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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: July 2011

15 - Aesthetics and politics

from III - Modern liberty and its critics
Summary
The history of aesthetics provides a vantage point for observing the movements of modern subjectivity. As the Enlightenment view of the modern subject increasingly permeates all fields of culture, it shatters the neo-classical restraints which are themselves an aspect of Enlightenment thought. An aesthetic revolution is launched, giving rise to the varieties of romanticism and to new forms of idealism. This revolution in culture is open to many political applications. The problem of binding spontaneity under self-imposed law is one that spans European culture, even where Kant's influence is not directly felt. Friedrich Schiller broadens Kant's account of autonomy, and recasts spontaneity as self-formation. Revivals of classicism in the late nineteenth century offer distinct perspectives on the modern project of emancipation. The late nineteenth-century awareness of decadence reflects a definition of modernity, as an overarching standpoint that makes all past historical experience available for reflection and appropriation.
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The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Political Thought
  • Online ISBN: 9780511973581
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521430562
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