The Dialectics of Aesthetic Agency Revaluating German Aesthetics from Kant to Adorno

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-02-28
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

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This study examines how key figures in the German aesthetic tradition Kant, Schelling, Friedrich Schlegel, Hegel, and Adorno attempted to think through the powers and limits of art in post-Enlightenment modernity. Ayon Maharaj argues that the aesthetic speculations of these thinkers provide the conceptual resources for a timely dialectical defense of "aesthetic agency" art's capacity to make available uniquely valuable modes of experience that escape the purview of Enlightenment scientific rationality. Blending careful philosophical analysis with an intellectual historian's attention to the broader cultural resonance of philosophical arguments, Maharaj has two interrelated aims. He provides challenging new interpretations of the aesthetic philosophies of Kant, Schelling, Schlegel, Hegel, and Adorno by focusing on aspects of their thought that have been neglected or misunderstood in Anglo-American and German scholarship. He demonstrates that their subtle investigations into the nature and scope of aesthetic agency have far-reaching implications for contemporary discourse on the arts. The Dialectics of Aesthetic Agencyis an important and original contribution to scholarship on the German aesthetic tradition and to the broader field of aesthetics.

Author Biography

Ayon Maharaj is Assistant Professor in the Departments of Philosophy and English at Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University in West Bengal, India. He was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and the University of Oxford.

Table of Contents

Preface \ Acknowledgements \ Abbreviations of Primary Texts \ Introduction: The Crisis of Art in Modernity \ 1. Aporias of Aesthetic Pleasure in Kant’s ‘Analytic of the Beautiful’ \ 2. The "Great Gulf" of the Third Critique: Kant's Ambivalence about the Role of Aesthetic Pleasure in Moral Life\ 3. Kant Romanticized: Aesthetic Intuition as Redemption in Schelling’s System of Transcendental Idealism \ 4. Hegel contra Schlegel: On the Aporetic Epistemology of Romantic Irony \ 5. Art’s ‘After’ and the Dialectical Possibilities of Irony in Hegel’s Lectures on Aesthetics \ 6. The Idealist Legacy: Adorno’s Dialectical Retrieval of Aesthetic Agency in Aesthetic Theory \ Epilogue: Art as Force: From Critical Suspicion to Dialectical Immanence \ Notes \ Bibliography \ Index

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