Symbol and Intuition
Comparative Studies in Kantian and Romantic-Period Aesthetics

Edited by Helmut Hühn and James Vigus

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
German writer
 8 other titles

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
English poet
 1 other title

 9 other titles

Legenda: Oxford, 2013
£55.00 ($99.00 US)  Hardback  228pp
ISBN: 978-1-907625-04-6

That a symbolic object or work of art participates in what it signifies, as a part within a whole, was a controversial claim discussed with particular intensity in the wake of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment. It informed the aesthetic theories of a constellation of writers in Jena and Weimar around 1800, including Moritz, Goethe, Schelling and Hegel. Yet the twin concepts of symbol and intuition were not only tools of literary and mythological criticism: they were integral even to questions of epistemology and methodology in the fields of theology, metaphysics, history and natural philosophy. The international contributors to this volume further explore how both the explanatory potential and peculiar dissatisfactions of the symbol entered the Anglo-American discourse, focusing on Coleridge, Crabb Robinson and Emerson. Contemporary debates about the claims of symbolic as opposed to allegorical art are kept in view throughout.

Helmut Hühn is Lecturer in Philosophy at the Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena, where he directs the Research Unit European Romanticism and Schiller’s Gardenhouse; he is a co-editor of the Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie (Schwabe, 1971-2007).

James Vigus is Lecturer in English at Queen Mary, University of London; his books include Platonic Coleridge (Legenda, 2009) and the critical edition Henry Crabb Robinson: Essays on Kant, Schelling and German Aesthetics (MHRA, 2010).

With the contributions:

Helmut Hühn, James Vigus — Introduction
Stephan Meier-Oeser — Kant’s Transformation of the Symbol-Concept
Jane Kneller — ‘Mere Nature in the Subject’: Kant on Symbolic Representation of the Absolute
Jutta Heinz — ‘Neither mere allegories nor mere history’: Multi-layered Symbolism in Moritz’s Andreas Hartknopf
Helmut Hühn — Comparative Morphology and Symbolic Mediation in Goethe
Jan Urbich — Friedrich Schlegel’s Symbol-Concept
Cecilia Muratori — Bread, Wine and Water: Hegel’s Distinction between Mystical and Symbolical in The Spirit of Christianity and Its Fate
James Vigus — ‘All are but parts of one stupendous whole’? Henry Crabb Robinson’s dilemma
James Vigus — The Spark of Intuitive Reason: Coleridge’s ‘On the Prometheus of Aeschylus’
Jeffrey Einboden — Emerson’s Exegesis: Transcending Symbols
Temilo Van Zantwijk — Pointing at hidden things: Intuition and Creativity
Gottfried Gabriel — Aesthetic Cognition and Aesthetic Judgment
Nicholas Halmi — Afterword


  • ‘Skilfully planned and structured, the volume offers original research on less familiar material while it lucidly covers most of the essential formulations of the symbol from the late eighteenth century onwards, thus speaking to readers of different backgrounds... It is Hühn and Vigus’s broad conception of the subject that ensures the collection’s originality and secures its unique place among the increasing studies of the symbol.’ — Stephanie Dumke, Angermion 7, 2014, 191-93
  • ‘This rich volume successfully inducts its readers into key aesthetic-philosophical debates around 1800, while at the same time breaking new ground by extending our understanding of the variations and functions of ‘symbol’ and ‘intuition’ within the works of individual writers and thinkers. It also makes meaningful comparisons and connections between texts that have not been discussed together before. The editors have drawn together a wide range of international scholars from the fields of German, English, and philosophy into a timely discussion.’ — James Hodkinson, Modern Language Review 110.3, July 2015, 786-88


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