Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg (Novalis) was a poet, an imaginative writer, philosopher and one of the leading philosophical thinkers of early German Romanticism. Novalis' main work is considerd to be "Heinrich von Ofterdingen". Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg died on 25 March 1801 of tuberculosis.
Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg was born on 2 May 1772 at Oberwiederstadt manor. His faminly descended from the low-Saxon nobility. Novalis' father, Heinrich Ulrich Erasmus von Hardenberg, was the manager of a salt mine and was known as a pietist and member of the Herrenhuter (Moravian) Church. His second wife, Auguste Bernhardine von Hardenberg (neé von Bölzig), gave birth to eleven children, the second of whom was Friedrich.
At the Lutheran grammar school in Eisleben Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg concentrated in rhetoric and ancient literature, in line with the general educational guidelines.
Novalis studied Law from 1790 to 1794 at Jena, Leipzig and Wittenberg. He passed his exams with distinction. During his studies, he attended Schiller's lectures on history. From his period as a student in Jena onwards, von Hardenberg was well connected with the dominant intellectual circles of the time. He was acquainted with Goethe, Herder and Jean Paul, and befriended Ludwig Tieck, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, and the brothers Friedrich and August Wilhelm Schlegel.
Novalis worked as actuary for August Coelestin Just. August Coelestin Just his superior, also his friend and, later, his biographer. In January, 1796 Novalis started his career in the management of salt mines.
Novalis tended to valorize religion over philosophy and art.
Novalis in his works attempted to create a higher union between politics, art and religion.
For Novalis philosophy involves a process of maturity and self-understanding. Novalis relies on the paradoxical priniciple that philosophy 'must be systemlessness brought into a system'. Johann Gottlieb Fichte's foundationalism led Novalis to an idea that the absolute is no longer something which can be made positively accessible to philosophy. Novalis introduced a very modern idea of temporality: 'Time can never stop – we cannot think away time – for time is the condition of the thinking being – time only stops with thinking'. Novalis' philosophical postition can be summed up in his claim that 'The absolute which is given to us can only be recognised negatively by acting and finding that what we are seeking is not reached by any action', or, in short 'We everywhere seek the unconditioned (das Unbedingte), and always only find things (Dinge)'.