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P. Menard

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About P. Menard

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  • Birthday 02/06/1984

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  1. P. Menard added a post in a topic Notes on Literary Theory   

    I will include Markos' follow up lecture to Kant on Friedrich Schiller as well for those interested. A lot of Schiller's work seems to point towards Nietzsche, who is sort of left out of both of these lecture series. I have been slowly reading The Birth of Tragedy, so perhaps I will try to supplement my own digression on Nietzsche. Not sure if Markos' use of Apolloian and Dionysian is merely foreshadowing the latter Friedrich, or if Schiller actually used those terms. An interesting and important subject that Kant and Schiller hint at more than most is the artist's struggle against nature, poetry a form onto the formless.

    Markos - Lecture #11
    Schiller on Aesthetics

    (romanticizing Kant)

    Schiller seeks a synthesis or unity of the emotional and rational.

    Beauty remains subjective.
    The free play of mental powers is still at centre stage.
    Privileges aesthetic form over didactic content.

    Burke privileges judgment over imagination
    Kant privileges disharmony / sublimity over harmony / beauty
    Schiller privileges harmony and synthesis / unity over disharmony.

    Schiller's ideal is a fusion, or incarnation of subject and object. Schiller is moving here into a mystical / spiritual arena. He can do this because he takes on a greater and different importance to Schiller. Nature seeks perfection in schiller, as opposed to its previous dead status within epistemology.

    The Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man

    For Schiller, the classical world, the ancient greeks, had a natural humanity that was lost. The ancients possessed a fullness that fused reason and imagination. Dionysian (wild, irrational, ecstatic) and Apollonian. Religion and Science. East and West. Man and Woman.

    T.S. Eliot calls these two sides of the psyche "The Dissociation of Sensibility"
    begins around 1700, for Schiller it begins in the classical age.

    Eliot - the poetry of the 17th century is imaginative yet rational. After that there is a dissociation of this sensibility. in the 18th century, the tyranny is reason. in the 19th century, the tyranny with romantics becomes passion and imagination. Eliot hoped to reunite the two in the 20th CE.

    Schiller's aesthetic goal is the same as Eliot's. To Reunite.


    On Naive and Sentimental Poetry

    Criticism on ancient and modern.

    The Naive - the ancient. that which is tied to nature. it rejects all that is artifical or clever. Uncorrupted by civilization/society

    The Sentimental - Complex. Artistic. Strongly self-concious. We don't have fun because we are thinking about fun. We see the sense of naivety still in children.

    To synthesize the elements, Schiller doesn't want to regress, or devolve to the naive, but progress from the naive, to the sentimental, to a higher kind of naivety. It is the role of culture, education, and beauty to achieve this fusion and restore this lost union. Schiller makes the distinction between the sensuous and formal drives

    The sensuous drive - the world of becoming, the body, change, decay

    The formal drive - rational. preservation of personality. the spirit that remains the same.

    The sensuous drive is Dionysiac. It is ecstatic, it leads us to be swept by sensation and leaves our personality suspended. Deals with the particular, the concrete, etc... (body)(content)

    The formal drive is Apollonian. Seeks a higher more abstract harmony free from change, and the restraints of time and space. the general law, the universal. (spirit)(form)

    Thus personality is a drive attached to reason.

    Schiller breaks from Kant here in not privileging one over the other, but rather treats the two drives as two modes that must be synthesized. Romantic - synthesis of the formal and sensuous. The greatest task of culture and civilization is to reintegrate the two drives.

    Out of the synthesis of the two drives is what Schiller calls the 'play' drive. Man is only fully human when he plays. [Freud and play] *Matthew Arnold and the negative connotation of curiosity in the english language.

    In play, by synthesizing and transcending the other two drives, one is free from the physical restraints of nature, and the moral restraints of reason. not immoral but amoral. transcendent.

    thus we achieve true freedom, free play, and unity

    Through beauty and the sublime, we are empowered to give form to that which is formless and thus terrifying in nature. Beauty then grants us a way to take that formless terror, and put it into a form that can be dealt with. And here gain a epistemological, suprasensible victory over nature that frees us from our deepest fears. That moment in Kant in the sublime when in our turn we realize that "we can handle it," there is something in me greater than nature.

    Schiller's difference, is that Schiller holds onto physical reality. Kant takes us away into the abstract. Schiller still demands we not lose the human, as Kant reverts to Pluto. Schiller emphasizes the unity of our psyche.

    Poets then are the ideal citizens for an ideal public. they are unified. They know not only justice, but they've also lived it."

    C.S. Lewis "Altough [beauty] has no survival value, it does give value to survival." Although beauty does not help you live, it gives you something to live for.
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  2. P. Menard added a post in a topic Notes on Literary Theory   

    Some Further Explanation on Kant

    Louis Markos: Literary Criticism From Plato to Postmodernism - The Teaching Company - Lecture #10

    Immanuel Kant - Critique of Judgement

    Transforms Burke's introductory "epistemology of aesthetics" into a full blown science.


