Immediacy and mediation in Schleiermacher's Reden uber die Religion.
That Schleiermacher underscores the notions of "intuition" and "immediacy" in the Reden is well known. After all, in the famous second speech of the Reden, Schleiermacher asks his readers "to become familiar with this concept: intuition of the universe. It is the hinge of my whole speech; it is the highest and most universal formula of religion on the basis of which you should be able to find every place in religion, from which you may determine its essence and limits." (3) The outcome of intuition, he continues, is feeling. (4) "The same actions of the universe through which it reveals itself to you in the finite also bring it into a new relationship to your mind and your condition; in the act of intuiting it, you must necessarily be seized by various feelings." (5) It is thus not at all strange to conclude, as has often been done, that for Schleiermacher, religion amounts to an unmediated and passive relation to the divine, which results in subjective feeling. (6) However, this is not the extent of Schleiermacher's understanding of religion, nor is it the extent of his understanding of the notion of intuition. With regard to the first, Schleiermacher writes in his fourth speech that "[o]nce there is religion, it must necessarily be social," and "man is primarily concerned to communicate these intuitions and feelings." (7) As such, religion is not merely passive intuition of the universe but also active communication of this intuition.
This significant act of communication, Schleiermacher explains, takes place through the office of "mediator [Mittler]," "an old rejected concept," that Schleiermacher asks his readers to bring back into discourse. (8) As we shall see, the notion of mediation and the office of mediator are of central importance to Schleiermacher's understanding of knowledge and experience. In the first speech, for example, he uses different terms to denote the office of mediator: besides Mittler, Schleiermacher uses the terms Dolmestschern (translators, interpreters), Priester des Hochsten (priests of the highest), as well as Gesandte (ambassadors).
With regard to Schleiermacher's understanding of the nature of intuition, it is important to note that though intuition is hot conceptual or discursive, and in fact gives rise to feeling that gives way to an "immediate" experience of the infinite or divine, this immediacy of intuition is not to be mistaken for an immediate revelation or manifestation of the divine. That is, though the intuiter may sense some kind of immediacy with the divine or infinite, the divine or infinite never reveals itself immediately, or "as such," but rather, it always reveals itself indirectly, in something distinct but not separate from itself, namely, the finite particular. Thus, on the one hand, religion cannot be understood merely as the outcome passive intuition and feeling; nor, on the other, can intuition be understood as immediate in the sense of an unmediated manifestation of the divine.
It is the purpose of this article to outline the relation, as Schleiermacher explains it, between immediacy and mediacy, between passivity and activity, between intuition and mediation. That intuition and mediation are commensurate appears, at least at first sight, impossible: how, one asks, is it possible to have an immediate "intuition" or "feeling" of the infinite universe and, at the same time, communicate or mediate this intuition? After all, the very notion of immediacy excludes the possibility of discursive communication. This difficulty rests, however, on the assumption that the infinite universe must be either transcendent or immanent. If it is the former, then it cannot be mediated in the finite world--as transcendent the infinite must always remain outside of the finite; thus, any relation to the infinite must remain immediate and intuitive. If it is the latter, then it is hot distinct from the finite; indeed, as immanent, the infinite universe and the finite in which it manifests itself collapse into one. Thus, it would be absurd to speak of an immediate intuition with regard to it--as it is nothing other than the finite mediations.
Yet, in spite of this difficulty, Schleiermacher places the two concepts--immediacy and mediacy, intuition and mediation--side by side, and he considers them not only compatible and of equal importance but also indispensable to one another. How does Schleiermacher resolve this difficulty, and does he, in the end, succeed? It is the attempt of this article to engage this seeming paradox, and as such, to provide a more complete account of Schleiermacher's understanding of religion. Certainly, the most significant task is to uncover Schleiermacher's understanding of the infinite universe, the divine, how it reveals itself through intuition, and how such intuition is expressed or mediated. (9) As such, the first section is an explanation of Schleiermacher's ontology, with special emphasis on Schleiermacher's adoption of and departure from Spinozan doctrine. The second is an analysis of intuition and of the passive element of mediation. It argues that for Schleiermacher intuition and mediation cannot be so easily separated and, indeed, that to intuit the universe is to become a mediator of it as well. The third section discusses the active aspect of mediation. There, it will be emphasized that for Schleiermacher mediation is not discursive or conceptual, but rather a practice or a way of life, what I call "world creation." This world, as we shall see, is a continuous and unending attempt at mirroring the infinite universe, and mediation as world creation is the continuous attempt to bring the infinite universe into the finite world of humanity. The last remarks form a brief discussion of Schleiermacher's success in surpassing the difficulty we have brought to surface.
While Schleiermacher later came to deny any philosophical affinity between his own thought and Spinoza's, there is clear evidence that this denial was not genuine. (10) In the 1799 edition of the Reden, Schleiermacher mentions Spinoza twice by name, and both times favorably. He does not forego this attitude toward Spinoza in 1806 when he writes, "When all philosophers shall be religious and seek for God, like Spinoza, and all artists shall be pious and love Christ, like Novalis, then will the mighty resurrection of both world be initiated." These allusions are hot, however, the extent of Schleiermacher's debt to Spinoza; rather, Spinoza's thought pervades the Reden. (11)
Though the Latin edition of Spinoza's Ethics was available in Germany as early as 1667, (12) Spinoza's popularity came through Jacobi's Briefe, and most of the romantics, including Schleiermacher, came to know Spinoza through Jacobi. (13) Jacobi, as it turns out, was both a close interpreter and a critic of Spinoza's doctrine, and thus Schleiermacher's understanding of Spinoza, mediated through Jacobi, was in the most significant ways both accurate and aware of the difficulties inherent in Spinoza's doctrine. The doctrine, as it was given by Jacobi and in turn studied and adopted by Schleiermacher, amounts to three points: monism (the infinite substance is the underlying and necessary condition for all existence), the principle of inherency (particular things cannot be separated from the infinite as they are inherently a part of it, nor can they be separated from one another as they form an original whole), and the harmony of the universe (the particular is not opposed to the universe but is a significant functioning member of it). Schleiermacher departs from Spinoza in one significant way: he depicts the infinite universe as a unity of continually active forces through which the infinite reveals itself in the finite at every moment. As such, Schleiermacher emphasizes the reality of change and the reality of the finite particular, as distinct from the infinite substance.
In the Ethics, Spinoza considers all change and movement to be the result of contingency. Since God is necessary and all things follow from God (are caused by God), all things are necessary. Thus, change (and hence movement) is impossible, as it would imply contingency, which is impossible. Further, for Spinoza, the relation between the infinite and all its attributes and modes, whether infinite or finite, is a relation of causality. God is considered a "free" or "first" cause, and this means that "God acts from the laws of his nature alone, and is compelled by no one." (14) Attributes and modes, in turn, are caused by God, since they follow from his nature and hot from their own: "I assert that all things that happen happen solely through the laws of the infinite nature of God, and follow from the necessity of his essence." (15) It is for this reason that Jacobi concludes that for Spinoza particular things are not real things but only appearances of the infinite. (16) After all, not only does their existence depend on the infinite, but more significantly, their own cause is outside of themselves. This relation between God as cause and the world as effect is a mechanical relation, whereby the cause of the particular thing exists outside of itself.
In disagreeing with Spinoza on the nature of the infinite, Schleiermacher also disagrees with Spinoza on the nature of the relation between the infinite to the finite. There are indeed three consequences to Schleiermacher's disagreement. First, though Schleiermacher agrees with Spinoza that the particular finite depends for its existence on its original relation with the infinite, he does not consider the cause of the finite thing to exist outside of itself. In fact, for Schleiermacher, the entire notion of causality is not pertinent. (17) The infinite does not "cause" the finite, as it does in Spinoza. Rather, all finite things are the result of the two forces of attraction and repulsion coming together in a unique combination. (18)
These forces, he writes, are the work of the deity (Gottheit), who "by an immutable law, has compelled itself to divide its great work endlessly, to fuse together each definite being only out of two opposing forces." (19) The deity brings forth all things through the opposition of the two forces. All individual things are therefore unique meeting points in which the two opposing forces combine. In this way the deity distinguishes them both from itself and from one another. As manifestations of the work and will of the deity, individual things are in a state of continuous attraction and repulsion--as Schleiermacher puts it, one "will find himself everywhere in eternal conflict and in the most indissoluble union with [nature], with his own being at its innermost center and its outermost boundary." (20) The two forces are in opposition because attraction, on the one hand, "strives to draw into itself everything that surrounds it, ensnaring it in its own life, and whenever possible, wholly absorbing it into its innermost being," and repulsion, on the other, "longs to extend its own inner self further, thereby permeating and imparting to everything from within, while never being exhausted itself." (21) Both forces, though moving in opposing directions and according to opposing principles, strive toward assimilation. While attraction attempts to assimilate all things to itself by making what is external conform to what is internal in it, repulsion moves outward, beyond itself, and attempts to assimilate itself to what is external by entering into it.
