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Diotima's ChildrenGerman Aesthetic Rationalism from Leibniz to Lessing$
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Frederick C. Beiser

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199573011

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573011.001.0001

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Lessing and the Reformation of Aesthetic Rationalism

Lessing and the Reformation of Aesthetic Rationalism

Chapter:
(p.244) 8 Lessing and the Reformation of Aesthetic Rationalism
Source:
Diotima's Children
Author(s):

Frederick C. Beiser (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573011.003.0009

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

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