The Life and Works of Friedrich Schiller

By Calvin Thomas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
Aesthetic Writings

Es ist gewisz von keinem Sterblichen kein gröszeres Wort gesprochen als dieses Kantische, was zugleich der Inhalt seiner ganzen Philosophie ist: Bestimme dich aus dir selbst.

Letter of 1793.

FROM a quotation in the preceding chapter we have seen what Schiller hoped for when he resolved to grapple with the Kantian philosophy. He was in pursuit of that which would help him as a poet. He felt that a little philosophy had done him harm by quenching his inner fire and destroying his artistic spontaneity. The rules were continually coming between him and his creative impulses. His hope was that more philosophy would repair the damage by making the principles of art so clear and so familiar that they would become as second nature, and therefore cease to be felt as a clog or an interference.

This expectation, looking at the matter a priori, was reasonable enough. Looking at it retrospectively, Goethe came to the conclusion, as is well known, that Schiller's philosophic bent had injured his poetry by teaching him to 'regard the idea as higher than all nature'. Goethe thought it 'depressing to see how such an extraordinarily gifted man had tormented himself with philosophic modes of thought that could be

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