will encounter it as Seyn) was divided through the logical “connecting word” of the copula. Self and other as well as symbolic logic co-originate in this first division: the self and the other, because it is the positing of an I that first subdivides Seyn into the I and the Not-I; symbolic logic, because predication in the shape of a judgment (of the type “A is b”) presupposes the synthetic unity that it nonetheless necessarily severs (into A and b, in this case). Any synthetic work the judgment is able to perform (“synthetic” in the simple sense of bringing together, rather than the Kantian sense, since analytic judgments are capable of this as well) thus both feeds on an antecedent unity and obscures that unity. As Manfred Frank has shown, the Idealists and Romantics started from the observation that truth in the shape of statements (what the thinkers of the late eighteenth century called “judgments,” Urt[h]eile) that can be said to be either “true” (in the sense of “being the case”) or “false” is predicated on truth in the sense of disclosedness, of a frame of the possibility of reference.9 The copula is characteristic of truths in the former sense. Aristotle in De interpretatione regards the copula as a very particular mode of being, and it is the departure point for the discussion of the copula since Aristotle that this “is” must stand in some sort of relation to the larger

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frame of disclosure. How does this frame connect with the being-true-orfalse of the judgment? From Aristotle to Kant and onward, the meaning of the copula (as its name indicates) has been to connect—Kant called it the “connecting-word” (Verbindungswörtchen).10 Aristotle understood it as synthesis noematon,11 the connection of things present-in-mind, yet he also describes its intervention as a taking-apart (diairesis). When this Aristotelian understanding of the copula, with its duality of bringing together on the one hand and of taking apart on the other, resurfaced in the wake of Kant, it did so in a highly peculiar guise: the copula and its origins had become the lynchpin of a monistic metaphysics, and it no longer was just a problem of logic but rather impinged on social and political philosophy, the philosophy of history, and not least of all on desire and marriage. The problem of how exactly the copula was grounded was first raised in an appendix of the second edition of Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi’s Über die Lehre des Spinoza, published in 1789. There, Jacobi sought to show that “everything that lies outside of the context of the conditioned, of the naturally mediated, [lies] also outside the sphere of our clear cognition [Erkenntniß], and cannot be understood through concepts.”12 The ground of conceptual knowledge is not itself available to such knowledge and “can be received by us only in the manner in which it is given, as a fact”—through a feeling of faith rather than conceptual judgment. In the context of the Spinoza book, this argument was intended to show that one could not reach the ultimate ground of all reality, as Spinoza had claimed to have done, more geometrico. But as certain among Kant’s followers, such as Fichte and Reinhold, began suggesting that the “dualisms” that supposedly wracked Kant’s system could be fixed only by recourse to a unified and “immediately” established principle (for Reinhold this was something akin to the Cartesian cogito, for Fichte the Tathandlung of the self-positing absolute I), Jacobi’s warning that “we can neither represent nor experience an effective and real beginning,” that is to say, that the human subject cannot in any way become aware of the unconditioned or Absolute, became a problem for them as well.13 Jacobi’s argument insisted that the kinds of truth philosophy could lay claim to by way of copulation relied on a more general frame of givenness, which had to remain inaccessible to philosophy. The young German Idealists generally accepted Jacobi’s criticism but thought it their task to immunize Kant’s critical oeuvre from such objections. As a result, the Aristotelian problem of the copula, introduced in an offhand manner in an early text of Kant’s, became central for those thinkers who sought to


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fix critical philosophy and inoculate it against Jacobi’s fideism. Beginning with Schelling these thinkers no longer speak of “feeling” or “faith,” as Jacobi did, but their insistence on grasping some sort of “unconditioned” prior to predication constitutes an inheritance from Jacobi. Fichte’s system, first introduced in 1794, proposed an “absolute I” as such an unconditioned. Schelling’s Of the I as the Principle of Philosophy (Vom Ich als Prinzip der Philosophie) takes up the notion of the task of philosophy as the search for an “unconditioned” in early 1795;14 Hölderlin’s fragment Urtheil Möglichkeit Seyn (more commonly called Urtheil und Seyn) was written, as Frank establishes, in response to Schelling sometime in the second half of 1795.15 Isaak von Sinclair’s Philosophische Raisonnements were written in reaction to the ideas contained in Urtheil und Seyn in the summer and fall of 1795. While the latter two texts were not published in their authors’ lifetimes, both Dieter Henrich and Frank show convincingly that their ideas must have been in wide, if unofficial, circulation among their colleagues.16 “Faith” is replaced in their terminology with a new, seemingly paradoxical faculty of knowledge—“intellectual intuition” (intelectuale Anschauung), a kind of cognition Kant declared impossible.17 This intuition alone could apprehend the unconditioned Absolute and was as such opposed to predicative judgment. It is here that the Fichtean understanding of the word judgment (Urtheil) becomes important, for whereas “intellectual intuition” intuits the absolute whole, it is in the nature of the judgment that it partitions (theilen) the original whole (hence Ur-theilung). The etymology is false, but this understanding of what a judgment does is common to all German Idealists.18 For them the “connecting word” assumes a double quality. The early post-Kantian monists understood the Absolute (another word for the “unconditioned”) in two ways. On the one hand, it was that which could not be shown to be causally or otherwise conceptually determined. Concepts (and in particular Kant’s concepts of the pure understanding) simply could not be applied to the Absolute. Second, this Absolute was to underpin all philosophy (“Philosophy has to start with the unconditioned,”19 as Schelling writes), including conceptual logic. The “connecting word” thus became that which made conceptual synthesis possible at all: “A is x” simply cannot be thought without it. At the same time, however, the “connecting word” is the symptom of a division: a proposition of the structure “A is x” always and necessarily misses the Absolute that makes it possible. As Kantians (after a fashion), the German Idealists were interested in what allows for certain synthetic operations performed in conceptual

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judgment– Kant’s famous “conditions of the possibility of experience,”20 that is to say, those conditions under which a judgment can possibly mean something in our world. Schelling for example asks: How can we say that A “is” B? And he answers that this is impossible unless we assume that the first step in judging is juxtaposing the two terms A and B in consciousness. The action of this juxtaposition is precisely the “Ur-theilung,” the original division, a topos Fichte introduced in his lectures as early as 1794.21 There, Fichte argued that all judging (urtheilen) was founded on “an original partition” (ein ursprüngliches Theilen): in order that “A is b,” a third term, “chosen in advance to be equal to both, [must] be connected to both of them.”22 This “third term” (Schelling calls it X)23 is the Absolute. Without that X, the equation of two terms would be impossible. The kind of truth furnished in conceptual judgments cannot exist without this wider truth of disclosure. But both Schelling and Hölderlin (following Jacobi) insist that that X cannot itself be made visible in predicative judgments. The moment we make use of the copula, we are in some sense building on the X that allows the subject and the predicate to be coupled at all and mean something; however, the very fact that we have used the copula means that we cannot speak the X anymore. The copula is thus the index of a vanished absolute connection, which the very existence of the two terms (which in turn only the copula makes possible) denies. “A is b” constitutively represses X. Hölderlin’s Urtheil und Seyn, a fragment of a mere two pages, written in 1795 and rediscovered only in the twentieth century, calls the Absolute Seyn, the substantivized infinitive “to be.” The very structure of the judgment “A is b” thus in some sense conjugates the infinitive Absolute—it splits it while intending the two fragments for each other. Only conjugation allows for a use in judgments, but this conjugation makes finite, restricts Seyn in “determining” (bestimmen)24 it. The copula “is” is thus a decomposition of the antecedent being and the necessary shape being has to take in order for a judgment to say anything about the world. Hölderlin’s Seyn is an original unity as opposed to a synthetic identity. An identity (for example of subject and object) is the bringing together of two antecedently separate entities, paradigmatically expressed in a judgment of identity (“A is b”). An original unity on the other hand precedes any subdivisions within its field, even if those subdivisions are made via an identification (in, say, the aforementioned judgment “A is b”).25 Hölderlin distinguishes between a subject and an object that are “only partially unified” (zum Theil vereiniget), and a subject and an object that are “completely” (schlechthin)


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unified. The former describes a judgment of identity, which speaks of two things to be brought together, while the latter describes a unity such that “no partition can be made, without hurting the essence of that which is to be divided.”26 It is this opposition between “mere” identity and the prereflectively given Seyn that animates the erotics of a good number of the early German Idealists and Romantics: conjugation in love and marriage does not simply bring together two antecedent entities and turn them into one identity; much rather it reunites what cannot properly be sundered at all “without hurting the essence of that which is to be divided.” Urtheil und Seyn was written as a response to Fichte’s epistemology, and its treatment of the copula differed from Fichte’s in one significant respect: Hölderlin’s epistemology privileges unity far more than Fichte does, a privilege that has important ramifications for the erotics each thinker derives from his epistemology. In his “Concerning the Concept of the Wissenschaftslehre,” Fichte captured the same ambivalence in the meaning of “is” as his Jena critics: “Nothing is opposed that is not also equal in a third [term], and nothing is equal that is not opposed in a third [term], which founds all synthesis.”27 The second part of Fichte’s claim is one that Hölderlin did not venture: the “activity” (Tathandlung) of the judgment A = A establishes an identity of A with A. The “third term” that opposes itself to these two equals yet nonetheless “founds all synthesis” is simply the copula “=”: without opposing itself to both subject-A and predicate-A, the copula cannot establish the identity of two terms at all. There is no need to identify two things unless there is at least a possibility of difference. The following section draws on a crucial fact: that Hölderlin’s Urtheil und Seyn doesn’t appear to advance the second claim. In two formulas suggested by Christoph Jamme, we could say that Hölderlin’s philosophy of the copula stems from the insight that all division (in the Urtheil) presupposes an antecedent unity. It represses the fact that, as Fichte makes clear in this passage, all unity presupposes division.28 This lacuna allowed the young Idealists to fuse straightforwardly the epistemological critique of the reflecting judgment with two other traditions that on first glance it has little to do with. The first of these is Platonism, in particular as filtered through eighteenth-century Neoplatonism, which expanded the account of erotic unification offered by Plato’s Symposium into a critique of social alienation tout court; the second is the philosophy of Rousseau, whose “Profession of Faith of a Savoyard Vicar” (“Profession de foi du Vicaire Savoyard,” in the fourth book of Émile, or On Education, 1762) in fact re-

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hearsed an argument similar to that of Urtheil und Seyn, and who offered furthermore a way of narrativizing Seyn and Urtheil as the primordial state of nature and the anomic world of bourgeois modernity, respectively.

Platonizing the Urtheil At the turn of the year 1796/97, Hegel relocated from Bern, where he had worked as a tutor for the children of the wealthy captain Karl Friedrich von Steiger since 1793,29 to Frankfurt, where his friend and former roommate Hölderlin had secured him another teaching position.30 Hölderlin had attended the Tübingen Stift along with Hegel and Schelling and similarly worked as a tutor after graduating. He had spent 1794 and 1795 in Jena, attending Fichte’s lectures and meeting other central figures of nascent German Idealism—Urtheil und Seyn was written there. In 1795, he left Jena and eventually wound up teaching the children of the Frankfurt banker Jakob Gontard. In 1795, Hölderlin suggested that Hegel join him; in the fall of 1796, Hölderlin could finally report that he had found Hegel a position as a private tutor, this time in the household of a wine merchant, Johann Gogel, barely two blocks away from the Gontards’ home.31 In his letter dated October 24, 1796, Hölderlin beseeched Hegel to come to Frankfurt, adding that “your coming here will have to be the preface to a long, interesting, uneducated book [ungelehrten Buche] of you and me.”32 Although Hölderlin left the Gontard household only a year thereafter, amid questions about the nature of his relationship to Jakob Gontard’s young wife Susette, Hegel and Hölderlin stayed in close contact and, along with Isaak von Sinclair and Jacob Zwilling, formed the Frankfurt circle of German Idealism. Their “uneducated book of you and me” yielded a central expansion of the critique of the form of judgment. That expansion consisted in the idea that the bifurcation of Seyn in judgment might be structurally analogous to the Fichtean opposition of the I and Not-I. While the recognition that the “copulation” performed on two concepts represents a mental operation rather than a thing in the world runs from Aristotle’s De interpretatione to Kant, who thought of the copula as respectus logicus,33 the synthesizing function in Kant of course exceeded that postulated by Aristotle. It is what furnishes the ground for a possible experience of objects. “Transcendental” synthesis is thus a central constitutive feature of statements about what is the case—and its


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“sign” (the copula) is thus not a mere connecting flourish but occupies a central position, one first exploited by Fichte. In the Grundlage der Wissenschaftslehre, Fichte argues that the identity of any A can be thought only in and through the persistent consciousness of the I (I = I). However, Fichte distinguishes on the one hand this self-consciousness (as that consciousness that has itself as object and is expressed in the judgment “I am I”), and on the other a self-awareness called “feeling,” which his followers reframed as “intellectual intuition” (a consciousness that has no object and is expressed in a thetic judgment “I am”). This kind of consciousness that knows itself not through predicative but through thetic judgment (and cannot really be said to “know” itself at all, but rather is somehow “aware” of itself) is what Fichte calls an “absolute I,” and it is indeed meant to be the Absolute and subjectivity in personal union. It is against this idea that Hölderlin reacted in Urtheil und Seyn. Hölderlin criticized the legerdemain of the thetic judgment as simply spurious: “The I is possible only through the division of the I from the I.” When we speak of any kind of self-awareness, the I has an object, namely, itself. What is more, as something that always has two parts, a subject and an object (i.e., something that has the character of a judgment), their identity cannot furnish a ground for anything, since their “identity is not absolute Seyn.” It is the unification of two previously separate things, Dinge—and, as Schelling had remarked, something that is a Ding is always also bedingt,34 conditioned. Instead of relying on Fichte’s “thetic” judgment, we need to assume an antecedent unconditioned unity before the (absolute) I. For Hölderlin judgment thus turns out to be a necessary feature of consciousness. The self-positing (I = I) is a predicative judgment and thus a symptom that we have already divided Seyn. Not only our ability to say things about the world but our ability to conceive of ourselves at all depends on the primordial rupture of the world through the “is.” As Isaak von Sinclair suggests in his Philosophische Raisonnements,35 written in response to Hölderlin in late 1795, this means that what applies to judgments applies to the juxtaposition of I and Not-I, even though it cannot be said really to be a judgment. Saying “I” determines the Absolute, which means it negates it. This was something Fichte had noted already: an x can be said to be determined, if there is a set such that ~x. “All positing is also excluding,” he writes.36 But conversely, the only reason we can cleave I and Not-I apart in saying “I” is that we are relying on the same underlying X that underpins the judgment “A is b.” We are (or are able to say that we are) only as alienated creatures, only by speaking our own alienation. Accord-

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ingly, Hölderlin only a few years later claims that the (Greek) gods have no consciousness. Divine nature is unchanging and unchangeable: it has not emulated humanity in its lapse and remains a constant reminder of the original lost unity.37 The divine, because it is One, is unconscious—“the gods’ calm without suffering.”38 Only specifically human consciousness brings division into the divine sphere. This conceptualization of the self-alienated I seeking to return to the “calm without suffering” clearly gives the purely epistemological Fichtean juxtaposition of I and Not-I a Platonic charge. It does not simply deal with two things, which we can look at together and identify (in judgment) or experience as unriven whole (in intellectual intuition); it deals rather with two things that very actively desire (and indeed require) reunification. Given this infusion of desire into the epistemological model, it is not surprising that the division model of Plato’s Symposium should loom in the background. Once the Frankfurt circle fused Fichte’s philosophy with Neoplatonist philosophies of unification (a tradition called Vereinigungsphilosophie in German), the two terms juxtaposed in the Urtheil emerged as complements, halves of the same whole that strove to be united, rather than simply two aspects that necessarily excluded one another (in the case of thetic judgments) or that could not be entirely the same (in the case of predicative ones). Their noncoincidence became narrative, tragic, lapsal—they were particulars in which a drive toward universality nevertheless survived. It is of course anything but insignificant that this story of two originally unified particulars that strive for their reunification borrowed above all from the story Plato has the comedian Aristophanes tell in the Symposium—a story of the origin of sexual desire. “The desire and pursuit of the whole is called love,”39 Plato has Aristophanes declare, and once “intellectual intuition” was thought of as a kind of drive, the analogy between the cosmic feeling and love was almost impossible to avoid. The young German Idealists thus equated the kind of “unification” that the judgment attempted according to Hölderlin (but that remained “partial”) and the kind of unification with another described by Aristophanes as the essence of erotic desire—the particular’s drive toward wholeness or totality is analogous to, or is of one piece with, the desire that obtains between particular human beings. In turning away from self-consciousness as the Grundsatz that Karl Leonhard Reinhold and Fichte had regarded it to be, or rather in maintaining it only as subordinate to an antecedent absolute Seyn, Hölderlin and his circle not only created the specific configuration typical for German


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Romanticism (as Frank has argued); they also changed the character of what the I is to do in the world. For Fichte (paradigmatically in his concept of human “dignity” (Würde).40 the way human beings (and by extension societies) overcome their self-alienation is to bring their selves into congruence with themselves. While Hölderlin similarly thinks that the Absolute has something to teach us about human praxis, his I can’t rely on itself to reach that Absolute—it has to strive for Seyn. And that means it has to overcome the bifurcation of subject and object by means of their unification. The young Idealists and Romantics posited an analogy between marriage and judgment because they saw both as springing from particulars in dialogue with an overarching totality that preceded their particularization. By imbuing with erotic overtones what was at base an epistemological configuration, having the particulars actively desire and strive for unification, they further bring the erotic and the epistemic into congruence. While not all of the thinkers considered in the following chapters will adhere to the schema laid out by Hölderlin and his confederates, this pattern remains constant: knowledge, consciousness, and desire are thought analogously; constituting an object in experience is said to resemble erotic object choice and vice versa; ostensible faculties of knowledge, such as intellectual intuition, are posited as a unification corresponding to that of the sexes; and the act of subjective self-positing à la Fichte is understood in terms of the autonomy of volition and object choice of the marital relation itself. This understanding of desire allied Hölderlin and Hegel’s speculations during the Frankfurt years with certain strands of Neoplatonic thought, in particular the aforementioned philosophy of unification (Vereinigungsphilosophie),41 which Hölderlin drew from the earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713) and François Hemsterhuis (1721–90). Hemsterhuis’s Lettre sur les désirs, which had appeared in a translation by Herder in the Teutsche Merkur in 1781, argued that the soul’s desire is always aimed at its unification with the outside world (desire in general always having the structure of wanting-tobe-one).42 Hemsterhuis also suggested that the fall away from oneness was in fact a historic process. In the following section this second thesis will become central: Hemsterhuis argued that in Greek religion, the individual and the universal were reconciled in identification—an identification that has gotten lost in modern Christian bourgeois society.43 Since Urtheil und Seyn finds Hölderlin reacting to Fichte, who believed himself to have grounded the categorical imperative in the structure of human self-consciousness itself, it is not surprising that he would see his

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epistemological points as having a direct relation to practical philosophy. That the fragment frames the diremption of the originary unity of Seyn into the predicative judgment as a verlezen, as a violation or an infliction of pain on Seyn, seems to point to the ethical valences implicit in Hölderlin’s theory of judgment. Hölderlin’s monistic theory of copulation ironically segues into a dualism of its own, between a good and a bad way of relating to the Absolute. If we were simply talking about a preepistemological Whole named Seyn that the copula does away with, we might well think that this is an inevitable and natural state of affairs. When we are asked to consider Seyn as some sort of social totality riven by a mechanistic and particularizing “positive” apparatus (the “state of the understanding” [Verstandesstaat], as Hegel would later call it44), then there is a clear and unavoidable value judgment implicit in Hölderlin’s theory. On the one hand we have true, whole, self-sufficient Seyn, on the other the bisecting, brutalizing, inauthentic copula. Moreover, if philosophy’s task lies in grasping the “unconditioned,” then it would make sense that political philosophy ought to return human beings to their prelapsarian state of oneness by somehow bypassing the ensnarement of the reified, dead world of the “animal kingdom of Spirit.”45 As we will see, the reasons why Hölderlin and his friends thought that a characterization of what happens when we judge using “is” would have bearings on political or social praxis provide a first window into how exactly sexuality and marriage were to function as part of a political project of unification—and which features of marriage the early Idealists and Romantics decided to emphasize in the context of this political project.

The Politics of the Copula In outlining the political implications of Urtheil und Seyn, the “Community of Spirits” (Bund der Geister), as Hegel and Hölderlin called their circle during their years in Frankfurt and Homburg, fused Plato with Rousseau, ascribing a historic dimension to the supposed transition from Seyn to Urtheil. As Alice Ormiston has argued, Hegel’s writings from the Frankfurt years set out to explore “why a community of love,” which he locates in the various texts in either early Christianity or the Greek polis, “could not be sustained by modern individuals.”46 Similarly, Hölderlin’s great novel that emerges from this period, 1797’s Hyperion, fuses the Neoplatonic account of unification with Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin


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and Basis of Inequality among Men (1754) and its story of a fall from aboriginal immediacy to modern mediation. As Georg Lukács and others have emphasized, Hegel’s account in particular has profoundly antibourgeois implications, decrying for instance private property and professional specialization. As Ormiston notes, this is at least partially owed to Hegel’s interest in (in particular British) economic thinkers—but at least at this point in his career, “property has a deeper root for him in the rise of reflective rationality.”47 Not his reading of Smith or Gibbon was at the basis of Hegel’s assessment of modern society but the complex metaphysics of Urtheil und Seyn. Even before the Bund of “Spirits” communed in Frankfurt, Hegel had explored what this fusion of Plato, Fichte, and Rousseau might look like: the poem “Eleusis,” which Hegel wrote in August of 1796 in anticipation of his reunion with Hölderlin, connects Platonic-erotic concerns to a theory of consciousness influenced by Fichte. While the poem’s title refers to the Eleusinian Mysteries and thus to a kind of esoteric union with the cosmos, Hegel gives these ancient rites a very Hölderlinian shape. The poem centrally depends on a link between a holistic perception closely resembling intellectual intuition and friendship’s power of bridging interpersonal divisions. Surrendering a reified form of perception in turn allows the poetic I to surrender to a higher unity with the friend. Hegel opens the poem by reflecting on Hölderlin’s imminent return, but almost immediately afterward he turns his gaze to the moon and has the following experience: Sense loses itself in the gazing, What I called mine disappears, I give myself to the infinite, I am in it, am all, am only it. When thought returns it feels foreign, Terrified of this infinity and in awe, It cannot grasp the gazing’s depth. [Der Sinn verliert sich in dem Anschaun, Was mein ich nannte, schwindet, Ich gebe mich dem Unermeßlichen dahin, Ich bin in ihm, bin alles, bin nur es. Dem wiederkehrenden Gedanken fremdet, Ihm graut vor dem Unendlichen, und staunend faß Er dieses Anschauns Tiefe nicht.]48

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Friendship inspires a kind of perception that cancels out the particularity of the perceiver. The poem is deeply imbued with its dedicatee’s Neoplatonic speculations: just like intellectual intuition, the “gazing” (Anschaun) here described is inimical to reflective, predicative thought— only feeling can grasp Seyn. But the difference between predicative judgment and the direct intellection of being no longer constitutes simply the distinction between two mutually reinforcing forms of cognition, but describes instead a kind of mystic ascent by means of which we leave behind our subjective limitations for an overarching cosmic unity. “What I called mine disappears.” Instead, in this oceanic feeling the subject fuses with the universe: “I am in it, am all, am only it.” The individual loses himself in the “immeasurable,” and to think individual thoughts is to “return” to the particular I the act of “gazing” left behind. But we leave behind this particular I not just in matters of cognition. The poem’s opening encomium to Hölderlin suggests that in friendship the individual may also lose himself in another— except that here, there is no frustrating return to individuality, but rather always the hope for a reunion, a renewed Bund with the friend:

the joyous certainty

Of finding the old bond’s fidelity firmer, more mature yet, The bond that no oath has sealed, To live only free truth, never make peace with the commands That regulate opinion and feeling.

[der Gewißheit Wonne,

Des alten Bundes Treue fester, reifer noch zu finden, Des Bundes, den kein Eid besiegelte, Der freien Wahrheit nur zu leben, Frieden mit der Satzung, Die Meinung und Empfindung regelt, nie, nie einzugehn.]49

Just like the cosmic feeling, then, this Aristophanic “embrace” (Umarmung) functions as an overcoming of wanton particularity—the subject, just as in intellectual intuition, is able to go beyond itself and become one with a greater whole. The particularity it sheds in this process is described as being social and conventional in nature, and the poet’s praise of friendship makes clear ex negativo what features of reflective judgment the poetic I takes to be akin to social alienation. For one thing, the unalienated “bond” with the friend appears to be independent of speech acts; it is a bond that “no oath has sealed,” which strangely enough makes it stronger


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rather than weaker. For another, the bond is autonomous (“free truth”), which specifically means that it is directly inimical to Satzung, our social bylaws. The freely posited bond cannot be reconciled with preexisting rules governing “opinion and feeling.” The young Hegel thus seems to regard language and convention as fundamentally in league.50 To turn to language to confirm your oath is to undercut the union’s autonomy—a position that, as Paolo Bartoloni notes in his discussion of the poem, Hegel reversed between “Eleusis” and the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807).51 While marriage figures explicitly neither in “Eleusis” nor, perhaps more surprisingly, in Hegel’s somewhat later writings on love and religion, the central aspects of the friends’ Bund just identified come to guide the marital metaphysics of German Idealism and Romanticism from Fichte onward. Hegel is not the originator of this notion, but in his poem the link between a critique of social interaction and critique of the judging activity of reflective understanding is particularly pronounced. And indeed the features Hegel’s poem seems to regard as analogous to the fallen particularity of the judgment run like a red thread through the maze of early Idealist and Romantic writings on love and sexuality: the linguistic constitution of the marital oath belies the autonomous authenticity of a freely chosen unification with the other and instead subsumes it under the arbitrary commands of social norms and traditional rules. Just like the fragmentary writings of Hegel’s years in Frankfurt, where custom (“sacrifices, incense, and service”)52 becomes important only as the original unity of gods and humans becomes subject to a widening “rift” or “division” (Trennung),53 “Eleusis” seems to think custom is inimical to unity because it is essentially an articulation and recognition of distance. The writings on love and religion from his years following the reunion with Hölderlin so fervently anticipated in “Eleusis” similarly skirt the issue of marriage, preferring instead to deploy the term love as a unifying fellow feeling akin to intellectual intuition: “Where subject and object or freedom and nature are thought as united such that nature is freedom, that subject and object are not divisible,” that is where Hegel looks for love, for the divine, and for religion.54 Just as in “Eleusis,” where the Bund felt in friendship and the oneness with the universe experienced in intellectual intuition are equated, this love/intuition has its home in the sphere of both theoretical and practical philosophy. In fact, love undoes the very distinction between the theoretical and the practical spheres. “Theoretical syntheses become altogether objective and oppose themselves to the subject entirely. Practical syntheses destroy the object and are entirely

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subjective— only in love are we one with the object, it does not rule [us] nor is it ruled [by us].”55 While it is clear that Hegel does not mean by love something as circumscribed as an individual psychological state, it would be just as misguided to ascribe to Hegel’s love no such erotic connotations—to assimilate it, for instance, to Schleiermacher’s religious fellow feeling. For the Platonic provenance of Hegel’s concept of love is all too obvious: thanks to love we “no longer regard ourselves as particulars, but as unified [als vereinigte]”;56 in love “the loved object is no longer opposed to us, it is one with ourselves.”57 The wider unification, the wholesale dissolution of particularity that Hegel at various moments locates in ancient Greece, Jesus’ group of disciples, or the nascent Christian church,58 are directly analogous to love conceived as unification. The “love” that is to characterize these social formations is thus no more metaphorical than the Aristophanic unification supposedly effected in them. That the unification of the couple can be said to have correspondences in the life of the polis, the congregation, or the community constitutes one of the main features of the early Idealist metaphysics of marriage. It was Hölderlin who set out to think through this link most thoroughly. In Hölderlin’s novel Hyperion (Hyperion, oder der Eremit in Griechenland), the first volume of which appeared in 1797, the titular hermit relates in a series of letters his sentimental or, perhaps better, “transcendental” education. Hyperion’s love for Diotima, the novel’s center of gravity (inspired by Hölderlin’s own infatuation with Jakob Gontard’s young wife Susette), strikingly resembles Hegel’s characterizations of love in his writings on religion from the same period. However, unlike Hegel whose love seems to hover always above the individual and seems concerned more with community than with coupledom, Hölderlin’s hero regards the relation between the members of the couple and that between the members of the community as directly linked. When Hyperion rhapsodizes that his and Diotima’s souls “lived together now more freely and more beautifully, and everything in us and around us unified into a golden peace,”59 the political notion of a unification across the fault lines of modernity merges with the more properly Aristophanic account of the fusion of halves in and through eros (it is not by accident that Diotima appears in Hölderlin’s novel courtesy of the Symposium). Hölderlin thus assigns love a double role that Hegel’s texts only hint at. He essentially follows Rousseau in breaking down the firm line Aristotle drew between oikos and polis, insisting instead that familial love had


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to provide a model for social cohesion and vice versa—Rousseau’s claim in Émile that “by means of the small fatherland which is the family, . . . the heart attaches itself to the big one”60 is in Hyperion given a distinctly Platonic spin. At one point during their courtship, Diotima expresses her “apostasy” from external nature: she neglects everything in favor of “the one”—but that “one” throughout the passage means both her lover and the unification of all existence. The unification with the universe described in Hegel’s “Eleusis” becomes for her condensed into the unification with the lover —the “one” in which all the oppositions are merged becomes embodied in the “one” individual “to which I belong.” I have become apostate from May and summer and fall, and I no longer respect day and night, belong no longer to heaven and earth, I belong only to One, One, but the blossoms of May and the flame of summer and the maturity of fall, the clarity of day and the austerity of the night, and earth and heaven are for me united in One! This is how I love!61

Love links the cosmic (day and night, heaven and earth) on the one hand and the individual lover on the other. Its telescoping effect works in the other direction as well. Not only does love condense the unification with the universe into the unification with the lover; the relationship to the individual subject, whether the self or the lover, unfolds into a general relationship to what Georg Lukács would call antique totality, a “world of meaning that can be grasped” as one coherent whole.62 “Do you see now why the Athenians had to be a philosophical people?”63 Hyperion asks Bellarmin in one letter. Unlike the Egyptians, who have to face their world as something alien and unreconciled (echoes of Hegel’s “positive religion”), the Athenians live “in love and counterlove with heaven and earth.”64 Whoever is “not in this sense united with the element in which he dwells is by nature also not quite united in himself.”65 Love not only unites us with an individual beloved but also has to animate a polis—a larger-scale love Hölderlin, like Hegel, associates with religion: “Without such love of beauty, without such religion every state is just an emaciated skeleton without life or spirit.”66 Hölderlin here suggests that Urtheil and Seyn characterize far more than two separate cognitive or even intersubjective modes (love, friendship). It seems possible for entire “states” to be organized according to or characterized by either Urtheil or Seyn—and those states that are “an emaciated skeleton” live in apostasy from a golden age of Seyn. Under the in-

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fluence of Rousseau’s account of a primary immediacy lost and potentially regained in the well-appointed state, and in the spirit of the Grecophilia endemic in Germany at the close of the eighteenth century, Hölderlin and Hegel conceive of the decomposition of Seyn through the Urtheil in judgment as a narrative. When Fichte spoke of the “thetic” judgment “I am” on the one hand and the predicative judgment “I am I,” which can proceed only conceptually, on the other, he thought of these merely as two different forms of consciousness. While the “thetic” underpinned and therefore technically preceded the predicative judgment, in everyday consciousness the two kinds of self-conception persisted side by side, neither one excluding the other. Hölderlin, however, clearly thought of this precession as a historical narrative: Seyn represented not merely a primary feature of subjective constitution but an earlier stage of history. Urtheil thus was no longer simply a secondary form of (self-)consciousness; it succeeded and to some extent eclipsed the earlier historic state of affairs. The narrativization or historicization of the critique of reflective judgment transformed the character of the project of (and the need for) philosophy. Philosophy’s “mission,” as Schelling put it, was a search for the “Absolute” or the “unconditioned.”67 By assigning historical status both to the need for this search and to the “Absolute” itself, the German Idealists brought philosophy’s mission into congruence with their political ideas. If Seyn represented some originary unity and the division and particularization of the Urtheil constituted in some sense its fall, then philosophy’s mission carried great political import. Philosophy, in bypassing judgment and ascending toward the Absolute, left behind the present state of affairs and tried to return the world to a golden age of sorts. Not surprisingly, then, the Idealists thought of the “revolution of reason”68 as an analogue to the political revolution, both of which were to return humanity to a more organic social and intellectual praxis. What was it in the present praxis that, according to the Idealists, corresponded to the Urtheil? As suggested in both “Eleusis” and Hyperion, the answer was division and reification, which kept individuals isolated from one another, reliant on discourse and laws rather than feeling and lived, inhabited custom. Just as the judgment bisected an original plenitude and turned its two terms into seemingly self-subsistent entities, so bourgeois “civil society” was characterized by “diremption” (Entzweiung) of a social totality. Hegel saw an analogous diremption played out in “positive” religious institutions that come to face the individual with demands and rules in which he cannot recognize himself. In each case, it was the tendency of


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stark differences to persist side by side without mediation or reconciliation that enabled the analogy with the judgment. The characterization of Seyn was assumed to correspond to an antiquity characterized by immanence; the Urtheil became a characteristic of (and thus the primary point of attack for a critique of) modernity. The aboriginal unity was seen (at least in Hegel and Hölderlin’s case) in ancient Greece: its social practice was somehow “prior” to division. Rolf-Peter Horstmann has shown that the entirety of Hegel’s conceptions of bourgeois civil society consists essentially in a confrontation of antique Sittlichkeit with the objective social conditions of modernity (individualism, division).69 For Hegel and Hölderlin the sense of coherence and immanence of classical political life is lost in modernity for a false (dualistic) sense of transcendence. In a clear nod to Fichte’s concept of “dignity” and Kant’s categorical imperative, Hegel sees the autonomy of the individual within the antique polis as being replaced by radical modern heteronomy. Postclassical man locates the ultimate arbiters of his fate not in himself or his community but rather in some overpowering deity. “Man could oppose to this power himself and his freedom, once he collided with it.”70 Because of the all-dominating dualism of modernity, a modern assertion of freedom necessarily has to be on a collision course with more overarching frames of reference; being free means going against God, society, fate. As a result, the totality is felt only as constraint; community is replaced with particularization. In the polis property and passion are capable of sublation into a communal good without being experienced as a sacrifice; in modern society they are absolutized and the central organizational node of society.71 These concerns were only transformed and by no means discarded as Hegel transitioned from his Frankfurt years with Hölderlin to the first stirrings of his mature systematic philosophy in Jena. Hegel’s first published text, The Difference between Fichte’s and Schelling’s System of Philosophy (Die Differenz des Fichteschen und Schellingschen Systems der Philosophie, 1801), the pivot point between the early and the mature Hegel, still echoes the Frankfurt writings but is already characterized by the dialectical approach that would come to dominate Hegel’s mature thought. In his fragments on love of 1797/98, Hegel distinguished love from the “understanding” and “reason.”72 Love “excludes all oppositions,” unlike the understanding, “whose copulations always leave the manifold as manifold,” and unlike reason, “which opposes its determining starkly to that which is determined.”73 While the ideas of Urtheil und Seyn survive in the Differenzschrift, they do so in a very different form: The unconditioned Seyn

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Hegel now refers to as the Absolute, and the Urtheil is now just called the “understanding” (actually in keeping with Kant’s use, though with the opposite intent). These two faculties are configured in much the same way in the Differenzschrift. Love, however, has dropped out in the 1801 text. This is because the Differenzschrift breaks with an article of faith that the young Hegel shared with his Frankfurt friends (and with the Romantics in Jena and Berlin): he no longer regards love as a primary means of approaching the Absolute. In a famous passage dealing with the “need of/for philosophy” (Bedürfnis der Philosophie), Hegel distinguishes only two ways of conceiving of the Absolute. Both of them proceed by way of thinking rather than feeling. The understanding (Verstand) is characterized by taking the oppositions with which it occupies itself to be irreducible—its terms are isolated, selbständig. Reflection thus constructs the Absolute as something that is composed of these discrete objects in their totality. Reason (Vernunft) on the other hand conceives of the distinct elements only in relation to an antecedent whole (the Absolute). Rather than simply contributing as a part to the whole, each element is what it is only in relation to, that is to say as part of, the Absolute. The Frankfurt Hegel fully accepted Jacobi’s claim that any conceptual predication would have to proceed by way of an original division, which meant that the only way to know anything about the Absolute was by avoiding recourse to reflection. It is not at all accidental that love, feeling, and Seyn drop out of his conception at the same time: once Hegel posited that there was knowledge to be had of the Absolute (the nature of which would become the topic of the Phenomenology of Spirit in 1807), then the Absolute could no longer be something that was irretrievably lost in predication. Love and feeling had ceased being the royal roads to the Absolute. Not surprisingly, the Phenomenology opens with a refutation of intellectual intuition. The political dimensions of the critique of the Urtheil remained, however. The “need of/for philosophy” of which Hegel speaks in the Differenzschrift refers both to the state of affairs that calls for philosophy and to the need animating the philosopher—and philosophy’s calling lies precisely in the speculative supersession of the understanding in favor of reason. The understanding is unable to gain access to the Absolute, because it has to posit a dualism of the transcendent Absolute on the one hand and the totality of all limitations/negations on the other. We are thus dealing with a new way of framing the problem Hölderlin explored in Urtheil und Seyn. “Diremption [Entzweiung] is the source of the need for/of philosophy,” a


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“diremption” that is a product of Bildung and a specific characteristic “of our age.” In this historic process of Bildung, “that which is the appearance of the Absolute has isolated itself from the Absolute and established [ fixiert] itself as self-sufficient.”74 The terminology of “appearance” (Erscheinung) and “establishing as self-sufficient” is new, but the figure seems to repeat Hölderlin’s schema of the original splitting: something that is an instantiation of the Absolute at the same time eclipses the Absolute. This appearance’s “isolation” and lack of dialectical mediation through the Whole is analogous to the particularization involved in the Urtheil. For it is really only the judgment that turns something into something—and it fixiert that something insofar as it establishes its self-identity. Hegel’s vitriol against these machinations of the understanding owes a lot to the cultural politics of his day. It echoes in particular the Romantics’ disdain for specialization and their programmatic “universality” that was to oppose itself to the social division of labor. It should not come as a surprise that Hegel does not tarry with judging, positing, and cognition too long and launches headlong into a discussion of “men’s lives.” Once again the understanding impairs our access not only to correct knowledge but also to correct living; and once again judgment’s powerlessness in grasping the totality translates into the individual’s inability to relate meaningfully to a particular social whole—what Hegel would later call the “state of the understanding” (Verstandesstaat). 75 The passage referred to earlier reads as follows in full: When the power of unification disappears from men’s lives and when the oppositions have lost their living relation and mutual effects, and instead attain self-sufficiency, that is when the need of/for philosophy arises.76

Philosophy, on Hegel’s account, is thus a political necessity; the objective “need” for it inheres in the character of its age. And its unique contribution still has to do with superseding rather than meekly accepting preformed divisions, be these social, theological, or intellectual: “To cancel out such calcified oppositions is the sole interest of reason.”77 Hegel has abandoned most of the aspects characteristic of Hölderlin’s juxtaposition of Urtheil und Seyn—what he has maintained is the curious nexus that allows a theory of concept copulation, a political theory, and a theory of individual authenticity to coincide. In this context, individual authenticity applies both to what constitutes a genuine or “good life” for a subject, and the more specific question of what stance the philosopher or interpreter

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of reality is to take vis-à-vis the phenomena. The Differenzschrift clearly picks up on Fichte’s contention about what one’s choice of philosophy says about oneself and turns it against Kant and Fichte. That the “inauthenticity” of the mode of the understanding is coextensive with an overintegration into professionalized categories characteristic of bourgeois civil society is at least suggested in the “animal kingdom of Spirit” section of the Phenomenology, which Jean Hyppolite interprets as a persiflage of specialization in the academic disciplines.78 Hegel’s characterization of “reflection” in the Differenzschrift and before is not merely a methodological critique of Kant’s philosophy—rather, as Rolf-Peter Horstmann has noted, the danger of merely reflective kinds of philosophy lies in the “institutionalization of unreflected relations of dominance.”79 The early German Idealists’ theory of the judgment—that is to say, both the conception of the judgment as Ur-theilung and the notion of the thetic judgment — thus mapped the different modalities of judgment directly onto political counterparts, and they evaluated those political counterparts much as did the first generation of German Romantics. Among the Romantics, too, the conceptualization of the copula transformed (under the influence of contemporary forms of Platonism) into a direct analogue of the Aristophanic account of sexual difference given in the Symposium. They understood the two terms divided and reunited in the copula as complements, which actively desire their reunification rather than sheepishly allowing the Urtheil to set them apart. It is only under these conditions that a mysterious form of perception called “intellectual intuition” and erotic love can be thought as essentially indistinct. While the link between sexuality and social life in Hegel’s thought weakens between the 1797/98 fragments on love and the mature philosophy, the analogy between concept and sociality, Urteil and “state of the understanding,” retains its dominance. Another central concept of the fragments on love and religion drops out entirely, a concept that turns out to be love’s exact obverse—shame. Love, as we have seen, “excludes all oppositions”80 and in fact seeks the “destruction of the opposed [terms] in unification and [the destruction] of [their] remaining self-sufficiency.”81 As an eroticized intellectual intuition it drives toward, and yearns for, a point at which terms are no longer bluntly opposed. But emotion can travel the opposite path as well, as frustrated desire, longing that comes up against unbridgeable oppositions. Shame is the totality’s annoyance at the resistance of the ununified particular—“shame is love’s fury over [the fact of] individuality.”82 But if shame’s trajectory is thus the reverse of love’s, it


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manages to raise a question that Hölderlin’s Urtheil und Seyn was able to eschew—a question that, while it once again only touches on the topic of marriage, moves the discussion definitively into the province of sexuality. For if “shame” is offended by the unmediated, unsublated particular, then what exactly is that particular? What part of the particular is it that offends love? Hegel does not answer this question with any degree of specificity. A group of thinkers working their way through much the same course of reading about five hundred kilometers away in Berlin, in a collaborative setting not unlike Hegel and Hölderlin’s Bund der Geister, formulated theories of love, shame, and totality very much analogous to those of the Frankfurt-group.83 When they analogized being and love, judgment and shame, however, they were quite specific as to what it was that offended the Whole in the fallen particular—it was the determination of sex, and for them the Whole had to be thought as a unified androgyne.

Sexual Homelessness: Friedrich Schlegel What is remarkable about the development of early Idealist philosophy in Germany is not just its rapidity but also the seemingly inexorable logic with which different thinkers could raise strikingly similar problems simultaneously and arrive at strikingly similar solutions. For instance, as we will see in the next chapter, after leaving Jena in the fall of 1794, Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg) embarked on a careful reading of Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre, which resulted in the notebooks known today as the Fichte Studies. In these notebooks, Novalis lays out a critique of Fichte’s theory of the absolute I that closely resembles Hölderlin’s in Urtheil und Seyn—and yet it appears both thinkers developed their critiques entirely independently of each other. The two may have met in Jena in early 1794, but whatever exchange of ideas took place upon the occasion appears to have been minimal. Nevertheless, when it came to outlining the problems of Fichte’s account of self-consciousness, the two struck upon essentially the same points of criticism. A similar overlap exists between Hegel’s thinking on love during the Frankfurt years and the reflections of Friedrich Schlegel and his roommate Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher about the same topic. It is highly doubtful that these three thinkers knew of one another’s work in detail at this time. Hegel refers to Schleiermacher’s Reden über die Religion in the preface to the Differenzschrift in 1801, but since the former

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work appeared anonymously, it is unclear whether he knew the work was Schleiermacher’s.84 Moreover, the Differenzschrift marks the conclusion of the period in Hegel’s oeuvre that we are interested in—whether Hegel was familiar with Schleiermacher’s work during his Frankfurt years (as Ernst Müller has recently argued)85 is uncertain. Conversely, as Andreas Arndt has pointed out, Schleiermacher during the same years seems to have regarded Hegel primarily as Schelling’s stooge86 —and in any event, those of Hegel’s writings that concern us here remained unpublished not just during the years under consideration but in fact well beyond Hegel’s lifetime. As baffling as the degree of overlap between Novalis and Hölderlin, these ideas about love, the Absolute, and the question of sex seem to have been simply “in the air”— or, perhaps better, latent in the early Idealists’ eclectic yet surprisingly uniform course of reading. When the Idealist and Romantic metaphysicians of marriage turned to an analogy between intellectual intuition and marriage, they did so for two related reasons: they regarded love and marriage as fundamentally concerned with totality; and they regarded love and marriage as obtaining necessarily between two separate related terms. The same was, according to them, true for the judgment: it was based on an underlying totality, which it nevertheless necessarily decomposed into two separate relata. There is nothing in this model to suggest that one of these relata has to be male, the other female, something that would have in any event constrained the incredibly wide gamut of applications Hegel and Hölderlin assigned to the figure of the Urtheil. When Schlegel turned to the same analogy, he found an altogether different way of mapping the sexual relationship onto the form judgment. He likewise proceeded from the idea that the act of judging entailed the destruction of an all-underpinning totality. But he added Fichte’s claim that the two sexes are not accidental to the diremption of the Absolute but that their particular constitution results directly from the nature of this diremption (into I and Not-I, in Fichte’s case). Unlike Fichte, however, who saw this co-dependence of a determining term and a determined term (I and Not-I, for instance) as inevitable, Schlegel regarded the division of the terms in the sexual judgment as itself a problem. Sexual difference is precisely the kind of alienation from the totality that Hegel and Hölderlin’s critique of the Urtheil bemoaned. In Fichte as in Rousseau, the proper response to the play of determination and determinedness is to fully embrace those gender(ed) roles. “All the faculties common to the two sexes are not equally divided,” Rousseau claims in Émile, “but taken together, they balance out.”87 This doctrine of


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“gender complementarity,”88 which Rousseau bequeaths to Fichte among others, requires both sexes to fulfill their “essential” roles—if women try to act like men, they upset the entire equation. “Woman is worth more as a woman and less as a man,”89 Rousseau remarks, and adds that “each sex ought to keep to its own tone.”90 For other early Idealists, however, gender(ed) roles are themselves indices of the fall into the reified world of particulars and the destruction of the totality of Seyn. Rather than calling for women and men to dissolve more fully into the roles that will moralize their relation, that is to say, for women to become more female and men to become more male, this line of thinking calls for the opposite, for the erasure of what makes men specifically male and women specifically female, putting its faith instead in an abstract, undetermined “humanity” that lies beyond the determinations of sexual difference. The love that functions analogously to “intellectual intuition” is for these thinkers concerned with a transcendence not merely of the particular human being, citizen, churchgoer, lover toward a common preexisting horizon but also of sexual particularity tout court. Likening this move toward a more androgynous, sexually undetermined or undelimited “hu‑ ma­nity” to the faculty of “intellectual intuition” is not as strange as it may at first seem: As chapter 1 showed, there is a long tradition in philosophy of implicitly gendering intuition (that is, sensory receptivity) as feminine and the intellect (that is to say, the active conceptual forming of what the senses furnish) as masculine—and the relationship of one to the other as a recapitulation of the sexual relationship. In this context, the strange hybrid faculty of intellectual intuition— declared an impossibility by Kant and many others91—is itself something of an androgyne, and something as rare, exotic, and ultimately elusive. Much like Hegel and Hölderlin, Schlegel (and his friend and roommate Schleiermacher) understood the division between the sexes as analogous to social divisions of labor, property, and so on. What Hegel for instance terms “diremption” applies equally to the fate of the community in bourgeois civil society and to the sexes when facing each other in a reified relationship unmediated by absolute “life.” Most of the protagonists of early Idealism and Romanticism considered so far subscribed to a Platonic (or, more precisely, “Aristophanic”) account of the existence of men and women as the fragments of a primordial oneness. But for them, the existence of men and women only signified the loss of absolute oneness; masculinity and femininity were not themselves obstacles in reattaining that oneness. But reading sexual difference as reification commits one to

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precisely that notion: it is not enough that men desire women and women men and that in and through that desire the original unity can reconstitute itself; women have to become less feminine and men less male in order for this reconstitution to succeed. Gender identity is an index of the fall from oneness, and anything that strengthens sexual identity is in fact as corrosive of the whole as class favoritism, parochialism, religious dualism, and rabble morale are vis-à-vis the social totality. In this context the Romantic preoccupation with the androgyne reveals its full utopian valence: it is more than the negation of all discrete sexual identity: it is more broadly the negation of negation, to adduce a somewhat anachronistic figure. Understanding sexual difference as a kind of reification fundamentally akin to other types of social or metaphysical alienation means postulating (a) that the sexual relationship is fundamentally analogous to other kinds of relationships and that the same kind of alienation can obtain in either; (b) that there is a “sexual homelessness” to go along with our transcendental homelessness in modernity, and that sex roles and/or gender identities are themselves indexes of that homelessness. Conversely, the concept of shame attains its utmost importance only in this context: the shame that subjects feel about their bodily sexedness is not simply instinct or custom —it constitutes an intuition of the subject’s diremption from primordial androgyny. Shame, on this picture, is always a correlate of sex—because sex is the sentimental nostalgia for androgynous naïveté. The notion of a salvation story of sex has its origins in the writings of the seventeenth-century mystic Jakob Boehme (though its ultimate roots lie in earliest Christian thought).92 Boehme’s anthropogony maps the Aristophanic narrative of the superbeings split in half by the gods onto the biblical story of the fall and the origin of sin.93 He understood the Platonic superbeings as androgynous, even though the Symposium itself suggests that the majority of these beings would have been double men or double women. That is to say that he projects the sexual theodicy of Genesis onto an origin story that is altogether more slippery in terms of gender. For Boehme, Adam existed prior to sexual difference (though he included feminine and masculine principles). The lapsal moment occurred precisely as a reification, when Adam lost himself in “the multitude of things.” As a consequence of his fall from grace, Adam falls apart into Adam and Eve—and salvation, on Boehme’s picture, would consist in nothing other than the restoration of the androgyne Adam: “On judgment day, Adam must stand again unbroken, in the first image, as he was when created.”94 The shame men and women feel before each other is nothing other than


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a dawning awareness that their difference is itself an index of their fall into sin. Although the Romantics in general had a sustained and persistent interest in Boehme’s thought,95 none of them accorded a more central position to androgyny than Franz von Baader (see chapter 5). Baader, a theosophical thinker who professed that he wanted to be the “copula” between his two main influences, Jacobi and Schelling,96 follows Boehme in positing a unified being that “is neither man nor woman” but instead contains the “union of the potencies of both sexes [beider Geschlechtspotenzen] in itself.”97 Just like Boehme, he understands salvation as reunification of these Potenzen and the restoration of the prelapsarian androgyne. Baader does not mean this claim metaphorically—for instance, he understands the embrace (not the kiss or sex act, but rather a simple hug) as an attempt at extending one’s ribs (his biological theory understands the bones of the arm to have originated as ribs) around the other, and thus as the quite literal inclusion of the beloved in one’s own ribcage.98 The ultima ratio of this way of thinking sexuality is encapsulated by Friedrich Schlegel’s early essay “Ueber die Diotima” (1795), which proposes the following “principle” (Grundsatz): “Femininity like masculinity is to be cleansed in favor of higher humanity.”99 Schlegel to some extent assumes that the sexes have stable characters in the mold described by Fichte, but he thinks that these can and should be overcome, for his answer to what precisely must be worked away in favor of “higher humanity” depends on the very dichotomies that had been used to organize the sexual relation since Schiller, Humboldt, and Fichte: active/passive, autonomous/ natural, and so on. Men are to decrease their autonomy (decrease their Würde, we might say with Fichte), and women are to increase theirs. In his Philosophische Lehrjahre, Schlegel claims that “against Fichte, we have to insist that the truth cannot simply be found along the active path of free thought but also requires a passive surrender to God.”100 The “active path of free thought” clearly refers to the positing autonomy that Fichte so insistently gendered male; passivity (Müssiggang), on the other hand, was for Schlegel a form of feminization— one required of man, if he is to ascend to the “higher humanity.” Schlegel thus operates with concepts of “masculinity” and “femininity” similar to those of his contemporaries, but he frequently he insists that gender is a “profession,” something that divides humanity just as different pursuits alienate men from one another—it may be “natural,” but precisely because it is brutely “given,” (true) humanity must consist in working away this givenness through “counterweights.” As

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an essay that Schlegel framed as a letter to his future wife and published as “On Philosophy: To Dorothea” (“Über die Philosophie: An Dorothea,” 1799) puts it: Only tender masculinity, only autonomous femininity should be the right one, the true one, and the beautiful one. If this is so, then the character of the sex, which is nothing but a congenital, natural profession, should not be exaggerated even further, but should rather be mitigated by counterweights, so that uniqueness may find a space that is as unlimited as possible, in order to move within the entire human province according to whim and love.101

This passage highlights the striking analogies between the Frankfurt circle’s critique of social reification and atomization on the one hand and Schlegel’s critique of gender roles on the other: after all, the reason why we are to shake off the “character of the sex” is that it is “a congenital, natural profession.” In this strange locution, Schlegel manages to combine two seemingly opposed forms of particularization that lord over subjects and impair their self-determination: as something “merely” naturally given, sex can be overcome by the autonomous, self-empowered subject; and insofar as it is a social accident, a “profession” like priest or cobbler, it can and must be left behind in an effort to reverse our more thoroughgoing alienation from the social totality. Among the early Idealists and Romantics, Schlegel went furthest in identifying sexual difference with such a lapse into inauthenticity and sounded out most thoroughly the utopian valences of androgyny. Schlegel is also most explicit in highlighting the logical provenance of this philosophy of sexual difference, namely, the idea of the judgment as a model for the sexual relationship that has constituted the guiding thread of this chapter. Schlegel explicitly rehearses this sexed/sexual logic in a section of Lucinde entitled “Eine Reflexion.” There he allies masculinity with “that which determines” (das Bestimmende) and femininity with “that which is determined” (das Bestimmte).102 An underlying unity is separated not into two particulars of cognition (as in Hölderlin’s model) but rather into two faculties of cognition: like Fichte, Schlegel mapped sexual difference onto the separation within perception of that which determines (the category) and that which is determined by it (data, the A and the b of the judgment “A is b”). Schlegel thus makes an explicit association of masculinity and the category on the one hand and of femininity and the datum on the other—and


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he makes clear the monistic thrust that would have been foreign to earlier philosophers (from Aristotle via Bacon to Kant) invoking such a parallelism. For them, the determining and the determined faced each other irreducibly; for the early Idealists, this was just another of the “dualisms” they criticized so vigorously as characteristic of the fallen world of the Urtheil. Consequently, for Schlegel the interaction between category and datum drives toward a kind of fully undetermined (that is to say, nonrelational) oneness. “That which determines and that which is determined and the plenitude of their determined and undetermined relations, this is the One and the Whole, . . . the most simple and the highest.”103 And Schlegel explicitly characterizes such unification into a “One and a Whole” as the telos of that which is determined and of that which determines. Throughout the passage, Schlegel exploits the fact that the German word for (conceptual) “determination,” Bestimmung, also refers to one’s destiny. When he calls for a “true,” nonreified Bestimmung, he is both advocating a supersession of the dichotomy of that which is determined and that which determines, and suggesting that such supersession is where both are tending of their own accord. For it happens only “when both are combined in the true calling/determination, which is determined/fated [bestimmt] to fill in all gaps and to be mediator between the male and female individuals [Einzelnen] and infinite humanity.”104 When Schlegel’s protagonist in Lucinde extols totality and wholeness, he explicitly analogizes sexual difference and the Urtheil on the one hand and the supersession of sexual difference in love and the indifferentiated plenitude of Seyn on the other. And where Hegel’s poem to Hölderlin identified friendship as the feeling that represented at once a cognition of the whole, while Hölderlin’s Hyperion identified it as “love,” the texts collected in Lucinde are explicit in calling the transcendence of sexual difference “marriage” (Ehe)105 or carnal “embrace” (Umarmung). As in the metaphysics of Urtheil und Seyn, marriage does not create something new out of two preexisting particulars; instead, it returns them to a primordial unity. Julius, the narrator of Schlegel’s novel, sees marriage as an “allegory of the completion of the male and the female in complete humanity.”106 The reason why marital partners are “indivisible as though one person”107 is simply that they were once just that. Love’s “romantic confusion”108of sexes and positions recapitulates, however ironically, a primordial, Aristophanic chaos. In his notebooks, Schlegel identifies irony’s purchase on this “eternal chaos” as “intellectual intuition”109 and gives the concept a strongly metaphysical dimension: he describes “chaos” as the totality of

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“I and world,”110 which love at once “separates” (sondert)111 and restores. A passage at the outset of Lucinde describes this process: I can no longer say, my love or your love; both are equal and entirely One, as much love as counterlove. This is marriage, the eternal unity and connection of our spirits, not just for what we call this or that world, but for the one indivisible, nameless, infinite world, for our entire eternal being and life.112

As we saw, Sein and Leben are both chiffres for the hen kai pan in Hölderlin and Hegel respectively. Once again, then, love and marriage contain the possibility of canceling out wanton divisions imposed by a broadly conceived modernity, this time of gender roles rather than social positions and strata. Hegel and Hölderlin’s Frankfurt speculations, although they deal with “love” extensively, never understand gender roles themselves to be a problem analogous to social classes, religions, professions. Nevertheless, it is clear that the accounts of marriage elaborated by the Bund der Geister in Frankfurt and the roommates Schlegel and Schleiermacher in Berlin bear at least a family resemblance, a resemblance that cannot simply be explained as a feature of what Peter Furth called a “Romanticism of alienation” (Romantik der Entfremdung).113 Rather, it is the copulation between subject and predicate, or Schlegel’s “that which determines and that which is determined,” that connects them. If the formal features of the early Romantic and Idealist critique of the judgment lent themselves to describing a whole range of phenomena—the alienation of the individual from the modern state as well as the sexed being’s fall from primordial androgyny—then this feature strengthened rather than weakened its appeal. After all, it was precisely its staggering breadth of possible applications that gave the figure its power: thanks to the conceptual vocabulary of the Urtheil and primordial Seyn, a claim about marriage could speak not just to marital partners’ relation to one another but equally well to that between citizens of a state. Marital love could furnish a form of cognition, a model for the relationship to a cosmic totality, a figure for the social totality, and a paradigm of intersubjectivity all at once. If the aim of early Romanticism and Idealism was, as Slavoj Zizek has put it, “a marriage between love and the law,” then it was precisely Urtheil und Seyn that allowed those two partners to speak a common language. The self-sufficiency of the structure of the judgment further allowed them to postulate such parallels independent of traditional connections between state, family, community, or even any historic precedent. Though


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they turned to some exemplary historic social formations (the early Christian church, the Greek polis, etc.), when the Idealists and Romantics used the word “marriage” during the 1790s, the word referred to an ideal rather than any actual marriage currently in existence. Like Fichte, they had no interest in defending marriage as they actually found it practiced in their day; the marriage for which they fought would have been unrecognizable as such to most of their contemporaries. Thus, even though the priority of the whole over the parts, which made the philosophemes of Urtheil and Seyn, as well as the model of “intellectual intuition,” so enormously attractive to them, seemed to lend itself to the call for, say, wives to submit to the whims of their husbands, the German Idealists and Romantics sought to elaborate structures in which submission enhanced rather than impaired autonomy. The priority of the unity over the terms united in it was not to entail the reintroduction of “positive” sources of authority from without. As the next chapter will show, one of the most brilliant attempts to construct a self-sustaining marital monad without recourse to traditional or even anthropological buttresses, but with the power of constituting and structuring a polis around itself, was the highly idiosyncratic metaphysics of marriage developed by a brilliant youth named Friedrich von Hardenberg, but called Novalis.

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“Marriage Is the Most Exalted Secret”: Novalis on the Metaphysics and Semiotics of Marriage


he logic of Urtheil, Seyn, and “intellectual intuition” that animates the monistic responses to Fichte coopts the language of marriage in two different guises: on the one hand marriage comes to stand in for the rescission of a whole range of divisions (along class or confessional lines, within a people or between peoples), and its employment is essentially metaphorical; on the other hand, the logic of Urtheil und Seyn is applied precisely to the relation between the sexes, to explain how an ontology of sexed individuals is possible at all. At its most extreme, the former (marriageas-model) can entirely eclipse the latter (marriage as a topic in itself): marriage is overdetermined to the point that the phenomenon can but point beyond itself, a standing reserve of meaning to which it itself has no access. This can at times seem to be the case with Novalis. Just like Friedrich Schlegel, he encountered the thought of Kant, Fichte, and Schiller during his studies in Jena or shortly thereafter, though he combined their thought with a wide range of natural science and mysticism. When he left Jena in 1794, he opted for a life of science and technology, rather than a bohemian existence à la Schlegel or Hölderlin, serving in the administration of several mines around and later studying mining in Freiberg. The fact that he encountered Fichte’s thought (whom he seems to have read after hours in far-flung mining towns) while engaged in natural scientific pursuits almost inevitably paved the way for a kind of syncretism that sought to discover consonances between Fichte’s theory of consciousness and the


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processes of nature. One such consonance was the marriage figure. In the notes for a “Romantic Encyclopedia” known collectively today as Das Allgemeine Brouillon (1798/99), the poet remarks that “higher philosophy deals with the marriage of nature and spirit”1 and adds that human beings are the children of this marriage.2 Marriage is thus inscribed into the very heart of Novalis’s encyclopedic project. However, it is inscribed as metaphor: Novalis appears to be borrowing from the realm of the erotic in order to make a point about theoretical philosophy, or, at later moments in the Brouillon, about chemistry, language, music etc. The very reversibility of the figure of Urtheil enables a collapse between the realms of theoretical and practical philosophy—for example when the author of the so-called “Oldest System Program of German Idealism”3 can take “the understanding” to characterize a particular kind of epistemology and a particular kind of political and social organization. In this respect, Novalis’s metaphorics of marriage would simply prove a case in point. However, we have also found that for the German Romantics and Idealists there was something intrinsic to the structure of the marital relation that made it particularly attractive as a model for political organization—and this something, whatever it was, had to be truly part of the essence or nature of marriage, rather than just a metaphor for something else. The problem Novalis’s use poses when he proclaims a “marriage of nature and spirit” is that the metaphor seems preferential rather than necessary. Indeed, it is difficult to see what distinguishes the marital relation from certain organic or chemical processes that serve as metaphors for similar processes in Novalis— does the “marriage of nature and spirit” mean anything more than their combination as one? At other points in Novalis’s theoretical writings, however, it seems far less obvious that marriage is simply a standing reserve of meaning for processes outside of itself—in particular when it comes to political considerations. When Novalis notes in the Allgemeine Brouillon that “the state consists not of individual human beings but of couples and communities,”4 then marriage seems to be adduced as a central feature of sociality in its own right, rather than as a stand-in for something else.5 The reasons for this move certainly rest within Novalis’s metaphysics (as well as arguably his natural scientific speculations), but that does not mean that marriage is here used to make a point about something other than itself. If we could untangle why Novalis asserts that “gamism [i.e., connubial love] is the basis of patriotism,”6 we could understand how marriage functions in Novalis’s political philosophy and how that function is licensed by the metaphysical picture he inherited and adapted from Fichte.

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In the following, I will attempt to show that Novalis’s use of marriageas-model is far less arbitrary than some of his notes (in particular those dealing with the natural sciences) can make it seem. This attempt is tantamount to establishing a structure particular to marriage that allows it to function as a model for a politics, which in turn means establishing that Novalis has a practical philosophy at all. At first blush, the existence of such a practical philosophy is anything but obvious: Novalis’s reflections on politics (in particular in the collections of fragments grouped as Pollen [Blüthenstaub] and Faith and Love [Glauben und Liebe]) are concerned much more with the organization of an ideal polis than with questions of individual actions, motives, and norms. Extracting from these reflections a practical philosophy in line with Fichte’s reflections on the practice of marriage in his Foundations of Natural Right will prepare us to trace the outlines of the late Novalis’s theory of marriage in his “political novel”7 (in the sense that it too is concerned with the organization of a Platonic polis), Heinrich von Ofterdingen. Perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, this chapter will not take the famous remark in which Novalis likens his philosophical investment to his engagement to his bride Sophie as its point of departure. Tempting though it is to read Novalis’s preoccupation with love, marriage, and loss as a direct effect of his biography, this study is premised on the notion that there is a theoretical necessity and stringency to Romantic and Idealist considerations of the topic. The tendency to reduce the poet’s strange and varied oeuvre to a “Novalis myth,”8 which understands the engagement to and loss of Sophie von Kuehn as the overriding biographic shibboleth to Novalis’s poetic work, was to some extent invited by Novalis during his lifetime, though it intensified after his death, with the help of his editors and intellectual executors Schlegel and Johann Ludwig Tieck, and became orthodoxy with Wilhelm Dilthey’s Das Erlebnis und die Dichtung later in the nineteenth century.9 William A. O’Brien has claimed that this “Novalis myth” willfully subs­titutes the poet’s personal eros for what were in fact rather pointed poli­tical aspects of Novalis’s oeuvre. While we will attempt to skirt the “Novalis myth” that reduces political allegories to biographical ciphers, we will also attempt to stay clear of O’Brien’s approach, since it presupposes that love and politics constitute alternatives in reading Novalis. Instead, our line of inquiry will proceed once more from the premise that love and politics are intensely interwoven, at times even identical, in early German Romanticism. A temptation that has more recently arisen is to read Novalis entirely in terms of a theory of language and semiotics. In the convolutes of


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fragments and notes that document Novalis’s intellectual development following his studies in Jena, Novalis indeed elaborates a strange and intriguing theory of the sign, positing a mystical attraction between signifier and signified—a theory that crucially informs his thoughts on marriage as well. Especially in the wake of deconstruction, however, there has been a tendency to read Novalis’s erotics (or any “theory of x” offered in these notebooks, for that matter) as “really” being a semiotic or linguistic theory. Such a reading would understand the poietics of marriage we have been tracing as simply a code for poietics in general—and thus again leave us in a position where Novalis’s theory of marriage is not about marriage at all. While Novalis’s obsession with analogy and correspondence certainly gives some credence to that notion (in other words, Novalis’s thought on marriage cannot be only about marriage), it misses the fact that auto­ poiesis is not just a semiotic operation. Rather, Novalis also turns to the autopoiesis in language or the sign to anchor autopoiesis in extralinguistic and in particular political terrains.

Judgment, Being, and Love as “Original Ground” Much like his friends and colleagues in Jena and Frankfurt, Novalis began his engagement with Fichte’s thought with Fichte’s theory of selfconsciousness and only gradually expanded into the practical implications of this theory of self-consciousness. Novalis had met Fichte through his friend Niethammer (an elder friend of Hegel’s, Schelling’s, and Hölderlin’s from their days in the Tübingen Stift) in 1795,and resolved to engage with Fichte’s philosophy in some depth. The notes known today collectively as the Fichte Studies, which Novalis began in the fall of 1795, open with a fragment criticizing Fichte’s discussion of positing (most famously positing identity in the statement A = A), and it was Fichte’s epistemology that attracted Novalis’s attention. By the time he began filling his notebooks with the fragments that were supposed to one day become a Romantic Encyclopedia, the Allgemeine Brouillon, these narrower concerns had expanded considerably, and he began elaborating the socio-ethical ramifications of Fichte’s theory of self-consciousness, most prominently by turning to the political power of marriage. If the Fichte Studies complicates Fichte’s picture of self-consciousness and marriage as analogues, these later notes implicitly diverge from Fichte’s theory of marriage in much more dramatic ways: For Novalis as for Fichte, love and marriage are identical—being

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in one means being in the other. But where for Fichte marriage was just the secondary, outward sign of love, meaningless to the lovers themselves, Novalis insists that while a love relation is obvious to the two people in it, the turning outward accomplished in marriage is central to love’s communicative dimensions. Marriage communicates intimacy to a wider community, as a sign to be decoded and understood in rather complex ways. Novalis’s Fichte Studies departs from Fichte most significantly in abandoning the idea of an “absolute I.” Instead, in a move similar to that which Hölderlin makes in Urtheil und Seyn,10 Novalis proposes that the Absolute no longer be thought as an absolute self-consciousness. Since consciousness is always a consciousness of something, self-consciousness is always already relational and the notion of absolute self-consciousness a contra­ dictio in adiectum. Instead, he proposes to think the Absolute “as a nonrelational oneness,”11 of which one cannot be “conscious” in any epistemic sense of the word, but which is accessible only to “feeling.” It is return to this oneness that is at the heart of both Novalis’s poetics and his theory of marriage: just as Novalis the poet aims to upend and confuse our normal linguistic habits in order to have a productive kind of confusion return us to the Absolute, so marriage in Novalis’s political writings (as well as in his dizzyingly complex fairy tales) sends our heads spinning with a veritable carousel of the sexes, families, and dynasties. We feel this dizziness in apprehending the Absolute, because there is no structured thinking of the Absolute; instead “all thinking is the art of illusion [Schein].”12 What Novalis means by Schein is an illusion that hides the actual state of affairs; but this illusion is not a result of shoddy or confused thinking—it is a necessary consequence of any kind of thinking. Propositional thought necessarily constructs an “illusion.” What Novalis calls a Scheinsatz is thus essentially equivalent to Hölderlin’s Urtheil: both occlude what makes them possible, both proffer their truths in the context of a wider truth they constitutively have to miss. In judgment (which Novalis, like Kant, seems to regard as the paradigmatic form of thought), we carve out individuals that don’t “really” exist, match them with contentless universals (concepts), and thus necessarily tear apart the underlying totality that allows for judging in the first place. However, in a move that none of Novalis’s contemporaries seem to have emulated, Novalis posits that the Absolute is present in the fallen form of judgment after all—but only “in reverse,” as it were. Novalis’s term for this phenomenon is that the Absolute appears in the judgment in ordo inversus—a notion that will turn out to subtend Novalis’s marital metaphysics as well.


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That in turn means that restoring the oneness of the Absolute from the rivenness that the “dichotomized oppositions”13 characteristic of reflecting consciousness necessarily perpetrate upon it cannot be the task of philosophy. Rather, this is to be the program of “my magic Idealism,”14 that is, at least on the most common reading of Novalis, through the spirit of poesy. Through the aesthetic the Not-I is to be subjectivized—it turns, as Novalis remarks in another fragment, into a “Thou”;15 poetically the I is to find itself in the other. More recently, scholars such as Manfred Frank and Frederick Beiser have contested the notion that this “Thou” is a matter only of the aesthetic realm.16 What is clear, however, is that whatever subtends the I / Thou distinction as an Absolute is not accessible to a philosophy that would proceed by means of reflection and judgment. Instead, a philosophy that wants to thematize it has to become “magical” or “moral” (which, strangely enough, come to be almost equivalent terms for Novalis)—and it is in this moment of “moralization” that the concept of love will once again enter the picture. How exactly this reconfiguration of Fichte affects the vocabulary of Urtheil und Seyn, and the peculiar practical philosophy Novalis derives from this configuration, becomes visible in a fragment that appears in one of the early notebooks of the Allgemeine Brouillon (fragment 80). Here, Novalis rehearses his Erkenntnistheorie but segues directly into a discussion of “morality,” treating his considerations of the theory of consciousness and his con­sid­erations of practical philosophy as essentially coterminous. Where Fichte introduced the concept of dignity to bridge the gap between consciousness and morality, Novalis seems to think that there is no such gap to be bridged. Furthermore, as both Frank and O’Brien have recently noted,17 Novalis’s reconfiguration of Fichte involves a certain semiotic turn—his theory of consciousness is intimately bound up with his theory of the sign and of representation (Darstellung). This shift of emphasis has important ramifications for the concept Novalis relies on to assert the identity of prac­­tical and theoretical philosophy (rather than simply bridging the two)—namely, love. In the Allgemeine Brouillon, Novalis follows up his version of the typical Romantic critique of the form of judgment almost immediately with an exposition of the outlines of his marital metaphysics: in a series of fragments that clearly proceed in a sequence, Novalis makes the move that we traced in the previous chapters, from points about predication and (conceptual) copulation in propositions directly to a discussion of erotic love. In what follows, we will find that this is not a matter of caprice but rather leads to the heart of Novalis’s marital metaphysics.

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At the beginning of this fragment, Novalis provides his own version of the monistic metaphysics of Urtheil und Seyn. Determined particulars cannot be thought as existing prior to an indeterminate “totality” (All­ heit), nor can they be prior to several “determined totalities [bestimmte Allheiten] z.” Primacy belongs to an “all-determinable [allbestimmbare] totality [Allheit] Z,” which then decomposes into y and x. Here, however, we encounter an important difference from Hölderlin’s line of argument: Z’s decomposition is effected by contact with another yet-to-be-determined totality — another Z.18 Novalis now adds that “everything determined” (alles Bestimmte) is determined or individual only insofar as it is already comprehended (begriffen) in “a system or z” (in einem System oder z). In isolation, he claims, this lowercase z would constitute a universe—“an alldetermined Z” (ein allbest[immtes] Z). (It seems that for Novalis a totality that contains all possible determinations and one that is entirely undetermined are one and the same.) Z is thus that all-encompassing substratum (Spinoza’s substance) to which any determination and any one individuation can be applied— or, which is to say the same thing, to which every determination or individuation applies. Lower-case z, by contrast, is a “determined totality.” Z decomposes into any y and x but cannot be said to be individuated until its totality has been systematized into a something of its own (lowercase z), something to which y and x can genuinely be said to relate as parts. Novalis’s use of capital and miniscule z’s, his distinction between determinedness and determinability, may seem willfully confusing, but these complexities are owed to the centrality of representation in his system: z represents the all-determinable totality Z, but in representing that totality, z determines it. In the first fragments of the Fichte Studies, Novalis turns to capitalization in order to make a point about representation (Darstel­ lung). He opens his notes by claiming that we have to “leave the identical, . . . in order to represent it.”19 This leaving-behind of the identical in its representation is what produces “appearance” (Schein).20 Lowercase z thus represents capital Z but conceals something essential about Z at the same time. With respect to fragment 80 of the Allgemeine Brouillon, this means that Z can be “represented” (dargestellt) either not at all or only in terms of a systematic totality z that (a) makes Z accessible to thought but (b) blocks any “direct” access to Z. When he says that this systematic totality z is “determined,” Novalis seems to mean that each system has to read Z under some kind of aspect that misses some of the all-determinable Z and thus in effect determines it.


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But Novalis insists that Schein, however inevitable in human thinking, also represents a “moral” problem. This constitutes the Brouillon’s central addition to Novalis’s strictly epistemological concerns in the Fichte Studies. “The current determination and distribution of each individual in this world system is only a matter of appearance or relative, accidental—historical—immoral?”21 This does not mean that Novalis thinks of the distribution of individuals within our world as only an appearance, or as somehow illusory. Instead, the individual is simply not what is most real; its location and properties are expressed in a Scheinsatz, an Urtheil that eclipses the totality it means to express. After describing the “world system,” that is to say, the physical manifestation of the logic of Z and z, Novalis picks up cryptically under the heading “doctrine of the future” (Zuk[unfts] Lehre) and explains why the Scheinsatz is unmoralisch. Referring to the “world system” z, he asserts that “this condition of law must become one of morals.”23 Lowercase z is a totality seen under a particular aspect. The aspect in question here appears to be that of law, that is to say, mathematical or physical lawlikeness, which Novalis opposes to “magical” nature and art.24 This “magicalization” of lawlike nature and art is precisely what turns z into Z: magic leaves behind the boundaries of systems organized by laws, delivering us from the un­ moralisch Scheinsatz z to the preexistent indeterminate totality Z—“the original ground [Urgrund],” love. Where propositional law-guided thought has to turn nature into a mechanical system and necessarily cleaves subject from object, a true “moral condition” would consist in accessing Z (Seyn or Leben for Hölderlin and Hegel, respectively) directly, without falling away from unity with nature. The “moralization” Novalis calls for on the one hand is more expansive than what other figures of the Enlightenment and of Romanticism meant by the concept but on the other hand retains certain central features of what we might call “moral”25 —for instance, reference to a social world, to a human other, to nature conceived as interlocutor. This move may well be inspired by Novalis’s studies of François Hemsterhuis, who read morality as an orientation toward an underlying totality (see chapter 2). This sense of connectedness, the dissolution of subject-object oppositions in consciousness, is what Novalis refers to as both “morality” and “magic.” Novalis does not understand the transcendence of the I /Not-I division to be distinct from the sphere of morality. Rather than having to connect the theory of self-consciousness and moral philosophy, Novalis seems to regard them as always already identical; the concept that allows him to do this is “love.”

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If Novalis’s conception of love thus sidesteps Fichte’s central problem, having to connect self-consciousness and love via “dignity,” it nevertheless raises a problem of its own. Love is at base both the result and the condition of the I / Thou distinction—it allows for recognition and difference at once. Love is, in a very straightforward sense, “between” two separate things, and it to some extent annuls or suspends their separation. On the other hand, however, Novalis recurs to love as an Urgrund, as something that subtends all reality, allowing for the recognition of sameness between two separate entities in the first place. Paradoxically, then, love (as ground) would furnish the basis for love (as the bringing together of I and Thou). For Novalis, then, love becomes a much more multifaceted concept than it was for Fichte. The key to this variegation lies in Novalis’s concept of Darstellung—love has more than one function in Novalis’s system in contrast to Fichte’s, and the multiplication of its functions is licensed by Novalis’s peculiar theory of representation, that is to say, his idea of the ordo inversus and his theory of the sign. In order to understand Novalis’s semiotic theory of marriage, we will turn to the 1798 text Faith and Love. Here, Novalis aims to transform the “mechanical state” via a “chemical marriage,” to perform the same kind of “moralization” the Brouillon seeks for science; moreover, he arrives at a notion Humboldt and Mereau developed independently earlier, namely, that marital autonomy is somehow like subjective autonomy—the poiesis of marriage becomes the germ cell for a poetic state.

