Professor Royce, in his lecture last evening on "The Romantic School in Philosophy," abandoned, after a brief summary of the doctrines of Kant and Fichte, the technical discussions of philosophical systems for a comparison of the literary relations of the period with the thought of the time.
Fichte's philosophy was an example of beautiful waywardness. Much in his view of the world is not ethically explicable, and we must work toward a solution by a formula less impatient than his. The Romantic school is an enlargement of his one-sidedness through the appearance of other doctrines which explained the world in terms of thought and paved the way for the philosophy of today.
The Romantic period flourished between 1780 and 1805 and was at its height during the last years of Schiller's life. Weimar, Jena and, in a less degree, Berlin were centers of importance. The period was one of ferment for young men who thought themselves endowed with genius, and influenced German thought from that day to this. But in a narrower sense, the name of Romantic School is applied only to a group of young men, born between 1765 and 1775, notably the brothers Schlegel, Tieck, Noualis, Schelling and Schleiermacher.
The distinguishing feature of this group was the creation of a new world; but they did it rather as romancers than as metaphysicians. They suggested instead of completing and interpreted the world in sentiment and in divination rather than in divine law.
Particular illustrations of the tendencies of the Romantic School are found in Friedrich Schlegel. He was a romantic genius, wayward, but not deep. Novalis' was a tender and noble nature, yet fickle and without a truly ideal object. Schelling was also way ward in method and worked back from Fichte and Spinoza. His chaotic idealism won the condemnation of Fichte himself. Schelling was largely influenced by the idol of the Romantic School, Carolina, whose correspondence with him is of great assistance in our study of the time.
The lecture closed with a short account of Schelling's Natur-Philosophie which was characterized as an inversion of the Fichtian telescope and with a translation by the lecturer of Schelling's philosophical thought in imitation of the Middle High German doggerel.