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Kant

1 Modern philosophy and the emergence of aesthetic theory: Kant Self-consciousness, knowledge and freedom The importance attributed to aesthetic questions in recent philosophy becomes easier to grasp if one considers the reasons for the emergence of modern aesthetic theory. Kant’s main work on aesthetics, the ‘third Critique’, the Critique of Judgement (CJ) (1790), forms part of his response to unresolved questions which emerge from his Critique of Pure Reason (CPR) (1781) and Critique of Practical Reason (1787).1 In order to understand the significance of the CJ

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
From Kant to Nietzsche

In 1796 a German politico-philosophical manifesto proclaims the 'highest act of reason' as an 'aesthetic act'. The ways in which this transformation relates to the development of some of the major directions in modern philosophy is the focus of this book. The book focuses on the main accounts of the human subject and on the conceptions of art and language which emerge within the Kantian and post-Kantian history of aesthetics. Immanuel Kant's main work on aesthetics, the 'third Critique', the Critique of Judgement, forms part of his response to unresolved questions which emerge from his Critique of Pure Reason and Critique of Practical Reason. The early Romantics, who, after all, themselves established the term, can be characterized in a way which distinguishes them from later German Romanticism. The 'Oldest System Programme of German Idealism', is a manifesto for a new philosophy and exemplifies the spirit of early Idealism, not least with regard to mythology. The crucial question posed by the Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling of the System of Transcendental Idealism (STI) is how art relates to philosophy, a question which has recently reappeared in post-structuralism and in aspects of pragmatism. Despite his undoubted insights, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's insufficiency in relation to music is part of his more general problem with adequately theorising self-consciousness, and thus with his aesthetic theory. Friedrich Schleiermacher argues in the hermeneutics that interpretation of the meaning of Kunst is itself also an 'art'. The book concludes with a discussion on music, language, and Romantic thought.

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The beginning of aesthetic theory and the end of art

5 Hegel: the beginning of aesthetic theory and the end of art Which Hegel? Hegel’s work has come in recent years to exemplify many of the choices facing contemporary philosophy. The changed status of Hegel can, though, seem rather odd, given the labyrinthine nature of his texts, the huge divergences between his interpreters from his own time until today, and the fact that some of the philosophers who now invoke him come from an analytical tradition noted for its insistence on a clarity not always encountered in Hegel himself. Even contemporary interpreters range

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
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nothing to do with its usefulness or its exchange value. Even though artworks clearly do become commodities, neither their use-value nor their value as commodities can constitute them as works of art. The potency of aesthetic theory lies not least in its attempts to explore the implications of this special status. Schelling states in 1800 that demanding usefulness from art ‘is only possible in an age which locates the highest efforts of the human spirit in economic discoveries’. Given his admiration for the early Schelling, it is therefore no coincidence that many of

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Art as the ‘organ of philosophy’

. Seen in this light, Schelling’s philosophy can be linked to Adorno’s attempt to trace the pathologies of modernity via reflection upon the subject’s relationship to internal and external nature, in which reflection upon art also plays a major role. Schelling’s history of the development of consciousness, then, contains the seeds of a questioning of aspects of modern science that will be vital to subsequent aesthetic theory. Let us now look in more detail at the STI. Intuition and concept The main terminological difficulty in understanding the STI lies in its frequent use

in Aesthetics and subjectivity

status therefore primarily derives from its universality. His aesthetic theory becomes an inverted Platonism. Whereas, in the Republic at least, Plato attacks art for only representing the single object, not the Idea, Schopenhauer maintains that art is the only locus in which the Idea can be represented. The higher truth becomes attainable by eliminating the illusion that the subject could relate to a world which means something essential to it qua sensuous subject. This elimination requires a relationship to things of disinterested contemplation which takes one beyond

in Aesthetics and subjectivity

aesthetic theory, particularly in the Marxist tradition. Hegel’s description of music is also echoed in Foucault’s Mallarmé-derived notion of the ‘act of writing that designates nothing other than itself ’. Hegel, though, draws the opposite conclusion to Foucault about the value of such an act. In the section of the Aesthetics on ‘Independent Music’, music without words, Hegel claims: ‘Subjective inwardness constitutes the principle of music. But the most inward part of the concrete self is subjectivity as such, not determined by any firm content and for this reason not

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diversity against ethnocentrism tends to suggest? One way of indicating why such a perspective may not be as questionable as is often claimed is apparent in the following argument, from Aesthetic Theory, against the ‘private’ relativisation of aesthetic judgement: Shoulder-shrugging aesthetic relativism is for its part a piece of reified consciousness; [it is] less melancholic scepticism against one’s own insufficiency than resentment against the claim to truth of art which alone would legitimate that greatness of artworks without whose fetish [i.e. the fetish of greatness

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
Fichte, Hölderlin and Novalis

of self-consciousness to what can be said about the world of objects. It is this exploration which helps lead, via a very complex route (see Frank 1997), to Romanticism and beyond – even as far as to the contemporary philosophy of mind (see Frank 1991) – as well as to some of the most important ideas in aesthetic theory that we shall be looking at later. Reflections on the subject 71 Günter Zöller has remarked in his valuable book on Fichte that ‘As any reader of Fichte knows, criticizing him comes easy; the hard part is making him intelligible’ (Zöller 1998 p. 6

in Aesthetics and subjectivity

. This is already evident if one looks at the role of aesthetic theory in the philosophy of the period with contemporary eyes. That Richard Rorty should now regard philosophy as a kind of literature, because he does not think it is possible for it to establish a privileged role in relation to other ways of articulating the world, is not fortuitous. Such a notion has nothing surprising about it for a Romantic thinker, and is not alien to Schelling’s STI, which sees art as able to show what philosophy cannot say. It is, though, important to remember here that the major

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