essay re-evaluates Schiller's idea of beauty as “freedom in appearance,” as
brought forward in his Kallias or On Beauty (1793), against the backdrop of early modern and modern thinking that
based itself on a fundamental split between nature and freedom, world and man. Schiller's claim that natural beauty results
from freedom in nature bridges this gap. His suggestion is confirmed by modern science.
Schiller's view is recommended and
defended as a way of escaping modern bigotry.
of Judgment, dualism, ethics of respect, freedom, Goethe, Hegel, Kallias or on Beauty, Kant, Letters on
the Aesthetic Education of Man, modernity, nature,
objectivity, Schiller, self-organization, subjectivism
1. Introductory considerations
a. An implicit suggestion of aesthetics in the modern
era: world connectedness, not unworldliness of man
In the first
half of the 1770s, Kant wrote a very interesting phrase: “Beautiful things indicate
that man fits into the world.” If this statement is true, then aesthetics has a
chance to gain high importance for modern thought. For aesthetics, then, has the potential to
treat and even overcome the fundamental error on which the modern and
contemporary way of thinking is based, namely the assumption that there exists
an unbridgable gap between humans and the world because they represent
completely different orders: res extensa on the part of the world; res cogitans on the part of the human.
This was indeed the fundamental novelty that developed with early modern
thought: that the world is in no way
tinted by spirit but radically mindless and determined only by extension,
matter, and purely mechanical laws, while humans were still considered to be
characterized by rationality and thinking. This resulted in an allegedly fundamental gap
between humans and the world, the notorious human-world dualism. In the face of an intrinsically
spiritless world, the human, as an intrinsically spiritual being, could only be
an unworldly being.
Due to this
putative heterogeneity between humans and the world, humans were supposed to
only be able to produce a world according to their imagination and in no way to
recognize the real world. The human
relationship to the world had to be constructivist on principle, not realistic;
just think of Kant's theoretical philosophy. Since that time, modern thought pursued a
fundamental subjectivism regardless of whether it had a transcendental or
historicist or social face. In its
standard agenda, modern philosophy acted out its subjectivist birthmark from the time of Kant through contemporary
The subterranean agenda of modern philosophy, however, consisted in overcoming
this dualism and in developing, instead of a dichotomy between humans and the world,
a new grasp of the worldliness of humans. But for a long time all attempts to achieve
this were doomed to failure. Perhaps the
transition succeeds only in our day.
apparently random discipline of philosophy, operates, if the Kantian
statement quoted at the beginning is true, in its own
way on this implicit and also extremely important task of demonstrating that humans
fit into the world. This
is what I want to make clear in the following by looking at Schiller.
b. The task of aesthetics according to Kant and how Kant failed to fulfill it because of
his subjectivist attitude
But let us
first look at Kant one more time. As I
said, pre-critical Kant had understood beauty as a phenomenon that, in contrast
to the standard view of duality, provides evidence of our congruence with the
The critical Kant, however, began elaborating the logic of dualism. In his Critique
of Pure Reason (1781), he showed that the physical world represents a
strictly lawful nexus of appearances following the principles of the pure
understanding. In his Critique of Practical Reason (1788), he
then explained how, for humans as moral beings, not this physical order but the
very different order of freedom is crucial. From this arose the big question of how these
two orders can go together, and how, in particular, acts of freedom are possible
in a deterministic world.
problem, it is obvious that the dualism of modern thought appears in concise form.
Kant tried to provide a solution in his Critique of Judgment (1790) and therefore designated this third
critique as “mediating the connection of the two parts of philosophy to a whole.”
The phenomenon of beauty, on the one
hand, and that of the organic, on the other hand, should make possible “a
transition [...] from the domain of the concepts of nature to the domain of the
concept of freedom” and thus testify that we
are entitled to assume a congruence between our rational expectations and the
structure of the world. In this way, we
should be assured that we humans are not, as the standard assumption of modern
thought stated, fundamental strangers to the world, but, as Kant had written twenty
years earlier, readily “fit into the world.”
However, the way that Kant spelled out this role of the beautiful was
unfortunate. He emphasized far too much
the subjectivity of the judgment of taste. Stressing subjectivity is generally the flaw
of his philosophical conceptions, especially of his theory of knowledge, where
all claims to objectivity are reduced to the fulfillment of subjective demands. Correspondingly, the aesthetic joy of beauty,
according to Kant, should also result solely from the fulfillment of our
general cognitive intention, which is to achieve a harmony of sensibility and
understanding. But arguing in this way, Kant obviously lost
the trait which, according to his earlier thinking, should be decisive for
beauty, that is, the experience of a congruence with the world. Beauty when construed in merely subjectivist
terms only allows for experiencing the congruence of powers of the subject, not
for experiencing a congruence with the world.
