The German Aesthetic Tradition
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This is the only available systematic critical overview of German aesthetics from 1750 to the present. The book begins with the work of Baumgarten and covers all the major writers on German aesthetics that follow: Kant, Schiller, Schelling, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer and Adorno. It offers a clear and non-technical exposition of ideas, placing these in a wider philosophical context where necessary. Interest in this book extends far beyond the discipline of philosophy to those of literary studies, fine art and music.
Kierkegaard developed his thought in opposition to the tradition of German idealism, primarily the objective idealism of G. W. F. Hegel. Much of what Kierkegaard writes Preface xi is directed against the systematic philosophy of the eminent Berlin thinker. This holds true as well for his aesthetics: Kierkegaard’s conception of this philosophical discipline is a direct challenge to Hegel’s position. Without Kierkegaard’s speciﬁc contribution to aesthetics that later becomes important to
not subjective at all but in that it depends on a concept of the good, and that this concept must hold true, not only for myself but for everyone. The cognition of the good, however, brings in its wake the Kant 29 interest in its existence, because we cannot think of something as good without wanting it to exist. The only kind of pleasure that does not take an interest in the existence of its object is therefore the aesthetic pleasure – a concept that occurs for the ﬁrst time in the aesthetic
philosophy have the same content, namely, the truth of the absolute spirit, yet their form is obviously distinct. Hegel proceeds to argue that a dialectical relationship governs the movement of truth, from art as the thesis and religion as the antithesis to philosophy as the synthesis, which leads him to the violently disputed claim that art has been overcome by both of the other manifestations of the absolute spirit. We will refer back to this statement later; for the moment, it sufﬁces to point
as object among objects and thus as representation, but that also grants us immediate access to the will: “Every act of the will is immediately and necessarily also a movement of the body” (WWR, 164). Hence, Schopenhauer calls the body “the will that became visible” (WWR, 173), and he deduces from this individual access to the determining principle of empirical reality that all objects are driven by the same force, that is, that the thing-in-itself is not unknowable after all but must be the
the world as it is expressed in that ironic attitude that Kierkegaard criticized so vehemently in his dissertation. Aesthetic freedom is always purchased at the cost of loneliness. And worse, the aesthetic existence is by necessity disrespectful, because no other being can be granted its own right that would set limits to the freedom of self-creation of the aesthete: “Aesthetic freedom precludes respect, for respect obliges.”8 In respect to their temporal implications, Kierkegaard’s two