"Seachranaiche os cionn Cuan a' Cheò" le Caspar David FRIEDRICH (1818)
§ 2 - MI-RÀISEANTACHAS ESTÈTIGEACH ANN AN IDÈAL DAONNAIREACH NA PEARSANTACHD. IDÈAL AN "ANMA BHÒIDHICH". LEUDACHADH MOTAIBH NA SAORSA ANN AN NUA-FHEALLSANACHD NA BEATHA AGUS A THEANNAS PÒLARACH LE IDÈAL AN T-SAIDHEINS.
§ 2 - AESTHETIC IRRATIONALISM IN THE HUMANISTIC IDEAL OF PERSONALITY. THE IDEAL OF THE "BEAUTIFUL SOUL". ELABORATION OF THE IRRATIONALIST FREEDOM-MOTIVE IN THE MODERN PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE AND ITS POLAR TENSION WITH THE SCIENCE-IDEAL.
So much the stronger does the irrationalist turn in the Humanistic ideal of personality assert itself in the feeling-philosophy of "Sturm and Drang" and in early Romanticism. From the outset, this tendency proceeds in an aesthetic direction. Here, KANT's "Critique of Aesthetic Judgment", with its orientation of the aesthetic judgment to free feeling and with its recognition of the absolute individual value of the genius, offered an immediate point of contact.
SCHILLER and KANT's "Critique of Aesthetic Judgment". Aesthetic idealism. The influence of SHAFTESBURY.
SCHILLER transformed this theory into an aesthetic idealism, in which the aesthetic aspect of meaning is elevated to the rank of the deepest root of reality. Behind KANT's influence on this point, there was here at work SHAFTESBURY's aesthetic ethics of virtuosity. As CASSIRER (1) has shown, SHAFTESBURY's aesthetics had a decisive significance for KANT's own aesthetic views.
(1) CASSIRER, Die Philosophie der Aufklärung (1932), p. 426 ff.
Even in SHAFTESBURY (1671-1713), the Humanistic ideal of personality, in an irrationalist transformation of the Greek ideal of καλοκάγαθον, was converted into the principle of aesthetic morality of the genius, turning against every supra-individual norm and law. True morality does not consist in the rule of general maxims, nor in the subjection of subjectivity to a universal norm, but in a harmonious, aesthetic self-realization of the total individuality.
The highest disclosure of the sovereign personality in the moral realm is virtuosity, which allows no single power and instinctive tendency in the individual talent to languish, but brings them all into aesthetic harmony by means of a perfect practice of life, and thereby realizes the happiness of the individual as well as the welfare of the entire society. In the nature of the case, this ethics of virtuosity cannot find the source of moral knowledge in the rational functions directed to general laws, but only in the subjective depths of individual feeling. Accordingly, morality was brought under a subjective and aesthetic basic denominator. The morally good was regarded as the beautiful in the world of practical volition and action: according to SHAFTESBURY, the good, like the beautiful, consists in a harmonious unity of the manifold, in a complete unfolding of that which slumbers in the individual nature as subjective talent. It is, just like the beautiful, the object of an original approbation, rooted in the deepest being of man: thus "taste" becomes the basic faculty for ethics as well as for aesthetics.
This aesthetic philosophy of feeling has acquired a profound influence, even though HUTCHESON and the Scottish school replaced the absolutism of individuality in SHAFTESBURY by the absolutism of law, characteristic of the rationalistic types of the Humanistic cosmonomic Idea. As we saw before, the turn that ROUSSEAU gave to the Humanistic freedom-motive, in the emancipation of personality from the grip of the science-ideal, rests essentially on a mobilizing of the undepraved natural feeling against the sober analysing understanding of the Enlightenment-period. [Deze aesthetische gevoelsphilosophie heeft, gelijk bekend, een diepgaanden invloed gehad, ook al werd bij HUTCHESON en de Schotsche school de individualiteitshypostase van SHAFTESBURY weder vervangen door de wetshypostase der rationalistische typen der humanistische wetsidee. De wending, die ROUSSEAU aan het humanistisch persoonlijkheidsideaal gaf in de emancipeering van de persoonlijkheid uit de omklemming van het wetenschapsideaal, berust, gelijk wij vroeger zagen, in wezen op een mobiliseering van het onverdorven natuurlijk gevoel tegen het nuchtere analyseerend verstand der verlichtingsperiode. (WdW Boek I p430)].
With the Dutch philosopher, FRANZ HEMSTERHUYS, and the philosophers of life of the "Sturm and Drang" this philosophy of feeling recaptures its original, irrationalist character, disclosing itself in an absolutizing of the aesthetic individuality.
The ideal of "the beautiful soul".
In SCHILLER'S aesthetic Humanism, the irrationalist and aesthetic conception of the ideal of personality embodies itself, though within the formal limits of transcendental idealism, in the Idea of the "beautiful soul". The philosophical basic-denominator of reality is shifted to the aesthetic aspect of meaning viewed exclusively from its individual subjective side.