“Love’s Magic Circle”: Faith and Love By the time he undertook to “moralize” Fichte in his notes for the Brouil­ lon, Novalis had already begun to investigate what such a moralization might accomplish in the political realm. He undertook that investigation in tandem with his friend Friedrich Schlegel. The two had met in Leipzig in 1792, when both men were just twenty years old. When Novalis embarked on his postgraduate sojourn in Weißenfels and Freiberg, the two remained in close contact. Novalis read through and critiqued much of Schlegel’s writing for the Athenäum, and Schlegel dedicated another collection of fragments (Ideen) to his friend. While Novalis kept the notebooks containing the Fichte Studies to himself (though he often drew on his reading in his letters to Schlegel), he in turn sought Schlegel’s support in giving his critique of Fichte a distinct political spin. The central text in this effort was Faith and Love (Glauben und Liebe), written in early 1798 and


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published in July of the same year. In this text Novalis provided a sketch of a poetic state organized around and by a (royal) couple; but this political philosophy of the couple thus emerges from what Schlegel described as “the dualism of our symphilosophy.”26 Schlegel’s description is owed to Schlegel’s playful love of paradox, but it provides a key to Faith and Love as well: Novalis’s text attempts in earnest to think both dualism and unification in a polis organized by the figure of the couple. Faith and Love stands in an ambiguous relationship to Fichte. Novalis knew Fichte’s Foundations of Natural Right well by the time he wrote Faith and Love. During a momentous meeting in Niethammer’s house in May 1795, which had brought together Novalis, Hölderlin, and Fichte, the discussion seems to have been limited to religion and revelation;27 but, much as in Hölderlin’s thought (see chapter 2), misgivings about the disclosure and apperception of Fichte’s Absolute soon led into concerns of ethics and politics. During the course of reading that would produce the Fichte Studies, Novalis immersed himself in Fichte’s Founda­ tions. He remarked on the printing of the book’s first half in a somewhat cryptic note in April of 1796.28 He had either read or reread the book in its entirety in late May of 1797, while in Tennstedt and Grüningen.29 By this time, Novalis had recognized Fichte’s “danger,”30 and his treatment of the Foundations is from the very beginning characterized by marked ambivalence. Faith and Love’s text’s central thesis, that the state cannot be legitimated from subjective ends and interests (in the fashion of natural law theories), seems to run counter to Fichte’s deduction of intersubjectivity in the Foundations of Natural Right and in fact constitutes a reversal of Novalis’s own position as stated in the Fichte Studies.31 It attempts to describe a polity based not on the constraint of the selfish individual (as theories in the Naturrecht tradition would) but rather on the outward ripples of spontaneous (that is to say, love-motivated) self-limitation. On the other hand, the text clearly assimilates, echoes, and in some cases even anticipates a number of Fichtean philosophemes: the organic state and a critique of social atomism and of eudaimonism. While Faith and Love rejects and accepts Fichte’s Foundations in equal measure (though Fichte is never identified by name), Novalis reserves his clearest rebuke for Fichte’s treatment of love. In Fichte’s marital metaphysics, love played a central but comparatively minor role, mediating the problematics of intersubjectivity and the dignity of the subject on the one hand and the fact of sexual difference on the other. For Novalis, this becomes only one function among several. If one of the defining char-

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acteristics of Romantic theories of marriage is that they barely deign to distinguish between the marital and the love relation,32 this indistinction changes the semiotic structure of marriage. For Fichte, love and marriage allowed the partners to reconceive the meaning of the act of physical reproduction, thereby maintaining the dignity of self-positing individuals. But if Fichte can declare love and marriage coterminous, they are coterminous only for the lovers; and it is only their vantage point that Fichte considers, giving the state, the wider family, and civil society nothing to do beyond passively recognizing and ratifying a union into whose constitutions they cannot have any insight. Faith and Love is subtitled “or, The King and the Queen,” and the love (and marriage) that obtain between these two are significant for the state as a whole, rather than primarily for the love/marital partners themselves. Their union thus has meaning beyond itself; its very autonomy, its selfsustaining structure means that it provides reference to others outside that structure. And it means to outsiders in rather complex ways. Novalis’s subtitle also turns to king and queen as alchemical symbols denoting the male and female principle respectively, in the tradition of the famous seventeenth-century text Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz (1616),33 which Novalis seems to have known well.34 For the outside world, the royal couple thus functions as both a paradigm and a symbol: others can intuitively grasp and perhaps emulate its coupledom, but that coupledom has other aspects that require complex deciphering and may never be fully accessible to outsiders. At the same time, the piece’s subtitle refers to a very real and very wellknown royal couple: Friedrich Wilhelm III acceded to the Prussian throne on November 16, 1797, an event that was greeted with great expectations among the Prussian populace and intelligentsia. But it was in particular his beautiful wife Luise who inflamed passions all around.35 At least part of the fascination the young royal couple held for their time was due to the fact that theirs was a love marriage rather than a dynastic one—here, then, the very presence of something utterly intimate and ultimately unknowable (the fact that the two most likely were actually in love) sent shockwaves through the wider polity. Novalis picked up on their mystique in his essay, which Schlegel helped him place at the newly founded Year­ books of the Prussian Monarchy (Jahrbücher der Preußischen Monarchie). Novalis intended his collection of fragments as a sort of intervention at a point in time when the old Prussian monarchy, which Novalis criticized as a “machine-like administration,”36 seemed capable of renewal and


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reinvention —the text’s program was to reform this “mechanical state” via a “chemical marriage.” However, the reception seems to have been puzzled rather than inspired; the collection Political Aphorisms (Politische Aphorismen), which Novalis had intended as the follow-up to Faith and Love, never appeared in the journal—it seems on the king’s own orders. When compared with Fichte’s deduction of marriage, Novalis’s transcendentalization of the king’s marriage is much more complex in its use of the concept of love. In fact, the concept appears in Faith and Love in three different guises, although all of them are subtended by a single structure. Novalis first introduces the concept of love as a way of reading the world in terms of correspondences or similarities, that is to say, as a category of perception rather than of feeling: “When one loves, one finds and sees similarities everywhere.”37 Love constitutes a world of correspondences; it allows the individual to become a trope of the universal, the universal a trope for the individual. The “seeing” and the “finding” of such correspondences call to mind the I / Thou distinction discussed above. The I is both to look for itself in an object (as though it were there—a “free assumption,”38 a projection of subjectivity) and to find itself there (insofar as it is actually there—a recognition of an objectivity). Such seeing and finding also alternate between activity and passivity, the active projection of something into the object and the passive reception of what that object is actually like. In the case of a lover, we can see how this allows for a duality within the identity that for Novalis characterizes love: Seeing the object as though there are correspondences preserves the alterity of the other that the simple finding of actual correspondences threatens to eliminate. However, it is crucial to note that Novalis is not really speaking of a love between lovers (as Fichte does): “everywhere” seems to indicate that, as in the I / Thou distinction, we are dealing with something like Schelling’s concept of nature. Such, it appears, is the cognitive status of Novalis’s selfprofessed “language of tropes and riddles”: it is a discourse of love, or rather it takes love to read for correspondences. In a letter to Friedrich Schlegel (from May 5, 1798), Novalis remarks of Faith and Love that “one cannot read it without faith and love.”39 This, as we shall see, is the heart of Novalis’s marital semiotics: love, marriage, and family are ways of coding and decoding that provide richer access to the outside world than the mechanistic determinations of propositional judgment. Love makes it possible to read and /or constitute the couple König / Königin as a model for the universal—the very correspondence between the royal marriage and the larger polity has as its condition of possibility

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nothing other than love. The royal marriage and national politics can be so understood only because they are themselves internally constituted in and through love—what we learn through love is again nothing other than love. What is more, the sense we gain through this learning process, insofar as it corresponds to a totality (all of existence rather than those aspects accessible to the understanding, the whole human being rather than just the intellect), is itself called love.40 The triple function Faith and Love assigns to love has its antecedents in certain Protestant, in particular Pietist, theologies of the eighteenth century, but Novalis deploys it as a critique of Fichte. Novalis seems to have remained indebted to the intellectual tradition of Pietism throughout his life, something both Friedrich Schlegel and F. W. J. Schelling repeatedly criticized him for.41 The “Moravian” Brüdergemeine (also known as “Herrnhuter”) founded by Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700–1760), for instance, in which Schleiermacher was brought up and whose orbit also included Novalis’s father, tended to regard the love between marital partners as a direct instantiation of Christ’s “marriage” with his church—to the point that Zinzendorf regarded the “unification” entailed in (marital) sex as a “holy thing and a sacramental act.”42 In a letter to Friedrich Schlegel from July 1796 (the same letter in which Novalis famously declares that his “favorite field of study” shares a name with his bride, Sophie) Novalis holds up Zinzendorf and Spinoza as possible correctives to Fichte’s one-sided account of love: Spinoza and Zinzendorf have investigated it, the infinite idea of love, and they had an intuition of its method, of how they could develop it for themselves, and themselves for it, on this speck of dust. It is a pity that I see nothing of this view in Fichte. . . . But he is close to it. He must step into [love’s] magic circle.43

Novalis’s wish to see the “infinite love” of Zinzendorf in Fichte’s oeuvre thus implies a rather pointed criticism: Fichte has only a partial view of love (analogous to the partiality of the Scheinsatz); a complete, “infinite” view of love, combining his Idealism with Spinoza’s naturalism, would require a “magicalization” analogous to the one described in the Allgemeine Brouillon. Fichte’s marital partners are isolated and isolating like the form of the judgment; and like the form of the judgment, loveless marriage misses the all-enveloping essence that makes the particulars and their union possible in the first place. The philosopher who sits in judgment on feelings that may or may not be conscious for the subjects who feel them


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necessarily has to miss the point of the analysis, just like what Novalis calls mere “reflection”—Fichte’s is a text about love, but not of love. If Fichte were to “step into love’s magic circle,” this limited dualism would be expanded both in the direction of the absolute unity that subtends it and in the kind of sense or intuition one would have to employ to understand the said unity. The “magicalization” or “moralization” Novalis called for in the fragment from the Allgemeine Brouillon we considered above involves in particular the first sense of “love” as outlined in Faith and Love. And it is this ability to read for analogy that constitutes the central dynamo of Novalis’ political philosophy. It allows us to read any element x of the totality as a microcosm (for example, the royal couple as a microcosm of the state), and conversely the totality as encapsulating the specific essence of any element x (the state as a macroanthropos):44 “This is how the Whole illuminates the Part and the Part the Whole.”45 When Novalis claims that each person constitutes a “marriage,” that each person is “a small people” or “the most simple form of the state,”46 he is invoking precisely this kind of analogizing cognition—love.47 As Barbara Senckel has pointed out, Novalis does not believe that these analogies are purely figurative. 48 Even though they are poetic effects, they point to the “Absolute” that subtends all existence. What Senckel calls Novalis’s “method” of analogization depends on the presupposition that, “from the perspective of the Absolute,” all opposed elements of the totality “reveal themselves to be identical.”49 Recognizing analogies requires, or is tantamount to recognizing, the identity of the world from the perspective of the Absolute. For Novalis, then, the love that allows the subject to perceive the totality of existence and the love that constitutes that totality are not actually distinguishable. But even the second meaning of “love,” love in its quotidian sense, is reinscribed into the two other meanings, at least when it comes to marriage as the source of analogy. In the Allgemeine Brouillon, Novalis asserts that “the air de famille is called analogy.”50 Thus, not only is marriage an analogon of the state, but the process of analogization itself resembles or is analogous to marriage. Whether Novalis knew Fichte’s text or not, the concept of a love bond in marriage is central to Fichte’s model as well. While love for Novalis is (a) the condition of possibility for the analogy between an intersubjective bond and a social one, (b) the organizing principle of a marriage and a (potential) polis, and (c) that human faculty which intuits the Whole in strictly nonepistemic terms, it is clear that Fichte would call only (b)

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“love.” The fact that Novalis thinks of analogy itself as a love relation, an air de famille, suggests that love, marriage, and family can enter into this self-reinforcing triplicity only when they are tacitly equated with one another. For Fichte, “love” had a rather straightforward function and performed that function only vis-à-vis the subjects actually involved in a sexual relationship. Whether or not this love makes a family, a marriage, or a macroanthropos mattered for him; and marital love was political only insofar as it and the state have a common foundation in intersubjectivity, in “natural law.” By contrast, Novalis’s analogizing love precedes intersubjectivity as a condition of possibility; the loving couple and the organic state are both fashioned from its cloth. Ultimately, all three senses of love are reducible to the same underlying schema. The individual, according to Novalis, has to be in a “marriage” to itself, that is, has to stand in relation to itself; it is this “transcendental marriage”51 that makes it possible for the subject to enter into an analogous relationship with others—“only insofar as the human being is in a happy marriage with himself . . . is he capable of marriage and family.”52 The loving self-relation, once understood through “faith and love,” allows us to see it as the paradigm for the relation to an other (I / Thou), be this in a loving couple or in a love-animated political arrangement. Florian Roder has rightly argued that we can analogize between a relation to the self, a relation to an other, and a relation to the polity only owing to a central legerdemain of Novalis’s theory of consciousness—the ordo inversus, in which the Absolute appears as its opposite. After all, the Allheit to which the first sense of love is directed is nothing other than the poietic projection of our own transcendental self—we love our selves as Absolute, but that Absolute is present only as a posited telos. Owing to the ordo inver­ sus, this love self turns into abandonment of the self for an other— egoism becomes a source of a love relation with the other on an absolute level.53 In insisting that an all-enveloping love is the absolute ground of intersubjective love, and that the affection the individual couple (such as Friedrich Wilhelm and Luise) feel for each another can allow others to become conscious of their connection, Novalis further expands Fichte by giving love a semiotic dimension. Love is concerned as much with the constitution of a phenomenon as with the reading or interpretation of that phenomenon. While making his description of love fuller than Fichte’s, Novalis’s semiotic turn introduces a certain instability into the state that love builds. Since, according to Faith and Love, the same faculty is to constitute the “symbol” and allow for its comprehension, the royal couple at


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the center of the text persists on the threshold between physical reality and representation. This is signaled when Novalis first introduces the figure of the king into his text in §7. He proclaims the invention of a “flowering country” a form of art making and remarks: “the inventor [of such a country] would also be the king of inventors.”54 Oddly, then, the king enters into the discussion of his country only metaphorically, as the king of inventors. The rest of Faith and Love makes clear that this “king of inventors” is in actual fact a king; but Novalis introduces him only as a comparison: the king is like a king. This interesting rhetorical move can hardly count as accidental from a writer so in control of irony (and so explicit in thematizing tropology) as Novalis. What then might it mean that the king, the artistic creator of his country, is introduced only tropologically, as the “king of inventors”? For the answer we need to look once again to Novalis’s reformulation of Fichtean idealism, both at the idea of an ordo inversus and at Novalis’s “magical idealism” as described in the previous section. Novalis seems to be pointing to the likeness of the king to himself, that is to say, he seems to register the absolute difference within the king as idea. The “faith and love” without which one cannot read Faith and Love might thus be that of a polity which is being asked to see itself in the king—it has to “see itself” in the king as though he corresponded to its own constitution, and has to “find” itself in him insofar as he in fact is nothing but its projection, its symbol. At the same time, the proposition that “the king is like a king” is not precisely a statement of analogy, but really one of identity: the king is the king. However, the very form (as Novalis would call it in the Fichte Studies),55 its status as a Scheinsatz, undercuts its content; the king as “idea” is precisely missed by the formula. In either case, it seems clear that the tropological entrance the king makes into his own text points to an increased importance of representation and semiotics vis-à-vis the couples we encountered in earlier Idealist philosophy: this couple means to others, but it means by way of deciphering and analysis. It should be noted that a semiotic relationship was for Novalis quite a bit stronger than for the post-Saussurean present. Heavily indebted to cabalistic and mystic traditions, Novalis’s theory of the sign insisted on a strong (familial) affinity rather than a radical break between signifier and signified. By understanding the royal couple as signifiers, their subjects, their peers, and, yes, their poets gained insight into the very constitution of reality. The triple function of the concept “love” animates Novalis’s central claim in Faith and Love, which finally introduces “the king and the queen”

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of the text’s subtitle: “A true royal couple is for the whole human being what a constitution is for the mere understanding.”56 What then is “a constitution” “for the mere understanding,” and, by analogy, what exactly is it that “a true royal couple” does for “the whole human being”? The difference stems from two of the functions of love we distinguished above: First, love represents the ability to relate to the Whole rather than to just those aspects that are accessible to the understanding, or, in the terms of the fragment from the Allgemeine Brouillon discussed above, the ability to understand the state as capital Z rather than a lowercase system of laws z. Second, however, love constitutes the very internal structure of the state. Novalis’s somewhat later Political Aphorisms similarly claim that “every improvement of incomplete constitutions amounts to making them more capable of love.”57 What, however, is the relationship between the understanding and the constitution? In the thought of the theoreticians of Urtheil und Seyn considered in the previous chapter, the relationship would have been epi‑ stemic, a constitution being comprehensible only to the categorically guided understanding, those aspects of the polis that elude rules and formulas being inaccessible to the understanding.58 Novalis, on the other hand, doesn’t understand “love” as equivalent to “intellectual intuition,” that is, as a faculty of knowledge. Instead, he considers these two as two different ways of intuiting the relationship of individual and universal. In the former case the understanding can grasp itself only as an accidental variable in a system of rules and formulae, whereas in the latter case all human faculties can comprehend their relation to the whole as symbolized by the royal couple. Novalis cannot be thinking of king and queen as a model that the citizenry is to emulate directly;59 rather, the royal couple is the symbol or the appearance of something that is always already visible to the right kind of intuition, namely, the oneness of the state in and through love.60 In the Political Aphorisms, which he planned to publish as a sequel to Faith and Love, Novalis introduces his own version of Hegel’s master and slave, the Sultan and the Slave, who are both complementarily incorrect in grasping the social totality. “What are slaves? Completely weakened, compressed human beings. What are sultans? Slaves who have been incited by violent stimuli. How do sultans and slaves come to end? Violently. One [ends] easily as a slave, the other easily as a sultan.”61 Their insurmountable division is a result of a loveless apprehension of the social totality.62 Any true monarchy instead has to be able to quite actively symbolize an unalienated totality.


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The cold letter of the law provides insufficient insight into this totality, relegating the individual to an accident within the mechanistic machine state (exemplified in the “Constitution”). The “idea” of the sovereign “moralizes” the physical, “lawlike” state in much the same way as the Brouillon seeks to “moralize” physics. Novalis notes in the Brouillon that a “constitution is the formula for the construction of a nation, of a state.”63 As we noted above, for Novalis to moralize means to reframe with reference to a totality, to detach from the mindless operation of rules and causal laws. In a move somewhat similar to that which Hegel will make more than twenty years later,64 Novalis next argues that the subjective principle, as embodied or “symbolized” by a ruler, is necessary for the internal articulation of a society. The “mystical sovereign” is an idea that we can encounter only in symbolized form in the guise of “a human being deserving love” (liebenswürdiger trefflicher). But this argument justifies only some kind of (hereditary) monarch; the need for a royal couple arises from an opposition of the “letter” of the constitution and “family life.” Our present time, Novalis argues, is not only the age of the letter (of the mechanical rather than the organic state), but also an age “without a sense for the life of the family.” The royal family provides a model of a polis built around intersubjective structures rather than isolated particulars related by formal laws. The “couple” that is to furnish a politics for “the whole human being” thus constitutes, somewhat analogously to Hegel’s discussion of marriage in the Rechtsphilosophie, the first internally articulated manifestation of love.65 Faith and Love, in combination with the somewhat later Political Apho­ risms, provides an answer to the question that bedeviled Fichte’s metaphysics of marriage. Fichte had considerable difficulty locating love firmly in terms of consciousness/unconsciousness, feeling/knowledge, and so on. Novalis in Faith and Love makes love a much more central concept than Fichte; what the Political Aphorisms adds is the same link Fichte aimed to provide in his “Deduction,” namely, the link between the theory of consciousness and love. While Novalis’s critique of discursive understanding (the Urtheil) proceeds from much the same bases as Fichte’s, his explication of love in the Political Aphorisms seems to draw its terms from physiology, in particular the Scottish physician John Brown (1735–88). From Brunonian physiology, Novalis extracts the notion that the stability of any organism depends on a balance of spontaneity and receptivity, of internal “stimulation” (Reize) (or projection of the individual) and external stimulation (or penetration into the individual).66 But Novalis’s “magic

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Idealism” does not just turn this into an anthropological point; he seems to apply it to the macroanthropos of the state as well. For Novalis, unlike for English readers, the “constitution” (Constitution) of a country would not have immediately brought to mind the subject’s “constitution” of an object; it seems, however, that he would have associated the word with our bodily “constitution.” Here, then, macroanthropos and anthropos overlap: both are organisms, both have constitutions—and both require a balancing of stimuli. Accordingly, the Political Aphorisms centers on the claim that in a state with an underdeveloped “constitution,” subjects get either too few stimuli or too many— one group turns into “slaves,” the other into “sultans.” 67 If the state as a whole is subject to “a maximum of stimuli,”68 the “most healthy” individual “constitution” is that of the king; if the state as a whole suffers from understimulation, the healthiest way for the individual “constitution” to achieve balance is to withdraw from the commonweal and become a cynic. As we improve the “constitution” of the macroanthro­ pos, the positions of king and cynic should get closer and closer, although the “perfect constitution” remains an “ideal.” This perfect constitution is no longer accessible to the kind of incremental adjustment of the polarities of king and cynic—as we adjust their stimuli, those stimuli are always “magnitudes.” There is, however, one such stimulus that is not a matter of measurable, incremental magnitude: “All stimuli are relative— are magnitudes — except One, which is absolute — and exceeds magnitude,”69 namely, love. The “perfection” of a constitution can be attained only through the absolute magnitude, and it is for this reason that Novalis claims that improving a constitution means making it “more capable of love.”70

The Royal Couple and Its Product When Novalis demands that constitutions be made “more capable of love,” that the state be infused with a “sense of family,” the word “family” turns out to be something of a misnomer. Novalis wants the state to be more like a couple (in this specific case the royal couple), and he is by and large silent about any of the other relationships that constitute our everyday understanding of what a family is. Novalis does not simply give these elements comparatively short shrift; he ignores them altogether, and does so with a specific purpose. The most striking omission in Novalis’s


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model is the fact that the sovereign couple is childless in a double sense. For one, the love that needs to be communicated to the citizenry at large is that between king and queen, not that between the royal couple and their offspring. In Hegel’s discussion in his Philosophy of Right, the family “completes”71 itself in three ways: marriage (its “concept”), children (its “externalization”), and civil society (its dissolution). For Novalis, only marriage seems to constitute a philosophically significant “sense of family”; the “externalization” into the child produces no love bond that is worth communicating, or even writing about. The royal offspring enters into Faith and Love highly cryptically—the child is introduced only as a future king, not as a product of a sitting royal couple. Novalis argues that “a born king is better than a made one,” since the rise to kingship would go to even the best person’s head. And Novalis adds: “And is not in the end birth the most primitive choice? Those who would doubt the freedom of this choice, the unanimity of this election, must not have had a very good sense of themselves.”72 Of course, this “primitive choice,” the “unanimity of this election” do not refer to the child and future king—they are the royal couple’s choice and unanimous election. Just as the king enters into his own text as a metaphor, so his child appears only as the passive signifier for a love that precedes it but of which it has no part. In the Brouillon, Novalis follows his reflections on the “moralization” of nature with two further notes (nos. 81and 83), both entitled “physics” but centrally concerned with the metaphysical status of the “whole couple” and of “marriage,” respectively. The latter note remarks: “A marriage should really be a slow, continual embrace, generation . . . formation of a common, harmonic being.”73 This marital “self-formation” (Selbstbildung), “autogenesis” (Selbsgen­ eration) of the couple appears to be identical with its procreation. Fragment 81 notes that “every embrace [Umarmung]” should be “at once the embrace of the whole couple—as one nature, with one art (one spirit),”74 and the child should be “the unified product of [this] double embrace.”75 The “unity” of the “choice” of which Faith and Love speaks seems to be nothing other than what the slightly later Teplitzer Fragmente and the Brouillon know as “embrace.”76 The child matters only as the outward appearance of the couple’s coming together as one, its “autogenesis,” their “formation of a common, harmonious being.” But the “common, harmonious being” that matters, that needs to be communicated, that can “moralize” the state is the unified couple, not the child. Why is Novalis so explicit that it is their carnal “embrace” rather than their more metaphoric “oneness” that is to model for the love structure

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of the macroanthropos? Novalis is once again drawing on a legacy of eighteenth-century Pietism. According to Zinzendorf and the Herrnhuter sect, the way to “unify” divine love and terrestrial community is emphat­ ically physical sex rather than, say, loving contemplation — just as in Novalis’s celebration of king and queen. At the same time, however, this “sacramental” unification through sex is divested of fleshliness.77 The love that unites Novalis’s royal couple is similarly pitched between the platonic and the fleshly. It is the spiritual process of coming together as mediated by the flesh that makes the royal couple a paragon worth watching. The product, the royal child, is nothing but an ex post facto indicator that such a coming together has taken place. Analogously, it is not the physical child (i.e., the “product” of the unifying “embrace”), but rather the couple in its difference-in-unity that serves as “idea” and “symbol” for the education of the citizen. The “formation of a common” (Bildung eines Gemeinsamen) cannot come to rest in the figure of the sovereign—the Bildung of the royal marriage comes to fru­ ition in the “unity” (Einmüthigkeit) of the wills that is the child, but the Bildung to be derived from this “commonality” thinks the “common” as intersubjective, not embodied in a single being. Unlike Hegel, who actively exploited the ambiguities of such terms as Bildung and Gattung,78 Novalis may indeed be at the mercy of his language: he wants to think the “common” as the complete congruence of the two individuals, and yet he cannot (or better: he cannot want to) allow that “common” to ossify into a single common thing. The very image Novalis uses to suggest a utopian politics is in constant danger of a relapse into the language of absolutism, in the guise of the single sovereign as a result of the unification of the royal couple’s wills. Furthermore, “generation” and parenthood in general are emphatically biologized both in Faith and Love and the Brouillon, because Novalis cannot allow the symbolic first couple to have anything but biological offspring. The relation between the king and queen on the one hand and their subjects on the other is structured not by a paternalistic metaphor but rather by an explicitly symbolic relation. To construct this symbolic or analogic relation is precisely the job of the poet through his analogizing “language of tropes and riddles.” But it also seems to be the job of the poet to keep the royal marriage in the figurative realm, to safeguard that the trope remains contained and does not enslave the people as its symbolic children. After all, Novalis’s king is a father, but the citizens are not his children. Only at one point in the text does Novalis compare the king to a “father” who ought not to show preferences for one child over the


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other79 —but the “children” in this case are different activities of the king’s subjects, not the subjects themselves.80 In avoiding the paternal metaphor, Novalis’s rather eclectic text actually finds itself in close dialogue with traditional political philosophy: the turn to interpersonal love, and the egalitarian love of the (royal) couple in particular, constitutes a rather pointed rebuke to a number of traditional political theories of the relationship of state and family. While Novalis’s political account of love is unprecedented in the history of political philosophy, the ultimate upshot of love’s insight, the fact that it allows us to see that the state is, or can be, organized like a family, is not new in the least. The idea that the state resembles a family, or that the well-appointed state ought to, is as old as political philosophy itself. Usually, however, the family that was likened to or distinguished from the state was some permutation of the Aristotelian oikos, that is to say, an extended, vertically organized household with a pater familias at the top. In De la république (1576), Jean Bodin introduced the concept of sovereignty as a familial organization raised to the second power: the “republic” for him represented an organization of “several families” in the mode of a family—a family of families. Sir Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha (1680), a defense of the divine right of kings, posited that the “natural power” of the king derived from the fact that the state was nothing but an enlarged family, and the paternal authority in the family naturally transitioned to the more general father, namely, the king. For Filmer, every human being, insofar as he or she is someone else’s son or daughter, persists always already in a subservient and asymmetrical fealty to another. “Not only Adam, but the succeeding patriarchs had, by right of fatherhood, royal authority over their children,” this natural and ineluctable “subjection of children being the fountain of all regal authority.”81 Thomas Hobbes similarly understood familial “generation” as one of the two ways in which “dominion” may be acquired: children owe loyalty to their parents, since “every man is to promise obedience to him in whose power it is to save or destroy him.” Hobbes went so far in his analogy between sovereign and head of family as to explain that children are under the dominion of either mother or father, but not both, “for no man can obey two masters,” explicitly linking this surprisingly modern gender picture to kings, queens, and royal consorts.82 Rousseau, on the other hand, was at pains to show that a qualitative leap occurs in the historic transition from the family to a larger commonwealth: After all, he argued, children escape their father’s sovereignty the moment they can fend for themselves,

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and the father does likewise with respect to his responsibilities. And he was furious in his indictment of the “error” or “sophism” of likening “civil government . . . to domestic government.”83 For all their differences, both Rousseau and Hobbes see the parents’ reproduction in their children as analogous to the way in which the sovereign relates to his subjects. Novalis’s Faith and Love, by contrast, paints a deliberately murky picture of how exactly royal couples and royal sovereignty reproduce themselves. The reasons why Novalis decides to sidestep the link between royal and paternal sovereignty, and why he works so hard to keep his royal couple childless, lie in Faith and Love’s more recent past. For Filmer’s suggestion that every person is always already in relations of subservience insofar as he or she is someone’s child, and that this subservience ultimately licenses royal sovereignty, was picked up throughout Europe in the wake of the French Revolution. For the paladins of European antirevolutionary thought, Joseph de Maistre and Louis de Bonald in France, as well as Karl Ludwig von Haller in Switzerland and Johann August Freiherr von Starck in Germany, the most deleterious aspect of the philosophy of the family of the Enlightenment (and of Rousseau in particular) was that it “considered fathers and mothers . . . as males and females.”84 For them, this unduly biologized what was in actual fact a spiritual relation (opposed to mere biology), but more importantly neglected the inherent relationality of human life—in speaking of “males” and “females,” Enlightenment thought severed those very bonds that make a family a family. For Maistre as for Bonald, however, those bonds not only preexist the atomized individual but also insert the individual into hierarchies, the father lording over his children, the father over the mother, and so on. By severing these bonds, or flattening them out, the cold, abstracting materialism of the Enlightenment directly paved the way for the French Revolution.85 This is because family (“domestic society,” as Bonald puts it) and the state (“public society”) are exact analogues, and the family’s relations directly mirror those of the state. Father, mother, child, once stripped of their entanglements with human creatureliness, turn into “power, minister, subject.”86 The family, when divested of animality, looks a lot like a state; and the state is, after all, nothing but “a human power, ministers, and subjects who are not fathers, mothers, or children in terms of physical relationship, but who . . . present an end similar to that of the family.”87 Bonald and Maistre, to say nothing of Haller and Starck, would have been unknown to Novalis, but given the storied history of the analogy they drew on, it is almost certain that Novalis was aware that thought that


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analogized family and state usually based this analogy on the assumption that patriarchal power was like state power. Thus, theories like Bonald’s identify a central feature in analogistic thinking about family and state, one that haunted Romantic thought about the family as a constant danger at least during its first decade (it can at least be argued that the Romantics grew more comfortable with the idea, as they grew older and more conservative). Setting up a straightforward analogy, as Bonald does, between “domestic society” and “public society” meant casting the domestic unit’s children in direct correspondence to the subjects of a sovereign. The need to sidestep this conclusion was particularly pressing, since the first part of the French reactionaries’ argument, that there is something reductive and reifying in the Enlightenment’s treatment of family (and by extension social) cohesion, is one that the Romantics, even at their most Jacobin, would have wholeheartedly endorsed. In considering Fichte’s theory of love and marriage, we pointed to the asymmetry of his sexual metaphysics as precisely seeking to forestall a picture of sexuality that breaks down into atomized units that precede their relation to one another. In elaborating a theory of the family that “moralized” this atomism with reference to a totality, Novalis sought ways of using the family to critique not just familial but also more widely social atomism by analogizing family and society without subscribing to the corresponding analogy of child and royal subject. Novalis’s Faith and Love aims to follow the first part of Bonald’s critique without slipping into the second part, to critique the social effects of Enlightenment without sacrificing the French Revolution. Filmer had claimed that the attempts to wrest sovereignty from the familial (that is to say, hierarchized) structure and assign it to individuals who could in turn choose who ought to govern them, rested on the notion that all human beings are equal and free and enter into the state with some degree of volition, something that Maistre and Bonald repeated at the turn of the nineteenth century. Novalis was interested in liberating the individual without atomizing him. In spite of his insistent reintroduction of the oikonomic into the polis, then, Novalis is not reversing the Kantian formula from “On the Common Saying ‘This May Be True in Theory but It Does Not Apply in Practice’ ” (1793): “imperium non paternale, sed patrioticum.”88 The analogy between “patriotism” and “gamism” invoked in the Brouillon thus also has the function of warding off a straightforward identification of patriotism and gamism—the two are said to be analogous, so that they do not have to be construed as parts of the same analogy.

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It was to this end that Novalis took the semiotic turn in his marital philosophy: Novalis wanted to draw on an analogy between family and state, macroanthropos and anthropos, but he was leery of letting such analogies ground relationships of dominance characteristic of the absolutist state. Novalis seems all too aware that the language of the family is usually introduced into theories of the state to justify a paternalistic regime. He seeks to forestall this possibility by introducing semiotic relationships that disperse any straightforward analogy between the power of the pater familias and that of the absolute monarch. While Faith and Love is not entirely successful in averting this possibility, it is clear that Novalis’s reflections on loving couples and their kingdoms in his fairy tales work through an increasingly dizzying calculus aimed at upsetting traditional structures of dominance, opting for imbrication rather than hierarchization. Just as love represents a chaotic indistinction of the lovers, the state that love builds is based on semiotic relationships irreducible to simple unilateral assertions of power.

The I/Thou and the Fairy Tale In the Allgemeine Brouillon, Novalis notes that “all novels in which true love appears are fairy tales [Mährchen]— magic events.”89 And indeed, the various Mährchen that punctuate Novalis’s novels—Heinrich von Of­ terdingen and the earlier fragment Die Lehrlinge zu Sais—almost invariably deal with “true love,” that is to say, a love relationship with a clear metaphysical/allegorical dimension. Male and female, marriage and royal couple make appearances in almost every single one of these stories. However, given the ambivalence of Novalis’s position in Faith and Love, and given the fact that the management of this ambivalence falls primarily to the poet, it cannot surprise that poetry, true love, and rulership enter into a number of constellations in the fairy tales. In the context of these fairy tales, Novalis grapples with the political implications of his metaphysical and semiotic considerations of marriage, and it appears as though these reconsiderations were still very much in progress at the time of the poet’s untimely death. In all of the fairy tales we will be discussing, it is the product that emerges as the central problematic of rulership and poetry: the issue of parenthood and rulership, the problem of symbolic parenthood (and in particular motherhood), and the question of what happens when the


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macroanthropos becomes simply an anthropos, in other words, when the love relationship that is to be the microcosm of the state “becomes” (following the Brouillon) a single human being, are all addressed in this fictional form, even as that form itself is subject to (self-)interrogation. The tales, in other words, do not depict or otherwise reproduce these problems; rather they understand these problems to be inherent in the poetic form itself. The problems are not external to the fairy tale, are not their “topic”—they are problems of the fairy tale, of poetry. We have seen that Novalis offers an indirect reconfiguration of the concept of love elaborated in Fichte’s practical philosophy. Since the theory of love and marriage offered in Fichte’s Grundlagen des Naturrechts is in danger of folding sexual difference into I and Not-I, we should not be surprised that the locus classicus of the I-Thou distinction in Novalis deals explicitly with sexual difference: The first fairy tale to take up the question of love is “Hyazinth und Rosenblüthe,” a story-within-the-story presented in the second chapter of the novel fragment The Novices of Sais (Die Lehrlinge zu Sais, written 1798–99), in which the two lovers clearly correspond to I (Hyazinth, the boy) and Not-I (Rosenblüthe, the girl). As we will see, this kind of gendering raises two related problems. Since the I and Thou Novalis postulates are identical and reducible to an anterior essence when looked at from the right angle, but since it is at the same time only their division that makes love possible (and makes the couple a politically viable sign), the identity-in-difference threatens to become simply an identity tout court in two ways: Either the couple can truly “dissolve” in the “embrace,” thus abnegating the very dichotomy that has sustained the love relationship in favor of the identity that was to simply subtend the relation. Or the couple procreates, completes itself in the “Bildung of a common,” thereby also draining from love the very relationality that made it metaphysically and semiotically potent in the first place. Almost all commentators on “Hyazinth und Rosenblüthe” agree on two points: (1) the fairy tale presents an elaborate allegory of the relationship of human subjectivity (Hyazinth) and nature (Rosenblüthe); (2) in terms of Novalis’s intellectual development, the tale represents a (some commentators claim the first) decisive break with Fichte. That repudiation hinges on, among other things, the fairy tale’s final scene, in which Hyazinth, who has set out to discover “the mother of all things,” finds the goddess Isis, lifts her veil, and discovers Rosenblüthe, the childhood sweetheart he left behind. Significantly, however, this appears not to have been the fairy tale’s ending all along. In an earlier note from May 1798, Novalis

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writes: “One succeeded—he lifted the veil of the goddess at Sais—But what did he see? He saw—wonder of wonders—himself.”90 The transition from finding “oneself” behind the veil of Isis and finding one’s beloved is thus precisely the transition from Fichtean Idealism, in which the outside world is constituted by the subject, with the veil something of an Anstoss, to an emphasis on the constitutive importance of an irreducible “Thou.” Insofar as “Hyazinth und Rosenblüthe” is a tale of “true love,” I and Thou are thus explicitly gendered from the outset. The marital dyad is necessary in order for there to be an Other for Hyazinth to discover behind the veil at all. In another paralipomenon to Lehrlinge dating somewhat later (July/ August 1798) that transition has already been made. A youth pines for “the mysterious bedchamber” of Isis, leaving behind his “fatherland,” “his loved ones,” and “his bride.” “Thou” and family enter the narrative schema together. In contrast to the earlier fragment, the youth who is to become Hyazinth in Lehrlinge now has a family—although that family, and in particular his bride, are precisely what he needs to renounce in order to be able to follow the stirrings of his Sehnsucht. Rosenblüthe becomes a cipher for nature only in her immobility. Unlike the “one” of the first fragment, this youth is forced to forgo love in order to follow his desire—and he is also the first to discover not “himself” but “his bride” behind the veil of Isis. Rosenblüthe remains stationary—the temple of Isis is revealed to be identical with Hyazinth’s bedroom at home—in order for Hyazinth to be able to embody subjective mobility. Moreover while in the final version of the tale Rosenblüthe simply “sank into his [Hyazinth’s] arms,”91 the earlier version is much more explicit about the terms of their union: Hyazinth finds himself “in his own bedroom,” where his bride waits for him, and a liebliche Nachtmusik plays along to what the text describes (in quotation marks) as “ ‘ the silent embrace’ ‘tenderly dissolving embrace’ ‘riddle-solving kiss’ to the sweet solution of the secret.”92 By contrast, the fleshed-out fairy tale in the Lehrlinge relegates family and Umarmung to an “ever after”: “Afterward, Hyazinth lived long with Rosenblüthchen and his happy parents and friends, and countless grandchildren thanked the strange woman for her advice and her fire; for in those days, people had as many children as they wanted.”93 While the earlier fragment conceives of the unification in terms of Umar­ mung, in terms of a cosmic coitus that dissolves (sanftauflösend) prior partition and resolves (rätsellösend) the problems posed by that partition, the fairy tale as Novalis actually wrote it conceives unification in terms of


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a product, a fantastic proliferation of the familial dyad. The central ambivalence within the notion of the Gemeinsame we discussed in the case of Faith and Love, the totality of king and queen, thus surfaces once again. Taken together, then, the two paralipomena and the final version of the fairy tale included in Lehrlinge adumbrate not so much an answer to the problem discussed in the previous sections as rather an outline of that problem itself. One half of this problem is concerned with the figurative powers of marriage: what is it expressing and what can it be called upon to express? The other half is concerned with the nature of the unification actually effected by marriage, in particular with respect to the vexed question of the essential nature of that unification’s product. While Novalis’s remark maintains that fairy tales concern “true love” and “magic events,” the very supersession of particularity entailed in “love” and “magic” is rendered exceedingly problematic by both endings to “Hyazinth und Rosenblüthe”: The fairy tale cannot end unless it is the story either of an identification (Hyazinth’s I = I) or precisely of the stark dichotomy that love and magic are meant to overcome to begin with. It is thus not surprising that the fairy tale that chronologically follows “Hyazinth und Rosenblüthe,” the famous Atlantis tale related in the third chapter of Heinrich von Ofterdingen, opens with precisely this problem.

The Atlantis Tale and the Metaphysics of Sex In 1799, Novalis abandoned his drafts for The Novices of Sais in favor of another, more ambitious, novel project, which (like Novices) would remain unfinished at the time of Novalis’s death in 1801. Heinrich von Ofter­ dingen, published by Friedrich Schlegel in 1802, is often regarded as the quintessentially romantic novel. As such, the novel’s plot, the education of a young poet, is interspersed with a number of autonomous episodes, poems, and fairy tales. We have argued thus far that these fairy tales in particular afford the poet an opportunity to work through the problems of person, family, and state posed by Faith and Love—and that this working through is largely coterminous with a making semiotic. In short, the two fairy tales from Heinrich von Ofterdingen we will discuss here overlay relations of analogy and dominance with a matrix of representation and symbolism that renders any straightforward analogy between state and family exceedingly difficult. The so-called Atlantis tale is told to the young protagonist by a group of traveling merchants on the

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way to Augsburg; the second one, Klingsohr’s fairy tale, composes the bulk of the novel’s closing section. The tale can be summarized as follows, though such summary elides much that is of import for a proper understanding of the tale: A king searches for a husband for his daughter, but no man in the kingdom deems himself worthy; only by accident does the princess fall in with a young poet living alone in the forest whose isolation has shielded him from her fame. Together they return to court and are crowned king and queen. The opening of the Atlantis fairy tale recapitulates a complex that Sylviane Agacinski, in a recent book, has characterized as the “metaphysics of the sexes.”94 This problem might be formulated as follows: Metaphysics has always dealt with that which is opposed to mere physical particulars ( physis), namely, with pure thought (idea or logos). Since the Platonic dialogues’ repeated attempts at grounding sexual difference through a number of legends (the Aristophanes story in the Symposium, the legend of the fallen men in the Timaeus),95 the main difficulty has been how to ground something that is merely a feature of the physical world (biological sex) in a world emphatically opposed to the physical. The Platonic dialogues attempt to resolve this problem through a number of gambits (introducing differently gendered bodies and souls, associating femininity with the body and masculinity with the soul, recurring to the figure of the androgyne), but the problem only grows in urgency if heterosexual love is made the paradigm for a particular kind of sociality. How can we get to a gendered binary that is to constitute the central node of social organization from a principle that is one and indivisible without leaving the realm of metaphysics for anthropology or the philosophy of nature? The Atlantis tale (its setting already announces its Platonic investments) investigates the problem of “Hyazinth und Rosenblüthe” from the reverse direction: the question is no longer how two individuals become one and still remain in love; the question is now how an absolute oneness can split in two, thereby enabling a love relationship. The kingdom of Atlantis begins the story as a “terrestrial paradise” in a state of complete self-sufficiency. The golden age has arrived, the unification that concluded the more rapturous version of “Hyazinth und Rosenblüthe” is already in effect. Nevertheless, a mysterious fate forces the poetic state to “rewind” the sequence of the earlier fairy tale. For the “single worry” of its inhabi­ tants is the “betrothal” (Vermählung) of the princess, who alone can ensure the continuation of the “blessed times.”96 What threatens this crucial betrothal is the fact that no subject deems


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himself worthy of her hand, while faraway princes who show interest are deemed “below her station.” “She appeared to them as though a supernatural being.”97 Just like the king of Faith and Love, the princess enters her own kingdom as a trope, a symbol—but her tropic status undercuts her ability to be in a royal couple. The heiress’s “exaltation” or “sublimity,” her “high and unique value,”98 we might even say her “absolute” value, presents a problem precisely because she needs to be part of a royal couple. The Absolute, by definition nonrelative or nonrelational, must enter into a relationship, something that, again by Novalis’s definition, can obtain only between two entities, neither of which can be absolute, but which can be grounded only by the Absolute. Nevertheless, the continuation of the golden age of Atlantis depends on the princess’s entering into this kind of relation. The king of Atlantis is terrified of the idea that his daughter may be forced to enter into a “match” (Verbindung) with “a man of lower standing and of opaque provenance.”99 Yet the king is himself of “opaque provenance”: the line he is desperate to preserve is in fact that of his dead wife who descended from a storied hero named Rustan; he himself is the spawn of “an ancient oriental royal line.” It is the Rustan heritage, not his own ancient family tree, that animates the king’s fears for his daughter—as in Faith and Love, the absoluteness that vouches for the legitimacy of royal rule exceeds the individual (king). The king knows this from his advisors, the poets, who have heightened his sense of his daughter’s exalted status by feeding him stories of Rustan’s line: His poets had sung to him ceaselessly of his relation to the superhuman former rulers of the world, and in the magic mirror of their art, the gulf separating his provenance from the origins of common people, the excellence of his tribe, had seemed to him even greater, to the point that he thought that only the more elevated class of the poets still managed to connect him to the rest of humanity.100

The king is looking “for a second Rustan” who, he believes, would be the only appropriate partner for his child. The problem of the unmatchable princess clearly models for a metaphysical one: the “supernatural being” has no equal, yet must find one as her mate. In some sense, then, Atlantis reverses the problem encountered in the variant endings to “Hyazinth und Rosenblüthe”: rather than starting from an “I” and following its fusion into something that could be called an Absolute, the tale approaches the metaphysics of love from the opposite side, beginning with a singular

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Absolute and tracing how this Absolute can become (or can be made to figure for) a sexual dyad, a royal couple. The match on which this earthly paradise depends is strictly speaking impossible, since the only truly fitting match would consist of a “second Rustan,” and thus lie in the origin of the royal line. The fact that the “absolute” line, the Rustan line, which needs preserving above all else, and which appears to be a precondition for Atlantis’s golden age, is matrilinear puts the princess in an odd position: unlike Rosenblüthe, she requires an other, an Anstoss, rather than furnishing otherness for a man. Nevertheless, it is anything but accidental that the last descendant of Rustan’s line is a woman rather than a man. The princess rests in herself, is absolute and complete; nevertheless, she requires a mate and cannot end up, like Hyazinth in the earlier versions of “Hyazinth und Rosenblüthe,” discovering herself behind the veil of Isis.101 Novalis’s claim that “the end of man is woman and woman has no end”102 is thus only part of the story: woman as an absolute rests in herself, has no “end,” and is self-sufficient, but since she has to be loved, she has to descend from this absoluteness. The Atlantis tale decisively expands on the political universe of Faith and Love by explicitly thematizing a person who was omnipresent but elusive in the earlier text—the poet himself. In opening their fairy tale, Heinrich’s fellow travelers have promised him elucidation on the subject of the “effects of this miraculous art”103 of poetry. In the Atlantis tale, the poets no longer weave their language of tropes and riddles behind the scenes; they are forced to come on stage. In Faith and Love as in the Atlantis tale, love, as mediated by the “nobler class” of poets, provides a connection between absolute family and common populace. The story is often read as an unqualified rebuke of Plato’s dismissal of poets from his ideal republic, but that reading ignores the fact that the poets play a highly problematic role in the state Novalis describes.104 Novalis indeed offers poetry as a solution to the metaphysical problem outlined of how the Absolute can become relational and communicable—but that problem has in some sense appeared on the scene only through the poets and their fetishization of the Rustan line. Poetry thus solves a problem that it itself helped create.105 That is for one because in Atlantis the communicative dimension of love belongs to a particular “nobler class,” where in Faith and Love the faculty of love opens it up to all citizens. Faith and Love never claims that King Friedrich Wilhelm and Queen Luise require the poet Novalis either to embody a new kind of state or to be recognized as embodying a state organized on love. The fervent veneration of Luise


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(the so-called Luisenkult) of which Novalis’s text partakes is ample testimony to the fact that Novalis couldn’t possibly think that only his “language of tropes and riddles” had an exclusive hold on what made the royal couple so important. Of course, the kind of loving understanding called for in Faith and Love is not easily attained. But in the Atlantis tale, the poets interpret the absolute origins not to the wider populace but to an audience of one—the ruler himself. In fact, the unbridgeable gap between his daughter and the rest of the world that the king comes to believe in is a fiction spun by his poets, and it serves to sever the royals from the populace rather than revealing their intimate connection. At the end of the story, the princess has finally found a love match, a young poet: “The poet ascends the rough steps / up, and becomes the king’s son.”106 Love integrates poetry into Rustan’s line, providing another infusion of blood from a faraway family into Atlantis’s matrilinear royal household. Put in the terms of Faith and Love, the poet becomes part of his own “language of tropes and riddles”; the mediating term is integrated into the love relationship it is meant to mediate. Whether or not this configuration is meant to provide a hint how the triplicity of love laid out in Faith and Love can be communicated, it is clear that the Atlantis tale evades the main question posed by the poet’s role in Faith and Love: How do nonpoets get ushered into faith and love? What exactly does it take and what does it mean to understand the “language of tropes and riddles”? Faith and Love, which turned to the king and queen both as a couple obviously in love and as a set of alchemical symbols, attempted to strike a balance between exoteric and esoteric communication: there were parts of the royal couple’s marriage that meant to everyone, others that meant only to the initiated. While the Atlantis tale seems to rehearse a strikingly similar political arrangement, the tale’s happy ending is highly ambivalent precisely because the solution it proposes strays entirely on the side of esotericism. Heinrich von Ofterdingen’s second fairy tale does not retreat from such esotericism; if anything it escalates it. But Klingsohr’s fairy tale attempts to pass through an absolutely stunning esotericism toward a more intuitively comprehensible picture of a poeticized and “moralized” polis.

Klingsohr’s Fairy Tale: Signification and the Absolute Family It was Friedrich Kittler who first remarked on the fact that Klingsohr’s fairy tale, which concludes the first part of Heinrich von Ofterdingen, had

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been read almost exclusively as an allegorization of Novalis’s philosophy of nature, of history, and, of course, of literature, “presupposing that the literal level, which simply tells of the formation of a family, has no function and needs no special interpretation.”107 Kittler instead read the fairy tale as a psychoanalytic story about the formation of structures élémentaires de la parenté, about the creation and direction of desire, an approach he opposed to those readings which explain the text with reference to “its own romantic theorems.” By these “romantic theorems,” Kittler seems to mean precisely the philosophy of nature, history, and literature invoked above. However, the preceding chapters have attempted to demonstrate that there were specifically “romantic theorems” about the nature of the family. While we like Kittler will read Klingsohr’s fairy tale as a story of family formation, what will distinguish our reading from that of Kittler is the claim that Klingsohr’s story is very much in line with particular philosophemes of Frühromantik. The plot of Klingsohr’s fairy tale is notoriously complex, not to say convoluted—so much so that it is impossible to give a full gloss of its machinations. However, it is possible to understand the fairy tale as an elaborate formula. This formula is fundamentally concerned with family structures: just like “Hyazinth und Rosenblüthe” and the Atlantis story, the fairy tale essentially sets up an elaborate conversion of one familial/erotic arrangement into another. In its roughest outlines, Klingsohr’s fairy tale charts the dissolution of a household, but it opens with one that has already dissolved: At the north pole, King Arctur searches for his wife and daughter, while his other daughter, Freia, lies in enchanted sleep. A warrior loyal to his king shatters a magnetic sword and flings it into the distance; its magnetism is to lead the suitor that could awaken Freia to the north pole. A shard lands in the yard of a decidedly more bourgeois family whose parents are identified only as “the mother” and “the father.” Sophie (later revealed to be Arctur’s missing wife) and Ginnistan (later revealed to be Arctur’s other daughter) live with this family; Ginnistan carries on an affair with “the father” of the family and serves as the caretaker of both little Eros (son of the father and the mother) and Fabel, who appears to be Ginnistan’s own daughter. The misanthropic and malcontent “Scribe” (Schreiber) lives in the house as well and plots a revenge that remains unexplained. This arrangement spirals out of control the moment the father returns home with the shard he has found outside. Eros begins growing up quickly upon contact with the shard and sets off to Arctur’s castle with Ginnistan, who has transformed into “the mother” in order to frustrate the adolescent’s advances. While Eros is on his way, the Scribe finally sets his plot


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in motion, banishes the rest of the family, and eventually immolates the mother on a funeral pyre. After a dizzying succession of episodes, Eros succeeds in thwarting the Scribe, reviving the dormant Freia and retrieving the mother’s ashes. At the story’s end, three couples are festively united: Eros and Freia, Arctur and Sophie, and the father and Ginnistan. As part of the festivities, the revelers imbibe a potion made from the mother’s ashes, and her love and blessing envelop each of their unions. As this brief outline should make clear, it is impossible to trace the fairy tale’s machinations in detail—however, much as in the fairy tales considered above, it is possible to understand what kind of kinship structure goes into and what structure emerges from the fairy tale. Klingsohr’s fairy tale can be understood as a clever contraption that starts with two unstable families and reconfigures them into three stable couples. This means giving short shrift to characters important in terms of plot (the three fates, the Scribe, the sphinx, the hero, but above all Fable) and focusing on those who are involved in an unstable family situation at the outset of the tale and who, through a series of modifications, are able to enter three couples at the end. As we have seen, the Idealist and Romantic metaphysicians of marriage insisted on the autonomy of marriage—marriage was not a social institution, an appendage of the state or civil society; rather, it managed to create intersubjective bonds out of whole cloth, that is to say without reference to theology or utility. The familial mechanics Klingsohr sets into motion in his fairy tale trace precisely that power: the tale charts how shifting familial signifiers can create stability, a “poetic state,” without having to lean on external sources of legitimation. On the other hand, many of the familial signifiers that circulate through the tale’s erotic algebra stand in semiotic relationships to one another—they symbolize, refer to, or represent one another. Here lies the second contribution Klingsohr’s tale makes to marital metaphysics: Novalis has recourse to a doctrine of mutual representation in order to upend any straightforward analogizations of family and state in the mode of Hobbes or Bonald. Because the fairy tale is so complex, in other words, it creates stability without threatening to relapse into an absolutist picture of the state as giant household—a threat still very real in Faith and Love. Klingsohr’s fairy tale, although exceedingly complex when compared with either “Hyazinth und Rosenblüthe” or the Atlantis fairy tale, recapitulates several of the familial arrangements we have traced so far. It opens with a family that is plagued by precisely those problems that beset

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Rustan’s descendants in the Atlantis tale: Arctur’s daughter Freia cannot find an appropriate mate; the family is missing its mother; and lastly Arctur has been searching for his missing daughter Ginnistan. These defects are entirely schematic, and their ramifications are, just as in Atlantis, largely dynastic. In other words, unlike the missing mother in Brentano’s Godwi, the unfilled mother position has no psychological effects on the other members of the family. Rather, its effects are of an algorithmic quality typical of traditional fairy tales: an absence sets in motion a chain of events that return the system to homeostasis. We needn’t go so far as Godwi to find a point of distinction, however: the second family the fairy tale presents, the family that will come to fill the absences in Arctur’s, is, as Kittler has shown, a very different kind of family, one characterized by emphatically psychosexual developmental narratives.108 If both families are unstable, and it is their instability that sets the fairy tale in motion (as Kittler has argued),109 then each family is nevertheless unstable in its own way. Kittler reads Klingsohr’s fairy tale as staging the transition from a dynastic kinship system (Sippe) dominated by the demand for exogamy to a modern bourgeois family nucleus maintained by oedipality. And indeed, the problem of Arctur’s court is a lack dictated by exogamy, while the instability that characterizes the family of Eros and Fabel has to do with an excess of incestuous desire. The fairy tale’s opening thus pits a centripetal and a centrifugal family arrangement against each other. Moreover, as Kittler points out, the first of these family arrangements exhausts itself in combination (in particular, as O’Brien has added, a combination of signs), whereas the second family arrangement has an important generative function and in fact actively produces the homeostasis that allows the story (and the novel) to come to a close. Unlike the first family, the second family traffics less in names than in nomenclature. Not all the members of this second family are identified by proper names. Most important, neither “the children’s father” nor “the boy’s mother” is given a name—in fact, even though Ginnistan is Fabel’s mother, she is never identified by the moniker “Mutter,” which is entirely reserved for the woman who holds the position within the familial schema but has no name to identify her further. When, for instance, Ginnistan exchanges “her appearance with the mother,” then it is of course Eros’s mother who transforms herself, and it is also Eros who is subject to the incest prohibition enacted by this transformation. The Freudian family schema Kittler identifies thus really encompasses only the triad motherfather-Eros. Nevertheless, this triad requires the other three figures for its


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psychosexual activation: Ginnistan functions as a motor of oedipality. By assuming the guise of the mother she becomes the object of desire of both father and son. For the father, she is the compensation for the imaginary dyad between the mother and Eros, while for Eros, she becomes the paradoxical object of an incest prohibition as well as the means of its transgression. Fabel is the token of the mother’s insufficiency: the mother is neither the primary love object for the father nor a real mother for either Eros or Fabel—her milk is inferior and the children prefer Ginnistan’s. Last, “the Scribe” will eventually commit the matricide that makes the tale’s resolution possible— only his actions remove one of the family’s two mothers by elevating her into a kind of supermotherhood. At the story’s outset, the families are already connected, as Sophie (Arctur’s wife) and Ginnistan (Arctur’s other daughter) reside with the terrestrial family. Nevertheless, the instability inherent in this arrangement requires external release: Arctur’s hero shatters his sword and scatters its pieces, one of which Eros’s father finds “in the yard.” Kittler reads the shattered sword as the phallic signifier, and indeed in Ginnistan’s hands the shard takes on the “shape of a snake,” “which suddenly bit its own tail.”110 The move from a kind of phallic eros that points somewhere else, and the more diffuse eroticism of (self-)ingestion, are picked up again at the end of the fairy tale, when the dead mother is ingested by all the other characters, founding a “more loving constitution” in the mold of Faith and Love. Moreover, the shard is magnetic and quite literally points to a place of absence—true north. That the north pole turns out to be the location of Eros’s intended sexual object (Freia) is not an accident: the phallic fragment inaugurates the child’s sexual trajectory. Eros looks at the fragment “with unspeakable joy,” and as the fragment “grew in his hands toward the north,”111 he appears deeply moved and seems to undergo a growth spurt. More important, however, Eros begins to desire, and it is only the activation of this desire that finally releases the crosscurrents of desire hitherto latent in the familial arrangement. In fact, Eros’s desire, once occasioned and directed by the magnetic shard, sets up a veritable psychosexual Rube Goldberg device. He covers his shame with Ginnistan’s cloth, then gives his Milchschwester a hug, which seems to inspire language in her. Ginnistan presses against him “with the intimacy of a bride” but is called to order by Sophie. Instead, Eros and his mother share a “silent embrace [Umarmung]” (as we have seen, a much less innocent locution in Novalis’s day), which in turn inspires the father, upon his return, to caress Ginnistan “behind their [i.e.,

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Eros’s and his mother’s] backs,” and the two retire to lovemaking. When Eros soon after “decides” to leave for the court of King Arctur, the decision is introduced in the perfect tense: “Mother and son left to . . . prepare the decision they had made.”112 Given the level of detail with which the tale has kept record of the family’s erotic transactions, it seems strange that the Entschluß that Eros will leave home should be mentioned only once it has already transpired—unless, of course, that Entschluß is in fact coterminous with the erotic transactions, or with the discovery of the phallic shard that has precipitated them. In this case, the perfect tense is the only possible place for the Entschluß, something that has already been left behind by the time it has been brought to language. The fairy tale concludes by bringing together or reuniting three married couples: Eros seals an “eternal bond” with Freia, whom he has woken from her slumbers; his father becomes Ginnistan’s “bridegroom” (Bräu­ tigam); Sophie and Arctur are reunited and give their “words of blessing” (Worte der Weihe) to the two other unions.113 This reconfiguration of familial structures is triggered by an act of murder, when the evil Scribe immolates the “mother” of the second (the oedipal) family. Although she persists as a kind of character (the tale ends with the other characters ingesting her ashes), she is no longer an active participant in the plot and thus no longer part of any physical relationship. Once the mother is removed from the picture, the tale’s cast of characters manages to pair off quite elegantly. It is of course the schematic geometry of the fairy tale’s conclusion that has essentially demanded allegorical readings of the fairy tale virtually since its publication. Reading the conclusion of the fairy tale in light of the considerations of coupledom undertaken in Faith and Love, we could posit the following set of congruences: The sense of love that grounds analogical thinking is provided by the mother’s body. Freia and Eros would provide the “infinite idea” of a couple, of a relational love between I and Thou. And the father and Ginnistan are the Darstellung, the sign of this love relation in real, “terrestrial” terms (what Novalis in note 79 of the Allgemeine Brouillon called “infinite totality”).114 It is an equation we can at best proffer tentatively, as any close reading of the text will reveal a number of points on which Klingsohr’s fairy tale complicates and subverts the theses of Faith and Love. There are three issues of particular importance in the context of our discussion: first, the ambiguous semiotic relationship between the three couples; second, the intergenerational character of two of the new couples (Eros-Freia, father-Ginnistan), which seems designed to cancel


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out the issue of progeny and productivity so problematic in Faith and Love; and finally the absent mother who has made the three couples possible in the first place. Regarding the first point, it is important to realize that the semiotics of these royal couples are extremely complex and perhaps not entirely decipherable. For one thing, in contrast to Faith and Love, we are dealing here with no less than three royal couples, all of which at one point or another appear in a function analogous to that of Friedrich Wilhelm III and Queen Luise in Novalis’s essay. Nevertheless, the three couples appear to differ in what they mean and how they mean, that is to say, in their semiotic relation to “the people” (Volk), which makes a sudden though not entirely unexpected entrance toward the end of the story. When Eros and Freia encounter “the royal family,” the opposition seems strange to begin with: Freia is already a member of the royal household; moreover the two of them are described as “the new royal couple.” More complicated yet is the relationship between “royal family” and “new royal couple”: “The royal family received them with the most heartfelt tenderness, and the new royal couple proclaimed them its plenipotentiaries on earth.”115 The grammatical construction of the sentence leaves it unclear just who is subject and who is object of this sentence: does the new royal couple anoint the royal family its plenipotentiaries, or does the royal family anoint the couple? Intuitively, the latter makes more sense, though the context does nothing to make the relationship any less ambiguous. Someone stands in for someone else (as a placeholder, a Statthalter), represents someone else, but it is not clear who will represent whom. This also leaves the relationship between “family” and “couple” opaque— does one constitute the earthly instantiation or representation of a heavenly ideal? But if so, which one? One option, for example, is that die königliche Familie is none other than the couple Arctur-Sophie—but why are they a “family,” while the newlyweds constitute a “couple”? Does “couple” here designate a Darstellung of a transcendent “family”? Is the “couple” the Statthalter of the “family”? Another option, of course, given that, in the preceding paragraph, Ginnistan “and her bridegroom” have just been carried in “as though in triumph” by the people, is the following arrangement: It is not that the “couple” becomes a Statthalter for the “family,” but Statthalter, “couple,” and “family” are three distinct entities. Ginnistan and Eros’s father become the Statthalter for the “new royal couple” (Eros and Freia), who are part of the royal family (alongside Arctur and Sophie). In this case, then,

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Ginnistan and the father would function as the earthly instantiation of the transcendent couple Eros-Freia. The status of Arctur and Sophie is left relatively ambiguous in this picture, in particular given that Sophie is never called “the queen” and that Freia has already been called “the new queen,” signaling that, although der König continues to refer to Arctur, the scepter has already been passed on to Eros. The ending of Klingsohr’s fairy tale thus leaves us with two families involved in a signifying relationship. At the outset of the story stood two kinds of families, one beholden to an almost algorithmic logic of exogamy, the other subject to centripetal, incestuous forces. The tale’s ending seems to know no two kinds of families: earlier, we found that each family was unstable in its own way; it appears as though all stable families are in fact alike. Arctur and Sophie were a family to begin with, and by the end of the tale they have been reunited; Ginnistan and the father were at least a couple, and they can marry once Eros’s mother has disappeared; Eros finally has graduated from the as-if incest with his mother’s image and the quite actual oedipal struggle with his father over Ginnistan to healthy exogamy. The three families that the fairy tale’s computations end up producing are all structurally identical. Each is in its own way a hybrid between Arctur’s Sippe and “the father’s” family, and it noteworthy that the only family member who is not part of a couple at the tale’s conclusion is also the only member who was herself a hybrid of the two worlds to begin with, namely, Fabel. If their relationship is no longer characterized by a distinction of kinds, the three couples come into interaction insofar as they stand for one another. As has become clear, however, while the different couples interact as signifiers and signifieds, it is left entirely and deliberately unclear in the text which couple is which. Why would Novalis’s text want to leave the semiosis performed by the Statthalter, whoever they are, this ambiguous? The reason lies in what the Allgemeine Brouillon calls “mystical linguistics” or “language magic” (Sprachmagie): Novalis postulates “a sympathy between the sign and that which it designates”116 but goes further, positing a “doctrine of mutual representation” (Wechselrepraesentationslehre).117 Based on the notion of analogy grounded in the Absolute,118 this doctrine turns the metaphysical insight that the universe can be comprehended as a system of bidirectional analogies into a semiotic one: each term of an analogy represents, or, as Novalis puts it, becomes “symbolic” for, the other.119 The strange grammatical confusion around the Statthalter enacts this “doctrine of mutual representation.” The two couples father-Ginnistan


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and Eros-Freia in some way represent each other, but neither of them is privileged /primary while the other is derivative /secondary. The two couples thus emerge as co-semiotic and themselves constitute a selfreferential dyad: just as in Faith and Love, what is left out of this couple of couples are the people ruled by the royal couple(s); there are no subjects that could function as the couple’s children. Not only is neither of the emergent couples semiotically primary, the ending also engineers a configuration that prevents either of the couples from being genetically prior. After all, father and son have married two sisters, and it is the son rather than the father who is crowned king. The troubling implications of royal offspring (in particular symbolic offspring) are deflected through a wholesale annihilation of filiality. In the final schema no father is also sovereign (Arctur because he has transferred his sovereignty, the father because his son is his sovereign)—being king and being a father to anyone appear to be mutually exclusive. As for the mothers, their sovereignty is not abnegated; rather it is dispersed and universalized. “The mother” becomes mother to all and thus no longer can ground any claim to authority. She effects a switch from an imperium paternale (or maternale) to universal fraternity—which paradoxically means that she can no longer furnish a ground for sovereignty.120 The maternal line of Atlantis survives, if anything, in Sophie’s daughters, the wives, but even its continuation is made possible only through the disappearance of “the mother.” After the mother is immolated by the Scribe, Sophie administers her ashes to the family, and she enters the tentative equation we proposed above as, once again, something of an Absolute. What is crucial about this transformation, however, is that while the mother is love, both in the simple schematic sense and in correspondence with the terminology of Faith and Love, she herself is no longer capable of either loving or knowing love. The erotic position of I / Thou is as closed to her as the position of poetic subjectivity, which can make love appear in discourse. Similarly, as we have seen, the princess of Atlantis turned from the position of the Absolute to the position of bride—that is to say, from that which cannot know love because it is absolute to that which cannot know love because it is its object. As the theory of reflection Novalis inherits from Fichte would have it, the “I” cleaves itself from the Absolute at the moment when it necessarily juxtaposes itself with an object of knowledge (and thus, potentially, of love). The princess similarly cleaves herself from the Absolute, not as an “I,” an index of a fall from the plenitude of Seyn, but rather as a “Thou,” the self-sufficient foil to the I.121

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The scene stages a kind of travesty of the Eucharist, putting divine Love into circulation via ingestion. Two factors combine to subvert this straightforward travesty, however: For one thing, sharing the host actually undoes the possibility for love. The mother’s ashes may ground a particular kind of familial sociality, but they annihilate any possibility of an erotic charge within that relation. Maternal, absolute love actually cancels out the individual Umarmung. For another, the novel stages not one but two mystical communions. In one it is the mother’s body that is shared; in the other it is the wedding band between Eros and Freia that is dispersed and shared with the Volk. Again, then, the absolute love of the mother does not appear by itself but rather has to be relayed via signification: the mother’s body is shared and inspires the sharing of the wedding band, which in turn finally creates the “poetic state.” Why this detour via the sign, and why is that sign a wedding band? At the tale’s conclusion, the main characters have received the ashes of the dead mother in a “divine potion.” The way the fairy tale stages this communion makes it clear that the erotic, which has, as we have seen, functioned as the driving force behind the transformations and realignments that make up the plot, is now bereft of its power: All drank of the divine potion and heard the friendly words of the mother inside, with unspeakable joy. She was here now, and her mysterious presence seemed to transfigure all. . . . Everyone felt what they had been missing and the room was a haven of bliss. Sophie said: “In each of us now lives the heavenly mother [himmlische Mutter], in order to give birth to every child. Do you too feel the sweet birth in the beating of your breast?”122

Drinking the ashes quells the desire that has thus far propelled the characters: “Everyone felt what they had been missing.” Lack, the precondition for eros (symbolized by the boy Eros’s magnetic phallus), has vanished. The story’s characters all hear “the friendly words of the mother inside” each of them — the ashes have instituted a universal motherhood and thereby a universal fraternity. All the couples the story has worked so hard to arrive at are thus at base incestuous—not surprisingly, it is not the couples but the himmlische Mutter which will “give birth to every child.” In the end, as Regula Fankhauser has pointed out, the universalization of love in the shape of the mother’s body has the paradoxical result of imploding sexuality, and even the sexes.123 There is an epistemological dimension to this mystical communion as well. The first sense of love we saw Novalis employing in Faith and Love


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involved the possibility of recognizing an analogy between the union of two people and the union of a Volk. At the conclusion of Klingsohr’s fairy tale, this couple itself partakes in the totality only in an automated fashion (insofar as they have imbibed the mother). They do not understand themselves to be part of a poetic system; rather they now blindly partake in it. As Fankhauser puts it, the mother’s body imparts a “revelation that bypasses the word,”124 bypasses language and the sign. Since the mother’s body cannot be semiotic, the tale stages a second Eucharistic ceremony: When the Volk requests a benediction (“Segnet uns auch!”), Sophie tells the new queen Freia to throw “the bracelet of your union” into the air, “that the people and the world be connected with you.” And indeed, “the bracelet dissolved in the air, and soon one saw light rings around everyone’s head.”125 Here, then, the principle of the Bund or union (the ring) becomes dispersed as a token of a greater Verbindung—the ring establishes the analogy between two marriage partners, and it establishes an analogous Bund between the people and their royal couple. The ring is a signifier and the signifier of a union; the mother’s body is the ultimate signified, the instantiation of a union that is not a unification of preexistent parts but rather an underlying unity that animates and enables the couplings at the story’s climax. In other words, the mother’s body corresponds to Seyn, whereas the union signified by the ring corresponds to the Urtheil, with the ring as copula. Here, then, the ordo inver­ sus appears again: the ring is the “representation” of a unity that cannot be directly presented. The ring’s status as signifier and its unification of two as one are thus of one piece. However, this leaves the “moralization” performed through the sharing of the maternal host unrealized, unpoeticized. Only unknowingly can the Absolute be partaken of, and the marital relation, in the end, seems to code once again only for the connection of two preexistent entities. In Novalis, as in so many of the thinkers considered so far, marriage is not what we might normally think of when we hear the word, but that does not mean that Novalis is not “really” dealing with marriage at all, or is using marriage “just” as a metaphor. For Novalis, the duality and simultaneous unity of lovers in marriage serves as a model for social organization. Marriage shares structural characteristics with other forms of sociality and correspondence, but, as the poet’s work turns more and more toward the question of love, he deliberately complicates this model by introducing representational aspects into it. Just as Novalis’s poetics aims to upend and confuse our normal linguistic habits in order to return us to

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the Absolute via this productive confusion, marriage in the Klingsohr tale confuses the sexes, families, and dynasties in order to return us to a state prior to Urtheil and predication. Marriage is both aesthetic (in the sense that it cannot be dissolved into conceptual or intellectual content) and a bit of political philosophy. Novalis learned from John Brown how the aesthetic in the old sense of aisthesis, meaning sensory receptivity tout court, might provide a political model. In Klingsohr’s tale, semiotics and politics of marriage converge entirely: the fairy tale traces the way in which shifting familial signifiers can create stability from instability without legitimation from the state, God, or king. Marriage’s function (which, rather than its meaning, is central in Klingsohr’s tale) is thus twofold: to show the spontaneity and dignity of the forces of free attachment; and to upset any strictly paternalistic analogies between kingdom and household. By turning Klingsohr’s royal couples into stand-ins, tokens, and signifiers for one another through his doctrine of “mutual representation,” Novalis makes impossible the kind of straightforward analogies between paternal power and royal power on which reactionaries like Bonald founded their theories of the state. Marriage, the fairy tale suggests, can create social correspondence autonomously out of itself, without needing a larger state framework to lend it dignity. The following chapter will attempt to flesh out more precisely how other theorists and poets of Frühromantik dealt with the question of the sign, of communication, and of unification. In particular, it will be the tension between unifying communication (always between two particulars) and unification (often, as in Faith and Love, through reproduction) into one product that emerges as the central problematic of the early Romantic metaphysics of marriage. Chapter 4 and 5 will attempt to sketch out this problematic by drawing on a constellation of thinkers well acquainted with Novalis and his thought on marriage: the Berlin and Jena circles of early Romanticism, as well as Hölderlin’s Frankfurt circle. Chapter 7 will show how a critic of early Romanticism, Jean Paul, could mobilize precisely this problematic in exploding the Romantic metaphysics of marriage.

chapter four

Marriage between Chaos and Product: Friedrich and Dorothea Schlegel


his chapter and the next tell the story of two marriages. Both were happy and unhappy in their own way, and like so many marriages they both left behind an objective remainder, though, again like so many marriages, not the remainder the partners intended. One of these mar­ riages was physical to the point of scandal; the other “marriage” was spiri­ tual, a matter of a joke taken perhaps too seriously. Friedrich Schlegel met Dorothea Veit (1764–1839) in 1797, while she was married to a busi­ nessman much older than she was. Their courtship and extramarital affair are chronicled in Schlegel’s Lucinde (1799) in rhapsodic tones and in an experimental style that scandalized reviewers. While at Jena, Dorothea published her own novel, Florentin, in 1801, which picks up and modifies many of Lucinde’s central themes. The couple remained unwed for their entire stay in Jena and married only years later, in 1804. Together, they pushed the metaphysics of marriage to perhaps its pinnacle, both in terms of what they thought marriage could accomplish as concept and lived real­ ity, and in terms of the centrality they allotted love and marriage in phi­ losophy and life; and yet a central problem of this metaphysical discourse on marriage emerges most forcefully in their writings as well. The second couple consists of the young Friedrich Schlegel and Frie­ drich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher. Between May 1797 and October 1800, Schlegel and Schleiermacher cohabited in a flat outside of the Oranien­ burger Tor in Berlin, an arrangement that, as Schleiermacher wrote to his sister Charlotte, “our friends have taken to calling a marriage.”1 Schlei­ ermacher took this jest seriously enough to opine that he was probably “the woman” in the relationship,2 not least owing to Schlegel’s constant

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attempts to pressure his older friend into “producing.”3 This period of spiritual marriage saw both partners produce writings on marriage of the nonspiritual kind. Lucinde was the fruit of those years on Schlegel’s side; Schleiermacher, we shall see, produced an even wider-ranging body of es­ says, fragments, and reflections on the topic during the period. This meta­ phoric marriage will provide the guiding thread of chapter 5. Just as these “marriages” together elided the difference between cohabitation, physi­ cal intimacy, and Platonic eros, so the kind of productivity the respective partners wanted them to unfold oscillated between the spiritual, the aes­ thetic, and the physical. Sex could produce novels, ideas had to concretize into fragments, writings were supposed to behave like offspring. And it was this oscillating productivity that would emerge as their most central problem.

Chaos and Eros—Friedrich Schlegel’s Lucinde It is hardly an overstatement to call Friedrich Schlegel’s Lucinde, published in 1799 to immediate notoriety, the marriage book of early Romanticism; what is perhaps less obvious on first glance is that the novel also represents a significant contribution to the critique of Fichte’s metaphysics. While considerations of erotic politics were never far from the young Romantics’ thinking, few other texts fastened onto the subject with such exactitude and assigned it such a central role as Schlegel’s novel. Moreover, given the libertine legend surrounding its publication, its toxic reception, and the fact that Schlegel himself would later practically disown the work, the fate of Lucinde may well stand paradigmatically for that of the metaphys­ ics of marriage as a whole, a project lampooned by contemporaries and abandoned before Romanticism attained maturity. The novel gives narra­ tive form to the classic early Romantic conception of love, which regards love as in dialogue with the uncognizable ground of human cognition, the Absolute. It emerges from the same developmental moment as Novalis’s reflections on marriage: a move away from Fichte’s metaphysics occasions a move away from Fichte’s conception of marriage. Love and marriage, their commonalities and the difference between them, are absolutely cen­ tral to Lucinde; just like Novalis, Schlegel conversely insists that common­ ality and difference in general are in some way amorous or marital. The scandal occasioned by its publication was only partly due to the book’s perceived libertinism—just as many, if not more, contemporary


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readers were simply offended by the book’s overt spurning of any narra­ tive and poetic convention. In being offended by both, the book’s readers actually responded quite astutely to Schlegel’s own understanding of his text, in which formal and sexual experimentation were not just posited as analogous but rather explicitly identified. “Chaos and Eros are probably the best way of explaining the Romantic,”4 Schlegel jotted down in one of his notebooks around the time of his writing Lucinde. Eroticism was thus inscribed into the structure, the genesis, and very theory of Lucinde; but the novel’s “chaos” bore witness to a critique that decisively exceeded the erotic. As so often in early Romantic marriage theory, the critique of marriage proceeded apace with a critique of self-consciousness. During the years that gave rise to Lucinde and the Athenäum fragments, Schle­ gel articulated a critique of Fichte that generally resembled that of his friend Novalis, and he offered his own metaphysics that differed somewhat from his friend’s. At its most basic, Schlegel’s critique revolves around the idea of a Wechselerweis or “reciprocal proof.” Fichte and Reinhold erred, Schlegel argued, when they thought that safeguarding Kant’s legacy meant grounding his system in one single principle or Grundsatz, which was di­ rectly accessible to human rationality. At the same time, Schlegel took is­ sue with Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer’s critique of Fichte that sought to deflate Fichte’s metaphysics by reference to everyday common sense.5 Just as it was foolhardy to claim that human self-consciousness could lay unproblematic claim to its own ground, so it was illegitimate to mobilize a prephilosophical “sense” to provide a philosophical check to such claims. Schlegel proposed that philosophy proceed by co-positing two or more principles of equal dignity—where Fichte deduced, for example, I and Not-I from the absolute I, Schlegel insisted that two such entities “were one as high as the other,” not “derived from a higher one.”6 Instead of an ecstatic, let alone systematic, ascent to the Absolute, Schlegel’s meta­ physics suggested a highly dynamic, forever contested, and necessarily in­ complete “approach.” When Lucinde similarly celebrates the progressive “confusion” of particulars, without turning their unity into a static, stable “principle,” this is on the one hand part of its author’s critique of societal norms—but it also constitutes a reconsideration of Fichtean epistemology. For all of Schlegel’s attacks on Fichte, at the beginning of Lucinde’s genesis lies an act of applied Fichteanism. An earlier marriage was de­ clared dissolved simply because one of the partners could convince the other that she no longer felt the love needed to sustain the union. Schlegel had left Jena for Berlin in July 1797, soon moving in with his friend Schlei­

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ermacher in a flat on what were then the very outskirts of the city—the Oranienburger Tor. Schleiermacher worked as a resident pastor at the Charité hospital, which, owing to its origins as a plague hospital, lay a small distance north of the city gate surrounded by open fields. In spite of their somewhat bohemian accommodations near the city walls and overlooking the large cemeteries that Frederick the Great had moved out of the city into the open countryside (and that would one day become both Hegel’s and Fichte’s final resting place), the two young friends almost immediately cir­ culated in Berlin’s most fashionable salons, many of which were held in the homes of wealthy Jewish women. This was because only in these households, which for all their wealth remained marginal in the rigid social structures of the Prussian metropolis, could members of different religions and profes­ sional and social classes interact—here the impoverished student from Jena could interact with noblemen and professors, artists and civil servants, men of God and men of the trades. It was at the most famous of these salons that Friedrich Schlegel met Dorothea. Born Brendel Mendelssohn, Dorothea was the daughter of the Enlight­ enment philosopher Moses Mendelssohn and the scion of one of Berlin’s most prominent Jewish families. When she met Schlegel in August 1797, she was married to Simon Veit, a banker ten years her senior whom she had borne four sons. Friedrich and Dorothea were introduced at the salon held by Henriette Herz, the wife of the Kant student Markus Herz. “Even at this first meeting, she made such a strong impression on him that even I noticed it right away,” the hostess claimed in retrospect.7 The two quickly fell in love, and Dorothea asked Veit for a divorce, with the support of most of their friends. The Romantic conception of the family had as its “experiential content”8 the opportunity Friedrich and Dorothea Schlegel had at this moment: of rupturing all previous family ties as illegitimate and coming together in a new, autonomously chosen union, while still com­ manding the approval of a wider community. Naturally others were not so supportive: Veit “did not even want to hear about a separation” ini­ tially, and with perfectly good reason—but reason was not the standard Henriette Herz applied. “Given the outwardly entirely peaceable, even amicable relationship between the marital partners, he had no inkling of the inner dissatisfaction his wife was feeling. I was forced to open his eyes to her inside, and this led him to relent at last.”9 Married to a Kantian, but a Fichtean to the core, Henriette here confronted the realism charac­ teristic of Enlightenment Berlin, Veit’s sense that there was nothing out­ wardly wrong with his marriage, with another, far stricter standard of love,


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which relied on intangibles and interiority. Even though their marriage had seemed successful to him, her “inward dissatisfaction” had, as Fichte claimed, turned Dorothea’s marriage to Veit into a sham. Somewhat ironically, the theory of love proffered in the novel that told of Dorothea and Friedrich’s courtship insisted that love rested on an un­ knowable ground. Fichte had been obsessed with who did and could know what in love; Schlegel’s own metaphysics, developed before and during their courtship, knew no such worry. Much the opposite: he relied on a productive confusion of the senses and of roles, resting on a ground that was utterly inaccessible to reflection. By December 1798, Dorothea was able to obtain a rabbinical divorce and moved into her own apartment in Berlin’s Ziegelstraße, across the river Spree from what was then the center of Berlin and only blocks away from Schlegel and Schleiermacher’s shared apartment. Herz reports that “I don’t recall whether Schlegel lived with her there, but he ate at her apartment and was almost always with her. His literary activity at the time was quite significant, and he liked work­ ing under her eyes, and her counsel.”10 Their relationship certainly raised eyebrows—Markus Herz asked his wife to stop seeing her friends, which she refused. Schleiermacher too remained utterly loyal, not least because of his own theory of marriage: “At the time it was his conviction that such a marriage [as Dorothea had had with Veit] was a desecration of mar­ riage.”11 Friedrich and Dorothea remained at the center of the Romantic circles first in Berlin and later in Jena, where they crossed paths with the entire dramatis personae of this book. The couple lived together in both cities but would not actually marry until after Dorothea’s conversion to Christianity in 1804. But the public nature of their meeting and the public nature of its fall­ out are only one reason for Lucinde’s infamy. In keeping with the philo­ sophical program of the “politics of copulation” described in chapter 2, Lucinde deliberately casts love, marriage, and adultery as quasi-political concepts—the love between the protagonists is not a merely private mat­ ter but is explicitly presented as holding lessons and consequences for a wider polity. On this point both the love affair that seemingly inspired the novel and the theory of marriage offered in the novel diverged quite noticeably from Fichte and Humboldt: not only does the suspected roman à clef open up the shutters and present private erotic life to the wider pub­ lic, but what is perhaps more scandalous, it also demands that the outside world accommodate and come to terms with that private erotic life. When Lucinde celebrates the erotic “confusion” of boundaries and categories,

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childlike “shamelessness,” and receptive “idleness,” it does not hold them up as a private corrective to civil society, it actually suggests that through them civil society ought to be transformed. When Schlegel approvingly cites the “three great tendencies of the age,” Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre, Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister, and the French Revolution, he thinks that the transformation they are bringing about combines the literary, the philo­ sophical, and political efficacy, and Lucinde’s formal willfulness seems in­ debted to a similar idea. While some of Lucinde’s plot seems to borrow from the tropes of the Bildungsroman, the novel “presents not just an individual but as much as possible a family; the communal religion of this family is poetry.”12 As Schlegel indicates here, it is the love between the main characters Julius and Lucinde that forms the novel’s thematic arc; however, their relation­ ship is always subtended and mediated by a third term—that of poetic form itself. As a consequence, the novel traces their affair in a highly refracted and at times vertiginous manner. Rather than a straight story arc, Lucinde presents itself as an assemblage of thirteen interconnected vignettes of different genres and a prologue of varying length, which are clearly interrelated, while the nature of their interrelation remains at times murky. Some of the longer pieces of continuous text advance a nar­ rative, others constitute reflections that comment either on the central relationship itself, on the novel that tells of that relationship, or sometimes on both. The novel explains this dizzying effect by reference to a “right to confusion” (Verwirrungsrecht),13 which seems to apply equally to the author’s right to play with his narrative and to the right of lovers to mix up gender roles and subject positions (see chapter 2). Schlegel declared that “a theory of the novel would have to be itself a novel,”14 and the theory of the novel that Lucinde presents traffics extensively in matters of gender and eroticism. Its use of interconnected fragments, literary arabesques, and combinatory play is explicitly eroticized; the play of combination and difference, of elective affinity and narrative coherence is cast in the lan­ guage of love and attraction. Its theory of love, marriage, and sensuality should have been uncontro­ versial at the time of Lucinde’s publication. What made the book’s recep­ tion so toxic, however, was the fact that it presented not just eroticism, but rather a metaphysics of eroticism, and was taken as a welcome chance to at­ tack the Romantics in general and the always pugnacious Schlegel brothers in particular. Lucinde elaborates perhaps the most sustained metaphysics of love and marriage in German Romanticism. To be sure, its philosophy


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of marriage is much less concerned with the actual transactions of marital life than those offered by, say, Fichte or even Novalis. However, the rough outlines of this philosophy and its consequences are readily apparent; and they are the outlines familiar from Novalis and Hölderlin. Schlegel largely follows Fichte’s rejection of the discursive element of love and marriage; when he distinguishes love and marriage, Schlegel never turns to matters of laws, vows, conventions. Poetry’s play unsettles and disrupts their quo­ tidian grind, and since both love and marriage also perform such unsettle­ ment, neither of them is implicated in the philistine sphere of the state of the understanding, as Hegel would call it. Behind this insistence on the productivity of “confusion” stands a metaphysics strikingly similar to those developed by the Bund der Geister in Frankfurt around the same time: the story of the return to Seyn from the fallen world of the Urtheil by means of “intellectual intuition.” As we saw in chapter 2, the Romantics developed their metaphysics by criticizing positions such as Fichte’s, which posited an Absolute that was somehow immediately transparent to consciousness. Their metaphysics of marriage tended to regard the ground bisected by the Urtheil, or by human individuation, as ultimately unknowable, while Fichte obsessed over the question of what about love’s absolute ground could be known and by whom. Schlegel’s critique of Fichte in this respect coincides entirely with Novalis’s, with Hölderlin’s or the young Hegel’s. Love returns human beings to a state before the wanton imposition of dichotomies, and it does so by confusing the particulars to the point of indistinction so that the world of objects and concepts is transcended. Schlegel calls this confusion “chaos” and makes clear elsewhere that such chaos is not just any confusion: “Only those kinds of confusion [Verworrenheit] are chaos out of which a world may be born.”15 It is productivity that makes chaos— chaos is pregnant with the particular but supersedes it at the same time. Loveless marriages are barren; they confuse nothing and cannot produce anything new. If marriage, friendship, and love are all capable of this supersession of the particular, they play different roles in this process: Schlegel claims that “love and marriage are different, but complete love becomes marriage and vice versa.”16 What is meant by this characteristically gnomic fragment becomes clearer when read alongside another fragment from the same notebook: “Love is the combination of human beings in the process of becoming; marriage is the combination of completed human beings.”17 Love and marriage have the same root and the same ultimate object; however, one belongs to the realm of be­ coming, the other to the realm of being. “Complete” love and marriage

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each come to encompass their opposite, fusing being and becoming in one “divine” whole: “The divine is what bubbles up out of love to the pure eternal being and becoming,” Schlegel remarks in one of the fragments he published in his journal Athenäum.18 Unbridled passion thus does not need to be harnessed in marriage, nor stodgy, discursive marriage spiced up with love—rather each needs to be so all-encompassing as to generate its opposite out of its own spontaneous overflow. Schlegel refuses these dichotomies (passionate love vs. realistic mar­ riage, language vs. feeling) in favor of “complete” love and marriage, which together represent his version of marital autonomy: love and mar­ riage are distinct, but nothing external is necessary to turn one into the other; rather, one generates the other out of itself. As Clemens Brentano, an acquaintance of Schlegel’s from Jena, has a character in his novel Godwi (written from 1798 to 1801) express the matter, love provides a “rhythm” (Takt) to marriage, much like “the pulse of art in nature, the measuretapping foot of a musician through his melodies.”19 Marriage does not provide external structure for passionate love but rather constitutes the structure that such love naturally creates out of itself (the way notes will generate rhythm spontaneously, or the way poetic language constitutes form). Schlegel does not specify how and when this sort of self-generating structure occurs, when love transitions into marriage, and unlike Fichte, who spends much time on the subject, he does not seem to be much con­ cerned with the transition into and out of marriage. Schlegel’s claim that “complete love” becomes “complete marriage” further enables him to ex­ pand on Fichte’s somewhat simplistic equation of both. In Fichte’s account marriage at times seems little more than a rubber stamp for a preexisting love relationship; Schlegel’s notes suggest that there is an additional some­ thing that enters into a relationship with marriage, since both love and marriage tend toward perfecting themselves in the other. In his novel, Schlegel elaborates perhaps the most explicit fusion of Fichtean transcendental philosophy and the Neoplatonic “philosophy of unification,” but drives the idea of unification much further than, say, Hegel’s or Hölderlin’s philosophies of love of the late 1790s. Love effects the “complete unification” of the lovers, as in Fichte; it allows us to see the totality of the cosmos, as in Hölderlin; it is political, as in Hegel; it listens for “the answer of its you”20 in order to feel its own unity, as in Novalis; it merges male and female into one androgyne; but it also unifies the spiri­ tual and the carnal, friendship and eroticism, activity and passivity. Most central among these unifications, however, is the one between carnality


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and spirituality—like Novalis’s slightly awkward invocations of the king and queen’s “embrace” (Umarmung), this carnality is supposed to ward off a retheologization of love into divine grace. “Love is not just the silent pining [Verlangen] for the infinite,” Schlegel has his protagonist insist in Lucinde, “it is also the sacred enjoyment of a beautiful presence.”21 Char­ acteristically, Schlegel performs a kind of chiasmus here: the pious orien­ tation to the infinite is described as a profane “pining,” and conversely the pure physical “enjoyment” of another’s body is declared “sacred.” Divine love and sexual attraction are to be entwined beyond the point where they could be disentangled. In this manner, Lucinde is animated with a veritable mania of unifi­ cations, confusions, and mutual determinations — few are the terms, it seems, that cannot be brought together, admixed beyond recognition, or made to parallel one another through the erotic “right to confusion.” In the notebooks that he would eventually publish under the title Philosophische Lehrjahre, Schlegel describes the “process [Gang] of this metaphysics” as “changing between chaos and system, chaos into system, and then renewed chaos.”22 Just as the novel’s structure beguiles precisely because the ratio­ nal, even mathematical arrangement of its fragmentary texts is discern­ ible, without being altogether clear or obvious, so the novel’s philosophical vocabulary comes to fuse and cleave apart from section to section. Terms are claimed to be identical but different—the construction that a particu­ lar something (love, marriage, friendship, etc.) should be “not just” (nicht bloß) x but also y, or x and y in indistinction, dominates both Lucinde and Schlegel’s fragmentary writings of the same time. As in Novalis, this process of combination, of positing a future kind of love, marriage, friendship in which x and y would no longer be distinct is characterized as an explicitly erotic process. The move from chaos and indistinction toward what Fichte would call “determination” is the work of love: “love particularizes [sondert] the chaos,”23 but love also dissolves the particular into a greater, “chaotic” unity. Behind Lucinde’s formal play lurks a metaphysics strikingly similar to that of the young Hegel and Novalis: while the chaotic dissolving of the limited particulars does not seem to return the particular to something like Seyn or the Absolute, the indistinctness and departicularization of chaos clearly push us toward the Absolute. More important, unlike the Absolute, chaos can be perceived. Schlegel follows Hölderlin and Novalis in asserting that the Absolute can­ not be cognized, but that point in itself doesn’t seem to have interested him very much: “Cognition designates a knowledge that is already conditioned

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[bedingt]. The noncognizability of the Absolute is thus an identical trivial­ ity.”24 What strategies of confusion and play we might be able to employ in cognizing something resembling the Absolute seems to have been the compelling question for Schlegel. Schlegel follows Novalis in assigning love a much greater range of func­ tions than traditional thought on the subject: love both anticipates the “chaos,” the indistinction being cognized, and constitutes the process of cognition itself. Since love is not just “the silent pining for the infinite” (what around the same time Hegel and Hölderlin would have called “in­ tellectual intuition” and its desire for Seyn), it is also concerned with the presence of the beloved object in its sheer physicality. The trick, it seems, is to cognize each in the other. Unlike the slow ascent of erotic impulses suggested to Socrates by Diotima at the end of Plato’s Symposium, in which the lover slowly graduates from baser forms of desire to more ex­ alted ones, here the high and the low must be held together in cognition. While its mania for unification makes Lucinde perhaps the most explicit and sustained poetic elaboration of the early Romantic metaphysics of mar­ riage, its political inclinations, and its Fichtean and Neoplatonic sources, Lucinde nevertheless registers one of the major problems that haunted the metaphysical discourse on marriage among the Idealists and the Romantics and would eventually lead them to abandon the project altogether. It is the problem of what exactly unification produces. In particular Schlegel moved away from his positions in Lucinde with striking abruptness, as we shall see in chapter 8. By the time the newlywed Schlegels arrived in Cologne in 1804, a mere five years after the publication of Lucinde, Schlegel’s theory of marriage had turned to entirely different bases for support and had taken a distinctly different shape, pointing forward to the 1820s lectures on the “Philosophy of Life,” rather than back to Lucinde. Tracing this problem of the status of the product of the “complete unification” will require leaving Lucinde and Julius to their idyll and returning to them in a roundabout way.

