Classic and Romantic German Aesthetics

Classic and Romantic German Aesthetics

Classic and Romantic German Aesthetics

Classic and Romantic German Aesthetics


This volume brings together major works by German thinkers who were extremely influential in the crucial period of aesthetics prior to and after Kant. It includes the first translation into English of Schiller's Kallias Letters and Moritz's on the Artistic Imitation of the Beautiful, and new translations of some of H¿lderlin's most important theoretical writings and works by Hamann, Lessing, Novalis and Schlegel. The volume features an introduction in which J.M. Bernstein places the works in their historical and philosophical context.


… words without spirit, method without inner illumination, figures of speech without feeling…

Moses Mendelssohn

Almost from the moment that modern aesthetics took on a distinctive shape in the middle of the eighteenth century there arose claims that sought to privilege aesthetic reason or experience. In the writings collected in this volume we are offered the possibility of tracing the emergence and fate of this privilege. These writings are remarkably diverse in form, ranging from Lessing's subtle mixing of art theory with art criticism, Hamann's 'rhapsody in cabbalistic prose', the manifesto for a future aesthetic philosophy entitled 'The Oldest Programme for a System of German Idealism', through Schiller's letters to his friend, Körner, Hölderlin's to Hegel, and finally to the strange fragments, neither quite philosophy nor art, of Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel. This diversity in literary form has provided reason for philosophers to keep a cautious distance from these writings, comforting themselves with the more familiar articulations of aesthetic reason found in Kant's Critique of Judgement and Hegel's Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, especially Hegel's

It was Karl Ameriks who seduced me into taking on the project of editing this volume. He has been a good deal more than a commissioning editor; he has been a true collaborator. His advice at every stage along the way has been invaluable. In particular, Stefan Bird-Pollan, I, and the reader all have reason to be grateful for his patient efforts in making the translations new to this volume (the Schiller, Moritz, and Hölderlin) more philosophically accurate and more readable than at first seemed possible.

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