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  2. Abstract

The aim of the paper is to clarify the theoretical core of Solger's thought, the foundation for his aesthetics. I first analyze Solger's dialectic of double negation. Secondly I focus on Solger's gnoseology, which is orientated toward grasping the equilibrium between the Infinite (God) and the finite (world) consisting in this double negation. Lastly I investigate the notion of sacrifice, connecting it with Solger's ironic dialectic and showing its relevance to a complete understanding of his thought.

Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand Solger (1780–1819) is usually considered a theorist of aesthetics and especially of romantic irony. Hegel's extensive review in 1828 of Solger's Posthumous Writings and Correspondence1, however, challenges this interpretation. The focus of Hegel's essay is not Solger's aesthetics, but the theoretical framework of his work, consisting in Solger's negative dialectic between the finite and the Infinite. Despite several criticisms, the text shows that Hegel held Solger in esteem. This regard cannot be explained merely by the fact that Hegel was appointed to the University of Berlin in part thanks to Solger's efforts.2

I suggest that what is missing for a complete understanding of Solger's thought is a clarification of the theoretical core of Solger's philosophy and an analysis of his use of negation. As a part of this larger project, this paper will aim to substantiate the claim that the classic reception of Solger's thought should be altered to pay greater attention to the theoretical core of his philosophy, showing how this serves as a foundation for his aesthetics, and highlighting a notion that is central to Solger's philosophy: sacrifice.3


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Coming face to face with Solger's thought is definitely not easy given that, as Kierkegaard stresses (quoting Hotho in The Concept of Irony), ‘he has developed his point of view with schwer begreifbarer philosophischer Klarheit [a philosophical clarity difficult to comprehend]’.4 I will briefly expose the fundamental theoretical dynamic of Solger's thought, referring mainly to his Posthumous Writings.5

Solger assumes that the Infinite (or God) is originally absolute [Das Absolute], as it is literally not qualified or diminished in any way. Nevertheless, such an Infinite is a pure theoretical hypothesis, as the Infinite (God) exists exclusively via negationis, that is, only when it limits itself in the finite.6 It follows that the Infinite, that is, the Absolute, denying itself reality by creating the finite, inevitably loses its absoluteness7– that is to say, it alienates itself from itself. In fact, the Infinite is infinite as it is absolute; if it loses its absoluteness, it loses the very attribute that makes it what it is. In other words, such self-limitation of God is also a radical self-negation, because ‘losing the absoluteness’ and ‘self-annihilating’ are the same thing for the Absolute.

The movement of God's self-alienation, in keeping with the Idealistic tradition to which Solger belongs, is not presented as a deed that happened in time and space, but rather as a timeless act or movement laying down the structure of reality as it is grasped by the finite. This movement should not be confused with emanation as it is usually understood in neoplatonic philosophy. In neoplatonic philosophy, the highest principle, the One, overflows merely because of its nature, without a conscious act. The One contains an ‘excess of being’ that allows it to emanate the finite without any privation or diminution. The finite world is therefore understood as an emanation or pale reflection of the One. In the emanationist process the One preserves its absolute status, whereas everything else is finite and ontologically dependant on the One. Plotinus' metaphor of water depicts this process clearly: ‘Imagine a spring that has no source outside itself; it gives itself to all the rivers, yet is never exhausted by what they take, but remains always integrally as it was’.8 The One always remains unaffected and loses nothing by giving away.

By contrast, for Solger the movement bringing the finite to reality is not an emanationist process, but a conscious act of creation [Schöpfung]9– a creation which happens, as mentioned above, via negationis. Firstly the Infinite (God) creates the finite (world) by losing its own absoluteness, and thus suffers an ontological diminution. Secondly, once the Infinite has created the finite, the finite is no longer ontologically bound to the Infinite – that is, the finite is ontologically independent from the Infinite and thus it is not referred to by Solger as a ‘pale reflection’ of the Infinite. If one were to apply Plotinus' metaphor of water to Solger, then one would imagine a spring that gives itself to the rivers and in doing so becomes diminished, while the rivers persist independently.

