E491 FRIEDRICH VON SCHILLER QUESTIONS

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Assigned: from Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man, Letters 2, 6, 9.

From Letters On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795)

1. How does Schiller define the forces he says are threatening the production and appreciation of art? (573-74)

2. Why is it necessary for Schiller to resist the "seductive temptation" of turning his letters towards political discussion? (574)

3. On 574, the sixth letter, Schiller writes that "any people caught up in the process of civilization {...} must fall away from Nature by the abuse of Reason before they can return to her by the use of Reason." How does Schiller explain this striking declaration -- why does the process of civilization first lead us away from nature? (cf. 575-78)

4. How does Schiller contrast Greek civilization with modern? (575)

5. One of Schiller's concerns is the alienation between a people and their government. How does he explain this alienation, and how does his explanation fit into his wider commentary on the risks entailed in civilization as a process? (576-77)

6. What relative criticism of Kantian philosophy does Schiller make? He obviously does not dismiss Kant, so what point is he making here -- how should we understand Kant's achievement? And in what relationship with Kantianism does Schiller place himself? (578-79)

7. Why, according to Schiller, is art the "instrument" that can restore to us "the totality of our nature" when political revolution, ethical instruction, etc., cannot serve as that instrument? (579 bottom - 580)

8. When Schiller turns to address the artist directly, how does this address diverge from Kant's interest in aesthetics? More importantly, what responsibility and potential does Schiller attribute to the maker of art and literature? (580-81)

9. How does Schiller's reference to Aeschylus' character Orestes encapsulate or complicate the artist's task as Schiller has described it? (580-81)

10. According to Schiller, what must artists avoid if they are to serve their age and their fellow citizens? (581)

11. What burdens does Schiller place upon the individual artist and his or her "genius," as well as upon art more generally, in relation to the human community? Do you think that art and artists can ever accomplish what Schiller says they can? Explain your view. (581-82, general question)

Edition: Leitch, Vincent B., ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 1st ed. New York: Norton, 2001. ISBN 0-393-97429-4.