Winckelmann's Greek Ideal and Kant's Critical Philosophy

In Daniel Dahlstrom (ed.), Kant and His German Contemporaries: Volume 2, Aesthetics, History, Politics, and Religion. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 50-68 (2018)
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Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–68) was not a philosopher. In fact, Winckelmann had a strong interest in distancing himself from academic philosophy as he knew it. As Goethe reports, Winckelmann “complained bitterly about the philosophers of his time and about their extensive influence.” Still less was Winckelmann a Kantian philosopher; the first edition of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason did not appear until 1781, thirteen years after the fifty-year-old Winckelmann was shockingly murdered in Trieste. Nevertheless, many of Winckelmann’s ideas were philosophically rich and suggestive and interestingly relevant to the philosophical problems that were later to be addressed by Kant and his philosophical contemporaries. It is no wonder, then, that Winckelmann’s influence can be detected in the works of some of the most important philosophically oriented thinkers of Germany in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In addition to Kant himself, these thinkers included Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–81), Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803), Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805), Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843), Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775–1854), and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831).
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