The Human Vocation and the Question of the Earth: Karoline von Günderrode’s Philosophy of Nature

Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 104 (1):108-130 (2022)
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Contra widespread readings of Karoline von Günderrode’s 1805 “Idea of the Earth ” as a creative adaptation of Schelling’s philosophy of nature, this article proposes that “Idea of the Earth” furnishes a moral account of the human relation to the natural world, one which does not map onto any of the more well-known romantic or idealist accounts of the human-nature relation. Specifically, I argue that “Idea of the Earth” responds to the great Enlightenment question concerning the human vocation, but from a distinctive romantic-idealist angle. I begin by demonstrating the influence of Fichte’s 1800 Vocation of Humanity on Günderrode’s thinking, which involves an investigation of both Fichte’s text and Günderrode’s critical response to it. I then turn to “Idea of the Earth” where I analyse Günderrode’s understanding of nature and the self in light of her critique of Fichte, and thereby distinguish her position from Fichte’s and from the position espoused by her fellow romantics and idealists. By reading “Idea of the Earth” alongside Fichte’s text and Günderrode’s remarks on it, this article sheds new light on both Günderrode’s understanding and defence of Naturphilosophie – against Fichte’s critique of it – and her distinctive contribution to romantic philosophies of nature.

Author's Profile

Dalia Nassar
University of Sydney


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