The continuous conflict between the two forces is what Schleiermacher calls "life." "Every lire is only the result of a continuous appropriation and repulsion; everything has its determinate being only by Virtue of the way in which it uniquely combines and retains the two primal forces [Urkrafte] of nature: the thirsty attraction and the expansion of the active and living self." (22) All things--whether organic or inorganic, corporeal or intellectual--are thus different combinations of these two forces. In this sense, all things are identical. Their difference, however, is the result of, first, the degree to which the two forces are present in them, and second, the unique way that each unites the two forces. In the first sense, their difference is of a passive sort dependent on the existence of the two forces within them. The second difference, however, is an active one that requires that they determine themselves in some way and to some degree.
Let us take a look at what it means for all things to be identical yet different in the sense Schleiermacher has posited. For example, what distinguishes a stone from a vegetable is not that the stone is inorganic dead matter and the vegetable organic life; rather, as two different results of a unique unity of the two opposing forces, what distinguishes them are the different ways in which the two forces are combined within each, and the different degrees to which the two forces exist in each. Thus, the difference between human beings and animals is not a difference in kind (rational or irrational) but a difference in degree. "[E]ven the spirits," Schleiermacher writes referring to the identity and difference between all things as a matter of degree, "as soon as they are transplanted into this world, would have to follow such a law." (23)
Though all things are identical in that they are constituted of the same two forces, important differences between them remain. (24) The intellectual world, for example, is a higher, more developed manifestation of the two forces, Schleiermacher explains, because it
consists in the fact that not only are all possible combinations of these two forces between the two opposed ends really present in humanity, with now one and now the other nearly excluding everything and leaving only an infinitely small part to its opposite, but also a common bond of consciousness embraces them all so that each person, even though he can be nothing other than what he must be, nevertheless recognized all others as clearly as himself and perfectly comprehends all individual presentations of humanity [alle einzelne Darstellungen der Menschheit vollkom men begreife]. (25)
Though the "common bond of consciousness" is humanity's distinguishing characteristic, it does not separate humanity from all other existing finite things. For the difference is the result of, first, the degree to which the two forces are present in humanity, and second, the unique way that it unites the two forces. Thus, if we return to use the language of causality, we would say that each particular finite thing contains within itself its own "cause." This cause both unites it with and separates it from all other finite things. Indeed, this cause is what makes it unique, determining its relation to other finite things as well as to the infinite.
Schleiermacher differs with Spinoza in a second way: with regard to the relation between the infinite and the finite. Though he agrees with Spinoza that finite things can be understood only in their relations to the infinite, he does not consider this relation one-sided. That is, the infinite not only affects the finite, but also is affected by the finite. In essence, the relation between infinite and finite in Schleiermacher is one of continuous reciprocity. To put it concisely: though the infinite and finite remain distinct and are irreducible to one another, for Schleiermacher, the infinite does not exist outside of its revelations or presentations in the finite, and the finite, in turn, does not exist outside of the original unity that is the infinite. (26) He writes, for example, that it is an "illusion to seek the infinite precisely outside the finite, seek the opposite outside that to which it is opposed." (27) Thus, even though the infinite is an original underlying unity that precedes the finite and is not a sure of aggregates, it exists only in relation to the finite. It does not cause the finite, nor is it caused by it. The relation between the two is hot one of mechanical causality, but of organic continuity. The infinite universe is therefore neither transcendent insofar as it does not exist outside of its finite presentations, nor imminent in that it remains distinct from its finite presentations. (28) This last point marks the third difference between Schleiermacher and Spinoza: for Spinoza, the relation between the infinite and the finite was a one-sided relation where the finite was simply an illusory effect of the original reality--the infinite substance. In contrast, for Schleiermacher, the finite is real, and it is an equal partner in its relation to the infinite. To understand this last point, we must turn to Schleiermacher's notion of the infinite.
Precisely because the infinite is the concern of religion, as religion has a "sense and taste for the infinite," it has been continually distorted. Schleiermacher is thus keen to demarcate his understanding of the infinite. (29) First, he distinguishes his notion of the infinite from physical nature which he describes as "dead matter." This notion of the infinite has been the basis of natural religion. He writes, "Neither fear of the material forces [materiellen Kraften] you see operating on this earth nor joy at the beauty of corporeal nature will or can give you the first intuitions of this world and its spirit." (30) In fact, he continues, it is this "inanimate matter" that we wish to dominate and control: "Indeed, it is the great aim of all diligence that is applied to the formation of the earth that the dominance of the forces of nature over us would be annihilated and all fear of them cease." (31) He concludes his polemic against natural religion by asking this important question, "How, therefore, could we intuit the universe in what we endeavor to toaster and have in part already mastered?" (32)
The second notion of the infinite from which Sehleiermacher distances himself seems, at least at first sight, to be a notion he would actually endorse. It is the infinite as "divine unity and eternal immutability." (33) Following his condemnation of natural religion, Sehleiermacher beseeches his readers to "raise" themselves to a perspective from which they would no longer view natural masses as the infinite, but instead the laws underlying them. He writes,
raise yourselves to the view of how these laws embrace everything, the largest and the smallest, the world systems and the small mote of dust that flutters about restlessly in the air, and then say whether you do no intuit the divine unity and the eternal immutability of the world. (34)
However, such an attempt to posit a "higher unity" or a "relation of greatness" necessarily falls, Schleiermacher claims, as the infinite universe is constantly changing and developing, for thus, any static concept of it would be inadequate. (35) There is something yet higher than "eternal unity." He writes,
The perturbations in the course of the stars indicate a higher unity, a bolder combination than that which we have already proved true from the regularity of their paths, and the anomalies, the superfluous touches of malleable nature, compel us to see that it treats its most definite forms with an arbitrariness, with an inventiveness, as it were, whose principle we can discover only from a higher standpoint. (36)
This higher standpoint, which recognizes the anomalies, the arbitrariness and inventiveness of the infinite, essentially its developing and dynamic nature, is the perspective that sees the infinite as a living organism. It is to this notion of the infinite that Schleiermacher turns his attention, after having discredited the two noted above. (37)
Schleiermacher's notion of the infinite as a living organism follows from his three points of departure from Spinoza: it is both the ground for and the effect of the finite, it is alive and developing, and it does not exist outside of its relation to individual finite things that are free. As ground, it is the ultimate underlying being, nothing can exist outside of it. It "presents [darstellt] itself as totality, as unity in multiplicity, as system." (38) As alive, this infinite, in contrast to the dead matter of physical nature, not only nourishes itself but also "forcibly draws dead matter into its lire." (39) All things are alive and participating in this organic whole, all things are interactive and changing. In turn, all these things participate in such a way that they form a "coherent whole" and are not merely random parts that do not relate to one another in undetermined ways. Together, the notions that the infinite is a developing unified ground amount to an understanding of the infinite as a coherent underlying whole:
We do hot feel ourselves dependent on the Whole in so far as it is an aggregate of mutually conditioned parts of which we ourselves are one, but only in so far as underneath this coherence there is a unity conditioning all things and conditioning our relations to the other parts of the Whole. (40)
From this perspective, there is "neither cause nor effect, neither preservation nor destruction." (41) Rather, what we have is an "eternal destiny [ewigen Schicksal]," and a "uniform progress of the whole." (42) All things in the organic whole are constituted in accordance with an inner fate (freedom) and are inherently related and determined entities, connected through their mutual relation to and dependence on the whole. They remain, however, independent of the whole insofar as they are real finite particular entities, and not simply illusory manifestations of the whole. Their freedom lies in precisely this independence--in the inner rather than outer fate (a fate given to them by an external foreign entity). Finally, all things act in accord with the progress of the whole. This progress is history, and the development of the whole manifests itself in history. (43)
Thus far we have examined two of the three defining characteristics of Schleiermacher's notion of the infinite, namely, that it is unified ground and that it is alive and developing. The third, and most significant aspect of the infinite, the aspect, in fact, that underlies the first two, is its relation with the finite. We have only hinted at what this relation amounts to and how the infinite manifests itself in its parts and can only exist in such self-presentations. However, we have yet to provide a full examination of the exact relation.
