ARTICLE 68: Research Methods for Ph. D. and Master’s Degree Studies: Romanticism

Written by Dr. Hannes Nel

What can be better than a philosophy that encourages you to follow your dreams?

Imagine how great it will be if you could create your own space in life.

To do the things that you enjoy doing and that makes you happy.

Don’t you think that life would be so much better if you could live your personality, be your own unique self?

Perhaps you can have such freedom by paying more attention to romanticism as your philosophical perspective of life.

I discuss romanticism as a paradigm in this article.

Romanticism originally dealt with art, culture and literature on an intellectual level, starting as a revolt against social and political norms and a reaction against the scientific explanation of nature. It strives towards an understanding of people and nature.

Romanticism, however, no longer deals with art only. It is also not always historical in nature. Many recent phenomena, such as nationalism, existentialism, leadership, interpersonal relationships, democracy, politics and many more are affected by romanticism.

Romanticism focuses on imagination, creativity, uniqueness, emotion, and freedom. Even though appearing to be a rigid and intolerant stance, romanticism promotes tolerance and acceptance of the irrationality of human behaviour. This means that romanticism acknowledges and accepts liberalism, decency and a measure of increased rational self-understanding.

Romanticism accepts as fact that human conclusions and the structuring of knowledge are ubiquitous, though not always accurate. This means that the absence of truth is regarded as truth and the absence of values is regarded as a value. Rejection is regarded as a form of creativity which rejects cause and effect and even logic. Reason is regarded as a kind of confinement, and freedom a triumph of will. Training and culture are regarded as synonymous.

Romanticist researchers believe in naturalness, freedom from boundaries and rules, and living a solitary life free from communal restrictions. Imagination is regarded as superior to reason. Romanticism is individual rather than group oriented, even though some of the romantic values, such as social solidarity, lean towards group cohesion. The mysterious, occult and satanic are often researched following a romanticist paradigm.

Romantic nationalism developed as an extension of romanticism. It can include the manner of government practice, language, race, culture, religion and customs in a country and nation. Romantic nationalism would typically oppose autocratic, discriminatory and corrupt government. Self-determination is often a key issue. The use of a command and control hierarchy is frowned upon.

Romanticism draws a measure of parallelism with liberalism and relativism by claiming that there are many compatible values. It is enlightening and supports values such as striving for justice, the power of science, love of truth, happiness and a focus on wisdom.

In terms of its view of especially power relations, romanticism is the opposite of structuralism, with the former challenging it and the latter embracing it as the foundation for the development of knowledge. Unwittingly romanticism erodes itself by promoting new ideas and creativity which, it seems, is not what romanticists originally had in mind.

Conducting research in topics such as the occult and satanism may invite the disapproval of some people, especially if the purpose of the research is to erode integrity and ethics. This may be regarded as misuse and unprofessional conduct.



  1. No longer deals with art and culture only.
  2. Can manifest as a revolt against social and political norms.
  3. Opposes the scientific explanation of nature.
  4. Strives towards the understanding of people and nature.
  5. Promotes tolerance and acceptance.
  6. Focusses on imagination, creativity, uniqueness, emotion and freedom.
  7. Acknowledges liberalism, decency and some rational self-understanding.
  8. Frowns upon the use of a command and control hierarchy.
  9. Researches the mysterious, occult and satanic.
  10. Believes in naturalness, freedom from boundaries and rules and living a solitary life.
  11. Is associated with liberalism and relativism and opposed to structuralism.

Freedom is regarded as a triumph of will.

Rejection is creativity.

The absence of value is value.

The absence of truth is truth.

Reason is a confinement.

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