counter create hit On the Aesthetic Education of Man - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

On the Aesthetic Education of Man

Availability: Ready to download

Essential reading. New Society. A classic of eighteenth-century thought, Friedrich Schillers treatise on the role of art in society ranks among German philosophys most profound works. In addition to its importance to the history of ideas, this 1795 essay remains relevant to our own time. Beginning with a political analysis of contemporary society in particular, the French “Essential reading.” — New Society. A classic of eighteenth-century thought, Friedrich Schiller’s treatise on the role of art in society ranks among German philosophy’s most profound works. In addition to its importance to the history of ideas, this 1795 essay remains relevant to our own time. Beginning with a political analysis of contemporary society — in particular, the French Revolution and its failure to implement universal freedom — Schiller observes that people cannot transcend their circumstances without education. He conceives of art as the vehicle of education, one that can liberate individuals from the constraints and excesses of either pure nature or pure mind. Through aesthetic experience, he asserts, people can reconcile the inner antagonism between sense and intellect, nature and reason. Schiller’s proposal of art as fundamental to the development of society and the individual is an enduringly influential concept, and this volume offers his philosophy’s clearest, most vital expression.


Compare
Ads Banner

Essential reading. New Society. A classic of eighteenth-century thought, Friedrich Schillers treatise on the role of art in society ranks among German philosophys most profound works. In addition to its importance to the history of ideas, this 1795 essay remains relevant to our own time. Beginning with a political analysis of contemporary society in particular, the French “Essential reading.” — New Society. A classic of eighteenth-century thought, Friedrich Schiller’s treatise on the role of art in society ranks among German philosophy’s most profound works. In addition to its importance to the history of ideas, this 1795 essay remains relevant to our own time. Beginning with a political analysis of contemporary society — in particular, the French Revolution and its failure to implement universal freedom — Schiller observes that people cannot transcend their circumstances without education. He conceives of art as the vehicle of education, one that can liberate individuals from the constraints and excesses of either pure nature or pure mind. Through aesthetic experience, he asserts, people can reconcile the inner antagonism between sense and intellect, nature and reason. Schiller’s proposal of art as fundamental to the development of society and the individual is an enduringly influential concept, and this volume offers his philosophy’s clearest, most vital expression.

30 review for On the Aesthetic Education of Man

  1. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy addressing beauty, taste, art and the sublime. After studying what philosophers have to say on this topic, it is refreshing to read the philosophical reflections on aesthetics by Friedrich Schiller (1769-1805), a man who was not only a first-rate thinker but a great poet and playwright. And Schiller tells us he is drawing his ideas from his life rather than from books and is pleading the cause of beauty before his very own heart that perceives beauty and Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy addressing beauty, taste, art and the sublime. After studying what philosophers have to say on this topic, it is refreshing to read the philosophical reflections on aesthetics by Friedrich Schiller (1769-1805), a man who was not only a first-rate thinker but a great poet and playwright. And Schiller tells us he is drawing his ideas from his life rather than from books and is pleading the cause of beauty before his very own heart that perceives beauty and exercises beauty's power. Writing at the end of the 18th century, Schiller reflects on the bitter disappointment of the aftermath of the French Revolution where an entire society degenerated into violence. What can be done? As a true romantic, he sees beauty and art coming to the rescue. Schiller writes how idealized human nature and character development is a harmonizing and balancing of polarities - on one side we have the rational, that is, contemplative thought, intelligence and moral constraint and on the other side we have the sensual, feeling, physical reality. Lacking this balance, harmony and character, Schiller perceives widespread disaster for both lower and higher social classes, that is, people of the lower classes living crude, coarse, lawless, brutal lives and people of the higher, civilized classes are even more repugnant, living lethargic, slothful, passive lives. Not a pretty picture, to say the least. We might think scientists or hard working business people might stand a better chance at achieving balance, harmony and character. Sorry; the news is not good here either. Schiller writes, "But the predominance of the analytical faculty must necessarily deprive the fancy of its strength and its fire, and a restricted sphere of objects must diminish its wealth. Hence the abstract thinker very often has a cold heart, since he analyzes the impressions which really affect the soul only as a whole; the man of business has very often a narrow heart, because imagination, confined within the monotonous circle of his profession, cannot expand to unfamiliar modes of representation." So, what must be done to restore a population's needed balance, harmony and character? Again, for Schiller, beauty and art to the rescue. One key idea in making beauty and art a central component of people's lives is what he terms `the play drive'. Schiller writes: "Man plays only when he is in the full sense of the word a man, and he is only wholly man when he is playing" By play, Schiller doesn't mean frivolous games, like a mindless game of cards; rather, play for Schiller is about a spontaneous and creative interaction with the world. To flesh out Schiller's meaning of play, let's look at a couple of examples. In the morning you consult your auto manual to fix a problem with the engine and then in the afternoon you examine a legal document to prepare to do battle in court. Since in both cases you are reading for a specific practical purpose or goal, according to Schiller, you are not at play. In the evening you read Shakespeare. You enjoy the beauty of the language and gain penetrating insights into human nature. Since your reading is not bound to any practical aim, you are free to let your imagination take flight and explore all the creative dimensions of the literary work. According to Schiller, you are "at play" and by such playing in the fields of art and beauty, you are free. And where does such play and spontaneous creativity ultimately lead? Schiller's philosophy is not art-for-art's sake, but art for the sake of morality and freedom and truth. If Schiller could wave a magic wand, everybody in society would receive an education in beauty by way of art, literature and music. And such education would ultimately nurture a population of men and women with highly developed aesthetic and moral sensibilities who could experience the full breathe and depth of what it means to be alive. Or, to put it another way, with a restored balance, harmony and character, people would no longer be slaves to the little world of their gut or the restricted world of their head, but would open their hearts and directly experience the fullness of life. And experiencing the fullness of life, for Schiller, is true freedom. How realistic is Schiller's educational program as a way of transforming society? Perhaps being realistic is not exactly the issue. After all, Frederick Schiller was an idealist. He desired to see a society of men and women appreciating art and beauty and having their aesthetic appreciation color everyday behavior, so much so that their dealings and activity in the world would serve as a model of noble, moral conduct for all ages. Not a bad vision.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen = Letters Upon the Aesthetic Education of Man, Friedrich Schiller On the Aesthetic Education of Man (Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen) is a treatise by the German author Friedrich Schiller in the form of a collection of letters. It deals with Immanuel Kant's transcendental aesthetics and the events of the French Revolution. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هفتم ماه اکتبر سال 2009 میلادی عنوان: آزادی و دولت فرزانگی: نامه هایی در تربیت زیباشناختی انسان Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen = Letters Upon the Aesthetic Education of Man, Friedrich Schiller On the Aesthetic Education of Man (Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen) is a treatise by the German author Friedrich Schiller in the form of a collection of letters. It deals with Immanuel Kant's transcendental aesthetics and the events of the French Revolution. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هفتم ماه اکتبر سال 2009 میلادی عنوان: آزادی و دولت فرزانگی: نامه‌ هایی در تربیت زیباشناختی انسان ؛ نویسنده: یوهان کریستف فریدریش فون شیلر؛ مترجم: محمود عبادیان؛ تهران، اختران؛ 1385؛ در 196 ص؛ شابک: 9789647514921؛ موضوع: نوشتار های فلسفی در باره زیبایی شناسی از نویسندگاان آلمانی - سده 19 م بیست و هفت نامه، با موضوع «زیبایی‌ شناسی نوین»، که با زبانی شاعرانه و بهره‌ گیری از مضامین فلسفی را شیللر، البته که در سده هیجدهم میلادی نگاشته است؛ ا. شربیانی