The essence of religion, for Schleiermacher, is neither thinking nor acting (as is the case in metaphysics or morality, respectively) but "feeling and intuition." Religion, Schleiermacher writes, "wishes to intuit the universe, wishes devoutly to overhear the universe's own presentations [Darstellungen] and actions, longs to be grasped and filled by the universe's immediate [unmitterlbaren] influences in childlike passivity." (44) By underscoring immediacy, Schleiermacher wants to distinguish between religion and metaphysics and to eliminate metaphysical tendencies in religion, because in metaphysics all particulars are subsumed under a universal concept and placed within a system. Schleiermacher argues that, first, subsumption is necessarily incomplete, as there will always remain a particular which has yet to be subsumed, and this undermines the totality of the system as it presently stands. Even if such a particular can be subsumed, and the system continues to grow, there will always remain an endless number of yet unsubsumed particulars. Second, he claims that the particulars "are lost [verliert]" within the system. Their singularity is lost, he writes, in the "uniformity of the abstract concept." (45) For these two reasons, religion relies on intuition, which grasps the singular in a nonconceptual way. "Intuition is and always remains something individual, set apart, the immediate [umittelbare] perception, nothing more. To bind it and to incorporate it into a whole is once more the business not of sense but of abstract thought." (46)
Intuition is thus of the particular, characterized by "childlike passivity" toward the universe's revelations and actions. The intuiter receives the actions or revelations of the universe, but he does not act in any way in order to receive these revelations. The universe affects the individual, and in turn the individual intuiter gets a glimpse of the universe's structures. "All intuition proceeds from an influence of the intuited on the one who intuits, from an original and independent action of the former," writes Schleiermacher, "which is then grasped, apprehended, and conceived by the latter according to one's own nature." (47) In this important passage, Schleiermacher establishes the priority of being over the consciousness of being by emphasizing that intuition takes place through a passive receptivity of the actions of an "original and independent" actor--the universe. Further, he adds that following such passivity, the individual comes to apprehend the intuition "according to one's own nature." Such apprehension does not entail conceptualization of the universe through a faculty of representation (in the Kantian sense), (48) or through a system of thought (in the Hegelian sense). Rather, as we shall shortly see, to "grasp, apprehend, and conceive ... according to one's own nature," that is, to mediate the infinite in the finite, is to give it determinate form by reflecting the infinite in one's self and one's world. Such determinate form is not the result of conceptual or representational mediation. If it were, then the particular would be subsumed under the universal, intuition would be surmounted by reason and representation, and that which is intuited, the singular and immediate, would turn into a representation placed alongside other representations thus forming a system. (49) However, Schleiermacher says that it is impossible to have a "system of intuitions," for by their very nature, intuitions cannot be conceptualized.
Intuition, it is also important to note, does not lead to knowledge about the object intuited such that the individual intuiter comes to an understanding of it. "What you know or believe about the nature of things lies far beyond the realm of intuition," Schleiermacher writes. (50) Further, intuition results in a new perspective. To see the infinite in the finite, "to accept [hinnehmen] everything as a part of the whole and everything limited as a presentation [Darstellung] of the infinite is religion." (51) The outcome of intuition is thus not knowledge of a particular object, but religion, or the acceptance of "everything as a part of the whole." Schleiermacher later calls this acceptance a "higher standpoint" (hoherer Standpunkt) and explains that it results in feeling. Religion is the acceptance of the vision of intuition, the higher standpoint that such a vision entails, and the feeling that results from such an acceptance. What is this vision that the intuiter has, and how does it yield religious feeling?
Schleiermacher describes what the intuiter sees in the intuition. To quote at length,
Its chemical forces [Krafte], the eternal laws according to which bodies are formed and destroyed, it is in these that we most clearly and in a most holy manner intuit the universe. See how attraction [Neigung] and repulsion [Widerstreben] determine everything and are uninterruptedly active everywhere, how all diversity and opposition are only apparent and relative, and all individuality is merely an empty name. See how all likeness strives to conceal itself and to divide into a thousand diverse forms, and how nowhere do you find something simple, but everything is ornately connected and intertwined. (52)
In intuition, one sees the continued activity of the universe, the movement of the two original forces of attraction and repulsion and how these forces "determine everything" and are "uninterruptedly active." What the intuiter thus sees is the identity of all things--all things are made of the saine two forces, "all diversity and opposition are only apparent and relative ... all individuality is merely an empty name." In turn, the intuiter cornes to recognize how all things necessarily and immanently affect one another--"everything is ornately connected and intertwined." Schleiermacher continues detailing what takes place in intuition:
This is the spirit of the world [Geist der Welt] that reveals [offenbart] itself in the smallest things just as perfectly and visibly as in the greatest; that is an intuition of the universe that develops out of everything and seizes the mind. But only the person who in fact sees it everywhere, who, not only in all alterations but in all existence, finds nothing else but a production [Werk] of this spirit and a presentation [Darstellung] and execution of these laws, only to him is everything visible really a world, formed and permeated by divinity, and is one. (53)
The intuiter recognizes an original identity not only between all finite things but also, as this second quotation indicates, between finite things and the infinite universe. All things are a "production" and "presentation" of the laws of the divine, "formed and permeated" by it. As such, all finite things--in their multiplicity and variety--cannot be understood outside of their relation to the infinite, to the divine which "brings them forth" and whose production and presentation they are.
What is revealed in intuition is thus the relation between the infinite and the finite we outlined in the preceeding section. We must remember, however, that it is not everyone who enjoys this perspective, who "sees [the spirit of the world] everywhere," the original unity and identity between the infinite and finite, on the one hand, and between all finite things, on the other. Rather, it is only to the "pious mind" that "religion makes everything holy and valuable, even unholiness and commonness itself." (54) Those who have a pious mind, or those who have attained the "higher standpoint," are able to recognize the inherency between infinite and finite and the inner connection (Zusammenghang) between all finite things to one another.
Since the higher standpoint is itself a consequence of intuition, the question becomes, how does intuition come about? Schleiermacher explains that a person must have a "point" of contact with the infinite in order to intuit in the first place. Insofar as all things in the world are manifestations of the infinite universe, and insofar as the vision of such manifestations is religion, then "[e]verything that exists is necessary for religion, and everything that can be is for it a true indispensable image [Bild] of the infinite; it is just a question of finding the point [den Punkt] from which one's relationship to the infinite can be discovered." (55) This point, which he also calls the "touchstone [Prufstein]" to the infinite, makes it possible for intuition to take place and, in turn, for an inuiter to gain a higher standpoint. (56)
Schleiermacher explains at the beginning of the second speech that those who are preparing themselves to have a vision of the divine, "look with undivided attention at the place where the vision is to show itself [wo die Erscheinung sich zeigen soll]." (57) In this place, Schleiermacher explains, "A manifestation [Erscheinung], an event develops quickly and magically into an image [Bild] of the universe." The person who is to intuit must thus focus his attention at a specific place, a particular finite point. In turn, the intuiter to whom this manifestation is apparent "lie[s] in the bosom of the infinite world" and becomes "its soul." (58) As such, not only is the intuiter's attention fixed on a specific place, but also he is himself located spatially in a specific point.
The notion of place is significant here. First, in order to have an intuition, one must have a specific point or a place of contact. Second, the intuiter possesses a place in the bosom of the universe. Then, through the act of intuition, the individual enters into a "spatial exchange" with the infinite. The individual's body extends beyond itself into the universe, on the one hand, and the infinite universe enters and is individuated in the individual's body, on the other. Schleiermacher describes this exchange, this expansion and attraction:
At this moment I am its soul, for I feel all its forces [Krafte] and its infinite life as my own; at this moment it is my body, for I penetrate [durchdringe] its muscles and its infinite life as my own, and its innermost nerves move according to my sense and my presentiment as my own. (59)
In this way, not only is the place to which the intuiter's attention was turned transformed to become the place of the universe's revelations, (60) but also the individual himself is transformed to become precisely such a point of revelation. At the moment of intuition, the intuiter expands to encompass the infinite, and, at the same time, the infinite enters the individual and itself becomes individualized, that is, specifically determined in one place. Through such an exchange, the intuiter is transformed and becomes not merely an intuiter but also a mediator. For the intuiter functions as "point of contact" with the universe, as the place in which the universe manifests itself. The individual intuiter becomes one in whom the infinite is revealed. Schleiermacher writes,
in whomever religion has thus worked back again inwardly and has discovered there the infinite, it is complete in that person in this respect; he no longer needs a mediator [Mittler] for some intuition of humanity, and he himself can be a mediator for many. (61)
In this way, the spatial exchange that takes place between the infinite universe and the finite individual intuiter during the moment of intuition leads to an individuation of the infinite, on the one hand, and to an expansion of the finite, on the other, allowing the individual to become a mediator, one in whom the infinite universe is reflected.
It is important to return here, albeit briefly, to Schleiermacher's understanding of a particular point as a unique combination of the two forces. As noted above, there are different degrees in which all parts of the universe manifest the universe. These degrees depend on the unique way in which the two forces of attraction and repulsion are combined. Humanity distinguishes itself from other members of the universe by what Schleiennacher calls its "bond of consciousness." Within this bond of consciousness, however, not all individuals are capable of "penetrat[ing] into the secrets of [the combination of the two forces] brought to rest." (62) Rather, only "the thoughtful expert" can do so, someone whom the deity sends and employs as "translators of its will and its works and as mediators of what would otherwise remain eternally separated." (63) This translator is none other than the mediator.
The mediator's nature demonstrates both a "high level of that force of attraction that actively seizes surrounding things," as well as "so much of the spiritual penetration drive, which strives for the infinite and impregnates all spirit and life." (64) As such, the mediator, as a point of equilibrium and high intensity within the human bond of consciousness, reflects more completely the infinite in his action of self-reflection. Further, in containing both of the forces of attraction and repulsion at such an intensity, the mediator is driven back and forth by them, moving outward and then returning inward, and then again outward. Such oscillation between the inner and the outer, between delineation of oneself (self-determination, the unique way in which one combines the two forces) and overcoming of oneself (expansion beyond the outlines of individual personality) is the presentation of the infinite in the finite, that is, mediation.
