|The illumination of the philosophes|
The connection of Geistegeschichte and the inauguration of Baroque literary scholarship has itself become a subject of recent academic interest in recent decades. Hans-Harald Müller in his Barockforschung: Ideologie und Methode, ein Kapitel deutscher Wissenschaftsgeschichte 1870-1930) of 1973 associates the two with proto-fascist tendencies. Klaus Garber in 1976 (Martin Opitz, Der Vater der deutschen Dichtung": eine kritische Studie zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte der Germanistik) finds in Geistegeschichte support of monopoly capitalism in the German empire at the end of the 19th century. Both of these studies are very well researched and documents, but they reflect a tendency of Western intellectual life since the 18th century, namely, to reject the inheritance of the past. In the case of Geistesgeschichte, it is probably the failure of this very optimistic "doctrine" of universal progress that has consigned it to the dust heap of history.
In this article Strich discussed the "naturalization" in German poetry of the baroque (lower case) style. In a much later article (1938) he would discuss the Spanish and Italian roots of "baroque," but in 1916 he was simply making the point that the accentuation of German poetry, its "Betonung," and the contraries contained in the alexandrine style, made it a "natural" for the German language to express the new "spirit of the time." This spirit was a realization of "den jähen Wechsel aller Dinge, ... : daß alles auf Erden eitel ist, ein Schatten, ein Wind, ein Rauch, ein verklingnder Ton, eine Welle. Man ist ein Ball, den das Verhängnis schlägt, ein Kahn auf dem empörten Meer, ein Rohr, das jeder Wind bewegt."
Daniel Morhof's Unterricht von der Teutschen Sprache und Poesie (1682), has written of the 17th century: "Der mittelalterliches Ordogedanke, der bis den Humanismus hinreichte, Denken wie soziales Leben auf ein Göttliches hin hierarchisiered, ist im 30jährigen Krieg zerbrochen." Yet even while wars were leading the nations to bankruptcy, grandiose architectural projects and intellectual developments continued.
What inaugurated all these changes, what fractured the previously stable world view, including the confessional differences that ostensibly sparked the Europe-wide warring, was the opening of the world to commerce. That scientific knowledge began to accumulate, without any standard of truth, indicates that rapid turnover in "goods." It in only ironic that European exploration began with an Italian; the major Italian thinkers of the Renaissance period seemed blissfully unaware of change in perspective. In the Baroque essay, Strich characterizes the Renaissance poetic style as "measured": "der ganz auf Mass und Messbarkeit angelegt ist," expressed of eternal things. The Baroque, in contrast, gives expression to "dem werdenden, sich wandelnden, momentanen Erlebnis."
What is this experience but that of capitalism, The spirit of history, the "mind" of the title of this post, is that of capitalism.