Problematic Productivity In a remarkable note on the writing of Lucinde, Schlegel writes that the novel’s picture of unification is “not yet . . . as it should be.” What needs to be emphasized, he notes, is the irony that inheres in “the dualism between the tendency toward unification and [the tendency] toward multiplicity in . . .


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love.”25 Throughout the novel, as we have noted, terms are obsessively brought together, but in a way that suggests that they might yet be distinct: love is marriage and marriage is love, but at the same time one “turns into” the other. What Schlegel’s note singles out as “ironic,” the fact that the rapturous unifications his novel celebrates nevertheless seem to auto­ matically decompose into their constituent terms, was a wider symptom of the metaphysics of marriage proposed by him and his friends. And not all their encounters with this problem were as cavalier as Schlegel’s note, which recuperates it as part and parcel of his work’s constitutive “irony.” Those who saw amorous unification as a prefiguration of political unifica­ tion, and those who identified its decomposition as tragic, could ill afford to be cavalier about this irony. It is possible to understand philosophy, from its origins in maieutic (spiritual) midwifery via Hegel’s explicit analogization of self-alienation and procreation, to Beauvoir’s distinction between the masculine project of transcendence and the feminine miredness in biological immanence, as a masculinist project of nonbiological reproduction. The history of phi­ losophy would thus consist in two thousand years of more or less delicately couched “womb envy.”26 Whatever it is that philosophy creates or gives birth to is always already in dialogue with entirely unmetaphoric repro­ duction. The mystical unification or community effected in the right kind of marriage is one of these counterpregnancies. The purpose of this ideal marriage was expressly not biological reproduction, or any kind of social utility—the philosophical elaboration of marriage in German Idealism, much like Plato’s project of philosophical “procreation in the soul,” op­ poses itself to the brute biological facts of common marital practice. All of the metaphysicians of marriage considered so far in this study insisted that marriage is not really good for anything. Unlike the German propagandists of the Enlightenment,27 and unlike most of the era’s juridi­ cal texts, they insisted that procreation was not an end of marriage; nor did they subscribe to moralistic or theological explanations, that feminine virtue or the domestication of the male was the purpose of marriage. “Phi­ losophers have felt obliged to explain what the end of marriage is and have answered the question in very different ways,” Fichte remarks in introduc­ ing his “Deduction.” “But marriage has no end other than itself; it is its own end.”28 The Romantics and early Idealists tethered this emphasis on the purposelessness of marriage to their critique of (bourgeois) instrumen­ tal reason on the one hand and to their apotheosis of (aesthetic) autonomy on the other. Schlegel’s Julius argues in Lucinde that “diligence and use-

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fulness are the angels of death who, with fiery swords, block man’s return to paradise.”29 Marriage cannot be useful if it is to be paradisiacal, and accordingly in Schlegel’s novel love is opposed to all forms of usefulness and is instead a form of “idleness” (Müssiggang). The Romantic meta­ physicians of marriage all programmatically agreed that marriage was its own end; and since they all agreed with Fichte that marriage consisted in a “complete unification,” that meant that the point of unification was that unification itself. As we saw in chapter 3, when Novalis turned to “the king and queen” rather than a single sovereign as his model for the ideal polity, he seemed determined to avoid two problems: by turning to a royal couple (sans chil­ dren) as the ground for the love that is to unite the polity, he paradoxi­ cally removed the threat that a straightforward hierarchized analogy à la Bonald (or Robert Filmer in the seventeenth century) would simply equate the sovereign with the pater familias and his subjects with his chil­ dren. We found a second related threat, which Novalis’s Faith and Love seems determined to sidestep: by turning to a duality as the embodiment of political relationality, he avoided vesting all sovereignty in any one selfidentical particular—the sovereign of the polity was in some sense itself (as a couple) relationally constituted and could not consolidate into a single personality. Once they come to produce a single sovereign, the uni­ fying particulars lose all those features that made the unification model attractive to Novalis in the first place. What bedeviled Novalis’s marital metaphysics in the context of one particular tradition of political philoso­ phy, the connection between paternity and sovereignty, looms large for the metaphysics of marriage more generally. This problem stems from one of the great promises the thinkers of early Idealism and Romanticism saw in the metaphysical picture of marriage: they believed that just as the Fichtean subject posits itself fully autono­ mously, so a couple can posit their autonomous unification poietically— they can posit their oneness as though a single thing, person, or agent. For Novalis, this intersubjective poiesis through marriage functioned as both symbol and foundation for a poetic state. Generally the metaphysics of marriage tends to emphasize the marital union as the coming together of two individuals and thus their product. Schlegel is at pains to suggest in his notebooks that love does not stabilize the couple that feels it into a solid entity: “Love is not harmony as such, but rather harmony in a state of fermentation.”30 However, although they are usually silent on the role of children in marriage, when the metaphysicians of marriage do bother


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to spell out this role they have trouble distinguishing between two kinds of marital poietic productivity—that of unification or self-transcendence (which is what made marriage an attractive topic) and that of reproduc­ tion or self-iteration (which turns unification inside out, as it were). Novalis, Schlegel, and the early Hegel all have particular difficulty when it comes to identifying what distinguishes one sort of production from the other. One of the few texts from the 1790s to actually address the role of the child in the metaphysics of marriage is Fichte’s Foundations of Natural Right— there, Fichte follows up the “Deduction of Marriage” with a detailed argument about a child’s rights vis-à-vis its parents. He proceeds much as in the earlier “Deduction” (see chapter 1), in that he will not grant such rights simply based on “positive” custom or social utility—instead, the rights he is interested in enumerating have to flow directly from the precepts established by the metaphysical deduction of marriage. That deduction started with the sex drive, but it did not use that drive to ground any aspects of the marital union; similarly, Fichte starts the fourth part of his appendix, which deals with children, by point­ ing to a certain protective drive that a mother naturally feels toward her child. In human beings, Fichte claims, this drive does not assert itself auto­ matically; instead it asserts itself via a detour through consciousness—the feeling of love is thus “the natural drive in the intellect [Intelligenz].”31 The mother, Fichte argues, feels a natural “organic bond [Band ]” to her child, which asserts itself in her consciousness as “compassion” (Mitleid). Even though the state has no right to enforce this, Fichte makes very clear that owing to the biological bond transfigured into Mitleid, the mother will feel (if not actually have) the “particular duty to protect specifically this child.”32 The father, on the other hand, feels only the kind of “compassion” one naturally has toward any other helpless being—his love thus does not have the specificity of the mother’s. Of course, Fichte says he too will be his child’s advocate, but “since it is a universal drive that is based on the sight of helplessness as such, he speaks for every child.”33 There is “no physi­ cal bond [Band]” between a father and his child and thus “no particular love.”34 While this may seem not to recommend Fichte very much as a father, his point is not that all fathers are metaphysical deadbeats. Rather, every father does love his children more than any other—but that love simply does not stem from a biological drive. Instead, the father’s “uni­ versal” care for helpless creatures (troublingly analogous to the source of his “magnanimity” toward his wife discussed in chapter 1) needs to

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be inflected toward his particular child—to be “determined,” in German Idealist parlance. What determines the man’s “universal” care and par­ ticularizes it toward this one child is “his tenderness toward the mother.” Because the mother loves this particular child, her love becomes his, “for both are one subject, and their will is only one [nur Einer].”35 The particularization of the father’s care is thus made possible only by the merging of the two parental subjects into one through love. Their “complete unification” in marriage thus strictly speaking has two prod­ ucts—their child and their love for their child—which are produced ex­ actly the same way but are supposed to be different. What is more, Fichte’s early account of paternal love finds an almost exact echo more than twenty years later in Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right— except Hegel uses it to characterize the couple’s relationship not to their child but rather to their marriage itself. It also has become a matter of will rather than love. The man, his argument runs, wills the institution in itself (a universal will), whereas the wife can will only this particular union (a particular will)—the ultimate object of both wills that only they together can constitute is the individual marriage itself.36 The structural resemblance between Fichte’s characterization of a couple’s relationship to its child and Hegel’s charac­ terization of the same couple’s relationship to its marriage is quite strik­ ing, particularly so in a context in which marriage and childbearing were kept emphatically separate. In spite of their insistence that children were inessential to marriage and family, there was some kind of resemblance in Idealist and Romantic theories of marriage between the relationship of the partners to their marriage on the one hand and their relationship to their children on the other. During the same period, a Romantic philosopher at times highly criti­ cal of Hegel made explicit the structural similarity of the couple’s relation­ ship to its child and to its unifying love, but also sought to keep the two separate. In this attempt he clarified the stakes of retaining this distinction. Franz von Baader (1765–1841), although of the same generation as the protagonists of this study, intersected their lives only sporadically. Unlike the Jena Romantics, who were born into Protestant and often Pietist families (though some of them famously converted to Catholicism later in life), or the Idealists, who largely came up through the infrastructures of Swabian Calvinism, he was born into a Catholic family in Munich. Ac­ cordingly, his religiously inspired philosophy drew on Catholic, pantheistic and mystic traditions rather than Pietist ones. He studied in Ingolstadt and attained his doctorate with a text (Vom Wärmstoff   ) widely regarded as


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inaugurating the speculative philosophy of nature that was to become characteristic of Romanticism—and it was biological speculation rather than metaphysical systematicity that would shape his approach in the de­ cades to come. He soon found himself at the Freiberg Mining Academy (later attended by Novalis), where one of his classmates and closest friends was the young Alexander von Humboldt. After a sojourn in Great Britain, Baader returned to Germany in 1796 and was introduced by none other than F. H. Jacobi to the writings of the young Schelling. Together with the seventeenth-century mystic Jakob Boehme (1575–1624) and the French Freemason and theosophist Louis Claude de Saint Martin (1743–1803), Schelling would provide the general framework of Baader’s emerging phi­ losophy. Schelling in turn owed much to Baader’s thought. It was through Baader that Schelling became interested in the thought of Boehme, and Baader was instrumental in introducing the problem of evil and sin into Schelling’s philosophy. Baader became one of the central figures of Munich Romanticism (a heavily Catholic circle centered on Joseph Görres, his son Guido Görres, Clemens Brentano, and the legal historian Georg Phillips). When the Uni­ versity of Munich was founded in 1826, he joined Schelling there as an honorary professor—although the two men had developed an increasing antipathy bordering on outright hatred by the mid-1820s. Accounts from interlocutors, epistolary acquaintances, and students (who, luckily for Baader, included two men who would become nineteenth-century Ger­ many’s most important historians of philosophy, Kuno Fischer and Johann Eduard Erdmann) suggest that Baader was a gifted lecturer and commu­ nicator. His thought made an impression not just on Schelling alone. He also maintained a close friendship with Friedrich Schlegel; his essays (in particular those on the philosophy of nature) were read and discussed by Novalis, Hegel, and even Goethe. Baader’s erotic philosophy was heavily indebted to mysticism, speculative biology, and theosophy and thus stood in an ambiguous relationship to the marital metaphysics of his colleagues and (sometime) friends. Nevertheless, his reliance on typically Idealist modes of thinking, and his keen insights into the problems raised by his Idealist contemporaries, made him their important (and subsequently of­ ten overlooked) interlocutor. Even his boosters admitted, however, that Baader’s written output con­ sisted “not of truly philosophical presentations of knowledge, which would combine as moments of a thought-through system, but rather of fermenta cognitionis, fermentations of thought, as he himself entitled several of his collections.”37 Indeed, Baader expounded his philosophy in fragments,

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aphorisms, short essays, commentaries, and marginalia on the writings of others in ways that were at times “confusing rather than instructive.”38 To be sure, this did little to dampen his reception during his lifetime—his collections of aphorisms circulated widely, and selections arranged by various editors proliferated even after his collected works had made them all accessible by 1860. One of the problems Baader posed for himself in these fragments was the following: What is the nature of the unification effected through love? Baader’s programmatic claim was that “love is it­ self the child of those united in love.”39 If loves makes one out of two, then what exactly are we to make of the product of that unification? After all, the unifying power of love depends on separate things to be unified—if we assume that the unification in love is, or ought to be, complete, then what exactly is gained in unification? In his answer, Baader distinguishes between two kinds of unifications in love. The first is the biological one, re­ production—the parents’ love becomes, in Hegel’s phrase, “an existence for itself and an object”40 in the child, “which they love as their love, as its substantial existence [substantielles Daseyn].”41 In the child, the love becomes something “positive,” something outside of the parents; it leaves the parents and assumes a life of its own. But there is another kind of procreation through love, Baader asserts, namely, the love itself that is nurtured in the parents but that cannot be externalized. This may sound a bit kitschy to modern ears, which it doubt­ lessly is. Its philosophical provenance is more interesting, however: it is a Christianized (and heterosexualized) version of the Platonic “procreation with respect to the soul.”42 Base sexual procreation is juxtaposed with a spiritual kind of procreation; sexual procreation continues the fall of the soul into ever greater animality, while spiritual procreation takes the reverse route, returning the soul to disembodied, eternal essence. What Baader adds is the Romantic understanding of alienation: what makes spiritual begetting so superior is that it does not create some external thing (as it does in Plato); it is not pro-creation, in that its creation never faces the creators as an other but is rather always and inalienably a part of them. Spiritual love is itself a kind of child, “but a child that the loving parents receive in themselves, rather than issuing the child from and out of them­ selves, like the child begotten in procreation.”43 Love is “a third [thing]” vis-à-vis the lovers, “just like the physical child, even though, unlike [the child], it lives not beside but in the parents, . . . thus unifying them in­ ternally.” The provenance of this strange child, he claims, is divine Love itself: all living creatures can give birth to a new life, but only in human


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beings does God “impregnate the lovers with Himself,” in the shape of love.44 But, faithful to his Platonic source in this respect as well, Baader does not think that these two kinds of pregnancy and procreation are cre­ ated equal—rather, one undoes the other. Although physical procreation expresses the love the lovers feel, it also annihilates that love. For one thing, sexual procreation is an index of death. The parents instinctively carry on the species; they “continue themselves” (sich fortsetzen), “unknow­ing and blindly tool-like . . . like animals.”45 But more importantly, the parents’ unification exits the parents in carnal procreation; their love evacuates itself from the couple along with the child, leaving them as two isolated particulars—just as though their love bond never existed. While seen in terms of biological life, the child is the harbinger of the parents’ death, spiritually speaking it constitutes the ejection of their love. “Even in the best case,” Baader claims, “the parents’ life perishes,” since “the [child] leaves them and makes them a thing of the past.”46 This limited, temporary, physical love, Baader contends, is the love that “our poets, partly blandly sentimental, partly crudely materialist” apotheosize.47 The love that God implants in human beings, on the other hand, is eternal. It is one in both partners, but that oneness does not take the shape of an external thing, nor can it ever leave the partners. And while physical attraction thrusts man into a position closer to that of the animals, divine Love does just the opposite—it gives us a foretaste of a heavenly “marriage of spirits” or “dispositions” (Gemüther), a marriage that seems to unite no longer sexed beings but rather souls liberated of all divisions, including sexual difference. After leaving behind the trap­ pings “of their earthly nature and the division [Trennung] implicit in it,” which Baader equates with a “degeneration of their sexual potencies,”48 the souls persist “like angels in the marriage of spirits” effected through the “creation in one of love” (Einerzeugung der Liebe)—their “wonder child [Wunderkind  ] called love.”49 Humans can already know this “Einer­ zeugung” through love even in their fallen, earthly state, so long as they don’t give in to animal, material sensuality. This sensuality brings only ex­ ternalization and thus death; it continues the Fall, so to speak. Baader’s fragment follows Plato in relying on a rather pronounced mind-body dual­ ism of the kind that Schlegel’s Lucinde was determined to avoid: for Schle­ gel, fleshly and spiritual love (and thus fleshly and spiritual procreation) could not be as easily distinguished as Baader would have it. But marriage in Lucinde also produces two things: the two lovers as one androgynous and intermingled whole, and their child. Schlegel described their child in

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much the same way as Baader: an androgynous being divested of cultural norms and notions of shame. But his attempts to mediate and distinguish between the two kinds of productivity reveal the same fault lines Baader identified in his fragment.

A Second Look at Androgyny A very similar dynamic plays itself out with another product of the union effected in love. As we saw in chapter 2, Schlegel and Baader both claim that true divine love returns man to a pre-Adamic androgyny, in which the particularity of determinate gender is worked away in favor of an allembracing plenitude. In the utopian figure of the androgyne the ambiva­ lence between unification and productivity asserts itself most forcefully. Baader drew this notion of a salvation through androgyny from Boehme, but in fact the concept of androgyny had undergone a decisive shift toward the erotic by Baader’s time. For Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–68), the famed German classicist and propagandist of an “emulation of Greeks works” (Nachahmung der griechischen Werke), it had been a particular historical and political configuration that conceptually allowed for an­ drogyny: the androgyne “differed from both male and female formations [Gewächsen], and is a middle figure between the two”;50 it represented a step away from natural particularity. The child Mignon in Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister can be androgynous because she has no clear provenance, because she is almost extrabiological.51 For Schlegel and (several of) the Jena Romantics, androgyny is instead something made—androgyny re­ capitulates anthropogony.52 The androgyne physically expresses the blur­ ring and eventual disappearance of individual sexual boundaries, which occurs in sexual intercourse. This madeness of androgyny, however, cre­ ates a problem for the metaphysics of love, in particular in the context laid out in the preceding chapter: Where is the relational utopia inherent in androgyny if that androgyny ossifies into a single, mythic being? What if the “infinite progress” toward unification becomes simply a stale, boring unified something? Androgyny stands as a telos or even “principle” of Schlegel’s sexual metaphysics: “Femininity and masculinity are to be cleansed and turned into higher humanity.”53 This idolization of the androgyne figure goes hand in hand with a critique of the reifying effects of shame, which makes women more feminine and men more masculine, thus consigning


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them each ever more firmly to their respective sexual ghettos. Schlegel’s Lucinde offers a potent allegory of this shameless commingling in its en­ comium of Lucinde and Julius’s daughter, Wilhelmine, in terms that frame the child (introduced first as a neutral das Kind and only subsequently grammatically gendered) as an androgyne. Julius proclaims that he wants to describe this “strange child” not “with respect to a one-sided theory, but . . . as a whole.”54 And indeed, while Julius repeats Schiller’s association of “tenderness and daintiness in thoughts and words” with “the female sex,” his actual description of his daughter does not prominently associate either of these attributes with the child. Rather, Wilhelmine seems to be an anarchic, actively disruptive force who is all too happy to assert her “right to confusion.” Julius’s description thus does not provide a “one-sided theory” that would turn her into a straightforward exemplar of “the female sex” but instead sets out to characterize her “as a whole,” outlining a far more androgynous figure in the process. At the end of the section stands a triple analogy: Julius likens the impudent figure of little Wilhelmine to the sexual copulation that has produced her, as well as to “the novel” that tells of that dalliance, that is to say, Lucinde. Schlegel’s language in these passages suggests that all three of these products are sup­ posed to be similarly androgynous. Lucinde’s “Allegory of Impudence” presents a “fantastic boy,” an an­ drogynous figure who, as Schlegel made clear in a letter to his sister-inlaw, represents nothing other than the novel Lucinde itself.55 This gamine figure “could have been mistaken for a willful [mutwillig] girl who had disguised herself on a whim,”56 willfulness and whimsy, delight in confu­ sion and rupture all being characteristics of Schlegel’s novel. If Lucinde the novel is itself in some sense androgynous, it is so for reasons that seem to apply to little Wilhelmine as well: Julius ascribes “willfulness” (Mutwillen) to his daughter; he rhapsodizes over her tendency to dissolve the particulars into “romantic confusion” and the “hard” sounds of German into “soft and sweet” Italian and Hindi; and he adduces her as “an ideal” to be looked at from “a higher standpoint.” This “higher standpoint” is above all marked by the absence of shame. Julius describes the two-year-old as an allegory of Romantic shamelessness. She is not given to conceptual rigor and prefers clownery and Müssiggang; she also “finds not seldom an inexpressible joy in lying on her back, sticking her legs into the air, without regard for her skirt and the judgment [Urteil  ] of the world.”57 Of course, on some level the fact that Wilhelmine pos­ sesses no “false sense of shame” (   falsche Schaam) is simply a characteristic

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of any two-year-old—but the absence of shame is not purely descriptive. Wilhelmine’s lack of shame is of one piece with her androgyny—she does not feel ashamed, because she is as yet not sexually determined (which would mean being one thing, but not the other). Just as for Schleier‑ macher, for instance, Schaamhaftigkeit has to do with “one-sided” sexual roles, Schlegel’s Wilhelmine is shameless because she is bound by no such roles. Metaphorically, however, Wilhelmine’s androgynous shamelessness is an inheritance from the act of her conception: The “remainders of a false sense of shame,”58 which Julius asks his lover to discard, are compared to “the fatal clothing that I tore off you and that I threw everywhere in beau­ tiful anarchy.”59 Wilhelmine too has a tendency to playfully divest herself of her “fatal clothing.” Schlegel frequently casts both the androgyne ideal and sexual copulation in strikingly similar terms of “chaos” or “anarchy”: In the “most beautiful situation” (schönste Situation) male and female en­ gage in a constant “exchange in roles,” “destroying all that we call order” and instituting sexuality’s “right to confusion,”60 a confusion of sexes and falling away of outward trappings that are mirrored by the anarchic andro­ gyne creature that is the product of this “most beautiful situation.” This explicitly places androgyny’s chaos, its mixture of the sexes (as well as the chaos of the individual androgyne), in the neighborhood of the mixture of the sexes in copulation. Just as in Baader, the androgyny of human beings gets passed from the act of sexual congress to the product of that congress and is embodied in it. The marital partners, “indivisible as though one person,”61 become one person. In the child, the “totality of unification”62 that is the essence of both “the erotic” and “marriage”63 is externalized and objectified into a unified androgyne. The “self-sufficiency” of little Wilhelmine is the self-sufficiency of the sexual dyad. When Julius, in his “Idylle über den Müssiggang,” dreams of “the possibility of an endless embrace,”64 which would know no “di­ vision” (Trennung), that dream is in some sense realized in Wilhelmine. But this realization in many respects vindicates what would emerge as Schleiermacher’s main objection to Schlegel’s utopian conception of per­ fect androgyny. What made love a utopian feeling for the Romantics was its relational, communicative aspect. The Wilhelmine allegory seems to perversely evacuate androgyny’s utopian potential by fulfilling it. After rhapsodizing over Wilhelmine’s “romantic confusion,” her refreshing lack of shame, Julius remarks: “When Wilhelmine does this, what must I not do [was darf ich nicht tun], since by God! I am a man and do not need to


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be more tender than the most tender female creature [das zarteste weibliche Wesen].”65 Julius suddenly sexes what used to be a paragon of an­ drogyny—all play of gender roles is forgotten, the little androgyne is “the most tender female creature” and Julius is “by God!” a man. As we noted, Julius clearly subscribes to the idea that women are more “tender and dainty,” but for most of his description he has not associated Wilhelmine with those adjectives. Now, once determined as a “female creature,” Wil­ helmine shrinks from a capacious androgyne into a decidedly “one-sided” gender role. Julius is so caught up in the notion of unification through sex that he reflexively “determines” the product of that unification. The problem of the product thus concerns a unification that never takes the shape of a reified unit. This problem animates the young Hegel’s cri­ tique of the “positivity” of Christian religion; it informs Schleiermacher’s advocacy of religious brotherhood as “total spiritual communication,”66 as opposed to institutionalized, static authority. When Novalis hesitates to unify his “king and queen,” when he insists on the unifying power of the royal couple but leaves aside the unification of sovereignty in their descen­ dant, when Schlegel’s Julius offers encomia to his “marriage” to Lucinde but seems genuinely uneasy about the child stemming from that union, they are cuing into this very same problem. Casting the problem in terms of Urtheil and Seyn, the Urtheil depends on the fallen particularity of the judgment’s two relata; it loses all meaning if returned to Seyn. Chapter 2 made clear that those Romantics who recur to the figure of the Urtheil to explore sexual unification claim for love a power akin to “intellectual intuition”: it supersedes the external unification of the Urtheil, returning the particulars to the primordial Oneness from which they stem. But this denies meaning and dignity to those particulars that were to be unified in the first place. The problem raised by Julius’s characterization of little Wilhelmine is encapsulated perhaps most forcefully in an early text by F. W. J. Schelling, who at least in his philosophy of nature refused to distinguish between the biological offspring of a sexual union and its more spiritual and less thinglike twin. In his First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature (Erster Entwurf eines Systems der Naturphilosophie) of 1799, Schelling describes sexual difference in much the same way as Schlegel. Just as Lucinde regards the sexes as entities that are by their very nature opposed to the Absolute, Schelling thinks that nature seeks to transcend the particu­ larity of sexedness through sexuality—the “product” of the erotic union is nothing other than the species in its androgynous and absolute total­

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ity. In bringing together sexed beings into an all-encompassing unity of the species, “nature demands the Absolute and strives continuously to present it.”67 But where Schlegel follows Boehme, Novalis, and Baader in understanding this totality in terms of a salvation story, in which love returns men and women to the one all-embracing totality “beyond” sexual determinedness, Schelling tells the same story as a tragedy. The coming together of the sexes and the canceling out of their difference in sex rep­ resent their “product,” but that “product” cannot remain absolute but is “determined” as being either male or female. Nature’s activity represents a continuous attempt at an “absolute” product, which would transcend the determinations of sex, but what it produces instead are particular, partial—that is, sexed—products. “The development of the absolute product, in which nature’s activity would ex­ haust itself, is nothing other than a formation into infinity [Bildung ins Unendliche]. But formation is nothing other than giving a particular shape [Gestaltung].”68 Where Lucinde celebrates unification as an androgynous telos, and where Baader extols the vision of an “absolute” love union beyond the temporality of the production of a physical child, Schelling understands the return to the infinite as altogether momentary. The ces­ sation of sexual difference and the production of androgyny are brief, and they immediately produce new determinations, sexed individuals that set out anew to cancel out their sexuation and produce an androgyne. “Since this infinite activity has to present itself in finite products, it has to return into itself in an eternal cycle.”69 Schelling’s account thus denies outright the possibility cherished by Romantic accounts of androgyny — that in love two might come together as one without producing a single and de­ termined unit. It is clear that while the Romantics thought of sexual unification and androgyny somewhat differently than Schelling’s First Outline, they were quite worried about the tragic possibility raised by Schelling, namely, that at the end of absolute unification might stand nothing more than a de­ cidedly determined and partial something. The self-transcendence of the particulars in marriage is supposed to yield an entity unlike any other, but what if it produces something just as particular as those the process started out with? Love for them has the function of turning two entities into a single unit (or returning them into a single unit of which they were but parts primordially); but they seek to prevent that single unit from re­ ally being single, concrete, or partial. This hesitation arrests nothing less than the paradigmatic speculative operation of Frühromantik. After all, a


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union that realizes its essence through becoming what it is, and externaliz­ ing this “what it is” as a thing, is nothing other than autopoiesis. The mar­ riage figure models precisely the coming together of two by themselves inauthentic parts in a whole that has grounded them as their essence all along; but when it pushes toward the externalization of that essence, wants the union to become a something, the figure’s advocates balk at following through on its own logic. In their landmark study of German Romanti­ cism,70 Jean-Luc Nancy and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe have given a name to the autopoiesis in and through which something becomes more “what it is” or more “itself”: the “subject-work.”71 It is precisely this “subject-work” of autopoiesis that Friedrich Schle­ gel’s wife seems to target in her own companion piece to her husband’s Lucinde. If Lucinde is the story of two products—the physical product Wilhelmine, a source of discomfort, and the androgynous novel Lucinde itself  72 —then Florentin is primarily a story of frustrated productivity, of arrested autopoiesis, of selves incapable of causing. Instead of an “impu­ dent” little androgyne, the novel constructs (and allegorizes itself as) an unsexed ghost child. Both Schlegel’s legal wife and his “spiritual” one at the Oranienburger Tor, while sharing most of Schlegel’s premises, respond to the problem of the product by stopping decisively short of Friedrich’s metaphysics of unification. Although he had always enjoined Schleier‑ macher to “produce,” Schlegel did not respond well to the fruits of his friend’s labor, understanding them as an implicit critique of his own philos­ ophy. And while he seems to have harbored no such reservations about his wife’s literary activity, we will now turn to Dorothea Schlegel’s intricate stag­ ing of re- and deproduction, of the objecthood and not-quite-objecthood of the product.

Resisting Marital Productivity: Dorothea Schlegel’s Florentin Friedrich Schlegel had published what one buys today under the title Lucinde as the “first part” of a much larger novel of the same name. In spite of its vitriolic reception by the critics, and its hesitant endorsement by even the closest of friends and allies, Schlegel initially embarked on the second part undaunted, but found himself soon plagued by writer’s block. That is not to say that his final months in Berlin and his time in Jena and later in Dresden and Paris were unproductive—but what scattered poems and fragments he produced for the projected second part of Lucinde never coagulated into larger coherent units. In a letter dated October 28, 1799,

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Dorothea wrote to Schleiermacher that his erstwhile Berlin roommate was struggling with the sequel—a situation that did not improve either during Schlegel’s brief lectureship in Jena or during his stay in Dresden in 1801 and early 1802. Little exists of a text Schlegel reported again and again to be nearing completion—but notes for the phantom sequel persisted in his letters and notebooks until at least 1812. The love child of Friedrich and Dorothea had come to lead a protracted “ghostly afterlife,”73 as Hans Eichner put it, haunting Friedrich’s letters and notes for decades. While Friedrich’s sequel never materialized, Dorothea, who had in­ creasingly begun to supplement their income with written work of her own, published her own novel Florentin in January 1801 with the publisher Bohn in Lübeck, who had published Schleiermacher’s Letters on Schlegel’s Lucinde (Vertraute Briefe über Friedrich Schlegels Lucinde) the year be­ fore. The novel appeared anonymously, but with Friedrich Schlegel func­ tioning as “editor.” In a letter dated April 16, 1801, Dorothea writes to Schleiermacher in Berlin that “you have written much that is wonderful about my good son Florentin” but adds that not everyone has shown her child as much affection: “The poor man had to take much abuse, of the kind he knew nothing about as long as he merely haunted me as an idea.”74 Dorothea then goes on to wonder whether translating this “haunting” idea into a real and assailable child was not perhaps an act of unkindness on her part: “Should I have brought him into real reality [wirkliche Wirklichkeit], so that Merkel can praise him, Brentano can condemn him, and the city of Hamburg can make him a citizen?” As these comments indicate, Florentin picks up the problem of the product from Lucinde but turns what was part of the earlier text’s uncon­ scious and foregrounds it radically.75 The text as published (once again a projected second part was never completed, ironically owing to Dorothea’s own sense of marital obligation) constitutes, in Martha Helfer’s words, an “anti-Bildungsroman”76 — the title character meets the Schwarzenberg family while searching for his origins, spends most of the novel with them, and eventually leaves their estate none the wiser about those origins. In Florentin, then, productivity is bound up primarily with the questions of causality—Florentin seeks his own biological causes and, in a lengthy nar­ ration that illuminates his back story, tells of his own thwarted attempt at paternity. He explicitly hopes to supplement his own insufficient origins by being an origin himself, but his lover secretly aborts his child. Floren­ tin’s attempt at reproduction, at fashioning an aesthetic product (and ul­ timately fashioning himself as his own artistic product), is thus thwarted by feminine guile. The coordinates of Dorothea’s novel hew closely to


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those of Lucinde, but again and again unification, productivity, Bildung are thwarted, arrested, or reversed. This emerges most clearly when the hero of Dorothea’s novel supplies what little he knows of his back story: Florentin spends his earliest child­ hood in perfect seclusion on an island. He learns of his father only once the father is dead, from a woman he is told is his mother. Like any good origin-story, Florentin’s abounds in fathers, brothers, and sisters, but in each case that relationship turns out to be less than literal. A Benedictine “pater” educates him “in the name of the mother” (im Namen der Mutter),77 as an initiate to the monastic brotherhood. He meets a girl and is told she is his sister—although when he and a friend attempt to abduct his “sister” to prevent her from entering a nunnery (another sisterhood), it is revealed that she is not in fact his sister, nor is his “mother” his mother. What is thus striking about Florentin’s prehistory is that all the relation­ ships we are presented with are, or turn out to be, nominal or metaphoric. In fact, there seems to be an endless deferral of signifiers. For instance, when he is to enter into the (metaphoric) Benedictine “brotherhood” “in the name of” a woman he is to “call mother” (who is in fact not his mother), Florentin seems to be at the mercy of a dizzying chain of names, all of which promise (or metaphorically cannibalize) familial relationships they never deliver. Florentin’s back story may be comparatively light on the borrowings from epistemology (which, as we have been arguing, constitute the com­ mon thread of the Romantic metaphysics of marriage) in outlining this never-quite-explained origin. However, in another text, Florentin sketches precisely the uncanny relationship between the constitutum the transcen­ dental subject fashions for itself and the child that the marital union pro­ duces. The sketch arrives in the shape of a (not particularly scary) ghost story Juliane, the daughter of the Schwarzenberg family, tells in the twelfth chapter of the novel. In the subterranean discourse on productiv­ ity and pregnancy that runs as a thread through Florentin, it constitutes something of an answer to Florentin’s recollection of his aborted ghost child. It also recapitulates Franz von Baader’s juxtaposition of “spiritual begetting in love” and brute physical pregnancy. The ghost story tells of a pregnancy that is spectrally externalized, a ghost child that disappears when the physical child is born (or presumably when it transforms from an apparition into an actual child). Juliane tells of a Marquise who, incapable of producing offspring, promises herself to the Virgin Mary on Christmas Eve, pledging that should no child be born to her in a year’s time, she will

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enter into celibate life at a monastery, allowing her husband to remarry and (presumably) sire children at last. Before long, the Marquise begins seeing an “angel child” (Engelskind   ), which only she is able to see. When it is supposed that she is simply having some sort of breakdown, she convinces those around her by “describing with the greatest exactitude and composure the child that she saw leaning against the bed by her feet.”78 Within the logic of the story, this convinces everyone present “that she indeed saw it before her.”79 Within the strange optics of this story, then, there is a distinction between seeing something in “the mind’s eye,” which would make the child a fever dream or a “trace of some kind of illness,”80 and the kind of “structured” seeing the Marquise is capable of, which is apparently characterized by internal consistency and vividness. By virtue of the fact that the child behaves like an object in space, it cannot be just a figment of her imagination. The Marquise’s care­ takers have to accept the child as in some sense “objective.” And, indeed, the ghost child is remarkably permanent. When the Mar­ quise awakes in the morning, the child is already there. She even manages to communicate with the child, albeit only through gestures: “She told the child to step back from the bed; and it stepped back; next she waved it closer and it came closer.”81 However, when she signals the child to hand her an object, “the child made a gesture with head and shoulders as though to tell her that this was beyond its powers.”82 The Marquise and the spec­ tral child engage in a series of experiments, which test not so much the objectivity of the apparition (since neither its objectivity nor its apparition character is ever in doubt) but rather what this specter is capable of, how it can and cannot interact with its surroundings. The Marquise begins living with the child and sets up a bed for “it,” and cares “for the apparition with the passion of a mother.”83 She sets up a bed that the apparition sleeps in, though it wakes up exactly when she does. The only thing she cannot do is touch her child—“then the apparition retreated from her hands and could no more be grasped than the colorful shape of the rainbow.”84 Soon, however, it becomes clear that the Marquise is also physically pregnant—and nine months after the ghost child first ap­ peared she gives birth to a daughter. The ghost child (which is never given a gender, and whose description is androgynous to say the least) watches over the delivery and then disappears, never to be seen again. As in the case of Friedrich Schlegel’s Wilhelmine, the little apparition’s androgyny thus stands in dialogue with sexual reproduction. What makes this story interesting in the context of our discussion is not


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simply its shrewd (and somewhat enigmatic) interweaving of marriage, the compulsion to procreate within marriage, and the question of celi­ bacy—it is above all the question of the ghost child’s “objectivity.” As we noted above, the story is unusually thorough in sketching the physics of Geistersehen. Seeing ghosts, as both Kant and Schopenhauer knew, is in principle no different from the spontaneous use of our categories on sense data. It is commonly supposed that we have disproven the reality of a ghostly appari­ tion when we can show that it was subjectively constituted; but what weight can we give such an argument, when we know from Kant’s teachings how great a part subjective conditions have to play in the constitution of the physical world, namely, the following: that the space in which it appears, and time in which it moves, and causality in which consists the nature of matter, that is to say. its very forms, are but the product of brain functions.85

Kant of course has an answer for why a unicorn that happens to appear in a room out of thin air is not “an experience,” even if the furniture sur­ rounding said unicorn is. He furnishes this answer in the “system of prin­ ciples” (System der Grundsätze) of the Critique of Pure Reason. Here he provides the fundamental parameters under which something conforms to the concept of an object. In order to have an “experience” of an object at all, these sets of categorical parameters must be met. In order to be an ob­ ject of experience, the something our categories fashion out of sense data has to maintain permanence in time and space, and it must correspond to causal laws. This is what Schopenhauer is pointing to in the passage we quoted above: space, time, and causality are the parameters within which a ghost could be said to be an “object” in the Kantian sense. Florentin’s ghost child is indeed such an object in terms of space and time—while it may be constituted by the subject, it appears to move consistently in time and space. In fact, the strange epistemic turn in the story, in which those characters who cannot see the child are nevertheless convinced that it has some kind of reality, concerns precisely the permanence of the appari­ tion in space and time. What is lacking, of course, is the third parameter Schopenhauer lists: causality. When the ghost child indicates that moving or touching objects is “beyond its powers,” it is admitting precisely to be­ ing not-quite-an-object. It cannot cause, it cannot interact; and even if it is located in space and time, it can at best be semi-objective. In order to become fully objective, the ghost child undergoes a double transformation. (1) It is physically produced, that is to say born. (2) It

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is sexed: the child is an es throughout the story; when born, sie becomes “a daughter” (eine Tochter). In other words, the child attains objecthood the moment it becomes a result of procreation and a sexed individual. The category of causality, the defectiveness that made the ghost child leg­ ible as a mere specter, when reintroduced as sexual causation repairs the defect and renders the child “properly” objective, which is to say sexed. The text thus suggests an analogy between the production (of offspring) and the constitution of the object of perception. The epistemic category of causality (which makes the ghost a ghost) is equated with the onto­ logical creation of newness in reproduction. In an article that appeared in the Jahrbücher zur Medicin in 1808, Franz von Baader similarly sug­ gested that there is an “analogy between the drive toward knowledge and procreation.”86 To “probe” (ergründen) is to want to furnish a ground for something (er-gründen), to “make oneself the ground or carrier for some­ thing.”87 Integrating an object into our world of causality is thus similar to becoming the cause for an object oneself. That it is precisely the question of causation that integrates this ghost story into the wider plot of Florentin becomes clear when Florentin reacts to the story: “I felt as though both the events and the people [in the story] were not foreign to me.”88 In fact, he confesses to “a slight terror” at the story, a feeling none of the story’s other listeners seem to share. Whether or not this is meant as a foreshadowing of Florentin’s (never revealed) provenance, or whether we are meant to see in it an echo of his experience with abortion, it is clear that it is the question of origins that haunts the subject here. Florentin’s “terror” is at the lack of causation—the endless deferral of paternity from “paters” to “brothers,” etc.—at the very core of his being. He is to himself a kind of ghost child, an imperfect, noncausal object. And of course his own unborn child is a ghost—the abortion re­ turns the child to quasi-objecthood, and, to hear Florentin tell the story, it does much the same to him. When he finds out “my little girl” (meine Kleine) is expecting, he substitutes himself for the child to some extent (Auf das Kind bezog ich alles), in particular his own (lack of) childhood for this child’s birth, reflecting “how I wanted to enjoy my childhood, which I had missed, through this child.”89 As we saw earlier, there is a self-reflexive element to Florentin’s em­ phasis on spectral children, for Dorothea clearly conceived of her novel as something of a “child.” Dorothea wrote the book over “a nine months gestation period stretching from October 1799 to May 1800”90 and on sev­ eral occasions characterized the book as her “son.”91 Just as Friedrich’s Wilhelmine allegorizes not only the androgyne but more importantly the


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androgynous novel Lucinde itself,92 so Florentin’s abortive fashioning of his autopoetic ground clearly contains a parodic allegory of male fantasies of self-making through art.93 The figure of the ghost child that is lack­ ing precisely in causation casts into confusion the autotelic subject-work of Lucinde. Indeed, this parodic strand runs through the entire novel. It starts with Florentin himself, who hopes to (re-)create himself by discov­ ering his origins but finds only language. We have the expectant father Florentin who gets an unwelcome reminder that (physical) autopoiesis is a feminine power. And last we are confronted with the Marquise’s spec­ tral child who again disappears in the moment of the (actual or physical) creation of a new something. If the metaphysical thought on gender since before Plato can be un­ derstood as an attempt to wrest from women their uncanny power to re­ produce by creating a system of metaphoric, spiritual begetting (e.g., of souls in Plato) meant to obviate the biological power of women, then a ghost child is not so much metaphor or allegory as simply an expression of a profoundly androcentric hope for a procreation that could proceed entirely by way of the transcendental aesthetic, without the distracting detour through a woman’s womb. And it is not surprising that this ghostly wish fulfillment cannot furnish its own cause and in the moment of the actual production of newness vanishes into thin air. All of Florentin’s ghost children (not least of all the main character himself) are causally chal­ lenged in this way—they cannot cause, or cannot show their own causes. To understand the marital relationship, the erotic relationship, or repro­ duction in terms of the relationship between the subject and the objects it constitutes for itself creates nothing but ghost children, because physical causation and the causation of objects of appearance are different. Fried­ rich and his friends had essentially translated the physical creation of a child that “unites” the parents into the metaphysical creation of the “com­ plete whole” of the love relation. Dorothea follows the same trajectory, but rather than mapping one unification onto the other, she insists that both birth and love union, if they are to generate something real and new, produce something that is distinct from those that produced it, something that has a life of its own, something that may be hostile, uncomfortable, and uncanny.

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Marriage and Mediation: The Product among the Idealists


chleiermacher’s accounts of his cohabitation, his “marriage,” with Schlegel border on the idyllic: mornings spent conversing over coffee, dinners over wine, and a shared stash of “exquisite” apples. But in a letter to his sister Charlotte from the same period, Schleiermacher intimates that this connubial bliss was not without its conflicts: Schlegel seemed determined to turn their cohabitation into “symphilosophy” and pressured Schleiermacher to produce articles, novels, fragments. As one biographer has noted, however, the latter, who was a reticent publisher at the best of times, seems to have been pushed by this pressure into ever greater unproductivity.1 When recounting to Charlotte the details of an impromptu birthday party (1796, Schleiermacher turned twenty-nine), Schleier­ macher related the following episode: Schlegel played a little joke on me, when he got the others to chime in in favor of his suggestion that I should now be very productive, that is to say, write books. Twenty-nine years, and still nothing accomplished! He wouldn’t be quiet about it, and I actually had to raise my hand and promise that I would write something of my own this year—a promise that is weighing heavily on me, since I have no disposition to writing.2

If the demand of productivity “weighed heavily” on Schleiermacher, that unease made its way into the only product of Schleiermacher’s to appear during their “marriage.” When that text celebrates the unproductivity of “free sociality,” Schleiermacher takes as its inspiration not the connubial morning coffees at the Oranienburger Tor but rather the salons of Henriette Herz and others — in pointed distinction to the hypermasculine


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productivity of Schlegel’s proposal of a Romantic “symphilosophy.”3 Schlegel himself certainly realized this, and his jealousy vis-à-vis Henriette stemmed in no small part from that fact. But as we saw in the preceding chapter, Schlegel’s jealousy masks a more general problem, one that previous chapters have only hinted at: the problem of the product. Schleiermacher champions a kind of social union that is profoundly unproductive, to the point that it cannot, as it were, produce itself (as a self); Schlegel on the other hand is a champion of the “sym” that would constitute the realization of an anterior (in fact primordial) essence. This problem emerges from the fact that for much of modern Western thought sexual difference does not constitute “one difference” among many but comes to signify instead difference tout court. If all other divisions, fault lines, or incompatibilities can be mapped onto the distinction between the sexes, then what is left once that distinction seems to have been successfully elided? A thinking that regards this elision as possible, in other words, falls victim to its own successes: The model derived its explanatory productivity, its protean willingness to furnish analogies for just about anything, from the fact that it promises to make two seemingly incompatible terms whole—but once it has accomplished the union of the sexes, its former nimbleness and flexibility turn incredibly rigid. In outlining the problem of productivity in early Romantic and Idealist theories of marital and sexual unification, we will focus on the third wheel of the strange Berlin ménage à trois, Friedrich Schleiermacher. Two other thinkers in particular reflect on the problem of the product. In the last chapter, we saw how Franz von Baader gave the problem perhaps its most explicit and sustained articulation; this chapter will show how G. W. F. Hegel, gradually came to abandon the central premises of the early Idealist metaphysics of marriage and instead empowered the product that had haunted his early Idealist colleagues. The product featured prominently in the general outlines of his philosophical project—the denial of the transcendence of the absolute, the dialectic of alienation, the dialecticization of the form of judgment—but it comes to animate Hegel’s account of the logic of marriage in the mature system as well.

Communication as Nonidentity: F. D. E. Schleiermacher When Friedrich Schlegel exhorted his roommate to produce, claiming that he had “not yet made anything,” he was hoping to conscript Schleier­

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macher into writing fragments for the Athenäum, the journal Friedrich and August Wilhelm Schlegel edited and of which six issues appeared between 1798 and 1800. Schleiermacher dutifully produced fragments for Schlegel, but his most important writings of the period—both texts included in the Athenäum and texts published elsewhere — constitute at times pointed critiques of Schlegel’s theories of friendship and sexuality. At least when it came to marriages, it seems, Schleiermacher found himself under the sway less of the mutual symphilosophizing with his roommate than of that of the salonnières across town. Schleiermacher’s conceptions of community and communication owe much to his pushy roommate at the Oranienburger Tor, but they owe a second and (to Schlegel’s annoyance) perhaps more pronounced debt to a different kind of “symphilosophy.” It is therefore worth taking a closer look at the kind of thinking, communication, and collaboration practiced there. The nominal host, Markus Herz, was born in Berlin in 1747. While studying medicine in Königsberg in the late 1760s, he attended the lectures of an unknown irregular professor (Privatdozent) and librarian named Immanuel Kant. Herz quickly became Kant’s favorite student, and in 1770, with Kant a newly minted full professor, Herz headed back to Berlin with a letter of recommendation from Kant to Moses Mendelssohn. He joined Berlin’s Jewish Hospital on the Oranienburger Straße, Germany’s only Jewish-run hospital at the time, and soon became its director. In 1779, he married Henriette, the fifteen-year-old daughter of his predecessor. Though their marriage was not particularly loving, Herz insisted that his wife be educated and independent, and she took to both learning and independence with relish. In the 1780s, the two began their salon, drawing mostly from the ranks of Markus’s many patients and intellectual interlocutors. Originally sex-segregated, with men and women meeting separately in adjoining rooms of their home, the salon soon convened men and women together on Spandauer Straße (near today’s Alexanderplatz). By the time the protagonists of early Idealism and Romanticism circulated in this salon, these two groups had merged and expanded into perhaps the most heterogeneous of Berlin literary salons. Here the roommates from the Oranienburger Tor rubbed shoulders with the brothers Humboldt, Jean Paul, Sophie Mereau, and at certain times Fichte. While they are the best remembered among Henriette and Markus’s guests, the Young Turks of German philosophy were only a small subset of the salon’s attendees. Besides philosophers and poets the salon brought together politicians and businessmen, academics and artists — even the


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younger brothers of King Friedrich Wilhelm III made an occasional appearance. Philosophically the attendees came from different backgrounds as well: Henriette’s set represented the world of “storm and stress” and nascent Romanticism, but her husband, Kant’s favorite student and friend to Moses Mendelssohn, remained steadfastly in the thrall of Berlin’s Enlightenment traditions. He and his friends tended to ridicule what they regarded as the Romantics’ incomprehensibility. On one occasion, as Henriette gushed to him over the profundity of Novalis, Herz asked her to explain a particular passage. When she admitted that she didn’t understand it, he replied “with a sarcastic smile”: “And you think that this little man [Männchen] actually understood [the passage] himself?”4 The kind of exchange and communication that took place at Herz’s salon, and that was held in such esteem by Schleiermacher, thus had to bridge really quite considerable chasms—vast differences of philosophical outlook, religious conviction, social standing, and not least of all gender. Where Romantic “symphilosophy,” for all its talk about tarrying with contradiction, actually sprang from a fairly uniform set of courses of reading and philosophical impulses, the attendees of Markus and Henriette’s salon often had precious little common ground on which to meet. What is more, as Henriette makes clear in her recollections, she understood that she could not change her husband’s mind—a friend of Kant’s, Mendelssohn’s, and Lessing’s, he would never take an interest in the “little man” Novalis. While Schlegel’s symphilosophy tended to identify his thoughts and premises with those of his Romantic brethren, the differences between the guests of the Herz household were in some respects irreducible. One had to communicate around them, through them; no ecstatic oneness, no “sym-prayer” could bring them together. In choosing to extol this kind of communicative environment, Schleiermacher already implicitly parted ways with Schlegel. Schlegel’s joke about Schleiermacher’s supposed unproductivity makes sense only against that backdrop: with Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt, Sophie Mereau-Brentano, Jean Paul, the brothers Schlegel, and Dorothea Veit-Schlegel all convened at Henriette Herz’s salon, Schleier­ macher tended to fade into the background. However, only when compared with those peers can Schleiermacher’s output during the years in question be considered paltry. Besides numerous abortive editorial and translation projects, Schleiermacher wrote a number of fragments for the Athenäum, among them the famous “Catechism of Reason for High-Minded Women,” an essay “Toward a Theory of Sociable Conduct,” a collection Confidential

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Letters on Schlegel’s Lucinde, and finally in 1799 his lectures On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers. While none of these texts deals explicitly with marriage, they all deal with resources a Romantic metaphysics of marriage had to draw on: the relationship between the sexes, the contiguity between love and other forms of community, and the question of the role of coupledom in politics. Much of Schleiermacher’s work of those years revolved around a critique of Fichte, whose Idealism he regarded as overly subjective. Instead of absolute unification of I and Not-I, Schleiermacher was interested in preserving internal difference. The subject was not to be total master of its world; rather subjectivity also required what Schleiermacher would later term the “feeling of absolute dependence” (schlechthinniges Abhängigkeitsgefühl  ).5 Accordingly, his theories of love and marriage differed quite substantially from those of Fichte and his followers. Although it postdates the other works under discussion here by a number of years, Schleiermacher’s Outlines of a Critique of the Doctrine of Morals up to the Present (Grundlinien einer Kritik der bisherigen Sit‑ tenlehre, 1803) highlights the relationship of the theories of sexuality espoused in Schleiermacher’s Berlin writings to those of Kant and Fichte. In the Outlines (first drafts of which Schleiermacher appears to have worked on even before setting to work on the Confidential Letters),6 Schleier­ macher attacks both Kant’s and Fichte’s theories of love and marriage as profoundly dualistic. In Kant’s case, the nature of the charge is easy to see: Kant’s theory of marriage never attempts to ground the institution in love; rather, sexual attraction, as we saw in chapter 1, is the irritant that requires the institution of marriage. Behind this theory thus lurks a stark dualism, a doctrine of human “dual citizenship.” We are compelled to physical love, which, if not sublimated into a sittlich state through contract, will reduce us to the state of animals. For Kant, then, marriage is an effect of reason, not primarily of love. What is more, Kant has to distinguish sharply between physical and spiritual love. Third, Kant reduces the capabilities that make us specifically human (and that he regards as under threat in physical love) to those purely concerned with reason—all that is not reason in human romantic life is part of our animal nature. Schleiermacher in particular champions the free imagination of “fantasy,”7 which obviously has a central role to play in spiritual love. Fichte’s theory of marriage is of course quite different; nevertheless it maintains one central tenet of Kant’s account, namely, the antidotal character of marriage (or, for Fichte, love and marriage). Schleiermacher


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seems to criticize the same kind of dualism in Fichte: in the woman, the sexual drive has to “die” and “be resurrected” as love; and man is enjoined, by woman’s submission, into his own (voluntary rather than instinctual) mortification of the flesh.8 Fichte’s attempt at a unification of physical and spiritual love is thus a sham. The linchpin of his identification is the contention that “naturally” one natural instinct undergoes transformation into another “ethical” (sittlich) one in the female sex.9 While he does not make it explicit in the Outlines, Schleiermacher seems to see a second problem in both Kant and Fichte: the relationship between love on the one hand and other forms of social togetherness, such as friendship and community, on the other. The purely responsive nature of the ethicization effected in and through love does not allow for any contiguity with other forms of association. When Schleiermacher elsewhere understands love as the desire to produce community,10 it is clear that he is concerned with far more than the sexual relationship, and that its ethical nature (Sittlichkeit) does not derive from the need to transform a sexual impulse external to it but rather constitutes an outward motion of love itself. As we saw in chapter 1, both Fichte and Kant construed the love relation (or Kant, the marriage relation) as fundamentally incongruent with other forms of sociality. The lack of dignity that requires adducing love (by Fichte) and marriage (by Kant) as a remedy arises exclusively from the sexual relation. In Fichte, the asymmetry of “dignity” that made love, and by extension marriage, necessary flowed from the “passivity” involved (for women) in sexual congress. And while in Kant, as some have suggested, the marriage “contract” may indeed figure as simply a paradigmatic case of acceptably making people one’s objects, Kant never explicitly makes that connection.11 Schleiermacher, on the other hand, predicates his entire theory on the essential likeness of marriage and other forms of sociality, in particular community and religion. In both the problems it addresses and how it addresses them, marriage is fundamentally like other forms of sociality, and, by consequence, love is not categorically different from friendship,12 fellowship, or faith.13 As we shall see in the next chapter, Sophie Mereau expressed at the very outset of the marital metaphysics inaugurated by Fichte a similar discomfort with the insularity that goes along with this absolute autonomization of the love relation. If marriage is a consequence only of the love relation, she worried, then where is its social and political efficacy? How could the empowerment of the interpersonal bond contained in love be translated into a wholesale transformation of the political world? What, in

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other words, is the relation between the “absolute family” and the French Revolution? Fichte had provided a very attractive formula for the overcoming of social divisions, when he defined marriage as the “complete unification” of two persons, “which is its own end.” But he had grounded this formula in a way that made it impossible to transfer it to more than two people, to nonerotic or even just nonsexual relationships. Of course, an institution, such as a household, a salon, or a polis, might be characterized in the terms Fichte applies to marriage (autonomy from the state, severance from the sphere of positive religion, etc.), but the justification provided in the “Deduction of Marriage” would be entirely useless in explaining or vindicating that kind of characterization. By placing the couple always already in correspondence to other forms of sociality, Schleiermacher also questions the notion of the “complete unification” of two persons. While the melting of two into one may be an attractive and perhaps even plausible way of describing erotic love, it seems a very strange way to characterize a larger group, a circle of friends or a religious congregation. In the texts written during his cohabitation with Schlegel, he therefore shifted his focus from rhapsodic celebration of a unification in a higher humanity (à la Lucinde) to the internal differences that are preserved even in groups that “become one.” As a result, he puts a new spin on Fichte’s formula of the “complete unification.” Marriage à la Fichte did not have its point in a product, except in one very central way: the unification was to produce a new One out of the antecedent two. The assertion that marriage was its own end meant that marriage essentially produced itself. This is precisely where Schleiermacher subtly parts company with Fichte. He insists that love does not produce a unit, that it does not have reproduction, even its own, as its end. Because it has no essence but rather thrives on difference, love also does not have a product. Because it at heart concerns communication, it has no essence to (re)produce. In chapter 2, we saw that for many of the thinkers of early Romanticism there is a “sexual homelessness” to go along with our transcendental homelessness in modernity, and that sex roles and /or gender identities are themselves indexes of that homelessness. It is this account of “sexual homelessness” that furnishes two important concepts of early German Romanticism: (1) the concept of an original and utopian androgyny and (2) the concept of shame, which attains the utmost importance in this context. The shame that subjects feel about their bodily sexedness is not simply instinct or custom—it constitutes an intuition of the subject’s diremption


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from primordial androgyny. Shame, on this picture, is always a correlate of sex—because desire is the sentimental nostalgia for androgynous naivety. While divine love effects a rescission of all social opposition through feeling, the feeling that is proper to the individual (that is, my love) threatens to absolutize rather than negate the opposition. “Shame,” writes Hegel, is precisely “the fury of love over [the fact of] individuality.”14 Shame is thus not a feeling the individual has vis-à-vis love, but rather a feeling love has vis-à-vis the individual. Love is offended by the individual that believes the feeling to be properly his or hers, rather than that of “the living” itself. Shame and shamelessness have nothing to do with traditional notions of morality; they have everything to do with free and organic social life unhindered by wanton boundaries and societal fictions. Schleiermacher’s texts on sexuality around the same time undertake a similar critique. It is free sociality, free communication that “shame” (Scham), as Schleiermacher conceives it, designs to pervert. Unlike Hegel, however, whose ideal in the fragments on love and religion is the ancient polis, Schleiermacher in the writings of the late 1790s defends two very specific (and modern) forms of sociality, both of which Schleiermacher was intimately acquainted with. One was the religious brotherhood of the Herrnhutter; the other were the salons with their hitherto unknown interaction across class and sexual lines.15 They are two forms of sociality dependent on and organized around communication—and restrictive gender roles threatened to undercut their utopian project. For Schleiermacher’s concern is not “shame” (Scham), which is concerned with the relationship of sex drive and consciousness; rather it is another term, “bashfulness” (Schaamhaftigkeit), by which he means a willingness to adapt one’s communication to mixed (not just mixed-sex) company.16 Female “shame” is simply a form of self-mutilation; rather than a safeguard of woman’s virtue, it cements her unjustly subaltern status. “Bashfulness” on the other hand obtains in the exchange or “communication” (Mittheilung) between the sexes and denotes not a dissimulation of sexuality but rather respect for the other sex in communicating about it. It is about communicating only on the basis of something that is shared—and Schleiermacher sees that communication under threat from “shame,” the net effect of which is the “segregation of the sexes.”17 The “Catechism of Reason for High-Minded Women” (“Idee zu einem Katechismus der Vernunft für edle Frauen,” 1800), which Schleiermacher included in the Athenäum, finds Schleiermacher trying to overcome the “limits of sex” (Schranken des Geschlechts) that bar women from “the

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infinite” (das Unendliche).18 Liberating ourselves from those “limits” would enable us to return (albeit asymptotically) to that “infinite humanity which existed before it assumed the guise of masculinity and femininity.”19 It is easy to read this overcoming of sexual roles as a renunciation of sexedness in general, in line with Baader’s understanding of the androgynous character of salvation, and the identity of sexedness and the fall from grace. But this is not Schleiermacher’s intent. In contrast to Hegel, shame for Schleiermacher is not the individual’s feeling of apostasy before the majesty of “infinite humanity.”20 The individual (that is to say, the sexed individual) cannot be left behind, as Hegel seems to want to claim in his fragment on love. The same emphasis on the individual places Schleier­ macher in partial opposition to his “husband” Friedrich Schlegel, to whom this model seems otherwise deeply indebted. As Kurt Nowak points out, Schleiermacher is loath to set his hopes in either the playful switching of roles (“chaos”) or their speculative supersession and dissolution in an absolute androgyny.21 While Schleiermacher at times seems to echo Hegel’s sentiment, identifying the “segregation of the sexes” as a central form of social alienation, he also thinks that the community and the sexual relationship both create a unity that does not expunge the individual elements united in it. Shame, on Hegel’s picture, concerned the feelings love has through and about us, the particular lovers—and the limits shame vituperates against are indeed ontological boundaries. For Schleiermacher, on the other hand, difference is an inevitable part of free association; the limits of sex that give rise to a false sense of shame are limits on communication. Schleiermacher integrates his discussion of love into an account of “free sociality” in general, a catchall by which he means to integrate the Berlin salons with the prayer meetings of Herrnhut, the Platonic “marriage” with Schlegel, and the decidedly physical affair between Friedrich Schlegel and Dorothea Veit. The common denominator that allows him to analogize love and religious community, sexual attraction and intellectual fellow feeling, is communication. All forms of sociality, whether they are also erotic or not, are primarily concerned with a sense of unity-in-difference, or difference-in-unity, which has taken the place of the “complete unification” of Fichte and Schlegel. Schleiermacher’s “Toward a Theory of Sociable Conduct” appeared anonymously in the Berlinisches Archiv der Zeit und ihres Geschmacks in 1799. Ostensibly a critique of Enlightenment theories of fellowship, in particular those of Adoph Freiherr Knigge (1752–96), the short article is perhaps better characterized as a paean to the kind of social networks


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Schleiermacher encountered in the Berlin salons. That the most famous of these salons were anchored by women almost by necessity pushed gender to the forefront of Schleiermacher’s considerations. The aim of the essay is to provide a framework for “free sociality,” a collection of people who join together entirely of their own accord, without any external end or motivation. Free sociality is autonomous in much the same way marriage is, according to Humboldt, Mereau, and Fichte. It is freely chosen, rather than being dictated by the accidents of birth and station or beholden to the mercantile interests of bourgeois civil society. Two questions occupy Schleiermacher in the essay, even though he makes neither of them fully explicit: (1) What is the nature of an association that has no identifiable end, but is rather an autonomous end in itself? (2) How does one transform oneself in order to join such an association, and how is that association transformed by one’s joining? These questions concern the fate of subjective autonomy under the sway of community: are we to deny ourselves in order to join a social group or are we conversely to subordinate that social group to our own individual whims? Schleiermacher puts this in very Fichtean terms. He identifies two principles, “I will impress my character [upon the community]” and “I will assume the character of the community,” both of which need to be unified “in a single action” (Handlungsweise), if sociable conduct is to be possible at all. His solution is just as Fichtean. He introduces a distinction that reveals the seeming incompatibility of the two principles as a mere surface-level inconsistency, namely, between the “content” or “matter” (Stoff    ) of a person (what that person knows, does, wants) and the “form” or “manner” (Manier). By “manner” he means in essence what Kant defines as “character”: not the content of our representations, but their organization, the way the content is “treated, connected, developed, and communicated.”22 In the case of the individual, Schleiermacher argues, the “manner” is more important than the “matter”—but in the case of communities, the opposite is true. An individual becomes what he or she is by virtue of his or her character; a community becomes what it is by dint of what it is about. In joining a free community I consign myself to submit to this essence, this “matter” (Schleiermacher calls this “the tone” [der Ton]), but the community is in return obligated to respect the full range of my “proper manner.”23 It is these bases of communication that a community depends on, not on a set of core beliefs, attitudes, or dispositions. “Shame,” on Schleiermacher’s picture, turns out to concern a lapse in those very bases of communication: what we need to speak about, we can’t.

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This emphasis on the “tone” of communication entails a vindication of the individual over and against the unification enacted in the love relationship. To be sure, Schleiermacher regards the “segregation of the sexes” as deeply problematic, but his problematization of sexual difference is by no means total. The very need to speak about love allows Schleiermacher to limit his critique of sexual difference. Communication is of such prime importance because it allows him to conceive of individual and totality as “mutually determining concepts” (Wechselbegriffe) in the Fichtean sense. Far from advocating an androgynous oneness as the panacea for sexual homelessness (as Schlegel at times seems to do), Schleiermacher resists sex roles only insofar as they inhibit the free and total communication that he takes to be the common thread among love, religion, and communal life. This emphasis on communication runs through much of Schleiermacher’s writing of the time. The religious Gemeine is to revolve around spoken conversation rather than the dead letter of the religious text; and the texts in which Schleiermacher first makes this point are of course speeches, namely, the lectures On Religion. Not unlike Hegel’s critique of “positive” religious doctrine, the point seems to be that voiced communication can articulate difference, can mediate between particular and universal, whereas the written commandment brutally beats the particular into conformity with the universal. The free sociality that characterizes salon, Ge‑ meine, and love has its essence in not really having an essence. It is only insofar as they can maintain their autonomy that individual participants in these formations can be said to meaningfully participate in them at all. In this sense, the fact that Schleiermacher has to give “speeches” on religion is not accidental: conversation becomes the paradigm for the mutability of a communication that cannot be condensed into one predetermined essence. There exists, Schleiermacher claims, a temptation to read the community simply as that sum of characteristics that is shared by all its members. In order to determine what kind of community something is (bestimmen, as Schleiermacher puts it), we simply look at what all its members have in common, usually in terms of external trappings. But this, as Schleier­ macher points out, does not remove the community from bourgeois profes­ sional association, but rather simply mimics it—which makes this a “lower level [Stufe]” of community.24 After all, it is the “final end” (Endzweck) of all communal life to “remove man for a while from the aspect of the profession.”25 True sociability flows not from similarity or identity but rather from difference. The “more homogeneous” the members of a community are, the more their conversation will remain limited to that one shared


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trait, while only “more heterogeneous” communities tend to turn their conversation to politics. Schleiermacher here is ostensibly referring to homogeneity and heterogeneity in terms of profession, but the fact that women feature prominently in the explanation he provides points to the fact that he is thinking more broadly in terms of social position. The scenario Schleiermacher proposes is the following: a few academics, a few businessmen, and a few women get together, and this mixed company (naturally) turns to discussing politics, only to then disaggregate into three separate groups according “to their estate,” the academics presumably discussing philosophy, the businessmen the nature of business, while the women turn to the eighteenth-century equivalent of coupon clipping. The metaphor of “disaggregation” to describe this process is in fact Schleiermacher’s. He speaks of the process as one of atomic decomposition, the formation of “small circles [that] crystallize by virtue of chemical similarity.”26 Schlegel and Novalis had both turned to chemistry to articulate the affinities that allowed organic larger wholes to emerge from particulars, precisely because they were “originally” (that is, before they were particularized) identical in some “absolute” aspects. Unlike physics (and mechanics), chemistry managed to comprise the entirety of the cosmos in one all-encompassing essence. Chemical similarity and affinity thus subtended the Neoplatonic fantasies of unification in early Romanticism. Schleiermacher, by contrast, thinks of such primordial identity as the enemy of communication: only where such identity is pushed aside can sociable conduct be genuinely free. Apart from the fact that (with a few obvious alterations) this process of decomposition should be uncomfortably familiar to most modern-day academics, Schleiermacher’s illustration is striking for its invocation of civil society as a “second nature.” “Chemically,” human communal life tends to unfold in a particular, prescribed way; free sociality pushes past affinity to truly elective (that is to say, autonomous) association. It frees human beings from the bondage of the identical and atomized social group; it allows them to articulate those aspects of their identity that are not simply commensurable with their civil position, social role, or gender identity. In fact, Schleiermacher opposes free sociality to “civil position” (bürgerliche Lage).27 One is a citizen only insofar as one abstracts from certain incommensurable features, but one belongs to a community only by virtue of these very features. It is thus not surprising that Schleiermacher designates women as the vanguard of free sociality—for they do not have any civil role at all. Amongst their peers, men’s sociality is unfree in the sense that it cannot range beyond the narrow common ground furnished by so-

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cial position; but they are “at least free on one side, namely, the domestic,”28 whereas women’s self-seclusion is a double affront to their dignity. Not only must they speak to each other only of what they share; what they share is a source not of pride but only privation. The unions instituted in free sociality are thus explicitly “uncivil,” and women are their harbingers precisely because they do not have the status of citizens (or the sense to talk politics, according to Schleiermacher). More important, however, they are unions that do not realize an anterior essence but rather thrive on difference. Schleiermacher views the existence of a tertium comparationis with suspicion, as it reminds him of the atomism of civil society. Truly free sociality has to be open-ended; otherwise it will acquire the haut goût of membership, purposiveness, and mechanism. To frame it perhaps in unduly Hegelian terms, all that is given and immediate in sociality must be sublated in free sociality: the givens of first nature (accidents of birth and family), as well as those of second nature (accidents of sex, class, nationality, and status). Free sociality, on this account, occupies a position beyond either oikos or polis. It is liberated from the strictures of subsistence, but at the same time it is liberated from what Kant called the “public” use of reason.29 Schleiermacher is thus not joining in an Arendtian encomium of public political deliberation divorced from the strictures of day-to-day survival; rather the political nature of universal deliberation is itself a defect. The inevitable turn toward politics in “heterogeneous” conversation is a somewhat unfortunate necessity, and Schleiermacher appears to hold out hope for a heterogeneous conversation that would not be limited to the political. The Confidential Letters on Friedrich Schlegel’s Lucinde (1800) identify one area in which Schleiermacher seems to have put particular hope in the salubrious effects of heterogeneous conversation—love. If in everyday conversation (outside of “free sociality,” at least) politics is the thing “mixed” (and that means in particular mixed-sex) groups can most effectively have exchanges about, then love is the thing they can least effectively have exchanges about. The situation that the second of the Confidential Letters (written by the anonymous editor to his sister) describes is the following: love is a topic about which men and women must converse, but about which, owing to the artificial strictures of shame, they are usually compelled to remain silent to each other. The “Theory of Sociable Conduct” pointed out that women have no proper (public or civil) profession on which they can ground their communication. The Confidential Letters makes clear that love is precisely that feminine profession, and that men depend on women to explain love to them: “In this helplessness, who are


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the men meant to turn to, if not noble women, whose profession after all is nothing other than love?”30 In pleading with his sister Ernestine to follow “your calling/profession for speech,”31 the editor of the Letters provides two slightly variant explanations as to why female input in the discourse over love is so crucial. At times, he suggests a Rousseauist picture, in which women’s “calling” and/or social role (the double meaning of Beruf    ) is to impart love to men who are themselves incapable of understanding it. At others, he claims simply that men by themselves know only half the story and need to hear the other half in order to discourse effectively about love at all. He calls on his sister to get involved, reminding her that “you have done so in the case of literary, moral, and political topics, which were much further from your interests than this one [i.e., love] and with which we men could have come to grips by ourselves, which [in the case of love] is completely impossible.”32 It is important to note that of course this does not turn the sociality instituted by the discourse of love into an end-directed one—it is not a research colloquium on human sexuality, so to speak, because its object is inexhaustible and discourse on it can never come to any kind of close, can never turn “positive” in Hegel’s sense. “Love is an infinite object of reflection, and we shall have to reflect on it ad infinitum, and reflection doesn’t take place without communication, specifically between those who by their nature see different sides of [love].”33 Reflection requires free communicative sociality, which in turn requires heterogeneity among its participants. Here, then, sexual difference is far from a limit or a barrier (its implicit role in Hegel’s fragment on love) but functions rather as a “natural” difference that alone can furnish the heterogeneity necessary for any discussion of the mysteries of love. Love and friendship, on Schleiermacher’s account, are not that dissimilar. Granted, Schleiermacher asserts that “love’s object is to make one out of two, while friendship’s object makes two out of one”;34 but his vision of the love relation as one of “free sociality” clearly suggests that difference, that two-ness is an important part of love as well. In Paul Kluckhohn’s formulation: Schleiermacher concludes “that love necessarily includes friendship,” but “not the reverse.”35 This complicates the politics of love: while Hegel’s and Hölderlin’s writings of the same period conceptualize love’s political valence as one of pure unification, as the mending of the wanton divisions imposed by civil society and positive religion, Schleiermacher sees love’s politics as imbued rather with a sense of unity as well as difference. Because he gives unification a communicative valence, he inscribes difference at the heart of that unification. If, as Foucault has argued, the

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politics of (sexual) love are redolent with the phantasm of complete unification with the other,36 then Schleiermacher checks that phantasm with a countervailing drive toward difference in love—a politics of friendshipin-love. As Marc Shell has shown,37 the politics of familial love often depended on determining a distinct essence and then excluding whatever did not partake of that essence. Here, too, Schleiermacher’s rejection of the instinctual, the biological or chemical family, which requires no communication owing to a shared essence, and his emphasis on the elective element in community and eroticism, which depends on communicability and communication, prevent the phantasm of the shared essence, of the tertium comparationis, from asserting itself. If Schleiermacher made dynamic the unification that had obsessed the metaphysics of sex and marriage, he outlined the trajectory subsequently taken by others who were still very much in the thrall of ecstatic unification by 1800. Without being directly inspired by Schleiermacher, they too began locating difference and dialogue in the oneness produced in sexual or marital unification. Just as that unity had been called by as many names as there were thinkers theorizing it, that difference and dialogue could vary in name and even shape quite considerably. The following section will outline one example, Hegel’s dialecticization of marital unity, but similar stories could be told for other protagonists of this study. In Hegel, however, the transition is particularly pronounced. In the period immediately following Schleiermacher’s works on love and community, Hegel seemed to turn away from questions of love and community altogether. Hegel’s early thought had been obsessed with communities, families, and loving couples, be they religiously inflected or political. References to love, family, and marriage dwindle considerably in the period in which Hegel transitioned to what was to become his mature system. As the following section will show, however, while Hegel’s philosophy as a whole shifted away from the erotic philosophy of his Frankfurt years, questions of love and family remained. The way in which they remained and the shifts they underwent trace out German Idealism’s path away from the metaphysics of marriage.

