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Heine’s philosophical thinking

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  1. Introduction
  2. His failure to achieve the goal in Germany
  3. Bold, prophetic statement made by Heine
  4. The erudite nature of Heine's scholarship
  5. The philosophical set of ideas
  6. Jews and the philosophical literature of Germany
  7. Gans' interpretation of Hegel's notions
  8. A sinister and ironic tone when talking of the failure of thought and philosophy
  9. An overview on Heine scholarship of recent years
  10. Romanticism: A replacement for the Christian belief systems, science and progress
  11. Cocnlusion
  12. Works cited

This essay will explore ideas from ?On the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany? written by Heinrich Heine, one of the most famous German poets and cultural figures in general, of the early to mid 19th century. The paper will argue that in his often enigmatic and aphoristic ruminations on the relationship between politics in France and philosophy and religion in Germany, Heine's positions reveal his hope for a place for a Jewish intellectual in modern European society. The circularity and contradictory nature of his arguments show how he employs the Hegelian dialectic to his own purposes, in an effort to critique motifs of the power of religion in European history versus the promise of the secular Enlightenment. At the same time, there exists in the writing a valuation, however skeptical, of the possibility of a world where the spiritual and the secular could embrace to form some kind of ideal harmonious system not in an afterlife but in the world of contemporary reality. Between his ironies, cynicism and clarity he is a truly modern philosopher with regard to his skepticism about the relationship between metaphysical or political ideals and political and religious realities.

[...] For Heine, the probable hope that lies in Hegel resides in the philosopher's ideas providing systems of thought that could lead to actual real social justice for minorities, emerging out of philosophical thinking rather than idealism and the collapse of contradictions between Ideal and Real. This is what he forebodes in his analysis of Schelling, and his commentary on how his popularity is a symptom of all that is currently wrong in Germany, as he stares over the intellectual and actual border from his position of exile in France. [...]


[...] Heine was not really an advocate for any particular position outside of framing himself as a set of contradictions, turning his own life and thought and being into a philosophical quandary and example of dilemma, alienation and disorientation. (Viii; xxv) Heine's voice is ironic, contradictory even. The introduction to his philosophical essay notes that his best biography, Jeffrey Sammons contends is very hard to pin Heine down on virtually anything, since he early on created a persona for himself that he himself continually shifted around.? (viii) Heine wrote in 1922 Nowhere can one be a human being more fully than at a masked ball, where the waxen mask hides our usual mask of flesh (viii) For a dispossessed Jewish intellectual, and creative writer, who had converted to Protestantism, not it seems out of adherence to the faith, yet at the same time, able to propose why Protestantism reasserts the true Jewishness of spirit, which he calls ?Judeo-Deistic? (xix) as necessary for the emergence of freedom from Catholicism and dictatorial control, the high- wire dancing act is apparent; his method a series of contradictory aphorisms and reflections embedded in narrative. [...]


[...] His influence over 19th century philosophical thought is as wide as is Kant's, extending through transformation by Marx, to give one example, a economic philosopher with whom Heine had acquaintance. Marx transformed Hegelian dialectics into dialectical materialism, which Marx described involved a process of turning Hegel's ideas and method on their head. Thus, Hegel's own thinking, and the various variants and transformations that emerged out of his elaborate philosophical system, provided access to think about politics and culture in the real world, as much as in abstract or ideal senses. [...]

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