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Dialogue of Cultures

Translations of Schiller's Works

On the Sublime
by Friedrich Schiller

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Helga LaRouche on the Sublime
Of the Sublime (a different essay by Schiller)

On the Sublime
by Friedrich Schiller

It is not precisely known when Schiller began work on this essay, but it was first made public by him in 1801, appearing in the third part of Smaller Prose Writings. Schiller's two other major pieces on the subject of the sublime, Of the Sublime and On the Pathetic, the second of which appears in this volume, were written almost a decade before this piece, as early commentary on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. This essay reflects Schiller's mature thinking on Kant, who devoted the better part of his Critique of Judgment to the question of the sublime, and Schiller's superceding of Kant's system.

On The Sublime

Translated by William F. Wertz, Jr.

"No man must must," says the Jew Nathan to the dervish, and this expression is true to a wider extent, than one might perhaps concede to the same. The will is the species character of man, and reason itself is only the eternal rule of the same. All nature acts according to reason; his prerogative is merely, that he act according to reason with consciousness and will. All other things must; man is the being, who wills.

Precisely for this reason is nothing so unworthy of man, as to suffer violence, for violence annuls him. Who does it to us, disputes nothing less than our humanity; who suffers it in a cowardly manner, throws away his humanity. But this claim to absolute liberation from all that is violence seems to presuppose a being, which possesses enough power, to drive away from itself any other power. If it is found in a being, which does not maintain the uppermost rank in the realm of forces, so an unhappy contradiction arises therefrom between the instinct and the capacity.

Man finds himself in this case. Surrounded by numberless forces, which are all superior to him and play the master over him, he makes claim by his nature, to suffer from no violence. By his understanding he does indeed enhance his natural forces in an artificial manner, and up to a certain point he actually succeeds in becoming physically master over everything physical. For everything, the proverb says, there is a remedy, but not for death. But this single exception, if it actually is one in the strictest sense, would annul the whole notion of Man. By no means can he be the being, which wills, if there is even but a single case, where he absolutely must, what he does not will. This single terrible one, which he merely must and does not will, will accompany him as a ghost and, as is also actually the case among the majority of men, deliver him as a prey to the blind terrors of the phantasy; his boasted freedom is absolutely nothing, if he is bound even in a single point. Culture shall set man free and help him, to fulfill his entire notion. It will make him capable, therefore, of asserting his will, for man is the being, who wills.

This is possible in two kinds of ways. Either actually, when man opposes violence with violence, when he as nature rules over nature; or ideally, when he steps out of nature and so, in regard to himself, annihilates the concept of violence. What helps him to the first, is called physical culture. Man cultivates his understanding and his sensuous forces, in order to make the forces of nature according to their own laws either into instruments of his will or to secure himself before their effects, which he can not control. But the forces of nature can be ruled or be warded off only up to a certain point; beyond this point they withdraw from the power of man and subject him to theirs.

Now thus were his freedom done for, if it were capable of no other than physical culture. He ought, however, to be Man without exceptions, therefore, in no case suffer something against his will. Can he therefore no longer oppose to the physical forces a proportional physical force, so nothing else remains left to him, in order to suffer no violence, than: to annul altogether a relation, which is so disadvantageous to him and to annihilate as a concept the violence, which he must in fact suffer. To annihilate violence as a concept, however, is called nothing other, than to voluntarily subject oneself to the same. The culture, which makes him apt thereto, is called the moral.

The morally educated man, and only this one, is entirely free. Either he is superior to nature as power, or he is in harmony with the same. Nothing which it exerts upon him is violence, for before it comes up to him, it has already become his own act, and dynamic nature never even reaches him, because acting freely he retires from all that it can reach. This mentality, however, which morality teaches under the concept of resignation to necessity and religion, under the concept of submission to divine counsel, demands, if it shall be a work of free choice and reflection, already a greater clarity of thinking and a higher energy of the will, than man is characteristically accustomed to in active life. Fortunately, however, there exists in his nature only a moral predisposition, which can be developed through the understanding, but rather even in his sensuous rational, i.e., human nature, an aesthetical tendency thereto, which can be awakened through certain sensuous objects and cultivated through purification of his feelings into this ideal swing of the mind. I shall at present treat of this indeed ideal predisposition, according to its concept and being, which, however, even the realist displays clearly enough in his life, although he does not admit it into his system.