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    If only we could be as free or as mentally beautiful as Schiller envisioned. Best read before you turn 20, at which point the world he railed loudly against takes over. Schiller is a much overlooked intellectual scholar outside of Germany. Along with Lessing, Goethe, and some lesser influential renaissance men, Schiller embodies Aufklarung humanism like few others. His plays are too preachy and his poems can never be found translated by decent individuals, but in the essays, his optimism is If only we could be as free or as mentally beautiful as Schiller envisioned. Best read before you turn 20, at which point the world he railed loudly against takes over. Schiller is a much overlooked intellectual scholar outside of Germany. Along with Lessing, Goethe, and some lesser influential renaissance men, Schiller embodies Aufklarung humanism like few others. His plays are too preachy and his poems can never be found translated by decent individuals, but in the essays, his optimism is almost transforming. Also check out his essays "On the Sublime", "On the Tragic", and his lengthy history of the Thirty Years War.

  4. 4 out of 5

    James

    Friedrich Schiller wrote Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man in 1793 for his friend the Danish Prince Friedrich Christian who had provided him with a stipend to help him through an illness. In 1795 the letters were published and the provide a worthwhile consideration of the nature of Aesthetics for us still today. The collection of twenty seven letters is not an easy read but it is worth persevereing to gain the insights of this great poet and playwright, friend of Goethe and inspiration Friedrich Schiller wrote Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man in 1793 for his friend the Danish Prince Friedrich Christian who had provided him with a stipend to help him through an illness. In 1795 the letters were published and the provide a worthwhile consideration of the nature of Aesthetics for us still today. The collection of twenty seven letters is not an easy read but it is worth persevereing to gain the insights of this great poet and playwright, friend of Goethe and inspiration for Beethoven and many artists, particularly in the Romantic era. The book touches upon a broad range of topics, some of which you do not normally associate with aesthetics. However the letters do consider the nature of Beauty and its relationship to art and man. For Schiller beauty seems to arise as a synthesis between opposing principles "whose highest ideal is to be sought in the most perfect possible union and equilibrium of reality and form"(Letter XVI, p 81). Schiller also discusses the nature of the ideal man and how the impulse for play interacts with man's nature, especially his rational and sensuous aspects which form a juxtaposition within him. This juxtaposition is discussed at length with a synthesis described in terms that suggest a transcendance that culminates in our very humanity (Letters 18-20). Man and his nature is important to Schiller as his reason, but "The first appearance of reason in Man is not yet the beginning of his humanity. The latter is not decided until he is free," (Letter XXIV, p 115). Through discussion of the work of art and the fine arts Schiller brings us closer to a conception of what art means to man and how important "Homo Ludens" is as a conception of man. Schiller admired classical Greece and its art and saw the role of history and freedom important in the discussion of the nature of art. Above all both as a poet and a thinker Schiller held the ideal of freedom to be sacrosanct. According to Schiller, freedom is attained when the sensual and rational in man are fully integrated but his aesthetic disposition is seen as coming from Nature. These letters provide a rich vein of ideas from which the thoughtful and attentive reader may find inspiration in consideration of the aesthetics and the nature of the work of art.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shyam