Solger uses the notion of creation, therefore, to refer to an absolutely undeducible (because it cannot be deduced from anything else) and gratuitous (because it is not naturally determined) act which constitutes the essence of reality. With this the Infinite (God) gives himself up to the reality of the finite. This process is labelled theologically as kénosis: God creates the world by withdrawing and, consequently, denies himself in denying his own absoluteness.10

If the Infinite (God) creates the finite (world) by denying himself, then the product of this act (the finite world) is the negation of God or, to use a more literal translation, the ‘nothing of God’.11 The German expression (Das Nichts Gottes) better captures Solger's vision in which the finite (world) is non-being in relation to the being of God. It paradoxically follows, nevertheless, that positivity inheres in this primary act of creation: the finite (and thus also every finite being) is the place where the Infinite (God) manifests itself. The creation of the finite (world) is therefore simultaneously God's radical negation and his manifestation and revelation.12 This is consistent, for it is only by the creation of a ‘Godless’ world that God ‘manifests himself’ in the world. By annihilating itself, the Infinite (God) creates the finite (world), which is non-being. The fact that the finite world is non-being (in the sense that it is the ‘nothing of God’) allows the being (of God) to manifest itself. The Infinite (God) creates the finite (world) by denying itself; the finite is thus the ‘nothing of God’. If the finite is the negation of the Infinite, the Infinite is also the negation of the finite. This ‘double negation’ is expressed by the theological category ‘revelation’, that is, as a self-affirmation that is a negation of a negation.13

This is Solger's view of reality from the point of view of the Infinite: a paradoxical vision. The vision from the point of view of the finite – the human being's point of view – is equally paradoxical. We do not have a complete and organic exposition of Solger's philosophical system. Nevertheless, in Posthumous Writings, a continuous alternation between these two points of view can be noted, strongly reminiscent of the framework of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit.14

As stated earlier, the finite has an ontological basis because the Infinite (God) has denied itself to let the finite be; thus the finite is the ‘nothing of God’. Solger writes: ‘when we become aware of the eternal and of the truth in ourselves, we do nothing but dissolve this appearance in its nothing’.15 In other words, when the human being realizes that the finite is real because the Infinite (God) has denied itself, then our finiteness (the appearance) can be thought of as it truly is, that is, the nothing (of God). This awareness is not merely a passive realization of a fact, but requires an active self-negation by the finite (human being). In fact, if the finite is the nothing of God, then the annihilation of the finite is the ‘affirmation’ of God.

This conception could lead one to associate Solger with mysticism16, but Solger's approach is different. In traditional Western Christian mysticism (in Meister Eckhart for example), the finite eliminates its finiteness in order to let the infinite, which is inside it, emerge.17 This conception assumes that finite beings are emanations of God. This implies that such emanations, as they are reflections of God, maintain (and are indeed constituted by) a divine element – the ‘little divine spark’18, as Meister Eckhart calls that part of the human soul where God is prominent and alive. Whatever the ontological distance that separates the Infinite and the finite, the human being can re-establish a connection with God thanks to the presence of this inner divine element. By contrast, for Solger the finite is neither an emanation nor a ‘pale reflection’ of God; rather, it is ontologically independent. There is no ‘divine spark’ within the finite (neither in the world nor in the human being), because God has given rise to the finite through self-alienation. Finite and Infinite are opposites of one another, because the one completely negates the other as its nothing (‘das eine das andere gänzlich als sein nichts aufhebt’)19: in fact, each of them plays the role of being in relation to the other, determining it as nothingness. To re-establish a connection between the Infinite and the finite is possible only through an active acceptance of this reciprocal negation. For the Infinite (God), this means that the timeless act of self-negation and creation is also revelation, insofar as the non-being of the finite (world) requires a manifestation of the being of God. In the same way, for the finite human beings this means that their ontological independence (which constitutes them as the ‘nothing of God’) requires an act that corresponds to God's manifestation. In other words, the re-establishment of a connection with the Infinite (God) requires from the finite (human being) another self-negation as total and unconditioned as the one that has first created the world. Finite and Infinite ‘must hold each other in equilibrium’ (‘müssen einander das Gleichgewicht halten’).20 This equilibrium corresponds to the theological category of ‘salvation’; it can thus be said that the ‘salvation of the finite’ consists in its self-negation – which Kierkegaard insists on labelling ‘reconciliation’– most likely because his reading of Solger is filtered through Hegel.21 It can also be said that the equilibrium between finite and Infinite is a contrasting (kontradiktorische) but not contradictory (widersprüchliche) equilibrium. It is contrasting because there is an unresolved dialectical tension between finite and Infinite. At the same time, this identity is not contradictory because the dialectical tension of the terms finds a resolution when the equilibrium is realized through the self-negation of the Infinite (God) and a corresponding self-negation by the finite (human being).

