An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 317 pages of information about An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant.
him, and which, in another sense, he saved.  His recollections of his instruction among the Herrnhuter are full of beauty and pathos.  His sister never advanced a step upon the long road which he travelled.  Yet his sympathy with her remained unimpaired.  The two poles of the life of the age are visible here.  The episode, full of exquisite personal charm, is a veritable miniature of the first fifty years of the movement which we have to record.  No one did for England or for France what Schleiermacher had done for the Fatherland.

AEsthetic Idealism

Besides pietism, the Germany of the end of the eighteenth century possessed still another foil and counterpoise to its decadent rationalism.  This was the so-called aesthetic-idealistic movement, which shades off into romanticism.  The debt of Schleiermacher to that movement has been already hinted at.  It was the revolt of those who had this in common with the pietists, that they hated and despised the outworn rationalism.  They thought they wanted no religion.  It is open to us to say that they misunderstood religion.  It was this misunderstanding which Schleiermacher sought to bring home to them.  What religion they understood, ecclesiasticism, Roman or Lutheran, or again, the banalities and fanaticisms of middle-class pietism, they despised.  Their war with rationalism was not because it had deprived man of religion.  It had been equally destructive of another side of the life of feeling, the aesthetic.  Their war was not on behalf of the good, it was in the name of the beautiful.  Rationalism had starved the soul, it had minimised and derided feeling.  It had suppressed emotion.  It had been fatal to art.  It was barren of poetry.  It had had no sympathy with history and no understanding of history.  It had reduced everything to the process by which two and two make four.  The pietists said that the frenzy for reason had made man oblivious of the element of the divine.  The aesthetic idealists said that it had been fatal to the element of the human.  From this point of view their movement has been called the new humanism.  The glamour of life was gone, they said.  Mystery had vanished.  And mystery is the womb of every art.  Rationalism had been absolutely uncreative, only and always destructive.  Rousseau had earlier uttered this wail in France, and had greatly influenced certain minds in Germany.  Shelley and Keats were saying something of the sort in England.  Even as to Wordsworth, it may be an open question if his religion was not mainly romanticism.  All these men used language which had been conventionally associated with religion, to describe this other emotion.

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An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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