From Judgment to Syllogism: G. W. F. Hegel and the Metaphysics of Marriage after 1801 While an active participant in the metaphysical discourse of marriage among the early Idealists, and while personally acquainted with most of


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the other protagonists of this study, Hegel had remained rather marginal to the early Berlin and Jena circles described in this chapter. Through Hölderlin and Schelling, his roommates from the Tübingen Stift, he was kept abreast of their work, but for financial reasons he was forced to spend much of the 1790s far from the university, making a living as a private tutor first in faraway Bern, then in Frankfurt. Conversely, many of the figures under consideration here, with the obvious exception of the members of Hölderlin’s Frankfurt circle, seem to have been unaware of the details of Hegel’s own philosophical project. Hegel wrote voluminously but published little to nothing. If he was noticed it was as an acolyte of Schelling, and it was as an acolyte of Schelling that he finally came to Jena. Hegel arrived there in January 1801 to become a Privatdozent, to lecture alongside Schelling, and to coedit the Critical Journal of Philosophy (Kritisches Journal der Philosophie), rooming once again with his old friend. Hegel thus overlapped with the Romantic circle around the Schlegel brothers for about a year. Friedrich and Dorothea Schlegel left Jena later that year; Schelling himself left to accept a position in Würzburg in 1803, having begun an affair with and eventually marrying the wife of August Wilhelm Schlegel. As Hegel began his steady climb toward becoming an Extraordinary Professor at Jena, he began to articulate his own conception of a system of absolute Idealism, increasingly in opposition to the conception proffered by Schelling. By the time Hegel himself left Jena behind, for another few years in the wilderness writing for journals and teaching high school in Bamberg and later Nürnberg, he had completed the work he would become most identified with: the Phenomenology of Spirit (Phä‑ nomenologie des Geistes, 1807). The years between Hegel’s arrival in Jena in 1801 and his departure in March of 1807 mark the period of dissolution of the metaphysics of marriage. It was in Jena that Hegel elaborated a system that decisively broke with the philosophemes of early Idealism and its Romantic cognates, and it was here that he found his own path past the impasses of the metaphysics of marriage. Left to his own philosophical devices, Hegel was free to express misgivings about Schelling’s philosophy that he had previously kept to himself, to say nothing about Schlegel’s and Schelling’s marital infidelities, which Hegel appears to have frowned upon from the start. This is one reason to look at Hegel’s development from 1801 onward: Hegel accomplished, in a well-documented and incremental manner, the turn away from the metaphysics of marriage that Schlegel performed with a whiplashinducing zigzag ending in Catholicism, and that Hölderlin and Novalis did

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not live to complete. The more important reason to chart Hegel’s development through his thinking on marriage and the family is that his development away from the metaphysics of marriage proceeded by way of an empowerment of the product. Not only did Hegel turn away from the marital discourses of his youth, he exploded them using the very concept that had haunted them, the uncanny, not-quite-objective third term. How did Hegel empower the product, and where did its power derive from? The tension that runs through the social philosophy of love characteristic of the Jena Romantics and the first-generation German Idealists can be understood as that between the monism of Vereinigungsphilosophie on the one hand, and the vindication of the individual on the other, between unity and internal difference. Schleiermacher, as we saw, resolves this tension between a totality and its internal articulation by turning individual and whole into “mutually determining concepts”: love unites two individuals into one unit, but because this love requires communication, the doubleness of the lovers is always already inscribed into that unity. Hegel’s mature system has a different resolution to offer: it proposes a totality (the Concept) that determines itself, developing the particulars out of its own internal differentiation. Hegel’s system maintains the earlier critiques of the Urtheil, but he moves explicitly away from the idea that transcending its limitation commits one to leaving philosophical reason behind. Instead, he argued that its defects could be addressed in another logic, that of the syllogism (Schluß). The move from the Urtheil to the Schluß as the paradigmatic operation of philosophy entails in Hegel’s thought a new conceptual basis for marriage as well. Most centrally, Hegel’s mature system once again distinguishes between love and marriage, their autonomy is justified and conceptualized altogether differently, and the relationship between love and marriage is construed in ways that point decisively beyond the early Idealist and Romantic metaphysics of marriage. The claim that the German Idealist and Romantic metaphysicians of marriage thought that the unification effected in marriage could be explicated by reference to the form of a judgment has constituted the Ariadne’s thread of our investigation. In developing a monistic metaphysics of marriage, a particular group of German Idealists and Romantics drew on the logical form of the judgment to articulate the internal structure of the marital or love relation, and to explain how love could be seen to overcome the “segregation” of the particular in a manner analogous to the mysterious faculty called “intellectual intuition.” In general, this move was motivated by a desire to establish marriage as (a) autonomous and


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(b) a relation that preceded those particulars that were related in it. The nature and justification of this likeness flowed directly from the monistic metaphysics espoused by the thinkers. No one made this systematic justification more explicit than Hegel. For Kant and any Kantian, the judgment was not just one among many logical operations38 —after all, Kant’s “transcendental deduction” proceeds from the assumption that all knowledge is spontaneously constituted through judgments unified under an “I think,” which I must be able to attach to all of my representations.39 As we saw, both Fichte and Hölderlin agree with this idea in principle; this is why they understand the division of I and Not-I as a judgment. Both Fichte and Hölderlin also regarded marriage as having a structure analogous to that of the judgment. Hegel, however, is the first to make explicit that this means that marriage has a logical structure that is somehow subjective—for him, this is the subjectivity of the Concept. Of course, the “subjectivity” that the Science of Logic (Wissenschaft der Logik, 1812–16) imputes to the Concept is not a subjectivity as we commonly understand it—not the experience of a subject, which would be face to face with some object (as was the configuration of the Phenomenology of Spirit). Instead, for Hegel the subjectivity of the concept refers primarily to a kind of self-referentiality—it requires no “given” resources outside of itself. The claim to “subjectivity” in the context of the Science of Logic is thus not unlike that of “autonomy” in the works of the early Idealists and the Romantics: the point here as there is to render a formation independent of (anthropological, metaphysical, etc.) bases of justification and determination outside of itself. What is different, of course, is that subjectivity for Hegel does not just abstractly rest in itself—it is self-mediated, capable of giving itself an internal structure (for Hegel the structure of universality, particularity, and individuality). In some covert way a claim very much like this one has underpinned the debates and theories traced in the previous chapters; but the precise features of processual ( judgmental) subjectivity that were taken as determining the logical structure of marriage of course varied from thinker to thinker, as did the exact construal of the character and structure of judgments they relied on. One group focused primarily on what we termed the “politics of the copula.” For them, the judgment is characterized by copulation of two separate entities. However, the thinkers in question understand these entities to be the result rather than the elements of the copulation. The copula “is” in the judgment “A is b” does not “connect” A and b but rather separates

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the two, carves them out by the diremption of an antecedent whole. The return to Seyn requires a faculty that can transcend the particulars and therefore does not proceed by predicative judgment. This faculty could be called “intellectual intuition” or “love.” This is the understanding of the form of judgment current among the majority of the Frühromantiker, including Novalis, Schlegel, and, with some modifications, Schleiermacher, as well as Hölderlin’s Frankfurt circle, including Isaak von Sinclair, Jacob Zwilling, and the young Hegel. The thinkers who base the analogy between judgment and marriage on these particular features of the logical form tend to regard love and marriage as at base a rapport with a totality. The unification of the love/marital partners restores the individuals to a lost original unity. In fact, individuality and subjectivity, on this account, are results of and indexes for the fall from this original plenitude. While Fichte at times has recourse to the same model, and certainly has the same interpretation of the role of the copula, he draws on a different aspect of the form of judgment to model the love relation on, what we might term the presentational aspect of the judgment. This presentational aspect concerns the way in which a judgment, a logical proposition, can model an external reality. This capacity once again relies on a “pullingapart,”40 namely the separation within the sensory manifold of that which determines (the category) and that which is determined by it (data, the A and the b of the judgment “A is b”). Fichte thus sees the separation entailed in judging as necessary, as well as the form/matter relation between the different components of the judgment. Furthermore, he understands this distinction between the determining form and the data to be determined in terms of the I and what he calls the “Not-I.” This changes what precise features a metaphysical theory of marriage borrows from the theory of consciousness: now the unity of the elements depends not only on their antecedent oneness, which is destroyed and restored at once in the Ur-theilung, but moreover on the active determination of one of the relata by the other. This model of marriage requires an inequality and resulting complementarity of the two elements of the relation (i.e., the sexes). Hegel was the first among the metaphysicians of marriage to begin turning away from the judgment as the paradigmatic form of logic, in favor of the Schluss, syllogistic inference. His critique of the Urtheil revolved primarily around two objections: it always presupposes the “blind spot” of the copula; whatever knowledge it furnishes always relies to some extent on something given and is thus not autonomous or absolute.41 Only the syllogism can make visible and comprehensible the structure of


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mediation and the identity of form and content that enables it. The early Hegel, as mentioned above, relied extensively on the logical figure of the judgment—and he also turned to it in order to explain the “love” relation, which he, like many “philosophers of unification,” never bothered to distinguish from marriage. Hegel reintroduces the distinction between love and marriage that the Romantics and their milieu programmatically scrapped. Hegel’s early writings (in general those collected by Hermann Nohl under the misnomer Hegels Theologische Jugendschriften), which essentially cover the entire period from 1794 to 1801, significantly never talk explicitly about marriage at all. Instead, Hegel places great emphasis on love, essentially along the lines of the anti-atomistic “philosophy of unification” of his friend Hölderlin; Hegel at this point still subscribed to the equation of love and marriage that subtends the Romantic metaphysics of marriage. For the later Hegel love remains a matter of feeling (Empfind‑ ung) modeled on the form of judgment, but marriage becomes a matter of will (Willen) modeled on the form of the syllogism. Given the programmatic equation and Hegel’s tacit agreement with it, the moment in which marriage enters as a philosophical term in its own right (and thus implicitly the fissure between love and marriage) attains the utmost importance. Marriage first appears in Hegel’s so-called Jena system drafts, and in a highly interesting guise. First, it appears as family, a connection it would retain until what could be considered Hegel’s definitive statements on the topic in his Elements of the Philosophy of Right nearly twenty years later. More important, however, the system drafts introduce the family as a Mitte, a middle or mediating term, which Hegel usually associates with the structure of the syllogism. In the system draft of 1803/4, Hegel introduces three such “middles” (Mitten): language, work, and the family.42 As Hegel makes clear in his Science of Logic, the most significant transformation in the shift from Urtheil to Schluss involves the role of the copula. The copula of the judgment is undetermined, an indistinct, cosmic positing of unity; its form is merely given, accidental rather than necessary. The medium term of the syllogism, by contrast, specifies to what extent A can be said to be b. This sense of Mitte (medium, medium term) is precisely how Hegel construes the three Mitten of the Jena II drafts. These three “middles” are both medium or means, but also of course “the formal middle of a formal syllogism [eines formalen Schlusses].”43 The Science of Logic distinguishes between different and progressively thicker forms of the syllogism; I will restrict myself here to those features that for Hegel define the syllogism as such.

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In Hegel’s manuscripts, the three “middles” appear between a stage of individual or immediate consciousness and a stage of self-mediating “universal spirit.” They are so called because they mediate between consciousness and “absolute universality.” As long as those two are not entirely reconciled, the unity between the universal and the individual “has to appear as a middle between them, which is the work of both, as the third, to which they both refer, in which they are one, but from which they both are also distinguished.”44 The third such “middle” is the “spirit of the family,” by which Hegel means what would come to constitute the extension of the oikos in the later Philosophy of Right: the family in its property, its progeny, its dynastic character. Hegel insists that marriage is “entirely removed from the concept of a contract” and instead gives the marital partners “a completely common [gemeinsame] existence, not with respect to some kind of individual characteristic, but as complete individuals.” Their unification goes beyond the merely natural, and the “middle” of the family transcends a state in which the union is objectified “through the child, [as] an enduring [dauerndes] moment of the self-recognition in a third thing, . . . but one lasting in itself.” If this third thing is to some extent the product of two terms, it nevertheless does not come to face either term as its straightforward opposite: “For the first time a middle is posited here as it exists in the individuals themselves,”45 that is to say, a middle in which the individuals recognize themselves at least to some extent. What is more, Hegel seems to regard this recognition not as exclusively emotional but rather as a source of propositional knowledge. Hegel describes marriage as the expansion “reason” performs on “enjoyment”46 —in it the individual gets the intimation of an overarching structure, an intimation that is itself a form of knowledge. Hegel thus performs a threefold transition in the Jena drafts: marriage expands into a household and attains a dynastic character; marriage’s “spirit” becomes a “third term” neither fully identical nor fully opposed to its constituent units; and what we learn in marriage is concerned with knowledge rather than affect. While marriage functions as the middle of a syllogism rather than being itself constituted as a syllogism in the Jena drafts, the manuscripts constitute an important departure from Hegel’s early thought on the subject. For the early Idealists, love or marriage returned the individual to the universal; for the Hegel of the Jena drafts, marriage mediates between individual and universal as “a third thing” that affords “self-recognition,” alienation, and demarcation. For the early Idealists, to say nothing of the Romantics, such a “third thing” would have been anathema. The family as “middle”


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reintegrates the subjective feelings and the demands that an institution as such can place on individuals. Since Fichte, the metaphysics of marriage had understood these demands as a symptom of the wrong kind of marriage—“true” marriage would not countenance such tension. But in the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), the main text to emerge from Hegel’s Jena years, the “ethical [sittlich] relation” between family members quite similarly “is no longer feeling [Empfindung] or love” but rather a kind of solidarity cleansed of its merely affective components.47 Natural instinct is necessarily unethical—not because it is bad, but because it is immediate and unreflected. This does not mean that being in a family means being subservient to preexisting structures: What seems to be something found ready-made (ein Vorgefundenes), in this case custom, “is also deed and product [Werk] of the one doing the finding.”48 The relationship between the marital partners, or between parents and children, is not as refined as the one between brothers and sisters, which, divested of its “immediate” component, forces the family members to reflect on their relationship “as a foreign thing with a reality [Wirklichkeit] of its own.” The Phenomenology of Spirit similarly regards the family as the place of “essential opposition of individuality and universality.”49 The Absolute, which Hegel thinks as a “subject” as well as “substance,” determines itself, splitting apart into components that can oppose each other as beings external to one another. The family is in fact characterized by several such oppositions, which exist in harmonious tension in the Edenic state of classical Greece, exacerbate and erupt at a later time (Hegel famously locates this eruption in Sophocles’ Antigone), and reach their greatest degree of disaggregation in bourgeois modernity. The two main oppositions are contained in the subtitle of Hegel’s chapter on the family in the Phe‑ nomenology: “divine” and “human law [Gesetz],” and “man and woman.” “Divine” strictures are those that bind family members to one another and the family “universally,” that is to say, not based on certain characteristics or depending on outside factors—they even bind the individual vis-à-vis his or her dead family members. Where “divine” law commits the individual to the idea of the family beyond “the commotion of accidental life,”50 that is to say, to its dynastic, suprasubjective aspect, “human law” breaks down the dynasty into its individual components, turns them into citizens with individual rights and duties to the state. It is these two kinds of laws that Hegel sees colliding in the story of Antigone—the “positive” autonomy of the family is always under threat of negation by the atomizing tendencies of the wider civil society. The second opposition similarly lines up with the distinction between individual and universal: women, he

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claims, commit themselves to one individual family, feeling love and duty to its members alone; men, on the other hand, as citizens commit themselves to the universal.51 Whatever the changing historical fortunes of the “ethical” (sittlich) unity of the family, the task of the family is to mediate between these two poles of individuality and universality— constellations Hegel in each case refers to as syllogisms (Schlüsse). The family here too is a Mitte in the sense of the Jena drafts: “The unification of man and woman constitutes the active middle of the whole and that element in which these extremes of divine and human law are separated [entzweyt] and immediately unified.”52 “Family” and “syllogism” enter the Hegelian system at the same time; and yet the logic of Urtheil und Seyn has a strange and telling afterlife in Hegel’s philosophy of marriage. Hegel is quite traditional in identifying formal logic with three “subjects” (Gegenstände): concept (Begriff   ), judgment (Urteil), and syllogism (Schluß).53 What is different about Hegel’s construal of these three “subjects” is that he understands them, as the so-called Encyclopedia Logic puts it, as in a relationship that is itself “a matter of logic,”54 that is to say, they are not simply matters of human thinking, but are somehow inherent in the nature of the thing itself. In essence, Hegel argues that Urteil and Schluß are further permutations of the Concept (Begriff   ), and that the Concept has to pass through them in a teleological parcours—Schluß is thus “higher” than Urteil, not merely in the sense that it contains more information than the latter, but in the same way that, say, “absolute knowledge” is superior to “the understanding.” We might indeed characterize Hegel’s development around the turn of the nineteenth century as a move from Urtheil to Schluß. Of course, the young Hegel had never thought quite highly of the judgment but rather made it the central target of his critique. But by virtue of the fact that he persistently contrasted the judgment with extralogical forms of knowledge (life, feeling, love), he nevertheless made it the paradigmatic form of logic. Whatever problems beset the form of the judgment were problems of logic as such; whatever the judgment could not appropriately convey was beyond logic’s power to convey. Starting in 1801, Hegel began rethinking this position. The Absolute no longer transcended the apprehending power of logic, just that of the wrong kind of logic—the correct kind of logic, to which he gave the name reason (Vernunft), proceeded syllogistically.55 This turn to the syllogism was to remain characteristic for Hegel’s mature system(s), culminating in the idea (extended both in the Ency‑ clopedia and at the end of the Science of Logic) that the system is indeed nothing but a “syllogism of syllogisms” (Schluß von Schlüssen),56 that is to


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say, a syllogism in which each term can become the unifying and differentiating Mitte for the two others. This move has its place not only in the genesis of Hegel’s system—the move from judgment to syllogism also takes place in the course of Hegel’s metaphysics (that is to say, his logic) itself; the move from Urteil to Schluß constitutes a progression as the Concept differentiates itself ever more perfectly. The syllogism responds to an imperfection in the judgment: the Schluß is the “fulfillment of the copula.”57 According to Hegel, the form of the judgment springs from the split of the concept into universal and individual, which it contained in nuce already. That means, as Emil Angehm puts it, that “relation of subject and predicate is itself grasped as conceptual— or as concept.”58 What is the defect in this new formation? Hegel’s answer is that it is precisely the copula, with which we dealt extensively in chapter 2. The copula remains simply a given (something the early Idealists both welcomed and worried about, as we saw)—it refers to some ground of which it is an index, something external to the relation of the two terms that grounds their relation. Hegel’s Concept, however, must not draw on any resources outside of itself—it must be subjective, which is to say, self-sufficient and autonomous. In order for this autonomy to be realized, the copula must itself be drawn from the concept, must be determined, that is to say, it must become particularized. Indeed, the middle judgment of a syllogism (“Socrates is a man”) is nothing other than a determined copula—it says nothing other than why or by virtue of what fact A is b. Hegel’s critique of judgment is that of the early Idealists and Jena Romantics. But his championing of the syllogism was missing from the metaphysics on which they based their theories of marriage. The transcendent ground (Seyn) has disappeared in favor of an Absolute that is accessible to (syllogistic or speculative) Reason—as a result, the analogy between the restorative power of “intellectual intuition” and that of love has sundered. The force that differentiates the totality is different from the intuition of that totality. Just like the early Idealists, Hegel turns to figures of consciousness as analogues for the marital relation in order to preserve its autonomy. Only conceiving of marriage as a Schluß could enable a picture of marriage that drew only on the Concept (on logic or metaphysics), a picture that did not draw on resources external to the relation itself. But unlike them, he thinks the unknowable ground of copulation on which his Frankfurt era theories relied, which was accessible not to reason but only to feeling, is simply a symptom of a less advanced stage of reflection:

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in the syllogism that ground has become fully accessible, perhaps not to reflection, but to a more properly speculative “reason.” Nevertheless, the judgment and its unreflected copula have a place in Hegel’s mature system—love survives in much the same way, as the unreflected ground that has to be properly parsed into a syllogism. While no one would mistake Hegel’s later theories of love for his effusive efforts written under Hölderlin’s sway, it is instructive to recognize that certain metatheoretical precepts do not shift one bit in the twenty years separating the Frankfurt fragments on love (or “Eleusis,” for instance) and his systematic presentation of love in the 1821 Philosophy of Right. Prime among these precepts is one that we have traced through much of the metaphysical theories of marriage in the 1790s: Hegel’s theories about love, marriage, and gender do not seem to be drawn from supposed facts of everyday life but rather rely on what Herbert Schnädelbach has called the “speculative structure”59 of marriage. Whatever it is that makes marriage an ethical (sittlich) institution and what makes marriage unified and autonomous cannot be determined by scrutinizing empirical evidence but rather needs to be developed with reference to the categories furnished by his logic (in other words, his metaphysics).60 Just as the Science of Logic understands the syllogism as the most sophisticated means of putting into interrelation the seemingly independent modalities of universality, particularity, and individuality, the concept of marriage “determines” itself, splitting into universal and individual wills while relying on marriage as the concrete unity that mediates as a Mitte between the extremes. While the content of his metaphysics has undergone alterations since the “community of spirits” in Frankfurt, his mode of arriving at it has not. The Philosophy of Right introduces “the family” as “the immediate substantiality of the spirit,”61 that is to say, as an immediate concretization of “ethical life” (Sittlichkeit).62 He first locates its origins in love, explaining that in and through marriage love is refined and rendered “self-conscious.” Hegel thus opens his discussion of the family not with marriage at all, but rather with a concept that all but vanished from his conceptual arsenal after the Differenzschrift, only to then conjugate its infinitive stirring into a structure far more institutional than anything the early Romantics and Idealists would have countenanced. A love that was previously inchoate attraction and longing comes to face those who feel it as an object, which allows them to understand it, transform it, or certify it in ways that would have been impossible in their previous “internal” attachment. Hegel’s account of love in the Philosophy of Right barely differs at all


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from that provided in his early writings. And just as in the earlier writings, Hegel says that it is a “feeling” (Empfindung), rather than some kind of definitive cognition or configuration of the will, “spirit’s Empfindung of its own unity.”63 As in the early fragments on love and shame, it is not primarily the individual partners who cognize themselves in this unity, but rather “spirit.” In light of the discourse treated in chapter 2, it seems that this initial paragraph of the Philosophy of Right’s discussion of marriage finds Hegel traveling back to his own philosophical beginnings, the years spent in Bern and with Hölderlin in Frankfurt. But it is a temporary fallback, since Hegel’s understanding of the family fluctuates as he moves from the main text of §158 to the more detailed addition: while the main text construes love as a feeling of spirit, the latter discusses love as a feeling of the individual, which bespeaks the almost archaic holdover at the center of this passage. Love provides a first intimation of a possible realization of the view of the freedom of the will Hegel outlined programmatically at the very beginning of the Philosophy of Right.64 I, the individual, “gain my self-consciousness only through the renunciation of my independent existence and through knowing myself as the unity of myself with another and of the other with me.”65 For the young Hegel, it was the whole (which he would later call “spirit”) that felt itself in “love,” and the “I” that can in fact feel this love is only an index of a rivenness from the original whole. For the mature Hegel the individual is problematic only when it is not developed out of (and with reference to) the totality; and this is precisely what marriage accomplishes in the Philosophy of Right. It does not heal whatever individuality offends Spirit; it determines (and thereby negates) the whole into particulars that nevertheless retain the original structure of the totality. It does so syllogistically. Hegel claims that the initial feeling of love is “internal and only for itself and therefore in the existence [of the lovers] only external”—the lovers are unable to recognize their love as an object (existence “in itself”), and therefore cannot truly make it their own (existence “for itself”); they are at the mercy of a feeling that they cannot give any particular shape to. In describing the process by which the lovers externalize their love in order to make it more fully their own, Hegel has recourse to a structure that is distinctly syllogistic. Hegel’s reason for turning to the syllogism is the one familiar from the friends of his youth: marriage is to be made autonomous from “positive” or external structures. But Hegel adds to this the demand that marriage be a “concrete universal,” that is to say, that it unify the three aspects of the Concept: universality, particularity, and individuality.

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The “Logic of the Concept” section of the Science of Logic claimed that only the syllogism is capable of furnishing this kind of “concrete universality.” The Philosophy of Right understands the move from love to marriage in much the same way as a move toward both greater concreteness and full universality. The way the lovers externalize their union without making it an entirely alien object is precisely by moving from judgment to syllogism. Just as the syllogism removes the copula of the judgment from the realm of the merely given and gives it content, definition, and meaning, so does marriage structure love in such a way that nothing remains that is merely given and impenetrable or accidental to the people united in the marriage. One of the more striking consequences of the demand for “concrete universality” is a new justification for gender roles, which, far from being natural roles, or else being metaphysically irrelevant, are now an essential part of the cleavage from the brute, given natural union. Hegel claims that the difference of the sexes is “determined by the difference into which ethical substantiality as concept splits itself, in order to gain out of [this concept] its liveliness [Lebendigkeit] as a concrete unity.”66 “Ethical substantiality,” the unity and autonomy of marriage, must internally differentiate itself in order to become more “concrete” and “lively.” This self-differentiation splits the undifferentiated totality of love into the elements that according to Hegel make up the internally differentiated form of the syllogism: universality, particularity, and individuality. The totality of “the spiritual” (das Geistige) needs to bifurcate (dirimieren) into “the knowledge and willing of free universality [   freyen Allgemeinheit]” on the one hand and “concrete individuality” (concrete Einzelheit) on the other.67 It is the institution of marriage itself that has to mediate and thus determine the universal and the particular—forcing the (male) “universal will” to will this particular marriage and the (female) “individual will” to will the institution as such alongside a particular instantiation of it. Marriage remains the Mitte, the middle term, as which the family functioned in the early Jena drafts: it brings together the willing of a particular feeling for a particular person and the willing of an institution that can give contours to such a feeling in general. Hegel’s account of the gradual self-determination and concretion of ethical substantiality contains a point about the metaphysics of marriage in general. Along with the copula, he rejects the merely given unity of Seyn, which left the ethical substantiality of marriage entirely abstract—it is a unity that arrives “like a shot from a pistol” and “begins straight away with


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absolute knowledge,” as Hegel caustically remarks of Fichte’s absolute I in the Phenomenology.68 For Hegel neither the autonomy nor the unity of marriage flows out of the cessation of all internal differentiation, the ecstatic falling away of all boundaries; it depends on differentiation, as long as that differentiation is not outwardly imposed but internally generated according to the logic of the concept of marriage. Where Schleiermacher and Schlegel were concerned with erasing or mitigating gender differences as paradigmatic for internal differentiation as such, Hegel understands internal difference to be necessary rather than inimical to the unity of marriage. Marriage is the “middle term” of a syllogism that mediates between the individual inclination and the demands of the universal institution. For the early Idealists and Romantics the tension between the individual feelings and the uncanny institution that they subtend was a constant irritant; for Hegel, marriage as “concrete universality” mediates between institution and inclination. It allows the individual to love the universal through the lover, and to see the universal through the individual partner. But if marriage in the Philosophy of Right constitutes a more complex structuring of the love relationship described by the early Idealists and Romantics, the Urtheil figure with which Hegel opens his discussion is not entirely systematically justified. Rather, it likely constitutes at least to some extent an unexamined holdover from a much earlier stage of Hegel’s philosophy. After all, Sittlichkeit in the Philosophy of Right is at base a formation of the will, and love-as-judgment would thus also have to be somehow reducible to the “free will that wills the free will.”69 While many other philosophers in history have argued for such a link between love and the will (quite recently, Harry Frankfurt has advanced such a thesis),70 it is quite clear that Hegel calls love an Empfindung because he has no intention of arguing anything of the kind. While the structure of the judgment survives as a remnant from the heady days of Frankfurt and Jena, marriage for Hegel concerns no longer an absolute, remainderless unification of two relata but rather an arrangement of three terms—individuality, particularity, and universality. Productivity, in this case the productivity of the dialectic, led Hegel away from the philosophy of unification. The development of Hegel’s system traces the dissolution of the Romantic and early Idealist metaphysics of marriage. We leave behind the “politics of the copula” described in chapter 2. Not only does Hegel’s system soon remove the Urtheil, the form of total unification in and through the Absolute, as the analogue of the marital relation; it simultaneously reintroduces the distinction Fichte and all those who followed him programmatically elided—the distinction between love and marriage. While the politics of

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the copula depended centrally on an economy of feeling that was to supersede the internal contradictoriness and rivenness of the world of “the understanding,” we now face a much more complicated picture altogether. Love still plays an important role in Hegel’s mature views on marriage and the family;71 however, since reason now has access to the “Absolute” (or the “free will that wills the free will” in the context of the Philosophy of Right), love becomes something of an empty quantity. What makes the family sittlich has nothing to do with the absolute unification in love but inheres instead in the syllogistic imbrication of wills in marriage. Alongside the distinction between love and marriage, language reenters the picture in Hegel’s discussion of the family. Unlike the Romantics, Hegel once again assigns a contractual character to marriage, although the alchemy of marriage consists precisely in being the contract that (through love) transcends the standpoint of contract. Nevertheless, marriage no longer goes without saying, without making things explicit. Against those who claim that marriage is always already too late, that it can only narrate ex post facto a mystery of unification in love that is already a fait accompli, Hegel insists in the Grundlinien that “this connection is only constituted as the existence of the Spirit as ethical life by the precession of this ceremony, as the completion of the substance by way of the sign and of language.”72 If a contract is indeed a paraliterary form in which something is written to death, is overwritten, then the role of the literary, so problematic for Fichte’s, Hölderlin’s, and (as we shall see) Mereau’s metaphysics of marriage, undergoes a shift. In fact, even the young Hegel’s poem “Eleusis,” discussed in chap­ter 2, seemed to celebrate a sphere of feeling that would require “no oath,” no “bylaw,” and no conventional linguistic expression.73 By the 1820s, Hegel had clearly abandoned this notion; convention constitutes a “completion” rather than a debasement of love and marriage. Others, however, were quite prepared to grant language a largely negative role in amatory feeling and yet marshaled words precisely to puncture what they considered the overblown rhetoric of the metaphysics of marriage. In the following chapters we will deal with two novelists who quite openly understand literary form as the gravedigger of the “absolute union” and tell their own marriage plots in those terms. They do so, however, in slightly different ways: Sophie Mereau was a member, albeit a marginal one, of the Jena crowd, unwavering in her Fichtean sympathies, and she seems to have used her fiction as a way of interrogating some of the blind spots of Fichte’s metaphysics of autonomy. Her friend Jean Paul, on the other hand, was an implacable foe of Fichte and


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highly critical of the Jena Romantics. A marginal figure in terms of both his intellectual and his social background, removed from Jena, Berlin, and Frankfurt by geography and, for most of the 1790s, highly precarious finances, he retained an outsider’s perspective on the rhapsodic amorous discourses of the Jena set, training a skeptical eye on Romantic marriage and Romantic metaphysics. Like Hegel, he liked to draw on the question of the product to explode Romantic fantasies of remainderless unification. His novel Siebenkäs traces a productivity all its own. It charts the life of a marriage over a nine-month period, but what this period produces is the “dissolution of the family” not through children, as Hegel would have it, but through unproductivity—the marriage is over, the partners dead (or assumed dead), and there is not even an external object to show for it.

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Marriage Interrupted: Sophie Mereau’s Blüthenalter der Empfindung


t is a testament to the electric intellectual atmosphere of 1790s Jena that reactions and misgivings about the metaphysics of marriage inaugurated by Fichte surfaced well before Fichte actually set out those metaphysics in writing. Among the first such reactions was that of a woman who appears to have encountered Fichte’s philosophy around the seminar table and the dinner table. Sophie Mereau-Brentano (1770–1806) was chronologically the first to put Fichte’s metaphysics of autonomy to work in fiction in order to tell the story of a love union. Her novel Blüthenalter der Empfindung appeared in 1794, only months after Fichte’s arrival in Jena, a full two years before the publication of the passages on marital law in the Foundations of Natural Law, and thus long before Lucinde, Florentin, Hyperion, or Heinrich von Ofterdingen. This timing affords Blüthenalter a momentous yet strange position in the metaphysics of marriage we are tracing: momentous, since it marks the first appearance of such a metaphysics in the literary sphere; strange, because the discourse, steeped as it was in a profoundly androcentric “ideology of femininity,”1 makes that first appearance in the guise of a novel written by a woman. Mereau’s novel is fully cognizant of two problems that dominated the metaphysics of marriage among the Romantics for much of the decade, and she pre‑ sents them explicitly in terms of women’s rights: marital plot and marital metaphysics stand in a highly ambivalent relationship; so did the apotheosis of autonomy and the concomitant celebration of marriage as the surrender of this autonomy.


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The notion of union relied on by the early German Idealist and Romantic conceptions of marriage elided the narrative dimension of the progression of unity to division and back to unity. And insofar as they did acknowledge it, that narrative was itself a symptom of the problem: it signified a fall away from or the laborious progress back to an original plenitude. In Fichte and his hesitant followers, marriage restored (or represented to the outside world) something that was already real and complete long before any vow had taken place. That marriage has a plot was, if not denied, then at least made extremely problematic by this metaphysics of marriage. Mereau’s novel performs the move from theoretical metaphysics to literature quite self-consciously and faces its own novel-ness with pronounced ambivalence, an ambivalence that is of one piece with a profound skepticism regarding the sexual relationship. Mereau is far less sanguine about the role literary discourse has to play in the metaphysics of marriage than the later Romantics. While Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel turn to the fairy tale and the novel as uniquely suited to the metaphysics of marriage, Sophie Mereau believes in no such blessed union or natural compatibility between literature and marital metaphysics. In telling the story of the sexual relation in overtly Fichtean terms, Mereau is in dialogue not with Fichte’s own practical philosophy but exclusively with his theory of consciousness and its practical implications. 2 It is striking how different the metaphysics of marriage she develops out of this theory looks from the one Fichte arrived at from the same point of departure. Mereau’s emphasis on autonomy clearly emerges from her immersion in the thought of the early texts concerning the Wissenschaftslehre, but Mereau, more bluntly than the canonical Romantics, puts Fichte’s metaphysical concept of autonomy to use in the service of sexual and political emancipation. Mereau inherits from the critical philosophy of Kant and Fichte the concept of autonomy, and she embeds it in the explicitly political context of the emancipation of women. At the same time, Mereau is thoroughly Romantic in emphasizing love and marriage as a means of transcending the limits of the isolated subject, in assigning love and marriage potential political ramifications precisely as foundational moments of community. That conception of love relies on a renunciation or loss of autonomy (as Rousseau would put it, absolute selfhood) in favor of community (relative selfhood). Paradigmatically, Goethe’s Ottilie asserts in the Elective Affinities (Die Wahlverwandtschaften, 1809) that “voluntary dependency is the most beautiful state, and how would it be possible without love?”3 And for the Romantics, as for Fichte, that

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renunciation (Fichte’s passivity, Schlegel’s Müssiggang) was usually gendered feminine. How, then, to assert the agency that Romantic encomia to marriage denied women, without leaving behind the notion that the sexual relationship enacted a unification that held significance for society at large? The problem, in other words, is simply the possibility of a “feminine” metaphysics of marriage. As we have seen, the metaphysics of marriage inaugurated by Fichte and his students decidedly stacked the deck against women. Nevertheless, when Fichte arrived in Jena, women formed a key part of his audience—and the women of the Jena circle tangled with problems of philosophy and aesthetics as much as their male counterparts. What then of the women who followed Fichte into the treacherous terrain of the metaphysics of marriage? Were they duped into searching for liberating potential in a discourse that always already committed them to a profoundly androcentric picture in which unification came at the cost of feminine dignity and autonomy? Or are there strategies for offsetting the bias inherent in the metaphysical picture of the sexual relation as conceptualized by Fichte and the post-Fichtean monists? Mereau-Brentano is the best candidate for anyone hoping to answer this question. Born Sophie Schubart into a family of civil servants in Altenburg, she grew up in an environment supportive of and conducive to women’s education.4 In 1791, Mereau’s talent first attracted the attention of Schiller, who came to publish a number of her poems in his journal Thalia— the first of which dealt explicitly with the French Revolution. Extremely free-spirited and long unwilling to submit to a husband, Sophie married Friedrich Mereau in 1793, mostly, it seems, in order to get to Jena, where Friedrich taught law and worked as a librarian. In Jena, she quickly became a mainstay in the intellectual and cultural life, as well as the subject of much gossip among the intelligentsia. Amid a rapidly deteriorating marriage and while pregnant with her first child, Mereau completed her first novel, Blüthenalter der Empfindung, which appeared anonymously (but with an author’s preface that made clear the author was a woman) in 1794. Mereau wrote the novel during the inaugural moments of the metaphysics of marriage. She was both a devoted reader of Kant— even sending him a copy of Blüthenalter when it was published5 —and an attendee of Reinhold’s lectures, dedicating several poems to him upon his leaving Jena for Kiel.6 When Fichte arrived in Jena, Mereau became the only woman member of the circle of professors that congregated regularly around the


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rising academic star. In a letter to his wife, dated June 17, 1794, Fichte noted that his private seminar ( privatissimum) had one female member, namely, Sophie Mereau, a fact that appears to have been unusual enough to merit another mention in the official Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literaturzeitung in 1796.7 In the course of the privatissimum she read Fichte’s prospectus “Concerning the Concept of the Wissenschaftslehre” (“Über den Begriff der Wissenschaftslehre”), which he had published between February and March of 1794 in order to prepare his students for his lectures. It is also likely that she heard Fichte’s lectures “Concerning the Scholar’s Vocation” (“Über die Bestimmung des Gelehrten”) during the Sommersemester 8 and read Fichte’s final lecture from his Zurich colloquium, published as Concerning Human Dignity. More consistently than in the case of Fichte’s other listeners, these philosophical interests carried over into the field of fiction. While continuing to write stories and poetry, she increasingly turned to editing and translating, coediting the Göttinger Romankalender and publishing translations of English, French, and Italian texts, among them the letters of Ninon de Lenclos, Montesquieu’s Lettres persanes, and portions of Rousseau’s Nouvelle Héloïse. Her amorous accomplishments were similarly impressive: a number of affairs (among them her future husband, Clemens Brentano), as well as a slew of rebuffed advances (from, among others, Friedrich Schlegel and Jean Paul Richter). In 1801, Mereau became the first woman in Saxony-Weimar to divorce her husband (in a proceeding chaired by none other than Herder) and began editing her own journal, Kalathiskos, of which two volumes appeared. In 1803, she married Clemens Brentano and relocated to Marburg, then to Heidelberg. The same year saw the publication of her second and last novel, the epistolary Amanda and Eduard (Amanda und Eduard). Mereau died in 1806 of complications during the birth of her fourth child.9 Mereau’s inclusion among the Jena Romantics has been contested, and it indeed seems to be owed mostly to a certain congruence of time and place. Mereau’s oeuvre has often been classed under the moniker “preRomanticism” (Vorromantik), and in her first novel she clearly employs the topoi of the literature of “sentimentalism” (Empfindsamkeit) and classicism, literary movements of the mid-eighteenth century, much less critically than the canonical writers of early Romanticism. However, for our purposes, it is precisely time and place that matter. Like the early Romantics and early Idealists, Mereau had imbibed Kant’s, Reinhold’s, and Fichte’s philosophy, and her politics developed in direct dialogue with many of

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the authors we discussed in the preceding chapters. Both Dorothea and Friedrich Schlegel read Blüthenalter der Empfindung, and while their responses were mixed, Mereau’s text is the first to take up the question of marriage on exactly the terms Lucinde would rely on five years later.10 Moreover, Mereau’s novel clearly partakes in the metaphysics of marriage. Here, as much as later in Lucinde, Heinrich von Ofterdingen, and Hyperion, the author traces the genesis of a binary relationship, spiritualizing love and bracketing its offspring or product. The characterizations of the love or marital partners, and to some degree their relationship to one another, are presented in gender categories clearly derived from Fichte’s theoretical philosophy. Unlike Mereau’s later novel Amanda und Eduard, Blüthenalter seems to think through gender relations immediately in the terms furnished by the French Revolution, by Humboldt’s anthropology and Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre. That does not mean, however, that its author naïvely accepts these terms. Unlike the critiques leveled at Fichte by Mereau’s Jena friends later on (first by Hölderlin, then soon thereafter by Novalis and Schelling), Mereau’s tests Fichte’s picture directly in the field of marriage. She does so in much closer dialogue with the actual legal and social practices surrounding marriage than the more abstractly minded fellow Romantics later in the decade. Mereau seems to have encountered Fichte’s theory of consciousness (and grasped its potential political ramifications) at the same time as the Prussian Allgemeines Landrecht became a first German attempt to codify marital law. The law (which did not apply to Jena, since it lay in the Duchy of Saxony-Weimar rather than in Prussia, but which was nevertheless debated there) had been in the works for much of the previous decades and went into effect June 1, 1794, while Mereau attended Fichte’s private seminar. The law’s provisions concerning who was allowed to marry whom, under what conditions, and on whose authority provides an instructive intertext to Mereau’s novel. Mereau thus stands paradigmatically for the problem we outlined above: she seems to have realized the promise Fichte’s philosophy held for gender politics, but she is just as clearly aware that there are significant pitfalls to this approach. On the one hand, she makes explicit the link between the metaphysics of marriage and the early Romantics’ penchant for marriages across religious lines: that marriage considered in terms of natural rather than positive law, metaphysically rather than anthropologically, cannot be artificially limited by dictates of estate or religion. Moreover, she is clear on the political import of the love relation, considering it a paradigm for overcoming the wanton divisions characteristic of bourgeois instrumental


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reason (see chapter 2). On the other hand, however, perhaps more acutely than later authors of Frühromantik (and certainly more acutely than the male ones), she sees the problems attending on a metaphysical discourse of marriage and insists on suspending her novel between the promises the metaphysical approach held for the Jena circle on the one hand and the vicissitudes that lay in store for any such approach on the other.

Literariness and Metaphysics We have already noted Friedrich Schlegel’s axiomatic enumeration of the great “tendencies of our age”: the French Revolution, the Wissenschaftslehre, and Wilhelm Meister.11 The different exponents of Frühromantik turned to and transformed each of the latter two, for example Hölderlin’s adaptation of Fichte’s theoretical philosophy in terms of Urtheil und Seyn, or Novalis’s critique of Wilhelm Meister under the impression of Jakob Böhme. What we have seen in but the faintest of echoes is the first “great tendency,” the French Revolution, which clearly underpins the political projects that animate Heinrich von Ofterdingen, Lucinde, and Hyperion, but which enters their narratives only in highly refracted, allegorical guise. It is a strange but telling fact that those writers of early Romanticism who engaged with the theory of marriage while explicitly invoking the upheavals in France (whether to express their hope or their disillusionment over the goings-on) were predominantly women.12 Sophie Mereau’s Blüthenalter der Empfindung stages a tale of family formation against the background of revolutionary Europe, and Therese Huber uses a family to interrogate the ethical-political ramifications of the revolution in The Family Seldorf (Die Familie Seldorf, 1795/96).13 In the present context, it is Mereau’s book that is more interesting. Huber’s novel relies on the family as a tool of interrogation, thereby reifying that form as a solid, “natural” standpoint from which to critique a political configuration. Although Huber ends with a family in disarray, the novel relies on a clear and stable picture of family that in turn tests the viability and legitimacy of larger structures. Mereau, on the other hand, seems to think of family and polis as both implicated in the same problematic, thus conceptualizing not the political by way of the family, but the political insofar as it is in interaction or interchange with the family. In Mereau’s novel family, love, and revolution are fundamentally at issue, and no Archimedean point will give one absolute leverage over the other. This, as we

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have seen, is precisely the mark of a metaphysics of marriage: it rejects a recourse to “nature” or “tradition” in any straightforward sense as a theoretical starting point. Only insofar as it can be deduced from a picture of human reason and human self-consciousness can marriage be metaphysically justified. On this count, The Family Seldorf, although it clearly offers or presupposes its own theory of the family, eschews the metaphysical picture in favor of a more properly anthropological one. But it is not only the emphatically metaphysical picture of the marital relation that warrants the in-depth consideration of Mereau’s Blüthenalter der Empfindung in this study. The novel furthermore emerges from what Theodore Ziolkowski has dubbed the Wunderjahr in Jena, in other words from the heady atmosphere of intellectual effervescence immediately surrounding Fichte’s arrival in Jena.14 Moreover, unlike Novalis’s novelistic output, which postdated his direct involvement with Fichte’s philosophy by several years, and unlike Schlegel’s, which additionally soaked up the atmosphere of the Berlin salons, Mereau’s novel emerges quite immediately (in terms of both chronology and philosophical development) from the intellectual climate of 1794/95 Jena. That is not to say that Mereau absorbs that climate less reflectively than her male compatriots. When Novalis, Hölderlin, and the Schlegels turn to marriage as a topic for metaphysics, they choose to work through a number of issues suggested by their own modification and adaptation of Fichte’s system, whereas Mereau, as I will suggest, confronts issues that emerge directly from the philosophy of two of Jena’s giants: Fichte and Humboldt. Rather than modifying Fichte and then putting the modified system to work on the topic of sexuation and marriage, Mereau problematizes Fichte by putting his system to work, pitting it against Humboldt’s, as well as itself. Blüthenalter der Empfindung thematizes the French Revolution as having a bearing on the sexual relationship, through (a) the avenues of female autonomy and (b) the rejection of the traditional and religious bases of marriage. The novel tells the story of a young Swiss man named Albert who, while on an educational journey to Genoa, overhears a conversation between a woman and a man, evidently her spurned lover. Before Albert can catch another glimpse, or introduce himself, the couple has disappeared. At a later point, he reencounters the woman who appears to be consorting with his mysterious next-door neighbor, an old widow. They exchange a few words inside a roadside church; he learns that her name is Nanette, but before he can learn more about her, she tricks him into leaving her alone for a moment. When he returns, she has vanished.


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Reeling from this second loss of the object of his affections, Albert meets a young man named Lorenzo, a kindred spirit of sorts, but much more cynical about matters of love, politics, and Empfindung. Albert and Lorenzo decide to travel to Paris to witness “the new scenes unfolding in Gaul’s capital,”15 namely, the French Revolution. On the Champ de Mars, Albert once again encounters Nanette, but accident intervenes to separate them yet again. Since Lorenzo too has disappeared, a despondent Albert returns to his native Switzerland, where he busies himself reintegrating himself into his old milieu. After the death of his father, he takes to long walks through the mountains during one of which a thunderstorm forces him to seek shelter in a small hut by the side of a mountain. There he once again encounters Nanette as well as his mysterious Genoa neighbor, who turns out to be Nanette’s aunt. Together, Albert and Nanette spend a carefree time in the hidden chalet, and eventually Nanette and her aunt tell Albert the reasons for their secrecy: Nanette and her brother Lorenzo are wards of their dissolute elder brother who, in order to fund his profligate ways, has sent Lorenzo to a monastery (from which he has escaped) and has schemed to sell Nanette to a cardinal (who was the man Albert originally encountered her with). Moved by Nanette’s concern for Lorenzo, Albert embarks on a search for him, finding him utterly despondent in a Catholic part of Switzerland. Lorenzo has fallen in love with the comely daughter of a local merchant, but her father, a Catholic, refuses to consent to the union, since Lorenzo has absconded from a monastery. As Albert hopelessly looks on, Lorenzo sinks deeper and deeper into his depression and eventually takes his own life. Though grieved by the loss, Albert returns to Nanette in a hurry, as he fears that the public interest aroused by Lorenzo’s death may in turn pique the attention of Nanette and Lorenzo’s villainous older brother. As a last resort, the two decide to emigrate to America, to escape the haphazard limitations placed on their union by custom and creed. Blüthenalter der Empfindung’s metaphysics of marriage puts a strange and interesting twist on the picture found in the works of later writers of early Romanticism. Mereau, just like Fichte two years later, distinguishes between love and marriage, though in keeping with the Romantic program, she assigns love the privileged position. From the language of Urtheil und Seyn traced in chapter 2 (which she invokes explicitly only once in the novel) she derives the idea of love as an absolute, extralinguistic Empfindung, which, however, has to decompose into expression and thus language: “Language is but a consequence of feeling. The true mo-

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ment of feeling tolerates no language.”16 What distinguishes her from the later Romantics is that she does not accord poetic language a privileged position. Unlike Novalis, for whom, as we saw in chapter 3, the poeticization of language constitutes something of a return to Seyn from the world of Urtheil, Mereau categorically asserts that “the most accurate description of love is that it cannot be described.”17 This categorical exclusion of language (an exclusion that, as will become clear, extends to literature) from the absolute sphere of love and Empfindung of course puts the novel, by virtue of the very fact that it is a novel, in a strange, not to say aporetic, position. It constantly strains to impose linguistic structure on something it nevertheless insists constitutively eludes such an imposition. In fact, the very metaphors Mereau turns to explore the absolute, “sacred” sphere of Empfindung are drawn from the sphere of language: “Are not feelings sacred? . . . Are they not the divine language in which nature speaks to us?”18 The idea that holy “nature” speaks to us but that this speech resists “description” (Schilderung) puts a particular strain on literary form: rather than instantiating a return to holy nature, poesy puts into linguistic form a language that transcends the linguistic. Unlike Novalis’s fairy tales and Schlegel’s literary arabesques, Mereau’s novel understands its own generic identity to be a problem. The ambivalence over literariness animates the strange structure of this novel and in fact constitutes the point of entry into its gender politics as well.

A Transcendental Ménage à Trois Although Manfred Engel does not include Mereau’s novel in his study of the novel in the age of Goethe, Blüthenalter der Empfindung clearly falls into Engel’s category of “transcendental novel,” that is, a novel that undertakes “the narrative exposition of structures of consciousness and/ or . . . the ‘Absolute.’ ”19 Much like another quintessential Romantic hero, Hölderlin’s Hyperion, Albert, the protagonist of Blüthenalter, oscillates between intro- and extroversion, at times surging to activity and at others relapsing into solipsism. In both Hölderlin and Mereau, there is a clear Fichtean lineage to this alteration: the juxtaposition of reflection and active Tathandlung was part of our discussion in previous chapters already. Unlike Hyperion, and unlike the Fichte of the 1794 Wissenschaftslehre, however, Mereau’s hero also alternates between reflective or observing subjectivity (Beobachten) and active intersubjectivity (Handeln).20 In an


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echo of Rousseau’s contrast between “absolute” and “relative” existence in Émile,21 Mereau associates Albert’s activity with the political in the broadest sense, with a social world. It is a token of Mereau’s explicitly political reading of Fichte’s theory of consciousness that whenever he interacts with his world, her protagonist interacts with a particular worldhistoric situation, be this the French Revolution, the tottering structures of the absolutist world, or the power men have over women. Mereau’s “transcendental novel” obligingly opens on what might be termed a “cognitive” or “transcendental” prelude, which presents the outside world as at base a reflection of Albert’s (absolute) subjectivity: “Everything was colored in the hues of my inner experiences.”22 It then introduces Nanette, the love object that will accompany and propel Albert through the novel’s plot. The novel stages Albert’s transition from selfcenteredness to radical other-centeredness in an exceedingly interesting scene: reclined under a lemon tree, Albert lingers in daydreams about a “being who would want as much as I did to see humanity happy.”23 Albert’s “fantasy” (Phantasie) presents this Wesen as “always a feminine image [Bild],” from which Albert cannot and does not want to separate. The female fantasy image has clear masturbatory undertones: “I enclosed the beautiful appearance in my arms, and I reveled insatiably in this laughing representation.”24 But while the “beautiful appearance” calls to mind the autoerotic fantasy of an “embrace” with a figment of the imagination, the word “representation” is a matter not merely of autoeroticism but also of the transcendental constitution of the (concept of the) object.25 The association of the transcendental labor of the imagination with masturbation will occupy us later in this chapter; for now, it is worth noting that the transcendental object is at the same time a love object. Of course, Albert’s “insatiable” congress with his own imagination has to be interrupted in order for the narrative to start. A voice rouses him and declares that “I will no longer give in to an inclination that costs me my honor!”26 Ingeniously, however, this censorious external voice does not, at least on the face of it, “address” either Albert or his overactive imagination. Rather, he is eavesdropping on a lovers’ spat between the man whose voice has interrupted his daydreams and a woman whose voice and whose wit soon put a spell on him. Albert’s fantasy is thus passed along in a kind of relay: the male voice (which we will later find out belongs to a cardinal) pronounces a prohibition on Albert’s infatuation with the “feminine image” of his masturbatory fantasy, while the female voice furnishes a new object of desire not of the male subject’s own making.27

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The exchange by which this relay is accomplished (a classic scene of amour naissant in the tradition of literary Rococo) arouses Albert’s interest not because of the depth of its feeling—which would serve to lend a voyeuristic valence to Albert’s curiosity—but rather owing to the sparkling wit of the repartee, “the levity of her expression, as she turned her opponent’s words against him.”28 The twosome Albert observes is not a couple of Romantic soul mates; they are wits engaged in a game of courtly love, a love constituted in ritual and language. Mereau was intimately familiar with the rituals and language games of the paramours of the courtly femme galante through her translation and edition of the letters of the French courtesan Ninon de Lenclos (1620–1705). Moreover, by the time she wrote Blüthenalter, she had read both Lenclos and Choderlos de Laclos’s Liaisons dangereuses, which traffics in similar discourse.29 The scene Albert overhears is entirely a matter of language—he sees nothing, only hears the wit of their repartee. Albert’s gaze, on the other hand, follows an exactly opposite trajectory, as it moves from the word to the mouth that uttered the word (expressing a “desire to paint the mouth, which even while invisible knew to enchant”),30 then on to Nanette’s eyes, be­­ fore which his words capitulate. While the scene thus clearly stages an opposition between a love (or, perhaps better, a dalliance) of the word and a romance of the body (above all the eye), it is important to note that Albert, too, falls for Nanette’s words first. Albert’s introduction to Nanette presents an interesting twist on the configurations of love and coupledom we have thus far encountered. Like Fichte, Mereau reads the relationship between lover and love object as at least analogous to that of constituens and constitutum, that is to say, she understands the love object as a transcendentally constituted object. After what might be called a “cognitive prelude,” which essentially rehearses, as Theodore Ziolkowski has rightly pointed out, a Fichtean transcendental relation between an I and an outside world understood primarily as constituted by the activity of the I (essentially, Albert seems to be alternating between a purely reflexive and a positive mode, a Thathandlung),31 one might expect that outside world to be embodied in a single female figure, which could furnish a potential object for a love relation to the Not-I. That is not how the novel proceeds, however; instead, from Albert’s Vorstellung of pure posited femininity emerge two characters, moreover, a couple, whose coupledom is constituted in a ritualized, heavily discursive relationship between pursuer and pursued.32 Moreover, as we learn in the shorter second half of the novel (once


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Nanette finally relates her story), the spat Albert witnesses is part of a highly literary storyline, a self-conscious throwback, as Ziolkowski points out,33 to the cloak-and-dagger Trivialliteratur of the eighteenth century.34 Moreover, of course, the topos of amour naissant is itself one of the legerdemains of the new “codification,” as Niklas Luhmann has put it, of bourgeois domestic love in the eighteenth century—to the point that by 1794 it could no longer be deployed unself-consciously; Mereau is knowingly engaging in a marivaudage, its characteristically ornate wordplay and prideful flirtations. Not surprisingly, the episode as a whole is a direct quotation from an episode recounted in the letters of Ninon de Lenclos, a translation of which Mereau would publish in 1802. Mereau recounts the episode, a written exchange between Ninon and a spurned lover, in her 1802 “Lebensbild” in the second issue of Kalathiskos.35 There is another twist to Mereau’s allusion, as Ninon’s response to her lover plays with the language of constituens and constitutum, a play that Mereau’s translation further emphasized. We will return to the complex intertextuality of this moment later in this chapter; for our present purposes it is sufficient to note that the couple whose spat Albert witnesses is itself literary, a quotation. In Mereau’s story “Flight to the City” (“Die Flucht nach der Hauptstadt”)36 —which was published in 1806, but probably written only a few years after Blüthenalter 37—a couple similarly constitutes itself along with its “marriage plot.” The nameless heroine and her lover Albino (which, fortunately perhaps, the narrator makes clear is not his real name) meet in the theater, which, much as in Wilhelm Meister,38 constitutes the central motor for the conversion of illusion into Bildung. Mereau, however, ironizes that conversion by having the two youngsters play lovers in the theater and fall in love by sheer force of habit. Albino plays “the first lover, and as such he told me so often that he loved me, until he at last felt it for real and I believed it too.”39 This Pascalian seduction (act as though you are in love and love shall be given to you) is then recast as dissimulation: once in love, the lovers cover their desire for one another by playing lovers—presenting “truth as make-believe [Täuschung].” Throughout these ironic reversals, the narrative holds onto the notion of deception, however, and makes clear that the dissimulation is at base a simulation—rather than hiding something that lurks behind the playacting, the playacting is creating the illusory presence of lovers behind the actors. The two, playing lovers, turn theater into reality, as it were: while pretending to play, they begin playing themselves. “Our imaginations were set ablaze ever more, and soon, in our most tender roles, we played simply

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ourselves.”40 But this couple, real and fictive at once, requires one more thing for sustained happiness: unhappiness. In order to be more like their roles, and thus more like themselves, the lovers require obstacles, they require the marriage plot: “Only a calamity was as yet missing, in order to fully resemble our models. It came soon enough.”41 This marriage plot, not surprisingly, turns out to be the story of the “Flucht nach der Hauptstadt” itself. The story thus provides not only the necessary amorous parcours for this couple; it provides the phantasmatic support for their fiction of coupledom. The two lovers can come together only in and through a story; the narrator never purports that these events, even within the reality of the narrative, are anything but fictions. The couple is constituted alongside its plot; it cannot be constituted without the excess, without the obstacle. Just as Nanette’s scheming cardinal emerges from Albert’s reverie alongside his beloved, the Unglück that befalls the nameless heroine and Albino is a conditio sine qua non of their coupledom. The couples come with the fantastic, with the narrative, and with the literary always already in tow. The wordless, visual love with which Albert fastens onto Nanette and the linguistic, trivial, and literary play that characterizes Nanette’s exchange with the cardinal thus cannot be as readily distinguished as Albert seems to think—the problematic status of literariness in the metaphysics of marriage is indeed the linchpin of Mereau’s thoughts on the subject. In direct analogy to “Flight to the City,” Blüthenalter’s transcendental opening has Nanette emerging out of Albert’s fantasy and entering his reality as a member of a couple, and a figure from a literary tradition.42 This configuration has two important consequences when compared with the conceptions of the love relationship that would come to predominate among Mereau’s fellow Romantics. Their narratives tended to focus on exclusive binary relationships, which are threatened by outside constraints or the (male) protagonists’ continuing maturation processes, rather than by amorous rivalries or contrivances of plot. These binary constructions, in which a single male subject happens upon and develops in response to a comparatively static “specular double,”43 Mereau replaces with a triangular configuration. The love relation is not fated, inevitable, and purely metaphysical but rather involves a third party, namely, a contingent obstacle, which is very much part of a social world of “positivity”—a cardinal. The metaphysical picture with which Mereau opens her novel is immediately tempered with an empirical factum brutum, namely, social constraint and conventional morality. Albert cannot constitute his love object without also positing the obstacle in attaining that object. And since that


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obstacle is fundamentally a matter of laws (Nanette’s brother’s rights over his sister) and of social convention (the denominational problem of choosing between a Swiss Protestant and a Catholic cardinal), the metaphysical is never allowed to unfold with a comparable degree of purity as it does in the works of either Fichte or the Romantics. We have seen that their recourse to the metaphysical is fundamentally motivated by a desire to subvert the legal and customary determinations of marriage as it actually exists in a social world. Mereau, it seems, deems that move itself evasive. Far from emancipating the marital institution from the irrationality of the social world, the retreat into the metaphysical simply abjures any claim to changing the laws and customs of marriage as an institution, preferring to speak of a “true” marriage in which no empirical human being can ever find him- or herself. On the other hand, however, it is clear that Blüthenalter der Empfindung too is fundamentally concerned with a metaphysics of love. If the couple object /obstacle that Albert encounters is characterized precisely by a discursive form of courtship, Albert’s love for Nanette from the very beginning works through the “deeper” registers of feeling and visuality, registers that do not require discourse. The novel thus represents an attempt to think through both the metaphysics of love and its factual limitations, among which the novel at times seems to number its novelistic form itself.44 After all, the literariness of the lovers’ quarrel that Albert overhears is inextricably bound up with its supposed inauthenticity, its conventional and transactional nature. And it is, as such, external to the love relationship between Albert and Nanette. Both Albert and the novel’s reader are kept in the dark about the actual meaning of the episode for the first half of the novel: neither the reader nor Albert knows who Nanette’s interlocutor was, or what their repartee referred to. When Albert is finally reunited with Nanette, the novel makes clear that his is too profound a love to make necessary the discovery of the intrigue behind the episode: “What were the external conditions to me? What was the past [to me]?”45 The wild tale behind the clever invectives Nanette showers on the cardinal is thus consigned to the realm of “external conditions”; the literariness of the tale is of one piece with the conventionality and inauthenticity of the “couple” it produced. The relationship between Albert and Nanette requires no “description” of the past that underpins it, since, as we saw, authentic love “cannot be described.”46 Why then does it countenance a novel? Of course we must learn the meaning of the episode, and so, by all

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narrative logic, must Albert. How then to spin the tale in all its high romance while still keeping Albert’s love for Nanette pure and authentic? The novel’s answer is that Albert proposes to Nanette: the story that the love relation presupposed but left inexplicit can finally be told, or has to be told, once the question of marriage arrives. Albert is no longer content to simply see Nanette (outside of conventional language, in the logic of the text); he wants that seeing institutionalized (in and through conventional language). In the transcendental episode that opens the novel, a love of linguistic play was presented as implicitly inferior to a purely visual, extralinguistic love; now, however, it is the supposedly more authentic visual love that calls for institutionalization: “I saw Nanette often, but I wished to see her without cease.”47 He confesses his Sehnsucht for a higher-order relationship to Nanette and “asked her to chain her fate entirely to mine, and avoid all adverse consequences by following all legal form.”48 The invocation of “chains” is certainly anything but accidental in this context: “chaining” fates does not sound like a joyous occasion but instead smacks of sublimated violence and submission. It also brims with none of the pathos of the “complete unification” celebrated so rapturously by Fichte, Hegel, and Schlegel. Albert has to willfully destroy the prelapsarian bliss of their shared love; he is forced to recur to “chains” and to the obeisance to “legal forms.” Far from constituting a culmination of their mutual love, marriage is a debasement of love, albeit a necessary one. That most conventional bit of language, “I do,” seems to be extradiscursive love’s worst enemy. Like the plots of the trivial novel, like the cliché of Rococo style, like the byzantine complications of marivaudage, the “I do” is defective owing to its iterability and its dependence on conventional contexts. The initial submission to discourse and convention in the “I do” ushers in an uncontrollable proliferation of conventional discourse. It is marriage’s descent into convention and institution that requires Nanette to finally supply the story that she and Albert previously regarded as inessential: “Both of them now thought a narrative necessary, which had so long seemed superfluous to all of us.”49 The tawdry saga animating the inauthentic couple that became the first object of Albert’s desire, the irrelevance of which had precisely marked out the purity and authenticity of Albert’s own love for Nanette, must now be unfolded in all its pulpy grandeur. Albert’s proposal, his invocation of the gesezlichen Formen, has expelled the lovers from a prelinguistic, pre-textual, preliterary unity and into the realm of the romance. While the novel almost obsessively insists on freedom, on Grundsätze, and thus essentially on autonomy in all its


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characters, the telling of the story is imposed from the outside as a matter of “necessity.” Language thus becomes a figure for external constraint, the grammar of the social: just as Empfindung decomposes into language, autonomy becomes entangled in external necessity in and through the marriage proposal. Along similar lines, the Allgemeines Landrecht für die Preussischen Staaten, which set out to codify and generalize marital law for the lands held by the Prussian crown and which came into effect while Mereau was writing Blüthenalter, established the process of marriage as a cavalcade of discursive and conventional speech and illocutionary acts. It stipulated the necessity of a “formal engagement vow” (Ehegelöbnis), without which the marriage could not actually be consummated (§93).50 Moreover, the law required a formal announcement (called an Aufgebot) in church “from the pulpit” (von der Kanzel) on “three subsequent Sundays,” which had to include “the station, first and last name of both parties” (§§150–51). Each time, the priest is to call for another speech act, an Einspruch, a voiced objection (§§158ff.).51 However, the Allgemeines Landrecht does not require a marriage contract, nor does it seem to consider marriage to be contractual in structure. Only “morganatic marriages” (Ehen zur linken Hand) that unite nobles and commoners without conferring upon the commoner the aristocratic status or certain marital privileges “necessarily presuppose a written contract” (§846) as well as “the immediate consent of the liege” (landesherrliche Erlaubniß) (§836).52 Not only does Blüthenalter seem to understand marriage’s reliance on discourse and conventional authority as a mark of the union’s inauthenticity, but the text extends this specific link between traditional marriage and its attendant language games into a critique of language, playing off necessarily codified and conventionalized discourse against the superior and wordlessly self-sufficient Empfindung. If Blüthenalter discounts the literary and the rhetorical, Mereau is careful not to have this evaluation play out in terms of gender. Nanette represents neither pure Empfindung nor pure reason, as becomes evident in the way she upends her brother’s schemes. Attempting to cart Nanette off to a monastery, and believing “that he was dealing with a good-hearted romantic,”53 the brother spins an elaborate fiction about monastic life, but his “flowery paintings” (blühende Malereien) cannot withstand “the cold, irrefutable reasons with which Nanette countered his high-strung, rosetinted descriptions.”54 Here, then, excessive, mendacious imagination is clearly gendered male, and its fictions are but a means of asserting control over women. But Mereau reverses this gendering the moment the brother changes tactics. Once the cardinal enters the picture as a potential

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prospect, Nanette’s brother attempts to appeal precisely to the “cold irrefutable reasons” that thwarted his attempt at cloistering her. Instead of appealing to her sentimentality, he now hopes to appeal to what he reads as her cynicism. However, Nanette rejects this match of convenience precisely on sentimental, instinctual grounds— culminating in the programmatic assertion that “she demanded the same rights as the man whom she would love.”55 By linking love to the sphere of rights, Nanette asserts precisely the opposite relation of sentimentality and reason her brother has in mind. He appeals to the rationality of positive law (tradition), which is then “romanticized”56 by the appeal to sentimentality; she appeals to the primacy of the sentimental relation but nevertheless insists that (according to a natural law founded on rationality) it needs to be structured by rights. In a literary extension of Fichte’s metaphysics, Blüthenalter seeks to defend the autonomy of Empfindung from the debased and debasing conventions of narrative, of literature, and of positive law. The fact that Empfindung cannot be told, cannot be created by poetic means, and cannot be regulated by law and moral convention animates both a poetic form and the union of which it tells. After all, the inauthentic couple (Nanette and the cardinal) and the inauthentic narrative (Nanette’s back story) are the necessary if embarrassing supplement to the pure union of which the novel suspects it may not be able to tell at all. In other words, were it not for the emphatic inauthenticity of the false couple and the false (trivial) novel, questions of purity would turn on the “marriage plot” of the main story instead. If the marriage plot “outsources” its internal contradiction, then so does the theory of marriage offered therein. For, as the next section will show, if marriage is a debasement akin to novelization, then how do we know that Albert isn’t himself just “telling stories” and is thus no better than Nanette’s villainous brother?

A Theory of Marital Autonomy The novel’s central marriage arrives on the scene along with its own theory of marriage, expounded by the main character himself. It is generally agreed among scholars that this theory of marriage is essentially that of his creator.57 Unlike Fichte, Schlegel, and Novalis, however, Mereau presents her marital metaphysics in a dialogue, in which Albert’s theorizing is countered at every point by two women, Nanette and her aunt. The previous section suggests why. If the novel considers convention, the


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generic structure of literature and the strictures of the law books as essentially analogous, then offering a metaphysics of marriage becomes both imperative and problematic: imperative, because only a metaphysics could shirk the reproach of commitment to or entanglement in convention and could avoid having to tell the tale that, if Vico is right, lies allegorically at the heart of all positive law; problematic, because Albert’s metaphysics is supposed to establish marriage in terms of rights and entitlements, thus making marriage a matter of a transcendent law, of nature’s language, but a matter of law and language nevertheless. The novel attempts to resolve this dilemma by allying legal fictions (something made, according to etymology) with positive law, while establishing a sphere of rights in league with natural law (which are by contrast meant to “just exist”). Strikingly, Mereau seems to have anticipated what Fichte would attempt two years later: to establish a natural law from the fact of human autonomy. Nature, in its own divine language, “speaks” laws as well: it safeguards Nanette’s “natural rights,” “the unobstructed enjoyment of her freedom and her powers.”58 But relying on autonomy to anchor a law beyond the contingencies of tradition and social dominations raises another, related problem for the theory of marriage. After all, it is not quite clear whether marriage ought to go in column A or B. Isn’t marriage precisely an artifact of human history, inextricably bound up with tradition and creed? And conversely, as Goethe’s Ottilie says in a passage of the Elective Affinities invoked earlier, isn’t marriage concerned with the suppression rather than the expression of autonomy? And, following Rousseau, how can the community established through marriage be sexed, if both parties are equally autonomous? Mereau herself notes that “men and women must not be equal. For whither love in that case?—Love is a desire to see replaced that which we ourselves lack—both together form the human being.”59 The dialogic form to which the novel recurs in exploring the metaphysics of marriage stages precisely this contradiction. Albert offers a model of marriage that would cleanse the institution of its institutional character, that would anchor it purely in an autonomy that transcends moral, conventional fictions, all the while connecting it to the intersubjective, social sphere. His female interlocutors, on the other hand, suggest that metaphysics and autonomy are always tempered by the social, by the traditional, by the fictional. Throughout the debate, the women confront Albert’s poetry of Empfindung, as Hegel might have said, with the “prose” of everyday life. This dialogue does not come to any kind of resolution within the novel. The debate proves abortive in a way that is anything but accidental. Only

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a plot twist that is near operatic in its contrivance manages to save Albert’s metaphysics of marriage from fatal contamination with the fictive. Fiction saves the fiction of the absence of fiction, and thus comes to the aid of an autonomy that believes itself above such fiction. As we saw in considering the novel’s juxtaposition of Nanette’s reason and her brother’s fictive guile, the overheated sphere of fiction has its converse in the sphere of right. The novel sets up narrative as inextricably tainted with convention and inauthenticity in order to argue for the pure provenance of right from both nature and reason. Nevertheless, in keeping with our earlier point that the novel seems to want to put the metaphysics of love in conversation with those conditions that serve to obvert it, it is clear that in presenting a metaphysics of marriage, which in some sense reads Fichte by the spirit rather than the letter, the novel again dialecticizes this metaphysics by confronting it with its limiting factors, not least of which is its ineluctable association with fiction and poetry. Mereau, as we have seen, sets up an opposition between Recht (in the sense of natural law) and Gesetz (positive law). It is this latter kind of law to which Nanette cannot lay claim, and it is by virtue of this kind of law that Nanette’s older brother can have a claim on her: I pointed to the protection afforded by the laws, but I could not convince her. The rights that Nanette’s brother had over his sister were founded on civil/bourgeois laws. . . . Where do women have the right to avail themselves immediately of the protection of the law?60

In passages like this, Mereau engages in an interesting chiasmus of Recht and Gesetz: Nanette’s brother’s right over her is founded on bourgeois law, while Nanette does not have the right to lay claim to protections under the law. To a certain extent, this chiasmus is a philosophical one. The passage after all distinguishes between rights in the plural, which are obtained through law and which are rights over someone else, and right in the singular, which grounds access to the law and which is founded in a person’s humanity. It is this latter “right” that Albert will seek to anchor in autonomy. Nevertheless, it is important to note that even before he embarks on his disquisition on marriage, Albert’s metaphysics become entangled in the complications of language (and by extension the complications of tradition and convention to which the women are all too well inured). The chiasmus asserts the presence of the poetic and the literary in the metaphysical discourse from which Albert is attempting to banish them. The theory Albert expounds is in many respects more radical than


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what the male German Romantics proposed. Unlike Novalis, who insists on making the state more like a family, and unlike the German Idealists who, in Slavoj Zizek’s apt phrase, attempt a marriage of love and the law,61 Mereau insists on a radical cleavage of love from the law: “What does the state, what do laws have in common with our feelings?”62 Novalis, Schlegel, Schleiermacher, and Hegel all insisted that there is precisely something that law and Empfindung have gemein. Even if we grant that, as suggested above, Gesetz for Mereau seems to refer primarily to positive law rather than to a possible constitution to be derived from the fact of human autonomy, Mereau’s rejection of traditional legitimations of marriage is much more pointed and forceful than in the theories of, say, Fichte, Novalis, or Hegel. However, it is unclear just how far Mereau’s banishment of legal consideration from the sphere of love goes. At times, Mereau seems to claim that legal structures have no business whatsoever interfering with relations constituted in Empfindung. At other points in the debate, Albert makes what amounts to a much more modest claim, that the law simply has no business stipulating marital relations or artificially keeping them intact: “Could they simply order us to feel this honorable and mutual trust, under whose sky alone the tender flower of marital love can flourish?”63 Even the Allgemeines Landrecht, hardly a particularly progressive document, states unequivocally that “without the free consent of the two parties no marriage can be binding” (§38), although it provides many conditions under which that “free consent” of the parties is not sufficient.64 Some parts of Albert’s disquisition anticipate points Fichte will make two years later in his Foundations of Natural Right. For example, just like Fichte, Mereau insists that the legal contract founded on any considerations other than love is not simply a bad contract but rather not a contract at all: “If our contract was based on truth, then its duration is eternal; if it was not, it never existed at all.”65 For Mereau, as for Fichte, what follows from this fact is the right to divorce (which in fact made it into Prussia’s Allgemeines Landrecht the same year that Mereau wrote her novel).66 The very fact that the love bond between the marital partners has been severed means that the marriage was essentially a sham and therefore immaterial (on Mereau’s model) or actually unethical (as Fichte sees it).67 Just like the Romantics after her, Mereau rejects any formalism with respect to the institution of marriage, even its institutional, abstract (Hegel would say contractual) character tout court: “Is there a form that is not sanctified by its content?”68 Albert asks. In other words, the “sanctity” of

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marriage (as we are still fond of saying) inheres not in the form of the relationship it institutes but rather in the preexisting relationship it expresses. Putting the same idea in somewhat more secular language, Albert claims that the “honor” (Ehre) that is at stake in marriage attaches to the “connection” (Verbindung) itself and is not what the marriage is adduced to safeguard. Here, of course, Mereau parts ways with Fichte avant la lettre: for Fichte marriage is indeed necessary to safeguard imperiled female “dignity,” that is, to compensate for a defect in feminine autonomy. For Mereau, marriage does not safeguard anything; this highlights the fact that Mereau, drawing on the Wissenschaftslehre, but as yet ignorant of Fichte’s philosophy of sex, assigns an entirely different role to autonomy in her picture of the marital relation. In fact, Mereau has recourse to the concept of autonomy twice, once as it relates to the two individuals entering into the marriage, and the second time as it relates to that union itself. In so doing, Mereau departs from Rousseau’s account, for whom sexual difference (and that means above all difference with respect to autonomy) had a prime function in grounding the very possibility of community. On this score, Mereau’s model of autonomous marriage would fail as the central node for a larger community. The very fact that two beings have entered it in perfect autonomy and have maintained that autonomy in and through it means for Rousseau that they have not acceded to the status of community, which is precisely characterized by a transition from autonomy to interdependence. For Mereau, unlike Rousseau, love means transferring one’s autonomy without surrendering it—marriages too, as Albert /Mereau see it, have to be autonomous: Two free beings enter a union, to act communally, to do good communally, to suffer communally. Our union exists of its own strength. It is not the fragile buttresses of priestly blessing, of bourgeois honor, of sickly habit that sustain it. We ourselves vouch for ourselves.69

Calling for marital autonomy was by no means an uncommon political position to take in 1794—but in contemporary legal codes marriage was anything but autonomous. Prussia’s Allgemeines Landrecht, for instance, grants a number of authorities the power to interfere with couples planning to marry. Parents, grandparents, and guardians can all prohibit unions or bring suit to prevent fiancés from actually getting married, so long as they have “significant reason,” such as fear of venereal disease, future indigence or misery, evidence of prior crimes, loose morals, class difference, or previous


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secret marriage or elopement (§58ff.).70 In many cases, marriages prohibited by law, for instance between nobles and commoners (§30), or marriages involving active military officers (§34), require a royal dispensation. Remarriage requires the consent of the officiating pastor; marriages entered under false pretenses can be voided by a judge. Even as it became codified and centralized and thus at least partly divested from all-encompassing family structures, marriage remained profoundly heteronomous. It was in this context that a metaphysics based on the spontaneity of an auton­ omous subject could become an attractive model for the marital union. If the subject could essentially posit itself, why shouldn’t marriage? The notion that not only does the subject need to be autonomous, but that this autonomy transfers to or requires the autonomy of the love or marital relation as well, can be found in both Humboldt and Fichte, although Mereau’s account is closer to Humboldt’s. We are familiar with the bases of Fichte’s claim. In §8 of his “Deduction of Marriage,” Fichte asserts programmatically that marriage constitutes a “complete unification” of two persons, “which is its own end.” And he affirms: “Marriage has no purpose that would lie outside of itself; it is its own end.”71 Fichte’s point, however, has less to do with the purposes a political or social system could have with respect to marriage than with philosophical imputations of purpose, of a natural “end” of marriage, such as procreation, education, or moralization. Of course, this account of marriage was written two years after Mereau’s novel. There is a text by Mereau’s friend Wilhelm von Humboldt that is much closer in time, and whose concerns dovetail much more closely with Mereau’s own. That text, which was not published during her lifetime, but which Mereau is nevertheless likely to have known at least in its outlines, is the 1792 On the Limits of State Action (Ideen zu einem Versuch die Gränzen der Wirksamkeit des Staates zu bestimmen). Here, marital autonomy is no longer simply a matter of teleology (the marriage as “its own end”), but rather explicitly opposed to a heteronomy conceived as interference by outside social and political actors. In this text, Humboldt attempts to show that governmental involvement in the private and social life of the polity, even with the best of intentions, is liable to harm the “harmonic play of forces” that characterizes human nature at its most fully expressed. What Humboldt’s text presents is thus not strictly speaking a metaphysics of marriage, since he relies on a philosophical anthropology heavily indebted to Winckelmann as a basis for his politics. It is nevertheless crucial that Humboldt singles out marriage as the paradigmatic site of

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resistance against state interference. He insists that the state has no business legislating “any connections among human beings and [in particular] the most natural one, which is most important for the individual and the state, namely, marriage.”72 For Humboldt, this political autonomy of marriage says nothing about the autonomy of the partners within the marriage. They do not surrender it, or at least they do not have to; it is precisely part of the autonomy of the marital relation that the partners themselves get to decide to what extent they will surrender their own personal autonomy within its context. Therefore, Humboldt argues, it can have only detrimental effects when the state decides “to determine by laws so close a connection, or to make it dependent on things other than pure inclination.”73 Humboldt’s point is thus very close to Mereau’s. Any imposition of limits on a relationship that is simply a matter of “inclination” (Neigung) is illicit and ultimately deleterious. Like Humboldt, Mereau does not seem to consider it wrong to legislate what happens to the materials of a household in marriage; rather, it is the law’s intrusion into object choice that she objects to. As Humboldt put it in his unpublished manuscript, “the mistake I think is simply that the law orders at all, since such a relationship can issue only from inclination, not from external arrangements, since force and direction contradict inclination.”74 But, as we saw, Mereau is not content merely to banish the law from the sphere of marriage—she wants to take “autonomy” in a much stronger sense than “legal autarky.” In decrying the artificial buttresses of religion ( priesterlichem Seegen), bourgeois sense of decorum (bürgerliche Ehre), or conventional morality (kränkelnde Gewissenhaftigkeit), Mereau is having recourse to the common late eighteenth-century German reading of Rousseau. These supports are necessary only in a context in which innate human goodness is thwarted by social arrangements. Nature and reason are on the side of autonomous marriage; positive law and conventional morality are necessary only where nature and reason have been perverted: “Neither nature nor reason taught people to utilize these precautions. It was cunning, a virtue that arose only from the rubble of human innocence and purity, necessitated by human depravity.”75 Again, marriage (conceived as a “precaution”) belongs to the sphere of external “necessity,” as opposed to the sphere of autonomy. Marriage is a machination of mere instrumental reason, a matter of the cunning manipulation of the given, rather than the reasonable structuring of that given itself—a dichotomy directly analogous to the opposition between the “understanding” and


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“reason” that the young Idealists were beginning to employ around this time. If there are almost existentialist overtones to Albert’s (and probably Mereau’s) argument here, juxtaposing an authentic relation to the parameters of the human condition and an inauthentic one, they are almost certainly owed to Fichte. This becomes clear in the unhappy couple that Mereau introduces late in the novel: Nanette’s brother Lorenzo has fallen in love with the merchant’s daughter Luise, but for religious reasons her father objects. At this point, the paths of the two couples diverge dramatically: Luise, more timid than Nanette, and Lorenzo, more cynical than Albert, attempt the same break from convention as the novel’s “main” couple, but their attempt at autonomy ends in catastrophe and Lorenzo kills himself. The couple Lorenzo-Luise provides, as Dagmar von Gersdorff has pointed out, in many respects a “counterpoint”76 to the happy couple Albert-Nanette: whereas Albert and Nanette choose to transcend the wanton impositions of positive law and religious division, Lorenzo and Luise are unable to do so, and their union ends in tragedy. Nevertheless, in keeping with Albert’s programmatic assertion that “We ourselves vouch for ourselves,” it is clear that the infirmity of the union of Lorenzo and Luise, its dependence on the “the fragile buttresses of priestly blessing, of bourgeois honor, of sickly habit,”77 is owed to a lack or infirmity of autonomy on the part of Lorenzo and Luise. While the novel introduces the doomed liaison in order to show that, in the present state of affairs, only exceptional unions can survive the vicissitudes of custom and creed, the fact that the novel anchors its marital theory in Fichte’s Erkenntnistheorie tends to weaken that claim, laying the blame for the failure of Lorenzo and Luise’s love at the lovers’ own doorstep. In his 1794 Erste Einleitung in die Wissenschaftslehre, Fichte famously claimed that “what kind of philosophy one chooses depends entirely on what kind of person one is.”78 Those who see themselves at the mercy of external forces and thus profoundly heteronomous become “dogmatists,” while those who understand themselves to be at the spontaneous root of all appearances become “idealists.” Analogously, Blüthenalter seems to argue, what kind of relationship one enters depends on what kind of person one is—for those of insufficient autonomy, only religion, honor, and morality can provide support, whereas those of sufficient autonomy can draw on their own selves exclusively. It is perhaps not surprising that Mereau would find it safer to give this rather radical critique of marriage to a male protagonist to expound. In

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fact, many critics have observed that the novel’s focalization through a man in a nonepistolary narrative constitutes Blüthenalter’s most decisive break from the women’s fiction of its day.79 It is a strange effect of this authorial legerdemain that the dialogue on marriage, which constitutes the philosophical centerpiece of Mereau’s novel, has to pit Albert, expounding the author’s own views, against two women. In the course of the debate, the women come to embody something of a “reality principle” over and against Albert’s metaphysics: whereas Albert insists on the primacy of right over positive law, the primacy of feeling over conventional moral stricture, and of autonomy over the seemingly “given” world we inhabit, the women emphasize the actual vis-à-vis the rational, to use Hegel’s famous terminology. In other words, while Albert’s utopian vision of a possible marriage persists in relative autonomy from marital law as it is actually practiced, Nanette’s aunt forces him to confront this ideal vision with precisely the reality that his utopian vision self-consciously pushed aside. Nanette’s aunt offers a rebuttal to Albert’s claims by “mak[ing] reference only to the real state of affairs, and by never letting the current constitution of the world be confused with some ideal one.”80 This return of what metaphysics repressed leaves the novel suspended between the utopian claims of Albert’s theory of marriage and the fallen praxis the novel actually describes. It is of course probable that the novel pins its hopes for their eventual mediation on the French Revolution, but, if so, that hope is never (and in 1794 Jena potentially could not be) made explicit. The novel’s denouement, the emigration to America — just as much as the “resolution” of the debate that constitutes the novel’s central episode— ends up deferring the problem of how the contradiction between ideal and reality is to be resolved. This return of the repressed consists of a relapse into the triangular configuration that the novel relied on to constitute its couple, and that it supposedly (alongside fiction, alongside convention) left behind. The novel signals the impossibility of a metaphysics of marriage divorced from empirical, conventional reality by knowingly turning once more to shopworn plots characteristic of trivial literature. At this first moment of impasse between the ideal constitution of marriage and the shape it actually takes, the novel reverts to the configuration with which it opened, by positioning Albert vis-à-vis another couple. This couple is a fraternal one, if anything more natural, more authentic (and more “unspoken”) than the bond between Albert and Nanette. At the very point at which Albert’s appeals to reason are met equally persistently


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with appeals to the “current constitution of the world,” he invokes the name Lorenzo: “If only I had Lorenzo’s forceful eloquence.”81 Only at this point does Nanette realize that Albert knows her brother, and Albert realizes that Lorenzo is Nanette’s brother. This highly literary sleight of hand, the discovery of hitherto unimagined familial connections in the final act of the narrative, forestalls the remainder of the discussion, or, perhaps better, interrupts it at a point where resolution has become impossible—it is an aporetic narration. Lorenzo’s irruption into the novel suspends and displaces the contradiction between the real and the ideal, which is left unresolved. This retreat into narration is of course particularly striking given the fact that the novel has thus far decried narration as subaltern to nondiscursive feeling; in other words, the novel withdraws into that very inauthenticity the absence of which was to constitute the condition of possibility for its central “marriage plot.” Plot, banished from the province of Empfindung, rears its head again.