It is important to underline that the process described by Solger and briefly summarized here is a dialectic without Aufhebung– or, to use the vulgarised term introduced by Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus, a dialectic without synthesis.22 Solger's dialectic is not triadic like the Hegelian (the synthesis is absent); rather, it is dual, since the contradiction remains open. Using theological terminology it could be called a kenotic dialectic: the moment establishing this dialectic is a divine self-negation. In a strictly philosophical sense, this process corresponds to a dialectical thought centred on the negation of a negation,23 whose outcome is not a positivity that has negated the preceding moments, but rather a consciousness of the negativity of the relationship between the Infinite and the finite. The principal aim of philosophical knowledge is therefore to reach such an awareness.


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  2. Abstract

I now turn to Solger's gnoseology, which is orientated toward grasping the equilibrium between the Infinite (God) and the finite (world) consisting in this double negation. I also connect Solger's gnoseology to his aesthetics and particularly to his interpretation of Greek tragedy. Through this analysis, I will introduce the notion of sacrifice and will show why this is central to a correct understanding of Solger's thought.

From the overview of Solger's metaphysics sketched in the previous section, it seems possible prima facie to distinguish two moments: 1) the Infinite (God) denies itself and creates the finite (world); and 2) the finite (world) denies itself and opens itself to the Infinite (God). This distinction arises, however, only from the point of view of the human being: of the finite. Sub specie aeternitatis, the process is unique and eternal: the Infinite (God) continuously denies itself; in doing so it makes the finite real, and at the same time the finite (world), by denying itself, lets the Infinite (God) reveal itself in the negation of the negation. If the whole process is considered in its simultaneity, moreover, it appears that the unconditioned being does not really ‘exist’, as was anticipated at the beginning of the previous section, but is a pure theoretical hypothesis. Solger assumes the Infinite (God) is originally‘absolute’, insofar as it is not qualified or diminished in any way; however, this originality refers to an ontological status never really occupied by the Infinite (God), as it is ‘real’ only when it loses its absoluteness and denies itself by creating the finite (world), which is its own non-being. The (finite) human being cannot therefore ever know the absolute (God) because, properly speaking, the Infinite (God) is not ‘real’, except when it limits itself, loses its absoluteness and lets the finite be. But the finite is nothing – it is non-being in relation to the being of God. It has already been noted that for Solger the theological category of ‘revelation’ corresponds to the philosophical category of the double negation (negation of a negation).

Giovanna Pinna writes: ‘Since the absolute being is not real at all and therefore unknowable, knowledge is made possible only by the moment of limitation or negation’.24 An alleged knowledge of the Absolute, of the Infinite (God) in itself (an sich), does not make sense as it would imply our non-reality.25 If the Absolute were real, there would be no finite (world), and vice versa. Insofar as it is finite, human reason cannot grasp the Infinite (God) in itself (an sich), since the finite is real only because the Infinite (God) has renounced and denied its absoluteness, that is, its ‘an sich’. The cognitive process can happen only through this double negation. Therefore, real knowledge involves not an overcoming of our finiteness, but rather a radical, though ironic, acceptance of this finiteness.

