Chapter III “The Thoroughness of Critical Criticism”, Or Critical Criticism As Herr J. (Jungnitz?)

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Written by Engels

Criticism cannot ignore Herr Nauwerck's infinitely important dispute with the Berlin Faculty of Philosophy[1]. It has indeed had a similar experience and it must take Herr Nauwerck's fate as a background in order to put its own dismissal from Bonn[2] in sharper relief. Criticism, being accustomed to considering the Bonn affair as the event of the century, and having already written the "philosophy of the deposition of criticism", could be expected to give a similar detailed philosophical construction of the Berlin "collision". Criticism proves a priori that everything had to happen in such a way and no other. It proves:

1) Why the Faculty of Philosophy was bound to come into "collision" not with a logician or metaphysician, but with a philosopher of the state;

2) Why that collision could not be so sharp and decisive as Criticism's conflict with theology in Bonn;

3) Why that collision was, properly speaking, a stupid business, since Criticism had already concentrated all principles and all content in its Bonn collision, so that world history could only become a plagiarist of Criticism;

4) Why the Faculty of Philosophy considered attacks on the works of Herr Nauwerck as attacks on itself;

5) Why no other course remained for Herr N, but to retire of his own accord;

6) Why the Faculty had to defend Herr N. if it did not want to disavow itself;

7) Why the "inner split in the Faculty had necessarily to manifest itself in such a way" that the Faculty declared both N. and the Government right and wrong at the same time;

8) Why the Faculty finds in N.'s works no reason for dismissing him;

9) What determined the lack of clarity of the whole verdict;

10) Why the Faculty "deems itself (!) entitled (!) as a scientific authority (!) to examine the essence of the matter", and finally;

11) Why, nevertheless, the Faculty does not want to write in the same way as Herr N.

Criticism disposes of these important questions with rare thoroughness in four pages, proving by means of Hegel's logic why everything had to happen as it did and why no god could have prevented it. In another place Criticism says that there has not yet been full knowledge of a single epoch in history; modesty prevents it from saying that it has full knowledge of at least its own collision and Nauwerck's, which, although they are not epochs, appear to Criticism to be epoch-making.

Having "abolished" in itself the "element" of thoroughness, Critical Criticism becomes "the tranquillity of knowledge".

  1. The article in question here is “Herr Nauwerk and the Faculty of Philosophy” published in No. VI of Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (May 1844) and signed “J” – the first letter of Jungnitz.
  2. The reference is to the dismissal of Bruno Bauer whom the Prussian Government deprived temporarily in October 1841 and permanently in March 1842 of the right to lecture in Bonn University because of his writings criticizing the Bible.