Schiller after Kant: The “Unexpected Science” of theBriefe über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen

  • 1 The University of Queensland, School of Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Brisbane St Lucia, QLD 4072, Queensland, Australien
Prof. Tim Mehigan
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  • The University of Queensland, School of Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Brisbane St Lucia, QLD 4072, Queensland, Australien
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In the Briefe über die Ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen, the focus of this article, Schiller’s ostensible aim – to complete Kant’s aesthetic theory – is progressively abandoned. The article examines the reasons for this abandonment. On the one hand, Schiller’s original purpose was overtaken by events in France. Schiller found that he could no longer sustain confidence in reason’s capacity to build a durable political republic. On the other hand, the alternative path he favours involves him in the expounding of an anthropology he did not set out to undertake. The Ästhetische Briefe, for this reason, finds itself adumbrating an “unexpected science” with little remaining reference to Kant – an account of the human being whose desirable future state, that of morality, can only be made secure by passage through the aesthetic state. A by-product of this argument, and perhaps its chief consequence, is that it finally settles the quarrel of the ancients and the moderns (in favour of the moderns).

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Kant-Studien is devoted to philosophical and historical studies on Kant and Kantian topics. The journal publishes a comprehensive bibliography of new works on Kant, and provides reviews of the most important books. It is thus the leading German and English language resource on the current state of Kant research.