Kant generally lacks, in epistemology as in aesthetics, is a look at the origins
of our cognitive patterns. Where did we
get them from? Why are they the way they
are? The answer is not difficult. These patterns developed in the course of
evolution in alignment with the world. Therefore
the world is already inscribed in them. Consequently,
there exists a fit between these patterns and the structure of the world, and this
is the reason why beauty, being based on such patterns, lets us experience that
we “fit into the world.”
being aware of this, Kant was unable to present the beautiful as a phenomenon
that demonstrates that we fit into the world. Therefore, in its execution, the Critique of Judgment just does not
achieve what it was intended to do: exhibit
the correspondence of the human and the world.
As I have said, subjectivism is the crux of Kantian philosophy. His successors, however, have initially seen subjectivism mainly as an
achievement and not as a problem and have even increased that perspective,
especially Fichte and the early Romantics.
Only a few opposed this tendency and considered subjectivism as a half truth at
most. Paradigmatically, so did Hegel. He scolded the subjective idealism initiated
by Kant as a “flat,” “silly,” even “philistine” idealism.
Hegel's whole effort was to get beyond
this “bad idealism of modern times.” Goethe,
too, lamented in his later years: “My whole time departed from me, for it was
completely engaged in a subjective direction, whereas I, with my objective
quest, was at a disadvantage and stood completely alone.”
2. Schiller: beauty and freedom
Let us now turn to Schiller. He, too,
shared the discomfort with Kantian subjectivism; he insisted on beauty's
objectivity. Particularly interesting is
the way that Schiller tried to demonstrate this objectivity. He did so by connecting beauty to freedom. Beauty, according to Schiller, is “freedom in
appearance.” If this formula holds
water, then one can say in advance that the problem of the Critique of Judgment dissolves, for a nature that produces beauty
does itself already contains traits of freedom Hence the realization of human freedom amidst
nature is no problem at all; rather, freedom represents a continuous factor
between the world and humans. Consequently,
aesthetics can help to overcome the dead end of modern dualism.
Let us now see
in detail how Schiller made this plausible. I am referring to letters he wrote to his
friend Gottfried Körner in 1793, letters which he gave the title Kallias or on Beauty. In my opinion, the concept developed in these
letters (which unfortunately were published only much later, in 1847) is of
utmost importance, much more than the view uttered in the more famous Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man
published in 1795.
a. Regularity, freedom and beauty
First, Schiller states that we experience those natural things as beautiful
whose formation is based on a rule. When
we regard a leaf, we immediately get the impression that the manifold parts of
the leaf achieved their artful arrangement by following a rule. If this orderliness were to disappear, we
would no longer judge the leaf as beautiful. So, first, the experience of beauty is based on the impression of regularity.
Second, this rule must not be imposed on the object from the outside but stem
from the object itself. One has to have the impression that the rule
and the corresponding formation “had flown freely from the thing itself.” In this case, the object appears as
self-determined, as self-regulated, as free.
If both conditions are fulfilled, that is, if we perceive the object as
following a rule imposed by itself, then we experience the object as beautiful.
