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In this inaugural episode of our new series on aesthetics, we discuss Friedrich Schiller’s 1795 Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man. We begin with his assessment of the French Revolution and its perceived failure to deliver on its lofty republican ideals, focusing on his ascription of this failure to the fragmentation of the modern self and society. We then attempt to wrap our minds around Schiller’s proposed corrective: an ‘aesthetic education’ that mobilizes art and beauty toward the end of dialectically unifying sensuous life and Reason, nature and moral freedom, the ‘coarser’ class of ‘savages’ and the refined ‘barbarians’. We end, frankly, by trashing the current state of cultural production and fine art, caustically noting the contemporary shortage of Schillerian aesthetic education.
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Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man, eds. and trans. Elizabeth M. Wilkinson and L.A. Willoughby (New York: Oxford University Press)
Jacques Rancière, "Schiller and the Aesthetic Promise," trans. Owen Glyn-Williams, in Aesthetic Reason and Imaginative Freedom, eds. María del Rosario Acosta López & Jeffrey L. Powell (Albany: SUNY Press, 2018)
Music: Vintage Memories by Schematist | schematist.bandcamp.com