    Some quick thoughts; not a final review . . . __________ "I love art and everything related to it above all else, and I admit that my inclination is to favour it before any other occupation of the mind. But it is not here what art is to me, but rather how it relates to the human spirit as a whole . . ." It took me two, or three (maybe more) times as long to finish this than I had expected, because of the amount of arresting points that I came across and had to note down . . . __________ I think I Some quick thoughts; not a final review . . . __________ "I love art and everything related to it above all else, and I admit that my inclination is to favour it before any other occupation of the mind. But it is not here what art is to me, but rather how it relates to the human spirit as a whole . . ." It took me two, or three (maybe more) times as long to finish this than I had expected, because of the amount of arresting points that I came across and had to note down . . . __________ I think I will carry what is contained in both Schiller's Letters, and Seneca's Letters, with me every day, for the rest of my life. They have both introduced some new notions and ideas with which I agree wholeheartedly, but they have both also clarified and expanded upon certain ideas, feelings, and views, that I already had. I'll promise myself now: I will, one day, go through both Seneca's and Schiller's letters, one by one, clarifying in each what each author is saying, and how this relates to my beliefs, outlooks, and views . . . __________ This Penguin edition (which I only discovered after reading, was first published in 2016; thanks Penguin!) contains Schiller's Letters which constitute On the Aesthetic Education of Man, but equally importantly, also contain, for the first time in an English translation, his Letters to Prince Frederick Christian von Augustenburg. _____ The translation by Keith Tribe was excellent. I quickly read some reviews of this and noticed some people saying that they found it hard to understand what Schiller was saying. I suspect this may have been to the translation they were reading, because this more modern one is excellent. Any trouble with understanding will not be due to the translation. Schiller is not too hard to understand, and no prior reading of Kant, or Burke, for example, is required to understand his ideas and concepts. _____ The Prince was a sponsor of Schiller, allowing him "three of the intellectually most intense years of his life. He dedicated himself to a close study of Immanuel Kant's critical philosophy, especially the aesthetic theory in the Critique of Judgement of 1790." For the sake of brevity, I'm not going to comment on what Schiller touches upon right now, but I will say that he does not view asesthetics and the cultivation of taste as any kind of panacea of the first order, but as: a complement to morality; a substitute for true virtue, and some other things which I will not go into here. I am not doing a full review here, so for now, please read some of the quotes I have included below. By doing so, you should easily see that his work stretches beyond purely theoretical aesthetics and the cultivation of taste, but more into the application. Do not read them all (unless you want to), but use them as an example of some of the views and ideas that are Schiller touches upon. I have not been exhaustive with the selection, but included some more extended passages which contain some of Schiller's more important and central arguments. (Bolded passages below are ones that I personally find particularly insightful, perceptive &c. I apologise for any spelling errors, I was typing some of the longer passages in some haste . . .) _____ Also, something you should bear in mind: "To be sure, On the Aesthetic Education of Man is an ything but a rounded academic tract on asethetics and politics, leaving as it does many questions unanswered. How exactly would aesthetic education be implemented? What is the relation between the harmony-based model of liquifying beauty and the dynamic model of energetic beauty? But it must be remembered that the text is basically a fragment, a part of a larger, unfinished project. It shares this fate with some of the most important works in eighteenth-century thought, such as Rousseau's Social Contract" —From the Introduction __________ —Our reputation for education and refinement, which we rightly value by comparison with all other merely natural humanity, is pulled up short by the natural humanity of the Greeks, for they freely embraced all the natural delights of art and worthiness of wisdom, though without being seduced by then as we have to our age; they are also our rivals, even our models, in respect of those very advantages in which we seek consolation and reassurance for our unnatural manners. At once complete in form and substance, at once philosophical and creative, at once gentle and energetic, the Greeks united the youth of imagination with the manhood of reason in a glorious humanity. . . . How different are we moderns! The image of the human species in each of us has been enlarged, shattered and scattered as shards, not in proportioned admixtures; so that one has to go from one individual to another to reconstitute the totality of the species. . . .Which modern man is prepared to challenge and one Athenian to debate the prize of humanity? . . .How did an individual Greek come to be representative of his era, and why does no modern man claim this distinction? Because the first was formed as a unity by nature, and the second by an intellect that divided and subdivided. —If the commonweal makes office the measure of man, if it prizes in one citizen only his memory, in another only mathematical understanding, in a third only a mechanical skill; if it is here indifferent to character and only interested in particular knowledge, but there by contrast a sense of order and lawful conduct is thought enough compensation for the most occult thinking - if at the same time these individual skills are to be pushed to such a degree of intensity as the subject allows in extension - should we be surprised that all other faculties of the mind are neglected, so that the one single faculty prized above all others should be exclusively rewarded? We do know that the powerful genius does not take the limits of his occupation to be the limits of his activity, but the mediocre talent uses up the entirety of his meagre powers in pursuing the occupation that has fallen to him; and anyone who has time left over for his own pursuits once his occupational duties are fulfilled must already be commonly gifted. Moreover, the state seldom thinks it any recommendation when powers exceed tasks; nor if the higher intellectual needs of the man of genius compete with the demands of office. —Greek states resembled a colony of polyps, for within themselves individuals enjoyed an independent life, although in times of necessity they could form into a whole; this new gave way to a clockwork mechanism, the joining together of an infinite number of lifeless parts to create a new mechanically driven whole. State and Church, laws and manners, means from end, effort from reward. Eternally shackled to one small fragment of the whole, man imagined himself to be a fragment, in his ear the constant and monotonous noise of the wheel that he turned; never capable of developing the harmony of his being, and instead marking the humanity in his nature, he simply became the impress of his occupation, his particular knowledge. —Not for nothing does the ancient myth have the goddess of wisdom emerging fully armed from Jupiter's head; for her very first action is that of a warrior. Even at her birth she must enter a bitter struggle with senses that do not wish to be torn from sweet repose. . The more numerous part of mankind is too tired and exhausted from its struggle with need to gird itself up for a new and more intense struggle against error. Happy to avoid the troublesome effort of thinking, they gladly leave the control of their concepts to others; and if it so happens that they rouse themselves to higher needs, they seize with greedy credulity upon the formulations that state and priesthood have prepared for them in anticipation. Such people prefer the twilight of obscure belief, in which one can feel more alive and shape the imagination in whatever way one likes, to the ways of truth that chase away the comforting delusions of their dreams. These illusions, which the malevolent light of knowledge threatens to scatter, are the basis of all their happiness; how can they be expected to pay so much for a truth that begins by