Berlin and the Romantic Artist

We are following along Isaiah Berlin’s essay on Romanticism in this series, and we have reached an interesting inflection point.

Before we came to it, we were talking about things that used to be understood. Things that were common wisdom several hundred years ago. These things were not challenged, but accepted as a framework for understanding man and his role in the universe  Berlin makes the point that this understanding was that our values are externally or factually given.

But Kant and others asserted that the supreme value of man is his freedom of choice. And if man is free to choose, it is a small step to argue that choosing is the ultimate expression that man can make in life.

here we pass through the inflection point to values that we moderns accept. Freedom to express oneself, especially in the arts, is the most sublime way to life. Artists do this not be responding but by creating and implementing.

Fichte took this step — to assert that one measures the quality of people by their commitment to creativity. This takes us into some dangerous waters. That is next!


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