Naïve and sentimental character: Schiller’s poetic phenomenology
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Citation (published version)Daniel Dahlstrom. 2018. "Naïve and sentimental character: Schiller’s Poetic Phenomenology." Aesthetic Reason and Imaginative Freedom: Friedrich Schiller and Philosophy., pp. 110 - 121.
[Excerpt] "Poets are, by definition, “the preservers of nature,” but when they can no longer completely be so, they serve as its witnesses” and “avengers.” In the former case, they are natural; in the latter, they seek the lost nature. In the former case, they imitate what is actual; in the latter, they portray something ideal. Every poet is accordingly “either naïve or sentimental.” Even in the present day, Schiller insists, “nature is the only flame that nourishes the poetic spirit,” a spirit that gathers all its power from nature and speaks to it alone even in the case of “artificial” human beings, caught in the grip of culture (NSD, 196/432, 200f/436f). In this way Schiller distinguishes between two basic kinds of poetry and poetic genius grounded in different relationships to nature. Indeed, the development in Schiller’s thinking from the Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man to On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry is marked by the way that nature replaces reason as the center of gravity. Each form of poetry possesses a distinctive and constitutive moral dimension that is sustained by their respective relationships to nature."