robbing them of all they hold so dear? To love wisdom, they would already have to be wise, which itself is a truth already felt by those who gave philosophy its name. Culture of the capacity for feeling is the more urgent need at this time, not merely because it will enable better insight into life, but because it prompts the improvement of such insight itself. —Inclination can only say: that suits your individuality and your present need, but your individuality and your present need will be swept away with change, and what you today fiercely desire will in time behind the object of your disgust. If, however, moral feeling says: that shall be, then it decides for ever and eternity - if you admit truth because it is truth, and practice justice because it is just, then you have made over single case the rule for all cases, and treated one moment of your life as eternity. —The more aspects there are to man's receptivity, the more flexible it is and the greater the number of aspects presented to phenomena, so the greater the amount of the world that man can grasp, the more faculties he develops within himself. The more power and depth the personality gains, the more freedom that reason gains, so the more world does man comprehend, so the more form he creates outside of himself. His culture would therefore consist of: firstly, bringing about the most varied contact with the world for the receptive faculty, while intensifying as far as possible passivity in feeling; secondly, securing for the determining faculty the greatest independence from the receptive faculty, developing reason to the greatest possibly degree of activity. Where both qualities are united, man will combine the most abundant existence with the greatest autonomy and liberty and, rather than losing himself in the world, instead draw into himself the sheer infinity of its phenomena and subordinate it to the unity of his reason. —One cannot therefore say that those who regard the aesthetic condition as the most fruitful in respect of knowledge and morality are entirely wrong. They are in fact completely right, for a disposition of the soul that comprehends all of humanity just necessarily and potentially also include within it every individual expression; a disposition of the soul that removes all limits from the entirety of human nature must also necessarily remove these limits from every single expression of the same. Every other operation confers upon the soul a special skill, but for doing so sets a particular limit; only the aesthetic leads to the state of unlimitedness . . . only the aesthetic is a totality in itself, uniting in itself all the conditions of its origin and of its persistence. Only here do we feel ourselves torn from time . . . —Endorsing appearance of the first kind cannot harm truth, since one is never in danger of taking appearance for truth, which is in fact the only thing that can be harmful to truth; to despise appearance means to despise all fine art, for it is in its essence appearance. The enthusiasm of intellect for reality can sometimes lead to such a degree of intolerance that the whole art of beautiful appearance is dismissed out of hand, just because it is appearance; but this happens to the intellect only if it recalls the affinity mentioned above. —The answer to the question 'To what extent may appearance exist in the moral world?' is simply this: to the extent that it is aesthetic appearance, i.e. appearance that neither seeks to represent reality, nor needs to be represented by it. Aesthetic appearance can never endanger the truth of morals, where one finds otherwise, it will be demonstrated without any difficulty that the appearance was not aesthetic. —However since he now also includes outer form in his enjoyment, taking note of the form of things that satisfy his appetites, he goes beyond time itself, having not merely enhanced his enjoyment in extent and degree, but also ennobled the way in which he gains such enjoyment. —One had advanced so far with theoretical culture that the most sacred pillars of superstition were rocked, and the throne of thousand-year-old prejudice began to shake. Nothing was wanting save the signal for the great transformation. —Perhaps you may object, most serene Prince, that we have a circular argument here: that the character of a citizen depends just as much upon a constitution as that constitution depends on the citizen's character. I admit that, and so claim that, if we wish to break out of this circularity, we must either think of means of assisting the state without involving character, or deal with the character without involving the state. The first contains a contradiction, for no constitution can be conceived that is independent of the disposition of the citizen. However, perhaps there is something to the second idea, so that sources independent of the state might be made capable of refining ways of thought, but which sources for all their faults uphold the state in a pure and open manner. —But even if he is permitted to adhere to the spirit of the century, he should not take direction from it. The guiding laws of art do not take their form from a changing and often quite degenerated contemporary taste, but are founded in the necessity and eternity of human nature, in the original laws of the spirit. The pure source of beauty streams down from the divine part of our being, from the eternally pure ether of ideal mankind, uninfected by the spirit of the age that seethes in the dark eddies far below. It is for this reason that art can, in the midst of a barbaric and unworthy century, remain pure like a goddess, so long as its higher origin is remembered, and it does not itself become a slave to base intentions and needs. It is in this way that the few remnants of the Greek spirit wander through the night of our Nordic age, and the electric shock of this spirit arouses some related souls to a sense of their greatness. —In the same way that one can say that a person can receive freedom from another, even though freedom consists in man being relieved of any need to conduct himself in accordance with others, so one can just as well say that taste provides assistance to virtue, even though virtue expressly implies that it requires no external assistance. —Morality can therefore be furthered in two ways, just like it can be obstructed in two ways. Either one has to strengthen the part played by reason and the strength of good will so that no temptation can overwhelm them; or the power of temptation must be broken, so that a weaker reason and a weaker good will might still have the advantage. Raw and uncouth souls lack both moral and aesthetic education, allow pure appetite to dictate to them, behaving merely as their desire leads them. Moral souls who lack aesthetic education allow reason to dictate to them, and it is only through respect for their duty that they triumph over temptation. In aesthetically refined souls there is a further item that quite often replaces virtue where it is lacking, and aids it where it is already present. This item is taste. Taste can therefore be seen as the first weapon used by an aesthetic soul in its struggle against raw nature, driving back the assault before it becomes necessary for reason to intervene as a legislator, and pronounce judgement. —I have not here placed religion and taste together in one class unintentionally, for both have the merit of being a surrogate for true virtue, securing the regularity of actions where there is no hope of the obligation of conviction. —A mixed society would be very poorly maintained on the basis of a moral world if one only flattered the senses with pleasant stimuli. For, even taking into account the vacuity of such provision, one could never be sure that the private taste of one individual member of society would not find repellent that which gave pleasure to another; and assuming that this would be resolved for everyone through sheer variety, it could not be said that the one shared the pleasure of the other, but that each would enjoy things for himself, and bury his feelings within. But this society would not be much better satisfied if one supplied it with the profound truths of mathematics, physics, or diplomacy, for interest in these matters rays upon a particular understanding that cannot be expected from every person. The merely sensuous man and the man of specialised learning are thus both unsuitable subjects for conversation, because both equally lack the ability of generalising their private feelings, and making the general interest their own.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christine Cordula Dantas

