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“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 F “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.


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“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 F “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. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen = Letters Upon the Aesthetic Education of Man = On the Aesthetic Education of Man, Friedrich Schiller On the Aesthetic Education of Man 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 2009میلادی عنوان: آزادی و دولت فرزانگی: نامه‌ هایی در تربیت زیباشناختی انسان؛ نویسنده: یو Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen = Letters Upon the Aesthetic Education of Man = On the Aesthetic Education of Man, Friedrich Schiller On the Aesthetic Education of Man 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 2009میلادی عنوان: آزادی و دولت فرزانگی: نامه‌ هایی در تربیت زیباشناختی انسان؛ نویسنده: یوهان کریستف فریدریش فون شیلر؛ مترجم: محمود عبادیان؛ تهران، اختران؛ 1385؛ در 196ص؛ شابک 9789647514921؛ موضوع نوشتار های فلسفی در باره زیبایی شناسی از نویسندگاان آلمانی - سده 19م 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؛ تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 23/03/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  2. 4 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 ex 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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aurelia

    This is not the poetic celebration of Art one expects from the title, but rather a dense and quit theoretical essay in politics and ethics with heavy references of Kant’s transcendental philosophy and Rousseau’s human nature and social contract ideas. It is important to have been introduced to these authors in order to understand the questions Schiller is trying to answer. This is also a text which is a reflection of the historical epoch in which it was written, with all the intellectual turbule This is not the poetic celebration of Art one expects from the title, but rather a dense and quit theoretical essay in politics and ethics with heavy references of Kant’s transcendental philosophy and Rousseau’s human nature and social contract ideas. It is important to have been introduced to these authors in order to understand the questions Schiller is trying to answer. This is also a text which is a reflection of the historical epoch in which it was written, with all the intellectual turbulence and the political upheaval the western world was going through. At the height of the age of Enlightenment, old systems of government, old paradigms and old metaphysics were all toppled down and new ideas of Right, Freedom and Progress emerged, yet the reality of the leading European nations taking this new path was one of total chaos, violence and anarchy. Schiller, with a firm belief in Enlightenment ideals, tries to explain this failure, to defend what was achieved due to rational thinking and point at which step the problem occurred and find a way to cure it, and it is in Art, where he finds the solution. In order to have a diagnosis of the situation in Europe of the XVIII century, Schiller uses the new paradigms which were newly introduced by his time. Mainly ideas about the transition of Man from the state of Nature and the state of Reason. Man in the state of Nature is a slave to necessity and causality of the senses, basic needs hunt him and savage impulses are repressed only by an all-powerful state, while the state of Reason is one of choice, of free subordination to the laws of reason in the Kantian sense. Both states do not fully represent Man. If the state of Nature is one where Man is tormented by an endless stream of sensory stimuli, with no meaning or structure, the state of Reason is one where he restlessly seek unity, cause, reduces all the diversity of Nature to a system, impoverishing it. These two impulses tear apart Man and prevent him from getting the bigger picture, the totality of what he is. In parallel with the dualism of Nature and Reason, Schiller introduces other dualism which are logical consequences of the first one. On the political dimension, the state is an abstract construction which aims at unity and uniformity, in contrast to the individual who represents diversity and needs freedom. On the metaphysical level, we find what Schiller calls the Person, by which he means the unchangeable substratum of man which remains the same independently of time and situation, in opposition to what he call the Condition, which are the variety of responses man exhibits in every moment. The intellectual part of man is always looking to get out of Time, to exist in the realm of the Infinite, while the natural part is always finite and dependent on Time in an endless cycle of change. Finally, on the social level, we have the lower classes, who live in perpetual servitude to sensory needs and impulses unable to experience and respond to the laws of the intellect, in opposition to the upper classes, who although free from natural necessity and sufficiently versed in the working of the intellect are stuck in a state of moral lethargy and besieged by their own systems and ideals which hardly reach reality. The dualism in the working of human faculties is not considered a fault by Schiller. It is a necessary division through which every faculty can reach its ultimate perfection. It is true that the dualism can blind an individual, but it is extremely beneficial to the species. Some individuals are carried away by the intellectual impulse into making ideals, while others are swept away by their senses and dependence on matter. To overcome these dualism and achieve a harmonious Totality which is the true manifestation of Man, Schiller introduces what he calls the playful impulse. Its role is to reconcile between the material impulse and the intellectual one, giving form to matter, and thus keeping an equal distance from the intellect and its laws, and Nature and its necessity, making it the true realm of human freedom. The playful impulse is what pushes man to experience and seek beauty. Its appearance in the History of humanity marks a shifting from the state of dependence on Nature, on utility, on profit. The desire to ornament is the first step of Man outside of the realm of necessity towards that of reason and morals, it is his first experience of freedom, which combines both the elements from his material impulse and intellectual one. For Schiller, the artist lives in his age, he is the child of his historical epoch and social parameters, but it does not stop him from travelling across time to bring his material from another era, in order to respond to the needs of his fellow citizens. He exists in and outside of his time, he gives form, an intellectual shape to a matter, a tangible reality. Beauty and Art can thus combine between the two fundamental faculties of man and create a balance between their opposite forces. To those who are overwhelmed by their senses Schiller offers what he calls an energizing beauty, which will help them give form to the formless mass of images with which their perception constantly bombards them with, and thus restore order to their souls. For those who went higher into their ivory tower of intellectual pursuit, he offers liquefying beauty, which will pull them back to matter and experience, and save them from the chimerical creations of their own minds. The cultivation of taste and the exposure to culture are the middle way between two excesses that Schiller identifies as the source of the calamities of his age.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chris Via

