Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 September 2009
This book situates Kant's aesthetic theory within the context of his overall philosophical enterprise and also within German aesthetic theory of the eighteenth century. Although the aim of the book is not primarily historical, I have found it useful to frame the analysis of Kant's theory of imagination historically, by locating his views within a line of German aestheticians from the early German Enlightenment through early German Romanticism. Kant is not often viewed as an advocate of the didactic value of aesthetics nor as a precursor to early German Romanticism, but the chapters at the beginning and end of the book (chapters 1 and 7) argue that these are important aspects of his aesthetic project. In so doing they situate Kant's aesthetic theory between rationalist aesthetic pedagogy and early German romantic aesthetics in a way that brings into relief certain commonalities of these otherwise very different theories. Given a prevailing attitude that casts Romanticism as an irrationalist mysticism with sinister inheritors, connecting it to rationalist philosophies at all may sound implausible. This book aims to show that by focussing on certain important but neglected aspects of Kant's aesthetic theory, a window is opened on the common link between both perspectives in German aesthetic theory of the eighteenth century. That link is the recognition and gradual elevation of the power of imagination.