Beauty is, according to SCHILLER'S definition, "freedom in appearance (phenomenon)" (2).
(2) See the so-called Kallias-letters to KÖRNER of February 1793.
In the aesthetic play-drive ("Spieltrieb"), the fulness of human personality, and therein of the cosmos, becomes evident. Man is really man only where he is playing, where the conflict between sensuous nature and rational moral freedom in him is silent. KANT's rigorist morality holds only for the man who has not yet matured to full harmony, in whose innermost being the moral impulse must still wage war with sensuous nature. In the "beautiful soul", however, there is realized the harmony that no longer knows this combat, for its nature is so ennobled, that it does good out of natural impulse. Only by aesthetic education does a man acquire this refinement. In this way alone is the discord between sensuous and super-sensuous functions in human nature reconciled.
WINDELBAND has keenly fathomed the attempt at a solution of all antinomies between the ideals of science and personality undertaken by this aesthetic Humanism, in which the second German Renaissance attains its point of culmination. As to this point he remarks: "This second Renaissance of the Germans is not only the completion of the former, which had been broken off in the midst, but it contains also the first consciousness of the basic drive which inspired the whole European Renaissance. Not before this aesthetic Humanism had there been the awareness of the deepest meaning of all contrasts in whose reconcilation modern culture finds its task.The two sides of the human being, whose harmonical reconcilation is the very content of culture; have assumed manifold proportions in the historical movement. In antique culture the sensuous prevails, in Christian culture the supra-sensuous man. From the very outset it was the tendency of modern culture to find the full reconciliation of these two developments. The sensuous nature of man rules his scientific knowledge, the supra-sensuous determines his ethical consciousness and the faith fastened to the latter. It is the continuous striving of modern thought to find the synthesis of this "twofold truth". However, the sensuous supra-sensuous nature of man discloses itself as complete totality only in its aesthetical function. Therefore, the whole Renaissance was in the first place artistically moved... ! This was the very greatness of the epoch, that at the same time this synthesis of the sensuous and the supra-sensuous man was living in the modern Greek, in GOETHE. And it is the immortal merit of SCHILLER that he has understood this moment in its deepest signification and that he has formulated it according to all its directions. He is truly the prophet of the self-consciousness of modern culture.(3) [‘Diese zweite Renaissance der Deutschen ist nicht nur die Vollendung der Ersten, welche in der Mitte unterbrochen war, sondern sie enthält auch erst die Selbstbewusstwerdung des Grundtriebes, welche die gesammte europäische Renaissance beseelte. Hier erst wird man sich bewuszt, welche der tiefste Sinn aller Gegensätze ist, in deren Versöhnung die moderne Kultur ihre Aufgabe findet. Die beiden Seiten des menschlichen Wesens, deren harmonische Ausgleichung den Inhalt der Bildung darstellt, haben in der historischen Bewegung mannigfache Verhältnisse angenommen...... Das sinnliche Wesen des Menschen beherrscht seine wissenschaftliche Erkenntnis, das übersinnliche bedingt sein sittliches Bewusztsein und den daran geknüpften Glauben. Und diese “zweifache Wahrheit” auszugleichen, ist das stetige Bestreben des modernen Denkens. Aber die sinnlich-übersinnliche Natur des Menschen offenbart sich als fertige Totalität nur in seiner ästhetischen Function. Darum war die ganze Renaissance in erster Linie künstlerisch bewegt...... Das eben war die grosze Epoche, dasz zu gleicher Zeit diese Synthesis des sinnlichen und des übersinnlichen Menschen in dem modernen GRIECHEN, in GOETHE, lebendig war, und es ist das unsterbliche Verdienst SCHILLERS' diesen Moment bis in seine tiefste Bedeutung begriffen und seinen Sinn nach allen Richtungen hin formuliert zu haben. Er ist in Wahrheit der Prophet des Selbstbewusztseins der modernen Kultur.’ (WdW Boek I p 431)] (3).
(3) History of modern Philosophy (Geschichte der neueren Philosophie) II, 267/8.
WINDELBAND supposes that he can identify the antinomy between sensuous nature and the supra-sensuous moral consciousness in the Humanistic freedom-idealism with the tension between Greek and Christian culture. This testifies to a fundamental lack of insight into the fact that the Humanistic ideal of personality in its moralistic conception is not essentially Christian, but rather a secularization of the Christian Idea of freedom implying an apostasy from the latter.
The "morality of genius" in early Romanticism.
In SCHILLER's more mature period, aesthetic irrationalism was still held within the limits of transcendental idealism. In the "morality of genius" of early Romanticism, however, where the morality of the "beautiful soul" becomes religion, this irrationalism discloses itself in its radical sense (4).
(4) Cf. the statement of NOVALIS : "Gesetze sind der Moral durchaus entgegen" (laws are absolutely opposite to morality) and: "Gesetze sind das Komplement mangelhafter Naturen und Wesen" (laws are the complement of defective natures and entities), cited in W. METZGER, Gesellschaft, Recht und Staat in der Ethik des Deutschen Idealismus (1917, p. 207 note 3).
