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Andrew Bowie

2 German Idealism and early German Romanticism Thinking the infinite The immediate consequences from the 1790s onwards of the perceived failure of Kant’s attempt to ground philosophy in the principle of subjectivity are apparent in two areas of philosophy which carry the broad names ‘German Idealism’, which is mainly associated with Fichte, Schelling and Hegel; and ‘early Romanticism’, which is mainly associated with Novalis, Friedrich Schlegel and (in some respects) Friedrich Schleiermacher.1 There are, as we shall see, crucial respects in which these two

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
From Kant to Nietzsche
Author: Andrew Bowie

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.

Open Access (free)
Art as the ‘organ of philosophy’
Andrew Bowie

between ‘Criticism’ and ‘Dogmatism’, a project he characterises in terms of a reconciliation of Idealism and Realism, or of transcendental philosophy and Naturphilosophie. The main problem this involves is the primacy of the two approaches in relation to each other. Prioritising transcendental philosophy avoids dogmatism, but at the expense of rendering nature secondary to the I, and thus giving rise to Fichte’s problems. Naturphilosophie gives an account of the I’s ground in material nature, but seems to have to rely on dogmatic premises to do so – if nature can only

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
Andrew Bowie

ideas of reason and nature. In order to see why, we need to consider certain aspects of the anti-Idealism of Schopenhauer and Marx, before turning in more detail to Nietzsche’s own texts. Schopenhauer: music as metaphysics The importance of Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860) for the work of the early Nietzsche is well established. However, it is not clear that Nietzsche’s rejection of Schopenhauer in his later work means that he in fact rejected all of the elements of Schopenhauer’s thought which had been central to his early texts. Schopenhauer is an interestingly

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
Fichte, Hölderlin and Novalis
Andrew Bowie

all, without which there would be nothing but opaque, inert being; on the other – and this can be the case even in theories which still give the I a central role in constituting the world’s intelligibility – the I seems incapable of making itself intelligible to itself in any exhaustive way. This conflicting image of the I is evident in three of the most notable explorations of the nature of the I in German Idealism and early Romanticism: those of Fichte, Hölderlin, and Novalis, and the questions they raise remain central even to contemporary philosophy. Fichte

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
Open Access (free)
Andrew Bowie

they relate to nature in ourselves and outside ourselves. This reflection is notably double-edged: the enthusiasm generated by liberation from theological constraints can easily give way to a suspicion of the resultant freedom and to the sense that the universe is inherently meaningless, because whatever meaning there is can only be a ‘merely human’ projection. The move that can be traced from early German Idealism to Schopenhauer can be seen somewhat schematically – German Idealism being a 4 Aesthetics and subjectivity far more complex phenomenon than is often

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
Kant
Andrew Bowie

beauty to natural teleology, the purposiveness of individual organisms and the possible purposiveness of nature as a whole. In doing so, however, it threatens to undermine essential tenets of the first two Critiques. The third Critique is not least significant because of the ways in which it informs subsequent attempts in German Idealism to integrate Kant’s philosophy into an overall system, some of which give a major role to aesthetics. The CJ has, furthermore, become increasingly important in contemporary discussions of Kant’s work, appealing on the one hand to those

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
Open Access (free)
The beginning of aesthetic theory and the end of art
Andrew Bowie

between those who still pursue his grand aims by trying to show how he offers a systematic answer to the major problems of modern philosophy, and those, like Robert Brandom and John McDowell, who are now mobilising his arguments in order to escape from some of the epistemological impasses in the analytical tradition. Most histories of German Idealism see Hegel as making the vital steps towards a complete systematic philosophy which goes beyond the limitations of Fichte and Schelling (for example, Kroner 1924). More recently it has been precisely this aim of completeness

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
Open Access (free)
An epilogue
Saurabh Dube

innocence and idea, the space and time, of India. 17 Emergences These mid-twentieth-century modernists had arguably anticipated the unraveling of the South Asian nations from the 1960s onwards. If in Pakistan such undoing entailed the central place of authoritarian governments and military regimes, in India the idealism of the past was replaced by a manipulative politics, cynical

in Subjects of modernity
Open Access (free)
Andrew Bowie

version of the tension between the new mythology and aesthetic autonomy which emerged with Idealism and Romanticism. The tension between the desire for Conclusion 321 art to facilitate new versions of existing forms of communication, and the idea that modernity leads to the need to find forms of articulation that circumvent the dominant modes of human exchange in the name of radically new possibilities is a perennial aspect of modern culture. Decisions on the significance of these positions and practices will only be of value if they contextualise the issues

in Aesthetics and subjectivity