Therefore the experience of beauty
registers freedom. Beauty is a
cryptogram of freedom. Schiller's formula for this reads, “Beauty is freedom in appearance.” This formula does not have a restrictive
meaning. Schiller does not want to say
that, in the case of beauty, freedom occurs only in the improper form of a
phenomenon (whereas, in its essence, freedom is something intelligible) but that,
in an absolutely positive sense, freedom is actually appearing, is coming to
the fore, manifesting itself, becoming evident. Beauty is real experience of freedom via
It is important for Schiller that his explanation of the perception of beauty as freedom guarantees, contrary to Kant, the objectivity
of beauty. This is because the
regularity that is the testimony of freedom and simultaneously the reason of
beauty is an objective trait of the object itself, belonging to it regardless
of whether we perceive it or not. Hence it is a subject-independent, a truly
c. Freedom everywhere, or “In the aesthetic world each
natural being is a free citizen”
then, makes two moves. First, he unmasks
the experience of beauty as an experience of freedom. We call those objects beautiful that show
freedom. Second, he transfers the
character of freedom from the human sphere into the natural world; he sees that
it already occurs there. So the
experience of beauty leads us beyond anthropic strettos; freedom is by no means just a human but
already a natural phenomenon. Schiller
develops a general ontology of freedom that comprises not only the sphere of
human action but also the realm of things, of natural as well as of cultural
To quote a
longer passage: “When indeed
does one say, that a person is beautifully clothed? When neither the clothing through the body,
nor the body through the clothing, suffers anything in respect to its freedom;
when the clothing looks as if it had nothing to do with the body and yet
fulfills its purpose to the fullest. Beauty, or rather taste, regards all things as
ends in themselves and by no means tolerates that one serves the other
as means, or bears the yoke. In the
aesthetical world, every natural being is a free citizen, who has equal rights
with the most noble, and may not even be compelled for the sake of the
whole, but rather must absolutely consent to everything. In the aesthetical world, which is entirely
different from the most perfect Platonic republic, even the jacket, which I
carry on my body, demands respect from me for its freedom, and desires from me,
like an ashamed servant, that I let no one notice that it serves me. For that reason, however, it also promises me,
reciprocally, to employ its freedom so modestly that mine suffers nothing
thereby; and when both keep their word, so will the whole world say that I be
suggests, as I stated earlier, an extension of freedom. He expands its occurrence beyond human
morality to nature and artifacts. Aesthetically,
one will discover freedom everywhere: “The
taste will consider all [my emphasis]
things as ends in themselves.” The whole of nature is a realm of freedom: “Every beautiful creature of nature” is “a
lucky citizen who calls out to me: Be
free like I am.”
Freedom is already a natural phenomenon before being a human phenomenon. Accordingly, each natural being is to be
recognized and to be respected as a “free citizen.” The difference between human and nature is
not the difference between freedom and unfreedom but both possess freedom. Everything is, strictly speaking, an instance
of freedom. That freedom is not a human
privilege but already a natural fact is what the aesthetic experience discovers
and strongly recommends to take into account.
In this way,
aesthetic experience leads to an ethics of freedom. We ought to see all things as figures of
freedom and accordingly treat them with respect. Freedom is the basic character of Being. The aesthetic attitude grasps this basic
character and recommends an ethics of universal respect. Here Schiller obviously transcends occidental
limitations and advocates an ethical perspective that is better known in East Asia
(cf. Daoism and Buddhism). We ought to
treat all beings, all our natural fellow-citizens in this
world, with equal respect. Typically
enough, Schiller also reverses the occidental pattern according to which
freedom is, in the first place, one's own freedom (just remember Fichte's
conception), and only subsequently the freedom of the other, when he states: “The first law of good manners is: Spare others' freedom. The second: Show freedom yourself.” And Schiller comments, “The accurate
fulfillment of both is an infinitely difficult problem, but good manners require
it continuously, and it alone makes the accomplished man of the world.”
d. Aesthetic illusion or actual freedom?
this interpretation of Schiller, I want to address two closely related
questions. What does the philosophy of
freedom developed in the Callias Letters
look like compared to the later Letters
on the Aesthetic Education of Man? And
does Schiller really take freedom to be an objective property of natural things
(or at least of the beautiful things in nature), or does he just want us to regard them as figures of freedom,
although in reality they are not (for this cannot be claimed in a strict sense)? Is the “kingdom of taste”
sketched in the Callias letters in
the end just a realm of illusion, as is the case with the “aesthetic state”
proclaimed in the Letters on the
Aesthetic Education of Man?
The difference between the two concepts is substantial. In the Callias
Letters, Schiller does not restrict himself, as he will do in the Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man,
to the human world, and much less to “only a few select circles,” but
addresses freedom precisely insofar as it reaches beyond the human realm. And,
most importantly, he understands and recommends freedom not merely as
appearance or as a regulative idea or the like. He does not mean that one should just regard natural things as forms of
freedom, though in fact they are not. Instead,
he is convinced that everything is an
instance of freedom, and that one should take this into account.
3. Assessment of Schiller's concepts
us now turn to a critical assessment of Schiller's position.
A first question concerns Schiller's understanding of freedom. Schiller sees freedom in place wherever the
shape of a natural object is caused by a self-imposed rule. The leaf was a case in point. Is Schiller's view appropriate and sufficient?
The core of Schiller's perception of freedom is that the shape of the object is
not simply forced by external pressure, but is due to an intrinsic activity of
the object. It would surely be an
exaggeration to say that the shape results exclusively
from such activity; it goes without saying that external factors also play a
role. The decisive point is that there
exists an interaction in which the
proper shape drive of the object has its part and that this is recognizable in
the result. Schiller speaks of freedom
where such self-formation is in the game and perceptable.
