Biography[ edit ] Early life and development[ edit ] Born in Breslau in the Prussian Silesia as the grandson of Daniel Schleiermacher, a pastor at one time associated with the Zionites ,   and the son of Gottlieb Schleiermacher, a Reformed Church chaplain in the Prussian army, Schleiermacher started his formal education in a Moravian school at Niesky in Upper Lusatia , and at Barby near Magdeburg. However, pietistic Moravian theology failed to satisfy his increasing doubts, and his father reluctantly gave him permission to enter the University of Halle , which had already abandoned pietism and adopted the rationalist spirit of Christian Wolff and Johann Salomo Semler. As a theology student Schleiermacher pursued an independent course of reading and neglected the study of the Old Testament and of Oriental languages. However, he did attend the lectures of Semler, where he became acquainted with the techniques of historical criticism of the New Testament , and of Johann Augustus Eberhard , from whom he acquired a love of the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Schleiermacher developed a deep-rooted skepticism as a student, and soon he rejected orthodox Christianity. His father misses the hint.
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Biography[ edit ] Early life and development[ edit ] Born in Breslau in the Prussian Silesia as the grandson of Daniel Schleiermacher, a pastor at one time associated with the Zionites ,   and the son of Gottlieb Schleiermacher, a Reformed Church chaplain in the Prussian army, Schleiermacher started his formal education in a Moravian school at Niesky in Upper Lusatia , and at Barby near Magdeburg.
However, pietistic Moravian theology failed to satisfy his increasing doubts, and his father reluctantly gave him permission to enter the University of Halle , which had already abandoned pietism and adopted the rationalist spirit of Christian Wolff and Johann Salomo Semler. As a theology student Schleiermacher pursued an independent course of reading and neglected the study of the Old Testament and of Oriental languages.
However, he did attend the lectures of Semler, where he became acquainted with the techniques of historical criticism of the New Testament , and of Johann Augustus Eberhard , from whom he acquired a love of the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Schleiermacher developed a deep-rooted skepticism as a student, and soon he rejected orthodox Christianity. His father misses the hint. He has himself read some of the skeptical literature, he says, and can assure Schleiermacher that it is not worth wasting time on.
For six whole months there is no further word from his son. Then comes the bombshell. In a moving letter of 21 January , Schleiermacher admits that the doubts alluded to are his own. I cannot believe that he who called himself the Son of Man was the true, eternal God; I cannot believe that his death was a vicarious atonement. At the completion of his course at Halle, Schleiermacher became the private tutor to the family of Friedrich Alexander Burggraf und Graf zu Dohna-Schlobitten — , developing in a cultivated and aristocratic household his deep love of family and social life.
Here Schleiermacher became acquainted with art, literature, science and general culture. Though his ultimate principles remained unchanged, he placed more emphasis on human emotion and the imagination.
Meanwhile, he studied Spinoza and Plato , both of whom were important influences. He became more indebted to Kant , though they differed on fundamental points. In the first book Schleiermacher gave religion an unchanging place among the divine mysteries of human nature, distinguished it from what he regarded as current caricatures of religion, and described the perennial forms of its manifestation. This established the programme of his subsequent theological system.
In the Monologen he revealed his ethical manifesto, in which he proclaimed his ideas on the freedom and independence of the spirit, and on the relationship of the mind to the sensual world, and sketched his ideal of the future of the individual and of society. Pastorship[ edit ] From to , Schleiermacher served as a pastor in the Pomeranian town of Stolp. He relieved Friedrich Schlegel entirely of his nominal responsibility for the translation of Plato, which they had together undertaken vols.
It contends that the tests of the soundness of a moral system are the completeness of its view of the laws and ends of human life as a whole and the harmonious arrangement of its subject-matter under one fundamental principle.
Professorship[ edit ] In , Schleiermacher moved as university preacher and professor of theology to the University of Halle , where he remained until , quickly obtaining a reputation as professor and preacher; he exercised a powerful influence in spite of contradictory charges which accused him of atheism, Spinozism and pietism. In this period, he began his lectures on hermeneutics — and he also wrote his dialogue the Weihnachtsfeier Christmas Eve: Dialogue on the Incarnation, , which represents a midway point between his Speeches and his great dogmatic work, Der christliche Glaube The Christian Faith ; the speeches represent phases of his growing appreciation of Christianity as well as the conflicting elements of the theology of the period.