    Having only read this once, I’ll have to reread it before saying anything conclusive in terms of whether I think it succeeds in its thesis or not. I have the main sweep of his ideas, but I don’t have a confident grasp on the articulation. What we do know is that this is a fragment of what was supposed to be a much larger project, so the “ending” is inevitably ambiguous. It is also a work of dialectical philosophy specifically on the branch concerned with aesthetics—taste and beauty. Schiller def Having only read this once, I’ll have to reread it before saying anything conclusive in terms of whether I think it succeeds in its thesis or not. I have the main sweep of his ideas, but I don’t have a confident grasp on the articulation. What we do know is that this is a fragment of what was supposed to be a much larger project, so the “ending” is inevitably ambiguous. It is also a work of dialectical philosophy specifically on the branch concerned with aesthetics—taste and beauty. Schiller defines two main impulses in man: physical and formal. Physical: life, existence, temporal, etc. Formal: form, absolute, etc. There is sensual man and rational man. There is man driven by the appetite for sensuous pleasure and man driven by intellectual pleasure. But either direction leads from a phantom promise of liberty to violence. Excess. Schiller’s concern, exacerbated by the violence of the French Revolution and the suffocation of imagination at the hands of scientific progress, is to find a way to set individual man free in such a way as to achieve civil liberty in society. A lofty task for sure. Three philosophical predecessors come into play: Aristotle and his Golden Mean; Descartes and his mind-body dualism; and Kant and his transcendental idealism. Thus the concept of a third impulse in man, one that can be cultivated through an aesthetic education (i.e. the fine arts)—the “playful” impulse. The playful impulse is the moderation between physical and formal, between sensuous and intellectual, between imaginative and rational. At times this reminded me of points in Freud’s essay “Creative Writers and Daydreaming.” Through conditioning of the aesthetic education, man can achieve the infinite within the finite, he can absorb the world instead of becoming lost in the vastness of the world. Schiller does not give any practical direction in the letters that we have, and this may be a sticking point for some, even if materialists humor his dualism and empiricists humor his idealism. Definitely want to read this one again soon to fill in the gaps. There were many times when I felt the emergence of a complex and novel idea but I failed to grasp it in such a way that I could explain it in my own terms.

  5. 5 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 almos 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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    James Henderson

    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 f 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 transcendence 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.

  7. 4 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Barnaby Thieme

    I have to say I found this long essay pretty terrible. It does contain some interesting ideas and it is highly significant in the history of philosophy and art, but it was excruciating to read, and I believe Schiller is completely out of his depth working in philosophy. I'm still relatively early in my encounter with Schiller, but thus far I've found him weak as a poet and a philosopher, and strong as a dramatist. Inspired primarily by Kant's account of ethics and freedom, Schiller seeks to writ I have to say I found this long essay pretty terrible. It does contain some interesting ideas and it is highly significant in the history of philosophy and art, but it was excruciating to read, and I believe Schiller is completely out of his depth working in philosophy. I'm still relatively early in my encounter with Schiller, but thus far I've found him weak as a poet and a philosopher, and strong as a dramatist. Inspired primarily by Kant's account of ethics and freedom, Schiller seeks to write what is in essence a social and political defense of the fine arts by postulating the beautiful as uniting the sensual and rational faculties of man such that he turns by choice toward engagement with the world and the improvement of society, which he may be compelled to do by neither reason nor appetite. The underlying ideas are provocative and novel, and Schiller is, I believe, one of the first social philosophers to diagnose a spiritual problem in man rooted in the specialization compelled by modern forms of life, which divide the psyche and confound the efforts of individuals to actualize oneself as a harmonious plurality. One detects a certain influence of Herder at work here. Unfortunately, Schiller attempts to perform a post-Kantian transcendental analysis of the knowing subject to ground his analysis of beauty in philosophical clarity and logical certainty. He achieves neither, but does manage to approximate the unpleasant style of second-tier Kantians. As such, this work carries much of the stylistic baggage of Kant without demonstrating any of his subtlety or profundity. His approach to transcendental philosophy is amateurish and reductive in a way that sounds distinctly pre-modern, such as, for example, when he attempts to divide the totality of the subject into a temporal, contingent domain he calls "conditions" (Zustand) and a timeless structure of experience he calls the "person" or "personality". If I disliked plums as a child but I like them now, does that mean that my affection for plums is part of my "conditions"? His model is crude and it doesn't withstand much prodding, but he hangs the whole of his turgid discourse on this rickety frame, and with considerable enthusiasm marshals up sweeping declarations like this: 'The reason, on transcendental grounds, makes the following demand: There shall be a communion between the formal impulse and the material impulse—that is, there shall be a play instinct—because it is only the unity of reality with the form, of the accidental with the necessary, of the passive state with freedom, that the conception of humanity is completed. Reason is obliged to make this demand, because her nature impels her to completeness and to the removal of all bounds; while every exclusive activity of one or the other impulse leaves human nature incomplete and places a limit in it. Accordingly, as soon as reason issues the mandate, "a humanity shall exist," it proclaims at the same time the law, "there shall be a beauty."' Such doggerel is an offense against both reason and good taste. There is good content in here, such as his interesting account of Spiel, or play, which to a certain degree anticipates Wittgenstein's concept of language games. He also clearly set the agenda for the early German Romantics in several key respects. But evaluated on its own terms as a work of philosophical argument, it stands poorly. Update: Just read this in Gespräche mit Goethe: "Je näher [die Deutschen] sich gewissen philosophischen Schulen hingegeben, desto schlechter schreiben sie.... So ist Schillers Styl am prächtigsten und wirksamsten, sobald er nicht philosophiert...."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Walter Schutjens