Thus, the mediator's proximity to the universe is what allows him to present or exhibit the universe in himself. The mediator's self-reflection reveals the universe because of his special place as a meeting point of the two forces. As such, the mediator functions as a mirror for the universe. (65) Spinoza, whom Schleiermacher describes as permeated by "the high world spirit," saw "how he too was [the universe's] most lovable mirror."(66) For "he was reflected in the eternal world," "was full of religion and full of holy spirit." (67) The mediator is the mirror of the infinite universe, reflecting in himself the will and work of the universe. It is important to note that in identifying human self-consciousness with the activity of the universe, Schleiermacher is not an idealist. Rather, following Spinoza, Schleiermacher posits the infinite universe first, and then posits human self-consciousness as the reflection of this original being.
This form of mediation is passive: it requires little activity on the part of the intuiter-mediator. The universe is self-mediating through the individual mediator. Schleiermacher maintains that whatever degree of the two forces an individual or a class manifests, it remains, nonetheless, a part of the universe, a member that participates in the movement of the whole. Indeed, these different degrees of development are nothing other than the different ways in which finite individuals present the infinite whole within themselves: "everything is a work of the universe and only thus can religion regard humans." (68) A single individual element in the universe is nothing but the "work of the universe," and humans are nothing but one of these works, a point in which the infinite universe reveals itself.
Yet, in spite of such emphasis on the passive nature of the intuition-mediation of the infinite in the finite, from the perspective of the finite individual, such mediation is an active undertaking. First, though intuition is passive, what one intuits, the vision that one has of the infinite, depends in part on the individual's place in the universe, what Schleiermacher calls the individual's sense and imagination.
Which of these intuitions of the universe we appropriate depends on our sense of the universe. This is the proper measure of our religiousness; whether we have a God as a part of our intuition depends on the direction of our imagination. (69)
Thus, the act of intuition depends in part on the particularity of the individual, for it is the individual's unique reception of the infinite that makes the infinite's manifestation indeed infinite. (70)
However, this is hot the extent of activity. Schleiermacher maintains that intuition is possible only within the world of humanity. He writes: "in order to intuit the world and to have religion, man must have first found humanity, and he finds it only in love and through love." (71) Indeed, humanity makes intuition possible precisely because it gives us a "world," and it is in this world that we intuit. (72) The first man, alone, did not have a world; however, the deity "created for him a partner, and now, for the first time, the world rose before his eyes. In the flesh and bone of his bone he discovered humanity, and in humanity the world." (73) The world is an outcome of humanity--of human relations, imagination, and communication. However, it is not only the world that is discovered in humanity, but also the infinite universe: "You will know that it is our imagination [Phantasie] that created the world for you, and that you can have no God without the world." (74) Schleiermacher is here saying that the world created by humanity is also the world in which the divine reveals itself. Indeed, as we have noted, and as Schleiermacher emphasizes here once again, the divine (God) cannot be had ("you can have no God") outside of the finite world, intuitions of the infinite are possible only in this world. For it is only in the world that we can find the infinite, or, as Schleiermacher puts it, we can be conscious of "the infinite ... only ... mediated through a finite object [mittelst des Endlichen], by means of which our tendency to postulate and seek a world, leads us from detail and part to the All and the Whole."(75) What is remarkable is that this world in which the divine reveals itself--the world which is meant to reflect the divine--is also the world which human beings actively create.
Schleiermacher makes his point even more strongly when he seems to identify the infinite with humanity, and intuition of the infinite with intuition of humanity. To quote at length,
There were moments when, in spite of all distinctions of sex, culture, and external circumstances, you thought, felt, and acted this way, when you really were this or that person. You have passed through all these different forms within your own order; you yourself are a compendium [Kompendium] of humanity; in a certain sense your personality embraces the whole of human nature in all its presentations this is nothing but your own self that is reproduced, clearly delineated, and immortalized in all its alterations [und dies ist in allen ihren Darstellungen nichts, als euer eigenes Vervielfaltigtes, deutlicher ausgezeichnetes, und in allen seinen Verdnderungen verwigtes Ich]. In whomever religion has thus worked back again inwardly and has discovered there the infinite, it is complete in that person in this respect; he no longer needs a mediator [Mittler] for some intuition of humanity, and he himself can be a mediator for many. (76)
In this polemical passage, (77) Schleiermacher seems to equate humanity and the world it has created with the infinite. He who finds humanity within himself and has, as such, become a "compendium" of humanity, is also the person who has discovered the infinite within himself. For this reason, this person "no longer needs a mediator for some intuition of humanity," but becomes a mediator for many. Thus, it would seem that in finding humanity within oneself, one also finds the infinite.
A careful interpretation of this "compendium" passage shows that Schleiermacher is neither positing an anthropomorphic understanding of the divine nor even leaning toward anthropocentrism. First, to be a compendium of humanity whereby one extends beyond himself to encompass all "distinctions of sex, culture and external circumstances," and therein to find the infinite, does not mean, as has often be interpreted, that humanity and the infinite are identical. (78) Rather, to come to see that the entirety of human nature "is nothing but your own self," that is, to tome to recognize the same in the other and the other in the same, depends upon an original intuition of the infinite and a recognition of how the infinite permeates everything, namely, the "higher standpoint." To see the other in the same and the same in the other, to recognize that humanity in "all its versions" is nothing but one's self, is the result of an intuition of the universe. Such an intuition, as we saw in the previous sections, is an intuition of the infinite in the finite. Thus, it is possible, and indeed necessary, that the individual intuiter intuit the infinite not in some transcendent being beyond the world, but in the human world--the finite--itself. To say that in humanity one finds the infinite is not to anthropomorphize the infinite, but to provide one example in which the infinite manifests itself. It is thus not the case that the intuiter's intuition is of humanity (recall, for Schleiermacher, intuition teaches us nothing about the object intuited); rather, it is mediated through humanity. Thus, to have an intuition of infinite humanity and to identify infinite humanity with the universe, as its mirror, means only that infinite humanity is the object of the universe's mediations and manifestations. In the same way that history and nature are also objects of the universe's mediations, so is humanity. However, and this remains the pressing point, the infinite universe, according to Schleiermacher, can reveal itself only in the world created by humanity. In order to ascertain the meaning of this statement, it is necessary to understand what Schleiermacher means by human world and its relation to the infinite.
In the Monologen, published only a year after the first edition of the Rede'n, Schleiermacher outlines three major themes: the inner self, in contrast to the external world; relations between human selves, what he calls "eternal communities"; and finally, the influence that the activity of each human self has upon the development of the whole. Schleiermacher begins the Monologen by underscoring the existence of an inner self that must be distinguished from the transient self that belongs to time and to the activities of the external world. As the only true self, the inner self is not bound to the natural necessity of the external world; it is eternal and in community with other eternal selves. Further, though Schleiermacher distinguishes between the inner self and the external world, he writes that efforts at self-development also develop (bilden) the world in which one exists. (79) It would thus seem that Schleiermacher's notion of an inner self is not one of any isolated, self-centered self, but rather of a self that is inherently connected with and participating in the activity and development of the world (like the individual depicted in the Reden). "There is no action in me that I can rightly regard as isolated, and none about which I could say that it is a whole." (80)
There are two senses in which community is significant here. Each of the senses corresponds to the "twofold vocation of man on earth." (81) The first is "to develop [bilden] humanity in oneself to a definite form." (82) This development takes place when the individual cornes to recognize the whole of humanity within himself. Such development can only occur within a community. Schleiermacher writes, "I cannot develop myself in isolation.... I must go out and join a community with other spirits, to see the many forms of humanity and what is alien to me, to know what can become of myself, and to determine more securely through give and take my own nature." (83) Through relations within a community one comes to differentiate oneself, to distinguish oneself, and in turn, to delineate oneself. This moment of delineation is composed of the two drives of extension and attraction. In the first instance, the individual must have "a sense open for everything that is not themselves," (84) and, in the second, the individual assimilates all that is other into himself, or to use Schleiermacher's words, one comes to "bear [one's] stamp," on all that is other. (85) This movement of extension and return to self is the movement of the mediator, in the first instance moving outward to "go through all of humanity," (86) and in the second, returning to oneself to find the infinite therein. Through this movement from otherness to self, "the most distant ceases to appear strange and ceases to repel." (87)
The second way in which community is significant has less to do with individual delineation and more with the overcoming of the delineated particular self. It corresponds with the second of the vocations, namely, "to present [darstellen] [humanity] in many different kinds of action, or to portray [abbilden] it externally through artistic works so that everyone must recognize what one wants to show." (88) In the Reden, Schleiermacher considers the heretic an exemplary instantiation of both individual delineation and individual overcoming, the twofold vocation of humanity. "Something highly voluntary is the cause of [heresy's] having arisen," because the heretic freely chooses to make "a particular intuition of the universe the center of the whole of religion" and in turn relates "everything therein to it." (89) However, this is not the extent of the heretic's activity. By making such a choice, the heretic not only individuates himself but also determines the whole, giving it a particular shape:
everything that was previously ambiguous and indeterminate is fixed; of the infinite varied views and relationships of individual elements, all of which were possible and all of which should be presented, a single one is thoroughly related through every such formation; all individual elements now appear from a perspective of the same name that is turned toward that center, and just in this way all feelings receive a common tone while becoming livelier and more engaged in one another. (90)
Determining the whole leads to the establishment of a "firm abode" and "an active citizenship" in the world. Only then, Schleiermacher continues, can one boast of "contributing something to the existence and growth of the whole; only he is a truly religious person with a character and fixed and definite traits." (91) What the heretic does is, on the one hand, delineate himself by choosing to make one intuition the center of his existence, and, on the other, expand beyond himself by giving expression to the infinite through such delimitation.