At the foundation of the University of Berlin , in which he took a prominent part, Schleiermacher obtained a theological chair, and soon became secretary to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. He took a prominent part in the reorganization of the Prussian church, and became the most powerful advocate of the union of the Lutheran and Reformed divisions of German Protestantism, paving the way for the Prussian Union of Churches The twenty-four years of his professional career in Berlin began with his short outline of theological study Kurze Darstellung des theologischen Studiums, , in which he sought to do for theology what he had done for religion in his Speeches.
While he preached every Sunday, Schleiermacher also gradually took up in his lectures in the university almost every branch of theology and philosophy— New Testament exegesis, introduction to and interpretation of the New Testament, ethics both philosophic and Christian , dogmatic and practical theology, church history, history of philosophy, psychology , dialectics logic and metaphysics , politics , pedagogy , translation and aesthetics.
In politics Schleiermacher supported liberty and progress, and in the period of reaction which followed the overthrow of Napoleon he was charged by the Prussian government with "demagogic agitation" in conjunction with the patriot Ernst Moritz Arndt. The fundamental principle is that the source and basis of dogmatic theology is the religious feeling, the sense of absolute dependence on God as communicated by Jesus through the church, and not the creeds or the letter of Scripture or the rationalistic understanding.
The work is therefore simply a description of the facts of religious feeling, or of the inner life of the soul in its relations to God, and these inward facts are looked at in the various stages of their development and presented in their systematic connection. The aim of the work was to reform Protestant theology, to put an end to the unreason and superficiality of both supernaturalism and rationalism, and to deliver religion and theology from dependence on perpetually changing systems of philosophy.
He felt isolated, although his church and his lecture-room continued to be crowded. The same year Schleiermacher lost his only son—Nathaniel — —a blow which, he said, "drove the nails into his own coffin. A statue of Schleiermacher at Palais Universitaire in Strasbourg Schleiermacher died at age 65 of pneumonia on February 12, The ego is itself both body and soul — the conjunction of both constitutes it. Our "organization" or sense nature has its intellectual element, and our "intellect" its organic element, and there is no such thing as "pure mind" or "pure body.
The former fall into the two classes of feelings subjective and perceptions objective ; the latter, according as the receptive or the spontaneous element predominates, into cognition and volition. In cognition, thought is ontologically oriented to the object; and in volition it is the teleological purpose of thought. In the first case we receive in our fashion the object of thought into ourselves.
In the latter we plant it out into the world. Both cognition and volition are functions of thought as well as forms of moral action.
It is in those two functions that the real life of the ego is manifested, but behind them is self-consciousness permanently present, which is always both subjective and objective — consciousness of ourselves and of the non-ego. This self-consciousness is the third special form or function of thought — which is also called feeling and immediate knowledge.
In it we cognize our own inner life as affected by the non-ego. As the non-ego helps or hinders, enlarges or limits, our inner life, we feel pleasure or pain.
Aesthetic, moral and religious feelings are respectively produced by the reception into consciousness of large ideas — nature, mankind and the world; those feelings are the sense of being one with these vast objects.
Religious feeling therefore is the highest form of thought and of life; in it we are conscious of our unity with the world and God; it is thus the sense of absolute dependence. The idea of knowledge or scientific thought as distinguished from the passive form of thought — of aesthetics and religion — is thought which is produced by all thinkers in the same form and which corresponds to being.
All knowledge takes the form of the concept Begriff or the judgment Urteil , the former conceiving the variety of being as a definite unity and plurality, and the latter simply connecting the concept with certain individual objects. In the concept, therefore, the intellectual and in the judgment the organic or sense element predominates. The universal uniformity of the production of judgments presupposes the uniformity of our relations to the outward world, and the uniformity of concepts rests similarly on the likeness of our inward nature.
