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74105-01 - Seminar: British Aesthetics in the Eighteenth Century 3 KP

Semester Herbstsemester 2024
Angebotsmuster einmalig
Inhalt From a historical perspective, Aesthetics as an independent discipline, was formally established by
Alexander Baumgarten’s seminal oeuvre Aesthetica and with Immanuel Kant’s Critique of the Power of
Judgement it became part and parcel of philosophy and the philosophical enterprise. However, the term
coined and formed and carved out by Eighteenth century German philosophers runs through all the
history of philosophy from Plato until Baumgarten. More specifically, the chronological and historical
forerunners of Aesthetics as a discipline is British Aesthetics of seventeenth and eighteenth century.
The century of taste, to borrow the title of George Dickie’s work – but not necessarily the latter’s approach
– is marked by numerous British philosophers, men of letters, essayists and thinkers who prepared
the ground and discovered the unbeaten tracks to be traversed and cultivated later by their German
colleagues. Moreover, apart from known figures like David Hume, Edmund Burke and later,
Wordsworth, many lesser known but significant figures of Eighteenth century British aesthetics are
not often studied as key figures for the formation and the birth of the discipline in the second half of
Eighteenth century in Germany. Many of these figures though have played a significant role not only
for the formation of the discipline but more importantly, they have been constant interlocutors and
points of reference for the formation of Immanuel Kant’s reflections on taste, the power of judgement
and aesthetics. Among these one can at least name Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Third Earl of
Shaftesbury, Joseph Addison, Edmund Burke, and Francis Hutcheson. A deep understanding of the
Kantian aesthetics as one of the founding pillars of the history of aesthetics, necessitates then going
back in history and exploring the lesser known figures and their significant contributions to the
discipline in general and to Kantian aesthetic in particular. If Kantian transcendental idealism and
critical project was motivated by a deep critical engagement with Wolffian and Leibnizian metaphysics,
he owes his aesthetic reflection to his British forerunners.
In this course we propose a historical reconstruction of British aesthetics from this specific angel.
Hence, we will trace the main paths of British aesthetics in Eighteenth century with a specific
orientation towards their dialogue with their German successors. We will divide British thinkers to
three groups and here we follow Timothy Costelloe’s principle of division; namely, Internal Sense
theorists, Imagination theorists and Association theorists. From each group of thinkers we will choose
those figures whose thoughts have had a remarkable echo in Eighteenth century German aesthetics.
Moreover, we will focus our attention on the formation of two categories for reflecting on aesthetics,
namely, the beautiful and the sublime with the hypothesis that tracing the latter category can reveal to us
various aspects of the birth of modern aesthetics, especially the relation between aesthetics and
metaphysics, aesthetics and teleology and aesthetics and ethics, as well as politics. If we partially agree
with Barnett Newman in his essay-manifesto The Sublime is Now, that the sublime shows the inherent
paradox of the beautiful as a struggle with and a flight towards the absolute and the inherent rupture
between the beautiful and the absolute (beauty), then the history of the emergence of this category in
British aesthetics of seventeenth and eighteenth century, as well as the traces and the roles of these
founders in and for German aesthetics of Eighteenth century, especially for Kantian aesthetics, can
shed a new light on our reflections on and engagement with the sublime– artists and philosophers
alike – from a critical perspective.
Lernziele Our aim is not to explore the entirety of Eighteenth century British aesthetics; but first and foremost,
to address figures who do not emerge on every book on the history of aesthetics and these, through
a certain prism, that of the emergence of the sublime along with the beautiful and their resonances in
Kantian aesthetics which will be briefly sketched at the end of this seminar. We will aim for a close
reading of the key passages of the above-mentioned texts, conjoined by contemporary secondary
literature on them.
Literatur Hence, the texts and authors that we will try to read are the following:
Anthony Ashley Cooper (Shaftesbury), The Moralists: A Philosophical Rhapsody
Francis Hutcheson, Inquiry into the Original of Beauty and Virtue
Joseph Addison, The Spectator
Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and the Beautiful
Henry Homes (Lord Kames), Elements of Criticism
Doglas Stewart, Philosophical Essays
passages from Immanuel Kant’s Observations and the Critique of the Power of Judgement
Bemerkungen Dozentin: Golnar Narimani


Unterrichtssprache Englisch
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Intervall Wochentag Zeit Raum

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Module Modul: Klassiker der Praktischen Philosophie (Bachelor Studienfach: Philosophie)
Leistungsüberprüfung Lehrveranst.-begleitend
An-/Abmeldung zur Leistungsüberprüfung Anmelden: Belegen; Abmelden: nicht erforderlich
Wiederholungsprüfung keine Wiederholungsprüfung
Skala Pass / Fail
Wiederholtes Belegen nicht wiederholbar
Zuständige Fakultät Philosophisch-Historische Fakultät, studadmin-philhist@unibas.ch
Anbietende Organisationseinheit Fachbereich Philosophie