By Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing is the main consultant determine of the German Enlightenment. His protection of Spinoza, who had regularly been condemned as an atheist, provoked an immense controversy in philosophy, and his book of Reimarus' radical attack on Christianity ended in basic alterations in Protestant theology. This quantity provides the main complete assortment in English of Lessing's philosophical and theological writings, a number of of that are translated for the 1st time.
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Extra resources for Lessing: Philosophical and Theological Writings
Figurative language such as this, and the use of ﬁctional narratives to illustrate and amplify meaning, are of course the stuff of poetry – selfevidently so in the case of Nathan the Wise, which is itself a poetic text. This does not, however, mean that the philosophical texts of Lessing’s last years, such as The Education of the Human Race and Ernst and Falk, are likewise Daunicht, Lessing im Gespr¨ach, p. . See editor’s note in B , . Introduction poetic documents, for philosophers have always enriched their texts with ﬁgurative and narrative discourse, from Plato’s parable of the cave to Leibniz’s synchronised clocks and Nietzsche’s reworkings of Greek myth.
The process described in the dialogues is one of endless approximation to a utopian ideal whose complete realisation is neither possible nor desirable. Like most of his later writings, this work is appropriately open ended. In this respect as in many others, Ernst and Falk is closely parallel to The Education of the Human Race, at least the ﬁrst half of which, if not the entire work, was also written in –. The subject-matter of the latter work is religion, and it arose out of Lessing’s reﬂections on the fourth ‘Fragment’ of Reimarus (on the alleged inadequacy of the Old Testament as a religious revelation), in the context of which he published its ﬁrst ﬁfty-three paragraphs in (p.
Dahlstrom (Cambridge, ), pp. –. Lessing’s own references to Spinoza’s Ethics follow the numbering of a now obsolete German translation he was using. The numbering used here is that of the original Latin edition and most modern editions. Spinoza and pre-established harmony things as body and soul can be united. Spinoza, on the other hand, sees no difference between them; he therefore sees no union and no problem requiring resolution. The soul, Spinoza says in another passage (Pt II, Prop.
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