Receptive Spirit: German Idealism and the Dynamics of Cultural Transmission

New York, NY: Fordham University Press (2016)
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Receptive Spirit develops the thesis that the notion of self-induced mental activity at the heart of German idealism necessitated a radical rethinking of humans’ dependence on culturally transmitted models of thought, evaluation, and creativity. The chapters of the book examine paradigmatic attempts undertaken by German idealist thinkers to reconcile spontaneous mental activity with receptivity to culturally transmitted models. The book maps the ramifications of this problematic in Kant’s theory of aesthetic experience, Fichte’s and Hegel’s views on the historical character of philosophy, the Fichtean model of philosophical communication, and Friedrich Schlegel’s theory and practice of literary communication and criticism. Drawing on Gadamer and McDowell, I argue that the conceptual framework established by the Idealists remains indispensable for orientation in the contemporary intellectual landscape. (See the PDF file below for a synopsis)
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