I use the term ‘ironic’ to describe the acceptance of our finiteness that constitutes ‘real knowledge’ for Solger. An account of the notion of irony in Solger's aesthetics is here required. This brief overview is intended to show that Solger's aesthetics, and particularly the notion of irony, is grounded in his metaphysics.

In the Lectures on Aesthetics, Solger claims that classic tragedy, considered as the highest form of art, is the expression of the opposition between the human and the divine. Such opposition is aesthetically represented through the encounter of beauty and irony. Tragedy represents the suffering of the hero and his struggle with destiny.26 Tragedy culminates in the death of the hero; it is at the point of death that the hero experiences a fleeting understanding of the universe and the equilibrium between the Infinite and the finite. This understanding is named by Solger ‘the divine idea’ (göttliche Idee)27. Through this experience, the hero becomes reconciled to his destiny and to the divine forces that have determined it. This understanding represents beauty. The fact that this understanding happens only at the point of death represents irony. Beauty and irony are the main features of the tragic outcome.28

The process represented in the tragedy is therefore an ironic dialectic.29 Solger writes:

In the tragic, the idea manifests itself as existence through annihilation [Vernichtung]: in fact, as it removes itself as existence, it exists as idea, and both are the same thing. The succumbing of the idea as existence is its manifestation as idea.30

‘The divine idea’, namely, the understanding of the equilibrium between the Infinite and the finite, comes into existence at the point of death only through the annihilation of the hero's life. It is not possible to achieve this understanding without the death of the hero. The hero constitutes the embodiment of the idea (the idea as existence), but the idea as such can manifest itself only through the break of the temporary union between the idea and its embodiment (that is, through the hero's death).

What is depicted in tragedy – the ironic dialectic – is, I suggest, an aesthetic manifestation of Solger's fundamental metaphysical dynamic (explored in the previous section), or (which is the same for Solger) the narration of this dynamic from the point of view of the finite human being. A connection with the Infinite (God), here represented by the ‘divine idea’, requires the negation of the finite (human being), here represented by the hero. Solger however, does not say simply that the succumbing of the hero is the manifestation of the idea; he says rather that ‘the succumbing of the idea as existence is its manifestation as idea’. This expression appears obscure. To clarify its meaning, it is necessary to specify the sense of ironic dialectic beyond any possible equivocation or misunderstanding.

First, Solger's dialectic implies a notion of irony that is different from Romantic irony: ‘Romantic irony is based on an absolute individualism, psychological subjectivism […] Solger defends his own concept of irony against this mere play with moods’.31 For example, Friedrich Schlegel, following Fichte, claims that the finite, which has been posited by the absolute I, needs to be denied in order to realize a dialectical overcoming of its finiteness. Schlegel's irony is, as he says, ‘self-creation, self-limitation and self-destruction’.32 Solger's view is different in all crucial respects: the I is not absolute, the finite is not posited by the I and, most of all, there is no dialectical overcoming of the finite.

Second, Solger's ironic dialectic cannot be associated with Neoplatonism. In neoplatonic philosophy, and particularly in Christian Neoplatonism, the finite world is only an appearance (the ‘true world’ is the infinite, divine reality); it is thus necessary to disclose the appearance as appearance and to negate what is mortal and finite in man in order to let what is eternal and infinite in him surface. For Solger, however, this negation concerns not only what is mortal and finite in man but, just as much, what is highest and noblest, that is, that part of finitude that maintains an ontological connection with the Infinite (a connection that is not dependence).

The meaning of ironic dialectic manifest in tragedy is identified by Solger neither as the negation of finiteness (Romanticism), nor in the painful unveiling the appearance as appearance (Neoplatonism), but ‘in the self-position of the Idea conceived as the negation of the negation’.33 Reviewing Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature written by August Wilhlem Schlegel,34 Solger writes:

We see the heroes ruined [irre] for what is noblest and most beautiful in their purposes and their feelings, and not only because of their outcome, but also as regards their sources and worth: what thus lifts us up is the destruction of the best as such, yet not merely by way of taking refuge in an infinite hope.35

It is the succumbing of the idea embodied in the hero, and not just the succumbing of the hero, that allows the manifestation of the idea. The idea succumbs as existence, that is, as embodied in the hero; and without its succumbing the idea could not manifest itself as idea. In other words, the emphasis is not on the negation of the finite human being (represented by the tragic hero), but on ‘the destruction of the best as such’. Put differently: the idea is denied as idea when it is embodied (first negation). The idea is denied as existence when its embodiment is annihilated (second negation). Hence, the idea manifests itself through a double negation (negation of a negation).

