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The Genealogy of the Romantic Symbol$
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Nicholas Halmi

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199212415

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212415.001.0001

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Burdens of Enlightenment

Burdens of Enlightenment

(p.27) 2 Burdens of Enlightenment
The Genealogy of the Romantic Symbol

Nicholas Halmi (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This imagined transposition of nature from nature itself to a book is analogous to the experience that Enlightenment aesthetics designated the sublime, in which, precisely by means of a subjective substitution of the phenomenal for the noumenal or the finite for the infinite. But as in the case of the sublime, Diderot's description of the Encyclopédie as a landscape could not help betraying the desire that had motivated it — a longing to reconcile anthropocentrism with the idea of ‘nature's truth’ as perspectivally neutral. This chapter argues that the Enlightenment's incomplete satisfaction of such longing would condition the Romantic theorization of the symbol.

Keywords:   symbol, Encyclopédie, Diderot, Enlightenment semiotics, aesthetics, Kant

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