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It inspires and guides us in seeing nature as purposively organized—organized as if according to a specific purpose—even though we cannot attribute this purposive structure to any will, creator, or any end-governed activity:. That which reminds us of nature and thus stimulates a feeling for the infinite abundance of life is beautiful. Nature is organic, and therefore, the highest beauty is forever vegetative; and the same is true for morality and love. While this view is to be found in the third Critique , the romantics went a few steps further than Kant: first, they considered purposiveness, teleological structure and life real features of nature, rather than regulative principles for approaching nature.

Second, they took these features to indicate that nature is different from self-conscious, creative human beings only in degree, but not in kind: like human beings, nature is end-governed. It is beauty, above all, that inspires this realization. The more we properly attend to beauty and art the more capable we would be of seeing nature and humanity as different aspects of a single, unified phenomenon:.

Actually criticism …that doctrine which in the study of nature directs our attention to ourselves…and in the study of ourselves directs it to the outside world, to outer observations and experiments—is…the most fruitful of all indications. It allows us to sense nature, or the outside world , like a human being.

Novalis, General Draft : Not only did modern science portray nature as a brute domain of mechanism, and thus devoid of any awe-inspiring power, but it also rendered it completely transparent to the human mind, and thus lacking in the kind of mystery and magic that may inspire awe in a secular world. Changing our attitude towards nature and inspiring awe for it requires that we recover a sense of mystery and magic in nature, and, indeed, in everything ordinary, in everything that we have come to take for granted.

Romanticizing is nothing other than a qualitative raising into higher power….

Keats' Poems

By giving a higher meaning to the ordinary, a mysterious appearance to the ordinary, the dignity of the unacquainted to that of which we are acquainted, the mere appearance of infinity to finite, I romanticize them. By its non-ordinary use of language, attention to details and evoking power, poetry brings out in vivid colors what we are usually blind to, even if it is, literally, the closest and most familiar to us.

Poetry has the power to make the most familiar new, refreshing, and thus, other than familiar—different and even mysterious. Like Novalis, Wordsworth is one of the first proponents of romanticizing in this sense.

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Preface to the Lyrical Ballads. While romantic irony is the basis for a way of life that is centered on humility, it also paves the way for awe and reverence for it suggests that there is much beyond our comprehension, much that remains mysterious, incomprehensible, greater than our capacities and possibly infinite rather than finite like us. There is much around us that merits awe.

A sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean, and the living air, And the blue sky, in the mind of man, A motion and a spirit, that impels, All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things. With far deeper zeal Of holier love. Through the romantic lens, then, nature becomes alive and a locus of Spirit.

Rather than an alien force, nature speaks to us as we speak to it and to each other. Nature is a temple where living columns Sometimes let confused words come out; Man walks through these forests of symbols Which observe him with a familiar gaze. This is liberating and re-enchanting, but it also puts certain demands on us, for example, the demands to love nature as we love other human beings:.

Oh, most magnificent and noble Nature! Have I not worshipped thee with such a love As never mortal man before displayed? Adored thee in thy majesty of visible creation, And searched into thy hidden and mysterious ways As Poet, as Philosopher, as Sage? As eccentric as the romantic call to poeticize nature and science may initially seem, it is arguably of relevance today. The organic and re-enchanted conception of nature did not only anticipate some currents in the modern ecological movement, but it also contains resources for further developments in contemporary environmental philosophy and philosophy of science.

While there are very interesting and well-established connections between romantic aesthetics and modernism see Abrams , Frye , Cavell , this section focuses on the attempt to draw a link between the former and postmodernism, a link whose ground is significantly weaker. In recent decades, a large number of romantic scholars have argued that romanticism, in general, and the romantic primacy of aesthetics, in particular, is a precursor of the fundamental outlook of postmodernist and poststructuralist views see, for example, Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy , Bowie , Bowman , and Gasche Some lines in romanticism—skepticism about foundationalist philosophy and system-building, the emphasis on human creation, language, and the role of historicism and hermeneutics—are indeed related to certain strands in postmodernism.

