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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 interest in aesthetics in philosophy, literary and cultural studies is growing rapidly. This book contains exemplary essays by key practitioners in these fields which demonstrate the importance of this area of enquiry. New aestheticism remains a troubled term and in current parlance it already comes loaded with the baggage of the 'philistine controversy' which first emerged in an exchange that originally that took place in the New Left Review during the mid-1990s. A serious aesthetic education is necessary for resisting the advance of 'philistinism'. Contemporary aesthetic production may be decentred and belonging to the past, but that is not a reason to underestimate what great works do that nothing else can. Despite well-established feminist work in literary criticism, film theory and art history, feminist aesthetics 'is a relatively young discipline, dating from the early 1990s'. The book focuses on the critical interrogation of the historical status of mimesis in the context of a gendered and racial politics of modernity. Throughout the history of literary and art criticism the focus has fallen on the creation or reception of works and texts. The book also identifies a fragmentary Romantic residue in contemporary aesthetics. The Alexandrian aesthetic underlies the experience of the 'allegorical'. 'Cultural poetics' makes clear the expansion of 'poetics' into a domain that is no longer strictly associated with 'poetry'. The book also presents an account of a Kantian aesthetic criticism, discussing Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Aesthetic Judgement and Critique of Judgement.

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
David Lloyd’s work

is that ‘the terms developed for aesthetic culture in the late 18th century, as constituting the definition of human identity, continue to regulate racial formations through the various sites of contemporary practice’ (pp. 63–4). Lloyd situates Kant’s formulation of aesthetic culture in the Critique of Judgement, and particularly his discussion of concepts of ‘common taste’ and ‘the public sphere’, as formative of Western racism.2 Lloyd states that his ‘formal analysis of the ideological Subject’ is a necessary complement of ‘material histories of the specific

in Postcolonial contraventions
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An introduction

truth and justice is opened. Between epistemology and ethics, Kant draws a division that cannot be crossed. By arguing that knowledge is bound by the ‘limits of experience’ which cannot be exceeded without falling prey to antinomy, he makes room for a separate ethical realm in which human freedom rests upon a ‘categorical imperative’ that is not reducible to knowledge because it is not generated by experience. The third critique, the Critique of Judgement in which Kant discusses aesthetics and natural teleology, sets out explicitly to form a bridge between

in The new aestheticism

possible to read the emergence of the critique of enlightened modernity, since the fragmentation of reason that the categorial separation reveals may be seen to mirror the fragmentation of modernity itself. This establishes a line of critical thought that we might for convenience’s sake call Hegelian. From this recognition of the failure of Kant’s move in the Critique of Judgement, and its consequences for the idea of the autonomous artwork in modernity, Bernstein puts forward his notion of ‘aesthetic alienation’.22 In this alienated form, aesthetics suffers mourning for

in The new aestheticism
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Hamlet, adaptation and the work of following

an acategorical category is provided by Kant’s Critique of Judgement, which also of course in some part itself sets the agenda of modern aesthetics. Kant locates some helpful distinctions which serve to clarify several of the points we have touched on so far. Firstly, in the course of his conceptualisation of genius, Kant confirms that the ‘product of genius’ could be said to evade definitional procedure insofar as it is without antecedent. [G]enius (1) is a talent for producing that for which no definite rule can be given: and not an aptitude in the way of

in The new aestheticism

transcendental aesthetic explicates the a priori conditions of sensibility, the second critique provides us with reasons for thinking that there are pure feelings and the third critique details the relationship between pleasure and displeasure and necessity. All three forms of ‘aesthetic’ therefore reveal the non-sensuous grounds of sensuousness. The unity of the third critique The Critique of Judgement is concerned to describe the relationship between the general structures of law outlined in the first critique as the basis of a nature in general and the laws that

in The new aestheticism
Open Access (free)
A short essay on enthusia

enthusiasm as a secular mode of knowledge; that it might be possible to think of the state of mind described as enthusiasm outside of a religious framework, and so to reconsider the claims to insight or acquaintance that it made. It required Kant to make that next move. What Hume’s essay points towards, even so, is an idea of knowledge unmediated by ‘forms, ceremonies and traditions’, an idea of knowledge, as it were, untroubled by bureaucracy. Kant valued enthusiasm. It can look as if he doesn’t when he discusses the idea in The Critique of Judgement, enthusiasm being

in Enthusiast!
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Henry David Thoreau

situating himself, for all his distance, in the mainstreams of Enlightenment and Romantic thought. Thus, if the problem that Kant calls forth is the unknowability of the thing- in-itself, and if that unknowability is a function of mind’s conditioned relation to the world — if reason, like money, alienates things — it’s as well, as Kant does, to take a look at what reason was brought forward to displace. To return, then, to the Critique of Judgement. Sounding: Henry David Thoreau 45 The idea of the good to which affection is superadded is enthusiasm. This state of mind

in Enthusiast!