‘The Tragic Absolute: German Idealism and the Languishing of God’ by David Farrell Krell

Published by Indiana University Press in 2005. Download link updated on 29. June 2021.

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The Tragic Absolute argues that German Idealist and Romantic theories of literature and aesthetic judgment, especially when it comes to tragedy, are closer to the heart of metaphysics and ethics than previously thought.

Explores the contributions of Schelling, Hölderlin, Novalis, Hegel, and Nietzsche to the aesthetics of tragedy and charts the fate of the absolute and speculative philosophy in terms of the tragic. Countering the usual conception that aesthetic judgments about literary genres are relatively marginal subjects for philosophy, here even God himself, the very absolute of traditional metaphysics, is seen as languishing and condemned to tragic downfall.

Questions concerning the death of God, the role of trauma and forgetting in narrative, the overcoming of barriers between humans and other living beings, and the role of music and rhythm as sources of ecstasy are highlighted in this keen and precise book.


David Farrell Krell is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University, Chicago, and Brauer Distinguished Visiting Professor of German Studies at Brown University, Providence, USA. He is the translator of Heidegger’s lectures on Nietzsche, and was the editor of Heidegger’s Basic Writings (1977).

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