Ranke. The Meaning of History by Leonard Krieger

By Leonard Krieger

"the acquaintanceship with women and men who had common tradition exercised nice impact

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I n this plastic period o f his life, even before he had developed any b u t the most banal feehngs about the pragmatic uses o f the past, he was caUed by an external c o n v u k i o n to make the first of what w o u l d be many connectioiK between his fears for the fragility o f h i s social order and his insight into the fundamental divisiotK of pohtics, and mstinctively he t u r n e d to history for thc confirmation o f his equally strong conviction that social stability 40 THE HBTORY and political u n i t y were u l t i m a t e and attainable realities.

Nations, i n this view, are the organizations o f h u m a n i t y t h r o u g h w h i c h its universal history as a whole must be studied; states are the national ta THE THEORY organizations (albeit the connection between states and nations is not a one-to-one correspondence) t h r o u g h which the history o f nations—and thus o f h u m a n i t y — i n modern times must be stud­ ied, since " t h e rejuvenation o f the state by the national principle . . *' Nations and states, as articulations o f h u m a n i t y , are universal i n their comprehension o f all m e n , a n d , üke h u m a n i t y , they too are spiritual i n essence.

I n the academic politics o f the University o f Berhn, Ranke sided w i t h Schleiermacher against Hegel, and this party lineup was expressive o f a deeper intellectual relationship. Schlei­ ermacher, the renovator o f Protestantism, articulated i n his the­ ology and philosophy the same doctrine that appeared i n Rarжe as a summary assumption o f his history. This doctrine, w h i c h may be labeled dialectical dualism, set u p the f u n d a m e n t a l terms o f l i f e — G o d and the w o r l d , rehgion and culture, the ideal and the real, feeUng and understanding, the general and the i n d i v i d u a l — as polar opposites i n continual and reciprocal interaction and posited Christianity as the active, l i v i n g spirit ("galvanic s o u l , " i n Schleiermacher's words) w h i c h b o t h preserved the separate i d e n t i ­ ties of the two terms i n each o f these sets and sparked their evanescent fusions, i n an itrfiidte r h y t h m o f determinate and mediated antitheses w i t h o u t a synthesis.

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