    A very deep analysis on aesthetics, full of insights, but makes a difficult reading for the current generations. Yet, I enjoyed this book as far as I could follow. I should return to various passages, which I have marked enthusiastically. Excellent text.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emmanuel

    To me this was an introduction to Herr Schiller's philosophical work and I'm delighted to admit that liked it a lot. As an essay on aesthetics I find it to be an accurate sample of what an aesthetic work reads like. These are rather beautiful and uplifting ideas written here and recommend the book to everybody.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David

    There is a great introduction to this book stating whats good and not so good, but the author Reginald Snell shows that much can be taken from Schiller's philosophical treatise if we apply it to bettering oursleves. It can be a tough read at times and i was motivated to read it because Beethoven owned a copy and was influenced by it. I also believe that we can arrive at a state which deepens our understanding of art, literature and music and that it can transform our being to a truer reflection There is a great introduction to this book stating whats good and not so good, but the author Reginald Snell shows that much can be taken from Schiller's philosophical treatise if we apply it to bettering oursleves. It can be a tough read at times and i was motivated to read it because Beethoven owned a copy and was influenced by it. I also believe that we can arrive at a state which deepens our understanding of art, literature and music and that it can transform our being to a truer reflection of ourselves.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Wallace

    Poetic argument for the importance of the arts not only in the balancing and ideal functioning of the individual but for society as a whole. Schiller warns against an infatuation with the "quantifiable" disciplines at the expense of an appreciation for art. In our modern era of STEM obsession and general disunity, I think this book is as timely as ever.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne Dunn

    Although this type of reading can be challenging for the modern reader, I thoroughly enjoyed this thought-provoking book. If you enjoy philosophy and subscribe to a personal philosophy that an appreciation of beauty and learning through play are valuable, Schiller will appeal to you.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Peter J.

    While I think Schiller intelligent, I had a hard time following him in this work. I would think it was just me, but I have digested the likes of Descartes and Hegel, who are both far more clear.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Fairweather

