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Reclaiming mystery: A Māori philosophy of Being, in light of Novalis' ontology

In both the German Romantic and the Māori traditions, Sein/Being may be described as both finite and endless, and is not a separate phenomenon from things in the world but instead one that gives rise to them, providing them with Geheimnis/mystery. Forgetting about Being is an issue for the Māori self now as much as for the West, however, and it is moreover implicit in various modes of colonisation that things in the world should be approached as if they are geheimnislos/lacking mystery. To acknowledge Being in all its mystery is to bring to the fore, once again, the notion that the activity of Being is not separate from the consciousness of the self, or from other things in the world. The frühromantische/early German Romantic poet and philosopher, Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis), had written in the late 18th century on the threat that Geheimnislosigkeit/the lack of mystery posed for the integrity of things in the world. His works are central to this thesis: I approach them with an ontological focus and use them as Stoßsätze/sentences that challenge and push, to examine how Māori, individually and collectively, are encouraged to forget Being and mystery in their everyday interactions with the philosophies of Western institutions. I then engage with the dominant usages of the terms ‘whakapapa’, ‘ako’, ‘whenua’, and ‘mātauranga’, to show that they are characterised by an overriding lack of mystery. Finally I use some of Novalis’ fragments to romanticise/revitalise those terms and the things to which they refer, in conjunction with some other Māori terms, thereby reclaiming aspects of their mystery in modern philosophical discourses. I also offer some romanticised early German Romantic terms from their positioning alongside Māori ones. This thesis is innovative methodically and substantively, highlighting two main themes: the collaborative approach of referring to a seemingly disparate philosophical source to explain colonising influences on Māori metaphysics, ontology and epistemology, and the possibility for some substantive critique and resolution to those influences. The form of Symphilosophie/[unified philosophy] that is referred to here is both collaborative and productive. Novalis’ theories and fragments assist method and substance. My thesis brings to the fore the value of his sources when they are brought into dialogue with Māori philosophy to illuminate the issue of Geheimnis to things in the world.
Type of thesis
Mika, C. T. H. (2013). Reclaiming mystery: A Māori philosophy of Being, in light of Novalis’ ontology (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/7450
University of Waikato
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