By way of SCHELLING, it would dig itself a wide channel in the most recent philosophy of life, with its fundamental depreciation of the science-ideal and its absolutizing of "creative evolution".
The tension of the ideals of science and personality in NIETZSCHE'S development. Biologizing of the science-ideal (DARWIN).
The Humanistic ideal of personality in its irrationalist turn was confronted with a new development of the natural science-ideal which, since the second half of the nineteenth century under the mighty influence of DARWIN's evolution-theory, pervaded the new "historical mode of thought". As we shall presently show, this new "historical mode of thinking" originated in the irrationalistic turn of the Humanistic freedom-idealism. This dialectical struggle between the two basic factors of the Humanistic transcendental ground-Idea in their new conception discloses itself in a truly impressive manner in the dialectical development of NIETZSCHE, whose final phase, as we observed in an earlier context, is the announcement of the beginning of the religious uprooting of modern thought as a result of a dialectical self-destruction of the Humanistic ground-motive in a radical Historicism.
We have only to compare NIETZSCHE's first romantic-aesthetic period, influenced strongly by SCHOPENHAUER and RICHARD WAGNER, with the second positivistic phase beginning in 1878, in which the biological ideal of science gains the upper-hand, and the last period of the culture-philosophy of the "Superman", beginning in 1883. In this last period, the science-ideal has been entirely depreciated. Henceforth, science is viewed as a merely biological means in the struggle for existence, without any proper truth-value. BERGSON and other modern philosophers of life took over this pragmatist and biological conception of the theoretical picture of the world, created by scientific thought.
It would be false to suppose that the irrationalist philosophy of life preached chaos. On the contrary, it does not intend to abandon order. But, as the rationalist types of Humanist philosophy make the concept of the subject a function of the concept of the law in a special modal sense, and thus dissolve the former into the latter, so, in a reverse manner, the irrationalist types reduce the "true" order to a function of individual subjectivity. [Maar, gelijk de rationalistische typen der humanistische wijsbegeerte het subjectsbegrip tot een functie van het wetsbegrip maken en de subjectsidee in diepste wezen in een rationalistische wetsidee opheffen, zoo herleiden omgekeerd, de irrationalistische typen de ‘ware’ wetmatigheid tot een functie der individueele subjectiviteit. Hier is de zelfstandigheid der wet ten bate van de subjectieve individualiteit opgeheven: de wetsidee is in een irrationalistische subjectsidee overgegaan! (WdW Boek I p 433)]
The relationship of αύτός and νόμος in the irrationalist ideal of personality. Dialectical character of the philosophy of life. Modern dialectical phenomenology.
In KANT's formulation of the Humanistic ideal of personality, the true αύτός discovers itself only in the νόμος; in the irrationalist conception of autonomy the νόμος (nomos) is rather a reflex of the absolutely individual αύτός.
Rationalism and irrationalism in their modern sense are merely polar contrasts in the basic structure of the Humanistic cosmonomic Idea.
The tension, the inner antinomy that originates for the irrationalist types between absolutized subjective individuality and law, led HAMANN and early romanticism to a dialectical conception of reality which ascribed the character of absolute reality to logical contradiction.
In the modern dialectical phenomenology, issuing from DILTHEY's irrationalist historical philosophy of life, "dialectical thinking" has this same irrationalist character; it is sharply to be distinguished from HUSSERL's rationalist phenomenology (5).
(5) See the detailed analysis of this irrationalist phenomenology in my work, De Crisis der Humanistische Staatsleer (The Crisis of the Humanistic Theory of the State), publ. Ten Have, Amsterdam, 1931, pp. 47 ff.
In this dialectical trait of irrationalism, we can once again find the proof of the thesis that in the last analysis, even the irrationalist types of Humanist philosophy are rooted in an absolutizing of the theoretical attitude of thought.
An antinomy is always the product of the failure of theoretical thought to recognize its boundaries. In pre-theoretical naïve experience theoretical antinomies are out of the question. The sanctioning of a theoretical antinomy bears the stamp of a subjective attitude of thought directed against the cosmic order and the basic logical laws functioning in the latter. This attitude of thought is indubitably a component part of sinful reality, but only insofar as its anti-normative meaning is determined by the cosmic order and by the logical norms within this order, against which it turns itself in revolt. Sanctioning antinomy in the identification of dialectical thought with irrational reality signifies a meaningless negation of the law-side of reality founded in the cosmic order. This negation is meaningless, because subjectivity without an order that defines it can have no existence and meaning.
The types of the irrationalist cosmonomic Idea of Humanistic thought.
As rationalism in the Humanist philosophy is shaded into various mutually antagonistic types of cosmonomic Ideas, so is irrationalism. In principle we can think of as many types of irrationalism as there are non-logical aspects of temporal reality.
(Herman Dooyeweerd, New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol I/ Part 2/ Chapt 6/§2 pp 462-467)