    Kant's central assertion - "aesthetic judgements constitute a subjective universality"
    Key Kantian distinctions


    Kant asserts at the beginning that the judgement of the beautiful is purely subjective, that is to say, the judgement of the beautiful is different from the object, beauty occurs within the viewer, the way it is percieved by the subject.

    These judgments are not rational, or cognitive, but rather are aesthetic.

    Kant is the "Epistemological Aristotle" - just as Aristotle (an ontologist) wrote a treatise on each discipline. Kant then (the epistemologist) tries to define or categorize through treatise, the mental faculties of perception. Modes of perception. Judgement, reason, imagination, etc...

    Reason and understanding are logical and cognitive, but the aesthetic judgement is always subjective. distinguishing feature.

    Where as cognitive judgements - reason and understanding - presuppose fixed ideas and then work to establish fixed concepts - aesthetic judgements work through feeling, and don't rest on any concept, nor seek to generate one. Aestehetic judgements, ie the subjective, is pure in its freedom. Free from all ends or purposes. "Should aesthetic judgement seek a purpose, it would be a purposeless purpose."

    Poetry and the aesthetic then uses a unique mode of perception. Different from the others in subjectivity. IN answer to Plato then, Kant has created "a seperate sphere" approach to poetry, demanding unique rules for a unique 'mode.'

    "Aesthetics are an end in themselves"


    Distinguishing the Aesthetic from the pleasurable and good.

    Pleasurable is an interested emotion that seeks gratification from the object, where as the aesthetic/beautiful seeks nothing, it is disinterested. Beauty makes no demand from.

    loose allegory
    Pleasurable - eros - seek to possess
    Beautiful - agapae - seeks nothing, an end in its self, pure and free

    The good seeks beauty as a means to some higher end, the beautiful accepts it as a thing unto itself. (Good, better, best, never let it rest...?)

    "Although the judgement of beauty is purely subjective, it is paradoxically universally felt, and therefore it constitutes a subjective universality."

    Universal to all of us in something that is felt, perceived individually by all of us.

    Evidence. Burke supplies proof that imagination and taste are based on senses, and the sense are universal, ergo taste is universal.

    Kant's answer to the subjective universal. "What allows the aesthetic/subjective judgement to be felt universally is the very fact that it is purely subjective, and therefore is untainted by inclination or interests or hidden agendas.

    Since the beautiful is free and is indifferent to even the object, than it is free from all external restraint. If we all feel it freely, then we must feel it the same way.

    Modern theorists attack this because there is no disinterested response. everything is political, or bears agenda. Post-modernists throw Kant out because everything is relative.

    So why is Kant's paradoxically subjective universal so important?

    For Kant, the aesthetic realm has to be subject to be free, if it is objective, it is not free, but in order for us to establish it's "science," with rules and regulations, it has to be universal otherwise it is meaningless in its function.

    According to Kant, taste is not universal. Taste is linked to the pleasurable, there is some sense of gratification. "THe charm of the object gratifies the taste and monopolizes its focus. However, there is a purer, higher, more aesthetic taste. This taste focuses on form.

    A poem's form maybe studied as an end in itself, a purposeless purpose, and as such, it is an aesthetic judgement. The content of the poem, the moral, changes with age, but the form has no agenda, it is eternal, its an end to itself.

    Eventually, in late thinkers, we will see this idea of the poem as an artifact in itself, an end in itself.

    Imagination and Kant

    For Kant, Imagination is a spontaneous, independent, mental power, enlivened and set free by aesthetic ideas.

    Kant goes so far to say that in poetry, as an art, the imagination is set free in its power, a power that is used to ascribe new connection and create new forms, new associations.

    Kant now goes on to investigate how reason and understanding play a role in taste and aesthetic. distinguishes beauty into Pure Beauty and Dependent Beauty

    Pure Beauty - presupposes no concept of what the object ought to be. Pure beauty is purely subjective, and purely free. see Ars gratia artist. Art for art's sake. End of 1800's. Oscar Wilde. Art as an end in itself.

    Dependent Beauty - presuppose a concept of perfection at which to measure the object. Taste? Taste is then the application of reason and understanding to beauty.
    The moral. what does it teach us? etc...

    As soon as dependent beauty starts to form concepts, it moves out of the imagination and into the realm of understanding - ie the establishment of concepts.

    Sublimity - that which is truly, absolutely great, and inspires in us feelings of infinity and limitlessness

    The quantintative sublime (the mathematical sublime) - occurs when we come into the presence of wild chaotic objects that cannot be absorbed. Quantitatively too much. Their greatness surpasses the ability of out intuition to grasp them. Overwhelms the imagination and we forced to turn to reason.