    Read this book for the XXIV Letter alone, a section of which must (I beg your pardon) be quoted at length: What is Man before Beauty lures from him his free enjoyment and tranquil form tempers his wild life? Eternally uniform in his aims, eternally shifting in his judgements, self-seeking without being himself, unfettered without being free, a slave though serving no rule. At this period the world to him is merely destiny, not yet object; everything has existence for him only insofar as it Read this book for the XXIV Letter alone, a section of which must (I beg your pardon) be quoted at length: “What is Man before Beauty lures from him his free enjoyment and tranquil form tempers his wild life? Eternally uniform in his aims, eternally shifting in his judgements, self-seeking without being himself, unfettered without being free, a slave though serving no rule. At this period the world to him is merely destiny, not yet object; everything has existence for him only insofar as it secures existence for him what neither gives to him nor takes from him, is to him simply not there. Every phenomenon stands before him single and isolated, just as he finds himself in the ranks of beings. Everything that is, is to him through the instant’s word of command; every change is for him an entirely fresh creation, since together with the necessity *within himself* he lacks that necessity *outside himself* which binds together the varying shapes into a universe, and, with the passing of the individual, holds law firmly upon the scene of action. […] Either he hurls himself at objects and wants to snatch them into himself in desire; or else the objects force their way destructively into him, and he thrusts them from him in abhorrence. […] Ignorant of his own human dignity, he is far removed from honoring it in others, and conscious of his own savage greed, he fears it in every creature that resembles him.He never perceives others in himself, only himself in others; and society, instead of expanding him into the species, only confines him ever more closely inside his individuality." My god! What a passage. This short but dense book has been really enlightening for me, not least of all because his thought sees as such a strong precursor to Hegel, which I have been reading a lot lately. I hope to become familiar with his lectures on aesthetics soon, in fact, after having read the Introduction to the lectures. In regards to Schiller’s influence on Hegel, Schiller receives warm praise from Hegel in the Introduction. In fact, in an interesting footnote by the editor of Schiller’s “Aesthetic Education" mentions that the German word *aufgehoben*, which can be translated as “preserved by destruction,” was absolutely key to understanding Hegel’s dialectic—the footnote also mentions that Hegel probably derived this very technical term from Schiller, a term which would play such a profound role in his own philosophical system. Using the language of Schiller, modern culture has inflicted a wound on society which has “enlarged experience” and “sharpened speculation” to the point of stark separation between spheres of knowledge, guarding their field with jealousy and mistrust of other spheres. In this world, the individual may not rise up as a “whole in themselves” but fall back as a mere piece of machinery, a mere fragment of what he once was. As a result, the subject’s relationship to spheres of knowledge and other subjects, too, is likewise fragmented. The result is that the only method of thinking valued is a “patchwork of intellect” and abstract generalization whose only play to compensate for the loss of wholeness is to “disburden itself through classification”—the analytic impulse. Like other Germans of his time Schiller looks back to the “wholeness” of Greek society for an example of an echo of what a harmonious society might be—the individual and their world completely in accord with one another. Schiller admits that this “pitch could not be maintained or surpassed” for a higher calling was required of them which meant to rise to the occasion of greater clarity of knowledge, thus “surrendering the wholeness of their being” in the pursuit of truth. This antagonism between reality and the ideal of truth is the driver of culture—Schiller sees this antagonism as culture itself, a self-moving prophecy where the pure and empirical intellects undermine the authority of one another. Did the Greeks err in shedding their wholeness? This would be besides the point, I think. I do think that, similar to Hegel after him, Schiller sees the various commitments of life as teasing out contradictions in understanding which were always available to speculative thought. Schiller calls these commitments a “partiality in the exercise of powers”—this partiality (driven by our particularity of existence.. our “non-omnipotence”) causes us to “attach wings” to a single power which elevates it above its peers, dismembering Reason. This drive brushes us against the Absolute, and the cause of truth is furthered. Like any birth, there is pain (Schiller uses the allegory of Athena being birthed, fully armed, from the head of Zeus to illustrate the rather cutthroat nature of this pursuit of truth) but a new breath of life runs through humankind. After all, Rome suffered through civil war and Greece through servitude before realizing its moment of genius, a moment which established its truth for eternity. Schiller sees the role of the artist as this figure which pushes us beyond the accepted boundaries of our understanding by way of realizing the ideal (timelessness) in time (conditional). Rather than the being who simply consumes as a “simple formless content of time,” the artist lends form to their material rather than simply destroying it through consumption. Tarrying with the ideal and reality, the artist cannot but strive to become, yet should never simply settle to be themself. The artist is a creator! What the artist *does* is put in motion a reciprocal relationship between two impulses—the form impulse (Reason, the moral, which can’t purely exist in time but is active, yet must be realized) and the sense impulse (Nature, the conditional, which requires time and variety, but allows no freedom and is passive, yet must be recognized). To use roughly synonymous terms employed by Schiller, the act of creation is a proper founding of determinate being in the absolute and the realization of the absolute in determinate being. The mixture of these impulses results in the *play impulse* which lies at the center of Schiller’s project, and is meant to satisfy both the moral and physical, where life and shape are entwined to produce the *living shape.” This is not mere toying, but he act of giving form to Nature. This living shape gives rise to what Schiller considers Beauty, which is the basis of the aesthetic science. We should consider this a moment—Schiller is not arguing for a “standard” of beauty or any sort of “beauty analytic” which would focus on properties of/or objects of beauty. This would, according to Schiller, be impossible, since proper Beauty is the result of the intermingling of the finite and the infinite. To plot out the relationship between the two is not to be broached by either Reason or empirical detailing—this is why Beauty lies at the heart of who we are as partially spiritual, partially material beings. Beauty, thus, has no common object, but is the divine come down to earth. Beauty = “not mere life, nor mere shape, but living shape […] absolute formality, absolute reality.” Furthermore, Schiller urges that Beauty is not a straddling of stable categories of form and reality, but by canceling out opposition which are supposed to remain eternally opposed. Opposition is overcome not which the two ideal and real constituents mix, but when the constituents cancel each other out, forming a new whole which leaves no trace of the division. As a result Beauty is what is preserved by this destruction. The arresting movement of Beauty involves a “harmony of laws” coupled with an “inclusion of all realities.” While nature combines all, the intellect divides all. Only Reason combines again. An interesting footnote by Schiller points out that this is the paradox of humankind… that knowledge was a kind of expulsion from the Eden of pure nature where all was whole. Knowledge introduced division, antagonism. Only reason can once again make us whole. In Schiller’s own words, “[…] before [Man] begins to philosophize, therefore, Man is nearer the truth than the philosopher who has not yet completed his inquiry.” Which kind of reminds me of the Alexander Pope quote which encourages us to drink deep in knowledge if we chose to drink at all, for the one who knows a little is stupider than the one who knows nothing. Or something like that. (Haha!) Anyway, the fulfillment of these two impulses is an act of freedom, for both impulses are fundamental (as nature, necessity outside ourself and Reason, necessity inside ourself) and must be developed to make the person whole. Freedom is, then, the observance of the law of Beauty—nature as authority and the will as authority are both forms of slavery, while the reconciliation of the two is a voluntary recognition stemming from speculation, where we place objects (and ourselves) at a distance from us. This said, Beauty is able to restore us to a state similar to the untutored state of nature, yet altogether higher than such a naive state, for the world becomes *ours* insofar as we are responsible for the creation of a world which bows to no authority apart from the law of Beauty while reconciles concrete determination with the Ideal. This is why Schiller calls Beauty our “Second Creator” insofar as through it we are reborn, reconciled with the world in a harmony of inner and outer impulse. The world of objects is no longer one of annihilation (in the natural state) or fear (in the pure-morality state) but one which we revere as something integral to ourselves. For Schiller, this is the proper sense of the “human being” which goes beyond the “rational animal” many thinkers have made human kind out to be. “The divine monster of the Oriental, that governs the world with the blind strength of a beast of prey, dwindles in the Grecian fantasy into the friendly outlines of humanity; the empire of the Titans falls, and infinite force is mastered by infinite form." Aesthetic, as it has been articulated, not only has consequences for art theory but for political theory as well—Schiller’s conception of the “Aesthetic State” would a a state in which people did their duty not out of a sense of obligation or force, but as an exercise of Freedom, feeling a sense of ownership in their determinations. A truly excellent book—there’s a certain “high” you get from German philosophy you don’t get elsewhere.