With organic entities it is certainly the case that they owe their shape to
acts of self-formation. Their formation
is caused not only by external but also by internal factors; in modern
terminology, by the genome that presets
certain growth and forming steps that are then implemented in interaction with
To be sure, the individual does not invent itself from scratch but realizes the
mode of its species under given environmental conditions. But complete self-creation isn't up for debate,
anyway, when we speak of freedom. (Freedom
is not to be equated with arbitrariness or whateverism.) Moreover, the mode of the species itself has come
about in a process that involves freedom. The finally genetically anchored rules have
been developed by the species itself over time, in tune with external
conditions. In summary, both the emergence of the properties of the
species and the formation of the individual specimens of this species imply
elements of self-formation. So
Schiller's view is quite right as far as organic beings are concerned.
b. Is everything natural
Of course, this leads directly to a problem. Schiller's view of freedom can be applied to
all organic entities, but we experience only some organic beings as beautiful. If our sense of beauty were, as Schiller
suggests, generally caused by the perception of self-formation, then we would have
to experience all organic entities as beautiful. But we don't. Something seems to be wrong with Schiller's
The best answer to this objection seems to be the following. Schiller envisages a type of beauty (and
increasingly this one alone) that is essentially an indicator of freedom. All that matters to him is to discover traits
of freedom, and wherever he recognizes them he speaks of beauty. One could rate this as one-sidedness or even
idiosyncrasy, but one should also keep in mind that the concept and the sense
of beauty are not fixed per se but are culturally and historically variable. Schiller, living in the epoch of freedom and
initially enthusiastic about the French Revolution,
simply seeks freedom everywhere and makes beauty the detector of freedom. Hence he must, in order to be consistent,
regard any organic shape, if it only shows traits of self-formation, as
This is certainly a very special way of
assessing beauty but also one that can be well understood. For example, many biologists, by virtue of their
special knowledge, regard creatures as beautiful in each trait that the common
man rather discounts as ugly.
c. Self-organization and freedom in nature
Is Schiller's proposal to see elements of freedom everywhere in nature and,
therefore, to regard and treat each natural being as a free citizen, over the
top? Modern science largely proves
Schiller right. It points out that on
many levels nature exhibits traits of freedom. This is well-known at the micro level; the
quantum world is not deterministic but displays spontaneity in many aspects. The same applies at the macro level. Self-reference and self-organization, the
fundamental forms of freedom to be found in the physical world, are the most
basic principles according to which nature brings forth its structures of order, from
galaxies via organisms to social formations. Thus freedom is a fundamental and universal
principle of nature or evolution, and of cosmic as well as biotic and cultural
evolution. Schiller was utterly right in stating that
freedom is already at work in nature.
Schiller's thesis that natural freedom finds its expression in beauty is
supported by contemporary science. Scientists
have found out that prominent types of beauty are based on the fact that the
entities in question have achieved their shape through processes of
self-organization. This is the case, for example, with growth patterns
following the “golden angle,” the application of the golden section to a
circle. Examples are the scales of pine
cones or the seeds of sunflowers but also the arrangement of the eye-spots of
the peacock's fan or the structure of seashells. In such cases, our sense of
beauty responds to self-similarity that results from feedback processes and
thus is a detector of self-organization.
So Schiller's theory is confirmed by contemporary science; beauty is a
result of self-organization. In summary, Schiller is not only right in stating
that freedom is at work already in nature but equally
justified in his claim that aesthetics can serve as a guidepost to this fact.
d. Schiller's conception of
aesthetics surpasses the modern, dualistic way of thinking
us finally return to the initial deliberations. Aesthetics, I said, is capable of curing the
basic error of the modern way of thinking, which is the strict opposition of humans
and the world resulting from an allegedly fundamental ontological disparity of
the two. In the meantime, we have seen how
Schiller's aesthetics, as outlined in the Callias
Letters, does provide a resolution. It overcomes modern dualism by showing that
nature is not simply deterministic but includes phenomena of freedom, and thus
is not categorically opposed to the realm of human freedom but open to it.
Schiller outlines, from an aesthetic point of view, a monism of freedom instead
of the modern dualism. If the world already
bears dimensions of freedom, then man must not confront the world as a stranger
but can, as Schiller says, welcome and respect natural things as equal
citizens, as kindred instances of freedom that conversely call out to
him, “Be free like I am.” Then the
opposition of man and world has been overcome, and we humans can move forward in
alliance with our natural fellow-citizens.