    I enjoyed this book, here are some notes I took to synthesize its affect. The ideal outcome of an aesthetic education, the ‘beautiful soul’, was first described and consequently popularized by the novelist C.M. Wieland in what is considered the first Bildungsroman . Schiller in this 1794 work 'On the Aesthetic Education of Man' develops this concept by giving it a new philosophical and political ground. He emphasizes his conception of its actual possibility and necessary development as the logic I enjoyed this book, here are some notes I took to synthesize its affect. The ideal outcome of an aesthetic education, the ‘beautiful soul’, was first described and consequently popularized by the novelist C.M. Wieland in what is considered the first Bildungsroman . Schiller in this 1794 work 'On the Aesthetic Education of Man' develops this concept by giving it a new philosophical and political ground. He emphasizes his conception of its actual possibility and necessary development as the logical consequence of Kant’s Critical system especially its final work The Critique of the Power of Judgement, whilst maintaining the concepts philhellenic roots. Schiller’s innovative philosophical ideas are not limited to metaphysics but span across works on history, politics and especially aesthetics; this gives him a wholly new conception of freedom which is strongly related to what he terms ‘aesthetic education’ or otherwise the process of Bildung. I think Schiller wants to ground the necessity of an aesthetic education transcendentally in the demands of reason which seeks a holistic unity between the competing drives of the human psyche; the possibility of this, which is equally for Schiller the possibility of freedom, lies in the aesthetic mediation of the drives through their 'free play' this being stimulated by a public process of Bildung. Necessity of Bildung The methodology Schiller employs in arguing for the necessity of the possibility of an ‘aesthetic education’ is grounded in his reaction against previous doctrines which concern the aesthetic. He neatly summarizes this reaction in Letter XVIII of the AEoM stating ‘All the disputes about the concept of beauty (…) have no other source than this, either the investigation did not start with a sufficiently strict distinction, or it was not carried through to a pure and complete synthesis’ , the first complaint referring to the ‘intuitive aesthetics’ championed by sentimentalists and the second to the strictly formal rationalism of philosophers such as Kant. It is clear however Schiller did not seek to overcome these positions but instead integrate them into a philosophical whole that could comprehend the formal structure of the beautiful without losing sight of the truth of its content given in intuition. In a footnote to the same section, he allies the task of the AEoM with that of ‘reason’ tracking its historical development through thinkers with which he engages, stating: ‘Nature (sense and intuition) always unites, Intellect always divides; but Reason unites once more’ . This movement is akin to how Schiller understands history; the unity and wholeness found in the Greeks and reflected in the naturalist poetry of Goethe, the divide brought by the intellect reflected in the philosophy of Kant and the Terror of the French Revolution, and then finally his task or that of reason, the development of a second unity which provides a higher intellectual understanding of an original holism. Schiller therefore embraces the enlightenment ideal concerning reason’s ability to demand and strive towards a holism, and thereby grounds the necessity of its possibility transcendentally following the metaphysical conclusions of Kant’s CIII. He still overcomes this position however in the AEoM by providing the grounds for the objective reality of freedom achieved in this unity, outlining a condition of being in beauty that sublates both reason and nature. So, although the demand is made by reason, its reality is found in beauty. Equally, Schiller seeks to ground his philosophical conclusions in reason but strives towards holism through the beauty of his plays. Schiller hereby returns to Shaftesbury’s original conception of art as identifying the ‘truth’ of its content, something strictly disallowed by Kant’s subjectivist turn in metaphysics. What he does maintain from Kant, something first developed by Baumgarten , is aesthetics wide range of application in understanding the unification of reason and nature, transcending its mere importance in art. This is crucial to Schillers notion of the ‘aesthetic education’ allowing for him to conceive of its practice widely , locating the necessity for it, besides metaphysics, in political history; both are developed here. Metaphysical Necessity Schiller’s metaphysics is a result of his attempt to maintain the formal aspects of Kant’s Critical system, while simultaneously seeking to overcome its subjectivism; or otherwise, the state of ‘unlimited determinability’ that lacks all content which he claims the Kantian subject paradoxically exists in. Kant claims that when the faculty of judgement transitions between nature and morality to make an aesthetic judgement, each respective domain remains wholly self-sufficient and independently valid. Schiller introduces Reinhold’s conception of ‘drives’ to highlight the paradoxicality of this position, refiguring Kant’s domain of reason and sensibility to ‘form’ and ‘sense’ he claims ‘each of these two primary drives (…) strives inevitably, according to its nature, to satisfaction’ , the main point being that these drives have different ends. He thereby reconceives Kant’s dualism as unnecessarily limiting humanity in its moral endeavours as it will inevitably remain in conflict with itself. This is not simply a moral critique trying to work on the readers sense of pathos, Schiller argues for his proof of the ‘possibility of the sublimest humanity’ by grounding its necessity transcendentally in the demands of reason as a self-organizing and harmonizing force in nature. Schiller locates this unity in the ‘enjoyment of beauty’ which he claims gives rise to a ‘an actual union and interchange