This text provides a detailed philosophical study of Schiller's major work in aesthetics, the "Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795). The introduction surveys those books in English which have chapters on the treatise, and concludes with an outline of Kant's critical system and a summary of his theories of aesthetic judgment, art and beauty. The main body of the work consists of an exegesis of Schiller's text. Its 27 "Letters" are divided, for convenience, into three parts. In Part One (Letters 1-9), Schiller describes the afflictions of civilization and their cure. From a critique of contemporary society, he argues for a political revolution resting upon the psycho-ethical reform of the individual. Such reform involves feeling becoming harmonized with reason, through the educative power of beauty and art. In Part Two (Letters 10-17), he considers the essential nature of man and beauty. He constructs an "a priori" model of our fundamental human nature, and asserts the need for a corresponding model of ideal beauty, if man's dual nature is to be fully realized in a harmoniously integrated manner.
In Part Three (Letters 18-27), Schiller describes the psychological development of the individual and species from a sensuous to a rational condition, through the mediation of the aesthetic. The exposition is accompanied by assessment and criticism; attention is given to Schiller's changing methodology; and Schiller's ideas and theoretical perspectives are related, where derivative, to those of Kant and Fichte. The conclusion commences with a recapitulation of the main arguments in each Letter. This is followed by an evaluation of the "Aesthetic Letters", identifying those specific theories of contemporary relevance, and with the potential for further theoretical development.
Publisher: The Edwin Mellen Press Ltd