Breaking the Laws of Language

Jan Mieszkowski

in Labors of Imagination

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780823225873
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235346 | DOI:
Breaking the Laws of Language

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The doctrine of productive imagination that informs Immanuel Kant's theory of art would appear to complement his discourse on freedom, the cornerstone of the three Critiques. It is far from obvious, however, whether Kant's efforts to develop a model of practical human autonomy are in any sense “clarified” by his statement that poetry “sets the imagination free”. A great deal of scholarship on Romanticism has relied, implicitly or explicitly, on the assumption of a substantive connection between creativity and liberty—if not their outright identity—but this position is rarely evaluated by trying to use it as a vantage point from which to reread Kant's texts on ethics or epistemology. If it has become routine, for instance, to disparage Friedrich Schiller for the ideological dangers of his reductive interpretation of Kantian aesthetics, it is more difficult to show how the theory of imaginative spontaneity can support progressive political impulses.

Keywords: Immanuel Kant; theory of art; freedom; autonomy; Romanticism; aesthetics; creativity; liberty; ethics; productive imagination

Chapter.  12539 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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