Aesthetics and Modernity from Schiller to the Frankfurt School
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The essays in this book investigate the complex and often contradictory relationships between aesthetics and modernity from the late Enlightenment in the 1790s to the Frankfurt School in the 1960s and engage with the classic German tradition of socio-cultural and aesthetic theory that extends from Friedrich Schiller to Theodor W. Adorno. While contemporary discussions in aesthetics are often dominated by abstract philosophical approaches, this book embeds aesthetic theory in broader social and cultural contexts and considers a wide range of artistic practices in literature, drama, music and visual arts. Contributions include research on Schiller’s writings and his work in relation to moral sentimentalism, Romantic aesthetics, Friedrich Schlegel, Beethoven, Huizinga and Greenberg; philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Benjamin, Heidegger and Adorno; and thematic approaches to Darwinism and Naturalism, modern tragedy, postmodern realism and philosophical anthropology from the eighteenth century to the present day. This book is based on papers given at an international symposium held under the auspices of the University of Nottingham at the Institute of German and Romance Studies, London, in September 2009.
absorbs the non-ego is decidedly similar to the way in which Schlegel’s evolving universal poetry gradually absorbs all historical phenomena of poetry. And, it should be added as an ironic footnote, that Schlegel himself seems at one point to suggest that human mental activity sprang from one unique and unitary origin. In the ‘Rede über die Mythologie’, the most Idealist of the sections in the Athenäum, he asserts that ‘weder dieser Witz [der alt-romantischen Poesie] noch eine Mythologie können
centrality of case from the aesthetic – and not merely psychological, epistemological, or legal – point of view, we begin at the end, with the Aesthetic Letters, and work backwards. We can, using the basis provided by Beiser’s reading of the Aesthetic Letters, make the case that the fourth letter is essentially an attempt to recapture the individuality of the individual. It states that every individual person harbors the ideal human being within them, the absolute unity of form and material;
positing the I precisely in the face of the ever-shifting demands of reality. This, we might say, is the ‘healthy’ or ‘normal’ response to the challenge of existence; if one does not ascend to the level of actively forming time and reality, one remains simply a part of the world, passive material to be 17 ‘Aller Zustand aber, alles bestimmte Dasein entsteht in der Zeit, und so muss also der Mensch, als Phänomen, einen Anfang nehmen, obgleich die reine Intelligenz in ihm ewig ist. Ohne die
formal drive (Formtrieb) and the material drive (Stof ftrieb), he postulates a freedom that is based on the ‘mixed nature’17 of humanity. In the fifteenth letter of his Aesthetic Education, Schiller describes what happens when the formal and material drives are simultaneously active: The material drive, like the formal drive, is wholly earnest in its demands; for, in the sphere of knowledge, the former is concerned with the reality, the latter with the necessity of things; while in the sphere
Conclusions Both Huizinga and Schiller use the concept of play within a triad: beauty, play and freedom are closely connected in both concepts of play. In terms of the aesthetics of production, the form that is made possible by the experience of order and harmony (seen in contrast to the chaos of life)26 leads in terms of aesthetics of ef fect to a state of disinterest and activity27 and of ‘lofty equanimity and freedom of the spirit, combined with power and vigour.’28 Both authors characterize