By Roland N. Stromberg
|For classes in eu highbrow background. An exploration of the foremost matters in suggestion -- from the French Revolution to Structuralism and beyond.|
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Because of a debate that arose, it must be added that Kant was evidently not an "Idealist" in the sense that some of his followers were. He does not say that reality is a creation of the mind. Things are out there, and in striking our senses they provide the indispensable, primary data of knowledge. The point is that we could not "understand" them if we did not have minds equipped with a rational structure. Kant is pointing out that the world outside must appear to us in a certain way because of the kind of mind, as well as the kind of senses, that we have.
In this his earlier preference for art may perhaps be seen continuing. Fichte and Schelling may seem to have travelled a long way from Kant, who so far as he lived to meet their ideas evidently repudiated them. But Kant had started them off. This extraordinary spate of German philosophizing concluded with the titanic figure of Hegel, consideration of whom we shall postpone for a moment. The whole of it cut a wide swath in intellectual Europe in the first half of the nineteenth century. It combined keen and searching thought with daring speculation and a good deal of moral sublimity.
They along with the poet-seer William Blake began English Romanticism in the years just before the tum of the century, but it remained obscure for some time. Blake printed his own books Songs of Innocence ( 1789) and Songs of Experience ( 1794), but they were neither noticed nor understood for a number of years. He was known slightly as designer and engraver, but evidently not at all as poet, until well into the nineteenth century. G It may be questioned, though, whether "pre-Romanticism" is a very useful concept.