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Schiller und die Tradition

Klaus L. Berghahn
Monatshefte
Vol. 67, No. 4 (Winter, 1975), pp. 403-416
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30165182
Page Count: 14
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Schiller und die Tradition
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Abstract

The meaning of tradition in Schiller's works is not viewed positivistically as "history of influence"; rather, Schiller's own method of mastering the past is investigated by a method based on the concept of "universal history." The philosphical premises of this method, which places the present into a dialectical relationship with the past, are examined first; then an analysis of some of Schiller's historical writings tests his method. Under this perspective, new light is shed on Schiller's treatment of Don Carlos; here Schiller reflects upon the origins of the bourgeois-republican emancipation movement in the 16th century and outlines his utopia of "reconciling the happiness of the bourgeosie with the grandeur of the princes." Schiller's optimistic view of history was abruptly shattered by the course of the French Revolution. He adopted a program of an aesthetic education of man to the changing political and social climate; art is now given the universal task of preparing the citizen for a "state of freedom." The dialectic of cultural change is explicated in Über naive und sentimentalische Dichtung. Besides the well-known typology, the essay contains an attempt to come to terms with antiquity and culminates in the thesis that "once we were nature, and by way of reason and freedom our culture will lead us back to nature." Again, Schiller deals with the past from the standpoint of his own present to make it fruitful for the future.

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