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15 - Aesthetics and politics

from III - Modern liberty and its critics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2011

Douglas Moggach
Affiliation:
University of Ottawa
Gareth Stedman Jones
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
Gregory Claeys
Affiliation:
Royal Holloway, University of London
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Summary

According to Hegel, the central discovery of the Enlightenment is that everything exists for the subject (Hegel 1971, pp. 332–3). This theoretical shift, from ideas of a fixed natural or social order towards subjective utility and freedom, occurs in conjunction with political challenges to the old regime in Europe, and the emergence of modern civil society. While the underlying social changes can be treated only allusively here, the intellectual legacy of the Enlightenment is that values and institutions must be critically authenticated as corresponding to subjects’ own insights (C. Taylor 1991, pp. 81–91), and that traditional forms of life must cede to relations sanctioned by reason, whereby subjects attain a growing ascendancy over natural and social processes which inhibit their autonomous self-determination.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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