Diotima's Children: German Aesthetic Rationalism from by Frederick C. Beiser

By Frederick C. Beiser

Diotima's young children is a second look of the rationalist culture of aesthetics which prevailed in Germany within the past due 17th and eighteenth century. it truly is partially an historic survey of the valuable figures and topics of this practice however it is additionally a philosophical security of a few of its prime rules, viz., that good looks performs an quintessential function in lifestyles, that aesthetic excitement is the notion of perfection, that aesthetic ideas are inevitable and necessary. It indicates that the criticisms of Kant and Nietzsche of this practice are mostly unfounded. The rationalist culture merits second look since it is of serious historic value, marking the start of contemporary aesthetics, artwork feedback, and paintings heritage.

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3. Analysis of Sense Crucial for Leibniz’s aesthetic views is his account of sensible qualities in general. While Leibniz did not limit beauty to the pleasures of sense, he fully recognized that many characteristic aesthetic qualities are sensible. Leibniz’s account of sensible qualities is fundamental for the entire rationalist aesthetic tradition, especially for those who held that beauty is a sensible pleasure. ²¹ Rather than understanding only these qualities, as empiricists hold, we understand them less than any other.

Hence Ernst Cassirer has written: ‘‘The aesthetic motive plays no decisive role in the construction of ¹ See Herder’s Gott, Einige Gespr¨ache, in S¨amtliche Werke, ed. B. Suphan, 33 vols. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1881–1913), XVI, 458–64; and Schelling’s Ideen zu einer Philosophie der Natur, in S¨amtliche Werke, ed. K. F. A. Schelling, 14 vols. (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1856), II, 20. ’’² Taken at its face value, Cassirer’s assessment is entirely correct. Leibniz’s participation in the aesthetic discussions and disputes of his day was negligible; and it played little or no role in the development of his thought.

Hence pleasure is not only a feeling but also a cognitive state, a representation of something in reality itself, namely, its perfection, its unity in diversity or harmony. ¹² See also ‘De existentia’, from De summa rerum, AA VI/3, 588; ‘Elementa juris naturalis’, AA VI/1, 484; ‘Elementa verae pietatis’, AA VI/4, 1358; and ‘De affectibus’, AA VI/4, 1415. ¹³ L 137. ¹⁴ ‘‘. . pleasure is nothing but the feeling of an increase of perfection . ’’, from ‘Two Dialogues on Religion’, L 218; ‘‘. . pleasure is nothing but the feeling of perfection’’, from ‘Reflections on the Common Concept of Justice’, L 569; and ‘‘Pleasure is the feeling of a perfection or an excellence, whether in ourselves or in something else’’, from ‘On Wisdom’, L 425; ‘‘I believe that fundamentally pleasure is a sense of perfection, and pain a sense of imperfection, each being notable enough for one to become aware of it’’, from Nouveaux Essais, G V, 180.

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