A pioneer in legal and political theory, Schmitt traces the prehistory of political romanticism by examining its relationship to revolutionary and reactionary tendencies in modern European history. Both the partisans of the French Revolution and its most embittered enemies were numbered among the romantics. During the movement for German national unity at the beginning of the nineteenth century, both revolutionaries and reactionaries counted themselves as romantics. According to Schmitt, the use of the concept to designate opposed political positions results from the character of political romanticism: its unpredictable quality and lack of commitment to any substantive political position.
The romantic person acts in such a way that his imagination can be affected. He acts insofar as he is moved. Thus an action is not a performance or something one does, but rather an affect or a mood, something one feels. The product of an action is not a result that can be evaluated according to moral standards, but rather an emotional experience that can be judged only in aesthetic and emotive terms.
These observations lead Schmitt to a profound reflection on the shortcomings of liberal politics. Apart from the liberal rule of law and its institution of an autonomous private sphere, the romantic inner sanctum of purely personal experience could not exist. Without the security of the private realm, the romantic imagination would be subject to unpredictable incursions. Only in a bourgeois world can the individual become both absolutely sovereign and thoroughly privatized: a master builder in the cathedral of his personality. An adequate political order cannot be maintained on such a tolerant individualism, concludes Schmitt.
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About the Author
Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) was a political theorist best known for his work on the wielding of political power, German jurist, and professor of law at many universities, including the University of Greifswald, University of Berlin, and University of Cologne. Some of his most famous writings include The Tyranny of Values , Theory of the Partisan , and On the Three Types of Juristic Thought. Graham McAleer is professor of philosophy at Loyola University in Maryland. He wrote introductions to the Transaction editions of Aurel Kolnai’s Ethics, Value and Reality and Max Scheler’s The Nature of Sympathy and On the Eternal in Man. He is the author of Ecstatic Morality and Sexual Politics.
Table of Contents
Introduction to the Transaction Edition ix
Translator's Introduction xxiii
The German conception: political romanticism as an ideology of reaction and restoration 22
The French conception: romanticism as a revolutionary principle; Rousseauism 25
The explanation of revolution in terms of the esprit romantique and the esprit classique 28
The confusion of the concept of political romanticism and the path to a definition 29
1 The Outward Situation 35
The personal political significance of romantic writers in Germany 35
Schlegel's political insignificance 37
Müller's political development: an Anglophile in Göttingen, a feudal and estatist-conservative anticentralist in Berlin, a functionary of the absolutist centralized state in the Tyrol 39
2 The Structure of the Romantic Spirit 51
La recherche de la Réalité 51
The occasionalist structure of romanticism 78
3 Political Romanticism 109
Survey of the development of theories of the state since 1796 109
The difference between the romantic conception of the state and the counterrevolutionary and legitimist conception 115
The state and the king as occasional objects of romantic interest 123
The romantic incapacity for ethical and legal valuation 124
Romanticized ideas in political philosophy 125
Adam Müller's productivity: his mode of argumentation: the rhetorically formed resonance of significant impressions; his antitheses: rhetorical contrasts 127
The occasional character of all romanticized objects 144
Brief indication of the difference between political romanticism and a romantic politics: In the latter, it is the effect and not the cause that is occasional 149
Excursus: the romantic as a political type in the conception of the liberal bourgeoisie, exemplified by David Friedrich Strauss's Julian the Apostate 149
Conclusion: political romanticism as the concomitant emotive response to political events 158