Romances of Nature. Hegelian and Romantic Impulses for Critical Theory

Di Federica Gregoratto

In: Critique: Hegel and Contemporary Critical Theory LII , No. 1 ( 2023 )

Sezione Saggi / Articles


The intersection between social and natural processes has become a central issue for critical theorists nowadays. The paper investigates the intersection by drawing upon Hegelian and (German and English) Romantic insights. The first section proposes to address the issue from the perspective of human love, here taken as a Schauplatz, an exemplary scene. It proposes to interpret Hegelian and Romantic love as a social bond moved (in part) by natural forces, the study of which can shed light on the relation between human beings and their nature(s). The second section articulates a multiple, differentiated account of nature, which is, as Timothy Morton indicates, an «aroundness», an «ambience», a lively horizon in which human beings, their social relationships, their cultures, are immersed, as well as a series of different ‘things’ that are approached in various ways, by various human endeavours. The following two sections follow a particular, phenomenological approach, and look at two crucial types of experiences of nature. The third section illustrates the experience of nature in the mode of conciliation or aesthetic recognition, and the fourth one an experience of nature in the mode of drama, or breakdown of aesthetic recognition. The fifth section argues for the critical and transformative potential of dramatic experiences of nature. The sixth one concludes by discussing some Hegelian concerns around the Romantic perspective on critical theory.