Academic Illusions in the Field of Letters and the Arts: A Survey, a Criticism, a New Approach, and a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Study of Letters and Arts

By Martin Schütze | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
A SURVEY OF CONTEMPORARY
GERMAN THEORIES

The principal metaphysical theories dominating the academic study of literature in Germany and affecting, though to a limited extent, Germanistic and modern language study generally in America also, are designated most commonly as "science of literature," "history of the mind," or "Geisteswissenschaft," "science of the mind" or "Geistesgeschichte," "neo-romanticism," and "neo-Kantianism." The aim of the present chapter is not to make a complete compilation of all the theories and their particular applications, but to seek out and formulate those terms only in which their fundamental and crucial premises and assumptions reside. By centering attention upon these premises and thus limiting both our survey and our criticisms to the substantive elements of those theories, we may hope to find a desirable degree of clarity and simplicity in a subject noted for unnecessary and exasperating complexity and abstruseness, and to avoid the endless and barren vociferation of petty disputes. Once the fundamental premises have been brought to light, it should be a comparatively simple task to form fairly reasonable and communicable judgments concerning the extent, the degree, and the sort of validity to which the current theories may be entitled in a community of thought not pulled hither and thither by school passion and partisanship.

The prevalent academic theories of literature have

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