Essays in Romanticism

Freedom, Persistence, and the Minimum Conditions of Historicity in Hegel and Kant

Essays in Romanticism (2014), 21, (2), 199–218.


The article traces Hegel's revision of Kantian conceptuality to tease out a response to the challenge that material persistence presents for Romantic-era historicism. The argument proceeds in three stages. First, it traces Kant's career-spanning attempt to reconcile history and his noumenal account of human freedom. Second, it extends Hegel's revision of Kantian conceptuality by showing its implied revision of the relationship between history and freedom from the side of the Subject. Third, it engages Friedrich Kittler's work to consider the relationship of the document to history and the implications of Hegel's revision for material history. With these three sections, the article argues that a more accurate and flexible conception of history becomes visible by attending to the minimum conditions of historicity and that the most useful and capacious conception of history is history understood as that which persists into the future.

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Author details

Crimmins, Jonathan