Indeed, the developed feelings for beauty already suffice thereto, to make us, up to a certain degree, independent of nature as a power. A mind which has been ennobled so far as to be more moved by the form than by the matter of things, and, without any regard to possession, to draw a free pleasure from the mere reflection upon the phenomenon's manner, such a mind carries in itself an inner fullness of life that can not be lost, and because it has no need to arrogate the objects in which it lives, so it is also not in danger, of being of the same. However, the appearance nevertheless ultimately wants to have a body, in which it appears, and so long as a need therefore even exists for a beautiful appearance, a need remains left for the existence of objects, and our satisfaction consequently is still dependent upon nature as a power, which commands over all existence. It is indeed something entirely different, if we feel a longing for beautiful and good objects or if we merely desire, that the existing objects be beautiful and good. The last can exist with the highest freedom of the soul, but the first not; that the existing be beautiful and good, we can demand; that the beautiful and good be existing, merely wish. That frame of mind, which is indifferent as to whether the beautiful and good and perfect exist, but with rigorous sternness desires, that the existing objects be good, beautiful, and perfect, is called preferably great and sublime, because it contains all realities of the beautiful character, without sharing its limits.

It is a distinguishing mark of good and beautiful, but at any time weak souls, always to insist impatiently upon the existence of their moral ideal and to be painfully affected by the hindrances to the same. Such men place themselves in a sad dependence upon chance, and it may always be predicted with certainty, that they will concede too much to the matter in moral and aesthetical things and will not pass the highest test of character and taste. Moral defectiveness ought not to infuse us with suffering and pain, which always bespeaks more an unsatisfied need than an unfulfilled demand. The latter must have a more vigorous emotion as companion and sooner strengthen and fortify the mind in its energy, than make it pusillanimous and unhappy.

There are two genii, which nature gave us as companions throughout life. The one, sociable and lovely, shortens the laborious journey for us through its lively play, makes the fetters of necessity light for us, and leads us amidst joy and jest up to the dangerous places, where we must act as pure spirits and lay aside everything bodily, as to cognition of truth and performance of duty. Here it abandons us, for only the world of sense is its province, beyond this its earthly wings can not carry it. But now the other one steps up, earnest and silent, and with stout arm it carries us over the dizzying depth.

In the first of these genii one recognizes the feeling of the beautiful, in the second the feeling of the sublime. Indeed, the beautiful is already an expression of freedom, but not that which elevates us above the power of nature and releases us from every bodily influence, but rather that, which we enjoy within nature as men. We feel ourselves free with beauty, because the sensuous instincts harmonize with the law of reason; we feel ourselves free with the sublime, because the sensuous instincts have no influence upon the legislation of reason, because the mind acts here, as if it stood under no other than its own laws.

The feeling of the sublime is a mixed feeling. It is a combination of woefulness, which expresses itself in its highest degree as a shudder, and of joyfulness, which can rise up to enrapture, and, although it is not properly pleasure, is yet widely preferred to every pleasure by fine souls. This union of two contradictory sentiments in a single feeling proves our moral independence in an irrefutable manner. For as it is absolutely impossible that the same object stand in two opposite relations to us, so does it follow therefrom, that we ourselves stand in two different relations to the object, so that consequently two opposite natures must be united in us, which are interested in the conception of the same in completely opposite ways. We therefore experience through the feeling of the sublime, that the state of our mind does not necessarily conform to the state of the senses, that the laws of nature are not necessarily also those of ours, and that we have in us an independent principle, which is independent of all sensuous emotions.

The sublime object is of a double description. We refer it either to our power of comprehension, and succumb in the attempt to form for ourselves an image or a concept of it; or we refer it to our vital power, and consider it as a power before which those of ours vanish into nothing. But although in the one as in the other case we preserve the painful feeling of our limits through its instigation, so we do not, however, flee it, but rather are attracted by it with irresistible force. Would this be quite possible, if the limits of our imagination were at the same time the limits of our power of comprehension? Would we want to be reminded quite gladly of the all-powerfulness of the forces of nature, if we had not still something in reserve, other than what can become a prey to them? We delight in the sensuous-infinite, because we can think, what the senses no longer grasp and the understanding no longer comprehends. We are inspired by the terrible, because we are able to will, what the instincts abhor and reject, what they desire. We gladly allow the imagination to find its master in the realm of phenomena, for it is ultimately, however, only one sensuous force, which triumphs over another sensuous one, but nature in all of its limitlessness can not attain to the absolute greatness in us ourselves. We gladly submit to the physical necessity of our well-being and our existence, for that reminds us precisely, that it has no command over our principles. Man is in its hand, but the will of man is in his own.