between matter and form’ brought about by the ‘play drive’. He therefore makes a transcendental deduction in the way Kant argued for the principle of causality, applying the methodology to argue for the possibility of a generalization of the experience of beauty making it applicable in the practical sphere. Schiller does not venture to provide an actual metaphysical ground for the ‘play drive’, in his equivocation of it with freedom he intends a state which is free of all determination both from the faculty of reason and of nature . By integrating both in the play drive by their mutual delimitation Schiller maintains the universalism of their coinciding but independent validity. This state of ‘aesthetic determinability’ Schiller claims is transcendentally necessary for reason justifying its reality. Schiller thus reconceives Kant’s understanding of freedom as the capacity for the will to exercise noumenal causality by following the formal structure of the moral law. Instead, freedom is only achieved in a state of objective being or a holism which subsumes Kant’s equivocation of it with duty, maintaining it, but raising it to a higher level that additionally integrates the sense drive. It is here that we can see Schiller’s strong association with the naturalized ethics of the Greeks, the ‘beautiful soul’ objectifying virtue to the extent that it synthesizes inclination and duty wholly, acting with ‘such purity and perfection that both conditions disappear entirely in a third one’ . Virtue is thereby once again brought on par with the Kantian notion of duty and Schiller claims to have overcome what he saw as the limitations of the formal rationalists who ‘limit the infinity of nature according to the laws of the discursive understanding’ . The question thus becomes if Schiller blatantly overstretched these laws to prove the necessity of the possibility of a successful aesthetic education. This necessity is however difficult to prove, it would mean that it is possible to act as he puts it in his essay On Grace and Dignity ‘unintentionally when intentional movements are carried out’ , or equally to allow for the ‘infinite being realized in the finite’ . To attribute an inherent purposiveness to an object would ignore the merely regulative role Kant claimed reflective judgements play. This, as demonstrated by D. Pugh, relegates Schiller in his conception of teleology closer to a form of Neo-Platonism and leads Pugh to question if Schiller was at all interested in Kant’s ‘reformulation of the traditional problems of metaphysics as a new scientific metaphysics of experience’ . Schiller in demonstrating the necessity of the possibility of an aesthetic education seems to sidestep this problem however, in part due to the Platonistic aspect of his thought . As pointed out by Schaper, there are key methodological differences here between Kant and Schiller; whereas Kant sought to identify the mode in which beauty is experienced, Schiller considered this as secondary and first sought the ideal form of the cognition of beauty: aesthetic determination . According to Schaper, Schiller here brings out ‘suppressed tendencies’ of Platonistic thought within Kant who merely conceptualized the possibility of the reality of the intellectus archetypus but stopped there. Schiller oversteps the principles of Kants transcendental idealism by bringing out the ontologically ‘real in itself’ to be set against Kant’s subjectivism and played out these ideas in ‘a key in which Kant never meant his music to be played’ . It was perhaps a key fitting to Schiller’s own artistic ends however, for he did radically diverge from Plato by setting the ends of art at the service of Kant’s Enlightenment project, providing in his AEoM what Beiser terms ‘the poet’s reply to Plato’s Republic’ . The mere exhibition of these ends as the ideal form of a whole or a moral totality could thus in a Platonistic manner act as the axiomatic proof of the intelligibility of the ‘third character’ as there is no higher form it can be derived from. This conclusion runs parallel to a methodology he proclaims in the first letter of his AEoM where he states ‘Concerning those idea which prevail in the Kantian system (…) only the philosophers are at variance; the reast of mankind (…) have always agreed’ , appealing here to common sense and affirming his belief in the return of reason to intuition in its final pronouncements. This interpretation of Schillers capacity to provide an adequate metaphysical foundation to prove the necessity of an aesthetic education, although lenient, at least situates him accurately historically as engaging critically with thinkers that outline the major obstacles found in both reason and nature for the creation of a political state of freedom. Political Necessity By elevating the concept of virtue to the same level of duty Schiller makes the appearance of freedom itself sensible, this occurs both on the individual and species level in terms of a ‘beautiful soul’ and the ‘aesthetic state’ respectively. Kant’s ‘kingdom of ends’ is thus transposed by Schiller into a ‘kingdom of taste’ and just as its achievement is for Kant conceived of as the highest good, Schiller claims his ends of social holism are ‘the most perfect of all works of art, the building up of true political freedom’ . Schiller’s objectification of freedom as a state of being as opposed to Kant’s mere subjective formalist conception allows him to put more emphasis on the importance of the reality of political progress throughout history. This has as consequence that Schiller can demonstrate the necessity of an aesthetic education equally in his politics and his metaphysics as both are able to demonstrate reasons self-determined movement towards freedom. To illustrate Schiller’s method in doing this it is possible to put him in dialogue with another Greek philosopher who theorized about the state, namely Aristotle, who in his Nicomachean Ethics investigated the relation between insight and ethics. Schiller was sympathetic to German conservative sentiment that the main motivator of action was desire as opposed to reason , as such humanity could theoretically have