Topics Worth Investigating

  1. According to Schiller, what is the relationship between beauty and freedom.

  2. Schiller writes in "Letter IV":

    Now man can be opposed to himself in a twofold manner; either as a savage, when his feelings rule over his principles; or as a barbarian, when his principles destroy his feelings. The savage despises art, and acknowledges nature as his despotic ruler; the barbarian laughs at nature, and dishonors it, but he often proceeds in a more contemptible way than the savage to be the slave of his senses. The cultivated man makes of nature his friend, and honors its friendship, while only bridling its caprice.

    Characterize the "savage" and the "barbarian" as well as the third basic human capacity which mediates the savage and the barbarian: the play impulse in the arena of art and beauty.

  3. How does Schiller's philosophy of sensibility and understanding differ from Kant's critical philosophy in the Critique of Pure Reason? For Schiller these "opposites" are negated but synthesize the play impulse. What is the nature of this dialectic? Compare Kant's synthesis of rationalism and empiricism: "Concepts without percepts are empty; percepts without concepts are blind."

  4. Schiller argues that "Absolute good can only render a man happy conditionally," and only beauty "confers happiness on all;"[1] whereas, Plotinus states what " is beyone the Intellectual-Principle we affirm to be the nature of Good radiating Beauty before it."[2] Plotinus believes the Good lies beyond the Principle of Beauty. Can these two views be reconciled?

  5. Vernon Lee argues Schiller's theory of the beautiful entails a misleading ęsthetical metaphysics:

    Now although leisure and freedom from cares are necessary both for play and for ęsthetic appreciation, the latter differs essentially from the former by its contemplative nature. For although it may be possible to watch other people playing football or chess or bridge in a purely contemplative spirit and with the deepest admiration … yet the concentration on the aim and the next moves consititutes on the part of the players themselves an eminently practical state of mind, one diametrically opposed to contemplation…[3]

    To what extent is Lee's critique a fair analysis of Schiller's reflections on the connection between between ęsthetic activity and the universal impulse to play?



Frederich Schiller. Letter XXVII.


Plotinus. The Enneads. Trans. Stephen MacKenna and B.S. Page. London: Faber and Faber. 1917-1924. First Ennead , Sixth Tractate.


Vernon Lee. The Beautiful: An Introduction to Psychological Ęsthetics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1913. 7.