Other 19th century philosophers

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Other 19th century philosophers

From Brian Shapiro

Published before 2005


Brian Yoder wrote:
As I mentioned in my original post, there were an army of second, third, and fourth-rank Kantians who came along in later years with every kind of alternative take on guys like Kant and those who came after him. They had little in common other than a rejection of a proper view of reason and reality. There are a million ways to be wrong and only one way to be right. This matches the later developments in the art world where the modernists were united not in method or subject, but in a rejection of the principles of good art. There are a million ways to be wrong there too.

I didn't read the posts where the discussion started...

I'm not even sure why you call them all Kantians except that they responded to Kant, most of them rejected Kant. Hegel's writing was meant as a critique of Kant; he came about his philosophy by showing how Kant undermined his own arguments, and how any truth had to be objective. Hegel attacked the idea of trying to look for a ground for reason, saying that would always undermine itself, and said the distinction between the perceived thing and the thing-in-itself was meaningless. Isn't that what you say about modern art - that by trying to question itself it undermined making any real art? Hegel's critique of Kant provides a nice critique of Greenberg's Kantian interpretation of modernism. - Kant himself never sought to undermine reason, either, though, any more than Hume did - and in fact started out by wanting to save it from Hume's challenges. Is it because they started by justifying things through internal experience? This started with Descartes, and Locke, and Leibniz, before Hume and Kant.

And most people who supported the arts of the time also supported those philosophies of the day. When modernism came around and you saw avant-gardist movements in painting which attacked art you began seeing a similar attack on philosophy, whether by Wittgenstein or Heidegger. Postmodernists to this day as much as they see academic art as the last breath of traditional art see Hegel as the last breath of traditional philosophy, and hate them equally. Positivists which rejected Hegel allied with modern art movements. Postmodernist philosophers have allied themselves with Nietzsche, in fact.

Modernists at first allied more with Hume than Kant because they wanted to reject metaphysics; the allusion to Kant only began later when Greenberg made a specific interpretation of Kant's philosophy.

Academic art had just as much focus on subjectivity as the philosophy of the time, too, unlike Greeks who believed their ideals were objective, academics believed them to be consciously allegorical. An many people blame academic art for leading to modernism because the art institutions consciously distinguished high art from low art, and focused heavily on formalism. A lot of people on this list don't want to believe that academics had ingrained in them very stratified theories of aesthetics, but you'll find its true if you read about the art.

And there are some people on this list who prefer old master art over academic art for this reason, because they find academic art too self conscious and dry.

So where did everything start - is the question - everything led to one another and you can trace everything back, but as far as turning points are concerned, the history of philosophy and the history of art are two different things, like I said, Hegel provided a critique that can be used against Greenberg's argument for modern art. It's also true that the idea of truth being universal only became directly attacked when the idea of beauty being universal became attacked, around the same time, near the turn of the century.

You can reject the philosophy of the time while still liking the art, but if you ask where the turning point was I don't think it's obvious to put it on Kant.