Scholars have recently argued that Friedrich Schiller makes a signal contribution to republican political theory in his view of “aesthetic education,” which offers a means of elevating self-interest to virtue. However, though this education is lauded in theory, it has been denigrated as implausible, irresponsible, or dangerous in practice. This paper argues that the criticisms rest on a faulty assumption that artistic objects constitute the sole substance of this “aesthetic education.” Through a reading of Schiller’s work throughout the 1790s, I make the case that this “education” occurs also through an encounter with the “moral beauty” of individual exemplars. This interpretation fits with Schiller’s republican allegiances, saves Schiller’s project from political irrelevance, and enriches Schiller’s contribution to contemporary republican political theory. However, I argue that Schiller was attentive to the dangers of this “aesthetic education” in his play Wallenstein, in which Schiller dramatizes the tragic relationship between individual exemplar and political order
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DOI 10.1177/1474885113483283
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