Novalis's idea of "Experimentalphilosophie" : a study of Romantic science in its context.
This thesis seeks to examine Novalis's philosophy of practical knowledge and to position it within the context of the work of other Romantic natural philosophers and some aspects of contemporary science. His views on Ritter's galvanism and the latter's significance for his thought in general are treated here for the first time in full. Contrary to most previous views, it is argued that a major part of Novalis's outlook stems from his concept of practical knowledge and his reflection over the term "experiment", which proves to be an extremely complex and central idea in his thought. It is shown how this philosophy of his finds most explicit expression in the idea of a symbolic notation or a "phenomenal" calculus. These notions merge in Novalis's idea of productive "Plastisirung". Particular attention is paid to the symbolic use of phosphorus in the pneumatic debate and Ritter's galvanic interpretation of the nerve. Beyond contemporary science, it is further shown how broad an historical base Novalis channels into his notion of practical knowledge. This should lead to a clearer understanding of Novalis's position within Romantic natural philosophy, his debt to tradition, and his originality. In the light of these findings, it is argued that Novalis's concern for practical knowledge provides the basis for a possible form of consensus in his thought. It is shown that there is an increasing tendency in his writings away from a programme for classifying knowledge in general towards the idea of individual knowledge and the case study, as is exemplified in his reception of Ritter's work. It is also advanced that Novalis's notion of practical knowledge is a significant methodological statement of early Romantic science, which also puts a new perspective on thinkers such as Goethe, Humboldt, Schelling and Ritter
AuthorsHenderson, Fergus Roy
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