Heinrich Heine on Hegel

The man was funny! Here he is giving the Romantic reply to Hegel:

I was young and proud, and it pleased my vanity when I learned form Hegel that it was not the dear God who lived in heaven that was God, as my grandmother supposed, but I myself here on earth. This foolish pride did not by any means have a corrupting influence on my feelings; rather it raised them to the level of heroism. At that time I put so much effort into generosity and self-sacrifice that I certainly outshone the most brilliant feats of those good Philistines of virtue who merely acted from a sense of duty and obeyed the moral laws. After all, I myself was now the living moral law and the source of all right and sanctions. I was primordial Sittlichkeit, immune against sin, I was incarnate purity; the most notorious Magdalens were purified by the cleansing and atoning power of the flames of my love, and stainless as lilies and blushing like chaste roses they emerged from the God’s embraces with an altogether new virginity. These restorations of damaged maidenhoods, I confess, occasionally exhausted my strength….

(Confessions, tr. Walter Kauffman)

Summary: might be better to believe that there is something in the universe not within one’s authority or knowledge. Could be God, could be aliens, could be the unified theory.

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