Yet, is the notion of development present in Kant?  As Abrams makes clear, it is.  Abrams’ overarching premise is that the romantic period enacted a secular revision of the Biblical myth, an enaction that also revised linear, apocalyptic history (of “pure discourse” as Steven Goldsmith puts it in Unbuilding Jerusalem) into a cyclical theodicy that is both the story of the education and growth of the individual (bildung) and the universal story of human society.  Cruciallly, for Abrams, the romantics attempted to reinterpret and reinvent in secular terms, rather than simply discard, the metaphysical, Christian tradition:
 
…I suggested that the millenial prospectivism of Christian thinking had fostered the development of a secular theory of historical progress, which emerged at a time when spectacular advances in the sciences provided a conceptual model of secular progress, while the new technology seemed to provide the material means, and the new psychology of the school of Locke seemed to provide the educational means for achieving the long-expected goal.  The detailed recurrence to the Biblical model of human history  and prophecy, among German thinkers in the latter eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, came at a time when the course of events had dramatically raised the question whether advances in science, rationality, and culture might be exacting too high a price — whether, in fact, instead of being a good in itself and a warrant of perfection to come, divisive intellection might be itself an evil and the root of all evils.  A number of these thinkers adapted the Christian fable of a lost and future paradise into a theory which neatly fused the alternative views of human history as either decline or progress. This they accomplished by representing man’s fall from happy unity into the evil of increasing division and suffering as an indispensable stage on his route back towward the lost unity and happiness of his origin, but along an ascending plane that will leave him immeasurably better off at the end than he was n the distant beginning.  (201)  
 
Abrams places Kant in a German tradition that began with Lessing’s translation of “the Scriptural revelation of man’s fall and redemption into a secular history of mankind’s progressive education in reason and morality” (201) and Herder’s account of “man’s double fall (both into bondage to sensual desire and instinct, and into rationality), which specifies human history as “a Bildungsgeschichte” (203).
 
In Part Four of Natural Supernaturalism, “The Circuitious Journey: Through Alienation to Reintegration,” Abrams discusses Schiller’s Kantian response to “Rousseau’s paradox,” or the paradox that rational progress “involves a decline in human happiness by imposing a growing burden of complication” (199).  Abrams refers to the impact on Schiller of “Kant’s ethics, with its basic concept of man ‘as belonging to two worlds’ – the noumenal and phenomenal worlds – and its consequent view that to be civilized involves a continuous tension, which can never be completely resolved” (199).
 
Abrams glosses Kant’s 1786 essay on the “Conjectural Origin of the History of Man,” a tentative history of man’s emergence from “servitude under the dominion of” (204) innocent, ignorant instinct to the freedom and ‘free choice’ of reason, which made it necessary for man to plan for the future and work accordingly. Kant account for the longing for “Paradise” as a longing to return to childhood, a return to Eden that is constantly thwarted by “the Biblical angel guarding the gate, the ‘irresistibly compelling reason, [which] doesn’t allow him to return into that condition of crudity and simplicity out of which it has dragged him'” (205).  For the individual, this is a fall into suffering, but for the race as a whole it is “gain, not loss.  For the ‘destiny’ of the race ‘consists of nothing other than a progress toward perfection’ in which man’s transgression to rationality was the indispensible first step” (205).  Thus, Abrams argues:
 
Kant’s secular theodicy is therefore one of private evils, public benefits” in which “evil and suffering are justified… by conceiving them as inevitable conditions of man’s progress toward an ultimat high civilization, predicted on purely empirical and rational grounds, which Kant identifies as the secular equivalent of the Christian faith n a  millennium by divine intervention…. in the higher third stage… there will be a return to the initial condition of nature, but without loss of the values of the intermediate stage of art. In Kant’s words, the opposition will survive ‘until perfect art again becomes nature… which is the ultimate goal of the moral destiny of the human race’. (206)
 
Abrams then turns to Schiller’s Jena lectures of 1790, which portray history as a spiral, in which man, the innocent creature, “perfect pupil of nature” and “happy instrument” became “guilty,” “imperfect,” and an “unhappy artist” (207).    Schiller’s later writings, such as The First Human Society, explicitly replace the linear eschaton with a circular cycle, an “account of the initial state of man as one of simple self-unity, which has fallen into multiplicity, fragmentation, and opposition, but in its divided state contains an inherent dialectic which presses on toward a higher unity which will incorporate the intervening multiplicty and resolve all conflicts” (209).  
 
In the opening of Chapter 5, “The Circuitious Journey: From Blake to D. H. Lawrence,” Abrams offers a useful summary:
 
Here, in summary, are the interrelated concepts and images which, as a whole or in substantial part, were shared by a number of German poets, romance writers, and philosophers in the three decades after 1790. The poet or philosopher, as the avant-garde of the general human consciousness, possesses the vision of an imminent culmination of history which will be the equivalent to a recovered paradise or golden age.  The movement toward this goal is a circuitous journey and quest, ending in the attainment of self-knowledge, wisdom, and power.  This educational process is a fall from primal unity into self-division, self-contradiction, and self-conflict, but the fall is in turn regarded as the indispensible first step along the way toward a higher unity which will justify the sufferings undergone en rout.  The dynamic of the process is the tension toward closure of the divisions, contraries, or ‘contradictions’ themselves.  The beginning and end of the journey is man’s ancestral home, which is often linked with a female contrary from whom he has, upon setting out, been disparted.  The goal of this long inner quest is to be reached by a gradual ascent, or else by a sudden breakthrough of imagination or cognition; in either case, however, the achievement of the goal is pictured as a scene of recognition and reconciliation, and is often signalized by a loving union with the feminine other, upon which man finds himself thoroughly at home with himself, his milieu, and his family of fellow men.  (255)
 
Abrams argues that similar elements were present in “the major literature of contemporary England” (255) even though Blake, Wordsworth and Shelley (unlike Coleridge and Carlyle) were unfamiliar with the German models.  He attributes this commonality less to “mutual influence” than to “a common experience in the social, intellectual, and emotional climate of the post-Revolutionary age, and of a grounding in a common body of materials – above all in the Bible, especially as expounded by radical Protestant visionaries, many of whom had assimilated a modicum of Neoplatonic lore. (256)
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