the proper insight into ethics but fail to realise these insights in practice; in Aristotle’s terms Schiller sought thus to overcome akrasia or weakness of will. This amounts for Schiller to a conflict embedded in our moral psychology between the same form and sense drive described in section 1.1. His realistic interpretation of teleology demands a necessary reconciliation of this conflict, one which can be understood retrospectively through historiography, he states in his 1789 lecture ‘all the past events of the world; the whole history of the world at least would be needed to explain this very moment’ . He proceeds to do this; polemicizing about both the domination of man by nature in his early existence and in turn the tyranny imposed on nature by reason during the French revolution. His divergence from Kant is seen in the latter claim and outlined in his 1795 Letters , instead of seeking an emancipation from nature through the diffusion of reason Schiller aims for a holistic reconciliation of nature achieved through an aesthetic education. Returning to the first problem of akrasia, Schiller believes human desires (sense) can be cultivated through education to align themselves with the ends of reason (form) through the play drive which de facto does not privilege either drive but allows for their mutual determination. It is important to note that although Schiller thought that an aesthetic education was necessary for the realization of an ethical state of freedom, it was not wholly sufficient. This is to deter accusations of Schiller’s AEoM being an apolitical tract that merely espouses an aesthetic humanism that runs contra to the revolutionary spirit of his early plays . He states midway through the AeoM that we ‘cannot point to a single instance of a high degree (…) of aesthetic culture going hand in hand with political freedom and civic virtue’ , Bildung is indeed an end for Schiller to the extent that it is necessary, but it is equally a means. This does not preclude the fact that there can be other means necessary to achieve this end, not excluding real political reform that is democratically decided upon in a liberal republican state. Schiller in his 1793 letters to the duke Augustenberg is for example aware of the limitations of a class society for providing a universal Bildung to a nation, he does not go as far as provide an economic solution, however he diagnoses it as a further consequence of the imbalance between drives. As pointed out by Beiser Schiller thought the limitation of culture to the upper classes led to indulgence and decadence, and the limited culture provided to the lower classes to vulgarism and immorality. Just as in his metaphysics Schiller sought to affect a mutual delimitation of these two drives to lead to a ‘beautiful soul’, in his politics it is a mutual delimitation of classes that leads to a liberal republican ‘aesthetic state’. Possibility of Bildung A condition of minimal plausibility of any ethical theory according to Kant is that its necessity entails its possibility, or otherwise ‘ought implies can’ . Thus, if one has a moral obligation to do something it must also be achievable in the natural world. Schiller maintains the basic formula of Kant’s categorical imperative, and thus has in his mind proven the possibility of an ‘aesthetic education’. He has however reconfigured the imperative to not only apply to moral but also aesthetic obligation. This means that besides the form and sense drive outlined in section 1 there must also exist a real play drive that is resultant of the state of free play; one that is capable of a practical-self-consciousness that establishes for the subject a relation to the super-sensible to justify its telos. That reason demands such a play drive has been demonstrated in section one, the task however lies also in proving the possibility of it as a result of a synthesis or reconciliation between the form and sense drive. For Schiller this reconciliation is equivalent to the mutual delimitation of psychological drives, the will is truly free because it is not strictly determined by either the form or the sense drive. What results is a state of ‘play’ or suspension between these two drives that is motivated by an understanding of their fundamental relation, an understanding supplied and trained by Bildung. This has as consequence that in the ‘aesthetic state’ the prevalent ‘aesthetic consciousness’ does not necessarily realise our full humanity but merely secures its possibility by creating certain conditions. Here Schiller makes an essential distinction, stating that through Bildung ‘that which endures is his person, that which changes, his condition’ . This reaffirms Schiller’s commitment to the production of an expressively social holism, whereas the Kantian subject can attain freedom individually according to the moral law, for Schiller it is a collective condition or state of being attained in a society. This also allows him to dodge the accusation that humanity rises to the status of an intellectus archetypus, this because every ‘determinate existence, has its origins in time’ we thus remain temporally determined although the ‘pure Intelligence within us is eternal’ . Schiller hereby equates the possibility of an aesthetic education with the possibility of momentarily sharing in the eternal consciousness of God. The transcendental ground that Schiller supplies for the necessity of an aesthetic education thus equally determines its possibility, although, due to its revision of Kant’s metaphysical dualism this possibility has for Schiller radical moral and political consequence’s which he seeks to embrace in his artistic output. The necessary synthesis of the psychological drives through their mutual delimitation leads to a state whereby the subject is wholly aesthetically determined, this leading to the objectification of virtue in the individual or what Schiller terms the ‘beautiful soul’. Its possibility lies in a public process of Bildung that seeks to cultivate man’s natural desires. This process, although not wholly sufficient is both a means and an end in the historical development towards Schillers conception

