Chapter

Lessing and the Reformation of Aesthetic Rationalism

Frederick C. Beiser

in Diotima's Children

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780199573011
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722202 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573011.003.0009
Lessing and the Reformation of Aesthetic Rationalism

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This chapter focuses on Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, who is considered as the last great thinker in the rationalist tradition of aesthetics. Lessing occupies a unique place in the rationalist tradition. He was its single thinker to be not only a great aesthetician but also a great writer. No one else in this tradition combined so well critical reflection on the arts with the practice of them. Lessing's work as a dramatist shaped his aesthetic thought, which in turn altered the course of the rationalist tradition. Since he saw that writers need inspiration, Lessing became more sceptical of rules, and more appreciative of genius, than most of his predecessors and contemporaries.

Keywords: Gotthold Ephraim Lessing; aesthetic rationalism; sentimentalism; ethics; Laokoon

Chapter.  18628 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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