Franz Rosenzweig's Hegel and the State: Biography, History and Tragedy
MetadataShow full item record
Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929) is known today as one of the most influential German Jewish intellectuals of the twentieth century. His most celebrated work, The Star of Redemption, has earned him a reputation as a challenging religious thinker with increasing relevance for contemporary religious, philosophical and historical debates. However, this legacy has largely ignored his first published book, Hegel and the State (1920). My dissertation is the first English-language monograph to fully explore Rosenzweig's intellectual biography of Hegel, making a contribution to contemporary Hegel and Rosenzweig scholarship alike. I offer an analysis that draws on the formal characteristics of the work--such as the epigraph, the narrative and biographical structure, as well as the historical presuppositions of the foreword and the conclusion--to show how Rosenzweig's interpretation of Hegel's key texts, culminating in the Philosophy of Right, is informed by his own biographical development and the influence of thinkers such as Wilhelm Dilthey and Friedrich Meinecke. By recasting his critique of Hegel's political thinking into biographical and historical terms, I ultimately argue that Rosenzweig's narrative in Hegel and the State is a tragic foil for his own development as a German historian. In Rosenzweig's interpretation, the relationship between the individual and the state championed by Hegel ends in the tragic separation of the individual from the reconciliatory promise of Idealist thought. By unearthing Rosenzweig's latent theory of tragedy in Hegel and the State--evidenced most clearly in how he situates the figures of Friedrich Hölderlin and Napoleon--I argue that the historical and philosophical crisis that marked the beginning of the twentieth century, and particularly Rosenzweig's own biographical crisis, shapes his work as the author of Hegel and the State. In addition to providing a critical commentary on the cultural, philosophical and literary history of the German nation, as well as providing the first English translation of many passages from Hegel and the State, my dissertation lays the necessary groundwork for a reinterpretation of Rosenzweig's critique of German Idealism in The Star of Redemption.