  11. 5 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. 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.

  12. 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).

  13. 4 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. 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.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie

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

  15. 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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tuya

    Most challenging book I have ever read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This was definitely challenging to get through, but worthwhile! I especially loved the ideas Schiller brought up about bringing together reason and emotion to make decisions because in their equal opposition, there's an opportunity for reflection you wouldn't get if you were automatically pulled in one direction or another. One of my favorite passages was- "The sensuous drive awakens with our experience of life (with the beginning of our individuality); the rational drive, with our experience of This was definitely challenging to get through, but worthwhile! I especially loved the ideas Schiller brought up about bringing together reason and emotion to make decisions because in their equal opposition, there's an opportunity for reflection you wouldn't get if you were automatically pulled in one direction or another. One of my favorite passages was- "The sensuous drive awakens with our experience of life (with the beginning of our individuality); the rational drive, with our experience of law (with the beginning of our personality); and only at this point, when both have come into existence, is the basis of man's humanity established. Until this has happened everything in him takes place according to the law of necessity. But now the hand of nature is withdrawn from him, and it is up to him to vindicate the humanity she implanted and opened up within him. That is to say as soon as 2 opposing fundamental drives are active within him, both lose their compulsion, and the opposition of two necessities gives rise to freedom" (143) I'll probably reread it at some point cause there's definitely more to get out of it but for now I highly recommend!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    I have now read this both in English and in German (as the Augustiner Briefe) and I have to admit it’s very difficult reading for me. I am not much of a philosopher and I tend to get lost in the babble. Sometimes I wonder if philosophers purposely write in a confusing manner to keep their study elite, like academic writing. Having studied this piece in two different courses has widened my understanding of the text and I do have a handle on what Schiller is attempting to convey. Regardless, I do I have now read this both in English and in German (as the Augustiner Briefe) and I have to admit it’s very difficult reading for me. I am not much of a philosopher and I tend to get lost in the babble. Sometimes I wonder if philosophers purposely write in a confusing manner to keep their study elite, like academic writing. Having studied this piece in two different courses has widened my understanding of the text and I do have a handle on what Schiller is attempting to convey. Regardless, I do like what Schiller is saying here and his belief in the importance of aesthetics clearly shows in his plays and other works. The balance between art and science is an important one and finding that ‘wow’ moment is worth studying both. It’s sad to see that today American society could use a good lesson in Schiller as we have neglected the humanities for too long now.