This uniformity is not based on the sameness of either the intellectual or the organic functions alone, but on the correspondence of the forms of thought and sensation with the forms of being. The essential nature of the concept is that it combines the general and the special, and the same combination recurs in being; in being the system of substantial or permanent forms answers to the system of concepts and the relation of cause and effect to the system of judgments, the higher concept answering to "force" and the lower to the phenomena of force, and the judgment to the contingent interaction of things.
The sum of being consists of the two systems of substantial forms and interactional relations, and it reappears in the form of concept and judgment, the concept representing being and the judgment being in action. Knowledge has under both forms the same object, the relative difference of the two being that when the conceptual form predominates we have speculative science and when the form of judgment prevails we have empirical or historical science.
Throughout the domain of knowledge the two forms are found in constant mutual relations, another proof of the fundamental unity of thought and being or of the objectivity of knowledge. Plato, Spinoza and Kant had contributed characteristic elements of their thought to this system, and directly or indirectly it was largely indebted to Schelling for fundamental conceptions.
In fact, Schleiermacher is often referred to as "the father of modern hermeneutics as a general study. His published and unpublished writings on hermeneutics were collected together after his death, albeit with some disagreement over ordering and placement of individual texts and lecture notes.
As James O. Though he was certainly interested in interpreting Scripture, he thought one could only do so properly once one had established a system of interpretation that was applicable to all texts. This process was not a systematic or strictly philological approach, but what he called "the art of understanding.
This is where the meaning of a text ultimately resides for Schleiermacher. This artistic approach to interpreting texts contained within it an ebb-and-flow between what Schleiermacher called the "grammatical interpretation" and the "psychological or technical interpretation. Schleiermacher divides misunderstanding into two forms: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative misunderstanding is not understanding the content, or "the confusion of the meaning of a word for another.
Understanding is made possible by the fact that author and reader, since both are human, share the reasoning ability. Therefore, the process of understanding is not only a historical process, learning about the context in which the author wrote, but also a psychological process, drawing upon the connection between interpreter and the author.
Thus, hermeneutics is a cyclical task, but for Schleiermacher it is not viciously circular because of the role of intuition. The claim of Schleiermacher as the father of hermeneutics seems to be justified by the fact that his work marks the beginning of hermeneutics as a general field of inquiry, separate from the specific disciplines e.
Ethics[ edit ] His grave in Berlin Next to religion and theology, Schleiermacher devoted himself to the moral world, of which the phenomena of religion and theology were, in his systems, only constituent elements. In his earlier essays he endeavoured to point out the defects of ancient and modern ethical thinkers, particularly of Kant and Fichte , with only Plato and Spinoza finding favour in his eyes.
He failed to discover in previous moral systems any necessary basis in thought, any completeness as regards the phenomena of moral action, any systematic arrangement of its parts and any clear and distinct treatment of specific moral acts and relations. It connects the moral world by a deductive process with the fundamental idea of knowledge and being; it offers a view of the entire world of human action which at all events aims at being exhaustive; it presents an arrangement of the matter of the science which tabulates its constituents after the model of the physical sciences; and it supplies a sharply defined treatment of specific moral phenomena in their relation to the fundamental idea of human life as a whole.
Schleiermacher defines ethics as the theory of the nature of the reason, or as the scientific treatment of the effects produced by human reason in the world of nature and man. As a theoretical or speculative science it is purely descriptive and not practical, being correlated on the one hand to physical science and on the other to history. Its method is the same as that of physical science, being distinguished from the latter only by its matter.
The ontological basis of ethics is the unity of the real and the ideal, and the psychological and actual basis of the ethical process is the tendency of reason and nature to unite in the form of the complete organization of the latter by the former.
The end of the ethical process is that nature i. Conscience, as the subjective expression of the presupposed identity of reason and nature in their bases, guarantees the practicability of our moral vocation.
Nature is preordained or constituted to become the symbol and organ of mind, just as mind is endowed with the impulse to realize this end. But the moral law must not be conceived under the form of an "imperative" or a "Sollen"; it differs from a law of nature only as being descriptive of the fact that it ranks the mind as conscious will, or Zweckdenken, above nature.
