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date: 24 August 2019

Gottsched, Johann Christophlocked

(b Königsberg, Feb 2, 1700; d Leipzig, Dec 12, 1766).
  • Howard Caygill

Extract

(b Königsberg, Feb 2, 1700; d Leipzig, Dec 12, 1766).

German philosopher. He was the first of the philosophers influenced by Johann Christian von Wolff (1679–1754) to establish a place in Wolff’s system for the fine arts. He attended the universities of Königsberg and Leipzig in the early 1720s, where he wrote theses on Wolffian topics. In 1730 he published his enormously influential Versuch einer critischen Dichtkunst. This essay brings together traditional poetics, the theory of taste and Wolffian philosophy. Although he employed the traditional framework of commenting on Horace’s Ars poetica, Gottsched focused on the relation between taste and perfection: perfection is rational, the unity of a manifold, but may be ‘obscurely perceived’ by taste. His relaxation of the stern rationalism of Wolff was insufficient for the Zurich critics Bodmer and Breitinger, generating a controversy that rumbled on into the 1750s. It was also unacceptable to the later generation of romantic aestheticians, notably Goethe, who found his compromise between the rules of art and the demands of taste still too restrictive....

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