Active Passivity: On the Aesthetic Variant of Freedom

Abstract

‘Being with oneself in the other’ is a well-known formula that Hegel uses to characterize the basic relation of subjective freedom. This phrase points to the fact that subjects can only come to themselves if they remain capable of going beyond themselves. This motif also plays a significant role in Hegel’s philosophy of art. The article further develops this motif by exploring the extent to which this polarity of selfhood and otherhood is also characteristic of states of aesthetic freedom. It does not offer an exegesis of Hegel’s writings, but attempts to remain as close as possible to the spirit of Hegel’s philosophy – with some help from Kant and Adorno. The argument begins with some key terms on the general state of subjective freedom in order to distinguish it from the particular role of aesthetic freedom and then, finally, drawing again on Hegel, works out the sense in which aesthetic freedom represents an important variant of freedom

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Martin Seel
Goethe University Frankfurt

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