But reading romantic aesthetics as proto-postmodernist is limited for a host of reasons. Second, in spite of the romantic stress on the fragmentary nature of human experience embodied in their choice of the aphoristic style, which is emphasized by their post-modernist readers , the romantics never gave up the striving after unity and wholeness.

The Romantic period

Art was not meant as a replacement for unity, but exactly as the best way to strive after and approximate unity in our modern and fragmentary condition. For the philosopher…art is supreme, for it opens to him the holiest of holies, where that which is separated in nature and history, and which can never be united either in life and action or in thought, burns as though in a single flame in eternal and primordial unity.

Schelling, System of Transcendental Philosophy , , in Heath For such a desire is anathema to most post-modernist thinkers, who resist and shun the possibility and desirability of any absolute reality. Fortunately, this interpretation does not force itself on us since there are many other charitable and historically, textually and philosophically well-grounded readings of the proclamations just mentioned and of the romantic primacy of the aesthetics.

The Romantics - Talking in Your Sleep

Many of these readings were proposed in this entry under the umbrella of the formal approach to romantic aesthetics. Arguably, romantic aesthetics is not of merely historical interest. Its tremendous impact on generations to come all the way up to the present day is one explanation of the difficulty of precisely delimiting when the age of romanticism begins and when it ends.

Indeed, rather than a post-romantic age, our age may be yet another phase in the age of romanticism:. Romanticism…is the first major phase in an imaginative revolution which has carried on until our own day, and has by no means completed itself yet. Frye 15; see also, Larmore All citations from these German editions are cited by these abbreviations, and are followed by the volume, page and, when relevant, fragment numbers. The Primacy of the Aesthetic 2. Aesthetics and Reason 2. Aesthetics, Epistemology and Metaphysics 3.

Aesthetics, Ethics and Politics 4. Aesthetics and Nature 5. The Primacy of the Aesthetic One common concern strikingly unifies otherwise different romantic contributions. Similar sentiments and slogans had been expressed just a little earlier in what is commonly regarded as the manifesto of German romanticism, The Oldest Programme : The idea that unites everyone [is] the idea of beauty …I am now convinced that the highest act of reason, by encompassing all ideas, is an aesthetic act, and that truth and goodness are siblings only in beauty. How is this core feature of romantic aesthetics, the primacy of the aesthetic, to be explained?

Accordingly, what Coleridge, for example, admired in Wordsworth was not imagination and feeling alone, but the union of deep feeling with profound thought; the fine balance of truth in observing with the imaginative faculty in modifying the objects observed. Without the former, human beings would be reduced to mere animality; without the latter they would lose their humanity: We cannot deny the drive to free ourselves, to ennoble ourselves, to progress into the infinite.

Schlegel, KA Rather than dismissing the role and the significance of reason as such, the romantics challenged merely certain uses of reason—for example, dogmatic uses of reason, the laying down of absolute foundations, and system-building. Schlegel, WM: The transcendental nature of romantic poetry suggests that it does not transcend merely the boundaries of a particular genre, but even the boundaries of the literary as such.

It is a creative and reflective human power, manifested in the theoretical, practical and aesthetic aspects of life: transcendental poetry…really embraces all transcendental functions…. Novalis, Logological Fragments : 41 Romantic poetry is not alone in exposing the conditions of finite existence, but accompanied by an ironic way of living.

For it is, after all, for the artist as well as the man, the first and the last, the most necessary and the highest duty…most necessary because wherever one does not restrict oneself, one is restricted by the world; and that makes one a slave. CF: 37 Everyone, then, not only the writer, should be ironic. Aesthetics, Epistemology and Metaphysics Even a cursory glance through the writings of the romantics assures the reader that their interest in art and aesthetics is closely tied to their epistemological and metaphysical concerns.

As Novalis memorably puts it: We seek the unconditioned [ Das Ubedingte ] and always find only [conditioned] things [ Dinge ]. Baudelaire summarizes these romantic sentiments, declaring, The one who says romanticism says modern art—which is to say intimacy, spirituality, color, aspiration towards the infinite—expressed by all the resources of art. Salon of [] What is it about the aesthetic engagement with art and beauty that is particularly suitable for approximating the Absolute? And they found it in poetry, regarding it as grounded in feeling: Not art and artworks make the artist, but feeling and inspiration and impulse.

