The Practices of the Enlightenment: Aesthetics, Authorship, and the Public (Columbia Themes in Philosophy, Social Criticism, and the Arts)

The Practices of the Enlightenment: Aesthetics, Authorship, and the Public (Columbia Themes in Philosophy, Social Criticism, and the Arts)

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: B00UCC6A32

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Rethinking the relationship between eighteenth-century pietistic traditions and Enlightenment thought and practice, The Practices of Enlightenment unravels the complex and often neglected religious origins of modern secular discourse. Mapping surprising routes of exchange between the religious and aesthetic writings of the period and recentering concerns of authorship and audience, this book revitalizes scholarship on the Enlightenment.

The study engages with three critical categories: aesthetics, authorship, and the public sphere, tracing the relationship between religious and aesthetic modes of reflective contemplation, autobiography and the hermeneutics of the self, and the discursive creation of the public sphere. Focusing largely on German intellectual life, this critical engagement also extends to France through Rousseau and to England through Shaftesbury. Rereading canonical works and lesser-known texts by Goethe, Lessing, and Herder, the book challenges common narratives recounting the rise of empiricist philosophy, the idea of the "sensible" individual, and the notion of the modern author as celebrity, bringing new perspective to the Enlightenment concepts of instinct, drive, genius, and the public sphere.

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The Practices of the Enlightenment: Aesthetics, Authorship, and the Public (Columbia Themes in Philosophy, Social Criticism, and the Arts)

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moment, and denies equal notice to the sun” (13). Genuine originality is not just a new fashion, but it is the freedom from all convention and fashion that makes it so striking, beautiful, noble and exotic. The exotic stranger arouses not so much marvel, admiration, pleasure, awe, or approval but, above all, the desire to learn news from a strange land, i.e., the distinctly modern passion of curiosity.3 The fact that the original captures our attention by being so different from all we know does

provide him with a source of religious instruction. This is how Goethe justifies for his readers his retelling of the Bible in that book: Someone might wish to ask why I am retelling these stories in such detail, when they are so universally known and have been repeated and analyzed so often. This person would perhaps accept the answer that I know no other way of demonstrating my ability to concentrate my mind and feelings on one subject and let it quietly affect me, despite my haphazard life and

experiential background to that kind of insight, for it explores at great length the youth’s learning process as he experiments with two distinct disguises as two kinds of live performance. The young man, who had heard much about the hospitality and amiability of the Brion family, decided he would not visit them attired as the law student from a well-off Frankfurt family that he really was, but instead chose the disguise of a poor, somewhat disheveled theology student. Then, on his second visit,

experiential background to that kind of insight, for it explores at great length the youth’s learning process as he experiments with two distinct disguises as two kinds of live performance. The young man, who had heard much about the hospitality and amiability of the Brion family, decided he would not visit them attired as the law student from a well-off Frankfurt family that he really was, but instead chose the disguise of a poor, somewhat disheveled theology student. Then, on his second visit,

2.) the ideas, which would already be part of common property; and 3.) the specific form, which would retain the work’s individualizing features, derived from the specific character of its author—was there a way of demanding an author’s copyright: The author would own the words in their unique articulation and should be granted legal protection for this kind of intellectual property by way of copyright. The concept of original genius as it became popular especially in Germany in the reception of

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