And thus has nature even employed a sensuous means, to teach us, that we are more than merely sensuous; thus did she even know to utilize sensations, to lead us to the track of this discovery, that we are not in the least subjected slavishly to the violence of the sensations. And this is an entirely different effect, than can be produced by the beautiful—namely by the beautiful of reality, for in the ideally beautiful even the sublime must be lost. In the beautiful, reason and sensuousness harmonize, and only on account of this harmony does it have attractiveness for us. Through beauty alone would we therefore eternally never learn, that we are determined and able to prove ourselves as pure intelligences. In the sublime, on the contrary, reason and sensuousness do not harmonize, and precisely in this contradiction between both lies the charm wherewith it seizes our soul. The physical and the moral man are separated here from one another most sharply; for exactly in such objects, where the first only feels its limits, does the other have the experience of its force and is elevated infinitely precisely through that which presses the other to the ground.

A man, I will assume, shall possess all of the virtues, whose union makes up the beautiful character. He shall find his pleasure in the practice of justice, beneficence, temperance, constancy, and faithfulness; all the duties, whose performance circumstances prescribe to him, shall become light play to him, and fortune shall make no action hard for him, whereto his philanthropic heart may ever summon him. To whom will this beautiful harmony of the natural instinct with the prescriptions of reason not be enchanting, and who could refrain from loving such a man? But can we think ourselves quite secure, in all affection for the same, that he really is virtuous, and that there is virtue in general! If this man had only aimed at agreeable sensations, so could he, without being a fool, absolutely not act otherwise, and he would have to hate his own advantage, if he wished to be vicious. It can be, that the source of his actions is pure, but he must settle that with his own heart; we see nothing thereof. We see him do not more, than also the simply clever man had to do, who makes pleasure his god. The world of sense, therefore, explains all the phenomena of his virtue, and we have no need at all, to look beyond the same for a reason for it.

This same man shall, however, suddenly fall into a great misfortune. One shall deprive him of his possessions, one shall ruin his good name. Illnesses shall throw him onto a painful bed, death shall tear away from him everything which he loves, everything in which he trusts, shall forsake him in his distress. In this condition, let one seek him again and demand of the unhappy one the practice of the same virtues, for which the happy one had formerly been so prepared. Does one find him in this event still entirely the same; has poverty not reduced his beneficence, ingratitude his obligingness, pain his equanimity, his own misfortune his sympathy with another's happiness; does one notice the transformation of his circumstances in his figure, but not in his conduct, in the matter, but not in the form of his behavior—then one indeed no longer makes do with an explanation from the concept of nature (according to which it is absolutely necessary, that the present as effect is grounded upon something past as its cause), because nothing can be more contradictory, than that the effect remain the same, when the cause has been transformed into its contrary. One must therefore renounce every natural explanation, must give up altogether deriving the conduct from the condition, and must shift the grounds of the first out of the physical world order into an entirely different one, to which reason can indeed fly with its ideas, the understanding, however, can not grasp with its concepts. This discovery of the absolute moral capacity, which is bound to no natural condition, gives to the melancholy feeling, whereby we are seized at the sight of such a man, the completely peculiar, inexpressible charm, in respect to which no pleasure of the senses, however ennobled it may be, can contest with the sublime.

The sublime, therefore, procures for us an exit from the sensuous world, wherein the beautiful would gladly always keep us imprisoned. Not gradually (for there is no transition from dependency to freedom), but rather suddenly and through a shock, does it tear the independent spirit away from the net, wherewith the refined sensuousness ensnared him, and which binds so much the more tightly, the more transparently it is spun. However much it has gained over man through the imperceptible influence of a rather soft taste—even if it has succeeded in penetrating, in the seducing veil of spiritual beauty, into the innermost seat of moral legislation and there poisoning the holiness of maxims at its source, so is a single sublime emotion often enough to tear up this web of deceit, to give back to this fettered spirit its entire elasticity all at once, to give it a revelation of its true destination, and to impose a feeling of its dignity, at least for a moment. Beauty in the form of the goddess Calypso has enchanted the valiant son of Ulysses, and, through the power of her charms, she holds him for a long time imprisoned upon her island. For long he believes he is paying homage to an immortal deity, since he lies only in the arms of voluptuousness—but a sublime impression seizes him suddenly in the form of Mentor: He remembers his better destiny, throws himself into the waves, and is free.

