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The Practices of the EnlightenmentAesthetics, By (author)ship, and the Public$
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Dorothea von Mücke

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231172462

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231172462.001.0001

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The Surprising Origins of Enlightenment Aesthetics

The Surprising Origins of Enlightenment Aesthetics

(p.5) 1 The Surprising Origins of Enlightenment Aesthetics
The Practices of the Enlightenment

Dorothea E. von Mücke

Columbia University Press

This chapter charts the beginnings of Enlightenment aesthetics. Instead of tracing a certain trend in philosophical discourse about the value of art and the specific kind of access to truth that could be provided by works of art, the chapter turns to a set of practices and habits. In particular, it examines one specific strand of spiritual exercises that prepared the ground for the promotion of “disinterested interest” as the key to Enlightenment aesthetics. Its argument is based on the analysis of Johann Arndt's 1605 devotional guide Vom wahren Christenthum (On True Christianity) and its comparison with Johann Gerhard's Meditationes Sacrae. It shows how Arndt's use of verbal images promoted a practice of attention and contemplation that can be seen as preparing the ground for what then later in the eighteenth century became crucial aspects of an Enlightenment aesthetics, especially the concern with disinterested interest.

Keywords:   aesthetics, disinterested interest, Enlightenment, Johann Arndt, Vom wahren Christenthum, Johann Gerhard, Meditationes Sacrae, verbal images, attention, contemplation

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