Transcendental Narcissists, Transcendental Masturbators Blüthenalter is marked by two different kinds of plots: on the one hand the “main” plot detailing the romance of Albert and Nanette, on the other the family saga of Nanette and Lorenzo. When the novel’s first reviewer in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (Karl Ludwig Woltmann) characterizes the novel as “a series of paintings,”82 a concatenation of idyllic vignettes, he is obviously referring only to the first of these two plots. And, indeed, nothing much happens in this first plot. What events there are are relegated to the interstices; travel, conversation, discovery (so important in, say, Wilhelm Meister) are all emphatically foreshortened, in favor of lengthy descriptions of bucolic scenes in which nothing of consequence to the plot transpires. Moreover, if Mereau’s is a typical marriage plot, that is to say, a story of delayed realization of a couple’s unification, the very iteration of the vignettes renders the form’s characteristic coitus interruptus increasingly bizarre as the novel wears on. Because all of the twisting turning is relegated to the secondary plot, only a constant and increasingly implausible cycle of loss and retrieval keeps the primary narrative moving forward. That this is anything but accidental, and certainly not (as reviewer Woltmann seems to have thought) owed to a lack of authorial control, becomes clear when one juxtaposes this marriage plot with the plot of

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“virtue rewarded” that forms Nanette’s back story. We have already noted its roots in Trivialliteratur, but we might equally well adduce Samuel Richardson’s Pamela and Clarissa as progenitors. In fact, then, the anemic (and antinovelistic) qualities of the first plot are underpinned or made possible by the salaciousness and ostentatious literariness of the second. Of course, the novel appears to regard this literariness as a necessary evil, as at base inauthentic and supplementary — it becomes necessary only in its association with Ehe, with convention and social constraint. In the relationship of its two plots, the novel thus stages the supplementary relationship of the metaphysics of marriage (the marriage plot) and the social and linguistic structure of that marriage. Since, however, the novel, unlike those of Schlegel and Novalis, insists on the great gulf between love and marriage, the love relationship, once sanctioned as marriage, requires the secondary, allegedly supplemental plot. The novel thus could be seen to reject the phantasm of an extrasocial, extralinguistic marital bond and to point out that the literary (and thus conventional) mode of transportation is not accidental to this metaphysics but rather required. And indeed, in spite of its main character’s metaphysical purism (behind which the novel seems to throw its support at times), Blüthenalter actively stages the undoing of both the purity of Empfindung and the purity of the autonomous, self-positing subject, by locating the fictive at the heart of each of these positions. Mereau effects this unraveling by putting into play the gender categories that covertly subtend and support the imaginaries of the metaphysical and of the positing subject. This is not to say that she disputes the usefulness or the validity of either; indeed, she relies on them to justify her own empowerment. However, she seems to understand the limits imposed on the utility of metaphysics and autonomy by tradition and by traditional gender categories. In so doing, she anticipates a critique that, without her sympathy for the Idealist project and with characteristic humor, her admirer Jean Paul would level at Fichte (discussed in detail in the next chapter). Let us return once more to the brief episode of “transcendental masturbation” at the outset of the novel and reexamine it in terms of literariness and autonomy. As we shall see, this autoerotic moment is itself in dialogue with textuality and literariness. Albert, reclining under a lime tree, “had been reading, until my reading had transitioned into feeling [Empfinden],” and then loses himself in “my usual sweet reveries.”83 The moment of pure self-sufficient (and autoerotic) Empfindung is introduced as an effect of, or perhaps natural “transition” from, reading. Although we


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never learn just what Albert is reading, we may safely assume that the kind of book one reads under a lime tree on an Italian voyage is likely to be literature—the “high-strung, rose-tinted descriptions” in which Nanette’s villainous lover traffics,84 and which Albert tells us are, by their very essence, inadequate to the Empfindung of love.85 As we have seen, the novel stages an injunction at this point; a floating piece of discourse redirects Albert’s eros onto a fictive obstacle course. But is it the injunction that constitutes an irruption of discursivity into a nonlinguistic moment of erotic solipsism, or is that moment itself discursively constituted? After all, in the eighteenth century, the fraught question of autoeroticism was mediated extensively through practices of reading, more specifically of reading literary texts.86 What Rousseau famously charac­ terized as literature that “can only be read with one hand” (“on ne peut les lire que d’une main”)87 was characterized by the same sentimentality and contrivance that marked the ostentatious literariness of Blüthenalter’s emphatically unnecessary, illegitimate, and inauthentic background narratives. 88 In some way, then, Albert’s autoerotic reverie is a kind of reading, and the couple that first instantiates the outré literariness that the text as much relies on as abjures enters the narrative as an object of literary consumption. However, as Helga Meise has pointed out, the type of reader who was seen to masturbate by consuming fiction was female.89 Mereau’s later husband Clemens Brentano, for example, expresses this common perception when he claims in a letter to his sister (confusingly also named Sophie) that it is precisely the novel that “flatters” women readers.90 When Albert indulges in his autoerotic fantasy, then, he is engaging not only in an act of literary consumption but moreover in an explicitly gendered kind of literary consumption: he reads like a woman. Perhaps it is this transvestitism of literary consumption that piqued Friedrich Schlegel when he jokingly remarked in a letter to his brother that “in the beginning, we meet a young being, in whose essence all kinds of feelings flow about. It is sitting alone in the grass very relaxed. I say ‘it,’ because I was sure it was supposed to be a girl, but it was supposed to be a boy.”91 Schlegel understands Mereau’s playful reversal of gendered categories of readership as an infirmity on the part of the author. Mereau, he seems to imply, may be attempting to write a male character but unwittingly makes him a woman. In fact, he concludes his letter to August Wilhelm with a crude joke by suggesting that Albert is really waiting for the kind of sexual satisfaction that his creatress is all too willing to dispense.92 But

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the question whether the es sitting in the grass is a masturbating woman or a masturbating man is of course extremely important in the context of Enlightenment discourses of masturbation, as is the question of whether Mereau is the masturbating es or “its” longed-for object. After all, the late eighteenth-century analogy between female onanism and female readership, as well as the long list of ill effects that was attributed to both solitary vices, turned on the notion of an excess of receptivity and passivity. Just as Kant and Fichte (as we saw in chapter 1) regarded the woman problem as fundamentally stemming from the purely receptive nature of sensuality, female onanism and female readership were construed as purely passive, unreflective, and receptive. Similarly, as Simon Richter has shown, the fear that attached to male autoeroticism stemmed from the notion that a man who lacked control over the discharge of his semen was insufficiently autonomous and thus in some way female.93 Thomas Laqueur has suggested that it was as a manifestation of excessive selfhood rather than of an excess of pleasure that female masturbation vexed the Enlightenment.94 But while Albert engages in the same excess of self as the figure of the masturbating woman, he does not masturbate through excessive receptivity. Much the opposite: he indulges himself through projection, through active construction, or, in the Fichtean idiom that Mereau herself employed, through constitution of an imaginary love object. Albert’s masturbation, in other words, is an exercise in autonomy, even an excess of autonomy. The couple and its narrative come into being not simply to censor Albert’s congress with his own imagination; rather the couple and the narrative emerge from Albert’s imagination. They are, as Fichte might call it, an Anstoss: something real upon which the subject’s constitutive activity hits, and which allows it to posit a Not-I out of itself in the first place. Albert’s “transition” from the masturbatory feminine Bild to the voiced echo of the overheard conversation proceeds in the reverse direction of Narcissus’s infatuation in Greek myth. In her 1799 translation of Joseph Addison’s “Narcissus”95 (itself a free translation from Ovid’s Metamorphoses), which appeared in Kalathiskos under the pseudonym “H. Sophie Schubart” (a compound of Sophie Mereau and her sister Henriette Schubart),96 Mereau was given the chance to stage the paradigmatic autoerotic scene, and her translation draws on an opposition between the seductions of the visual image and the truth-speaking of the voice.97 In Ovid, the voice’s truth emerges from its link with Echo, the doomed nymph who fades into nothing but faint whispers. Echo’s renunciation of visuality is a


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token of her loving attachment to another (Narcissus), while his fetishization of visuality is testament to his own self-attachment. When Blüthenalter voices an injunction against Albert’s visual congress with himself, rather than staging it visually, it takes the narcissistic one-way street but going the wrong way: the voice alerts the autoerotic subject to a potential outside object for its libido. The moment of pure autonomy is thus a profoundly narcissistic one, and it requires, in order for any rapport to obtain with an outside object (to constitute an outside object), the medium of discourse, of language and of fiction. The insistent intertextuality of the episode always already undercuts the autonomous subject’s pretensions of absoluteness. We have already noted the literary provenance of the exchange that Albert overhears and that stages the injunction. It represents an adaptation of an exchange in the letters of Ninon de Lenclos, quoted at length in Mereau’s biographical sketch from 1802.98 The exchange and the context in which Mereau embeds it in Blüthenalter further unsettle the claim of autonomy. Besides marking the claim as a solipsistic fiction, the exchange identifies the autonomous subject as a profoundly masculinist fiction. In the episode,99 a disappointed lover leaves a poetic note on her nightstand, whose “pique” (Spitze) she, just like Nanette in Blüthenalter, turns “against its writer”100 (in Blüthenalter, it is even her “opponent”).101 Unwürdig meiner Glut, unwürdig meiner Tränen, Entsag’ ich Deinem Reiz, dem’s an Gehalt gebricht; Von meiner Liebe konntest Du ihn nur entlehnen, Denn wirklich, Falsche! hattest Du ihn nicht. [Indigne de mes feux, indigne de mes larmes, Je renonce sans peine à tes faibles appas; Mon amour te prêtait des charmes, Ingrate, que tu n’avais pas.]102

In Blüthenalter, the cardinal analogously charges that “you yourself were not worth my love; only love lent you an allure you do not really have.”103 In the context of Mereau’s later biographical essay “Ninon de Lenclos,” this invective may seem little more than a common trope of frustrated love. In the context of what we have termed the “transcendental prelude” of the earlier novel, however, it is difficult to miss the degree to which the figure draws on the language of transcendental constitution. The cardinal’s

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love has created a beautiful woman, but this constitutum turns out to be a pure figment of the constituting subject (constituens) with no substance of her own. As Søren Kierkegaard would later put it, Gallantry “consists . . . in construing by means of fantastic categories the person to whom one is gallant.”104 Mereau similarly understands love as concerned with the construing of the loved object by way of “fantastic categories.” The charge is not simply that Ninon/Nanette is without charms but that moreover she is at base her lover’s product—a Kantian point that we have encountered in the context of his “Apologia for the Senses” in chapter 1. The beauty that attached to the constitutum turns out to be but a solipsistic echo of the transcendental narcissus: her appeal is “borrowed” (entlehnt) from the categories of his love. And it is this status as man’s representation that makes her as unwürdig in a sense much more expansive than the indigne in the French: the original Ninon is indigne of adulation, “unworthy”; Mereau’s Ninon lacks that much more central quality Fichte termed Würde owing to her status as man’s representation. Indeed, Mereau’s choice to translate the French indigne as unwürdig and insensible in Ninon’s response as fühllos105 may well constitute a pointed allusion to Schiller. In the 1788 poem “Die Götter Griechenland,” Schiller described “nature robbed of gods” (entgötterte Natur) as “fühllos selbst für ihres Künstlers Ehre.” The very nature that Schiller has allied woman with in “Anmuth und Würde,” returns disenchanted as the female subject and proclaims its unfeelingness with active malice. Schiller’s nature has been closed off to men’s hearts; Mereau’s Ninon closes her heart quite actively. In “Ninon de Lenclos,” Ninon responds as follows: Fühllos bei Deiner Glut, fühllos bei Deinen Tränen, Seh ich Dich flieh’n, weil mir’s an Reiz gebricht, Doch könnt’ ich Reiz von Deiner Glut entlehnen, Warum, mein Freund! entlehntest Du ihn nicht?106 [Insensible à tes feux, insensible à tes larmes, Je te vois renoncer à mes faibles appas; Mais si l’amour prête des charmes, Pourquoi n’en empruntais-tu pas?]107

When Nanette utters the same joke in Blüthenalter, it reads as follows: “But if love lends charms, why didn’t you borrow any from her?”108 Ninon’s phrasing is perhaps more thoroughgoing in its reversal of the “borrowing”


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than Nanette’s. Whereas Nanette wonders why love bestowed no such attractiveness on the cardinal, Ninon leaves the “lender” of attractiveness ambiguous. However, Ninon’s rhyme makes clear that if the frustrated love object’s “ardor” constituted her as a love object, he fails to borrow from her love, in other words he fails to become, or fails in becoming, her constitutum. The charge in the Nanette version of the bon mot is that the cardinal is ugly, whereas in the Ninon version it is that he fails in being a transcendental love object. If she is all his doing, then he is not sufficiently hers. If he recognizes only his own categories in her charms, she doesn’t recognize hers in him. Mereau’s playful reversal of gendered autonomy entails an implicit discomfort with Fichte’s theory of consciousness; more important, however, at the moment that the constitutum “talks back,” as it were, and chides the lover for failing to appeal to her, Mereau clearly utilizes autonomy to critique Schiller’s notions of “Anmuth und Würde.” In opposition to the specular model Rousseau employs in book 5 of Émile, Mereau insists that women are not mere objects of loving approbation and desire; they may well objectify men in turn. And in opposition to Schiller’s essay, Mereau notes that “it is a horrible stereotype that the free exercise of powers, and the sense for living enjoyment of being, may lower the value of female character or do violence to her grace.”109 Mereau thus marshals Fichte’s concept of autonomy against Schiller’s notion of a femininity that forever rests self-sufficiently and passively in itself, while at the same time mobilizing the idea of woman as the purveyor of beauty to suggest that man may well be woman’s transcendental object, thereby putting Fichte’s metaphysics of autonomy to the test. That this leaves the union of the sexes, and thus marriage, in a strange position is clear: the union without remainder that animates the idea of marriage as Seyn is made impossible once the transcendental relation has itself been specularized. Moreover, the union that does ensue has autonomy only by authorial fiat; there is no sense as to why or how the relationship can form one will while maintaining the autonomy of both its participants. Mereau’s novel, and her oeuvre as a whole, thus make an ambivalent contribution to the metaphysics of marriage. On the one hand, Mereau clearly subscribes to the idea that the love or marital relationship can ground some kind of better praxis, and it is precisely the ability of two wills to become a common one in love that enables it to do so. On the other hand, however, Mereau clearly chafes at the neatness of the model, asserting forcefully the phantasmatic, the fictional, and the contingent charac-

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ter of the sexual relation as it is conceived by this soi-disant metaphysics. These two concerns are of course irresolvable, and it seems Mereau was content to let their contradiction play out in her fiction, too much of a realist about matters of marriage to follow into the heady territory the canonical Jena Romantics proceeded to take the subject. As we shall see, her faith in love as a possible engine for politics, all her evident misgivings notwithstanding, sets her apart from the male writer who would, during her own lifetime, level many of the same objections at the metaphysics of marriage—Jean Paul.

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Transcendental Masturbators: Jean Paul’s Siebenkäs


n Either/Or (Enten-Eller, 1843), Søren Kierkegaard has the ethicist B (Judge William) respond to the aesthete of the “Diary of the Seducer” (Forførerens Dagbog) with an “Aesthetic Defense of Marriage” (AEstetiske vaerdi i aegteskab).1 In the course of his defense, B agitates against fiction, charging it with bringing couples together but never thematizing their actual togetherness: “Over the centuries have not writers and readers of novels labored over one volume after the other in order to end with a happy marriage?” But they have not been able to truly justify marriage, “for precisely this is the corruption, the unhealthiness in these books, that they end where they should begin.”2 All they do, B claims, is show the fulfillment of a wish, rather than what follows its fulfillment. This, he claims in a Hegelian turn of phrase, means to present love in its “abstract immediacy.” In other words, on the unification picture the unity of the partners obtains as something simply given, something that has no necessary internal structure—a critique not all too dissimilar from Hegel’s picture of marriage as self-declension (see chapter 5). The upshot of Kierkegaard’s “defense,” however, is entirely anti-Hegelian—for he wants to valorize the “lazy existence” (faule Existenz)3 of concrete marital life over and against the union literature strives for. The first novel to seriously undertake the kind of project Kierkegaard calls for appeared in the late eighteenth century and came from an author Kierkegaard was quite familiar with.4 Jean Paul, born Johann Paul Friedrich Richter (1763–1825), took his nom de plume in veneration of Rousseau. Born into the family of a Protestant pastor in what was at the time the outer periphery of German cultural life, as a youth he came in

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contact with an intellectual world that was much different from that of the roommates at Tübingen or of the Young Turks of critical philosophy at Jena. Instead, Jean Paul came of age intellectually in the context of the very Enlightenment thought that his more metropolitan peers (though he was slightly older than the Jena group) had come to oppose. Much like Kierkegaard, therefore, he remained skeptical of what he considered the excesses of Idealist system building. After studies in Leipzig followed by years of indigence, Jean Paul in 1795 published his satirical novel Hesperus, which became a runaway bestseller and earned widespread praise, although once again not from the giants of Jean Paul’s own generation, but rather from writers associated with the Enlightenment (in particular Christoph Martin Wieland, Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim, and Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi). While Goethe and Schiller were unimpressed, Schiller’s erstwhile paramour Charlotte von Kalb was smitten and invited Jean Paul to Weimar in 1796. It was here that he met most of the dramatis personae of this study. In 1798, Jean Paul relocated to Weimar entirely, later moving to Berlin. Not only did his “marriage novel” Siebenkäs appear in those years, he was moreover confronted with the concrete possibility of marriage, as the reluctant author fielded and successfully evaded a number of propositions from noble ladies. In Berlin, he encountered the brothers Schlegel, Schleiermacher, and Fichte—thinkers very much at odds with his intellectual background, which made them welcome targets for his satires. In 1797, Jean Paul published Siebenkäs, which details the marital life of a poor country lawyer, chronicling the brief (and ill-fated) marriage not in love letters and Klopstock moments but rather in terms of expenditure, dinner conversations, and (attempts at) procreation. That alone would make the novel interesting in the context of our study. After all, nearly every text we have considered so far, whether literary or theoretical, has thought marriage (and love) as a kind of cosmic union (“complete unification,” as Fichte called it); and neither Lucinde, nor the “Deduction of Marriage,” nor Mereau’s Blüthenalter made any attempt to portray realistic marital life. Unification was the telos of marriage and of the marriage narrative. But Siebenkäs not only undercuts this teleology much as Kierkegaard was to propose later; the novel (and a whole complex of writings turning on the subject of marriage from the same period) finds Jean Paul leveling a more general critique at the Romantics and at Fichtean Idealism. It was not simply their view of marriage that was the target of his satire, but more specifically their metaphysics of marriage.


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It is for this reason that we will conclude our survey of the metaphysics of marriage in German Idealism with an in-depth consideration of Jean Paul’s text.5 Siebenkäs carries a characteristically involved subtitle: Blumen-, Fruchtund Dornenstücke oder Ehestand, Tod und Hochzeit des Armenadvokaten F. St. Siebenkäs im Reichsmarktflecken Kuhschnappel (Flower, Fruit and Thorn Pieces; or, The Married Life, Death and Wedding of the Advocate of the Poor, Firmian Stanislaus Siebenkäs, In the Market Town of Kuhschnappel).6 The strange progression of “marital life,” “death,” and “wedding” indeed summarizes the novel quite succinctly. As the novel opens, Firmian Stanislaus Siebenkäs is getting married to the petit bourgeois Lenette, but marital life turns out to be a disaster. On a trip to Bayreuth, he meets his true soul mate Natalie and, in the end, bows out of his marriage by means of the trick the book’s subtitle indicates: he dies, or rather fakes his death using his friend and doppelganger Leibgeber. Returning to his native Kuhschnappel after a year of posing as Leibgeber, Siebenkäs finds Natalie standing by his own graveside and the two exchange vows of eternal love. The fact that the novel treats their rapturous and secret reunion by the “back door” of a churchyard as a “wedding” should no longer surprise us at this point. It has been the identifying mark of the metaphysical discourse on marriage we have been tracing that it does not think that marriage is qualitatively different from true love. What is different here, however, is the fact that this Hochzeit is juxtaposed with the Ehestand, the longue durée of Siebenkäs’s first marriage. This, as we found Kierkegaard charging in his “Aesthetic Defense of Marriage,” is unusual: after the “complete unification” of the marriage, literature often leaves the Ehestand blank or subsumes it into an “ever after.” While Jean Paul’s other novels too (Hesperus and Titan in particular) often tread the worn footpath of the marriage plot, Siebenkäs finds the author agreeing with Kierkegaard that the truth of marriage lies not in the goal-directed process of unification but rather in the prolonged state of being unified. But where Kierkegaard offers a værdi of this marriage as “lazy existence,” Jean Paul seems far less sanguine in his assessment of marital life. As we shall see, Jean Paul’s novel undercuts the rhetoric of unification by indulging it. He begins his “marriage novel” with a union ex nihilo, only to then watch that union dissolve. Similarly, he starts the novel with an episode (not unlike that with which we found Sophie Mereau opening her Blüthenalter in chapter 6) that indulges the fantasy of subjective autonomy and satirizes it as well; much like Mereau, he lampoons any theory

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of marriage based on Fichtean autonomy as essentially masturbatory. As we know from the preceding chapters, both the fantasy of absolute marital autonomy and that of individual autonomy find powerful expression in the thought of Johann Gottlieb Fichte: the idea that the metaphysical autonomy of the individual can ground both theoretical and practical philosophy; and the related idea that marriage is nothing other than the union of two people, unencumbered by facts of anthropology, tradition, or religion. Siebenkäs has been called “the first German marriage novel,”7 preceding the “second” and more famous one— Goethe’s Wahlverwandtschaften (1809)—by more than a decade. It also dates from 1795/96, and thus the period in which its author’s critical preoccupation with Kant gave way to an increased animus against Fichte. While it is Siebenkäs’s sequel, 1802’s Titan, that contains the famous “Clavis Fichtiana seu Leibgeberiana,” a strange amalgam of fiction and philosophy directly playing the figure of the doppelganger off against Idealist philosophy, the eponymous doppelganger Leibgeber (literally: “bodygiver”) makes his first appearance in Siebenkäs. Rather curiously, though, few commentators have felt compelled to theorize this conjunction of “first doppelganger” and “first marriage novel.” Generally, those critics who are interested in the novel for its views on marriage tend to sideline Leibgeber, and those who are interested in the genesis of the doppelganger and its fate from Jean Paul to Freud have usually treated the marriage as epiphenomenal.8 Theory of self-consciousness (of which the doppelganger is an element) versus social observation (the anthropology of marriage offered in the novel)—if the preceding chapters have made anything clear, it is that this dichotomy cannot and should not be maintained. Jean Paul’s Siebenkäs appeared at a time in which the theory of marriage and the theory of self-consciousness were curiously intertwined. Not surprisingly, then, conjugal speculum and doppelganger, these two doublings of the self, both in dialogue with German Idealist theories of consciousness, enter the debate over marriage at the exact same moment.9 In the following, then, we will put into relation three topoi of Siebenkäs, for which Jean-Marie Paul has found the following formula: “love of the other, love of the double, and love of the self.”10 Otherness, doubleness, and solipsism are all features of the Romantic and Idealist metaphysics of marriage, though Jean Paul configures them altogether differently than the other thinkers considered in this study. In order to show to what extent Jean Paul’s contribution to this discourse is in fact informed by the other


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metaphysicians of marriage, we will have to take into account not only the original version of Siebenkäs but also the expanded edition of 1818,11 the so-called “Clavis Fichtiana,” written in 1800, and the notes to a potential sequel to Siebenkäs to be entitled Siebenkäsens zweite Ehe. The reason for this is simple: Siebenkäs appeared two years after Fichte’s Foundations of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre (1794) and in the same year as the Foundations of Natural Right. There is no evidence to suggest that Jean Paul had read either of these texts when he wrote the original version of Siebenkäs. He appears to have read the “Deduction of Marriage,” which appeared separately in the Allgemeine Literaturzeitung in November of 1798, and of which Jean Paul remarks in a letter that he thinks “Fichte’s theory about the sexes absolutely wrong.”12 The Wissenschaftslehre, on the other hand, Jean Paul seems to have gotten to know only in the so-called nova methodo version, entitled “Attempt at a New Presentation of the Wissenschaftslehre” (“Versuch einer neuen Darstellung der Wissenschaftslehre”), which appeared in the Philosophisches Journal in 1797. Jean Paul mentions that he has read the text in a letter to Jacobi in December 1798.13 Of all of Fichte’s writings, the only ones Jean Paul is likely to have been familiar with when writing Siebenkäs appear to be the lectures in The Vocation of the Scholar (Die Bestimmung des Gelehrten) in 1794, which Jean Paul appears to have read in 1796.14 All that being said, Jean Paul had been familiar with the critical philosophy in its earlier guises in Kant and Reinhold almost since its inception. He appears to have at least glanced at Kant’s first critique the very year it was published (he mentioned it in a letter to Erhard Friedrich Vogel on September 17, 1781); he was in close contact with Jacobi, the foremost opponent of the critical philosophy since the 1780s;15 he mentioned the ideas of the second (and possibly third) critique in a letter to Christian Otto in November 1794. In its general outlines, then, Jean Paul was quite familiar with the critical philosophy as well as with nascent German Idealism—including those ideas that were to become distinctive for the Jena Romantics. His Siebenkäs, as we will see, stages an elaborate parody of their claims, by submitting to ironic scrutiny both the autonomy of the self and the autonomy of marriage, as well as the analogy the metaphysicians of marriage constructed between the two. Jean Paul in many ways reverses Fichte (whether avant la lettre or in reaction to him): the identification of male and female with I and Not-I respectively is used not to unite practical and theoretical reason but rather to get them to highlight their mutual inadequacies, as the next section shows. The practical activity of the I is

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really nothing other than the creation of an echo chamber, which the I’s theoretical activity then is content to sound out.

Absolute Marriages The great innovation of the eighteenth-century discourse on love had been the notion that love may reveal the deep, empfindsam subjectivity of a person; the marriage plot of course also told the story of the mediation of individual and society, but more important it described how, in Hegel’s words, subjects come to know themselves “as the unity of myself with another and of the other with me.”16 This usually meant describing the coming together of such a union, and usually such accounts eschewed the actual being together that the union ostensibly consists in. As we noted in chapter 6, this figure of unification is intimately tied to a trope introduced by Marivaux, the amour naissant, a love to whose coming-into-being we are witness in a text, but whose intensity is such that language always fails to capture it entirely.17 In Sophie Mereau’s Blüthenalter der Empfindung, “marriage” is treated precisely as a failed attempt to render textual the elusive original moment of love. Mereau’s friend Jean Paul picked up on her notion of marriage but used it to explode the discourse of love in late eighteenth-century Germany. For Siebenkäs is the story not of an amour naissant but rather of a dying love. Mereau’s text strained to present us with a relationship that would not be contaminated by the textuality of marriage; Jean Paul gives us a ready-made relationship and then writes it to death, executes it by text. What Paul Fleming has identified as the paradoxical law of Jean Paul’s humor, that “while aiming for the infinite, its procedure consists in collecting all the minutiae of life,”18 is thus applied to marriage: the demand for complete unification survives, but only as a spectral presence (not least in the figure of Natalie) from which the “minutiae” of marital life forever block the hero.19 The novel begins with an “absolute marriage” all its own, a marriage that is entirely presuppositionless in its autonomy. Just as in Mereau’s Blüthenalter der Empfindung, the union of two people is contrasted to the narrative of their unification— once we have to narrate, we have left the absolute union behind.20 In Siebenkäs’s opening, we are given no account of a courtship (if indeed there was such a thing at all) or of either partner’s familial background (they both turn out to be orphans); neither


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of the marital partners comes with a family in tow, and Lenette, as we shall see, arrives unencumbered by such marital (and literary) paraphernalia as a personality or psychology. She does, however, arrive in a very nice hat — or rather, arrives as a very nice hat. While the marriage is a fait (presque) accompli when the novel opens, Lenette arrives in bits and pieces to be assembled before the reader. When Siebenkäs finally lays eyes on his bride-to-be, that bride turns out to be a hairdresser’s dummy (Haubenkopf ) transporting Lenette’s hat. “Your fiancée,” Schulrat Stiefel explains, “will follow any minute now.” The piecemeal construction of (particularly female) characters is a persistent theme in Jean Paul’s fictions and is frequently introduced together with questions of marriage and eroticism. Loving an object and constructing it seem to be in some respects the same thing. An episode from Jean Paul’s 1789 Selections from the Devil’s Papers (Auswahl aus des Teufels Papieren), entitled “Simple-Minded but Well-Meaning Biography of a New and More Pleasant Woman of Wood That I Recently Invented and Married” (“Einfältige aber gutgemeinte Biographie einer neuen angenehmen Frau von bloßem Holz, die ich längst erfunden und geheirathet”), makes another Haubenkopf into the means by which a male subjectivity projects its desires into an object, (not quite) animating it. The narrator purchases a hairdresser’s dummy from a local hatter, choosing one that “had a felicitous physiognomy.”21 He then embarks on what he terms the “cosmogony of my wife,” describing in loving detail how he carves, planes, and sands his future “wife.”22 Moreover, this kind of “cosmogonic” artifice is not limited to the thematic level of Jean Paul’s fictions. Among their many distinctive features is the so-called demiurgic narrator (usually explicitly identified as a man named “Jean Paul”) who not only obtrusively intervenes in the telling of the story, but also repeatedly insists that he is physically assembling before the reader’s eyes not just the story being told but the characters interacting within it. The parallelism between the writing of fictions and the “cosmogony of a wife” comes to a head in the “Clavis Fichtiana,” where “Jean Paul” and the doppelganger Leibgeber engage in a complex pas de deux of construction and counterconstruction. In Siebenkäs, then, this demiurgic narrator (whose presence is acknowledged throughout the novel and whom the novel calls “Jean Paul”) creates the two marital partners’ union before he properly creates them—that they might have individually wished for this union, and why they might have, is ignored entirely. The narrator provides no conditions for their togetherness; it is yet another marriage that is autonomous or absolute in the Fichtean sense, a “posited,” unconditioned marriage. But that absolute-

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ness comes in for ridicule right away. At their wedding, the doppelganger Leibgeber delivers what the novel refers to as an “Adamic” wedding toast, and he describes the couple in the language of a vitalist absolute, a parody avant la lettre of the sexual metaphysics of Novalis and Franz von Baader—“protoplasts, or the first parental and marital couple.”23 This is not simply a Fichtean marriage: Leibgeber’s toast raises the autonomy of this couple to extreme, measureless, and comical heights. For if the novel’s author creates this “first couple” as a couple out of whole cloth, he nevertheless sets its marriage up to fail. The wedding toast to the “first parental couple” already foreshadows the couple’s eventual failure to procreate, the first step toward the dissolution of this “absolute” marriage. But more urgently than the couple’s, it appears to be the author’s desire to procreate that dooms Siebenkäs and Lenette: Siebenkäs must become an author in his own right, the demiurge must beget a demiurge, and to that end Lenette must be out of the picture. Siebenkäs is a kind of Bildungsroman, though an exceedingly strange one—but love and marriage to a doting wife are not vital steps in that Bildung (as they are for Rousseau’s Émile as much as for Hölderlin’s Hyperion). Instead, Lenette constitutes an obstacle to the novelist’s Bildung of his protagonist into another novelist, “Jean Paul’s” doppelganger. In fact, the collection Siebenkäs works on in the novel is Jean Paul’s own Selections from the Devil’s Papers. Jean Paul’s novel undercuts the rhetoric of unification by opening with an already accomplished unification (which as a result remains entirely abstract) and chronicling the dissolution of the union. The author thus takes as his starting point and renders literal the notion that marriage creates a “new” autonomous family rather than continuing a family line that exceeds the married couple themselves; it creates a couple that has no ancestral line and that will have no children. This “cosmogonic” creatio ex nihilo, in other words, undercuts the rhetoric of marital autonomy by indulging it, taking it at its most literal.24 During the wedding the novel indulges in rapturous praise of unification, having the partners “melt into one angel in heaven,” only to then point out that the same is true for many earthly marriages as well, except that they condense into one fallen angel.25 The impish narrator of Siebenkäs perversely grants the fantasy that has animated the metaphysics of marriage since Fichte: that marriage is (or should be) only about the marital partners, regardless of origin or telos. But of course it is not only marriage that is at stake in the mésalliance between Firmian Stanislaus Siebenkäs and Lenette, and not only the fantasy of marital autonomy that is perversely indulged in this opening chapter.


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So is the fantasy of subjective autonomy, which, once again, Jean Paul associates primarily with Fichte. In terms of plot, the undoing of Siebenkäs’s marriage has a name: Leibgeber. It is the confusion between Siebenkäs and his doppelganger (owed to a desire to “continue the algebraic identity”26 between the two) that allows Siebenkäs’s villainous guardian Blaise to deny Siebenkäs his inheritance, which will eventually lead to the couple’s descent into indigence. It is Leibgeber who will eventually allow Siebenkäs to dissolve his marriage to Lenette in the most elegant fashion possible —by dying. The relationship to the doppelganger is, as JeanMarie Paul points out, not unlike that between lovers in Romanticism: their union (in this case the name swap and the physical mimicry) is meant as a joke at the expense of atomistic civil society, “to show the vanity of the distinctions imposed by society.”27 Leibgeber’s interference with the “absolute couple” with which the novel begins starts at the wedding ceremony, which he disrupts simply by showing up and looking like the groom. When he irrupts into the ceremony, he does so prefashioned, perfectly (“algebraically”) identical with Siebenkäs. And fashioned he is: his and Siebenkäs’s souls, the narrator “Jean Paul” tells us, are quite different, but these different souls have decided to attire themselves with the same tailorings, colors, buttons. They arrive on the scene identical—the work of identification has been done already, on what the mysterious narrator refers to as his “workbench.” Lenette, however, who has appeared on the scene just as mysteriously as Leibgeber, is still very much a work in progress. In fact, when first we meet Leibgeber, he is busy producing a paper cutting of her silhouette: “During the exchange of rings, Leibgeber pulled a pair of scissors and a black piece of paper from his pocket and began cutting the bride’s face into his shadow paper from afar.”28 The “Clavis Fichtiana” similarly associates the papercutting technique with the activity of the Fichtean I: “And then there is the wide Carthage, the infinite city of God, tailored from the skin of the I.”29 Leibgeber’s object constitution here indulges several pet obsessions of the eighteenth century (physiognomy, psaligraphy, etc.), but what is most striking about Leibgeber’s and Siebenkäs’s constant construction work on Lenette is the extreme violence sublimated in the act—they carve, they cut, they sand. It is precisely this violence that Siebenkäs and Leibgeber do not have to endure—they too are constructed by the demiurgic narrator, but they emerge into the narrative already made. Lenette on the other hand suffers the indignity of being made and remade, constituted and reconstituted

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throughout the narrative. Siebenkäs appears fully formed and, moreover, as two main characters, the two doppelganger bosom buddies. Of doppelgangers we are told: “That is what we call people who see themselves.”30 This formula is exactly analogous to that of self-consciousness usually relied on in German Idealism, in particular Fichte: consciousness that watches itself being conscious. In seeing himself in Leibgeber, Siebenkäs is self-conscious, and Lenette, being metaphysically single, is rather like a stone, a beautiful button on a blouse, or indeed the black piece of paper out of which Leibgeber fashions her image. At the same moment that the figure of the doppelganger insists that consciousness is visual, Leibgeber blocks our view of Lenette, eclipsing her with a two-dimensional outline of his own fashioning. The dignity that attaches to Siebenkäs owing to the fact that he has a doppelganger finds its correlate in the indignity that attaches to Lenette insofar as she appears only as an object of someone else’s making. Indeed, doppelgangerdom in Jean Paul is limited to a club with all-male membership. Levana oder Erziehlehre (published first in 1807)31 seems to allude to the formula that the doppelganger “sees himself,” when it claims that “man has two I’s, a woman has only one and requires the other in order to see hers.”32 A man’s visual relationship to his doppelganger I is not entirely different from a marriage. As the Selberlebensbeschreibung describes it, “I had seen myself for the first time and for all eternity.”33 Self-conscious reflection, of which only man is capable, is itself a form of eternal (auf ewig) betrothal—a cognitive marriage to oneself. And indeed, the final words of Siebenkäs, once Firmian has found Natalie, his perfect speculum, have Natalie pledge herself to his side “Ewig, Firmian!”34 Whether in marriage or doppelgangerdom, Siebenkäs is caught in an “eternal” feedback loop of (visual) desire.

Married . . . With Doppelganger Siebenkäs’s opening chapter consecrates a marriage à trois: at the end of the chapter, Siebenkäs finds it hard to “kiss his Leibgeber, let alone his Lenette.”35 He spends his honeymoon with both Lenette and Leibgeber. In Novalis and Schlegel Umarmung always already had a Platonic charge, meaning that it obtained only between two perfectly matched halves, but Siebenkäs finds himself in a double Umarmung. But, as we have seen, this personal configuration has clear transcendental dimensions. The novel’s


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bizarre ménage à trois is nothing other than the marriage of transcendental subject and the object it constitutes for itself. Lenette is not a speculum, whom the masculine subject needs in order to have himself reflected to himself (to reflect on himself), since that subject always already has “his Leibgeber.” Given that doppelgangerdom is closely aligned with the German Idealist conception of self-consciousness, it is perhaps not surprising that when he sought to deliver a blow against Fichte’s theoretical philosophy, in particular its axiom of autonomy, Jean Paul once again turned to the figure of Leibgeber to do the honor. And while Leibgeber thinks he is making one kind of critique, his creator Jean Paul pursues quite another, one that reiterates the charge leveled at the transcendental marriage in Siebenkäs: solipsism. Titan, the novel into which Leibgeber absconds at the end of Siebenkäs, has about as many appendices as Siebenkäs has introductions. The last of these is the “Clavis Fichtiana seu Leibgeberiana,” co-authored by the editor-fiction “Jean Paul” and the doppelganger Leibgeber and dedicated to the real Jean Paul’s good friend and rabid anti-Fichtean Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi.36 The text presents itself as a strange amalgam of refracted philosophical argument: Leibgeber’s text presents a metaphysics clearly indebted to Fichte; but there is some question as to whether his ventriloquism is satirical or proceeds from an identification with Fichte.37 Leibgeber’s intentions are further obscured by the editor-fiction “Jean Paul”: for one thing, “Jean Paul” has clearly edited Leibgeber’s text, rearranging it in order to make Leibgeber more of a Fichtean; for another, the “editor” provides two introductory texts, a Vorrede and a Protektorium, which serve to distance him from Leibgeber’s seeming Fichtean proclivities and to provide his “own” views on the subject. Throughout this dizzying cacophony, the text does appear to have one overriding concern, one that is familiar from Siebenkäs: how is a genuine relationship to another human being possible under Kantian premises? The text’s answer is that it isn’t, and that only abandoning the I in favor of a transcendent ground (and the persistent Christian imagery of the “Clavis” seems to suggest that that is God) can give us access to genuine intersubjective relationships. Jean Paul (the author rather than the editor) takes an exceptionally circuitous route to this insight, and it will be this route, rather than its end point, that sheds most light on Jean Paul’s relationship to German Idealism. For the serpentine nature of the text is itself intended to make points about Fichte. Leibgeber, “Jean Paul” informs us in his prefacing remarks, has, out of madness, become a staunch Fichtean: “My dear . . . Leibgeber’s

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conversion to the Wissenschaftslehre is an entirely natural development of his peculiar nature.”38 And Leibgeber’s own introduction (which takes the shape of a letter to his “biographer” Jean Paul) at times suggests that Leibgeber may now indeed be Fichte’s doppelganger: he speaks of “my Leibgeberianism” espoused, however, in “my” Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre, published by Gabler’s in Leipzig—which happens to be the publisher of the Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre by one Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Indeed, the text may be better titled à la Spinoza: “Clavis Fichtiana-sive-Leibgeberiana,” rather than “seu Leibgeberiana.” According to the “editor,” Leibgeber began by satirizing Fichte and ended by identifying with Fichte entirely: “Traces of his original intention to lampoon the Wissenschaftslehre are still noticeable everywhere in the Clavis.”39 As Sandra Hesse puts it, the “editor” starts off by “showing [Leibgeber] primarily as a satirical critic of Fichte” in the introduction (Vorrede), but then, in his “disclaimer” (Protektorium), turns him “into a mad Fichte apologist.”40 By virtue of this identification, Leibgeber can claim that he has proven in “his” Wissenschaftslehre that “I am the natura naturans and the demiurge and the mover of the universe.”41 As a consequence, Leibgeber claims, he is also ultimately responsible for “the couple of volumes that Fichte wrote, since I had to posit or make him first, before he could ever put a pen to paper.”42 Leibgeber’s relationship to Fichte is thus directly analogous to that between the demiurgic author and his creation Siebenkäs: he posits Fichte positing, just as “Jean Paul” writes Siebenkäs writing. As Hesse points out, Leibgeber can claim this only because he confuses the Fichtean absolute I and empirical I, a confusion that Leibgeber seems to indulge satirically but that the “editor” understands as a kind of madness. Leibgeber’s presumption is central to Jean Paul’s immanent critique of Fichte: Leibgeber’s “impudence” in calling the Wissenschaftslehre “my work” is licensed by the solipsism that characterizes the relation between constituens and constitutum in Fichte, namely, “that a truly consistent theorist cannot possibly believe in multiple beings different from himself.”43 Just as Fichte’s absolute I is called upon to recognize itself in that which appears to be external to it, so Leibgeber denies any distinction between himself and the author of the Wissenschaftslehre. Leibgeber and Jean Paul are agreed that any attempt on Fichte’s part to deduce intersubjectivity, a plurality of I’s, is foolhardy—in fact, “just as the Kantian [postulates] God and immortality, so Fichte’s I postulates [a multiplicity of] I’s.”44 Fichtean intersubjectivity, as Jean Paul sees it, is merely a postulate—a


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regulative principle to be assumed beyond the constitutum. His reference to this Kantian figure is anything but accidental: it contains both the transcendental loneliness of the Fichtean I that (on Jean Paul’s ontological [mis]reading) has to suspect that every other I it meets is but a projection of its own making; and it contains the yearning for something that would not be made by the I, for something of genuine alterity. This is of course the point at which the critique leveled in the “Clavis” dovetails with the satire of specular marriage in Siebenkäs: The concern in each case is how to provide a viable place for otherness, to escape from solipsism and (epistemic, moral, and practical) self-enclosure and egoism. It is the relation between these two, intersubjectivity as the relationship between constituens and constitutum on the one hand and intersubjectivity as a relationship to genuine alterity, that animates Siebenkäs’s relations throughout the novel—his friendship with his double Leibgeber, his Ehestand with Lenette, and his love marriage with Natalie. Among the writings in a collection Jean Paul published in 1810 under the title Herbst-Blumine, there is a text that plots a potential sequel to Siebenkäs: Siebenkäsens zweite Ehe, namely, the marriage to Natalie. Here, Jean Paul distinguishes between “two different classes of marriage [Eheklassen] and thus two different destinies of marriage [Ehegeschicke].”45 The first is the “common” kind of marriage, a merely economic arrangement, “where the man minds the office only, and the woman the kitchen”—in other words, the model that Franz von Baader derisively called “Hans Stein & Company.”46 The second one is instead a union of hearts, Fichte’s “complete unification.” It is easy to see why Jean Paul would introduce this distinction while reflecting on the possibility of continuing the Siebenkäs saga (which a footnote assures us is “in earnest”):47 the marriage that Siebenkäs wants in the novel that we have is of the second type, while Lenette is resolutely sticking to the “Hans Stein & Company” model. By contrast, the new union made possible by Siebenkäs’s faked death is clearly marked out as belonging to the second type. In fact, Siebenkäs stages it as the opposite of the marriage to Lenette in every way imaginable. We are given its genesis (the amour naissant) and an exchange of empfindsam letters. With a view to Mereau’s Blüthenalter we might add that this marriage (unlike Siebenkäs’s first) also has a plot: a series of obstacles, a romantic rival (the heartless seducer Rosa von Meyern), and high melodrama in churchyards. Moreover, whereas the union between Lenette and Siebenkäs was already a fait accompli when we were first introduced to it, the union with Natalie is presented as a telos that can never

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actually be reached (again, we might think of the ending of Blüthenalter). The Hochzeit of the book’s subtitle cannot in good conscience be actually consecrated or consummated—it has to remain ideal and spiritual. And so the novel’s conclusion finds the lovers “realizing each other, half lost in each others hearts, half in the great night.”48 In other words, the novel’s resolution reverts to the same schema of marriage that its opening lampooned. Rather than the empirically minded hausfrau Lenette, Siebenkäs at last finds his speculum Natalie, a pleasant echo of Siebenkäs’s own I.49 “In Natalie,” writes Elsbeth DangelPelloquin, “Siebenkäs finds a better version of himself, turned feminine and receptive.”50 But, to return to the “Trümmer” piece from Herbst-Blumine, Jean Paul makes clear that not only is the harmonious unification that seems within reach for the lovers at the end of Siebenkäs nothing more than the apex from which their marriage is likely to constitute a constant decline (this in spite of the novel’s final line: “and our friend’s tribulations were over”),51 but also a marriage of the economic type is far more likely to endure than one based on a union of hearts.52

Critiquing Metaphysics via Marriage In the previous section, we found Jean Paul picking up on two rather strange ideas that we first encountered in Fichte: (1) marriage is like selfconsciousness and/or self-consciousness is like a marriage; (2) marriage is autonomous just as the self-conscious subject is autonomous. Jean Paul’s critique turns these bases of Fichte’s thinking against him—in other words, he is interested not merely in falsifying these claims but also in trying to determine why these things should be like each other. The “Clavis” criticizes “what giant tributaries and all-embracing side streams this system would have to win from inexhaustible combinations of chemistry, physics, aesthetics, morals, and metaphysics, of Brownianism and Galvanism and metaphors,”53 in order to arrive at the “chemical-metaphysical-metaphoric language” of a Schlegel or Novalis.54 In particular, the “Clavis” singles out visual metaphors for critique. Fichtean reason, Leibgeber points out, is primarily a “seeing of seeing” (in fact, the late Fichte would come to characterize self-consciousness in this way himself):55 “This [reason] knows no other creatures but its creations; its seeing is not just light . . . but also its object.”56 Of course, Leibgeber should know all about seeing. After all, we recall, a doppelganger is a


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person “who sees himself.”57 The fact that, unlike the nymph Echo, the self in the other is seen rather than heard may seem accidental. But the “Clavis Fichtiana” lays the overbearing speculations of “idealist Idealism” (idealischer Idealismus) of the Fichtean variety at the doorstep of visuality.58 “If only language would, e.g., borrow from the audible rather than the visible world, we would have an entirely different philosophy, probably one that was more dynamic than atomistic.”59 Of course, atomism was something the Romantics and Idealists had sought to avoid, and they had turned to Fichte’s metaphysics for their theories of marriage precisely because he seemed to offer a way to think marriage without lapsing into the atomism of natural law. Jean Paul’s critique of philosophical language thus threatens the selfunderstanding of German Idealism, construing it as a radicalization rather than a partial repudiation of the Enlightenment.60 What Jean Paul rehearses here is nothing other than Jacobi’s philosophy of self-consciousness, but he allies “faith” or “feeling” with the audible. The first section of the “Clavis” makes explicit reference to the Gospel of John: Leibgeber casts himself as Pontius Pilate, asking Jesus, “What is truth?” In the Bible, this is Pilate’s reply to Jesus’ statement that “every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”61 Leibgeber’s opening, as arranged by the editor “Jean Paul,” thus puts him in opposition to the audibility of faith —his theoretical truth seeking proceeds instead by visual metaphor, and he ends up simply “seeing himself” in the world rather than hearing (or at least listening for) the “eternal You” (ewiges Du) of which the editor’s Protektorium speaks. The fact that there is a something called the I that can “see itself” as another something and that this constitutes self-consciousness is owed to an accident of language. Were the self to be thought to perceive itself as we perceive sounds, the argument runs, self-consciousness would be a kind of amorphous feeling, not a structured subject-object relation. “The single optical metaphor imagine [Einbilden], preconceive [Vorbilden], intuit [Anschauen], idea [Idee] has placed an atomistic mist and fog around the activity of the spirit, which an acoustic [metaphor] would not have.”62 One of the central mistakes the introduction to the “Clavis” charges Fichte with, then, is precisely that he assumes, seduced by visual metaphors, that self-consciousness is somehow structured like a judgment. The autonomy of the Fichtean I, its ability to “see itself,” to recognize the Not-I as its doppelganger, reveals itself to have been an effect of the language we use to do philosophy—and the linguistic nature of this picture of self-consciousness is constitutively repressed in Fichte’s philosophy. Judgment is visual, according to the “Clavis,” and self-consciousness is

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a visual metaphor insofar as Fichte conceives of it as a judgment. The “Clavis” turns the judgment into an effect of language; it reveals the transcendental constitution of the object as a form of poetic fashioning— or, in light of the editor’s Protektorium’s diagnosis of Leibgeber’s slide into Fichteanism, of linguistic madness.63 Nevertheless, Jean Paul’s critique of Fichte in the “Clavis” is a good deal more ambiguous than this, not least because it is not clear just whose critique it is. The actual “Clavis,” the final part of the text, is clearly a critique of Fichte of sorts, although it is arranged to look like a crazed paean to the idealist project. The reason for this shift in meaning is contained in the Vorrede, where the editor “Jean Paul” admits that he rearranged Leibgeber’s text into fifteen sequential paragraphs, although it was previously alphabetized. The net effect of this rearrangement, as Sandra Hesse points out, is to move the “Clavis” away from satire. For instance, a paragraph that positions the Fichtean I in the epistemological equivalent of the biblical Garden of Gethsemane, depicting a subject in almost existential forlornness, closes the “edited” version; it actually opens the “original” version.64 What the “author” Leibgeber had intended as a statement of a problem, his demiurgic “editor” Jean Paul has turned into the desperate conclusion of Leibgeber’s argument. Why does “Jean Paul” rearrange Leibgeber’s satire into a madman’s ravings? Why would Jean Paul choose to undercut the text’s critique of Fichte? Hesse suggests that the editor “Jean Paul” pathologizes his creation in order to make him once again safely his creation.65 After all, Leibgeber and “Jean Paul” have met; they interact in the same universe. The editor “Jean Paul” is able to control Leibgeber’s alterity by “tailoring” Leibgeber’s text, just as the demiurge “tailors” Siebenkäs and Leibgeber; and, just as Leibgeber does to Lenette, he controls Leibgeber through cutting. Just like Leibgeber, the editor allows the reader a great deal of insight into his processes of cutting. Leibgeber always appeared already as cut from the same cloth as Firmian Siebenkäs, but Lenette’s cutting was degradingly processual; we got to watch her being remade. This is precisely what “Jean Paul” does in “tailoring” Leibgeber’s philosophy—we know the text has been falsified, we can even reconstitute it for ourselves, but the cutting or constituting, like Lenette’s, is happening before our very eyes. In other words, “Jean Paul” turns Leibgeber into a Fichtean in the service of a kind of aesthetic Fichteanism. He has the same (aesthetic) problem that the “Clavis” claims Fichte has on an ontological level: loneliness, absolute self-enclosure. In a letter referring to the somewhat later treatise


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on the art of writing, the Vorschule der Ästhetik (1804), Jean Paul tells us that a true author is “only the listener, not the language instructor of his characters.”66 Once again, then, visuality carries a negative valence: in the Vorschule itself we are told that “you must hear him [the character], not just see him.”67 The relationship between author and character must be the precise opposite of that between the self and its doppelganger. And that is precisely where the “Jean Paul” of the “Clavis” fails: where he should listen for the alterity of Leibgeber, he can only see his own creation, his constitutum. The editor “Jean Paul” thus indulges in the same demiurgic construction of the Not-I with which the text of the “Clavis” charges Fichte. The “Clavis” is Jean Paul’s echo chamber, just as Siebenkäs’s marriages are for him, just as the Not-I is for Fichte. In each of these situations, the I is in the position in which the edited version of the “Clavis” leaves Leibgeber, the position of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, but without a God to appeal to, only the hollow projections and fictions of the self: “who hears my pleading and [who] knows me now?—I do.”68 That this situation is not so different from the many loves of Firmian Stanislaus Siebenkäs is obvious. The I is so fully the cause of the love object (the Not-I) that there is no “Thou” out there that could offer up something genuinely different for the I to attach to. Franz von Baader describes the same erotic echo chamber in the early nineteenth century. If the love object were merely my projection, “I would be, to the contrary, subjecting said object to myself, thus canceling its objectivity; [and] my love of that object would be no love at all, but rather love of myself, and what seemed to me a going-out-of-myself would actually be a going-into-myself or staying-at-home, and thus the opposite of love.”69 If this is correct and Leibgeber’s constructed “madness” is essentially a means of managing or “subjecting” Leibgeber’s alterity, then Leibgeber’s assertion that “I (speaking empirically) am terrified of my I (speaking absolutely)”70 takes on a new meaning. The plaintive solitude of Leibgeber in the Garden of Gethsemane only highlights the solipsistic loneliness of his creator, the demiurgic narrator. For the “Clavis” suggests that indeed the demiurgic “Jean Paul” may be the ultimate “Leibgeber”: “as Leibgeber I am finite,” Leibgeber posits, “and only as the creator of this Leibgeber am I infinite.”71 He thus explicitly equates Fichte’s absolute and empirical I with the poet /demiurge on the one hand and his creation on the other. Similarly, the term Leibgeber proposes for the autonomy of the (absolute) I, aseity (Aseitas), is usually a term that denotes the (ontological rather than

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empirical) self-sufficiency of God. Jean Paul similarly has his Leibgeber lay claim to divine subjectivity: “According to my Wissenschaftslehre . . . I am Pilate and the crucified at once, in fact I am even the latter’s father, namely, the unconditioned and infinite reality itself.”72 Ultimately, then, the metaphors collapse onto themselves — and the critique that “Jean Paul” wants to level at Fichte is robbed of all justification (Leibgeber’s original satire would have been more successful, but it has been cut up). The critique of the judgment “I am I” has been undone by the obscene tangle of metaphoric copulations: everything is like everything else, and yet only as a matter of language. There is no sense that a cosmic analogy (as in Novalis) or an Absolute might anchor these likenesses. And not just judgment, love too appears in Jean Paul as a linguistic fashioning. Elsewhere Jean Paul characterizes his role vis-à-vis his metaphors, easily the most remarkable stylistic device in this remarkable stylist, the engine of his humor, as that of a priest marrying off separate objects. He is “the disguised priest who marries every couple.”73 “Copulation” in its double sense has in many ways provided the guiding, though often unspoken, thread of our study. Now we find the link between copulation and marriage made explicit, but it is made explicit only as metaphor. It is not judgment and marriage that are alike; rather metaphor and marriage are—and their likeness (like the priest) is itself “only” metaphorical, a fanciful contingency of language rather than a matter of things as they are in themselves. Kant opened the first Critique with a quote from Bacon: De nobis ipsis silemus. Jean Paul seems to suggest that the Critique’s epigraph should have read: De rebus ipsis silemus.

Transcendental Masturbation In the “Clavis Fichtiana,” Jean Paul reverses the central idea of the critical philosophy, namely, that the things as they are in themselves speak to us in a grammar of our own making or projection, suggesting instead that on the Idealist picture the constitutum is ultimately nothing but a mirror image of the constituens, the constituting subject. And when his marital partners follow the Transzendentalromane of the Romantics insofar as they stage love as somehow analogous to the relation of transcendental subject and its objects, then there is clearly an erotic charge to Jean Paul’s epistemological critique. To be content within the determinations of the critical philosophy, the argument runs, is nothing other than to be content


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with the figments of one’s own imagination—and what those who employ the analogy would understand as a love relation (an alloerotic relation) turns out to be in truth an autoerotic one. As Stephan K. Schindler has shown, one strand of eighteenth-century thought read masturbation as an overexercise or mis-exercise of imagination.74 The onanist’s pathology confines him or her to the productions of his or her own mind.75 And this made onanism an extremely dangerous temptation.76 Indeed, in the period that we are considering it was masturbation, not homosexuality, that provided the general matrix for sexual perversion, as well as the occasion of moral panics. It was not people’s object choice that medical practitioners, pamphleteers, philosophers, and educators worried about; it was the possibility that they might not choose any object, or perhaps better that they would manufacture the object for themselves. As Foucault points out, the “campaign” against masturbation originated primarily in Protestant countries77 and fed on anxieties both arising out of and attaching to the Enlightenment.78 In the German context in particular, the concerns over the excessive inner-directedness of masturbation also served to articulate misgivings over the inwardness of Pietism. This displacement may well serve to explain the curious fact that “sexuality is almost absent”79 from this discourse—that masturbation is read in terms of biology, the philosophy of nature, and, yes, the theory of consciousness. The association of masturbation with (biological) degeneration is not a topos of the eighteenth-century discourse on the solitary vice but was rather one added by the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, in the previous chapter we encountered the notion that masturbation, by virtue of the excessive sensory receptivity allegedly entailed in it, would serve to feminize the male. Rather than draw on biological theories or a backslide down the Great Chain of Being, the eighteenth century made the link between receptivity and femininity by detour via the theory of consciousness: the worry was that excessive sensory receptivity might give men a metaphoric vagina. While Fichte and the Romantics do not follow Kant’s (nearly obsessive) attention to the topic of masturbation with reflections of their own, Kant provides an influential matrix for thinking about masturbation, one that Jean Paul draws on in order to make his sexual critique of epistemology. Importantly, this matrix has nothing to do with the moral valuation of masturbation, that is to say, Kant’s position that “self-abuse” constitutes taking one’s own body as a means rather than an end (which is entirely distinct from questions of the imagination)80 but rather with

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Kant’s characterization of the quiddity rather than the effects of masturbation. Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals explicitly connects masturbation to an excess of “imagination” (Einbildungskraft).81 Similarly, in his lectures on moral philosophy (as recorded in the class notes of Georg Ludwig Collins) almost a decade earlier, Kant explains that masturbation is the “misuse of the sexual faculty without any object, occurring, that is, when the object of our sexual impulse is totally absent, and yet even without any object the use of our sexual faculty by no means lapses, but is exercised.”82 Einbildungskraft for Kant does not mean “imagination” in the sense of “fantasy.” Rather, Einbildungskraft is active whenever something that is not physically given as sense data has to be re-presented—for instance, an object that has changed position, shape, or state. It is thus central to even our most everyday perceptions. Nevertheless, re-presenting what is not there is also central in Kant’s discussions of mental illness, as Dimitris Vardoulakis has made clear.83 Kant indeed has some trouble distinguishing the proper functioning of the faculty of the imagination from the representations of the delusional or insane—a trouble that Jean Paul cleverly exploits when he has his Leibgeber go mad with the kinds of delusions that are attributable to a megalomaniac as much as to the Kantian subject. But, as we have seen, there is another case in which the subject consorts with something not physically there, more straightforwardly erotic than the seductions of madness. As Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick has argued, “the [Transcendental] Aesthetic in Kant is both substantively indistinguishable from, and at the same time definitionally opposed against autoerotic pleasure.”84 This is a line of questioning we encountered in chapter 6 already. When Sophie Mereau suggested that her hero’s masturbation may be akin to the constituting activity of the transcendental subject, she already coded masturbation as an excess of autonomy, the autonomous subject run amok. This represents a full-on reversal of the eighteenth-century discourse on masturbation, which worried that genital stimulation might, by dint of the receptivity involved in it, serve to feminize men. In his own discussions of the matter, Jean Paul, however oblique his comments, seems to point in a similar direction. It is clear that Jean Paul took active interest in the battle over masturbation that continued to rage toward the end of the eighteenth century.85 Although Jean Paul (perhaps characteristically) does not seem to take the discourse over the “cancer of youth” (Jugendkrebs)86 particularly seriously, his own treatise on education, 1807’s Levana, shows awareness of the discourse, its main promulgators, and their theses. Samuel


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Gottlieb Vogel (1750–1837), professor of medicine at Rostock and author of “Education for Parents, Teachers, and Overseers of Children on How to Prevent the Evil of Self-Abuse” (“Unterricht für Eltern, Erzieher und Kinderaufseher, wie das Laster der Selbstbefleckung zu heilen sei,” 1786) comes in for special mention.87 Jean Paul groups his discussion of the “cancer of youth” and how best to combat it (his solution is to not talk to children about masturbation at all) with “the ethical education of the boy” (sittliche Bildung des Knaben) and provides it as a “corollary” (Ergänzungs-Anhang) to a chapter on “education to love.”88 This indicates what is distinctive about Jean Paul’s thought about masturbation. He understands masturbation as erotic rather than exclusively medical—it is a perverted form of self-love (amour propre) or “I-addiction” (Ichsucht), a term he also uses in connection with Fichte in the “Clavis.” Moreover, he understands this sexual excess of selfhood as a primarily male problem (no mention is made whether masturbation needs preventing in girls), and the risks he sees with male adolescent masturbation have nothing to do with turning boys into girls. Autonomy is not at stake or in danger here; the danger instead lies in its surfeit. While he does not frame the problem in terms of autonomy and receptivity, then, it is clear that Jean Paul, like Mereau, understands masturbation as an excess in selfhood, in autonomy, as the positing power of the subject run amok. We encountered this very problem in Kant’s ironic rescue of sense perception in his Anthropology. When Kant sought to defend his damsel in distress from those detractors who accuse her of lying, misleading, and undue bossiness, he insisted that sense data themselves cannot be false—all that can be false is the sense we make of that data. What the inquisitorial (and male-gendered) understanding (der Verstand) accused the senses of perpetrating turns out to be the understanding’s own fault. We noted in chapter 1 that Kant’s “Apologia” puts Lady Sensuality into a coma in order to protect her honor. Kant of course did not draw conclusions from the nature of the relationship between the senses and the understanding for the relationship between the sexes—Verstand and Sinnlichkeit are male and female metaphorically only. Fichte modifies the world of Kant’s “Apologia” in two central respects: by reconfiguring the critical philosophy as a monistic enterprise that would proceed from a single unifying principle (Grundsatzphilosophie), he forces the relation of constituens and constitutum (I and Not-I in his terminology) into congruency with the relation between male and female. He furthermore eliminates the thing in itself, eliding the a priori and the a posteriori, and thus jettisons, in the terms

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of our earlier image, even the comatose husk of Lady Sensuality. Fichte’s conceptualization of sexual difference makes explicit and inescapable what Kant’s joke in the Anthropology only toys with: the Not-I is nothing but a projection of the I. Jean Paul only follows through on Fichte’s own logic when he suggests that this means woman is nothing but a figment of male autonomous (positing) activity—the transcendental subject is nothing but a transcendental masturbator. The Kantian position, when mapped onto sexual categories, reveals something akin to the Lacanian equation of the (impossible) sexual relationship. As Slavoj Zizek points out, Lacan’s formulation that “there is no sexual relationship” may be read as the claim that (a) sex is simply masturbation à deux, and that (b) one never has sex with one’s partner but rather with one’s own projection (the objet a).89 The question whether there is such a thing as a sexual relationship vexes what is widely considered the great German marriage novel— Goethe’s Wahlverwandtschaften. In the novel’s most enigmatic and most notorious scene, a married couple has sex while committing imaginary adultery. The imagination (Einbildungskraft), the troubling faculty that seduced Jean Paul’s “transcendental masturbators” into their solipsistic echo chambers, “asserts its rights over the real.”90 Eduard held only Ottilie in his arms, as Charlotte had the Colonel before her soul, and so things present and things absent interwove tantalizingly and joyfully.91

The scene revolves around a sex act that is essentially masturbation in the presence of another. Each of the lovers is “really” in congress with his or her own imagination and is thus actually “cheating” in fulfilling the marital vow. That their act is transgressive and thus not simply a private affair of the mind is obvious to both parties: “But when Eduard woke up against his wife’s bosom the morning after, the day seemed to him to look ominously onto the scene, to him the sun seemed to shed its light upon a crime.”92 But unlike what happens in Jean Paul, in Mereau, and in Schlegel, the masturbation à deux actually has a product—the boy Otto who resembles not his birth parents but rather the two figments with which his parents “actually” copulated. This is of course something that the transcendental marriage of Firmian Stanislaus Siebenkäs and Lenette could never accomplish—to have the congress with the imagination be productive. And in fact it is only this “moral adultery”93 (as Karl Rosenkranz called it in an influential book on Goethe) that produces a child in Goethe’s novel.


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But the symmetry of the imaginary erotic chiasmus throws into question any straightforward parallelism between Goethe’s marriage novel and the concerns Jean Paul addresses in Siebenkäs. For while the image of two lovers having sex with their own figments is itself an echo of Jean Paul’s erotic-epistemic halls of mirrors, the “shadow couple” of the Colonel and Ottilie seems to open the novel up to far more troubling possibilities. Goethe, we might say, is a Kantian rather than a Fichtean. He believes in mutuality in sex, rather than a unidirectional binary modeled on I and Not-I. Man dreams woman, in other words, but woman dreams back. Because Charlotte herself interpolates a projection of her own I between herself and the (actual) other Eduard, any simple analogy to transcendental subject-object relationships is short-circuited in advance. And owing to the symmetry of their dreams, the main characters’ masturbation à deux is nevertheless haunted by a (quite possible, though prohibited) sexual relationship. Siebenkäs may sleep with Lenette but imagine Natalie, in other words, but there is no sense that Natalie does likewise. Goethe’s erotics in the Wahlverwandtschaften, on the other hand, imagine the four partners (real and imaginary) in four different sexual arrangements: each of the real lovers with one of the imaginary lovers, the real lovers with each other, and the imaginary lovers with each other — only the latter, paradoxically, has “real” results. Because, whatever other resistance they put up, Lenette or Natalie never “dreamed back.” The possibility of a relationship to something genuinely other was fundamentally destroyed in Siebenkäs— in fact, I suggested that this destruction probably exceeded Jean Paul’s critical ambitions. The Wahlverwandtschaften, however, is haunted by the question of a “moral adultery,” which we are actually presented with only as a kind of “imaginary sex,” but which throughout the novel beckons as a possibility—in particular of course in the guise of the titular borrowing from the philosophy of nature, the guiding metaphor of the “elective affinity.” This may indeed be the central skandalon of the Wahlverwandtschaften: if marriage is a figure for sociality in a more general sense (one of the guiding theoretical threads of our inquiry), then what do we make of a novel that portrays a true intersubjective relation (a true model for sociality) only in the transgression of the marriage vow, and moreover confines it to the imagination? Most nineteenth-century critics of the Wahlverwandtschaften were haunted by the fact that the “moral adultery,” and only the moral adultery, of Eduard and Charlotte is uncannily productive. The immorality of

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the union is made flesh in the boy Otto—what was “just” in the subject’s head unfolds genetic efficacy in biological reproduction. About a decade after the Wahlverwandtschaften, Schopenhauer would argue that sexual union always already “contains” a child: “The growing attraction of two lovers is actually already the will to life of the new individual that they could and want to beget.”94 When regarded as a matter of the “will to life,” love is thus the product of the child, not the other way around. Baader’s suggestion that in their mutual love a couple begets something of a “spiritual child” (an idea of which Goethe’s Otto is of course a perversion) is reversed: the (quite physical) product inspires the spiritual love by which it can claw its way into existence.95 The Romantic metaphysicians of marriage, as we saw, bracketed the productivity of sexual love in favor of the complete unification of the union’s relata. Anticipating Schopenhauer’s objection, Goethe’s Otto constitutes nothing other than the return of that repressed productivity. Moreover, however, his strange phenotypic obviousness (the fact that he looks like the imaginary partners, not like his biological parents) poses the question of who it is that is unified in physical love. This product radically puts into question what is biological in love and what love’s relation is to the law, to marriage. Throughout this study, we have charted a tension between a complete union that was to be accomplished in and through love and the uncanny product that faced that union as an other, an intersubjectivitycum-subject. Jean Paul further plays upon another worry: that what the subject took to be intersubjectivity, a relationship with another, was nothing but a congress with the subject’s own (narcissistic, transcendental) projections. Both of these figures of uncanniness converge in the boy Otto. Like all the uncanny products we have been tracing, Otto essentially turns a love relation “inside out,” rendering concrete, legible, and brusquely physical what was to be mysterious, and turning into a thing the sacrament that was to obtain between subjects. In the two concluding chapters of this book, I will show that, as the nineteenth century wore on, this brusquely physical product came to haunt the discourses that picked up on the metaphysics of sexual unification.

chapter eight

The Fate of Marital Autonomy in the Nineteenth Century


he specific afterlife of the early Romantic and Idealist metaphysics of marriage stands in marked and telling contrast to the importance that many of the thinkers considered in the previous chapters would hold for much of the nineteenth century. Between the further elaboration of their ideas in the heyday of Romanticism and Idealist philosophy, the apostasy of the 1840s, and their outright demonization by mid-century philosophical approaches to the historicist recovery of both post-Kantian philosophy and Romantic literature by the end of the century, the nineteenth century never fully emancipated itself from such names as Hegel, Schlegel, Schelling, and Schleiermacher. When it came to philosophical thinking about marriage, however, the story could not have been more different— Kant, Fichte, and Hegel were invoked by philosophers throughout the century, their theories of marriage and sexuality rarely, if at all. This short shrift is not accidental but is rather implicit already in the resources that nineteenth-century thought on such matters tended to draw on, which consciously or unconsciously sidestepped metaphysics. The theories of gender and sexuality that the nineteenth century bequeathed to the twentieth— those emerging from English Utilitarianism, for instance, from Marxism, from historical sociology, Darwinism, or psychoanalysis—are precisely of the kind the metaphysical theories of marriage had originally opposed themselves to. This denial of marriage’s autonomy from empirical modes of explanation proved symptomatic for the wholesale degradation of the doctrine of marital autonomy in the nineteenth century. It is this fate of marital autonomy that is traced in this chapter; this study’s coda will follow the markedly different fate of another, related figure during the same timeframe: the autonomous product of marital unification.

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It bears recollecting what exact assumptions the nineteenth century sidestepped, and this chapter illuminates once more the distinctive features of the Romantic and Idealist metaphysics of marriage as they, one after the other, disappear in the rearview mirror. There were thinkers who hewed more closely to metaphysics than to psychology, anthropology, and so on, but even for them the notion that marriage was autonomous in ways that resembled the autonomy of the subject progressively lost sway. In the idea of a metaphysical autonomy of the marital union, the Romantics and Idealists had yoked together a methodological point (that marriage was best understood as an effect not of custom or religion but of the structure of human subjectivity itself) and a number of substantive points. When the nineteenth century came to inch away from the methodological point, it also relinquished these substantive points one by one. The first to go was the notion that marriage drew on no resources outside of itself—as the Romantics’ and Idealists’ politics shifted, so did their allegiance turn to powers of which marriage was a mere subsidiary. Whether this power was the Church, the State, the Species: it was not just that marriage was central to its welfare (something the Romantics and early Idealists had already recognized); rather, that centrality dictated the nature of marriage itself. The related idea that marriage’s autonomy meant not just that the union received its legitimation from itself, but rather that it received even its peculiar structure entirely by autogenesis, survived (especially in Hegel’s philosophy) well into the nineteenth century, but other nineteenthcentury accounts began relentlessly historicizing the phenomenon. For the early Romantics and Idealists marriage had one, atemporal structure; they recognized that few historical marriages had ever conformed to this structure, but that simply meant that they were not “true” marriages. Last, what we might call the marital union’s “metaphysical pathos”1 began to dim as the century wore on: compared with the staggering array of social, intellectual, and religious phenomena a figure like marriage could encompass for a thinker like Hölderlin and Novalis, later thinkers, even those generally sympathetic to metaphysical or even monistic approaches, treated marriage as a far more local phenomenon. Of these modifications of the metaphysical project, the first was undertaken by the protagonists of that project themselves. By the first decade of the nineteenth century, almost all of the thinkers under consideration in the preceding chapters had abandoned or at least importantly modified the project of providing an entirely metaphysical foundation for marriage. We have encountered one thinker who did not fully abandon the project in chapters 4 and 5: Franz von Baader, who in many ways preserved


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the central topoi of the philosophy of early Idealism and the Jena Romantics well into the 1840s (Baader died in 1841). Like his friend and colleague Schelling, however, who himself remained comparatively true to this original project, Baader bases his account of the sexes and their relationship primarily on his philosophy of nature—in both Baader and Schelling, this philosophy of nature is essentially metaphysical, but the difference is nevertheless worth noting. All the thinkers that had experimented with a metaphysical account of marriage without anchoring it in the supposed structure of organic nature either left that approach behind or transformed it entirely. The tight-knit group of friends and lovers that had given the metaphysics of marriage its distinctive shape largely dissolved in the first few years of the new century. Novalis died in 1801. In 1800, Friedrich Schlegel successfully defended his Habilitationsschrift and soon thereafter moved out of the house in Leutragasse 5 that he had shared with his brother and sister-in-law. After a brief stint in Dresden, he lived in Paris and subsequently in Cologne, before entering the services of the Austrian emperor. He married Dorothea in 1804; in 1808 the couple converted to Catholicism. He was estranged from his erstwhile “wife” Friedrich Schleier­­ macher, ironically owing to his own lack of productivity on a number of joint projects begun but never finished. When Caroline left Schlegel’s brother August Wilhelm to marry Schelling, she caused a rift not only be­­tween Schelling and the brothers but between Schelling and Hegel as well. Before long, Friedrich Schlegel abandoned the pantheism of his Athenäum days in favor of a distinctly Catholic philosophy, drawing on the very notion of “revelation” (Offenbarung) that Fichte’s inaugural publication had sought to defeat. This put him in touch with a different group, including Franz von Baader and the economist Adam Müller. Increasingly repulsed by the French Revolution and its effects, and taken with the counterrevolutionary thought of Joseph de Maistre and Louis de Bonald, he extolled instead a “free Germanic, corporate, Christian universal monarchy” that he found embodied in the Hapsburg empire—“where every people remains what it is and should.”2 The “philosophy of life” (Philosophie des Lebens) he espoused toward the end of his life criticized the same crisis and inner rivenness of the age, the reification and alienation of human individuals, intellectual capacities, and faculties that had been his target during his years in Jena—but what had been an implicit comparison to the fall from grace had turned into an explicitly religious position.3 In the opening of his 1828 lecture course on The Philosophy of Life, Schlegel explicitly charges

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his former project with failure: philosophy, he claims, has erred by either creating “all manner of metaphysical castles in the air or dialectical phantasms,” or else getting “lost in the earth” and seeking “by violently meddling with external reality to rebuild and reform everything to conform to its ideas.”4 When it came to editing his collected works in the 1820s, neither Lucinde nor the fragments from the Athenäum were included.5 The “metaphysical castles in the air” of Schlegel’s youth had indeed been aimed at “rebuilding” and “reforming” an “external reality.” At least for his friends Schleiermacher and Novalis, the bonds of “true” marriage could be writ large in organizing communities and even countries. Schlegel’s later writings reversed that thrust: the family was either the direct analogue or the static reflection of the wider polis, no longer the plenipotentiary of a politics yet to come. The Philosophy of Life abandons the early Romantic conception of marital autonomy, imbuing the family with a direct political purpose that the young Schlegel had denied it, and generally refusing to distinguish between the unification of the couple and everyday larger social structures. Schlegel does not assume that the family’s significance lies in producing and educating citizens. Instead, marital love provides the germ for all other kinds of love, which radiate outward from the family into all other kinds of ethical life. The “soulful bonds of love [Seelenbande der Liebe], which found the family [Familienverein], produce all the other kinds of beautiful bonds of mother love, filial piety, fraternal friendship between siblings and relatives,” which ultimately constitute “the inner nervous fluid [inneren Nervensaft] of human society.”6 Novalis had once noted that “gamism is the basis of patriotism”7 (i.e., connubial love is a connection to a larger civic whole), but Schlegel seemed to assert that all patriotism is really “gamism.” Schlegel’s lectures embedded their theory of marriage and the family in a more general discussion of the role of the imagination in human affairs—love, enthusiasm (such as patriotism), and yearning are not based on a “real” state of affairs, or at least not one that is capable of being measured or causally construed. But the imagination ought to feel true faith or patriotism in order to enter that sphere “where the merely mathematical basic formulas of ethical life do not suffice.”8 It was a decline in this “gamism,” or in familial love more generally, that had led to the undoing of the cohesive forces of society in the wake of the French Revolution. Schlegel agreed with Louis de Bonald that during the age of Enlightenment a historic process of “degeneration” asserted itself first within the boundaries of the family and then went on to contaminate the entire state.