This process is an aesthetic representation of Solger's dual dialectic described in the first section. The Infinite (God) denies itself as absolute when it creates the finite (first negation). The finite (world) then denies itself (second negation). The infinite (God) manifests itself through this double negation. As Kierkegaard writes, commenting on Solger's thought, ‘Solger actually turns the existence of God into irony: God continually translates himself into nothing, takes himself back again, translates himself again, etc.’36


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As shown aesthetically through tragedy, the re-establishment of a connection and an equilibrium between the Infinite (God) and the finite (human being) requires not merely the annihilation of finiteness, but (paradoxically) the annihilation of that part of the finiteness that maintains an ontological connection with the Infinite (‘the best as such’). Solger explains:

Thus Oedipus in Sophocles' tragedies does not succumb merely because of the fragility of man's normal existence, of the violence of external and casual circumstances, but because of what is noblest in man, considered in a twofold sense. He is simultaneously guilty and innocent, since he committed unconsciously a terrible atrocity. Here human nature enters into a contradiction with itself that is unresolvable in existence. The idea must incontestably withdraw, but only as idea; if it lowers itself to appearance, it would fall into an inexplicable contradiction with itself. Guilt and innocence are irreconcilable, and he in whom they are joined will be annihilated. No excuse erases awareness of this horrible act, but this revulsion cannot, in its turn, efface the recognition of our innocence. Man as a phenomenal entity is thus condemned to an irreconcilable contradiction, which will terminate only with the end of existence.37

I concluded the first section by underlining that the metaphysical process described by Solger is a dialectic without Aufhebung, a dialectic whose outcome does not include any conciliation or synthesis. The absence of a synthesis appears even clearer if Solger's aesthetics is taken into consideration. The human being, insofar as he is finite, is destined to irreconcilable contradictions between the finite and the Infinite. Re-establishment of an equilibrium between finite and Infinite (redemption or salvation, in religious terms) is, however, possible through the double negation. The first and second negations can both be described, I suggest, as sacrifice.38 This section will justify this claim, first by reference to Solger's aesthetics and then to his metaphysics.

Tragedy expresses aesthetically the irreconcilable tension between the finite and the Infinite, together with the paradoxical outcome of this tension, which consists in the contrasting (kontradiktorische) equilibrium of the double negation. Solger writes:

We know that our succumbing is not the consequence of chance, but rather is due to the fact that existence cannot support the eternal, to which we are destined; we know consequently that sacrifice [Aufopferung] is the highest token of our Superior [nöheren] destination. What in the tragedy raises and corroborates this is the ruin itself – not the expectation of a better fate, an idea already edging towards the religious. We have to deal here with existence and with the manifestation of the divine within existence. The question here concerns solely the present being [Dasein], considered not in its fortuitousness, but rather in its essence [wesen]. Precisely in the moment of ruin lies the most consoling elevation, because the ruin is nothing but the semblance of the divinity manifesting itself in this annihilation.39

There are several aspects of this quotation that it would be worthwhile to stress. First, the succumbing of finite human beings is not the consequence of chance, but the consequence of the disproportion between the finite and the Infinite (‘the eternal’). Second, what is ‘sacrificed’ or ‘given up’ in the tragedy is not the mere existence of ‘the present being’ (the death of the hero as a human being, ‘in its fortuitousness’), but rather ‘its essence’– that is, ‘the highest part’. The divine idea (the fleeting understanding of the equilibrium between the Infinite and the finite) can manifest itself only through this process of giving up ‘the best in itself’, whose annihilation paradoxically constitutes the re-establishment of the equilibrium.