Professor emeritus, was Professor of Philosophy at a number of German and
international universities (Berlin, Jena, Stanford, Emory) and received the Max
Planck Research Award in 1992. His main fields of research are: epistemology
and anthropology, theory of evolution, philosophy of culture, aesthetics and
art theory, contemporary philosophy, Aristotle, and Hegel. In recent
publications he has developed a strictly evolutionary conception of the human,
comprising both biological and cultural evolution. He has published twelve
books and edited eight.
Published on May 23, 2014.
 “Die Schöne Dinge zeigen an, dass der Mensch in die Welt
passe” (Immanuel Kant,
‛Reflexionen zur Logik,’ Akademie-Ausgabe, Berlin: Reimer, 1914, XVI, 127 [Nr. 1820 a]). According to Adickes, this reflection dates
from 1771–72, or perhaps from 1773–75.
Cf. my recent publications: Blickwechsel – Neue Wege der Ästhetik (Stuttgart: Reclam, 2012), Mensch und Welt. Eine evolutionäre Perspektive der Philosophie
(München: Beck, 2012), Homo mundanus – Jenseits der anthropischen
Denkform der Moderne (Weilerswist, Velbrück Wissenschaft, 2012).
 Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment , trans. Werner S.
Pluhar (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987), p. 15.
 “[...] the way of presenting [which occurs] in a
judgment of taste is to have subjective universal communicability without
presupposing a determinate concept; hence this subjective universal
communicability can be nothing but [that of] the mental state in which we are
when imagination and understanding are in free play (insofar as they harmonize
with each other as required for cognition
in general). For we are conscious
that this subjective relation suitable for cognition in general must hold just
as much for everyone, and hence be just as universally communicable, as any
determinate cognition, since cognition always rests on that relation as its
subjective condition. “Now this merely
subjective (aesthetic) judging of the object, or of the presentation by which
it is given, precedes the pleasure in the object and is the basis of this
pleasure, [a pleasure] in the harmony of the cognitive powers” (ibid., p. 62 [B 29, § 9].
 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften
im Grundrisse I , Werke,
vol. 8 (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1986), p. 123 [§ 46]; Hegel, Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie
III [Vorlesungen 1816–1832], Werke,
vol. 20 (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1986), 385; Hegel, Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Religion II [Vorlesungen 1821–1831], Werke, vol. 17
(Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1986), p. 445.
über die Geschichte der Philosophie I [Vorlesungen 1816–1832], Werke, vol. 18
(Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1986), p. 405;
vgl. ibid., p. 440.
 Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Sämtliche Werke nach Epochen
seines Schaffens (Münchner Ausgabe), eds. Karl Richter et al., vol. 19: Johann
Peter Eckermann, Gespräche mit Goethe in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens,
ed. Heinz Schlaffer (Munich: Hanser,1986), 101 [14. April 1824].
 For the English translation of Schiller's text, I have, where
possible, with occasional corrections, used the selection by William F. Wertz,
Jr. published in Fidelio, vol. I, no.
4, Winter 1992; otherwise it is my own translation. Credits refer to the following German edition
of the text: “Kallias oder Über die Schönheit.
an Gottfried Körner”, in: Friedrich
Schiller, Sämtliche Werke, vol. 5, eds. Gerhard Fricke and Herbert G.
Göpfert (Munich: Hanser, 61980),
Cf. Friedrich Schiller, “Kallias oder Über die Schönheit. Briefe an Gottfried Körner”, l.c., 410 [Letter from
February 23, 1793].
 It must be a
rule, “which it [the natural
entity] has imposed on itself” (ibid., p. 417).
 The impression that the formation of the object
follows a self-imposed rule leads “quite necessarily to the idea of internal
determination, i.e. freedom” (ibid., p. 410). The object “compels” us to “be attentive to its property of not being determined
from the outside” (ibid., p. 409).
 “[...] the objective trait that enables things to appear as free
is precisely what, when present, provides them with beauty and, when absent,
destroys their beauty” (ibid., p. 408).
 “So Beauty
is nothing other than freedom in appearance” (ibid., p. 400 [Letter from February
8, 1793]. “The reason of beauty
is everywhere freedom in appearance” (ibid., 411 [Letter from February 23, 1793].
