The Problem of Individuality in Hermann Cohen’s Aesthetics

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Abstract

Franz Rosenzweig devoted particular attention to the problem of individuality in Hermann Cohen’s philosophy. He writes that, in comparison with the individuality of the man of religion, “the human being about which aesthetics knew [...] fades now in all its aesthetic individuality to a ‘mere type’”. This statement is actually based on Cohen’s writings: in Ästhetik des reinen Gefühls (1912), Cohen explicitly maintains that the human being that is the object of artistic representation is not a type, but rather an individual. Just three years later, however, in his first book about philosophy of religion, Der Begriff der Religion im System der Philosophie (1915), Cohen states that the human being that is represented by art is not really an individual; only the man of religion is really individual; the human being represented by art is merely a type. In this paper my aim is to argue for the thesis that these opposite statements belong to different points of view. From an aesthetic point of view the human being represented by art has to be considered as truly individual, but the systematic overview adopted in Der Begriff der Religion can teach us that the individuality of the human being represented by art can’t be maintained from a different point of view than the aesthetic one.

About the authors

Ezio Gamba

Theological University of Northern Italy - Turin Campus

Email: eziogamba@vodafone.it
Via XX Settembre, 83, I-10122, Turin , Italy

References

  1. Rosenzweig F., Einleitung. In: Cohen H. Jüdische Schriften. Vol. I: Ethische und religiöse Grundfragen, ed. B. Strauß. Berlin: C.A. Schwetschke & Sohn; 1924. P. XIII-LXIV.
  2. Rosenzweig F., Einleitung. In: Rosenzweig F. Der Mensch und sein Werk. Gesammelte Schriften. Vol. III: Zweistromland. Kleinere Schriften zu Glauben und Denken, ed. R. Mayer and A. Mayer. Dordrecht, Boston, Lancaster: Martinus Nijhoff; 1984. P. 177-223.
  3. Cohen H. Der Begriff der Religion im System der Philosophie. Gießen: Töpelmann; 1915. Anastatic reprint Hildesheim et al.: Olms; 1996.
  4. Cohen H. Die dramatische Idee in Mozarts Operntexten. Berlin: Bruno Cassirer; 1916.
  5. Cohen H. Die dramatische Idee in Mozarts Operntexten. In: Cohen H. Werke. vol. 17: Kleinere Schriften 6: 1916-1918, ed. H. Wiedebach. Hildesheim et al.: Olms; 2002. P. 1-108.
  6. Cohen H. System der Philosophie. Dritter Teil: Ästhetik des reinen Gefühls. 2 Vols. Berlin: Bruno Cassirer; 1912. Anastatic reprint Hildesheim et al.: Olms; 1982.
  7. Cohen H. System der Philosophie. Erster Teil: Logik der reinen Erkenntnis. 2nd ed. Berlin: Bruno Cassirer; 1914. Anastatic reprint Hildesheim et al.: Olms; 1977.
  8. Cohen H. Werke. Supplementa. Vol. I: Reflexionen und Notizen, ed. H. Wiedebach. Hildesheim et al.: Olms; 2003.

Copyright (c) 2019 Gamba E.

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