The question arises, what does it mean to "give expression" to the infinite? There are two ways in which the infinite is expressed or communicated. In the first sense, the intuiter relates his vision to others. Schleiermacher describes this moment:
In the forum of mutual communication where such an exchange takes place, no one is either a priest or a layperson. Rather, each person is a priest to the extent that he draws others to himself ... each is a layperson to the extent that he follows the art and direction of another.... There is none of that tyrannical aristocracy ... this society is a priestly people, a perfect republic where each leads and is led; each follows in the other the same power that he also feels in himself and with which he rules others. (92)
Expression of the infinite in this forum of mutual communication is expression of one's vision of the infinite, namely, sharing one's intuition with others. The heretic establishes a community when he chooses to make one intuition the central guiding intuition of his life and, in turn, to portray this intuition to others. "He steps forth to present his own intuition as the object for the rest, to lead them into the region of religion where he is at home and to implant his holy feelings in them; he expresses the universe, and the community follows his inspired speech in holy silence." (93) When attempting such expression of one's original intuition, the expression remains secondary to the moment of intuition and to the feeling one wishes to relate: "his first endeavor, when a religious view has become clear to him or a pious feeling penetrates his soul, is also to direct others to the object, and if possible, to communicate the vibrations of his mind to them." (94) It is in the moment of intuition that the infinite is grasped, and it is in feeling that the infinite is realized. In turn, the moment of communicating the infinite remains dependent upon the original intuition and consequent feeling. Thus, in such expression the intuition remains the primary point of contact between the individual and the universe, the "touchstone."
However, for Schleiermacher, communication of the infinite does not merely amount to relating one's original intuition to others. (95) In fact, the very act of communication itself is an expression of the infinite--not in the secondary way described above, that is, as a relation of one's original intuition, but in a primary way. He writes,
The more each person approaches the universe, the more he communicates himself to others, and the more perfectly do they become one; none is conscious of himself alone, but each is simultaneously conscious of the other. They are no longer merely people, but also humanity; going out beyond themselves, triumphing over themselves, they are on the way to true immortality and eternity. (96)
This is a significant passage and deserves to be read closely. First, communication and approximation to the universe are depicted as parallel ("the more each person approaches the universe, the more he communicates himself to others"). In turn, such communication creates a community ("the more perfectly do they become one," and "they are no longer merely people, but also humanity"). Thus, in communicating, the individual is at once approximating the universe and creating a human community. Such community-creation also involves self-overcoming ("going out beyond themselves, triumphing over themselves"), for it is only in overcoming one's delineated personality that one can truly become a mediator, give expression to the infinite and be its mirror. Thus, the mediator must hot merely move outward then return inward, for that is only the first step in mediation, the step outlined above and described as "self-formation." The second step, community-formation, requires moving outward again, or "self-overcoming." In the same way that the heretic, following his delineation, expresses the infinite by determining all that is indeterminate, so here the individual gives expression to the infinite in the very act of communication, in the simultaneous act of determination of and approximation to the infinite. Such determination of the infinite through communication is community-formation, the building of the "perfect republic" through continued expression of the infinite.
The human vocation thus involves, on the one hand, self-formation and delineation within the community and, on the other, self-overcoming in order to portray the infinite in the creation of such a community. Whereas in the first sense the individual determines himself, in the second, the individual determines the community, in attempting to give expression to the infinite through his acts and works. This community forms a "living organic whole," where every member is not merely a member but indeed "indispensable to all others." (97)
Communication as community-creation is the determination of what is indeterminate, in other words, the bringing of the infinite universe into the finite world, or mediation. It is in this way that communication and approximation to the infinite are parallel. In communication one is not merely communicating but, more significantly, creating a world, the "perfect republic," that mediates the infinite, or through which the infinite mediates itself. The individual is thus not merely a passive agent but also a creator. Through such creation, the world, as mediation, and the individual, as mediator, become mirrors of the universe. To quote at length,
By making him aware of the concept of his reciprocal action with the world and teaching him to know himself not only as creature but also as creator, philosophy will no longer tolerate the person under its purview who, turning his gaze steadfastly to his own spirit in order to seek the universe there, should miss the mark and pine in poverty and need. The anxious wall of division will be torn down; everything external to him is merely an other within him; everything is the reflection of his spirit, and his spirit is the reproduction of everything. The human spirit will dare to seek itself in this reflection without losing itself or going out of itself; it can never be exhausted while intuiting itself, for everything lies within it. (98)
What we noted to be the significant characteristic of intuition--intuition as the touchstone between the infinite and finite--and of passive mediation--reflecting the infinite universe--are no longer simply the outcome of intuition and passive mediation, but also of active mediation. To mediate the universe, to bring it into the world, and thus to create a world that mediates--reflects--the universe, is also a means by which the individual finds a point of contact with and in turn approaches the universe. The world itself thus becomes a touchstone, a place for such contact. If we recall, at the beginning of the second speech, Schleiermacher writes that those who have intuitions of the infinite "look with undivided attention to the place where the vision is to show itself." This place is precisely the world created out of the mediation of the infinite, for through such mediation, a sacred place is born, a "perfect republic," in which hearers and listeners mutually partake of the continuing development of the world to which they belong. "A person," writes Schleiermacher, "belongs to the world that he helps to create." (99) Thus, while through intuition one comes to recognize one's place in the universe and to reveal it in a passive way, through mediation, one communicates and in turn creates one's place in the world, and thus one makes possible future revelations of the infinite and communication of one's intuitions.
Intuition and mediation cannot be easily separated. In fact, intuition, as we saw, is a passive form of mediation and depends upon prior mediation--depends upon a world, a finite particular point in which the infinite reveals itself. In turn, mediation can take place only after one has seen the original and inherent unity between the finite and the infinite. Underlying Schleiermacher's understanding of the relation between intuition and mediation, between passivity and activity, is his understanding of the relation between the infinite and the finite.
At the end of the second speech, Sihleiermacher describes immortality as the "annihilation" of one's individuality for the sake of the "one and all," the "fusion" of oneself with the universe. "Immortality," he writes, "may not be a wish unless it has first been a task you have carried out. To be one with the infinite in the midst of the finite and to be eternal in a moment, that is the immortaity of religion." (100) Immortality does not mean going beyond the finite in order to be one with a transcendent infinite, for the infinite, according to Schleiermacher, is not transcendent. It does not exist outside of its finite manifestations. However, this does not mean that it is imminent in the traditional sense. For, in spire of its relation to the finite, it remains distinct from the finite. The infinite and the finite do not collapse into one. Each retains its independence. For this reason, the infinite universe is neither transcendent nor imminent in the traditional senses of these terms. Rather, it is identical yet distinct from its finite members.
As such, intuition and mediation are hot opposed concepts, for, as we have shown, to intuit does not mean to move beyond the finite world into the infinite, and to mediate does not mean to subsume the infinite (and thus lose it) in a finite system. The infinite exists in its finite manifestations, and the finite is a mediation of the infinite. For this reason, the two concepts, intuition and mediation, must go hand in hand. To intuit the infinite universe always already implies the mediation of the infinite in the finite; in turn, to mediate the infinite universe always already implies an intuition of the infinite in the finite.
Finally, mediation, according to Schleiermacher, is the creation of a world, a "perfect republic," that functions as a point of contact with the infinite universe, as a reflection of it. This mediation does not in any way imply discursive conceptualization. Rather, as a creative practice, mediation is a continual "approximation," to use Schleiermacher's word, to the infinite, an unending attempt to be eternal in a moment.
Correspondence to: Lessingweg 23, 72076 Tubingen, Germany.
(1) Wilhelm Dilthey, Leben Schleiermachers, ed. Martin Redecker (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1970); Karl Barth, Die Protestantische Theologie im 19 Jahrhundert (Zurich: Evangelische Verlag, 1947); Hans-Georg Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode (Tubingen: Mohr, 1986). For the most recent interpretation of Schleiermacher's emphasis on immediacy, see Manfred Frank, "Metaphysical Foundations: A Look at Schleiermacher's Dialectic," trans. Jacqueline Marina and Christine Helmer, in The Cambridge Companion to Schleiermacher, ed. Jacqueline Marina (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 15-34. Frank's claim that Schleiermacher is indebted to Leibniz and his teacher Eberhard--more so than he is to Kant, for example--concludes, as Frank himself observes, in a contradiction: Schleiermacher adopts Leibniz's notion of identity, which is mediated through the concept, but nevertheless emphasizes the priority of being or the object prior to self-consciousness or the subject. See Frank, 31-3.