The sublime, like the beautiful, is poured out lavishly through all of nature, and the sensibility for both is placed in all men; but the germ thereto develops unequally, and must be helped to it by art. Already the aim of nature requires, that we hasten toward beauty from the first, although we flee before the sublime; for beauty is our nurse in the childish age and should lead from the rude state of nature to refinement. But, although she is our first love and our sensibility is first unfolded for the same, so has nature nevertheless provided therefor, that it matures more slowly and the formation of the understanding and the heart awaits first its full development. Did taste attain its full maturation, before truth and morality were planted in our heart in a better way than can occur through it, so would the world of sense remain eternally the limit of our endeavors. We would neither go beyond it in our concepts, nor in our sentiments, and what the imaginative power can not represent, would also have no reality for us. But, fortunately, it already lies in the ordering of nature, that the taste is, however, the last to ripen, although it blossoms first among all the capacities of the mind. In this interval, enough time is gained to cultivate a wealth of concepts in the head and a treasure of principles in the breast and, then also to develop, especially out of reason, the sensibility for the great and sublime.

So long as man was merely a slave of physical necessity, had found no exit yet from the narrow circle of need, and did not yet divine the high demonic freedom in his breast, so could incomprehensible nature only remind him of the limits of his conceptual power, and decaying nature only of his physical impotence. He therefore had to pass by the first with pusillanimity and turn away from the other with fright. But, scarcely does free contemplation make room for him against the blind rush of the forces of nature, and scarcely does he discover in this deluge of phenomena something permanent in his own being, than the wild masses of nature round about him begin to speak to his heart an entirely different language; and the relative greatness outside of him is the mirror, wherein he perceives the absolute greatness within himself. Fearless and with thrilling pleasure, he now nears these frightful phantoms of his imaginative power and intentionally summons the entire force of this capacity, to represent the sensuous-infinite, in order, even if it succumbs in this attempt, to feel all the more lively the superiority of his ideas over the highest which sensuousness can provide. The view of unlimited distance and incalculable heights, the wide ocean at his feet and the greater ocean above him, snatch his mind away from the narrow sphere of the real and the oppressive imprisonment of physical life. A greater measure of estimation is held before him by the simple majesty of nature, and, surrounded by its great forms, he no longer endures the small in his way of thinking. Who knows how many luminous thoughts or heroic resolutions, which no prison study and no society saloon would have brought into the world, this courageous struggle of the soul with the great spirit of nature did not already bring forth during a walk—who knows if it is not attributed in part to a more seldom intercourse with this great genius, that the character of city dwellers turns so willingly to the paltry, stunted, and withered, when the spirit of the nomad remains as open and free as the firmament beneath which he encamps.

Not only the unattainable for the conceptual power, the sublime of quantity, but also the incomprehensible for the understanding, the confusion, can serve as a representation of the supersensuous and give the soul a buoyancy, so soon as it passes into greatness and announces itself as a work of nature (for otherwise it is contemptible). Who does not rather linger in the spirited disorder of a natural landscape, than in the spiritless regularity of a French garden? Who does not rather admire the wonderful fight between fertility and destruction on Sicily's fields, does not rather feast his eye on Scotland's wild cataracts and misty mountains, Ossian's great nature, than admire in tight-laced Holland the sour victory of patience over the most obstinate elements? No one will deny, that in Batavia's pastures better care is taken of the physical man than beneath the spiteful crater of Vesuvius, and that the understanding, which wants to comprehend and arrange, profits by a regular farm garden far more than by a wild natural landscape. But man has a further need than to live and to ensure his well-being, and even another destiny than to comprehend the phenomena round about him.

