The Topography of Modernity
Karl Philipp Moritz and the Space of Autonomy
Publication Year: 2012
Karl Philipp Moritz (d. 1793) was one of the most innovative writers of the late Enlightenment in Germany. A novelist, travel writer, editor, and teacher he is probably best known today for his autobiographical novel Anton Reiser (1785-90) and for his treatises on aesthetics, foremost among them Über die bildende Nachahmung des Schönen (On the Formative Imitation of the Beautiful), published in 1788. In this treatise, Moritz develops the concept of aesthetic autonomy, which became widely known after Goethe included a lengthy excerpt of it in his own Italian Journey (1816-17). It was one of the foundational texts of Weimar classicism, and it became pivotal for the development of early Romanticism.
In The Topography of Modernity, Elliott Schreiber gives Moritz the credit he deserves as an important thinker beyond his contributions to aesthetic theory. Indeed, he sees Moritz as an incisive early observer and theorist of modernity. Considering a wide range of Moritz's work including his novels, his writings on mythology, prosody, and pedagogy, and his political philosophy and psychology, Schreiber shows how Moritz's thinking developed in response to the intellectual climate of the Enlightenment and paved the way for later social theorists to conceive of modern society as differentiated into multiple, competing value spheres.
Published by: Cornell University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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This is a book about institutions, and I am appreciative of the support of two in particular that have helped make it possible. The Department of Germanic Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington, provided substantial fi nancial support for my research. Vassar College granted me a generous stipend through the Louise Boyd Dale Fund for Research Assistance that enabled me to complete the present book....
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In 1785, the journal Berlinische Monatschrift published a short essay that revo-lutionized aesthetic theory. The work of art, it contends, co mprises a whole that is absolutely complete in itself. That is to say, in contrast to the mechanical arts, works of fi ne art serve no external purpose; rather, each is guided solely by an inner pur-posiveness. Five years before Immanuel Kant’s Third Critique, then, this succinct ...
part iThe Spaces of Art and Myth
1Toward an Aesthetics of theSublime Augenblick
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One of the hallmarks of modernity is its restless and relentless pace of change, whose origins social historians have traced to the second half of the eighteenth cen-tury.1 Already before the seismic shifts of the French Revolution, there emerged in Germany a conception of Neuzeit, a time that was felt to be always radically new.2 The pace of change was fi rst set in this period not by a political revolution, ...
2Beyond an Aesthetics of Containment
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Together with the sense of a new, accelerated time, the reading revolution in the eighteenth century also provoked a widespread fear among producers and consum-ers of texts: the fear that reading, and in particular the consumption of sentimen-tal novels, overstimulate the imagination. Such inner turmoil, it was felt, rocked the foundations of individual well-being, and furthermore threatened society as a ...
part iiThe Spaces of Cognitionand Education
3Laying the Foundation forIndependent Thought
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In 1778, when Moritz completed his studies at the University of Wittenberg, a pedagogical reform movement was sweeping through Germany. Founded by Johann Bernhard Basedow and drawing on a long line of Enlightenment thought, the Philanthropist movement promoted a method of education that fostered the natural order of children’s cognitive development. The Philanthropists attacked ...
4Thinking inside the Box
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In 1785, toward the end of his career as a schoolteacher and the year before his departure for Italy, Moritz published a two-tiered critique of Philanthropism.1 To begin with, his novel Andreas Hartknopf: Eine Allegorie extends the line of antiau-thoritarian critique examined in chapter 3, applying it to the Philanthropist move-ment as a whole. In so doing, his novel targets not the Philanthropist principle of ...
part iiiThe Spaces of the Politicaland the Individual
5Raising (and Razing) theCommon House
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In addition to an epistemological and pedagogical critique, the Kinderlogik also mounts a keen political critique. In his discussion of the fi fth and sixth copperplates, Moritz returns to the fi gure of the house but employs it in a new manner, as a metaphor for the state. He uses it to distinguish between two opposing forms of government: “Let us think of the house as the institution [Einrichtung] of ...
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Although it seems counterintuitive, social historians have argued that the bourgeois public sphere in the eighteenth century arises out of the private domain. According to Jürgen Habermas’s genealogy in The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, the public sphere in its fi rst, apolitical form is born in the world of letters in a “process of self-enlightenment of private people focusing on the genu-...
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The topographical projects of the Enlightenment tend to totalize. This tendency characterizes, for instance, the work of one the most renowned German geographers of the second half of the eighteenth century, Anton Friedrich Büsch-ing, the director of the Gymnasium zum Grauen Kloster in Berlin where Moritz was a teacher until 1786. By the time of his death in 1793 (the same year as Mor-...
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Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Signale : modern German letters, cultures, and thought