The Self as Experienced Aesthetically: The Reflective Relationship between Immanuel Kant, Heinrich von Kleist, and Byung-Chul Han
journal contributionposted on 2017-12-13, 02:08 authored by Francesca Teltscher Taylor
ABSTRACT: This article discusses aesthetic reflectivity in three texts: Immanuel Kant’s Kritik der Urteilskraft, Heinrich von Kleist’s Über das Marionettentheater, and Byung-Chul Han’s Die Errettung des Schönen. By examining both cognitive and physical reflections as presented in these texts, we gain an understanding of their respective aesthetic theories. Han’s text resists Kant’s aesthetic, which features mediated self-reflection, favouring instead objective beauty. Über das Marionettentheater provides the link between these two texts by presenting, rather than advocating, both aesthetic theories. Although Kant discusses beauty and Kleist uses the term grazie, both authors concern themselves with identity formation through the process of reflection. Kleist’s text resists one discreet reading, leaving open numerous interpretative options, handing the aesthetic decision to us, the reader. His text, which features ambiguities, paradoxes, and ironies, encourages self-awareness of the reading process itself. Therefore, whilst Über das Marionettentheater can be read as an illustration of Han’s theory, it actually takes the reader through a process which is the very experience that Kant analyses.