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Physics as Art: Johann Wilhelm Ritter's Construction Projects

Holland, Jocelyn (2020) Physics as Art: Johann Wilhelm Ritter's Construction Projects. In: Beyond Autonomy in Eighteenth-Century British and German Aesthetics. Routledge Studies in Eighteenth-Century Philosophy. Routledge , New York, NY, Ch. 11.

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This chapter approaches aesthetic heteronomy through the work of physicist Johann Wilhelm Ritter, someone well-versed in the empirical sciences, the 'speculative physics' of Friedrich Schelling, and eighteenth-century literature. Ritter embraced the work of diverse writers, including Herder, Winckelmann, Novalis, and others, as is reflected in the concept of art articulated in his fragments, their semi-fictional preface, and the essay 'Physics as Art.' He also adapted the concept of art to numerous discourses: theories of chemistry, magnetism, medicine, and optics. To define what is uniquely heteronomous about Ritter’s own project, this essay focuses on his techniques of construction: how he orders bodies and constructs new ones, drawing from both scientific and aesthetic practices. The chapter will also show how, through the formation of new characters and symbols, readers witness the emergence of monuments. The techniques of ordering and construction in Ritter’s thinking – from the creation of temporal and conceptual sequences to the emergence of form from the printed page – illustrate an innovative and idiosyncratic model for aesthetic practice. This overdue study of Ritter’s writings on art and aesthetics supports the thesis underlying the project to reassess the rise of eighteenth-century aesthetics and argues for an aesthetic dimension to Romantic science.

Item Type:Book Section
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Holland, Jocelyn0000-0001-7812-1329
Additional Information:© 2020 Routledge.
Series Name:Routledge Studies in Eighteenth-Century Philosophy
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201111-223646727
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:106639
Deposited By: Jocelyn Holland
Deposited On:12 Nov 2020 17:17
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:55

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