    Thus the sublime turns to reason, and beauty turns to understanding. Where as understanding merely converts empirical data into concepts, reason takes concepts and transforms them into higher laws.

    Imagination, is spontaneous, it only has to do with feeling. As soon as we've begun to think about our feelings we've moved to a realm of understanding. Once we have thought about are feelings, we're using our understanding to make parallels and corollaries, to build concepts.
    When we start to think about our thinking, we are into the realm of reason.

    The beautiful turns to understanding, the sublime turns to reason.

    The qualitative sublime (the dynamic sublime) - to feel awe or fear in the presence of the object's overwhelming power. (if there is actual physical danger, there is terror, it's not sublimity). Just as in the qualitiative, the imagination is inadequate to stand up against the power of the sublime, so it turns to the higher faculty of reason to help it out.

    Kant's final distinction between the sublime and the beautiful. Both the sublime and beautiful exist in a free play of the two different mental powers.

    The subjective experience of beauty is a harmony in the free play of imagination and understanding.

    The subjective experience of sublimity is a struggle, or disharmony between imagination and reason.

    In line with Burke's assertion that beauty brings harmony, relaxation, and the sublime brings tension anxiety.

    And what is the ramification of the sublime when we're forced to turn from imagination to reason?

    "Kant builds on the mental disharmony caused in us as produced by the sublime." That is-

    Kant admits our experience at first gives us a sense of displeasure, but eventually displeasure turns to pleasure when we realize what this surrender signifies or means."

    "Our experience of the sublime, that moment when imagination turns over to reason, reveals to us that finally cognition or reason is supreme over sensation or imagination, and that therefore we are supra-sensible creatures. At that moment, when imagination turns over to reason, we realize that at heart we are not sensible creatures tied to the earth, but we are supra-sensible creatures tied to reason. In that moment, we learn with great joy that their is a faculty within us that is greater than nature, that can surpass both her majesty (the quantitative sublime), and her might (the qualitative sublime).

    "And if that is true, then our final destination and end, is greater than that of nature. That is to say we are not only rational creatures, but spiritual creatures, indued with purpose, and an ability to endure, and transcend, pain and terror. There is something greater in us that goes beyond nature. One can transcend the pain and suffering of nature, and the physical."
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  3. P. Menard added a post in a topic Notes on Literary Theory   

    Michio: Glad to hear you are continuing this course. I have been skipping around the course a bit, but have not been taking digital notes

    As I mentioned above, I did take some digital notes on the Louis Markos lecture series which might be helpful. Markos is generally a lot more accessible than Fry, and his focus is also on pre-20th c. theory. He makes an excellent complement to Fry, who is a lot denser, and focuses on the 20th c. (Fry's lectures on Derrida is a very enlightening journey into his complicated work).

    Along the lines of what Campanella boasted, wait for lecture 14 on Harold Bloom. I have read Bloom's Anxiety of Influence so I will certainly chime in there. The reason I foreshadow this lecture is because of what Bloom suggests, that is, that all reading is misreading. Of course, Bloom applies this to literature, and not necessarily lectures, non-fiction etc... but I think it very much applies. That is to say, sometimes misunderstanding is the best understanding, as it is in that misreading of the text that it becomes our own. The more one is lost, the more one might wander
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  4. P. Menard added a post in a topic Notes on Literary Theory   

    Just chiming in. This is great!

    I hope to get caught up and add anything I can. I recently was introduced to Philosophy, Aesthetics, and the western canon of poetry through a TTC (The Teaching Company) course that was quite astonishing. The lecture series, Literary Criticism: From Plato to Postmodernism, given by Louis Markos, comes highly recommended, to any who care to investigate. Markos, being a professor at a Baptist University, frequently uses biblical and religious references and examples. While possibly an aversion for some, I personally enjoyed his religious allusions. I will try to add any parallels or differences I remember from the Markos lectures... I know I have some sloppy notes from a few lectures somewhere on this harddrive. Markos focuses on Poetry rather than Literature, so there should be some interesting diversions!

    Either way, thanks for the notes Michio!

    EDIT: I wasn't aware of what Fry puts forth in the introduction - that Criticism and Theory are two different subjects :/ More fuel to the fire.
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  5. P. Menard added a post in a topic Usernames!   

    Jorge Luis Borges Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote

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  6. P. Menard added a post in a topic Introduce yourself here...   

    Greetings. I am a recent autodidactic in philosophy, only very recently actually pursuing primary texts. I came to philosophy through the arts. I have a couple degrees in music, and am very interested in film and literature and other mediums. My introductory bridge to philosophy was through the pursuit of literary criticism. A subject whose pursuit was derived from the natural tendencies to question the creation of art from a musician's perspective. I was long concerned with ontological/epistemological concerns, before I could define my thoughts as such.

    I hope I can learn from and contribute to this 'library,'
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