19th Century Romantic Aesthetics

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2016)

Keren Gorodeisky
Auburn University
The entry aims to explain a core feature of otherwise different variants of romanticism: the commitment to “the primacy of aesthetics.” This commitment is often expressed by the claim that the “aesthetic”—most broadly that which concerns beauty and art—should permeate and shape human life. The entry proposes that this romantic imperative should be understood as a structural or formal demand. On that reading, the romantic imperative requires that we model our epistemological, metaphysical, ethical, political, social and scientific pursuits according to the form of the aesthetic comportment to the world, exemplified in poetry. Rather than aiming to replace “real” life, science and philosophy with poetry, the romantics urge human beings to fashion their ordinary lives and to do science and philosophy according to the model provided by poetry. Philosophy, science and everyday life need not be poetry, but poetic or poetry-like. Structurally, they should become similar. Why so? The main task of this entry is to offer an answer to this question and to show that the reasons for “poeticizing” life, science and philosophy are themselves philosophical.
Keywords Aesthetics  Romanticism
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