Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4

Contents

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pp. v-6

Abbreviations

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

Why aesthetics? the answer seems obvious: aesthetics exists — and is, in fact, necessary — because the aesthetic exists. It exists because there are objects — such as music, art, architecture, design, fashion, ballet, athletic competition — which we designate as sublime or...

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1. Sensibility: The Indeterminacy of the Imagination

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pp. 1-12

The history of aesthetic s begins with an act of repudiation: a repudiation of the notion that there can be a theory about or a positive knowledge of the beautiful. Aesthetics begins with Descartes’s doubt about its possibility. He writes to Marin Mersenne:...

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2. Praxis: The Practice of the Subject

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pp. 13-29

Je ne sais quoi — “I know not what” — was the answer rationalist philosophy gave to the question of what is going on in the domain of the senses. The subject, imagining ideas of a sensory nature, knows not what these are, and philosophy cannot know where such ideation comes...

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3. Play: The Operation of Force

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pp. 31-47

Critics since meier have praised Baumgarten as the “inventor” of aesthetics, who elaborated into a comprehensive theory Leibniz’s program of thinking unconscious sensibility as another “activity” propelled by an “internal principle.” Baumgarten chooses the concept of “sensible...

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4. Aestheticization: The Transformation of Praxis

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pp. 49-66

Man’s nature is aesthetic , because man’s nature, the ground of his soul, consists in the play of obscure forces. This is the fundamental tenet of Herder’s aesthetic anthropology. How does Herder know this? Obscure forces are essentially unconscious — which is why they...

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5. Aesthetics: Philosophy’s Contention

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pp. 67-80

The first paragraph of Baumgarten’s Aesthetics frames the task of conceiving Descartes’s domain of “sensibility” in positive terms — as the domain of both a par ticular and a legitimate form of cognition, cognitio sensitiva. “Aesthetics,” Baumgarten writes, “(theory of the liberal...

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6. Ethics: The Freedom of Self-Creation

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pp. 81-98

What constitutes the “ethical- political import” of the aesthetic?1 How does one solve “the problem” of finding the culture that is “appropriate to our music”2 and that would fit our aesthetic praxis and theory of art? In other words, how must a culture be constituted to be...

Notes

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pp. 99-111