Tragedy is the aesthetic manifestation of the ironic dialectic. This ironic dialectic is not the drive exclusively of aesthetics, however; it is also, and more fundamentally, the impetus within Solger's metaphysics. Solger claims that God ‘sacrifices Himself and destroys Himself in us because we are nothing’.40 This affirmation can be complemented with another longer quotation:

We are for this reason insignificant manifestations because God has assumed existence in us and has thereby separated Himself from Himself. And Is this not the highest love that He has placed Himself into nothingness, so that we might exist, and that He even sacrificed Himself and annihilates His nothingness, has killed His death, so that we do not remain a mere nothing but return to Him and may exist in Him?41

Here Solger explicitly calls sacrifice ironic dialectic, considered not from an aesthetic but from a metaphysical point of view: the Infinite (God) denies itself as absolute to create the finite (world). Further, Solger is implicitly referring to the sacrifice of Christ. The latter is mentioned explicitly in another passage:

Our entire relationship to Him [God] is continuously the same which is established for us in Christ as a type. We should not only remember it, not therefore merely derive reasons for our behaviour, but should we experience and realize this event of the divine self-sacrifice in us, what takes place in each and every one of us that has happened for the whole human race in Christ. It is not merely a reflex for our thought, What we have of it but the most deep reality.42

The relationship between the Infinite and the finite is connected with the figure of Christ ‘as a type’. Again, Solger is here not primarily interested in religious discourse. Christ represents the Infinite (God) in its self-negation and self-sacrifice. He also represents the equilibrium between the Infinite and the finite, an equilibrium that can be realized only through the self-negation of the finite (Christ dies as man). The Infinite (God) and the finite (world) reach an equilibrium (the revelation that makes possible, and theologically coincides with, salvation) only through this double self-negation (self-sacrifice). ‘What has happened in Christ’– that is, the self-sacrifice (the re-establishment of the equilibrium between the finite and the Infinite) – should as a consequence be realized ‘in each and every one of us’. The meaning of the sacrifice of Christ is not simply the negation of his finiteness, but the negation of ‘the best as such’, that is, the negation of that part of the finiteness that maintains an ontological connection with the Infinite.

Tragedy is the aesthetic manifestation of this (metaphysical) ironic dialectic. As the idea is constrained to become concrete, but in this negation manifests itself as idea, so Christ is destined to become man and in this sacrifice he manifests himself as truly God. As Solger writes in Lectures on Aesthetics, ‘this suffering is represented as the suffering of a god’.43 Even when the finite succumbs, what is sacrificed is not what is limited (the finite) but precisely what goes beyond the limit (the Infinite). Theologically speaking, we could say that, for Solger, he who suffers on the Cross is not the man, but God. Also, re-establishing the equilibrium between the Infinite and the finite lies not in the overcoming of the opposition between the finite and the Infinite in a superior Aufhebung, but in a sacrifice whose fundamental meaning is the acceptance of finitude. As Solger states, ‘The consolation [Beruhigung] is the tragedy itself’44.

In conclusion, for Solger the aesthetic category of the tragic is a representation of the ironic dialectic that grounds reality. The drive of the ironic dialectic is the double negation. Based on considerations presented in this paper, I argue that it is most accurate to identify this double negation as ‘sacrifice’. This does not imply a shift into the realm of religion; it implies rather that sacrifice, conceived as a process of giving up, has an important and even indispensable philosophical significance.

  1. 1 Hegel's review of Solgers Nachgelassene Schriften und Briefwechsel (edited by Ludwig Tieck and Friedrich von Raumer) originally appeared in the Jahrbücher für wissenschaftliche Kritik 1828, no. 51/52, 53/54, 105/106, 107/108, 109/110.

  2. 2 See Jeffrey Reid, ‘Hegel, Critique de Solger. Le Problème de la Communication Scientifique’, Archives de philosophie 60: 2 (1997), p. 256.

