by Douglas Moggach
The project aims to clarify the philosophical sources and political implications of eighteenth and nineteenth century aesthetics, where significant modern ideas of the self, in relation to nature, society, and the constructed environment, emerge. Emphasizing German thought from Leibniz to Hegel, the project examines the concepts of form, formative activity, spontaneity, perfection, and freedom. It studies the relations among Enlightenment thought, post-Kantian German idealism, and the varieties of Romanticism, attempting to show how different types of Romantic thinking respond to specific philosophical problems.
The oppositions that emerge within these traditions, between expressive, ironic, and ethical senses of the self and of freedom, continue to be relevant to recent discussions of politics, art, and social and economic life. Tracing the history of these ideas gives us a better vantage point for understanding and participating in contemporary political debates.