 By the way, Schiller too (as for Kant), it is first
of all natural beauty that matters, not the beauty of art. The latter one “demands its very own chapter”
(ibid., p. 416).
 Schiller emphasizes that “this
nature and this heautonomy are objective qualities of the objects to which I
ascribe them; because they remain theirs, even if the representing subject is
completely subtracted. The difference
between two beings of nature, of which the one is total shape and shows a
perfect domination of the living force about the mass, while the other one has
been subjugated by its mass, remains, even after complete suspension of the
judging subject “ (ibid., p. 416
 Ibid., 420
f.. Schiller continues: “If the jacket strains, on the other hand, then
do we both, the coat and I, lose our freedom. For this reason do all quite tight and quite
loose kinds of clothing have equally little beauty; for not considering,
that both limit the freedom of movements, so the body in tight clothing shows
its figure only at the expense of the clothes, and with loose clothing the coat
conceals the figure of the body, in that it blows itself up with its own figure
and diminishes its master to its mere bearer” (ibid., p. 421).
 In the wake of Kant, Schiller says though, “that no
thing in the sensual world really possesses freedom,
but only apparently does so” (ibid., p.
409). But he nevertheless pleads for the
objectivity of beauty, and his argument runs as follows: “[...] how can one
look for an objective reason for this idea in the phenomena? This objective reason would have to consist in
a quality of the phenomena that absolutely compels
us to bring forth the idea of freedom in us and to refer it to the object” (ibid.). So Schiller is looking for a path towards the
objectivity of beauty unimpaired by Kantian objections.
 Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of
Man in a Series of Letters, trans. R. Snell (Bristol: Thoemmes, 1994), 27th Letter, p. 137.
27th Letter, p. 140.
 In 1792, the
French National Assembly
even granted Schiller the honorary
 Similarly, his aesthetic account of artifacts is
governed by the perspective of freedom. A jacket is, as we saw, aesthetically right,
when it both possesses and grants freedom.
 Consider also that evolution is on principle not
deterministic but a process that implies freedom. It finds or generates a response via
manifold differentiations and modes of self-reference. Ultimately, even the laws of nature as we know
them today might be not of universal validity but results of the evolution of
our cosmos (cf. Wolfgang Welsch, Homo mundanus, loc. cit., pp. 855–857).
Cf. on the following: Wolfgang Welsch, “Zur universalen Schätzung
des Schönen”, in Blickwechsel – Neue Wege
der Ästhetik (Stuttgart: Reclam,
2012), pp. 292–330.
Cf. Friedrich Cramer, Chaos und Ordnung: Die komplexe Struktur des
Lebendigen (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt,1989), pp. 195–202. Ebenso:
Friedrich Cramer and Wolfgang Kaempfer, Die
Natur der Schönheit: Zur Dynamik der
schönen Formen (Frankfurt/Main: Insel,
1992), pp. 264–283.
 Here is a passage where
Schiller makes clear that seemingly purely aesthetic categories make proper
sense only as categories of natural pattern formation: “Convenience, order, proportion, perfection –
qualities in which one believed to have found the beauty for so long – have
absolutely nothing to do with it. Where,
however, order, proportion, etc. belong to the nature of a thing, as in the
case of anything organic, there they are eo
ipso invulnerable, not for their own sake, but because they are inseparable
from the nature of the thing. A gross
violation of proportion is ugly, but not because perception of proportion is
beautiful. Absolutely not, but because
it is a violation of nature that indicates heteronomy” (Schiller, “Kallias oder Über die Schönheit”, l.c., p. 419
f. [Letter from February 23, 1793]).
the Romantic period to contemporary philosopher John McDowell, it was assumed
that, after the early and late modern mechanistic degradation of nature, we need a "re-enchantment of
nature." Only then can spirit and
nature be reunified. This re-enchantment
was expected from religion, philosophy, literature, and new mythologies. But it failed to appear. Hence people currently still complain that
this desideratum is unfulfilled and that we are stuck in the age-old plight. But those who talk like that must have
overslept the insights of recent science. Only this can explain such an unawareness that
this "re-enchantment" has long since occurred, just not by the
instances one had banked on but, of all things, by the instance from which one
had not expected anything good and which,therefore, one ignored: contemporary science. This one gave us, in fact, a wonderful
equivalent of "re-enchantment," namely a scientific view of nature
offering everything one can wish for in order to get beyond the old mechanism
and dualism. In this essay, I have tried
to show how Schiller's aesthetic conception provided good means for
 If Kant had understood
nature this way, he could have saved his third critique.