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“Especially in a dangerous age,” he writes, “an age of already readily apparent degeneration, it is often not recognized very clearly just how much human and civil society rests on this foundation of family bonds.”9 While Schlegel did not mention the French Revolution specifically, it is rather obvious what made Schlegel’s own age so “dangerous.” A revolution within the small polity of the family is the first stage of an all-encompassing disaggregation of interpersonal bonds. Where the young Schlegel had peppered his writings with calls for this (usually poetic) “revolution” or that, celebrated “anarchy,” and despised all static “order,” the fifty-sixyear-old Schlegel treated terms like “revolution” and “anarchy” almost as dirty words. “Always and everywhere the revolution of morals has started out in the interior of the family, before the more universal anarchy breaks out openly, and confuses the countries, and shakes the order of the states.”10 The domestic sphere was the microcosmic analogue of the wider commonwealth, and disturbing its careful calibration of love and respect necessarily disturbed the world outside. While Johann Gottlieb Fichte remained comparatively true to his overall project, working away at the different drafts of the Wissenschaftslehre up until his death in 1814, his position on the family changed significantly in the first decade of the nineteenth century. After his move to Berlin and with the onset of the Napoleonic Wars, Fichte, like Schlegel, increasingly began tying the question of marriage to the category of the nation. While he never again offered a theory of marriage as sustained as the one he had provided in his Foundations of Natural Right (1797) and the System of Ethics (1798), the category of marriage and family as building blocks of a larger nation-state remained important in his thought. In chapter 1, we saw that the young Fichte and Wilhelm von Humboldt both decisively emancipated marriage and the family from state control. Humboldt admits that as far as connections among human beings go, marriage is “the most important for the individual and the state.”11 But this does not mean that the state gets to interfere with this most important intersubjective connection; much to the contrary, it must not meddle in it. Marriage’s social import precisely means that it is autonomous from social or state interference. In Fichte’s Foundations of Natural Right, this doctrine of marital autonomy found expression in the axiomatic assertion that “marriage has no purpose that would lie outside of itself; it is its own end.”12 By the time he gave his famous Addresses to the German Nation (Reden an die Deutsche Nation, 1807/8) in French-occupied Berlin, however, Fichte had very much reversed the relationship between the nation and

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the family. While the Addresses no longer dignifies marriage with its own theory at all, a theory of the family is clearly legible between the lines of Fichte’s program for a “German national education project” (deutsche Nationalerziehung).13 In bringing up children, the household is characterized not by the absence of external purpose (“its own end”) but instead by thoroughgoing utility—the family produces productive citizens and therefore is shot through with structures of labor and power. Fichte repeatedly characterizes the family as a “small state economy” (Wirthschaftsstaat), the purpose of which is to attune its members to the actual state. Any autonomy the family is granted is an independence from external economic resources rather than an autarky with respect to outside influence: “the basic law of this small state economy is . . . that it should not use articles of food or clothing . . . which were not created by it itself.”14 Rather than being autonomous from the law and essentially opposed to legalistic structures, the family instead itself has a “basic law” like the state (coincidentally, “Basic Law” is the name of Germany’s postwar constitution). And what autonomy the family unit has no longer makes it an antistate, a counterweight to the prevailing order, but rather allows it to reproduce state order within its boundaries. Both family members and citizens learn to think of themselves as part of a whole, following Rousseau’s insistence that “the small fatherland which is the family,” allows the individual’s heart to get “attached to the large one,” that it is “the good son, the good husband, and the good father, who make the good citizen.”15 But while Romantic thinkers such as Novalis and Mereau drew from this the conclusion that the state perhaps ought to be transformed such that being a citizen was more like being a good husband, good father, good son, the Fichte of the Addresses to the German Nation puts the individual to work in a corporate family in order to prepare him or her for the corporate state. In this context, the individual’s autonomy does not confer autonomy on the overarching structure (Schleiermacher’s “free sociality,” Humboldt’s marital autonomy); instead the individual surrenders his or her autonomy in the interest of making the nation autonomous: “To work for the autonomy [Selbständigkeit] and self-sufficiency [Selbstgenügesamkeit] of the Whole, each individual must work with all his power.”16 It is precisely this rather ominous talk of the radical surrender of personal autonomy to the autonomous state that is, strangely enough, forestalled in the thought of the thinker who would come to be identified as the veritable court philosopher of the reactionary Prussian state after the defeat of Napoleon—Hegel. As we saw in chapter 5, Hegel’s account of


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marital law insists (pace Fichte) on a radical disjuncture between family and state. Moreover, the larger state structure that the individual (man) is to integrate himself into is set up dialectically or syllogistically, such that it maintains the individuality that the wartime propagandist Fichte seems so ready to sacrifice. A holistic state, like Seyn, for Hegel cannot come into view “like a shot from a pistol,”17 nor can our subsumption to it be demanded or accomplished by mere fiat— only as a self-differentiating totality can the state be autonomous. Of course, this is not the way much of the nineteenth century ended up reading Hegel. Whether they were the political quietists of the Freundesverein, the revolutionary Young Hegelians, or the many critics who strove to move beyond German Idealism altogether, they read Hegel as altogether more conservative and less dialectical, and it was these reactions to Hegel (Rosenkranz on the side of Hegelian orthodoxy; Bruno Bauer, Max Stirner, and above all Marx among the Hegelian left) that were to influence thought on gender and marriage in the course of the century.18 Much of this thought, however, moved away from metaphysics rather decisively. “Holy families” of all stripes were anathema to them, and it was the history, the economics, and the anthropology of marriage that grounded their thought about the link between gender and sociality. It was, ironically, left to two of Hegel’s most vitriolic critics, critics who refused to grant his most basic premises, to continue the tradition of thinking metaphysically about sex and marriage into the nineteenth century—Arthur Schopenhauer and Søren Kierkegaard.

Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, and the Metaphysics of Sex Although Kierkegaard’s dispersed authorship and pseudonymous games of hide-and-seek make it difficult to determine how much of the curdled misogyny of his late writings represents Kierkegaard’s “actual” opinion, his legend, much like Novalis’s, has an abortive marriage plot at its center. Where death took Novalis’s Sophie, Kierkegaard had to call off the engagement himself—the effect was in many ways the same, as not just their biographers, but even their more philosophically minded readers, tended to understand both Novalis’s and Kierkegaard’s life and work entirely in light of the writer’s close brush with marriage. In each case this threatens to distort what is in point of fact a highly involved and highly original philosophy of love, family, and marriage. In fact, whether in his autobiographical writings, his pseudonymous philosophical works, or simply in

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the “editorial” activity of his various author functions, Kierkegaard was engaged with questions of sexuality and marriage more than any other nineteenth-century thinker until Freud. And in outlining his responses he drew on the vocabulary furnished by German Idealism and Romanticism. Either/Or, which plays off the “aesthetic” outlook of the “seducer” Johannes (“A”) against the “ethical” standpoint of Judge William (“B”), turns to marriage as the paradigmatic enunciation of a series of paradoxes arising from the Kantian account of autonomy.19 Either/Or draws its paradoxes directly from a number of contradictions at the heart of the metaphysics of marriage. Whether motivated by his own unsuccessful engagement or by his general dissatisfaction with the theory of autonomy proffered in German Idealist philosophy, Kierkegaard frames this problem very much in terms of authors considered in this study, but uses marriage to explode those terms. He appears familiar with the work of Jean Paul and the critique of Fichtean autonomy in Titan;20 in particular, he seems to have turned to Goethe to articulate the matter, using the early drama Clavigo as an intertext for the aesthete’s discourse and the Elective Affinities as Judge William’s pièce de resistance.21 In an “autonomous” marriage, the self-positing subject posits itself as bound and committed—it freely chooses, in Goethe’s words, “autonomously chosen heteronomy.”22 Kierkegaard’s aesthete A chooses not to commit to any lasting entanglements —but this leads to “despair” because the very egoism that keeps the aesthete from committing to anything is frustrated by the dispersal of the subject’s selfhood. The ethicist B (Judge William) offers, as we saw in chapter 7, a spirited “defense of marriage” precisely on the grounds that to autonomously assert one’s selfhood means choosing certain commitments and keeping them—but this road, too, leads to “despair,” owing to the radical heteronomy implied in all real-world commitment. Both autonomy and submission lead to naught. The only way out of this bind— that both alternatives proposed in Either/Or ultimately end in the “sickness unto death” of despair— consists of a moment of most profoundly felt heteronomy, the famous leap of faith. In setting up this paradox and its resolution through faith, Kierkegaard has already abandoned the notion of a marital autonomy à la Mereau or Novalis; in Either/Or, marriage is always already a moment of outside determination rather than something the subject can project or freely posit. Many of the theories of sex, marriage, and sexual difference explored in this book are at times difficult to follow because their foundation in the philosophy and science of their day makes them seem so exceedingly alien to readers immersed in modern conceptions of gender and sexuality.


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With Arthur Schopenhauer, the reverse tends to be the case. The general outlines of his theory of sexuality, focused on unconscious drives and the genetic interests of the species, ring all too familiar to the world after Darwin. However, it is necessary to make opaque what at first seems so transparent in order to make visible that what at first glance appears to be a rather straightforward story of evolutionary psychology at work draws in fact heavily on the Romantic metaphysics of marriage, but in central respects inverts that picture. This inversion entails a complete reversal of the Romantic insistence on marriage’s autonomy in purpose and structure. For Schopenhauer such autonomy is a matter for “romance novels,” while the job of philosophy is to come to terms with the fact that love and marriage constitute moments of complete heteronomy—a heteronomy that for Schopenhauer, as for the early Fichte, is a matter of profound indignity, though one that we cannot escape from by some kind of clever ethical arrangement. In the first chapter, we saw Immanuel Kant trying to mediate a transcendental lover’s quarrel. The male-gendered understanding charged the female-gendered senses, or Sinnlichkeit, with confusing, dominating, and deceiving the faculty that was properly supposed to be her master. Kant’s intervention consisted in pointing out that sense data in themselves are incapable of any of these things—rather the deception arises from the understanding’s own failings. As we pointed out, there is something troubling about how Kant comes to sensuality’s rescue—in the end, it is only the evidence of her absolute powerlessness that safeguards her dignity. The second edition of Arthur Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation (Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, 1844) contains a similar spat—in the chapter on the “metaphysics of sexual love” (Metaphysik der Geschlechtsliebe), Schopenhauer juxtaposes a kind of philosophical reasoning that has, since Plato, considered itself “above” creaturely love and sex, and the life that philosophy seeks to comprehend, which turns out to be all about sex. Sex, on Schopenhauer’s account, wreaks even more havoc than Kant’s sensuality. She “constantly occupies half of the faculties and thoughts of the younger part of humanity”; she becomes “the final object of almost all human striving”; she “confuses even the greatest heads for a little while.” She even “inserts herself into the negotiations of men of state and the inquiries of men of reason, disturbing them with her gewgaws, sneaks her love letters and lockets into ministerial portfolios and philosophical manuscripts.”23 Again, an unruly faculty rears her head and confuses an emphatically masculine project (governance, diplomacy, and not least of all philosophy)

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with her anarchic tendencies. But where Kant’s “Apologia for the Senses” undertook to show that the faculty so impugned was in actual fact quite powerless to commit any of the crimes imputed to her, Schopenhauer’s point is exactly the opposite. He confronts a triumphalist masculine fantasy of reason with a kind of feminine anarchy that is actually much stronger than self-confident reason seems to assume. Kant’s Understanding was unaware of how little of its determinations was actually furnished by the senses. Schopenhauer’s Reason, on the contrary, seems to be unconscious of how little control it has over its own project—it blithely thinks of sex as “a trifle” (Kleinigkeit) while in reality it has “a very important role to play and the power to bring constant disturbance and confusion into the well-arranged life.”24 The idea that there are unconscious aspects of perceptions that might allow us to draw conclusions about the sexual relationship is common to both texts—but by 1844 Schopenhauer no longer seems very sanguine about what exactly this relationship has to teach us. As it turns out, Schopenhauer reverses several of the defining precepts of the Idealist metaphysics of marriage. Marriage, according to Schopenhauer, “is a matter not of spirited conversation but of the production of children: it is a union of hearts not of heads.”25 The World as Will and Representation thus explicitly contravenes one of the central theorems of the Romantic metaphysics of marriage: that marriage has no “purpose” (Zweck).26 Schopenhauer denies another central Idealist claim when he claims that marital unification not only is identical with the child it (possibly) produces but also is brought about only by the child’s “will” to be born. In reproduction the child makes its parents the unwitting accomplices of its conception—insofar as the parents’ union has a will of its own, that will cons or cajoles the parents into doing its bidding. Schopenhauer further asserts that marriage and love are not identical—we may make “a reasonable choice in marriage,” but “not in passionate love, which is our real topic here.”27 As this description of “our topic” already suggests, Schopenhauer is not primarily concerned with what happens when two individuals fall in love—rather, he is primarily interested in why we fall in love, and why we fall in love with one person rather than another. Schopenhauer’s focus on object choice suggests a subtle shift from the Idealist apotheosis of absolute unification through love. There, the two lovers and their love were accepted as givens—it was their unification that was of interest. Here, unification (and its externalization in childbirth) is assumed, but what matters is why partner A chose to procreate with partner B.


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What leads us to fall in love, Schopenhauer claims, is the potential individual child that the union might produce— our sex provides the substance, our individual character the form for that child. What we feel as individual love is nothing but “a deception of our consciousness”28 —the real point of our love is “not the other’s love [Gegenliebe],” but rather “that this particular child be produced.”29 This “deception” dovetails precisely with one of Schopenhauer’s central bêtes noires, the principium individuationis. Just as the unindividuated oneness that really exists (Will) presents itself to us split into individuated entities (Representation) that are ultimately fictitious,30 so we assume that love is “about” us as individuals, but this is rather a necessary “illusion” (Wahn), for through the individual works the pre- and superindividual will to life on its own designs—namely, the survival of the “species” (Gattung). Whereas the individual can grasp the world only as representation, and thus must “calculate using individual ends,” when seen from the aspect of the will the individual is actually “active for the continuance and the shaping of the species.”31 What we take to be our undying attachment to our one soul mate whom we have magically found out of billions and billions of individuals is instead nothing other than “the sense of the species.”32 Crucially Schopenhauer draws on but reverses the Romantic and Idealist theorem of the absolute character of love. In both Schopenhauer and, say, Novalis, there is a mysterious force operating “absolutely,” which undergirds the paradigmatic encounter of two subjects. Instead of an Absolute, we now have the “transcendent” character of the species; but this biological Absolute has changed direction. Rather than give a content hitherto unimagined to what seem to be simple erotic transactions (by turning them into ciphers of a larger, all-embracing totality), Schopenhauer’s “instinct” instead turns us into dupes who misunderstand as our own volition what are in fact but the machinations of the species “behind” us. Where in Romanticism love allowed us to transcend our reified world (of the judgment, of the Scheinsatz, of the atomized person) for the allembracing pastures of the Absolute, in Schopenhauer the transcendent will of the species drives us blindly through a maze of appearances. And where the Romantics seemed to think that literature might offer privileged access to the transcendent realm, Schopenhauer’s reference to the “love novel” (Liebesroman)33 we all tell ourselves and each other makes clear that literature is all too inured to the trappings of the fallen world of reified particulars. Rather than replicating the subject’s autonomy on an intersubjective plain (as Fichte, Hegel, Mereau, or Novalis would have it), marriage actually recapitulates the subject’s heteronomy: we choose

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while at the mercy of forces unglimpsed, and we enter a union that serves a purpose we never become aware of. Schopenhauer, like the metaphysicians of marriage discussed in the previous chapters, insists on the importance of unobstructed object choice in marriage—not, however, because we are to autonomously choose our commitments, but instead because only our inclinations realize the absolute will of the species. Wanton boundaries erected by the church, by society, by parents are to be superseded in love—because “by setting aside all respect to convention [Konvenienzrücksichten] and choosing by instinctive inclination [Hange], the individual surrenders its individual well-being to the species.”34 The notion that money, status, and power may biologically pervert the evolutionary will of the species is one that, imbued with more Darwinian hues, Schopenhauer’s self-proclaimed disciple Richard Wagner would repeat almost obsessively. In a fragment entitled “On the Feminine in Humanity” (“Über das Weibliche im Menschlichen,” 1883), Wagner radically reframes the idea of an autonomy of marriage. For Fichte and his followers, submitting to heteronomy through marriage ran counter to the dignity that attaches to humans as rational beings—beyond this, Fichte did not enumerate any deleterious consequences of marriages of convenience. “On the Feminine in Humanity,” however, declares marriage “the sculptress of noble races,”35 and beyond individual shame or indignity marriages of convenience are said to threaten precisely the nobility of the “noble races.” Wagner diagnoses “with the brightest clarity the degeneration of human races,” which, at least among civilized peoples, he blames on “marriages of convention calculated to maximize property.”36 This means that even where Wagner seems to follow the Romantics in advocating an autonomy of marriage from the perverting influence of custom, religion, and capital (as he can be seen to do in dissolving the marriage between Sieglinde and Hunding in Die Walküre in favor of the deeper union of Siegmund and Sieglinde), he does so in the service of a much more thoroughgoing heteronomy of marriage, which has the love relation beholden to matters of blood and heredity instead (the famous “blood of the Valsungs” that inescapably draws the siblings Siegmund and Sieglinde together). While the obsession with the link between procreation and degeneration stems mostly from Wagner’s reading of Arthur de Gobineau (1816– 82), the idea that marriage may be able to outline a historic-evolutionary trajectory can in fact be traced to Schopenhauer as well. For Schopenhauer does more than just reverse direction in the relationship between Absolute and relation. His substitution of the will of the species for the


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Absolute constitutes a reversal of, say, Novalis’s “magic idealism,” but Schelling proposed a similar picture as early as his First Sketch of a System of Nature Philosophy (Erster Entwurf zu einer Philosophie der Natur) in 1799, which found Schelling undertaking a similar “biological turn.”37 What fundamentally distinguishes Schopenhauer’s “will of the species” from the Absolute as conceived by Novalis or at least the early Schelling is that Schopenhauer’s “will” seems to have a history. For instance, Schopenhauer claims not only that men and women seek in many cases their opposite in their respective mates, but moreover that they tend to opt for “opposite” races as well. “In passing,” Schopenhauer notes his opinion that white skin and blue eyes are not natural but rather an acquired trait owing to Caucasians’ longtime presence in “the north alien to man.”38 This was of course not an unusual position to take in the nineteenth century. Montesquieu had already suggested as much in L’esprit des lois (one could even argue that a similar claim is made in Tacitus’s Germania).39 However, Schopenhauer reverses the implicit teleology of the history of human evolution: where most of the nineteenth century understands European man’s cleavage from nature as an expression of history’s progress, Schopenhauer postulates instead an attraction of whites to “blacks and browns” and claims that in this attraction a drive back to an original type (which is “black and brown”) asserts itself. “In sexual love, nature aims to return to dark hair and brown eyes as the original type.”40 Schopenhauer’s Absolute asserts itself relatively or relationally in and through love and thus has a history. What does it mean to say that marriage has a history? Which part of it is variable? With respect to the metaphysics of marriage, a historicity of marriage could mean that a transhistoric structure has been given a variety of historic guises; but it could also mean that that structure is itself an artifact of a particular historical moment and a particular culture. Schopenhauer, like the Idealists, admits historicity only in the first sense, while others increasingly opted for the second sense as the century wore on. While Schopenhauer seems to think that erotic object choice and the guiding plan of the “will to life” of the species are subject to historic change, he does not seem to think that eroticism or the sexual relationship itself is susceptible to such change. Whether this goes for the other thinkers considered in this study is an open question. Clearly the notion of a poietics of marriage presupposes the mutability of the institution—if marriage can and must be reconceived, it must be capable of such reconception. Certainly Hegel and Fichte both point to inauthentic or sham

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marriages that are for them phenomena of prior historical epochs—for instance arranged marriage, sibling marriage, and polygamy. But those were emphatically not “real” marriages— construing any continuity between them and the modern bourgeois marriage apotheosized in Fichte’s and Hegel’s philosophy would be to impute to the institution a kind of historic mutability that its metaphysical “deduction” cannot allow. Here, then, it is not the legitimation of marriage whose autonomy is at stake; it is the self-generating nature of its relational structure. As part of the nineteenth century’s gradual detachment from the metaphysical imaginary concerning marriage, thinkers were increasingly willing to grant that what exactly a marriage is (and not just is considered to be) is capable of change over time. The most important figure in this regard is Johann Jakob Bachofen, whose The Mother Right (Das Mutterrecht, 1861) claims that modern monogamous, bourgeois marriage constitutes the exact inverse of the institution’s origin—polygamy gave rise to monogamy, pure legal fiat gave rise to conjugal love, and free love begat the modern nuclear family. Bachofen repeatedly explains how “humiliating” the historicity of marriage must be to its moral advocates: “Those who hold the view that the marital relation between the sexes is necessary and original will not be spared a humiliating surprise.”41 What is being “humiliated” here is of course the idea that marriage has a necessary structure, which derives from the nature of the union itself—rather than from whatever outside purposes may attach to the union according to tribal or dynastic custom. In essence Das Mutterrecht tells the story of how the original anarchy characteristic of “primitive” man was transcended in favor of a matriarchal or “gynaikocratic” (gynaikokratisch) system, founded on matrilinearity and universal brotherhood. This social stage and its “lunar” religions were then in turn overpowered in a “violent struggle” (gewaltsamer Umsturz)42 by masculinist sun-god cults exemplified above all by Apollo, but of course already anticipating Christian monotheism. The progress of civilization, in other words, depends on a brutal repression of femininity and the memory of woman’s erstwhile dominion over man. Crucially, however, while Bachofen at times makes it sound as though he straightforwardly allies femininity with nature, thus casting woman in the role of what needs to be “worked away” by the phallic project of civilization, he makes very clear that woman rule represents rather the beginning of civilization. It is after all “gynaikocracy” and thus concerned with systems of dominance and hierarchy characteristic of civilization. On Bachofen’s just-so story,


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in a state of nature men “naturally” lorded over women; the laws necessary for culture were first created by women (prime among them “marital fidelity” [Keuschheit]), owing to their “yearning for a rule-bound state of affairs and pure ethical life.”43 The Mutterrecht of the title represents thus not a state of nature itself, but rather the mythic, “poetic” world before the male mission civilisatrice. For similar reasons, woman is the original inventor of humanity as a concept (because motherhood guarantees universal brotherhood) and of the religion that kept the mythic world integrated, poetic, and whole. Bachofen’s borrowings from the German Idealists are hard to miss; however, it is less clear that Bachofen follows the most important link established by the Idealists, namely, between the theory of the Absolute (or consciousness) and the theory of love and marriage. At first blush, Das Mutterrecht does not contain a theory of consciousness—and yet, its introduction progresses as something of a “transcendental novel.” Bachofen imagines in detail a subject that resists the increasing obviousness of the erstwhile existence of the mother right—both author and reader, he seems to imply, have to work hard to come to terms with this complete uprooting of their historical imaginary. In fact, he thinks that both reader and author (both gendered male) may indeed feel threatened in their masculinity by this notion —wounded in their “pride and self-infatuation” (des Stolzes und der Eigenliebe). In order to see the “mother right,” “we” (men) need to humble ourselves and let go of our narcissism. Bachofen even explains our resistance to the notion of a mother right: our optic is so profoundly shaped by the patriarchal world inaugurated by the sun-god religions that we simply have trouble perceiving an entirely different arrangement even when it is right before us. Instead, we choose to think of it as an outlier, a fanciful story, myth. “The later time will scheme to extend the domination of its own ideas over any facts and phenomena that appear foreign to it.”44 Recognizable human history (as opposed to myth) is not coextensive with sex as it is for Baader and Kierkegaard; it is rather coextensive with the ideology of patriarchy. But the optic Bachofen seeks to instill in his readers does not presuppose that we are barred from access to the ancient matriarchal religions and kinship systems; instead he claims that we can see the traces of those systems in our very projections, namely, in the texts of classical Greeks, where they offer themselves up in a sort of ordo inversus. Bachofen even engages in his own “apologia” for the seemingly irretrievable feminine past: “Wherever there exist distortions, doubts, and negations, the falsifi-

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cation will always lie with the researcher, not with the sources and traditions on which our lack of understanding and our arrogant self-regard like to pin the blame.”45 Bachofen essentially temporalizes Jean Paul’s critique of Fichte’s philosophy of sex. Instead of a feminine principle that is unavailable other than as the compound of masculine projections, Bachofen posits a historic feminine cultural principle the only access to which (for us moderns) goes through the masculinist classical Greeks. Of course, Bachofen did not mean to posit the mythic epoch of the matriarchate as a golden age, from which the male-dominated process of civilization constituted a kind of fall. He thought of the civilizing process as altogether positive, and his texts seem at times downright terrified of the world of the mother right—how could he embrace its lunar religion as a fervent Christian? What is interesting about Bachofen’s reception, however, is that those who took his claims about the matriarchal prehistory of civilization seriously were usually explicitly anti-Christian, and in their hands Bachofen’s vision of horror indeed transformed into an Edenic tale. To be fair, Bachofen’s descriptions themselves point to a pronounced ambivalence on this account. Some of his statements regarding the mother right are downright rhapsodic; at other moments he appears to catch himself, condemn the era of the mother right, and applaud man’s and Christ’s supersession of its barbarism. As with Schopenhauer’s feminized sexuality that repulses but bedevils, Bachofen seems terrified and titillated by the idea of a society run by women. By the time Friedrich Nietzsche, who knew both Bachofen and his writings well, embarked on his own revision of the common story of classical antiquity, he had decisively flipped Bachofen’s ostensible valuations—Apollonian religion became the enemy that destroyed the more authentic, deeper, and truer state of Dionysian life. And while Nietzsche does not actually think it viable to somehow forgo the Apollonian in favor of the Dionysian, those among Germany’s “New Heathens” (Neuheiden) who drew on him and turned his historic speculation into “modern ersatz religions,”46 as Hans Georg Gadamer put it, made their project precisely that.

The Waning Promise of Metaphysics: Trendelenburg and Lotze Even if the formal features of the Romantic and Idealist metaphysics of marriage disappeared one by one in the course of the nineteenth century, they constitute only one aspect of what had made marriage so appealing


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a subject for the protagonists of our study. And in fact, as far as Bachofen and his readers were removed from the metaphysics of a Novalis, a Hegel, or a Hölderlin, they preserved one feature of their metaphysics in much greater purity than some of those thinkers’ ostensible followers. For Bachofen, just as much as for Novalis, the stakes in getting marriage right could not have been higher: the verdict about this particular bourgeois institution for him constituted nothing less than a verdict about civilization as such. For Novalis and for the young Hegel the possibility of genuine marriage sounded out the very possibility of a noncoercive society; for Bachofen, or at least Bachofen’s readers, the vestigial traces of the matriarchate were exactly that. Whatever happened in marriage, it was a harbinger of what was possible, what could be hoped for, in human coexistence. This “metaphysical pathos” was gradually eroded among those who remained most faithful to the particular lemmata and operations of the Romantic and Idealist metaphysics of marriage. Unlike, say, Schopenhauer, they remained in the thrall of marital autonomy, but that autonomy ceased to have the implications it had had in the dizzy raptures of the 1790s. Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg (1802–72) became a professor at the University of Berlin two years after Hegel’s death. He was a student of Schleiermacher’s and a vigorous critic of the more speculative aspects of German Idealism; he quickly emerged as one of the main protagonists of the mid-century backlash against speculative Idealism. Nevertheless, when he presented his own theory of marriage in his Natural Right on the Basis of Ethics (Naturrecht auf dem Grunde der Ethik, 1860), he drew on many of the ideas that had guided the German Idealists in their theories of marriage. He attacks Kantian ethics as proceeding “from the individual, not from a greater whole, of which the individual is only one element.” Insofar as Kant wants only to determine the necessary limits of individual egoism, any “demand” that individuals “exist together can produce only a purely external bond.”47 In contradistinction to such “atomism,” Trendelenburg extols gender dimorphism as a necessary precondition for the “ethical,” that is to say, egoism-transcending, tendency of marriage; he associates men with activity and women with passivity; and he demands that both be united in marriage in “one common harmonious whole.”48 Nevertheless, Trendelenburg’s view of how this “harmonious whole” is accomplished, and what it in turn accomplishes, turns out to be a good deal less heady than what the German Idealists and Romantics presented in their theories of marriage. As its title indicates, Trendelenburg’s book seeks to provide a “natural law” the determinations of which nevertheless

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flow from a core of “ethics.” Its epigraph is a quotation from Heraclitus, according to which “all human laws approximate the one divine Law,” and it is in the spirit of this claim that Trendelenburg treats marriage. For him, the institution flows out of human instinctive and affective life, but such life is transmuted in marriage into an “ethical” formation. But this “ethicalization” is a far cry from, say, Novalis’s “moralization”: far from some kind of awareness of the Absolute, what makes marriage ethical is simply the fact that in subordinating their wills one to the other, the two marriage partners overcome their own instinctual egoism. For Trendelenburg, what makes marriage an ethical institution is simply its projection in time, the fact that two human beings commit to keeping their raging egos in check vis-à-vis one another in perpetuity. The two thus “become one” only in a very limited sense: marriage “makes the drive, which otherwise seeks only selfish pleasure, into a means of founding a life of a community in mutual surrender and fidelity.”49 In previous chapters we saw again and again the incredible ideological freight that the various protagonists of Idealism and Romanticism piled onto the unification marriage was said to accomplish. Trendelenburg follows their vocabulary of “surrender of the whole person” but means by this little more than the traditional consortium omnis vitae of Roman Catholic theology.50 Fichte’s “complete” unification of lives has thus become simply a lifelong association. Similarly, Hermann Lotze (1817–81), who arrived at the University of Berlin eight years after Trendelenburg’s death, maintained the metaphysical outlook on marriage, mostly with a view to sidestepping the temptation to ground marriage in a supposedly “natural” arrangement of the sexes. But even though he explicitly drew on the German Idealist theories of marriage, his vision of the ethical nature and power of the marital union is far more limited than that of even the most grounded German Idealist. For Lotze, Marriage “is founded on a natural fact whose essential necessity and meaning we simply do not understand”—“however, this is not a problem at all.”51 After all, Lotze explains, the true object of a sexual ethics is trying to divine not what ethics nature imposes on us (since it has none), but rather how “we could wrestle from [the natural fact] as much ethical good as possible.”52 Lotze returns to the Kantian account according to which marriage restores the dignity that is forfeit in the natural progress of sexuality. Even more than Kant, however, Lotze tempers the metaphysical basis with persistent reference to the existing reality: partners choose freely to enter into a marriage, but the structure of that marriage is binding and derives


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not from the union itself but from their particular culture. Lotze makes a few exceptions, such as the permanence of marriage and the unification of wills, but by and large he understands marriage as the iteration of an atemporal structure in a culturally specific guise. Our “concept” of marriage, he claims, “is itself only our determination of the ideal, which we would like to see ourselves reach.”53 Far from furnishing all of (or even most of) the determinations of marriage, the ideal is simply the vanishing point of cultural expectations. Lotze is thus indicative of a wider trend in German philosophy in the later nineteenth century: induction from (natural, cultural, psychological) facts has taken the place of deduction from principles or self-sustaining structures. As one thinker asked: “Why shouldn’t the outmoded deductive metaphysics a priori give birth to an inductive metaphysics a posteriori, just as alchemy gave rise to chemistry, and astrology to astronomy?”54 In closing, this chapter traces how marriage fared among the metaphysical astronomers.

Metaphysics and “the Woman Question”: The Metaphysics of Marriage at the End of the Nineteenth Century Just how far metaphysics was from mainstream thought about gender and sexuality by the end of the century is made clear by the case of one of the late nineteenth century’s last metaphysicians in the mold of German Idealism. Eduard von Hartmann (1842–1906), mostly forgotten today but a highly fashionable philosopher during the last third of the nineteenth century, first came to prominence with an attempt to fuse opposing currents of German Idealism. His thinking about sexuality, however, though it trafficked in many of the commonplaces that had dominated Romantic and Idealist thought on the subject, presented itself as derived entirely from supposed natural “facts” of a decidedly positivistic kind. As it happened, Hartmann’s critics returned precisely to Romantic and Idealist thought to rebuke his picture of the sexual relationship, marshaling the figures considered in the previous chapters against positivism and positive law. Hartmann’s Philosophy of the Unconscious (Philosophie des Unbewußten, 1869), which Nietzsche cruelly lampooned as a “philosophy of unconscious irony,”55 followed in the footsteps of Schelling’s late philosophy, trying to reconcile the idea that existence is nothing but the elaboration of Concept and the idea that reality is nothing but different emanations of the Absolute or God, a reconciliation that he framed as the combination

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of Hegel’s panlogism and Schopenhauer’s metaphysics of the will. It was part of a game of one-upmanship in the fine tradition of early Idealism, in which every year brought a book that found an opposition to dissolve in a higher unity, only to have another book unmask that higher unity as simply an opposed element in an even higher unity the following year. Given that Hartmann’s philosophy was a metaphysics in overdrive, a look at Hartmann’s writings on marriage and the family is downright shocking. Granted, these writings postdate his first and most famous book by a decade, but Hartmann’s Idealism and his metaphysics leave no trace whatsoever when it comes to his theory of marriage. Instead, Hartmann bases his views on sexuality entirely “on the physiological character of the sexes.”56 Love, sex, and marriage are determined by the “teleological arrangement of nature,” not by any kind of “ethical” reorganization thereof. Where Fichte attempted to “deduce” the activity and passivity of men and women respectively from the structure of selfconsciousness itself, Hartmann simply assumes them as biological givens. For Hartmann, the amount of “ethical” purification of such biological givens that marriage can be asked to undertake is quite limited. Men are active and they desire, women are passive and are desired; as a result, men are hormonally disposed to woo women, and women are disposed to being wooed. This makes women by far the more powerful sex, something man (again, naturally) has to compensate for through sublimation. Hartmann thus turns Bachofen on his head: civilization is the creation of the weaker sex, an evolutionary adaptation required to offset their weakness, but the weaker sex are men not women. Hartmann turned to this theory in attacking calls for equal rights for women—“abstract equality almost necessarily becomes its opposite in practice,”57 and giving women formal rights would emasculate men further. Far from relying on a concept such as “dignity” to justify monogamy and female abstinence before marriage, Hartmann argues that women’s liberation, female premarital sex, and women entering the workforce simply will turn men off marriage altogether: “It is the highest stimulation for a man’s wooing if he finds a blank sheet of paper, upon which he can engrave [eingraben] his own signature.”58 Just how threatened Hartmann believed marriage to be in his own time is made clear in an essay entitled “The Life Question of the Family” (“Die Lebensfrage der Familie,” 1885), where the author issues a downright apocalyptic warning: the German family is in decline and Germany is falling behind its ancestral enemy, the French. This is because women’s education, misled by a “counternatural


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spiritualism and abstract idealism,” has turned the women of the bourgeoisie into “precious and neurasthenic egoists”59 who refuse the “natural duties” of womankind, namely, childbearing. It is only the rabbit-like productivity of the lower classes, according to Hartmann, that has so far insured that there are sufficient “children to lay down on the altar of the fatherland.”60 This text dates from 1885. Twenty years later, a young academic originally from the Crimea attacked Hartmann alongside many of his most eminent colleagues in an article called “The Position on the Woman Question of Contemporary German Philosophy” (“Die Stellung der deutschen Philosophie der Gegenwart zur Frauenfrage,” 1906) in the journal Die Frau.61 Maria Raich, who had studied in Berlin alongside her husband and received her Ph.D. from the University of Strassburg, turned to the metaphysics of marriage of the turn of the nineteenth century in order to take to task the great old men of German philosophy at the turn of the twentieth. Just the year before, Raich had successfully defended her dissertation at the University of Strassburg, a study of the tension between intersubjectivity and individuality in Fichte’s ethics. And it is Fichte who guides her attack on “contemporary German philosophy” and its view on the “woman question”; not Fichte the political thinker, a favorite in the newly unified German Empire (though her dissertation mentions the Reden several times), but rather the early revolutionary: She insists throughout that the telos of marriage will be revealed by not looking into human biology or a national tradition but into a future that constitutes a break with both biology and tradition. Lotze insisted that any such attempt to divine a “meaning” in the “natural fact” of sexual difference “is just idle play,”62 but Raich goes further, suggesting that there is something pernicious rather than “idle” about assuming a contiguity between nature and marriage. Where the neo-Idealist Friedrich Paulsen (1846–1908), a student of Trendelenburg’s, claimed that human evolution teaches us what roles men and women should assume in marriage, Raich insists that marriage constitutes a radical break from human evolution. According to Raich, Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920), the inventor of “social psychology” (Völkerpsychologie), operates similarly to Paulsen: “For him ethics cannot be founded on metaphysics, since it is instead ethics that is to furnish the building blocks for metaphysics.”63 The “metaphysical” structure of the sexual relationship is for Wundt simply an extension of the traditional customs within a particular society.

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Against this, Raich develops an approach to marriage that strikingly recapitulates the central tenets of the Idealist and Romantic metaphysics of marriage. She calls this approach “psychology,” but insofar as it concerns the structure of our relationship to this world in general, it is a metaphysical point: just like Fichte in his deduction of intersubjectivity in the Foundations of Natural Right, Raich insists that there are aspects of human self-consciousness that can be activated only under certain intersubjective circumstances, above all in marriage. As Raich puts it in her dissertation, “there are parts of the human character that can be developed only in marriage —love, magnanimity, self-sacrifice, true friendship.”64 But not any, and certainly not a merely “natural” marriage will allow these to be developed. A marriage that flowed directly out of natural or customary determinations, Raich argues, would constitute nothing but a miniature dictatorship, structured only through force and bereft of “moral” value. Paulsen’s and Wundt’s theories of marriage “coincide in their monarchic understanding of the family,”65 in which the family is essentially an extension of the husband’s autonomy, an autonomy the wife willingly submits to. A “true” marriage that can fully actualize all parts of the human character instead has to flow from the voluntary unification of the marital partners’ autonomy, where the individual becomes “not a ruler, but a friend and companion for life.”66 In her critique of Hartmann, Raich emphasizes that this dictatorial view of marriage arises not just because we uncritically take nature as a guide to marital life, but even if we look to tradition or to the nation. Against Hartmann’s insistence that marriage is simply a means of preserving the nation through reproduction, she points out that “whatever the final end [Endziel] may be, the means that lead to it attain in our psyche the dignity of an end in itself.”67 Raich mobilizes the central element of the Romantic and Idealist theory of the family: the idea that the structure of marriage cannot be derived from outside determinations but instead needs to spring from the metaphysical constitution of the marital union itself. For instance, it does not matter which sex is supposedly stronger than the other in nature (or, as Lotze points out, that parents have absolute power over their children in nature),68 because marriage consists in the abandonment of any natural determination in favor of a new (and “unnatural”) arrangement according to formal principles. The “monarchic” understanding of the family insists on the contiguity of paternal power and “natural” relations of dominance. Raich points out that such a contiguity would bode ill for “the moral level of a family.”69


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In order to be an ethical and a moral institution, marriage must be autonomous; its structure must derive from the union itself, rather than from natural facts or tradition. Raich’s critique just emphasizes how productive the early Idealist theory of marriage remained more than a hundred years after it was first formulated, but her advocacy, much like Trendelenburg’s and Lotze’s, also betrays that this theory had lost some of its revolutionary sweep in the course of the century. After all, Raich’s vindication of marriage’s status as “end in itself” proceeds by reference to the individual “psyche”—the marital partners must be able to assume that marriage is an “end itself,” act as if it did. Rudolf Vaihinger’s brand of Neo-Kantianism clearly lies in the background here, but so does Fichte’s most pernicious legerdemain—the idea that love addresses itself to the psyche and helps hide the true facts of sexuality from the psyche. This was an idea that Fichte’s followers among the Romantics all balked at; at the beginning of the twentieth centuries, even those who kept the faith with the metaphysics of marriage and who sought to deploy that metaphysics to equally radical political ends accepted it.


Marriage after Metaphysics mephistopheles: Wird das auch so vom Herzen gehen? faust: Laß das! Es wird!—Wenn ich empfinde, Für das Gefühl, für das Gewühl Nach Namen suche, keinen finde, Dann durch die Welt mit allen Sinnen schweife, Nach allen höchsten Worten greife, Und diese Glut, von der ich brenne, Unendlich, ewig, ewig nenne, Ist das ein teuflisch Lügenspiel? mephistopheles: Will that be so sincere as well? faust: Enough! It will! For when I feel, all blinded, And for that well, that teeming wealth Search for a name and cannot find it, Then through the world send all my senses casting, For most sublime expression grasping, And call this blaze that leaves me breathless Eternal, infinite—yes! Deathless! Is that a trick of devilish stealth? —J. W. Goethe, Faust


s it “a trick of devilish stealth” to promise another “eternal” or “in­ finite” devotion, loyalty, and love? Faust’s rhetorical question to Meph­ istopheles, the “liar” and “sophist,” seems to imply that it is not. Where the supernatural Mephistopheles understands “eternity” literally and thus Faust’s professions of “eternal” devotion to Margarethe as outright lies, Faust claims a different status for this “eternity.” Eternity is, he claims here, a “name” for the inchoate stirring of his soul, and it is about endur­ ance in time, about a projection into the future rather than the stricter claim that it cannot or will not end. Faust seems to grant that his words cannot do justice to his feelings, nor do his feelings have the stability of



words. For Faust marriage vows, the perhaps most visible professions of eternal love, may misuse such “sublime” terms as “deathless” and “in­ finite,” but they express a human act of willing that in the final analysis seems aimed at nothing less than the “little” infinity or “little” immortal­ ity of a lifetime or an afterlife. The remainder of the first part of Faust seems to bear out Mephistopheles’ misgivings, but the rapturous close of the tragedy’s second part hints that Faust may indeed be right to see in love such eternity as is available to human beings. So which disputant is right? The question seems to have bedeviled the heirs of German Idealism throughout the nineteenth century; and they seem to have regarded it as less a question of Faust’s particular character (his constant striving) than a problem of human existence tout court: Can human beings commit themselves to lifelong bonds without being dishon­ est? And what would it mean if they could? Kuno Fischer (1824–1907), the Neo-Kantian and historian of philosophy, decides those questions in favor of Mephistopheles. The devil has managed to make the eternal striver Faust settle for an existence that appears transcendent but whose tran­ scendence is in fact merely illusion.1 In an 1894 article for the Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik, the ethicist Theobald Ziegler (1846–1918) adjudicates the dispute as a draw. Of course, he writes, Meph­ istopheles triumphs at the end of their exchange, but “Faust is right too; for this is being-infinite and being-eternal within the finite.”2 And indeed, Faust II finds a redeemed Faust being pulled from the earth as “the eter­ nal feminine draws us on high” toward heaven, and the mater gloriosa assuring Gretchen that if she “soar to higher spheres,” Faust “will divine and follow thee.”3 Far from a simple self-deception about the fickleness of the human heart, Faust’s “casting of the senses” for a word to express his resolution to sustain his relationship points to a promise of transcendence. Where Faust and Gretchen attain it only in their ascent to heaven, how­ ever, Faust’s initial rebuke of Mephistopheles, his claim that his promises of eternity are not “tricks of devilish stealth,” suggest that the kind of vows he has in mind allow for a more innerworldly kind of transcendence. This kind of transcendence pointed the nineteenth century toward meta­ physics, an increasingly unlikely horizon as the century wore on. When Eduard von Hartmann likened the “outmoded deductive metaphysics a priori” to “alchemy,” and instead expressed his hopes for an “inductive metaphysics a posteriori,”4 he captured a general mood of the latter half of the nineteenth century in Germany. As philosophy became more mod­ est in its claims, and professionalized as a discipline, “metaphysics” came

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to denote everything philosophy no longer wanted to be. Nevertheless, features of the metaphysical theories of marriage proposed during the sys­ tematizing decades straddling the turn of the nineteenth century survived into this postmetaphysical age. In fact, the theory of marriage may have clung to metaphysical vestiges longer than other areas of philosophy. The nineteenth century continued to understand marriage as something that managed to transform the most creaturely aspect of human existence into something that seemed to run counter to inclination, and perhaps even el­ evate human beings above their creaturely aspects. Richard Wagner, who similarly called the exchange on the Leipzig street for Faust,5 notes in his 1883 fragment “On the Feminine in Humanity” (“Über das Weibliche im Menschlichen”): “Loving faith: marriage; this is man’s power over nature, and we call it divine.”6 Like him, many others recognized marriage’s subli­ mation of eros as a colossal undertaking, marveled at the sheer exertion of will required to turn fickle human infatuations into a community so stable it could serve as a model for communities as far-flung and heterogeneous as the state. Some, for instance the more conservative followers of Hegel, regarded this assertion of will as a positive thing, a sign of what further refinement humanity might yet be capable of in the political realm; others, such as Max Stirner, saw it as a sign just how far human beings would go in denying their own impulses when in the thrall of religious or moral delu­ sions. In either case, in describing what actually happened in this immense effort of the will philosophers tended to turn to metaphysical categories. Whatever made this transformation possible seemed to cut to the very heart of human sociability and coexistence. Of course, the theories of the family that we tend to associate with in particular the second half of the nineteenth century are those that explain this great cultural effort through outside factors. Far from a titanic projec­ tion of subjective will, they credit the fact that subjects are capable of such sublimation to outside help. Young Hegelians like Max Stirner thought that this outside help came from religion’s deceptions; Friedrich Engels located it in ideology; Darwin found it in our inherited traits, Freud in our unconscious. But there were those who sought to explain this effort of will without reference to outside forces, as a projection of subjective autonomy, a projection that was itself spontaneously, that is to say au­ tonomously, constituted and that required (or was reducible to) no outside social, psychological, or ideological factors. That is not to say that they thought that such factors had no role to play in the sublation of inclination into ethical life, but they thought that such factors could not sufficiently



explain this sublation. While they challenged many of the precepts that had guided the Romantic and Idealist metaphysics of marriage, thinkers like Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Otto Weininger never­ theless maintained the Idealists’ and Romantics’ central idea of the au­ tonomy of marriage. There was something in marriage that could not be explained by forces external to it; instead, whatever occurred in marriage that managed to bring together two people in a spontaneous and endur­ ing union had repercussions in fields that seemed to have little to do with love and sex. It was in this respect that the idea of marital autonomy retained a cer­ tain degree of currency throughout the nineteenth century. Those theories that insisted on marriage’s institutional recalcitrance vis-à-vis the momen­ tary “teeming wealth” to which Faust refers were not among the most politically progressive to emerge from the nineteenth century. In the pre­ ceding chapters we have charted two reactions to the emerging ideology of the self-positing family. One sought to push this idea to its logical con­ clusion, deciding that if the family did not preexist love, it also did not outlast it—love not only made but rather was the family. The other in­ stead tried to grapple with the intuition that something does precede and does endure a particular couple. This overarching, recalcitrant element, be it in the form of discursive legalese, of dynastic structures, or of the biological product maintained a hold on the Romantic imagination and beyond, even as the Romantics explored the possibility of a union that left no such uncanny remainder. The reason this ought to interest us in the early twenty-first century is that since the turn of the eighteenth, these two branching reactions to the bourgeois ideology of autonomous marriage have reversed their roles. For much of the 1790s, the denial of an uncanny third term in marriage seemed to offer a way to critique civil society and to point beyond it to a new kind of society and political system. This may not be entirely surprising. After all, the recognition and validation of the un­ canniness characteristic of liberal and bourgeois forms of institutionality almost perforce generates an opposing vision—the possibility of a being together that would not result in such a third term, that had no uncanny remainder, but that left feeling and institution in automatic and instinctive agreement. This chapter seeks to outline the opposing genealogy—the equally powerful idea that there is something ineluctably recalcitrant about family and marriage, something that outlasts the shifting affects it initially or intermittently rests on. This idea, seemingly far removed from the dizzy raptures of the para- or anti-institutional picture of marriage we

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have been tracing for much of this study, has begun to unfold a hitherto unexpected kind of political efficacy in our own day.

Marriage, Transcendence, Duration: Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche While Søren Kierkegaard never discussed the scene on the Leipzig street directly, his Faust, as evidenced in copious notes and diary entries, was the Faust of mid-century Danish Hegelianism. In a remarkable note from 1837, he accuses both Hegel and Goethe with analogous failures of nerves: just as Hegel retreated from the irremissible conflict of the dialectic into a false reconciliation, so does Faust II retreat from the irresolvable con­ tradiction explored in the first part.7 This was a point of criticism that in­ tensified as Kierkegaard’s general opinion of Goethe declined in his later writings. One of the unresolved contradictions of Faust concerned the question of marriage—and while at least the early Kierkegaard seems to have agreed with Faust that marriage may push the human being toward transcending the limits of its creatureliness, Either/Or (a text that exten­ sively draws on Goethe in discussing marriage) seems to think that both striving for transcendence and utter immersion in the moment ultimately come to naught—a much more Mephistophelian position. Kierkegaard’s belief that marriage may transcend human creaturely temporality was inspired in good part by protagonists of this study. While Kierkegaard’s thought about marriage drew on the work of many writers who would not be considered Idealist theorists of marriage, and while Kierkegaard was famously hostile to Hegel, especially the young Kierke­ gaard extensively drew on Franz von Baader. Kierkegaard seems to have had more books by Baader in his library than by any other author, in­ cluding Hegel.8 In fact, there is ample evidence that Kierkegaard became familiar with the Hegelian system, which he would spend much of his life savaging, only through Baader’s critiques thereof. While most of the books by Baader Kierkegaard owned dealt with dogmatic questions and specu­ lative philosophy, they included Vierzig Sätze aus einer religiösen Erotik from 1831, which indicates that Kierkegaard was quite familiar with the outlines of Baader’s erotic philosophy.9 When it comes to the logic of uni­ fication Kierkegaard follows Baader in significantly complicating the pic­ ture that underpinned the Idealist metaphysics of marriage: where the Idealists tended to think of marriage as healing the rifts occasioned by



man’s egress from Edenic innocence, Kierkegaard, like Baader, does not grant it any such power. Like the Idealists, Kierkegaard posits sexuality as an index and result of man’s fall from grace. While he does not subscribe to Baader’s theory of Adamic androgyny, Kierkegaard nevertheless thinks that without the forbidden fruit of knowledge, “without sin there is no sexuality, and without sexuality no history.”10 However, because sin is not identical with negativity, we cannot see the fall from grace as a necessary stage to be passed through. After all, this Rousseauist idea would depend on a necessity of man’s sinning, which would render the notion of original sin absurd. But if love and marriage cannot offer full restitution in a fallen world, they can nevertheless address the iniquities of human existence that are the consequences of sin. Judge William’s “Defense of Marriage” in Either/ Or suggests how love and marriage, or at least the right kinds of love and marriage, might do so. As our discussion of the longue durée of marital life in chapter 7 makes clear, marriage for Kierkegaard (or rather Judge William) has to do not only with a certain kind of love but with a certain kind of temporality. Because sexuality is coterminous with temporality and finitude (if we had not discovered one, we would not have fallen into the other), we face in erotic love the choice of either indulging our ego at the expense to our relationship to God (the Seducer’s strategy) or forgo­ ing our ego to some extent in favor of our submission to an Other, which is ultimately God, but which may also simply be intersubjective structures beyond the confines of our selves (Judge William’s strategy). Rather than egoistically thinking “he has made a conquest of the woman he loves,” the man who is a groom rather than a seducer “humbles himself under his love.”11 The Either/Or of the book’s title thus refers back to the account of the fall Kierkegaard inherits from Baader. Of course, both alternatives come up empty, as they do not in Baader: for embodied creatures with preferences and passions, the kind of divestiture of self Judge William sug­ gests will at best be incomplete. Nevertheless, marriage is (as for Baader) precisely concerned with transcending bodily investments. As Julia Watkin has put it, marriage for Kierkegaard does not exist “merely for the sake of continuing the race”12 but is centrally occupied with approaching the infinite by way of a finite relationship. Friedrich Nietzsche’s writings are similarly preoccupied with this ap­ proach and how to evaluate it. Nietzsche emphatically freed marriage from the kind of theological determinations Kierkegaard inherited from Baader—gone was the fall, gone was sin. As a result the approach of the infinite became far more ambivalent: was it real or a cultural delusion, a

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piece of erotic Hinterweltlertum? Unlike Kierkegaard, Nietzsche does not grant (hetero-)sexuality a natural privilege—throughout his oeuvre we encounter notes that suggest that the very notion that erotic attraction may restore humanity to a lost and longer-for unity was itself an index of a diseased and degenerate modernity. Faust, whose striving and erotic longing increasingly coincide once he has met Gretchen, was in this case a symptom: “How incomprehensible would the generally comprehensible modern cultural man Faust, who storms unsatisfied through all faculties, have appeared to a true Greek.”13 Nietzsche reintroduces the contrast be­ tween love and friendship that was already debated among Fichte’s fol­ lowers and critics, from Savigny to Schleiermacher and Schlegel. Unlike them, however, Nietzsche radically privileges same-sex friendship over and against the sexual relationship, although he hews quite closely to the terms these earlier thinkers used for their comparison. The first of these is a lapsal narrative holding up modern anomic social practice against a more holistic ancient Greece: “Antiquity lived friendship,” and friendship was “buried alongside it.” For Nietzsche, this is antiquity’s great advan­ tage over “the moderns,” who instead turn to “idealized sexual love [Geschlechstliebe].” All great achievements of antiquity stem from the fact “that man stood next to man, and that there was no woman to claim that she was the nearest, highest, most unique of his life.”14 Indeed, Human, All Too Human suggests that this uniqueness stems from a family resemblance between “womanly love” and “motherly love.”15 Whereas in Bachofen the mother’s love safeguarded a “universal,” nonparochial love, maternal love in Nietzsche seems always already particularized. Of course, women are able to be friends with men—in fact, “a good marriage is founded on the talent for friendship.”16 However, such friendship requires “the assistance of a slight physical antipathy”17—in order to be friends, we need to sepa­ rate ourselves from purely instinctual fellow feeling and instead transition from miredness in biological concretion to elective association. Friend­ ship means cleansing the relationship of the lumps of primordial soil that “naturally” stick to it. Nietzsche also emphasizes the importance of the duration of marriage in a fashion very much analogous to that of Kierkegaard. (Nietzsche of course never read Kierkegaard— Georg Brandes recommended Kierke­ gaard to Nietzsche in 1888, only months before Nietzsche’s breakdown, and there is no evidence Nietzsche ever heeded Brandes’s recommendation.)18 Marriage wills into existence a constancy of passion that runs counter to the very concept of passion. As such, there is something deeply lifedenying in marriage — some of Nietzsche’s writings seem to hold this



against marriage, while others celebrate the same denial as an expression of undiluted will. “The institution of marriage doggedly holds onto the belief that love, although a passion, is capable of duration as such, yes, en­ during lifelong love could be made into a rule.”19 Nietzsche considers mar­ riage and similar “institutions and customs that turn the fiery surrender of the moment into eternal fidelity” nothing but “pious fraud” ( pia fraus); 20 however, because of such fraud we no longer need to be ashamed of our passions, but rather can exalt them. Passion becomes a “new superhuman concept, lifting man up.”21 However, Nietzsche’s position on this matter is not to be confused with Kierkegaard’s: for Nietzsche, “the spiritualization of sensuality,”22 the way it is “spiritualized, beautified, deified,”23 consti­ tutes “a great triumph over Christianity.”24 At other points, however, Nietzsche sounds much less favorable in his assessments of marriage, regarding it not as an expression of life and the will, but rather as their negation. Much like the German Idealists, Nietz­ sche seems to distinguish between an authentic and an inauthentic kind of marriage. On the one hand his Zarathustra can claim that marriage is “what I call the will by two for creating the one that is more than those who created it,”25 only to contrast it with marriage as “this poverty of the soul by two.”26 This ambivalence between marriage as life-denying and marriage as will-expressing rests on a historical narrative strikingly simi­ lar to that of the early Idealists. The institution of marriage has changed character in modernity; it has become institutionalized and positive, facing human beings as a stricture on rather than an expression of the will. We moderns moralize marriage, which means we make marriage dependent on a value outside of itself rather than on a value that inheres in mar­ riage itself: “Every natural custom [Sitte], every natural institution (state, judiciary [Gerichtsordnung], marriage, care for the sick and poor), every demand of the instinct of life, in short everything that has value in itself, is fundamentally devalued by priestly parasitism (or the ‘moral order of the world’ [sittliche Weltordnung]) and even made contrary to value [wertwidrig]. They now require a sanction after the fact—a value-conferring power becomes necessary, which negates [verneint] nature.”27 In many of his writings, Nietzsche accordingly presents marriage as profoundly at odds with instinctual life; it is a part of “morality as antinature [Widernatur].”28 Like the other “practices of the church [that] are hostile to life,”29 it amounts to a “castration” (Kastratismus) of the drive. Morality that is essentially antinatural is an index of modern man’s decadence, “of a declining, weakened, exhausted, condemned life.”30 At times, Nietzsche even suggests that love and marriage are an outgrowth of

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female “slave morality”: women’s tendency to present themselves “as utterly fragile ornaments [Zieraten]” is a means of defending themselves “against the strong and ‘the law of the jungle.’ ”31 Here, Bachofen’s conten­ tion that culture originated as a female ruse to end the war of each against all is turned on its head —when women domesticate the war of each against all, they inaugurate the ignominious history of slave morality. What Nietzsche decries as “modern” marriage corresponds in many respects quite exactly to the hallmarks of the Romantics’ and Idealists’ proposals for marital reform: the emphasis on love, the absence of power relations within the marriage. Nietzsche argues that we have perverted the nature of the institution by divorcing it from its instinctual basis, which is to say its basis in will and power. It is not so much that marriage in particu­ lar has lost its relevance in modernity. Rather, as Nietzsche remarks about institutions in general: “After we lost all instincts from which institutions may grow, we lost the institutions in general, because we no longer live up to them.”32 Institutions require “will, instinct, imperative,” “the will to tradition, to authority, to responsibility for centuries out, to the solidarity of dynastic chains [Geschlechter-Ketten] forward and backward ad infini­ tum.”33 While the Geschlechter Nietzsche invokes here refer to a family, he is certainly playing with the fact that in German Geschlechter can mean both the sexes and dynasties: institutions require a will toward trans­ historic duration; in other words, the late eighteenth-century idea (epito­ mized by Hegel, lampooned by Jean Paul) that each marriage constitutes a new family rather than continuing an ancestral line is part of marriage’s degeneration. In discussing the debasement of institutions in modernity, Nietzsche’s case in point is marriage. The “reason” (Vernunft) of marriage once lay in its paternalistic focus and the impossibility of its dissolution, but with the advent of modern “love-marriage” (Liebes-Heirat), the insti­ tution lost that which made it an institution in the first place. Marriage, Nietzsche asserts, should not be founded on love—“it should be founded on the sex drive, the drive for property (woman and child as property), on the ‘drive to domination’ (Herrschafts-Trieb), which consistently organizes the smallest unit of domination, the family.”34 It is this question of mastery and domination that sets Nietzsche apart from other theorists of marriage in the nineteenth century—and it is that aspect which sits most uneasily with modern readers. Of course, even Fichte allowed for a sublimated antagonism between the sexes, but in love and marriage this antagonism was precisely turned positive. Nietzsche on the other hand claims that “to be wrong about the fundamental problem of ‘man and woman’ [means] to deny the most abysmal antagonism and the



necessity of an eternally hostile tension.”35 There is no sexual complemen­ tarity, but rather for each sex “a perfecting of their own best qualities.”36 It is this latter claim that underpins Nietzsche’s vicious invectives against early feminism; but it also entails a rather radical reconceptualization of marriage: the institution is no longer a haven autonomous from power but rather a nexus of power. In Fichte, in Mereau, in Humboldt, and even in Hegel, the autonomy of the marital unit entailed a brief, nigh-miraculous withdrawal of state and power relations. For Nietzsche, as for the pater­ nalists of the counterrevolution and the absolute monarchies, family is instead characterized by a battle for domination—something that he cel­ ebrates rather than decries. Of course, since the famous “will to power” is something much closer to self-mastery than the domination of another, this seemingly new aspect may seen to be instead the logical consequence of a theory of marital autonomy: in making my commitments, I remake myself. However, what in the Romantic thought of Fichte and Schlegel was mostly a matter of expression is now itself a matter of production. Nietzsche’s emphatic rejection of harmony and complementarity be­ tween the sexes may have some light to shed on his most infamous remark on women: “You go to women? Do not forget the whip!”37 Rather than a straightforward exhortation to spousal abuse, this aphorism (which Nietz­ sche’s Zarathustra learns from a kind of Diotima, an old crone he passes on the street) deals with the “necessity of an eternally hostile tension” be­ tween the sexes, which for Nietzsche also obtains in friendship. “In one’s friend one should have one’s best enemy. You should be closest to him in heart when you resist him.”38 Sexual antagonism is for Nietzsche an index of authentic love, authentic unification, not its opposite; marriage is thus no longer a matter of the unification of perfect complements but is rather shot through with sadomasochistic energies. Such nuances dropped out very quickly in Nietzsche’s reception in Germany, and the thinkers who drew on him to discuss questions of gender and sexuality—from Otto Weininger to the George circle—went even further than Nietzsche in emphasizing the importance of domination in marriage, while some radicalized what they perceived to be his wholesale rejection of the institution of marriage.

Otto Weininger’s Sex and Character Otto Weininger’s magnum opus, Sex and Charakter (Geschlecht und Char­ akter, 1903), is in much more explicit dialogue with the subjects of this

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study than the work of any other thinker considered in this epilogue. Weininger makes explicit references to Schopenhauer’s “metaphysics of sexual love” throughout his book, and he repeatedly invokes Bachofen’s Mother Right. What is more, among the book’s downright encyclope­ dic set of references number nearly all the thinkers considered in this study—Hegel, Fichte, Schelling, Novalis, Jean Paul, Schleiermacher, and the Schlegels. (The only figures Weininger leaves out are Hölderlin and the women authors of Romanticism, who are mentioned only as typical of the “prostitute” type of woman—in particular “Karoline MichaelisBöhmer-Forster-Schlegel-Schelling.”)39 In his exceedingly brief academic life (five years separated his entrance into the University of Vienna and his suicide in 1903), Weininger emphatically and self-consciously moved away from the “Empiriokritizismus”40 of Ernst Mach and toward an ever more metaphysical mode of argument. In fact, his advisors’ comments on his (lost) dissertation make rather critical note of the fact that it somewhat awkwardly balances empirical work and highly metaphysical speculation. In adapting this dissertation into Sex and Character, Weininger moved if anything further in the direction his advisors had warned against in cri­ tiquing the original dissertation. Like the early Idealists and Romantics, then, Weininger explicitly forsook some other philosophical grounding of sexuality in favor of a metaphysics of sex. Weininger even followed the German Idealist theorists of marriage in explicitly tethering his sexual metaphysics to the theory of conscious­ ness. Fichte had inaugurated the explicit analogy between the sexual re­ lationship and the relationship between I and Not-I. Weininger pushes the explicitness of this comparison to new heights: “In the relationship of man and woman, the key to understanding either can be found. It is the relationship between subject and object.”41 In the seventh chapter of the second book of Sex and Character, Weininger explicitly rehearses Fichte’s deduction of the transcendental nature of self-consciousness and explicitly invokes Schelling, Novalis, and Jean Paul.42 He then moves from this dis­ cussion immediately to his theory of “male and female psychology.” In so doing, not only does he recapitulate many of the precepts of the German Idealist and Romantic metaphysics of marriage, but by psychologizing them, he radicalizes the association between I and masculinity on the one hand, and the I’s object and femininity on the other. Like the German Idealists, Weininger conceives of his metaphysics of sex as founded on the autonomy of the I, although he puts his own bi­ zarre spin on their ideas. Fichte argued that “what kind of philosophy one



chooses depends entirely on what kind of person one is.”43 For Weininger, this seems to mean that the transcendental standpoint attests to a stronger I, whereas a tendency toward empiricism indicates a weakness of the I. Neither transcendental nor empirical theories of the I are wrong—they just describe superior masculine and degenerate feminine subjectivity re­ spectively. Man gives us every reason to posit an I that subtends the mo­ mentary snapshots of personality, the “character” of Weininger’s title; in a woman, however, “there is also no reason to posit any such thing.”44 In Weininger’s famous formula: “The absolute woman has no I.”45 Women, degenerates, homosexuals, Jews—they all have the kind of I described by David Hume; the absolute I posited by the Idealists, which for Weininger is identical with “genius,” is a prize for men only. It is only they who ex­ hibit true autonomy: “The very few—they are the geniuses [die genialen Menschen]—live without any heteronomy.”46 Weininger’s ingenious solution to the duality of the sexes and the ques­ tion of unification was to quantify the distribution of sexual difference within the original androgyne. Instead of the two sexes unifying into one androgyne, two androgynes unite to create one perfect man and woman; or, put differently, the Platonic Whole is not subdivided into one male and one female half, but rather male and female (as the principles M and F) are differentially distributed between the two individuals. Thus not only are the male and the female united in the androgyne not coterminous, they in fact by necessity exceed the subjects whose unification eros is supposed to accomplish. Weininger similarly conceives of the sexual relationship as a sexual analogy—as the relation of two proportions. Sexual attraction, on Weininger’s account, seeks to unite an individual with the proportional “sex” of M /F with its exact complement. While Weininger never explicitly speaks of this relationship as an “analogy,” his conception of sexuality relies on the Platonic picture of sexual complementarity, but turns it into a relation of numbers. What is striking, then, is that by moving the analogy to the center of the phenomenon, Weininger drastically curtails the anal­ ogizing power of sexuality and marriage. For the sexual relationship as conceived by Weininger eliminates any possibility of having sexual union figure for a larger unification of groups, countries, communities. Since M and F are complementarily distributed between two individuals, only they can want to unify in erotic love. While being the first to account for hetero- and homosexual attraction in the same matrix, Weininger’s theory of sexuality also serves to fully sever sex from sociality. For while his model undercuts the heterosexist

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assumption of the primacy of the relationship between man and woman, positing that all heterosexuality is underpinned by a reverse proportion of homosexuality, it paradoxically builds even more forcefully on the simi­ larly heterosexist assumption of a duality of the sexes: even though they are both present in each individual, the two sexual “principles” M and F are all the more ineluctably referred to one another. If a “man” loves other men, this is because he is “really” or “typically” not a man at all, but rather a woman (he has more F than M). There simply is no way for F to be referred to a complementary F; F is always ~M. This is because for Weininger perceptible sexual difference is epiphenomenal, to the point that it seems entirely unmoored from the actual admixture of M and F in the individual. Since M and F are unevenly distributed throughout the or­ ganism, the world decides on masculinity and femininity on a limited and limiting sample, which may or may not reflect the actual ratio of M and F in the organism as a whole. While primarily concerned with sexuality, Weininger’s book also of­ fers a theory of marriage, one that in many respects hearkens back to Schopenhauer. Weininger opens his account of the “problem of marriage” by returning once more to Goethe’s notion of an “elective affinity”—like Schopenhauer’s, then, his theory of marriage is concerned with object choice rather than the etiology of sexual attraction itself. Weininger fol­ lows Schopenhauer and Nietzsche in suggesting that marriage is precisely about stabilizing the admixture of “characters” in the married couple’s potential children. Specifically, however, he is concerned with the parents’ sexual character, that is to say, the distribution of M and F in the married couple. Just as Nietzsche claims that “the unresolved dissonances between the characters and dispositions of the parents continue to resound in the nature of the child and constitute the history of his inner suffering,”47 Weininger asserts that the child’s happiness depends on the sexual com­ patibility of his or her parents. What is interesting is that Weininger can no longer claim that this is true because of the unification of the parents: as product, in other words, the child is indeed one of those Aristophanic superbeings, containing one perfect man and one perfect woman. How exactly the admixture of M and F is passed on to the filial generation is never fully explained. Because of the infinite gradation in the distribution of M and F in dif­ ferent individuals, there are more or less perfect fits between such indi­ viduals — and monogamy is preferable to “free love” ( freie Liebe) “on biological grounds,” because we have to assume that for any one person



there is likely to be only one perfect complement.48 What Weininger means is not that each person needs to remain with the one he or she weds, but rather that “biology” (at least his highly idiosyncratic version of it) teaches us that there is no more than one perfect match for each person — something like Bachofen’s heterism is therefore likely to re­ sult in degeneration. For “the strongest and healthiest offspring results from relationships [Verbindungen] in which the mutual sexual attraction is particularly strong.”49 As in Schopenhauer, this notion suggests that marriages determined by economic or dynastic interests can only remain barren or produce degenerate spawn (Weininger notoriously singles out Jewish marriage brokers); only through love (which is identical to sexual attraction) can marriage produce, in Nietzsche’s words, “the one who is more than those who created it.”50

Sexual Mysticism and the Closed Life: Alfred Schuler Drawing on Weininger’s sexual metaphysics and fusing it with the recently “rediscovered” Bachofen, the thinkers, bohemians, and mystics grouped around the poet Stefan George developed a unique and eclectic set of theories of sexuality. The members of the so-called cosmic circle (Kosmikerkreis) and George circle (­George-Kreis) partly overlapped in per­ sonnel, but their appropriations and elaborations of the tradition of sexual metaphysics varied widely. For instance, Weininger’s thought entered the group’s thinking through the Catholic mystic Ludwig Derleth, who dreamed of an all-male monastic order.51 The rediscovery of Bachofen, on the other hand, is tied to “the highly peculiar figure of Alfred Schuler.”52 Schuler, mystagogue extraordinaire, a “bizarre eccentric”53 according to Rilke, “wrote practically nothing,” as Benjamin put it, but “was regarded in George’s circle as an oracular authority”54 until he left the circle in a fit of pique. In the words of the philosopher Theodor Lessing, “there was nothing classical or religious for him which did not have some connection with Eros.” Schuler’s philosophy, Lessing claimed, emerged in its entirety “from a homo-erotic attitude, something feminine and atavistic, which was only interested in masculine strength.”55 Schuler’s influences are relatively unclear and extremely varied. While there is no indication that he read Hegel, Fichte, or even Kant, he certainly knew one of the central protagonists of the Idealist metaphysics of mar­ riage—in one of his lectures, he recommended “the Bavarian philosopher Baader”56 to his listeners. It is clear that he had read Nietzsche, was a dev­

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otee of Bachofen, and introduced his friend Ludwig Klages to the concept of the mother right.57 At its most succinct, Schuler’s neopaganism con­ demns marriage as “a sign [Signum] of the closed life.”58 What he means by “closed life” gives us a sense of the extent of his debt to Bachofen’s Mutterrecht. In Schuler’s history of sexuality, a paradisiacal open life is destroyed by the diremption of masculine and feminine principles. Since it is masculine to dominate and feminine to be dominated, power relations first emerge only with this diremption—and the chronicle of these power relations constitutes what we think of as history (or even “evolution,” in Schuler’s post-Darwinian parlance). In a move very much in tune with Friedrich Engels’s treatise The Origin of the Family, Schuler pushes this story into the anthropological realm. He claims that hermaphroditism is a historic occurrence, that primordial man was in fact both man and woman or had male and female “poles.” Prior to some historical lapse the indi­ vidual consisted of a “harmonic imbrication [Ineinander]” of the sexes. This imbrication is ruptured when the sexes divide along lines roughly analogous to the Fichtian dichotomization of male and female: mankind splits into a dominating principle (though Schuler dubs it “will” rather than “I”) and the brute substance to be dominated. Whereas the “open life” was characterized by the absence of institu­ tions—be those religion, private property, or marriage—the “closed life” corresponds surprisingly closely to the critical portrayals of bourgeois modernity employed in the early historical speculations of Hegel and Hölderlin. Here, then, the (masculine) I that dominates the Not-I is re­ configured as an evolutionary subduing, the victimization of one part of the original dyad by the other — a principle of domination understood historically as “Yahwe-Cronos-Moloch.”59 The influence of Nietzsche can be felt quite clearly in this reconceptualization of the marital dyad— de­ termination (Bestimmung) has given way to domination (Herrschaft), although Nietzsche’s valuations have been transvalued once more. Schuler thus fundamentally rethinks the doctrine of the autonomy of marriage while recognizing it; marriage, like the closed life in general, is an alldominating, independent principle, but it is an evil force that spontane­ ously (that is, without outside causes) gradually enslaved humanity. And, just as marital autonomy for Hegel, Hölderlin, and Novalis had ramifica­ tions far beyond the familial and erotic spheres, marital closure comes to dominate all aspects of human life as “Yahwe-Cronos-Moloch.” Sexuality is implicit in much of, say, Hegel’s and Hölderlin’s thought on the opposition of antiquity and modernity. In Schuler, there is nothing implicit about the role of sexuality. For Schuler, the golden age was not



merely more harmonious, more unified socially, but literally hermaph­ roditic. The father right played no role because the father played no role—hermaphroditic mothers reproduced autonomously, without male input, and their offspring was similarly androgynous. “The self-fertilizing mother begets a child that accords with her essence and is itself hermaph­ roditic.”60 Like Bachofen, Schuler is only too ready to trace this primor­ dial androgyny in later religions (above all of course in the figure of the virgin and child), but he also postulates “sun children” (Sonnenkinder) who recapture the lost original androgyny in a historical time that has as its precondition the absence of that androgyny. As such, they tend to be tragic figures—Schuler’s examples range from the Roman emperor Nero to mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Schuler seizes the very contradiction the metaphysics of marriage of “complete unification” were forced to confront in their various guises and iterations. If we are philosophically committed to understanding the existence of sexed individuals (and thus the sexual relationship) as the result of a fall from some kind of primordial androgyny (Schuler speaks of an “original hermaphroditism” [urtümlicher Hermaphroditismus]), then the powers of redress allotted to the love relation offer but mea­ ger comforts when measured against the scandal of sexual difference. For Schuler, there is nothing in marriage that might return us to the lost androgynous unity — the magic bullet of intellectual intuition, love, or unification in Umarmung will no longer do. Oneness can be reattained only in and through the unsexed individual, through the transcendence of sexuation in general. Schuler’s utopia, in other words, is the utopia of the product—and accordingly, he pins his hopes no longer on forms of intersubjectivity (i.e., love) that would gradually restore to humanity some of its unalienated oneness but rather on the messianic irruption of fully formed spiritual hermaphrodites. By the time Schuler, Klages, and George set out to elaborate their metaphysics of love, the approach had something self-consciously anach­ ronistic about it. As Schuler and George luxuriated in a metaphysics of same-sex love, psychoanalysis was deconstructing the very possibility of such love, same-sex or not. While the story of a political theory of love does not end with the Munich mystics, the sexual mystics that followed by and large ceased to draw on the writings that had emerged from the heady days in Jena, Berlin, and Frankfurt at the turn of the nineteenth century. Schuler had read Baader, and it is quite likely that he knew Schelling’s works. George, as his biographer has suggested, more than likely knew

marriage after metaphysics


even his Bachofen only secondhand.61 By Schuler’s time the metaphysical theories of sexuality offered by the German Idealists and Romantics had ceased to be metaphysics of marriage at all. That metaphysics had after all consisted in a radical attempt at redefining what a marriage might mean, to equate it with the love relationship without thereby robbing it of its civic and political ramifications. The metaphysics of marriage had made the private political. By the turn of the twentieth century, this idea had split asunder. Either theorists of marriage followed Byron’s remark (reported by Kierkegaard) that love was heaven, marriage hell, thereby consigning marital bliss once again to a private position explicitly opposed to the po­ litical;62 or they (like Schuler) held that love had political efficacy only if it proceeded outside of marriage, be it in homoerotic relationships or in a kind of revolutionary free love. It is only the dawning twenty-first century, it seems, that has rediscovered the explosive potential of marriage. Per­ haps the time is right for a marital metaphysics once again.

The Product and the Civil Union In his Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Hegel turns to the family as the royal road into a kind of sociality that would not be exhausted by contractual relationships (what Hegel terms “Abstract Law”), by personal morality, or even (as Hegel makes clear later in the same tome) by an individual’s civil relationships or commitments. Hegel distinguishes his view of marriage from two conflicting models: on the one hand Kant’s conception of marriage as a primarily contractual relationship and on the other the Romantic vision of Lucinde—marriage as entirely opposed to contract, yes, as the anticontractual par excellence. The distinction from Kant outlines what factors served to make marriage an “uncivil union” for the thinkers of German Romanticism and Idealism; the opposition to Schlegel outlines a disagreement about how exactly marriage is “uncivil.” We have traced both of these oppositions throughout this study: one as an opposition to Enlightenment theories guided by teleology, atomism, and contractual relation; the other as a debate over whether marriage’s “product” is significant and how it relates to those who produced it. For Hegel, love and marriage must be distinct; the ritual, legal, and linguistic character of the relation is an essential part of it. Marriage is the way in which feeling becomes sittlich, referred to a wider social horizon—in fact, it is the central mystery of love that it can transform feeling into politics.



What makes the debate that Hegel here rehearses in its outlines (and that was long over by the time he wrote the Elements) compelling to the present moment is that both the distinctions Hegel makes here raise themselves with renewed force in the early twenty-first century, as West­ ern liberal democracies once again debate the “meaning” of marriage. The suggestion that there is a “plus-x” that elevates the marital relation above the merely contractual is of course central to the debate over “al­ ternative” family structures, be they gay marriage, civil unions, or pactes civiles de solidarité (PaCS). Again and again, debates over these terms have relied on an opposition very much like Hegel’s: for the rhetoricians of the “sanctity” of marriage, just as for Hegel, marriage is nothing short of a paradigm of sociability that exceeds the contract and state interest—it is a matter of patriotism, of family, of piety. Marriage is an autonomous institution (of Reason, Hegel would say); the civil union is an instrument of the “state of the understanding,” simply a “contract” for the “mutual use” of each other’s bodies, not the “complete unification” into one per­ son. Heterosexuals get to bask in the warm glow of Hegel, while gays and lesbians get stuck with musty old Kant. Here, then, the Romantic insis­ tence on the “uncivil” nature of marriage provides a compelling case for what exactly is lost in “all-but-marriage” arrangements advocated in the present debates. But the second distinction Hegel makes with respect to the family has made a return as well, and this distinction concerns the ways in which marriage can be said to be uncivil. This distinction concerns the question of the product of the uncivil union: does that product exist only in and through the emotions of the lovers (as Fichte and Schlegel thought), or is that product a semi-autonomous third thing, susceptible to recuperation by the institutions of civil society? For much of the twentieth century, in the wake of Freud and the sexual revolution, the institutional recalcitrance of the union, the fact that it could contravene and constrain desire, was thought as a feature of bourgeois Enlightenment, the interior corollary to the domination of nature. Bourgeois modernity turned the principle of domination identified by thinkers like Schuler inward. So ingrained is this line of thinking in the DNA of what we today call “theory” that many practitioners have found it exceedingly difficult to account for a strange turn of political events in the last decade of the twentieth century: gay people, long the ultimate guardians of sexual dissidence, began, for better or for worse, to found institutions. This is why the question of the product represents a compelling legacy of a Romantic discourse of marriage that otherwise twenty-first century

marriage after metaphysics


Americans would regard as rather incomprehensible and exotic. For para­ doxically what makes marriage so potent and politically explosive today is precisely its codification, its relative rigidity. Marriage is necessarily a rather firm and inflexible structure over an ever-shifting emotional sub­ structure. Acknowledging the existence, the legitimacy, or even the worth of same-sex attraction is one thing; same-sex marriage is something quite different. It delivers queerness into the stratosphere of other structures by which individuals commit themselves to attachments that may well outlast their emotional investments in them—religious commitment, citizenship, community membership. (The fact that until 2011 gays could not commit themselves to several years’ service in the U.S. military points in a similar direction.) Such instances of chosen heteronomy thus allow for notions of queer citizenship, queer biography, queer dynasticity in ways that love does not. Love is episodic, hidden, private; commitments are public, political, they have ramifications and inaugurate traditions of their own. In a culture that often enough (at least implicitly) regards homosexuality as a “phase” that will come to a close (and to rest) in the safe haven of heterosexu­ ality, once the right opposite-sex partner has come along, the structural rigidity of marriage becomes paradoxically a tool of political emanci­ pation. Similarly, the pervasive fear of cultural conservatives that gays might breed other gays entails, at least to some extent, a terror over gay dynasties that transmit wealth, convention, influence from queer gener­ ation to generation. This is the same as to say: marriage is progressive where it is uncanny, because it insists on something that endures even as the tectonics of human desire may shift. Why uncanny? Because as Hegel clearly saw in describing the family as a “middle,” in marriage feelings, decisions, commitments may face us that are recognizably our own and at the same time come to seem to us twisted and transformed, estranged from our present feelings, existing like an alien “third thing” between the partners. This third thing that endures doesn’t exist in love. The contemporary recognition that queer relationships may endure even as the queer feelings that gave rise to them do not is simply the most recent such mobilization of the third term. As this chapter has made clear, the nineteenth century saw this and came to either celebrate or condemn that third term—be this as the unified marital couple, the child, the com­ munity, or some uncanny product. This put them in contention with the opposing vision—that of a perfectly unambivalent, perfectly canny union, in which there was no third term, or at least no third term markedly differ­ ent from those united. Whether that third term had existence autonomous



of the terms unified therein became a central question as fictions and fantasies of remainderless unification became inflationary, as nation, com­ munity, race, and class all dreamed their all-encompassing unity and their all-encompassing difference from outsiders. As a consequence, such vi­ sions of unification underwent a dramatic reversal of fortune. In the early nineteenth century, such fantasies sought to critique the tottering remains of the absolutist state and the bourgeois life forms that flourished in their shadow; they pointed to a kind of politics that produced organic forms of life under conditions of modernity. By the time Germany quite actually came together “as one” in the de­ feat of Napoleon, egged on by Fichte and distrustfully eyed by the aging cosmopolitan Goethe, such politics of unification had undergone a sea change. Instead of celebrating an antibourgeois organic unification, they held up unification as something absolutely terrifying. Doppelganger, ghost child, monster so prevalent in the work of E. T. A. Hoffmann be­ came the uncanny flip side of the metaphysical marriages celebrated by the early Romantics. While the latter insisted that the unification of marital partners preserved their difference within the unified monad, which precisely made it a utopian figure, in the hands of their later breth­ ren such unions tended to coalesce into discrete and inextricable units, horrifying amalgams. As family, nation, and the private sphere turned from potentially revolutionary categories to categories of political repres­ sion after the Congress of Vienna, poets and philosophers increasingly discovered the demonic that lurked at the heart of these categories. If the kind of unification supposedly effected by marriage had become a matter of either profound uncanniness or cloying, retrograde sentimentality in the politically repressive 1820s, that status should not obscure the fact that the first generation of Romantic thinkers in Germany had deployed the same thought figure with expressly political and even revolutionary ends in mind. As this study has shown, this vision has a history and an afterlife of its own, both of which extend to the present moment. In recent years, the lionization of the institution’s uncanny underbelly as an index of political progress has left many gay rights advocates, in particular on the left, un­ impressed. After all, they argue, queer love was supposed to mean loving differently. To allow gay people to, as the old joke runs, “be as unhappy as everybody else” by delivering them into that most uncanny institution of marriage seems to them to shy away from a lived, implicit critique in favor of an identification with the aggressor. Queer love ought not to be

marriage after metaphysics


assimilated or normalized; gay sexuality is not to be ushered into the safe harbor of marriage. The young protagonists of Jena Romanticism would have agreed with this instinct, if not with its terms. Marriage was for them authentic only insofar as it eschewed its institutional character in favor of complete identity with the feelings it expressed. But those same pro­ tagonists came to realize, as they relinquished or at least rethought the philosophical positions of their youth, that at least part of what had made marriage so compelling to them—its autonomy from custom, the way it allowed the free individual to nevertheless serve a broader structure— pointed toward what Hegel calls the “divine law” of the family: the fact that it produces commitments that exceed amorous attachment and may come to seem alien to those who have committed themselves in this way. Commitments that require explanations, produce contracts, generate nar­ ratives, institute dynasties.

Abbreviations and Frequently Used Short Titles Baader, Sämmtliche Werke

Franz von Baader, Sämmtliche Werke, ed. Franz Hoffmann (Leipzig: Bethmann, 1850–60).

Fichte, GWL

Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Foundations of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre (Grundlage der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre).

Fichte, Werke

Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Werke, ed. I. H. Fichte (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1971).

Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner)

G. W. F. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke, ed. Hartmut Buchner and Otto Pöggeler (Hamburg: Meiner, 1968–).

