Aesthetics and Subjectivity From Kant to Nietzsche by Andrew Bowie

By Andrew Bowie

New, thoroughly revised and re-written variation. bargains a close, yet asccesible account of the very important German philosophical culture of puzzling over paintings and the self. seems at fresh old examine and modern arguments in philosophy and thought within the humanities, following the trail of German philosophy from Kant, through Fichte and Hölderlin, the early Romantics, Schelling, Hegel, Schleiermacher, to Nietzsche.

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Neither do we know how it connects to nature as an object of cognition. The tendency in the Enlightenment is to see ourselves as the potential ‘lord and master of nature’, thereby ignoring the question of what, so to speak, nature might ‘think’ of this. Given our own inability, for Kant, to give a definitive account of what our thinking is, beyond its being a capacity for synthesis, and given that thinking itself relies on natural processes (while not being reducible to them), this is not a mystical question.

Despite his repeated insistence upon the subjective basis of aesthetic pleasure Kant himself returns on occasion to the idea that nature may give an indication that ‘it contains in itself some basis, a law-bound correspondence of its products to our pleasure which is independent of all interest’ (CJ B p. 169, A p. 167), and he talks of a ‘code through which nature talks to us figuratively in its beautiful forms’ (B p. 170, A p. 168). Given our own status as part of nature, the idea of a deeper harmony between ourselves and nature is tempting, especially as Kant sees the fact of agreement over judgements of taste as testifying to the possibility of the sensus communis.

Here a further vital dimension of the notion of ‘feeling’ becomes apparent. As Anthony Cascardi suggests in relation to the CJ: ‘Feeling nonetheless remains cognitive in a deeper sense [than in the sense of ‘cognitive’ involved in the correspondence theory of truth as correct representation of the pre-existing object]; affect possesses what Heidegger would describe . . as “world-disclosive” power’ (Cascardi 1999 pp. 50–1). Critiques of metaphysics based on the rejection of the idea of language and concepts as primarily or inherently representational, which lead from their roots in the Romantic reactions to Kant, to Nietzsche, and to post-structuralism, are therefore importantly linked – despite the antagonism of many of those theories to role of the subject in modern philosophy – both to the ‘feeling’ of the subject and to the development of music and ideas about music towards the end of the eighteenth century.

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