BLTC Press Titles

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Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Bhagavad Gita


Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh

Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe

On religion

by Friedrich Schleiermacher



In making this"translation, I have been deeply impressed with the truth of Friedrich Schlegel's saying, that the modern literature, though in several languages, is only one. Though this work, so far as I know, is now translated for the first time, it does not now begin to enter into English thought. Traces of the movement at least, of which it is the most characteristic product, may be found in our philosophy, our theology, and our literature. Seeing, then, that this book claims more than a merely philosophical interest, it may well be thought that I should have done something more to give it an English accent. Intuition, used broadly for immediate knowledge, and the All, the "Whole, thej Word-Spirit for aspects of the world we feel and seem to know, can hardly be acknowledged as natural to our native tongue. But, though unfamiliar, I hope that, in their connections, they are not incomprehensible. My excuse for imposing upon the reader the necessity of a second translation in thought, must be found in Schleiermacher's own opinion. There are two ways, he considered, of making a good translation : either the author must be left alone as far as possible and the reader be made to approach, or the reader be left and the author be manipulated. In the former case, the work is translated as we believe the author would have done it, had he learned the language of the translation; in the latter, as he would have written, had it been his native tongue. In philosophical works, he thought the former method alone practicable. If the wisdom and science of the author are not to be transformed and subjected to the wildest caprice, the language of the translation must be bent to the language of the original. As we have not yet any example of a breach of this rule that encourages imitation, I have not been bold enough to make the attempt. Still I would fain believe that, except the first half of the Second Speech, the book is not beyond measure difficult. That section is acknowledged, even by the most patient Germans, to be obscure, and I would direct the reader's attention to the summary in the Appendix of its first form, which is very much simpler. Further, I might suggest that in the first' reading the Explanations be omitted, and that it be borne in mind that they are not meant to elucidate the text, but rather to expand or modify it into harmony with later positions. For a more careful study of the book, I have sought to make the Index helpful.

My thanks are due to Professor Calderwood for encouragement in the work, and to my friend, Mr. G. W. Alexander, MA., for revising the proofs and for many suggestions in the translation.

Alnwick, 1893.


As the " Speeches on Religion " were first published in 1799 this translation is in one sense exceedingly belated. In Germany itself, however, it has been more commented upon during the last twenty years than ever before. In 1868 Schenkel's Sketch of Schleiermacher'sLife and Characterwas published. In 1870 Dilthey's Life of Schleiermacher followed, at least the first volume of it, which is all that has yet seen the light. In 1874 Ritschl published a treatise on " Schleiermacher's Speeches on Religion and their influence on the Evangelical Church of Germany." This was followed by two very elaborate articles on the "Speeches" by Lipsius in the " Jahrbiicher fur protestantische Theologie," wherein he drew attention to the very material changes in the various editions. In 1879 Piinjer made this apparent by a critical edition, which gave the first edition in the text, and the changes in foot-notes. Since then treatises have appeared on the idea of religion in- the different editions by Braasch, on Schleiermacher's conception of Individuality by Frohne, on his relation to Christianity by Otto Ritschl, and on the quintessence of his theology, a severely hostile criticism, by Locke.

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