The Oldest Systematic Program of German Idealism

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"The Oldest Systematic Program of German Idealism" (German: Das älteste Systemprogramm des deutschen Idealismus) is a 1796/97 essay of unknown authorship. The document was first published (in German) by Franz Rosenzweig in 1917.[1]


Although the document is in G. W. F. Hegel's handwriting, it is thought it has been written by either Hegel, F. W. J. Schelling, Friedrich Hölderlin, or an unknown fourth person.[2] Yves Bonnefoy writes that it was "certainly inspired by Hölderlin."[3] According to Glenn Magee, most Hegel scholars assume that Hegel is the author of the document.[4]

Schelling, Hegel, and Hölderlin were classmates and roommates at Tübinger Stift, the seminary of the University of Tübingen at the time, and are collectively known as the "Tübingen Three". Hegel and Hölderlin were 27, and Schelling was 22.


Raffaele Milani writes that in the essay, "...the idea of Beauty unifies all others in a fusion of the self and nature."[5] Dieter Henrich called the document a "program for agitation." It called for a new mythology to mediate between the present state and the future envisioned poeticized state, in which poetry will function for the arts and sciences, including philosophy.[2] Jason Josephson-Storm has interpreted the essay as a source on Hegel's view of myth, especially Hegel's perception (in line with other eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German philosophers) that myth has disappeared and left a cultural vacuum, which Josephson-Storm argues anticipates the idea of disenchantment.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robert J. Richards, The Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe, University of Chicago Press, 2002, p. 124 n. 21.
  2. ^ a b Kai Hammermeister, The German Aesthetic Tradition, Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 76.
  3. ^ Yves Bonnefoy, "Fable and Mythology in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Literature and Theoretical Reflection" in Roman and European Mythologies edited by Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago Press, 1992, p. 241.
  4. ^ Glenn Magee, Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition, Cornell University Press, 2001, p. 84.
  5. ^ Raffaele Milani, Art of the Landscape, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2009, p. 112.
  6. ^ Josephson-Storm, Jason (2017). The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 63-4. ISBN 0-226-40336-X.