What makes the wild bizarreness in physical creation so attractive to the traveler of perception, precisely that discloses to a soul capable of inspiration, even in the dubious anarchy of the moral world, the source of a quite peculiar pleasure. Admittedly, he who enlightens the great housekeeping of nature with the needy torch of the understanding and always aims only thereat, to dissolve its bold disorder in harmony, he can not be pleased in a world where raving accident seems to rule more than a wise plan and, by far in the majority of cases, merit and fortune stand in contradiction to one another. He desires that, in the great course of the world, everything be ordered as in a good household, and does he miss this lawfulness, as it can indeed not be otherwise, so nothing remains left to him, other than to await from a future existence and from another nature the satisfaction, which remains due to him from the present and past. If, on the contrary, he willingly gives up wanting to bring this lawless chaos of phenomena under a unity of cognition, so does he amply win on another side, what he gives up for lost on this. Just this complete want of a purposeful connection among this throng of phenomena, whereby they become excessive and useless for the understanding, which must keep to this form of connection, makes it an all the more suitable symbol for pure reason, which finds its own independence of the conditions of nature represented in just this wild unboundedness of nature. For if one takes all the connections of a row of things under oneself, so has one the concept of independence, which surprisingly harmonizes with the pure reason's concept of freedom. Under this idea of freedom, which it takes from its own medium, reason therefore embraces, in a unity of thought, what the understanding can combine in no unity of cognition, submits through this idea to the infinite play of the phenomena, and asserts therefore its power at the same time over the understanding as a sensuously conditioned capacity. Does one now remember, what value it must have for a being of reason, to become conscious of his independence of natural laws, so one comprehends how it occurs that men of sublime bent of mind can hold out for compensation, through this idea offered to them of freedom, for every disappointment of cognition? Freedom, with all of its moral contradictions and physical evils, is for noble souls an infinitely more interesting spectacle than prosperity and order without freedom, where the sheep patiently follow the shepherd and the self-commanding will is degraded to the subservient part of a clockwork. The latter makes man merely into a spirited product and a more fortunate citizen of nature; freedom makes him into the citizen and co-ruler of a higher system, where it is infinitely more honorable, to occupy the nethermost place, than to command the ranks in the physical order.

Considered from this point of view, and only from this one, world history is to me a sublime object. The world, as historical object, is at bottom nothing other than the conflict of natural forces amongst one another and with the freedom of man, and history reports to us the result of this contest. So far as history has come up to now, it has far greater deeds to relate of nature (as which all emotions in man must be counted), than of the independent reason, and the latter has been able to assert its power only through single exceptions of the law of nature in a Cato, Aristides, Phocion, and similar men. Does one but approach history with great expectations of light and knowledge—how severely is one there deceived! All well-meant attempts of philosophy to bring into agreement that which the moral world demands, with that which the real affords, are disproved by the evidence of experience, and as pleasantly as nature conforms in its organic kingdom to the regulative principles of judgment or seems to conform, so ungovernably does it tear off the bridle in the kingdom of freedom, wherein it would gladly imprison the spirit of speculation.

How entirely otherwise, if one gives up explaining it, and makes thus its incomprehensibility itself the standpoint of judgment. Precisely the circumstance that nature, considered on a large scale, mocks all rules which we ascribe to it through our understanding; that in its self-willed free movement it crushes into the dust the creations of wisdom and of chance with equal heedlessness; that it sweeps away with it into one destruction the important just as the insignificant, the noble just as the common; that it preserves here a world of ants, there its glorious creation, man, it holds in its giant arms and smashes; that it often wastes its most toilsome acquisitions in a light-minded hour and often builds onto a work of folly for centuries—in a word: this defection of nature on a large scale from the rules of cognition, to which it submits in its particular phenomena, makes evident the absolute impossibility of explaining nature itself through the laws of nature and of applying to its kingdom, what applies in its kingdom and the mind is therefore driven irresistibly from the world of phenomena into the world of ideas, from the conditioned into the unconditioned.

The terrible and destructive nature leads us much further still than the sensuous-infinite, as long, namely, as we remain merely free observers of the same. The sensuous man, to be sure, and sensuousness in the rational one, fear nothing so much as to quarrel with this power, which has to rule over well-being and existence.

The highest ideal, toward which we strive, is to remain in good agreement with the physical world as the guardian of our felicity, without being compelled therefore, to break with the moral, which determines our dignity. Now, however, as everyone knows, it is not always feasible to serve both masters, and even if (an almost impossible case) duty should never come into conflict with need, so does natural necessity nevertheless enter into no agreement with man, and neither his force nor his skill can secure him against the malice of the fates. Happy is he therefore, if he has learned to endure what he can not change, and to surrender, with dignity, what he can not save! Cases can occur, where fate scales all ramparts upon which he grounded his safety, and nothing further remains left to him, than to escape into the holy freedom of the spirit—where there is no other means, than to wish to calm the instinct of life—and no other means to resist the power of nature, than to anticipate it and, through a free annulment of all sensuous interest, before a physical power does it, morally to kill the physical body.