(2) With regard to the first reading of Schleiermacher as remaining true to Kantian limitations, see Julia Lamm, The Living God: Schleiermacher's Theological Appropriation of Spinoza (State College: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996). See n. 44 below on my contention with Lamm's reading. As for readings of Schleiermacher as proto-Hegelian, see Michael Theunissen, "Introduction: Zehn Thesen tiber Schleiermacher Heute," in Schleiermacher's Philosophy and the Philosophical Tradition, ed. Sergio Sorrention (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1992), 1-2. He writes, "Schleiermacher ist, ungeachtet seines Insistierens auf Unmittelbarkeit, ebensosehr Vermittlungsdenker wie sein Antipode Hegel." Theunissen's association of Schleiermacher with Hegel may be on the right track in its suggestion of the significance of mediation in Schleiermacher; however, it is certainly inaccurate to understand Schleiermacher's notion of mediation as proto-Hegelian. Indeed, as we shall see, for Schleiermacher, mediation has nothing to do with discursivity or the creation of a system. Rather, it is a creative practice, or what I call "world creation." For Schleiermacher as a proto-pragmatist, see Jeffrey Kinlaw, "Quine, Schleiermacher, and the Case Against Analyticity: An Argument for Schleiermacher as a Proto-pragmatist," unpublished manuscript. Kinlaw completely foregoes the notion of intuition in Sehleiermacher, arguing that indeed, intuition is significant only in the first edition of the Reden. It is in fact true that Schleiermacher speaks less of intuition in the later two editions; however, he continues to speak of feeling (Gefuhl) which he considers immediate. As such, the notion of immediacy is not one that Schleiermacher gives up. For more on the significance of feeling in Schleiermacher, see n. 4 below.
(3) Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, Kritische Gesamtausgabe, ed. Hermann Fischer and Gunter Meckenstock (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1980). I will provide two page numbers when citing the first edition of the Reden (1799), the first from the Kristische Gesamtausgabe (hereafter, "KGA") and the second from the English translation, On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers, ed. and trans. Richard Crouter, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). I will provide Crouter's complete translations, unless otherwise indicated with a "translation altered." When citing the second or third editions of the Reden (1806, 1821), I will provide only one page reference, to the Kritische Gesamtausgabe, vol. 12. The citation of this passage is thus as follows, KGA 2:213; Crouter, 24.
(4) The notion of feeling, Gefuhl, is a significant one in Schleiermacher, one that has played a central role in Schleiermacher scholarship. In his later edition of the Reden, Schleiermacher emphasizes feeling and downplays intuition. In his later works, Schleiermacher famously describes the relationship between the infinite God and the finite individual human being as a feeling of schlechthin Abhengagkeit, absolute dependence. On the differences of emphasis between the first and second editions of the Reden, especially with regard to feeling, see Herman Susskind, Der Einfluss Schellings auf die Entwicklung von Schleiermachers System (Tubingen: JCB Mohr, 1909), 229-34. On the notion of Gefuhl in Schleiermacher's early unpublished works, see Julia Lamm, "The Early Philosophical Roots of Schleiermacher's Notion of 'Gefuhl,' 1788-1794," Harvard Theological Review 87 (1994): 67-106. Because of Schleiermacher's emphasis on feeling, Karl Barth takes feeling to be the mediator between the infinite and the finite. It is within the individual's subjective feeling that the infinite is manifest, nowhere else. He writes, "Nur im Gefuhl seiner Wirkung ist uns Gott als Ursache gegeben, nicht anderswie.... Wir hatten es dann nich mit Gott, sondern mit der Welt zu tun. Also ist Gott uns nicht gegenstandlich gegeben, Gott bedetutet vielmehr 'zuruckschieben.' Das Bewusstsein um Gott bleibt also 'eingesclossen' in das Gefuhl, und so kann die Aussprache der Vorstellung 'Gott' nichts Anderes bedeuten als die Aussrpache des Gefuhls uber sich selber, die unmitterbarste Selbst-Reflexion," Die Protestantische Theologie, 418. Because he takes feeling to be the means by which one encounters God, and downplays intuition, I believe Barth mistakenly locates the relation between the infinite and finite within the human self. This leads Barth to conclude that Schleiermacher's religion is subjectivist and anthropomorphic, and does not allow for a true "Other." In contrast to Barth's reading, I posit that what mediates the infinite is not merely the feeling of the infinite in the human self, but everything--the entire world is a mediator of the infinite. The question thus arises, how does one know if the infinite is in fact what one is encountering, and not something very big. To this question, Barth would answer, feeling. In contrast, I would say that infinite leads to the "higher standpoint," and, also very significantly, to a desire to share one's vision within a community and to create a community.
(5) KGA 2:218; Crouter, 29.
(6) Barth's examination of Schleiermacher's Reden offers precisely such a reading, see Die Protestantische Theologie, 379-424. See also n. 4 above.
(7) KGA 2:267; Crouter, 73.
(8) KGA 2:232; Crouter, 41.
(9) Though Schleiermacher makes use of the term "divine [Gottheit]" in the first edition of the Reden (1799), the prevalent terms are "infinite [unendlich]" and "universe [Universum]," which are then replaced with "divine [Gottheit]" in the second and third editions (1806, 1821 respectively). For our purposes, I will assume that all three have the same meaning.
(10) As Albert L. Blackwell argues, Schleiermacher's wish to dissociate himself from Spinoza, who was at that time considered a pantheist and therefore an atheist, is not convincing. The heart of the matter rests on Schleiermacher's relations with his mentor, Friedrich Samuel Gottfried Sack, who, as one of the censors on the Prussian board of censors, accused the Reden of Spinozism. However, Schleiermacher's defense, which Blackwell cites, "You take something spoken of only in passing, on only a few pages, for the principal part?", rests on the fact that Spinoza's name is mentioned only twice in the Speeches. But, Blackwell argues, Schleiermacher's "complaint oversimplifies the issue ... the mood of the entire second Speech--considerably the longest of the rive speeches that comprise the book--corresponds closely to the tone of Spinoza's philosophy"; Albert L. Blackwell, "The Antagonistic Correspondence of 1801 between Chaplain Sack and his Protege Schleiermacher," Harvard Theological Review 74 (1981): 118-9; see also 101-21.
(11) For a complete study of Spinoza's influence on Schleiermacher, see Lamm, The Living God, 86-7. She writes, "Schleiermacher's system remains a form of Spinozism, not only nominally in its direct appeal to Spinoza ('the holy rejected Spinoza!'), but also fundamentally. As was true in his earlier essays of 1793-94, Spinoza still helps him, on the one hand, to overcome Kant's bifurcated reality by insisting on the unity of all that is, and, on the other, to avoid Fichte's resolution of that bifurcation by insisting on the reality of nature and our dependence on it. But the appeal in 1799 finds something else in Spinoza: Spinoza's intuition of the infinite is an expression of a pious sensibility." For all of the influences on Schleiermacher, including Herder's generous reading of Spinoza and neo-Spinozism in Germany, see Kurt Nowak's biography, Schleiermacher: Leben, Werke und Wirkung (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 2001), and his study of Schleiermacher's relation to the early romantics, Schleiermacher und die Fruhromantik (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1986).
(12) Regarding Spinoza's status in the German academy at the rime, see David Bell, Spinoza in Germany from 1670 to the Age of Goethe (London: The Institute of German Studies, University of London, 1984).
(13) See Lamm, The Living God, 13-4. Manfred Frank emphasizes the role played by Karl-Heinrich Heydenreich's Natur und Gott nach Spinoza (1789), which appeared almost at the same time as Jacobi's letters. Frank claims that the significant role that feeling, especially self-feeling, plays in Schleiermacher can be traced back to Heydenreich's interpretation of Spinoza. See Frank's "Metaphysical Foundations," 18.
(14) Spinoza, Ethics, ed. and trans. G. H. R. Parkinson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). In citing this text, I will provide the book number, followed by a colon, the proposition number, and, in cases where it is either a collorary or a scholium, followed by a comma and then an indication of either. This citation is as follows: 1:17.
(15) Spinoza, Ethics 1:15, scholium.
(16) "Individual things therefore, so far as they exist only in a certain determinate mode, are non-entia; the indeterminate infinite being is the only single true ens reale, hoc est, est omne esse, & praeter quod nullum datur esse [This is the real being; it is the all of being, and apart from it there is no being]"; Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Werke, ed. Klaus Hammacher and Walter Jaeschke, vol. 1, Ueber die Lehre des Spinoza in Briefen an den Herrn Moses Mendelssohn (Hamburg: Meiner, 1998), B100.
(17) Compare Karl Barth's lecture on Schleiermacher: "Ich wusste keine Stelle, aus der sich ergeben wiirde, dass das Schleiermachersche Universum etwas Anderes ware als ... die ubermachtige Kausalitat"; Karl Barth Gesamtausgabe, vol. 2 (Zurich: Theologischer Verlag Zurich, 1978), 452. Barth's mischaracterization of the relation between the infinite and finite as one of overpowering causality leads to his view that for Schleiermacher the infinite universe is nothing but activity. Barth thus asks, "was unterscheidet dann eigentlich diese gottliche Aktion etwa von einem in die Unendlichkeit projizierten Wasserfall, der alle wirklichen und moglichen Turbinen in diesem armen Erdental gleichzeitig in Bewegung setzt?" (453). The difference between a big waterfall and the infinite lies in fact that one's intuition of the infinite yields a "higher standpoint" from which one comes to see that the infinite does not relate to the finite in a causal way but rather, as we shall shortly see, in an organic way. The higher standpoint recognizes that every particular finite has its own "inner fate," to use Schleiermacher's phrase, within it, but at the same time cannot exist isolated outside of the whole. Looking at a waterfall as waterfall, or as something gigantic, does not yield a higher standpoint. Only seeing the infinite in the waterfall would lead to such a standpoint. See also Schleiermacher's polemic against natural religion, KGA 2:225; Crouter, 35 and KGA 2:310; Crouter, 109-11.