  19. 4 out of 5

    CTEP

    There is a line in the novel The Idiot by Dostoyevsky that states "Beauty will save the world." That line kept coming back to me as I read On the Aesthetic Education of Man by Friedrich Schiller. This book/essay specifically was interesting to me because that is at the core what my position in CTEP is: I am an educator of aesthetics, or at least a topic that belongs to the aesthetic. So how does my work effect people? I don't build resumes, help find housing or jobs. My work numbers are going to There is a line in the novel The Idiot by Dostoyevsky that states "Beauty will save the world." That line kept coming back to me as I read On the Aesthetic Education of Man by Friedrich Schiller. This book/essay specifically was interesting to me because that is at the core what my position in CTEP is: I am an educator of aesthetics, or at least a topic that belongs to the aesthetic. So how does my work effect people? I don't build resumes, help find housing or jobs. My work numbers are going to be minimal for this survey we have to give out. So what value do aesthetics and beauty have? I think Schiller's book helped me think of this immensely. (Quick Note: The word "Man" in the title is a poorly translated gendered word that is a limitation of translation. In the German, Schiller uses the word "Menschen" which translates to "People", and is a non gendered word). Schiller wrote this book as a collection of letters to a German Prince (his patron) in response to the French Revolution. His patron was a proponent of the revolution, but Schiller, while supporting the ideals of the revolution, was horrified and dismayed at the actions undertaken in France. Schiller states "never before has so large a moment been taken up by so small a people." While the revolution was right in its ideas and moved toward a spirit of liberation, the people were not ready for the change, and violence and bloodshed ensued because the people of the revolution were not prepared to undertake so great a task. Schiller's response to this: we need greater aesthetic and cultural cultivation, we need a sense of the beautiful in the world, in ourselves, and in that relationship. Humanity needs to cultivate themselves in order to successfully change the structures of society. Schiller believes this lack of aesthetic education allowed base violence and lawlessness to take over at the moment of truth. He saw the power of Art to transform the spirit, and lift people up to a place where the revolution would resemble a humanitarian superseding of a repressive society, not a violent destruction that only causes more violence and repression. A society that wants change cannot base their overthrow on the same violence that they felt the previous society cast on them. And the Arts can work as a way to envision a way out of this violence and oppression. Beauty can ennoble humanity to think of a better world, and act in a spirit of higher ideals than the society they are in. Schiller also diagnoses the problems of the French society specifically related to their lack of cultivation. He saw the aristocracy as grotesque: a bored, narcissistic, nihilistic class- who were detached from reality because of their life of luxury; they did not know or care about the suffering of the world. The middle class was to him an uncultivated, base, repressive class- their entire existence was based on shallow material gains. They had no sense of beauty, and their ugliness was in the belief that what they owned was their existence. This shallow materialism led them to deferring social responsibility. The lower class was too overworked to have time to appreciate aesthetics and beauty, and instead opted for cheap and simple entertainment, such as long nights of binge drinking at taverns and going to low quality shows that were exciting and entertaining but provided no sense of beauty or value. All of these factors together created a society that was not ready for change. They were unimaginative and unready for the revolution. Honestly, these diagnoses I thought could be applied verbatim to modern America. The rich are aloof and disconnected, the middle class are apathetic and politically unengaged, and the lower classes are forced to work two or three jobs, and then spend weekends populating downtown bars or going to crummy Hollywood movies that provide momentary entertainment that is exciting but is wholly disposable and without moral or artistic merit. What chance does this society have to change? Would it even know how to change if the opportunity arose? This book made me rethink my work. At the best, I can provide an appreciation of artistic and aesthetic beauty, and encourage teens to cultivate in themselves a higher sense of their own ability to create as well as a sense of appreciation for what great art can be, and how to utilize beauty to ennoble themselves and others. I think we usually dismiss truly great work because of its pretensions, but if we wish to be the society we want to be we need to embrace these pretensions on a larger scale, not dismiss them! I think true change has to occur through a cultivation of our better selves, and we peel off and leave behind the oppressive parts of our society in this act of transcendence. What happens now on both sides I think is we diagnose problems and then try to repress everyone from doing it, which does not change the people or get rid of the source of the problem, it merely works against people's freedom and ability to go above these parts of society that make them oppress others and themselves. I think art, and specifically truly beautiful ("sublime," in Schiller's words) art can touch those parts of our soul that reminds us there is a more beautiful self within us and a more beautiful society to be realized. Beauty in Art reminds us of the beauty we could all create. To be honest, I think this is how it worked for me: I first found appreciation in great works of literature, painting, art, and film; and through this appreciation my world opened up. This happened to me mostly because my High School English teachers opened this world up to me. If I continually grow as a teacher, possibly I could help bring that to one of my students. That to me would be the greatest achievement for a teacher of an aesthetic discipline. We may not get people jobs or help people find housing, but we can help our students find a connection to and understanding of their emotions, and help them build emotional intelligence.

  20. 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.

  21. 4 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. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 4 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.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Scylla

    Near impossible to read, and not worth the effort.

  25. 5 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 secur 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.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kunyi Li

