The Founding of Aesthetics in the German Enlightenment: The Art of Invention and the Invention of Art
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When, in 1735, Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten added a new discipline to the philosophical system, he not only founded modern aesthetics but also contributed to shaping the modern concept of art or 'fine art'. In The Founding of Aesthetics in the German Enlightenment, Stefanie Buchenau offers a rich analysis and reconstruction of the origins of this new discipline in its wider context of German Enlightenment philosophy. Present-day scholars commonly regard Baumgarten's views as an imperfect prefiguration of Kantian and post-Kantian aesthetics, but Buchenau argues that Baumgarten defended a consistent and original project which must be viewed in the context of the modern debate on the art of invention. Her book offers new perspectives on Kantian aesthetics and beauty in art and science.
burying the Cartesian mathesis project, Wolff does nevertheless return to the original modern project. His ars inveniendi marks the return to Bacon’s postulate: progress in the arts and crafts cannot be left to the artisans who establish specific techniques for specific arts, but 101 Ibid., pp. 322f. 102 For the definition of the types of knowledge, see Wolff, ‘Preliminary Discourse’, Chapter 1, and for the function of mathematical knowledge in particular §28. 103 Wolff, Psychologia
notes that: ‘we are not concerned here with what is usually done but rather with what ought to be done.’108 Wolff clearly no longer conceives of the philosopher as the artisan’s patron but rather recognizes that the philosopher must in turn take instruction from the artisan. Not only can the artisan provide him with facts for classification but he may even prove more inventive than the philosopher, on account of his natural talent for, and/or a habit of, handling certain objects, both of which
perception of resemblance cannot be the result of discursive reasoning; it must be immediate and depend on discernment. As Wolff puts it, the first impulse to invent – that is to say, the fact that certain truths occur to us49 – comes from sensation.50 The quality of the sensation in turn correlates to a certain position of the body in the physical world. From the perspective of the physiologist, the art of invention corresponds to the excitation of the brain by material ideas. Wit is
order of thoughts ‘that the inventor has followed or could have followed’ in the process of inventing and, by so doing, provides the rules that indicate the order in which the actions of the soul must follow each other so that our thought is able to encounter the truth that it seeks.16 Such an art allows for the acquisition of the ability to apply these rules swiftly.17 It permits the reader to reinvent and thereby cultivate his own ingenium. The systematic literary criticism emerging in the
so, liquidates other elements from rhetoric. Ramus sets an end to the search for facility in expression, amplification, and decorum, and he reduces the four parts of oration (exordium, narratio, confirmatio, peroratio) to examples of the second step in judgment. See Walter Jackson Ong, Ramus, Method and the Decay of Dialogue, from the Art of Discourse to the Art of Reason, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958, p. 210. 23 See Chaim Perelman, The Realm of Rhetoric, trans. W. Kluback,