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date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Concentrating on ‘The Oldest System-Programme of German Idealism’, this chapter argues that the significance of aesthetics for modern philosophy is adumbrated in Idealist and Romantic philosophical texts in ways which have often not been adequately appreciated. It is notoriously difficult to characterize Romanticism conclusively, but it undoubtedly has to do with tensions in the way the modern world is understood in the differing spheres of modern science, modern law and the state, and modern art. The difference between broadly construed German Idealist and early German Romantic philosophy is that the former seeks a philosophical account of how unity can be articulated through division, whereas the latter (exemplified by Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel) sees such unity as only accessible at all in our sense of failure when we strive to achieve definitive unity.

Keywords: Freedom, reason, aesthetics, idealism, Romantic philosophy, modernity, mythology, Germany

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