(18) For a comparison between Schleiermacher's two notions of attraction and repulsion and Schelling's potencies, see Susskind, Der Einfluss Schellings, esp. 194-204.
(19) KGA 2:191; Crouter, 5.
(20) KGA 2:264; Crouter, 70.
(21) KGA 2:191; Crouter, 5.
(23) KGA 2:191; Crouter, 5.
(24) As we shall see in section 3, this is a point of difference between Schleiermacher and Spinoza. While, for Spinoza, finite individuals remain mere appearances of the infinite substance, for Schleiermacher, though identical with the infinite substance, finite individuals are real entities that contain within them their own life, what he calls an "inner fate." As such, they are distinct from as well as identical to the infinite substance.
(25) KGA 2:192; Crouter, 5-6 (translation altered).
(26) Compare Susskind, Der Einfluss Schellings, 23, who describes the difference between Spinoza and Schleiermacher in somewhat different terms. He explains that the basic principle of Spinoza's thought is the inherence of the finite things in the infinite. In contrast, for Schleiermacher, the idea is turned upside down, where it is the infinite that inheres in the finite. Though I think Susskind is making an important point by showing how radically different Schleiermacher's understanding of the relation between the infinite and finite is from Spinoza's understanding, and in turn underscoring the reality of the finite individual thing for Schleiermacher, I do not think that the relationship is one-sided. That is, it is not only that the infinite inheres in the finite, but also that the finite inheres in the infinite.
(27) KGA 2:252; Crouter, 59.
(28) Spinoza's substance, in contrast, is imminent in that its finite modifications do not contain their cause within themselves and are therefore not independent and distinct from it.
(29) Compare Wolfgang H. Pegler, Schleiermachers Philosophie (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1988), 50-2. Pegler outlines three different notions that Schleiermacher has of 'nature': Natur als Widerstand, Natur als Wesen, and Natur als Ganze. Natur als Widerstand is the infinite as dead matter, as I identify it below. Pegler adds that Natur als Widerstand works against reason, and in turn contrasts it with Natur als Wesen which is in accord with reason. In Schleiermacher und die Fruhromantik, Kurt Nowak posits rive different ways in which the Universum in Sehleiermacher is depicted. "l. Universum als Totalitat alles Seins und Geschehens im Sinne eines relative un-spezifischen Globalbegriffs; 2. Universum als Natur, freilich nur als dessen verganglicher Vorhof; 3. Universum als Menschheit; 4. Universum als geistig und religios transparent gewordener Geschehenszusammenhang geschichtlichen Seins und Werdens; 5. Universum als das tranzendent-immanente Ineinanderschlagen des Ganzen und des Einzelnen" (167). In his later book, Schleiermacher, Nowak posits only the last four notions of the Universum (104). What is missing in the second book is Nowak's first description of the Universum. In contrast to both Nowak's and Pegler's readings of Natur/ Universum, which make Schleiermaeher seem to have several different notions which he employs, I think Schleiermacher has one consistent notion to which he returns rime and again, and the other notions, whether they be "dead nature," or "infinite humanity," are used by Schleiermacher as examples from which to distinguish his one consistent notion of Universum. More significantly, I disagree with Nowak's equation of the Universum with Menschheit. Menschheit is a particular historical manifestation of the infinite and a historical. Though there is an identity between the two--we will turn to this in the following sections--they are in fact separate and distinct. In positing Menschheit as simply identical with Universum, Nowak's reading can lead to an idealist and anthropocentric Schleiermacher.
(30) KGA 2:232; Crouter, 42.
(31) KGA 2:224; Crouter, 34. See also KGA 2:290; Crouter, 93: "One thing we hope from the perfection of the sciences and arts is that they will make these dead forces subject to us, that they might tutu the corporeal world and everything of the spiritual world that tan be regulated into a fairy palace where the god of the earth needs only to utter a magic word or to press a button to have his commands done."
(32) KGA 2:224; Crouter, 34.
(33) This understanding of the infinite as eternal and immutable is in fact very close to Spinoza's understanding of substance.
(34) KGA 2:225; Crouter, 35.
(35) KGA 2:226; Crouter, 36.
(37) KGA 2:225; Crouter, 35. That Schleiermacher dismisses nature, on the one hand, and depicts the infinite as this living dynamic organism, on the other, makes his view of nature and its relation to humanity a difficult one to pin down. However, it is important to point out that for Schleiermacher nature in the first sense--the nature which he dismisses--is dead nature, and is conceived as such precisely because it is based on the framework of mechanical causation. In contrast, the universe is living organism. Because of Sehleiermacher's first harsh dismissal of mechanical dead nature, many have interpreted him as advancing the thesis that humanity should forcibly alter nature to suit its needs. I think this is a misinterpretation of Schleiermacher based on a misunderstanding of (1) his notion of mechanical nature, and (2) his notion of the infinite universe as living organism. Such misunderstanding leads in turn to conclusions such as Nowak's and Barth's, where humanity is understood to be the final goal or focus of religion. I do not think this is an accurate assessment of Schleiermacher's Reden, as humanity is one part of living natural organism. Herman Susskind also subscribes to Barth's and Nowak's reading when he distinguishes between Schleiermacher and Schelling on the belief that for Schelling nature plays a significant role, and for Schleiermacher, it is only to be dominated. See Susskind, Der Einfluss Schellings, 210.
(38) KGA 2:245; Crouter, 53. See also KGA 2:212; Crouter, 23.
(39) KGA 2:227; Crouter, 36.
(40) KGA 12:130.
(41) KGA 2:234; Crouter, 43.
(43) As to whether the movement of history is linear and moving toward a final goal, I think it is unclear where Schleiermacher stands. Kurt Nowak writes "Der Begriff Universum... widerstrebte einer linearen Entwicklungsvorstellung" (Schleiermacher und die Fruhromantik, 188). On the other hand, in Deu Einfluss Schellings Susskind writes, "Die Geschichte stellt keinen Kreislauf dar, sondern einen Fortschritt zu Hoherem und Volkommenerem" (32).
(44) KGA 2:211; Crouter, 22 (translation altered). Compare Richard Brandt, The Philosophy of Schleiermacher: The Development of His Theory of Scientific and Religious Knowledge (New York: Harper, 1941), 110. Brandt considers the passage to which I am here referring, in which Schleiermacher equates intuition with "childlike passivity," to be unreliable and thus not worthy of further interrogation. He considers this passage, and others like it in which Schleiennacher depicts the subject's relation to the intuition, to be merely "psychological," and since "Schleiermacher's intent in writing this book" was not psychological, "too much reliance should not be placed on these passages." Brandt then goes on to argue that Schleiermacher's notion of intuition is not merely subjective, but that it "furnish[es] objective knowledge of the nature of the universe" (117). It is difficult to understand what Brandt means by "merely psychological," and how he establishes the objectivity of intuition when he does not take into consideration these "merely psychological" passages. In fact, these passages are the most significant with regard to the question of the subjectivity and objectivity of intuition. For it is within these passages that Schleiermacher outlines the relationship between the individual and the universe that is born out of intuition, and in turn, the vision and higher standpoint born out of intuition.
(45)KGA 2:213; Crouter, 24.
(46) KGA 2:215; Crouter, 26.
(47) KGA 2:213; Crouter, 24.
(48) Compare Lamm, The Living God, 86. Lamm argues that the individual intuiter does play a role in the act of intuition and that intuition is not mere reception of the immediate universe. Though I agree that the intuiter does play a role in the act of intuition, that the intuiter's "sense and imagination," affect how he receives the universe, I do not agree with Lamm that the moment of intuition "acknowledges the structures of our understanding and the limits of our reason." Lamm explains that Schleiermacher's is a "higher realism," or a post-Kantian Spinozism. By this she means that though Schleiermacher has a monistic worldview like Spinoza's, it is not a naive realism, but it in fact recognizes the role played by our faculties in our perception--hence it is post-Kantian. "Things are hot as we perceive them to be," she writes to further explain what she means by "post-Kantian" "higher realism." Itis unclear what Lamm means by this statement, that things are not as we perceive them to be, on two bases. First, in intuition, we--as Lamm acknowledges-do not gain conceptual knowledge of the object of out intuition. Rather, all that we have is the effect it has on our senses. Schleiermacher uses the analogy of light to vision to explain what takes place in intuition. Out vision is not of light, we do not come to an understanding of what light is. Yet, in intuition we are forced outside of ourselves, outside of out faculty of representation and conceptualization, and forced, in essence, to encounter something that cannot be conceptualized. This is what makes intuition special. If we were to constrain out intuition of the infinite within Kantian categories, then do we in fact get out of the Kantian gap between subject and object, knower and known? Second, intuition is said to be "immediate" and "particular" by Schleiermacher. Lamm is aware of this, and in fact she emphasizes this point to prove Schleiermacher's realism. However, what can Schleiermacher mean by "immediate" intuition, on the one hand, and the feeling of the infinite, on the other, if all we have is a constrained representation of the infinite mediated through the limits of our capacity to reason? I believe that if we were to constrain intuition within the Kantian categories, as Lamm does, then we do hot escape Kantian dualism. In fact, it is precisely because of its capacity to receive what is unrepresentable and inconceptualizable that intuition overcomes the split. Further, if we attempt to conceptualize and make the intuition enter into out faculty of representation, then we lose the excessive quality of the infinite and, in turn, the feeling of excitement that is born out of this excess.