Hegel, Werke (Suhrkamp)

G. W. F. Hegel, Werke (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1970–86).

Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt)

Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke, ed. Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann and Norbert Miller (Frankfurt: Zweitausendeins, 1996).

Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Munich)

Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke, ed. Norbert Miller (Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1959–).

Kant, AA

Immanuel Kant, Akademieausgabe (Berlin: Reimer/de Gruyter, 1900–).

Kant, MoM

Immanuel Kant, Metaphysics of Morals.

Nietzsche, Werke

Friedrich Nietzsche, Werke in drei Bänden, ed. Karl Schechta (Munich: Carl Hanser, 1954).



Novalis, HKA

Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis), Schriften (Historisch Kritische Ausgabe), ed. Paul Kluckhohn and Richard Samuel (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1960–61).

Schlegel, KA

Friedrich Schlegel, Kritische FriedrichSchlegel Ausgabe, ed. Ernst Behler (Munich/Paderborn: Schöningh, 1958–2006).

Schleiermacher, KGA

F. D. E. Schleiermacher, Kritische Gesamtausgabe, ed. Hermann Fischer, Ulrich Barth, Konrad Cramer, Günter Meckenstock, and Kurt-Victor Selge (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1984–).

Notes Introduction 1. Søren Kierkegaard, Stages on Life’s Way, trans. Walter Lowrie (New York: Schocken, 1967), 90. 2. Theodor W. Adorno, Kierkegaard: Die Konstruktion des Ästhetischen, Gesam­ melte Schriften, ed. Rolf Tiedemann and Gretel Adorno (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2003 ), 2: 25ff. 3. Friedrich Nietzsche, Menschliches, Allzumenschliches, in Friedrich Nietzsche: Werke in drei Bänden, ed. Karl Schechta (Munich: Carl Hanser, 1954), 1: 662; Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 159 (no. 433): “Tatsächlich trieb ihn Xantippe in seinen eigentümlichen Beruf immer mehr hinein, indem sie ihm Haus und Heim unhäuslich und unheimlich machte.” 4. Kierkegaard, Stages on Life’s Way, 74. 5. G. W. F. Hegel, “Ueber die wissenschaftliche Behandlungs des Naturrechts,” in Gesammelte Werke, ed. Hartmut Buchner and Otto Pöggeler (Hamburg: Meiner, 1968–), 4: 417. All translations from Hegel’s Gesammelte Werke are my own, unless otherwise noted. 6. Ibid., 4: 418 7. Immanuel Kant, Metaphysik der Sitten, Akademieausgabe (AA) (Berlin: Reimer/de Gruyter, 1900–), 6: 216 (all citations from this edition): “System der Erkenntnis a priori aus blossen Begriffen.” All translations from the Metaphysics of Morals (MoM) follow the Cambridge edition of Kant’s works: Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy, trans. Mary J. Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). 8. Ibid., 6: 217: “Eine Metaphysik der Sitten kann nicht auf Anthropologie gegründet, aber doch auf sie angewandt werden.” Gregor, 376. 9. Theodor Gottlieb Hippel, Ueber die bürgerliche Verbesserung der Weiber (Berlin: Vossische Buchhandlung, 1792), 39–40.


notes to pages 6–18

10. Carl Schmitt, Politische Romantik (Munich: Duncker & Humblot, 1919), 110: “Man kann bei jedem Romantiker Beispiele eines anarchistischen Selbstgefühls und eines exzessiven Geselligkeitsbedürfnisses finden.” 11. Adolf Trendelenburg, “Friedrich der Grosse und sein Grosskanzler Samuel von Cocceji,” Kleinere Schriften 1 (Leipzig: Hirzel, 1871), 204. 12. Code Napoleon, or, The French Civil Code (London: Benning, 1827), 20–22. 13. Agnès Walch, L’histoire du couple en France (Rennes: Ouest-France, 2003), 150. 14. Allen W. Wood. Hegel’s Ethical Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 243. 15. Penny A. Weiss, Gendered Community: Rousseau, Sex, and Politics (New York: New York University Press, 1993). 16. Ricarda Huch, “Die Romantische Ehe,” Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 6 (Berlin: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1969), 820. 17. Franz von Baader, Sämmtliche Werke, ed. Franz Hoffmann (Leipzig: Bethmann, 1850–60), 5: 340: “Firma Hans Stein & Comp.” 18. Huch, “Die Romantische Ehe,” 822. 19. Ibid., 825. 20. G. W. F. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 14.1: 148 (§164). 21. Huch, “Die Romantische Ehe,” 824 22. Manfred Frank, “Unendliche Annäherung”—Die Anfänge der philoso­ phischen Frühromantik (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1997), 430. 23. AA 6: 277; Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, 427. 24. Samuel Pufendorf, Of the Law of Nature and Nations—Eight Books (London: Walthoe, Wilkin, Bonwicke, 1729), 570. 25. Ibid., 567. 26. Ibid., 570. 27. Christian Wolff, Grundsätze des Natur- und Völkerrechts: Worin alle Verbindlichkeiten und alle Rechte aus der Natur des Menschen in einem beständigen Zusammenhange hergeleitet werden (Halle: Renger, 1769), 620 (§858). 28. Johann Christoph Gottsched, Erste Gründe der gesammten Weltweisheit, Praktischer Theil (Leipzig: Breitkopf, 1762), 166 (§318). 29. Johann Gottfried Herder, Werke, ed. Wolfgang Proß (Munich: Hanser, 1984–87), 1: 455. 30. Johann Georg Hamann, Versuch einer Sibylle über die Ehe, in Hamann’s Schriften, ed. Friedrich Roth (Berlin: Reimer, 1823), 4:231. 31. Johann Georg Hamann, Hamann’s Schriften (Berlin: Reimer, 1820), 2: 27. 32. Theodor Gottlieb Hippel, Über die Ehe (Berlin: Voß, 1774), 47–51. 33. Ibid., 74. 34. Hippel, Ueber die bürgerliche Verbesserung der Weiber, 75.

notes to pages 19–25


35. Paul Henri Thiry, Baron Holbach, The System of Nature, or, The Laws of the Moral and Physical World (London: William Hodgson, 1796), 2: 577. 36. Johann Georg Heinrich Feder, Grundlehre zur Kenntnis des Menschlichen Willens und der natürlichen Gesetze des Rechtsverhaltens (Göttingen: Dieterich, 1789), 144. 37. Walter Benjamin, “Goethe’s Elective Affinities,” Selected Writings: 1913–1926 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996), 302; Walter Benjamin, “Goethes Wahlverwandtschaften,” in Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Rolf Tiedemann and Hermann Schweppenhäuser (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1972), 131. 38. Friedrich Schiller, Über die Ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen, in einer Reihe von Briefen, in Schillers Werke: Nationalausgabe, ed. Benno von Wiese (Weimar: Böhlau, 1962), 20: 333: “Von allem, was positiv ist und was menschliche Konventionen einführen, ist die Kunst wie die Wissenschaft losgesprochen.” See also David Pugh, Dialectic of Love: Platonism in Schiller’s Aesthetics (Montreal: McGill Queen’s, 1997), 290. 39. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, The Foundations of Natural Right, according to the Principles of the Wissenschaftslehre, ed. Frederick Neuhouser, trans. Michael Baur (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 274. 40. A. Stoll, Friedrich Karl von Savigny. Ein Bild seines Lebens mit einer Samm­ lung seiner Briefe, vol. 1: Der Junge Savigny (Berlin: Heymann, 1927), 70: “Jezt wo den alten Formen allgemeine Zerstörung droht, ist es nöthiger als je, einen Standpunct zu suchen, der, unabhängig von dem positiven und conventionellen, in uns gegründet ist.” 41. Sophie Mereau, Blüthenalter der Empfindung (Stuttgart: Akademischer Verlag, 1981), 97–98: “Zwei freie Wesen schließen den Bund, gemeinschaftlich zu wirken, gemeinschaftlich Gutes zu thun, gemeinschaftlich zu leiden. Unser Bund besteht durch eigne Kraft. Nicht die zerbrechlichen Stüzzen von priesterlichem Seegen, von bürgerlicher Ehre, von kränkelnder Gewissenhaftigkeit halten ihn. Wir selbst sind uns Bürge für uns selbst.” 42. Erich Fuchs, ed., Fichte im Gespräch: Berichte der Zeitgenossen (Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog, 1992), 6.1: 280: “Wie man doch über seine philosophischen Speculationen allen gesunden Menschenverstand verlieren kann!” 43. Pufendorf, Of the Law of Nature and Nations—Eight Books, 570. 44. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 14.1: 151 (§172). 45. Karl Ameriks, Kant and the Fate of Autonomy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). 46. Andreas Arndt, “Die Subjektivität des Begriffs,” in Hegels Lehre vom Beg­ riff, Urteil und Schluss (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2006), 14f. 47. Karl Rosenkranz, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s Leben (Berlin: Duncker und Humblot, 1844), 259. 48. Roderick Phillips, Putting Asunder—A History of Divorce in Western Soci­ ety (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 159.


notes to pages 26–61

49. Charles Armstrong, Romantic Organicism: From Idealist Origins to Am­ bivalent Afterlife (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003). 50. AA 5: 374; Critique of the Power of Judgment, trans. Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 246. 51. Helmut von den Steinen, “Stefan George—Das Werk, Das Leben, Der Dämon,” Castrum Peregrini 134–35 (1978): 47. 52. F. D. E. Schleiermacher, “Versuch einer Theorie des geselligen Betragens (1799),” in Schriften aus der Berliner Zeit, Kritische Gesamtausgabe (KGA), ed. Hermann Fischer, Ulrich Barth, Konrad Cramer, Günter Meckenstock, and KurtVictor Selge (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1984–), 1.2: 174. 53. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Das System der Sittenlehre nach den Prinzipien der Wissenschaftslehre (Hamburg: Meiner, 2000), 328; Johann Gottlieb Fichte, The System of Ethics, trans. Günther Zöller and Daniel Breazeale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 313: “Im bloßen Begriffe der Liebe ist der der Ehe . . . enthalten.” 54. Friedrich Schlegel. “Fragmente zur Poesie und Literatur,” 10.87, Kritische Friedrich-Schlegel Ausgabe (KA), ed. Ernst Behler, vol. 16 (Munich/Paderborn: Schöningh, 1958–2006): “Liebe und Ehe sind verschieden, aber vollendete Liebe geht in Ehe über und so umgekehrt.” 55. See Niklas Luhmann. Liebe als Passion —Zur Codierung von Intimität (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2003). 56. Georg Forster, Briefwechsel mit Samuel Thomas von Soemmering (Braunschweig: Vieweg, 1877), 253. 57. Reproduced in Ludwig Geiger, “Aus Therese Hubers Herzensleben,” Wes­ termanns Monatshefte, no. 94 (1903): 679. 58. Nietzsche, Morgenröte, in Werke, 1: 1033: “Die Institution der Ehe hält hartnäckig den Glauben aufrecht, daß die Liebe, obschon eine Leidenschaft, doch als solche der Dauer fähig sei, ja daß die dauerhafte lebenslängliche Liebe als Regel aufgestellt werden könne” (no. 27). 59. Achim von Arnim, Sämtliche Romane und Erzählungen (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1965), 1: 158: “Eine glückliche Ehe vergleich ich dem Pendel der Uhren, / Der aus verschiednem Metall schön im Verhältnis gefügt, / Wenn es im Innern auch spannt in ewigen Wechsel der Wärme, / Nimmer von außen es zeigt, nimmer verwirret die Uhr.” 60. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, Part I, trans. Walter Arndt (New York: Norton, 2001), 83; Faust. Der Tragödie erster Teil (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1999), 98: “Dann wird von ewiger Treu’ und Liebe, / Von einzig überallmächt’gem Triebe— / Wird das auch so von Herzen gehn?” 61. Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra, in Werke 2: 332; Thus Spoke Zarathus­ tra, trans. Adrian del Caro (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 52: “Ehe: so heiße ich den Willen zu zweien, das Eine zu schaffen, das mehr ist, als die es schufen.”

notes to pages 37–42


Chapter One 1. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, “Zurückforderung der Denkfreiheit von den Fürsten Europens, die sie bisher unterdrückten,” in Werke, ed. I. H. Fichte (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1971), 6: 3–35; Fichte, Beiträge zur Berichtigung der Urteile des Publi­ kums über die Französische Revolution, in ibid., 6: 39–288. 2. J. G. Fichte, Grundlage des Naturrechts nach Principien der Wissenschaft­ slehre, in Werke, 3: 304: “moralische Gesellschaft.” 3. Ibid., 3: 315: “die ihr eigener Zweck ist.” 4. Cf. Georg Lukács, Der Junge Hegel (Berlin: Luchterhand, 1967), 52–67. 5. Bärbel Frischmann, “Fichte’s Theory of Gender Relations in His Founda­ tions of Natural Right,” in Rights Bodies and Recognition—New Essays on Fichte’s Foundations of Natural Right, ed. Tom Rockmore and Daniel Breazeale (London: Ashgate 2006), 152–65. 6. Genevieve Lloyd, The Man of Reason —“Male” and “Female” in Western Philosophy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 10; on Anselm and Aquinas, see Alcuin Blamires, ed., Woman Defamed and Woman Defended (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 46–47. 7. Sylviane Agacinski, La métaphysique des sexes (Paris: Seuil, 2005), 7. 8. It is important to note that the relationship between the senses and the understanding is for Kant not a strictu sensu anthropological problem. Since it concerns the constitution of a possible experience of any rational being, it is rather a metaphysical one, as Kant himself makes clear. Immanuel Kant, Anthropologie, in Schriften zur Anthropologie, Geschichtsphilosophie, Politik und Pädagogik, vol. 2, ed. Wilhelm Weischedel (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1977), 432 (A31/B30). 9. Sinnlichkeit is usually rendered as “sensuousness” in English translations of Kant, partly to avoid the erotic valence of “sensuality.” Since, as I will argue, Kant openly toys with this valence in his “apologia,” I have decided to depart from traditional usage and employ the word “sensuality.” 10. Kant, Anthropologie, 432 (A31/B30). 11. Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Paul Guyer and Allen Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), A51/B75. 12. Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialektik, in Gesammelte Schriften, 6: 384. 13. MoM, 62; AA 6: 277. 14. MoM, §24 (AA 6: 278). “Der Zweck, Kinder zu erzeugen und zu erziehen mag immer ein Zweck der Natur sein, zu welchem sie die Neigung der Geschlechter gegeneinander einpflanzte; aber daß der Mensch, der sich verehelicht, diesen Zweck sich vorsetzen müsse, wird zur Rechtmäßigkeit nicht erfordert; denn sonst würde, wenn das Kinderzeugen aufhört, die Ehe sich zugleich von selber auflösen.” Gregor, 426. 15. The third section of Kant’s early work Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen (1764; AA 2: 228–43) also provides an ontological account


notes to pages 42–46

of sexual difference (Geschlechtscharakter), but he develops this account inductively from empirical observations of men and women, rather than from a metaphysical starting point (AA 2: 230). See also Susan Meld Shell, The Embodiment of Reason: Kant on Spirit, Generation, and Community (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 87–90. 16. Kant, Anthropologie, 648 (A285/B283). 17. Ibid., 649 (A286/B284). 18. Ibid., 654 (A292/B290). 19. On Fichte’s monism, see Christian Iber, Vernunft, Subjektivität und ihre Kritik (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1999), 42; Rolf-Peter Horstmann, Die Grenzen der Vernunft—Eine Untersuchung zu den Zielen und Motiven des deutschen Idealismus (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 2004). 20. Henry E. Allison, Idealism and Freedom: Essays on Kant’s Theoretical and Practical Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 6. 21. In the following passage, I rely on two articles by Peter Thielke: “Getting Maimon’s Goad—Discursivity, Skepticism, and Fichte’s Idealism,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 39, no. 1 (January 2001): 101–34; “Intuition and Diversity: Kant and Maimon on Space and Time,” in Salomon Maimon: Rational Dogmatist, Empirical Skeptic, ed. Gideon Freudenthal (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2003), 89. 22. Fichte, Grundlage der Gesammten Wissenschaftslehre (henceforth GWL), in Werke, 1: 123–25. The English translations (unless otherwise indicated) follow J. G. Fichte, Foundations of Natural Right, according to the Principles of the Wis­ senschaftslehre, ed. Frederick Neuhouser, trans. Michael Baur (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). 23. “Die Ehe ist gar nicht bloß eine juridische Gesellschaft, wie etwa der Staat; sie ist eine natürliche und moralische Gesellschaft.” 24. Of course, Kant has varying pictures of metaphysics throughout his career. In the period that is of interest here (after the 1786 Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science), when Kant speaks of metaphysics, he means pure determinations of reason plus certain empirical facts. This in fact makes the transition to Fichte’s metaphysical account of sexual difference all the more striking: for the MoM does not number the existence and the relationship of the two sexes among its universal empirical presuppositions— even though embodiment in general is certainly one of them. It is not the sexes, then, that function as an empirical assumption that needs to guide our metaphysical deduction, but rather (as becomes exceedingly clear in Kant’s tortuous discussions of masturbation) our tendency as embodied creatures to treat ourselves or others as objects in the pursuit of sexuality. See Howard Caygill, A Kant Dictionary (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995), 291–94. 25. Kant, MoM, §24 (AA 6: 277): “nach den Rechtsgesetzen der reinen Vernunft.” Gregor, 427. 26. Kant, MoM, §25 (AA 6: 628). 27. Kant, AA 4: 429: “Handle so, daß du die Menschheit sowohl in deiner

notes to pages 46–50


Person, als in der Person eines jeden andern jederzeit zugleich als Zweck, niemals bloß als Mittel brauchst.” Gregor, 79. 28. See for instance Fichte’s discussion of adultery: Fichte, Grundlage des Natur­ rechts, 328 (§19); Foundations of Natural Right, 284. 29. Fichte, Grundlage des Naturrechts, 305: “Der Charakter der Vernunft ist absolute Selbstthätigkeit: bloßes Leiden um des Leidens willen widerspricht der Vernunft und hebt sie gänzlich auf.” 30. Ibid., 307: “Es ist sonach gar nicht gegen die Vernunft, daß das erste Geschlecht die Befriedigung seines Geschlechtstriebes als Zweck vorsetze, da er durch Thätigkeit befriedigt werden kann.” 31. Daniel Morrison, “Women, Family, and State In Fichte’s Philosophy of Freedom,” in Daniel Breazeale and Tom Rockmore, New Perspectives on Fichte (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1996), 182. 32. While I will not delve further into the precise systematic architecture of this point, it is necessary to note that great importance attaches to whether the active/ passive dyad is imported from the theory of consciousness (the Wissenschaftslehre as a whole) or from the theoretical part of the Wissenschaftslehre. Since Fichte insists on the “primacy of the practical,” the latter move would in fact be illicit in his overall systematic scheme. 33. GWL, 123. 34. Fichte, GWL 128: “Das Ich setzt sich, als bestimmt durch das Nicht-Ich.” 35. Immanuel Kant, Kritik der Reinen Vernunft, AA B131; Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Paul Guyer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 246. 36. Fichte, GWL 133. 37. Marion Heinz, Friederike Kuster, “ ‘Vollkommene Vereinigung’—Fichtes Eherecht in der Perspektive der feministischen Philosophie,” Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 46, no. 5 (1998): 823–40. 38. Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, Erster Entwurf des Systems einer Naturphilosophie, in Schellings Werke, ed. Manfred Schröter (Munich: Beck, 1927), 2: 17–53. 39. This opposition has of course a long tradition: book 5 of Rousseau’s Émile, for instance, distinguishes “characteristics of the species” and “characteristics of sex.” These “differences of sex” are physical and moral at once—men express their character by being strong and active, women by being weak and passive. JeanJacques Rousseau, Émile, or On Education, trans. Allan Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 357) Of course, it is important to note that Rousseau’s argument is once again anthropological rather than metaphysical and that woman’s passivity has for Rousseau the status of a presupposition, whereas for Fichte the lack of dignity that characterizes the “woman question” is actually a consequence of a metaphysical point imported from the Wissenschaftslehre. 40. Aristotle, Metaphysics, 988al. On the connection between Fichte’s view and


notes to pages 50–58

those of Aristotle and Aquinas, see Don E. Marietta, The Philosophy of Sexuality (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1996), 14. 41. Aristotle, On the Generation of Animals, 729b. 42. Fichte, Werke, 3: 306; Fichte, Foundations of Natural Right, 266: “von dem zu bildenden Stoffe abgesondert.” 43. Arthur Schopenhauer, “On Women,” Parerga and Paralipomena II (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 614. 44. Kant, MoM, §24 (AA 6: 278). 45. Fichte, Grundlage des Naturrechts, 325; Foundations of Natural Right, 281. 46. Fichte, Grundlage des Naturrechts, 315. 47. This is an argument Penny Weiss has advanced with respect to Rousseau. Gendered Community—Rousseau, Sex, and Politics (New York: New York University Press, 1993), 4–5. 48. On the couple in the Enlightenment, see Dominique Godineau, “The Woman,” in Enlightenment Portraits, ed. Michel Vovelle (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 402. 49. Kant, Anthropologie, 648 (A285/B283). 50. Kant, MoM, 6: 268–69 (§24); Kant, Practical Philosophy, 428. 51. Kant, Anthropologie, 648 (A285/B283). 52. Okin, “Women and the Making of the Sentimental Family,” 72. 53. Fichte, Grundlage des Naturrechts, 304. 54. Ibid., 318. 55. G. W. F. Hegel, Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 7: 317. 56. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 7: 307 (§158f.). 57. Wilhelm von Humboldt, Werke in Fünf Bänden (Berlin /East: Rütten & Loening, 1960), 1: 119: “der Staat über das Verhältniss beider Ehegatten gegen einander . . . gar keine Gesetze zu geben [hat].” See also Sabine Doyé, Marion Heinz, Friderike Kuster, eds., Philosophische Geschlechtertheorien: Ausgewählte Texte von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart (Stuttgart: Reclam, 2002), 276–82; Clemens Menze, Wilhelm von Humboldts Lehre und Bild vom Menschen (Ratingen bei Düsseldorf: A. Henn, 1965), 195–97. 58. Fichte, Grundlage des Naturrechts, 325. 59. Ibid., 337: “anzuerkennen und zu bestätigen.” 60. Ibid., 332. 61. Ibid., 321: “überlasse man es doch den Göttern, die ihnen selbst zugefügten Beleidigungen auch selbst zu rächen.” 62. Ibid., 322. 63. Ibid., 322. 64. Ibid., 353. 65. See for example Susan Meld Shell, “’A Determined Stand’: Freedom and Security in Fichte’s ‘Science of Right,’” Polity 25, no. 1 (1992): 97f. See also Isabel

notes to pages 60–64


V. Hull, Sexuality, State, and Civil Society in Germany, 1700–1815 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), 319f.; Lynn Abrams, “Martyrs or Matriarchs? Working Class Women’s Experience of Marriage in Germany before the First World War,” in The European Women’s History Reader, ed. Fiona Montgomery and Christine Collette (London: Routledge, 2001), 209f. 66. Fichte, Grundlage des Naturrechts, 309. 67. Ibid., 308. 68. Ibid., 311. 69. Ibid., 310. 70. Ibid., 313: “Gegen den Unterworfenen stark zu seyn, ist nur die Sache des Entmannten.” 71. Ibid., 314: “Jeder Theil will seine Persönlichkeit aufgeben, damit die des anderen Theils allein herrsche.” 72. Ibid., 311: “In dieser Denkart des Weibes eine Täuschung erkünsteln und etwa sagen: so ist es denn doch am Ende der Geschlechtstrieb, der nur versteckterweise sie treibt, wäre eine dogmatische Verirrung.” 73. Ibid., 314. 74. Ibid., 314: “sonach die ganze Fülle der Menschheit in sich selbst findet.” 75. Niklas Luhmann, Liebe als Passion (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1990), 159. 76. Hölderlin to Hegel, November 25, 1795, cited in Violetta Waibel, Hölderlin und Fichte, 1794–1800 (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2000), 241. 77. Ruth Drucilla Richardson, The Role of Women in the Life and Thought of the Early Schleiermacher (1768–1806) (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1991), 32. 78. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, “Concerning Human Dignity,” Early Philosophi­ cal Writings, ed. Daniel Breazeale (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993), 83–87. 79. Many have assumed that the text constituted the concluding lecture of Fichte’s Jena privatissimum, of which Mereau was a member. As Daniel Breazeale has convincingly shown, however, Fichte gave this lecture to a similar private gathering initiated by Lavater in Zurich. The vocabulary and overall thrust of the lecture would indicate that the seminar in question (no accounts of which have survived) already found Fichte expounding what was to become the Jena Wissenschaftslehre (Breazeale in Fichte, Early Philosophical Writings, 80). 80. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, “Ueber die Würde des Menschen,” Sämmtliche Werke, 1: 412–16. 81. Ibid., 412: “Die Philosophie lehrt uns alles im Ich aufsuchen. Erst durch das Ich kommt Ordnung und Harmonie in die tote formlose Masse.” 82. Ibid., 413: “Das ist der Mensch, wenn wir ihn bloß als beobachtende Intelligenz ansehen; was ist er erst, wenn wir ihn als praktisch tätiges Vermögen denken!” 83. Ibid., 413: “Er legt nicht nur die notwendige Ordnung in die Dinge; er gibt ihnen auch diejenige, die er sich willkürlich wählte.”


notes to pages 64–75

84. Ibid., 413: “Er ist seinem Dasein nach schlechthin unabhängig von allem, was außer ihm ist; er ist schlechthin durch sich selbst.” 85. Ibid., 413: “Der Mensch gebietet der rohen Materie, sich nach seinem Ideal zu organisieren und ihm den Stoff zu liefern, dessen er bedarf.” 86. Ibid., 415. 87. Ibid. “Das ist der Mensch; das ist jeder, der sich sagen kann: Ich bin Mensch. Sollte er nicht eine heilige Ehrfurcht vor sich selbst tragen und schaudern und erbeben vor seiner eigenen Majestät. Das ist jeder, der mir sagen kann: Ich bin.” Fichte’s obvious play on the divine “I am” will be discussed in more detail in chapter 6. 88. Sophie Mereau-Brentano, Kalathiskos (Heidelberg: L. Schneider, 1968), vol. 2. 89. Rousseau’s Émile does of course offer different paths for men and women, but it does not explicitly link those paths to the just-so story of the state of nature offered in Du contrat social. Both men and women, according to Rousseau, have been endowed with coping mechanisms for dealing with their hybrid nature (sensuous/intellectual), but they have been endowed with different mechanisms: men with “reason,” with which he can “govern [his passions],” women with “modesty” with which she can “constrain” them (Rousseau, Émile, 359). But since that hybrid nature is a problem not only once mankind has “fallen into” culture, as it were, Rousseau never explicitly genders his philosophical history. 90. Sophie Mereau-Brentano, Liebe und allenthalben Liebe (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1996), 3: 180; see also Cf. Dagmar von Gersdorff, Dich zu lieben kann ich nicht verlernen—Das Leben der Sophie Brentano-Mereau (Frankfurt a. M.: Insel, 1984), 64f.: “Als die Menschen aus ihrer glücklichen Einfalt erwacht, und von dem Durst nach Erkenntnis gequält, nun mit den Augen des Verstandes umher sahen, und die schöne Wahrheit, die wir jetzt Wahn nennen, für sie verschwunden war, da fand der Mann bald vieles, was ihn zerstreute; er stellt die nächsten Verhältnisse der Dinge fest, betrog seinen Halbbruder, das Tier, betrat eine einzige Stufe der unermeßlichen Leiter der Natur, und nannte sich bald groß, mächtig und weise.” 91. Mereau-Brentano, Liebe und allenthalben Liebe, 3: 180: “Aber das Weib fand nichts, was die unendliche Sehnsucht nach der verlornen Einfalt stillen konnte.” 92. Ibid.: “Gib mir, flehte sie zu dem Unendlichen, gib mir, die das kalte Licht des Verstandes verwundete, nur etwas für meine unendliche Sehnsucht.” 93. Ibid.: “die Jugend und die Liebe, die den Menschen in einem seligen Traum die verlorne Wahrheit wiederbrachten.”

Chapter Two 1. Rudolf Weigand, Liebe und Ehe im Mittelalter (Stockstadt: Keip, 1998). 2. Immanuel Kant, AA 6: 279; Practical Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 428.

notes to pages 75–79


3. Friedrich Schiller, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Briefwechsel zwischen Schiller und Goethe in den Jahren 1794 bis 1805, Vol. 2 (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1856), 292. 4. See, e.g., Herder to Karoline Herder, May 2, 1789; Johann Gottfried Herder, Briefe, ed. Günter Arnold (Bonn: Böhlau, 1988), 9: 521. 5. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke, ed. Norbert Miller (Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1959), I, 5, 173: “. . . der verkleidete Priester, der jedes Paar kopuliert.” 6. Novalis, Schriften (Historisch Kritische Ausgabe), ed. Paul Kluckhohn and Richard Samuel (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1960–2006) (henceforth HKA), 3: 418 (no. 775); Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia: Das Allgemeine Brouillon (Albany: SUNY Press, 2007), 142. 7. Franz Baader, Franz Baader’s Kleinere Schriften (Würzburg: Voigt und Mocker, 1847), 165n. 8. Franz Baader, Revision der Philosopheme der Hegel’schen Schule bezüglich auf das Christenthum (Stuttgart: Liesching, 1839), 4–5n. 9. Cf. Manfred Frank, Einführung in die Frühromantische Ästhetik (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1989), 21. 10. Immanuel Kant, “Die falsche Spitzfindigkeit der vier syllogistischen Figuren erwiesen,” AA 2: 46. 11. Aristotle, De anima, Γ 6, 420a28; Peri Hermeneias 430a27: συνϑεσιϚ νοηματων ὥσπερ ἕν ὄντων. 12. Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Ueber die Lehre des Spinoza in Briefen an den Herrn Moses Mendelssohn (Breslau: Löwe, 1789), 427. 13. Ibid., 432 14. Cf. Frank, “Unendliche Annäherung,” 715. 15. Manfred Frank, The Philosophical Foundations of Early German Romanti­ cism, trans. Elizabeth Millán-Zaibert (Albany: SUNY Press, 2004), 98. 16. Of these two sources, Manfred Frank focuses on the Kant-Jacobi connection, whereas Dieter Henrich tends to emphasize Hölderlin’s response to Fichte’s conceptualization of the “I am.” Cf. Manfred Frank, “Unendliche Annäherung”—Die Anfänge der philosophischen Frühromantik (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1997), 670–700; Dieter Henrich, Der Grund im Bewußtsein: Untersuchungen zu Hölderlins Denken (1794–1795) (Stuttgart: Klett Cotta, 1992), 42–47 and 485–506. 17. Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Paul Guyer and Allen Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 361 (B307). 18. The etymological roots of the word Urtheil have nothing to do with Ur + Teilung; instead, the word is related to its Anglo-Saxon cognate “ordeal.” The teilen part of the word has to do not with dividing but rather with “dealing” or “doling out” (analogous to er-teilen). 19. Schelling to Hegel, February 4, 1797. Manfred Frank and Gerhard Kurz, eds., Materialien zu Schellings philosophischen Anfängen (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1975), 127: “vom Unbedingten muß die Philosophie ausgehen.” 20. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 262 (B161).


notes to pages 79–83

21. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, “Nachgelassene Schriften zu Platners ‘Philosophischen Aphorismen’, 1794–1812, in J. G. Fichte— Gesamtausgabe, ed. R. Lauth, H. Jacob, and H. Gliwitzky ((Stuttgart: Frommann, 1962–), 2.4: 182. The discussion of the Urtheil extends from 182 to 189. 22. Cited in Frank, “Unendliche Annäherung,” 700: “vorab gleich gewählt, [muß] auf sie bezogen werden, d.i. an welches beide gleich gehalten wären.” 23. F. W. J. Schelling and Slavoj Zizek, The Abyss of Freedom / The Ages of the World (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997), 130. 24. The act of positing that goes along with the decomposition of being into the copula is a determination or Bestimmung. While Hegel’s Wissenschaft der Logik would later explicitly make the connection to a political philosophy in speaking of the “self-determination of the concept” (Selbstbestimmung des Begriffs), the idea is already implicit in Hölderlin and Hegel’s early exploration of the nature of judging. 25. Frank, “Unendliche Annäherung,” 690. 26. Friedrich Hölderlin, “Seyn, Urtheil, Möglichkeit,” in Sämtliche Werke — Frankfurter Ausgabe, ed. M. Trunz, H. G. Steiger, and D. E. Sattler, vol. 17: Frühe Aufsätze und Übersetzungen (Frankfurt: Stroemfeld/Roter Stern, 1972), 156: “gar keine Theilung vorgenommen werden kan, ohne das Wesen desjenigen, was getrennt werden soll zu verlezen.” 27. Fichte, Werke, 1: 79: “nichts ist entgegengesetzt, das nicht in einem dritten gleich wäre, und nichts ist gleich, das nicht in einem dritten entgegengesetzt wäre, welcher alle Synthesis begründet.” 28. Christoph Jamme, “Ein ungelehrtes Buch”—Die philosophische Gemein­ schaft zwischen Hegel und Hölderlin, Frankfurt 1797–1800 (Bonn: Bouvier, 1983), 190. 29. Terry Pinkard, Hegel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 69. 30. Pinkard, Hegel, 45. 31. The Gontards’ Weiße Hirsch complex was located at the Große Hirschgraben 3; the Gogels’ house was located at Roßmarkt 5. 32. Johannes Hoffmeister, ed., Briefe von und an Hegel I (Hamburg: Meiner, 1969), 41–42. 33. Immanuel Kant, “The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God,” in Theoretical Philosophy 1755–1770 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 119 (AA 2: 74). 34. Cited in Frank, Philosophical Foundations of Early German Romanticism, 81. 35. Hannelore Hegel, Isaak von Sinclair zwischen Fichte, Hölderlin und Hegel (Tübingen: Klostermann, 1971); includes the text of the Philosophische Raisonne­ ments as an appendix, p. 243f. 36. Fichte, Gesamtausgabe, 2.4: 184: “bei jedem Setzen ist auch ein Ausschließen.” 37. Friedrich Hölderlin, Hyperion, in Sämtliche Werke, ed. F. Beissner vol. 3 (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer/Cotta, 1958), 312.

notes to pages 83–90


38. Hölderlin, Hyperion, 201: “leidensfreie Ruhe der Götter.” 39. Plato, The Symposium, trans. R. E. Allen, The Dialogues of Plato, vol. 2 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991), 133 (193a). 40. Fichte, Werke, 1: 412–416. 41. For a detailed discussion of Hegel and Hölderlin’s Platonism and Hegel’s objection to Hölderlin, see Dieter Henrich, Hegel im Kontext (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1975), 6–35. Henrich wants to read Hegel’s original program formulas as a response to and a disagreement with Hölderlin. 42. Klaus Hammacher, “Herders Stellung im Spinozastreit,” Herder und die Philosophie des deutschen Idealismus (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1997), 183. 43. Cf. Jamme, “Ein ungelehrtes Buch,” 106f. 44. G. W. F. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, trans. H. B. Nisbett (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 221. 45. G. W. F. Hegel, Werke (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1970–86), 3: 294ff. 46. Alice Ormiston, “ ‘The Spirit of Christianity and Its Fate’: Towards a Reconsideration of the Role of Love in Hegel,” Canadian Journal of Political Science 35, no. 3 (2002): 499. 47. Ibid., 500n. 48. Hegel, Werke (Suhrkamp), 1: 231. 49. Ibid., 1: 232. 50. Charles Taylor, Hegel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 69. 51. Paolo Bartoloni, “Literature of Indistinction: Blanchot and Caprioni,” in After Blanchot, ed. Leslie Hill, Brian Nelson, and Dimitris Vardoulakis (Wilmington: University of Delaware Press, 2005), 246. 52. Hegel, Werke (Suhrkamp), 2: 243: “Opfern, Weihrauch und Dienst.” 53. Ibid., 2: 242. 54. Ibid., 2: 242: “Wo Subjekt und Objekt oder Freiheit und Natur so vereinigt gedacht sind, daß Natur Freiheit ist, daß Subjekt und Objekt nicht zu trennen sind.” 55. Hegel, Werke (Suhrkamp), 2: 242: “Die theoretischen Synthesen werden ganz objektiv, dem Subjekt ganz entgegengesetzt. Die praktische Tätigkeit vernichtet das Objekt und ist ganz subjektiv—nur in der Liebe allein ist man eins mit dem Objekt, es beherrscht nicht und wird nicht beherrscht.” 56. Ibid., 2: 243. 57. Ibid., 2: 244: “der Geliebte ist uns nicht mehr entgegengesetzt, er ist eins mit unserem Wesen.” 58. See Ormiston, “‘The Spirit of Christianity and Its Fate,’” 499. 59. Hölderlin, Hyperion, 78: “lebten nun immer freier und schöner zusammen, und alles in und um uns vereinigte sich zu goldenem Frieden.” 60. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Émile, or Treatise on Education, trans. Allan Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 363. 61. Hölderlin, Hyperion, 80: “Abtrünnig bin ich geworden von Mai und Sommer und Herbst, und achte des Tages und der Nacht nicht, wie sonst, gehöre dem


notes to pages 90–94

Himmel und der Erde nicht mehr, gehöre nur Einem, Einem, aber die Blüthe des Mai’s und die Flamme des Sommers und die Reife des Herbsts, die Klarheit des Tags und der Ernst der Nacht, und Erd’ und Himmel ist mir in diesem Einen vereint! So lieb’ ich!” 62. Georg Lukács, The Theory of the Novel, trans. Anna Bostock (Boston: MIT Press, 1974), 32. 63. Hölderlin, Hyperion, 146: “Seht ihr nun, warum besonders die Athener auch ein philosophisch Volk seyn musste?” 64. Ibid., 146: “mit dem Himmel und Erde nicht in gleicher Lieb’ und Gegenliebe lebt.” 65. Ibid., 146: “Wer nicht in diesem Sinne einig lebt mit dem Elemente, worin er sich regt, ist von Natur auch in sich selbst so einig nicht.” 66. Ibid., 142: “Ohne solche Liebe der Schönheit, ohne solche Religion ist jeder Staat ein dürr Gerippe ohne Leben und Geist.” 67. Frank and Kurz, Materialien zu Schellings philosophischen Anfängen, 127. 68. See Walter Christoph Zimmerli, Die Frage nach der Philosophie—Interpre­ tationen zu Hegels ‘Differenzschrift,’ Hegel Studien12 (Bonn: Bouvier, 1974), 78. 69. Rolf-Peter Horstmann, “The Role of Civil Society in Hegel’s Political Philosophy,” in Hegel on Ethics and Politics, ed. R. B. Pippin and O. Höffe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 208–38. 70. G. W. F. Hegel, Hegels Theologische Jugendschriften, ed. Herman Nohl (Tübingen: Mohr, 1907), 222: “Dieser Macht selbst konnte der Mensch sich selbst, seine Freiheit entgegensetzen, wenn er mit ihnen in Kollision kam.” 71. Ludwig Siep, Der Weg der Phänomenologie des Geistes (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2000), 161–66. 72. Cf. Alice Ormiston, Love and Politics: Re-interpreting Hegel (Albany: SUNY Press, 2004), 14–17. 73. Hegel, Werke (Suhrkamp), 2: 246: “Wahre Liebe findet nur unter Lebendigen statt, die an Macht sich gleich und also durchaus füreinander Lebendige, von keiner Seite gegeneinander Tote sind; sie schließt alle Entgegesetzungen aus, sie ist nicht Verstand, dessen Beziehungen das Mannigfaltige immer als Mannigfaltige lassen und dessen Einheit selbst Entgegensetzungen sind; sie ist nicht Vernunft, die ihr Bestimmen dem Bestimmten schlechthin entgegensetzt.” 74. Ibid., 2: 20: “In der Bildung hat sich das, was Erscheinung des Absoluten ist, vom Absoluten isoliert, und als ein Selbständiges fixiert.” 75. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 221. 76. Hegel, Werke (Suhrkamp), 2: 22: “Wenn die Macht der Vereinigung aus dem Leben der Menschen verschwindet und die Gegensätze ihre lebendige Beziehung und Wechselwirkung verloren haben und Selbständigkeit gewinnen, ensteht das Bedürfnis der Philosophie.” 77. Ibid., 2: 21: “Solche festgewordene Gegensätze aufzuheben, ist das einzige Interesse der Vernunft.”

notes to pages 95–100


78. Jean G. Hyppolite, Genèse et structure de la “Phénoménologie de l’Esprit” de Hegel (Paris: Aubier, 1946), 287. 79. Rolf-Peter Horstmann, Die Grenzen der Vernunft (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 2004), 65. 80. Hegel, Werke (Suhrkamp), 2: 246: “schließt alle Entgegensätze aus.” 81. Ibid., 2: 247: “Vernichtung des Entgegengesetzten in der Vereinigung und der noch vorhandenen Selbständigkeit.” 82. Ibid., 2: 247: “Dieses Zürnen der Liebe über Individualität ist die Scham.” 83. Frederick C. Beiser, German Idealism: The Struggle against Subjectivism, 1781–1801 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), 349. 84. Hegel, Werke (Suhrkamp), 2: 13. 85. Ernst Müller, Ästhetische Religiosität und Kunstreligion in den Philosophien von der Aufklärung bis zum Ausgang des deutschen Idealismus (Berlin, 2003), 219–33. 86. Andreas Arndt, “Schleiermacher und Hegel—Versuch einer Zwischenbilanz,” Hegel Studien 37 (2002): 60. 87. Rousseau, Émile, 363. 88. See Lynda Lange, Introduction, in Feminist Interpretations of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002), 17. 89. Rousseau, Émile, 364. 90. Ibid., 370. 91. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 361 (B307). 92. See M. H. Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature (New York: W.W. Norton, 1971), 146–69. 93. Ernst Benz, Der Vollkommene Mensch nach Jacob Böhme (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1937), 65. 94. Jakob Boehme, “De tribus principiis, oder Beschreibung der Drey Principien Göttlichen Wesens” 13.16, Sämtliche Schriften, vol. 2 (Stuttgart: Verlag Günther Holzboog, 1942), 151: “Adam muß am jüngsten Tage gantz unzerbrochen wieder aufstehen im ersten Bilde, wie er war geschaffen.” 95. See for instance G. W. F. Hegel, Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Phi­ losophie III, Werke (Suhrkamp), 20: 94; Heinrich Heine, Die Romantische Schule (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1979), 86. 96. Baader, Sämmtliche Werke, 15: 199. 97. Franz von Baader, “Über den Verderblichen Einfluß, welchen die rationalistisch-materialistischen Vorstellungen auf die höhere Physik, so wie auf die höhere Dichtkunst und die bildende Kunst noch ausüben,” Sämmtliche Werke, 3: 303: “die Androgynie oder Union beider Geschlechtspotenzen in sich.” 98. Achim Aurnhammer, Androgynie: Studien zu einem Motiv in der eu­ ropäischen Literatur (Cologne: Böhlau, 1986), 159. 99. Friedrich Schlegel, “Über die Diotima,” KA 1: 92: “Die Weiblichkeit soll wie die Männlichkeit zur höhern Menschlichkeit gereinigt werden.”


notes to pages 101–106

100. Friedrich Schlegel, “Philosophische Lehrjahre, Beilage X,” KA 19: 310 (no. 109): “Gegen Fichte muß man behaupten, daß die Wahrheit nicht bloß auf dem activen Wege des freien Selbstdenkens gefunden, sondern auch eine passive Hingebung an Gott erfordert.” 101. Friedrich Schlegel, “Über die Philosophie: An Dorothea,” KA 8: 45: “Nur sanfte Männlichkeit, nur selbstständige Weiblichkeit sei die rechte, die wahre und schöne. Ist dem so, so muß man den Charakter des Geschlechts, welches doch nur eine angeborne, natürliche Profession ist, keineswegs noch mehr übertreiben, sondern vielmehr durch starke Gegengewichte zu mildern suchen, damit die Eigenheit einen wo möglich unbeschränktem Raum finde, um sich nach Lust und Liebe in dem ganzen Bezirke der Menschheit frei zu bewegen.” 102. Friedrich Schlegel, Lucinde (Berlin: Heinrich Frölich, 1799), 265. 103. Ibid., 267: “die ganze Fülle ihrer bestimmten und unbestimmten Beziehu­ ngen [,] das Eine und Ganze [,] das einfachste und doch das höchste.” 104. Ibid., 267. 105. On Schlegel’s reflections on marriage and their relationship to the monistic conception of life prevalent in early Romanticism, see Robert J. Richards, The Ro­ mantic Conception of Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 93n. 106. Schlegel, Lucinde, 13: “Allegorie auf die Vollendung des Männlichen und Weiblichen zur vollen ganzen Menschheit.” 107. Ibid., 11. 108. Ibid., 8. 109. Schlegel, Philosophische Lehrjahre, KA 18: 228 (IV.411). 110. Schlegel, KA 16: 219 (8.201). 111. Schlegel, KA 16: 221 (8.241). 112. Schlegel, Lucinde, 13: “Ich kann nicht mehr sagen, meine Liebe oder deine Liebe; beide sind sich gleich und vollkommen Eins, so viel Liebe als Gegenliebe. Es ist Ehe, ewige Einheit und Verbindung unserer Geister, nicht bloß für das was wir diese oder jene Welt nennen, sondern für die eine wahre, unteilbare, namenlose, unendliche Welt, für unser ganzes ewiges Sein und Leben.” 113. Peter Furth, “Romantik der Entfremdung,” in Phänomenologie der Ent­ täuschungen: Ideologiekritik Nachtotalitär (Frankfurt: Fischer, 1991), 44–93.

Chapter Three 1. Novalis, HKA 2: 247, no. 50: “Die höhere Phil[osophie] behandelt die Ehe von Natur und Geist.” 2. Ibid., 2: 253, no. 79. 3. While the so-called “Oldest System Program of German Idealism” was probably written in 1796 or 1797, the text (in Hegel’s handwriting) was not circulated until it was rediscovered by Franz Rosenzweig and published in 1917. Nevertheless,

notes to pages 106–111


the three thinkers commonly hypothesized to be the author(s) of the document (Hegel, Schelling, and Hölderlin) all were in contact with Novalis during the period in question. 4. Novalis, HKA 3: 470, no. 1106: “Der Staat besteht nicht aus einzelnen Menschen, sondern aus Paaren und Gesellschaften.” 5. Richard Samuel, “Die Poetische Staats- und Geschichtsphilosophie Friedrich von Hardenbergs (Novalis),” in Studien zur romantischen Geschichtsphilosophie (Frankfurt a. M.: Diesterweg, 1925). 6. Novalis, HKA 2: 471, no. 1109: “Gamism ist die Grundlage zum Patriotism.” 7. Ibid., 3: 652. 8. William Arctander O’Brien, Novalis: Signs of Revolution (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995), 4. 9. Wilhelm Dilthey, Das Erlebnis und die Dichtung (Leipzig: Teubner, 1907), 258–62. 10. On the differences between Novalis’s and Hölderlin’s critiques of Fichte and their respective proposed solutions, cf. Manfred Frank, “Unendliche An­ näherung”—Die Anfänge der philosophischen Frühromantik (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1997), 810f. 11. Berbeli Wanning, “Statt Nicht-Ich—Du! Die Umwendung der Fichteschen Wissenschaftslehre ins Dialogische durch Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg),” in Fichte und die Romantik, ed. Wolfgang Schrader, Fichte Studien, vol. 12 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1997), 153–68. 12. Novalis, HKA 2: 181, no. 234. 13. Ibid., 2: 171, no. 226: “dichotomische Gegensätze.” 14. Ibid., 2: 315, no. 399: “mein magischer Idealismus.” 15. The prime passage for this claim is found in the Lehrlinge zu Sais (HKA 1: 100); however it has strangely escaped the notice of many critics that it is here offered as one position among several, all of which are in dialogue. In particular philosophers have tended to read these statements as Novalis’s “party line.” The originator of this line of argumentation may well have been Wilhelm Dilthey in Das Erlebnis und die Dichtung. 16. See Frederick Beiser, German Idealism: The Struggle against Subjectivism, 1781–1801 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), 418. 17. Frank, “Unendliche Annäherung,” 810f. O’Brien similarly claims that “Romanticism turns away from Idealistic philosophy, or, more precisely, turns back upon it in order to analyze it as language, and ultimately, as a fiction.” O’Brien, Novalis: Signs of Revolution, 78. 18. See also Manfred Frank, “Die Philosophie des sogenannten ‘magischen Idealismus,’” in Auswege aus dem Deutschen Idealismus (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2007), 26–66. 19. Novalis, HKA 2: 104, no. 1: “Wir verlassen das Identische um es darzustellen.” 20. Frank, “Unendliche Annäherung,” 803.


notes to pages 112–117

21. Novalis, HKA 3: 254: “Die jetzige Bestimmung und Vertheilung eines jeden Individuums in diesem Weltsystem ist wohl nur scheinbar oder relativ, zufällig— historisch—unmoralisch?” 22. Ibid., 2: 9, no. 1. 23. Ibid., 3: 251: “Dieser rechtliche Zustand soll ein moralischer werden.” 24. Oddly enough, Novalis seems to use the adjective rechtlich in a double sense close to its meaning in English. “Lawlike” can mean both ”legal” and “proceeding in a lawlike fashion.” For it is clear that Novalis does not mean by Recht what Hegel will later mean by it. After all, he notes, “mathematics also refers only to law—lawful [rechtlich] nature and art.” 25. Christine Weder, “Moral Interest and Religious Truth: On the Relationship between Morality and Religion in Novalis,” German Life and Letters 54, no. 4 (2001): 297. 26. Novalis to Schlegel, December 2, 1798, HKA 4: 508. 27. Johann Ludwig Döderlein in J. G. Fichte im Gespräch. Berichte der Zeitgen­ ossen (Stuttgart: Frommann Holzboog, 1978), 284 (no. 315). 28. Novalis to Caroline Just, April 10, 1796, HKA 4: 180–181. 29. Novalis, Tagebücher, nos. 69, 70 (May 26 and 27, 1797), HKA 4: 41. 30. Novalis to Schlegel, June 14, 1794, HKA 4: 230. 31. Bernward Loheide, Fichte und Novalis (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000), 271. 32. Ricarda Huch, “Die Romantische Ehe,” in Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 6 (Berlin: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1969), 824. 33. Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreutz anno 1450 appeared anonymously in 1616 and is usually attributed to the Protestant theologian Johann Valentin Andreae, who at one point attended the very Tübingen Stift in which Hegel, Schelling, and Hölderlin received their education. 34. Helmut Gebelein, “Zur Alchemie im Werke Novalis,” in Ésoterisme, Gno­ ses et Imaginaire Symbolique, ed. Richard Caron and Antoine Faivre (Louvain: Peeters, 2001), 297. 35. On the historic phenomenon of the Luisenkult, see Hermann Kurzke, Roman­ tik und Konservatismus (Munich: Fink, 1983), 173–82, as well as Günter de Bruyn, Preußens Luise—Vom Entstehen und Vergehen einer Legende (Berlin: Siedler, 2001). 36. Novalis, HKA 2: 494–95, no. 36. 37. Ibid., 2: 482: “Wenn man liebt, findet man überall, und sieht überall Ähnlichkeiten.” 38. Ibid., 2: 489, no, 18: “freiwillige Annahme.” 39. Ibid., 4: 253: “Ohne Glauben und Liebe ist es nicht zu lesen.” 40. Similarly, note no. 50 of the Allgemeine Brouillon notes that “love is the end of world history—the unum of the universe” (Die Liebe ist der Endzweck der Weltgeschichte— das Unum des Universums); “love” is thus the name of both the underlying substrate of the universe and the faculty of its cognition (HKA 2: 248). 41. Schlegel remarks on this fact in his notebooks in July 1794. Schelling wrote

notes to pages 117–121


his scathing parodic poem “Glaubensbekenntnis des Heinz Widerporsteins” in response to Novalis’s first public reading of Die Christenheit oder Europa. 42. Cited in Paul Peucker, “ ‘Inspired by Flames of Love’: Homosexuality, Mysticism, and Moravian Brothers around 1750,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 16, no. 1 (2006): 32: “daß die Vereinigung eine heilige moralische Sache und eine sacramentaliche Handlung sey.” 43. Novalis, HKA 4: 188: “Spinoza und Zinzendorf haben sie erforscht, die unendliche Idee der Liebe und geahndet die Methode—sich für sie und sie für sich zu realisieren auf diesem Staubfaden. Schade, daß ich in Fichte noch nichts von dieser Aussicht sehe, nichts von diesem Schöpfungsathem fühle. Aber er ist nahe dran—Er muß in ihren Zauberkreis treten.” 44. Ibid., 3: 286; Novalis writes “Macroandropos.” 45. Ibid., 3: 59: “So klärt das Ganze den Theil und der Theil das Ganze auf.” 46. Ibid., 2: 541, 2: 430, 2: 432, 3: 118. 47. I take Angelika Rauch to make a similar point when she points to an “affect” that lies behind perceiving similarity in the case of metaphor—although she is thinking primarily of Freud and Kant, and Novalis only insofar as he has passed through the Benjamin alembic. Angelika Rausch, The Hieroglyph of Tradition: Freud, Benjamin, Gadamer, Novalis, Kant (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2000), 95. 48. Barbara Senckel, Individualität und Totalität —Aspekte zu einer Anthro­ pologie des Novalis (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1983), 66. 49. Ibid., 63. 50. Novalis, HKA 2: 540: “Das Air de Famille nennt man Analogie.” 51. Florian Roder, Novalis: Die Verwandlung des Menschen (Stuttgart: Urachhaus, 1992), 330. 52. Novalis, HKA 2: 541, no. 74: “Nur insofern der Mensch also mit sich selbst eine glückliche Ehe führt . . . ist er überhaupt Ehe und Familienfähig.” 53. Roder, Novalis: Die Verwandlung des Menschen, 330. 54. Novalis, HKA 2: 486: “und der Erfinder wäre doch wohl auch der König aller Erfinder.” 55. Ibid., 2: 115 (nos. 33–34); Novalis, Fichte Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 26–27. 56. Novalis, HKA 2: 292: “Ein wahrhaftes Königspaar ist für den ganzen Menschen, was eine Constitution für den bloßen Verstand ist.” The text subsequently makes clear that being a “true royal couple” is something that very few actual royal couples can lay claim to, although all must aspire to it— only their love can bring love to the state at large: “No monarchy exists where the king and the intelligence of the state are no longer identical” (Dort giebt es keine Monarchie mehr wo der König und die Intelligenz des Staats nicht mehr identisch sind) (2: 493). See also Hans Wolfgang Kuhn, Der Apokalyptiker und die Politik—Studien zur Staatsphi­ losophie des Novalis (Freiburg i. B.: Rombach, 1960), 123.


notes to pages 121–124

57. Novalis, HKA 2: 500, no. 55: “Jede Verbesserung unvollkommener Constitutionen läuft daraus hinaus, daß man sie der Liebe fähiger macht.” 58. However, it is important to note that Novalis would not have associated a state’s “constitution” with our “constitution” of an object in experience—Novalis never uses the German word Constitution in this way. 59. Kuhn, Der Apokalyptiker und die Politik, 123. 60. Ibid., 136. 61. Novalis, HKA 2: 499. 62. Kuhn, Der Apokalyptiker und die Politik, 138. 63. Novalis, HKA 2: 257: “Constitution ist Constructionsformel einer Nation, eines Staats.” 64. G. W. F. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, trans. H. B. Nisbett (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 313 (§275f.). 65. In §160 of the Foundations of the Philosophy of Right, Hegel notes that “the family attains completion [vollendet sich]” in three respects (in den drei Seiten), the first of which is as “its immediate concept, as marriage.” It may seem at first rather unclear how the “immediate concept” of the family can be said to “complete” the family. §258 tells us that the family is the immediate substantiality of the spirit. This immediate substantiality finds its first complete articulation (it is first internally articulated as described in §258A) in marriage. 66. Beiser, German Idealism, 424. 67. Novalis, HKA 2: 500. 68. Ibid., 2: 499: “Maximum von Reizen.” 69. Ibid., 2: 500, no. 52: “Alle Reize sind relativ—sind Größen—bis auf Einen, der ist absolut—und mehr als Größe.” 70. Ibid., 2: 501, no. 56. 71. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 7: 309; Hegel, Elements of the Philoso­ phy of Right, 204. 72. Novalis, HKA 2: 488: “Übrigens ist auch ein geborner König besser, als ein gemachter. Der beste Mensch wird eine solche Erhebung nicht ohne Alteration ertragen können. . . . Und ist denn am Ende nicht die Geburt die primitive Wahl? Die müssen sich nicht lebendig in sich gefühlt haben die die Freiheit dieser Wahl, die Einmüthigkeit bey derselben beweifeln.” This argument is strikingly similar to the one Hegel offers in §286 of the Philosophy of Right. See also Mark Tunick, “Hegel’s Justification of Hereditary Monarchy,” History of Political Thought 12 (1991): 481–96; Jean-Michel Chaumont, “Amour, famille, propriété—Arendt, Hegel, Marx et la question du majorat,” Revue Philosophique de Louvain 85, no. 67 (1987): 371–401. 73. Novalis, HKA 2: 255: “Eine Ehe sollte eigentlich eine langsame, continuirliche Umarmung, Generation . . . , Bildung eines Gemeinsamen, harmonischen Wesens seyn.” 74. Ibid., 2: 255: “zugleich die Umarmung des ganzen Paars—als Einer Natur, mit Einer Kunst (Einem Geiste).”

notes to pages 124–128


75. Ibid., 2: 255: “das vereinigte Produkt der doppelten Umarmung.” 76. Hans-Joachim Mähl (introduction to Novalis, Das Allgemeine Brouillon [Hamburg: Meiner, 1993], xi ff.) locates these notes early in the convolute that encompasses Novalis’s sketches from September and October 1798; thus, they follow Glauben und Liebe by only a few months. The intervening collection of fragments, the Teplitzer Fragmente compiled in the summer of 1798 while Novalis was staying in Teplitz (today Teplice, Czech Republic) to receive treatment for his ailing lungs, explicitly link concerns of the royal couple, “king and queen” (§84, no. 403), theories of femininity, and questions of sexual reproduction, the latter in exactly the same language as the Brouillon (“Umarmung”; Novalis, HKA 2: 385, no. 324). 77. Peucker, “ ‘Inspired by Flames of Love,’ ” 39. 78. See for example translator’s note in Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 200n. 79. Novalis, HKA 2: 496. 80. Ibid., 2: 496: “Er [the king] sollte nicht bloß militairische Gesellschafter und Adjutanten haben.” 81. Sir Robert Filmer, Patriarcha and Other Writings, ed. Johann P. Sommerville (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 7. 82. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. Richard Tuck (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 140. 83. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract and Other Later Political Writ­ ings, ed. Victor Gourevitch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 42. 84. Louis de Bonald, On Divorce, trans. Nicholas Davidson (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1992), 21; Louis de Bonald, Du divorce considéré au dixneuvième siècle relativement à l’état domestique et à l’état public de société (Paris: A. Le Clere, 1805), 31: “Les pères et les mères, considérés par la philosophie comme des mâles et des femelles.” 85. Bonald, On Divorce, 22; Du divorce, 32: “La société politique en fut ébranlée jusque dans ses fondemens.” 86. Bonald, On Divorce, 45; Du divorce, 72. 87. Bonald, On Divorce, 55; Du divorce, 87–88: “Un pouvoir humain, des ministres, des sujets, qui ne sont pas des pères, des mères, des enfans, considérés sous le rapport physique [,] mais qui, ayant pour fin . . . un fin semblable à celle de la famille.” 88. “A government established on the principle of benevolence toward the people like that of a father towards his children—that is, a paternalistic government (imperium paternale)— . . . is the greatest despotism imaginable” (Eine Regierung, die auf dem Prinzip des Wohlwollens gegen das Volk als eines Vaters gegen seine Kinder errichtet wäre, d.i. eine väterliche Regierung [imperium paternale], . . . ist der größte denkbare Despotismus). AA 8: 291; Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy, trans. Mary J. Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 291. On the question of Novalis’s response to the Perpetual Peace essay, see Kurzke, Romantik und Konservatismus, 182.


notes to pages 129–137

89. Novalis, HKA 2: 255, no. 80: “Alle Romane, wo wahre Liebe vorkommt, sind Mährchen—magische Begebenheiten.” 90. Ibid., 1: 110: “Einem gelang es— er hob den Schleier der Göttin zu Sais— Aber was sah er? Er sah—Wunder des Wunders—Sich Selbst.” 91. Ibid., 1: 96. 92. Ibid., 1: 96: “ ‘zur stillen Umarmung’ ‘sanftauflösenden Umarmung’ ‘rätsellösenden Kusse’ zu der süßen Auflösung des Geheimnisses.” 93. Ibid., 1: 96: “Hyazinth lebte nachher noch lange mit Rosenblüthchen unter seinen frohen Eltern und Gespielen, und unzählige Enkel dankten der alten wunderlichen Frau für ihren Rath und ihr Feuer; denn damals bekamen die Menschen so viel Kinder, als sie wollten.” 94. Sylviane Agacinski, La métaphysique des sexes (Paris: Seuil, 2005). 95. Plato, Plato’s Timaeus (New York: Macmillan, 1959), 37 (42a). 96. Novalis, HKA 1: 214: “Fortdauer dieser seligen Zeiten.” 97. Ibid., 1: 214: “Man betrachtete sie wie ein überirdisches Wesen.” 98. Ibid., 1: 214: “ihr hoher, einziger Wert.” 99. Ibid., 1: 215: “ein . . . Mann von niedrigem Stande und dunklerer Herkunft.” 100. Ibid., 1: 215.: “Seine Dichter hatten ihm unaufhörlich von seiner Verwantschaft mit den ehemaligen übermenschlichen Beherrschern der Welt vorgesungen, und in dem Zauberspiegel ihrer Kunst war ihm der Abstand der Abstand seiner Herkunft von dem Ursprunge der anderen Menschen, die Herrlichkeit seines Stammes noch heller erschienen, so daß es ihn dünkte, nur durch die edlere Klasse der Dichter mit dem übrigen Menschengeschlechte zusammenhängen.” 101. Bärbel Becker-Cantarino, “Priesterin und Lichtbringerin: Zur Ideologie des weiblichen Charakters in der Frühromantik,” Die Frau als Heldin und Auto­ rin: Neue Kritische Ansätze zur deutschen Literatur, ed. Wolfgang Paulsen (Bern: Francke, 1977), 111–24. 102. Novalis, HKA 2: 847: “Ist die Frau der Zweck des Mannes und ist die Frau ohne Zweck.” 103. Ibid., 1: 213. 104. See William Arctander O’Brien. “Twilight in Atlantis: Novalis’ Heinrich von Ofterdingen and Plato’s Republic,” Modern Language Notes 95 (1980): 1292– 1332. 105. O’Brien, Novalis: Signs of Revolution, 277–79, 302–5. 106. Novalis, HKA 1: 227: “Der Dichter steigt auf rauhen Stufen / Hinan, und wird des Königs Sohn.” 107. Friedrich Kittler, “Die Irrwege des Eros und die ‘absolute Familie’: Psychoanalytischer und diskursanalytischer Kommentar zu Klingsohrs Märchen in Novalis’ Heinrich von Ofterdingen,” Psychoanalytische und psychopathologische Literaturinterpretation, ed. Bernd Urban and Winfried Kudszus (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1981), 421.

notes to pages 139–148


108. Friedrich A. Kittler, “Der Dichter, die Mutter, das Kind —Zur Romantischen Erfindung der Sexualität,” 102–13. 109. Kittler, “Die Irrwege des Eros und die ‘absolute Familie,’ ” 424. 110. Novalis, HKA 1: 294. 111. Ibid., 1: 295. 112. Ibid., 1: 296: “Die Mutter und der Sohn gingen hinaus, um . . . den gefaßten Entschluß vorzubereiten.” 113. Ibid., 1: 311 114. Kuhn, Der Apokalyptiker und die Politik, 123. 115. Novalis, HKA 1: 314: “Die königliche Familie empfing sie mit der herzlichsten Zärtlichkeit, und das neue Königspaar rief sie zu seinen Statthaltern auf Erden aus.” 116. Ibid., 3: 266, no. 137: “Sympathie des Zeichens mit dem Bezeichneten.” 117. Ibid., 3: 266, no. 137. 118. Senckel, Individualität und Totalität, 66. 119. Novalis, HKA 3: 246. 120. Cf. Marc Shell, Children of the Earth: Literature, Politics, and Nationhood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993). 121. See also Regula Fankhauser, Des Dichters Sophie—Weiblichkeitsentwürfe im Werk von Novalis (Cologne: Böhlau, 1997), 206. 122. Novalis, HKA 1: 312: “Alle kosteten den göttlichen Trank, und vernahmen die freundliche Begrüßung der Mutter in ihrem Innern, mit unsäglicher Freude. Sie war jedem gegenwärtig, und ihre geheimnisvolle Anwesenheit schien alle zu verklären. . . . Alle merkten, was ihnen gefehlt habe, und das Zimmer war ein Aufenthalt der Seligen geworden. Sophie sagte: ‘. . . In jedem wohnt die himmlische Mutter, um jedes Kind zu gebären. Fühlt ihr die süße Geburt im Klopfen eurer Brust?’ ” 123. Fankhauser, Des Dichters Sophie, 169. 124. Ibid., 170. 125. Novalis, HKA 1: 314: “Das Armband zerfloß in der Luft, und bald sah man lichte Ringe um jedes Haupt.”

Chapter Four 1. Schleiermacher to Charlotte Schleiermacher, December 31, 1797, Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, Briefwechsel 1796–1798, KGA 5.2: 219. See also F. D. E. Schleiermacher, Schriften aus der Berliner Zeit, KGA 1.2: xxxiii; F. D. E. Schleiermacher, Briefe (Jena: Diedrichs, 1906), 70: “Unsere Freunde haben sich das Vergnügen gemacht unser Zusammenleben eine Ehe [zu nennen].” 2. Schleiermacher to Charlotte Schleiermacher, December 31, 1797, Briefe, 70: “und stimmen allgemein darin überein, daß ich die Frau seyn müßte.”


notes to pages 149–157

3. Andreas Arndt, “Eine literarische Ehe: Schleiermachers Wohngemeinschaft mit Friedrich Schlegel,” paper presented at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Symposium “Wissenschaft und Geselligkeit—Friedrich Schleiermacher in Berlin, 1796–1802,” Berlin, July 6, 2007. 4. Friedrich Schlegel, Fragmente zur Poesie und Literatur, in KA 16: 272 (IX.226). 5. Elizabeth Millan-Zaibert, Friedrich Schlegel and the Emergence of Romantic Philosophy (Albany: SUNY Press, 2007), 101. 6. Schlegel, KA 18: 36 (no. 192). 7. Julius Fürst, ed., Henriette Herz: Ihr Leben und Ihre Erinnerungen (Berlin: W. Hertz, 1850), 109. 8. Theodor W. Adorno, Hegel: Three Essays (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993), 53. 9. Ibid., 109f. 10. Ibid., 110. 11. Ibid., 111. See also Ruth Drucilla Richardson, The Role of Women in the Life and Thought of the Early Schleiermacher (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1991), 75. 12. Schlegel, Fragmente zur Poesie und Literatur, in KA 16: 233 (VIII.30). 13. Friedrich Schlegel, Lucinde, KA 5: 9. All translations from Lucinde are my own. 14. Friedrich Schlegel, “Brief über den Roman,” KA 2: 337: “Eine solche Theorie des Romans würde selbst ein Roman sein müssen.” 15. Friedrich Schlegel, Ideen, KA 2: 263 (no. 71): “Nur diejenige Verworrenheit ist ein Chaos, aus der eine Welt entspringen kann.” 16. Schlegel, Fragmente zur Poesie und Literatur, in KA 16: 353 (X.98): “Liebe und Ehe sind verschieden, aber vollendete Liebe geht in Ehe über, und so umgekehrt.” 17. Ibid., 16: 353 (X.88): “Liebe ist die Verbindung werdender Menschen; die Ehe aber vollendeter.” 18. Friedrich Schlegel, Athenäums-Fragmente, in KA 2: 245 (no. 419): “Göttlich ist was aus der Liebe zum reinen ewigen Sein und Werden quillt die höher ist als alle Poesie und Philosophie.” 19. Brentano, Werke, ed. Wolfgang Frühwald and Friedhelm Kemp (Munich: Hanser, 1963–68), 2: 73. 20. Schlegel, Lucinde, KA 5: 61. 21. Ibid., KA 5: 60. 22. Friedrich Schlegel, Philosophische Lehrjahre, KA 18: 283 (IV.1048): “wechselnd zwischen Chaos und System, Chaos zu System bereitend und dann neues Chaos.” 23. Schlegel, Fragmente zur Poesie und Literatur, in KA 16: 221 (VII.241). 24. Friedrich Schlegel, Philosophische Lehrjahre, Beilage, KA 18: 511 (Beil. I, 64): “Erkennen bezeichnet schon ein bedingtes Wissen. Die Nichterkennbarkeit des Absoluten ist also eine identische Trivialität.”

notes to pages 158–164


25. Schlegel, KA 16: 235 (VIII.53); Schlegel writes Gegenstand der Liebe, which would seem to mean “object of love,” but the context suggests that he means instead the subject (of discussion) of love. 26. Karen Horney, Feminine Psychology (New York: W. W. Norton, 1967). 27. Johann Christoph Gottsched, Erste Gründe der Gesamten Weltweisheit— Darinn alle philosophischen Wissenschaften in ihrer natürlichen Verknüpfung abge­ handelt werden (Leipzig: Bernhard Christoph Breitkopf, 1734), 2: 215 28. J. G. Fichte, The Foundations of Natural Right, according to the Principles of the Wissenschaftslehre, ed. Frederick Neuhouser, trans. Michael Baur (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 273. 29. Schlegel, Lucinde, KA 5: 85: “Denn der Fleiß und der Nutzen sind die Todesengel mit dem feurigen Schwerdt, welche dem Menschen die Rückkehr ins Paradies verwehren.” 30. Schlegel, KA 16: 249 (VIII.207). 31. Fichte, Grundlage des Naturrechts, Sämmtliche Werke 1.4: 138 (§41). 32. Ibid., 1.4: 138 (§41): “besondere Pflicht, gerade dieses Kind zu erhalten.” 33. Ibid., 1.4: 139 (§42): “eben darum, weil er ein allgemeiner Trieb ist, der sich auf den Anblick der Hülflosigkeit, als solcher gründet, so spricht er für jedes Kind.” 34. Ibid., 1.4: 139 (§42). 35. Ibid., 1.4: 139 (§42). 36. Edward C. Halper, “Hegel’s Family Values,” Review of Metaphysics 54 (June 2001): 815–58. 37. Kuno Fischer, Zur hundertjährigen Geburtstagsfeier Franz von Baaders (Erlangen: Besold, 1865), 5. 38. Ibid., 5. 39. Baader, Sämmtliche Werke, 6: 343–46: “Die Liebe selber ist ein Kind der in Liebe sich Verbindenden.” 40. Hegel, Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 14.1: 153: “eine für sich seyende Existenz und Gegenstand.” 41. Ibid., 14.1: 153 (§173); G. W. F. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, trans. H. B. Nisbett (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 210. 42. Plato, The Symposium, trans. R. E. Allen, The Dialogues of Plato, vol. 2 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991), 150 (206b); see also Sylviane Agacinski, La métaphysique des sexes (Paris: Seuil, 2005), 23. 43. Baader, Sämmtliche Werke, 6: 344: “Dass die Liebe selber in ihrem Urstande nur ein Kind ist, aber ein Kind, das die liebenden Eltern in sich empfangen und . . . nicht wie das durch Fortpflanzung gewordene Kind von und aus sich gebären.” 44. Ibid., 6: 345: : “dass Er in ihnen sich Selber zum Kinde wieder eingebären.” 45. Ibid., 6: 345: “eben so bewusstlos und blind werkzeuglich … wie durch die Thiere.” 46. Ibid., 6: 344: “sie in die Vergangenheit zurücksetzt.” 47. Ibid., 6: 346: “unsere theils fad sentimentalen, theils roh materialistischen Dichterlinge.”


notes to pages 164–170

48. “Entartung der Geschlechtspotenzen.” The expression Geschlechtspotenzen makes clear the extent of the debt Baader’s philosophy or eros owes to Schelling’s system. In Schelling’s first mature system (1797 until the so-called positive philosophy of the 1820s), powers (Potenzen) of the Absolute constituted the central systematic legerdemain of the “deduction of the thing-in-itself”; see, e.g., Manfred Frank, Eine Einführung in Schellings Philosophie (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1995), 103f. 49. Baader, Sämmtliche Werke, 6: 344. 50. Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums (Dresden: Waltersche Hofbuchhandlung, 1811), 2: 66. 51. Michael Wetzel, Mignon: Die Kindsbraut als Phantasma der Goethezeit (Munich: Fink, 1999); Catriona MacLeod, “Pedagogy and Androgyny in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre,” MLN 108, no. 3 (1993): 389–426. 52. Achim Aurnhammer, Androgynie: Studien zu einem Motiv in der eu­ ropäischen Literatur (Cologne: Böhlau, 1986), 197; Sara Friedrichsmeyer, The An­ drogyne in Early German Romanticism (Bern: Peter Lang, 1983), 110. 53. Friedrich Schlegel, “Über die Diotima,” KA 1: 92. 54. Schlegel, Lucinde, KA 5: 15. 55. Erich Schmidt, ed., Caroline: Briefe aus der Frühromantik (Leipzig: Insel, 1913), 1: 514. 56. Schlegel, Lucinde, KA 5: 16. 57. Friedrich Schlegel, Lucinde, KA 5: 14. 58. Ibid., 5: 15: “alle die Reste von falscher Schaam.” 59. Ibid., 5: 15: “wie ich oft die fatalen Kleider von dir riß und in schöner Anarchie umherstreute.” 60. Ibid., 5: 9: “alles was wir Ordnung nennen vernichten.” 61. Ibid., 5: 11: “unteilbar wie eine Person.” 62. Schlegel, “Fragmente zur Poesie und Literatur,” KA 16: 87 (V.27): “Totalität der Vereinigung.” 63. Ibid. 64. Schlegel, Lucinde, 5: 80: “über die Möglichkeit einer dauernden Umarmung.” 65. Ibid., 5: 14. 66. Inge Hoffmann-Axthelm, “Geisterfamilie”: Studien zur Geselligkeit der Frühromantik (Frankfurt: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft, 1973), 121. 67. Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, Erster Entwurf eines Systems der Naturphilosophie (Leipzig: Gabler, 1799), 42. 68. Ibid., 41. 69. Ibid., 50. 70. Daniel J. Hoolsema, “The Echo of an Impossible Future in The Literary Absolute,” MLN 119 (2004): 845–68. 71. Jean-Luc Nancy and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, The Literary Absolute: The Theory of Literature in German Romanticism (Albany: SUNY Press, 1988), 55.

notes to pages 170–176


72. Catriona MacLeod, Embodying Ambiguity: Androgyny and Aesthet­ ics from Winckelmann to Keller (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998), 66–72. 73. Hans Eichner, “Einleitung,” in Friedrich Schlegel, Dichtungen, KA 5: lviii. 74. Dorothea Schlegel to Friedrich Schleiermacher, April 16, 1801, Dorothea von Schlegel und deren Söhne Johannes und Philpp Veit—Briefwechsel, ed. J. M. Raich (Mainz: Kirchheim, 1881), 71: “Der arme Mann muss sich doch auch wider viel gefallen lassen, von dem ihm nichts träumte, so lange er noch als Idee spukte.” 75. All citations follow the Ullstein edition of the text: Dorothea Schlegel, Flo­ rentin—Roman, Fragmente, Varianten, ed. Liliane Weissberg (Frankfurt: Ullstein, 1986). All translations from the novel are my own. 76. Martha B. Helfer, “Dorothea Veit-Schlegel’s Florentin: Constructing a Feminist Romantic Aesthetic,” German Quarterly 69, no. 2 (1996): 150. 77. Schlegel, Florentin, 46 78. Ibid., 99: “beschrieb sie mit der größten Genauigkeit und ganz gelassen die Gestalt des Kinden, das sie zu ihren Füßen an das Bett gelehnt stehen sah.” 79. Ibid., 99: “sie sähe es in der Tat vor sich.” 80. Ibid., 100: “Spur von irgendeiner Krankheit.” 81. Ibid., 100: “sie gebot ihm, sich vom Bett zu entfernen; es ging zurück; drauf winkte sie ihm wieder, und es kam näher.” 82. Ibid., 100: “machte es . . . eine Gebärde mit Kopf und Schultern, als wollte es ihr zu verstehen geben, dies sei über seine Macht.” 83. Ibid., 101: “die kleine Gestalt mit wahrer mütterlicher Leidenschaft.” 84. Ibid., 101: “dann wich das Luftbild von ihren Händen zurück und ließ sich ebensowenig ergreifen, als die farbige Gestalt des Regenbogens.” 85. Arthur Schopenhauer, “Versuch über das Geistersehen und was damit zusammenhängt,” in Parerga und Paralipomena—Kleine philosophische Schriften, vol. 1 (Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1877), 318. 86. Franz von Baader, “Über die Analogie des Erkenntnis und Zeugungstriebes,” Sämmtliche Werke, 1: 39–48. 87. Ibid., 1: 40n: “ein sich zum Grund und Träger machen.” 88. Schlegel, Florentin, 102: “Mir war, als wären mir sowohl die Begebenheiten, als die Menschen darin nicht fremd.” 89. Ibid., 75: “wie ich in diesem Kinde erst meine Kindheit genießen wollte, die mir selbst so getrübt war.” 90. Helfer, “Dorothea Veit-Schlegel’s Florentin,” 151. 91. Liliane Weissberg, “The Master’s Theme and Some Variations: Dorothea Schlegel’s Florentin as Bildungsroman,” Michigan Germanic Studies 13, no. 2 (1987): 174. 92. MacLeod, Embodying Ambiguity, 70–73. 93. Helfer, “Dorothea Veit-Schlegel’s Florentin,” 159.


notes to pages 177–182

Chapter Five 1. Kurt Nowak, Schleiermacher: Leben, Werk und Wirkung (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002), 79–87. 2. Schleiermacher to Charlotte Schleiermacher, November 21, 1797, KGA 5.1:213: “Schlegel spielte mir . . . einen klein Poßen, indem er sie aufhezte im Chore in seinen alten Wunsch einzustimmen, daß ich nemlich nun auch fleißig seyn d.h. Bücher schreiben sollte. Neun und zwanzig Jahr, und noch nichts gemacht! Damit konnte er gar nich aufhören, und ich mußte ihm wirklich feierlich die Hand darauf geben, daß ich noch in diesem Jahr etwas eignes schreiben wollte— ein Versprechen, was mich schwer drükt, weil ich zur Schriftstellerei gar keine Neigung habe.” 3. On Henriette Herz’s salon, see Carol Diethe, Towards Emancipation: Ger­ man Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century (New York: Berghahn, 1998), 18–24; on the theoretical underpinnings of Schlegel’s proposal for a “symphilosophy,” see Jean-Luc Nancy and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, The Literary Absolute: The Theory of Literature in German Romanticism (Albany: SUNY Press, 1988), 45–46. 4. Julius Fürst, ed., Henriette Herz: Ihr Leben und Ihre Erinnerungen (Berlin: Hertz, 1850), 100. 5. F. D. E. Schleiermacher, Der Christliche Glaube: Nach den Grundsätzen der evangelischen Kirche im Zusammenhange dargestellt (1830/31) (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1999), 28. 6. Paul Kluckhohn, Die Auffassung der Liebe in der Literatur des 18. Jahrhun­ derts und in der deutschen Romantik (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1966), 451. 7. F. D. E. Schleiermacher, Grundlinien einer Kritik der bisherigen Sittenlehre, KGA 3.1: 270–71. 8. Ibid., 3.1: 277. 9. Ibid., 3.1: 280. 10. Kluckhohn, Die Auffassung der Liebe in der Literatur des 18. Jahrhunderts und in der deutschen Romantik, 453. 11. This is one of the central contentions of Peter Fenves’s article “Marital, Martial, Maritime Law— Toward Some Controversial Passages in Kant’s Doctrine of Right,” Diacritics 35, no. 4 (2005): 101–20. 12. Schleiermacher’s Vertraute Briefe, for instance, takes particular issue with F. Schlegel’s claim that friendship between men and women was impossible—Schleiermacher is adamant in incorporating friendship into love. F. D. E. Schleiermacher, Vertraute Briefe über Friedrich Schlegels Lucinde, in Schriften aus der Berliner Zeit, 1800–1802, KGA 1.3: 112; see also Betty Heimann. “Die Freundschaft in Schleiermachers Leben und Lehre,” in Romantik-Forschungen (Halle: DVJs, 1929), 12f. 13. See for example Kluckhohn, Die Auffassung der Liebe in der Literatur des 18. Jahrhunderts und in der deutschen Romantik, 384.

notes to pages 184–190


14. G. W. F. Hegel, “Moralität, Liebe, Religion,” Werke (Suhrkamp), 1: 247: “Der Zorn der Liebe über Individualität ist die Scham.” 15. See for instance Liliane Weissberg, “Nachwort” to Florentin, by Dorothea Schlegel (Frankfurt: Ullstein, 1986), 208f. 16. Ruth Drucilla Richardson, “Schleiermacher’s 1800 ‘Versuch über die Schaamhaftigkeit’: A Contribution to a Truly Human Ethic,” in Schleiermacher in Context, ed. Ruth Drucilla Richardson (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1988), 65–108. 17. F. D. E. Schleiermacher, Vertraute Briefe über Friedrich Schlegels Lucinde, in Schriften aus der Berliner Zeit, 1800–1802, KGA 1.3: 176. 18. Schleiermacher, KGA 1.2: 153–54. 19. Ibid., 1.2: 154: “unendliche Menschheit, die da war, ehe sie die Hülle der Männlichkeit und Weiblichkeit annahm.” 20. Kurt Nowak, Schleiermacher und die Frühromantik (Weimar: Hermann Böhlau, 1986), 279. 21. Ibid., 281. 22. F. D. E. Schleiermacher, “Versuch einer Theorie des geselligen Betragens (1799),” in Schriften aus der Berliner Zeit, KGA 1.2: 174: “behandelt, verbindet, ausbildet und mittheilt.” 23. Ibid., 1.2: 175: “eigenthümliche Manier.” 24. Ibid., 1.2: 177. 25. Ibid., 1.2: 178. 26. Ibid., 1.2: 176: “in kleine Zirkel gleichsam unwillkührlich durch chemische Ähnlichkeit krystallisiren.” 27. Ibid., 1.2: 177. 28. Ibid., 1.2: 179: “von einer Seite noch frei, nämlich der häuslichen.” 29. Kant, AA 8: 38; Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy, trans. Mary J. Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 19. 30. Schleiermacher, Vertraute Briefe über Friedrich Schlegels Lucinde, KGA 1.3: 155: “In dieser Rathlosigkeit, auf wen sollen sie [i.e. the men] denn achten, als auf edle Frauen, deren Beruf doch einmal die Liebe ist.” 31. Ibid., 1.3: 156: “Deinen Beruf zum Reden.” 32. Ibid., 1.3: 156: “Du hast dies bei literarischen, moralischen und politischen Gegenständen gethan, die Dir bei weitem nicht so nahe lagen, als dieser, . . . und mit denen wir Männer am Ende ohne Euch fertig werden können, was hiebei schlechterdings unmöglich ist.” 33. Ibid., 1.3: 158: “Die Liebe ist ein unendlicher Gegenstand für die Reflexion, und so soll auch ins Unendliche darüber nachgedacht werden, und Nachdenken findet nicht Statt ohne Mittheilung und zwar zwischen denen, welche ihrer Natur nach verschiedene Seiten derselben sehen.” 34. Cited in Kluckhohn, Die Auffassung der Liebe in der Literatur des 18. Jahrhunderts und in der deutschen Romantik, 429; see also: Paul Kluckhohn,


notes to pages 190–199

Persönlichkeit und Gemeinschaft: Studien zur Staatsauffassung der deutschen Ro­ mantik (Halle: M. Niemeyer, 1925), 22: “Die Liebe geht darauf aus, aus zweien Eins zu machen, die Freundschaft darauf, aus jedem zwei zu machen.” 35. Kluckhohn, Die Auffassung der Liebe in der Literatur des 18. Jahrhunderts und in der deutschen Romantik, 430. 36. Michel Foucault, “Friendship as a Way of Life,” in Ethics: The Essential Writings of Michel Foucault, 1954–84, ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: New Press, 2006), 1: 135–40. 37. Marc Shell, Children of the Earth: Literature, Politics, and Nationhood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993). 38. Rainer Schäfer, “Hegels identitätstheoretische Deutung des Urteils,” in He­ gels Lehre vom Begriff, Urteil und Schluss, ed. Andreas Arndt, Christian Iber, and Günter Kruck (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2006), 52. 39. Dieter Henrich, Identität und Objektivität: Eine Untersuchung über Kants transzendental Deduktion (Heidelberg: Winter, 1976); see also Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), 56. 40. F. H. Bradley, Appearance and Reality: A Metaphysical Essay (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), 140ff. 41. G. W. F. Hegel, Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften I, Werke (Suhrkamp), 8: 331–33 (§§180–81). 42. Wolfdietrich Schmied-Kowarzik, “Die Bedeutung der ‘Mitten’ des Bewusstsein (Sprache, Arbeit, Familie) in Hegels Systementwurf von 1803/04 und die spätere veränderte Konzeption,” in Die Eigenbedeutung der Jenaer Systemkonzep­ tionen Hegels, ed. Heinz Kimmerle (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2004), 135–48. 43. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 12: 163. 44. Ibid., 6: 275. 45. Ibid., 6: 302n. 46. Ibid., 6: 302n. 47. Ibid., 9: 243. 48. Ibid., 9: 249. 49. Ibid., 9: 241. 50. Ibid., 9: 244. 51. Ibid., 9: 247. 52. Ibid., 9: 250. 53. Hegel, Nürnberger Schriften, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 10:92. 54. Hegel, Encyclopädie I, Werke (Suhrkamp), 8: 81 (§24). 55. L. Bruno Puntel, Darstellung, Methode, Struktur (Hegel Studien Beiheft) (Bonn: Bouvier, 1993), 29–46, 322–35. 56. Angelica Nuzzo, “Hegel’s Auffassung der Philosophie als System und die drei Schlüsse der Enzyklopädie,” in Hegels Enzyklopädisches System der Philoso­ phie: Von der “Wissenschaft der Logik” zur Philosophie des absoluten Geistes, ed.

notes to pages 200–208


Hans-Christian Lucas, Burkhard Tuschling, and Ulrich Vogel (Stuttgart: Frommann Holzboog, 2004), 476. 57. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 12: 103: “Erfüllung der Copula.” 58. Emil Angehm, Freiheit und System bei Hegel (Berlin: Walther de Gruyter, 1977), 73. 59. Herbert Schnädelbach, Hegels praktische Philosophie (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2000), 256. 60. Halper, “Hegel’s Family Values,” 819. 61. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 14.1: 144 (§158); Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 199. 62. Adriaan Peperzak, Modern Freedom—Hegel’s Legal, Moral and Political Philosophy (Berlin: Springer, 2001), 408. 63. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 14.1: 144 (§158); Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 199. 64. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 14.1: 34 (§7); Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 43. 65. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 14.1: 144 (§158); Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 199. 66. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 14.1: 148 (§165). 67. Ibid., 14.1: 144 (§166); Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 206. 68. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner). 9: 24; The Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), 16. 69. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 14.1: 42 (§22); Elements of the Philoso­ phy of Right, 53f. 70. Harry G. Frankfurt, The Reasons of Love (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006). 71. Alice Ormiston, Love and Politics: Re-interpreting Hegel (Albany: SUNY Press, 2004), 65–70. 72. Hegel, Gesammelte Werke (Meiner), 14.1: 147 (§164); Elements of the Phi­ losophy of Right, 204: “diese Verbindung nur durch das Vorangehen dieser Ceremonie als der Vollbringung des Substantiellen durch das Zeichen, die Sprache, als das geistigste Daseyn des Geistigen als sittlich constituirt ist.” 73. Hegel, Werke (Suhrkamp), 1: 231.

