Dialectic of Love

Dialectic of Love: Platonism in Schiller's Aesthetics

David Pugh
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 456
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  • Book Info
    Dialectic of Love
    Book Description:

    Dialectic of Love analyses the arguments of Schiller's major writings on aesthetics and argues that his philosophical thought, theories, and concepts are characteristic of the Platonic tradition. Schiller's conception of beauty is seen as synthesis, the sublime as separation. Pugh connects these concepts to Aristotle's critique of Plato's theory of ideas, in which Aristotle points out an aporia of chorismos (separation) and methexis (participation). In Schiller's thought, Pugh argues, beauty and the sublime operate primarily as metaphysical relations of methexis and chorismos and only secondarily as aesthetic concepts.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6414-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Note on Translations
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-2)
  7. I Introduction
    (pp. 3-38)

    In the opening lines of his greatest philosophical poem, Schiller establishes a sharp antithesis between an unchanging realm of divine purity and a lower world of transience and decay:

    Ewigklar und spiegelrein und eben

    FlieBt das zephirleichte Leben

    Im Olymp den Seligen dahin.

    Monde wechseln und Geschlechter fliehen,

    Ihrer Götterjugend Rosen blühen

    Wandellos im ewigen Ruin.

    (“Das Ideal und das Leben,” lines 1-6)¹

    The world of change referred to in the fourth line is soon identified as the material world that is the human habitat and in which we are entrapped by our corporeality: “Nur der Körper eignet jenen Mächten,...

  8. II Mythological Transformations
    (pp. 39-66)

    The importance of the myth of Hercules in Schiller’s poem “Das Ideal und das Leben” has been clear to scholars for some time, particularly since Gerhard Kaiser’s controversial study “Vergötterung und Tod.” The implications of Schiller’s combination of the two versions, the didactic tale of Hercules at the crossroads and the legend of his deification, have not been fully appreciated, however. The sense of the crossroads is that we have to choose between virtue and vice; in Christian terms, between happiness in this world (“Sinnengluck”) and in the next (“Seelenfrieden”). But the poem goes on to tell us how aesthetic...

  9. III Logic and Metaphysics
    (pp. 67-100)

    The peculiarly complex and problematic logical pattern in Schiller’s later thought, revealed in chapter 2, reflects his struggles with the doctrines and dilemmas that he inherited from the Platonic tradition. The implications of the logical problem lead to the field of metaphysics, and from there into anthropology and aesthetics, where parallel problems are generated by the logical one.

    Surveying the ideas of his precursors in the first book of hisMetaphysics, Aristotle cites as Socrates’ contribution to philosophy the turn from physical to ethical questions and the search for the universal by means of definitions. Plato’s divergence from his teacher...

  10. IV Schiller, Kant, and Plato
    (pp. 101-131)

    Schiller’s relation to Kant, involving, as it does, indeterminate proportions of acceptance and rejection, of understanding and confusion, has been treated by numerous scholars of both philosophy and literature, and could be described without much exaggeration as one of the central cruces of the discipline ofGermanistik. In a culture that has traditionally placed a high value on philosophy and its power to illuminate literary questions, the spectacle of a great poet subjecting his feelings and visions to the test of the most advanced philosophical system available to him has proved endlessly fascinating to scholars and critics.¹ The fact that...

  11. V Ideals and Illusions
    (pp. 132-167)

    Schiller generally thinks of the synthesis of beauty and sublimity as giving rise to an “Ideal” which, like his other key concepts, transcends the narrower sphere of aesthetics. In the sixteenthÄsthetischer Brief, for example, he plainly sets out the correspondence, always implicit, between his doctrine of beauty and his doctrine of man, tying them together by means of a somewhat mechanistic “Wirkungsästhetik”: “Ich werde die Wirkungen der schmelzenden Schönheit an dem angespannten Menschen und die Wirkungen der energischen an dem abgespannten prüfen, um zuletzt beide entgegengesetzte Arten der Schönheit in der Einheit des Ideal-Schönen auszulöschen, so wie jene zwei...

  12. VI The Departure of Venus: “Die Götter Griechenlandes”
    (pp. 168-204)

    In December 1787, Schiller left Weimar, where he had taken up residence six months before, to pay a visit to his former friend and patroness, Henriette von Wolzogen, in Bauerbach, near Meiningen. Frau von Wolzogen, the mother of two boys whom Schiller had known at the ducal academy in Stuttgart, had helped him out of some difficulties in Mannheim by allowing him to live on her Bauerbach estate for some months in 1782-83. She had pressed him to visit her again, now that he was living nearby, and he obliged by spending twelve days with her, being led, as he...

  13. VII New Solutions: “Die Künstler”
    (pp. 205-238)

    Few people would claim that “Die Künstler” is a successful poem. Schiller used a style of exalted celebration to convey a rather intricate theory of cultural history, and this was to exceed what the hymnic mode could reasonably be expected to express. It is simply not feasible to sustain the reader’s enthusiasm for 481 lines. The poem thus lacks the contrasts and the polemics that were so effective in “Die Götter Griechenlandes,” and this leads, not merely to the extreme looseness of form, but also to an uncertainty of touch in the tone and the imagery. When the metaphors are...

  14. VIII Beauty and Goodness: Über Anmut und Würde
    (pp. 239-286)

    Schiller’s three great treatises of the 1790s share two structural features. These are (1) the invocation, in their early pages, of Greek civilization as the historical exemplar of realizedmethexis, and (2) their concluding postulation of a synthesis of beauty and sublimity, the latter incorporating the contrary principle ofchorismos, as the ideal equivalent of that Greek synthesis under modern conditions.

    As in “Die Götter Griechenlandes,” Greece is “die schöne Welt,” and the concrete expression for what love and enthusiasm had meant to Schiller in the “Theosophie des Julius” and the related works of the 1780s. Rather than an attempt...

  15. IX The Rational and the Aesthetic State: Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen
    (pp. 287-366)

    Schiller’sÜber die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefenis a long and exceptionally complicated text, and it cannot be my task here to give an exhaustive analysis of it. Indeed, the following chapter contains both more and less than a complete account of the text that Schiller published in his journalDie Horenin 1795. Less, because a full account would, like the influential edition by E. M. Wilkinson and L. A. Willoughby, require a lengthy introduction and a detailed textual commentary, providing by itself sufficient material for a bulky volume. More, because by placing the...

  16. X Poetry and the Ideal: Über Naive und Sentimentalische Dichtung
    (pp. 367-405)

    In his treatise “On the Intellectual Beauty” (ENN5.8.1), Plotinus, who is here defending the arts from Plato’s strictures in book 10 of theRepublic, gives a famous statement of the idealistic theory of art:

    Still the arts are not to be slighted on the ground that they create by imitation of natural objects; for, to begin with, these natural objects are themselves imitations; then, we must recognize that they give no bare reproduction of the thing seen but go back to the Reason-Principles from which Nature itself derives, and, furthermore, that much of their work is all their own;...

  17. XI Conclusion
    (pp. 406-414)

    In chapter 1 I divided the topic of this book into four general areas of concern: (1) the intrinsic character of Schiller’s aesthetic treatises as philosophical texts; (2) Schiller’s poetic and philosophical development that led to the creation of these texts; (3) the relation of the treatises to the Platonic tradition; and (4) the meaning of the texts in relation to the intellectual environment of Schiller’s own day. I should conclude now with some final reflections on each of these four headings.

    (1) The analysis of the texts has revealed a fairly high degree of logical confusion and inconsistency. In...

  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 415-426)
  19. Index
    (pp. 427-432)