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The Rise of Aesthetic Rationality


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • BA students in Philosophy, who have successfully completed their first year, and who have also completed at least 10 EC’s of the mandatory components of their second year, including Philosophy of Mind, or Concepts of Selfhood.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement, and for whom this course is part of their programme.


Kant’s Kritik der Urteilskraft marks the decisive point in the age-old quarrel between art and philosophy, when the aesthetic comes to occupy a central place in addressing the crisis of reason at the end of the 18th Century. In matters of taste, Kant holds, the rift between reason and sensibility, between freedom and nature, 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, 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 mother of errors’ or ‘dumpfes Denken’ (Leibniz) into an ‘analogon rationis’ that can solve problems that reason in its own medium cannot.

Course objectives

To be announced.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method

  • Assignments: reading preparations and presentations

  • Final exam: 4000 word paper + texts commentaries


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of:

  • Assignments and presentations: 50%

  • Final exam (paper + commentaries): 50%


Students can resit the exam if their overall grade for the entire course is 5 or less (i.e., the calculated result of weighted components is lower than 5.5).

The resits will consist of the final exam (4000 word paper + texts commentaries) which will count as 50% of the grade. Papers and commentaries that fail will need to be rewritten in line with instructor’s comments. The grades for the assignments and presentations remain in place.

Class attendance and participation is a mandatory requirement for taking the resit.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

Discussion of the paper is by appointment after publication of the final grade.

Reading list

The main sources are:

  • Kant’s Kritik der Urteilskraft (Meiner Verlag);

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

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

  • excerpts from Baumgarten’s Meditationes, Metaphysica, and Aesthetica (in German);

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

Further primary literature will be made available for students, where it is not readily available.

Key secondary literature includes:

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

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

  • Gadamer, H.-G., Wahrheit und Methode, Erster Teil;

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


Enrolment through uSis for this course is not possible. Students are requested to submit their preferences for the third-year electives by means of an online registration form. They will receive the instruction and online registration form by email (uMail account); in June for courses scheduled in semester 1, and in December for courses scheduled in semester 2. Registration in uSis will be taken care of by the Education Administration Office.

Aanmelden à la carte en contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


In order to participate in the course, students must have a sound understanding of Kant’s Kritik der reinen Vernunft. A (passive) knowledge of German is a great advantage.