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The Aesthetic Language Paradigm of the Kabbalah in Romanticism

The Language Theory of Kabbalah as An Aesthetic Paradigm pp 239-327 | Cite as


If there were to be an epochal difference between "Enlightenment" and "Romanticism", then this should also be demonstrated in the evaluation of the term Kabbalah. The fact is that in a series of texts around 1800 this kabbalistic concept of language, which was established as a universal and encyclopedic model of knowledge in the early modern period and subjected to a fundamental criticism in the discourse of reason, was restored under the new conditions of an aesthetic paradigm .1 The paradigm of reason has downgraded Kabbalah to a pre-rational and mythical model of script, nature, language and knowledge. What could not correspond to the hidden, natural and universal category of meaning of reason, turned out to be a contingent and exoteric layer of language in which the Kabbalah seemed to be completely absorbed. One of the new conditions of Romanticism, under which a re-evaluation of the language theory of Kabbalah could take place, is the reversal of this very relationship between reason and language.2 The change compared to the description system of the Enlightenment consists more precisely in a rehabilitation of the linguistic and historical conditions of reason and thus in the discovery of language and its semiological and poetic structures. Novalis, for example, has the concept of such a language with an immanent rationality and a potentially poetic structure in his famous monologue (1798) designed.3 The paradigm shift is already evident in the difference between Lessing's or Herder's criticism of the exoteric language layer of revelation as a confusion of reason on the one hand, and Johann Georg Hamann's qualification of language as the organon of reason and revelation on the other.4

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