Nietzsche and Schiller: Untimely Aesthetics

By Nicholas Martin | Go to book overview

5
THE AESTHETIC PROCESS

The two texts present very different understandings of the aesthetic process. In this context the aesthetic process is taken to mean the interconnected elements of artistic creation, the aesthetic object (both as artefact and as an object of appreciation), and aesthetic response. Both Nietzsche and Schiller make the investigation and elucidation of this process the bedrock of their claims for the educative and regenerative power of art. This chapter has two aims. The first is to show that Nietzsche and Schiller share common aesthetic ground; the second is to demonstrate that the similarity of the problems they encounter can be traced to the metaphysical and psychological assumptions which underpin their respective conceptions of the aesthetic process. Each writer works with a very specific conception of man's metaphysical and psychological make-up, and while these conceptions are by no means identical, they shape the two accounts of the aesthetic process and its regenerative potential as well as giving rise to remarkably similar problems. If these foundational premisses are invalid, then the projected reform programmes based upon them must collapse. However, and this is a separate issue, many of the ideas put forward by Schiller and Nietzsche concerning the aesthetic process, whether from the point of view of the creative artist or from that of the subject of aesthetic experience, can be understood and appreciated without accepting the more questionable metaphysical and psychological tenets on which those ideas are based. Consequently, the texts represent interesting and profoundly influential contributions to aesthetic theory in their own right.

The two writers' goals are essentially the same, as Nietzsche pointed out: 'Ziel: das Schillersche, bedeutend erhoben: Erziehung durch die Kunst, aus dem germanischen Wesen abgeleitet' (N 1870-1: IIIiii 119 5[82]). We should take note of this significant remark, for it underlines their agreement over the ultimate ends of art. But if we analyse what it is they

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