Hölderlin's skeptical horizon: negation and the renunciation of dialectical production in Hyperion
The dissertation interprets Holderlin's novel as a response to questions about subjectivity and "Grundsatze" raised within the philosophical circle at Jena. The failure of Reinhold's "Elementarphilosophie," the initial publication of Niethammer's "Philosophisches Journal," and Fichte's early lectures on the "Wissenschaftslehre" establish the historical context in which Holderlin developed his ideas about consciousness. In order to frame the analysis of Hyperion, I also examine Holderlin's reception of the pantheism debate between Jacobi and Mendelssohn as well as the relation of his early theoretical texts to post-Kantian skepticism.As a phenomenology of consciousness the novel's reflexive structure is explained by its content. Hyperion's three principal relationships delineate a progressive understanding of the subject's ability to grasp absolutes. Adamas, his mentor, witnesses Hyperion come out of his childhood harmony with nature into self-awareness. Alabanda, his friend and "Gegner," introduces Hyperion to violent opposition. Diotima, his lover, reacquaints him with the possibility of harmonious relation. Though triadic structures like this one suggest ideological closure, Hyperion remains skeptical towards such products of dialectical thought to the end. Only the form in which Hyperion draws his conclusions changes; cynical and dogmatic judgments are replaced by an optimistic statement of paradox (an Aristotelian riddle or impossible combination of words).Within the context of Holderlin's modern reception as it is influenced by Heidegger, the final chapter examines how the function of the negative differs in logic and language. Specifically, it looks at the conditions under which a fundamental principle of logic, the principle of contradiction, has transformed from a crucible for truth to a tool for making statements that neither affirm nor deny truth. The concept of negation unifies the three areas of the dissertation: the concern in Jena for the (im)possibility of a first principle of philosophy, the form of Hyperion as a representation of the individual's (in)ability to conceive ideal wholes, and the rhetorical strategies for naming the (im)possible adopted from Heidegger by modern readers of Holderlin. Ultimately, the dissertation proposes a negation based on faith and resignation as an alternative to Hegel's more antagonistic and hence productive idea of negativity that persists in postmodern discourse.