  13. 5 out of 5

    William Moore

    In the fight to achieve political freedom, one must not agitate a population by appealing to its irrational passions and obsessions; rather, one must create within individuals a philosophical, or as Schiller puts it, an aesthetical state of mind. And the task of political organizing is to replicate such a state of mind in others. - William F. Wertz, Jr Schillers aim in this work is to create beautiful souls to uplift humankind up by fostering an aesthetical state of mind in which the mind is freed “In the fight to achieve political freedom, one must not agitate a population by appealing to its irrational passions and obsessions; rather, one must create within individuals a philosophical, or as Schiller puts it, an aesthetical state of mind. And the task of political organizing is to replicate such a state of mind in others.” - William F. Wertz, Jr Schiller’s aim in this work is to create ‘beautiful souls’ to uplift humankind up by fostering an aesthetical state of mind in which the mind is freed from all compulsions. He uses Kant as his starting point and positions himself as Kantian (but actually is a vehement critic of Kant, whose ideas he believed justified political oppression). He tries to resolve the inherent paradox contained in the duality of Kant’s categorical imperative. Namely, that man’s moral duties must necessarily be opposed to his sensuous inclinations and therefore be negated. Schiller’s resolution to this paradox is asserting, “One must voluntarily do one’s moral duty with joy.” (William F. Wertz Jr, A Reader’s Guide to Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man). Schiller believes that true political freedom is the greatest and most perfect work of art and he believes this can only be achieved via beauty. It is only via beauty, that one can place themselves in the centre of the whole, and raise their individuality to that of the species. It is also beauty, which can resolve all of the paradoxes within Kant’s work because it marries the world of sense with the world of thought. Our humanity is brought to life through play, that is, creative pursuits undertaken out of a desire rather than a need. This desire is rooted in an enjoyment of aesthetical appearance. Schiller believes we shouldn’t be reproached for placing value on aesthetical appearance, but for the fact that we have not yet brought it to pure appearance. This pure appearance theoretically exists but in practice, may only be glimpsed in brief, rare moments and may never be properly realised. It is embodied by someone with unimpaired freedom, impairing no one else and displaying grace without casting away dignity. This is Schiller’s guiding path to fundamentally change the human inner being. Ultimately, Schiller’s message can be condensed as such: man is only man when he plays.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Zo

    Manages to be super-fun aesthetic meditations while maintaining a metaphysic & political seriousness. Found myself agreeing with a lot of the way he framed the animal/rational sides of man, and his critique of both. I think his idea that aesthetics can serve as a bridge between the two is inspiring & intriguing, but I'm not sure I totally agree with the way he frames everything, and I think his association of the moral with the rational holds promise but doesn't totally work. Look Manages to be super-fun aesthetic meditations while maintaining a metaphysic & political seriousness. Found myself agreeing with a lot of the way he framed the animal/rational sides of man, and his critique of both. I think his idea that aesthetics can serve as a bridge between the two is inspiring & intriguing, but I'm not sure I totally agree with the way he frames everything, and I think his association of the moral with the rational holds promise but doesn't totally work. Look forward to coming back to some of these thoughts and seeing how they fit within Kant's aesthetics.