Chapter Six 1. Bärbel Becker-Cantarino, “Priesterin und Lichtbringerin. Zur Ideologie des weiblichen Charakters in der Frühromantik,” in Die Frau als Heldin und Auto­ rin: Neue Kritische Ansätze zur deutschen Literatur, ed. Wolfgang Paulsen (Bern: Francke, 1977), 111–24. 2. Mereau is of course anything but alone in drawing practical conclusions from


notes to pages 208–212

Fichte’s theoretical philosophy. After all, Fichte himself intended to unite theoretical and practical philosophy and emphasized that what ultimately authorized his system, the self-positing subject, in fact derived precisely from a free, that is, practical, action (Thathandlung) rather than any one fact (Thatsache). The work’s “metaphysical pathos” (as A. O. Lovejoy has called it) and Fichte’s reputation as political firebrand thus encouraged a political and practical reading of the Wissen­ schaftslehre. Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), 1. 3. J. W. Goethe, Die Wahlverwandtschaften, Sämtliche Werke (Stuttgart: J. G. Cotta, 1902–12), 19: 174: “Freiwillige Abhängigkeit ist der schönste Zustand, und wie wäre der möglich ohne Liebe.” 4. Katharina von Hammerstein, Sophie Mereau-Brentano —Freiheit, Liebe, Weiblichkeit: Trikolore sozialer und individueller Selbstbestimmung um 1800 (Heidelberg: Winter, 1994). 5. Sophie Mereau to Immanuel Kant, December 1795, in Dagmar von Gersdorff, Dich zu lieben kann ich nicht verlernen—Das Leben der Sophie Brentano-Mereau (Frankfurt a. M.: Insel, 1984), 62. 6. The poems are collected in Sophie Mereau’s Nachlass, part of the Varnhagen collection in the Biblioteka Jagiellonska, Krakow (box 122). For a list of the collection as originally housed in the Staatsbibliothek Berlin, see Ludwig Stern. Die Varnhagen von Ensesche Sammlung in der Königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin: Behrend, 1911). 7. Intelligenzblatt der Allgemeinen Literatur Zeitung, April 16, 1796. 8. Gersdorff, Dich zu lieben kann ich nicht verlernen, 62. 9. See also Gisela Horn, ed., Romantische Frauen: Caroline Michaelis-BöhmerSchlegel-Schelling, Dorothea Mendelssohn-Veit-Schlegel, Sophie Schubart-MereauBrentano (Rudolfstadt: Hain, 1996); Katja Behrens, ”Alles aus Liebe, sonst geht die Welt unter”: Sechs Romantikerinnen und ihre Lebensgeschichte (Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg, 2006). 10. Gersdorff, Dich zu lieben kann ich nicht verlernen, 49: “What Sophie Mereau describes in 1794 anticipates already Romantic positions.” 11. See Paul Kluckhohn, Die Deutsche Romantik (Leizpig: Velhagen & Klasing, 1924), 27. 12. Cf. Hermann Moens, “Nachwort,” in Sophie Mereau, Blüthenalter der Emp­ findung (Stuttgart: Akademischer Verlag, 1981), 8. Sara Friedrichsmeyer similarly claims that the women of Jena Frühromantik insisted on the centrality of politics and political practice at a time when the revolutionary fervor of their husbands and partners had long waned. Sara Friedrichsmeyer. “Caroline Schlegel-Schelling: ‘A Good Woman, and No Heroine,’ ” in In the Shadow of Olympus: German Women Writers around 1800, ed. Katherine R. Goodman and Edit Waldstein (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992), 115–37. 13. Here the dichotomy between two gendered Romanticisms introduced by Anne K. Mellor encounters problems when applied to German Romanticism. Mel-

notes to pages 213–216


lor assigns to “feminine Romanticism” a “subjectivity constructed in relation to other subjectivities,” a self that “typically located its identity within a . . . family or social community,” all of which is indubitably true for Mereau (as well as for D. Schlegel and Therese Huber). But Mellor goes on to claim that “feminine” Romanticism rejected “violent military revolution, especially the French Revolution.” While this may or may not be true for British Romanticism (from which Mellor derives her dichotomy), it clearly does not obtain in the German context. Romanti­ cism and Gender (London: Routledge, 1992), 209. 14. Theodore Ziolkowski, Das Wunderjahr in Jena (Stuttgart: Klett Cotta, 1998), 11ff. 15. Sophie Mereau, Blüthenalter der Empfindung, ed. Hermann Moens (Stuttgart: Verlag Hans-Dieter Heinz /Akademischer Verlag, 1981), 36: “die neuen Scenen, die in Galliens Hauptstadt spielten.” All citations from Blüthenalter der Empfindung follow the Akademischer Verlag reprint. 16. Ibid., 40: “Die Sprache ist nur Folge der Empfindung. Der wahre Augenblick der Empfindung duldet keine Sprache.” 17. Ibid., 16: “Die treffendste Schilderung der Liebe ist, daß sie nicht geschildert werden kann.” 18. Ibid., 64: “Sind Empfindungen nicht heilig? . . . Sind sie nicht die reine gött­ liche Sprache, durch welche Natur zu uns redet?” 19. Manfred Engel, Der Roman der Goethezeit, vol. 1: Anfänge in Klassik und Frühromantik, Transzendentale Geschichten (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1993), 9. 20. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 28. 21. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, or On Education, Allan Bloom, trans. (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 40; Oeuvres Complètes (Paris: Gallimard, 1969), 4: 249: “Good social institutions are those that know . . . how to take [man’s] absolute existence from him in order to give him a relative one and to transport his I into the community” (emphasis added). See also Thomas McFarland, Romanticism and the Heritage of Rousseau (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995). 22. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 5: “Alles trug so sichtbar die Farbe meiner innern Erscheinungen.” 23. Ibid., 6: “Wesen, dem es ein gleiches Bedürfnis wäre, die Menschen glücklich zu wissen.” 24. Ibid., 14: “Ich schloß die schöne Erscheinung in meine Arme, und schwelgte unersättlich in dieser lachenden Vorstellung.” See, e.g., Franz X. Eder, “Erfahrung oder Diskurs? Das onanistische Subjekt im späten 18. Jahrhundert,” in Erfahrung: Alles nur Diskurs? Zur Verwendung des Erfahrungsbegriffs in der Geschlechterge­ schichte, ed. Marguérite Bos et al. (Zürich: Chronos, 2004), 255–63. 25. Stephan K. Schindler, Eingebildete Körper: Phantasierte Sexualität in der Goethezeit (Tübingen: Stauffenburg Verlag, 2001); see also Thomas W. Laqueur, Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation (New York: Zone Books, 2003). 26. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 13: “Ich will nicht länger einer Neigung fröhnen, die mich entehrt.”


notes to pages 216–218

27. My reading here differs from those provided by both Katharina von Hammerstein and Sigrid Weigel. They read the scene as a twist on the female as a man’s “image” (what I call transcendental object). The woman attains existence first as an image constituted or projected by the man; but since that man is himself a feminine creation, projection of an explicitly female Verfasserin, the situation is ironized. On this view, this configuration allows Mereau to show to what extent female selfexamination in a phallocentric society is always already mediated through the male gaze. Seeing oneself as a woman requires seeing what a man sees when he looks at a woman. While I agree with the reading in terms of Mereau’s gender politics, I am afraid that it short shrifts the fact that it is not only Nanette who appears first as Albert’s image, but rather a couple of which Nanette is one part. While this fact may be unimportant to Weigel’s and Hammerstein’s readings, any reading in terms of the politics of marriage and coupledom can ill afford to ignore it. Hammerstein, Sophie Mereau-Brentano—Freiheit, Liebe, Weiblichkeit, 181; Sigrid Weigel, “Der schielende Blick: Thesen zur Geschichte weiblicher Schreibpraxis,” in Die verbor­ gene Frau (Hamburg: Argument-Verlag, 1983), 85. 28. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 13: “die leichte Wendung, mit der sie die Spitze auf ihren Gegner wandte.” 29. Moreover, the Rococo echoes of frivolity and Arcadian amorousness may well be a nod to Christoph Martin Wieland, with whom Mereau exchanged letters. 30. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 13: “Begierde, den Mund zu malen, der noch unsicht­ bar so sehr zu bezaubern verstand.” 31. Ziolkowski, Das Wunderjahr in Jena, 86. 32. Niklas Luhmann, Liebe als Passion—Zur Kodierung der Intimität (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2003); Love as Passion: The Codification of Intimacy, trans. Jeremy Gaines and Doris L. Jones (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1998). 33. Ziolkowski, Das Wunderjahr in Jena, 80, 83. 34. Moens, “Nachwort,” Blüthenalter, 10; Blüthenalter frequently traffics in ostentatiously literary plot devices: Albert’s trip to Italy, Lorenzo’s Werther-reenacting suicide, the villainous aristocrat hounding a loving couple, all these not only were stock narrative figures but by the time Mereau wrote Blüthenalter had long attained the status of cliché. A writer as engaged with literary production and transmission as Mereau (not to mention her voraciousness as a reader) would certainly recur to these stock topoi quite knowingly. 35. Sophie Mereau-Brentano, Kalathiskos (Heidelberg: L. Schneider, 1968), 2: 52–127; Sophie Mereau-Brentano, Liebe und allenthalben Liebe (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1996), 3: 147–179. 36. See Christa Bürger, Leben Schreiben—Die Klassik, die Romantik und der Ort der Frauen (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1990); Uta Fleischermann, Zwischen Aufbruch und Anpassung—Untersuchung zum Leben der Sophie Mereau (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1989).

notes to pages 218–222


37. “Die Flucht nach der Hauptstadt” first appeared in the Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1806 and is thus near-posthumous, but it is likely that it was this story against the publication of which Friedrich Schiller advised in a letter dated July 1796—which places its probable date of composition closer to the publication of Blüthenalter. The text is the only one of Mereau’s to have been translated into English: Sophie Mereau, “Flight to the City,” trans. Jacqueline Vansant, in Bitter Healing: German Women Writers From 1700 to 1830, ed. Susanne Zantopp and Jeanine Blackwell (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990), 380–99.) 38. According to her diary, Mereau had read Wilhelm Meister intently, between November 1796 and January 1797. Whether she had read parts or all of it before that point is not known. 39. Mereau, Liebe und allenthalben Liebe, 2: 204: “den ersten Liebhaber, und er sagte es mir als solcher so oft, daß er mich liebte, bis er es endlich selbst empfand und ich es glaubte.” 40. Ibid., 2: 204: “Unsere Einbildung entbrannte immer mehr und mehr, und bald spielten wir in den zärtlichsten Rollen nur uns selbst.” 41. Ibid., 2: 204: “Nur ein Unglück schien uns noch zu fehlen, um unsern Vorbildern ganz ähnlich zu sein. Es blieb nicht aus.” 42. Marianne Thalmann, Der Trivialroman des 18. Jahrhunderts und der roman­ tische Roman (Berlin: Ebering, 1923). 43. Tacey A. Rosolowski, “Specular Reciprocity and the Construction of the Feminine in Friedrich Hölderlin’s Hyperion,” Modern Language Studies 25, no. 3 (1995), 43–75. 44. Mereau’s later short story “Julie von Arwian” rehearses a nearly Bovarian cautionary tale against the dangerous seductions of the romance. Julie falls prey to a fictional novel modeled on Madeleine de Scudéry’s Clélie and comes to identify entirely with the novel’s heroine. Mereau, Liebe und allenthalben Liebe, 2: 200. 45. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 70: “Was kümmerten mich äußere Verhältnisse? Was die Vergangenheit?” 46. Ibid., 16. 47. Ibid., 80: “Ich sah Nanetten oft, aber ich wünschte sie unaufhörlich zu sehn.” 48. Ibid., 80: “bat sie, ihr Schicksal ganz an das meinige zu ketten, und durch Befolgung der gesezlichen Formen hierbei allen lästigen Folgen auszuweichen.” 49. Ibid., 82: “Beide hielten jezt eine Erzählung für nothwendig, die uns allen so lange entbehrlich geschienen hatte.” 50. Allgemeines Landrecht für die Preussischen Staaten von 1794 (Frankfurt am Main: Metzer, 1970–73), 348. 51. Ibid., 350. 52. Ibid., 373. 53. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 90: “es blos mit einer gutherzigen Schwärmerin zu thun zu haben.”


notes to pages 222–229

54. Ibid., 91: “die kalten, unwiderlegbaren Gründe, die Nanette seinen hochgespannten, absichtlich verschönerten Schilderungen entgegn zu sezzen wußte.” 55. Ibid., 93: “Sie verlangte gleiche Rechte mit dem Manne, den sie lieben wollte.” 56. Ibid., 90. 57. Gersdorff, Dich zu lieben kann ich nicht verlernen, 59; Hammerstein, Sophie Mereau-Brentano—Freiheit, Liebe, Weiblichkeit, 184; Moens, “Nachwort,” Blüthe­ nalter, 10. 58. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 96: “den ungestörten Genuß ihrer Freiheit und ihrer Kräfte.” 59. Mereau, Liebe und allenthalben Liebe, 3: 126 (no. 73): “Männer und Weiber dürfen nicht gleich sein. Denn woher sonst Liebe?—Liebe ist ein Verlangen, das was uns fehlet, ersezt zu sehen—aus beidem wird der Mensch.” 60. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 96: “Ich verwies sie auf den Schuz der Gesezze, aber ich überzeugte sie nicht. Die Rechte, die Nanettens Bruder auf seine Schwester hatte, waren in den bürgerlichen Gesezzen gegründet. . . . Wo haben wohl Weiber das Recht, sich unmittelbar des Schuzzes der Gesezze freuen zu dürfen?” 61. Slavoj Zizek, “ ‘There Is No Sexual Relationship’: Wagner as a Lacanian,” New German Critique, no. 69 (Autumn 1996), 12. 62. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 99: “Was hat der Staat, was haben die Gesezze mit unsern Empfindungen gemein?” 63. Ibid.: “Können sie uns dieses ehrenvolle gegenseitige Vertrauen, unter dessen Himmel die zarte Blume ehelicher Liebe allein gedeihen kann, anbefehlen?” 64. Allgemeines Landrecht für die Preussischen Staaten von 1794, 346. 65. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 100: “War unser Vertrag auf Wahrhaftigkeit gegründet, so ist seine Dauer ewig, und war er es nicht, so ist er nie gewesen.” 66. Allgemeines Landrecht für die Preussischen Staaten von 1794, 367. 67. Dieter Schwab, “Jena und die Entdeckung der romantischen Ehe,” talk given at Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, June 1, 2004. 68. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 97: “Giebt es eine Form, die der Inhalt nicht heiligt?” 69. Ibid., 97–98: “Zwei freie Wesen schließen den Bund, gemeinschaftlich zu wirken, gemeinschaftlich Gutes zu thun, gemeinschaftlich zu leiden. Unser Bund besteht durch eigne Kraft. Nicht die zerbrechlichen Stüzzen von priesterlichem Seegen, von bürgerlicher Ehre, von kränkelnder Gewissenhaftigkeit halten ihn. Wir selbst sind uns Bürge für uns selbst.” 70. Allgemeines Landrecht für die Preussischen Staaten von 1794, 347. 71. J. G. Fichte, Grundlage des Naturrechts nach Principien der Wissenschaft­ slehre, in Sämmtliche Werke, 6: 315: “Aber die Ehe hat keinen Zweck außer ihr selbst; sie ist ihr eigener Zweck.” 72. Wilhelm von Humboldt, Werke, 1: 119: “in allen Verbindungen der Menschen untereinander und mit der natürlichsten, die für den einzelnen Menschen wie für den Staat die wichtigste ist, mit der Ehe.”

notes to pages 229–234


73. Ibid., 1: 119: “eine mit der jedsmaligen Beschaffenheit so eng verschwisterte Verbindung durch Gesetze zu bestimmen oder durch seine Einrichtungen von andren Dingen als von der bloßen Neigung abhängig zu machen.” 74. Humboldt, Werke, 1: 122: “Allein, der Fehler scheint mir darin zu liegen, daß das Gesetz befiehlt, da doch ein solches Verhältnis nur aus Neigung, nicht aus äußren Anordnungen entstehn kann, und wo Zwang und Leitung der Neigung widersprechen.” 75. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 98: “Weder Natur noch Vernunft lehrten die Menschen diese Vorkehrungen zu gebrauchen. Klugheit that es, eine Tugend, die erst aus den Trümmern menschlicher Unschult und Reinheit hervorwuchs, und durch Verdorbenheit nöthig ward.” 76. Gersdorff, Dich zu lieben kann ich nicht verlernen, 66. 77. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 98: “gebrechlichen Stützen von priesterlichem Segen, von bürgerlicher Ehre, von kränkelnder Gewissenhaftigkeit.” 78. Fichte, Werke, 1: 434: “Was für eine Philosophie man wähle, hängt sonach davon ab, was man für ein Mensch ist: . . . Ein von Natur schlaffer oder durch Geistesknechtschaft, gelehrter Luxus und Eitelkeit erschlaffter und gekrümmter Charakter wird sich nie zum Idealismus erheben” 79. See for example Moens, “Nachwort,” Blüthenalter, 10. 80. Blüthenalter, 100: “bei ihrer Widerlegung, nur auf die Wirklichkeit Rück­ sicht zu nehmen, und die gegenwärtige Verfassung der Welt mit keiner idealischen verwechseln zu lassen.” On the biographical evidence that Mereau shared the skepticism she has Nanette and her aunt espouse, see Katharina von Hammerstein, “ ‘Schaffen wir uns neue Welten’—Ein Nachwort zu Schreibspuren in Sophie Mereau-Brentanos Lyrik und Erzählungen,” in Sophie Mereau-Brentano, Mereau, Liebe und allenthalben Liebe, 2: 236. 81. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 99: “Hätte ich nur Lorenzo’s seelenzwingende Beredtsamkeit.” 82. Allgemeine Literatur Zeitung 3, no. 180 (July 1795): 1–4: “eine Reihe von Gemälden.” 83. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 11: “in meine gewöhnlichen süßen Träumereien verloren.” 84. Ibid., 91: “hochgespannten, absichtlich verschönerten Schilderungen.” 85. Ibid., 16. 86. Franz X. Eder, “Discourse and Sexual Desire: German-Language Discourse on Masturbation in the Late Eighteenth Century,” Journal of the History of Sexual­ ity 13, no. 4 (October 2004): 440. 87. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Confessions, ed. P. N. Furbank (New York: Knopf, 1992), 34; Les Confessions, (Paris: Perroneau, 1819), 1: 130. 88. Stephan K. Schindler, “The Critic as Pornographer: Male Fantasies of Female Reading in Eighteenth-Century Germany,” Eighteenth-Century Life 20, no. 3 (1996): 75.


notes to pages 234–237

89. Helga Meise, Die Unschuld und die Schrift—Deutsche Frauenromane im 18. Jahrhundert (Berlin: Guttandin & Hoppe, 1983), 73–74. 90. Clemens Brentano to Sophie Brentano, 1797, Das unsterbliche Leben. Un­ bekannte Briefe von Cl. Brentano, ed. Wilhelm Schellberg and Friedrich Fuchs (Jena: Diederich, 1939), 96. 91. Friedrich Schlegel to August Wilhelm Schlegel, May 27, 1796 (Friedrich Schlegel, Briefe an seinen Bruder August Wilhelm, ed. Oskar Walzel (Berlin: Speyer & Peters, 1890), 278: “Anfangs tritt ein junges Wesen auf, in dem alle möglichen Gefühle Purpurisch durcheinanderfluthen. Es sizt dabey ganz gelassen im Grase. Ich sage es, weil ich gewiß glaubte, es sey ein Mädchen; es sollte aber ein Junge seyn.” 92. Ibid. It has been widely suggested that Schlegel’s joke masks the embarrassment at having his own amorous overtures rebuked by Mereau earlier that year. 93. Simon Richter, “Wet-Nursing, Onanism, and the Breast in EighteenthCentury Germany,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 7 (1996); 17–19. 94. Laqueur, Solitary Sex. 95. Mereau-Brentano, Kalathiskos, 1: 32–39. 96. Britta Hannemann, Weltliteratur für Bürgertöchter: Die Übersetzerin Sophie Mereau-Brentano (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2005), 200. 97. In an alternate ending to the aforementioned “Julie von Arwian,” the protagonist similarly drowns herself in the spielende Flut, the ultimate upshot of her fatal attraction to the sphere of fiction. Here too, then, Narcissus is a (female) reader. Mereau, Liebe und allenthalben Liebe, 3: 137 (no. 76). 98. On Mereau’s engagement with the figure of Ninon de Lenclos, see Helen M. Kastinger Riley, Sechs Essays über künstlerisch schaffende Frauen der Goethezeit (Columbia, SC: Camden House, 1986). 99. The episode appears in chapter 6 of Charles Henry Robinson and William Hassell Overton’s Life, Letters and Epicurean Philosophy of Ninon de L’Enclos, The Celebrated Beauty of the Seventeenth Century (Chicago: Lion , 1903). 100. Mereau, Liebe und allenthalben Liebe, 3: 152. 101. Blüthenalter, 13; Mereau, Liebe und allenthalben Liebe, 1: 14. 102. Robinson and Overton give the following English translation: “Unworthy my flame, unworthy a tear, / I rejoice to renounce thy feeble allure; / My love lent thee charms that endear, / Which, ingrate, thou couldst not procure.” Letters and Epicurean Philosophy of Ninon de L’Enclos, 19–20. 103. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 12; Mereau, Liebe und allenthalben Liebe, 1: 14: “Du selbst warst meiner Liebe nicht werth, nur die Liebe lieh dir Reize, die du nicht wirklich hast.” 104. Søren Kierkegaard, Stages on Life’s Way, trans. Walter Lowrie (New York: Schocken, 1967), 68. 105. Lothar Schmidt’s later translation of the Briefe der Ninon de Lenclos (1903) similarly translates insensible as gefühllos and indigne as unwürdig. Ninon de Lenclos, Die Briefe der Ninon de Lenclos (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1906). 106. Mereau-Brentano, Liebe und allenthalben Liebe, 3: 152.

notes to pages 237–243


107. Robinson and Overton translate: “Caring naught for thy flame, caring naught for thy tear, / I see thee renounce my feeble allure; / But if love lends charms that endear, / By borrowing thou mightst some procure.” Letters and Epicurean Philosophy of Ninon de L’Enclos, 20. 108. Mereau, Blüthenalter, 12: “Aber, wenn die Liebe Reize leiht, warum entlehnen Sie keine von ihr.” 109. Mereau, Liebe und allenthalben Liebe, 3: 108 (no. 22): “Es ist ein unwürdiges Vorurtheil, daß die freie Uebung der Kräfte, und Sinn für den lebendigen Genuß des Seins, den Werth des weiblichen Charackters vermindern und der sanften Anmuth ihres Wesens Gewalt anthun könne.”

Chapter Seven 1. Søren Kierkegaard. Søren Kierkegaards skrifter, Vol. 3: Enten—Eller 2, ed. Søren Kierkegaard Forskningscenteret (Copenhagen: Gad, 1997). The English translation follows: Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Part II, trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988). 2. Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Part II, 17. 3. Hegel, Werke (Suhrkamp), 12: 53. 4. Markus Kleinert, “Apparent and Hidden Relations between Kierkegaard and Jean Paul,” in Kierkegaard and His German Contemporaries, Vol. 3: Literature and Aesthetics, ed. Jon Stewart (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 164. 5. All citations from Jean Paul’s works follow the recent reprint edition of the collected works: Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke, ed. Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann and Norbert Miller (Frankfurt: Zweitausendeins, 1996). All translations are my own unless otherwise indicated. Citations from the correspondence and ancillary writings follow the complete edition of Jean Paul’s works, Sämtliche Werke, ed. Norbert Miller (Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1959–). 6. The first English edition in fact turned the subtitle into the title. The translation by Edward Henry Noel appeared with Sampson, Low, Marston Searle & Rivington in 1871 as Flower, Fruit and Thorn Pieces or the Married Life, Death and Wedding of the Advocate of the Poor, Firmian Stanislaus Siebenkäs. 7. Günter de Bruyn, Das Leben des Jean Paul Friedrich Richter (Halle/Saale: Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 1975), 165. 8. For a recent example see Dimitris Vardoulakis, “The Return of Negation: The Doppelgänger in Freud’s ‘The Uncanny,’ ” SubStance 35, no. 2 (2006): 100–116. Some scholarship amazingly falls into a third category, managing to comment on neither the marriage-theme nor the doppelganger, e.g., Hans Dahler, Jean Pauls Siebenkäs: Struktur und Grundbild (Bern: Francke, 1962). 9. On Jean Paul’s “squared subjects” (potenzierte Subjekte), see Paul Heinemann, Potenzierte Subjekte—Potenzierte Fiktionen (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2001), 193–203.


notes to pages 243–248

10. Jean-Marie Paul, “Amour de l’autre, amour du double et amour de soi dans le Siebenkäs de Jean Paul,” Romantisme: Revue du dix-neuvième siècle 18, no. 62 (1988): 75–87. 11. This second edition keeps the novel’s plot almost completely intact but nevertheless expands the book by nearly a third. As Elsbeth Dangel-Pelloquin has put it, most of that new substance is owed to a certain “theatricality” of the new edition: plot points previously just mentioned by the peripatetic narrator are now played out in detail before the reader. “Proliferation und Verdichtung—Zwei Fassungen des Siebenkäs,” in Schrift und Schreibspiele—Jean Pauls Arbeit am Text, ed. Geneviève Espagne and Christian Hemreich (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2002), 35. 12. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Munich), 3.3: 139: “Fichte’s Theorie über die Geschlecht[er] durchaus falsch.” 13. Ibid., 3.3: 130. 14. Ibid., 3.2: 32. 15. Frederic Beiser, The Fate of Reason (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1987), 122. 16. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 199 (§158). 17. Cf. Dieter Borchmeier, Mozart oder die Erfindung der Liebe (Frankfurt: Insel, 2005), 39. 18. Paul Fleming, The Pleasures of Abandonment: Jean Paul and the Life of Humor (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2006), 56. 19. Jochen Golz, “Alltag und Öffentlichkeit in Jean Pauls Siebenkäs,” Jahrbuch der Jean-Paul-Gesellschaft 28 (1991–92): 169–82. 20. Elsbeth Dangel-Pelloquin, Eigensinnige Geschöpfe—Jean Pauls poetische Geschlechterwerkstatt (Freiburg: Rombach, 1999), 223. 21. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Munich), 2.2: 394 : “der eine glückliche Physiognomie hätte.” 22. Ibid., 2.2: 394: “Kosmogonie meiner Gattin.” 23. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt), 2: 121: “Protoplasten, oder das erste Eltern- und Hochzeitspaar.” 24. Of course, Jean Paul could not have known of Fichte’s paradigmatic formula for the autonomy of marriage in §4 of the “Deduction of Marriage,” which he would only read a year after writing the Siebenkäs. However, he would certainly have encountered it in Kant or in Humboldt, as well as (without the metaphysical baggage) in Hippel and others. 25. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt), 2: 39: “in einen Engel verschmelzen.” 26. Ibid., 2: 40: “die algebraische Gleichung . . . fortsetzen.” 27. Paul, “Amour de l’autre,” 79. 28. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt), 2: 41: “Leibgeber zog im Chore unter dem Ringwechsel eine Schere und ein schwarzes Quartblatt aus der Tasche und schnitt von ferne das Gesicht der Braut in sein Schattenpapier hinein.”

notes to pages 248–252


29. Ibid., 3: 1026: “Und dann ist das weite Karthago, die unendliche Stadt Gottes, zugeschnitten aus der Haut des Ichs.” 30. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Munich), 1.2: 67: “So heißen Leute, die sich selber sehen.” 31. Alexandra Giourtsi. Pädagogische Anthropologie bei Jean Paul (Ratingen bei Düsseldorf: Henn, 1966). 32. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt), 5: 684: “Ein Mann hat zwei Ich, eine Frau nur eines und bedarf des fremden, um ihres zu sehen”—woman “cannot see herself” (kann sich nicht selber sehen). 33. Ibid., 6: 1061: “hatte mein Ich zum ersten Male sich selber gesehen und auf ewig.” 34. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Munich), 1.2: 576. 35. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt), 2: 41: “seinen Leibgeber zu küssen, geschweige seine Lenette.” 36. Ralf Goebel, Philosophische Dichtung— dichtende Philosophie. Eine Un­ tersuchung zu Jean Pauls (Früh-)Werk unter Berücksichtigung der Schriften Johann Gottfried Herders und Friedrich Heinrich Jacobis (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2002). 37. It is only the editor’s rearrangement that produces the “madness” of which the introduction speaks (Dimitris Vardoulakis. “The Critique of Loneliness— Towards the Political Motives of the Doppelgänger,” Angelaki 9, no. 2 (August 2004): 81–101, here: 85). The solipsism that leaves Leibgeber stranded in the Garden of Gethsemane at the “end” of the “Clavis” in the version “Jean Paul” provides us with is drained of all comedy and satire, and instead attains the almost existential overtones to which philosophers have been drawn over the centuries. Sandra Hesse, “ ‘Mir (empirisch genommen) grauset vor mir (absolut genommen).’ Zur philosophischen Kritik und poetologischen Reflexion in Jean Pauls Clavis Fich­ tiana,” Jahrbuch der Jean-Paul-Gesellschaft 40 (2005): 137. 38. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt), 3: 1019: “der Übertritt meines guten . . . Leibgebers zur Wissenschaftslehre ist eine ganz natürliche Entwickelung seiner seltenen Natur.” 39. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt), 3: 1019. 40. Hesse, “ ‘Mir (empirisch genommen) grauset vor mir (absolut genommen),’ ” 134. 41. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt), 3: 1037: “der Demiurgos und der Bewindheber des Universums.” 42. Ibid., 3: 1037: “mithin auch die paar Bände, die Fichte geschrieben, weil ich ihn erst setzen oder machen muß, eh’ er eintunken kann.” 43. Ibid., 3: 1037: “daß er, als streng konsequenter Theoretiker, unmöglich mehrere Wesen glauben kann als sein eignes.” 44. Ibid., 3: 1039: “Gerade wie der Kantianer Gott und Unsterblichkeit, so postuliert Fichtes Ich Ichs.” 45. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Munich), 2.3: 195. 46. Franz von Baader, Sämmtliche Werke, 5: 340: “Firma Hans Stein & Comp.”


notes to pages 252–256

47. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Munich), 2.3: 195: “Dies ist ernsthaft gemeint.” 48. Ibid., 1.2: 574: “in gegenseitigem Erraten, halb in ihre Herzen, halb in die große Nacht verloren.” 49. Paul, “Amour de l’autre,” 76. 50. Dangel-Pelloquin, Eigensinnige Geschöpfe, 265. 51. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Munich), 1.2: 576: “und die Leiden unseres Freundes waren vorüber.” 52. Ibid., 2.3: 195. 53. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Munich), 3: 1031: “welche ungeheure[n] Zuschüsse und alles erfassende Stromarme dieses System durch die unabsehlichen Kombinationen der Chemie, Physik, Ästhetik, Moral und Metaphysik, des Brownianismus und Galvanismus und der Metaphern gewinnen müsse.” 54. Ibid., 3: 1031: “chemisch-metaphysisch-metaphorischen Sprache.” 55. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, The Science of Knowing: J. G. Fichte’s 1804 Lectures on the Wissenschaftslehre, trans. Walter E. Wright (Albany: SUNY Press, 2005), 192. 56. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt), 3: 1036: “Diese [Vernunft] kennt keine Geschöpfe als ihre; ihr Sehen ist nicht bloß ihr Licht . . . sondern auch ihr Objekt.” 57. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Munich), 1.2: 67: “So heißen Leute, die sich selber sehen.” 58. Sabine Eickenrodt, Augen-Spiel—Jean Pauls optische Metaphorik der Un­ sterblichkeit (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2006), 214–23. 59. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt), 3: 1024: “Wäre nur die Sprache z. B. mehr von der hörbaren als von der sichtbaren Welt entlehnt: so hätten wir eine ganz andere Philosophie und wahrscheinlich eine mehr dynamische als atomistische.” 60. On Jean Paul’s critique of reflection in language, see Maximilian Berggruen, Schöne Seelen, groteske Körper—Jean Pauls ästhetische Dynamisierung der An­ thropologie (Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 2000), 137–40. 61. John 18:37–38. 62. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt), 3: 1024: “Z. B. die einzige optische Metapher Ein-, Vorbilden, Anschauen, Idee, Bild hat um die geistige Tätigkeit einen atomistischen Nebel und Dunst gezogen, den uns eine akustische ersparet hätte.” 63. On madness in the “Clavis Fichtiana,” see Vardoulakis, “Critique of Loneliness,” 85. 64. Hesse, “ ‘Mir (empirisch genommen) grauset vor mir (absolut genommen),’ ” 144. 65. Ibid.,144. 66. Cited in Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik (Munich: Hanser, 1963), 211: “nur der Zuhörer, nicht der Sprachlehrer seiner Charaktere.” 67. Ibid., 211: “Ihr müsset ihn hören, nicht bloß sehen.”

notes to pages 256–259


68. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt), 3: 1056: “Wer hört die Klage und kennt mich jetzt?—Ich.” 69. Baader, Sämmtliche Werke, 2: 179: “so würde ich ja umgekehrt mir dieses Objekt subjizieren, seine Objektivität aufheben, meine Liebe desselben würde keine, sondern nur Liebe meiner selbst, und mein vermeintes Ausgehen ein Inmiroder Daheimbleiben, d.h. eben das Gegenteil der Liebe sein.” 70. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Frankfurt), 3: 1056: “mir (empirisch gesprochen) grauset vor mir (absolut gesprochen).” 71. Ibid., 3: 1035: “Denn als Leibgeber bin ich endlich, und nur als Schöpfer dieses Leibgebers bin ich unendlich.” 72. Ibid., 3: 1032: “Da ich nach meiner ‘Wissenschaftslehre’ doch . . . der Pilatus und der Gekreuzigte zugleich bin, ja sogar der Vater des letztern.” 73. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Munich), 1.5: 173: “der verkleidete Priester, der jedes Paar kopuliert.” 74. Stephan K. Schindler, Eingebildete Körper: Phantasierte Sexualität in der Goethezeit (Tübingen: Stauffenburg Verlag, 2001), 69–71. 75. Simon Richter, “Priapean Fantasies: The Sexual Politics of Weimar Classicism,” in Imagination und Sexualität: Pathologisierte Einbildungskraft im med­ izinischen Diskurs der frühen Neuzeit, ed. Stefanie Zaun, Daniela Watzke, and Jörn Steigerwald (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 2004), 193–95. 76. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl,” in Ten­ dencies (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993), 117. 77. Michel Foucault, Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1974–1975 (New York: Picador, 1999), 233. 78. Anne C. Vila, Enlightenment and Pathology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press), 1998. 79. Foucault, Abnormal, 234. 80. On the teleological argument Kant offers against masturbation, see, e.g., Paul Guyer, Kant’s System of Nature and Freedom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 192f. 81. It is important to note that the Metaphysics of Morals postdates Siebenkäs by three years, though of course the text is roughly contemporaneous with the “Clavis.” Collins’s lecture notes, however, date from the winter semester 1784/85 and thus predate Jean Paul’s mature work by nearly a decade, during which the author was constantly involved in the reception and critique of the critical project. 82. AA 27: 392; Immanuel Kant, Lectures on Ethics, trans. Jerome Schneewind (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 161. 83. Vardoulakis. “The Critique of Loneliness,” 85. 84. Sedgwick, “Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl,” 111. 85. Thomas Laqueur, Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation (New York: Zone Books, 2003), 54. 86. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Munich), 1.5: 820.


notes to pages 260–268

87. Vogel, who was concerned mostly with female masturbation, is also the author of “Weiblicher Selbstmord als eine Folge eines geheimen Lasters (Aus dem Briefe des Arztes der Unglücklichen),” Berliner Monatsschift 10, no. 5 (1787): 60–63; see also Isabel V. Hull, Sexuality, State and Civil Society in Germany, 1700–1815 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996), 263. 88. Jean Paul, Sämtliche Werke (Munich), 1.5: 820: “Bildung zur Liebe.” 89. Slavoj Zizek, Tarrying with the Negative: Kant, Hegel and the Critique of Ideology (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993), 43. 90. J. W. Goethe, Die Wahlverwandtschaften, Sämtliche Werke, 19: 90: “ihre Rechte über das Wirkliche.” 91. Ibid., 19: 90: “Eduard hielt nur Ottilien in seinen Armen, Charlotten schwebte der Hauptmann näher oder ferner vor der Seele, und so verwebten, wundersam genug, sich Abwesendes und Gegenwärtiges reizend und wonnevoll durcheinander.” 92. Ibid., 19: 91. 93. Karl Rosenkranz, Göthe und seine Werke (Königsberg: Bornträger, 1847), 463: “moralischer Ehebruch.” 94. Arthur Schopenhauer, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1844), 2: 536: “Die wachsende Zuneigung zweier Liebenden ist eigentlich schon der Lebenswille des neuen Individuums, welches sie zeugen können und möchten.” 95. Baader, Sämmtliche Werke, 6: 344.

Chapter Eight 1. Arthur Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), 12. 2. Friedrich Schlegel, KA 21: 113: “wo jedes [Volk] das bleibt, was es ist und sein soll.” 3. Schlegel, “Von der Seele,” KA 8: 613. 4. Schlegel, “Die Philosophie des Lebens,” KA 10: 4: “allerlei metaphysische Luftgebäude oder dialektische Hirngespinste”; “in die Erde verirrt ” ; “gewaltsam in die äußere Wirklichkeit eingreifend, da alles nach ihren Ideen neu gestalten und reformieren.” 5. Klaus Peter, Friedrich Schlegel (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1978), 75. 6. Friedrich Schlegel, KA 10: 30. 7. Novalis, HKA 2: 471, no. 1109: “Gamism ist die Grundlage zum Patriotism.” 8. Schlegel, KA 10: 35. 9. Ibid., 10: 30. 10. Ibid., 10: 31. 11. Wilhelm von Humboldt, Werke, 1: 119: “für den einzelnen Menschen wie für den Staat die wichtigste ist.”

notes to pages 268–274


12. J. G. Fichte, Grundlage des Naturrechts nach Principien der Wissenschaft­ slehre, in Sämmtliche Werke, 6: 315: “Aber die Ehe hat keinen Zweck außer ihr selbst; sie ist ihr eigener Zweck.” 13. Ibid., 7: 411–27. 14. Ibid., 7: 425: “Das Grundgesetzt dieses kleinen Wirthschaftsstaates sey dieses, dass in ihm kein Artikel zu Speise, Kleidung . . . gebraucht werden dürfe, das nicht in ihm selbst erzeugt und verfertigt sey.” 15. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Émile, or Treatise on Education, trans. Allan Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 362. 16. Fichte, Werke, 7: 425. 17. G. W. F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 16. 18. See for example Karl Rosenkranz, “Die poetische Behandlung des Ehebruchs,” in Studien (Berlin: Jonas, 1839), 56–90. Max Stirner, “Einiges Vorläufige vom Liebesstaat,” Max Stirner’s Kleinere Schriften, ed. John Henry Mackay (Berlin: Schuster & Loeffler, 1898), 67–79. 19. On the (post-)Kantian legacy in Kierkegaard’s Either/Or, see Terry Pinkard, German Philosophy 1760–1860 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 349f. 20. Markus Kleinert, “Apparent and Hidden Relations between Kierkegaard and Jean Paul,” in Kierkegaard and His German Contemporaries, vol. 3: Literature and Aesthetics, ed. Jon Stewart (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 164. 21. Ellen Vedel, Goethes Clavigo og Enten-Eller: Et bidrag til studiet of Goethes betydning for Søren Kierkegaard (Copenhagen: Tegnernes, 1978), 11. 22. J. W. Goethe. Die Wahlverwandtschaften, Sämtliche Werke, 19: 174. 23. Arthur Schopenhauer, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung II, in Sämtliche Werke, 2: 682: “zwischen die Verhandlungen der Staatsmänner und die For­ schungen der Gelehrten störend mit ihrem Plunder einzutreten, ihre Liebesbriefchen und Haarlöckchen sogar in ministerielle Portefeuilles und philosophische Manuskripte einzuschieben.” 24. Ibid., 2: 682: “eine so wichtige Rolle zu spielen und unaufhörlich Störung und Verwirrung in das wohlgeregelte Menschenleben zu bringen.” 25. Ibid., 2: 697: “ist es nicht auf geistreiche Unterhaltung, sondern auf die Erzeugung der Kinder abgesehn: sie ist ein Bund der Herzen, nicht der Köpfe.” 26. Ibid., 2: 684. 27. Ibid., 2: 698. 28. Ibid., 2: 684. 29. Ibid., 2: 684. 30. Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation (New York: Dover, 1969), 1: 161. 31. Schopenhauer, Sämtliche Werke, 2: 688: “für den Bestand und die Beschaffenheit der Gattung tätig.” 32. Ibid., 2: 689: “der Sinn der Gattung.”


notes to pages 274–282

33. Ibid., 2: 684. 34. Ibid., 2: 715. 35. Wagner, “Über das Weibliche im Menschlichen,” 343: “Bildnerin der edlen Racen.” 36. Ibid., 342: “mit hellster Deutlichkeit . . . der Verfall der menschlichen Racen”; “auf Eigenthum und Besitz berechneten Konventions-Heirathen.” 37. See David Farrell Krell, Contagion: Sexuality, Disease, and Death in German Idealism and Romanticism (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1998). On the biologization of Schelling’s thought, see Robert J. Richards, The Romantic Concep­ tion of Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 291. 38. Schopenhauer, Sämtliche Werke, 2: 700: “den ihm fremden Norden.” 39. Charles de Secondat Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, trans. Anne M. Cohler, Basia Carolyn Miller, Harold Samuel Stone (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 231f. 40. Schopenhauer, Sämtliche Werke, 2: 701: “In der Geschlechtsliebe strebt daher die Natur zum dunkeln Haar und braunen Auge als zum Urtypus zurück.” 41. Johann Jakob Bachofen, Das Mutterrecht: Eine Untersuchung über die Gynaikokratie der alten Welt nach ihrer religiösen und rechtlichen Natur (Basel: Schwabe, 1897), xix: “Den Vertretern der Anschauung von der Notwendigkeit und Ursprünglichkeit der ehelichen Geschlechtsverbindung kann eine demütigende Überraschung nicht erspart werden.” 42. Bachofen, Das Mutterrecht, xviii. 43. Ibid., xix: “Sehnsucht nach geregelten Zuständen und einer reinern Gesittung.” 44. Ibid., viii: “wird die spätere Zeit vielmehr die Herrschaft der eigenen Ideen auf Tatsachen und Erscheinungen, die ihr fremdartig gegenüberstehen, zu erstrecken bestrebt sein.” 45. Ibid., xii: “Wo es der Verdrehungen, Anzweifelungen, Negationen bedarf, da wird die Fälschung stets auf der Seite des Forschers, nicht auf jener der Quellen und Überlieferungen, auf welche Unverstand, Leichtsinn und eitle Selbstvergötterung so gerne die eigene Schuld abwälzen, zu suchen sein.” 46. Hans-Georg Gadamer, “Hermeneutics and Historicism,” in Truth and Method (New York: Continuum, 2004), 509. 47. Adolf Trendelenburg, Die sittliche Idee des Rechts (Berlin: Bethge, 1849), 6. 48. Adolf Trendelenburg, Naturrecht auf dem Grunde der Ethik (Leipzig: Hirzel, 1868), 282. 49. Ibid., 277. 50. Ibid., 284. 51. Hermann Lotze, Grundzüge der praktischen Philosophie (Leipzig: Hirzel, 1884), 42. 52. Ibid., 42. 53. Ibid., 46.

notes to pages 282–289


54. Eduard von Hartmann, Geschichte der Metaphysik, vol. 2: Seit Kant (Leipzig: Haake, 1900), 594. 55. Friedrich Nietzsche, Unzeitgemäße Betrachtungen (Munich: Hanser, 1954), 267. 56. Eduard von Hartmann, Moderne Probleme (Leipzig: Friedrich, 1888), 36. 57. Ibid., 38. 58. Ibid., 43. 59. Ibid., 57. 60. Ibid., 59 61. Maria Raich, “Die Stellung der deutschen Philosophie der Gegenwart zur Frauenfrage,” Die Frau 14 (1907): 427. 62. Lotze, Grundzüge der praktischen Philosophie, 42. 63. Raich, “Die Stellung der deutschen Philosophie der Gegenwart zur Frauenfrage,” 427. 64. Maria Raich, Fichte: Seine Ethik und Seine Stellung zum Problem des Indi­ vidualismus (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1905), 79. 65. Raich, “Die Stellung der deutschen Philosophie der Gegenwart zur Frauenfrage,” 428 66. Ibid., 426. 67. Ibid., 487. 68. Lotze, Grundzüge der praktischen Philosophie, 43. 69. Raich, “Die Stellung der deutschen Philosophie der Gegenwart zur Frauenfrage,” 426.

Epilogue 1. Kuno Fischer, Goethes Faust (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1887), 410. 2. Theobald Ziegler, “Religionsphilosophisches,” Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Philosophische Kritik 103 (1894): 214n. Ziegler’s formulation is repeated verbatim in the second volume of Albert Bielschowsky’s Goethe, sein Leben und seine Werke (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1904), 2: 609. Since Bielschowsky, a leading Goethe scholar of the turn of the century, passed away before the book was completed, Ziegler and others stepped in to finish the volume. It is likely that the opinion (and the interest in Goethe’s line) originated with Ziegler rather than Bielschowsky. 3. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, Part I, trans. Walter Arndt (New York: Norton, 2001), 344. 4. Eduard von Hartmann, Geschichte der Metaphysik, vol. 2: Seit Kant (Leipzig: Haake, 1900), 594. 5. Richard Wagner, Beethoven, Schriften und Dichtungen (Leipzig: Breikopf & Härtel, 1911), 9: 125. 6. Richard Wagner, “Über das Weibliche im Menschlichen,” Schriften und


notes to pages 291–294

Dichtungen, 12: 343: “Liebestreue: Ehe; hier liegt die Macht des Menschen über die Natur, und wir nennen sie göttlich.” See also Adrian Daub, “Mother Mime— Siegfried, the Fairy Tale and the Metaphysics of Sexual Difference,” Nineteenth Century Music 32, no. 2 (2008): 160–77. 7. Søren Kierkegaard, Søren Kierkegaard’s Journals and Papers, trans. Howard Hong and Edna Hong (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1970), 2: 208 (no. 1568). 8. Peter Koslowski, “Baader: The Centrality of Original Sin and the Difference of Immediacy and Innocence,” in Kierkegaard and His German Contemporaries, vol. 1: Philosophy, ed. Jon Stewart (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), 1. 9. The text is listed in Kierkegaard’s personal library under ASKB 398. 10. Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), 48. 11. Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Part II, trans. Edna H. Hong and Howard V. Hong (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 57. 12. Julia Watkin, “The Logic of Kierkegaard’s Misogyny,” in Feminist Interpre­ tations of Søren Kierkegaard, ed. Céline Léon and Sylvia Walsh (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997), 73. 13. Friedrich Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragödie, in Werke, 1: 100. 14. Friedrich Nietzsche, Morgenröte, Werke, 1: 1249; Daybreak, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 150 (no. 533). 15. Friedrich Nietzsche, Menschliches, Allzumenschliches, in Werke, 1: 649; Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 151 (no. 392). 16. Nietzsche, Menschliches, Allzumenschliches, in Werke, 1: 647; Human, All Too Human, 150 (no. 378): “weill die gute Ehe auf dem Talent zur Freundschaft beruht.” 17. Nietzsche, Menschliches, Allzumenschliches, in Werke, 1: 649; Human, All Too Human, 151 (no. 390): “dazu muß wohl eine kleine physische Antipathie mithelfen.” 18. Friedrich Nietzsche to Georg Brandes, February 19, 1888, in Werke, 3; 1278. 19. Nietzsche, Morgenröte, In Werke, 1: 1033 (no. 27): “Die Institution der Ehe hält hartnäckig den Glauben aufrecht, daß die Liebe, obschon eine Leidenschaft, doch als solche der Dauer fähig sei, ja daß die dauerhafte lebenslängliche Liebe als Regel aufgestellt werden könne.” 20. Nietzsche, Morgenröte, in Werke, 1: 1033 (no. 27): “welche aus der feurigen Hingebung des Augenblicks die ewige Treue geschaffen haben.” 21. Nietzsche, Morgenröte, in Werke, 1:1033 (no. 27): “ein neuer übermensch­ licher, den Menschen hebender Begriff.” 22. Nietzsche, Götzen-Dämmerung, in Werke, 2: 966; Twilight of the Idols, in The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols, and Other Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 173.

notes to pages 294–297


23. Nietzsche, Götzen-Dämmerung, in Werke, 2: 967; Twilight of the Idols, 172: “vergeistigt, verschönt, vergöttlicht.” 24. Nietzsche, Götzen-Dämmerung, in Werke, 2: 967; Twilight of the Idols, 173: “ein großer Triumph über das Christentum.” 25. Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra, in Werke, 2: 332; Thus Spoke Zarathus­ tra, 52: “Ehe: so heiße ich den Willen zu zweien, das Eine zu schaffen, das mehr ist, als die es schufen.” 26. Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra, in Werke, 2: 332; Thus Spoke Zarathus­ tra, 53: “Ach diese Armut der Seele zu zweien.” 27. Nietzsche, Der Antichrist, in Werke, 2: 1188 (no. 26) 28. Friedrich Nietzsche, Götzen-Dämmerung, in Werke, 2: 965; Twilight of the Idols, 171. 29. Nietzsche, Götzen-Dämmerung, in Werke, 2: 966; Twilight of the Idols, 172: “die Praxis der Kirche ist lebensfeindlich.” 30. Nietzsche, Götzen-Dämmerung, in Werke, 2: 969; Twilight of the Idols, 175: “des geschwächten, des müden, des verurteilten Lebens.” 31. Friedrich Nietzsche, Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft, in Werke, 2: 81; Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Josefine Nauckhoff, Adrian del Caro (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 73. (no. 66): “So wehren sie sich gegen die Starken und alles ‘Faustrecht.’ ” 32. Nietzsche, Götzen-Dämmerung, in Werke, 2: 1016 (no. 39): “kommen uns Institutionen überhaupt abhanden, weil wir nicht mehr zu ihnen taugen.” 33. Nietzsche, Götzen-Dämmerung, Werke, 2: 1016 (no. 39). 34. Ibid., 2: 1016 (no. 39). 35. Friedrich Nietzsche, Jenseits von Gut und Böse, in Werke, 2: 701; Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 127 (no. 238): “Sich im Grundprobleme ‘Mann und Weib’ zu vergreifen, hier den abgründlichsten Antagonismus und die Notwendigkeit einer ewigfeindseligen Spannung zu leugnen.” 36. Nietzsche, Menschliches, Allzumenschliches, in Werke, 1: 653; Human, All Too Human, 154 (no. 411): “nach Vollendung der eigenen Vorzüge.” 37. Friedrich Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra, in Werke, 2: 330; Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 50: “Du gehst zu Frauen? Vergiß die Peitsche nicht!” 38. Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra, in Werke 2: 321; Thus Spoke Zarathus­ tra, 40: “In seinem Freunde soll man seinen besten Feind haben. Du sollst ihm am nächsten mit dem Herzen sein, wenn du ihm widerstrebst.” 39. Otto Weininger, Geschlecht und Charakter (Vienna: Braumüller, 1907), 297. 40. On Mach’s influence on Weininger, see Chandak Sengoopta, Otto Weininger: Sex, Science and Self in Imperial Vienna (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2000), 24–25. 41. Otto Weininger, Gedanken über Geschlechtsprobleme (Berlin: Concordia DVA, 1907), 41: “In dem Verhältnis von Mann und Weib muß der Schlüssel zum Verständnis beider zu finden sein. Es ist das Verhältnis von Subjekt und Objekt.”


notes to pages 297–303

42. Weininger, Geschlecht und Charakter, 197–211. 43. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Werke, 1:434: “Was für eine Philosophie man wähle, hängt sonach davon ab, was für ein Mensch man ist.” 44. Weininger, Geschlecht und Charakter, 239: “entfällt auch der Grund, jene Annahme zu machen.” 45. Weininger, Geschlecht und Charakter, 240: “Das absolute Weib hat kein Ich.” 46. Ibid., 208. 47. Nietzsche, Menschliches, Allzumenschliches, in Werke, 1: 647; Human, All Too Human, 150 (no. 379): “Die unaufgelösten Dissonanzen im Verhältnis von Charakter und Gesinnung der Eltern klingen in dem Wesen des Kindes fort und machen seine innere Leidensgeschichte aus.” 48. Weininger, Geschlecht und Charakter, 50. 49. Ibid., 50. 50. Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra, in Werke, 2: 332; Thus Spoke Zarathus­ tra, 52. 51. Raymond Furness, Zarathustra’s Children: A Study of a Lost Generation of German Writers (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2000), 145. 52. Walter Benjamin, “Johann Jakob Bachofen,” Selected Writings (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2002), 3: 18. 53. Rainer Maria Rilke, Briefwechsel mit Marie von Thurn und Taxis (Zürich and Frankfurt: Insel, 1951), 1: 409: “seltsamer Sonderling.” 54. Walter Benjamin, “Johann Jakob Bachofen,” 18. 55. Cited in Furness, Zarathustra’s Children, 77. 56. Cited in Franz Wegener, Alfred Schuler, der Letzte Deutsche Katharer (Gladbeck: Kulturförderverein Ruhrgebiet, 2003), 34. 57. Georg Dörr, Muttermythos und Herrschaftsmythos: Zur Dialektik der Aufklärung um die Jahrhundertwende bei den Kosmikern, Stefan George und in der Frankfurter Schule (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2008), 278. 58. Alfred Schuler, Fragente und Vorträge aus dem Nachlaß (Leipzig: Barth, 1940), 239. 59. Alfred Schuler, Cosmogonische Augen— Gesammelte Schriften (Paderborn: Igel, 1997), 138. 60. Schuler, Fragente und Vorträge aus dem Nachlaß, 215: “Die sich selbst befruchtende Mutter ist es, die das ihrem Wesen entsprechende hermaphroditische Kind hervorbringt.” 61. Robert E. Norton, Secret Germany: Stefan George and His Circle (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002), 301f. 62. Cited in Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Part II, 88.

Index abortion, 171, 175 Absolute, 38, 63, 77, 82, 84–85, 93–94, 108, 118, 134, 143, 146–47, 149–50, 154, 156– 57, 168–69, 178, 198, 282 activism, political, 72 Addison, Joseph, 235 adultery, 67, 152, 192; attempted, 261; insinuated, 81 alchemical symbolism, 136 alienation, 83–84, 91, 97, 99, 101, 158, 178, 197 Allgemeines Landrecht, 7 alterity. See otherness analogy, as basis of political philosophy, 118, 128, 132 androgyny, 98, 101, 155, 164–69, 175, 185; literal, 301–2; original, 74, 96, 99, 103, 165, 183, 292, 298 “angel child.” See ghosts anthropology. See empiricism Anselm, Saint, 39 appearance (Schein). See illusion Aquinas, Thomas, 39 Aristophanes. See Plato: Symposium Aristotle, 39, 42, 50, 54, 76–77, 81, 89, 102, 126 Arnim, Achim von, 31 Athenäum ( journal), 179–80, 183 atheism, 19 Atlantis, 132–34, 138 authenticity, 13 autonomy, 104, 187, 194, 207, 221–22, 225, 233, 235, 242, 271, 285, 297; aesthetic, 158; of family, 198, 269; of friendship, 88, 186; of marital choice, 151; of marriage, 4, 6, 21, 23, 25, 55, 57, 68, 115, 138, 182, 193, 202, 227–29, 245–46, 264–65, 267, 274; of

subject, 4, 6, 23, 72, 159, 248, 259–60, 289; of women, 209, 213, 238 Baader, Franz von, 32, 75, 100, 161–65, 171, 175, 178, 185, 247, 256, 264–66, 277, 291, 300 Bachofen, Johann Jakob, 277–78, 280, 297, 300, 301 Bacon, Francis, 39, 42, 65, 192, 257 Bamberg, 192 bashfulness, 184 Bauer, Bruno, 270 Beauvoir, Simone de, 158 becoming, 154 Benjamin, Walter, 22 Berlin, 96, 147, 150–52, 170, 192, 241, 280; under French occupation, 268; salons, 151, 177, 179, 185–86 Bern, 81 birth. See childbirth Bodin, Jean, 126 Boehme, Jakob, 99–100, 162, 165 Bonald, Louis de, 127–28, 138, 147, 159, 266–67 Bougainville, Louis Antoine de, 29, 30 bourgeois society, 5, 10, 27, 33, 35, 74, 75, 81, 84, 91–92, 94–95, 98, 103, 137, 139, 183, 186, 190, 198, 211, 218, 229, 248, 277, 289, 293, 301, 304 Brandes, Georg, 293 Brentano, Clemens, 25, 155, 162, 171, 234 Brown, John, 122 Calvinism, 161 Catholicism, 161, 192, 266, 281

362 causality, 51, 174 celibacy, 173–74 chaos, 102, 154, 156, 167, 185 childbirth, 50, 124, 145, 173, 210, 284 childlessness, 124, 127, 247 children, 32, 41, 50, 115, 126, 131, 158, 159–60, 163, 172, 175, 241, 261, 273, 275, 285, 303 Christianity, 163, 168, 250; conversion to, 152; early, 27, 34, 85, 89, 99, 103; modern, 84, 279 church, 57–58, 72, 295 class, 105 cliché, 344n34 Code Civil, French. See Napoleonic Code cohabitation, 17, 148, 177, 183 coitus, 124–25, 141, 165, 166; scandal inherent in, 45, 50–51, 182, 261 Cologne, 157, 266 common sense, 15, 150 communication, 183–84, 186–87, 193 communitarianism, 34, 52, 208; heterogeneous, 188 confusion, productive, 147, 152, 154, 157, 166–67 consciousness. See self-consciousness, theories of constitution (political), 122, 139, 330n58 construction (of persons), 246, 248 Copenhagen, 1 courtship, 152 custom, 198, 213, 220 Darwinism, 264, 272, 289 daughter, 133 death, 164, 210, 242, 248, 270; faked, 252 degeneration, 267–68, 175 Derleth, Ludwig, 300 Descartes, René, 44 dialectic, 178, 204, 224, 270 Diderot, Denis, 29 difference, sexual, 39, 45, 49, 73, 97, 99, 130, 168, 178, 227, 261, 271, 280, 284, 298, 317n39; elimination of, 164; Schlegel on mitigation of, 101–2, 115; Schleier­ macher valorizes, 185, 187, 190 dignity, 20, 42–53, 45, 47, 55, 64–66, 84, 92, 110, 113, 115, 147, 182, 209, 274, 283, 317n39 Dilthey, Wilhelm, 107, 327n15 divorce, 7, 25, 67, 152, 210, 226

index domination, 295 doppelgangers, 243, 248–50, 253–54, 256, 306 Dresden, 170, 266 dualism, 181–82 education, 260, 269, 283 Egypt, ancient, 90 elopement, 228 emancipation of women, 208 empiricism, 52, 211, 270; as basis for theory of marriage, 3, 18, 29, 228, 264, 282, 316n15; relation to metaphysics, 4, 133 engagement, 107; broken, 9, 270 Engels, Friedrich, 289, 301 Enlightenment, 3, 4, 6, 11, 15, 17, 127–28, 158, 185, 235, 241, 258, 268, 303–4 equality, sexual, 5, 18, 41, 47, 60–61, 224, 283; and Kant, 53 Erdmann, Johann Eduard, 162 eros, 71; Platonic, 2; political, 26 eternity, 287 etymology, 78, 321n18 Eucharist, 145 evil. See sin evolution, 276, 284 exclusivity, sexual, 46, 126, 283, 299 experimentation, literary and sexual, 150 fairy tales, 129–30, 208 family, 24, 123, 126, 137–38, 196 fantasy, 181 fate, 22–23 fatherhood, 125, 160 fatherland, 131 Feder, Johann Georg Heinrich, 20 feeling, 53, 116–17, 160, 196, 198, 200, 202, 204–5, 214–15, 217, 220, 222, 224, 226, 287 femininity, 189, 207, 238, 272, 277; associ­ ated with the body, 133 Fichte, Johann Gottlieb, 36–39, 76–77, 86, 91, 95, 100, 103, 105, 108, 119, 186, 204– 5, 208, 210–13, 241, 243, 267–68, 297; criticism of, 11, 23, 38, 43, 83, 96, 114–15, 149–52, 181, 207, 248, 250; “deduction” of marriage, 44–47, 67–69, 182; at Herz salon, 179; on marital autonomy, 68, 72– 73, 243; on marriage as complete unifica­ tion, 3, 21, 38, 228, 241, 252; on marriage law, 54–59, political radicalism, 37, 306; on sexual difference, 45

index fiction, 225, 240 Filmer, Sir Robert, 126, 159 Fischer, Kuno, 162, 287 Forster, Georg, 29–31; and Caroline Böhmer (later Schlegel and Schelling), 30; mar­ riage to Therese Forster, 30 Foucault, Michel, 190–91 Fourier, Charles, 34 Frankfurt, 81, 84–86, 108, 147, 191 freedom, 22, 221; sexual, 283 Freiberg, 105, 113 French Revolution, 8, 11, 20, 23, 28, 30, 72– 73, 127–28, 183, 209, 211–14, 216, 231, 266–68 Freud, Sigmund, 271, 289 Friedrich Wilhelm III, 115, 119, 135, 142 friendship, 86, 102, 131, 182, 190, 293, 338n12; merged with love, 155. See also Hegel, G. W. F.: friendship with Hölderlin Garve, Christian, 20 George, Stefan, 34, 300, 302 Germany, politically unified, 306 ghosts, 171–74, 306 Gleim, Johann Wilhelm Ludwig, 241 Gobineau, Arthur de, 275 God, 57, 73, 100, 250, 257, 282, 292 golden age, 90, 133, 301–2 Görres, Joseph and Guido, 162 Gottsched, Johann Christoph, 16 Goethe, Johan Wolfgang, 1, 17, 22, 31, 75, 162, 165, 224, 241, 261–63, 287, 291, 299, 306 Greece, ancient, 26, 84, 85, 89, 90, 92, 103, 198, 278–79, 293 Grüningen, 114 Haller, Karl Ludwig van, 127 Hamann, Johann Georg, 17, 24 Hamburg, 171 happiness, 219, 240 Hardenberg, Friedrich von. See Novalis Hartmann, Eduard von, 282–84, 288 Hegel, G. W. F., 3–4, 11, 12, 21, 24, 26, 33, 55– 56, 67, 72, 74, 81, 84, 88, 92, 96–97, 112, 122, 125, 160, 162, 178, 185, 191–206, 266, 269–70, 280, 291, 297, 303–6; friend­ship with Hölderlin, 86–88, 96 Hemsterhuis, François, 72, 84, 112 Heraclitus, 281 Herder, Johann Gottfried, 25–26, 84, 210

363 Herrnhutter, 184–85. See also Zinzendorf, Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Herz, Henriette and Markus, 151, 177, 179–80 Hippel, Theodore Gottlieb, 5, 18, 20 historical sociology, 264 history, 224, 270, 276, 328n40 Hobbes, Thomas, 54, 126–27, 138 Hoffman, E.T.A., 306 Hölderlin, 21, 55, 72, 74, 78, 81, 83–84, 92, 94, 105, 147, 154, 192, 205, 213, 280; Hy­ perion, 89–90, 247; and Susette Gontard, 81, 89; Urtheil und Seyn, 79–80, 82, 96, 109, 111 Homburg, 85 homelessness, sexual, 96, 183 homosexuality, 298–99, 304 Huber, Therese, 212 Huch, Ricarda, 9–10 Humboldt, Alexander von, 162, 179 Humboldt, Wilhelm von, 56, 72, 100, 113, 152, 179, 186, 211, 228, 268 Hume, David, 298 idealism, German, 3–9, 11–17, 19–28, 31, 32, 34, 36–38, 39, 43, 44, 50, 54–56, 58, 63, 67, 69–70, 71–74, 75–78, 80–81, 83–85, 88–89, 91, 95, 96–98, 101–4, 106–7, 120, 131, 138, 157, 158–59, 161–62, 178, 179, 181, 191–94, 197, 200–201, 204, 208, 210, 226, 229–30, 233, 241–43, 244, 249, 250, 254–55, 257, 264–66, 270–71, 273–74, 276, 278, 279–86, 288, 290, 291–92, 294–95, 297–98, 300, 303 idleness, 153, 158 illusion, 109, 111–42 imagination, 261–62 inequality, sexual, 49, 54, 59, 61 Ingolstadt, 161 inheritance, 67 innocence, 66, 184 instinct, 182, 197, 274 intellectual intuition, 74, 78, 83, 86–87, 93, 95, 97–98, 103, 121, 154, 157, 193, 195 intimacy, 13 irony, 158, 344n27 Jacobi, Friedrich Heinrich, 13, 26, 62, 74, 77–79, 93, 100, 162, 241, 244, 250 jealousy, 178 Jean Paul, 14, 75, 179, 205, 210, 233, 240–63, 279, 297

364 Jena, 25, 37, 63, 75, 105, 108, 147, 150, 161, 170, 192, 209, 266 jokes, 148, 177, 237, 245, 248. See also Kant, Immanuel: sense of humor judgment, 76, 78, 80, 84, 87, 103, 109, 178, 193–94, 196, 199, 201, 255, 257 Kalb, Charlotte von, 241 Kant, Immanuel, 4, 11, 24–26, 39–45, 70, 74, 76–79, 81, 95, 102, 105, 128, 174, 179, 181–82, 194, 209, 237, 243–44, 257, 259, 272; discussion of masturbation, 316n24; sense of humor, 41–43, 64, 261 Kiel, 209 Kierkegaard, Søren, 1–3, 9, 23, 33, 237, 240– 42, 270–71, 278, 289, 291–92; contrast with Nietzsche, 293–94 kinship structure, 138 Klages, Ludwig, 301–2 Knigge, Adolph Freiherr, 185 Kuehn, Sophie von, 107 labor, division of, 94–95 Laclos, Choderlos de, 217 language, 196, 205, 217, 221, 222, 225, 254– 57, 287 law, divine, 57, 281; physical, 112; positive, 121, 220, 225, 230; relating to marriage, 7, 54–55, 222, 224 Leibniz, 15 Leipzig, 113, 241, 289 Lenclos, Ninon de, 210, 217, 236–37 Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, 34, 180 liberty, sexual, 29, 34, 149, 283 logic, symbolic, 76 loneliness, 255 Lotze, Hermann, 281–282 love, 11, 27–28, 47, 66–68, 83, 93, 95, 113, 122, 131–32; as cognition, 75; divine, 163–64, 184; dying, 245; equation with marriage 27, 32; obstacles to, 252; praise of, 2; of self, 256; as transcendence of sexual difference, 102; undefined by Fichte, 59, 62; as “will to life” of the child, 263, 274 Luise, Queen of Prussia, 115, 119, 135–36, 142 madness, 251, 255–56, 259 magic, 110, 112, 117, 120, 129, 132, 142

index Märchen. See fairy tales Maistre, Joseph de, 127–28, 266 Marivaux, 245 marriage: authenticity of, 294; as contract, 3, 7, 15–16, 20, 61, 182, 197, 205, 222, 226, 303; dissolution, 247; irrationality of, 8; as metaphor, 106; as model for political organization, 106; political significance, 12, 72, 220, 227, 267, 290, 303–7; as pos­session, 16; as private relation, 9; royal, 116–18, 120–21, 132, 136, 142, 158; as rule 16; same–sex, 305; secret, 228; sham, 276–77; uncivility, 21; utility, 19–20, 269 married life, 241 Marx, Karl, 270 Marxism, 264 masculinity, associated with the soul, 133 masturbation, 216, 233–36, 258–61 materialism, 127 ménages à trois, 249–50 Mendelssohn, Brendel. See Schlegel, Dorothea (Veit) Mendelssohn, Moses, 179 Mereau-Brentano, Sophie, 14, 25, 66–67, 113, 179, 186, 205, 207–39, 245, 252, 259, 271 Merkel, 171 metaphor, 257 middle (Hegelian), 196–201 misogyny, 9, 42, 58–59 modernity. See bourgeois society monarchy, 115, 121, 123, 125, 126 monism, 111, 192 monogamy. See exclusivity, sexual monotheism, 277 Montesquieu, 210, 276 motherhood, 160, 173; symbolic 129 Müller, Adam, 266 Munich, 162 mysticism, 5, 99, 302 Napoleonic Code, 7 Napoleonic Wars, 268, 306 narcissism, 236 natural law, 3, 4, 7, 11, 16, 20, 62, 105–6, 113, 213, 223–24, 254, 280, 282 nature, 130, 229; state of, 42, 66, 81, 277 necessity, 222 neopaganism, 301

index Neoplatonism. See Plato Nicolai, Friedrich, 23 Niethammer, Friedrich Immanuel, 63, 150; hosts meeting of Novalis, Hölderlin, and Fichte, 114 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 2, 31, 279, 282, 289, 292–96, 299, 300 Novalis, 11, 55–56, 63, 67, 75, 96, 150, 154, 156, 160, 179, 192, 195, 208, 213, 247, 266, 270, 280, 297; and Fichte, 108–13, 130; political philosophy, 106, 126 novel (literary form), 153, 175, 208, 212, 215, 220, 232, 242, 274 Noyes, John Humphrey, 34 Nürnberg, 192 oath, 87 Oedipal dynamics, 140 Oneida, 34 origins, 135 otherness, 252, 256 Otto, Christian, 244 Ovid, 235 Paley, William, 20 parenthood, 131; symbolic 129 Paris, France, 170, 266 passivity, 238; in Fichte’s theory of marriage, 46–51, 60, 182; merged with activity, 155, 280 Paulsen, Friedrich, 284 penetration, 51 perception, 116 phallus, 145 Phillips, Georg, 162 Pietism, 27, 34, 117, 125, 258 Plato, 5, 13, 27, 72, 85–87, 155, 164; Repub­ lic, 135; Symposium, 1–2, 80, 83, 98, 163 (see also androgyny: original; unity, preexistent) play, 157, 219 pleasure, 197, 259 Popularphilosophie, 19 positivism, 282 pregnancy, 51, 164, 172, 173, 209 procreation. See children professional role, 187–188 proposals of marriage, 221–22 psychoanalysis, 264, 302 Pufendorf, Samuel, 3, 4–5, 16–17, 24

365 Raich, Maria, 284–86 reading, 234–235 reality, physical, 120 reason, 212–13, 223, 229–30, 272; Hegelian, 197, 199–201, 304; Kantian, 8, 181; mathematical, 15 reflection, 249 representation, 110, 111, 113, 120, 138, 142, 146, 237 reproduction, the uncanny power of women, 176. See also children Reinhold, Karl Leonhard, 11, 77, 83, 150, 209, 243 religion, 3, 38, 72, 183, 190, 229, 275 remarriage, 228 revelation, 266 revenge, 137 Revolution, French, 8, 11, 20, 23, 28, 30, 72–73, 127–28, 183, 209, 211–14, 216, 231, 266–68 Richardson, 233 Richter, Johann Paul Friedrich. See Jean Paul rights, 223, 225, 230 Romanticism, German, 3–17, 19–23, 25–8, 31–32, 34, 36–39, 44, 52, 54, 55–56, 58–59, 61–63, 67–70, 71–76, 80, 84–85, 88, 93–95, 97–104, 106–8, 110, 112, 115, 128, 137–38, 147, 149–54, 157, 158–59, 161–63, 165–70, 172, 178, 179–81, 183, 188, 192–94, 196, 197, 200, 201, 204–6, 207–11, 212, 214–15, 217, 219–20, 222–23, 226, 239, 241, 243–44, 248, 252, 254, 257–58, 263, 264–67, 269, 271–75, 279–82, 285–86, 290, 295–96, 297, 303–4, 306–7 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 3, 13, 17, 29, 66, 72, 80, 85, 89, 91, 97–98, 126–27, 210, 216, 224, 227, 229, 238, 240, 247, 269, 292, 317n39, 320n89 Rosenkranz, Karl, 270 sadomasochism, 296 Saint Martin, Louis Claude de, 162 salons. See under Berlin salvation, 185 satire, 241, 251, 351n37 Savigny, Friedrich Carl von, 23 Schelling, Caroline, 25, 266 Schelling, F. W. J., 15, 50, 72, 79, 81, 97, 100, 117, 162, 168, 192, 266, 297

366 Schiller, 22, 75, 100, 105, 209, 237, 241 Schlegel, August Wilhelm 25, 153, 179, 192, 241, 266, 297 Schlegel, Dorothea (Veit), 14, 63, 101, 148, 170, 180, 211–213, 266; Florentin, 171–76 Schlegel, Friedrich, 11, 14, 55–56, 63, 67, 68, 74, 96–97, 105, 153–55, 160, 176, 179, 192, 195, 204, 208, 210, 211–13, 234, 241, 266, 297; Lucinde 100–103, 149–50, 155– 56, 164–66, 170; and Novalis, 113–17, 267; relationship with Schleiermacher, 148, 150–51, 170–71, 177–78, 185, 267 Schleiermacher, Ernestine, 190 Schleiermacher, Friedrich Daniel Ernst 11, 12, 26, 55, 63, 67, 96–97, 103, 117, 180– 91, 195, 204, 241, 266 Schmitt, Carl, Political Romanticism, 6, 8 Schopenhauer, Arthur, 50, 174, 270, 272–76, 297, 299 Schuler, Alfred, 300–303 Schwab, Johann Christoph, 23 segregation, sexual, 187 self-consciousness, theories of, 21, 24, 37, 42–43, 48–51, 71, 73, 82, 86, 91, 105, 122, 208, 211, 213, 216, 229, 243, 248, 250, 254, 258, 278, 297 self-sufficiency, 167 semiosis, 119 sensuality, 16–17, 40–41, 260, 272 sentimentalism, 210 syllogism, 196, 199–204, 270 sex roles, traditional, 23, 203, 233 Shaftesbury, earl of, 72, 84 shame, 95–96, 99, 165, 183–84, 186, 189, 275 shamelessness, 153, 166–67 sin, 162 Sinclair, Isaak von, 63, 81–82, 195 solidarity, 197 sleep, 137 specialization. See labor, division of Spinoza, Baruch, 44, 72, 77, 111, 117 Starck, Johann August Freiherr von, 127 state, involvement in marriage, 7 Stirner, Max, 270, 289 suicide, 214, 230, 348n97 symphilosophy, 177–78 syncretism, 72 Tacitus, Germania, 276 temporality, 292

index Tennstedt, 114 Tieck, Johann Ludwig, 107 Trendelenburg, (Friedrich) Adolf, 7, 280 truth, 76 Tübingen, 72, 81, 192; state, involvement in marriage, 7 uncivility, of free sociality, 189; of marriage, 8 understanding, 64, 93–94, 120, 229, 260, 272–73 unicorns, 174 unification: complete, 3, 79, 155, 157, 159, 161, 169, 183, 221, 228, 242, 304; effected by love, 162, 196; effected by marriage, 117, 132, 146, 192, 199; product of, 168; in tension with multiplicity, 157; with universe, 90 unity, preexistent, 35, 68, 73, 80, 83–85, 94, 99, 110, 227, 246 United States, 30 Utilitarianism, English, 264 utopianism, 231, 302 Vaihinger, Rudolf, 286 Veit, Simon and Dorothea. See Schlegel, Dorothea (Veit) Vico, 224 Vienna, 297 violence, 248 Vogel, Samuel Gottlieb, 259–60 Wagner, Richard, 275, 289 wedding, 242, 246, 248 Weimar, 241 Weininger, Otto, 290, 296–300 Weißenfels, 113 Wieland, Christoph Martin, 241, 344n29 will, 289; Hegelian, 196, 204; in Schopenhauer, 275 Winckelmann, Johann Joachim, 165, 228 Wolff, Christian, 16, 19 work, 196 Wundt, Wilhelm, 284 Ziegler, Theobald, 288 Zinzendorf, Count Nikolaus Ludwig von, 117, 125 Zürich, 36 Zwilling, Jacob, 81, 195