I’ve been reading through the two volumes of Rosenzweig’s letters and diary entries here and there for good while, but  in a footnote in the first chapter of Benjamin Pollock’s so far quite interesting Franz Rosenzweig and the Systematic Task of Philosophy I came across an something I haven’t yet seen.   As Pollock notes, Rosenzweig was rather unimpressed with the majority of the Neo-Kantians (except for Hermann Cohen, really), who he thought were simply confused about the relationship between a “system” and the task of philosophy.  Hence the need to return to the  approaches of German Idealism to get clear on the systematic task of philosophy. In this letter his ire is directed towards Rickert

Spinoza refutes Descartes, Leibniz refutes Spinoza, Kant refutes Leibniz, Fichte refutes Kant, Schelling refutes Fichte, Hegel refutes Schelling, and Hegel, through the advance of history is more than refuted, he is judged. But Nietzsche does not refute Schopenhauer and I do not refute Nietzsche.  He who still busies himself today with refutations (e.g. Rickert with Nietzsche, for what is the philosophy of value other than a struggle against the transvaluation of values?), proves in so doing that he is not a philosopher.

Geez.  How awkward.  I mean Rickert purportedly helped Rosenzweig publish his article, “Oldest System-Program.” Moreover, as Pollock notes (I wouldn’t know since I’m not that familiar with Rickert): “Rickert’s own systematic work contains key themes and concepts too many of which pop up in Rosenzweig’s Star for such overlap to be coincidental” (64).  Yet…

5 thoughts on “Refutations

  1. I wonder what the connection between Rosenzweig and Rickert could be, actually. I mean, Rickert doesn’t buy into the idea of history as continuous progression, and conceives of reality as essentially sublime (which seems consonant with FR’s ‘All’), which shifts the job of philosophy to a problem of presentation. But these are sorta general tendencies, rather than concrete concepts. Does Pollack say anything more on the subject? I’m really curious now, especially since FR’s Nietzsche swipe seems (1) off-base to me, and (2) really mean-spirited.

    By all accounts, though, Rickert was an arrogant prick. Benjamin describes him as “Grey and evil” at one point, and Jaspers recounts how Rickert claimed just after Weber’s death how he [Rickert] was far more important than Weber, because weber adopted his theory of research….

    • Yeah, it’s a rather nasty comment, and I don’t know what the connection between the two would/could be since I know very little about Rickert (save for the fact that photos of him kind of scare me). Here’s the footnote to Pollock’s sentence I cited above:

      Rickert intended his System der Philosophie, ereste Teil: Allgemeine Grundlegung der Philosophie (1921) to be–as the title suggests–the first part of a system of philosophy. The book opens with a compelling apology for systematic philosophy and its engagement with “the All”. A thorough study of R’s intellectual relationship to Rickert would have to inquire into Rickert’s use of the following concepts and R’s possible adaptation of such concepts: the notion of “the And as bond,” which makes possible the “synthetic unity of multiplicity” in a manner different from Hegelian synthesis; the notion of the “personal name;” and event the Faustian expression of Gefulsmonismus-“Name is sound and smoke”–against which R will formulate the call of the personal name in the Star; the need to distinguish between questions of “Weltanschauung” and “Lebensanschauung“; the play on the term Voll-endung (completion, full-ending); and of course, the general systematic engagement with the All as that which “redeems us from the nothingness of relativism.”

      That’s really the only mention of Rickert in the whole of Pollock’s book. Sounds like a good dissertation for somebody to write…

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