  15. 4 out of 5

    John Hall

    Simply sublime. Faith, persistence and patience leads one along a corridor to a room where familiar insight mingles with novel expression. The material impulse, leads to the formal impulse and the transcendence of these two equates to the playful impulse which is lathered in the essence of divinity. So that while we may never be perfect we can reach dizzying heights of life nonetheless

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Just read this for my philosophical literary criticism class. I felt like this one kept going round and round. Admittedly I ain't no philosophy aficionado, but I did enjoy some of Schiller's insights even if I didn't buy into his assumptions wholeheartedly.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Egor Sofronov

    As if Schiller had studied through Kant, but returned to Rousseau and empiricism. The laying out of the Romantic ideal of the artistic persona as integral, ethical, and heroic was expected, what was not - was viable theory of alienation and social fragmentation.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Read letters 2, 6, and 9.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Why did I just read this and what did I just read?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tuya

    Most challenging book I have ever read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jamey

    When I was a kid, I loved the crap out of this book (in a translation by, I think it was... Bruno Snell).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mahdi H

    On The Aesthetic Education of Man.. this book was written around the French revolution, and came to address the question of how to transform the society from the old regime to a free society. Schiller explains that a free society would require a moral citizen and that aesthetic beauty is the pathway to develop moral citizens (as opposed to Kant who believe that reason is the path way to morality) . He argues that beauty and art are needed to develop an aesthetic taste and aesthetic taste allows to On The Aesthetic Education of Man.. this book was written around the French revolution, and came to address the question of how to transform the society from the old regime to a free society. Schiller explains that a free society would require a moral citizen and that aesthetic beauty is the pathway to develop moral citizens (as opposed to Kant who believe that reason is the path way to morality) . He argues that beauty and art are needed to develop an aesthetic taste and aesthetic taste allows to recognize the freedom of others. He believe that reason alone cannot drive human being but bodily impulses generated from aesthetics are needed to sharpen the mind and drive the man to moral perfection.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Pyramids Ubiquitous

    Often circumlocutory, but an important meaning for the current era, where I fear we, generally, are becoming uncomfortably distant with nature and with what Schiller regards as beauty. If the base philosophy here is true, and I think that much of it is, the moral development of the current man will only rarely reach a significant maturation. Hauntingly relevant for a text over two-hundred years old, but not one that I can fully recommend to the modern reader (to which it would benefit most) due Often circumlocutory, but an important meaning for the current era, where I fear we, generally, are becoming uncomfortably distant with nature and with what Schiller regards as beauty. If the base philosophy here is true, and I think that much of it is, the moral development of the current man will only rarely reach a significant maturation. Hauntingly relevant for a text over two-hundred years old, but not one that I can fully recommend to the modern reader (to which it would benefit most) due to the regular shrouding of edifice.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Isabella Ryan

    While reading this book I was confused about whether or not I have a brain. Also, I wondered why these ideas were expanded so dreadfully and then I realized. Schiller is writing to a Patron, he's after his coins (which I respect), but this makes for a literary version of a construction job and could have been said in fewer letters. Anyways he's just trying to get at, that art is the truth, the truth will set you free, and life imitates art. Overall not worth reading for personal reading. I only While reading this book I was confused about whether or not I have a brain. Also, I wondered why these ideas were expanded so dreadfully and then I realized. Schiller is writing to a Patron, he's after his coins (which I respect), but this makes for a literary version of a construction job and could have been said in fewer letters. Anyways he's just trying to get at, that art is the truth, the truth will set you free, and life imitates art. Overall not worth reading for personal reading. I only read this for class and really was pained throughout reading this.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steve Owen

    Schiller: We have beauty in art and life when we synthesize our reason, morals, imagination, and senses in a dialectic of play. One reason to read S's letters is to see a good example of dialectical thought and synthesis at work -- however, seeing it at work calls into question its efficacy. There's just so much of the "bad is good" and therefore "the good is bad" that one can read before wondering if it's all a kind of sophistry.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Siddal

    Hard as hell. However, some interesting ideas are outlined that will become more and more important as Modernity advances. Special emphasis on the importance of beauty, totality, and joining the individual character of man with his social counterpart. Freedom and nature may be two of the most important concepts in my opinion... It's a shame, in my opinion, that the kantian undertone makes it so rational and counterintuitive in some cases.

  27. 5 out of 5

    John Hatley

    This was a tough read, deeply intellectual. The language itself is beautiful, confirming what I have long believed: that the German language, in a way that is completely different from Italian or French for example, has its very own beauty. Nevertheless, I'd rather read Schiller's plays than his excursions into philosophy.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Aarón

    It is a great ideal to live your life trough beauty and the aesthetics, i certainly am impressed at people who don't appreciate the art and nature around us. The extraordinary passion of owning the beautiful things in the world is too much to comprehend.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    hoo boy, this was not for me. thought Id like it when I started, but it all felt very much like Charlie in the mailroom on its always sunny to me. hoo boy, this was not for me. thought I’d like it when I started, but it all felt very much like Charlie in the mailroom on it’s always sunny to me.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sohrab

    The writer had tried so hard to be poetic, that he had lost the organisation of his Philosophical thoughts, and he had intended so desperately to be sensible, that he couldn't fulfill the poetic language. All in all, wonderful thoughts, poor writing !!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.