    Schiller's overview of his modernity is astute and fitting for our current ills. The benefit of this book is that even if you never heard of any obscure German musing you can still come to the conclusion, that he is spitting fire in every other paragraph and if you know what to do with this potent material you'd be a star or locked up today. To admit I had to skip over most of the Kant inspired metaphysical stuff in the middle because I only saw all the words in the Critique once and never inter Schiller's overview of his modernity is astute and fitting for our current ills. The benefit of this book is that even if you never heard of any obscure German musing you can still come to the conclusion, that he is spitting fire in every other paragraph and if you know what to do with this potent material you'd be a star or locked up today. To admit I had to skip over most of the Kant inspired metaphysical stuff in the middle because I only saw all the words in the Critique once and never interacted with it after. That's perhaps the only daunting part but the rest are very readable if you pretend every sentence is like a tweet with 100k+ likes. Schiller's milieu just did away with the honeymoon period of democracy, and men's barbarism (in the context of Schiller's distinction between savage and barbarian, which is also fuego in its own right) via the French Revolution warrants a critique of the Enlightenment and its earthly manifestations. I think in that way, Schiller cannot be faulted for reacting to a counterrevolutionary meme of his own time - similar to the current role of played by whatever early 20th century Germans came up with. To corrupt Schiller's project into a political manifesto is perhaps a major disservice. This work explicitly presented itself above the fray of politics and the labor of love shows through the effort of a very sensible man trying to carve out a "third way" between reason and the sensuous. Just take a breath and imagine things like Newt Gingrich or Infomercials have no place being in this promised land. I used to have a pet theory that everything in the self-help section from Chicken Soup for the Soul to Jordan Peterson is perhaps a commoditized version of of Nietzsche's Zarathustra + Will to Power + good timing with marketing piggybacking off whatever national malaise being blasted through the tubes. But now I strongly feel that if you do a good job misreading Schiller you can put people like Gladwell and Pinker right out of business -- if that's not what they do already. In the end this is probably closest to the hooky foundation of a self-help manual that tries to right the malaises of any era since modernity, though Schiller himself didn't lay out a 12-step program -- there is a head-nod to some kind of philosopher king curriculum but let's not kid ourselves trying to yank moldable eyes from the hyperreality of TikToks and 4K UHD. But I think if you are crazy enough to impose some kind of culturally authoritarian approach of education / child-rearing in the domain of your own casa, you might have a chance of raising a properly feeling and well-adjusted offspring (results not guaranteed post-Singularity though imo). Meanwhile for people already over 20: well this book presents an ideal that one could strive for albeit at the great cost of self-sacrifice that's probably rendered impossible by the demand of "intellectual incapacity and a feebleness of thought” inherent in the participation of trying to climb the capital orders. In any case, best book on retirement planning genre. If you are retired and not reading this you kinda missed the best thing reality had to offer since 1794.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bill Tyne

    The "letters" that form the basis of Schiller's thesis are somewhat patchy and uneven is style. A number of the letters seem to be wilfully obscure and the effort required to follow his thinking in those cases is seldom rewarded with anything insightful. At the same time Schiller frequently revists his arguments, often presenting them with greater clarity and simplicity (however not improving their validity one iota). The book feels very much like a special pleading for the importance of aesthet The "letters" that form the basis of Schiller's thesis are somewhat patchy and uneven is style. A number of the letters seem to be wilfully obscure and the effort required to follow his thinking in those cases is seldom rewarded with anything insightful. At the same time Schiller frequently revists his arguments, often presenting them with greater clarity and simplicity (however not improving their validity one iota). The book feels very much like a special pleading for the importance of aesthetics in the development of mankind towards a better more just and moral society and on that score I am less than convinced. The contortions taken to demonstrate how the aesthetic sensibility differs in it's essence from reason and sensation are ridiculous and the claims for it's ability (and it's ability alone) to bring us to the point of appreciating true humanity are far fetched. As a document on the difficulties that arose from the failure of the French Revolution (when many leading enlightenment figures drew back in horror at the violence and had to reassess their thinking) it is both interesting and important, as a philosophical text on aesthetics or a program aimed at bringing about a better society it is a a turgid mess.

  28. 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.

  29. 5 out of 5

    N

    The title of this works is comprehensively satisfied by the end of this essential work on the education of Man, broadly speaking. Despite Schiller pre-dating Hegel and the Frankfurt school, this book haunts their works from a distance with its dialectical method and otherwise ineffective and esoteric moments of political advocacy. I loved reading this, as it explains concepts like dialectics, state & bourgeois ideology, the division of labour, and some of Heidegger's key concepts. The dismantling The title of this works is comprehensively satisfied by the end of this essential work on the education of Man, broadly speaking. Despite Schiller pre-dating Hegel and the Frankfurt school, this book haunts their works from a distance with its dialectical method and otherwise ineffective and esoteric moments of political advocacy. I loved reading this, as it explains concepts like dialectics, state & bourgeois ideology, the division of labour, and some of Heidegger's key concepts. The dismantling and re-configuring of the reason/nature dichotomy proves convincing, and pushes for an aesthetic political project of re-invigorating the senses and the Mind, beyond the grind of appearances, simulacra, and the cause-effect relationship. Highly recommend.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sam Eccleston

    Genuinely brilliant. The prose lives up to your best expectations of an 18th century work- balanced, judicious, and elegant. Similarly the argument itself is archetypical of its age, combining careful rational architecture with psychological incisiveness and a certain Kantian mysticism; one can not help but think that Schiller is too little known. His reflections on the relationship between aesthetics and the moral Improvement that, to him, is a precondition of a just society may seem somewhat ov Genuinely brilliant. The prose lives up to your best expectations of an 18th century work- balanced, judicious, and elegant. Similarly the argument itself is archetypical of its age, combining careful rational architecture with psychological incisiveness and a certain Kantian mysticism; one can not help but think that Schiller is too little known. His reflections on the relationship between aesthetics and the moral Improvement that, to him, is a precondition of a just society may seem somewhat overblown to contemporary readers, and yet nevertheless his exploration of aesthetic experience offers a psychological profundity which is absent from many comparable accounts. Wonderful.

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