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Ernst Benz (Romantismo:) – O luto de Schelling

quinta-feira 31 de agosto de 2023, por Cardoso de Castro


3. In a similar manner, the work of Emmanuel Swedenborg  , the Swedish visionary, was discovered and adopted by the idealistic philosophers. Swedenborg’s work was closely linked to the works of Jacob Boehme   and Saint-Martin   as much in the theosophical tradition of German pietism as in the tradition of Christian freemasonry in Germany and Russia. Swedenborg’s visionary theology was introduced into Germany in the second half of the 18th century by the founder of German theosophy, whom we have just mentioned as the principal propagandist of Boehme’s ideas among the pietistic circles of Württemberg, Friedrich Christoph Oetinger  . Oetinger was in correspondence with Swedenborg; he was the first to translate some of Swedenborg’s Latin works into German, and by his writings contributed much to dissipate the suspicion of heresy the theologians of Lutheran orthodoxy formulated against Swedenborg’s ideas and visionary experiences.

Oetinger considered the Swedish visionary’s revelations as a true continuation and augmentation of biblical revelation, adding to it specific theories about the spiritual and celestial worlds. For his part, Oetinger compared Swedenborg’s system with Boehme’s mystical theology on the one hand, and on the other with the philosophy-of-nature systems of the great natural-science scholars, such as Newton, Baglive, and Cluver. Since the central problem of the human personality’s nature and value was posed so vigorously by the idealistic philosophers, they were obliged to be concerned also with the problems of survival, of the continuation of life after death and its future evolution, and especially with the problem of the future of the personal relationships of love, marriage and friendship beyond the tomb. The great dramas of friendship, love, and marriage in the circles of idealistic philosophers and German romantic poets are comprehensible only against the background of this philosophical and poetical discussion inspired by Swedenborg, who displays all the symptoms of impassioned emotion.

The most important event which put this theme of the survival of love after death in the center of the theological and philosophical discussion, and which especially intensified Swedenborg’s interest, was the unexpected death of Karoline, Schelling  ’s wife, in 1811. This death, which deprived the philosopher of his wife and confidant, destroyed an amorous liaison whose dramatic and sometimes scandalous history had been followed by all the intellectual, literary, and university circles of the time in Germany with the greatest attention. At Mayence, Karoline had enthusiastically taken part in the events of the French Revolution; she returned from Mayence with living proof of her enthusiasm, her daughter, whose father was an officer of the French Revolutionary Army. August Schlegel   saved her by offering marriage, but that lasted only until Schelling entered her life.

We must add that the official divorce of Karoline from her previous husband, August Schlegel, was the first and at that time almost the only consequence of the French Revolution on German soil. The Duke of Weimar was the first German sovereign to introduce civil marriage and divorce into his country despite the vehement opposition of the clergy; and it was his famous minister Goethe  , who interceded in favor of Karoline, August Schlegel and Schelling and, as minister responsible, with the permission of his Duke, for the first time in Germany, ratified that notorious divorce. It is very strange to see Goethe act as minister in an affair which brought the spirit of the revolution into play. By this act, Goethe was to some degree the material and spiritual cause of the uprising of idealistic philosophy, since Karoline became the inspiration of Schelling’s great visions and theories, and the center of the circle of writers and philosophers who assembled around them both.

After Karoline’s unforeseen and unexpected death in the wake of a cholera attack during a visit to Schelling’s parents at Maulbronn, far away from him, Schelling engaged in incessant speculations on the possibility of maintaining contact with his dear departed. In this situation, denying the separation forced by death, Swedenborg’s ideas, in which he maintained the continuation of true marriage after death and the perfecting of our marital and loving relationships in the heavenly kingdom, provided him with a unique consolation in the grievous suffering at the separation. Schelling expressed his ideas on the survival of our loves and our friendships beyond the tomb in a philosophical dialogue, Clara; oder, Zusammenhang der natur mit der geisterweit, (or the Relationships Between the Natural World and the Spiritual World), a dialogue written in very poetic language and full of insights inspired by his recent grievous experience. But the same ideas are to be found in the elderly Schelling, Die weltalter . . . (The Ages of the World); and until the end of his life he remained receptive to Swedenborg’s ideas on the spiritual world and on the organization of the spiritual life in the heavenly world and in other worlds.

There is a letter from Schelling, written on March 19, 1811, to his friend Georgii, who had recently lost his wife and to whom Schelling, still crushed by the loss of Karoline, wrote the following words:

My continual meditation and my incessant researches have only served to confirm my conviction that death, far from debilitating the personality, rather strengthens it, by liberating it from many contingencies, and that the word ‘remembrance’ is much too weak an expression to designate the inner consciousness the dead one keeps of his former life and of those he has left behind . . . and that we remain united with them in our innermost being, since at our best we are nothing more than they are themselves— spirits, and that for souls united in sentiment and spirit, souls which have had during their life only one love, only one faith, only one hope, a future reunion is a certain thing, and above all that there are no promises of our Christian religion which will not be fulfilled, however difficult to understand they may be for our reason which uses only abstract terms. Day by day, I become more aware that everything holds together in a much more personal and infinitely more vivid way than we could imagine.
If there were still something lacking in the certitude of these convictions, it would require only the death of a person dearly loved and intimately united with us to increase it to the greatest intensity.

Ver online : Ernst Benz