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The Rise of Aesthetic Rationality: Nietzsche to Baumgarten


Admission requirements

In order to participate in the course, students must have good first-hand knowledge of Kant’s Kritik der reinen Vernunft . They must also have a good passive knowledge of German. Under these conditions it is open to students from other departments as an elective.

Toehoorders / à la carte-studenten hebben alleen toegang tot deze cursus met toestemming van de docent.


Kant’s Kritik der Urteilskraft marks the decisive point where art and the aesthetic cease to be marginalized by philosophy and move to the very centre of its concerns with truth and goodness. In matters of taste, for Kant, the rift between reason and sensibility is crossed or crossed out, and he looks to a notion of aesthetic rationality to shore up the fragmentation of reason. This course will study the rise of aesthetic rationality in Baumgarten, Kant and Schiller, its sources in the crisis of reason at the end of the 18th Century, and its impact on thinkers such as Hamman, Hölderlin, F. Schlegel, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.

Our systematic interest will concern the relations between aesthetic rationality, theoretical and practical reason in these thinkers. Special attention will also be given to sensibility (Sinnlichkeit), and the effort to reinterpret and re-evaluate sensibility from the domain of ‘cognitio confusa’ or ‘dumpfes Denken’ (Leibniz) into an ‘analogon rationis’ that can solve problems that reason in its own medium cannot.

Course objectives

Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.


Wednesday, 10:00-13:00

See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2011-2012 , BA Wijsbegeerte (BA Plus-traject of Standaardtraject)
See Timetables Philosophy 2011-2012 , Timetable Undergraduate Courses in English

Mode of instruction

The course will consist of lectures (hoorcolleges) and seminar discussions of primary and secondary texts to be prepared by students (2 hours + 1 hour).

Assessment method

Assessment will be based on active participation in the seminars, including seminar-assignments and oral presentations (20%), and a paper of 5,000 words (80%) on an assigned topic.

Students are required to attend all the lectures and will lose points for [more than two] unexplained absences.



Reading list

Students are required to purchase the main primary texts:

  • Kant, Kritik der Urteilskraft (Suhrkamp Taschenbuch, Werkausgabe X);

  • Schiller, Fr., Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefen (Reclam) or English-German bilingual edition, tr. E.M. Wilkinson & L.A. Willoughby, Clarendon/OUP 1982);

  • Baumgarten, Texte zur Grundlegung der Ästhetik (Meiner);

  • Baumgarten, Theoretische Ästhetik: die grundlegenden Abschnitte aus der “Aesthetica” (Meiner).

  • Further primary literature will be available for students to copy, where it is not readily available.

Key secondary literature includes:

  • Paetzold, H., Ästhetik des deutschen Idealismus (Steiner, Wiesbaden 1983);

  • Schümmer, Fr., ‘Die Entwicklung des Geschmacksbegriffs in der Philosophie des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts’, in: Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte (Bouvier, Bonn 1955), Bd. I, pp. 120-141;

  • Gadamer, H.-G., Wahrheit und Methode : I.1 b) Humanistische Leitbegriffe and I.2 a) Kants Lehre von Geschmack und Genie (Mohr, Tübingen 1972);

  • Bernstein, J.M., The Fate of Art. Aesthetic Alienation from Kant to Derrida and Adorno : Ch 1 on Kant (Polity, Oxford 1992).

Details of required reading from these texts will be given in the syllabus; it will be made available for students to copy, where it is not readily available.


Please register for this course on uSis.

Exchange students and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Aanmelden à la carte en contractonderwijs

Aanmelden voor Contractonderwijs via:
Na aanmelding ook inschrijven voor cursus en tentamen(s) via uSis

Contact information

Dr. H.W. Siemens


Lamguage of instruction is English, although Dutch can be used for papers and contributions in class at BA3 level. Primary texts will be read in German.

Specialisatie (BA Wijsbegeerte): Filosofie van mens, techniek en cultuur.