Now sublime emotions and a frequent intercourse with destructive nature strengthen him thereto, both there, where it shows him its ruinous might merely from a distance, and also where it actually expresses it against his fellow man. The pathetic is an artificial misfortune, and like the true misfortune, it places us in direct contact with the spiritual law, that rules in our bosom. However, the true misfortune selects its man and its time not always well: it often surprises us defenseless and, what is even worse, it often makes us defenseless. The artificial misfortune of the pathetic, on the contrary, finds us in full armament, and because it is merely imagined, so the independent principle in our soul gains room, to assert its absolute independence. Now, the more frequently the mind renews this deed of self-action, the more the same becomes a skill to him, he gains an all the greater advantage over the sensuous instinct, so that he is at last able then, if from the imagined and artificial misfortune an earnest one comes, to treat it as an artificial one and—the highest swing of human nature!—to resolve the actual suffering into a sublime emotion. The pathetic, one can therefore say, is an inoculation against unavoidable fate, whereby it deprives it of its malignancy and the assault of the same is led to the strong side of man.

Therefore, away with the false understanding forebearance and the careless, overindulged taste, which throws a veil over the earnest face of necessity and, in order to place itself in the favor of the senses, invents a harmony between well-being and good conduct, of which no traces appear in the real world. Let evil destiny show itself to us face to face. Not in the ignorance of the danger surrounding us—for this must ultimately cease—only in the acquaintance with the same is there salvation for us. To this acquaintance we are now helped by the terrible, glorious spectacle of all destructive and again creative and again destructive alteration—of the now slowly undermining, now swiftly invading ruin, we are helped by the pathetical portraits of humanity wrestling with fate, of the irresistible flight of good fortune, of deceived security, of triumphant injustice, and of defeated innocence, which history establishes in ample measure and the tragic art through imitation brings before our eyes. For where were those, who, with a not entirely neglected moral predisposition, can read of the tenacious and yet futile fight of Mithridates, of the collapse of the cities of Syracuse and Carthage, and can dwell on such scenes, without paying homage to the earnest law of necessity with a shudder, momentarily reining in his desires and, affected by this eternal unfaithfulness of everything sensuous, striving in his bosom after the persevering? The ability to feel the sublime is therefore one of the most glorious predispositions in the nature of man, which, both because of its origin from the independent capacity of thinking and of the will, deserves our attention, and also because of its influence upon moral man, deserves the most perfect development. The beautiful is merely well-deserved of man, the sublime of the pure demon in him; and because it is once our determination, even in all sensuous limitations to conform to the law book of the pure mind, so must the sublime be added to the beautiful, in order to make the aesthetical education a complete whole and to enlarge the sensibility of the human heart to the entire extent of our determination, and therefore also beyond the world of sense.

Without the beautiful, there would be continual strife between our natural determination and our rational determination. On account of the endeavor, to satisfy our intellectual vocation, we would neglect our humanity and, all moments taken as departure from the world of sense, we would remain constant strangers in this sphere of activity once assigned to us. Without the sublime, beauty would make us forget our dignity. In the relaxation of an uninterrupted enjoyment, we would forfeit vigor of character and, fettered indissoluably to this accidental form of existence, lose sight of our unchangeable determination and our true fatherland. Only when the sublime is wedded with the beautiful, and our receptivity for both has been cultivated in equal measure, are we perfected citizens of nature, without for this reason being its slaves and without frittering away our rights as citizens in the intelligible world.

Now, indeed, nature already establishes for itself alone objects in quantity, in respect to which the receptivity for the beautiful and the sublime may be exercised; but man is, as in other cases, so also here, served better at second hand than at first and would prefer to receive a matter prepared and selected by art, than draw laboriously and scantily from an impure spring. The imitative creative instinct, which can endure no impression, without immediately striving after lively expression, and perceives in every beautiful or great form of nature a challenge to wrestle with it, has the great advantage over the same, to be able to treat that as main object and as a distinct whole, which nature—if it does not throw it down unintentionally—in the pursuit of an end lying near to it, takes along in passing. If nature suffers violence in its beautiful organic structures, either through the deficient individuality of the matter or through the effect of heterogeneous forces, or if it exercises violence in its great and pathetic scenes and acts as a power upon man, though it can become aesthetical only as an object of free contemplation, so is its imitator, plastic art, is fully free, because it separates all accidental limitations from its object, and leaves even the mind of the beholder free because it imitates only the appearance and not the reality. However, as the whole charm of the sublime and beautiful lies only in the appearance and not in the contents, so does art have all the advantages of nature, without sharing her fetters with her.


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