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The paper examines the political implications of Schiller's On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795). Schiller's thought has frequently been depicted as a flight from contemporary conditions of revolution and war, but his aesthetic ideas are closely connected to his assessment of political emancipation and they contribute to a new kind of republican thought. While earlier eighteenth-century republicanisms had presupposed, or attempted to enforce, homogeneity of interest among the citizen body, Schiller acknowledges modern diversity, resulting from new relationships in civil society and the division of labour. He advocates a politics of mutual recognition, compatible with modern individuality and its differentiated forms. His aesthetic approach seeks harmony through reciprocal interaction and mutual adjustment, without producing uniformity or suppressing spontaneity. This approach represents an important innovation in the republican and Kantian traditions.

Keywords: Aesthetic Education of Man; French revolution; Friedrich Schiller; Hegel; Kant; Marx; Rousseau; Scottish enlightenment; aesthetics; diversity; division of labour; freedom; modernity; republicanism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, 55 Laurier Ave. E., Ottawa, Canada, K1N 6N5., Email:

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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