  3. 3 Acknowledgment: Previous versions of this paper have been presented at the Religious Studies Research Seminar and at the Kantian And Post-Kantian Idealism Research Group (University of Sydney). Helpful comments from Paul Redding and seminar participants are gratefully acknowledged. I would like also to thank Marco Ravera and Valeria Pinto for their suggestions.

  4. 4 Kierkegaard's Writings, edited by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, v. II, The Concept of Irony (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989), p. 308.

  5. 5 Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand Solger, Nachgelassene Schriften und Briefwechsel, Herausgegeben von Ludwig Tieck und Friedrich von Raumer (Heidelberg: Verlag Lambert Scheider, 1973). The first edition was published in 1826. All the translations from this text are mine, unless otherwise noted.

  6. 6 When Solger speaks of the finite (Endlich), he refers to the world (Welt) and, and the same time, to the human being (Mensch).

  7. 7 This has been clarified by Ciancio, who writes that in Solger ‘the self-revelation of God coincides with his self-destruction’. Claudio Ciancio, Il paradosso della verità (Torino: Rosenberg&Seller, 1999), p. 102.

  8. 8 Plotinus, Third Ennead, Eight Tractate, Section 10. Another metaphor quite common in neoplatonic philosophy is that of light: the light spreads out from its source, but does not diminish its source.

  9. 9 Solger, Nachgelassene Schriften, p. 171.

  10. 10 The kenotic dimension of Solger's thought has been noted by Ravera, ‘Solger e la salvezza come non conciliazione’, in P. Coda and G. Lingua (eds.), Esperienza e libertà (Roma: Città Nuova, 2000), pp. 33–62 (here p. 35).

  11. 11 ‘The nothing of God’ (Das Nichts Gottes) sounds odd in English, but not so odd in German. Theologically speaking, the use of this notion dates back to Scotus Eriugena: the Logos, created and creating, is the first manifestation of the Nothing of God. Subsequently, this notion played an important role in the German mystical tradition of such figures as Meister Eckhart and Jacob Boehme. Cf. Alois M. Haas, ‘Das Nichts Gottes und seine Sprengmetaphorik’, in H. Herwig, I. Wirtz and Stefan Bodo Würffel (eds.), Semiotik und Hermeneutik in Raum und Zeit (Tübingen: Basel, 1999), pp. 53–70.

  12. 12 This equivalence has been grasped by Marco Ravera, ‘Solger e la salvezza come non conciliazione’, p. 54.

  13. 13 The German text can help us to understand what Solger means: ‘Folglich offenbart sich das Wesen als solches, oder wird wirkliches wesen nur dadurch, daß es dieses nichts aufhebt oder vernichtet’. Solger, Nachgelassene Schriften, p. 172.

  14. 14 In the Phenomenology of Spirit the object is always the experience of the consciousness, but it assumes different features depending on whether it is considered from the point of view of the consciousness or from the point of view of the Spirit.

  15. 15 ‘Und wenn wir uns des Ewigen und Wahren in uns bewusst werden, so thun wir weiter nichts als dass wir jenen Schein in sein nichts auflösen’. Solger, Nachgelassene Schriften, p. 31.

  16. 16 Even Kierkegaard seems to make this mistake: The concept of Irony, p. 318.

  17. 17 ‘When the soul enters the light that is pure, she falls so far from her own created somethingness into her nothingness that in this nothingness she can no longer return to that created somethingness by her own power’. Meister Eckhart, Sermon DW1.

  18. 18 Meister Eckhart uses the German term ‘Seelenfunklein’.

  19. 19 Solger, Nachgelassene Schriften, p. 172.

  20. 20 Ibid., p. 248. This dynamic has been stressed very sharply by Valeria Pinto, Filosofia e religione in K. W. F. Solger (Napoli: Morano Editore, 1995), pp. 49–50.

  21. 21 Cfr. Niels Thulstrup, Kierkegaards Verhältnis zu Hegel und zum spekulativen Idealismus 18351846 (Berlin: Kohlhammer, 1969), pp. 178–180 and 189–192.

