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Kant

who wish to question the perception of Kant’s enterprise as merely an exercise in legitimating the natural sciences, and on the other to those who see the need to extend the scope of epistemology if it is not to founder on the problems that become apparent in the first two Critiques. Dieter Henrich regards the crux of Kant’s epistemology as the justification of ‘forms of cognition from the form and nature of self-consciousness’ (Henrich 1982 p. 176). The philosophical problem is therefore how the form and nature of self-consciousness are to be described. Descartes had

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Art and interpretation

sensuous and the conceptual, the receptive and the spontaneous cannot be strictly upheld. Hamann maintains in his own inimitable manner that our need for language means that a notion of philosophy based on a priori forms of cognition lacks a decisive dimension. His argument is worth quoting at length, because its baroque form is also part of its content: So another main question remains: how the capacity of thinking is possible? – The capacity to think right and left, before and without, with and beyond experience? One needs no deduction to prove the genealogical

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
Fichte, Hölderlin and Novalis

Descartes the I had played this foundational role, and Fichte begins with the need to establish a Cartesian foundation in a more decisive way than Kant had been able to in his demonstration of the necessary role in cognition of the synthetic unity of apperception. Kant’s problem, Fichte believes, was that he had tried to see the I as a fact, a ‘Tatsache’, literally a ‘deed-thing’, which suggests it has the same status as any other fact. For Fichte the I must be an action, a ‘Tathandlung’, literally a ‘deed-action’, a word he concocts to try to express the idea that the

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Art as the ‘organ of philosophy’

be known under the conditions inherent in the I, what right does one have to suggest we have access to nature in itself? The essential idea of Schelling’s Naturphilosophie is that, in the same way as the I of self-consciousness is both active and yet can try to reflect upon itself as an object, nature is both actively ‘productive’ (in the sense of Spinoza’s natura naturans) and is made up of objective ‘products’ (natura naturata). The understanding deals with transient ‘products’ and is consequently confined within the limits of determinate cognition

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have just seen, if one is to be able to designate oneself with the signifier I, one cannot rely solely on the shared, general structure of Geist manifested in language. Friedrich Schlegel’s claims about the relationship between music and feeling cited in Chapter 1 show one way of connecting this issue to music: Now if feeling is the root of all consciousness, then the direction of language [towards cognition] has the essential deficit that it does not grasp and comprehend feeling deeply enough, only touches its surface . . . However large the riches language offers us

in Aesthetics and subjectivity

from Kant’s notion that aesthetic contemplation is a pleasure free of appropriative interest. In order to reinforce the idea that this pleasure is not based upon the continually renewed need to overcome dissatisfaction, Schopenhauer combines Kant’s notion with a Platonist metaphysics. Both the thing in itself and the Platonic Idea testify for 264 Aesthetics and subjectivity Schopenhauer to the limitations of the time-bound phenomenal world. We can only transcend these limitations by separating our cognition from its motivation by the Will. To do this one must lose

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The beginning of aesthetic theory and the end of art

shows the often remarkable interconnectedness of apparently disparate phenomena. The development of Western harmonic thinking makes considerable sense in terms of music’s increasing ability to incorporate contradiction into itself, though the advent of atonal music makes the matter more complex. However, such theoretical descriptions cannot deal with the relation of music to the dimension which Anthony Cascardi sees as decisive in Kantian aesthetics, namely its attention to ‘the specific element in subjectivity that is “incapable of becoming an element of cognition

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. Indeed the imagination can be understood as what makes being intelligible, instead of remaining opaquely enclosed within itself.5 The structure of seeing something as something which is made possible by what Kant explains in terms of schematism need not result in determinate cognition, as the ability to create metaphors – new ways of ‘seeing as’ – suggests. In this respect what the imagination produces seems to span both art and science. Taken a step further, nature’s own productivity might seem not be essentially different from our own production of forms of coherence

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if it is no longer possible to regard art as the essential key to interpreting largescale aspects of history and society which are obscured by dominant forms of cognition and technical control. One of the most important Romantic ideas resulting from the idea that the absolute is not accessible to reflection was that there should be an interplay of cognitive, ethical and aesthetic modes of articulation. The implications of this idea are well conveyed in Cavell’s claim that knowing things is not the only way of relating to them. The inaccessibility of the absolute is

in Aesthetics and subjectivity