Schlegel, CF: 63 Poetry is passion. Schlegel, WM: That means that beauty makes demands on us, demands that, according to the romantics, are analogous to the demands that other persons make on us. AK 5: Aesthetic feeling is open-ended and future-oriented. Instead, philosophy should be aesthetically shaped, as an open-ended pursuit: If knowledge of the infinite is itself infinite, therefore always only incomplete, imperfect, then philosophy as a science can never be completed closed and perfect, it can always only strive for these high goals, and try all possible ways to come closer and closer to them.

The artwork is a good model for such an ideal insofar as it is, according to the romantics, an organic and harmonious whole of diverse and even conflicting parts: Poetry…must be a harmonious mood of our mind…where everything finds its proper aspect…. It was needed, not only for the sake of independent individual responsibility, but also for the possibility of a genuine non-revolutionary republic: There is no greater need of the age than the need for a spiritual counterweight to the Revolution and to the despotism which the Revolution exercises over people….

Enneagram 4 - The Romantic • The Narrative Enneagram

Schlegel, Ideas : 41 The French revolution had shown the romantics both the value of a republic based on liberty, equality and fraternity, but also the dangers of anarchism and strife that revolutions carry with them. Autonomy and Bildung , in particular, though nothing other than individual freedom and self-realization, can never be divorced from the social: Autonomy should be universal and not relate to the individual but the whole, for otherwise it would destroy itself…. TPL II: On the romantic picture, the achievement of free, fully-formed individuality is impossible independently of strong sociality and vice versa.

Rather than contradictory impulses, as they are often regarded today, sociality and individuality, on the romantic picture, are not only compatible but also naturally harmonious—grounded in human nature: [ 6 ] No man is merely man, but…at the same time he can and should be genuinely and truly all mankind. Schlegel, DP: 54 It is this romantic view of natural human sociability—rather than some exaggerated zeal or effusiveness—that explains and is explained by the centrality of love in romanticism. Schlegel, TPL II: , and as the proper basis for a genuine sociable but pluralistic community: Yes, love, you power of attraction of the spiritual world!

Poetry is not only based in love, but is itself a form of love insofar as it bonds different individuals: Poetry befriends and binds with unseverable ties the hearts of all those who love it. The poet integrates: his part with the entire body of poetry…. Schlegel, AF: The ideal political community must also be characterized by a specific kind of relation between the political body as a whole and its members: the state should be an organic or holistic whole, which means most broadly that the state as a whole must be prior to the parts see Beiser When genuine, art is characterized exactly by the kind of holistic, organic, but egalitarian and pluralistic unity that must characterize the ideal community: Many works that are praised for the beauty of their coherence have less unity than a motley heap of ideas simply animated by the ghost of a spirit and aiming at a single purpose.

Schlegel, CF: An organic state is called for also because the mechanistic structure of the modern state is responsible for the decline of religion. Schleiermacher confirms and develops this connection when suggesting that poets are: the true priests of the Highest…. But, while still involving democratic elements, a proper republic, they argued should also involve aristocratic and monarchical elements because the educated should rule over the uneducated: A perfect republic would have to be not just democratic but aristocratic and monarchic at the same time: to legislate justly and freely, the educated would have to outweigh and guide the uneducated, and everything would have to be organized into an absolute whole.

Schlegel, AF: Rather than opposed to the original romantic ideal, this late view is a natural outgrowth of the earlier ideal since it does not only maintain the early republicanism, but also continues, through modification, the early romantic emphasis on Bildung as a necessary condition for a proper republic.

Ritter, Fragmente 2: 5.


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Artworks and natural beauties are analogous to organisms in various respects. For them, great poetry is materially and not merely formally organic: The innate impulse of this work [ Wilhelm Meister ], so organized and organizing down to its finest detail to form a whole.