  22. 22 The absence of a Hegelian Aufhebung in Solger's thought has been stressed by Giovanna Pinna, L'ironia Metafisica. Filosofia e teoria estetica in K.W.F. Solger (Genova: Pantograf, 1994), p. 233.

  23. 23 Cfr. Solger's letter to Kessler, 16.5.1818, in Nachgelassene Schriften, pp. 631–633.

  24. 24 Pinna, L'ironia Metafisica, p. 45.

  25. 25 Solger, Nachgelassene Schriften, p. 166.

  26. 26 Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand Solger, Vorlesungen über Ästhetik, hrsg. von K.W.L.Heyse (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1962). The original edition appeared in Leipzig in 1829.

  27. 27 Ibid., p. 125.

  28. 28 For discussions of Solger's statements about irony, see Gustav E. Mueller, ‘Solger's Aesthetics – A Key to Hegel (Irony and Dialectic)’, in A. Schirokauer – W. Paulsen (eds.), Corona, (Durham, N.C.: 1941), pp. 212–227 (here pp. 225–226); G. G. Sedgewick, Of Irony Especially in Drama (Toronto University Press, 1948), p. 17.

  29. 29 Solger, Vorlesungen über Ästhetik, pp. 112–125. Josef Heller described Solger's philosophy as ‘an ironic dialectic’. See Josef Heller, Solgers Philosophie der ironischen Dialektik (Berlin: Von Reuther & Reichard, 1928). See also Ulrich Dannenhauer, Heilsgewissheit und Resignation: Solgers Theorie der absoluten Ironie (Frankfurt s.M.: Peter Lang, 1988); Valerio Verra, ‘Tragische und kunstlerische Ironie bei Solger’, in Philosophie und Poesie. O. Poeggeler zum 60 Geburtstag, hrsg. Von D. Gethmann-Siefert (Stuttgardt-Bad Cannstatt, 1988), pp. 235–254.

  30. 30 Solger, Vorlesungen über Ästhetik, p. 311.

  31. 31 Mueller, ‘Solger's Aesthetics’, p. 225.

  32. 32 Friedrich Schlegel, Lyceumfragment 37. On Schlegel's irony, see Peter Szondi, ‘Friedrich Schlegel and Romantic Irony, with Some Remarks on Tieck's Comedies,’ in P. Szondi (ed.), On Textual Understanding and Other Essays, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986).

  33. 33 Reid, ‘Hegel, Critique de Solger’, p. 256.

  34. 34 Solger, Beurtheilung der Vorlesungen über Dramatische Kunst und Literatur, in Nachgelassene Schriften, pp. 493–628.

  35. 35 Ibid., p. 513.

  36. 36 Kierkegaard, The Concept of Irony, pp. 317–318. Interestingly, Kierkegaard presents Solger by writing that ‘he can best be regarded as a sacrifice Hegel's system demanded’ (p. 309). This claim is repeated in the final line of the chapter dedicated to Solger: ‘[…] the thought that appeals to me most is that Solger was a sacrifice to Hegel's positive system’ (p. 323).

  37. 37 Solger, Vorlesungen über Ästhetik, pp. 96–97.

  38. 38 Marco Ravera (‘Solger e la salvezza come non conciliazione’, p. 54) writes that the repetition of the original act of God's self-alienation can be regarded as sacrifice. However, the question is not analysed either in his paper or in other scholarship exploring Solger's thought.

  39. 39 Solger, Vorlesungen über Ästhetik, pp. 97–98 (my italic).

  40. 40 Solger, Nachgelassene Schriften, p. 603.

  41. 41 Ibid., p. 511. This and the following quotations are quoted in Hegel's review of Solgers Nachgelassene Schriften und Briefwechsel. I therefore use the translation of Hegel's Solger's Posthumous Writings and Correspondence, provided by I. Diana in Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline and Critical Writings, ed. by E. Behler (New York: Continuum, 1990), pp. 265–319.

  42. 42 Ibid., p. 603.

  43. 43 Vorlesungen über Ästhetik, pp. 136–156.

  44. 44 Ibid. p. 312.