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Classic and Romantic German Aesthetics (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)by Jay Bernstein
Synopses & Reviews
In this unflinching look at the experience of suffering and one of its greatest manifestations—torture—J.M. Bernstein critiques the repressions of traditional moral theory, showing that our morals are not immutable ideals but fragile constructions that depend on our experience of suffering itself. Morals, Bernstein argues, not only guide our conduct but also express the depth of mutual dependence that we share as vulnerable and injurable individuals.
Beginning with the attempts to abolish torture in the eighteenth century, and then sensitively examining what is suffered in torture and related transgressions, such as rape, Bernstein elaborates a powerful new conception of moral injury. Crucially, he shows, moral injury always involves an injury to the status of an individual as a person—it is a violent assault against his or her dignity. Elaborating on this critical element of moral injury, he demonstrates that the mutual recognitions of trust form the invisible substance of our moral lives, that dignity is a fragile social possession, and that the perspective of ourselves as potential victims is an ineliminable feature of everyday moral experience.
This volume brings together major works by German thinkers, writing just prior to and after Kant, who were enormously influential in this crucial period of aesthetics. They include the first translation into English of Schiller's Kallias Letters and Moritz's On the Artistic Imitation of the Beautiful, and new translations of some of Hölderlin's most important theoretical writings and works by Hamann, Lessing, Novalis and Schlegel. The volume also offers an introduction in which J. M. Bernstein places the works in their historical and philosophical context.
Torture and rape are only rarely considered by moral philosophers—because they are so indisputably morally atrocious acts and because their specific mode of suffering cannot be accounted for by reigning moral theories. By making them pivotal to the understanding of morality in general, however, Jay Bernsteins intention is to throw into question the dominant schools of modern moral philosophy and to attempt to restructure moral experience and understanding on the basis of the formations of suffering they make salient. Morals, Bernstein argues, emerge from the experience of moral injury, from the sufferings of the victims of moral harm. For us moderns, morality at its most urgent and insistent is, finally, a victim morality. This can sound hyperbolic; but since all of us are potential victims, it turns out that this perspective is readily available and intrinsic to ordinary ethical experience. One of Bernsteins pivotal arguments is that trust is a form of mutual recognition; that trust is the ethical substance of everyday life; and that understood aright trust is structured from the perspective of a potential victim of harm rather than from the perspective of a deliberating agent. This book promises to be a major contribution to moral philosophy.
This volume offers new translations of major works of classic and romantic German aesthetics.
This volume brings together major works by German thinkers who were extremely influential in the crucial period of aesthetics prior to and after Kant. It includes the first translation into English of Schiller's Kallias Letters and Moritz's on the Artistic Imitation of the Beautiful, and new translations of some of Hölderlin's most important theoretical writings and works by Hamann, Lessing, Novalis and Schlegel. The volume features an introduction in which J.M. Bernstein places the works in their historical and philosophical context.
About the Author
J. M. Bernstein is Professor of Philosophy at the New School University, New York.
Table of Contents
Hamann: Aesthetica in nuce; Lessing: Laöcoon; Moritz: On the Artistic Imitation of the Beautiful; Schiller: Kallias Letters; Hölderlin: Oldest Program for a System of German Idealism; Letter to Hegel; Being Judgement Possibility; The Significance of Tragedy; Remarks on Oedipus; Novalis: From Miscellaneous Remarks; Monologue; Dialogues; On Goethe; Studies in the Visual Arts; Schlegel: From 'Critical Fragments'; From 'Athenaeum Fragments'; From 'Ideas'; On Goethe's Meister; Letter about the Novel; On Incomprehensibility.
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