Aesthetics and modernity
In recent years it has become apparent that many questions which ﬁrst became
manifest during the emergence of philosophical aesthetics at the end of the
eighteenth century play a decisive role both in mainstream philosophy and in
literarytheory. The critiques of the idea that the world is ‘ready-made’ by
Hilary Putnam and other pragmatically oriented thinkers, the concomitant
attention by Nelson Goodman, Richard Rorty and others to the ‘world-making’
aspects of language, the related moves in the philosophy of language on
What does race have to do with the Yugoslav region?
as a region) not as analytics for separate parts of the world but as descriptions of two twentieth-century world-historical transformations which both had global reach. Sharad Chari and Katherine Verdery, a geographer of capitalism and an anthropologist of postsocialism, respectively, termed this agenda ‘thinking between the posts’, urging scholars not to divide the globe into one sphere defined by the end of empire and another defined by the end of the Cold War; their 2009 article epitomised efforts in literarytheory, social/cultural history and gender studies
Despite these diﬃculties, Benjamin’s account of endless reﬂection can be
productively linked to both a theory of the work of art and a theory of language
which point forward to many of the issues of contemporary literarytheory.
Benjamin’s account comes close to Schelling’s contention that artworks can be
endlessly interpreted ‘as if they contained an inﬁnity of intentions, whereby one
can never say whether this inﬁnity lay in the artist himself or just in the work of
art’ (Schelling I/3 p. 620). The similarity is a result of the fact that in both artworks are
contemporary literarytheory, in which the boundaries between linguistic communities become
uncrossable. One of the most productive aspects of Schleiermacher’s work is its
rejection of naive versions of relativism and its insistence on truth and objectivity. At the same time, he gives full weight to the fact that the problems involved
both in communication within languages and translation between them deeply
aﬀect the nature of the philosophical enterprise, rendering it inherently impossible to complete in the manner demanded by traditional metaphysics.
Although he is
However, like so many of his contemporaries, he did not regard the boundaries
between forms of theoretical and creative activity as ﬁxed, and his philosophy
is an integral part of a wider project which includes scientiﬁc and literary work.
One of the main reasons why Novalis has become the focus of recent attention
is that he asks questions about subjectivity which already involve issues relating
to the ‘subversion of the subject’ which has become the theme of so much recent
theoretical discussion. Claims in certain areas of contemporary European philosophy and literary