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Aesthetics and subjectivity

Aesthetics and subjectivity

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Aesthetics and subjectivity
    Book Description:

    New, completely revised and re-written edition. Offers a detailed, but asccesible account of the vital German philosophical tradition of thinking about art and the self. Looks at recent historical research and contemporary arguments in philosophy and theory in the humanities, following the path of German philosophy from Kant, via Ficthe and Holderlin, the early Romantis, Schelling, Hegel, Scleimacher, to Nietzsche. Develops the approaches to subjectivity, aesthetics, music and language in relation to new theoretical developments bridging the divide between the continental and analytical traditions of philosophy. The huge growth of interest in German philosophy as a resource for re-thinking both literary and cultural theory, and contemporary philosophy will make this an indispensible read.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-033-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. 1-15)

    In recent years it has become apparent that many questions which first became manifest during the emergence of philosophical aesthetics at the end of the eighteenth century play a decisive role both in mainstream philosophy and in literary theory. The critiques of the idea that the world is ‘ready-made’ by Hilary Putnam and other pragmatically oriented thinkers, the concomitant attention by Nelson Goodman, Richard Rorty and others to the ‘world-making’ aspects of language, the related moves in the philosophy of language on the part of Donald Davidson and others towards holistic accounts of meaning, and the orientation in post-structuralism towards...

  5. 1 Modern philosophy and the emergence of aesthetic theory: Kant
    (pp. 16-48)

    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’, theCritique of Judgement(CJ) (1790), forms part of his response to unresolved questions which emerge from hisCritique of Pure Reason(CPR) (1781) andCritique of Practical Reason(1787).¹ In order to understand the significance of theCJone needs therefore to begin by looking at the first two Kantian Critiques.² The essential problem they entail, which formed the focus of reactions to Kant’s work at...

  6. 2 German Idealism and early German Romanticism
    (pp. 49-68)

    The immediate consequences from the 1790s onwards of the perceived failure of Kant’s attempt to ground philosophy in the principle of subjectivity are apparent in two areas of philosophy which carry the broad names ‘German Idealism’, which is mainly associated with Fichte, Schelling and Hegel; and ‘early Romanticism’, which is mainly associated with Novalis, Friedrich Schlegel and (in some respects) Friedrich Schleiermacher.¹ There are, as we shall see, crucial respects in which these two currents of thought can be distinguished. It would, though, be mistaken to regard either German Idealism or early Romanticism as unified philosophical schools, which is one...

  7. 3 Reflections on the subject: Fichte, Hölderlin and Novalis
    (pp. 69-101)

    One of the most striking examples of the new concern with the nature of subjectivity in the eighteenth century is Rousseau’s ‘Scène lyrique’,Pygmalion, in which the sculptor’s creation, Galathée, comes to life and touches her creator, saying ‘It’s me.’ Moving away, she touches a marble sculpture and says ‘It’s no longer me. . .’ Finally, touching Pygmalion again, she sighs: ‘Ah! Me once again . . .’, and he exclaims: ‘it is you, you alone, I give you all my being; I shall no longer live except through you’ (Rousseau 1776 pp. 32–4). Such a culmination of the...

  8. 4 Schelling: art as the ‘organ of philosophy’
    (pp. 102-139)

    One of the great issues which divides thinkers in modernity is the status of ‘nature’. If nature can no longer be said to have a theological basis, what determines how we are to understand what nature is? Kant’s ambivalence with regard to ‘nature’ suggest why this issue creates so much controversy. On the one hand, nature ‘in the formal sense’ is simply that which functions in terms of necessary laws, and is therefore the object of natural science; on the other, in the form of organisms and as an object of beauty, nature appears to have purposes which cannot be...

  9. 5 Hegel: the beginning of aesthetic theory and the end of art
    (pp. 140-182)

    Hegel’s work has come in recent years to exemplify many of the choices facing contemporary philosophy. The changed status of Hegel can, though, seem rather odd, given the labyrinthine nature of his texts, the huge divergences between his interpreters from his own time until today, and the fact that some of the philosophers who now invoke him come from an analytical tradition noted for its insistence on a clarity not always encountered in Hegel himself. Even contemporary interpreters range between those who still pursue his grand aims by trying to show how he offers a systematic answer to the major...

  10. 6 Schleiermacher: art and interpretation
    (pp. 183-220)

    The recent growth of interest in German Idealist and Romantic philosophy has tended to focus on Fichte and Hegel, and, to a lesser extent, on Schelling. However, given the philosophical motivation for the new attention to the thought of this period, it is actually rather strange that its main focus has not been the work of F.D.E. Schleiermacher (1768–1834). The contingent reasons for the neglect of Schleiermacher are, admittedly, quite simple. Schleiermacher’s theological work, as the major Protestant theologian of the nineteenth century, has largely determined his reputation, and he did not produce de fi nitive versions of his...

  11. 7 Music, language and literature
    (pp. 221-257)

    The divergent interpretations of the relationship between music and language in modernity are inseparable from the main divergences between philosophical conceptions of language. The attempt to explain language in representational terms in the empiricist tradition that eventually leads to analytical philosophy, and the understanding of language as a form of social action and as constitutive of the world we inhabit in the hermeneutic tradition give rise to very different conceptions of music. One paradigmatic contrast has emerged in the preceding chapters, which can somewhat crudely be summarised as follows. On the one hand, music can be regarded as a deficient...

  12. 8 Nietzsche and the fate of Romantic thought
    (pp. 258-311)

    The alternatives in some of the most controversial debates in recent philosophy often come down to whether what is at issue is in essence a Hegelian, or a Nietzschean position. The differences between Habermas and Rorty, or between the early Derrida and Davidson, for example, can be seen in these terms. These figures are all what Habermas would call ‘post metaphysical’ thinkers. However, despite their renunciation of the idea of a foundational ‘first philosophy’, Habermas and Davidson wish to sustain a universalist conception of rationality; Rorty and Derrida, in contrast, think that such a conception is a residue of a...

    (pp. 312-333)

    The difficulties involved in giving an account of the contemporary significance of the ‘aesthetic tradition’ from Kant to Nietzsche become apparent when one considers phenomena such as the following.¹ It might, for example, seem surprising that many of the thinkers who enthusiastically pursue a post-Nietzschean undermining of the illusions and repressions they associate with ‘Western metaphysics’ still have a considerable investment in art and in philosophical reflection on art. A radically anti-metaphysical view of art is in some respects more congruent with the idea that art itself is now something whose very existence has been put in doubt by various...

    (pp. 334-335)
    (pp. 336-341)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 342-345)