Strictly speaking, the antitheses of good and bad and of free and necessary have no place in an ethical system, but simply in history, which is obliged to compare the actual with the ideal, but as far as the terms "good" and "bad" are used in morals they express the rule or the contrary of reason, or the harmony or the contrary of the particular and the general. The idea of free as opposed to necessary expresses simply the fact that the mind can propose to itself ends, though a man cannot alter his own nature.
In contrast to Kant and Fichte and modern moral philosophers, Schleiermacher reintroduced and assigned pre-eminent importance to the doctrine of the summum bonum , or highest good. It represents in his system the ideal and aim of the entire life of man, supplying the ethical view of the conduct of individuals in relation to society and the universe, and therewith constituting a philosophy of history at the same time.
The first two characteristics provide for the functions and rights of the individual as well as those of the community or race. Though a moral action may have these four characteristics at various degrees of strength, it ceases to be moral if one of them is quite absent.
All moral products may be classified according to the predominance of one or the other of these characteristics. Universal organizing action produces the forms of intercourse, and universal symbolizing action produces the various forms of science; individual organizing action yields the forms of property and individual symbolizing action the various representations of feeling, all these constituting the relations, the productive spheres, or the social conditions of moral action.
Moral functions cannot be performed by the individual in isolation but only in his relation to the family, the state, the school, the church, and society — all forms of human life which ethical science finds to its hand and leaves to the science of natural history to account for.
The moral process is accomplished by the various sections of humanity in their individual spheres, and the doctrine of virtue deals with the reason as the moral power in each individual by which the totality of moral products is obtained.
Schleiermacher classifies the virtues under the two forms of Gesinnung "disposition, attitude" and Fertigkeit "dexterity, proficiency" , the first consisting of the pure ideal element in action and the second the form it assumes in relation to circumstances, each of the two classes falling respectively into the two divisions of wisdom and love and of intelligence and application.
In his system the doctrine of duty is the description of the method of the attainment of ethical ends, the conception of duty as an imperative, or obligation, being excluded, as we have seen. No action fulfills the conditions of duty except as it combines the three following antitheses: reference to the moral idea in its whole extent and likewise to a definite moral sphere; connection with existing conditions and at the same time absolute personal production; the fulfillment of the entire moral vocation every moment though it can only be done in a definite sphere.
Duties are divided with reference to the principle that every man make his own the entire moral problem and act at the same time in an existing moral society.
This condition gives four general classes of duty: duties of general association or duties with reference to the community Rechtspflicht , and duties of vocation Berufspflicht — both with a universal reference, duties of the conscience in which the individual is sole judge , and duties of love or of personal association. It was only the first of the three sections of the science of ethics — the doctrine of moral ends — that Schleiermacher handled with approximate completeness; the other two sections were treated very summarily.
Richard Crouter’s Friedrich Schleiermacher: Between Enlightenment and Romanticism
Crouter directs our attention to many similarities in the works: how each author drew from elements of his native tradition 46 , was interested in reconciling that tradition with modernity 39 , attempted to reconcile claims of universal religiosity with commitments to particular traditions 41 , strove to show that religion is not merely a set of ideas but concerns the life of communities 69 , and shared an attention to historical consciousness In addition to these, Crouter reminds us how both advocated for the freedom for religion from the coercive power of the State , , and thus how the theoretical projects of both selected books were quite culturally-engaged and politically-sensitive. Neither author fits snugly into Enlightenment or Romantic categories. This political dimension of On Religion becomes more pronounced in G. This third essay climaxes in a summary overview of their basic disagreements. How are they related, and to what degree?
Between Enlightenment and Romanticism
When the question arises, I typically respond that my interest rests on the brilliance and versatility of his achievement in shaping a distinctively modern Protestant Christian thought. But that answer scarcely does justice to the details of his illustrious career or the relevance of his work for today. A founding member of the University of Berlin faculty, Schleiermacher taught philosophy and theology —34 during the initial rise of that university to European prominence. At the time, Schleiermacher was the soul of the theology department. He lectured on every topic of the curriculum with the exception of the Hebrew Bible , and preached regularly at the Trinity Church. The cultural life and political challenges of this city, which grew from , in to nearly , in ,2 form the essential setting for the work of this illustrious scholar. No passive observer, Schleiermacher played an active role in shaping these movements.