(49) If Schleiermacher were indeed attempting to join together the notion of immediate intuition with conceptual or representational mediation (which he is hot), then he would not be able to escape the paradox we pointed out above. For it would be paradoxical to emphasize intuition in that it alone grasps the particular, on the one hand, and to attempt to systematize the intuition, on the other, thus "losing" the particular in the concept.
(50) KGA 2:214; Crouter, 25.
(51) KGA 2:216; Crouter, 27.
(52) KGA 2:227; Crouter, 36 (translation altered).
(54) KGA 2:218: Crouter, 29.
(55) KGA 2:218; Crouter, 29.
(56) KGA 2:213; Crouter, 24.
(57) KGA 2:206; Crouter, 18.
(58) KGA 2:221; Crouter, 32.
(60) In the same passage where Schleiermacher asks his readers to familiarize themselves with the notion of intuition, he also writes that on the basis of intuition, "you should be able to find every place in religion, from which you may determine its essence and its limits"; KGA 2:213; Crouter, 24.
(61) KGA 2:232; Crouter, 42.
(62) KGA 2:193; Crouter, 6.
(65) Susskind writes that Rudolf Haym was the first to come to this conclusion and this precise characterization of the world as "mirror" to the universe. However, Haym came to this aster he read Dilthey's Lebens Schleiermachers and thus after he had already written Die Romantische Schule. Susskind quotes Haym, "Das Endliche, Einzelne, Individuelle ist Ausdruck, Spiegel des Unendlichen"; Der Einfluss Schellings, 21.
(66) KGA 2:213; Crouter, 24.
(68) KGA 2:143; Crouter, 58-9.
(69) KGA 2:245; Crouter, 53.
(70) Kurt Nowak argues that intuition is necessarily active for Schleiermacher on the premise that the very individuation of the infinite is dependent on the activity of the finite. He writes, "Als so und nicht anders Wahrgenommenes konnte es sich aber nicht ohne die je verschiedenartige Subjektivitat des anschauenden Individuums konstituieren. Dadurch wurde der Wahrnehmungsakt aus seiner Gleichformigkeit befreit und in die Unendlichen der (religiosen) Individuen multipliziert. Auf diese Weise gewann die 'Religion' bis eine Unendlichte variable Gestaltungen und Ausdrucksformen, eine nicht ausschbpfbare individuelle Fulle--ein Gedanke, der das romantische Individualitatsmuster in eine letzte konsequenzfuhrte"; Schleiermacher und die Fruhromantik, 169. This kind of activity attributed to the moment of intuition is distinct from the Kantian constraints which Lamm wants to attribute to intuition. See n. 48 above.
(71) KGA 2:228; Crouter, 38.
(72) Recall that though intuition is of the infinite, it is always of the infinite as mediated; thus, there must always be, prior to the act of intuition, some form of mediation. Here Schleiermacher explains that this mediation is the "human world."
(73) KGA 2:227-8; Crouter, 37.
(74) KGA 2:245; Crouter, 53.
(75) KGA 12:130, #2.
(76) KGA 2:232; Crouter, 42 (translation altered).
(77) Polemical because of its focus on humanity, and the identification--it would seem--of humanity with the infinite. Some thinkers take this passage as evidence of Schleiermacher's anthropomorphism, while others are willing to overlook it. See Franz Christ, Menschlich von Gott reden. Das problem des anthropomorphismus bei Schleiermacher (Zurich: Okumenische Theologie 1982). Karl Barth accuses Schleiermacher of anthropocentrism, see his lectures on Schleiermacher, Karl Barth Gesamtausgabe 2:440-5.
(78) See for example Nowak's list of the different meanings the infinite has, one of which is Menschheit, n. 29. Nowak also edits a collection of Schleiermacher's Athenaeum Fragments, which he calls "Bruchstucke der Unendlichen Menschheit." In his Nachwort, Nowak does not provide an explanation as to why he edits the collection under that name. He speaks only of how the romantics were interested in bringing humanity into harmony with the universe (in fact, in this explanatory notes, he rarely mentions humanity). See Bruchstucke der Unendlichen Menschheit: Fragmente, Aphorismen und Notate der fruhromantischen Jahre, ed. Kurt Nowak (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlanganstalt, 2000). Also see Emil Fuchs, Vom Werden dreier Denker. Was wollen Fichte, Schelling und Schleiermacher in den ersten Periode ihrer Entwicklung? (Tubingen: JCB Mohr, 1904), 372-4. Fuchs has an interesting reading of Schleiermacher's notion of intuition, in which he argues that for Schleiermacher there are three different kinds of intuition: sinnliche Anschauung, religiose Anschauung, and Selbstanschauung. He explains that there is an "almost immutable necessity," quoting Schleiermacher, between Selbstanschauung and religiose Anschauung which makes "das Universum als Gott d. h. als Personlichkeit zu denken, da ja die Anschauung kein anderes Bild geistigen Wesens entwerfen kann als das von Menschen genommene" (374). See also, Barth, Die protestantische Theologie, 379-424.
(79) KGA 3:11.
(80) KGA 3:12.
(81) KGA 3:19.
(82) KGA 3:20.
(83) KGA 3:21.
(86) KGA 2:232; Crouter, 42.
(87) KGA 12:142, #14.
(88) KGA 3:20.
(89) KGA 2:302; Crouter, 104.
(92) KGA 2:269; Crouter, 75.
(94) KGA 2:267-8; Crouter, 73 (emphasis added).
(95) Compare Barth, Die Protestantische Theologie, 405-6. Barth writes that for Schleiermacher, feeling is the primary way of relating to God, and that the word is only secondary, in that it is only a communication of the original feeling. For this reason, Barth calls Schleiermacher's theology a "Theologie des frommen Selbstbewusstseins." According to Barth, insofar as feeling is what brings about self-conscious, it is also what mediates one's finitude to the infinity of God. For this reason, Schleiermacher's theology is a theology of feeling, a theology of self-consciousness. "Weil das Gefuhl an sich die siegreiche Mitte zwischen Wissen und Tun, weil es ira Unterschied zu diesen Funktionen das eigentliche Selbstbewusstsein selber und schon damit mindestens der subjektive Reprasentant der Wahrheit ist, und weil das Gefuhl als frommes Gefuhl der schlechthinnigen Abhangigkeit des Menschen, d. h. das Gefuhl seiner Beziehung zu Gott ist, darum ist die Schleiermachersche Theologie Gefuhltheologie, genauer gesagt: Theologie des frommen Gefuhls, oder Bewusstseinstheologie, genauer gesagt: Theologie des frommen Selbstbewusstseins." This leads Barth to conclude that for Schleiermacher the Word has only a secondary significance in relation to feeling. "Die Satze sind nur das Abgeleitete, der innere Zustand ist das Ursprungliche" (406). The word is thus only a reporting of the original relation between the finite and the infinite, mediated by feeling (and therefore not the word). In contrast to Barth's assessment, I contend that for Schleiermacher communication works on two levels: the first is the way in which it is deemed by Barth--as secondary in relation to the original intuition--and the second level of communication is communication as itself revelation of the infinite. Through communicating, one is not merely relating an original event but also creating a world in which another original event will take place. Moreover, the very act of communicating, of making determinate and thus individuating the infinite, is a revelation of the infinite. It is thus hot a merely secondary relation to the infinite that relates an original intuition, or feeling, but also a primary relation to the infinite that reveals the infinite in its own way. Barth's critique of Schleiermacher's anthropomorphism of God is based on the premise that Schleiermacher's theology is a theology of Selbtsbewusstsein, that is, where human self-consciousness is a revelation of the infinite, a reflection of it, a "mirror" of its "will and works." As I hope to show, mediation is not limited to passive mirroring of the infinite universe; it also entails activity on the part of the human being, and this activity is nothing less than the creation of a community. Further, this community is not a complete reflection of the infinite, but it is always striving to attain such perfection. In this way, Schleiermacher not only retains distinctness between the infinite universe and finite humanity, but he also underscores that the "mirroring" of the infinite in the finite remains incomplete. As such, the infinite does hot become the finite, and therefore, the divine cannot be identified with the human.
(96) KGA 2:291; Crouter, 94.
(97) KGA 12:143, #14.
(98) KGA 2:263-4; Crouter, 70.
(99) Ibid., 35.
(100) KGA 2:247; Crouter, 54.
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|Author:||Nassar, Dalia T.|
|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2006|
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