“Mihai Eminescu between Kant and Schopenhauer” (Angela Botez)

Revista de Filosofie, tomul LVII, no. 1-2 (2010)

Abstract. The study examines the huge cultural debt of Romanian culture and philosophy before Mihai Eminescu. In the terms of Emil Cioran, besides Eminescu, everything is approximate. Eminescu is in his view an inexplicable exception for us. He wonders actually how it was possible to have someone as him into existence: What business had here the one who could have made a Buddha jealous? Constantin Noica named him “the complete man of the Romanian culture” and included him among the most significant Romanian thinkers. After Eminescu philosophy has a definite central role in Romanian culture and a specific language enriched by meditation on Greek and Roman philosophy and, especially, Schopenhauer and Kant. Both these influences are interwoven in his avant-la-lettre postmodern masterpiece, The Poor Dionysus.
Key words: Eminescu, Kant, Schopenhauer, philosophical language, The Poor Dionysus, postmodernism.

Mihai Eminescu whom we also name according to Constantin Noica “the complete man of the Romanian culture” was among its most significant thinkers. Eminescu was among the few read even by Emil Cioran, in a superlative key, considering that he gave purpose to our nation:”Everything created in Romania until now was under the sign of the fragmentary. Besides Eminescu, everything is approximate. None of us bragged about him. For haven’t we not declared him an inexplicable exception for us? What business had here the one who could have made a Buddha jealous? Without Eminescu, we could have known that all we could have been was mediocre beings that it is not exit from ourselves and we would have adapted perfectly to our minor condition. We are extremely indebted to his genius and to the uneasiness that he poured into our soul”. We shall start from the definition given philosophy by Mihai Eminescu, emphasizing his high esteem for all who are into the philosophical meditation according to Mihai Eminescu – Kantian Readings quoted also by Constantin Noica: Eminescu noticed: “Philosophy is the situation of the world into notions, for which precision thinking resides to no other authority than its own, by this eliminating any captatio benevolentiae be it as faint as it may be. It is not in philosophy’s manner to find the God of Science, nor the relationship among the exact sciences, nor the immortality of the soul, nor the principles of moral. The judgement makes tabula rasa of all these, they are for it matters whose nature and standing are to be researched, without any preoccupation for the outcomes which it is to encounter. For this, any preconceived idea has to be firstly rejected. For this reason, the thinker can imagine neither absolute time, nor absolute space, nor will absolute causality – for all these form a chain within his mind, unlimited at each end, outside any absolute fixation”. This shows that metaphysics is not made for everyday minds.

It is restricted to a few genius attempts that most, especially philosophy professors, are not able to understand, says Eminescu. Thus, this tendency, the most noble, but also the rarest of the human spirit enters through the way of the common charlatanism. Professed for a certain payment by people who are not capable to understand its object, the social organisation calls it to the aid of theology, so, as a maid without authority for Church and unrelated to holiness, it attempts to dictate to exact sciences that do not need it, or to protect the Church as a sweet talker, permitted by the former, unapproved.

”We consider, says Eminescu, that an honest teacher, in the scientific meaning of the word, should conduct with his students, at the most, the exegesis of the writings that are recognised as very good, from antiquity and modern times, abstaining from creating cheap theories, when he is not up to measuring the deep spirits on this grounds, for the positive matters he does not have to teach anyway.

For this job is fitter the philologist who knows well the Sanskrit language (for the hymns of the Veda), Greek for Greek philosophy and Latin for the philosophy of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Within this context the theories have at least historical value and form a course of mind gymnastics that saves the students from believing easily and without meditation any general theories issued in law studies, political economy and in the hypotheses of natural sciences. Philosophy has a critical value, it increases the intellect of students, and it bars their laziness of thought and the too great trust in foreign ideas, it uses the students to think things through genetically and mull over every word before placing it within a theory”.

Many interwar philosophers (Petrovici, Blaga, Vianu, Noica) referred to the determinations given by Eminescu to the birth of that Romanian philosophy to which we still aspire nowadays. Preoccupied by the philosophical expression in Romanian language, he is the one who created most of the modern philosophical language. Started with Dimitrie Cantemir and Samuel Micu, the creative approach producing such a language attains at Eminescu a point of maximum accomplishment. Luckily, German philosophical language and spirit fitted Eminescu’s mental and emotive structure. The procedure by which Eminescu brought the most profound accomplishments of Kant, Schopenhauer, Hegel into Romanian thought and philosophy was, first of all, a linguistic one. With a special interest for the domain of philosophy, about which he considered that it cannot be frequented by just anyone, he entertained the dream to appropriate Romanian language to philosophy.

The process is well captured by Ion Sân-Georgiu in his paper Eminescu and the German Spirit, which we are going to present as following, to emphasise that what is presented surprises the main characteristic elements for the description of the place of Mihai Eminescu in Romanian philosophy… [PDF]